Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hot Snakes / The Husbands at Great American Music Hall - 10/3/2004

Hot Snakes
with The Husbands
Great American Music Hall

My unbridled excitement for the Hot Snakes was approaching a fever pitch by the time I reached the Great American Music Hall.  But before I could get a chance to see them, there was a matter of at least half a set by The Husbands until they would take the stage.  I was under the impression that this group was all girls, thus making the name of the band funny in the same way that knowing that The Girls, The Clorox Girls, and The Mystery Girls are all boys (that is to say, not funny at all really); but when I glanced on the stage there was certainly a dude back-up singer on the stage.  Well, so much for my sources, they apparently don’t know anything.  The group itself is very straight forward, simple, dirty garage rock, making me think of the bastard spawn of The Cramps and Thee Headcoatees.  Some songs were pretty good, some were just so-so…I would have been much more patient with them had I not been about to piss my pants with anticipation for the Hot Snakes.

And finally, after a lengthy wait, Hot Snakes finally took the stage.  Apparently, the show wasn’t sold out, but it certainly felt that way with the crowd all pressed up to the front like teenagers at an R Kelly concert.  The band was touring in support of their new record “Audit in Progress,” but given the length of their songs, they were able to play plenty of tracks from all three of their releases.  Except “Mystery Boy” of course, my very favorite song…seriously, they played pretty much all of “Automatic Midnight” except for that one song.  I was a little bummed, but everything else they played was so rad that it is only a small blip on an otherwise unblemished show.  It should also be noted that the band has a new badass drummer, Mario Rubalcaba (known for his work in Black Heart Procession and Clikatat Ikatowi, and pretty much every other band from San Diego it seems…along with being a pro skateboarder for many years) who replaced the Delta 72’s Jason Kourkounis.  The crowd was electric – one of the most energetic displays I’ve seen in a long time, plenty of good-natured bouncing around, fist pumping, singing along, and general merriment, and I was right in the thick of it.  There just aren’t enough bands around anymore making music like this – the public seem to want twee-pop and 80’s revival tunes – which makes the Hot Snakes more important than ever.  Even if they have to do it single-handedly, they’re keeping this brand of pounding rock alive and well, and I thank them for it.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Hot Snakes / Beehive and the Barracudas at Slims - 8/31/2002

Hot Snakes
with Beehive and the Barracudas


So I trek down to Slims and stand in the much‑too‑long will-call line so I can get my ticket.  Lots of people with fancy haircuts and snazzy clothes are milling about.  I feel out of place, but I don’t want to feel in place amongst most of this lot.  If that sounds jaded, so be it.  Anyways, I finally get in and Beehive and the Barracudas are already playing.  Decent stuff ‑ I’ll probably get laughed at for the comparison, but they made me think of the Melvins covering Rocket from the Crypt.  Sorta had that San Diego sound, but in a slow‑as‑molasses style.  Some of the people were wearing masks, and they had a cute girl who sang and played keyboards that looked a little like Sarah Silverman.  I’m all for more girls looking like Sarah Silverman.  Too many of those pretty people from outside were now inside, and talking the entire time the band was playing, which grew to annoy me. 

After the Cudas finished, I weaseled my way up towards the front for a good view and to get away from all the jibber‑jabber types that were in the back.  You could tell everyone close to the stage was there for the music.  Things began to pack in tight, and there was a DJ on the stage spinning to pass the time.  After a bit of a wait, Hot Snakes finally entered the arena.  They immediately went right  into a blistering set, with a great mix of songs off both their debut "Automatic Midnight" and follow-up "Suicide Invoice."  Actually they played almost every one of the tracks from both albums, so I'm not going to name them off.  They even played one Drive Like Jehu song, "Bullet Train to Vegas" (Oh yeah, for those not familiar with Jehu, they were a short‑lived San Diego band from the early nineties that a couple of members of the Hot Snakes were in).  Those in the crowd who knew Jehu and the song went nuts when they played it. 

