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May. 2nd, 2013

Best of 2012

my list seems to have gotten lost in any other area...as i trust LJ, here is my list of top albums for the year

1. The Lumineers - The Lumineers
2. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
3. Brandi Calile - Bear Creek
4. Tallest Man on Earth - There's No Leaving Now
5. Japandroids - Celebration Rock
6. Sera Cahoone - Deer Creek Canyon
7. Frightened Rabbit - State Hospital
8. Allo Darlin - Europe
9. Angel Olsen - Halfway Home
10. Mumford & Suns - Babel

Apr. 1st, 2013

Frightened Rabbit @ St Andrews - 3/30/13

its been a long damn time since i've written in here... coincidentally it looks like the last time was for a FR related show.  We saw them back in November 2012 in Chicago at Lincoln Hall.  They had just released the State Hospital EP...the wife was 3 months pregnant.  At that time, we went in knowing it was GA but the balcony had seats if you got there early.  so we did.  Fast forward to this spring.  When i saw them coming to Detroit for the first time as a headliner at one of my favorite venues, i had to go.  i told H she could sit this one out.  she would be well along in her pregnancy, i was comfortable going by myself.  but she insisted she wanted to go.  So forward to concert night.

We realized that there was a possibility she could be standing almost 4 hours at this GA venue...so we tweeted to Scott Hutchison (lead singer) and asked for an on stage time.  i also asked if i could get a chair for my pregnant wife.  half joking, i was pleasantly surprised to see a response indicating "hello! we go on at 10pm, but let me see about that chair...i'll get back to you".  rather excited about the possibility, but knowing the rigors of tour life, assumed we would not hear back.  standing in line at 8:30, i check my phone and read "see Esteban at merch...he has 2 VIP passes for you...enjoy!"  We were in awe and very stoked at Scott's generosity.  i had never known of a "VIP" area at St Andrews...but we learned about it in short order.  We enjoyed a seat along the balcony with space to sit, set our drinks, put our feet up, etc.

The band came out to a raucous Detroit crowd.  As they tore into their set with an upbeat, intense drum beat driven "Holy" to start their set and then into two fan favorites, the security guards near us had to take a peek at who these guys were.  I've been to a lot of shows, not many can compare to that kind of intensity of the crowd.  A long time coming for this show and a great great album that we have had a chance to taste for the past two months had everyone on their toes in anticipation of the band.

Old mixed with new to provide a very quick 1:30 set.  I say quick because Scott barely had time to say much more than "thanks".  they tore through as many songs as they could with a very obvious drop dead off stage of 11:45p requirement.  Was relatively surprised at the set closer "Acts of Man".  A quiet/building opener on their new album Pedestrian Verse, however, was blown away at the heavy rock outro spin they put on the tune.  The encore closed out with the heavy fan participating "Loneliness" with emphatic claps and an acapella outro similar to what we saw in Chicago.  I'd put money down to see these guys over anyone playing music right now.  Just great stuff.  Scott is a great song writer and even better performer.

Modern Leper
Old Old Fashioned
Late March, death March
December's Traditions
Nothing Like You
Backyard Skulls
Head Rolls Off
Oil Slick
Backwards Walk
State Hospital
Poke (Scott acoustic)
Good Arms v Bad Arms (Scott acoustic --> band)
Swim Until You Cant See Land
Acts of Man

Living in Colour
The Loneliness and the Scream


Dec. 17th, 2011

Best of 2011

Oh my, 2011 is nearing an end and as I review my post log, it appears my abilities to blog are going down the tubes.  First, we had a baby and second, we have now moved to Michigan...so my primary blogging activies surrounding concert-going is very minimal.  Add that to the fact that my new job creates nearly zero ability to scribe my thoughts during work hours and I am left with very few notes other than a "now playing"-esque note on facebook every now and then.  One thing that remains true...and I am very proud to say...that I am 100% vinyl after making the transition around the 2008 timeframe.  I recently upgraded speakers to a set of Pioneer SP-FS51-LRs and am extremely happy with the purchase.  There are sounds on Amos Lee's "Last Days at the Lodge" that I did not know existed.  Slowly but surely, I am building an appropriate listening machine.  The next in line will be an upgrade to the turntable...in the meantime, I continue to collect as much great music on vinyl as possible. 

