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June 23, 2009

Northside Festival 2009 - Day 3

Images via Auditory Threshold

Finally, Saturday had arrived, and that meant only one thing to me: I would finally be seeing Kurt Vile and hearing the music that has been haunting my existence. I start most of my days with Constant Hitmaker and always end them with God Is Saying This To You..., with some other Kurt Vile songs in between. Today, I listened to "Freeway" for an hour straight. If you ask how this is possible, you should probably give the song a listen and tell me how you could NOT play it for hours on end. Even now, I am listening to "Don't Get Cute" on repeat. Needless to say, Kurt Vile was my must-see act at Northside Festival, especially since I missed him at Silent Barn on my birthday.

But, before Kurt Vile would close out the night at The Shank, there were a few bands to stand through, ranging from good to painful. We arrived minutes before Best New Music'd Woods hit the stage. The Shank was so packed that badge holders were no longer granted entrance, but a few dollars ameliorated that situation. Seeing as the event was hosted by Less Artists More Condos, I wasn't surprised to see that The Shank was less of a "venue" and more of a practice space with some loft rooms, a little reminiscent of the place that held the last LAMC show I attended. The lack of air ventilation didn't deter people from checking out Woods, who was clearly one of the most popular acts of the festival.

I have to admit that I didn't like seeing Woods at Underground Lounge, where they performed with Wavves and Nodzzz. At that show, the sound was so unbalanced from where I was standing that everything just sounded like noise. Although the sound at The Shank wasn't the greatest and Jeremy's mic cut out at times, I could actually make out the individual components of their music. For me, being able to break down the sound complexities gave me an understanding of Woods that I didn't have before, one that is crucial in my appreciation for their music. Music aside, I have a lot of respect for Jeremy Earl and his label, Woodsist, which is putting out some of the most exciting music that I've been listening to in the last few months. Everything that I've ordered from Woodsist has been personally mailed by Jeremy Earl, and that is amazing to me.

To Clean - Woods

Kurt Vile and the Violators were scheduled to go on at 1 AM, but some members of the Violators were held up elsewhere. By the time the full band materialized on stage, it was close to 2:30 AM. As Kurt tuned his guitars, he said, "Sorry for the delay...pedals." The joke was lost on most of the crowd. I would have liked to have seen Kurt entertain us by himself in the meantime, but I guess the bill did read "Kurt Vile & the Violators." While the band only played for about 30 minutes, it was enough to leave me wanting more. Sure enough, I've been giving Kurt Vile plenty of rotation since the Northside performance. I may prefer Vile's bedroom rock stylings of Constant Hitmaker and God Is Saying This To You…, but seeing him with the Violators only confirmed my belief that Kurt Vile is destined for stardom (including an imminent BNM stamp of approval from P4K). During their set, I kept on shaking my head in disbelief. The same man who serenades with "My Sympathy" is also capable of jamming out the epic "Freak Train," complete with an unforgettable scream-sing. The two songs seem wildly different in style, but yet they both exemplify Kurt Vile's musical identity. Hippies Are Dead most eloquently strives to describe it in their review of God Is Saying This To You…. I hope we hear more of this brilliant juxtaposition on the forthcoming Childish Prodigy, to be released on Matador in Fall 2009.

Keep an eye out for the repress of God Is Saying This To You. They're only printing 500 more copies, so do not snooze on this purchase. You may want to order directly from Mexican Summer to avoid any mishaps. Kurt Vile will be performing during the Woodsist/Captured Tracks Festival, which has the most amazing lineup I've ever seen. I assume this will be KV without the Violators. Edit: The Woodsist show will be Kurt with a full band, but he has alluded to a couple solo numbers as well.

Freeway - Kurt Vile

My Sympathy - Kurt Vile

Don't Get Cute - Kurt Vile

Order Constant Hitmaker here. His entire discography is also available on iTunes. Do the right thing, buy it all, and then tell your friends to do the same.

Past coverage on Kurt Vile here. Thanks to Will Shu for shooting the show on behalf of MusicOlogy.


June 21, 2009

Northside Festival 2009 - Day 2

via Auditory Threshold

Day 2 of the Northside Festival started off with Sunset Rubdown, one of the festival's headlining acts. Sunset Rubdown began as a solo project of Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug, but it eventually grew into a full band. Sunset Rubdown has been touring North America in support of their latest album, Dragonslayer, and they made a stop at Studio B. Unfortunately, their set was plagued with many technical difficulties. Spencer faced the challenge of malfunctioning mics the entire night. Each time his mic was swapped out, the new one would inevitably cut out a little. I guess Studio B's equipment just couldn't handle Krug's powerful voice. Despite Krug's entertaining Canadianisms, the crowd was audibly distracted as the band pioneered through.

Idiot Heart - Sunset Rubdown

via Auditory Threshold

We wanted to drop by Real Estate's set at Death By Audio, but we were running too late to make the trip worth it. Instead, we headed over to Music Hall of Williamsburg to catch Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man on Earth. We last saw Kristian when he opened for Bon Iver. Since then, his Dylan-esque melodies and vocals have won over quite a crowd in New York, and it was obvious by the audience in attendance. Kristian was completely channeling a rockabilly style with his clothes and hair, and it always surprises me that he is indeed Swedish. No cover of Nico's "These Days" on this night, although someone did shout out a request, but you can enjoy a video of a past performance here.

via Auditory Threshold

I'm pretty unfamiliar with John Vanderslice and his music, but I decided to check him out based on some recommendations. There's something about him that reminds me of some of the music that I listened to during the 90's, including Better Than Ezra. Extremely accessible musicians like Vanderslice are pleasant to listen to, but they don't leave much of an impression on me. Out of his set, the song that I musically enjoyed the most was "Tablespoon of Codeine." Aside from the politically driven lyrics, the track has simple, yet haunting melody lines that have a way of embedding themselves into your memory. John Vanderslice is currently touring North America with The Tallest Man on Earth.

