A few of my favorite local bands recently played at two of indie rock's best radio stations: WOXY and KEXP. Thao and The Get Down Stay Down did a Lounge Act session at WOXY in Cincinnati. You can download the set from the WOXY web site. The songs are great and the interview is pretty funny.
While touring the West Coast last month The Jet Age performed at KEXP studios in Seattle. Here's "False Idols" off their album What Did You Do During the War, Daddy?:
Thursday, July 31, 2008
The innovations never stop here at DC Rock Club. We recently introduced the vreview, the Review-Preview, YouTubesDay and today we roll out our newest feature: The Time Machine. What's the Time Machine? It's a fancy name I give a review I've sat on for weeks because I'm: a) lazy b) attending to my wife and newborn child c) being really, really lazy or d) busy making lists like this. Our first Time Machine show features one of the best triple bills I've seen in quite some time: Frightened Rabbit, Oxford Collapse, and Peel.
I arrived at the Mohawk early expecting a sellout. Well, can it really be a sellout if the show is free. Seriously, it was a free show sponsored by Camel cigarettes. Thanks Joe! My expectations were high for good reason. It's rare I look forward to all three bands (a testament to the Mohawk which always gets the best groups). The night had a Battle Of The Bands feel to it. Some people were there to root on the locals (Peel), others came for the bristling energy of Oxford Collapse while others were there for the much hyped (by me and the rest of blogosphere) Frightened Rabbit. Let's see who prevailed...
A number of Austin bands have made a name for themselves in indie rock. Spoon, Voxtrot, Black Angels, And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, and Explosions in the Sky to name a few. But the Austin group I was most curious about was Peel. Their self titled debut is a fun, fuzzy, poppy (not poopy) album . It's only a matter of time before the rest of the country takes notice. They just released a follow up EP, August Exhaust Pipes, which can be downloaded for free. Do it. Trust me.
I was surprised the club was only half full when Peel took the stage. The band was undeterred. "Tejax" highlighted Dakota Smith's scratchy vocal delivery that has many people comparing him to Stephen Malkmus.
Side Note: don't all indie comparison eventually lead back to Pavement? We get a lot of emails from bands/promoters and I always cringe when I see another reference to Pavement. I'm tempted to reply "You're an indie band who likes Pavement? No fucking way! You should totally check out this other band - they're called the Pixies!" To Peel's credit, they aren't the ones making the comparison. Only jackasses like me do that. And back to the review...
"Exhaust Pipes" off their new EP was a pleasant ditty sandwiched between their more rocking songs. They finished strong with "Oxford" followed by "Workers, Wake Up!".
Peel didn't disappoint but the early start time (8:00 PM) worked against them. There was the dreaded gap at the front of the stage. People were hanging back which made it harder for the band to connect with the audience. The crowd was engaged but hardly energized. Had Peel played last it would've been a completely different scene. I look forward to seeing Peel in a smaller venue where they can feed off the crowd a bit more.
A few closing points on Peel:
- Drummer was a large bald and bearded guy who, with some leather chaps and vest, would make a great bear in a Gay Pride parade. Basically he looks like Sacklunch.
- I love that Peel uses the keyboards less for melodies and more for distortion and layering.
- Peel is like sex. They're both at their best when it's a little sloppy.
Overall, I give Peel a 6.3. I expect that number to go higher the next time I see them live.
When Oxford Collapse first took the stage I wasn't sure what was happening. They were billed as the headliners yet they were going on before Frightened Rabbit. I figured it was a co-headlining tour and they alternated dates. After they started I asked Mark, the general manager at the Mohawk, why they were playing first. He didn't know either. More on this later...
I shared the same disappointment as Potsy that the lead singer wasn't rocking the jean shorts. For some reason that cracked us up last year at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Before starting their set they asked the crowd to move closer to the stage. The gap didn't do Peel any favors and they wanted to avoid the same mistake. It was a good move too because from the instant they began the crowd was feeding off their energy. The bassist was especially animated. Unlike Peel's stoic bassist, Adam Rizer jumped and thrashed around like he was on fire. I focused on him to see if his playing skills matched his onstage theatrics ("all hat and no cattle" as they say here in Texas). The guy can definitely play. In fact, he was the best bassist I'd seen in a while.
The solid start got even better when they played "Lady Lawyers". It was a perfect example of their tight but loose style. The band are all on the same page with their timing, transitions, and energy but it's not a polished sound. It's a little garage rock and I mean that in the best way possible.
They had been ramping up and were ready to crush when they launch into my favorite song Oxford Collapse song, "Please Visit Your National Parks". And then the technical difficulties started. The guitar amp went out. The drummer and bassist valiantly tried to keep it going but eventually gave up. The bassist declared it their "dance re-mix". It took a while to get the sound back up on the amp and much of their momentum was lost. Once they started again they kept up their energy but seemed distracted. There were a few other sound problems that bothered the bands performance. The lead singer after one song "I fucked up so bad" and "I thought a cat ran onstage and messed with my cord" after another.
Unable to recapture the intensity of the first half of the show the energy faded towards the end. Despite the sound problems I still enjoyed the set very much. It just wasn't their best work. You gathered this by the demeanor and banter of the band. Fucking technical difficulties.
I give Oxford Collapse a 6.7.
Okay, this post is getting a bit long. I have an idea. How to make a suspect concept even worse? That's right - make it a two-parter. The next Time Machine post will cover Frightened Rabbit, my conversations with various band members, and how my night spiralled into a drunken haze.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
July 29, 2008
It's Tuesday and time to pick a clip from YouTube to ponder.
Now, I want to be clear about one thing. I don't know shit about YouTube. I'll give you two quick examples of what I mean (as if it wasn't already apparent).
First, this "YouTubesday" bit is anything but original. I'm not ripping off anyone else's idea deliberately (like a hundred other jackasses, it came to me all on my own - check out the big brain on Potsy), but there are plenty of other blogfolk who have done this same thing. But no matter, I'll march down the well beaten path.
