Wednesday, March 31, 2010
When doing these "show reviews" it's difficult to represent what you have just seen. Did the crowd enjoy it? Did they talk throughout the show? Were the performers entertaining? Did they just go through the motions? What do you write about? Well, this one is really easy.
Miles Kurosky and band performed a raucous, lively show that simply killed. Before he even began the stage was set by Elephant 6 loving locals Delicious Pastries. They provided a nice warm up using three keyboard players and a guitar instead of their usual drum, bass setup. Next up was Pancho-san composed of two former Beulah (and Rogue Wave) members who played a satisfying mix of songs off their debut album. Later on in the evening they acted as MK's backing band.
MK began his performance with "I Can't Swim" off his new solo album The Desert of Shallow Effects. The band and MK were in synch tearing through the set while providing an electric atmosphere. Between songs MK announced that, "I'm not shi*ing you, Pittsburgh is the Holy Land." He told the crowd how his father is from Pgh and pronounces words with that old Yinzer style. What made this such a memorable show is the way MK interacts with the crowd. Many patrons were calling out for old Beulah tunes. He was more than happy to oblige inviting them onstage to sing it with him. When he played "Emma Blowguns Last Stand" he had a member of Delicious Pastries come up and play the trumpet. Once the song began into the first rift the crowd was in a frenzy jumping up and down while singing along. The floor beneath actually felt like it was giving way.
(at the 3 minute mark the song kicks in; that is the floor bouncing throughout)
After the show I saw MK converse and give hugs to audience members. He really knows how to own a stage and connect with his audience. If you get the chance (and you like his music) make sure to see him. You won't regret it. He provides a memorable experience that you won't soon forget.
*****Thank you to hugh at hughshowsredux.blogspot.com for the pics.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Girls will be making their debut in the burgh this Monday, April 5th at Mr Smalls. The much buzzed about band, with rave reviews from all of the major media outlets, are supporting their first proper lp Album on Matador. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As the norm, just email me with your name to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Miles Kurosky, former lead of indie heroes Beulah, will be appearing this Monday, 3/29/10 at the Brillobox (see show preview here or below). He was kind enough to give us an interview touching on a broad range of subjects from his connection to Pittsburgh, health care and his new album. I have seen Miles play with Beulah a few times and he is not someone to miss. Great charisma and showmanship. Try to catch the concert Monday, you won't regret it.
You had several health issues the past 5 years. What were you doing to stay active?
I was pretty much staying at home for 2 years. I was dealing with a lot of problems physically. I spent a good year or more just rehabbing my shoulder. Then I was diagnosed with intestinal disease that leads to chronic kidney problems which required multiple surgeries. I was hovering between a pain killer haze and depressed state. When your body lets you down you have no say in the matter. It just happens. You have to roll with it. I was using a turkey baser to clean areas.
I read a past interview, when you were with Beulah, stating you didn't have health insurance and were bartering cd's with friendly doctors. Did you have health insurance during these surgeries?
Yeah. After that tour I bought health insurance, although it was quite expensive, over $300 a month. Think about that, I am a working class musician that is paying over $4,000 for health care. That is a big chunk of change to make sure you are healthy.
I am sure the health issues brought on some firsthand knowledge of our health care system. With that experience (and such a controversial topic these days) what is your feeling on our healthcare system?
Yes. Everyone should have it, it's ludicrous they don't. It seems so simple to me. It's funny that people fight it. The reason so many people are uninsured, and we are talking about employed Americans, is because it's too expensive. In America, the majority are working class people that have to prop up the rest of us, where they think it's the rich people propping up the poor. The right has brainwashed the working that being helped out is Communism, Marxism or its evil. They have turned their Jesus into some gun toting Wal-Mart shopping tool.
I read your family is originally from the Pittsburgh area. Is that correct?
Pittsburgh is where my family is from; they were a long line of steel workers. I actually grew up in Los Angeles but my Pittsburgh roots run deep. My mom is Polish and was born in Poland before moving to Chicago. My Dad grew up in what he called Hunky town (Carnegie area) which is all Eastern European Hungarians, Slavics. My grandfather came to Pittsburgh from Russia (with many other children)at age 10 as a child laborer. No one knows if they were given up or sold by their parents. They came over and were integrated into this area of Pittsburgh. My grandfather became a steelworker and my dad did as well. I am a huge Steelers fan. We actually fly back to Pittsburgh to watch games with my wife and dad. My dad loves coming back to Pittsburgh and telling stories of where he drank and caroused.