On to the year in review...as I mentioned, 2011 has not kept any sort of excitement in its pocket...we not only celebrated the 1st anniversary of the birth of our child, but we decided to change career paths and leave Chicago for west Michigan.  From a family and financial standpoint it has been tremendous...however, there is the hipster/hippie/yuppie/college kid/music afficionado mix in my blood that wishes I could still take the train to work to/from work while sampling my latest music endeavours while also being in a city that I could catch all of the newest and latest acts on a daily basis when time allowed.  However, whenever I see the look on my boy's face when he is experiencing an appropriate childhood experience in his new yard, those thoughts fade away.  We do visit and are grateful to have great friends and many favorite venues to revisit.  That being said...it is time to note my favorites of the year.  IMO, the year for new music was rather weak...most purchases and endulgences were for older releases.  I have only included those I very much enjoyed on my 2011 list.

Albums of the Year:
1. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
2. Matt Nathanson - Modern Love
3. Release the songbird - Come Back to Us
4. Brandi carlile - Live at Benyroya Hall w Seattle Symphony
5. Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
6. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
7. Feist - Metals
8. Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto
9. Lisa Hannigan - Passenger
10. The Low Anthem - Smart Flesh

Reeb of the Year:
Mad Hatter IPA - Holland, MI

Shows of the year:
1.  Scott Hutchinson solo - Vic/Hard Rock Hotel, Chicago
2.  Brandi Carlile solo - Space, Evanston, IL
3.  Gregory Alan Isakov - Ark, Ann Arbor, MI
4.  Glen Hansard solo - Millenium Park, Chicago
5.  Ray Lamontagne and Brandi Carlile - Millenium Park, Chicago

Song of the Year:
Iron & Wine - Walking Far from Home


Feb. 22nd, 2011

Scott Hutchison @ The Vic / Hard Rock Hotel

Thursday night we headed to the Vic to catch Scott Hutchison who was playing a solo set opening for Josh Ritter.  I do not know much about Josh Ritter, but have heard good things about his performances – so I figured that would be a bonus.  Scott came out to a rather full crowd and began with “Modern Leper” and by mid-tune it was obvious that many Frightened Rabbit fans were in attendance – many singing and dancing along.  Those who were not familiar with Scott or his band became quickly in tune with his vulgar personality…as a story about a pubic hair stuck in his throat followed his first tune.  Also after his first tune, he said “btw if anyone knows FR, shout ‘em out and I’ll play ‘em…I don’t have a setlist”.    Other than the younger attendees that could not keep their mouth shut during his performance (back turned to the stage, iphone glaring and carrying on a conversation) the opener set was all that one could hope for in a venue like the Vic (1500 capacity).  However, our night was about to get significantly better…sometime around 3/4 of the way through his set he said “I’m playing a free show down at the Hard Rock Hotel tonight…first come, first served if you are interested…I’ll probably be a lot more drunk by then, so it could be interesting”  So at the end of his set we decided we would sacrifice seeing Josh to witness Scott at a much more intimate venue.
The Vic
Modern Leper
Backwards Walk
The Twist
Old Fashioned
Good Arms v Bad Arms
Swim Until You Can’t See Land
Keep Yourself Warm
Living in Colour
At 9:25pm we walked up to the Hard Rock and were wondering what kind of crowd we would encounter…no line outside of the hotel was a good first sign.  Then as we approached we wondered if we were in the right spot.  After asking the front desk if Scott was playing…he sounded very enthusiastic “yeah, right through those doors…its getting pretty crowded so I’m not sure if they are letting anyone else in”.  For a moment we were wondering if we missed the boat.  However, as we approached the door we realized the bar was rather empty and also that we might have been the only people there for Scott.  Very trendy and most of the people looked at us like we were in the wrong place – most others were in sport coats, etc (much more dressy than jeans/t-shirt that we were sporting).  We ordered a beer at the bar and sat and waited…slowly we saw a few more low key looking people walk in...a good clue was scraggly beards – these guys were here to see Scott.
At 9:55pm the place started to look relatively full (40-50 people) and we took a spot about 5 feet from the stage…when Scott arrived armed with 3 instruments – two guitars and a bottle of Jameson.  After plugging in he took in the size of the room “well, we’re gonna get to know each other pretty quick…and you have me kind of trapped back here so I guess I’ll play every song I’ve ever written and then you’ll let me out”.  From that point forward he tore through nearly every tune from the latest two FR releases, Midnight Organ Fight and Winter of Mixed Drinks.  He pulled from his bottle of Jameson after the first song “does anyone have a glass, this looks pathetic”.  The next 1.5 hours were filled with some of the most inspired and intimate performances I have ever seen...full of sing alongs, Scott banter and of course - an ample amount of vulgarity.  Great, great, great stuff.  Scott hung out after the show and I had to go up to say hello.  shook his hand  just said "thank you for doing this...this was incredible" he said "hey, thanks for comin out man...this was really fun - see you in the fall"

