Dark Meat @ Flamingo Cantinas
After a late night at the Purevolume party, Mark and I dragged ourselves out of bed just before noon to make it down to Flamingo Cantina's for Team Clermont's party with much anticipated free shoes. As we were waiting in line, a rag-tag marching band stomped by before we could get a good photo (hey I said it was a late night). When we got inside, they had already ran out of shoes but we ended up catching the entire performance of that rag-tag marching band we found out to be the Athens super-group Dark Meat. Half rock, half party (in the good way, not the Andrew WK way) this group of 15(!) members knew how to get and keep the attention of a room full of schwag-hunters with dueling drummers, violin, sax, trumpet, guitars and dancer/back-up singers. So good, we went to see them again on Saturday night. It wasn't as good as the first time (probably because it was so unexpectedly awesome) but still excellent.
Photo by Alexadan
Kaki King @ Convention Center
I have seen her before, so this was expectedly awesome. Unexpectedly after only 20 minutes of playing, a string broke and she improvised an amazing bit before leaving the stage (most musicians would've just walked off I think).
Photo by Sarah Monroe
Les Savy Fav @ CMJ Party
The last time I saw LSF was at the MoMA in NYC and was one of the craziest shows I've ever seen. I can't help but feel that it is God's ultimate desire for Tim Harrington to be a leader of a rock band. It would be a crime against humanity if he got stuck with any other profession. Back to SXSW, this show was the best yet. Antics included spitting water back and forth in fans mouths, giving birth to a pillow, and hanging, backwards, over the 2nd floor of the venue while singing upside down as I held one of his legs for dear life of killing one of my idols. There's not much more to say.
Cory and Alicia caught Plus/Minus at the Merge Records Day Party last week and had this to say about the show: "great bands and maybe 30 people there. free beer...nice day."
Here's Plus/Minus performing their awesome song Fadeout:
View on Vimeo
The Ultimate Music Recommendation Smackdown promised to be reminiscent of a ringside event.
Find out which service creates playlists worthy of a veteran DJ, and which service recommends tracks like an iPod set on shuffle as they battle it out in the ultimate playlist smackdown. Based on audience feedback, trophies will be awarded.
The four competitors took their corners.
But no punches were thrown. No trophies awarded. No playlists were even created. Moderator Colin Brumelle asked each panelist to introduce another represented service rather than their own. No one was ever completely satisfied with the resulting description; they always added a few forgotten features. There was an apparent disconnect between their self-perceptions and what others see them as.
And that was about as interesting as it got. The closest thing to an argument was a discussion of algorithmic analysis vs. human recommendations. It ended up being little more than an exercise in public relations for the companies involved. Invaluable for them, no doubt. But I'm not sure how much the audience walked away with. The ultimate letdown indeed.
Bonus Fun Facts:
1. The Decemberists' bass player, Nate Query, was a music analyst at Pandora.
2. Last.fm has facilitated marriages.
3. If you like any band, you may also like The Beatles and Radiohead. Surprise!
Photo by Anthony Kerr
In chronological order:
Apes & Androids @ Austinist Party
This theatrical Queen-esque band melted glitz and glam all over dance-rock. The incessent doop doops and wah wahs get a bit repetitive after awhile, but they did a good job at getting the crowd moving. Photo by Patrick Dentler
Architecture In Helsinki @ Austinist Party
I wonder if they down 6 energy drinks before they perform or if they really are just that much happier and energetic than the rest of us. I love how everyone shares and switches instruments. Absoutely infectious indie-pop. Photo by Austinist.com
Winner of best goodie in the bag goes to Navarre for their Hangover Survival Kit which includes mouthwash, asprin, and an instant coffee packaged into a cool container. I don't know how long they have been doing it but I know they did the same thing last year too. Most disappointingly nobody provided a slick, tiny foldable map with their logo on it. I got one last year from Sony Music and have been using it all this week. Check out the large version.
This year's SXSW Music Festival Goodie Bag:
1. Austin Chronicle SXSW Film Edition (Newspaper)
2. 2007 Australian Music Guide (Newspaper)
3. Exclaim! (Newspaper)
4. Public Enemy - New Whirl Odor (CD)
5. Canon Records 2007 (CD)
6. Ani Difranco Carnegie Hall 4/6/02 (CD)
7. 10 Spot Sampler (CD)
8. Clash Magazine SXSW UK Invasion (CD)
9. Underground Kingz Snippet Sampler (CD)
10. japan Nite Sound Sampler 2007 (CD)
11. Voodoo Doll (Literally)
12. Ryko Sampler (CD)
13. Paste (Magazine)
14. Performing Songwriter (Magazine)
15. Music Connection (Magazine)
16. The Georgia Music Production SourceBook (Catalog)
17. Singer & Musician (Magazine)
18. The Duke (Magazine)
19. Filter's Good Music Guide (Mini-Magazine)
20. Lifebeat / Trojan (Flyer)
21. Trojan-enz Lubricated (Condom)
22. Get Nailed / Nail Distribution (Condom)
23. New Music From Wales (Guide)
24. I Love Ascap (Sticker)
25. Mojo (Button)
SXSW Interactive: Brian Fling Discusses Mobile WebSXSW Interactive: Brian Fling Discusses Mobile Web
Brian Fling of Blue Flavor * gave a presentation Sunday afternoon detailing both the why and the how of developing for the mobile Web. Hopefully soon everyone realizes the importance of reaching audiences across any medium. Making information accessible via Internet-ready mobile devices has become increasingly important.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Mobile Web...but Were Afraid to Ask emphasized finding a need, filling it and getting rid of anything extra. Navigation should be effortless (ordered lists with access keys); nothing hidden behind too many clicks. Most of the considerations hold true regardless of the platform in mind. But mobile devices present some unique obstacles, like varying screen sizes and more than 50 browsers. The constraints force simple, clear designs. And the experience can be truly contextual thanks to built-in GPS and location-based services.
Photo by Jeff Croft
The Web Typography Sucks panel. See slides and notes from the presentation.
Gerald Gary is the kind-hearted restroom attendant that was working when Scott, Erin, Brett and I went to Cuba Libre for a bite to eat in between SXSW parties. After relieving myself, I got a chance to pick his brain a little.
Download the full audio interview (2:53 minutes, 1.3mb) or read below:
What's your most popular item?
My most popular item is cologne.
What's your favorite?
To tell you the truth, I make my money off of the chewing gum. I may go to HEB and get a 10 pack of gum with a coupon for $1 and somebody may put $1 in the tip jar and I make my money back. Then I'll have 9 packs left to play with; to give away or make me some more profit.
What's the craziest thing you've ever seen in the restroom?
I haven't seen a fight since I've been here, but at the other club I work at I had to stop a fight. Two guys were ready to fight so I had to tell them don't go that way, don't pay them no mind.
That's cool that you get to play peacemaker
Yeah I try to be a peacemaker. I try to do everything with love, know what I mean?
Yeah, it definitely shows. What's a band you really like?
Montell. They play some of that old time music. They go way back, "Heard It Through The Grapevine", James Brown, Temptations, Bobby Blueman. See I'm not into all that young stuff, it makes my head hurt.
Are they a local (to Austin) band?
Yeah they are local.
[Somebody using the bathroom] The correct answer is damn good music.
Just because theres an overwhelming amount of shows doesn't mean you have to be overwhelmed. Here are some of our editor's must-see picks for SXSWeek (or for a quick glance see the schedule of just our top picks).
Brett's Top Picks: Bloc Party, Les Savy Fav, The Rapture, Architecture in Helsinki, Girl Talk
See: Brett's Full Schedule
Keith's Top Picks: Jamie T, Cloud Cult, The Holloways, Menomena, Mute Math.
See: Keith's Full Schedule
Cory's Top Picks: Spank Rock (Thursday 15th Vista/NASA Party), Les Savy Fav, Sparklehorse, Money Mark, Plus/Minus
Taylor's Top Picks: Badly Drawn Boy, Do Make Say Think, The Mountain Goats, Matt & Kim, Beach House
See: Taylor's Full Schedule
See: Mark's Full Schedule
Did we miss something good? Recommend a show in the comments.
Here were the five finalists:
The Black Seeds: It's spam. No seriously, there is no music to be found. It looks like they lost their domain to squatters because I assumed they had just linked to the wrong url at first, but a google search doesn't provide any useful information.
Dixie Chicks: Death From Above: At first I was like WTF, it looks like a poorly designed blog that hasn't been updated in 10 months. Then I realize it's just a scene in this interactive flash portal where you can travel in and out of buildings in a city. Cool to play with, not much return value, and doesn't really have anything to do with music.
Just For The F Of It: Created for Fuse TV, this is yet another disposable flash site that overwhelms with animations while being relatively light on content. One cool thing is Mark Hoppus' podcast sub-site, but then again that isn't what's being nominated.
Free Indie: An MP3 blog that has been posting since April 2006 run by one guy. His taste is fantastic but I have to wonder why his tag line is "free albums - guiltless" and that he posts 5 MP3s for every band (as well as a zip for each set). Is it guiltless because he's asking each band for permission? He also only has 33 RSS subscribers (according to his Feedburner badge), which I'm absolutely not ripping on him for, but ponder whether something so unknown can be considered the best music site of 2006.
Woxy: The internet radio station that almost went out of business last year untill Lala swooped in, saved the station, and made new fans for life. Woxy's got it all: fantastic taste, active forum community, exclusive session recordings, and a blog.
So who won?
Getting to Consistency: Don't Make Your Users Think stressed that consistency should not become legacy. While people (or what the detached refer to as "users") value comfort and familiarity, what works best evolves over time. Embrace change as long as the benefits are obvious. It reminded me of Taylor's conversation with Chirag about the pros and cons of two possible user interfaces. They went with the one that was less common but more usable.
Grids Are Good and How to Design with Them reassured me that the principles learned in my print design courses still apply to the Web. Khoi and Mark went through the steps of creating a grid-based layout through a combination of math and eyeballing it. See the results for yourself.
Beautiful Algorithms: Design from Nature and Mathematics showed how algorithms generate beauty in both nature and technology. Like the reaction-diffusion patterns found on tropical fish, or the L-systems and self-similarity of plants. I'm glad Alec focused on real-world and simulated examples of this stuff and not on the crazy formulas behind it all. It was reminiscent of the movie Pi, where a paranoid mathematician searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature. Just listen to the sample at the end of Jedi Mind Tricks' "Speech Cobras."
High Class and Low Class Web Design juxtaposed "good" and "bad" designs, focusing on the success of culprits like MySpace, Craigslist and eBay. Paul Rand famously said:
The public is more familiar with bad design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.
But I think it's important to remember -- and this was brought up during the Q+A session -- that good and bad are not equivalent to beautiful and ugly. Usability and the audience's immediate goals should be prioritized, otherwise they won't come back no matter how pretty the design is.
Photo by Andy Couch
This year's goodie bag was pretty usual. 75% boring flyers you will throw away right away and a few brilliant marketing pieces (like mikons' stickers and chow's guide to food). Click here for bigger version.
Here are the full contents:
1) Georgia.org (Flyer)
2) Austin Chronicle SXSW Edition (Newspaper)
3) Technology Review (Magazine)
4) Wizard (Magazine)
5) How (Magazine)
6) SXSW Official Interactive Guide
7) SXSW Interactive Canvas Bag
8) The Heather Gold Show (Invite)
9) Paypal Showdown (Flyer)
10) Screenburn Official Guide
11) Linux Journal (Magazine)
Twitter is a webservice that lets you check-in with what you are doing by text message, IM or over the web. Think of it as an away message answering machine. While people have been using their away message on IM clients as status updates for as long as I can remember, if you missed a friends away message it was gone forever. Twitter gives you a tumblelog of your friends incessent status updates that can be forwarded to your cell phone or read on the web.
It's the perfect tool for conferences like SXSW. Keep track of where your friends are or even ask questions (like where's the next open bar?).
They even set up a Twitter-screen at the conference where you can see the latest status updates of people who have added Twitter: SXSW as a friend.
Top photo by Adactio
Photo by Min Jung Kim
Photo by Richard Moross
Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid
I got ahold of a top-secret document with rules for volunteers at SXSW. While they are pretty standard, yet entertaining, I was surprised at how much of a wall they try to create between the
commonfolk volunteers and the landowners staff.
- Do have a sense of humor
- Do loiter outside the main Registration area
- Do dress Austin Casual
- Do leave the staff alone. They haven't had their shots.
- Don't disturb Staff Members. Ever. This is for your own protection.
- Don't smell like the French. Many are allergic to parfum, patchouli and the unwashed.
- Don't dress like Britney Spears (in any incarnation) or the men she loves. All cleavage (upper and lower) must be covered or we will cover it for you. With a tent.
You have to volunteer for 40 hours before you earn any free passes, so the smart people are getting their hours out of the way for Interactive (so they can rock out during Music).
Photo by Sektormedia
10. SXSWiki: This one slides in on potential alone. The site is pretty new and pretty bare, but if it catches on this could be your one stop shop for all things SXSW. Go contribute!
9. See You In The Pit: A music blog that only posts January to March every year, and only posts about bands playing SXSW. They tend to cover the more well known (atleast in the blog world) bands but if you've overlooked bands like Pink Nasty and Beach House in the past, this is a great place to catch up so you don't regret missing anything.
8. Austinist's SXSW Coverage: Posting daily updates of all Inter+Music+Film, this blog is a good overview of everything. They also have a rad Interactive Guide (Gmaps Mashup). All those non-stop parties stressing you out? Can't decide where to be seen? Their map highlights some Editor Picks to make your decision on where to get drunk just a bit easier. Extra points for plotting your itinerary based on stumbling distance.
7. Yaris SXSW: Every year Toyota sponsors a Yaris branded SXSW site that always has some pretty damn cool goodies on it. This year they have a Google Maps Mashup (where you can plot showcases on a map to save/share with friends), band previews (provided by big players like Music For Robots and Gorilla Vs Bear), and a Band Video Contest
6. SXSW's Official Music Hookups: What I love so much about this conference/festival is how much they really get it. Not only do they offer the excellent Flash Player with streaming, skippable audio of bands playing the festival, they even post a 3.1GB torrent file with 739 MP3s. You can also check out older torrents.
