Archive for the ‘Tropical Fuck Storm’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 29, 2022] Tropical Fuck Storm

I saw Tropical Fuck Storm open for Modest Mouse four years ago and I was really impressed by them.  Since then, they have put out a couple more albums and seem to have made some headway into the American market (even with a name like that).

This show was sold out (it was their first show in Philly).  However, it was also a night that the Phillies were playing in the World Series.  So, the crowd was not packed in tight.  It worked out for everyone–the band got a sold out show and I didn’t have someone on my toes.

The band came out were fun but not super chatty.  I’m pretty amazed to see that they played largely the same set that they played back in 2018–especially since they have two new albums out since then.

They opened with “Braindrops” (from my favorite of the three albums).  I love the way the band sounds like a big pile of chaos and yet they are all really tight and focused.

I was in front of RKO (Erica Dunn) who mostly played guitar and occasional keys.  In the middle was Gaz, (Gareth Liddiard).  Off to the far side was Fifi (Fiona Kitschin).  On the drums was Hammy or Hammer (Lauren Hammel).  And she smashed the drums harder than anyone I’ve seen.

I loved watching RKO play wild guitar parts–sometimes conventional chords, sometimes solos.

But really it was Gaz who was the focal point.  And how could he not be since he sang most of the songs and played a frenetic and noisy lead guitar.  He has a huge stack of effects pedals, including what I’m thinking is some kind of loop, so that when he does … something, it sounds like a siren going off (but only for a second).

His playing is loose and seemingly crazy and yet full controlled with his hands almost never off of the whammy bar.

One of my favorite parts of their songs is when RKO and Fifi sing backing vocals.  They have great voices, but they can also sing in a surprisingly high register as well–which contrasts perfectly to Gaz’s low growl.

RKO sang lead on “New Romeo Agent,” a kind of slow burning song.

The crowd was very much into the whole set but they went nuts for “You Let My Tyres Down,” a personal favorite of mine, too.  It’s just as frenetic and wild as the rest but with a slow and catchy chorus.

FiFi sang lead on the cover of the Stooges Ann, a slow moody piece.   They ended with “Two Afternoons,” a song that has slow verses but is just a noise fest in the beginning and the end.  As this was the last song, they really jammed out the end with Gaz squatting on the stage playing with effects pedals and causing all kinds of noisy feedback–glorious chaos.

They came back after a couple of minutes and played “Paradise,” a killer song from Braindrops.  On the record it’s 6 minutes long but they stretched it out even longer with noisy jamming sections and aural chaos.

I thought they might do another song (they had been playing “Stayin’ Alive” as a second encore.  And they’d already long passed the 11PM mark (there’s no curfew apparently).  But nope, that was it.  I would have really enjoyed one more song, but it was clearly an exhausting set and it was quite an intense 75 minutes.  Highly recommended.

2022 2018
Braindrops Chameleon Paint
Chameleon Paint Antimatter Animals
New Romeo Agent ♠ Soft Power
Antimatter Animals You Let My Tyres Down
You Let My Tyres Down Back to the Wall (Divinyls cover)
Legal Ghost ♠ Two Afternoons
Ann (The Stooges cover) Rubber Bullies
Rubber Bullies Baby Squared (The Drones cover)
Two Afternoons

⊗ A Laughing Death in Meatspace (2018)
∀ Braindrops (2019)
♠ Deep States (2021)

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[ATTENDED: October 29, 2022] Nina Ryser

Nina Ryser is a member of Palberta (I love that name) whom I saw live a while back.  I recently also saw her bandmate Lily Konigsberg solo, so that’s 2/3 of Palberta I’ve seen solo now.   (Clearly Anina Ivry-Block will be opening for someone in the near future).  I have also seen Nina Ryser play drums for Old Maybe.

Like the rest of her Palbertans, Ryser is a prolific songwriter who is classically trained but who likes to push the boundaries of what music should do.

For this little set, she and her husband played keyboards (and all manner of gadgets).  The set sounded improvised, but I’m sure it wasn’t.