Outside of the last four tunes, order of songs is very suspect. 
Hard Rock Hotel
Swim Until You Can’t See Land
Backwards Walk
Be Less Rude
(The Funeral)* àOld Fashioned
Head Rolls Off
Poke (unplugged)
I Feel Better
The Wrestle
Skip The Youth
Fast Blood
Not Miserable
The Loneliness and the Screamà
Nothing Like You
Living Colour
Keep Yourself Warm
*Band of Horses
best part of the night - caught via youtube (I swear I must have been right next to this camera)

and a good clip from the vic...easy to see the contrast in venue/experience

Feb. 17th, 2011

in anticipation of Scott Hutchison rocking my face off

Frightened Rabbit is my favorite new band in some time.  Most of that is due to the lyrics and songwriting from lead Scott Hutchison...he approaches all walks of life in creative ways...one of my favorite verses:

Dip the toe in the ocean. Oh how it hardens and it numbs.
And the rest of me is a version of man
built to collapse into crumbs
And if I hadnt come down
To the coast to disappear
I may have died in a land-slide
Of the rocks, the hopes and fears

tonight he opens for Josh Ritter...who I have not seen live...Scott will be solo.  With previews like this available I can only imagine in a few hours I'll be tripping over my jaw for the remainder of the weekend.

Jan. 8th, 2011

Best of 2010

wow - what a difference having a kid makes!  not to mention, LJ is now blocked at work...therefore my lunch hour cannot be spent blogging about the finer things in life.  However, I have made it back to document my top music endeavours for the year...a little more involved this year.

We saw a few shows over 2010 (baby arrived in April)...most of them noted in the AOTY list...Jenny & Johnny, Ray Lamontagne/David Gray, The Low Antem (with wife at 39 weeks pregnant), DMB at Wrigley Field...but when I went to see Kristian Matsson (Tallest Man on Earth) at Park West all other efforts for performance of the year went out the window.  He was simply amazing.  Park West was a packed house and you could have heard a pin drop throughout the performance.  Incredible.

2010 Albums of the Year:
1.  The Tallest Man on Earth* - The Wild Hunt

2.  Frightened Rabbit - Winter of Mixed Drinks

3.  Jenny & Johnny - I'm Having Fun Now

4.  Ray Lamontagne and the Pariah Dogs - God Willin and the Creek Dont Rise

5.  The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

* - TMOE not only locked down the performance of the year and album of the year, but he also holds the crown for song of the year...off his unannounced, yet superb, 5 song EP "Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird".

Song of the Year = "The Dreamer" - TMOE

Reeb of the Year = Boulder Brewing's Mojo IPA


Jan. 2nd, 2010

2009 in Review

Another extremely eventful year for us. The number of shows in 2009 was significantly down from 2008. A few reasons for this - but the major reason being that we trimmed a lot of fat and those shows we did see were superb. Not a single cd was purchased throughout the year, however numerous vinyl joined the collection. A baby on the way - the shows next year will be even fewer and further between. My thoughts on my 2009 year:

Albums of the Year:

1. The Antlers - Hospice
2. The Swell Season - Strict Joy
3. Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey
4. Brandi Carlile - Give Up the Ghost
5. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
6. The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You
7. Low Anthem - Oh My God Charlie Darwin
8. Gregory Alan Isakov - This Empty Northern Hemisphere
9. Pearl Jam - Backspacer
10. Bon Iver - Blood Bank

Performances of the Year:

1. Sam Beam solo - Schubas
2. Ray Lamontagne solo – The Auditorium
3. Brandi Carlile - Lakeshore Theatre
4. Lisa Hannigan - Martyrs
5. Swell Season - The Auditorium

Reeb of the year:

Three Floyd's Gumballhead

Summary of my 2009 shows:

Lisa Hannigan w/ The Low Anthem - 2/28/09, Martyrs
Ray Lamontagne - 4/17/09, Playhouse Theatre
Iron & Wine - 5/13/09, Shubas
Howie Day - 3/29/09, Lakeshore Theatre
DMB - 9/26/09, Tinley Park
Brandi Carlile - 4/8/09, Lakeshore Theatre
Xavier Rudd - 8/11/09, Vic Theatre
Ray Lamontagne solo - 11/18/09, The Auditorium
Swell Season - 12/2/09, The Auditorium

Oct. 3rd, 2009

DMB @ The World - 9/26/09

My 21st show did not disappoint. Venue is absolutely horrid and i've sworn to never go back, yet there I was along with my trooper of a pregnant wife giving our little one their first sounds of DMB, Willie Nelson and their first 2nd hand toke of the herb...

