Sigur Rós @ The Palace, Louisville, KY 2.17.06

There’s a directing technieque known as “bookending,” in which the image that starts a movie is paralleled by the one that ends it. Not only does this unite the movie by ending on the same note on which it began, but it also gives a sense of closure and emotional appeal. While I doubt Sigur Ros dabble in directing, they seem to use a similar approach with their live show.

Sigur Ros took the stage amid a subtle light effect that was projected onto a screen that separated them from us. The band played through a heartwrenchingly beautiful version of “Glosoli” with the audience only able to see shadows on the screen. It wasn’t until after the applause died down that the audience got their first glimpse of the Islandic superheros. This could not have been a more fitting way to start. Their concert seemed to focus more on the experience of the show, rather than the members themselves. So not only did the screen provide for a good visual effect, but it put the audience’s perspective on the music and the show, rather than on the people in the band.

Another interesting thing about Sigur Ros’ show is the difference between “knowledge” and “understanding.” Before walking into the Palace, I knew that one man was responsible for the otherworldly vocals of Sigur Ros. But to see him sing was something else entirely. About halfway through the show, I realized that I had always pictured Takk… as having been written and performed by an angelic choir. I also knew that Jónsi, the band’s lead singer, played his guitar with a cello bow. But to see him do it with such passion and fury has he does on stage is a completely different experience. For the most part, he was as steady and smooth as a metronome; but that quickly changed into violent thrusts as the songs got more energetic.

As their main set wound to a close, the band transformed into an explosion of sound. Goggi, the band’s bassist, played his instrument with a drumstick; while Jonsi repeatedly bashed the strings of his guitar with his bow. While his guitar appeared none the worse for wear, some of his bow’s strings frayed or broke off. Eventually the band walked off stage, leaving Jonsi hunched over his guitar, broken bow in hand. As he left the stage, the Palace erupted in a sea of applause and cheers. A handful of people yelled out “Takk!” (Iclandic for “thanks”–and the name of the band’s last album), while most were content to clap.

As I said before, Sigur Ros were all about the drama and spectacle of their live show. Part of this manifested itself in their wait to come back for an encore, but most of it was shown through their actual closing performance. Sigur Ros’ encore lasted longer than some entire sets. All told, it was about half an hour, and ranged from grand spectacles to quiet ballads. For two songs, they brought out a foot-powered pump organ and said goodbye to their female stringed mini-orchestra that had spent most of the concert behind them.

For the final number, the screen once again descended between the audience and the band. Besides framing the concert nicely, this also allowed the audience to focus on the amazing sound reaching our ears, rather than being distracted by trying to see the band. So while I saw this as a fitting “bookend” to their concert, I couldn’t have guessed as to how they would top the rest of the show.

The band’s final song, “Popplagið,” was everything that you’d imagine a Sigur Ros concert-closing song would be. I honestly believe that each member left their entire being on the stage that night. Each of them were focused intently on their instrument, but conscious of the feel of the song. After crescendoing into one of the most memorable concert experiences of my life, it was abruptly over. The End.

As the audience flooded out into the cold, cold night, I realized that there was something supremely amazing about what we’d just witnessed. I saw people laughing, some people looked like they had been crying, and I gave and received more than my fair share of hugs. Sigur Ros, a band that spoke no english while on stage, had caused an emotional reaction this strong in thousands of complete strangers. I guess that’s what’s so mythical about them. No one had any idea what they were saying–but everyone understood exactly what they meant.

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We Are Scientists – 11.6.05 @ Jillians, Louisville, KY

Ever notice how some of the most powerful things in nature seem to take only a very short amount of time? Well the show put on by We Are Scientists at Jillians’ was no different. Much in the manner of a bolt of lightning, or shark bite, these three lads from Brooklyn let loose a tremendous amount of energy very, very quickly.

If comparing We Are Scientists to a force of nature sounds a bit extreme, then you’ve obviously never seen their live show. Lead singer/guitarist Keith Murray is without a doubt the most energetic, passionate frontman that I’ve ever seen. His signature guitar sound and heartfelt vocals were matched only by his amazing stage presence. But it wasn’t a one man show; drummer Michael Tapper and bassist Chris Cain were a vital part of the mix as well. In fact, I think it might have been the rhythm section that won over most of the audience.

