Beer and Pavement

2013: What happened?

Posted in Beer, Life, Live, Meta, Mikkeller, Records by Zac on December 31, 2013

2013 Calendar from Never Sleeping

I have been absent from this blog and blogging in general. Honestly, I thought I was done with it. Life happened and time became scarce. It was time to move on…

…or so I thought.

Life happened in 2013 and sometimes there’s just no room for such frivolities like keeping a public journal or pretending to be a journalist. This is the year I started a PhD program – part-time, but a PhD nonetheless. It’s also the year we learned that we would be expecting another child around mid-February (2 months to go!). Throw on top of that a promotion to a supervisory role and a major expansion to our organization and you have a pretty busy year.

Normally, this hasn’t stopped me from writing. However, I needed to step back for a bit. This blogging thing gets in the way of living now and again. A break was in order. So, 2013 is pretty lame as far as blogging goes.

So, I’m thinking about doing this all again. Why? I don’t really know. It’s just an itch that needs to be scratched, I guess. I’m promising nothing. I won’t promise a certain quantity or quality of posts. I’m not promising anything in regards to topics. You know what I like. so, you can reasonably expect more of the same… for the most part.

I still listen to music. I have a favorites list for 2013, of course. It felt weird not tow write up a blog post on the subject, so I’ll include a bit about it. First of all, I won’t rank my favorites. I’ll just give you ten records you should check out.

The year was filled with old favorites as well as a running theme in my musical choices. Yo La Tengo released their best record in years with Fade. Especially amazing is the track “I’ll Be Around.” Another year and another Arcade Fire makes my year-end list. Unlike past releases, Reflektor is low on the thematic end, but it’s ueber-fresh. Kurt Vile’s Walkin on a Pretty Daze is my favorite KV record so far. Bill Callahan is Bill Callahan. Dream River is just another addition to what is becoming the best collection of songwriting in the modern indie era or something like that. I saw Thao Nguyen and her band The Get Down Stay Down earlier this year put on one of the best shows I’ve seen in Middle Missouri. Her record We the Common didn’t hurt either. The Chronicles of Marnia by Marnie Stern was a surprising discovery that fulfills my guitar noodling needs for another calendar year.

Then, there’s a list of records that continues a trend in my listening habits of recent years: grrl rock bands that sound like they’re straight out of 1995. Waxahatchee might be my most-listened to record of 2013. It sounds like my entire college years as seen through a small town lesbian. (I have no idea whether or not Katie Crutchfield is gay, nor do I care. I just imagine the main character in her songs to be this angst-ridden lesbian from 1994. It helps with the narrative, but it doesn’t have to be true.) Scout Niblett’s “Gun” was one of those songs I played over and over. The rest of the record isn’t filled with scrubs either. Radical Dads was a surprise find, but pretty aggressive in that 1994 kind of way. Marnie Stern is a one-womyn Van Halen. Lady and the Lamb was a last-second addition to the list, but Ripley Pine is certainly worth your time.

Of course, there are others that won’t make my list, but there always are. There are other lists I could add to this one, but I’ll just conclude with a list of memorable things and events from the year that saw me lose my blogging groove only to find it once more…

  • My beer fandom has faded a bit, but I’ve had some outstanding brews this year. Follow me at Untappd.
  • I went to Copenhagen and spent lots of time drinking my way through Mikkeller‘s lineup.
  • I watched a lot of TV. The League, Walking Dead, and Girls are highlights.
  • I don’t read enough books or watch enough films.
  • I saw Jeff Mangum perform twice, once with the rest of Neutral Milk Hotel and once solo.
  • I don’t remember whether or not I mentioned this, but we found out earlier this year that my partner is pregnant. Child 2 arrives in mid-to-late February.

Here’s to a fruitful 2014. I hope you all are well. Peace.

Friendly Faces and Bill Callahan

Posted in Life, Live by Zac on May 9, 2013

One reason I have blogged for so long (although not very often as of late) is that I enjoy the discussions that occur. I’ve made a lot of friends through blogging, some of whom I’ve never met in-person. Hell, I have over 830 friends on Facebook, a high percentage I’ve never talked to face-to-face. I love that I have so many virtual friends. It’s kept me sane in times I felt alone.

Still, it’s nice to see a friendly face now and again, to shake an actual hand. And I was able to do a lot of that at the Bill Callahan show.

As soon as I entered Mojo’s patio preceding the actual venue, I was greeted with friendly faces chilling, enjoying the nice weather. There were friendlies at the merch table and every step between me and the bar. People I usually hang with at another bar were at the end of Mojo’s bar. On my way there, I passed friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. And more pals, acquaintances,  friends-of-friends, etc. poured in from the back as Callahan’s set neared.

