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Posts Tagged ‘Gruff Rhys’

The Man Dont Give a F**k – Super Furry Animals

Posted by xneverwherex on February 15, 2016

Super Furry Animals
Heron Oblivion
Great American Music Hall
February 9, 2016

Wales Super Furry Animals (SFA) always puts on a great show and this night was no exception. The whole night was nothing short of awesome. As I had a rental car, I wanted to be sure I parked in a safe spot vs some of the alleyways Im prone to park in with my own car. It was only fitting that as I pulled up a woman was getting out of her car at the same time and turns to me to ask if I was going to the SFA show. Seems we’re off to a great start. To make it all the more interesting, turns out she lives a block from my grandmother. Who said the world really wasnt that small.

SFA - Gruff

SFA – gruff

Then I really wanted to buy a shirt. And Guto, bassist (whom I didn’t even recognize, but guessed he was in the band due to the Welsh accent), had to deal with my lack of cash and actually felt bad that he was taking all of my cash. He was quite concerned; meanwhile I still did not have enough cash for the shirt. He was willing to work with me and gave me the shirt for even less. Man, that totally made my night. And hell, the bands hadn’t even played yet.

Long story short… I really love this band. SFA OK!

The band came out with lead singer Gruff Rhys in his spaceman costume and all the guys in white lab coats with the oh so spacey psychedelic sounds of ‘Slow Life‘ from 2003’s Phantom Power. The song is one of those slow burns as it delves into other styles from the 90s Manchester baggy-dancey rave sounds before it feels like we’re back to the 60’s psychedelia. It’s the perfect song to get the crowd worked up as it just builds with energy.

As if the show couldn’t get any better, they immediately delved into the even more space-y jam ‘(Drawing) Rings Around The World‘. The crowd was really into it with everyone singing along and dancing — and yes, there was a lot of dancing people which is always an awesome thing to see. Plus, most the people around were really cool and actually looked out to make sure they totally weren’t blocking the view.

The set was a good mix of deeper cuts and more popular tracks. Gruff has never sounded better and it was nice to hear him perform with SFA again. It had been far too long (6 years too long!). It’s hard not to re-fall in love with the romantic love songs like “Hello Sunshine” and lyrics as great as “I’m a minger and you’re a minger too, so come on minger, I want to ming with you.” The space-y experimental Pink Floyd-esque Welsh song “Pan Ddaw’r Wawr” always sounds amazing. It’s so hard to not fall in love with the band; their music is all over the place crossing into so many different genres including country-fused ballads like “Run! Christian, Run!

SFA OK

SFA

Their music is always a bit trippy with costume changes seeming to come from space, white coveralls and of course YETIS!! Like seriously, how can any band go wrong when they walk around holding signs saying “applause”, “more applause”, “thank you” and the ever cheeky “resist phony encores”. So naturally, they ended the set in coveralls playing “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck“. It was wild and awesome and so had everyone worked up, fists in the air. And of course they walked off the stage as the song nears the end leaving us just the pulsating sounds of the reverb before the band comes out dressed as Yetis! and kicks it into high gear and finishes off the song with a bang.

And this truly explains why encores are so never needed. If you can finish off a set like this, there is truly no reason.

Opening the set was San Francisco’s own, Heron Oblivion. The band was just recently signed to SubPop Records. The band was tight and this experimental psychedelic band is one to watch. Lead singer/drummer Meg Baird comes from Espers while the other band members came from a variety of other bands including Comets on Fire.

Put them all together and the band is the perfect opening for SFA. Vocals come in here and there but its really all about the 3 guitarists behind her and this blissful psychedelic music they make. Meg’s vocals are haunting as they come through over all the noise. They are definitely a band to catch and I have a feeling they will be opening up for some amazing bands in the near future (or at least one can hope).

Short Clip from “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck About Anybody Else”

The Man Don't Give a F*CK- Super Furry Animals

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Team Me FTW

Posted by xneverwherex on March 24, 2014

Friday March 14
SXSW
Austin, Texas

Friday began with a plan. Too bad I cant read schedules and the Friday schedule I wanted to see was really happening on Saturday. I ended up catching the tail end of Neulore and I really enjoyed their sound. I was bummed I didnt catch more of their set, but I was intrigued and will catch them some other time.