From the very get-go, the band was rushed. They arrived twenty minutes late and were forced to cut four songs from their setlist. However, the result was strangely fitting and highly impressive. Maybe it was the urgent need to squeeze out five songs, or their naturally electric personalities; but they definetely played like their lives depended on it. Probably the only pauses that the band took were for for lead singer, Keith, to wipe his sweat-drenched hair from his eyes before launching into their next song.

Due to their shortened setlist, some amazing songs had to be cut out. Thankfully for We Are Scientists, their catalogue is full of them. Older fan favorites like “This Scene is Dead” gave the audience a great introduction into their pop side, right before being rocked by the new hit, “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt.” Since the song has been getting its well-deserved airplay on MTVu, it was no surprise to see that a lot of the crowd seemed familiar with the tune. But even their material which hasn’t yet been featured on MTV, such as the bass-heavy song “Inaction,” managed to move even the most sceptical of the audience.

It has been noted in several British publications that We Are Scientists have become a moderately-sized hit in the UK, but still remain virtually unknown in their home country. Well if the audience’s reaction to their Louisville show was any indication, this might not be the case for very long. In fact, the front row was a unique blend of teenage girls and twenty-something college elitists – but both groups seemed united in their acceptance of We Are Scientists. Maybe that’s what makes them so special. You don’t have to be an indie snob or a teenybopper to appreciate them. All you need is an ear for good music, and a butt for shaking.

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PHOTOS: WAS01 | WAS02 | WAS03 | WAS04 | WAS05 | WAS06 | WAS07 | WAS08 | WAS09 | WAS10 | WAS11 | WAS12 | WAS13 | WAS14 | WAS15 | WAS16 | WAS17 | WAS18 | WAS19 | Me and WAS

We Are Scientists’s Official Website
We Are Scientists on Myspace

My friends and I got to take Keith to Taco Bell after they got done playing. We missed the Redwalls, but hey…it’s Keith and it’s Taco Bell. I’d miss my own wedding for Taco Bell.

VHS or Beta @ The Dame 10.8.05

VHS or Beta absolutely slayed the sold-out crowd at The Dame. With an excellent opening act by The Parlour Boys (post coming on them once I get some mp3s), this might have been my favorite Dame show since Clem Snide/Marbles. The only standout information of the show I have is that:

  • it was one of the VHS or Beta guys’ birthdays
  • they did a cool lead-in to “Night On Fire” that has raised the bar for every dance-punk band I’ll ever see
  • girls (and a guy?) jumped on stage and danced along during their encore song

    More VHS or Beta pictures: VHSoB01 | VHSoB02 | VHSoB03

    MP3: VHS or Beta – Night on Fire

    So this post over at Brooklyn Vegan got me thinking about my favorite venues in Lexington. You know, I guess I’d have to give it to The Dame. I don’t really like seated venues, so all the UK theaters are out. In addition, the raised stage is a must. I saw Holopaw play at this loft called Underlying Themes, and I realized that I don’t really like to be eye to eye with the band. I guess that really only leaves Quest Community Church and The Dame. Even though Quest DID bring Bishop Allen, I’ve still got to lean more towards The Dame. Also, it helps that I “work” there.

  • The New Pornographers @ Southgate House 10.7.05

    If the New Pornographers show at the Southgate House wasn’t sold out, it was darn close. From the people who rocked out in the back to the loyalists in the front, those in attendance were clearly enjoying themselves. And why shouldn’t they be? The New Pornographers were wrapping up their tour in support of Twin Cinema, and are probably one of the best acts out there.

    After some amazing performances from Immaculate Machine and Destroyer (Dan Bejar doesn’t believe in talking, apparently), The Pornographers took the stage. For a band who has been criss-crossing the continent for weeks, they looked pretty well. I’ve seen some bands that are visably worn down by the time they make it to Kentucky (ex: Sufjan Stephens).

    From the very get-go, the band seemed dead set on making this the best show of their audience’s lives. In a move that frankly surprised me, they opened with their new hits “Twin Cinema” and “Use It” back to back. I guess they figured they’d knock out their expected tunes from the new album before launching into the older classics. I’ve gotta tell ya, hearing “Mass Romantic” live is definetely up there with my favorite concert memories.

    The weird thing about seeing The New Pornographers is that even though there were seven or eight on stage at any given point (Dan Bejar alternated between being on and off stage), each of them managed to connect with the audience. Between Carl Newman’s sly grins and Neko Case’s between-song banter, the Pornographers did a great job relating to their crowd.

    But what impressed me the most about The New Pornographers wasn’t their great setlist or onstage presence, but rather that they seemed to be thrilled to be performing. It’s been a long time since I saw a band do two encores AND take requests from the crowd. It was refreshing to see a band that was happy to perform, and thankful for every minute they were on the stage.

