Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Bring on Brooklyn: Battles + Buke & Gase

Posted by xneverwherex on October 17, 2015

Buke & Gase
The Fillmore

I had avoided Battles for awhile just because they seemed like another experimental/art-rock outfit from Brooklyn doing something really out-there; which is not to say that they aren’t any of the above. The band might possibly be more weird/avant-garde than I thought, but perhaps people change (or as I get older, maybe I’m willing to think/listen outside the box). Putting that all aside, seriously, what on earth was I missing.



The trio from Brooklyn did not disappoint. While waiting for the band to come out, it was impossible not to notice the insane drums front and center of the stage with a crash cymbal that was beyond high for the average person, yet somehow was perfect for John Stanier. And then to his right (in front of me) the dueling upside down keyboards of Ian Williams and of course the band wouldn’t be complete without Dave Konopka‘s guitars/pedals.

Battles started out with the ridiculous sick ‘Dot Com‘ off of their new album La Di Da Di . Dave starts it out with repetitive loops that seem to carry on and on as the song has a slow build of just him until finally the guitars come in then throw down some synth beats. By the time a good solid 5 minutes have gone by the drums finally come into play. Have no doubt about Stanier — the guy is ridiculous. The way he seamlessly hit the insanely high cymbal while sitting down making it look so easy. He is quite possibly the best drummer I might ever see. He puts drummers to shame the way he went took to the drums. By the time the first song ended, the guy was dripping in sweat.

And then if you really wanted to dance, Battles went straight into ‘Ice Cream‘. One of the few songs that isn’t entirely instrumental featuring Matias Aguayo’s vocals. Its catchy and dance-y even if its all loops and blips and just makes you want to move. Guitars, synths, instruments all sounding like other instruments its one of the most brilliant songs.

Battles is like an aural symphony. The different, unique sounds and the way it comes together seems so organic like its happening fresh before your eyes. Even if they’ve done the same setlist night after night – it never felt old. There was so much sweat flying everywhere you could tell the band played their heart out. Even after they talked about San Francisco (“their favorite city to play in”), even as Dave kindly admitted they said the same thing the night prior in Portland – it was clear that they were having an awesome time. They even joked about how many cliche things they could say about San Fran, Cisco – and even asked what they should call it. But it was clear – they were at The Fillmore – and super excited to be playing there.

FF Bada‘ was beyond catchy and really showed how well the band played off of each other. Different time signatures and music all over the place – it somehow comes together and fits perfectly. The band was focusing mostly on their new album but did play ‘Atlas‘ which was definitely a crowd favorite. While not a lot of songs were played, the songs that were played seemed to go on forever and blended together like a beautiful symphony of sound. What more could one want.

Buke & Gase

Buke & Gase

Buke & Gase also of Brooklyn opened the set. If Battles was pretty out there, Buke & Gase held their own with also being pretty bizarre. I had seen them before in New York opening for The National and also with Ra Ra Riot and remember liking them but this time may have been more memorable. The duo Arone and Aron play hand-made instruments that are beyond creative. Arone plays the ‘toe-bourine’ which is exactly as it sounds (tambourines played as she click clacks across the stage) as well as the “buke” (six-string baritone ukulele) while Aron plays the “gase” (a guitar-bass hybrid).

Their music is definitely interesting and started off on the slow side until it really started to hit a stride. Arone has beautiful vocals that are strong and just flow with the sounds. Lots of solid repetitive beats and just a really unique experimental sound. Its pretty amazing that with just 2 people there are so many instruments that are heard. The band is beyond creative and definitely has their own style. If you’re into avant-garde/experimental music – these bands are both worth checking out!

Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by xneverwherex on September 18, 2015

DJ Johnny Hostile
Great American Music Hall
August 25, 2015

One of the first times I heard a really great story about Savages happened to come from one of the VP’s at my company. I was listening to the band and he came over to talk to me about them. He was impressed that a) I knew them and b) I was going to see them. And then he waxed poetic about how awesome they were and how he had now seen them twice and it was impressive. Why not a third time, I will never know. By then, I started hearing from countless other people how impressive they were – and usually at that point I begin to worry. Its hard to live up to the hype.



London-based Savages didn’t just live up to the hype, they by far surpassed it. And it will easily go down as one of the best live shows of 2015. The band, all dressed in black, fittingly opened up with “I Am Here” and the Siouxsie-esque vocals pierced through the crowd. No doubt, that lead singer Jehnny Beth was here with pure, raw, angst – a force to be reckoned with. The way she moves, commands attention and works the stage is nothing but impressive. An explosive ball of energy. While the band is often called the female Joy Division, they are much more than that. They are definitely taking the post-punk sound and throwing in some dark-wave and Siouxsie and Joy Division and the newer British bands for their own sound. And they do it better than anyone else.

In the beginning, Jehnny Beth danced and worked the stage with her stylish animal print heels on and is nothing but pure emotion. You can feel her energy on all the songs. It just pours through her. The band rocks out and everyone of them is just so into the music. The drummer going crazy on the drums – drumming her heart out. While the band seems to not be the center of attention, they are every bit essential and Jehnny Beth feeds off their energy, rocking out with them. As she gets into “City’s Full“, she’s dancing all across the stage, working it like no tomorrow.

Jehnny Beth

Jehnny Beth

By the time she has kicked off her heels, she has turned the crowd into a frenzy and is creating a scene and encouraging the mosh pits. She wants people moving and dancing and enjoying themselves and San Francisco did NOT disappoint. The crowd was non-stop dancing, moving, jumping, crowds surging forward – and Jehnny Beth stood at the edge of the stage – grabbing friends’ hands for support – and singing into the crowd. She walked across the crowd with everyone helping her stand above and sang from atop the crowd during “Hit Me” which was pretty impressive. It was just craziness that kept on going.

It was great to see the band loving it as much as the crowd. Jehnny Beth was all smiles and talked about how this was one of the best shows she had ever played. And she was having so much fun she couldn’t wait to come back here and do it again. She mentioned her prior shows (The Independent) and said how much better this was with a crowd so pumped and so into it. Whats not to love when the band and fans are all enjoying it. This just does not happen enough.

And the best part might have been towards the end of the set, she looks up to the people sitting above and starts talking to a guy near the top left corner who is leaning over and filming the entire set. She asks if he’s enjoying himself watching it from there, then tells him that he had better post the f’ing video on youtube — touch it up and zoom in and out! It couldn’t have ended on a better note especially as the next song was “Fuckers“. “Don’t let the fuckers get you down”. And that sums up the entire night. Pure brilliance.

Bonus – I sold my ticket to a guy who really wanted to see the band after someone else had promised they’d buy the ticket off of me. And he really loved the show. Winning all around!

Set List:
I Am Here
City’s Full
Shut Up
The Answer
Sad Person
I Need Something New
No Face
Hit Me
She Will



Jehnny Beth - Savages

Jehnny Beth

Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

F**K Yeah Fest (FYFFest) Festival 2015 – Day 2

Posted by xneverwherex on September 15, 2015

FYF Fest
August 22-23
The LA Sports Arena & Exposition Park

While Day 1 was pretty incredible … it was really all about Day 2 – Saturday. And it was really all about just 3 bands. We showed up late into the day and strolled into the park right as Spiritualized was taking the stage in the Arena. The Arena couldn’t have been a more perfect place for the band to perform.

