Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Meanwhile, Back In Poland

Warsaw trio Sutari performing at the OFF Festival in Katowice, Poland, courtesy of the far-reaching KEXP.

Monday, October 5, 2015

What's Old Is New Again

LA's Silversun Pickups performing their 2006 song Lazy Eye last September 15 at Seattle's Sun Liquor.  Is it too soon to get over the 90s and engage in some 2000s nostalgia?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Chamber Cartel at The Goat Farm, Atlanta, October 3, 2015

Last  night, Atlanta's Chamber Cartel, a group of musicians seeking to find the rare, wonderful, imaginative, and beautiful in contemporary music, presented the Southeastern premier of Iannis Xenakis’ epic percussion sextet, Pleiades, at The Goat Farm.

The composition requires six percussionists and over 900 square feet of percussion instruments. Each percussionist had drums, tympani, marimbas, and something called a sixxen,  handmade microtonal steel bars designed by the composer for performing this piece.  

In Greek mythology, the Pleiades were the daughters of Atlas, who were saddened that their father was forced to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.  To protest, each committed suicide (now that's a supportive family!), an act of sacrifice that let to their immortality as a group of bright stars in the evening sky.  Xenakis' composition is a musical reanimation of the sisters in four movements - Peaux (Skins), played on drums and tympani, Claviers (Keyboards), played on marimbas, Metaux (Metals), played on the sixxens, and Melanges (Mixture), played, as the name suggests, on all of the above.  To give you an idea of the sound, here's New York's So Percussion performing the Metaux movement on sixxens.

To be brutally honest, I thought Chamber Cartel's performance was better, but it may be the difference between live performance and a recording.

InKyoung Chun's Blue Gate, which we last saw at the South Broad Block Party, guarded the entrance to Goodson Yard for the performance.

So a bit of a change of pace for Rocktober, a performance much closer to last week's Chris Child's Orchestra than the previous night's performance by Luna.  Refreshingly, the audience appeared to be totally devoid of bros.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Luna at Terminal West, Atlanta, October 2, 2015

Last night, the band Luna played the first show of their first American tour since 2005 with a set at Atlanta's Terminal West that included a performance of their 1995 album, Penthouse, in its entirety.

Atlanta's Matt Hollywood & The Bad Feelings opened.

Matt Hollywood is a founding member and integral part of The Brain Jonestown Massacre who recently has settled in Atlanta.  The band included a guitarist and a tambourine player (sorry, I should know their names but I don't) who both work as sound persons for the 529 club here in town.

Not surprisingly, The Bad Feelings play sludgey psych-rock with lots of guitar interplay (there are a total of three guitarists in the six-person band) and long song structures.  The songs included titles like Drugs and Drugsick in case the droning, psychedelic sound was too subtle to grasp the reference.  

Luna started their set around 8:50 (the evening was billed as an early-starting show).

It was a great set and Luna sounded crisp and tight, but I really have to say something about the predominantly male audience.  This is not by any means a knock against the band, but according to the Urban Dictionary, "bros" are "Obnoxious partying males who are often seen at college parties. When they aren’t making an ass of themselves they usually just stand around holding a red plastic cup waiting for something exciting to happen so they can scream something that demonstrates how much they enjoy partying. Nearly everyone in a fraternity is a bro but there are also many bros who are not in a fraternity. They often wear a rugby shirt and a baseball cap. It is not uncommon for them to have spiked hair with frosted tips.  Bros actually chose this name for themselves as they often refer to each other as 'bro' even though they are not related."

The room was packed with bro Luna fans who before the set began made a point of telling everyone around them how big of a fan they were and challenging the loyalty of other bros who weren't expressing sufficient enthusiasm for the upcoming show.  "Luna's back, man!" one bro shouted repeatedly to no one in particular while waiting for an open stall in the men's room before the encore. No one gave a high five to his upheld hand because we were in the men's room and, you know, germs.  

Yes, Luna are back, but it isn't like music itself had ended or, for that matter, there weren't performances by frontpersons Dean Wareham and Britta Prillips as Dean and Britta and The Dean Wareham band performing Luna songs since 2005 (the DWB played The Earl earlier this year).  I'm not saying the Luna reunion isn't a good thing (it is) - I guess what I'm saying is I suspect the bros' exuberant enthusiasm was more to show up other bros and establish one's bro credentials than it was for genuine appreciation of the music.

So, back to the folks on stage.  Luna were obviously having a blast performing, and the songs from 1995's Penthouse sounded as fresh last night as they did pre-millennium.  After completing their performance of Penthouse, including the "hidden track" Bonnie and Clyde (Britta singing Laetitia Sadier's lines from the record), they played a five- or six-song encore starting with Pup Tent, the title track of the 1997 album that followed Penthouse.

In all, it was a 90-plus minute set, not at all marred but actually amusingly enhanced by the over-the-top enthusiasm of the bros.

Friday, October 2, 2015

José González at Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, October 1, 2015

As if there were any lingering doubt, even the calendar now confirms that Rocktober is officially here.  What better way to confirm the season than a show by José González at Variety Playhouse, with none other than our old friends Luluc opening?

"Old friends" - we've seen Luluc perform once before, back when they opened for J Mascis at Terminal West during Rocktober 2014.  They were great then, and they sounded just as great last night - a sublime start to an enchanting evening.

Of course, headliner José González, playing his streams of mesmerizing music, made everyone forget not only the openers but at times their own names.

We've seen José perform before as Junip, once at Terminal West and once at The Earl (with Sharon Van Jones opening and joining him on a cover of U2's With Or Without You!) but never before on his own.  Last night, José performed his own songs, including several from his excellent new album Vestiges and Claws, as well as several Junip songs, such as Walking Lightly.

To be honest, there isn't too much difference between a Junip set and a José González set - in both settings, the band lines up in a semi-circle behind José, and in both cases the band includes keyboardist Barbarosa (who got a chance to sing one of his own songs last night during José's set). Perhaps the most notable difference is Junip includes more electronic instrumentation, while José's band relies more on analog percussion and guitars.  But either way, there's a pleasingly similarity to their sounds. 

I arrived at the Variety about 10 before 8:00, but still managed to get a front-row spot right up against the stage.  The place did seem to fill up behind me as the evening progressed, although I managed to keep my stage-front spot.

Here's the set list:

Bonus points for only two bands on the bill and a prompt 8:00 pm start time, meaning I got home before 11:00 pm on a weeknight.