    The New Pornographers’ Official Website

    Video coming eventually.

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    Dressy Bessy @ The Dame, 9/20/05

    Indie rock has never been about being cool. But while the members of Dressy Bessy might be a bit shy or occasionally awkward off the stage, once they picked up their instruments, every trace of their nerdy alter-egos was gone. Throughout the night, lead singer Tammy Ealom would alternate between acting like a sugary-sweet schoolgirl, and hard-hitting Rock Goddess. In a way, that’s the duality of Dressy Bessy – a band that’ll charm your pants off, then knock your socks off.

    As has been the norm in Lexington as of late, Dressy Bessy’s audience was steeped in as much rock history as the band they came to see. Ben Allen (of local heros, The Elephants) danced his goofy dance alongside Robert Schneider of the Apples in stereo. But more than anything, the mass of hipsters in attendance seemed to be completely entranced by the members of Dressy Bessy. From the goofy smiles and expert guitar work of John Hill, to Tammy Ealom’s cute grins and leg kicks, each member brought something to the table.

    While not an expert on Dressy Bessy’s discography, I was more than happy with their setlist for the night. Newer hits from Electrified fit nicely alongside their classic counterparts. Let me tell you, songs like “Side 2” are even more fun in person. It’s very rare that the elitest hipster crowd will bust a move, but a combination of alcohol and pop tunes managed to shake most of the butts in attendance. Also, Dressy Bessy put on a wonderful performance of “Who’d Stop The Rain.” I’d never really noticed it before, but Rob Greene’s excellent bass work really makes that track what it is.

    The only bad thing that I can say about Dressy Bessy’s performance is this: I’d never seen them before, but I knew exactly what to expect. Their concert was a straight-forward rock/pop, with no real curve balls thrown to the audience. I’m a little sorry to say that they fell to a minor form of the “sounded exactly like they do on the record” disease. However, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and guess that they were tired because they just spent the past couple months on the road in tour of a spectacular album.

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    WMV: Dressy Bessy – Lexington, 9.26.05 – Just One More

    Apples in stereo – Lexington, KY 9/1/05

    As is the case with most small town bars, the walls of Busters are a graveyard for fliers of bands long since passed. In a way, they’re a modern day war memorial for the independent music scene – even after the bands have broken up or moved on, their mark has been left. So many local acts are a brief flash of brillance, often left with nothing more to show for it than years old posters in some local dive.

    It was those ghosts of bands long since passed that peered over the shoulder of The Apples in stereo as they took the stage in a small bar in Lexington, Kentucky. The audience was comprised mainly of friends of the band and other assorted locals. And sandwiched between the locals and the tombstone wall was one of the most important bands in recent memory. But their show Thursday night at Buster’s was more like a getting-back-on-the-horse concert for a band that hasn’t released an album in three years. Even so, aside from a couple of false starts, you would never have guessed that the band ever took a hiatus or that they were performing all new songs. That’s right, I said all new songs.

    If the Apples in stereo playing a hometown show in an intimate venue with a setlist comprised of almost entirely of new songs doesn’t sound like a hipster’s wet dream, then I don’t know what does. From the time he entered the bar right up until they took the stage, frontman Robert Schneider carried around a small, ruffled notebook filled with unreleased material. Occasionally during the set, he’d lean over to wipe the sweat from his brow and see what goodies had yet to be played.

    One of the most important things about a band’s live show is how well they come together as a group. For a band with two members in Lexington and the other half in Denver, the Apples seemed surprisingly cohesive. Occasionally Robert would have to remind John (guitarist) or Eric (bass) how to play one of their new songs, but even those pauses didn’t detract from the overall quality of their performance.

    Of the six or so new songs debuted at Busters, none failed to win the support of the small, but appreciative audience. Some were reflective of the poppier side of the Apples; while others were a crunching, rocking slap to the face. While some songs had already been played by Robert on his solo tours (“Skyway”), the ink in his notebook probably hadn’t dried on most of them. But you wouldn’t have known it to listen to them perform. Robert didn’t miss a note or a lyric, and the band never lacked anything either.

    In the final notes of the last new song, one of the fans yelled out that the television over the bar was playing the HP ad featuring the Apples’ song “The Rainbow.” After noticing the strange coincidence, the band quickly jumped into a rocking rendition of the very same song. Seeing the Apples in stereo both on the stage and on television at the same moment was almost as if the universe had folded in on itself and for one brief second was a perfect place. But never the ones to end that quickly, the band didn’t even paused long enough to let the feedback die down before jumping into a strung-out performance of “Strawberryfire.”

