The third and final night of 2015's Lawrence Field Day Fest kicked off hard. It was pushed back half an hour, but Eyes of Iolite wasted no time in getting things ripping. "The Thing" kicked it off, and for the rest of their set, it was fuzzed-out blast after blast. Sludge? Doom? Whatever you want to call it, this trio knows how to deliver metal. It's so fucking heavy, with a volume and low end that makes it hard to even breathe. There's no moshing to this: just let the band lead the assault. [gallery ids="18498,18499,18500"] My friend and former roommate has been playing drums for the People's Punk Band for months now, and he's been talking them up as a band I'd love. I tend to worry about hyperbole such as that, because it's usually unwarranted , but in this case, he was dead right. Big, chunky riffs, and that weird harmonic vocal thing that Turbonegro or Death By Stereo does? Sold. Fucking sold. It's punk 'n' roll, and my only complaint was carrying around a goddamn camera bag, because this is the sort music to which you throw yourself around with wild abandon. Doing that with a grand of electronic equipment is dumb -- although, in this case, tempting. [gallery ids="18512,18511,18510,18509,18508,18507"] It's basically what happened halfway into the Federation of Horsepower's set. The rock 'n' roll train that this five-piece rides is hard to avoid becoming a passenger on, and when they do something like cover Cocknoose's "All Jacked Up," what the hell am I supposed to do? Not scream along like a maniac? Obviously not. This is as near as I get to attending church, so I better testify while the service is going on. Exaggeration aside, they've been a favorite for over a decade now, and any chance to see them rock out in my town is a welcome one. That goes doubly true for a show like last night's, where in addition to 100% rock 'n' roll power, frontman Gregg Todt wandered outside and across the street with his wireless pickup, playing guitar in the middle of a goddamn crosswalk. That, my friends, is showmanship. [gallery ids="18501,18502,18503,18504,18505,18506"] I saw Gnarly Davidson, but only about a song or two. It was, as to be expected, very loud, the band set up on the floor and blazing through their setlist. Every show from these three makes me wonder whether or not they have to chug water beforeheand, because thet have to be getting some sort of workout from their performances. They put their fucking all into their music. Psychic Heat proceeded to rock out the Jackpot afterward. It's odd, because the band plays out so often, I don't feel the need to see them as much as I have the opportunity to do so. That means that every set I catch is light years ahead of the one previous. Saturday night's performance was frighteningly tight garage psychedelia, and their crowd was all head-shaking, hip-moving enthusiasm. Bonus: Kliph Scurlock was filling in on drums, absolutely murdering the kit, and comedian Barry Crimmins (star of the new Bobcat Goldthwait doc, Call Me Lucky) was right up front. It was amazing, and the perfect end to three days of rock insanity. [gallery ids="18513,18514,18515,18516,18517"]
live music, local, metal, punk, reviews on June 28th, 2015 by Nick – 1 Comment
live music, local, metal, punk on June 27th, 2015 by Nick – 1 Comment
My first band of the second night was a muscular rock 'n' roll quartet. It looks like I'm going for a theme, huh? Actually, Kansas City's Admiral of the Red would pair nicely with the Vedettes. The KC act definitely leans more toward modern rock in their sound, but definitely knows how to lock in to more than just shredding and screaming. There's a punk verve and melodic hook to what they do, and while it's not earth-shattering in terms of novelty, it's certainly worth watching. [gallery ids="18475,18474,18473"] Having seen the Josh Berwanger Band probably more than any other active local band, I think I know what's what. The lineup Friday night is the one I really wish would be the "official" one. I know Heidi Gluck has her own solo career, but goddamn if Berwanger isn't better with her guitar and vocals providing counterpart and harmonies. Even something like "Enemies," where the vocal component is pretty simple, just results in much more going on. The harmonies are richer, the guitars are fuller, and it's nigh-impossible not to start singing along. A bonus of last night's set was the band being a little more rough and tumble in their playing. It was more garage, less stadium, and it made me happy to see the foursome get a little scrappy. Downside to their set: the crowd grew during it, but it was due to