Archive for the ‘Union Transfer’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 18, 2022] The Black Angels

The Black Angels are a psychedelic band from Austin, Texas.

I’ve known about them for about ten years.  Their music sounds pretty similar from album to album–fuzzy guitars, catchy riffs and Alex Maas’ recognizable haunting voice.

I Wasn’t really sure what to expect in a live show from them–I assumed some psychedelia.  So I was a little surprised at how stripped down their stage was.  There was a five panel screen and some vertical lights between them.  The l ights shone all different colors and patterns and set the tone of the stage.  The overhead lights were mostly there to add mood.

In other words, I could barely see anyone.  Which was kind of cool.  It created a dark ambiance and meant you focused more on the music than the band members.  The only person I could see with any real clarity was drummer Stephanie Bailey, who pounded the hell out of the drums.  The other three guys, Christian Bland, Jake Garcia and Ramiro Verdooren all played guitar or bass or keyboards.  There was so much switching around of instruments–even though both Bland and Garcia play left handed guitars!

I stood in front of Bland and it was really fun watching him solo and riff and make some really interesting sounds out of his pedals and amps.  He had a bicycle bell on his mic stand (the roadie rang he bell while setting it up), but he never used it in the set. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 18, 2022] The Vacant Lots

The Vacant Lots are two guys from Brooklyn.  And wow are they loud.

The two guys are Jared Artaud who played guitar and sang and Brian MacFadyen who did pretty much everything else.  MacFayden stood at a keyboard rig and played keys and drum loops (I’m not exactly sure what was looped, as some of the songs were repetitive, but it was clear he was trigger some drum sounds live.  He also played a cymbal, which was a nice live touch and meant that he was never not busy.

The music was essentially electro, but Artaud’s live guitar added a layer of “live-ness” that elevated the whole affair.  As did Artaud’s whole vibe.  He had on big black boots, a fringed jacket and sunglasses.  He stood there playing Jesus and Mary Chain kind of drone guitar and it worked a treat. He also walked around a bit and added some feedback, really cementing the live feel.

But it was MacFayden’s rig that was so loud.  The drums were maxed out and echoing and I had earplugs in from the get go.

I slightly preferred the songs that MacFayden sang, but they weren’t radically different from each other.  I don’t think I’d listen to them as a studio band, but live they were pretty great.


  1. Departure (single)
  2. Never Satisfied ψ
  3. Consolation Prize ©
  4. Thank You ©
  5. Fracture
  6. 6 AM ψ
  7. Mad Mary Jones ψ

© Closure (2022)
⇔ Interzone (2020)
ψ Departure (2014)



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[ATTENDED: October 6, 2022] Cate Le Bon

Cate Le Bon has been on the top of my “bands to see list” for a few years now.  I have tried to see her a bunch of times to no avail.  In 2019, I sold Phish tickets so that I could see her at Boot & Saddle, but i was too burnt out to go.  Then in 2020, she was supposed to play with Kurt Vile, but that got cancelled twice.  She was scheduled to play Philly for a benefit show, but I didn’t want to see her in that kind of setting.  So, although I guess it has not been that long that I’ve wanted to see her, but prior to 2019, the last time she’d played Philly was 2017, and I feel like I found out about her right around that time. 

Whatever the case, I’d heard her shows were amazing and was really looking forward to it.

I went into the show not knowing her music all that well.  I knew a few albums and had listened to Pompeii (the new album which I knew she was touring), but I expected to be blown away by the performance.

And I wasn’t.

The whole show was fine.  The band (Euan Hinshelwood on sax, keyboards and guitar; Toko Yasuda on bass; Dylan Hadley on drums; and Alex Morrison on keyboards and guitar) were all very good.  There was a little too much sax for my liking, although I did enjoy the way Hinshelwood distorted the sound so it sounded like a guitar at times.  Toko Yasuda on bass was the highlight for me.  Her bass sounded great–ever fluid, deep and rumbly and just a nice low comforting presence amid all the rest of the higher notes.

I enjoyed the stage set up with Cate on a slightly raised platform off to the side (although I had adjusted myself to perfectly see the center microphone and there was a larger guy now blocking my view of Cate).  She mostly played a day-glo orange guitar shape as a sort of pentagon.

I think what it comes down to is that I think that Cate is pretty weird.  And I expected this concert to be weird in a wonderful way.  And really, it was just fine.  The lighting was muted colors.  Her voice is soft and chill.  It was all very laid back and mellow.  And that is simply not what I thought we’d be getting.

Obviously, this is my fault for having the entirely wrong expectations.  Not to mention her newest album Pompeii is pretty different from her weirder earlier stuff–the stuff that I was more familiar with.

Sometimes, you need to see an artist right when you first wanted to.


