Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Future Islands / Ed Schrader's Music Beat at Kings - 3/3/2011

Future Islands
with Ed Schrader's Music Beat

Around here, a Future Island's show is like a community college class - you get a new one every three months. And praise be to that we are so lucky. I was so excited for this show that I bought myself a ticket a month before the show, completely forgot about it, and then bought myself another ticket about a week before. But the gig was totally worth the price of two tickets.

Let us first address the openers Ed Schrader's Music Beat - before I had even rounded the corner, I heard someone say "Do you see what is happening on stage?". Obviously, this statement could be interpreted as a good or bad thing, but I'm here to report everything I saw was great, a real out-of-nowhere treat. It was just two fellas, one of them presumably named Ed Schrader; one played bass and the other sang while playing a single lonely floor tom with a light shining up from it. It had a real vintage no wave sound to it, not exactly sounding like Lizzie Mercier Descloux and Liquid Liquid, but would fit nicely between the two on a mix. As you might imagine, with such limited instrumentation the songs would have a sameness to them, but it was an enjoyable, exciting sameness. They had two speeds - a slow, baroque almost pop sound, and upbeat industrial-punk numbers that had the crowd dancing a little bit, I suppose to get their joints warmed up for Future Islands. Hopefully their warm response will send them back down here soon, because I want more.

So it was a Future Islands show without glowsticks, a first for me. Maybe they were being saved for their next show (this was the first night of a two night stand at Kings). It didn't really matter or anything, as the band still absolutely killed as always, but not having to keep from catching a tube of neon chemicals in the eye made things, well, a touch less lively. They tried out a lot of new songs, and they were all great...hopefully a new album is not too far out? Though who knows when they'd have time to record it, as they seem to tour non-stop. Other than that, it was hit after hit after hit from their last couple records, a sweaty tangle of kids dancing in front of them, and smiles all the way to the back windows of Kings. This band has reached sing-a-long status here locally, where many of their songs, like "Tin Man", get a ton of crowd participation. I certainly joined in, cause god knows I love a good group sing at a rock show.

As long as Future Islands keep coming back and playing their second home here in the Triangle, I'll keep going. It's a nice, symbiotic relationship, one I don't intend to fuck up.

Monotonix / Pujol / Federation X at Kings - 2/3/2011

with Pujol and Federation X

Monotonix, while obviously not from around here, are somewhat local legends it seems. They seem to play here on every tour and always get a huge turnout, yet I had managed to never see them. When I found out they were going to call it quits after this tour, I figured it was time to get off the pot and to one of their shows.

But first, Federation X. Honestly, I was at the show for them as much if not more than Monotonix. I'd had friends rave about them for years, picked up their 2005 release "Rally Day", and then became best friends with it. They're a tough band to describe, assuming you wanted to expand past "awesome". They're not an instrumental band, but the non-vocal portions of their songs are way longer than the vocal portions. They're fairly heavy but they're not metal, and they like the occasional unique time signature but it's not prog or math rock. Probably the best comparison would be to fellow Washingtonians Karp, though a little less abrasive. Anyways, this was my first time seeing them live and they did not disappoint. They played a number of "Rally X" songs and I was happy about that. The show was sold out and the club was filling up as they played, and while there were definitely a handful of Federation X fans clearly there early to see them, most of the crowd appeared to be new to their sound. And I'm pretty sure they were really diggin' it. It was good to finally see them, especially given they barely play out anymore.

Pujol was supposed to open the show but for whatever reason they were late getting to the club, and only had time to play a short 15 minute middle set before Monotonix came on. I had absolutely no idea who they were - turns out they are a catchy, throwback garage pop band out of Tennessee. Five young dudes and tons of hooks, I'd guess they churned out five songs in just a little over ten minutes. They were a complete surprise to me and I was really impressed given the short set...or maybe the short set helped, less time to play crappy songs if you have them. Either way, I'd like to see more out of them and hopefully they come back to the area.

As I told a friend of mine, you go see Monotonix for the show, not the music. I am only vaguely familiar with their recordings, but it doesn't really matter because what they play live barely resembles anything they've ever recorded. they started the show set up on the ground in front of the stage, but before the show was over they would also perform in the middle of the crowd, the back of the crowd, on top of the bar, and then they finally played one song at the end on the actual stage. The music was very near a sonic disaster, just sort of a roar of drums and guitar and vocals that really made no sense. But when you have a singer like Ami Shalev you don't's like feeding a monkey a bag full of pixie stix and then letting him run loose in a crowd of people. I could write for a long time all of his antics, but by far the highlight was when he got inside the garbage can and then the crowd passed him around in the can while he was still singing. It was all goddamn ridiculous and hilarious and fascinating, and it's a real loss to the world of live music that they're not going to tour anymore.

The Reigning Sound at the Local 506 - 1/16/2011

The Reigning Sound 
Local 506

Sort of a last minute show, and I'm so incredibly glad it happened because it had been ages since I last saw the Reigning Sound. They were original scheduled to play some outrageously expensive garage rock weekend at the Pour House in Raleigh, with tickets over a hundred bucks if I remember correctly...and as much as I love Greg Cartwright and company, fuck that pricey nonsense. But then those shows fell through (I'm going to guess because of lack of ticket sales maybe, but I have no idea), and this gig was scheduled for the 506 with a couple of weeks to spare. This time, a ticket was purchased at max speed, and I was counting the days.

This was my first time seeing the band in years - kinda odd I saw them more often when I lived in California than I have since moving to Greg Cartwright's adopted home state. They've played up in Asheville a few times, but this might be the first time they've made their way down to the Triangle since I moved back three years ago. The crowd was amped to see them play, a motley collection of mods, garage rockers, rockabilly-looking types, old folks, and regular dudes like me. LOTS of dudes.

The band ripped through a blistering set that covered pretty much all of their records, though my shitty memory keeps me from remembering most of the titles other than their cover of "Stormy Weather". In recorded form their music blends rockabilly/alt-country twang with garage rock sensibilities, but live it comes out as high-quality, straight-forward catchy rock-n-roll. The band is completely non nonsense in their delivery - very little banter, just song after song of crowd pleasing audio nuggets. For a Sunday night on short notice, not only was it a packed house, but a lively one at that. Please, PLEASE don't let them wait so long to come back to the Triangle.

As a side note, I got there too late to really see local upstarts Last Year's Men, catching only their final song. But I saw them perform with Gentleman Jesse a few months back and knew how great they were, so I bought their record anyways because I forgot to do it the last time I saw them, sidetracked with some manner of conversation or god knows what. And it's a fantastic record, best local release of the year (so far).

(Actually took that picture with my phone, so while it might be crappy, it's not that crappy considering the source.)