Jersey City and All Points West

This past weekend we drove to Jersey again to see my sister and attend the first annual All Points West Music Festival. APW was supposed to be the northern US’s answer to Coachella and Bonnaroo. Plus, Radiohead was headlining and they weren’t playing too many other nothern U.S gigs, so we really wanted to go! We were also psyched that Grizzly Bear, CSS and Underworld were on the roster.

We drove down on Thursday evening and hung out with the sis, bro-in law and the nephews. They are getting cuter and more of a handful by the minute! We ate some yummy Indian food from a great place down the street from her.
Friday we got to the festival early…or at least we tried to. We took the train from the New Brunswick station, and then took 2 light rails to get to the festival. The festival website said there would be plenty of signs (there were none!), and that the light rails would take you DIRECTLY to the festival…well it didn’t. When we got to the park, it was literally over a mile to get to the festival. No exaggerating–it took us a 1/2 hour to walk there…in the heat…on the asphalt…with me and my big pregnant belly. No one else seemed too thrilled about having to walk, either. Bad form for APW.

When we got to the festival we discovered that the bands weren’t going to be staggered, thereby causing us to have to choose between one band vs. another instead of sneaking over to see bits and pieces of each. We were bummed! That kind of seemed like a rip off after we payed to see all of those bands.

You also weren’t allowed to bring in any outside food, an umbrella or a blanket. What kind of a festival is it if you can’t even sit on a blanket? what are you gonna do, smother someone with it? C’mon people…

they had a “beer garden” from which you could purchase crappy beer in a plastic cup for the “bargain” price of 10 dollars. Yes, that’s right, 10 bucks for warm, crappy beer! you could only drink it in a designanted area and you were only allowed 5 total drinks. With prices like that who could afford more? Not that I drank anything, but Chris had one…and that was enough for him.

Food selection was good-at least we were able to find a few good vegetarian things. We tried this interesting corn and mozzarella cake called a Repas, which was good, and we had veggie burritos and corn dogs. Food was overpriced but at festivals it always is.

The lack of any kind of shelter was concerning, as it poured several times throughout the day, intermixed with a scorching heat that made you feel like you were in a deep fryer (no shade or shelter plus 30,000 sweaty concert goers= purgatory!).

But enough bitching and moaning for a second. We’ll try to be positive for a minute and talk about the actual reason why we went…the music. Here’s a writeup of who we were able to catch:

First up was Pawn Shop Roses, a band that evoked a Black Crowes sound on a low-fi caliber. Not bad, not amazing either (1.5 stars). next up was Lowry, a band whose sound was so bad I can’t even guess what kind of image they were going after. Normally it would sound like a good idea to mix a violinist with a keyboard player and an electric guitar…but not if they were all playing out of harmony! Lowry…you kind of Blow-ry. (1/2 star).

Little Brother was playing next door at the Bullet Stage, playing hip-hop beats. The hip hop was too much like any other kind of hip-hop, not very unique, and way too many bitch-ho references to gain our interest. (1 star).

We were starting to get dissapointed in the lineup until The Duke Spirit came on and saved us from our ennui! Their sound evokes 60’s British rock with a female twist. The lead singer, Leila Moss, was sassy and sexy as all get out (think a young Debbie Harry with PJ Harvey’s wardrobe) and had unique, deep vocals. They had real stage presence, renewing our faith in the festival. (3 stars)

Next, we headed over to the main stage and grabbed a veggie burrito on the way–9 bucks but it tasted good. The Go! Team, an almost all-girl group dressed in 80’s garb, brought back the Bananarama revival. They looked like they were having a lot of fun but unfortunately the microphone volume wasn’t high enough, and we could barely hear them over the background noise. They do get some points for wardrobe selection though–high knee socks and all. (3 stars).

Despite the scorching heat by this time (at least the festival had the decency to have one “misting tent” to keep people cool), the festival was at an upswing. Michael Franti and Spearhead performed on the main stage, and their world/reggae mix is enough to get anyone moving. They have been festival performers for ages and it shows–these guys had it going on! (3.75 stars).

