Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Concert Review - Silversun Pickups - Pittsburgh - Ches-A-Rena - 10/24/09 - Show Review (Part 2)

In my previous review of this show (w/Cage the Elephant) I mentioned that Ches-A-Rena wasn't going to be around for much longer. Someone asked what I was speaking about. Here is the article in which this is stated. In summary the city board turned down the promoters to house a liquor license there. The funny part was at the show they were still serving beer along with pizza. You paid $20 which gave you a all you can eat and drink (bud or bud light) pass; a pretty darn good deal. Not sure how that gets 'around' serving alcohol, but this state is known for some weird liquor laws.

Silversun Pickups followed CTE with a pretty lively, rocking set. I had seen these guys almost 4 years ago(?) when they played on Coachella's main stage in the early afternoon. They have definitely become even tighter since then with a look and feel of confidence that oozes from their stage presence. Lead Brian Aubert has a swagger that lead the rest of the band through a ferocious set along with a bit of over the top banter. They started everything off right by a few tunes from their new lp "Swoon". They mixed it up a bit with a spattering of songs off their previous albums.

Come to find out SSPU fans are a dedicated bunch. There was a guy near the stage that waved his one finger up in the air to each and every song like a conductor. Brian pointed it out to the rest of the crowd during a break between songs even mocking the fan a bit, but he kept on trucking conducting the band while singing every lyric throughout the show. Another fan had the title album "Swoon" tattooed on their body which was also brought to the attention of the crowd by Brian. He even offered her laser surgery in a few years.

It was very good show from top to bottom in a setting that unfortunately will disappear from the Pittsburgh landscape. Enjoy it while you can.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Concert Review - Cage the Elephant - Ches-A-Rena - Pittsburgh - 10/24/09 - Show Review (Part 1)

This was my first time at Ches-A-Rena (aka Gravity) which is a surprisingly very good venue. The place looks like some old military silo with a "tube" look to it...but the ceiling (although falling in places) really allows wonderful acoustics. Its a shame that it won't be around much longer because Cheswick city council won't grant a liquor license. Sometimes I wonder if under funded towns/cities such as Cheswick don't understand how this little venue could have positive financial gains for their town. But that is for another day.

Cage the Elephant came out after opener An Horse (by way of Australia) finished a surprising solid set. From the get go these young guns kicked it into gear with constant motion and energy. I haven't seen a band (especially lead singer Matt Shultz) go this wild onstage since some really bad punk show (and this wasn't it). This was a 5 piece that sweated out their songs while hammering on their instruments. Shultz on the other hand is a man possessed to entertain spazzing out on stage while belting out lyrics with a boisterous voice. Shultz didn't stop there as he jumped into the crowd several times while hanging onto the mic and still keeping pace with the background music.

It appeared that over a third of the crowd was there to see CTE. It was a diverse group from a heavily tattooed biker (in his 50's) waving his arms and singing along to pre-teen kids eating up the showmanship of CTE. Even the burley security guard was a fan with a fully autographed shirt by CTE. CTE puts on a quite a show no matter who the audience is. The crowd was definitely into it with fans carrying the crowd surfing Shultz back and forth to the stage, evening allowing him to stand upon their shoulders while screaming the lyrics. Usually you would think if the band has this much energy they must be pretty loaded. But I doubt these guys even drink as I saw Shultz chugging a Mountain Dew after the show.

The set ended with Shultz climbing a bundle of speakers before diving into the awaiting crowd (see video). While this was playing out the rest of the band was accommodating fans by greeting and talking with the many supporters who came to the side of the stage. Nice kids that put on a high energy show. Can't beat that.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Concert Review - Old Canes - Brillobox - 10/23/09 - Show Review

Old Canes played to a packed house Friday night at the Brillo and put on one of the best shows I have seen there (and this year). There were a lot of Chris Chrisci fans in attendance wanting to see what his new endeavor was about. He and his band did not disappoint. The band was a 5 piece that used assorted instruments to deliver a lush sound portraying his home recordings. The band members were multi tasking using trumpets, cello, melodica, accordion along with the traditional guitar and drums. The arrangements created layers of sound that began the show off with the instrumental intro that begins the new lp Feral Harmonic. As soon as the song ended, they quickly jumped into the single "Little Bird Courage" (just like the album) with band members laying down the sound with the cello and trumpet thumping. The vocals were barely audible and halfway through the song Chris stopped the band after he clearly forgot the lyrics and failed to recover. On the second time around the band nailed it with the sound man adjusting so the crowd could hear.

