Check it out the full line-ups here:
Check it out the full line-ups here:
Meanwhile, take a look at the pictures to get a sense of the the lighting and set for the show. Both were great- instead of one large video screen in the background, Radiohead opted for 10 smaller, haphazard screens, each with a different shot of a band member from above. The screens also doubled as a mode of lighting, with colored light bulbs shining from behind when the lights went down.
Updated in the Live Photo Archive today are pics from last Friday's Office show at The Empty Bottle. Stay tuned tomorrow for Radiohead pics...
Is she being ironic, you ask? Is she being and antidotal hipster hipster?
Why no, my friends. I am being earnest and humble. The fact of the underground rock matter is that a lot of underground rock falls into three categories:
1. Cutesy pop rock
2. minimalist slow pop
3. Chaotic electronic noise
These three categories are not conducive to great live experiences. It’s not that I loathe Death Cab for Cutie, or I think Low is boring, or I find Boards of Canada pretentious. It’s just that the music of some artists, when transposed to the stage, loses something, whether it is due to a crowd, or my own physical drain, or a performer’s immobility. Some music, for me at least, isn’t appealing live. It was meant to be listened to while I’m in my own element.
Seeing certain musicians live, however, should be a requirement for anyone who wants to claim to have any sort of credible live show-going repertoire. Certain musicians move beyond the framework of an indie rock show and merge into the limitless confines of aural transcendence. Some music is meant to be experienced rather than listened to. And Liars is among the select modern bands whose music is at its most meaningful when it is live and coursing and threatened by the potential for collapse. With Liars your element is at the mercy of the band’s own terms.
Around 10:30 on Sunday night, Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross began playing their hour-long set to a Logan Square Auditorium crowd that seemed split between those who knew what they were getting into, those who weren’t sure of what they were getting into, and those who knew and didn’t want to get into it. It was easy to either be scared or sexually aroused by just the sight of Andrew, whose black and white checked blouse and skirt sat snuggly against his bony frame, and whose wild mane and primordial facial hair gave him a disposition to match the sounds he was creating. Hemphill was a cutesy indie counter weight with boyish looks and rumpled hair that belied his powerful, percussive capabilities on guitar and drums. I couldn’t even see Gross through the mess of flailing bodies in front of me.
Those who weren’t flailing stood slightly dazed, perhaps waiting for “The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack,” which never came. Liars did trek through several tracks from Drums Not Dead, but mostly the intensely percussive songs, including “Be Quiet Mt. Heart Attack!” and “A Visit from Drum,” and they also pounded through older tunes. Overall the sound was less post punk and more primal fury. Unleashed upon us was a noise so intense and seething, so rhythmic and incessant that it struck nerves and resulted in contorted faces, convulsing bodies, or emotional outpourings.
It’s besides the point to critique the sound quality of a Liars show. To be honest, I didn’t even make the slightest note of the show’s production. It was all about invigorating noise, the mushy feeling in the gut. The energy was altogether profoundly personal, profoundly sexual, and through much of the show I had my eyes closed and found myself lost in the sound of raucous guitars, grumbling, screeching vocals and pummeling beats, elevated to that height of introspection where thoughts and sounds mesh, and I forgot that I was at an indie rock show, forgot the smell of sweaty bodies, forgot that I was among a crowd of music snobs somehow unmoved.
Yes, there were some stone cold bodies, but mostly the crowd seemed appreciative and there was much jumping, much head-banging, much moshing-lite. Andrew worked us a bit, jabbing his guitar in our direction, sauntering oh-so seductively. He stared at us numbly. He yelled at us. He talked to us in a conversational tone that was intriguingly normal. It all reminded me of my stint substitute teaching for the challenged kids at an Indiana high school. Except Liars are perhaps geniuses, and are less likely to call me a sexy bitch than they are to make me feel like one. Indeed, this is one show I’m happy to add to my show-going repertoire. I’m also happy to add it to the fuel of my libido.
Watch out fellows. Indie rock shows can still excite me, after all.
Fatboy Slim - The Greatest Hits: Why Try Harder (Astralwerks)
It seems that someone should have tried harder, because this collection is about 6 years too late. I have to admit, at the time I actually rather liked You've Come A Long Way, Baby (1998), even with "The Rockafella Skank" getting played into the ground. However, by the time its follow up was released a short two years later, Norman Cook's schtick seemed, well..."so 1998." These days, it's almost like Fatboy Slim has dropped off the face of the Earth. Does anyone remember an album called Palookaville released in 2004?? I barely remember that coming out and don't think I even heard a note off of it. Adding to the irrevelancy of this release, the entire Fatboy Slim catalog is readily available in used bins for about a buck or two a piece...so why anyone would shell out a full $18.99 for this is beyond me.
