Beehives, bopping and banana pudding

Last night we went to what possibly might be the best concert in terms of just sheer fun (bjork takes the prize for best). We went to the Iron Horse to see Southern Culture on the Skids (scots.com) which is a great band that has been around for a while and sings songs all poking fun at trailer culture in a funny way.

We where fairly lucky and got a table near the front with a decent view. Angry Johnny and the KillBillies (getangry.com) opened up for SCOTS and did a good job. They where sort of a mix of angry hill billies and grunge. They played only for 30 minutes but where enjoyable. Giving enough time to have 2 martini’s in my case which where very yummy.

About this time a bunch of college kids arrived and at first we where a little worried that they would be the typical college idiots but luckily far from that.

Southern Culture on the Skids came on a bit later. They looked even better then when we saw them at the green river festival. The lead singer had plaid shorts and the whole redneck outfit with a straw hat which had part of it cut away for a sun visor. The female lead singer had a beehive and wore it well. The drummer looked like he was wearing an old fashion bowling uniform.

No sooner then 5 minutes into the concert and the college kids where up and bopping around in front of us. They knew the words to every song which made it even better (side note:. For those who have no gone to the iron horse it is one of those sit down concert places but there is room here to stand)  and where dancing it up to the side of the stage where we where. After a couple songs we got up with them (by the end of the evening many people where up) and did some crazy redneck dancing. It was crazy fun and the college kids where having a great time which was even more fun.

SCOTS was also have a blast of a time. They where really actually smiling while playing and looked to be having a great time. They got a couple people on stage including some of the college kids and one that was from TN. He was so estatic to be up on stage. After songs like double wide and day old banana pudding you just got to love them. After placing for a while they came back for a few song encore.

Needless to say we havea¬† GREAT time and couldn’t believe how much fun it was. Thanks to 2 great bands and some very cool college kids.

Songs you must hear – Double wide & day old banana pudding

Guy highlight – Kathy kissing the beehive wearing lead singer on the neck

Tattoo Status – Very Itchy

Beauty & Crime in Brattleboro

We were surprised to hear on 93.9 The River that Suzanne Vega was coming to our humble little town to do a concert. Yes, Suzanne Vega, in little old Brattleboro! And not just in Brattleboro, but right down the street from us, within walking distance! We couldn’t pass that up. She had been touring the US to promote her new album “Beauty and Crime”, which has surfaced after a several-year hiatus to raise her daughter.

Seeing her live at the Latchis theater was like seeing time frozen. She looked and sounded just like she did in her old “Tom’s Diner” days. Quite appropriately, she began her set with the album version of “Tom’s Diner” and, quite adorably, her band crew came on stage to “act out” the song, like by bringing in coffee to a cafe table and reading the paper.

Suzanne played a lot of songs from her new album–which was very good! I am especially a fan of “Frank and Ava” about Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, and “New York is a Woman”. Her lyrics and her sound is just as charming as it was in the days of her debut album. She sang a few old favorites including “Marlene on the Wall”, and “Left of Center”.

Suzanne was very engaging throughout the show, telling cute little stories in between sets and commenting on how she liked Brattleboro. She even read aloud a fan letter from a fan who requested she play a particular song in Brattleboro that night, and then she played the song.

The room fell to a hush when she sang a mesmerizing “Luka”, and then blasted into the funky, radio version of “Tom’s Diner” that we all know and love from Benny and Joon.

She came back for a 2-song encore from audience requests and then danced off stage. What a nice show, and the best part was that we only had to walk home after! So we even got to grab a beer at the Flat Street Brewery. And we found out that a neighbor of ours whom we had been friends with moved back to town!

I hope we start to see more great artists like her performing in a place like Brattleboro. Hooray, Suzanne!

Oh, I almost forgot, opening for her was Philip Julian. He was pretty neat, he sang a funny song he called “God the Third” about if Jesus had a son, and the guy was a dissapointment. (“So he became the president of the United States” har har”).

We heart Grizzly Bear.

Ever since seeing these guys open for Feist, we’ve been intruiged by Grizzly Bear. They are one of those rare bands whose live shows far outweigh the quality of their album, so they always leave you wanting more. They didn’t disappoint at Pearl Street, although I wouldn’t consider the venue a good match for their music…they are more of an Iron Horse, sit- down -and listen to kind of band. The name conjures up mean, angry animals who steal your camping food…but these guys are more Teddy than Grizzly.

