Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Sea & Cake at the Local 506 11/11/2011

The Sea & Cake
Local 506

I celebrated the meaningless adulation of the date 11/11/11 by going to see The Sea & Cake in Chapel Hill.  I saw them for the the first time in this same town (no big surprise there), only at the Cat's Cradle with Trans Am and Tractor Hips opening on May 4th, 1997.  No, I'm not some sort of date savant, I've still got a poster I bought at the show on my wall (a poster by Casey Burns, no less).  I've seen them maybe one or two other times since then, and a couple of Sam Prekop solo shows, but you just don't get that many opportunities to see the great band live. 

Given the age and style of this band, is it sexist to mention how surprised I was that there were so many young attractive women at the gig?  Probably.  But I was expecting a bunch of middle aged men with beards to dominate the audience, and certainly there were plenty of "us" there, but the ratio was actually decent.  Of course, you really only notice this kind of crap between bands, and once the Sea & Cake started playing it's almost like I'm transported into a world where they are playing a private concert just for me.  Some bands are like this - they always have been.  And of course, they put on a stellar performance as you would expect from this group of seasoned professionals, playing a lot of their newer material with a few classics sprinkled in.  I'm terrible with song names with this band, but I know they played some of my favorites like "The Argument" off of "The Fawn" and "Leeora" plus something else off "The Biz" and thankfully about halfway through they played "Jacking the Ball" from their self-titled album so that asshole who screamed out for between every single song finally shut the fuck up.  Have I mentioned how much I hate these sorts of people?  If I were in a band I'd refuse to play whatever song was being yelled out purely out of spite. 

Anyways, good show.  Hopefully they don't wait so many years to come back again.  The word needs more bands like this. 

M83 / Active Child at Kings 10/29/11

with Active Child

The only show I've anticipated more than this one all year was the "secret" Archers of Loaf show way back in January.  When they announced M83 was going to be playing Moogfest up in Asheville, I would have definitely gone whatever day they played despite not giving a shit about much of the other music and the tickets being damn expensive.  Then when they announced a stop at Kings, that not only I'd get to see them in town but in a very small venue...well, musical nirvana washed over me. 

Active Child opened the show.  I'd seen them play for free a few months ago at Deja Mi Fest in front of the Lincoln Theatre, and was really neither here nor there on them - some interesting moments but overall not really my style of music.  I felt only slightly better about them this go around.  It certainly helped that the sound in Kings was much better than that outdoor show, as this group has a certain subtlety to their music.  I think the big draw of the group is part of what keeps me away - Pat Grossi's voice.  While undeniably remarkable, his operatic style of singing doesn't exactly ruffle my feathers.  I did like the music for the most part though...maybe not the harp so much, which makes them sound like Antony & the Johnsons crossed with Joanna Newsom.  But the rest of the time, probably two-thirds of the set, had a nice Hot Chip feel to it.  Certainly, they were a fitting opener for M83, and the crowd seemed to dig it, or at least dig it as much as they could given how amped up everyone was for the headliner. 

M83 brought an arena rock show to a 250 person venue, complete with extravagant light show and sizable crew of surly roadies who yelled at me because there were some empty beer cans on the edge of the stage.  Beer cans that weren't mine, for the record, not that that kept them from being assholes.  But none of that mattered once the intro started, which led into the first single "Midnight City" from their new album "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" and it was on from there.  Anthony Gonzalez might be a (mostly) one man operation in the studio, but live he leads a four piece band...a band with more pedals than a Guitar Center, multiple keyboard stations, and even an awesome modular synthesizer.  Oh an lasers.  And light boards.  And a smoke machine.  They played a nice, long set, made up mostly of the new record but with just enough older tracks (Teen Angst, Kim & Jessie, Guitar & a Heart, etc) thrown in to keep us longtime fans happy.  Of course I was beyond happy from the first note from all the way to the last note.  Easily one of the best shows of the year...I'll be talking about this one for a while. 

