Category Archives: live review

The Ocean Blue 11/25/19, Denver

Dates: November 25, 2019

Location: Soiled Dove Underground, Denver CO

Live at the Soiled Dove Underground.

TEXT BY TIM HINELY / PHOTOS BY  JD BAMFORD

This was certainly a pleasant surprise right before Christmas.  Dream pop band The Ocean Blue (originally from Hershey, PA but members now scattered around the US) hadn’t played Denver in years…ok, decades.

Singer/vocalist David Schelzel wondered aloud to the crowd just when it was and someone shouted out that it was the Bluebird in 1996 and then Schelzel wistfully remembered (and mentioned that  they had played Boulder a few years before that).

Though from the northeast the band members were real anglophiles, with influences coming from across the pond from bands like The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, and New Order among others.

I wondered what size crowd the band would draw and the fact that it was sold out with a real buzz going told me the exact size. Fans in Denver were hungry to see the band and they did not disappoint.

The band is original members Schelzel and bassist Bobby Mitten (formed in the mid 80’s while the band members were still in high school) along with long timers Oed Ronne (on guitar and keyboards, in the band since 1993)  and drummer Peter Anderson (in the band since 2000) so these four are going on two decades together.

Also the band has a new record out released earlier this year, Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves (on Mpls collective label Korda) and they opened with a few songs from said record including interlude “F Major  7” plus “All the Way Blue,” “It Takes So Long,’ the jangly, near-perfect “Paraguay My Love” and the title track to name a few.

Fans who wanted to hear some older gems were not disappointed as the band busted out “Ticket to Wyoming” (sung by Ronne) from the Waterworks EP plus “Mercury’ and “Cerulean” (both from the album Cerulean) and they tossed in a cover of The Smiths’ classic “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.”

 

The band left the stage but the crowd wasn’t going to leave the venue with tout a few encores so they band came out and played “ Frozen” from the new album, fan favorite “Between Something And Nothing (from their 1989 debut) and a spirited cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and called it a night.

Schelzel gave a warm, heartfelt thank you to the crowd and promised they’d be back. We’ll be here, waiting.

 

 

Nots 11/19/19, Denver

Dates: November 11, 2019

Location: Lost Lake Lounge, Denver CO

Lovely and live at the Lost Lake Lounge.

TEXT BY TIM HINELY/ PHOTOS BY JD BAMFORD

I was lucky enough to catchy this Memphis trio a few months ago on their home turf at Gonerfest (and I also saw their Denver gig a few years back at the Oriental Theatre…. that was as a four piece).

The band is still founding members Natalie Hoffmann on guitar/vocals and keyboards and Charlotte Watson on drums. At some point bassist Madison Farmer left and was replaced by Meredith Lones.

The loss of a member and with Hoffmann now handling guitar and keys doesn’t seem to have hindered the band at all, in fact they might even be better.

They describe what they do a “weird punk” and who am I to argue. The band spout aggressive bursts of guitar with Hoffmann shout-singing while that wacked keyboard is all over the place. The rhythm section is more than ably holding down the fort (ok, Watson kicks ass).

They released their third album (entitled 3, duh) a few months back so most of the set was focused on that record blasting out cuts like “Low,” “Woman Alone,” “Half Painted House” and “Surveillance Veil” to name but a few. The band played maybe 30-35 minutes and no encores (just the way I like it). The crowd completely dug it as well.

The band must live by the credo of:  Get in, knock their socks off and get out. That’s what they did.

Goodnight.

 

 

Levitation Festival 11/7-10/19, Austin

Dates: November 7-10, 2019

Location: Various Venues, Austin TX

 

The quintessential Lone Star State gathering of the tribes, natch, at multiple venues over the course of  November 7 thru 10. (Note: If you don’t recognize any given artist, hover mouse over a photo in order to read which band you are seeing.)

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON

We know that Austin, Texas, is the music mecca, especially when it comes to festivals.   Levitation takes it up a notch by bringing in the best in Underground music and artists from around the known universe.   For four nights every year it goes into a hyper-space-warp frenzy bringing some of the best and brightest happening Psych, Metal, and Dream Pop music under one tent, or several clubs anyway.  It’s like a slice of SXSW but no filler, not that much walking, and you can actually get into venues.