Get Ready! SXSWeek is almost upon us. For some it's work, for some it's a vacation, and yet for others it's a religion. The Podbop crew will be making their annual trek down to Austin, Texas in just 5 days. We'll be covering SXSW: Interactive (March 9-13) and SXSW: Music (March 14-18).
Watch the blog for the next weeks for panel and show previews, interviews, show reviews, photos, a few videos and a really, really exciting contest.
Brett, Mark, Kaela, and I covered Athens Popfest last August and took a bit of footage for Cory to put together into, what I like to call, a documentary music video. I actually forgot to post it months ago, so here it is in all it's glory:
Daniel, Brett and I are in Boston for the week hanging out at Mashup Camp and checking out the city. Podbop is a mashup (Eventful + our database of public mp3s) and we even had our humble launch just under a year ago at the first Mashup Camp in San Francisco.
We're not parading any mashups, but music related apps are pretty well repped this time. Our posse this time around includes Chris & Nate (with Gigul8r), Anthony (with Hypemachine) and I'm still looking forward to tracking down the guys from Tour Filter in the hallways.
More geekdom to follow...
ps. It's COLD HERE
Photo by lilchen
After Fin Fang Foom's awesome Saturday night performance at Bar One during The Fest V, I got a chance to pick their brains a bit about Gainesville's music scene, their next release and inspiring shows they've been to.
First off, is this your first Fest?
Eddie: No, actually, we've done all of them since the first one.
What do you think the best part of The Fest is?
Eddie: Getting to see all the bands - all your friends. Being that we used to live an hour away, we have a lot friends here. That and just everybody getting together.
Mike T.: I think it's a really amazing thing, community-wise. All these bands are coming together, all these people are coming together, and it's still so, you know, noncorporate. It's very grassroots and indie. It's still punk rock and I think it's awesome that it carries that vibe through it. I think it's really important. It's amazing what Tony [Weinbender of No Idea Records] and everyone involved has done - keeping it kind of pure and noble. No commercial nonsense. Staying true to what we all believe in and what we've been working for for so many years.
Cynthia: I've never been to Gainesville. I've never been to The Fest. The people here have been so crazy and so nice. It's totally revitalizing to see it going on outside your town. I've met so many crazy people tonight who are just like, "Hey, what's your deal?" It's so friendly. The energy in this town is so great. It totally inspires you, like, "Yeah, man, this is what it's about." It was awesome. I was shocked - I thought it was gonna be a bunch of punk rockers sitting around and growling at each other and it was gonna suck.
I hear the cello player is a recent addition. How did you guys decide to add that?
Eddie: We've always wanted a cello player. For a long, long time. It just worked out because she was a good friend of ours, an awesome person, and she played cello.
Do you guys have an album coming out soon?
Mike T.: Yeah, it's like a Japan exclusive, but we've conviced the Love to release it and it's going to be distributed through Dischord. It's supposed to be out, but the CDs have been on a boat. Seriously, on a boat. Dischord is like, "Well, we can't get it on this release date because it still hasn't gotten here." We're just waiting for that to come. Then we have new stuff that we're going to record and hopefully have it out next year.
Interview continued after the jump...
The absense of a vocalist puts the focus completely on the push and pull of the music, even when it isn't a conscious decision. Chicago's Russian Circles formed in late-2004, following the break-up of Dakota/Dakota, the math-rock band guitarist Mike Sullivan and bassist Colin DeKuiper played in.
Two years later Flameshovel Records released the instrumental trio's first full-length, Enter -- a linear, dynamic post-metal album capable of appealing to fans of Mogwai and Mastodon alike. With six tracks and a run-time just shy of 45 minutes, it never sounds forced or pretentious.
After the band's explosive set on the first night of The Fest V in Gainesville, I stood outside a local pub and spoke with Colin about live shows and touring.
First of all, why did you guys decide to be an instrumental band?
It wasn't really like we set out to be an instrumental band. When we started the band, there wasn't a lot laid out for us. We hadn't set the groundwork for what we wanted to achieve. But the three of us really wanted to play together, so we just sort of came together and started writing songs.
The first song we wrote was the first song on our record, "Carpe." After we wrote it we were just sorta like, "I don't know exactly where the vocals are gonna fit." And then after that, we wrote another song that ended up being the last song on the record, "New Macabre." We were saying the same thing, just sorta standing around saying "I dunno where the vocals are gonna go." At that point, we said, "We'll test it out, play some shows, and see what the reaction is." For the most part it seemed more positive, that people felt like we should be an instrumental band versus a band with vocals.
It's not out of the question, but right now it's really, really easy to be a three-piece and not have vocals, so we'll forge ahead as planned.
What do you think makes for a good live show?
We love small rooms just because it seems the smaller the room, the more control we have over how it sounds. Also a smaller room is easier to fill. For us, a good live show is just, you know, we play well, we sound good and there's crowd there that's really into it.
Interview continued after the jump...
Cold War Kids, another one of the blogger-love bands, played a free show at the Apple Store mid-afternoon. If you haven't seen a free show at the Apple Store, I recommend it. It's got great sound and comfortable seating, and for a grand price of zero dollars you can't complain. It was the Cold War Kids' first performance ever with a sitting down audience, but they still got the Mac-geeks grooving in their seats to a powerful soul-rock performance of songs off their 2006 album Robbers & Cowards.
Lead singer Nathan Willett (who totally has a Woody Harrelson look going) drank a bottle of Perrier at the piano until it was conveniently used as percussion in "Deathrow." They were also pretty amused about their photograph being projected right behind them (an Apple Store thing I guess). They played one brand new song, but it sounded a lot like the rest of their songs. I think their sound is awesomely unique (for this time period anyway) and catchy. My only fear is that now they've found a comfort zone they'll end up staying in for their next record. When they played "Hospital Beds," I actually got goose bumps. Highly recommended if you get a chance to see them. Check out an interview with Natahn Willett over at Culture Bully.
Next up in the CMJ free retail show line-up was Silversun Pickups at the Puma Store in Union Square. Literally making it just before they started playing (don't you love when that happens?), I enjoyed their self-admittedly hungover set of songs off of this year's Carnavas and last years Pikul EP (top 10 of 2005, easily). Their drummer has the most enthusiasm on stage, and their bassist has a gorgeous voice. I was also put at ease when I could finally stop wondering if lead singer Brian Aubert wrote "Lazy Eye" about himself (sure looks like it to me).
A few subway transfers (and a meal and a nap) later I showed up at The Knitting Factory, my favorite CMJ venue. They have three floors, so you always have something else to choose if you get bored. Their help is incredibly nice (let me in with two girls who didn't have tickets to last year's show) and it's even got air conditioning.
Sparky Quano was an unexpected thrill from Japan (and this was his first visit to NYC). As just one god-like guitar player with a whole slew of pedals, he creates everything including percussion and backup layers from a single guitar. Only other person I've seen fully do this is Kaki King. But while she is on the folk-instrumental side of things, Sparky was definitely raised by Pelican and Megadeth. His instrumental rock songs, with the occasional ghostly whispers, caught everyone in the room off guard. It was great seeing him play two dozen guitar pedals with his bare toes like a piano, churning out tribal beats and space-rock that was over before you knew it. Wearing sweatpants and no shoes or socks, you felt like you were getting a peek into his bedroom, where he'd be jamming out even if there wasn't an audience.
Odiorne were too loud, and while they played tightly, they didn't have much to offer as entertainers or musicians.
Saxon Shore put out one of my favorite instrumental rock albums last year and their live show didn't disappoint. Their instrumentation was almost as lush as I was at this point, scoring a free drink from the bartender for being nice. The band members were really concentrated on their instruments as their sound filled the Knitting Factory's Old Office basement.
Lewis & Clarke's Lou Rogal delivered lo-fi, bare-your-soul folk that was appreciated by the sparse attendees (most of which had floated upstairs to see An Albatross at this time). It's always interesting seeing albums I use for falling asleep to live. If their live performance puts me to sleep is that good or bad? I face this issue with bands like Six Parts Seven, Album Leaf and Lewis & Clarke. I've used his 2005 album Bare Bones & Branches to carry me off to slumber for many months, and while his performance was spot-on with the album, I found it to be a relaxing break to the rest of my day.
Headlining for the evening was Chicago's Dogme 95. Also a one-man band (see a trend tonight?), Nick Wright's set of Beck-esque folk-pop with a little assistance from a fog machine was enjoyable. Nick didn't let the confinement of a stage stop him as he wandered around the floor swinging his microphone and busting out Windy City dance moves. Halfway through the set he brought a second guitar on stage and things turned a bit more psych-rock. My only compliant is his reliance on pre-recorded background material. He should try to make friends with a drummer because beats coming from a CD player just aren't the same.
More photos after the jump
The bruises are fading and the cuts are healing. Two weeks ago The Fest V swallowed the streets of downtown Gainesville. For three days, disciples of all the indie subcultures gathered to praise and sing. About 70 percent of the attendees came from out of town to witness their share of the 200 bands performing. Stopping first at Wayward Council, we were branded with grey, pink or green wristbands and given a schedule and a map. We drew out our separate plans and scattered across the eight venues.
Warming Up Friday
The line to get into The Atlantic for Russian Circles wrapped around the side of the building. It wasn't until I got inside that I was told I could have side-stepped the crowd with my press privileges. But it was worth the wait. The band's epic, sprawling songs built and burst, speaking volumes without vocals. The instrumental trio replicated material from their album using loop pedals to sample themselves live.
After braving the rainy weather for an interview with Russian Circles, I made my way back to The Atlantic, downed two beers and took a spot near the stage. Ultra Dolphins unleashed their spastic, post-hardcore tunes with frantic precision. Their performance was quirky and disorienting in a good way. I'd been anticipating their debut full-length, which Robotic Empire released this week, and it exceeded my expectations.
Before Die Hoffnung's set, vocalist/guitarist Jim Marbuger noted that he's been seeing a lot of movement on the fret board that night and asked when everybody got so good at their instruments. With his brother Jon on drums, you may recognize the duo from I Hate Myself. Their new material is more intricate and less frail, channeling bands like Faraquet. Between songs, Jim's commentary continued. He listed off all the sub-species of punk flooding the town that weekend. His favorite: surf punks, because they smell good.
I crossed the street to catch The North Atlantic at Bar One. The turnout was disappointing and it was way too loud for the small, empty room. But the noisy post-punk band will pass through Gainesville two more times before the year's end -- Nov. 11 with These Arms Are Snakes and Dec. 10 with Planes Mistaken For Stars and Appleseed Cast.
Despite being drenched from the night's downpour, I trekked the few blocks to Abbey Road for the second half of Minus The Bear's set. They blasted through songs from 2005's Menos El Oso. I let the technical, polished indie-rock songs wash over me before I stumbled home and drifted off to sleep.
Wish I Watched
- Dear + Glorious Physician. RILY: The Pixies, Talking Heads
- Gospel. RIYL: City of Caterpillar, Mars Volta, Pg. 99
- Smoke or Fire. RIYL: Hot Water Music, Avail
- Bullet Train To Vegas. RIYL: Les Savy Fav, Q And Not U
My evening began at Chinatown's (if it wasn't in Chinatown they should rename that part of town then) Fontana's. It had an exclusive/snobby feel to it because you walked into the bar area with no signs hinting that there is a stage anywhere. You continue walking through and hiding behind a pool table, there is a door that leads you to the basement. An uncrowded paradise with a life size beach sunset photo on the wall and cshiny cursive letters that read the venue's name (to reassure you that it's the right spot).
The Twilight Sad (one of the bands we did a giveaway for) got the attention of all 22 of us with a jarring drum intro. Their British accents were pleasing (aren't foreign accents always becoming?). Known for layering found sounds in found places this band pushed out lush and noisy layers of music. Sometimes they used their best friends, delay and reverb, a little too much. The lead singer, seemingly shy, always kept his eyes closed while he sung in a deep tone that was reminsicent of Interpol. By the third song the lead guitar amp started acting up and to keep us occupied, an old poet (who looked like a fisherman) came on stage and read a poem bearing the bands name. Overall a promising set from a young & shy band that I hope will continue to grow.
The Dayton, Ohio duo Swearing At Motorists took the stage next with their unique lo-fi rock songs about everyday situations and everyday people. A perfect example of how normal they saw themselves (even after being around for more than 10 years); they asked the audience if anyone was interested in driving them to Philly while they sleep. They offered to get the driver/fan into that show and buy them a train ticket back to NYC. Just a couple of dudes, on the road, trying to make it to the next town.
With Dave Doughman's distinct 70's-ish voice, he rolled through a fanastic and well recieved set including their biggest hit "Flying Pizza". Known for his energetic perfomances, Dave was on top of his game, jumping and rolling on stage while having a genuinely good time. He must have soaked up all the energy (or drugs) available because his drummer Joseph Siwinksi was half asleep the entire time. My only complaint to their finely tuned performances were the songs abrupt endings that seemed unnatural.
A few subway stops later, realzing I'd never get into The Knife show, I found myself at the comfortable Mercury Lounge. Walking in on the middle of Daylights For The Birds' set, I was immediately struck by the lead singer. With her eye makeup, head-loop, and a voice like Dido's, she was mesmerizing. Disappointingly the band as a whole was underwhelming. Maybe I was spoiled on elite level entertainers like CSS and Swearing At Motorists, but besides having a beautiful girl upfront they lacked stage presence.
Something else I've noticed while attending CMJ, which doesn't happen in Florida (atleast as often) is the five foot space between the stage and the audience. The concert going kids of New York City seem to fear getting too close to the stage, which was good for me because there was always space.
The 7 wishful member group Canada (from Michigan) followed. While trading instruments and smiles the entire time, this family-like collective created warm music with great choruses. Amusingly, the bass player seemed to have an internal conflict with the top of his head because he would throw off and replace his toque (Candian for hat!). They ended their set inviting people on stage to have a piece of the fun whirling on stage with claps and percussion toys.
Now this is coming from somebody who hates Antony & The Johnsons, but the Figurines's lead singer has one of those hate it or love it voices, and I hate it. The only guy around me really moving had ear plugs in; maybe they worked too well.
Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis) was the headlining spot and didn't disappoint. Armed with nothing but a laptop and dance moves from outer space this notta-DJ brought the house down. Within a few songs the stage was piled with people busting out their dance moves to Girl Talk's unique top40s-hiphop-indie mashup. Few more songs later and Gregg was stripped down to his skivvies (by the crowd) and the party continued. High-energy dance music that is better than what you'll ever find in a club.
