Category Archives: Concerts

Anna Burch / Xetas 6/16/18, Denver

Dates: June 16, 2018

Location: Larimer Lounge, Denver CO

Live at the Larimer Lounge, a triple bill for the Mile High crowd.  Above: Xetas.

BY TIM HINELY

I’ve really liked the two album by Austin trio Xetas (both released on the 12XU label 2015’s The Redeemer and 2017’s The Tower) but had yet to see them live. They were opening this triple bill, Speedy Ortiz headlined (who I like but have seen before and I had an early morning the next day) so I made sure to get down there early and catch ‘em.

The crowd grew during their set and the band did not disappoint. All three of them: David on guitar/vocals, Kana on bass and Jay on drums tore the place apart. The energy level was up to 11 (on a scale of 1-10 ) and they played a good bunch of cuts from their two records.  The band was completely  locked in on this night and even seemed a little possessed (always a good thing). If Xetas come to your town and you can peel yourself off the couch (and miss a Matlock rerun) then by all means do it.

Michigan native Anna Burch burst on the scene a few years ago (and co-sang for the Fred Thomas band Failed Flowers…in fact it was Thomas who hipped the Polyvinyl label to Anna’s work) and released a few random singles before inking a deal with Polyvinyl this year and releasing the solid/at times excellent  Quit the Curse. She  assembled a band together of Summer on bass, Nick on drums and Joe on guitar (with Anna singing and playing rhythm guitar) and they played most if not all, of the songs on said debut LP. The songs sounded pretty much as they do on record (which I happen to like though some folks prefer more experimentation) and the soundman did a fine job on this evening. A few of the highlights included the melodic, quirky pop of “2 Cool 2 Care,” “Asking 4 a Friend” (which Burch introduced  as “this is a song about dating your drug dealer”) and “Belle Isle. “ (with Burch giving a little history on the place prior to the song).

In between songs Burch was amiable, chatty and witty (just the kind of person you’d think would write a line like, “The stabbing hatred for you suddently felt softer,” from the almost jazzy “What I Want”) and seems genuinely happy to be out on tour. I’ll be there next time as well (whenever that may be).

Hot Snakes + Le Butcherettes 5/18/18, Denver

Dates: May 18, 2018

Location: Oriental Theatre, Denver CO

Two killer bands destroy the Oriental Theatre.

TEXT BY TIM HINELY / PHOTOS: JASON NUNN (2 CLOSE UPS OF HOT SNAKES AND ONE OF TERRI GENDER BENDER and JEFFREY WEBB DAVIS (THE TWO FURTHER AWAY SHOTS OF HOT SNAKES)

I’d been waiting very (im)patiently for this gig since It’d been announced and while I’d already seen Drive like Jehu and Rocket from the Crypt I’d never seen Hot Snakes before so I was ready (and, as I remembered below, I had seen Hot Snakes once before…).

The packed house seemed to really love Mexico’s Le Butcherettes. The band is a trio with vocalist/guitarist Teri Gender Bender (who I’d found out is orignally from Denver) and a rhythm section that includes drummer Gabe who used to be in The Locust. Musically they’re a heady mix of souped-up garage and sauced up rock and rock and roll had the crowd swaying dancing and even flying (one guy thought he was a squirrel) with Teri leading the charge like a ringmaster from a Jodorowsky’s film (Santa Sangre?). They laid a nice mix from all of the band’s records.

Hot Snakes returned a mere four years after their scorching set at Riot Fest 2014 and they were ready. John Speedo Reis and Rick Froberg are up front on guitar (Rick sings) while Gar Wood holds down the bass and on drums they had had rapid-fire monster Jason Kourkounis (formerly of Delta ’72 among others). These four were born to play together.

