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Archive for the ‘J. Mascis’ Category

[POSTPONED: January 21, 2021] The Beths / Lunar Vacation [rescheduled from April 29 Kung Fu Necktie and August 27, 2020 from World Cafe Live; moved to February 24, 2022]

indexThis show has been bounced around now to three different venues.  I was sure I’d finally get to see The Beths, but then this new uptick pushed their tour back.  I don’t know how wise pushing back a show for one month is during this pandemic nonsense.  Especially since they’re saying the spike will drop away in mid-March, but darnit, I really want to see The Beths.

I was looking forward to Weakened Friends opening, but Lunar Vacation…

Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, the story of Lunar Vacation can be traced back to eighth grade, when Grace Repasky and Maggie Geeslin met and started sharing musical ideas. As soon as the pair became old enough to drive, they started to take Lunar Vacation on the road, playing venues across the sprawling suburbs of their home city and fulfilling so many teenage dreams along the way. As the buzz around the pair grew, so did the band, as they expanded to their current four-piece line-up, and upon finishing school, they started to self-release their music, in the shape of two EPs, Swell and Artificial Flavors.

And their new album, Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp which dives into the the waters of dreamy-indie, psychedelia and bedroom-pop.  Sounds pretty great!  Come on boosters, let the bands play. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 26, 2016] Dinosaur Jr.

Back in March when concerts were just starting to happen again, Dinosaur Jr were first out of the gate to announce a fall tour. I grabbed a ticket and it sold out almost instantly (yes, we were desperate for live music!).

I was excited more about the show than the fact that it was Dinosaur Jr.  The last time I saw them ( I can’t believe it was five years ago) the show was so good, I felt like didn’t really need to see them again.

Except for one thing.  The two shows I’d seen with them I was too close to the stage.  The guys’ amps are so loud that you can barely hear the vocals (bassist Lou Barlow even yelled at the people up front who complained–“stand father back, it’s physics!”).  So I wanted to stand further back to get the full Dino experience.

After being right up on the stage for Riley, I walked to the back and took up a spot in the middle of the room (I couldn’t voluntarily go all the way to the back).

And it was a much more enjoyable experience–except for the people around me.  There were a couple of really tall guys who just wouldn’t budge an inch. There were also a lot of loud people, including a guy who kept shouting “Just Like Heaven” (as if Dinosaur Jr is a band who takes requests). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 19, 2021] Kestrels

I had not heard of Kestrels.  They are a trio from Halifax with several releases out.

According to the new release

Since 2008, Kestrels has been the primary project of singer/guitarist Chad Peck, who spends his time offstage as a high school English teacher.  [Do his students know that their English teacher rocks?]

They played an excellent mix of loud and soft, with ripping solos, an excellent bass sound and cracking drums,

When they first started playing I actually couldn’t hear Peck’s voice at all.  I was right up against the fence in front of the stage and assumed I was too close to hear the voices (that’s not a nice audio trick to play on people in the front).  I backed up a few steps and could hear him better (they may have turned up the vocals, too).

Peck’s guitar playing was really fun–big distorted chords and then pulling back for some quiet guitar picking.

One of the more amusing moments was when the bassist (whose name I didn’t catch) asked if they could change the lights (they had been on that terrible red for a couple of songs).  He said “I’m a ginger, anything but red.” (more…)

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[POSTPONED: August 27, 2020] The Beths / Weakened Friends [rescheduled from April 29 Kung Fu Necktie]

indexThis show was moved from Kung Fu Necktie (a venue I’ve never been to and would like to check out) to World Cafe Live–I’m very curious how these two venues are connected.

The Beths are from New Zealand.  New Zealand has a pretty great track record for producing great bands.

The Beths play a delightful alt-pop rock with a splash of grunge and punk all under Elizabeth Stokes’ high but powerful voice.

I’m not too familiar with their music, but I was planning to be by the time of this show.

The opening band Weakened Friends describes themselves as “We’re three tall young adults making some songs and eating some snacks. Indie noise junk band from Portland ME and Boston MA.”

I listened to a few songs and they have a great distorted guitar/catchy chorus sound.  J. Mascis even guests on one of their songs.  I think they’d be great live.

Hope they can make it back to the States next year.

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[POSTPONED: April 29, 2020] The Beths /Weakened Friends [moved to Auguist 27, 2020 @ World Cafe Live]

index

The Beths are from New Zealand.  New Zealand has a pretty great track record for producing great bands.

The Beths play a delightful alt-pop rock with a splash of grunge and punk all under Elizabeth Stokes’ high but powerful voice.

I’m not too familiar with their music, but I was planning to be by the time of this show.

The opening band Weakened Friends describes themselves as “We’re three tall young adults making some songs and eating some snacks. Indie noise junk band from Portland ME and Boston MA.”

