I've barely started yet have already fallen behind. I actually have a handful of show reports now, so I'd better get on them. Let's go!
M83 (Mezzanine, Sept. 17): This was sort of a last-minute thing, as the gang wanted to see them, though I barely flinched when Tom asked about them earlier. Darcy wanted to check out another guy on the bill--Ulrick Schnauss or someone? I probably spelled that incorrectly, but I'm not going to look it up now. I vaguely knew of M83, but no one in our group was particularly excited about them. After we paid and got in, we discovered that Mr. S wasn't on the bill because of an alleged auto accident. We didn't have much choice but to stay for M83.
Mezzanine is a pretty cool club. It's big, but it's not out of control, like some other places. Also, the crowd seems pretty decent, and the place doesn't seem to be overrun by ecstasy refugees (yet). But it's still a club, and as much as the press or whoever is trying to push M83 for their dance music, they struck us as still being a more rock-oriented band. It seemed kind of silly to stand around in a dance club and stare at the stage, especially when we all had plans to dance. M83 was OK. There were certainly some very beautiful moments, but they didn't have the hooks that I prefer. I think it's safe to say that as a whole, we were disappointed, though they seemed to have a good amount of fans in the audience. As we were leaving, the real dance music started, and it sounded really good. But by then, some of us were pretty tired, so we headed home.
Divine Comedy (Cafe du Nord, Sept. 22): Unlike a lot of people, it seems, I see a lot of bands but don't necessarily buy their music. I definitely prefer the visceral experience of hearing a band for myself instead of buying a CD that I may or may not like. Divine Comedy is one of those bands--I haven't bought anything new by them in years, but I'm glad to see their shows, as long as it's in a cool venue. Though I wasn't exactly dying to see the band, I was looking forward to the show. Fortunately, my expectations were well met. They did a bunch of the "classics," such as "National Express" and "Becoming More Like Alfie," as well as some newer songs. Perhaps my only disappointment of the night is that no drunken fool requested "My Lovely Horse," though I threatened to do so repeatedly. The crowd itself was a good size and enthusiastic, so that helped too. But the biggest surprise of the night probably had to do with their covers streak, starting with the song "No One Knows" by Queens of the Stone Age and culminating in the encore, where they took requests from the audience. They did Supergrass, Supertramp, and attempted "MacArthur Park," but that last one didn't quite work out. It was great! Julie mentioned that there was definitely a touch of Largo in their show, which reminded me that the band has done a number of dates at Largo. I assumed it was the Irish connection, but I can see how appropriate that club would be for them. Maybe the Jon Brion touch as rubbed off, as well.
Hope of the States/Delays (Popscene, Sept. 23): It is always with a heavy heart that I drag myself back to Popscene. I think I used to think of it ironically, but now, it just pains me to be there and to listen to the same, tired soundtrack week after week. Ugh. But here we were. I wanted to catch Hope of the States and was willing to put up with the Delays again for the occasion. The Delays were pretty much the same as before, though maybe slightly better dressed this time. I do like that song "Nearer Than Heaven," but their heavier songs are so unconvincing. Even worse, I was stuck in front of the keyboard guy, the one who poses all the time. I tried to look away as often as possible.
Julie had given me a copy of the HOTS CD a little while ago, and I definitely liked it, though I had pretty much a blank slate coming into the show. Lila mentioned that there were, like, 9 of them in the band, which got my hopes up. Instead, there were 6 members, but that's OK too. In a nutshell, I was WOWED. I dug 'em and everything about them. I loved the wall of sound, I loved the violin, I loved the slide show, I just dug the tunes! They reminded me a little of the Delgados, a little of My Bloody Valentine, but overall, it was refreshing to hear a band that wasn't stealing directly from the post-Radiohead mold or, at the other extreme, the post-White Stripes sound. Even now, going back and listening to the CD, I don't necessarily love the album, but I'm going to check them out again whenever they return.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Friday, September 10, 2004
The last couple of nights, I caught the Nels Cline Singers at Bruno's. Cool bar, awesome room, and great tunes, though I was kinda drifting off toward the end. It was also a different crowd than I'm used to, but overall, it was a great experience, and I'd do it again. Here's the review I posted elsewhere:
First off, there are no singers, lest you were expecting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Instead, you'll find three musicians: an upright bass with an accompanying player, a drummer with nearly as many gadgets as Glenn Kotche, and a guitarist with lots of effects pedals.
I'd be lying if I said I'd have checked out the band if there weren't a Wilco connection. But after hearing and seeing Nels's contributions to the current touring lineup, I had to find out for myself what the man was capable of outside of Wilco's song structure. The band played a lot of stuff from the new album, The Giant Pin, which is now set for release next month. Those who attended the shows got a chance to buy the CD now, and I did so. To my delight, it turns out that Jon Brion played on two tracks--icing on the cake. Anyway, standout tracks include "He Still Carries a Torch for Her" and "Something About David H," but the band did older stuff as well. But I can't tell you anything about those songs--sorry!
As many [members of this board] have already commented, there's an undeniable jazz component to the Nels Cline Singers, but that's only a portion of their range. The group covered a wide set of styles and sounds, from the beautifully transcendent to the aggressive and rocking to outright wankery--sometimes all in a single song. As a Wilco fan, it's hard not to listen for the elements that Nels brings to Wilco. I could pick out parts and ideas that he uses for "Poor Places," "Spiders," and "I'm a Wheel," among others. But even those moments were fleeting notes in four sets spanning two evenings.
As a front man, Nels is very capable and engaging. He claimed to have no anecdotes, but he provided fun banter and kept the evening moving along. He definitely led the other two band members with visual cues, though it was obvious they were all working with each other.
The Nels Cline Singers probably won't appeal to all Wilco fans, but like On Fillmore, it's a revealing look into the influences that will most likely continue to push Wilco's sound along.