Braids - Native Speaker Explosions in the Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care Bon Iver-Bon Iver M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues Jay Z/Kanye - Watch The Throne Austra - Feel It Break Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer Cults - Cults
I got into the Braids show just before they got on. The Electric Owl is a venue I've never been in. It's a very cool venue. It almost has sort of a supper club vibe to it. The stage is located at the side of the venue with a decent sized large dance floor and dining tables in the outer areas. From a live music standpoint, this place shines due to it's vibrant stage lighting and high stage. Makes me wish I was able to go to more shows. Anyways, There's really not much I need to report. The only out-of-the-ordinary thing that occurred during this show was a photographer (actually there were a lot of photographers at this show) getting too close to the lead singer and in response having her show him away. She didn't seem to upset. They played for under and hour without an encore and if you like their album as I do, you'll find that their sound translates well to a live setting. I think there may have been a new song in there, but I can't quite remember.
09.25.2011 Pearl Jam/MudHoney
I was a pretty big PJ fan in my younger years and was even a Ten Club (PJ's fan club) member for 4-5 years. Some of my friends scoff at me when I tell them that seeing PJ in 2003 is in my top ten shows of all time, but I don't care. Nowadays I've almost entirely sworn off arena sized shows (my connection with the band weakens the further away I am from the source). So my motivation isn't really that high to pay PJ's $70+ ticket. Don't get me wrong I still want to see PJ, but can't really justify paying money for it. So how do I end up going to this show without jeopardizing my principals? Answer: On a technicality, via winning tickets via CFOX. It just so happens that on the week they announced tickets, they were having an all weekend phone in thing, caller 9, etc. I haven't listened to "modern radio rock" in years so this was a particularly cruel task. So on that Saturday while running errands, I would listen to the radio and if need be, pull my car over to call the radio station every time they cued. Luckily I only had to put up with about 2 hours of radio rock. I was actually pretty excited when I won and may even have dropped an F-bomb in conversation with the radio DJ, because our "winner" conversation wasn't broadcasted.
Oh yeah, the show. The seats were out in the back of the venue, lower bowl, 10 or so rows up. View wise, they're actually not bad. Distant, but could be worse. For Mudhoney, I think I would have enjoyed their set more in a smaller setting. I found their sound, like I guess most opening bands on an arena tour, to be very boomy. On a couple of their final songs they brought out McCready and Ament.
One positive consequence of 20 years of being an active band is a very deep catalogue. Bee Girl was a song I never thought I'd ever hear live. Midway into their set PJ reminded me why I'm not longer a Ten Club member. Vedder commented on the number of people in Seattle that had come up for this show. With the house lights turned up he asked to see a show of hands who was from Seattle. I kid you not, it looked like 85% from the first 15 rows were from Seattle. What's the point of keeping membership if you could never get under row 10? (I think when I saw them in 2003 I would have been able to get at best row 17 with my membership number) . If you've ever seen PJ, you'll know what to expect, a fair mix of old material with new material scattered about. Oh yeah and it's one long show. 20 years of being a band gives you the freedom of over 2 hour sets. I think they were approaching some sort of curfew/union time limit thing because the last song, Yellow Ledbetter seemed very rushed. Not that it was bad in any way, but after listening to hundreds of PJ bootlegs, you sort of pickup on it when you hear it.
09.09.2011 Explosions in the Sky/Twin Sister
I keep getting Twin Sister and Twin Shadow mixed up. I know I downloaded one of the aforementioned on a free leech some time ago and remembered liking it. I was hoping the opening band was one the ones I've heard of. I was wrong unfortunately. It wasn't the same band. It turns out the band I've heard before was Twin Shadow and the band I found myself trying to stay awake for was Twin Sister. Yep couldn't get into them at all.
Last time I saw EITS was at the Croatian Cultural Center and They didn't exactly fill it. This time around with another album under their belt they've started to fill out and in this case sell out small theaters. To fill out their (wall of) sound, they've employed the services of Esteban Rey, who I believe was their former merch guy. On most songs he plays bass while Michael plays guitar.
Yasmin the Light is probably one of my favourite openers. It reminds me of the days when I first discovered this band. On top of the new songs, other crowd favourites played included "The Only Moment We Were Alone" and "Your Hand in Mine". The band seemed to really be enjoying themselves. You could see Munaf with a big smile on his face as he was slapping his guitar pickup to make the "boom" noise in the intro of TOMMWWA. As always the Vogue sounded awesome. Honestly they're one of my favourite bands ever and they're shows that put you in such a good mood that even when Munaf came out at the end of the show my heart still skipped a beat hoping there'd be another song even though I know better.
09.20.2011 CBC Midnight Music: New Pornographers / STARS / Midway State
This was actually a welcome surprise. CBC had this thing called "Culture Days" where they had a bunch of events celebrating the arts. Only notable thing I can remember from this even were open houses at the CBC downtown and this here program. It's called Midnight Music because it started at 10 pm here, but when broadcasted live, the east coast tv audience sees it at midnight. Anyways I get down there and it's pretty packed, mostly with people who are waiting for their friends to show up at the bars/clubs 10 blocks over. So yes a lot of disinterested people in the crowd. It's actually a pretty small space that they've taken over. About the width of a road and length wise less than a block? The whole show was pretty interesting seeing what goes on behind the scenes of TV taping.