Opening for them was Beach House, a duo whose music brings to mind a ghost from the 1960’s searching the shore for her lost love (guess that’s where the “beach house” title would fit). And with as much “cool new band” exposure as Grizzly Bear has been getting, they were completely humble about it and hung out with everyone during the Beach House perofmance. When Chris and I were having a drink next door before the show, we saw the guys from Grizzly Bear wander past the window and take the “common people” entrance into Pearl Street. They even worked the CD/T-Shirt booth and joked around with the sound guys.

When it was their time to shine, they walked up on stage and thanked Beach House profusely.I can’t say enough of how Grizzly Bear’s live shows put their album to shame. The album is subdued, with ukeleles and pianos. The live shows have more of an edge, with electric guitars and glockenspiels (sp?). Their music is hard to explain, but it’s emotions and right-on-target group melodies that conjure up thoughts of Simon and Garfunkel and the Grateful Dead mixed with the Beach Boys. Super good stuff. Favorite songs were “Little Brother”, “Fix it” and “On a Neck, on a Spit”. There was even a great acapella version of an old sea shanty.

I hope Grizzly Bear will stay as humble as they were at this live show, even after playing at Coachella and receiving lots of under-the-radar buzz. I hope they’ll come back again sometime, too.

J’aime Montreal. Beaucoup.

This weekend we crossed the Canadian border for the first time! Which by the way, is rather much easier than I thought. It took a whole of 2 seconds–we showed border patrol our passports, they asked us about 3 questions (where are you coming from, how long are you staying, are you bringing in any firearms or controlled substances?), and then we were pushed on through. Whoopee!

We stayed in Montreal for a night to go to the 2007 Osheaga Music Festival at a national park there. The hotel we stayed at was very decently priced (Hotel St. Denis), and actually a close walk to the Metro Station, which we found out the festival was only one metro stop away from!

Montreal was pretty sweet. Nearly everyone is bi-lingual, French is commonly the first language used but most people can easily switch to English. I tried to use my minimal French as much as possible. Nearly everyone was very friendly and helpful, which was a relief to see. We stayed in the Latin Quarter which is part of Vieux Montreal (“Old Montreal”). It was a very artistic quarter with a few concert venues, a univeristy and some great street cafes. Being there definitely brought back memories of France, there is certainly a European vibe. (Sans any snootiness).

The Osheaga festival was absolutely amazing. The park itself lays aside a canal and has beautiful open spaces. There are several works of outside art which are monuments there, such as Buckminster Fuller’s giant Geodesic Dome. For the festival, several artists made cute little cutouts of woodland characters to stick all around the woods nearby.

There were 4 stages of music for this weekend long event (we only went for a day), plus a large indoor tent in which local artists showed videos and displayed paintings and photographs. 2 artists worked on a mural throughout the festival which was to be completed when the festival finished. There was a “maze” of art and several booths in which local crafters sold their wares.

We lucked out in the food department as there was a vegetarian/vegan stand! Other stands sold more than just your standard veggie burgers, including an African food stand which looked and smelled oh-so tempting. (We didn’t end up eating there but judging by the LONG lines, it was popular). They served beer and wine there and suprisingly, though there was no alcohol limit, out of the thousands (and we mean THOUSANDS!) of people at the festival, no one was rip-roaring drunk or obnoxious. However, the stench of weed was everywhere, and it seemed like security looked the other way. That’s Canada for ya!

There were a lot of very cool, very nice people are age, I’d say a real “indie” crowd was there. By the end of the night, there was an enormous bunch of people! Everyone seemed to be having fun and for the amount of people there, there was little hint of any bad goings-on. We wonder if the festival represented what most of Canada is like- relaxed and friendly, and focusing on more important things than caring about people smoking pot (like recycling (which there was a whole “recycling team” at Osheaga which picked up everything), and Fair Trade (there was a big fair trade booth there). It was a welcome sight to be part of such a laissez-faire atmosphere…

The music was outstanding! There was not a single band who disappointed, everyone put on a GREAT live show. It would take forever to post about everyone , but I’ll just list who we saw playing there (we only saw 2 out of the 4 stages as some bands where playing at the same time on the other side of the park). Apostle of Hustle, Rahzel (considered the “Godfather of beatboxing”), Jamie T (who sounded like the Streets mixed with the Clash), Editors (who definitely had a cool Interpol vibe), Xavier Cafeine (a Montreal born punk singer who was crazy!), Blonde Redhead (whom we love love love!), Patrick Watson (he had a unique sound all of his own), Stars (another Montreal-based band who had great stage presence and were friends of Feist), Feist herself (she rules!!!), Dumas (who is very popular in Canada; we were laughing at this because one of our good friends, Andy Dumas, always goes by “Dumas”), Damien Rice (we saw him before and were concerned about him performing solo w/out Lisa Hannigan, but he blew us away! The most surprising hit of the fest!), and….the headliners….Smashing Pumpkins!

