Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Kingsbury Manx at Schoolkids Records - 3/3/2013

The Kingsbury Manx
Schoolkids Records

I used to go to in-stores all the time when I lived out in the Bay Area, but they just don't seem as popular in this neck of the woods.  Finally one worth an afternoon jaunt happened though - the Kingsbury Manx were promoting their new album "Bronze Age" at Schoolkids by playing some songs.  As with all shows I've seen by them, the place should have been packed but just a few dozen people showed up.  There may not be another band more under-appreciated than the Manx, both locally and (I'm assuming) nationally.   Thy sounded great, or as great as you can in a record store not designed for live performances.  They performed a lot of songs from the new record they were there to promote, with a few older tracks sprinkled in.  Most notably, they played my very favorite song of theirs "Pageant Square," and it took all of willpower not to sing along.  I wasn't the only one having a good time - a number of band members seemed to have their kids with them, one of which vacillated between dancing to the music and heckling his father.  An afternoon well spent by all.

Efterklang / Nightlands at Kings - 3/1/2013

with Nightlands

It's not often I go to shows on a whim in my advanced age, but it was Friday night, I was fat and happy from stuffing myself with sausages from the Capital Club next door, so why not.  Hell, even the old lady came with me, as rare an occurrence as panda bears fucking!

Nightlands was the first band, and my main impetus for being there.  It's the work of Dave Hartley, best known as the bassist for the fantastic War on Drugs.  When we stepped in the room they were already playing, and I was pleasantly surprised to see my dude Brad from Megafaun playing with the band.  I knew he was friends with all those War on Drugs peeps, so why not add a little extra guitar to the proceedings?  I had never heard Nightlands before - they had a very pleasant indie soft rock sound, maybe in the vein of an American version of the Clientele.  the wife's impressions were there must have been a rule that you have glasses to be in the band, and the drummer looked bored.  I neither would or could argue against either of those points.  Good band though - I'd definitely see them again. 

Danish band Efterklang were the headliners.  Apparently they are huge overseas, but in the North Carolina they only get a half-full Kings.  They definitely had the feel and sound and "professionalism" of a big-time band.  I remember liking their record "Magic Chairs" that came out a few years back, but not being too thrilled with their more recent output.  It all sounded pretty good live, sort of a sparse, dramatic pop - the kind of sparse where the lack of music is almost used as an instrument itself.  There were six band members (seven if you count the bassist's mustache as a separate entity), but the one dude back near the drummer had a bank of electronics set up including four (!?!) different Apple laptops and seemed to be doing most of the musical heavy lifting.  The band were excellent performers, the front man in his dapper suit was particularly effective, and even if I wasn't a huge fan I enjoyed myself.  For a show I just went to on a whim, I count that as a success.

Jonathan Richman at the Cat's Cradle - 2/16/2013

Jonathan Richman
Cat's Cradle

The wife doesn't get the appeal of Jonathan Richman, but the man's music is like crack to me.  It makes me extremely happy that he continues to tour so much, because it gives me the chance to see him perform every year or two.  I got there a little early after stuffing myself silly at Carrburitos, and was worried the might be sparsely attended - there had been some winter weather that day, and even a hint of slick roads freaks folks out around here.  But by the time Jonathan took the stage, the place filled out nicely - not packed, but well attended especially for a venue the size of the Cradle.  Things started out rough - the man runs his own PA on the stage, and he just could not get satisfied with the settings.  After a few minutes he got settled though and lit into a nice set of his more recent songs.  Sure, I'd love to hear A LOT more of his older material, but like usual all we got was his classic "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar," a damn fine song that always gets the crowd pumped up...or at least as pumped up as anyone gets at a Jonathan Richman show.  Other highlights included "Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild," "Old World," an epically long version of "No One Was Like Vermeer," "Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow," plus a few of his foreign language songs whose titles I never remember.   Lots of dancing from Jonathan, some sleigh bell shaking, and no shortage of mellow Tommy Larkin drum solos.  All in all, a great time as usual. 

Ty Segall / Ex-Cult at Kings - 1/30/2013

Ty Segall
with Ex-Cult

I'm not sure if it's stimulus overload or what, but Ty Segall releases so many goddamn records that I find it hard to be a big fan, despite my liking his music every time I hear it.  It usually takes me a while to digest new music, and before I even get around to one of his new records he's released two more new ones and then I don't even know what to start with.  The only one of his recently that I really latched on to was the Ty Segall Band release "Slaughterhouse" - Ty Segall Band being different from just Ty Segall in that they use some different band members I guess, but sound exactly alike.  Or something like that.  All that said, I'd put off seeing him live long enough, so it was off to Kings.

I often mention feeling old at a show, but this was one of the youngest crowds I had been a part of in a very long time.  There were some other olds hanging in the back, but I worked my way up front to take photos and was surrounded by children with underage marks on the back of their hands, and other without them that must have really convincing fake IDs.  It is exactly these sort of rambunctious younguns that kept me from coming out to previous Segall shows, but sometimes you gotta just say "fuck it" and jump into the fray.  And they were fine for the most part - a little moshier than my tastes, lots of Beatlemania-type screaming, and any number of them have apparently not discovered deodorant yet, but those are minor gripes.  As for the music, Ty and company put on a damn fine show.  Their recorded music mostly runs along the typical garage punk lines, but live they are much heavier, almost into stoner rock territory.  I'm pretty sure they even played a song off that new Fuzz seven inch (yet another of Ty's bands, in this one he plays drums or something I think), or maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part because that platter is white hot.  After finally seeing them live it helped me see what all the fuss was about. 

The opening act was Ex-Cult, and while many folks I've talked to are of mixed opinion about them, I dug it.  Imagine catchy the sort of catchy pop-punk that might be featured on a label like Dirtnap, only with a singer who I could be convinced is Henry Rollins' kid.  What I'm saying is they were like a poppy version of Black Flag, and that's alright with me.  It would have been even more alright if they also played a cover of "TV Party," but we were not that lucky.  And now I'm going to go watch the awesome video for "TV Party."

Willie Nelson at the DPAC - 1/18/2013

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson might be 79 years old, but he plays with the dedication and passion of those a quarter of his age.  I don't typically go to shows of this nature (aka big, expensive shows in large venues), but you never know how many more chances you're going to get to see a performer like Nelson.  And while it definitely wasn't cheap, there isn't really a bad seat in the house at the Durham Performing Arts Center (also known as the DPAC for obvious reasons).  We were right around the middle of the third (top) level and you could still easily make out what was happening on the stage even without the aid of the two large projection screens on each side of the room. 

Willie played about an hour and a half and given that he has released 4,217 number one singles, you can sorta guess how great the set was - all the usual suspects were represented.  But a few things I found interesting and/or funny:

 - Instead of having roadies grabbing guitars and re-tuning them, Willie has a guy that just runs out  fresh bandana every few songs. 
 - There were upwards of three percussionists on the stage for any given song.  The drummer proper was playing a snare only, but the other two had a giant bin full of every noise maker you ever played with in elementary school music class. 
 - About the only time Willie spoke to the crowd all night is when he said "Let's play one for Waylon," and then knocked    out a bad ass version of "Good Hearted Woman."

Go see him while you've got a chance people.  I don't expect we'll ever see another Willie Nelson in our lifetimes.

(Image found online - I didn't have my camera and there were no eagles present at this particular gig, at least not on stage.)