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Wye Oak – Watching and Waiting

Posted by xneverwherex on July 17, 2016

Wye Oak
Tushka
Great American Music Hall
7/15/16

Baltimore’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack (aka Wye Oak) came to town last night and for so many reasons it was a show not to be missed. I hadn’t seen them since my NYC days (why, I still do not know) and they did not disappoint. It was fairly amusing to see Jenn come out in a tank top, bent over plugging everything in and setting herself up for the show. With no crew, the band is a minimalist act in nearly every way possible.

One of the things I most appreciated (and it seems like perhaps I hadn’t seen/heard this in far too long), was a band who clearly was doing this because they loved it more than life itself. Before playing ‘Civilian‘, and having a very out of tune guitar, she mentioned they were too poor to afford a guitar-tech. She went on to talk about how thankful she was people still came to see them play and people still paid for shows. She mentioned how this was an artist’s life and how if it was not for the fans coming out, they clearly would not still be doing this. Thankfully, Wye Oak still has a big enough fan basis.

Wye Oak

Wye Oak

While the GAMH was not sold out, it was still quite full and even with quite expensive tshirts, there was still a line after the show ended for shirts and records and other things. Probably the best $25 I spent, assuming the band took 100% of profits.

I hadn’t been in a mood to write about shows for a long time. Sure, there’s been good shows (I’ll do a rundown in another post), but none were leaving me with this blissful feeling. Perhaps it comes with humility and a band that does everything for themselves. When I left the show, I felt like I had just seen something even better than expected.

The band opened with “If You Should See“, a very dreamy-pop song that brings back the haunting vocals of Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays. The song is off their new album Tween (a new album of sorts “mini-album” of out-takes between Civilian and Shriek). Their new album is not quite as guitar heavy as their other album but is bringing in some synths to the mix giving it a more light, dreamy feel.

The band’s next song “Better (for Esther)” also off of Tween is a great mix of the old meets the new. When the guitar comes into action it gives the band a nice full song plus shows off how great Jenn is on the guitar. She loses herself in the guitar, just shredding away, head moving to the music. It’s moments like these that the crowd really got into the performance.

Wye Oak played a good mix of their work from the newer to the older. I was never a huge fan of their last album, Shriek, which was more synth-pop. It drifted almost too far from what I had liked about them, but “The Tower” did sound quite great live. This new album has grown on me quite a lot. Dance-y dream-pop songs had never sounded better and Jenn’s vocals were just soaringly beautiful on “Watching the Waiting”. Lyrics that so perfectly rang true, “And there is nowhere I need to go. And there is nothing left to do. And I am sitting watching myself. Watching you. Watching the waiting”.

Wye Oak - Jenn

Wye Oak – Jenn

It was really great to hear their older songs which are just so full and loud with Jenn tearing it up on the guitar. She is so powerful on “Hot As Day” and “Civilian” and gets lost in the music along with the crowd. It’s a lot of noise for just a two-some. Her vocals on these songs have always reminded me of Sharon Van Etten, sultry, powerful and full. “Civilian” had never sounded better, the guitars were so full and loud, the words just pouring out of her, it was pure raw, emotion.

It was an encore so that actually felt so worth it. Jenn and Andy both came across as so appreciative. Plus, it wasn’t just the hits that they came back to. “For Prayer” was great to hear, a much earlier track that fans really appreciated. Ending the set with “Holy Holy” was quite awesome with Jenn shredding the guitar and the crowd energized and dancing along. It was a perfect way to cap off the performance.

Tushka opened the set. Another duo, comprised of two brothers from North Carolina. Phil was in the band Bowerbirds. A mostly electronic R&B pop was a fun opener. The brothers seemed to have a lot of fun on stage and were really getting into the music. Would definitely check them out again if I see their name around.

Setlist:

If You Should See
Better (For Esther)
Shriek
The Tower
Watching the Waiting
Trigger Finger
Before
Sick Talk
Hot As Day
Civilian
No Dreaming
Logic Of Color
I Hope You Die

Encore:
For Prayer
Holy Holy

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Expecting You – A Night of The Great Lake Swimmers

Posted by xneverwherex on June 14, 2015

Great Lake Swimmers
The Weather Station
The Chapel
6/10/15

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.

