From the moment we were funneled directly from will-call into the club we knew there was going to be something different about this show. No knock on the Paradise, but going into last night’s show I felt as if Band of Horses had already graduated from venues of that size. Let’s just say that I’m elated that they haven’t.
After an opening turn from BOH guitarist Tyler Ramsey, the band kicked off their set with “NW Apt.” off of their newest record Infinite Arms. After the first song our suspicions had been confirmed- this show would certainly be different from the previous times that we have seen the band perform. There was more energy, more distortion and almost a sneaky sense of satisfaction from the crowd knowing that Band of Horses should certainly be playing a much larger venue.
Throughout the course of the set each band member was given their chance to shine. Keys and guitar player Ryan Monroe (and recent Boston transplant) had a ripping solo on “Cigarrettes, Wedding Bands” and took over lead vocal duties for “Older”, a track which he penned for Infinite Arms. Tyler Ramsey showed off his lap steel guitar skills on “Marry Song” and bass player Bill Reynolds even threw in a solo on “General Specific.” Drummer Creighton Barrett took his turn on the band’s cover of Them Two’s “Am I A Good Man?” and Ben Bridwell channeled the Gods of Motown on that same track.
At one point in the set Ben Bridwell remarked that the band was lucky to be able to sell out a venue that size, but I think the real lucky ones were those of us in the audience who got to witness an established band in an intimate setting. Check out the full setlist below as well as a video of “General Specific” from last night’s set.
A few weeks back Pitchfork absolutely lambasted Deer Tick’s newest release Divine Providence, but that has not seemed to faze the boys from Rhode Island on their current tour to support the record. This was especially evident on Friday night when the band held nothing back, except for playing guitars with their penises, which John McCauley explained would not be happening since his parents were in the crowd.
After an opening set from The Felice Brothers, Deer Tick rattled through an impressive 22 songs (setlist below) provided the stringent time limits of Royale. The night was full of guest appearances including Chris Paddock, Hardy Morris of Dead Confederate and even Newport Folk Festival producer Jay Sweet got on stage for the final sing-along of “Let’s All Go To The Bar.” The Felice Brothers also joined in for the last three songs and helped to turn the stage into a drunken free-for-all, throwing drums and smashing guitars on Deer Tick’s final song (see video below).
The highlight of the evening for me was the band’s cover of The Replacements classic “Bastards of Young.” The song was a perfect choice for the merry band of misfits and being a track from my favorite Replacements record I thoroughly enjoyed joining the majority of the crowd in singing along. Catching John McCauley live is always a treat as special guests, drunken banter and a healthy dose of blaring covers are always in order.
Last week on Wednesday Trevor and I made our way down to the Paradise to catch Newport Folk vets Trampled By Turtles. The legendary Jonny Corndawg opened, playing tunes mostly from his newest record Down On The Bikini Line. After Corndawg finished up his set, TBT took the stage and played through nearly 20 tracks.
The set was heavy on cuts from Palomino (see setlist below), but the band also busted out two new tracks that should be featured on the next TBT release. The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind” has become a staple of their live sets as well as Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” which featured banjo player Dave Carroll on guitar and lead vocals.
It was fiddle player Ryan Young who stole the show though. It started with his shredding session on “Separate” and yes I just used the word “shredding” to describe fiddle playing. Next was his captivating solo on the slow burner, “Bloodshot Eyes” and then an absolutely unreal turn on “It’s A War.” I turned to Trevor multiple times throughout the set after Young’s solos so that he could help lift my jaw off the ground. The speed and finesse with which Young plays adds an entrancing dimension to TBT’s live sets and it’s the biggest reason why they are such an exciting band to see in concert.
Check out the full setlist below and take a look and listen to a performance of “Bloodshot Eyes” from a show earlier this year.
