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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bright Eyes at the Riviera Theater - March 15, 2011

Conor Oberst says Bright Eyes are over. He says that after this album there will be no more, that he will part ways with Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott, continuing to do whatever he does. The concert at the Riviera Theater sure felt like a goodbye show on Tuesday night, as Bright Eyes played a greatest hits set with a no regrets feel. It did it's job too, leaving me and the whole rest of the sing-along crowd wanting more.

Openers and Saddle Creek labelmates Mynabirds had plenty to bring and easily filled up the theater with their plunky, poppy sound. There's no wikipedia article on them, so I don't know the lead singers name, but she had a hell of a voice. Dueling keyboards and otherwise sparse instrumentation gave their music a unique feel, and it was a good way to kill the time until bright eyes.

Then the lights shut off and the extremely creepy voice from the beginning of The People's Key came on, as all of the girls in the crowd began to scream. As their idol walked on the stage the screaming elevated to a higher level. Bright Eyes started right into Firewall, the opening track of their newest album, following with another song. Unfortunately, these songs paled in comparison live to older tracks. This was immediately obvious when the opening keyboards of Take It Easy (Love Nothing) started. The singalongs started then too, and continued throughout the night with Bright Eyes older songs. Songs such as We Are Nowhere, And It's Now and Bowl Of Oranges got huge crowd reactions, as songs from I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning were the obvious highlights. All in all it was a great show, with the only downsides being some of the new songs and the sometimes overpowering light show (which was actually quite enjoyable most of the time). Conor Oberst proved to everyone on Tuesday night that he still has it, and he made us wonder why he's ending Bright Eyes for good.

Bright Eyes Setlist Riviera Theater, Chicago, IL, USA 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wavves and Best Coast at the Varsity - February 11, 2011

Why was this concert so fun?
I found myself wondering exactly that as I walked out of the Varsity Theater. None of the three bands that performed Friday night were amazing live. None of them even seemed to be on the top of their games. Nevertheless, it was a great night.
No Joy, the under-appreciated first band, came on and physically hurt my ears. I couldn't understand one word the singer said, but the music was head-nodable and a great way to kill time.

Nathan Williams of Wavves was high out of his mind. Why was I surprised? The band sells cat-branded grinders and rolling paper. But they delivered by far the most fun set. Even with stupid remarks like "We love you Milwaukee!" the crowd ate everything up. Songs from "King of the Beach" were the best, especially the title track. I was even able to escape the moshing taking place on either side of me. I felt like Moses with my 3 other friends splitting the Red Sea. The only downside to the incredible show Wavves put on was closer "Post Acid," usually one of my favorite songs by Wavves. It was so sped up that the guitar and his words blended together into one giant blur. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth, as it seemed like they were in a rush to get off stage. Overall a very satisfying and fulfilling set, though. It's hard not to have fun when there are blow up aliens and beach balls in the middle of February.

Best Coast was great, too. Bethany Cosentino looked great in all black and she had the tunes to go with it. This is where the name Summer Is Forever and the concept of the Summer Is Forever tour came together. I found myself bathed in yellow light with the occasional stray beach ball bouncing over my head. The fuzzy, dueling guitars reminded me of summer. For a minute I forgot I had school again on Monday. Boyfriend and When I'm With You were great, obviously.
And so was my night.

P.S. Guitarist Bobb Bruno is a god. He is a real, neglected source of talent.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Up-Coming Concerts

Happy holidays to everyone. I'm excited for some really big concerts coming up. First of all, The Decemberists are coming back to town in support of their new album "The King is Dead." The Decemberists are a great band live, no matter how suckish their last album was (rock operas seldom work.) Anyway, here's a download link to their new single, which sounds a lot like an R.E.M song. Makes sense, because R.E.M's guitarist played on the new cd. They'll hit town February 6th at the State Theater.

After that comes Young the Giant. Young the Giant are a great new band from California, and they seem like they could be the next big buzz band. Perhaps 2011's Local Natives or Edward Sharpe? We'll see. Here's an acoustic version of the great song strings and a link to their amazing Daytrotter session. Their debut album comes out in late January, but it's already getting rave reviews. They'll be in town February 13th at the 7th Street Entry.

Lastly, I'll be trecking out to Chicago with my dad in March to see Bright Eyes! I've always loved Bright Eyes and never had a chance to see them, so I'm really pumped. They're new album, "The People's Key," comes out in February from Saddle Creek (of course.) I love the direction Conor's taken the band with new single Shell Games and hope that the live show matches up to it. Hopefully tracks from "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn" can be played too now, because of the new album's electronic direction. Their show is March 15th at the Riviera Theater in Chicago.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Broken Bells at First Avenue - December 6, 2010

Broken Bells descended on First Avenue on Monday night in the midst of a very brief North American tour. Broken bells has been touring for nine months behind their eponymous album now, so it was no surprise when they put on one of the tightest and most true to the album shoes of they year.

Luckily for me and the rest of the sold out crowd Broken Bells dragged opening band Maps & Atlases along with them. Going into the concert I had a whopping one-song long knowledge of this band. Going out I had a T-Shirt and a CD. The thing that made Maps & Atlases so great was a mixture of stage presence, the desire to have fun, and great music. Looking like a foursome confused about what direction they wanted to take musically (the lead singer looked like a cross between Robin Pecknold [looks] and Ezra Koenig [clothes],) they blended their obvious influences perfectly and put on a great show. The voice was very similar to The Tallest Man on Earth, while the bass lines in many songs were strikingly alike to Vampire Weekend. Somehow this combination worked perfectly. A slew of auxiliary percussion and a dancing bassist didn't hurt either, and Maps & Atlases turned out as one of the best bands I've seen in a while.

