by Dave "Scout" Tafoya
The Rothbury Festival is this weekend and were it not for a few names, it could almost be called "Bonnaroo North." Sun and jam bands abound, but the reason I'm interested in covering the event is the little bands, the folk rockers with no marquee value. To make it to a festival like this on the bottom half of a bill that includes Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson is no small feat, and I'm curious to know who we'll look to for our smoldering acoustic indictments of society in the future. With a handful of Canadian indie rock bands and some little guys with big hearts, the festival promises to be one of unforgettably intimate performances, even to standing crowds of a few thousand people.
Some of my favorites include...
--2020 Soundsystem: Anglo-Argentine electro rock thats half Daft Punk and half Happy Mondays. They've been filling Europe with satisfied club-goers and have recently migrated to the states to see if their drug-addled magic is transcontinental.
--Underground Orchestra: Not your average jam band, pulling from the distortion heavy, latin-tinged tradition of bands like The Mars Volta, Underground Orchestra can play 20 minute songs. But unlike the competition, they fill every corner with something interesting and rarely rest on their laurels. They can shake up a groove and they know how to use it once its alive.
--White Buffalo: Jake Smith, White Buffalo's singer/songwriter, looks he fell out of a George Romero film and sings with a voice that suggests that Eddie Vedder and Robert Fisher had a secret lovechild. His achy ballads, southern bar rock and slow-burning arrangements break hearts and make fans daily.
--Wendy Darling: Led by singer Cori Rush, San Diego's Wendy Darling play sun-baked indie country like nobody's business. Rush, whose a little bit June Carter, a little Natalie Merchant, and a lot of attitude, sounds just as capable over lazy guitar arrangements and plucky country tunes. Endearing to say the least.
--Parlor Mob: If The Veils had listened to The Guess Who instead of Madchester bands, they might sound like Parlor Mob. Kickass blues rock a la Wolfmother (but with a touch more staying power, not to mention some killer guitar solos), Parlor Mob kick and scream like few other bands as youthful. There's some Led in there, some Allman Brothers, but mostly they're a rock band I don't feel bad about liking.
--Man Man: We now arrive at the hometown pride portion of this piece. Philadelphia's zany-as-all-get-out Man Man have been charming audiences and indie rock arbiters with their quirky, baroque indie music for three or four years now. There's gypsy jazz in there, there's archaic literary references, there's a feeling I can only describe as slapstick. A unique band to be sure.
--Guster: Boston-based Guster is the one thing that hippies and I tend to agree on. They like their laid back sound and pro-environmental stance; I like that their pop songs don't last for hours on end. One of the first bands that ever made an impression on me (their third album Lost & Gone Forever = 5th grade birthday present), I've seen them when they were small, and seen them now that they're big, and I'll keep seeing them just to see what directions they head. An infinitely capable live act, Guster ensures a good time is had, but I'll be stopping by to make sure they're still doing their best.
Cold War Kids: A California band that sounds less like Brian Wilson and more like they've spent the last ten years in the brig of a 17th century pirate ship, Cold War Kids' tortured, percussive rock sound caught my attention with their three now-forgotten EPs, more so than with their debut album, 2006's Robbers & Cowards. Everything, the guitar, the bass, even Nathan Willet's voice, resemble their jagged percussion sounds, and their live shows are triumphs of atmospherics and energy.
Sam Roberts: The closest thing we have to a modern day Dylan or Lennon, Sam Roberts has been preaching positivity and love in apocalyptic times for a few years now, and his mightily impressive band have made sure that he's at the proper decibel level to be heard. Old psych rock from an old soul with very modern angst, Roberts wants everyone to drop what they're doing and question whether our hatred is worth whatever its buying us now. And if that's too much, he's got this infectious rock music you might be interested in. (Read our review on his latest here)
--MSTRKRFT: One of the more prolific DJ teams working today, MSTRKRFT have touched everything from John Legend to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I missed their live set at Coachella a few years ago, but I'm hoping their pulsing electronic set will make up for the fact that Jesse Keeler's tenure in this band means Death From Above 1979 won't be making new records anymore.