Team Me

Team Me

Then it was off to Maggie Mae’s which was PACKED!! The first band The Soil & The Sun which had a folk-rock sound were quite good, but the sound was so bad it really didnt help. I lasted about 20 mins before taking off to (hopefully) catch Jungle. On the way – I met some guys who were working for Vans/Mohawk (should have taken advantage of it) at some random stage. We were all yelling at the band to figure out who they were. The 2 people on the stage rocked — really great voice, really amazing guitars, the female had some kick ass moves. After a bit of yelling, we found out they were called Schisms. Finally it was off to Vans – Mohawk. I arrived to find a line down the block, up a hill, around a corner (and that included badge holders). So again – I would have to miss Jungle and a bunch of other bands. Story of my life with a lot of the day showcases.

So it was back to the beginning (ie Maggie Maes) — with a quick stop to listen to a really great indie/70s band who had some great songs. The band was so catchy and their sound filled the air. Really punchy guitars, soaring vocals — the band was Temples. OMG. They sounded even better than when I saw them and they were playing even catchier songs. I was standing outside Stubbs — which was impossible to get into (I think Lady Gaga or someone else of that caliber would be there). It worked for me, Stubbs sounds way better outside.

So then I just wandered 6th street and started hearing really great bands. Some guys invited me into a showcase at Trinity Hall (Old School Bar) and damn — it was quite the showcase. I couldnt see everyone, but I wished I could have. I was able to catch another set from Terraplane Sun — still sounding as excellent as before. Same catchy songs – but the guys seemed a little subdued (perhaps the crowd). Music was still as awesome as ever and a few of us were dancing.

Hey Moonshaker

Hey Moonshaker

Then was able to catch about 20 mins of Hey Moonshaker. I wished I had seen longer because these guys were great. The 2 guys had a brotherly love for each other and they talked so nicely about each other. One of them had mad skills with his beatboxing. He had the entire small bar on their feet, making a circle around him. The other guy was great on guitar adding a blues sound to it all. The blend was smooth and they were exciting to watch. 20 mins was way too short and I knew that I needed more.

The next band I had heard so many good things about I was beyond excited for. Although it was back to Maggie Mae’s and that I was worried about. The place was packed (even moreso), but I was somehow able to squeeze in towards the front. I was beyond glad that I did. The band was Team Me from Norway. I had met one of the guys in the band earlier in the day and he was cheerful and friendly. The band had to be the cutest bunch of kids with the young guys in headbands dancing around. The whole band seemed to always be dancing — while playing the keyboards, guitars whatever. They were the HAPPIEST band ever! They also played the cheeriest, sunniest pop music ever!! It was impossible not to enjoy the set and everyone was dancing and clapping. The band ended the set with bringing their instruments and mics into the crowd and singing from deep inside the center of the crowd. Others were playing their instruments, singing with them. It was just pure fun and it couldnt have been a better set!

Mumiy Troll

Mumiy Troll

So I was off — a really great band — what would be next. Mumiy Troll from Russia. The band was quite possibly the best band ive seen here. Funk meets glam with rock. Lead singer Ilya is awesome. He works the stage wearing his black jeans covered with a hula grass skirt. He danced around, played the keyboards, he worked it up a storm. The band entertained and were easily one of the best I had seen.

After that — while I probably could have found more great bands, I opted to check out Gruff’s film ‘American Interior’. I love everything about him and loved the film no less – which retraces the fantastical adventure of his 18th Century relative, the Welsh explorer John Evans. The people Gruff encounters along the way are pretty cool and is a nice look at the other parts of America. Its worth seeing if youre at all interested in history or just love Gruff.

From Wales it was off to Scotland to see the lovely ladies of the Cairn String Quartet. The 4some were quite magical with 3 of them playing violin and the lone cellist. The band performed current beats to classical pieces and just sounded lovely. They had some great song choices with one of Lorde’s song which was easily recognizable and also played from some Scottish artists. They really had a complete range of styles and the crowd just loved them. They ended the set by playing a song from one of the more popular Scottish bands – Franz Ferdinand – and had an awesome rendition of ‘Take Me Out’. The women seemed so excited to be playing and informed us their next set would be very different as they change it up depending on the venue. I would love to see them again sometime and hopefully they will be doing a full tour.

