Concert Review: Oneida, US Girls, August 1, Lee’s Palace

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1x1.trans Concert Review: Oneida, US Girls, August 1, Lees Palace

As US Girls took to the stage at Lee’s Palace, singer Meghan Remy surveyed the crowd with a quizzical look on her face as if she were looking far off into the horizon.  Yes, it was the Friday night of a long weekend and they were the opening act and so, the already sparse crowd seemed even smaller since most were keeping their distance from the stage or not even there yet.  After a smattering of applause following their first song, Remy responded with, “Oh, you’re alive.”  It’s a shame there weren’t more people there to take it in, but the band took it in stride with Remy later saying jokingly to the crowd, “You guys are too broke to get out of town … Get a job.”  They ended off their set with a brilliant version of Tracy Chapman’s “For My Lover” that they transformed into a doom metal-esque dirge.

The crowd, while still sparse, moved closer to the stage for Oneida‘s set.  Like US Girls, they also acknowledged the long weekend, albeit with a bizarre joke about celebrating Jerry Garcia’s 100th birthday (it would have actually been his 72nd, but who`s counting?) and how none of them were going to die, but that it does happen because they’d seen it on TV.  Or something like that.  

Joined by Yo La Tengo’s James McNew on bass, the band played an impressive set of heavy psych jams based around the use of repetitive riffs and rhythms. While Oneida definitely had a few of the dudes near the front of the stage feeling it, the band were clearly feeling it too, with drummer Kid Millions being the most visibly into it.  In a  way, Kid Millions is the closest thing I’ve seen to a real life human version of Animal from The Muppets – so much energy and enthusiasm and one hell of a drummer.  They closed things out with a blistering version of ”Up With People” that featured most of the band singing the refrain,”You’ve got to get up to get free.”

All in all, an impressive, albeit underattended, night of music. Happy birthday, Jerry Garcia!

Concert Review: Lionel Richie, Molson Amphitheatre, July 30

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Let’s go back to this picture

This was at SXSW two years ago and it took me a ton of alcohol and a free show to fully come to appreciate Lionel Richie

Wanting to relive those good times, we got tickets to go see Lionel Richie’s Greatest Hits tour at the Molson Amphitheatre on Wednesday.

Walking into the Amphitheatre, I was hit by one of my most shocking moments ever going to a show. As we passed by security, my friend had a backpack on her and the security guard just waved her through.


In complete shock at such indifferent security, I looked at other security members and realized this was happening all around.


Are Lionel Richie fans so tame and old that they aren’t even remotely worried about them? I could have snuck in a six pack and a bottle of wine in my friend’s backpack and they wouldn’t have even known? That blew my mind. Of course, I didn’t try to do that because I thought they would check backpacks, so maybe there is a hint of reverse psychology there. I think it’s the fact that the band is Lionel Richie, which made me think about what levels of security the Molson Amphitheatre would have. I have come up with this:

Post 9/11 / Red Alert; Any hip hop or nu-metal or heavy metal show
Drug pat downs: EDM, Dave Matthews
Look for Pedos: Teeny bop/top 40 bands
Normal: indie rock, folk,
Pretty chill: Classic rock/older acts
Really chill: lionel richie
No Security required: Sade, Yanni

Regardless, it was pretty mind blowing.

It never really dawned on me how far away you are when you sit in the lawns at the Amphitheatre. Typically, I sneak into the 400′s but the place was rammed, so I was left with this view:

1x1.trans Concert Review: Lionel Richie, Molson Amphitheatre, July 30

Like my friend Thierry said, I might as well have been in Glastonbury, all I was missing was mud, random flags, a bunch of drunk brits and a fist full of mollys.

The one thing I love about classic acts is how amazing their stage presence is. Lionel Richie is an exceptional performer. Not just a singer, he tells stories, he invites you to dance and he loves incorporating his songs into his banter. This includes saying stuff like “Ladies and Gentleman, we are here to party… all ….. night….long”.

He also pulled off a bit where he almost tricked the entire crowd into thinking Diana Ross was going to come out for Endless Love by having a camera backstage going to a locker room. It was pretty funny.

As for the show itself, the night was billed as hits tour and as such, ran through a pretty predictable set list of his solo and Commodores stuff Honestly, that’s all you want. Songs like Say You, Say Me had people swaying and Dancing on the Ceiling had people dancing. Of course, the night ended off with the one-two punch of Hello and Up All Night got the crowd up in the frenzy and those two tracks rightfully ended the main set. Richie sounded great the entire time, the man takes care of his voice, that’s for sure.

