Category Archives: Concerts

Menomena @ The Urban Lounge 3/2/13

So it’s been a few months since I’ve been to a concert. I finally got to fix that and saw Menomena Saturday night. The show was at The Urban Lounge so it was that small show setting that is the just the best for concerts. Guards was the opening band, and they were pretty much all you can want out of an opener. They played some upbeat indie rock. I wasn’t really digging the first couple of songs they played. I’m not sure if was me just not quite being in concert mode yet or the songs being not that good. It was probably the former, although I do remember being a little disappointed by these guys. When they were setting up they had four mics for their five member band. I saw this and got my hopes up to hear some nice harmonies, especially a female male combo between the keyboardist and guitarist, but those backup mics didn’t give much besides some ooh’s and echoing the lead singer. I got over my unwarranted expectations pretty quickly when Guards broke things down for a bit and just jammed. They did some fun things dynamically building into a loud ruckus and then bringing things down really soft only to build it up again. Before you know it Guards wrapped things up leaving the Lounge energized and ready for the main event.

Menomena opened their set in the same fashion as the last time I saw them, a.k.a. the pure awesomeness that is “Strongest Man in the World.” If your not familiar with Menomena let me explain something. They were formerly a trio of Justin Harris on the bass, saxaphone, foot synthesizer, and sometimes the guitar; Brent Knopf on the keyboard and guitar; and Danny Seim on the drums, and they all took turns singing on different songs and adding harmonies. Now they are just a duo of Justin and Danny, but on tour they pick up a couple buddy’s to fill in on the keyboard and guitar. So there is a keyboardist and a guitarist, they’re there, but we really don’t care about what they’re doing. Okay, I know there were some poorly constructed sentences in there, but hopefully it wasn’t too confusing. “Strongest Man in the World,” fantastic opener. That song is great because it lets Danny pound away on his drum set. The dude is a monster on the drums, the dude is a monster in general ( a.k.a. he’s really, really tall.) It’s kind of hard to explain why he’s so good at the drums. He plays on a fairly simple kit, only one cymbal besides the hi-hat, but he spices it up with some little things here and there. On some songs he wore a bracelet with a bunch of bells on it, for another he replaced on of his drum sticks with a shaker, but mostly he just plain rocks. Then you have Justin center stage rocking on his bass, and when he’s not playing that bass he still manages to make the whole lounge rumble with that foot synthesizer of his. Literally rumble, soo much rumbling that I had to constantly scratch my nose, and forced a sneeze out of a few people, but it was soo awesome that it overcame the annoyingness of an itchy nose. Then, on top of that he would occasionally bust out that saxophone which is just a lot of fun.

They played quite a few songs off of their new album Moms which was great, because it’s starting to win the fight to become my favorite album by them. “Don’t mess with Latexas” was a real highlight for me. It translated live much better than I was expecting it too, not that I was expecting it to be bad live, it was just especially good. All the songs they played were great, but some others I thought were especially good were “Heavy is as Heavy Does,” and “Plumage,” also from Moms, “Five Little Rooms” and “Pelican.” This was the last show of their tour so if you didn’t catch them on this round, I highly recommend catching them when they come through your town next.

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Foxy Shazam @ The Urban Lounge 10/6/2012

For so long I’d heard so many great things about Foxy’s live show, and watched several youtube videos to back it up, finally I got to experience it first hand. Now I can tell you without a doubt that Foxy Shazam’s live show lives up to all the hype. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more energetic performance.  These guys are bottled lightning.  Eric Nally, the lead singer, and Schuyler White, the keyboardist, were the two to watch. Eric was all over the stage, doing handstands, jumping onto the back of the guitarist(while he was soloing) and snagging a piggy back ride, rolling around on the floor, hanging from the rafters, and eating cigarettes. Yes you read that right, the man ate cigarettes, somewhere between 7-9, he even lit them up before he chomped them down. Throughout the show he threw some anecdotal wisdom at us such as “The only difference between me and a scholar is how much we paid for our knowledge,” and “Being in a church makes you as much a christian as standing in a garage makes you a car,” which was just more silliness. Sky on the other hand was always near his keyboard, which wasn’t as stationary as you would expect. Sometimes he climbed up on his keyboard, and sometime he let his keyboard climb up him, hoisting it up on his back, or handing it to the crowd  to hold up (along with himself) while he jammed out. Yeah, I’d never seen a keyboardist play his keyboard while he and his keyboard were both crowd surfing either. Even with all these shenanigans they still managed to play music, and even sound pretty good too. They played “Unstoppable,” “Red Cape Diver,” “Yes, Yes, Yes,” and “I like it” and a lot of other tunes from their newest album. I would have liked to have heard more songs from Introducing, but it’s kind of hard to complain about the show I beheld. After he ate the cigarettes and crunched out a few pull-ups from the rafters, and put a cymbal on his head Eric told us “I wish I had mirror so I could see what I look like when I sing.” and then dropped his mike and was done for the night. I think everyone should see what he looks like when he sings because it is something beyond just a concert and more of a spectacle.


