Rolling "How Was the Show" Thread

edited August 2009 in Live Music
I always love hearing folks' reviews of shows that they go to and have personally kept a brief review of every live show I've been to, so I thought I'd start a thread where we can report on shows that we see. If no one else wants to join in, no biggie, but I know I'd enjoy hearing about what you all are seeing!

Anyway, last night the wife and I went to the Red Stag Supper Club Block Party and saw some Twin Cities acts (all of which are on eMusic and/or Amie).

The first band we saw was Black Blondie a female R&B/Pop act. They are a four piece with vocals, keyboards, bass, and drums (only the drummer is male). It's not necessary my favorite style, but they were quite enjoyable, and the lead singer has some serious pipes. Plus they used a stand up electric bass for most of the show, and anyone who uses a stand up bass is cool in my book. My favorite song of theirs is Dressed to Kill a Mockingbird, which they started the show with. They only have one track on eMusic, but their most recent album is still quite cheap on Amie: Link. I'd give their performance a B-. (I strictly apply the A=Great, B=Good, C=Average, D=Poor, F=Fail scale, so a B- isn't bad.)

Next up was Romantica, a Folk/Americana type band that has long been a favorite of mine. The lead singer/songwriter is originally from Ireland, but has been in the Twin Cities for about 15-20 years. Another four piece with the standard guitar, rhythm/slide guitar, bass, and drums lineup. They played one of my personal favorites The National Side, but not the other Ixcatan. About half the show was new stuff off an album that is hopefully due out in October (according to their merch sales guy), and if the album is as good as the live performances it should be a good one. They aren't on Amie, but their 2007 album (which I highly recommend) is on eMusic: Link. Last night's show gets a B, the music is higher, but the stage presence just isn't where it needs to be for a higher grade.

The last band we saw (there were others on the bill) was hip hop group Heiruspecs. I've seen them before, and they never fail to bring it. They play with a full band (sometimes even with horns), and last night it was 2 MCs, keyboard, guitar, bass, and drums. Original member and bassist "Twinky Jiggles" wasn't at the show last night because his father was getting married, but the fill in did an admirable job. MC "Felix" is an excellent hip hop front man, and MC Muad'dib is a phenomenal beatboxer. They played a number of my favorites including Guns and Knives and Not You then closed the show with probably my overall two favorites 5ves and Get Up. All I can say about this group is if you get a chance to see them, do it. That goes even if you aren't really a hip hop fan, because they are simply a fantastic live act. Their best LP is on eMusic: A Tiger Dancing, but I also strongly recommend the compilation Ten Years Strong that is still cheap on Amie: Link. They get a solid A for last night's show.

We also caught a couple songs of ELO cover band ELnO, but not enough for me to review.



  • Well, I may the only one who posts in this thread, but I'm doing it anyway!

    Last night we caught night 4 of Dan Wilson's 5 nights at clubs around Minneapolis. The solo artist/Semisonic lead singer/Trip Shakespeare singer/Grammy winning songwriter from Minneapolis is doing a (I hate this word but he keeps using it) 'staycation' were he is playing solo acoustic sets this week. An audio interview with Dan about the tour and a few songs are here. We saw him at The Dakota Jazz Club with Ben Kyle (the lead singer from Romantica discussed in the first post) as the opener.

    Ben Kyle - Played some good Romantica songs, but he just isn't to the point yet where he seems comfortable controlling a room with just an acoustic guitar. Once he gets some confidence up there by himself though I think he'll be good at this type of thing.

    Dan Wilson - He is such a pro. Absolutely had the audience in the palm of his hand. He played solo stuff and Semisonic songs (unfortunately no Trip Shakespeare), used a ton of crowd interaction ("jazz" clapping on FNT from Semisonic's Great Divide album, call and response chorus on Baby Doll from his solo Free Life album, and a couple of others), and generally was a star. This was the first time I've seen him solo, but I've seen him with Semisonic a couple of times. He is highly recommended in any permutation.

    Afterwards we picked up a copy of Dan's new live double CD Live at the Pantages and had him sign it. Also had Ben Kyle sign Romantica's first album. I'm a huge autograph geek so both of those made me happy.

