Monday, July 27, 2009

Camera Obscura at the Cat's Cradle - 6/20/2009

Camera Obscura
The Cat's Cradle

Sometimes the best shows are the ones you have no intention of going to. I was hanging with some friends, a guest list spot was offered, and the idea of combining a visit to Carburitos with some sweet pop music seemed a good reason to get out of the house.

I've seen Camera Obscura a few times and they've always put on a good show, but this was by far the best I've seen them perform. Amongst other reasons, I think this show stood out because they kept it a very "upbeat" affair, not playing as many of their mellow tracks and instead focusing on their bouncy songs, which honestly are always my favorite songs of theirs. The band seemed extremely tight even though this was the first show with a new bassist (the regular guy had to fly back to Scotland to attend to some family matters). The band did a nice job of playing songs from all their albums, not just hitting the new release heavy (an act that generally annoys me...look, I know you're proud of the new record but your fans want to hear some old stuff too!).

And for the record - the Cradle was packed, super packed, and the crowd was really, really into it. I honestly had no idea Camera Obscura was so popular, but good for them. It was certainly a much different crowd from the last time I was at the club (Mastodon a month or two ago) - less black t-shirts, more colorful clothes, more cute girls, and a lot less devil horns being thrown. Not that there is anything wrong with rocking the horns at a pop show, I bet the band appreciates the enthusiasm...

Sunset Rubdown at the Local 506 - 6/15/2009

Sunset Rubdown
The Local 506

If you're going to go to a show at the Local 506 on a hot summer night, you better really love the band or really love sweating, cause if it is a popular, crowded show you're destined to lose a few pounds in that sweat lodge. I know I sweat a lot more than your average joe, but I certainly wasn't the only one in the place who was "glistening".

But enough about my body chemistry issues, I was there to see a rock show dammit. And a I saw a damn good one courtesy of Sunset Rubdown. Oh you Canadians, you like your hockey, you like your Molson, and you know how to write some damn fine indie pop. Spencer Krug and company did a fine job channeling their manic, anxious keyboard-heavy songs into a live setting, and the crowd seemed to really appreciate it. A lot of the set played heavily from their newest album "Dragonslayer", a fantastic record but one I haven't listened to very much yet. Luckily, the new record is so catchy and enjoyable that the songs were plenty fun even without being able to sing along. There were a few older tracks but sadly one of them wasn't "Winged/Wicked Things" from 2007's "Random Spirit Lover".

Really, that was about it...the band played, it was awesome, then it was over. A good rock show, just what the doctor ordered. Assuming this doctor was a fraud, because it you were sick prescribing rock as a cure seems like a terrible idea.

Oh, and the band was selling "acid washed" t-shirts. Acid-washed! I didn't buy one, but maybe I should have, cause who knows when I'll get another chance to buy an acid-washed indie rock shirt, and Canadian no less.

The Rosebuds at the Duke Gardens - 6/10/2009

The Rosebuds
Duke Gardens

One thing I've really been enjoying since I moved back to the Triangle are all of the different venues used for live shows - it's not just locked in to the nightclub-or-houseparty only line of thinking, which seemed to generally be the case with most shows I attended out in the Bay Area.

They held a couple of interesting shows in the Duke Gardens last summer but I never got my ass motivated enough to get out there, but local favorites The Rosebuds were the final straw that got me to actually put on pants and leave the house. Er, well shorts really, it's hot as shit out here these days. It didn't hurt that the show was at 7 PM either, allowing for a musical good time and still home early enough to watch Law & Order reruns.

I've reviewed a thousand Rosebuds shows at this point, it's well documented I love the band, and honestly I don't know what to say that I haven't said so many times already. For an outdoor show, the sound was quite good, the crowd was pretty lively (lots of babies and kids goofing around, as you might expect at an early show set in a bucolic garden), and the band seemed to be having a good time. I was pretty happy because the band seemed to play a lot of songs from my favorite record "Birds Make Good Neighbors", as well as some of their lesser known older tracks that have been featured on various local compilations (whose names I'm much too lazy to look up...this includes the names of the comps and the songs - I'm thorough that way). They also had a few guests join them from time to time - Wes Phillips, one of their many former drummers, played stand-up bass on a bunch of songs and really filled in the sound. There was also a brief appearance by some members of the Lost in the Trees collective, who added a bit of horns to the affair.

A nice summer evening full of good music, I can't imagine it gets any better than that. Well, there could have been ice cream vendors, but other than that...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mastodon at the Cat's Cradle - 5/13/2009

The Cat's Cradle

As per usual, I spent my early evening on this fine Wednesday playing a little basketball with the lads; and not unlike Ice Cube, I messed around and got a triple double (fouls, turnovers, missed shots). I always kinda dread going to shows after I've played ball because my legs are shot, but I assumed I would have a couple of hours to recover and get ready for the rock. The problem is, when I logged on to the Cat's Cradle website to check the start time, it was listed as doors at 6:30, show at 7:30!!! What in the holy hell is this, a Yanni concert?!? Who starts a metal show this early? I was completely confused and bewildered as to what was going on, but the bottom line I was going to have to get on my horse and get to getting if I wanted to see this show.

I finally got to the club around 9:15 or so, only to see a crew of surly types setting up the stage for Mastodon. I was hoping to see at least the end of Kylesa's set, but I've seen them before and I'm sure I'll get a chance to see them again. On the plus side, my tired, basketball-worn old man legs wouldn't be standing for very long tonight.

It wasn't the greatest show I've ever seen Mastodon play, but it was still very good. I'm guessing a big reason I was a little underwhelmed is because the entire first half of the show was from their newest record "Crack the Skye", and I have only listened to it a couple of times. With pretty much any band, knowing the music makes the live experience more enjoyable, but I find this to especially be the case with metal music for whatever reason.

after about 45 minutes of only new songs, the band left the stage...certainly, this wasn't the whole show was it? No it wasn't; they were running this thing Broadway-style, with an intermission between two sets...the first set being all new, and the second set being all older songs. I'm terrible with song names with this band in particular, but I know they played a bunch of tracks off of "Leviathan" to help fulfill by "metal songs about whales" needs. the crowd of almost entirely dudes in black t-shirts got noticeably more animated for these older, well-loved tracks, with no shortage of devil horns thrown in the air both before AND after the song. And we all know nothing is more metal than throwing the devil horns at a concert, saluting the band with a message of "I enjoy your songs to the extent that I will contort my fingers into a fanciful shape and raise them above my head, in unison with my fellow crowd members".