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Archive for the ‘Beck’ Category

[ATTENDED: December 12, 2019] Strand of Oaks

In 2016, Timothy Showalter played his second Strand of Oaks Winter Classic at Boot and Saddle.  I got a ticket for the third night, not really knowing what to expect.

It turned out to be a fantastic night of music and togetherness.

I missed the next year but went last year to Winter Classic IV.  Which was also great.

There was no way I was going miss Winter Classic V.  This year I went for the first night of the three.

The other two shows had opening acts announced, but there was none announced for my night.

I didn’t think we’d get an extra long show (Tim doesn’t do extra long shows).  Instead we got a cool improv by his partner for the night, Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 27, 2019] Mac Sabbath

When I saw that Okilly Dokilly was opening for Mac Sabbath I had to check out who this band was.  They’ve been around for a few years and this was their “American Cheese Tour” (that’s a good one).

And so basically, they are a Black Sabbath cover band, but all of their lyrics are about McDonald’s and the fast food industry in general.  So that’s pretty funny.  But that’s not all.  They have taken this concept to an absurd length.   Each band member is costumed or wears makeup.  And the costumes are phenomenal–not cheap little handmade things, but remarkably detailed and well constructed heads and bodies.  The attention to detail is really impressive.

The band members are also completely anonymous, which is also pretty funny.   And that is why they have such great band names:

The lead singer is Ronald Osbourne.
The guitarist is Slayer MacCheeze
The bassist is Grimalice (the least impressive name, it’s Grimace with an Alice in Wonderland hat on, but his other name is brilliant: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butler.”)
On drums is Catburglar or Criss Cut Fries (he is dressed like the Hamburglar with Peter Criss Makeup).

I didn’t really think too much about the music before the show, I just wanted to see the stage show. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 28, 2014] Beck

It was five years ago that S. and I saw Beck live.

For that show, I went in with lowered expectations.  I thought the show was going to be a lot of Morning Phase, a mellow album he had just released, but it turned out to be a ton of fun.  S. remembers it as one of her favorite concerts ever.  So when I saw that he was touring and coming to Holmdel, I was excited to get tickets.

Then I saw how much they were.  Tickets were over $100 for most normal seats and the front section was well over $100.  So there was no way I was getting tickets for that.  Then I remembered the awesome feature at PNC Bank Arts Center.  If there are seats available before the show you can upgrade a lawn seat for $20.  So we bought $30 lawn seats and then a few days before the show, we took advantage of the upgrade and for $20 more, we were moved to Row N!

And Row N is a great vantage point.

Needless to say, our expectations were pretty high for this.  And Beck did not disappoint.  Well, maybe a little. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 20, 2019] Cage the Elephant

I was rather surprised that Cage the Elephant were co-headlining this tour with Beck.  I assumed that Beck was the clear headliner–and yet the (younger) crowd seemed to be there more for Cage.  I also didn’t realize that they had collaborated recently on the song that this tour was named after).

But the biggest confusion for me was that I didn’t know who Cage the Elephant were.  They were part of that trend of bands that had three words with The in the middle. Like Pedro the Lion, Jukebox the Ghost, Minus the Bear and Young the Giant.  I assumed that I had no idea who Cage the Elephant were or what hey even sounded like.

But then I was surprised to discover that I really liked two of their songs but had no idea it was them: “Ready  to Let Go” and “Mess Around.”  After figuring that out, I was looking forward to them but really had no idea what to expect.

Well, they went on about ten minutes late (which was annoying, since they’d had 30 minutes to get ready).

Their stage set up was like bleachers–a guitar drum and keyboards on the top and a guitar vocals and bass on the floor.  Then the lights went down and the stage burst into flames! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 6, 2018] Spoon

I couldn’t believe that Spoon was the second band on this bill.  I had seen Spoon last year at the TLA in Philly and they played a huge set and the fanbase was rabid.  It was weird to see them in the setting sun (Britt Daniel came out and acted like he was a vampire when he saw the bright sun).

The crowd had filled in somewhat between Sunflower Bean and Spoon, but they were still going on at 6:45–not an ideal concert time, to be sure.

Regardless, the folks who were there were there for Spoon and they reacted appropriately. There was lots of dancing and singing along.  And Daniel either saw people he recognized or just acted like it because he was engaging and a lot of fun.

