Video: A Weather at Off Broadway 4/28/10

A Weather is a trio from Portland, Ore. More than that, I can’t really say, save that I’m pretty sure they’ve listened to a few Low and Velvet Underground records, and that their set Wednesday night at Off Broadway (with St. Louis band Sleepy Kitty and Columbia, Mo.’s Foundry Field Recordings), was a little skittish, sometimes lovely, and often moving. The band’s doubled-vocal lines set snugly, the songs rose above most of their slowcore peers, and the trio covered much of this year’s Everyday Balloons (not nearly as twee as it sounds), and also drifted through the new song as seen below. Watch if you like modest, austere, graceful indie rock.

Concert Review: Julian Casablancas at the Pageant, April 26, 2010

Decked out in tight red pants and patent leather jacket, and sporting a feather in his hair, Julian Casablancas worked the Pageant’s crowd into a hipster frenzy as he and his sextet produced a rich, beat-driven sound, drawing largely from his solo debut Phrazes for the Young.

While the opening of the set was a bit of a dud with “Ludlow Street” (slow songs to open a dance/pop show = not the best plan), the brief misstep was forgotten as the show truly began with “River of Brake Lights,” which led into one of two Strokes songs played Monday night: “Hard to Explain” turned the pit into the dance party it continued to be for the remainder of the 13-song set. Strokes song number 2 was a somber piano rendition of “I’ll Try Anything,” which provided one of the night’s many sing-along opportunities.

Casablancas, ever the showman, even busted out the seasonal track, “I Wish it was Christmas Today,” capping off an 8-song frenzy in the first part of the set. After a brief exit from the stage, the band returned, with the singer telling tales of walking down Delmar Boulevard’s “Walk of Fame,” praising us St. Louisans for our good breeding.

After a rather tongue-in-cheek introduction, Casablancas worked the crowd into a Courtney-Coxesque, bad-’80s dance with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” (personal bias: I’m a huge Springsteen fan, so this was probably the highlight of the evening for me).

The opener Haim, a band composed of 3 sisters sharing the front of the stage and vocal duties, deserves more than a mention. The sisters demonstrated some serious show(wo)manship and a flat-out ability to play rock & roll (Danielle Haim also performed with Casablancas’ rhythm section). Vocals and styles of music ranged from Patti Smith to Chrissie Hynde – two excellent role models. While the turnout on the floor was sparse for the opener, (I’m guessing the issue was the pit being 21 and up), the Haim sisters blasted their way through songs off their yet to be released album, which is currently in the mixing process.

While there are only a few more stops on this tour, I encourage concertgoers on the remaining dates to arrive early and take in what is all too rare these days: an honestly good opening act. Also, be sure to say hi to their mom who runs Hain’s merch table. The band is truly a family affair.

Setlist:

1. Ludlow Street
2. River of Brake Lights
3. Hard to Explain (The Strokes)
4. (new track given no name)
5. 11th Dimension
6. I’ll Try Anything (The Strokes)
7. Left & Right in the Dark
8. I Wish it was Christmas Today
9. Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen cover)
10. Out of the Blue
11. 4 Chords of the Apocalypse
12. Glass
13. Tourist

Twangfest is back! June 9-12, 2010

April isn’t the cruelest month. It’s the twangiest month.

Or at least it feels that way, what with the announcement of the Twangfest 14 lineup this week.

To quote KDHX DJ John Wendland: “This is huge.”

Headliners include: Jason & the Scorchers, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Blue Rodeo, Big Smith, and the Detroit Cobras, with Ha Ha Tonka, Shannon McNally & Hot Sauce, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, These United States and Magnolia Summer joining in the twanghem.

Dates are Wednesday, June 9 through Saturday, June 12, 2010 at the Tap Room and the Duck Room. As always, Twangfest is presented by 88.1 KDHX. Get the all the details and purchase your Friends of Twangfest “Dan Packs” or budget 4-night passes at Twangfest.com.

But wait, there’s more. This year, if you order the Friends of Twangfest Package, you’ll not only get badge access to all four nights, a t-shirt, a poster, and a CD, you’ll also get an invitation to a Special House Concert and Reception with Warner Hodges and Jason Ringenberg of Jason & the Scorchers. Seating for this reception is limited to the first 70 Friends, so don’t wait.

This really is huge. See you in June!

Concert Review: Tegan and Sara at the Pageant, April 2, 2010

Having seen Tegan and Sara previously in 2008, I knew a few things going in that were going to happen. Those things? Great stories and great songs. The twins rival the hilarity of Ryan Adams’ banter when they delve into their past . Their appreciation for and interaction with the audience have made Tegan and Sara what they are today — a band on the rise.

After a three-song introduction from their acclaimed new album Sainthood, Tegan offered the first story of the night — one that became a theme throughout the remainder of the show — a tale of their bowling outing the previous night and the insight that Tegan is still just like her loud, younger self.

Intermingled with the stories, of course, was a catalog of moody songs (“Sainthood” and “The Con”) and acoustic pop (“So Jealous”). While the material for the Quin twins is sometimes bleak, especially on the subject of love, they kept spirits high with more between-song stories of their eclectic past.

Also worth mentioning is Tegan’s discussion of the duo going through therapy with a sports psychologist during their early career; the therapist apparently had a fancy Web site containing a picture of her on a horse — yes, a horse. That story scored big laughs and cheers. While stage effects were minimal in their previous show at the Pageant, the twins added some serious mood to the atmosphere with new lighting rigs that bathed the sisters and their backing band in waves of purple and red hues.

An idea that has become somewhat rare is the acoustic encore, but Tegan and Sara were kind enough to perform one, putting a new spin on the undeniably catchy “Back In Your Head,” featuring Tegan on xylophone and Sara keeping tempo on acoustic. It was a fitting way to wind down the evening with a singalong echoing throughout the Pageant.

