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Archive for the ‘Theatre of Living Arts’ Category

[ATTENDED: November 23, 2022] Jinjer

I saw Jinjer almost exactly one year ago to the day.  It was also the night before Thanksgiving (that’s kind of weird, no?}

When they announced this show I bought a ticket immediately.  Last year, there was no war in Ukraine.  There was no crisis or concern.  This year, I wanted to support them and their country.  I didn’t even really pay attention to the rest of the bill.

Which turned out to be Space of Variations–a Ukrainian band that I hadn’t heard of but who I have since hear were excellent.  Vended–featuring two children of members of Slipknot and which sounded like it would be loud and unrelenting.  And P.O.D. a band I thought was Christian and who I thought was long broken up.  I didn’t want to see any of these other bands (well, maybe Space of Variations).  And I didn’t want to spend two and a half hours standing around listening to bands I didn’t really want to hear.

So I thought I might not go.  But I listened to some Jinjer and decided that I did want to see them after all.  Especially when I saw that they were playing “Pisces” on this tour (which they didn’t play for us last time). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 26, 2022] Band-Maid

I’m not exactly sure how I heard about Band-Maid, but I’d only heard of them very recently.  It seemed like a joke: a Japanese metal band made up of women who dressed like Japanese maids.  Like Babymetal had gotten popular with a gimmick, so they’d try it too.

But evidently that’s not the case.  Turns out that in 2013 Guitarist/singer Miku Kobato, formerly an employee of a Japanese maid café, envisioned forming a band that juxtaposed the maid image with rock music.  She found lead guitarist Kanami Tōno after an Internet search. Tōno suggested her occasional backing drummer Akane Hirose for the new band. Hirose knew about bassist Misa from music school.  Originially Miku was going to sing, but they decided to get another singer and so they audtioned and hired Saiki Atsumi.

And while Babymetal existed in 2013, they didn’t really take off until late in that year.  So we can stop the comparisons now.

Band-Maid’s first album was kind of pop metal, but they soon added a much heavier tone on New Beginning.  And they have only gotten heavier since, with Unleash sounding especially heavy.

For this tour, in addition to playing at TLA, they were also playing at the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park in East Rutherford, NJ.  This certainly sapped some of their cred, I felt.  And yet some other well established bands have also played there.  So I guess good for them.  I would have happily gone there is I could find anything about what the venue is like.  Is it in the mall?  How is the sound?  No idea.

So I bought a ticket to TLA which had not yet sold out.  It had sold out by the day of the show.  Like with Metric I coudln’t find out if there was an opening band.  It turned out that there was not.

So when I arrived at five to eight, the place was packed.  I had hoped to get kind of close, but i was about as far back as you can be (fortunately TLA is not a big place).  Interestingly, while I was standing there at least three men walked by in full maid costume.  And standing next to me was another man in full whit maid costume.  I really wanted to ask him if he made it or bought it or what, but then the lights dimmed.

And one by one each member of the band came out and the crowd went berserk.

Now I was there out of curiosity, but this show sold out because people really like them.  A lot.  People (mostly men, judging by the deep voices) sang along (mostly to the oh ohs, since the words are in Japanese, but they knew exactly when they went).

After an orchestral intro the band ripped into “Sense,” their new single.  And holy cow, it was intense.  There were screaming guitar solos (I was bummed that I couldn’t really see Tōno because she kind of hunches when she solos, but she sounded amazing.  Even more so, Miku was fantastic on bass–playing little solos and slapping.  This was even more evident on “Play” where there were little breaks and she played some intense little riffs.

I was also blown away by drummer Akane Hirose who pounded the drums and played some really impressive fills and complex patterns.  She also did a drum solo (!) during “FREEDOM.”  It wasn’t long or tedious–just really highlighted what she could do back there.  Tōno also had a few shredding moments during this song.

The two leaders of the band are clearly Miku and Saiki Atsumi who were both more brightly lit than the other three (this may have been a stage issue, rather than intentional).  Saiki was dressed in black (it was a little hard to see the maid part of her outfit, but then I’m no expert) and had a great voice.  Miku is striking in her white maid outfit (with black trim).  She played a wicked guitar (some serious riffage in 2020’s “Different” and sang a few songs as well–in fact she hits some really high notes a few times.

