Archive for the ‘The Met Philadelphia’ Category

[ATTENDED: December 15, 2022] Modest Mouse 

Last year, Modest Mouse was the first concert I saw after the pandemic. This year, Modest Mouse was the last concert I’ll see in 2022 (nothing dramatic about that, I just don’t have any more shows lined up until next year).

As I’ve said before, I wasn’t planning to see them.  In fact, I felt like I had seen them even more recently than last year.  But this was a special tour–the 25th anniversary tour of their album The Lonesome Crowded West, with a really stripped down band.  Last time I saw them, there were six people on stage (there were like nine the previous show).  This time it’s just a four piece: Isaac Brock and co-founder Jeremiah Green joined by (regular) bassist Russell Higbee and guitarist Simon O’Connor who played last time I saw them.

This meant a stripped down, really rocking show.  Which befits the far more stripped down and rocking sound of this earlier album. 

Normally I’m all about seeing the opening band.  But I’ve had a few liberating experiences lately where i have deliberately blown off the opening band and been pleased with the decision.  I hadn’t heard of the band Mattress.  I looked them up before the show and learned that Mattress is the project of Rex Marshall.  And that the act is pretty much Marshall wearing a gold lame suit and acting like an abrasive lounge singer.

I listened to a song online and decided that I did not need to stand through that.  Sidenote:  It reminded me a lot of Wetface the weird, is-it-a-joke band who opened for Built to Spill this summer.  I sat through that twice and consider that my penance.  (incidentally, I often think of Built to Spill and Modest Mouse in the same breath for some reason, so it’s interesting that they would have similar bands on this year’s tour).

So that mean I got to the Fillmore around 8:45.  The evening happened to be one of the rainiest nights in recent memory.  It rained hard.  All day.  I very much considered not going to this show because of the weather.  But I decided to go and drove through the terrible lashing rain.  I kinda thought that the rain might keep others away and, if I was arriving late, maybe I could get free parking at the the Fillmore lot.  Indeed no.  In fact, it was full.  So I went past the lot and immediately got lost in the bowels of the roads beneath 95.  Holy cow.  I drove for about 8 minutes in crazy rain knowing where I was but having not idea where I actually was.  I finally found my way to the casino for parking and hurries across to the venue only to find a lineup! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 19, 2022] Suede

When this tour was announced I practically screamed with delight.  It was listed as a dual headlining show with the bands switching who would play first.  It just happened that we had Suede as the second band and I feel that, given how exciting Suede was, we saw them in the right order.

The first Suede album (or The London Suede, if you must) is one of my favorite albums of all time.  It’s glammy and trashy and catchy and wonderful.  Brett Anderson’s voice is unique and magnificent and Bernard Butler’s guitar work was like nothing else at the time.  When Butler left during the recording of their next album, it seemed like curtains for the band, but young guitarist Richard Oates stepped in and is a force unto himself.  I still think of him as the new guy, even though he’s been in the band for over twenty years.

Suede broke up in 2003 and I guess I lost touch with them.  But they reunited in 2010 and have been putting out new albums ever since.  Although I wasn’t really aware of these records–they really fell off my radar.  I had never seen Suede live (and they haven’t toured the States in something like twenty-five years).  I looked at their European shows and saw that they were playing a lot of songs from the new album.  But I hoped that they would throw a bone for the U.S. fans and play some oldies too.

The band came out and set up their first song, a lengthy instrumental opening.  And then Brett Anderson slowly marched out.  He shuffled and danced and was surprisingly goofy.  I evidently didn’t know anything about Suede’s live show, because I wasn’t expecting anything like the way Anderson bounced around, crawled on the floor, and, yes, climbed into the audience and sang with us.  It was awesome. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 19, 2022] Manic Street Preachers

When this tour was announced I practically screamed with delight.

I saw the Manic Street Preachers 23 years ago.  And while I haven’t kept up with their releases, I have listened from time to time.  But their albums from the 1990s are some of my favorites of the era.  And I have never seen Suede and their debut album is one of my favorite albums ever.  They haven’t toured the US in about 25 years.  I bought a pit ticket and was pretty psyched.

