Archive for the ‘Underground Arts’ Category

[DID NOT ATTEND: May 11, 2023] Voivod / Imperial Triumphant

I saw Voivod play back in 2019.

I’ve been a fan of Voivod for decades.  But I never saw them live when I was most into them (late 80’s).  Then after Denis “Piggy” D’Amour’s death in 2005 I assumed I never would.  But amazingly they found a guy who plays guitar very much like Piggy did–a bizarre hybrid of prog, metal, dissonance and eerie harmony.  That man is Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain.  Chewy is able to play Piggy’s parts.  And his new parts are very much in the style of old Voivod, but are certainly his own.

I was pretty excited to go to this show.  I wanted to see them again (although Underground Arts seemed rather small for them).  But for one reason or another I never got a ticket.  And the show cam and went and I missed it.

I was actually more interested in seeing the opening act, Imperial Triumphant, an American experimental metal band formed in 2005 in New York City.  I’m intrigued, especially, because they wear these wild costumes on stage.  Their sound is abrasive and weird.

I do hope to see them at some time.

And Voivod again too.

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[DID NOT ATTEND: April 27, 2023] Fucked Up / Gnawing / Restraining Order

I saw Fucked Up back in July of last year and never thought they’d be back again so soon.  Of course they are super prolific, so why shouldn’t their touring schedule be, too.

I was really excited to see them again because the last show was intense and a ton of fun.

But I wound up doing a ton of yard work during the day (I had taken the day off from work).  And by the time it was time to go out, I was exhausted.  I even felt asleep during the show hours, so it’s probably best I wasn’t driving.  But it sounds like they’ll be back soon enough.

Gnawing describes themselves as a loud rock and roll band that wishes they were a country band.  They come across as more of a sloppy indie rock band from the 90s and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Restraining Order is pretty much straight up hardcore punk.  They would have been a fun opener.

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[ATTENDED: April 11, 2023] Sleaford Mods

I’ve been aware of Sleaford Mods for a few years.  I enjoy them a little more in theory than in reality.  It’s a little aggressive for me and Jason Williamson is a little too angry for my tastes these days.  But I still thought they would be fun to see live.

When Sheer Mag was done, the roadies cleared out everything from the stage–amps, gear, banner.  Everything stripped out.

There was nothing on the stage when Andrew Fearn came up with a table and a laptop.   Then they brought up a microphone.

And that was that.

So what the heck is this band all about?

Sleaford Mods have described their work as “electronic munt minimalist punk-hop rants for the working class.” Williamson is responsible for the words, Fearn for the music. Sleaford Mods songs have been described as embittered rants about such topics as unemployment, modern working life, celebrities and pop culture, capitalism and society in general. The lyrics usually contain profanity, which is, according to Williamson, the way in which he speaks and “not just fucking swearing.” Fearn’s music has been described as “purgatorial loop[s]” of “pugilistic post-punk-style bass; functional but unprepossessing beats; occasional cheap keyboard riffs and listless wafts of guitar.” Williamson’s voice on Sleaford Mods songs is sprechgesang, rapped with an East Midlands dialect.

So they don’t really do rap.  But they kind of do.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 11, 2023] Sheer Mag

I saw Sheer Mag about ten months ago. So this was my third time seeing them.  It’s always funny to me how I see some bands a lot without really trying to, but bands that I really want to see I hardly get the chance.

There are bands that I love that I have now seen as many times as Sheer Mag, a band that I enjoy, but don’t need to see again.

The first time I saw them, I said

They play a terrific swagger-filled hard rock (comparisons to many riff rock bands of the 70s abound).  And they are fronted by bad-ass singer Tina Halladay whose gritty voice sounds quite a bit like some of high-pitched male singers of the era.

They have a new album coming out soon.  And they may have played some songs from it–there were a few that sounded different from the ones they usually play.

They are certainly an odd opening band for Sleaford Mods.  Tina joked that the pairing made sense because Sleaford Mods are British and Sheer Mag are a bunch of cunts.  So there ya go. (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: April 5, 2023] Deerhoof / Hello Mary / Scarlet

Deerhoof is one of the weirder indie bands out there.  Their songs have no real sense of standard structure or melody.  They jump from notion to notion, seemingly on a whim.