people wandering in from the free Split Lip Rayfield show down the street. As soon as it ended, the club FILLED, but with loud assholes ignoring the band onstage. Upside: "Mary" was renamed "Theresa" for the first verse, and the band won over 20 drunk kids instantly. [gallery ids="18476,18477,18478,18479,18480,18481"] Afterward, I attempted to see David Hasselhoff on Acid at the Taproom, but things were nearly an hour behind, so it was more just chatting with folks, using the bathroom, and getting down to the Replay for Sister Rat. The Lawrence trio has been playing a lot more shows in recent months, and it's really helped. The doom punks have always been a favorite of mine, but the stage presence they've gained leads to shows which are a lot less nerve-wracking in terms of tension. They look like they're enjoying themselves now, rather than white-knuckling it through their set. The songs are tighter, and I love watching these brash women fucking kick ass. Songs like "Revolutions" and "Valhalla" are still amazing, but other songs manage to grab people who aren't already fans, and that's fucking rad to watch. "It's Okay" has gone from a feedback-soaked mess to a screaming declaration of hope. Sister Rat may now be the only band which has successfully married doom and pop-punk, and watching them pull it off every time brings me a joy I can't put into words. [gallery ids="18493,18492,18491,18490,18489,18488"] KCMO's Sedlec Ossuary ended my night on a fully-destructive note. The death metal act drew a crowd of their own who head-banged the ever-loving fuck out of the Replay. The bar hasn't seen a band like this in some time, and it needed it. The energy level was through the roof. Double kicks, breakdowns, and pummeling bass combined with melodic riffing to just destroy. Those vocals, too: raspy screams that switched to guttural roars on a dime. The only downside is that stuffing a band with two guitarists and a full metal drum kit onto that little Replay stage meant there wasn't a lot of room for the band to move. Maybe next time I see them, I can catch them on a stage where they have room to strut. [gallery ids="18487,18486,18485,18484,18483,18482"]
live music, local, reviews, rock 'n' roll on June 26th, 2015 by Nick – 2 Comments
Night one of the 2015 Lawrence Field Day Fest was a bit lighter than I would've liked, but plans to see more bands were sidetracked by attending a screening of the documentary, The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead, followed by a performance from Mike Watt and the Missing Men. I'd intended to skip Watt's performance, but then he played a dozen Clash songs and the Minutemen's "Bob Dylan Wrote Protest Songs," and next thing you know, I'm running terribly behind. That said, I did get to see three great bands, and I'm happy I was able to see them. I started the night with newly-minted Lawrence quartet, the Vedettes. Equal parts blues, mod, and soul, the Vedettes are absolutely devastating. They remind me of late '60s / early '70s rock 'n' roll, but specifically the post-Blue Cheer stuff that's being referred to these days as heavy psych or bonehead crushers. The bass on the Vedettes' songs emphasizes the groove, and it's just dirty. Something about all of this makes me want to get in a car and drive very, very fast -- preferably to get somewhere I might have enthusiastic sex. Like I said: DIRTY. [gallery ids="18466,18467,18468"] The Ovaries-eez are the absolute exact opposite. They're quiet, beautiful folk, with harmonies for days. Just the most dreamy sort of music, very well-suited for a hot, muggy summer weeknight. The group's vocal dynamics are the highlight, here, demonstrating a kind of singing that hearkens all the way back to ... forever ago, making the Ovaries-eez a band completely timeless. [gallery ids="18460,18461,18462"] The Sugar Britches (or at least 3/4 of them) complimented the Ovaries-eez nicely. They were more upbeat, certainly more profane, but continued the harmonies. Their bluegrass stylings have been getting them gigs all over town lately, and it's easy to see why: witty, catchy numbers loaded with prfanity will always go down nicely in these parts. They're a little bigger than the Ovaries-eez, in terms of sound, but the paring still worked out wonderfully. It's great to see two bands of women making music, playing back-to-back. Empowering and entertaining pairings like this make Field Day Fest more than another bunch of angry dude bands playing one after the other, and it's so appreciated. [gallery ids="18463,18465,18464"] More information about Lawrence Field Day Fest can be found here.