The songs were short bursts of genius each and every one of them.  The band sounded like a train wreck, but a melodious and well timed one.  It was one of those times where you don’t just hear the music, you feel it.  I know that kinda sounds like some new age shit, but I would almost swear that my heartbeat changed from it’s normal pattern so that it would fit into the drumming on the songs.  Everyone up front was really into it and having a great time.  I’m even willing to bet that some of the talkative fancy lads and ladies in the back managed to look up at the band between conversations about shoes and accessories and enjoy the music.  

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Spoon at Slims - 10/21/2002


There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to Spoon - Austin roots, screwed by the majors, so on and so forth, but most people already know that story.  All that really matters is that they were playing here in SF tonight, touring in support of their new album on Merge Records, "Kill the Moonlight" (which has seen many, many plays in my CD player since it came out).  They did not disappoint - playing a wide assortment, both old and new, including some favorites such as "Car Radio," "30 Gallon Tank," and "Johnathan Fisk," my favorite from the new album.  The old songs sounded just as great as ever, and they managed to bring that brittle intensity from the new album onto the stage as well.  I gotta admit though, I was looking forward to hearing them play "Stay Don’t Go" - if for no other reason than to see if anyone in the band would produce the beatbox sounds that stand in for the percussion on that track.  In addition to the songs, Britt seems to bring a swagger with him that matches the rock-n-roll coming from the stage.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Richard Buckner at Bottom of the Hill - 12/6/2002

Richard Buckner
Bottom of the Hill

Ah, good ol’ Richard Buckner, he never disappoints me - this show was no different.  I got there just as he had started, around 11.  I was surprised he was already playing, cause he has a reputation for getting started late due to drinking and laughing and general carrying on with his friends off the stage.  It’s hard to begrudge anyone some good carryin' on though.

Like I said, great show.  I’ve seen him a number of times, and although it wasn’t my favorite time seeing him, it was up there.  I think my favorite performance was when his wife Penny was drumming for him, for the record.   This show was like most all the others I had seen, just him and his guitar - the only difference was the addition of a small portable organ that he played a couple of times, which I had never seen before. 

The crowd was mellow, respectful, quiet; the room wasn’t nearly as full as it usually is for him, which can often be uncomfortable.  There were just enough folks that the room seemed occupied, but you weren’t cramped into the same spot for the entire time.  He played a nice mix of songs, most of which seemed to come from "The Hill" and "Since," plus a few older tracks and a couple of new ones too.  His voice was on point - he was and still remains one of my favorite male vocalists, able to convey a range of emotions but not sound like a cheesy balladeer doing it. 

Parchman Farm at Café du Nord - 2/18/2005

Parchman Farm
Café du Nord

After seeing an early evening show upstairs, I staggered down into the dark Café du Nord to witness the supreme ruling of local rockers Parchman Farm. They haven’t been around long, but they rule so hard that I would probably consider them my favorite local band playing right now and I try to see them when I can.  This show was no different – total annihilation.  It seems like every time I see them play, I spend most of my time watching Carson play bass, the dude is truly amazing.  He doesn’t just play bass, he plays “lead” bass, some seriously complicated stuff but in tune with the music, never wankery at all. 

But more importantly, this night was special for one reason – the band was joined on stage by none other than Dickie Peterson from Blue Cheer for the final song.  Blue Cheer!  That guy was just as rockin’ as ever, like he stepped right out of 30 years ago.  The crowd was going nuts and I know the band was super stoked.  It was a great night for rock and I’m glad I witnessed it.

Eagles of Death Metal / Parchman Farm at Café du Nord - 10/11/2004

Eagles of Death Metal
with Parchman Farm
Café du Nord

Holy mother of donkeys and mangroves, what is this that I have just witnessed, and how could I have possibly slept on them for so long?  In this town, it can sometimes be easy to dismiss your friend’s bands, put off seeing them or whatever, especially considering that pretty much every person I know is in a band.  I’d heard some Parchman Farm songs on the Jackpine Social Club website, and while it was quite good it never quite motivated me out of the house and to a show.  But since Eric Shea and company were opening for the Eagles of Death Metal, I decided to stop being an ass and get the venue in enough time to finally see his band. 

