Category Archives: Concerts

Animals as Leaders (AAL) @ Warehouse Live 5/11/12 by Joseph A.

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After 14 years, Thrice announced their farewell tour and had their last show for probably awhile on Friday night at Warehouse Live. This wasn’t the reason I stopped by Friday, as I honestly have no interest in them. The real reason I showed up was to see Tosin Abasi and his band Animal as Leaders (AAL). I picked up on Tosin from last year who ranked him as #2 of their 25 top modern metal guitarists from the past 5 years. I watched the video for CAFO and was surprised how great of a guitar player he really is. I don’t know how to properly describe but a quick search says they play “instrumental progressive metal” with jazz fusion. This is something I really don’t see opening for Thrice. I showed up to the show on that gloomy night about 5 minutes before AAL hit the stage. Warehouse was pretty packed by this time already. The crowd wasn’t’ the normal band shirt/jeans type of crowd with the normal few weirdos mixed in.  There were plenty of polos, button ups, and flat caps. Most of the girls I saw were semi dressed up as well. Kind of a hipster-ish crowd with a some post-hardcore/punk fans. AAL’s stage set up was pretty simple with a screen on each side and the drum set up in the middle. Both guitarists used 8 string guitars, something you don’t see all the time. When the show started it wasn’t exactly what I expected to hear, but I really didn’t know their sound too well anyway. A lot of the guitars were off beat and some just didn’t sound like they flowed together, but it didn’t make it bad. There really wasn’t a big crowd reaction for them, except when Tosin would play a solo, which will get a crowd reaction at mostly any show. The problem was he constantly played solos, so the crowd reactions kind of died down. I’m not exactly how much the crowd enjoyed AAL but I’m sure most people enjoyed the visuals on the screens. They went together perfectly with their music. AAL played roughly 40 minutes, and closed out their set with CAFO which got a decent reaction from the crowd and even a small pit. I really don’t get why there was a pit for them. They do have some good heavy riffs mixed in but each to their own.  Along with hearing CAFO the other highlight of the night was getting complimented on my shirt, a Judas Priest 2004 tour shirt, as being the best one at the show. I didn’t waste much time leaving as soon as they were done, but got stuck with the very hard rain that night. Luckily for me it ended early enough for me to get out before Thrice came on. I’m not hating on them, but Tosin Abasi is just under appreciated and I’m sure most people didn’t pay too much attention to em that night.

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Sunday Fun(k)day with the Mayer of Soul by Daniel G.

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Mayer Hawthorne’s appreciation for the musical stylings of Curtis Mayfield, Sam & Dave, and Motown’s greats was on full display this past Sunday night when he and his backing band The County whipped Fitzgerald’s into a sweaty, funky, soul-fueled frenzy.  Full disclosure: I”m a sucker for music from a bygone era.  The late 60’s and early 70’s Rhythm & Blues songs of love and love lost just do it for me, and I have no qualms about being a 32 year old white boy and feeling that way.  Thankfully, neither does Mayer Hawthorne–If writing love songs is wrong, I don’t want to be right!” he preached .  From the effective simple cabaret style lighting to the matching three piece suits and tight sound of The County, it was a professional display that had the audience of youngs and olds grooving along with each number.   The commitment to the soul revue look wasn’t lost on us, considering the temperature at Fitz’s climbed throughout the show, even drawing a “Damn it’s hot in here!!” from Mayer after the first act of his set finished.
 To call Mr. Hawthorne, born Andrew Mayer Cohen, strictly a retro artist would be shortsighted.  Yes, he’d proud of his Motor City roots and has his historical canon at the ready, but he adds with it edgier lyrics and a style that are more in the now.  His fashion sense even mirrored this musical makeup–pairing a swing band leader’s slim jacket and bow tie with trendy red high tops and iridescent red laces.  The steamed audience saw a set that opened with “You Called Me” and winded through some early work and a lot of newer material from Mayer’s 2011 release “How Do You Do”.   He even threw in two different Hall & Oates covers to my (and the audience’s) delight.  Energetic favorites “The Walk” and “A Long Time” were as well received as slower jams like “I Wish It Would Rain” and “Shiny & New”.  Mayer’s voice in concert definitely lends more maturity to tracks from his 2009 Stones Throw Records debut.  We got a few glimpses of The County’s musical prowess, and throughout the set I kept wanting to see more of them in the spotlight.  Luckily the raucous encore brought the band back sans sport coats to deliver “Maybe So, Maybe No” and the extended jam “Henny & Ginger Ale” as a perfect capstone to the raucous evening.  You can tell that Mayer Hawthorne belongs on the stage, and as he passed out apropos Hennessy cocktails to the audience from the bandstand, it felt like he wanted us right there with him.  Shortly before midnight we all walked out full of perspiration, joy, and a little more soul than when we arrived.
Set List
You Called Me
Make Her Mine
You’re Easy Lovin’ Aint’ Pleasin’ Nothin’
The Walk
Bossa Nova Break – Back from Brasil
One Track Mind
Stick Around feat. Quincy McRary
Vocal Warmup – “Watch Me Get Down”
Love In Motion
No Strings
Shiny & New
I Wish It Would Rain
You Make My Dreams Come True (Hall & Oates cover)
A Long Time
Finally Falling
Green-Eyed Love
A Strange Arrangement
Get Out of My Life Woman (Allen Toussaint cover)
I Cant Go For That (No Can Do) (Hall & Oates cover)
Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out
The Ills
Maybe So, Maybe No
Henny & Ginger Ale

