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Archive for the ‘Theatre of Living Arts’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 14, 2021] The HU

The HU are from Mongolia. I saw them in this same venue two years ago.  They haven’t released much in those intervening years, but I enjoyed the first show so much I wanted to see them again (plus, I was pretty delighted that they were back touring the States). on the left side in front of Temuulen Naranbaatar a.k.a. “Temka” who plays the tovshuur (a two or three string lute-like instrument).

But I knew I wanted to be on the other side for this show.  And so I set out to stand in front of Enkhasaikhan Batjargal a.k.a. “Enkush” who played lead morin khuur.  This was pretty exciting as I really got to watch him play the solos.

The two guys in the middle are the main singers.  Galbadrakh Tsendbaatar a.k.a. “Gala” is credited with “lead throat singing,” which I love.  His voice was incredible.  He also played the morin khuur with a gorgeously carved horse head at the top.  This instrument is two-stringed and you play it with a bow.

And Nyamjantsan Galsanjamts a.k.a. “Jaya” who was sort of the lead singer, although Gala sang lead as often.  Jaya’s main instrument was, fascinatingly, the jaw harp which played a significant role in several songs.  He also played the tsuur (a Mongolian flute).

There are technically four guys in the band, but for the tour they had four extra guys supporting them.  The touring guys mostly hung at the back, although occasionally the guitarist Jambaldorj Ayush a.k.a “Jamba” would come up front.   In the back on the left was Batkhuu Batbayar on bass.  Then there were the two drummers.  Sitting at the full kit was Odbayar Gantumur a.k.a “Odko.”  The final player, and one I could see occasionally was Unumunkh Maralkhuu a.k.a “Ono.”  Ono played two large drums.  Mostly they were an accompaniment to the main drum, but occasionally they were the only percussion.  Those drums resonated loudly. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 14, 2021] The Haunt

I was pretty delighted to see that Mongolia’s The HU were coming back to Philly.  I really enjoyed their set last time and figured they’d be just as fun this time.

This year’s opening band was The Haunt, who I’d never heard of (and it’s VERY hard to find them online because there’s all kinds of Haunt-named bands).

And here’s a fascinating bit of history

The Haunt, formerly known as AnastasiaMax are from South Florida. The band consists of siblings, Anastasia Grace Haunt (lead vocals), and Maxamillion Haunt (vocals, guitar and production), alongside Nat Smallish on bass guitar (formally Beach Day), and Nick Lewert on drums (formally Ethan Bortnick).

I can’t guarantee that those last two were the rhythm section.  he mentioned their names, but all I remember is that the drummer was nicknamed “waffles.”

I arrived in the middle of the first song (I hate the parking around TLA) and managed to get past the clustered people after a song or two.  But right from the start I was impressed with the sound of the song “Constant.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 5, 2021] Avatar

When Avatar announced they were playing TLA I knew I wanted to see them again.  When they opened for Babymetal, I was blown away by what a show they put on–for an opening act.  I imagined that when they headlined, it would be even more amazing.

It wasn’t more amazing (I was actually more impressed by their lights last time) but it was certainly a lot of fun–an even more fun since the audience was there to see them.

Their gear was set up and then a small drumkit was brought to the front of the stage (which was pretty unusual).  Then the five of them walked out and stood in a tight v formation.  After a lengthy pause with all five of them staring at us, drummer John Alfredsson began hitting out a loud snare beat.  Then the guitars started playing and singer Johannes Eckerström–dressed like a ringmaster, his face covered in white paint with (scary) clown makeup on–began singing the fantastic growling anthem “Colossus.”  The band played the entire sing in that tight V shape and from my vantage point when both guitarists played the same solo it was like a multi-armed beast on stage.

They followed that up with “Let it Burn” and then the stage went black.  The crew removed the tiny drum set and the band left the stage briefly while Alfredsson climbed up on top of his full sized kit.  When the band came back out they utilized the full stage and when they started “Silence in the Age if Apes” (the actual first song on the new album) the full synchronized headbanging extravaganza was under way.

