Tag Archives: gigs

Live: Wolf Parade with Ogre You Asshole @ Exit/In – Nashville – 22 November 2010

As great as Wolf Parade were, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about their fantastic openers, Ogre You Asshole. They’re Japanese and sing in their native language, but that was no barrier at all. Their songs are bright, angular, and thoroughly impressed everyone with their tight construction. Gone was the typical Nashville standing around with folded arms; it was the perfect warm-up. Ogre You Asshole also had the benefit of audible vocals, unlike Wolf Parade. (Get it together, Exit/In.) Of course, there was still quite the singalong for songs like “I’ll Believe In Anything” and “This Heart’s On Fire.” Frontman Spencer Krug looked more manic as the set progressed, featuring tracks from At Mount Zoomer and latest LP Expo 86.

Ogre You Asshole:

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Wolf Parade:

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Full set here

Live: Johnny Flynn @ 3rd and Lindsley – Nashville – 29 October 2010

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I would like to preface this by saying that, out of everyone else I have met who is currently associated with American Songwriter, I am one of the people who listens to the least amount of singer-songwriters. I’m hard-pressed to name even five that I genuinely care about.

One of those five is Johnny Flynn, a classically-trained London folkie with talent to spare. He may have fairly unknown status in the US, but to everyone who saw his first Nashville show at 3rd and Lindsley on Friday night, he was a star. Pre-show, there was a steady stream of fans asking him for autographs and pictures. Post-show, a crowd was quick to form around him. People couldn’t stop talking about how there is something special about Flynn, something to believe in. As he performed songs from his 2008 debut A Larum and recent release Been Listening, this was evident. Flynn is an equal raconteur of personal confessions (“Tickle Me Pink”), more philosophical contemplations (“The Water”), and old-fashioned tales (“Sweet William”). The richness of his voice, backed by the sounds of a 1934 guitar, belies his awkwardly charming stage presence. Johnny Flynn is of a rare breed—or at least he is to everyone who watched in rapt attention. After getting my copy of Been Listening signed, it felt perfectly natural to tell him, “See you next time.”

Been Listening is out now on Transgressive.

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Live: B.o.B w/ Hayley Williams, Passion Pit, and Snoop Dogg @ Vanderbilt University – Nashville – 22 October 2010

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He may have been third on the bill, but B.o.B performed like he was the headliner, sporting a broad smile as he tore through songs from his debut LP The Adventures of Bobby Ray, including “Magic” and “Lovelier Than You.” Showing off his rock influences, the Atlanta rapper strummed a feather-decorated acoustic guitar for a well-received cover of MGMT’s “Kids.” The set built up to Hayley Williams of Paramore joining B.o.B onstage for their joint hit “Airplanes.” For the record, Williams was wearing an Adidas track jacket with white jogging pants with wings attached to the hips tucked into knee-high black boots, overall a seriously questionable sartorial decision.

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Passion Pit had to make up for having to pull out of Vanderbilt’s Rites of Spring festival in April, and they accepted the challenge–or at least frontman Michael Angelakos did, as he took advantage of the room to spread out and flung himself around the stage, at one point climbing atop the stack of speakers. While it felt like Angelakos’s show more than a full band’s, the five-piece sounded on point. They also succumbed to the trend of having to build up to their most popular song, finishing their set with “Sleepyhead.”

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Snoop Dogg was fascinating as a cultural experience that I am unable to qualify at this time. His opening hype man was kind of boring and there was a backdrop featuring an airbrushed portrait of a woman who appeared to have an extra joint on one of her ankles.

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Live: Local Natives @ Cannery Ballroom – Nashville – 14 October 2010

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With the way the independent music scene works, it’s not unusual for bands to blow up very quickly. However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean that it’s weird to watch. The first time I saw Local Natives, they were playing at a 150-capacity club and seemed shocked that any people actually bothered to show up, much less selling out the place. This time around, they were at a venue ten times that size–which wasn’t packed, but still had a respectable audience. This Cannery show was truly set apart as a completely different experience once I witnessed grown women pointing at the band and saying, “I’m going to marry that one.” It’s a natural enough result of increased success, but I have to say that it still felt pretty strange. I don’t want to be that jerk bragging about liking them first, because Local Natives deserve the best and I’ve certainly been evangelical about them, but I want to say this as a spectator of the buzz game. Also, if you have the opportunity to see Local Natives live, you should take it, because they’re lovely and sound amazing and make you feel good about being alive and able to see great music. Enough of my boring blather, here are some pictures. (But maybe also check out this article.)

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Live: Matt and Kim @ Exit/In – Nashville – 17 October 2010

Read my review here at American Songwriter.

