Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dinosaur Jr / Mac McCaughan at the Cat's Cradle 6/27/2011

Dinosaur Jrwith Mac McCaughanCat's Cradle

A somewhat early show at the Cradle where I want to see the opener only means one thing - Carrburritos before hand. And man did I stuff myself silly. So much so that in rolling my fat frame back towards the club I missed the first few songs by Mac McCaughan. I'm assuming it was just a few, but it's a total guess on my part. Let's just say I missed somewhere between one and one hundred songs by him. But what I did see was great...maybe a Portastatic song or two, a few Superchunk songs ("Driveway to Driveway" and "Digging for Something" and "Martinis on the Roof"), and there was even a Misfits cover - "Children in Heat". With their record store day release and the previous couple of Superchunk shows, it's obvious that Mac is completely absorbed with the Misfits lately. And who can blame him? It was kinda odd seeing him play these songs by himself, just his guitar and high-pitched voice, no Jim Wilbur making snarky comments, no Jon Wurster making funny faces, no Laura Ballance for me to stare at lustfully. But I loved it, like I do all things Superchunk related.

Two noteworthy things about this Dinosaur Jr tour - First, they were playing their album "Bug" in it's entirety, in the track order of the album. Second, they brought Henry Rollins along to perform an interview with the band before they played their set. The interview was somewhat interesting, but much of the info I already knew from reading the Michael Azerrad book "Our Band Could Be Your Life", and after a few minutes I was just wanting them to get to the music.

And eventually they did. They started the show with "Forget the Swan" and "In a Jar" before moving on to all of "Bug". Hearing these songs with the original line-up...I never saw Dino the first time around as this version of the band had already broken up by the time I got wise to them, but this performance transported me back to my high school years when I heard these songs for the first time. And while there was no shortage of old folks my age and older at the gig, I was impressed with how many young folks were there, many of whom were born after "Bug" was released. But age be damned, we all enjoyed ourselves this evening, especially the three guys on stage. Well, I'm assuming J Mascis did - you could never tell what he is feeling from that stone face of his. They closed out with an encore of "Tarpit" and "Just Like Heaven", which had pretty much the whole crowd as giddy as school girls. I might have even let out a high-pitched squeal myself.

Lovers at The Pinhook 5/26/2011

LoversThe Pinhook

I was so excited for this show that I planned my vacation around it...I can't say I would do that for very many bands. But Portland's Lovers released my favorite album of last year (or at least top three) called "Dark Light", and I was eager to see how it would come across live. The answer: fuckin' brilliant. The songs sounded SO good being performed right in front of me that it took all my power and strength not to sing along loudly like I do in the car. The Hook had a nice healthy crowd for this show, which I was glad to see since every person I've ever mentioned them to stared at me like I was speaking in tongues. They played nearly all of "Dark Light" over the course of the night, with maybe one or two other tracks that were either new or from their older releases I'm not super familiar with yet. For the life of me I don't get why this band isn't more popular, but I suppose the end result of that is I get to see them play in places the size of the Pinhook.

Archers of Loaf at The Grey Eagle 5/21/2011

Archers of LoafThe Grey Eagle

So that "secret" Archers of Loaf show earlier in the year has turned into a full blown reunion, as Merge is re-releasing remastered versions of their records with bonus tracks and all that jazz. And in support of these releases, they're playing shows again, non-secret shows. Announced shows that are selling out and full of aggro drunk thirty-something white males who spill their beer everywhere and stomp on my feet and sing along a little too exuberantly and...fuck it, who cares, the Archers are playing, all this other shit doesn't matter.

Unlike the first reunion show, they expanded their set list past their first two record and the "Greatest of All Time" EP, but still obviously managed to hit pretty heavily on those albums too. Along with all the songs you'd expect to hear - "Wrong", "Harnessed in Slums", "Web in Front", the entire EP (aka the hits) - they also pulled out "Dead Red Eyes", "Scenic Pastures", "Fabricoh", and "Plumb Line". More importantly, they played two of my very favorite songs "Form and File" and finished the evening with "Bacteria", a song they didn't even play all that often back in the day. I got so excited that they were playing "Bacteria" that I might have peed myself just a little bit. And the glorious part is I'm going to get to see them play again in a few months at the Cradle.

