Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Delgados / Crooked Fingers at Bimbos - 11/4/2004

The Delgados
with Crooked Fingers

To be honest the main reason I was at this gig was for opener Crooked Fingers, and everything else was just icing on the cake.  I can’t say that I was surprised when it ended up not being Crooked Fingers "the band," but rather just Eric Bachmann himself.  You never know what line-up you’re going to get with that man and/or band – nearly every show there is a different arrangement of members.  I’ve seen him solo a couple of times, so despite the lack of a full sound I knew it would still be a damn good outing, and I couldn’t have been more right.  He played a number of songs that will be on the next album (out early 2005 I believe), and a few classics like “Black Black Ocean,” “Juliette,” and “Broken Man” if I remember correctly.  Surprisingly there were no cover songs, which has to be a first.  It was a short set, leave them wanting more and all that, but I was satisfied. 

I’m always amazed at how full and professional the Delgados sound when they are performing.  There’s no doubt in my mind that if more folks would just listen to them, they’d be much, much more popular.  But for now, we get to enjoy them in the comfy confines of Bimbos and I ain’t complaining about that.  This tour they didn’t have the mini-orchestra with them that I saw last time, but the keyboardists doubled as the string section for the occasional cello and/or violin part.  It was a pretty subdued performance, but the crowd ate it up; the set was a mix of both old and new, and I wasn’t the only one who got excited when they played “All You Need Is Hate.”  The music was beautiful, the crowd didn’t irritate me for the most part, and the show ended early, so I got to bed before I turned into a pumpkin.  It was a fine night indeed.

The Delgados / Aerogramme at Bimbos - 4/13/2003

The Delgados
with Aerogramme

It was a damn fine night of music at Bimbos from both Aerogramme and the Delgados. It’s been ages since I’ve seen anyone at Bimbos, and I always forget what a nice place it is to see bands with the big stage and swank décor and red velvet everywhere. 

Aerogramme was the opener, and the reason I came to the show in the first place. Aside from some technical difficulties with their laptop, everything was spot on. Not many folks there at the start of their set, but it filled in as the set progressed. I hate it when touring bands have to play to empty rooms, and it’s even worse when they’re as good as Aerogramme. They focused pretty heavily on their new material for the first part of the show, and then moved on to older songs from their debut album "A Story in White" which pleased me to no end. I’m guessing that the songs where the singer is screaming might have put off some of the contingent there for the sweet melodies of the Delgados, but...fuck 'em.  

Unlike Aerogramme there was no facial hair on any of the nine faces that made up the Delgados this evening, but there were plenty of smiles.  The band was comprised of the normal drums/bass/guitars stuff, but also included a keyboardist, two violins, cello, and flute, which is quite a crew of people to be hauling around all the way from Scotland. The music was truly beautiful – I’m really at a loss to come up with a better descriptor than that. Even though I barely know any of their songs, and hadn’t planned on staying for the whole show, it was such a grand experience that I couldn’t bring myself to leave. At one point, someone yelled out to the female singer "what does it feel like to write such beautiful songs?" which seemed to really catch her off guard; her response was to ask the guy "what does it feel like to be such a good dancer?" as the guy had been quite lively the whole way through.  It was all so very twee in the best possible way.  After their set the band came back out and played a couple of encore songs, one of which was a cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” a perfect choice for a group like this to cover.  I may not have considered myself a fan of the Delgados before this night, but I definitely am now.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

The Futureheads at Slims - 3/10/2005

The Futureheads

I had been listening to the Futureheads self-titled album tons leading up to this gig, so it should be no shock that I was extremely excited for this show.  The verdict: they were really damn good.  They have an infectious stage energy that resulted in a much more "dancey" crowd than I have seen in some time.  I was talking with the guy who runs Shredding Paper and he was saying they remind him of Gang of Four and XTC combined (their album was produced by Andy Gill of Gang of Four), and that’s even what the Allmusic write up says, but I don’t see it; to me, they are Stiff Little Fingers and The Knack combined and modernized.  Regardless, we both agreed that their vocal assault (all four members sing) is one of their best and most enduring qualities. 

But wait, this review is about the show – and like I said, it was grand.  They played nearly every song off of their record - “Man Ray” was my favorite live just like it is on the album.  There was also a new track in there as well as a cover of the Television Personalities “Picture of Dorian Grey” during the encore.  The whole crowd seemed to have a blast, I know I did…hopefully they come back real soon, put out a new album even sooner, because they’ve becoming an instant favorite of mine right now.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

The Constantines at Café du Nord - 5/8/2004

The Constantines
Café du Nord

Sometimes living in a place like San Francisco, with its numerous nighttime activities, can actually be frustrating when multiple bands you want to see are playing at different clubs all around town on the same night.  On this evening we had Deerhoof at 12 Galaxies, the A-Frames at the Hemlock, Extreme Elvis at the Elbo Room, and god knows what else.  But I chose to see a bunch of Canadians known as the Constantines, and I think it was the best choice of them all, and likely one of the best shows I’ll see all year.

