Last year's Fun Fun Fun Fest was overcast with clouds and horrible weather. Through it all, it still came out to be a great weekend of acts against the horrible background.
This year? Gorgeous weather and not a cloud in the sky. So what better way to start my day than with Black Congress - my new favorite band. I've heard Black Congress before, and was anticipating the band's set, but they absolutely killed it. (To the point where the power went out halfway through their third song.) For those of you looking for a new punk/post-hardcore outfit in the vein of Some Girls and These Arms Are Snakes, look no further. Heavy, bold and creative.
After taking care of some business (photo pass, finalize interviews, etc.), I headed to catch my friend Ben (Butcher Bear and Charlie) perform his set. Definitely one of the best local DJs in Austin, Ben has a great selection of music in all of his sets, some selections I've discovered through him.
After my interview with Davey Von Bohlen of Cap'n Jazz (also of The Promise Ring/Maritime), I grabbed some sweet migas and a beer. Buzzing on both, I thought I missed Devin the Dude, but was pleasantly surprised to catch the second half of his set. "the Dude" already has a great catalog of hip-hop, but also put on a great show with his back-up MCs and crew. Then came the biggest disappointment of the day: Slick Rick. Anticipating a great set from one of the pioneers of hip-hop (and riding high after Devin the Dude's set), Rick came out to rapping with his hand and his pocket and just sort of, well, standing there as he "spoke" his way through The Adventures of..., making it the most disappointing set of the day.
I was going to make my way to catch Monotonix, but I ran into some friends who said the sound was more than horrible and couldn't see anything because the band were playing on the ground. So after another cold one, I caught some of Os Mutantes' blistering set of harmony and happiness as the setting sun reflecting perfectly off the stage and bright timbre of a set.
Waiting for my friends to perform in the New Movement Comedy Group, a great local improv, I caught The first half of The Gories set. While this is one band who I am unaware of their legacy, I truly enjoyed the part of the set I saw. Straight faced and mixed with heavy bass and snarling vocals, the songs seemed to ride the line of punk and the early garage rock days. I'm going to be looking more into this band in the future.
If you don't know who Cap'n Jazz is or were, then you need to get yourself a bit of a history lesson. If Rites of Spring were short lived well before the early '90s screamo/post-hardcore movement, then Cap'n Jazz is the prologue to Jawbreaker, Texas is the Reason and Davey's band after Jazz, The Promise Ring. Only one release and a handful of 7"'s and covers, the band reunited for some shows this year, and played their final set of the reunion Saturday night. Though sharp, Tim Kinsella still sounds like he is a teenager, belting out his naive emotions against the grain of his brother's drumming. Tim was not without sharing the crowd's enthusiasm as he connected to the fans, literally by stretching his mic stand to the front row across the photo pit, and later making his way (twice) to roll across the top of old and new school fans.
After a great set, I headed for my second most anticipated (funny how the acts were back to back) set of the day: The Vandals. Hitler Bad, Vandals Good is still one of my favorite records of all time, and I haven't seen The Vandals play since I was 16. What an amazing set list! Every song I wanted to hear, and when I thought guitarist Warren Fitzgerald was going to end the set with "I Have a Date," he sang out an hilarious version of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" which left me laughing so hard it had me feeling youthful once again.
There's been eight or nine other times where I was supposed to witness GWAR. For one reason or another, I did not make it to the set. I was not missing this one. I want to say one thing about GWAR and their shenanigans though. It is a violently, masochistic display of brutality that sets back the progress of America in every way and should not be seen by small children or those with easily week stomachs. Oh, wait. I totally forgot. They killed Sarah Palin halfway through their set. Nevermind my last statement - EVERYONE should witness a GWAR show. It's hilarious and doesn't even matter if you've never heard a single song by the band. It's not about that - this is about pure entertainment, and I left the set more than satisfied. Warning though: Do not get close for the set if you do not want your clothes ruined. Tons of kids were coming out of the pit in newly tie dyed shirts.
While Bad Religion was running a bit behind, I left to check out a few songs by MGMT, who sounded great, but who's live show was just a bit boring. After catching a handful of songs by Bad Religion, I jumped ship to Mohawk to catch Joan of Arc, who put on a great performance to end the day.
Fun Fun Fun Fest has shaped up to be another exciting weekend so far, and today I'm anticipating sets by Deerhunter, The Hold Steady, Snapcase, The Bronx and P.O.S. - among a few others. Oh, and there's this punk bands someone told me to check out called the Descendents. I guess I'll give them a shot. Why not?
Though I have had the honor to cover the likes of South by Southwest, Warped Tour and Austin City Limits this year, there has been no festival more anticipated by yours truly than this year's Fun Fun Fun Fest. Last year I was graciously accepted to cover the two day festival in downtown Austin, and was invited to come back this year.
This year's line-up is incredible. (Seriously, I don't understand the people bitching amongst the social webs this year.) Besides great acts like The Hold Steady, The Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter, Man Man, GWAR, Devin the Dude, P.O.S. and Slick Rick performing The Adventures of Slick Rick..., there are reunion sets by Cap N Jazz, Snapcase, Suicidal Tendencies - and as of last week - Devo has been replaced by the Descendents. It is their first U.S. show in some time.
This year, Transmission Entertainment decided to extend the festival by a day - well, an evening if you will. Friday held a little "kick-off" party featuring a pretty "fun" time. Why wouldn't it have been? It was only headlined by Weird Al Yankovic! You can sit there and talk all these reunions, but Friday night's headliner was truly a nostalgic flashback to simpler times.
Kicking things off was a local Queen cover band, Magnifico. A solid performance of songs (of course ending in "Bohemian Rhapsody"), the banter between the set list was quite hilarious, and proved to be a much entertaining way to officially kick off the weekend.
Still checking out the grounds, I headed back to catch the very end of Todd Barry's stand-up set. His dry humor brought even more laughs before The Apples in Stereo's pop-tinged set. Sonically crisp, the band put on a solid set. A bit before the end of the set, I headed to see what exactly the Arc Attack: Tesla Coil Live Show was about. Ends up, it was a live jam session that fed through a giant tesla coil. Pretty cool idea, but I was also a bit bored after one song of the one trick pony.
Chris Hardwick was a perfect opener for Weird Al, as his set was absolutely hilarious and put not only me, but the whole crowd in a happy mood before ol' Al took the stage. When he finally did, it was a rush of comedy and throwback to the days of my Weird Al cassette tapes and UHF. The set was filled with costume changes, stellar comedic performances and great videos between said costume changes. In fact, the best part about the videos were the clips of Weird Al being referenced in the media and in other television shows and movies - sometimes in a positive light and sometimes in a negative, but all lighthearted and fun. After a two hour set, I couldn't have felt more alive and ready for this weekend's festival.