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Photos courtesy of Jen Mok

Eleanor Friedberger @ Fitzgerald’s 4/26/12 by Howard L.

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Walking in to Fitzgerald’s yesterday night I really had no idea of what to expect from Eleanor Friedberger. Was she gonna be an acoustic troubadour? Or perhaps something a little caustic? What i experienced was not quite what i didn’t expect. Haha. She was a suprisingly good blend of quirky bluesy rock with a strong stage presence. Strong enough to present her songs but not totally overpowering to the point where her band wasn’t noticed. They were jammin!
The first part of her set was pretty upbeat and she had a great group of people backing her up. Saw a couple people dancing in the crowd. I would’ve but i was only 2 beers in at the moment. She also had someone introduce her before her set that was pretty depressing. I don’t know if that was by design or not. Strange nonetheless.

The Fitz was a great place to see her live. Sounds acoustics and all were great. Houston, y’all missed out.

A review of “Fallen Empires” from Snow Patrol by Christopher Lopez

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Everyone remembers the song, “Run,” which made Snow Patrol into the phenomenon they are now. Since that album, “Final Straw,” we now reach them at their current point, “Fallen Empires,” the bands sixth album. There are a few difference in this album especially with collaborations from people such as Troy Van Leeuwne from, “Queens of the Stone Age,” Owen Pallett, and Lissie Maurus on vocals. With this new album they are testing out a new sound that is not traditional Snow Patrol with the use of more machines and a heavier synth based rhythm.
This album is not a completely new direction for the band. We have seen other already popular bands try out one or two songs with a new beat or direction while still maintaining their composure and solidarity. Snow Patrol follows this scheme having only, “Called Out In the Dark,” and, “Fallen Empires,” being the heavy beat driven songs of the album.  Though there are more, these are the pulsating dance tracks of the album which show the new light of the band.
“Called Out In the Dark,” is the first track in the album where we hear the shift in what used to be the norm for the band. The synth is heavy and plays a great part during the climax of the song. It sounds like it is heavily influenced from older synth based tracks like, “New Order,” but still keeping true to the bands persona. This is also heard in, “Fallen Empires,” which first sound a bit folk and then turns louder and louder subtly maintaining a moderate build.  The synth adds a depth to the song that has not been heard before but still keeps the “Snow Patrol,” sound while being a dance track.
There are still the famous ballads that we know the band for such as, “Those Distant Bells.” The way that the vocals are set up is the traditional sounds we have heard, but that does not mean that there is a lack of resonance with the song. This time we hear Lissie Maurus sing along with lead singer Gary Lightbody in unison during this track which is similar to a less powerful rendition of, “Set the Fire to the Third Bar.” We do not have the force that previous duo songs have because the premise of the album is that of being less of a dark and gritty.
New band member, Johnny McDaid (Piano) wrote, “New York,” with Gary Lightbody which sounds like a standard Snow Patrol song but reflects what the band does so perfectly. The simple lyrics and intricate mix of the lyrics with the instruments demonstrate that the band does not need to change much to create a masterpiece. The build is strong with accompanying powerful vocals to end the song with a profound depth and emersion.
We see a less melancholy based lyrical structure to their songs. We are used to the depressing and agonizing lyrics from songs like, “Run,” and “Chasing Cars,” but now reach a point where the upbeat songs reflect a more optimistic subject matter.  The album is uplifting but still has its dark renditions. This is not a departure but more of a test to other sounds giving hints in which direction they will lean towards in the future. We have a glimpse to what the band will release next when Gary Lightbody told, “Broken Bottles from a Star’ is a prelude, as it says on the album. . . it’s gonna be the first song on the next album.”

