Monday, April 3, 2017

Paws / Dude York at the Pinhook - 3/22/2017

Paws
With Dude York
The Pinhook
3/22/2017

I knew absolutely nothing about opener Dude York before they took the stage.  First impression: trio, bass playing gal who sings, guitar playing dude who also sings and was wearing a half shirt, and a young looking drummer who added a little bit of backing vocals.  They said they were from Seattle and were quite gregarious, lots of chatting among themselves and with the crowd - this band was very comfortable on stage, like a group of theater majors who decided to play music instead.  They talked at one point about what is punk and whether or not they are a punk band, and how that definition is so nebulous - which is certainly true.  For my money this is a pop band with a little bit of punk scruffiness, but not truly punk...but honestly, that might describe a ton of the "best" punk bands over the years like the Ramones or the Buzzcocks or a ton of others.  I wasn't totally blown away by Dude York, but they were entertaining enough live and I wouldn't mind hearing their record(s) and see if that increases my interest.  Perhaps noteworthy is that the dude singer winked at me while I was taking photos, marking the first time I've ever been winked at by a man in a half shirt...or a full shirt for that matter.  Now that I think about it, no one ever winks at me regardless of sex or shirtedness!  Speaking of firsts, on their last song the band took selfies as they were finishing their set, which I've never seen before.  Kids these days, yaknowwhatI'msayin'? 

Paws was the reason I actually left the house, and I'm glad to report it was well worth the effort.  This trio from Glasgow, Scotland do the whole melodic, buzzsaw punk thing as well as anybody...sort of like a British version of Terry Malts, if I'm being honest (and I super duper love Terry Malts so that's meant as a compliment).  They put out a fantastic record in 2014 called "Youth Culture Forever" that was one of my favorites of the year - they played a few songs off of that one on this night, but I think most of their set focused on their new album "No Grace" which I don't know nearly as well (but I loved what I heard).  There was a little bit of banter from the band while tuning, but mostly they just burned through their songs one after another in a very aggressive, immediate way that befits their sound.  They finished their set with the rhythm section playing in the crowd, though in a just world there would have been so many fans in the crowd that this would not have been physically possible.  Hopefully the light attendance doesn't prevent Paws from returning to our area, because I very much would love to see them again.

Side note number 1: This was my first time eating at the (somewhat) newly opened Pie Pushers just above the Pinhook.  Just as tasty as the truck, and an awesome option to eat when going to a show.  Now if they could only get Parlour to open a little scoop shop annex in there as well, I'd never have to leave that building. 

Side note number 2: They played Squeeze between the bands,  I always forget how good Squeeze was, criminally underrated.  Now "Goodbye Girl" is going to be stuck in my head forever.

Natural Causes / Bodykit / Patois Counselors at Local 506 - 3/4/2017

Natural Causes
With Bodykit and Patois Counselors
Local 506
3/4/2017

This was a rare three band bill where not only did I see all three bands, I did so intentionally - not just because I was in town in time to eat at Carrburritos.  

The only act of the three I hadn't seen before were openers Patois Counselors.  Part of me hopes they originally wanted to call themselves Patio Counselors, but after finding there was a local landscaping company by that same name they went with something slightly different.  A six piece from Charlotte with the rarely seen lead singer, they had a nineties art punk vibe to them ala the Van Pelt or a number of other bands that put out records on Gern Blandsten back then (speaking of which, if someone would go ahead and do a repress of the Van Pelt's "Sultans Of Sentiment" that would be awesome).  I'm not sure what else to say about them, but I quite liked Patois Counselors and was mentally kicking myself for taking so long to finally see them.  Also, the bassist looked exactly like a young Joe Lally from Fugazi, even down to how he played the bass.  Why I fixated on this and couldn't stop thinking about it, I have no idea. 

I was quite happy that the middle band is our very own local version of Meat Beat Manifesto, Bodykit.  Actually, they don't sound that much alike, I just like any chance to say the name Meat Beat Manifesto.  The duo of Rich and Josh, formerly of Whatever Brains, is much noiser, a punk version of electronic music or something to that effect.  I don't know enough about this genre to have many comparisons, but they do occasionally remind me of Liars.  Like the last couple of times I saw them, they played on the floor with no lights, which means I got no photos that were worth a shit.  In my notes I wrote "Rich one shoe" and don't remember why, so let's just assume that Rich performed the whole set with a show balanced on his head. 

