Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Show Review: Animal Collective Live @ Prospect Park in Brooklyn 7/12/11

Last night I was fortunate enough to see Animal Collective live at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I wish I could properly express to you everything I endured to earn this experience: countless hours waiting in the sweltering heat, horrible and thick cigarette and weed smoke and other products of unidentifiable combustion; dehydration and nonstop standing; minor hardships prolonged by an inexplicable hour-long delay of the opening act; the arduous attendance to a general admission concert on a hot July evening made for one of the most unpleasant and uncomfortable experiences I have ever felt in my life. It was so beyond worth it.

The doors opened at 5:30, and when one stepped over to the stage, they were greeted by the retro/disco/electronic sounds of DJs Beta & Hatch. I enjoyed what they played and their awkward dancing, but I can't say I liked that they didn't stop spinning until 7:30. I overheard a security guard telling someone, in regards to Black Dice's tardiness, "They are too high in the back to come out." And that seemed about right. I will be honest, I've heard very weird music, I mean I went to an Animal Collective concert, but I wasn't prepared for Black Dice at all. Their half-hour set was ultimately one long stream-of-barely-conscious trance piece that, 20 minutes into, made me realize that I had completely zoned out and didn't know what was going on anymore. A biased fan, the mere appearance of Avey, Panda, Geologist, and Deakin setting up their instruments as the stage was being set - fueled partially by the realization that my day-long hot ordeal was about to reach culmination - was enough to trigger an emotional response. Instantly all the hours of pain experienced prior vanished. It was wholly expected that the concert would be for road testing new material, and while it would have been nice to hear all songs off of their albums, it was so beyond worth it to hear the new songs. The first two songs were a little slow with Deakin apparently missing a transition, but once they started "Did You See the Words", everything just exploded into pure rainbows and perfection. Songs like "Take This Weight" and "Knock You Down" are bound to be future crowd favorites, and I can only hope that they put them on the next album. "Brother Sport" came out of absolutely nowhere and held enough pure beauty to reduce me to tears. Most of the crowd must've had this same thrill for everyone seemed to come together to shout "Open up your!", "MATT!", and "Support your brother!", and even better, during the part on the record where it sounds like it’s skipping, everyone was chanting in complete unison “WOO...WOO...WOO...” All the sound effects, atmospheric noises, and the character of this live rendition made it my favorite performance of the night. My favorite new song "Mercury" came right after "Brother Sport". It's clearly an Avey Tare song, but it contains so much forcefulness and heartwrenching vocals that you can't help but be affected by it. It's a song that reminds me why I love this band so much. They closed the set with the trippiest ever possible version of "We Tigers" you can imagine, with understandably very few people singing along, and then transitioned gloriously into "Summertime Clothes", the biggest crowd pleaser of all. It was a strangely perfect song to close with, for the night was just as the song describes: "The restlessness calls us, that I cannot hide / So much on my mind that it spills outside / Do you want to go stroll down the financial street? / Our clothes might get soaked, but the buildings sleep." I don't know. Truer words have never been more perfectly spoken in such a perfect context. Screams of uproarious joy overtook the venue when they came out to finish off with a three song encore. One of the songs sounded like Tomboy outtake, for it featured Panda on vocals with the same filtered dreamy guitar so prominent on his album. They completed this lovely night with "Taste", which came as a nice surprise. It was a much more slowed-down mellow version, allowing the crowd to savor the experience for just a few more minutes. It was the loveliest way to end the night.

This was a spectacular concert. The visuals, the sound, the set list. Just a few things kept the night from achieving total perfection: the aforementioned wait and the conditions but also while the set design was out of control stunning and perfect for the music, the large crystals really hurt a lot of people's views. If you were right up front, you're view of half the group was blocked, telling me that the set designer didn't fully consider the sight lines with the stage from that perspective. Based on pictures, however, if you were a little farther away, the sight lines worked out. Still, I will be seeing Animal Collective again. I feel so fortunate to have taken part in the band's ongoing development of their next album. The fact that I loved the show not knowing the majority of the songs should say everything.

"Welcome back Deaks!"-Multiple fans in the crowd

Let Go
Did You See The Words
A Long Time Ago
Take This Weight
Knock You Down
Your Choice
We Tigers
Summertime Clothes

I'd Rather
Little Kid


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New album cover for Beirut's "The Rip Tide"!

I don't understand why so many bands are opting for simpler covers these days, but at least this one keeps with Beirut's constant vintage theme.

This album should be epic. It's apparently summery and nice, but honestly, even "Mount Wroclai" is nice. I'm very excited for this! The album is called The Rip Tide and it's going to be released in the U.S. on August 30th!