Example two: I literally learned of this RickRolling thing just this past Thursday. I confess that it was a bikini clad woman that led me astray. But it was while I was doing research for this post. So you see? I learned something already.
I'm exceedingly good at wasting time, but rarely does it involve clicking through YouTube videos. But that's all about to change. I'm about to waste endless hours - all for my own personal entertainment/education/lack of significant other, child, or pet.
We'll start simply this week. My selection for YouTubesday is in celebration of The Who and their November 3rd concert at the Verizon Center (for which tix went on sale to the general public this past week). Rock Club is about rock, not just about the indie band scene, and I want to see The Who in concert before any more of them die. Or before I do.
Will they live up to my expectations? I'm trying to keep my expectations relatively low, but no doubt I'll have ants in my pants by November 2nd. Which reminds me... I wish this concert were a day earlier. It'd give me a good reason to wear this shirt again...
Hey, remember when Satan was big? It seems like the Lord Deceiver used to be everywhere in rock music. Now that rock has wussified to the point where we're "rocking out" to such wimpy-assed bands as Fleet Foxes, Beezlebub has moved on to other things.
I don't even think Lucifer's involved in heavy metal, anymore. Sorry, I forgot about Black Metal. But the exception proves the rule, doesn't it? The Prince of Lies used to dominate the 1980s, just like the Los Angeles Lakers. Now He's been marginalized to Scandinavia. Bummer. We could all use some blood drinking, orgies, and sacrifices these days.
I bring this up because I was reminiscing with my older sister a few weeks ago. We didn't get along so well but we did share some good times in front of the television, and one of our favorite shows was CHiPs. One classic episode we loved was "Rock Devil Rock." CHiPs always dealt with the big issues and this episode was no exception. Here's the clip:
Now, that clip is ten minutes long, and I realize most of you don't have time to watch it, so I'll summarize the best parts for you:
- 0:00 - 1:30: Intro to show with clips previewing the episode. Satanic rock star "Moloch" played by Donny Most, better known as Ralph Malph on "Happy Days." Moloch paints his face, like Kiss. Guest appearance by Elvira. Ponch and John shown enjoying their off time. At 1:09 John is shown playing volleyball on the beach while wearing a Speedo. Cool theme music. Shows today need better intro music. I could be tempted to watch "Grey's Anatomy" if it had a good theme song.
- 1:30: Moloch is playing an outdoor concert. Here's a unique twist--he drives his car behind the stage, jumps out, and starts the show. His car is a hearse with "666" painted on it. First song--"Devil Take Me". Sample lyrics: Moloch was "born to sin", and "heaven's the pits." Provocative stuff.
- 3:10: Pro- and anti-Moloch protestors trade insults while the chick CHiP and others try to keep them separate.
- 4:25: Moloch ends first song, drinks gas, breathes flame. This dude's for real.
- 4:54: Wait, Moloch just jumped in his hearse and took off. Only one song? And where's he going, anyway? Regardless of his reasons for leaving, Ponch and John have to escort him because he has a lot of enemies due to his love for Satan.
- 5:50: Moloch's shyster manager and assistant chat about Moloch, who they see as a "rising young star." The assistant looks like Sacklunch, with a tight jewfro and beard.
- 6:20: Moloch pops a cassette into the car stereo. It's the new hit song "Devil Take Me," by Moloch. I bet most bands listen to themselves when they're alone. But wait--the music stops, and an ominous voice breaks in--"MOLOCH MUST DIE..." Brakes fail, smoke fills car, Moloch panicking, etc, etc. We've all been there.
- 7:46: Ponch, after seeing the car fill with smoke and accelerate past him, with Moloch's screams trailing behind it, pulls up to Moloch's passenger window and asks, "what's the matter?" Hmmm.
- 8:48: Ponch executes a textbook pull-up-beside-an-out-of-control-vehicle-on-your- motorcycle-and-climb-in-the-vehicle-while-your-gay-partner-holds your-riderless-motorcycle-and-then-pull-the-other-driver-out-and put-him-on-your motorcycle-then- you-also get-on-the-motorcycle rescue. Shit, that was close. Added complication--Moloch's flowing tunic almost gets caught in the motorcycle gears, which could result in a Jayne Mansfield all over the interstate.
- 9:15: Car runs off the road, explodes. Dude, Moloch could have been killed.
- 9:28: Moloch exhibits signs of post traumatic stress.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Everyone loves a good list. I'm no exception so I was intrigued when I heard a site released the 50 All-time Best Bands from each state (no, they didn't forget DC). The list actually included the All-Time Best Band, the All-Time Best Solo Artist, and the Best New Band. Their ruling for DC:
All-Time Best Band: Fugazi
All-Time Best Solo Artist: Marvin Gaye
Best New Band: Orthrelm
No argument from me on the first two but who the hell is Orthrelm? Take a look:
Umm, yeah. I'm gonna have to disagree with that choice. Anyone agree with the choice? What about Fugazi as best band and Marvin as the best solo artist?
I noticed a few other interesting choices as I perused the list. The Beach Boys were selected as the best California band. I agree but Van Halen fans might have something to say about that. Minnesota had an impressive showing with The Replacements as best band (over Husker Du), and Dylan as best solo artist (sorry, Prince).
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Last night I went out to see Low Line Caller and The Winter Sounds play at Mohawk. Great show but I didn't get home until 2:00 AM. After a late show and a full day of work I'm usually pretty whipped. However, we have guests coming over for drinks tonight and I can't crash early. My brother gave me a good tip when you need some rest but are short on time. It's called The Caffeine Nap. Here's how it works (according to Brad Isaac):
"Sleep researchers at the Loughborough University in Britain did several tests on fatigued drivers to compare the effects of different methods for a driver can use to stay awake. They put the volunteers in driving simulators while they were sleepy and let them drive. Some of the tests included rolling down windows for cold exposure, blasting the radio and slapping oneself in the face to try to stay awake. But what researchers found worked the best was a Caffeine Nap.