This year I took on less interviews to take on more coverage...but I got to get going and prepare for my interview today with some band called Shmap'n Shmazz? I heard they're influential or something...
I'm pretty removed from pop-punk (as it is deemed at the moment for any arguments aboud) since I left high school. Maybe it was the watered down versions of the new millennium or my enthralled college angst of hardcore in 2004 til bust that lured my away. Then something happened. On one of their final tours in support of Direction, I got to finally see The Starting Line in Baton Rouge. It was amazing. The night's opening act: Four Year Strong. A great, energetic set to set the tone of the evening, and one not soon forgotten as Dan O' Connor and I had a bit of a talk backstage about a resurgence I believe neither of us knew we were foreshadowing.
What's different about this new wave of punk? Well, to my ears, it sits somewhere between Revelation Records' breakdowns and Lookout! Records' choruses. While All Time Low may seem like the baby darlings of the scene - tangible to the likes of both Hanna Montana fans and Fall Out Boy ones alike, bands such as Big Kids, Man Overboard and The Swellers are certainly bringing back some pop in the punk.
What all these bands have are "tour their asses off" punk rock backgrounds. So don't expect any Disney Channel shite from this tour.
Local favorites, and one of my Absolute 100 choices, Zlam Dunk started the night to a building crowd with their blend of "funcore" or personal mix of dance and hardcore, showcasing some new tracks off their upcoming debut full length. After a small run opening some shows for Fang Island earlier this year, the band isn't one to be missed. I See Stars, I would like you to see what you're doing all wrong. This is the proper homogenization of the genre you're trying to accomplish.
Unfortunately I missed American Fangs, because I was heading up the street to catch Tim Kasher's set as he was opening for Minus the Bear. My expectations for Kasher's solo were minimal, because I didn't know how he was going to differentiate something unique from that of Cursive of The Good Life - but he didn't disappoint, and his 45 minute set was captivating and as honest as anything Kasher has done. Covers from David Bowie and Cursive also helped the set stay even fresher and surprising.
I made it back in time to Emo's for The Wonder Years' set of intensity. While I expected just a normal, fist pumping punk rock show, the kids went absolutely nuts for the band's set - and why not? Don't let the elder 24 year old punk rocker sipping water in the back stop you. He's just reminiscing about the days of the pit and getting walloped a couple times during his experiences of The Vandals and Less Than Jake in his younger years. I have to say, Soupy is a commanding frontman, and I think one of, if not the, commanding elements of the band.
Four Year Strong took the stage to an already pumped crowd, and like that of the last band, one breakdown in, and kids were already getting thrown out for crowd surfing. It's kind of insane to see a band grow from the opening slot I once witnessed, but it's well deserved, as they stood tall (literally) on the stage amongst the room. Four Year Strong don't deserve the position they're in amongst this "revival" because of their status as one of the few on a major label, but they earned their position through their constant touring and showmanship. No one made it to the front of the pack without making a statement, and more importantly, no one ever held that front without taking along a few friends with them.
The Tonight We Feel Alive Tour is that statement. Much like the Ska is Dead tours and the show the other night, punk rock is about community - and no organization or embodied statement ever lasted without the support of a particular community of ideas that stood tall against any opposition. Four Year Strong said it best in "Maniac": "So let me tell you it's cold out there at the top of the world / Here at the top of the world / That the good die young / There's little time left to prove them wrong." Well, I have some advice for you guys: With what little time you've risen to the top, you and all your friends proved a lot of people wrong - including a cynical old pop-punk rocker who thought that scene was long dead and buried.
Honestly, there are very few times that I have walked away from a show inspired. There are few times when I am completely awed by the performances of the night, where, I felt chills down the back of my spine and an overall numbing effect to what I was witnessing. Going into the night, on the expectation of seeing one of the best post-hardcore bands of the past decade (one that's been around longer than that), the bar was set high and completely met at the end of the night.
For those of you who do not know who Envy is (besides the other side of a split with Thursday), they are one of the most influential hardcore/screamo/post-hardcore bands from the East. Hailing from Japan and only matched in greatness to that of the likes of Mono, the band has constantly pushed their hardcore roots into a more post-rock vibe over the last few years. Along with La Quiete and Diatro, they're one of the bands form overseas that you should be aware of.
After four years of not releasing a full length and touring the United States, the band just went on a run with Ireland's And So I Watched You From Afar and our country's best hardcore acts: Trash Talk, La Dispute and Touche Amore.
While Trash Talk was not part of this run, the rest of the leg for the night was absolutely flawless. Ireland's And So I Watched You From Afar was heavy and powerful. A great opener to wake up anyone in the crowd. It would seem tough to tour the States for the first time and have to open the night on a bill like this every night, but the band absolutely held a solid opening slot.
Within the first song, kids were climbing the stage for Touche Amore's set. Passionate and commanding, the band's half hour was crammed with crowd chants and plenty of stage diving. The band's new songs off of their splits with Make Do and Mend and tourmates La Dispute were even more engaging live - and of course Jordan from La Dispute joined the stage and vice versa.
There isn't much more praise that I can give La Dispute that I already haven't given at this point. Along with Touche and Trash Talk and Native, they are part of the bands that were necessary to get kids excited about creative hardcore again. Besides hearing their new material off their latest split, the band has been closing their set with the thirteen minute "The Last Lost Continent" - something I'd been asking the guys to play every time they're in town - and it came off remarkably.
Every band on this tour were just as in awe to be touring with Envy on their first headlining North American tour as I was in awe of being able to see the band play an intimate sold out show. I've always said Envy is like the Thursday of Japan, but for the amount of releases and the time the band has been around, they're even more comparable to that of Converge. As far as the show goes, it's just as passionate. A completely even mix of songs from not only their new album, but also from 2001's All the Footprints You've Ever Left And Fear Expecting Ahead and my personal favorite, 2003's A Dead Sinking Story. Sure, none of us could understand the words, but it goes back to discussions of breaking past that and capturing an audience's mood and aura that is the experience of Envy. It's beautiful and crushing in every sense. Through all of it is a small lantern of hope as you walk away from the hour and a half set to close the night.
