adventures in live music

Recommend albums, songs, bands, etc.
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neil
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adventures in live music

Post by neil » Sun Mar 28, 2004 7:25 pm

I got to see a lot of bands this week, which usually doesn't happen. (The music scene where I am is kind of mediocre--we even envy Cleveland!--and I'm always really busy with school.) However, I got to hear some great live music, so I thought I would share.

First of all THE WRENS are FUCKING FANTASTIC! Their newest album, "The Meadowlands" is my favorite album of last year, and I got to tell the drummer this in person. It was great because although I expected him to hear this kind of thing often, he seemed genuinely moved. Aside from all that, they are just great performing live--all their songs were beautiful, and they were in perfect control. They also really understood how to please the crowd, and did a lot of creative and inventive things with their music. They even performed "Won't Get Too Far" with a melodica, which is the coolest instrument ever. Despite that they all look like dads (they've been a band for over 14 years), I've rarely seen this much love and energy on stage. And they're very funny! I had a huge smile the entire time, and after it was over it felt like it had only lasted ten minutes. I felt like I had to tell people about this, but really there was nobody to tell. So all I can do is write this...

Here are free mp3's from some of the other bands I saw:

Mates of State - Hoarding It For Home
"Contemporary classics"! It's hard to put this in a genre; they're a peppy organ-and-drums husband-and-wife team. Allmusic.com describes them as "earnest, literate, quirky, springlike, reflective, delicate, precious, and bittersweet."

Missing Pilots - I Know You Don't Mean It
Fresh faced young'ns with talent.

Palomar - Static
They're a catchy mostly-girl pop punk sort of act.

The Oranges band - Ghosts
A kind of hit-or-miss post punk band.

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Post by Kazu » Sun Mar 28, 2004 8:26 pm

Neil said "fuck". They must be pretty damn good. :wink:
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Post by Monk » Sun Mar 28, 2004 8:59 pm

Neil... I lived in Pgh throughout high school and (though I had considerably different taste in music back then) found the music scene to be an acceptable use of my disposable income.

Ever go to Pluto's or Laga or (what used to be, I guess...) the Beehive downtown? My high school garage band played around downtown occasionally, which I guess might say something about the music scene too :roll:
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Post by neil » Sun Mar 28, 2004 10:50 pm

Fucking right Kazu! Shit!

Monk, I have been... Laga is shutting down though, they're turning it into an apartment complex or something. I haven't been there since Death Cab for Cutie in November, and their next appearance there in April is rumored to be its last show, sigh.
I remember a decent venue called Graffiti that was around for a short time after I moved here.. I got to see Pavement there with some new people I just met, who would turn out to be my best friends in college; that's a nice memory. It was leveled to make a parking lot.

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Post by Monk » Mon Mar 29, 2004 6:15 am

Man... how stuff changes sometimes. I remember asking a CMU friend of mine about Three Rivers and was shocked to hear "dude, it's been gone for years." But I digress...
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Post by neil » Mon Mar 29, 2004 8:30 am

Oh yeah, the stadium? That was cool when they demolished it, though! Too bad they'd already built another multimillion dollar corporate welfare stadium nearby.

I graduated from CMU too... 8) That place has changed some as well.

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Post by Monk » Mon Mar 29, 2004 10:33 am

Yeah, my best friend from high school graduated from CMU with a computer science degree and is now making the big bucks programming in the bay area. It's a good thing I don't like money that much; otherwise I'd be jealous :P

Best Pgh show I've attended was Ben Folds Five at (I think it was) Graffiti. He's a great performer.
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Post by neil » Mon Apr 12, 2004 10:46 am

Monk wrote:Best Pgh show I've attended was Ben Folds Five at (I think it was) Graffiti. He's a great performer.
Cool.. That must have been fun. I haven't been into that band for a whlie, but "Song for the Dumped" is really fun to sing along with. Although it's kind of annoying when I can hear someone singing at a show.

So isn't anybody else partaking in some live music?