You don’t know how meaningful this is for a guy who once penned a blog called “living in misery.” Don’t get me wrong, I long for city-living, but if I have to live in Middle Missouri, I at least want to hang with some good people. It was a nice night to say “hello” and catch up with folks. I suspect the same will happen in the fall when Neutral Milk Hotel(!) stops here.

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Speaking of friendly faces, Bill Callahan started early – which works for working parents like myself. He opened with “Sycamore” and danced around his catalog without moving much for the rest of the night. He brought with him a couple of players – one on guitar and the other on bass – both seated. The crowd was a bit ornery as the drinks flowed, but as soon as anyone realized Callahan was singing again, they politely stopped talking. I’ve never seen anything like it, but maybe all those people really are as nice as I think they are. You know the type: friendly midwesterners. And Bill Callahan was liking it, sneaking in a pleasant smile here and there.

I like friendly faces filling my favorite hangouts and occupying their stages. There’s nothing quite like a familiar smile, warmed with alcohol, and willing to chat. I had a little of this in previous lives, but not quite like this. In adulthood, there’s less transition as folks settle in for the long haul. Sure, people move, but adults know each other for decades. I haven’t lived in Middle Missouri for even one of those, but I already have found a community of friends, pals, acquaintances,  and friends-of-friends to make an enjoyable evening with a wordsmith like Bill Callahan so much more enjoyable.

Kathleen Hanna Speaks at Columbia College (or Filling a Blogging Void in Middle Missouri)

Posted in Life, Live by Zac on March 21, 2013

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Last night I took my four-year-old to see punk and riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna speak for a Women’s History Month series held at Columbia College. While between projects at work, I decided to see what was written about the talk. The regular news sources summarized Hanna’s visit succinctly, but there was nothing coming from a local blog. There aren’t many good blogs in this town these days, but a void needs filling and I’m about to get back on that horse.

As I mentioned above, I took my daughter to see a woman whom I think is a great role model as she grows and develops. Kathleen Hanna is a strong, smart, and creative adult woman I want my kid to look to for inspiration. She has people like that in her life now, but it doesn’t hurt to find more.

My kid was in awe. First of all, she insisted on sitting in the front row. We skipped over a couple of seats that looked to be saved and settled in. It just so happened that one of those seats was Kathleen Hanna’s! When a woman began to welcome the audience, my daughter asked whether or not that was Kathleen Hanna. I promptly informed her that no, Kathleen Hanna was sitting next to her. It was all that four-year-old could do to contain her excitement.

She really loved any time Hanna referred to rocking and bands. See, my daughter loves riot grrrl bands. She’s particularly fond of Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag. (She just wrote a letter and drew a picture for Wild Flag to be mailed ASAP.) She loves the power and upbeat energy from that era of music. The fact that it’s all made by women doesn’t hurt either.

Hanna gave the kind of talk one would expect. She told her story, full of valley girl vernacular. She had slides of rarely seen zines and flyers. There were grainy videos of her various bands. She had great anecdotes of major indie and punk rock players. She told stories of inspiring young women fighting the patriarchy at every turn.

A running theme was her attempt to take back space normally occupied by males. There were rooms in a community center, rock venues, even the space in front of bands to be occupied. Underlying all of this was the space men and boys take up that can’t be seen, the space occupied by ideas and words. Hanna challenged these spaces and found room for herself and the girls who joined her in the fight.

At some point, a guy sitting in the back yelled out some fairly off-topic statements and questions. I won’t dignify either the content nor the deliverer of such idiocy as it completely disrupted the night by identifying or detailing what was said. Hanna was knocked off course a couple of times. Finally, she regained her bearings and told the guy to “shut-the-fuck-up.” Then she demanded he leave.

Instead of leaving quietly, the “heckler” continued to be obnoxious until college staff and a few audience members helped him leave. The debate over his comments continued today on Facebook, but I don’t want to spend anymore time on this as the dude was totally out of line.

Two beautiful things resulted from this conflict. First, the outburst demonstrated Hanna’s point about men always taking up space that wasn’t theirs, infringing on a woman’s chance to express herself. Second, it provided an opportunity for my daughter and really any young woman in the crowd to see a need for feminism as well as said feminism in action.

Fuck that dude and all the jerks and bullies like him.

Hanna recovered and continued to present her story. I geeked out over a video of Bikini Kill. My daughter geeked out over a Le Tigre video. We both laughed over the cabaret video Hanna shared.