The set was tight and Chris was a charismatic lead without too much banter. The crowd was very appreciative after each song clapping and hollering for more. This was definitely the best sounding show I have seen at Brillo and a majority of that is credited to the chemistry within the band itself.

As the band finished its set the crowd was imploring them for more. However, Chris had to explain to the crowd that the drummer had just joined the band 4 days ago (something happened to the previous one) and he didn't know anymore songs. The band wanted to oblige the crowd but unfortunately it just wasn't possible. The Old Canes band definitely matches the intensity and production of their new album Feral Harmonic. Definitely a show well worth attending and matching a superb new lp.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reminder - Cage the Elephant Opening for Silversun Pickups - Ches-A-Rena - 10/24/09

Reminder that Cage the Elephant will be opening for the Silversun Pickups at Ches-A-Rena Saturday night. Check out an album plus show preview here.

Here is their video for "In One Ear"

Reminder - Old Canes - 10/23/09 - Brillobox- Ticket Giveaway - Winner

Just a reminder that Old Canes will be playing tomorrow night at the Brillobox. Show begins at 9p. Please check out a interview with Old Canes here and a album/show review here.

Also, congratulations to Brendan S. who won a pair of tickets to the show.

Here is another song from the new album on Saddle Creek Records, Feral Harmonic.

"I Will Be the Sun"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chris Crisci - Old Canes - Interview - Show Preview - Brillobox - 10/23/09

Below is an interview with Chris Crisci of Old Canes (& The Appleseed Cast). He will be performing at the Brillobox this Friday, 10/23. Be sure to enter for a pair of tickets to the show by simply emailing me (link) with your name. Also, check out an album review and show preview here.

I read this was supposed to be more of an individual project for output. What made you decide to create a full fledged live act out of it and sign to Saddle Creek Records?

Originally they were just songs I'd play around the house. This is years ago, like 1998 and 1999, when I first moved to Lawrence. Friends encouraged me to record them. As I did the recordings, I couldn't help myself, I layered the songs with other instruments, and had friends play drums or trumpet or whatever, and it developed into what it is now.

Appleseed Cast and Old Canes are two very diverse ventures. Do these relate at all?

I don't intend for them to relate, or not relate. I don't really think of their relationship to each other. The way I view them is how they make me feel, and what I enjoy when I play the music. With Old Canes I enjoy the driving beats, and energy. With Appleseed Cast I enjoy the layers of sound, the subtle ghost harmonics that you get when two different noises play against each other, and the more intricate arrangements.

What type of equipment did you use to record these albums?

I have an 8 track 1/2 in tape machine which I tracked the entire first record on. I only used it a couple times during tracking of the new record, because it's down to two functional tracks and even those aren't sounding great. It need to be re-lapped and looked at, and right now I don't have the money to do it. So the majority of the record was recorded using good old Pro Tools, and a Korg D3200 for drum takes, or anything that I needed to record using more than two inputs. Nothing fancy, but they capture sound, so I'm happy.

What made you decide to produce these albums yourself?

I had a very specific vision for how I wanted these albums to turn out. I knew how to get it. I have the equipment necessary. It's easier to do it myself for free, than to pay someone else and have to explain.

Was just reading your twitter account. Do you do most of your booking? Management duties?

If you're a booking agent reading this, and you're interested in booking us, please get a hold of me. It's not one of my talents, but yes, I am shouldering some of that responsibility right now. I have a couple friends helping me out with shows here and there. I really hate doing it.