They played a good mix of tunes from all their records. Their latest Jericho Sirens (on Sub Pop, like their other three) came out this year to plenty of acclaim and with good reason, it’s packed with songs are are tight and smack you around like a angered bear. Cuts like “Death Doula,” “I Need a Doctor,’ “Six Wave Hold-Down” and the title track were all shredded to bits while older songs like “Lax,” “Who Died” and “10th Planet” were the requisite glorious punch in the face.

They played a handful of encores at least two of which were non-moldy oldies like “Retrofit” and “Braintrust.”

The crowd were certainly appreciative as the packed house didn’t want the band to leave the stage but alas, shows have to end as did this one. The next time the Hot Snakes come to town we’ll roll out the red carpet (kept in the trunk of my car). Hot Snakes rule!

 

HOW TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN: Frank Turner

How, indeed: by speaking the truth, not lies. Philly’s Fillmore was the scene for this sweat-soaked June 5 evening by Britain’s Frank Turner and his band The Sleeping Souls, and they did not disappoint—not even the Trump-country drunks who took exception to some of Mr. Turner’s more sharpened verbal daggers. Above photo by Ben Morse, via Turner’s Facebook page.

 BY JOHN B. MOORE

It’s been a long time since Frank Turner had to play basement shows and VFW Halls, sleeping on strangers’ floors before loading up the van the next morning and heading to the next show, but he clearly is still every bit as much of that scrappy DIY punk rocker.

Headlining a show in Philly recently, promoting his latest record, Be More Kind, Turner did plenty of crowd surfing, sang enough of his own political punk anthems to please The Clash and encouraged safety in the pit (a plea from just about every punk rock singer with a mic dating back to the early ‘80s).

“First rule tonight, don’t be a dickhead; second rule, if you know the words to these songs you have to sing along – loudly!”

The set, and Turner in particular, was a masterclass in pleasing everyone from diehard fans to the uninitiated dragged to the show by friends. From the moment Turner took to the stage in dark pants, a soon-to-be soaked through with sweat white oxford and a thin black tie, he entertained with a ferocity and passion that belied the fact that he’s been on the road for nearly a month already. Running through a couple of his newer songs up front, he quickly moved into some of the older fan favorites like “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous,” “If I Ever Stray” and even the B-side “Tattoos.” He and the band also rolled out “Brave Face,” off the new album, for its live show debut.

“I’m not American, but over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time here. I’ve toured 48 states so far,” Turner said before launching into the remarkably appropriate song, “Make America Great Again,” a pitch perfect rebuke on Trump and all of the racists who have crawled out from under their rocks since his election. “A friend told me you’re not going to have the balls to play this song in America. I said, ‘Americans are fucking adults and they can understand a song about politics.’”

The song was met with loud cheers as the sold-out crowd sang along to every verse. Well, almost everyone, one of the exceptions being the drunk stranger who leaned over to me and croaked out “I don’t know about you, but I don’t like people coming into our country and telling us what’s wrong with our politics. Amirite?” When I disagreed, he hugged me (that’s odd, right?) and then walked out of the venue and into the night, like a Red State Michael Landon from a Highway to Heaven reboot for the Trump era. No one else seemed to have a problem singing along loudly and proudly to the chorus (“Let’s make America great again/let’s make racists ashamed again”).

Turner closed off the show with a spirited encore that included the rapturous “I Still Believe” and the should-be punk rock anthem “Four Simple Words.”

Below: The King in action, followed by his doppelganger Turner making things great, in a pair of official videos.

Frank Turner will be spending a good amount of time touring North America this summer and into the fall. Dates are HERE. Our suggestion: borrow your redneck Republican neighbor’s MAGA hat and bring it for Turner to sign…

Wye Oak 5/23/18, Denver

Dates: May 23, 2018

Location: Bluebird Theatre, Denver CO

Jenn and Andy – plus a new bassist – leave the Bluebird Theatre spellbound. (Photo above, by Eleonora Collini, via the Wye Oak Facebook page. Tour dates available at the page as well.)

