So the end of the month is basically here and I guess I thought I would sit down and reflect on the few shows I've seen thus far this summer. I really haven't been to that many shows, but the few I have been to were worth the cash. This upcoming Tuesday (6/30), a few of us are planning on catching the Japandroids show at the Slowdown as I am really looking forward to the duo's live performance and can only hope that it's as good as their debut. They are performing with Dim Light. The $8 show starts at 9PM.
Going back to mid-April, I saw Bonnie "Prince" Billy play at the Waiting Room in Omaha, NE. I kind of feel like the Waiting Room was an ideal venue for someone like BPB. Regardless if you listen to his music or not, he is an excellent entertainer and definitely worth the $10-15 you will most likely pay to see him. I will say his music isn't necessarily what I always like to listen to, but he is a talented artist and I very much enjoyed his show.
At the beginning of this month I saw St. Vincent play at the Slowdown here in Omaha. This again was a really entertaining show. Right away from the beginning, I was blown away at how talented of a guitarist she is. Her set started off with "Marry Me", which surprised me, but got the show off to a great start. Right after she played this, she had everyone's attention for the rest of the night. Obviously her vocals sounded amazing and I expected that, but her skill of guitar play was impressive. "Actor Out of Work" really seemed to get the crowd going and moving a round a bit. They really jammed on this song and sax part sounded great live. "Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood" (my personal favorite from the new album) was especially great guitar play by Ms. Clark where she showed off with intricate strums and amazing ad lib in the middle of the song. The show had a lot of energy and kept me on my toes all night. The show was really intimate as well since it was on the stage up front by the bar. Overall the show was very good and I would recommend attending if given the chance. A solid show, but their really isn't much else to be said about it.
The last show I have seen thus far here in June is when I traveled up to Minneapolis with my girlfriend and met up with a couple friends to see Grizzly Bear at the Cedar Cultural Center. Here We Go Magic performed before Grizzly Bear. The Cedar Cultural Center is a cool little venue near the University of Minnesota's campus. It was an intimate venue that really didn't a have bad place to stand in the whole place. Here We Go Magic took the stage after a long wait and maybe that was part of their detraction, but I really never got into their set. I really like some of their tunes on their self-titled album, but even the songs of theirs that I like didn't really stand out much. The set just didn't seem to have a lot of energy to me. Immediately following Here We Go Magic's set, Chris Taylor came out onto the stage and started fiddling with shit for about 10 minutes. It was amazing to see how much care and handling they put into their set and equipment. Taylor is obviously an expert and the brains behind bringing their stage show together. Once their set began, it was evident that all the care and handling that went into setting beforehand would definitely pay off. The set started with "Southern Point" and never looked back. Southern Point has a lot of energy on the album, but not nearly as much as it had it during their set. It was a great way to start off the show. During their set, I noticed them trying out quite a few different electronic effects on different songs, whether it be vocally or just with the different soundboards that Taylor and Droste had next to them. Most of the effects I really enjoyed and some were quite different. From there, they went right into "Cheerleader", which they just played this past Friday night on Jimmy Fallon. Next they played a couple of favorites from Yellow House, "Little Brother" and "Knife" which were both fantastic. They really rocked out on "Little Brother" and "Knife" just blew me away with Taylor's background vocals and the cool effects he used on them. They next played a hidden gem off Veckatimest, "Fine For Now" and without completely ending their sound, Rossen set his guitar down and sat in front of the keyboard and played the always warmly welcomed and long-awaited "Two Weeks" where Droste used some more cool electronic effects near the end during the chorus. This song was definitely a show-off moment for drummer Chris Bear, who was absolutely fantastic the whole night. The band mellowed things out a bit with a tranquil rendering of “Colorado” that was carried by Droste’s mesmerizing vocals and Taylor’s constant tinkering with the sound, layering radio jams and a muted saxophone over the lulling melody. Each song was met with warm, appreciative applause, causing Droste to riff a bit on a “Sunday night feels right in Minneapolis” improv, and led the band to thank the audience repeatedly during the set. But their stately and ornate songs were thanks enough for the crowd, none more so than on the pure bliss sound of “Ready, Able,” which was simply stunning and stood out as a very dignified pop moment. That was quickly followed by the harmonizing medley of “I Live With You” and “Foreground” that was a shining example of the simmering atmospherics the band can create with their music, which can be as much about mood as it is about melody at times. “Foreground” was especially diaphanous, with Droste’s delicate vocals easing the fragile timbre of the song gently onwards. Another beloved track from Veckatimest, "While You Wait For The Others" was really one of my favorite moments of the night where everything seemed to come together and was kind of the climax of the set. The subtle vocals of Rossen were complimented so nicely by his impressive guitar play while blending so well with the rest of the band and all the harmonizing "Ahhs" in the background of the song. It was pure sublime. Following this, there was a special treat of a cover, while Rossen again led the band in a Department of Eagles cover, "No One Does It Like You". Grizzly Bear closed their set with the faster half of “On A Neck, On A Spit,” (another Yellow House tune) which played as kind of a 'thank you' to the appreciative audience, and found the band really rocking out to the finish line in classic manner. It was an exuberant exclamation on a set filled with countless highlights. This was one of the best shows I have seen. Recommended (to say the least).
1. Marry Me
2. The Strangers
3. Save Me From What I Want
4. Happy Birthday [Traditional]
5. Now, Now
6. Actor Out of Work
7. Paris Is Burning
8. The Bed
9. Laughing With a Mouth of Blood
10. Black Rainbow
12. Just the Same but Brand New
13. The Party
14. Your Lips Are Red
1. Southern Point
3. Little Brother (Electric)
5. Fine For Now
6. Two Weeks
8. Ready, Able
9. I Live With You/Foreground
10. While You Wait For The Others
11. No One Does It Like You (DoE cover)
12. On A Neck, On A Spit
(Sorry couldn't find a setlist of Bonnie "Prince" Billy show)
Actor Out Of Work - St. Vincent
Wet Hair - Japandroids
I Am Goodbye - Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Fine For Now - Grizzly Bear