  • Craig,

    Thanks for sharing! I'm going to hear St. Vincent and Andrew Bird in New Orleans next week at Tipitiana's. I will try to report back then. Indie (actually most) musicians often skip Louisiana or come on a Tuesday, so it's been hard to get to hear everyone I want to hear.

    Oh and thanks for the Twin City CD earlier this summer.
  • Not a problem! I've been enjoying yours as well!

    Definitely report back on the St. Vincent/Andrew Bird show. Bird is on the shortlist of artists I need to get to see at some point. I'll be seeing The Gaslight Anthem next Saturday so I'll have a post about that, and next month it's The Mountain Goats!

  • edited September 2009
    Keep 'em coming. I've been sidelined from live shows since my baby girl came along, but am hoping to break out of the slump to see Andrew Bird and St. Vincent - she kept playing NYC on my nights to be in charge but the Philly show is a possibility now.

    Oh, and John Darnielle is awesome live.
  • Babies will do that I'm sure. My wife has a friend who is due in two weeks and shewas saying they were looking forward to going to shows again after the birth. That confused us.

    I hear Darnielle is fantastic, so I'm very much looking forward to it.

  • edited October 2009
    Hit The Gaslight Anthem last night at The Cabooze (a loooongtime location where even Elvis played). The show was supposed to be last April (with The Heartless Bastards), but a band member got sick the day of the show. Unfortunately, new openers this time, but still a good show.

    The Loved Ones - We arrived at the end of the first opener (a solo British guy) so this was the first band we saw. Pretty standard high energy Green Day style nu-punk for one song after the other. Not bad, but not really good either. The one interesting song they played was when they brought out the cello player for the next band and actually played a song at a different speed than every other song they played. They get a C-.

    Murder By Death - Rockibilly/Punk with a cello. Very interesting musically (I'll likely check out their stuff on eMu), but the balance was so off that I have no idea what the lyrics were and that hurt their performance a lot. The one time I could make out the lyrics was on a solo cover by the front man of "Bang Bang", and that was an excellent song. The interesting music gets them a B-.

    The Gaslight Anthem - How these guys can perform this show everynight is beyond me. Just an absolute barrage of high energy rock 'n roll. I highly recommend seeing them. The only negative was that their setlist made no sense. They blew through all their biggest songs in the first 10 or so, which left them with one of their slower songs, a cover that I didn't recognize, and one of their early songs that was requested from the crowd (that they said they'd likely mess up) for the encore. They should have left me wanting more, but instead I was ready to go. That drops them to a B+.

  • Worked all day yesterday painting a Habitat for Humanity house. My reward last night? Sore shoulders and The Mountain Goats with Final Fantasy at the Cedar Cultural Center!

    Final Fantasy - I'd heard bits and pieces of Owen Pallett's stuff, but nothing more than that so I wasn't really prepared for how interesting and great his show would be. Watching him on the violin (and on about half the songs a multi instrumentalist) create and loop samples on the fly was fascinating and really impressive. Add to that an almost impish stage presence and the show was a lot fun. I highly recommend Final Fantasy if you get a chance. Grade is a B+.

    The Mountain Goats - Everything I'd been told about John Darnielle's live performances was absolutely true. Absolutely amazing show. A few of the highlights of the night:

    Playing a few songs backed only by Owen Pallett on violin.
    When audience members started shouting out requests, someone yelled "do a back flip!" This caused Darnielle to tell a story about watching wrestling alone as a kid and attempting to do a back flip off his parent's bed. He says that as he was the only one there it was a perfect back flip.
    "Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace" - I didn't think this song could be more disturbing than it already was. It will now haunt my dreams. In a good way.
    Someone requesting "Minnesota" and Darnielle launching into a story about how he doesn't like to play songs named after a place in that place because it feels like pandering. He compared it to listening to a live album as a kid and noticing that on track 3 they say Cincinnati has the best fans, but on track 7 they say it's East Lansing, MI. He believes that is also the time people realize there is no god. He then played "Minnesota".
    "Psalms 40:2" and "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" back-to-back. That was a rockin' twosome.
    A second "not an encore" of just an acoustic version of The Hold Steady's "Positive Jam". He didn't remember all the words and had to stop a couple of times to have the audience remind him of a line.
    "This Year" of course.