Hands down, this is one of the best tours to have come through the U.S. this year. Not only did attendees get to see the new class of hardcore and true "screamo" in the sense of Orchid or Funeral Diner or Portraits of Past, but they got to see a legend from the East absolutely blow an audience away in an intimate club setting we don't normally experience as much these days.
What a beautiful weekend for some great music, and while I kept hearing about some disappointing sets (ahem...M.I.A.), except for maybe one or two, I was generally happy with who I caught at this year's Austin City Limits. From the jams on Friday to the all out party on Saturday, Sunday rolled in a little more relaxed - that's not to say it didn't rocked though.
I started my day with one of my Absolute 100 choices, Warpaint. I just received their new album, The Fool, this week. While I'm enjoying its haunting jam, the band just bring it so much more live. Even in the wake of the high noon sun, the sound was possibly even more radiant.
For some of you who gripe about how we aren't punk enough, how many of you aren't listening to Ted Leo and the Pharmacists? Now, reevaluate yourself. I saw Ted Leo in a club some years back, and even with a sore throat and cold, he brought it. He also brought it with a solid set and witty banter, showcasing a few old favorites and solid tracks off this year's The Brutalist Bricks.
Now, I'm the first person to call bullshit on hype. While Foals would be one of those bands that are in my target range, the England boys were the surprise of the day. They were lush and bold in timbre. A solid band who are pulling at their English post-punk roots in the vein of New Order and/or Depeche Mode. Kudos boys.
I'm quite excited to see Portugal. The Man get to their current point of success. Seeing them on a main stage is pretty exciting, but hesitant, especially since any past experiences with the band have been in closed, intimate club settings. Big stage or standing room only, the band still blows out an engaging set that interweaves songs across the band's catalog and is lathered with jam session after jam session. Bands like Portugal. The Man, RX Bandits and to a newer favorite, Tera Melos, give so much hope to music and the idea of the performance as opposed to a staged performance.
I headed to check out GAYNGS, but to unfortunate news that day, the band had their van and gear stolen from their aftershow the night before - the assumption is it was their bus driver.
I headed to grab some food and a few drinks and meet up with some friends before The Flaming Lips. I ran into Zac Corothers from Portugal. The Man, and he told me the new album would be done before the end of the year, and are hoping for a March release date. What to expect? According to Zac, a few strange things on the keys Ryan Neighbors has been working on and definitely some ideas between Censored Colors and The Satanic Satanist. So, this guy's excited.
I caught the end of Yeasayers jamming set, and when the crowd dispersed, I streamlined to the front to wait an hour for The Flaming Lips. Much respect to the band for coming out and sound checking their own equipment. Also, Wayne Coyne ended up coming out to politely warn the crowd that he was coming out into the crowd in a bubble, and to make sure no one would push and shove, because he was going to do his best to make his way to everyone.
The Flaming Lips did not disappoint. Though their set was mostly new material, jams like "She Don't Use Jelly" and the closing and beautiful "Do You Realize?" against the sunset closed the weekend wonderfully. Yes, I wish the set was a bit longer. Yes, I wish they played at 8 p.m. when the sun was blocked out and all you would see where the lights radiating from the stage. But alas, I still witnessed a great set by a great band.
That was my weekend. I didn't catch the National - though I heard half their set waiting for the shuttle back downtown - and The Eagles are in my top five least favorite classic rock bands. No, ending on "Do You Realize?" and covered in confetti was just fine with me and my first experience at Austin City Limits. It was an experience riddled with surprising sets and overwhelmingly wonderful (though a bit sweltering) weather. Like most festivals, the social aspect of meeting fellow media colleagues and going on about music is always an added bonus.
Thank you ACL for a great weekend...but it's time to get back to the grind and judgmental work that is my freelancing. Maybe I'll head back to Zilker in the next few weeks and work from my computer, just to keep the memory alive for a bit more.
It was pretty impossible not to have fun Saturday. Honestly, if you entered or left Zilker Park in the duration of the bands yesterday without gaining or leaving with a smile and putting your hands in the air at least once (or even participating in a group clapping), then the terrorist won.
After throwing together my review for Friday, I headed out to the grounds to float and see who I could catch. My first anticipated band of the day wasn't until later in the afternoon, so I decided to just go out and find some great new music.
The weather being slightly cooler than the day before, I headed to check out First Aid Kit. A great set, and a calming before the riot fest of fun that would later ensue. For singer-songwriter fans, definitely worth checking out. Leaving First Aid Kit, I headed across the park to catch what was up with The Very Best. What was up? A full blown party! There were hands in the air, screams and no still bodies under the afternoon sun.
I stopped by Bear in Heaven's set for a bit, while enticing on the ears, began to become bland after a while, so I decided on lunch instead, and upon my return to the press tent, ran into Chris, Robert and Andy of Manchester Orchestra. Their new album is almost done, but the focus right now is on Bad Books. When asked how gritty the new record would be, I was informed that the new song the band has been playing live is a perfect medium. In one direction, there will be nastier tracks and in the other, more harmonious.
For my first anticipated set of the day, I caught The Gaslight Anthem, who, even on a big stage, still produced a blazing set mixed with 59' Sound hits and American Slang swagger. How to top that? Head to Manchester Orchestra of course! A band that gets dirtier every time I see them. This set wasn't much different. As sun was pretty blistering at this point, the guitars were a nice complement to the heat and Andy Hull sounded absolutely deafening as there's a Cobain comparison yet again. Silversun Pickups were playing the last gig in support of Swoon, but the set was a pretty even mixed (a bit more packaged towards their latest), ending the set with both hits, "Panic Switch" and "Lazy Eye." The band sounded bold, and the crowd was quite into it.
Dinner time. A few drinks. The party continued...
I haven't seen a set like Gogol Bordello's since Flogging Molly. Engaging. Absolutely engaging to the core. It was the perfect and amped performance of the day that ran thick from the stage all the way into the crowd. Easily one of the best shows of the weekend, and complimented the next "set" of fun.
My experience with Matt and Kim has always been in a small club in Baton Rouge. The crowd and performers were equally compact, and there was a bit of skepticism that ran through me to see them at Austin City Limits. How would this play out on a festival stage with a few feet of separation from the crowd? Surprisingly, very well. That's all in thanks to Matt and Kim themselves. Kim jumped in the crowd to "booty shake" on top of attendees' hands holding her up. The band handed out balloons to blow up and release during a song. Oh, and then there was the covers that performed throughout the set. While they ended the set 10 minutes early, they came down to thank the crowd and blasted some Jay-Z that still had their fans (and probably new ones) dancing. Heading to Muse, I caught the insanity of Deadmau5, whose light show and stage set up was absolutely insane.
