BNL concert in Boise ID

There have been many who questioned the Ladies’ ability to continue on as a band without Steve. Many wondered if the band would survive. “How can they sustain such a loss?”

Addition by subtraction, my friends. Less indeed can be more.

I have attended some great concerts by epic bands: Muse, Tool, Rush … all of them pale in comparison to BNL in their ability to command crowd interaction. If I didn’t know better, I would swear that Ed, Jim, Tyler, and Kevin were best friends with every single person in the crowd at every single show. In fact, let me amend that: they act as if they’re best friends with every single person in each and every crowd.

So we left town yesterday morning to drive up here to Boise. Got up here around 4, checked in, ran some pre-concert errands, then headed to the venue. The show was held at the Idaho botanical gardens, which just happens to be situated right next to the old prison to stage left. To stage right is this scenic view of some mountains. Kind of an interesting backdrop. There was a constant threat of rain the entire evening. Call it what you will–the act of a benevolent God, a sweet intervention on mother nature’s part … it did not rain one drop on the entire crowd. As Ed so aptly put it, “THANK YOU MOTHER NATURE!” to which we all cheered raucously.

Serena Ryder

To be honest, I has not done my homework on her prior to coming out. I’m glad I didn’t. She was an incredibly pleasant surprise. She took the stage with a mic and her guitar–no supporting band. Apparently she has one, but she’s touring on her own right now. She put on an incredible, all-too-short show, comprised of 6 songs, none of which I had ever heard, but all of which I’m glad I got to see in person.

Here’s her set list:

  • All for Love
  • Brand New Love
  • A Little Bit of Red
  • Weak in the Knees
  • What I Want To Know
  • Sing Sing

It seems like I’m missing one or two. I was keeping pretty close track, but … I dunno. So, she’s this incredibly stage-friendly girl who rips a guitar up and down while she belts out this incredibly soulful voice that has just a hint of Nashville in it but enough folk to keep the country haters at bay. “Weak in the Knees” was a duet with Ed Robertson. It was extremely cool to see them perform together. “Sing Sing” was far and away her best. No guitar, just her and the mic in a Stomp-style beat throw-down and clapping while she unleashed this acappella blast. Very cool chick.

People were yelling things to her and she’d respond with a polite and quippy answer. I decided to be polite and raise my hand, since we were just that close. Knowing that she’s from Ontario, Canada, I asked her if she was a Senators fan. She just kind of chuckled a bit, then sweetly and politically danced around it without commiting to a yes or no answer, which, in retrospect, is completely understandable. Can’t alienate one fan base or another, right? Stupid me. 🙂

After her set, she went back by the merchandise table to hang out and meet with the commoners. I got two of her CDs: one for my wife and me; and one for our friends who got us the tix. After apologizing for making the Senators comment, she just laughed and said she thought it was funny. Hey, it got me a picture with her! She seemed really genuine and down to earth. I can’t wait for her to come to the SLC!!

Barenaked Ladies

As previously mentioned, there have been detractors who questioned the band’s ability to move on. “Have they lost their essence?” “Are they capable of maintaining their fan base?”

To those who asked those questions, I hope you hang your head in shame. For the band to re-invent themselves by changing practically nothing is the mark of a dedicated group of musicians. The Ladies are fortunate to have 4 such individuals in their group. The wit, the humor, the mid-set city-inspired improvs, the excellent musicianship … all as if they had always been a 4-piece band.

I’ve noticed a distinct and more than likely very purposeful lack of any discussion of Steve. I imagine it’s hard on them to lose such a good friend and band mate, but at the same time, I don’t think it was as amicable a break-up as everyone thinks it was. Not that there’s any level of animosity between him and them … I don’t know. It’s hard to describe. I have to believe that their first single off the new album, “You Run Away,” is almost auto-biographical. I swear Ed teared up ever so slightly while performing that song. And who could blame him?

This is just my personal opinion … while I miss Steve’s voice and contributions, I do believe that the band has MUCH more creative potential now than it ever has. Jim and Kevin are more than equipped to contribute musically–not just in playing their respective instruments, but in contributing entire songs–music and lyrics. All in Good Time more than supports that idea. They provide 5 tracks on the new CD–about the same amount as they had in the rest of their previous discography.

