In Concert: Sam Phillips

Once a million years ago (late 80s/early 90s), I got this Rolling Stone mix tape, one selection of which was “Where the Colors Don’t Go” by Sam Phillips, a song I have listened to off and on ever since. Then Ladder 49 came out with both a great Joaquin performance AND “How to Dream” another great Sam Phillips song. And somewhere along the way I heard “I Need Love“, which is just a GREAT song.
You’re a secret I whisper to myself
That’s all I knew going in. She’s a real show”man”, so to speak. Very late-night bar/cabaret feel. Unusual instrumentation, very focused. Similar to going to a Joe Henry or Joan Baez concert. And speaking of Joe Henry, I am 99% sure that Jay Bellerose, who blew my mind at the Joe Henry concert, was also the drummer for Sam Phillips. Wow.
If you are buying me a birthday present next year: percussion lessons with Jay Bellerose please! Thanks! 🙂
Broken like a window, I see my blindness now
And I need love, not some sentimental prison
I need God, not the political church
I need fire to melt the frozen sea inside me
I need love

Pondering the Monolith Lineup

Here’s what I’m interested in seeing this weekend, and obviously I am going to have some tough time-slot decisions to make! Uh oh! You KNOW how I am about making decisions!
2 – Port O’Brien
2 – Foals
2:30 – The Morning Benders
2:45 – KaiserCartel
4:30 – Cut Copy
5:10 – Liam Finn (going to him in Oct, could skip)
5:45 – The Fratellis (I’ve seen them, could skip)
7:15 – Vampire Weekend
8:45 – Silversun Pickups
9:45 – Atmosphere
4:15 – The Avett Brothers (!!!)
6:30 – Chester French (!!!)

6:30 – The Kills (just saw them at Lolla, will probly skip)
7:15 – Band of Horses
8:00 – Akron/Family

8:30 – Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip (since I’ve seen them at a great venue already, maybe I’ll just go late?)
There are lots of other bands playing that I could technically have on my ‘try to see’ list (CSS, TV on the Radio, Sharon Jones, etc.) but I’m trying to remember that I am old and tired and be a bit less ambitious.

In Concert: She & Him

Oh yeah, baby, this was a GREAT show. [Minus the opener. I’ve decided not to say much about openers unless they were really good. My advice in this case: Don’t get there early if you’re going to see these guys.]

Zoey Deschanel has *such* a lovely voice and she can really open it up much more than you’d guess from the album. It’s also got a very distinctive edge to it which really lends itself to this country/folky type of tune. The full band sets often felt like a throwback to June Carter or Patsy Cline. But when she and M.Ward did some one-on-one stuff, it had a more modern feel. Equally entertaining either way, I really liked when they did some harmonizing/trading vocals back and forth. I haven’t been able to get into his solo stuff, but I though his voice worked well in counterpoint to hers.

The kind of show you just come out of HAPPY. So happy that you wind up drinking and talking and drinking and laughing and drinking [and eating mini corn dogs and doing karaoke] and getting home with only a few hours to go before the alarm goes off? Perhaps.

If they are coming to your town, they come very highly recommended.

Oh! and they played two new songs that were both really great! Yay!

In Concert: Earlimart

It’s almost dangerous seeing a band you like this much at a tiny place like the Hideout.

Dangerous like you might accidentally touch them or start raving about how awesome they are and do they need groupies because you could quit your d-a-y-j-o-b at ANY TIME. (No, I didn’t. Ask or quit.)

Mentor Tormentor kept me under its dreamy seduction for many, many months. The new release Hymn & Her is a bit subtler. Sparser in arrangement, tauter.

Comfortable stage banter, lovely harmonies, introspective lyrics. What a wonderful evening.

Note: Opener billed as “Peter & the Rabbits” was actually “The Office” a much buzzed-about Chi-town band. And they were good!

This Summer at Ravinia

Robert Plant & Alison Krause. Turns out I felt the same way about the concert as I did about the album. I like individual songs, some are really pretty, but as a whole I just feel kinda “eh, OK” about it. Nothing that really grabs me. Good Ravinia music, since (for me, anyway) Ravinia is soooo not really about the music. It’s about the food and the drink and the friends and the conversations and the candles and the trees and… Yeah, it’s just kindof a “thing”. If there’s good music in the background, it enhances it. If the music is bad, you just ignore it and carry on with your night.
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. This is our “must buy” for Ravinia, we go see Lyle every year. I don’t even own any of his albums, but there are songs I recognize now. Always enjoyable. Gets people moving. Kindof a real “family” night at Ravinia. Fun.
Feist. You know, she just doesn’t have THAT MANY SONGS. And the horrific Metra commute there and back just really blew the night. I guess they weren’t prepared for every 20- and 30-something in Chicago to be going to Ravinia since that’s not the usual crowd. Didn’t get home until after midnight (maybe even 1:30? can’t quite remember now, thank goodness) from a concert that ended before 10. Sure “1, 2, 3, 4” sounded good. But that wasn’t enough to overcome the transit issues. We were ALL very annoyed.
I was supposed to go to Aimee Mann and Squeeze in August but turns out I’ll be giving my ticket up as I have to go meet my future husband that weekend. Priorities, people, priorities.

Pitchfork: Day One

A Hawk and a Hacksaw: Unusual instrumentation. Sometimes enjoyable, but sometimes too much “orchestra jam band.”

Caribou: Not for me.

Fleet Foxes: Yay!! My favorite performance of the weekend. They are lush and layered and lovely and I really really loved it, despite the sound completely dropping out for a song in the middle there. (But you’ve got to expect that with outdoor festivals.) Their harmonization is just wonderful.

Dizzee Rascal: So much fun!! I’ve heard it argued otherwise, but in my opinion rap is generally a more reliable performance at these outdoor fests because it just plain doesn’t matter how crappy the “music” in the background sounds / distorted, dropping in and out, what have you. With actual bands, that’s a problem. But as long as the rapper is loud and lively, he can still sound awesome despite those kinds of outdoor fest problems.

The Hold Steady: Pretty sizzling set…the bromance* crowd was really into it. But I’ve never listened to their follow-up albums the way I did to their first, and I’ve seen them a ton of times (this was the 4th or 5th, but I’ll go with 4th). So while it seemed high energy and the crowd was excited, I felt more laidback about the whole thing.

Jarvis Cocker: Somehow the sound was completely screwed up and I could barely hear the dude at all. So we left.

*Seems this word is in the air these days. First Joss Whedon going on about his bromance feelings toward Tahmoh at ComicCon. Then this post over at NPR Monitor Mix. EVERY Hold Steady show I’ve been to has been a total bromance and you’ll see many of her commenters suggested it as well.

In Concert: Sea Wolf

This show was sooooooooooooo good. Dramatic and intense and thick and layered. Cascades of sound. LOVED it. I listened to almost nothing but this album all of December and most of January; I was so happy to hear it live.
Other than the 6’2″ dude in front of us wiping out (passed out? fell? who knows?) — and causing me to fear for my safety in my summer dress up chunky high sandals (like if he falls any closer to me, I might break an ankle trying to get out of his way!) — and then being carried out by his friends in a big commotion it was a great night.
And bonus: the hilarious byplay between the tattooed, muscle-y lead guitarist (as opposed to lead vocalist) and the skinny, 12-teen bassist. For ex., every time the bassist had to shake the tambourine, the lead guitarist would keep looking over and smirking at him like “Ha ha young’un’, you’re stuck with the tambourine!” I thought I might be imagining the whole thing but then TL leaned over and said “Are you catching the teasing going on up there?” Oh yeah, it made them even cuter.