Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Your Older Brother's Year End List - 2014 Edition


Let's dive right in, shall we?

Best live acts seen in 2014:

2014 was one of my busiest years seeing live music in years. It really started in 2013 when I took my kids to Riot Fest at May Farms in Byers, CO, primarily to see The Replacements (me) and Blink-182 (them), but I made sure that they saw a lot of the storied punk bands that were on the bill. 2014 began with me taking them to a show of their choosing, and ended with seeing one of the best songwriter/guitarists in the history of rock.

Falling in Reverse - Ogden Theatre, February 7 - My youngest wanted tickets to the Falling In Reverse/Escape The Fate "Bury The Hatchet" tour - so named because the frontman for FIR used to serve those duties in ETF before being kicked out of that band. All of the bands on the bill were screamo-type bands, or what I dubbed (possibly unfairly) "baby screamo" because there wasn't constant screaming by the vocalists, and the music wasn't as brutally metal as it could have been. Anyway, I expected to be one of the bored parents at the back with earplugs in. What I found from 3 out of the 4 bands was a lot of positive energy, with the musicians feeding off the vitality of the young crowd. Falling In Reverse had a riser that ran the entire length of the front of the stage that Radke paced like a tiger, interacting with the crowd from a vantage point where everyone could see. It was a little cliche (pun intended, FIR fans), but it felt earnest, and I liked the songs. I'm just as surprised as my kids are. Opening band Survive This! and then Escape The Fate were good as well, but Falling In Reverse & Ronnie Radke were the real surprise for me.

The Hold Steady - Denver Day of Rock, May 24 - I had discovered The Hold Steady for myself in 2010, when I downloaded their fifth album Heaven Is Whenever with monthly credits from my eMusic subscription. The record soundtracked a visit to Richmond, VA the summer of that year. In the ensuing four years, I'd never had the chance to see The Hold Steady live, but would have dropped most everything had they come close by, or if I had been near one of their dates. So I was completely floored to see that the local free free festival the Denver Day of Rock had The Hold Steady on the bill this year. I made sure that my kids were with me to see another one of the best guitar rock bands working today. I saw my friend Doug who owns the Hi Rise bakery up front with his wife and son before the band started, and we joined them for what was a blistering one-hour set.

The Hold Steady - Craig Finn & Tad Kubler
They plugged in 4 songs from their current album Teeth Dreams in the first half of the show and closed out with huge THS hits like "Southtown Girls" and, of course, "Chips Ahoy." The friendly guitar interplay of Steve Selvidge and Tad Kubler was a joy to watch. I finally got to see first-hand Craig Finn's frenetic gestures and heartfelt delivery. He seems to know he's in one of the great bands of the era and relishes it.

Real Friends - Vans Warped Tour, August 3 - There are *so* many bands on the Vans Warped Tour bill, it's actually kind of intimidating - something like 80+ bands on 9 stages. I had never been but my kids wanted to go, and the festival did a cool thing this year where adults accompanying their kids got in free, and I was down with attending a festival for free. I made a gigantic effort of listening to some of each band on the bill and marking those bands that I would like to see, and those I'd be ok seeing. Falling In Reverse played early and we caught them, and then my kids were off to see whoever they wanted to see, and I wandered around on my own for most of the day. I saw lots of bands, among them MC Chris, Saves The Day, Born of Osiris, Vanna, Ice Nine Kills. Real Friends was one band who I specifically made time for because I liked their music.

Real Friends - Vans Warped Tour 2014
What I found was that they had a great positivity on stage and put on a good show (for the amount of time bands have onstage at Warped). A quote that stood out for me from one of the band members was part of an extended monologue about how many kids in the audience find themselves feeling down and might not feel that they have a way out, but that music can help them get through, that they "are not alone - your favorite bands are there for you. Just press play." Excellent advice, and definitely the experience of many of us for whom music is such an important part of our lives.

Midge Ure - Soiled Dove Underground, September 9 - I'm very lucky to have a lot of good friends in the Denver music scene. One of the busiest show-goers around, Aimee Giese of Greeblehaus, posted on her Facebook page that she was going to be shooting pictures of him at his Denver solo stop. I hadn't known he was playing in town and I commented that "This is the bad part about willfully ignoring who's coming to town: I see stuff like this and freak out." Her response: "Check your fucking phone." I laughed and looked at my text messages to see that she had a plus one for the show and asked if I wanted to go! I said of course and we went to see one of our mutual 80's music heroes. At the time Midge was part of an 80's package tour making its way through the US with Tom Bailey from Thompson Twins, Katrina Leskanich from Katrina & the Waves, and Howard Jones, but also making solo stops touring behind the release of his latest solo album, Fragile. He appeared onstage with only an acoustic guitar and a microphone and proceeded to treat the loyal crowd to songs new and old. He played Ultravox songs, of course, and also "Fade to Grey" from Visage, a song I've always loved. Converseley, I never cared much for the studio version of his 80's solo hit "Dear God" (quite different from the XTC song of the same name), but in the intimate setting of the Underground, he won me over on that tune. I had also wondered if Ure had lost a step vocally, but I was quickly disabused of that doubt. I took a few videos for myself to simply capture the power of his voice. He did back off a couple of notes late in the evening, but that would have been understandable from anyone who had delivered such a spirited and intense performance.

