Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

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Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

Vagabon Proved She Won’t Be A Small Fish For Long At The Rickshaw Stop

Posted by xneverwherex on March 25, 2017

Vagabon
Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz
Joyride!
Rickshaw Stop
March 23, 2017

Coming to SF straight from SXSW with lots of well-deserved hype was Vagabon. Vagabon is producer and musician Lætitia Tamko, born in Cameroon and raised in NYC. In a far too short set, she played nearly all of the songs off her debut album Infinite Worlds. Vagabon, who played a number of songs with just a guitar and synthpads, also brought 2 other women musicians with her for some added bass and drums.

Vagabon

Vagabon

Vagabon’s haunting vocals brings an emotional punch to the songs. During “Cold Apartment” you can feel the angst in her voice and it clings to your skin. There is such a rawness and vulnerability and it feels stripped to the bone, yet the moment the drums and bass join in it packs a real punch. “Minneapolis” bursts out with punk aggression and explodes with lots of guitars and bass and has you stomping along in no time.

Lætitia even teased us with her new song as the other musicians left the stage. She literally had just written it and it was still a work in progress. In her new song she has a line about the moon and her lyrics are so picturesque that you can visualize her words. She knows how to bring more than emotion to her songs and uses her words expressively.

She ended the set with single “The Embers“. As she sang “I’m just a small fish” repeatedly over punk drums and the crowd sang along, it was clear that she would not be a small fish for long. As she said early on, with a huge smile on her face, “Thank you all for coming. This is fucking crazy.”

Philadelphia’s Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz had a hard act to follow. She said right away that she didn’t want to keep the crowd waiting and came on earlier than expected. She started the set by stating that “I hate men, but I love California” and then went into playing 2 songs about California. Her song “I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California” is a catchy lo-fi bubble-gum pop song.

Some of the songs were more catchy than others and it seemed to lull in the middle before picking up again with new song “Charlie” off her debut album Tourist in This Town. Her songs tended to work better when she harmonized with her guitar player as it gave her songs a more interesting fuller sound. The band ended their set pretty early on saying there was just one more song. It seemed that the energy was just waning but it worked out as all the bands played the same amount of time. She ended the set with their very catchy song, “Dean’s Room“. It was one of their more dancey songs, which the crowd loved, and sounds like it came courtesy of New Order with their recognizable keyboards/percussive hooks.

Locals Joyride! opened up the set. The very loud trio, fronted by Jenna Marx, is bringing the ’90s pop punk sound back. During “Don’t forget the first one”, as the drums and guitars quiet, Jenna’s sugary pop sweet vocals burst through the song. It made the song feel alive and brought freshness to set it apart from their other songs. Their 20 minute set, which felt far too short, consisted of tight pop punk songs that came alive with their explosive energy and loud guitars. It was a great way to start the set and get the crowd ready for an incredible evening of music.

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Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas w/Aimee Mann

Posted by xneverwherex on December 7, 2015

Aimee Mann & Ted Leo Holiday Show
w/Special Guests Liz Phair, Jonathan Coulton and John Roderick
Bimbo’s 365 Club
12/6/15

In a random twist of events, I ended up at Bimbo’s last night for the Aimee Mann, Ted Leo Holiday show. Let’s just say that there might be hope for Tinder, really. The guy was from Chicago, so obviously he’s already got cool points because thats where Liz Phair is from and well it’s Chicago, and he’s obviously got great taste in music. I had always wanted to go to this show, but just never bought tickets and it seems it usually sells out. All I know is that it’s fully worth the money and next year (assuming it’s happening again), I’m all over it.

I had seen Ted Leo quite a bit in NYC but not on a tour like this and I had missed The Both (his and Aimee Mann’s collaboration). It was a really great set consisting of some really bizarre Christmas tunes and just some great stories. Apparently Ted was running for office in the North Pole as FrosTED the snowman (costume too) (term limits came into effect), and as Aimee mentioned – another white guy running for office and he had a platform/campaign with an awesome poster. Him and Aimee have great chemistry on stage and just feed off of each other.

Holiday Show w/Aimee Mann, Ted Leo

Holiday Show w/Aimee Mann, Ted Leo

With so many great guests coming together (hello Liz Phair) it was an awesome experience. She came out early in the set to perform “Supernova” along with Aimee and Ted. It sounded as great as ever and maybe better with the addition of the two of them. I did really enjoy the holiday songs that Aimee and Ted performed with Aimee’s lovely voice on “Winter Wonderland” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas“. Perhaps the best of the night was Jonathan Coulton‘s help on a new rendition of “Superstar” from Jesus Christ Superstar – with new lyrics “Jesus Claus” “Santa Christ” it was blasphemous and hilarious and so worth seeing.