A few days before this tour started, it was announced that bassist Rob Pope was leaving the band [he’s going to spend more time with his other band The Get Up Kids].  It seemed liked terrible timing, but I gather they had his replacement Ben Trokan all lined up because they didn’t miss any dates on the tour and Trokan was great when I saw them.

Britt Daniel was dressed in a shirt and jacket (again, it was very hot, what’s up with these singers?).  He immediately started interacting with the crowd, climbing on his monitors and putting a foot on the fence that kept the crowd from the stage.  Like last time, they opened with “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” and everyone sounded fantastic.  Daniel’s voice was in great form and his guitar playing (when he played) was right on.

Since the previous show was nearly two hours and this one was barely 40 minutes, I assumed we’d get the truncated version of the previous set list.  But it seems that Spoon likes to mix things up a bit from night to night.  So up next was “The Way We Get By” which I didn’t hear last time (nice!).  They followed that with another favorite of mine, “My Mathematical Mind.”

They played the new song, “No Bullets Spent” which fit in perfectly with the rest of their set.  Then everyone went crazy when they started the rumbling guitar for “The Underdog”.  There were no horns like on the record, but the keys and piano were a great substitute.

I love watching drummer Jim Eno.  He seems to be having so much fun out there.  He definitely feeds off of Daniel’s energy–there were a couple of times when Daniel slashed his guitar through the air and Eno accented that with some drum hits.  During “The Underdog” he was playing the maracas and when he was done he hurled it across the stage to the roadie–who caught it!

The slow piano intro that started the next song sounded familiar, but I wasn’t sure if I knew it.  It turned out to be a cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation.”  It sure sounded like a Beatles song when they were playing it, but they put a nifty Spoon spin on it.

On the left side of the stage was Gerardo Larios and Alex Fischel both on keys and guitars.  Larios was standing in the back playing mostly keys but the occasional guitar.  I enjoyed watching Larios play the harp-like keyboard sounds during “Inside Out.

Alex Fischel is a rocking lunatic on his side of the stage.  Mostly he’s bouncing and pouncing on his own keyboards and effects arrays but every once in awhile he would strap on a guitar and come out to the center of the stage for a minute, playing some noisy angular guitars like in “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” (a song I can’t believe they didn’t play last time and which I was super exited to hear tonight).

I knew that Trokan would fit in fine with Spoon once he played the throbbing bass of “I Turn My Camera On” which sounded perfect.

They ended the set with a rocking “Don’t You Evah” and  hen followed it with two songs from They Want My Soul, “Do You” and “Rent I Pay.”  Las time, they ended the TLA show with “Rent I Pay” as well.  So the first and last songs were the same, but much of everything else was different.

The sun started to set on them before their set ended, and that seemed to make their set a bit more fun.

Spoon were very loud though and I should have put in ear plugs.  But since they only played for 40 minutes, it wasn’t too much over-exposure for me.

All in all a great set and a good introduction to Spoon for S. who didn’t really know them.

 

2019 PNC 2018 TLA
Do I Have to Talk You Into It [Hot] Do I Have to Talk You Into It [Hot]
The Way We Get By [Moon] I Turn My Camera On [Gimme]
My Mathematical Mind [Gimme] Lowdown (Wire cover)
No Bullets Spent [Hits] The Fitted Shirt [Girls]
The Underdog [Ga] Don’t You Evah [Ga]
Isolation (John Lennon cover) Do You [Soul]
Inside Out [Soul] Via Kannela [interlude]
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb [Ga] I Ain’t the One [Hot]
I Turn My Camera On [Gimme] Everything Hits at Once [Girls]
Don’t You Evah [Ga] Can I Sit Next to You [Hot]
Do You [Soul] My Mathematical Mind [Gimme]
Rent I Pay [Soul] Don’t Make Me a Target [Ga]
The Underdog [Ga]
Got Nuffin [Trans]
Black Like Me [Ga]
encore
Small Stakes [Moon]
Hot Thoughts [Hot]
Rent I Pay [Soul]

[Girls] Girls Can Tell (2001)
[Moon] Kill the Moonlight (2002)
[Gimme] Gimme Fiction (2005)
[Ga] Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
[Trans] Transference (2010)
[Soul] They Want My Soul (2014)
[Hot] Hot Thoughts (2017)
[Hits] Everything Hits at Once (2019)

Evidently Eno has different bass drum heads.  I wonder how often he changes them.