FMLYBND, from Isla Vista (home of UCSB), is a band I was beyond excited to see. Im pretty local to my SB bands and so much wanted to like them. The club was one of those places Id never be caught dead in – offering shots to those on the street and just seemed the total club to be seen. The band, had some major issues, and couldnt seem to get their instruments set up. It took about 40 mins (almost their entire set) before they were even read to play. By that time, their set should have been over. I caught 2 songs and the band sadly just seemed so much more interested in themselves than actually playing anything remotely good. It was somewhat dance-y with lots of guitars and keyboards, but overall just forgettable.

Mas Ysa

Mas Ysa

The only thing that I was happy about, is that I left when I did. I had really been wanting to check out Mas Ysa from Montreal. He is a one-man show blending different styles – folk meets electronic meets love songs. Its a bit melancholy, yet watching him play and manipulate the instruments is far from that. He takes you on a journey with his music and you just get lost in it. He was that good and sounded even better in the church. So of course, I stayed for another artist – Forest Swords from the UK. The band is a twosome with one guy playing guitar and the other one on keyboards. It works well in a very experimental avant-garde style. The music is at times quite heavy but it lifts you at the same time. I didnt last their entire set (was getting sick) but enjoyed them very much.

I also managed to catch some of EMA‘s music – the lead singer was battling being sick so it was a short set and she was losing her voice. The band sounded great. Saturday – which was a bust – I did manage to catch Tumbleweed Wanderers from Oakland — which was an alt country/folky band – not what I was expecting but good and saw another performance from Mother Falcon – even better than when I had previously seen them. Just loving that band.

Overall, SXSW was a huge success. Despite my day being totally ruined on Saturday/Sunday – I got to see a fair number of bands – saw bands I would have never seen (Mumiy Troll from Russia) and saw some other bands that I might never be able to see. This is definitely a festival I will have to do again, but definitely takes a toll on the body.

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NO! Casual Sex on Thursday!

Posted by xneverwherex on March 20, 2014

Thursday March 13
SXSW
Austin, Texas

Thursday was a bit of a somber day around some of the clubs. There was a lot of talk about the accident the prior night that killed 3 people. It was tragic — and I was just blocks away from where it happened. Thankfully, I was hanging out with the rappers.

I started the day out with The Beastie Boys — well not really — but it was a panel about the Beastie Boys and copyright vs fair use laws. It was informative and I NEED to be working for Leslie Frank (or at least at her firm). This is the kind of law that is beyond fascinating. There are no black/white answers when it comes to fair use and this is not the place to get into what happened with them and Goldieblox. Regardless, the conversation was very interesting and most of the crowd agreed that GoldieBlox was in the wrong.

Now onto the music — Oh and Edward Sharpe was a no-show for his panel 😦 😦 😦

As I was eating at the Convention Center I heard some great music from upstairs. So ended up there to check it out. Much to my surprise, it was the EXCELLENT Mary Onettes. Now I had seen them years before, but they were much tighter and sounded awesome. The day stages had some excellent sound systems. The band has some very catchy hooks and great songs. The lead singer has one hell of a great voice. I need to be seeing them again soon.

After that, it was another chance to see NO. And yes, they were still as awesome. They were playing as if they were in a club wanting us all to get up and dance. Didnt quite happen, but everyone loved them. They’re the utmost professionals and know how to put on a show, even if it means rocking out in a sweater. The band has so many infectious tunes, I felt like I knew most of them already after seeing them for just a second time.

Then it was off for some British bands. Battle Lines from Leeds were playing some dancey electronica. The set seemed so short but everyone was having a good time.

Casual Sex - Scotland

Casual Sex

After that it was time for some Casual Sex. Sadly, the band was not offering any (save for the single drummer – who didnt seem too amused) as theyre all in relationships. The band is cheeky and clearly have a great time doing this. The band is from Scotland and Sam Smith, lead singer, is what its all about. He reminds me of Brian Molko – he did put on lipstick during the show – and clearly likes his make-up and dresses (although not in public apparently). Sam also brings to mind the glam Bowie years as well as their music. The band’s music was some good fun jangly guitar rock and you feel like youve been transported back to the glam of the 70s. Their music will get you dancing in no time. A band I will definitely see again.

Later on, it was time to hit up a hotel. The bands were playing at the hotel bar/restaurant and there was a small stage for them. Lys – from France were a really great band. They have this beautiful, lush, dream, indie-pop sound. It was so full and just sweeps you away. The lead singer had amazing vocals and it was great when he paired up with the woman in the band – their melodies were beautiful together. This was perfect music for dinner-time. While it was lush and beautiful they brought they energy with full, ripe guitars. It was just brilliant.