The reason this bill existed was to celebrate the release of the second record by Natural Causes.  Like their first one, it appears to be self-titled - that surely won't be confusing at all.  Apparently there was some delay in getting the sleeves for their new albums before the gig, so either the band or their label Sorry State (or both) silk screened a handful of "limited edition" covers so there would be copies available this night.  Extra bonus cool souvenirs for dumb nerds like me!  In case you aren't familiar, Natural Causes are three-quarters of the great Last Year's Men, with a couple of the guys playing different instruments and the results more in a synth punk direction, ala Jay Reatard's Lost Sounds or maybe Magazine on occasion.  There's no bass, but the synths / keyboards more than fill in that low end.  The set was short and to the point, just like most of their songs.  Local sax man about town Crowmeat Bob (of Enemy Waves and many other things) joined them on their last song to close out the night's proceedings.  I'm not against more horns in rock bands, if it's good enough for Huey Lewis it's good enough for me! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Guided By Voices at the Cats Cradle - 11/12/2016

Guided By Voices
Cats Cradle
11/12/2016

It was nearly twenty years ago that I saw Guided By Voices for the first time in this same club, standing only a couple of feet to the left from where I stood on this night.  "Under the Bushes, Under the Stars" tour if I'm not mistaken - June of 44 opened.  It was a damn good time.  These days, Robert Pollard might do a few less high kicks and drink a few less beers during the performance, but not much else has changed.  The band has nearly always rotated members, and of course this time was no different  - frequent collaborator Doug Gillard made up one-half of the guitar corp, and the other half was a real treat - Bobby Bare Jr, an alt-country star with a long solo career who I guess decided it might be fun to learn 50 or 60 short pop songs.  GBV didn't play any of his songs or anything, but he was still a nice addition to the performance. 

The band had the set down to a science - play a couple of new songs, then a classic song, a couple more new ones, back to a classic or two, etc.  In this case "classic" means songs from what most people consider their golden era - tracks like "Motor Away," "Game of Pricks," "Teenage FBI," "Tractor Rape Chain," etc; and "new" songs are not only tracks from the more recent GBV releases from the last half-decade, but they also mixed in plenty from Pollard's various other bands - Boston Spaceships, ESP Ohio, Circus Devils, Ricked Wicky, etc.  I'm of course only speaking for myself here about new or classic - the more knowledgeable fans all around me seemed to know every track regardless of era or band.  Of particular note was the annoying middle aged man next to me, who spent the entire performance not only singing along to every song, but pointing at Robert Pollard aggressively from start to finish.  I was also entertained when he decided to put earplugs in around an hour and a half into the set.  I'm sure that will make everything better, fella.  Anyways, they played at least two hours with three encores; it's impossible to leave a Guided By Voices show and not feel you got your money's worth.

Ted Leo / Outer Spaces at the Pinhook - 11/10/2016

Ted Leo
With Outer Spaces
The Pinhook
11/10/2016

Until I saw the listing in the Pinhook calendar, I hadn't thought of Ted Leo in ages.  I knew he had a band with Aimee Mann that played occasionally, but otherwise he had sort of disappeared, at least from my radar.  I decided why not go see him perform and find out what the hell he's up to these days?  It was a solo gig, no Pharmacists in sight - just him, his electric guitar, and a super fancy microphone running through a very elaborate amp set-up.  I'm assuming the mic was fancy based on how good his vocals sounded - that is, exactly like the record.  If the songs weren't slightly different, you'd almost think he was lip-syncing they sounded so much like the records.  He would talk to the crowd a bit, play a classic song or two, talk to the crowd some more, play a new (or newish) song or two, more talking...you get the idea.  Any time he played one of those classic songs the crowd treated it like a singalong, and even though that often annoys me I might have been guilty of it myself in this case.  What can I say, the dude has written a lot of damn catchy songs!  He even played a Chisel song that someone in the crowd "requested" aka yelled out ("The Town Crusher" if I remember correctly)  - if it had been a while since I had thought about Ted's solo work, I really REALLY hadn't though about Chisel in a long time.  Probably the funniest moment of the evening is when a clearly over-eager fan standing right in front of the stage yelled out what gauge strings he was using - this both confused and amused Leo, who after answering the question went own to plead for a sponsorship from D'Addario, because he's tired of buying his own strings after all the years.  Whether I knew the songs or not, the man is a very engaging & capable performer.   

The opener tonight was Baltimore's Outer Spaces, a trio that I was nearly as excited for as the headliner Ted Leo.  Their full-length debut "A Shedding Snake" is excellent (as is the EP the preceded it), and they were great the last time I saw them a year or two ago at Nice Price Books in Raleigh.  I struggle to find a comparison for this band - it's mid-tempo pop with a nineties tinge, a lot of piano (which takes the typical spot of the bass in this trio), and fantastic vocals by bandleader Cara Beth Satalino.  They played a number of tracks from that record as well as a couple of new ones - it was a fairly subdued performance and reception, as I'm not sure this crowd of mostly Ted Leo superfans really knew anything about them prior to this gig.  Hopefully they won over some new fans though, as more people should treat themselves to this great, underrated act.