Will you be touring with a full band? Are any former members from Beulah?
Yes. I'm not showing up with an acoustic, no way. Two of the five members are former Beulah members. Eli Crews is playing with us who helped record the record and was in the second half of Beulah. Patrick Abernethy will also be in the band. He was in Beulah before. After we broke up he joined Rogue Wave for a time. He then left Rogue Wave to start his own band Pancho-San who will be opening for us on this tour and then he will be joining my band (after his set is complete). It's always best to go out with your friends or help out your friends instead of playing with a bunch of strangers.
In Beulah, I read the process of creating music was to write the music first and then the lyrics. It appears that you did the opposite with this solo album. Would that be accurate?
No I think it's still like the other. I come up with melodies first and labor over lyrics. With the music I will hear the chords and construct a melody in my head. I sing it acapella to build the structure out. With lyrics I will have things scribbled but never in poetic form without the music prior. When I had the bum shoulder I couldn't play but was building the music and singing it out.
Would you consider this a more positive record after Yoko (Beulah's last album)? You went through a messy breakup when that album came out.
I think the lyrics are dark on this record but not necessarily that they lack hope. I express dark feelings but I hope there is a positivity, that there is a since of salvation and deliverance at the end of the record. I hope that there is hope.
Did you create the album artwork? It's really interesting.
Camm Rowland actually did it who is an artist in Chicago. It's actually a physical piece he built out from a photo. It's a three dimensional piece where each section is screwed into the next piece. It's a box with art inside.
The insert has a couple that is stripping down between the folded frames with ski masks over their heads. Is this you? Is there any significance behind it?
The woman is actually a model. And the man could quite possibly be me (laughing). I just thought it would be fun and aesthetically pleasing with provocative images. You'll notice the name in there says "MLK" Miles Lawrence Kurosky.
"Dog in the Burning Building" is a fantastic video. Could you say what the song represents? Means?
The video is done by the Krause brothers who are amazing. It's one of the best videos I have seen out. I guess at the end of the day it's about feeling trapped in a certain sense. But at the same time the dog finds the right woman and the feeling is you can still be saved through personal interactions and love. In the same way it's also a trap of believing in the sense that something is going to save you. Putting too much loyalty in someone.
I always wanted to ask you, The Coast Is Never Clear (Beulah album) came out on the same day 9/11 happened. Did you have a release party scheduled? Or any other plans?
We were actually supposed to play in New York two days later. Commercially it was devastating. The label and management felt that this was going to be the breakout record. I wouldn't necessarily blame that failure on 9/11. Indie hadn't really broken yet; we weren't living in a post-Arcade Fire world.
Were you ok with the success Beulah reached?
Yeah, with pre-Shins, Garden State, pre-MySpace, pitchfork…we did better than most but not as good as some. The only thing you could aspire to back then was to be as big as Pavement. At that time Pavement wasn't as big as Death Cab, Arcade Fire or The Shins those kinds of bands.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Mr. Gnome will be appearing at the Smiling Moose on Friday. It's an early show with doors at 6:30p and Mr. Gnome scheduled to go on at 8p. If you come seek me out and I will buy you a beer, no joke. You can hit up the bar scene on Carson St. afterwards. Checkout the preview/album review here or below.
Heave Yer Skeleton was an excellent follow up to Deliver This Creature. Were you pleased with the results? Is there anything on either album you wish you had changed?
Hey, thanks so much. I'm not sure you can ever be 100% satisfied with making an album because you only have so much time and money to do it…you just try to get the best representation of those songs for that time and hope that it comes across with the same sincerity that it was written with. I don't think we'd change anything just because those are kind of moments in time captured and whether there's parts that you think you could do better, it represents where you were at, at that time.
What would you say the major difference is between the 2 albums? Or would you consider this an extension of the last? I noticed longer arrangements on HYS (or am I off base?).
