• Mon 2 Feb – Parquet Courts at the Club Downunder

    4 Feb 2015, 16:47

    Mon 2 Feb – Parquet Courts & MerchandiseThe music was tight, splendid; yet there was an unfortunate edge to the Parquet Courts set, as if the band was very, very tired of touring and not so happy to be before this audience.
    The audience, made up mostly of young college students who lived in on-campus dormitories, thoroughly enjoyed the show, as shown by a great dance-ameoba flow... Also present were a number of local music connoisseurs, there to enjoy the craftsmanship, lyric precision, and occasional psychedelic drone.
    The two primary vocalists, one in particular, took turns bating the audience by referring to corporate-media-hype items they obviously picked up from the mass media ... things totally out of the control of audience members and with which there was no identity. There were also condescending gestures as if the band didn't know or care where they were, etc. There was no gesture of friendliness or gratitude or mutual identity. It would have been better if they were just aloof.
    To support the band, and even though I legally already own digital tracks, I was going to buy a disk. They were priced at $10 and I nicely asked if I could get two for $15 (two that I already own as mp3's), and was surprised that--rather than a nice "yes" or "no"-- there was even a bit of rudeness and undo forcefulness in response there too. The gentleman looked tired and worn...obviously from the tour. I bought one anyway (so as to demonstrate my seriousness and their potential loss), but now I regret that I did.

    A quick look at their very heavy schedule of one-night stands ahead makes one hope that they find ways to relax and relieve stress, such as a good outdoor walk in the sunshine!
  • Raury, January 8, 2015, Club Downunder, Tallahassee, FL

    9 Ene 2015, 5:19

    Thu 8 Jan – Raury Raury played at Club Downunder tonight to a small but enthusiastic audience, and it was a stunning performance! They were very tight musically, obviously well practiced; and the performance was top flight, studio-quality sound and live production worthy of "live album" status. I'd love to have a recording of it. And the singing was masterful between Raury and the woman backing him up or joining him in sometimes almost ecstatic calling out. The dancing by Raury was a surprise, and he clearly is working hard and well on some Michael Jackson style moves... seriously, personalized and smooth. Best of all, though, were the songs: the lyrics and the passionate delivery of a call to each of us to recognize that we are not alone in this world and that we can and must be our own and each others' saviors and we can revel in being saviors with our lives...a call that resonated with the lyrics expressing the responsibility--thankfully and necessarily limited--of life. Sun shines on us: let us use the energy, all of it, to celebrate, grow, and save this planet and each other. A member of the audience, sitting next to me, was connected with the band; and he insisted on bring me back and into the bands room after the show, and I had the privilege of talking with Raury and some band members for about 10 minutes. He was very friendly and I got to share my observations and interpretations with him about the songs and their meaning or implications.. focusing on the positiveness of his project. What a pleasure, as he was bright-eyed and seemingly so interested... yet it was kindness.

    This band is a don't miss! Don't miss them if they come--or he comes--to your town! :)
  • A Faulty Chromosome, live, August 17, 2008

    18 Ago 2008, 15:38

    Sun 17 Aug – A Faulty Chromosome, DJ ThanatoS, tensor tympani I was only able to see A Faulty Chromosome, and actually got to talk with each of them as well. I found them to be really nice people playing fun and sometimes quirky music, and to have a fine and welcome sensitivity for the audience's sensibilities. In this small venue, they really shined (and showed how to control the volume and get great sound out of their gear). The mishmash of instrumentation and electronica, from the guitars to the percussion and all the way around, was just splendid. The show was upbeat but also, somehow, relaxing. These folks are heading back to Austin, and I hope they tour again soon. Their latest album, which is now a free download here on LastFM, is very good. It reminds me most, perhaps, of Velvet Underground; but it is "happier." I was glad to pick up the CD from the band, not only to support the band, but to have the lyrics and the CD-quality sound. I can listen to it, and have, over and over again. :D
  • Jens Lekman. Live, November 15, 2007

    18 Nov 2007, 3:50

    Thu 15 Nov – Jens Lekman

    Jens Lekman performed solo in a small venue in Tallahassee, Florida, last Thursday night. One of my good LastFM friends, on the other side of the world, suggested maybe I write a little something about it.

    Well... I will say it was . . . splendid! Mr. Lekman was just as pure and psychically and acoustically intimate as on his best studio releases. He was radiant, actually; clearly enjoying his work.

    As I was awaiting his arrival on stage, I looked around for the "merch" [merchandise] table, because I wanted to buy a CD. (I have a practice of buying CD's at shows if I really like the music, even if I have the tracks already such as from eMusic.) But there wasn't any merch table. So I asked a staff person, and she told me, as if it was rather odd, that Mr. Lekman arrived for this gig completely alone! I don't know if he was alone, but the staff thought he was. He sure didn't have anyone selling CD's.

    This show was entirely solo.

