Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Answer to the Laundromat Blues, blues story-telling at its finest

I've been listening to the late Albert King for a while and he just never gets old. He was a pioneer of electric blues, string bending, and all around kick-ass lyrics. King almost always played with a horn section while he rocked alongside on his flying V electric guitar. He can always make me feel better when I'm feeling down with songs like, "I'll play the blues for you"

Some of his stuff is laugh out loud funny though, like "Answer to the Laundromat Blues". The song consists of King complaining about how some women take so long to wash their clothes at the laundromat and then they slip out the back, probably to mess around. Sounds like a pretty personal gripe. I don't have any experience with that problem but I'll bet it's annoying and King says men in the audience should solve it by buying all their women their own washers and dryers and putting them in the basement and that if they don't hurry up they should knock the door down. Then he says how he'll "whoop her" and if she's too fast to catch he'll "whoop her on the feet". Funny concept for a song. Don't send me hate mail telling me the song is misogynist because I won't reply. Just listen and enjoy some fine blues music. Here's a sample of the song, I couldn't find King's version on Youtube.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Track of the week: People Will Never Stop Being Crazy by Benjamin Wesley

I saw that this guy, Benjamin Wesley, was performing a free concert at Walter's on Washington this coming Wednesday and since you never get any more for your money than when something is free I decided to check him out; maybe it's just the cheapskate in me. I saw that he had an album on iTunes called Geschichte (which basically means story, in German) and went out on a limb as I often do, after hearing a couple thirty second samples that I liked, and bought the entire six song EP (or it could be an LP, you'd have to ask Ben). Well at any rate, it definitely feels organized enough to be an LP and upon listening a few times I was very impressed.

Songs like "intro" take cold, jerky, electronic samples and inject into them new life as Wesley sings behind them in a tortured, gruff, and passionate voice. In other songs he uses what at first sounds like wonky, overly-stiff, electronic drum samples against traditional guitar driven rock but after some listening you'll realize that these samples are extremely carefully placed and are probably even more calculated than the playing of a normal drummer. He integrates tasteful, subtly placed, synths in the background of his guitar playing and dramatic drumming in most songs. The effect is a bricolage of different sounds that work together beautifully. I think the song that best illustrates this process on the album is "People Will Never Stop Being Crazy". The words sound like details from the life of a dysfunctional yet optimistic person trying to make it through the day with lyrics like "staring at the clouds not best while you're driving...but neither is that whiskey in your coffee".

The overall effect reminds me of the acts Slow Runner and Mobius Band. I'm sure most of you have never heard of those guys but they employ the same mix of traditional and electronic music that Wesley does but that's another review for another day. . .

Unfortunately, I just realized that this show was on the 24th of March and I missed it. Oh well, he's local. I'm sure I can catch him again and when I do I'll let y'all know.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New LCD Soundsystem single(s)

New York City's favorite, trendy, sophisticated, electronic band, LCD Soundsystem, fronted by James Murphy, has just put out a new single and it's making me excited because I think it might be foreshadowing the release of an upcoming album. Judging by the band's Facebook updates, they were recording earlier this year so hopefully this new single means the new LP is just around the corner. The single is called "Drunk Girls" and is a dancy, pop-length track written in Murphy's words about "drunk people and fun things and the fact that all of the boys of the L.A. mansion we recorded at were called 'the girls' by our chef. We were the ladies of the mansion" (courtesy of the pitchfork article). It doesn't blow me away or anything but it's definitely worthy of LCD Soundsystem's discography and should make a nice part of the so far unnamed new LP. It's got some of the entertaining, analytical, people-watching, type lyrics that I love to hear from Murphy but I bet the rest of the album will be even more compelling.

As I was writing this entry I found another new LCD Soundsystem single contained in the same article. It's repititive, fun, and reminds me of funky jams like "Us V. Them" from their latest album Sound of Silver from 2007. It's called pow pow.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

mp3/CD Review: Life of Leisure EP by Washed Out


I'm probably going to see the indie-rock band Beach House next month. They're good at writing dreamy, atmospheric stuff and I'm sure they'll be a fun show. When I was checking the dates for the show I noticed that a band called Washed Out was announced to open for them. I knew they weren't local and I hadn't heard of them so I bought the band's, who turned out to be just one guy from North Carolina, debut "Life of Leisure" EP and I was blown away.