Blonde Redhead were great, the lead singer wore a funky dress and danced around like a hippy in an LSD forest (it was quite cute, actually.). Where she sat to play the keyboard was made to look like a giant black horse.

Feist was amazing as usual but, since she hails from Canada, she had an extra special connection with the crowd!

Damien Rice was a total knockout, rocking out guitar solos like a bad mutha! You’d forget he was known for mostly “folk ballad” type music…

Pumpkins were great! It was exciting to see them live after being fans since Siamese Dream! We tried to stay awake as they were the last show of the day and we had been standing in the hot sun since 1pm (it was going until 11). But we stayed awake and it was worth it. They played a handful of older songs like “Tonight”, and “Bullet w/ Butterfly wings”, but most of their material was from their newest album, Zeitgeist. All the same it was pretty darn good.

There was so much dirt in the open fields that when we got to our hotel our shoes looked like we had been in a mine–there was an inch thick of dust covering them. When I washed my face the white face towel was nearly black-ugh! But we slept VERY well after that busy day.

The next morning after we checked out, we were so pleased to find a little bakery that specialized in delicacies from Lyon. We had a nice little breakfast of croissants au beurre, baguette toast and frothy coffee that brought back sweet memories.

It was time to say “Au Revoir” to Canada after that, but we’ve officially fallen in love with the place and feel very lucky to have been able to have such a fine visit. We hope we’ll visit again sometime soon!

Addendum 9/11/07–I forgot to add a couple of interesting tidbits from our trip:

1. The Cafe in Lyon was called “La Brioche Lyonnais”

2. Chris did a good job speaking a little bit of French

3. There was a band called Thunderheist that we caught the tail end of their performance. We were totally intrigued then, and now after checking them on myspace, we love them! (Thunderheist, come perform your booty-shakin beats in the U.S. Soon!)

4. At the festival we spotted some unusual dressers, including a guy who wore and Indian headdress and whose friend dressed up as a cow. (We now have strong suspicious as to where all that weed came from….)

5. The most unusual perfomance by far must’ve been a duo called Hank Pine and Lily Fawn. Lily Fawn wears fawn ears, tap dances, sings vaudeville ditties and plays the saw. Hank Pine is dressed like a chemical warmonger mixed with the hamburglar, plays electric guitar, screams like a banshee, and carries around a garbage bag which he claims to be his dead girlfriend.

Better than closer to fine

On Friday we went to Lowell, Mass for their summer music festival. They have bands almost every week and sometimes more than two a week and it is just nice.

We went to see the Indigo Girls with Melissa Ferrick as an opener.

We arrived at Lowell a few hours before the concert was to start and it was crazy busy. Last year when we went to see Dar Williams we had to problem setting up our blanket then going and heading out to town. Not so with the Indigo girls. The place apparently opened at 8am for a bit then they closed the gates till 6pm and there was a lot of people there, always a good sign of things to come.

We decided to go to a cute little cafe for a snack while we waited for the gates to open again. During this time Kathy pounded me at Scrabble even when she gave me points for all these made up words I spelled. After a nice banana-and-nutella crepe, we decided to head back.

So we headed back to drop our blanket down, and went to grab a drink before the concert started. I had a dirty martini and Kathy had a frozen blueberry martini. They were so-so.

There was definitely an aura of general amicability in the air when we sat down on our blankets. Everyone was there to have a good time, no matter what their background may be.

I do have to say that Indigo Girls concerts tend to attract a unique crowd of people; this isn’t just your regular old apple-pie folk concert. People from all walks of life: young and old, punk and proper, gay and straight. The Indigo Girls tell stories with their music that attract all who have lived some part of what they sing.

Melissa Ferrick opened for them and did a stellar job. She made the crowd laugh with her random jokes and jams in between sets. She did a real funny version of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Give it Away now”.

Last year the Indigo Girls had to cut their concert short because of thunderstorms. There was no alternative arena set up, and when there’s an outdoor concert, wires + lightning= bad news. So they were only able to play a short set.

This year hopes were high as most of the day was clear and there wasn’t a drop in sight. Well, as luck would have it, the Indigo Girls no sooner than commented on what a lovely night it was then a few raindrops fell after their second song. Everyone looked at each other like “Oh,no, not again!”, but they continued on, and luckily Mother Nature was kind enough to let them finish their set without any more rain.