It was a fun and empowering night. I wish my daughter could have met Hanna, but that will have to wait for the letter my girl intends to write to one of her newest heroes.

If you see this, Kathleen Hanna, know that you made an impression on our little college town and one four-year-old in particular.

For more on the talk, check out The Missourian’s take.

Dome Sweet Dome

Posted in Live by Zac on October 10, 2012

This was posted elsewhere. I’m thinking I might get rolling again…

drumming hipsters in a geodesic dome

Cloud Dog in The Dome

Like any college town, Columbia is home to many music venues offering a wide array of cheap entertainment. Aside from the regulars (Blue Note, Mojo’s, Roxy’s Eastside, The Bridge, etc.), there are a few DIY venues featuring another side of the scene not often seen or heard by the masses. Most of these venues are living rooms just north or east of campus. Another is the hairhole, which we’ve told you about in the past. A newer-ish DIY venue is The Dome.

Joe Dame’s dome is also his home. (Sorry.) And by “dome”, I mean to say that it’s geodesic dome near Ashland at the end of a long, winding, gravel driveway. And by “home”, I mean to say that Joe is renovating the dome in the woods to not only house some cutting edge music but also to serve as his house.

Late last week, I ventured out to The Dome in order to take in one of the more interesting lineups I’ve seen in CoMo in a while. There was Ben Chlapek and Neatly Knotted project plus collaborator Steve Ruffin – or the pleasant projectionist at Ragtag who wears those glasses. The duo opened with a lot of ambient noise. Quite enjoyable for a warmup without a proper name (Iced Wine, anyone?). The echoes they produced filled the rickety dome in the woods and warmed me up proper.

Out of the cornfields arose Curtain Co. with some chill waves (or is it chillwaves?) for the Domers to groove on. Another duo, this time the two musicians worked closely, pretty much shoulder-to-shoulder in delivering movement-inducing beats, causing heads to bob and even a few kids to hit the splintered dance floor.

Local regulars Enemy Airship played third with heaps of Broken Social guitars and keyboards to fill the Dames Dome’s rafters with layers of guitar and synths. A long time ago, I wrote that this group (at the time known as Nonreturner) had found their sloppy, rock ‘n roll selves. Well, along with that old band name went the sloppiness. The band is tight and professional and they just sound like they know what their doing. The guy who accompanied me to The Dome proclaimed them his new favorite local band and I can’t really argue with that.

Finally, what made the night really stand out came in the form of three drummers from Lawrence, KS. Cloud Dog played with a fury I haven’t seen since Lightning Bolt, but maintained an aesthetic closer to Animal Collective. The threesome was quite engaging with drum sticks flying everywhere as some hypnotic Tron-like imagery projected behind them. Look for Cloud Dog in a club near you.

All that happened in one evening at The Dome. Joe has done a great thing in some woods just south of town. You owe it to yourself to find an invite and/or ride to one of the more unique and homey venues in and around CoMo. Joe Dames’ Dome cannot be missed.

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Come to my DJ night!

Posted in Intersections, Life, Live, Pavement, Records by Zac on June 4, 2012

Tonight, I am playing records at the Uprise Bar here in Columbia, MO for Monday Night Vinyl. If’ you’re nearby, stop in. The set starts at 9PM and will last until either they kick me out or I run out of records. The latter is more likely than the former as I have a pretty substantial list from which to work below as well as a plan to play through The Walkmen’s Heaven to finish off the night.

You may also follow me on Twitter where I will do my best to update records played and beers had. (I updated the list with what I can remember. I wrapped about two minutes past closing. It worked well and didn’t have to pay for one beer. Said beers: 4 Hands Pryus Saison, Avery 19th Anniversary Tripel, Bacchus.)

