Off Beat Music Guide

Concert Review: The Middle East April 26, 2010

Filed under: Concerting,Music,Uncategorized — bethstephenson84 @ 12:03 pm
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Where: The Masquerade- Atlanta, GA

When: April 24, 2010

Although The Middle East was technically the opening band on Saturday night, I didn’t have the heart to just lump them into my review of Frightened Rabbit. I figured it just wouldn’t be right, especially considering I was a tinge more excited about seeing them than FR. That’s not to say FR isn’t good, but I’ve had a major music crush on The Middle East since I first heard their album last October (so much so that they secured the #18 spot on my Best of 2009 list).

Here’s the delightfully off-beat video for “Blood”.

This was my first concert at Atlanta’s creepiest music scene, The Masquerade, and I hate to say it, but I was underwhelmed by the venue. (And it wasn’t just because I didn’t get to see any ghosts or vampires in the reportedly haunted old mill.) My disappointment mainly lies in my old age. This club, which is open to all ages, must be a social hangout for teenagers in the city who are hoping to guilt an old 25-year old like myself into buying them a beer or something. And because I don’t want to add any more angst to those already raging teenage hormones by supply them alcohol, I generally avoid this kind of scene altogether. In short, the crowd was just annoyingly loud and disrespectful to the bands; and I gather from their endless prattle throughout all three sets, they were not there to hear music.

This was most evident during The Middle East’s far too short set. The band played about 6 songs with little to no dialogue in between. In truth, it probably took them longer to set their equipment up than it did to play all of their songs.

I have no complaints other than the length of their set, though. The 7 (!) member band from Oz, whose beautifully melancholy album The Recordings of the Middle East won me over last year, surprised us all by playing several robust numbers complete with energetic percussion, a bustling trumpet and the often overlooked accordion. But then I guess they would need all of those instruments to keep all 7 band members busy!

I would like to say that you could hear a pin drop when they played “The Darkest Side,” but sadly, as I mentioned before, the crowd seemed less than interested in hearing the music. What I could hear of the song was simply beautiful, with Jordan Ireland and Rohin Jones’ perfect harmonies blending softly with the strumming of the acoustic guitar.

My personal favorite “Blood” started softly and eased its way into the catchy bells and whistles of the latter half of the song. Even with the bleakest of lyrics you couldn’t help but whistle along to the cheery music of the melody.

As for their appearance, this band looked like a rag tag band of misfits, but I loved every minute of their eclecticness.  For those of you who know me, I have a fond appreciation for a fully grown beard, and I was not left disappointed by the male members of this band.   Bravo gentlemen, bravo.

Here are a couple of videos from the show.

The Darkest Side

Blood

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Concert Review: Vampire Weekend April 14, 2010

Filed under: Concerting,Music — bethstephenson84 @ 12:32 pm
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Where: The Tabernacle- Atlanta, GA

When: April 8, 2010

On the list of things that make me happy, somewhere near the top you might find these three things: having fun, listening to good music and watching white guys dance. Luckily for me I hit the happiness jackpot last week at the Vampire Weekend concert.

The opening band, Abe Vigoda, was a dud to say the least. Understandably, opening bands need to be a little less awesome than the headliner (with the exception of Dirty Projectors, who were much better than their headliner, TV on the Radio) but this was either a bad night for the band or a bad pick on the part of VW. Whatever the case, I found Abe Vigoda to be uninspired, copy-cat versions of whatever 80’s band is on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack. Nothing new or fresh from this band. Sorry, but I am feeling brutal today.

Vampire Weekend on the other hand was just as you would expect them to be: young, energetic and fun. But I think I was most (pleasantly) surprised by how good they sound live; almost the exact vocal quality of their albums. Ezra Koenig breezed through falsetto riffs and didn’t lose a beat on that tongue-twister “Cousins.” And the harmonies were nothing short of pop  loveliness.

As for the white boy dance moves, I’ve never seen any better than those of bassist Chris Baio. I could have come to the concert just to see Baio’s moves and I would have left completely satisfied. This boy’s prancing faun-like moves are truly amazing; something to be marveled at.

