29 September 2008

Walter Meego @ Modified Tonight

Chicago dancey outfit Walter Meego are playing Modified Arts tonight, along with Ra Ra Riot and The Morning Benders.

28 September 2008

Edgefest @ Schnepf Farms 9/27/2008

I have a love/hate relationship with festivals. They're long, you inevitably miss some of the set of bands you want to see due to scheduling overlaps and walking between stages, but on the other hand you see a bunch of good bands all in one day at one moderate ticket price, you have that unique festival atmosphere, and you spend an entire day with music.

Some of the things I loved this time around included mud wrestling, band performances, and the lineup. Things I disliked included dehydration and the heat and drunks looking for fights. As to the performances...

Flobots were one of the best early performances of the day in my opinion. The sound was a little poorly mixed, and the guitarist had several gear issues which were distracting, but they themselves were able to work the crowd in the way only great openers do. The music was of course great, and they have taken some liberty when playing their songs live now which is nice to see.

Alkaline Trio was pretty disappointing this time around. I don't think they translate well to a festival atmosphere, they work best in smaller venues. Here, the songs felt less energetic and inspired, and though I love the songs, the performance did not come off as well as it has on previous tours.

Thrice was so much better than I expected, not because I expected a bad performance, far from, but I expected a performance much like the last couple I have seen in the last year, as they've released no material since then. Instead, I got a Beatles cover and The Red Death, a song from Illusion of Safety I'd neve heard live and which they said they hadn't touched in years. Quite a treat. Dustin's hesitancy to scream as much live as he used to is disappointing though. Put in a good mix of stuff spanning their discography.

Pennywise sounded like white noise almost. I blame the soundman, not them, but listening to their performance almost gave me a headache because it was so compressed. Not even on their CDs is the compression so atrocious. Still they put forth a lot of energy and when they managed to stop being a wall of noise they sounded good.

NOFX seemed either drunk, or just very goofy people. It's hard to tell because they come off the same on live CDs as they did here, though at least on CDs they fool around a little bit less. They stopped a few songs in the middle and decided to play something else instead. Played several <1 minute songs too, to fill space while thinking of a full song to play, it seemed. Still, the banter was good and quite entertaining because, as I said, they seemed not-sober. Banter is usually unessential but since that was at least 1/3 of their time on stage, it was important it was good.

Gogol Bordello was probably the best performance I saw. What more can you want from a band than cheerleaders, drumming on buckets, and an accordion? High energy, fun music, and entertaining stage antics defined te performance, and perhaps the most credit I can give them is they had people dancing out past the soundbooth. Most second stage bands couldn't even get an audience that far out.

Rise Against was alright. Solid performances of the songs, and the crowd knew most of the words to most of the songs, even out in the back. But nothing really made the performance stand out from the music on CD. The music happens to be great so it supports them well live, but they add nothing to it. They made a good call in setlist changeups though when they were forced to leave the stage due to lightning, and then only had half their set remaining once they returned. The songs they chose helped them regain momentum and hold it through the set.

Flogging Molly is really fun live. The front man is really awesome. Completely not what you'd expect to see in a Punk band, and yet totally fitting at the same time. Very high energy performance and though they take few liberties in their live versions of songs (a few added solos were sprikled in), they performance is so good you want to see this band live, not just listen to them on CD.

Atmosphere is always disappointing when I first listen to him, but by the time I stop I remain impressed. The same holds true live. For someone so well-regarded in more indie Hip-Hop circles, I always feel like his rapping is uninspired and generally lacking. At first. Then halfway into a CD/performace I just fall into it and then it becomes something else for me and it's very good.

Overall, the awesome lineup generally delivered, though a few performances lacked the extra luster I usually like to see in live music. Hopefully The Edge can put together such worthy lineups in the future. This year seemed focused on politically active bands, I wonder if there will be a theme for next year's.