And so I did; and let me say it was one of the best ideas I’ve had since I invented the wheel.  I think Parchman Farm is one of the finest purveyors of “floor tom rock” that I’ve ever heard; if you enjoy Blue Oyster Cult, Black Oak Arkansas, or really any three-word named bands that start with the letter “B” and sound like they belong on the “Dazed and Confused” soundtrack.  Every single musician in the band had my jaw on the floor, they were so damn talented – but the bassist especially held my attention.  The band has an EP coming out soon on the previously mentioned Jackpine label, and I’m just itching with anticipation to get a copy.

After that honestly some of my enthusiasm for the Eagles of Death Metal had waned.  How could they possibly top the amazing show I just saw?  And to be quite honest, they didn’t top Parchman Farm, but it still was damn entertaining all the same.  One thing (that for some reason had never previously occurred to me while listening to their record) was how much EoDM sound like Devo from time to time, but with a heavy “boogie rock” vibe.  The crowd was quite animated and dancing plenty to the music, and the band seemed to be feeding off of that and having a grand time.  The band itself was missing two of the three key members, which would usually be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the EoDM come from that Queens of the Stone Age/Desert Sessions extended family and you can’t throw a rock without hitting an extremely talented replacement.  On this evening the two replacements happened to be the guy who drummed for the last QotSA tour, and Jesus did he hit the shit out of the drums; and a really rippin’ guitarist, who looks a lot like Sloth from The Goonies and I believe has also played with QotSA in the past.  Since they only have one record, and it’s not even very long, they ended up playing all of those songs plus a handful of covers, notably
“Stuck in the Middle with You” by Steelers Wheel.  I wish all Sunday nights rocked like this one; it sure makes Monday seem a lot less dreadful.

Friday, August 16, 2013

High on Fire / The Fucking Champs / Kylesa at 12 Galaxies - 2/26/2005

High on Fire
with The Fucking Champs and Kylesa
12 Galaxies

I still can’t believe this was a Noise Pop show, and almost the only one I went to this year out of sheer disappointment of the line-ups.  But this has to be one of the most untypical Noise Pop line-ups ever put together…and a damn good one at that.

I missed the first group but got there just before Kylesa was about to start, which was one of the main reasons I was there anyways.  I’ve had a couple of their CDs for a while (especially that split with Cream Abdul Babar), but every time they would play previously I would be otherwise engaged.  So, finally, I made it to one of their shows, and it was well worth the fuss, only further reinforcing me kicking my own ass for missing those past shows.  I’m unsure how to exactly describe these cats other than awesome – triple vocal attack, part stoner and part classic metal…although they sound nothing alike, if you like Mastodon you might really dig these kids from Georgia.  Live was probably even better than their albums, which are pretty epic and great.  It was a near-perfect way to start the night, and in all honesty, probably my favorite band on the bill when it was all done and said.

The Fucking Champs were next.  God knows how many times I’ve seen these guys and their prog-metal insanity - they used to play with Trans Am all the time back when I lived in Raleigh, it seemed like they were there at least every couple of months.  And now instead of just playing with Trans Am, Phil from that band is the new extra-stringed guitarist for the Champs.  They sounded just as wankery as always, Phil stepped right in and kept things on par with my past experiences, only now there were some occasional vocals.  They also performed a Thin Lizzy cover (of a song I didn’t recognize, but it sounded so so so Thin Lizzy that if it was an original Champs song they’re gonna be owing the Phil Lynott estate some cash for ripping him off).  It was good, but not amazing – they’re one of those bands you really have to be into, and the club was getting so crowded that I kinda spaced out half-way through to be honest.