Submarines - Declare A New State (Nettwerk)
Cute indie couple from Boston who were together for four years but then split up after moving L.A., inspiring this record of sad break-up tunes. However, in a plot worthy of the WB primetime, the heartfelt songs written about their experiences brought the young lovers closer together than ever, and they are now married. In fact, the mastering of this record was actually a wedding present from one of their friends.
Also this week...
Kyle Andrews - Amos In Ohio (Badman)
Brightback Morning Light - Brightback Morning Light (Matador)
Guster - Ganding Up On The Sun (Reprise)
Keane - Under The Iron Sea (Interscope)
Luna - Best of (Rhino)
Smoosh - Free To Stay (Barsuk)
This was the second time I have seen The Spinto Band, I was only slightly less disappointed than the first time. This six-piece buzz band from Delaware with a median age of 20, have a lot of potential to ripen into a solid live act. They bring a dose of high energy with their spastic dance moves, constant head bobbing, and entertaining stage theatrics. These comical antics however outshine their live audio output at times, when their heavily layered guitars and drums clash together producing a deafening roar akin to nails on a chalk board. But, when they get it right, the product is delectable. The harmonic radiance on the pop diamond "Oh, Mandy" has the power to send vibratory chills down your spine, with it's Sigur Ros-esque vocals and instrumentation. But, other than the kazoo-tastic "Brown Boxes" and the effervescent "Crack the Whip", much of their set was a bit of a wash. They did strut out some new tunes, which had some definite listening potential, but I think I will wait until a studio cut is released before I make that decision. The Spinto Band are a great example of band that sounds great on CD, but their live sound is unpolished, and at times jarring.
The Lovely Feathers won my pick of the night. This five man band from Montreal barreled through their danceable post-punk pop set fueled on vegetable testosterone. They displayed a much tighter sound, cool and collected, and the chemistry between dueling guitarists Mark Kupfert and Richard Yanofsky as they switched off shared lead vocal duties was undeniably perfection. Though their voices have rather different and distinct qualities, the mixture of their unique vocals produce a very appealing result. Mark Kupfert sounds like a demented Ben Folds screaming through David Byrne's vocal cords, while Richard drips out a sweet, emotional balladeer sound (which probably stems from the guilt of not becoming a doctor despite his grandmother's wishes). Together they sprinkle ooh's and aah's like two lovebirds on a spring day throughout most of their fresh and lively set. There were a few moments when Mark inadvertently messed up Richard's "vibe", but these moments were endearing and allowed a more revealing look at their partnership. Despite these minor flubs, they played through their set with a warm and inviting energy, which was packed with songs from their new album HIND HIND LEGS. The Lovely Feathers sound just as grand live as they do on their album. They successfully replicate live the "jump off your feet energy" of their punk-pop treat "Frantic", which is pure, danceable fun. But, the true stand out moment of their set was when the exchanged jabs via guitar licks on their monopoly inspired "In The Valley", it was like a rock history snapshot torn straight from the pages of David Bowie and Mick Ronson. The Lovely Feathers take you one place and then soar you to another world, they will lull you into a fetal position then scream you awake with an emotional outburst. They are fun, absurd, and will make you dance.
(Check out more pics from the show here)
For those who haven't heard you, describe what Office music sounds like
We attempt to make our music look, sound, and feel like one of those old black and white films that has been "colorized" 10 years after it's release....where every hue is slightly radiated, glowing, and a bit off. A beautiful nuclear fallout, and nobody hurt during the explosion. That's the best way I can describe us.
What inspired your sound?
Inspiration is a weird concept. I can honestly say the music of Office is inspired by people like Eugene Mirman, Dave Chappelle, Rimbaud, Warhol, Paolo Conte, Tom Waits, Damien Hirst, and Charles Bukowski more than any rock and roll band. I'm speaking from my own opinion, of course. I don't listen to music all that much, and when I do, it's usually in short and sweet increments. I often feel like I was born in the wrong decade, so the majority of my music collection is older than I am. If you ask anybody else in our band, they will have a better understanding of what they're inspired by musically. I appreciate the powerful combination of melody and lyrics, but I still don't even consciously think about where it came from.
Describe the live Office experience.
What we do onstage is celebrate the lost art of The Song, and our own eccentricities within the music market. Period. We don't care who hates us or loves us. Our live show is simply four musicians, and one singing/dancing secretary, performing these songs as if our lives depended on it. Performing is like going to war sometimes. We put our suits and makeup on, and we go to work. It's quite simple, really. The show is stripped down sonically, but that's usually more exciting and immediate for the audience anyway. We love our listeners, and we try not to ever lose ourselves to ego, idiocy, and industry politics. This gets more difficult as more people start hearing about you.
