Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Twilight Singers, May 25 at the Fonda

Greg Dulli has had a lot of things with music going on the last few years -- with the Gutter Twins and with Mark Lanegan (both of those separately, for some reason) and his own solo stuff -- but it’s all still him, with all of it mixing together with each other, making the boarders of each nearly non-existent.  Though none of those are the Afghan Whigs, there’s still occasionally some of that in there too, at least in spirit.  But the Twilight Singers have been his most consistent project post-Whigs and since it’s really only him, it’s probably what he’ll continue to do, assuming he won’t make some monumental shift in what he produces as an artist.  The original point of the Twilight Singers was that it would be a rotating cast of singers, though after the first album it became Dulli and some co-singers and back-up singers, which is perfectly fine, and he’s made some great records.  The man certainly is comfortable with collaboration, though when you get down to it, he’s strong enough on his own and doesn’t require others, so it’s probably just for the company.  In concert you never know who may show up (though it’s usually Lanegan) but sometimes it’s just a straight-ahead rock show.  Predictably Carla and I got tickets for the show, not minding the overlap of all the stuff he would play that we’ve both heard before at other shows.  This show was about as straight-forward as you could get: no notable special guests and no left-field music selections, and Dulli doesn’t chat as much on stage as he used to (though that might be the sobriety talking).  Just the Twilight Singers (even though it’s only one singer) doing stuff from their newest album Dynamite Steps and some choice cuts from past albums, in particular “Teenage Wristband,” which is on the level of his older stuff.  The music played live doesn't have the production flourishes that Dulli throws down in the studio but it doesn’t need it; they just played a rock show and they didn’t need any extra, fancy stuff.  At this point, Dulli is a self-aware professional musician and he’s been doing this long enough to know where he stands, heading away from a commercial peak but towards a classy elder statesman status, so he puts on a slick show and heads a band that’s just off the middle of the road but he knows how to navigate the detours.  The only surprise was that there were no surprises, just an undiluted rock show.  That was good enough for me, though I have to admit that I was, as always whenever Dulli is playing, no matter what name the show is under, hoping for the surprise of an Afghan Whigs track played live again.  Margot & the Nuclear So & So's opened the show and we saw maybe half of their last song, since we were getting drinks next door at the Blue Palm.  I'm sure they were just lovely.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

TV on the Radio, May 11 at the Fonda

It seems like TV on the Radio’s new album and subsequent tour came together really quickly, from out of nowhere.  Last I heard they were on hiatus and had a bunch of side-projects (which I didn’t seek out, just to show you that I’m not quite to the point of obsessiveness about them).  Even stranger that Nine Types of Light came out within a week of Coachella and they didn’t play there that year (though twice already was quite a lot).  Anyway, Carla is a fan like me so we had to go.  We got seats in the balcony, though that might have been by choice -- I don’t know how much we would have felt like dancing that night.  As I’ve said on this blog, TVoR shows run hot n’ cold.  I think they do better when they’re not trying so hard.  Playing the Fonda was a bit of a step back from playing the Wiltern like they did last time but the space suited them.  They didn't have to work as hard to fill the space with sound so it could a little more subdued affair in the moments it needed to be, though the moments when they brought it up to rock out really exploded.  Since I haven’t seen an amazing show by them every single time, I sometimes forget that they’re overall often a really amazing live band.  But to be amazing doesn’t always mean that it has to be consistent.  That not every show is great makes the great shows even greater.  And that was one of the better ones, even though they didn't burn the place to the ground.  It was really just them running through music and giving back to the crowd, though in a  much more immediate setting than usual, especially over the times they’re playing in the middle of a field during the height of the afternoon (though not always the worst placement).  Also significant was that this was a show they played shortly after the passing of their bass player.  No one would have blamed them for taking some time off to grieve but maybe they took it out through their sounds and voices and rollicking music. 