And then the night just went off course. I scrapped what I had planned and just changed it up. The prior night I met the band De Nalgas from Mexico City. I started talking with the drummer Irving when I got confused about Rey Pila playing. He was really cool and invited me to his showcase. He told me they were a punk band and similar to the Clash. I mean seriously, how can anyone miss that. Old school punk and their lead singer has a blue mohawk. So of course, I was going to see them.

I had jumped over to Metal & Lace to check out some bands not knowing what to expect – and OMG Scorpio Rising was the most insane fun band. The band is from Austin and the lead singer was offering all sorts of things to non-locals; oh yeah – shes pretty crazy fun. She was quite acrobatic and it reminded me of a burlesque show. The bassist walked the room as well as outside and pretty much played with everyone in the crowd (including the bartender). They just had so much energy. It was pretty cool. Now I couldnt tell you a bit what they sounded like, but I remember enjoying them.

De Nalgas de Mexico City

De Nalgas

De Nalgas was up next. How do you top that first act – you play straight up punk. And that they did. And they were _THAT_ good!! It was even in Spanish and while not everyone spoke it, everyone was so into it. There were some guys in front moshing (thankfully no crowd surfing). The lead singer, Boris, is an excellent frontman. He tears up that stage and does more scissor kicks then Ive seen in quite a while. He owned the stage and got the crowd really involved. The band all came out in black/white De Nalgas shirts and they all seemed to have tats that said that as well (along with 1989 – the year of their births). And Irving, the drummer, tore it up with one hell of a drum solo. It was f’ing brilliant. Everyone in the band had great camaraderie and were just tight. If punk is your thing, then this band you have to see. And their last song ‘presidente’ – was entertaining with the crowd yelling ‘pinche’ before ‘presidente’. Total bonding experience.

If anyone knows of a venue that needs a punk band to play – do let me know. I know the band would LOVE to play here. Oh and I forgot that this was their FIRST show in the States!

After some punk, it was time for some church. Yeah – really. I ended up spending the rest of the evening at two churches. The first church was Central Presbyterian Church which is a gorgeous church with beautiful stained glass windows. I sat upstairs and the acoustics were amazing. Its a venue just designed for musicians with sound that just carries.

I caught a few songs from Haley Bonar who has this gorgeous voice. The music was lo-fi/minimalist but with her vocals it just filled the church. It has almost a slight country-esque sound to it but comes across nearly haunting. I would definitely see her again. She reminds me of an artist to see on a cold winter night – she would just warm up the room.

One of my favorite bands from the festival were Mother Falcon from Austin. The band, which has about 18 members in it, is a symphonic indie band. The band is all very talented with a lot of them who play multi-instruments. The members seem to take turns on singing the songs and it just works. Their music is so full and rich its hard to not fall in love with them. They do a great Radiohead cover and its quite awesome. This is the type of band that is perfect for this venue. The room just fills with so many sounds, its just poetry in motion.

Curtis Harding

Curtis Harding

Curtis Harding, former backup singer to CeeLo, is one hell of an impressive guy. He’s got blues and soul flowing out of him. He’s from Atlanta and his songs had so much raw passion with so much feeling. The set was way too short for him and he talked some about growing up playing gospel and being in the church. He was so great and I so wanted more, but he had to get to another venue nowhere near and cut it short.

While I am sad that Curtis Harding didnt have a longer set, it did mean I got to hit up another church and check out Gruff Rhys (of Super Furry Animals, of course). So I ended up around the corner at St. Davids Historic Sanctuary. Very different than the other church, there was drinking allowed and the staff was much more casual. Gruff is always a pleasure to see and one I never miss if I can help it. He’s so soft spoken and waited to start the show while others came in. He was polite and kept words to a minimum. He started out the set by asking us to pretend we recognized the song so when he sang it a few minutes later it would seem we were all into it. Classic Gruff. So he played the first line of the song and then stopped. Then restarted the song – we all clap and scream – and he thanks us and he plays the rest.

Gruff Rhys - American Interior

Gruff Rhys

His new music – to accompany his film, American Interior – is just gorgeous. It just works and it so fits the film. Most of the music was about the journey with John Evans – a long, lost relative who may have found the U.S. and the quest to find a Native American tribe that spoke Welsh. The music is just beautiful and so fitting. Kliph Scurlock from The Flaming Lips, joined Gruff on drums. He was awesome. Gruff was pretty quiet with a few things to say — mostly asking the time — and then it ended with something like ‘oh fuck. we’re done’. And of course with that, a few signs were held up ‘thank you’ and ‘the end’. One of my favorites. ALWAYS!!

