Category Archives: live review

Car Seat Headrest + Naked Giants 7/28/18 Englewood, CO

Dates: July 28, 2018

Location: Gothic Theatre, Englewood, CO

Live at the Gothic Theatre and nearly ready to take over the world.  

BY TIM HINELY

I had missed Car Seat Headrest the two previous times they came to town—at least the times I was aware of—and did not want to miss him this time. Assured myself I’d be there and I made it; an Uber driver refused me so I threatened my 86 year old neighbor into driving me down.

Opener Naked Giants are a trio from Seattle who are a lot of fun and also act as part of Car Seat Headrest’s (aka Will Toledo) backing band. These guys had a ton of energy and could play the hell out of their instruments; as one point my pal turned to me and said that their last song “sounded like it combined three different Pixies songs.” The guitarist/vocalist looks like he could’ve been a member of the Surf Punks, while the drummer was completely dialed in, and the bassist/vocalist was the chatty one, welcoming the crowd, calling a few knuckleheads out, and generally having a good time and making sure we were fully entertained. We were. They played a handful of songs off their latest LP, Sluff (New West Records), including the title track and “TV” among others. Catch ‘em next time they’re in town.

Will Toledo and company hit the stage at 10:15 PM and there were seven folks on stage, Count ‘em, 7. In addition to the three Naked Giants, he had another guitar player, a keyboardist, and a second drummer; Toledo just handled vocals. With all of the positive press these past few years, Toledo’s confidence has likely grown by leaps and bounds from when he first appeared on the scene. On stage, from his moves, he comes across as part Nick Cave and part long-distance runner

They played a good mix of tunes off their records, including concert opener “Cosmic Hero” right into “Cute Thing” right into “War is Coming (if you want it).” A little later in the set the tossed out a medley of “Sober to Death”/”Powderfinger”/”Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing” (I heard the “Powderfinger” part and went a little nuts… love that Neil Young song).

They ended the set with the jittery, soaring “Nervous Young-Inhumans’” and then came out for one encore, playing the over-10-minutes-long, epic “Beach Life-in-Death” (off 2011’s Twin Fantasy) and called it a night.

The crowd loves this band. The fan base is dedicated, and with good reason: The songs are strong, and Toledo is basically one of them. I like ‘em a lot more than I thought I would, and really my only beef at all was the semi-obnoxious strobe light show. Retrain the lighting guy, hire Toledo a personal trainer to stretch (pretty soon he’ll have the Bob Pollard high kicks down pat), and this band will be ready to take over the world.

 

 

 

 

2018 Montreal International Jazz Festival 6/28/18-7/7/18

Dates: June 28 - July 7, 2018

Location: Montreal, Canada

Hot Fun in the Summertime: The Montreal Jazz Festival Burns Away the Bluster

BY ALISA CHERRY

As the namesake city of the internationally renowned jazz festival it’s hosted for the past 39 years, Montreal is a cool, cool city. However this year it was hot, very hot in fact. And that has nothing to do with the hot acts… or, for the matter, the cool performances either. With temperatures approaching the mid-90s, and the stifling conditions that made even brief walks between venues a daunting challenge in itself, this year’s Montreal Jazz Festival which took place June 28 to July 7 was not without some tedium due to its temperatures. (Go HERE for our  2017 coverage.)

Nevertheless, those who attended either the free outdoor performances, the dozens of ticketed events or a bit of both, mostly agreed it was worth dealing with the heat at least for the sake of witnessing some amazing music. And indeed, with choices between dozens of world class artists, both known and occasionally obscure, the 2018 Montreal Jazz Festival proved yet again how all-inclusive it is when it comes to its musical offerings. As anyone who has attended the fest over the course of the past several years will attest — its handle aside — The Montreal Jazz Festival isn’t just about jazz. In years past, such rock luminaries as Brian Wilson, King Crimson and Bob Dylan have graced its stages, either as featured artists or associated performers. This year, such popular luminaries as Ry Cooder, Jann Arden, Seal, Boz Scaggs, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull took to its stages.

It may be sweltering outside, but the Montreal Jazz Festival — or as it’s referred to so eloquently in French, the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal — is cool. Very cool indeed.