Levitation happens in several venues with Stubb’s (which doubles as a fab BBQ joint) as the focal point featuring the closest things you get to headliners at this 4-day party.  Blurt Contributor John Boydston tried to cover as much ground as possible getting to all the acts, but realized early on it was a 4-person job, so this is what he got, some of the best, but of course, by no means all of it.

***

Thursday at Stubb’s the lineup was Vagabon, Devendra Banhart, and ready for her David Lynch Twin-Peaks soundtrack closeup, Angel Olsen.  All performers and crowd were braving a chilly temperature drop but soldiered on and got lost in the electric dreamscapes created by all of the above.  I caught a few bands down the street at Mohawk which was reveling in the glory of Texas metal warriors Creeping Death (Denton) and Power Trip (Dallas) among others. 

 

****

Friday night Stubb’s was alive with the magical psych-rock of Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips.   Not sure if Rev is short for revelry or revelation but both work for me after hearing this power house psych band lay it down.  Then the Flaming Lips killed the crowd with kindness, love, and confetti.  Just wow – and master Lip Wayne Coyne said it all with this blow-up ballon spelling it out for us. 

 

 

 

 

But wait, Friday was just starting after that show – I hauled my wagon of photo gear into other venues and heard one dynamite band after another any one of which you can see in Austin at these venues, but not likely on the same night, same bill.    I caught part of Stonefield’s power set, featuring the 4 psych rock sisters from an area of rural Australia known as Macedon Ranges.  Then over to The Barracuda and for the rest of the night heard in rapid succession Frankie and the Witch Fingers,  Elephant Stone (from Toronto and truly an East meets West rock experience), Death Valley Girls (always fantastic), Crocodiles (new to me but rocked like no band I’ve seen in years – must hear more), and Broncho ended this amazing night doing what they do but better, tighter, and more up than I’ve ever heard ‘em).

****

Saturday started mid-afternoon with Habibi – (NYC) bringing their internationally-inspired surfy 60’s girl pop to The Empire.  Then White Fence from SF.  Led by Tim Presley, a brilliant and underrated writer-singer-guitar picker who I can’t pin down exactly but think Ray Davies meets Piper at The Gates of Dawn.  Or The Kinks if Syd Barret was Dave Davies older bro.   And caught The Allah-Las who are currently touring, and have managed to seriously beef-up their stage sound without changing anything you may already love about this band, which is remarkable.

Not content with this fun, headed to Stubb’s Saturday night see openers and Waco psych kids Holy Wave, Levitation Festival curators and Austin’s own The Black Angels, who for my money have never sounded more up and alive in their not funhouse mirror takes on life.   A really dynamic and electrifying show for this band – and they would have carried the night had John Cale and his band not come out and taken it back.   Not sure what else you can say about Cale and his rock pedigree.  Being a founding member of The Velvet Underground would suffice but his 50-year career since is equally impressive.  Wasn’t expecting this 77-year old rock icon to come out and slay but he and his crack band did just that.   Thanks for having him, and me Levitation.  If you’ve outgrown SXSW and ACL is too crowded, save some dates on the calendar for this one – Fall 2020. 

 

 

Pete Yorn + Wilderado 12/2/19, Atlanta

Dates: December 2, 2019

Location: Variety Playhouse, Atlanta GA

Live at the storied Variety Playhouse, natch.

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON
Pete Yorn is timeless and still making new music, which is a good thing, since what the world needs now is a whole lot more of this singer-songwriter’s empathy, compassion, and sincerity.  Not to mention his unique musical hooks and sound.
Yorn’s been touring most of 2019 in support of his 7th LP, Caretakers.  This tour included solo outings, and last couple of months with a band, wisely grabbing indie-dream pop band Day Wave, and it’s a nice fit. Fantastic show, reminded me why I loved Pete first time I heard him, going back to his breakthrough debut LP musicforthemorningafter in 2001.
Check out the last few tour dates  and all things Pete Yorn here:  http://www.peteyorn.com/
Opening band was Wilderado, rockers who’ve been on the road most of 2019 and their hard work is paying off.   They had a huge mid-day crowd in May at Atlanta’s Shaky Knees, and clearly won over the portion of tonight’s crowd that wasn’t already familiar.
From Tulsa, OK, Wilderado is Max Rainer (guitar/vocals), Justin Kila (drums), Tyler Wimpee (guitar), Colton Dearing (bass).  I can hear their stuff crossing genres, from Americana pop – to indie pop rock – and even modern country pop (but with smart lyrics and no schtick.)  They key word here being pop, which is short for popular so check out their music, schedule, and all things Wilderado here:  http://wilderado.co/
***
Join John on Instagram @johnboydstonphoto – and now on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JohnBoydstonPhotography/.  He takes requests.

