09.17.14 — “Recoil, Ignite” by Mono (Japan), plus TWO new Mono albums.

Mono

If you only listen to one excerpt of a song tonight, make it “Recoil, Ignite” by Mono (2014, from the forthcoming album Rays of Darkness).

Mono is a post-rock instrumental quartet from Tokyo. They’ve been around since 1999, and they’ve released six critically acclaimed records in that time. Their 2012 album For My Parents ended up being my #1 record of 2012. My very favorite record. You can see my whole 2012 list here. At the time, I swore that it was their live performance that pushed that album from a top five contender to the hands-down #1 album. I still say that my mind was blown more than it’s ever been blown at a concert before or since then, and I’ll also include my conviction that I still love that album more than any other album from 2012.

You can also revisit my post about Mono from back in September of 2012 here.

I found out just the other day that the band has not one, but TWO albums coming out this autumn. “Twin” albums, some might say. Two full-length albums coming out on the same day. The two albums are designed as companion pieces, and the stunning artwork even reflects that, but they’re being marketed separately. Sort of. The band’s website says that Rays of Darkness and The Last Dawn are “conceptually and creatively disparate”. It’s said that the two albums offer “opposing and complimentary sides to a story”. So they stand alone, together.

We’ve come to expect Mono records to include lots of orchestral stringed instruments, but these two new albums don’t have any. Early reports are suggesting that the first of the two new albums The Last Dawn plays like most Mono records we’ve come to know and love. Cinematic, sweeping, pure. The second of the two albums Rays of Darkness is said to be very dark indeed. They’re calling it their “blackest album ever” and they say it “more closely resembles a jet engine taking off inside a small crowded auditorium”

You can and should check out “Where We Begin”, from The Last Dawn. They shared that song a couple of weeks ago. Just yesterday, they shared this song. On the album, this song is likely to be more like 15 minutes long, but the bit that they shared is a 7:24 excerpt. It’s very powerful indeed:

“Recoil, Ignite” by Mono

The first 1:38 of this excerpt sound like any Mono song. Maybe a little sadder than others, but very much in the Mono wheelhouse. In this song, there isn’t a gradual build to chaos and cacophony. Instead, we’re shot out of a cannon right there at 1:39. After that, it’s just an unadulterated sonic assault. It’s blistering. It’s all blood and sweat and snot. And it’s dark. Darker than a thousand black cats. And there’s beauty in all of that.

This excerpt picks up somewhere in the middle of the song, so the end of this is the real end of the song. I love the way it comes to a rather sudden full stop. No decrescendo. No deconstruction. Nothing as gradual as that. Just a very abrupt end.

The presence of the stringed section gave previous Mono albums some added texture and elegance. Since …Dawn an …Darkness don’t have strings, they’ll be purer and more sharp-edged.

The two albums will be released on October 28 (US). October 24 in Europe, October 27 in the UK, and November 5 in Japan. Temporary Residence will be releasing the album here in the states, and they have a special deluxe edition with both vinyls in one glorious package. They only made 1000 of this deluxe package, and there are just a few left. You can see the details and artwork by going to the pre-order page here. If you want CD versions, they don’t have a deluxe pack for that, but you can pre-order the albums Here for …Dawn, and here for …Darkness. Pre-orders will ship two weeks ahead of the street date.

In other regions of the world, there are different packages. Pelagic Records is handling this in Europe, and they offer a deluxe double CD in addition to a slightly different deluxe double vinyl.

Mono will be touring Asia in October, and Europe/UK in November and December. Although no US tour has been announced, it’s probably safe to assume that they’ll be doing a wide tour in early 2015 followed by a smaller US tour in the spring.


09.13.2014 — “Caul” by Skye Skjelset

Skyler Skjelset

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Caul” by Skye Skjelset (2014, from a split single b/w Steve Strohmeier).

Skyler Skjelset is a multi-instrumentalist from Seattle. You may not recognize his name, but you definitely know him as “the other guy from Fleet Foxes. The one who isn’t Robin Pecknold”. He’s the lead guitar in that band, but what Skjelset does on his own doesn’t sound even remotely like Fleet Foxes.

