Thursday, November 1, 2007

Show review quickblurbs

The Blow - 10/1/07 - Empty Bottle, Chicago

I'm the kind of guy who groans a little on the inside when I go to a show and I realize the solo artist on the bill's backing band isn't going to slink onto the stage after the quiet, intensity-building opening number. There's nothing wrong with solo artists; I just prefer fuller-bodied instrumentation (major exceptions: Beat Happening (on record)/Calvin Johnson (live), Andrew Bird).

When I went to see the Blow, I knew there wouldn't be a backing band, and I didn't care. Why? I'd seen videos of Khaela Maricich's performances before, and she pulls it off. Sure, it'd have been nice if the "beats dude" Jona would have been there, but you take what you can get. Besides, when you got charisma, who needs a backing band? I paid for one show and I got three! Music: check. Comedy (nice!): check. Magic show (wtf?!?!?): cheeeeck! Instead of giving the review any substance, I'll just say you had to be there.

My memory is hazy, but I think we were either the first, last, or only audience to hear "Long List of Girls" (I'm pretty sure we were the first), and with a Paper Television-heavy set, I was pretty appeased. Kathy said it was the best show ever, and while I wouldn't quite go that far, I did enjoy myself.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - 10/6/07 - The Annex, Madison

It's not terribly common for a geeky band from Brooklyn with a frontman who sometimes sounds like David Byrne that self releases an album with dinosaurs on the yellow and orange cover to so quickly have throngs of music junkies worshiping the ground they walk on in practically no time. Not terribly common if you're not one of Pitchfork's chosen, that is.

One 9.0 score later, I'm in Amoeba Records in the Haight and I'm dedicated to buying this album (among many others) and it's not difficult to find. Is there a better way to debut an almost criminally highly hyped album then on the open roads of Northern California? Probably, since I think I only played this album two or three times after first hearing it, but before seeing CYHSY at the Annex. I'd downloaded Some Loud Thunder, but in over a year I never felt compelled to listen to it, so I'm not entirely sure of why I felt the need to go to this show. It's not quite like there was a shortage of bands to see (especially in early October of this year), but I guess since I had friends who were really excited than I could be too.

Here's my conclusion: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are pretty good! I recognized a bunch of the songs even after only having listened to them very few times a very long time before the show, and I had a lot of fun watching them. There was one thing that absolutely boggled my mind, however. There were a couple of "bros" next to us who knew every word to every song and were clearly the most excited fans in the audience (I know what you're thinking: "Eric, how do you know they weren't hipsters in disguise?" Easy. No self-respecting hipster ever wears cargo shorts, much less to a show. And if the shorts weren't a dead giveaway, the flip-flops, backwards hats, and polo shirts certainly confirmed suspicions). Even more confusing was when one of these two was comparing the intro to a CYHSY song to a Yo La Tengo song. Where do bros learn about bands like these?

Mark, Colleen, and I watched the bros saunter down the street after the show (they could NOT have been more bro-like if they tried), and none of us could come up with a reasonable explanation for what we had witnessed.

Spoon - 10/8/07 - Pabst Theater, Milwaukee

Tonight my younger siblings are lamenting their inability to see the inexplicably non-sold out Spoon/New Pornographers show in Houston, because they are all pretty big fans of both of those bands. Danny (of charz2k fame), is not grieving because as far as I know he's allowed to go to concerts on weeknights because he doesn't have school every day, and someone in their early 20s is typically allowed to stay out late if they so choose to do. I'm expecting that he'll have only anti-bears to give on his review (which will never be written!) because when I saw Spoon at the Pabst (at a show sponsored by Shiner Bock, nonetheless!), they were simply phenomenal.

I'm not sure I have ever seen a band as tight and composed as Spoon were on that stage. With minimal gimmicky movements and stage props, they absolutely commanded audience attention from start to finish. I didn't even want to go get another beer for fear that I might miss a few minutes of the performance (not to mention I wouldn't be able to get back to my perfect spot, about 8 feet back from the stage in the pit). They skimped on Girls Can Tell tracks, but I didn't even care. This is an official charz2k recommendation to go see Spoon if you get the chance. They're accessible enough for anyone to appreciate, so no fear of show that will leave you aching from broken bones or otherwise.

Oh, and their merch guy is awesome. They had these really cool posters with cherry bombs that were specific to tonight's show and they were hand-screened and numbered (I think maybe 60 total?), so I knew that if I waited until the show was over the posters would probably sell out. The merchandise salesman kindly allowed me to purchase the poster and store it behind a box behind his booth until afterwards, when he would recognize my face and deliver the goods. He didn't take my name down, or anything, but delivered the poster as promised. I didn't even have to wait in the long line of people because he saw me in the cluster and immediately fetched the poster and handed it to me.

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