No, you're definitely right on. HYS was an extension of the more experimental side of what we introduced on Deliver This Creature. We tried to make it more of a whole album vs. just songs. Yeah, there were demos for HYS that were 10 (even 15) minutes long…yikes! if we would've left these arrangements as they were originally written, we may have had a triple album! We tried to trim the final product down as much as we could but you could still tell the creators were on drugs.
Is there an album or show that made you want to dedicate your life to music?
Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii was definitely a huge influence on many levels. I remember Sam and I smoked a blunt in his parent's driveway when we were in high school, stumbled down the stairs, dug through Sam's dad's video collection, found Pompeii and have never been the same since.
You just came out with a new album this past year. I read on your site that you are already recording a new album. How far into the process are you?
Well, we're actually still in the writing process. We're looking at recording in late August and hopefully will have a finished product in early 2011.
Your last 2 albums have come out on El Marko Records. It appears when you go to their site that you are the only client. What is your connection with El Marko? Have you ever thought of switching labels to gain more exposure?
After dealing with a few label offers and all of the weirdness that comes with that, we decided to start El Marko Records a few years ago with a business partner, and the goal in mind was to start a small, independent, artist-friendly label with the hopes to eventually sign other artists. We're so busy with mr. Gnome at the moment that we haven't been able to concentrate on expanding the label. As far as switching labels and getting more exposure, it's really just a matter of someone offering a respectable deal and we would definitely consider it. Nothing major…just strippers in our green room, a crystal champagne fountain in a touring limousine driven by Ron Jeremy, and maybe a time machine.
You appear to tour quite a bit. Are you able to create music full time? Or do you have day jobs?
We've been full time musicians now since we started recording HYS back in April of last year. We do some odd jobs now and then when we're home - Sam enjoys stripping…even though he can't find anyone to pay him for it - but for the most part, yes, we somehow do this full time.
What is your goal with the band? How would you deem yourself successful?
We don't want to seem shallow but private jets, caviar, supermodels and cocaine 24/7 are really the essentials for success.
Josh Homme helped create your last record. What was that experience like? Was there areas where he was suggesting that you didn’t feel fit the concept of your album?
We actually got invited to Josh's studio by his studio manager, Justin Smith. Justin was wonderful. We were on the same page for the whole project and he really helped us capture the sounds that we were going for and introduced us to a lot of vintage gear that we never knew existed. We also shared a love for time travel, Battlestar Galactica, The Frogs, The Techno Viking, and Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. We love you Sanchez.
From our last interview I know you create your own artwork. What was the conception of this one? What were you trying to say about the album? I really like it.
Thanks so much! We really appreciate it. Heave Yer Skeleton was coined by author Sally Foster Wallace - she was describing the act of going to sleep. When I read that, it stuck in my head and seemed really appropriate when it came time to name the album because of the lyrical content and overall feel. The artwork is basically a dream world interpretation of someone literally falling asleep - we kind of played with the idea of the title and created a visual that displayed someone physically being carried to slumberland. Our music tends to be surreal and abstract…the dark side and the light side…and we tend to make artwork that conveys the same emotions.
Has attendance been picking up at your shows especially from areas you had previously visited?
Yeah, the tours have only been getting better and better and we're extremely thankful for the support we have all across the country. Especially at a time where people may not have money to spend…they come out to the shows and buy us shots??? We love you guys. Thank you for supporting our alcoholism…oh yeah, and our music.
Anything you would to say to Pittsburgh?
We love you Pittsburgh…even though we are from Cleveland :)
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Show Preview - Miles Kurosky (former Beulah frontman) - Brillobox - 3/29/10 - Pittsburgh - Album Review
Let me say upfront I am a huge Beulah fan and have been for quite sometime. Miles Kurosky, past lead of Beulah, will be performing at the Brillobox on Monday, 3/29. It's been 6+ years since Beulah's demise and with no formal output from front man Miles Kurosky. During that period Miles went through two reconstructive shoulder surgeries and had intestinal issues that required hospitalization (and more surgery). This lead to a dark period for MK who spent most of his time unable to do everyday activities. Creating music was not a priority as rehabbing and staying healthy took precedence.