Bella Union Records has commissioned Skjelset to record a split single called “Caul” backed by a song called “A Light” by Steve Strohmeier. The two musicians are actually about to embark on a Canadian tour in support of Beach House. See the “Northern Lights” tour dates (which include one date in Alaska) here.

This electronic/ “instrumental jam” is a lush, guitar-and-laptop soundscape that sounds like a less layered version of a Tim Hecker song. Yeah. I’m going through a Tim Hecker phase, so a lot of things are going to “sound like Tim Hecker” for a little while. For many years, I had been ignoring the good advice of my friends and disregarding Tim Hecker as something that “wasn’t for me”. I found out on the first night of Hopscotch last weekend that I was completely wrong about that. I was completely blown away by Hecker’s set, and it was far and away my favorite thing from the first night of the festival. In my top five of the whole festival.

This kind of thing isn’t for everybody, but it’s very much for me:

“Caul” by Skye Skjelset

I don’t even know what to say. It’s impossible to pinpoint something or even describe why I like this song so much. I guess it’s the relentless wave of sound that’s simultaneously very punishing and very serene. I just played it a bunch of times in a row and I like it more with each repeated listen.

Play this really loud with the lights as dark as they’ll go.

There is a very limited run of 200 vinyl copies of the 7″ record, and you can go to the Bella Union web shop to pre-order one here.

You should also go to Skjelset’s bandcamp page to buy his 2014 album Noh here.


Lightfoils! Lightfoils! Lightfoils!

Lightfoils

Everybody knows that I’m a big fan of shoegaze, dream-pop and noise-pop. One of the best purveyors of this kind of music is the Texas-based label Saint Marie Records. They’ve released a bunch of really good records this year alone, and one of the best of them is the debut album Hierarchy by Chicago shoegazers Lightfoils. You can expect to see that album in the top ten of my year-end list. Probably even top five. I like it that much.

You may have noticed that I’ve written about this band a couple of times before. Once this July, and once last June. I don’t usually write about a band more than once, and certainly not more than twice. There’s a good reason, though.

The band is just about to wrap up a tour that has a bit of an unusual travel itinerary. They were scheduled to play tonight (September 10) in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Unfortunately, they’ve had to cancel that show. The remaining two dates are still on schedule.

September 11 — Snug Harbor — Charlotte, NC (FREE SHOW)
September 12 — The Firebird — Saint Louis, MO

When I wrote about the release of their debut album back in July, I said that the only thing stopping me from driving to Chicago for the album release party was that I had to work the next morning and it was an 11-hour drive. Now I don’t have to drive 11 hours. It’s shorter than that by a few hours.

If you live anywhere near Charlotte, you should definitely make it down there for this show on Thursday September 11. It’s FREE. Find me there, and I’ll buy you a beer. Who can turn down a free show and a free beer? Those of you in Saint Louis will not get in the door for free, and you will not be getting a free beer from me, but you should still enjoy the show.

The Lightfoils songs that I’ve already written about are brilliant, and in case you need some more convincing or in case you’re too lazy to click through the above links, here’s another great song from Hierarchy

“Addict” by Lightfoils

You can and absolutely SHOULD buy the album in compact disc format here, or as a digital download here.

Remember… The show in Charlotte is FREE. See you there!


All about What Cheer? Brigade at Hopscotch14

I had a blast at Hopscotch, and you’ve seen my recaps of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. And my two cents on the now legendary tantrum that Mark Kozelek pitched on Friday night.

I mentioned in the recap of Saturday that I wasn’t even planning on seeing the What Cheer? Brigade. They weren’t even on my long list. I had other plans that were etched in stone.

The band comes from Providence, Rhode Island, and their name comes from the town motto of Providence. They’ve been around since 2005, and they have one album, but I don’t think very many people knew about them. They’re like a marching band that performs in bars instead of in parades. Trumpets, trombones, tubas, a few drummers. No flute and no xylophone, but for all intents and purposes, they are a marching band. Their influences include eastern European folk music, hip hop, rock, and New Orleans second line parade.