    This was a top five show for me. Absolutely great. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to look at him the same way again, though, after my wife leaned over to me and said "he looks like a muppet rock star." She's right!

    The Mountain Goats get an A+.

  • I just found this thread, great idea. I wish I'd kept a brief review of every show I've ever seen, or at least a list of shows. I started saving ticket stubs about 15 years ago, but my first concert was in 1979 (Styx w/April Wine, I do remember that one!) and many have undoubtedly faded from memory. I was looking through my pile of ticket stubs a few months ago and was shocked to find that I'd seen Radiohead in 1993 or 1994, touring on their first album. They opened for two other bands and I know I was there but have absolutely no recollection of seeing them.

    Anyway, on October 14 I saw Them Crooked Vultures (Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones and Josh Homme) at the 9:30 Club in DC. They are releasing an album this month, but I hadn't heard any of the songs before the show (nor had anybody else in the sold-out crowd, other than what they might find on YouTube). It was an interesting experience to see a headlining band without having any idea what they'd play, but it rocked so hard it didn't matter.

    John Paul Jones is one of my favorite bass players of all time, so there was no doubt I'd be there from the moment I heard about it. He surpassed even my lofty expectations. JPJ played four string bass, six string bass, slide bass, keyboard, electric mandolin, and even a keytar (!?) on one song. I could have done without the keytar, but he was the best musician in Led Zeppelin and he'll probably be the best musician in every band he ever plays with. Dave Grohl is simply the most powerful drummer I've ever seen. It's hard to describe how cool it is to see a drummer just pound his drums into submission for 90 minutes -- I could feel the drums as much as I could hear them. I'm not a huge fan of Queens of the Stone Age, but Josh Homme held his own with that rhythm section and did just fine. They also had a second guitarist who played bass on a couple of songs when JPJ played other instruments. It was all new songs, no covers and no encores, basically a 90 minute riff-fest, and I loved every minute of it.
  • Keytar! Those things rule.

    I know the feeling of being shocked at who you've seen in the past. There have been a couple of times when I've scrolled through my list, and thought "seriously, I saw them?"

    I can image seeing Dave Grohl on drums is an experience. The only time I've seen him was with Foo Fighters (opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers, that was a fun show), and he was an animal even on guitar.

    I look forward to you adding more reviews to the thread!

  • edited November 2009
    Dave Grohl is a John Bonham fanatic and it shows (check out his Zep Essay from RS a few years back). It must really be a thrill for him to be playing with one of the original Zep members.

    I'm still kicking myself for not seeing Nirvana back in Dec 93. I was still a poor student then and it came down to a decision on whether to spend most of the rest of my money on some decent groceries, or buy a ticket and live on Ramen noodles til next payday. Being allergic to MSG, I opted for the groceries, telling myself Nirvana would be back in a year or two. Bad call on my part.
  • edited November 2009
    Yeah, I hate it when I skip a show and the musician dies before I get another chance to see them. I had that experience with Stevie Ray Vaughan -- he was touring with Jeff Beck and played a show in Atlanta, which I wanted to see but bagged at the last minute because the weather was lousy and I couldn't get anyone else to go. I had seen him before, but figured I'd just catch him next time around.

    On the flip side (and yes, I know this is a morbid discussion) have you ever caught a show where the artist died shortly thereafter? One I remember distinctly was a blues guitarist named John Campbell, who played a tiny blues club in Atlanta the day after my 30th birthday. I liked his stuff and was looking for a show to see on or near my birthday, so I went with some friends. He had this old National steel guitar and literally played like a man possessed. He closed with an incredible version of When the Levee Breaks (which you can find on one of his albums, I think it's called Howling Mercy) that was chilling and intense beyond belief. I actually saw him loading out his equipment after the show when we were leaving, and I thought about saying something to him but decided to leave him alone instead of being a goofy fan. He was in his early 40s and died of a heart attack maybe a month later.
  • cafefreema, Thanks for posting about The Mountain Goats show. I've heard a few bootlegs on line and he sounded great.

    I typed a post about the Andrew Bird and St. Vincent show in New Orleans, but took too long and lost it. In a word, it was awesome.
  • Awesome is a good word!

    On Tuesday the wife and I went to see Enter the Haggis at the 7th Street Entry, and had an interesting experience as their merchandise sellers.