By the time Franti was wrapping up his set, it started to POUR. good thing we had our ponchos with us! Mates of State, however, were so cheerful that they made is forget all about the crappy weather. The duo from Connecticut have been performing on the indie scene for several years, are married and have 4 little daughters. The little girls were waiting at the side of the stage, and every once and a while they would pop out to wave at the crowds or dance along to their parents music, unbeknownst to their parents. They were very cute! Cheers to them for cheering us up and putting on a sweet, upbeat show (3.5-4 stars).

Forro in the Dark played next door, with an eclectic mix of Brazilian pop and African world jam beats. Fun, danceable stuff! (3.5 stars).

Since Duffy was too lazy to start on time (she gets a zero in our book for that), we headed over to the Queen of the Valley stage to await our beloved Grizzly Bear, whom, aside from Radiohead, we were most looking forward to.
They didn’t dissapoint as usual. Grizzly Bear is one of those rare bands that engages you from the first song to the last, and you are sad for the show to end instead of wearily wishing they’d stop already. They played a flawless set, complete with “Little Brother”, “The Knife”, and a couple of very cool new songs. Still wish they had played “Shift” and “Lullaby” but oh well, you can’t have it all…(4.5 stars)

CSS, those sassy Brazilians, were up next. The crowd went insane to their danceable beats and catchy/kitchsy song titles like “meeting Paris Hilton” and “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from above”. They threw balloons and confetti off the stage and were dressed in a wardrobe bizarre enough to make Bjork proud. A ton of fun!!! (3.5-4 stars)

The night was starting to come to a close, and folks crowded in for the big headliner-Radiohead.
Underworld kept the main stage going with techno that is any computer geek’s wet dream. They even had images from old games (like Asteroid) running on the video screens while they played. Chris, being an adorable computer geek, was in heaven! (4 stars).

By the time Radiohead was nearing their set, the crowd had grown to over 30,000 people strong. Radiohead made the 9 hour day of standing in the heat and rain and smelly crowds completely worth it. They put on a stunning 2 hour show, and came back for 2 encores.

The only unfortunate damper to the event was the incredibly loud and obnoxious drunken couple behind us. They came later in the day only for Radiohead, but were so drunk and loud that they weren’t even listening to the band and they would NOT shut up. At this point, we were so irritated because this is what we came all the way for to see, and I know most people felt the same way. Lots of eye rolling was pointed in their general direction. I finally had it, when I couldn’t even hear Radiohead over their endless sqwawking. I turned around and said to them “I know you guys might not realize it, but you’re talking so loud that most of us can hardly hear the band. Would you mind lowering your voices just a bit? I’m not trying to be a pain.”. Well, the girl looked me straight in the eyes and said “Ok, BITCH!!”. I was dumbfounded. Chris said “don’t you dare talk to my wife like that!”. I was feeling ready to punch this lady but I’m not that kind of gal. I calmly said “I’m not trying to be a bitch, I’m just asking if you guys wouldn’t mind keeping your voices down is all. We’re all here to enjoy the show”. Thank goodness her boyfriend had some sense and tried to calm her down. He apologized to us and said they’d try to keep it quieter. Thankfully they did! But that didn’t keep me from secretly wishing someone would throw her off the ferry later that night…

Radiohead played all of the songs from “In Rainbows”, a good amount of songs from “Kid A” intertwined with even a few faves from The Bends. It was amazing to see them and they made the dissapointments at the festival worthwhile.

After the show was a complete cluster of you-know-what. Imagine a good number of that 30,000 concert goers trekking it back to the light rail station–only to find that there were no extra light rails to be run that night, you’d just have to wait in an INSANELY long line to board the train and get home. People were shoving each other like it was doomsday, and even after Chris reprimanded a kid for rudely shoving me aside, he was met with only a snort. (A wee bit different from the attitude at Osheaga!). We waited in line for over an hour just to board the first train, and a good extra hour after that to board the second one. We almost missed the very last train by 5 minutes, which would have meant we’d have to wait another HOUR before another one ran. We were exhausted and spent and sick of crowds at this point, but we finally DID make it home–a good 3.5 hours LATER!!!

Not sure if APW is anything we’d ever plan on going through again, kids or no kids.

We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing with my sister and the nephews, who made us laugh with their antics. It’s always depressing when we have to leave them because times that we get to visit are few and far between, and the kids are growing up before our eyes. But we do hold on to the times we can and we have fun.