    My insight of the evening, which carried over to the next night when I saw Architecture in Helsinki in the same venue, was how NOW the artist can do his or her own studio-style production enhancements live (or when recording).

    Jens Lekman is a master at such production, and he showed us how it was done. He had two microphones for his voice and a myriad of foot pedals or buttons that I didn't see. And he made beautiful music with his voices. Yes, he had voices, his own, all the same, all his, all singing together.

    I have paid attention to the developing use of looping technology in music making, and actually went to a workshop on it at a wonderful, wonderful North Florida music festival called SpringFest. And let me be the first to tell you, ;), Jens Lekman is a master of looping technology: he is very, very adept at it. It was as if he was his own Phil Spector, he could be his own Beach Boys. He he had choruses set up to sing behind him, and he set them up as we watched. He sang, looped, joined in the loop, looped that, etc. It was really wonderful, because he did it all so casually, with a very unassuming attitude.

    As his set drew towards a conclusion, he sang a song with the refrain, "Give me just a li'l more time." Then he did his closing song, then he said, "Oh, I have to sing this one." The the show was over, until just a few minutes later, after closing time, he did a set outside the bagel place down the sidewalk from the venue.

    It seemed that everyone left happy, and you can't beat that!
  • Spoon, David Bazan, and All Smiles: Live, Nov. 8, 2007

    10 Nov 2007, 17:44

    I had to see Spoon. I have listened to them quite a bit, and enjoyed them; but there was something more to this band that I wanted to explore, that I could only discover in a live show. This, I knew, from the "buzz" on LastFM and elsewhere, from the way so many fans and friends seemed to swoon over Spoon. My friend Nate, with Soft Targets for example, was very pumped for this show. So, when they were coming to play a local venue, called The Moon; I had to go!

    Doing my pre-show research, I learned a lot more about David Bazan, as he was one of the supporting artists. Mr. Bazan had been the lead singer and driving force of Pedro the Lion. He WAS Pedro the Lion. I had a few tracks from that stage in his career, and really like them, but I take my pre-concert research seriously; as I get a lot of enjoyment out of being somewhat familiar with an artist in advance. And of course, it adds to the anticipation. So I found and started sampling his current stuff. He has a free track on LastFM, for example; one that sits well with most of us politically.

    Then there was "All Smiles." I listened to some of their music, too, in advance; and it seemed nice.

    But after the "research," I couldn't wait to see and hear David Bazan! And, the show being on a work night for me, I thought I would try to leave "early," hoping to catch at least most of Spoon. Well, let me say, this was a fantastic show!!! There was no way I could have left early.

    However, I "confess" that I was disappointed in the opening artist, All Smiles. First, I didn't even know that's who it was, on stage, when I arrived: I thought All Smiles was a group, not a solo performer, from the album pic I had; so the soloist on stage was not someone I recognized. (I would recognize David Bazan.) And the performance seemed perhaps uninspired, or the emotional range limited, and the lyrics were undecipherable for me and my friend, standing off to the side. (I am a "lyrics person" as well as a music person, especially when the performance is a solo singer with acoustic guitar as this was.) It wasn't until I got home and looked at LastFM that I realized that I had, indeed, heard All Smiles live.

    Ladies and gentlemen, David Bazan was out of this world! I cannot adequately convey what a fine artist he is, but suffice it to say that this gentleman, with acoustic guitar or electric guitar in hand, melts through the microphone and into his audience. The intellectual content of his music, his kind or forceful challenges, was bordering at times on the profound; and the emotional punch he added with his lyricism, his clear diction (readers of my other journals may recall how Jim Morrison studied diction, by observing Frank Sinatra!), and his pure "soul" had everyone, it seemed, enraptured.

    As a "lyrics person," and being a little hard of hearing due to, oh, a few DECADES (ok SEVERAL decades) of live music (e.g., Hendrix and Doors at 16), I appreciate a singer who sings with good diction, especially of course in songs with good lyrics. I like to understand the lyrics. But for this show? David Bazan had us all understanding, understanding that he articulated because his songs were powerful, or because he knew we needed them, we need to feel and be empowered, and he needed to try to teach us something or help us see or understand what we knew. And he was and wants us to be courageous in our self-expressions about the larger culture and, indeed, its government.

    This is not just my view. I looked around a number of times, and I could see the enraptured looks around me. At times, I know I felt a tear well up in my eyes during a song, and I sensed that in others, that many of us sensed it was an honor to be there, to be a part of that performance: It was NOT the lyrics that did that--it was the whole package. His emotions were out there. He strained, hard, to put them out there; so when his voice wasn't "pretty," and it wasn't, it was beautiful. Don't miss him if he comes your way.

    Spoon? Don't miss Spoon either! What a great, live band! There is so much written about them that I won't try to add much here. Suffice it to say that they played their hearts out, and rocked and psychedelicized "all night long." They were true to studio quality with all the variation and inspiration of a live show by artists truly enjoying themselves. The buzz on Spoon is true.