The Caffeine Nap is simple. You drink a cup of coffee and immediately take a 15 minute nap. Researchers found coffee helps clear your system of adenosine, a chemical which makes you sleepy. So in testing, the combination of a cup of coffee with an immediate nap chaser provided the most alertness for the longest period of time. The recommendation was to nap only 15 minutes, no more or less and you must sleep immediately after the coffee."
I've tried it a few times and it works. It's like a super-charged power nap. Give it try and see for yourself.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tomorrow night is the annual Night of 1000 Cakes at Fort Reno and to celebrate they're rolling out (in my opinion) their best line-up of the summer: Statehood, Imperial China, and Tsarina.
I was recently asked to name my favorite DC band and it was a bit of a struggle. Two bands that jumped to the top of my list were Imperial China and Statehood. The bands play different styles of music, but each was influenced by DC's hardcore roots and Dischord Records. Listen for it.
The weather looks nice for tomorrow so pack up that blanket, bring a cake (or cupcakes) to share, and check out two great bands. I'm jealous I can't be there. To fill the void I'm going to two shows here in Austin. Tonight I'm off to see Low Line Caller and The Winter Sounds.
Quick programming note: The Winter Sounds will be playing the Fredericksburg All Ages show on August 22nd.
On Friday, it's family night. My wife and daughter are heading to Show Lush's house for backyard beer drinking and live music from Girl Guitar Austin. Let's hope the remnants of the Hurricane Dolly don't dampen the evening.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Yesterday Jumbo Slice sent the following e-mail to all of us: "Do you guys think it's a realistic goal for us to post something weekday? Too much work?" Responses veered from "speak English," to "I believe the word you're looking for is 'daily'", to "sit on it."
Jumbo is convinced our little blog will grow in popularity if we post more. I think that the more people know us, the more they will be repelled and never come back. Once you get a glimpse of our collective psyche, you'll scamper away, screaming:
- Johnny Rotten beats up Bloc Party guy. That "My Mercury's in Retrograde" song is torture to listen to, so I for one am in favor of physical violence in this instance. The Bloc Party guy seems like a knob anyway: here he is criticizing Jack White for not speaking up about politics. If Jack White spoke up in favor of intelligent design, would that mollify you? No, of course not--what you meant is that you would like Jack to speak up about political issues, provided that he agrees with you 100%. 9 out of 10 rock stars never made it past college, and if they did, they majored in something retard-easy like Art History or Sociology, which makes it all the more ludicrous when they believe they've discovered the best way to organize and lead a society of millions. Fucking save it for your freshman dorm.
- The Onion AV Club Goes From Strength to Strength. Here they are reporting from the Pitchfork Festival. If you recall, DC Rock Club attended this festival last year, which I documented in an award-winning short film that can be viewed here. Definitely worth a read but I was particularly amused by their take on Fleet Foxes: "the rise of indie-rock easy-listening music annoys me: easy listening, whether it's Dan Fogelberg or Midlake, is easy listening." As I said, Fleet Foxes = Music to Bake Bread To.
- Notes on Frank Costanza. I thought I knew everything there was to know about Seinfeld but this article caught me at the highway rest stop, with my pants unbuttoned, behind the grassy knoll. Did you know that an actor other than Jerry Stiller originally played Frank Costanza, and they replaced him after one episode? And what's more, they simply excised him from his one episode, Stalin-style, and inserted Jerry Stiller. And then, again in true Stalin style, they tried to throw that shit down the memory hole, but they didn't bargain on the Chinese trumping them. Go here, watch the video, and you'll see the original Frank, starting at 8:11.
- Next show for us shall be Tilly and the Wall. Jumbo reviewed their Austin show here. We were divided between this show, versus The Ting Tings, or Spiritualized. Had to go for the Saturday night show, when all was said and done. I like the new Spiritualized album but I'm thinking that show has a high potential for "trippiness," which is a synonym for "boring 20 minute noodles that make me focus on how sore my knees and back are."
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Until recently I knew little about Tilly and the Wall. I knew they had a tap dancer as part of their rhythm section and a few members had played in a band, Park Ave., with Conor Oberst. Later Tilly and the Wall was formed and was the first band signed to Oberst's label Team Love. Given that knowledge I assumed they were a gimmicky band that reached a certain stature because of nepotism. Not a very nice opinion, huh? Then one reader (Rich) emailed me after they played the Rock & Roll Hotel in March. He gave their live show two big thumbs up. A few weeks ago Jimbromski posted their new video for "Pot Kettle Black" and I thought it was pretty good. So I decided to check them out and see what these guys are all about. The Review-Preview is here to answer: Are Tilly and the Wall worth seeing at the Black Cat on July 26th?
Two bands local to Austin opened the show. First up - Ringo Deathstarr!!! Why the excessive use of exclamation points? Because these guys brought the noise rock and I loved it. Tons of distortion and heavy drums. They had the gauzy feel of The Jesus and Mary Chain combined with the loud and sloppy gutter punk of Blood on the Wall. They exuded a "we're rocking and if you don't like it you can go fuck yourself" attitude which reminded me a young Fake Accents. Needless to say I'll be keeping tabs on this band.
Belaire was next and proved a perfect opener for Tilly and the Wall. They specialize in melodic pop that's sunny and danceable. I'm not a great fan of synth pop bands in general. Years ago I attended the first show by Travis Morrison after he went solo. He was using lots of keyboards, percussions, and boy/girl vocals. Ugh. We left early. It was a bewilderingly bad performance. Thankfully he went back to a more traditional lineup which highlights his strengths. I often wondered what he was hoping to accomplish with that first post-Dismemberment Plan lineup. I found my answer on Thursday night.
