Friday, May 18, 2012

Mayer Hawthorne @ 1st Ave

I went to see Mayer Hawthorne at First Ave, and holy shit, he put on a good show. I missed the opening act so don't ask about it. The music playing between acts was old school 60's music like "It's My Party" and "Please Mr. Postman," which totally set the mood. He started with a fabulous lead-in from the County, his very talented band. The first song was "You Called Me" which was rousing and got everyone in the mood. This man was sexy, fun, and inviting - the perfect concoction for a Friday night! The County were in grey 3-piece suits, and Mayer wore a black velvet blazer, black bow tie, and red hi-top sneakers. Plus a faux-hawk - lovely! He had the crowd following his call and response all night, and his band absolutely earned every hoot and holler. The crowd illustrated his unique following - young, old, hip, suburban...his "old school R&B charm" has seduced a number of Minneapolitans. As it should! There was a Brazilian beat interlude within which Mayer taught the crowd how to sing, and it made a wonderful halfway point. Plus he took a "photo shoot" moment which he promised to tweet - and I will post when it is available - and offered an opportunity for us all to take all the pictures we wanted. It was so brilliant! I took a great number of pictures, many of which were blurry but will hopefully satisfy your curiosity. The show was all together well timed, sexy, quality, and more than satisfactory. We were in the balcony but still swayed to his direction. My favorite moment was the "Henny and Ginger Ale" finale to the encore set. As my favorite song on the album, I was instantly happy, and it allowed for another sing-along, plus it was a spotlight for all the band members to show off. It was the perfect end to a great concert! I highly recommend Mayer Hawthorne for the quality of the show. Enjoy where you can!!
UPDATE: Check out the pic he took!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Music in My Year

Hey everyone,

I don't want to disappoint, but this post isn't going to be about a live show I went to. I have decided, on this late date in 2011, to reflect upon the music that has affected my life the most this year. I found some new bands, a favorite band of mine broke up, and as always I have some kind of obsession. With all this in mind, here are my thoughts on this year in music - my music.

1) LCD Soundsystem. I am so sad that they have broken up, because their album "This Is Happening" has pretty much ruled my life for the past six months. The more I listen to it, the more I love it. Aside from the wonderful and most often played "I Can Change," "Drunk Girls," and "Dance Yrself Clean," there are so many more amazing songs on the album. "All I Want" is just, well, beautiful, and gives me that feeling of yearning within which I can experience every emotion I've ever felt in my life (sidenote: I prefer the London Session version). "All My Friends" reminds me of all the great times I've had with groups of friends, and all the good times I can imagine happening in the future. It's upbeat but still has that tinge of reminiscence that deepens the emotion beyond just "happy." I like songs that imply a hint of sadness within what is otherwise gorgeous and exhilarating, so I think it's amazing in its complexity. "Home," both the song and the concept, has had a special meaning for me this year, having lived in 3 different places within these 12 months. All the other songs are equally enjoyable - "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House," "Pow Pow," "Yr City Is A Sucker," "One Touch" - they're never enough! This album is definitely on my "Best Of Eternity" list.

2) The Virgins. I found their song "Rich Girls" just a few weeks ago, and I'm totally hooked. It's catchy, sexy, has fun lyrics, and makes me want to shake my groove thing. I feel rich and sexy when it's on, so of course I love it! I'm desperately hoping that they end up at First Ave or 7th Street Entry sometime next year. I kind of doubt it, since their last EP was released in 2007, but maybe they'll get some more music going and end up in Minneapolis. A girl can dream...

3) Dom. I went to see this band at 7th Street Entry this year - I failed to post about it due to my own inebriation that evening - and I totally love their energy. Their biggest song, "Living in America," makes me feel like life is good, fun, and sexy; that maybe I can still do everything I want to do; and that jumping around in my living room (or at the Entry) with a huge grin on my face is okay.

4) The Goondas. As always, my most favoritest local band deserves a mention. Their new album, Chud, came out this year much to my delight, and their release show at the Entry was super kickass. And how could I fail to mention their awesome set at my birthday party in July!! (Note: Josh's new nickname is Eggman. Ask if you require more details.) I'm sad that I missed their last show in 2011, but I hope to be a regular again at their shows in 2012.

5) Kaiser Chiefs. I know they've already been exposed as one of my favorite bands of all time, but I had an epiphany this year. Their song "Remember You're A Girl" from the Off With Their Heads album has been named my defining song. It's "My Theme Song." Officially. If I make it to their show in Vancouver on March 25, they might be on my list for 2012, too! What is it with me having to cross the country to see them play live?!

6) Jarvis Cocker. I only have one song of his, but man, it is to be relished. "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time" should be the rallying song of all single women everywhere. Or their friends who watch them date morons, assholes, losers, and douchebags. Or bartenders. (Too soon?)

7) M. Ward. My second theme song is his "Magic Trick," and I smile every single time I hear it. I usually sing along, actually, even if I'm at work and get strange looks from my coworkers. Or I mouth along and get even stranger looks. I'm pretty used to that though.

