Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Jeff the Brotherhood at Berkeley Cafe - 6/13/2012

Jeff the Brotherhood
Berkeley Cafe
6/13/2012

I was immensely excited for this show.  Jeff the Brotherhood put on the best show of last year's Hopscotch festival, a packed, sweaty affair at Slims where the crowd was as receptive as any I've ever seen for a band in Raleigh.  Also, this weird girl spent much of the show dry humping my leg while I tried taking photos.  It's the little things that makes a show memorable you know?

No one dry humped me at the Berkeley Cafe, and the crowd wasn't nearly as excited and animated save the pack of girls who were posted up at the front of the stage right next to me...one of which kinda looked like Spicoli from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."  But the band still destroyed - particularly my ears and my brain - in the best way possible.  Lots of songs from their last couple of full-lengths "Heavy Days" and "We Are The Champions", plus a handful of new tracks that will presumably be on their upcoming record.  They had also apparently set aside more money this tour for their smoke machine budget, as that thing was pumping out the stinky fog full blast for the majority of the performance.  Didn't really help with my taking photos, but it looked awesome to the naked eye so fuck some photo taking right? 

This is easily one of the best touring bands today.  I'll never, ever miss a performance.  Get off your ass and see them next time they come around. 

Amendment One Benefit with John Darnielle / Mac McCaughan / Greg Cartwright at Motorco - 4/19/2012

Amendment One Benefit
with John Darnielle, Mac McCaughan and Greg Cartwright
Motorco
4/19/2012

For reasons that are completely beyond my grasp, this stupid state decided to write bigotry into the constitution...but before that vote happened, there were a number of benefits to raise money to fight the intolerance.  This particular gig featured three of my favorite performers from the state - Greg Cartwright of the Reigning Sound, Mac McCaughan of Superchunk, and Jon Darnielle of the Mountain Goats.  They played the entire set together, taking turns performing songs and sometimes collaborating together. 

Being a fundraiser, most of the set list was made up of requests made by folks who donated a little extra cash to hear their favorite songs played.  These ran the gamut from fan favorites to obscure b-sides to random covers the musicians may or may not have had any idea how to play . Case in point - someone asked for Darnielle(?) to play David Bowie's "Suffragette City."  Neither he nor anyone else knew how to actually play it, but like Yo La Tengo on a WXMU fundraiser all three of them (plus a little vocal help from an audience member who knew all the words) banged out one of the sloppiest covers you've ever heard...and honestly, that was much more fun and memorable than if they had actually known what they were doing. 

As for a more skilled cover, Darnielle also played "The Tower" by Bruce Dickinson, a song he was clearly well schooled in (really looking forward to his all metal covers set at this year's Hopscotch).  He also played his own "No Children," a crowd favorite that had the entire place singing along.  Along with many collaborations, Mac McCaughan's great moment was him playing their cover of the Magnetic Fields' "100,000 Fireflies", a song Superchunk is just as well known for as the parent band, but one they don't play very often.  And as for Greg Cartwright - his very presence just classed up the joint.  He played a few songs in his laid back fashion, and would just noodle on his guitar in the backgroud while the others performed.  He was completely brilliant as always. 

If you really want to get "glass half full" on the situation, I guess we can thank bigotry, intolerance and hatred for bringing us an unusual & great show that probably wouldn't have otherwise happened.  So thanks for that, assholes.  Now stop being so goddamn stupid, you idiots.

Whatever Brains / Burglar Fucker at Kings - 4/26/2012

Whatever Brains
with Burglar Fucker
Kings
4/26/2012

I went and saw Whatever Brains play live again.  Shocking, I know.  This time it was the release party for their second album, which like their first album is also self titled...as per usual, they like to keep things comically difficult.  They were awesome, but then again they're always awesome.  Their new record?  Also awesome.  Don't really have much else to say about, honestly...I've proven time and time again I have no idea how to properly describe this band.  I'm pretty sure "awesome" covers it. 

Not really sure how to describe Burglar Fucker either, but for different reasons.  Their name might be fantastic but their music was a hot mess to these ears.  They had a couple of brief moments when they reminded me of Nation of Ulysses at their wildest, and when I say brief moments I mean about three minutes total out of the whole show.  It was the skronky saxophone basically.  They played on the floor and you could barely make out any semblance of songs, it all sounded like a no-wave hardcore pile of fuzz and feedback and mis-tuned guitars and inaudible vocals and of course that sax.  That may have been the point, but it wasn't for me. 

Terry Malts / Spider Bags at the Pinhook - 4/17/2012

Terry Malts
with Spider Bags
The Pinhook
4/17/2012

I was incredibly excited for this show...I'd listened to the most recent Terry Malts album "Killing Time" nearly non-stop during the month before the band was to come to town, so I was well primed.  I tried talking some friends into going, but like with many of the shows I get most excited about, they were clueless.  Clearly, the world would be a better place if everyone just listened to me and did exactly as I said.  Then again, that would have resulted in a packed, sweaty show, which - while good for the band - ain't as much fun. 

Anyways, yadda yadda yadda, the Terry Malts were really fuckin' awesome live.  Their record sounds like the perfect combination of the Ramones and Jesus & Mary Chain, but live I didn't hear as much of the chainsaw/shoegaze guitars, and they sounded more akin to the Stiff Little Fingers.  They played pretty much their entire new album, including my favorite track "Waiting Room."  No, not Fugazi's "Waiting Room," they have a song by the same name.  But speaking of covers, they did end their set with a Black Flag classic, "Six Pack."  A lot of the audience sang along...I may or may not have been one of the people singing at the top of my lungs. 


Spider Bags were the closers this evening.  I've decided they sound like a modern 13th Floor Elevators minus the electrified jug.  It may not be he best comparison but once I got it in my head I couldn't get it out.  They have a punk vibe and attitude couple with a psyche garage sound and just enough craziness that you're not currently planning on committing them to the crazy house, but they ain't far off.  They are easily one of the best live bands in the area - a fact that is not debatable - and they were as good as ever on this night.  Like Whatever Brains, words fail this band.  Only seeing them play live will really set you straight. 


On a side note, this was my first time seeing the Pinhook's new stage set-up.  It might have even been their first show in this configuration.  It's much, much better...you can lament the higher stage all you want, but it makes the band easier to see.  I like to see the bands.  Not sure if the sound was updated but it's always sounded fine to me there.  They now have a much more traditional "rock club" set-up, no more weird side/corner stage where everyone packs in at the closest side even though there is plenty of room on the other side.  Thumbs up to the Pinhook on the changes.