There would be no spacing out during High on Fire, because not only did they sound great, but there were so many dudes in that place jostling around and moving to and fro that you had to be on your toes at all times.  Some of these dudes looked like the sort you did not want to mess with (I’m pretty sure it was all a put on for most of them, but I’m not looking to test those waters).  But it all comes down to this – Joe Preston is in High on Fire; Joe Preston is awesome; Therefore, High on Fire is awesome.  You can’t argue with logic, folks.  I’m still waiting on PrestonFest, where all 657 of Joe Preston’s bands play on the same night.  Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah, High on Fire show…they sounded great all around but I left before the end because the overwhelming dude level of it all was a bit much, and even at over six feet tall I couldn’t see shit.  Not being able to see makes shows way less interesting, especially if you aren’t drunk.  I don’t know how all the tiny girls in this town I see at shows handle it.  Maybe they are all drunk?

Hella / Dilute / Rumah Sakit at Bottom of the Hill - 9/10/2002

with Dilute and Rumah SakitBottom of the Hill

I started this night out with a monthly tradition - forgetting my ticket to the show.  You would think that with the number of times I’ve done this, it would eventually sink in to my thick skull not forget anymore.  Luckily, I wasn’t too far from the house when I remembered, so all was good.

When eventually got there and walked in the door, Hella was already playing.  I couldn’t believe how packed it was - I don’t ever think I’ve seen that many people at Bottom of the Hill for the first band.  This was my third or fourth time seeing these Sacromentites, and they are yet to disappoint me.  In fact, I think they keep getting better every time I see them.  Not that the drummer, Zach Hill, could get any better, but they seem less disjointed in their sound and more like an actual "band."  The guitar could have been turned up a little more though, but I’m not sure if this is due to poor mixing of the from the soundboard, or just the overwhelming presence of Zach.  There was more than a few people watching with their jaws hanging open.  Can’t wait for that new album.

Next up was Dilute.  I just saw these boys for the first time a couple of weeks ago at the Castle, and I was pretty impressed.  Tonight’s show kept me entertained as well.  One thing that happened that I don’t remember from the previous show was the singer’s voice - a little too intentionally high pitched in a Tim Kinsella type of way for my tastes, but the crowd appeared to be digging it.  Plus, he doesn’t sing too often, so you can deal with it even if it isn’t for you.  The music was really great though, technical goodness all around.  I especially liked them announcing that the next song would be their last song halfway through their set; but they weren’t lying, as that last song was around 25 minutes long.  I’m a sucker for the epic-long math rock song, so this produced all grins on my face.

Finally, Rumah Sakit.  I’ve been enjoying their recordings for a while now, but somehow managed to never see them.  I think they only played once since I moved here a couple of years ago, and I just figured I would catch them next time, only there was no next time with the breaking up they went and did.  A little bummed out on that fact, I was pleased that they were playing a reunion show, and I wasn’t going to miss this one.  They started the show with the first song from Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  What is it with these guys and their Pink Floyd fixation?  Not that it’s a bad thing.  After that, they proceeded into their original stuff, and sounded amazingly tight for a group that hasn’t played together in a long while.  I guess that’s a sign of their musicianship, because it sure isn’t because their songs are simple.  I couldn’t really name any of them even though I had heard them, but that’s probably true for me of most all instrumental stuff.  The crowd seemed much more into it than I might ave expected, with a little more bobbing and wiggling than you usually see at a show like this.  Not that there was a ton of it, but like I said, more than I would have thought to see.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Grandaddy / The Fire Theft at the Warfield - 3/3/2004

with The Fire Theft
The Warfield

It’s true - everyone here at Playing in Fog cannot get enough Grandaddy.  I personally think it’s humanly impossible.  So no matter where they play, be it the Central Valley or the big ol’ Warfield, at least one of us will be there.

The opener was The Fire Theft – for those who don’t know, this is pretty much the new Sunny Day Real Estate.  After Dan Hoerner left the band, they decided just to reform under this name and start anew.  Can’t say that I blame them, but the bummer part is that they don’t play any of the SDRE songs anymore.  I can say without a doubt that the first SDRE record is one of the most influential records of all time, at least on my musical tastes.  So they played all new stuff, and it was good…still sounded pretty much like SDRE, mostly due to how instantly engaging and recognizable Jeremy Enigk’s voice is.  Since I don’t know any of the new Fire Theft album, it wasn’t as impactful on me as it could have been, but I really want to get that record now.