Cola Freaks / Fossils / Double Negative at Tir Na Nog 5/19/2011

Cola Freakswith Fossils and Double Negative
Tir Na Nog

I was really surprised to see that this particular rendition of "Local Bands, Local Beers" was only a little local and not at all like the typical indie rock of these affairs. To go with the erstwhile Double Negative were a couple of touring Danish bands, Fossils and Cola Freaks. But then again, Denmark is kinda local, I've eaten many a cheese danish in these parts.

Double Negative opened the show to a sparse crowd, but given the line-up that wasn't all that surprising. This area ain't exactly known for it's predilection towards punk music. But fuck it, crowd or no crowd they put on a great show anyways. Is it wrong that they remind me of Rollins-era Black Flag? I know some might take that as an insult, as they might consider the Rollins years a travesty, but damn it I like most of that music, and Hank brought a ton of energy and charisma to the performance...not unlike the singer of Double Negative, Kevin Collins. They couldn't have played more than 15 or 20 minutes, but it was a hard hitting 15 or 20 minutes, and damn enjoyable.

I didn't know the first Danish band, Fossils, from Adam. Never heard the music, never even heard the name. Turns out they are an instrumental bass-and-drums two-piece, a couple of bad ass musicians producing a Big Business-type of math-metal-hard rock. Not as heavy as Big Business though, as they were just playing through a regular number of amps, not entire wall of them. There was a bit of sameness to many of their songs, but it was a pretty good sameness.

The greatest punk song of all time out of Denmark was "Cola Freaks" by Lost Kids, and now the best punk band out of Denmark is named Cola Freaks. And I'm sure we can all agree this is a complete coincidence. I knew little about them but they have a record out on Douchemaster and that label rarely wrongs me. This is straight forward, punch you in the face dirty punk rock...I've read them compared to the Oblivians and it would be hard to argue with that. They have a slight new wave nervous energy feel to them, compounded by the fact that the singer slinks around and got right in people's faces in a very confrontational manner. And I mean RIGHT IN their faces, close enough to make out, were you want to suck face with a Danish punk rocker. Great energy, great performance, and it was nice to see some quality punk rock here in the Oak City.

Love Language / Whatever Brains at Slims 5/4/2011

Love Language
with Whatever Brains

The Love Language decided that instead of playing one big show at the Cradle or somewhere similar, why not play four small shows at the tiny Slims? Certainly I prefer it, as I'm guessing most fans do (not that I don't love the Cradle). Then again, it's easy to say that when you get to Slims early enough to get a great spot, as I did for this show. It's not really like me to get to a gig early, but for this show Whatever Brains were opening and those guys get a rousing "fuck yes". I give up on trying to describe this band - art-party-post-punk that gives a hearty "fuck you" to any possible comparisons you could ever try and come up with. Their music is more attitude than sound, best summed up by one of their song intros that night - "This song is about people who read books...fuck'em."

The Love Language were spending each of their four nights playing different material - on this second evening of the residency, it would be their entire sophomore album "Libraries". As you might have guessed, the first night they played the entire debut album; and it turns out on the third night they played all of Velvet Underground's "White Light White Heat" if I'm not mistaken. I'm not sure what they did on the fourth and final night, so until I'm told otherwise I'm going to assume it was TV game show theme songs of the seventies. So, I got to hear all of "Libraries", which was great because I've really grown to love that record. Luckily that wasn't all they played though, as that album is barely over a half hour long...they came back with a second set of older songs and I'm pretty sure there was at least one cover involved, though my brain is completely failing me as to the details. It definitely wasn't any TV game show theme songs, sadly.