Friday, April 02, 2010

Miles Kurosky w/ Pancho San @ Schuba's - 4/1/10

After failing to reach commercial success to match their critical acclaim, San Francisco pop outfit Beulah broke up in the summer of 2005. Actually, they officially called it quits before their last tour, which made that sort of a farewell tour. They played two nights in Chicago at the Abbey on that tour, both of which I attended. I was pretty much up at the stage on the second night, and was able to grab an extra setlist (something I've only cared to do one other time). I popped the setlist up on my refrigerator and it's been there ever since.

Last night Miles Kurosky, Beulah's former front-man, was in town playing material from his new solo album 'the Desert of Shallow Effects'. Because it was at Schuba's, a venue where you can usually chat with the performers afterward, I figured I'd bring the setlist with me to possibly get it autographed. Little did I know that the opening act, Pancho San, would consist of former Beulans Patrick Abernathy and Eli Crews. Pancho San also made up 3/5 of Kurosky's backing band for his solo material. The upshot is I was able to get all three to sign the setlist.

As for the show itself, Pancho San were pretty good. I've seen Patrick play with Beulah and with Rogue Wave, but this was the first time I'd seen him sing. Perhaps it's because I knew they were from San Francisco before seeing them play, but they seemed to deliver what one would typically consider the San Francisco sound. Jangly guitars, up-tempo pop-songs, and more or less ear friendly. I need to spend a little time with their album, which I picked up from the merch table after the show.

Miles Kurosky has endured some physical ailments between the end of Beulah and the release of his solo album, but he hasn't let that affect him. Pitchfork likened the new album to a fifth Beulah record, and that's both accurate and quite alright with me. It's nice to hear a familiar voice again, and the music on the new album is excellent. Miles played most of it last night, as should have been expected.

He also finished out the evening with some Beulah classics. The full band got together for "Emma Blowgun's Last Stand", "Landslide Baby", and "Popular Mechanics for Lovers". Miles also filled the encore void (it is Schuba's after all) with a short medley of Beulah tunes featuring "If We Can Land a Man on the Moon, Surely I Can Win Your Heart", "You're Only King Once", and "Gene Autry".

Particularly impressive was the full horn section that showed up to play. The band was backed by a couple trumpets, and couple saxophones, and a trombone. According to the guys in the band, they'd never met the horn players before, but they ran through the set at sound check and decided to give it a go. If you're familiar with Beulah, a lot of their stuff had some large trumpet parts, handled by co-founder Bill Swan. This band filled the void left by his absence quite nicely, and added a lot of texture to Miles' solo stuff, which is also heavy on horns. Pictures and some MK and Beulah vids below.

Dog in the Burning Building

Emma Blowgun's Last Stand

Monday, March 29, 2010

Vampire Weekend @ the Riviera - 4/26/10

First time I've seen them live, and they pretty much lived up to the hype. It might have been the few beers beforehand, but this was a really easy show to get into. A nice thing about Vampire Weekend is that they've only got two records, and most of their songs are short, so they can play a pretty full set that covers virtually all of their album material. They played the entire new album, except for Giving Up the Gun (surprising, since that's a new single), and and I Think Ur a Contra. They played the entire first album except The Kids Don't Stand a Chance. They also threw in Ladies of Cambridge, a b-side from the Oxford Comma single.

This was only the second time I've been to the show at the Riviera (first show was Spoon about two and a half years ago). It's a little bigger venue than I normally frequent. It's got a capacity of about 2,500 people, about 10-15 times the size of a place like Schuba's, which is a bit more up my alley. But the acoustics at the Riv are excellent, so it's hard to complain. We skipped Abe Vigoda, who opened (a band on my radar that I haven't gotten around to yet), and by the time we got in, the venue was fairly full, so visuals weren't easy to come by. But compared to my companion/date, who is about 5'3", I had it pretty easy.