Even though I liked the Fire Theft, going to see Grandaddy and then having to wait to see them is torture.  Their set was a little shorter than I would have liked, but they packed that small time frame in with lots of great songs…the classic “AM 180” which always makes the crowd go mad, the always great “Crystal Lake”, and new favorites such as “Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake” and “El Caminos in the West.”  Additionally, they dedicated one of their songs to their friend and Future Farmer founder Jeff Klindt, who passed away recently, and another to Elliott Smith, who they shared the stage with at the Warfield a few years back.  The videos were on point, the sound was good, and everyone in the place had a smile on their face from the fantastic performance of the band. 

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Grandaddy / Radar Bros / Built Like Alaska at the Mainzer Theatre - 3/8/2003

with Radar Bros and Built Like Alaska
Mainzer Theatre

Roadtrip! Daz and I packed ourselves into my car on a sunny Saturday afternoon and headed out to the Central Valley to try and see us some good music, and good music we did see. We were both damn excited, as I’ve never seen Grandaddy before even though I have most of their records memorized, and Daz not only loves the band but was going to be shooting some pictures of them before the show for Devil in the Woods magazine. Add on top of this the fact that both of the opening bands are rad, and you’ve got a good night ahead of you.

The venue was pretty amazing – an old theatre in downtown Merced, not terribly different from the old theatres that every town in California has, but I’ve always had a soft spot for these sort of places. The acoustics were good, and it had these beautiful art deco light fixtures that I would have given my left arm for. There was only one thing slightly bad about the evening at all, and it affected all of the performers – there seemed to be a lot of problems with the PA, thus making the sound a little iffy at times. Weird crackling noises, hot mics, monitor problems for the bandsthe guys running it tried to do their best, but it never seemed to get fixed. It was unfortunate, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves anyway.

The first band to play was Built Like Alaska. What more can I say about this band? They consistently kick my ass and have been my favorite local act ever since I saw them at the Hemlock sometime last year. I don’t think a week has gone by since then that I haven’t listened to their album "Hopalong" or the more recent EP. Most of the songs they played this night were off of these releases, and Daz and I weren’t the only ones there that were really excited to be hearing them, plenty of people were dancing along to the music – and I don’t mean San Francisco dancing like the kind I do (occasional head bobbing, possibly one leg shaking along to the beat), but real dancing. I could watch these guys play every week and never get sick of them.

The Radar Bros. held down the second slot. I’ve missed my chance to see these guys too many times, so I was glad to finally be getting around to it. I nearly wore out my copy of "The Singing Hatchet," their second album, but I’m still yet to pick up the new one which I believe constituted most of their set list. I enjoyed the show anyway; the vocals were just as amazing live as they are on record, and the band as a whole reminded me even more of Pink Floyd live. Since I have very strong feelings for Pink Floyd, this is considered a very good thing in my book.

Finally, Grandaddy – I’ve been waiting years for this. They’ve played in the city a few times since I moved here, but always opening for some big name act that costs too much money. Here, I get to see them at a reasonable price with other bands I’m excited to see. The show couldn’t have been anymore tailor suited to my liking – they played a couple of new songs on their forth-coming album, but mostly concentrated on the classics. They played almost all of "Sophtware Slump," and more importantly, they even played some older "Under the Western Freeway" era songs, b-sides, etc. The crowd collectively went apeshit at the beginning of pretty much every track they started in on. Lots of singing along from the crowd, the band was all smiles and seemed to be digging things despite the sound issues, and Daz and I were as happy as sailors in a whorehouse.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Young People at Bottom of the Hill - 1/20/2003

Young People
Bottom of the Hill

I really, really like Young People, but I don’t know why.  Well, I guess I know why, but I don't know how to properly express it into words.  It’s real damn good.  It makes me smile, and that counts for a lot.  So bear this all in mind when I attempt to talk about their show, because it certainly won’t sound as good as if you just go out and see them live for yourself.

