Monday, August 6, 2012

The Fray - Monday, April 30th, 2012

The morning after the Miike Snow show I found myself on a plane to Houston, TX for work. It would be a quick overnight trip, and I would be staying at a non-Marriott (gasp!) right downtown, as it was the only hotel I could find with a decent rate for this trip.

If you've never been to Houston before, you might not realize that it is one of those cities where people do not go downtown. Downtown Houston is a mecca of the 9-5 world, and thus shuts down at night and on weekends. Unfortunately for me - a young-ish female - downtown is not a great or safe place to be walking around alone at night. I was staying in a particularly seedy hotel (check out the glowing reviews here), and therefore elected to have dinner at the restaurant closest to my abode, which just so happened to be the House of Blues, Houston. Upon arrival to the HOB, the bar area was full, and I was given a table near the entry. Minutes after ordering my dinner, a man came in and struck up conversation with me, despite the fact I clearly did not want to talk to him. Turns out he was simply trying to give away a ticket to that night's show and was wondering if I wanted it. As a hardened Bostonian, I was sure there had to be some strings attached, but the guy just handed me the ticket and left, leaving me to my own devices.

So I meandered upstairs after my meal to check out the Fray, that band from the aughts with the hits "How to Save a Life" and "Over My Head (Cable Car)". It wasn't necessarily my type of music, but it was a sold out, enthusiastic crowd right from the get-go. As I entered the venue, the lead singer, Isaac Slade, was in the middle of the crowd leading a sing-along. I was immediately impressed, but Isaac soon returned to the stage and the show became more of a display of mainstream piano pop. I stayed for about 45 minutes of their set, enough to hear "How to Save a Life" before I peaced out.

Here's a picture from my cell phone showing a blurry Isaac Slade on piano in front of the puzzling drum kit's display of  "S + S" which I can only assume meant "Sweet n Sassy".

Miike Snow - April 29th, 2012

Alright, so I've been very negligent with the ol' music blog, although far from negligent when it comes to attending shows. In fact, since late April we have been to 14 shows and one music festival. I will do my darndest to update SHAW on all of these wonderful events because damn....we've seen some really good music as of late.

But let's travel back to the spring, when we headed to the House of Blues to see Miike Snow perform. I have loved Miike Snow since I first heard their self-titled debut album in 2010. I would dare say it is one of my favorite albums in the past few years. Because of my deep love for Miike Snow, I've gone to great lengths to see them perform before, including paying WELL over face value for their show at the Paradise in 2010, and also driving down to NYC and back in a day to see them at Terminal 5.

Thankfully, the tickets for this particular show were procured with ease, and we were even able to snag box seats, which is probably the nicest vantage point at the HOB from which to watch a show, particularly for old folks like us. I must admit I was a bit wary of how this show would compare to others, as they are heavily promoting their new album, Happy to You (amazing title). While I like the new album just fine, it is not nearly as electro-poppy as their first, and therefore not as fun or dance-able. Miike Snow blessed the crowd with a 50/50 mix of new stuff and old hits, and I was definitely happy with that. They also had a very cool stage set-up, with all of their electronic toys spread out across the stage in an elaborate, almost space-ship like manner. This did mean that the keyboard(s) took second fiddle to the rest of the instruments, and was closer to the back of the stage than in other shows, but I was fine with that. My only small gripe about the show is the diva-ness of the lead singer, Andrew Wyatt. At times he can seem a bit complacent and like he's doing a job, there just isn't a lot of joy there. At the conclusion of the encore, he barked "Thank----" with the "You" being cut off before he threw his mic (miic?) on the ground. But really, it doesn't take away from my continued love of Miike Snow.

Here is a video of them performing "Silvia" live and a couple of pics from my cell phone, one which highlights their amazing mascot, the jackalope. Side note, when Sid and I saw Miike Snow at the HOB in 2011, Sid actually bought a black polo shirt with a tiny jackalope emblem. The merch people were very excited that they were able to sell one of those bad boys.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Girl Talk - Friday, April 27th

A few months ago, Sid and I were at a friend's place for a board game night. Said friend is big into DJing and conversation turned to my favorite mash-up artist and yours: Girl Talk. I immediately grabbed my phone to see when and where he would be playing in the coming weeks. Amazingly, he did have one Boston-area date on his tour, at none other than Merrimack College in Andover, MA. A couple of minutes later, I had secured two tickets to the show, courtesy of my phone. This is when I really appreciate having a smart phone.

Fast forward to the end of April and we are on our merry way to the burbs of Boston to join a bunch of co-eds at what must have been their "Spring Fling" entertainment or some such thing. Rolling onto their campus was sort of surreal, as it really seemed like a soundstage. Everything was so pristine and quiet and rather atypical from my Friday night college experiences. But I digress.

