Concert Review: Ivan And Alyosha, Kris Orlowski, May 19, Lincoln Hall

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Talking is Hard. Walk the Moon knows it. Introverts know it. Every middle schooler with a crush knows it. Opening your mouth and pouring forth something intelligent and on point is not an easy task.

Kris Orlowski’s got it down though. The Seattleite (as the crowd on Tuesday learned they’re called) opened for Ivan and Alyosha at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday evening and dude’s stage banter was on fleek as the kiddies say (I’m probably not using that correctly, am I? Any 15 year olds want to correct me?). As he was tuning his guitar he spoke up, “And now comes the Q+A section of the evening. Please ladies and gentlemen – anything and everything”. He got questions ranging from “if you were a statue, what pose would you hold?” to “which power ranger would you be” to “does playing guitar help with the ladies?” (the answer to that one, surprisingly, was no.)

The singer songwriter played mostly from his 2014 release Believer, which is full of lush, powerful, harmony filled indie-folk tracks. Orlowski’s emotional, husky voice filled out the rolling tracks, which was especially prominent when the singer-songwriter came down from the stage and played an acoustic track amongst the audience. Orlowski prepped the crowd: “Okay guys, I’m going to play two more tracks and then pull a French exit – I’m just going to leave. No words.” He almost pulled it off – he couldn’t quite help himself though, singing a couple of pointers to the crowd about meeting him in the back at the merch stand after the show since he wasn’t allowed to talk.

Next up was Seattle based folk group Ivan and Alyosha. Orlowski had prepped the audience for the group saying “they’re a bunch of dreamboats.” There was no disagreement from the crowd. The undoubtedly good looking fivesome took to the stage with gusto, playing from their 2015 album It’s All Just Pretend as well as sampling some of their bigger hits from their 2013 All the Times We Had. For a group that pulls its name from historic Russian literature (it’s based on two characters from “The Brothers Karamazov”) and has some pretty hard hitting lyrics about God and religion, they’re delightfully silly guys onstage. Frontloading the stage boy band style, with the three guitars and bass all lined up at the front of the stage and the drummer in the back, the gentlemen of the band very simply rocked out together, crashing into each other, locking eyes and grinning and jamming out for solos. Seeing Tim Kim on that slide guitar especially is a thing of beauty. I’ll leave it at this: Seattle is a lucky, lucky city and if these guys come by your town take the opportunity – go see them.

Concert Review: Primal Scream, May 15, Danforth Music Hall

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Having been around for just over two decades now, it’s easy to forget just how ambitious, creative and awesome Primal Scream is.

That is, until you attend their concert and get hit smack in the face with tracks that span from electronica to bluesy rock, all of them equipped with thunderous drive and Bobby Gillespies’s rock star swagger.

Primal Scream’s concert on Friday was a romp and a hit parade. A casual reminder that when they are on top of their game, few are better.

I had forgotten that, but now I remember.

I remember that cool sensation I feel when I hear the opening to Kill All Hippies (definitely my wrestling theme song if I was a wrestler)

I remember being at that dark rave that I was never at when the ear bursting beats of Swastika Eyes made me shake

I remember those dance cave moments, rocking along to set closer Rocks, which isn’t really about rocking out

I remember wandering across a desert, trying to decipher my life, listening to the simple beauty that is Higher then the Sun

Most of all, I remember to testify. even if I didn’t, Bobby did, as he warned the crowd. “Are you ready to testify?” Before launching into Movin On Up. a song so good and so well written you’ll know and love the lyrics before its all over.

I had never heard Moving On Up live before and man, what an amazing experience in person. An uplifting sing along that had everyone’s arms up. it was one of those moments.

At the end of the day, concerts are all about those moments. Primal Scream gave me several of those on Friday and that is all anyone can ask for.

Concert Review: Babymetal, May 12, Danforth Music Hall

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With their mix of J Pop and extreme metal, Babymetal are a totally gimmicky band. They’re also a total thrill to watch live.

The Japanese band, fronted by three teenage girls who first came together in the pop group Sakura Gakuin, took to the stage following a Star Wars inspired opening video which described them as “unifying the world with a new type of heavy metal,” and while that’s probably a bit of a stretch, they certainly seemed to unify those in attendance and it’s hard to argue that their blending of two disparate genres isn’t at least a little bit novel.

The audience was an interesting mix of people who were full on fans and the curious onlookers who wanted to see what all the fuss was about, though the former probably outnumbered the latter. There were  people clapping and chanting “Babymetal!” before the show had even started – it’s been awhile since I’ve seen that kind of fandom at a show. I even noticed a few people who seemed to be cosplaying, including a guy I saw on the subway ride home (who I assume was at the show) apparently dressed as a character from Fullmetal Alchemist. I’ve never seen that show before and know practically nothing about it, but I deduced all of this based on the fact that he was holding a Fullmetal Alchemist bag and had some kind of Powerglove looking metal hand thingie on his arm. I’m not really sure why he was wearing this; as far as I know, there’s no connection between that show and Babymetal other than the fact that they might appeal to the same demographic and that they both have the word “metal” in their names. It seemed a little odd but really, all of this seems a little odd to me. Then again, I once dressed up as Star-Burns for a Halloween party a few years back so who am I to judge?

Lead singer Suzuka Nakamoto (AKA Su-metal AKA  the one who always stood in the middle) had the best voice of the trio and highlighted it on a few solo turns throughout the night  – she’s obviously the Sporty Spice of the group. The other two (Yuimetal and Moametal) are full of energy and vital to the show but also essentially backup singers/dancers. Because they were moving around the stage so much, it was pretty clear that they weren’t singing live all of the time, but for the sake of a stage show like theirs, a little bit of lip syncing is understandable.

After playing for nearly an hour and a half (with a few breaks factored in during their set), the band bid the crowd farewell with a cheery sounding “See you!” right after buttering them up with lines such as “I had so much fun tonight!” and “I will always remember this night!” Not terribly metal as far as stage banter goes, and you’d probably never catch the guys in Mayhem or Gorgoroth saying stuff like that, but it was entirely appropriate for Babymetal and representative of their sugary sweet, cartoonishly cute take on metal.

Concert Review: Geographer, May 12, Lincoln Hall

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People tend to have a pretty evolved sense of flattering environments for themselves. Our generation has taken enough selfies that we know exactly which direction to turn, how much eyebrow to give, exactly how many pearly whites to flash to get that perfect shot/silhouette/pose. I don’t know if he does it on purpose, but Geographer‘s Michael Deni most definitely has that same sense of a flattering environment. His onstage set-up at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday consisted of a backlit stage with lights scanning up and down, lengthening and elongating the already beautifully lanky Deni from the tips of his shoes to the pouf at the top of his head as he moved and flowed and crooned over the synth.

Playing behind Deni was Duncan Nielsen on guitar, Cody Rhodes on drums and Joyce Lee on an incredible stripped down electric cello. As much as Deni’s silkily wandering falsetto creates that “pop music from outer space” vibe the band goes for, Lee’s electric cello gives it an eerie, spacey, ‘dropped in from the unknown’ feel even more. The group played from their new album Ghost Modern released this past March, kicking things off with the introspective and mournful “I’m Ready” and moving through some old favorites off of 2010’s Animal Shapes and 2012’s Myth.

Geographer’s set is an interesting mix of shimmering façade and heartfelt honesty. They bill themselves as “music from outer space” which is a great descriptor, but I think another one could be “brutally honest electro pop.” It’s not often that you get that mix of introspective self assessment with a pulsating beat and synth on synth on synth. To create something so honest, lovely, refreshing, weird and fun all at the same time is quite a feat.