    If nothing else, The Apples in stereo’s show captured a band still in their prime – but uncertain about their place in history. In a few short days, the band will travel to New York City to start recording on what could be their greatest album yet. Or it could be the last chapter in the story of an amazing group of people. But amid the the uncertain future of the Apples in stereo, one thing is clear: those four people left the bar that night feeling every bit as elated as the audience they’d just thrilled. And trust me, “cloud nine” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

    The Apples in stereo’s official site
    More reading on the Apples
    E6 Townhall

    WMV: The Apples in stereo – 9-1-05 Lexington, KY – The Rainbow & Strawberryfire

    MP3: Robert Schneider – Skyway

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    This Might Be a Concert Review:They Might Be Giants – Danville, KY April 8th 2005

    They Might Be Giants
    Oh wow. Ever have one of those moments where you realize that something had been missing from your life, but you never noticed it? I had that moment today at 9pm in Danville, Kentucky. They Might Be Giants put on an entertaining and hilarious show. Let me explain to you the level of rock that went on – I actually danced. Sure it was awkward and probably looked like a full body dry heave, but I was moved by the music.

    I know I’ve said this before, but I was a TMBG fan at an early age. I saw them on Tiny Toons and was instantly hooked. I managed to find a copy of said music videos here (Istanbul) and here (Particle Man). I talked to some other people there and it turns out I wasn’t the only one who was drawn in by a dancing duck. Thankfully I don’t have to hide my secret any more.

    But anyways, let’s get down to business. I was ready for They Might Be Giants to be drunk, suck and let me down completely. Now, thankfully that isn’t what happened. In fact, they put on the most fun show that I’ve yet attended. There was audience participation (Drink!), instructions (“The Wave”) and sing alongs (Freebird?) Not only that, but they were hilarious. At one point John wasn’t ready for the song to start and said the “s word.” But then explained that it stood for “Stop Hitting Instruments Together” They were quite the comedians.

    If I may make one more admission, I’d like to confess something. I’m really only familiar with Flood, Lincoln, Apollo 18, Mink Car and some random mp3s that I’ve downloaded. Now, while I know every word to those albums, let me say that that isn’t even close to the full discography of the Giants. So I was ready to be confused and not get to sing along to anything. I fully expected them not to play Particle Man or Istanbul because, well, everyone wanted them too. I know a lot of bands resent having fans yell out for their old material, so I kept my trap shut. But yet, I was rewarded for it. They not only played those two songs, but also treated us to thrilling renditions of Dr. Worm and Birdhouse in Your Soul, which was my favorite of the night.

    All in all, They Might Be Giants had amazing on-stage chemistry that captured the fun and live that’s present in their albums. The Johns were great and had no sign of wear after their 20+ years-long career. I highly suggest that if you get the chance to check out their live show that you put your hand inside the puppet head and take it!

    I was going to go down the list of songs and link to a copy of it, but I figured it’d just be easier to link you to this concert, which had a very close setlist.

    Experimental Film
    Dr. Worm
    Particle Man/Freebird
    Fake Believe
    B*stard Wants to Hit Me
    You’re Not the Boss of Me
    New York City
    Why Does the Sun Shine?
    Robot Parade
    Birdhouse in Your Soul
    D*mn Good Times
    Stalk of Wheat
    She’s an Angel
    Clap Your Hands
    The Guitar
    James K. Polk


    But here are some, just in case you need your fix ;)
    Another First Kiss (quite possibly their best song?)
    New York City
    She’s Actual Size
    The Guitar (The Lion Sleep Tonight)

    Photos (I’d like to thank my best friend, Joe Reloj, for the use of his camera. I was pretty happy with these photos. I’m no photographer, but they didn’t suck too badly)
    TMBG01 : TMBG02 : TMBG03 : TMBG04 : TMBG05 : TMBG06 : TMBG07 : TMBG08 : TMBG09 : TMBG10 : TMBG11 : TMBG15 : TMBG16

    pse: Corn Mo did a great job of opening. He was hilarous and got us laughing so hard that we nearly wet ourselves. Also, would it have killed them to play “Another First Kiss?” *sigh* Sorry. I’m greedy. It was a great show :)

    Interpol w/ Q and Not U – Louisville, KY 3/16/05Part 2

    Sorry for not posting these earlier. I had to wait until Cory and I were both back in college so that the photos would transfer at faster than 2kb/s. But the point is that they’re here now.