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Neck of the Woods w/The Hundred Days and Wild Cub

Posted by xneverwherex on July 5, 2013

Its not too often that I get out the word early to check out bands — but this set of bands is worth mentioning. Theyre playing at Neck of the Woods over on Clement Street. Ive yet to go, but considering the bands they get there – Im sure its worth it.

My new favorite band is The Hundred Days. Theyre catchy, dance-y and make a work day go by that much quicker. Theyre from SF and it seems theyve got a few dates around the bay including another date in Oakland at the end of August. But who wants to wait that long — as if the end of July isnt already far enough away.

Theyve got lots of good stuff on their facebook page – but prob better to go to their site to get a free download – http://www.thehundreddays.com/videos/

Wild Cub – the headliner of the set is getting quite a bit of press. They were at CMJ (NYC) last year and are raved about by the likes of Paste, CMJ, and even the Guardian (UK). Hard to go wrong with all these great bands. And their music makes you want to be outside on a beautiful summer day dancing and having a great time with friends.

Lots of their music is here – http://wildcub.bandcamp.com/

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Giveaway! Win a Free 110 Percent Heart Tote Bag

Posted by xneverwherex on March 13, 2013

This is pretty awesome and I highly encourage everyone to check it out — along with T’s awesome blogs/photos/videos. Shes a great photographer with a great eye for whats fashionable!

The TEAR-N TAN Files

Inspired by her New Year’s Resolution to live life 110%, Ame Ame owner Teresa Soroka is living life beyond her potential in hopes of creating a better environment for all.

110 Percent Heart is an indiegogo project Soroka started to create a more sustainable and beautiful world one umbrella, one tote, and one city park at a time.   Millions of umbrellas end up in landfills every year.  These umbrellas usually made from steel or aluminum and petroleum, most of which are produced by sweatshop labor, will be tossed into garbage cans, which eventually end up in the landfills.  As quality is compromised, the constant need for a new umbrella grows, when they are constantly being destroyed from strong winds and poor construction.

garbage-can-broken-umbrellas

Soroka is currently in the midst of producing her own durable and fashionable umbrellas, and her 110 Percent Heart project was created to get funding for these umbrellas. …

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Raise Our Voice, Make Another Sound – The P-Spree

Posted by xneverwherex on April 4, 2012

The Polyphonic Spree
New Fumes
Sweet Lee Morrow

Great American Music Hall
4/3/12

My first show in awhile and my first show since moving back to SF. I couldn’t have chosen a better band for my first show here. The GAMH is a super awesome space. The ceiling is quite ornate in the shape of a woman’s body (thank you, foursquare). Its quite the intimate spot with tables wrapped around the venue making it a great place for dinner and a show.

Sweet Lee Morrow, keyboardist with the Spree, opened the show with a folk acoustic set. He sat down in the middle of the stage with just a lone chair and guitar. He sang a few songs, made some quips about songs not for the young ones (ah the ever great all ages shows) and finished the set in a fast 20 minutes or less. Next up, New Fumes. I was surprised that the audience didnt seem so into it, and for just one guy he had some great beats. An electronica set with interesting beats and Star Wars as a backdrop, not bad. Oh yeah, and danceable music. I was quite loving it.

A few minutes before 10pm and a red sheet/screen is covering the stage. Its a wonder how many members are in The Polyphonic Spree these days and how will they fit them all on the stage. Right away you could tell 2 players would be high up above the others. Soon, a heart is cut out and out pops Tim DeLaughter’s head. The rest of the sheet is then cut and pulled off and GAMH has turned into a stage filled with at least 13 members (although I swore there were more). Way high up above would be the cellist and guitarist. In the center are 2 rows of choir members that are beyond giddy. Of course, my favorites, the horns comprising a french horn, trombone and trumpet.

The Polyphonic Spree

Its a whirlwind pace of a show with white robes swooshing and a big red heart stitched into the middle. Who wouldn’t want to be a member of that cult band. Musical director/lead singer Tim DeLaughter takes us on a tour of the Spree’s musical catalog. Directing the instruments and choir it begins to feel like a gospel baptist church. Its hard to not get caught up in the euphoria that the band brings. Everyone swaying and dancing with hands extended into the air. Plenty of peace signs flashed throughout the show along with heart-shaped hands.