--Broken Social Scene: If you've spoken to me about music in the last six years, chances are I've brought up Broken Social Scene. The Canadian indie collective that has featured everyone from Feist to Isaac Brock at some time or another, features some impressive guitar riffs, an effective use of 'noise', and lyrics that deal with social politcs more adeptly than just about any other band to date. The only band that can examine sexuality without artifice or pride and still end in a blistering guitar solo (or two...or three).
--Willie Nelson: After I saw Phosphorescent go to town on some of Willie's better tunes, I'd been dying to catch the old master live again to compare. I've seen Willie once before, but I was too drained and distracted to give him my full attention. That won't be the case this time around, I'll be sure of it.
--Toots and the Maytals: Reggae's living legends. If you don't know them, go buy as many early Maytals records as you can. While Damian Marley seems content to sink into hippie hip-hop oblivion, Toots, the old guard, stays true to reggae's transformative power after all these years. I've been a fan since I saw Perry Henzel's reggae film The Harder They Come when I was 11; to finally see them live will be an honor and a privilege.
--Femi Kuti: Fela's son, Femi captures that same group ethos and funky music for change that his father did so well, except without the extremist undercurrent. With slick production and massive stage presence, Femi's been charming stadium crowds with his unique afro-beat sound globally since 1991.
--Bob Dylan: It's Bob Dylan, do I need a reason? I know people who don't like him who'd still like to see him live. I'm not a committed fan or anything, but a legend is a legend.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Those wandering folk punks, The Avett Brothers, released a few goodies today like cover art (above) and a track listing (below) from their forthcoming release, I and Love and You, due out in September. They've been playing many of the new record's tracks in their concerts, so if you've been lucky enough to catch them live in the past year or so, you've probably heard a majority of the record already. Having seen them a few times now since September now myself, I can assure you this will be one record you shouldn't miss.
Show photos and whatnot from The Avett Brothers' recent DC show can be seen here.
Give a Listen: I and Love and You-The Avett Brothers
I and Love and You's track listing:
1. I and Love and You
2. January Wedding
3. Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise
4. And it Spread
5. The Perfect Space
6. Ten Thousand Words
7. Kick Drum Heart
8. Laundry Room
9. Ill with Want
10. Tin Man
11. Slight Figure of Speech
12. It Goes On and On
13. Incomplete and Insecure
"Laundry Room" is another incredible song off this record, and frankly, the one that converted me when I discovered them last year at the Monolith Festival.
Friday, June 26, 2009
CNN: Michael Jackson dead at 50 after cardiac arrest
They're doing an autopsy today, the results of which should be interesting. I mean, "cardiac arrest" in a 50 year old man who had been dancing since he was 5 doesn't make a whole lot of sense; a dancer's cardiovascular system is usually outstanding. My money's either on some weird heart defect no one knew about or....knowing the Michael Jackson of today, a side effect of some weird drug from Thailand that turns your skin whiter or promises eternal youth or something.
To many, Jackson's Thriller was his best work (and it had the kabillion sales to prove it. I think it may still be the best selling record of all time). For me however, it was its precursor, 1980's Off the Wall. I was 9 years old, but the minute I heard "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough," I knew this record (and Jackson) were something altogether different and unusual. (In fact, now that I think about it, it may have been the first record I ever owned.)
As I said to someone last night though, the sad thing is that anyone under the age of what, 30, will only know the tabloid-Jackson from more recent years, the sad, loony, and probable pedophile, not the guy who made Thriller and changed the face and view of music videos forever. If it weren't for the Thriller videos like "Billie Jean" and the title track (especially the title track) ushering in a much more creative and serious approach to music videos, (the album was one of the first to use music videos as successful promotional tools), I'm pretty sure that genre would have died long ago.
And don't even get me started on the Jackson 5...tracks like "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "I'll Be There" are super-infectious. And I double-dog dare you to not want to get up and dance the minute "ABC" starts....or keep a smile from crossing your face. I think if you ever need a song that best symbolizes unabashed happiness-love-summer-ice cream-puppies-babies-joy, "ABC" is the only one you need.
Give a Listen: ABC-Jackson 5
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The Baltimore Sun wrote today that the Virgin Festival is indeed going to happen this year, but in Columbia, MD instead of Baltimore, and not charge for tickets.