"Apple for an Apple"
Fast forward to this year and MK finally has released his first solo album The Desert of Shallow Effects. It's not a far extension of his Beulah roots, but it does demonstrate a new direction from earlier recordings. The album tells stories of how MK became who he is today from his family heritage to past relationships. "An Apple for An Apple" begins with an acoustic guitar over subtle, gloomy lyrics. Bring out your dead kids/Bring out your dead/Your sons and daughters, they won't be spared. The song flourishes after with horns and lush string arrangements.
"Notes From the Polish Underground"
"Notes From the Polish Underground" tells the story of MK's grandfather and his experience during WWII. It begins with a slow strumming guitar over a soft piano melody. Myths and tangled webs we spin/Partineers and mutineers are all the same with the Reds. "I Can't Swim" shows the pop genius MK cultivated in Beulah. A throwback to his band, the song plays with layers of chorus and instruments to provide the perfect 4 minute gem.
"I Can't Swim"
This is an album that feels of the 60's pop but offers much more. The songs still have the hooks and layers of arrangements you expect to find on past Beulah albums, but it also is more focused with lyrical content and structure. If you like what you hear be sure to check him and the full band Monday. I can attest he really puts on a great show. I will be posting a interview later this week.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Mr. Gnome will be appearing at the Smiling Moose on Friday, 3/26/10. If you follow the blog you know I really enjoy this duo. I placed them on both of my 2009 end year lists for album and concerts. This past year their sophomore album was released entitled Heave Yer Skeleton (cover above). Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) helped produce the lp.
You always fear the "sophomore slump" that seems to befall so many artists who's debut you really enjoy. Thankfully, this didn't happen for Mr. Gnome. They continued to develop their sound where Deliver This Creature left off. "Spain" begins the album as a slow build with haunting piano and barely audible guitar. It then plateaus with stout vocals and and pounding drums before bringing it back to the same melody that started off.
"Slow Side" is another example of maturity for the duo. The opening begins with a rhythmic rift that slides into a soft chorus. Then at the 2:20 minute mark a heart thumping crescendo before ending to a whispering vocal and continuing with a semi-epic feel. "Vampires" is a fun little jaunt with lyrics: well you run from the guys that chase ya down/cause they're huntin you out just to get your head/...drainin all the blood till the body lies dead.
This a more than solid followup to a a group who didn't rest on their laurels. Please see the previous show review we did of Mr. Gnome here. Also, an interview before their last tour to Pgh.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Not too long ago we were called out by an artist for not helping to promote local acts. They had a point, so we decided to start a monthly focus (maybe more if time permits) on a local Pgh band.
The first artist to receive our 'Spotlight' is local duo Action Camp. Since 2006, Bengt Alexsander and Maura Jacob have been creating their craft together. A great deal of information can be found on their website: http://www.action-camp.com/. It is well maintained with a tour diary, video podcasts and a full bio.
We were able to interview them after a couple of cancellations on our part. Both were extremely candid throughout our meeting. You can find samples of their music in the interview below. If you like what you hear, please be sure to catch them this Sunday, March 21st at the Shadow Lounge.
You were recently heckled at Club Café. What happened?
M: It wasn't necessarily directed toward us, but there was someone in the crowd who was talking at a volume that was over the music. I have a huge pet peeve of people talking in movies. At a show there is an unwritten law where you don't talk over the band. For the first 2 or 3 songs he was totally quiet, but then he started talking really loud.
B: In the middle of a song he told me we were too loud and I flipped him off. I continued to flip him off throughout the set and even said, "We are going to get louder, I hope its ok." After our set his friends apologized and made him go home.
Maura you are originally from the Pittsburgh area correct? And Bengt Boston?
M: Yes, I went to CAPA (performing arts) High School as a vocal major. I have family who has connections with CAPA as well. My grandmother taught visual arts there and my father taught some audio courses but not when I attended.
B: I grew up in central Massachusetts in a small town called Brimfield who's claim to fame is they have the third largest flea market. Once I graduated from High School I moved to Boston.
"Best I Can Do"
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?
B: If someone asks what kind of band we are I usually say we are a dream pop band. Our music is more of a big wall of sound and dynamics which comes from listening to the Pixies. If you have seen David Lynch movies I would say we try to emulate the soundtracks to those; a soundtrack that you would actually pay attention to. It's not to enhance the main feature.
M: I usually say surfy dream pop.
You both obviously put a lot of time and effort into the band along with other projects. What are your day jobs?
