Monday, July 4, 2011
Brooklyn Arts Center & Kings
6/10/2011 & 6/11/2011
This weekend's pair of Rosebuds shows made me think of the crude adage "some women are for one night stands, and some women are for wifing up". Only in this case, I'm talking about music venues, not the ladies. For the first gig I drove down to Wilmington to see some friends and watch the band perform in the "new" venue the Brooklyn Arts Center. I put new in quotation marks, because while having bands play here might be a recent concept, the building itself is a church over a century old. It sat in a state of disrepair for decades, only to have a group renovate it and start booking shows there. And as you might imagine with a renovated old church, it looks great both inside and out, but that's kinda where the "great" stops. It was probably a combination of the cavernous ceilings and a sound man not up to snuff, but for the duration of the Rosebuds show the sound just wasn't great. All highs and lows, and muddy throughout. The band powered through and the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves anyways, but I've definitely heard them sound better. Since the Brooklyn Arts Center is new to this game, hopefully they sort everything out...my eyes damn sure liked looking and being in the place, but my ears didn't feel as strongly about it.
And then there was the following night, at Kings in Raleigh. If someone could marry a club, I'd marry Kings. Hell, I've spent so much time there, in some states it might actually qualify as common-law marriage. Seeing the Rosebuds in this venue, with a crowd probably 70% their friends...well there was just no way it wasn't going to be a great time. Where they had a pretty business-like approach in Wilmington, here it was a very casual affair, with stories and dedications between every song they played. And perhaps it was this casual setting that led to it also being a show full of chatty goofs, sometimes to the detriment of the band. But the band powered through, the crowd had fun, and the sound was much, much better than the previous night.
A brief note on the set lists for the two nights...they played mostly the same songs at both shows, and of that group of songs at least three-quarters were from their newest album "Loud Planes Fly Low". I was thinking that the set list probably had a hand itself in the chatty/restless crowds, in that it focused so much on new material. This isn't really anyones fault - the band wants to play their new songs that they are proud of, but the crowd doesn't really know them yet. And they're hoping to hear whatever their favorite song is off of the group's first four records. This isn't an unusual stand-off between bands and their audience, but given the new Rosebud's record was just released the Tuesday before these shows, it seemed to be amplified. Still, the new record and the songs therein are great, and six months from now those will be the songs the crowd is eager to hear.
I love the Handsome Furs, and I'm not just saying that because one half of the band. Alexei Perry, is one of the sexiest women alive. Heck, even the other half of the group, Dan Boeckner (best known as the singer of Wolf Parade) ain't bad looking for a dude, in a Mick Jones of the Clash sort of way. And Mick Jones is fitting to bring up, as this band reminds me a bit of Big Audio Dynamite - not for any particular reason, they don't sound like B.A.D., but something about the vibe has me stuck on that comparison. They actually sound like Bruce Springsteen gone catchy-as-hell electro-pop aka a dancy, more straight-forward version of Wolf Parade.
The duo spent the entire set playing their new record, and didn't even hit any older songs until the short encore (where they of course played their "hit" "Radio Kalinngrad"). Now this would normally drive me crazy, but their new record "Sound Kapital" is so fuckin' good that I didn't mind even for one second. I hadn't even listened to the record yet, but the songs are so immediately catchy that they sucked you in instantly. Kings was only about half full but the folks who were there were really into the show from start to finish, such that the Furs seemed genuinely surprised by the support and commented on it frequently. Of course no one was into the show as much as the creepy guy who was standing dead center who kept taking photos of Alexei's bare feet. I have a feeling he might have enjoyed this show again and again back in his bedroom.
with Kurt Vile & the Violators
I've been to a lot of shows, and I've seen a lot of drummers, but this was the first time I'd ever seen a drummer play a drum kit with his hand. Add to that one of the guitarists playing his guitar like a bass, and Kurt Vile & the Violators had a whole lot of strange going on. Not in the music though, that wasn't strange at all...just good. I saw him a year or two back and the set was a pretty straight-forward set of folk rock, sometimes acoustic and sometimes amplified. It felt sorta like Kurt Vile was a solo musician and just had a couple of guys playing with him to fill out the stage. But this time, they sounds like a real, full band. It was still his own skewed brand of electrified folk, only fuller, richer than that last show. Between Kurt Vile and The War on Drugs, the music scene looks might bright in Philadelphia.
I've seen J Mascis solo a couple of times, but it's been a few years, back in my San Francisco days. Those shows would be packed to the gills, but on this Sunday night the Cradle was only a little over half full by the time he took the stage. A shame really, because be it with Dinosaur Jr or by himself, Mascis always destroys live. One thing I noticed while he was setting up is that instead of using the house monitors, he set up an amp in front of him to use for a monitor. I'm not sure this piece of information is all that useful or intriguing, but I'd never seen that before.
It kinda goes without saying that he was fantastic right? J Mascis is about as dependable as the tides or my dog trying to steal my dinner every night. Goddamn bratty dog. His set list consisted of most of his new completely awesome solo record "Several Shades of Why" paired with some Dinosaur Jr classics - off the top of my head I can remember him playing (and me singing along to ) "Repulsion", "Thumb", "Get Me", and "Not You Again", my all-time favorite song by the man in any form. He also surprisingly played an Edie Brickell cover, a song called "Circle of Friends" that sounded like it could have been straight from his back catalog. Mascis even had Kurt Vile join him as an additional guitar and back-up vocals on a couple of his new songs, and while it wasn't a particularly necessary addition to the songs it must have been a real treat to Vile and who could begrudge him that. All in all, a fantastic outing, not that that was in any way surprising.