Spider Bags / Wesley Wolfe / T0W3RS at Tir Na Nog 10/20/2011

Spider Bags
with Wesley Wolfe and T0W3RS
Tir Na Nog

This was a pretty exciting version of "Local Beers, Local Bands" - two great groups in Spider Bags and my new crush T0W3RS, plus Wesley Wolfe who I've been meaning to see for quite some time now.  I was there early and excited, staking out a good spot so I could snap some of my mediocre photos...only to discover that the old lady had removed the memory card from my camera and not returned it.  So not only was I not able to take photos, I now had this heavy albatross hanging around my neck, as useless as a tuxedo on casual Friday.  But once the music started, things got better. 

T0W3RS opened the night.  I'd just seen them for the first time a few weeks prior, and instantly became smitten with their larger-than-life shambolic pop.  I keep comparing them to early pre-disco Of Montreal, but there is a ton more going on, from the weird cultiness of Danielson Famile to the chamber pop of Polyphonic Spree to the...well, I feel like I should make some more "current" comparisons but I'm old and out of touch.  And truly, none of those comparisons really sum up their sound, but are rather just a touchstone to give you a general idea of what you are getting into - a shambolic, BIG pop sound, instantly catchy, with band members that are too cute, like woodland creatures morphed into humans that formed a band.  And something tells me of all the crap I wrote here, being compared to woodland creatures is the one they would most agree with.  Oh and they are really, really fun.  Did I forget to mention that?  Obviously, that is the most important, and best part of T0W3RS.

Wesley Wolfe - I honestly didn't know what to expect.  One of my friends mentioned they were good, but our conversation got side-tracked and I never got around to asking what they sound like.  And I'm not sure what the short pigeonholing phrase would be to somewhat sum up their sound, but you remember in the mid-to-late nineties when there were a bunch of catchy bands that were almost "emo" like Get Up Kids or Promise Ring but a lot poppier, more akin to Knapsack or Hey Mercedes?  That's what the bulk of their songs reminded me of.  The rest reminded me of Superchunk or maybe Jawbreaker circa their "Dear You" album after Blake Schwarzenbach had his throat surgery (an unfairly maligned album, and an all-time favorite of mine).  So, you know, it was fun, catchy music with a rock edge, tunes you could bounce to but not really mosh.  I definitely need to hear this band's recorded output, as my interest was piqued.  And as a side note, apparently Wolfe makes his own vinyl records?  I don't mean records the songs and pays for the vinyl himself, but actually creates the albums?  Pretty cool.  That's gotta be an expensive hobby though.

The final band of the night was the always mesmerizing and dumbfounding Spider Bags.  Like Whatever Brains, they are nominally a "punk rock" group, but they are so much more than that in ways that are tough to express.  Really, they're probably closer to early, drunken Replacements...and I'm not saying "drunker than" the Replacements, as that is probably not humanly possible based on the stories I've read, but in the ballpark.  You could probably throw some Velvet Underground comparisons in there as well, based mostly around the singer's Lou Reed-like sing-speak style, but that might be a stretch.  What I do know is they are completely mesmerizing to watch live.  Not only do they take advantage of every inch of the stage, they are almost definitely going to end up in the middle of the crowd at some point, and quite possibly on the floor.  I've seen bands do this for years, so it's nothing new, yet every time it delights me to no end.  Simple pleasures for simple minds I suppose, and I'm okay with that.  Viva la Spider Bags. 

OCSC 10th Anniversary Party at the Cat's Cradle 10/15/2011

OCSC 10th Anniversary Party
with Crooked Fingers, Kerbloki, and Seven Brides for the Meatwagon
Cat's Cradle

Just because I've never actually been to the OCSC, doesn't mean I don't want to celebrate their success.  Especially when it involves a bunch of great bands.