Is there a theme behind your new album? Or are these songs that should’t be grouped together?

When I look at the songs now, I see a theme. I wasn't trying to create an overall theme, but I guess when you write lyrics during one period of your life, certain ideas will keep coming up. I guess in my mind, what has preoccupied my thoughts lately, is that life is too short for pettiness and fear.

Is this your first national tour? Have you been to Pittsburgh before?

We did a few very small tours when Early Morning Hymns came out. We played Pittsburgh back then. I think there were five people there at that show. It was cold. I think we slept at the venue. It was actually a great tour in it's own little way. Just not in the way that includes good turn-outs or money.

Has the current state of the economy affected any plans you had for your band from travel or recording? To marketing?

Not yet. Touring has been good the last couple years. It seems like record sales are dropping across the board, but live shows have been better than ever. I think it's Internet Piracy Remorse. It's not having a good job at home that is killing me.

What has been your favorite place to play when on tour?

It changes. Some towns are great for a few years and then things drop off, other places are awful, and then one tour, it just turns around. Chicago is always good. Austin is always good. Other than that, my favorite place to play is wherever there's fun.

What are you listening to while on the road? Anything on repeat?

We only listen Old Canes in the van. We don't even listen to the opening bands at the shows. We don't want to sully our ears.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

We actually do listen to the opening bands, and lately in the van we've been listening to the new Drakkar Sauna album 20009. (Pronounced Two Thousand Thousand Nine)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ticket Giveaway - Cage the Elephant/Silversun Pickups - Winner - Old Canes Tickets

Congratulations to Brian C. who won the Cage the Elephant/Silversun Pickups ticket giveaway.

As a reminder I still have a pair of tickets for the Old Canes (see preview below). Make sure to enter by simply emailing me with your name.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Old Canes - Show Preview - Feral Harmonic - Album Review - Brillobox - 10/23/09 - Ticket Giveaway

Old Canes will be performing at the Brillobox on 10/23. Below is a preview plus album review. Make sure to enter for a free pair of tickets to the show by simply emailing me with your name. All entries must be received by Wed, 10/21.

Old Canes is a side project by lead Chris Cristi of The Appleseed Cast. His new album, Feral Harmonic, will come out Tuesday 10/20 on Saddle Creek Records. It's his second album under the moniker, the last being in 2004. This is a major departure from the post rock sounds of The Appleseed Cast. The project is a more acoustic, lo-fi product. It includes a folk and traditional sound that merges with a boisterous intensity that can be found through the album.

"Little Bird Courage"

Feral Harmonic proceeds how prior album Early Morning Hymns began, with a instrumental intro beginning slowly before taking it up a notch with chimes and an intense guitar, then bringing it back down to a minimal sound. "Little Bird Courage" is the next track that reveals how the rest of the album will play out. There is an upbeat rhythm with a hard strumming acoustic guitar. The track also includes central horns with a recording process that is stripped down without the big budget sound. The lyrics talk about the protective ability of someone close: When I'm thirsty/ You are the fountain/In the face of danger/I am not afraid.


"Trust" is another song that begins out slowly with a rhythmic drum beat and slow plucking acoustic guitar. The lyrics are darker than the rest of the album: Little one be careful/ There are people out there who steal your soul. "Flower Faces" begins with a down trotted guitar rhythm and a bit of gloomy feel. Organs (or something similar) drive the song with a melancholy hum over lyrics that sound despondent: Until your flowers faces up/the light is shining down on you. The song talking about a loss of some sort with a bit of regret.

"Flower Faces"

Listening to the album you get a sense of an old time thrift store experience with instruments and recording material picked up at various locations. I believe that is what gives the album its signature voice and texture. It's a very tight, focused album that really brings in a wonderful wall of sound.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Free Tickets - Silversun Pickups w/ Cage the Elephant - Giveaway

As mentioned previously I am giving away a pair of tickets for the Silversun Pickups + Cage the Elephant show on 10/24 at Ches-A-Rena. To enter all you have to do is send me an Email (link here) with your name.

