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Concert Review

SHOW REVIEW: Ceremony @ Kings Barcade

Last week Ceremony played Kings Barcade with a solid set of opening bands. The first to play was Brother Beast, a Raleigh post-hardcore band that has opened for a lot of great nationally touring bands including Prawn, TWIABP, Old Gray, and Hop Along. Wildhoney is a Baltimore fast-tempo shoegaze band that will also be playing Hopscotch later this year. Last to play before Ceremony was Tony Molina. He gets a lot of comparisons to Weezer and Teenage Fanclub, but in the past Tony Molina and his bandmates have played in a lot of hardcore bands, which is strange considering the music they play now. There we a ton of dueling guitar solos and they even ended their set with a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Soldier of Fortune.”

My introduction to Ceremony was through their 2010 album, Rohnert Park. Some fans of the band’s earliest material noticed a departure for the band on that record. The band’s sound was becoming less influenced by powerviolence. They were moving away from their hardcore roots, and five years after the release of Rohnert Park they released The L-Shaped Man which marked a full-departure from their old sound. Now, the material they’re putting out is pretty reminiscent of the source of the band’s name, a Joy Division song. They opened with two songs from their new album to an interested crowd, but the crowd really got rowdy in reaction to the next song they played. Ceremony introduced themselves as a band from Rohnert Park, California. Then, their drummer stared playing the unmistakable top hits of “Sick.” It was one of my favorites of the night, and I was glad that they played some of my other favorite songs from Rohnert Park, “M.C.D.F.” and “Open Head.” They played an old school cover of “Pressure’s On” by the Dischord Records band, Red C, along with a song from Ceremony’s 2006 album, Violence Violence. It was a bit strange hearing their new, post-punk songs in the mix with their older hardcore stuff, but it still worked well. Despite the more mellow sound of their new music, Ceremony still put on a very energetic show. Also, it was cool to see Ross Farrar end the show with a shout out to Brother Beast’s upcoming album, Pregnant God.

-DJ Nasty Nate

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Concert Review

Hiss Golden Messenger at Cat’s Cradle 9/13/14

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to see Hiss Golden Messenger, whose latest album Lateness of Dancers is perhaps one of my favorite albums of 2014. 

Opening the show was Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, who I saw perform seven days prior at Hopscotch to an attentive audience at Fletcher Theatre. Opening a cappella with “Maria’s Gone,” a song made famous by Jean Ritchie, Sauser-Monnig had the audience at full attention like a mountain storyteller telling tales of bygone days.  One of my favorite tunes she played at Hopscotch also made the Cat’s Cradle setlist, Eddy Arnold’s “Cattle Call,” a song about driving the western ranges.  Her quiet, folksy rendition could put you out in the old west as much as Arnold’s original.

The second opener was a Philly folk-rock band, Strand of Oaks, who I had heard of on the radio back home in NJ, but hadn’t delved too much into their music until seeing their show.  The project of singer-songwriter, Timothy Showalter, there was plenty of guitar shredding and drum breaks to be had, which took the audience from captivated listeners to really active participants, with people in the crowd dancing and head bobbing from the front to the back of the venue. 

The two openers really got the crowd pumped for Hiss Golden Messenger’s homecoming concert.  When M.C. Taylor and his band started, they had the whole crowd moving from the gate with “Red Rose Nantahala” and moved right into “Saturday’s Song” from Lateness of Dancers.  Towards the middle of the set, Sauser-Monnig came out to join in with “Day O Day,” along with a number of other tunes from the latest album.  The whole band, consisting of Scott Hirsch on bass, Matt McCaughan on drums, William Tyler on guitar, Terry Lonergan on sax and guitar, and Phil Cook on keys, guitar, and banjo, put on an awesome show as they played though songs from Hiss Golden Messenger’s different albums.  Phil Cook played a stellar, Duane Allman-esque, slide guitar solo on “Lucia” to wrap things up, at least before the encore.They came back out and finished with two songs, the final being a hard rocking, sax heavy rendition of  “Call Him Daylight”, quite different then the acoustic rendition I was familiar with from WKNC’s Lounge session

From what I had heard of Hiss Golden Messenger’s shows in the past, they are never to be missed and always excellent, and I can finally confirm those words are indeed the truth.

-DJ CJ

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Concert Review

CIBO MATTO at the Visualite 9/12/14

The first Cibo Matto song I ever heard was Birthday Cake, almost 15 years ago, in the video game Jet Grind Radio. I hated it. Every time it came on I felt like I was going crazy.

And then, somewhere along the way, I fell in love with it, somehow. I started to like the feeling of going insane while Miho Hattori screams, “Extra sugar, extra salt, extra oil and MSG!”

I’ll admit, back in the days of Kazaa, I downloaded most of the songs from their albums, Viva La Woman! and Sterotype A, listening to the few songs I had endlessly, on repeat. I once played DJ at a friend’s party, and spun Cibo Matto tracks nearly the whole night. Most people wanted me to stop DJing so they could play whatever top 40 garbage was popular then.

I found out that Cibo Matto had released a new album earlier this year, when an awesome WKNC DJ spun MFN, from their new album, Hotel Valentine. I immediately recognized Hattori’s distinct voice, and even called the DJ to gush about how much I love Cibo Matto.