Thrice & Manchester Orchestra @ The Great Saltair 11/1/2011

I think it would be very difficult to find a better lineup than the one for this show. At least a lineup with seven bands, which is a few too many. There was no way I would pass it up with Thrice and O’Brother playing, though. I thought maybe since they were all pretty decent bands it wouldn’t be so bad, but towards the end of the night your brain might be still having a good time, but you back sure isn’t. Luckily for me I’m a pretty strict adherent to the whole mind being greater than the body philosophy.

It could have been an even longer show for me than it was because we showed up a little late and missed the first one or two songs by Moving Mountains. I was excited to hear them, I’d heard a lot of good things about their album “Pneuma,” but during their quick set nothing really interested me into further checking them out. Sure there were a few scattered rhythms here and there that I liked, but as a whole I was pretty indifferent to what these guys were doing.

We moved from the Mountains on the O’Brother, which is a band that is seriously competing to be among my favorites of all. My excitement before the show and enjoyment during for O’Brother was only beaten by Thrice. They’ve been touring a lot recently and it has paid off for them because each time I’ve seen them they’ve put on a better show than the last. They’re new songs on the upcoming album Garden Window are seriously awesome, and I hope that album propels them into bigger success. Then maybe when I see them live they can play more than four songs. Their music is smart, diverse, heavy, and beautiful, although they didn’t show us much of their softer side with the songs they played. They opened with “Machines” I think they played part one and two, and then went into “Division of Man,” and then “Poison!” and “Lay Down.” Did I mention that I can’t wait for  Garden Window in two weeks. With a scruffy looking Leo Dicaprio as the front man and the direct descendant of Atilla the Hun on bass you know these guys are going to rock.

Up next was The Dear Hunter and just once I wish I could swap these guys out for Deerhunter, the better hunter of deers. I don’t know what it is about these guys, but I can’t get into them. Ironically I’ve now seen them more than any other band, because they always seem to be opening for bands that I really want to see like Thrice, mewithoutYou, or in the case of 4 months ago O’brother opened for them. To be honest this was probably my favorite time seeing these guys. It was probably due to the fact that they could only play five songs. The first song they played was really good, but it didn’t take long for them to lose me after that.

Things changed up for a bit as we wrapped up the indie/alt rock scene and La Dispute led us into a post-hardcore phase. I enjoyed these guys about as much as I enjoyed The Dear Hunter. The music rocked pretty good at times, but the biggest enjoyment came from the lead singer. Not because of his singing, but because of his dance moves. It is hard to describe, but he moved in a really unique sort of stiff-limbed way. I imagine it would be something like what you would get from that old, peg-legged, fisherman from Family Guy trying to dance. Throughout the whole set his delivery never changed, it was just barking indecipherable words, and that alone isn’t a problem for me. I don’t care if I don’t understand what their saying, but he never changed his tone or his pitch and I got a little bored with it. Eventually I just ignored him and listened to the other guys rocking out and they were pretty good.

Next up was our favorite jam band White Denim. The competition for that top spot isn’t all that fierce being that they are the only jam band I’ve seen live, but don’t let that fool you. They are really entertaining. They just rock. I’m not sure how long their songs are on their albums, but during their live show it seems like most of their song structure slips away and you’re left with 4 guys just jamming. One song blended into the next and it was easy to lose track of how long they played and how many songs they played. It could have been two songs, and it could have been 5, but the world will never know for sure.

At last we made it to the headliners. Manchester Orchestra was first and they did a good job. I’ve seen them do better though. We didn’t get any humorous banter that I’ve come to enjoy of these guys, so that was disappointing. I also am curious about their decisions on the setlist. I don’t think they played any songs from I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, and they really didn’t play all that many new songs. I was looking forward to see “Simple Math,” “Virgin” and “Pensicola” but our ears were never graced with those great tunes. Overall though it was great, Andy Hull has a special intensity that he brings to the live shows. “Shake it Out” and ‘The River” were especially intense and they slowed down “The Only One” into an acoustic song which was also really cool.