The show was pretty sparse which was a bit of a surprise with a near empty floor. We opted for the seats up above and werent too far away with amazing views. The band was swathed in lights and it made for one of the best light shows of the festival. “Lord Let It Rain On Me” sounded just beautiful – with loud, fuzzy guitars and the women vocalists in the backdrop. Jason Pierce’s vocals were just beautiful as they echoed through the arena and filled the room. And then it just melted into “Electricity“. Its hard to have even imagined a more perfect set than what the band gave to us.



Throw in some heavy, droning guitars and turn it up and one hell of a laser light show and its pure electricity. Jason’s vocals were haunting through the loud guitars and filled the air. The crowd below swayed with a few people jumping around. It was just an electric, raw feeling that I knew I wouldn’t get from any other band. And soon after, the very space-y jam “Electric Mainline” that you can just close your eyes and feel like youre in the music – it just takes you away as the guitars drone on and on and your body just moves with it. Such a beautiful feeling. And naturally, as this song came on the joints started getting passed back and forth behind me and the arena started looking like it was one big cloud of smoke.

The show just got better and better with “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)“, “Oh Baby” (which really emphasized the background singers – who of course sounded amazing!) and eventually coming to the end with the Spacemen 3 cover “Walkin’ With Jesus” which always makes me feel like I’m in a church with such powerful lyrics. Spiritualized ended the set with “Come Together” which couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to the set. That song just takes you away — your body moves to the music – heads swaying/bobbing back and forth — and then the loud guitars come in and BAM! It’s pure heaven! And they were just awesome!

And then came a bit of a wait – as I checked out some bands. Battles sounded awesome and are so worth seeing again. The 3-some from NYC and their experimental art-electronic rock sound were a really great time. “FF Bada” is pure catchiness, if not a totally out there song but it had the crowd moving and snapping along. And then of course, there’s “Ice Cream” which is so hard to go wrong with. Its pure catchy, love, hip shaking, infinite loops that are always changing and dance around fun! What’s not to love about this band!

Following Battles, was LA’s Health. The loud, VERY loud rock/experimental band, could be heard from nearly everywhere. I had seen them before and just loved them, but this time just couldn’t get into them. It just seemed like screamo rock without much else, but perhaps it’s just their new album or just not a great set up. Either way, sadly, I didn’t stay to hear much of them. Did attempt to see Solange as I had heard great things about her, but after not starting within 15 minutes of her start time, I ended up taking off. Not sure what time she eventually came on. But I had places to be … as in needed to get past the famed 1984 Olympic site with the lovely olympic rings to see hear some ‘Stars of Track and Field’ aka Belle & Sebastian.

And finally, we were getting to the best of the best. Scottish band Belle & Sebastian were clearly up for a good time. They had recruited members of the audience to be part of the show and they just danced on the sidelines for the most part; although one girl, who apparently thought she was the show, seemed to end up in Stuart’s lap quite a bit. While it was a bit distracting, it really didn’t seem to matter all that much.

Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian opened with “Nobody’s Empire” off their newest album Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance. Its fun and catchy and a great way to start the set. Singer Stuart Murdoch seemed in great spirits and just wanting to have fun. It was awesome that there were so many people on stage as well as so many instruments. And if you wanted to dance, the set could’t have been more perfect. They jumped right into “Im A Cuckoo” and everyone was dancing and bouncing around. Pure blissful fun indie-pop. It could only get better.

Stuart asked the Angelenos (pronounced in a way only a Scotsmen could say) if we wanted to party on this Sunday night before going right into “The Party Line“. And just like that Stuart was dancing and on the screens there were people dancing with their great little dance moves. If that couldn’t get a crowd dancing than nothing would.

Stuart was beyond chatty – talking between songs and adding a lot of banter. But of course the real highlight (even if all too predictable) was “The Stars of Track and Field“. He joked about how most of us weren’t alive during the olympics but he remembered watching it in 1984. And of course, with the olympic stadium behind us — it was hard to not be touched. Jokes about the jetpack man (where is he now?) and of course Carl Lewis on the big screen as the band played on. It was just too awesome and how often (if ever) can you say you saw a band play the most perfect song at the most perfect place. Even if it ended here, I’d have been beyond happy.

The band played just an awesome set. Couldn’t have been happier to hear “The Boy With The Arab Strap” as Stuart jumped over to the keys and sounded just perfect. They recruited a trumpet player from the area and it worked out quite well. He was awesome. The band ended the set with “Judy and The Dream of Horses” and sounded awesome — clarinet players, FTW! It was just a great set… so the only real question in my mind was — Will Morrissey be even better? :)

And clearly, the best had yet to come. The crowd surged forward and everyone needed to get as close to Moz as humanly possible. At this point – I went to the side as I was not about to get crushed. Sadly, I had missed Moz in July in San Jose, so it was a long time coming (he manages to cancel all of his SF shows, so thankfully I saw him plenty in NYC)… And Morrissey did NOT disappoint. Coming out in jeans and a bright blue long sleeved shirt and the band sporting Crapitol Records, he was at his finest. He had the best images on the large screen behind him and with the Queen Mum flipping us off, Morrissey started the show with “The Queen is Dead“. He sounded as great as ever and starting with a Smiths song!!! I didn’t really care what happened after this, as at this moment it was pure happiness.

The crowd went crazy as the next song was “Suedehead“. Seriously, how could it not be more perfect. Everyone started singing along and it was louder than Morrissey himself. I swear, if I hadn’t seen him before, I would have been crying with all the emotion I felt at this moment. I felt like I was back in highschool and seeing him all over again for the first time. He still works the stage better than any other performer I’ve seen. He plays to his fans and LA fans are serious about Morrissey. They love him like no other. (Next LA show, I am flying down). There was so much security protecting Moz, no one could really climb on stage so naturally Moz had to chastise them saying there were too many of them! Its a sick love/hate relationship with Moz and his security.



Of course, it wouldn’t be a Morrissey show if he didn’t express his views and show it in the hard-cold reality. He had choice words about our police and all of the police brutality. With images on the screen of black men getting beaten up by police, its hard to be surprised by what he shows. He had choice words about Obama, American politics, British Royalty and of course, meat. He has probably become more in your face over the years, but its hard to not love him. He doesn’t hide from his views and is always confrontational. Good thing him and Kanye weren’t playing the same night.

World Peace is None of Your Business” sounded just great and it was also awesome to hear that he now sings a bit in Spanish and has clearly learned quite a bit of Spanish thanks to all of his time in LA. And then soon after even more Smiths. As soon as he started with the opener of “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before“, the crowd went crazy and everyone was singing and dancing along. It just got better and better. I can’t even begin to fathom how it was so perfect. “First of The Gang To Die” which is a perfect song to be playing in South Central. “Meat Is Murder” was just awesome to hear and its hard to imagine dancing along as he performed it with all the images of animals being slaughtered. It was so Morrissey and it was hard to not feel nauseous watching it all. Some guys around me joked about now getting a burger, but I just felt ill. Nothing like literally shoving this down our throats.

