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  • Circa Survive at Houston House of Blues on 27 October.

    16 Nov 2010, 5:02

    Wed 27 Oct – Circa Survive, dredg, Animals as Leaders, Codeseven

    Having missed two previous chances to see Circa Survive, I made it a bit of a personal mission to make sure I would get to see Circa on 27 October. After all, the third time is the charm, right? Anyway, Circa have a great reputation for being a very energetic band that can really get a crowd going, and they most certainly delivered, but before I talk about them, I'd like begin by talking up dredg a bit. Before this show, I had only heard of dredg, but had never really taken the time to listen to their music. I was so impressed by their performance, that I had to hunt down some of their music after the show. It's always nice being pleasantly surprised by an opening act you're unfamiliar with, and though it isn't all that common, I've had a bit of luck in the past with bands such as The 1900's and Noveller. The musicianship was top notch, ranging from some really interesting slide guitar, to a technically complex but fiercely in-your-face rhythm section, to Gavin Hayes' excellent vocals. A solid opening band, not too stylistically different from Circa at times, but definitely one possessing enough of their own identity to carry their own weight. As an added bonus, you could see Anthony Green and a couple of guys from Circa rocking the fuck out hidden to the side of the stage during dredg's set. It's nice to see the guys can still enjoy themselves after such extensive touring. Moving on...

    Circa Survive pretty much killed it. They opened up with the first three tracks (in sequence) from this year's Blue Sky Noise, before tearing through a handful of songs from their first two albums. Anthony Green was all over the place, and the man can undoubtedly rally a crowd like nobody's business. The guitar work was excellent, with Colin and Brendan's guitars interlocking for some pretty intense breakdowns on Get Out, and getting into proggier territory on songs like Oh, Hello where Colin's guitar work goes on its own tangent, but in an awesome way. I'm also pretty sure Nick Beard had a huge grin on his face during the entire show, so again, it's cool seeing a band making their work fun. If I had to make a minour quibble, it would be that the drumming seemed a bit understated in places, but I think this had more to do with the new material than anything. While Steve Clifford remains one of my favourite drummers, I am a bit disappointed that the drumming on Blue Sky Noise lacks a few of the trademarks (such as the syncopation and sick snare rolls) he established on Juturna. About two thirds of the way through their set, the band brought up about a dozen people, six on each half of the stage to provide backing vocals for an acoustic performance of Spirit Of The Stairwell. It wasn't entirely clear to me if they were picked at random, or maybe selected through some contest earlier or perhaps on a facebook or myspace fan page, but it was a really cool way to get the audience involved, and they breezed through the song really well. The band closed out their set with Through The Desert Alone, but returned for a 3 song encore of tracks from Blue Sky Noise. A really great show overall, with probably the most energy I've seen since Thursday played last year at the Meridian. Track list was as follows:

    Strange Terrain
    Get Out
    Glass Arrows
    Mandala
    In the Morning and Amazing
    Holding Someone's Hair Back
    In Fear and Faith
    Frozen Creek
    Imaginary Enemy
    Stop the Fuckin' Car
    Spirit Of The Stairwell
    Oh, Hello
    Through The Desert Alone
    Encore
    Compendium
    Dyed In The Wool
    I Felt Free
  • LCD Soundsystem and Sleight Bells on 8 October.

    5 Nov 2010, 2:43

    Fri 8 Oct – LCD Soundsystem, Sleigh Bells

    Preface: my lack of a computer kept me from posting this for quite a while, but I'd like to do it now, no matter how overdue this is. Moving on...

    This concert was simply all sorts of amazing. I got in right after Sleigh Bells had begun their set, and they proceeded to play for about 40 minutes, bringing a lot of energy to tracks from their debut album Treats. I'd be lying if I said I was super familiar with their work, since I had only started listening to them a couple of weeks before the show, but I do recall a handful of the songs played that evening. The sound setup was excellent, filling the room with heavy hitters like Tell 'Em and my personal favourite, Infinity Guitars. The band (fittingly) closed out their set with album closer Treats.

    But enough about Sleigh Bells. As fun as they were to see, the real reason I was at this show was to see LCD Soundsystem, and holy shit, did they deliver. It took quite a bit of time to set up, but when you've got 8 people's worth of instruments and equipment onstage, I can't say I was really surprised. That is actually one of the reasons why LCD's live show is so incredible. While their music is firmly rooted in electronic sounds, and often dabbles in spacey synths or looped riffs, the band prefers to do things the old fashioned way, dragging out countless drums, amps, keyboards, cowbells, etc., and the resulting musicianship was impeccable, giving their brand of dance music an excellently visceral and organic edge. Within seconds of set opener Dance Yrself Clean, I knew this was going to be an amazing show. The band's energy was immediately palpable, and the crowd that night reciprocated it admirably. Toes were tapping, asses were shaking, and a thousand voices shouted at the top of their lungs to a wealth of tracks, from recent single Drunk Girls, to lesser known songs, such as Tribulations. Though James Murphy claimed he was beginning to lose his voice (I can't recall if he was getting sick, or if it was just exhaustion from extensive touring), he soldiered through an excellent setlist that covered every corner of LCD's 8 year history, and the band flawlessly transitioned from the noisy dance punk of Movement, to (what I will unapologetically name one of the best songs of all time) Sound Of Silver's All My Friends. They closed out their set with Yr City's A Sucker, but returned for a 4 song encore, finishing with This is It's excellent closing track, Home. Easily my favourite show this year, and probably one of my top 5 of all time. I'm really glad I got to see them, because rumour has it that the band will stop touring after this year.