Belaire's effortless vocal harmonies were backed by fun, quirky rhythms and unexpected transitions. They also added in a healthy dose of tambourine - never a bad move. The result was infectious tunes that put the crowd in a just the right mood for the headliners. After watching both Ringo Deathstarr and Beliare, it's hard not to be impressed by the vast amount of talent in Austin's indie rock community.
The marching stomps from their new single "Pot Kettle Black" poured out of the amps and announced the arrival of Tilly and the Wall. Soon after balloons and confetti were flying everywhere as the band took the stage. The ladies were adored in funky mod attire that matched their hopping dance moves. After a tap dance solo the band kicked into "Too Excited". It all made for a great first impression. It was reminiscent of an Of Montreal performance: part concert, part theater. Audience participation was highly encouraged and the crowd happily obliged.
As they progressed through their set I was reminded of The Long Blondes show we attended at the Rock & Roll Hotel in June of 2007. They put on a lively performance that we all agreed was top notch. The Long Blondes and Tilly and the Wall are what I consider radio bands. I'm unlikely to listen to one of their albums from start to finish but I'm happy when they're played on WOXY. I'll include them on a playlist but I'm no superfan. You get the idea. Nonetheless they're the type of band I enjoy seeing on a Friday or Saturday night. This show was on a Thursday night but it was the start of my three day weekend which made the show all the more fun.
They seem to have the live show down pat. After the strong start they cruised through the rest of the set. They captured the attention of the crowd right off the bat and didn't let up. The band cranked out playful pop with a relentless barrage of melodies and harmonies. It was all silly, light, and fun. Not always what I look for in live shows (this is Rock Club after all) but it was tough to deny the smiles on the people dancing along. The show only dipped in energy when they slowed the songs down. People were there to dance and bop around and were restless when the music didn't conform to their wishes. Songs such as "Pot Kettle Black", "Perfect Fit", and "Beat Control" were all winners with the crowd.
If your music tastes lean more towards pop than rock, Tilly and the Wall is the band for you. However, everyone should experience their live show at least once. Whether you'll want to see them over and over depends on your desire to dance at shows and how much you enjoy their live spectacle. For me, I'm happy leaving well enough alone. When a band is this good live they rarely match expectations the second time. We've seen it with Art Brut, The Long Blondes, and Fleet Foxes, just to name a few.
So, upon closer inspection my original opinion of Tilly and the Wall as a gimmicky band built on nepotism was off base. Their acclaim is not because of their famous friend, Mr. Oberst. They've earned their popularity with ever improving and imaginative albums and a great live show. Oh, and I was wrong about the gimmicky part too. They're original and there's a difference.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The blog is officially two today. We've posted over 100 (poorly written) reviews of bands and rock movies. We even attended some soccer matches (though the relevance of soccer to rock is still a source of debate). Here's some of my favorites from the last two years:
Favorite Show: Sleater-Kinney
Favorite Post Heading: "Abba Cadaver"
Favorite Emoticon: ))--((
Best Guest Reviewer: Stutts
Best Commenter: Lloyd
Favorite Insult from Jimbromski over Email: "You keep cursing at me like this you're gonna piss me off, you chubby little fuck" which was later followed by "fucking fudgemaking hobbit".
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The Dig w/ City Riots & The City Veins, Black Cat (Backstage) - Tuesday, July 15th ($8)
In actuality, The Dig were not the headliners of this show, and by all accounts, local band and openers The City Veins brought the largest audience to the Backstage. But for our purposes, we were at the Black Cat to see if The Dig could deliver the same high quality pop-rock that they showcase on their highly polished EP Good Luck and Games. Indeed, they could and did.
We lazily missed all but the tail end of the City Veins. And based on their excellent Nirvana cover to end their set, this was likely an error in judgment. Maybe it sounds contrived to cover Nirvana, but I've never really heard anyone do it at this level, and it worked for me. By the way, what's going on with ending a set with a cover these days? Elf Power did it the other night, the City Veins last night...
There was a solid crowd of about 50 folks for the City Veins, but when The Dig took stage the crowd was down in the 30s. The number grew during their set, but maxed out around 40. I guess folks were home watching the Allstar game. Their loss.
Like I said in my preview, I've had The Dig on my iPod shuffle for the past three months. I'm not even sure how I got those tracks on there. I'm guessing jumbo slice hooked me up. Anyhow, I was skeptical as to how this act would perform live, but they proved my skepticism to be misplaced. Unlike too many bands we see, their singing more than resembled their studio work (a good thing in this case). As the two* traded verses - back and forth - the vocals reminded me a bit of BRMC, each bringing a distinctive sound, but melding together harmoniously.
One of their first songs of the night was "Lovesick Woman," a song reminiscent of Supergrass, and the song that you either start with or end with. It's driving and straight forward r-o-c-k. I was somewhat disappointed that they didn't hold this one back til later on, but at the same time, it's a good one to bring folks into the room.
Other highlights included "Marianne" and "Any Day Now," which is the first (longer) clip of video posted. I think they sneaked in "The Last Thing" as well, which has a "Hey Jude"/ Elliott Smith vibe to its beginning, but like a number of their slower paced songs, it switches gears to provide rockus maximus by the end. I'm not as big a fan of their slower stuff, and kinda wished they just played all the more aggressive tunes throughout. The bass and keyboards are not back ground, but in your face, competing with smashing drums and classic rock guitar licks. I just thought they lost a bit of momentum when they down shifted to the slower songs.
They ended their set with a song that I was sure the Raconteurs played at 9:30 Club back in April. But maybe not. Was it yet another cover to end a set? I can't be sure. I have yet to verify the origins of this track. But I'm thinking there might be a movement. Not that I'm complaining, we at Rock Club love a good cover. But let's not over do it either. Don't spoil us. I mean, there are already too many bands that look alike (it's summer fellas, unless you're in a contest, time to lose the beards). We don't need everyone working from the same play book too. The song in question is the last one in the video clip, the one that goes something like: come on baby, let me see you one more time, I don't mean it like that, I just wanna talk to you... A bottle of nicely aged champagne to anyone who can solve this mystery.