Glasser opened and we made a bit of an effort but just didn't get there in time.
"Halfway Home"
"Caffeinated Consciousness"
"The Wrong Way"
"Blues From Down Here"
"Will Do"
"Red Dress"
"Young Liars"
"Staring at the Sun"
"Wolf Like Me

"A Method"


Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Orleans Jazz Fest, May 7 in New Orleans

The original plan was that we were going to go to New Orleans to see a Greg Dulli show but that changed into meeting up with Carla's music friends to go to Jazz Fest.  Seemed like a great idea.  I've never been to New Orleans and it looked like a great festival with a great line-up.  We started making plans then all her friends (but one, who we never met up with) dropped out but we went ahead with it anyway since it would at least be a trip for us.  We still planned to do Jazz Fest of course but we had to change plans when it became best for us to fly in on Friday.  It was cheaper and easier but we missed Wilco at the fest on Thursday then Arcade Fire on Friday (when they performed with Cyndi Lauper, who we passed on the street in downtown on Saturday morning but that wasn’t part of our concert).  So the trip changed from a destination for a concert festival to pretty much just a few days over a weekend in New Orleans and stopping in at a concert festival.  We had a great time in the city and might have been fine with doing something else rather than going to the festival but we felt some obligation since that was part of the original plan.  Overall for three days it was a good line-up but spread out, for each individual day, there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of bands we knew beforehand, especially on Saturday, so we were pretty much left with the Strokes as headliners. We got there in the afternoon and checked out the other stages, sometimes just to get out of the oppressive, Southern sun, but there was a great range in depth of music out there: gospel, blues, soul, and actually some jazz.  There were probably a lot of local acts but I didn’t research to see.  It would have been a great music festival just to wander without a plan and soak up some unfamiliar sounds.  About the only musical genre that wasn’t completely represented was rock, and that was held up by the headliners.  The park was also full of food and art and performances and booths selling stuff and lots of things to walk around and see.  A lot of local flavor, but you get that anywhere in that city, maybe more than than other place I’ve been to in the world.  We didn’t see Lauryn Hill at Coachella since we thought we would see her here but she was up against the Strokes, which was the act we were there to see in particular.  The Strokes put on the same show they’ve put on every other time, which isn’t to say that it was bad, and the music was as amazing as it always is and has been, but they’re really not much to watch, and a bit out of place on a big stage in the middle of a swelteringly hot field, but apparently by now they’ve earned the status of big-festival-headliners.  As a band at something billed as a “jazz fest” they seemed out of place, and local musicheads probably protested their inclusion, but it certainly brought in a fair share of people, though I have no idea if it sold out or who much the Strokes contributed to that or if anyone complained that the place had too many Strokes fans.  There were a lot of kids there and it’s hard to say if they would have done it if it wasn’t for seeing a (relatively) young rock band.  It kinda sucks that they’d have to go to a big music festival in a field to see just that band (especially a band that’s much better indoors, out of the light, and playing to somewhere less than 60,000 people) but hopefully they were old enough to see them the first time back in the day.  We left before the Strokes had finished to beat the crowd (which was shipped in and out in quickly-overflowing buses) and that was before 8.  The sun was still up!  Not very rock n’ roll but there were probably curfews and all sorts of city ordinances and it was probably difficult enough to have a music festival in a park within the city anyway, but it gave us time back in the city that night.  I’d like to go back to Jazz Fest just to wander and take in as much music as possible, without aim or expectation.  Going for a headliner is fine but there’s more to that event than music you already know.  And I’d certainly go back to New Orleans.  The rest of the weekend was great, maybe the best trip I’ve ever had, though the details of that aren’t really the province of this blog.  But if you go to Jazz Fest, get a lobster po’ boy.  The sandwich was recommended to us but we didn’t have a chance to try it.  Maybe reason to go back again.

"Under Cover of Darkness"
"The Modern Age"
"I Can't Win"
"Life Is Simple in the Moonlight"
"Hard To Explain"
"Taken for a Fool"
"You're So Right"
"You Only Live Once"
"Is This It"
"New York City Cops"
"What Ever Happened?"
"Last Nite"
"Automatic Stop"