I was quite surprised to find out that it hadn’t sold very well.  But the people around me were super into the show and knew every word to every song (which is more than I knew).

My favorite two MSP albums are Everything Must Go (1996) and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (1998) and they started off with a song from Truth, the roaring “You Stole the Sun from My Heart.”  The followed it right up with “Everything Must Go.”  I was so excited to find out that James Dean Bradfield still sounded amazing.  He hit some great high notes and was full of power.   Their touring musician (whose name I didn’t catch) added some nice deep backing vocals to the songs.

I was more or less in front of bassist Nicky Wire who was pretty chill–although he did wear a boa for one song.  He used to wear dresses or skirts, but he was just wearing a MSP T-Shirt.  He said a few things (he is known to be controversial), but I didn’t really understand anything he said. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 29, 2022] Death Cab for Cutie

This was our third time seeing Death Cab for Cutie.  They put on a remarkably good show every time.  I was telling S. I feel al little bad for saying that I don’t feel like there’s anything extraordinary about them–nothing that blows me away.  However, I like just about everything they do.  They fall into a perfect, sweet spot for me.  I love Ben Gibbard’s voice.  They write excellent melodies.  And, as it turns out, their live shows are fantastic.

The whole evening was marked by weirdness though.  As we arrive, while waiting at the corner, we saw a car hit a guy on a bike.  They were both moving very slowly–the car was turning the corner and the bike was slowing to the parking area right after the corner, and I guess technically, the bike drove right into the car. The rider was uninjured, the car was unscratched.  It was clear that everyone just wanted to move on with their lives and so off they both went.  All before the light turned green for us.

Then, in the venue, we avoided the tall dudes (so many really tall dudes!) and wound up standing by this foursome.  After a minute it became very clear that the one guy was really, really drunk.  And I predicted he was going to down sooner rather than later.  The two women in their group wound up supporting this guy physically for the entire show.   Rubbing his back, patting his shoulders.  And sure enough within two songs he was on the ground.  Although he got up before security could get him and them out of there.  Instead, they wound up with the (in my opinion) worst show imaginable for these two women who were trying to support this idiot instead of sitting him down or just going home.

Ah well.  The good news was that he never caused enough crisis for the band to stop and they were blissfully unaware of that minor drama. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 29, 2022] Thao

Initially the band Low was supposed to open for Death Cab for Cutie on this leg of the tour.  They had cancelled for health reasons (drummer, singer Mimi Parker is battling cancer).  I haven’t liked a lot of Low stuff (they’re a bit too slow for me), although their newer stuff is a bit noisier and more fun.  And obviously I hope Mimi is okay.

But I was pleased to see that Low was being replaced by Thao.

I have known about Thao Nguyen for years.  She was primarily known as the leader of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down.  She dissolved the band earlier this year (no idea why) but has been playing shows with new band members.

She just goes by Thao now and she knows how to control an audience!

We missed the very beginning of her set (we were a little late getting there and then we forgot that the GA area has to go through the far door, so we had to go in and back out before we could really enjoy her set).

Thao was up front in a cool white suit and she sang with the intensity I knew she had.   She also played a wicked guitar, which I did not know she did.  During one of the songs (I don’t know titles), she played a spectacular, noisy guitar solo while the rest of the band jammed around her.

Her band includes Micayla Grace who played an amazing bass guitar (she was all over the fretboard creating wondrous sounds).  Lilah Larson played guitar and keys and seemed to be making sounds out of nowhere.  And her drummer Jon Sortland (who also plays with The Shins) was amazing.  He created rhythms and stacked them on top of rhythms and they all worked perfectly.  Considering he just got off of tour with the Shins a few days earlier, the fact that he could do such amazing stuff with Thao is really impressive.

And then there was Thao herself.  She dedicated a song for a woman’s right to choose.  She played a great song (called “Oh No” I believe) which not only had great audience participation (this side sings Oh No!; this side sings “But I loved you the most,” but which also seemed to have two parts–a really rocking section and then a slower part that built and built.

She also serenaded us with a song that she wrote for her wife, which I believe was “Marrow.”