So... The Dig - they're one to watch. Now, it would make my task a lot easier if they'd get their website working. *I can't even tell you their names because there's a dearth of info available about them online. So fellas, when you get your website back up and running, let the good folks know, would you please? It's like you're the house band for the witness protection program.
One more thing. The City Riots...they're from Australia, I think. They should stay in Australia, but my guess is that they have been forced to leave the country by its inhabitants. And we are made to suffer as a result. I have a theory that when small bands do an international tour, they're really just going on vacation. There's no other explanation for truly shitty bands doing a tour through Europe, other than they want to escape the fact that they aren't making it at home, so why not drink good wine and enjoy Amsterdam for a few days (I hear the Tulips are wonderful). Anyhow, I was turned off by City Riots' flock of seagulls guitarist, and the lead singer's arena rock stage presence was too big for the Backstage. I couldn't leave fast enough.
The last Fort Reno festival date is August 14 and the festival website reads "TBD" for the lineup on that date. I believe they do this every year, leading to speculation as to which A-list band will appear. The popular guess is usually Fugazi, which never materializes.
I saw on Stereogum a few weeks ago that Shudder to Think have reunited, so I'll throw that guess into the ring. Has anyone started this rumor yet? Because I'd like to take credit for it. I saw STT at the old Black Cat sometime in the 1990s and didn't much care for it. Too much falsetto for my liking, plus I can't respect a guy who shaves designs into his facial hair.
In other news, Jack White is starting to look like a frumpy middle-aged woman. I went to the Leesburg Outlets last weekend and I'm pretty sure I saw that jacket at Chico's, half off. No, wait, maybe it was Dress Barn. No, scratch that, it was Lane Bryant. I'm 90% certain it was Lane Bryant.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
To be clear, I'm not referring to the xenoarchaeology video game "The Dig," from the mid 90s nor any other ology or video game. Nor am I referring to the excellent rockumentary, "Dig!," that featured the Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Furthermore, I am not referring to Rochester, NY's "the Dig Project," and certainly not California's 90s alt rockers "Dig." I am referring, instead, to NYC's "The Dig."
Confused? Well, The Dig haven't made it easy on themselves by choosing this name, nor by directing folks to a nonexistent website, but what they have done is record a nifty rock-pop EP, Good Luck and Games that you can listen to on their very existent MySpace page.
I've had this EP on my iPod shuffle for the past 3 months, and since my laptop was stolen, didn't even know who I was listening to all the while. Turns out, it's been the elusive The Dig. And all this time, I've been enjoying their tunes. I recommend having a listen.
We'll check out The Dig w/ City Riots & The City Veins at the Black Cat on Tuesday, July 15th ($8 Backstage). If their live performance comes close to their studio work, this promises to be a solid show and your chance to see this heretofore obscure unsigned band. Here's another opinion....
Friday, July 11, 2008
Elf Power w/ Ham1 - Thursday, July 10, 2008 - RnR Hotel $10
As previously described, I have a random connection to the band Elf Power. I went to college with guitarist/keyboardist, Jimmy Hughes' sister, and spent more than one drunken night discussing music with him in the basement of 12 St. John, Binghamton, NY. And yes, I was expecting a different reaction than what I got when I gave the band the heads up about this coming post. But so be it.
Let's jump right in and dispense with the foreplay shall we? sacklunch and I arrived to the RnRH on the early side. It was an odd beginning to the night, as it was still daylight out when we got there. There was a bar crawl happening on H Street, and there was a slew of motorcycles parked in front of PUG across the street. Adding to that, it was "Drunken Jenga Night" upstairs at RnRH, and it transformed the place. I felt like I was at a UVA fraternity party with a good number of young republicans with white dress shirts and pastel ties, pretty young ladies in summer dresses, and a lot of orders for PBR. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it either. It's just a bit of a mismatch for this club. Downstairs, sacklunch counted 8 people in attendance. I went down to check out opening act Ham1. The first song I caught, one dude was playing the trombone. That's cool. I like the trombone. Here's the next song after that:
If your computer has no sound, or you are otherwise unable to distinguish things that sound good from things that don't sound good, just know that I didn't stay for more of Ham1. I'll wait for Ham2.0* before I consider another listen.
After a few more drinks upstairs, and witnessing a gruesome rendition of Happy Birthday from the Jenga-players, sacklunch, Jimbromski and I dropped in on Elf Power, already in progress. Now, again, I was only aware of this band because my Tivo allowed me 30 free days of Rhapsody, and I heard these guys a couple time while listening to the "low-fi" channel. I liked them, but didn't explore much further. As it happens, they are an Athens band that have been around since 1994, and have had collaborations with artists from other bands like Of Montreal, and Neutral Milk Hotel (good company), and have toured with Wilco and fellow Athenians, R.E.M.
They put on a good set, and I especially liked Josh Lott's drumming. At least in their live performance, the drums took up a lot of real estate within their sound, well suited to the aggressive tracks they played. Don't ask me to name any of them. As you'd expect from a band that has been at this a while, they performed well and they were -uh- tight. Here's a peak:
After finishing their first set, Andrew Rieger and company returned to the stage for a surprising "Elfcore,*" in which they proceeded to play two songs, ending with a cover of T. Rex's "20th Century Boy." We've already noted in previous posts how much we appreciate a good cover, but a cover as your final song...interesting approach.
Here's the thing about this band: they remind me of the 1990s (the decade, not the band), which isn't bad - I liked the 1990s as that time will probably be the closest I ever get to an era like the Roaring 20s; their sound does remind me a bit of R.E.M., though I don't like making this comparison - I think I'd connect the two bands regardless of their shared roots because they sound alike in my ear; and while I enjoyed their set and can see how they would do well in serious college towns, as their final song reminds me, this is 20th Century band. They do what they do well, but it's not a new sound (or even an old/nostalgic sound). It's just a sound that I've heard enough of recently, to the point where I don't really want to make any more room for it in my life.