Can't really say I'm a fan of Midway State after seeing them. I can certainly respect what they do, but I just couldn't get into them. Parts of their set reminded me of Patrick Watson.
Stars are always a crowd pleaser. I didn't enjoy their latest album as much as their previous ones, but their live shows are still decent. As with all their shows many a rose were thrown and there was lots of confetti filling the air. I'm still finding pieces of confetti days after the show.
No Neko or Dan Bejar on this show. Which is not really that unexpected as they don't usually show up on tour unless it's right after a new album release. Neko has an excuse as she doesn't really live in Vancouver (not that Newman does) but Dan Bejar doesn't. Newman playfully chided him, saying that he was probably just at home watching TV. Actually the cool thing about attending this show was the off air between acts segment. To kill time and keep the crowd from being too bored, several CBC personalities including Jian Ghomeshi and Strombo, would entertain the crowd with random banter and interviews with the bands. I don't know if he was trying to be a dick or was blissfully unaware, but Jian kept asking Newman Vancouver specific questions meant for someone who lives in Vancouver. Newman, moved from here to NY a while ago. Also, it was pretty weird seeing Mama Yama with the puppeteer visible. The puppeteer looks like Ellen Degeneres, I couldn't tell if it was a man or woman, especially since the puppeteer never broke character so we only heard the "Gilbert Gotfried" voice.
In case you're wondering each band played one song, short interview and then the next band would come on. When they went off air, each band returned for 2 more songs.
Eleanor Friedberger is one half of brother sister duo The Fiery Furnaces. The Fiery Furnaces songs are known for their elaborate time changes and garage rock sound. While waiting for a new FF album Friedberger released a solo album and is currently touring under it as the current opener for The Kills. Her solo work is more in the realm of singer songwriter, but there is some overlap. Before her show at the Commodore, she played a instore set at Zulu Records to about 30 or so people.
Missed opener, Louise Burns' set. She used to be in Lillix and is now doing the solo stuff. Completely different than Lillix. On a side note, I was once backstage at Warped Tour and overheard Lillix's manager trying to get into the backstage area. I don't know if he got in or not. Missed all of but the last song of Himilayan Bear's set. I think HB is another solo artist, but this particular last song also had 2 members of Calder's backing band joining him. Calder played for roughly an hour with a full backing band. They sounded really good and reproduced the intricacies of the album well. She played almost of the entirety of the her debut album, filling out the rest of the set with a couple of new songs. Most of the new songs were pretty mellow in nature. Between songs, Calder told the crowd that while at the crossing the border, she had misheard the border guard asking the band name and instead told them the name of their van, "baby ray". She later joked about smuggling a baby ray over the border. She ended her set with a Castor & Pollux.
I've seen other comedians in the past and most of the time I'm disappointed to find out that their sets normally consist of 40-50% material already found on the "Live CD" they're touring on. Also for whatever reason I'm usually disappointed when their sets run less than an hour. I dunno it just seems like I'm not getting my money's worth if i show up at 8 and i'm out on the street again by 10. Since he is one of my favourite comedians I figured I would check him out, even with my low expectations. Oswalt newest bit of comedic awesomeness is a book that actually has some BC content. In it he recounts in journal form, his experiences working in Surrey for a week 20 or so years ago. Anyways, his set ran about 70 min, which is pretty decent as far as standup sets go. His set was about 90% new material was very nice. I didn't think they were all home runs, but overall very entertaining and worth the money.
05.30.2011 Wolf Parade / Frog Eyes / Himilayan Bear
A few weeks before this show, the promoter's weekly email leaked out that this would be their final show, ever. Subsequent emails later had this little tidbit removed. I guess they wanted to avoid any finalities. Completely missed Himilayan Bear this time. I've never been able to get into Frog Eyes, but there were many people in the crowd who loved their set. Being local to this area (Victoria, close enough) doesn't hurt either. Now being it was their last shows, bands normally take one of two options: A. One last hurrah where they get it all out, playing all the rare songs that their fans have wanted them to play but they never do, or B. The "best" show of the current era. Wolf Parade opted for option 2. The setlist was essentially the setlist you would expect them to play in 2011. All their staples were played like 'Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts' with new songs from their current album like "What Did my Lover say?" and "Little Golden Age" to fill out the setlist. I read in an interview somewhere that the reason why some songs were not played anymore was because either they knew the audience wouldn't enjoy it, or that the band themselves wouldn't enjoy playing it and thus the audience wouldn't enjoy hearing it. Towards the end of the set Dan remarked on the unprofessionalism of the band, I thought they played as well as any other time I've seen them. I was pleasantly surprised there was a second encore. After 'Fancy Claps' finished I really couldn't think of anything else they could have encored (again) with. They ended up letting the crowd onstage while they performed a veeery loose cover of Dylan, and I guess GnR's version of, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Oh yeah officially, they haven't broken up, it's just an indefinite hiatus. I guess that's better than broke up and 5 years later reunion.