Morrissey is one of the best crooners still performing and he knows what to play for his crowds. So, of course he played “Everyday is Like Sunday” and all I could hear was everyone singing around me … and of course, now there’s some Spanish thrown in and its fitting and was perfect. And this might have been the perfect song to end with. A perfect Sunday would come to an end, but this memory will live on forever.

“And if you happen to have a God, may he or she bless you”. – Morrissey

Set List:
The Queen Is Dead (The Smiths song)
Alma Matters
Kiss Me a Lot
Staircase at the University
World Peace Is None of Your Business
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before (The Smiths song)
First of the Gang to Die
Everyday Is Like Sunday
The Bullfighter Dies
Meat Is Murder (The Smiths song)
Now My Heart Is Full
I Will See You in Far-Off Places
What She Said (The Smiths song)

Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

F**K Yeah Fest (FYFFest) Festival 2015

Posted by xneverwherex on September 4, 2015

FYF Fest
August 22-23
The LA Sports Arena & Exposition Park

A friend and I love to joke about the name of the festival as the letters already stand for F*** Yeah Fest – so why they also added another fest is beyond me. Kinda like Courtney Taylor-Taylor – because one is never good enough.

A long, hot drive down the I-5 was just the beginning of the fun. Apocalyptic reservoirs that clearly were not winning in this drought war to gorgeous sprawling mountains that were no longer any shade of a recognizable green. Eventually, I’d pull into the traffic known as LA which somehow wasn’t bad at all. (A rare feat in itself).

And then it was off to the oh-so-trendy Echo Park with Ben and friends. Sadly, I still don’t get how that neighborhood is all that popular. Aside from the major strip that The Echo is on and a few hipster bars it was pretty dead on this Friday night. So here I am trying to beg my way into Baltimore’s Lower Dens show as Jana Hunter passes by more than a few times. Temptation set in quickly to ask her for a ticket, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead its off to a bar and Lower Dens will have to wait.

FYF is nothing like what I expected. Its beyond organized and it’s a breeze to get into. Sadly, I somehow missed half of Broncho‘s set, whom I was really looking forward to seeing. But, of what I did hear I loved. They were upbeat, rocking out on the stage and their music was infectious. They ended their set with their ever catchy single “Class Historian” and everyone was bouncing and singing along. Great way to start the day.

I end up hanging around on the trees stage as its shady and a chill stage. The cool thing about this festival is the stages are spread out far enough that there’s no bleed-through but also easy enough to get from stage to stage. Expo Park is awesome with the coliseum in the middle sporting the 1984 olympic athlete sculptures cue “stars of track and field”.

La Femme

La Femme

The real reason for hanging out at the stage is Paris’ La Femme. Easily one of my most recent favorite albums, the French do NOT disappoint. The band comes out covered head-to-toe in robes and head coverings (Arab-chic) looking like they should be playing in the Sahara and they are ready for fun as well as a dance party.

With their opening notes of “Its Time To Wake Up”, the band got the crowd moving. It was a kick-ass set and the crowd was dancing up a storm and singing along to their music. It was pure fun as they went through a good chunk of their album Psycho Tropical Berlin. As they finished out the set with the catchy “Sur La Planche“, the crowd was a dance party with everyone moving together and singing along. A pretty awesome first couple of bands.

After much needed shade and beer (they somehow go hand in hand) it was off to enjoy Dinosaur Jr. in the beer tent. The band is celebrating 30 years and with all the original members they’re awesome to see. As soon as the chords of “Feel The Pain” started it was off to the front of the stage to get the real feel of J. Mascis. Man.. he does not disappoint. With his grey locks flowing, he rocked out and really got the crowd into the music. Plus, their cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” is insane and possibly better than the original, harder and heavier and so rocking. Just brilliant!

Then I had to give NYC’s The Drums another chance. I figured at a festival they would be better than the countless other times I’ve seen them in a club. And their light show was pretty incredible, but I still have yet to figure out the hype and they were still as boring as ever. Musically, they sound pretty good, but live — leaves a lot to be wanted.



But then right after was the dance party I had really been waiting for — !!! (chk chk chk). And this is a band that never disappoints. Surprisingly, their stage is pretty empty which means even more room to work it out and dance dance dance.

As Nic Offer came onto the stage, the band wasted no time getting into their electro-dance-punk beats and the band members all started dancing on stage with instruments. By the time lead singer Nic started to sing, he was already working the crowd with his awesome/funky dance moves and his short shorts (a staple!). Not much had changed since I had last seen them and it was refreshing! As a frontman, he is always entertaining and its always a good time.

Thankfully, as I hadnt really been following them, they were playing mostly newer material and have a new album coming out. Plus, they have a show scheduled in SF at Slims in December … so the dance party will continue.

And then it was the newly put together Bloc Party. So long Matt Tong… and welcome to female drummer Louise Bartle, who totally kicked ass. The band had played their first show with the new band members, which also includes the new bassist Justin Harris, just 2 nights prior. And thankfully the band still has their same energy.

Bloc Party

Bloc Party

Kele Okereke sounded as great as great as always hitting his high notes. He was talkative with the crowd and seemed happy to be performing again. And with the opening bass lines of “Hunting for Witches“, the crowd went crazy as everyone started singing and jumping. And then if it couldn’t get any better is the scratchy opening notes and catchy drum beats of “Positive Tension“. By then everyone was singing and dancing along if they weren’t already. Their post-punk sound filled the air and it was a great way to nearly be ending out the night.

So many awesome songs were played and it felt like a ‘best-of’ set which was perfect for this fest and perfect for the fans. I somehow ended up mostly in the beer tent area and a bunch of us went crazy as “Banquet” started to play. Singing in unison and all with the same ridiculous dance moves of jumping in circles as Kele sang “turning away from the light… turning into myself”. In some ways it felt like one of the first times I had seen them. The same excitement had returned which I hadn’t felt in forever.

After that I would try and see Cold Cave — just don’t get the love for that band — and I kinda felt bad as it was one of the most empty stages. But, anyone going up against Yeezus, Kanye was seriously in trouble.

Trying to get to the main stage for Kanye was truly insane. Everyone at the festival was trying to get there and it was just beyond packed. While the screens helped some, it was near impossible to see anything. As people eventually cleared out, it got easier to see.

Kanye is truly something else. His rapping over Daft Punk’s “Stronger” is pretty brilliant. It’s catchy, original and he is pretty amazing. And then it was straight into the single “Power” which sounded even better live. I’m not sure who was performing the female vocals but it was pretty amazing. The guy was just delivering and I finally understood the obsession with Kanye and people needing to see him. (He was a replacement for Frank Turner – and people were paying top dollar to get in just to see him). Its hard to deny how talented he is and someone so worth seeing.

