Archive for the ‘show review’ Category

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In Which I Review a Wolf Parade Show

November 8, 2008

Wolf Parade
The Blue Note
Columbia, MO
11/7/08

A friend and I drove up to Columbia last night to catch Wolf Parade at the Blue Note instead of waiting until Saturday to see them at the never enjoyable Gargoyle in St. Louis. It also worked out nicely that I would be able to catch the Missouri-Kansas State football game the next day.

We got to The Blue Note just as opening act Listening Party was starting their set. It had been at least 7 years since I had been to The Blue Note – Modest Mouse and The Anniversary in 2001 – and even though I’ve seen dozens and dozens of shows there, I had kind forgotten how intimate the venue is for a theater. I guess I had gotten used to The Pageant in St. Louis.

Listening Party was good, but nothing to write home about. Several in the audience, though, really seemed to be into it. I imagine if I had been familiar with their catalogue I would have appreciated their set more. I did really like the way the would loop the rhythms for some cool effects and rhythms.

Wolf Parade came out and it seemed like the venue suddenly got packed – I’m not sure where all the people came from – and upon the opening drums of set-opener “You Are A Runner and I Am My Father’s Son” the crowd immediately showed that they were going to be into the show.

The set list was split evenly between the band’s two full lengths and featured all but one song from their latest, At Mount Zoomer. The set’s flow was perfect and the band followed a basic pattern of alternating between Spencer Krug-lead songs and Dan Boeckner-lead songs. It occured to me that I generally have a more immediate, visceral reaction to Dan’s songs, but realize that the band would lose what makes it so great if Spencer’s unique voice and songwriting were missing from the equation. The band was super tight and the show-closer “Fancy Claps” was played particularly faster and louder than the recorded version. All-in-all it was an absolutely great set.

After the show, we headed to a nearby bar for another drink, and trying to give my friend a taste of Columbia, we headed to a second bar for another drink. When we got to the second bar, however, we were told it was at capacity, so we headed to yet another place – I’m not sure what it’s now called, but it used to be The Music Cafe – where they let us in for a reduced cover because the band playing (who was never identified to us) was almost done. We walked in during the band’s encore break, hit the bar, ordered a drink and started talking. Over our conversation, the band got back up on the stage and my friend noted, without looking at the stage, that the guy sounded like former Drive-by Trucker guitarist Jason Isbell. Upon actually taking a look at the stage, we realized it in fact was Jason Isbell. We had completely randomly walked into a Jason Isbell show at a tiny relatively obscure bar in Columbia, Missouri.

So that was fun.

I will have pictures tomorrow, but here’s Wolf Parade’s set list:

You Are a Runner and I am My Father’s Son
Soldier’s Grin
Call It A Ritual
The Grey Estates
Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts
Language City
An Animal In Your Care
Shine a Light
Grounds for Divorce
Fine Young Cannibals
California Dreaming
This Heart’s On Fire
Kissing The Beehive
–encore break–
It’s A Curse
I’ll Believe In Anything
Fancy Claps

I found some video from the show on youtube:
“I’ll Believe In Anything”

“Grounds for Divorce”:

Listening Party:

Wolf Parade:

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Best Shows of 2007

January 1, 2008

I didn’t see as many shows in 2007 as I did in 2006; I actually had two separate one-month stretches in which I did not see a show. I didn’t go to Coachella for the first time in four years. I did, however, make it up to Chicago for Lollapalooza. For the purposes of this list, I am going to separate out individual performances at Lollapalooza. I am also aware that I missed some great shows, all for a variety of reasons (work, schedule, money). Those shows get their own listing after the best of list.

Best Shows of 2007:

1. LCD Soundsystem, 8/3/07, Lollapalooza (review)
2. Battles, 11/8/07, The Metro in Chicago (review)
3. Hold Steady and The Thermals, 3/15/07, Off Broadway (review)
4. The Decemberists, 4/14/07, The Pageant (review)
5. !!!, 5/24/07, The Duck Room
6. Old 97s, 7/10/07, The Pageant
7. An Under Cover Weekend, 9/7-8/07, Off Broadway (Day 1 Review and Day 2 Review)
8. The Shins, 2/11/07, The Pageant
9. Modest Mouse, 11/14/07, The Pageant (review)
10. Of Montreal, 11/19/07, The Pageant (review)

5 Shows I wish I went to (and had a legitimate chance of actually going to):
1. The Girl Talk taser show and subsequent house party.
2. The National
3. Neil Young
4. The Polyphonic Spree
5. Kings of Leon

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In Which I Very Briefly and Very Belatedly Review Last Month’s Of Montreal Show at The Pageant

