Saturday, August 26, 2006

At Last! The Canadians Are Here! Wolf Parade and Frog Eyes at the Wiltern Friday August 25,2006

8 months. It's been 8 months since I missed the last Wolf Parade show. And even though I built this show up for that long, it was still as awesome as I thought it would be.

If you've never been to the Wiltern, it looks as if it was a really fancy place about 60 years ago. There's some remaining architectural details that make it look pretty fancy, but a woman's bathroom with only 3 stalls.... dude, who are we kidding??? I'm also quite miffed about the upstairs/downstairs/limited "pit" seating arrangement. I waiting too long to buy tickets, so I ended up in the "upstairs" seating arrangement, where people SAT through the rockin' performances. People, please, it's a fast paced musical show. You don't "sit". You stand and head bob, come on!!!!

Missed the first band so I couldn't tell you the name. However, out in the bar, there are tvs where you can sit and watch the performances, that was kinda cool. Second on was Frog Eyes, which I started listening to when I found out the lead singer, Carey Mercer, was part of the band Swan Lake (which included Spencer Krug from Wolf Parade and Dan Bejar- WOAH! is right!)- who are set to release their first album out on Jagjaguwar Records in November. Anyway, they jump-started their set with "The Oscillator's Hum" (which just minutes before I was telling my friend that if they played that one song, I'd be happy, and they did, so I was). The tempo was different from the recorded version; here it slowed down and sped up quite abruptly. From there the whole 45 minute or so set just took off at full steam with Mercer screaming and whispering his highs and lows with the band backing him up like kids crashing through a kitchen banging on pots and pans. Unfortunately the crowd wasn't into it that much, well, one kid in the pit was dancing all by himself, but other than that I don't think they knew what to do here. I just wanted to smack them and shout "Look, there, THAT is good music. Pay attention and stop fucking talking over the music." When Mercer did talk back to the crowd ("Could whoever keeps yelling shit please stop, I don't understand."), this small voice addressed them, a complete contrast to the roar that he let's out when singing. The last song was what finally drew the crowd in. They were able to build the song up and take the crowd along with them, and at that point I think they may have won the audience over.

When Wolf Parade came on, I think the crowd was finally just happy to SEE them. Spencer Krug, who played the keys during the entire Frog Eyes set, was not showing any signs of weariness and was practically hopping all over his larger setup. Other lead singer, Dan Boeckner, was playing this or that games with the crowd in between songs (Who would you rather be stuck with[locked in a room or something- can't remember] Les Claypool or Ani Difranco?-- I think I was just as surprised as him when they cheered on Ani. In reality, I'm sure many of these kids are too young to know who Les Claypool is). With all kidding and playing aside, the set was incredible. They played almost everything off of Apologies to the Queen Mary (maybe even all of it.) and some old stuff. Also included in the set was some new material which seemed to be taking another direction then this previous album. There was a mellow, jazz influence through some of the new songs, and Spencer even took up the guitar for a couple. Highlights were I'll Believe In Anything, which received many many cries from the audience including myself (this is my favorite tune from them, listening to it puts me in an almost transcendent state- really, it's that good, maybe it's the drums) and the last song of the encore, Dinner Bells, which they kept going on with till it seemed the point of exhaustion. I think everyone heaved a sigh when it was finished.

And now another long wait until they're back. At least the six other side projects will more than likely be touring sometime this fall.

Friday, August 25, 2006

All The Hipsters Yell FUCK YEAH! Darker My Love, The Thermals, and Giant Drag at Day 2 of the Fuck Yeah Fest, Saturday August 19, 2006

For twenty bucks you sure get a day full of entertainment. The 3rd annual Fuck Yeah Fest, located in lovely Echo Park, packs enough music, comedy, art and booze to make your head pop. They've expanded the fest into three days this year, but seeing as I only had enough money for one day, I chose day two (although bummed to have missed out on the Circle Jerks Friday night).

Due to some poor planning on my part I only was able to catch three of the bands performing at the Echo, and the comedy show down and around the corner at the Down Beat Cafe. Thankfully all were worth it.

Since this page is only about live music, I'll just say that the comedy show made me laugh so hard I was in fear of my face paralyzing. Seriously funny guys. They're all part of the "alternative" comedy scene. Which means they'll actually tell some decent jokes, or sing. Damn you singing boys, damn you. If you're at all interested, they, like everyone else in the world nowadays, have myspace pages. Check them out: Anthony, Matt, Jarrett, Jonah Ray, other Matt and some other guys who I've forgotten (not that they weren't funny, I'm just crap with names).

The first band I caught was Darker My Love, who at first glance made me question the music I had previously heard from them- I mean, really! a Giant COWBOY hat??? But my anxieties were all but forgotten after a few seconds of listening to their sounds. Echoing voices, droning guitars layered over pounding drums: a shoegazer dream. I could even go so far as to say I could pick up hints of Spaceman 3 in there. Too bad the crowd was so lackluster about the performance, but then again, it was still early evening at this point.

Next band I caught, albeit hours later, was The Thermals. This band was super-duper hyped by a friend of mine. "Holy Fuck!! You HAVE to see them!!" she proclaimed. Okay. Gave their music a listen on myspace, not bad. But to see them live was so, so much more worth it. To see a band really love to perform, to just go ape shit while they're playing cause you know they're enjoying playing it as much as you're enjoying listening to it, that just makes me appreciate them all the more. Lead singer Hutch Harris, who bears a slight resemblance to Stephen Malkmus, has this nasally screeching quality to his voice that fits in perfectly with the wild, post punk beats they throw out at you. The excitement shared between Harris and bassist Kathy Foster was in turn shared with the crowd as everyone started to jump and head bob with the music. They'll be back later this year, I'd definitely recommend that they be seen live.

