On Oct. 5 I had the pleasure—nay, the honor—of seeing the amazingly eccentric and talented experimental freak folk band tUnE-yArDs with opening act Pat Jordache at Cat’s Cradle. I was so excited about this show that I got there an hour and a half early with fellow DJ Salt Water Jaffee and ran to the stage to post up front and center so I could be as close as possible to my queen, my goddess, Merrill Garbus.
I was a little apprehensive when the first person to come on stage for Pat Jordache was a man who was all ribs and muscle in nothing but a pair of overalls and gold chains: no shirt or shoes. He sat down behind the 10+ drum set and began playing. His talent and obvious passion for banging stuff blew my mind. A few seconds later the second drummer came out and began beating the crap out of a tom tom and a snare. Then out came the guitarist, crutching along with a hurt foot. Jordache, front man/bassist/keyboard extraordinaire with a haircut not grown in the U.S., was the last to appear and began to serenade us with his deep, throaty cooing against heavily present bass, brain rattling drums, and airy guitar. The band is kind of New Wave, somewhere between Joy Division and Fleet Foxes.
Jordache was the perfect warm-up act for the insanity that arose when Garbus stepped on stage with her painted cronies in color blocked clothing.
If you’ve never heard of tUnE-yArDs, you’re missing out. It is everything I’ve ever asked for from the music gods: powerful, loud, tribal, catchy, sexual, dance-y, eccentric, and a downright good time. The band is most famous for live vocal and percussion looping, strong melodies, and Garbus’ insanely African-influenced singing style and inhumanly wide vocal range. I melted into the monitor I was leaning against out of sheer amazement when she hit her high notes in the song “Powa.” Such a loud and powerful sound is strange coming from Garbus, the close-to-five-feet-tall howling singer with half of her head shaved and colorful paint on her face. She was constant smiles and giggles with a few funny faces thrown in.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the show was not how much fun I and the rest of the audience were having as we “worked it out on the dance floor” (Garbus herself commented on how insane the crowd was), but how much fun the band was having. While Garbus was cheerily strumming on her be-stickered ukulele, the two saxophone players jumped around banging pots and pans and danced like hunchbacks at a disco. The bassist was the epitome of cool on the opposite side of the stage, bopping along and slapping his bass. But when he stepped up to the microphone for a bit of a vocal solo, the crowd went nuts, which shows the love the fans hold for tUnE-yArDs is not just rooted in the front woman, as is commonly the case, but in every single member that contributes to the masterpieces that are every song they release.
Throughout the show I noticed that almost all of my fellow audience members new the words to every song she played. It wasn’t a case of everyone knowing the words to “Gangsta” or “Bizness” but not “You Ves You” or “My Country.” I can honestly say that this is the first show I’ve been to where the people that were there truly wanted to be there more than anything else in the world. I’m sure they will agree with me when I say that this concert was not just another show; it was a spiritual experience.
The poetic guitar riffs of Fang Island resonated through the air and walls of Cat’s Cradle as we (Da Bear, Hot Tamale, MayDay, and Sarahnade) rolled up to the club. The energy of Fang Island was contagious, as the crowd danced and continuously banged their heads. Fang Island consists of three electric guitar players, a drummer, and bassist. Their skill on guitar was evident as they passed the lead lines from player to player, each player equally capable of shredding on guitar at incredible rates. The crowd responded most vehemently when the band broke out into their song “Daisy.” They were a great opening band to prepare the crowd for The Joy Formidable.
The Joy Formidable, hailing from Wales, contains only three members but their stage presence and performance was not indicative of this basic setup. The front woman, lead vocal, and electric guitar, Ritzy Bryan, was seemingly innocent and coy when not playing but turned into a fierce and erratic musician upon the start of the first song. With wide eyes she communicated intensity to the crowd. Their music was surprisingly thick and layered for a three-person band. It was all encompassing but not overwhelming.
The largest reaction from the crowd came during “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade.” They continuously made strong efforts to connect with the audience and were very appreciative of the support given. The concert gained momentum throughout and finally climaxed during the last song in a whirl of energy including thrown drum sticks, distorted guitars, and a semi-destroyed stage. The crowd brought them back on for an incredible encore of one last 10-minute song. When finished the band and crowd seemed truly exhausted and satisfied by the inconceivable performance.
