Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Grizzly Bear's First In-Store @ Good Records

Grizzly Bear played their first ever in-store performance tonight at Good Records. Their was a little bit of a discrepancy as to whether or not it was their first between multi-instrumentalist Chris Taylor and vocalist Ed Droste, but they ultimately came to the conclusion that it was. The first song the quartet from Brooklyn played was Easier, which just so happens to be the first song off of their most recent album Yellow House. Chris began the song by layering his flute with loops, played one note at a time, and then the rest of the band added their amazing harmonies to the song. It was quite a humbling experience to see the band perform a very stripped down set without ever having seen them fully plugged. A driving factor behind the acoustic set was how they incorporated their vocals into the songs and it was an excellent way to showcase their beautiful harmonies.

The band also played another Yellow House favorite of mine, Plans. The whistling on the song was another thing that stood out even more so than it does on the album. I was particularly amazed that they could get their tones to match up. Whistling is harder than it may seem. Also,
the way that percussionist Christopher Bear controlled the one floor tom he played on was exceptional. The band broke out an older song off of their first album, Horn of Plenty, entitled Service Bell. The older song fit right in with their new material, which isn't always an easy thing to pull off. It was good to hear.

To my surprise, the band played Knife, the song that has garnered the most immediate attention off of Yellow House. Again, the layering and harmonizing of the vocals stood out a great deal. I was certain that the band would opt for a different song, but they surprised. They could easily perform with no instruments and show a different side of themselves all together. Sometimes, when a band gets as much hype as this one has, you can't help but wonder if the hype doesn't merit the kind of attention it gathers, but with Grizzly Bear, it does. If you haven't been sucked in by now, it would certainly be a good time to start.

The last song of the show was performed solo by guitarist Daniel Rossen. He played an amazingly stirring version of On a Neck, On a Spit. The other members of the band just took seats near the stage and watched Daniel play the song. The way he played the song made you think that it was the way it was originally heard. The recording of the show will probably posted online sometime soon by either Gorilla Vs. Bear or Lullabyes. Here are three of the songs:

(Videos: Rye Clifton and David Bartholow)

Thanks to Good Records and Gorilla Vs. Bear for making it all happen.

(Photos copyright Trent Lesikar 2007)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Midlake, St. Vincent, and Tacks the Boy Disaster Photos and Review

This past Saturday, North Texas native favorites Midlake headlined at the Granada Theater to a tumultuous crowd of scenesters, frat boys, children and the elderly, supported by the local(ish) Tacks the Boy Disaster as well as the near to home and near to heart St. Vincent. If you happened to be at the show and still can’t manage to muster any Texas pride, then I just don’t know what’s wrong with the world (or maybe it’s just you).

At the top of the “Why I’m Proud of My Local Music Scene” list is the venerable Granada Theater. How refreshing to have venue staff actually dispense information rather than just insults and odor. Barring the nearly-ridiculous stage height (which proved a non-deterrent to one ardent and inebriated “fan,” as he awkwardly made his way up and onto the lip of the stage, where he firmly planted himself for a calm moment), the Granada Theater provides both the most visually stimulating and artistically welcoming environment among almost all of the D/FW venues, and above all, delivers an outstanding audio show, which is why I go in the first place.

Following right after on the “Why I’m Proud…” list would be all the actual good bands that come from around here (Midlake, St. Vincent, Poly Spree, New Frontiers, Happy Bullets, Theater Fire, etc etc etc.) Sure, it’s great having your favorite national act come through, and grace your humble local venue with their presence, if for only a couple of hours. Still, that can’t touch the feeling of seeing musicians family members in the crowd, or of watching the band members mingle in the crowd, catching up with old friends, or of a packed crowd of folks who, by nature of location, all share the same stories and experiences with those seven or eight people that populate the stage. It’s a good thing. Coupled with superb musicianship, you have yourself the formula for a dynamite evening. I’ve calculated that over the last six months, I’ve been to over 25 shows; 4.16 shows a month. For the reasons stated above, this was one of my favorite.

