Category Archives: Live

[stream] Tame Impala // Be Above It (Live Version)

tame impala live versions cover

Record Store Day, that annual celebration of all things limited, local, and vinyl, is exactly one month from today. The floodgate of releases has opened, with the extensive list of things to drool over and subsequently save for taking shape. I personally haven’t done much list scouring, but the two I have seen that I really want are the Sunny Day Real Estate split 7” (because who doesn’t want new SDRE?) and the live EP from Tame Impala.

Creatively called Live Versions, the EP features eight tracks culled from the Aussie band’s live show – specifically a 2013 show in Chicago, handpicked by the lead singer to showcase versions that were substantially different from what fans already have on the studio albums. This track, “Be Above It”, is the second to last on the EP, and first on the band’s sophomore album, and while the first few minutes feel familiar, the band turns its Sixties stoner-psych to 11 in the second half.

Record Store Day is Saturday, April 19, and if you happen to be in the record stores around Rochester and prevent me from getting my copy of Live Versions, you’re in for a world of pain, my friends.

[review] Mac Demarco // Live at Russian Recording

mac demarco live at russian recording cover

I have a certain disdain for listening to concerts after the fact, whether that’s through some taper’s recording or – even worse – a band sanctioned, for-profit concert that could, for all I know, be an amalgam of multiple concerts pieced haphazardly together and packaged as if it had been a single night of magical musicianship. That’s not to say that I never get live shows in any form; I love The Tragically Hip’s Live Between Us, though that affection might be more a function of my having spent so much time digesting it over the twenty or so years since it was released than an appreciation for live music.

All of this is a long way of getting to the fact that I willingly – gleefully, actually – purchased a live release last night, and on cassette, no less, despite the fact that I have no method of playing it (other than the digital copy that came automatically when I ordered the tape). Yesterday, through the folks at Jurassic Pop, Mac Demarco released a thirteen song, tightly-wound set titled Live at Russian Recording. (Now, for all I know, this may have been altered or pared down from its original form, but maybe not.)

I saw Demarco with his former band, Makeout Videotape, on a roof in Toronto during the 2011 iteration of NxNE, and it was one of the more memorable shows for which I’ve been in attendance. Musically, Demarco and gang sounded fantastic, loose and casual about the whole affair. (Granted, it was on a rooftop in the middle of June, so seriousness wasn’t a hallmark of any of the performances I took in that afternoon.) What I remember most about that particular set, however, was the fact that Demarco was well-versed in phallic terminology, never taking his banter too far from a comment about his dick, your dick, anyone’s dick.

It’s there that Live at Russian Recording is lacking – a preponderance of penis jokes. He gets around to them eventually – notably, in his brief cover of Eric Clapton’s seminal cover of “Cocaine”, and then frequently during the ten-minute plus “Medley”, where a bunch of well-known songs have their lyrics replaced with some form of “suck my dick”. But prior to that point, Demarco and company churn through a group of songs culled from his 2012 EP Rock and Roll Night Club and the full-length follow-up from the same year, 2. While the live versions stay largely true to their recorded counterparts, they are sped up and shouted, Demarco channeling his best punk anger through songs that have been described as “soft rock” by Pitchfork. Demarco isn’t content here to do what he’s already done, or even what he’s become known for. He has influences, dammit, and he’s going to prove it. By the time the show gets to the aforementioned “Medley”, everyone’s been so tightly wound up that the lyrical substitutions are a welcome respite from the playful fierceness of the set that’s come before it.

Demarco may be unpredictable, and discontent to be fit into any one mold, but he’s gloriously talented, and even in the recorded version of his live performance, it’s obvious that he knows how to command a stage. Live at Russian Recording may not hold up in twenty years, but at this moment in time, the set is a necessary break from the musical monotony I have found myself in, and sometimes that’s all anyone needs.

Connect with Mac DeMarco // Facebook | Bandcamp

[show review] Colin Stetson // Rochester International Jazz Festival

Photo credit: DM Stith

A lonely bass sax the size of a small adult sat still on the Kilbourn Hall stage. The festival crowd quietly waited in curious anticipation. A woman in the aisle was having a conversation with the man sitting next to me. It eventually got a little louder and more heated. My ears perked up and I started picking up what they were talking about. It was political in nature and let’s just say the woman’s views didn’t align with mine nor her friend’s. He was wisely only offering up slight disapproval, but her arguments were so invalid I couldn’t keep it in. Completely out of character, I rudely interjected into their conversation. Luckily the lights died down and she shuffled off to her seat. But my pre-show calm had turned into discombobulation.

Colin Stetson entered with a soprano sax that he placed down on the stage. It looked like the bass’ little saxophone baby. He picked up the Papa sax and proceeded to blow a note so low that the entire theater reverberated. It wasn’t a note you could hear, it was a sonic wash you felt throughout your entire body. It surprisingly wasn’t even all that loud, you could still hear every shift in every seat… and there were many. The note reset my mind from frazzled to back at ease. Like watching a hard disk defrag, I could feel the proverbial colored blocks in my brain come back in order as the music penetrated my body.