Washed Out is a perfect act to open for Beach House which falls into a genre called dreampop because of the shimmery, surreal, textures they use in their music and Washed Out seems to from a similar school even though he's more dependent on electronic beats and samples than traditional rock instruments. I heard one reviewer compare his stuff to a sort of modern interpretation of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark and I can totally hear that because Washed Out's music is definitely dreamy but still falls composition and length wise into pop structure.
I kind of hear echoes of some of Cut Copy's stuff in his music which is a great compliment coming from me because I freaking love Cut Copy. If you haven't heard of Cut Copy they're a poppy, Australian, electronic-themed rock band that just makes me want to dance. Like I said about Beach House, Cut Copy is more rock than electronic but the two bands definitely have things in common.

Here's a good song by Cut Copy:

Washed Out has caught the attention of Pitchfork magazine making the top on hundred list with the song "Feel it all around":

The entire EP is filled with songs of a similar style: sample-laden, enveloping, enthralling electronic pop music filled with echoey vocals and infectious beats. At a length of only six songs, some of my favorite tracks are Hold Out, New Theory, and Get Up. I can't wait to see him live and am eagerly waiting for a longer EP sometime in the future.



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Freelance Frauds

Before I start off I'm going to let you all know that I wasn't lucky enough to attend any of the concerts at SXSW but I did watch a taped performance of one band who played and it provided my fianceé and me with endless amusement.

My future wife, her little sister, and I decided to spend a weekend in rural Austin and go fishing on Lake Travis but cold temps and high winds hampered those plans. We kind of toyed with the idea of going down to sixth street to catch some of the free shows but given the weather and crowds we decided that would be a bad plan. On Friday night Rachael and I were sitting on the couch after her grandparents (whose house we were staying at, in Lakeway for those you familiar with Austin) went to bed and were watching some reruns of SXSW shows on the TV that had taken place earlier in the week.

The first band we watched made us laugh incessantly at their heavy-handed use of indie-rocker clichés like slightly discordant group harmony and thick framed glasses. The music they played was boring and self-indulgent stuff that I think I could have written in an hour if I really focused but from their behavior and how seriously they appeared to take themselves you'd think they were playing the Brandenburg Concerto. The band members faces were painted with affected grimaces of "ooh look I'm an artist!!!" and the lead vocalist's motions were jerky and twitchy giving the appearance of a long duration but low-intensity, grand mal seizure (if that image makes any sense to your brain). I don't mind erratic dancing during a performance and often times it can really add to the experience (e.g. the crazy but undeniably cool "dead fly dance" that Ian Curtis would engage during Joy Division performances). If the dancing is filled with pathos and feeling it doesn't matte how strange it is because the dancer is showing us that he's got soul and that's he's become a conduit for the music him and his band are playing (I'm not going to try to impress and libs with gender-neutral pronouns). However, the frontman of Freelance Whales did this sort of weird, unsettling, bouncy, bobbing movement that made me think he was trying way too hard. The singing didn't make me want to excuse his annoying behavior either; just like Owl City the lead vocals seemed to be modeled directly after Ben Gibbard's work in the Postal Service. I'm not knocking Gibbard. I love Deathcab and the Postal Service. I just am sick of hearing people rip him off and rip him off in such an unoriginal way. I mean imitation is flattery but it's not very flattering here.

The other thing Freelance Whales did to arouse my musical ire was how they went out of their way to play unconventional instruments for no reason whatsoever. My favorite instances of this was how the frontman had a banjo over his shoulder for a whole song and played all of four notes on the thing. That's a tactic invented to remove the panties of fawning, art-school, hipster girls who will fuck anything wearing horn-rimmed glasses. The technique was repeated with all sorts of instruments including a weird accordion thing (I'm ashamed, being a musician, for not knowing what it's called) where the person playing it used it to produce annoyingly long, superfluous, multi-measure, whole notes that had no place.

