Monday, May 7, 2012

Lambchop / Crooked Fingers at Motorco - 4/14/2012

with Crooked Fingers

As I noted to someone, I've seen Crooked Fingers three times in the last six months...and I'm perfectly fine with that.  This time out it was a stripped down version of the band, just Eric Bachmann on the acoustic guitar and his girlfriend/bandmate Liz Durrett playing some sparse electric guitar and singing backing vocals.  I think I might prefer this version of Crooked Fingers to the full band, but I'm more than happy to watch and listen to whatever iteration of the group comes through town.  The set list felt very similar to the last couple of shows I've seen - lots of songs from the newest album "Breaks in the Armor" plus a few older tracks like "Call to Love," "New Drink for the Old Drunk," and "Carrboro Woman" off the top of my head.  It was all quite fantastic, and I hope he comes back and plays again within the next couple of months so I can keep my current streak alive. 

You never really know what you're going to get out of a Lambchop show, but it's always fantastic.  This time out they were in mellow mode, performing as a five-piece; the band had set up like a horseshoe on the stage, leaving a big empty area right in the middle like they were going to have some cloggers come out and dance for everyone.  They didn't, for the record.  You know a band is playing a laid-back set when the drummer plays the entire show with his wallet sitting on the snare drum.  The bulk of their set was made up of songs from their most recent (and quite fantastic) record "Mr. M", though they did manage to get to one of my very favorite songs "Soaky in the Pooper" towards the end of the night.  They even played a cover of the Beach Boys-penned Glen Campbell song "Guess I'm Dumb" during the encore, a great track that I hadn't heard in quite some time.  And of course Lambchop gave it their own wry treatment, delightful as always. 

It wasn't all shits and giggles though...early in the set this loud audible buzz started...well, buzzing, and it nearly drove me insane.  On top of that, while most of the crowd was quiet and respectful, there was a chunk of dumbshits back at the bar trying their best to ruin the show.  I know bitching about a talkative crowd is tired, but this was a very quiet performance - I could hear the switches on the guitars being flipped for example - so in this case the talking was extra annoying.  The band was clearly bothered by it, but they're professionals and powered through.  And most of the crowd, the ones there to see a great live band and not converse about nonsense, were glad for it. 

Real Estate at Lincoln Theatre - 4/6/2012

Real Estate
Lincoln Theatre

Thanks to lethargy after ingesting a giant Italian dinner, I was so on the fence about leaving the house to go to this Real Estate show, that it took a flip of the coin to actually get me in the car.  Of course it should never have come to that, since the goddamn show was free, but I am a truly lazy man at heart.  And being free, the place was fairly packed, mostly with younger kids.  I wouldn't call the place a daycare, but "high school dance" might have been a fitting descriptor.  And then me over on the side with my molester mustache, twice their age and avoiding eye contact for fear of getting arrested for statutory gawking.  You can go to jail for that right?  Not taking any chances. 

As for the show itself - pretty good actually!  I say that somewhat excitedly because I didn't have particularly high expectations going in.  I thought their last album was just okay, but nothing amazing, and nothing else I'd heard by them got me too riled up one way or another.  I think they sometimes get sucked into that prep-rock scene that had a brief run a couple of years ago, but after seeing them live it seemed like there was a little more depth to them than that.  Honestly they reminded me a of young, slightly less jazzy version of the Sea & Cake, with some Stone Roses thrown in there (especially the guitar work) and maybe just a smidge of Death Cab for Cutie's mopey pop sensibility.  The kids in attendance seemed well into it for the entire set, and even this old man was kept interested enough to stay until the end. 

Lilac Shadows / Airstrip at Kings - 3/31/2012

Lilac Shadows
with Airstrip

I've often described the one of the hot new bands on the block, TOW3RS, as our local version of Of Montreal.  If that's the case, then their sister group Lilac Shadows is our local version of Apples in Stereo.  This evening's gig was all about the release of their cassette EP on the local Diggup Tapes label...though I was secretly hoping it was actually going to be a cassingle, complete with cardboard sleeve.  Hell, if shitty cassettes can make a comeback, it's only a matter of time until someone starts making cassingles again.  I'm just glad I still have a tape deck in my car.  Sure, the cassettes come with mp3 download codes too, but I'm old and a sucker for the physical object of music. 