Head over to Aimee's Greeblehaus blog for some great pictures of Midge from that night!

Johnny Marr - Gothic Theatre, Nov 28 - So impressive to see the guitar god ply his trade from a near-field perspective. The night started well with the solo electric performance of Meredith Sheldon, who during her set graced us with an excellent cover of The Replacements' "Answering Machine." My friend Dan had Marr's tune "Lockdown" on his 2013 best-of list, and that clued me in that Johnny was back writing catchy tunes. This year's "Easy Money" off his Playland record is hooky as hell, and compelled me to buy a ticket, but I had also seen a video of Marr performing "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want," one of my favorite Smiths tunes, on Jimmy Fallon. Knowing that he was playing Smiths songs, I had to see this show, and he didn't disappoint.

Johnny Marr
Great set, lots of energy. He really knows his status in rock history and played up to the people with the cellphones in the front row while making sure to talk to the people back in the balcony of the venue. Despite people mostly knowing him as "just a guitar player," he's a great showman. I had seen Johnny in The Smiths in 1986, but hadn't recalled his playful spirit. (The reviews I've read of that long-ago show suggest that the band was exhausted by that point of the tour) I did get to hear him play some of my favorite Smiths tunes, including "Still Ill," "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out," and "Please Please Please," and they were gorgeous.

Best show I didn't see: The Replacements with The Hold Steady and Lucero, Sept. 13 - Midway Stadium, St. Paul, Minnesota. This show was a dream bill for me, but there was no way I could attend, having lost my job just a few months prior. I was ecstatic that my good friend Adam from the Yer Doin' Great music blog was able to attend. We had seen the Replacements at Riot Fest together last year and he made the pilgrimage to this epic show. Read his writeup of the weekend here.

Best album of 2014:
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues

One of my favorite musicians that I've discovered in the past couple of years, Todd Farrell, Jr., writes this about TDB on his 2014 top 10 on the Dixie Punk DC blog:
Before we get started with this one, I want it to go on record that I’m not picking this because of how “important” it is. Yes, I think it’s very important, maybe even one of the most important records of the decade. It’s honest like punk goes, but the courage behind that honesty sets it apart from the rest. However, the reason it is so high up my list is because of what any music list should be… the songs are really good. Laura Jane Grace successfully wrote an entire record about the struggles of coming to terms with and living as a transgender person that is completely relatable to a straight white kid (me). The songs are so good, and that’s what makes it even more important.
Excellent reasoning. I have a friend who is transitioning from male-female and she keeps saying that she needs facial surgery. A bunch of her friends (myself included) would say that she didn't, she just needed to feel confident in herself and how she looked. Hearing the title track to this record and "Paralytic States" helped me to realize that there's more to it than just a state of mind. TDB is a Very Important Record, but most importantly, it's a very *good* record.

I had no idea that when I was watching the Against Me! set at Riot Fest in a field in Byers, CO in September 2013 that I was hearing most of the new album a full four months before the release date.

Laura Jane Grace at Riot Fest 2013
Seriously, just fucking listen to the opening title track. Searingly honest lyrics, precision drums, buzzsaw guitars. If you actually listen, you can't hide. And here's the kicker: you don't want to hide. Laura Jane pulls you into her world, and you want to share her pain so she doesn't have to shoulder it all by herself. And in the end, she doesn't give a shit.

I don't want to see the world that way anymore,
I don't want to feel that weak and insecure.
As if you were my fucking pimp,
As if I was your fucking whore.

Black me out.
I want to piss on the walls of your house,
I want to chop those brass rings off your fat fucking fingers.
As if you were a kingmaker.
Black me out.

Best comeback of 2014: Afghan Whigs - Do to the Beast - The first riff stomps out of the speaker and Greg Dulli's wail pleads a few bars later, and I knew on first listen that I was in for a beautiful, fucked-up ride. This is the Afghan Whigs doing what they do best - painting funky portraits in slow builds and piano ballads with a groove and loose rhythm that not many bands seem to aspire to. First new album in 16 years and it feels like it has more power and conviction and emotion than a lot of albums in the interim did. Favorite tracks: "Parked Outside," "It Kills," "Royal Cream/I Am Fire"

Best dance album of 2014: Chromeo - White Women - I don't know what the title means exactly, but they could have named it almost anything and I wouldn't have cared. It's not often that a dance record captures my attention with lyrics, but this is Chromeo at their goofy, flirty, cocky best. Dave 1's voice is perfectly suited to the characters he plays in the songs: shy bravado, attempting to be aloof in the face of jealousy, straight-up come-on artist. Scatting here, falsetto there, mixing his quick rap with crooning, he's on top of his game. Enough of my words, though. Just go listen and dance. Favorite Tracks: "Jealous (I Ain't With It)," "Over Your Shoulder," "Hard To Say No," "Old 45's"

Best nom de rock I've seen this year: Kimi Shelter from StarBenders. The music's pretty good, too. Check 'em out.