If you read any of my work, you know my hatred of Clear Channel and lack of appreciation from the general public for good music. (I know! Subjective, subjective.) Thank god, there's a band like Muse, who are deserving of their mass success. Sure, it seems like every song sounds epic, and their last album wasn't as good as the rest of the catalog, but their set was no joke. Lit up pianos, keytar, and an enormous sound heard all the way from outside the park - it was quite a way to end the day.
After the full rager day, I headed to the Rock the Vote party to catch a DJ set by Matt and Kim and a set by Local Natives, who I missed earlier in the day. Matt and Kim's DJ set had the guest bouncing - the DJs themselves even getting down - and at one point, I thought the top floor we were on was going to collapse. Two Door Cinema Club kept the party going with their set, but it was definitely Local Natives that took the show with their full, lush sound. Gorilla Manor is a great record, but it really blooms and resonates so much better live. I'm glad I missed them earlier today and caught a more intimate show here.
What a beautiful bounty of weather we've been having in Austin lately. Are you jealous? Well, dammit, you better be. So what better way to ring in the amazing autumn coat than with Austin's biggest festival draw - Austin City Limits. (And yes, I know what South by Southwest is...)
This year, the festival sold out months in advance with headliners Phish, The Strokes, M.I.A., Muse and The Eagles. But the biggest draw of the kick-off to the weekend would come midday.
Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. After getting myself settled (read: downloading the new Matt and Kim in preparation for today's set and aftershow), I headed to see Givers - a home state favorite and one of my picks for this year's Absolute 100. What a dazzling set to kick the weekend off. The bright timbre and jazz of the hour was a great compliment to the even brighter, cloudless sky.
After grabbing some lunch, I headed to check out The Mountain Goats. Curious to see a festival setting of a band whose lyrics and storytelling are heavier than their music, they put on a great set fit for some relaxation on Zilker Park's grassy knoll.
While I don't believe in the massive hype of Girls' last album (a record that was just good guys, not the next best thing), I wanted to check out how it played out live. While it was another lawn-lounging set, it was a bit flat and uninspiring. Halfway through the set, I found myself more in conversation with my out-of-town friends with Girls' set playing background. For the last ten minutes, on Eda's recommendation, I headed to check out Angus and Julia Stone. Their set was absolutely harmonious. Kudos to the two for taking on multiple instruments and radiating perfect vocal counterpoint between the each sibling.
I decided to try and check out the end of Miike Snow's set...and that's where the sidewalk ended, and the massive midday crowd began. Crossing the park, there was something of a herd of people; a plethora of attendees; a damn football field of Black Keys fans waiting to catch the band's set. Easily (maybe even a bit more than Phish) the biggest crowd all day. Yours truly had a horrible spot. Even where I was standing, the band played out a driving hour set. It literally sounds like Dan Auerbach threw his amp down a flight of stairs to produce the nastiest tones possible. Easily one of the best sets of the day - to those with a good view/close ear.
Towards the end of The Black Keys set, I headed to snag a good spot for Beach House. Last year, I saw the band open for Grizzly Bear's ACL aftershow, and I was skeptical about how the band's rich tones would play out on the big stage. Upon the first keys played against Victoria Legrand's voice, my skepticism was quickly washed away in the lush sound from the stage. (writer's note: Beach House is not emo.)
I used to "like" Spoon. Then I enjoyed Spoon immensely. Now I am absolutely in love with the band's R&B blend of traditional pop-rock. The last time I saw Spoon was on the main stage of Voodoo Music Fest in 2007, and while a solid set to my ears, there wasn't much movement on the eyes, as the band stood cramped in the middle of the stage. Their performance this evening was far from staunch, and was as loose as the jams coming from the stage. By the way, I'm pretty sure Rob Pope is still using the same bass he used in The Get Up Kids. Talk about keeping it nostalgic.
The most anticipated set of the day for me (nope, not Phish) was Sonic Youth. While the set started pretty straight forward (Why the hell is Kim Gordan not playing bass?), the band began to unwind as the Sun began to settle behind them and the stage lights matched the craze of the eventual set. (Yes, Kim did pick up her signature bass [skills] later. It would have made Mark Hoppus blush.) Easily the best set of the day. To see Sonic Youth still put on a blistering set was spiritual in the vein of seeing The Pixies last month.
To end my evening, I had a bit of a Gonzo journalism moment to go see Phish. Sifting through the crowd, I ended up running into some Arkansas fans (one of which was missing two front teeth) and ended up being fed booze for about an hour as I was also given glow sticks and began rocking out to the smooth guitar licks and cover of the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey. For an hour in a half, amongst these partied out college kids, elder couples and dozens upon dozens of glow sticks, I could feel the chill of Thompson down my back.
(writer's note: I was not granted photo access. I will be doing photos from the crowd.)
I've certainly have ran my mouth about longevity both in my show reviews, interviews and babbling blog - or hid behind a computer with a stern mix of smugness and hint of elitism - whatever gets you to sleep at night, right?
I've been able to catch quite a few big acts in my day. Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M. and the "holy crap, I'm not going to make it out of this show alive" set by Rage Against the Machine. While all of those bands have left their mark on our young minds, past generations and future ones yet to discover, I was once again thrilled with the Pixies show tonight.
The Pixies are out performing Doolittle, their 1989 landmark album and follow-up to the buzz that already surrounded their debut full length Surfer Rosa. Where Surfer Rosa was a bit rough around the edges, Doolittle was sharp and as well executed as the decade of "post-" thought in bands such as Gang of Four and Talking Heads. The Pixies certainly didn't sound like they were concerned more about the numbers - it was about the tone. The creation of tension. The quick rises and the sudden drops. The band's sound was about the aura and uneasy feeling tacked onto the ride and experience for the listener. Unlike Fugazi and Sonic Youth - two bands I see focusing on similar elements and writing equally as influential records for the time - the Pixies were more about an anti-pop edge. How attractive could I make this blade, so that I know you'll cut your finger on it and possibly gain pleasure from its slice.
