Category Archives: Concerts

Whitney Rose 2/13/18, Denver

Dates: February 13, 2018

Location: Goosetown Tavern, Denver CO

Live at the Goosetown Tavern!

BY TIM HINELY

I’ve been a fan of Canadian Whitney Rose since her sophomore release, 2015’s Heartbreaker of the Year, but I’d missed the last time she played in Denver. This time I was determined not to miss it. Plus it gave me a chance to check out the Goosetown Tavern, which is right across the street from the venerable Bluebird Theatre. The Goosetown used to be called the Across the Street Café, a venue that I saw Richard Buckner in on my first trip to Denver in ’97, but I digress.
Another early show and as we walked in about 8:30 PM she was a few songs in (per the doorman) and the venue, though small, was pretty packed for the charismatic Canadian. She had a full band including two guitarists, a rhythm section and of course Rose who only sang on most songs, but did bust out an acoustic guitar for a few numbers. Also, she’s a talker, loves talking to the crowd and told some funny stories.

Her latest record, Rule 62, came out last year via Six Shooter Records/Thirty Tigers and it’s got 11 slices of some real nice countrypolitan with terrific songwriting (also, it was co-produced by Raul Malo and Niko Bolas, two guys who know what they’re doing). It’s a bit glossy but not the typical county Nashville gunk

Off said new record we heard classic cuts like “I Don’t Want Half (I just want out),” “Arizona,” “Wyoming” and the single, “Can’t Stop Shakin’” (which Rose talked about it inspired at least in part, by her bouts of anxiety).She tossed in a few covers as well including a Tom T. Hall (“Harper Valley P.T.A.”) and from the Heartbreaker.. We heard “The Devil Borrowed My Boots” and “There’s a Tear in My Beer.”

Just before 10 PM she called it a night, no encores but the crowd seemed satisfied. Her merch table has everything from cds and vinyl to t-shirts to a rack of assorted clothing that she got a local thrift stores. A veritable pop-up store! Not much else to say, really, Rose has a great voice, terrific songs and an uber-talented band. They’re definitely worth leaving the house for.

John5 and the Creatures 2/15/18, Pittsburgh

Dates: February 15, 2018

Location: Hard Rock Cafe, Pittsburgh, PA

The scene of the crime was the Hard Rock Café, and on a rainy night, following an opening set from hometown act God Hates Unicorns, the instrumental headliners slayed.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY TIFFINI TAYLOR

Hard Rock Café Pittsburgh welcomed John5 and the Creatures on a rainy February night. Anyone that enjoys great guitar playing would have completely enjoyed this show. John5 is a guitar virtuoso for the ages. He can switch from an electric guitar to an electric mandolin to a banjo and keep rocking. This is a tour not to be missed.

Since I was young, I can remember listening to the sounds of guitars. To me they were magnificent. (I can play some, but not superb, far from it.) I enjoy guitar solos, the longer the better. When I first heard John5 play, I was awestruck. This is what I wanted to listen to. This is someone who I enjoyed watching play. He and genuinely enjoys playing, one can see it in his emotions and face. It is a wonderful sight.

Rain was coming down as I arrived at Hard Rock Café in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Once inside, I knew that it would be a good show. The opening band, God Hates Unicorns, took to the stage. An interesting name for a band, the name reminded me of Deadpool for some reason. Anyway, God Hates Unicorns hail from Pittsburgh. They were playing to hometown crowd, that is always nice for a band. The audience kept growing and growing. This was a sold-out show. A very fun opening band. Now for the main event.

John5 took to the stage from the Hard Rock Café kitchen. That is correct, John5 came running up the ramp to the stage from the kitchen. This is very cool. The band itself, known as the Creatures, is Rodger Carter on drums and Ian Ross on bass. John5 joins the band already on stage who are surrounded by blow up creatures. There is Frankenstein and a couple of Grim Reaper style blowups. A simple stage, that is all. This is nice to see because the music is why I came—an all instrumental show was performed, and performed well.