Pretty much across the board this band gets compared to the music of Fugazi with the vocals of Bruce Springsteen, and it’s tough to dispute these assertions especially after seeing the band live.  Like Fugazi, the entire backbone of the group relies heavily on the rhythm section as a stabilizing factor – the bassist of the Constantines couldn’t sound anymore like Joe Lally if he tried, and I consider that to be the utmost compliment to any bassist.  Despite what you might think after hearing the album, those “Boss” vocals seem completely natural to the music, not forced at all like has been mentioned in some reviews.  The group played most of their newer record “Shine a Light” – more importantly, they played “Young Lions,” easily one of my favorite songs released in 2003 (if I had to rank, I’d probably put it at third after the obvious choice of Outkast’s “Hey Ya” and Ex-Models “3 Weeks”).  Additionally, they played a few new numbers and a handful off of their self-titled debut.  To top it all off, they all seemed like genuinely nice lads.  I know that shouldn’t matter when you’re talking about music, but it’s something that always influenced how much I like a band.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Kumail Nanjiani / Jerrod Carmichael at the Local 506 - 12/23/2013

Kumail Nanjiani
with Jerrod Carmichael
Local 506

This was more or less a repeat of the show these guys put on a couple of years back, and I'm very thankful for it.  Kumail Nanjiani is married to a local gal and they were in town for the Christmas break; ditto for Jerrod Carmichael, a North Carolina dude trying to make it in the LA comedy world but back in town for the holidays. 

I'm not sure if Jerrod was just flying by the seat of his pants or if he had a well designed set to feel that way, but either way it felt like he was just telling jokes off the top of his head and shooting the shit with the crowd.  His parents were there, standing right next to me actually, and played into his material fairly often.  The man has really honed his craft in my opinion - two years ago I thought he was fairly funny, but I laughed tons more this time out. 

Kumail also felt pretty loose - last time it seemed like he was performing a pretty well rehearsed act, whereas this time he mixed what was clearly his standard material with a lot of ad libs and crowd work.  He also had a lengthy interrogation of a Pakistani gal who was at the gig, basically reminiscing about his childhood with her.  At the end, in conjunction with his wife, there was a lengthy Q&A session.  I actually asked a question, surprising even myself, wondering if he had made up with Marc Maron - to which he responded "next question" and his wife explained she was good friends with Maron and that drives Kumail crazy. 

It was a fun evening, and hopefully Kumail continues this trend of playing a show every other year at christmas.  A great tradition started.  

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Whatever Brains / Goner at Legends - 12/6/2013

Whatever Brains
with Goner

There's a new First Friday show happening here in town called "Let Feedback Ring," booked by one of the local punk label dudes (I think).  First Friday, for the record, is an art/music/random douchebag gathering that happens every first Friday on the month in downtown Raleigh.  A lot of places do something similar, sometimes on Thursday (as was the case when I lived in Oakland) or Saturday or whatever.  Hey, any excuse to get people downtown spending money with local business is a good idea. 

The gig was held at Legends.  I once went to Legends for my 21st birthday back when I was a dumb college kid in the nineties and the idea of going to a gay club was funny for some reason.  I had no idea how big this place was though - there an entire theater area in the back with a stage that is great for live shows.  I got there in time to catch most of the set from Goner.  It feels like these guys have been around forever, even as far back (I think) as my first stint in the Triangle until I left in 2000.    I've never followed them closely but they are a quality pop band, and I was glad to finally check them out.  They used the gig to play their newest record "Faking the Wisdom" from start to finish.  Musically it would be hard not to compare their piano-driven rock to Ben Folds, though I'd rather listen to Goner myself.  Goner also has a smidge of prog rock running through them, and had more than a couple of moments that reminded me of Dismemberment Plan (particularly the vocals).  The healthy crowd seemed to enjoy it, as did I. 

Whatever Brains happened, as they do.  This time it was in companion with a crazy light show being projected on them, which was different and made for a few cool photos.  You just have to snap wildly in those occasions because the light on the band is changing so rapidly.  You get a lot of junk and a few gems, which is no different than any photography really, but it's much more dramatic with a light show.  I still say the band is slowly turning into a hybrid of the Fall and Liars, which is totally awesome in my book, but my friends disagree.  They played one of their long, epic, heavily keyboard-driven songs as have populated their set lists lately.  I'm into it. 

Pontiak / Guardian Alien at Kings - 12/3/2013

with Guardian Alien

This was my third time seeing Pontiak this year.  To be more specific, it was my third time seeing them since early September.  All three sets have been pretty similar, and at the same time all three sets have been stellar.  When it's this good, I'll gladly listen and watch them play the same set three more times...hell, thirty more times.  You can look at my older ramblings here and here if you want more dumb words on the subject, just know that this band is basically perfection live when it comes to this brand of southern gothic heavy rock music. 

The opener was Guardian Alien.  I think they played at the last Hopscotch or maybe the one before that...shit, all I remember was people were talking about them.  And they were probably talking because of drummer Greg Fox, known for his work in Liturgy or maybe because he's an amazing badass behind the kit.  The music was a combination of Tune-Yards art-pop weirdness and the heavy quirky vibes of Don Caballero.  In fact, Fox's drumming style reminds me quite a bit of Damon Che of Don Cab, though thankfully Fox has the good manners to keep his clothes on while he performs.  I wasn't 100% in love with all of their music, but watching him drum honestly made it not really matter.