If you look up "trying too hard" in the dictionary you're sure to find "Freelance Whales" somewhere on the page. If you think I'm being too mean then I want you to see them live too and tell me they don't look like a bunch of stupid hipster pricks trying to make some money of off their stupid hipster fan base. They're an embodiment everything that's wrong with indie-rock music. I mean their music isn't terrible but I guess when you add in the starving artist, hipster aesthetic, uninspired vocals, and a bunch of stereotypes that's when I get turned off.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

CD/mp3 Review: Elephants EP by Warpaint

I saw Warpaint a few weeks ago and I plan to see them again on the ninth of April at Mangos in Houston because their show with Akron/Family was so excellent. I have a copy of their Exquisite Corpse LP from 2009 but unfortunately that's back at my dorm room and I'm on spring break so I'll review that one later and for now I'll review their little Elephants EP that came out more recently, in March of 2010. There are two songs on the EP. Both are alternate versions of songs "Krimson" and "Elephants" off of the band's Exquisite Corpse LP.

Elephants starts off with a quiet, whimsical, lead guitar riff accented by soft singing and then crescendos into a flurry of high-hat rattling drumming, and intense distorted guitars and eerie cavernous reverb. The opening lyrics are more than a little sad: "I will break your heart to keep you from where all dangers start". The words are a melancholic refusal to risk the "danger" of trying to forge relationships and for some reason remind me of the lamentation of failed relationships in the Joy Division song "Means to and End": "I put my trust in you...in you". The dark, atmospheric, and deeply moving music coupled with these contemplative lyrics is a great gift to Warpaint fans eagerly awaiting the band's next full album.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Avi Buffalo/Rogue Wave play at Warehouse Live, Houston


Before I start this review I want to apologize to the fellow who opened before Avi Buffalo because I really enjoyed his performance but did not hear his name. I even have some video of his performance during which he played guitar, sang, and played drums
at the same time! Excellent showing, I just missed his name and it wasn't on the bill so once I do find out for sure who he is I'll post a correction and try to review something of his.

The mild-mannered, pompaoured, mystery musician played a couple quiet yet satisfying, acoustic/electric songs that I'll talk about in a later entry when I get myself a little better acquainted with his work. Then Avi Buffalo came on.

I won't pretend to be very familiar Avi Buffalo before I saw them. All I knew was that they were signed to Sub-Pop which is a good sign given the number of bands I like on the label; but that was all I knew. Apparently it was their inaugural Texas show, them being from California. The first song they played made me a little nervous because the vocals were very high and eccentric but I got used to that pretty fast. I don't know why I was ever worried because I love eccentric stuff. The guitar playing was done through some sort of unique effects unit that I wanted to ask the frontman about but decided not to because I didn't want to come off as some sort of annoying groupie-freak and they were in a rush to get off the stage for Rogue Wave. The combination of keys and tastefully affected guitar playing made for an extremely enjoyable set that never bored me for a second. The songs in themselves were immersive and catchy but I was particularly drawn to the lead guitarist/vocalist. Man that guy can play guitar. I'm still getting acquainted with Avi Buffalo but here are a few videos of them at Warehouse.
video



video

As Rogue Wave set up I hovered at the edge of the stage observing their effects pedals and other gear and noticed a few Digitech Whammys. I hope I don't bore anyone talking about this but the Whammy is one of my favorite effects units because of the unique sounds it makes. It has a depressible pedal like a wah effect but what it does is radically boost or lower the pitch of the tone depending on where the pedal is moved. It can be used subtly for a whammy bar type pitch shifting or octave type effects. It gets used a lot by Jack White and for those of you not familiar with his work I'm sure you've all heard the song "Icky Thump" which has an intense guitar solo that is played through the Whammy boosting the tone to very high, screaming pitches, that are impossible to achieve otherwise. I had a veritable gear-gasm.

Anyway, I digress. While I looked at the stage I spied a setlist tape to the ground beneath the keyboard rig at the end of the stage and all the songs on the list made me smile (eyes, lake Michigan, Harmonium etc.) They opened with an energetic number I hadn't heard before called "Stars and Stripes"


video

I knew they'd come out with a new album in early March (Permalight) but didn't get the chance to look it over before the show. Sometimes it's better that way because I don't get hung up on trying to guess all the titles and can just stand back and enjoy the music for what it is.