Closing day 2 of the Fuck Yeah Fest was Giant Drag, a favorite on the local radio station Indie 103.1. I'll admit that I'd only heard that one song, This Isn't It, but I liked it enough to venture back into the club to watch them close the show. It's surprising how such a tremendous sound can be made with a minimal arrangement. And coming out from there is this childlike yet devilish voice. The double vision of the lead singer projected in swirling colors behind the singer was a bit much after a day of beers, but it did fit well with the crashing melodies. Oh, and they did play This Isn't It.

As a side note, the funniest moment of the night was right after Last Call was announced and I tried to make my way to the exit through the crowd of kids "dancing". The scene reminded me this show on Tribal Dance I watched on the Discovery Channel. The kids were all just flopping, but flopping to New Order.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dirty Girls and Pretty Boys... Dirty Pretty Things at the Music Box August 8, 2006

Ok. So I've come to realize that I'm not "with-it" as far as the MTV/KROQ crowd goes. I don’t have cable and I'm okay with this. But I wish I had known just how popular Dirty Pretty Things are (I would have at least learned a couple of their songs and not dwelt on the fact that I’m still sore the Libertines are no longer with us). Perhaps it would have prepared me for the crowd at the Music Box tonight which included the typical “young kids who scored some E dancers”… who are entertaining to watch, but if you come in contact with them you feel like you need a shower.

In my usual fashion I missed most of the first act, Scissors For Lefty, but the last songs made me bob a little to the music. OH, and they had keyboards, to which my friend replied he looked happy to be playing, like really happy; beaming even. I caught “Ghetto Ways” and “Momma Your Boys Will Find A Home” both surprised me by how good they were. Upbeat, dance-y tunes that combined electronic beats and wailing, staccato rock vocals. Nice.

Watching the lead singer make bird calls and strut around Jagger-like made their live act fun to watch too. However, upon listening to their recorded tracks, it does feel too “put together”… maybe they should have kept the bird calls. They’re coming back to Safari Sam’s in September and are worth checking out if you’re a hipster and want to go dance in hipster fashion.

This was the opening night of the Dirty Pretty Things’ US tour. They had just finished up their overseas (well, it overseas for me) tour where lead singer Carl Barat broke something (collarbone, or wrist.. I swear he said wrist on stage) and in true Brit boy fashion came on stage with his arm in a Union Jack sling complete with cigarette dangling from his limp hand. But injuries aside, DPTs managed to hype the crowd up to almost chaos levels and Carl even tried to play a slow bit of guitar during the encore… Awww, it’s nice to see the effort!

Now, I will reiterate the fact that this was the first time I was listening to most of this music and I can barely remember set lists when I DO know the band… but from what I can remember as my friend shouted titles out to me (so that I wasn’t completely in the dark) they played their super hit Bang Bang You’re Dead, Blood Thirsty Bastards, Dead Wood, Gin and Milk, Gentry Cove and their absolutely last song of the encore was You Fucking Love It. And no, definitively not in this order.

I was not expecting such a hyped up crowd. EVERYONE was dancing, even the old guys who looked like if they shook their head any harder their toupee was going go flying.. or their teeth. And so many punching fists in the air. I couldn’t help but shake a little… I DID have a beer I was hanging on to. Also unexpected was the volume of underwear being thrown on stage… Damn. Seriously.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

No Really.....a Glockenspiel- Bedroom Walls and Let's Go Sailing @ El Cid July 25, 2006

I don’t know why I started creating titles for these….Do you like titles? Really? Okay, I’ll keep them. So, ask yourself, “When was the last time I saw a band perform with a Glockenspiel?” For most of you it’s going to range somewhere between never and what’s a Glockenspiel??? If you feel like being an informed music lover, go listen to Bedroom Walls. They were one of two bands (technically 3 bands, but I only stayed for two) performing Tuesday night at El Cid, which should really boast their “Hardest Steps to Climb Back Up to the Street After a Couple Drinks”.

But let’s start with the opening band, Let’s Go Sailing. If you’re familiar with the LA music scene, you know this band. If you don’t, they play happy, whimsical sometimes melancholy indie pop music. It’s the type of music you can’t help but smile to when you listen to it. And that’s exactly how it was Tuesday night. Although lead singer Shana Levy had to practically fight with whoever was working the sound board at the club to stop the feedback between pauses in the songs, I tried to ignore that and focus on their pretty pretty tunes. Oh, and they rock the keyboard pretty hard too.

Bedroom Walls’ lead singer Adam Goldman works with my friend over at E! That’s how I heard of the band. Usually when your friend drags you to go see their friend’s band, well… you forget why you’ve gone and then get entirely too drunk and try to hit on the bartender. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE! Bedroom Walls plays “Romanticore”. They have a description of it on their page, but I hear it as dark love songs accompanied by a FUCKING GLOCKENSPIEL!!!!!!! If you want to amaze me, rock out with THAT instrument. Also included in their repertoire were a clarinet, sleigh bells, marshmallows, and they too rock pretty hard on the keyboards. They also boast the cutest song in the world. I wish I was more familiar with the band, cause then I’d have a title available for you to listen to. They play around here locally a lot. So I’m highly recommending you to leave your house to see them.