Da Bear, Hot Tamale
First, Nick Lowe is cool. As Jeff Tweedy said when Lowe came out to accompany Wilco for two songs (including one of his own), “It’s okay to like Nick Lowe.” He was a perfect opener. He played solo, just him and his pretty, old Hummingbird. Sure, this is the guy that people mostly (if not only) know for “Cruel to Be Kind,” and that seemed to be the main criticism of him I was hearing. But I scoffed at these doubters – these fools would doubt anyone that Wilco choose to play with them. His guitaring was smooth, his lyrics were smart, and he was cool. Supreme.
Now, Wilco. ”Who’s your favorite band” can be a pesky question if you don’t have a ready answer. Wilco’s been mine since early high school. This span of favoritism has included weeks without their music and days of listening only to them, but even when I’m not listening to Wilco I know that I’d like to be. With 75 of their songs on my iTunes, adding up to more than five hours and 19 albums (and EPs, Singles, Compilations, etc.), they surely outnumber any other artist. (This doesn’t even include Loose Fur or any other side projects.) Plenty of their 4+ minute songs have over 30 plays, and the star ratings… plentiful. I love them.
So, hooray for Raleigh. We hosted Wilco’s new album (The Whole Love) release party, and we got a shout-out for housing their merchandiser, Kung Fu Nation. Many of my Wilco-friends thought The Whole Love has restored their faith in the band, and it’s their favorite album since (blablabla yadayadayada), etc. Yes, the new album kicks ass, but for me, so do the old albums–all of them. Songs from their Wilco album already feel like classics, and hell, so do half the songs from their newest album. They proved their range of greatness with a killer set and a magnificent encore. There’s nothing like knowing every song. This is their set list as recorded by me (comment corrections if necessary):
1. Art of Almost
2. I Might
3. Rising Red Lung
4. Ashes of American Flags
5. Bull Black Nova
6. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
7. One Wing
8. Dawned On Me
9. Born Alone
10. Impossible Germany
11. Say You Miss Me
12. Whole Love
13. Pot Kettle Black
14. Handshake Drugs
15. War on War
16. Black Moon
17. One Sunday Morning
Shot In The Arm
36 Inches High (Song by Nick Lowe, with Nick Lowe)
I Love My Label (with Nick Lowe)
Red-Eyed and Blue
I’m The Man Who Loves You
One hell of a night. Tweedy called it out himself. Honestly, though… it could’ve been a little louder (and I had great, close seats). I’ll be glad to see them as many times as I can. They produce a poster for every single concert they put on. If that’s not some indication for how much they care about their shows, I’m not sure what is. You can always count on bits of Tweedy’s character in between songs. This evening was not filled with rants between each song, but there were a few gems to prove how personable he can be (plAAAtinum).
What to say about the Fleet Foxes concert? I don’t think I have ever been that wet in my entire life. There was a torrential downpour the entire concert, or what there was of a concert.
I arrived at the Raleigh Amphitheater toward the end of The Walkmen, the opening act. At this point the rain was fairly mild and I had a rain jacket and a towel so I was prepared. By the time Fleet Foxes started, the downpour began. They began by playing songs from their new album, Helplessness Blues. The rain made for a unique atmosphere. People wearing trash bags, people without shirts or shoes. Everyone was soaked. But people made the most of it, and at one point there was a parade of fans dancing and singing through the venue in the rain.
I enjoy all of Fleet Foxes’ albums but I have a special connection to their self titled album, so when they started playing songs from that one I was in bliss. They played “Your Protector” and “Ragged Wood.” Then suddenly, in the middle of “Ragged Wood” a speaker blew out. Fleet Foxes tried to continue playing but they had to stop. Then they said they had to take a break until the storm passed. So in the downpour we waited in limbo, not knowing whether the storm was going to pass at all. At that point, my rain jacket and dress were soaked through and I was dripping water. The storm started to get the best out of some people and fans began to gradually trickle out. My friends and I were stubborn and did not want to be defeated by Mother Nature, so us and other fans just stood in the rain hoping it would let up so we could hear some Fleet Foxes.
