Archive for the ‘Gigs’ Category

The Rat Disco

Written by

The Walkmen – The Rat

Lollapalooza – that funny word – happened in Chicago earlier this month and nothing was overpriced; minus the $60 spent on band tees. And how it felt…

Wavves brought boisterous belch-mint air, an unfortunate support act to the “saved” Mavis Staples and her insistence on a specific presence, but petition I won’t for the charm felt safe. The New Pornographers offered glitter guns and sterling recognition of a hot day and fan fascination, as the Black Keys wasted litres of water on swollen necks, taunting a moisture purged audience. Friday night’s end granted a late-to-stage-Strokes offering, one that rapidly dissolved for those fighting for air, hanging from the front fence. A battle for balance and gulp of thick air saw one pop song fused with another, all lost to us along with innocently expected comfort. Years waited, mere seconds to pass.

Stars not clear to the Chicago night visited said city early Saturday evening with a main-stage showing, as echoes of the xx devoured people’s murmurs on our way to a raucous meet of Gogol Bordello set mania. Metric’s Emily Haines paused for a brief moment of costume-change rest: white sunglasses to red – a necessity. Spoon and Cut Copy spat magic behind our picnic-perched backs, before Phoenix wooed the open-mouthed gang with Playground Love whispers in the evening’s Air.

Sunday morning Dodos presented us with rain and time to breathe, before the Cribs screamed, made noise with their toy guitars, and but for the reference of records would be indecipherable through each word and note. MGMT brought pop-bounce and the National screamed their way to the finishing line, surprisingly impressive for a non-American, uninformed to their musical wit. And the Arcade Fire. Oh, it’s been a few moments since the debut album obsession began and although those songs fell from my ears and impression, such a majestic performance was felt through each vein. The rediscovery; sure to be the greatest.

[I forgot about Friday’s Walkmen. Make sure you do not.]

Review: The Hold Steady at the Showbox 08/17

Written by

The Hold Steady – Chill Out Tent

I dragged my childhood friend Freeze to a The Hold Steady concert at the Showbox. We hadn’t seen each other since Love’s wedding eight months ago.

“I don’t enjoy concerts as much as I used to,” she said. “This isn’t really my scene anymore.”

And I understood. A mountain of a man, well over six feet and 300 pounds, beyond drunk, spent most of the concert hurling his body into the people around him, shoving Freeze around. He chucked his sandal into the crowd, his dull eyes following its flight. Then he stumbled forward, ready to part the sea of people before him or crush whoever didn’t move until he found his footwear again.

I wanted to elbow him in the temple, let him succumb to unconsciousness.

By contrast Craig Finn spilled unadulterated joy on the stage. With his polo shirt and nerdy glasses, he looked like any geek delighted that people actually came out to see him.

His speak-singing, punctuated by outstretched/imploring arms, was as earnest as his teenage girl narrators, telling the stories of Christians toking up and listless boys embracing the boredom of white suburbia. Curls of marijuana smoke licked at the colored lights as Finn sang:

Heaven is whenever / we can get together / sit down on your floor / and listen to your records.
Heaven is whenever / we can get together / lock your bedroom door / and listen to your records.

Finn’s goofy demeanor meant that his bright smile could only be taken as sincere. He claps like a bubbly child whenever one of his band-mates performs one of their monster guitar solos. “Rock is real people in a real room with real instruments playing real music,” he said, imploring us to clap along.

Real people – real sweaty people – bundled into each other, only the fabric they clothe themselves in separating the bodies as the entire crowd heaved forward during the upbeat tunes.

I raised my hand like in a worship song as we communed in songs of teenage angst and 20s listlessness.

Freeze, inside of me there is a recklessness and a destructive bent and an uncouth teenager. This is still my scene.

[You should really buy Boys And Girls In America, preferably at one of the stops in The Hold Steady’s tour.]

Cast a cold Eye on life

Written by

Sharon Robinson – Alexandra Leaving

You’ve [almost] [possibly] never been.

To a moment where you whisper to “Yours, L. Cohen” through drizzly air; whispers of wishes for further days and contentment for each and every candle whip of light that remain.

“I don’t know when I’ll be around these parts [“Yeats’ county”] again.”

He wouldn’t allow us to set our own tone, our own world – he forced the question, the thought: the chance of adjoining edges to his lifes frame. The concluding paragraph. The finishing touches.

“Like a baby, stillborn, like a beast with his horn – I have torn everyone who reached out for me.”

The gut wrings with prudish rejection when it hears something so crass, something lost in the plain sight of previous visits and views and listens. You see, for the most part, I see Cohen as a comic. Not meant as a negative: he grasps at irony and dangles brimming tales in front of us to toss and devour whole, but then there’s true tragedy – and until now the tragedy of Bird On A Wire, that specific line, such tragedy was lost to me.