    Zachary Scot Johnson - We didn't know there was an opening act until we got there at 7:00 (an hour before doors opened) and he let us in. He was a nice guy, but was scared of the crowd reaction to him because he's a solo acoustic guitar guy. He's also a liar. Before the show he asked us what Enter the Haggis is like because he'd never heard of them. Then during the show he said it was an honor to be there opening for one of his favorite bands! Liar! Anyway, he was pretty good for a guitar guy, but not spectactular. He gets an average C.

    Enter the Haggis - Got to meet the band, which was cool, and discussed how there is nothing to do in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with the guitar player. Sadly that and standing backstage/behind the bar at the place where bands like The Mats and Husker Du got their start, were probably the most interesting part of the evening for me. My wife is a big fan of ETH, but they just don't do much for me (other than some of their bagpipe/fiddle instrumentals that are pretty cool). The show was pretty generic and just kind of 'meh.' They also get a C.

  • On the morbid side, I was so sad to see that that guitarist from Maserati died. I saw them open for I Am The World Trade Center years ago, and seeing them live was amazing.

    On the good side, I also got to see The Gaslight Anthem and Murder By Death. The headliners were pros and put on a great show, but it was Murder By Death I wanted to buy when the show was done. The lead singer planted himself in one spot at a perfectly straight angle like a crooked fence post as he croaked into the mike, the cellist fluttered around like she was possessed, and all the songs sounded like a great soundtrack to a Western horror movie.
  • edited February 2010
    [Edited to hotlink a couple of photos from the show.]

    So. Last night was the Five Year Birthday/Anniversary show for the only radio station I'll listen to: Minnesota Public Radio's 89.3 The Current. Tickets for the shindig at First Avenue sold out in about 3 minutes, but as an MPR member I was able to get into those 3 minutes. A few of the interesting moments, outside of the bands:

    Free member's only CD of in studio performances with: The Shins - "Caring is Creepy" from 2005, The Magic Numbers - "Love Me Like You" from 2005, Regina Spektor - "Fidelity" from 2006, Jose Gonzalez - "Heartbeats" from 2006, Patti Smith - "People Have the Power" from 2007, The Clientele - "Bookshop Casanova" from 2007, Black Kids - "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You" from 2008, Elbow - "One Day Like This" from 2008, Doves - "Winter Hill" from 2009, and The English Beat - "Save it for Later" from 2009.
    The mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis (who are both true Musicheads) showing up and actually being genuinely funny.
    A toast given by a member of local punk pioneers The Suicide Commandos.
    Video tributes from Bob Mould, Dan Wilson, and Mark Mallman.

    Also, according to one of the DJs, Prince was in the house for awhile, but he stayed in the shadows as per usual so no one really saw him.

    Now for the bands. All are local, and are a seriously eclectic mix.

    The Twilight Hours - Formed by Matt Wilson (Trip Shakespeare) and Jon Munson (Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic), they just recently started playing with this band. They were pros, as I expected, but the opening slot is always tough. Highlight was certainly their "cover" of a Trip Shakespeare tune. Is it really a cover when the two vocalists are the original vocalists? Anyway. They get a C+.

    Lookbook - I was seriously looking forward to seeing this synth pop duo, because I've heard great things. Let me tell you, the 80s are back with a vengence, and lead singer Maggie Morrison is going to be a freakin' star. Her voice dug it's way into my soul, and I have such a crush on her now. I still don't have their debut LP (I only have a remix EP), but that WILL soon change. They get a B+.

    Mason Jennings - I'm a huge fan of this singer/songwriter, but apparently underestimated just how much he is beloved. I was shocked at the number of people who left after his performance. As for that performance, he was excellent (if you haven't heard it, go and download his track "The Field" off of Blood of Man immediately. It is the best anti war song is years), but I can only take so much solo guitar guy before I start to get bored. He gets a B-.

    P.O.S. - Another act I was really looking forward to. I haven't seen nearly enough of the local hip-hop talent, which is a shame because the Twin Cities' scene is remarkably vibrant based on the Rhymesayers label being based here. His performance was different. He would start songs, get half way through them, and then just be done with that song. It wasn't bad, it was just a bit odd. His biggest recent songs though, like Optimist (We are Not for Them) and Goodbye were played in full. He has an excellent stage presence and even with the odd song stops it was a good show. He gets a B.