Montreal is indeed a model city for a festival so sprawling it takes up several city blocks just to contain it. Fortunately, the heat notwithstanding, all the venues are easily accessible. The venues come in all varieties, from a multitude of clubs to the expansive Place des Arts, home to several ample staged stages within its massive confines. Then of course, there are the outside locales spread along the main drag, Rue St. Catherine, all of which invite the choice of a concerted devotee.

Naturally, those who consider themselves diehard jazz aficionados had plenty to cheer about. Herbie Hancock, Carla Bley, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Dave Holland, and Terrence Blanchard were among the more iconic names that headlined the many stages and featured concerts. Those weaned on a rock or pop pedigree had opportunity to soak up the blues, bluster and boogie of George Thorogood or marvel at the performance by Number 9, a group comprised of young musicians who faithfully reproduced every note and nuance of the Beatles famed “White Album.” A spectator whose tastes weren’t necessary confined to any particular parameter could marvel at the genre-bending abilities of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the classic and contemporary musical fusion of Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, or simply find themselves dazzled by the ageless Dee Dee Bridgewater and the sultry sounds of Beth Hart.

Personally, we found ourselves immediately impressed on the first night by the combined talents of John Medeski and Marc Ribot. It was jazzy indeed. Or was it? The sheer sweep and intensity of the music’s remarkable dynamics had us completely held in sway.

That perhaps is the greatest gift the Montreal Jazz Festival provides for all, an opportunity to venture into unknown realms, jump between genres and learn to understand and appreciate sounds which may not be immediately familiar. Those who normally find adventurous sounds of this sort alien or intimidating in any way are given a chance to explore on their own without judgement or disdain. It’s a vast musical market boasting a wide array of wares, all of which make Festival International De Jazz De Montreal one of the coolest festivals around.

Even when it’s just too damn hot.

 

LAKE STREET DIVE 7/12/18, Raleigh NC

Dates: July 12, 2018

Location: NC Museum of Art, Raleigh NC

Sonic art one beautiful Tar Heel eve at the North Carolina Museum of Art. (Scroll down for more images.)

TEXT & PHOTOS BY TODD GUNSHER

On a clear Carolina night, the amphitheater at the NC Museum of Art was filled with the sophisticated pop sounds of Lake Street Dive. On tour supporting their latest record, Free Yourself Up, this was their third sell out of this venue, causing lead singer Rachael Price to comment that it is starting to feel like home.

Opening with the first cut from the new album, “Baby, Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts,” the 21 song set included all the tracks from the new record interspersed with songs from their previous two albums, closing with a longtime fan favorite, the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back.”

Price, Mike “McDuck” Olsen, Bridget Kearney and Mike Calabrese, always had a full sound but the addition of Akie Bermiss on keys adds just enough extra to help fill out the live sound. He even took a lead vocal singing Shania Twain’s “Still The One” in a style suited to a dark jazz club. Throughout the night the vocals and playing were tight and on point, with Kearney’s bass playing delivering numerous amazing moments. But to me, what really makes Lake Street Dive stand out in a world of beats, jam-bands, and singer/songwriters is their finely crafted songs. Even songs that at first sound simple still contain interesting chords, changes, and rhythms that harken back to The Beatles and Brill Building, in approach, if not actual sound. That’s what keeps me coming back whenever they come to town.

Opening the show was Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear (above), a mother/son duo with a soulful, bluesy sound. They grabbed the audience’s attention from the first song and I’m sure gained a lot of new fans.

Follow master shutterbug, journalist, and vinyl enthusiast Todd Gunsher at his Instagram page.

 

 

 

Sherry Ryan / Darren “Boobie” Browne 5/25/18, Toronto

Dates: May 25, 2018

Location: The Burdock, Toronto ON

Live at The Burdock, and a night of Canadian musical community.

TEXT/PHOTOS BY ERIC THOM

I have family who hails from Halifax, so I know a thing or two about the close-knit sense of community inherent to those who live on our proud East Coast. However, there’s something even closer to be found amongst the people who call Newfoundland their home. It’s an intensified existence in which the land and the people are one, bound together in celebration of the sweet blend of harsh conditions and jaw-dropping beauty that is everyday life. Sherry Ryan hails from Middle Cove, just north of St. John’s – and it shows on so many levels in her art form.