hip-hop, live music, photos on March 26th, 2015 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Earl Sweatshirt [gallery ids="18337,18338,18339,18340,18341,18342,18343,18344"] Vince Staples [gallery ids="18345,18346,18347,18348,18349"] Remy Banks [gallery ids="18352,18351,18350"]
live music, punk, reviews, ska on January 19th, 2015 by Nick – 3 Comments
RBF/LTJ The Granada, Lawrence Friday, January 16 Something about pairing the twin titans of ska-punk brought out every 30-something in Lawrence Friday night. Also, their kids. Hell, even my kid was there with his roommate. It seemed like the in place to be. And why not, really? While it's a legitimate argument that neither Less Than Jake nor Reel Big Fish have put out a good album in the last decade, the energy and fun of their live shows is undeniable. It's weird, because I've seen Less Than Jake so many times at this point that I'm never quite certain as to which show I'm remembering. Given that the band's had a pretty steady lineup as of late, with a setlist that's always sure to include "Look What Happened" and "Automatic," it's basically like the ska version of those REO Speedwagon, Boston, or Foreigner shows that played every summer for most of my childhood. It's great that they're still releasing new material, but I basically just want to hear "Riding the Storm Out" or "More Than A Feeling." But nostalgia aside, everybody's voices are holding up, they don't look wrinkly and sad while jumping around on stage, and the crowd's got enough money to buy merch. I think we all win. [gallery ids="18253,18252,18251,18250,18249,18248,18247,18246,18245"] Jesus Christ, Reel Big Fish. The Granada was sweaty and packed by the halfway point of their set. It was a perfect example that, despite the fact that Aaron Barrett is the only original member, the band's managed to remain a fantastic live act. You'd think that the loss of Dan Regan and Scott Klopfenstein would've rendered the band a pale imitation of itself, but Reel Big Fish remains a live act of impressive energy. Hell, they rocked a cover of "Monkey Man" which managed to be of quality, despite being a cover of Amy Winehouse covering the Specials covering Toots & the Maytals. I might've been drunk as shit by the halfway point of their set, but I could've watched them all night. [gallery ids="18242,18244,18241,18243,18240,18239"] Authority Zero kicked everything off. They've been around for years, always seeming to glom onto the opening slot for a third-wave ska act making the rounds. They're the amalgamation of every heavy pop-punk band that ever had a ska song (see also: Wank, Schleprock), and while energetic, completely failed to grab my interest. Authority Zero gives their all on stage, for sure, with a frontman who's constantly in motion, but they're that thing that kills me: talented, but utterly unremarkable. Not a single song turned me off, but neither was there anything which had me writing down lyrics to track it down afterward. [gallery ids="18238,18234,18236,18237,18235,18233"] Fun fucking times, people. Wallowing in nostalgia might be sad at times, but sometimes it can be a glorious celebration of shit that's fun and exciting. It's always a pleasant thing to discover that sometimes, you can revisit your youth, and thank god -- it's actually something worth going back to.
live music, local, photos, punk, reviews on July 22nd, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
More shows need to be like this: all ages, over by 9:00pm, and cheap. I would go to each and every matinee rock show, schedule allowing. There's something wonderful about getting off work, eating dinner, and then seeing a couple of bands, and getting home in time to knock out a couple chapters in that book you're reading. Yes, I know this makes me old and lame, but yesterday evening's show at the Replay Lounge was fricking great. In addition to the situational things, it had that rarest of elements these days, wherein the bands didn't all sound alike. Don't get me wrong: I love a standard punk bill. However, opening the show was Lawrence's Westerners, who start out their sets sounding kind of funky, kind of jammy. It gets a few raised eyebrows on an "all-ages punk show" kind of bill, obviously, but the way this band gets progressively weirder as their set progresses never ceases to amaze. The couple of times I've seen them, Westerners kind of turn me off with the first few songs, but as they add in dischordant elements in the instrumentation, jamming out with distortion and so on, while rocking dual harmonies, I tend to watch in absolute fascination. They're exactly the sort of band that is essentially a totally different act at the end of their set, with me sitting there going, "Why can't they be like that with every song?" Greys are from Canada, and all I knew about them was that Black On Black had hooked them up with a couple area shows while they're on tour supporting their new album, If Anything. They played 25 minutes, and at the end, I bought their album. They're tightly-wound rock 'n' roll that walks a line with Hot Snakes on one side, and Nirvana on the other. The Nirvana comparison is due mainly to their bass player, who rocks Krist Novaselic lines left and right. He's also really fucking tall. It was at the end of their first song that I first thought, "Maybe I should buy their album." At the end of their second cut, it was "I'm buying their album." The trio is just faster than hell, and they didn't stop at all between song. There was no time to clap, because as one song ended, the next one started almost immediately. The punky garage rock 'n' roll is loud and heavy, rather than the usual