Thursday, June 24, 2010

Austin Lucas and The Wooden Sky @ Ronny's

Chicago is in the middle of monsoon season. I spent most of this evening huddling in a co-worker's house, playing Left 4 Dead 2 and listening to tornado sirens. Luckily, by 8 pm the storm had passed, leaving curiously empty streets. I made my way to Ronny's(a small dive venue on N. California) and after a slight mis-communication with the door-person, settled in for a night of country-tinged goodness.

The first two bands were solid, but entirely unremarkable. The first seemed to be made of high-schoolers entirely inspired by their dad's record collection. They were much more talented than I expected, but often suffered from wildly conflicting dynamics. Their drummer drowned out the rest of the band far too often for me to bother remembering their name. With practice though, they could definitely make something of themselves. (Oh! They were called Pilcher's List. Internet detective work ahoy!)

The second act was (I think) one of the singers of local Chicago group, The House Gloria Vanderbilt, and she played a charming, but lyrically clunky set of singer-songwritery stuff. I didn't catch her name.

I wasn't expecting a thing from the Wooden Sky, and they blew me away. They opened with a stripped down version of "North Dakota" off their album "When Lost at Sea", and I was hooked from then on. The Wooden Sky plays that sort of hyper-literate country-tinged indie rock that Canada seems to have an almost monopoly on. Their songs are short stories of desperation, of trying to make good, of failures, of successes born of failure. In their music I hear traces of The Band, Bruce Springsteen, the sort of dark country the Handsome Family has mastered, and the indie brightness of fellow Canadian Rock Plaza Central. They were entrancing, melodies shimmering over gorgeous guitar work. Later, I chatted with the lead singer briefly, and he told me they're normally a much louder band, and they adapted for the space. It was a gorgeously intimate set, and perhaps that was part of it, and perhaps it was partly the amount of people, but I honestly believe they'd manage the same sort of trick in a bigger room. They were just a great surprise, and I urge you to check them out.

Austin Lucas bullied everyone into gathering almost awkwardly close to him before he would begin his set. He was joined by a banjo/violin player, and Christina Wagner. Christina and Austin have a tour split out, which I believe you can only pick up at these shows. They played without the aid of amplification, and as a result the set was tenderly beautiful. Austin has one of the most expressive and emotive voices going these days, and seeing him utilize it so effectively in such a small space was tremendous. It's amazing to me that he hasn't been more of a crossover hit, as he essentially plays country music with a bit of a bluegrass twang. It's unfortunate that his audience is mostly punk kids, as I think he'd do great with the type of crowd that adores Bloodshot Records. I should clarify, unfortunate only in the sense that more people should appreciate his talent, not unfortunate that he appeals to punk folks. "Go West" was the highlight of the set, as everyone in attendance sang along with the chorus, creating the sort of show where everyone forgets the line between performer and audience. We're all just people, connected by this one song, and it was a really magical moment.

Do your best to catch the Wooden Sky and Austin Lucas on tour. They're really wonderful artists, and deserve your time.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chicago, I love you.


Tonight there was a really great thunderstorm, and it reminded me of this song. This performance is oh so charming. It's a shame Chris blew his voice out, but everything must pass.

I jumped in puddles, and soaked my sandals.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bruce Springsteen - No Surrender(live, featuring Brian Fallon)


This video should be entitled "Brian Fallon is the luckiest boy in the whole wide world". I have such a huge smile on my face right now.

Portal live at MDF 2010


Here's a pretty solid video of Portal from MDF. You won't get the whole effect for sure, but it's not a bad document. Thanks are owed to Wreck Your World for filming.

MDF Day 3

Sorry this has taken so long.  I've been swamped with work lately, and a couple of personal issues I won't bore you with.

Sunday was the day I fell in love with MDF.  I felt energized almost the entire day, pumped up by the tremendous amount of awesome metal that happened.

We showed up in time to catch one song of Surroundings, who sounded good enough, but not exciting enough to be super bummed about missing the rest of their set.  Krallice played outside, and sounded pretty good, but couldn't match the sound they conjured up last year.  I'm sure part of this was due to them playing on the crappy uphill stage.  Gorod was the next band I remember(they took the set times off the MDF site, so I'm super doing this from memory) and they were fun as fuck. Their Necrophagist-style tech-death metal came across really well, despite only being able to hear one guitar, and they were pretty energetic for playing in the harsh sunlight.  I think Grindlink was next, and they were fucking mindblowing.  They played all of their new cd "Orphans", and goddamn, did they destroy.  Jon Chang was manic, jumping and shrieking and shaking.

Here's where my temporal sense gets hazy.