Some of the highlights included ‘2000 Places’ which early on got the crowd moving and dancing. The new single ‘Bulls Eye’ sounds quite great. The Who medley was pure brilliance as Tim leads the band through a nearly 10 minute performance that includes a rockin’ ‘Pinball Wizard’. The french horn and cello got lots of play during that. ‘What Would You Do’ had the choir doing some great harmonies and vocals.

So soon they’d be off the stage. Tim said how awesome it was to be in SF again and how they’d be back again real soon. As in one month, maybe one night, and then he said theyd play again today at 7:30am and asked if we’d be there. Obviously, if there was a 7:30am show we’d all be there regardless.

The band then left the stage for a few minutes before coming on and doing a march through the crowd. The band members kept on coming – high-fiving the crowd and waving hello. The encore consisted of ‘Together we’re Heavy’, crowd favorite ‘Light & Day’, ‘We Sound Amazed’ and ‘The Championship’. It is one hell of a one-two punch when oen of the last songs you’re singing is ‘Follow the day and reach for the SUN!’ – which should be an anthem for the band (and prob for most of us in general). The band finally left the stage (after a nearly 2 hour set) for good with each member walking off the stage and waving goodnight. As the band members left soon it was the cellist, who seemed to be having a hard time getting down from the riser and 2 singers and Tim. As each person left it got a little quieter, but the audience got louder. Soon it was just us and Tim singing ‘All in good time, we’ll come round, raise our voice, make another sound’. And then it was just us and the audience continued singing that line and simply put… it was beautiful.

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Im The Great White Hope

Posted by xneverwherex on December 15, 2011

The National
Sharon Van Etten
Beacon Theatre
12/13/11

The National have returned home (well across the river anyway) to finish up the year with 6 nights at the Beacon Theatre. These are the final shows for the latest album, High Violet. It seems like they have been out supporting this album now forever. But the time has come, and this is it.

The National came out to what felt like the longest version of Duran Duran’s ‘Wild Boys’. Finally, after the entire song had played the guys came out to a fairly sedated theatre. They opened the set with ‘Start A War’ which is a pretty slow song and not a bad way to start the set. Continuing with the Boxer album, they went right into ‘Brainy’ which was beginning to get the crowd excited. Slowly, people started getting on their feet.

The National

Matt joked about the prior night with some people standing, some sitting, random parts of the theater doing their own thing. And encouraged us to do what we wanted. At this point everyone was standing in the orchestra. Sadly, it was not the case for the upper levels. The sound was just beautiful in the Beacon. It filled the entire room with Matt’s soaring vocals. The Dessner brothers sounded really great on guitars and keyboards.

As with most of their shows, there were a few special guests. Conrad from Takka Takka was an additional drummer who played the entire set. At one point it sounded like they were introducing an ‘Andy’ Clark, but nope it was actually Annie Clark of St. Vincent. While she isn’t Sharon Van Etten (who is, really?), she did add some nice harmonies. She performed with them on ‘Im Afraid of Everyone’ and ‘Sorrow’. I wasnt sure those songs needed her (well esp I’m Afraid of Everyone), but it was great to see her accompany them.

As always Matt made a few appearances in the crowd. He did come over to the section that I was at and was hanging on the stairs but no one even seemed to pay him any mind. It was sad and beautiful all at once and then he was back in the front singing in another corner. It always has a nice feel to it, even if its become part of the stage show.

The visuals and lighting worked out quite great. Unfortunately for Sharon Van Etten, there was a heavy spot light on her, that had you seeing dots in your eyes after about 5 seconds. But that was gone, thankfully! With the backdrop screen of images of the band members and the crowd, you were always able to see the entire band and the guests.

It was great to hear them introduce Sharon Van Etten who came out for a proper encore with them on ‘Think You Can Wait’. And from that they went straight into ‘Fake Empire’ which always sounds amazing live. Other highlights included ‘Abel’, but really to the girls behind me, how do you talk through that whole song. The crowd was revved up and peoples hands in the air and singing along. It is one of my favorite songs performed live along with ‘Mr. November’. Sure, theres songs I didnt get to hear ‘Mistaken for Strangers’, but with all the times Ive seen them, I seriously cant complain.

Easily the very last song was the crowning moment. The band had left the stage only to come back center stage with Annie Clark, Sharon Van Etten, and of course, Wye Oak. I wasnt entirely sure it was them but it sure was! ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ was just beautiful. Sans microphones and the entire band huddled together was a pretty awesome way to end the night.