And so, after 5 hours of rocking good times Thrice came on to send us home. They started off with a few off of their new record “Yellow Belly,” “Promises” and “Call it in the Air.” At some point after that they played “The Earth Will Shake” which has become somewhat of a staple in their live shows. Between O’Brother, La Dispute and Moving Mountains there were five or six extra drums on the stage for the epic ending of that song. Another highlight for me was when they played “Words in the Water,” that song is amazing, and I was super excited that they played it. I was also hoping to hear “Listen Through Me” and “Treading Paper” but you can’t always get what you want. They played a few more songs in there “Silhouette,” “The Weight,” “All the World is Mad,” and “Firebreather” before they left us. Then we called them up for one more and they played “To Awake and Avenge the Dead.” It was awesome, everybody was pumped. Even the security personel were rocking out. Dustin came out into the crowd standing on peoples shoulders, vocally assaulting the mike as intense as I’ve ever seen the guy. It was a fantastic finish to an exceptional show.


Opeth @ The Complex 10/24/2011

This was the first metal show I had been to in years and I wasn’t all that sure what to expect. I’d learned that I wasn’t as familiar with Opeth’s discography as I would have liked, and I hadn’t heard any of Katatonia. Katatonia set the mood with sounds that seemed like satellite transmissions over top some ambient guitars and they that that run for a couple minutes before they took to the stage. They started their set off with a couple of slower paced songs which I really enjoyed. Then they played a few songs that were faster and heavier and seemed to me more generic and less interesting. The lead singer, while not a very having a particularly great voice by himself, did fit in with music and at times tricked you into thinking this guy was a decent singer. I’ve also got to talk about his hair, he had long dark hair and it covered his face for pretty much the whole set. It looked like cousin it was singing to us. Towards the end of their set they played a few more songs that got me engaged in their show a bit more than the middle of their set and overall they put on an enjoyable performance.

I was really curious to see what songs Opeth would play. I’ve only got two albums by them, Blackwater Park and Damnation, and I’d listened to a stream of Heritage a couple of times. When you consider that Heritage was their tenth release it’s easy to see that I’m not as familiar with them as I should be, but I knew that I loved Mikael Akerfeldt’s voice and their guitar work was incredible as well, and I knew these guys were a band I needed to see live. They lived up to my hype. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t play any songs from Blackwater Park, but they made the songs from Heritage rock harder than I remember them rocking, and in the middle of the set they slowed things down to play a few songs on the acoustic guitars. “Closure” was one of those songs which was really awesome to behold. The whole night Mikael really belted it out and showed me just how good of a singer he was. I didn’t hear him do his death growl at all though, and the fact that they didn’t play any songs of of Blackwater Park make me a little suspicious that maybe he can’t anymore. I hope that’s not the case because I think it adds a lot to their music when they transition from very aggressive and heavy sections to lighter melodic sections. Anyway the show was great, in fact it was pure awesomeness. Now all I need to do is acquire more of their music.


St. Vincent 10/10/2011 @ The Urban Lounge

This was a concert I’d been pretty excited about for a while, and I must say that the excitement paid off. Cate Le Bon was our opener for the night. Sadly she wasn’t all that much to be excited about. The premise of her little solo excursion is neat and could have a lot of potential, just her and her guitar belting out some heartfelt folky tunes. Her voice was nice and charming with what I’m assuming was a french accent, but her guitar playing and songwriting let quite a bit to desired. If you like really low-fi stuff you’d probably enjoy her, but I got bored. She never really did anything all that interesting or exciting. My buddy decided that she sounded like she was from Jefferson Airplane, and wholeheartedly agreed. After that all I wanted to do was shout out “Play White Rabbit”. I never got the nerve to do it though, and her set seemed to end pretty quickly. Then the wait for awesomeness ensued. It turned out to be a substantial wait, but eventually she did come on. Right from the get go you knew this was going to be an awesome show. She opened us off with “Cruel,” and all I could think was wow. This lady knows how to play her guitar, I mean she really shreds. The guitar seen above was short one string by the end of the night. The solos from some of her newer songs were all awesome, and there were a couple times where I thought missing a string might mess up some of her solos. She just improvised her way out of it and it still sounded awesome. She played almost every song from her new release Strange Mercy, “Actor Out of Work”, “Marrow”, and “Just the Same but Brand New” from Actor, she even played a cover of The Pop Group, a late seventies, early eighties, british, post-punk band. That song was rocking, and showed off an edgier side of Annie Clark that you don’t really hear on her albums. I wouldn’t mind hearing that peak through a little bit more. She finished her encore with Your Lips Are Red which was amazing. It was already one of my favorite songs by her and the live version was spiced up a bit and a perfect way to end the night, and one of the best concerts I’ve been to.