    When my friends asked if I wanted to see Interpol, I said yes without even thinking. There was never a moment where I considered the fact that I only know the words to two of their songs. I didn’t even think that I might not fit in. What I did think of is that seeing Interpol is supposed to be the indie equivalent of a personal audience with God.

    After running into the DJ who goes on right after me at WRFL, I ran back and took my seat for Interpol. Watching Inerpol do their set was a lot like watching a mob hitman take out his mark. They were serious. As close as a sense of humor that they displayed was the glowing smiley face on Paul’s guitar. Some people say that this is related to a problem with Interpol’s live shows – it’s exactly like listening to the CD. They didn’t add too much of anything extra, they rarely varied from their album versions. However, I don’t think this took much away from their performance. What did it for me was the sheer power. These guys gave off a vibe of power in everything they did.

    Where watching Q and Not U was like watching the world’s best frat party band, watching Interpol felt like you were seeing an established and respected band. Not to say that they did a better job. In fact, they were both at the top of their game. I’m just saying that these are guys that obviously took themselves seriously – and for a good reason.

    Without a doubt, the highlight of the show was their performance of NYC. The ironic part is, right before it, Cory and I shouted out “Louisville cares!” We felt like we caused it to be played, when in fact it was just serindipity. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it was amazing. Just like when I saw Pearl Jam do Yellow Ledbetter or when Bright Eyes did Lua, it gave me chills. I love singing along at concerts, and it was a relief to actually be able to sing along at the top of my lungs. I felt kinda out of place for not knowing all the lyrics.

    After the encore, their drummer threw out the six sticks that he used in the show. You know me, I caught one. However, I realized that Cory is a WAY bigger Interpol fan than I am, so I gave it to him. After the show we went out back and got stuff signed by Paul. All in all, this was an amazing concert. I highly suggest that anyone who has the chance to see Interpol should take it. They made my spring break 100x better than anyone on MTV’s.

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    Interpol w/ Q and Not U – Louisville, KY 3/16/05Part 1

    Before I get started on this wonderful concert, let me thank a dear friend of mine. These photos were taken by a guy that I’ve known since Kindergarden (he goes by Cory, since “guy I’ve known since Kindergarden” takes too long to say). He is even more awesome than these photos.

    I’d never been to Brown Theater before and was kinda concerned that the acoustics might suck (i.e. Rupp Arena), but they were fine. I’m sure it helped that both bands were pretty loud, but I never noticed anything that sounded less than awesome.

    First of all, let me say that Q and Not U did everything short of pay the audience to love them. They came out, gave us a nod, and then proceeded to rock. Their frontman, Chris Richards, has probably the best stage presense that I’ve seen since…ever. He’s got the wild flailings of Craig from The Vines (who suck live… and on thier new album). He’s got Conors sideways glances that drove the girls wild. One front row dancer asked if she could give him her cell phone number. Lucky.

    From start to finish, every song Q and Not U played made the audience quiver. I thought I was going to lose my voice during Wonderful People. Similarly, I had never realized what an amazing song Wet Work was until I saw it live. Chris introduced it by saying that “wet work” is the CIA term for some shady thing that needs to be done, but when he first heard it, he thought it was a term for something that goes on in the bedroom.

    The most important thing that Q and Not U did, however, was what is key to any opening band. You didn’t have to be familiar with them to be moved by their music. I was the only one in my car that really had heard them before, but everyone was talking about them at the end of the night.

    On a funny note, Chris spat his gum into the crowd and it hit the guy behind me. He gave it to me and I gave it to Kristine later as part of an old joke. I was able to wrap it in something cool though, the setlist. I got half of it because me and another guy both wanted it. I got it signed later and Chris wrote the name of the song they played during the jam. It’s by Fatback and it’s called Get Your Fingers Out the Jam. Check out the setlist here I also managed to grab a station ID for WRFL (“Hey this is Chris from Q and Not U and you’re listening to 88.1 WRFL. Call up the request line and ask for something fun-kay!”) and this funny photo in which (from left to right) Cory, Chris from Q, and myself are playing air saxaphone. Also pictured are Andrew and Q’s drummer John, both of who are party poopers.

    Q and Not U’s grade as an opening band: A+ They’re the best openers that I’ve ever seen.

    Another Q and Not U photo
    Yet another Q and Not U photo