M: Bengt runs sound at a local club and I work in a cafe. We actually have exact opposite schedules where I start work at 6a and Bengt begins work at 7p. We meet in the middle to work on the music.
Do you all have health insurance now?
B: No. I generally don't get very sick and I run about 5 miles a night. I did recently chip a tooth that was causing a lot of pain for the first couple of days. I am hoping it will just even off because I can't really afford it right now. The way I look at it, everything else is more important (laughter).
M: I do have health insurance through the cafe and couldn't imagine myself without it due to chronic health problems. It's a huge problem for working musicians who travel all across the country or do other things that are potentially bad for your health.
How do you go about composing your material? How is the songwriting process?
M: We each have different backgrounds, where I have experience with writing, vocals and performing other people's music. I am the primary lyricist and work on melodies and harmonies vocally. Bengt, with his background, has been in several bands and does sound engineering. There is a compromising nature to our work since we have been together for 4 years now. So, while those are our strengths I think we are dipping more and more into each other's backgrounds.
What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?
B: We haven't looked into labels much. I come from a DIY background and like to have a lot of control over things. For the next record it would be nice to have a label if they understood what we wanted and to have a booking agent to help if they knew what type of clubs we liked to play. We recognize that we are a niche band that doesn't have mass appeal. If we ever made it to a level such as Morphine or the Pixies, a step above just being a working class musician, I would be happy. We aren't aiming super high to be Lady Gaga.
M: If we were able to quit our day jobs that would be great. Also, if we were able to travel and tour overseas.
Are your parents supportive? You both went to college. Do they have any misgivings about what you are doing?
M: Both of my parents are artistic. Both went to school and majored in visual arts as undergrads. They now have regular jobs. My father is actually a musician who has been playing since he was 14. He still performs locally in a band called Memphis Mike and the Legendary Tremblers as their bassist. Both are not surprised I am interested in music, but I know my mom wants me to have a plan B. She will only be scared if I am 35 and working at the cafe. At that point she will want to perform an intervention.
B: I have been doing this for over 10 years. I gave up a lot of my social life in high school because I was obsessed with music. My mom used to just see it as a hobby but understands now. She sees that we are trying to run a successful business for the lack of a better term. She is very supportive of it. She knows I have a steady flow of income and understands I am not going to do anything besides music. Ultimately she knows I will land on my feet.
The time we saw you play a show you were both dressed up. Do you do this for all of your shows?
M: I am a large part of the visuals for the band. Part of the reason we started dressing up was that I used to perform recitals. Another reason is we didn't want our shows to be an extension of your everyday life. It should feel like a separate part; we want the audience to feel that as well.
B: It's a very conscious decision. We have gone through phases but blue, red or purple are the three main colors we use. We just pick a color for the day and wear matching outfits.
Your last album came out in April 2008. Are you currently working on a new one? When do you think it will come out?
B: My projection of when our record is complete, and Maura's (projection), are very different. I am probably a perfectionist. We spent 2.5 years on our first lp. The first album was recorded and played in the studio before we did anything live. For this album we want to play the songs live and then see how they grow. A lot of the songs from the first record have changed as we have played them out at shows. For me, I don't see finishing our record for another year. It's your most permanent work of art that you have to refine. It's not just a product you are putting out, it's a statement.
M: He is very much a perfectionist where I tend to push him. You have to either let it go or show someone else and try not to get worked up about every little detail. I am hoping at the latest 2011.
You start and end your shows by spelling out your band name over hand claps. Is there a story behind this?
B: I listen to a lot of sugary pop records like Shonen Knife and Junior Senior where they do really catchy and cheery stuff. It's also to control emotion a little bit when we do darker themes in our songs. We come back out and say (to the audience), "Hey everyone do a cheer with us."
M: In fairness none of this came to our minds when we first started doing it. We just thought it was really humorous and people were enjoying doing it with us.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
As mentioned previously, Margot and the Nuclear So and So's will be playing the Brillobox this Friday. Lead man Richard Edwards was kind enough to give us an interview which can be found below.
The first time you were in Pittsburgh was at Club Café where there were 10 people in attendance and 8 onstage. The last time you were here there was a packed house. Has this pattern occurred in most cities you play?
