Alright, so first of all, I’m an idiot. Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears were the opening band for Lucero. Not the other way around. But I’ll claim ignorance on this one, on numerous fronts. Didn’t know either band well enough to know who should be supporting who. Oh well, I knew from listening to a sampling of both that they both had a good amount of good stuff to offer. I was not disappointed. Let me just say, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears tore it up! The crowd was a bit slow to fully recognize the whirlwind of a band before them. But damn, when you’re that tight, even single-celled organisms gotta give it up. They ratcheted up the energy with each song and by the end of the set, Black Joe Lewis and his stellar band had the crowd screaming for more. You can’t ask for more than that. An opening band who is not only worth showing up for, but who leaves you wishing for an immediate reprise of a headlining show? Goddamn! They were good tonight.
And yes, I was surprised–I truly had no idea BJL&TH were the opening band. Regardless, a short break later, Lucero took the stage and launched into their gritty, no-pretense set of well-crafted southern-tinged rock-n-roll. These guys are not pretty boys, they’re not gonna be anyone’s camera darlings. But that’s not to say they’re ugly dudes–they’re just normal dudes. Talented, skilled dudes, no less. And they played to a room of fans and friends. And it only woulda been better if I’d stumbled upon this show at an Elks club in Boise, Idaho, or something. It was that kind of ‘miller beer’ commercial feeling nights. Not commercial as in product, but as in the comfy, common-sense vibe you get from an ol’ skool Miller commercial. Definitely not a bad thing. That’s very nearly the exact type of welcome I’m sure either of these bands could only hope for.
So it took me a few days to get this up, but I’ve taken the long (and lovely) weekend to listen to each bands’ latest recorded efforts. And no apologies, I immediately love, and need, Black Joe Lewis’ “Tell ‘em What Your Name Is”. This is the serendipity of a perfectly-timed album and season. And with the weather Seattle’s having right now, there could not be a more celebratory album, that also manages to fade comfortably into each dusky evening. Just awesome.
I’ve given an equal listen to Lucero. Not my requisite 10 full listens, but a good solid listen to the full album. It’s good. Much better than I, or most others, could do. But it doesn’t grab me much–mostly for the same reason the show didn’t stick with me…Ben Nichols’ voice is one flavor of gritty, barroom rockin’ growl. It’s just that I’ve gotten that for years from Social D, Mark Lanegan, and Tom Waits, and Ben just sounds like their younger brother. The band doesn’t seem to stretch out enough to take advantage of Rick Steff (recently of Cat Power’s “The Greatest”) keyboard additions, and despite the legion local Lucero fans, the show didn’t seem that energetic to me. I’d still go see Lucero anytime I stumbled upon them in some convenient, unsuspecting locale. I just wouldn’t go much out of my way. But I bought their latest, and I’ll listen to it. Maybe I’ll regret the missed opportunity of seeing them before I really appreciated them. We’ll see.
Neil Young sang, “tonight’s the night”, and in that one phrase he expressed both a feeling of looking forward and a kind of resignation to what was likely to go down. But tonight, there’s no need for resignation. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears are rockin’ the Tractor Tavern, and I am looking forward to it! Now if that isn’t enough to get you off your couch, add that opening band, Lucero, are set to bring their amped-up bar band sounds of southern/punk rock to get the crowd warmed up and the night goin’ right.
Let’s set the scene here–imagine if you will, an opening band that sounds a bit like hometown heroes, Supersuckers, crossed with alt-country faves, Uncle Tupelo. Now I’m gonna come clean–I’d heard of Lucero, maybe even heard some out of the corner of my ear on KEXP, but before this morning–I hadn’t really heard their stuff. But dammit, I like it. And I don’t give a ratsass if you do or don’t. But I’d suggest you give it a listen, and why not do that at the Tractor tonight?!
Now Lucero is one thing, but Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears, well that’s a whole nother thang entirely. If I told you you could see James Brown & the J.B.’s at the height of their energetic prowess, and you could see ‘em at an intimate little place with great sound and great energy, would you even flinch before saying LET’S GO!!? If you would, please excuse yourself from this evening’s festivities. These bands are the real deal, and the deal tonight costs $17 at the door. Party starts at 9pm, and plan to bring your thirst, cuz these bands are gonna get you movin’ and tah thinkin’ ’bout drinkin’. SPOILER ALERT, tune in to KEXP at 4pm this afternoon to catch ‘em live and in studio.
Man, the weather’s great, the music’s pumping, the venue’s perfect, it’s Friday of a 3 day weekend. GODDAMN, ain’t life great?! Check ‘em out tonight or be sorry tomorrow. Don’t say Tyrone didn’t tell you so!