Some may not be into instrumental shows, but this is the type that would change their minds quickly. The uniqueness of this band along with adding country to rock to metal to pop to blues to bluegrass is incredible to see. The guitars themselves can be very entertaining; an illuminated Fender at the end of the show is beautiful and sounds fantastic. Then there is the electric mandolin—a surprise, and one which John5 plays fantastically. And also a banjo— who plays banjo in a metal band?!?

 

Seriously, the guitars, mandolin and banjo brought out the diverse talents John5 really has. To bring in the banjo was unexpected by most in attendance but it was well received by the crowd. The mandolin is not often thought of as an instrument in metal but he uses it incredibly. All the instruments were played well by talented musicians, showing what hard work and dedication and a little love can achieve. Music can be a beautiful thing.

It was nice that the crowd sang along too. Yes, this is instrumental but a couple of songs that were played were covers and it was fantastic. I will never forget this line and I quote John5: “Guitars, tits, and monsters” (the title of a song on the recently released Live album). “Beat It” was played and the medley is something that one does not want to leave early and miss. The show was extremely entertaining, from the light on the guitars to the quick change to masks, as well as the glow mouth that John5 does so well. Altogether, a beautiful and well thought out show. You’ll be thrilled you saw it.

 

 

Spook School 2/7/18, Denver

Dates: February 7, 2018

Location: Lost Lake Lounge , Denver CO

Live at the Lost Lake Lounge, the Glasgow combo may have been the opening act, but they stole the show.

BY TIM HINELY

It was a major treat hearing that this young, Glasgow, Scotland band were gonna not only be touring the states but making a stop in the Mile High City (not a lot of the indie pop bands seem to stop here). Not only that they were opening for Diet Cig (who I didn’t stay for) and Great Grandpa (who I stayed for a few songs and wasn’t into). I’m all about the early nights.

I discovered the band last year on their second album, 2015’s Try To Be Hopeful, which shows a young bunch of folks with passion and fire in their bellies ….oh and great, catchy songs as well. What’s not to like?

They hit the stage at 8 PM sharp at this 16 and over show (Lost Lake is usually 21 and over but they occasionally have shows to let the young ‘uns in) and it was sold out. The dark-haired guitarist proudly proclaimed that “We’re a queer band so thank you for supporting us” (or something to that effect) and many of the topics of the bands songs relate to that subject (as well as transgender issues).

He and the female bassist were both totally low-key, but the curly-haired guitarist jumped all over the place and the drummer was absolutely hilarious! This guy, well, he didn’t make the show as the band was terrific anyway, but definitely added to it with his between song comments (before taking his shirt off , tossing out funny one-liners and professing his love for our dear city).

They opened with the opening song from their latest album (Could It Be Different? out over here on the always reliable Slumberland label) “Still Alive” with the great chorus of “Fuck you I’m still alive!” and then proceeded to crank out many of their best songs including “Keep in Touch,” “Less Than Perfect,” “Best of Intentions” “I Only Dance When I Want To,” “Speak When You’re Spoken To” and plenty more. The set was ther perfect length, a little over a half hour and it seemed like the fans there to see them were happily satisfied and they even won over some newbies as well.

Being an opening band there was no encore but the band seemed more than happy to be out on the road, meeting fans and being able to spread the word. It was great fun and if they come to your town please be front and center. You won’t regret it.

 

Wood Brothers 1/28/18, Philadelphia

Dates: January 28, 2018

Location: Union Transfer, Philadelphia PA

Live on a Sunday evening at Philly’s Union Transfer venue, there was a whole lotta sonic sanctification goin’ on… (Photo by Matt Rea, via the band’s Facebook page.)

BY JOHN B. MOORE

The Wood Brothers have not received a lot of mainstream press coverage over the years. You’d be hard pressed to find their music on the radio. And still the band managed to pack Philly’s 1,200 seat Union Transfer on a cold Sunday in January recently. And it took just two songs from the neo-folk, blues, Americana revivalists to realize why.

The band started off the set with the stellar “The River Takes the Town,” off their just released album, One Drop of Truth (reviewed HERE), followed by “Keep Me Around” from 2013’s Muse. And that was all it took to win over the crowd that stayed with the band throughout the impressive set.

