video clips

Just a note to say that I’ve updated the sidebar with YouTube video links to the three most recent shows I’ve attended. I don’t always post show reviews, so this is a way to send you a bit of the show so it can speak for itself.

Up right now are clips from Neon Trees, Jesse Malin & The St Marks Social and The Decemberists. As always, thanks to whoever recorded these.

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The Hold Steady

I went to see The Hold Steady for the first time Wednesday night. The first note they played sent an arrow straight through my heart. They started their set off with The Sweet Part of the City, followed by You Can Make Him Like You and Hurricane J. It was euphoric. Lately when I’ve been going to shows I can’t help but notice how much they resemble the church services I attended when I was a kid, and Wednesday night was no exception. There was lots of singing along with upraised arms, for instance, and Craig Finn at times resembled a choir director when he interacted with the audience. I love the way The Hold Steady works religious references into their songs. The most notable difference for me between church and rock and roll is the fact that I have faith in the latter to the extent that it’s replaced the former for me, as as a result I’m way more eager to respond to an altar call when it’s led by someone who considers Joe Strummer a saint, for instance.

Other highlights of the night were Ascension Blues, Stuck Between Stations, Constructive Summer, Magazines, Rock Problems and Sequestered in Memphis.

I sort of crashed halfway through the set, due to my switched around sleep schedule and the several glasses of alcohol I chose over caffeine, which I see now would have been a better choice. It was great to see them perform though. And it was great to see lots of people really into them.

the tallest man on earth

I don’t really plan on talking about every show I attend, but I knew when last night’s show began that I had to tell you about it.

The Tallest Man On Earth is apparently way more popular than I ever could have guessed. I don’t recall where I first found his music, but I fell for it right away, so choosing to go to see him wasn’t really a stretch for me. His show in Montreal last night sold out, and the crowd seemed intensely into him. I have no idea how his music ended up being so well known while plenty of other fantastic artists pass through this city relatively unnoticed. I’m not begrudging him this popularity, I’m just confused by it. Maybe it was because he had an opening slot in the Bon Iver tour last year? I’m not a Bon Iver fan, so I guess I wouldn’t know.

Last night’s show was incredibly enjoyable though. I won’t argue with the fact that he deserves full and rapt audiences such as last night’s. I liked his music to begin with, but watching him perform just made me like it more. If you’re into jangly guitar picking and heartfelt lyrics delivered with absolute certainty by someone who seems to feel each echoing note with every last cell of his body, and who creeps and paces the stage throughout the whole process then The Tallest Man On Earth is for you. And even if you’re not into that, see him anyway. You probably will be soon.

(Thanks to last’s night’s taper, whoever you may be.)

Vampire Weekend review and weekly mix #36

It turns out Vampire Weekend is a pretty great band to see live, as I suspected. They were awfully energetic and brought their own chandeliers. They stuck I Think Ur A Contra right in the middle of their set, and I had a beautiful moment while I slow danced with my beer.

The song sent shivers up my spine, which I didn’t expect, and it now has a definite place on a future 2010 mixtape. There’s only a few more months of the year, and it’s something to start keeping in mind.

It’s been an incredibly musical year for me. Even though I’ve been listening to music pretty much non stop for most I my life I feel like I’ve rediscovered everything I love about music this year, so this mix has epic potential. The last time I made a year mix was back in 2005, which was a pretty awesome year in its own right.

I was hoping for Walcott all evening too, and I got it at the very end. I had no idea that this happens at every show. I danced and danced and sang along to my favorite lines, all the way to New Jersey, all the way to the Garden State, outta Cape Cod tonight. It’s got top spot on this week’s mix, which I guess is a perfect segue to explaining my weekly mixes.

I decided back at the beginning of 2010 that I would make weekly mixes for myself. I thought it would help me get some variety in what I was listening to and hone my mix skills, which are best kept super sharp since you never know when you’ll need them. It’s working out well. This week’s mix marked #36 and I’m still going strong. I choose 10 songs, maybe a few that I couldn’t get out of my head, or that tell a story about what happened that week and I go from there. From now on I’ll be posting the results here every Thursday or so.

  1. Vampire Weekend – Walcott (Insane Mix)
  2. Phoenix – Lisztomania
  3. Surfer Blood – Take It Easy
  4. The Hold Steady – Magazines
  5. Okkervil River – You Can’t Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man
  6. Rock Plaza Central – (Don’t You Believe The Words Of) Handsome Men
  7. Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele – You Can’t Force a Dance Party
  8. Jesse Malin – You Can Make Them Like You (UK version)
  9. The National – Slow Show
  10. Islands – Switched On

i think that you lie

I wasn’t quite sure how to jump into this whole blogging thing, but I’ve waited long enough, so let’s start at the present and I’ll fill you in on the past sometime in the future.

I’m going to see Vampire Weekend tonight. I used to have a rule for myself that I would only see concerts by bands whose albums I owned, whose music I knew very well, and who I absolutely loved. Back when going to a concert was but a distant, impossible dream in my life I used to view going to them as something akin to having sex, and I didn’t want to become some kind of a slut. I’ve relaxed on this a bit, though not completely. I will still only see bands I actually like, for instance.

I can’t remember when or how I first heard Vampire Weekend. I suspect that my first taste of them was Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, though unlike most of my other musical experiences I don’t remember it actually happening. The one Vampire Weekend memory I do have is watching them on SNL back in 2008 and thinking that even though I had never really given them a serious listen they seemed like a pretty good band.

Finding a SNL video from two years ago on YouTube is pretty much impossible though, so let’s just pretend we watched them on Jools Holland instead.

I was listening to them a few weeks ago, knowing they were coming to town and wondering why exactly I was not going to see them. Since I couldn’t think of a good reason I bought a ticket. They’ve since sold out.

At the moment I’m very into I Think Ur A Contra and Walcott. I’d be pretty pleased if they played either of those tonight.