So I haven't really been doing concert reviews or recaps lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been going to shows. August was a little on the slow side in the wake of the Pitchfork Festival, but September has been picking it back up. In the last week or so, we had three really great shows.
Spiritualized @ Metro - 9/8/08
I finally saw J. Spaceman for the first time at P-fork, and that show was essentially the hour long outdoor version of their regular show, so the set was pretty similar, only about a half hour or forty minutes longer. Most of the extra time was taken up by older material, which I particularly enjoyed since I didn't see any of the shows in support of those albums.
The P-fork set made appearances here and there, mostly in a good way. He again opened with 'You Lie You Cheat', which devolves into noise, then cuts beautifully into 'Shine A Light', from the Laser Guided Melodies album. He finished the set, again, with 'Come Together' from Ladies and Gentlemen.... which segued into the old Spacemen 3 tune 'Take Me to the Other Side'. Added in along the way were some new songs (Death Take Your Fiddle), some Spiritualized classics ('Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space', 'Lay Back in the Sun') and another Spacemen 3 number (either 'Walkin' With Jesus' or 'Sound of Confusion', depending on what album you have). He ended the night with a rousing rendition of 'Lord Can You Hear Me'.
Their live set, at least indoors is very loud and engrossing. You've heard the phrase "wall of sound". Well, this is an ocean of sound, and you're drowning in it. It just absolutely engulfs the entire venue. The pacing was pretty good. The two songs that start this set really draw you in. There's little to no crowd rapport, not even a "thank you" between songs, though I think he said it on the way out. It's really quite an experience. An excellent live show, and one I hope I get the chance to see again.
You Lie You Cheat
Take Me To The Other Side (Live)
Grand Ole Party opened. I saw them open for someone earlier this year as well. Three piece band with a female drummer, who also handles lead vocals. She's got quite a voice. Entertaining act.
The Walkmen @ Metro 9/12/08
This is the third or fourth time I've seen them in the last year and a half, so it's been interesting to see them go from supporting "A Hundred Miles Off" to trying out some new material, to eventually supporting that material, most of which appears on the new album "You and Me". It's an album that didn't really grab me at first, certainly not as quickly as the last one, but after five or six listens, it's really grown on me and might be my favorite album yet.
The set lasted a little under an hour and half, which is probably the longest set I've seen them do. The set was heavy on the album, and light on everything else. They played the classics. 'Wake Up', 'Little House of Savages', 'Thinking of a Dream I Had'. They played some songs that are much better live than on the record, like 'All Hands and the Cook', and 'What's In It For Me'. The new album has a lot of horn parts, so they were able to play 'Louisiana'. And they proved again that 'The Rat' is the best four minutes of live music on the planet.
But the new album really made up the meat of the show, and fortunately, it's a really good album for a live show. It's got some slower tracks that help round out the pacing, but the standouts from the album were the standouts in the live set. 'Donde Esta La Playa', 'On the Water', 'the Blue Route', 'Canadian Girl' all delivered. The crowd seemed fairly familiar with the new material, as loud cheers went out upon hearing the opening strums of 'In the New Year', the first single and a real highlight of the show.
As usual, the Walkmen, more than any other band I've seen a bunch of time, are more than worth the price of admission. Along with the Super Furry Animals, they're probably may favorite act currently in existence, and their live shows are really terrific. The opening acts were pretty interesting too. Ezra Furman and the Harpoons were kind of a straightforward pop-rock four piece with a funny frontman, and klezmer-rock six piece Golem were, well, something I wouldn't expect to see at a rock show, and something I'd even less expect to like, but they put on a very entertaining set. No complaints.
In the New Year
On the Water
The Broken West @ Schuba's 9/15/08
Small crowd, but Monday night shows aren't typically heavily attended, especially for lesser known acts like the Broken West. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a great show. I saw these guys open for the Walkmen last year, and I've seen them another four times since, and they always put on a good set. They released a new album last week, their second, so the set drew heavily from that, but they worked in some favorites from the first album as well. This is the type of show where you can hang around and chat with the band afterward, so that's kind of fun. I try to wait to buy albums at shows if possible, because I think they get a bigger piece of the pie. This is an L.A. based band, around Silverlake I believe, so it's nice to support local acts from my hometown.
A band called the Builders and the Butchers opened for them. They're kind of folky, but really heavy themes. Lost of death and afterlife sorts of stuff. Like if the Decemberists were a little harder and sang a lot of dirges. But the music is really engaging. I usually need to listen to an album a few times before it connects, but I was digging their debut on first listen. I was wearing a t-shirt from the Moose's Tooth, a pizzeria and brew pub in anchorage. The lead singer saw it started up a conversation about Alaska. Turns out half this band is from Anchorage, and a couple went to the school where my brother used to teach. Small world.
Down in the Valley