Archive for the ‘TV on the Radio’ Category

[ATTENDED: July 13, 2022] Foxing

I saw Foxing three years ago without knowing much about them.  Their live show blew me away.  So when it was announced that they were playing Philly again, I had a choice. Go tothe Bikini Kill show that I’ve had tickets to for years or go to the Kevin Devine show which I had gotten tickets for just in case it sold out, or blow off them both and go to Foxing.

Well, Bikini Kill was postponed (again) and Kevin Devine was a solo show (which is good, but I’ve seen him solo twice already), so I decided to go to Foxing without having a ticket.  Traffic was light, I got free parking (well, technically it cost 68 cents) and bought a ticket in cash with no handling fees!

The two opening acts were really good and I settled in for Foxing.  They had just announced a new live album that you could get online or you could get (autographed) at the shows.  I bought the LP before the show (only 20 were sold each night) and was stuck holding it the whole time (next time bring a bag).

The lights went down and a recorded song played while fireworks were projected on the screen behind the stage.  Then the band came out.  For some reason I thought there were more of them, but there were only five.  And they were loud enough that they could have been ten.

Foxing released a new album last year and this was the tour for it, so there were lots of “new” songs.  But the fans knew them all (I mean the record has been out almost a year).

Singer Conor Murphy is a dynamic frontman.  He moves around, he jumps, he screams, he engages with the audience.  It’s like every note he sings is personally connected to him.  He has a delicate falsetto (not unlike TV on the Radio) but he can scream, like really roar, with the best of them.

And the way the band jumps from quiet to HUGE is really impressive. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 29, 2019] Phish

I blew off two of the three Phish shows I had tickets to this summer.  (I really should have gone to that Sunday show).  Camden is such a hassle.

Somehow, I find getting to Madison Square Garden much less of a hassle–which makes literally no sense.  These were my fourth and fifth times seeing them at MSG (compared to two in Camden).  But this MSG trip involved driving into the city ($15 tunnel toll?) and then getting a garage.  And, because I planned to go to an after party at Le Poisson Rouge with Marco Benevento, I decided to park in the village and subway it up.  That’s actually a lot of hassle.

But it was worth it.

This was my eighth Phish show (I could be in double digits by now if I didn’t sell those Camden tickets).

The theory is that the Sunday night of the New Year’s Eve run is always great.  And boy howdy was it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 29, 2018] Phish

I was very excited to see Phish again this summer.  I bought tickets for all three shows at the BB&T Pavillion.

But then my week had turned very busy with shows and other commitments.  When I heard Cate Le Bon was playing at Boot & Saddle on the Friday night, I decided to sell Friday’s ticket.  I mean, let’s be honest, BB&T is a pain in the ass to get to (and parking is insane and expensive).   (I wound up not even going to Cate Le Bon either, boo).   I also decided to sell Sunday’s ticket because Saturday was a long night and I had had enough of the late nights for a time.

But for the Saturday show I had originally bought two tickets so that S. could go to her first Phish show.  I was bummed that they were lawn seats, although I think she felt this added to the experience because she got to see all of the people dancing and milling about.  We were supposed to meet my friend Armando, which would have made the whole night really fun, but he had car trouble and wound up not making it.  (boo).

So it was just S. and I.  Traffic sucked, parking sucked and the weather was questionable.   We arrived literally as “Mike’s Song” started.  So we found a somewhat unused spot on the lawn and settled in.  Phish fans are very friendly but for some reason the group around us wasn’t very inclusive.  In what has to be a first, no one offered either of us a joint the whole night!  They must have thought we were narcs. (more…)

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  SOUNDTRACK: FOXING-Tiny Desk Concert #857 (June 12, 2019).

I saw Foxing live and they were quite different from their recorded output–louder, more intense, a very physical band.  I was curious if they would sound more like their records or more like their live selves.

They have chosen the album sound–quieter, more subtle with gorgeous orchestration.

But I wasn’t the only one to wonder this.