She ended with a song I knew, “Temple,” a catchy song that looks back at the fall of Saigon.

She played a great set and I would think she’s be amazing as the headliner.

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[ATTENDED: September 27, 2022] The Mars Volta

Back in 2000, I loved At the Drive In.  I was bummed when they broke up.  However, they split into two bands: Sparta (the more streamlined guys) and The Mars Volta (the wacky prog rockers).  I was pretty psyched to hear TMV and their debut album De‐Loused in the Comatorium was amazingly weird and cool.  I also really liked the follow up Frances the Mute, but kind of lost track of them after that.

They broke up at some point and that was that.  Guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López went on to do a million projects (like playing with Teri Gender Bender) and singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala has appeared all over the place in bands and as a guest.  i didn’t really give them much thought until they announced a new song and tour.  So I pulled out De-Loused and remembered how much I liked them.

This tour was apparently designed just for me, since most of the songs were from De-Loused and Frances, with one song from the other albums and two from the new one.

The light show was pretty great.  They had squares of light bulbs that illuminated shapes and showed various LED colors.  Not to mention super bright strobes and lots of searching beams of colors.

More impressively, Omar Rodríguez-López’s guitar was even better than I had remembered.  He did a few segments were he just soloed for two or three minutes that never felt showoffy.  And, actually, even more impressive than that was Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s voice.  He can still hit those incredible high notes.

They opened with a song that has a lengthy moody opening.  Omar played soundscapes and solos and then Cedric started singing the slow trippy opening.   And after about ten minutes of that and me thinking…huh, is this the kind of stuff they are gonna play, they shifted gears and launched into the ferocious 7 minute “Roulette Dares” from De-Loused.  This song has more shifts and turns than you can count.  As well as the super catchy “Exoskeletal junction at the railroad delayed” impenetrable lyric.

They jumped to later in the album for “Eriatarka” a slower (at first) song that jumps and pounds with frenetic energy. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 27, 2022] Teri Gender Bender

Teri Gender Bender is the lead singer for the band Le Butcherettes who I know from an amazing Tiny Desk Concert nearly a decade ago.

I was supposed to see Le Butcherettes a few times.  They were supposed to open for Chicano Batman, but had to change as each show was rescheduled.

So I was pretty excited to see Teri Gender Bender who has put out a lot of music in addition to Le Butcherettes.  I wondered exactly how she got involved with The Mars Volta for this tour, then I found out that she was in a band with Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-López, called Bosnian Rainbows.   Indeed, he was also in Le Butcherettes.

As the set wore on and she introduced the band, it turned out that he was on stage with her during her set as well!  (In a pink suite with his hair in a wild pompadour).

Her band was set up in a kind of old school trio–bass and guitar behind little podiums with shiny fabric on them and a drummer behind her.  She introduced the other two musicians, but I didn’t catch their names.

The band came out and started jamming and after a minute or two Teri Gender Bender came out on stage.  She is a true performer, standing in fascinating poses, screaming intently her passionate lyrics and stalking around the stage.

The music was kind of dancey but with flairs of anarchy.  But it was all in support of Teri.  She was focused and intense as she got on the floor, contorting he body while she sang.

Between songs, she addressed the audience in Spanish (she was born in Denver, but her family moved to Mexico when her father died).

Her energy was unmatched and I wnjoyed the show.  Although I would have enjoyed it more if I knew the songs better.

  1. córtate el pelo
  3. action
  4. talking about you
  5. ya no soy
  6. MJ Ø

Ø olivia, she wanted me to leave her alone (2022)
∏ madre would not allow it though (2022)
∞ you were truly the one that made us laugh (2022)
⊗ leaving her to be was just not an option (2022)
¶ pestering became a virtue (2022)
⇑ The Get Up (2022)

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[ATTENDED: September 1, 2022] Kurtis Conner

My daughter (and apparently my son, too) loves Kurtis Conner.  They kept saying his name as if I had heard of him.  I had no idea who he was at all.  Turns out he is a YouTuber with a billion fans.