    I must add that the sound was fantastic, too. They sounded just great, with a very wide range, well balanced and mixed.

    I ducked out to the lobby when I thought Spoon was close to finishing, to beat the mob and purchase David Bazan's latest CD Fewer Moving Parts, even though I already owned it digitally. I know artists benefit more when we buy their music at a show, and this one is packaged nicely and . . . with lyrics! :) (I also picked up Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.) David Bazan was out there in the lobby kindly doing his duty, and I got him to sign his CD for me. I spoke to him for a while, but stupid me did all the talking: He only had a minute, of course, and I just wanted to commend him, to thank him for what he was doing artistically.

    Spoon, however, was just getting warmed up with encores! I, of course, had abandoned any idea of leaving early; so I went back in to watch some more. This time, I was at the rear of the crowd rather than at the front, with my trusty acoustically neutral earplugs at times. And it was fun seeing all the folks back there, party-dancing up a storm, grinning widely, have a lot of fun thanks to some real fun music!

    In fact, I found the entire gig posted, song by song, for free download here.

    On a more sober note, I must say that I looked around, especially when I was at the front, and was disappointed to see not one other person in my age group. I just don't know how that all happens, but I am sure there are a lot of reasons. My kids are grown, and I have flexibility in when I need to be at work. I love music a LOT, and always have. But, still: My contemporaries don't know Spoon or David Bazan, and it is too bad. Maybe if they did, especially the latter, the world would be in better shape than it is now. Along the same line, I must add--because I am such an extrovert I guess, and because I am speaking out more these days--that when you are one of the rare old folks (me? old?), some of the uninitiated "youngsters" seem to look at you like you are some kind of creep for diggin' "their" music or something. I picked up on a little of that at this show. Our "be afraid be very afraid" government and culture is perhaps a factor in that, too. Or maybe it is just the wide-scale alienation and group-identification combo.

    In any event, I have met a lot of really nice music fans (including folks who have introduced themselves as knowing me from LastFM) at these gigs, and I am grateful to all of my LastFM friends too for being one reason I am so lucky in the music department!

    Thu 8 Nov – Spoon, David Bazan, All Smiles

    Comments? :)
  • Austin City Limits Music Festival, 2007: Day 3 (revised)

    23 Sep 2007, 18:56

    Sun 15 Sep – Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007

    Wandering into the festival grounds, in fine spirits on Sunday morning, day 3 of the event, my first stop was to catch the last bit of the 11:45 gig by The Little Ones.

    They were light, just full of anthems, and fun to watch. I even ended up purchasing, cheap, their EP, "Sing Song."

    Then I headed over to catch Ryan Shaw, out of curiosity. I had read he was a soul singer in the mode of Wilson Picket or Otis Redding. But his gig seemed to have a certain artificial "shtick" to it, as if he were trying to be a "representative" of a genre' or something. Also, there was a lot of religious proselytizing mixed in between his songs, in his commentary; exhorting the audience to express agreement. Too bad: I wandered away quickly, thinking that he needed a more in-tune manager.

    So, I strolled all the way to the other side of the venue, and got in line for a beverage as it was, by this time, afternoon. Then, as I turned, I heard it: the pulsing of Yo La Tengo playing something I recognized, something I owned and played: it was the song Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind, off of their latest album, "I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass." I heard that pulse calling, that song. Wow. It was great music to walk to, to quickly walk towards this wonderful band and get as close as I could in this already large crowd, but while being centrally located.

    I am glad they played so many numbers off of this latest album. My notes:

    "Psychedelic, to beautiful, to melodic, relaxing; to rock, to punk, jump FAST - - to space ... ethereal... to 'holy shit!,' to insane."

    How's that for working transitions!

    Here's the setlist:

    * From A Motel 6
    * Stockholm Syndrome
    * Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Good Kind
    * Tears Are In Your Eyes
    * Beanbag Chair
    * Mr. Tough
    * The Weakest Part
    * Tom Courtenay
    * Little Honda
    * Watch Out, Ronnie
    * The Story Of Yo La Tengo

    I was blown away by that set, and it seemed the entire audience was. We turned around to leave, smiling and shaking our heads almost as if in disbelief.

    I took a break listening to the trippy jam music of STS9, also known, or formerly known, as Sound Tribe Sector 9.

    Then I was off to see Ben Kweller.

    I didn't even know who he was until last year's Austin City Limits Festival, when I heard a great deal of "buzz" and so went to see him there. That year, this great festival was a sad event for Mr. Kweller, as he was delayed 10 or 15 minutes of his set by a terrible nose bleed that erupted again on the stage just as he began to perform, ending his set. I actually had four people, near me (among the thousands), faint last year, due to the sight of all that blood. He played some, while unknowingly but literally bleeding on his guitar.

