Sunday, March 22, 2009

Great Northern and The French Semester

Great Northern

I saw what will undoubedly go down as a concert highlight of the year on Monday, March 16, 2009, when Great Northern returned to knock out a sold out crowd at the Silverlake Lounge. I got to write my first full length review for Radio Free Silver Lake, which you can read here.

The French Semester

I value the friendship that has developed between myself and The French Semester. What a great bunch of people with whom I share a lot of similar musical tastes. I was looking forward to their show at The Knitting Factory on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, as a chance to see them for the first time since getting their CD, Good Friends Only I Could See at their release show in January. It's always a test of a band's strength to see how the live renditions of songs hold up to the recorded versions. And this is one of my favorite releases of the year so far. This band has nothing to worry about.

This was a decidedly EARLY show, with the doors set to open at 7 o'clock, but there was no way I could get there by then, so I missed almost all of opening band, Shout To the Left. With The French Semester set to go on at 8 pm, I got a chance to chat with Riaz Tejani, who is the lead singer and the writer of the smart, melodic songs that make this band stand out.

The Alterknit Lounge is a nice, tight little space and the couple of times I've been there, the bands have come off well. There was a little difficulty finding the correct vocal mix, but still The French Semester succeeded in winning over the whole room. I was so happy to hear "Backward Rolling" and "Ivy Letters Upsetting the Norm" with the bands concise recreation of a sound so nostalgic and also so new. They really can reproduce the jangly, surf sound of the mid sixties so acurately.

I settled back and just enjoyed the relatively short set. They sang a couple of new songs for a finish, "What's In the Bag?" being a particularly strong one, and ending with "Go To a Window".

I look forward to seeing a lot more of this band, but first they're off to Europe to tour France, Spain and Germany. Not a bad itinerary.

Afterward, I had a chance to meet Bryan and Gil and it was flattering to hear them say they like my blog, but I wouldn't be writing at all if it weren't for bands like The French Semester and their music... and the music that's everywhere around us right now. And thanks to Matthew Pierce for the great photo.


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