Tuesday, July 28, 2009

[Live Review] Frightened Rabbit, Chicago, Bottom Lounge, 7.19.09

As the massive amount of crowds and euphoric ridden folk file out of Union Park, from the festival ending set by the Flaming Lips. I lock up my bike and head into the Bottom Lounge to see how Frightened Rabbit has held up since he was on the stage much earlier for the third and final day of the Pitchfork Music Festival. Unfortunately I drew the very short straw and was held up from making it out today, the worst of it was the bulk of the bands I was looking forward to see live all fell on this last day as well. On a positive note, with some diligence and determination it looks as though I will get to see a lot of these same bands either when they return to Chicago for their own tour or when I make my way out to Colorado for this year's Monolith Festival. Regardless, I was fortunate enough to catch Scott Hutchison & gang’s Post Pitchfork show this evening. Unsurprisingly there was a decent crowd all packed in to see the set they either missed or had hoped to build onto from the fun earlier in the day.

Thax arrives to introduce Frightened Rabbit quoting lyrics from “Poke”. The Scots run onto stage exclaiming tiredness and begins with “I Feel Better” they start rather high tempo with no signs of fatigue, continuing what I can assume was a strong set nine hours ago. “Since we’ve played this afternoon, I’ve had a bit of whiskey…perfect cure for a sore throat, and among other things confidence” Scott jokes holding up a bottle in between songs. Much like the brutal honesty of his lyrics, Scott’s delivery is just as visibly painstaking. A drunken Scott makes an enjoyable performer creating a comfortable environment jesting and conversing in between songs. The crowd definitely not a deterrent from the enjoyment of the set, I can imagine this being a better experience for the Pitchfork goers who caught their earlier set; as the band casually throws jokes around coercing everyone for crowd cooperation. WOW!!! “The Modern Leper” has turned this performance up a notch they are such an amazingly gracious band as well. Still becoming familiar with their first album, it was a nice transition to hear something old, “Yawns”. A microphone error occurs but Scott takes it in strides and he casually eases over and resumes his twist.
Obviously inebriated by the drunken ramble throughout the show but not apparent in their performance as it flows seamlessly all the way through this cozily crowded lounge. The crowd’s yells and requests are offhandedly responded to; and then leading into the ninth song ”My Backwards Walk” of the set, the drunken error finally occurs. Scott shrugs it off with a laugh claiming it had to occur at some point. With the loud chants, “Music Now!!!” begins, and this experience has definitely reached that musical nirvana where all sensories are reached by the spine tingling performance on stage. That song demands you to sweet talk the next random girl to the backroom and make out with her, per suggestion of the random girl next to me. I clarified that wasn’t a blatant suggestion for the two of us to disappear for the remainder of the set. There is such a high intensity and this rhythmic awesomeness present as the set comes to a conclusion with Scott dancing a jig about stage and the drum skins being pounded. After a relentless plead, stomp and chant from the audience Scott returns with his acoustic guitar in hand letting us know his gratitude and he was going to play something new. “Swim Until you Can’t See Land”, has an overall feeling of loneliness, solitude and disparity, from what Ive read definite aspect that will be present in their upcoming album. Finishing the evening off with another gracious thanks and promising to soon return prior to bringing the house down with the crowd pleasing “Keep Yourself Warm”. For obvious reasons it would take a lot to make up for the missed line up of Pitchfork but at least this year’s festival experience ended on a very high note with an amazing performance from a great band.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pitchfork 2009 Recap

It has been seven days since the Flaming Lips concluded the three-day event at Union Park, and I cant even begin to explain the week that has occurred since its conclusion. It was a weekend of difficult deadlines and sporadic tastes of wonderful live music. The weather varied from a steady drizzle at times to breezy, sunny days and no one can forget the mild temperatures in the evening begging for a hoodie. As usual this did not deter the endless amounts of hipsters and (enter stereotypical label here) who made the daily trek to this otherwise quieted park in the West West loop, taking refuge with their new favorite peculiar sounding bands. My studio is literally 3 blocks away so it almost felt as though I was walking through my backyard to see the plethora of bands that are now regulars on my daily play lists. With an unbelievable opportunity falling in my lap literally the evening prior to the onset of Pitchfork I had to reevaluate my plans, making sure I got to see the priorities on my list. Ultimately I can say it was a memorable weekend.