And what a set it was. The two are impeccable live. They sang all of their hits and a few beautiful gems from their new album. They had that “southern hospitality thang” going on with alot of “thanks, ya’ll” in between songs. They played well over an hour and a half and sang several songs for their encore. Perhaps it was the warm, inviting summer air and the all around good vibes from everyone there, but the music just reached into our souls and spread goodness all around. When “the girls” began to strum the first chords of “Closer to Fine” everyone just stood up and cheered…

What do we have to say about the night? It was “Closer to Fine”; in fact, even better than closer to fine.

EQX-Fest 2007!

This past Monday we headed up to Saratoga Springs, NY (about an hour north of Albany) for the first annual “WEQX fest”. WEQX is a local alternative station that has been around for many years, and is sadly the only independent radio station left on the East Coast! They decided to host a music festival at the beautiful Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in the Saratoga state park.
The weather was gorgeous albeit steamy, and the day was filled with great live music. Unfortunately the headliners, Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party (THE Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction fame), backed out due to personnel changes at the last minute, but we still got to rock out to some excellent perfomers.
There were LOTS of teenagers there and at first we felt a little old to be there; but I mean, c’mon, this wasn’t Britney Spears fest! However later in the day we saw some older folks (and some OLDER folks, like a sassy granny who was moshing along to Shiny Toy Guns!), so it made us feel better:)There were 3 stages for the event, a small stage where local lesser-knowns could show of their talents, a small stage for “opening performers” out in the west field, and the main BIG stage where the headlining bands were to perform.

At the local stage (EQXposure), the bands that played were Sunset Aside, Maggie Mayday, the Loyalty and Lughead. Sunset Aside was most unimpressive, they appeared to be a bunch of 13 year olds screaming like lunatics and not even sounding harmonious. The Loyalty were decent, Maggie Mayday and Lughead sounded best. It was nice to let some local bands get their name out there.

The West Stage perfomers included The Urgency, Shiny Toy Guns, and TV on the Radio.
The Urgency was a decent festival band; they were cute and energetic but really had nothing unique to offer. It was very cute, however, that one band members’ dad was there to pass out website info to everyone and to brag about his son’s band :).

Shiny Toy Guns did a bang-up job performing, despite the stereo system blowing out through the second song and the sound being quite damaged thereafter. They had incredible energy and were very personable–no diva-esque complaining about the sound system here. They didn’t quite fit the festival genre (they’re more the kind of music you’d expect to see in a crowded disco hall with strobelights) but they put on a great show and were pretty badass. The male lead singer looked like a benevolent, chubbier Russell Crowe, and the female lead looked like a tiny little girl-but she could pack a punch with her voice!

TV on The Radio put on an extremely impressive performance. They were an unusual looking bunch-the lead singer was a tall, gangly fellow wearing giant orange glasses and a messenger boy cap, and he did this cool/odd movement of hopping/dashing across the stage when he sang. One of the guitarists looked a bit like Frodo, and had chimes on the end of his guitar, which led to a jangly effect not unlike the guitars of Sonic Youth. Sweet! The other guitarist and vocalist had a prolific beard, so much so that Chris and I decided to affectionately dub him “Beard Al Yankovich”. We had only known this band from their one radio hit, “Wolf Like Me”, but from hearing them live we have a whole new appreciation for their eclectic sound, their energy and their musical “depth” if you will. It was a sweltering, cloudless hour that they perfomed on stage and the sunlight was directly pointing at the lead singer, who looked like at any minute he’d pass out. He kept on going, and instead of guzzling down the six bottles of Poland Spring that were left next to his microphone, he generously doused them on the hot concert goers, joking, “This concert was brought to you by Poland Spring, everyone!”. That’s love. And I’d be remiss to not mention that I love them even more because the title of their latest album is called “Return to Cookie Mountain”.

After a short break, we all headed into the big main stage for the “main event”. The starting perfomer was the Nightwatchman, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine fame. He was the most passionate perfomer we saw at the festival, putting his entire body and soul into his politically-based songs. All I can say was “Wow”. Who else but a former Rage Against the Machine Member could get a crowd moshing to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land”?.

The next perfomer was Matisyahu. Forgive me for being so cliche as to use text message language, but can I just say–to see him live–OMG!! He was wow,wow wow. Damn, that hassidic jew got soul! He can beatbox like the rest of them and get us all swooning to his reggae jams in the evening breeze. His guitarist gets five stars for blowing us away with his energy. Matisyahu had a couple of great guests, including another beatboxing friend and a hassidic buddy who hopped around stage for a couple songs and got the crowd going.

When all was said and done it was nearly 10 pm and we decided not to stay for 311. No offense to 311, but we decided since we had a long drive home and Satellite Party wasn’t going to perfom, we should head home.

All in all, a great fest and a great day! Pics with comments to come soon.

Thanks for reading, y’all; we love ya!