  1. Miami
  2. French Boys
  3. Pompeii
  4. Daylight Matters
  5. Moderation
  6. Running Away
  7. Typical Love *
  8. Mother’s Mother’s Magazines
  9. Magnificent Gestures
  10. Rock Pool ®
  11. Sad Nudes
  12. Mug Museum ϖ
  13. The Light
  14. Home to You
  15. Remembering Me
  16. Harbour 
  17. Dirt on the Bed
* single (2022)
¶ Pompeii (2022)
√ Reward (2019)
® Rock Pool EP (2017)

ϖ Mug Museum (2013)

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[ATTENDED: October 6, 2022] A. Savage

A. Savage is the main voice behind Parquet Courts.  His deadpan deep voiced delivery is pretty recognizable.

As a solo artist, he plays slightly quirky folk songs.

I knew this show wasn’t going to sell out, so I didn’t buy tickets ahead of time.  I actually had tickets to see Turnstile this even in Asbury Park, but I didn’t feel like that kind of show.  So I blew that off and came to see Cate.

Traffic was a little heavy and I wound up arriving midway through A. Savage’s first or second song.

I had listened to his solo album earlier in the week and I knew pretty much what to expect.  And that’s what I got.  Enjoyable enough folkie kinds of songs.

He is a funny performer with good banter.  After the first song I saw he said something like By the way this is it–just me and the guitar–nothing else is going on.

I really like Parquet Courts for how weird they are.  But this show was not weird at all (except for some of his lyrics).  He is a great guitar player.  Nothing fancy, no solos that I recall, but very solid rhythm with the ability to make the songs feel really full even though it was just him.

I happened to not love his slow delivery, though, so the set was just okay for me.

  1. Unknown new song
  2. Buffalo Calf Road *
  3. Pulcinella (Parquet Courts cover)
  4. Wild, Wild, Wild Horses
  5. Winter in the South *
  6. Elvis in the Army
  7. Unknown (new song)
  8. Phantom Limbo *
  9. Minor Strummer
  10. Ladies from Houston *

* Thawing Dawn 

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[ATTENDED: September 4, 2022] Built to Spill

I know that a Built to Spill show is going to be great.  But sometimes the crowd makes it hard to enjoy.  I was fairly sure this show would be poorly attended, and yet there were a lot of (drunk) people who knew Built to Spill very well.  Are they more popular than I realize?

I had seen them just four months earlier, but the opportunity to see them again at the reasonably close SteelStacks in Bethlehem meant that I was going to see them again.  I enjoyed his new lineup.  This is the third, possibly fourth lineup I’ve seen play with Doug.  Melanie Radford is now on bass (she also plays in Blood Lemon) and Teresa Esguerra on drums.

I love that Esguerra was on the side of the stage facing the other two (that’s how his band was set up with the previous trio as well).  This allowed for Esguerra  and Radford to communicate with each other while Doug was jamming.  And they had outstanding chemistry.

I hadn’t really gotten to see Radford much during Blood Lemon, but she totally let loose with Built to Spill.  Her bass playing was great and her sound was outstanding.  She also seemed to create some of the second-guitar melodies (instead of the bass lines) to make the songs sound even fuller. And then she would jump back with her hair flying a smile on her face.

I had seen Esguerra with Prism Bitch, but she was even more impressive tackling songs that I knew.  She was fast and powerful and seemed to be the engine pushing the songs forward not just keeping pace with them. (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: June 27, 2022] Purity Ring / Dawn Richard [postponed from May 13, 2020 and April 21, 2021 and November 12, 2021] 

This show came and went.  I never got tickets and never wound up going.

I heard really good things about the show.  And I have put them on my list of bands to see when they come around again. 

I’m not sure what kept me away–sometimes, you just don’t feel like going outside.

It’s a cool poster though.


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[POSTPONED: June 16, 2022] They Might Be Giants [rescheduled from March 13, 2020, September 8, 2020, April 15, 2021 and March 22, 2022 moved to January 12, 2023]

COVID is over, right?  Let’s rock, right?  What could go wrong?

Never, ever, tempt fate:

Hello –
We have some unfortunate news to share, John F from TMBG was in a serious car accident after their show last evening. The upcoming Philly show (and next two months of their tour) is now *postponed* to some time later in 2022.
Unreal, right?  Things were finally looking up for our intrepid warriors.  And then this.
Greetings from the hospital. I am writing to you with my glasses a crumpled memory, while under a thick cloud of pain medication. In spite of that, I wanted to write to all of you to explain what exactly happened to me.

Last night in a car service on the way my to my apartment after the magnificent Bowery Ballroom show, I was in a rather dramatic car accident. Crossing into an intersection, our car was t-boned by a vehicle going at a very fast speed. The force of the impact actually flipped our car over to its side. While the driver and I oriented ourselves to our new sideways, broken glass and airbag-filled reality, we sensed the ominous smell of motor oil and smoke. Remarkably, just a moment later it seemed, a dozen NYC firemen arrived and set their minds on finding a way to liberate us. To them and the fantastically efficient EMS who whisked us to a trauma center, I will be forever grateful.

While sitting in the CT scan machine, I was working out how much more time I would need to get to DC for the next show in my diminished state. When I explained my plan to the doctor, he explained I had broken seven ribs (a majority of the ribs on my right side) and some of them in multiple places, and I wasn’t going to be anywhere but in a bed for the foreseeable future.