tinniness most garage acts deal in. My face was flat-out melted, is what I'm trying to say here. Lawrence's Black On Black is the punkest band currently working. All-ages matinee show? Check. Posting all of their music for free download? Check. Refusing to follow sonic conventions? Check. No, seriously, they're a punk band in terms of ethos and practices, but don't hew to the standard "this is what a punk band sounds like" bullshit that so many other bands feel the need to do. They're heavy, they fucking rocking, and you can -- if so inclined -- pogo or mosh yourself stupid to their songs, but there's more to them than three chords and a snpotty attitude. Wade Kelly's voice can be melodic or barking, and the way he presents himself onstage reminds of no-one so much as Danko Jones: just pure self-assuredness, up there knowing that this band is fully-qualified to rock asses. Everyone on stage has that bearing, really. It's great to see a band that -- even playing to a couple dozen people at 8:30 on a Monday -- acted like the places was packed to the gills on a Saturday. [gallery ids="17837,17838,17839,17840,17841,17842,17843,17844,17845"]
interview, live music, metal, upcoming events on March 12th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
Seattle's Helms Alee just released their third full-length, Sleepwalking Sailors. It's their first for label Sargent House after two LPs on Hydra Head. It's a massive piece of work, both in terms of sound and emotional impact. The trio is currently on tour, opening for labelmates Russian Circles. That tour (also featuring the ever-brutal KEN Mode) hits the recordBar in Kansas City on Saturday, March 15. We spoke with Helms Alee guitarist Ben Verellen a while back about the new album and tour. You've got a label switch with this new album, Sleepwalking Sailors – how did it come about? Hydra Head, essentially – they're not done, but they're done putting out new records. So, that was kind of a big bummer. We were planning on releasing a third Helms Alee record, and they just figured out they needed to stop doing what they were doing and roll things back. It kind of put us in a spot where we had to figure out what we were going to do with these – we had 20 new songs all ready to go. So, we finally decided that we were going to do a Kickstarter campaign and try and release the thing ourselves. So, we did that. Only after we recorded the record did it fall into the hands of Cathy [Pellow] from Sargent House via Chris Common, the guy who recorded the record, who was living at her house. I don't know exactly how she stumbled onto it, but she called up. How does moving to Sargent House affect how the Kickstarter works? I know you guys were basically treating it like a pre-order. We kind of realized that this was a lot of work that we wouldn't have to do. It was all pretty exciting. It's all been pretty good working with Sargent House. Sargent House has been really flexible about all of this. It's going to work out great because they're helping us put together all the reward packages to get everybody taken care of who helped chip in. It's basically going to work as if we did release it ourselves and everybody's going to receive their records. Where did you record? Here in Seattle, at a couple of different studios. At a place called Litho, and at a place called Red Room. Was the recording process less stressful, thanks to having the Kickstarter money? We've been pretty lucky in the past. Hydra Head was able to give us a little money to record. Never a lot, but it wasn't like we were pooling band money from shows, scraping into our bank accounts – that kind of thing – but the Kickstarter campaign was a big success, I would say. You guys raised $2000 more than you were asking for. Yeah! It was incredible. It meant that we could afford to record to tape now. It's something we really wanted to do. It's a little more expensive. It also meant that we got to work at some studios that we really liked. So, it felt like – it wasn't like we went and kicked in the studio for two and a half months or anything like that! But, we had a lot of material to record, but we felt like we had enough time to do it all. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/sargent-house/helms-alee-tumescence[/embed] And, to promote the record, you're going out with Russian Circles, which is a really great pairing. How did that tour get set up? Actually, before that record was even going to be put out on Sargent House, when we finished it, we figured, “Let's send it out to a bunch of our buddy bands.” And, we've known those guys for some time and we've done some touring with them in the past, so we just sent them the record and told them what we were doing. When we started talking with Sargent House, Russian Circles were also with those guys, so they were just like, “This is obvious. We'll put out the record and that tour will happen then: it's perfect.” Going back to the recording process: were you guys able to record all 20 songs? Yes, and there are going to be some surrounding releases. There's a split that came out on Brutal Panda with a group called Ladder Devils, so one song ended up there. We did another split with a band from town called Tacos, and that came out. I don't think I'm allowed to talk about the other split – it's not been announced, so I should keep my lid shut. It's more of a split 12-inch, with a band that's more well-known, and a band that we've toured with and really really like, so that one's most exciting, but I won't say anymore than that. Helms Alee is on tour through Thursday, March 20. You can find tour dates and information at their Facebook page.
