Thursday, October 6, 2011

DeVotchKa at Bootleg Bar - October 5, 2011

Wow, they did it again. DeVotchka completely mesmerized for the entire length of their set last night, Wednesday, October 5 at Bootleg Bar. It was a more fleshed out version of their great performance last weekend at The Greek (opening for Elbow) that ran over an hour. Fans lucky enough to have scored tickets for the show packed the club and the wide range of the band's appeal was apparent from the variety of manners on display. Some decided to push their way through the crowd to plant themselves right in front of you when the band began, while others immediately pulled out their cell phones and opened them up in your face.

Once the music got going, none of that mattered, as the high spirits and enthusiasm are totally infectious and their musical talents are overwhelming. Beginning with Nick Urata's voice, which is an instrument of such extraordinary grace and power. His control is awesome. It's so great to be up front and watch the way he carefully enunciates each word, making every lyric understandable. Tom Hagerman is an absolute demon on the violin which he plays hard and furiously while never hitting a wrong note. Shawn King is a wizard of the drums which he can play in so many styles, he's a perfect fit for the multi-faceted compositions they write. Jeanie Schroder, who hugs her double bass, dances with her sousaphone, and plays flute is another charismatic performer in a band of charismatic musicians. The look of unabashed pleasure on her face makes you believe she's having the time of her life.

They played much from 100 Lovers, but also included songs from their past, including some I didn't know, all of which were poured into a program of such variety and passionate playing, the whole crowd was affected. There aren't many bands that can inspire such devotion from their fans, but DeVotchka deserve it. I'm proud to have seen them five times so far.

Those rowdy ruffians, The Parson Red Heads, pushed Viva Voce off the bill this Friday, October 7 at The Satellite in order to headline. (Actually Viva Voce had to cancel and I'm making this up.) Back in town for another show, The Parson Red Heads have made good on their promise to come back and play here as often as possible, so it's less heartbreaking that they don't live here anymore. Usually joined by assorted former members who still live here, their shows always have a nice 'reunion' feel, and on this date they're joined by Last American Buffalo and Death To Anders, who only jumped on the bill a few days ago. This is a good bet for a pleasurable Friday night.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feed Your Head Night at Lot 1

I'm very pleased to have George Glass as headliners at my second Lot 1 show this Saturday, October 8. Ever since I saw Nick Ceglio performing with Death To Anders a few years ago at one of the RFSL "Let's Independent!" nights at Boardner's where he got to play some of his own compositions (one where he was noodling around on the floor playing with knobs, buttons and pedals), I have noticed how good his musical instincts and songwriting abilities are.

Still as much as I enjoy Death To Anders and Nick's contribution to their 2008 sound, I was not prepared for how good George Glass was right from the start. Now, a couple of years later, they've taken off on their own, releasing a wonderful CD and delivering some of the best local sets, repeatedly. Looking forward to hearing anything new they may have up their collective sleeves.

What else can I say about Radars To The Sky except that Andrew and Kate and the rest of the band have become good friends to me and the way the band keeps expanding and contracting, and meeting each challenge creatively, puts me in awe of their adaptability. Radars have become a new animal over the last couple of months and I can't wait to see what shape they have assumed.

Andrew Spitzer is a lawyer in his 'real' life and now that I just got off jury duty, I can see how he might operate in a courtroom. Much like his stage persona, he probably lulls a courtroom/audience into a complaisant comfort and then zings them with a power and passion that he keeps hidden until just the right moment. Good courtroom technique, good rock star technique. Who'd have thought...

Nick brought Doña Nicha onto the bill and listening to some of their song selections, I an very impressed. They play a dreamy, hypnotic lo-fi trance rock that actually cuts loose occasionally to create a kind of ebb and flow that is alternately beautiful and jolting.

I've known Sarah Clothier for a while now but never had the opportunity to hear her band The pickUp Sticks until she expressed interest to me about playing one more show before she has her baby in November. After hearing the garage/punk indie rock band she plays in, I realized they would be a perfect fit to open the night. It will be a treat to hear their music live.

So come out, if you're not colliding with culture on this Saturday, and join me for some fun at Lot 1.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Elbow and DeVotchKa at The Greek - October 1, 2011

I've always had amazing luck every time I see Elbow in that, I always manage to be right down front, and Guy Garvey, as one of the most giving and friendly performers around, leaning out over the crowd, seems to be striving to connect with each audience member. This was just how it was on April 8, 2006, when I saw them at Avalon, for the first time, and that was how it was again last night, Saturday, October 1, 2011. at The Greek. I felt so lucky to be in the pit to really get to enjoy that unique audience connection this band always achieves.

The evening began with me taking my seat in the Terrace (before getting into the pit) where I was able to enjoy the riviting performance by DeVotchKa, who wowed the crowd with their free-wheeling gypsy/punk take on Eastern European music. Gloriously sung by Nick Urata, whose voice is one of the wonders of the world to me, his recordings only capture a part of his full, gigantic voice. The rest of he band is so talented, from the astonishing violin virtuoso, Tom Hagerman, and Jeanie Schroder, whether on her xmas light-festooned sousaphone or the flute, to Shawn King on percussion and trumpet. They were augmented with an additional trumpet as well, enlarging their sound. They could have gone on much longer, but made way for the headliners.

Elbow took off right out of the gate with "The Birds", the opening track from their new album which sets the bar so high that the rest of the album has trouble competing, I'd be remiss if I didn't say that I haven't been overly impressed with their latest album, Build a Rocket Boys, but this song is one of their best ever and to hear the rest of it live made all the difference. And this song does seem like the epitome of the perfect Elbow song, with it relentless driving beat, and highly orchestrated industrial strength sound overlayed by the smooth and effortless vocals of Guy Garvey.

It was a set list distinguished with unusual choices, like the quiet, lyrical numbers "Great Expectations" "Weather To Fly" and "Puncture Repair". And the way the set was interspersed with liberal doses of material from Leaders Of The Free World and especially The Seldom Seen Kid made the whole show a series of high points. The power of "Starlings", where the whole band mans blaring trumpets, while lights blasted the stage. Great care is always taken with their visual presentation as well. "The Bones of You"was beautifully done, and the haunting, hypnotic "Mirrorball" still weaves it's spell with the lighting effects that make you feel like you're standing in the center of a rotating globe. Guy carefully instructed the crowd on their part in "Grounds For Divorce" before launching into the song proper, but his attention to detail resulted in a highly spirited rendition of the song including a very willing audience, which had him beaming as he pounded away on the two drums provided him for this number.

"Lippy Kids" is a song that begins with a far off whistle that's overtaken by a lurching beat so that Guy can prompt the audience to wave their arms back and forth in time to the beat as he reaches out like he wants to touch each person that's in front of him. He does that at every concert. Talk about a fully engaged performer.

The rest of the band left the stage for the unbelievably moving "Puncture Repair" leaving only Craig Potter on piano followed immediately by "The River" from the new album for a pair of stunning duets between piano and Guy Garvey's passionate vocals. I was moved to tears.

The night ended with a three song encore capped by an electrifying version of "Station Approach" followed by the anthemic "One Day Like This" which sends the audience out on a high the likes of which I've only seen a few times. The art of the strong, charismatic lead singer is alive and well represented by these two bands. As well as these two singers have been recorded, they only hint at the immeasurable range and power of their live sound. This was a evening for the annals of history.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Here We Go Again

Feed Your Head's second monthly show at Lot 1 is coming on Saturday, October 8 at 8PM (music starts at 9):