We don't hide behind all the studio trickery, overdubs, and edits when we're onstage. Our band's main purpose is to keep things as truthful as possible, and this philosophy translates well into the live context.
How did the band come together? Have any of you been in other groups before?
The band came together in late 2004. We were all mutual friends, but none of us were extremely close. Now, we are almost like a family, as corn-ball as that sounds. Erica and Alissa were in an all-female band called "Twat Vibe" before they joined Office. Erica has also been a well-respected DJ throughout Chicago for years. Tom and I met while we were both employees at a paper store in Oak Park. He came from various punk rock bands like I did. The topic of Fugazi came up one day at work, and we both agreed that we should be in a band together. Alissa and Erica joined later.
I am originally from the suburbs of Detroit, and was in tons of bands back in the 90s. I was mostly a bass player during those days, and the stuff I was involved with was pretty progressive. My fascination with production came around 1995. To make a long story short, my song-writing didn't see the light of day until I had already been doing it for about 4 years alone in my bedroom. I was self-conscious about my singing voice up until around 1998, and kept my songs to myself, a cassette 4-track, and a few close friends. I think I started playing instruments when I was 7 years old with the piano.
Why did you choose the name "Office"?
Because it creates an interesting dialogue between the audience and ourselves. Public vs. entertainment. Masculinity vs. femininity. Commerce vs. art. Simple vs. complicated. It blurs the lines between creativity, work, play, fear, and love for most people. Some people become their careers. In a lot of ways, I feel this band has become my number one focus in life....so the name makes sense. There are lots of groups of people who share a common goal, and they each have their own task within the organization. With that being said, every band is an office.
Your self-released record from last year sounds pretty tight...have the majors been vigilant?
Thank you! Hmmmmm......Oddly enough, "Q&A" was recorded in my bedroom on really lame equipment. Proof that you don't necessarily need to wait around for anybody to create. Technology developments have allowed artists the luxury of working on their own schedules, and ours is pretty hectic.
Office will likely need an indie label in the end, unless there is some major label out there with a different approach. Indie labels allow artists more of an environment conducive to productivity and creativity, as well as giving those artists control over their own business decisions. You can make more money on an indie label, I think. It's my belief that major labels want to control every aspect of a band's career, and we simply cannot let this to happen to our band. They say "it's just the business", but those companies can never control the power of the Internet and exchange of information. They also know they can't have a bunch of educated progressives like us running around, causing too much noise, or writing the kind of pop music we write.
But yes.....we do get flirty emails from people, phone calls, and folks from labels attending our shows. I was very receptive to this "courting" at the beginning. It was exciting, but now it's just funny. I'm waiting for the one A&R person who will blow my mind with his/her ideas. Most A&R people we've dealt with seem to miss the point of our band, and I often find myself thinking about food or sex when I'm having a conversation with them. They hear dollar signs, and we hear the notes we haven't played yet.
"Last year's crowd was very homogonous. There's a whole city full of people who aren't tied to their computers all day, who get their music from the radio or mix tapes..."
Also in the issue is my interview with Mike Skinner of The Streets. It was only a 15-minute phoner, but I ended up with a lot more material than I had space for in Newcity. However, their loss is RFC's gain...jump to the next post for additional insight from everyone's favorite Birmingham geezer.
I’ve kind of known her off and on for years. I saw her last night for the first time in quite a while. When you promote internationally like I am and she is, you know... you don’t touch down for very long.
Has there been anything from the American hip-hop scene that you've been into lately?
I quite like the new Megan Rochell…there’s some new Scarface bits I like...Rick Ross...just bits of everything. I think the production is still really fresh. I think the kind of competition to see who’s the hardest is a bit of a one-way street, though. I think that’s the only problem with it. How tough do you want to get before you just end of being a bit silly.
What do you think is the number one misconception that Americans have about Engish people or culture?
Well, there’s a lot of different kinds of Americans. I think if you speak to most people in New York, you know...most of them more switched on people, they’ve got a fairly accurate view of how complicated and dense people we are. But I think outside of that, it’s different.
Well, I think they just judge us by our past really, you know? Like I say...we make wrong stereotypes of Americans because we think they’re all kind of fat and bigoted like George Bush. But you’re not, ya know?
One last question...who’s going to win the World Cup?
Mike Skinner and The Streets close out the first night of Intonation (June 24), schedued start time is 9:20pm...(like you're not going to be there for six hours prior already)
What the hell brought you up to Chicago?