This time it was the one on the left.  Last time it was the one on the right.

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[ATTENDED: September 23, 2017] Sunflower Bean

Two years ago I saw Sunflower Bean open for Pixies. I thought they were great live and I wanted to see them again.  Since then, they have put out a second album and another EP.

When I saw that they were opening the Spoon/Cage the Elephant/Beck show, I knew I wanted to get there by 6 to see them again.  They were only given 25 minutes, and there were only about 25 people in the arena (not including the lawn), but they rocked the house.

In the two years since I’ve seen them, they have grown bigger (adding a keyboard player) and more confident.  Julia Cumming was a lot louder and more brash as the frontwoman–shouting to the people in the back (and the lawn) and encouraging us all to stand for the final song.  She also sounded great, employing a few different vocal styles on each song.  As always her bass (she plays a Rickenbacker, which is awesome) sounded great.  The biggest change was in her look.  Last time she was wearing a dress and had a fairly normal hairstyle.  For this show she was all glammed out, with a cool pink tigerprint dress and her hair and make up very new wave.  She looked an awful lot like Debbie Harry. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:공중도둑 (MID-AIR THIEF)쇠사슬 (Ahhhh, These Chains!)” (2018).

At the end of every year publications and sites post year end lists.  I like to look at them to see if I missed any albums of significance.  But my favorite year end list comes from Lars Gottrich at NPR.  For the past ten years, Viking’s Choice has posted a list of obscure and often overlooked bands.  Gottrich also has one of the broadest tastes of anyone I know (myself included–he likes a lot of genres I don’t).  

Since I’m behind on my posts at the beginning of this year, I’m taking this opportunity to highlight the bands that he mentions on this year’s list.  I’m only listening to the one song unless I’m inspired to listen to more.

공중도둑 (Mid-Air Thief) is from Korea (obviously).  Beyond that, virtually nothing is known about him (Lars confirms that it is a he, even if many of the vocals are by Summer Soul–she is his guest singer).

Mid-Air Thief makes beautiful but weird, glitchy folk music.  Every time something really lovely seems to come along, there’s always some kind of twist to make it not what you think.  This, of course, keeps everything interesting and fun.  But despite that, the whole album is bright and cheerful.  There’s feelings of Dungen and Beck and even some Kishi Bashi.  There’s even a sense of the more psychedelic Flaming Lips songs (but without the over-loud low end).

It’s really great.

“쇠사슬,” which translates into the delightfully odd “Ahhhh, These Chains!” opens with a pretty, fast-picked guitar and delicate voices.  The song builds as electronic sounds are placed throughout adding tension but never overriding the pleasantness of the guitar and soft voices.  After a slight break into a “chorus” the song resumes almost doubled in sounds and power, but never losing that sweetness.

I love how the song seems like it’s going to end after around four minutes but it still has a bashing coda to show off before it finally ends at five minutes.

Bob Boilen has sent out a plea to Mid-Air Thief to do a Tiny Desk Concert, and boy I hope that happens.

Plus how great is Mid-Air Thief’s avatar (on the left).

[READ: January 6, 2019] “It’s All Over Now”

This story is about a young woman, living alone and fearful in a sketchy part of Mexico.

Tina Reyes is the single woman.  She boards a bus to visit her friend Rosa.  She hopes Rosa is all right–Rosa had looked tired last week. Tina thinks about Rosa with her husband and children and she grows rather sad and melancholy thinking about her own life and how she will never have anything like that.

Is her status a self-fulfilling prophecy or is she just sensible about the word around her?

As soon as she gets off the bus a man approaches her.  She is freaked out by his request:

Pardon me senorita, may I walk with you? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 7, 2018] Strand of Oaks

In 2016, Timothy Showalter played his second Strand of Oaks Winter Classic at Boot and Saddle.  I had a really great time.  Then I saw him and his full band later the next year at a bigger venue.  I more or less felt that I didn’t need to go to the winter classic again this year.  But thinking of how much fun it was (and the fact that Carl Broemel was opening) was a huge incentive.  Now I’ve been to one night of his second and fourth Winter Classics.