With masterful playing and many cleverly attached microphones, it was amazing the amount of sound he could coax from his instrument. There was rhythm, bass and melody simultaneously being emitted without the use of any electronic devices. He even occasionally sang through the sax to very cool effect.

When the bass heavy first song was through, a man in the front row asked, “How long can you do that for?,” referring to the circular breathing that allows him to play entire pieces without taking a breath. Unsure how to answer at first, Stetson finally arrived at: “I’ve never tried for distance.” It was the perfect response. A lot is made about his technique, but I found that the quicker you forgot about the how and concentrated more on the what, it became a lot easier to enjoy and appreciate his music.

Switching between the soprano and bass regularly, Stetson continued for a set of intense, oddly calming, and thrilling playing that made an hour pass like it was nothing at all.

His music wasn’t for everyone, but groundbreaking unique new sounds rarely are. Jazz music always needs new artists to push boundaries, create new avenues for exploring, and expand the knowledge-base of the entire musical community. Stetson’s unique and refreshing take on the saxophone, and music in general, does just that.

My social gaffe was all but forgotten. Though I had to wonder if that woman at least agreed with me on the music we had just heard.

Connect with Colin Stetson // web | Bandcamp

[mp3] Tyler Lyle // These Days (Jackson Browne/Nico Cover) (Live)

I talked about Tyler Lyle here earlier in the year; I’d been consuming his breathtaking album, The Golden Age and The Silver Girl at unsafe amounts. It was making me nostalgic for times best left in the rearview mirror, and generally leaving me at a loss for proper function. We’ve all had the type of relationship that Lyle sings about on that album, only he was able to condense the end of his into a dozen songs, whereas the rest of us are only able to move on in short bursts of courage and alcohol.

I had to physically take that album out of my car for fear I’d go careening off the road at some point, wracked with grief and sorrow. But The Golden Age and The Silver Girl comes back to me strong at times, and this weekend was one of those times. I had to make a short, 45 minute round trip to recycle an old computer, and Lyle was my accompaniment on the road.

Luckily for me, Heather at Fuel/Friends has been championing Lyle’s music for longer, and with more gusto, even going so far as to record him for one of her impeccable Chapel Sessions. The session itself is all great – Lyle is as arresting in that setting as he was on his album – but I’ve been all wrapped up in his cover of Jackson Browne’s “These Days,” which was (probably) more famously covered by Nico, and subsequently used on every indie film’s soundtrack.

And goddamn. It’s not a reimagining of the song; it’s faithful to the version(s) you know, but it’s clean and clear and feels more honest than the others for me. So, here’s the cover that’s been rattling around in my head. I hope Heather doesn’t mind my reposting it, but please do yourself the solid of picking up the whole session right over here. And get The Golden Age and The Silver Girl right here. Just remember: everything in moderation.

Connect with Tyler Lyle // Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp | web

Tyler Lyle // These Days (Nico_Jackson Browne) [mp3] from Fuel/Friends Chapel Session #16

[live review] Get The Blessing // Rochester International Jazz Fest

Get The Blessing is a 4-piece out of Bristol, England that could just as easily be categorized “instrumental rock” as “jazz.” Being that they were playing at a jazz festival, let’s call it jazz. Their name is Get The Blessing, they were playing in a church, and there was some congregational clapping, but this music wasn’t religious. In fact, bassist Jim Barr (nicknamed Captain Havoc by his bandmates), formerly of Portishead, explained after the first number, “Low Earth Orbit,” that the music they would play could be placed into two categories, science or sentimental rubbish.

Normally Barr would be joined on drums by Clive Deamer, his former bandmate in Portishead. Though since he is currently on tour with Radiohead, he was replaced by Dylan Howe, son of Yes guitarist Steve Howe. He literally didn’t miss a beat. Rounding out the band are Jack McMurchie on saxophones and Peter Judge on trumpet. Both horn players made use of pedal effects and loops, though subtly without overpowering or distracting.

The music centered on Barr’s bass lines, even on the occasion he switched to a guitar. Intricate, intense and moving, it’d make for interesting music all on its own. The horns added more melodic and atmospheric sounds swirling in and around the bass, all pushed along by Howe’s driving beats. While they leave plenty of space to improvise and explore the themes, the bulk of their writing is very catchy. I was resisting the urge to hum along to many of the tunes, most of which I knew from their brilliant album OCDC, released earlier this year. It’s one of the best albums I have heard so far in 2012.

Part of the appeal of the evening was the hilarious British wit that would introduce each song. “Pentopia” (video above) was introduced as a song for starfish to dance to since they didn’t have one. “They like it,” Barr said. Another song was about shaving your beard to find that you had no chin underneath. “Speed of Dark” was introduced thusly, “Everyone knows what the speed of light is, but what about the speed of dark?” They closed the set with “Einstein Action Figure,” funny in and of itself. Question is, was it a scientific song or sentimental rubbish?

Connect with Get The Blessing // web | twitter | facebook (Gotta love a band that quotes The Simpsons in the Twitter bio)