Track(s) | Band/Musician | Album

  1. Cut Your Hair | Pavement | 12 ” single
  2. Here | Pavement | John Peel Session 7″
  3. Baptiss Blacktick | Pavement | Summer Babe 7″
  4. With a Girl Like You | Condo Fucks | Fuckbook
  5. Stockholm Syndrome | Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
  6. Autumn Sweater | Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
  7. Little Honda | Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
  8. The Wall | Yuck | Yuck
  9. Head to Toe | The Breeders | Head to Toe 7″
  10. Shocker in Gloomtown | The Breeders | Head to Toe 7″ (GBV cover)
  11. Auditorium | Guided By Voices | Alien Lanes
  12. Motor Away | Guided By Voices | Alien Lanes
  13. Try Harder | Times New Viking | Dancer Equired
  14. Mr. Superlove | Ass Ponys | Mr. Superlove
  15. My World Is Empty Without You | Afghan Whigs | My World Is Empty Without You
  16. If I Were Going | Afghan Whigs | Gentlemen
  17. Gentlemen | Afghan Whigs | Gentlemen
  18. Divine Hammer | The Breeders | Last Splash
  19. Boyfriend | Best Coast | Crazy For You
  20. Walk in the Park | Beach House | Zebra
  21. Go Outside | Cults | Cults
  22. Forward Forward Back | Believers | Believers
  23. Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  24. After Hours | Caribou | Andorra
  25. Desire Be Desire Go | Tame Impala | Inner Speaker
  26. Rock and Roll Will Never Die | Neil Hamburger | Hot February Night
  27. Sink to the Beat | Cursive | Burst and Bloom
  28. Going Back to Cali | LL Cool J | Less Than Zero
  29. Michael Jackson | Das Racist | Relax
  30. Scenario | A Tribe Called Quest | The Low End Theory
  31. Hey Ladies | Beastie Boys | Paul’s Boutique
  32. Gangsta | Tune-Yards | Whokill
  33. Eleven | Thao & Mirah | Thao & Mirah
  34. Bellbottoms | The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion | Orange
  35. Ditch | The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion | Orange
  36. Busted | The Black Keys | The Big Come Up
  37. Gloria | Patti Smith | Horses
  38. Born to Run | Bruce Springsteen | Born to Run
  39. A More Perfect Union | Titus Andronicus | The Monitor
  40. Xmas Trip | Run On | Start Packing
  41. You’re Pretty Good Looking | The White Stripes | DeStijl
  42. Indian Summer | Beat Happening | Jamboree
  43. Here She Comes Now | Nirvana | 7″ split w/Melvins (VU cover) She’s Real | Built to Spill Caustic Resin | Built to Spill Caustic Resin 10″ (Kicking Giant cover)
  44. She’s Real | Built to Spill Caustic Resin | Built to Spill Caustic Resin 10″ (Kicking Giant cover) Here She Comes Now | Nirvana | 7″ split w/Melvins (VU cover)
  45. [whenever you see fit] | 7MO6DES4T-HMOEURSEO | [whenever you see fit]
  46. Slap Me | The Folk Implosion | Take a Look Inside…
  47. You and Me | Archers of Loaf | Icky Mettle
  48. Might | Archers of Loaf | Icky Mettle
  49. Untitled | Interpol | Turn on the Bright Lights
  50. Obstacle 1 | Interpol | Turn on the Bright Lights
  51. Look out the Window | The Walkmen | Split EP
  52. Laminated Cat | Loose Fur | Loose Fur
  53. Farewell Transmission | Magnolia Electric Company | Magnolia Electric Company
  54. The President’s Dead | Okkervil River | The President’s Dead
  55. King of Carrot Flowers part two | Jeff Mangum | Live at Jittery Joe’s
  56. King of Carrot Flowers part three | Jeff Mangum | Live at Jittery Joe’s
  57. Oh Comely | Jeff Mangum | Live at Jittery Joe’s
  58. Heart of Gold | Neil Young | Harvest
  59. Waiting for Superman | Iron and Wine | Around the Well (Lips cover)
  60. Waiting for Superman | The Flaming Lips | The Soft Bulletin
  61. Inside the Golden Days of Missing You | Silver Jews | The Natural Bridge (and maybe something else from this album)
  62. Honk If You’re Lonely | Silver Jews | American Water (and maybe something else from this album)
  63. The Wild Kindness | Silver Jews | American Water
  64. Discretion Grove | Stephen Malkmus | Discretion Grove 7″
  65. Two Beck tracks that I’ve forgotten…
  66. Fall Away | Stephen Malkmus | Mirror Traffic
  67. Gorgeous Georgie | Stephen Malkmus | Mirror Traffic
  68. Billie | Pavement | Terror Twilight
  69. Fight This Generation | Pavement | Wowee Zowee
  70. Two States | Pavement | Slanted and Enchanted
  71. Stereo | Pavement | Brighten the Corners
  72. Fillmore Jive | Pavement | Crooked Rain Crooked Rain
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True/False Music Review

Posted in Live, Review by Zac on March 9, 2012

Here is the post I published yesterday at the CoMo Collective. It covers the bands I saw and a couple I didn’t see much of. As you will see, True/False is more of a cultural experience than just a documentary film festival. That may be why we all love it so much…

Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship? via Benjamin Gross

As promised, here’s a complete rundown of the bands I was able to take in throughout True/False weekend. This year’s lineup was maybe the strongest I’ve seen. Between buskers warming up crowds, filling our streets with music, and rocking showcases around town, this fest became almost as much about the music as it did the films.

