Friday, December 25, 2009

11/19/09 - The Burning Hotels, Ishi, The Polycorns

…at Trees. Never thought I’d step foot in the new Trees, being as how the booker only seems to book the same crappy bands that used to play at Firewater, but the good folks at 102.1 The Edge (never thought I’d say THAT) sponsor a free local show every Thursday night at Trees, so’s I went. Thought the venue was pretty nice, with really great sound (bleeding from the ears is a definite possibility).

The Polycorns opened. Loooved the Polycorns. Three-man band, lead switching between guitar and keys. Very unique voice on lead – sometimes very Thom Yorke-ish, which I love. Very unique song structures, really dug it. Bought the CD, which in my estimation, suffers from over-production on the lead vocals, but is otherwise aces.

Ishi was second. These guys were a riot. Really only two "musicians" on stage – a guitar player (who had double-duty as the laptop clicker) and a drummer. Two singers rounded out the band – one gal in 70’s costume plus a dude who I swear is the sound guy at the cavern. Anywho, these guys have the whole electro-dance thing down pat. I deemed it "music that drunk people dance to". Very fun set, that’s for sure, including a cover of "Walk like an Egyptian", in which every hot chick in the audience was encouraged to hop on stage and well, walk like an egyptian. Good times. Not really what I usually go for, but it was damn fun, I can tell you. Wouldn’t hesitate to catch them again.

The Burning Hotels headlined, and goddam, are they good. I’ve loved these guys for a while now – they never fail to put on a great show. Very polished, very catchy tunes, great showmanship. You absolutely MUST check them out, if you haven’t already. Great stuff, indeed.

11/14/09 - Rufus Wainwright, Joan Wasser

…at Bass Performance Hall.

Joan Wasser opened. Meh, I wasn’t overly enamored of Ms. Wasser. Obviously a talented musician (guitar and piano), but neither her voice nor her songwriting really did anything for me.

Rufus was awesome, of course. Not quite as fun or bombastic as the full-band show at Nokia a couple years ago, but satisfying nonetheless. Gotta love Rufus. Yes - you do.

11/7/09 - Tribella, The Felons

…at Jack’s Backyard. My first time at this place, and I was impressed, for the most part. Really nice back patio, with tons of tables, chimineas and a pretty cool lookin stage. The only problem? I guess some of Jack’s neighbors ain’t exactly music fans, so they have to keep the volume set at "nursing home" level. And just after I complained to The Princess that The Felons weren’t loud enough, the owner came up and told Dave to take it down a notch. Hmmpf. Kind of a limitation on that place, as far as outdoor concerts go. I’m assuming the indoor ones don’t share that problem.

Anyways, The Felons started things off, and you know how I feel about them, so I won’t repeat myself. That night featured the debut of their fourth member on guitar. Sure, he’s no Fred, but I liked the additional guitar, which rounded out their sound quite nicely, and allowed them to rock out even more, at least before the owner went oldster on their ass. Really enjoyed the set, as usual. Tribella, from Austin, was up next. Three-gal band. Really liked what I heard - some very pretty, ethereal pop tunes. Beautiful voice on lead. Would definitely like to hear them again.
Fingerless Ghost was up next, but the Princess and I were freezing our t’s off, so we split before they started.

Friday, October 16, 2009

10/9/09 - Hymns, OK Sweetheart Hailey's. Not a show I would normally pick, but my Denton Cougar friend has a thang for the greasy long-hairs in Hymns, and she asked me to come along and keep her from embarrassing herself. Was also accompanied by the Princess and her strip-club-loving friends.

OK Sweetheart (Denton/San Fran (?)) was up first. Not bad (like I said, this wasn't exactly my pick). Great voice, some pleasant little tunes. The Princess thought she sounded like Norah Jones.

Hymns were up next. Blech. I seemed to enjoy them the first time I saw them, but this time, I just wasn't into it - way too jangly and Beatles-retready. But what was even worse than the band was the crowd. My gawd, i've never seen a crowd so unresponsive and unsupportive. After the first song, where all the guys in the band really made an effort to crank up the energy in the room, there was almost no response from the crowd. The lead guitarist even jokingly made a comment, like "Come on, I only heard two people clapping for that one". And when he tried to get everyone clapping along during the next song - crickets. It was embarrassing. Not sure what the deal was - I've never seen that happen, anywhere. These guys must've bad-mouthed denton at some point, or impregnated the mayor's daughter their last time thru town. Bizarre.