Favorite album title of the year: Maybe This Place Is the Same and We're Just ChangingReal Friends - The record starts off musically reminiscent of the Get Up Kids (to me), and that's a good thing (to me). I discovered this band while searching through the many many acts that were playing the Warped Tour that I'd be attending with my kids, and it was - to my ears - a welcome change from a lot of the screamo & metal of the rest of the bill. Not that I didn't enjoy myself and those other bands - Born of Osiris, Falling In Reverse, Vanna, etc. - but something about Real Friends spoke to me, and it started with the album title. It reads to me like an admission that sometimes, it's time to move on. Song titles like "I Don't Love You Anymore," "To: My Old Self" and "I Think I'm Moving Forward" add to the sense of someone who has started to see that change is inevitable and that moving on might not be a bad thing.

Favorite Videos of the year: I must not have seen many music videos this year because the "best video of 2014" lists I saw all contained videos of songs I'd never heard of, mostly by bands I'd not heard of. I'm not saying they're not good, but I'm not going to binge-watch a gajillion videos here at the ass-end of the year to try and be hip to the scene. I saw the Ok Go videos for "I Won't Let You Down" and "The Writing's On The Wall," and they're good enough for me to include here. Plus, the tune of "The Writing's On The Wall" is New Order/Cure enough for me to really fucking dig it. Plus, the Ok Go album title Hungry Ghosts is a Buddhism reference, which gets extra points from me.

Honorable video mentions: Lux Lisbon. Found this band when they followed me on Twitter last year, and I really took to their song "Bullingdon Club". They've been releasing songs here and there since the Get Some Scars EP, and this summer they dropped "Memento Mori."

 I had to look up what the phrase means, and was happy to see that it's a reflection on mortality. Highly endorsed, both the tune and the practice. Later in the year, they took to releasing some music via unlock codes and the song and video combination for "The Greatest Human Cannonball" is both pretty and whimsical. I really like this band.

Best Video Series - Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers' Van Sessions. I can't recall exactly where or how I was hipped to this series of videos of Nicki and her band singing covers recorded while literally on the road over the past few years, played on portable keyboards, ukelele, and acoustic guitar, but I really dig their style (even if I do fear for their safety sometimes!). I think I saw a link to their Van Sessions cover of Boz Scaggs' "Lido Shuffle," one of my favorite songs from the late 70's. I watched a whole bunch of the videos after that, from Hall & Oates "Can't Go For That" to Madonna's "Material Girl" to "Can You Get To That" by Funkadelic. They have an album of original material as well, and Nicki has a couple of solo albums from before that. Good 70's-sounding stuff. Think Linda Ronstadt or Crystal Gayle or Rita Coolidge. Or maybe The Alternate Routes with a woman fronting the band. Whatever. Go listen & watch.

Best reunion - Twenty years ago, I was in a band in the San Francisco bay area, and we  called ourselves Tucker. I met Geoff through an ad in the East Bay Express and we got together at his apartment to play guitar and we hit it off, jamming on some of his existing songs and writing bits of our own. We had a song called "Third Wheel" shortly, and we knew that we could do good things together.

We played open mic nights at the Starry Plough, added a drummer & bass player, recorded a couple of demos and a full tape, got an offer from indie label Alias Records, played shows at the Blue Lamp, Purple Onion, opened for Third Eye Blind at DNA, and, one short year later in 1995, I got kicked out of the band on the night I was going to quit anyway. The band got another guitarist and continued on for a while, but eventually broke up.

Geoff and I mended our fences not too long after, and have spent the ensuing years kicking ourselves for letting our young egos get the better of us. Because the songs are good.

I was fortunate to be in his neck of the woods in April and we got the Tucker twosome back together for a weekend. Twenty years had gone by, but it didn't seem like it. There were tears (mostly mine), long talks to early hours, and, of course, some guitar playing. We even jammed a bit on a tiny new bit of music. For the most part, it was a weekend with my friend Geoff who I hadn't seen in probably 15 years.

If we had the time, we could make another go at it, but, you know. Busy adults.

Check out four Tucker songs on my SoundCloud page: Rut | Circus | #2 Combo | South


Ok, that's 2014. Time for 2015. I've got some things planned for this year, hopefully you'll be along for the ride. (Ooooh, foreshadowing!) Be well, sisters and brothers!

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Album Listening Club - Talking Is Hard

Honestly, I'd never heard of Walk The Moon before putting their name up to vote for the listening club.

A different kind of moon walk. Image Credit: NASA
I was going through the new releases for that week and listened to it…I'm not sure why. But I liked what I heard, so I put it up for vote and it won by the biggest margin in a while, taking 67% of the votes!

