Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sebadoh, February 24 at the Troubadour

Another band and another show I would have missed if not for Carla. I don’t know how I missed Sebadoh back in the lo-fi heyday of the mid-’90s. I think I was a lot more into Britpop and bigger American alt-rock acts at the time. I was never a Dinosaur Jr. fan and I think I even had a Sebadoh album but it must have been the wrong one because I couldn’t get into it and I got rid of it. Carla is an obsessive ‘90s lo-fi fan, as well as being in love with Sebadoh, and she got me to come along. Sebadoh were playing Bake Sale, their epic, and she got me into it, and I have to admit that I was really missing out, having never gotten it before. I’m not sure how much music I have in my past to connect to the band but somehow I just didn’t come close. Luckily I could (almost) make up for it. Sebadoh played all the tracks on the album, though not in order, which I thought was interesting. Most bands that play their whole albums just run straight through them, which is probably easiest and might make more sense to the audience, but there’s nothing that says they have to, and it might even be more fun that they don’t, since they can be spontaneous and spread it out over the evening and they don’t have to play what might be the best tracks at the beginning of the show. Of course, after the beginning of the show I couldn’t really tell what the order was or exactly what songs were from that album (since I know they didn't play the first track first), but it all sounded great. The Troubadour was probably the best place in the world for them and their sound, being just big enough and with a sound-system that could be what they needed, though it’s unfortunate that their legend didn’t grow enough while they were gone that they couldn’t come back and play a bigger place (though anywhere bigger might not have felt or sounded right). And Barlow might be getting on in years and the cute-nerd look might be fading into scuzzy-hippie but he still has enough charm and enough great songs to show why he and his band should have been bigger than they were (at least bigger than Mascis). Quasi opened the show but I don't think we saw their whole performance. Somehow I remember seeing Janet Weiss on the drums there but I don't recall us getting their whole show. I might be wrong.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beach House, February 16 at the Fonda

Beach House might not be a band I’d be really into. They came up really big in 2010 and I could probably have seen them at a festival but it wasn’t really much that I could get into. Not that I don’t listen to a whole lot of sleepy or strange music, it’s just tricky to mix the two. Beach House just hadn’t really appealed much to me before. I would have been the last person to guess that they would get as big as they did when we saw them years ago at the Knitting Factory -- heck, I wouldn’t even have thought they would keep going as a band (especially with that name) -- but they did and they turned out some fascinating music so I’m glad I was wrong. Carla was really into their Teenage Dream and of course had to go to the show, and of course I went along. I listened to the album a lot leading up to the show and I can’t say that I fell in love with it (at least not as much as Carla did) but I found some great stuff in it, especially “Norway.” It’s only as sleepy as you let it be, and you could say that it’s strange (is the singer a chick or a dude or some inter-dimensional alien?) but that’s also its greatest strength. It’s different, it’s unique. The show itself wasn’t much beyond the sound on the album, just three people on stage (and a lot of pre-programmed stuff), with lots of lights behind some shaped props (probably to show that this was a band that deserved a slot at a bigger place (at least bigger than the Knitting Factory) and to make up some of the extra money in the budget for the tour), but for a run-through of the high-points of the record, that was enough for the crowd. And for us. Even for me, who let the music carry me away (until those lights brought me back down again).

Beach House's set-list:
"Better Times"
"Walk in the Park"
"Silver Soul"
"Master Of None"
"Lover Of Mine"
"Used To Be"
"New Song"
"Heart of Chambers"
"Take Care"

"Real Love"
"10 Mile Stereo"