With the performance of Doolittle came a welcomed opening surprise of b-sides from the single "Monkey Gone to Heaven," including "Dance the Manta Ray," "Manta Ray" and "Weird at My School." If that wasn't enough for die hard fans of the band and album, "Debaser" kicked off the anticipated meat of the set, sounding sharp and contemporary, as the band still maintains the snarling punk rock ethos and heightened feel that they are best known for. One of the things about seeing Doolittle performed live is certainly the difference in execution. This is not a jab on the album's production, but to feel even more uncomfortable during "I Bleed" and getting lost in "Silver" as it clunks along are only minor highlights of the experience. On the first guitar licks of "Here Comes Your Man," the crowd went as wild as their shouting match with Black Francis during "Monkey Gone to Heaven," erupting in "FIVE....SIX....SEVEN. SEVEN. SEVEN..." during the songs psychotic belting bridge. After the beautifully creepy closing "Gouge Away," the band took almost five minutes criss-crossing the stage in smiles, waving at the crowd's ovation.
Would that be it? Are you kidding me?
The band came back to perform the "Here Comes Your Man" b-sides "Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf Version)" and "Into the White." During "Into the White," the entire stage filled with white smoke, and Kim Deal's voice sounded angelic and apocalyptic all at once. As the smoke cleared, the band disappeared into the night. The crowd still wanted more. As all the lights came down off the stage once more, the house lights and stage lights came up at once - usually the sign of "go the fuck home, it's over," but no, they returned again. As all the lights stayed up in the venue, the band kicked out four fan favorites for a second encore, including the crowd erupting "Where is My Mind" and one hell of a grandeur wall of a closer, "Gigantic."
As Fuck Buttons set the tone with their opening, hour long, darkened set of atmospheric digital manipulation, it was quite a night. As I was looking around at the diverse age demographic the room held last night, it was reassuring to know the chart the Pixies laid out is acknowledged by the young who are discovering and still acknowledged by the generations that grew up to the sound. While those blueprints are seen across the musical board and with contemporary bands every day, it looks like the innovators of mood swing filled anti-pop can still kick out the jams.
It seems like our parents' vinyl catalog is making a comeback. Not only in the used-new vinyl arrival shelves, but as a focal point to a lot of bands trying to recapture the heart of rock and roll. So far no one has topped The News with their channeling of the past, but I still feel confident that one of these bands is putting Sports and Fore! on repeat somewhere.
Along with AM Taxi and The Gaslight Anthem covering Jersey's best workaholic Springsteen rock, we go back with Doc to 1986, and Steel Train's new self-titled album is the soundtrack that the late-great John Hughes never got a hold of for one of his films. It's drenched in pop from an era we tend to shun for its new wave excellence and super catchy choruses.
It's okay. We all love the '80s. Don't deny it.
So how does Steel Train's live show hold up? Pretty damn good. Opening for the tour was a spirited newcomer and veteran and long time friend of the band.
Young the Giant is certainly a band to watch in the coming year. With their debut album slated for an October release, they take the stage with quite a show of New York rock and sonic landscapes worthy of their opening slot earlier this year with Minus the Bear. There's feeling of spiritual exoneration expressed in the band's life show. Here's hoping it pulls off the same on record.
Do we really need to go into my love and respect for Matt Embree? The man continues to create music well above the bar and held onto by a dedicated core of fans. Embree took to the stage with songs (even a new one) from his Love You Moon solo project. He even did an impromptu, freestyle reggae medley just for the Austin crowd who were keeping beat along with their hands. Ladies and gentleman, a true talent of an opener.
Laced with his throwback vintage Fender, Jack Antonoff belted out the "Bullet" as an opener laced in ColecoVision and the "new" Coke. The rest of the band is on key, working as one big harmony that just saturates the room. Evan Winiker's bass is full and the keys from Justin Huey only add as another line of melody to the already bright set. The band thanked the crowd with "Road Song," and we were all a bit reminded that supporting hard working music is a necessity. We need to nurture some bands and let them grow, instead of asking for the same KFC bowls of mess.
God bless American mediocrity.
Along with the night's cover of "Dancing in the Dark," Steel Train brought us back to a time of pop-laden innocents and scruffies. There was no fear of emanate doom on all cylinders of the future world. There was only the few of us playing Atari and waiting for the next Molly Ringwald flick.
Those were the days. I'm going to watch Ghostbusters on AMC now.
Longevity. Some have it, and others don't. For Thrice, they certainly have proven the word with their career and progressive releases throughout the years. Along with bands like Thursday and Poison the Well and Saves the Day, these groups of musicians started a decade (or more) ago and moved forward gracefully conjuring up new soundscapes and testing fans along the way. Unfortunately at times - losing some.
After quite a long year for the members of Thrice, each experiencing family tragedies back home that forced the band to cancel quite a few dates, the band are back out on a headliner backed by Kevin Devine and his Goddamn Band and upstarts Bad Veins and The Dig.
The show last night proved to be one of the best bills of the summer thus far.
The Dig opened the night in sonic landscapes filled with "oh's" and "ah's" and hitting beats and harmonies showcasing songs off their debut full length Electric Toys. The band is certainly a fresh look at some upstate rock in the vein of the new millennium "the" bands. But instead of being drugged out and flat, there's a loving flow to The Dig's music. This is a highly recommended new artist.
Bad Veins took the stage to audience curiosity as frontman Benjamin Davis' mic set-up included a telephone more suited for your grandmother's house and a large ADAT tape machine running background. All in all, the band's set was quite solid for two guys belting out some great numbers. Maybe not my thing, but definitely worth giving an ear to.
Kevin Devine took the stage next with his Goddamn Band. As always, the musician was spot on. There's not enough kind words I can say about Devine without sounding like a) a superfan or b) a suck up, but the man has worked his ass off not only as a touring artist, but has come to write some of his best work to date, including his new song "She Stayed as Steam." It's always a delight to see "Carnival" and "Brother's Blood" played live. Teppei Teranishi even came out to help out on that final one.
The crowd finally filled out just before Thrice took the stage, and as they opened the set with "All the World is Mad" and "The Weight," fist pumped to every word and a punk rock sing-a-long abounded in the sweltering Texas heat. The set was pretty even with tracks from Beggars ("Doublespeak," "In Exile"), Vheissu ("The Earth Will Shake" "Red Sky"), The Artist and the Ambulance ("Silhouette" "The Artist and the Ambulance") and even The Alchemy Index EP's. It was the night's closer of The Illusion of Safety's "To Awake and Avenge the Dead" that threw the crowd in a frenzy, and as a friend took Dustin Kensrue's guitar, he took to the crowd with a mic for the last words and a unison of fans and uproar of "TO. AWAKE. AND. AVENGE THE DEAD!" closing the set. As an encore, the band came back to close out the night with "Beggars," possibly one of the best songs the band has written to date.