live music, metal, photos, reviews on December 2nd, 2013 by Nick – Be the first to comment
In what seems to be unanimous agreement from all of the friends who were at Friday night's show with me, High on Fire was one of the loudest fucking concerts most of us have ever seen. Given that this is a crowd of musicians, mostly, that's not a small thing about which to quibble. For as loud as it was, and as much of a concrete box the Granada is, it sounded amazing. Every band was crystal clear, yet ear-splittingly loud. Indeed, though: High on Fire blew some hair back at the Granada. It's always wonderful when a an act's not touring in support of a new album. I mean, yes -- High on Fire released the two live EPs, Spitting Fire volumes 1 and 2, earlier this year, but it's not like they had an album of all-new tunes to flog. This meant they were able to play whatever, and it made for a set full of blazing rock 'n' roll. Setlist Fertile Green Razor Hoof Fury Whip Madness of an Architect Cometh Down Hessian Eyes and Teeth Fireface Rumors of War Baghdad Serums of Liao Slave the Hive Snakes for the Divine [gallery ids="17348,17349,17350,17351,17352,17353"] This show was the third visit for Norway's Kvelertak in the past year, and I can't quite figure out if they live up to the hype to which I've been subjected. The group's three-guitar attack presents a wall of sound, and their drummer knocks out death metal blast beats. Kvelertak have some serious punk rock fury going on, but halfway through their set, I kept getting confused, because it seemed like the rhythm section and singer were one band, while the guitarists were another, and they never quite figured out a way to marry them properly. [gallery ids="17354,17355,17356,17357,17358,17359"] However, Richmond's Windhand completely lived up to the hype. Obviously, I'm a big fan of their latest, Soma, but live, they're just astonishing. When they kicked on their amps and started ther wall of sound for their first song, I was knocked back, literally moved back a couple steps by pure sonic shock. Watching the band get into the groove of their songs was a serious pleasure, and it was a shame to only get to listen for half an hour. Seriously, though -- what a half hour. [gallery ids="17361,17362,17363,17364,17365,17360"]
live music, metal, punk, reviews, rock 'n' roll on June 5th, 2013 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Last night, Georgia's Baroness played Lawrence's Granada Theater, with openers Coliseum. It was the first tour for the Savannah metal quartet since their April 2012 bus crash in England, as well as the departure of drummer Allen Blickle and bassist Matt Maggioni in March of this year. The band was triumphant onstage, and despite the fact that Baroness is from the south, the show might as well have been a hometown return for these guys. The audience greeted every step by Peter Adams to the front of the stage and the attendant solos like they were missives from on high. Not being completely familiar with the band's discography leaves me a little at a loss to tell you what songs they played, but it seemed like it was one epic performance. The songs were strung together with transitional instrumentals that would build, exploding each time into the next time. If ever there were something to make a concert into a performance, this was it. It was entrancing. [gallery ids="16798,16790,16791,16792,16793,16794,16795,16796,16797"] Coliseum is one of those bands I've been meaning to see for ages. I'm very very glad I did. The played a selection of songs which covered their entire decade of history, going back to Goddamage, but focusing on their recent release, Sister Faith. Ryan Patterson spoke from the heart between songs, speaking to the injuries and loss felt by Baroness on the road, and how that's the greatest fear you have traveling as a band. The band refers to themselves as punks and while "Black Magic Punks," off the new album, might be about the folks who've come before them, it could just as easily apply to Coliseum. It's a dark music they play, but one that offers up hope and energy. "Waiting," from the Parasites EP, might've been the highlight of the show for me -- packed with riffs, and a vocal delivery that blew me away. Bonus points to Patterson for introducing Sister Faith's "Love Under Will" thusly: "This is a song about finding love in the face of death." [gallery ids="16801,16800,16802,16803,16804,16805,16806,16807,16808"]