We split after that.

10/4/09 - Colour Revolt, Winston Audio, Sad Accordions Hailey's.

The Sad Accordions, from Austin, started things off. Really dug these guys. Lead had beard that would make denton proud. Voice a tiny bit on the reedy side, but still quite pleasing. Some really beautiful, haunting folk-rock songs. Reminded me of Telegraph Canyon at times (a HUGE compliment).
Winston Audio (Atlanta) were next. Did not like them at ALL. Seemed like very generic modern rock, something you might've heard at Firewater. One of the Oak Ridge Boys on keys, either Milli or Vanilli on guitar. That is all.
Colour Revolt (Mississippi) headlined. Was a little concerned at first, as the first few songs featured the lead screaming quite annoyingly at us, but they settled down after that, and filled the rest of the set with some really incredible songs. The biggest thing they've got going for them is the amazing two-part harmony goin' on between the two leads, including some awesome falsetto. VERY well done - just gorgeous. Would definitely like to catch them again sometime.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

9/30/09 - The Airborne Toxic Event, Henry Clay People, Red Cortez The House of Blues.

Red Cortez, from LA, opened up. Really enjoyed it. Sometimes very U2-like, but most songs were high-energy, bluesy garage-y rockin tunes. Very entertaining.
Next up was Henry Clay People, also from LA. Meh - not so much. Also very high-energy rock, but a little less melodic, less structured, and not as aurally pleasing as Red Cortez (at least, to me).
The Airborne Toxic Event headlined. My third time to see them. Gawd, I love this band. And what an absolutely killer live show. See here and here for prior write-ups, so I don't have to repeat myself. Amazing stuff.

9/23/09 - Ra Ra Riot, Maps & Atlases, Princeton The Granada.

Princeton, from California, started things off. Pretty decent guitar pop, I suppose. Nothing overly exciting.
Maps & Atlases, from Chicago, were up next. Very very math-rocky. Lead had unique, nasally (but not at all annoying) voice. Amazing drummer. Two lead guitar players spent a LOT of time with both hands up on the neck, twiddling away, which annoyed me for some reason. Enjoyable set, even tho math rock ain't my thang.
Ra Ra Riot headlined. Love this band, and have since I discovered them back in '07 at Hailey's. Beautifully written orchestral pop. Still love what the violin and cello add to the sound. Only complaint - Wes seemed to be holding back a bit on the vocals, probably trying to save his voice for the long tour ahead. Can't really blame him, but it woulda been nice to hear him really belt it out, like the songs deserve. Anyways, other than that, it was a great set.

9/12/09 - Throw Me The Statue, The Brunettes, Nurses the Cavern

Nurses, from Portland, started things off. Unfortunately, I was late, so I only heard a song and a half, but what I heard, I loved. Three folks on stage, plus lots of recorded sounds and effects. Very unique and creative. Coming back to town Nov 3, and I will be there to catch them.
The Brunettes, from New Zealand, were up next. Didn't really care for it - a bit too twee and cute for me.
Throw Me The Statue, from Seattle, headlined. Really dug it. Very catchy, melodic, anthemic indie pop.

Monday, September 7, 2009

9/6/09 - The Honorary Title, Good Old War, Cory Branan, Stavely, Carter Hulsey the "Prophet Bar Big Room", which is actually just The Door - maybe they call it that to let you know booze will be served? dono.

Carter Hulsey, from Missouri, started things off. Solo acoustic, for the most part. Amazingly powerful voice. Definitely had the whole "tortured artist" thing down - very earnest, as the Piledriver would say. Enjoyable enough, but not overly compelling (to me, that is).