As a recap, I’m reposting my take on Wednesday’s Eastside Showcase. Scroll down if you’ve read it before…

Eastside Showcase

This is the unofficial official start of the fest and it’s hard to believe that any showcase will outdo the one at Eastside Tavern last night. Three bands – two local, one from Milwaukee – whipped the crowd into a pretty good frenzy for Wednesday.

Enemy Airship opened the night and one could say the entire festival.If I wanted to hear Broken Social Scene, I’d probably watch them on Pitchfork TV, but this was a close enough facsimile. I certainly don’t mean that in negative way. The band is fun, even danceable, especially as compared to their previous incarnation, Nonreturner. The set was topped off with a particularly earnest cover of New Order’s “Age of Consent”. It’s too bad no one could hear the keyboards.

Another local, Hott Lunch, played second. I had heard a lot of good things and the band did not disappoint. From punk to classic rock, this band was all over the place aggression, hitting all the right influences. I’d like to hear them focus in on one thing, but they do so many so well. Maybe that’s not so bad. Either way, it was an enjoyable set.

The closers were Catacombz. With a light show few have witnessed in Eastside, the band beat the audience into submission and told them to dance without directly telling the so, yet they obeyed. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a band come in and just move the entire crowd into convulsions.

Jerusalem & The Starbaskets via Benjamin Gross

Mojo’s Showcase (Bassdrum of Death, Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, and Ming Donkey One-Man Band)

Regretfully, I missed Ming Donkey One-Man Band due to a film. This became apparent to me as I entered Mojo’s to find it buzzing. It seemed that buzz was about the dirty heaps of new age blues that was being thrust upon the crowd and would continue through the night.

Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, once of CoMo, played next. Besides frontman Jeremy Freeze’s occasional turn as a busker and drummer Kim Sherman’s turns at V/H/S Q&A’s, the band made a triumphant return to CoMo (as is their usual) with a roaring set of dirges and blues psychedelia. Interestingly, the band’s sound was filled out with the addition of John Garland on guitar. The set primarily featured material from their well-received Dost, a record you should own.

Bass Drum of Death via Benjamin Gross

Bass Drum of Death is another Fat Possum band that sounds as if they’re from another era. They looked and sounded a ton like 1991-era Seattle, but sounded closer to No Age than Nirvana. This topped off what was an impressive roster for the evening. I’m not sure I’ve seen a T/F showcase demonstrate as much firepower as this crew showed… Well, until the next night.

Mojo’s A-Go-Go (Believers, Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?, Dark Dark Dark and Cassie Morgan)

Once again, I regretfully missed a Mojo’s opener. St. Louis duo Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine played what must have been a distant and haunting set of hushed melodies. Although described as folk, I’d place her stylings closer to something sleepier, with a bit of twang for good measure. I only know this because I luckily caught her set as a busker in the Blue Note. Still, I imagine her set fit nicely with the bands to follow.

Dark Dark Dark came on next. Gypsies with powerful female lead vocals rarely go wrong. Don’t misunderstand me, this is not Beirut with Sharon Van Etten. No, this is a rock band that understands a good pop song, something that would linger through the evening.

At this point, it was clear that the evening was building toward something. However, it felt as if we needed a way to traverse the gap between Cassie Morgan’s brand of folk and Dark Dark Dark’s gypsie spiel. A bridge would work, but a boat or ship would be better. Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship? made their way on stage and increased the number of accordions and French horns by at least one apiece.

Believers via Benjamin Gross

The bridge or ship or whatever worked as the crowd was pretty amped for the Believers set. Believers just puts on a consistently great show and it doesn’t hurt that the songs are so good and danceable. For once, all the percussion was in the back of the stage as compared to the center, but it didn’t take away the percussive nature of the band by any means. The buzz that started the previous night lasted all the way through Believers’ set. If for no other reason, Believers should stay together just to play T/F every year. Either way, they will forever be linked to the fest for me as it just isn’t complete without a Believers show.

Buskers a-Busking

I remember Nature Walk busking before, but I don’t remember them being as engaging as they were this year. I got vibes from Violent Femmes and One Foot in the Grave-era Beck. Good, fun rock music to get us ready for the nonfiction about to be thrown our way.

The Toughcats come all the way from Maine every year. It seems there’s a contingent that makes the trek every year and the  Touchcats are part of that crew. To fully enjoy the Toughcats’s set, one has to pay particular attention to the drummer who works as hard and as enthusiastically as any drummer I’ve ever seen.