Due to some family in town and a late dinner stuffing myself silly with Mexican food, I got to the Cradle just after Crooked Fingers had started their set.  I've seen them a thousand times so it wasn't end of the world that I was late, but there is also a reason I've seen them so many times - Eric Bachmann always delivers a fantastic show, time and time again.  His sound might slightly morph between different styles, but that booming deep voice of his always ties the music together, much like The Dude's rug really tied the room together.  And like most Crooked Fingers shows, the band was almost completely different from every other time I've seen them, working as a standard four piece this go around.  The material was mostly from their great new album "Breaks in the Armor", but there were a few oldies thrown in there for us long-time fans like "Broken Man", "New Drink for the Old Drunk", and "You Can Never Leave".  There was quite a bit of singing along to "New Drink", and I'm not just talking about myself.  I'd would say I hope they come back around soon, but we all know they will...and I'll be there, and it will be a great show, as always. 

Despite having known JB forever, I'd never seen his band Kerbloki perform live before.  I know at one point they were just a fairly straight-forward hip hop group featuring middle aged white men, but at some point they added the rhythm section of Caltrop and it really gives them that extra...ummph.  Anytime you've got multiple ridiculous outfit changes from multiple band members, you're probably dealing with a good time.  The songs are only mildly funny, with titles like "No Drinks on the Dance Floor", and live you can barely understand what is being said anyways, but the group really brings them to life and jumps around on the stage like kids half their age wish they could.  The crowd was bumping and dancing and laughing the whole set - sure, JB and the rest of the band members probably knew at least three-quarters of the attendees, but who cares...a good time is a good time. 

I'm not sure it's possible to adequately describe the final band of the night, Seven Brides for the Meatwagon.  I first became aware of these guys years and years ago when they would play the Mammoth Records christmas parties in the late nineties.  Basically, it's a cover band featuring local musicians (most noteworthy Jim Wilbur and John Wurster of Superchunk), playing sloppy covers of a wide range of songs.  One minute you'll be getting a Pavement or Dinosaur Jr or Archers of Loaf track, and then that will be followed by Smashmouth or Barenaked Ladies or Ke$ha.  It's a delightful, fun mess that written down or even told as an anecdote to friends doesn't sound nearly as enjoyable as it actually is.  But there is something about a bunch of middle aged white guys playing a drunken, disheveled version of Ceelo's "Fuck You" that really pleases me to no end.  And it wouldn't work if they played all the time of course, but seeing them every 5 or 10 years?  The joke never gets a chance to get old. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The War on Drugs at Kings 10/11/2011

The War on Drugs

Despite my snarkiness with some friends that the new War on Drugs record "Slave Ambient" is the best album Tom Petty has released in years, I was pretty pumped to see them play again.  Cause even if it does sound a whole lot like Petty, it's still a great fuckin' record - and has gotten a ton of spins since I got my sticky little fingers on it.  Kings wasn't packed but it was fairly full, and despite being a partial anti-social shut-in I knew a ton of people there.  No doubt if you polled my local group of friends, this record would come the closest to getting the "record of the year" nod, and across a fairly wide swath of music fans. 

Clearly, the love goes both ways, as the War on Drugs declared their love for the town multiple times...I'm sure it helps that they seem to have friends here, and I'm sure constantly getting smoke blown up your ass is never a bad thing.  Early on they noted they were going to play about 90% of their songs, and they might have even gone over that number.  They played over an hour and a half, definitely playing my two favorite songs "Arms Like Boulders" and "Baby Missles" and pretty much anything else I might possibly want top hear.  At some point about halfway through their set, front man Adam Granduciel asked for a volunteer from the crowd to help with some guitar on one of their songs, and local rocker Andy Holmes (of Old Bricks) joined them not only for the next track but for a few more throughout the night.  There was no encore, just a solid block of rock from one of the best new Tom Petty cover bands out there today. 

Pipe at Motorco - 10/7/2011


Pipe.  PIPE!  PIPE PIPE PIPE PIPE PIPE!!!!!  Can you tell I was excited to see these guys again?  I couldn't even tell you how many times it's been, but seeing punk rock's version of Guided by Voices never gets old.  The crowd wasn't very large but they were enthusiastic, peppering singer Ron Liberti with beer cans for the duration of the show.  The set list was a typical Pipe set list, including "Ashtray" and "You're Soaking in It" and all the usual suspects - but the real surprise is they played a *new* untitled song.  When the hell was the last time Pipe had a new song?!?  I was both bewildered and excited, fondly daydreaming that there might even be a new seven inch or album in the future...well, maybe a seven inch.  A new album seems about as likely as this band getting the due they've deserved for almost 20 years now. 