    But this year? He was fine, and it was a great set! Ben Kweller is a fine performer and an excellent guitar player and interpreter of songs. He is also a consummate writer of the simple song. He connects well with his audience. He came out, said hello happily declaring, "One year later, everybody! No blood in this nose, at least yet!," and launched into some of what was described as the "bounciest guitar jams" of the Festival. He was exuberant as he moved happily through his set, and so too was his audience. He announced he was going to live in Austin for a couple of weeks to record a new album, and he played a couple of new songs from that, Old Hat and Fight. The former was beautiful, especially perhaps to an old hat like me. :) As he led into that song, he continued his banter, commenting that the sky had gotten overcast, "Good for fishing," he said. He reminded me sometimes, as he sang "You've got to fight, fight, fight...," of Woodie Guthrie.

    He really wailed on his guitar during Red Eye and he closed with Penny on the Train Track, but he mixed in quotes from Don't Know Why very effectively! [I don't know why, either.]

    Here's the setlist:

    * Commerce, TX
    * I Need You Back
    * I Don't Know Why
    * My Apartment
    * Old Hat
    * Fight
    * Thirteen
    * In Other Words
    * The Rules
    * Sundress
    * Red Eye
    * Penny on the Train Track

    Next I caught some of DeVotchKa, but enough to be more than favorably impressed with their diversity. This LOOKED to be an "oompa band" ala Obey Mr. Maggi, complete with a tuba. But they ranged from gypsy electronica to samba! "Burn Down the Village!," they seemed to sing.

    Then it was time for Bloc Party, after a bit of a break for me. And what an "uptick" that was! The vocal range! The orchestral sound! It reminded me sometimes of The Clash.

    Oh and how they teased us with quotations of songs to come, or not, as they moved through their set, challenging us as had some of the others:

    * Song For Clay
    * Positive Tension
    * Hunting for Witches
    * Waiting for the 7.18
    * Banquet
    * This Modern Love
    * The Prayer
    * Uniform
    * So Here We Are
    * Like Eating Glass
    * She's Hearing Voices
    * Helicopter

    It was, literally, so HOT!

    A bit of dinner and rehydration, and it was time for . . . My Morning Jacket. Now, I own several of their CD's; and I really, really enjoy them and the mood they create. But their lyrics are hard to decipher on the albums. Last Spring, at another festival, I actually left their performance to see another, great band; because I couldn't understand a word, it seemed.
    But this time, I had read a lot of the songs; and I do think they are really fine. And I couldn't have been more pleased with this set at Austin City Limits. The band,sporting a Hawaiian look, was right on; and the trademark, ethereal voice of Jim James was as pure and lifting as anything they've done in the studio. It came through his blond wig, loudly and clearly. It was a fine show, with some singing along, beginning with What a Wonderful Man! The set:

    * Mahgeeta
    * Wonderful Man
    * Off the Record
    * Gideon
    * Wordless Chorus
    * Sooner
    * Golden
    * Phone Went West
    * Lay Low
    * One Big Holiday
    * Anytime

    Bob Dylan was to be next on that stage, in an hour. Having already seen, on other occasions, the bands playing in the interim, I decided to stay and wait for Bob Dylan & His Band. So did thousands and thousands others, and the push to the front was incredible. We found ourselves standing elbow to elbow, virtually hip to hip, with not even room to sit down in a little spot; and we were like that, virtually, for an hour. It got dark. We were nice to each other.

    And then the band came out.

    Here's the setlist:

    1. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Bob on electric guitar)
    2. It Ain't Me, Babe (Bob on electric guitar)
    3. Watching The River Flow (Bob on electric guitar)
    4. Spirit On The Water (Bob on electric keyboard and harp)
    5. The Levee's Gonna Break
    (Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin)
    6. Tangled Up In Blue (Bob on electric keyboard and harp)
    7. Things Have Changed (Bob on electric keyboard)
    8. Workingman's Blues #2 (Bob on electric keyboard)
    9. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on electric keyboard)
    10. Nettie Moore (Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on violin)
    11. Summer Days (Bob on electric keyboard)
    12. Ballad Of A Thin Man (Bob on electric keyboard and harp)
    13. Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on electric keyboard)
    14. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob on electric keyboard)
    15. I Shall Be Released (Bob on electric keyboard and harp)

    I am not going to write much about this set. But I will say it was great. And he can still play a mean guitar!

    Mr. Dylan did do some of his much older work in a "sing-songy" style reminiscent of some of his tours in the late 70's or 80's; but that was interesting as was his reinterpretation, otherwise, of early works. Closing the set, before the encore, with Summer Days played and sung enthusiastically and faithfully, followed by an almost spooky rendition of Ballad of a Thin Man, was brilliant in the context of the entire festival. Then came the wonderfully long encore. I came away resolved to purchase his latest album, moved by his performance of his more recent works and his heartfelt, and well-conveyed, connection with and exploration of the struggles of life and a life of struggle.