I listened to a few songs and they have a great distorted guitar/catchy chorus sound.  J. Mascis even guests on one of their songs.  I think they’d be great live.

Hope they can make it back to the States next year.

I love World Cafe as a venue, but I really want to get to King Fu Necktie sometime.

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[ATTENDED: July 30, 2018] Heavy Blanket

About a day before this show, I looked up who Heavy Blanket were.  Imagine my surprise to read that they are a side project of J. Mascis.  So this makes four times I’ve seen Mascis live now (twice with Dino. Jr and once when he jammed with Pearl Jam in Boston).

Heavy Blanket put out an album 5 years ago ( I completely missed it) and the backstory of the band is pretty funny:

It was the summer of 1984, and a teenage j Mascis was bored. Sure, his band Deep Wound were still playing shows and melting faces.  [but] he wanted to start something new. He wanted to shed the pretentiousness and elitism that had risen around him  – to slow things down and turn the volume way, way up.

He remembered a couple kids from his early high school days – stoner kids he’d always admired for their “who gives a shit” attitude. Those kids, Johnny Pancake and Pete Cougar, had been kicked out of marching band for smoking weed out of a tuba. Way better musicians than the marching band deserved, they’d formed a duo that was all rhythm section – no vocals, no guitar, a sick, punchy brew of Band of Gypsies and Japanese hard psych (Johnny’s uncle was a US Marine stationed on Okinawa in 1973. From his frequent visits to Tokyo, he brought home a killer psych record collection. And a mean dose of the clap). These were the guys he needed. He rounded them up and it soon became obvious that the heavy rhythms they created were the perfect backdrop to young Mascis’ insane, fluid ability on the guitar. The trio came up with six blistering tracks, named themselves Heavy Blanket, and set a date to record.

But then, tragedy struck. Johnny hit his head and nearly drowned while swimming in an old stone quarry in southern Vermont. His recovery was… incomplete. He gave up playing altogether and became something of a recluse, retreating to the relative safety of his grandmother’s basement. Disheartened by Johnny incapacitation, Pete moved out to Ohio to work in his uncle’s second-hand furniture store. He later did a stint in federal prison for repeatedly passing low-denomination counterfeit bills at the local Stop’n’Shop. Mascis went on to form Dinosaur jr, and the rest is history. The boys lost touch, and those blistering tracks were lost to history.

Fast forward to the winter of 2011. While on his semi-annual ski retreat to Stowe, Mascis runs into an old friend. Johnny had emerged from his grandmother’s basement (having been forced to, once her demise stopped the flow of milk and sandwiches to his underground lair) and taken a job grooming the ski trails with a Snowcat. Convinced his long-ago accident was the handiwork of those schemers in Pearl Jam, Johnny begged j to reform the band. It was the only way to get back at them, he insisted. A quick search of Ohio prison records turned up Pete, living in a halfway house in Columbus. After securing the proper permissions from his parole officer, Pete boarded a Greyhound with the only recording of Heavy Blanket in existence – an old practice cassette. Building off those old tune structures, the boys – now men – have finally succeeded in fulfilling the promise of that long past summer.

(more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 26, 2016] Dinosaur Jr.

2016-11-26-22-33-27I saw Dinosaur Jr. open up for Jane’s Addiction this summer.  I enjoyed their set (in fact, I was really going mostly to see them although I did like Jane’s as well).  But after it was over, I realized that I didn’t want to see them as an opening act. I needed a full show.

So even though it had been just a few months, when I saw that they were doing a headlining tour, I decided to check them out again.  And I’m really glad I did.  They played twice as many songs and were on more than twice as long.

The guys were able to stretch their songs out more and to pick from a really diverse set of songs.  2016-11-26-23-15-04Of course, being the headliners didn’t mean anything fancy–their stage set up (amps and more amps) was exactly the same as this summer.  And it’s possible that J. Mascis talked even less.  They were there simply to rock.

2016-11-26-22-59-14The only time that bassist Lou Barlow spoke was to berate people for complaining that they couldn’t hear the vocals.  The same thing happened at the summer show as well.  Barlow seemed pretty angry as he told us that we were standing in front of the guitar amps and that the vocals were coming through the house speakers.  So if we wanted to hear the vocals we needed to move to the back of the club.  “It’s Fucking Physics!”  I didn’t move back (the show was pretty crowded and I had a good spot), but I was able to hear the vocals much better than at the Summer Stage show.  I had planned that I would stand nearer the back to see if it was true, but I had a hard time passing up the chance to be so close. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 24, 2016] Band of Horses

2016-09-24-22-06-57This is our third time seeing Band of Horses in three years.  Sarah and I loved their first three albums a lot, so in 2004 when XPNFest announced they were opening for Beck, we knew it was an amazing pairing.  They were great and we decided we needed to see them as the headliners.  The following year, they came back although this time opening for Neil Young.  We were going to see Neil anyway, so it was even better that BoH was opening.  But that set was shorter than the first!  We needed the full experience.