While the pain in my side has only gotten worse since, it is my heart that is really breaking over these events. The entire band and crew have been working so hard to create a new show worthy of your interest and your endurance over these miserable COVID years. Last night was such a victory, and with unplayed new songs in the works and rearrangements of older material with the horn section, it was all feeling like a new beginning. But today I am in the hospital. I would understand anyone thinking we are just a band born under a bad sign and giving up hope, but I also know someday we will rock again —and for me, that day couldn’t come soon enough.

Until then I will be watching reruns of Sex in the City until I am strong enough to reach the remote. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.


Fifth time’s the charm?

After what seemed like a wholly sensible rescheduled date of March 22, 2022, the virus reared its head again, and TMBG decided to push things back one more time.  This time they broke their tour into small chunks to avoid having to cancel a huge tour in the future.

Hello everyone. We have rescheduled all of our Spring 2022 shows. The new batch of shows begin in June and run all the way to May 2023 (proving that 2020 is the first year to last for three!).

And the venue has added

Hello! Thank you for purchasing tickets to see They Might Be Giants. We know that this has been a journey and after two+ years their long awaited tour will finally happen! The Philly show scheduled for March 10 has been moved to June 16 2022.


This show was originally scheduled for March 2020 and it now being rescheduled to March 2022.  It’s hard to believe that it will be two years.

So, with no opening date in sight, this is where we ask you for a big favor. Without a doubt our biggest expense has been refunding tickets for shows with new safe dates in 2021/2022.  The They Might Be Giants show has been officially moved to March 10 2022! With a date this far out, it ensures there will be no issues with TMBG touring and most important – we are near guaranteed to have a safe and normal show (finally!)

This was one of the first shows that was postponed because of the coronavirus.  The new date was scheduled very quickly and, as it turns out, too soon.

Now, like most shows, it is being pushed back about a year from its original date.  Boy I hope it holds out.

I am still very much looking forward to it.  Don’t give up on us yet, Johns!

March was going to be a very busy concert month for me.  This was to be the first of four shows in five nights.  This show was going to be for me and S.–a night of They Might Be Giants performing Flood!

It turned out to be the first of dozens of shows cancelled or postponed by the coronavirus.

Obviously, my main concern is for everyone’s safety, including the bands!

My selfish concern though is that once the shows are rescheduled that all of these shows will be scheduled on the same day!

Let’s hope the rescheduled dates also do some social distancing.


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[ATTENDED: June 11, 2022] Superchunk [moved from March 2, 2022]

I saw Superchunk four years ago.  It was my first time seeing a band that I have liked for decades.  They have put out a ton of music and I don’t know all of it, but I still enjoyed their set a lot.

Enough to see them again when they put out a new album this past year.

Last time, they played a ton of stuff from the then new album (8 new songs).  This time, for whatever reason, they played only five songs from the new album and the rest of the set was chock full of songs from throughout their career.

Indeed, they played 21 songs with only 7 duplicates (and I think we’d have been upset if they didn’t play those seven).

The band was, like last time the (nearly) original members: Mac McCaughan of course on vocals and guitar, Jim Wilbur on guitar (he joined after their first album) and Jon Wurster on drums (he joined after the third album)–they’re bonafides!  The only one missing was bassist Laura Ballance.  She plays on the albums but because of her hyperacusis, she no longer tours.  So, on bass we had Jason Narducy who has played with anybody who is anybody. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 11, 2022] Torres [moved from March 2, 2022]

This was my forth time seeing Torres play.  I was excited to see her open for Superchunk, but I was (obviously) even more excited to see her play as a headliner.

The headlining gig was great, and I was curious to see how much it would differ when she opened for a well known but not huge indie band.  Especially since she is not exactly the same type of music.

Her new album is a love/lust letter to her new wife and in a close setting like Johnny Brenda’s she explored the album in great detail.  But her she was able to rock it out with amazing intensity.

She switched her setlist a little to open with the more rocking “Are You Sleepwalking” and followed it with the slower opening “Don’t Go Puttin’ Wishes in My Head” (even though it is ultimately even more catchy). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 3, 2022] Kurt Vile & The Violators

Since the last time I saw Kurt Vile (2018), S. has become a huge fan of Kurt and his music.  So when he announced he was touring, and would be ending his run in his home town, of course we grabbed tickets.

I had seen Kurt playing in New Jersey four years ago and he was a delight.  He switches instruments almost every song.  he doesn’t talk a lot, but he seems to be having a really good time and is happy that we’re there with him.

It was amazing that he played almost none of the same songs tonight that he did four years ago.  True he had two new albums to showcase since that time, but even the older cuts were mixed up (except for his biggest hit which I couldn’t imagine him not playing and “Waking on a Pretty Day”).

Kurt is pretty much exactly what you get on record–his delivery is pretty much the same, his guitar playing is the same.  he comes across as the most natural performer you’ve ever seen.  Like he literally just walked in and started playing.

I am a huge fan of some of Kurt’s songs.  I love “Loading Zones” and could listen to him play that song for ages.  (more…)

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