She was also the main communicator.  She talked about being happy t o finally be in Philadelphia.  I THINK this was their first time playing Philly.  She brought the house down by saying they all went for cheesesteaks.  Do you like cheesesteaks?

Saiki left the stage and the band launched into “Onset” a great instrumental that showcased how great all four musicians were.  With heavy chords, grooving bass and Tōno’s finger tapping solos I could have listened to this for the whole show.  They followed that with yet another instrumental, “from now on” which opens their new EP Unleash.  This one feels more operatic in scope–but is no less heavy–with soaring solos.

Things slowed down briefly for the ballad “Sayonakidori.”  It’s a lovely song sung by Miku.  And works as a transition to the stage craft to come.

Because the middle of the set is full of what I gather are improvised set pieces.  For instance, there is Misa’s “opening ceremony.”  She opens a can of beer and proceeds to chug most of it.  “Misa likes beer.  You like beer?” [indeed we do replies the crowd].  Miku has an “Omajinai” Magic Spell Time in which she has the crowd chant along with promised world domination. and even a chant of cheesesteak!

Later, Akane devoured an entire banana in the spirit of her “Gorilla” moniker.  And when the crowd started chanting “banana” Miku asked uncertainly, you want the banana?  So Akane signed the peel and threw it to the crowd.  Tōno and Saika also gave a Japanese lesson. She taught us 大丈夫でしょう[Daijōbudeshou] which means “It will be ok.”

“Choose me” is an older single.  You can certainly hear the way the band has evolved over the years.  It was followed by “Endless Story” yet another song with a catchy sing along.   “Daydreaming” starts off like another ballad, but it quickly rips away that quiet intro with a catchy riff (and a clap along).

That was it for the older songs for a bit as they played the newish song “Influencer.”   This song features lyrics in English, rapping and some wicked bass solo work.  “After Life” comes from their last LP and is one of the heaviest songs of the set.  “Unleash!!!” from the new EP also has some English lyrics and is heavy as anything.

After about half way through the set, people stopped videoing everything and I was able to get a few decent pictures–especially when they stood on the monitors.

The final two songs “NO GOD” (which features a wicked guitar solo, a slapping bass solo and a Woah oh oh oh sing along part and even a melodramatic quiet moment just before the end) and “DOMINATION” kept up the intensity as the show came to a satisfying end.

It was a super fun hour and forty-five minutes.  The mood in the place was one of a delightful party.  There was no moshing that I could see (even though Philly crowds will mosh to anything), but there was dancing and bouncing and clapping.  There were more people in cosplay and a group of people in the back who were waving bright orange lights around (no idea).

And while I am usually all about supporting the opening band, it was pretty nice that they didn’t have one.  And I was back on the road by 10PM.

I came to the show not really knowing what to expect.  And I’ll say that I would absolutely see them again in East Rutherford if I was free.  The show was that good.

  1. Sense Ω
  2. Play Ø
  3. Don’t you tell ME
  4. FREEDOM ß
  5. Different §
  6. alone ß
  7. onset [instrumental bonus from ©]
  8. from now on Ω
  9. Sayonakidori
  10. Choose me §§
  11. endless Story ©
  12. Daydreaming Ø
  13. influencer Ω
  14. After Life
  15. Unleash!!!!! Ω
  16. NO GOD
  17. DOMINATION Ø
Ω Unleash EP (2022)
∞ Unseen World (2021)
§ single (2020)
© CONQUEROR (2019)
Ø WORLD DOMINATION (2018)
√ Just Bring It (2017)
§§ single (2017)
ß Brand New MAID (2015)

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[CANCELLED: September 23, 2022] Andrew W.K./Uncle Dan [moved from September 24, 2021]

Andrew W.K. had this show rescheduled pretty quickly after cancelling his 2021 tour.

But then it was also cancelled.  I don’t really keep up with his goings on, but as far as I can tell he has maintained complete media silence.  No idea what’s going on with the guy.  Hope all is well and that he and his new wife and baby are doing well.

