Idiot Glee @ Al’s Bar 10.13.10

Wednesday was the difference between “think” and “know” for me. On Tuesday I thought Idiot Glee was great — his show Wednesday proved it to be fact. Believe it or not, that was my first time seeing James play live as Idiot Glee. He seems to be playing every two weeks in Lexington, but I’m just always in the wrong place at the wrong time. But after catching that show, it’s apparent that I’m going to have to start making time for Idiot Glee. We all are.

MP3: Idiot Glee – All Packed Up

Let me tell you what really convinced me, though. It wasn’t “All Packed Up” or his cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Those local hits are great, but not what did it. The first was “Trouble at the Dancehall,” a new track whose sampled riff he described as sounding like a “snake charmer.” Of all his great songs, that one might be my favorite. The next was a track I’d never heard before that was one of the best of the night. Making that great of an impression with an unheard track is a really great sign. No wonder he made such waves opening for Women in Europe.

To close, James was joined by Women to play “Don’t Drink the Water.” It was great to get a preview of what he’ll sound like with a full band at our Halloween party — except, you know, playing Fleewood Mac covers…

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Deerhoof @ Northside Tavern 10.6.10

Well, that’s it. I can no longer tell story after story about my near misses in my attempts to see Deerhoof in the 5+ years that I’ve been a fan. And while it was worth the wait, it’s not a drought I’m looking to repeat. They’re just too much fun to go without seeing for too long.

Let me start with the only downer: the setlist was pretty dry on my favorite Deerhoof songs. It was, however, peppered with treats that I didn’t think we’d get. They did two covers, “Let’s Dance the Jet” from their upcoming record Deerhoof vs Evil and a take on the Ramones’ “Pinhead.” But as for my favorite tracks off Apple O or Milk Man, they were few and far between. Still it’s really hard to say that Deerhoof have any boring songs. Even the ones that weren’t my favorite were totally and completely rad. Satomi, Greg, John and Ed are a really tight, but strangely loose machine.

One of my favorite moments of the show was when the girl behind me was trying so hard to dance along to the set-opening “Panda Panda Panda.” And no, super-nice couple that I met and hung out with before the show, I don’t mean you. I mean the girl who pushed her way up and was determined to try and dance no matter what jazzy freakout Ed, John and Greg came up with. It was pretty funny and very awesome.

Greg was also a delight. I’d interviewed him before (pt 1 | pt 2) and knew him to be a chatty, upbeat guy. Turns out he’s pretty much the same on stage. Though he didn’t have a microphone behind the drums, every couple songs he’d stand up and take a mic and talk about how great the crowd was or the few times they’d played the KY/OH area or the new song (!!) that they’d only played once or twice before. It was awkward, what with the standing up from the drums and people always shouting “Hey Greg!,” but it was pretty endearing.

All in all it was a great show (and free!). Now I’m more convinced than ever of two things: Deerhoof are a great live band and I can’t wait five more years to see them again!

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Xiu Xiu @ Northside Tavern 10.6.10

Seeing Xiu Xiu at the Northside Taverns was one of those moments where you want to slap yourself in the face for all the time in your life that you weren’t listening to Xiu Xiu. I was loosely familiar with Jamie Stewart’s work starting from around the time that Fabulous Muscles was getting a lot of attention, but their show on Wednesday blew to dust everything I thought I knew about Xiu Xiu.

First of all, there was nothing “weird” about Xiu Xiu’s show. Yeah, there were a lot of atypical instruments (including a great moment with a Nintendo DS — more on that later) but nothing that would even come close to a performer that was trying to distance himself from the audience or be off-putting (which is truthfully what I kind of expected). No, from the Sufjan-esque tenderness of some of the slower songs to the raw power of the guitar rocking ones, this was a show that did all it could to draw me in.

Unfortunately I don’t really know the names of most of the songs Xiu Xiu played that night. “Gray Death” I was able to google thanks to the memorable line “you expect me to be outrageous, I will be extra outrageous,” but the rest were kind of a blur. The only one I knew well was “I Luv the Valley OH!” which got a great treatment with a Nintendo DS. I missed the memorable guitar chords, but that was a great way to breathe novelty and life into a classic song.

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Of Montreal @ the Madison Theater 9.21.10

The last time I saw Of Montreal, I credited them with delivering what was for them a very stripped-down, simple show. This time I’ve got to laud them for doing the exact opposite. Of Montreal’s False Priest tour is far and away the most intricate, unbelievable show I’ve ever seen a band put together.

MP3: Of Montreal – Coquet Coquette

I’ve got to say that one of my least favorite things about writing about an Of Montreal show is knowing that I’ll eventually have to recap all the crazy things I saw. Part of me feels like these photos show you what happened, so why bother reporting on it? But another part says that these photos show things that make no sense without context (and then also continue to make very little sense). So I’ll do what I normally do: comment on what I found interesting and fantastic.