I’m not sure the show got better than the moment that Aimee came out to sing “Save Me” which was haunting and beautiful as ever. So much pure, raw, emotion. Ted helped out with guitars and vocals and missed the 2nd half of the song as he got so enrapt with Aimee’s vocals and just listened in and forgot to sing. It was *that* special. Plus, she even did the “original” version of “Voices Carry” from Til Tuesday. Apparently, the original version is not what we ever heard on the radio which was about trying to get presents from her step-dad. But, apparently it didnt go well with radio peeps with lyrics like “Hush hush / He’s your dad now / This is Gary”. I think this song will be forever tainted in my head with these new lyrics.

Aimee and Ted clearly have a wicked sense of humour and really play off of each other well. And John Roderick – and a song about Atari 2600 called “2600” was pure awesome. Lots of talk about Atari vs ColecoVision and other ancient video games. It clearly wasn’t necessarily a show for the young hipster crowd, as even my date didn’t even recognize Til Tuesday. Also, there was a great rendition of “You’re A Mean One Mr Grinch” which really showcased Aimee’s beautiful vocals.

In their 2 hour set, it seemed so much happened and was learned. Aimee was once married to Santa Claus (he had no time for her), Ted Leo learned the elections were not happening, he also has a dad who cries mysteriously when some Christmas donkey song is played (report back NYC when he brings his dad on stage for this), Jonathan Coulton (who was initially dressed as Santa Claus) is really Jesus, and the lovely Liz Phair goes all out for decorating the tree so much that you can’t even find her family. What can be better than a night spent like that, hearing lovely stories and laughing a lot and bringing in the holiday spirit.

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Bring on Brooklyn: Battles + Buke & Gase

Posted by xneverwherex on October 17, 2015

Battles
Buke & Gase
The Fillmore
10/9/15

I had avoided Battles for awhile just because they seemed like another experimental/art-rock outfit from Brooklyn doing something really out-there; which is not to say that they aren’t any of the above. The band might possibly be more weird/avant-garde than I thought, but perhaps people change (or as I get older, maybe I’m willing to think/listen outside the box). Putting that all aside, seriously, what on earth was I missing.

Battles

Battles

The trio from Brooklyn did not disappoint. While waiting for the band to come out, it was impossible not to notice the insane drums front and center of the stage with a crash cymbal that was beyond high for the average person, yet somehow was perfect for John Stanier. And then to his right (in front of me) the dueling upside down keyboards of Ian Williams and of course the band wouldn’t be complete without Dave Konopka‘s guitars/pedals.

Battles started out with the ridiculous sick ‘Dot Com‘ off of their new album La Di Da Di . Dave starts it out with repetitive loops that seem to carry on and on as the song has a slow build of just him until finally the guitars come in then throw down some synth beats. By the time a good solid 5 minutes have gone by the drums finally come into play. Have no doubt about Stanier — the guy is ridiculous. The way he seamlessly hit the insanely high cymbal while sitting down making it look so easy. He is quite possibly the best drummer I might ever see. He puts drummers to shame the way he went took to the drums. By the time the first song ended, the guy was dripping in sweat.

And then if you really wanted to dance, Battles went straight into ‘Ice Cream‘. One of the few songs that isn’t entirely instrumental featuring Matias Aguayo’s vocals. Its catchy and dance-y even if its all loops and blips and just makes you want to move. Guitars, synths, instruments all sounding like other instruments its one of the most brilliant songs.

Battles is like an aural symphony. The different, unique sounds and the way it comes together seems so organic like its happening fresh before your eyes. Even if they’ve done the same setlist night after night – it never felt old. There was so much sweat flying everywhere you could tell the band played their heart out. Even after they talked about San Francisco (“their favorite city to play in”), even as Dave kindly admitted they said the same thing the night prior in Portland – it was clear that they were having an awesome time. They even joked about how many cliche things they could say about San Fran, Cisco – and even asked what they should call it. But it was clear – they were at The Fillmore – and super excited to be playing there.

FF Bada‘ was beyond catchy and really showed how well the band played off of each other. Different time signatures and music all over the place – it somehow comes together and fits perfectly. The band was focusing mostly on their new album but did play ‘Atlas‘ which was definitely a crowd favorite. While not a lot of songs were played, the songs that were played seemed to go on forever and blended together like a beautiful symphony of sound. What more could one want.

Buke & Gase

Buke & Gase

Buke & Gase also of Brooklyn opened the set. If Battles was pretty out there, Buke & Gase held their own with also being pretty bizarre. I had seen them before in New York opening for The National and also with Ra Ra Riot and remember liking them but this time may have been more memorable. The duo Arone and Aron play hand-made instruments that are beyond creative. Arone plays the ‘toe-bourine’ which is exactly as it sounds (tambourines played as she click clacks across the stage) as well as the “buke” (six-string baritone ukulele) while Aron plays the “gase” (a guitar-bass hybrid).