Alissa and Lauren (I couldn't keep up with who was saying what)- We played a show with a Chicago based band Lesser Birds of Paradise down south when we were playing with Isabella Parole. We developed a friendship with them, and eventually came up to Chicago to play a show with them in 2004 at the Beat Kitchen. We really wanted to see how the scene was up here, and the show was encouragement enough to relocate and see how things would work out. We love the fact that there is always going on in the music scene.
How has your music grown since moving out here and forming Manatella?
Lauren- Shelly is more powerful and rhythm driven with her drumming, which has led us to keep up and be more rhythm driven with the rest of the band.
What would you say your favorite colors are?
What can someone expect at your upcoming show this weekend?
Alissa- A hot drummer who wears high heels and kicks ass. We will also be unleashing a My Morning Jacket style jam song...and there is always the chance of something ridiculous happening.
Lauren- Expect a band of good friends, who enjoy playing music together and work hard doing it.
Manatella will be playing this Saturday, June 17th with Avagami and Starina and the Vel Johnsons at the Viaduct Theater. You can check out Manatella's music at
christian: Unlike the typical band-creation myths where a couple of dudes meet at a liberal arts college, citation : obsolete came about from a more constructed and intentional motivation. From about 1998 to early 2004, I worked in a blissbeat solo project. Eventually, I got tired of writing material that was drenched in privileged earnestness, so around April 2004, I formatted the hard drive with all my unfinished work, and started to radically rethink my approach to my music practice. Around the same period in 2004, I met Robin and setup a back-alley studio in Andersonville.
Isn't electro music "obsolete" these days?
Robin: Isn't rock music obsolete these days? Hasn't rock - both mainstream and indie - just been recycling various periods (the Strokes were garage, Interpol was post-punk, now the Editors are nouveau U2) in its history? Indeed, hasn't white rock post 1968 been a re-hashing of a supposedly more "authentic" past (e.g., the Rolling Stones trying to repeat the Delta Blues in Britain)? The way we see it, rock is a conservative genre: it is interested in preserving a tradition that has already exhausted itself. So, if you want to say that electro is 'obsolete' in light of indie rock's conservatism, yeah, sure, it is, because it's been a long time since the indie mainstream (so to speak) has cared about the now, the new, and the next. Our version of electro is not interested in preserving or conserving.
What's the story with Betty's? It's always been known as a late-night dance club, but now it seems like they're booking bands on a somewhat regular basis?
christian: I've noticed a lot of clubs are updating their house systems and stages so that they can be more multi-purpose performance venues (see Betty's, Darkroom, etc.) I'd imagine that gives artists more opportunities to perform, and it's certainly better for the audience with new and updated sound systems. These new spaces also seem to take more chances and have more variety with the kinds of acts they book.
Robin: I'd imagine it's mostly economics - they can probably get more people in the door buying drinks when they come to see a band perform.
What kind of show can we expect on Thursday?
christian: We're gonna bring the beat, and motherfuckers will shake it.
Tell us about your "Creative Commons" recording.
christian: We chose to release our first EP, Series One, as a CD-quality free download under a Creative Commons license. That allows our listeners to download, trade, and share our music freely. It's more important to us that our work be heard and contribute to the greater culture at large, rather than be shrink-wrapped and sold for $18.99 at some store in the mall.
In an environment where our rights are increasingly restricted through the use of DRM and the DMCA, it's important, as an artist, to say "We don't want our audience to be treated as criminals just because they want to listen to our work." We don't want young kids, grandparents, students, single-parents to be sued by the RIAA because they may or may not have traded music over P2P. That's bullshit. Releasing our work on a Creative Commons allows us to tell audiences that if they want to share and trade our work, they can do that without worrying about being sued by a group of lawyers who've never heard of the concept of free culture.
I highly encourage RFC readers to check out the "Free Culture" wikipage to learn more about this.
That being said, I still really enjoyed the show, even though everything I’ve described so far might normally have me heading for the door. This was primarily due to one reason: the fantastic stage presence of Ben Bridwell. His personality and energy were so engaging it was impossible not to like him and everything he did, especially when he threw his fists up in the air after each song, seemingly victorious that they’d made it through. He could spend too much time tuning the guitar, but the effortless jokes he told while we waited made it bearable. When he gave up on the bass during “Our Swords,” I laughed with him rather than sigh with frustration. Instead of seeing a band that had trouble getting it together, I saw a band just getting started. And regardless of the roughness of the show, everything still sounded good. Bridwell’s voice rang out clear and crisp across the small venue, stronger than the album might imply; opening song “Monsters” especially showcased his voice as he sat behind his lap steel, spastically tapping his foot while the band waited to join in. About halfway through the set, the band asked each other, “Should we do the cover? How about we do the cover? Let’s do the cover!” and then broke into a slowed down version of Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True,” which was hilarious and awesome at the same time. The majority of Everything All the Time made its way onto the set list, including “The Great Salt Lake,” “Wicked Gil,” and set-closer “The Funeral,” with Bridwell’s enthusiasm shining through them all the way. And even though the new songs seemed unfinished or ill placed, they still provided a glimpse into future material that most likely won’t disappoint.