And while Ive mentioned her a few times, I can say that Sharon Van Etten always sounds amazing! She has some of the strongest vocals. Her songs are great and kick-ass and her new guitar, oh yeah, looking pretty sweet. And of course, it meant we were treated for a song or two with Aaron Dessner. The pair of them make beautiful music together.

For those hoping for one last time, (for now), its highly recommended. The shows arent sold out and theres an abundance of tickets around. Not that Im one to actually promote using stubhub or the like, but since theres so many shows now, it seems you can get same day tix for $17. Either way, if you havent yet seen them, there still is time.

Setlist:
Start a War
Brainy
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Squalor Victoria
Afraid of Everyone
Conversation 16
Rylan
Abel
Lit Up
Wasp Nest
Sorrow
Anyone’s Ghost
I Need My Girl
England
Mr. November

Think You Can Wait
Fake Empire
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

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The Irish Bring the Rock!

Posted by xneverwherex on October 11, 2009

9/29/09

U2/Muse – FedEx Field – Washington, DC (actually Maryland)

Hard to believe, but I had never seen U2 before. I dont know what was with my hang-up about not seeing them, but I just never did. But my days of being a U2 virgin are long gone and I couldnt be happier about that.

Basically, U2 BLEW MY MIND AWAY! Im pretty sure that not many concerts (in my lifetime) will live up to this. Its hard to see something this magnaminous as most bands couldnt even afford a set costing this much. A couple hundreds of millions of dollars??!! The set itself is just sick. It looks nearly like a spaceship and has all these bridges that come down on different parts of the stage. Dubbed the 360 tour its literally in 360 and theres not a bad spot in the house. Well there probably is, but considering we were in the more front area and Bono and The Edge were coming down a lot by us, it was surreal.

The set was amazing! Consisting of pretty much songs from all their different albums and plenty from the new, it was hard to leave disappointed. Sure they didnt play “Pride” and sure theres a ton of stuff that Id have loved to have heard, but from what I did hear — I LOVED IT! Sunday Bloody Sunday – Impressive!, Uno Dos Tres Catorce – the opening lines to Vertigo was just awesome. Beautiful Day – oh yeah! Basically, it was hard to go wrong with their set.

Bono was as chatty as ever and more political than probably at most shows. But it was WDC and it was to be expected. He had foreign dignitaries there as well as some of the Hill people, but it was fine with me. He’s done a lot for Africa and wants to make the world a better place. Its hard for me to find fault with what he does  – granted Im one of those bleeding heart liberals.

The real highlight was Bono within fingertips from me. I could have never imagined I’d be so close to him. The Edge is just brilliant live and cant forget Larry either – him walking down a walk way playing the bongos – yeah brilliance again! And of course Adam Clayton. All in all – the band is just brilliant and hopefully will continue to play on through the years.

And if you havent yet seen “It Might Get Loud” seriously – go out and see it now! I have to say from seeing Edge on the big screen to seeing him live a few hours later was really surreal.

The Muse opened. And yes, I know thats not t heir name, but as Bono now calls them that, it seems fitting. They played their big indie prog rock songs that just seemed to go on and on. Each song seeming bigger and more grandiose than the prior song. It was pretty much a best of set list and so I knew most of the songs. Matt Bellamy is beyond talented and theres no denying that they could be huge, but Ill take my U2 any day!

the space ship set –

oh yeah –  Bono this close to me – so made the show something else

U2

Main Set

  1. Breathe
  2. Magnificent
  3. Get On Your Boots
  4. Mysterious Ways
  5. I Still Havent Found What I’m Looking For/Stand By Me (snippet)
  6. Elevation
  7. Your Blue Room
  8. Beautiful Day/Blackbird (snippet)
  9. New Years Day
  10. Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of (Acoustic)
  11. The Unforgettable Fire/Mofo (snippet)
  12. City of Blinding Lights
  13. Vertigo/Let’s Dance (snippet)
  14. Ill Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight/Dont Stop Till You Get Enough (snippet)
  15. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  16. MLK
  17. Walk On

Encore 1

  1. One/Amazing Grace (snippet)
  2. Where The Streets Have No Name

Encore 2

  1. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
  2. With Or Without You
  3. Moment of Surrender

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A Night Left to the Fates

Posted by xneverwherex on September 20, 2009

That sounds like a good title for a Decemberists song, right? Well dont worry – this is about the Decemberists 🙂

Ive decided that Im going to get back on the game (or is that the horse) and start to update this on a regular basis. Theres so many great concerts out there – and so many Ive seen.