There was one moment in Of Montreal’s show where, after accidentally seducing a person dressed up as a lady pig away from her man pig lover, Kevin Barnes sang a song while acting out having sex with the lady pig as her boyfriend looks on in despair. At that point I asked myself “is he really pretending to hump that pig on stage?” — followed shortly by the equally sensible question “Is that really that unusual for an Of Montreal show?” After all the crazy things I’ve seen at their shows, that was really only a little more odd than normal.

Easily the best moment of the show was when Kevin left the stage and the helpers rolled out a large video screen, decorated to make it look like an old vintage TV. Then once the “skull kids” sat around it like you might for Saturday morning cartoons, it clicked on, showing a live feed of Kevin playing a piano cover of Sibylle Baier’s “Tonight” in the backstage area. I’d never seen anything like it at a show before and absolutely loved it. It was practical (for the stage show), it was beautiful and it made a packed show feel deeply intimate.

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Janelle Monae @ the Madison Theater 9.21.10

As I tried unsuccessfully to send in a tweet the night of this show, Janelle Monae’s performance made me realize how lucky we are to be young and/or alive in 2010. Yeah, we might have missed James Brown, Otis Redding and a ton of other great musicians, but we get to experience an even wider variety of acts so forward-thinking that they just might be crazy. And even though she blew my mind at Bonnaroo 2009, she managed to be even better this year.

Janelle started off with what looked like the intro to a Sunn0))) show — everyone hiding their faces in black robes. But that quickly exploded into a funky space-age R&B set. Really the closest thing to her show that I can give you is Robyn. They’re both quirky, jaw-dropping dancers who love to prowl the stage. And while I really can’t chose a favorite between them, I might have to give Ms. Monae the edge.

Now let me address her only low point: her setlist arrangement. She started off with a high-energy banger, but then immediately went into a slow song. Janelle, you gotta save that one for halfway or even 2/3 of the way through. Then she wound up saving all of her best, most popular songs for the very, very end. Sure, her show wasn’t lacking in great songs, but I’d space out the ones that will get the crowd going from the very first chord.

But once she got us going, it really never stopped. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Tightrope” land very, very high on my year-end list of songs. It’s fantastic on record and perfect live. Then to end with “Come Alive” was really just icing on an already delicious cake. And yes, Kevin did come out to sing with Janelle, but “Make the Bus” was never even close to one of my favorite songs so it was a treat, but still a little flat.

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Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings @ Buster’s 9.17.10

Sharon Jones’ show should come with a warning. Because you might think that you’ve been going to see some good shows lately — the newest buzz bands, the best reformed underground psych bands, or just really solid touring acts — but you haven’t. No, unless you’re regularly seeing Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, you haven’t been seeing much of anything.

Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to oldies or maybe it’s my Otis Redding-loving father’s influence, but I think 60s/70s R&B is just about as good as it gets. And call me crazy, but it seems that Sharon Jones would agree. Her show had all the elements you should take away from old concerts and live recordings of Otis Redding, the Ike & Tina Revue and a dozen other great bands. They had a long instrumental introduction wherein the guitarist of the Dap-Kings warmed us up before Sharon came out, then she later did a long medley of classic R&B dances, and — most important of all — she had an incredibly tight group and a commanding stage presence.

So really, I don’t know what else to say other than “she was incredible.” The songs I didn’t know, I loved, and the ones I did know, I loved even more. Jim James from My Morning Jacket was there and that made me worry that he might get on stage with her and it might kill me. But luckily I survived the night, because it was Sharon Jones and the Dap-King’s time to shine.

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[Boomslang] Thee American Revolution @ Buster’s 9.11.10

It’s been too long since I saw Thee American Revolution play a show. I think they’ve had one or two in Lexington during the past few years, but I haven’t seen them in quite a long time. And really, it’s a shame. TAR are like a live concert treat. Robert, Craig and John are in it to play some heavy psych riffs and just have a good time. And really, after seeing a bunch of impenetrable shows, it’s nice to get to relax with a good, fun show. Thanks, Robert.

[Boomslang] the Seedy Seeds @ Buster’s 9.11.10

I had no idea that the Seedy Seeds were performing in the Buster’s parking lot until I showed up for the Death show. But as I wandered toward the door, I realized the trio on stage outside was the Seedy Seeds — a group I’ve inexplicably never seen before. I’d been told that they were good live, but they were way better than I expected!

I don’t know that many of the Seedy Seeds’ songs, but I loved whatever one they were doing when I showed up. They’re just the right amount of folksy, cutesy and melodic. The one I loved and DO remember the name of was the “Coyote Song.” They closed with it and it was just perfect. I’ve got to catch the Seedy Seeds again – which shouldn’t be too hard, given that they’re in Lexington at least once a month.

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