Fleet Foxes had to cover up all their equipment and were also just standing on the side of the stage hoping the storm would pass. After a while, the rain let up but they announced that they had to wait for the lightning to stop in order to play. Looking up at the sky I saw that there was lightning every five seconds or so, so it did not seem hopeful. A tech guy then came up to a microphone and stated that another storm was coming so Fleet Foxes would not be able to play again. The lead singer of Fleet Foxes then came onto the microphone and explained that they were sorry and if they could play, they would. He also complimented us Raleigh fans on being awesome for standing through the storm. He claimed they would try to make it back to Raleigh soon, and he sounded sincere.
Later on their Twitter they wrote “Raleigh: you were the most amazing audience we’ve ever had the honor to hang with, sticking it out in that crazy storm tonight.” And “Seeing you people in Raleigh tonight made me more proud to be a part of this than any other thing we’ve done. #thankyou #fucknature”
So in the end, the Fleet Foxes concert was definitely an experience, although the experience didn’t include as much music as I had hoped for.
Photography by WKNC Photographer Katie Hill
A fantastic ending to a fantastic weekend!
(see if you can find the photo with the surprise celebrity!)
Walking up to Cat’s Cradle, I went to the front door like always…but I was redirected around to the side of the building. After waiting 40 minutes after the doors were supposed to open, the crowd was let in. What I walked into was not the Cat’s Cradle I was expecting: everything was gone. I was standing in a massive open space, with only the soundboard sitting between the stage and bar. At first it felt like the building was remodeled after an outside festival stage. To be honest, I was unsure what to think.
After the initial shock upon walking in, I found a spot and waited for the first band, Papa, to start. As the band began their short set, I realized that the design of the venue was not the only thing that had been revamped; the sound that came through the monitors was clear. Really clear. After some bad concert experiences, I have trained myself not to expect too much from the sound system at Cat’s Cradle, so it is an understatement to say I was pleasantly surprised to hear each instrument loud and clear!
Papa has a characteristically 50′s sound they share, to some extent, with both Nobunny and Girls. The reverb-y Jaguar, complimented by bouncy piano chords and rolling drum patterns, has become something of a staple in indie music recently. Each member of the band played well and the singing was solid, but there was something missing from the equation. The melodies often sounded a little forced and overly poppy; the crowd seemed to enjoy their set though, so it may just be me. I see a lot of potential in Papa, especially if they work on writing songs that don’t confine so strictly to pop’s barriers.
After Papa had finished and packed up their equipment, Nobunny began to set up their instruments along the front of the stage. I learned beforehand that their show was a little intense, but I was still surprised when the lead singer walked out wearing only a dilapidated bunny mask, half of a jacket, a metal-studded leather belt-vest, and briefs (something like this). Yep, no pants. He put on his guitar and proceeded to go absolutely insane. I’m talking about yelping lyrics that may or may not have any meaning at all, while strumming hard enough to induce an aneurysm. The band excited a large part of the crowd standing towards the front of the stage, but as I looked behind my spot somewhere in the middle, I saw a lot of faces that weren’t buying into the whole spectacle of it all. I guess you were either really into the act or not.
As soon as Girls stepped onto the stage, the crowd gave them a serious amount of applause; I was pretty startled by how loud the cheering was. They started off their set by playing a bunch of songs from Album, their 2009 release. Chris Owens was friendly, talking about how he was trying to change up their setlist for each show on the tour.
Coming in with a few upbeat songs from the Broken Dreams Club EP, the sound started to really hit me…and once they came in with Vomit, the single from their new album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, I freaked out. After the fourth-or-so verse, the band went into an intense, abstract noise jam, one of my favorite concert moments of the year so far.
After a few more cuts from the new album, the band left the stage to a stream of cheers for an encore. There was an even a chant: “GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!” that went on for a while.
The band came out for another amazing five or six songs; Chris said they played every song they knew. This included a loud rendition of my favorite Girls’ track, Morning Light. Towards the end of the encore, there was even a disclaimer from Chris to local media: he did not want to see a review stating that the set fell apart at the end, as they were playing an unrehearsed version of another new album track, Just a Song. I can honestly say that the hour and forty-five minute (!) set did not fall apart, nor did it drag on as some long sets do. I could tell the band was having a lot of fun, which made it great for the audience as well.