Born of the traditional Céilidh (from the Scottish Gaelic for ‘kitchen party’) – a coming together of friends, family and often members of the immediate community – the Nerwfoundlanders’ world is grounded in music, good food and a coming together for a group hug. This was richly evident in this show – as Sherry’s sister, Jackie, commandeered a collection of cousins, friends and ex-pats to become a part of this special ‘homecoming’ show. The intimate setting of The Burdock’s music room was ideal for the emotion-fueled evening as Newfoundlanders and otherwise savored the work of this talented duo. Darren “Boobie” Browne, another noted Newfoundland export, provided drop-dead accompaniment on mandolin, supplying deft vocal harmonies to complement each of Sherry’s well-placed notes – creating a surprisingly full band sound in combination with Sherry’s acoustic guitar work, all the more impactful in the rec-room-cozy space. Never was an audience more captured than this.

 

***

Touring to support her fourth release, Wreckhouse, Sherry has long been a special breed of singer-songwriter, effortlessly painting mood-drenched pictures with relatively straight-forward lyrics that benefit from equal parts country and that certain hint of forlorn sadness that comes with the territory. What’s most distinctive is her voice which, as it starts to sink its hooks, has an uncanny resemblance to Anne Murray’s in its clear, confident alto (with an implied debt to Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline). Yet, her material has nothing to do with the pop-country backdrop of “Snowbird” – offering, instead, strong local imagery, the heartache of torn relationships, folklore – real and imagined and the laments inherent in the passing of time. The album’s title– “Wreckhouse” – refers to a true tale of the ill-fated Newfoundland railway (1882-1997) – and is the name given to car-tipping wind conditions that relied on a local trapper’s weather call to “Stop The Trains” (one of the album’s crowning jewels and co-written with her late Dad), thereby protecting them from nature’s wrath. Having more in common with John Prine than Anne Murray, this homegrown masterpiece represents the essence of Ryan’s talents. Like Prine, she reels you in with her heartfelt stories, a hint of humour and the vocal power to command attention to her every word. The new album, however, is a strong release based on it being a potent ‘band’ record – each original composition basking in the added firepower of pedal steel, guitar, piano, swirls of B3 and background vocals. The acid test for any good song is, however, what was witnessed on this warm, sun-drenched evening – two people, two instruments, strong vocals embellished with remarkably high-register harmonies. The powerful opener (and single) “Natural Law” mined the same country edge of the recorded version, despite the lack of baritone guitar and pedal steel. Browne’s deft skills with electric mandolin created sounds the likes of which I’ve never thought the mandolin was capable of, his vocal harmony adding considerable depth and personality to Ryan’s already powerful lead vocal. The next song, “Ferry Won’t Wait” is an ode to a missed ferry, causing a cancelled concert on Fogo Island in the land that weather rules. The Prine-like “Long-Awaited Question” was born from a breakdown at the Dollar Store that ended with a Tarot Card reading and the end of a relationship. “Cool and Clear”, following the order of the release, relies on piano on the album as yet another breakup song (this time, a friend’s) benefits from its simple, delicate delivery onstage. Again, the heartfelt yet humorous real-life “Stop The Trains” is a loving celebration of the way things were, worsened by the intervention of ‘modern-day improvements’ – to its hilarious conclusion. Jumping ahead to “On Paper”, these two voices created an hypnotic effect of back-and-forth with precious little accompaniment required, yet both guitar and mandolin turning in incredible, colorful textures.

The comparably upbeat “Ain’t Gonna Worry” moved into blues territory, buoyed by quality finger-picking that erupted, with Sherry’s coaching, into a legitimate audience singalong. The following song, “10 Minutes”, documents the distance across town in St. John’s at a torqued-up speed. One of the night’s most stunning songs was the standout “After Whiskey Before Breakfast”, providing Ryan with her Emmylou moment. Slowed down for maximum effect and minus its full serving of recorded pedal steel, this was a downer for the ages (meant in a good way). Much as the full band treatment cues the instant party, it’s this two-player presentation that demonstrates Ryan’s vocal power in its strongest light. Calling up two relatives to join her in a rendition of ”Something Else” (from 2008’s Wonderful Cures), its powerful chorus lit up the room, Ryan’s vocal still able to cut through the full force gale of voices. The natural fit of Ryan’s vocals to Browne’s harmonies was realized in the Carter Family’s “Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow Tree”, underlining Ryan’s understated guitar strengths and Browne’s prowess on mandolin. A compulsory, near-deafening call for an encore yielded a P.E.I. song written by one Gene MacLellan, as she kicked into “Snowbird”, no less – sounding as pure and natural as the Maritimer who made the song so indelible.

