Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Posts Tagged ‘indie-folk’

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

Advertisements

Posted in Uncategorized | 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 »