Tonk at Kings 10/1/2011


Local classic country purveyors Tonk decided to make an appearance at Kings, and who was I to stay at home and miss that?  After a night of watching football and eating cheeseburgers with friends, it was the best way to end the night.  As per usual they played a wide swath of classic country songs, some known and others not.  A couple of the highlights were "Be Real" by Sir Douglas Quintet and Nick Lowe's "Lately I've Let Things Slide".  Yeah the Nick Lowe song isn't country but it is awesome so who cares.  I know there was a Gary Stewart song played too but my mind fails me on what it was.  There were also a couple of original tracks, with the comically titled "She Likes To Love Me Early and Often" standing out in my hazy brain.  There were quite a few audience members dancing, and i don't mean rock show bobbing-your-head dancing like I've perfected - real dancing, couples dancing.  I don't do that kind of dancing, but appreciate their enthusiasm.  In the event it wasn't already obvious - Tonk were awesome.  If you have any love at all for classic country, you'd be a fool not to go see them live. 

T0W3RS / Naked Gods / Cellar Seas / The Toddlers at Kings & Tir Na Nog 9/29/2011

T0W3RS with Naked Gods
Cellar Seas with The Toddlers
Kings and Tir Na Nog

This was a night of two free shows - one at Kings, the other at Tir Na Nog.  The only thing better than a free show is two of them withing short walking distance of each other. 

First up was Naked Gods at Kings.  I'd heard of these kids for a while, but this was my first time seeing them.  Boone hasn't exactly produced a ton of great bands, and growing up near there you automatically assume most anything leaving that town is going to have a strong hippie stink to it.  Luckily, that was not the case here - to put it in simplest terms, the group reminded me of a southern rock version of the great British band Doves.  The singer had a nice voice, reminding me at different times of David Bazan and Jim James of My Morning Jacket.  I didn't love every single song they played, but I liked enough of their songs to recommend them to others and try to see them again myself. 

I made my way down to Tir Na Nog after that, hoping to catch Cellar Seas, but things seemed to be running behind here and The Toddlers were probably in the middle of their set.  I'd never even heard of this band, but from what I could gather they are a fairly new act out of Chapel Hill.  The singer had a really deep, interesting voice, a voice that colors their songs more than most voices do.  When they played slower songs they had a resemblance to the Doors.  When they played more upbeat songs, they had a Joy Division feel to them.  Now I'm no Doors hater, but I'll let you guess which tracks I found more appealing. 

Cellar Seas closed out Local Bands Local Beers at the Nog.  Now I can try and pretend to write about these guys (and gal) from an objective point of view, but let's be honest - I'm friends with three-quarters of the band and this is being written for my shitty website so I don't see any reason to fake it.  They play a catchy, pleasant brand of country-tinged roots rock, and I like it.  I don't just "friend rock" like it either - songs like "Nightshade" and "Carousel" would be damn fine songs even if I didn't know most of the band (and woulda know all of the band if D-Mike hadn't up and moved to Austin).  Also, they just released a free EP for download that has the two songs mentioned above and a couple of other gems.  Grab it here

I made my way back up the hill to catch most of TOW3RS set.  I'd been hearing about them a little bit, and I'm always game to check out the newest local buzz bands.  Smart decision on my part - this is a young, powerful band.  The songs are catchy, the music is big, the band members are cute and if there were a betting pool I'd put my ten cents on these cats being the next local break out artist.  The best way I could describe their sound is early, pre-disco Of Montreal, a little bit of Lonnie Walker's jangle and a dash of Danielson Famile's quirkiness.  To top it all of the gig was being entirely lit by a showing of the film "Independence Day"...nothing like a little indie pop while Will Smith is being projected on the side of the band.  I will be sing this band again very soon, and very often, hopefully.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Deja Mi Fest at Motorco & Fullsteam Brewery - 9/1/2011