I was able to finally sit down with Dustin and Ed Breckenridge to talk about The Illusion of Safety for the book I'm working on, and there's definitely one thing that makes sense of the band's catalog now: it's always been about trying to cram in all of the band's influences both as a whole and individually. For Thrice, it has always worked whether you liked it, left it, or have - to this day - stuck by it. With so many bands producing so much of the same cookie cutter garbage and succeeding, it's nice to see when hard work and creative thought win out in the end.
I'll be 24 in a month. It's an age that's a middle ground for Warped Tour with both attendees and performers. Honestly, the last Warped Tour I attended was in 2002. Boy, was it a portrait of my youth. One giant bill filled just about every CD in my collection. (That's right kids, those shiny plastic things that were played on ancient brick machines with giant headphones.)
This year (and the line-ups for the past few years) make me feel old and out of the loop. Catching some glimpses of some artists' (can we call them that?) sets was bewildering enough, but it was the young crowd's reaction - bright neon and high pitch screams fit for teeny-bopper showcases - that made me want to raise my cane and scream "Get off my lawn!"
One of the things that has always attracted me to punk - or whatever the thing is - is its ability to be creative and off the track. It's not the sound, it's the substance and the passion. There's a performance fit for a stage and then there's a staged performance. It's cookie cutter, predictable, and as an avid music fan constantly looking for a fix, not worth the time and space when so many others are having to claw at it with music of greater value.
How much of an elitist prick do I sound like at this point?
It just boggles my mind. Then again, I was young once. Like generations before me who shunned the "next" thing that was "ripping off the old thing," I guess I'm that bitter old fan at this point in my life. So to cut this rant short and get on to the day, I'll end on this: Whether you're a music listener or a creator, just don't be in it for a market. Be in it for the music and your love and true devotion for it. We already have a major label industry we've all had enough of that's a process of American mediocrity. We don't want to instill that on the next generation.
So, how was the day?
Well, the rain held up (for the most part) and starting off the day was Every Time I Die who just came out blazing and heavy. It was the pregame everyone needed for the day. As the band launched into "Ebolarama," the crowd went absolutely insane. "Bored Stiff" opened up the biggest circle pit I had seen all day. During "Floater," Keith Buckley asked the crowd to (which they did) perform the "crawl of death."
Missing Motion City Soundtrack for my interview with Andrew WK, I could hear Ace Enders belting out a great set for I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business outside the press area. Talk about a guy's voice that carries. Pretty bummed I missed the gig, but glad I got to hear most it. Word is he ended with "Ever So Sweet," so another reason to catch Enders out there this summer.
I was able to catch a bit of Face to Face's set before my interview with Alkaline Trio, and they were spot on. After my interview with Matt Skiba, I walked around the booths. A lot of organizations out there this year, including Keep a Breast, Take Action, To Write Love on Her Arms, Truth and Shirts For a Cure.
Truth has a full ride set up including games and giveaways happening all day. I was able to speak with Jason over at To Write Love on Her Arms. He says the response this year has been great. He's also informed me of a new program the organization is working on called I'm Alive. The program will set-up online relay networks (much like the 1-800-Suicide Hotline). The organization is still in the process of working out funding for the program to train their relay workers and get things off the ground.
Shirts For a Cure was selling a swank new tee (which I picked up) in regards to the BP crisis in the gulf. Four Year Strong was selling a similar one. The best shirt of the tour goes to Top Shelf Records though, with the tag line "Stop Listening to Awful Fucking Music," being a big seller for the tour so far. The record company was teamed with No Sleep Records for a tent this year. Go by and check out some great music from both labels.
After a walk around the tents, I ended up at the Kevin Says stage where The Mighty Regis was playing a set Ireland would be proud of. Absolutely fun, and for the 100 or so people that were there, they were all having a blast. Definitely the "stumble upon" winner of this year's visit.
Whether you think Andrew WK's music is best spread upon crackers with a glass of wine, there's no denying the energy and positivity the man brings to the table. In an interesting interview, it seems like Andrew WK is the definition of the reverse mullet. He's a smart businessman who puts his music and fans first. Everyday he opens the "Party Tent" to hours of signings and photos to his fans. His music is infectiously outgoing, and when the set ended with "Party Hard," the crowd went absolutely ape shit with a positive rage. Great set. Great guy. Good times.
I split sets with Alkaline Trio and Set Your Goals. Both artists put on great shows. While Alkaline's soaked up the newly arrived sun with a punk ease, Set Your Goals got the younger crowd going, even pulling out one from their old EP. Unfortunately I missed Four Year Strong right after to catch Dillinger Escape Plan (sorry Dan). Be sure to support both bands. They certainly give me hope in the pop punk genre and make me feel just a bit like it's 2002 all over again.
The Dillinger Escape Plan are crazy. Ben Weinman is fucking nuts. During the second song, he knocks over his amp. Drums are destroyed during the final moments, members climb to the pit, and through all the insanity, the band still tore it up. There's no gimmick, only a raw show. It's like watching The Descedants play the main stage around watered down pop punk, or Black Flag open for uninspired hardcore. It was eye opening to sit there and watch a veteran run circles around the young ones' choreographed sets.
After my interview with Keith Buckley following Dillinger Escape Plan's set, something fierce finally fell from the sky. Kids scrambled. Pressed scrambled. We waited. It let up. We moved on. I caught a bit of VersaEmerge's set. The band really isn't my thing, but front(wo)man Sierra Kusterbeck's pipes are excellent and the band is tight. VersaEmerge is something worth giving a chance after sifting through the rest of the muck.
Dear Tyson Ritter: You are either a brilliant frontman or absolutely insane. This is all that was going through my head during The All American Rejects' set. The songs were spot on, but it was Ritter's showmanship that took the set to a whole other level. What level that is - whether it was taunting a girl who eventually flashed him or heckling the crowd for more energy - I still haven't the slightest clue as to what the hell was coming off that stage.
After catching half of that spectacle, I decided to end my day with Sum 41. People were coming in droves to catch these guys. We all wanted a bit of that tasty nostalgia on our tongues and in our ears. The band did a pretty good job of bringing me back full circle to 2001 - the first time I saw them and my first Warped Tour. The crowd was "pogo-ing" and "fist pumping" with the back catalog hits, one after the other.
I then ended my day. I snagged some Taco Cabana in honor of the 4th and headed back to my little hipster home of Austin with a lot of thoughts running through my head. Maybe it was the literal cloud that hung over said head all weekend, or maybe it's that bitter taste in my mouth to see bands that have carried depth for years struggle with the new class of uninspiring, salted processed meat.