By the end of the show, the newly deconstructed Cat’s Cradle didn’t feel weird anymore. I can’t wait to go to another show there!
Tuesday night was awesome!
As I walked into Lincoln Theatre, I told the door man I was on the list. He couldn’t find my name. Needless to say, I was worried I was not going to get to see the show. He went to talk to someone and a few minutes later, everything was worked out and I pushed past the bar to a large crowd.
Wye Oak was a few songs into their set as I moved toward the front. I saw them already in July, outside Lincoln Theatre during DejaFest, so I had high hopes: I was not let down. Jenn Wasner, the lead singer and guitarist, pushed through some heavy riffs while maintaining her subdued, low-key vocals. All the while, Andy Stack effectively played drums and keyboard, turning out an ambidextrously awe-inspiring performance.
As they concluded their set, a team of techs bustled around for 30 minutes, setting up instruments that spanned the entirety of the (well-sized) stage.
Okkervil River excited the huge crowd, as they were the reason a majority of the concert-goers paid for the show! As the band started, I was taken aback. I was not expecting the fullness of sound to hit me, and the crowd liked it too. As the set waned on for over an hour, Will Sheff’s voice started to wear down both him and the crowd. The middle of their performance was mediocre, as it included a mini acoustic set of pretty boring folk, but a second wind came as the entire band condensed on the stage.
Second or third to last, the band played their biggest hit: Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe. Attempting crowd interaction, the band enticed the audience into an 8th-note clap; it was really fun at first (the stereo effect it created was astounding), but it wore on for the audience. The last few songs were solid, with the band playing their instruments in lengthy outros that were pretty interesting. I had to get home after they finished, so I can’t report on the presence of an encore, unfortunately.
Essentially, Lincoln Theatre probably has the most professional ambiance of any area club, which is fantastic. Add to that great music presented by Cat’s Cradle and you have the perfect setup.
This guy seems to be a one-man band, but he has amazing sound which is enhanced by his spectacular accent (when he does sing). His highlight may have also been when he proceeded to coordinate his multiple crowd surfs to the beat of Starfucker’s encore. It was a beat drop/leap off stage and repeat coordination like I have never seen.
This band had such a good vibe. They’re a good compliment to Starfucker and I’m glad that they’re touring together. I see them going places. One thing I disliked (you can agree or disagree with this if you choose), was the fact that none of them actually sang. Let me clarify: there were lyrics; there was someone singing, but it was prerecorded. It wasn’t them. I’d love to see them really get into what they’re conveying in their lyrics, but I didn’t see it because they were only looking down at their instruments silently. But hey, maybe that was what was necessary for them to achieve the spectacular musical clarity they did, because their instrumental talent is legit.
Well, I probably should have said in the beginning that this was my first trip to Cat’s Cradle. What a treat for my first experience there to be a Starfucker show. With their pop genius and passionate musical concentration they could easily fill a larger concert hall, but Cat’s Cradle’s close quarters definitely amplified the light show and crowd intensity, making it pretty hard not to jump along to Bury Us Alive with the rest of the hardcore fans. There was jovial competition between keyboardist/founder Joshua Hodges and guitarist Shawn Glassford which is always great to see in a show.
I unfortunately did not notice the feminine clothing they’re rumored to wear, but really, who can notice what they’re wearing when your eyes are squeezed shut as you pump your arm out of its socket… oh, sorry, that may have just been me. Either way this show met my highest expectations.
This past weekend was packed with shows, due to Hopscotch Music Festival taking over downtown Raleigh. Sunday, a day of rest for many who attended the festival, still had its fair share of great acts. Cat’s Cradle was hosting two shows, at its own venue and at Local 506. After a long day at work, I got on I-40 and headed out toward the other side of the Triangle.
Walking into the club from Franklin Street, I realized I made it just in time for Miniature Tigers‘ first song. The show started out strong, with great vocal lines atop a poppy, guitar-driven melody. As the first couple of songs passed, the crowd seemed enthused. About three or four songs in, the melodic pop started to become more synth-driven, and the crowd responded with some ridiculously nerdy and fun dance moves. Toward the end of the 45-ish minute set, the band played their most popular song, Bullfighter Jacket, to which the crowd responded in a quite unexpected way: a small mosh pit started a few feet away from me. Bizarre, right? With a few more songs (including my personal favorite, Gold Skull, which was produced by Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo), the band finished up their set, played an extremely well received, two-song encore, and invited everyone in the audience to say hi at the merge booth.