December 20, 2007

So, one month ago tonight, I saw Of Montreal at The Pageant. They put on, as they are wont to do, a great show. I have seen them play here in St. Louis three times, the first being just two years ago. Their progression through the venues of St. Louis in a two year stretch is indicative of their reach in pop-culture at large over that time period; the first show was at the tiny Gargoyle, then Mississippi Nights and now The Pageant. Their latest album, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, is easily my favorite album from the band one one of my favorites on the year (Best of 2007 list coming soon, I swear!).We got to the venue right after MGMT played, but the reviews I got from friends that had been there on time were mixed. Eh.We did, however, get to see Grand Buffet. Wow, they were bad. Two white guys rapping as if the only band they had ever listened to was the Beastie Boys, but somehow managed to completely disregard the quality production and craftmanship of the backing tracks. They were entertaining for – maybe – one song. After that, it got old fast. A band like that really needs to be funny, or at least charming. They were neither. There were two rappers, and for ease, I will refer to one as the skinny guy and one as the fat guy. I consistently wanted to punch the skinny guy in the face. The fat guy could actually rhyme every now and then, had decent flow, and actually had a good voice. I breathed a sigh of relief every time he took over the mic from the skinny guy. They put me in a bad mood leading into Of Montreal, but I was at least aware of this issue and tried to not let it affect me going into the main event.The stage setup for Of Montreal was way more elaborate than anything I had ever seen them utilize before. The trade-off, apparently, was fewer costume changes for the night. Alas. The band is known for its live covers, and this night was no exception, with the band opening the show with Prince’s electro-ballad classic “I Would Die 4 U”. Without missing a beat, they headed straight into another Prince song, “Baby, I’m a Star”. It was a great way to start the show and made me forget all about the disaster that was Grand Buffet. The show was great, with the set leaning heavily on songs from the bands two newest albums. Much to my chagrin, but not to an excessive amount of surprise, the band did not play “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” which they have been apparently playing on this tour. The other main, but minor, thing I notice about the show was that the set was more drum machine-heavy than previous shows I had seen. Some of their best songs feature the drum machine, but in a live setting, live drums add a layer of immediacy that is both welcome and flattering to the band’s sound.

Todd of IShootShows has some OUTSTANDING (as usual) pictures of the show up.

…I guess this review didn’t end up being that brief, after all. Additionally, I have mp3’s of the two Prince covers from that night below.

MP3’s:
Of Montreal – I Would Die 4 U (live Prince cover)
Of Montreal – Baby, I’m A Star (live Prince cover)


BONUS 
The Main Drag’s cover of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” has absolutely no right to be as good as it is. Seriously, none at all. Thanks to cokemachineglow.

MP3:
The Main Drag – All My Friends (LCD Soundsystem)


Double Bonus:

In Which I Belatedy and Briefly Review The Black Angels Show I Saw A Few Weeks Ago

So I went down to San Antonio two weeks ago to go to the Big XII championship football game. Yeah. That went well.Anyway, flights to SA were around $1200, so a friend and I flew through Dallas, which worked out well for me since my parents live there and I saved about a thousand dollars. On that Friday night, we went out to eat sushi at Blue Fish on Lower Greenville, which was, incidentally, great. As we left the restaurant around 10:30, we noticed that The Black Angels were playing at The Granada Theater, which was directly across the street. Telling my parents that we would cab it home later, we let them be on their way and headed over to the show. Very unexpected.The Strange Boys were opening and were very… 60’s. They were good, but their set only really needed to be about 15-20 minutes long. The Black Angels, on the other hand, were great. A band that plays the sort of music that they play has to be tight, and they were certainly tight. Unfortunately, we had to duck out a bit early due to a 6 am wake-up call before the four and a half hour drive down to San Antonio.

I will definitely see them again if I can.

(That review was actually brief.)

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My Belated Review of Battles and Caribou at The Metro

November 17, 2007

I was in Chicago two weeks ago for work and caught Battles, Caribou, Born Ruffians and White Williams at The Metro. The show was unique in that the Battles/White Williams tour and the Caribou/Born Ruffians tours just happened to be coming through Chicago at the same time and they just doubled up the bill. It was sold out. Lots of hipsters.

Unfortunately, we missed White Williams since the friend who had tickets at will call was late getting there from work, so we sat at whatever bar that is next to The Metro for a few beers untill he showed up. We walked into The Metro right as Born Ruffians started. A very young trio, I thought they were great. Sharp, punchy pop songs that rip off the weirder parts of Pixies. In fact the singer’s yelp was a little TOO similar to Frank Black’s sometimes, but I really liked them. The drummer was great, pounding aggressive rhythms over these pop songs, starting the overriding theme of the night: incredible and conspicuous drumming.

Caribou was next. I guess I didn’t realize how shoegazey they were until I saw them live. They were good, but really just didn’t do it for me. They played way too long and I was bored of them after about the 4th song. I think my biggest problem with them was the singing. If they never sang or opened their mouths, I would have liked the set a lot more… Instrumentally they were great, even if the most musically interesting moments were created by the laptop computer that overlayed their whole set with beats, noises and samples. I definitely preferred the more electronically-influenced songs. Overall, as I was watching their set, I felt like it should have been compelling, but it wasn’t, it was just boring.