Recently I saw Pernice Brothers who are excellent live, better than on CD I think. They had borrowed the drummer from Velvet Crush and he was totally amazing. Shortly before, I saw Death Cab for Cutie. They're a good band but there were some problems--the sound was messed up, there was a little too much Transatlanticism on the set list, and there were all these stupid kiddies everywhere talking through the whole show. I'm glad they're cashing in these days--it can probably be solely attributed to being name-dropped on crappy WB shows--but the crowd was so annoying.

I'm facing a dilemma now: Sufjan Stevens is coming at the end of the month, and I was excited at first, but I've been warned about all the snooty hipsters that may be there. I don't deal well in hostile crowds. What to do...

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Post by Kean » Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:05 am

Neil wrote:So isn't anybody else partaking in some live music?
I've been dying to catch some live acts, but ye olde wallet is in quite a bind these days (especially after I blew all my money on buying replacement brushes, inks, bristol board -- I'd forgotten how expensive all that artsy stuff is).
Shortly before, I saw Death Cab for Cutie. They're a good band but there were some problems--the sound was messed up, there was a little too much Transatlanticism on the set list, and there were all these stupid kiddies everywhere talking through the whole show. I'm glad they're cashing in these days--it can probably be solely attributed to being name-dropped on crappy WB shows--but the crowd was so annoying.
This is quite an indie rock dilemma these days, isn't it? DCFC is making a name for themselves, Modest Mouse is getting more exposure to the public... it's always hard to seperate the indie snobbery (which I'm guilty of from time to time -- the "they were good before they sold out" thing) from the success of becoming a mainstream act. I say good for them, and the stupid kiddies are part of the package. Just takes some getting used to, I suppose.
I'm facing a dilemma now: Sufjan Stevens is coming at the end of the month, and I was excited at first, but I've been warned about all the snooty hipsters that may be there. I don't deal well in hostile crowds. What to do...
I'm not too big on hipster crowds either, but I say go. Show your appreciation to the man. Enjoy the music. Sing along. Have fun. Ignore the hipsters (like the stupid kiddies, but only in reverse), and you'll have such a better time.

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Post by neil » Sat Apr 17, 2004 12:59 am

Alright, I've seen yet another show: Hayden and Sarah Harmer.

Hayden is absolutely terrific live--he's up there on stage with just a guitar and a harmonica, sometimes he switches to an organ, and yet his sound is just so full it's unbelievable. He also performed songs from his new album, coming in less than a month: Elk Lake Serenade. His between-songs banter was really funny (I understand his reputation for it now), and it was really hilarious when he cracked up while attempting to do a human trumpet solo. A couple songs that I thought were awkward on CD (e.g. "Between Us To Hold") were much better live, and I am totally psyched about the new album. The only disappointment was that he was only the opening act, and didn't perform anything from Everything I Long For. Oh, and I got to talk to him at the bar too! :D He's like, a real person!

Here's a link to a video of his song "Dynamite Walls" from Skyscraper National Park.

I was unfamiliar with Sarah Harmer's music before this show. She was kind of like a bland new agey Sheryl Crow, all singing about open skies and forests and twinkling stars and stuff. She had a few nice mellow moments, but was really not impressive after Hayden, or even the Mojave 3 songs they played off a CD while she was setting up. Also, she kept making smarmy comments about Pittsburgh (she probably just fills in the name of whatever city she's playing in), and although she made a funny point about the NRA convention in our city this week, she just beat it to death. This sounds hypercritical, but she just really has bad stage presence. Maybe she's better on CD.

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Post by Kean » Sun Apr 18, 2004 11:21 am

Neil wrote:I was unfamiliar with Sarah Harmer's music before this show. She was kind of like a bland new agey Sheryl Crow, all singing about open skies and forests and twinkling stars and stuff. She had a few nice mellow moments, but was really not impressive after Hayden, or even the Mojave 3 songs they played off a CD while she was setting up.
Grrr. Don't you say that about my girl! :x

I don't really find that there are any similarities between Sarah and Sheryl Crow -- she definitely has a more downtempo bluegrass/country sound (with a few pop hooks sprinkled in here and there), and certainly her voice is much clearer and cleaner than Sheryl Crow's whiny voice. Watching Sarah Harmer play live up here has always been captivating.

