Monday, October 7, 2013

Slayer / Mastodon at the Warfield - 12/14/2004

with Mastodon
The Warfield

Heavy Metal!!!  I hadn’t been to a rock show of this caliber in…well, ever.  But I have been listening to Mastodon so much these last few months that I wasn’t about to miss them, so off to the event I went.  And I do mean it was an event – The Lizard Man, one of those freak show guys, was the host, the whole thing was sponsored by Jägermeister with tons of posters and promo items everywhere, and there was even a barely clad stripper on the stage at one point.  It was a family event, after all – I saw one family there, two parents and two kids, all with matching Sammy Hagar was pretty cute actually.  The family that rocks together something somethings together.  The whole thing had been sold out for ages, and the fans were pumped – most of them expressed this by having their shirts off and displaying their prison-style tattoos at any chance.  The number of females attending was extremely low, but these dudes were there to rock out, not necessarily with their cocks out.

But all that is just peripheral compared to the music, most notably Mastodon – who fucking killed it.  Seriously, they were as tight as Montgomery Burns at a charity event.  They were so impressive I have no doubt they won over quite a few of the hashers who were there only to see Slayer.  They played a number of tracks from both of their full lengths, “Remission” and “Leviathan,” and every time they started a new song I would get as excited as a child on Christmas morning.  If you have any love of the rock at all, check these guys out either live or recorded, it’ll blow your mind.

There was a time in my life in high school when seeing Slayer would have been the single greatest thing to ever happen to me.  These days, although I don’t actively follow the band like I used to, I still knew they would put on a good, enjoyable show, and that’s exactly what they did.  The music was just pummeling, and the entire floor of the Warfield was one swirling mass of bodies.  They played a lot of newer tracks that I didn’t know that sounded good, but I definitely felt that fourteen year old in me stir when they launched into “War Ensemble” and a couple of other classic tracks of theirs.  Say what you want about most of the folks who might identify as “metal heads,” but they know how to have a damn good time.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Sigur Rós at the Warfield - 11/23/2002

Sigur Rós
The Warfield

I now see what all the hype is about for Sigur Rós.  I really love their albums, but this live show was even more magical than anything they could lay down in the studio.

Aside from the main members that compromise Sigur Rós, the band also came packing with a four piece string section plus a girl who played the glockenspiel.  I love the glockenspiel, there should be more of it in everyone’s music.  The sound was amazing; I haven’t been to many Warfield shows, but this was by far the best sounding one I had personally heard and possibly my best aural experience of the year.

Jon, the singer, was in rare form.  He added to the sound with his trademark guitar playing with a bow, and his voice was immaculate.  Such range, and the way he holds those notes is amazing.  I’ve often talked shit on the merits of the falsetto voice, but never again - he has truly made me a believer in the power and glory of the falsetto.

Other than the band, the live show also comprised of a backdrop screen that would project different abstract images for each song, and an amazing light show.  Well, not really a light show in the Pink Floyd sense of the word, but they had back lit the band, and with a little smoke in the air, created these great columns of light that really added to the whole experience.  I’m sure there were some folks in the upper balcony who were stoned off their ass and really getting a kick out of it all.  This will most certainly make my short list for best show of the year.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

The Postal Service / The Jealous Sound at Bottom of the Hill - 5/4/2003

The Postal Service
with The Jealous Sound
Bottom of the Hill

The Jealous Sound – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost seen them, but now it has finally happened.  The singer for the Jealous Sound, Blair, was in one of favorite bands from the mid-nineties called Knapsack. The Jealous Sound sounds just like Knapsack in my opinion, but that’s mostly due to Blair having such an unmistakable voice. Since I never got to see Knapsack, this was going to have to be the next best thing for me. The result: they were plenty enjoyable, and unsurprisingly sounded just like Knapsack live too.  My girlfriend thought all of their songs sounded the same, and I guess they probably do, but it’s a good same as far as I’m concerned.

The Postal Service record "Give Up" will no doubt be in my top ten list of favorite records of 2003 come December, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to those catchy songs and sung along. Given that the music is almost entirely electronic, the show somewhat resembled an elaborate karaoke party, but with much better singing and no one performing a butchered rendition of "Sister Christian" or "Night Moves."  Along with Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard (who make up The Postal Service), they brought along Jen Wood who contributed many of the female vocals on the album and played that role live as well. When they performed the duet "Nothing Better" and sang back and forth to each other in a very "American Idol" fashion, all I could think about was "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and it made me laugh.  Still, it’s a great, catchy song that would be hard to dislike and I don’t plan on trying.  I guess their show as a whole had somewhat of a cheesy eighties vibe to it, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying myself. Everything doesn’t have to be serious and pointed – sometimes you just need some good pop music floating in the air to soothe your ears.  This show was exactly that, and a damn good time.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Preston School of Industry / Panty Lions at Thee Parkside - 2/28/2003