electronic, interview, live music, upcoming events, vinyl on May 31st, 2013 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Chrome Sparks is the project of Jeremy Malvin, a Brooklyn musician trained in classical percussion. The act originally started out as a bedroom recording, but Malvin has put together a live band when he takes it on the road. As a matter of fact, Chrome Sparks is currently opening for Anamanaguchi, with a tour that ends Tuesday, June 11, at the Echoplex in Los Angeles. Chrome Sparks opening for Anamanaguchi seems like a real point / counterpoint thing. Is it the calm before the chiptune storm? Yeah, my music is definitely a hundred times more chill than theirs. I'm confident it'll make sense live though. We're both live bands having fun onstage with electronic music, so I imagine that people will be able to vibe to the concert as a whole, regardless of the severe mid-show tempo acceleration. How'd the pairing come about? I actually met Ary from Anamanaguchi a long time ago, before he was in the band. His sister and I became friends at summer camp when we were around 14. I went to visit her in LA and saw Ary playing on his Gameboy with headphones, or at least I thought he was playing. Ends up he was composing. Now, coincidentally, Ary and I live a block away from each other in Bushwick.
There's a real Italo-disco thing going on with the Sparks EP, especially on "Marijuana." Are you influenced by that scene, and if so, who?
The heavy sample I used on "Marijuana" is actually from a disco track that came out a before Italo emerged. I can't say that this EP or the track were influenced directly by Italo, but I can say that I'm a huge Italo fan and it might have seeped through the cracks, under my radar. I also might have scooped up a few drum sounds from Italo star (is there such a thing?) Gary Low on "Cosmic Claps Of Love." I really, really like Gary Low.
Everything I've read about Chrome Sparks makes mention of the fact that you're a classically-trained drummer. What, exactly, does that mean, and how do you get to be that sort of thing?
The centerpiece of my entire life up to the point at which I dropped out of school was percussion. I got my first drum set when I was 2, started taking lessons at 5, went to a performing arts high school, attended camps and seminars every summer, and then went on to study percussion in college. All of this has more than strongly influenced my music making, it's the foundation of my musical ideologies and the core of my compositional process.
How does it apply to the making of your music -- or is it just an interesting factoid they can put into your PR materials?
If you think sex sells, try classical percussion.
I've noticed that you put together a band in order to do this live. It's not just you and a bank of sequencers or a laptop. Who joins you onstage as Chrome Sparks, and what do they bring to the equation?
My best buddies Jesse and Bill join me for the live show. I've known Bill since high school, when we were both percussionists in the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. Jesse, also a percussionist, I met through a mutual friend at a bar in Williamsburg about a year ago. They're both stellar musicians and I knew they'd be able to play anything in any weird setup. There's more life in the music with these two groovy dudes on stage, banging on drums and synths and dancing around with me.
More importantly, how does the music change when other people factor into the creation?
I put this specific setup together to sound as much like the album as possible, but we still open things up to make them more engaging in a live situation. This setup gives people the chance to see pieces that were heavily multi-tracked and edited in a completely different context, one that lends itself better to live performance. he guys are bringing more to the equation than people who just plays the right notes. Like I said, they're two groovy dudes and we just have a blast with it on stage.
Chrome Sparks play tonight at the Marquis Theatre in Denver. The rest of their dates opening for Anamanaguchi follow. You can buy the Sparks EP (pressed to 500 copies on white vinyl) from the Chrome Sparks website.
6/01/13 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Shred Shed
6/04/13 - Vancouver, BC - Biltmore Cabaret
6/06/13 - Seattle, WA - Chop Suey
6/07/13 - Portland, OR - Backspace
6/09/13 - San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Shop
6/11/13 - Los Angeles, CA - Echoplex