    Solid Gold - One of my favorite bands at the moment, and I had only seen them at an outdoor show so I was really excited to see them in a club. While the mix was off for the first couple tunes (just as it was when I saw them before), they did not disappoint. The highlight had to be their cover of "Danger Zone". Yes, the Kenny Loggins "Top Gun" track. They played it at about half speed, and I'd heard they'd been covering it recently so was hoping it would be awesome. It was phenomenal. They get an A-, and as I've said here before: If you do not know this band, go get Bodies of Water now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.


    All in all it was a blast of night. Only drawbacks were that I felt like a grandpa in that crowd, and my body is reacting like I'm a grandpa this morning. Seriously, I'm only 31, I'm still young damnit!

  • Photos added. Not mine, of course. I don't have that kind of talent.

  • Hey, I didn't know we had a "how was the show" thread! Great idea! Now I just need to go to some shows...

    ...Unless Berlin Symphony Wind Quartet counts. Saw them in Detroit over the weekend, can recommend highly. A Carl Nielsen wind quintet was a special highlight. They are touring now, so go see 'em if you're into such things. Meanwhile, we are going to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo in a couple weeks...
  • Doofy - There are no rules here. Rock, hip-hop, blues, country, classical, whatever. If someone on this board goes to it and wants to write a little review, then they should!

    Ladysmith Black Mambazo should be a great show!

    I've got a couple coming up. Wild Beasts in a couple of weeks, and Spoon/Deerhunter/Micachu and the Shapes at the beginning of April.

  • cafreema- Mason Jennings, love his stuff, what I've heard so far anyway. Will have to check out Solid Gold

    Doofy- sounds like fun, I love chamber music. I used to go to Classical concerts regularly but fell out of the habit, even when they're often free at the local university. For my brief year as a music major we were required to go to 12 concerts a semester. Not that bad, but terrible if you waited until the end of the semester to catch up.
  • Last night at First Avenue for Spoon, Deerhunter, and Micachu & the Shapes. Started out great in that First Ave is going to start making their parking lot available, so I got to park 50 feet from the front door for $5. Sweet.

    Micachu & the Shapes: I already loved this band, and last night did nothing to change that fact. Earlier in the week 17dots had a review of one of their shows by Laura, and it is spot on: Link. I wish they had played more uptempo stuff at the start of the show, because it was a bit of a sleepy start, but by the end they had a nice groove going. A little more time on stage and I think they'll have a good show. For now they get a B.

    Deerhunter: I've never really understood the love for this band. I've never disliked their stuff, but never thought much of it either. I think it's the psychadelic underpinning to their music that just doesn't do it for me. Last night I felt mostly like I do when listening to their albums, not bad but nothing special. That said, Bradford Cox deserves his reputation as a great live frontman. Dude is seriously goofy/weird, and that's a good thing. Based on that they get a B-.

    Spoon: It's the rare concert where a band can play a 2+ hour set and still leave great songs unplayed, but Spoon pulled it off. They played all of the new album, most of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and other odds and ends (including a great Wolf Parade cover), and they did it all as the experienced pros that they are. A really great show. They only get docked for pulling out the double "encore". I dislike planned encores to begin with and when you do it twice it pretty much just serves to piss me off. Due to that they get an A-.

  • i love deerhunter's blend of shoegazey guitar and textures, bizzare eroticized lyrics, and the epic stomp to some of their best songs (e.g., Fluorescent Grey).

    the march 20 rodrigo y gabriela show at the fillmore east theatre (in miami beach) was awesome. rather than inartfully describe it, i'll let the youtube clips do the talking. plus, gabriela is super cute, which helps.
  • edited July 2010
    Tortise 2.0 performing a newly commissioned piece with some all-star Chicago guests, in beautiful Millennium Park last night.


    You will not see many crowds like that for modern jazz! This was the first in a series of Thursday night shows sponsored by the Jazz Institute of Chicago.

    Trying to revive this thread...I know you guys have been to some shows this summer.
  • I was looking for this thread a few weeks ago when I saw - by coincidence - Tortoise! - but I couldn't find it.