Deja Mi Fest - Durham
with American Aquarium, Stuart McLamb, and Gray Young
Motorco and Fullsteam Brewery

I could get used to to Deja Mi throwing all these free gigs.  The first one in Raleigh was a larger, multi-day affair featuring a bunch of touring bands, but this Durham outing was more focused on our great local acts.  And as an added bonus, there were a bunch of food trucks there so that I was able to stuff myself silly while rocking out. 

The first act was Gray Young and they played inside of Full Steam.  I mean, not inside of the giant beer vat or anything, though that might have been kind of awesome.  I've been meaning to see them for quite some time, so it was great to finally be able to check that off my list.  They were quite good, very much like their or some such ridiculous descriptor.  What I'm saying is they reminded me a lot of Appleseed Cast, and maybe some older bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Christie Front Drive.  Since those are three bands I've loved for years and still to this day, being reminded of them is very much a good thing.  And now I'll have to work on crossing them off of my list of "bands I need to see again". 

Stuart McLamb from the Love Language was up next, playing a solo set in the garage of Motorco.  He played a mix of electric and acoustic songs, mostly Love Language tracks from their first two albums but a few covers as well - I remember "Jealous Guy" was in there, and a Frank Black song that escapes me now.  I remember Stu sounding particularly great on "Lalita" and "Blue Angel", but that's probably because those are two of my favorite Love Language songs.  At one point he took his acoustic, sat down on the edge of the stage, and a played a few songs sans amplifications.  Hell, if I had a booming voice like his, I'd perform in this fashion all the time - it's powerful stuff. 

I missed the next band shooting the shit with friends and eating from the many food trucks always parked at these venues, but eventually I staggered back into Motorco, to the main stage this time, where American Aquarium were closing out the night.  They play very straight-forward rockin' alt-country, a mix of classic mid-nineties local output like Whiskeytown, and singer BJ's obvious hero Bruce Springsteen.  Catchy songs full of pedal steel and organ and vocals with a strong drawl, it's like they read my mind on what makes a good alt-country song.  Well, to be fair, that's pretty much what everyone thinks a good alt-country song ought to sound like.  Except maybe Howe Gelb, who thinks they should sound like a combination of long winded "King of the Road" covers and beat poetry.  But that is another story entirely.  These Raleigh kids play constantly, so if you've never seen them before don't worry, they'll be playing again very soon.  And probably again soon after that.  This is a good problem to have. 

Deja Mi Fest at the Lincoln Theatre 7/23/2011

Deja Mi Fest
With Free Energy, Wye Oak, and Active Child
Lincoln Theatre (or rather out in front of it)

The Deja Mi app put on a free two day festival all around Raleigh, and this was the big headliner gig.  They set up a stage in front of the Lincoln Theatre, invited some food trucks and paid for some buzz-worthy out-of-town indie bands to come peddle their sounds to the masses.  they also apparently invited a thunderstorm which greatly delayed things, but nonetheless, free is free and my grumpy ass can only bitch so much. 

This thing was going on all day but between the rain delay and my general laziness I got there in time to see Philadelphia's Free Energy.  I love their song "Dream City" but didn't know much else about them.  Turns out that song was fairly representative - they have a big corporate pop sound, with Weezer/OK Go style songs that sound like they should be on top 40 radio, but still easily loved by the non-top 40 crowd too.  Yeah, some of it's a bit cheesy, and they have a stage presence that is probably more appealing to 14 year old girls than me, but they were still enjoyable.  And even live "Dream City" is a great song.

