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"]
live music, local, photos, punk, reviews on July 22nd, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
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
hardcore, interview, live music, upcoming events on May 17th, 2013 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Daniel Rosen, of Texas hardcore band Bitter End, has put together a show that looks to be the first legitimate hardcore show in Lawrence in quite some time. Billed as "Gig #1," and announcing "HARDCORE IN LAWRENCE IS BACK," the show features Rosen's band, as well as California's Take Offense and Downpresser, along with locals Iron Guts Kelly and Backstabber. Rosen chatted with us about the upcoming show, how it came to be, and upcoming plans for Bitter End. Once upon a time, Lawrence had a pretty great punk scene, with matinee shows and so on. Is this your bid to get bands stopping here again, saving us all a trip to KC? I've only lived in Lawrence a little over a year now but in that time I've learned Lawrence has quite a history of live "underground" aggressive music (punk, hardcore, metal etc...) bands playing here. Even after the outhouse became a strip club things were still happening regularly from what I can gather. I was surprised when I moved here to find no one booking smaller hardcore shows that might draw 50-150 people. I am in graduate school now so I have no time to go all out booking shows, but I may get offered some cool stuff here and there that makes sense to book. What brought you to Lawrence? I basically moved here to live with my girlfriend and ended up also starting graduate school at KU as well. The thought of moving here mainly just came at a time in my life where I thought it would be good to try something new and it worked out well. Do you hope to get kids in Lawrence listening to and playing hardcore again? I'd like to think there are still kids in the area that are into aggressive music but can see past bullshit hot topic death core or whatever you want to call it. If having a few good shows leads to some local kids keeping hardcore moving forward in the area then that would be great. How'd this particular show end up being the first one booked? Bitter End is a band I'm in that started in 2005 in Texas and has toured all over the world and released a few records. We live all over the place now but still find time to do things. It just happened that the band was going to be in town practicing for a tour just as some friends of ours in Take Offense and Downpresser needed a show in the Midwest. What are the details of Bitter End's upcoming tour, for which you're practicing? We are just doing a little tour of mostly midwest and down to texas, nothing wild. We will also be spending a little time writing some songs in Lawrence as well. Hoping to have a third LP written and recorded before 2014. Who all is involved in getting the scene back up and running in Lawrence? This is mostly my doing, as this isn't some group of us trying to bring shows to Lawrence. I have a little help from a guy named Matt who books a lot of the same size hardcore shows in Kansas City. Another friend of mine in KC named Mickey has also helped me a little. I really am not sure what to expect. If 10 people show up and I lose a few hundred dollars then I can at least say I tried. I'm hoping enough people show up to justify booking smaller hardcore shows when I can. This is billed as "Gig #1." What else do you have planned, going forward? I put "Lawrence Hardcore is Back, Gig #1" on the flyer just as an attention-grabbing tactic. There is not a gig #2 planned, but if all goes well there will be 2, 3, 4 and so on! Through out the years I've made connections with a lot of bands and booking agents so I can make things happen if it seems there will be an audience. More details on the show can be found at the Facebook event page.
indie, live music, rock 'n' roll, streaming audio / video on May 2nd, 2013 by Nick – Be the first to comment
We went to Chicago last weekend for C2E2, and as I do in every city we visit, I hit up a bunch of record stores. And as I do every time I visit a record store in a different city, I asked for the hook-up on the best band I've probably not heard of back home. The dude at Reckless in Wicker Park suggested Disappears, saying that they were "probably the best live band in Chicago right now." I'm currently spinning their first LP, Lux (out on Kranky), and it's stellar. Krautrocky, post-punk space jams (hell, the cover even looks like a Neu! album) that are really perfect for the sudden cold snap Lawrence is currently experiencing. They played live on Chicago's Vocalo Radio last month, and you can stream it below. They play some new songs -- although, having only heard them for the first time on Monday, they're all new to me. Thanks again to the gent at Reckless. I wish I'd gotten your name, because you need better props than I'm offering. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/vstudio-10/disappears[/embed]
garage rock, hardcore, live music, video on April 11th, 2013 by Nick – 1 Comment
Kansas City's third annual Middle of the Map festival took place last weekend in Westport. In addition to photographs, we shot video of quite a few bands. We'll be rolling out some local acts tomorrow, but in the meantime, check out video of Danish punks Iceage doing "Ecstasy," from their new album, You're Nothing, above and Nashville garage rockers Pujol below, performing "Mission From God," from United States of Being.