When we invited Foxing to NPR HQ, we wondered how the band’s big sound would translate to such a (forgive us) tiny space. Would Foxing bring a bagpiper to recreate the shrill accent it snuck onto its latest album, 2018’s Nearer My God, or try to replicate the cathartic energy of its live shows over the hum of computers and fluorescent lights?

I didn’t realize that Foxing was

at the forefront of what’s referred to as “emo revival,” a term for today’s crop of bands heavily influenced by late-’90s and early 2000s groups… But with each new LP, Foxing’s ambitions reach beyond the genre’s boundaries, incorporating broader inspiration.

When I saw them, the show was dominated by singer Conor Murphy and guitarist Eric Hudson.  Interestingly, Hudson is on keys for this set.  Caeleigh Featherstone was on keys for my show.  She is on keys here, but her backing vocals are far more prominent here.

For this performance, Foxing expanded its numbers, bringing a saxophonist (Jordan Pettay) and a couple of string players (Gabriel Valle: violin; Nathan Sander: viola) to accompany the band’s touring lineup — and somehow, we managed to fit everyone behind Bob Boilen’s desk.

The first song, “Slapstick” features Conor’s falsetto and Caeleigh’s backing vocals.  Hudson plays the single wobbly notes that float behind the vocals. The strings are quiet but fill in the silences really nicely.  I love the gentle repeating guitar solo that Ricky Sampson plays through the middle.  Sampson plays bass throughout the rest of the show and Brett Torrence plays it on this song.  That sax solo at the end adds a nice touch to the emotional ending.

For its Tiny Desk, Foxing spotlighted three standout tracks from Nearer My God. The quieter instrumentation pushed singer Conor Murphy’s starkly confessional lyrics and shattering delivery to the forefront, especially on the set’s opening song, “Slapstick.”

And even with minimal amplification, the swelling chorus of the title cut “Nearer My God” is just as impressive as performed during the band’s explosive concerts.

“Nearer My God” accentuates Murphy’s falsetto even further and the harmonies sound truly wonderful.  The opening is quiet but it builds really nicely to the middle section which features great drums from the almost never on camera Jon Hellwig.

The set ends with “Grand Paradise” the song that I think makes them sound most like TV on the Radio.  It’s terrific the way the music counterpoints the vocals. The end section of the song just overwhelms with impassioned vocals.  The ending sax solo is pretty cool too although there’ s a nice bass riff around 11 minutes and we don’t get to see Ricky do it.

This is a great set, although I have a little question over the filming–too much attention to the strings and not enough to the rest of the band.

[READ: June 5, 2019] “Conduction”

This is an incredibly powerful story of slavery and freedom.

The story opens with Hiram Walker departing Virginia.  He is a slave with fake papers and a route to freedom.  The writing is excellent.  You can feel the tension, the fear and the sense that anything could go wrong at any second.  Slave catchers, known as Ryland’s Hounds, were at every turn.

He saw the men who were supposed to help him but he couldn’t make eye contact.  The conductor looked at his false ticket which stated that he had recently purchased his freedom.  The conductor didn’t care and he was allowed on.

After two days, he met a contact whom he also did not know.  After one more silent ride, he was in a house in Philadelphia with members of the Underground.

He explains how he knew the white man who helped him as well as the black man named Raymond White who also helped him.  Raymond’s brother Otha was also there–he was more charming, more jovial than Raymond.

For the next few days he wandered the city of Philadelphia, a free man.  Unused to and somewhat unhappy with this new burden.  It was an unsettling feeling, one that carried great deal of responsibility. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 30, 2019] Foxing

I feel like I should have known more about Foxing.  They have a huge following and have played Philly many times, but I really didn’t know anything about them.

Their new album was getting quite good reviews.  But the more I read about them the more confused I got.  Their music was described as emo, post-rock, math-rock, and even chamber-rock.

So I listened to a few songs, didn’t really grab on to anything, and decided I’d stay for them anyway.

And holy cow were they amazing.

One thing the reviews never really talked about was how heavy and loud they are live.  I have since listened to their albums and they really sound nothing like the explosion of intensity that their live show is.  You can hear the kernels of the songs in their, but live, wow.