Sleigh Bells @Warehouse Live – April 18 2012

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The beer was flowing like wine last night at Warehouse Live for the return of raging indie rockers Sleigh Bells. We could literally feel the electricity in the air as we watched the venue doors rattle and hum as we walked up. I noticed a lot girls with earplugs too. I knew Sleigh Bells was loud, but I didn’t really think they were that amplified. I was only assuming I wouldn’t be able to hear or talk to anyone for the next four hours, but that quickly became a reality. I then decided that I’d need something to share this evening with, it was at that moment I made the conscious decision to drink. We walked through the doors, and with Lone Stars in hand, braved the crowd of restless Sleigh Bells fans.

We were greeted to the likes of Elite Gymnastics first. They were an odd pair to say the least. The two band members played in the dark, while a large video screen guided the crowd through odd and unpleasant lyrics. One guy spoke every word as he starred oddly into the crowd, while the other guy jumped around beating a trash can lid. These guys thought they were the real-life Doug’s Garage Band. It was as if the crowd was being forced to sit through the worst karaoke session ever minus the old Chinese guy. The set gradually improved, and the last couple songs, or synth melodies as I would call them, could easily have been mistaken for b-sides of 808s & Heartbreak. It was obvious Kanye had nothing to do with these tracks though, and no one appeared too impressed.

Thankfully, next up was Javelin, another Brooklyn twosome. After watching the train-wreck prior I figured we’d just chill until Bells, but because of the quick crowd reaction I immediately rejoined the circus. Javelin was on a whole other level. I mean, these dudes came to throw down. Their beats were up-tempo and they just appeared to be having fun. People were dancing and singing along to the ballsy covers these guys were dishing out. First, they killed Beastie Boy’s “Sabotage”, and then they straight of slayed Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” with ease. This guy had a kazoo. A kazoo. He was rapping to a kazoo. Color me impressed, because I’ve never seen that. Javelin defiantly resparked the dying crowd, as they were the perfect appetizer for what was to come next.

The time had come. Sleigh Bells was up next, my beer had arrived and everyone was ready. Alexis Krauss jumped out from backstage and that quick, the show had started. The duo was now a trio for touring purposing, but no one seemed to notice. All eyes were on Krauss. She was wearing the craziest bedazzled shorts I had ever seen. It was like one of those weird infomercials we saw as kids. One guy leaned over to me and said “that’s a bad bitch right there” as he nodded blissfully. Apparently, that was the general consensus.

The set was filled with a balance of their newest record, Reign of Terror, as well as their master-piece of a freshman release, Treats. Krauss’ everlasting energy made the performance that much more of a spectacle. She jumped into the audience and hung on the rails as fans gladly held her up. She even went as far as finishing one song as she bodysurfed from one side of the crowd to another. What I witnessed could only be described as raw adrenaline. The only letdown of the night was annoying uppity pricks who had “seen them four or five times” and claimed that “they were louder last year”. You know what? I don’t care. I couldn’t make it out last year.

With only two albums under their sparkly belts Sleigh Bells aren’t to be taken lightly. Warehouse Live is a pretty big venue, and Krauss seemed to have the entire place in some sort of electronic trance from beginning to finish. For one reason or another I had never gotten a chance to see the heavy hipster duo, and prior to yesterday I actually hadn’t heard much of the new record. The couple songs they played on Saturday Night Live was the only new stuff I knew, but after seeing Sleigh Bells once… I’ll be sure to not miss them again.The couple songs they played on Saturday Night Live was the only new stuff I knew, but after seeing Sleigh Bells once.. I’ll be sure to not miss them again.

– Jessie Hobson