Their music is definitely interesting and started off on the slow side until it really started to hit a stride. Arone has beautiful vocals that are strong and just flow with the sounds. Lots of solid repetitive beats and just a really unique experimental sound. Its pretty amazing that with just 2 people there are so many instruments that are heard. The band is beyond creative and definitely has their own style. If you’re into avant-garde/experimental music – these bands are both worth checking out!

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F**K Yeah Fest (FYFFest) Festival 2015 – Day 2

Posted by xneverwherex on September 15, 2015

FYF Fest
August 22-23
The LA Sports Arena & Exposition Park

While Day 1 was pretty incredible … it was really all about Day 2 – Saturday. And it was really all about just 3 bands. We showed up late into the day and strolled into the park right as Spiritualized was taking the stage in the Arena. The Arena couldn’t have been a more perfect place for the band to perform.

The show was pretty sparse which was a bit of a surprise with a near empty floor. We opted for the seats up above and werent too far away with amazing views. The band was swathed in lights and it made for one of the best light shows of the festival. “Lord Let It Rain On Me” sounded just beautiful – with loud, fuzzy guitars and the women vocalists in the backdrop. Jason Pierce’s vocals were just beautiful as they echoed through the arena and filled the room. And then it just melted into “Electricity“. Its hard to have even imagined a more perfect set than what the band gave to us.

Spiritualized

Spiritualized

Throw in some heavy, droning guitars and turn it up and one hell of a laser light show and its pure electricity. Jason’s vocals were haunting through the loud guitars and filled the air. The crowd below swayed with a few people jumping around. It was just an electric, raw feeling that I knew I wouldn’t get from any other band. And soon after, the very space-y jam “Electric Mainline” that you can just close your eyes and feel like youre in the music – it just takes you away as the guitars drone on and on and your body just moves with it. Such a beautiful feeling. And naturally, as this song came on the joints started getting passed back and forth behind me and the arena started looking like it was one big cloud of smoke.

The show just got better and better with “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)“, “Oh Baby” (which really emphasized the background singers – who of course sounded amazing!) and eventually coming to the end with the Spacemen 3 cover “Walkin’ With Jesus” which always makes me feel like I’m in a church with such powerful lyrics. Spiritualized ended the set with “Come Together” which couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to the set. That song just takes you away — your body moves to the music – heads swaying/bobbing back and forth — and then the loud guitars come in and BAM! It’s pure heaven! And they were just awesome!

And then came a bit of a wait – as I checked out some bands. Battles sounded awesome and are so worth seeing again. The 3-some from NYC and their experimental art-electronic rock sound were a really great time. “FF Bada” is pure catchiness, if not a totally out there song but it had the crowd moving and snapping along. And then of course, there’s “Ice Cream” which is so hard to go wrong with. Its pure catchy, love, hip shaking, infinite loops that are always changing and dance around fun! What’s not to love about this band!

Following Battles, was LA’s Health. The loud, VERY loud rock/experimental band, could be heard from nearly everywhere. I had seen them before and just loved them, but this time just couldn’t get into them. It just seemed like screamo rock without much else, but perhaps it’s just their new album or just not a great set up. Either way, sadly, I didn’t stay to hear much of them. Did attempt to see Solange as I had heard great things about her, but after not starting within 15 minutes of her start time, I ended up taking off. Not sure what time she eventually came on. But I had places to be … as in needed to get past the famed 1984 Olympic site with the lovely olympic rings to see hear some ‘Stars of Track and Field’ aka Belle & Sebastian.

And finally, we were getting to the best of the best. Scottish band Belle & Sebastian were clearly up for a good time. They had recruited members of the audience to be part of the show and they just danced on the sidelines for the most part; although one girl, who apparently thought she was the show, seemed to end up in Stuart’s lap quite a bit. While it was a bit distracting, it really didn’t seem to matter all that much.

Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian opened with “Nobody’s Empire” off their newest album Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance. Its fun and catchy and a great way to start the set. Singer Stuart Murdoch seemed in great spirits and just wanting to have fun. It was awesome that there were so many people on stage as well as so many instruments. And if you wanted to dance, the set could’t have been more perfect. They jumped right into “Im A Cuckoo” and everyone was dancing and bouncing around. Pure blissful fun indie-pop. It could only get better.

Stuart asked the Angelenos (pronounced in a way only a Scotsmen could say) if we wanted to party on this Sunday night before going right into “The Party Line“. And just like that Stuart was dancing and on the screens there were people dancing with their great little dance moves. If that couldn’t get a crowd dancing than nothing would.