Wye Oak was the real motivating factor for me coming out, and they were up next.  This coed duo from Baltimore were rumored to be ferocious live, and that rumor proved to be well founded.  I'd listened to their record a while back and was really neither here nor there on it, but after seeing the band live I need to go back and revisit it ASAP.  It was instantly obvious where the band's reputation comes from and why Merge signed them - singer and guitarist Jenn Wasner.  I don't mean to sell her band mate Andy Stack short, who does a great job, but she is completely captivating.  And I'm not just talking about being captivating to my base animal tastes, physically ogling her (she reminds me a bit of Patricia Arquette from the mid to late nineties) - no, she shreads a guitar, has a great voice, and really owns the stage.  You can't stop looking at her.  You don't want to stop looking at her.  I wish I was looking at her right now.  You could probably compare them to a more rock version of the Spinanes, and I loved the Spinanes.  Maybe a hair of early Liz Phair before she started sucking.  I want to see this band again and again. 

I watched a little bit of Active Child before heading out.  I'd heard their name before and that's about it - turns out they are eletronica harp rock!  Yes, harp rock!  On top of that, the singer has this crazy voice...I guess what I'm saying is this group is the male version of Joanna Newsom.  Only less attractive and much less irritating.  I didn't mind it actually, in the small dose I saw, but not sure I could sign on for a full show or buying an album or anything.  But as far as electronic harp rock could do worse.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hopscotch 2011 - Day 3 Photos - 9/10/2011

The Men - Slims

Bass Drum of Death - Slims

Brain F≠ - Lump Gallery

Cheveu - Lump Gallery

KORT - Kings

Hopscotch 2011, Day 3 all around downtown Raleigh 9/10/2011

Hopscotch 2011 - Day 3
With Superchunk, The Flaming Lips, Shit Horse, The Men, Bass Drum of Death, Brain F≠, Cheveu, and KORT
Downtown Raleigh

It was the third and final night of Hopscotch, and while my body might be wearing down, my spirit and excitement in hearing more live music had not waned at all.  Superchunk was on stage in the City Plaza as I was parking my car...and let me say how amazing it is hearing "Slack Motherfucker" blaring all over downtown Raleigh, able to be heard blocks away.  I have of course seen this band dozens of times, and will hopefully see them dozens more, so I didn't feel the need to be there for the whole thing in such a large impersonal setting.  But the Chunk did what they always do, churn out catchy song after catchy song, bouncing all around the stage like kids half their age.  I only caught a few songs but it was a few of their best songs - "Cast Iron" and "Hyper Enough" amongst them.  And even on a giant stage in front of a huge crowd, I'm pretty positive that Laura Ballance is on that stage performing her ass off just for me. 

The Flaming Lips were obviously the biggest band playing the festival, and the sold out City Plaza crowd really piled on top of one another in anticipation of Wayne Coyne & company delivering an exciting set.  And they did - sorta.  It was certainly entertaining to look at, with a giant lighted stage, Wayne firing confetti into the crowd, rolling around in his giant zorb ball, a gaggle of hot girls on both sides of the stage in tight sexy Dorothy outfits, and balloons...balloons everywhere.  But underneath all that window dressing, the music takes a slight backseat in my opinion.  Or maybe I just feel that way because they didn't play anything from "The Soft Bulletin", only played a weird sing-a-long version of the title track from "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots", and decided to cover not one but two Pink Floyd songs.  Now I love Pink Floyd, and I usually love cover songs, but when you have a catalog as huge as the Lips do, I'd rather just hear more of their tracks.  Still, griping aside, I had fun, and would certainly go again if they came back to town.  They're never going to top the time I saw them when they toured for "The Soft Bulletin" anyways, so it's all for second place anyways. 

From there I made my way up to Slims expecting to see The Men, but due to some sort of technical Difficulties delaying the show I got to see the last portion of the set by Shit Horse.  And all I can say is holy shit, how has this band not existed in my life until now?  It was like some dirty delta blues ala T-Model Ford or RL Burnside coupled with even dirtier garage rock.  Simple, fun party music, the sort of band you'd force any fun loving friends to see in person.  And if the music isn't enough, there was a topless girl (with pasties over the nips) wearing a horse head and holding a fake assault rifle marching up and down through the crowd.  It was only fitting that their merch offerings consisted of cassette tapes and candy cigarettes. 