Blindside 9/15/2011 @ Club Sound

This is a concert that I have been waiting to see for nigh unto a decade now. Blindside was my favorite band all through high school, and the last time they came through (6 years ago) I was unable to make it. Nothing stopped me this time around. Before the show I met up with a high school buddy also going to the show and he gave me a little preview of one of the opening bands, Write This Down. I was impressed, because I hadn’t heard of either of the openers and didn’t really expect anything good from either one. Write This Down was pretty decent and I got that much more excited knowing that at least one of the openers wasn’t terrible. Sadly when we arrived to the show it is revealed to us that they will not be playing. A local band filled in their spot, I am the Ocean, and I don’t have much to say about them. There wasn’t anything really special about them except for the fact that they gave everyone a free poster. Intohimo were country mates of Blindside also hailing form Sweden. This did nothing to help their sound. Call me judgmental,  but everything about their appearance set them up for failure in my book, and things only got worse. First off they all looked like they were or wanted to be counselors for a summer bible camp. Their guitarist was the perfect stereotype for the ambiguously gendered thing, with it’s shoulder length hair, and deep-cut v-neck. All of that appearance stuff can be forgiven if the music is good right? Well they started playing and it didn’t help. How did this ever become cool or popular? These guys even made up their own move, they’d swing their guitars around in a circle up over their heads, the Guitar Around the World move. The drummer also got involved with the performance. He repeatedly would stand up on his little drummer stool Whenever I see that I can’t take it seriously. I receive some humorous entertainment out of it at how ridiculous they look while at the same time thinking they are hip and cool, but on the other hand it drives me crazy at how stupid it is. I know I haven’t talked much about their music, but I don’t want to. I didn’t enjoy it, it was pretty generic “Christian” screamo, post-hardcore, whatever you call it.

With Write This Down not showing up we got to Blindside a lot quicker than I was expecting and by no means was I going to complain about that. They played an awesome set with a good mix of new and old. Most of the songs were from Silence and About a Burning Fire with a few from With Shivering Hearts We Wait, which they released this year. They only played one song from The Great Depression, “My Alibi” which I thought was an interesting choice, and also “The Way You Dance” from the Black Rose EP. When they first started playing I was a bit nervous that, since high school, I might have outgrew these guys. It was a bit of a ridiculous thought to think since I still listen to them quite a bit, but my concerns were put to rest by the awesome performance. I was also relieved that they never played “Monster on the Radio” which was the lead single off of their new album and maybe the only song in their discography that I can flat-out say I dislike. Some of my favorite songs they played were “Sleepwalking,” “Cold,” “After You’re Gone,” “About a Burning Fire,” and “Pitiful.” It was a fantastic show and I hope it’s not another eight years before I see them again.


Lupe Fiasco 8/25/11 @ Pioneer Park

Well, it took me a whole week from my return to the U.S. to get to a concert. This was the last of the Twilight Series this year and it went out with a bang. I lost count after a while, but I would have to say there were probably around 40,000 people or so. It was nuts. Big K.R.I.T. opened the night up for us. Well, I should say his DJ opened the night up for us. He mixed and mashed, or whatever it is that DJ’s do, for a good 20 minutes before the crowd was warmed up enough to witness the ReturnOf4eva. I thought Big K.R.I.T. did a pretty good job, it’s definitely not my favorite style of rap and towards the end of his set I was getting pretty worn out by him. Lupe Fiasco was pretty sweet though. I wasn’t too familiar with him, but he was a very entertaining performer. Lupe would take time in between songs and make sure the crowd was doing okay and trying to keep anyone from getting hurt. He also encouraged us to help out in our communities, to be good citizens and volunteer at schools and whatnot. After the pep-talk the Fiasco continued. He played some of the fan favorites like Kick-Push, Go-Go Gadget Flow, Hip-Hop Saved My Life, Superstar and The Show Goes On. The crowd loved it and everybody was singing along. It was pretty impressive. It was a great ending to the Twilight Series.