Friday, April 16, 2010

Coachella Set Times and Chicago's Record Store Day Festivities


The festivities commenced a little over an hour and a half ago, as many of folks flocked to the deserts of Indio, CA for this year's Coachella Festival. Unfortunately some acts (Frightened Rabbit, The Cribs) have been forced to cancel their performances due to the airborne toxicity from the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Fingers crossed these cancellations are kept to a minimum; also as Record Store Day has once again fallen on the same weekend as Coachella, the fine people of Zia Records will have a record store onsite. A bundle of artists will be stopping by for signings...On that note, in Chicago Permanent Records will have a free grab bag while supplies last and will conduct their annual Flaming Lips' Zaireeka Boombox Experiment. Reckless Records will host live performances from local acts at all three locations. And finally just past the edge of the city, Rogue Wave will be at Rolling Stone Records for a signing at 11:30. Pitchfork has been ever so kind to list out the endless amount of releases one could expect when making their way through the record store tomorrow. For those wanting to pretend they're in the desert Coachella's set times are listed here.



Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Grand Introduction of Lawrence Arabia-Lincoln Hall, Chicago, 4.7.10

With much intrigue, I arrive early to catch the opener New Zealander, Lawrence Arabia. The stage is filled with five bearded men playing in a gritty bluesy rock fashion, harmonizing and complimenting Lawrence's tender and warm hearted vocals. Psychedelic black lights flash as the guys shudder around playing with intensity a full-bodied guitar rock. His lyrics a personal recounting of experiences pleasant and forgettable maneuvering the set's overall tonality through an array of emotions varying from jovial, sentimental and bitterly nostalgic. Romanticism gushes from stage in the grand caribbeanesque “Aukland CBD Part 2”, as Lawrence smoothly croons the crowd of former love. He cynically notes another dream related song, softly singing in a Buddy Holly fashion slowly unraveling his adolescent fantasies.

His prime ministers compliments him in harmonic style returning to a higher tempo with a beachy melody as smoke rises and the tambourine clatters. The band playfully jests with the venue's fog machine controller, beckoning a spray then quickly proclaiming too much. There is an overall pleasant way of their sound, familiarly blending past eras in a poppy singalong aesthetic as though offspring of Sgt. Pepper. His music an orchestral retelling of lost love letters of life leaving a certain Joie de Vivre in the air. Thanking the crowd and Fanfarlo once more before singing their final melody; a playful song of the pleasantries surrounding a beach environ. Stalling with the echoing sonorous do das before ultimately deconstructing in a dissonance of sound and a fog of the smoke machine.


Lawrence Arabia

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Go Home and Make Lots of Babies" Beach House-Metro, Chicago 4.2.10

Arriving to another packed house, the floor full of smooshed together fans gazing at the unveiling of the sparkly tacky chic stage d├ęcor the Baltimore duo has orchestrated for the evening's performance. Victoria Legrand's smoky sultry vocals have resinated in my head since their previous Chicago stop in November. The band's third album, Teen Dream a far front runner for the year's top spot has not left the current playlist since it's initial release in January. I am excited to see how these songs have evolved given the fact, I had some insight on many of the songs interviewing the pair prior to the album's release. After a brief introduction from sponsorship the lights dim and the duo arrive on stage with their touring drummer, Daniel Franz. Alex Scally greets the crowd thanking everyone for having them back, easing into the their set. Victoria dressed in what seems to be her “showman's” blazer half dancing as she pounds down on the keyboard. Alex taps along on his foot pedal as they sing of life's melodramas and the assortment of emotions paired with it's grand spectrum while epic chords overdramatize the mundane in an iridescently beautiful manner.