The frontman, Zach Schwartz, played rhythm guitar and sang (occasionally played accompanying keyboards) while Dominic East played lead for most songs and sang. Pat Spurgeon (brave fighter of some serious health problems) played drums while other band members joined him for an entertaining group drum solo at one point:
video


Newer members Cameron Jasper and Steve Taylor, playing bass and keys respectively, both joined Rogue Wave in 2009. The most electrifying performance besides Zach Schwartz came from Dominic East on lead guitar who had an infectious grin on his face the entire show, a propensity for dancing around: he just simply oozed energy. During the song "We will make a song destroy" East started a group clap that really added to the song and made it that much better along with Schwartz's primal, chugging, guitar playing at the chorus:



video

Like usual, I'm not going to give you the whole set list but the some of the most memorable songs were: Stars and Stripes, Bird on a wire, We will write a song destroy, Lake Michigan, eyes, Harmonium, and Permalight. Harmonium has always been one of my favorite songs with its explosive high-hat-rattling intro which I captured on my iPhone:


video

They closed with an awesome rendition of the title track from "Permalight" during which the two opening bands jumped up on stage with Rogue Wave to form an impromptu dance party.

I was totally impressed by all the bands and hope I can see them again in the future.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CD/mp3 Review: A Brief History of Love by the Big Pink


I'd never heard of these guys before but I was looking through some concert listings and I saw their name and when I read "Big Pink" I thought it might have been a "The Band" cover band (their debut album was called "Music from the Big Pink") but what I found was a new and interesting shoe-gaze/electronic band from England.

Just for anyone who might not know that much about noise-rock or shoe-gaze these two genres are characterized by their use of feedback and feedback like textures as either the lead instrument or as ambience in a band's songs. Shoe-gaze is more traditional than noise-rock which sometimes can be atonal and really out there; shoe-gaze takes its name from the habit of musicians of the genre (like My Bloody Valentine) to gaze, during shows, at the large number of effects pedals at their feet. Shoe-gaze makes use of lots of different echo, delay, flange, chorus, and phaser effects to distort keyboard, vocal, guitar, and bass tones creating an immersive soundscape that can sound even psychedelic at times. The first of these genres (noise-rock) is more likely to eschew traditional pop music structures and instruments while the second (shoe-gaze) often relies mostly pop time signatures, song lengths, and chords in conjunction with lots of effects.

The music arrangement of The Big Pink is pretty traditional, using standard tonality, but relies less on guitars than say a shoe-gaze band like My Bloody Valentine would and instead uses organ, keyboard, and sampled textures along with electronic drum beats. I'd say that the band is of the electronic genre but with a strong shoe-gaze influence. Now that I've gone through my snobbish genre explanation I'll proceed to the actual content of the album.

Though most of the songs on the album are solid, accessible, tracks, I'm impressed with the amount of experimentation that goes on. "Introduction to Awareness" for example, relies on a repetitive bass-line, tambourine, interesting but not distracting feedback tones, and spacey almost incomprehensible vocals punctuated by a hypnotic organ-like an accompaniment. If the instrumentation were different, this track could find itself right at home in the 60s along with the likes of the Velvet Underground. It's experimental without being self-indulgent and makes order out of what must sound from the list, a series of chaotic sounds. But then you have several tracks like "At War with the Sun", "Dominos", "Count backwards from Ten" (perhaps my favorite track of the entire album), and "Velvet" (which won the band some critical acclaim from Pitchfork) scream complete accessibility for anyone looking to jump into shoe-gaze.

I love everything about this album and am going to cut my review off here since I could go on gushing about how much I liked it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dick Dale at the Houston House of Blues!

I've talked a little about Dick Dale before in another entry but just a little refresher for those of you who missed it, Dick Dale is a guitarist and songwriter who pioneered the playing style/genre of surf-guitar: a style characterized by tremolo picking, exotic scales, and rich fender spring reverb. The man was the first to use one-hundred watt amplification and was also influential in American pop music during a time when most American artists were simply trying to copy the music of British Invasion bands. Here's an example of little ditty he wrote in the 50s and played last night at the show called "Mr. Peppermint Man":


He walked the line between pop and experimentation. Along with standard catchy pop tunes he also wrote a number of virtuosic guitar driven songs like "the wedge" and "Misirlou" (both of which were played last night).


