The first band this night was Kid Future. Now if I
didn't know better and just saw the name listed, I'd assume Kid
Future was a DJ playing some sort of electronica music. Do they
even still call it electronica music, or is everything
specified by it's specific subgenre? House, Downbeat, Jungly,
Shitbizzle, Big Poppy, Horse Penis, whatever, I'm not
good with those fancy genres. All I know is they didn't sound
nothing like that - rather, it was catchy indie pop. The
singer had a great, deep voice, which was a little surprising given he
was such a small guy. I thought he looked
familiar, and it turns out his brother is the singer for another great
local band Mount Weather (also apparently I've
played basketball with him, which means he probably scored over my
shitty defense). And where I compared Mount
Weather to the Psychedelic Furs, I'd compare the brother's band to
another great group from the 80's, XTC. They're
not a carbon copy or anything, but the keyboards and song structures
reminded me of them somehow. And those
keyboards are a huge part of the band's sound - at only three band
members and no bass, the keys really have to
do a lot of heavy lifting to keep the songs together. In this
jackasses mind a bassist would really round their sound
out, but what the hell do I know. I do know they are a very
intriguing young band I hope to see more from in the future.
Is it possible that the best local band I've seen in months I only
half-ass watched because I was busy trying to catch
the fourth quarter of an NBA playoff game? Well that was the case
with the Light Pines. I kept saying
I was going
focus my attention at the stage when the stupid game ended or was out
of reach, but the damn thing was close until
the end and actually lasted longer than Light Pine's set. So
while I can't speak with much authority about their live
show, they sounded absolutely fantastic. They didn't really sound
like anyone in particular but sounded like a lot of
things all at the same time. There were a few songs that reminded
me of Doves, but not enough so that I'd compare
the band to them as a whole. One thing that really stuck with me
was what a heavy drum sound they had - not heavy
as in heavy metal fast double-bass drumming, but just really forceful,
domineering drums that really led the direction
of the band. That probably doesn't make any sense and now it
sounds like I'm describing some dirty hippie drum
circle. Anyways, despite being distracted by Kevin Durant hanging
a loss on the Los Angeles Kobes (sadly the
Zombie Sonics eventually lost the series), this band really left an
impression on me and I can't wait to see them
again. Or see them for the first time, if you will.
I missed Midlake the last time they rolled through town, and nearly
drove to Asheville to see them last time they were
in the state but caught a case of the lazies. But this time,
there would be no missing them - they were bringing John
Grant on tour.
John Grant was the singer for
the criminally underrated band the Czars. And when I say
"criminally", I mean to say if
you haven't listened to them you should be arrested for being an
idiot. Their album "The Ugly People Vs. the Beautiful
People" is easily one of my top ten favorite records of the previous
decade, maybe even top five. Sadly, the Czars
split up before I ever got a chance to see them play, but I did get to
see Grant perform solo soon after the split and at
least got to hear him sing a few of those songs live. And now I
was going to get to see Grant again, making me as
excited as a teenage boy in a adult film superstore.
My previous live experience just had Grant sitting in front of a piano
crooning, but after the first song this time it was
a full live band experience, including members of Midlake. He had
just released his first solo record "Queen of
Denmark", and the set list mirrored most of this record (along with a
an unreleased song or two from the same era).
Grant has the best (or at least my favorite) voice going today, and I'm
here to tell you it's just as strong if not stronger
live than it is on record. The weird thing about these solo songs
are how strange/cynical/funny they are, not nearly
as serious as you'd expect to hear from a voice like his. It's
really my only complaint about Grant, that the lyrical con-
tent almost lessens the power of his voice, but who am I to second
guess a man's song choices. It was still a damn
fine show, and while I'm sure most of the crowd had no idea who he was
hopefully he won over a few new fans. He
surely deserves it.
was a clusterfuck of awesomeness. The band had seven members, and
four of them were guitarists. Like
any good band there was a full time flutist, but there were occasions
when a couple of dudes were blowing the metal
pipe (this description also works for gay robot porn). In fact,
the greatest moment of the night was when two of the
guitarists were playing leads in conjunction with two flute solos, it
was almost as awesome as watching Jethro Tull play
in front of a mirror.