As for the concert itself, it was great to see them on stage again, even though my wife and I had just seen them not 6 months previous in SLC at the Depot for their Christmas concert. They played a very solid set, mixing old with new (though the only two songs they played that were pre-Stunt were “Old Apartment” and “If I Had $1000000”). Here’s their set list.

  • Testing 1-2-3
  • Old Apartment
  • Falling for the First Time
  • Boise Rap
  • Wind It Up
  • Every Subway Car (with Serena Ryder)
  • Another Heartbreak
  • Never Is Enough (just Jim and Ed)
  • Polywog (yes, they played a Snack Time song!)
  • Sound of Your Voice
  • Ordinary
  • Big Bang
  • 4 Seconds
  • Kevin’s piano solo
  • Unfinished
  • Boise song: You Fascinate Me
  • You Run Away
  • I Saw It
  • Too Little Too Late
  • One Week
  • It’s All Been Done
  • Pinch Me (ugh … such a drunk concert chick story about this song that will forever haunt me)
  • If I had $1000000

encore

  • Alcohol (sung by Tyler)
  • Summertime
  • Easy

Here are the pics we took.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/slgld/4632473713/in/set-72157623998039499/

The show was phenomenal. Everyone smiled and had a ton of fun. Being on the front row, it was a tad difficult to see to the back of the crowd, but from what I could see, everyone was standing and dancing.

One of the standout songs was Tyler’s rendition of “Alcolhol.” You can tell he doesn’t get out from behind the drums very often. 🙂 No offense, Tyler! It was an awesome performance. He was all over the place, adding his distinct Tyler personality to the song. I wish I could have gotten some video footage. It was great.

“Polywog,” off of their Snack Time CD, had the crowd jump jumping to the top of the stump stump. Ed’s little mid-song rap was even better live than it is on the CD. Ha ha!

My favorite song off the new CD–“Four Seconds,” is one of the best lyrically that they’ve done in a long time. Any time you can actually rhyme something with “orange” (albeit with an ounce of forgiveness), you know you have a winner.

If this concert did *nothing* else for me, it showed me that BNL is still BNL–that they enjoy their crowds and fans as much as if not more than just about any other band out there; that they enjoy putting on an awesome stage shows; that they will prove to you night in and night out why their live shows are some of the best around.

But this particular show did so much more for me than just that. They are truly friends. When they announced that Steve had left the band, I felt as big a void as I’m sure they did. Along with them, I am filling that “void” with their new music. Not to mention that we got to go on a road trip with our incredibly awesome friends, with whom we don’t get to spend nearly enough time. They enjoy the band as much as we do.

My most incredibly awkward concert moment was achieved when drunk chick (whose picture I didn’t even think to take) reached up and grabbed my left nipple while the band was playing “Pinch Me.” I was literally stunned into a motionless stupor. “Whu … I …… why ……. don’t ……….” followed by a full-body shudder that ended with the heebie-jeebies on a scale of which I had never before experienced. Just … blugh. I felt tainted. I also laughed about it hysterically when I told my wife and friends. It was seriously weird.

In summary, the concert was fantastic. The band is back and as strong as ever. Serena Ryder was an experience unto itself, and I hope she’ll come to Utah here in the near future. Thanks for the fun evening, lady and ladies!

Sleigh Bells – Treats

So, I got an email over the weekend. An old friend asked me to listen to Sleigh Bells, with a caveat–“Don’t read anything about them before or while you’re listening to them.” So I didn’t. And now I’m listening to them.

Well, okay … about 8 songs in, I finally caved and wondered, “Who ARE these guys?!”

“These guys” are Alexis Krauss and Derek E. Miller. Miller was looking for a vocalist for his music project. Alexis’ mom actually recommended her while she was working in a diner in NYC. I bet Derek’s glad she did. They’re one of the hottest things hitting the music scene, and they’re doing it from pretty much out of nowhere. They’ve already played Coachella–before their first release hit the market (May 11th). That’s saying something.