Stuart was beyond chatty – talking between songs and adding a lot of banter. But of course the real highlight (even if all too predictable) was “The Stars of Track and Field“. He joked about how most of us weren’t alive during the olympics but he remembered watching it in 1984. And of course, with the olympic stadium behind us — it was hard to not be touched. Jokes about the jetpack man (where is he now?) and of course Carl Lewis on the big screen as the band played on. It was just too awesome and how often (if ever) can you say you saw a band play the most perfect song at the most perfect place. Even if it ended here, I’d have been beyond happy.

The band played just an awesome set. Couldn’t have been happier to hear “The Boy With The Arab Strap” as Stuart jumped over to the keys and sounded just perfect. They recruited a trumpet player from the area and it worked out quite well. He was awesome. The band ended the set with “Judy and The Dream of Horses” and sounded awesome — clarinet players, FTW! It was just a great set… so the only real question in my mind was — Will Morrissey be even better? 🙂

And clearly, the best had yet to come. The crowd surged forward and everyone needed to get as close to Moz as humanly possible. At this point – I went to the side as I was not about to get crushed. Sadly, I had missed Moz in July in San Jose, so it was a long time coming (he manages to cancel all of his SF shows, so thankfully I saw him plenty in NYC)… And Morrissey did NOT disappoint. Coming out in jeans and a bright blue long sleeved shirt and the band sporting Crapitol Records, he was at his finest. He had the best images on the large screen behind him and with the Queen Mum flipping us off, Morrissey started the show with “The Queen is Dead“. He sounded as great as ever and starting with a Smiths song!!! I didn’t really care what happened after this, as at this moment it was pure happiness.

The crowd went crazy as the next song was “Suedehead“. Seriously, how could it not be more perfect. Everyone started singing along and it was louder than Morrissey himself. I swear, if I hadn’t seen him before, I would have been crying with all the emotion I felt at this moment. I felt like I was back in highschool and seeing him all over again for the first time. He still works the stage better than any other performer I’ve seen. He plays to his fans and LA fans are serious about Morrissey. They love him like no other. (Next LA show, I am flying down). There was so much security protecting Moz, no one could really climb on stage so naturally Moz had to chastise them saying there were too many of them! Its a sick love/hate relationship with Moz and his security.

Morrissey

Morrissey

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Morrissey show if he didn’t express his views and show it in the hard-cold reality. He had choice words about our police and all of the police brutality. With images on the screen of black men getting beaten up by police, its hard to be surprised by what he shows. He had choice words about Obama, American politics, British Royalty and of course, meat. He has probably become more in your face over the years, but its hard to not love him. He doesn’t hide from his views and is always confrontational. Good thing him and Kanye weren’t playing the same night.

World Peace is None of Your Business” sounded just great and it was also awesome to hear that he now sings a bit in Spanish and has clearly learned quite a bit of Spanish thanks to all of his time in LA. And then soon after even more Smiths. As soon as he started with the opener of “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before“, the crowd went crazy and everyone was singing and dancing along. It just got better and better. I can’t even begin to fathom how it was so perfect. “First of The Gang To Die” which is a perfect song to be playing in South Central. “Meat Is Murder” was just awesome to hear and its hard to imagine dancing along as he performed it with all the images of animals being slaughtered. It was so Morrissey and it was hard to not feel nauseous watching it all. Some guys around me joked about now getting a burger, but I just felt ill. Nothing like literally shoving this down our throats.

Morrissey is one of the best crooners still performing and he knows what to play for his crowds. So, of course he played “Everyday is Like Sunday” and all I could hear was everyone singing around me … and of course, now there’s some Spanish thrown in and its fitting and was perfect. And this might have been the perfect song to end with. A perfect Sunday would come to an end, but this memory will live on forever.

“And if you happen to have a God, may he or she bless you”. – Morrissey

Set List:
The Queen Is Dead (The Smiths song)
Suedehead
Alma Matters
Kiss Me a Lot
Ganglord
Speedway
Staircase at the University
World Peace Is None of Your Business
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before (The Smiths song)
First of the Gang to Die
Istanbul
Everyday Is Like Sunday
The Bullfighter Dies
Meat Is Murder (The Smiths song)
Now My Heart Is Full
I Will See You in Far-Off Places
What She Said (The Smiths song)

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Blonde Redhead @ The Regency Ballroom

Posted by xneverwherex on November 15, 2014

Blonde Redhead
Dot Hacker
Regency Ballroom
November 11, 2014

New York’s Blonde Redhead was in town on Tuesday night for their new album Barragan. This was the trio’s first album in what seemed like a long awaited 4 years. While I don’t think the album holds a candle to earlier work, hearing it performed live was a whole different story. As a whole, the band has never seemed more connected.

Kazu - Blonde Redhead

Blonde Redhead – Kazu

Kazu was having such a great time, working the stage, dancing it up like crazy. The band seems to have found a perfect balance between old and new – and between the shoegaze, indie pop art sound its just pure bliss. Theres something transformative happening when they play. And the crowd was way into it. Plus lots of older material and a good chunk from 23. And a double encore. I mean, seriously, what more can you ask for.