 

2019 Goner Fest 9/26-29/19, Memphis

Dates: September 26 - September 29, 2019

Location: Memphis, TN

BY TIM HINELY

Why did it take me so long to get my ass down to Memphis and attend Goner Fest – the 16th annual event?!? I have no idea. The last few years my pal and I went out to Cropped Out in Louisville, KY and since that wasn’t happening this year we decided to do Goner Fest and that, my friends, turned out to be a great decision.

We got lucky with a cool Airbnb in midtown spot right n the middle of all the action (walking distance to one of the venues).

We missed The Limes at the opening ceremony at the gazebo (spittin’ distance from Goner Records who, of course,  are the final folks who put this festival together……we made two trips to Goner to record shop, most excellent shop! Killer selection and friendly, helpful staff).

Thursday night at the Hi-Tone started with between band DJs Anthony Bedard and Mitch Cardwell revving the crowd up. Minneapolis’ Green/Blue, a band made up of folks from top-notch bands like The Soviettes and The Blind Shake, got the party started and their energy jolted me out of my sickness (my scratchy throat had just started…it was to get worse over the weekend).

Madison, WI’s, The Hussy, who have a new record out on Dirtnap, blazed through a set of hi-nrg tunes and were certainly having fun doing it. I met head Hussy Bobby later in the night and he was a righteous chap.

Sweet Knives were up next and this band features Memphis legend Alicija Trout who’s got lots of charisma. Not my favorite band of the festival or anything but did enjoy most of it.

Louisiana’s Trampoline Team very well may have been my favorite band of the festival. A chant/ jitter punk growl that sounded like the same song over and over. A totally d\freaking GREAT song so even if it was the same song I sure didn’t mind. Don’t miss these folks if they blow through your town.

Canada’s early ’70s psych band Simply Saucer (featuring Cleveland legend Craig Bell) bored me… well at least for the first half of the set then really turned it on and the 2nd half of the set and burned.

At 1:00 AM I was still standing upright an thank god ‘cos the King Brothers took the stage and proceeded to ….well, dump a garbage can full of all kinds of muck all over the unsuspecting show goers (or maybe they were suspecting). They growled and grunted their way through set wroth the singer mostly in the crowd standing on hands and shoulders. These guys were insane.

Friday 9/27/19

Of the afternoon bands at Memphis Made Brewery the ones I really enjoyed were New Zealand’s Vincent HL (Crazy Horse meets VU said I), Tucson’s Lenguas Largas (above; a few folks from Resonars) dripped and oozed rock and roll blood. Kelley Sanderson, who used to be in Those Darlin’s (a DAGGER fave) played a nice folksy solo set.

Back at the Hi-Tone on Friday night the DJs were Siltbreeze’s Tom Lax and Feeding Tube Records’ Byron Coley a few guys who know a thing or two about music. Good music.

We missed Mall Walker but caught Richard Papiercuts et Les Inspecteurs and I think I like the recordings a bit more than seeing them on stage. His Scott Walker meets Joy Division sound is certainly unique but again, gimme the records.

Paul Caporino has been doing the M.O.T.O. (Masters of the Obvious) machine for many years with a hundred hit songs and they played my fave “Dick About It.” Lots a energy and hooks and rapid fire tunes.

Good natured Aussie folks Thigh Master delighted the crowd with their wiry n’ wired pop sounds and they were among my faves.

