Saturday, December 3, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
First up, after a full hour of nothing, and oh my god up for too long, Kids at the Bar. Two dudes, two soundboards, one laptop. They DJed for 75minutes. I don't know that it wasn't all preprogrammed - sure they were turning knobs and hitting buttons, but it never correlated with what was coming out of the speakers. One of the guys, Red Plaid Dude, was at least a little excited. Dude in Black just stared at his board and drank a beer the whole time. It might have worked in a club of people looking to dance, but the crowd waiting for a band was... displeased. It would have been fine for 30min, but 45min in and everyone was antsy. After an hour and fifteen we practically applauded that they were leaving.
Next, Natalia Kills. I actually really liked her and her legging clad band. She had a great stage presence, a badass attitude, and the voice to back it up. Her live performance was even better than the recorded music on her site. She seemed a little stiff at the beginning of the set, probably from nerves and wondering how the crowd would react, but by the end she was smiling and captivating. "Free" and "Acid Annie" stood out, as well as her cover of "Fuck You" by Cee Lo Green. I might not go out to see her again, but I'd definitely be happy if she was opening for someone else I was seeing.
Then Kids at the Bar came back! As soon as their little DJ cart came back out the crowd let up a collective groan. This time we only had to put up with them for 30min, but that meant they'd been on stage for almost two hours total. It was brutal.
Then finally The Sounds. We were maybe two feet from the stage and it was loud and intense. We were so close to the guitarist's monitor that the mix was off, but it was still so amazing. The Sounds' songs are meant for crowds to sing out, with repeated verses and lots of yelling. Maja is an amazing front woman, strutting and kicking and singing in five inch heels. She has this aura of complete badassery, while still being gorgeous.
From a stripped down piano and crowd sung "Night After Night" to "Ego" to "Song With a Mission," the crowd and the show both pumped with energy. I'm not sure how to describe how having Maja Ivarsson singing about two feet away from you, staring at you, will make you sing out the words to prove that you can. The whole band was having fun and rocking out, and they're one of only a few bands to whom I'd give the label "rockstars." It's something about the presence and the all consuming energy, as though every point in that room was focused on the stage.
Stumbling out into the cold afterward and onto a broken down Red Line, we ran into other concert goers who shared our sentiments of bad DJing openers, attractive guitarists, and charismatic singers. As soon as it was over, I wanted it to start again.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
"From this point on, The Academy Is... belongs to you. Feel free to listen. Listen as loud as you'd like."
But this was the music that, three summers ago, got me moving. 2008 is the angriest I've ever been, driving for hours every day to a life I'd decided I didn't want, no idea where I wanted to be except for anywhere else.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Get it Daddy - Sleeper Agent
There used to be a stretch of highway, South on 95 from 495 to Pawtucket, that meant getting out and loud music with the windows down. Last night this was North on the same stretch, windows up, wipers against the rain, wondering just where the road lines had gone and where I was going.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Guster and Jukebox the Ghost at Brandeis University, September 24, 2011.
The first time I heard Jukebox the Ghost, I probably wished they would turn it down. My sophomore year dorm was in the Brandeis castle, two rooms away from the coffee house that hosted small bands. This was great at times when I wanted to watch my friend's comedy clubs perform, or the few times when I performed there myself with the swing dancing troupe, but awful the nights before large organic chem exams when I could not study with reverberating hipster noise bands pounding through the walls.
So the first time I heard a Jukebox show, it was technically at Brandeis. However I did not know who they were until the next night when I escaped campus for the safety of a dark club and guitars. I stumbled upon Jukebox the Ghost completely by accident at the Middle East, and was always a little sad to find that what would become one of my favorite bands had literally played in my dorm. So it was fitting that my ninth Jukebox show was back at Brandeis.
It was awful, however, that it was the year after I graduated. My loyal Jukebox buddy and best friend, whom I had taken to seven shows with me, was across the country in Texas, and I and my friends were those weird kids who graduated and then came back. I've been trying to avoid campus as much as possible, despite the fact that I still know a lot of seniors, but seeing friends and former students made it alright.
I've written about Jukebox and Guster shows multiple times already, and they still rock live, so there's really no point of repeating myself. Jukebox played a few new songs, which were good, but their mix was a little off for such a large crowd and their lack of playing "Victoria" made me a touch disappointed. Their "Power of Love" cover remains fabulous and they had fun and that's really all I require. Guster was also good, music that everyone knows and feels at some point, and included a rap of their perishable food items that they donated to the audience. I've had things thrown at me at concerts before (bottles, clothing, and that one odd toothbrush) but I will admit to having never before been pelted by an avocado.
It was good, it was fun, and though it was hot and the dude in front of me kept throwing his elbows dangerously close to my nose, I had a good time. But it wasn't right, the crowd wasn't right for the music, and what is a Jukebox show without a best friend to laugh with?
Saturday, September 24, 2011
But now, TalkToTheWalls has covered it and it's okay for me to publicly like it! Enjoy the pretty, slightly out of sync video below.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
I haven't posted a 300th yet because what could deserve that spot? I can think of nothing better at the moment than the stream of The Horrible Crowes' new album, "Elsie."