Mostly, it’s the voice, although I find the music interesting enough that I would probably listen to them if they were just an instrumental band.  Katie’s voice sounds like some sort of Bjork/Chan Marshall hybrid, but I think she’s the far superior singer of the three regardless of what anyone else might say.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again - most of the time, I don’t like women singers.  It usually ends up sounding either too cutesy or too mean and gruff for my liking.  But when I hear a woman’s voice that I do like, I usually like it a whole lot.  I could probably say, at least off the top of my head, that Katie from Young People has my favorite female voice in all of music as of right now.  That’s a pretty outstanding feat as far as I’m concerned, considering the sheer amount of music floating around out there in the ether.

As for the show - they were great, her voice was great, the new songs were great, everything was great.  If I had to gripe about anything, it would be that they didn’t play a lot of older songs, but that happens all the time with almost every band as they write and record new songs so I’m not even sure if that registers as a gripe anymore.  The new tracks sounded good though, and I’m looking forward to their new album, which I believe is coming out sometime this year.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.

(Picture not mine, found randomly online.)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Bottom of the Hill - 4/20/2003

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Bottom of the Hill


Ah hype, you’ve gotta love it. For a band that hasn’t even released a full length album, it seems interesting that Yeah Yeah Yeahs sold out not only the Bottom of the Hill well in advance but the Great American Music Hall for the 4/21 show as well. I figured I’d go see what all the fuss was about now while they’re still playing somewhere small like Bottom of the Hill, because I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re playing the Fillmore or something that size next time around. I guess the pertinent question at hand is "are they worth the buzz?" My answer would be "sort of." The music is decent but nothing groundbreaking; it pretty much falls in line with all of the other popular "no wave/garage punk/whatever you want to call it" stuff; better than some, not nearly as good as Les Savy Fav or Liars, my two favorite picks for this type of music (I actually think Les Savy Fav reach far above this one-dimensional type of music, but they always get lumped with these other groups). There are only three people in the band, and I'm guessing a fair amount of their music was pre-recorded onto a sampler because a lot more music was coming out of the speakers than what they seemed to be playing. Karen O makes for a pretty good band leader – she has a decent voice, reminding me of Grace Slick at times, and is considered to be "hott" in most circles. She does a decent job of entertaining the crowd, and the two lads are fine musicians. At their best, they have moments that remind me of some weird hybrid of Devo and Blonde Redhead. At their worst, it was just mediocre rock music that tried to put me to sleep. I suppose in the grand pantheon of "music that might get popular" this is as good a choice as any, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything great. Check it out for yourself, but don’t necessarily believe the hype.

(Picture not mine, found randomly online.)

Wilco at the Warfield - 9/6/2002

The Warfield

My writing skills preclude me from putting together a cohesive review of this show.  This doesn’t really bother me, considering how many show reviews of Wilco are out there on the web.  Instead, I will just list a series of observations I noted about the show.

1. I got there after the Minus Five played, but my eavesdropping found the main topics of discussion to be "they were pretty good" and "was that Peter Buck?"

2. One of the guys standing in front of me had some of the best dance moves I’ve seen in some time.  He looked like Weird Al Yankovic, only balding and wearing a 2XL ringer t-shirt that fit him like a dress.  He somehow managed to incorporate the hippie-chicken dance and air guitar into one new and exciting move.  To his credit, he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself, and I don’t begrudge that of anyone.  Plus, he was far enough away that I was in no immediate threat of danger.

3. Wilco played a great selection of songs from across all of their albums, but leaning more heavily towards "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot."  They played "Jesus Etc" and "War on War," which are the two best songs on the new album.  Other songs of note included a really rocked out version of "Misunderstood," which I’ve seen them play almost every time, an amazing version of "Sunken Treasure" that only retained the lyrics as evidence of the original version of the song, and a handful of the Guthrie tunes.  In particular, "California Stars," in which all of the Minus Five joined the band.  

4. At some point towards the end of the show, I ended up in the middle of a Marina-style leather coat convention.  I was quite scared they would find out I didn’t own a Land Rover or any Kenneth Cole shoes and would kick my ass.