$8 cover to see a truly talented, and very entertaining troubador do his thang as only he can. You like Dylan, Mould, Lou Reed & LaMontagne? Then I’m sure you can find space to love Mr. Bondy too. I reviewed his gig opening for Bon Iver a few months back, so dig deeper if you want to know a bit more. If you ain’t going to the other great gigs this weekend, but you still want to hear some great tunes, I encourage you to check him out. AA Bondy, Fences, Widower – 9:30 @ The Tractor Tavern
The dynamic duo of Dulli & Lanegan (AKA The Gutter Twins) are playing Showbox at the Market this Sunday 2/15. Happy Chichester and the ever amazing Shawn Smith open. Tix are $10 + $3.65 ripoff fee today when you order thru Ticketmaster and use the offer code “monqui”. Don’t miss this cheap chance to see two of the most prolific and monolithic artists of our era, not to mention the singular song stylings of Monsieur Smith. I don’t know Happy Chichester, but this lineup and price more than justifies giving HC a listen.
So a few disclaimers right up front, cuz I know a lot of folks are going to jump to the defense of these jokers. But I love comedy. And I love seeing it performed live. And I’ve got a quirky sense of humor, to be sure. But I must be lacking a certain gene or something, because I don’t get Michael Ian Black. I first encounted Mike on I Love the 80′s. I don’t know why I paused long enough to watch the show, but I saw enough of Mikey to wonder aloud, “who the hell is that guy?! Where do these shows get these so-called celebrities or authorities or commentators or whatever you’d call them?!” Yes, that’s right, I speak in very weird sentences aloud to myself. Whatever. So I don’t get the guy. I get Woody Allen. I get Michael Palin. I get Mitch Hedberg. I get Scott Thompson. I get Brendon Small. I don’t get Michael Ian Black. So it’s probably no surprise that I didn’t quite receive, let alone get, Stella. I wanted to. I gave it the old college try. I brought a friend, and we were psyched to be going to a comedy show. We drank beers beforehand. We we’re ready to give ourselves to the moment. And it only took about 20 minutes of their ‘show’ for us to laugh. It might just be me, but that’s no comedy land-speed record.
What can I say? The venue was fine. No seats for geezers like me, and we made the mistake of watching from the (I didn’t notice) ‘all ages floor’–no drinks there. Which might’ve helped. But Neumos is as fine a place as I’ve seen comedy, and I love it for bands, so no issue there. And I was duly impressed with the 4 bldg-long line of people (who I guess were kids who grew up thinking Micky Ian Black is ‘edgy’). And I wasn’t elbowed in the ribs by a frat boy or given lip by some condescending bar troll who thinks she’s hotter than her 35 years betray. I was predisposed to hilarity. None ensued. At least not for me, or my geezer buddy I brought along. The kids laughed a bit. Sometimes they heckled in nice ways. But here’s where my bitching gains some credibility. Regardless of how you feel about MIB–their whole set, and encore (if you could call it that), is painfully scripted. As if they think that it’s ironic and wry to be blatantly choreographed and by the numbers. I kept waiting for that shtick to fall away, kept waiting for the other laugh to drop. But they just kept playing along like the retarded younger brothers of Trey Parker & Matt Stone (in other words, egotistical, but just a bit more on good behavior). As I said, it took them awhile to get going, to where it didn’t feel like they were on cruise-control. Then once they did it was like they were a car with only two gears. There was no triumphant moment where they’d won over the crowd. And the best point of the evening (judging by the crowd’s reaction) was when they played a fully produced video skit and the actual comedians took a break. Seriously! How weak is that? A video? What are they, the Cure circa Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me?! At least the Cure’s video began the show and the band took it to another level. These guys peaked while they weren’t even in the room. And again, seriously–this country’s seen too much American Idol to overlook the weak musical comedy effort lamely trotted out on this night. Flight of the Conchords could fart something more musical and funny than David Wain. I about called my dentist to schedule a checkup when Wain started to sing Billy Joel’s ‘Movin’ Out’ with a bunch of nonsense lyrics. Pulling off the broken backend of my cracked molar is a party out of bounds compared to the singular song-stylings of David Wain et al.
You get the picture. Crusty old fart fails to dig the hip young has-beens’ hoo-hah. Big deal. It’s a shame. With the world going to heck in a hand-basket, I so wanted to laugh.