According to The Decemberists website this is what we would get – Decemberists will perform a set that will be entirely left to the hands of fate — we will draw songs from a lottery and dutifully play them, regardless of their quality or presence in our memory. Decemberists songs, naturally, but you do never know what bizarre cover songs or strange commands may end up in the pile.

And yes – this was a set left entirely in the hands of fate – along with also the hands of John Wesley Harding. As emcee of the show, he did quite a good job. He was a little too talkative for my taste, as Id have preferred to have heard more songs. And I definitely was not a fan of him throwing out songs at the end. What no “Engine Driver”, which happens to be one of my favorite songs. But he was entertaining and had to throw about some other ridiculous requests. Not sure how many other crowd surfing requests there actually were.

Decemberists did their best to keep things in order. The only thing actually not in order was they did play Crane Wife 3 and then went straight into The Island. And that worked out quite well. It was great to see Laura Veirs on Yankee Bayonet as the last time this was supposed to happen their show was cancelled. The songs were pretty all over the place and Id have loved to have heard even more of their popular songs, but – as left to the hands of fate you never know what youll get.

The Tain was definitely interesting and lasting 20 mins. Im quite sure this will be the first and last time I ever get to hear it played. Colin did write a song about The Hudson River, NYC and Sully and considering it was on the fly, it was pretty damn awesome. Marcel did some crowd surfing which was pretty funny and yes, even Nate and John made out, although Im almost sure there was no tongue. I was right in front of Jenny and she was looking like she was having a great time as always.

The final song was just awesome. Im a big fan of ELO, hahaha, and this was an awesome cover. I got some great video of it and Colin hopping around.

The good: hearing songs Id never have heard otherwise and in general an awesome idea. it was the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect, the perfect crime!

The bad: not enough music. 15 songs in 2 hours really. Not much of Colin Meloy talking 😦 and way too much John Wesley Harding talking.

Laura Veirs was a good opener. She plays a folky-indie style of music and has a great voice. Her backing band is also quite good. Plus, without her we’d not have her wonderful addition on “Yankee Bayonet”.

Setlist:

  1. Yankee Bayonet (w/Laura Veirs)
  2. July July
  3. The Raincoat Song
  4. Bridges and Balloons
  5. From My Own True Love
  6. Bachelor & The Bride
  7. Rake Song
  8. Culling of the Fold
  9. Marcel crowd surfs to a waltz
  10. I Was Meant For The Stage
  11. The Island
  12. Crane Wife 3
  13. Annan Water

Encore 1

  1. Nate & John Make Out
  2. Colin Writes a Song
  3. The Tain
  4. The Perfect Crime 2

Encore 2

  1. Mr. Blue Sky (ELO cover)

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Johnette

Posted by xneverwherex on November 10, 2006

11/9/06

Johnette Napolitano – Joe’s Pub

Ventured on down to the East Village to finally go to Joe’s Pub. (Great suggestion Luke). Great little place, that is a very intimate place to see bands. Lots of small tables, barely big enough to keep your plates on. Good food and cake that is to die for.

Johnette – her name needs no introduction. How many Johnettes can one name. For me, theres only been one. Napolitano. The former lead singer of Concrete Blonde, with a voice that can hit amazing notes. Remember that overly popular song ‘Joey’, she sings it even better live. Playing acoustic, and living in the deserts of California (Joshua Tree), she is now creating art in addition to her music. I was lucky to see her play, as there weren’t a whole lot of shows. Johnette seemed excited, and there was lots to be excited about. New York had amazing weather – high 60’s -, the democrats (senate & house) are now in office, and an audience that adores her. What more can she want.