(more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 17, 2022] Daði Freyr

Daði Freyr has been in Eurovision twice and that’s how I know him.  He hasn’t won, but he won the hearts of many.  He was the leader of Daði & Gagnamagnið and was due to represent Iceland in Eurovision in 2020 with the song “Think About Things.”  But the event was cancelled and he was invited to represent them again in 2021 with the song “10 Years.”  They came in fourth place.

He is a goofy guy for sure–he is super tall (6 ft 9.9 in) with quite a deep voice.  In the performances his band was quite humorous dressing in identical sweaters with pixilated images of themselves.  Back then the group was his sister Sigrún Birna Pétursdóttir (backing vocalist), wife Árný Fjóla Ásmundsdóttir (dancer), and friends Hulda Kristín Kolbrúnardóttir (backing vocalist), Stefán Hannesson (dancer), and Jóhann Sigurður Jóhannsson (dancer)—known as “Gagnamagnið”. Gagnamagnið, while translated to English as “the Data”, literally means “the amount of data”, and is the Icelandic word for “data plan”.

But for this tour it was a trio–he is on synths, with percussionist Ylva Øyen and guitarist Pétur Karl rounding out the trio.

His videos are exceptional-he really has the visual side of things down perfectly.  I wasn’t sure how he would translate live, but I had to take the opportunity to see him.  He was not only a great, engaging frontman, he was very funny as well.  He told us that he has to stop moving his microphone stand so much, so if he did we should yell Hey!  But not in a mean way.

He started with “Thank You,” a classic synth pop song.  His voice is surprisingly deep and yet very warm at the same time.

He stood between two small synth rigs and sang “thank you for being fabulous, wonderful, and nice.” It was earnest and catchy.  But he immediately started joking with us since the next song was called “Shut Up” (nothing personal, he assured us).  “Shut Up” had a disco feel with the slinky guitars.  The song ended with him pointing to everyone pretty much individually and quickly singing Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 17, 2022] Meet the Bug

When Daði Freyr announced his U.S. tour, I grabbed a ticket right away.  i wasn’t sure if there would be an opening act.  And it wasn’t until a few days before the show that it was announced that Meet the Bug would open.  Who is Meet the Bug?  We’ll let their bio explain:

Meet the Bug is the solo endeavor of Philadelphia-based bedroom pop polymath Cariahbel Azemar. Her latest EP Beet The Mug is “a vibey meditation on keys and glimmery vocals that tackles heavy childhood trauma from the perspective of an emerging artist realizing the power of her voice.” Azemar uses her songs as a sort of diary, cataloging the highs and lows of coming into adulthood as someone who is both on the spectrum and ADHD.

Born in Port au Prince, Haiti and raised in the Georgia suburbs, Azemar began taking classical piano lessons at the age of four. … While at a performance by one of her primary inspirations, Cavetown, Azemar noticed someone she knew in the opening band – meaning, to her, that maybe she could do this, and so she shall. Thus Meet The Bug was born. Coinciding with the start of the pandemic, Meet The Bug’s early focus was her YouTube channel, where she mostly posts covers and originals. Now an active member of the Philly DIY community, Azemar can be found performing in house venues, bars, and cafe’s about town. Most recently, she played support for Daði Freyr at the Theatre of the Living Arts in Philadelphia.

Clearly this went up after I saw her.

Her set was delightful.  Lyrically the songs might have been a little dark, but they were more angsty and hopeful.  But she sang with a gentle voice and, best of all, nearly all of her songs were played on a ukulele–a fairly large ukulele (maybe a small guitar? but i think it had four strings).  This gave her songs a kind of sunny vibe. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 11, 2022] Animals as Leaders / Intervals

Animals as Leaders is a trio that plays loud, complex progressive metal.

I saw them a few years ago and was blown away.  Although I didn’t like the crowd very much, and wanted to see them again at some point.

Of course, this show conflicted with two other shows the same night and then we went on vacation, so there was not a chance here.

Intervals is a Canadian progressive metal band. I’m sure I would have liked them as well.