Tablespoon of Codeine - John Vanderslice

Coverage from Day 1 here.


June 16, 2009

Northside Festival 2009 - Day 1

via Auditory Threshold

This past weekend, L Magazine cured NYC's SXSW envy with the first Northside Festival, a music and art-filled four days in North Brooklyn. Known for being musician and artist friendly, Williamsburg and Greenpoint were the obvious choice locales for a Brooklyn-based music festival. With a dense population of music stages and art galleries, North Brooklyn is dream come true for a music lover, and I thank L Magazine for taking full advantage of the local culture for the festival.

Northside Festival kicked off on Thursday with a short list of events. The first stop for me was Ducktails, a project of Matt Mondanile who also plays in the much-loved Real Estate. I only caught the end of his set which included "Beach Point Pleasant," a track off the recently released self-titled LP (Order here). Cameo Gallery, a fairly new art gallery/music venue located inside the Lovin' Cup Cafe, was a strangely appropriate venue for Ducktails. Darkly intimate with iridescent strips hanging from the ceiling, Cameo could be the best indoor space for an experimental one-man or one-woman show. That being said, I have to admit that seeing Ducktails live wasn't the most thrilling experience, which is what I expected going into the show. Because I have such little knowledge of what actually goes into creating his sound, it was hard for me to be engaged. 7 inches has some great insight into what he believes Matt is doing onstage, and I highly suggest that you go over there and read his write-up. If someone would like to walk me through some of the technicals, I would appreciate that, too. Ducktails has an awesome LP, and I recommend that you pick up a copy. I ordered directly from Not Not Fun Records and it came with some interesting packaging. Ducktails was also featured on the Free Music Archive recently.

Let's Rock the Beach (Live at WFMU) - Ducktails

After Ducktails, I stayed a little longer for Julianna Barwick. I don't know much about Julianna, so this may be a crude evaluation of her set. While I think some of her songs are very beautiful and soothing, it was uninteresting for me to watch someone use samples and only contribute live vocal loops. "You Catcher" has beautiful minimalist picked guitar lines and upper register piano chords, and I would have liked to have seen Barwick create the instrumental loops herself. In a way, Julianna Barwick's music reminds me of French films, the ones that have no real plot, pinnacle, or resolution. Some people are into that, but it's not my cup of tea.

You Catcher (Daytrotter Session) - Julianna Barwick

To close out the night, I headed to Studio B, which is once again in danger of losing its liquor license. Brightblack Morning Light sounded like a psychedelic funk band, backed by a couple brass instruments. I recognized the saxophonist from the Akron/Family show at Bowery Ballroom. As much as I liked Brightblack Morning Light's sound, their songs started to blur together after a short while. Calming music, but not the best band to see late at night when all you want to do is crawl into bed.

Oppressions Each - Brightblack Morning Light

Elsewhere at Northside Festival, correspondent Auditory Threshold attended a headlining performance by The Hold Steady and shot some great pictures. Head on over to Auditory Threshold to see and read the rest.


June 2, 2009

Grizzly Bear - MHOW 05.31.09

via Will Shu

The NYTimes may have hated seeing Grizzly Bear, but I couldn't disagree more with the review. After this past weekend, I've now experienced Grizzly Bear four times, and the guys sound better with each show. Some people are turned off by the band's lack of crowd interaction, and I can understand that. I definitely thought the band looked bored by their own music when I first saw them. Since then, I've been educated by One For The Good Days to watch drummer Chris Bear if I ever need to be entertained. But, I don't go to Grizzly Bear shows to be visually entertained. Over and over, I go back because I simply can't get enough of the absolutely stunning moments that they create, the kind of music that is so beautiful that it breaks your heart every single time.

When Grizzly Bear started with a near-perfect rendition of "Southern Point," one of my favorites off the latest Veckatimest, I knew that their show at Music Hall of Williamsburg would be a special night. In the smallest venue I have ever seen them play, Grizzly Bear seemed at ease, as if they were actually enjoying themselves. That's right, the normally stoic Grizzly Bear members had smiles on their faces. They appeared noticeably more comfortable, and the audience could hear it in the music. I preferred GB without the extra trimmings like Nico Muhly or the ACME String Quartet who were both at the Town Hall show I attended on the previous Friday. Seeing the four members up close, I couldn't help but think how cosmic it is that these people somehow found each other in order to create this music. I don't know how people can find Grizzly Bear to be cold, because I find their music to be extremely transportive in the most emotionally manipulative way. It is rare to find music so powerful that it's able to speak to you on a somewhat subconscious level. Yes, they are very precise musicians, but their consistency is something I look forward to with each concert. In the end, I have to admit that I may have an uncommon reaction to Grizzly Bear's music. When I hear a song like "Little Brother," I can't help but smile like a fool. Maybe particular music elements resonate deeply with me, but I know that I'm a fan for life.

One thing I noticed during the show was how much I enjoyed listening to the older, non-Veckatimest material. It took me quite awhile to wrap my head around Yellow House, but I almost think I like it more than Veckatimest. After carefully listening to an album for an extended period of time, I find the "lightbulb moment" (if it ever occurs) to be such a delightful reward. With Veckatimest's greater immediate accessibility, the epiphany factor is now missing for me. I've now gone back to listening to Yellow House, of which "Easier" is my current favorite. If you've recently become a fan of Grizzly Bear, I suggest that you take the time to go through their earlier discography.

And, don't forget to watch Chris Bear if you find your mind wandering at the next Grizzly Bear show. Click here for past Grizzly Bear coverage.

via Will Shu

Southern Point - Grizzly Bear

Easier - Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear


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