The band also has such chemistry on stage — its like they can just read each other and it makes for a real good mood/vibe. Guitarist Amedeo sounds amazing live. His vocals interspersed with Kazu’s on some of the songs was just beautiful, but even on his own he sounds equally enchanting. His twin brother Simone on drums kept the beat going and just connects it all together.

Their encore was pretty incredible. They came back to the stage playing the shoegaze-y, guitar heavy, dance-y “Spring and By Summer Fall” which had the crowd dancing up a storm. Lots of swaying and heads bopping and everyone moving. The first encore ended with “23” which had the crowd yelling for more. Kazu’s voice has never sounded so lush and beautiful. She was also tearing up the stage, working her way all over it dancing up a storm. As one guy told me, the best dancer of all the indie bands these days.

It would have been perfect even if they just ended it there, but the band clearly were having so much fun they had to come out for more. Kazu was saying how much fun she was having and enjoying playing for us so we were given a second encore with an additional song ‘Equus‘. And it was *that* awesome.

Ive seen them a number of times and they just get better with age. Like that perfect glass of wine, just aging in style.

Set List:
Barragan
Lady M
Falling Man
Hated Because of Great Qualities
Love or Prison
Mind to Be Had
No More Honey
Doll is Mine
Melody
Not Getting There
Dripping

Spring and by Summer Fall
The One I Love
Defeatist Anthem (Harry and I)
23

Equus

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How Are Things On the West Coast? – Interpol

Posted by xneverwherex on September 22, 2014

Interpol
Rey Pila
Fox Theater
9/20/14

Interpol

Interpol

4 years later and Interpol was finally back in town and Im so glad that I ended up with a friend’s ticket. The band had finally released a new album, El Pintor. The album is brilliant and is a nice reminder of where they came from having a very similar sound to Turn On The Bright Lights. Sure, theres no Carlos D(engler) and the sound had to change some but its distinctly Interpol.

While I usually seem to loathe the sound at The Fox, for whatever reason it worked with Interpol and they sounded great. The guitars sounded a bit muddled at times, but it worked and added texture to their songs. Paul’s vocals were haunting over the lush guitars swirling in the background as the band started playing ‘My Blue Supreme’. It was a great way to start the set and then without disappointing they went straight to their first album to play the catchy-fast paced ‘Say Hello To the Angels’. The crowd quickly got into it with lots of hand clapping and fist pumping. And then straight into the even more catchy ‘Evil’ which had everyone singing along and dancing. Their music is just perfect and so easy to get lost in with the guitars and the drums thumping along keeping the timing.

Interpol NYC

Interpol NYC

Interpol also had their live debut of one of my favorite new tracks ‘Everything is Wrong’. Paul Banks: “That was ‘Everything Is Wrong’… that was the *debut* of ‘Everything Is Wrong’…as a matter of fact.” Enveloped in red lights and different imagery on the screen, the band played the hell out of the song. The band never sounded more gorgeous than during ‘NYC’ with the images of the skyline swirling in fast motion behind them. Paul’s vocals were hauntingly beautiful with the pulse of the guitars filling the air. Plus, Narc, Not Even Jail and Slow Hands right before they went into an encore. Yowzers! It does NOT get better than that.

The band did an awesome mix of songs and really catered to older fans of the band focusing on the brilliant album ‘Antics’. The breakdown consisted of 6 songs off of El Pintor (the painter in Spanish) but also an anagram of Interpol; 5 songs from ‘Antics’ and 3 songs from ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’. Then one each from the other album. Of course, theres always bound to be a disappointment and it would have been great just to hear ‘How are things on the west coast?’ (the opening line to Heinrich Maneuver). Ah well. I seriously could not complain about the set. It was short as I had expected it to be, they were never a band that played for a very long time. But they packed the set with a punch.

Interpol has had a few changed with members over the years, but has added to the mix Brandon Curtis (mostly known for Secret Machines) on keyboards and vocals as well a new touring bassist, Brad Truax. The additions were great. And yes, its hard not to miss Carlos D. (he was insanely great on bass), Brad held up his own. He sounded excellent with his hair flying all over the place as he tore through the songs. Brandon Curtis is also a great addition and sounded like he’d been playing with the band all along (granted Secret Machines toured with them a bit, so it was already a great fit). Daniel as always worked the stage going back and forth and doing quite a bit of dancing. Clearly always enjoying himself. And Sam Fogarino sounded great on drums, always keeping the band connected.

If youre on the fence about seeing them and enjoy their new album, its quite worth it. With such a great mix of songs, its hard to leave disappointed.