The last time I saw Nots, was when they blew through Denver about 4 or 5 years ago as a quartet but think they’ve been a trio for quite some time and certainly delivered don this night with 30 minutes of pure RAWK.

Headliners on this night was Oblivians (the band featuring Eric from Goner) and hey, having Quintron on keyboards was like getting extra whipped cream on your ice cream. Another one of my favorite sets at Goner as these gents barley had 4 walls and a ceiling left by sets end.

Saturday 9/28/19

Of the afternoon bands on Saturday the ones that converted me were the high energy of Opossums and New Zealand’s two-piece Na Noise (above; featuring one of the gals from Vincent HL) who plunked out a clutch of excellent songs. What can I say, I’m a convert.

Canadian punk band Priors (above) seemed like they came to do two thinks, drink beer and play some great punk rock and succeeded in both (singer was a total character) while the Dixie Dicks gay take on country was hee-larious and loads of fun.

Tucson’s Resonars (above) have been a fave of mine for a long while and they did not disappoint at all. Leader Matt Rendon has too many good songs to count and played many of them on this night while closing out the afternoon gig was Oblivions/Reigning Sound’s Greg Cartwright (below) & the Tip Tops doing a lovely set of gravelly/soulful tunes. Still love his vocals.

Back to the Hi-Tone for Saturday night and the DJs were The Mummies’ Russell Quan and Bazooka Joe (Slovenly Records) and these cats had a bonafide dance party going on!

We only caught the last tune or two by Teardrop City (featuring Laurie Stirrat) but got front and center for Australia’s Parsnip (below) and while I like their new record (out now on Trouble in Mind) the live set was even better. Lots o’ energy, charisma and fun, catchy songs.

Not sure why I expected to not like Giorgio Murderer but really liked their set. Two guys on synths and a drum machine (at least from where I could see in the back of the club).

Memphis faves Hash Redactor drilled holes with guitars all night (the band also featured 2 Nots and one Ex Cult) and it was another one of my fave sets. Do not miss if they fall into your town.

Tommy and the Commies hail from the great white north and brought their mod fun down for a quick but catchy set while the kings of budget rock, The Mummies (below) hit the stage at 1:00am (with a short film beforehand) and played all the hits (including their cover of Devo’s “Uncontrollable Urge”). What a night.

Sunday 9/29/19

Closing ceremonies in the sun was a nice way to end the festival with the Sharde Thomas & the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band who had the crowd raising their hands and shaking their feet.

***

Gonerfest is a top-notch, Grade-A, must-attend annual event. Eric, Zac, and their team put on an excellent festival and the folks who attend really love and appreciate it (translation: no dicks at all, everyone was cool).

I got my ass out there this year, so next year it’s your turn – and I plan on being there as well.

Slayer 11/9/19, Madison Square Garden NYC

Dates: November 9, 2019

Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City

TEXT & PHOTOS BY GREG KELLY

The crowd quickly filled in the 20,789 seated MSG and the night began to take shape.

Opening the show was Phil Anselmo and nd The Illegals. Going through a short set of Pantera songs it was clear that the bands songs are still relevant 30 plus years later. Next was Ministry, a band I saw in  1988(The land of Rape and Honey) and I have never stopped going when they came through town. Al Jourgensen , a great musician , great frontman led the band on a brutal assault on this N.Y.C. crowd. Two highlights of the set was “Supernaut” by Black Sabbath and “ Jesus Built my Hotrod”  Ah, next came Primus An interesting band to put in between all the others. I have seen Les Claypool over 50 times and never get tired of absorbing the psychedelic funk metal. Opening with “Those dam Blue Collar Tweakers” Primus showed they could not only hang with the Slayer crowd they might have picked up a couple new fans! A highpoint of the set was a great cover of the Rush song “ Cygnus X-1” . Then came the main event, SLAYER!! Another band I have seen many times over the years. Touring for “ The Final Campaign” this was sure to be a special one. Before the band started the stage was covered with a curtain with upside down crosses on it. Clearly these guys don’t frequent Sunday mass!