Jesus & Mary Chain

Jesus & Mary Chain

Trying to leave the festival would be insane so left Kanye a bit early (missed Rihanna towards the end of his set) to see the Jesus and Mary Chain. The band was playing the album Psychocandy in its entirety and had never sounded better. Their loud, dark, moody sound filled the nighttime air. The sounds of guitars just seemed to go on forever; plus they had a pretty impressive light show.

I hadn’t heard this album in forever. The even louder, more rocking “The Living End” had never sounded better. Staring at their shoes for the most part, there was hardly any crowd interaction. But it’s one of those bands where none of this matters. The music speaks for itself.

It was one hell of a first day and the next day was even better.

Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Friends, Live Music, Random Ramblings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Expecting You – A Night of The Great Lake Swimmers

Posted by xneverwherex on June 14, 2015

Great Lake Swimmers
The Weather Station
The Chapel

Toronto’s Great Lake Swimmers were in town for their sixth studio album A Forest Of Arms. The band’s melancholic folk sound was perfect for The Chapel. The 5-piece band sounded as tight as ever and it was a perfect venue for the band. The acoustics were made for bands like them with their variety of instruments and just filled up the venue.

The band started their set with their first song off the new album “Something Like A Storm” which is just beautiful. Its a perfect way to start the set out as its so catchy and you find yourself stomping your foot in time with the music. The set comprised a good chunk off their new album, which is quite the listen. I cannot get enough of it so hearing it live made it even more awesome. As with prior albums/songs – they all have these beautiful song titles and its so fitting of their style.

It was also interesting to hear that the band now has an electronic sound. You could easily hear it but it was hard to know where it was coming from. And while my friend was convinced there couldnt be any electronics, the sound doesn’t lie. The drummer, Joshua van Tassel, was adding the electronics which were perfect. Of course, the stand outs were hearing Miranda Mulholland on violin especially on songs like “One More Charge at the Red Cape” along with the upright bass of Bret Higgins. She really tore it up on stage and rocked out on the violin which one doesn’t see all too often. Most the cheering came for Erik Arnesen on the banjo and electric guitar who was just brilliant.

But, the real stand out is Tony Dekker, lead singer and acoustic guitar. His voice is just so pure and heart-felt. The harmonies between him and Miranda are just beautiful. You can just feel the ache of their songs. It was also great to hear “Talking In Your Sleep” performed as a band off of Tony’s solo album.

Of course, it was great to hear their earlier popular song “Your Rocky Spine“. It has to be one of the most gorgeous folk songs ever written and just evokes so much feeling. And my favorite song off their new album “Expecting You” which is even more beautiful live. Its nearly heartbreaking. It also happens to sound even more beautiful with all their instruments coming together — the violin strings just sound too perfect.

The only real complaint of the show had nothing to do with the band, but with the crowd. For a band that is not that ‘noisy’, the crowd sure could have learned how to shut up. It never ceases to amaze me how many people go to songs, (especially folkier bands), and have the audacity to talk through the whole show almost as loud as the band. Regardless, the show was still awesome.

The band ended their show with an encore performed in the center of the audience to an acoustic version of “Still“. With no mics and just the crowd to add vocals it was pretty special as it became one big sing-along. And it couldnt have been a more fitting way to end the show.

Plus, just found out the band is playing on my birthday in NYC at the Bowery Ballroom. NYC crowds can be interesting, but I have to say this is beyond tempting.

The Weather Station opened the set. Apparently the band was all in Toronto, so it was just the singer of the band Tamara Lindeman. She had a Joni Mitchell-esque style to her sound and as a singer-songwriter was really great. She has amazing vocals and has these really beautiful emotional songs. Her songs have a sadness to them and were so melancholy. She was a fitting opener for GLS. And to make it all the more impressive she was playing on a jazz guitar.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Panic Is Perfect – Live 105 BFD

Posted by xneverwherex on June 9, 2015

Live 105 BFD Festival
Shoreline Amphitheater
June 6, 2015

It was a hot hot sunny day in Mountain View over at the Shoreline. Somehow we got there early enough that the lines werent too painful, yet still managed to take forever to get inside. Ive yet to figure out their security system (its insane!) and how possibly taking every single thing out of a woman’s purse is at all productive. Oh, its a pen, let me look at it. Oh here’s your unopened water bottle, so let me open it for you and throw away the cap. Ive heard of ridiculous things, but seriously, this was the worst.

Actually, that was not the worst. Whoever thought of this venue and setup needs to seriously re-think their day job. Having the dance tent on top of the other stages and all the music going on at the same time was awful. The bleed through was non-stop and between songs you could just hear the thumping of the dance tent. Some performers were getting upset about it (not much you can do), but it just was bad. Its also bad that the two “smaller” stages are next to each other – and while theyre not having performances at the same time (thankfully it alternates), it just means the crowd is insane in one small blocked off area and going in and out, let alone to the ‘other’ stage soon became a clusterphuck of magnificent proportions.

With that being said – lets go on. This was all about the music. Instead of discussing bands in order, I will start with my favorite shows. Of course, theres always panic at shows of not seeing who you want and at a certain point, I just gave up and didnt even care. But the hands down best set of the night belongs to a band that I don’t particularly like (nor hate) but by far they know how to put on a show. Panic! At The Disco killed it! The band by far was one of the biggest surprises of the night. Now I knew their show would probably be big and insane, but I really was not expecting their energy and the excitement for the band. It was hard to not be jumping around. Lead singer, Brendon Urie, is really charismatic and him and the band were jumping around the entire stage and it was contagious. Their light show added to the overall dance-y rock feeling. And to make it all the better, I think by far this was the band that most people were there to see. And everyone around me was out of their seats and singing and jumping along. Some kids were way serious about it too and insisted on taking video of the entire show and not even enjoying it.

Probably the most impressive part of their set was Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘. Its hard for most people even to be able to pull off some of those high notes, but Brendon has incredible vocal range and got it just perfect. The band also decided to give a 30-second clip of a hardcore metal show and really went off for a good 30 seconds with loud screeching guitars and headbanging music. After that, they closed it out with their single ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies‘ and to say I barely recognized that would be an understatement. But it was impressive and the backflip in the middle of the song by Brendon was f’ing brilliant. The band was just insanely impressive and one very worth seeing again.

Of course, closers Modest Mouse put on one hell of a show. The band sounded so incredibly tight and have superior musicians. Isaac Brock, frontman and multi-talented instrumentalist, was in top form and sounded better than ever. Their song intros were quite long but when they would finally get into their song the pay-off was so worth it. It was pretty much a singles list from the band, but I couldnt have asked for a better set. They gave the crowd just what they wanted and even after performing single ‘Float On‘ and people expecting it as the last song, the band still continued on. And the song never sounded better, just filling the venue with everyone up and dancing.

And with all the many instruments, the band always manages to sound so tight. I love the varied instruments from trumpets to fiddles, banjos and the other instruments that appear. I just love the song ‘Ocean Breathes Salty‘ and on a nice cool night outside, it was almost perfect hearing it. The band were as awesome as always and I wouldnt have expected anything less.