Brain Fallon described it as darker than Gaslight Anthem albums, and he's right, but it's also more soulful. He called for boys in ties and girls in pretty dresses at the shows, and I agree. It makes me want to slow dance in a dark room, heels slowly turning over a wood floor. Hair pulled up and lips a bright red, heavy lids and polka dots. "Last Rites" is a walk on the beach afterwards, shoes hanging from the fingers of one hand, the others twined in someone else's. It's got this old movie feel with that underlying pull of always reaching for something that Fallon's voice and lyrics always carry.
Go give it a spin.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
I discovered the other night that one of my friends doesn't know who Hanson is.
Now, I was never a crazy Hanson fan, but in second grade the girl down the street had her walls covered in magazine cutouts and posters and CD liners. I spent a lot of time listening to "MMMBop". (The date on that says 1997. I cannot believe that sitting around on Alyssa's bed listening to Hanson and The Spice Girls was 14 years ago. So crazy.)
I showed my friend “MMMBop” and she said it sounded familiar but she was convinced the people singing it were young girls. The night progressed and I never got to show her recent Hanson, but I just thought of it now, as I realized I haven’t really listened to anything recent of theirs either. I found “Give a Little” and it is just too cute not to post.
Definitely not girls.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
SPIN, for the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind, released a cover version of entitled Newermind. The accompanying issue calls it "the album that changed everything" and yeah, it was.
Nevermind came out when I was two, and I had the chorus of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" scrawled on the back of my planner sophomore year of high school. I don't think I own a physical copy of Nevermind because my copy was a burned CD from a friend, songs out of order and interspersed with The Dropkick Murphys. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is one of the first music videos I remember seeing. Nevermind inspired Rivers Cuomo to write The Blue Album, and inspired countless other artists to write songs and pick up guitars.
SPIN is currently giving the album away for download on their facebook page. I don't love all the covers, but they do show how far reaching of an impact the album has had. All of these different bands have been connected somehow by this 20 year old album. My favorite might be “Polly” by Amanda Palmer, as it’s one of my favorite Nirvana songs sung by one of my favorite artists in a creepy lullaby. I will always hold a special place in my heart for Butch Walker as well, and “In Bloom” is great. And I haven’t made it through the whole album yet, but “Breed” has made me admit that maybe Titus Andronicus isn’t all bad.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
I love the concept of the video, the two sides of the mirror, the reality and the dream.
But it's something about the tone of the song, the feel, and the idea. I've had this idea for years, one I'm trying so hard to disavow myself of, that life just ends at 30. If you don't do it before thirty, accomplish it before thirty, make it before thirty, then you never will. Once you're thirty, everything stops and either you've made it or you haven't.
I have just under eight years left.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I like it, but from the build up I'd been expecting something deeper and slower and darker. The lyrics are there but the music is lighter than I expected. I'm really intrigued as to what the rest of the album is going to sound like.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
The Smoking Gun just published the Foo Fighters 2011 Tour Rider. Well, they published a part of it, the ten page guide to appropriately feeding four grungy dudes. It's done as a coloring book, with activity pages and helpful illustrations, and is worth a look for the chuckle. I can just imagine some poor venue staffer circling words in the crossword, probably torn between laughter and tears. Sure, it's a change of pace from the normal list of groceries, but at what point do you step back and realize that your career choice has rockers forcing you to color in appropriate salad accoutrements?
I'm not sure if I'd qualify that as the best job ever or the worst.
PS The "No Brown M&Ms"? An easy way for Van Halen to check if someone had actually read the rider. A brown free bowl meant everything else was probably all set too.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I love the new trend of making lyric videos before the official is released. I used to spend hours watching typography videos, have always found them super cool, and I appreciate this new wave done by the bands and record companies themselves. It's smart for them, a way to push the song before they spend the money on a true video, I just wish the internet wasn't stripping down the fan videos as well. People used to make some really interesting ones but alas, copyrights and all that jazz.
After spending much of last night playing with After Effects myself, though, I feel even happier about this than I would have normally. Dear typography, I will master you myself soon enough.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Everything, every decision and choice and path has brought me right here. Here might not always be paradise, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. And right now, it's perfect.
"You can dream a little dream or you can live a little dream, I'd rather live it, 'cause dreamers always chase but never get it."
Saturday, May 14, 2011
I missed Fake Problems when they came through the area with Tim Barry a couple of months ago, and had decided to go see them when they came through this time, but then the end of my senior year got in the way and I never bought tickets. But when a friend called with an extra ticket and a need for a concert buddy, I couldn't turn it down.
First up was Into It. Over It. Just a guy and his acoustic and I loved it. he talked to the crowd and described the stories that formed the songs and it was great. The crowd was also the most silent crowd I have ever heard, politely and raptly paying attention. Good stuff.
Next up, Pomegranates. The music was cute and they were kind of bouncy but the vocals were just okay and everything was distorted to the point of sounding watery.