Stunningly enough, We Are the World ended the night, leaving everyone on a singalong high note. Stupidly, I left after All Night Long wanting to beat the crowd and missed that last track and now I fully regret it. I’ll probably regret it All……..Night….Long.

Concert Review: Bernard Butler & Ben Watt, Drake Underground, July 17

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1x1.trans Concert Review: Bernard Butler & Ben Watt, Drake Underground, July 17

It’s not everyday that your favorite guitarist comes to town.

It’s also not everyday Bernard Butler comes to town either.

The elusive musician is best known as the guitarist of Suede. He left the group halfway through the recording of Dog Man Star, leaving us with all the what ifs in the world. The Butler led Suede is basically my favorite band of all time so count me among the large list of people who constantly wonders what might have been.

Since Suede, Butler has had his hands producing music for the likes of the Libertines, Duffy and Kate Nash. His imprint on the UK music landscape is undeniable.

And there he was at the Drake Underground on Thursday night, as unassuming as ever playing in support of Ben Watt.

To not talk about Ben Watt would do the man injustice. A legend in his own right, Watt is perhaps best known for his partnership with spouse Tracey Thorn in the group Everything But The Girl. This year saw the release of his second album, a dark and personal record named Hendra. his previous record was released on 1984 so it’s suffice to say that the man doesn’t release an album unless he’s got stories to tell.

Ben Watt played a methodically paced show, pausing frequently to tell us stories about each track. The man has had a rough few years, but despite that, he sounded rather great. His vocals have a really soft tone about it and his ability to pen catchy and personal tunes easily separates him from your standard Starbucks coffee house singer. Having not experienced his music at all prior to the show, I came away rather impressed by it all. Bernard Butler would saunter on and off the stage as needed and well frankly, I was mesmerized every time he was on just watching him play. I am not a guitar player by any stretch but I would say he is pretty damn good. Honestly, the whole show I was turned into a fanboy and was all like “Bernard Butler’s 10 (and then 5) feet in front of me”. I don’t think that happens often. He didn’t kick into any sudden Animal Nitrate riffs, but that would have been pretty disrespectful, so I could understand.

With so much history in the room on Thursday, the concert quickly turned into a neat cozy personal and intimate affair. The Undergound was only partially full which sort of gave the crowd a sort of special feeling. Basically one of those “hey can you believe who is actually playing this tiny room” kind of vibe. I certainly couldn’t, and it was great.

Concert Review: Toad the Wet Sprocket and Counting Crows, Wolf Trap, July 5

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1x1.trans Concert Review: Toad the Wet Sprocket and Counting Crows, Wolf Trap, July 5

So, it was America’s birthday recently (Love you Murrica!) and there were all kinds of celebrations going on. Fireworks? Check. Dance parties? Check. American flag muscle tees? Check check check. While America gets better with every year, there are some times in the past that stand out as epic.

The times of the American Revolution, the roaring 20′s, Civil Rights… and snap bracelets. Yes, the early 90s. A time when cut-off jorts, turtlenecks, and crystal tattos were worn proudly and without irony. A time of big hair, bigger attitude, and great music. The soundtrack to this epic time was dominated by two great names who my sister (Celeste, another prestigious Panic Manual correspondent) and I were lucky enough to see on a beautiful summer day in the lovely Wolf Trap Park: Toad the Wet Sprocket and Counting Crows.

The experience was absolutely delightful for many reasons (not least of all because, for once, I was not the oldest person in the venue). Toad the Wet Sprocket was the first reason – the group obviously had many hard core and loyal fans in the audience who gave the band HUGE love for classics such as All I Want and Walk on the Ocean. The band’s latest work also got a ton of applause. Fun fact: Toad the Wet Sprocket funded its latest album, New Constellation, on Kickstarter. The band hoped to raise $50K in two months. Fans contributed that amount in two hours. NBD.

After Toad the Wet Sprocket got the older, super sated (Wolf Trap allows any manner of food and drink to be brought in and people were snacking like champs) crowd primed, Counting Crows took the stage. They gave the crowd everything we wanted: old tunes, no political banter, and a great encore. To be fair, it’s pretty easy to please a super homogeneous, older crowd on a beautiful summer day – but still, Adam Duritz and his crew hit the mark. Even without Mr. Jones in the set, the band gave the fans tons of favorites, including Holiday in Spain, Rain King, and several new tunes from their album Somewhere Under Wonderland.

If a return to the 1990s means more of the likes of these bands, I’m all for it. If 8 and 10 year old Celeste and I used to rock the turtleneck-and-saddle-pants look back in 1995, I’m sure we can do it today too.