 At times, I imagined this might have been what it would have been like to see Janis Joplin play some small club. She came out talking about what a great time and great changes would be seen. She talked and talked about all the different things going on. From the outbreak of AIDS, to seeing friends die, and she had a story for most songs. Her voice has amazing range, and she is a great guitar player. Her Nick Cave cover (dueted with a guy in the audience) was quite beautiful. “New Orleans ain’t been the same since youve been gone” sounded incredible live, and her story accompanied with the song is quite haunting as well. She played for an hour, before she took off, coming back for an encore. The audience truely couldnt get enough of her. She was so grateful for everyone, it was great to see. She played music from Concrete Blonde, solo work and covers. It was a great combo. and showed just how much talent she still has. Oh, and of course, you can see her artwork on her website 🙂

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CMJ Closing

Posted by xneverwherex on November 6, 2006

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Dave & Pete - Birdmonster

Dave & Pete – Birdmonster,
originally uploaded by xneverwherex.

11/4/06
The Annex – Brooklyn Vegan Show – Takka Takka, White Whale
Sin-E – Underrated Show – Birdmonster, Ra Ra Riot, Division Day, The Head Set

Well CMJ came to a close on Saturday, but there were enough shows to keep someone busy all day. I ended up only going to see the day-shows as I just was exhausted from about 20 shows in 4 days. It was rough! But there were no complaints, as I had an amazing time.

Showed up at The Annex just around noon on Saturday morning. It was definitely an interesting experience seeing this club in the light of day. Most people showed up, looking half asleep and/or hungover, with lots of coffee. There were free sparks to definitely help wake up the crowd, and it was needed.

Takka Takka started off the morning. I must say, from the stuff I had heard I was not a big fan, but after seeing them live, it changed my mind. It was a perfect way for the morning to begin, with great melodies, and just a calmness to their whole set. The music all fit together really well, and the band performed a very solid set. It was enough to make me want to go see them again.

Next up was White Whale. I really liked their stuff, but for me it was a bit too loud for 1pm. I’m not sure my body was entirely awake, and the crowd was near packed at this point. It was hard to see at points, and I just found myself thinking about other things. Its definitely a band I’d need to see again, hopefully a bit later.

After a short stroll over to Sin-E, I was on for the best day of CMJ. While neither of these were actually CMJ shows, they still honored CMJ badges, so I’ll call them CMJ shows. Hannah and I arrived at Sin-E, to see the guys of Birdmonster hanging out outside the venue. Friendly as always, they seemed excited. We walked in to catch a handful of songs from The Head Set. The Head Set are a very pop-friendly band, and reminded me at times of U2. Soaring guitars, and great melodies. And what seemed like big songs. It was easy to get into their music. I really wish I had gotten to see more of their set, but that will have to wait for another time. Luckily for me they are NYC band.

Next up – Division Day. I was really excited to see Division Day, as the first time I saw Birdmonster one of the band members was wearing one of their shirts. I had noticed that the two of them play together quite frequently. So, I figured if Birdmonster were big fans of Division Day, I would be one too. And so right I was. The music was easy to get into, and with Pete up front cheering on the guys with such enthusiasm, it was hard to not be enthusiastic with him. They sound very indie pop and could easily be one of the new next big things. Pete joined them for a song onstage helping out with the drums, and it was fun to see everyone jam together.

After that was Ra Ra Riot. I had missed them the night before. The band consists of a violinst and cellist which is pretty cool. They really get into the music and their sound is a nice change from all the other pop. It stands out, and they are talented. Fun, pop music, it was hard not to start dancing. Their cover of “Hounds of Love” from Kate Bush, which also was recently covered by the Futureheads, but the Futureheads version to same. With all the other instruments the song is just beautiful. Granted, The Futureheads do have absolute incredible harmonies on that song, so they are each equally good. I cant wait to see them again.

And finally was Birdmonster. I had spoken with Pete before his set, telling him I had seen him the prior night, and how great the band was. Also was hoping that on a trip to SF, I might be able to see them in their hometown. Its looking very unlikely. Birdmonster is like a huge ball of energy, that just gets bigger and bigger until it has to break and the energy comes flying out at high speeds, full of emotion and intensity. And this describes the band to a tee. The guys have such a great time on stage together, in any picture one sees of them, they always have huge smiles. Its nice to see a band thats really happy to be playing and love what they do. Their set was beyond amazing, and Pete sounded great as always, while Dave was incredible on guitar, Justin solid on bass, and Zach excellent on the drums. Dave really rocked out on the guitar, so into the music feeding off of Justin and Pete’s energy.

All in all, this was by far the best set that I had seen. All the bands were so excited to be playing with each other, that it was a perfect line up.

Which means- how can I afford another trip to SF to see them on NYE?

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