Battles were up next, and holy jesus, they were great live. So Radiohead opened up their new album with a song in five; la-di-freaking-da. The rhythms and counter-rhythms and odd times signatures all collided with each other in oddly perfect unison. Every review I’ve read of Battles refers to them as mathy or otherwise references their supposed mathiness. Kids, this is just jazz in a new outfit, and it looks and feels so good. I had listened to a grand total of about two Battles songs before this show, but that didn’t make a damn bit of difference, as I was engaged, entertained and amazed by every second of their set.

Pitchfork has pictures of the show HERE, which is good, since I forgot to bring my camera.

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Rambling and Un-edited Review Modest Mouse at The Pageant Last Night

November 15, 2007

In 1998, I was in college and DJing at KCOU, my college’s radio station. At the time, I was very much into punk rock and noisy for noisy’s sake music; I hadn’t hit my pop, alt-country, electronic, or anything else phase yet. I despised the idea of “college rock” (remember when people called it that?)… I never even listened to Pavement in the 90’s because I so strongly associated them with “College Rock.” Same with Tortoise. And Modest Mouse. To me, college rock was boring. While working at the station, I avoided playing Modest Mouse like the plague – without ever having even listened to them. But then something happened; for the full story, listen to Sebadoh’s “Gimme Indie Rock.” I studied abroad, diversified my friends and generally lightened up. I got into BritPop big time (about four years too late – did I mention I refused to listen to The Bends because the video for Fake Plastic Trees so turned me off? And that that led to my willful ignoring of OK Computer? I finally discovered The Bends to be one of my favorite albums of all time right about the time of the release of Kid A). I got into electronic music. I got big into alt-country. I started listening to the CMJ music sampler CDs (this was right in the very beginning of the Napster days, when Last Flight to Jakarta was about the only blog-like website out there, so this was actually a fairly efficient way of discovering new music) and came across “The Stars are Projectors” on a CD in early- to mid- 2000. I was floored. I loved it. I immediately hit Napster or Limewire or whatever we were using back then to download as many Modest Mouse songs as I could.

In a mere two years, I had completely flipped my mind on a band I had very strong opinions on by simply, you know, listening to them. I kicked myself for previously dismissing them so casually. I finally got to see them live for the first time in 2002 on the Unlimited Sunshine Tour, with the Flaming Lips, Cake, De La Soul and Kinky. The Flaming Lips clearly owned that night, but I was so impressed by Modest Mouse, that I drove to Columbia 10 days later to see them headline at The Blue Note with The Anniversary. It was just a great show. I have followed them closely since. For the past 6 or 7 years, they are the band that I feel comfortable enough call my favorite band (behind Def Leppard, of course). I have seen a few busts of shows (their performance at the ACL Festival in 2004 was very so-so and this year’s Lollapalooza performance was OK). I do not think they can do no wrong; I regularly skip over the Tom Waits-ian middle third of Good News For People Who Love Bad News. When Johnny Marr joined the band, I was not impressed, concerned, excited or bothered. When I heard We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank earlier this year, I loved it immediately but did not see the Marr fingerprints that everyone else seemingly so easily did. It sounded exactly like I expected Modest Mouse to sound.

All of that being said, I was very excited leading up to their show at The Pageant last night, but realized when I got to the venue that I hadn’t listened to any Modest Mouse for at least a month or two before the show.

I got to The Pageant after Love As Laughter played, which is unfortunate since I have enjoyed the few songs of theirs I had heard before. Man Man was second on the bill, and they were great. The sound was a little muddy, but their energy could not be denied. I would guess about 20% of the crowd never had any intention of giving them a chance; 20% gave them a chance, but were lost at some point between the banging on pots and pans and the throwing of a fake severed head; and the remaining 60% really appreciated their performance. By the end of their set, the crowd was very loud in their support of the band.

Modest Mouse came on at about 9:50 and played for approximately one hour and forty-five minutes, but it was a show that felt like it was 45 minutes long; you wanted them to just keep playing. It was easily one of the best Modest Mouse shows I’ve seen. The band and crowd’s energy noticeably increased as the show went on. They opened with “Bury Me With It”, “Paper Thin Walls”, “Dashboard” and “Fire It Up”. Fire It Up was my least favorite song on We Were Dead… but live, I really enjoyed it. The setlist was great, pulling out relatively obscure songs like “King Rat” and “Here It Comes” and older gems like “Broke” and “Alone Down There.” The band played a great banjo-lead version of “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” that morphed into a classic, extended but tight Modest Mouse jam. “We’ve Got Everything” and “The View” were also major highlights of the set. The encore was three songs long, consisting of “King Rat” and a song I wasn’t familiar with, and ended with the brilliant “Spitting Venom,” with snippets of “I Came As A Rat” thrown in to its extended jam for good measure. Isaac seemed exceptionally chatty, even if you couldn’t understand a word he said. Despite my coolness regarding the presence of Johnny Marr, he did make a notable difference to “BukowskI,” turning a song that is normally fairly ho-hum live into something great.