Photos to prove how awesome it was:

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A few notes on nostalgia and Greg Dulli

The majority of today’s cultural nostalgia is dominated by a cheap, remember-that-show quality that ultimately infantilizes its audience into submission. Shameless nods to yesterday’s TV/music/movies are fine for a quick escape, but they can also make tomorrow that much more daunting. Still, when approached with more care, peering into the past can be invigorating. Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig summed up the two sides with characteristic eloquence on this year’s Contra, singing about how we’re “nostalgic for garbage, desperate for time.”
Ryan Dombal’s Gold Panda review for Pitchfork

Last night, I witnessed the polar opposite of what Dombal describes when I had the opportunity to see Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers perform at Mercy Lounge. One of the editors at the magazine I intern for had asked me to come along and photograph the show, and I obliged. I didn’t, and still don’t, know anything about the Afghan Whigs, other than having learned immediately preceding the show that they were active during the 90s. They weren’t a foundational band for any of the current artists I listen to, and I think I heard them one time by accident while looking up the Georgian indie rock band called the Whigs. Simply put, their music has just never intersected with my life.

At 21, I was the youngest person at the show by at least a decade. I end up in a lot of weird situations, but being surrounded by people who had been dedicated to the same band for 10-20 years was particularly surreal. Some of the members of the audience have probably been listening to Dulli’s music for the same amount of time that I’ve been alive. Obviously, there are older bands that I like, but it’s impossible for me to have been following them since their inception. If I had been able to attend any of the Blur reunion shows in summer 2009, I would have sobbed about Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn being together again as much as anyone else, but those emotions were developed years after their heyday and decline. It’s not the same as forming attachments in the same timeline, the way all of those Greg Dulli fans had.

I was not only hyperaware of my youth, but I started to wonder if I’ll be having experiences like that in 15 years, considering how impermanent today’s music scene is. For example, I love Das Racist because they represent what it’s like to be young and a racial minority in this very specific window of time, which undeniably has an expiry date. I don’t know when this expiry date is, but it’s going to be obvious when it arrives. Not to seem callous, but it’s the way our culture works. I can’t predict what I’ll think about artists with more enduring sounds–if someone like Koenig or Alex Kapranos does a solo tour in 20 years, will I still care? The contemporary indie music scene moves so fast that, even if you really like an artist, it’s difficult to keep up because there’s a constant deluge of new stuff. With a traditional business model, the 90s allowed time for musicians to become iconic, the way Dulli is to every other person who was at that show. Being an outsider observing a group of people who are all really interested in one thing is always an odd experience, and I think the last time I felt it that strongly was when I was literally intruding on a religious experience.*

The show wasn’t sold out, but it was very obviously an extraordinarily special experience for those fans who had been waiting for years to see their hero again, as evidenced by all of the people scrambling to see the setlists as soon as they were taped to the stage. For the record, I only stayed about half an hour before leaving. I didn’t want to take valuable front-row space away from someone who had been waiting for more than a decade to stand three feet away from Greg Dulli.

Is this what Buzzcocks meant by “nostalgia for an age yet to come”?

*When I studied abroad in Ireland, one of our activities was to climb Croagh Patrick, which is not only the highest mountain in Ireland, but a site holy to St. Patrick. I hate most outdoorsy activities, so I hiked up about a third of the way before giving up, complaining the entire time. Meanwhile, there were all of these Irish septuagenarians who were able to climb the entire mountain because they were motivated by their Catholic faith, and that was better than being young and reasonably able-bodied.

@ American Songwriter

A little about Avi Buffalo and a lot about why I’m a journalism major

I have been reading quite a bit of Pitchfork Reviews Reviews lately, so I apologize in advance if this sounds sort of like that. I don’t want to jack his style, which is arguably embarrassing for a journalism major, but I do like how honest he is.

Last night, I went to see Avi Buffalo at Exit/In. Before they went on, I went up to the merch stand to see what was on offer, and I started talking to George, their merch guy, and a girl whose name I can’t remember. Avi Buffalo are doing a special tour EP where all of the cases are plain cardboard so that people can draw on them, and the girl was killing time by doodling on some of those covers. George offered me one, and because I’m not very good at drawing, I just indecorously scrawled “CALIFORNIA” with “screw Katy Perry” in smaller letters. George told me he actually likes Katy Perry, and I wanted to talk about it, but it didn’t feel right at that moment.

One of them asked me what I did, and I said that I was a journalism student, that I decided to switch after a year of being a music business major. They wanted to know why, and I said it was because I was more interested in the cultural aspects of music and the entertainment industry. The girl asked me to explain. I launched into this ramble about how Vampire Weekend are one of my favorite bands because, in addition to making good songs and really caring about what they do, they also bring up all of these questions about class that you normally see more in the British music scene, like in the mid-90s with Blur and Oasis. She asked me if Vampire Weekend were British, and I said, “No, they’re American.” She said, “We don’t like to talk about class here,” and I agreed. George said something about how Avi Buffalo had opened for Vampire Weekend one time, and I sort of haphazardly plowed on and started talking about how Das Racist are really interesting because they metabolize a combination of highbrow and lowbrow cultural references into much more blatant statements about class and race in America. Then Avi Buffalo started to play and the girl and I left to go watch them.