I read about them when I was doing research for Hopscotch but I decided that it wasn’t for me. That all changed on Friday. As everybody was filing out of City Plaza following the Spoon show, they literally paraded through the Plaza and out into the street, where they made an announcement about their Saturday show. Actually, they had already made at least one other appearance when they set up outside the VIP party on Thursday afternoon. I wasn’t there for that, but when I saw and heard them on Friday, I was sold.

They had generated a lot of buzz, and rumors started to circulate that when they play shows, they have a habit of leading the audience out into the parking lot or the street or whatever and continuing to play out there. This made a lot of people curious to say the least. There were also stories about how they had shown up at a festival once and even though they weren’t on the schedule, their pop-up performances dominated the festival.

Like I said, the line was really long just to get in the club, but the benefit of the VIP wristband is that you hop to the front of the standby line. Without this shortcut, I would have never gotten in.

The band’s full lineup consists of 18 members, but I don’t think there were that many there, but it was still a lot of people.

They immediately lived up to all the hype. If you were in the building, you didn’t have a choice of whether you were into it or not. They MADE us be into it. And there was no standing around with arms crossed. They made us bounce around, they made us dance, they made us throw our arms in the air. They made us love them. Whether they were technically “good” isn’t even the point. They’re just so much fun.

They packed the small stage, but by the third song, they were already down on the floor, interacting with the crowd By the end of the show, they had members standing on the bartop. This is a common occurrence in their shows, and it’s part of what makes them so much fun. When the band is as into it as they are, you don’t have a choice as an audience member but to feed off of their energy.

Maybe it doesn’t transfer well to video, but there was an incredible amount of energy in the room. The band and the audience feeding off of each other. Here’s a video that our friends from <a href=”http://www.thestagger.com”>The Stagger</a> made.  :

Actually, this is the exact opposite of how the performer and audience fed off of each other in a very negative way at the Sun Kil Moon show.

The above video was at the very end of the show as the band marched down the stairs and into Martin Street. What happens next is the kind of thing that has gotten them into trouble at other festivals. They poured into the street with the audience in tow and continued for several more minutes. Keep in mind, this is going on at 1:45 in the morning. If you know what you’re looking for, I’m easy to spot in this second video.  Again, this video came from the folks at <a href=”http://www.thestagger.com”>The Stagger</a>:

Subscribe to The Stagger YouTube channel, and see more of what they saw at Hopscotch <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5Picdi3bl__C2TVseaNS9Q”>here</a&gt;.

After all of this, the Raleigh PD showed up. We assumed that they had an issue with the band being in the street and also being really loud way after the noise ordinance came into play. They were too late to do anything about that, but it looked like they felt like they had to arrest somebody. They singled one girl off of the sidewalk and brought her into the street for some line of questioning. She wasn’t combative or uncooperative. She was very calm the whole time, but they found some reason to put cuffs on her and put her into the back of a squad car. Nobody there had any clue what had happened.

This was a fantastic end to a great festival weekend. The previous two nights, I drove back to the hotel utterly exhausted. Because of how Saturday night ended, I was full of energy and I could have gone on for a few more hours. However, I don’t think this could have ended any other way.

I sincerely thought that it was the coolest thing that happened all weekend. I realize that it was the perfect time and place for that show and What Cheer capitalized on the hand that they were dealt. If this had been a show in a different venue, or if it had been on Friday at 9, I might have judged it differently.

If you ever see this band on a festival roster, or if you see them coming to your town, you should definitely go see them.


Notes from Hopscotch Day 3

The 2014 Hopscotch Music Festival is over, and I’m back home in one piece, with no bumps or bruises to show. I’ve been checking in, and you’ve seen my recap of Thursday, and my recap of Friday, as well as my coverage of Sun Kil Moon frontman Mark Kozelek’s tantrum at Lincoln Theatre, in which he was aggressive and rude to a stage hand, combative towards the audience, and just a general dick. That “fucking hillbilly” incident is being talked about by Pitchfork as well as some other big music media.