comedy, live music, reviews, streaming audio / video, upcoming events on February 20th, 2013 by Nick – Be the first to comment
The past couple of weeks, I've been driving to work, listening to the same CD -- namely, the fourth volume of the Yo Gabba Gabba "Music Is... Awesome!" series of compilations. For them's that don't have kids, Yo Gabba Gabba is a show on the Nick Jr. cable network, and was co-created by Christian Jacobs, who readers of this site might better know as MC Bat Commander of the Aquabats. Anyhow, the show has tons of musical guests, and everyone from the Aggrolites to Peter Bjorn and John has been on it, performing and singing short little ditties that appeal to adults, as well as a kids. Additionally, there's Biz Markie offering up beats, Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh drawing pictures, and cartoons of Super Martian Robot Girl (created by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dwyer). It's pretty amazing, and way better than most kid's television, to say nothing of adult programming. "Music Is... Awesome!" collects songs from the show, both the ones performed by the characters, as well as the music from the various bands which have performed on the show. It's catchy, short, simple, and damned if it's not wonderfully well-planned. There's something to be said for a series of songs which don't go over three minutes. Really, most songs on the fourth volume all run around two minutes, and they're just perfect little pop songs. They hit, grab your ears, and lodge into your brain for the rest of the day. There's really no better way to start off each and every morning than listening to the Biz rap about breakfast. It's pretty much scientifically impossible to be in a bad mood after that. I can't imagine what the live show is like. I've seen video, and it's mind-boggling joyous. To experience that many kids being that into something would blow my mind. We talked with Mike Park about that a few weeks ago, actually. The show hits the Midland in Kansas City this Saturday, February 23, with shows at 2:00 and 5:00pm. Tickets can be had from the Midland's website. Tickets run $23.50 to $46.00, with family 4-packs and VIP packages also available. You can try and win tickets from Macaroni Kid, and that contest ends at 8:00pm Central Standard Time tonight.
indie, live music, local, pop, reviews, rock 'n' roll, streaming audio / video on February 4th, 2013 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Lawrence's power-pop quartet the Dead Girls released their latest LP, Fade In/Fade Out on Friday, and to celebrate, they played an album release party at the Replay Lounge. The group played the entirety of the new album, top to bottom, and it sounded fucking incredible.
As the Dead Girls have gone along, they've gone from being a Cheap Trick-inspired group of guys to really covering the gamut of rock 'n' roll's poppier side. They've always been a bunch to embrace melody, but this new batch of tunes really takes harmony to a new level.
Unsurprisingly, the last song of the set was a cover of the Beatles' "She Said She Said," from Revolver, which the Dead Girls will be covering in its entirety later this summer for a KKFI benefit concert. It fit right in with the the more dynamic nature of the band's new music, and the Dead Girls demonstrated once again that they've bcome one of those local bands whom you need to see and every time they play.
Regardless as to whether or not the group plays an entire album start-to-finish, or whether it's just the usual set of tunes, the Dead Girls play entertainingly, and their depth of catalog is now to the point where you're never quite sure as to whether you'll get "All Is Forgotten," "You Ignited," or "Never Erased." And, really -- I could watch JoJo Longbottom play guitar all night. Seriously, the man's a showboater, but talented enough to make playing a guitar behind his head seem like a bit of amazing, rather than showing off.
Openers The Depth & The Whisper are a group of whom I've never heard, despite the fact that I've seen quite a few of the band's members in other bands. I need to pay attention more. Anyhow ... sweet and dandy pop rock 'n' roll. The group's somewhere between the Cure's maudlin and the angular twang of Built to Spill. Great stuff, with just a touch of jangle. Go see 'em if you get the chance.