Stavely was up next. I've been wanting to catch these guys for a couple years now, after I saw them back in 2007 and fell in love, and they were as good as I remembered. Still love Tim's voice (tho his boot-camp haircut and extremely gay v-neck shirt were very distracting ;). Anyways, really enjoy their songs, which are definitely atypical in terms of their complexity, structure, and even length. Very nice set. EP due out soon.
Cory Branan, from Memphis, was up next. Solo acoustic. Liked this guy a lot. Not that his songs really resonated with me or anything - I just liked his attitude and stage presence. Alternately profane, funny, and self-deprecating, he definitely didn't take himself too seriously. Songs tended to be of the rambling, fast-talk-singing variety - not my fav, but he made me smile, anyways.
Good Old War, from Philly, was up next. Three-man band, one of whom was separated at birth from Paul Simon, which is very appropriate, given the comparisons to Simon and Garfunkel they are likely to engender. My gawd, I swear, their set was a religious experience for me. Absolutely beautiful acoustic folk tunes, with amazing three-part harmonies. Just gorgeous. All three of them came down into the audience for a few songs, which was awesome - it seemed like the entire crowd was singing along, with harmonies and everything, making for some really magical moments. It's so rare to see a band perform their songs with such intensity, such emotion, such joy. 'twas a beautiful goddam thing. one of the best sets i've seen in a very long time.

The Honorary Title, from Brooklyn, headlined. Lead singer (Jarrod) separated at birth from Perry Farrell. Was a little worried at first, since it was only Jarrod on guitar and a keyboard player, but i shouldn't have been concerned - that dude's voice could pull off a show by itself. What an awesome, compelling voice. Definite Dashboard Confessional territory, but more low-key and nowhere near as whiny. Truly beautiful, anthemic, soaring, touching songs. Wonderful. Surf on over to DC9 to check out a partial clip.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

8/22/09 - Dove Hunter, Telegraph Canyon

... at the double-wide.

Telegraph Canyon started things off. This was my first time to see them since their latest release came out, so I was really excited to hear the new stuff. I was not disappointed. I just can't say enough about how fantastic this band is (i've written way too many rave reviews (see below), so I'll refrain from repeating myself). 'Course, I'm not the only one praising them these days - they've gotten quite a bit of good press lately, and it's well deserved. Chris and the band (which seems to have grown) thankfully played enough of the "old" material to keep me happy and singin' along, then wowed me with the new stuff as well. Just an awesome performance.
Dove Hunter headlined. I've seen them many times, and while I appreciate their talent, their songs just never seem to grab me. Here and there, a song or two will get me interested, but most of 'em just float on by. Dono what it is - just one of those cases where I don't resonate with the band.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

8/21/09 - Ella Minnow, Daniel Folmer, Big Round Spectacles Hailey's. solo.

Big Round Spectacles was up first. one dude on keyboards, sometimes wif harmonica. some pleasant little ditties, pretty standard stuff, fairly enjoyable, nothing overly compelling. voice was on-pitch at least, if not a little reedy. piano-playing was a touch inconsistent - wrong notes, tempo problems, etc. - which is kind of a handicap when that's the only instrument being played. still, it was entertaining enough that I watched the whole set, so...
Daniel Folmer was up next, accompanied by a bass player and drummer. I was pretty impressed with Daniel the first time I saw him, when he played a mostly-acoustic set at Dan's, but not as impressed the second time. Last night? Not a good night. Something was missing - he faced sideways, never looked at the audience, never smiled, no banter (except when he was castigating all the people at the bar who wouldn't come over and listen), and it just seemed like he was completely half-assin' it all set. Didn't see any of the emotion or passion that I remember from the first set at Dan's. Not sure what to make of it - maybe just an off night? (Pointless side note - the drummer reminded me of Kevin, Rod's brother in Hot Rod. Told you it was pointless).
Ella Minnow headlined, and holy shite, this band is phenomenal. I officially Fell In Love with Ella Minnow last night. Seen them a couple times before, and my appreciation of their talent grows every time. Incredible voice on the lead, with an amazing range - great lower register, plus a sometimes-shouty, growling, spoken-wordy-type style, plus a beautiful falsetto, and he flies across the whole range with incredible ease. And what an amazing amount of energy and passion he brings to the set - he is a sight to behold. And the songwriting - dear gawd, the songs! Whoever writes this stuff is a freakin' genius. Most songs are (relatively) long and somewhat complex, with multiple tempo changes, time-signature changes, and even genre-changes, all within one song (please don't get the impression that these are pretentious art-rock tunes or anything, cuz they're not - they flat-out rock!). Love that kind of creativity & uniqueness. Even when they stopped down and played a more-conventional alt-countryish tune, they managed to inject it with enough style, energy, and funkiness to make it unique. just an unbelievable set. definitely vaulted them near the top of my 'favorite local band' list. said they were working on a new album - can't wait for that. seriously, folks - check out this band - you will not be sorry.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