The band itself is from Cincinnati, Ohio and has a great sound that seems electronic-heavy at first, but it's just the heavy dance grooves that they lock into. There are jangly guitar riffs, rolling drum crescendos, and Nicholas Petricca's blue-eyed soulful voice that give the songs an overall positive feel. With songs like "Shut Up and Dance," I don't think we're in for too much navel-gazing. But let's see what y'all think. Let's Walk The Moon with this Club!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Album Listening Club - We Shall All Be Healed discussion post

The Mountain Goats!

Photo from Merge records - Photo by DL Anderson
You thought I was going to post a picture of actual goats on a mountain, didn't ya? Well, I almost did. But I thought better against it.

This The Mountain Goats is a band fronted and founded in 1991 by John Darnielle, who released a bunch of material under The Mountain Goats name without having a full-time backing band. Bass player Peter Hughes joined full-time in 2002, with drummer Jon Wurster joining in 2007. Wikipedia says that We Shall All Be Healed is an autobiographical record about "Darnielle's life with a group of friends and acquaintances addicted to methamphetamine in Portland, Oregon, though the album is set in Pomona, California."

At first listen, the music and lyrics remind me a bit of Robyn Hitchcock (maybe not the music style, necessarily, and Robyn's backing band tends to be a bit better produced, as in the drums and bass sound more full & deep), and the sound of John's voice reminds me of the singer for The Thermals, Hutch Harris. Or maybe it's more like Liz Phair, musically. Anyway.

Clearly I'm not a deep Mountain Goats listener. Yet. I like the indie feel to the album and the stories that John tells. I'll definitely be playing this & other Mountain Goats records more.

What about you? What's your experieince with this record? Let's club The Mountain Goats. (That's just a figure of speech. No Mountain Goats or mountain goats should be harmed.)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Album Listening Club - Blue Eyed Black Boy discussion

Once again, this is why I love the Album Listening Club. I had never heard of Balkan Beat Box before one of our club members suggested them and this record.

Nothing. Not sure where I would have heard of them, but from listening to their album, it's something I probably would have read about in Spin - If Spin were still a magazine, and I still read it, and it was still relevant. (Sorry, Spinners. You've devolved into the kind of bullshit clickbait articles and celebrity worship that I refuse to click on.)

The band itself is from Israel and consists of three core musicians, Ori Kaplan, Tamir Muskat, and Tomer Yosef. This album was recorded in Romania and from my listens has lots of musical influences from that area of the world, the Middle East and Balkan states. (Big surprise from the band name, right?)

So, now that we've heard of them - let's do what we do & chat it up!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Album Listening Club - Stained Class discussion

I'm no connoisseur of heavy metal music. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I've never heard even one of the songs on Stained Class, which is one of the most highly regarded Judas Priest albums.

Sure, I know "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" and "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight," and I recognize the cover for their album British Steel - iconic. But I don't have the long listening history to differentiate the Priest in any meaningful way from, say, Iron Maiden. I mean, of course there's nobody who sings like Rob Halford, but I don't know what the central themes of their music are.

Stained Class is Judas Priest's fourth album, released in early 1978. So, while one subculture was being fed from Talking Heads 77, another was reaching out for Stained Class. Wikipedia says that before this record, the Priest played more prog-rock and this and subsequent albums were more heavy metal rock and roll.

So, let's club Stained Class, shall we?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Album Listening Club - Low discussion post

I just realized that I don't actually own any David Bowie records.

David Bowie - Low
Like, none. Never bought Let's Dance, and really, that's the only one by him that I would have bought for a long time. I knew and liked "Space Oddity" and "Changes" from the 70's, but I wasn't seeking out albums, those were just songs I heard on the radio. When Let's Dance came along, this David Bowie wrote pop songs that weren't as abstract as the previously mentioned songs. Verse/chorus/verse/bridge etc. He was dressed in a nice suit, no face paint. It was a David Bowie that a teenager in a small mountain town could get behind. (Me - I was that teenager.)

I never did buy that album, though, because my friend had it, so I could hear it whenever I wanted. (And now that I listen to it, I prefer the version of "Cat People" on Let's Dance to the soundtrack version. But I'm digressing, HARD.)

So, Low. Bowie's eleventh album, released in 1977, produced by Tony Visconti and featuring Brian Eno on side two, with a full writing credit on "Warszawa." Mixed critical acclaim upon release, the album seems to be widely lauded now. Low was the first album in what's now called the "Berlin trilogy", along with Heroes and Lodger.

The songs on side one all had vocals, whereas all of the songs on side two were instrumentals. It was nice to be able to divide a musical artistic work in such a way with LPs and cassettes.

Best bit of trivia I read about the album - Nick Lowe released an EP in 1977 that he titled "Bowi," in "retaliation." Now THAT'S funny!