2. Help You
3. Sounds Like A Movie
5. Bloodshot Eyes
8. Feet and Bones
9. New Orleans
10. (New Song)
11. (New Song)
12. It’s A War
13. Pretty buzzed at this point and forgot to write this one down
Sometimes it can be overkill to write a preview for a concert and then turn around a couple days later and give our thoughts and opinions on that same show in a review. I don’t like to post twice about the same band in one week either, but last night’s show at the Middle East was so electric that I could not resist.
To be honest I didn’t know what to expect last night when I descended the stairs into dark, yet vibrant room that is the Middle East Downstairs. Neil had told me that Wu Lyf was from England, he had heard their music on Sordo and beyond that there wasn’t too much more info to be found about them on the web. After witnessing last night’s performance I can certainly help to remove the shroud of mystery and tell you that these guys are the real deal.
Decked out in Wu Lyf gear themselves, the band took the stage after a very satisfying opening performance by Long Beach, California’s Crystal Antlers. The band kicked off their set with “Lyf” and the crowd immediately came alive. A small mosh pit developed directly to our left in about 30 seconds, and it only grew from there. As the band tackled the majority of their debut record Go Tell Fire To The Mountain the crowd became louder, drunker and sweatier (shout out to the tall dude in the white t standing up front who literally rained sweat down on me every time he jumped up and down).
Lead singer Ellery Roberts’ voice reminded us of Froggy and we totally mean that as a compliment. His deep, gravelly vocals were a refreshing change of pace from a lot of the music we have been listening to recently and it incited stage diving and general drunken revelry like I have not seen at the Middle East for quite some time.
The band played crowd favorite “Heavy Pop” as their final song only to return with an encore that featured a weirdly fitting cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” Don’t ask me why, but Roberts’ vocals and the band’s arrangement just made sense and the moshing didn’t even skip a beat.
The band closed their set with “We Bros” the anthem that some actual bros in the crowd took as their cue to start a fight in the middle of the mosh pit, something tells me that is not what the band was going for… As the show ended I turned to Neil and all I could say was “Wow.” This show was certainly the most pleasant of surprises and quite possibly one of the BEST shows I have seen ALL year. Make sure you pick up a copy of Go Tell Fire To The Mountain and check out a performance of “Wicked Game” below from an earlier show on Wu Lyf’s fall tour.
I am already starting to lose track of how many times we have seen Dawes live and this is only after they have released two records. Last night’s show at the Royale was just another example as to why the California group has quickly become one of our favorite live bands. The show kicked off way too early at 6pm with brother sister duo The Belle Brigade who entertained the crowd with 30 minutes of absurdly catchy folk rock. If you haven’t picked up their debut record yet, I’ll make it easy for you.
Dawes took the stage next and began their set with “The Way You Laugh” and “If I Wanted Someone” off of their newest disc Nothing Is Wrong. From there the band played a healthy mix of tracks from their latest release and 2009’s North Hills. The band played epic versions of “Peace In The Valley” and “Fire Away” which we have learned to expect from a Dawes set, but it was Taylor Goldsmith’s performance on “A Little Bit of Everything” that may have stolen the show. On the typically subdued song Goldsmith’s passionate vocals brought out the song’s heartfelt lyrics and captivated the whole audience.
I wish Dawes had the chance to play longer, but with Royale’s stringent time constraints they were only able to get in a modest 11 songs (setlist below). This isn’t to say that we weren’t excited to see Blitzen Trapper. The Portland band kept the crowd moving with tracks like “Furr” and “American Goldwing” but the real highlights for me were their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times” and when multi-instrumentalist Marty Marquis played the cowbell WITH the maracas (yes it really was that awesome).
Dawes and Blitzen Trapper wrap up their co-headline tour in Los Angeles next month and The Belle Brigade will be supporting on all of the remaining dates, so if you get the chance don’t miss out on this folk friendly triple bill. Check out Dawes’ setlist as well as a video of “A Little Bit of Everything” from last night below.