One year later, the busiest weekend we’ve had in a long time, and BoH was squeezed right into the middle of it.

We love The Fillmore in Philly, it’s a great venue with really good sound (and nice parking).  So it was a great place to hear the soaring vocals of Ben Bridwell.and the rest of the band.

The show was an outstanding mix of songs from four of their albums (turns out that their previous album Mirage Rock has been largely dismissed by the band and they don’t play much from it anymore).  And that’s fine because the four albums are awesome. (more…)

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overpoSOUNDTRACK: J. MASCIS-Tiny Desk Concert #406 (November 22, 2014).

mascisJ. Mascis is best known as a wailing guitarist who plays in front of a wall of speakers with Dinosaur Jr.  But for this Tiny Desk Concert he busts out an acoustic guitar and plays some songs from his solo album (as well as an old Dino classic).

“Stumble” is sung in Mascis’ delicate falsetto.  They zoom in on him singing and its amazing how he doesn’t seem to be straining in any way doing this really high voice.  After all the falsetto, his saying “Thanks” in a deep voice is really kind of funny.

For the second song, he busts out the classic “Little Fury Thing.”  This acoustic version sounds really good–so simple and clean.  The original is great burst of loud rocking and it’s amazing that the song can sound so good stripped down. His voice is much deeper for this song .  I love at the end how he plays the strings really really fast but continues to swing in his most languid style.

The third song is actually two songs.  He switches guitars (and is apparently using sheet music) to play “Drifter/Heal the Star.”  The first part is a lengthy, really pretty instrumental.  For all of Mascis’ noise and rocking out, he knows how to write beautiful, lovely melodies.  The main melody is played on the high strings alternating some great strumming on the low strings for the “chorus.”   I could listen to this for ages.

The song segues into “Heal the Star” which sounds very Mascis–his most Mascis voice and strumming style.  Although for the chorus he’s back to the falsetto vocals again.  The solo a the end is great as he plays chords on the lowers strings while soloing ion the high strings (there must be a different tuning to make this sound so good).

I saw Dinosaur Jr a couple of months ago and I’m going to see them in November again.  I love Mascis’ loudness, but it’s wonderful to hear him play these quiet pieces too.

[READ: April 1, 2016] Overpowered!

I loved the premise of this book right from the start.  I mean, the cover alone is great, and flipping through it, there are some wonderful images of men with great mustaches in turbans doing all manner of hypnosis to people.  What I didn’t expect (but probably should have if I’d read his bio on the back) is that Green himself is a practicing hypnotherapist (in addition to being an actor and performer who has created such characters as “US Country music star Tina C and pensioner rap star Ida Barr.”

It turns out that Green has been interested in hypnosis for a long time.  He learned how to do it and then wanted to set the record straight for what hypnosis actually is as opposed to what we believe it is.

So this proves to be a thorough (and very funny) history of hypnosis through the years.   He says the book is called “Overpowered” because “I’m fascinated by the delight human beings derive from the idea of being taken over.  Being conscious may be beneficial, but it is also hard work.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2016] Pearl Jam

2016-08-07 18.26.10After the excitement of seeing Pearl Jam at the Wells Fargo Center, we were psyched out of our minds to go to Fenway.  I didn’t realize that Fenway has a regular concert series.  I’d assumed that Pearl Jam were the first band to play there–they weren’t–but that didn’t detract in any way from the coolness of the venue.

Neither of us are baseball fans, although when I lived in Boston two decades ago, I did attend a couple of games at Fenway because it is a landmark (and when I was a kid I loved baseball, so duh).  But we knew that the venue would make the show even more special.

We’d have loved to have gone to both shows, but unlike some people, we couldn’t get tickets for both nights.  However, through a small piece of luck, I won tickets to a screening of Friday night’s show on Saturday night.  What?  Well, each night is filmed.  So the film crew filmed Friday night, then edited the footage together and had it ready on the next night as a really nicely edited package at the House of Blues (across the street from Fenway) on Saturday night.

It seemed kind of dumb to go to a music venue to watch a movie.  And Sarah and I were skeptical about going.  But we did and we had a  great time.  I’ve watched live DVDs and it’s always an okay thing to do–fun, but never like you were really there. But this was different. Having a group of some 600 people in a club–with bars and good lighting and excellent sound–it made it feel (almost) like a real concert.  And even though we laughed at the people who were clapping and cheering (as if the band were actually there), and taking videos of the screen (my battery died or I would have grabbed a few screen shots too), we were caught up in the excitement on several occasions as well. (more…)

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