Great, memorable shows need three things: good source material, good execution of that source material live, and a good stage presence by the band. Band of Horses put on a good show because they got two out of three; with so much time ahead to refine their ability to bring those great songs to the stage, there’s potential for a great show yet.
2005 had SY revisiting awesome. Japan, touring the boroughs of New York, rollicking at the first Arthurfest in L.A., and releasing the special deluxe edition of GOO. After one final gnarl out in Brazil w/ Flaming Lips, The Stooges and others, Mr. Jim O'Rourke decided to concentrate full-time on his Japanese studies of language and film and SY was subsequently back to it's OG nucleus of Kim-Thurston-Lee-Steve. Songs were written, Jim recommended engineer TJ Doherty and J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr) recommended mix engineer John Agnello and SY created the oddly titled "Rather Ripped". The whole deal was recorded in the waning hours of 2005 into the dawn sunshine of 2006 at the venerable Sear Sound studios in NYC's fading theatre district. Partially mixed there and at Hoboken, NJ's Water Music by the golden juice ear of John Agnello it exhibits SY in positive vibration mode. 12 songs of forward motion and harmonic/melodic surprise. Vocals shared by the frontline of Thurston, Kim and Lee with Steve groove gluing the rhythms into rock n roll infection.
After a string of dates across the country, SY finish off their summer tour with a return to Lollapalooza on August 5.
Mr. Lif - Mo'Mega (Def Jux)
Follow up to his amazing 2002 concept album, I Phantom, the part-time Perceptionist is back solo with El-P back at the controls. According to AllMusic, this one's a concept piece as well:
the album concerns the intersection of lower-class culture with an increasingly modernizing world, and how the latter is adversely affecting the former.
Check out Lif live at the Abbey Pub June 24th.
Also this week...
Barry Adamson - Stranger on the Sofa (Central Control)
Tony Allen - Lagos No Shaking (Astralwerks)
Brookville - Life in the Shade (Unfiltered)
Couch - Figur 5 (Morr)
Dabrye - Two/Three (Ghostly)
Futureheads - News and Tributes (Vagrant)
Hot Chip - The Warning (Astralwerks)
Six Organs of Admittance - Sun Awakens (Drag City)
It’s at this point that I find myself at a bit of a loss for words because it is no easy task to describe Travis Graves. His day job is pro skateboarder. Yes, a skateboarding singer-songwriter…I am well aware of the dangerous ground we tread. At some point, and maybe still, he was homeless living out of his tour van in California. His music is not quite as elusive to describe. His latest release, 2005’s Perspectives on Record Collection, is a well crafted album. At times, the album contains the same bare nakedness of a Leonard Cohen album as well as the beautiful accompaniments of Beck’s Sea Change. In fact this album feels eerily close to Sea Change, right down to its sincerity. While some of the tracks have beautiful lush melodies, they never take center stage.
I learned just prior to the concert that Mt. Egypt would be backed by Band of Horses. I have to admit, it crossed my mind more than once that Band of Horses might possibly lift this material in the way The Flaming Lips were able to do with Beck. That expectation is probably not fair to place on anyone. As it turns out, Mt. Egypt was joined by two members of Band of Horses, so while the accompaniment didn’t necessarily take the music to new territory, it made sure to give the material the proper amount of respect. Travis Graves is one of those characters that seem truly content with his place in the world, even while his music seems to evoke a certain sad honesty.
At the risk of sounding cliché, what becomes of Mt. Egypt, and Travis Graves, will depend on what Travis decides to do with music. The music seems poised to be taken to great places but for all I know he may be content in never releasing another album. A piece I found in Thrasher magazine (dig through that collection of thrasher magazines and see if you have it) somehow seems to convey what little I know about Travis Graves:
“Once I asked Travis if he was to be killed by any animal, what kind would he like it to be? He responded after thinking long and hard, "Unicorn. Definitely a unicorn. You know, the horn right through the heart."
I would also like to send thanks to Tony and Beth, wherever they may be, who without I might still be standing with camera and glass of whiskey cursing Schuba’s. Check out more pics from the night here.