Saturday, February 17, 2007

Grizzly Bear

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Grizzly Bear played Neumo’s last night to a near sold-out crowd. I was supposed to meet up with a couple friends, but the place was so packed and the timing not-quite-right, that I never did get to see them. But that’s ok, because the band killed. Amazing 4-part harmonies amidst bitter-sweet lyrics and melodies drove a near-perfect set. It was a short one (under an hour), but that’s ok with me; my feet get tired easily in my old age.

Speaking of, even though they had the under-21 crowd carefully cordoned off on the left side of the stage, the 21+ crowd felt especially young to me last night. Not sure if the band (of which, the bass/woodwinds/electronics/vocalist Christoper Taylor is from Seattle and had a big gathering of friends and family in the audience) has an especially young following, or if I’m just getting old. I’m pretty sure it’s the former.

There really wasn’t a bad song in the set. “Colorado” was great. And even the song with harmonized whistling. They played a cover of a Crystals (can’t find any info about that band) song called “and then he hit me” which sounds about as nice as it really is. It’s about a woman who enjoys being hit by her beau. A poor subject, for sure, but it makes for a good cover.

I expect great things from these guys in the future. Stay tuned.

Brilliance personified incarnate

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sparklehorse is boring, Jesse Sykes is sexy

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Last night at the Showbox I almost fell asleep standing up. I couldn’t stop yawning; I’m lucky I didn’t gleek on anybody near me.

We showed up at just after 9pm, and Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter were already in full swing. They were playing a song I recognized, and the crowd seemed to be really into it. I was expecting them to be likable but boring — her first two CDs are slow, sleepy-time escapades into alt.country. I was happily surprised by the energy and upbeat sounds of the new songs, of which she played a LOT. I only recognized 3 songs during her entire hour-long set: two old ones and the first single off the new one. The rest of the songs, all from her new CD, were great, guitar-driven Neil Young and Crazy Horse-type country songs. It was a great set, and quite a long one for an opening act. She was the only opening act, so it made sense for her to play for longer than your typical opener.

A quick digression: Jesse Sykes is as pretty on stage as she is waiting tables at Hattie’s Hat in Ballard. But there’s something about her on-stage presence that adds to her appeal. We all determined that “sexy” is the best way to describe her.

After a 45-minute break once Jesse left the stage, Sparklehorse came onstage and quickly slowed things down to a near stop. I’m not too familiar with their music. I have their new CD, and enjoy listening to it, but in this instance what sounds good in my headphones only puts me to sleep when played live. There were only 3 explosions of excitement, and they were all short-lived. “Shade and Honey” was done very well, and the song they ended on before the break, “Pig”, had some amazing guitar feedback that brought me out of my funk, but again it was way too short. Their entire set, including a 1-song encore, lasted no longer than 50 minutes. Jesse Sykes played a longer, livelier set than the headliner.

Another quick digression: Mark Linkous, lead singer of Sparklehorse, reminds me so much of an old acquaintance of mine named Jared. Same unkempt, whispy hair. Same mannerisms. Same stage presence. When the audience would cheer something he did on stage, he’d get a shy little smile and be very impressed with himself, in a “wow I actually did something good” that actually made the four of us burst out laughing at one point. It was such a funny emotion to show, by somebody who’s had their fair share of playing on stage.

All in all, it’s a shame that what’s on the new record didn’t translate well to the stage. I think if Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips were on stage with them to fill out the parts he did on the record, it would have made for a much more dynamic show. As it was, the acts should have been switched: Jesse should have come after Sparklehorse. Or, somebody could have at least warned me that Sparklehorse was going to be so boring, and I would have gone home and slept.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Errol information architecture

It’s not new, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it.

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Saaaalad! Saaaalad!

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Amazing collection of Katamari-related goodness.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

OK, I don’t really want this.

But it is pretty freaking cool.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

02.09 : The Showbox : Of Montreal

I thought I’d make the blahg a little more interesting by starting to write reviews of the numerous shows I go to (see the list to the side for a comprehensive list of shows I’m POTENTIALLY going to), if only to have yet another way to keep all of them straight in my head. I already keep all the ticket stubs that I can, but more and more bands are having will-call or guest-list related shows, which gives me no way to document that I went there. So now this.

Of Montreal, at the Showbox, Feb. 9. We walked in the door just as the middle act was finishing up their set. After going to shows in Seattle for 10 years, I’m glad I can predict with some accuracy what time a band is planning on going on stage, and I can therefore plan accordingly. We moved our way into the left-side bar, and located ourselves at the back of the group of people that were all standing in our favorite spot. We managed to work our way in to the front of the group, and then the show began. Of Montreal is one of those bands that you’re either going to love, or you’re going to hate. There’s no in-between. The lead singer sings in a high-pitched wail, there’s a dance beat backing up most of the songs, and the music is really unclassifiable. It’s kinda disco-y, kinda David Bowie, very glam, but in a new way. They make you want to dance, even if you didn’t think you had it in you.

Kevin Barnes, the lead singer, is one of the gayest, happiest, strut-ing-est lead singers out there. Very Mick Jagger, with glitter make-up. The two times I’ve seen them, he’s ended up practically naked on stage both times. This time, he went through 2 costume changes. The first outfit he had on was a fairly normal pants-driven set. The second was a bright orange dress with a wide belt. The third, green & yellow boxer briefs and a WWF-like championship belt — and nothing more.

They played a lot of songs from their new album, but they didn’t play my favorite from the album, “The Past is a Grotesque Animal”. Nor did they play “Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games)” which you may have heard recently, with new words but still recorded by them, in an Outback Steakhouse commercial. I’m afraid they didn’t play it because I read earlier at a different show they DID play it, and some stupid frat guys in the audience after the song was played yelled “Steak! Steak! Steak!” at the band. Ruiners!

The highlight of the evening was the song Kevin played from the top of a tall ladder. With a flowery head dress on. And a sparkly dress that covered the ladder, making him look like a 12’ tall woman. He didn’t get to move around, so I think next time he’ll have to bring stilts instead. (I guess that makes it THREE costume changes, really)

One other thing I noticed about the band: they regularly use guitars. On one song, there were 2 six-string electric guitars and 3 four-string electric bases, all going at once. No drums (other than the sequenced drum beat). No keyboards. But somehow, the song didn’t come across as a guitar-rock song.

It was an all ages show, so there were quite a few kiddies, and even a few parents there to mind the kids. I can’t imagine they’ll let the kids go out again to a show anytime soon after watching a grown man shake his booty at the audience in nothing but boxer briefs.

I just noticed that Of Montreal is part of the Elephant 6 Collective which is a collective started by Jeff Mangum and 3 other guys, that now includes a vast array of bands. Not sure where it goes beyond that, you’ll have to read up on it yourselves.

So there you have it, my first review. VERY rocky, I know. I like to type, so I imagine quite a bit of that in the middle is quite boring. And I’m also realizing I need to take better notes while I’m at the show — pay attention, and make sure to remember details. Like, what were the words printed on the back of Kevin’s briefs? What was that cover song that popped up literally in the middle of a song of theirs that I didn’t know? What’s a good way to close the review in a writer-y, conclusive kinda way?

Cool lighting effects

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