Her voice is dynamic. At times, it’s breathy and child-like; other times, she belts it and lets you have it square in the face. Or ears, I guess. Heavy on the keyboards and distorted guitar, lots of bass that further distorts the other sounds. At times, it feels like the mixing was intentionally left unrefined. It doesn’t necessarily detract from the awesomeness of the overall sound, but there are some parts where it could have used a little touch-up.

It’s rare for a band like Sleigh Bells to surprise me like they have. At once  dance-style electronic, as the CD progresses, they branch out into more guitar-based songs (I’m listening to you, “Straight A’s”). Again, could be synthed keyboards, but … whatever. It sounds cool. I know this much–it has my attention, and I’m not much into … however you’d classify them. But these guys … whoa. Tommy likey.

At first brush, I’d say they’re kind of like Muse meets Chemical Brothers meets Cibo Mato. If you’re familiar with those bands, listen to this CD and tell me I’m wrong.

“Tell ’em”, the opening track, opens with some thundering bass and guitar mixed with keyboard and synth. I wasn’t ready for Allison’s voice. Keep in mind that I listened to this track before I did some poking around online. Can’t understand what she’s saying half the time, but there are moments when the lyrics are more clear than others.

The beginning of “Kids” sounds like the beginning of “Stinkfist” from Tool. Sort of. It kind of has that feel to it for about the first 5 seconds or so, after which you can hear some horn-type sounds. 

“Riot Rhythm” has a bit of a politcal message. “You gotta march!” At least, that’s what it sounds like. Maybe it’s “You gotta MARK!” I dunno.

“Infinity Guitars” actually has very little guitar work, and what there is actually sounds like a processed keyboard, and has precisely 4 chords. I think what they meant is that the song feels like it goes on for infinity, and every now and then there are some guitars.

Okay … I stand corrected. Big time. It heavies up at the 1:52 mark. A more accurate title would be “Infinite Bass with Some Guitar.” I bet that song sounds frickin’ hot on a high-end system.

Rill Rill has “single” written all over it. This could be a seriously great radio hit, if the band is interested in that aspect of marketing at all. Truthfully, the CD itself is enough of a marketing tool that “singles” are probably not necessary.

Truly, the treat of the CD is the last track, “Treats.” Think about the intro to the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” and beef it up with a lot more bass throughout the song, and mix in more keyboards and synth. I’m totally digging this song.

That’s all the more songs I’m going to review. I’ve already over-extended my normal quota of 3-4 songs per CD. If you want to know how great this CD is, get it. iTunes, Amazon … whichever. You will probably really dig this CD if  you like:

  • female vocalists
  • lots of bass
  • music to jump around to (yes, I ended with a preposition. so frickin’ what?)
  • out-of-nowhere song transitions
  • infectious, addictive songs

Just get this CD. Do it.

Back in the Saddle

It has been a wicked crazy week and some. Work has exploded. I think I mentioned that my boss retired a couple of Mondays ago. From the frying pan and into the fire, as it were.

Yah, yah … excuses excuses. Make the time, right? So here it is.

While I’m thinking of it, for all you fat fin fans, GW has a Facebook page that’s not to be missed. Please add them and support local music shops!

Of course, went to Graywhale for a quickie. So to speak. Hmm. ANYway, didn’t really peruse much as time was limited due to some geotagging test driving. Brought my camera along for the drive, randomly taking pictures at stop lights and other various locations. So, I have this app called GeoLogTag. It’s supposed to tag pics from ANY camera. After doing some poking around, I can understand why they make the claim: all the app does is “waypoint” your location at X intervals. I have mine set to continual. I believe it waymarks a location every 5 seconds, which is SUPER great for geotagging with accuracy. Anyway, after I take a bunch of pics, I import them into Geosetter. This program takes the images and bats them up a .gpx file that has all the waymarks listed. The program accesses this set of waymarks a couple of different ways: 1) you can email it to yourself, or (my favorite method) 2) it turns your phone into a virtual server, replete with a temp IP address for connecting and downloading the file to a specific location. Nifty, eh? Anyway, once the .gpx file is on your machine, you open it in Geosetter. It compares the time the waymarks were logged to the time the pictures were taken, and it adds the geotagging metadata to the image so you can view your image in geo-social picture sites like Flickr or Panoramio. Anyway, the bulk of my lunch was spent driving around and doing that.

