Concert Review: Kurt Vile, Woods, White Fence, August 10, Rock & Roll Hotel

Posted on by halley in Concerts | Leave a comment

You know what’s cool every once in a while? When an opener blows the main act out of the water. Although it can be a let-down when the end of the concert comes and you realize your favorite part was over hours ago, it’s always a pleasant surprise to happen upon a small band that you like in a big way. This was exactly my experience at the August 10th Kurt Vile concert at the Rock and Roll Hotel.

First, to set the scene: Rock and Roll Hotel (R&R Hotel as we hipster Washingtonians like to call it) is THE place to be for alternative music junkies. Not only is it in an out of the way (read: not QUITE completely gentrified) section of DC, it also offers concert-goers tantalizing proximity to musicians’ changing rooms that are located adjacent to the upstairs bar and are furnished in an eclectic and fascinating Victorian-parlor-inspired way. Love-struck and thirsty fans are given every excuse to linger near their idolized
stars, hoping for a glimpse of the performers and, if their luck is good, a run-in with one or more band members as they make their way to the downstairs stage. Besides an intimate concert experience in a cool locale, R&R also provides patrons with a full menu of tall-boy beer varieties and legendary “first date fries” served with the most delicious garlic mayo you’ll ever have the pleasure of m(eat)ing.

But I digress.

Since this concert turned the usual musical experience (mediocre opener, breath-taking headliner) upside down, I’ve decided to do the same with this review: I’ll start with Vile (who performed last) and work my way backwards to the highlight of the show. Here goes:

Not surprisingly, I’d bought tickets to this concert to see headliner Kurt Vile. Vile, a talented Pennsylvania-based performer, has a cool sound that falls somewhere between Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. Although I don’t personally see much similarity between him and Animal Collective (one of my favorite bands), the two have collaborated, which makes me like him all the more. Vile put on a good show (I especially liked his rendition of My Baby’s Arms and the Blackberry song) and he proved himself an adorable on-stage personality. Nothing but smiles and thank yous and pleasant nodding that made his long hair swing back and forth in a completely endearing fashion. Endearing, mind you, not mind-blowing.

Kurt Vile – Freeway by freemusicarchive

Woods, who performed before Vile, were quite good as well. The guitarist, Jeremy Earl, founded the Woodsist label that produces both Vile and Woods (and, as it turns out, White Fence). It was obvious the bands shared both influence and members with Vile. While Vile was a bit more traditional (his songs were relatively short with narrative vocals), Woods performed longer pieces, many of which had no vocals. Their sound was a bit too techno for my tastes, but overall I liked their sound a lot.

woods – sun and shade (album preview) by experimedia

Saving the best for last (though they came first), the second opener, White Fence proved the high point of the evening (I missed True Widow, who played first). Not only was White Fence perfectly punctual, they also represented a refreshing mix of white-boy-hipster-look and soulful-techno-blues-sound. I don’t think a single band member topped the scale at more than 110 pounds, but the old-school vibe they produced was surprisingly and pleasantly weighty. Before getting to the music (I promise, I’m getting there) I’d also like to note their on-stage banter was just the right mix of friendly and engaging while not distracting. They were truly humble and charming.

OK, the music: imagine Beach Boys in Bollywood. Or maybe the Beatles collaborating with the Byrds? Maybe it’s best if you just take a listen yourself. I particularly enjoyed Mr. Adams and Destroy Everything.

Overall, the show was well worth the trek out to H Street in the District’s notorious northeast quadrant. It was one of those nights when you feel like you ate dessert before dinner – not something you’d want every day, but every once in a while – just the thing to make your week memorable.

“Get That Heart” by White Fence by forcefieldpr

Concert Review: Memory Tapes, August 13, Wrongbar

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Everything | Leave a comment

Toronto – Memory Tapes have been classified by some as chillwave, but what the hell does that even mean?  It’s not like I’m being wilfully ignorant here – I’ve listened to a few of the bands that have been categorized as such and I’m certainly able to look up the Wikipedia entry on chillwave if in need of further clarification.  It’s just that it really seems like a somewhat meaningless and arbitrary genre classification.  It’s a problem with a lot of more recently created genres.  Another example is witch house.  What kind of crappy name for a music genre is that?  If it actually sounded like old hags with pointy noses and broomsticks making booming house music, maybe I could get behind it, but from what I’ve heard (which is admittedly very little) it really doesn’t, but I guess people need a name for stuff so it sticks.  I guess it’s been going on ever since people started marketing music to an audience.

And another thing – Memory Tapes’ music isn’t all that “chill” to begin with.  The New Jersey based band (and yes, it was a band – Dayve Hawks brought along a rhythm section for this show) is actually fairly upbeat at times.  But what do I know?  One thing is for sure at least – regardless of genre classification, Memory Tapes make some pretty damn catchy music.  They’re not the most exciting live, but they did get they crowd moving a bit, albeit mildy.  I will admit that at about the  halfway point in their set, I had kind of had enough, but that may be as much my fault as theirs as I had been out the previous four nights and was feeling kind of tired.  Maybe I should get more sleep.  Or maybe if they hadn’t been so “chillwave,” I’d have been more into it.  Regardless, it was a pretty good night of music, no matter what you call it.

Memory Tapes – Wait In The Dark

Summerworks Concert Review: Great Bloomers, House League, August 10, Lower Ossington Theatre

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Everything, Summerworks | Leave a comment

Toronto – The term “supergroup” conjures up images of bands like Asia, The Travelling Wilburys or Damn Yankees.  What it doesn’t necessarily bring to mind is the Toronto indie scene.  Yet House League was being billed as just that, a Toronto indie supergroup made up of members of Evening Hymns, Forest City Lovers, Matters, and The Magic, and this was their first and quite possibly last show.  For the occasion, the band performed a few brand new songs along with an Evening Hymns song and a cover of The Flashing Lights’ “Highschool,” which was introduced by one band member with a story of how he remembered seeing it on The Wedge back when he was in elementary school.  That made me feel old. 

Up next were Great Bloomers, who offered up some decent, rootsy indie rock sounds.  To add a little something special to their Summerworks show, the band invited a couple backup singers to augment a couple of songs, although based on the looks of confusion on their faces as singer Lowell Sostomi told them to stay up on stage, they were perhaps up there for one more song than they were expecting to be.  Another memorable moment in the show was when Sostomi dedicated “The Young Ones Slept” to his parents, both of whom were in attendance.  I guess if I was in a band, I’d probably invite my parents out to a show that was part of a theatre festival rather than a show at say, The Bovine or the Comfort Zone.  The band also performed a cover of Simon and Garfunkels “Keep The Customer Satisfied,” which seemed appropriate as those in attendance that night seemed to be pretty satisfied with their performance.

Concert Review: What Cheer? Brigade, August 9, Rancho Relaxo

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – 19 piece brass punk band. Those were the only words I needed to sell me on going to Rancho Relaxo Tuesday night to see Rhode Island band What Cheer? Brigade perform. I expected a hot sweaty mess filled with chaos and sound and that’s what was delivered. With a host of instruments ranging from tubas to horns to trombones, the band played a host of songs to the rambunctious crowd who were more than eager to dance. There were also a few members armed with marching drums to pace the night along. While I don’t know any of the tracks that were played, me and Paul swore that we could hear random samples of some famous songs in the mix, only we can’t pick out which ones. For the two song encore, the group gathered the masses and led them onto the streets for a rousing finale that no doubt energized the crowd and annoyed all the neighbors. An unexpectedly great time, check them out if they are in your town.

What Cheer? Brigade – Green Eyes by What Cheer? Brigade