I dunno. I'm just a little biased, I guess. "capsized" is one of my favourite 'lost love songs' of all time. But everyone's got different tastes, I suppose.

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Post by neil » Sun Apr 18, 2004 11:59 am

Haha, I'm sorry Kean. I was really excited about Hayden and was disappointed that he had to leave the stage for Sarah Harmer, so maybe I was overly critical of her. The Sheryl Crow comparison was very general... Harmer's more like Patty Griffin, I guess--though I'm not too familiar with either of them. She did have some nice moments, like I said--I'll have to check out "Capsized." I don't remember if she played it or not.

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Post by Kean » Mon Apr 19, 2004 12:08 am

Heh. I'm just joshin' ya. I'm fully aware that people have different tastes in music -- I'm not one to judge people's musical tastes (I mean, I got excited about the new single by Tears For Fears, fer cryin' out loud). But I will occasionally defend a musician that I love. :)

On a completely different note, is anyone going to catch the Pixies' reunion tour?

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Post by O » Mon Apr 19, 2004 1:56 pm

I almost sold a kidney to see the Pixies at Coachella, but then I remembered that EBay shut that shit down years ago.
Seriously, I have loved the Pixies since I was thirteen or fourteen. I WILL see them.
Anyone ever see David Lovering do his scientific sorcery shtick?
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Post by matthew » Mon Apr 26, 2004 12:34 pm

last friday night i saw Sufjan Stevens at Schuba's in Chicago. He was playing with Rosie Thomas (some may know her from Damien Jurardo abums) and some other guy who was so unimportant that i forget what he even looks like (he reminded me of a second rate Wolf Colonel / Jason Anderson).

the show was...well, very odd. for one thing they didnt have sets, they would just switcback and forth after about 3-4 songs....which i found very pleasing. my friend carolynn pointed out that they may have done that so no one had to sit through an entire Rosie set, which may be true.

Sufjan, was fantastic. he opened with a cover of REM's "the one i left behind" or atleast thats what i think it is called. and i am very rarely a fan of cover songs, but his ability to vocalize and his crazy mic work made the song completely worth the ten dollars. he played mainly songs off of Seven Swans and Michigan and a few new songs like "chicago". he had an amazing stage presense, and what really got me was that he was 10x better live than on the album....which i thought was impossible. just to hear the guy singing with your own ears is stunning....and conisdering he can rock out a poorly-tuned banjo just takes my tiny little heart away. probably the best part Sufjan was his explanation of the songs....and if you thought you liked Seven Swans before, just wait until you hear his tales of midwest tragedy and father's setting yards on fire. Sufjan is the quint essential dead-dad music.

so....Rosie was a good combo with Sufjan, though not as good as with Damien Jurardo. I adore rosie, and she is quite entertaining on stage. her voice is almost perfect, and her songwriting skills are beautiful. the only problem with Rosie Thomas is basically every song sounds exactly the same....so not exactly the best thing to watch live, but still very pleasent and enjoyable.

so over all the show was....one of the best i have seen in fact. sufjan stole my heart, and rosie just burried it in the ground. my only real complaint was that the three musicians didnt come together to do some songs....there were some Sufjan songs that would have been perfect for it, but alas. Rosie and the forgettable guy did 2 songs together...but it really didnt change the physical impact of the song. my friend Carolynn's complaint was that the music was a bit too religious...but then again, she had never heard any of it before. I may not be a big fan of god or religion in general, but the religious aspect of it did not put me off at all.

here is are some shameless and rediculous pictures of my girlfriend and i after the show (lazy-eye photograph of myself edited out for good reason):

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and if you enjoy Sufjan, i highly recommend Damien Jurardo, Hayden, and Palace / Palace Brothers. If you like Sufjan's earlier work ( a sun came ) then i HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend Smog, one of my personal favourite musicians.[/i]

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