One of my favorite bands played earlier on in the day – The Kooks. And man how I missed them. Sadly, the crowd mostly talked through their set and it was way too short but Ive always loved them and their energy. Luke Pritchard was as engaging as ever and tried to get the crowd going with sing alongs, but it didnt always work. He mentioned that he’d play an older song and it was quite sad how no one seemed to recognize “She Moves In Her Own Way“. I was just glad to hear earlier songs like ‘Ooh La’ and set-ender ‘Naive‘. While the band may not have sounded the best, they are always ones to watch for me. I never get tired of their music and its always a good time.

I was finally lucky enough to see Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men. The band who seems to play here all the time, sounded was great as I had expected them. Their set which seemed all dark and hazy due to their darkened lights totally fit the mood of the band. I didn’t realize how many band members were in the band and how many instruments were used. It seemed like a bunch of people on different drum sets, lots of different back-up vocalists and a range of brass instruments. In actuality, its probably just 7 of them, but their sound just filled the nighttime air and it was pretty beautiful. Somewhat moody and atmospheric they were quite the band. While I will always think theyre a somewhat lesser version of Stars, it still made for an engaging set. The harmonies are just beautiful and the back and forth interplay between the male and female always is just beautiful. Definitely a band I will need to see in a club at some point.

Atlas Genius sounded incredible and put on a really fun set. Sure, their music is all over the place and some of the songs got annoying, but on stage they were tight. Its a pity that their super dance-y guitar rock didn’t translate with the crowd (who were perhaps recouping from the major rays), because in any other place everyone would have been dancing. Their songs are all so very catchy and dance-y with lots of great catchy hooks and great harmonies. Songs like ‘If So‘ had people singing along and of course their first single ‘Trojans‘ had even more people singing along. This is one band who is made to play in clubs and I really need to catch them in that sort of environment.

Other bands included: WATERS – the very catchy indie-pop band from SF. I was standing with the guitarist and drummer (Marc Campbell and Etienne Bowler) of Misterwives during their set and he was super into it. Their show was just awesome fun (turns out theyre touring with Misterwives). Their songs were just pure catchy fun filled with catchy choruses. There was lots of crowd participation with sing-alongs and clapping along.

New York City’s Misterwives definitely did not let down. Im just so bummed that their next show here has been sold-out forever. They had one of the most awesome live performances of the day. The band was infectious fun with lots of solid dance performances happening on the stage as all the band members had their shots at showing off their dance moves. Their bassist just killed it and had all the moves. Lead singer, Mandy Lee, clearly took some cues from Gwen Stefani and was rocking the short shorts and half tops and really working the crowd. She had a moment too that was all about female-empowerment which was pretty awesome and rarely seen.

Their band has a definite No Doubt vibe with lots of ska infused songs complete with a brass section to really make the ska beats happening (think early No Doubt – not whats going on now). Their sax player was just genius and him and the trumpet player really add to the bands sound. It really made for a great set in which they had the crowd dancing to their very dance-y songs. It was just pure energy and it was great that the band and the crowd all could feel the same energy. Its a band that needs to be see again and will probably become huge at the rate theyre going.

Of course, Im a sucker for violinists – and Alan of Curious Quail killed it. Man could he rock out on the violin which was truly awesome. The band is from San Jose and is thankfully playing a small mini-tour on the west coast that should be awesome. Had a really great indie-rock/pop sound and had a really tight set with songs that were easy to get into and had you tapping along in no time. There were some great harmonies between the woman on bass and the lead singer. The singer had a really strong powerful voice. Was one of the best bands I saw on the local stage.

Andrew St. James was a pleasant surprise. I had crossed him off the list after not really getting into what I had heard, so it was just a fluke that I was exhausted and was looking for some grass and shade. He had with him a stand-up drummer and another guy. It was a pretty alt-folk act and he has a very Dylan-esque sound. He had such a great voice and it also helped that he was amusing as he yelled at the crowd for not applauding him on stage (bold move). He then commanded attention that was very well deserved.

K.Flay was someone that I just happened to catch in the dance tent. She is quite the talented rapper and has one hell of an awesome drummer. And with speaking of drummers – the drummer of 21 Pilots worked it and was insane. Along with a hanging mic the duo put on one hell of a set that was super high energy.

The Family Crest, another SF band, put on a really awesome set. They have so many different instruments including violin, cello, flute and piano. They were super tight with some great harmonies. A band very well worth seeing again!

Cold War Kids who I just want to like definitely put on a solid rock performance. But like always, I just find the band so boring and leave me wanting for more. Perhaps seeing them at a festival doesnt do them any justice, but its just one band that I could definitely be fine without seeing again.

Dangermaker from SF was one of the loudest bands I saw with heavy loud guitars and keys for good measure. The band just rocked out and had nice layers of guitars. And that lead singer could sure hit his high notes.

Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tell Me Its Not Over – Starsailor/Embrace

Posted by xneverwherex on June 4, 2015

June 3, 2015

It felt like a reunion show of sorts, with these lovely bands of the late 90’s and 00’s. Its hard to watch these guys, not just as they age (we all do), but as the gigs change. At one point they were slated to play The Fillmore and then were bumped to Slim’s where it wasnt even a packed house. Seriously – its a pity. But at the same time, as a fan of the band, it meant a much more intimate show.

Starsailor It felt like a lifetime since I had seen Starsailor – a lifetime quite possibly being September 11, 2006 – a show that will live forever in my mind for the date alone and also seeing it in NYC. Its hard to pull off a show on that date – esp when it was just 5 years to the date. But I also had been lucky enough to see James Walsh perform a solo set, shortly before announcing the band’s hiatus. 5 years is a long time for a band to go away (even moreso now with videos on demand and everything changing in a heartbeat) and I am sure the band didn’t know what to expect on coming back. But here they were, filled with an audience who remembered the band from years prior, a little bit older but loving the band just as much.

James Walsh joked about growing old – getting fatter, losing hair, etc. – but his voice has held up quite beautifully. To this day, there are few artists that I put in his category of the greatest voices ever. Actually, between him and Kelly Jones of The Stereophonics, I am not sure there is a better voice out there. The band came out and jumped into “Poor Misguided Fool” which sounded as beautiful as ever. And wasting no time went directly into “Alcoholic” which was more heartbreaking than I had remembered it. It was quite awesome as the whole crowd sang along.

James wasn’t so talkative (when you compare him to Danny of Embrace), but he was having a really great time and was getting the crowd to sing along. Joking about if we didn’t know the lyrics how easy the part was – and demonstrated it for us (of course, it was just ooooh’s and aaahhhh’s). He introduced his band mates as the show progressed. Also, tried to not engage in a war of sports as a guy in the audience was talking about their football team winning 5 championships – and he wanted a high-5. James was pretty amusing and finally said something like ‘no way – I am not getting into a war about sports at a show – someone always gets mad’. Definitely one way to shut it down; although the guy wouldnt stop for a bit.