Showalter came up on stage and Broemel came with him.   Showalter is such a warm and gregarious person and you can see that he is genuinely happy to be there.  He was smiling pretty much for the whole show.

Although I like Strand of Oaks newer album Hard Love, I really like the previous album Heal.  So it was pretty awesome that he played the majority of songs from Heal. In fact. the first three songs were from that album

For a few songs Broemel played lead guitar while Showalter played rhythm and sang.  And the two guitarists took the opportunity to do some great jamming together.  Broemel also played pedal steel (which was really cool) for a couple of songs. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKJUST SAY NOËL: A Gift for You from Geffen Records (1996).

This is a weird mix of songs.  I purchased this all those years ago because I loved the Sire Records Just Say series, and this seemed like a fine addition.  But this album really pushes what might have been anticipated in a Christmas collection.

Look at the names!  Beck! Sonic Youth! (when they were riding high), Elastica! But man, this is just a crazy mix of stuff.

BECK-“The Little Drum Machine Boy” (NSFC)
This is like 7 minutes of drum machine nonsense from Beck.  There’s mention of the Hanukkah robot funk.  Gonna drop some Hanukkah science.  And then 7 minutes of Beck’s nonsense lyrics.

AIMEE MANN with MICHAEL PENN-“Christmastime” (NSFC)
This is a little mopey because Aimee is always a little mopey.  The Michael Penn parts are a bit more upbeat.  They sound great together, but “all alone at Christmastime” isn’t really much for holiday cheer.

SONIC YOUTH-“Santa Doesn’t Cop Out On Dope” (NSFC)
I had no idea that this was a cover.  Martin Mull recorded this back in 1973.  That explains the spoken word part that doesn’t sound like something Sonic Youth would construct.  But after the spoken intro, they turn the end into 2 minutes of utter noise.  Thurston sings the actual song almost a capella with strange noises in the background and twinkling bells.  The last 40 seconds are just squelching noise.  And they end with Thurston saying “Merry Christmas, David Geffen.”

THE POSIES-“Christmas” (NSFC)
This song is downbeat and sad (“you made me for the last time.  That’s okay Christmas means little to me”).  The chorus is kind of pretty though.

THE ROOTS-“Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa” (NSFC)
I had no idea that this was a cover.  And never would have guessed it was originally by The Roots.  It is shockingly about incest. The Roots version is even darker (and the recording features an echoed voice making it even harder to hear the words).

SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS-“Merry Christmas Baby” (NSFC)
This version is bluesy and slightly funky in a very white way.

REMY ZERO-“Christmas” (NSFC)
This is muted and mopey and I have literally no idea what its about.

ELASTICA-“Gloria” (NSFC)
This is without a doubt the best song on this record.  Although as far as I can tell aside from chanting (and playing) the melody from the Christmas song “Gloria In Excelsis Deo” there is no connection to Christmas whatsoever.

WILD COLONIALS-“Christmas Is Quiet” (NSFC)
This is six-minute mellow folk dirge.  Her voice is pretty, but good lord, six minutes?  Even a build up and backing vocals doing la las can’t rescue this.

XTC-“Thanks For Christmas”
Obviously, I love this song as I have mentioned elsewhere.

THE MUSICAL CAST OF TOYS FEATURING WENDY & LISA -“The Closing Of The Year”
The Toys song is such a weird inclusion–clearly it’s only here because they own the rights.  But it’s a really pretty song and it should be played more at the closing of the year, for being a lovely optimistic song.  Even though I like this version, I’d like to hear a cover from someone else with a strong voice (and not necessarily Seal, or whoever that is, joining in).  I’ll bet it could be done really well.

TED HAWKINS-“Amazing Grace”
Hawkins has a low gravelly voice.  This is a lovely cover of just him and his guitar.

So overall, this is a disappointing collection of songs.  Most of them can’t be played in a festive way.  But there are a few rocking standouts.

[READ: December 12, 2017] “Announcements”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This was a fun, light-hearted look at Wedding announcements.  And of course, as with any fun, light-hearted look at something, there were undercurrents of seriousness that made the story even better. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MOSES SUMNEY-Tiny Desk Concert #678 (November 29, 2017).