I haven’t listened to them a lot, although I always like to know they’re still making weird music.

They’re the kind of band that would be really interesting to see live.  One reviewer on Soundkick puts it much better than I could

There sound is also so fascinating because they love playing around with polar opposite musical elements, testing how they clash and complement each other. Singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s voice has a characteristic sweet and child like innocence to it; however it is often bizarrely paired with abrasive (sometimes borderline frighting) musical accompaniments. Deerhoof is also a band that has a rich understanding of pop music; however they will take it into their own territory: perverting it, capitalizing on its charm, and most importantly using it as a way to mess with the listeners anticipations.

Deerhoof is one of the most unique bands around and it is a wonderful experience to see them perform live. Their music is simply incomparable. In a way it is a mystery how they get such interesting sounds when using very conventional instrumentation. When I saw them live for their “Breakup Song” tour they performed their entire set using only a guitar, bass, drum set and microphone. I was mesmerized throughout the performance. It was one of the few shows I have attended in which I was absolutely absorbed in the music. They switched from songs like “Apple Bomb” which was a more contemplative track featuring fantastically odd chord changes to newer songs like “There’s That Grin”. “There’s that Grin” has to be the catchiest Deerhoof track written. I couldn’t believe how perfect they performed it live either. This is a song that features extensive use of synthesizers and yet it sounded just as good performed on the guitar and bass. Their drummer Greg Saunier also has one of the greatest improvisational styles I have seen in a long time.

I wasn’t really intending to go to this show until I saw that Hello Mary was opening.

The New York trio’s self-titled full-length debut, out March 3, is a blast of distorted chords, sunny harmonies, and all-consuming angst that will renew your faith in the hopelessly dated and/or timelessly classic sounds of alternative rock. Hello Mary is an instant contender for 2023’s most bracing entrance to the stage, sharp and self-assured. Oh yeah, and the band’s two founders — singer-guitarist Helena Straight and bass player Mikaela Oppenheimer, both 18 — just graduated from high school this summer.

I have since listened to the album and I love it.  I sure hope they tour soon, maybe as a headliner.

Scarlet is a terrible name for a band.  While looking this band up, I found at least three possibilities because there are at least three bands with this name.  One is a hair metal band, the other is a grunge goth band and then there’s this one, which I assume is the right one (there’s no way to tell really).

The band that I think this is–they make the most sense–is the band from Brooklyn (this one) who I rather like.  There’s droning guitars and feedback–grunge guitars and soft vocals (a la 90s indie rock).   Probabaly because I just saw Versus, tis band reminds me of them somewhat in style. It’s pretty great.  I hope this is the Scarlet that was at this show.

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[DID NOT ATTEND: March 18, 2023] White Reaper / Soul Blind / Mamalarky

I was intrigued by this show because I’d heard some good things about White Reaper.  But when I listened to them I wasn’t all that impressed.  But then WXPN started playing their single “Pages” and I really like it.

At some point I realized that I wasn’t going  to be able to make this show, so I haven’t listened to anything else by them so I didn’t know if I was missing out on something I really wanted to see.  Now that the show’s over I’ll give them a more proper listen.

Soul Blind was originally listed as on this bill, but it appears that they didn’t play.

A review describes them as:

Soul Blind is a four-piece group from the Hudson Valley, creating a fuzzy blend of shoegaze and alternative that takes inspiration from bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Third Eye Blind, and Deftones.

Aside from Third Eye Blind, I think I’d enjoy their set.

I had heard of Mamalarky on NPR Music.  Their single was a boppy weird thing that I kind of liked.  But I knew that the rest of their sound could have gone in many different directions.  The singer is from Cherry Glazerr.  According to the program they said they wanted to make a psych pop record but not from “60’s dude band.”

I feel like this whole show would have been really fun.  Probably best I didn’t find out until after it was done.