In theory, a free Virgin Fest sounds like a cool idea. In practice? Not so sure. How many free festival shows with decent lineups (this one includes Public Enemy, The Hold Steady, Girl Talk, Franz Ferdinand for example) have you been to that haven't been either a total zoo or a total clusterf*#k? And Aug. 30th? I so wish that festival organizers here would get that doing anything outside like this in August around here is the equivalent of breathing through a towel soaked with hot water. We gave up our tickets to the second Fest as it was around the same calendar date and 97878686 degrees Calvin that day.
But I could see this time round changing my outlook on all that. The one thing that Merriweather has that Pimlico didn't though is shade, which will be a plus. And I will say that when I attended the first Virgin Fest at the Pimlico track, the organizers seemed to be really together in terms of set up and whatnot. So what do I know, maybe they'll pull off "free" properly as well? Given the lineup, here's hoping!
UPDATE (11:34 am):
Apparently, the Sun reporter either didn't do the research or has the same crummy internet browser I do that doesn't show links across the top of the Virgin Fest site page. A friend (with Firefox) just sent me the following info:
-The June 25 and 26 dates are not for the free tickets but more of a "presale" if you purchase one of two "karma packages" ($30 and $55): Karma Packages
-The "free ticket onsale" is actually June 27: Free Ticket 'Onsale'
-There is no mention on the Virgin Fest site of any "first pick" tickets allotted for Virgin Mobile customers or for attendees of previous Virgin Fests.
-Nothing on the site confirms/denies the free parking and no convenience charges for tickets picked up at Merriweather or the 9:30 Club in Washington stated in the article.
Weezer, Blink 182 to headline a smaller, but free, Virgin Fest
Rock bands Weezer, Blink-182 and Franz Ferdinand and hip-hop group Public Enemy will headline a downsized Virgin Mobile Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion, organizers announced Tuesday.
The festival, formerly a two-day affair held at the sprawling Pimlico Race Course, has been scaled back to one day, Aug. 30, and moved to the smaller Columbia amphitheater. But, in a surprising change of course for the four-year-old even t, this year's festival will be free, officials said.
"In a time of economic challenges and daily sacrifices, we wanted to throw a fantastic party so people could let loose and have a great time -- on us," said Sir Richard Branson, founder and president of Virgin Group, in a statement.
To accommodate the Virgin Mobile Freefest, Merriweather will be outfitted with multiple stages and a dance tent and expanded to hold nearly 35,000. Other performers include Jet, Girl Talk, the Hold Steady, St. Vincent, Taking Back Sunday and more.
Virgin Mobile customers and previous Virgin Mobile Festival-goers will get first pick at the free tickets, which will be distributed through Ticketmaster June 25 and 26. Parking will also be free, officials said, and there will be no convenience charges for tickets picked up at Merriweather or the 9:30 Club in Washington.
"I suppose people will think that there must be a catch, but there really isn't," festival producer Seth Hurwitz wrote in an e-mail. "We just wanted to put on a show that would make people happy."
When it debuted in 2006, the festival boasted headliners the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Who and drew about 40,000 to Pimlico. Since then, attendance has steadily slumped at the festival, which was expanded to two days in 2007. Last year's festival featured an eclectic lineup of more than 40 performers, including Bob Dylan, Kanye West, Nine Inch Nails and the Foo Fighters.
"When Virgin Mobile first suggested to me that we throw this year's festival for free, I was like, 'Um ... OK,'" Hurwitz said. "I thought they were crazy. But then again, Virgin's always done things a little differently."
From Toronto's Eye Weekly last night:
After the Dirty Projectors' highly anticipated headlining appearance tomorrow night at Lee's Palace was cancelled this afternoon by the show's promoter, the Brooklyn art-rockers' label, Domino Records, have released the following statement explaining what happened:
Dirty Projectors' van flipped outside of Detroit, MI on their way up to Toronto. Although the crash was serious, we're happy to report that all members of the band have been safely discharged from the hospital. The band will be flying home to New York in the morning to regroup and rest. Unfortunately, the band will have to cancel Toronto and Montreal.