    Full track list below:

    Dance Yrself Clean
    Drunk Girls
    Get Innocuous
    Tribulations
    Daft Punk Is Playing at My House
    Movement
    All My Friends
    I Can Change
    You Wanted a Hit
    Yr City's A Sucker

    Encore:
    Yeah (Crass Version)
    Someone Great
    Losing My Edge
    Home
  • Interpol at Verizon Wireless Theatre on 29 October.

    3 Nov 2010, 4:05

    Fri 29 Oct – Interpol, White Rabbits

    So I showed up a bit late, and forgot that shows at Verizon Wireless actually begin at the time listed. That's a bit of an odd thing for me to get used to; since I usually show up at venues and wait about an hour for bands to finish getting set up and everything. Anyway, as a result of that, I missed the majority of White Rabbits's set. It's a shame too, because the last couple of songs I got to hear sounded really good. I'm not really familiar with the band, but I'll definitely check them out now that I've seen them. Anyway, Interpol took the stage about 40 minutes after White Rabbits finished up, opening their set with album opener Success. It's an okay song, but was ultimately the weakest in their lineup that evening. Much to my chagrin, the band stuck mostly to material from their first two albums, and played only (what I consider to be) the best tracks from their most recent self titled album. After Success, the band followed up with a couple of songs from Turn on the Bright Lights, before revisiting 2005's Antics with a solid rendition of NARC. The crowd was probably the most into it during the Antics tracks, but they were fairly boring in general. It's always a bit upsetting seeing people so stoic at shows, and standing perfectly still. It's quite a frequent phenomenon here in Houston. The only song from 2007's Our Love to Admire that mad eit into the show was Rest My Chemistry. A couple of songs later, the band closed with the epic Not Even Jail, but came back after a few minutes for an encore consisting of Obstacle 1, Try It On, and Slow Hands. All in all, the show itself was very good . As anyone who has ever seen one of Interpol's shows (in a video or otherwise), Paul live isn't quite the singer he is on record, and it's a shame not having Carlos Dengler around anymore, but they put on a good show regardless. Dave Pajo and Brandon Curtis had no trouble filling out the band's sound, Sam Fogarino was in top shape as always, and Daniel Kessler was looking sharp as a tack, as always (does this guy ever wear a T-shirt?).

    Set list was as follows (though I may have the order wrong on a few of the songs towards the middle).

    Success
    Say Hello to the Angels
    Leif Erikson
    NARC
    Summer Well
    PDA
    C'mere
    Hands Away
    Rest My Chemistry
    Untitled
    Evil
    Barricade
    Take You on a Cruise
    Not Even Jail
    Encore:
    Obstacle 1
    Try It On
    Slow Hands

    P.S. There's a nice photo gallery of pictures from the show here if anyone is so inclined. Thanks to Under the Radar magazine for those.
  • Great show, always fun to see bands at Rudyard's.

    17 Jun 2010, 4:42

    It was an excellent show. The sound was surprisingly decent for being upstairs in a pub, and the atmosphere at Rudyard's is always very laid back. Brews are generally inexpensive, and I hear the food is pretty good, though I've yet to try it myself. Back to the show: The Twilight Sad are very good live, and though a couple of them are a bit lacking in stage presence, they more than make up for it by playing a good amount of their best tunes, and playing with excellent musicianship. The band opened with the bombastic Reflection of the Television, and they transitioned excellently through some fan favourites like And She Would Darken the Memory and I Became a Prostitute, before closing with a passionate rendition of Cold Days from the Birdhouse. My only quibble here were how long it took for everything to get properly set up; the band didn't end up coming on until almost 11. Actually, I was also a little bummed they didn't play one of my favourite songs, Made to Disappear, but now I'm just nitpicking.

    Moving onto Mono, I am not very familiar with their music, and really only know a couple of their songs. I like what I've heard, I just don't know very much of it that's all. For this reason, I found their set sounding a bit samey, and it ended up sounding a bit like one extended suite, but I'm pretty sure I can blame this on the nature of post rock, and my not being familiar with their discography. At any rate, the band played a nice long set, and all of the songs were very well executed.