All entries must be received by this Friday, 10/16.

Checkout the Cage the Elephant preview below or here.

I also have a ticket giveaway for Old Canes at the Brillobox on 10/23. Entry deadline for that is next Wed, 10/20. Just email me with your name if you would like to enter for this contest.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Show Preview - Cage the Elephant - Opening for Silversun Pickups - 10/24/09 - Ches-A-Rena

Cage the Elephant will be opening for the Silversun Pickups on Saturday, 10/24. Below is review of their album and a preview of the show. Also, be sure to enter for a pair of tickets to the show by simply emailing me with your name.

Cage the Elephant is touring in support of their freshman self titled album. The band is made up of 2 brothers and 3 other life long friends that grew up in the Bowling Green, KY area. They recently transplanted to England where they developed their album before laying down the tracks. Their debut quickly sold 40k units in the UK before making its way over stateside.

The album has a dirty southern feel with grinding guitars and hip vocals. The lyrics could be described as a little rapping or just a bit of conversing ala The Hold Steady (although not in that category). There are a lot hooks and grooves with drum beats and guitar riffs bringing up the backend of each track making a cohesive sound distinctive in the rock genre. They honestly could be confused for some British outfit (I don’t know if it has anything to do with their relocation) with the accent you hear from vocalist Matt Schultz (sounds a bit like Arctic Monkeys lead). He has the sound of a scratchy, blues man with a gruff undertone. “In One Ear” starts the album off with a bang with catchy hooks and a big vibe to tell you what CTE is all about. The lyrics denounce critics and fans with one track minds: They say that we ain't got the style/We ain't got the class/We ain't got the tunes that's going to put us on the map….The crowd will only like me if they're really fuckin' drunk/They think they know my thoughts/But they don't know the least.

The album’s single “Ain't No Rest for the Wicked” is very radio friendly with the feel of a bluesy White Stripes. The lyrics speak about the difficulties of people and what they will do to pay the bills. Money don't grow on trees/I got bills to pay/I got mouths to feed/There ain't nothing in this world for free. The song has a great beat with rhythmic drums allowing the listener to tap your toes and sing along if you know the lyrics. “Judas” is a song with an anti-war message: And it's a shame to have to say/You had to kill to gain control again. "Back Against the Wall" is another single with some crazy looking gnomes in their video (love the gnomes). Lyrics speaking of a detached person hanging on: Tonight I’ll have a look/And try to find my face again/Buried beneath this house/My spirit screams and dies again.

Cage the Elephant is off to a great start and should hold a good size fan base for quite some time. They are not a band looking for ‘indie cred’ but one that is trying to find their own way into a musical hodgepodge where they might not exactly fit. With straight forward lyrics and ones that don’t make you ask “what did he say?”. These life long friends should be on the scene for quite some time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Show Review - The Lovely Feathers - Rural Alberta Advantage - Garfield Artworks - 10/6/09 - Pittsburgh - Concert Review

The Lovely Feathers once again brought their manic charisma to the stage at Garfield Artworks. As mentioned previously TLF put on one of the more enjoyable shows I had seen since moving to Pgh (especially at GA). This particular show didn't match the level of entertainment of the last time but it was still an enjoyable experience. There was a good crowd on hand to watch TLF plus Rural Alberta Advantage (both by way of Canada). The crowd was a bit standoffish with TLF positioned towards the back instead of upfront. I notice this happens a majority of the time I am at GA which is fine because its not a huge stage and it allows others to see the band without standing on chairs or tiptoes. Most of the bands will implore you to move closer, as TLF did, but honestly its best for everyone to stand in various spots to allow everyone to see.

TLF started off with a few tunes off their new album Fantasy of the Lot which sounded good but not great with the the acoustics that evening. One of TLF's gifts is they are a bunch of funny dudes that like to ham it up a bit. I believe they began to win over the audience with some of their stage banter which I wish they had done more of. Highlight for me is when they played their single "Lowiza" while putting a couple of different kabashes onto the tune. These guys are pretty tight but there was something missing from their last visit here...I am not sure what it was...maybe the crowd not being closer...but it was still a show I thoroughly enjoyed. If anyone likes the old Unicorns, Islands, etc. that have quirky lyrics over some pop gem melodies.

