Monday, September 29, 2008

Equine Follies

I do declare, I suuure loove me some Band of Horses.

Our very own crusty Charlestonians recently released a video for the single "No One's Gonna Love You" off last year's Cease to Begin. The video, in which BOH refuses to give up the ghost of the Southern affectations they've been cultivating, features a splicing of concert footage and that of the band further cementing their good-timin' rep: breaking beer bottles on each other while bicycle beach cruising, breaking beer bottles on each other while surfing at Folly, breaking beer bottles on each other while sleeping, ad nauseam.

It's all very charming, especially considering the nature of the song that lead singer Ben Bridwell hesitates to play live. Because, after all, bros have feelings too.

Dudes, I wanna hang. Call me.

George's summer in live music #1: Radiohead

Surely this will pale next to Drew's immaculate effort of a few weeks past, but notwithstanding...a brief-to-hearty summation of the four concerts of import I attended over the summer months. Here we begin with a worthy kick-off:

1. Radiohead (w/Liars)
May 9th, 2008
Verizon Wireless Ampitheater
Charlotte, NC

My old 89 Cutlass did me well this summer to the tune of 16 hours (round trip) worth of concert journeying. The first 3 connected two of the more prominent southern cities to begin "CHARL"--we're talking Charleston and Charlotte. The drive was solid, gridlocked towards the end, as a fleet of Apple-stickered VWs bottlenecked all routes leading to the horribly-planned venue parking facilities. I heard the Liars bashing it out as I idled three feet away from the calloused palm of one of Charlotte's finest, allowing what seemed like several hundred thousand drivers from the other direction to funnel in before me. Finally I reached a spot and hurried across the still-clotted road to the venue.

Liars had finished by the time my ticket was scanned. I wandered around a bit, rendezvoused with my good friend Celia, and then found my seat. I sat with long-time friend and fellow HSW contributor Thomas Salley and my good buddy Matt in the back row of the covered, seated section (worst of the good seats?) We enhanced our view by standing on our plastic seats or sat on the concrete wall at our backs, for we had no one behind us whose views we might obstruct.

When the band emerged, the audience reacted predictably--a frenzy that greets only the world's largest bands. But unlike most of the world's largest acts, the boys didn't break into a jog, waving arms and cueing pyro, adjusting their head-set microphones and such. A slight nod, brief wave, instruments manned, and off we go.

The show was everything I might have expected: Superb musicianship, incredible sound, a lightshow for the ages: LEDs firing across large beams or slats that hung vertically like track blinds. The band didn't make use of the large-screens that flanked the stage, opting for their own quintet of smaller monitors, each filming a band member from some artsy angle. Thom Yorke was far more personable onstage than I'd have expected...geeky and cordial, but still confident and a much bigger presence than his 5'4" (estimating here) stature would indicate.

The Gentleman Colin Greenwood bounced cooly with every rumbly bassline (most notably his "Where I End and You Begin".) Phil Selway's drumming thundered through the night, loud and tight like John Bonham, all the while looking ever-so-much like Rob Halford. Ed O'Brien's harmonies on "Weird Fishes" eerily shimmered like the Northern Lights. Johnny Greenwood spasmed behind his Telecaster or space-instrument of choice, his sharp jaw jutting from his trademark oddball bob. Predictably, the setlist leaned heavily towards Kid A, Hail to the Thief, and In Rainbows. But there a few offerings from OK Computer (including a version of "Exit Music" that seemed to uproot the entire ampitheater until it hovered in the night), and even "Planet Telex" popped up (regrettably the only tune from The Bends to make an appearance.) Personal song highlights included concert closer "Reckoner," the always menacing "Talk Show Host," an absolutely destructive "Paranoid Android," a high-powered "Everything In It's Right Place," and--a darkhorse contender for song of the night--the clubbish "Myxomatosis" from Hail to the Thief.

The experience was a bit soured by the absolutely HELLACIOUS mass-exodus, a consequence of the aforementioned parking situation. So Thomas and I relaxed; he found his way into a game of catch with some Panthers fans while I stargazed on my hood. A good hour and a half after the final note of Reckoner, we were finally able to leave the goddamn venue.

But who could fault Radiohead for their drawing power. I'd do it nightly if it meant being privy to a performance of that calibur; but thankfully, there is only one Radiohead and they don't tour very often.

September 26, 2008: The Everybodyfields

Playing to a sparse crowd on one of the first days of fall, East Tennessee's The Everybodyfields brought their brand of thoughtful moonshiner's music to Greenville, S.C.'s Handlebar on Friday night.