    It was a truly great show though, a teeny tiny club filled with all sorts of gigantic noises. The things that struck me most are (1) the amazing interchangeability of those musicians; they almost all took turns on one of the two drum sets and some of the various synth-y things, and (2) how seriously funky Tortoise can be, which I don't think quite comes across in their recordings quite as well as live.

    It was also just a few days before Fred Anderson died, and I was thinking of him because I had read he was in the hospital and because of the connection to Jeff Parker (plays with Tortoise; played on this album).

    But that's about all you'll get out of me for this thread; my last show was almost two years ago - also at the same tiny club, that one was Peter Evans, Mary Halvorson and Weasel Walter. I don't know how this club manages to occasionally book such big acts. Or at least important acts. A friend of mine said he saw Jeff Mangum and the whole Elephant 6 crew there once too.
  • Went to my first show since April on Friday. Man it was good to see live music again.

    Anyway, went the The Current's Sixth Birthday Party. As I'm mentioned elsewhere, The Current is Minnesota Public Radio's new music channel and for the most part is a fantastic radio station. It is at its best though when it comes to local music, and the birthday party brought together five very different local acts: Brother Ali, Free Energy (they're fudging a bit here as Free Energy is all from the Cities, but now lives in Philadelphia), Jeremy Messersmith, Trampled By Turtles, and Roma di Luna. Originally it was supposed be Cloud Cult rather than TBT, but apparently Cloud Cult's frontman had to have emergency heart surgery the other day. I understand he will make a full recovery, but still scary when the words emergency and heart surgery come together. As for the bands that were there, in order of appearance:

    Trampled By Turtles: Start the evening with some bluegrass. I was disappointed in Cloud Cult having to pull out, but being able to replace them the day before the show with a band like TBT shows how important The Current is to the local music scene. Plus, I'd wanted to see TBT at some point because I'd heard they are even more impressive live than they are on their albums. What I'd heard was correct. Watching these guys finger pick like mad is fantastic, and the crowd almost couldn't help but get into the serious groove that was going on. Ending the set with a Cloud Cult cover was great too, as it really showed how versatile the band is. TBT gets and A-.

    Roma di Luna: An interesing blend of funk and folk that used to be a married duo, but recently added a full band. As I said the blend of funk and folk is interesting, its execution just isn't there for me. This band feels like it could really be doing something great, but falls short and is almost boring at times. The girl behind me singing along, very poorly and at the top of her lungs, sure didn't help my enjoyment either. I have no problem with people singing along at concerts, but keep it to yourself. Roma di Luna gets a D.

    Jeremy Messersmith: If my list of top 2010 albums had gone to 20, his The Reluctant Graveyard almost certainly would have made the list. Prior to this album he was a pretty straightforward singer-songwriter, but with Graveyard he dove headfirst into 60s pop and it works for him. If you haven't heard Graveyard I highly recommend checking it out. So I was really looking forward to this set, but was afraid he'd fall back to his singer-songwriter past and play the set as just a man and a guitar. I had nothing to fear. Messersmith brought out a full band, including a string quartet, all dressed in white (which usually I find gimmicky, but with the 60s pop influence of the set actually worked for him), and they sounded marvelous. Only complaint is that I wish he'd have played his cover of The Replacements "Skyway" that was on an earlier album, but with the shortened sets of the show I can't blame him for that. Jeremy Messersmith gets an A-.

    Brother Ali: The Minneapolis hip hop scene gets its showcase next, but I can't for the life of me figure out why Ali didn't end the show, that obviously wasn't his decision. Ali was backed by Atmosphere's ANT providing the beats and there is no other way to put than to say he brought it. ANT had the bass bumping and Ali was letting it rip. He said they were mostly doing tracks they don't normally do, and that was the right decision for this particular crowd that knew the deeper tracks as well as the more popular ones. Ali also was a proud Minnesotan performing in front of a packed house that came out on the coldest day in more than a year (temp as I was driving to work was -18, but it had gotten to about 0 by show time). Last track was a tribute to Eyedea who died suddenly a couple months ago, which was nice. Brother Ali gets an A.