Although Maps & Atlases set the bar extremely high Broken Bells far exceed them, although not with the same tools that their support act had used. What Broken Bells lacked in stage personality (Danger Mouse never looked at the crowd,) they made up for in light show, accuracy, and sonic beauty. I was surprised from the minute opener "October" started with the accuracy of the instrumentation and James Mercer's voice. I came in expecting the worst from James' voice and I was blown away. They played every song from their album, a new song, a Dark Night of the Soul Song, and a spot on Neil Young cover. Although some of the songs from the middle of their good but not great debut album dragged along, the covers and rarity by far made up for it, as those were some of the highlights of the show.

Broken Bells came, saw, and conquered in their first and very likely only Minneapolis appearance, converting me from casual fan to rabid believer.

Broken Bells Setlist First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN, USA 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

LCD Soundsystem at Roy Wilkins Auditorium - October 23, 2010

Saturday night was the end of an era for me and the couple thousand people that came to the LCD Soundsystem show. This, in all likelihood, was going to be LCD Soundsystem's last show anywhere near here. Ever. Nevertheless, the show had a very jubilant feel, at least in the crowd.
Opener Hot Chip was one of the best warm-up bands I have ever seen, and they played a near-perfect set. All the hits sounded great, but Over and Over translated especially well. A steel drum was used, to my amazement, extremely well throughout their set on about half the songs they played. Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard's vocals contrasted perfectly, and the rest of the band served as great musicians and dancers. As it was throughout the night, the cave-like Roy Wilkins didn't effect Hot Chip's sound at all, and closer Ready for the Floor served as a great goodbye.

Hot Chip Setlist Roy Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul, MN, USA 2010

After about a twenty minute break, the lights went down and the magical opening notes of Dance Yrself Clean started playing, and members of the band walked on one-by-one. Then a crabby looking James Murphy, one of indie rock's high princes, walked onstage in unusually casual attire. No matter what his mood was the performance was great. As the opening song built up, so did the crowd, until the three-minute mark when everything exploded. It was actually like a bomb went off. From then on it was a huge dance party, with a few change ups here and there. Songs of off their first album got the strongest showing, and Daft Punk Is Playing at My House, Tribulations, and Movement were three of the highlights of my night. During Tribulations, a giant disco ball dropped down, the lights went off, and an amazing moment was created. A slowed down version of All My Friends didn't translate as well live, but since it's literally my favorite song it was still great. Home closed the set in truly emotional fashion, at least for the fans. Everyone knew this would be the last time we saw LCD Soundsystem, and the fans truly appreciated the performance. All James Murphy could do to say goodbye one last time was to give a disgruntled little wave. Regardless, it was one of the best shows I have ever seen and they will be sorely missed. Who can blame him for being a little tired anyway? He's only recorded three of the best albums of the decade, produced great albums, written movie soundtracks, and put on one of the greatest, most energetic live shows on earth.

LCD Soundsystem Setlist Roy Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul, MN, USA 2010

My camera would have blown out by the speakers, but here are some videos that I didn't take to give you an idea:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Flaming Lips at Roy Wilkins Auditorium - September 19, 2010

Well that was fun. Both bands that played at Roy Wilkins Auditorium Sunday Night, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and the Flaming Lips, entertained and amazed in different ways. Ariel Pink came on at exactly the scheduled time, 7:30, the first signal that it was going to be a good night. The second sign was that Ariel Pink was wearing a blue and red plaid woman's suit. The third sign was that the suit worked, and wasn't the weirdest thing about him. After their first song, Ariel Pink exclaimed "Thank you for coming to see MEEEEEE!" That pretty much set the tone for the rest of their 50 minute set, with Ariel Pink lying down near the end of the stage, acting like a diva, and playing air guitar furiously. It was fun to watch, and some of the music was decent too. "Beverly Kills" and "Round and Round," both from this year's great Before Today had the same punch live that they do
on record, even in the cavernous spaces of the Roy.

Ariel Pink
Next came the elaborate stage set-up for the Flaming Lips. From the get-go it was hard not to like them. Each member of the band set up their own instruments and reacted with the crowd, something that you rarely see. Then, as the lights went dark, each instrumentalist was born out of the screen and Wayne Coyne took a victory lap around the crowd in his giant hamster ball.
The Flaming Lips
The set was great too, although it seemed like the band was determined to drag every song out a couple of minutes longer than it had to be. Instead of this, next time, they should consider playing at least one song from The Soft Bulletin. Each song seemed to have its own gimmick though, which was fun. From laser hands to Wayne walking around with a strobe light strapped to his chest, there was never a lagging moment. All of the members seemed to be thoroughly involved with the show too. After closing with an emotional version of "Do You Realize??" the members left the stage. It wasn't until after they were gone that I realized how amazing the show they put on is, how much work, dedication, and energy it takes. That's not something you get from a lot of bands nowadays.

Laser Hands
The Flaming Lips Setlist Roy Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul, MN, USA 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lollapalooza 2010 (Videos Only)

Sorry it took so long, but here are some videos from my amazing trip to Lollapalooza.

Wavves - King of the Beach

The Walkmen - The Rat

The Big Pink - Velvet

The New Pornographers - Moves

The Black Keys - Tighten Up

The xx - Crystalized

Spoon - Got Nuffin

Cut Copy - Lights & Music