Day 1: Built to Spill

I knew going into this year’s festival, not having too much experience or past with the majority of Friday’s bill I mostly wanted to see Built to Spill. If you read my previous entry about BTS they played a pivotal role in the evolution of my music taste. There has been rumor for three years of a new album, which sounds like may become true in October, There is No Enemy. Regardless, as excited as I was to hear new tracks, I knew with the “Write the Night” set list to expect an evening of classics. I arrived at the tail end of Jesus Lizard’s set, reminiscent of my 90s high school era, but didn’t follow enough to have a discussion about. I was able to collect my thoughts and phase out the all-encompassing festivalgoers who may have arrived after happy hour to catch the entire evening. The weather was balmy and grey with a chance of storms. The band casually walks onstage and begins to jam, opening up with “Liar”. I am not sure if they were attempting to get comfortable or if this was their natural demeanor but there was such concentration in the onset of their play. Doug Martsch has such a reserved delivery when he sings, you almost expect a large booming voice but much like his lyrics its more delicate and controlled than anything else. It does not seem like he switches guitars at all as we are four songs in and each break is silent as he tunes the guitar. The guys are falling in sync and the show moves into the next gear, finishing up with “You Were Right” it’s like watching an army of guitars.
Finally making casual talk, Doug compliments the aroma of fumes that have made their way towards stage. Commentary was made about the possibility of WB halting the October release of their new album. Moving into “Kicked It In the Sun” like many of the songs thus far has a noticeable rise and fall of tempo. As much as it seems like a great idea to allow the fans to selects the songs to be played and knowing Doug’s desire for perfection (aim to build a more cohesive sounding set) I don’t know if it’s a concept that allows a band like BTS who has a tendency to elaborate on wherever their music takes them. I look around as my drunken surrounding bellow out requests, I laugh to myself. Rain has now began to fall steadily and it appears as though Doug has left his consciousness…Wow!!! The band powers through their set resembling mini symphonies being played simultaneously. It is always intriguing to see the natural tendencies present in a live performance. Doug has this convulsion like movement as he sings, delivering each and every concentrated line. There is a nice balance though across the board of songs mixing nostalgic favorites like “Big Dipper” and more recent “In Your Mind”. Doug stands back nodding his head in a confrontational manner between verses. There is something very beautiful about a band finding their harmony and grooving it out onstage. It is as though the crowds disappeared and we’re in this musty old garage or farmhouse, watching this untouched craft. This artist’s personal gem built upon by their various layers of creativity, what an unpredictable magic. It is pure comedy watching the myriad sections of the crowd explode with gratitude as their favorites are played. To conclude the evening Doug thanks everyone and begins “Carry the Zero.” It is like a sea of convulsions and spasms of musical nirvana as the crowd bop their heads and find their own methods to dance along with the melody. As the lines stream out of the park, my ear buds go in to avoid solicitors and heading back to the studio with a rejuvenated creative focus and a late night ahead of me, inspired and excited to return for day 2.

Day 2: The Antlers, The National and Everyone else...