My daughter tells me that they Holy Trinity is Kurtis Conner. Danny Gonzalez and Drew Gooden (whom he has toured with in the past).  But without doubt, Conner (whose name is so simple and yet sound confoundedly hard to spell correctly with that K and the e) sits on top.

So what could Conner possibly do if he has made his career based on commenting on YouTube videos (or something).  And, I wondered aloud to both of my kids if I would enjoy this gig or not know what he was talking about.  I decided not to watch anything before hand s that I would have no expectations whatsoever.

So I glad I didn’t read this review beforehand

A big aspect of Conner’s set was integrating some of his classic jokes from his videos into his in-person stand-up punchlines. Of course he did it flawlessly, and I — along with everyone in the theater — loved it. Because prior knowledge of his jokes is needed, though, many of his references wouldn’t be understood by someone who didn’t watch Conner’s YouTube.

I have to say, aside from a few times when he said a line or catchphrase that people applauded (and I had no idea why), there was nothing about his show that I didn’t get.  And, best of all, I thought he was really funny. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 1, 2022] Dean Hebscher

My daughter (and apparently my son, too) loves Kurtis Conner.  They kept saying his name as if I had heard of him.  I had no idea who he was at all.  Turns out he is a YouTuber with a billion fans.

When he announced a tour, my daughter begged to go.  But most of the venues were far away.  Then he announced Philly and how could I say no?

We had seats in the high balcony–it didn’t seem like the kind of show you’d need to be super close for.  A short time before the show, my daughter’s friend was able to get a seat in the same row.  So I drove them both and then they sat together and I sat next to a group of twenty-something girls–not awkward at all.

After the Jacob Sharpe set, we didn’t have to wait long for Dean Hebscher to come out.  That’s one thing that comedians have over bands–no need for set up time.

So it turns out that my daughter tells me that Jacob Sharpe is cool but Dean Hebscher is not.  She wished we had missed Hebscher’s set.  (According to Conner, Sharpe and Hebscher are his best friends).

Hebscher’s set was a little different.  He talked about growing up in rural Canada.  He talked about how his school had a “kick the ginger day” (there was one red-haired kid in school).  He pointed out that it wasn’t school sanctioned (that’s pretty funny) but everyone knew about it through facebook.  I did rather enjoy when the poor ginger kid got his revenge (also through facebook).

I think I enjoyed the set up of his jokes more than the actual jokes themselves.  I enjoyed when he talked about being a camp councellor when he was like 16–barely a few years older than the kids he was supposed to watch.  But he got bogged down with when the kids found the jets in the pool stimulating.  In act I felt lik e alot of his jokes got bogged down in a kind of sexual trajectory that he mined for too long.

I did rather enjoy an absurd story about when he was young and waiting to get into a club.  He was on a long line and farted essentially on the girl behind him.  The line was really close and she was knocked back by the horrible smell.  She spent the whole time that they were waiting to get into the club announcing that this guy in front of her had farted on her.  There was a nice payoff later too.

These jokes were clearly polished but they felt very anecdotal, like he was thinking of details as he went along.  For better or worse.

I liked his set but not nearly as much as the other two.

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[ATTENDED: November 19, 2022] Jacob Sharpe

My daughter (and apparently my son, too) loves Kurtis Conner.  They kept saying his name as if I had heard of him.  I had no idea who he was at all.  Turns out he is a YouTuber with a billion fans.

When he announced a tour, my daughter begged to go.  But most of the venues were far away.  Then he announced Philly and how could I say no?

We had seats in the high balcony–it didn’t seem like the kind of show you’d need to be super close for.  A short time before the show, my daughter’s friend was able to get a seat in the same row.  So I drove them both and then they sat together and I sat next to a group of twenty-something girls–not awkward at all.

We wound up leaving later than I wanted to, and as we got to the exit, it turned out that President Biden had been in Philly and the exit was blocked off!  Traffic was terrible and I wasn’t sure how we were going to go around to a new exit when the police just pulled away and let us use the exit.  So our timing was actually perfect–any earlier and I’d be driving around who knows where.

But we stilled missed much of Jacob Sharpe’s set. (more…)

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