I’ll say again that while the Lincoln is a good venue, it was a terrible choice to schedule SKM there. Everyone agrees that they should have played at Fletcher, and I’ll touch on that more later.

Now, it’s time to recap Saturday’s good times.

On Friday, I did the bulk of my drinking during the day, and only had two beer after dark. This means that I slept well and woke up feeling great. My friends who I’d been hanging out with all weekend went at it pretty hard on Friday, so they slept in and played golf instead of going to the day party stuff. I took my time heading into downtown for the day party stuff, but still got down there before 12:30. I didn’t have anything boldfaced and underlined on my day party agenda, so I sort of roamed. I did see a couple of cool bands, including SoftSpot, who were playing an official Hopscotch show later in the night, but I knew that it would be tough for me to make it.

I also saw Free Clinic upstairs at The Hive. Good beer selection, good-looking bar staff, but it’s an awful, cramped space for shows. I refuse to go to night-time shows there, but they day party shows have always been great there. That’s where I saw Torres during the day parties at last year’s Hopscotch.

Free Clinic were really great and really goofy. At one point, the 21-year old frontman teased us more mature audience members by saying “why do you guys look so old?”. I enjoyed their set.

I saw those two bands right off the bat, and didn’t really see much else I walked around a lot, made myself have lunch, and I wandered in and out of several different sets, but didn’t see anything else remarkable.

I wasn’t really planning on going to the City Plaza shows last night. Valient Thorr is really good at what they do, and they absolutely own any stage that they play on, but metal just isn’t my thing. Still, I went into the plaza because there was nothing else to do, and I wanted to be in the Plaza for the set by Death. By now, we’ve all seen the documentary about them, and I just really wanted to see them. Their set was good, not great.

A really great part of being in the Plaza is that I ran into an old friend who I haven’t seen in at least seven years. I ran into a couple of other friends who I hadn’t seen in a while, but that one was especially cool.

Mastodon was headlining the Plaza, and I didn’t have even the smallest desire to see them. Still, though, with no official shows going on yet, and none of the doors open at the clubs, we kinda had to sit there for a while.

We walked over to Kings, where we were intrigued by the description of Charlottesville band Y’all as “kraut rock”. That description fell well short of the mark, and while we didn’t hate the band, we weren’t feeling it very much.

I really wanted to see Coke Weed, and we used our VIP wristbands to bump ourselves to the front of the one in-one out line. We got in quickly, but it was just too crowded, so we had to resort to an alternate plan.

Both of us wanted to sit down anyway, and I had a lot of interest in seeing Alexandra Sauser-Monnig over in Fletcher, so that’s where we went. She’s one-third of the Appalachian Folk singing trio Mountain Man. They only put out one record (2010’s Made The Harbor), and I really love it. It’s seeped in old-timey-ness. Alexandra was also a guest vocalist on the brilliant record by Sylvan Esso. That band is made up of Amelia Meath (also of Mountain Man) and Nick Sanborn of Megafaun.

Anyway, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig hasn’t put out an album of her own, and she’s not played very many solo shows before. None of that mattered because she was amazing. Her lightly strummed guitar complimented her delicate, bird-like singing on the folk songs. On a couple of songs, she went a capella. The audience was dead silent except for the rowdy applause between songs. You could have heard a clock ticking it was so quiet in there. It’s always that way in Fletcher, and that’s why Sun Kil Moon should have been there.

At some point during her set, she asked the audience what time it was so she could gauge how much time she needed to fill. A lone person in the full house shouted out “Just play thirteen more songs”, which was pretty much how we all felt. The reality was that she only had time enough for two more. That was a touching moment and another reminder of why Fletcher is a great, intimate place to see a band. It was also reinforcement on the criticism about not scheduling Sun Kil Moon there.