Thank you for understanding and sending your well wishes.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sorry for the radio silence kids. Working hard on
The Wrens video interview to get it posted sometime before they put out their next record (heh). So much good stuff in it though, it's hard to cut anything out!
In the meantime, I had this sent to me recently and got laughing so hard I almost snorted my morning coffee through my nose. Robert Smigel may be bold but he's also a friggin genius. And the thing I love about Triumph the Insult Comic Dog is he is so equal opportunity in his bashing. TV on the Radio? The Decemberists? Beastie Boys? He'll poop on any of you, he ain't skerred...
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Goes to Bonnaroo (1)
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Goes to Bonnaroo (2)
Thursday, June 18, 2009
If you know anything about the Hold Steady, it wouldn't surprise you to hear that lead guitarist and co-founder Tad Kubler is a top-notch guitar player. Playing the more zen-like ying onstage to lead singer and (the other) co-founder Craig Finn's spastic and hyper yang, Kubler's playing really gives Hold Steady songs a fullness, creating a sound that, to quote a friend, "smells like pure testosterone."
So you might know Kubler is a guitarist, but it might surprise you to hear that Kubler is also a top-notch photographer as well. Starting out in Minneapolis, MN shooting for ad agencies before the band got going, he still shoots whenever he can. Kubler's been involved with press materials for The Hold Steady and occasionally, does work on the side for publications like Rolling Stone (for instance, Kubler's responsible for this great shot of Leonard Cohen)
I discovered all of this when I was doing some reading on The Hold Steady after finally experiencing The Hold Steady live at SXSW this year and stumbling across Kubler's photography site ("woefully outdated," he says). I'm relatively new to the photog field but there were things in Kubler's approach to composition that I found myself really relating to, because they seemed to run congruent to things I found forming in my own work that I'd like to expand. Plus, I was super interested to hear just how exactly he scored such wonderfully rich colors (answer: it ain't digital). So Kubler very graciously found me some time before their recent 930 Club show here in Washington, DC to discuss his background and the wonders of film.
Be sure to check out the links that follow each segment too.
Take a Look:
* Two big influences:Krissy Drake, Mark Seliger
* Photographers mentioned: Judson Baker, Doug Ordway, Max Vadukul
Take a Look: Yashica camera, Hasselblad cameras
Take a Look: Tad Kubler Photography
Take a Look: A Positive Rage (DVD/Live Album)-The Hold Steady
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Here are some photos from The Avett Brothers recent show here in DC at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium....
There's one beautiful consistent about the Avetts that's been proven every time I've seen them...
...and that's how it doesn't matter where they play-it could be someplace big and cavernous like Red Rocks, smaller and outside like Stubbs, or really small and scholarly like the Lisner- they always make it feel as close and snug as if everyone just gathered on your front porch late one warm summer's night.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
From yesterday's New York Times. First Sony gets more with the new world order, now Universal Music....A few years behind the time, sure, but the music industry has to start somewhere. While I'm sure music industry execs bristle mightily when having to concede to stuff like this, it's good to know that they're at starting to change their mindsets about digital music and all that it entails, if only a little. Maybe next they'll get with the program in terms of larger festivals like All Points West, Download Festival, and Lollapolooza, and view online music sites in the same "press" light as they do dailies. Because honestly, where do you go to learn more about the bands playing these larger festivals, the Philadelphia Inquirer and USA Today, or sites like mine (hopefully)? Exactly....
PARIS — The Universal Music Group and Virgin Media said on Monday that they had reached a deal that would offer consumers unlimited downloads as part of a partnership that steps up antipiracy enforcement.
Universal, the largest recording company in the world, said it would offer its entire catalog — which contains works by artists like Amy Winehouse and U2 — to customers of Virgin Media for a monthly subscription.
The music will be free from copy protection, a feature that distinguishes the service from most existing subscription offerings. The cost of the service, which will probably start by the end of the year, was not disclosed.
In return, Virgin Media, the British cable television and broadband provider, agreed to take steps to reduce piracy on its network, something that other broadband providers have resisted.
The measures could include temporary suspensions of offenders’ Internet connections, the company said.
For the recording industry, developing new digital business models is essential because pirated tracks account for 95 percent of online music, according to industry estimates.