All that jibber jabber aside, Lilac Shadows have popped onto the scene quickly, and based on the turnout at Kings, have made quite a splash.  The place wasn't packed, but it was comfortably full.  They had a dude running a projector displaying trippy images and lights on the band, which resulted in some interesting photos.  The band was great, even better than the last time I saw them (and was too lazy to write up) - a quality pop band that wraps their hooks in a lot of swirly pedal-laden guitars and keyboards and such.  The music made for some dancing kids up front at the stage, well not actual kids but I probably had 15 years on most of them so they seemed like kids to me.  The kids seem to be really into the dancing these days, and I blame that damn terrible dubstep nonsense as I yell at people to get off my lawn.  But I guess they like dancing to nice pop songs too. 

Airstrip played just before Lilac Shadows, and this was also my second time seeing this new-ish group.  These guys are absolutely one of my instant local favorites going right now, replacing the spot that the singer's former band Veelee held.  I only hope they can put out some recorded music in as quick a fashion as Lilac Shadows have, though at least there are the free songs on their bandcamp at the link above.  The more I listen the more I hear a heavy later-era Polvo vibe from these guys, and on a couple of songs they almost veer into Wooden Shjips-style psych rock with the slightest Black Sabbath tinge.  The group is highly recommended in my book.  And as an added bonus, maybe you'll get lucky and there will be a girl standing front and center eating a mango with a knife while she watches the band.  I've heard from a number of folks that the only real way to see live music is while eating fruit with a knife, but this was my first time experiencing it. 

A brief word about show openers Jenny Besetzt - I had never heard of them and only caught a song and a half, but damn was I impressed with the short bit I heard!  Really upbeat, jangly, indie-pop with a little guitar swirl was what I heard from the brief snippet my ears ingested.  Had a couple of other impressed folks ask about them after the show, so it wasn't just me.  Hopefully I'll hear more and get a better feel for them in the near future. 

The War on Drugs at Lincoln Theatre - 3/9/2012

The War on Drugs
Lincoln Theatre

Last time The War on Drugs were in town they played to a full (but not packed) house at Kings, so it was a bit surprising that their next gig would be at the much larger Lincoln Theatre - I didn't think they could fill it, honestly.  The end result though was again a full (but not packed) house, so maybe they just have the magic touch of filling any venue up to the level of pleasant capacity. 

I don't have any great, enlightened things to say about this show, except that it was damn good like last time they were in town.  They played most of their newest record "Slave Ambient" and plenty of older songs as well, and it all sounded gangbusters.  Specifically they played "Baby Missles", the only song name I can ever remember from that new album, and my favorite song the band has produced so far.  At one point John Massengill, member of new upstart band Old Quarter, joined the band for a song, a surprise birthday gift for the kid.  Additionally Brad Cook of Megafaun played along on a few tracks as the night wore on.  There were a ton of really young kids that seemed to clearly be there for the opening band (White Rabbits) that I thought for sure would leave, kids that age not being known for their love of mature Tom Petty-ish pop rock.  But they hung in for the most of the show, even if many of them spent most of their time texting. 

The moral of the story is this review is a rambling mess, the War on Drugs are awesome live, and...boobies.  Shit, I don't know. 

Royal Baths / Paint Fumes at Kings - 3/8/2012

Royal Baths
with Paint Fumes

Left the house on a whim for this gig, based mostly on the little bit of buzz Royal Baths have gotten.  Though based on the turnout maybe I'm getting faulty intel on what is hot.  Short story on the band - from SF, living in NYC now, and features former members of Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall.  Based on their pedigree I was expecting a fairly straight-forward garage pop affair, but their music was more dark, almost goth-like than anything.  Made me think of the other band that fits this description, Sex Church, that I've heard folks talk about.  There were also a couple of Jesus & Mary Chain-type songs, and a track here and there that reminded me of early Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd.  So a little dark, a little weird, and not at all like their old bands.  I'll be honest, I didn't love it, nor did I hate it - it was just a show that happened, I saw it, and I went home.  It happens.  Live shows can't always be the greatest thing ever. 

The highlight of the night was Paint Fumes - a somewhat new poppy garage-punk trio that played it pretty straight 80% of the time, and went off on long psychedelic jams the other 20%.  And for the record at least one of these jams sounded like the theme music from the greatest talk show of all time, "Space Ghost Coast to Coast."  They're apparently from Charlotte but they've been playing up here so much lately you could easily assume they are local.  And since when does Charlotte produce bands worth a shit anyways?  Definitely a band to look out for.