    Free Energy: Some throwback southern fried rock to end the night. Free Energy brought all the usual rock tricks that over an hour and a half set can grow tiresome, but in a 45 minute set were just fun. Again the crowd couldn't help but get into of the set. The only negative was the promised "great encore" that ended up being Free Energy joined by the staff of The Current (and Jeremy Messersmith for some reason) playing an extended version of "Funkytown". Did you know that Minneapolis is the actual funkytown in the song? No? Well it is. The song was a blast for The Current, but was tedious at best for the crowd. I'm not going to count it against the band, though, because it obviously wasn't their idea. Free Energy gets a B+.

    Got home around 2:30 a.m. and went right back into new dad mode. I'm still tired, but it was great fun.

  • A very belated post, but here's what I wrote from my day at the Chicago Jazz Festival this most recent Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately we forgot to bring the camera, so no pictures to give, which is too bad. With how few acts actually come through my area, including Louisville, I won't be posting on this thread much (see, even this post was from Chicago).

    The first act I caught was Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble, which was a huge revelation to me. I'd never heard her music before. It appealed to me much in the same way that Pharaoh Sanders' "Thembi", in its quieter moments, does. I'll have to look up the name of her musicians for the show, but the guy playing the bass clarinet did it with such delicate beauty that it could bring tears to the eyes. Just beautiful.

    The second act was the Brad Goode quartet, which is pretty straight ahead jazz. It was pleasant to hear sitting in the shade with sunlight fluttering all around us and a cool Lake Michigan breeze intent on making everyone want to take a nap.

    Third act was Brian Blade's Fellowship Band, which is the main reason we were there that day. I was disappointed he didn't have a guitar player in tow, but I'm sure Kurt has his own thing going on right now. The set was much fun, though I kinda wish the other sax player, crap, I forget his name, Sean, Sean, Sean, alright, I'll have to edit that back in later, I wish Sean had been able to stick his beak more into the music. Don't get me wrong, I like hearing Myron Walden wail on his sax, but it was a bit overwhelming to the sound of the other musicians. Myron likes to jump off cliffs and try like hell to fly on his solos I've noticed. But, man, some of the tunes he played off "Season of Changes", it hit me hard in my heart to hear them played so beautifully live. I'm ready to drive off to another city the next time they play.

    Fourth act was the Brad Mehldau trio. Brilliant. I've never been a huge fan of his trio work, but understandably, a live setting bought a different result to my ears. If he had played straight through the night, we wouldn't have left our chairs. What a treat to catch him at the festival.

    Next was Ted Sirotta's Rebel Souls. Meh. They played well... really well, actually. Even the compositions that I didn't care for were enjoyable to listen to. I'm glad I caught the set. But other than a really good composition based on a song "Hard Times", most of the music didn't do a lot for me. His banter between songs was painful. It's hard to explain exactly why, but my wife who is about the sweetest girl on the planet, even she wanted to walk up to the stage at one point and punch him in the face. Aside from the painful banter and the okay compositions, they can play their asses off, that's for sure. Despite my mediocre review, if they're in your town, you maybe should consider catching them, since your ear could very well differ from my own.

    Last set (for us) was Henry Threadgill's Zooid. I had no clue what to expect going in. My first impression was that it wasn't much to listen to but I wanted to take in the entire set just because I'd probably never get another chance to hear them. By the end of the set, I was giving standing ovations. I'm still not sure I'd buy one of their albums, but I know beyond a doubt that I'll travel some distance to see them live again as many times as I'm fortunate to catch them. What a show!

    I think that about covers it. It was a beautiful day and stayed that way throughout the evening. A few raindrops here and there, but not enough to make me regret leaving the umbrella at home. My wife, not much a jazz fan (though she recognized some Mehldau tunes that she does yoga to) enjoyed it so much she wanted to make the Chicago excursion for the festival an annual event. I, understandably, did not object.
  • edited June 2011
    Saw an interesting show last Sunday night by Black Country Communion, a group I knew nothing about until probably a month ago. The group includes Joe Bonamassa on guitar, Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) on bass and vocals, Jason Bonham on drums, and a keyboard player from Dream Theater whose name I can't remember, Derek somebody. Found out about the show at the 930 Club in DC last Friday in an email, got clearance from my wife to skip out early on Father's Day, and convinced a buddy to join me Sunday about two hours before the show. We bought tickets at the door. Got there at 8:30 and they apparently started at 8, so we missed a bit but they played until almost 10 so I felt like I got my money's worth.