The announcement pre-empts by a day the expected publication of the British government’s plan for the digital economy, including antipiracy proposals.
Britain wants copyright owners and Internet service providers to cooperate in the fight against piracy, and it welcomed the agreement between Virgin and Universal.
“Government has a role in creating the right legal and regulatory framework for rights and copyright,” said Stephen Carter, the British communications, technology and broadcast minister, in a statement. “However, the market will flourish through innovative commercial agreements between companies, and agreements such as this will help significantly in reducing any demand for piracy.”
Analysts said Virgin, which has more than seven million broadband customers, might have been willing to yield on copyright enforcement because it also produces and sells content via its cable television system, unlike many broadband providers, which simply serve as a conduit for content.
“This is a really high-stakes game,” said Mark Mulligan, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Universal and Virgin have come to the table with all they can offer.”
The entrepreneur Richard Branson owns a 6.5 percent stake in Virgin, whose shares are traded on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
Virgin said it was talking to the other three major music companies — Sony Music Entertainment, EMI and Warner Music Group — in an effort to include them in the new service.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Seems SPIN is having bands cover tracks from "Purple Rain" for the 25th anniversary of the film's release, and making it free for subscribers this month. Bands involved are The Twilight Singers, Fol Chen, Of Montreal, and those maniacal Texas punks, The Riverboat Gamblers. Caught them at SXSW this year, and it was something rather extraordinary, if only for the energy of the lead singer alone. If you need one reason to get a SPIN subscription, The Riverboat Gamblers covering His Purple Highness should be all you need.
For this summer's 25th anniversary of Prince's classic movie and album Purple Rain, SPIN is excited to announce the release of Purplish Rain, a tribute album made up of nine tracks commissioned by the editors of SPIN.
The entire album will be available as a free download for SPIN magazine readers and subscribers via SPIN.com starting June 23.
Purplish Rain was produced to accompany the July cover story, an oral history of Purple Rain, for which contributing writer Brian Raftery spoke to most of the key people involved in the creation of the movie and album.
Full tracklist for Purplish Rain:
1. "Let's Go Crazy" RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS
2. "Take Me With U" SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS
3. "The Beautiful Ones" FOL CHEN
4. "Computer Blue" OF MONTREAL
5. "Darling Nikki" CHAIRLIFT
6. "When Doves Cry" THE TWILIGHT SINGERS
7. "I Would Die 4 U" MARIACHI EL BRONX
8. "Baby I'm a Star" CRAIG WEDREN
9. "Purple Rain" LAVENDER DIAMOND
It can never be said that the The Airborne Toxic Event aren't some hardworking cats. They've been touring a ton in Europe and the US since their debut record was released last August, but from the looks of things, they're just getting started. World tour dates were announced yesterday and between July and November, they'll be doing dates in 11 countries on four continents. Whew! Let's hope they all have friends willing to water their plants.
Other shows will be announced soon including New Zealand, Australia, more North American and European dates and a "very special show in Los Angeles in December."
Check out our big long interview with them from back in April 2008 here (there are four parts total).