The band did a nice job of incorporating songs from both Vampire Weekend and Contra into the setlist. Here’s how it went down:

  1. White Sky
  2. Holiday
  3. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
  4. I Stand Corrected
  5. M79
  6. Bryn
  7. California English
  8. Cousins
  9. Taxi Cab
  10. Run
  11. A-Punk
  12. One (Blake’s Got A New Face)
  13. Diplomat’s Son
  14. Giving Up the Gun
  15. Campus
  16. Oxford Comma

Encore:

  1. Horchata
  2. Mansard Roof
  3. Walcott

I think the Tabernacle probably oversold tickets to this show which made the viewing a little uncomfortable, but I still had a really good time. I think it’s just humanly impossible to be unhappy when you hear these guys play live.  “Fun” just sums it up nicely.

Here are some videos I shot at the concert. Pardon the girl in front of me who insisted on doing her hippie dance throughout the entire concert…what can you do? And if you’d like a laugh, check out my video for “Run” where I bust it about ¾ of the way through. Classic Beth move. Enjoy!

And as always, you can check out more videos from this show and other’s on my YouTube channel.

Cousins


Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

White Sky

Run

 

Concert Review: Japandroids April 6, 2010

Filed under: Concerting,Music — bethstephenson84 @ 12:15 pm
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Where: Snug Harbor- Charlotte, NC

When: March 27, 2010

If you go to a Japandroids concert looking for a band to embody the name, I don’t know that you will leave satisfied. There are no Japanese band members or robots to speak of. No intergalactic space sounds or foreign languages spoken. There are just two skinny white guys, some drums and a guitar.

But don’t be fooled. What this band may lack in size, they more than make up for in sound and energy. Indeed, these guys rock out with a sound much more equivalent to a sextet, something I credit almost solely to singer/guitarist Brian King’s seemingly endless amounts of energy.

I was constantly perplexed at how he wasn’t pulling muscles or giving himself whip lash throughout the almost 90 minute set. Even drummer David Prowse seemed to look on in amazement (and sometimes amusement) at King’s exuberant presence on the tiny stage at Snug Harbor. And he plays with the guy every night!

It’s this kind of energy that makes this band’s music so infectious. There’s nothing particular jaw-dropping about their musical skills, not to say they aren’t talented. It’s just that this band could have easily made a cliché album with their 2009 release, Post-Nothing.  Two guys making loud, teen-angst type music in their garage seems like it should have played out in the 90’s, and yet it feels fresh and interesting with this band.

This is a band you listen to or go see when you just want to have some fun. The less than complex lyrics (often shouted in unison by the band mates) make for the perfect backdrop to a skuzzy, beer guzzling type bar.

Snug Harbor, where I saw Japandroids play, holds about 150 people and I image this was the perfect setting to hear this band play live. If the venue were any bigger, you would lose the magnetism of King’s onstage antics. And if it were any smaller, you would probably get kicked in the face as a result of King’s onstage antics.

I have a feeling that this band has a pretty exciting future of ahead of them. I don’t think they will ever sell out arenas or have legions of followers, but I do think they will be part of a new movement of underground rock that will hopefully redefine the mainstream.

I wasn’t able to get any video footage of the band, so you will have to accept my blurry photos as proof of King’s massive stage presence. If you get a chance to see this band live, it will be more than worth the meager fee you’ll pay for the tickets. Do yourself a favor and just go.

Japandroids

 

Music Videos of the Week April 2, 2010

Filed under: Music,Music News,Music Video,New Release,Now Hear This — bethstephenson84 @ 3:51 pm
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Here are two new videos that I was very excited to see released this week. Two completely different styles for two completely different bands. Love them both.

MGMT- Flash Delirium

Band of Horses- Compliments

 

Gabriel Covers Bon Iver and Vice Versa

Filed under: Music,Music News,New Release — bethstephenson84 @ 3:39 pm
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As most of you know, if you read my blog, I am a pretty big fan of Bon Iver and basically anything that Justin Vernon touches.

A couple of months ago I was pleasantly surprised to see that Mr. Peter Gabriel had done a lovely cover of Bon Iver’s “Flume” for his recently release album, Scratch My Back. Critics have been pretty mixed in their reviews of Gabriel’s album which include covers of songs by David Bowie, Neil Young, Arcade Fire and Radiohead to name a few. Here’s his version of “Flume”:

Today I ran across an article from Stereogum detailing Vernon’s reciprocal cover of Gabriel’s “Come Talk To Me.” Both “Come Talk To Me” and “Flume” will be released by Jagjaguwar on April 17. Don’t go looking for on iTunes though. It will be released in limited quantity on a split 7”.

I think both covers are lovely, but I am pretty bias (reference Sentence 1). Judge for yourself.