Alright–so pap is a bit harsh, and none of these bands were deserving of such a off-handed dismissal. But I came to this show anticipating an evening of upbeat sugary pop, and through no fault of my own I really wasn’t in the right frame of mind for any of it. So out of fairness to the bands and in hopes of staying awake, I brought with me the only antidote guaranteed to keep me in the there and then…leftover Halloween candy. Not the rare treat of Bottlecaps, or the always gobbled Butterfingers. No, these were the leftovers. These were the trick-or-treat rejects. Not a chocolate or gum among ‘em. The uninteresting Smarties, the uninspiring Nerds, and the generic unbranded candy-corn taffy. Unloved, and untouched in the bowl on the counter. A week past Halloween and still waiting to be asked to the big dance. These candies were the fat-kids and uncoordinated geeks that get chosen last for a team. And somewhere within this bad-analogy paragraph are all the elements and personalities displayed at Chop Suey on this subdued Monday evening.
Being not exactly full of vim & vigor, I grabbed a handful of candy on my way out the door to the show. I wasn’t selective. Just a few crinkly packages of brightly colored, far from naturally-flavored corn-syrup confections. I figured, I’ll pop a few of these during each band’s set, and that way I should not only make it to the end of the evening, but I might even get enough gas to get my ass movin’ to the grooves. I even laid off the obligatory social-lubricant libations. I was on dead set on finding candyland.
Did I ever find it. But it was more chutes and ladders than visions of sugarplums. I don’t eat a lot of candy, but I don’t go out of my way to avoid it. And there’s always a bowl full at work. But I can’t remember the last time I got a full-on sugar buzz goin’. The candies didn’t last more than midway through the second band, and I was already flying high by the end of the first band’s set. And as the night wore on, it became clear to me why sugar isn’t my drug of choice. Sugar, and candy specifically, have their appeal. But with the rush comes the crash, and after that you’re left just as unsatisfied as before you had it. As the first band schlepped their gear off the stage, I found myself no longer craving energy and instead wondering if I’d be able to get to sleep that night.
Apparently the crowd didn’t get the same idea or buzz I had. Maybe it was the 6 day hangover from election night elation, but the crowd seemed either a bit reserved or a bit lethargic. Chalk it up to a Monday, but there were a lot of wallflowers in attendance this night. Maybe they were waiting for someone to ask them to dance?
Read the rest of this entry »
This is a public service announcement for fans of The Liars Club – upcoming shows:
- Tues 9/16 @ The Rendezvous Jewel Box
- Weds 9/24 @ High Dive 9/24 w/Autolite Strike and Pelvis
- Thurs 10/30 at The Bit Saloon w/9lb Beaver and Sister Hyde.
One can never have enough lyin’ sons-a-bitches in their life!
Just as with the Raconteurs show at Neumos a few months back, this show featured top-notch artists at their peak playing ‘you- shoulda- been- there’ sets. The sound was great, the energy was better and the crowd was enrapt.
Night Canopy (AKA Amy Blaschke) was up first, and Amy more than held up her end of the bargain in performing her songs without benefit of backing musicians. This is always my worry with acoustic and/or folky bands whose recorded music features multiple contributors and layers of instrumentation and production–how are they gonna pull it off live with or without a band? Amy single-handedly nailed it.
Night Canopy covers a lot of ground, with vocals ala Chan Marshall & Neko Case, drawing on song structures reminiscent of The Beach Boys, Blondie and even Jesse Sykes, and the home demos sound as if Amy’s backed up by The Shins. No easy trick–and even tougher to reproduce live with just a guitar and one voice. Amy delivered, and she’s definitely a local artist deserving of a listen and a live look. Check out her MySpace to see if you disagree with my assessment (go ahead, disagree–I can take it).
Next up was ‘Gus’ AA Bondy. Here was a confident, skilled performer playing songs which are not exactly ‘disposable pop fluff’. You never know how well a relatively-unknown-’round-here edgy, gritty & witty performer will come across to nicey-nice Seattleites. That’s where song craft and performance chops separate the men from the boys. Gus quickly dispensed with the awkward formalities, launching into a compelling set playing a flawless finger-picking style, with a commanding delivery that brought to mind the vocals of Ray LaMontagne, the hooks of Velvet Underground, and the storytelling of Cash and Cohen. Bondy quickly drew the respect of the crowd and when he exhorted the entire Bon Iver band to join him onstage for his last song, “American Hearts”, he truly won over the hearts of all in attendance. I urge you to give him a listen here http://www.myspace.com/aabondy
Bon Iver emerged after a short intermission and made quick work of introducing themselves, sharing that this was the end of the tour, and that they were psyched to play and give it their all. And that they very much did. If you don’t know BI’s “For Emma, Forever Ago”, you owe it to yourself to give it a spin. And don’t just give it a half-ass song or two. This album is a cohesive work from start to finish. Justin Vernon’s vocal style is not for everyone, and yet it so perfectly communicates the moods of the album. Bon Iver are now more than just Justin and an album of multi-tracked vocals. They are now a full-fledged band, and one hell of a band at that. They somehow managed to produce the vast majority of the bells and honks and string washes and clangs and everything else that is intertwined within the songs of “For Emma”–and short of backing up Gerald McBoingBoing, I don’t know if they could’ve done more to faithfully reproduce one of last year’s most underappreciated albums. And they did it all while being funny, warm, even dorky at times. They’re extremely likable, and they rocked the house. It’s not often I would find myself wanting to hear more of 4 guys singing harmony together–it’s just not what turns my crank–but these guys and these songs are so good at their essence, that I found myself amazed and entranced and clapping wildly for more. Justin told us this was the greatest tour and time of his life, and that it would not be the last. Judging by everything we saw this night, there can be no doubt about that.