Ever since then, I had been trying hard to see Cibo Matto live. When I originally got into them, I figured the band was finished touring and making new music, and that I would never get that chance. 

On Wednesday, Cibo Matto tweeted that they were coming to the Visualite theatre in Charlotte on Friday, so I packed my bags, bought tickets, and raced to Charlotte at the end of the week.

It was so worth it.

They played with a full band, and a guest guitarist, Nels Cline. Each of the band members wore white, reminding me of a cross between high fashion models and house painters.

Cibo Matto kicked off the set with the chill tune Sugar Water and rolled into BBQ – one of the songs I had managed to miss from my Kazaa days. After BBQ came Spoon, which was one of the best songs of the set.

Then everyone grabbed some sheet music, and Hattori grabbed some lyrics and started a cover of Águas de Março. It was a nice rendition, but lacked the distinctive Cibo Matto sound that they have previously given to the About A Girl cover. It’s probably a work in progress and I hope to hear a finished product soon.

Yuka Honda and Miho Hattori dancing together.

Blue Train, Moon Child, Deja Vu, and 10th Floor Ghost Girl came after, hyping up the energy in the club to a boil. The band left the stage after 10th Floor Ghost Girl, but the audience immediately began shouting “Encore, encore!”

The band took the stage for one final song, the one we all wanted – Birthday Cake.

Everyone shouted the lyrics and jumped up and down. “Extra sugar! Extra salt! Extra oil and MSG!”

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally got to see Cibo Matto. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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Concert Review

Memories at Merge 25 – Caribou and Neutral Milk Hotel

Seeing Neutral Milk Hotel has always been on my bucket list. I thought I was never going to get that chance since they disbanded in 1999. But last year I was happy to learn that the band was back together, and touring again – coming to Raleigh for Merge Records’ 25th anniversary celebration.

The lineup for Merge 25 was stellar – Caribou, Destroyer, The Mountain Goats, Mikal Cronin, The Love Language, Mount Moriah, Superchunk, Hiss Golden Messenger – to name only a few of the bands that performed during the three-day event.

I was only able to see Caribou and Neutral Milk Hotel on Saturday, since I was busy in the afternoon helping out the Merge folks make sure the festival went smoothly.

About 20 minutes before Caribou came on, I slipped into the crowd alone and found myself a spot about four or five standing rows from the stage. I hadn’t heard a whole lot of Caribou, just their song “Leave House,” but I really liked it and was looking forward to hearing some of their other music.

Four men dressed in white sauntered on the stage and launched right into “Leave House.”

(read more after the jump)

I was captivated by the familiar song, swaying to the beat. As I looked at the other members of the audience around me, their faces all held the same, happy expression I was sure mine did. A guy behind me kept blissfully screaming “Oh my God!" 

The music shifted between uptempo beats and dreamlike riffs, punctuated occasionally by lyrics. The sun began to set on the outdoor stage as the band played "Sun.” Dusk was upon us by the time Caribou left the stage.

Margaret Cho took the stage as Caribou cleared off to announce that Neutral Milk Hotel would be coming on next. She reminded the audience that photography was forbidden at the band’s request.

I was pretty disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to take pictures, but figured that would have to be the price I’d pay for finally seeing Neutral Milk Hotel.

By way of apology for the no-photography rule, Margaret Cho bared her tattooed buttcheeks, which depicted two ladies that “look like they’re talking” when she jiggled them. She invited the audience to take a picture of her butt instead. I, uhh, declined that opportunity.

I watched in wonder as the people onstage scrambled to set up Neutral Milk Hotel’s set. An accordion sat on its own table, flanked by a set of three different sized saws resting against an amp. A lighted lamb statue sat near a drumset with a picture of what looked like a saint in the bass drum. Many different horns were brought out, many of which I don’t know the name for.

Sometime after Caribou I was able to move forward two standing rows, putting me just two rows of people back from the stage. Everyone squeezed together, trying to avoid touching each other’s sweaty arms.

Then, right at 8:30, Jeff Mangum walked out on stage alone, carrying just an acoustic guitar and began to play.

As the set progressed, band members entered and exited the stage, playing their parts. A shiver ran down my spine as Julian Koster picked up the banjo and began to play “King of Carrot Flowers parts 2-3.”

The audience sang along loudly with the most popular songs, and fell into a somber silence during “Little Birds,” a slower, unreleased song.

When it was all over after the encore, most people stood staring into space, seemingly digesting what they’d just seen. It was definitely a show to remember, and a fitting way to mark an item off my bucket list.

I couldn’t help but think of a line from “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea:” “How strange it is to be anything at all.”

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Festival Coverage

The Road To Moog

On Oct. 28, Moogfest 2011 will officially begin in beautiful Asheville, N.C. The festival, now in its second year, brings together artists from across the electronic and experimental music spectrum to celebrate the legacy of synth pioneer and music technology visionary Bob Moog. From musical legends such as Suicide, Tangerine Dream, and Terry Riley to up-and-comers CANT, Oneohtrix Point Never, and araabMUZIK to Amon Tobin’s elaborate and visually stunning ISAM show, the three-day festival truly provides something for every ear. In the days leading up to, during, and after the festival check back regularly to the WKNC Blog for various Road To Moog features, including interviews with artists playing the festival and reviews and photos from the festival.