More photos after the jump!
"Don't beat your kids, they might turn out like me." And with that fine advice from an outspoken man on the subway, my second day of CMJ goodness began. For you out-of-towners, the 7-day unlimited-ride subway pass for $24 is a necessity.
CMJ is not only about the nightly showcases by signed and unsigned bands in venues across the city, but also the free day shows throughout, in places ranging from record shops to retail stores or art spaces. One such unique venue is the lovably cramped (or shall I say intimate) Other Music record shop. They slid over row after row of record aisles to make room for the packed-to-the-brim audience here to see a stripped-down acoustic performance by Tapes 'n Tapes singer Josh Grier and drummer Jeremy Hanson. Two members short of the entire group, their sound was surprisingly un-lacking and their songs came across less dancey and more emotional. The highlight of the performance was "Omaha", the track that I have been playing on repeat and just can't seem to get enough of these days.
Fellow music blogger BrooklynVegan continued with his tradition of putting on a free and impressive lineup for his multi-day party in the lower east side. Wednesday's day show took place at Pianos, a two story bar/restaurant/venue with just enough room for the crowd. Upstairs, I stumbled on The Undisputed Heavyweights, a band that AM New York described as "Frank Sinatra meets The Doors in a way only Stevie Wonder could dream of." A lounge band in the best sense with a charismatic lead and skilled musicians to back him up. Bluesy folk-rock that got me saying Amen (literally) as Casey preached the good word of rock 'n' roll during their song "Bitches Be Trippin". Go see this band (or at least grab some MP3s).
Downstairs at Pianos, The Little Ones also caught me by surprise. At first it seemed like typical rock group, but they slowly won me over with infectious melodies, clapping and chanting. It has a surf-rock feel so it was unsurprising when I found out they are from California, whose sun & surf obviously played a part. It's also worth noting how wonderfully air-conditioned the venue is. Nothing can ruin a performance for fans like being miserably uncomfortable and it would be nice if certain local venues (coughcommongroundscough) made the same investment.
Land Of Talk took the stage next. Elizabeth Powell's sultry voice is reminiscent of Azure Ray's Maria Taylor, but she's backed by louder guitars. She gives it her own unique spin by letting her voice slip in and out of falsetto. Elizabeth perservered as the finger she had cut while slicing onions the day before bled throughout her performance. Despite said injury, it was refreshing to see her smiling so often during the set. She was really enjoying herself, and the happiness was infectious. More bands should follow her lead and show that they're having a good time on stage, getting paid to make music, instead of the darker, serious route that many bands take.
Claiming to have the best burgers in the city (how can you not trust a chalk board hanging over a bar?), I ordered a burger from the bar. It was an excellent meaty delight that felt so wrong (but good) to eat at BrooklynVegan's soiree. The hand cut fries are also highly recommended.
After an intensely bad show in Gainesville a year ago, I was going to avoid Thunderbirds Are Now!, but showed up early for CSS and saw two songs. With a slightly better soundsystem than where I saw them in Florida, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that only half of their horrible performance was their fault.
Cansei de Ser Sexy (Portuguese for "I Got Tired of Being Sexy") is a band name with certain expectations. You wouldn't name your metal band that (or maybe you would, you rebel you). But if you crave sexy, poppy and dancey songs then you wouldn't be disappointed. Like a dancier The Go Team!, CSS front woman Lovefoxxx prances around stage with confidence. Strutting her sexy and silly dance moves, including "the armpit smell dance," Lovefoxxx kept the packed room fixated and wanting more.
More photos after the jump!
The concert photographs we're highlighting this week were all taken at this year's CMJ Music Marathon. For more, browse Flickr's cmj2006 tag listing.
We Are Wolves by f.trainer on Flickr.
The Grates by Nevoreiel on Flickr.
Cloud Cult by jen c on Flickr.
Hot Chip by thatgreenplant on Flickr.
Purevolume Loft by justwatchthesky on Flickr.
Taylor sat down with all six members of Annuals after their Gainesville, FL performance last week. They talked about blogs, discovering new music, CMJ and more. Listen to highlights from the interview in an audio slideshow with photos from the concert. Then download the entire interview to hear what else they had to say.
Download the full interview (5.5 MB, 8 min 13 sec)
- Nov 3: New York, NY @ Other Music (Acoustic), 12 p.m.
- Nov 3: New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom, 9 p.m.
- Nov 4 : Brooklyn, NY @ The Annex (Brooklyn VeganDay Party), 1:30 p.m.
- Nov 6: New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom, 8 p.m.
- Nov 10: Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle +
- Nov 15: Cambridge, MA @ TT the Bears +
- Nov 18: Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas +
- Dec 2: Tuscon, AZ @ Rialto Theatre -
- Dec 3: Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad -
- Dec 4: Flagstaff, AZ @ Orpheum Theatre -
- Dec 5: Tempe, AZ @ The Clubhouse -
- Dec 7: Santa Barbara, CA @ SoHo -
What's The Download is a "comprehensive, research-based public education campaign designed by The Recording Academy (GRAMMYs) that recognizes the lack of dialogue between the music industry and the music fan." With a board of 12 in-the-know kids ranging from 20-26 years old, they aim to create coversations and offer insight among music creators and consumers through websites, K-12 lesson plans, PSAs and more.
After two years of research, The Board revealed their research and recommendations in a 70+ page report titled "WTD Music Survival Guide" (Full Report (PDF)). Thankfully for you (and me) the press conference summed it up into seven main points. These tips are aimed at the recording industry in an effort to help them cope with the changing landscape of music today.
#1 Educate To Eradicate Piracy:
Acknolwedging that record companies and RIAA lawsuits may be effective scare tactics, there is surely a better way to appeal to music consumers. Educating them on the amount of work and people involved in putting out an album is the first step. Who does pirating music hurt? What are the costs involved in publishing music?
This is a great idea, though I laugh when I think how many other industries have to justify their prices? It be interesting if Starbucks had to justify their $4 lattes? If you could walk into a coffee shop and steal a grande no-whip, would the coffee shop industry be forced to do something similar? Personally, I would love to be educated a bit more about the costs associated with a CD to justify prices and what makes some CDs $10 and some $18. While marketing is a necessary expense, when consumers find out that 20% of their money went towards plastering NYC with posters and ads in magazines, will they really change their mind?
#2 Make Music Retail Therapy:
Besides being more convenient, people may be turning to piracy because it is easier to discover and sample new music. Creating a retail environment with knowledgable staff and the ability to sample whole records (like on listening stations) would help create more motivation to get out to a store.
Again, I feel like this tip is a bit misaligned. Small record shops already thrive on the above advice, and are often gateways of discovering great new music whether it's just what's playing in the store or from advice from employees. I don't see larger retailers like Best Buy and Walmart having the economic motivation to hire a music-specialized staff, since music is a small slice of the pie whose sales are generated primarily by consumers there for other reasons. You can see the definition of music retailing expanding already as Starbucks' CD sales continue delivering explosive growth.
#3 Declare A Music/Tech Truce:
The industry isn't making it easy for consumers to use purchased digital music among their computers, digital devices etc. MP3s' interoperability is a key benefit of piracy, and the legal services need to be able to compete.
While there are a few avenues to choose from that already go this route (Magnatune is the first to come to mind), there is definitely a lack of options. DRM is like lending somebody your roadster to go to the grocery store but tracking it with GPS because you don't really trust that they won't take it for a joy ride. I think there will be a turning point where larger digital music retailers like iTunes will concede and sell plain vanilla mp3's, but I don't think it will happen until it is a forced market decision created by lots of smaller online stores with these options gaining more momentum.
Read the rest of the tips after the jump!
The CMJ Film Festival had a showing of "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" at the Walter Reader Theatre last night. It started about half an hour late; rough estimate since my phone, as well as everyone else's, were put in a "coat check" to thwart pirates who planned on taking grainy quality screen shots or 30 second movie clips, a real threat to future ticket sales, I'm sure.
It was all worth it as suddenly Borat made his way from the back of the room, kissing every man (and man) in the outside aisle. Usually you don't get to see the movie's character before a film, and Borat's guest appearance made the whole experience a bit more real. Aftr a quick introduction and thanks for coming in his lovable broken english speech pattern, he made it off the stage and the lights dimmed.
I've watched a few episodes of Ali G in my life (same actor, same kind of style) and had watched the preview for the film, but didn't have any real expectations. The film takes you on Borat's cross country journey from New York to California as he learns American customs to take back to his homeland and chases down the love of his life. A bear in an ice cream truck, mechanical bull riding with a prostitute, a baywatch babe and an intensely hilarious naked wrestling match later the movie had flown by. I'm not usually a dumb comedy fan. I wasn't that impressed with Zoolander or Dodgeball (two of my roommates favorites) but this movie literally makes you laugh till it hurts. The religious and easily offended may not enjoy the anti-semitism (there's a running of the Jews, and Borat even blames the Jews for the WTC), but taken all in good fun, it doesn't hinder the experience.
With the Ali G style of mixing a bit of reality filming (putting Borat in hilarious situations) along with normal movie directing, makes this the funniest film I have seen in recent memory (with Jackass 2 coming in a close second).
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan comes out in theaters this Friday November 3rd. You can check out the full streaming soundtrack to the film over at AOL Music.
Saturday's skies promised much clearer weather. Just after dusk, I caught a mostly unannounced set at American Apparel's "Grand Opening". Despite the new downtown light fixture (they have like 100 light bulbs on 24/7 in that store, I swear) being open for over a month, it was a good excuse to shove a band in a corner and play some free music. It was also a good place to for the Ceramic Cat's to test out their band with it's debut performance. With a backdrop of bright, sweatshop-free cotton, this fivesome (including Cory M. on laptop and Alex, singer from The Beat Buttons) played some really refreshing, though depressing, ambient folk. They even had a glockenspiel (I just like to say that word).
One of the venues I'm really glad The Fest has begun taking advantage of is Gainesville's large outside Downtown Plaza stage. More than a few people took the opportunity to stretch out on the grass and enjoy some filling Fivestar Pizza. The Ghost Mice performed to over hundred people with a quarter of them sitting indian style on stage, looking up at the Bloomington trio, singing along to every word. According to wikipedia the second time they ever played with mics and amps was this performance. They are usually 100% acoustic which certainly gives them the freedom to travel lightly. The Ghost Mice play some really enjoyable, sing-a-long folk-punk and if they ever needed a place to fit in, they would be right at home in Athens, Georgia with the Elephant Six collective.
Refueling commenced with some delicious hawaiin chicken, rice & beans (thanks Michael!) and we were back on the streets of Gainesville. Averqiou played a short set at Bar One. Lead singer Matt Brink, who's got the Weezer look going on, and the rest of the foursome looked like they were having a blast on stage. They may not have a website (or even myspace) but that doesn't stop this bunch from playing great indie-rock.
Over at The Atlantic, Planes Mistaken For Stars took the place over, and rocked out for half an hour as the festees (one who fests, of course) went nuts. With lead Gared and Matt on "backing screams" this Denver group can bring the hardcore while delivering stinging, textured melodies. Their myspace lists their influences as "Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Black (the color)" which seems pretty accurate though I might tack on Pirates to that list. All Gared was missing was an eye patch and he could've fooled me.
Jaunting over to Club Red, we caught Religious As Fuck, a side project of some members in Assholeparade. They deliver short, and I mean short, explosive songs that provide mora than enough of an excuse to crowd surf, thrash around and pour beer down your neighbors throat. And when I say crowd surf, I literally mean it. A guy had a boogie board. There was even one fan, at the feet of the lead singer, playing his leg like a guitar. It was intense (and hilarious). Music that I would never request, but might go see again just to witness the crowd involvement.
Cinemechanica, a Podbop favorite, delivered an intense set at Bar One. Unforunately their dueling drummer had to take a week off, but we think Mike delivered enough for the both of them. I don't think the set was as enjoyable as when we saw them at Athens Popfest, but I credit that entirely to the not so great sound at the venue. In such a wide & narrow space, the sound was too reflective. These guys are masters of their instruments and create heavy, complex songs that you can't help but enjoy if you don't go deaf first.
More Photos After The Jump!
The Fest was planned beautifully this year to coordinate with the annual weekend where most of the city takes off to Jacksonville for the UF vs UGA football game. This left downtown mostly abandoned by the usual sprawl of clubbers and greeks and paved way for the influx of grungy, drunk and ready-to-rock kids (and kids at heart) for this years festivities. Past attendees will notice that with more bands than ever, even more venues had been recruited to participate leaving badge holders with eight venues and practically no downtime over the three day weekend.
I started my night off at a club called Bar One, which used to be called The Library where girls dressed as sexy librarians would dance on tables. It's got plenty of room to socialize and a rectangular off-shoot with an upstairs, and just enough room for most of the lesser known bands playing here. The size of the room limits the sound and it became overbearing more than a few times over the weekend, often finding a decent amount of people enjoying the show out by the bar. Tubers, a band on St Augustine's Bakery Outlet Records, started their loud post-hardcore show just after 10pm. I assume their singer wasn't just flapping his mouth, but I couldn't make out much over the tinged guitars and heart-pounding drum set.
Conveniently located caddy corner from Bar One (or bah-roh-ney as some took to calling it) is every indie kid's favorite Thursday night hangout, The Atlantic. Russian Circles, a band from Chicago--a city that knows it's instrumental rock, showed how creative compositions teamed with a delicate balance of agressive post-rock is the perfect mix for musicians and punk fans alike. Drawing comparisons among bands like Pelican and Explosions In The Sky, Russian Circles could've blown the roof right off The Atlantic if they had longer than their 20 minute set to play. Easily the most impressive show of the night.
After realizing that the ringing, that would persist the entire ear-blowing weekend, wasn't my phone but my ears, we moved on to Club Red just in time to be caught in the first down-pour in over a month. Mother nature has great timing, but maybe she was tired, even by the first day of three, of smelling the sweaty fumes pour out of clubs around town (true signs that good times were being had). Club Red was taken over by the Electronic Sub South Showcase (which we previewed earlier) and caught Chiisai-Oto. Our own Podbop Editor Cory Monteiro is one half of this glitch-hop duo. We were excited to hear much improvement and complexity in their songs since we last saw them over a year ago. Mixing R&B, ambient noise, and bleeps made for an enjoyable, though short, set.