Like Now, Now, it was pretty dark on stage, but the lighting was much more interesting and welcoming.  I could actually see most of the band most of the time. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKPHISH-sets one and three (MGM Grand Garden Arena, Friday 10 31, 2014).

The previous Ghost Box posts explored Phish’s Set two of their 2014 Halloween show.  But the rest of the night was perfectly suited to Halloween as well.

The band wore white tuxedos and white face paint.

Phish played a night of songs perfectly suited to Halloween.  A rousing spirited “Buried Alive” is followed by a slow moody “Ghost.”  “Ghost” had a lot of fuzzy dirty clavinet in the middle section.  It was followed by “Scent Of A Mule,” which features the Halloween related lyric:

She said, “I hate laser beams
And you never done see me askin’
For a UFO
In Tomahawk County”

A little guy from the UFO
Came on out and said his name was Joe
She said, “Come on over for some lemonade

There’s some wild piano soloing and then

an interesting “Mule Duel” segment spotlighting Mike and Trey. Mike utilized a synth effect, which drove the crowd wild, while Trey threw in dark and droning notes of his own. The interesting section of the Mule Duel climaxed with Mike and Trey holding their instruments in the air and rubbing them against each other, which made for quite a wild scene.

There’s some sci-fi sounding menace which seems to migrate into a kind of Yiddish melody until the song returns to the main melody again.

It as followed by a quick and fun “Sample In A Jar” which segues into a 12-minute “Reba” (a perfect Halloween song, indeed).  There’s a wailing solo just before the whistling coda.   It was followed by an intense “46 Days” (Taste the fear/For the devil’s drawing near) with some great mid-song soloing.  And then the perfect Halloween song: “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars.”  The verses were really heavy and chaotic (musical nonsense from everyone as the noise crescendoed).  The song was particularly long at almost 3 and a half minutes.

Page then showed off lounge skills with a fun “Lawn Boy.”  He  took the lead mic and wished everyone a Happy Halloween and praised the great costumes.  Then after giving Mike a quick solo he had Fish do a very quick drum solo (he didn’t seem like he wanted to).  Next came another great Halloween song: “I Saw It Again”

When I wake in the night
(when I wake up in the night I’m pulled from my dreams)
Well, when something’s not right
I try not to look
(but the curtains pull open its breathing I hear)
For there is the shape
That I fear
And I’m fully woken
I saw it again

It had a great menacing feel to it with Trey’s wah wah adding extra sounds and the guys adding screams and cries during the choruses.  A funky “Tube” was next [You’re a portrait of your past / There’s a mummy in the cabinet / Are there no more arrows left?].  The set ended with a sprightly “Wolfman’s Brother.”  That opening piano note really snapped the darkness out of that previous ending.

Set two, was, of course the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House [narration by Laura Olsher; Sound Effects by Walt Disney Sound Effects Group].

The third set pretty much eschews the Halloween motif.  “Punch You In The Eye” kicked it off with a 9 minute jam.  Then came a jaunty cover of TV on the Radio’s “Golden Age.”  Midway through, Page jumped over to his Wurlitzer electric piano as Fish altered his beat ever so slightly over the course of the 11-minute song.  There were a few times when it seemed the jam had petered out, but Page kept the keys going until Trey played the opening riff of “Tweezer.”  “Tweezer” was only 10 minutes long, but mid song they made a turn towards a bright, dreamy chord progression and eventually landed on a bright “Heavy Things.”

The expertly executed segue between the two is well worth the re-listen.

The 11 minute “Guyute” seems a but slow, but the end riffing part is really fast and intense and the slow last verse is quite menacing.  Although it comes out of that song bouncy once again and sets the stage for an 18 minute “Sand.”  There’s some great soloing from Trey and some cool funky keys from Page.

Just when “Sand” had hit its peak, the band pulled back and embarked on a second jam. McConnell took the lead on “Sand”s second jam as it seemed the band never wanted to stop playing the song. As Page milked the clavinet, Trey delivered thick, dirty riffs.