23 September 2008

Vote Wilco-Fleet Foxes '08

If you're willing to pledge to vote in the 2008 election, Wilco will give you a free MP3 of a live recording they did with Fleet Foxes in Bend, Oregon this past August. "But what recording could this be?!" I'm sure you're wondering. It's a cover of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released."

Enjoy the liveliness of the live recording, because Wilco are most definitely not coming here on their current tour. To close your eyes and pretend like you're at a Wilco concert, go pledge to vote here. Happy listening and happy voting.

Beck & MGMT @ Dodge Theatre

I suppose I'd never really considered what a musical icon Beck truly is until tonight. I knew every lyric to every song, without knowing that I knew. He has mysteriously permeated the collective skull of a couple generations with scary subtlety, only leaving those who realize this to one if he's using his powers for good or evil. Regardless, he's arguably one of the most dually appreciated and unappreciated voices of our time. Has anyone else heard rumors of this being his final tour? I can't speak to the truth of them, but that possibility has come up more than once.

He opened with Loser, followed by Girl and went on to play every song he ever wrote. Or at least, that's what it felt like. In a good way. Devil's Haircut, Lost Cause, Where It's At and Think I'm In Love to name a few. One lucky duck was chosen to play guest tambourine on Black Tambourine. The winner had early 90s Anthony Kiedis hair and sorta bogarted the mic, but wouldn't you, given the chance to play live onstage with Beck? Yah, probably, in reference to the mic hogging that is, not the hair having. Of course selections from Modern Guilt were in the mix: Gamma Ray, Chemtrails, my favorite Orphans plus the title track, Youthless and Soul of a Man. I was nothing short of ecstatic that he played selections from Sea Change: Sunday Sun, Golden Age and Lost Cause. Pictures can't do it justice, but suffice to say that everyone danced, sang and left as happier, better people.

18 September 2008

The Ataris@Tempe Marketplace 9/18/2008

For a band that hasn't released any good new material since I was in high school, The Ataris still pull off a fun live show. Early in the show, I found myself wondering if the band hadn't been out of practice for some songs, because although the songs sounded alright, in a genre like Pop Punk it's completely reasonable to expect the band to be perfectly, tight...the material is not hard.

It's not that every song was off or anything of that great of magnitude, but a few of the intros were a little disjoint (once the band synched they executed pretty flawlessly), but those little details were enough to introduce doubt in my mind early on as to how good the band was going to perform.

For a good portion of the show I was further towards the back as I'd arrived just as they were starting, and I suppose I've never been one at the back of the venue before, and so I've been a little blind to how little people in the back care about who's playing. No one's singing along, dancing, and most of them are talking to their friends, not listening to the music. I enjoyed the show much more when I moved closer to the stage.

The set list was everything it could ever want to be, all fan favorites/popular songs, and nothing obscure, which was perfect crowd targeting by the band...people were there for free, not everyone was a devoted fan. It's a little depressing that their most popular song is a Don Henley cover, and not even one of their originals, but when they played it people sure did get excited for the band. The most excited the crowd ever got until the last song in fact.

The encore for the band was quite interesting and a little unexpected from a Pop Punk band. The first two songs they played were a Misfits cover (song name eludes me currently) and Rise Above (Black Flag cover). While I am aware that many Pop Punk bands took influences from Hardcore Punk bands, the last thing I expect to see at The Ataris' show is Hardcore covers. Kris is also no Henry Rollins, so needless to say the songs weren't their best performances, but they were certainly interesting to see.

Last song of the show was San Dimas High School Football Rules, and for this, the band did several interesting things. Firstly, Kris gave up his guitar in order to sing right with the crowd at the barrier. Then he asked if anyone in the audience knew how to play the song. Then the next thing you know a kid named Logan is on stage with The Ataris playing their song (like I said, the songs are not hard, but this is still quite cool). Then the crowd goes nuts once the song starts and there's crowd surfing, moshing, jumping, the works. Quite a blowout finish to the set and the evening.