“The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both,
Beautiful, one a gazelle.”

When he smiles, we do. Keyboard skills [basic notes on Tower Of Song] met with claps and bellows of reverence and veneration. Cohen’s rebuttal? “Thank you, music fans.” A world in cahoots could author no line so love inducing.

There were a few sporadic seats untouched. Still some who don’t [won’t ever] get it.

[Everybody knows you and me and the things we do.]

Leave me alone, I’m in control. I’m in control.

Written by

The Strokes – Take It Or Leave It

OK, let’s talk about The Strokes’ show at Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, on Thursday night: I’m not going to pretend to care about the opening acts (who were, by the way, Gypsy & The Cat and The Like) because let’s face it: everybody was waiting for Julian, Albert, Nick, Nikolai, and Fabrizio to hit the stage. The openers were good, they were somewhat entertaining, but in the way they performed and interacted with the crowd it felt as if even they knew everybody was hanging around to see the headliners play.

A band so deeply idolised by the indie cluster who dearly adore Julian’s close-fisted singing-into-the-microphone style attracted a surprisingly violent mosh. There were elbows thrown, toes trod on, gadgets and jackets lost, and tears and expulsions throughout the night. I started the evening two people away from the barrier and finished six or seven rows back, to the side, jumping deliriously as Julian screamed in his ever-waning voice, “He’s gonna let you down!”

I met ginger-haired freckle-faced op-shop jacket wearing Jerry’s with irritatingly high-pitched voices and a defined articulation. I tangoed with trashy blondes wearing leopard skin tights and a lack of inhibition. I frowned at the alpha-dogs thrashing about in their band merchandise with a bottle of Smirnoff double-black in their hands (I know, right?) tilting unsuspecting strangers on their sides with their unbridled aggression.

But, all things said, The Strokes fucking rocked.

Forget going through a list of the songs. Forget talking about how “Last Nite” was met with a chorus of bellowing screams and body jerking. Forget how Julian’s between-song chatter was pretty funny (at one point, he looks at the beaten crowd and says, “I see a lot of beautiful women and violent movements,” prompting more body jerking and screams).

Forget detailing every minute and moment; I’m surprised I remember any of it.

(photos posted courtesy of

[Check my pre-concert ramblings for pathways to the albums. Daniel was supposed to post today, but he’s making a four-hour round trip to a Leonard Cohen concert and asked for one of us to deputise in his absence. I wish him a magical experience.]

Scalpers and ballroom dancing

Written by

Wolf Parade – No One Saves The Day [ Live]

When I saw Wolf Parade at the Showbox in Seattle on Monday, I killed some time before the show started by smoking a cig out front of the venue. My addiction’s been acting up lately.

Most of the members of Wolf Parade did the same. At one point a scalper approached guitarist Dan Boeckner and tried to sell him a vastly overpriced ticket. Boeckner declined, mentioned he was in the band, and they seemed to joke about it for a bit.

I’m not a big fan of going to shows alone. The shared experience of concerts is pretty ineffable, so having a friend you can turn and look at after the show and see the same gleam in his eyes or upturned corners of his lips helps cement the memory. That’s the same reason I usually dislike bootlegs; too much is lost.

Flying solo for this show ended up working out pretty alright, since I spent most of it with my eyes closed dancing my little white boy dance. It was the most cockrocktastic show I’ve ever been to. I’m pretty sure my penis grew two inches just from feeling the vibrations from those cockrockin’ tunes.

Some of the cheering after songs was louder than the music itself, and Dan mentioned that he enjoyed the “house party vibe” going on in the audience.

During the jam at the end of closer Kissing The Beehive, a guy named Page, who I had met out front, approached me with his hand extended. I went to shake it, but he moved it out, so instead I went in for a hug, figuring we were both drunk and that’s what drunk people do.

“That’s not what I was going for,” he yelled. “Spin.”

So we clasped hands above our heads and spun each other, awkwardly, self-consciously, like ballroom dancers.

Dan should have bought a ticket. Whatever he spent would have been worth it.

[Buy EXPO 86 and download Pardon My Blues.]


Written by

Julian Casablancas – Left & Right In The Dark

I feel as if anything I say will endanger my friendship with Daniel.

(I have neither the superlatives nor the ability to play down just how keen I am to amble along to this gig merrily drunk with the evening in hand.)

But I will briefly chat about the song. It has a clever trick up its sleeve: the 4:59 length prickles with a chipper electric sound smothered by a throaty vocal that tempts you into joining the choral hook – something Julian has ever had a knack for (see: entire discography)


[If you must know, iTunes are offering Phrazes For The Young at a charitable $4.99. You’d be downright insane to not take advantage of that.]