Last night the Middle East Downstairs was as packed as I have ever seen it on a weeknight. Fans of the Austin, Texas rock group The Black Angels had come out in droves to support the band as they travel across the US and Canada on their fall tour. The smell of one particular plant species (a favorite of those who enjoy psychedelic music) filled the packed room in what space was left over after everyone had crowded into the cave that is the Middle East Downstairs.
The band wasted no time in showing what earned them a late-night spot at Bonnaroo 2011. Personally I was a bit peeved that Explosions in the Sky did not earn a late-night spot at Bonnaroo this year and because of that I decided to skip out on The Black Angels at That Tent. I’ll never make that mistake again.
Their set was a storm of sound laden with heavy reverb and soaring guitar solos, which created a surprisingly tight sound. Many times bands can get carried away with soloing and turning up the volume ad nauseam and lose sight of what the music actually sounds like to the audience. This was certainly not the case with The Black Angels as they played for well over an hour in front of a psychedelic lighting backdrop, which probably added a whole new level to the concert experience for the aforementioned botanists in the crowd last night.
Some of the highlights for me were the ’60s psychedelia driven “Yellow Elevator #2″, the fan favorite “Bad Vibrations” and the title track off of 2010’s Phosphene Dream. The band continues their tour tonight with a show in Philly and then wrap up next month with a couple festival dates in South America. If you’re in any of the East Coast cities remaining on the tour don’t make the mistake that I did at Bonnaroo and do yourself a favor by grabbing a ticket for The Black Angels.
The Middle East isn’t exactly known for being a pristine or pretty music venue. But that fact only enhanced the gritty sounds of The Movers & Shakers and Those Darlins at last Saturday night’s show. The combination of these two unique bands resulted in a one-two punch of noisy, impassioned country rock. The Movers and Shakers came on first, with guitarists Matt Price and Marc Valois and bassist Dan Wallace aligning at the front of the stage. The three shared vocal responsibilities with impressive grace. A stand-out was “Lay Down With Me,” a slow-burner off their upcoming album, National Harvester. The boys powered through up-tempo rock jams without trouble, but more deliberate songs like “Lay Down With Me” really showed off their talent. As The Movers and Shakers continue to tour for National Harvester and streamline their musical vision, they should only increase their reputation as a Boston-based band to watch.
After the Movers and Shakers’ set, everyone in the Middle East was ready to rock with Those Darlins, especially the Darlins themselves. They stormed the stage with a vengeance and immediately dug into their first single from Screws Get Loose, “Be Your Bro.” I’m telling you, this song will (or at least should) be a big hit. But I’m also warning you, it is almost too catchy for its own good. Go ahead, listen to it, you’ll like it. But you may be humming it until you die. Having set the tone, Those Darlins blazed through every track on the new album and then some. The greatest thing about Those Darlins is that they’re a very specific flavor of music, which I might define as whiskey –soaked, smoked-out country rock with hints of sarcasm and white trash, and they don’t waiver from who they are. They serve up each song from their unique repertoire with a wink, because they know that it’s working for them. Their songs let you into the life of a Darlin, even the daily minutiae: like on “Fatty Needs a Fix,” where Jesse Darlin is so hungry that she starts dropping bacon puns. Not many bands could pull that off. But especially after seeing them in concert, it’s clear that the Darlin girls live each and every one of their songs. Those Darlins set a precedent for steadfast authenticity in their music and performance—other rockers, take notes.
Those Darlins Set List:
Be Your Bro
Burn me up
Wild in the streets (garland jefferies cover)
Why can’t I?
Fatty needs a fix
Red light love
Screws get loose
Shakin all over
Whole damn thing
Every year at the Newport Folk Festival I get my fill of bluegrass from the likes of Trampled By Turtles, Chris Thile, and Sam Bush to name a few, but back home in Boston I never know where to turn to get my fix. That was until I hit the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge on Tuesday night to check out Hickory Strings.
Each Tuesday night of the month Cantab hosts some of Boston’s best bluegrass musicians and with this past Tuesday being my first look into the Boston bluegrass scene, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. Hickory Strings played an hour long set highlighted by some impressive musicianship from each band member.