Fortunately, attendance has risen in most cities, and seems to be continuing to rise. We had a couple lean years there.
Your album art incorporates animal figures (even with “The Dust of Retreat”). Is there a theme behind this? Reason? Do you create your own artwork?
Our old drummer's now ex-girlfriend did all the paintings for those first two records. Her name is Stacy Novak and she's quite good by my estimation. I'm not too sure where the animal stuff came from, except for the fact that I was incredibly fond of mice when I was a child. Just seemed to fit the feel of the albums I guess.
I read that Epic gave you the ok for a third lp. Have you completed this yet? Any details you are able to give?
It was finished, but we decided to go back in and do a couple more songs. Should be out late this Summer. No violins or trumpets or additional drummers on this one. Just a good ole' guitar album.
It appears that have you decreased your membership in the band from 8. How many are in the band now and do you add any extra for live shows?
About 5 of us made the record, and we've been touring with six. We may try touring with five at some point.
Is there a story behind “I Am a Lightning Rod”? Could you expound on the lyrics? we will vomit up/our chicago luck/and we will dance/on broken sheets of glass/to make our point.
A lot of the songs on that record we're kind of fever dreams a way. Kind of panic induced free association. That song certainly falls into that category. I'd say generally it is about trouble, and maybe a bit of paranoia. Things going black and getting scary.
Has the current state of the economy affected any plans you had for your band from travel or recording? To marketing?
It affects everything. But we feel the current state of the music industry a little deeper than the overall economy. People still seem to come to the shows, and our ticket prices aren't too high. I know we felt it a year ago, we had a tour where the attendance seemed to dip a bit. All the clubs were saying they were down 30-40% for just about everything. But that didn't seem to last too long for us. People buying less records has a big influence on how we, and a lot of other bands record now. Studios are closing. Budgets are way down.
“A Children’s Crusade on Acid” has some relatively depressing lyrical content. Could you expound on the meaning? and a hundred thousand times a day/the yellow lights turn red/and a hundred thousand miles away/i'm turnin' myself in/oh christ, i am!?
I honestly don't remember much about this song except that it was supposed to be part of a sort of concept record about kids living in a mineshaft after the end of civilization. That particular line can be thought of any number of ways, or no ways at all. As far as depressing lyrical content, that just seems to be the way it is for me. I've gotten self conscious at times, but at the end of the day, it's pretty much how I view the world, for better or worse. There are plenty of joys and reasons to keep going, but I'm acutely aware of the nastiness, and that seems to come out when I pick up a guitar.
I read on your site that there is a film in the works of live material by la blogotheque. What other content will this include? Should this be coming out on dvd anytime soon?
They are editing it now, although I haven't talked to those guys for a month or so. Everyone is busy, but it should come out on dvd this Summer, or at least that was the initial plan. It's a film that follows us around on the last tour we did for the 'animal' record. It loosely corresponds to the time that the old lineup was beginning to break up, but I doubt much of that will be evident in the movie. It's a nice document of that period, and I think it will appeal to the few for whom 'animal' was an important record.
I am assuming you will be playing new tunes from your upcoming album. Will anything be on sale (singles, ep, etc) of new material?
We have a 7" with a song from this upcoming album, but not much else until it's out.
From what I read you bring the material for new songs and then the rest of the band adds to it at this point. Is this relatively accurate and has anything changed for Margot #3?
Yeah, I bring in the songs, then we all work on them together. People play their instruments to the song, and the best ideas are the ones that get kept. At least as far as we interpret, "best idea". It still works pretty much the same as it always has, except I'm playing a bit more "lead guitar" on album three, since Andy is no longer responsible for that.
You are originally from Indianapolis. I read that some members still reside there and others are in Chicago? Is this still true and how does this workout when creating new material?
Most of us live in Chicago now. It can be tough to get together, but a lot of Margot work has always been solitary until we go into the studio, so I imagine it would be more difficult if we were a band that wrote together in a big room or something. But most band business happens in Chicago, so people get here and we get our shit done.
Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?
Shame about Big Ben.