01 A Candle's Fire
02 Santa Fe
03 East Harlem
04 Goshen
05 Payne's Bay
06 The Rip Tide
07 Vagabond
08 The Peacock
09 Port of Call

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New video for "Surfer's Hymn" by Panda Bear!

Sonic Boom says it's legit so I'm going to believe him.

It's really great. It's so beautiful in it's own abstract way, but it's not inaccessible. The video pay homage to Surfer's who were taken by the sea, and I believe that that gives perfect emotion and meaning to this song. It's really a masterpiece.

Friday, June 10, 2011

SHOW REVIEW: THE DODOS LIVE @ The Bowery Ballroom in NYC 6/9/11

Last night I was fortunate enough to see The Dodos at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. I’m still in awe of what I witnessed last night, so to start off easiest let’s talk about the opening band Gauntlet Hair. Straight out of Colorado, Gauntlet Hair performed about a half hour worth of material that was both funky and experimental with an extreme air of atmosphere. They appealed to me possibly because they were so uncontrollably hipster, and some of their sound was very similar to my beloved Animal Collective. Each member was his own version of hipster, but the drummer was particularly great—he was a man’s man given by his little snarky, but actually funny, comments and his Abraham Lincoln tattoo. My only complaint about them really is that they were way too loud for the venue and the echoey effect for the singer got a little trying after three straight songs using it. After my ear drums nearly exploded, and a half hour of preparation, Meric Long and Logan Kroeber took the stage and ripped right into “Good”. This was the absolute perfect opener for them—the song provides franticness and energetic drum beats that force you into a Dodos-listening mood. As if that song weren’t intense enough, they then plunged right into “Black Night” which pushed the crowd into a manic shouting of “you wanna walk right through IT!” Songs like “When Will You Go” and “Longform” didn’t get quite the same reaction as the aforementioned, but they were still performed with a delicate intricacy that created the exact same glorious power. “Don’t Try and Hide It” was a clear crowd favorite, and that provided for some amusing harmonies where Meric just sang low, but the crowd sang Neko Case’s part during “Don’t try and hide it fight it”. It was at that time of night when someone somewhere shouted “Horny Hippies!” to which Meric apologized for he didn’t have the ability to play it anymore. So, instead they played “Winter”, and I am in no need of an apology. It was absolutely lovely. The same emotion of heartbreak felt through his deep melancholy vocals on the album was transmitted with even more feeling live, if you think that is possible. That lead beautifully into “The Season” which was the most raw-emotion filled performance I have ever seen. It built up beautiful and haunting, leading up to the ever desperate sounding “I CROSS THE SAND WITHOUT YOUR HAND…” It was so poignant and powerful that it brought tears to my eyes. The anger and the sadness were conveyed so uproariously well. They probably knew no other song could ever live up to that, so it was a fairly well-thought out choice to place the overtly necessary “Fools” next. By the end of that set, I have not heard a crowd scream and freak out so loudly as this one did when The Dodos left the stage. It was a completely mutual feeling, shared by every single member of the crowd, that that could not have been it. The encore began with “Going Under” which was a nice, sweet calm down that brought every one down enough to be able to handle the final song, which was a fairly unique choice of “Jodi”. “Jodi” was never a song that really got me going, but after last night, it will be on repeat. It was very entertaining when he began the opening riff, and the whole crowd began clapping along, creating a hoedown kind of mood, inspiring Logan and Meric to each do a little jig. Perfect.

Logan is boss at drumming. The fact that he is able to play for that long and do that much is astonishing. He didn’t seem fazed at any point and rather got better as the night went on. Meric is just as much a virtuoso as Logan was. I could see his lengthy right-hand nails, and it is true that he plays every song without a pick. Whether he was playing a smashing reverb induced wall of noise, or 10 picks-per-second folk guitar, he can create more sound (and interesting ones at that) than most of his peers. They are both absurdly passionate and prodigious musicians that I truly do feel honored having seen. If you can appreciate this fact at all, you will be able to accept the fact that the overwhelming majority of their set was No Color songs. If the only album you like is Visiter, do not see them, though their live show will undoubtedly blow you so far away. It was so worth the current ringing in my ears.