The Airborne Toxic Event's World Tour
Sun Jun 28 - Milwaukee, WI - Summerfest
Sat Jul 11 - Dublin, Ireland - Oxygen Festival
Sun Jul 12 - Balado, Kinross-Shire, Scotland - T in The Park
Tue Jul 14 - Sheffield, UK - Leadmill - Make Up From Power Outage of May 6
Fri Jul 17 - Letisko Trenčín, Slovakia - Pohoda Festival
Sat Jul 18 - Suffolk, UK - Latitude Festival
Sat Jul 25 - Seoul, Korea - Valley Rock Festival
Sun Jul 26 - Niigata, Japan - Fuji Rock Festival
Tue Aug 4 - Cleveland, OH - House Of Blues
Wed Aug 5 - Cincinnati, OH - Mad Hatter
Sun Aug 9 - Chicago, IL - Lollapalooza
Fri Aug 14 - Gampel, Switzerland - OpenAir Gampel
Sat Aug 15 - Leicester, UK - Summer Sundae
Wed Aug 19 - Munich, Germany - 59:1
Fri Aug 21 - Hasselt, Belgium - Pukkelpop Festival
Sat Aug 22 - Biddinghuizen, Netherlands - Lowlands Festival
Mon Aug 24 - Koln, Germany - Gebaeude 9
Tue Aug 25 - Berlin, Germany - Frannz
Wed Aug 26 - Hamburg, Germany - Knust
Fri Aug 28 - Reading, UK - Reading Festival
Sun Aug 30 - Leeds, UK - Leeds Festival
(Full Tour To Be Announced Soon in Australia & New Zealand)
Sat Sep 12 - Gosford, Australia - Coaster Festival
North American Fall Tour
Thu Sep 17 - Pomona, CA - The Fox Theatre
Sun Sep 20 - Tempe, AZ - Tempe Beach Park - Arizona Fall Frenzy
Thu Sep 24 - Boulder, CO - Boulder Theatre
Fri Sep 25 - Omaha, NB - The Slowdown
Sat Sep 26 - Des Moines, IA - People's Court
Mon Sep 28 - Lawrence, KS - Granada
Tue Sep 29 - Tulsa, OK - Cain's
Wed Sep 30 - Dallas, TX - House Of Blues
Thu Oct 1 - Houston, TX - House Of Blues
Sat Oct 3 - Austin, TX - Zilker Park - Austin City Limits
Tue Oct 6 - St. Petersburg, FL - State Theatre
Wed Oct 7 - Atlanta, GA - Variety Loft
Thu Oct 8 - Columbia, SC - Headliners
Fri Oct 9 - Norfolk, VA - Norva
Sat Oct 10 - Philadelphia, PA - Trocadero
Mon Oct 12 - Washington, DC - 930 Club
Thu Oct 15 - New York, NY - Webster
Sat Oct 17 - Albany, NY - Northern Lights
Sun Oct 18 - Montreal, QC - Le Tulipe
Mon Oct 19 - Toronto, ON - Phoenix
Wed Oct 21 - Columbus, OH - Newport Music Hall
Thu Oct 22 - Detroit MI - Crofoot
Sat Oct 24 - Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line
Wed Oct 28 - Vancouver, BC - Commodore
Thu Oct 29 - Seattle, WA - Showbox Market
Fri Oct 30 - Boise, ID - Knitting Factory
Sat Oct 31 - Portland, OR - Roseland
Mon Nov 2 - San Francisco, CA - Fillmore
European Fall Tour
Fri Nov 6 - London, UK - Shepherds Bush Empire
Sat Nov 7 - Birmingham, UK - Academy
Sun Nov 8 - Bristol, UK - Anson Rooms
Tue Nov 10 - Glasgow, SCO - ABC
Wed Nov 11 - Dublin, IRE - Olympia
Thu Nov 12 - Manchester, UK - Ritz
Sat Nov 14 - Oxford, UK - Academy
(Main Land Europe will be announced soon)
Thursday, June 11, 2009
After hearing The Hold Steady cover 'History Lesson Part 2' by the Minutemen the other night, it got me itching to hear the original. In my search, found a great version of THS doing it at the Wiltern Theater in LA last year. Let's get fucked up and go pogo y'all....
The Minutemen version
The Hold Steady version (Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, CA, 11/24/2008)
24 hours after seeing The Hold Steady tear down the place, I was back to see the first of TV on the Radio's two night stand at the 930 Club. It would be hard for anyone to follow up Craig Finn and company's hyperknetic stage show, but if anyone could it would be TVOTR's lead singer Tunde Adebimpe. That man has smoother dance moves than Fred Astaire and James Brown put together.
The set started off with slower songs, almost teasing the crowd. Having seen the set list, I was waiting for the mad eruption of dancing, both onstage and off, once they hit mid-set with the 1-2 power punch of "Golden Age" into "Wolf Like Me."
And when it hit, the sight of 1500 people pogoing in time with the Adebimpe's rise-and-fall vocal jabs during "Wolf" was an awesome sight. The crowd may had been slow to respond up to then, but from that point forward, the eyes of every bobbing head in the 930 were pinned to the heated swirl onstage. TV on the Radio was awake and ready to howl hallelujah this DC night.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I'm new to The Hold Steady train. Not new to their music-heard it, liked one or two songs-but new to seeing them live, mostly because I only liked one or two songs, not many. I saw them for the very first time ever at this year's SXSW because of location... and, to quote the great Shane McGowan, their's was a show that knocked me ass over tit. The serious amount of energy lead singer Craig Finn exerts onstage could probably power a small city for a month.