5. The drummer for Oranger and Preston School of Industry, Jim Lindsay, played percussion with the Wilco boys.  Although he was just shaking those rattler things and what not, let it be said that he is a damn fine drummer and makes some really funny faces when doing it.  And speaking of good drummers, the new guy for Wilco, Glenn Kotche, is a bad ass.  I mean, he plays the drums and the xylophone at the same time!  I can’t play either by itself, although that ain’t saying much.

6. With the two encores, the show lasted right at two hours.  There are few bands that I want to see play for this long, but Wilco is one of them.  For some reason, I never seem to get tired at their shows.  Even with the lengthy show, everything was over by a little after eleven.  That means I get to take the train home instead of a pricy cab.  Yay for cheap transportation.

7. There were no posters.  I paid 30 damn dollars for my ticket, the least you guys could do is make some posters!  And speaking of the 30 dollars, I would have gone both nights, but I couldn’t afford it.  Chalk one up for small cheap shows, they don’t break the bank.  That said, I love Wilco and will pay 30 bucks to see them again and again and again.  I just hope the prices don’t go up too much more and the venues don’t get any larger.  

Yo La Tengo / The Clean / Aisler’s Set at the Fillmore - 6/20/2003

Yo La Tengo
with The Clean and Aisler’s Set
The Fillmore

Even though they are a local band, and I even own some of their CDs, I’ve managed to never see the Aisler’s Set. And until I got to the show, I had no idea I was going to on this night. I was there in plenty of time to make sure I didn’t miss The Clean, but it turned out that since it was a Friday night that they had added one more band to keep people around drinking booze longer. While I usually gripe about long shows, especially those that are unexpected, this time it was okay since I liked all the bands. The Aisler’s Set sounded good, played a lot of newer songs that I didn’t know and some older ones that I did. Whether the other people there at that early hour knew they were playing or not, they seemed to be enjoying the show nonetheless.

Up next was the band I was here to see, The Clean. Or ‘THE CLEAN!!!’ as some of my friends might express to anyone who will listen. Now I’m quite late on The Clean bandwagon – I got their Anthology that just came out on Merge to review, and it was my first time listening to them (and if you didn’t already know, it’s a damn fine double disc of Clean stuff over their 20+ year career). Let it be known that for a crew of men who might be old enough to be my father (or at least a much, much older brother), they rocked out more than most bands of 20 year olds I’ve seen. I had heard it reported from a reliable source that they had played "Tally Ho" at an earlier show as part of this tour, which I think is one of the greatest songs ever written. Unfortunately, they didn’t play it this night much to my chagrin, and that’s my only possible complaint of their set. I don’t know the names of any of their other songs, but they were all good, they rocked each and every one of them out, and even had the assistance of Ira Kaplan for one of them. This show not only reinforced my idiocy for not having known about The Clean earlier in my life, but strengthened my resolve in acquiring their back catalog and memorizing it.

After The Clean, everything else was destined to just seem "eh." Yo La Tengo was great, no two ways about it; but they weren’t The Clean, and after seeing them play I had a one track mind. I stuck around for over half of Yo La Tengo’s set (bear in mind they played for over 2 hours, so this was still plenty of viewing). The sound in the room was really nice and warm; you could hear pretty much everything perfectly. Ira went off on many a guitar wankery jag, but they were entertaining for the most part. They played a pretty wide spectrum of their songs, some I knew and some I didn’t. They didn’t play "Upside Down," "Detouring America," or "Little Honda" while I was there unfortunately, but they played some other goodies whose names escape me at present. Even though I left a bit early I left a happy man, having seen a good show from all bands involved, and a particularly stellar performance from the one and only Clean.

Belle & Sebastian at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier - 7/5/2013

Belle & Sebastian
Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier

Sometimes, you just gotta get on an airplane and fly to a foreign country to see a twee Scottish band play.  Belle & Sebastian were going on a North American tour but not coming anywhere near the wife and I, so we decided we would have to go to them.  I love the band quite a bit but the wife is a super fan, and it had been a long time since we had last seen Belle & Sebastian perform live.  The most interesting of the tour locations was Montreal, and hell we'd always wanted to visit Quebec, so why not make a vacation out of it? 