Walking in with at least a handful of bands excited to see on Saturday, knowing that my schedule was already prohibiting me from seeing Cymbals Eat Guitar. I was very persistent to make The Antlers first showing in Chicago. A primary objective to get a full day worth of great music and to avoid the annoying nuances that sometimes come with festival environs. Especially given this turned out to be my final day at Pitchfork, opportunities disallowed me from returning for Sunday’s lineup.
The Antlers played Stage B: and seemed to have attracted a decent crowd, enough for Peter Siberling to comment. Off the bat, the band builds a strong ambience of sound; Darcy Cicci the keyboardist, emulating an organist on Sunday service while a hunched over Peter perfectly wails out lines of “Kettering”. I realize as I type this, one could question my psyche’s development from my upbringing in a Catholic private school, but Peter has a tendency in between verses to face the drummer, Michael Lerner, much like a Roman Catholic priest delivering a musical sermon. The Antlers live do an excellent job at recreating that personal journey one can take with their music, a remedy much needed to drown out the cackles and fumes from the surrounding crowds. The set is definitely set up as an annotated version of their new album, Hospice. In our interview, the fictional character Peter most related himself to was Kevin Arnold from TV’s The Wonder Years. This is quickly realized as you see him dancing onstage tearing into his guitar in a short sleeve plaid shirt. They smoothly transition us into “Bear” the fourth of the set, and the inattentive mumblers of the crowd finally look up. I was a bit disappointed with the sound boards at this point, on no fault of the band, I would have hoped for less volume on the keyboards as Peter’s voice was little lost. But hey, it was outdoors. Anyway, regardless it was a beautiful buildup at the end as Peter thanks the crowd again along with Pitchfork. A little drizzle falls from the sky as “Two” the next to last song of the set begins, and the band conclude appropriately with “Epilogue”. An amazingly big voice, it’s an awe-inspiring thing when someone’s voice live can recreate the same chills when first hearing their album. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Antlers!!! WOW!!! Its pretty intriguing how the rain fell throughout their somber ridden set and clears out with the end of their performance. I feel like I’m starting this day off on the right bat.
Moving onto the rest of the day, it became very difficult for me to settle down and focus on anyone’s full set. Much like a pinball I bounced all over the place, I’m sure running into friends who had no specific preference of bands they wanted to see until later in the afternoon. The energy coming off stage from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart on Stage A was pretty amazing and seemed rather contagious as they drew was sizable and participatory. Back to the Bowerbirds on B, who’s sweet and tender set remedies the fact the masses of crowds are getting larger. I have to admit Owen Pallett’s side project, Final Fantasy was something I knew very little about. But the way he played his violin was absolutely mesmerizing. I was completely pulled toward Stage C, where this one-man act was set up on the front right hand corner of the stage, but eloquently playing this modern symphony of emotion. One mostly assumes that violin lessons are parental enforced activities but the thought sometimes alludes me that maybe this generation of younger siblings actually enjoyed what they learned. It is becoming more of a trend to see these multi-talented musicians who are creating these orchestrated pieces of music that aren’t necessarily incorporating the standard 3-piece outfit. For one of the final songs in his set, Zach Condon of Beirut joined Owen on stage integrating a horn section for a track that will be on the upcoming Final Fantasy album. This is an example of the still positive aspects in music festivals. The discovery and excitement of a newly stumbled upon musician as the obvious drive and creative obsession from that artist is stimulating and can be a bright spot in the overbearingly annoying crowds of people who sometimes appear not to care about the music. The afternoon at this point began to blur together as there were pleasant sounds coming from the stages nothing that really enraptured me enough to struggle through the labyrinth of passed out drunks sprawled out on the ground catching a breather. Our group was looking forward to Beirut’s performance so we killed what time was left replenishing ourselves while people watching. I was also at this point mapping out Sunday’s schedule of shows still unknowing that I wasn’t going to be able to return.
Beirut played Stage A: and definitely attracted a decent crowd while it was noticeable that some folks were already claiming stake for the evening’s closers The National. This is a first time for me, as I am not too familiar with all of Beirut’s music but have always known I would enjoy it regardless. The sound is very similar to an old bandstand sextet playing next to the track at an old European train station. If the fictional French character “Amelie” had a male counterpart I don’t doubt it would be the music of Beirut, as you are transported to a small mountain town, it’s the old world instrumentation. There is culturally rich flavor to the sound and re imagines lives of those old family black & whites. Ultimately, I did move over towards Stage C, since The National was a big reason that I stayed throughout the day, but really enjoyed the remainder of the set and added Beirut to my regular play list.
In the bath of blue lights, The National arrives on stage and introduces themselves. The first song, “Runaway” is something new, slower tempo, the crowd is quieting taking the song in; as stragglers still file into empty spots. Matt Beringer takes a sip from his beverage and the guitars launch us into “Start a War”. The stage appears to be very crowded, something of a horn section peeks out from the right hand side, along with a violinist/keyboardist and not to mention the brothers Dessner and Devendorf all flank Matt’s baritone melodies. There is an effortlessness to their delivery, as they seem to make it appear very easy and graceful. Matt mentions something about the next song about it being a jam or no jam that tonight will be jam, “Vanderlylle Cry Baby”. These small hints of what we’re to expect are very promising. Aaron Dessner, plays his guitar with a bow in hand sparks my curiosity if they’re experimenting at all with their sound. There’s a casualness to Matt’s demeanor as he watches the brothers play, as though they were jamming on the back porch of a house. A build up and production is made as everyone toasted the next song “Squalor Victoria”. Matt’s blood is pumping as he screams, “Squalor Victoria!!!” I am reminded of old Nirvana tracks by some of the guitar feedback and dissonance that begins “Abel”. The tempo is then slowed down as the echoes of the Black Lips’ screeches are in the background; the snare and orchestrated claps lead us into “All the Wine”. The keyboard begins; “Fake Empire” presumably will return us to their regularly scheduled higher tempo show. By the end of the song the Dessners are raising their guitars, as the violin wails.
After thanking Pitchfork, Bryce Dessner notes their last visit in Chicago was in 95°weather as he is presently bundled up in a hoodie. The third and final new song of the evening is titled “Blood Buzz” and begins with a drum heavy and horny (haha) mid tempo track. The set is concluded with the wildly popular “Mr. November”. Matt’s voice unwinds a bit through the chorus and he ultimately jumps into the crowd, sitting up facing us, screaming the chorus at the top of his lungs. The band returns to stage for an encore song "Daughter of a Soho Riot"; the violinist strums his instrument like a uke. There is this I daresay epic sound in how they deliver their music and a variety of how a band chooses to jam out a song. I file out with the rest of the crowd stepping over the passed out hurriedly zipping through my play lists wanting to review the daylong list of sets and to revisit the highlights of the day. I was also eager to attempt to finish up some pressing work that needed to get accomplished in order to return in a timely manner for the festival’s final day, which also included a large number of the bands I had been anticipating.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pitchfork Spotlight: Flaming Lips

