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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yeasayer at First Avenue - April 27, 2010

The Blur of Motion That Is Sleigh Bells

First Avenue was the most crowded I had ever seen on Tuesday, and the venue change 3 months ago may have lead to an overselling of tickets. Nevertheless, Yeasayer rocked First Avenue with old, beautiful harmonizing and haunting choruses, and new, rocking love-song synth pop.
Almost everyone knows, according to the "cool" music blogs, that buzzed about opening act Sleigh Bells is pretty much gonna be the most awesome shit in the world in about three months. So, as Sleigh Bells walked on stage, you could tell who would be jumping on the bandwagon. About a dozen people were singing every word, bouncing up and down, and moshing obnoxiously during the whole set. I'm sure it was great for them, but it ruined Sleigh Bells for the rest of us. Live, Sleigh Bells' sound is lacking. With only two members, a back up, pre-recorded track is needed in the background, which takes away from the overall experience.
Next up was Yeasayer. From the minute the curtain went up and the stage began flashing green, you knew Yeasayer was a totally new band. When I saw Yeasayer last June, they were still technically touring for 2o07's All Hour Cymbals. The album is way slower paced than the knew one, and personally the show left my unsatisfied. With the new material from Odd Blood, Yeasayer's concerts have been turned into one big middle-eastern tinged party.
The middle of the main set was the concert's strongest point, with highlights such as "Wait for the Summer", "I Remember", "2080", "Tightrope", and "O.N.E" all packed into a space of six songs. The crowd, aside from being giant, was also crazy. Response to Yeasayer was amazing, and even the band themselves seemed bewildered at the response as people found a way to bounce up and down even on slower cuts.
A few of the weaker tracks from Odd Blood, such as "Strange Reunions," and "Love Me Girl" lagged, but overall the set was a huge success. The encore of Grizelda and Sunrise was perfectly blended, but Yeasayer decided to stay on and play one more song. It was easy to tell that this was a spur of the moment decision as "Red Cave" was sloppy and points.
Overall, Yeasayer pulled out the strongest tracks from both of their albums on Tuesday night and pleased a crowd that was ready to dance.

The Children
Strange Reunions
Wait for the Summer
I Remember
Love Me Girl
Madder Red
Ambling Alp

Red Cave

Monday, April 19, 2010

Summer Festival Season

Summer is coming, and that means festivals. With Coachella happening last weekend festival season has officially started. This year I will be going to three festivals, two small and one large. In Minneapolis I will attend The Current's Rock the Garden, which features MGMT, Sharon Jones, Ok Go, and Retribution Gospel Choir. I will also be going to Basilica Block Party, featuring Spoon, The Avett Brothers, Weezer, and a few un-announced acts. I'm crossing my fingers for Broken Bells. Finally, in August I will be going to Lollapalooza in Chicago. Lollapalooza has an amazing lineup, click on the link to see my custom lineup. Stay tuned and turn to this blog for all the reports of festivals around the mid-west this summer. Thanks!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Julian Casablancas at First Avenue - April 8, 2010

Julian Casablancas
Funeral Party

This blog is started off with a disclaimer, and it reads as follows: This was the darkest show I have ever been to, the photos and video aren't brilliant, but the audio is fine and it gives you an idea of the show. Now let's got to the important shi.
First Avenue was surprisingly not full on Thursday night, but the joint was still buzzing, a Stroke was in town. And not just any Stroke, Mr. Julian Casablancas was gracing us with his presence.
Before we get to Julian however, we must talk about the opening act Funeral Party. I came into First Avenue totally neutral on Funeral Party, having never listened to them before. Their live show is amazing, and the band are great performers, this is where their music belongs. Aside from the great performance, I could take or leave the music. All the songs seem to be sappy songs about breaking up, set to a rocking bass. Every song was pretty much the same, except for that the guitar was different. Oh well, enjoyable enough.
The setup for the main act took what seemed like an eternity, but when the lights finally went off the crowd was frenzied. Mr. Cool walked on stage wearing bright red jeans and a funky black leather jacket, his swagger was extremely evident. The first few songs started off rather dull, the lolling "Ludlow St." was kind of boring and "River of Brakelights" dragged on, but then...
The opening drums to possibly my favorite Strokes song, "Hard To Explain," hit the crowd, and right away the place was a whole different world. A frenzied crowd moved back and forth, up and down, and from then on, the night was phenomenal. Apparently this was the best crowd of the tour so far, and I don't doubt it after seeing videos from earlier on in the tour.
Another Strokes song, an alternate version to "You Only Live Once" called "I'll Try Anything Once" was a personal highlight of mine, although you can see nothing. See for yourself, or not as the case may be, below.
After that, the night seemed perfect. Saturday Night Live cover "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" rivaled "Hard To Explain" for the level of rowdiness. That closed out the main set, then the singer and his band came on for an encore which started with my favorite song from his solo album, "Out of the Blue."
Julian Casablancas' concert proved that he has it, hopefully the Strokes still will when I see them at Lollapalooza this summer. Although the lack of light was disappointing, the music made up for it and then some.