Throughout the show, Charlie Brand, the singer and guitarist, was positive and happy. He talked between songs about how Chapel Hill had become a sort of home away from home (which our station adviser can attest to…she’s seen the band seven or eight times!). He also stated that the band was going to take a break to record and spend time with their families, and that this would be their last show for a while. I think we have good things to look forward to from Miniature Tigers in a couple months; if they focus on keeping their sound interesting, I’m sure the new album will be well-received!
A few side-notes: Local 506, as always, was great. The ticket salesperson was friendly, and the sound was not muddled in the slightest. Every instrument could be distinctly heard, even when standing right next to the stage! Though I didn’t get off work in time to see the opening bands, I heard promising things about both The Grapes‘ indie rock and Lilac Shadows‘ shoegaze pop. From what my friends said, I think both bands have potential that hasn’t been realized yet.
Photography by Student Media photographers Alex Sanchez and Marisa Akers
Photography by Student Media photographers Alex Sanchez and Marisa Akers
I’ll start at the beginning with Gigan. Yeah, Gigan, the monster the fought Godzilla, well he just devoured all the other bands so the show ended early….
Bad joke. For real, though, Gigan was awesome. Since appearing last in Raleigh the band has changed its line up but is still equally kick-ass. Gigan’s innovative style and talent was a strange match to Grave’s death metal feel, but they were excellent openers for the following bands.
** Sorry for any Pathology fans, I didn’t see them. I needed my eardrums for Blood Red Throne and Grave.**
Blood Red Throne DESTROYED. That is the most head banging I’ve done in a while. Norway is known for its black metal but this death metal band stands as a reminder that more comes from those snowy lands than Hades and Emperor (Ironically, past members from Emperor have graced the stage with BRT).
Finally, GRAVE. Swedish death metal. A brutal set which sealed the reputation that Northern Europe rules at playing metal. Though their albums only include three members they play live as a four piece. Two guitars, a bass and drums.
And I conclude with Magnus Mertinsson, he is the add-on member for live shows and he looks the most like Cousin It! Which is where we started, It going to a show! Well, that’s it, until next time!
Photography by WKNC Photographer Katie Hill
Just John and I had the pleasure of attending the sixth annual Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago’s Union Park on the weekend of July 14-16. It was hot. Really hot. The crowds came, though, and were treated to great performance after great performance. Every show I saw over the weekend was top-notch. The festival’s treatment of its fans was also top-notch. Thousands of bottles of water were passed out to the crowds to keep them hydrated (no thanks to the goons who just threw water everywhere instead of drinking it). Security were friendly throughout the entire weekend. Two air-conditioned city buses were brought in to help cool down festival-goers. What follows is a list of superlatives of some of the best, worst, and weirdest moments of the festival. Enjoy.
Best light show: The giant glowing crystals at Animal Collective
Most “f**k”s per minute: Odd Future
Highest number of gray-hairs in the crowd: Guided By Voices
Coolest stage wear: Nika Danilova of Zola Jesus’ very modern dress
Best mosh pit: No Age (which I stayed in for about five minutes too long, causing a short bout of heat sickness)
Best dance moves: Cold Cave’s Dominick Fernow, whose stomp-n-spin move was endlessly entertaining
Biggest dance party: Cut Copy, who got an entire field of thousands of people to dance
Most frequent weed clouds: Curren$y, unsurprisingly
Worst scheduling decision: Two-way tie between scheduling Odd Future and Shabazz Palaces, two of the festival’s five hip-hop acts, on at the same time and putting DJ Shadow on when the sun was still out, making his projector-using “Shadowsphere” completely useless (though, to the festival’s credit, they really couldn’t have put him anywhere else)
Best facial hair: Ian Williams of Battles, whose handlebar-stache perfectly matched his swanky get-up
People who should have passed out from heat stroke but, miraculously, didn’t: Yuck’s Daniel Blumberg, who wore jeans and a long-sleeve, denim button-down and Cold Cave’s Wesley Eisold and Dominick Fernow, both in black jeans, black shirts, and black leather jackets.