Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The First Dismemberment Plan Show In Four Years (4-27-07)

If you know me, you've probably heard me talk about The Dismemberment Plan. They're my jam. Frenetic, original, catchy, dance-able, and totally crazy. Not only that, but two of the members (Travis and Jason) were personally involved in the creation of my band's forthcoming EP. Also, while I was still in Pash, Eric basically mentored me via email regarding bass-playing and touring. And one way or another, I've managed to open for pretty much all of their various side-projects and solo stuff (including an upcoming show with The Gena Rowlands Band, featuring both Eric and Jason). So I'm indebted to this band as friends, mentors, producers, and co-conspirators... and I love their music. Basically, they would've had to try pretty hard to screw this one up.

And lest I forget to mention it, there couldn't have been a better reason to have a reunion show. Meet J. Robbins: a member of crucial DC post-punk bands like Jawbox and Burning Airlines, an amazing producer who helped make The Plan what they would ultimately become (aka amazing), and the father of a very sick son. Callum Robbins has SMA, which is potentially life-threatening and not curable--at least not by conventional medicine. Being that J is an indie rock producer, he is not particularly rich, nor does he likely have the best insurance.

So what does the music community do? Everything they can to help someone who gave so much to them. Benefits were arranged in various parts of the nation featuring great acts like Ted Leo.
A benefit CD (buy it HERE) was put together featuring various indie rock bands, like Engine Down and Travis Morrison. His label even set up a paypal account to which concerned fans can donate. This--not well-manicured press shots--is punk rock. This is a community of musicians looking out for each other.

All that being said, the show began with NYC act Pilot To Gunner (left & center) and MD natives The Oranges Band (right). I've seen PTG before, and they put on a pretty solid indie rawk set, with yelping, ballsy rock much akin to the similarly acronymed PGMG (pretty girls make graves). The Oranges Band seemed a bit rough around the edges, and they kind of had the stage presence of Will Ferrell in Old School, but they surprised me with some super deluxe harmonies. I'm a sucker for harmonies. And it should be noted that one of their better songs was prefaced by admitting J Robbins suggested particularly tasty harmony choices.

And then The Plan took the stage.

None of my pictures capture the liveliness of the show. I was far too busy dancing and singing to really focus on photography. That is a decision I definitely do not regret. The show was a total party, and the songs sounded totally fresh. There were minor technical problems and occasional almost-rusty-sounding moments, but they were few, far-between, and absolutely forgivable. This was not The Eagles playing their greatest hits... again. This was full of life and energy; a new little improvisation here, a brief Beyonce cover there, and bouncing, innovative, tumultuous rock/dance/noise/post-punk/pop everywhere else.

There are a number of videos posted up on youtube from both reunion shows. If you are unfamiliar with the unforgettable experience of a Dismemberment Plan show, you should really check them out.

Note: While everyone was busy dancing madly on stage, a special guest secretly came and played drums. It seems The Plan still has friends in high places. Do you recognize this former tourmate (whose own "Plans" recently went gold)?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Menomena -- March 31, 2007

So the Rock and Roll Hotel is a relatively new venue in DC that's getting lots of hottt shows. There is some debate as to whether its existence is beneficial for the particular community in which it's located, but as a patron and participant in fine rock shows, I must admit I'm fond of the venue. This particular bill was listed as Menomena and Field Music, which are two bands I've only recently begun enjoying; so it looked to be a fresh experience if nothing else.

The opener for the evening was Land of Talk, who put on a solid if unspectacular show. They're the kind of band that, had they originated in your hometown you would be oh so proud of them, but when they come from someone else's hometown, they're just... well, pretty good. I always appreciate a female front-person in a rock band, as there are just not enough women in rock music these days; and Ms. Elizabeth Powell certainly rips up the guitar when she takes a lead. They've got a decent thing going, and if they just take some tips from their tourmates, perhaps they'll figure out a few more interesting ways to voice their songs and they'll win me over. I sure hope so. They've only got one record out so far, so there's plenty of time for them to develop.

Next was SUPPOSED to be Field Music. I was pretty dang dissappointed to find out they couldn't make it. Granted, it was because they had an offer to be on British TV, which they couldn't refuse. I understand. As a musician I would've done the same. HOWEVER, that doesn't fill the deep void that was and is my unmet expectations. I wish them the best and congratulate them on their wonderful opportunity, but they better come back. And soon.

Closing out the show was Menomena. By golly if they weren't impressive I don't know what is. Sometimes they might not have totally cohesive "songs," but the way they flesh out so many individual voices is amazing. Highlights included the lead singer playing baritone saxophone and foot keyboard at the same time, the gorgeous 3-part harmonies, the crazy drum breaks, the lead singer looping a bass guitar and playing tenor sax, the glockenspiel, and countless other perfectly well-played oddities. Everything somehow came together and they really pulled off a killer show. Sometimes I wanted more straight-up rock, but I'm ok with missing out on that in favor of so much unexpected innovation. I seriously recommend you go see them right now.

Oh, and their new record is pretty awesome with seriously killer cover art by award-winning graphic novelist Craig Thompson.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Wounded 3-10-07

The Wounded Bookshop -- March 10, 2007

The Selfsame (aka Peter Moses) opened the evening with crazy lights flashing, overdriven electronic drums, an acoustic guitar, and a somber voice. The set was moody and interesting, very full and ferocious sounding, particularly considering it was a solo act. Hailing from Brooklyn, Mr. Moses is clearly familiar with unusual music, but his use of acoustic guitar throws an unexpected familiarity into the mix that anchors the whole spectacle in solid songwriting.

