Posted: April 29th, 2010 | Author: Brad | Filed under: Articles About Music, Concert Reviews | Tags: anberlin, jack's mannequin, Lady Danville, the dodos, The Rescues | Comments Off
So I was doing sound for a concert a short while back that turned out to be a nice little surprise. You know those concerts you go to where you end up liking the opener way better than the headliner. Well, I was lucky enough to have one of those recently. Though L.A. locals, The Rescues, put on a decent show, my hat goes off to openers Lady Danville. The three piece, consisting of a piano, cajon, guitar and three part harmonies, nailed it. Their take on pop folk was refreshingly smooth and quite The Dodos-esque. I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys took off by the end of the year. They are still unsigned and only have one self-titled, five song EP out right now, but some shows with Anberlin and Jack’s Mannequin later in the year should give them a nice boost. Plus, they are super chill and some of the easiest guys to do sound for, big plus.
My favorite track – “Tired Magician”
Posted: April 28th, 2010 | Author: JD | Filed under: Articles About Music, Concert Reviews | Tags: band of horses, ben harper, kings of leon, needtobreathe, the beatles | Comments Off
Mark my words, or rather my wife’s words: Needtobreathe won’t stay “Christian” very long. Their last two albums were released by Word Records and Atlantic Records, both owned by Warner Music Group. So, technically the band is not solely “Christian” even now, but nonetheless the statement still holds. This is not to say that the band members won’t remain followers of Jesus Christ. It is more a commentary on CCM as a whole. It sucks. But there is hope and that hope is Needtobreathe. They told the 1,000 or so people in attendance on several occasions that they were a rock band and they proved it repeatedly. Thus, word will get out and these five guys will eventually have a following of people who don’t sit in pews and carry Bibles.
We arrived in the middle of their first song, “The Outsiders,” and they were already jamming. Two electric guitars, one bass, one set of drums, and a rocking keyboard. It wasn’t a creative mix of instruments, but great googly moogly did they mix well.
They have been a band for nearly eleven years now and it showed. They didn’t talk much, except to thank the audience. Appreciation was expressed for the attendance because as Bear Rinehart said, “We’ve played plenty of shows with eleven people.” The band’s maturity was something that might go unnoticed by a novice show attendee, but it was obvious to anyone who has seen one too many immature artists pop off about politics, spout some ridiculous joke, or just mumble about something because he or she feels that its artsy. Thankfully, none of that was on the menu. Needtobreathe simply played and played well. Their timing was spot on, maybe save one instance in a jam session. The fact that they nailed nearly every transition and tempo change was a testament to their maturity and skill as musicians because they changed pace a fair amount of times. They still had to look at the drummer for the ending blasts, but I got the idea it wasn’t so much for timing as it was that they were just communally experiencing rock music. Either way, they killed the beginning, middle, and end of every song. What more do you want of a rock group?
They covered The Beatles and Ben Harper and put them into one medley: “Better Way” and “Get Back.” The Beatles cover was a nice throwback; the Ben Harper inclusion made me smile for the next three songs. I’m always glad when artists, especially Christian, pay homage to talented artists. And let’s be honest, no one is more talented than Mr. Harper.
The most captivating song of the night, however, was, as expected, “Washed by the Water.” I wasn’t looking forward to it leading into the night because I knew it was their most famous song. It’s like John Mayer playing “Your Body is a Wonderland;” it’s cliché and gets all the irreverently annoying eighth grade girls to scream. And Christian eighth grade girls are even more irritating. All that said, as the night progressed I realized that these were musicians and a simple crowd-pleasing, generic performance of the song wouldn’t be enough. Sure enough, they saved it for last and belted it sans sound system. He sang, “Daddy was a preacher,” then half the crowd started singing along and the other half shooshed them. “No reason to get hostile with anyone,” Rinehart said as he stopped singing. “But, I can’t sing over all of you so shut up.” (jokingly, of course) And they did, for the most part. He began again. Two acoustic guitars and just Rinehart’s voice pounding out the words. Notes were strained and sometimes hard to hear in the back, but that little chapel’s roof got blown up by one man’s unamplified voice. It was soul and it was real.