When the curtain dropped the band came out with “Repentless” from the self titled  album. What can I say about these guys except they have never strayed away from where they started musically! A nonstop assault of your senses. The mosh pit never stopped! The Slayer fans are one of a kind and tonight the energy was felt by all. Going through a long set list of songs I was always drawn to “Seasons of The Abyss” ,” South of Heaven” ,”Rain in Blood” and of course there encore “ Angel of Death”. Slayers spot as one of the best heavy metal bands will not go away any time soon!

 

 

Robyn Hitchcock – 11/13/19, Atlanta

Dates: November 13, 2019

Location: Eddie's Attic, Atlanta GA

Not one, but two freakin’ shows of prawndom from the maestro, all at Eddie’s Attic in the dirty South…

PHOTOS/TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON

When Robin Hitchcock says, “Hello Fellow Human Beings,” you kind of know he’s being gracious to at least some of us, but that’s why we love him — he’s happy to share glimpses of his world, which is really our world turned inside-out, upside-down, and mirror-imaged back at us.

Witty, sardonic, charming, and in fine musical form alone with his acoustic guitar (he is an excellent player) and sometimes harmonica, Hitchcock is a natural for the stage. His non-sequitur intros are as entertaining as the songs from his extensive catalogue, and most eras were represented here tonight. He seems to entertain requests if you can get them to him pre-show.

Recent LP Robyn Hitchcock from 2017 on Yep Roc is still getting airtime on my table. Plus, there is a recent 10” with Andy Partridge titled Planet England that Partridge’s Ape House label dropped in September.

Solo tour continues – check out dates:  – https://www.robynhitchcock.com/tour.

Living now in Nashville, he’s also doing a rare band show at The Mercury Lounge,  coming up December 5th.  See ya there.

Shovels & Rope – 10/13/19, Philadelphia

Dates: October 13, 2019

Location: Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA

One of the BLURT braintrust’s fave band live at Philly’s Union Transfer on a sweet – loud – Sunday evening in the fall… (Above photo from the band’s Facebook page.)

BY JOHN B MOORE

For a duo, Shovels & Rope sure as hell manage to make their sound heard. (No shit. – Ed.)

Headlining a series of shows to promote their latest, By Blood, wife/husband duo Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent traded off vocals and turns behind the drum kit and on guitar, reeling through a 20-plus song set with the energy and hunger of a band just starting out. The fact that Shovels & Rope have been around for close to a decade made that feat that much more impressive for the crowd that ate up every moment Hearst and Trent were on stage.

The set kicked off with the title track from their latest LP and include a handful of new tracks like the destined to be show staple for years to come, “C’mon Utah,” a song set in future America about a horse helping unite a father with his son after a wall was built to keep immigrants out. Rather apt song for our time. The two deftly mixed in new songs alongside some of the greats from pervious records, like “O Be Joyful,” “Hail Hail” and a deeply spirited “The Devil is All Around.”

As impressive as the energy they put into the show – despite spending much of the past year on the road – was the versatility of these two musicians. Hearst managed to play both the drums and organ simultaneously throughout the set, a feat her husband was able to pull off as well when they switched places mid set.

Several times throughout the set, the two managed to show their appreciation for the audience who came out on a Sunday night: “We always feel blessed that this is our job every day,” said Hearst at the start of the show. Not too long after, a self-deprecating Trent unbuttoned his jacked to reveal a By Blood shirt. “After the album came out, we ordered a ton of these shirts thinking they would sell. Um, they’re not selling as well as I thought so I just started wearing them on stage. I’ve got plenty of clean shirts for the rest of the tour.”

A remarkable show by a remarkable band that proved yet again how they’ve managed to build such a loyal following with little airplay but strong word of mouth.

Trashcan Sinatras 10/13/19, Denver

Dates: October 13, 2019

Location: Soiled Dove Underground, Denver CO

Live at the Soiled Dove Underground.

BY TIM HINELY

Afternoon shows are always a bit weird (I’m sure for the musicians as well, probably even more so) but even though I had had a late the night before at the SLF/Avengers gig I was not about to miss the Trashcan Sinatras who were hitting the stage at 1:30 in the afternoon. I’d already mowed the lawn (and my wife and kid were shopping) so my day was free. This particular venue is in the basement of a restaurant, kinda cabaret style, and it was maybe 2/3 full for this gig (should have been packed for these guys).