8) Fun dance music. I'll admit, I've done more than my fair share of dancing in my living room this year. All three of my living rooms, that is, usually with a beer/wine/mixed drink on the coffee table. I've been addicted to the following songs for my dancing frenzies:
"SexyBack" by Justin Timberlake;
"Lovesick" by Lindstrom & Christabelle;
"Poker Face" and "Scheisse" by Lady Gaga;
"Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z;
"Living In America" by Dom;
"She's Enough" by Atmosphere; and
"Amor Fati" by Washed Out.

9) Guilty pleasures. Yes, I have a selection of cheesy songs that I'm hesitant to admit that I have loved this year. Like, I loved them so much I paid for them. Yeah. Seriously. Please don't judge - I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only one!
"I Want a New Drug" by Huey Lewis & The News
"I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot N Cold" by Katy Perry
"Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" by Beyonce
"In a Big Country" by Big Country
"Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson
Now, I'll admit, a lot of these happened after watching one too many VH1 "I Love The..." specials while drinking. That's my excuse.

I hope you've enjoyed this musical retrospective. I certainly have. And I'm sure there are a lot more songs or artists that I could have mentioned, but I'm going to call this as definitive as I can make it. I hope you all had a great 2011, and here's to a fabulous 2012!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Wombats @ The Varsity

So I blatantly skipped the two opening bands, the Postelles and the Static Jacks, and went to see The Wombats at The Varsity tonight. What a good way to spend my hard-earned money! I loved the youthful energy they sent out - and the rhythmic clapping was definitely a bonus. They made sure to play 1996, Techno Fan, Walking Disasters, and Let's Dance to Joy Division. After saying how the Varsity had a "very strict curfew" they continued to play a couple more songs...establishment be damned!

Aside from the assholes talking nonstop in front of me for the first half of the set, it was a totally enjoyable show. I even jumped up and my age! Repeatedly! It was a great way to spend a Monday night. I regret nothing!! Plus, they played great music, and had English accents...yum. I guess I have to like Liverpool at least a little bit now.

Friday, May 20, 2011

CSS & Sleigh Bells @ First Ave

Hello loyal readers, I know it's been far too long since my last post. I promise to make up for it this summer by attending and reviewing as many shows as I can! Time and budget shall be my only limitations.

Anyhoo, I went to First Ave last night for the sold out CSS and Sleigh Bells show. I forgot it was all ages so my friend and I herded upstairs with the rest of the legal drinking age cattle. We got there in time to catch the end of the second opener, I believe called Neon Indian. It could have been Princeton though since I wasn't really paying attention.

CSS came on next, and totally blew me away. I already recognized a couple of their songs, but I fell in love with a few new ones. I thought the music was tight and well put together, the lyrics were straightforward, honest, and funny, and most importantly, their songs were super fun to dance to! The lead singer was an act all in her own right - she came onstage in boots, black pants, a red plaid shirt, and a black leather jacket, with a misfits-style face paint look going on. Super cool, right? Well it turned out the pants were tear-away, which were torn away to reveal jean shorts with a patterned pair of tights underneath. The jacket came off and the shirt beneath was longer than her jean shorts. Then, much to everyone's growing astonishment, she revealed not one but TWO other shirts underneath that one! She must have been sweltering in all those clothes. Plus, for the second to last song, she put on a pink flowery dress over her clothes and danced around with the zipper open and the dress falling off her arms. She even got down onto the floor with the crowd a couple times, and totally crowdsurfed. My friend called her "awesomely '90s" and I have to agree. They were absolutely amusing and kick ass. The drummer had his face painted too, and the keyboardguitarist was sporting a Sleigh Bells shirt. I love a female bassist so that was a nice touch. I honestly couldn't tell if the guitarist was a man or a woman - but s/he had kind of a fro-rat tail hair style going on, and was skinny but with toned arms. So bizarre but it totally fit! I love CSS. I can see why they're so tired of being sexy.

Then, after a prolonged break, Sleigh Bells came on stage to the opening strains of "Iron Man." Their stacks of speakers had a light show going on around them, and the fog was coming out hot and heavy from behind them. With the LOUD music (must've turned it up to 11), strobe lights, fog, heavy pot smoke, and light show, I was pissed that I didn't have any acid last night (joking of course). It would have been a whole different experience and to be frank, my senses were already close to overload with just some beer in me. To be honest, I wasn't impressed. They just danced around with backlighting for about 20 minutes and then they were done. The singer did some crowdsurfing too, which had totally already been done and seemed totally passe. CSS made it cool again when they joined SB on the stage at the very end of the show.

The lead mic needed to be higher because I couldn't understand a lot of what was being said or sung, and CSS totally should have been the headliners instead of Sleigh Bells. Those issues aside, it was a great show!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Idle Hands @ Sauce Soundbar

Last night I checked out the Idle Hands et al at Sauce (Lake and Lyndale for those who remain uninitiated) and, as I predicted, it was a great show. I was even able to get (and keep) my favorite spot at the end of the bar.