Let's club this album!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

ThURGHsday! #9 - Jools Holland

I took up piano much later in life than most people. I believe I was a Junior in high school. I had been listening to lots of synth bands by the time we bought a piano and I started taking lessons. In fact, that was why I wanted a piano in the first place, was to start to learn those synth songs that I loved.

I was drawn to the piano before that, however. My dad had the soundtrack to the movie The Sting, a 1930's period piece with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The music was mostly Scott Joplin ragtime tunes and I loved the elegance of the arrangements, coupled with the bounce of the melodies. And of course in the 70's there was Elton John and Billy Joel, but by the time I saw Jools in URGH! (1982 or 83), both of them had moved on bigger, more full pop and rock arrangements than just the piano songs for which they were originally known.

The dawn of the 80's also brought synth bands Devo (also in URGH!) and Ultravox to my ears. Neither band was mainstream in the USA, so I had to catch snippets of them on our local public access music video show, FM-TV (later called Teletunes).

Seeing Jools Holland in URGH! hammer out a boogie-woogie song on an electric piano in less than a minute was exhilarating. The lyrics tell of a boy who is in love, with Jools' falsetto not quite hitting the right note towards the end, but that only lends to the charm.

I'm not sure what it says that a couple of my favorite performers in the film were solo acts (John Cooper-Clarke & Jools) or were such huge personalities out front (Klaus Nomi, Jello Biafra, Jim Skafish) that they dwarfed their backing bands to a degree. Just a sucker for the cult of personality, I guess.

Curiously, the version of "Foolish I Know" on the URGH! soundtrack is almost 2 minutes long - the song basically just repeats - and there's a short intro by Jools where he says "Little song that might be on my next album…might not! But this is a jazz song! Written by me! Which I think is pretty good show, really!" I love that intro because it's a little window into Jools' confidence, up there by himself and seemingly loving it.

Where URGH! They Now?

Jools has been a staple of the BBC with his program "Later with Jools Holland" since 1992. I believe I first saw it on BBC America in the late 90's. It's a great show, each guest playing a song or two, with the stage "in the round" - all acts on various stages around the perimeter of the studio, where Jools does a quick spoken segue between acts and throws to the next band who plays live there on the spot, with the occasional interview with certain special guests.

Of course, Jools was a founding member of Squeeze and has played with all sorts of musicians over the years, both as guests on his records and him guesting on theirs. He's been a television presenter in the UK, dating back to the early 80's on other programs that I've not seen or heard of until I read his Wikipedia entry.

One day in the 80's as I watched The Young Ones on MTV, I was surprised to see "that piano guy from URGH!" directing a band that included Stewart Copeland from The Police among others, doing a cover of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues."

Jools has always been the picture of cool in my eyes. Kind of a dorky, dapper guy with a lot of energy who is passionate about music and can play the hell out of the keyboards.


Last ThURGHsday! - Echo and the Bunnymen, "The Puppet"
Next ThURGHsday! - XTC - "Respectable Street"

As always, purchasing from the iTunes links in this post help support

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Album Listening Club - If You're Feeling Sinister discussion post

I chose this picture because there's something sinister about a town named Kill Devil Hills
Belle and Sebastian are a Scottish group that formed in 1996 in Glasgow. I recall reading about them in the music magazines of the time, like Spin and maybe Rolling Stone. 1996 was a down musical period for me - having just parted ways with my band the year before, and then marrying my wife, getting a "real" job and buying a house, I was doing other things than concentrating on music. My house was out in the suburbs where there wasn't a good record store close, and this was just as the Internet was getting going so we didn't have a way to preview albums. I read about them, but never heard them.

I'll save my "when I heard them" story for my review. I'd like to hear how you heard of B&S and where/when you heard them. Gimme some stories!

Now - let's get clubbing!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

All Hallows' Eve - The Playlist!

It seems that every year I make this playlist for a new music service or a home playlist or something, and it always ends up a little different. I add a song here or there and leave some off 'cause I'm not feelin' 'em anymore.

This year, I'll make two playlists, one for Spotify and one for Rdio. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I love this time of year, Hallowe'en through Christmas. Lots of good music and dropping temperatures and warm drinks. And blood. Lots of blood.

These playlists are more designed for shuffle play than straight through. I don't have the time nor inclination to make perfect segues. It's for a party! Shuffle & go.

Send me links to your Hallowe'en playlist! I'd love to hear them, too.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Riot Fest 2014 - Denver Day 3

While day 2 was fun and energizing, I'll be honest - I had a difficult time getting up on Sunday morning for day 3. Which sucked, because I really wanted to get to Sports Authority Field's parking lot to see Denver's Dendrites and In The Whale. I haven't seen The Dendrites, but I do love ska. I have seen In The Whale, and they put on one hell of a live show. Waking up at 10:30 to make it to a 12:45 show is not a good sign, however. One of my kids already declined to attend day 3, and my other kid was moving just as slowly as I was.