The show was held in Merrimack's Lawler Arena, which Ryan coined "the Fenway of Division 1 hockey". The place was pretty tiny for a relatively big hockey school, and the floor was filled with maybe a couple hundred kids when we got there. Naturally glow sticks and contraband nips abounded. I was curious to see how Girl Talk's energy would be with this fairly small college crowd, but he certainly did not disappoint. In fact, of the four times I have seen him, this show was probably the longest and with the most ornate background. And of course, there were more balloons and confetti than you could shake a stick at. I will always take an opportunity to see Girl Talk, no matter the audience or venue, since his shows are so full of energy and dance-able music.

I think Sid's pics portray a bit of what I'm talking about:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Big Pink - Wednesday, April 25th

Ok, so make that 5 shows in 7 days. But I'll get to how I ended up at the Houston House of Blues later.

Last Wednesday the UK invasion continued and we headed over to Brighton Music Hall to check out The Big Pink. Neither Sid nor I knew a ton about the band, but from their singles ("Dominos" and "Stay Gold") and a couple of listens to their albums ("A Brief History of Love" and "Future This"), we decided to take the not-too-risky risk of checking out their show.

We were both a little surprised when we entered the venue and found about 50 people around the periphery of the hall, vaguely bopping their heads to the opening band. Not only was the number of people in attendance a surprise, but also the make-up of The Big Pink's fans: they were....eclectic. Next to us were three teenagers with X's on their hands (i.e., not legal to drink) and one of them also wore a wedding band. We were happy to see our favorite fellow fan of Scottish and British bands, who I affectionately call Gramps, there with his lady friend. Gramps has been front and center at previous Frightened Rabbit and We Were Promised Jetpacks shows, belying his 50 (60?) or so years. I managed to get a blurry cell phone pic:

The Big Pink didn't seem to mind the tiny crowd, or the fact that this was the last stop on what I'm sure was a draining tour. Although Robbie Furze, the lead singer, was great, my favorite performer was the female drummer. Girlfriend looked a little bit like Blossom, and had the 90's hairstyle and enormous headphones to match. She was awesome.

Nome sayin??

The other main member of the band is Milo, a dude in a hoodie who was over in the shadows playing with knobs for an hour (pictured with Mr. Furze below).  As for the music, it's upbeat, bouncy, and a little electronic, which is all great in my book. What's not to love? 

Monday, April 30, 2012

We Were Promised Jetpacks - Tuesday, April 24th

This past week has included a ton of great live music- four shows at four different Boston-area venues in six days - and I figure there is no better time to start off my live music blog. Let's do this!

Scottish bands are near and dear to my heart, since my beloved Frightened Rabbit hails from there, and FR is essentially the reason my now-husband, Sid, and I met (they also gave us a fantastic setting at which to get engaged). We Were Promised Jetpacks happen to be good chums with the boys in Frightened Rabbit, which is the main reason I checked them out to begin with. Scottish heritage aside, WWPJ certainly stand on their own (eight?) feet as a fantastic band from across the pond.

Sid and I arrived at Paradise Rock Club at around 9:30 last Tuesday, just in time to see the end of opener Breton's set. I wish we'd seen more of their set, since the band is comprised of a drummer, a guitarist, and a couple of people playing electronic things, and lord knows I love me some electronic things. Check 'em out:

We settled on a spot on the left side of the balcony for WWPJ, since our favorite spot on the right side of the balcony was mysteriously closed. While I could see almost all of the members of the band, aside from the drummer, I also had a nice solid view of one of Paradise's infamous poles. I could take the time here to complain about how I really don't like the reconfiguration of the Paradise after their 2009ish renovation, but then I'll really sound like a hipster, so I'll abstain. 

We Were Promised Jetpacks ripped through a good mixture of music from their older album, These Four Walls, and their newer release, In the Pit of the Stomach, which I admittedly do not know very well. One of my favorite moments was their performance of Keeping Warm, a meandering track that starts off nice and calm and builds into an upbeat melody. But really, Sid summed up the entire evening once we stepped outside: "I would pay the price of admission for It's Thunder and It's Lightning alone". I completely agree, and I would almost say that WWPJ suffers from the Curse of the Good Song. They have one song which is completely incredible, particularly live, and for me, I'm not sure that any other song they produce will ever quite live up to the awesomeness of It's Thunder and It's Lightning. Naturally, they finished with this song and did not return for an encore, and I think we were all perfectly ok with that.

I'll leave you with a couple of great pics from the show, taken by Sid, and a performance of It's Thunder and It's Lightning at KEXP a couple of years ago.