I was loving their faster, “harder” edged songs on James’ electric guitar. Their music had never sounded better to me. The show just could not possibly go on long enough and songs like “Fidelity” were just way too short. I loved that Danny had asked James to play “Fever” and so he dedicated the song to Danny and it was quite sweet. And Fever sounded just amazing! So glad it was put on the set. James’ high notes on “Lullaby” couldnt have sounded better. It felt like he should have been playing for a much bigger crowd. I loved that he asked about playing a new song, and if we wanted to hear it, and then he remarked about how he loved people singing along to a song that was just released a couple days before (thank you youtube)! And “Give Up The Ghost” is seriously that good! I am loving this new song and hope it brings new life to the band.

But one of the things Ive always loved about James is how honest he comes across. He remarked that when he started, their label probably would have dropped them if they only had one popular song, so it was a relief when their second song was a hit that they released. (Good Souls? quite possibly). The ending of the show was just insane playing some of their more popular songs. “Tell Me Its Not Over” is one of the most heart-wrenching songs ever and with the tempo of Barry banging on the piano its just soars and makes the song that much more upbeat. The audience was very into it and lots of hand clapping and singing along. Probably one of my favorite songs these days. Plus, its now getting ‘mixed’ and James is adding some other songs into it – such as Taylor Swift’s “Trouble” and I think part of an MGMT song was thrown in. And to end the show with “Four to the Floor” and of course “Silence is Easy” which is sounding as rocking as ever and closing it out with “Good Souls” — wow! Its great that the audience was so into it and he mentioned how we were so much a better crowd than Anaheim the night before and they were having such an amazing time.

Even if this were the last time I saw them (hopefully not!), I will forever have these awesome memories of the band. And of course, it all now lives on forever on youtube.

Embrace co-headlined the show and started off the night. And there were a lot of people in Embrace t-shirts which was pretty awesome. Danny McNamara, lead singer, is *the* ultimate front-man. If you ever wanted a band to be so full of energy and putting their hearts into a set, you couldn’t ask for a better band. The band, having been around since the brit-pop days of the 90s from the UK, seems to have somewhat fallen by the wayside. Steve, bassist, looked cooler than ever coming on stage with big sunglasses and the same floppy hair from the day. Most the band seemed like it never aged with similar hair styles. Like James said, maybe they got a bit older and fatter, but this band was looking awesome.

EmbraceThe band started off with the ever catchy ‘Protection‘ and after performing it asked how many of us even knew who they were from back then. Then obviously commented that we were all too young to remember them. The crowd missed the part of saying that the band was clearly too young to be that old. It was amusing. He asked how many people actually had their other albums and remembered songs from it. And of course, everyone knew their music and was singing along.

Danny worked the stage and kept prompting the crowd to move forward. Edging towards the very front of the stage he kept chastising the back of the room and told them they needed to be part of it; plus the sound stopped at a certain point and they just couldnt possibly hear the loudness from that far back. He was amusing but mostly just loving every minute of it. The band was just so excited to be playing you could see it all on their faces. As Danny would just look at you, his piercing blue eyes just melted you. I felt like I was 18 again crushing on a band.

Come Back To What You Know” took me back to my 20’s. I dont think I had really listened to The Good Will Out since what seemed a lifetime, but I could still picture their album – the front picture Ive never forgotten. Mickey was just awesome on the keys and in songs like the very dance-y “Quarters” it showed off his playing. And it also led into one of the many San Francisco stories. Mickey has a love of San Francisco and talked about wanting to move here as he so loved it here. Of course, real estate prices here is no ones friends, and Danny suggested he do a swap with someone at the show. Simply brilliant. They also talked about sitting at a pub and an 8-year old boy doing karaoke and singing ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’, but the poor kid had a lisp and couldnt say it. It segued into the band playing ever-catchy ‘Save Me‘ which had the crowd singing along.

One of the highlights was hearing Danny sing “Gravity“. It is one of the most beautiful songs and interestingly enough it wasnt even written by the band. It was written by one Chris Martin and team (aka Coldplay), who gave it to the band. And the song is so suited for them. Afterwards, Richard, guitarist and brother of Danny, sang the band’s new song ‘Refugees‘ which is a bit more electronic but with a rock edge featuring Richard’s falsetto which is nothing short of impressive. There was so much pressure and he joked about how nervous he was, so insisted on tuning his guitar for a bit, for fear of f’ing it up. Just watching Danny watch his younger brother was pretty sweet. It just reminded me of watching a proud family moment. And right after that going onto play one of my favorite songs ‘Ashes’ which people had been screaming out for. And everyone started jumping around with hands in the air singing along. It was one of those moments that you can imagine happening in an arena with everyone sharing that moment. So it wasnt quite like that, but it still had that feel and the band seemed pretty excited even as Danny kept motioning for people to ‘dance and sing’ and mostly to keep coming forward.

It was heartbreaking to hear Danny talk about how it might be the last time they ever play SF and he’d see us in the after-life. The crowd went nuts and so he suggested everyone getting their mates to their gigs so they could keep on doing this. And sure the band sounds like an homage to those other bands – The Charlies – Stone Roses – and any other 90’s band from the same era/area – and theyre all trying to still be here and keep playing. But there was something special about last night, hearing both bands talk so lovingly about the other. Danny commented on watching Starsailor the previous nights and how one show was really great and the other one was as good. The crowd chuckled. Definitely no love lost with these 2 bands.

So hearing these songs live, was really awesome. I still have a fondness for their music and while never was a huge Embrace fan, their live show is just brilliant. I wish I had thought to see them awhile back as I imagine their shows would have been nothing short of incredible. With that being said, their new song is a force to be reckoned with off their latest EP (from 2014) titled Refugees – and perhaps the tides will change and there can be a resurgence for Embrace.

Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Mountain Goats – the greatest music trade in craigslist history

Posted by xneverwherex on June 3, 2015

The Mountain Goats
Blank Range
The Fillmore
June 1, 2015

True story. If it wasnt for nameless and countless friends, Id probably still be wondering who this band was. Lets rephrase that. Years ago in NYC, a guy I was dating at one time but turned into an amazing friend, invited me to a Mountain Goats show. I have no clue why I didnt go, and the only reason I know this is because I was searching for Mountain Goats and found an email exchange. The more interesting thing was, he wasnt the first guy to invite me to the band. For whatever reason, I always associated them in a category I deemed ‘guy-rock’. Moral of the story – never underestimate the power of guys youve dated who end up becoming good friends. They probably have better taste in music than you.

Even truer story – Id be lying if I said I didnt know who John Darnielle was. Of course I knew who he was, who didnt. I lived in NY – we lived, talked, breathed music for years. Did I also ever mention how I was in love with Superchunk – one of the most awesome 90s ‘real’ indie bands operating a real indie label (Merge Records – home of one John Darnielle). So there I was in NYC at The Music Hall of Williamsburg seeing Superchunk yet again for another countless time and the band starts playing ‘Digging For Something’ and this guy in glasses is pogoing around the stage singing along and having a great time. Mac ends the song with ‘John Darnielle everyone’ and of course, crowd goes f’ing crazy!