Both guitarists take some time to show off, although never for too long.  In fact, when they started soloing, it was usually over by the time I had the camera ready.  Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström (“he’s single, ladies”) both took turns at the front of the stage.  Although it was Jarlsby who stood up front to play the slow pretty intro of “Bloody Angel.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 5, 2021] Magic Sword

When Avatar announced they were playing TLA I knew I wanted to see them again.  When they opened for Babymetal, I was blown away by what a show they put on–especially for an opening act.  I imagined that when they headlined, it would be even more amazing.

I was pretty psyched that the opening band was going to be Magic Sword.  I had recently been getting into their brand of instrumental 80’s sci-fi/metal soundtrack kind of music (I don’t really know what else you’d call it) and I was pretty excited to see it live.

There are three members: The Keeper (red, keyboard, audio-visual), The Seer (blue, guitar), and The Weaver (yellow, drums).  Oh yes, they are all masked (and not COVID masked, but like a fencing mask with a glowing light (in the above color) for the eyes).  All of their songs are pretty heavy with a main riff (and bass) coming from the keys (and sometimes guitar) and really heavy drums.  And then The Seer plays some extended impressive and super catchy guitar solos.

Every song feels like the exultant triumph of a cheesy 80s sci fi movie.  Which is not to say that their music is cheesy (it really rocks) but that it would be placed in a cheesy movie–and would sound great. (more…)

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[POSTPONED CANCELLED: January 30, 2021] The Fratellis [rescheduled from June 20, 2020]

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Unsurprisingly, this show was cancelled as well.  The lastest news is that shows might resume in the fall.  I have a  lot of shows scheduled for the summer, so they better move that forward.

I really liked The Fratellis debut album Costello Music.  There was nothing super original about it, it was just bratty guitar rock from a UK band.  They are actually Scottish, which makes them slightly more interesting, right?

Their songs were fast and rocking and often had something interesting in them–unexpected speed up or lyrical twists.

I had more or less forgotten about them. I just read that they “broke up” for a short while and then reunited and have released two albums since then.  I hadn’t heard any of those two.

I might have considered going to see them and now that the show has been moved to January, maybe I’d be free to check them out.

 

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[POSTPONED: June 20, 2020] The Fratellis [moved to January 21, 2021]

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I really liked The Fratellis debut album Costello Music.  There was nothing super original about it, it was just bratty guitar rock from a UK band.  They are actually Scottish, which makes them slightly more interesting, right?

Their songs were fast and rocking and often had something interesting in them–unexpected speed up or lyrical twists.

I had more or less forgotten about them. I just read that they “broke up” for a short while and then reunited and have released two albums since then.  I hadn’t heard any of those two.

I might have considered going to see them and now that the show has been moved to January, maybe I’d be free to check them out.

 

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[POSTPONED: June 7, 2020] Hyukoh / Hot Flash Heat Wave

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Hyukoh (Korean: 혁오) is a South Korean indie band.  Oh Hyuk is a well regarded indie rocker and this

I don’t really know all that much about them, but I have really been enjoying the kind of music that South Korea has been exporting lately.

Listen to how great “Wanli万里” is.  Excellent guitars, a great bass and relentless drums.  He even sings in English on the more mellow “Ohio.”  They released a new album in January and were planning to tour it here in the States.

Here’s their official word:

We have made the difficult decision to cancel HYUKOH 2020 WORLD TOUR – NORTH AMERICA due to increasing uncertainty regarding safety and travel feasibility caused by coronavirus. We are devastated to share this disappointing news, but we are currently prioritizing the health and well-being of our fans and tour crew above all during this unprecedented time. Refunds will be available from point of purchase. We are grateful for your continued support. Thank you.

코로나19의 전 세계적인 확산으로 인해 혁오 2020 월드투어 – 북미 일정이 취소되었음을 알려드립니다. 관객과 밴드 및 스태프의 안전을 위해 신중히 고려하여 내린 판단임에 팬 여러분의 너른 양해 부탁 드립니다. 감사합니다.