I remember watching a bit of Pentagram, and enjoying it, but not being blown away.  I remember going to the convenience store and coming out right as Eyehategod started playing.  They sounded so fucking good from behind the stage that I braved the torturous sun(It was right at the perfect level to obscure your vision) to watch them.  Filth oozed from their amps, and Mike Williams was as caustic as you'd dream of.  Brilliant set.  They'll be playing the Empty Bottle this weekend with Nachtmystium.  You should go.  I remember watching part of N2002 and enjoying it, though there were guitar issues.  I remember Captain Cleanoff being furious and fast.  I remember Black Breath being fun as fuck, even if the singer seems a little full of himself.  I remember watching part of Entombed from all the way in the back and being kind of bored. 

I know Converge was the last band we saw, and I remember being thrown across the pit by a fat dude.  Converge played a incendiary set, focusing mostly on songs from their new album.  They were fantastic.  The grump in me wishes they had played some older stuff, but that's not too big of a complaint.

I could not tell you anything about bands we only watched one song from or bands we sat in the grass for.  If I didn't mention them, we didn't see them. 

MDF was great, and then we drove home, and then I was sick for a week and a half.  Shit takes it's toll, believe me.  Good times, though.  Good times.

Blog the Music Industry!

Asian Man Records are re-releasing the back catalog of Bomb the Music Industry!  They're offering a deal where you can get all 5 lps for $40.  If I didn't already own all of them, I'd jump on this deal.  In addition, Jeff has released a new acoustic song.  Check out the deal/song here.  Bomb the Music Industry will be playing Reggie's(yuck, but better than Ronny's) on July 26th.  I should be there.  We shall see.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

white whale, holy grail


I have been searching for the self-titled Portrait 10-inch almost since I started buying records(almost ten years, at this point). In freshmen year of high school, I got desperately into Saetia, and through them, Portrait. Portrait played an extremely emotive style of hardcore, dealing mostly with interpersonal relationships. Their most distinctive characteristic was their use of a viola player. Beauty in the chaos. I found their last seven-inch at my local record store(Bull Moose in Salem, NH) and played the shit of it. It's still one of my favorite records that I own. The 10-in commanded impressive prices on the 'Bay when I was in high school, and so I resigned myself to never owning a copy.

Today I went down to Reckless Records(Wicker Park branch) to pick up a used copy of "Cold Blue" by the Hope Conspiracy. As I poked through the used records, I saw this staring back at me. I quickly glanced at the back, saw the song titles I hoped to see, and now I own a record I never thought I'd own. Fuck yes.

Here's a live clip from YouTube.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hanalei - One Big Night

Hanalei(Brian Moss of The Ghost, and Olehole)'s new album is streaming in full over at Punknews.org. He's got a way with words that just makes me swoon. Quiet, twinkly indie-rock that smells like summer. Enjoy!

Until next time, turn your tires towards the street, and stay sweet.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

MDF Day 2

We showed up late on Saturday, and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at McDonalds instead of watching Howl. While we consumed our sausage biscuit sandwiches, Watain walked in. Watching a small child watch Watain was ENDLESSLY hilarious, as apparently they wear leather vests reading "BLACK METAL MILITIA" on the back all the time. Live the gimmick, friends.
We showed up in time for Fuck the Facts, and I thought they were absolutely tremendous. Their singer shrieks pure venom, and their mix of melodic guitar parts and rending grindcore was a lot of fun to watch.
Ingrowing was fast and grindy and great.
Obliteration was good. My cohorts LOVED this, and I thought it was ok. I dug the shit of their cd when we listened to it on the ride home, but for some reason I wasn't really feeling it live. I might have just been overtired. Saturday was a really exhausting day for me, even that early in the day.
We watched a bit of the Chasm who were on the shitty side-stage, and as a result, their sound was terrible. I wandered into a little bit of Jucifer, which was much more intense than I expected. Their singer has great great great vocals. The performance wasn't up to the level of her screaming though, and so we wandered elsewhere.
Impaled was tremendous amounts of fun. Costumes, stage banter about the "GORE CORPS", etc etc etc.
Melechesh had sound issues, and set-up issues, but were great fun. I adore that kind of melodic death metal.
Repulsion was tremendous amounts of fun. One of the members of Cretin(Marissa) guested on the last couple of songs, which was great to see. Lots of stage dives!
Asphyx and Autopsy were both solid, but I'm not a huge fan of either. Asphyx was on the shitty stage, and their sound suffered hugely as a result. They didn't match the thunder of last year at all. Autopsy was good, but played for far too long.
Wolfbrigade was crust-fest. They were a lot of fun when everyone knew the words, less fun when I had to avoid choking on dreadlocks.
We've touched on Portal previously. Incredible.

I apologize for the brevity of these reviews. I'm doing it all from memory at this point, and MDF is just such an exhausting event that even trying to recall details is tiring.