Quote from the night:
Meric Long: "For some reason someone requests that song at every show. I forgot how to play it."
Logan Kroeber: "We still know how to play this!" (In regards to "Horny Hippies", before "Winter")

Black Night
When Will You Go
Don’t Try and Hide It
All Night
The Season

Going Under

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Last night, I was fortunate enough to see Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit at the Bowery Ballroom. The show started at 9, with the first opening act, James Mathé, making an appearance. He was one of the best openers I’ve ever seen. He was nothing like you would expect him to be, given that he’s a member of the Sussex Wit. It was a glorious combination of atmospheric/experimental funk and soul that instantly got my complete and undivided attention. He sadly only played five songs, but that was all I needed. Caitlin Rose was the next one up, and I can’t say I liked them. Caitlin Rose herself was funny and between every song spoke to the audience with distasteful charming sass, like after a few audience quips asking "Are you flirting with me?", but they were a country band. If you like country, you would have loved them, but for me they just played about five songs too many. Johnny and his crew came on to set up and tune, and then at a little past 11 they finally came on. They opened with “The Box”, and it was a perfect opener. It’s a song so filled with life and quirk that hearing the full band do it was marvelous. They plowed through “Cold Bread”, so much so that Johnny broke a string on his mandolin, leaving it up to James Mathé to make awkward, but endearing, small talk with the audience. Instead of a trumpet for “Kentucky Pill”, Lillie Flynn played flute, which made it wonderfully bouncy. It was nice and bright, moving the whole crowd sing along. They then played a gorgeous three-song arc of “The Wrote and the Writ”, “Lost and Found”, and “Brown Trout Blues”, all of which reduced the crowd to utter silence. “Hong Kong Cemetery” was done better than the album, with Johnny rotating between trumpet and guitar. They were so good at conveying the melancholy tone, especially with everyone shouting “I’m alright! I’m alright!” over the somber trumpet. The bright middle was made especially bouncy, contrasting nicely with the previous section. “Barnacled Warship” was my favorite performance. Johnny played his violin as he sang, and the whole venue was crooning “I’ll just eat fruit on your doorstep, I’ll just drink pail-fulls of rain” right along with him. You could tell the whole band enjoyed playing it, and that really resonated with me. He informed the audience early on that he was hoarse, and that created an interesting effect on “Churlish May” when he missed a whole verse due to coughing: “I don’t know what happened there!” On the second time around, they still played it brilliantly. “The Water” was one of my favorite performances. “I’m going to play a duet with my sister Lillie”, he said, as they moved next to each other. Don’t tell Laura Marling, but Lillie’s voice is absolutely stunning and, coupled with Johnny’s, was too beautiful for words. As you know, “Been Listening” contains many pauses during the chorus that are just asking to be taken advantage of by the audience. For every single pause, the crowd would scream “Awwww yeah!” or “I love you Johnny Flynn”, and other chuckle causing heckles, which you could see the awkwardness building up in his face while he too was stifling laughter. “Eyeless in Holloway” and “Tickle Me Pink” closed the set with everyone singing their hearts out, moving about, and thunderously clapping in unison. I couldn’t wait for the encore, and boy did they impress: Johnny and Lillie came out and told us that they hadn’t practiced this one or planned to play it, but felt inspired to do so. They played a beautiful rendition of “Amazon Love”, and because I was about three feet away from them, I could see how happy they were to be playing with each other and the look of complete sibling love on their faces. “Leftovers” ended the show flawlessly, with everyone once again stomping right along with the band and chanting “Leftovers is what I want, don’t need no fine cuisine!”

I was thoroughly impressed by this show. The Bowery Ballroom was so intimate, that I felt like a huge connection with the music and the band. I can’t imagine how I could ever feel that at a large venue: it was more of an experience than a show. Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit deliver live. Almost every song was performed better than the album version, and songs like “The Water” and “Barnacled Warship” really made it, as he put it “special”. If you get the chance to, go see him. You will leave more than satisfied with your experience, and I can safely say, it was beyond worth the price of admission. I will never know why more people don’t know about him.

“I probably should prepare something for moments like this, like a funny anecdote about the tour, but I haven’t got any.”-James Mathé, before “Kentucky Pill"


The Box
Cold Bread
Kentucky Pill
The Wrote and the Writ
Lost and Found
Brown Trout Blues
Hong Kong Cemetery
Barnacled Warship
Churlish May
The Water
Been Listening
Eyeless in Holloway
Tickle Me Pink

Amazon Love

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Video for Alsatian Darn by Panda Bear

Panda Bear released his video for Tomboy's Alsatian Darn yesterday!

It's like the part before the songs "Tantrum Barb/Working" on Oddsac. I approve.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Arctic Monkeys release the cover art for "Suck It and See"

Well, this was unexpected. I don't even know what they are going to throw at us next. This moderately random and confusing album is due out on June 6th, so mark your calendars.