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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Band of Horses - June 20 - The Grey Eagle, Asheville, NC

Beyond their really great debut album Everything All the Time, I didn't know anything about Band of Horses before seeing them in Asheville during a recent trip to my old stomping grounds. Given their shiny Sub-Pop packaging, I expected a fairly conservative Ben Gibbard and Co. look and performance. I had no idea.

The Grey Eagle is a hot place. Fans are blowing, rafters are exposed, and Pabst is the drink of choice. I set the scene just to let you know how perfect BoH fit in this context. When lead singer Ben Bridwell came on stage to take his seat behind a lap steel, he flashed a huge crooked toothed grin behind a scragly bearded face and heavily tatooed neck. He looked like so much of the crowd, a sea of southern redneck/punk/hippy hipsters. Before they started into the set he thanked his mom and aunt who were in attendence. At this moment it all came clear. He wasn't actually from the Northwest - he's a southerner, specifically a South Carolinian. This show was to be a sort of homecoming. That's exactly how they played.

The band tore through nearly every song on the latest disc, adding a few new tracks and even a cover of Hall & Oates' You Make My Dreams (preceeded with "this is for you mom"). I couldn't believe how much energy and presence they had on stage. It was raw and beautiful. Ben's voice is as pure and clear live as it is on the album (at least two dudes surrounding me were talking about how much they envied his vocal chords). It was the perfect rock show - just fun and rednecky of the southern variety (sort of a more approachable My Morning Jacket). The industrial fans did nothing to cool the sweaty crowd or performers. It was sweaty bliss. Pabst splashing all around.

Band of Horses at MySpace

More pictures at Flickr

Check out 3 Red Squares for some decent video footage of their recent Atlanta performance

Band of Horses - Funeral.mp3
Band of Horses - Bass Song.mp3
Band of Horses - Dingle.mp3
Band of Horses - Wicked.mp3

Monday, June 26, 2006

Norfolk & Western and Devotchka - June 26 - Higher Ground

Great show. N&W covered Neil Young and Camper Van Beethoven. Devotchka covered Siouxsie and the Banshees. (Last week I saw Band of Horses cover Hall & Oates. I have no idea what's going on.) N&W played really strong and had lots of depth. Roots folk, but with more energy and sound then I anticipated. The Neil cover fit perfectly.
I saw Devotchka open up for M Ward approximately a year ago. I think there were a dozen people there, tops. That show felt so weird - the romantic atmospheric music and an empty room. It was like they were singing just to me and I didn't like it very much (the music was fine, but the feeling was a bit too intense, almost stalkerish). I thought that in the right setting they would be fantastic and far from flat. I was right. Approximately 200 people filled HG's small room. People were dancing and enjoying; the band even seemed to be digging the crowd's energy (espec. for a Monday night). I still find Devotchka a bit gimmicky, but I can appreciate gimmick. The lights on the tuba, the theramin, the banana shaker, not to forget the South American rhythms and Eastern European gypsy melodies, it all works. Just make sure more that you are surrounded by more then a dozen of your friends.
Norfolk & Western

Norfolk & Western set list


More pictures at Flickr

Friday, June 16, 2006

Indie Music Festival in Montreal!!!

I have to say I've slowly become jealous seeing all of the amazing music festivals cropping up in every nook and crany of North America (even in Lawrence, Kansas!). We do have the fantastic POP Montreal Festival every fall, but there's nothing like the mix of music and sunshine on the skin. Jealous no longer, the Osheaga Festival has just been announced in Montreal during Labor Day weekend! (is it Labour Day in Canada? I thought that was just and American holiday.)