Rey Pila

Rey Pila

Rey Pila, from Mexico City, opened the set. The poor lead singer forgot where he was off the bat and said something to the effect of being so glad to be in Sacramento! Doh! These things do happen, and he tried to play it off and ask about the Raiders. The crowd was not having it. I was a huge fan of them at SXSW and their music still sounds great. Clearly a throw-back to the new wave 80s, they had totally reminded me of a new version of The Cars. One with much more guitars but still plenty of keyboards. Not quite as funky as I had remembered them, I still enjoyed their set immensely. The lead singer was dancing up a storm and worked the stage. He even hopped down below more than a few times to be closer to the fans. Clearly enjoying himself, and getting over his faux-pas. Definitely not one of the more typical Interpol openers, but really great.

Set List:
My Blue Supreme
Say Hello to the Angels
Evil
My Desire
Length of Love
Breaker 1
The Lighthouse
Anywhere
Everything is Wrong (live debut)
Lights
Narc
Not Even Jail
Slow Hands

All the Rage Back Home
NYC
Obstacle 1

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Brooklyn Takes on SF

Posted by xneverwherex on September 7, 2014

Bear in Heaven
Young Magic
Miles Cooper Seaton
The Independent
September 3, 2014

Brooklyn came to San Francisco for a full night of music and it was pretty awesome. And I didnt even have to go to a large venue to see them all (compared to NYC). One of the major pluses. It was a very awesome, respectful crowd and not even sold out (which was a surprise, albeit a nice one). The band was in town touring for their 4th album, Time Is Over One Day Old.

Adam Wills - Bear in Heaven

Bear in Heaven – Adam Wills

While I hadnt spent much time listening to Bear in Heaven‘s new album, I had heard it a few times thanks to streaming on NPR. The new album is very accessible but still has their own distinct sound. Not as pop sounding as earlier albums, they still managed to have catchy tunes that will stick in your mind. A woman and I were saying at the show, ‘and their music is still so blissful.’ You can just disappear into their songs, with the constant beat from the drums and the droning spaced out guitars – you just dissolve into their music – the beat just takes you along and it doesnt feel like its always distinct songs – just a feeling of blissfulness. And it doesnt leave as they continue their set (which always seems way too short).

Bear in Heaven

Bear in Heaven

The band focused on their latest 2 albums which sound great live. The band started out with ‘Autumn’ and then went into ‘I Do You’ off their second album (and one of my favorite all-time albums – Beast Rest Fort Mouth). Its just hypnotic as the keyboards take you away, the band swathed in lights which sometimes turned into strobes giving them a far-away feel spaced-out feel of psychedelic grooviness. While the strobes are definitely not intense as they are in Brooklyn (they don’t take their lighting designer, Will Armstrong, along with them on tour) it works. And you still get the same feel.

Jon Philpot, lead singer, wasnt too talkative but was quite happy to be back in San Francisco. He was cool and obliged a fan who yelled out for ‘Lovesick Teenagers’. That was definitely one of the highlights for me and was so glad that they played it. ‘Sinful Nature’ sounded better than ever; Jon’s vocals sweeping into the air amidst the beat from the keyboard and bass.

If you haven’t seen the band in awhile, or perhaps never at all – I would highly recommend checking them out as theyre still playing a good mix of most their music.

Young Magic

Young Magic

Young Magic, a band I was familiar with mostly by name, was one of the openers and they proved to be a great match for Bear In Heaven. They were possibly even better than Bear in Heaven playing an experimental electro-trip hop set. Lead singer Melati Malay’s voice floated through the set with a sense of longing. Lots of influences could be heard with African beats standing out. The band, now hailing from Brooklyn, is from a mish-mash of places mostly of the South Pacific (Indonesia and Australia) and its noticeable in their music.

The music is just beautiful and like Bear in Heaven, will just sweep you away. The vocals of Isaac Emmanuel and Melati sound gorgeous when they sing together and it just blends seamlessly. Throw in some solid drum beats and you feel like youve escaped to another part of the world. Just drifting in and out it takes you elsewhere.

This might have been one of the best pairings Ive seen in a long time. They could have been extensions of each other musically and it was so worth it to show up early to see them.

Miles Cooper Seaton

Miles Cooper Seaton

I shouldn’t leave out fellow opener, singer-songwriter and founder/creator of Akron/Family, Miles Cooper Seaton. Just him, a guitar and laptop, and add some soaring vocals (damn could he hold his notes). He was also quite the storyteller too – talking about punk music, playing covers and his musical sensibilities. He was simply put – awesome! He was just so comfortable on the stage it would have been hard to know it was his first time really doing this on his own. His music ranged from more punk influenced songs to ambient songs. He was a great addition to the set and his music fit in just perfectly.