Rural Alberta Advantage came on next hailing from Toronto. I hadn't listened to these guys much since I was there primarily to see TLF. But judging from the crowd a majority were there to see this 3 piece. They get compared to Neutral Milk Hotel a lot and I guess that is a good thing. The leads voice definitely had that Jeff Magnum feel, but not to the point where I would even think of NMH. They play songs with serious lyrics...the lead singer telling the audience that "Frank, AB" is about a deadly landslide in Alberta back in 1903. These guys sounded great and held the audience's attention (they even moved up to the stage).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Show Announcement - Youth Group - Smiling Moose - 10/9/09

Just wanted to post Youth Group will be performing at the Smiling Moose Friday, 10/9. Saw these guys back at Coachella a few years ago and they put on a good show. They are from Australia and are pretty popular over there. Of course, they have the indie cred here in the states. They will be supporting their new album The Night is Ours.

Here is there video for "All This Will Pass"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Contest - Win a Pair of Tickets - Silversun Pickups 10/24 & Old Canes 10/23

I have 2 ticket giveaways for upcoming shows in Pittsburgh. One is to see Silversun Pickups w/Cage the Elephant at Ches-a-Rena on Saturday, 10/24 and the other is to see Old Canes at Brillobox on Friday, 10/23.

I will do a proper preview for both as the shows get closer. Most of you are familiar with Silversun Pickups.

Old Canes is a musical band from Lawrence, Kansas comprising frontman Christopher Crisci (of The Appleseed Cast) on vocals and guitar. Officially formed in 2002, Old Canes bore its roots around October 2001, when Chris Crisci initially played a handful of solo acoustic shows. Playing an in-store show as part of a European tour with Crisci's primary band, the Appleseed Cast, promoters wanted the band to play acoustic. Having acoustic material written that was never previously pursued, Crisci would performed three eventual Old Canes songs. After encouragement from supporters who appreciated the contrasting folk sound to the Appleseed Cast, he formally pursued the Old Canes a year and half later.

To win the tickets just send me an Email and tell me what show you are entering the contest for with your name. Winners will be selected at random.

Entries for Silversun Pickups/Cage the Elephant must be received by 10/16. Old Canes must be received by 10/20.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Reminder - The Lovely Feathers - Tues 10/6/09 - Garfield Artworks

Just a reminder that The Lovely Feathers will be playing at Garfield Artworks on Tuesday night opening for The Rurual Alberta Advantage on Saddle Creek Records. You can catch a preview of the show below or here.

Here are a couple of tracks off their new lp Fantasy of the Lot

"Loading Dock"

"Fantasy of the Lot"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bad Veins - Pittsburgh - Club Cafe - 10/5/09 - Reminder

As previously mentioned this week Bad Veins will be playing this Monday at Club Cafe. They are touring with The Subjects out of NYC and are being sponsored by Daytrotter Sessions. It's the late show at 10:15p. We previously reviewed their concert at Garfield Artworks and are definitely looking forward to seeing them at Club Cafe (if you like what you hear they are even better live).

I am re-posting the previous album review below along with their video to 'Gold and Warm'.

Bad Veins is a duo hailing from Cincinnati who are on Dangerbird Records (Silversun Pickups, Eulogies, The Dears) and just came out with their first self titled lp in July. The album is a multi layered affair with distorted vocals that pounce through. There is your usual drum plus guitar, but the sound is much stronger than your typical two piece. They get compared to Franz Ferndinand and Pulp which you can hear, but doesn't really represent them entirely. "Found" starts the album off with clarinets and trombones mixed in with the drums and guitar. Its a slower tune than what you find on the rest of the album. "Gold and Warm" is Bad Veins song that grabs you from the get go with a few hooks. The album continues down this same path with a theme of storytelling about life's experiences and encounters.