BY TIM HINELY

Still fresh after only being on the road for a few weeks the Baltimore duo of Jenn Wasner and drummer Andy Stack (now armed with bassist whose name I did not catch) had a more than appreciative crowd at the Bluebird on this Wednesday night. Hell, I saw this 50-something couple who I see at my gym (but who I do not know) here arm-in-arm swaying to the music. Hey, if the good-lookin gym couple is here then Wye Oak as made it!

They band is in touring in support of their new record (on Merge, just like all the others) The Louder I Call the Faster it Runs  which is a little different than he band’s other records. Still a unique, soaring mix of electronics/ rock/pop , folk and the like but the mix of Wassner’vocals (an instrument unto itself) and Stacks unique drumming (plus the solidity of adding the bassist) adds up to a band that’s still experimenting, still growing.

In between songs Wassner told stories and joked with the crowd who seemed to hang on her every word (and hey, she is a great storyteller).

From the new record we heard, “(tuning)” into “The Instrument” and right into “Lifer” and the gorgeous, should-be-a-hit “It Was Not Natural” which is 4 of the first 5 songs on that record.

They then dipped back a bit and played “Shriek” from the 2014 record of the same name as well as other older cuts like “Spirtal,” “Glory,” “Holy Holy,” “The Tower” and Civilian.”

They ended it with the title track from the new record. There were no encores, but they didn’t have to (I’m not sure if that’s their standard for them or not). Wye Oak were definitely worth leaving the house for.

 

 

The Reverend Horton Heat 6/8/18, Kansas City

Dates: June 8, 2018

Location: The Crossroads, Kansas City MO

Live at The Crossroads in the big K-C, it was psychobilly supreme.

By Danny R. Phillips / Photos by Drew Phillips

I ventured out into the heat of a Missouri June night to witness the reigning kings of psychobilly The Reverend Horton Heat, for what would be my fifth time since first seeing them at The Warped Tour sometime in the 1990s.  I’ve followed the Dallas, Texas, band for 25 years, from the Sub Pop years, and through 11 albums and four or five drummers. Their blend of country, swing, jazz, rockabilly, punk and metal had always appealed to me at a deeply rooted level.  All the sounds of my childhood and teen years blended together in one unstoppable monster.

I had been there for years with anxious anticipation, wondering, what they would do next? How would they push the psychobilly envelope? 

When we arrived at The Crossroads in Kansas City, the crowd within the gates was sparse, making me wonder to myself, “Did people not realize the show they would miss?” My photographer and I made our way to the beer stand to procure a warm Coors and wait.  Fast forward 45 minutes: the smell of marijuana fills the air as the crowd explodes in size.  Standing next to the barricade at the front of the stage, I looked back to see a suddenly packed house; a venue 20% full moments before was now pushing the limits of the venue’s capacity.

Wandering through the crowd, I saw a multi-generational cross-section of the Midwestern rock and roll populous: kids in black metal t-shirts, sleeveless denim jackets, greasers with pompadours sporting cowboy shirts, ten year olds with mohawks, aging punk rockers in faded Descendents and Supersuckers t-shirts, curvy rockabilly chicks with bright red lipstick and poodle skirts and dudes in suits, in total defiance of the 90+ degree temperatures.

As night fell, The Reverend Horton Heat took the stage.  Jimbo Wallace readied his upright bass, newest and best Rev Ho drummer RJ Contreras took his position behind the kit and Jim Heath, The Reverend himself, walked to the mic, strapping on his orange signature Gretsch guitar with a big shit eating grin on his face.  He knew what was coming and once they began playing, so did we.  It would be one of the best live performances I had ever seen.  Opening with the instrumental “Bullet” (the band almost always opens a show with an instrumental), the band blew through one hot number after another: “400 Bucks,”  “Big Red Rocket of Love,” “It’s Martini Time,” the crowd favorites “Five O Ford” and “Psychobilly Freakout”, Chuck Berry’s “Havana Moon” with guest vocalist Big Sandy of Big Sandy & The Fly-Rite Trio, (one of four songs performed with Sandy) “Baddest of the Bad,” from my personally favorite album Liquor in the Front, and many others.

