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.