Miserlou^

The Wedge^





He started in the 50s and has been extremely active ever since. Here are some of his more current songs:

One of my favorite newer Dick Dale songs, "Esperanza"^


Nitro^

During the show he performed these along with many surf-guitar covers adapted to fit the constraints of his signature and they were so incredible. Some of these include surf versions of "Ghost Riders in the Sky", "Fever", "House of the Rising Sun", and "Hava Nagilia". He even played drums, trumpet, and a bass with drumsticks proving that even at 72 he's still an incredible showman and performer. He took lots of opportunities to talk to us, tell stories, and I never got the feeling that he was watching the clock if you know what I mean. He even closed the show with a moving and patriotic rendition of amazing grace dedicated it to the troops overseas.

I even got an autograph from Dick after the show. He started signing autographs literally as soon as the show ended (something I've never seen before) and didn't charge me anything to sign my ticket or anything like that. Just as I anticipated, he was a total class act. He's been a hero for me since I was fifteen and it was an absolute pleasure to see this living legend in concert. I've waited to see Dick Dale for years!


Here's a video of Dick playing some badass harmonica:

video

Another of him on guitar:

video

Thursday, March 11, 2010

mp3/CD Review: Here We Go Magic by Here We Go Magic



Here We Go Magic's first album is a satisfying indie rock work that pushes the boundaries of traditional pop structures with interesting production and music while most of its songs stay comfortably enough within those pop boundaries to be accessible to most listeners.

There are some tracks that go outside these boundaries such as
"Babyohbabyijustcantstanditanymore", "Ahab", and "Nat's Alien" but these are more instrumental jams/experiments than regular lyric based songs. Ahab in particular is very cool and reminds me slightly of Pink Floyd's "Any colour you like" with the addition of some chanting the background.

The other tracks, especially "Tunnelvision" (which definitely sounds a little like Thom Yorke) and "only pieces" are quirky but infectiously catchy indie-pop songs. "only pieces" is probably my favorite track off the entire album which combines harmonic vocals, acoustic guitar playing, and a tastefully used synth arpeggio to create a beautiful sound.

The album didn't blow me away but it was pretty good. I expect even better work from these guys in the future.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dark Star Orchestra plays House of Blues


I consider myself a pretty big Grateful Dead fan even though maybe not a full out Deadhead.
I know a good twenty/thirty of their songs and wish I could have seen them play when Jerry
was still alive, as my mother was lucky enough to do but DSO is definitely the next best thing.

I missed the opening band, Terrapin, because somehow the show actually started at 8 which
almost never happens at House of Blues or any venue. I walked into the building and was greeted by a motley crowd of aging hippies, young hippie wannabes, baby boomers and the odd normal young person like myself. The air was a miasma of dense pot smoke and what I could have sworn was a faint armoma of patchouli (which I've concluded is what hippies naturally smell like if it's not overshadowed by their infamous body odor). I walked in after their set started and won't try and tell you all the songs that were played since I didn't know most of them. The Dead were so prolific that I only really recognized three songs DSO played that night and they were: Space, Sugar Magnolia, and a cover of Bob Dylan's "Tangled up in Blue".

It didn't really matter to me that I couldn't sing along to every song because I was so in awe of DSO's playing. Their lead guitarist was somehow able to capture almost perfectly, the improvisational, electric, folk rock/country blues, style that Jerry was so famous for. The stage set up included a bassist, rhythm guitarist/vocalist, female vocalist/dancer, keyboard player, the lead guitarist/vocalist, and dual drumsets. Each of these worked together beautifully to create a sound which I think would have made Jerry Garcia proud.

The kind of people in crowd only made the concert even more enjoyable. Even though I detest the preachiness and unoriginality of hippie-ism in general, the dancing; happiness; and mood of the mostly hippie crowd was infectious and definitely added to the experience. Sometimes it was annoying (I remember whispering to my friend once we'd creeped up to the front that "we have the Manson family behind us" as a bunch of nu-hippie girls smoked doobs while hanging onto one nu-hippie guy) but suited the music.

My only complaint about the concert was about a stunt they pulled near the end. Instead of asking us for a short intermission they allowed the drummers to play a bunch of cheesy, awkward, electronic, beats while they took a ten minute break behind stage. I guess it was supposed to prepare for their trippy, spaced-out, rendition of "space" which was, once it started pretty good but the wonky Casio-keyboard-sounding, prelude was lame.