Set List:
New Song
Ludlow St.
River Of Brakelights
Hard To Explain (The Stokes Cover)
11th Dimension
I'll Try Anything Once (The Strokes Cover)
Left & Right in the Dark
I Wish It Was Christmas Today

Out of the Blue
4 Chords of the Apocalypse

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spoon at First Avenue - April 3, 2010

Britt Daniel

First of all, let's just start off by saying that this had all the makings of a magical night. It was the legendary club First Avenue's 40th birthday, which among other things meant free cake, and Spoon was in town for the second of two sold out shows. Last but not least, the fabulous Deerhunter were opening the show for Spoon, so it was a night for the record books.
Little know Londoners Micachu and the Shapes opened the show. Guitar, Mini-Guitar, Synthesizer, and Drums filled the stage. Vocals were impossible to make out, but were smartly used more as an instrument. Pitchfork describes their recorded sound as a "dissonant cluster," and live this is raised to a whole new level. With the synthesizer pounding through the crowd with the force of a bass, Micachu's sounds were hit and miss. The stand out songs were when a toy guitar was used instead of a real one, is this possibly a good sign? Anyways, the British trio weren't the reason I came, and it was enjoyable enough.
Next off, critic darlings indie act Deerhunter brought its dueling guitar sounds to the stage. The quartet beautifully played favorites such as "Nothing Ever Happened" from the amazingly well-received 2008 album Microcastle. Bradford Cox is an interesting character, interacting the crowd well and praising First Avenue and the city of Minneapolis. Deerhunter's classic blend of bass, two guitars, and drums worked perfectly, and I would see them again as a headliner.
As Spoon took the stage, First Avenue took on a new, more celebratory atmosphere. Opening with fan favorites such as "I Turn My Camera On," "Jonathon Fisk," and "The Way We Get By," Spoon had the audience hooked from the get-go. Brit Daniel was more talkative than the previous time I had seen Spoon, and the experience was all around more enjoyable.
New material from 2010's Transference fit in perfectly with older cuts, although they played only five songs from the album, leaving out two of my personal favorites, "Got Nuffin'" and "The Mystery Zone."
Spoon's catalogue has a lot of depth and it showed, the band played a 23 songs set including a standout cover of The Damned. Spoon continued pleasing the crowd and played two encores consisting of a total of five songs. Three of them came from Spoon's most commercially successful and most popular album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
Spoon's victory lap continued on Saturday night, and the Austin based band probably even one over the few Deerhunter and Micachu fans near the front that were complaining about the amount of Spoon fans. First Avenue couldn't have picked a better band to celebrate their 40th birthday with, and Spoon proved that on Saturday night.

Set List:
I Saw The Light
I Turn My Camera On
Jonathon Fisk
Nobody Gets Me But You
The Way We Get By
The Ghost Of You Lingers
Stay Don't Go
Don't Make Me A Target
Love Song (The Damned Cover)
Who Makes Your Money
Back to the Life
My Mathematical Mind
Someone Something
Vittorio E
They Never Got You
I Summon You
Finner Feelings
Written In Reverse

You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb

Don't You Evah
Trouble Comes Running
The Underdog