There were a few funk breaks (with Mike’s watery bass) and at each pause the crowd responded with a “whoo!”  Near the end of the song, the band started rocking out some heavy chords (with whooos as needed).  And while the band jammed those chords, Trey started playing a riff that sounded suspiciously like “Tweezer Reprise.”  I love when the band is playing basically two songs at once.  Eventually they all joined in for a spirited run through of the song.

The roof nearly came off the MGM Grand Arena by the time “Tweezer Reprise” came to a close as the clock approached 1 a.m. local time.

For the encore, they played Leonard Cohen’s “Is This What You Wanted,” sung by Mike.  It’s interesting to hear this done not but Cohen whose voice is so distinctive.  The song contains the lines “And is this what you wanted, To live in a house that is haunted, By the ghost of you and me?” which fits the haunted house theme perfectly.  Despite thematic choice, it’s not an especially rousing encore.  Which is why the band had one more Halloween song in mind.

Page came out with his keytar, [“which once was owned by James Brown,”] for The Edgar Winter Group’s  “Frankenstein.”  It sounded great and Page’s keytar had some fantastic old-school sounds that fit the Halloween theme perfectly.

The band played for almost four hours that night.  Now that is a treat!

[READ: October 26, 2017] “Hallowe’en in a Suburb”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar comes The Ghost Box.

This is a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening) that contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

A collection of chilly, spooky, hair-raising-y stories to get you in that Hallowe’en spirit, edited and introduced by comedian and horror aficionado Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, on the inside cover, one “window” of the 11 boxes is “folded.”  I am taking that as a suggested order.

Tucked into the bottom of the box is an orange rectangle with the poem “Hallowe’en in a Suburb” by H.P. Lovecraft.

Typically I don’t find poems to be particularly scary.  It’s hard to make rhymes scary.  But Lovecraft does his creepiness pretty well.  This one is written in English Quintain style (A-B-A-B-B).

This poem is more a disturbingly supernatural description of the suburbs around Halloween. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 28, 2017] Blondie

When I saw that Blondie and Garbage were touring together (“The Rage and Rapture Tour”) I casually asked Sarah if she wanted to go.  It’s possible that Sarah was a bigger Blondie fan that I realized.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Blondie (I didn’t even realize that she grew up n the same town as I did!).  But I love The Best of Blondie and “Atomic” is one of my favorite songs from the era.  I believe that I even stood behind her at a Ramones concert in 1989, but alas I will never know for sure.  Retroactively I’ve realized just how important she was/is and I was pretty excited to see her live.

I knew that Shirley Manson loved Blondie but I didn’t realize he admiration was reciprocated.  I just read that Debbie Harry and Blondie asked Manson to deliver their induction speech upon entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a little over a decade ago. (more…)

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dec2014SOUNDTRACK: BOOGIE-Live at SXSW (March 21, 2015).

boogieAt this year’s SXSW, NPR had a showcase featuring 5 artists.  One was Courtney Barnett (see Saturday’s post).  The other artists were Stromae, TV on the Radio and Shamir.  I assumed that they’d be posting full shows from all the artists.  But aside from the Courtney Barnett show and two songs from Stromae, the boogie show is the only other one that we can view.

The first artist was rapper Boogie. Boogie is from Compton and he defied Compton stereotypes by not only not singing about gangs (well, he does but not as a gang member) but actually speaking about love and change. Like many rappers he has a weird tic (most seem to say Uh huh, yeah, but he says “wuh wuh” a lot). It’s a bit tiresome but not the end of the world.

I didn’t enjoy his first few songs because although his introductions to the songs were really nice—about love and respecting women while disrespecting bitches etc, I thought his lyrics were really poor.  Just a ton of repeated fucks and bitches. It was lazy.  And the second song “Bitter Raps” was just list of things he doesn’t like, which I also thought was weak—although may be the crowd enjoyed it.

And the beats weren’t all that interesting to me—I don’t really like the music behind West Coast rap so that’s a strike against it for me anyhow.

But by the end of his set I thought he really showed some good stuff.  “Gangbangin’” was a really good song (rhyming bullshit with pulpit was clever). “God Work” was also good, but “Oh My” was the best song of the night—a great chorus of “Oh my goodness” was funny but also effective.  Using his 5 year old son as a sample was also fun as the boy really enjoyed putting so words down for his dad.