What really helped us both get going were the messages that came in on our phones from the Riot Fest app. This one came in first, but I was asleep:

And then this one actually woke me up:

So…Riot Fest Mom said it was time to rally and conquer day 3.  So we rallied. (Spoiler alert: Day 3 conquered us.)

Riot Food!
I have to say, though, I was really impressed with the Riot Fest food. Compared to Warped Tour food, there was a bevy of choice and quality, and at pretty decent prices, I thought. One stand had french bread pizzas made on-site with all sorts of toppings (that's what my kids had Friday & Saturday), there was an abundance of gyros, there were ice cream trucks (like, food trucks that made ice cream, not your average ice cream truck selling bomb pops & Drumsticks), sausages, asian food, tacos…and on and on. I got burgers from Steuben's food truck. The truck's name is Pearl.

Steuben's Food Truck - AKA "Pearl"
Steuben's is a well-known Denver restaurant that opened in 2006 and serves regional comfort food from around the country - cayenne etouffe, Maine lobster roll, Memphis ribs - as well as plain old comfort food - pot roast, meat loaf, fried chicken. Pearl doesn't have that range of menu items, but the food was good and fresh. I'll definitely be heading in to the restaurant sometime.

So, back to the festival. My youngest and I got out the door a little before 2pm, which put us walking in to the festival about 2:30, just in time to catch the end of The Menzingers set.

The Menzingers - Greg Barnett, Tom May, Joe Godina, Eric Keen
I was glad we got there for this, I liked the songs I previewed before the fest - good, earnest rock. Not earnest in a bad way, but earnest like passionate and not fucking around. Besides, any group with a song called "I Don't Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore" deserves a longer look.

Bob. Fucking. Mould.
Bob Mould was the first must-see act for me on Sunday, and when the Menzingers' set ended, we turned around and walked the short distance to the May Stage.

Bob Mould band - Jason Narducy, Jon Wurster, Bob Mould
I've been a big fan of Bob's solo work and with Sugar. I got into Hüsker Dü a little later than most, and never quite as fervently as some, but I dig their music all right. This left me a little outside of the set, because he opened with three Hüsker songs and closed with four. It didn't matter to me, though, as it's always fun to watch Bob play, bouncing around the stage as he shows his guitar skills. And the music is always great.

Touché Amoré - Jeremy Bolm
The next band on my list was Touché Amoré, a band I saw for the first time at last year's Riot Fest. They had a great set and a ton of energy last year and the band delivered again, big time.

Touché Amoré - Nick Steinhardt, Tyler Kirby, Jeremy Bolm, Elliot Babin, Clayton Stevens
Touché Amoré - Jeremy Bolm in the crowd, Tyler Kirby on bass
I cut out after a few songs to go catch the Violent Femmes, another band that I've loved for years but haven't seen live. I'd seen them play their debut album plus other hits on the Coachella feed last year and it was pretty fun to see and hear the songs in person.

Violent Femmes - Gordon Gano nip slip
It's amazing that their music still resonates so strongly with people, even still. There's something in the songs - the folk punk, the aching nasal pleas of Gordon Gano, the xylophone - something that still speaks to people, young and old.

Violent Femmes - Brian Viglione
After the Femmes, my kid wanted to see 3OH!3, so we walked over to the Byers Country Feed stage for some of their set. At this point, we were both slowing way down, however, so we backtracked a bit and sat on the hay bales by the merch tent and pondered what our next move would be. My kid sat head-down for a while and it didn't take long for us to call "uncle" and make our way toward the exit. Which, happily, was just behind the Byers General Store stage where Me First and the Gimme Gimmes were playing.

We got our second dose of Fat Mike for the weekend, and got to see a bunch of punks fist-pump "oh-oh-oh" during the Gimme's version of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up," which was pretty amusing to me. As was Spike's pre-every-song ritual of announcing "This next one's a cover…"

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Fat Mike, Dave Raun, Scott Shiflett
MF&tGGs - Fat Mike, Spike Slawson, Dave Raun
And thus ended our 2nd consecutive Riot Fest. It was just starting to rain a tiny bit and we got home fairly quickly. I took my kid's temperature - 102.8°F. Good call on leaving, dad.

Sometimes it's easy to second guess leaving a show early, but once the rain started coming down - hard - I knew we had made the right decision. Later that night I fell asleep for an hour or so and woke up about 7:30. Knowing that The National wouldn't go onstage for another two hours assured me (again) that I had chosen sadly, but wisely. My time to see The National will come, but the time hasn't been right, yet.

Thanks again for another great year, Riot Fest. You really suck.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Album Listening Club - Juice discussion post

Ok, maybe not that kind of Juice. (Let me know when that gets old, mmkay?)

I have the CD Shack-man by Medeski Martin & Wood that I bought years ago. I have no idea why I bought it or from where - although I have a guess that it was from one of the album clubs like BMG or Columbia House. Maybe I was looking for something jazzy? If so, I found it.

Anyway, MMW is an experimental jazz-funk trio that has been around since the early 90's. The wiki also describes them as "avant-groove," which I think is pretty apt. Juice is their third collaboration with guitarist John Scofield. The record contains four covers, three of them are classic rock tunes, although they're darn near unidentifiable.