Straight out of Oklahoma City, Wayne Coyne and company are still finding ways to jostle the standards of genre bending ideas that he originated himself. It was this strange and alternative originality that first peaked my interests way back in high school, with Transmissions from the Satellite Heart it wasn't until later, more mature years that I actually appreciated the creativity this band exudes as my copy of The Soft Bulletin eventually was scraped all to hell as a result of overplay. I was fortunate enough to catch them live on the "Unlimited Sunshine Tour" which supported their hugely breakout hit album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I could not believe at the time there was a way to respect a band more. It was unfathomable how The Flaming Lips could continually find a refreshing and energetic way to translate the eccentric ideas that float through the psyche of Wayne Coyne. Approaching their 23rd year of existence, fans prepare for the October release of their double album, Embryonic. The frontman has been quoted as to describe the new release as a "freak-out vibe". To be honest with you, it's very difficult to note the band's accolades without presenting it in some sort of lifetime achievement fashion. From what has been either played live this summer or was released online is proving true the next evolving step in the band's over accomplished career.
In his lyrics, Wayne Coyne is able to bridge the trippy, hallucinatory experiences of a lucid dream with the internal conversations in one's mind on a daily basis. Prior to the resurgence of the mind-bending sounds of psychedelic rock; the Flaming Lips were breaking ground in creating an alternate universe without the negative repercussions of an adverse trip. His words are direct and are LSD laced to allow his listeners to sometimes peek at the realities of society that everyone works hard to mask behind their dummy smiles. "Do You Realize" is the official state rock song of Oklahoma. I didn't realize (no pun intended) that states chose those sort of things. I read a recent interview with Coyne where he talked a little about it. "Little by little we discovered that your art isn't sacrificed by the absurd things that happen in your life...So we got the State Rock Song, and we just accept whatever absurdities come with it. Take the good, take the bad, and fuck it, man."
"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1" is a song that has always stood out to me. Being a literal artist my imagination grasped tightly onto this track and continuously transports me to an anime-like environment following Yoshimi's defeat of her large metallic antagonists. There is a multi-layered facet as the numerous emotions that are intertwined with the struggles of human relations are dissected and investigated under this space rock sci-fi microscope. All this passion and sentiment is emitted throughout this concept driven song .