P.S. Bon Iver will be on Conan this week (not sure when, so watch for it).
An outstanding night at Neumos, and a sort of triumph to see that even during the height of the mighty Bumbershoot, three folksy bands could pack the house and tear it down in such a memorable way.
Greetings and “good winter” from Bon Iver (‘bone eevair’ in Americanese), Night Canopy and AA Bondy. Here’s a short-notice heads-up on a great show taking place at Neumos tonight.
I fell in love with Bon Iver (AKA Justin Vernon) when my wife brought home “For Emma, Forever Ago” after hearing it on KEXP. Whether you take it song by song or listen to the album as a whole–and no matter where you or your head is at–you’re gonna be transported into a strange but comforting place where the heart is both breaking and hopeful and the mood is parts withdrawn and triumphant. The album has texture and depth and layers of instrumentation buried so subtly that you want to keep listening so you can begin to peel them back while you feel your way into the warm darkness within. If you can’t make the show, I recommend the album highly. And the story behind the recordings makes it all the more intriguing. Check it out and see for yourself.
The opening acts, Night Canopy and AA Bondy are also really intriguing. I researched them after seeing the acts on the playbill, and I was really impressed with both artists’ songs and sound. Should be a nice complement to a night that will no doubt run the gamut of emotions and dynamics.
Bon Iver, Night Canopy, AA Bondy – $12 @ Neumos, doors open at 8pm.
Went and saw The Liars Club Saturday night at The Bit Saloon. Perfect place to see them. Seemed like their kind of crowd.
Interesting night all around…Monty Python references abounded–from the ‘Spam’ door stamp, to the “I Fart in Your General Direction” t-shirt the bartender wore. Didn’t help that my buddy and I had just randomly seen the Spam sketch prior to heading out that night. Was it predisposition or preordained?–I’ll never tell.
I must admit, I didn’t catch much more than peripheral audio from opening band, Pablo Trucker–not an indictment of their music, it’s just that I happened to be playing the world’s longest game of “Elvira” pinball ever. Won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say The Bit’s table ain’t quite right.
I was pleasantly surprised by the unassuming Seeing Blind. They had energy, something very unique to offer, and even though their tunes weren’t really my thing the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves. I mean they have a cellist, fer chrissakes! And her contributions were no gimmicky afterthought. Overall, quirky, skillful, arty stuff without putting on arty attitude. Check ‘em out if you like your rock infused with a bit of jazz and an odd quasi-mix of Throwing Muses, Jeff Buckley and Tori Amos. (Don’t blame them if the comparisons are off. Again, not my area of expertise).
Round about midnightish The Liars Club came on. Guitarist, Chris, had let me in on the prior night’s drama–Bassist, Alex, had either severely sprained and/or broken his left fretboard-fingering wrist. Thing was all swollen up and wrapped in a brace, but there he was–ingesting various suggested ‘pain-relievers’ and downing medicinal adult-libations. And at the volume The Liars Club played, I can honestly say I couldn’t tell if Alex was ‘on’ or ‘gone’. It was my first time seeing The Liars Club live, and I gotta say they did not disappoint. Sufficiently loud, sufficiently energetic (especially with newish drummer, Steve), and sufficiently polite (singer K.C praised a show-goer for his ‘metal-hair’). It’s true–dude was fully metal from the frizz halo around his Mustaine-do to the toes of his butt-rockin’ boots. The Liars Club weren’t dissin’ on him either–they were sincerely appreciative of his attendance and style. That about sums up their vibe that night. Happy to rock some faces, and makin’ the best of The Bit’s small space (K.C patrolled the crowd like a death-spiraling fish in a tank). I’ll give ‘em a Bronze, with most of the minus being a technical deduction for the apparent physical handicap. Nevertheless, they medal (or should I say ‘metal’)–and I’m pretty sure next time I see them they’ll stand taller on the podium. (and there will be a next time).
If there’s anyone out there who hasn’t heard The Liars Club’s latest efforts, I’d advise you to have a listen. Feel free to download the entire EP with the last link.
Wide Open Beaver
Born on a Friday
Download Entire Liars Club EP