So, let's club this album, shall we?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Riot Fest 2014 - Denver Day 2

While day one whet our appetites, day two was the main course for my family and I. We arrived early to watch FrnkIero andthe Cellabration.

Frank Iero
Frank Iero used to be in My Chemical Romance and the songs I've heard from his album and at his Riot Fest set are pretty darn good. Something in his voice on record reminds me of Conor Oberst, but not the overall music.

FrnkIero andthe Cellabration - Rob Hughes, Matt Olsson, Frank Iero, Evan Nestor
I wouldn't have been there for Frank if not for my kid who is painfully into MyChem. It was requested that I take some video, which is up on my YouTube channel. I was really stoked that they played a Ramones cover, and I was surprised that it was "Rockaway Beach." Not sure why I was surprised, it's one of the more popular Ramones songs, but I guess I expected a different song from/for this crowd. It was great, though.

Dum Dum Girls - Andrew, Sandy, Jules, Dee Dee, Malia
After FrnkIero, I didn't have anything that stood out on my schedule, so I wandered over to see the Dum Dum Girls, whose music reminded me somewhat of Lush, Best Coast, The Primitives and The Jesus and Mary Chain all at once. Good group for the day that The Cure was playing.

We Came As Romans - Lou Cotton and Andy Glass
I left Dum Dum Girls after a bit to catch some of We Came As Romans. Their music is that kind of melodic metal with screamo elements - I dig it ok. I was pretty stoked to get the picture above, too - for me, the image is as indicative of this year's fest as the picture of Matt Emrick of Potato Pirates was for last year's fest. Good bands, good energy.

Clutch - Jean-Paul Gaster and Neil Fallon
After a few songs I made my way back to the May Farms stage so that I could camp out and get a good spot for Lucero, one of the main bands I wanted to see at Riot Fest this year. I could hear Clutch as I walked over and their music encouraged me to see more of them up close, and I'm glad I did.

Clutch - Neil Fallon
The songs I previewed on Spotify before attending sounded in the vein of QotSA-style "stoner rock," but I didn't get that from the live performance. It was just fun, high-energy rock on a fantastic late summer day.

Clutch - Dan Maines
The Lucero crowd was pretty mellow before the show started. Lucero, for me, has been one of the bands of the last ten years that has really captured my attention in a way that few other bands have. I think I first became aware of them around the time of their album "Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers." I was building the first playlist for the station on Slacker Radio and while searching for bands similar to Uncle Tupelo and Drive-By Truckers, I came across "What Else Would You Have Me Be?" and fell instantly in love, thanks to lines like "C'mon baby won't you dance/Make good use out of these drunken feet/And I won't mention that other man/Don't you whisper no girls names to me."

Lucero - Brian Venable, Ben Nichols, Jim Spake
The gravel, whiskey, and cigarettes in Ben Nichols' voice, combined with the rock/punk/country feel of the music is just one of those perfect combinations…like whiskey & cigarettes in a dive bar down a gravel road, I guess.

There were a few uncouth gentlemen who decided that moshing in the middle of a stationary crowd would be a good idea. The song being played at the time was fast, but even after that song was over, the bros decided to berate the people in the crowd for standing around, that it didn't look like we were having fun. Well, pal, for some of us, having fun doesn't mean bothering people by shouting at or slamming into them. For some of us, we get a little blissed out by the music and experience of live performance and don't have much else to offer except our undivided attention to the artists onstage.

To each their own, however. I understand the time and place for moshing. This just wasn't quite it for me, or most everyone around me, I think.

Lucero - Ben Nichols
Ben ended the set with a touching song called "Fistful of Tears" that featured him singing solo at the front of the stage, accompanied by Rick Steff on keyboards. It was a better version than I've heard either on Lucero's 2002 album Tennessee or their latest offering Live from Atlanta. I like Ben and his music.

I caught some of Face to Face before heading over to grab some food on my way to watch Taking Back Sunday.

Taking Back Sunday - Adam Lazzara & Mark O'Connell
I came to Taking Back Sunday through my friend Chad a few years back. I hadn't heard them much and knew he was a fan, so I decided to check them out. It wasn't music that I took to right away, but I've come to like it over the years.

I cut out from Taking Back Sunday a bit early because I didn't want to miss any of the Descendents' set.

Descendents were the band that spawned All, and I had come to Descendents through my friend Tony, one of the first friends I made in college. As I was getting into All, he educated me on their Descendents roots. We started with some of the jokey songs - "All," "Weinerschnitzel," "I Like Food" - but much like All, it was the Descendents' heartfelt songs that resonated with me long-term. Songs like "Clean Sheets," from the viewpoint of a a guy who discovers that his girlfriend is cheating on him by finding that their sheets are dirty. Or "Silly Girl," a story about young summer love that most anyone can relate to on some level.