2 Concert Updates from the past week.

Last Sunday night in Boston was concert weekend–not only did we see the True Colors tour on Saturday, but on our way home on Sunday we saw She Wants Revenge and Be Your Own Pet at Paradise Rock Club in Cambridge. The concert was inexpensive and it sounded like a good way to get our music fix in.

Be Your Own Pet did a very energetic opening set, however the sound quality at Paradise was horrible that night-sounded like a speaker had blown out–so we could barely hear the lead singer as she pranced around stage. Still, they had a cool rockabilly punk vibe (and they are young–I think no one in that band is over 25!).

She Wants Revenge were OK but a bit lackluster compared to the first time we saw them 2 years ago at Northern Lights. Back then they had an edgier vibe, they seemed a bit too casual and low-key for the night. But what could you expect for the price? We were still glad we went.

Then, this past Thursday we had the good fortune of being able to see the Breeders at Pearl Street. Yes, the Breeders! At Pearl Street!!!
We were shocked that such a legendary band would end up in such a tiny place.
We were thinking that it probably wouldn’t be that great of a concert, and that the Breeders would probably play a few old songs begrudingly, mostly new songs from their O.K album and then snobbishly leave the stage without saying much to the crowd.

But boy were we surprised! When the Breeders arrived on stage, they couldn’t be any friendlier. They chatted up a storm with the audience and thanked us all profusely for coming to “their little show”. It was an absolute treat. They did play a few songs from their new album (which isn’t bad, but not nearly as good as Last Splash), but they did us the pleasure of singing quite a few songs from Last Splash, and a few good rarities from compilations that they did in the 90’s (eek! Hard to believe they’re now considered “old skool”.)

Kim and Kelly Deal still have the same great harmony and energy; if you closed your eyes you wouldn’t have thought it was over 15 years since they debuted (The Breeders themselves, not the Pixies, which in that case, it would’ve been ages longer!). They barely faltered, with the exception of “Cannonball”–it wasn’t their best performance of it, but hey, one out of a whole bunch isn’t bad.
They came back for an encore and ended with “Saints”, which was a perfect song to kick off the summer (“Summer is ready when you are”)

They were funny and seemed pretty humble to be playing in a small place. We all felt lucky to be part of such a great little gem of a show.

Side note: Opening for them were the Montana Boys, who didn’t have a sound that we particularly cared for, but they did have very funny titles to their songs (for example, “Doogie Howser will stalk you in your dreams”.) Gotta hand it to them for creativity.

Band-o-rama 2008

Here is a list of the concerts/bands we’ve seen so far in the new year with some ratings out of 5. I guess we’re music freaks, what can I say:

1. Blonde Redhead(3.5), School of Seven Bells(3.5)

2. The Birthday Massacre(4), Schoolyard Heroes(2.5), Creature Feature(5)

3. Zox(4.5), the Everyday Visuals(1.5)

4. Ghouls Night out (4.5), Mongrel(2), Creature Feature (again!)(4)

5. April 17th -> Jen Tobey’s Alter-Ego(3.5), The Clicks(5)

6. May 1th -> Eric Hnatow(3), Future Islands(2), Dan Deacon (4.5)

7. May 3rd – > Hemlock (3.5), Meshuggah (2), Ministry (4.5) – final Al Jourgensen tour 😦

8. May 31st-True Colors Concert Tour–The Cliks (5), Regina Spektor (2.5), The B-52s (5), Cyndi Lauper (4).

9. June 1st-Be Your Own Pet (3), She Wants Revenge (3)

10. June 4th-The Montana Boys (2.5), The Breeders (4)

An interesting thing we have noticed is some bands really vary depending on the venue and the crowd, blonde redhead is much better at festivals.

Dan Deacon Delirium

This past Thursday night we went to one of the most bizarre concerts we have ever been too–AND one of the most fun.
If you’ve never before heard of Dan Deacon, read on, brothas and sistas…

I first discovered Dan Deacon in the Pitchfork top 100 albums of the year review–he was hailed as the most unusual but deserving candidate for the top 10 spot, and his music was described as “experimental electronica that would border on chintzy if it weren’t so expertly put together…Dan Deacon is a spreader of silly joy….”