The Men were one of my most anticipated club shows of the whole festival - their album had sort of a kraut-punk vibe to it, kinda cold and wound up at the same time.  And you could just tell this band was going to be a good live act.  My instincts did not disappoint - they swayed and stomped around on the tiny Slim's stage while the crowd went nuts, pushing and shoving that didn't seem to be moshing as much as it was drunken jostling.  Their set was short and furious and, well, drunken.  And the music sounded a lot closer to hardcore than punk live, not that I was complaining. 

Up next were a band somewhat in the same vibe, Bass Drum of Death.  Noisy punk-garage-whatever out of Mississippi on Fat Possum, touted as a two piece but coming in hot as a trio with an extra guitarist.  This band is young and sloppy, but like most kids this age what they lack in talent they more than make up for with exuberance.  I've been hearing about them for a little while and made a point of making them a 1-2 punch of awesomeness at Slims, which was a smart move on my part.  Hell, the club was so packed I'm not sure I could have gotten out anyways.  I'm pretty sure everyone got the joke when it turned out the pedal on the bass drum was broken when they started their set.  So while they waited on someone to bring a new pedal, they played a floor tom heavy version of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man".  I would praise their ability to pull this off, but again they're from Mississippi - being able to play Skynyrd is probably required before you're allowed to book your first show.  Eventually they got the problem sorted out and blazed a set very similar to The Men in it's ferocity, crowd participation, and shortness. 

Because Slims was running so behind I wasn't going to be able to see any of Future Islands, and honestly that was fine because they play here multiple times a year.  Instead I made my way to the party at Lump Gallery.  When I got there Brain F≠ (pronounced Brain Flannel) was finishing up their set and I caught a few songs.  It struck me as young, crusty punk wit ha cute female lead singer, not something you see too often.  And when I say "crusty" I mean in sound, not style.  These kids looked recently bathed, no one was wearing those weird ass flaps, and I wasn't asked for change once.  I liked it, and the kids seemed hyped on the group.  First time I've ever seen crowd surfing in an art gallery. 

I was there specifically to see the French group Cheveu, who played next.  I've listened to their music just enough to not really know what to expect, as their sound is all over the map.  They are a trio, with one guitarist two guys manipulating a metric ton of synths, keyboards, pedals, and god knows what other electronics.  And since all the gear had European plugs, this stuff came over with them...I'm guessing they had to check a few bags.  As a live act they come across as some Frankenstein combination of off-kilter rap like Why?, cold synth rock like A-Frames, and all-out weirdness like Frank Zappa maybe.  The rap mention might seem a little...odd, but the singer has this talk-sing style, and couple with it being in French or completely unintelligible, it really made me think of Why?, who if you've ever listened to are only tangentially part of the hip hop world.  I quite liked Cheveu, but they were very different from anything I've seen in quite some time. 

I figured this would be the end of my night, but I texted a friend who was at KORT to find out if they were still playing, and luckily they were, so I hot -assed it up the hill to Kings to see this Kurt Wagner (of Lambchop) side project.  Got there just in time to catch their last couple of songs and the encore, and it only cemented in me the fact that I need to figure out how to clone myself - I'm sure the whole set was gold, because what I saw was.  Kurt and Courtney Tidwell burned up the stage in front of a full band, playing throwback country that would have felt right at home on the Grand Ole Opry in 1970.  Their album is all obscure covers as I'm sure their set was as well, and I'm not nearly well versed enough in classic country to identify any of them.  All I know is they were really, really, REALLY good.  Strong performers, all of them, and Kurt and Courtney both have mean pipes on them.  Apparently before I got there they even played a Superchunk cover, which would have been awesome to see.  This band was a great final act to a fantastic festival, a festival that hopefully continues for years to come. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hopscotch 2011 - Day 2 Photos - 9/9/2011

Guided by Voices - City Plaza

Generationals - White Collar Crime

Bandway - Deep South Bar

Hospitality - The Union