Descendents - Steven Egerton, Bill Stevenson, Milo Aukerman, Karl Alvarez
I also wasn't aware that the Descendents were going to play all of their debut album Milo Goes To College! I had known about Weezer, Slayer, & NOFX but Milo's onstage announcement about Milo was a surprise.
Descendents - Milo Aukerman
The album itself is only about 22 minutes long, however, so they had plenty of time left afterward to fill out the rest of their hourlong set. I got to rock out to songs like "Van," "Silly Girl," "I'm The One," and "Weinerschnitzel." One of my favorite sets of the weekend.

City And Colour - Dallas Green
Again I merely turned around from watching Descendents at the Byers General Store stage and walked the short distance to the May Farms stage to watch City and Colour, which was the band my other kid wanted to see most. I know a few songs by him/them and didn't know any of the songs they played Saturday night, but it was still a gorgeous set of music, and a great sonic precursor to The Cure's sound that would come an hour after the City and Colour set ended.

City And Colour - Matt Kelly, Dallas Green, Doug MacGregor, Jack Lawrence, Dante Schwebel
I had an hour to kill before The Cure's set, so I made my way to see what Bring Me The Horizon was like.

Bring me The Horizon - Lee Malia, Oliver Sykes, Jordan Fish
My kids like BMTH as well, and the music was ok, but I was really primed to get a good spot for The Cure, so I didn't stay long.

The Cure - Reeves Gabrels, Robert Smith, Jason Cooper, Simon Gallup, Roger O'Donnell
I gathered my kids and their friends together and found a not-too-crowded place to stand just to the right of the sound tent. There was lots of anticipation in the air, and when the opening chimes of "Plainsong" started, I was pretty excited.

I've written a bit about The Cure here on Your Older Brother before, but I haven't gone back and talked about my personal history with their music. I'll save that for another time, as there's so much to write about. They're one of my favorite bands, and I've loved their music for most of my life.

The Cure - Robert Smith
This marks the fourth time I've seen them live. The first time was on The Prayer Tour in support of the Disintegration album on September 8, 1989 - a little over 25 years ago! I saw them at the Dodger Stadium show, and that was pretty amazing. We had tickets in the upper deck of the stadium, but some of the friends I went to the show with wanted to try to sneak to the lower level. I don't remember exactly how I got to the club level (probably walked in close behind some people with tickets, pretending I was with them) from which I eventually ended up watching the entire show, but it was the perfect place for me to watch from that night. Especially between acts when the crowd from the upper level started raining down all sorts of cups and trash onto the level below. Watching it fall from my safe vantage point, I felt pretty lucky that night. But I digress.

The Cure - Robert Smith
The second time I saw The Cure was a perfect night underneath the stars at Red Rocks Amphitheatre here in Colorado where Your Older Brother is based. I was there with my wife and we had great seats and they played almost three hours, complete with three encores.

The Cure - Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Jason Cooper
My third time allegedly seeing The Cure was last year at Lollapalooza. I say allegedly because I was pretty loaded on free VIP wine ("paralyzed by the blood of Christ", if you will) and don't recall the set that well. Really, really dumb. I vowed that would not happen again this year if I was able to go to Riot Fest, and I made sure it didn't.

The Cure - Robert Smith
I didn't know how I'd hold up through the scheduled 2.5 hour set after being at the festival all day long, but much like the Replacements' Riot Fest show last year, love for the band and music carried me through. It also helped to be surrounded by big fans, including a random meetup with my friend Suzanne and her family, and a guy with a shaved head and tattoos who I wouldn't have suspected would know all of the songs and albums as well as he did (damn stereotypes).

The Cure - Jason Cooper & Simon Gallup
The Cure played some of my favorite songs of theirs, including "Push," "The Hungry Ghost," "Doing The Unstuck," and "Cut Here," which Craig at Chain of Flowers pointed out was the first time it's been played live since 2002, and only the sixth time live ever. Very glad to have been there for that.

The Cure - Robert Smith
My family and I moved like cagey tigers toward the exit during "The Love Cats" and we listened to the rest of the set as we made our way to the car. The kids were pretty tired and even though I still had energy to burn, I also had to drive home - and back again for the third and final day on Sunday. (For extended coverage of The Cure's Riot Fest Denver set, see the Chain Of Flowers Cure Riot Fest post.)

Day 2 ended on a very high note with plenty left to see on Day 3.

The Cure - Reeves Gabrels, Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Jason Cooper, Roger O'Donnell
Biggest misses of Day 3: Local bands Allout Helter and Wiredogs are both putting out good music lately. Also, Face To Face & Dads. I could have seen some of both but ended up not seeing or hearing much of either. And finally, A Day To Remember. Nothing was going to pull me away from The Cure, but I really do like their song "All Signs Point To Lauderdale" and would have liked to see them live.

Still More Cure Pictures & crap video!

FrnkIero andthe Cellabration

The Cure

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Most all photos & video taken with Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. iPhone video & photos noted where applicable.