It's not you, Elf Power, it's me.
*Inspired by or taken wholly from the mouth of Jimbromski.
P.S. A nod to the uber-young geek rockers at the front of the stage (visible on the two video clips). They were great. One with the Art Garfunkel hair-do, the other with the Velma Dinkley glasses. Jinkies, it's refreshing to see two folks so utterly un-self-conscious.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
As everyone can see, we're all back from our various work trips and vacations and we're attending shows and reviewing shows and talking about shows again.
I miss the old days when we could just post about anything we wanted to. Now I actually have to leave my house and go listen to music. Fuck.
Tonight we are off to the Rock and Roll Hotel to see Elf Power. These guys are part of the famous Elephant Six Collective. Not a "label" or "group", a "collective." "Collective" makes me think of starving Ukrainian peasants struggling to hide wheat from Stalin, or else of some hippie walking around not wearing pants.
Potsy knows a member of this band. He sent them this e-mail:
I'm looking forward to your upcoming show at the RnR Hotel Thursday. I'm not very familiar with your catalog, but heard a few tunes via Rhapsody, and was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar face when I did a little digging on yer website. I know Jimmy Hughes from his "Wookie," the Q is silent days (and went to college with his sister). My friends and I have a local music blog dcrockclub.com and will be putting up a review of your Thurs show...Isn't that nice? We have a connection. Here's the response from the band:
cool...see ya in a few days then...andrewWhoa, man. Don't hurt your hand typing all those words, Shakespeare! Personally I would have fobbed off the job of responding to fan mail to my publicist.
By the way, that response has all the hallmarks of being typed out on a cell phone. Potsy is putting on a don't-give-a-fuck facade, but it's just that, a facade. I know he hurts inside, just like all of us. Buy him a drink tonight if you see him.
On an unrelated note, people often complain that no one dances at shows in DC. I used to but now I don't. Here's a video of me dancing, watch it and you'll understand why I stopped:
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
After a few failed attempts I finally got to see The Jet Age. Rock Club was twice scheduled to see them only to change our minds at the last minute. The first time it was in favor of The Rosebuds. Then we were supposed to see them play with Wussy at The Red & The Black but a scheduling conflict came up. After finally seeing them down here in Austin, I wish I had caught some shows while I lived in DC.
Back in 2003, I discovered the Hurricane Lamps, the precursor to The Jet Age. They had a number of catchy tunes but "Reckless" off their Sing Me A Song album was my favorite. It was always allotted a slot on my cheesy little MP3 player. That's high praise considering the piece of shit only held about 6 songs. The Jet Age has continued where the Hurricane Lamps left off - creating great power-punk. They've taken on new challenges too. Their latest album, What Did You Do During The War, Daddy? is a concept album about "the story of a husband and father who becomes so disillusioned with the state of America that he joins an underground movement and becomes a suicide bomber." Seriously. And the best part - it works. You have to give them credit for their daring.
As they started into their first song, one adjective came to mind - Power (must...resist...power bottom joke...). These guys play some seriously potent rock. They're a power trio in a time when it seems every new indie band has 10 members (this strikes me as an odd trend). After a few songs they played their new record from start to finish. Over the past few years I've seen roughly 200-250 bands and this was the first time I've seen a band do this. I tend to listen to whole albums rather than singles or a playlists so I thought it was a cool idea. Plus, it's a concept album (rock opera? nah...) so it made sense.
The Jet Age are a tight, well polished unit (umm, that sounds a little ghey) but they're also skilled individually. During the set each guy took his turn displaying his musical talents. Not exactly solos but close. I have to pay special recognition to Pete the drummer though. The guy is fucking unreal. He's now one of my favorite DC drummers along with Joe Easley of Statehood.
After playing the entirety of their new album the crowd convinced them to play one final song. They closed with the burner, "Please Come Home Now" off their Breathless album. It was a great closing to an impressive set.
Okay, so that's the good. What didn't work with their set?
First, they didn't draw as well as I had expect considering the positive press they received leading up to the show. It's tough to fault the band though. It was 4th of July weekend and most people headed for the beach. Also, Mohawk just started booking bands to play the inside stage after they shut down the outdoor stage. It's a great idea but word hasn't spread yet. In fact, I think The Jet Age were their first late night show. It's always a bitch to be the guinea pig. Another minor flaw was that Eric really had to work to get his vocals to match the force of the music (or maybe it was just the sound). Of course, considering the muscle of the band it'd take the pipes of Beth Ditto to keep up.
Okay, let's wrap this fucker up. Here's what I like about The Jet Age (well, besides their music). And I hope the band doesn't take this the wrong way but here goes. The Jet Age is probably not going to be the next indie rock sensations. You won't see them being hailed by the kids with skinny jeans and sideways haircuts. They aren't the next Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes, [Insert Buzz Band Name Here]. They've been around for a bit and gained valuable experience along the way. They're not unlike us here at Rock Club - mid-30s, steady careers, questionable hygiene, etc. I could be wrong but I don't get the feeling they're banking it all on being rock stars. They're out there because they have a passion for making great indie music (and unlike some buzz bands they can actually write good songs). You have to respect their passion. It's that DIY attitude that DC's best music was founded on. I hope more people take notice of The Jet Age. In my book they're DC's most underrated band.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
They ended with "Blue Ridge Mountains" which I think is one of the standout tracks from their debut LP. Peckhold did come back out for a solo encore which he played quite well (I can't remember the song though...) and seemed to have had enough. Although it was a relatively short set, I think they managed fairly well, though the show wasn't without its problems. I thought the drums were a bit too over-miked (not sure if that is a word?) and I thought the vocals were lost in the mix at times. A decent night out, slightly disappointing at times, very good at others and the Fleet Foxes get a solid 6.8 rating from Sacklunch for this show.