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[DID NOT ATTEND: March 10 & March 11, 2023] Marco Benevento / Mike Dillon’s Punkadelic ft Nikki Glaspie & Brian Haas

I saw Marco Benevento at Ardmore Music Hall about a year ago.

His shows are so much fun.  He’s a fantastic performer and his band is terrific.

The fact that he was playing two venues within easy driving distance of me seems like a no-brainer in terms of me going to see him.  And yet, I felt that I needed a week without shows since i have a bunch coming up.

Sorry Marco.  I still love you. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 24, 2023] Otoboke Beaver 

I saw Otoboke Beaver back in October and since they decided to swing through Philly again, I immediately grabbed a ticket.  The show sold out a few days before it happened (good for them).  And this venue is twice the size of Johnny Brenda’s (from 300 to 650 capacity) so even better for them.

There were several rules up on the wall before the show.  Basically they didn’t want people on stage (understandable) and they didn’t want people taking their setlist (this one I still don’t get) and no posting videos to YouTube (although Instagram is okay–I don’t quite get that either but whatever).  This also meant t hat there was a barrier up between the band and the stage (unusual for Underground Arts).  Sadly this meant that guitarist Yoyoyoshie would not be crowd surfing.  Of course, I didn’t arrive early enough to get that close anyhow.

Nevertheless, I had a pretty good spot up front, but as soon as they started playing, the mosh pit started and I got pushed off to the side a bit.  And by the end of the show I was all the way off to the side in a not especially great place.  That kind of sucked because they are so much fun to watch that I was bummed I couldn’t see them from the front.  But it was neat being near bassist Hiro-Chan who plays barefoot!

They sing (almost) exclusively in Japanese so I can’t really tell which song is which.  And most of their songs are short and fast so who knows what they played (again, not seeing a setlist), but it doesn’t matter because their whole set is about fun-wild fun.

One thing that really impressed me was that before one of the songs, singer Accorinrin stood with her arm raised and the whole band waited for her to begin.  The crowd, not taking the hint, whooped it up, but she was clearly waiting for silence (I understand Japanese audiences are very quiet between songs).  She stood and waited (like a teacher), until eventually she lowered her arms in a quiet gesture and everyone was quiet.  Their songs are very tight and need to be coordinated well.  As soon as their was silence, she was able to start and everyone was in synch.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 24, 2023] Gladie

Otoboke Beaver had a different local band open for each of their shows on this tour.  After the show I spoke to Gladie and they were really psyched to have been chosen to open.

This was actually the fourth time I was supposed to see Gladie.  Most of the shows they were opening for someone and the show as postponed due to COIVD. So I was glad this one actually came through.

They don’t quite fit musically, but they were an excellent warm up.  Gladie are a Philly-based band that was created out of the ashes of other Philly-based band.  Singer Augusta Koch was the singer of beloved band Cayetana, who I only really found out about as they were breaking up (and who actually only put out two albums!).

The band also has Matt Schimelfenig and some other people who may or may not have been on stage that night.

Augusta Koch is clearly in charge of things.  She is a fun frontwoman and made some funny comments about the show.  She was saying how much she loves Underground Arts and how much it reminds her of the club in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (that’s pretty accurate). (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: December 1, 2022] Pond [rescheduled from January 12]

I saw Pond back in 2018 at Union Transfer.  The show was really fun and the crowd was really intense.

I was surprised that they’d downgraded their tour to Underground Arts this time.

I’m not sure what didn’t inspire me about this show as my recollection of the previous show is petty positive.  And it has been four years.

Well, maybe next time the come I’ll go to that one.

Opener Cryogeyser says this about themselves on their bandcamp: “Three piece from Los Angeles. Cute.”

Flood Magazine writes that

 Distortion and reverb are their friends, but none of their music feels consumed or overwhelmed by such effects. A mix of dreampop, shoegaze, and grunge, the LA-based trio balance their stone-heavy rhythmic section of bassist Hunter Martinez and drummer McCoy Kirgo with the swirling melodies and heaven-reaching vocals of singer-guitarist Shawn Marom.

Their music is quite stark and spare, though for all the reverb.  There’s also a sense of 50s girl group about them.  I’d be curious to see how that translates live.

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