I can understand why the band might enjoy the venue.  Looking out, its a very nice place.  But the entrance, set up and overall experience is awful.  We were in the 15th row (thank you warehouse again) but we were well to the far left and had a very sharp angle to the stage.  The set up for restrooms/refreshments/merchandise is all in the same clustered location along with the entrance.  Therefore, prior to show (and especially during the set break prior to the band taking the stage) everyone and their brother is in that area.  Enough about the venue, seeing Willie Nelson was pretty cool.  Guy can still jam.  the crowd was very into it as well.  

The band made their way onto the stage at 8:20...which i am very grateful they keep to routine.  I am always confident I can approximate within 5 mins of when they will be on.  What new can I say about this band?  Well, the new album is a big change from their previous 3 efforts, the addition of Tim Reynolds and the arrival of Jeff Coffin as a fill for the founding member of the band, LeRoi Moore are a few to note.  The show and the album are concentrated on the memory of LeRoi.  "this is for Grux" said Dave prior to beginning 'Why I Am'.

The show displayed the new tunes (count 7) as well as mixed in classic tunes as well.  Highlights for me included LITHOG, Recently, STJL, Nancies and Baby Blue.  Baby Blue is Dave's song he wrote to say goodbye to LeRoi.  It was very beautiful to hear him play it solo.  The crowd was not the best, esp during this tune, but I do not think it will be played after this tour.  Its too much for Dave to get through.

The venue has changed names a few times, but it was once referred to as "The World" and that is what the band knows it as.  I have been there 3 times now and Dave likes to refer to the name and also include some songs that go along with that theme...nevertheless, we got to hear "One Sweet World".  One of my favorites, but i wish they would have included the opening jam.

We've made it a pattern to listen to a quiet Dave solo encore, seeing what will be next and then taking off to beat the drunken attendees out of the lot and avoid them on the road.  Due to the crowd, we left even earlier this time, after the first few notes of "The Maker" were strummed.  We missed Grey Street, which I have seen roughly 8 times.  If we ever hear Halloween or Last Stop - these are the only tunes I have never heard and we will be staying for those.  (Sorry in advance to the wife).

(Grace is Gone tease)
Dont Drink the WAter
So Damn Lucky
Gravedigger (w/ Willie Nelson)
Shake Me Like a Monkey
One Sweet World (swim naked)
Funny the Way it is
Lying in the Hands of God Recently (pretty pretty girl)
Song that Janes likes
Why I am
You and Me
Dancing Nancies
Jimi Thing (sexy Mfer)
So much to say-->
Anyone Seen the Bridge-->
Too Much (fake)-->
Ants Marching
Baby Blue (Dave solo)
The Maker (Daniel Lanois cover)
Grey Street

Aug. 1st, 2009

BW - 10 Years in the Making

Currently spinning - Dave Matthews Band - Big Whiskey & the Groo Grux King

Its been nearly two months since Dave Matthews Band released their latest album - Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King. Its also been almost 9 weeks since i last updated this page, coincidence? that would be one hell of an album, but actually, my company added some new filter and website access is extremely limited.

The album was begun (April sessions 2008) with founding band member LeRoi member, however, an ATV accident in the summer of 2008 during a tour break, would lead to him losing his life due to complications with injuries incurred. A shock to the DMB community and the band, there was speculation as to how they would proceed. Jeff Coffin (previously played with the Flecktones) has since joined the band for the album and 2009 tour. In making the album, the snippets of LeRoi jams and tunes from the April sessions were used as much as possible. Some areas on the album are hard to differentiate if it is LeRoi or Coffin. The album itself is a tribute to Moore, with the album beginning and ending with sax solos he had recorded prior to his untimely death.

The result is by far the best music this band has released since Before These Crowded Streets. There are a number of areas this can be attributed to - passing of LeRoi, new producer - but I could have told you back in 2008 this would be a great album, because Tim Reynolds was going to join in the studio. It has been my belief that Tim brings creativity out of Dave that unparralleled. Its no coincidence that the first three albums (referred to as 'the big 3'), Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash and Before These Crowded Streets all included Tim in the studio and on the road, while the latest 3 albums - Busted Stuff, Everyday and Stand Up - did not.