I hope they come back after their summer tour of Asia.

Hot Flash Heat Wave are from California (so not a local band tacked onto this tour).  I’m not sure how they got paired up with Hyukoh, but good for them.  They have a kind of trippy psychedelic vibe which is always fun live.

 

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[ATTENDED: November 25, 2019] Ice Nine Kills

I was unfamiliar with Ice Nine Kills until my son started talking about them.  Then his friend invited him to see a show at the Starland Ballroom on May 3 (Ice Nine Kills was not headlining–the lineup was Falling In Reverse, Ice Nine Kills, From Ashes to New and New Years Day).  So I was a little bummed that he didn’t go to his first club show with me, but it’s much cooler that he went with his friend.  He loved the show.

So when they announced that they were playing at TLA and headlining the Octane Accelerator Tour (a Sirius XM thing), I made sure we got tickets (even though it was a Monday night).

The show was (I’m exhausted just thinking about it) FIVE bands and started at 6PM (!).

The lineup was Ice Nine Kills, Fit For A King, Light The Torch, Make Them Suffer, & Awake At Last.

Since it was a Monday night, I knew it would be really hard to get there for the first band, so we decided we would assume we’d miss Awake at Last.  Then on November 5th, Make Them Suffer (who are Australian) announced:

Unfortunately we have had some serious setbacks with immigration, and were unable to secure the visas we needed in time for these shows.

TLA said the show would go on at the same time which was great for us since it meant we would get home about 30 minutes earlier.  I also figured I’d take my son for some good ol’ Philly cheese steaks before the show since Jim’s is just a few doors down.

We enjoyed out cheese steaks quite a lot and as we walked past the theater I asked the guy at the door which band was on.  He said the second band was on and since we had plenty of time, we decided to go to Atomic City Comics (which is a wonderful store).

We headed back to TLA figuring we’d be in the middle of Fit for a King.  But as we walked in, they were between bands.  The woman at the merch table said that ice Nine Kills was up in ten minutes!  We’d missed all of the opening bands! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 13, 2019] The HU

The HU are from Mongolia.  I first heard about them when their video for “Wolf Totem” was getting some buzz.  I loved their heavy sound and their gorgeous instruments.  I wish these pictures did justice to the intricate detail and coloring of these traditional(ish?) instruments, but the lighting was just awful the whole night.

There are technically four guys in the band, but for the tour they had four extra guys supporting them.  It’s hard to know how “necessary” the other four guys were, but honestly, the songs are so percussion-heavy, there’s no way that they could have made these songs without at least one drummer (two were even better).

The band has only one album out (so its pretty amazing that they headliners)  They played the whole album and jammed out some of the songs longer than on record.

The most surprising thing though was that the DJ from WMMR came out and introduced them saying that they played their songs on the station.  Is that possible?  That’s pretty amazing if they do.  He also made a pretty funny comment about talking to them all day (they speak almost no English), although they posted a picture showing that they took them axe-throwing which is pretty hilarious).

The four guys stood at the front of the stage. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 13, 2019] Crown Lands

Crown Lands are a duo from Canada.  As with a lot of rocking duos, they play riff-heavy rock.  But they change things around a bit.  In their bio they say they are huge fans of Rush, and while they don’t do anything as complex as Rush, you can hear the Rush influence all over their songs.  The size of Cody Bowles’ drum set, the little high hat fills, and some of the percussion.  And Guitarist Kevin Comeau plays a doubleneck Rickenbacker and some of the chord progressions are distinctly Rush-ian.  And yet you would never hear them and think you were listening to Rush.

Comeau plays guitar and bass pedals which add a really full sound to their live show.  Bowles has a really powerful voice with a truly remarkable range.  He can do Robert Plant/Geddy Lee high screams, he also has a lower register for the body of most songs.  And their stage presence is pretty great too.

The have two EPS out and are planning a finishing up a full length now.  Most of the songs from this set came from their unreleased record, and these songs are great. (more…)

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