But then I saw them again in Towson, MD a few days after returning from SX, and I noticed a distinct difference. I'll put it to you this way: multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay remained rather sedentary until roughly 3/4 of the way into the set (and this was a dancin fool in Austin). And Finn, while kind of animated, really didn't get going until, again, 3/4 of the way into the set. Everyone just seemed...tired.
So, yeesh, did I see an anomaly at SX? Which was live and which was Memorex? After Sunday's show at the 930 Club, I think it's pretty safe to say that the Towson show was the anomaly. At the 930 Club on Sunday night, The Hold Steady was a band out to create musical mayhem, and they weren't leaving anyone in the audience behind.
Maybe they were still glowing from their afternoon visit to the White House, or maybe it was the super-energized sold out crowd that had them amped up, but Finn and company were very clearly having a ball onstage. Bassist Galen Polivka was playing and clowning in back of drummer Bobby Drake on his drum riser, playing atop the side-stage speakers, or doing an odd walk across the stage while playing that was one part Chuck Berry and three parts Elephant Man. Finn bounced around the stage more than a rabbit on meth. He repeatedly commented how glad they were to be back in DC, doing many fist-to-chest bumps to the audience, and wearing a huge grin.
Something I love about the photo above it that it seems to visually capture the typical ying and yang stage presence that is Finn (maniac, dancing and interacting with the crowd), and lead guitarist/band co-founder Tad Kubler (more of a calmer and sedate type overall). Mind you I said typical: Kubler did break out into random pogoing when you didn't expect it and climbed the other side-stage speakers with Polivka. And while I appreciated Finn playing his ass off like a deranged kid because it makes the show entertaining, what I wouldn't give for a shot of him during "Lord I'm Discouraged"....It's a powerful song anyway about utter helplessness, but Finn's rendition Sunday was stunning. He hung on to the mike stand like the words pouring forth were being ripped from the very bottom of his soul.
They also included a really lovely cover of History Lesson, Part 2 by The Minutemen in the encore which was a nice touch.
So if you are like me before and wonder, "What's all the fuss about the Hold Steady?", I got four words for you, man: go see them live. You'll be high as hell and born again, I promise.
Give a Listen: History Lesson, Part 2 (Minutemen Cover)-The Hold Steady, 930 Club, 6/7/09
The whole show can be found here.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Jersey favorites The Gaslight Anthem announced fall 2009 tour dates today, with more cities and dates expected to be confirmed in the weeks to come.
The band's Fall tour marks their last headline run before they head into the studio later this year to record their follow-up to THE '59 SOUND. Gaslight's headline Fall tour features Murder By Death as direct support. The lineup will be rounded out by a rotating group of great bands, including The Loved Ones, Jesse Malin, Frank Turner, Broadway Calls, and Ninja Gun.
The lucky ducks are opening for three Social D shows in Germany, and for fellow New Joyseyian, Bruce Springsteen at London's Hyde Park on 6/28.
Give a Listen: I'm On Fire (live Springsteen cover)-Gaslight Anthem
GASLIGHT ANTHEM FALL 2009 TOUR (more to be announced shortly):
Sept 8: Mr. Small's @ Pittsburgh
Sept 9: Bogart's @ Cincinnati
Sept 10: Pop's @ St. Louis
Sept 11: Sokol Auditorium @ Omaha
Sept 13: Ogden Theater @ Denver
Sept 16: House of Blues @ San Diego
Sept 17: Henry Fonda Theater @ Los Angeles
Sept 20: Fillmore @ San Francisco
Sept 22: Berbati's Pan @ Portland
Sept 23: Showbox @ Seattle
Sept 24: Commodore @ Vancouver BC
Sept 26: Edmonton Arts Ctr @ Edmonton
Sept 27: MacEwan Ballroom @ Calgary
Sept 29: Riddell Centre @ Regina
Oct 1: Garrick Centre @ Winnipeg
Oct 3: Epic @ Minneapolis
Oct 4: Turner Hall @ Milwaukee
Oct 6: St. Andrew's Hall @ Detroit
Oct 12: Town Ballroom @ Buffalo NY
Oct 13: Kool Haus @ Toronto ON
Oct 18: Trocadero @ Philadelphia
Oct 21: The National @ Richmond VA
Oct 22: 9:30 Club @ Washington DC
Oct 26: Newport Music Hall @ Columbus
Thursday, June 4, 2009
A majority of videos from the 80s were so god-awful, they just screamed "spoof me." And it seems someone finally has, with literal interpretations of the videos. Some of them are just ok, but some are just friggin brilliant. (Two favorites are below, check Youtube for others.) Frankly, I'm shocked no one thought of doing this sooner.