Geoff Brown led the charge with his entrancing mandolin skills, and showed off some versatility on a few Celtic inspired songs while Mark Whitaker made playing the banjo look easier than making fun of Donald Trump’s hair. Guest fiddler Eva Walsh transported me back to Newport with a performance reminiscent of Sara Watkins and bassist Gian Pangaro pulled it all together.
What was most surprising though was the turnout that the show attracted, and on a Tuesday night nonetheless. I was expecting share my evening with a few bluegrass diehards telling stories of how they were at the very first Newport Folk Festival, not to be squeezing my way through a crowd of 20-somethings to find the exit once Hickory Strings left the stage. I applaud the Cantab Lounge and Hickory Strings for giving Boston residents a place to share some beers and some tremendous bluegrass music, can’t wait for next Tuesday.
I’m going to be honest here and tell you that up until about a week ago I was not planning on going to this show. If this isn’t your first time reading the blog you will know that we are certainly fans of both Explosions in the Sky and The Antlers, but with so many shows making stops in Boston this one kind of slipped through the cracks. Looking back on last night’s performances it could have been one of my biggest regrets of the year had I not made it out to the Orpheum last night.
The Antlers took the stage right at 730pm and I was immediately drawn in and blown away at the same time by the sound filling the room. When I listen to Hospice or Burst Apart my main focus is usually on the despondent lyrical content, but what stood out to me the most last night was how incredibly tight their live show was. The flowing soundscapes that you hear on the records are still there, but Michael Lerner’s drums were much more prevalent in tying together the swirling guitars and the sharp ring of the keyboards.
This was especially apparent on “Rolled Together” and “Putting the Dog to Sleep” as lead singer Pete Silberman showcased his impressive falsetto chops on the former and keys player Darby Cicci manufactured walls of sound on the latter all while Lerner kept a steady pace. The Antlers’ set seemed a bit short, but the great ones always do.
When Explosions in the Sky took the stage they immediately captivated the audience with the very first note and held them there up until their very last. Watching their intricate guitar work is like watching the pocket watch of a hypnotist, as I found myself lulled into a stupor by the band’s beautiful guitar build-ups only to be kicked in the teeth minutes later as each song erupts into a flurry of riffs hitting you from every angle.
The real highlight of the night for me was “The Birth and Death of the Day.” It has always been my favorite EITS song and one that definitely gets the crowd on their feet. Unlike most of their songs, they got right to the point with this one and followed an almost inside-out structure compared to the rest of their set. The song opened straight away with screeching guitars and an aural assault of cymbals and from there it continued to build and build until I felt like my head was going to explode…and it did.
Both bands worked their way through tremendous sets last night and it was totally worth having to help the Orpheum staff sweep up the pieces of my exploded brain off the floor.
After The Head and the Heart wrapped up at Royale we jumped on the Green Line to make our way over to Paradise for Rubblebucket. Since seeing them last at Brighton Music Hall in April the band still has the same uncontainable energy and killer dance moves that got them the reputation as the best live act in Boston back in 2009.
In a bit of a contrast from the THatH show that we had just come from, Rubblebucket entertained the crowd with extended jams and plenty of interaction with the crowd. Highlights from last night’s set included guitar player Ian Hersey’s face-melting solo on “Triangular Daisies” and trumpet player Alex Toth’s signature robot-esque dance moves on “Red Line Beat.” Playing a set that was heavy on their recent release Omega La La, the band inspired a constant flow of crowd surfers and even a few stage dives from the most daring of fans.
Toth was joined out on the Paradise floor by frontwoman Kalmia Traver and trombone player Adam Dotson during M&T fave “Came Out of a Lady” as they passed through the crowd horns in hand to bring the set to a close. After some minor technical difficulties the band came back for an encore that included the spacey stoner jam “Phillip’s Van” and the partially French “L’Homme.”
Take a look at the full setlist from last night’ show below and check out a clip of “Triangular Daisies” from Audiotree.