8/16/09 - Heartstring Stranglers, New Science Projects, Ryan Thomas Becker, Febrifuge, Roy Robertson

was feeling kinda restless on sunday night, in need of a live music fix, an adventure, and maybe somewhat of a bender. found out about a show in denton being put on by the gutterth boys - 5 bands, in a house, starting at 7, free, and BYOB. i thought, perfect. showed up at 7:30, hung out in the backyard with a bunch of drunk-ass, funny-as-hell guys half my age, who made me feel right at home. gawd, i love the Denton music scene.

back inside the house and up the rickety staircase in the attic, Roy Robertson started things off. Was very impressed by Roy - loved his voice, his songwriting, his guitar-playing - everything. Liked the non-standard structure of some of his songs. Really enjoyed it. Told me his influences were Dylan and The Beatles. i should mention - this whole show was completely acoustic (demonstrating how committed the music scene is to lowering its carbon footprint. or maybe they were just trying to keep the cops from busting down the doors & shooting whatever dogs they could find, in response to a noise complaint). sorry - bit of a tangent there.

Back downstairs, Febrifuge (which is just one dude, Chris Day) was up next. Really liked what i heard on myspace from this guy. Of course, what i heard sunday was a very much stripped- down version of his recordings, so it wasn't quite as compelling, but i still enjoyed his set. Really dug his voice - quite a range - very Thom Yorke-like in places. He played acoustic guitar and autoharp, and tapped a tambourine with his foot to add a percussive element. Very nice set. Will definitely be looking out for Febrifuge shows in the future (I assume he plays with a full band at times). Ryan Thomas Becker then played in a different room on the bottom floor. Seen him perform many, many times, and i'm always amazed by his voice. very unique, incredibly soulful. great stuff, as always.back upstairs in the now-sweltering attic (did i mention that the house had no AC?), New Science Projects did his thing. It was funny to see him smearing what looked like fake blood on himself down in the laundry room before his set (ok, i dono why that was funny, but it was). Anyhow, it absolutely amazed me that almost the entire crowd (and that attic was packed) seemed to know every word of every one of his songs. you don't see that very often. i thought the addition of a cello player to some songs was a nice touch. i'm not a huge fan of NSP - it's a little over the top for my taste, and i don't care for his voice at all - so after 4 or 5 songs (during which i sweated off half my body weight), i headed back downstairs and outside to the relatively cool summer night. last to perform was Heartstring Stranglers - this was actually their cd release show and going away shindig. couldn't really see the whole band - the whole bottom floor of the house was jam-packed (guess that's why they invented stages, eh?), but i think there were five of them. nice collection of (hard to describe - old-timey? ethnic? gothic?) folk tunes. very nice. bought both cd's. violin player drove my pants crazy (sorry!). all in all, i had a blast - good booze, good people, good music. can't ask for more than that.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

8/7/09 - Sleep Whale, Dear Human, Echo-Toll Hailey's. solo.

First up was "a short installation/performance by Echo-Toll". Um, OK, this was very uh, interesting, if not a bit hard to describe. Two folks on stage - one on laptop/synth, the other on shovel. No, i am not kidding. To be fair, he also fiddled around with various pieces of noise-generating equipment on the stage, but he loved that damn shovel. Most of the performance was spent demonstrating his considerable digging skills, often in slow-motion (so we could really study his technique?), sometimes wif farmer's hat on, sometimes wif it off (get it? yea, me neither). The soundtrack to all this was the recorded sounds of cats being tortured, which emanated from the laptop (i think). anyhows, the performance was not at all "short", i'm afraid, as it took forever to dig that goddam hole (cursed black gumbo!). This was definitely Art, baby, wif a capital A.Dear, Human was up next. Totally instrumental band - but not the GYBE, Explosions in the Sky ambient-type stuff. These guys do the whole "every-member-of-the-band-play-as-many-frickin-notes-as-you-can-in-the-next-four-minutes", math-rock kinda stuff. They obviously were talented, and if you like that sort of thing, you should check them out. not really my bag. i stared at the gal in the white shorts the whole time (sorry).Sleep Whale headlined. They've expanded to four members since i saw them last, which has rounded out their sound quite nicely. very nice, soothing set.