    Workingman's Blues #2

    Now I'm down on my luck and I'm black and blue
    Gonna give you another chance
    I'm all alone and I'm expecting you
    To lead me off in a cheerful dance
    Got a brand new suit and a brand new wife
    I can live on rice and beans
    Some people never worked a day in their life
    Don't know what work even means

    Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
    Bring me my boots and shoes
    You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
    Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

    Then came the wondrous, long walk home.

    I think you might enjoy these, I really do:

    Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007: Day 1

    Austin City Limits Music Festival, 2007: Day 2 (revised)
  • Austin City Limits Music Festival, 2007: Day 2 (revised)

    23 Sep 2007, 3:38

    Sun 15 Sep – Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007

    I traveled to Austin with fellow music buff Wijim.

    and we stayed at the home of Austin-based singer-songwriter Barry Ingle, who was a wonderful host.

    The accommodations were perfect, highlighted by the lovely Sara, who resided nearby; and who was kind enough to join us for some time relaxing in Barry's garden.

    But Saturday morning rolled around, and it was "up and at 'em!" We needed to get up, pack our little bit of gear, and get walking to the Festival! And walking was the best way to get there, too. There were going to be SO many people, by mid-day!

    We liked traveling light, and were glad not to be burdened with a chair or a blanket.

    Of course, bicycling there would be cool, if it was too far to walk. And it seems that a few folks figured that out:

    I am not so sure I would've been able to find my bike in all that.

    Saturday morning we got off to a good start, by my standards. We were getting live music by noon! And what a treat it was!

    First off for me was an artist I was really glad to discover that sunny morning, Willy Mason! This singer-songwriter really spoke from, and to, the heart. And he spoke for the oppressed or the struggling, and he imparted strength. His heartfelt rendition of his inspirational lyrics was top-notch. He was at once inspirational and sad in tone, then to profound. I will confess, as the Flaming Lips lyric goes, "music makes me cry," and this guys music did that for me. No fear! Prevail! Drive on! "Ain't gonna fear no pain no more," he sang. His was one of the CD's I bought at the Festival.

    His set began with him solo,

    then he was joined by a woman who could well have been--and whom he introduced as--his mother, who wrote and sang beautiful music, with him.

    And he closed with a fine band of his.

    Next, I took a listen to Augustana. They were, as I experienced them that early afternoon, dishing out a big, rock sound! They gave it all, rockin' and rollin', and then receding for some delightful light poppy sound as well. They were a happy sound!

    Caught a listen to Young Love, too, and they were rock 'n' roll fun as well! Great guitar work going on here, Chuck Berry on steroids! But they could, and did segue so nicely into the slow song led in large measure by their... trombonist!

    The day was off to a great start! Beautiful sadness followed by happy happy! It must have been time for another emotional swing. Maybe . . . . Dax Riggs! Yep! It was 1:30 PM, it was time! I had seen him last year at this festival, as deadboy & the Elephantmen, a two-person band he fronted.

    I was nearly blown away by the intensity of his performance last year. It was a learning experience for me, as the genre' was not something I had gotten to know too well. So, I was looking forward to his new effort, his new band in 2007; and I was not disappointed.

    As before, Dax treated this Austin audience to a wonderfully melodic, musical drone accompanied by his passionate voice across an incredible vocal range. Lyrically, Dax is not Mr. Happy! No, the music thrusts, sticks--into the listener's ears--the Dark Truths of mortality and death. Sporting a plain white t-shirt hand-lettered with small print, "evil rabbit," Dax sang to us how death is a bright light. I couldn't help but think of Jim Morrison.

    But this was rock 'n' roll, and it moved! My notes state, "wore out drummer." :) Personae? I think he called his back-up band, "The Blood Kings." He wears a bitter-seeming heart on his sleeve: We could buy his CD, he said, and "take it home and cum on it...." I sensed that an internal struggle continues for Dax, but I am grateful to have heard this lyrical, vocal outpouring of seeming angst, if not anger. His forte' is vocal, and I notice I couldn't even take a picture of him while he was so-engaged.

    I bought his latest CD tonight, on eMusic.

    Thus, your intrepid reporter entered the hot, sunny afternoon..... I thereafter checked out a few bands, saw a few music stars, a few icons and indie newbies . . . . And I missed a lot bands, too! But I did, thanks to having a re-entry pass, leave the Festival to go exploring for a bit of rest. And, lured by laughing voices in the woods, I found my fellow searchers: We went swimming in a nearby spring!!

    Afterward, I caught a bit of Andrew Bird, surreal as it was with looping violin, whistling, surreal almost-classical strings . . . . I also caught the tail end of Muse, but only from a distance. I saw a fantastic staging effort! They had incredible visual electronica, a huge flashing screen displayed behind them. Huge.

    Oh.... Did I say, Arcade Fire??! Well, they were the band I most anticipated. Notes? No, I took no notes. Do I remember things all that clearly? No.