They even proved their metal chops with their amazing take on the Motorhead classic “Ace of Spades.”

One look at the audience around me revealed people dancing, others hoisting beers while still others just stood and stared at the stage, either high, transfixed by the blistering set or both.

It was a two hours plus clinic on how a performance should be done, that a band with a damn would never “phone in” a show, whether they had been in a band for five minutes or 30 years; it was my friends, a night of psychobilly near perfection.

I’ve often thought that Jim Heath is the best guitarist I’ve ever seen live.  On this night, he proved it.

 

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever / Turvy Organ / Serpentfoot 4/28/18, Denver

BY TIM HINELY

A few friends had bailed but I  wasn’t about to miss the Denver debut (Larimer Lounge) of Australia’s Rolling Blackout CF (at least I don’t think they’d played here before).

Had to endure a few openers but the first one, Serpentfoot, wasn’t hard to endure. A trio from Fort Collins who had a fierce yet fun sound. Taking at least a few cues from Thee Oh Sees they hammered out a good 30 mintues of gritty, psychedelic rock that wouldn’t have been for the faint of heart had the main vocalist/guitarist guy not belched into the mic a few times and offered a few cheery greetings to the crowd. They didn’t take themselves to seriously, but a handful of the songs were seriously good. Definitely worth your time.

Up next was Denver’s own Turvy Organ and I couldn’t get a handle on this bunch. Their quirky indie rock I know that they didn’t do much for me and that’s about all I can muster in this review.

Rolling Blackouts C.F. came out amid a mini light show and the 5-piece (3 guitarists: Fran Keaney, Tom Russo and Joe White, all of whom sing and the rhythm section of (Joe Russo on bass and Marcel Tussie on drums) and they wasted no time, busting right into a couple of hits off of their handful of EPs (released here in Sub Pop) and their forthcoming album (which, judging by the songs played tonight, is gonna be a doozy). They specialize in fast, strummy pop tunes with slithering guitar leads all over the place (think The Feelies raised on Vegemite instead of Land O’ Lakes and you’re in the ballpark). Each guitarist sings which gives a real vibrancy and depth to ther songs while the rhythm section hung in there in near-perfect cadence.

We heard a clutch of songs off EPs Talk Tight and The French Press including the title track of the latter and “Clean Slate” off the former plus other cuts like “Julie’s Place,” “Fountain of Good Fortune” and “Sick Bug” and had the packed house at the Larimer eating out of their hands. We heard a few new ones too, off the bands forthcoming LP, Hope Downs, including “An Air-Conditioned Man” and “Mainland” which both sounded ace.

The frenetic energy of these songs couldn’t be denied, the band was locked in and plenty of mouths were agape. Denver certainly gave them a much-deserved warm welcome.

It seems like the future is bright and endless for these 5 gents. With songs this good they can just keep going. I’m going along for this ride.

 

 

 

 

Nelly / Bone Thugs- N- Harmony / Juvenile 4/27/18, Jackson TN

Dates: April 27, 2018

Location: The Ballpark, Jackson, TN

Hip-hop show hits a home run at The Ballpark.

PHOTOS/TEXT BY: MARK JACKSON

Jackson, Tn. was ready to “Back That Thing Up” and shake their tail feathers all night long! How can you not have a great night when you have three great old school rap acts on one stage which just happens to be an open air baseball stadium? The night started off with the hot boy himself Juvenile. Juve got the crowd jumping and dancing with hits such as “Back That Thing Up” and “Slow Motion”. (Juvenile pictured below.)