I had never heard of Moses Sumney before this show.  And the blurb seems to anticipate this:

If you don’t know this Los-Angeles-based force of nature, and haven’t heard him on tour with James Blake or Sufjan Stevens or perhaps on albums by Beck or Solange, then this is your chance to watch one of the most thoughtful talents of today as he makes music that is outside the box but easy to relate and connect to.

I’m very curious to know what he did with Beck.

I found Moses’ voice to be mesmerizing–a gorgeous soaring falsetto that he seemed to effortless get to rise higher and higher.  But beyond that, the blurb talks about his lyrics:

Moses Sumney puts a great deal of thought into the heartfelt music he creates. On his debut album, Aromanticism, he was inspired by everything from the works of Plato and Aristophanes’ account of the origin of humanity to the Bible, particularly Genesis and the story of creation. It’s all in an attempt to understand human relationships and the sorts of couplings we tend to be drawn to.

He plays 3 songs in the 20 minute time frame.  I wanted to describe the first song, but Bob’s description is too good:

The concert opens up with Moses not behind my desk, but at the piano we keep in our office. As his team of sax, harp and guitar players set up, Moses sat at the piano and began to play “Doomed.” He had instructed the band, which had already perched behind my desk 40 or so feet away, to create a transition for him to walk from piano to desk, continuing one of the most inspired 8-minute stretches I’ve witnessed here at the Tiny Desk.

So he plays the pretty piano melody and sings with those gorgeous falsetto vocals for about a minute and a half.  Then he strolls (in his cape) to the desk.  He activates some looping pedals.  He plays a beat on the microphone and then Sam Gendel plays a cool modified sax solo.  After 2 minutes of set up, he sings again.  The beats are in full and Brandee Younger is playing some simple gorgeous harp and Mike Haldeman has some echoed guitar on top.  Meanwhile, Sam has switched to a synth and Moses is also playing some kind of synth.  The song builds beautifully and he sings in a  higher and higher register.  It starts to sound otherworldly with the harp and his voice and the loops going faster and faster.  And then the wall of noise abruptly ends and the final minute is delicate and lovely.

He introduces the band and then says “we’re going to keep making noise.”  And then “hopefully no one’s printer goes off” (wonder if that happened).

“Quarrel” opens with him looping his own voice and then playing it faster and faster so it sound like a skipping CD.  Sam has picked up a guitar to pluck out notes (the head of his guitar is fascinating and I want to see it better).  Throughout the song Moses hits that looped vocal section for one or two seconds to add texture–it’s pretty cool.  The mix of that harsh(ish) electronic sound and the angelic harp is wonderful.

For the final song, “Plastic,” he removes his cape.  Everybody else leaves and he says “I want to make more room… for me!”  He picks up a guitar and says, “This is the end.  The bitter end.  Although for some of you, it will be sweet because it’s ending.”  It’s interesting how self-deprecating he is when his voice is so gorgeous.

This final song is much more jazzy with him playing interesting chords and singing to the guitar.  Overall it’s a bit less exciting than the other songs possibly because the last minute or so is just him repeating the line “my wings are made of plastic.”

But overall, Moses Sumney really impressed me with this set.  Right up to the end where he sinks slowly below the desk, to much laughter.

[READ: March 6, 2017] Wade and the Scorpion’s Claw

The Copernicus Legacy is a four book series.  But, in an interesting diversion, there are also two “extra” books inserted between the first two.  They are smaller and do not exactly affect the continuity of the main story, but they seem to delve into one character a little further (and there is some plot advancement).

Interestingly, Book One of the main series ends with Kaplans and their friends leaving Guam for New York.  The second book of the series opens with them in New York.  But this book, the first of the The Copernicus Archives, takes place between Guam and New York.  The big difference is that unlike the main books, this is told entirely from Wade’s Point of view.

En route to New York, the family has to stop in Hawaii.  They are in the airport for a while and they trust no one.  They are waiting for the flight to San Francisco when there are two notable people in the airport around them.  There’s a German man (you can tell by his shoes, Lily whispers) in a leather coat.  The kids don’t trust him and call him Leathercoat.  And then there’s a Chinese man doing acrobatics and other tricks to amuse some children while they wait. (more…)

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