Is this their best work? Maybe not, but it is some of their most ambitious and most inspired. I think there are a few tunes that do not belong on the album. I feel that the beginning of the album through Dive In are great tunes. Others, such as Alligator Pie, Timebomb and Seven were not ready for a release. Another complaint is that the album doesnt seem to be cohesive. There seems to be 3 separate album themes - the first being what i refer to as 'DMB', the 2nd being 'songs in process' and the 3rd being 'Dave tunes'. The latter being songs i feel sound like they should be on a Dave solo album. Also, where is Boyd Tinsley?  A staple to their sound is the violin solos ("Lie in our Graves"), but he is barely apparent in these songs.  The final gripe is the mix. If you have followed along with any of the loudness war, you will understand this. The mastering (by Ted Jensen) is pathetic. The basic trend these days is to make cds "pop" - compress the tunes, increase the loudness, etc. I wont go on, but it is sad. Luckily for me, the vinyl is much better.  Unfortunately for listeners, the music is better than what is presented, and that is just unacceptable. Not the fault of the band, but the record company and industry in general.

That being said, this album has great music - and the best tune in a long damn time - is actually one that is mixed pretty well.  "Lying in the Hands of God" is so beautiful both musically and lyrically. The best and most unassuming song i have ever heard in support of gay rights.

"I am in love with nothing less.
Tear drops of joy runs off my face,
I will rise for someone that's afraid to love
Save your sermons for someone that's afraid to love.
If you knew what I feel then you couldn't be so sure"

Tims guitar work and presence on this tune brought back my passion in full force for this band within seconds. Additionally, the 'rock' feel to this album is impossible without Tim's guitar riffs. which leads me to believe he will be hanging around for a while.

The album maintains a tone of hope and remembering for LeRoi. Why I Am is a direct tribute to LeRoi. Other topics such as global warming, family, war, sex, etc are all present. And this is what is typical of Dave's lyrics - subtle, yet controversial to some. This mixed with the musicianship make this their most enjoyable in quite some time. Hopefully the StandUps and Everydays are behind us.

May. 25th, 2009

Iron & Wine @ Schuba's - 5/13/09

This intimate solo acoustic show was so anticipated it almost hurt. To put it in perspective, the previous two times I saw Sam was at the Vic @ 1200 capacity (http://herzag17.livejournal.com/16319.html) and at the Majestic in Detroit @ 500 capacity (http://herzag17.livejournal.com/23271.html). The attendance at Schubas was 200. Best of all - solo acoustic, did I say that? I might say it a few more times. Sam's music is so beautiful...some songs you just yearn to hear what it may sound like with only him and his Taylor.

Upon arriving early enough to gain a coveted spot in front of the soundbooth (where you can sit between acts and some can stand when they cannot see) we waited for the opening act. in a word, awful. Could not even tell you their name, but it was hard hard rock. Highly negative points to whomever decided to have the local Chicago act open. Everyone there to see Sam could not be detoured from their destination, but the reception was very bad.

If anything, the disappointment from the opening act only made the crowd that much more ready to see Sam take the stage. After entering from the street-side door to a raucous crowd and got himself situated, he went on to describe how happy he was to be playing a place such as Schubas. He also described to the crowd that "ya’ll already picked out the setlist, so there’s no need to be callin out songs…lets just hang out and have a good time".

Opening with the single song I truly wanted to hear (among them all) – "Each Coming Night" – I watched on with the crowd in awed silence. After the tune, I leaned to Dallas and said “I’m satisfied, he could stop right now”. But he did nothing of the sort. Sam tore through a selection of 17 songs, ranging from all of his released albums, a few from his forthcoming album of unreleased material “Around the Well” and a new tune “Mouth of the River”. He laughed at the “Our Endless Numbered Days”-heavy set…”ya’ll liked 2004 and that green album huh?”. Indeed, we did, Sam.

Each Coming Night
Cinders and Smoke
Flightless Bird, American Mouth
Lion's Mane
No Moon
Passing Afternoon
Free Until They Cut Me Down
Two Hungry Blackbirds
Sunset Soon Forgotten
Bird Stealing Bread
History of Lovers
Fever Dream
Stolen Houses
Mouth of the River
The Trapeze Swinger
Such Great Heights (Postal Service)

This and all shows from the tour are avail for purchase at playedlastnight.com

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