Friday, May 13, 2005

Earlimart w/ Okkervil River and Kevin Devine at Schuba's

That's right, lucky readers, you get concert reviews of bands you've never heard of on back to back days!


WoW! These guys kicked some serious ass. Loud. Very loud. For those unfamiliar with Earlimart, they're a lo-fi act out of LA (I believe Aaron Espinoza has a studio in lovely Eagle Rock). If you listen to their albums, it's kind of a mix of slow stuff, somewhat low key yet more up-tempo stuff, with a few rockers thrown in there. Not in person. Sure, the slow stuff is still slow, but everything is loud. And boy, do they rock. One of the best shows I've EVER seen. Keep in mind that Schubas is tiny, like half the size of the Double Door, which is also tiny. It's like seeing a show in someone's stomach one night, then seeing a show in the stomach of a person who had gastric bypass the next night. And they have Blue Moon on tap, so thumbs up for Schubas, but I digress. The set list, to the extent I can remember (and as a bonus, I'll try to do the first couple in order):
  • First Instant, Last Report
  • The Hidden Track
  • We Drink on the Job
  • The Movies
  • Sounds
  • All They Ever Do Is Talk
  • A Bell and a Whistle
  • Broke the Furniture
  • Unintentional Tape Manipulations
  • Heaven Adores You
  • Burning the Cow
  • There were a couple in there that I didn't know, and they might have played Dreaming Of, but I can neither confirm nor deny that.
  • The Valley and 808 Crickets was piped in as sort of mood music between songs
All in all, it was a pretty good set, in terms of songs selected. I can't really think of anything that I wanted to hear that they didn't play, although it would have been cool if they'd played their cover of R.E.M.'s "Strange", available on Rhapsody. Anyway, I can't complain. Good mix of old stuff and new (of course, I recently got into them, so it's mostly all new to me). I thought they might skip Burnin' the Cow, but they opened their encore with it by request, and I'm guessing that if they play a similar setlist every night, it's probably always the first requested in the encore.

This was another in the "bands with babes" series, building on last nights Raveonettes/Autolux/Peels show. This trend should continue if I go see Ivy next month. This isn't the most flattering picture of Arianna Murray, but she's pretty attractive in person. And she plays a mean bass, and keyboards to boot.

Espinoza is a master at finding the right sort of ambient sound at key points in the song, which make the keyboards especially important. The best examples of this are at the end of "Heaven Adores You", the chorus of "All They Every Do is Talk", and through "Unintentional Tape Manipulations". This creates sort of a secondary epiphany, at least it did for me. The first few times I heard these songs, I thought "hey, this is a really good band, and stuff that I could really get into." Then on about the fifth or sixth listen, I heard that extra instrumentation at the end of "Heaven Adores You" and thought "Holy crap! This song is incredible!" Now I listen to it again and again just waiting for that payoff, and it never disappoints. You can go to their site and stream them for yourselves (click on songs-->newsletter-->stream tracks). You'll see what I mean.

By the way, did I mention how loud it was? And that's not a bad thing. I love it loud.

Anyway, it was a terrific show. I'm starting to sound like someone who fawns over every band I see. Truth is, it doesn't take that much to entertain me. And if I leave entertained, I'm not gonna complain. And last night I was at a great venue, listening to good bands, at a place that sells Blue Moon, so I was more or less gonna be entertained no matter what. Anyway, on to the other two.

Okkervil River

Never heard of them before, but they had a bit of a fanbase at the show. There were a couple of people who seemed to know every song. Big act (six guys) for a tiny stage, but they made it work. These guys were very good. I was impressed as I could be, considering I had no idea what to expect. These guys are available on Rhapsody, so I would imagine that I'll spend part of the day familiarizing myself with their stuff. I can't even post a partial setlist, although I know they played a song called "Blacksheep Boy" (see below) and one called "Kansas City", which prompted someone in the crowd to confuse everyone by requesting it as "Home of the Barbeque". Man, that was a lame joke (his, I mean).


Per the comments (and thanks for visiting, Heather - you're now the second visitor who got here in some search engine contrived manner - please come back, oh, and don't let all of the Angels stuff scare you away), it turns out that I screwed up the setlist, which is tough to do when you only post two songs. Although I did notice that the Blacksheep theme made it into a couple of songs when I listened to some of the album on Rhapsody the other day. So the following is the updated setlist. If it's wrong, blame Heather. Although, I know she got the second and last songs in the right order, so she's probably not only right, but also has the right order. She's only a commenter, and she's already written the most accurate thing on this blog.
  • Some Weird Sin (Iggy Pop cover)
  • For Real (this one honestly really did rock)
  • Westfall (makes you jealous, huh BHW)
  • Get Big
  • The War Criminal Rises and Speaks
  • The Latest Toughs (not to be confused with Spoon's 'The Minor Tough' available on A Series of Sneaks).
  • Seas Too Far to Reach
  • Red
  • Song of our So-called Friend
  • A Favor
  • Kansas City (the only one I got right)

Kevin Devine

Another person I'd never heard of, but he was pretty entertaining as well. Kind of what you'd expect from a singer/songwriter, and seemed like a pretty good natured guy. Kind of reminded me of Jeff Mangum, though not quite as good. Admittedly, that's a virtually impossible standard to live up to. It's like saying UCLA's basketball team this season reminded me of Illinois, but not as good.

Anyway, an evening of quality entertainment, in a quality setting, with quality beer, garnished with quality orange slices. I give the evening a big thumbs up.


The Chronicler said...

A friend of mine just tuned me into Okkervil River a few days ago, ironically enough, and their song "Westfall" has been getting repeated play on my mp3 list (I got the mp3 off their site). They're actually coming to LA in a few weeks, but I'm otherwise engaged that night and am going to end up missing them.

Seitz said...

They were good, and seemed pretty friendly and funny. It's always better to see a band that will joke around with the crowd a bit. And it's easier to do that in a place that holds about 150 people. I was maybe 10 feet from the stage all night, give or take.

heather said...

I was there for Okkervil River, as I consider them the best live band at the moment and in the top two or three on record. Despite that, I did enjoy Earlimart and will end up picking up their albums. Okkervil's set list for the night was: Some Weird Sin (Iggy Pop cover); For Real; Westfall; Get Big; The War Criminal Rises And Speaks; The Latest Toughs; Seas Too Far To Reach; Red; Song Of Our So-Called Friend; A Favor; and Kansas City. I can't recommend strongly enough picking up any of their albums.