John Darnielle - The Mountain GoatsBut I digress, here I am years later – a lot older – definitely less wiser – and again out with a guy I previously used to date – who is a good friend with way better taste in music than myself. And at this point — an even dearer friend in Asheville — is posting lyrics from The Mountain Goats and turns out has ‘Heretic Pride‘ tattooed on his arm. I knew this had to be a sign. Two very important people in my life were having these emotional experiences with the band. At this point, I was pretty sad that The Fillmore show had sold out, but turned out there’d be a second show at Great American Music Hall. So I wasted no time and bought tickets – and later lucked out to swap them for The Fillmore. Probably the greatest music trade in craigslist history.

I had started listening to their music religiously and was transfixed by the lyrics. The outpouring of his heart was something I could relate to all so well. I had cried one too many times listening to ‘Waving At You‘ that when he played it, it was impossible to not grab my friend. I could have turned into a ball of tears at that moment, but there was something so ridiculously beautiful and cathartic about hearing it performed live.

The band came out to the ever catchy ‘Blood Capsules‘ and in an instant the crowd was alive. Everyone seemed to be so into it — lots of dancing and moving around, lots of singing along, some hands in the air. It was a perfect crowd for a perfect show.

John was at his finest. He was oh so talkative with plenty of stories about pro wrestling and they were perfect introductions for the songs off of ‘Beat The Champ‘. At moments I felt I had gone back to the 70s and was about to watch a wrestling match on tv — there was always the villain and the good-guy. But as John said – in real life – there is no possible way to be the villain. I mean sure you can, but you cannot just hate people and feel no sympathy, lest you be labeled a sociopath. Such a perfect introduction for ‘Foreign Object‘ about a good guy going bad and a bad guy going good and eventually being stabbed in the eye with a foreign object. Honestly, I wasnt sure much could eclipse stories like that.

But then there was John Vanderslice and talk about Tiny Telephone Recording Studios in SF and of course SF’s own John Vanderslice was there to play on ‘Heel Turn 2‘. It was one of the most beautiful songs from the show last night. And John Vanderslice has got to be one of the coolest cats ever. It was too bad that they didnt do one of the songs that they recorded together, but who cares, this song was perfect.

And how can any show at The Fillmore not get some sorta mention of the Grateful Dead. And John did not disappoint. He talked about hating on the Dead while he was still into the black eyeliner goth scene (ala Bowie) – and sure everyone loves to hate on the Dead. But musically they are geniuses, perhaps not lyrical wise. So of course, a cover had to be played. It was pretty awesome as it was just John and his guitar (part of the 3 song solo part – which did include ‘Waving At You’) playing ‘Friend of the Devil‘ – which is actually quite a great song. He also played ‘Straight Six‘ for the first time ever and managed to do quite a bit of tuning before playing and joked about doing that to prolong playing the song.

The Mountain GoatsAmong stories galore, one of the best shows ever was played. John is an incredible frontman. He was so impressed with the crowd and amazed at how quiet we were during the slow songs (you could have heard a pin drop) and also how energetic it was at points. It was almost too perfect to have it all in one, that at moments I wanted to pinch myself to make sure it was real. Plus, his other band members are insanely awesome – Jon Wurster, drummer of Superchunk and tMG – bassist Peter Hughes, who is simply f’ing awesome and has some pretty sweet bass lines – and mostly the multi-talented Matt Douglas, who plays nearly every instrument but was pretty sweet on the sax and clarinet! (why oh why arent there more clarinets in bands!)

And naturally, he ended the show by talking about encores (which most people know I really detest). The silliness of them – and how if you come out – typically you perform 2 songs, and then maybe leave again and come back to do another 2 – and its this huge deal or the other way – you come out for an encore and just play and play another long set. So as he said he’d be playing a long set for the encore and we’d all appreciate it. And there is nothing ever wrong with that especially when you get to hear ‘This Year‘ which might be my mantra for the year. And it was quite an encore and I could have been happy with that. But the crowd never stopped and got louder and louder and surprise – he did a second encore. The second encore included the Gladiator songs performed back-to-back which is a rarity and was pretty amazing! And it was a perfect way to close out the night.

I have loved Beat The Champ from the moment I heard it. All of the songs are so beautiful and I love the stories about the wrestlers and hearing them performed live was perfect. Of course, throw in older songs, never before played songs, a cover, and John Vanderslice a second time (he played during the 2nd encore) and you get a perfect show. As a friend emailed me today, “I’m glad you are now a member of the church”.

“i am gonna make it through this year, if it kills me.” – john darnielle

Set List:
Blood Capsules
Cry for Judas
Animal Mask
Foreign Object
Get Lonely
Heel Turn 2 (with John Vanderslice)

John Solo
Straight Six (first time played live)
Waving at You
Friend of the Devil (Grateful Dead cover)

Full band
Fire Editorial
Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan
The Young Thousands
Love Love Love
Never Quite Free
Up the Wolves

Encore 1
Southwestern Territory
The Legend of Chavo Guerrero
The Diaz Brothers
Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod
This Year

Encore 2
Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1
Spent Gladiator 2
No Children

Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Friends, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Black English – #OtherCoastConfiguration

Posted by xneverwherex on May 30, 2015

Black English
Vela Eyes
Meet Me In Orbit
(Upstairs @) DNA Lounge

Echo Park’s Black English (fka NO) played a couple of shows across the States leading up to today’s Bottlerock Festival. If I had been paying attention and noticing all of their #’s – I would have realized the show would be a bit different.

Black EnglishThe band is currently playing this small “tour” as a 3 piece band with Spike on drums and Laura Burhenn (of the Mynabirds) on keys. Naturally, you still have Bradley on guitars/vocals. Hence the othercoastconfiguration tags. It seems fitting as the band just finished touring with Yann Tiersen in Europe and the Psychedelic Furs across The States and Canada.

While it definitely lacked some of their bigger sound with the missing guitars, this worked out pretty well. I wasn’t sure how some of their more anthemic songs would sound, but with Bradley’s amazing vocals coming together with Laura’s it gave a nice change to their sound. I really was enjoying their harmonies and their voices had a beautiful blend. I felt at times that the keyboard was too overpowering and somewhat distracted from the songs, but overall it worked.

Suzanne” (Leonard Cohen cover) which features Laura sounded gorgeous. As the music goes from Bradley singing to Laura and then the two of them harmonizing together the song couldnt sound more beautiful. Of course, it was all about their hits off of El Prado and Bradley’s baritone did them justice. Even without the crescendoing guitars his vocals do wonders on setting a tempo — he had the crowd clapping along to ‘Stay With Me‘ and lots of fist pumping to ‘Leave The Door Wide Open‘. The crowd was very into the show with some people showing off their dance moves and most people just clapping and singing along and moving to the beat of the music.

Regardless of #othercoastconfiguration – the band surprisingly worked amazing as a 3-piece. Once you rearrange a few songs and add more keys and throw down some percussion – you get a pretty awesome ‘new’ band. Chicago, LA, NYC and SF were all pretty lucky to have them come through — hopefully theyll be back soon. And even more surprising, it was only the band’s second show in SF (which seemed to be a theme of the night).

