Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dead Tongues at Tir Na Nog - 11/30/2012

Dead Tongues
Tir Na Nog
11/30/2012

It feels like it's been forever since I had last seen Ryan Gustafson play live, and according to this review forever means more than two years.  And I don't mean that he's been playing shows and I've avoided him all that time, I just don't think he has been performing much these last couple of years.  But now he's back, and performing under the moniker Dead Tongues.  The name change doesn't seem to have had any effect on Gustafson's sound though, as he's still doing the country rock thing ala the Byrds and singing with that same ear-pleasing voice.  Lots of young girls piled up in front of the stage, alternating between watching the music and "whooping" for 30 seconds, and then talking to their friends and texting for five minutes.  This went on the entire show, like clockwork.  It would have been more irritating if it wasn't so expected. 

The good news is there apparently is an album in the works with this new band, and if a lot of the songs they played live in this night make the cut it should be well worth seeking out.  That should also mean more live shows from Gustafson and company, a good thing to be sure. 

Future Islands at the Lincoln Theatre - 11/2/2012

Future Islands
Lincoln Theatre
11/2/2012

It feels like only yesterday I was seeing Future Islands in a half-full Berkeley Cafe, and now they are selling out the Lincoln Theatre.  OK, maybe it was closer to two years ago, but that is still some impressive growth in a fanbase.  Of course that sort of growth also means the asshole factor goes way up; that plus this evening's gig happening on a First Friday, and I'd guess no more than a few dozen people at this show WERE NOT douchebags. 

My fandom of Future Islands transcends even the worst of crowds, though I could only tolerate being at the front of the stage for a handful of songs (and only stayed there that long to take a few photos).  But Future Islands don't care, they just keep on being awesome on stage no matter how many frat boys are populating the audience.  It felt like they played pretty much every song from their last two records "In Evening Air" and "On the Water," including all the highlights that people get worked up over like "Tin Man" and "Vireo's Eye" and "Before the Bridge" and hell they even played "Little Dreamer" during the encore. 

I really miss the frequent small shows, the intimate viewings of Future Islands we used to get so often here in the Triangle.  But I'm happy the band is doing so well, shitty crowd be damned. 

King Tuff / The Intelligence / Whatever Brains at the Duke Coffeehouse - 10/24/2012

King Tuff
with The Intelligence & Whatever Brains
Duke Coffeehouse
10/24/2012

For some reason I have the hardest time getting myself to Duke Coffeehouse shows, most likely because if I don't buy advance tickets it can be real hard to motivate me off the couch, and as near as I can tell they never do advance tickets.  Even when I know a show won't sell out, it can be tough to convince my paranoid self that I'll get in for sure.  And nothing worse than driving to Durham or Chapel Hill and then getting turned around.

Luckily, this did not happen this evening.  I did get there a little late though, and only caught the last couple of songs by Whatever Brains.  Still, it fulfilled my requirement of seeing them at least once monthly.  They appear to be playing with two keyboard players now - the young dude is now back in the band (I think he left town for school or something?), and the older dude continues to be in the group, so now it's like a synth band covering Whatever Brains.  Or Whatever Brains creating new Emerson, Lake and Palmer tracks.  Not that I'm complaining, because like everything they do it's the greatest thing ever.  Whatever Brains 4 eva.

I'm not sure if A-Frames are just one of the greatest punk bands of all time, or one of the greatest any-genre bands of all time, but Lars Finberg of A-Frames is the driving force behind The Intelligence and that was all the reason I needed to make sure I saw all of their set.  I can't say I feel as strongly about them as I do the A-Frames, but they're still a damn fine band and with Lars in front the comparisons are obvious.  They also have a pretty strong garage-surf vibe, and that coupled with the gal laying heavy on the keys could dredge up a Quintron comparison as well.  After seeing Intelligence live I'm definitely inspired to dive into their records a little more.  And as an additional piece of information for the trivia minded, instead of keyboard stands the band used a couple of foldable walkers to hold up their gear...pretty damn smart actually, and much much cheaper. 

The closer was one of the new hot shit bands of the garage punk world, King Tuff.  The main dude behind the band, Kyle Thomas, gets around -  he plays in a number of bands but most famously Witch with J Mascis.  King Tuff is his high water mark in my opinion, and this was particularity highlighted with this year's self-titled record on Sub Pop - one of my favorite releases of 2012.  They fittingly get lumped in with the other garage-pop bands on the scene, but live I really saw a side of them accented that doesn't stand out as strongly on their records - the serious glam streak running through their jams.  Lots of "hot lixx" on the guitar from Thomas, and obvious influences from Slade, Mott the Hoople and even Kiss that really popped on this night.  As catchy as I find their most recent record, live somehow those same songs work even better.  Here's to the Tuffs making a return trip to our area very soon, cause I need more of this.