Maybe some other time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[ATTENDED: April 6, 2022] Mogwai

Back in 1997, my friend Lar was living in Ireland and we would send each other CDs of songs we liked.  He even sent me a couple of UK (etc) only Mogwai singles.

I’m fairly certain he had seen them around this time.  Or at the very least he was aware of their live shows being raucous and loud with endless versions of songs like “Like Herod” where the feedback roared on for twenty minutes.

Well, here it is 25 years later and I still hadn’t seen them live, but they were still going strong.  Actually, I have a ticket stub for them in 2001, but I have no recollection of the show.  I was also supposed to see them in 2017, but a freak snowstorm kept me home.  It was probably the right decision, but I hadn’t forgotten it in five years.  [Either way according to setlist, at neither of those shows did they play “Like Herod”].

And the band did actually wait the 55 minutes to start at 10PM.  Good heavens.  It was so long that the guy next to me passed out (this is the fourth show that I’ve been to where someone has passed out).  He was fine and they walked over to the door to get him so air.

I was right up front (2nd from the fence) and had a perfect view of center stage.  Which was only a shame that Stuart Braithwaite, the defacto leader of the band set up shop on the side of the stage.  Between me and he was a very tall man with a lot of hair.   Bummer. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 6, 2022] Nina Nastasia

I had not heard of Nina Nastasia before this show.  And, placed between Ye Gods and Mogwai, I never expected her to be a pleasant, if rather dark, folk singer.

She released her first album in 2000 and put out records pretty consistently for ten years.  Then she stopped and now has a new album due out in July.

Her bandcamp site is quite confessional (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 6, 2022] Ye Gods

Ye Gods has an amusing name.

It is the project of Antoni Maiovvi, apparently.

Also apparently, Antoni Maiovvi has released music under about a dozen names like: Ye Gods / Jason Priest / Pleasure Model
Half of: Homoagent / Acid Vatican.

According to his bandcamp page,

A project born in Bristol in 2006 and developed in the bohemian dystopia of Berlin from 2009. Antoni Maiovvi walks the line between retro-synth and horror soundtracks for both real and imagined films.

This was his first stop on the Mogwai tour.  When he came out, he had a table with a whole bunch of electronic gear on it.  From where I Was standing I could see his laptop, and although it’s was 100% clear, I was pretty sure I could see the progress bar streaming across the screen.  And indeed, when it reached the end of the last block, the music ended.  So that’s pretty interesting

Essentially, he created a 30 minute block of music and put it in his laptop.  Then he had all kinds of buttons and knobs and he modified the songs throughout–mostly adding wild effects and pitchshifting.

He also sang (and screamed) into his mic.

It was catchy and dancey and he seemed really really into it.

I wonder if it would have been more enjoyable from further back?  If the sound was better back there. Or maybe seeing how the sausage was made was a little weird?  Either way, it was fine and it was fun to see him as he made the sounds, but I felt like with a name like Ye Gods, it might have been a bit more fun.

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[ATTENDED: February 1, 2022] Mother Mother

I I had never heard of Mother Mother before a few months ago.  They have been around for over fifteen years, but recently a few songs from their 2008 album blew up on TikTok.  Because I have teenagers, I found out about them second hand.

And I fell in love with the frenetic guitar and lyrics of “Hayloft,” which led me to explore more of their music.

Way back on April 29 of last year, I bought four tickets to this show for me, my kids and a friend.  It seemed like it would never get here.  Then it seemed like it might get cancelled or postponed, but it did go on, although not exactly as planned.

When I bought the tickets, the band was playing The Foundry.  The Foundry is an amazing intimate venue that hold 450 people.  I was super excited that they were there because whenever I’ve seen a band there, I’ve practically gotten to high five them.  So I was a little bummed when in December it was announced that they’d moved the show to TLA.  TLA is bigger (and I usually have a hard time getting there, but it was great tonight).  Of course, this is great for the band, as TLA holds 1,000 people.  And it sold out, so they doubled their attendance.

It also turned out that Mother Mother puts on a BIG show.  Big lights, big sound.  They used the whole stage.  And The Foundry’s stage is like the size of a dining room table, so the show would have been nowhere near as amazing. So good for everyone. (more…)

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