The trio, comprised of brothers Chris and Oliver Wood, along with drummer Jano Rox, played a blistering set that managed to fill the cavernous venue, despite only having three musicians up there (and two of them playing acoustic instruments). Although Oliver is technically the guy in front of the microphone, his brother Chris, deftly handling the stand-up bass, was the main focus throughout, swaying, dancing and playing his bass with both a bow and plucking at it like a rockabilly legend. You have to go back to the Stray Cats’ Lee Rocker in his mid-80s prime to find a bass player that can steal a show like Chris. Even Rox got off his stool for part of the set, picking up an acoustic guitar and playing it like a drum with open handed slaps and steel brushes.

Midway through the show, the trio huddled around an antique microphone to play through a series of solid traditional folk and blues numbers, including a remarkable take on “Midnight Special,” surrounded by members of Nashville’s Stray Birds, the show openers that night.

With little press or airplay, The Wood Brothers have managed to build a fervent fan base over the past decade thanks to little more than great songs and night after night of memorable shows. The Philly set proves that formula is still working remarkably well for the trio.

Azure Ray + Elected + Whispertown 1/20/18, Los Angeles

Dates: January 20, 2018

Location: Lodge Room, Los Angeles CA

“Nothing like a song”: a night of kinship and love at LA’s historically-marked Lodge Room.

BY SUSAN MOLL

Azure Ray’s first live appearance in five years happened not in Omaha, not in Birmingham, but more than 2000 miles west of their onetime Southern base, and sold out one of the newest and best music venues in Los Angeles’ eastern quadrant. Dedicated in 1923 as the Highland Park Masonic Temple, the Renaissance Revival space, which occupies spot #282 on the roster of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments, reopened as the stunning Lodge Room after a lavish renovation. It was an occasion many traveled long distances for on this, an unseasonably chilly winter night made to burn and shiver.

Much has happened in the time since Azure Ray last performed: Maria Taylor, now a Californian, settled down into marriage and motherhood and made two more solo records, Something About Knowing and In the Next Life. Orenda Fink cut another solo album as well, Blue Dream, and, more recently, a second O+S outing titled You Were Once The Sun, Now You’re The Moon. Their sisterly kinship is as strong and as true as ever, and the devotion of their fans has never wavered. The two brought along a three-piece string section to a stage festooned with candles and white lilies. (Bonus: cocktails in cans!)

Also on the evening’s bill: Blake Sennett and a revived Elected, silent since their 2011 Vagrant release Bury Me In My Rings. Former Rilo Kiley bandmate Mike Bloom chipped in harmonica, lap steel and guitar… Whispertown, led by onetime Elected collaborator Morgan Nagler, recently concluded a tour with M. Ward and will soon be a fixture on this year’s summer festival circuit as well. Its fourth album, I’m a Man, is out now courtesy of the Graveface imprint…

While there’s no word on future Azure Ray recordings at this point, Taylor is set to embark on a solo tour of Europe next month. Fink has teamed up with her sister, Christine, and several Saddle Creek alumni in High Up, whose first full-length, You Are Here, its first LP, will arrive Feb. 23 via Team Love. In the meantime, feast your eyes:

Azure Ray

Elected:

Whispertown:

 

 

 

 

 

Milky Chance + Lewis Capaldi 1/17/18, Nashville

Dates: January 17, 2018

Location: Marathon Music Works, Nashville TN

Live at the Marathon Music Works, and a good time was had by all.

BY MARK JACKSON

There is a good chance that by now you have heard of Milky Chance, but you may not have had the chance to hear the next break out artist hailing from Scotland by the name of Lewis Capaldi. Lewis has already had over 7 million views of his song “Bruises” between the live acoustic version seen here and the audio version. If you have ever been in a painful relationship or had someone leave you this song will cut right through you. I don’t know who hurt Lewis, but it must have cut very deep. Luckily for us, he has channeled these feelings into pure beauty. He also has other great songs such as “Lost on You”, “Mercy” and “Fade”.