Essie Jain and The Lost Americans (aka Patrick Glynn) played the next set together, filling out each others songs. It was a really clever setup that felt entirely natural and gave a very warm living room feel to the show. They were tastefully backed by Pete (The Selfsame) on the bass and Sean Walsh (also a great singer/songwriter, though he didn't perform that evening) on the drum set.

Patrick has a really great folky, alt-country style that's as dusty and intimate as an early Hank Williams tune, but less traditional, with a vocal delivery more akin to Jonathan Richman. There's a fantastic rough-hewn authenticity to his guitar playing that one might initially (and inaccurately) attribute to a lack of chops; that would be far from the truth. Patrick is spot-on, but with a restraint wholly necessary to his gruff, but good-natured music. Essie's voice is also a throwback. Classically trained, she has a vibrato and a vocal control not often heard in folk/rock music; yet she is clearly familiar with contemporary arrangements. Her songs are patiently and carefully crafted, drawing the most out of every well-wrought note.

Oppenheimer (Bar/None Records), an upbeat synth-pop duo from Ireland, followed up with a high-energy set that kept the kids dancing. I probably could've done without their use of air horn, but it certainly got the crowd's attention. I wasn't really able to get any good photos of them, but you can check out their video here.

My former bandmates Pash closed out the night with an expectedly explosive set: Erik spinning with his shiny DiPinto and everyone singing along with their Birthday Song, a revamped crowd-favorite (at their request, I even provided a few backup vocals). The show was well-received by long-time fans and youthful audience members alike.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Wounded Bookshop - 3/3/07

This show was great. Seriously.

My good friends Carlos, I'm Pregnant made their world debut and blew me away. It was their first show, yet they made far fewer mistakes than I did that night... and I've played a lot of shows. They are hugely influenced by the band Islands, going so far as to play a fantastic Unicorns cover. I was pretty jealous of their tasteful use of tambourine on several occasions. Oh, and if you recognize that bass, it's probably because I own it. If they ever get famous, I'll be happy to claim some small credit in their glorious rise to stardom through lending Jordan my instrument.

Anything Goes followed up with a classic rock set, rife with wah-wah pedals and tasty chops. As this was their second show ever, it was rather impressive as well. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures while they were playing; probably because I was scrambling to do whatever I could to aid my unhealthy voice before our set (gulping water, squeezing honey packets, squirting lime juice, etc.). Having a cold is not helpful in rock/roll. Still, I think my band, Tereu Tereu, followed up with a pretty solid set (aside from a few missteps on my part).

Statehood closed out the night with as much polyrhythmic action as an eccentric white boy could hope for. Joe and Eric (you may recognize them from the now disbanded dismemberment plan) comprise what is possibly the most fearsome backline of any indie band out there. Match that with Clark Sabine's angular guitar and intense, DC-style political vocals, and you've got a heck of a show. They're currently working their first official recording with fellow ex-d.plan member Jason Caddell, and I'm guessing it will be out sometime before 2008. We can only hope.

I considered posting more photos, but it wasn't really my best night, photography-wise. My excuse is that I was sick, but truthfully, I'm pretty hit-or-miss. In any case, my friend Ian took such amazing shots of the show that I'm going to strongly recommend you LOOK HERE.

p.s. The first photo up top is Adam preparing to rock. He is the bassist of Tereu Tereu, my housemate, and the one who set up the show. If you see him, ask him about Birdmonster.

More Junk - 2/28/07 - The Loft

I'm a little late on this one, but I thought I should post it anyways. I think I caught a glimpse of what makes up Jeremy, the saxophonist of Junk Science.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Stupid Camera

So I went to see Deerhoof and forgot my camera. Bah!
Deerhoof was very good, of course, with that crazy drummer and whatnot. I'm sure you either love them or have never heard of them. Either way, there's not too much for me to say.

The band Flying opened, and they were much neater than their name suggested. They used lots of interesting noisemakers and the lead singer looked and sounded just like Jack from Will and Grace (weird?).

However, I only feel obligated to post because the band The Harlem Shakes was so damn good. Catchy as hell, they combined the rawk of The Strokes with epic-qualities of The Arcade Fire and threw in some neat-o 50's doowop harmonies. I was blown away by their energy and their rocktastic tightness; everything I could've wanted from a rock show--including several clap-alongs. You should really listen for yourself.

<--[artistic representation of the joy produced by The Harlem Shakes]

Currently, they only have one 6-song EP out for sale, but it's great and you should buy it. If you missed them with Deerhoof, be sure and catch them rocking with Tapes 'n Tapes in April. Maybe someone (cough, cough) will remember their camera next time.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rasul The Nobody

On the evening of 2/9/07, my band played a benefit show along with a gospel choir, an african fusion group, and a local emo/indie band. Perhaps the most interesting act we shared the stage with was Rasul The Nobody. Apparently, he is the VA grand champion slam poet, rubs elbows with Beau Sia, and has supposedly crushed Sage Francis in a freestyle battle (a humiliated Mr. Francis requested that Rasul remove the video from youtube, otherwise I would post a link). He dropped everyone's collective jaw when he busted out his blazingly quick and ferocious freestyle madness over-top a live drummer; he drops more syllables in a minute than Bush drops bombs in a... well, who really knows. The point is: Def Poetry Jam better listen up, Rasul is on fie-ah.

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