I left that place thinking that Alexandra Sauser-Monnig’s Appalachian folk song set was in my top five favorite shows of the festival.

There were a lot of bands that I wanted to see throughout the rest of the night, and they were mostly playing at the same time in different venues.

We ended up meeting up with the rest of our crew at Slim’s to see Nest Egg. This is a band who was correctly described as “krautrock”. We were really enjoying the show, but we also knew that we needed to get over to Kings so we could grab a space for the massive (and massively charismatic) brass and drum band What Cheer? Brigade. They made an appearance, marching through City Plaza after the Spoon show was over on Friday, and they impressed the hell out of the onlookers with their enthusiasm. It wasn’t initially on my agenda, but after I saw and heard them march though City Plaza, and after I heard rumors that they had a way of absolutely dominating festivals even when they didn’t play a scheduled show, I knew that I had to re-design my plan.

We headed to Kings about 30 minutes before What Cheer was scheduled to start. There was a huge line for the one in-one out policy, and we once again used our VIP wristbands to move to the front of the line. Within a minute, we were in, but I know that most of the people in the regular line never made it in. That makes the extra expense of the VIP wristband worth it. Part of the reason we headed early was to make sure we could get in. Part of it was that I wanted to be able to see at least a few songs of the White Octave set. I went to school with one of those guys, and I really wanted to see his band. They haven’t played in more than a dozen years, so it was kind of a big thing for them to be on the stage.

What happened next really blew my mind. As I said, I saw the What Cheer? Brigade march through City Plaza, marching band style after Spoon, and it was amazing. My initial plan was to close the festival by seeing Eternal Summers for a second time, but lots of things added up and I ended up closing it out with What Cheer.

That was a fantastic decision because the What Cheer set was far and away the best thing I saw all weekend. And a big, big surprise.

I’ll write a separate post about What Cheer. Look for that in a few minutes.

Apart from the stupidity at Sun Kil Moon, I didn’t see or even hear about any bad vibes, but after the What Cheer show spilled out into the street, John Law showed up and put a couple of audience members in cuffs. Nobody knows why that were arrested, but it seemed excessive.


The Sun Kil Moon Fiasco at Hopscotch14

I’ve been busy this weekend at Hopscotch seeing a lot of live music, drinking a lot of cold beer, and having a good time with some of my friends.

You’ve read the Day one recap and the Day two recap.

As I said in the day two recap, there was a really uncomfortable end to the night at the Sun Kil Moon show. This requires a separate post.

Everybody knows that I’m a big fan of Mark Kozelek’s music. Red House Painters, solo stuff, and the first couple of Sun Kil Moon records. I love all of that stuff. I was sort of “meh” about the 2012 album Among the Leaves, and I’ve been pretty harsh in my criticism of the 2014 album Benji, but I still really enjoy everything that Mark Kozelek does. Despite the fact that I actually hate the new album, I still really wanted to see Sun Kil Moon. It was one of my most anticipated shows. Unfortunately, it was a big letdown.

As Mark Kozelek has aged, he’s gotten increasingly fussy about his audience. Right away, we noticed this fussiness in the form of about 20 signs posted throughout the venue telling us that the artist (Mark Kozelek) requests that we not use our cell phones during the show. No pictures, no video, no texting. Nothing. Then the show promoter made an announcement to the same tune. Then, as SKM took the stage, Kozelek made the same announcement. He came off not only as a control freak, but as one of these “off the grid” wackos. Said something about how he didn’t want anyone looking at a screen and he didn’t want all the light from those devices sullying his performance.

This is a hard request to make at a rock club. If he makes this request at the seated venue in Fletcher Opera Theatre, nobody would have a problem, and nobody would even consider that to be a weird request. It’s just the wrong venue anyway, but things haven’t even begun to get weird.

Even before things got weird, and before they started playing, I could sense that something was wrong. Kozelek was gesturing towards a stage hand to come fix something, and he was pretty aggressive with that. I think he even yelled at the stage hand. He looked very angry, and as we would find out a few minutes later, he was angry.