The first band was Usonia, who I had never heard of, but they were actually really good! My friend and I decided they were the best opener we've ever heard there (G Biz, anyone?) or, for that matter, anywhere else. Definitely above average, smart, and well put together music and lyrics - some of their songs were really catchy with great riffs and beats. Their sound was vaguely retro, with keyboards and clapping (which I loved of course), and the band members must all be very talented since they traded instruments throughout the set. According to Ross, the lead singer, their name "Usonia" is the term for Frank Lloyd Wright's vision of post-WWII America. I told you these guys were smart. Bottom line is: go see these guys play. Hopefully they'll have a lot of shows in the near future.

Next up was Arms Akimbo, who I saw open for the Alarmists at 7th St Entry, and as expected, they had a great set. I won't repeat myself too much, but if you like a solid performance with a hint of reggae/mod/doo-wop/early Beatles, go see these guys play. You won't regret it. If you do, don't blame me.

Next was Two Harbors. All I can say is "adequate" and "generic." Melody and rhythm which were pleasant and worked but unexciting and uninspiring. My friend dubbed them "Puddle of Bieber," which I think is actually a little harsh, but too funny not to include. I wouldn't avoid a show if they were on the list - unlike that monstrosity referred to as "Red Pens" - but I wouldn't seek them out either.

Finally, the Idle Hands were up last. As always, it was a 20 orgasm, A+++ show. I couldn't help but notice a couple changes in the band roster since the last time I saw them (Mears Park?) - different drummer and bassist - but they played a top-notch set. According to the lead singer Ciaran, their new album is coming out later this summer or fall in wide distribution (think Best Buy). I wish them tons of success, they definitely have the talent and deserve it. For now, I *highly* recommend picking up their last album, The Hearts We Broke On The Way To The Show, and then seeing them play ASAP. Who knows - maybe in a year they'll be on an international tour and we'll all bemoan all the missed opportunities to see them here in the Twin Cities.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Big Pink @ First Ave

Yes, I realize it's been a while since I last posted on a show. What can I say? Winter beat me into some kind of lazy submission. But Spring has finally come, and brings with it concerts anew! So I went to First Avenue last night to check out The Big Pink, which I couldn't get into when they came to the Entry. Sidenote: Big ups to Emi for hooking us up so sweet!!

The opening band, A Place to Bury Strangers, came on with a fog machine and light show. Their music seemed like a mix of The Editors (vocals) and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (music). Their music wasn't bad, but they had this irritating addiction to feedback, and used it to both begin and end every song. Literally - every song. Not necessary. Save me the noise cause I don't need it. The really strange thing about their show was that it was nearly impossible to see the band members performing, because they had an annoying light show going on, which precluded them from having any lights actually on them. I always thought the idea of going to see a band play was to, well, SEE THE BAND PLAY. Every once in a while we got a bright enough flash from their light show (kind of '80s now that I think about it) to see something on stage, and when that happened, I got to see how amazing their drummer was. His hands are crazy fast and that man knows how to rock a set of drums! He was definitely the highlight of the band. My friend described the light show and feedback squeals as the soundtrack to a "fucked up alien invasion" that could only mean "anal probes" were eminent. Yikes...

Now onto the Big Pink. I was so happy to see they were coming back after their last show sold out, and the singer gave Minneapolis some props for being a great city to come to. Naturally, as so many people in this town seem to have excellent taste in music (I am case in point of course). I'm not even sure how to describe the show, since for most of it I was having some kind of music-induced out of body experience. Of course, they saved "Dominos" for the last song, during which I think I actually reached a state of ecstasy. I transcended the physical reality of attending a show at First Ave and became one with the music. It was amazing. The surprise Smashing Pumpkins cover in the middle of the set was also a near-spiritual experience. If you get the chance to see this band, GO. Or at least check out their album, A Brief History of Love. As one major corporation would tell you, you're worth it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Evening Rig & Arms Akimbo @ 7th St Entry

Technically, the headliner at this show was The Alarmists, but I only heard the first 30 seconds of their first song, so I feel more qualified to speak to the quality of their openers. It is there that I shall begin.

Evening Rig was the first band on the bill. They played solid, fine-tuned Southern Rock. Meaning, they sounded a bit like Lynyrd Skynyrd or The Black Crowes. Or 10w40, but with less sleazy sex and more energy. Overall enjoyable bar music. It was when they ended their set with covers that their sound fell a little flat. Tom Petty they are not, but then again, who else can be?

Arms Akimbo was extremely fun to listen to! They reminded me of The English Beat meets Vampire Weekend - an English ska/mod mixture that rubbed me the right way. The Beatles cover they played fit right into their bouncy music, and the singing bassist was impressive. In fact, their entire set was fun and energetic. I wonder if it's a sign of the times that silly, light-headed music like this is so popular. I don't really care either way - I love it!! And was the kid in the England sweatshirt hilarious? Yes. Did I make fun of him? Of course. And the tall girl too. My judgmental gaze passes over no one.

To end my review: the Alarmists were acceptable.

P.S. I'd like to give a shout out to Brian Diamond, aka the best Rainbow cab driver ever. He killed none of us, including me for calling him a drug addict, and gave us jazz hands. This post is dedicated to you.