8/6/09 - Barcelona, Meese, Seabird, Interval the Prophet Bar. solo.

Interval (formerly Soundelux) was up first. 3-man band straight outta Plano - keys, guitar, drums. Extremely ordinary, I thought. Fairly unoriginal & uninspiring. Not a great voice on the lead. Sorry.
Seabird (Kentucky) was up next. 4-man band, with lead on keys, wearing the obligatory funky piano-pop hat (what's up with that, anyways?). Somewhat reedy voice on lead, not my fav. Vocals overpowered by the band, which played too many notes (i'm kidding - it might've just been the mix, but it all seemed very muddy). Once again, nothing overly exciting or original. 'Course, I might've been biased by the fact that i saw that almost all of their upcoming gigs are in churches. ;)
Meese (Denver) - very similar in style to Seabird, but with better vocals. and no hat.
To expound just a bit further - those last two bands are the kind that inspire the 20-year-old- girlfriends-of-band-members-in-the-audience to constantly link their arms together and sway back and forth whilst singing along. Not that there's anything wrong with that. i'm not sure why that diminishes my opinion of the bands, but it do.

Headlining was Barcelona (Seattle). Easily the best band of the night. 3-man band - keys, guitar, drums. Definite Coldpay and Death Cab territory. The difference between them and the other bands that night? The outstanding vocals of the lead - an amazing voice with incredible range and emotion, complemented wonderfully by some inspired harmonies from the guitar player. Great energy and passion from this band. These guys prove you don't need a large band to really crank out some amazing tunes - sometimes, simpler is better.
Mad props to the Prophet Bar for getting started at 8 and done at 11:15 (four bands!) - definitely helped reduce the number of times i fell asleep in meetings the next day.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

8/1/09 - Nervous Curtains, Silk Stocking, True Widow

after a long dry spell (going on vacation, answering various booty calls and what-not (kidding!!)), i headed to hailey's for another gutterth show. was joined by Cherry Pie, who graciously agreed to accompany me so I wouldn't be the oldest person in the place. :)

True Widow started things out. I'd been looking forward to hearing them, what with all the good press they've received lately, but oh my gawd, was i disappointed. "Plodding" was the word that kept coming to my mind. CP's much-more-colorful description was "Molasses". Very one-note, repetitive, dreary, retro - a bit like Low on steroids. I guess that's what "slow-core" is supposed to be, but damn, i'd call it "bore-core" (nyuck). Kept waiting for the next song to impress me, or at least be different, but it never happened. Not sure what i'm missing...
Silk Stocking was up next. Not sure what happened here, either - saw them a while ago and really dug it, but i could swear their entire sound has been revamped. I couldn't take it - seemed like there was a concerted effort to make every song as difficult to listen to as possible. Mercifully, it was a short set.
thanks be to gawd that Nervous Curtains was there to save the evening, along with my music-picking reputation in CP's eyes. Sean, Ian and Robert once again impressed with their amazing combination of piano, synths, and drums. Absolutely loved the new one, All Yesterday's Parties (now playing on their myspace page), which Sean described as "Scott Walker meets Phil Spector", while CP insisted it was a tango. Once again - really loved Robert's drumwork. Sean says their CD will be coming out in 6 months or so - can't wait for that. really hope it gets the kind of attention it deserves. anyways - a great set, as usual.
yea, The Great Tyrant was up after that, but the approximately 20 seconds i heard of their set a few months ago was enough to last me a lifetime, so we split.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

7/10/09 - the pAper chAse, MATAS, Tre Orsi Dan's.

Tre Orsi was up first. three-man band (thus the name, eh?). pretty good at what they were doin, but nothing overly memorable. my friend the cougar thought the drummer was very good, but probably just cuz she thot he was cute.
Matthew and the Arrogant Sea was up next and guess what - i thought they were awesome. 'magine that (see below for all the rave reviews). nice stop-down in the middle for a solo song by Matthew - beautiful stuff.
the pAper chAse headlined. wow, what a performance. loved it even more than the granada show a few weeks back. my gawd, those guys write some really unique, head-bobbin', hard-rockin' songs. john congleton is a mad-man on stage, flailing around, expectorating at every turn, laying hands on the crowd (there are demons to be exorcised, you know), etc. What an amazing, high-energy set. i will be buying that cd.