*I never took any pictures or video because I didn't feel like it*

Latest Google Droid ad idiotic

I was watching episodes of "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" on Adult Swim.com (yeah I know, what's wrong with me?) and I was forced to watch this ad before it loaded:


It informed me that the Google Droid is a superior phone because if I enter in human then it will look up contacts named human, locations called human and music I forgot I downloaded with the word human in it. I guess I was supposed to be impressed by these amazing technological feats but the commercial really left me with more questions than answers.

When the fuck would I ever need to look up human in that so many different ways? Why would I have someone named human on my contacts list? If I did then what nationality are they and how would I pronounce their name? Why would I want my phone found find a song by Tokio Hotel? Is that song on my phone? What the fuck is a song by Tokio Hotel doing on my phone in the first place?

In summation, this commercial is idiotic. It's kind of like the Bing search engine commercials where the user needs a problem solved that doesn't exist. Who is too dumb to use a regular search engine and pick out the relevant results? No one. The commercial just became distracting because it used a terrible example of the product solving a problem. Couple that with the dumb search query of "human" and you have a commercial that leaves me confused as to why I'd want the product it's advertising. I mean couldn't they have used a search query that could feasibly work for those three categories? They could have searched for the word Kent which is a town/city on multiple continents, a name a normal person might have, and I'm sure there are multiple bands that go by that moniker. But no, they decided to go the irrational route and chose human (I'm sure runners up were equally brilliant words like pancake and urethra). Someone should get fired over this dumbass commercial. Lame, weak, stupid, moving on.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Plastic Beach comes out today!



I just downloaded my digital copy of the new Gorillaz album "Plastic Beach" from the iTunes store. I haven't listened to the whole thing yet but once I do I'll be sure to post a review. I've loved the Gorillaz from day one and love Blur so I'm extremely excited about this new album. I wonder if Damon Albarn and Dan the Automator have any new tricks up their sleeves.

An evening with Yes at the Houston House of Blues

I've wanted to see Yes in concert for such a long time. I had tickets to see them in the summer of 07 but Jon Anderson, the lead vocalist, got some sort of weird respiratory infection and had to cancel the gig and rest his voice.

I saw Yes two weeks ago and the band was touring, once again, without Anderson but the person standing in for him was a skilled Canadian vocalist named Benoit David who emulated Anderson's voice to a T. With the exception of Rick Wakeman's son Oliver, who has replaced his father in the band, the rest of the members were all original with Steve Howe on guitar, Alan White on drums and Chris Squire on Bass.

I can't say enough how amazed I was at how well David sang. It was like listening to Anderson at the peak of his abilities in the 70s.
Jon Anderson's voice is high, dramatic, and angelic and is so different than anyone I've ever heard live or recorded. Here's a song for those of you unfamiliar with Yes to get an idea of how hard it would be to mimic Anderson's unique singing:

The band opened up with Siberian Khatru and the crowd erupted. It's the only song that the band allowed us to film which was ok with me since it would cut down on the number of non-concert going dorks who would try to film the whole show. They played songs from almost every album except for "Relayer" and "Tales of Topographic Oceans", both of which I really enjoy but were not well-received. I kind of wish they'd have played something from Relayer but the best song is over twenty minutes long so I can understand why they wouldn't perform it. My favorite two songs were probably Siberian Khatru and Heart of the Sunrise but the entire set was phenomenal. Even though the original members did look very old, they moved, played, sang, and acted like they were in their thirties again. It was one of the best shows I've ever been to, hands down. They played all the standard numbers along with a few rarities which made for a well selected set list.

Here's part of their opening song, Siberian Khatru, off of the album "Close to the Edge":

video

Friday, March 5, 2010

Warpaint and Akron/Family live

Last week I had the fortune of finding out, last minute, about what sounded like a pretty cool show: Akron/Family and some band called Warpaint. Just to give you all some background, Akron/Family is an experimental indie rock band from Brooklyn that have been described by some as a low budget version of Pink Floyd or the Flaming Lips. Warpaint, I would find out in between sets via a Wikipedia app on my iPhone, is an all female band from LA that describes themselves as art rock. They're well-liked by a couple celebrities and their latest EP was mixed by John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There was an opening band called Buxton too but unfortunately I all but missed their set.