If I’m correct I believe they’ve been touring on different albums the past few years and for this tour it was their 1996 album A Happy Pocket and the much better 2004 record Weightlifting (I unfortunately missed last year’s Cake and I’ve Seen Everything tour).

For this tour it was vocalist Frank Reader (who mostly sang lead but played guitar on a few), John Douglas (who played rhythm guitar and sang a few) and Paul Livingston who was playing lead guitar while sitting down in a chair behind them.

They opened with the songs from A Happy Pocket, not a bad album but definitely not the quality of the first two, which were fabulous. Still the band brought the songs to life with Reader pouring every bit of emotion into it while John and Paul furiously strummed away (or is most cases strummed delicately). Reader telling funny stories and Douglas occasionally telling what the songs were about.

“Twisted and Bent” “A Pop Place” and the final two, “Safecracker” and “Therapist” were among my faves from this set.

After a 15 minute break they came out for 2004’s Weightlifting. In my opinion a much better record and the songs in this set much livelier and more dynamic. Cuts like “Got Carried Away,” “All the Dark Horses” the title track and especially “What Women Do To Men” were absolutely sublime. The crowd was mostly focused and attentive throughout the whole set.

These guys are all about song craftsmanship and are among the best in the business. In this intimate setting all of the songs beautiful intricacies and nuances came out. It was a really wonderful afternoon of music.

They don’t make it to our shores very often so when they do you’ve gotta get out and see them. I’m sure glad I did.

 

 

 

Avengers + Still Little Fingers 10/12/19, Denver

Dates: October 12, 2019

Location: Gothic Theater, Denver CO

Live at the Gothic Theater.

BY TIM HINELY

My buddies and I had been psyched for this show for quite some time as it was announced a few months before it happened. Most of them had never seen 1970’s San Francisco punk band The Avengers but I had seen them once in the mid-00’s in Portland, Oregon. That show was original members Penelope Houston on vocals and guitarist Greg Ingraham along with the rhythm section from the Mr T Experience (Joel Reader on bass and Luis Illades on drums) and the band put on a rousing performance that night.

That rhythm section must have been busy for this tour but no worries, as they brought along legendary bassist Hector Penalosa (The Zeros!) and drummer David Bach.

Houston’s sneer is still in fine form and she’s a great performer as well, chatting up the crowd and punctuating words with actions like hitting the mic against her head and skirting around the stage. Ingraham’s guitar still is a major, powerful force and that rhythm section of Penalosa and Bach was absolutely spot on (didn’t seem like a fill-in at all).

We heard all the classic Avengers chestnuts like “Teenage Rebel,”  “Cheap Tragedies,” “We Are the One,” “Second to None” (written by Sex Pistol Steve Jones) “Desperation” (which Penelope dedicated to all the folks who came up from Colorado Springs) and plenty more. They saved the end of the set for their Stones cover (“Paint it Black”) and their own gem, “The American in Me.” What a set! If they come to your town do not miss them.

*******

Belfast, Ireland’s Stiff Little Fingers formed in 1977 (heavily influenced by The Clash as leader Jake Burns stated on this evening) and released their debut LP, Inflammable Material in 1979. This is the 40th tour for that record so the band, of course, played that record in full as well as a handful of other old classics.

For this tour it’s Burns and original bassist Ali McMordie along with Ian McCallum on guitar and Steve Brantley on drums (both with the band since the mid-90’s so not newcomers at all).

They started off with a handful of other songs including “Strummerville” (where Burns talked about the Clash influence), “My Dark Places” (where he openly talked about depression) and the raging “Nobody’s Heroes” (off their sophomore record of the same name). All sounded terrific.

They then kicked straight into the great debut LP with the killer, stuttering “Suspect Device” as well as the jagged “Barbed Wire Love” , their great Bob Marley cover “Johnny Was” and the searing ‘Alternative Ulster.” Burns (who has lived in Chicago for quite some time now) still has the fire and passion and definitely provided fans their money’s worth. The still played with plenty of fire and passion  (especially McMordie who looked on the verge of anger at times).

A great double bill of bands that started before many of these fans were born, but still showing ‘em how it’s done!