Headlining the show due to tourmate Will Hoge's recent scooter accident and hospitalization, the duo of Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews, with help from their hired guns, meandered through nearly two hours of pitch-perfect autumnal melancholy. The fans, whether devotees or Hoge holdovers, were treated to an intimate, down-home performance of recent standards and new material.

Backed by a buoying rhythm section that included pedal steel, keyboards and lead guitar, Quinn and Andrews traded between acoustic guitar and electric bass, pausing to share musings on the life of a touring band in the Southeast.

Quinn, bearded and bedecked in thrift store couture, charmed with his goofy and afflicted warble, but was ultimately overshadowed by his female counterpart. Ms. Andrews, who plays with the coy manner of an Emmylou Harris or Neko Case, lets her radiant voice and songwriting compensate for any lack of showmanship. Lithe and sandy-haired, she steals the show, even during the tense moments she shares the microphone in harmony with Quinn's trembling tenor.

Playing with the earnest aplomb of a rural bar band, the band's set varied to blend the familiar and the fresh: wistful tear-jerkers, celebratory two-steps and modern mountain ballads all received equal treatment. Hitting a dynamic stride on the numbers "Aeroplane" and "Everything is Okay" from 2006's Nothing is Okay, the Everybodyfields started to deliver on the promise that Ramseur Records is banking on.

Slated to enter the studio Monday to record for their forthcoming fourth album, Quinn expressed to me over a post-show bourbon his excitement about the upcoming sessions, hinting at fertile ground for songwriting.

With former labelmates the Avett Brothers enjoying a meteoric rise toward stardom, it's not hard to imagine the Everybodyfields following their model, crafting a compelling set of folksy AM pop tunes to cultivate their own cross-section of Carolina devotees.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pinback at Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte, NC 9.25.08

Objectivity aside, Pinback is one of my favorite bands. Alot of folks complain that there is too much going on in a Pinback song. While this argument is legitimate, I've always found that the clean, sharp production of Pinback's music along with the catchy riffs and harmonies stir up an addicting elixir that will always allow exploration. So I beg that you n00bs be patient as you listen.

Thursday I took the last fumes of gas i had and drove to charlotte for the Pinback/Kylesa show at the Neighborhood Theatre in the NoDa district, North Davidson street north of downtown Charlotte. (I've never understood why artsy locales find it necessary to deconstruct their name to two-syllable turds for the sake of simplistic recollection by imbeciles) The 'hood as it shall hence be known was a great venue. I think i paid $20 for a ticket and it was delivered to my door promptly. parking was easy and cheap ($3). There were food and drinks available at the venue, prices not bad on that either, but still might want to think about pregaming if you are so inclined.

There was plenty of space to relax, a balcony type area and some additional seating with decent views, definitely an old movie theater type place. They have a pretty neat ritual where you can write your name on a scrap paper and tape it to a chair and reserve your seat. The adolescent in me longed to reserve a seat under the name "Fuk Yoo," but i refrained. Because I'm a jaded audiophile, i chose a seat near the soundboard. I poked around waiting for Kylesa to open, dug on some local music rags and nervously watched the 20' fan that circled overhead, an amazing engineering feat.

Kylesa, from Savannah, took the stage with two drummers, two guitars and bass. the guitarist was a la Dimebag Darrell while the other, of the female variety, belted some hellacious screams. I'm never sure how to feel about two drummers, but they were tight. One was playing an all-around larger kit with a slightly different setup. They didnt stray much from the same patterns. I can't judge them, they are talented musicians, but sludge ain't my style. Their set was the normal 30-40 minute opener. The crowd was supportive, the band gracious.

The set change was remarkably quick, during which i struck up a convo with a nearby stranger. the Set up was simplistic, allowing more time to ogle the visuals and musicianship.

Pinback is a band that only has two permanent members, Armistead Burwell Smith IV (aka. Zach) and Rob Crow. The band on Thursday consisted of 5 members, drums, guitar, bass, keys, and another alternating between keys/synth and guitar. Zach and Rob also took their turns on the ivory.

The band played with zest and maintained an entertaining enthusiasm throughout the show. Vocals were solid. The band did not improvise heavily on the tracks, but were true to the studio style. Pinback uses the bass guitar to guide their songs, which i prefer over bands who play in FAGBAG and other low tunings. The lead melodies of the guitar are still discernible, but the bass is the dominant character on the track. I think it is this conflict that turns off most listeners to Pinback's music. BASS CHORDS!

