12 June 2007

6/9 dude! (air guitar)

Part I: Feist and Grizzly Bear
Saturday night I pulled a rare Boston double-header. It was a most excellent adventure. But you know how in the movie the protagonist's get a glimpse of the future (and it's most excellent music)? Similarly here, I will give you glimpse of the night's climax .... Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!pollo Sunshine rocked it!
But before I get to the Berklee-trained Apollo Sunshine, the night actually began AT the Berklee Performance Center. I walked in during Grizzly Bear's set. The stage was dimly lit, and the music was somber. It was at times lush, at others dreary and drab. I just can't imagine seeing these guys in a club. I don't really know how I feel about the set, and by the end of the night I practically forgot it even happened, which I guess is not a good thing. Certainly nothing sticks out as being too great, but nothing too bad either. I think walking in in the middle hampered my enjoyment of the set as a whole.
Set break music was After the Gold Rush, which outshined the openers, but then again it is a great album.
My expectations for Feist were probably set too low. Never underestimate a Broken Social Scene member! On my first few listens, her new album strikes me as a mostly mellow vocal showcase. But live, Feist and her band put some real muscle behind the music. I'm not super familiar with the songs, but I am fairly certain most of them were reworked for the live setting. There was real thought put behind the live show I think, and it showed. Feist weilded a guitar for much of the night, and shredded some nice down and dirty licks to boot. Midset she broke it down for a couple of solo acoustic tunes. The 2nd of which she was joined by the "ghost of vaudeville" (didn't catch her real name) who tap danced the beat. It sounded great. The crowd was very attentive and got involved when called upon, which was pretty often, but were also respectfully quiet when need be. After a nice two song encore, it was time to head off to Cambridge for part 2.

Part 2: Apollo Sunshine and Frank Smith

Saturday night also featured a great lineup at the Middle East. Drug Rug and AA Bondy got things started. Unfortunately due to part 1 of my evening, they were missed, and even worse I missed the first half of Frank Smith. If only the phone booth time machine was working properly. Having been shut out of their farewell to Boston gig earlier this year, I was not going to miss out on their first return to town. I am a little gaga over Frank Smith to be honest, so walking into the middle of their set pained me a bit. Let me back up just a little though. Namewise Frank Smith is the opposite of bands like Iron and Wine, Bright Eyes, Loney, Dear etc. They are a band with the name of an individual. There is no person Frank Smith, just the band Frank Smith. Capisce? (Well, do you understand?) So they moved from Boston to Austin a couple of months ago, this was their first trip back. Their new album just came out, in addition to an EP they recorded with Juliana Hatfield. They play their own brand of rocking rollicking alt-country music. They are led by Aaron Sinclair on guitar and vocals and Brett Salia on banjo, and also feature pedal steel, bass, and drums. It's twang rock at its best. They brought Hatfield out for the second to last number to play a track from their new EP. Then they closed it out with a rocking version of Apocalypse Circa Now. It seems that the band which was a side project for everyone involved at one point, has, since the move, really tightened up the whole act and pushed the boat forward. I see great things happening for them in the near future.

Next up was Apollo Sunshine. I have now had the fortune of seeing them 3 times in a little over 6 months. Both of the last shows I saw were "special" shows, first the holiday homecoming gig in Andover, and then the super small and intimate one off show at the Lily Pad earlier this year. Special or not, neither held a candle to what went down Saturday night. From the opening notes of the raging Better Change Your Mind, all the other wonderful music I saw that night faded to the background, mere memories if even that. Apollo Sunshine owned, or should I say pwned, the night. Holy hell, Better Change Your Mind was deep dark funky insanity. One of the better set openers I have seen in a looooooong time. Previously when I saw them I came away intrigued and interested. Now I was hooked. They are generally a trio, but they were joined this night by an extra guitarist and percussionist for the entire set. I can't say that this is what made the set so great, but they certainly didn't hurt. The sound was fuller for sure, and the guests fit in seamlessly. I didn't catch either's name when they were so briefly introduced, though I am pretty sure the guitarist was Quentin Stoltzfus of Mazarin, who played a few shows with them this winter. Apollo Sunshine's sets don't change up too much, but the way the songs are played are so different every time it doesn't matter. They play so loose it's tight. My only complaint seems to be a common one with them, the set was just too damn short. Though if it is quantity not quality you seek, Apollo Sunshine jams non-stop quality into their set. Party on dudes, and be excellent to eachother!


Anonymous said...

i think you need to re-evaluate your experience with grizzly bear.
big time. I loved it to bits. Listen to their album yellow house too. so good.

feist was nice as well.

Liffy said...

I had listened to Yellow House a couple of times and wasn't sold on the hype. Really wanted to be won over after seeing them live but it didn't happen. I will definitely give them another chance though.