After the rain subsided we wandered over to the largest venue of the bunch, Abbey Road, a little early for the main headliner. Forunately for us, P.O.S. was playing, a wonderful accidental discovery. P.O.S. is a two man rap group (one MC & a DJ) from Minneapolis. With great charisma, and a smile that you could see from the back of the room, frontman Stefon Alexander got the whole crowd involved. With humorous, honest quips like, "Even if you found yourself accidently at a rap show, you can feel this, throw your hands up in the air" worked wonders on the mostly indie-rock/hipster crowd who had gathered for Minus The Bear. I enjoyed it so much, his album became the first hip-hop album I bought since the cassette single of Crossroads (if that even counts). Check out his wikipedia entry for more info.
Minus The Bear ended the evening with a crazy long (by The Fest standards) 45 minute set. Mostly playing off their album "Menos El Oso" they also threw in a new song that will be on their follow-up next year. Headlining the most expensive single show during The Fest at $17 (without a wristband) they filled the house almost to capacity. Smart indie-rock was enjoyed by all and everyone went home exhausted (but looking forward to two more days!).
More photos after the jump!
A little late, but not too late. I just got word that No Idea (Gainesville's favorite record label) is putting on a photo scavenger hunt this weekend. You can still knock out most of this list today and tomorrow if you get busy!
- All pictures must include a Fest 5 wristband.
- All photos must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, Oct 31 at noon.
- Photos must be labeled with the corresponding item on the list.
- Be respectful. Make friends. Don't be a jerk. Get to know the people that live here.
- Don't vandalize or trample lawns in our great town.
- Most points wins!
- First Place: A one of a kind item from the No Idea band of your choice!!! and $40 gift certificate to No Idea mailorder
- Second Place: 2 passes to Fest 6
- Third Place: $40 gift certificate to No Idea mailorder
Full scavenger hunt list after the jump!
While Hot Cross often gets slapped with the "ex-members of" label, it's clearly time to stop romanticizing the past. With no signs of slowing down, this group has lasted longer and progressed more than the members' late-'90s efforts -- Saetia, You and I. Yet those bands still hang on to the hearts of many, myself included. Call it nostalgia. But let's focus on the present.
Intricate guitar lines, sing-speak vocals and driving rhythms. 2004's Fair Trades & Farewells EP was an exceptional teaser, barely clocking in at 17 minutes. The three-year wait for a follow-up full length can seem like a lifetime. But if the rough 2005 demos on the band's MySpace are any indication, Risk Revival should defy expectations. Here's hoping Hot Cross gets more of the attention they deserve in 2007. They've no doubt paid their dues.
Doing it themselves
- Drummer Greg Drudy runs Level Plane Records, which put out all the Hot Cross releases before the band got signed to Equal Vision Records earlier this year.
- Bassist Matt Smith has designed most of their album artwork and merchandise.
- Ex-guitarist Josh Jakubowsky owns Cannon Road Studio, where he recorded the Fair Trades & Farewells EP. He parted ways with Hot Cross because his schedule as a recording engineer got in the way of extensive touring. And when the band was unsatisfied with the way their new full-length (and EVR debut) sounded, they went to Josh to re-record it. Expect a February 2007 release date.
Other upcoming shows:
(w/ Ampere, Das Oath)
Oct. 27 @ Yo Yo Gallery in Atlanta, GA
Oct. 29 @ Lunchbox Records in Charlotte, NC
Oct. 30 @ Warehouse Next Door in Washington D.C.
Here are some artists playing CMJ Marathon 2006 that we've covered for either Athens Popfest or Bumbershoot. I especially have to recommend Poison Control Center who put on one of the most entertaining shows I've seen this year. Just check out this photo to get an idea of their on-stage antics.
The Divorce is a fun band from Seattle. They're a bit quirky but very accessible and 100% easy to get into. They're live shows are tons of good ol' fashioned party goodness; they rock a ton of catchy pop/rock songs that you can dance to.
If you take the time to look a bit deeper you'll find some great songwriting and a pretty unique perspective on all sorts of things. I've seen them quite a few times and have never been disappointed. I like both their albums, but I'd really recommend checking out their first full length, There Will Be Blood Tonight.
Saturday 11/4 @ Crash Mansion; 11pm
Cinemechanica is a progressive post-hardcore band out of Athens, Gerogia. With a recently added second drummer, they throw down like not many other bands of their caliber. No, seriously. Their live shows are incredible. And you can even learn to play the drums with this man. They also have an alter-ego that's gotten mention in Nintendo Power magazine. First it was called Contraband, now Megaband, and they play the soundtrack to the respective video game while a wizard (no not that one) beats it in half an hour. With no breaks, it's pretty grueling on the musicians, but definitely worth it for the audience.
We recently got a chance to sit down with Cinemechanica drummer Mike Albanese when he was recording the new Building the State album at Andy Baker's studio in Athens. Many thanks to Regina Quattrocki for transcribing the interview. Here's what Mike had to say:
What are some of the most life-changing shows that you've seen?
That's actually a really good question. Number one is Hum. "Stars" was their big hit, but that was their only big hit. They were totally the first band that I'd seen that was pretty underground. They got on 120 Minutes. We found out about them way back when I was like 15 or 16. We got our friends to drive us to New York, and I saw them at Irving Plaza. It was so loud and so space-rock. I'd never really heard a band that was profoundly distorted and really delayed. It seemed like every single person there knew. There were about 800 people there maybe. Of all of New York, 800 people knew Hum. Because anybody who knew Hum and was in New York definitely was at that show because it was like a cult. It was like 800 people who worshipped this band. That was definitely when I decided to play music for life.
Hot Snakes. I don't know if you know that one, but Hot Snakes, that's a recent one. But I was like, "Oh my god! You could be 40 and just bulldoze the entire audience, completely steamroll them." Those dudes, you know Drive Like Jehu, that's one of my favorite bands ever. So seeing Hot Snakes and having it be one of my favorite shows of all time and having it be so well mixed and so professional and yet so rock and roll. I just like shows that give you insight into how other people do it when they're doing it well. When they have their shit together 10 times more than you do - I love that now. I'm just like, thank God that there are bands that have their shit together at that level for that long. Those dudes have been doing bands and touring aggressively and playing amazing shows for almost 20 years now.
Are there any fun tour stories you'd like to share?
We play a good amount of shows. We'll play in Boston and do really well. We'll play in D.C. and do pretty well, but sometimes the most exciting shows on tour are like Sanford, North Carolina. Where there's a pocket of kids who are probably still in high school, or some of them have graduated that are just sticking around. And they got about three or four bands that are in their scene, but it's Sanford, North Carolina. There's no venue or infrastructure. They create everything, you know what I mean. Those are the most out-of-the-blue shows. Basically this student MySpace stuff. Actually one guy runs all the shows there. He was driving like two hours to come see us. He told us that we have to come to Sanford. We said it's a done deal. If there are people there that want to see us, then we'll definitely go. We expected only 20 to 30 people, but dude, there were about 150 kids who love crazy rock music. They know all these underground bands because for whatever reason, in their town that's what those kids do. They get into big underground music early. You know how some towns have a really thick skate culture; some towns have a hip-hop culture. Well Sanford, North Carolina, has this ridiculous underground, crazy music thing. So all these bands go through there now. We recommend that all these bands go through there because these kids are really starved for bands to come through because no bands go through there.
The drummer of Polvo, one of my all-time favorite bands, he just moved there. One of our friends, who we've known forever, he was like, "Hey, that dude from Polvo moved down the street from me." Then he met him and he said that the guy is totally really cool, not like ex-rock-star totally cool but, I'm-a-dad-and-I-develop-software totally cool. So we would be playing these shows in North Carolina and seeing this dude and every six months we would see him. First he said the guy from Polvo moved down the street. Then again, this is Stanford and there are only like four bands, so you can imagine where this is going. Six months later, he's like, "Dude, we started a cover band. We went over there and played a couple songs with him." Then six months later he's like, Dude, we wrote an original." Then six months later he's like, "Dude, we're playing a show with you guys." Then next thing we know, we're playing with the drummer of Polvo's new band, which sounds kind of like Hot Snakes and is amazing. The dude is getting off the plane coming from some big business meeting and then driving to some high school rec room where we played the show. He's was like rocking out in a collared polo shirt. It was so hot. Endless hotness in Sanford, North Carolina.
So let's see, I'm going with Hum and Hot Snakes as my favorite shows, which in my opinion is cool. I'm going with Sanford, North Carolina as arbitrary tour story. There's so much arbitrary tour-ness. We played in one town where it was a similar thing, a little more collegiate, and all the kids there were really stoked on wine for after the shows. So they would drink all these 40s and then wash the bottles out and fill them with 4 to 3 ratio concentrated grape juice and then they'd pour yeast in it and then cap it for two weeks. It was vile but so hilarious. They had so much of it. They were like, "This one is from five weeks ago, and this one is from seven weeks ago, and this one has fine wine in it." They were like, "Dude, we'll sponsor you." That was in Grove City, Pennsylvania.
What inspires you?
People who are more passionate about what they do than I am. I feel like I've reduced my life to so few things that I really, really care about. I put so much time into each one of those that when I meet people and they are more focused than me and they're more dedicated - that just makes me want to elevate myself. It's just nice to see examples of people who really, really give a shit. It's pretty simple, but that's what gets me going.
The Fest V Performance:
Oct. 28, 10:50 @ Bar One w/ Fin Fang Foom, Building the State
Nov 2, 9:30 @ The Tank w/We Versus The Shark, Megaband, Tiger Bear Wolf
Nov 3, TBA
Bad Wizard's is that brand of low-brow rock-n-roll that flips a nice fat bird at indie prancers and somnamatic shoegazers. The kind of music that has no hoity-toity aspirations, whose notes underscore the whole loud and rollicking lifestyle that all musicians aspire to, even if they themselves don't realize it.
A friend says the group's AC/DC and then some. I see Bad Wizard as more akin to trailer-trash-rockabilly, as well as 1960s industrial personalities like Jimi Hendrix and MC5--trading in sideburns for beards, rolled sleeves encasing cigarettes with a big ol' pile of rolling papers.
I first heard these guys opening for 3 Inches Of Blood (see my previous post) and Early Man. They stirred something in my soul, even though I was in the bowels of Slim's in San Francisco hanging with friends. Maybe it's because they reminded me of my high school days in the late 1980s, when I was one of a very few who dug classic rock when it wasn't yet a radio genre. (Blasting the likes of "Funk 49" and "Cheap Sunglasses," my car stereo frightened both my dance team galpals and existential goth friends, heheh.)
Bad Wizard was founded in 1999 in Athens, Georgia, but soon migrated to NYC. The band's latest album, Sky High, is out on Howler Records. Sure, sometimes these guys are way obvoius with their 1970s references and stadium-rock aspirations. But overall, that Southern-fried musicality coupled with the freneticism of New York living equals the aural equivalent of Jolt Cola. Ooohh, tasty.
Friday 11/3, 1:15am @ Midway
The Changes are a Chicago band that got their start at last year's Lollapalooza (via MOKB) as the only unsigned band there. They've also had pretty recent media success with the blogs and even scoring Spins Artist Of The Day last month. They punch out some damn catchy melodies and write surface-deep lyrics that may not get you contemplating life but will definitely get you bouncing around. A plus is this music is pretty accessible. You'll be hooked on the first listen, though artists like that end up sliding down my most played list of the year, it's something I'm not making any long-term judgements on. It's just enjoyable.
Their debut release Today is Tonight is a bit of concept-album going for it as the soundtrack for your day. Opening up the album with a wonderfully new wavey mid-afternoon track "When I Wake" is a perfect snapshot of how times have changed. While singers Darren and David lament about getting up at the crack of noon, it was just 35 years ago that Harry Nilsson rang out about getting up before the sun comes up in "Gotta Get Up".
The album just keeps getting better from there with the xylophonic "On A String", the dancey "Modern Love", and the sultry "Twilight" (love that bass line). "Such A Scene" has got a great drum beat backing up the perfectly strained lyrics about heartbreak. The Changes close out the concept-album with tracks like "In The Dark" and "When I Sleep". Overall a very solid debut by this Windy City quartet. From the sound of their live MP3s, you should look forward to The Changes delivering all their love-ridden dance-pop songs in your face at CMJ.
Friday 11/3, 1pm @ Fontana's (Free BrooklynVegan Show)
Friday 11/3, 10pm @ Union Hall
Saturday 11/4, 8pm, @ Rebel
The Fest has always been dominated by punk-rock but had a decent amount of folk, pop, and hip-hop to offer. It always seemed to be missing.... Electronic!
Electronic SubSouth are putting an end to that with the first ever Electronic Music Showcase on Friday October 27th at Club Red. It's also one of the few shows where you can buy a single pass if you don't happen to have a wristband.
Here's the lineup:
8:50pm - Sephiroth Chorus combines a bit of New Order with electronica to create this self-proclaimed "commie art pop".
11:20pm - Chiisai-Oto (Tiny Sound in Japanese) is our very own Podbop Editor Cory blippin and boopin with his bandmate (and soundboard extraordinare) Alan. Chill stuff with a few unexpected surprises.
1:00am - Via Amsterdam, Bunnay seem to be more performance art than music art, but I'm all for something different. Check out their video of a performance in Gainesville last year. Bunnay is actually the one whipping people, the bunny is known as Dog. Go figure.
Gainesville's The Fest V will take place this coming Friday through Sunday. Check out the previously mentioned lineup (and cost analysis! less than 25 cents a band!) and look out as we highlight some bands that you don't want to miss. We'll also do some double-headers as there are a quite a few bands playing The Fest *and* CMJ Marathon.
Wednesday October 25th is the last day to get your tickets at the advance price of $40, then they jump up to $50. Remember, unlike past years, most shows will require a wristband and won't be selling single show tickets.
The Thermals are a straightforward yet unique rock threesome from the Pacific Northwest. Their latest -- The Body, The Blood, The Machine -- is one of my favorite albums right now. It's got great hooks, powerful and unique vocals and a very unique perspective. It's a "sort of" concept album and it's made great by some powerful contradiction, not only in the lyrics but in the sound itself.
It's blunt yet subtle, accessible yet hardly mainstream, complex yet stripped down and gloomy yet upbeat all at the same time.
I've not had the pleasure of seeing them live, but I hear they're great. Given the raw nature of the sound, I can see it translating to an awesome live act.