Hunched over her keyboard, Victoria gracefully moans and vividly unravels each line echoing throughout the theater, hanging in everyone's hearts sinking in as she sways back and forth. With demanding force she punches the air fiercely singing each delicately delivered verse, before the catchy hook rings in and Legrande sidesteps left and right. Thanking opener Bachelorette, Alex quickly explains the next song an R rated version of something (unfortunately I didn't really understand the subject of his commentary). Each song an epic vignette, disjointed noises echo throughout as the light shines hauntingly upward into Victoria's face. Playing with such ease, she drinks water while punching each note, as the anfractuous sounds come from Alex's mystery box. He alternates from sitting to standing with a half dance in a cock-eyed manner blaring the jovial lighthearted “Used to Be”.
Legrand dances while lyrically beckoning for her love's return home, missing one's enchanted past. She takes a moment to comment on the crowd's emission of excitement before resuming play with the opening chords of “Zebra”; passionately singing over the cymbal crash. Wailing her heart stricken emotion into the air, face dimly lit and hidden behind hair; Victoria serenades her innermost desires in dramatic fashion as the fog creates an ambience of mystery. She comically announces before they're last song the evening a perfect night for the audience to make many babies with love in the air. Swaying hunched over her keyboard singing her romanticized ideas, ensuring care to her focused love ending the evening's set. The crowd roars with applause staring up at the stage as the sparkled confettied diamonds rotate. They quickly return, jesting with pleasantries and stalling before beginning “Real Love” with an a cappella onset before raising tempo with each pound on the keys. Keeping that lighthearted atmosphere the trio finish off with “10 Mile Stereo” Legrand's voice reverberating a sense of longing for a former love. She desirously beckons in her entrancing slow delivery as Alex's playful melody sprinkles a dose of enchantment . The smoke rises clouding the stage and the three hunched over their instruments holding their note in conclusion.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"I Just Want it to Sound Good for You" Spoon-Aragon Theatre, Chicago, 4.1.10

Arriving in the nick of time, speaker music blares overhead the seemingly packed house of the mix of fraternity and hipster crowd of all ages. Lights turn off and the crowd turn around half-heartedly still conversing until Brit Daniel arrives on stage alone with his acoustic guitar. He greets the crowd and begins singing the classic, “Me and the Bean” setting the tone for the evening's set; ultimately fiercely strumming similarly to a mariachi guitarist. Stage lights shine and Eric Harvey joins Daniel supporting his intimate rendition of “Mystery Zone” on keyboards. The remainder of the band arrive, drowned in red and the bang on the piano keys raise the tempo while Daniel's scratchy voice reverberates throughout the theatre. Jim Eno begins pounding on the drums and Britt ditches his jacket, quickly revving his guitar prompting annoying drunken hipsters to cleverly invent peculiar dances. The Austin quintet have mastered this musical form of retaining this chaotic quality while orchestrating these harmonious melodies, playing these complex riffs in a simplified manner. The spotlight returns to Harvey, with a ghostly echoing effect Daniel quickly spills out the lyrically vivid lines of “My Mathematical Mind”. Hunched over his guitar, at times kneeling down with the distortions of his guitar ringing out slowly submerging the crowd into this musical sea of nostalgic excitement and introspective beauty.

Totally immersed in their craft, the evening's setlist thus far reads like a greatest his album. Daniel and co. play as though they've orchestrated this concerto of masterful play; brilliantly transitioning the tempo and gracefully creating this cinematic ambience in their synchronization and focused play exhibiting this awesomeness on stage. With the alteration of color of lights, the set's mood mellows down. An alarming sound blares overhead, before the familiar notes of “Small Stakes” come from Harvey's keys. Listening to this song, I can't help think of the last time I saw Spoon live; it was eight years ago at the Abbey, an unforgettable evening. Since then, much finesse and maturity are apparent in the band's stage presence and eloquent play. I have come to expect faulty sound in the Aragon, but did not realize how troublesome it is for the artists, Britt has now noted again his annoyance. He announces the next a song by Wolf Parade, an endearing cover of “Modern World” played with a delicate Southwestern flair.
A meticulous production, Daniel narrates his intricate tales, full-bodied sound with a seamless quality transitioning the performance's tempo, unraveling in guitar play chaotically complimenting Daniel's composed delivery. The crowd begins dancing and moving along with the opening notes, “Don't You Evah”. He returns to his acoustic guitar, commenting once more of his inability to hear what they're playing; causing a sound person to confirm his inability. Fiercely strumming before Eno's drums kick in, Daniel serenades the audience; an array of instrumentation surround his unaffected raspy voice. A soft passionate exhalation of works packed with a toe-tapping rhythm. An explosive sound with an ear shattering drumroll, the jovial melody plays on ceasing with a chaotic spill of notes in the air, maracas continuing to rattle until, “Black Like Me” ultimately commences. A passionate recounting of experiences is what finishes this wonderful collection of the Austin quintet's catalogue of songs. Brit bows and exits the stage. Quickly returning, Daniel expresses gratefulness for the crowd's presence noting this their largest crowd in Chicago and modestly admitting a desire to sound good. The encore is filled with many Spoon classic tracks, crowd swaying back and forth; the music comes to an abrupt halt before Daniel revs his guitar back up as the spotlights flash throughout the crowd. He plays with intensity as the band waves good evening leaving the audience with the shuddering sound of distortion in the air.