Sunday, December 14, 2008
The Grey Eagle
I love Danielson so much, that when I realized they wouldn't be playing in the Triangle I drove four hours up to Asheville to make sure I didn't miss seeing the man live. And it was worth it, ten fold. Well, maybe not ten fold...I'm not sure I would have driven forty hours for the gig, but you get my drift. And stop taking me so literally.
Cryptacize, who are keyed into the Danielson/Sufjan family via their label Asthmatic Kitty, opened the show. I was vaguely aware that they were a Bay Area band even though I'd never seen nor heard them before, but it wasn't until seeing them live that I realized that Chris from Deerhoof and singer/songwriter Nedelle made up two thirds of the group. They were cute, sweet, and poppy, with just enough edge that they fit in perfectly as an opener for Danielson. I don't think comparing them to Deerhoof would be that far off base, though much mellower and lo-fi. I could also compare them to the vastly under-appreciated Young People, but I'm guessing not enough folks would know what that means. Either way, they were very good and I wish I'd been keyed into them when I lived back in the Bay Area.
Danielson. Danielson Famile. Brother Danielson. It doesn't matter what name Daniel Smith and his crew are playing under, I'm there and as happy a a pig in shit. This was the most rockin' that I've ever seen them, or at least since the first show I caught by accident many years ago. The last few times I've seen him have been on the folkier side, but this time it was a seven-piece band (including all the members of Cryptacize), all decked out in matching uniforms and John Fluevog custom "Danielson Famile" shoes.
They just recently released a two disc anthology/greatest hits/mix of songs spanning the first ten years of the band called "Trying Hartz", and because of that they spent nearly the entire show playing nothing but their best older songs. I was ecstatic... I got to hear "Good News for the Pus Pickers", "Rubbernecker", and a on of other classics, and as an added bonus they pulled out "Did I Step on Your Trumpet?" during the encore so at least the johnny-come-latelys had one song they could sing along with. This was the final night of their tour - the band couldn't have been any tighter, Daniel Smith was full of comical quips from the stage, and I had a smile on my face that was so wide it threatened to break my ears. It was a fantastic show, and well worth the drive up to Asheville. But next time, play the Triangle please (the area in North Carolina, not the instrument...though both would be fine now that I think about it).
(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)
with Kimya Dawson
The Carolina Theatre
Sit-down rock shows are always a little strange...do you stand up? But then what about all the folks who remain seated and now can't see the stage? Do you sit nicely and applaud the effort of the band? Doesn't make for the best live rock atmosphere, does it? I don't have any answers, but all of these things pop in my head any time I see someone in an old theater like the Carolina Theater. The joint has ushers in monkey suits for chrissakes...
When we got there Kimya Dawson was midway through her set. Most of my knowledge on Dawson stems from the "Juno" soundtrack, filled with cutesy folk songs by her. And that was pretty much what her live set was as well...just one woman, her guitar, and a lot of goofy/cute songs that were pretty entertaining in a live setting but I'm not sure how well it would hold up on multiple listens. She was a very engaging performer though, especially the between song banter - apparently she has a tattoo on her arm that matches the name of the new AC/DC album that is/was only for sale at Wal-Mart, much to her disgust.
For The Rosebuds, this was pretty much the kick-off show for a cross country tour they would be embarking a couple of days later. As per usual, Ivan and Kelly had a different set of band mates helping them out - Matt McCaughan was there as their on-again, off-again drummer (but would not be on the coming tour with them), and poster artist extraordinaire Casey Burns was helping out on the bass.
The show was fine, as expected - lots of songs from their new record, "Life Like", which was fine by me because that release has really been getting a lot of airplay in my car and at home. "Nice Fox", "Border Guards" and "In the Backyard" are my three favorite songs from the new record and they all made the cut this fine evening, as well as a number of older tracks like "Bluebird", "Boxcar" and "Get Up Get Out". Kelly tried her best to get the crowd animated, inviting some of the kids in the front rows on stage to dance, but the tuxedos in charge shut down the dance party and most of the show was spent just sitting in puffy theater seats watching a great local band perform their songs live. So we just sat and watched, and let our ears do the dancing instead.