Thursday 11/2 @ Bowery Ballroom; 11pm; Sold-out Subpop Showcase (though badges can get in)
Friday 11/3 @ Fontanas; 4:45pm; Free show by BrooklynVegan (no badge needed)
Friday 11/3 @ Studio B; Headlining ProductShopNYC Showcase (so late at night)
With beautiful, fun, dancey but heartfelt pop music, The Blow keep improving with their fourth full-length release, Paper Television, coming out October 24th. Here's a track-by-track rundown of the new sounds:
1. Pile Of Gold - Pete Ohs (of my favorite newly discovered music blog at the moment The Anchor Center) says it all in his Video Review (in the style of VH1's Pop-up Video).
Key Lyric: "All the girls are sitting on a pile of gold."
2. Parentheses - With a soft Hawaiin vibe, this should be every English teacher's love song of choice. And if one pair of parenthesis is good, two must be better ))<>((
Key Lyric: "When you're holding me, we make a pair of parentheses."
3. The Big U - Jona Bechtolt (one half of The Blow) brings the beats mixing in some galactic videogame inspired bleeps. An odd love song speaking to a lover (girl? guy?) in love with another man.
Key Lyric: "I consider myself lucky to be let in on your threesome."
4. The Long List Of Girls - Continuing with the pushed-to-the-side, one-of-many-lovers songs on this album, one can't help but think she subconsciously likes being in this position.
Key Lyric: "Rub up on me boy, I'll love you enough."
5. Bonjour Jeune Fille - It starts out with the same verse being sung alternately in French and English and gets dirtier and dirtier from there as she continues to offer her body up for free love.
Key Lyric: "I'll make you into a suit of clothes and wear you."
6. Babay (Eat A Critter, Feel It's Wrath) - Khaela's beautiful voice really shines as she stretches out the Babay chorus. One of the best tracks of the album. It's also the turning point where she starts to realize that the antoganist wasn't playing hard to get, but was generally not interested.
Key Lyric: "Baaaaaaaaaybaaaaayheyayayayayyyy Baaaaybayyy."
7. Eat Your Heart Up - As this heart-broke theme continues she seems to be getting a little agressive now, instead of being content to be one of many like in track 4.
Key Lyric: "Chew it up and swallow."
8. Pardon Me - "Pardon Me" reminds me of Ben Harper's "Excuse Me" (both the beat and song title). While Ben laments the destruction of our planet, Khaela takes on one night stands and being led on. She picks things up, she breaks things down and she even throws in a crunch (literally) that would've been more humoursly placed in the previous song.
Key lyric: "Pardon me but wasn't that your heart / that I felt on the bed / in the bed in between the sheets?"
9. Fists Up - The hurt/broken/bitter stages of love+loss are taking their shape. She describes the difficulties and the pain of losing somebody you aren't ready to lose. It's no wonder this is the longest track on the album (clockin in at just over 4 minutes) as this is probably the most heartfelt and personal on the album.
Key Lyric: "My hopes have lost, my hopes have fried."
10. True Affection - The closing song has a bit of The Knife feel. She tries to be content with her loss, convincing herself she was out of his league. It's not a full resolution, but what in life really is?
Key Lyric: "I was out of your league, you were 20,000 underneath the sea."
Check out a solo set (without Jona's beats, lacking some of the oomph of the record) over on lullabyes.net or grab their entire album Poor Aim: Love Songs (.zip) courtesy of her label until October 24th. Khaela's blog is at thetouchmefeeling.com/ and Jona's is at teamyacht.com. I especially enjoyed Khaela's post on being alone.
CMJ Performance: Friday 11/3, 10pm @ Irving Plaza
All this week we will be bringing you features and previews of bands (and parties) performing at this year's CMJ Marathon 2006 which begins next week, Tuesday October 31st.
Here's a few more resources to keep your eyes glued on as you get revved up:
- Fiddle While You Burn's List Of Free Shows - Plenty to keep you busy even if you don't go the badge route
- RSVP for KEXP Special Events - Free in-studio performances that are filling up quick
- The official CMJ Schedule - Keep your eyes peeled for an in-house improvement we are launching soon ;-)
- Technorati Tag Search for CMJ2006 - Be sure to tag your posts and photos with CMJ2006 to show up on our soon-to-be-launched festival page
Seattle's KEXP 90.3 FM will be at CMJ broadcasting live from Gigantic Studios (59 Franklin Street, between Broadway & Lafayette - below Canal) for free. Sign-up now to see The Rose Wood Thieves, Darc Mind, Head Like A Kite, Voyager One, The Apples In Stereo (with Elijah Wood), What Made Milwaukee Famous, Plus/Minus, The Broken West, 120 Days, Fields, Low Frequency Stereo, and The Shackletons. Or be daring like me and sign up for the three TBA's (and hope for the best).
BrooklynVegan is putting together a few free showcases at CMJ this year. All these shows run from noon to 5pm, are open to the public (no CMJ badge required), have free booze & food, and are 21+.
Wednesday, Nov 1st @ Pianos: CSS, Thundebirds Are Now!, Land Of Talk, The Little Ones, Nicolai Dunger, Loney Dear, Sure Juror
Saturday, Nov 4th @ The Annex: Silversun Pickups, The Big Sleep, Tokyo Police Club, Elvis Perkins, Annuals, White Whale, Takka Takka
And a whole load more of non-badge free shows over at Fiddle While You Burn!
Gainesville's annual punk-rock drenched weekend (with most other genres repped here and there as well) is coming up in just three weeks! This will be my third thefest, and while there aren't as many big names as in years past, I'm still looking forward to the venue-hoppin', music discoverin' weekend with a whole community of new drinking buddies.
TheFest V: October 27, 28, 29 across 8 different venues. $40 (In Advance) or $50 the weekend of. At 170+ bands that comes out to less than a quarter a band! Lets see... gumball or your socks rocked off...tough call.
Affirmative Action Jackson, Against All Authority, Ampere, Ankou, Apollo Quartet, Armalite, The Arrivals, ASG, Assholeparade, Averkiou, Banner Pilot, Barn Burning, Barnacles, Battle!, Beat Buttons, Billy Reese Peters, Blacksnake, Bloodbath and Beyond, The Body Electric, The Bomb, Bossy, Brainworms, Building The State, Bullet Train To Vegas, Bullets To Broadway, Bunnay, By The Horns, Cassette, Chiisai-Oto, Chuck Ragan, Cinemechanica, Clint Maul, Cloak/Dagger, The Cold Ones, Coliseum, The Copyrights, Currents, The Damn Wrights, Dan Padilla, Das Oath, David Shultz, Dead To Me, Dear + Glorious Physician, Defiance Ohio, Die Hoffnung, Dillinger Four, Direct Control, The Door-Keys, Drag The River, Dukes of Hillsborough, Environmental Youth Crunch, The Ergs, Erin Tobey, Escape Grace, Fake Problems, Fifth Hour Hero, Fin Fang Foom, Fiya, Fleshies, Forensics, Frozen Cobra, The Fucking Wrath, The Future Virgins, Geoff Reacher, Ghost Mice, Giuseppe, Glass & Ashes, Glossary, Gospel, Government Warning, Grabass Charlestons, Guiltmaker, Haram, The Hold, The Holy Mountain, The Horror, Hot New Mexicans, Hot Cross, Hunchback, Jena Berlin, Johan Ess, Josh Small, Ken Will Morton, The Keyons, Koabra, Kylesa, Laserhead, Latterman, The Lawrence Arms, Lemuria, Lifetime, Liquid Limbs, Liza Kate, The Lovekill, Lovesongs, Luca Brasi, Madeline, Matty Pop Chart, Minus The Bear, Modern Machines, The Moniker, The Monistats, Mustangs And Madras, New Bruises, New Mexican Disaster Squad, Nervous Dogs, Ninja Gun, No More, None More Black, The North Atlantic, North Lincoln, No Trigger, Off With Their Heads, The Ones To Blame, One Reason, O Pioneers, P.O.S., Paint It Black, Panty Shanty, Paul Baribeau, Pink Razors, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Radon, Religious As Fuck, Rescue, The Revenge, Ringers, Riverboat Gamblers, Russian Circles, Savage Brewtality, Saw Wheel, Scouts Honor, Sephiroth Chorus, Sex Picnic, Shark Pants, Sidecar Racer, Sinaloa, Sir Prize Fighter, Smoke or Fire, Solid Pony, Stressface, Swayze, Swedish Party Pranks, Swing Ding Smigos, Thee Kvit Ov (((Ouroboros, This Bike Is A Pipebomb, This Is My Fist, Thunderbirds Are Now!, Thunderlip, Tiltwheel, The Tim Version, Tiny Hawks, Towers Of Hanoi, Toys That Kill, Transistor Transistor, Tubers, Two Cow Garage, Ultra Dolphins, The Underground Railroad To Candyland, Vagina Sore Jr., Valiant Thorr, VCR, The Velvet Teen, Vena Cava, The Viirus, Whiskey & Co., Whiskey Binge McKinney, Whiskey Sunday, Worn In Red, The Worst, You Me And The Atom Bomb, Young Livers
For more info check out thefestfl.com and stay tuned for full festival coverage!
Lady Sovereign doing "Love Me or Hate Me" at Bumbershoot. Good stuff.
Rogue Wave was one of my favorites of Bumbershoot 2006. They put on a really amazing live set. Check it out.
Having seen Spoon a few times, I know how great they are live. Most recently I caught an outstanding Spoon show in their hometown of Austin playing to 20,000 or so adoring fans as the sun set on warm spring evening. Lead singer Britt Daniel spent little time talking and let the music set the atmosphere.
But how would Spoon translate in the direct sun of a 90-degree summer day playing before about 5,000 people in a stadium that was only about 20 percent full? I think Daniel knew this would be a challenging show. After all, how many Spoon shows do you think have been played at 2:45 in the afternoon in front of a crowd of people who probably didn’t know Spoon had been releasing quality albums since the mid-'90s? I guess not many.
But Daniel and the rest of the boys in Spoon were up to the challenge. Playing songs from every step of their decade plus career, Spoon kept the vibe fresh and the pace steady. Every couple songs or so, Daniel would stop and share a few words with the crowd to keep us engaged and let us know how happy he was to be there. Midway through the set, comedian David Cross was brought out on stage to “interpret the music for the hearing impaired.” Cross proceeded to prance around the stage for the next four minutes, loosely interpreting the lyrics and punctuating his appearance by showing everyone his ass. Britt also mentioned that it was bassist Joshua Zarbo’s last show until he rejoins the band again.
Overall, the show was fun and surprisingly light. Perfect for the new fans hearing Spoon for the first time on this sunny late summer day.
Atmosphere took the stage right as the sun was going down on the final day of Bumbershoot 2006. They had the pleasure of opening up for the re-united Tribe Called Quest, and I believe that they were excited to do so. With about 10,000 fans gathered to close out the festival with their backpacks full of mind-altering substances, Slug took the stage decked out in a snow-white track suit and quickly worked the crowd into a frenzy.
The first half of the set was that of typical hip-hop show fare. Ant on the tables, Slug with the mic and various hype men helping deliver the raps. I also believe that Brother Ali made and appearance but couldn’t tell from my vantage point. Slug kept the energy up as he paced the stage relentlessly, playing to all areas of the crowd.
About half way through the set, the stage went entirely black and for a few moment and all that could be heard was screaming teenage girls until the sound of a crunchy Nirvana guitar riff came blasting through the air. As the lights rose, a full backing band was revealed to play the music supporting Slugs rhymes. Immediately the crowd went nuts and Atmosphere obliged their adoration by continuing his energetic set. They played songs from the Overcast/Lucy Ford era up to the current album, You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having.
What's that? You live in Seattle? You're still high on Bumbershoot energy and want to keep going? The Decibel Festival is this weekend, September 14-17, with an awesome electronic-weighted lineup featuring 79 performers:
1Luv, Alex Smoke, Andreas Tilliander, Anton Zalaparta, Apendics.Shuffle, Apparat, Barca Lounge DJ's, Ben Milstein, Bola, Brainboxing, Brett Johnson, Camea And Insideout, Chachi Jones, Claude Vonstroke, Davide Squillace, Derek Fisher, Deru, DJ Recess, Eddie, Electrosect, Fax, Foscil, Green Velvet, Greenstar, Greg SKidmore, Introcut, Jacob London, Jeremy Ellis, Jemory Nail, Jerry Abstract, Jon Mcmillion, Justin Byrnes, Kate Simko, KFO, Kinoko, Kris Moon, Kristina Childs, Latinsizer, Let's Go Outside, Logic Probe, Lusine, Mat Anderson, Mc Anton Bomb, Mister Leisure, Mokira, Mork Choklad, Mr. Projectile, Murcof, NDCF, Nortec Collective, Panoptica, Paul Edwards, Plan B, Plankton Man, Ramiro, Randy Jones, Richard Chartier, Robin Judge, Rudement, RUoho Ruotsi, Ryoichi Kurokawa, Scifisol, Scott Sunn, Senor Frio, Son Of Rose, Soultek, Speedy J, Static, Subtle, Suntzu Sound, Taylor Deupree, Tekgnosis, Telefon Tel Aviv, The Dead Texan, The Perfect Cyn, Thomas Fehlmann, Tim Xaview, Yann Novak, [R.I.P.] Ephraim Alexander
Bold = Podbop Picks
Random Subtle fact: Whlie on their first tour, Patrick (their sound guy) was driving and hit black ice and crashed. Keyboardist Dax Pierson was paralized from the chest down and now plays with a MIDI controller in his mouth. Amazing and seriously inspiring.
There is also a whole slew of optical artists scheduled that will keep your eyes spinning. The above image is a sampling of Scott Pagano's work. Gwen Williams' space-trance light art looks mesmerizing as well.
Tickets range from $50 - $100 depending on how much partying you want to do.
Stepping into Memorial Stadium on Sunday night to check out Kanye West I had very high expectations. I had been hearing and reading how good Kanye was live, and I was skipping Jose Gonzalez and Zero 7 to see for myself. Met by over 22,000 excited fans, I was immediately caught up in the energy. The place was absolutely buzzing in anticipation after local hip-hop heroes Blue Scholars finished their set (which I missed to finish a couple extra beers).