 

Next up was the old school rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, I have had the honor of seeing and photographing Bones a couple of times in the past and they never disappoint! Bone Thugs-N- Harmony have had hits such as “Crossroad”, “1st of tha Month”, and “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”. They continue to add new fans, many who weren’t even born when these hits were released, and why shouldn’t they with their great beats and fast raps. Before leaving the stage to make way for Nelly, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony paid tribute to such greats as Snoop Dog, Easy-E, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls with some smash up songs. (Bone Thugs pictured below)

 

By the time Nelly took the stage the crowd was at a frenzy and ready to sing along while dancing nonstop and Nelly delivered big time! I had forgotten just how many great songs that he had and he sang them all from “Air Force Ones”, “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” ” Batter Up”, “Pimp Juice”, “Country Grammer”,  “E.I.”, and of course ‘Hot in Herre”. Fun Fact about Nelly that I didn’t know until tonight is that Nelly used to wear a band aid on his face when he preformed. I didn’t know it was for his brother who was locked up and couldn’t be with him. Nelly now doesn’t have to wear it because his brother is on stage right there beside him. Before the night wrapped up Nelly also announced that he is working on new album called All Work No Play.

 

DISTAFF VERSE CHORUS DISTAFF VERSE: Speedy Ortiz Live

Live at The Root Cellar one fine May evening, 5/16/18, indie rock and hip-hop/punk — courtesy opening act Nnamdi Ogbonnaya—ruled, okay!

BY JENNIFER KELLY

An odd pairing, the hyper-verbal, slant-riffed, feminist indie pop of Speedy Ortiz and the complicated hip hop/punk/math rock adventures of Chicagoan Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, but that’s what’s on tap at the Root Cellar on a mid-May evening in bucolic Greenfield, Massachusetts, and we’re lucky to have it.

I arrive with Ogbonnaya already mid-set, bouncing antically through the first few rows of the audience with a mic cord trailing. Ogbonnaya made a big splash last year with his full-length Drool, a slinky, slippery, verbally dexterous set of songs anchored around the performer’s voice, but lavished with all manner of instruments and samples. It seems to have been a rule, somehow, that all writers, no matter how much they liked the record, had to include the word “weird” in the lede, so let’s just get it out there, Ogbonnaya has carved out a very eccentric niche.

 

Sadie Dupuis explains later on that Drool was one of her favorite albums last year, but that Ogbonnaya set is very different — equally wonderful, but its own thing— and indeed, for much of the set, what Ogbonnaya and his band are doing is more like math-y punk rock than hip hop. It is complicated and frenetic, anchored by a good drummer and bass player and with one guitar and sometimes two (Ogbonnaya plays guitar sometimes), very much in the rock idiom. Because of the acoustics, it’s hard to hear the lyrics, and so, hard to pinpoint which songs he played, but the set gains momentum as it goes and the last three songs are awesome.

Then it’s on to Speedy Ortiz, whose Twerp Verse, released in late April, is a sharper, sweeter, more pop-friendly iteration of the band’s off-kilter art. It’s a home field, more or less, for Sadie Dupuis, who earned an MFA in poetry at nearby U. Mass Amherst and lived for a while in Northampton. As always she channels the vibe of liberal arts prof crossed with the smartest tweener you ever met, long pigtails trailing, short shorts and pink and aqua tinted guitars at the ready. Her band includes bassist Darl Fem, her long-time drummer Mike Falcone and new guitarist Andy Monholt (Devin McKnight has gone on to form Maneka).

The set begins as Twerp Verse does with the churning, buzzing bass of “Buck Me Off,” that’s tall, striking Fem, who midway through the cut joins Dupuis in exultant full-body hops, straight up and down. It’s as good an introduction as any to Speedy Ortiz’s latest album, with its meandering verse and big pop pay-off, the whole thing knocked silly and sideways by the way that Falcone whales on the drums. Dupuis nimbly injects feminist discourse and cultural references into her effervescent songs, skewering digital dating mores in “Buck Me Off” and giving Sheryl Sanders the side-eye in “Lean in When I Suffer.”  Yet though politically pointed, the songs are anything but didactic. In the big single “Lucky 88,” Dupuis trades vocals with Fem, her acerbic asides punctuated with the bassist’s high girlish counterpoints.