By the end of the set with “The Change,” he had won me over, and while I won’t be listening to him again, I imagine he was a good warm up for the night.

You can watch his set here.

[READ:March 25, 2015] “Forbidden City”

I enjoyed this story a lot more than I was expecting to.  It’s not that I thought it would be bad, I just didn’t really have any expectations.  I barely know Dyer at all.  But it proved to be really enjoyable.  Although I feel like the ending was a bit of a let down (and how could it not be, with the way it was set up?).

James is a (British) author on a tour of China.  He has been to many cities in China and he is exhausted.  He had been to Shanghai and Beijing and he had been plied with many many drinks.  These combined with his jetlag to wipe him out.

He was being chaperoned by Min, the coordinator from his Chinese publisher and although she had done just about everything with him, she was relentlessly cheerful and up.  And on his last day the last thing he wanted to hear was that she had scheduled a tour of the Forbidden City.  He feared the well meaning and knowledgeable tour guide would bore him silly as they walked around the huge Forbidden City in stultifying Beijing heat. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PAT JORDACHE-Future Songs [CST076] (2011).

I love this Constellation release. It is one of my favorite releases of theirs in a long time.  This album sounds like a kind of TV on the Radio demo/tribute.  I don’t mean that in a knock-off way, but there are many elements about TV on the Radio that I recognize here (voice and musical style).  But the fact that a) Jordache plays all of the instruments himself and b) he keeps things simple, makes this an impressive release.

It opens with “Radio Generation,” which has a really cool bouncy guitar riff and bassline.  It doesn’t quite display the signature sound that I think of this album as having but it certainly points to it. “Get It (I Know You’re Going To) is where I hear the first signs of TV on the Radio.  Jordache sings with two voices at the same time–with his deep voice underpinning his higher voice.  It’s a great effect.  And the fiddly guitar bits are really interesting.

“Salt on the Fields” opens with some “wee ooh” vocals in a fairly high register but when the main vocals come in, they are processed and sound not unlike an old radio (and a singer who I can hear but whose name I can’t place) and then midway through, the song introduces a great guitar riff.  “Phantom Limb” features drums and looping from Merrill Garbus who I didn’t know when I first heard this album but who I now know is tUnEyArDs. And, heh, a little browsing tells me that they are in a band together called Sister Suvi.

“Gold Bound” feels more like a demo than the other tracks, it’s a very simple guitar melody with some echoed vocals.  It’s also the shortest song on here and it’s a nice change of pace.  It also ends with a strange excerpt from something else, a vulgar, rocking little piece advising you to run mother fucker.

“Song for Arthur” returns to that cool high-pitched ooo-ooing.  But “The 2-Step” changes things quite a bit.  An interesting processed guitar and loud echoey drums, but that voice is recognizably his.  There’s also more guitars than on other songs which brings a new texture to this album.

The final song “ukUUU” is a slow meandering piece. There’s some interesting sounds going on (reverse vocals and such) and a lengthy spoken piece about love, but it lacks the punch of the rest of the disc.

Nevertheless, this album is interesting, intriguing and a lot of fun.  I’m looking forward to more from him.

[READ: February 12, 2012] “Liability”

I recently saw that Narrative magazine picked three “30 Below” winners for 2011.  So I thought I’d see just what kind of short stories win their prizes.  This is the third place finisher.

I admit I was a little less than excited when I started reading the story.  It was written in second person, which I liked, but it seemed like a pedestrian story about “you ” and your wife.  How she is so beautiful and you feel you have let her down.  But my misgivings soon gave way.  And I think it was with this little section that won me over:

You crave energy and excitement, and to this end you have bought a beautiful condo downtown in the “bohemian quarter,” as the realtor pitched it, which means that it’s cheap enough for artists and poor black people.  That’s okay.  You love art and hate racism.”