    But I can tell you they were fantastic! They played a number of tracks from Neon Bible, their latest release; but they closed with lots from Funeral, my favorite album of theirs and one of my favorite of all time.

    The set list:

    * Black Mirror
    * Keep the Car Running
    * Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
    * No Cars Go
    * Haiti
    * Intervention
    * Anti-Christ TV Blues
    * Windowsill
    * The Well & The Lighthouse
    * Ocean of Noise
    * Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
    * Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
    * Rebellion (Lies
    * Wake Up

    Wake Up:
    Wake Up

    "Wake Up"

    Somethin' filled up my heart with nothin' -
    Someone told me not to cry;
    But now that I'm older,
    my heart's colder, and i
    can - see that it's a lie.

    Children wake up.
    Hold your mistake up,
    Before they turn the summer into dust.
    If the children don't grow up,
    our bodies get bigger
    But our hearts get torn up:
    We're just a million little gods causing rain storms turning every good thing to rust.

    I guess we'll just have to adjust.

    With my lighning bolts a-glowin',
    I can see where i am going to be when
    the reaper, he reaches and touches my hand.
    With my lighning bolts a-glowin', I can see where I am goin'.

    Better look out below!
    The Arcade Fire

    They challenged us, they paraded out one anthem after another. The crowd sang along. I didn't remember a lot of the lyrics, although I have read them many times: I love owning this CD for that reason alone. But it was fun to join in, "If you want nothing, don't ask for something!" This band carried further the tone of this festival: freedom from self and societal oppression. They spoke, and sang, and exhorted so as to challenge us in this regard. Ask someone who remembers better, and he or she might not tell you about that.

    Then we went home.

    If haven't seen them, I really think you'll enjoy a look at these:

    Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007: Day 1

    Austin City Limits Music Festival, 2007: Day 3 (revised)
  • Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007: Day 1

    22 Sep 2007, 17:51

    Fri 14 Sep – Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007

    The evening before the 2007 Austin City Limits Music Festival, last weekend, I talked my way into the Festival grounds and wandered all around. I took some pictures of the expansive scene, which looked, to me, exactly like it had the year before.

    There were six major stages, with music to be played on at least three of them at any one time. The performances were all carefully planned so that no two stages had music going, at the same time, which were located so that there would be a conflict. Rather, there were hills and valleys and distances that allowed simultaneous performances. One could hear one band finish, and turn around and--on the next stage--another would crank up. Or you could walk a quarter mile or so, and hear another that was finishing up.

    You could wander around, and as you did the music you heard would shift to that of another band or performer....

    But the evening before, the stages were empty. The fields were empty. And the food, and the beer, and all the other things for sale were not there. There was nothing but anticipation, that and hints of the music to come.

    Friday morning: My friend and fellow LastFM'er, Billy, and I walked through an interesting Austin neighborhood toward the concert scene.

    It was a beautiful, sunny day. It was going to get hot, and we each had carefully prepared ourselves in the way we thought best. That, for me, included hat, sunglasses, sun screen, camera, small binoculars, festival schedule, money, and earplugs so I could stand as close to the speakers as I wanted I wanted, for three days.

    As we did on each day, we walked the perhaps two miles to the festival Park. It was a great way to begin the day. As we got on the main road into the park, the street was lined with great, inexpensive restaurants serving regional, Tex-Mex cooking or Barbecue.

    And there were street vendors selling T-shirts, pipes, etc.

    We wandered into the park around 12:30 in the afternoon. (We were having such a good time getting there, that we missed the first morning bands.) We wandered by and enjoyed a couple of tunes by Asleep at the Wheel. They are an institution in Texas music, the ultimate in "Texas Swing" style of music. They play it better than anyone, perhaps; and they have been doing so for decades and decades. They seemed to be having a good time, and featured a new member of the band, a relatively young woman who played guitar and sang for them. She reminded me of one of the women in The B-52's: maybe it was her hairdo. It was fun.

    After a couple of tunes, though, I was ready for something different, so I wandered off. I was just passing by a stage featuring locally-connected artists, and caught Kevin McKinney and his band. It was a nice show. He is a singer/songwriter and had fine lyrics and presentation.

    Then I went to see Heartless Bastards, and that was a great show. It struck a little close to home, as they did one of my favorite songs of theirs, "Done Got Old." This is a garage band kind of funky band, soulful, rootsy; tough, wailin' female lead vocals.

    After about thirty minutes of them, I wandered off again. I stopped by to see a little bit of The Del McCoury Band at the "Austin Adventures" stage. They are a perfect bluegrass band. Most of the bluegrass I listen too has a slightly edgy or even psychedelic tendency. This, however, was perfect. They could have been playing at the Grand Ol' Opry, or on the Lawrence Welk Show, in 1950, and they would have looked and sounded the same as I heard them that early Friday afternoon last week. Maybe the did do that,back then.