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pitchfork Spotlight: Built to Spill

On Friday night, I will finally get to see one of the bands that had a pivotal role in changing what sort of music I listened to. Built to Spill, has been teasing us for three years now with the hint of a follow up release to 2006's You In Reverse. Doug Martsch's constant experimentation and intricately conducted guitar play has evolved into a well versed orchestrated retrospective of Built to Spill's catalog of albums thus far. The band is based out of Boise, Idaho and from what recent reports have stated has undergone a face lift that should result in a BTS record that is like no other. Friday being, "Write the Night" evening of fan decided set lists, Martsch has hinted not to expect new and upcoming tracks but an evening of all our old favorites. In 2008, the band played for a select few shows in it's entirety, Perfect From Now On.
The lyrics in Built to Spill songs read very much like a personal recounting of experiences both good and bad of what is seeming a pessimistic hopeless romantic. All introverted guys alike unite as a cape of courage is unveiled in Martsch's music writing. Already a band, not to sound unPC very masculine with long dreamy guitar shredding tales; the lyrics are a wonderful compliment exhibiting subjects and themes that vary from constellations and love to the self awareness of an aging man and his natural responses to his surroundings. For me personally, I relate to his lyrics in the sense that our lives are a series of instances and experiences but we enter this world alone and leave it the same way, and everything in the middle may not be the best but at least we paved a direction for ourselves.
"Else" is the internal patter of a man's excitement to feel an exhilarated sense of something new. The surprising elation after a previous breakup has lost hope and is renewed by the way she touches your hand. The nervousness that shoots through your body and has you wobbly at your knees....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pitchfork Spotlight: Cymbals Eat Guitars

Sometimes I check out bands just because of the oddity of whatever name they've concocted for themselves. Without an expectation in sight, I found myself wanting to listen to the next track with that growing desire to hear everything the band has to offer. Cymbals Eat Guitars are a band from New York City, who mostly began playing together in high school, covering Weezer songs. Their debut album, Why There Are Mountains is mapped out like a legend of a travel hungry group of guys who want to see everything that isn't NYC. I cannot help feeling nostalgic for early Built to Spill and Modest Mouse records, as Cymbals Eat Guitars create this buildup in their album utilizing a variety of instrumentation layering on each other to create a tonal depth in each track. Their music creates a true destination of unknowingness and the mysteries that lie ahead, during this journey this gem of an album, unravels its true beauty.
CEG approaches grand ideas and tackling the darker aspects of one's self while exhibiting an awe struck love of our natural surroundings. I was stunned when I learned that Joseph Dagostino and Matt Miller were the tender age of 19 in the onset of this band. Based on the depth of the music exhibited in this initial trek, one cannot help but to be impressed by the wisdom and maturity of the two well beyond their years in their skill set and music making process.
"Wind Phoenix" is a true desert treasure recreating a wasteland of a lounge act's oeuvre and building the listener's expectation for an unknowing explosion of emotion. The paradox of this song is how the essence of the desolate towns of the old West are the setting for this amorous dote on what sounds to be a young man's in room entertainment experience with a female escort. The heat and buzz of the small town's motel sign overpowers the deafening silence and the incoherent brain waves that have the newly ingrained image of a single meeting with her.

Pitchfork Spotlight: Blitzen Trapper

Growing Fur, dragons in the sky and a hideously creepy story of a serial killer sung in the first person. These are some of the themes making appearances in Blitzen Trapper's most recent album, Furr. A sextet out of Portland, Oregon whose music emits the scent of 70s Psychedelic, Indie Folk and a lyrical imagination that far surpasses the standard of any current band. Still newly acquainted I have the pleasure of gaining a better grasp with an endless catalog of fantastical explorations they have concocted thus far. In their music, Blitzen Trapper are able to address every aspect or theory in a man's life and spin a journey through the cracks of reality to create ulterior perspectives we all can approach each new day with. Eric Earley, BT's lead singer and songwriter is a contemporary poet ramblin' through the spectacular beauties of mother nature as he serenades her in a fashion similar to Thoreau or Frost. The listener is ultimately able to relate and feel the overall sensation of love that recurrs through many shapes and forms in Furr.
"Black River Killer" is a dark and twisted tale narrated by a serial killer who struggles with his internal desires to enjoy this sadistic love of murder. The song takes place in the first person which allows the listener to see a human side of this monster enjoys revisiting an aspect of his psyche that is torturous to see an inner struggle and find some sympathy for a man's frustrating passion to return to his negative ways. If a negatively natured child is raised by kind, God swearing people will they remain the same or is there enough positive in their parents' hearts to deter them from a unwanted path. A man is split into two dealing with these struggles and has a tendency to lose his own identity. The question is, which side will he pick?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pitchfork Spotlight: Frightened Rabbit