By the middle of the next page, after the explanation of your wife’s job (guidance counselor in a poor school) we get to what turns out to really propel the story: “Although, to be honest, she has a small drinking problem.”  He diffuses this bold statement with a qualifier in the next paragraph: “But the drinking problem is only a problem sometimes, and the drinking problem is not a problem tonight.” (more…)

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I was not aware that this EP existed (I guess technically it’s a single).  It came out after their original EP but before their first full-length.

The title track is a rocking number with all kinds of cool keyboard noises strewn about.  This is clearly early template TV on the Radio.  “The Wrong Way” will appear on Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes and it shows a new noisy sound for the band–lots of horns and a reluctance to allow silence appear, there’s sound filling up every space.  The final song, “Modern Romance” feels like a B-side.  It is kind of slow and meandering.  There are a few interesting sonic bits but mostly they are overshadowed by a kind of monotony.

Not essential listening for the TV on the Radio fan.

[READ: December 29, 2011] Chew: Volume Four

It was delightful to get volume four of this series so quickly after finishing volume three!

As with previous issues, this one starts out with a quirky opening.  A series of shots of a chicken restaurant (Mother Clucker’s) thirty-five years ago, then twenty-five, then fifteen and then five (nice clientele drawings over the years).  And then finally we see it today, after the ban on chicken–a wasteland.

But this story introduces an entirely new element (which goes through the arc of the book.  Lights from (presumably) an alien life form fill the skies.  They spell out words in a language that absolutely no one can understand.  And it is so vexing that money is taken away from the FDA (the people who are fighting the chicken war) and put into NASA.

This first chapter also introduces a new kind of character: a man who is voresophic–if he is eating he is unbelievably intelligent. Of course, if this was your gift, how long would you be able to stay slim?

Chapter Two jumps us right into a NASA space station.  Just as it explodes.  A quick cut to a school (where Tony Chu’s estranged daughter goes) reveals a more down to earth problem.  Since the letters have appeared in the sky people have been acting weird.  And one technologically savvy boy, who has been picked on most of his school life is looking for revenge.  But is he responsible for the space station explosion as well?

Chapter three is wonderful for a couple of reasons.  First, Chu and John Colby are getting assigned increasingly dangerous missions (because their boss wants them dead).  It culminates in a hilarious scene at the USDA (a furious female army). Chu and Colby are the last resort.  If everyone else fails, they have a fall back so dangerous that it is classified.

Chapter four is amazing for opening with a series of scenes that are gruesome and awful and, as the narrator boxes keep repeating, never actually happen.  And that is because Tony Chu has been assigned to work with his twin sister Toni Chu–NASA bigwig and (unknown to anyone else, fellow Cibopath–she doesn’t tell anyone so she’s not treated like a freak like her brother).  It’s great to see the two of them work their magic.  And while I wouldn’t want it to replace the Chu/Colby team, it would be fun to see future pairings of these two.

Chapter five (this is the first book with five chapters!) opens with a wonderfully long sequence of Agent Mason Savoy (he never went away, he’s always in the background) sampling something amazing.  And we get several wordless pages of him processing what he has just ingested.

But the more amazing thing is that suddenly the letters in the sky simply disappear.  And there seems to be a cult leader who predicted this, right down to the minute.  The cult leader ingested scads and scads of gallsaberries when she was adrift at sea and it led her to the Truth.  And she has lots of followers who are willing to drink her Kool-Aid.

The book ends with two wonderful cliffhangers.  The first one is (mild spoiler, but not really since it will be dealt with in the next book) that their actions lead Chu and Colby to get fired.  The second one is that Mason Savoy has learned a special secret about one of Tony Chu’s relatives (remember we saw them all in that cool scene from the last book?).  And he takes advantage of that knowledge.

The series isn’t over by a long shot.  Awesome.

A couple other things, first off–welcome back Poyo!  I loved the faux story they created about his background and then the negation of said story.  Also, this books reintroduces the vampires that were mentioned early in the story and then kind of hidden.  I love when stories pick up threads like this.  And a final quick nod to all of the excellent little jokes in the margins of the pictures.  I read them all and I love them…keep them up!

For ease of searching I include: flambe

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