Now, let me say, I was not a Kanye West fan and didn't truly understand how and why he had become so popular. Also, Memorial Stadium is the last place anybody would expect to be a good place to see a live show because it is basically an old run down high school football stadium. But this was being touted as "The Show" of Bumbershoot 2006, so I decided I couldn't miss it.
Where have all the flowers gone? In my fist, mothaf***ers!Where have all the flowers gone? In my fist, mothaf***ers!
OK, so you're in San Francisco and you see there's some kind of music festival this weekend called Power To The Peaceful. Do you (a) get decked out in Birkenstocks, beads and an unwashed knit hat; or (b) un-mothball that darkly humorous T-shirt you haven't worn since Jerry Garcia died -- you know, the one that says "Get a life, take a bath, get a job"?
Well, there's no reason for Power To The Peaceful -- happening Saturday, Sept. 9 -- to evoke either extreme reaction. Instead, musician/filmmaker Michael Franti has put together a lineup of bands and DJs that evoke a rainbow coalition of the hipper side of the 1960s. What started out as an event supporting Mumia Abu-Jamal (friends call him "political prisoner"; foes, "cop-killer") has grown through the years. It even ended up with a "Support The Troops" theme, sort of, last year.
Anyway, who can argue with a day of music in the lush Golden Gate Park? Even if you don't like Franti's mix of '60s effects, reggae rhythms and gravelly but lyrical song-speak, there's bound to be something else to enjoy. Festival trailer and this year's artist lineup after the jump.
And if you flash the two-prong salute instead of the peace sign, I promise not to tell!
The show I raved about at this year's Popfest was recorded by the incrediblely talented Sloan Simpson. Since this was probably in my top 10 concerts ever you can imagine how ecstatic I am that I can relive it over and over and over.
02) Jeff Davis County Blues
03) Color In Your Cheeks
04) Southwood Plantation Road
05) Oceanographer's Choice
06) The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton (hail satan!)
07) Broom People (about a girl he used to have sex with 3 times a day)
08) Golden Boy (never been played live before)
09) You Better Keep It On Your Mind
10) Going To Georgia (ends with story about this version of No Children)
11) No Children (beautiful crowd sing-a-long)
Perry joins in on backup guitar + vocals:
12) Song For Dennis Brown
14) Monkey In The Basement
15) Wild Sage
16) Night Of The Mules
17) Dance Music
18) Against Pollution (Please shut up Perry)
19) I Am Morris Townsend (Perry Wright original)
20) See America Right
21) This Year
I spent lots of time yesterday sitting (or laying) on the grass listening to good mellow music. I wish I could tell you that I saw something outstanding, but while everyone was really good, nobody really blew me away.
Still, it was a great way to wind up a great festival. To be honest I was pretty crispy from the previous two days and needed the relax time.
My second day at Bumbershoot was quite a bit mellower than the first in many ways. I spent lots of time relaxing and enjoying the day and much less time running from show to show.
That said, there was some great performances to be seen and I managed to catch a few.
My first day at Bumbershoot began with a touch of frustration, but ended up as one of the best days I've ever had there.
You can't attend something like Bumbershoot and not be a little bit frustrated. It's a huge public event and the crowds can be maddening. There are way too many people, many of them too small or too large or too fast or two slow. Combined with 90-degree weather and lots of lines -- well, you can guess that it's slightly annoying.
Add to all that a disappointing experience getting my press credentials (they didn't have me down for a photo pass and the basic pass isn't all that useful), and I was about done with the bullshit and ready to rock real quick.
Bumbershoot starts today and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll be heading down around 11 this morning to check in and get my press pass, then it's off to the Mainstage for The Gossip -- I'm pretty excited for that.
Here's a list of what I'm thinking about in getting ready for this weekend:
- It's going to be near 90. That's blazing as far as I'm concerned.
- How can I see AFI, The Blood Brothers, Lady Sovereign, Badly Drawn Boy and Cloud Cult all at the same time?!? Damn you Bumbershoot organizers!
- Am I actually going to brave the Exhibition Hall (a huge cave with horrible sound) for The Thermals, Deerhoof, The Fall of Troy and Sparta? Not sure about that; see my first bullet.
- English Beat or A Tribe Called Quest?
- Will I be able to work some comedy in? Upright Citizens Brigade will be there, as well Best Week Ever Live.
- Will I have time for Flatstock? Hell yes! I'll make time.
As you can bet, it's going to be pretty crazy. I'll do my best to bring you great coverage and in as timely a manner as possible. Wish me luck and if you've got any advice, bands I should check out, etc., hit up the comments.
BumberFan Club members (meaning anyone that signed up for their email list) recently recieved a coupon that promises a free "item" upon redemption. I have no idea what that item is...maybe a keychain, maybe an autographed Fender Stratocaster, but who can complain?
Print out the pdf and redeem anytime this weekend at the Bumbershoot booth on the west side of the International Fountain Lawn. If you are going, have a great time this weekend and do let us know what you get!
I first heard Dengue Fever a bit less than a year ago. My friend Geoff recommended them to me, saying I should give them a listen and check out their show as they were coming through Seattle. I missed the show but really enjoyed their latest long play, Escape From Dragon House.
I've since seen them live, at an amazing set during SXSW, and now it's my turn to recommend them. They're a very cool and unique band, mixing American surf rock and psychedelic garage with Cambodian pop. Oh, and they get jazzy, folksy and rocky a bit too.
They're fronted by Cambodian star Ch'hom Nimol, who's haunting and memorable vocals bring everything together and give them that little something extra that makes them really special.
And they really do put on a great show. I highly recommend checking them out next time they come anywhere near where you're at. Ch’hom Nimol is beautiful in so many ways and an absolute pleasure to watch, and listen to, and the rest of the band is very fun, entertaining and full of energy.
Bumbershoot Performance: 1:30 p.m. at the Bumbrella Stage on Sunday, September 3nd. They'll also be playing a live set broadcast online at KEXP 90.3 FM at 2:30 p.m. on Monday.
The Fall of Troy is a killer young band from Mukilteo, Washington, a small little burg just outside of Seattle. Their music, however, is anything but small. It's epic, loud, hard and packed full of dynamite.
Upon first listen you might be reminded of At The Drive-In. Perhaps with a bit of an emo sound mixed in. And I think that's an apt comparison. My guess is most folks will put these guys in the "screamo" or "emocore" category.
After a few more listens you may, like I did, realize that there's quite a bit more going on here. The Fall of Troy are an interesting band; full of talent, technically adept and bursting with creativity. Their latest release Doppleganger has been in pretty heavy rotation for me the last few weeks and I can't wait to hear something new from them.
I'm planning on catching their set (even though I can't stand the Exhibition Hall) on Sunday and I'm really looking forward to it.
Bumbershoot Performance: 12:30 p.m. at the What's Next Stage in the Exhibition Hall on Sunday, September 3nd.
If you aren't lucky enough to be going to Bumbershooot in Seattle this weekend you can still catch some of the bands playing live sets for KEXP-FM 90.3 in Seattle and streaming online at kexp.org.
Sunday, Sept 3
- 12:00 Halou
- 1:15 Badly Drawn Boy
- 2:30 Cloud Cult (Preview Article)
- 3:45 Zero 7 & Jose Gonzalez (Preview Article)
- 5:30 Spoon
- 6:30 Saturday Knights
- 7:30 Abysinnian Creole
- 8:30 Macklemore
Monday, Sept 4
- 12:00 Jeremy Enigk
- 1:15 Rocky Votolato
- 2:30 Dengue Fever (Preview Article)
- 5:30 Nouvelle Vague
If you are going, stop by the KEXP booth this weekend for some free swag.
Ever heard of metal you could swing-dance to? Well, neither did members of 3IOB until I pointed out that one of their new songs -- "Night Marauders," which they played at Slim's during a recent U.S. tour -- had a syncopated rhythm that still resonates a month later. Then again, they noted in an e-mail exchange, "You were probably high."
Don't let images of rockabilly kids and MGM film classics scare you. Growing range and a spurt of change -- there are now more new members than founding ones in the outfit, known best for its dual growling/falsetto vocals -- are what make 3IOB so compelling in the metal realm. So much so that Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison is helming production of the band's upcoming album.
"There has been an upping of the ante... in that there are new influences and styles coming into the band," the guys say, "yet everyone is working hard to show that the member change hasn't had a negative influence or been a setback to the band."
Anyone who checked out the band during last month's tour would probably agree. At least in San Francisco, the crowd was highly appreciative of the current lineup (singers Jamie Hooper and Cam Pipes, guitarists Justin Hagberg and Shane Clark, drummer Alexei Rodriguez, and bassist Nick Cates). The slam dance pit kept more timid audience members a good 20 feet from the stage.
Those who've been following the band since before 3IOB's stint opening for The Darkness are already true fans. The rest of you should stream the Jordison-produced "Goatrider's Hoard" demo and grab the old favorite "Deadly Sinners" below. The demo sounds bit like a psychobilly/metal hybrid, fortelling even more compelling things to come.
Bumbershoot Performance: 7:45 - 8:45 p.m. at Ex Hall on Sunday, September 3rd.
Athens, GA - It wasn’t all twee pop and folk rock. Four of the harder-hitting Athens Popfest bands culminated to close out Friday night (Aug. 11). It was the perfect antidote to the cute overload you’d expect from a festival put on by HHBTM Records.
Cinemechanica's apocalyptic performance took a sharp-left turn from all things pop. Interweaving guitars and intricate drums built epic post-hardcore songs best experienced live. The band's dueling guitars have always been heralded, but now their cast includes two drummers. All of them played with deliberate intensity.
Not to be outdone, Poison Control Center was the most energetic band to grace the 40 Watt Club that night. Or at least the most acrobatic. Their guitarists were almost always jumping up, rolling around or playing upside down. The Iowa-based band has become a staple of the annual Popfest, performing at the event each year so far. They called it a family reunion. Their show climaxed when spectators piled onto the stage for a massive sing-along.
We Versus the Shark brought the acrobatics to their instruments. Amid a mess of dance-punk, math-rock and frenzied pop influences lie surprisingly cohesive songs. They're as catchy as they are complex. Disjointed hooks flirt with jittery guitars. Spastic and irresistible. At the end, the band bowed out, noting that they would rather be watching Deerhoof.
And so Deerhoof brought their arty noise-pop to Athens. Drummer Greg Saunier sat perched on a milk crate, flailing behind a kick, a snare and a cracked cymbal. The perfect counterpart to John Dieterich's angular guitarwork. Satomi Matsuzaki's childlike chirps and yelps lend themselves more to the band's sonic exploration than any real narrative. I loved it all, but Taylor and Mark wanted to leave early.
Deerhoof just completed their follow-up to 2005's The Runners Four, which should be released early next year. They will be performing at Bumbershoot on Saturday, September 2nd from 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Ex Hall. More tour dates after the jump.
Jamie Lidell's single-handedly bringing back the funk and soul of the '60s and '70s. All without making it sound dated and all while being a white guy from Cambridge, England. His five-year hiatus since his first full-length Muddlin Gear was rewarded with one of the best (and the grooviest) albums of 2005, Multiply.
I saw him perform at The Social in Orlando in June. Wearing a Hefner-esque silk robe to complete the laid back image, he let out an incredible performance. He would record beats and melodies and loop them as he sung the lyrics. The crowd couldn't help but sway back and forth, groove up and down, and let the soul-funk seep into their brain.
The second half of his performance got really annoying as he went into hardcore techno mode. Maybe I'm not enough of an electronica guy, but the beats were loud, improv and awful. I had to walk out of the club it was so bad. I usually don't do this, but I'd have to give the first part of his performance (the good half, where he sung songs off of Multiply) 4 stars, while the second techno-beat half gets only 1 star.
Check out some of his awesomely creative music videos and be sure to catch his Bumbershoot performance. I'd just leave when he starts the thump, thump, thump.
Bumbershoot Performance: 3:45 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. at the Bumbrella Stage on Saturday, September 2nd.
I first heard Great Big Sea a few years back at Bumbershoot, and I'm oh so glad they're finally coming back. They're not the type of band I'd have thought I'd be into at the time, but I remember having a ridiculously fun time at the show and have grown to love them since.
having a solid musical background and a clear connection to their roots. But they're more than that, bringing a great blend of original sounds to traditional, timeless instrumentation.
That combination, along with a boatload of energy, makes for a live show that anyone can get into, regardless of your preferred style of music. They're fun, engaging and well worth checking out.
Bumbershoot Performance: 9:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. at the Mural Amphitheater on Sunday, September 3rd.
Cloud Cult's Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus was easily one of my favorite albums of 2005. It's a mixed bag of goodies; one of those albums where every song has something unique and it's all good. In this case, very, very good.
The sound is a bit hard to describe. It's fairly accessible, but at the same time extremely diverse, thought provoking, quirky and deep. They meld genres well, going from folk to rock to pop and even electronica seemlessly.
I've never had a chance to see them live, and I'm very excited about the prospect this weeked. They're playing at the same time as AFI, a band I've been into for years but have never seen. My guess is I'll be seeing Cloud Cult, which should give you an idea of the high expectations I've got for the show.
Bumbershoot Performance: 9:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. at the EMP Sky Chruch on Saturday, September 2nd. They'll also be playing a live set broadcast online at KEXP 90.3 FM at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Wikipedia describes Zero 7 as "the British counterparts of the French downtempo group Air". I think that is a great comparison. Both groups conjure up late-night, coffee shop chats with that girl you just met. The kind of intimate, ambient pop that you might enjoy when washing away the day with a bottle of wine.
Zero 7 started out as the duo of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker. They first broke into the music scene by doing remixes (most notably the remix of "Climbing Up The Walls" featured as a B-side on Radiohead's "Karma Police" single). Since then they have released three albums (not including some remixes and DJ mix albums they did to stick to their roots).
The most recent album, The Garden, was released in May this year and features vocals from Mozez, Sia Furler (who put on an absolutely stunning solo show at SXSW in March), Tina Dico, Sophie Barker and Jose Gonzalez. You may recognize "In The Waiting" from the Garden State soundtrack.
Known for having up to a dozen people on stage during their live shows, look for Zero 7 to deliver the love while cooling down Sunday.
Bumbershoot Performance: 9:15 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. at the Sound Transit Backyard Stage on Sunday, September 3rd. They'll also be playing a live set broadcast online at KEXP 90.3 FM at 3:45 p.m. on Sunday.