By the way, Needtobreathe is a blend of Kings of Leon and Band of Horses. If you don’t believe me, buy a 12 dollar ticket to their show.
Posted: March 4th, 2010 | Author: JD | Filed under: Articles About Music, Concert Reviews | Tags: ok go | Comments Off
I have to preface the OK Go show in Kansas City with a few initial warnings and observations. The first is that if you go to an OK Go show expecting to understand any of the lyrics that frontman Damien Kulash is blaring out, you will be gravely disappointed. He belts a good voice, but it is mostly trumped by the instruments and muddled in good, yet somewhat incomprehensible falsetto. Second, if there is ever a free OK Go show in your area and you think, “I’ll show up around start time and get in no sweat,” you might want to think again. We rolled up to the venue an hour and forty-five minutes before the show was set to start (mind you, there were three openers) and encountered a line stretching nearly a block. We were able to secure tickets somewhat easily, but showing up “on time” would have made for a disappointing evening. Third, if there is a show you want to see at The Midland or Uptown Theater in Kansas City and you are debating attendance, suck it up and go. Both venues will surprise and delight, and Kansas City is the tops. I recommend the Midland over uptown, but only because of connotative experience.
Concerning the show, the Chicago-based band simply knows how to perform. They want to be known for more than just their “wicked cool and creative” music videos and they very well should be. However, it’s going to be tough for them to get proper recognition for such things as showmanship and musicality if they keep recording such “wicked cool and creative” music videos. We were informed at the show that they recently stayed up until four in the morning with 12 NASA engineers plotting their next video. So be on the look-out for something nebular (space joke). Although their show did live up to music video hype, the “music” of the evening did not steal the show. It might sound horrible to a musician’s ear, but the most intriguing aspect of their show didn’t rely on musical ability. Their creativity in presentation was what kept all eyes stage-centered.
They performed the song, “What To Do,” to the tune of traditional hand bells. Kulash made a statement regarding how they were going to do what Sunday morning had failed to perfect. While the hand bells didn’t sound all that great and Kulash’s voice, due to mic positioning, sounded a country away, it was a noble and engaging effort. The attempt might have been less than “Sunday morning perfection,” but the guts to stick their neck out and attempt hand bells is quite astounding, especially given how awful the hand bells typically sound.
Another stunt that is not specific to OK Go yet still packed a mean punch was Kulash’s mic cam. We were in the balcony so we got a stellar view of the screen on which the cam was being displayed. It was eerie. Kulash stared at us (via his mic) in a discolored black and white setting. Honestly, I don’t even remember the song being sung at the time. I was more concerned with the Wizard of Oz, a.k.a. Damien Kulash, glaring down at me.
The last effect involved lighting. This encompasses a few things. They had psychedelic lighting on the back of their jackets that scrolled, which was fairly cool. Obviously they had classic stage lighting that highlighted Kulash, faded in and out, and accompanied the screen show. But, the neatest lighting trick of all (and the one that made for the best pic) was the colored lights around the guitars that they donned toward the end of the show. With all stage lighting turned down, they appeared with different colored lights outlining their guitars. It was at this point that OK Go busted into “This Too Shall Pass,” inviting the audience to stand in for the vocals of the Notre Dame marching band. Tim Norwind, bass guitar and backing vocals, said that our singing wasn’t as good as a group of Europeans (Spanish, I think) who didn’t know English. While that upset a few of the audience members who were hoping for their big break, most of us were harmlessly amused by the comment.
The band did play “Here It Goes Again,” but they didn’t cart out treadmills for a video reenactment. They did, however, display dancing treadmills on the projection screen. If you haven’t listened to the song without the visual effect, I highly recommend trying it just once. The song can stand on its own. Of course, it is much better when it runs on treadmills.