Monday, March 15, 2010
First time I have been to the New Hazlett Theater and it was a very pleasant surprise for a show. A nice venue that I hope gets more acts (plus they have a full bar which some of the parents were taking advantage of). One look at the line of kids going in and you would suspect that Barney was in town (or whoever is popular these days). Both shows to this event had been sold out for over a month. It’s a bit amusing to see how far the Johns’ have come now entertaining a demographic of young, pre-teen kids who don’t even know that they have been creating music for the past 25 years.
The show was obviously different from the normal ones I attend, but it was entertaining nonetheless. TMBG came out onstage and began playing to an enthusiastic blend of kids and parents. Within the first two songs they were inviting everyone into the pit area which became packed within a matter of minutes. Kids were dancing, parents bopping and singing along while TMBG put on a mix of songs from their albums and dvd’s. I think I saw more parents involved in the show than some of their kids.
It would be difficult to keep the under-13 crowd involved for an entire set without throwing in some props and tactics to keep the kids attention. TMBG did just that by conducting a singing, comedy puppet show that was shown on the big screen so that the crowd could see. The band themselves got into the act by allowing the kids to strum a guitar and giving them high-low fives during one song. The biggest grabber was when tons of confetti was rocketed out onto the adoring crowd who ended up blanketed. The kids, of course, went nuts whenever one of these cannons was detonated.
For the parents it was a well spent $45 to be entertained by TMBG to recordings that their young ones always play. Plus, TMBG didn’t forget about those folks playing some songs from their past catalogue but those that were tot-friendly such as “Particle Man” (I would imagine they are sick of playing that song). All in all it was an enjoyable experience from a band that I recall listening to when I was barely out of my teens. Glad to see they are already preparing a cult following that will span another 25 years.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Margot & The Nuclear So & So's will be playing at the Brillobox this Friday, 3/19. They will be bringing their ensemble of musicians to the small Brillo stage. I have raved about this band's live shows before and I am not exaggerating when I say they are one of the tightest bands I have seen with eight members. They made my top 5 live show list back in 2008 which you can view here.
They are still touring off their last last lp Not Animal (& another version called Animal!)that came out in October 2008 via Epic. They also should have fresh live material for the show as they are recording a new album, plus a new mix of band members for this show as some have moved on to other projects. I am sure their live show will still be as good as ever. I reviewed a show they did with Cloud Cult at Mr Smalls which can be found here. That concert was good but I feel they do really well in a more intimate setting (just my opinion). I should have a interview coming in few days.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Apples in Stereo are coming out with a new album called Travellers in Space and Time on April 16th. This comes on the heels of their last lp New Magnetic Wonder that saw the band expanding their sound and production. They will be touring the area in April, although skipping Pittsburgh and hitting up Morgantown.
They will also be taking the Generationals on tour with them who's album I have listened to countless times now (again thanks to Cindy of 91.3 for the discovery). You can find a review here.
If you go to the below link you will find a video featuring actor Elijah Wood with head Apples man Robert Schneider. You can download music from the forthcoming album, view a family tree of the Elephant 6 Collective, get tour dates, and a bunch of other material.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
They Might Be Giants will be playing two shows next Saturday, March 13th at the New Hazlett Theatre (sponsored by the Warhol). Below is an interview John Linnell was kind enough to do with us. Both of these shows are 'family performances' with songs off their children dvd's. The shows are scheduled for 2p and 5p which are already sold out.
Who's the better audience, the adults or the kids?
JL: They're different. Kids are easily distracted by the confetti cannon. Adults don't require protection from onstage electric fans, unless they're drunk.
Where do you see the future of your music going with regards to genre and audience in the wake of your success with children albums?
JL: We have never successfully predicted where we're going next or what possible audience awaits us in the future. In my nightmares it's just us and James Lipton.
I hear you're making an album with sock puppets, how did that come about? Is it hard to perform with puppets? How do you keep their egos in check?
JL: We're not making an album with the puppets, but they do appear with us in the show. They present us with an opportunity to let our real feelings out. We've also been using them backstage to work through some issues from our own childhoods. I think we're beginning to see a real breakthrough there. Only the first sentence is true.
Any interesting stories from performing for children?
JL: We had one memorable bookstore signing where the parents were behaving like the neurotic yuppie dog owners from the movie "Best in Show", if you're familiar with that. They were both nervously instructing the kid at the same time, shouting over each other and trying to get the kid to pose in a particular way for a photo with us. The kid was taking it surprisingly well and calmly faced the camera between us, but you would have thought the mom and dad were trying to tame an army of squirrels.