The remaineder, of course, was spent acquiring more great music. Maybe it’s the loyal Western New Yorker in me, but today kind of had a theme. First off, I owned no Ani DiFranco. I now own 4 CDs. I owned no Natalie Merchant CDs. I now own 3. Still no 10000 Maniacs though. That’s bad. Didn’t even think to check for that. Oh well … something to hunt for next week, right? 🙂

So here’s the list of what I got today.

  • Faceless Wolverines – Pardon Me, Are Those Your Claws on my Back?
  • Ani DiFranco – Evolve
  • Ani DiFranco – Dilate
  • Ani DiFranco – Out of Range
  • Ani DiFranco – Imperfectly
  • Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep
  • Natalie Merchant – Ophelia
  • Natalie Merchant – Motherland

Time Stand Still

Don’t I wish …

I’ve been swamped with work stuff. My boss quit a few days ago. All the projects got dumped in mylap. I had been asking to help with things so I would know what’s going on … but no. Everything was handled by my boss up until the last day. Kind of wanted to get my hands dirty with these projects so it wouldn’t be such a shock. No such luck.

So anyway, that’s been my life for the last 3-4 days. Before that, I had strep and a kidney infection. Lots of pain killers, lots of anti-biotics, lots of sleep. It’s been a rough couple of weeks.

So my wife and I were talking about everything we have going on this summer. Barenaked Ladies in a few weeks in Boise, U2 about 2 weeks later, and Rush in August. Pioneer Park’s concert series is gearing up in a few months, and the list is awesome. Among the performers are Modest Mouse, New Pornographers, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, She and He … good series!

More info here. http://www.slcgov.com/arts/twilight/

I’m most excited for She and He. I’ve liked Zooey Deschanel since hearing her in “Elf.” Yes, that really is her in the movie. Anyway, she and M. Ward have two CDs together, aptly titles Volume 1 and Volume 2. Not the most creative titles, but appropriate. Their music rather neo-50s doo-wop … sort of. Imagine todays pop music being heavily influenced by the late 5os. There you go. They’re fun stuff.

So they’re coming. I’d like to see Modest Mouse as well. Always been a fan of Johnny Marr, but … he’s not with the band anymore, as far as I can tell. Truly a travesty.

I met a guy who builds custom cabinets. Basically, my wife found a shelf on KSL that she liked, so she asked if I could go pick it up. When I picked it up, I started chatting with the guy. Come to find out he does all kinds of stuff–bed frames, cabinets, shelves … you name it, he can build it. I got to talking to him about how we need new shelves for everything we have media-wise: DVDs, blu-rays, CDs, etc. He said he could build us some for really cheap. After discussing dimensions and paying for the new shelves, he said he’d have them done by Wednesday of next week, POSSIBLY over the weekend.

“Dude. So what? Why is that such a big deal?”

Right now, our “extraneous” CDs are sitting on top of the one shelf we have. We have about 200 CDs with no home. Homeless CDs need love too, right? They need shelter. Our movies are scattered around the downstairs. Some have homes, others do not. Some are in a shelving unit with locking doors; others are in another room on a wall shelf; the rest are on top of our bar or on the old entertainment center for the TV. I wanted a one-stop shop for everything. Now we’re getting it. And for frickin’ dirt cheap. SWEET!

So here’s a shout-out to Brian Moore, who’s building the shelves. He is Mountain West Furniture in SLC/Park City. Great to work with, reasonable prices … you can’t beat his work.

I’m hoping to get some video footage of the upcoming concerts around here. I have a device that will do it, but whether I keep it is a big question. For one, the battery life is low: less than 2 hours for each charge. I’m keeping it until the BNL show on May 21st, but after that, we’ll see. If the quality is as good as the reviews say it is, then I’ll re-evaluate.

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