He wanted silence from the crowd, and like I said, you can pull that off at Fletcher, but not at Lincoln. After they took the stage, and before they played a single note, Kozelek made an announcement that went something like this

Listen up, all you fucking hillbillies. Shut the fuck up

This didn’t go over well with the crowd. Nobody enjoyed the “hillbilly” comment. A lot of people started to shush in a mocking fashion, and a lot of other people started to yell. More than a couple of people yelled out “You’re not Ryan Adams”, alluding to the singer’s legendary clashes with his own audiences.

Sun Kil Moon played a couple of songs, and there was plenty more of all of this mock shushing and yelling and general combative behavior from parts of the audience. Some of those people (who were obviously not there specifically for SKM) got bored of being rude, and they left. Still, though, the mock shushing persisted.

After two songs, Kozelek made another announcement. Something a bit more aggressive like

Shut the fuck up! I’m about to walk. I don’t give a fuck whether I get paid or not

which led to more mock shushing from the crowd. He tried to reel his anger in by explaining that all of the band members had traveled a great distance to be there and they needed to hear each other to pull the songs off, and how if the crowd showed him respect he’d return the respect to the crowd.  To his credit, he apologised about the “hillbilly” comment, saying that it was “just a joke”.  It doesn’t matter, though; the damage had been done.  

You can listen to a sound clip of all the rants melted down into one by clicking through here

The vibe in there was really bad. Things were not going well. The songs they played were great, but it was just so uncomfortable. I wanted to stay for the whole thing because I had a feeling that things would eventually level out, but I was really tired, and I couldn’t take that weird vibe anymore. I left after about five songs.

The only time I’ve ever seen a performer get pissy with the audience like that was at the first Lollapalooza. I went to the show in Charlotte. Siouxie & The Banshees played two songs, then Siouxie berated the crowd for not being into it, then they all stormed off the stage in a fit.

The really unfortunate thing about Kozelek being so pissy and trying so hard to control the audience is that some of the audience made matters worse. Both performer and audience were to blame for what happened. Ultimately, like I said, there would not have been an issue, and it would have been a fantastic show if they had scheduled SKM at Fletcher.

I really hope that things got better after I left.


Notes from Hopscotch Day 2

My adventures at Hopsctoch continued on Friday, and it was a very long and very hot day. Like Thursday, it was a day that was full of surprises, but it also had its share of disappointment. Unfortunately, the biggest disappointment came at the end of the night. It involved an artist that I like very much being a bit of a prima donna, the crowd turning on him, and a really weird and really uncomfortable vibe.

When I woke up Friday, I felt absolutely awful. I skipped my traditional visit to watch the Carolina Hurricanes at their unofficial practice session, and I stayed in bed much later than I wanted to. I wrote the Day One recap, took a shower, packed some coolers full of water and Gatorade, and just before the crack of noon, I headed back into downtown. Of course I stopped to get some Biscuitville.

I milled about, doing nothing for a little while, then I headed up to King’s. They were having sort of a big day, which was being highlighted by Little Black Egg Big Band. Little Black Egg is a band that you probably don’t know the name of, but you know the band members. The band consists of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew (all of Yo La Tengo), plus guitarist Steve Gunn (who used to play in Kurt Vile’s band), William Tyler (who was in Lambchop and Silver Jews), and one other musician who I don’t recognize. I don’t think they’ve recorded anything, and I know that this was the first time they’ve ever played as Little Black Egg Big Band. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really liked what they did. It was all ambient and guitar loop-y and super-spacey. And with no vocals. Not much like Yo La Tengo, except maybe the 17-minute song at the end of And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out).

I had a good time with that, and I thought about staying put at King’s for the rest of the day party stuff, but there was a thing or two that I wanted to do. Plus, it was jam-packed in there and it was getting really sweaty.

I walked around for a little while, then I went and ate some lunch. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I knew that I had to eat then or not for several hours. I made my way down to CAM, which I think is a terrible place for a band to play. Over the years, I’ve seen a few bands play there, but the space is so big and open, it just isn’t a good sound space. The acoustics are awful and the size of the space makes it worse.