Run On Sentence featured the filmmaker of Gasland, a popular T/F entry and near-Oscar winner. Beyond that, Run On Sentence stands on their own, recalling a bit of Clem Snide. They certainly kept a large audience in the spacious Missouri Theater engaged with the energy they brought from Portland.

Bramble actually played my daughter’s preschool before they ever played the T/F box office, various street corners, or several film venues. They are fast becoming a favorite at the fest. Everybody tends to enjoy their special brand of roots rock, especially three-year-olds.

Another roots rock band to busk some films was Wine Teeth. However, where Bramble reminded me more of Fleet Foxes (musically), Wine Teeth are certainly big Elliott Smith fans, providing a bit of edge to their set.

The hit of the fest may have been Les Trois Coups. The four Frenchmen enchanted audiences, inspiring many to dance and others to fall under their gypsie charms. From what I heard and saw, I don’t think the boys ever stopped playing their songs and performing skits with a combination of French and bits of broken English. The boys played for a school in St. Louis and hit the streets as soon as they made it to CoMo, and were seen at showcases and in the basement of at least one house party at 3:30 in the morning. I’m not sure they ever slept as they had to catch a flight early Sunday morning.

It’s nice see some great bands return year after year. Pearl and the Beard can both fill any venue with their powerful voices while maintaining an uncanny ability to rely on subtlety to not overwhelm with every song. This has really been one of the better busker acts to make it to T/F over the years and I hope they keep coming back.

Prahlad is actually a folklore professor at the university. He plays his brand of folk on mbira and slit drum, traditional African instruments. The resulting music is calming yet stimulating and was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the fest.

Cindy Woolf told a story that went with a song that was about distilling moonshine. That may be all you need to know. This is country as it’s meant to be sung and performed. Sad, slow, and soothing.

There were others to play music last weekend, but this was what I was able to see/hear among the 15 or so films I was able to see. Still, it was possibly the strongest lineup the fest has featured since I’ve been attending. Music coordinators Billy Schuh and Amanda Rainey really deserve a ton of credit for putting together this year’s group of buskers and showcasers. For the complete list of musicians, including many of the better ones I failed to mention here, check T/F’s website while it’s still up.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Posted in Live by Zac on February 19, 2012

I’m too tired and too busy to post too often. So, this is what you’ll get for now. Things will get back to normal soon. I hope.

20120219-222009.jpg Stephen Malkmus and his Jicks entertained the CoMusic faithful starving for some nineties indie rock this past Saturday evening at the Blue Note. We didn’t get the opportunity to see Pavement when they made their reunion trek almost two years ago (aside from those of us who made the drive to KC on September 11th). So, Pavement’s primary songwriter and former front man’s trip to Middle Missouri would have to suffice. Playing mostly new songs from the excellent Mirror Traffic, the crowd was treated to what can only be described as “slacker prog”. Malkmus fiddled away at his guitar in numerous awkward positions as bassist Joanna Bolme and mulch-instrumentalist Mike Clark admirably filled holes. However, the most impressive Jick award may have gone to drummer Jake Morris who not only nailed all of Janet Weiss’s parts, but created a little niche of his own, particularly when he and Malkmus played off of each others’ need for some Zeppelin. All the while, the band jammed and screwed with pop structures the only way progressive rock and roll bands know how to do. Besides the prerequisite tracks and single from the latest release, several songs from throughout Malkmus’s solo career and beyond were featured in the set. There were at least two tracks from his first album (if my memory doesn’t fail me) and a decent number of songs from Real Emotional Trash, including the title track. Honestly, “Real Emotional Trash” is just an excuse to jam, but no one complained. This is something SM has cut from his current album, but the back catalog provides plenty of opportunity to explore his Dead Head leanings. Speaking of heads, Malk has an impressive mop of hair for a dude in his mid-forties. Just saying. Pavement, Malkmus’s former band – you may have heard of them, could have never put on a show like Saturday’s. For one, the Jicks seem to like each other, even sharing the stage in a way that would have never happened with Pavement. Sure, Malkmus is in his customary position on the left side of the stage, almost looking somewhat aloof. However, all the band members were relatively equally distanced from the audience, none really standing out. Most impressive once again was the stand that found Morris head and shoulders above the rest. That would have never happened with Pavement. I once watched Malkmus kick off drummer Steve West from his kit so that he could demonstrate how a part was to be played. One really gets the sense that all Jicks are equal even though one Jick’s name is out in front. There’s a reason the Jicks are respected as equals. They honestly are better players than those who played in Pavement and this is coming from a man obsessed with Pavement. Yes, the music is still lazy. Malkmus will never escape this. The difference is that the playing more effortless than just sloppy. Calling it “slacker prog” nails it. Portlanders Nurses opened. The aesthetic was awfully full of Walkmen and Born Ruffians, but they didn’t come with the oomph those bands typically bring. I will reserve judgement, however, until after I hear their recorded work.