Bear in Heaven Set List:
Autumn
You Do You
Sinful Nature
Time Between
If I Were to Lie
Cool Light
Kiss Me Crazy
They Dream
Lovesick Teenagers
You Don’t Need the World
Dissolve the Walls

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Shout Out Louds – We’re All Happy

Posted by xneverwherex on May 24, 2013

Shout Out Louds
Haerts
Great American Music Hall
May 22, 2013

One word can easily describe the set last night. Awesome! Or maybe its happy! Its been about 3 years since the Shout Out Louds were last on tour. Its true that Adam (lead singer) was here last year with his side project – We Are Serenades – but really, its not the same.

The band, hailing from Sweden, were here for their new album Optica. I spoke with the lead singer’s brother, Robin, for a bit and I made him do the honors of picking out which cd I should get from them. I know I never had bought Work, and I couldnt remember if I actually owned Our Ill Wills. He convinced me that the new album is brilliant and prob his favorite album of theirs (as he said completely biased). We then got to discuss The Serenades and of course their excellent Christopher Cross cover and who even knows who he is anymore. We both laughed as people around us looked on with a ‘who?’ look across their face.

As always, The Shout Out Louds put on a really great set. Its hard to not leave feeling completely happy. I had only heard a few songs off their new album before the show but was pleasantly surprised with how well they fit in with their earlier songs. The band wasted no time with going to earlier songs and started their 3rd song with the ever recognizable intro to ‘The Comeback‘. The crowd went nuts as people started jumping up and down, dancing and really getting into it. Everyone was so excited and Adam seemed to be having a lot of fun on stage. Bebban, who rarely seems to acknowledge the audience, took a few moments to wave to people and seemed pretty into it. Its hard to know with her, as she always is looking either down or at other band members.

The band worked out a pretty amazing setlist and made sure to hit upon songs from all of their albums. I was still glad that there was plenty off of Howl Howl Gaff Gaff as its always been a go-to album for something shiny, fun and upbeat. So it was awesome when they played “Please Please Please“, my favorite song of theirs.

Must point out that the crowd was quite nice and friendly. I met some really awesome people and had fun dancing and talking with others. The band was in top form and Adam did a little walk through the middle of the venue dancing and taking photos as he went on. They ended the show with the hugely catchy song ‘Tonight I Have to Leave It’ and its fun and a great sing-along. And who doesn’t love a lot of cowbells. Everyone on stage was dancing and moving and really into it.

The opener Haerts, living in NYC but from England, Germany, wherever else were just brilliant. The band could not have picked a better opener. Indie dream pop, catchy songs and very dance-y reminding me a bit of the movie Drive. If you havent seen it, it could be them doing the music. Their music was meant to be on an 80s soundtrack and the lead singer — she has amazing vocals and a powerful voice. She transports you and you feel like a teenager again dancing alone in your room. It was their first show in SF and I really hope they come back. How I forgot to buy their cd for just $5 is what the real travesty is. I cannot say enough good things about this band, except to check them out. Just lose yourself for a bit, dance a lot, and forget it all.

Its hard to go wrong with 2 amazing bands. If you havent yet seen either, do yourself a favor and make sure you do, soon! In the meantime, check out Haerts and pretend youre just a kid dancing in your room with the music up loud.

Set List:
Sugar
Walking in Your Footsteps
The Comeback
Impossible
Candle Scurrned Out
Chasing the Sinking Sun
Fall Hard
Illusions
Blue Ice/Where You Come In.
Hard Rain
Please Please Please
14th July
Very Loud

Destroy
Walls
Tonight I Have to Leave It

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Take Me Home, Maximo Park

Posted by xneverwherex on September 28, 2012

Maximo Park
The Neighbourhood
Zambri
9/20/12
Slims

It seemed forever that I had last seen Maximo Park. Their last tour somehow didnt end up coming to NYC, so it was about time they finally came back. And the band seemed to really enjoy being in San Francisco and playing Slims. Paul had so much energy that you could feel it bouncing off the walls. He posed lots and had lots of great movements and his dancing has definitely improved and increased. I definitely miss the scissor kicks, but theres still lots of jumping. Lukas is still as insane as ever on the keyboards. He kept pulling them towards him as he’d jump around and even jump on them. Very awesome.

Paul

The songs off their new album, ‘The National Health’ are quite catchy. ‘Take Me Home’ should be a total hit. They started their show off with the always fun and energetic ‘Graffiti’ and then jumped into the title track which was also really catchy. But it was really their older songs that got the crowd super excited and jumping and singing along. While their other albums have been quite good, nothing has compared to ‘A Certain Trigger’. Although, the guitar riff from ‘Girls who Play Guitars’ has never sounded better.