Most of the songs were built around a beat and a simple chord pattern.  There was a droney component to it and Nina’s vocals were kind of deapan.

I know she played “Shelf the Trophy.”  She played another song that reminded me of a lo-fi Stereolab.

My favorite parts of the show occurred between songs where Nina would mess around with looping pedals and make these interesting collages out of bits of the song she’d just played.  There was definitely some improv in here and I enjoyed watching her manipulate the sounds to create something cool.

She ended the set with the catchiest song.  I don’t know what it’s called but there was a repeated refrain of “you never looked better.”  It was simple, but the vocal line complemented the music really nicely.

There’s so many interesting Philly-based musicians and so many places to play.  It’s quite a rich scene.

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[POSTPONED: April 8, 2020] Brother Ali / Open Mike Eagle / DJ Last Word [moved to September 24]

indexI don’t know Brother Ali aside from the fact that he releases a “deeply personal, socially conscious, and inspiring brand of hip-hop.” He says “Beauty in all of its forms is the outward manifestation of love and virtue. It soothes the soul and pulls it gently toward the truth it communicates.”  I can get behind that.

But really I was interested in this show for Open Mike Eagle.  Open Mike is a great “alternative” rapper from Chicago.  His lyrics are thoughtful and political and his music is more than just beats.  His last two albums were fantastic.  I just saw that he says that They Might Be Giants are a major influence on music which is pretty wild.

DJ Last Word is Brother Ali’s DJ.  He gets a little opening set.  When I looked him up all it said about him was that he is a real life pilot.  Which is pretty funny.

Milkboy is a tiny venue, a great way to see an artist–especially since the videos of Brother Ali show him in much bigger venues.

I wasn’t going to this show because it was the same night as Tropical Fuck Storm.  But with it postponed to September, I now have a chance again.

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[POSTPONED/CANCELLED: April 8, 2020] Tropical Fuck Storm / Des Demonas

indexI saw Tropical Fuck Storm open for Modest Mouse a few years ago and their live show was fantastic.  Being an opening act on a large stage wasn’t the best fit for them and I really wanted to see them at a smaller venue.

It would be even better if they were headlining.

So here was a headlining tour of a small place.  Perfect!

Their new album Braindrops is an amazing mix of chaos and catchiness and I really wanted to see them now knowing all of their songs.

I had never heard of Des Demonas, but listening briefly on Spotify, I dig their short, simple, abrasive punk pop.  Lead singer Jacky Cougar Abok has a delivery like early Nick Cave and their bio is fascinating.

Jacky Cougar Abok is the six-foot-five-inch tall Kenyan punk singer who has drummed with Thee Lolitas and Foul Swoops. Guitarist Mark Cisneros has bent strings with Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, Deathfix, and Medications and pounded the traps for The Make-Up and Benjy Ferree, the latter alongside organist Paul Vivari. Joe Halladay (Citygoats) on bass and Ryan Hicks (Suns Of Guns) on drums round out this squared circle of sight and sound.

I hope they both come back soon.

UPDATE: On August 5th, I received a refund, meaning this show is officially cancelled.  But I’m sure they’ll come back.



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[ATTENDED: October 13, 2018] Tropical Fuck Storm

When a band names itself Tropical Fuck Storm, you know that they are not interested in radio airplay and that they are going for a particular sound.  I mean, you can almost hear their music from those three words.

And it’s a pretty accurate description.

Hailing from Australia, I was almost as excited to hear TFS as I was to hear Modest Mouse.  Even if, as the lights dimmed and the band came out, singer Gareth Liddiard said calm down, it’s only the support band from Australia.

TFS were fun from the get go, playing their noisy, feedbacky, sometimes catchy, totally rocking songs.

I didn’t know any of their songs, but I was delighted with them from the start.  Liddiard was a funny front man and his band was top-notch.  I stood right in front of Erica Dunn who started on keys for the first song, but she switched to guitar for the rest.  She wailed and soloed and made sonic explosions which were so much fun to watch. (more…)

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