These themes of home, hearth and heartbreak suggest a rich upbringing in the sounds of the Carter Family but the fact that she’s a loyal Newfoundlander goes a long way to defining who she really is. She may not be a household name but she’s certainly no diamond in the rough at this point. She’s got a firm grasp of where she wants to go and all the skills to get there.

As for Browne, an integral component of a number of Newfoundland bands (The Burning Hell, The Kubasonics) and a continual, in-demand sideman, his self-released Birth of the Chickenpick (Boobie Browne & The Onions] is well worth hunting down.

Website: http://sherryryan.com/

Videos:

Natural Law

I Made it On My Own

Long Awaited Question

 

 

 

Dadalon CD Release (w/video) 7/6/18, NYC

Dates: July 6, 2018

Location: Rockwood Music Hall, New York City

Live at the Rockwood Music Hall – view the video of the show, below.

Text & video by Jonathan Levitt

Jazz duo Dadalon took to the stage on July 6th to celebrate the release of their debut album, which is available now on iTunes and Spotify. The show was an emotionally charged Tour-de-Force. The band ended up playing the entire album for the near-capacity audience. As is always the case for me when I see Dadalon, I expect to be taken on an emotional journey and this time was no different. The audience was transfixed by every note and this even goes for the small assembly of frat-bro, baseball cap wearing dudes who put down their Rolling Rocks and stood there mesmerized by what they were hearing. Much of this has to do with the fact that these guys are best friends and the respect and comfort they have for one another translates really well musically.

If I could distill the essence of Dadalon’s music for someone who’s never heard it, I’d say it’s at times very heart on sleeve direct and the unimpeded emotional charge one gets from it is what will draw you in at first. If you spend more time listening to it though, you will realize, that under the hood, are swimming some very complex emotions. That’s one of the reasons I find listening to their music to be so rewarding. So check out their new album and have a look at the concert below. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

THAT’S ‘ROO FOR YOU: The Bonnaroo 2018 Festival

The annual blowout happened June 7 through 10 this year, and it was indeed a blowout. (Pictured above: Durand Jones & the Indications.)

TEXT AND PICTURES BY: MARK JACKSON (#markjacksonphotography1)

 Bonnaroo first started way back in 2002 with a heavy influence in jam bands, Positivity, and happiness, but has branched out in many wonderful directions. Over the years the festival has stayed true with their core selection of genres but has added more and more mainstream artist. Bonnaroo has also worked to separate itself from the many same old same old music festivals by giving the attendees a unique experience inside the festival grounds and in the campgrounds. Offering pop up mini-concerts and karaoke sets on small stages in the campground areas, shaded hangout areas, food vendors throughout the campgrounds, and the addition to a lot of “real bathrooms” this festival does indeed set itself apart from most festivals. With attendance at around 80,000 this year, I would say it’s safe to say they are giving the people what they want. Bonnaroo has also had its share of house and techno artist over the past several years, but last year they made a huge leap into the EDM scene by turning “The Other Tent” into a full stage that rivals the main stage. The Other Stage is solely dedicated to EDM music and EDM artist and with the crowds that flocked to the stage all weekend last year and again this year, I would say it’s definitely here to stay!

New for this year was the Grand Ole Opry, a two-hour country show similar to the Super Jam format in that they had many artists playing together. The official announcer of the Grand Ole Opry Mr. Bill Cody was at the helm and introduced Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show, Bobby Bare, Del McCoury Band, and Riders In The Sky, as well as Joshua Hedley, LANCO, Nikki Lane, and Maggie Rose.

   The Super Jam was a tribute to late great Tom Petty this year and it too had an all-star cast to pay tribute to Mr. Petty who passed away October 2nd of 2017. The tribute included such names as Cheryl Crow, Hayley Williams from Paramore, Matt Shultz from Cage The Elephant, Sameer Gadhia from Young The Giant, Langhorne Slim, Photographer and musician Danny Clinch, Vanessa Carlton, and more. This year’s Super Jam was a heartfelt tribute that showcased many songs of the career of Tom, and I think he was looking down on us with that wonderful smile that he had in approval.