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Late Night Loves Indie Rock

Posted in Live by Zac on January 11, 2012

There have been a slew of late night TV appearances by indie bands in recent years. The time slots after your eleven/ten o’clock news programs have been receptive to indie bands for a while now, but they seem particularly hellbent on giving indie rockers proper exposure recently. Do we blame the blogs? Are those in charge of such decisions the same kids at indie shows in the nineties? Who knows.

Now, I get that by the time a band lands on network television – no matter the time slot – that it’s long past being underground or cutting edge. However, as a kid who grew up in a rural community with no real outlets for musical discovery, late night appearances were all we had. Sure, with the internet, we can discover all kinds of music, but sometimes it gets too overwhelming and we need something easy and delivered to our television sets. Many of these bands don’t need a bump from a late night appearance, but the exposure to a few more households is not a bad thing.

Either way, there have been a few notable late night performances to share and digest…

Wild Flag on Fallon (skip to minute 37)

What’s funny is that when I watch this, all I can think of is how much Carrie Brownstein reminds me of Mic Jagger circa late 60’s. Jagger didn’t play guitar, but I imagine he’d look just as cool. The entire band seemed to have the mod coolness about them in this performance. Wild Flag is just so cool, strong, and they rock with ovaries to the wall which means they rock harder than most boys and their bored demeanor proves they don’t have to work as hard at it. I hope their spring touring finds them in the Show-Me state and maybe another record soon.

Guided By Voices on Letterman (Sorry. Embedding’s not cooperating. Just click the link.)

http://static.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid1089.photobucket.com/albums/i359/dg11469/January32012-January82011/guidedbyvoicesletterman.mp4

Is there anything better than Greg Demos falling on his ass? No.

This song is so 1994 it kills me. Driving, fist-pounding progressions and typical Bob Pollard delivery would place this song and the performance on Letterman right alongside Bee Thousand/Alien Lanes GBV. The only thing that’s different is the geriatric-looking rockers performing. If you can imagine it, there was a time when Guided By Voices was considered old because the members were like 36. Wait. I’m 36 right now.

WU LYF on Letterman (Again, wonky embedding.)

http://www.cbs.com/e/kTPYKVZDqU2gJSnLiJasmse_rS_BaTGo/cbs/1/

I may have totally overlooked or over-thought including WU LYF in my 2011 best-of. Consider them #11 at the very least with this performance. There’s something about bands who are so unaware of their surroundings as they perform on TV or completely ignore the host once their gig is done. Unintelligible vocals combined with backing instrumentation usually reserved for instrumental outfits hailing form Texas or Canada make WU LYF an incredibly intriguing watch. I just hope they continue to be as lost in their music as they seem to be on Letterman.

Tune-Yards on Kimmel

I had only read about a Tune-Yards performance and I have to say that it’s even more glorious than expected. It’s so exact and layered that I almost don’t believe how transparent the live performance actually is. And Merril Garbus is as engaging a stage presence as I’ve seen in a long time. It’s incredibly simple yet precise how she samples her own voice and drumming and builds a song from scratch, similar to Andrew Bird. However, the use of the drums and her incredibly unique voice just make her so much more fun to watch.

What have you seen on late night television (or replayed the next day on P4k/Stereogum/AV Club/etc. the next day) that’s caught your attention? Thoughts on the performances above? As per the usual, leave comments below and Like this blog with your Facebooking self.

Throne Watched

Posted in Live by Zac on November 30, 2011

Friends had an extra ticket to what is probably the biggest tour in hip-hop this year. Although I don’t particularly go for the hip-pity-hop, this show was too good to pass up. What follows is not a full-on review. I’ll post some crummy iPhone/Hipstamatic photos, Tweets, and bullet points on the evening. There was also some beer, “indie,” and Kid Rock thrown in for good measure.