St Vincent was stunning, absolutely. After a marriage proposal to anyone named John (which happens to be MY NAME) and only six songs, she stole both my heart and my musical confidence, but don’t fret, I hope to win back both soon. Her best line? Concerning the Trials of Van Occupanther “I want to transfer it into a liquid and drink it and get drunk with all of you.”

Tacks the Boy Disaster were a wonderful compliment to the foundation set by St. Vincent and to the Midlake performance that would later cap of the night. Being in a band that I would gauge somewhat similar to the Boy Disasters themselves, throughout their performance I was constantly tossing between “Wow, I could totally be up there on stage right now,” and “Man, those guys are way out my league.” The verdict landed somewhere in the middle, but more on the “out of my league” side of things, for sure.

Last, Midlake. Allow me to reminisce for a moment: I saw Midlake with Radiant, The Hourly Radio, and many many more local acts at the exact same venue nearly three or more years ago. Converse to this performance, that concert was odiously long, and unfortunately unattended by most, with an uncomfortable amount of elbowroom for a concert. Similarly disappointing at that time was Midlake, supporting Bamnan and Silvercork, who were all but engaging, leaving me to spend most of my time during that show with a craned neck, watching what amounted to a multimedia presentation with a live soundtrack. Granted, I was unfamiliar with both the album and the band and again, it was a terribly long concert. Fast-forward to this past Saturday, and you can hardly believe they are the same people. The musical precision and genius is still there, but now, instead of everyone facing outward, towards their respective synth stations, everyone is eyes out, up front, addressing the 1000+ fans, all of whom know each word off of both the new and old albums. They make small talk and banter with hecklers in the crowd. Best line?
Right before playing a brand new song, an audience member belted out a request,


to which Midlake’s lead-singer Tim Smith replied,

“Did someone yell ‘Stonecutter’? I already played that. ‘Stonecutter’s’ not even the name of the song. Don’t you remember?”

Here he dons a mock southern rock persona,

Stonecutters…Made them…From Stoooone!”

(note: that man continued to yell “STONECUTTER” the entire evening)

After 13 songs that nearly covered the entire “Van Occupanther” album track for track, Midlake said their goodbyes, snapped a photo, and made their way off stage. At this rate or improvement, all one can do is wait patiently for the next incarnation of Granada-Midlake performances. I’m predicting bunny suits, confetti, and giant plastic crowd surfing balls, but I could be wrong.


We Gathered in Spring
Van Occupanther
In This Camp
Balloon Maker
Children of the Grounds
Young Bride
Chasing After Deer
Head Home


It Covers the Hillside

written by: John Thompson

Hey everyone! I'm very excited to let you know that some of the photos have been featured on Worlds-Fair's (Midlake's label) website. I just thought I'd let you know.



Saturday, February 24, 2007

Midlake Plays Local Homecoming Dance at St. Vincent's School for Boy Disasters

Local rising stars Midlake are playing their first local show in a while (we say local even though Denton is still a ways up the road from Dallas). Let's hope that our guest list position works out better than it did last time so we can still provide you all with photos from the show. We trust that it will. Local girl and Polyphonic Spree member St. Vincent will be opening up for the band. This is her last show playing in support of Midlake. Also, Tacks, the boy disaster will also be opening up for the band. Tacks features Midlake founder Evan Jacobs. Funny thing, he's also in the Polyphonic Spree. I can feel a Kevin Bacon-esque game coming on...

The doors of The Granada Theater are set to open at 8, which means that the music probably won't get started until around 9, which also means that this one is going to be long! I hope you got enough sleep last night!

If you're in Dallas early enough before the show, Tacks will also be playing an in-store at Good Records around 3pm. You can pick up some of their music, along with Midlake's "Trials of Van Occupanther (on our collective best of 2006). St. Vincent has an album set for release in spring of this year so you'll just have to be patient. Maybe she will be selling some EPs at the show tonight?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Indie-boppers run amuck throughout the streets OF MONTREAL, mounties and elite Japanese fighting force, ELEKIBASS, called in to restore peace.

This past Sunday evening, the indie-pop quintet from Athens, GA, Of Montreal, played to a riveted and rambunctious crowd of underage scenesters at local bane-and-blessing venue, the Gypsy Tearoom. Opening for them was the delightful and slightly enigmatic Elekibass, a seven piece band of doo-wop rockers hailing from Japan.