    The group just released their second album, imaginatively titled "2." I don't have that one or the first, so my only exposure going in was listening to 30-second song samples on Amazon Sunday afternoon. The decision to go was based solely on the talents of the players. I have a couple of Joe Bonamassa solo albums that I love, and I was curious to hear Jason Bonham live. Plus, my last concert experience with a "supergroup" turned out pretty well (Them Crooked Vultures, same venue, which I posted about much earlier in this thread). These guys did a very quick US tour, just a few dates, and this was their last show before heading to Europe.

    It was fun. Glenn Hughes is by far the oldest guy in the band, but he was a bundle of energy and a great frontman. As a hack bass player, I'm impressed with anyone who can sing and play bass at the same time, and his impressive skills in both departments made it easier to overlook his undeniably cheesy arena-rock moves. Joe Bonamassa is a phenomenal guitarist, who clearly seemed to enjoy being in a band where he wasn't the center of attention. He's also a great singer and his bluesy vocals are a nice contrast to Hughes, who has a great rock voice but can occasionally take it over the top. There was also a little too much high end in Hughes' vocals, which was a problem for me because one of my custom earplugs had a cracked filter after mistakenly going through the washing machine last month. That ear, which has limited hearing to begin with, was still ringing the day after the show. Not good.

    Jason Bonham is an excellent drummer. After seeing Them Crooked Vultures, Dave Grohl set the bar impossibly high for all other rock drummers, and while Jason didn't threaten Grohl's place in my personal pantheon, he acquitted himself admirably. Not too flashy, no solos, but powerful fills and seemed to play whatever the song needed. The keyboard player was fine, except in the second song we saw he did a solo that went on for probably five minutes, which was about four minutes too long. All four guys are tremendous players, though, and they really looked like they were having fun.

    The only song I recognized was the encore, a killer cover of Deep Purple's "Burn," which was the title track from Hughes' first album with that band. The others were all originals, heavy on the riffs but I liked them enough that I will pick up both albums in the near future. Towards the end of the set, they did one song that included instrumental snippets of a few rock classics, including Free (All Right Now), The Who (Won't Get Fooled Again), and Led Zep (Rock and Roll, When the Levee Breaks). It was cool to hear Jason playing parts his dad made famous.

    All in all, a good way to spend a Sunday night.
  • I went to this last night, what a blast...Muti and the CSO at an enormous church on the South Side.



    A great show played before a congregation and guests who were enthusiastic, to say the least. And yes, there was applause between movements, praise the Lord!
  • So we drove into Louisville for the day Wednesday to see They Might Be Giants for "Waterfront Wednesdays". I guess this happens throughout the summer, the city puts on a music show right on the banks of the Ohio River right near downtown Louisville, and there's bands and food & beer tents and various other vendors. I'll let you guess which of the two of us is the Giants fan (hint: I received "credit" for going). On the other hand, I'll go to pretty much any event on the waterfront. Music just sounds better to my ears when the stage is near a shoreline.

    The band was pretty good. They're clearly vets of the scene just based on their interaction with the audience alone. They made it fun. The crowd was huge, at least for that kind of thing. The band seemed genuinely surprised and impressed by the turnout. The crowd was really into it, singing along, playing along with the band's antics. At one point, there was a Planet of the Apes contest between two sides of the audience, which I'm not sure I can describe any better than that, but to be certain, it looked nothing like Doofy's photo just above this post.

    It was a beautiful night. It was fun just being back in the city again doing fun stuff. I felt younger again and the future seemed bigger. Music, especially live music, has a power that I sometimes forget about.
  • edited September 2011
    I went to see TMBG 16-17 years ago or so in Louisville when I lived there back then. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) knew I was going to a show and asked me who I was going to see. When I told her "They Might Be Giants" she was a little perplexed and didn't understand why I really didn't have a good understanding of who I was going to see and why I was excited to be going to see someone who I clearly wasn't sure who it was. It took a couple minutes to sort out the issue.. but I got her set straight and we lived happily ever after (and my now almost 12 year old son counts TMBG's "Flood" album among his favorites).
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