    I kept wandering to the next stage and caught the tail-end of Joseph Arthur and The Lonely Astronauts, with Joseph Arthur leading the band to the conclusion of their set.

    As soon as they hit the final note, I turned around and saw smoke: a column of smoke rising up from right behind the row of tables that I had photographed the night before, the row with all the cash registers on it (on of the bars). So, I took a picture of it, and began walking toward it, taking more pictures. I have a lot of them. Here are a few:

    It seems a propane gas tank, in the cooking area, exploded. The resulting fire spread to a huge beer truck, which you can see burning behind the tent and the remains of which are visible in some of the pictures. I could hear the tires of adjacent trucks exploding.

    The fire spread, moving down a line of portable toilets and thus threatening to catch a row of similar trucks on fire, when alert police officers pulled some of the toilets out of the line, making a fire break.

    It took forty minutes for a full-force fire-fighting team to get there and get it under control. Sadly, in the initial explosion, two workers were very badly burned. We did not know this until the next day.

    Then I went to see what turned out to be the first block-buster performance of the Festival, and one of the best: Blonde Redhead. They took their stage at 3:30 PM. They were so good! I took notes! I had a little pad in my pocket and I would pull it out at certain moments and scribble a word or two. I can now read quite a few of those words. Blonde Redhead? This band was fronted by a seeming Japanese lead singer, a petite and photogenic woman with an interesting high-pitched voice (a voice that, interestingly, was far more pleasing live than on their latest studio release). Her companion singer was a tenor-sounding male voice. The music, as I approached, was ethereal and pulsing, and would soar into an anthemic mode. Indeed, as the 2006 ACL was the year of the drone, this 2007 festival was anthemic in many ways. Blonde Redhead had wonderful, driving rhythms, pulsing but with an overlay of two guitars combining for a wall of sound. Looping technology was heavily but tastefully utilized and was clearly, very well practiced.

    Then there were the subsonic sounds, a palpable bottom end that pouring and pulsating out of powerful subwoofers concealed beneath the stage at body level.

    They drew a crowd!

    It was a true tour de' force as the band closed out with sonic pyrotechnics on the part of the lead guitarist. I wanted to tell him, after the show, of a trick I saw Jimi Hendrix do. In fact, I had that feeling more than once as I saw guitarists for several bands do everything but that trick, as I saw them create all kinds of feedback.

    Then that was over and I went for a walk. I went to the tent where Big Sam's Funky Nation was nearing the end of its gig. They were in the stage that was in a tent and had rows of chairs, and which featured a lot of gospel and some jazz. But Big Sam's Funky Nation was funky! This was a funky, soul band extrordinaire!

    We had the best dancing of all the bands, as Big Sam took control. He had the dancing fans at his beck and call: "Go down low!" he would call, and knees bent and it was a test of flexibility for all the smiling beat keepers. The brass section pumped, with Sam in the lead with his funky, funky trombone. I say, "Big Sam's Funky Nation puts the FUN in FUNky!" Dancing releases endorphines, remember. So it must be good.

    Strolled over to catch JJ Grey And Mofro. They are from my home state of Florida and play powerful swamp funk, not funky, ballads that make you move. They move your heart, too, as Grey's lyrics speak so eloquently of the affects of greed on our planet. He tells it like it is, as he sings of how "one more goddamn developer" ruins the wetlands to construct a golf course for the gated community; and destroys our environment. I have enjoyed this band several times, so soon wandered off.

    I am SO glad I got a few minutes to hear LCD Soundsystem! I got to hear only the last part of their last number, because I didn't have them high on my list and had wandered around some first. For example, I wanted to hear some of M.I.A., to see what all the fuss was about. After an admittedly quick listen, from a distance, I still didn't know. But LCD Soundsystem? The real deal! Great dance feel! A perfect companion to and for the Funky Nation!

    My friends, by this time your intrepid correspondent was reaching some sort of 0zone. I wandered around looking for the free water, for a place in the shade, and I passed up Spoon, and Queens of the Stone Age, who were playing head-to-head. I rested in the shade, not far from where the fire had been, and chatted with some fans there. We had a nice break.

    Then I heard some perfect music for the ensuing sunset, and I was drawn the short distance to see Gotan Project, and they were stunning! First of all, they were a visual feast, so entirely different in presentation from the usual fare. One got the feeling of being in a very campy, upscale nightclub. The music was downbeat and cool with a Latin flair, accordion and brass and beautiful lyricism.

    The sun set during their show, and it got cool.

    Then there was Bjork. What an extravaganza! She had what seemed an entire orchestra behind her and she clearly communicated, by her movements, that she had orchestrated everything we saw and heard. She could dance to and direct, and she did direct, every crescendo, every abrupt change of rhythm. And talk about amusement! She had all kinds of lighting and projection effect, and smoke, and confetti cannons, and--yes--she had her own fire!