So I decided to give his album a listen on Yahoo. I had no idea what to think at first. Then I wanted to stop listening and call the editors of Pitchfork to tell them they were crazy. The first song was a continuous loop of Woody Woodpecker set to video-game like background noise. It was kind of maddening… The songs that followed sounded as bizarre as their titles, “Silly Hat vs. Eagle Hat”, “Pizza Horse”, and “Snake Mistakes”. Who was this guy, and what was he thinking?

But, the more I listened, a funny thing happened…the more I LIKED it. The more I couldn’t get it out of my head! The more the silliness grew on me and I thought those Pitchfork folks just might be right, that this music is an unusual work of genius. So I found myself becoming a fan. I told Chris to listen to the album, and at first HE thought I was crazy…but then HE couldn’t stop listening to it either! In fact, he listened to it more than I did!

So when we heard that Dan Deacon was performing at Pearl Street, we felt we just had to go and meet this mysterious man behind the weird music.

In person, Dan looked even weirder than his music. He was the epitome of geek, with giant spectacles that covered half his face. He was chubby, balding and wore an ensemble that looked like he swiped it off the Salvation Army clearance rack–rolled up sweatpants, neon socks and all. But he had an endearing quality to him; there was no hint of pretentiousness about him, despite the cult following he had and his underground electronica fame. He mingled with the crowd during both opening acts, shook hands and made jokes. He ordered beer-and had to pay for it-at the bar like everyone else. He even used the sketchy bathroom that everyone else used. In fact, some people didn’t even seem to know who he was. He apologized profusely after bumping into a girl who obviously had no idea it was him.
He just was a giant, nerdy teddy bear you wanted to squeeze.

The first opener, Eric Hnatow, was a Noho native who had impressive energy. His music sounded as catchy and offbeat as a Super Mario brothers game. He got a little weird with his wild dancing at the end, but overall he was fun and got the crowd going.

Speaking of the crowd–quite possibly the best part of going to a Dan Deacon show was the people watching. People were doing every kind of crazy dance you could imagine, particularly this one young kid we nicknamed “Chicken guy”, and his aptly-named partner “Senor Rubber Legs”. There was all kinds of crazy dress too: a guy wearing a superman shirt, a giant red cowboy hat and blue spandex pants; a guy with a giant curly sue wig on, and a guy dressed in head-to-toe plaid, with a paperboy hat and some impressive mutton chops.

The second act was Future Islands, whom we weren’t really impressed with, so we won’t waste time talking about them.

When it was Dan’s turn to take the stage, he wheeled out this little homemade cart of his electronic gear, covered with colored duct tape. He spent a good amount of time setting up-amongst the crowd and not above us on stage, which was suprising. He even mounted a giant green glow-in the dark skull on his table. All the while he was setting up, he blasted Salt and Pepa’s “Shoop” over the speakers and danced like a dog rubbing up against a cactus (his own description of his dancing, not ours).

The show that was to follow was an hour and a half of sheer silliness and fun. For as many concerts as we have been too, we’ve never seen such collective energy from any crowd (even with Bjork!!!). It was suprising and it made us see just how much of a cult following Dan really had.

He played an amazing, fun set and got everyone involved. He even staged a “dance off” between opposite sides of the room (the rules were you had to look your opponent in the eye and dance the craziest dance you’ve ever danced, all while keeping a straight face and not chickening out if you’re picked to go next). Later on, he had everyone in the room do a “sassy love train” kind of dance around the room. No one could stop laughing. He entertained us with jokes about himself and funny anecdotes and rants in between songs.

He ended his set with a 12 minute long ditty called “Wham City” whose lyrics involve a bear who starts a band with other animals and who sings about sharks and castles and swords”–it made NO sense at all but it was a fun finale.

Overall the energy that he set off was infectious, and his lovable geek-hero demeanor made us love him even more.

Yup, as crazy as it sounds we’ve become one of those fans, and we’d definitely go see him again if he comes back to the area.

The Clicks, second times is a CHARM!

We went to see the The Clicks last night which was amazing. They canceled the first time in February due to the lead singer having voice problem which happens so we where crossing our fingers this time. Jen Tobey’s Alter-Ego opened up for The Clicks at Pearl Street and Jen and Band where really good. From their myspace page they sounded folksy, but live they where not. Their songs where good and most of the band members looked geeky (one I swear must be a computer network guy) and they where very entertaining. Usually at pearl street we don’t worry about showing up for the opener but this time I was glad we did.