For all the negativity I have brought to the table in this review, Warped Tour is still about the positive things: music, a day off and great causes. I'm not here to put the blame on Warped Tour for bringing on who they bring on. If you look back to the '90s, some of those bands who came to the summer camp were crap as well. The crap will always exist, and in our lowbrow ways, many of us will stick out our tongues for a taste of the lackluster meal. Just like the dollar menu, these things are only a quick fix. Eventually some of us will bite into something that transcends what we constantly intake. When that happens, maybe you'll understand my point.
Until then, the most punk rock thing to do here is listen to what you want. Who am I to say, I'm just the old fucker with a cane and an older generation iPod. "Nice flat cover art grandpa. What is that, a 30GB? Where's your touch screen? What the fuck is a CD again?"
Every Time I Die
Circle Pit during "Bored Stiff"
The Mighty Regis
Set Your Goals
Dillinger Escape Plan
On the back of Every Time I Die's Andy Williams
Tents and Good Causes
To wake the crowd up, I got them to scream "Fuck AP.net" HA!
Last night I came home to ramble (see previous entry). It's something that's been dwelling on my mind for the past few months. It's something I've been thinking about even before I signed on for this job title. It's something that has been eating at my back even more in the past few months. It's something that keeps coming up in off the record conversations and on the record interviews (even last night with Trash Talk).
What is punk? What does it mean anymore? Do we not see it because we're in the now and have no time to look back in retrospect?
Before I ramble on, last night's show set my mind steamrolling, so let's get to that, and maybe we can all have more of a conversation.
La Dispute took the stage first. In every 30 minute set I've seen of these guys, it brings me back a decade to small club shows, college house parties and and lack of visual stimulus. It's five guys playing with passion and creative songwriting. It's hard to say this as a writer, because I consider these guys friends now, but as a listener, they have my full attention.
Hearing Therefore I Am cover At the Drive In's "Arcarsenal" invoked a rage and a relief within me. In distaste, hearing anyone cover At the Drive In invokes an elitist nerve in the back of my skull like no other. There are certain bands (Refused, Botch, At the Drive In, etc.) that just should not be touched. (Sorry if you're reading this Brian.) At the same time, Therefore I Am's music is worthy of their idol worship. Equalvision made a great choice with this band, and they certainly played their heart out to a point where the crowd got more into it as the set went along. Rarely do you see a band move a crowd steadily upon impact.
What about if the plane hits the ground and causes complete chaos upon said impact though. That's what a Trash Talk show is like. I just remember grinning like an idiot and and thinking, "Wow. This is what it was like to be at a punk rock or hardcore show in the mid-80's." Between the visceral short spats of the band's older material, to the longer, creeping violence of their new material, Trash Talk is exactly what everyone has been talking about. Even in a conversation about the set I had with a friend, he had commented on how Lee McFag swung his hair like a young Henry Rollins. If you've been itching for a contemporary showcasing the elders, Trash Talk are the real thing.
My thoughts on Alexisonfire have changed over their career. First off, Dallas Green has one of the best set of melodic vocals out there. I think with his solo career as City and Colour, he's only gotten better in his carry with Alexisonfire. For the rest of the band, I think they've all grown out of a generic shell they once were and are writing songs now past their own contemporaries years later. It's funny, as I see backlash from older fans about the band's new material, I see a band that has grown into their own. While I caught the beginning and ending of the band's set due to my interview with Trash Talk, the band still put their all into it. On a lighter note, somewhere in the 40 minutes I was gone, George Pettit lost his shirt.
What the show did invoke more than the performance norm was conversation brought up amongst friends and band members alike during the night. The central focus seemed to be that of what was and wasn't "punk."
I've been thinking about this site lately as well. I've enjoyed the spectrum of coverage thus far, while at the same time, a part of me has been digging to find an identity like that of Pitchfork or Rolling Stone, but in the end would hope that our identity is in our name as a site. That AP.net can be a site where users and non-users can come to discover what is different from what they are getting bored or tired of. I think that's always been the grand scheme since the beginning, but I can see it as an opportunity even more now.
I'll make it less a secret by saying that the staff have been compiling some new picks for our new class of the Absolute Classics this year. I couldn't be more proud of the picks which are so far across the board both in time and genre. It seems like sometimes we get caught up in the sound of punk as opposed to the idea of punk. It's the idea that anyone has the ability to do anything. By doing so, the environment will react either positively or negatively depending on the action. A reaction is all that is needed in the adversity of the norm.
In the best conversation I had last night, one thing that was brought up is time. I can react on Trash Talk's show as being nostalgic of the videos I've seen of an 80's hardcore show because time has passed to make that comparison. I feel like only a decade of the majority of my involvement has passed within music on an engaging level. Who's to say that one band or one moment I overlooked will have a greater butterfly effect down the line? Who's to say that the most laughable thing will be the most punk thing to a future generation of kids? How many people, at the sight of seeing the Sex Pistols or witnessed Nirvana opening a small club with out of tuned guitars, thought it was something that wouldn't "last" or "make an impact?"
I'm still unsure what this whole "punk" thing is. I'm going to continue to study it. One thing I do latch onto after last night's show is this: Punk rock is more progressive than one, even myself, wants to acknowledge. There is nothing stagnant about it in any way, shape or form that we as listeners, critics and historians can pinpoint. It's an idea that is constantly evolving into new ideas. The one thing is, if you're going to keep up the idea and/or reinvent the wheel, just make sure there is passion behind it.
I believe that this tour will go under the radar for some to attend other less-passionate showcases of what's out there, but I say go, enjoy yourself for the night. In the end, this tour is a pretty damn good time. It got me thinking about a lot. That's as punk rock as I ever want to get - Socrates style motherfuckers!
When did rock and roll stop being rock and roll and start being a game of indie bullshit? Seriously. Do you think our parents ever cared whether their favorite bands were part of certain labels or evolved their sounds for the better or the worse. Sometimes I like to believe that I'm part of the minority of critiquing assholes, when I really should be playing air guitar in my boxers and a shirt in front of my mirror like the millions of others in the world.
Right guys? Am I right?
After witnessing Coheed and Cambria's headlining tour last night in Austin, I'm prone to believe that I have lost a bit of my innocence in just feeling the rock and not judging every little bit of progression, or lack thereof.