Some of the songs, it seemed to me some of moderate pace or the more "popular" songs were played at a faster tempo. I could never figure out why. They weren't really in a hurry to leave the stage; maybe they did it by mistake. My friend pointed out that it may have been because the drummer did not start most of the songs.

Pinback did a good job with the setlist, playing a good mix of old and new. I'm still warming up to the new album; the songs are great, but there is a lot of polished marketing behind it--album, web site and all. They did not play "Soaked," which is one of my favorite songs, but I wasn't without disappointment.

Enjoy a chance to see Pinback on tour while you can. Anyone else who saw them, I welcome your thoughts/comments.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Musical Lookalikes.

Bill Clinton:

Jason Isbell

I can't help but think that Jason Isbell, of Drive-By Truckers fame, resembles a young Bill Clinton. It helps that both are wily, bluesy Southerners.

Whiskeytown: A Creative Fictional Discography.

Rural Free Delivery is like that time in college you did day labor for beer money at a horse stable. You baled hay, shoveled shit and built fences. Each individual bottle had a kangaroo playing a different sport on it.

Faithless Street is like starting to quench your thirst with High Life at 3 in the afternoon. The temperature was 96 degrees and you ended up wasted, stumbling over to the redneck bar and making friends with a guy with a goiter.

Those Weren't the Days is like driving your brand new used car over the mountain with a road soda to meet a friend and discuss literature.

Strangers Almanac is like your girlfriend leaving you for another dude. He's really smart and writes poetry and is a total pussy.

Pneumonia is like meeting a pretty girl and impressing her with your stash of illegal fireworks.

Monday, September 22, 2008


This is probably the best song of the last five years:

Sherman Oaks - Friendstah

The song is a veritable gold mine of period specifics, right down to the cheeky post-new wave production.

I found it on Gawker sometime in fall 2003. I think I recall the band's name as 'Sherman Oaks.' I' recently re-uploaded it for sharing and decided to title the song "Friendstah." Can anybody track these dudes down?

Speaking of, has anybody actually checked Friendster since 2003?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Summer Concerts

Ahh. Summer. The sultry solstice brings a host of delights, one of the best being the opportunity to catch live music. Across the country, venues large and small, indoors and out, host a horde of bands experiencing an atavistic ritual: the summer tour.

Aging major-label dinosaurs pack their paunches into tour buses and recapture the "magic" before 20,000 margarita-drunk moms. Mid-level bands play corporate pavilions, work the fans and jockey for airplay. Indie rockers.. well.. they sleep in vans, eat mustard sandwiches and piss in water bottles.

But just like that, September comes around the corner and with a flurry of late shows, the summer concert season ends. Did you get your fill? Was Bonnaroo boring? Your Langerado lame? Warped Tour weak?

The Budweiser Summer Concert series just isn't enough. My thirst must be quenched and my palate must be sated. I need something at least as awesome as Altamont. Something worthy of Flandor, King of all Galaxies. That is why I will introduce the Totally Diese Summer Concert Series 2009. Sponsored by Z5&amCo., (This is the best alphanumeric approximation I can give, for there is no Rosetta Stone for futuristic space languages.) the largest manufacturer of planet smashers this side of the Milky Way, the Totally Diese Summer Concert Series 2009 will introduce the universe to some of the most diese musical acts that this little green planet has to offer.

Some of the highlights:

With the advent of super-esoteric new technologies to combat the heat invented by sponsor Z5&amCo., we will host a concert in Death Valley. That is a desert in California for those of you who skew toward the offensive orange side of the spectrum. It will be a total Mad Max, Snake Plissken type of affair, ramshackle and futuristic at the same time, kinda like that Tupac video where he and Dre race buggies around the dunes while hoochies holler. Musical acts are yet to be determined.

Toby Keith and Gary Allan will play a on a super-advanced mega naval destroyer in the South Indian Ocean. During the apex of Keith's set, aviators will fight in a roustabout of helicopter jousting, avoiding an impending collision by aborting their crafts and escaping into the sea, enveloped in pod-style submersible gear. Bioillumnescent pink dolphins will encircle the carrier, engaging an orgiastic sonar squeal to provide a chorus line to Allan's "She's So California." Freedom will ring into the atbrosphere like a reverse Arctic blast over the polar ice caps.

The series will culminate with a Carl Sagan tribute concert held in a 500,000 seat stadium on the dark side of the moon, featuring Iron Maiden and Van Halen. The concert will be held during the halftime of the Super Bowl, kinda like that Sega Game, Mutant League Football.

Way too diese for me to even keep typing.