The band were pretty good, but I could definitely tell that it was the first night of the tour. Their keyboardist just left, so Avi had to juggle playing guitar and putting on the loops of the parts that they didn’t have a fourth person to play. They still sounded tight as a three-piece, and I wish them the best of luck on this tour. While they played, I started thinking about how young they are, fresh out of high school, and how young Arctic Monkeys were when they first signed to Domino and broke the UK record for fastest-selling debut album. I was younger than Arctic Monkeys were then, and I’m older than Avi Buffalo are now, and I had to stop myself from having a mini-crisis over the impermanent nature of youth.

After the show, I went back to the merch table to buy one of the customized tour EPs and I attempted to engage George in a conversation about why he likes Katy Perry. He said it was because she’s just fun, but she certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on fun, and there are plenty of fun artists who don’t make bothersome statements that undermine the legitimate discrimination that LGBT people face on a daily basis. People say that Lady Gaga exploits the gay audience for her own personal gain, but Katy Perry has done that on a much grander scale with her songs. Regardless of her intentions, Gaga ultimately maintains a consistently positive message. And, again, I think I’m a journalism major because we need to talk about why Katy Perry and Lady Gaga matter, even though sometimes it seems like they don’t matter.

Live: Washed Out, Chief, Yeasayer, and Javelin @ Next Big Nashville – 1 October 2010

I’m pretty much just going to let the photos speak for themselves, because these past few days of the Next Big Nashville summit have been going nonstop. I spent last night hanging out at Cannery Ballroom and Mercy Lounge to catch Washed Out, Chief, Yeasayer, and Javelin. A few notes:

–The Washed Out set had to be cut short, I think due to tech problems. Sadly, Next Big Nashville means sticking to a strict schedule. Ernest Greene seemed genuinely disappointed that he couldn’t do his full set–it’s too bad I didn’t manage to catch him when he opened for Beach House earlier this year.
–You know how bands will talk about how sometimes they’d have less than 20 people at a show, but it was still a great experience? I hope this was one of those times for Chief.
–Yes, Yeasayer brought that crazy one-eyed one-armed blob creature from the “Madder Red” video onstage with them. Also, I don’t know why so many bands feel compelled to dress country when they play Nashville. It always seems part mockery, part homage, though I say this as a non-native.

Full set here

Washed Out
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Chief
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Yeasayer
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Javelin
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Live: of Montreal and Janelle Monáe @ Cannery Ballroom – Nashville – 26 September 2010

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It’s not often that an audience is already pumped up for the opening act, but there were as many cheers and shouts of “I love you!” for Janelle Monáe as there were for of Montreal at Nashville’s Cannery Ballroom on Sunday night. Preceded by a top-hatted announcer, Monáe arrived onstage hidden in a black cloak before bursting into a triumphant rendition of “Dance or Die.” Monáe and her band’s matching oxfords proved to be dancing shoes as they blasted through tracks from her critically acclaimed debut LP The ArchAndroid. The carefully crafted show was aided by video elements and a troupe of background dancers. During “Mushrooms & Roses,” a canvas and easel were brought onstage and Monáe painted along to the song. (The result was given to a lucky audience member, who happened to be sporting a gorilla mask.) of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes joined her onstage for their collaboration “Make the Bus.” High-octane hits like “Cold War” and “Tightrope” brought out the best in Monáe’s energetic performance.

of Montreal were also kitted out in Monáe’s signature black-and-white color scheme, save for Barnes. As the ringleader of the psychedelic sex circus, he started the set wearing a ruffled turquoise top and matching boots with purple tights and a blue polka-dot apron. Later, he changed into a white mesh hoodie and a pink-and-orange striped spandex skirt with a sequined flamingo applique. This was atypically modest for him, but Nashville seems to be stricter about public nudity, and simply getting naked is entry-level in comparison to antics like dry-humping a person in a pig mask. True to of Montreal form, the show was truly spectacular, featuring gun-toting fish people, skeletons sporting footie pajamas, Barnes re-entering the stage astride a dragon-like creature composed of several assistants, and something involving a cage that was probably not actually as extravagant as it could have been. The band’s set focused on latest release False Priest, but also emphasized 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? with tracks such as “Gronlandic Edit,” “She’s A Rejector,” and “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse.” A repeated collaborator on False Priest, Monáe joined of Montreal for a fantastical sequence involving ninjas wielding swords and angels. For the encore, Monáe and her entourage crowded onstage for a medley of Michael Jackson covers. It was a gutsy move, but Barnes fearlessly took on “Thriller”, ending the night on a high point.

Photos:
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Full set of photos
American Songwriter
Nashville Scene

Live: Best Coast w/ Cults @ Mercy Lounge – Nashville – 12 September 2010

You know how I feel about Best Coast. While they sounded fairly close to the record and it was actually better than I expected, I will not try to deny yawning multiple times. I will not try to deny drifting off and staring intensely at a guitar stand. I will not try to deny visibly cringing during the “I lost my job, I miss my mom, I wish my cat could talk” line. Or when they walked on to “Party In The USA.” Or when Bethany Cosentino said, “Lady Gaga [calls her fans] little monsters. You all are my Snacks!”

Cults, however, were excellent and you should all download their 7″ for free.

Nashville Scene
American Songwriter

On to the photos.

Cults:
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Best Coast after the jump.
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