Sometimes you come across a band that immediately catches your ear and the lyrics are instantly relatable. You don't always pay attention to the band's name or you're preoccupied with a mindful of other things. Before you realize it the name has slipped your mind and the song is ingrained in your head. Luckily my "OCD" to find out every last detail leaving no stone unturned worked in my favor. This exploration rewarded me with The Midnight Organ Fight the second album from the Scottish troupe Frightened Rabbit. A band started as a moniker for a solo project by its lead singer Scott Hutchison. He has created lyrics that embody a bleeding heart that is unapologetically thrown on the table. It is difficult not to relate to his desperation apparent in his up front blatantly honest verbal explosions of the pain he feels. Their second album primarily focuses on the lost love as Hutchison struggles through his lyrics to re mend his broken heart from what seems to have been a heart-wrenching travesty. His bluntness in addressing his feelings is a welcome transition from the expected indie pop track that has a tendency to sugar coat their saddened perspectives. Hutchison mentioned the next album will not center on a breakup given there hasn’t been a relationship to be broken. He moved on to say it is more about creating distance and feeling lost in this environ of solitude one can create for themselves. Definitely a concept every man considers in his adult life, if he states otherwise he is lying to himself.

“The Modern Leper” is the opening track of The Midnight Organ Fight, and sets the tone for what the listener can expect from this introspective album of personal grief. It addresses the concept one has in a relationship ship when optimism fails and reality sets. The internal questioning of one’s self worth and the gratitude and resentment they hold for the other for dealing with their faults and continue to ignore the obvious issues never addressed. More importantly, the listener bears witness to the self-deprecating behavior an adult can deal with based on the shotty upbringing by their parents that has overwhelmed their daily lives. It’s an ambiguous role that exposes the victim’s inner child’s struggle to overcome their parent’s close-minded perspective and hope to feel unashamed about themselves.

Inspired by a photo from Gregory Crewdson

The Modern Leper

You can see Frightened Rabbit on Sunday at stage C @ 1:45, and that evening at @ 8.

Frightened Rabbit

Pitchfork Spotlight: Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear is a Brooklyn based band, with a sound uncategorized and is dominated with acoustic guitars and harmonized vocals. Becoming familiar with this band during their hibernation from the studio, I approached the music with trepidation. I have a tendency to avoid hyped bands for fear my expectations are going to be dashed. Intrigued by a live performance of “Two Weeks” in its early stages on Letterman, I was ready to finally approach the Yellow House with all of its shoe gazing, anti folk genre blending generalizations. In this introductory opus, music is interwoven layer upon layer to create this spectacular sensorial stimulant. Much like the themes in their songs, words cannot fully describe the amazing ness emitted from Grizzly Bear’s music. I would say this is the closest thing to a beautifully danced ballet or a complex themed opera. So many attributes to a classical presence with the modernity of a love struck indie rock band. To contrast this strong overture, this summer the band has introduced us to Veckatimest (Ve-cot-a-must) named after an abandoned New England island and what the band describes as a more accessible album than their previous work. It might be true to some extent where the ideas are graspable but yet not completely obtainable. It is a puzzle that one enjoys to attempt to solve but is constantly challenged with the next obstacle. In discussing the lyrics in Veckatimest, Ed Droste said there is a common enjoyment of keeping lyrics vague and ambiguous mentioning a favorite aspect of the band’s own listening habits is finding their own meaning in the music.

“Cheerleader” is this unclear hazy proclamation of one’s reflections of a past role in high school, defining the personal realization of how meaningless those activities were in actuality. The instrumentation creates a chanting pep rally that reiterates the delusions of grandeur a teenager has of themselves in that stage in their life.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pitchfork Spotlight: The National

As of late, The National have etched a definitive name for themselves in the music industry. Not only does this presence include the Dessner bros. curating what is being considered one of the best albums of the year, Dark Was the Night. Not to mention they have managed four albums (six, including EPs) that get stronger with each listen. The band is based out of Brooklyn, New York but consists of friends transplanted from Cincinnati. The band consists of a pair of brother sets (The Brothers Dessner and Devendorf), who mainly cover the instruments and Matt Berninger who covers the song writing and is the primary vocal throughout. Reportedly either back in the studio already or preparing to be there, audiences of recent performances have been getting a taste of new songs. Initially only being familiar with the latter two LPs (Alligator, Boxer) and the Cherry Tree EP, I have recently delved myself into their first two albums. It is quite enjoyable to see how a band evolves creatively and from each album learn what is successful for them and then see that transference in the next album. . In an interview earlier this year, Matt spoke about staying true to an artist’s ability to welcome change in their personal journey as an artist. For a band that has had a lot of growing success to address such a grounded issue all artists face regularly, its respectable. It restores any faith that is dissolved by bands that find success and forget their creative ways.