Next weekend I'll be attending one of the biggest music festivals in the States: Bumbershoot. Seriously folks, this is a huge event with artists of all stripes from all over the world. Fortunately for you, our Podbop Festival coverage of Bumbershoot 2006 starts today.
Here's a list of who's performing:
3 Inches Of Blood, A Tribe Called Quest, AFI, Alejandro Escovedo, As I Lay Dying, Atmosphere, Badly Drawn Boy, Bettye LaVette, Bitter:sweet, Blondie, Blue Scholars, Breakestra, Brett Dennen, Cancer Rising, Cloud Cult, CocoRosie, Common Market, Copeland, Crystal Skulls, Daylight Basement, Decibel Showcase featuring Deadbeat, Lusine and SynthClub, Deerhoof, Dengue Fever, Derby, Dub Championz, Electric Shades of Blue, Erase Errata, Feist, Go Like Hell, Gokh-Bi System, Great Big Sea, Hawthorne Heights, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Izabelle, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Jacqui Naylor, Jamie Lidell, Jeremy Enigk, Johanna Kunin, Jose Gonzalez, Kane Hodder, Kanye West, Korby Lenker, Lady Sovereign, Laura Veirs, Luther “Guitar Jr” Johnson, Mark Pickerel & His Praying Hands, Mates of State, Matt Costa, Metric, mewithoutYou, Mon Frere, Mountain Con, New Fangs, Nomo, Nouvelle Vague, Of Montreal, Olympic Sound Collective, p:ano, Particle, Pk & What Army?, Po’okela Street Band, Randy Oxford Band, Rik Wright, Rishi Rich Project, Rocky Votolato, Rogue Wave, Romance, Seattle Hip Hop Showcase featuring Macklemore, The Saturday Knights and Abyssinian Creole, Seattle Jazz Showcase featuring Jim Knapp Orchestra, Kelley Johnson Quartet, Floyd Standifer, and John Bishop Group, Sera Cahoone, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Shooter Jennings, Sirens Sister, Slender Means, Sonya Kitchell, Sparta, Speaker Speaker, Spoon, Steve Miller Band, The Bellrays, The Blood Brothers, The Briefs, The Can’t See, The English Beat, The Epoxies, The Fall of Troy, The Gossip, The Hollowpoints, The Invisible Eyes, The Like, The Living Jarboe, The Lonely Forest, The Lonely H, The New Pornographers, The Purrs, The Subdudes, The Swains, The Thermals, The Transmissionary Six, The Veronicas, The Village Green, Thee Emergency, Tor Dietrichson with Mambo Cadillac, Vashti Bunyan, Velella Velella, West Valley Highway, Yellowcard, Yerba Buena, Zero 7
Pretty impressive, no? Check out the full schedule and lineup.
Aside from all the great music, Bumbershoot plays host to some of the world's top comedians, artists, poets and more. If that weren't enough, Bumbershoot's organizers, One Reel, are a great patron of arts and a non-profit group doing great things for the community here in Seattle.
It's going to be a great time. Look for lots of artist preivews this week, leading up to the event, and some great coverage throughout.
Athens, GA - Singer-songwriter Chris Adolf sits at the center of a rotating collective of Denver-based musicians. They started calling themselves Bad Weather California, in part to shake off any twee connotations that came with being known as The Love Letter Band (see source). Not that they have anything against the genre: TLLB's latest album was released on the deliciously twee HHBTM Records.
Whether alone with his acoustic guitar or backed by a full band, the alt-folk songs are played with such conviction and sincerity that I can't help hanging on to his every word. His Aug. 10 set at the 40 Watt Club during Athens Popfest found Chris with just a drummer. Despite the vulnerability that comes with being in the spotlight, his fervor was contagious. The room full of indie kids chanted his chorus: "Everybody lives in their own little world. Everybody sings their own little song."
After the standout performance, Kaela approached Chris for a few questions. He humbly obliged.
Are you guys on tour right now?
Chris: We tour a lot. Right now we're not. The drummer is a house painter and I'm a landscaper. We just saved up money and bought plane tickets to be here.
Do any live shows you've seen come to mind as being the most memorable?
Chris: I'm sure there are. I saw the Violent Femmes not long ago. They just blew the doors off the place. They've been around a long time. I saw the Pixies. They were good, too.
I wasn't there, but the documentary The Last Waltz of The Band's last performance - that concert was really inspiring. Those guys really knew how to play.
What inspires you?
Chris: I don't know. I have this theory that if I knew, I wouldn't be good at it. I used to try to write songs. When I forced them they were never good songs. So I got them to write themselves. If they write themselves, if it just happens right away, then I keep them. If it takes more than a couple hours, then I just throw them out. So I wish I knew. I'm glad I don't know, but I wish I knew. Because if I knew, I could write a lot more songs. I just have to sit around and wait for them to come.
Athens, GA - Mouser kicked off the fourth night of Popfest at the 40 Watt Club on Aug. 11. Guitar, bass and drums were supplemented by a horn section and a whole lot of energy. They won the 2006 Flagpole Athens Music Award for Best Experimental Band.
Between songs, frontman Colby Carter kept mumbling nonsense about messy burritos. After their set, Taylor tracked him down outside the venue for a few questions.
Mouser will be performing tomorrow, Aug. 26, at the Homemade Genius art and music festival in Greenwood, SC, starting at 4 p.m.
What inspires you as a musician?
Colby: Heartbreak, social anxiety, the fact that I’m a pretty good guitar player. Comparatively and unfortunately I have to say, I know a lot of good musicians but I’m really good. I just pick up on the scale situation; that’s the reason. That inspires me. The fact that I like guitars inspires me. Also, my friends, Athens, Georgia, the people. There are a lot of people here for the same reason, so that’s very inspiring. There’s constantly someone to play music with, so everybody builds off of that.
Have you ever been to any life-changing shows?
Colby: I saw Deerhoof in Atlanta last year. That was really good. I was with my ex-girlfriend at the time and I was stomping around. I kind of broke a toe stomping on it. She wasn’t into it, but I freaked out. I love Deerhoof. They’re playing tonight, so that’s good.
Are you sticking around for that?
Colby: Yes, Yes. I’m going to meet them and praise them, and everything I can possibly do. They look so angry. They’ve been on tour for a long time, so they’re probably really tired. I want to hang out with them. I don’t know, what’s a good concert? I forget everything, which is horrible. The Buzzcocks, that was a good show. That was here last month. I don’t know. I just come from a family of musicians, so it was always kind of there. The guitars were there, and it’s like I’m bored and that looks fun.
Are you touring or recording?
Colby: We’re going to record an album through October. It will probably take a month, and then we’ll just tour on that. That’s real exciting because we have a big, happy, fun group of people that all want to go. We’re just going to have the best time of our lives.
CMJ is NYC's equivelent of SXSW. A week-long party with over 1,000 bands across 50+ venues. Now that the artist application deadline has passed, they've begun announcing performers at this year's event. I'm really, really, really excited about CMJ this year. I plan on attending and covering it for the blog.
Just a few of the artists confirmed for this years CMJ Marathon: The Knife * The Slits * Hot Chip * The Black Keys * Madlib * Ben Lee * Deerhoof * Blonde Redhead * The Boy Least Likely To * Blue Cheer * Joseph Arthur * Erase Errata * Green Milk from the Planet Orange * Holly Golightly * Cold War Kids * Silversun Pickups * Califone * White Whale * hellogoodbye * Anathallo * Dr. Dog * Professor Murder * Archie Bronson Outfit * Keren Ann * Brother Ali * Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin * Oakley Hall * These Arms Are Snakes * Micah P. Hinson * Portastatic * P.O.S. * Cloud Cult * Jason Forrest Band * Thunderbirds Are Now! * Strike Anywhere * Percee P * Mute Math * Suzanne Vega * Extra Golden * 120 Days *
John Darnielle played the first half of his Popfest set all by himself. He took requests. Lots. He played songs that had never been played live before. He told stories of how these songs came to be. He played songs that people were dying to hear, even though he couldn't remember all the parts. This made me really smile because who hasn't been to a show, yelled out their favorite song only to hear "sorry I can't" or "I don't remember how to play that one"? He said fuck it, and gave it a shot. Of course this meant stopping to field the audience for lyrics and chords. This give-and-take of the audience and John is part of the reason people like me are drawn to concerts in the first place. The audience was in a love/love relationship with John, and he could do no wrong.
After Podbop committed to covering Popfest, I went hunting down some live Mountain Goats MP3s to hear what I had to look forward to. One MP3 I found on Large Hearted Boy was a live version of No Children from a show in San Francisco this past June. The crowd chorused his lyrics on relationship advice beautifully. It gives me goose bumps listening to it. I was ecstatic when John began referencing this performance, explaining how he was sick and needed everyone's help when somebody requested this song. He then performed the song for us, giving Athens its chance to wail death wishes and lies of good wives unto the planet. It felt damn good.
His maniacle glares and energetic strumming were hypnotic. Finally, he brought out his friend and musician Perry Wright for some backup vocals and guitar. It's not worth much detail, as he really didn't contribute anything worthwhile to the performance. I'm hoping it was a personal favor of John's to get Perry's name out there, but he barely knew the chords and words to most of the songs that were performed. It didn't detract from the performance much since everyone's eyes were fixed on John, but he might as well have performed solo for the entire show. After a pseudo-ending, John and Perry returned for a three-song encore and promptly disappeared back stage.
Athens, GA - Kaela, Brett and I set out Thursday morning due north toward Popfest. It would be our first time in Athens, and we were excited. We arrived six hours and three stops later, with three bellies full of "tradition served daily" from Cracker Barrel. We were just in time to catch some going ons at Little Kings.
Little Kings was the home of all of Popfest's day shows, mostly consisting of lesser known bands. It was a really great choice since the windows let the daylight pour in on stage and it was a more intimate setting than its late night counterpart, the 40 Watt Club.
We had an hour to kill before the shows started up at 40 Watt, so we headed to the locally recommended Five Star Day for some home-style soul food. Butter chicken, biscuits, hoppin' johns (a rice/bean/salsa mixture) and a cup of cream of mushroom soup made me so full and so happy. Highly recommended (and only $10 for a meal!).
Rolling ourselves back, we caught the start of The Smittens' set at 8:30 p.m. They were all smiles, and their enthusiastic twee-pop was a nice way to start off the second half of the day. When their guitarist broke a string, they sang an acapella instead of standing around awkwardly like most bands. In a cutesy Popfest moment, guitarist Colin "Charming Smitten" Clary offered free hugs if you couldn't afford their merch. Be sure to check out the interview we did with them.
Next came Cars Can Be Blue, an Athens duo that started off as a joke. Their music is twee-pop meets Adam Sandler (in a hilariously great way). Their music piques your interest. Then it makes you laugh and generally have a good time. Their MySpace page asks "Who said music can't be fun?" and that describes them to a t. We were treated to a dirty twee-pop song (MP3 available on their Podbop profile), a cover of some Ol' Dirty Bastard song, and a seductive bellow when Nate revealed his true colors. Check out the interview we did with them as well.
During the down time we walked down the street to the local indie coffee shop. Hot Corner Coffee was our hub during Popfest (one block from both venues) and provided the necessary free wi-fi, caffeinated libations and comestibles to keep us going. Their jasmine and garden iced teas were also delicious.
The Love Letter Band went on at 11:30 p.m. Apparently they are usually a full band, but we were treated to a stripped-down acoustic set by singer-songwriter Chris Adolf with his friend providing some backups. A hint of Bob Dylan's twang and Bright Eyes' angst could be heard in his outstanding folk-rock performance. Reminds me of something you'd find on Saddle Creek. This guy could really go big.
Oh-OK headed on stage next. Apparently they were a twee-pop band from the '80s. I don't think their music was anything special, but you could tell that the two frontwomen were psyched to be back on stage after all that time. A good show can result from awesome music OR completely enthused musicians. Their constant excitement and gratitude made me smile.
A great show happens when you get both excellent music AND enthusiasm from the performer. The Mountain Goats delivered in every account imaginable. I confess the whole time I watched him perform, I was standing there thinking to myself, this is the kind of show that has made the 40 Watt Club legendary; this is the kind of show I'll still be talking about in five years.
We returned to Mark's house around 2 a.m. and fell to our beds in rock-induced exhaustion.
While walking back to Little Kings from the drugstore in downtown Athens after picking up the requisite hearing protection one needs for an event such as Popfest, I turned the corner and nearly bumped into Mike Mills who was on his mobile discussing shooting a video of some sort. While R.E.M. encounters are probably normal for Joe or Jane Athenian, I grinned ear-to-ear and set out for what *had* to be a great day of pop music.
I expected to be treated to an afternoon of twee, twee and more twee. Enough sugary sweetness to put a long-distance runner into a diabetic coma. Maybe that's overdoing it, but that's what I prepared for.
Right out of the gate, The Specific Heats, who just released an album on HHBTM, certainly delivered what was expected with saccarin ballads of innocent love and anti-road-rage PSAs. A guest appearance was made by one of the gals from The Besties, who had an early set on Day Three.
My Parents, whose parents were appropriately perched at the far end of the bar, have a sound that yearns for a more experimental Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! without the polish. As an aside, the bassist has this uncanny knack for buckling his knees and swaying completely akimbo to any beat or syncipation without throwing the rhythm section off. It was fairly clear a couple of the band members had the jitters, but it didn't affect their performance. As this group tightens up, their unique sound and storytelling (see: "It's hard to be dead and be in love") should propel them forward.
Velcro Stars (whom all night I wanted to call "Velvet Stars") played a fun set and have an album soon to be released on Grand Palace.
Baby Calendar from Miami (another HHBTM group) have the chemistry of Mates of State with a stronger performance and much more energy. Their tunes are quite catchy and they put on one of the best sets of Popfest.
How I Became The Bomb was an absolute hoot. Their geek-rawk seems tailor made for an '80s comedy soundtrack. HIBTB takes the synth-based anthems found on their album, Lets Go!, and puts in a performance as over the top as Sly Stallone in ... well ... Over The Top. Songs like "Secret Identity" and "Kneel Before Zod" are crack-cicle addictive.
So Many Dynamos brought unbridled energy to their indie-rock set. So much energy that a couple members seemed on the brink of a bar brawl. A great set -- and palindromic to boot.
