As I reported a few weeks ago, I managed to score a ticket to a special one-on-one show with Laura Marling (all right, so technically it was two-on-one, and it was just one song… but still!). You can read about my experience here on the All Songs Considered blog.
But what isn’t included in that post is the audio I took on site. As I tried to collect my own thoughts about the experience, I went around and interviewed a few people to hear what they had to say, and I thought I’d post that here.
My favorite response came from Riley Fields who went in shortly after me:
Then there was the more collected duo, Julia Ramsey and Ben Kupstas:
And finally, I sought out Jennifer Barckley who had never heard Marling’s music before:
To hear the song she performed for me, check out an earlier post.
After reflecting on the artists I saw over the past week, I realized that they might make for a nice mix, so I put together a little something to accompany the dark days of winter. Cheers.
(Photo Marc Davidson)
1. “Terrarium” – Atlas Sound, Live at the Bell House 12/11 (3:10)
2. “Lonely Man” – The Babblers, Live at Town Hall 12/8 (4:54)
3. “The End of the World is Bigger Than Love” – Jens Lekman, Live at the Green Building 12/9 (4:13)
4. “Icarus” – White Hinterland, Live at Highline Ballroom 12/13 (3:41)
5. “Cursed Sleep” – Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Live at Town Hall 12/8 (7:21)
6. “Broken” – S. Carey, Live at Highline Ballroom 12/13 (5:45)
By this point, it’s no secret that Oldham likes to keep things interesting. The prolific singer/songwriter has collaborated with a myriad of talented musicians (Tortoise, Scout Niblett, Matt Sweeney), performed/recorded under a range of monikers, and has even tried his hand at acting (Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy).
His musical act evolves so rapidly that the surprise of the evening at Town Hall came not during the main act when he played with the talented backing band The Cairo Gang, but during the mysterious opener’s set. Earlier in an interview when asked about the band he shared a bill with, Oldham responded nonchalantly that The Babblers were simply an “obscure” band from Shreveport. But within seconds of seeing the group (and hearing the two vocalists), it became apparent that they were actually just a wild permutation of the main act, led by Oldham himself.
With his arm outstretched above his head and his eyes cast heavenward, Oldham’s alias had more than a passing resemblance to a cult leader. But instead of matching Reeboks, he and his backing band wore sunglasses and one-piece pajama suits (complete with a zipper, hood, and footsies). The stage itself was decorated accordingly with a mismatched collection of bedroom lamps.
Here’s The Babblers performing in Chattanooga on 11/30/10:
To read the rest of the review and to find out more about the mysterious group – The Babblers, hop over toBrooklyn Vegan.
Here’s a mash-up of some audio from the show:
I don’t think the Town Hall staff knew what they were getting into when they booked Will Oldham, but I’m certainly glad they took a chance and surrendered to the crazy pajama’ed gang and its fearless leader.
Well CMJ is now a month behind us, but I admit my head is still reeling a bit from the whirlwind week of music, booze, schmooze, and serious sleep deprivation. You can read all about my exploits in the archives of Brooklyn Vegan, but if you want just a snapshot of my week, I’ve compiled a helpful word cloud that pulls text from my myriad reviews.
It looks something like this…
(click the image to make it larger)
Oh yeah… and I actually recorded a bit of each show I saw – 44 total. (It should have been 45, but for some reason, I couldn’t locate any footage from the Extra Lens show. Sad. So that’s absent.)
So without further ado, here’s my crazy CMJ mash-up. It’s about 30 seconds from each band. (Don’t worry – I’ve gone back and added helpful tags for each bit, so you know what you’re listening to.) It’s a bit hectic with all the background noise and the varying levels of sound quality, but if anything, the reel is more true-to-life as a result. As with any big music festival, at CMJ, you get it all – good, bad, and everything in between.
That’s Alcoholic Faith Mission, Oh Land, Screaming Females, DOM, Yo La Tengo, Tape Deck Mountain, Cloud Nothing, Blair, Braids, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Wild Nothing, The Drums, Hedgehog, Sleepies, Allo Darlin’, The Blow, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Dent May, The Phantom Band, The Luyas, Lower Dens, S. Carey, Diamond Rings, Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, Cotton Jones, Sarah Jaffe, Dinowalrus, Dream Diary, La Sera, Pepper Rabbit, The Crayon Fields, The Crocodiles, Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500,Jaill, Robbers on High Street, Tanlines, Dominant Legs, Braids (take two), Fake Problems, Lord Huron, Lia Ices, Big Troubles, Eternal Summers, Buke & Gass.
Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof + Why? + Fang Island + Pictureplane – Williamsburg Waterfront – July 11th
Given the names on Sunday’s bill, I was afraid that the waterfront for the season’s first free show would be swamped, but when I arrived at around 3:30, I was delighted to see that I didn’t even have to wait in line to get in. That said, the sights and sounds till offered plenty of stimulation. The Williamsburg waterfront is made for people watching. People paraded around in strange outfits and meticulously managed hair. At the far end of the park, a guy played dodgeball wearing a dress shirt, vest, and bow tie. I only wish I had had my camera to catch the action.
