20 October 2008

chemical colors

blog block, where to start. some concerts i've seen lately...

cut copy (& the presets) @ the troc, 25 september
the band who made my ostensibly maybe favorite album of 2008 (?), in ghost colors, (except that i haven't really listened to it all that much), and who i'd previously narrowly missed seeing, more or less, twice so far this year (once at sxsw, once at making time.) was in a kind of a bad mood going in, and by myself. openers/bill-sharers(?) the presets were almost-danceable, but not quite enough for enough of the time, and were just way too dark and intense for me, at least at that moment. they kept reminding me of devo, but not in a good way. some of their songs seemed kind of good. (and they definitely had some serious fans in the audience.)

between sets they played steely dan's "peg," which was much more fun to dance to than the presets. before cut copy i jostled my way forward to get a good spot, but wound up too focused on the crowd manoeuverings to enjoy the music at all, so after several songs (including my fave, "far away," way too early) i drifted to the back of the room and finally started to actually enjoy it a little bit, when they played, i think, "strangers in the wind." the next song, dan (main guy) said something like "ok, here's the part of the show where it gets really good." then towards the end of the song ("saturdays," maybe?) he said "ok, here's the part where everybody goes completely crazy," and he counted off, 1, 2, 1 2 3 4. and it wasn't even necessarily the greatest part, but suddenly the whole room really got lighter and freer, and we were all bouncing and floating as one giant mass, the way it sometimes happens, all smiles, and that was brilliant. then, i think, "feel the love" and "out there on the ice," the brilliant 1-2 that opens the album. and i even hugged the girls i had been bedgrudgingly dancing to the presets with, and we reached out to each other for "hearts on fire." okay, happyfuntimes after all. still, they're sort of just a band, you know. hmmm.

stereolab, back @ the troc, 1 october
at that show i signed up to win tickets to see stereolab the following week, and somehow i kind of knew i would end up winning them, which i did. which is great, because i definitely wouldn't have gone otherwise, even though i've vaguely wanted to see stereolab for a long time now. what a fun show!

totally different vibe from the cut copy/presets gig a week prior - much sparser crowd, and a good deal older and less excitable, which is not a bad thing. not enough of them were dancing, but sara and i and some other folks near us made up for it, gettin silly and rocking out. the band really seemed to be enjoying themselves too - laetitia sadier is about as charming as you might expect, but in a very understated way, and unfortunately i couldn't really hear what she was saying half the time (quiet+accent.) for some reason i never expect them to be a normal rock band, like with a drummer and bassist and everything, but of course they are - they just happen to also have two full-time keyboard players (plus laetitia, sometimes.) some old stuff (opened with "percolator" from emperor tomato ketchup, and also did a handful of others i recognized but couldn't necessarily place - incl. "ping pong") and lots of new stuff, probably mostly from their new chemical chords, which i totally should have gotten there, and need to get sometime. very poppy, very sixties, soul/motown influence. yum.

fleet foxes @ starlight ballroom, 2 october
and the very next night i somehow found myself in another crowd, checking out [the] fleet foxes [as they seem to be called a lot], whom i hadn't really heard thus far. i could definitely understand the appeal... i would probably enjoy it a fair amount myself listening to an lp record... but being exposed to it for the first time in at least that particular live context, i couldn't really get into it as much more than entirely pleasant. pretty harmonies (though they kind of use the same ones a lot, no?) and a couple of melodies that stuck out - also nicely structured songs. but you know, it's just hard to get too excited about that way. clearly, they are related to crosby stillsenash.

i was actually more interested by the opener, frank fairfield, a totally anachronistic old-timey young man, who seems to be very much "for real," whatever that means. does period/style-appropriate dress/hair-styling (marked without being so pronounced as to really fall into novelty/parody schtick) make him more authentic (it seems like it does) or less? would be curious to learn his real story, how he comes to this stuff. of course there's no myspace blog bio. hard one to puzzle out. he walked on stage carrying four stringed instruments (i think?) - fiddle, banjo, and two guitars - and proceeded to play about six songs, and then carefully picked them all up again and carried them off. hum. good stuff.

and then,

jonathan richman @ the sanctuary of the church, 12 october.
eve of my birthday - it felt right. brought some pals. sat on the floor. this was i guess my fourth time seeing jojo - after rochester in high school, san francisco in 2001, the khyber in 2005. i kind of thought i'd seen him at johnny brenda's (and josh marcus opened for him there so i know he's played there) but i don't think i actually did.

he seemed more with it than the last time i saw him and got vaguely depressed by it, though he didn't quite sparkle the way he does in my memory and on the take me to the plaza dvd i'd watched a few nights before and got really excited by. frankly, a lot of it was that i didn't think the new songs were quite up to his best - mostly kind of too-typical takes on his familiar themes ("because her beauty is raw and wild") though he's got an interesting, very strongly-felt humanist/anti-conformist argument going in "when we refuse to suffer" and "our drab ways," which are sort of lifestyle protest music. he did a song about how he doesn't [want to] have a cellphone, which was bratty and snotty in a way that felt like a big throwback to early modern lovers style, pretty funny. and, of course, he did "picasso" and "lesbian bar" (got us all up and dancing, though he only did about a verse and a half.) and closed with "that summer feeling," interspersed with some stories from his earliest childhood, which was truly sweet.

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