Lewis’s voice has a heavy Scottish accent, but his powerful voice comes thru and gets right into your emotions. I first heard of Lewis Capaldi from the Bonnaroo lineup for 2018 where he will have a featured set. He immediately became one of the must see acts for me at Bonnaroo. His music is raw and stripped down and is easy to just sit back and let it just pour over you. I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed he was out on tour with Milky Chance and coming to Nashville. The majority of the crowd was of course at the show to see Milky Chance, but as Lewis began to sing I could see that the crowd was really tuning in to his awe-inspiring voice. I predict that you will soon be hearing a lot more about Lewis Capaldi.

***

Up next it was time for Milky Chance to give the crowd the night that they will remember for some time. This night was the biggest dance party that I have seen in a smaller venue. With Clemens Rehbein’s voice, on point instruments, and a two drum kit setup delivering ample bass beats and an exciting and colorful light show that would rival many festival stages, this was a fun concert night! It’s a rarity to get a harmonica solo at a concert, unless you are at a Blues Travelers show, but I think Antonio Greger could give John Popper a run for his money.

Milky Chance, from Germany and labeled as a German folk band, has steadily been moving up the ranks in the U.S. alternate rock scene.      Milky Chance is best know for their feel good hit song “Stolen Dance”.

The guys have a few more dates in the U.S. before heading out of the county so check their website to see if you are lucky enough to see them before they are gone for a while.

Photos and text By Mark Jackson: @MarkJacksonPhotography1

 

The Myrrors 1/20/18, NYC

At Club Berlin, the Tucson-based sonic hypnotists conjured a full desert moon of classic psych, trance-inducing Krautrock, and much, much more… Exclusive photos and live video, below.

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

When news arrived that Tucson’s The Myrrors would be stopping by NYC for a pre-European tour concert, I was thrilled. (Me too, having previously lived, as you did, Jonathan, in Tucson for an extended spell.—Geography Ed.) I came across the Myrrors from the fine folks at Britain’s Cardinal Fuzz Records, and I’m here to tell you people they do not disappoint either on record or in a live setting.

Having carved out a niche somewhere between Tucson psych luminaries Black Sun Ensemble, the Sun City Girls, and Savage Republic—and owing a heap of gratitude to Amon Duul II—the band creates layer after hypnotic layer that had my mind exiting my body multiple times during the hour-long set. The band pulled mostly from their 2016 Entranced Earth LP, with a smattering of other tracks. (The most recent release is Hasta la Victoria, on the esteemed Beyond Beyond Is Beyond label.)  It was in fact Otto Terrorist, the drummer for Tucson’s Black Sun Ensemble, who pointed out that one of the tracks they played was by Amon Duul. God bless his Krautrock sensitive soul.

Multiple times during the set someone from the tiny yet enraptured audience would begin speaking in tongues and start spinning violently like some drug addled whirling dervish. Paramedics had to be called to revive several people in attendance as the music and its opium fog cast a spell over people, giving them the hit of their young adult lives. Indeed, there was no need to vape at this concert, and I fear a random drug screening will have me working at Burger King for the foreseeable future. But alas, I digress.

The Myrrors were firing on all cylinders as they rotated around the talented skin smashing of Grant Beyschau and Nik Rayne’s hypnotic guitar emanations.  Violist Miguel Urbina, added some nuanced beauty into the mix, as did the bassist who doubled as chanter in chief. The concert burned the house down and gives me hope for the future of psychedelic music and the rather difficult Tucson music scene. (Ed. note: Check out this superb-sounding small-bar show from 2015 or this one from the same year in France f you need further encouragement.)

 

 

Marty Stuart 11/9/17, Athens GA

Dates: November 9, 2017

Location: Foundry, Athens GA

Live at Athens’ Foundry Venue on November 9, Stuart and his band schooled a packed house, and then some.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY JOHN BOYDSTON

If Modern Country music annoys you as much as it does me, you’ll really want to go see Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives play live. Marty and his crack band of veteran Nashville Cats are here to remind you how good country used to be, and to save it if possible. But it’s more than just that – their show is an astounding history lesson in country, rock, pop, rockabilly, folk, bluegrass, and instrumental surf. Does it get any better? (One genre they left alone was metal, but Marty Stuart could go toe-to-toe with Jimmy Page with his mandolin any day, if he hasn’t already.)