Not too long after Jen Tobey’s Alter-Ego was done The Clicks came on. They are amazing live and very humble. They have risen a LOT in the last couple months and playing much bigger places and tours (true colors tour) and it was amazing to see them in such a small venue. The lead singer really puts a ton of emotion into singing which makes the songs sound so full. The band mates joked with each other on stage, did a little posing for camera, and just generally where amazing. Hate to keep using the work amazing but they really a site to see.

On a site note, last week when we where watching LA Ink we saw the lead singer getting a tattoo. Kathy was actually the one to spot it, since their was no mention to what band they belonged to. Good spot Kathy spotting Lucas .

theCLIKS
Lucas Silveira – Vocals/Guitar
Nina Martinez – Guitar
Jen Benton – Bass
Morgan Doctor – Drums

Poppin’ Providence

Saturday, January 26, 2007

After a day of having needles poked in me and putting large furniture objects on the car only to be dropped off at my parents house and reloaded later, we headed to Providence.

I had bought tickets to see The Birthday Massacre a few months ago after seeing their CD in hot topic and listening to some of their tunes. They looked good and the other two bands looked decent. Mostly we figured for the $10 tickets how can you really go wrong.

Armed with our Tom-Tom we set out to find the venue in Providence, the living room. We found it no problem, and it looked kinda run down but hell it was close to my parents place. Unfortunatly it was cold as hell, so we ended up at this very tall indoor mall less than a miles from the venue. We walked around enjoying not slipping on ice and such and just hung out, enjoyed each other company, had some Indian food, some lattes and such

Figuring we weren’t sure about the first band we got there just when the show started. I was glad we did, the first band Creature Feature was amazin. They didn’t take them self too seriously and the lead singer even went to order a drink at the end of one song. You would be surprised how many bands have an attitude even if they are openers (rock kill kid comes to mind). Their songs where real good, all relating to their love of monster movie, real good stuff. We got to talk to the band after their set and the keyboardist was very nice. Another good sign they sold out of all their albums on the tour. Later at home we downloaded their album, DRM free from Amazon. Of the three band Creature Feature impressed us most.

Next up was Schoolyard Heroes which where good. Their CD sounded good but their live show is not as great. The lead singer tries a little too much to be like Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. She tried and maybe eventually she will get her own style.

Eventually the main band, The Birthday Massacre, came on. They are really really good live. The lead singer makes very cute adorable faces and even poses for candid photos from the crowd when singing, a very nice gesture. They played some new stuff like Red Star and a lot of their older stuff. They where really good live and where a hell of a lot of fun. They came back for a short encore and really hit all the good songs and performed well. One lead guitarist looked like a young marlyn manson and had some killer stage presence. At one point SchoolYardHeroes can on stage so there was a boatful of guitarists on stage, a nice site.

We headed home content in the bliss of enjoying a fistful of good indy music.

2007 Concert List

Our list of Bands we have seen, as many of you know we have become addicted to going to concerts.

2007 Concert List

Osheaga Festival

  • Apostle of Hustle
  • Rahzel
  • Jamie T
  • Xavier Cafeine
  • Stars
  • Thunderheist
  • Editors
  • Feist
  • Blonde Redhead
  • Dumas
  • Damien Rice
  • Patrick Watson
  • Smashing Pumpkins

Lowell MA

  • Indigo Girls
  • Melissa Ferrick

Cape Code

  • Susan Tedeschi
  • Scrapomatic

WEQX Fest, July 2007

  • Sunset Aside
  • Maggie Mayday
  • The Loyalty
  • Lughead
  • The Urgency
  • Shiny Toy Guns
  • TV On the Radio
  • Night Watchman
  • Matisyahu

Green River Festival

  • Raini Arbo and Daisy Mayhem
  • The Kennedys
  • Erin McKewon
  • James Hunter
  • Southern Culture on the Skids
  • Neko Case
  • Buddy Guy

NY Concert in the Park

  • Ozomatli
  • Babylon Circus

Boston

  • Feist
  • Grizzly Bear

NY City

  • Bjork
  • Konono no.1

Pittsburgh

  • Kristin Hersh
  • The McCarricks

Troy Fest

  • Mink
  • Stars of Track and Field
  • They Might Be Giants

Iron Horse

  • Michael Ian Black
  • Mike Showalter

Mass Mocha

  • Ozomatli