Part of the reason that it takes so long to get concert reviews up here is because I admittedly let myself run a little wild and, quite possibly, get a little too extravagant. So, for tonight we’re going to try something new – short reviews! If only because I saw three shows recently that I’d really like to write about, but to do so in my normal form would mean an even longer wait. And away we go…
My friend and I opted to skip the openers and cut straight to the meat – the Jesus & Mary Chain. For the most part, the crowd just stood around, with a few people dancing or singing spotted in-between. It’s hard to tell if this is because a) everyone was stoned, b) everyone was tired (I mean, it was 10 on a monday!), c) everyone wanted the band to be louder. The one kink in the system was that the band was not nearly as loud as they could’ve or should’ve been – which was surprising, because the first word of “noise pop” is, well, noise. As a whole, part of what’s interesting about the genre is that the aftermath and manipulation of the notes that are played is just as important — if not more so — than the particular notes they play, all of which is easier to hear the louder it gets. Eventually most of the audience was screaming for everything to be louder, which the band responded to by repeated “no”s. Still, volume aside, the band was full of energy and still a lot of fun live. Highlights:
Though I was interested in all three bands, I went mostly for Bowerbirds, and I have to say, they were probably the highlight of the evening. If you need a selling point (which you hopefully won’t after hearing the music), their upcoming release, Hymns for a Dark Horse, which drops on Burly Time on July 10th, comes with a tag line from John Darnielle that reads “my favorite new band in forever.” Unsurprisingly, the man has good taste, because Bowerbirds were very good, and I would try to describe them, but I know I won’t do them justice, so just listen to “In Our Talons” below and enjoy. Ladybug Transistor were pleasant, but not spectacular. Good enough that I want to check out their new album, bad enough that someone yelled out to them “you suck,” to which they responded, “I mean, we’re not for everyone.” Rosebuds (above) were the biggest surprise of the evening, because when I saw them years ago at Macrock, I remember them as subdued, folky pop – and they were atrocious. I hate to judge bands based on one performance alone, but I went into this one skeptical. When did they become power pop?! They were a lot of fun to see, but after the 4th or 5th chorus comprised of “whoo!” I was ready to be done. Note: go see the Rosebuds, but see them when you’re drunk and you just want to dance. Like the others, Rosebuds also have a new album, which I might have to actually listen to now instead of stare at.
Before entering this show, I wasn’t entirely sold on Mr. Oberst. I was a casual listener, and while I couldn’t deny the man’s song-writing skills – the voice. Oh, that voice. There were times in his songs when a young boy going through puberty could’ve done better. Digital Ash in a Digital Urn was interesting enough to bend my ear, and Cassadega has been my favorite of his thus far. Still, I went in feeling unsure. Oberst blew it all away. With a 9 piece band behind him, everyone dressed in white suits to pick up the live-art on the projection screen, Oberst’s songs were given the full, lush treatment that they need and deserve. It helps that Cassadega is his most full, rocking album to date, but even his older work sounded better with deluxe treatment. Each moment surged with energy — even the slowest — and I actually found myself wishing the show hadn’t been seated (something I was originally happy about). Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice joined in for a devastating version of “Melt Your Heart,” but even with the redheaded bombshell’s guest appearance, it was Oberst who stole the show.