During the show I kept hearing glimpses of bands and performers I’ve always loved – The Long Ryders, Nick and Dave, The Bobby Fuller Four, Buck Owens, The Ventures, a flash of Brit pop here and there, and latter-day Byrds. And there’s Marty playing Clarence White’s original B-Bender, a Telecaster indelibly modified by Byrds’ bandmate and drummer Gene Parsons to give it that pedal steel effect when the player pulls back on the guitar bending that B-string in and out of key. (Ed. Note: Read “A Marty Stuart Story” for some additional color re: the White axe.) Stuart is a walking encyclopedia of country music and has played with everyone who’s anyone starting with Flatt & Scruggs and Johnny Cash. Look him up if you don’t know.

Indeed, my nickname for this band would be American Rockpile. Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds fans will get that. Two guitars, a bass, drums, great vocals and harmonies and a tight tight groove. Great players and about every song had a show-stopping moment of guitar-pickin’ virtuosity (mostly from blue-fringe vested Kenny Vaughn). But as good as they are nobody was showing off, just getting it done and having a good time doing it. That’s Harry Stinson on drums and vocals, and Chris Scruggs on bass and steel rounding out this band of brothers.

The new Marty Stuart record is Way Out West on Sugar Hill Records (a Rounder subsidiary), available now. (It’s reviewed HERE.) These guys are always touring so do yourself a huge favor and go see ‘em and learn to love again. Tour dates are at Stuart’s Facebook page. here: Plus it’s a no-earplugs show. Imagine all those amps and guitars and tone at volume you can talk over.

John Boydston’s photo galleries of things he likes are at jobo.smugmug.com

 

Morrissey 11/30/17, Washington, DC

Dates: November 30, 2017

Location: Anthem, Washington DC

The Mozzer got all anthemic at Anthem in Washington, DC, November 30. Exclusive photos follow the review.

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY ERICA BRUCE

There was a lot of pondering in DC, right up to the time Morrissey came out on stage at the Anthem last Thursday, as to whether or not we’d actually get to see him perform that night. “Will he or won’t he appear?” has become the question one asks when buying Morrissey tickets over the last couple years, given the number of performances he’s cancelled. Apprehension about that and his recent comments about Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein kept some away. But for those who did go, the Pope of Mope did in fact show, full of the usual pomp and swagger for which he’s known and adored.

Kicking off the night with a cover of Elvis Presley’s “You’ll Be Gone,” the band, clad in matching “Animal Rights Militia” t-shirts, sounded great. And Morrissey and his unmistakable croon, though a little raspy at times, still sounded as lovely as always. But energy was seriously lacking from the Mozz, and he seemed to just be going through the motions. It wasn’t until song 16, “Jack the Ripper,” of the 20 song set that Morrissey seemed to finally and fully turn on and connect with the audience, much like he flipped a switch. Maybe it was seeing the countless number of hands outstretched to him, illuminated by the plethora of white smoke that filled the stage behind him during “Jack” that inspired him (which looked really cool by the way—there was so much smoke you couldn’t even see the band members and only saw Morrissey in silhouette).

Or maybe it was the huge roar from the crowd and the sea of electronics pointed toward the stage recording the minute that iconic intro to “Everyday is like Sunday” started that inspired him. (He even shook things up a bit, substituting, “Tell me Quando QuandoQuando” in place of the “every day is silent and grey” lyric.)

By the time he got to the set-ending “I’m Not Sorry,” he walked along the lip of the stage, touching the hands of those in the front row…and flanked by two security guys on either side of the stage, just in case anyone was so enthusiastic they pulled the Mozz down or themselves up on stage (“This happens a lot,” I was told by management). And it did happen, during the first song of the encore, “Suedehead,” when a kid managed to get up onstage and hug Mozz (which inspired at least three more to try as well, who were not as successful).