Opening the show were Torche. Loud. Abrasive. Definitely something to wake the audience from any sort of boredom of standing in line outside the venue for the past few hours. Only issue with the set was singer-guitarist Steve Brocks lack of vocals in the monitor. But in the end, the key element to Torche is less the words and more the rock.
Circa Survive hit the stage with a back line of mirrors. A novel idea, and one that worked well with the band's live show. It's a show that is more of an experience than ever now. Much of this is due to two things. The first is how the band are stretching out songs with intros and added lines. The second is frontman Anthony Green's stage presence and interaction with the crowd. "There is one dude in the back that is definitely not smiling. This song is for you brother," Green says with a smile on his face. At one point Green climbs across the stage pit and almost demands the audience to belt out one of the band's songs, microphone beating against his heart. No matter how you feel about the band's new album, they have certainly shifted themselves into artists that have completely submerged themselves in their music, and are intent on the audience feeling the same way.
I'm probably more guilty than anyone for turning my back on Coheed and Cambria. The Second Stage Turbine Blade is still one of my favorite albums of all time. I was a fan of the band's two follow-ups. My gripe was particularly with the band's last installment that felt less like an album that stood out like its predecessors. When it comes down to it, and especially with their latest, Year of the Black Rainbow, the band still know how to shred and write traditional rock songs in their own prog-rock right. Shred is what they did on stage. The night opened with "The Broken," as something was wrong with frontman Claudio Sanchez's guitar, throwing it to the ground, grabbing the mic and heading to the crowd. Pissed off for whatever technical reason, it seemed to fuel the set, and two songs in, made for a fire in "Everything Evil." As fist pumped in the air as the band closed their set with "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3," the band retreated before coming back to encore with "Far," "Welcome Home" and "21:13."
In the end, last night's show made me feel torn between my age. In one sense, I feel like the old, stubborn bastard of a writer and critic longing for the feelings of music I once had. I think those feelings stem from the grace of discovering these bands so many years ago as a new sound, a bright color to my audible timbre. I feel young though, because like many of my older fellow journalists, I'm just now feeling the blunt of how the bands I once looked at as a discovery, have grown into bigger acts. Maybe it's a loss of intimacy that is the bitter bug gnawing at my back.
In the end, this is all just great rock and roll. Let's just enjoy it while we have it, and stop complaining about what it once was and is now. In the end, if the music breeds a passion and an experience, then enjoy the show.
Last night was interesting. As I stood amongst a crowd that wasn't that different from another tour I attended earlier this year, I felt like I was staring into the once was the past's future. Does that make sense? Neither did Donnie Darko if you think about it, but it was like one of those wormhole moments. From the lack of tour buses, members doing their own merch and approachable behavior that so many of the artists had last night, it was very reminiscent of time when there were 200 person rooms as opposed to 800 person sold out shows.
Deas Veil took the stage first and put their all into all into a set packed with songs from their latest album, Birds and Cages, and held the crowd to something new. They seemed like the perfect fit for the tour's opener as well. As Copeland are moving through the out door, it looks as though the band has great potential to move in as Copeland fans' new favorite band.
Before the show, I had a chance to talk with Kenny Vasoli of Person L. Songwriting has begun for a new LP, but he and the band are in the process of working on an EP that seems very interesting. The idea is to go a bit lo-fi and use not only common objects to build instrumentally, but use lo-fi recording techniques as well. He hopes to have that EP out by the end of the year. The band took the stage, and Vasoli was beyond into it. Growth is a beautiful thing. As much as I stood there and went, "This is the same guy who wrote Say it Like You Mean It?" for Vasoli to move forward and have it work, it's almost like you have to grow with him.
Ace Enders took the stage with his sister on keys and started with two older I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business songs before moving into The World We Know tracks. In our interview, there seemed to be a bit more pressure revolved around the Million Different People project, and if The World We Know seems more fluid and natural to Enders fans, then there's a reason for its comfortable feel. I remember the constant spin of the self-titled in high school, and ending the night's set with "Whispering" was perfect and gave a nostalgic chill.
Copeland took the stage to a crowd wading in anticipation and reflection. For many of us, we think back to the first time we heard the opening piano on "Brightest" (which the band came back to encore with), or how each album wasn't what we wanted with more of the last, but still gave into how good they individually were in the end. As the crowd gave the echo of "suitcase" on "The Day I Lost My Voice," it was a ceremony for a fallen idol amongst artists and fans everywhere. Copeland will certainly end up as one of those influential bands with a catalog diversely talked about amongst fans with "favorites" and "personal attachments" to each song and album. As the band ended their encore with "You Have My Attention," it was a fitting ending, as I believe the band could feel the remorse in the room while the fans held onto one last moment in our nostalgic memories.
I don't mean to be a hype machine by any means, but when I'm passionate about something, there's usually an aura about it that puts me in said mood. It's a feeling I get from Portugal. The Man. It's a feeling that is only heightened every time I have seen them. This weekend, after seeing Manchester Orchestra's Spring tour and Glassjaw's blistering one off in Austin, there is room to say I was still riding a high going into two sold out nights of Portugal. The Man's show at The Parish in Austin.
The Dig opened up the night with low tone bass notes transferred to audience head bobs. The band is quite solid. There's definitely a New York feel to their composition, but it doesn't sound forced and is still built sharp. They have the ability to catch on, and it's hopeful with the release of their album Electric Toys at the end of April. Definitely a band to check out.
Next up was Port O' Brian. A lax groove hinged on a taste of folk and an aftertaste of rock. The duel vocals certainly add to the show as well. On the second night, the band handed out pots and pans for the audience to participate in rhythmic fun. The crowd held through the last tune as The Dig joined them on stage.
With the lights off, Portugal. The Man took the stage to a boisterous crowd (both nights). The first night seemed longer (by two songs), but it seemed like there was a bit of technical difficulty the second night. Beginning with "Stables and Chairs" into "And I," the band began both nights the same and in similar fashion to every show I've seen thus far. Sure, there are full songs, but seeing the band weave in and out of their songs is so much better and creates a feel live that is unmatched by any album. The band seemed so thankful for the attendance as they covered David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" into part of MGMT's "Weekend Wars." The band ended each night in two different encores and played through somewhat different sets - both of which were full of jams and sounded wonderful in The Parish's room.
The slow fan base build the band has received has certainly payed off. Patrons were looking for tickets outside, and unlike Dropkick Murphys and Glassjaw scalpers the nights before in the city, fans were holding tightly to their tickets. The attendees' pay off was well worth any scalping.
For me, well I'm a Michael Bolton fan. I celebrate the guys entire catalog.