I can say that while they may be supporting Paramore on the upcoming Honda Civic Tour this summer, I can only hope their new, wider audience is deserving of their quirks and talents.

Photo courtesy of jthees on Flickr.

Set list (per setlist.fm):

1. The Ocean
2. On Directing
3. The Cure
4. You Wouldn’t Like Me
5. I Bet it Stung
6. The Con
7. Nineteen
8. Northshore
9. Night Watch
10. Red Belt
11. Soil, Soil
12. Monday Monday Monday
13. Where Does The Good Go
14. Speak Slow
15. Walking With A Ghost
16. So Jealous
17. Hop a Plane
18. Alligator
19. Sentimental Tune
20. Hell

Encore:
Back In Your Head
Dark Come Soon
Divided
Call It Off
Living Room

Add Some Music To Your Day

While I was doing my show, Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst Thursday morning, and giving our listeners as many reasons as I could come up with to get them to donate their hard-earned money to KDHX during our Spring Membership Drive, I had a moment that really drove home the point to me that this radio station is really special.  Here’s what happened.

My friend valis, who does a show in the same time slot as mine on Tuesday mornings called Trip Inside This House, was in the studio with me.  It’s always easier to do these Membership Drive shows with a partner; helps to keep things light and fun as we chat about music and baseball while the music spins and as we implore our fine listeners between the music to pledge their support.

I fell well shy of my membership goals during my show from the previous week and, although I was doing better yesterday, I was hoping to do much better and was a little anxious. The calls were trickling in and I saved the best music for the latter part of my show. Each song better than the last as we built to a climax that would leave listeners no choice but to call that number (314-664-3688) or go online (KDHX.org) to pledge .

I thought The Beach Boys track, “Add Some Music To Your Day” from their 1970 Sunflower album was a good song that would resonate with what we do at KDHX. “The Sunday morning gospel goes good with the soul. There’s blues, folk and country and rock like a rolling stone.” I mentioned to valis that I couldn’t think of a better track to get listeners to call and we talked about how so many great Beach Boys songs don’t get the airplay they deserve on other stations, but we get it here at KDHX. “The world could come together as one if everybody under the sun…add some music to your day. Add some music, add some music. Add some music to their day.” “Those harmonies are electric on this one,” valis added. I mentioned that I heard Hendrix once described the Beach Boys as “a Barbershop Quartet on acid.” ” You’ll hear it while you’re walking by a neighbor’s home. You’ll hear it faintly in the distance when you’re on the phone.” On went valis’s headphones to better hear those electric harmonies.

You’re sitting in a dentist’s chair and they’ve got music for you there…to add some music. Add some music, add some, add some music to your day.” I turned the volume on the studio’s speakers up a little more. “Your doctor knows it keeps you calm. Your preacher adds it to his psalms…so add some music. Add some music, add some. Add some music to your day. Music when you’re alone is like a companion for your lonely soul.” Then out with the song’s next line, “When day is over I close my tired eyes. Music in my soul.” comes a piece of paper from the ticker, which sits midway between me and valis and notifies us that we have another person to thank for pledging their support.  He looks at me, raises his arm and shows me the goose-bumps there.  “At the movie you can feel it touching your heart and on every day of the summertime you’ll hear children chasing ice cream carts.

It made me realize once again just how powerful music can be.  Right at that moment it justified all the time spent putting together shows and getting up at around 3:45 am every Thursday and all the pledge pitching and all the wondering if there’s more than a handful of people listening at any given moment and I knew right then and there that was the perfect song to be playing and it was absolutely connecting with our great listeners and I never felt prouder or more privileged or pleased to be sharing it.

“They’ll play it on your wedding day. There must be about a million ways …to add some music.  Add some music, add some. Add some music to your day.”

Tune into KDHX and add some music to your day…indeed.

Charity Book Sale at St. Gabe’s, April 9 and April 10

If you’ve ever won tickets on 88.1 KDHX over the years, or scored some on Facebook, you have a lot to be thankful for — and one person in particular deserves your thanks: Ed Vigil. A longtime volunteer for 88.1 KDHX, Ed coordinates with all the clubs in Saint Louis to arrange for the tickets and access. He is truly the Titan of Tickets, the Sultan of Shows, the Guru of Guest Lists, the Emperor of Events.

This morning, Ed hipped me to a great event and a great cause. No tickets necessary, and your support can make a difference in the community.

Stewards of Hope International is holding a book sale at St. Gabriel’s in South City St. Louis on Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10. St. Gabriel’s is located at 4700 Tamm Avenue in Saint Louis, MO 63109.

Proceeds benefit Elba’s Orphans in Venezuela. According to Ed there will be tens of thousands of books, DVDs, and video games.

Get more details here and here. I’m going. See you there!

SXSW 2010 Photos, Part 2

Mayer Hawthorne at the French Ligation Museum Party

Tyler Ramsey at Central Presbyterian Church

Band of Horses at Central Presbyterian Church

Sixth Street in Austin

Delorean at Emo's

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SXSW 2010 Photos, Part 1

I’ve lost count. This was either my 11th or 12th South By Southwest, and easily the most hectic, but also one of the very best, from a purely musical point of view. The KDHX and Twangfest Day Parties at Jovita’s were stellar — and beyond packed. Read my reviews of all four days (and see more and better photos by Dana Plonka) at the Riverfront Times A to Z Blog.

We Were Promised Jet Packs at the Fader Fort

Real Estate at Red 7

Jason Collett at Peckerhead's

Miranda Lee Richards at Central Presbyterian Church

The Unthanks at Emo's

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. at Prague

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