Preston School of Industry
with Panty Lions
Thee Parkside


Another free show at Thee Parkside as a part of Noise Pop, only this time it was an early afternoon "before the real Noise Pop starts" show as opposed to a late night "after the regular Noise Pop shows are over" one.  I’ve said it many times before, I love a free show; and if it’s actually a good show, all the better.  Panty Lions were up first.  I’d never seen them before but they have one of my favorite names of all local bands.  From what I was told, there is usually girl who plays with the dude (sorry I’m bad with names), but she was out of town.  So instead Ian from Jim Yoshii Pile-Up "sat in" with the band.  No, really, he just sat there for the first few songs with his legs crossed and drank whiskey.  For some reason, I found this very funny and worth noting.  At some point he did play a little guitar though, which wasn’t turned up loud enough, but was nice all the same.  They played a few songs which were fairly entertaining, singer-songwriter meets Jonathan Richman type numbers, and the singer was pretty personable and funny and chatted with the crowd quite a bit.  For their last song, Scott Kannberg (you know, the dude in Preston School of Industry and Pavement, also known as Spiral Stairs) came on stage and added backing vocals to a Pavement cover, and good times were had by all.  Or maybe they weren’t, but I enjoyed it.
Preston School of Industry, or rather Scott Kannberg, played next. I’ve seen PSoI in band form a few times, but this solo outing might be my favorite show of them I've ever seen. Just Scott and an acoustic guitar, playing some old PSoI songs, some new songs, and even a couple of pavement covers that got the crowd all riled up - especially "Western Homes" which was really great to hear. The place was super packed at this point, and it was as hot as a box of sweaters in there. Scott played for a while, had one guy come up and add beatbox on one of his songs, and joked around a lot about all of his new songs not really having lyrics, and he was just going to make some up as he went along. They seemed like regular lyrics to me; from what I could understand, no funny phrases like "egg salad lollipop" or "doo doo brown is a clown" or stuff like that, aka the sort of shit I would put in songs if I was ever responsible for creating lyrics. Sometimes these free shows are even better than the ones you pay for.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Jay Farrar / Tim Easton at Great American Music Hall - 7/21/2003

Jay Farrar
with Tim Easton
Great American Music Hall

I got to the show just in time to catch the last few songs by Tim Easton. Think of a combination of non-cheesy white boy blues, M Ward, and Bob Dylan, and that’s the neighborhood that Easton’s sound is playing in. It is a good sound, and one that I enjoyed; his raspy voice paired with the bluesy guitar playing seemed to also be going over well with the crowd of Jay Farrar fans as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Easton didn’t make a few new fans at this show.

Jay Farrar – former co-leader of Uncle Tupelo, Front man for Son Volt, and now all on his own. Well not actually alone, as he had two guys accompanying him, but you get my drift. Both of these gentlemen played the steel guitar (one lap steel, the other pedal steel), sometimes consecutively, as well as helping out on regular guitar, bass, and occasional backing vocals. Anytime I see a pedal steel guitar being played on stage, I have a hard time not watching – all those different pedals and whatnot, I can’t even begin to imagine how one goes about mastering such an instrument. Both of these guys were truly masters at what they were doing, and it was damn fun to watch. But this review is about Jay Farrar right? Well, he was great as well, just as you would expect. His unmistakable voice sounded just as you would want, and he played a wide range of songs spanning from his back catalog as well as plenty of new songs. I’m yet to get the new album, but from what I heard on this night, it’s high on my list of future purchases. The only possible complaint I could levy against the performance is that it could have occasionally used a drummer, but then again, that might have just cluttered things up a little too much. The bottom line – a fine show, perfect to tide me over as I wait patiently on that Uncle Tupelo reunion...but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

The Intelligence at the Makeout Room - 6/24/2005

The Intelligence
The Makeout Room

Hot shit, the Makeout Room is going to (potentially) start having matinee shows on Friday evening!  Curmudgeonly old bastards like myself, rejoice! 

This was the first of what is hopefully a long running feature of the club, and it featured the Intelligence out of Seattle, Washington.  This band seems to get name-checked a lot because the drummer of the A-Frames plays guitar and sings for these guys, but after finally getting to witness them live I’d have to say that they are nearly as damn good as the A-Frames are (and I really, really like the A-Frames so that is saying something).  A little more straight forward rock ala Hot Snakes than the minimal punk of the A-Frames, but super good nonetheless.  And if that's not enough, I got home in time to screw around the house and still get in bed at a decent's like the show was custom-made for the crotchety like myself that’s just not feeling staying out late anymore.