Jokes aside, they played a great set. All those guitars might
have been overkill, but it sounded magical to my ears. It
was a pretty long set, at least an hour and a half, and I'd guess they
played pretty much every song from their last two
records "The Trial of Van Occupanther" and "The Courage of
Others". Yes, everyone went nuts when they played
"Roscoe", but for good reason as it's a fantastic song. Even the
(what looked like) Marines on shore leave standing in
front of me were loving the show, in between one of their two or three
dozen trips to the bar and/or bathroom. Seriously,
they probably drank fifteen beers each - they wanted to party with some
slightly proggy art rock, and by god they did it
to the fullest.
with Nuclear Power Pants
Tir Na Nog
Even at my advanced age, I still occasionally get surprised by an
opening band. Nuclear Power Pants showed up
on free night at Tir Na Nog, the rare out-of-town entry (they're from
Baltimore according to the stage banter) to an
otherwise locals-only event. They were an eight-piece band, with
five musicians (drums, bass, two keyboardists and a
sax player, but no guitarists), two female back-up singers, and a lead
singer wearing a poncho and looking like he
could be the brother to Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington. Everyone
but the singers were dressed up in these weird pac-
man/trianglehead costumes covered in day-glo paint, and there were
blacklights everywhere, so shit was glowing like
crazy. It may take further listening to decide if the excitement
was from their live performance, the crazy outfits, the
music, or some sort of combination of those elements, but the crowd was
absolutely loving it. The music was kind of a
punk/new wave combo, maybe Devo meets Brainiac with a little Residents
thrown in there (though that may just be the
costumes forcing the final part of that comparison). Anyways,
they did a really weird and great cover of Bruce Spring-
steen's best song "Highway Patrolman", the crowd danced a lot, I took
some shitty photos and bobbed my head, and
all was well in the world.
And guess who else played that night - Lonnie Walker! I think
I've seen these guys play more often in the past year
than I've seen my family (not that there's anything wrong with
that). It was stripped down version of the band, just three
members (the non-singing guitarist dude and the keyboard lad were off
gallivanting in Europe or something). Some-
how they lost two members but got more rockin'. It was a good
show, but I did miss those soft organ lines trickling in
and out of the songs. The set list was what you'd expect (this is
code for me saying they played a lot of songs they
always play that I've never bothered to learn the names to, mostly
because my brain is at capacity due to memorizing
crap like all of the G.I. Joe character names and the complete dialogue
to "Blazing Saddles"), and Brian Corum was
the typical zany frontman he always is. You're in a good place in
life when one of your problems is seeing Lonnie
Walker play too often.
"Say, any of you
boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained
in the metallurgic arts before
strained circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?
Here are a few of my favorite tracks from the latest "Hear Here"
compilation, a grab bag of mostly great local bands. Birds of Avalon - Telepathic
Creep. Hammer No More The Fingers - The
Visitor. Lonnie Walker - Feels
Like Right. The Rosebuds - Brad
Cook Is Not Your Man.
Little Joy - Brand
New Start. This self-titled album is a damn near
perfect summer record. Of course I really got into
it over this past winter, mostly because I'm stupid and not very timely
with my musical selections.
One's Better Sake.
Mount Vicious - Steroid
Unicorn. It's only fitting that these guys have been
broken up for months and I'm just now get-
ting around to posting this. If I didn't have tardiness I'd have
nothing at all.
Richmond Fontaine - Montgomery
Park. These guys have a bazillion good records but it
seems like no one listens
to them. Get with it people.
The Rantouls - Chug-A-Lug.
San Jose's finest! Not a phrase you can say very often when
talking about bands.
Thomas Function - Blasphemer's
Union. It took me a bunch of listens for Thomas
Function to really sink in, but
now you can count me as a big fan.
in the Grass.
Wavves - Lover.
I'm still not sure if I like this band, but this song is pretty