    Bonnaroo is also known as a festival for finding the next big names in music. Artists that you may not have heard of yet will often play here and six months later be all over the radio and social media. I’ve seen this happen over the years with acts such as Twenty One Pilots, Highly Suspect, Halsey, and last years breakout artist who once again played this year on a bigger stage, Dua Lipa. The list goes on and on for breakout artist who first gains major traction at the Roo. Some of the up and coming artist at Bonnaroo this year included Lewis Capaldi, Lizzie, Topaz Jones, Flor, Jade Bird, and my favorite new find this year Sir Sly. Miller Lite held a contest this year called “The Road To Roo”, This contest allowed bands to compete for a chance to play and be featured on the New Music On Tap Lounge Brewed By Miller Lite Stage. The winning band was The Foxies who have roots in Phoenix but now reside in Nashville, TN. Fronted by Julia Lauren Bullock the band has started making a name for themselves in a town where country music rules. The Foxies are bringing an Indie pop sound infused with an 80’s glam pop that needs to be seen live.

   Headliners for this year’s Bonnaroo were Eminem, The Killers, Muse, Future, and Bassnectar.  There were many great bands such as Paramore, T-Pain, Midland, Khalid, Moon Taxi, who topped the bill as well, but there is so much more than music to experience at Bonnaroo that must be experienced for yourself. The motto “Radiate Positivity” is much more than a slogan on the farm and from the moment you are here you can feel it in the air and in the people. This place is much more than a music festival and arts festival. It is a utopia of sorts that carries with it long days, long nights and extreme Tennessee summer heat, but you won’t care about any of those things while you are living in the moment of this magical place. Unfortunately, we must live in the real world until next June 13th thru the 16th when we can once again grace the farm. Until then I would like to give a huge thanks to the first class Big Hassle Media staff and to Live Nation for once again allowing me to cover this fantastic music festival.

Arizona

Bobby Bare

CYN

Dua Lipa

Elohim

Eminem

Flor

Future

Hayley Williams (Paramore) – Tom Petty Tribute

Khalid

Langhorne Slim/Danny Clinch S

Lewis Capaldi

Lizzie

Maggie Rose (Grand Ole Opry)

Manchester Orchestra

Matt Shulz/Cage the Elephant

Mavis Staples

Midland

Moon Taxi

Old Crow Medicine Show

 

Paramore

Playboi Carti

Rag n Bone Man

Sameer Gadhia (Young the Giant)

Sheryl Crow

Sir Sly

The Foxies

T-Pain

The Other

Vanessa Carlton

 

   

 

 

Cut Worms 5/29/18, Denver

Dates: May 29, 2018

Location: Globe Hall, Denver CO

Live at Globe Hall!

TIM HINELY

I’ll have to admit I didn’t know jack about Cut Worms until la week before the gig, but I listened and liked what I’d heard. On this tour they were opening for King Tuff (who I didn’t feel like staying for but the gig was sold out on this Tuesday night).

Also, I swear one of these nights I’m gonna show up to Globe Hall early and get some of their BBQ that many folks have raved about. I usually show up late, catch the gig and leave, but next gig there I’ll come back with a full food report. Promise.

Cut Worms (admittedly not the best band name ever, but apparently from a William Blake poem) was already on stage when I sauntered in at 8:55 PM (they went on at 8:45 PM). Main guy Max Clarke (a NYC guy via Chicago) had a full band including bass/drums and a keyboard player. You’ll read lots of reviews comparing him to the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly, and those aren’t totally wrong, but it’s even more whimsical than that, with dashes of folk and country, too.

From his recently released debut full-length, Hollow Ground (on the Jagjaguwar label) he played cuts like “How It Can Be,” “Coward’s Confidence,” “Cash For Gold,” and “Till Tomorrow Goes Away.” Also, from the Alien Sunset EP (from 2017, also on Jagjaguwar) they played “Song of the Highest Tower” and ended the (short) set with a cut from that EP, “Don’t Want to Say Good-bye.”

I don’t think there’s any tongue-in-cheek irony with this guy, I think Clarke genuinely is a throwback to a different era where you threw your coat over puddles for women and a pack of cigarettes were in the back pocket, not a cell phone. Come on people, get with the progam, Cut Worms already have!

 

 

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…