Laura Stevenson and the Cans. I think she might have been having an off night. She sounded good but she was obviously unhappy with it and they were having trouble with getting their monitors right and it was just a bit off. But the accordion backed guitars were very pretty and her songs were sweet. I didn't realize until she was playing that I'd actually heard her before, in the following video. It's not really my style, but it's kinda cute indie.
And finally, Fake Problems. They bounced out onto stage and launched into "Soulless" with so much energy that even though I'd been falling asleep on my feet I had to dance and bounce and sing along. Most of what they played was super upbeat, so I was afraid they wouldn't add "Songs for Teenagers" in, but they ended the set with it and I couldn't have been happier. It wasn't a huge crowd, didn't even fill upstairs, but they were screaming along and loving it. The energy was overwhelming and I do not understand why these boys aren't bigger.
This kind of energy and feel on a tiny live stage:
Saturday, May 7, 2011
My Chemical Romance at the House of Blues Boston, May 5, 2011
Last Friday was my thesis defense, my last hurdle of college and arguably the day that I had spent the past two years working towards. This meant that I spent most of last Thursday panicked, chest tight and heart racing. So I went out to a concert.
The Architects and Thursday were first and they were good but I was still trying to calm down here and find my place in the crowd. My brain was not in that club. Springfest, the annual University concert, had been the weekend before and some friends and I had been pretty close to the stage when the crowd started to press in before the final band. Surrounded by bodies and jumping and movement I was ready for music, but my friends were uncomfortable and dragged us out of the crush. Out in the open, the music didn’t feel right.
So on Thursday, I slowly pressed my way into the crowd before My Chemical Romance took the stage. I moved up slowly, politely, but wound up surrounded by people who were screaming along and jumping and moving and not caring about looking like fools. Some of them were teenage girls, but the chunk I wound up in was mostly kids in their 20s. It makes sense, I guess, that all of us who started off listening to this stuff as teenagers are growing up.
They started the set with music from the new album, and I forgot everything outside the venue. Sure, it tried to sneak its way in, but the music and the crowd were overwhelming. These are songs that the entire audience had screamed along to in cars and bedrooms, and now they were pouring their hearts out together. It was the kids upstairs, the ones leaning over the balcony with open mouths and pounding fists, clutching onto the railing with their hands and the music with their hearts who got my attention, whose faces were scattered with happiness, release, and anger.
Down on the floor, it was as though we were of one collective mind. Conducted by Gerard, we simultaneously jumped and waved and pounded our fists, sang and danced and moved. But even without his direction, there were points in the songs where our fists would all rise, where our hands would open on cymbal crashes, or entire sections of the crowd would just start jumping. This sounds a little crazy, but it’s no exaggeration that we had sacrificed our minds to the music.
And up on stage, the first band I have seen that might actually deserve the title “rockstars.” I know they used to dress in black, in uniforms and makeup and bulletproof vests, but this was the first time I’ve seen them live and their outfits will probably be stuck in my head as a violent mix of punk glam forever. Gerard practically pranced about the stage, growling and smiling and conducting, while the other three focused on pure rocking out. Gerard seemed a little meaner than I’d seen in interviews, though his mid show blown kisses to a family member and heart hands make me think it’s for the benefit of an intense show experience.
His words to us throughout the show were interesting too. He asked who in the crowd had never been to an MCR show before, and there was a huge emphasis on the “old kids” always helping out the “new kids.” It’s a great point to make, especially at shows where fans have been sticking around forever, to avoid the stupid hipster bullshit of “well, I liked them before you did.”
There was also one great line thrown at the crowd. “Belief in Rock and Roll is a smell, and I can smell it on you.”
Sure, a lot of their songs are about vampires and death and wreaking havoc, but there are also a lot of songs about not giving a fuck and believing in yourself. Stupid as it may sound, a crowd of one thousand people singing about holding on and fighting back renewed my confidence in my thesis presentation. “Girl, you’ve got to be what tomorrow needs.”
They played old and new songs, and they were fantastic. The crowd screamed just as much for “Vampire Money” as “Helena.” And of course, they played my favorite, and I started laughing.
Because three years ago, I had decided to quit science. Frustrated and angry, I even skipped a physics lab to go to a “funeral.” That funeral was Warped Tour, a celebration of the death of my science career. I spent a lot of that summer listening My Chemical Romance, but it wasn’t until about August that I bought physical copies of the CDs. When I finally did, I was not expecting the uncensored version of “I’m Not Okay.” I have a vivid memory of having headphones on in the heat of summer and dissolving into laughter, feeling like I was falling into the mattress when “I’m not o-fucking-kay” hit me out of nowhere. It was, at the time, so true that it shocked me. So last Thursday, steeped in genetics and neuroscience and confidence in my strength as a researcher, I couldn’t help but laugh at how far I’ve come in two years. “I’m Not Okay” felt like some sort of weird closure to this portion of my science career. Grad school will need a new anthem.
"Your dreams and your hopeless hair."