Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I've never done a comedy review before - I'm shitty enough at music reviews, and I'm not sure what to say other than he was funny. So that's the review: the comedian Todd Barry was funny. Really, really funny. The old lady and I used to go see a lot of stand-up when we lived in California, but very few good comedians perform around here. I'd never seen Todd Barry, but he always gets named dropped as a favorite from comics I love (Patton Oswalt I know has mentioned him numerous times), so it was worth checking out. Mark it down as money and time well spent. About two-thirds of his material was typical prepared stand-up fare, and the rest of the time he spent riffing on the leftover band set list from the night before and making jokes about the fact that RDU has a direct flight to London. That might not sound good on paper, but it worked.
And let it be known that seeing comedy in a rock club is superior to comedy clubs it can't even be quantified. I've seen a number of comedy acts in rock clubs, and it's always so much more fun and laid back. No drink minimums, no cocktail waitresses, no horse shit. I know Paul (one of the main King's dudes) told me he's going to try and get more comedy, and hopefully he pulls it off, because I like laughing. Except that my face always hurts afterwords, but I guess it's worth it.
(Photo found online, not from me creeping on Todd in a convenience store)
Gentleman Jesse & His Men
with The Barreracudas & Last Year's Men
Sometimes I just don't know what the fuck is wrong with people...someone awesome like Gentleman Jesse comes to town for the first time (not the first time in the Triangle, just the first time in Raleigh), and hardly anyone shows up to see it. Not that that deterred him or any of the other bands from putting on fantastic shows.
I got there just as Last Year's Men started their set. Folks (or at least Grayson from the Independent) have been opining how fantastic their new record is, so I was glad to finally check them out. Sadly, we don't really have any sort of power pop scene locally (which might partially explain the turnout), but these Chapel Hillians did their best to fit in. They play a more prototypical "jangle pop" style as has been popular in the area for as long as I can remember, and combine it with the pop-punk catchiness of Superchunk and smidge of the Replacements more "together" moments (think "Alex Chilton" and "Can't Hardly Wait" Replacements, not "Takin' a Ride" or "Hootenanny" era stuff). These guys would have been huge in 1995, but it remains to be seen if the kids these days will take to their sound. Certainly it pleases me, but I'm old and not exactly the target demographic.
The Barreracudas had the middle slot, a power-pop group made up of all the "Men" that otherwise make up Gentleman Jesse's band. It was definitely decent music, typical of the Atlanta pop scene, but nothing groundbreaking. I honestly don't have a lot to say about them other than I'd like to hear their record, and maybe knowing their songs would up the excitement level for me. Still, a run-of-the-mill power-pop band is better than most any other type of band.
I've reviewed Gentleman Jesse & His Men a couple of times on here, but words just never do this band justice. They've written and recorded some of the best pop hooks of the last decade, and while the attendance shows it's fallen mostly on deaf ears I'm listening and watching hard enough for ten men. All of the power pop touchstones are there that have been mentioned a thousand times - The Nerves, The Records, Shoes, The Real Kids, etc. I was chatting with Paul (one of the dude's who runs Kings) and he threw out a comparison that had never occurred to me but is definitely fitting - Nervous Eaters. No matter the comparisons, they rocked my ass off like they always do, and the sparse crowd really seemed to enjoy it. I even got a chance to chat with Jesse after the show, not something I typically do - he's a super nice guy. I asked if there was a second full-length in the works, but it sounds like instead they have a ton of seven inches and tracks on compilations coming out over the next year, which will hopefully all get complied into one release at the end of the deluge. No matter how it's released, more amazing pop songs make the world a better place.
Built to SpillCat's Cradle
At this point in my life, a Built to Spill show is like your favorite well worn t-shirt - it might not be new or shiny, but it feels so good, so comfortable, so enjoyable. I've seen them perform live dozens of times, and while some outings are better than others, not a single one of those times have been anything less than really damn good.
The set list was pretty typical of BtS, spanning their catalog nicely but never hanging out to long on any one album...though if they wanted to play "Perfect from Now On" in it's entirety it would hurt my feelings - as it was, they only played "Untrustable" from that release. They really hit "There's Nothing Wrong with Love" pretty heavy though - "In the Morning", "Twin Falls", "Car", heck probably half of that record made the list. Of course it's not a Built to Spill show without some cover songs, and this time it was the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" that got the treatment.
One part of the show that stood out from the typical Built to Spill live experience was the first encore - it was just Doug and his guitar, and he played a couple of the bluesy acoustic songs from his solo album "Now You Know" - "Dream" and "Offer". I saw him play solo live once before, when he toured alone just after this record came out. It was a real treat to see him play these songs again, and made me hope another solo album was in the works because that record is fantastic. After these couple of songs the rest of the band came back onstage and they wrapped up the show, with the ender being a drawn out sixteen minute version of "Broken Chairs". Many a guitargasm was had.
Also of note: the crowd was annoying and stupid as they always are, continuing my consecutive streak of every Built to Spill show being populated with complete boobs. And not the good kind of boobs either. Well, maybe a couple of the good kind of boobs, but not enough of those and too many of the other.
(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)
GayngsThe Cat's Cradle
It seemed like a nice night for a little dance music, so it was off to see the hipster superstar band, Gayngs. They weren't originally scheduled to play Chapel Hill, but they moved their Virginia show down here to give the locals a little taste of their semi-homegrown talent. Sure, the band is technically from Wisconsin or Minnesota or one of those Midwestern cheese-making states, but a bunch of our local kids also participate in this orgy of musical mayhem - including Ivan from the Rosebuds, the bulk of Megafaun, and a chunk of Bon Iver (who once took up residence here). So really, it only made sense that they would make a show happen here. Who gives a holy hell about Virginia anyways...well, except lovers obviously. Virginia is for lovers, after all.
Pointless gibberish aside, it was a great show. There were a bazillion people on stage with a few folks coming and going, but never less than ten members and a high of twelve or so. They seemed to play pretty much the entire "Relayted" album - standout tracks included "The Walker", "The Last Prom on Earth" and "Faded High", where they incorporated Cameron Mesirow of the opening act Glasser to perform the female vocal portions of the song. They also played "Cry", the 10cc cover from the record, as well as a couple of other covers of two of my all-time favorite songs - "By Your Side", Originally by Sade and also performed by the band at Daytrotter (download the Daytrotter session here); and also "Eye in the Sky" by Alan Parsons Project, which can be heard done acoustically by the band in this video. As a side note, I'll spare you the long winded story of how much the cover of the Alan Parsons Project album "Pyramid" freaked me out as a kid, and this is noteworthy because my parents played it ALL THE TIME so it was always sitting out next to the record player creeping my out just as bad as those clown cartoons from the picture dictionary I also had around the same time. I couldn't even sleep in the same room as that picture dictionary.
Anyways, it was a good fun show, and I even got the wife to go with me so I wasn't that creepy guy standing by myself for a change. It probably also helped that I wasn't furiously masturbating and crying like I usually do at these sort of events.
(Photo found online...clearly that ain't the Cradle. Or if you aren't familiar with the Cradle, maybe not so clearly.)