Other points of interest/musings:
1. Again, even though this has already been covered, why the fuck are you wearing a wool cap in the middle of July? I have a theory that the reason this dude is sick all the time is because of the cap. The space between the top of the cap and his grimy, hippie hair forms an incubator or petri dish for disease caring germs and bacteria, thus the constant illness. Another theory is that the bacteria found in their sound engineers beard could also migrate and cause illness (this dude had full-on ZZ Top style beard growth)
2. I think the band made some comment about being sick and "conning" show goers at their last couple of appearances. Some jackass in the crowd yells out "THAT NEVER HAPPENS IN DC!" (in regards to the conning, ... get it?). Dude, keep the political comedy to yourself. It was completely unfunny, however it did get a chuckle out of a few audience members. We all know how unhip DC is already, why make it worse by yelling out some lame comment. Douchebag.
3. As I finish up this review, I just got email from Jimbromski with his $.02 on the show. To paraphrase: "This is music to bake bread to..", "that shit's not rock", and "fuck these guys". While I agree that it is not "rock", I did enjoy the show (and you did too, last time we saw them...). Sometimes I am in the mood for this kind of show (last night I was), other times I am not (i.e. Gob Iron). It was a Monday night and I was feeling melancholy, so I didn't mind the folkiness of the show (apparently Jimbromski did). To each his own.
Friday, July 04, 2008
I've really been looking forward to the holiday weekend. Relaxing by the pool, cooking out, and watching the fireworks is great. It's not what I'm most excited about though. DC's own The Jet Age is coming to Austin on Saturday night to play at my favorite venue, Mohawk.
Earlier this year they released the stellar What Did You Do During The War, Daddy?, a follow up to the equally impressive Breathless. Both albums garnered very favorable reviews and I'm anxious to see if their live show matches their studio skills.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
We're breaking new ground here at DC Rock Club. Last week saw our first vreview (pronounced vruh-view) and now we're introducing the Review-Preview. What's that you ask? Let me explain.
Now that I live in Austin I'm able to catch bands before they play Washington (or vice-versa). It's a way for our DC audience to know what to expect when the band(s) roll into town. We could have done this last week had I actually posted my review of The Oxford Collapse and Frightened Rabbit on time. Oh well. It left the door open for The Dutchess and The Duke and Fleet Foxes to take the honors.
I knew a little about The Dutchess and The Duke going into the show. A certain "Guru" posted a song on his July Mixtape. I knew they were signed to Hardly Art, a well respected label that's also home to DC's own Le Loup (that's French for "The Loop"). Upon seeing the heavy set (husky?) bearded guy paired with an attractive girl I immediately thought of Georgie James. They might look similar but there are big differences. As the set progressed I couldn't help but feel this is the musical chemistry Georgie James set out to achieve. For one reason or another they fell short on their last album. Also joining them onstage was a percussionist, playing tambourine, maracas, and bass drum. He reminded me of Joel from the The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Joel was my favorite part of the excellent documentary Dig. If you haven't seen it, add it to your Netflix queue (is that just a British word or can Americans say that as well?).
Initially I felt a strong 60's folk vibe from the duo. Not quite what you would've heard at the Newport Folk Festival though. Pete Seeger wouldn't have liked the electric guitars. Thinking of the typical folky boy/girl band probably conjures up images of the couple from the movie "Once". The Dutchess and The Duke are not The Swell Season. When they played "Reservoir Park" it showed a rawness and grit you don't see from typical folk duos. Hold on, time for a tangent...
I know we've bitched about this numerous times but if you're going to talk while people are playing either go inside or move to the back. If you're hanging towards the front to save a spot for Fleet Foxes then have the courtesy to Shut. The. Fuck. Up. I had to get that off my chest. Back to the review...
The Dutchess & The Duke have a simple but effective formula - guy, girl, two electric guitars and a funny looking tambourine man. I could be wrong but it seems the Velvet Underground is a major influence. The boy/girl combo singing was reminiscent of Nico and Lou Reed (especially on "The Prisoner" and "Back To Me"). The guitar work along with the single bass drum played with mallets (a la Maureen Tucker) also gave them a Velvet Underground feel. Another song, "Mary", reminded me a little of "Heroin". It lacked the slow build to a crescendo but it was relentless in it's driving repetition (in a good way). Each time he punctuated the line "And you..." it conveyed a bitterness, determination and hint of regret. All the things I feel after doing lots of smack.
What I liked best about The Dutchess & The Duke was they weren't a folk-rock group. They have an edge that sets them apart from the average folk duo. It wasn't folk-rock. It was folk-garage-rock which is much more fun to experience live. It might not be everyone's cup of tea and that's okay. If you like your folk on the lighter side, just head down to your local coffee shop or Potbelly (to paraphrase Jimbromski).
Rock Club Rating: 7.1
We first saw Fleet Foxes in the intimate setting of the Black Cat's Backstage. I knew seeing them in a mid-sized outdoor venue wouldn't be quite the same experience. Fortunately, the sound was great and it did the music and singing justice. They started the show with the lush harmonies of "Sun Giant". Definitely one of the coolest openers I've ever seen. The place was packed and once they started singing the crowd fell silent. Everyone was honed in on the band. Too bad an ambulance had to go by and disrupt the serenity of the moment.
The entire band is incredibly talented and their singing deservedly gets a lot of praise. But I was particularly impressed with their drummer. He's the least prominent guy but every beat and symbol crash was spot on (that's definitely a British only saying). Another highlight was the solo performance of "Oliver James". After he finished the lead singer explained why he was wearing long sleeves when it was about 90 degrees outside: he preferred to hide his "flabby" arms. Fine, but how do you explain the wool cap? That made even less sense than the long sleeves. I thought only Colin Farrell wore wool caps during the summer.
