Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Posts Tagged ‘indie-pop’

The xx Became A Loud Place @ Bill Graham Civic

Posted by xneverwherex on May 21, 2017

the xx
Sampha
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
April 15, 2017

London trio The xx had a 3 night residency at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in one of the most beautifully lit shows with amazing use of mirrors to capture feelings. The band also had to get some SF activities in, including a stop to see the Giants.

the xx

the xx

The xx came out and immediately started playing “Say Something Loving” off of their new album I See You. As their lush guitars filled up the entirety of the room, it just embraced you. It was so dreamy as Romy Madley Croft‘s vocals came into the song over the guitars. The band played most of their songs from their first album as well as this album.

The band then immediately went into “Crystalised” off their debut The xx. The song had a dark feel and felt like a song that Interpol would have played. It also featured the bass lines of Oliver Sim. As the voices of Romy and Oliver came together, they created melodies that were just beautiful. It was like they were made for each other. “I Dare You” proved that they wrote the perfect pop song. As Romy and Oliver faced each other playing guitars and mirrors turned inwards, it gave the song an intimate feel.

Lips” showed off Jamie Smith’s, better known as Jamie XX, fantastic skills behind the controllers creating impressive beats. He has added in some tropical rhythms giving the song a breezy feeling. Also, The xx covered Jamie XX’s “Loud Places” which transformed the auditorium into a club with everyone dancing as Jamie commanded the room. As the mirrors turned in all directions with the ceiling mirror coming down it felt like the venue just opened up. And for a moment it felt like it wasn’t even a performance.

From seeing them in 2009 opening for bands to headlining 3 nights really showed how much the band had grown. They have turned their introverted minimalist sound outward and their use of mirrors was able to convey that feeling, how it could change the reflections of the lights and really open up the stage or keep it nestled, tight and dark. Their songs have become bigger and Romy’s vocals now soar on their songs.

Highlights of the show included: the great guitar riffs on “Sunset” as well as their dueling vocals before they came into the most gut-wrenching harmonies; the raw performance from Romy as she played “Performance” on her own; “VCR” which gave me chills and reminded me of Bowie as it sounds like an updated version of “Heroes“. Additionally, Oliver dedicated the ever catchy groovy soulful “Dangerous” to all the single people in the crowd who rarely get mentioned.

the xx

the xx

As the band said at the end, “we see each and every one of you. We want you to know that we see you and we love you.” And as the fans left the building, it truly felt like they had touched all of us in their own way.

Label-mate and fellow Londoner Sampha opened up the set supporting newly released album Process. He was backed by 3 additional people: a drummer, a keyboardist and someone on synth pads. The songs varied and ranged from sultry electronic music with deep bass to other songs that had a lot of drums layered into his music. Sampha also used Caribbean island sounds that made his music feel alive.

Sampha preformed the gorgeous song “Too Much” on his own. It was just him on piano and his haunting vocals. The song already received a bit of attention as Drake sampled it. Sampha’s music is destined for a film score in the way that his simple piano pieces conveyed so much emotion. He is definitely not to be missed.

Advertisements

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Canada Night @ Hotel Utah Saloon

Posted by xneverwherex on November 1, 2013

Fast Romantics
Mise En Scene
Bears for Sharks
Hotel Utah Saloon
10/30/13

Wed. night featured bands from Canada at the Hotel Utah. The venue was an interesting space with a pole in the center and couch like seats around it. It made for a very odd playing space. It even had an upstairs. To make matters worse, the crowd was sparse at best with most people there other band members.

Bears for Sharks

The line-up was solid. The bands got exceedingly better as the night progressed. Each band a little better than the one before them. The first band, Bears for Sharks was playing their THIRD show ever. So they’re quite new to the scene – can’t find much on them online. I did like how they seamlessly blended styles. The 3 piece band managed to switch up instruments and singing on most songs. There was a lot of guitar/drums switch-ups going on, with the occasional singer switch up. It was kind of all over the place with all the movement but it somehow worked.

The lead singer (for the most part) had very low vocals reminiscent of Ian Curtis (Joy Division). The drummer/guitarist livened things up with his bear mask. He was definitely the spark of the band bringing them a lightness. Their music ranged from an alt-folk sound to more pop songs. They did hae some catchy songs and for only their third show they proved to be a fun band. Oddly enough, they also brought the biggest crowd with them consisting of lots of family and friends.

Mise En Scene

Next up were the ladies from Winnipeg, Mise En Scene. A two-some (think White Stripes) who wore matching sparkly jackets, brought lots of noise. A noise-pop/guitar driven band, they made the place feel alive and VERY loud. They have a garage-rock meet 60’s girl band sound. And it actually works quite well. Sadly, it was just me and one other girl in the audience aside from other bands. It was like a 30 minute serenade and it was awesome for me. But, Im sure it was more than awkward for the band who seemed to be having lots of sound issues from insanely loud guitars, to feedback, to other things.

Stefanie, lead singer, has amazing powerful, sultry vocals. She is a kick-ass guitarist and sounded amazing. She told some Canadian joke that had the others laughing and was trying to have fun on stage. The drummer, Jodi, was also good but seemed to stay more in the background and didnt say much. Regardless, the band was fun to watch and sounded great despite the problems. Plus, Stefanie is nice as hell which is always a plus. They’ll be at SXSW and with a better venue/better acoustics, etc they should be a band that is NOT to miss.

Fast Romantics, from Toronto now (prior they were in Alberta), was the third band (somehow not the last of their headlining set) and I had been waiting years to see them again. I had remembered enjoying them a lot when I had seen them at CMJ a good 3-4 years back. The members had changed some, but they still had the great pop songs. Their songs are still jangly, fun, catchy, pop(py) songs. Indie-pop goodness!

Fast Romantics

Matthew, lead singer, reminded me of a cross between Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker, wearing a lovely blue/green (the crowd was torn on what color it was) cardigan. Oh yes, he could have been in one of those 90s brit-pop bands. His voice screams Elvis Costello and if you didnt know it, you might even think it was him singing. He’s a great front-man and for our crowd of 12 (at most), he really tried to get us engaged. There was hand-clapping, a slow song that he tried to encourage a make out session (the bassist suggested masturbation for the single people) and trying to get us to dance. I guess someone did oblige him with the make-out session. The rest of the band is really great, from the woman playing keyboards and the other guys that were in the band prior to their new incarnation. They’ve also added a new bassist from Australia. They all have really strong vocals and are great together.

They ended the main set with the ever-catchy ‘Funeral Song’ off their new album Afterlife Blues. They played most the songs off the album, and its great. It’s gotta be one of the catchiest albums Ive heard in a long time. It will have you singing along in no time. The final song was Pulp’s ‘Common People’. Possibly the best cover Ive heard. We were all singing along and dancing and it was truly a great way to end the night. Oh yeah… Im hook, line, SUNK!

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