Williamsburg Waterfront (Photo Lauren Farmer)
When I arrived, I surveyed the stage only to see a woman wearing some kind of flesh-colored fat suit cavorting around to the music of Pictureplane.
By the time Fang Island took over, a modest crowd had accumulated on the sun-drenched cement pit at the foot of the stage. A light rain began to fall over the grateful crowd, but luckily the stage was covered so the show went on. I was shocked to see that two of the five members of Fang Island were wearing short-sleeve hoodies (one more comfortably than his sweat-drenched bandmate).
Fang Island put on a fun show, but things really picked up when Why? frontman Yoni Wolf took the stage. Thanks to Yoni’s sick dance moves, clever (and oh-so-decipherable) lyrics, and a full-band sound, Why? proved to be the highlight of the day for me – even if the rain did pick up a fair amount during the performance. Why? offers an intriguing blend or hip-hop and whimsical indie-pop, complete with lyrics that are astute and deeply confessional. He has a real knack for drawing in an audience, which is quite a feet given the distracting nature of the Williamsburg waterfront. My only regret was not having a video camera to capture Yoni’s dance moves. When confined to the mic stand, he used his hands animatedly. Then as soon as he had a few beats, he pulled out the high kicks, flips, and spastic arm movements – even if the instrumental interlude was only a few seconds long.
Take a listen to an excerpt from Why?’s last song, “Hollows”:
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that none of the Jelly-sponsored pool parties would exist this year without the support of Senator Chuck Schumer, who of course was present at Sunday’s show and had this to say before Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof performed:
Senator Chuck Schumer at a 2009 Pool Party (Photo Amanda Hatfield)
As you can probably tell from the clip, Schumer’s mic kept giving out (almost as if to limit Schumer’s speech and keep him from getting into politics too much), but for the most part he was still met with enthusiasm.
Xiu Hoof (Deer Xiu?) (Photo Jason Persse)
Next up: the main event. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof have partnered to cover Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, but I really wanted to see what it was like with my own eyes.
Take a listen to yourself of back-to-back clips of “She’s Lost Control” – first of Sunday’s show, followed by the original by Joy Division:
Overall, it was a decent show. Like Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, Xiu Xiu singer Jamie Stewart has an undeniable intensity when he performs (even if their presentations are rooted in different types of urgency). A major highpoint came during the last song when I realized that recent Xiu Xiu convert Angela Seo was throwing wine glasses into a metal garbage can in time to the music and bashing the broken glass with a metal pole in order to create some pretty sweet effects.
Here’s a clip (listen carefully for the smashing glass):
Sadly, I won’t be able to attend the majority of the summer’s free shows since I work on Sundays, but check out the schedule for future shows here:
On Friday night, I had the pleasure of seeing The Blow again. (Post on Brooklyn Vegan) Though I reported on her recent show at Glasslands recently, I went into Joe’s Pub with the advantage of having my recorder, so I thought I’d let you hear some excerpts from Khaela’s (most-likely untrue but wildly entertaining) banter. Khaela is definitely a performance artist, after all. Her dancing is mesmerizingly awkward and wonderful and the stories she tells between songs are wildly entertaining. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture her dancing, but I was able to log some sound.
Khaela of The Blow (Photo Devyn Manibo)
Here’s an intro to the evening in which Khaela introduces the meme of the unnamed celebrity that will carry through the evening and sings a new song:
Khaela goes on to explain why it would have been such a big deal to have had these new songs come out the unnamed celeb’s never-to-be-released album and launches into another new song (the ‘you’ she refers to is the unnamed celeb):
And finally, here’s a good chunk from the old favorite “True Affection” at the end of the evening:
At the end of the night, the veracity of Khaela’s celeb story was still in question, but true or not, it certainly made for quite an entertaining evening.
Beirut + WOOM – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 5th
I checked out Beirut last night for the third time. Of course, the sound at MHOW doesn’t compare to that of the synagogue where I last saw them play, but it was still a pretty good show all things considered – especially since it has been a while since their last show. You can read a full review of the show here, but I also thought I’d share a few audio clips with you since I got a new toy!
Check it out:
Yep. So that happened. In the future, I’m hoping to draw attention to the first half of this blog’s name, Sonic, but including audio clips from the show and even a few exit interviews with random audience members. We’ll see what happens!
So I am obviously still learning how this thing works (I admit I haven’t read the instruction manual at all yet), and my audio editing software is truly lacking, but here are a few clips from last night’s show to supplement the review over on Brooklyn Vegan.
An intro to the evening:
As it turns out, I was definitely pleasantly surprised by WOOM. Their sound is refreshing – something of a mixture of The xx (due to the great male-female vocals) and tUnE-yArDs (thanks to its eclectic nature and singer Sara Magenheimer’s adorable but fierce presence). I definitely look forward to hearing more from this dynamic duo. (They just released their debut album on Ba Da Bing today!)
Then, here’s a portion of “Nantes” from Beirut and a little bit of a teaser from Zach Condon about a new album in the works:
A special thanks to David who helped me figure out how to get the audio properly streaming! Success!
"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."
- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being