Do you find the children that attend the shows looking for a ‘Purple Dinosaur’ or do they understand there isn’t a grownup in an animal suit?
JL: Kids seem to get the show and I think they respect the way we present ourselves. In general with kids you can set the terms and they'll adapt to whatever kind of show it is. The really great thing about a kids show is that the audience has relatively few preconceptions about how a rock show is supposed to go. It's very liberating to play music for people who aren't mentally comparing you to a long list of other bands. Adults tend to think more like rock critics and really aren't as open minded.
I was watching some of your videos for the recent LP Here Comes Science. Do you all produce and create the videos? They are well done.
JL: Thanks! After we've recorded the songs we pass them along to a team of brilliant young animators who make the videos. What's really gratifying is how they come up with all sorts of visual ideas that clarify what we're trying to put forward in the songs. In some cases they've actually done their own research and have taken the video from mildly informative all the way to college prep.
Who comes up with the information for your more educational/informative yet totally fun songs? How do you work that in to the songwriting process?
JL: We try not to play too fast and loose with the facts. Our general philosophy is that the songs should refer to the material rather than completely explain it. We are not educators! However we can point kids in the direction of the subject and try to encourage interest in it. I think that the best way to kill any curiosity about something is to force feed the whole thing into a two minute song lyric. And yet as I said before there's a surprising amount that you can get across painlessly by representing it visually. I would never have guessed that we could explain the periodic table of the elements as thoroughly as we and the animators did in the video for "Meet the Elements."
You are performing two shows on the same day in Pittsburgh. Will these be the same? How will they be different?
JL: At the beginning of the first show our performance will be full of energy and enthusiasm and our between-song raps will have the sparkle of a birthday party magician. By the end of the second show we'll be jaded, tired and cranky. Just kidding. They'll both be great.
The shows you are performing in Pittsburgh are classified as ‘family' friendly. How are these different from your normal club shows?
JL: The main difference is that we play the material from the the kid's DVDs. There's also a lot of overlap with the grown up shows. We'll play songs originally written for adults such as 'Dr. Worm' and 'Particle Man' and we often make the same oblique jokes that confuse even the people onstage. There's never anything inappropriate at our family shows but we don't talk down to kids.
Follow up with the question above; will your older audience still relate/enjoy these performances? Especially those without children?
JL: Apparently they do and will. There seems to be a fraction of the crowd that doesn't bring kids with them and they keep coming back.
Do you find the parents who bring their children to the shows have been listening to you as they themselves were growing up?
JL: That's what they tell us. My sense is that most of the kids really are fans of the band but I'm sure that there are a few who are there to humor their parents. Which is pretty close to one of the ten commandments.
You have sustained a level of success by adapting as you have gotten older. Was there any time where you thought “I need to get out of the music business.”
JL: That thought should have occurred to us many years ago. If there were ever a voice in our heads telling us to quit we have failed to heed it.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Serena Maneesh are coming out with their second album on March 23rd entitled S-M 2: Abyss in B Minor. They will be touring behind the new album although, unfortunately, not to Pittsburgh. I am giving away an exclusive numbered 12" vinyl single off the new lp titled 'Ayisha Abyss'. All you have to do is email me with your name at email@example.com. I will randomly select a winner on Monday.
Below are some songs off the new lp.
"I Just Want to See You"
3/22 -- Troubadour -- Los Angeles CA
3/23 -- Bottom of the Hill -- San Francisco CA
3/25 -- Berbati's Pan -- Portland OR
3/26 -- Triple Door -- Seattle WA
3/27 -- Media Club -- Vancouver BC
3/30 -- 7th Street Entry -- Minneapolis MN
3/31 -- Bottom Lounge -- Chicago IL
4/1 -- Magic Stick -- Detroit MI
4/2 -- Grand Hall -- Toronto ON
4/3 -- Il Motore -- Montreal QC
4/4 -- TT The Bears -- Cambridge MA
4/5 -- Daniel Street -- Milford CT
4/6 -- Kung Fu Necktie -- Philadelphia PA
4/7 -- DC 9 -- Washington DC
4/8 -- Le Poisson Rouge -- New York NY