    Above, you can see, on the jumbo screen, the electronic music instrument she has been using. And the green laser beams...and in between...

    As I was looking around at the audience, I noticed a fire break out, slowly, high up on the scaffold that held the many speakers and PA's. Finally, enough people noticed it that, with the band taking a sudden break, someone climbed up there and put it out. It was a speaker that had caught on fire!

    She played many cool songs off her latest album, and had everyone going with "Declare independence! Don't let them do that to you!" Her set illustrated well the anthemic mood this year, and her songs and her narrative urgings advanced the atmospheric undercurrent of loving, cultural revolt.

    Then we walked home and crashed. That was just the first day and there were two big days to go.

    (Billy leads the way on a temporarily covered sidewalk, in a construction area, as I foresee another photo op.)


    Austin City Limits Music Festival, 2007: Day 2 (revised)

    Austin City Limits Music Festival, 2007: Day 3 (revised)
  • Selected Reviews of Shows I've Seen: From Hendrix to The Last One I Wrote

    22 Jul 2007, 19:26

  • Voxtrot Live June 26, 2007; preceded by Plagues!

    27 Jun 2007, 15:50

    Tue 26 Jun – Voxtrot, The Besties

    It turned out to be a great show, but the band had a harrowing time just getting it on the road, so to speak. The first sign for me was when their merchandise wasn't on the sales table with that of the supporting bands, when the opening group was finishing up. When the crew started putting it out, I asked one of them the price of a CD; and he said, almost out of breath, "I don't know, we just GOT here!"

    It turns out that this band, from Austin, Texas, had driven to sleepy, summer-night Tallahassee by way of a gig in Orlando, Florida; only, a wheel came off of their equipment trailer! So, they had no gear on the stage when their preceding band, The Besties, finished up. Thus, in a repeat of the scene when Lymbyc Systym played this venue a week or two ago, there was a long break until it was all set up. It seems like it was after midnight, at this Tuesday-nighter, when the band took the stage. The excitement was palpable and everyone seemed happy. However, I was glad I had my wonderful earplugs when they started playing: It turned out to be a sound-level check, and seemed to go on quite a while; complete with a an incessant bass-drum beat that reminded me of an old Excedrine commercial that was designed to cause a headache. But this, too, was good, because The Besties, and the predecessor band as well, were plagued by uneven sound in their sets; whereas Voxtrot sounded good!

    Oddly enough, after suffering the loss of a trailer wheel, they had other equipment issues pop up on stage in quick sequence: a broken cable, followed by a non-operating amplifier, had to be replaced, interrupting the first two songs.....

    But they were very, very good. Every musician in the band was very accomplished on his instrument; and it was fun to watch them at work. The drummer, particularly, deserves mention. The lead singer, whom I later learned was Ramesh Srivastava, was true to the form that drew me to see them: He passionately sang long passages of carefully and beautifully constructed poetry that he has written in the form of songs. Maybe he did so well, for us, in spite of the harrowing drive to the show, because it was his birthday; but methinks he knows everyday to be a birthday. He repeatedly invited us to invite him and the band to party after the show, and I would have loved to had joined them; but for a working bloke, it was quite late when the band finished even their single set, which was maybe 45 minutes long.

    I spoke to him for a few minutes afterwards, and he was as friendly and accessible as one could have hoped, despite the press of a number of fans.

    This show was also a good time to be a LastFM'er. Being an "old guy" at one these shows is not easy; but I can't help it if I have good taste in music and love live music too! And this night, I was grateful to run in to a few folks I know in other aspects of my life [and such folks sometimes seem surprised to see me at such places]; but I was especially grateful for my LastFM musical acquaintances who were kind enough to initiate contact with me, to say "hello," at the show. I think I may be a little easier to recognize in such audiences, and I am shy at that, just being there; so to have met and spent some time chatting with LastFM'ers meant a lot to me in the way of having a good time. It was a fun and interesting crowd, and everyone seemed to enjoy the show.

    I will add that, next door in the "garage" attached to the Fat Sandwich restaurant, I saw an incredible performance right before this Voxtrot gig. It was a band called Plagues, and I have never heard--or I should say I have never listened to-- anything like them before. It was, I guess, "thrash" music; and I usually stop listening to recordings of this genre when the voice comes in like the style of the "singing" in this band. Was it "screamo?" I don't know, but it was screaming. And it was too radical in tone for what I think screamo to be, despite the unintelligible lyrics [which I wanted to understand, being somewhat of a "lyrics man," myself].

    But, thanks to my trusty earplugs, I couldn't help but listen and be enthralled with the passion and musicality of it all. These guys worked hard, and worked well, and put on a tight and fine show, completely with really fine transitions. So, Yours Truly has another, unanticipated musical eye-opener!

    "And we ask why do we take these leaps and chances
    Because we have no choice but to wither into truth"
    ==Sway, by Voxtrot.