By far, Elekibass was one of, if not the most refreshing opening band I've had the pleasure of catching in a very long time. Compounded with the fact that I had the initial intention of not enjoying the opener, due to the fact that I had been waiting in line for hours now and our press passes had been dropped somewhere along the line, leaving Trent and myself red-faced at the ticket counter (yet another tally on the long list of discrepancies with the Gypsy staff), Elekibass miraculously found a way to truly lift my spirits with their light hearted, well rehearsed and winsome rhythms and harmonies, not to mention their crack up stage antics. Some highlights of their set included the lead singer addressing the crowd,
"Sorry, I . . . cannot speak English . . . but my music is . . . . (here, someone from the crowd yells 'AWESOME!', to which the lead singer replies) YEEES!!!!"

However, the pinnacle and show stopper moment had to be when a item sitting on stage, draped in a black cloth was dramatically reveled to be none other than a robotic Santa Claus, dancing while sporting a green Elekibass tee, at which the lead singer screamed, "Newest member Elekibass, Santa Claus!" (pronounced "Santa Clothes"). All of the members, Sans-Santa, were decked out in what looked like the aftermath of a high school formal, three piece suits and all, give or take a piece. After some a capella moments, some jaunts over to the bar, where some impromptu songs were performed to the bemusement of the entire crowd, and many many solos from each member of the band (including the clarinetists riveting performance on the toothbrush and gargle) Elekibass triumphantly ended their set with a song that had as many endings as there were ovations to be had ("One more time!" the lead singer would yell, to the great joy of the crowd, who soon took up the cry in his absence).

That left us with Of Montreal, the headliner, and the reason for the evening.

To say that I was only mildly surprised by the stage presence (and attire) of each member would be far understating my true reaction. After having seen Keven Barnes solo at the Good Records in-store earlier that day, I expected a timid, goofy frontman to take the stage quietly with his backing band politely adding texture and depths to his intimate ballads. Instead, to the piercing screams of the mostly indie-bopper populated crowd, the lead guitarist Bryan Poole (a.k.a. The Late B.P. Helium) strolled on stage with two foot angel wings, a six foot long scarf, t-shirt with netted vest, and mutton chops to make Neil Young envious, followed by the bassist Matt Dawson, fitted out with a silver sequin sports coat and cheek-defining daubs of makeup. Ms. Dottie Alexander, the keyboardist extraordinaire, was similarly sporting sequins, in a Vegas style frilly short dress, while James Huggins, who seemed to play just about anything he could get his hands on, opted instead to try for a more Shakespearean sort of chique, which he later duped for a sort of biker meets 17th century look. All of these costumes, however fantastic, palled in comparison to Kevin Barnes, who was a Glam-Rock tour de force, changing outfits a total of four times during the approx. 90 minuted show, with outfits ranging from fishnets to a bare chested suspenders, Daisey dukes, and more, all of which were sequined and all a little disturbing/endearing. Most memorable costume would have to be Kevin Barnes' silver and day-glo mu mu, complete with complimenting feathery hat and ladder, which Barnes climbed and on which the mu mu was draped, affecting the look of a giant martian-esque person in drag, crooning "Grolandic Edit."

I'm not too keen on bravado and ego-antics, but I felt at peace with the fact that the members of Of Montreal weren't just dressing up to get a laugh, or to shock and awe, but instead wore what they wore and acted how they acted because their music merited such costumes and craziness. Their sound was tight, succinct, and ultimately worth allowing myself to be tossed about on a sea of pubescent high-school scenesters.

After the show, Trent, Elijah and I stumbled through the crowd, exhausted, and desiring nothing more (not even Cafe Brazil) than to just get home and get to bed. To our bewilderment, when we finally glanced at a clock, instead of reading the expected 1:30 am, it said 11:30 pm! Which just goes to show, rock and roll is hard work, or at least, rock and roll journalism is. Check back soon for photos from the show, as well as more and more concert reviews. Also, check out Lullabyes.net's post of recording from the ENTIRE Of Montreal set.