The set borrows heavily from the latest album, but takes a detour towards the past with “The Graduates” from 2015’s Foil Deer and “Plough” from her long-player debut Major Arcana. This latter song she wrote while living nearby in Northampton, she explains, though it was mostly about drinking at the Boston pub, The Plough and Stars.

 

The rest of the show mixes old and new, the simmering vulnerability of “No Below,” the stretchy tempo’d snap and pop of “I’m Blessed,” the blaring punk rock fuzz of early single “Taylor Swift” and the off-balance tunefulness of Twerp Verse’s “You Hate the Title.”  Heard side by side, the old songs sound leaner, tougher, less ingratiating than the new material; the new songs are giddier and more euphoric. And yet, even at their fizziest, Speedy Ortiz’s songs carry a sting. They’re smart, articulate and absolutely onto male/female foolishness, even as they bounce and entice.

 

 

Moon Taxi 5/16/18, Port Chester, NY

Dates: May 16, 2018

Location: Capitol Theater, Port Chester, NY

Jammin’ at the always-dependable (and legendary) Capitol Theater, natch.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY GREG KELLY

Never having seen Moon Taxi, I was looking forward to a good blend of music from some talented musicians, who were touring for their latest release, Let the Record Play—and the crowd was eager to hear the new material. The band, clearly, were just as happy to be playing for their fans at the legendary Capitol Theater. A really nice blend of alt-rock, a touch of reggae, and a little jam band. I really felt that the band has a bright outlook on things, and it was clearly heard and seen in their performance. A great highlight of the night was when 15 year old Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, an amazingly gifted—and young—guitar player joined the band for a cover of “All Along  the Watchtower.” (Look out for Taz in the future.) Moon Taxi played an inspiring set, and I see this band branching out to reach a potentially much bigger fan base in the future.

Parkway Drive 4/29/18, Memphis

Dates: April 29, 2018

Location: New Daisy Theatre, Memphis

Live at the New Daisy Theatre for a crowd ready and willing for a night of metal.

PHOTO AND TEXT BY: MARK JACKSON

Parkway Drive is out touring for their new album Reverence and played to a packed house at New Daisy Theatre on Sunday night. Formed in Australia in 2003 Parkway Drive had completed and released their first album in 2005 called Killing with a Smile. Parkway Drive is no stranger to touring and has played many big-name Festivals, such as Danny Wimmer Presents festivals Rock on the Range and Louder than life which was my first experience with the powerful voice of Winston McCall. Winston commands the crowd’s attention and pulls them in deeper with every song. From great vocals to piecing screams, tight hard riffs, and pounding drums Parkway Drive is a Metalcore band at its roots, but has just enough rock to win and keep the not so hard rock fans coming back for more.

The crowd at the New Daisy was ready and willing for a night of metal music. It didn’t take long for the seas to part and the mosh pit to be in full effect! One after another crowd surfers made their way to the front like a blow up wavy arm car lot advertisement man. The show had to be stopped twice due to injuries, the first being a security guard who twisted his back trying to catch a crowd surfer. The show was stopped for about 10 minutes while paramedics tended to the guard and waited for an ambulance. Winston came down to the pit and checked on the injured Security Guard, who was later released from the hospital with no serious injuries. The second time the show was stopped was for a girl who hit her head on the front barricade while crowd surfing, this was during the encore. When Winston noticed the injured girl he stopped the show again and announced that this was the end of the show. Safety Tip Kids: Crowd Surfing Can Be And Is Dangerous!!! The band wasn’t upset, it was just near the end of the show and wanted the staff and medical to be able to tend the girl.  Look for Parkway Drive out on tour now starting with a spot on the Carolina Rebellion lineup.