After a few days of touristing around, we made our way to Place des Arts - specifically the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier theater - to see the B&S.  The venue was pretty neat - it looked like what they thought the future would be like in the sixties.  Imagine the sort of place they might have filmed scenes from "Logan's Run" in, or if the cast of Star Trek ever attended a concert.  Our seats were pretty good for a venue this size, near the very front of the second level (there were four levels if I remember correctly). 

After an opening act that was a little too close to jam band for my tastes, Belle & Sebastian took the stage.  There was twelve of them at the most, though a couple would wander on and off the stage depending on the song.  They performed with a small string section in addition to all their usual players, and of course Stuart Murdoch leading the charge, charming the pants off of all the ladies (and some of the men).  Since they had no new release to support, they played songs from all across their catalog, including many of my favorites - "Stars of Track and Field," Dirty Dream Number Two," "Piazza, New York Catcher," "The Boy with the Arab Strap," "Judy and the dream of Horses," and their encore is my all-time favorite B&S song, "Get Me Away from Here, I'm Dying."  Even though it was a seated show there was a fair amount of dancing in the aisles, not to mention the couple of times Stuart invited the crowd up on the stage with the band.  The whole event was a delight, a goddamn delight, and I didn't regret traveling to see it in the least. 

Kyle Kinane / Sean Patton / Nate Craig at Goodnights - 6/25/2013

Kyle Kinane
with Sean Patton and Nate Craig

Kyle Kinane came through town and even though it was at the comedy club, it was a one night stand more similar to the type of comedy shows that usually happens at Kings.  The openers were all traveling with him, and it flt more like one of those intimate nights than a typical evening at a comedy club.  As per usual this is more for documentation reasons than actually reviewing the show, because I have no idea how you would even review a comedy show.  Kinane was very, very funny, and if you've seen his specials and enjoyed him you definitely would not be disappointed with him live.  Lots of tales of drunkenness and talk of aging hipsters, his usual fare. 

Sean Patton had the middle slot, and I wouldn't have had any idea who he was but he had a Comedy Central special just the weekend before and that was hilarious so getting to see him was an added bonus.  He has a great rambling off the cuff style, which may be very formulated, but it feels like he's just riffing on whatever random topic comes into his head.  There was a fair amount of New Orleans talk, where he is from.  Id 'definitely see him again. 

The opener and MC was Nate Craig - I knew nothing of him but he turned out to be hilarious, even if I can't recall what the hell he talked about.  I know there was a lot of discussion about him being broke, which I would expect as the opener is an are he knows quite well.  It's not often I love even the opener, so it was noteworthy to me. 

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Spider Bags / Flesh Wounds at the Pinhook - 6/14/2013

Spider Bags
with Flesh Wounds
The Pinhook

Flesh Wounds may not be considered a side-project of Last Year's Men per se, but to dumb schmoes like me it's the easiest way to categorize them.  Singer Montgomery Morris is the crossover member, but the other two Flesh Wounds member have done time in well regarded local outfits.  Either way, the band is a good time and I was glad I finally got a chance to see them after a number of close calls.  They set up on the floor in front of the stage and proceeded to rock everyone's balls off in a very unlit fashion that made photography next to impossible.  Of course the band could give two shits about such things, as it should be - they just play their grimy garage punk and everything else be damned.  I picked up their cassette after the show, and it's a fine listen.  I'll definitely be seeing these guys again.

What can you really say about Spider Bags that wither I haven't already said or someone else said much better?  Along with Whatever Brains, these two bands are the very essence of rock and roll locally.  And as great as their recordings are, the live shows of both bands have played a huge part in bringing joy to my life many, many times these last few years.  Much to the pleasure of my being able to use my camera, the band actually left the lights on for this show, which was a change from the last few times I've seen them play this year.  They put on a raucous good show as always, but i don't think it's even in their bones to put forth a subpar performance.  Oh, and the gig was a release party for their collection of singles being released as a long player, which of course I picked up.  A much easier format to listen to their non-album tracks than on seven inches.