It was awesome when Paul said he had a song to sing about where we were. People screamed out songs, but I knew it had to be ‘The Coast is Always Changing’. What an awesome song and what a perfect San Francisco song. ‘Graffiti’, ‘Limassol’ and ‘Kiss You Better’ still sound amazing live. It was great to hear Paul sing part of ‘The Acrobat’ which he had to stop singing due to the lack of anyone remembering it 🙂

Paul & The Park

The band played nonstop for about 90 minutes before announcing it was down to their last songs. He mentioned how Americans love encores (really?), but that on this tour there wouldnt be any. They put their heart into the set and left it all on the floor. Naturally, some people (who I guess didnt believe the band), yelled for an encore. A 20 song set was hard to be disappointed with and for the most part they played nearly everything I would have wanted to hear.

Paul talked about how he had a few days off from the tour and how they went to Coit Tower and visited other sites. Paul was pretty talkative and wanted to tell stories, but for some reason many people in the audience just yelled out songs and wanted them to play. A pity as he’s a great storyteller.

The Neighbourhood

LA’s The Neighbourhood were surprisingly quite awesome. The guys looked quite young and were very excitable. There are definitely some hardcore influences along with hip hop. Its a great combo and makes for a great show. The lead singer, who is covered with tattoos, is hard to take your eyes from. Even if the music is not your scene, just stare at his arms/neck for awhile and youll be entranced.

NYC’s Zambri played a quite short set. They tried to do something unique with a lot of microphones that didn’t quite work. It definitely had an electronic feel and reminds me of School of Seven Bells. I still find them a bit forgettable but they’re fine to watch. Im not quite sure how they ended on this lineup but it made for a quirky interesting night.

Set List:
Graffiti
The National Health
Girls Who Play Guitars
Hips and Lips
Questing, Not Coasting
The Coast Is Always Changing
Write This Down
Going Missing
Reluctant Love
Books From Boxes
The Undercurrents
Limassol
The Kids Are Sick Again
Take Me Home
Now I’m All Over the Shop
This Is What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
Parisian Skies
I Want You to Stay
Our Velocity
By the Monument
Waves of Fear
Apply Some Pressure

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Take A Summer Holiday w/Wild Nothing

Posted by xneverwherex on September 7, 2012

Wild Nothing
DIIV
Holy Shit

Great American Music Hall
9/5/12

I guess the summer holiday is officially coming to an end, so it seemed fitting that it ended with Wild Nothing. Wild Nothing had finally made it back to the West Coast according to Jack. It sounded like it had been quite awhile and the way Jack told how San Francisco was his favorite city, reminded me of the way I had felt about NYC.

The band, by way of NYC (Brooklyn for Jack — and Athens for a few others — as well as one guy still in VA?), are on tour for their second album, Nocturne. I wasnt sure how the album would hold up compared to Gemini (one of my fav albums quite possibly ever), and it does. And quite nicely. Maybe with a few more spins it’ll end up in that same category.

From what I had learned from their new lighting guy – the band is kind of all over the place when it comes to where they live. Im not sure how it works as it seems that Jack isn’t fully in control over every part of the music, but it does work. And dare I add, quite well.

Wild Nothing

Their music just takes you away to a dreamy far away land with swirling guitars, lush vocals and darkened lights that just add to the visual. For an hour or so, it feels like youre off in your own land dancing to infectious indie pop hooks. It still has the hint of shoegaze but its like the Cocteau Twins of the 80s and the pop sounds of The Sundays.

The guys all moved around aimlessly with the bassist jumping up and down for a lot of the songs and the guitarist moving back and forth in his own world. Jack, who doesnt say much, had some interactions with the guys but mostly he just played his heart out. He was definitely excited to be there and you could feel the energy from the crowd. As the first guitar chords begin on ‘Chinatown’ an excitement builds in the crowd. ‘Live In Dreams’, which has always been a favorite, has never sounded better. Everyone sang and danced and moved in a hazy dreamlike nature.

In contrast to the Pains show, this was a different experience where people were there just wanting to hear the music. The only real complaint was the sound itself. At times the guitars were just too loud and muddy and took away from the vocals, but for the most part it worked itself out.

And just because Im selfish – how about bringing back one of the best Kate Bush covers ever. Cloudbusting is such an amazing song; its rare that a band can do her music justice. But its one of the best covers Ive ever heard. And this coming from a music snob 🙂

DIIV (pronounced Dive and formerly known as Dive), another band from NYC, were one of 2 openers. The guys looked impossibly young and it was hard to believe they were even 16. The crowd were so into them and that was quite awesome. Some of their music reminded me of Explosions in the Sky but not as big as a sound. Lots of heavy guitars and a few songs with minimal vocals.

I remember liking Holy Shit and at the same time thinking what a horrible band name or thinking when is Holy Shit Fuck going to be a band. The band, which used to have Ariel Pink in it on the first album, is now a few guys from San Francisco. They play lo-fi experimental-ish jams and put on a great, really tight set. It was over so quickly that by the time you were into it, that was it.

Overall — one hell of a night with 3 great bands!

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