I find myself yearning for a time frame when things seemed much simpler. There is a certain nostalgic quality emitted from their music and is very reminiscent of growing up in a pre 911 America, the smell of firecrackers in the air, eyes red from chlorine and less violence on TV and in the world. The lyrics and themes throughout the catalog of songs place the listener as the first person recipient of endearing thoughts, unsaid words and eloquently laid lover letters. I have a feeling if Lloyd Dobler existed in the 21st century, boom box overhead The National would be blaring from it. Matt’s crooner baritone voice begs for everyone’s attention in its straightforward romanticized manner.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

8½ Days To Go...

I know technically it's probably still nine, but most of today is complete. I've been busy enjoying all the great shows coming through Chicago for the summer and have seem to have strayed away from what was the original plan. I am going to be working around the clock though to get up some band spotlights for the folks I'm looking forward to see. I was also able to score some interviews with The Antlers,Vivian Girls and The Walkmen. Hopefully I can get those finished for the festival weekend. Check out the link below to find out when your favorite bands are playing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

[Live Review] Local Natives, New York, Bowery Ballroom, 6.6.09

Inspired by a photo from Lindsey Best

It was a fortuitous occasion for me during the week I was in New York City, Local Natives were opening up for Blind Pilot at the Bowery Ballroom. They are a band catching a lot of buzz and well deserved at that out of Silver Lake, California. They are definitely living up to their label of one of the hardest working bands, constantly on tour and in full DIY mode. I get more and more excited for their unreleased album, Gorilla Manor every time I hear a new track from them. I found out about the Local Natives on the website, Daytrotter who posts live sessions with indie bands who visit the studio in Rock Island, IL. I was enamored by what I heard, a mix of sounds, emotions and genres in these very personalized songs recounting memories and life in a heart felt manner.

The Bowery Ballroom, a venue with an interesting history seems like a seedy maze in a modern pulp film. The downstairs bar, red tinted intriguing yet confusing where exactly the stage was. Finally unveiled through two back doors, the crowd is herded up another set of stairs and we end up back at street level. The stage was set up with what appeared three bands worth of instruments. The Local Natives were set to play second of a 3-bill show. At 11p, the band nonchalantly walked on stage gear up and began a foot stomping and impressive set of what I hope will be the majority of what their first LP should be. Their friend Amanda Salazar, who occasionally plays violin at live shows, is touring with the band on the east coast leg. At the time I'm still unsure which band member name belonged to which face. I was filled with curiosity to see which sound came from whom. At times instruments and positions were swapped out for certain songs. The Local Natives have a true collaborative approach on their music making process, much like a cross-country road trip each has a turn at the wheel. I do remember at one point, seven instruments being played by six people. The crowd was not disappointed, the band played a strong nine song set list that was not only heart felt but also just downright jamming. Conversation was comedic and light hearted in between songs as peculiar requests from the audience were turned down and we were updated on the misfortune of receiving 3 tickets the previous night from the NYPD.

Ultimately, I was rewarded with getting to hear 4 tracks that I hadn’t heard prior to the show, and bought a kick ass EP to as Taylor put it, “help them get to the next town.” The one downfall I must say was not from the band but the fact their stage time was so limited. It’s a good sign when a show ends and your left wanting to hear more based on the shear fact its great music. To be honest with you, I did consider the unrealistic idea of making the trek up to Wisconsin to peek them out one more time, even in the shotty weather at the time. At last, all I can hope is for a possible future show in Chicago, until then please look forward to an interview I had with Taylor as we countdown the days to an unknown release date of Gorilla Manor. The bandwagon is making regular stops climb aboard!

Local Natives

Outta Sight