Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Archive for May, 2015

Black English – #OtherCoastConfiguration

Posted by xneverwherex on May 30, 2015

Black English
Vela Eyes
Meet Me In Orbit
(Upstairs @) DNA Lounge
5/29/15

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.

Advertisements

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
Lucius
The Greek Theatre
5/1/15

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
Anti-Summersong
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 »