After the riveting shirt banter the lead singer mentioned a local Guatemalan restaurant and how much he loves it. His comments made me realize something. Mentioning a local bar, restaurant, or favorite tourist spot is the indie version of "Hello Cleveland!!". Potsy pointed out the Oxford Collapse referred to Ben's Chili Bowl in DC. At their Austin show they talked about their dip in Barton Springs. I guess this is meant to show the fans how much they love visiting their town? Who knows. Have you noticed other bands doing this? Maybe I'm just imagining the pandering...
"Ragged Wood" was warmly received as was "White Winter Hymnal". I thought the latter would have been a perfect closer but they opted for "Blue Ridge Mountains" followed by "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" as their one encore tune. Now, I may make fun of the wool cap and the talk of local hot spots but Fleet Foxes are an amazing band. Their music is not typically what I enjoy. I'll opt for rhythm or distortion over melody and harmonies any day. Fleet Foxes won me over because they produce a symphony of sound unmatched by others bands playing today. As the response from huge crowd last night confirmed - there's good reason for all the hype.
Rock Club Rating: 7.8
Thus concludes the Review portion of the post. For the Preview portion I'll simply offer a list of suggestions:
1. Go to this show. If you miss it you'll regret it as others talk about how good it was.
2. Get your tickets now!! They've sold out every stop on the tour thus far.
3. Arrive early to check out The Dutchess and The Duke.
4. See my earlier comments about talking during the show. Please.
5. Always drink plenty of fluids. That's just sound advice for anytime of the year.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Frightened Rabbit w/ Oxford Collapse and Takka Takka
Black Cat (Backstage)
Monday, June 30th - $10
I can finally - honestly - tell Jimbromski that he missed out on an excellent show. Usually, I am the one who misses out. Succumbing to an earache, Jimbromski had to bail out of last evening's performance. Tsk tsk. It was indeed above average. Although my ears were aching for hours post-show, so maybe it's best he stayed home. Through a steady rain, sacklunch and I made our way to the sold out Black Cat and arrived just in time for the start of the Oxford Collapse set. Sorry Takka Takka.
The backstage was sold out, but I'm not so sure about the main stage... Harry and the Potters headlined upstairs. sacklunch and I checked out the Youtube video the Black Cat had posted for the Harry and the Potters, and I can't see why anyone would go upstairs to see those clowns, unless they got duped into thinking Frightened Rabbit was up there. Seriously. I'm anxious to hear how that show was. Well, that's an overstatement, I don't really care how it was upstairs, I imagine it was shitsandwich.
There was a bit of confusion about last night's show as the website had previously listed Oxford Collapse as the headliner, and that's what it says on my ticket (and how we posted it on our "upcoming shows" list). But the website changed course at some point, and Frightened Rabbit clawed their way to the top and that's how it eventually went down. My favorite blonde-haired Black Cat-lady, Lauren, speculated that perhaps they were co-headlining this tour and they switched last minute. I'm sure someone who has more patience for research will look it up somewhere and confirm or deny this theory.
I had no trouble unloading Jimbromski's ticket, though I should have lied and just pocketed the extra $10, but that'd be bad karma. Anyhow, Oxford Collapse was in-progress when we arrived, and it was a packed Back Stage, so I stood behind the pole. It was like being at the old Nightclub 9:30.
Oxford Collapse were good. I don't know a lot about them, other than what I saw at the Pitchfork festival last summer, but for the most part, I dug what they were putting out. Hey, Jumbo Slice, Malitz was standing in front of me for the OC set, and we traded brief reactions at the end. Both positive. I could have used your loquacity, as all I could offer was that their sound was clumsy at times, but in a good way. Malitz liked that they were ugly, at least uglier than many indie rock bands right now. I have to admit, they look like they put on some weight since Pitchfork... I noticed they weren't rocking the jeanshorts this time, though it was just as fucking hot in the BC as it was in Chicago last July. But while they have a clumsy rock sound, they aren't sloppy by accident. I'm not a OC superfan, so I don't know which song this was, but they have one tune in which all three musicians play in complete discord for ~45 seconds, but stop on a dime. So they were tight when it mattered. Right.
Anyway... The Oxford Collapse talked a bit too much. At one point they broke into a story about eating at Ben's Chili Bowl earlier in the day. "Bill Cosby is the only person who eats for free at Ben's. I read it on a sign there." That's what I learned from the Oxford Collapse. Hey Oxford Collapse, while, yes, I admit that I did not know that little factoid, it's still really fucking rude to waltz into someone else's town waving your Cliff Clavin knowledge all around like you own the place. Save that story for your myspace page. Other than that, solid effort from OC.
As for Frightened Rabbit, I tried to know as little as possible about seeing this band as I could. Here are a few short things I jotted down about them last night:
- lots of wailing
- guitarist/keyboardist looked like he hadn't slept....ever
- they claimed last night was the best night of their collective lives...
- Who was on top of the bill when you saw them?
- Did they also claim that their gig in Austin was the best night of their lives? (If so, I want to out them for disingenuousness).
By the end of the night, I had bought their cd, which I rarely do at these shows. I listened to it when I got home (and as I typed up most of the above). It doesn't really capture what they can do through their live performance. Their live show was inspired and they worked hard. The energy they give out is great. Again the capacity crowd really helped out, but I've never seen intensity like that of drummer Grant Hutchinson. A quote from him in an online interview says it all:
GRANT: People who have seen us several times say it’s almost like the first time we’ve played together, or the first time they’ve seen us. A lot of bands don’t understand it’s their job to makes things exciting. Some people miss that point.
Well said. It's your job man. I paid a whopping $10 and I expect to see you bashing the sticks down like you're Johnny Drama killing VC with the end of his rifle in Platoon.
Oh, I should also mention that Scott Hutchinson claimed that a "Frogman tried to rape me" in the stairwell of the BC. I believe this is the same Frogman from Turkey Balls Fall, WV. He's closing in...