Archive for the ‘Mal Blum’ Category

[ATTENDED: March 20, 2019] Lucy Dacus

Less than a year ago I saw Lucy Dacus at Johnny Brenda’s.  In that time, she has been in boygenius and has catapulted to a slightly higher level of recognition.

Last time when I saw her, she played two shows that night.  (She was already popular enough to sell out two shows on the same night).  I saw the first show, which was one song shorter than the later show.  (Boo).  But she was great and very personable.

Tonight’s show was quite different.   I’m not sure what it was.  Last time, perhaps because she dressed a bit more casually (she wore glasses and no lipstick–see bottom of post), or maybe because it was an early show, it felt a bit more mellow.

But this show felt like it was important (whatever that means).  She had coordinated the whole tour–dates, support acts, hotels, eveyrthing.  She also said she was pretty excited to play New Jersey (and we were happy to have her).  She even wore her now characteristic red lipstick.

What really impressed me was during the final song she stood up on stage with no guitar, facing the crowd.  She stood there confidently as her guitarist swelled music around her.  It wasn’t an act of defiance, it was an act of acceptance and the power she exuded standing up there.  She didn’t move, she didn’t sway, she didn’t speak, she didn’t fidget.  She knew we were there to see her and she was there to be seen.  And she defined our gaze.  It was stunning.

And that doesn’t even talk about the music. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 8, 2018] Mal Blum

I saw Mal Blum and the Blums back in March of last year.  They were great and so much fun.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a band laugh so much, both with each other and with the audience.

They opened for Jessica Lea Mayfield.  I got the impression that the band is now called simply Mal Blum (no more Blums).

Since that performance I have followed Mal’s transgender surgery and recovery on Instagram.  I thought it was really cool that they posted as much as they did to show anyone in need what the process was like.

And now Mal is back.  Mal said they love coming to Jersey (they are based in NYC, although two of the guys are from NJ).  And they joked that they were channeling their inner Springsteen. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 20, 2019] Fenne Lily

I was unfamiliar with Fenne Lily before this show.  I looked her up and found that she was a British singer-songwriter who wrote some pointed lyrics.  And frankly, I found out very little else.  Even after the show.  I’m not even sure if Fenne Lily is her real name.  But it’s all irrelevant, because she was a delight.

She came out onstage with a guitar and a co-conspirator named Joe.  Joe played leads to Fenne Lily’s chords (she had all kinds of interesting tunings on her guitar, which, although time-consuming, was certainly appreciated as it left lots of time for amusing stories.  And Fenne Lily had lots of them.

She told us that she has self-released her album last year. She had done everything by herself.  It was like her baby.  And now, after some time she is sick of it, just like a real child.  I’m very excited to hear what her next album will sound like as the new songs were terrific.



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[ATTENDED: April 13, 2018] Adult Mom

Adult Mom is a band created by Stephanie Knipe.

I had heard of them, but wasn’t too familiar with them.  I knew that they had released a number of “bedroom recordings” which is unfairly dismissive.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t expecting them to rock out as much as they did.

Because Lucy Dacus was offering two shows this evening, it meant that the opening bands (and Lucy herself) was somewhat truncated for the first show.  So Adult Mom only played for about 20 minutes.  (more…)

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I feel like I was pretty lucky to see Mal Blum just days before they went to SXSW and made a Lullaby.

Without the band, Mal sings more quietly which certainly lets you hear the words more clearly–and Mal is a gifted lyricist.  But Mal also writes catchy tunes.

I love that the verses are quiet and muted, but there’s loud strumming in between.

And as the song nears the end, the intensity ratchets up for a line of “why can;t they see me?”  …before the quiet conclusion: “I was right there.”

Mal performs in front of the Future of Secrets art installation.

The Future of Secrets was conceived by Sarah W. Newman in collaboration with Jessica Yurkofsky, Rachel Kalmar and metaLAB at Harvard. The installation, which is part of the SXSW Art Program, asks those attending to anonymously type a secret into a laptop and in exchange someone else’s secret is given to you. Those secrets are then projected on a wall, which is the backdrop for this video.

“‘See Me’ is an unreleased song that will be on our next record (sometime next year),” Blum tells NPR. “It’s about the disparity between how one sees oneself, or the struggle of being seen as we are, versus how others view us, which can result in an unintentional hidden self or a perpetual feeling of invisibility. Being transgender informed the song, but it’s not exclusively about that.”

[READ: September 10, 2017] “An Education”

This is a short piece about two girls in school  I assume it is set in Hungary as it is translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix.

The narrator said she was always a hard-working child filled with self-discipline.  But her parents never understood that she did it all for herself–not for them or to make anyone else happy.  Her father was the school principal and was absolutely proud of her–she was hardworking and punctilious like he was.

Her mother, on the other hand, was clearly more loving to her sister Blanka–when she lost her temper with Blanka “there was something frenzied and indiscriminate about the way she pummeled her.”  Her father tried to push her very hard to make her learn more.  Her father was far more proud of the narrator than Blanka, but “no one was ever as proud of me as Blanka [was].” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 8, 2018] Jessica Lea Mayfield

I first saw Jessica Lea Mayfield (who I’d assumed was a country singer) on a Tiny Desk Concert back in 2016 (it aired in 2014 when she had just released Make My Head Sing…).  She had pink hair, electric guitars and a lot of glitter.  And her sound was decidedly grungy.  At the time I remember thinking that the contrasts she brought–her delicate voice, her simple but poignant songs, her look, and her promise that her shows get really loud–were really compelling.  So when last November she scheduled a date at Boot & Saddle, I was bummed that I couldn’t go.  But then she cancelled the date and it was rescheduled to March.  And so she became my second show in a pretty long string of shows this month.

I really like her latest album Sorry Is Gone.  And once again her look is very different–she quite glammed up on the album cover.  So I didn’t know what to expect when she came out.  And that was all the more thrilling.  When she finally did come out, green hair, blue nail polish, yellow heels and a flower dress, it was just a perfect microcosm of everything I think about Jessica Lea Mayfield.

The surprise came when Audrey from Mal Blum and the Blums came back onstage.  This time she was playing bass for JLM.  If you’re doing double duty on a night, it’s probably fun to switch instruments.  On drums was Emily Maxwell who plays with Daddy Issues.

When Jessica came up on stage, she was unabashedly polite and rather sweet.  She has a quiet voice (in song and speaking) and thanked us all for coming. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 8, 2018] Mal Blum and the Blums

I was unfamiliar with Mal Blum before this show.  Mal Blum is a songwriter who plays both solo shows and with the backing band The Blums.  Mal’s songs are great–catchy melodies and darkly comic self-reflective lyrics.  But I am particularly glad to have seen The Blums because the backing band was great and really seemed to infuse the show with a lot of fun (I suppose the solo shows are fun as well, but this is all I have to go on).

Mal was front and center of course on guitar and vocals.  On lead was Audrey Zee Whitesides and she was great–playing wild solos and then backing off to let Mal take center stage again.  Barrett Lindgren was on bass and he was particularly excited to shout Go Birds! (he is from Philly and had been holding off shouting that for many shows now).  On drums was Piyal Basu who was new for this tour (no pictures apparently).  He did a great job–I particularly enjoyed the time when Audrey “encouraged” him when an upcoming tempo change was imminent. (more…)

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