When the band returned for the encore and someone held out a vinyl record from the crowd, Morrissey took it and signed it right there. Given the full minute he took writing, it’s probable he wrote a small novel on the cover, which was neat to watch.

“If we’re all protected, I’ll see you soon,” said Morrissey before the last song of the night, “Shoplifters of the World Unite.” Changing the title to “Trump-Shifters of the World Unite” and an imitation of the Years of Refusal cover on the big screens with him holding a baby Donald Trump, Morrissey went out being Morrissey. And, as a final thank you to the faithful, he took off his shirt and threw it into the audience, causing a mad scrum to ensue. Divas gotta diva, but it’s Morrissey, you wouldn’t want him any other way.

 

 

The National – 12/5/17, Washington DC

Dates: December 5, 2017

Location: Anthem, Washington DC

Berninger & Co., supporting the recent Sleep Well Beast, had a sold-out crowd December 5 at the Anthem venue willing to follow them anywhere. (Photos follow the review.)

PHOTOS & TEXT BY ERICA BRUCE

The National’s Matt Berninger sounded more hoarse than usual at the sold out Anthem here in Washington, DC on Tuesday night. Hard to believe, as Berninger’s signature voice is usually like a more melodic Tom Waits. But like Waits, the extra rasp pushed the needle a bit more on the band’s often-melancholy lyrics, the voice breaking in all the right spots. It gave songs like “Empire Line” and “Slow Dancing in the Gym” more emotion, if that’s possible.

The scratchiness didn’t stop Berninger from his usual quips, political commentary, expressive lyric-screams, or the band’s intensity. The National are masters of the slow-burn song, the kind that starts out relatively simple then evolves into something breath-catchingly massive in terms of sound. This was, and has been largely thanks to the drumming of Bryan Devendorf. Devendorf was bathed in the darkest of the dark spots on the Anthem stage, but his presence was spotlight bright; his tribal pounding with a jazz skip is the band’s secret weapon, tapping into one’s neurotransmitters, making it visceral.

The band as a whole aren’t super active onstage and were darkly lit Tuesday, at times almost removing themselves physically to let the songs stand on their own. As the music swirled and tumbled about the ears, the audience was treated to very simple menageries of colors on the large screens behind the stage, at times looking like the splotches of a Pollock painting, at times the simplicity of a Mondrian. The latter could look cheap in the wrong hands, but the visuals were almost a pictorial representation of the music. During the moody “Lemonworld,” there were three black boxes on screen rimmed in green, with two random straight lines through them. It was not super interesting to see but it seemed to perfectly set the tone of the song.

The National didn’t remove themselves completely though. Berninger, who has a habit of heading into the crowd during a show, did just that during “Day I Die” and the encore-ending Ramones’ cover, “KKK Took My Baby Away” (which he dedicated to the “illegitimate white supremacist moron near here”). Some singers do that but are accompanied by security-not Berninger. He moved alone through the 6,000 person audience, full of faith in his fans that he’d be safe. He would have probably scaled the walls up into the balcony as he’s done before here at Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) Hall, but given the height of the first audience boxes at the Anthem, it’s probably better he didn’t.

Nine of the set’s 24 songs were from the latest release, Sleep Well Beast, but the show had a few interesting inclusions. The set started with “Santa Clara,” a song off of The Virginia EP that they’d only played in Lisbon and Amsterdam previously, but had to be scrapped due to what seemed to be an issue with Berninger’s in-ear monitor (“We’ll try it in Montreal,” he quipped). The encore kicked off with “Rylan,” a song from the early National days that has never been formally released. The Ramones cover of course (I heard someone say, “The National are the least likely band I ever expected to cover The Ramones” after the show). Nice to see a band who could just get by with the favorites still like to mix it up a bit.

The band even showed some love about the venue, which only opened in October. Said guitarist Bryce Dessner about Anthem, “Thank you so much, this place is really incredible. You guys are lucky, there aren’t many venues like this.” A unique venue for a unique band, and a crowd willing to follow them anywhere—that was The National at the Anthem last Tuesday.