40 bands across 4 stages for 2 days of music and arts. The line-up is starting to look like this:
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
Flaming Lips
Sonic Youth
Damian Marley
Bedouin Soundclash
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Dinosaur Jr.
The Hidden Cameras
Final Fantasy
Bell Orchestre
The Stills
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
The Magic Numbers
Lady Sovereign
Joseph Arthur
Wolf Parade
World Party

Get your $80 weekend tickets this weekend through Higher Ground. It looks to be a great time at the beautiful Parc Jean-Drapeau amongst Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Dome, Alexander Calder's Man, and a stones through from Casino de Montreal.

Let's Dance

Today's my last day at my job. Ending an era. An era of only 32 months, but an era none-the-less. On to newer and bigger things. I'm expecting the new position keeping me in my hometown much more, so expect less Montpelier insights, but more Barre love.

I've attached a live version of M. Ward covering Bowie's early 80's hit Let's Dance. The track was recorded at LA's Largo on back in 2003. A far superior studio version can be found tucked at the end of Matt Ward's great 2003 release Transfiguration of Vincent.

M. Ward's latest album, Post War, will be released by Merge Records on August 22nd and includes appearances by Adam Selzer (Norfolk & Western), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Neko Case, and many others.

Purchase Transfiguration of Vincent at Insound

Largo, LA, California - 9/30/03
M. Ward - Let's Dance(live).mp3

Post War
M. Ward - To Go Home.mp3 (featuring Neko Case)
M. Ward - Right in the Head.mp3

Remembering the Soweto Uprising

30 years ago today black students in Soweto, S. Africa rose up against the ruling apartheid regime and its Afrikaans Medium Decree, a policy which forced all black students to learn the Afrikaans language and be taught secondary school mathematics, social sciences, geography and history in the language. Soweto, which is specifically a collection of townships that hold more then 50% of Johannesburg's population (the most populous city in South Africa, third most populous in Africa behind Cairo and Lagos), was created during the height of the apartheid regime specifically for housing African people who were then living in areas designated by the government for white settlement. The riots on this date had been bubbling to the surface for some time, as some Soweto children went on strike months earlier in defiance of the Deputy Minister of Bantu Education's statement: I have not consulted the African people on the language issue and I'm not going to. An African might find that 'the big boss' only spoke Afrikaans or only spoke English. It would be to his advantage to know both languages.

Intended as a peaceful demonstration carefully planned and supported by the Black Consciousness Movement, the protest became bloody when the 10,000 students found themselves trapped in a police barricade along their intended route. The police gassed the crowd and then started shooting students, killing 20 black students and supporters on the first day. The violence continued during the days that followed as the heavily armed police locked down Soweto, swept the city at night and enabled officers to shoot at random. The total number of people killed varies from 200 to over 1000.

South Africans, Africans, and the international community were shocked and outraged by this demonstration of brute force and oppression by the ruling Afrikaans party. The riots signified the beginning of the end for apartheid, greatly due to international pressure from the UN and many Western nations.

Today, June 16th, is celebrated in South Africa as Youth Day.

S Africa marking Soweto uprising from today's BBC
Article and pictures of the riot
Hector Pieterson, the new Che Guevara
Cry Freedom and Steve Biko

Abdullah Ibrahim - Guilty.mp3 (via WFMU)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Age Rings

Six-piece out of Boston, Great Scott this past Tuesday with excellent Birdmonster, New Yorkers in a few weeks at Lit Lounge), sink your teeth into the mp3s.

Boston Globe write-up

Age Rings - Everything'll Fall Apart.mp3
Age Rings - Calm Down.mp3
Age Rings - Millions of Americans.mp3

Monday, June 12, 2006

Jackhammers will kill ya

Sunday, June 11, 2006


It's been 19 days since my last post. Not bragging. Just shy of Lat 44.2N's one year anniversary and I go and get all sorts of slack. No promises about getting regular in the near term, as there's way too many things currently biding for my time (new job, travel, home repairs, etc). But don't go out and take me off your blogroll (or perhaps favorites?) just yet, as this is just a spell. I've got plenty of blog in me - I'll be sneaking a few in between airport terminals and foundation repairs. Promise.