07.09.2011 Hannah Georges / Neko Case / The New Pornographers
For Vancouver's 125 birthday, The city of Vancouver threw a birthday bash at Stanley Park with 3 days worth of FREE concerts, all with local artists. I managed to go to only one of those. I loved Hannah Georges' albums and was pretty excited to see here live. For some reason I just couldn't get into her in a live setting. I dunno, it might have been the large stage thing. It just didn't seem to translate well. I think I'd enjoy seeing her more in a smaller venue like the Biltmore or even Venue. She played about 40 min and even included some new songs that she's been working on. For all the times that I've seen Neko w/ the New Pornographers, this was the first time I've seen her solo. My reaction is mixed. Liked quite a few songs, but was reminded that I really don't like the alt-country thing that much, even if Neko's the one bringing it. Well this is a first, I've seen the NP without Neko, and now I've seen them without Kathryn. Well sort of. Kathryn ended up getting on stage about 2 to 3 songs in, apparently she was at a dinner reception or something. Not surprising as the traffic getting into Stanley Park that day was ridiculous. Carl Newman also commented that Calder was getting married. Sorry folks. I don't really have much else to say other than I enjoyed it for the most part and that It was a fairly standard NP set. One you would expect to hear at a recent show. About an hour and no encore due to curfew.
07.16.2011 The Klaxxon
This one's pretty random. I was in Tofino this weekend and someone was mentioning that there was a "SKA" show by a band call The Klaxxon. My first thought was Klaxxons? and Ska?, that doesn't really make sense. Then I noticed the absence of the 'S' at the end of Klaxxon. Well turns out they're a SKA/world music band from... I can't remember, but I want to say Columbia. They were the only band that night and played 2 sets. Pretty fun stuff. There was also a lot less skanking going on that what I would have expected.
.... and that was my summer in terms of live shows. On second thought maybe I'll just turn this into a bi-yearly thing...
First update in a while. Still going to shows, just less of them...
Local opener was called "We Need Surgery". They had a dance rock sort of sound. Had a sort of preppy stage image. Only thing that struck out was that their singer was really good. I'm talking he could probably do studio work as he has a very 'mainstream rock produced' sound. A lot of people in the crowd knew of them. I did not since I'm apparently out of the loop now.
I was a little surprised that Starfucker's first song, 'Hungry Ghost' featured their singer on turntable. For some reason listening to their first album at home, I never thought a turntable would be used live, probably because it's been years since I've seen a rock-based band with turn-tablist. The show really started to take off a song later during 'Myster Cloud' when the synth leads kicked in mid song. This show was their second to last show of a lengthy tour across the states. They seemed tired but were by no means sloppy and they did bring the audience what they wanted, a sweaty dance party. Their singer reminds me of Island's Nick Diamonds, both have an affinity for face paint. I found the laser beam lighting machines they had onstage cheesy at first, but actually worked out pretty well as the night grew on. Material was a mix of old songs and new ones. To Starfucker's credit, I can't really recall many lulls in the their set, most of the crowd was dancing about the entire 70 or so min they played.
I had to describe what Esben and the Witch's sound was like to a friend who listens mainly to top 40. The music mags have settled on 'gothic' something or other but I thought it brought up to many thoughts of dumb new emo or some black metal outfit. I wanted to say "experimental" but settled on a rock band playing a soundtrack to the salem witch trials. I was a little surprised to find out that they'd been here before last year. They've had some buzz back home in Europe since, but remain pretty under the radar here, which is why their headlining show this time around was at the Waldorf Cabaret, a small venue, possibly smaller than the Media Club.
Opener was Julianna Barwick. The thing she does better than anyone in the room was vocal loops. When I say vocal, I mean like ethereal choir-y vocals. Looping, she was able to create a very lush wall of voices. She may have had a minimal synth setup as well. I quite enjoyed her set. My interest did end up waning towards the end. It's one of those things where it might be better as background music if you're going to listen to it for a long stretch of time.
Not surprisingly, and this may also be due to the limitations of the venue, Esben and the Witch played to a very dark room. My camera scoffed at this, but it fit the mood so I didn't really mind. I knew going in that EATW's percussion department was pretty limited to one cymbal and a floor tom, with each member taking turns having a go at it during certain songs. Playing the floor tom would be an understatement, they were trying to break it. I was still a little surprised to find out how much sampling was used during their live set. Not really sure how I feel about that, I kept looking back at the mixing board to see if it was being done live, still not sure. Vocally and instrumentally their live show holds up their album. I would actually say they're a better live band. Due to a curfew, they only played 45 min, though I get the feeling they're also a little worn out from a long tour, as this was the last date of their NA tour. Still their songs were full of energy when they needed to be, (they really punished that floor tom), and dark and gloomy when it wasn't, just the way the audience wanted.