Typhoon

Typhoon

The night ended with me barely getting back into the other church to see Oregon-based Typhoon. I was able to get in after about 10 minutes and it was so worth it. The band killed it. The band has a bunch of violins, horns and drums but mostly beautiful harmonies. Frontman, Kyle Morton, has beautiful, haunting songs that cover most topics but lots to do with life and death which was fitting for my last band. At 12am the band paused as the pastor of the church came out to say a few words about the tragedy the prior night. He talked about life and death and living life to the fullest of every moment of the day. The band had stopped playing and the church went quiet for the 2 minutes of silence. It was beautiful with a lot of tears. It was so full of emotion. After 2 minutes, Typhoon continued to play. With their 11 members — they brought so much life to the church and the sound just echoed through and it was gorgeous. It was a show to never forget.

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Science & Fiction – A New Year of Shows

Posted by xneverwherex on January 15, 2011

Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals)
Eleanor Friedberger (Fiery Furnaces)
Rockwood Music Hall
1/13/11

Its a new year which of course means lots of new shows. And its easy to judge a year seeing how the first show was.

Well, aside for the fact that I am not a fan of Rockwood Music Hall (for various reasons), it is a great place to see shows. Its small and intimate and seeing a show with maybe 100 other fans is pretty special.

Gruff Rhys definitely does not disappoint live. On stage was just him, a table and a chair. The tables were covered with records and a tiny keyboard along with a few other things. One of the great things about seeing him live is that he really works with the music. He changes things up and makes it interesting if not becoming totally bizarre.

The first song started out with him just putting on a record which he said was Birds from Finland. And sure enough, it was just birds chirping along. He slips on his guitar and starts with the slower songs. As he said, he needed to get these out of the way. “Science & Fiction” was pretty beautiful with just his vocals, a guitar and birds chirping.

Each song was a bit different with other things he’d add to it. He’d wind up a metronome to keep time and you would just hear the click click as it went back and forth before he’d start a song. He always had some funny things to say and was quite funny. He also played a few songs in Welsh, telling us so kindly what he was singing about.

“Candylion” was a definite highlight to the show. As he told a story about a missing CD, which was also on a broken computer, which led to him playing the song with his own 12″ record. With all things crazy, only the first 15 secs of the song had just the drum beats. So he’d start the song on record, sing his vocals, and then he’d have to lift up the needle and go back to the beginning. It was confusing at best, hilarious as hell, and was creative as all get up.

His use of a kids keyboard that lit up when the keys were touched was quite cool. He tried to originally create a song with ‘Gangstas Paradise’ (one of the pre-programmed beats), but ended up using a different beat. His use of playing with sounds, looping his vocals, changing them up and adding his own things to each – really made his music stand out. If anything, Gruff proved to be a hilarious and humble guy and was just having a great time.

Gruff brought along with him Eleanor Friedberger of Fiery Furnaces, a band from NYC that the Super Furries had previously gone on tour with. I knew nothing of them (aside for the fact she used? to date Alex of Franz Ferdinand). Her music was quite good – it was just her and a guitar. She seemed a bit nervous at first but then quickly warmed up to the crowd. She was totally humble and self-deprecating – telling the crowd how she knew we only wanted Gruff. She played some songs of Fiery Furnaces and then some new song she wrote. It was a really short set – maybe 20 mins, but quite enjoyable. Her songs did have the problem in that they werent very distinguishable. Regardless, she was awesome to watch and had a great voice.

All in all – 2 great people – and 1 great night.

Btw – leaving the venue to finding about 20 police surrounding the building and not letting people out of the other doors was pretty crazy. Still trying to figure out if a drug-bust was going down or will it be another LES venue that has doors temporarily shuttered?

Setlist:
Science & Fiction
Sophie Softly
Shark Ridden Waters
Cryndod Yn Dy Lais (Super Furry Animals B-side)
Lonesome Words
If We Were Words (We Would Rhyme)
The Court of King Arthur
Candylion
Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru
Sensations in the Dark
Cycle of Violence
Rubble Rubble
Gwi Mi Wn
Shark Ridden Waters

Gruff Rhys @ Rockwood Music Hall

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