San Francisco’s Vela Eyes put on an entertaining set. They have a 90’s vibe with one hell of a kick-ass singer. She tears it up not only vocally, but in her mini-dress and knee high socks really works the stage with some pretty great kicks. They have a Blondie kind of rock edge and blends a lot of styles together with some songs having a more shoegaze 60’s wall of sound and others just pure rock-n-roll. The other woman on keyboards adds backing vocals which are a nice blend (although at times hard to hear). Personally, I loved when she wasnt on the keys and was playing her guitar — loud fuzzy and lots of reverberation. They were quite good and well worth seeing.

And while I do love Black English, I cant help but say how excited I was to see Meet Me In Orbit on the bill. All of a sudden, the show was *really* worth seeing. Their first show ever (opening for Public Service Broadcasting), blew my mind away. So I figured they had probably played another few shows and were going to become huge right away, but was pleasantly surprised to hear it was only their 2nd show ever (along with Black English – albeit this was just their second show in SF). I arrived early enough to hear the guys (Jared and Brandon) finishing up their soundcheck. I only had one thought – it was going to be much louder than I had remembered.

So seeing their second show, I figured I’d be happy if it were even as good as the first (which was great!) and it was so much better. Its hard to say if the songs were more polished, or if the crowd which seemed to be all there for them was just more into it, but everything just seemed bigger and better. Their lush chillwave/dreampop sound filled the venue. “Last Time” sounded gorgeous and the crowd just swayed along to the music. Their electronic sound was just perfect with Jared’s vocals filling the room. And while a lot of the songs were more laid back with the chill vibe – they definitely have the more upbeat electronic songs to get the crowd moving.

Meet Me In OrbitThey just released their first EP Traveler with 5 songs. The music will take you on a trip and let you get away to the past for just a bit of time and what a lovely time it is. If you haven’t yet seen them (and odds are with only 2 shows you probably haven’t), the next time they do play (and hopefully a tour will come soon), be sure to not miss them.

Check out “We Are Grown” which reminds me of a cross between Chvrches and Little Daylight.

Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Singer Addresses His Audience – The Decemberists

Posted by xneverwherex on May 5, 2015

The Decemberists
The Greek Theatre

Portland, OR The Decemberists were in town for their latest release What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. The band performed one of their best shows ever to a sold-out crowd in Berkeley. It was the bands first time playing at The Greek, and they had never sounded better. The acoustics were fabulous in the amphitheater and their sound filled the venue.

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The setlist focused mainly on their newer material (which is nothing short of awesome) but also had a few songs from the impressive Hazards of Love. Overall, they did a song here and there from their prior albums. Of course, its always great when they are playing songs from their earlier material. Plus, Colin Meloy wanted to focus on California and all things/songs California – which meant we got the ever fitting ‘Grace Cathedral Hill’. He also seemed to start to wax poetic about Los Angeles before commenting on the rivalry between the two areas. Regardless, it was pretty awesome to hear ‘Los Angeles, Im Yours’.

Of course, any Decemberists show without the charm of Colin Meloy, would really not be a show. Colin was in great form and oh so talkative. He talked about writing the song ‘Calamity Song’ and how it was much better when it was initially written to be “Hank Eat Your Oatmeal” which is obviously a classic. Written to get his son to eat oatmeal, the song was just that line but oh so precious. And of course, the worst song to ever be written ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ is always pretty awesome even if its just a small clip.

But really, there were two major highlights of the night. The first and very unexpected surprise was the band performing “The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle The Thistles Undone). I really didn’t think I would ever hear it again live after seeing it performed with Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) back in 2009. Nor, did I ever think it could be that impressive. If you’re not familiar with the song, right about now you need to be hearing it. But, Kelly Hogan KILLED it! Thats an understatement, Kelly (Neko Case’s partner in crime aka a vocalist in her current band) has a wonderful voice. And her addition to the song was nothing short of beautiful. So that was a very pleasant surprise. Plus, it turns out some friends know her and couldn’t have enough praise for her and how thankful/excited she was. Seriously, this is beyond awesome.

And if that wasn’t enough, ’16 Military Wives’ (which I just love), got all the better. During the ‘la di dahs’ towards the end of the song Colin had a lot of crowd participation from getting the audience to sing along, to engaging all parts of the amphitheater from the very front to the grass on the hill. He singled out a few people getting them to do individual performances plus also in typical Colin format, telling the crowd to be quiet because ‘Im a professional’ and naturally he can do it better. But one of the best parts was when he told the crowd to stop singing and be quiet and don’t think about the song, but think about the song ‘Sailing’ from Christopher Cross and to sing it to yourself (which naturally he did) and then forgot the lyrics and of course, it couldnt have been more amusing.

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The band was tight and the back-up vocalists were awesome. Chris Funk was having a great time as always switching it up from the banjo to the guitar to some mandolin. Colin, vocally, has never sounded better and of course the harmonica playing was all the better; but seriously no concert is ever complete without Jenny Conlee – naturally kicking ass on the accordion and piano. But all the better when she adds her vocals to a song and Colin will typically take a moment to applaud her. The crowd just loves her!

Sadly, the band was running out of time which meant they had to cut their set short. Always a pity as theres so much material to want to hear. Of course, no show is complete without having ‘The Mariner’s Revenge Song’ as the finale/encore. So of course, with roughly 15 minutes left before 11pm, the band announced it would be their last song and dove right in. And the song was as fun as always – with a couple practice rounds of screaming … how often are most of us eaten by a whale, so you definitely have to prepare. He said us Californians would probably be more used to dealing with this (sharks in an ocean??) and gave us a practice round. Of course, it wasnt quite good enough but with 2 rounds we were ready to go. And just like that the quintet began the journey. It felt like you were on a ship going down, and you could feel the crowd going back and forth like being on the ocean. As the song continued, soon enough the whale (which seems to have grown), came out and swallowed us all. Obviously, there were survivors (hence the song), and the song continued. Nate Query on stand-up bass and Chris on mandolin and of course Jenny providing backing vocals all sounded amazing! The song just couldn’t possibly have been better.

The show was just brilliant. Ive now seen the band a handful of times and this show might have been the best. The band was in top form and Colin just seemed so happy. And of course, the crowd loves him. Berkeley ended up being a great night for them.

Plus, Lucius opened. The two women who sing (who dress the same, yet aren’t sisters) also sounded really great. The Brooklyn based band has an indie-pop-folk sound with some of the most beautiful harmonies. They also at times sound like a 60’s girl band and add a bit of guitar and you get a perfect pop band. They will definitely get big and opening for the Decemberists is sure to help them out. A perfect complement to the Decemberists and it made for a special night.

Set list:
The Singer Addresses His Audience
Cavalry Captain
Down By The Water
Hank Eat Your Oatmeal/Calamity Song
Grace Cathedral Hill
Make You Better
The Wrong Year
The Island
Los Angeles, I’m Yours
Carolina Low
The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle the Thistles Undone) w/Kelly Hogan
A Bower Scene
Won’t Want for Love
The Rake’s Song
16 Military Wives
Dracula’s Daughter/O Valencia
A Beginning Song

The Mariner’s Revenge Song

Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Friends, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 825 other followers