Anyway, I was at CAM because I wanted to see Eternal Summers. I really like that band, and I missed my chance to see them back in March. They’re playing a “real” show tonight (actually in the last time slot of the festival), and I’ll be there for sure, but I wanted to see them twice. They played well, but the sound in that space is terrible, so it didn’t do them justice.

I started to head back to King’s because I wanted to be in there for the show that featured Thurston Moore with harpist Mary Lattimore. I got there about 30 minutes before the scheduled start of that set, and the line was at least 30 deep to get in on a one out-one in basis. I knew it wasn’t going to happen, and I ran into my buddies in the stairwell. We decided to go blindly try a few things, and we got into a few clubs just as a band was playing the last notes of their last song. We didn’t see much, but we had a few beers and a few laughs.

We did, though, get to see one and a half songs from Greensboro band Bronzed Chorus at the Pour House. That was really good, and I wish we had gotten there sooner instead of wasting so much time at other places seeing nothing.
Dinner before heading into City Plaza once again had less to do with being hungry and more to do with “now or never”.

We went into City Plaza for the big show Spoon and St Vincent.

While my friends were unimpressed with the St. Vincent portion of the night, I really loved it. I’d seen her once before in a club setting, so it was a different experience to see her on the big stage. She’s incorporated more choreography and more stage antics into the show, and while I’m not sure how I feel about that, I still really enjoyed the show. Except for the drummer. Matt Johnson is her live drummer, and he’s a really good drummer. He’s played with Jeff Buckley, Dean and Britta, Rufus Wainwright and lots of others. He plays well, but my problem was that he was trying too hard. He was playing drum solos during the guitar solos. I don’t like the direction that’s gone in. People go to see St. Vincent because she’s a masterful guitarist. They want to see her, and not a drummer. Despite that, I loved the set, and it really is a treat to see her play.

After that, we all agreed that Spoon was incredible. The sound was amazing, they were amazing, they played a mix of old and new tunes. It was just great. When you’ve been around for 20 years and you still crank out good records, you get pretty good at the live performance thing. And they were ON POINT.

My buddies and I kind of went separate ways after the City Plaza stuff. My “plan A” and “plan B” stuff both fell through because the clubs were so crowded, so I went for the “plan C” plan which was also the safe plan. That was to to to Lincoln Theatre and stay put there for the rest of the night. Loamlands, Mark McGuire, and Sun Kil Moon were all on my short list anyway, so it was a safe and good choice.

Loamlands played a solid set. I didn’t know anything about the Durham alt-country/folk band, but I liked what they did.

Mark McGuire was a guy who I didn’t know what to expect from. I’d heard a song or two before, but I still didn’t really know. One of my friends had said that this was one of the most anticipated shows of the festival for him, so I wanted to go just based on that. I was completely exhausted by this point, and I had stopped drinking hours ago. I found a place in the balcony to sit for a little while and I ended up “watching” his set from up there. His blend of electronics and guitar/effects was pretty cool. People sometimes describe him as “new age”, but I don’t really get that.

Last up was Sun Kil Moon. I really like Mark Kozelek. I’ve been a huge fan of his music over the last 20 years. Red House Painters, his solo stuff, and the first couple of Sun Kil Moon records have all been big hits at my house. I’ve been really critical of the new album, going so far as to say that I “hate” it. Still, I wanted to see him play because he’s such an interesting cat and I love the back catalog so much I was hoping to hear some of it.

Things didn’t go so well during the Sun Kil Moon set. There was a really bad vibe in the room, and the Lincoln Theatre was the wrong place for that show. It should have been at Fletcher Opera Theatre, where the crowds are always quieter and it’s seated and nice and everyone is respectful. I’ll write about what happened in a separate post.

The night ended with me eating a slice of bad food truck pizza and having nice conversation with a stranger while sitting on the ground.

Look for the post about Sun Kil Moon in a few minutes.


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