The Instruments and New Sound Of Numbers played the next two very different sets rotating instruments in the Elephant Six idiom. For instance, the drummer of The Instruments (whose set I really enjoyed) plays 12-string and sings lead for New Sound Of Numbers.
To close the night, gamer Noah McCarthy conquered Mega Man II in 45 minutes without being killed, while Megaband (the members of Cinemechanica with a different bassist) laid down the entire soundtrack. What is really striking about the Megaband performace is how physically gruelling it is on the artists. In a normal set, a band plays a song for a few minutes, takes a break, plays another song for a few minutes... lather, rinse, repeat. Not so for Megaband. Since the soundtrack shifts from theme to theme without any gaps, the artists are forced to hammer through the whole game. Drummer Mike Albanese looked absolutely shot by the time the game reached Dr. Wily's fortress. All in all, an absolutely amazing set to end another great day of music.
Bands that played but aren't mentioned until now: Gift Machine, Flash To Bang Time, The Maybellines
Best performances of Day Two: Baby Calendar, How I Became The Bomb, Megaband
Athens, GA - Cars Can Be Blue is one of those bands that forces you to pay attention. Not because of their musicianship or message, but to see what's going to happen next. The duo's Aug. 10 set at the 40 Watt Club during Athens Popfest turned more than a few heads, and got me out of my seat.
After a number of satirical bubblegum-pop songs, Becky Brooks set aside her guitar and grabbed the mic to let Wu-Tang lyrics roll off her tongue. Later drummer Nate Mitchell removed his dress shirt, tie and pants to reveal the neon-striped spandex body suit beneath. Then jumped into the audience and took his turn in the spotlight.
Naturally, we sent Kaela to find out what they thought made for a good show. August tour dates after the jump.
What do you think makes a really good show?
Nate: A good crowd; lots of energy.
Becky: Also, if the band looks like they're having a good time - that's important.
What are some shows you remember that have stuck in your head and you really enjoyed?
Nate: Last year's Popfest, I have to say. I was really blown away by Poison Control Center. They're an incredible live band, and they really go all out.
Becky: I have to say for local bands, I really like Dark Meat. There are so many people in that band. There's so much sound. There's so much visual imagery. It's fucking awesome. They're one of my favorites.
What inspires you?
Nate: Just trying to be entertaining. Becky and I have seen our fair share of live bands, and a lot of them just aren't entertaining. We tried extra hard.
Becky: We like to be on stage.
Nate: That's true. We just try to make up for rudimentary musicianship with stage presence.
Athens, GA - The Smittens are a six-piece twee-pop band out of Burlington, VT, with feel-good songs, upbeat personalities and "cutesy" nicknames. They performed at the 40 Watt Club on Aug. 10 at this year's Athens Popfest.
After the jump you'll find the music video for "My Favorite Dream" from HHBTM Records's forthcoming No Parachute Vol. 2 DVD compilation. The label will also be releasing The Smittens' third album later this year.
Here's Kaela's brief Q&A with Colin "the Charming Smitten" Clary, Holly "the Littlest Smitten" Chagnon and Dana "the Lady Smitten" Kaplan.
What inspires you guys?
Colin: We get inspiration from each other. We write all the songs together, so we sort of feed off our energy. In general, it’s a reaction to all the bummers our there. We try to do the positive thing. We try to get people rallied around the idea of niceness and good songs. We like to write melodies.
Holly: Of course our friends inspire us. And our friends’ bands that are similar to us are inspiring as well.
Colin: We like the idea of punk rock, but not the anger of it. We like that anybody can do it.
What are some of your favorite live shows that you’ve been to?
Dana: We just came from playing the Toledo Popfest and probably my favorite show was seeing Fred Thomas from Saturday Looks Good To Me. A group of probably 20 folks ran up to a little closet of a space because there were all these issues with the downstairs space. It was unplugged; him and his guitar and a little microphone. I think just the intimacy of it was really cool. It was very memorable.
Kicking off Athens Popfest 2006 was Gordon Lamb, writer for the Athens art/music rag, Flagpole, who played a dichotomous set: first ballads, then upbeat pop. He seemed to know everyone in the room which helped kickstart the crowd. Following Lamb, Fabulous Bird played a full set of riff rock anchored by a tight rhythm section. Then Vietnam, a band that has been on a 20-plus-year hiatus from Athens, played what I can only guess was a reunion set. Their sound struck me as a mash of Pylon and the B-52's, which I really found as a nice bienvenue, being a newbie to the Athens music scene.
The rest of the evening was one solid set after the next.
To stay true to their name, I imagined Russian Spy Camera as maybe Boris and Natasha in a LOMO photograph, but these guys, led by singer/guitarist Ryan White, brought it and brought it hard. If Madison Avenue got ahold of Russian Spy Camera, they might give them a tagline something like, "Russian Spy Camera: Music To Kick A Hole In The Floor To." Okay, maybe not, but every song had me playing my boot and I wasn't the only one.
Sleepy Horses took the stage just after midnight and laid out a marathon 11-minute-long first song. Their psych-rock voyage was a nice change of pace after the hard-driving Russian Spy Camera set. The self-proclaimed "newbies in the Athens circuit" had a full and mature sound, which made me all the more surprised when a local beside me mentioned, "I saw them a couple months ago and they were nowhere near this good."
The Visitations, a three-piece that shared a guitarist with Sleepy Horses, have a straight-forward, lo-fi style of storytelling that reminds me a lot of Midlake. Given the Jerry Falwell and Ehud Barak references, something tells me they're a bit more overtly political, though.
I can't add much to Taylor's post on Summer Hymns, but to say that I truly love their name in that it is descriptive of their product: tunes perfect for a leisurely drive to the beach or ol' swimmin' hole.
Though Col. Knowledge took the stage after 2 a.m., they immediately had what crowd was left dancing and were, simply, the perfect way to cap off the evening. Col. Knowledge & The Lickity Splits do for 50's doo-wop what Old Crow Medicine Show have done for old-timey string bands: dusted off a genre and made it their own with an infusion of youthful energy and a fire that can only come from a respect of the vinyl from whence it came.
Thus ends night one of Athens Popfest 2006. As the faithful filed out of Little Kings at 2:40 a.m., I mentioned to a guy who had been rocking out all night that I really enjoyed the first night. He grinned and replied, "It's only gonna get progressively krunker."
Progressively krunker, indeed. Krunker, indeed.
A designated gamer flawlessly beats the Nintendo classic Mega Man II, his progress projected on-screen. At the same time, Megaband rips through the entire soundtrack with calculated aggression.
This is the latest alter-ego of the progressive post-hardcore band Cinemechanica. The side project parallels their ventures as Contraband, which - of course - interprets the music of Contra.
Megaband will destroy the Little Kings stage around 1am Wednesday, headlining day two of this year's Athens Popfest. Cinemechanica's signature dueling guitars will remain in tact; only now with melodies taken from an 8-bit Nintendo game.
I'd highly recommend seeing all this firsthand. But if you're unable to attend, consider the Megaband Live DVD.
When I think Miami, I don't think clap-happy indie-pop, but that's not stopping Baby Calendar. The trio have only been at it for two years and recently released their third full-length on HHBTM Records (who organize Athens Popfest).
Within the first minute of Within Cell Walls you can hear why Jackie Biver's vocals draw many comparisons to Rainer Maria's Caithlin De Marrais. Jackie's belted-out lyrics are balanced by moments of delicate coo-ings. And, like any respectable love-pop band, they also have claps, a casio and a tambourine.
I'm not sure whether they are romantically involved but their back-n-forth male/female vocals definitely echo the chemistry that floats around between the husband/wife duo of Mates of Sate. Well, except that there are three of them, but who am I to stop free love?
Baby Calendar will be playing Athens Popfest at 8pm on Wed August 9th @ Little Kings
Other tour dates after the jump.
Want a lesson on what twee really is? Sure, you could read the Wikipedia entry. Instead, enroll yourself in The Besties' lessons in twee:
Lesson 1: Release your love
Release your album on Valentine's Day because you want the world to know you love them, like The Besties' Singer released this past V-day.
Lesson 2: Describe your love
In The Besties' One Sheet (.pdf) their label describes them as "so darn cute and tightly knit you might just want to wrap them all up with a big bow."
Lesson 3: Name your love
Their name is The Besties. As in they are best friends. Awww. And all their song titles end with the word "song." Like Prison Song, Theme Song, Siren Song & Pirate Song. Kind of like those kiddie tapes you used to watch over and over again as a kid. The Eat-Your-Vegetables Song, The Super-Dooper Pooper Song, et al. Cutesy.
Lesson 4: Play the Athens Popfest
Play the fest put on by awesomely-twee-pop label HHBTM. You can find them on Thursday August 10th at Little Kings around 3:30pm.
Personally, they just make me feel like I ate too many cupcakes (you know the cute kind with the plastic ring in the frosting).
Summer Hymns is a psych-folk band (with a revolving line-up that has included members from Of Montreal, Elf Power in the past) out of Athens, Georgia. Their albums have recieved critical acclaim for good reason.
Their fourth full-length release, entitled Backward Masks, is due in November and will feature more experimentation and a stripped-down feel. Throw this on one Sunday morning while you're laying on a hammock. Sip your lemonade and take in the layered overdubs, dreamy vocals and soft beats.
Best part: Their Athens Popfest performance is during the Tuesday August 8th free show at Little Kings. They go on half past midnight.
Athens Popfest Performance:
3:45pm Friday, August 11th at Little Kings
Back in highschool and the first year of college I was a pretty serious cyclist. Did a few races, rode with the cycling team, shaved my legs, the whole she-bang. Fast-forward four years and after learning Web design (a.k.a. sitting on the computer all day) I've grown lazy.
Now I don't think it's a coincidence that I discovered the Canadian band The Bicycles two weeks ago, just about the same time I started getting the urge to ride again. Sure their name was close to my heart, but their sound brought out all the wonderful connotations that I had for cycling too. Fun, energetic & exciting.
This band makes you want to get up and go out, smack your gum, drink your malted milk shake, and dance the night away. On their bio they proclaim their album The Good, The Bad, and The Cuddly pays homage to the "bubblegum popsters of yesteryear." The Monkees, The Kinks, Harry Nilsson, The Archies. You can hear all the reminiscient choruses, shakes of tambourine or blasts of trumpet that made those legendary pop bands.
The Bicycles will also be playing in Chapel Hill, NC Aug 12, and Toronto Aug 19th.
Now if I could only track down my cycling shorts...
Starting today, we'll be featuring bands performing at Athens Popfest 2006 in Georgia. In just one short week Brett, Kaela and I will be heading up to Mark's new abode away from home in Athens. Mark will be covering part of the event alone, but we'll help him break in that new house smell with 3 more sweaty, partying bodies for Thursday and Friday's shows.
Lets just see what $40 will get you (including the free show on Tuesday):
Gordon Lamb, Fabulous Bird, Vietnam, Russian Spy Camera, Sleepy Horses, The Visitations, Summer Hymns, Col. Knowledge & The Lickety Splits, Joe Signey, The Specific Heats, My Parents, Velcro Stars, Gift Machine, Baby Calendar, Flash To Bang Time, The Maybellines, How I Became The Bomb, So Many Dynamos, The Instruments, New Sound Of Numbers, Megaband, Dog Palmoa, The Besties, Bugs Eat Books, Ocelots, Patience Please, 8 Track Gorrilla, The Smittens, Cars Can Be Blue, Marshmallow Coast, The Gazetteers, The Love Letter Band, Oh-Ok, The Mountain Goats, The Passerines, The Bicycles, Ryan Anderson, So L'il, 63 Crayons, Mouser, Keith John Adams, Casper & The Cookies, Cinemechanica, Poison Control Center, We Vs. The Shark, Deerhoof, The Cocker Spaniels, Pegasuses, Astronomy Club, The Happy Bullets, Telenovela, Red Pony Clock, Fishboy, The High Water Marks, Ideal Free Distribution, Bunnygrunt, The Circulatory System, The Apples In Stereo.
With a total of 50 bands (not counting the 8 of which are a free show) that works out to 80 cents a band. For less than the cost of one of their songs on iTunes you can see the Mountain Goats live. Now that's a deal!
They still have 4-day passes available. Whether you are in Atlanta (90 minute drive), Gainesville (5 hours), or just in need of a damn good road trip, it looks to be a killer time.
Impatient? Want to hear what some of those bands sound like right now? Go check out the Podbop Athens, GA page for over 2 dozen mp3s from performing bands.
Our pal and editor Cory Monteiro has been living in Germany the past few months with his girlfriend Alicia. They've been seeing the country and taking in some awesome live music. Here's a video he created covering the Melt Festival that happened on July 14-16 in Ferropolis, Germany. The song in the video is included below as well. Enjoy!
What a weekend! Three industry parties, people meeting, club hoppin', hotel disrupting days were a blast. You can check out Brett's wrap-up in the Independent Florida Alligator.
It's no SXSW (what else is?) but for a 90-minute drive, who can complain? The sessions were interesting. At SXSW most of the panels were each panelist taking turns speaking their own thing and then moving on to a Q&A at the end. The panels I attended here were completely driven by a moderator and whatever direction they took it. This was a way less productive way of carrying the discussion in my opinion, because it doesn't give the panelists anything specific to prepare for.
We checked out mostly Gainesville bands during the three days (most of which I had never seen). Ten 13 Concept (pop/punk/ska with the energy of a rocket) and Edan Archer (folk/pop with pretty voices reminding me of George) were my two favs.
The highlights, as usual, were meeting bands and industry people around Orlando all weekend. The best party was definitely the PureVolume one held 20 doors down from my hotel room in the presidential suite at the Marriott. Sushi, twinkies and hot bartenders really enhance the experience. :)
I am currently at the Florida Music Festival/Conference in Orlando, FL. This will be my first year in attendance and it looks to be a lot of fun. I am here spreading the word about Podbop and trying to get more record labels involved.
Last night I saw Third Eye Blind, which is crazy since I first saw them in 1997 (when they were my favorite band ever). It was a good time. Today I'll be attending a few panels, checking out a few more shows, and hitting up the industry parties.
If you'll be here feel free to drop me a line if you want to meet up!
Wow. SXSW was amazing. So many good shows, parties and awesome people doing awesome things. I'm still tired! We have been busy behind the scenes fixing and sorting all kinds of things out (and hopefully making things simpler). Stay tuned.