Before Warpaint went on they held an impromptu jam/testing levels and equipment session and I was very impressed. I was very excited to hear this all female band rock so hard considering my bias against most all female bands. I normally kind of get a "girl-power" vibe from most them that I find sort of distracting (e.g. the Donnas). Their playing was a dark, atmospheric, but sort of dancy style which immediately conjured images of post-punk music but at the same they had an almost early Pink Floyd feel. Think of songs like "Eugene be careful with that Axe"

They were all phenomenal musicians but the drummer's skills in particular caught my attention and she was pretty cute to boot. Needless to say, the set was just as good as the opening jam. I even bought their debut album, Exquisite Corpse (which is also the title of a Bauhaus song; more post-punk coincidences) and got it signed by all the members. They were very friendly and even talked to me about their influences; one band member said they were influenced by many things but in particular, head bands. So I asked her what she meant by that and she said "you know, Radiohead, the Talking Heads etc." and I could totally hear that in their music.

Then Akron/Family went on and they opened with a very hippie, earth-mothery type, drum machine tom tom beat over which the long-haired, mustachioed, guitar player asked us all to do a dance. The dance consisted of waving our arms over our heads like an underwater field of kelp or something and we all obliged because for some reason he was very convincing. This exchange was cool and I always like it when a band asks for audience participation, especially if they way they do it is a little strange. They then played a mellow, anticlimactic, hippie-ish song and for a second I was worried that the show was going to suck but then screaming feedback cut through the air and from there the whole concert got weirder and weirder, but in a good way.
They played a couple standard but charmingly eccentric rock songs punctuated by occasional blowing of a tin whistle or the lead singer putting the mic directly in his mouth and making melodic ooowwoo noises: a bunch of little things that sound strange but that were definitely sort of neat. The guitar playing in particular was excellent but I think that the band's weirdness turned off some in attendance but that didn't bother me because I was definitely enjoying myself. At other times they asked us to clap or sing along to their strange ballads and those of us who stayed once again obliged. A lot of people left but I kind of think they did so out of close-mindedness so it was probably better that they did.

Near the end of the show, which was very long thankfully, the lead singer asked us all to close our eyes and imagine a green meadow which he described in great detail and a light that was far away. The light, he said, represented all the things we each wanted in life and he told us to visualize it coming towards us and filling our field of vision and overwhelming us. He delivered this five minute long speech all over a trippy, whirring, synthesizer chord and once he was done with this description I will admit that I felt very happy and at peace. Once the chord stopped and he told us to open our eyes he said "happy birthday!" and they sung a song of the same title. There was so much benevolence and a willingness to open up and share with audience during this part of the show that it kind of reminded me of the Who's scrapped, Lifehouse project which was supposed to be a tour during which music would performed with that intention of makinf the band and audience come together as one for the duration of the show (the only song that was produced under this project was "join together"). It was a beautiful ending to the show.

Here are some videos:

video
Warpaint



video
Akron/Family

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Concert Geek's Dream Come True

It all started when my fiancee told me that she heard from a classmate that the had Doors played on our college campus back in the 60s. Being a pretty Doors fan I was psyched to learn that I've potentially been walking over the same ground as Jim Morrison without even knowing it. I tried to confirm this story by flipping through pages and pages of search engine results but to no avail. I don't remember what number page I reached on the search but I must have been well into the thirties when I spied a website called "Song Kick".

It looked like a concert database crossed with a social networking site which is very much something that I needed; so I decided to make an account. I even found a plugin that worked with my iTunes to track every artist in my library for concert dates! I didn't have to do anything, it just read my library and wham, I'm tracking hundreds of artists with three or four clicks. Now whenever one of them is playing near me I'll know! It's like the alerts on Ticketmaster or Livenation but they exist for basically every artist you can think of regardless of their popularity or even whether they're together or not.

You can upload photos of concerts you've attended and can look up events you were at in the past and click the "I was there" button. There's so much content on Song Kick that it would probably take years to go through. The most impressive fact is that the gigography of nearly every band is complete, even if they played long before SK existed.

I never found the gig but maybe one day I'll find the evidence elsewhere. There's always the possibility that no one has added the illusive Doors concert in question yet but even if I am wrong it's nice to think that I'm walking in Jim's footsteps when I'm bumming around campus.
Check out Song Kick and make yourself an account. You will not regret it!