So, first there are the pictures, then Tweets, then observations…

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Twitter feed – Sorry but I didn’t feel like shooting screen shots of every Tweet. So, they’re way out of order. The first set cover my beer drinking for the evening (I didn’t drive.) and most of the show…

Here’s the rest, again in the wrong order…

Observations and Explanations:

  • Dinner before the show was at Flying Saucer. My choices were beers that didn’t really stretch my palate, but they were all good. Check the Twitter feed for the selections. I did have the Big Dipper with stout au jous sauce. It wasn’t bad.
  • We had some pretty nice seats with a clear view of the stage. You can see from the panorama photo in the set above.
  • Both Jay-Z and Kanye opened on these rising towers which they returned to periodically throughout the show. The only thing I could think was I bet they had to be careful not to wander too far from the center or…. end of concert and rapper.
  • Kanye wore a leather kilt and pulled it off somehow. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder how many dudes in the audience were questioning his manhood.
  • Jay-Z was the coolest cat in the room. In fact, I suspect he’s the coolest cat in every room.
  • Kanye West sounds a lot like Q-Tip.
  • Jay-Z really did interact with the audience in a genuine manner. He was playing it up to one portion of the audience when he noticed a boy, maybe ten years old. The kid was getting down; Hov motioned toward him and the kid went ape-shit. As Jay-Z walked away, one could see him chuckle a bit to himself. Near the end of the show, a fan up front had an early Jay-Z album, wanting a signature. Both rappers signed and returned the album to the fan. Kind of a cool moment.
  • When Kanye did “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” all I could picture was Zach Galifianakis and Will Oldham.
  • The duo finished with like 3-4 takes on “Niggas in Paris.” Totally made the night worth it.
  • On the way home, despite all the catchy songs I heard, all I could play back in my head was this.
Bonus: a couple of videos my friend Andy found… He was the one who invited me along.

It’s been a fun month of daily posts and even more fun finishing out with this experience. I can’t say that this will continue as it’s gotten difficult as of late publishing so often. Look for the month of lists, though, lots and lots of lists.

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Ten Things I Won’t Do Tonight

Posted in Live by Zac on November 29, 2011

I mentioned that I would be attending the Jay-Z/Kanye West concert in KC tonight (Tuesday). I also suggested that I would be writing a lot of lists in December. Well, it’s not quite December, but this seemed like a list that needed to be written.

As a middle-class white father in his mid-thirties, there are certain things I just shouldn’t do at any hip-hop show, namely one as big as the one I’m about to see tonight. So, I put together a list of no-no’s for me to keep in-mind.

10. Don’t dance. – Sure, I was voted the best dancer in my high school senior class, but there’s best dancer in a class of 69 students in a small, rural town in Ohio and there’s best dancer. My moves were good in 1993 because I was the only boy who dared to dance to every song at Homecoming. Besides, I can’t even figure out the Dougie.

9. Don’t not dance. – I will be at a concert and will stick out as it is. Why try not to move to the music? I have enough rhythm to sway back and forth or point at the performers on time. It’s a concert. It’s supposed to be fun. I shouldn’t pretend it’s a funeral.

8. No dropping the N-word. – This is a no-no under any terms or in any context. Luckily, I don’t know the songs well enough to know when to drop an N-bomb anyway. I’ll just avoid the word like I would any day of the week.

7. Don’t buy a t-shirt. – I usually buy t-shirts at shows, but I really don’t need a size XL shirt with Jay-Z and Kanye on it, telling my followers which cities the boys made pit-stops. This sort of t-shirt is designed for teenagers, something from which I am a long way away.

6. Don’t wear the baggy pants and oversized sweatshirt. – Nope, I have to be myself. I have some clothes that are a bit oversized, but I do that for comfort and generally go with clothes that fit these days. I am who I am. There’s no need to pretend that I’m something I’m not. I also haven’t shaved in over two weeks and will continue to wear my dark-rimmed, record store clerk glasses.

5. Try not to live blog and/or Tweet the entire show. – I do this a lot now so that my Twitter followers can experience a band with me. It seems somehow to miss the point to waste this show Tweeting. Also, I don’t really want anyone to know that I have no idea what I’m listening to or watching.

4. Resist the urge to take grainy, retro iPhone pics. – This is my thing mostly because iPhones don’t take good pictures from a distance and/or in the dark. However, I suspect I won’t be close enough to make a Hipstamatic picture worth the effort tonight.

3. Don’t front. – I’ve hinted at this, but I know very little about hip-hop or the two performers I’m about to take in tonight. I won’t try to pretend. I’ll enjoy the moment whatever it may be. There will be no phony attempts to talk authoritatively, hence the Twitter resistance.

2. Don’t sit or stand with arms folded. – Again, this is something I do a lot of at shows. Even with head bobbing, it just won’t work. I will have to dance a little bit to not seem too out of place. Bending knees and bobbing my head is acceptable.

1. Don’t not go. – Of course I had to go. I would never go out of my way to see either artist. So, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Besides, it’s not costing me a dime. The ticket has fallen into my lap. I’d be a moron not to go.

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