Bonnie Tyler and Total Eclipse of the Heart...
Journey and Separate Ways...
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Hombre Lobo, out today, is the 7th record by Eels, and as always with the always interesting and eccentric frontman "E," the grey matter between your ears is captured instantaneously. Gone is the softness found on the last release, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. Instead, E seems to have found that middle ground between the bedroom snynth of past records like Daisies of the Galaxy and the gritty dirtiness of Souljacker (more on the gritty side from what I've heard so far). For those keeping score, Kool G Murder is back as one of his sidemen. Hopefully a tour schedule will be announced shortly, and if you go, I have two words for you: Bring Earplugs. This material live is going to be LOUD.
There appears to be a "Making of" documentary coming out as well, the trailer of which is below.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Sorry for the radio silence kids. Was prepping, then conducting, a video interview this weekend with The Wrens and it took some time. I promise it will be worth the wait. The formula for hilarity is definitely multiple Guinness + (Charles Bissel + Kevin Whelan).
From Sunday's New York Times, it seems Sony is going to partner with a BL&L favorite, Emusic. Yay for opening up a whole new bunch of things and getting to dig into Sony's back catalog (more than two years old), sure, and it's great Sony specifically is getting with the new world order finally. But raising prices to do it and lowering one's monthly number of downloads to do it, that's kinda lame. Doesn't Billy Joel have enough money, yeesh...
In another example of struggling major music labels and Internet services finding common ground, Sony Music Entertainment has agreed to make its back catalog of songs available on eMusic, one of the largest music retailers on the Web.
EMusic, a company based in New York City, has some 400,000 subscribers who pay a monthly fee to download a certain number of songs. Its service is primarily aimed at adults who are fans of music from independent labels.
The company plans to announce on Monday that it will add all Sony Music tracks that are more than two years old, including material from artists like Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel.
The major labels had long been skeptical of the economics behind eMusic’s proposition to consumers. Subscribers to eMusic’s “basic” plan, for example, pay $11.99 a month to download 30 songs — or about 40 cents a song, far below the prices on Apple’s iTunes. Songs are in the MP3 format and do not have restrictions against copying.
As part of the deal, eMusic says it will slightly raise prices and reduce the number of downloads for some of its monthly plans.
Danny Stein, eMusic’s chief executive, said he had been talking to the major labels about adding their music for several years. Talks continue with Warner Music, the Universal Music Group and EMI, he said. He added that many of the independent labels had been asking the company to raise its prices.
“We have been looking for a catalyzing event to do it, and we think introducing this vast, quality catalog from Sony is that event,” Mr. Stein said.
The deal highlights several shifts in the online music landscape. The major labels gave up their objections to selling songs in the unprotected MP3 format in 2007. They also prevailed upon Apple this year to move to variable pricing in its iTunes store. Apple now sells older songs for 79 cents and new tracks for $1.29.
The major labels have also been more willing lately to strike more flexible and less expensive deals with start-ups like Imeem that are trying new approaches to online music.
Sony Music and eMusic would not disclose the particulars of their deal. An executive at Sony Music, a subsidiary of the Sony Corporation, said the company was interested in seeing multiple models for digital music coexist on the Web.
“We think the model of buying a set amount of music each month under an MP3 allowance is an attractive subscription option for consumers,” said Thomas Hesse, president of Sony’s Global Digital Business unit. “We are supportive of offerings that encourage fans to dig deep into the repertoire of our artists and discover the richness of our catalog.”