Monday, December 29, 2008

Re-Introducing TK

Longtime readers are quite familiar with the excellent concert posts from our Senior Midwest Correspondent, TK (now going by TK856). Well, he's been bumped up to a full-time contributor. The post below is his first toss at this blog wall and we're expecting many more in the future. So, welcome TK full-time.

No Age | Club 770 South | Nov 17

It was nice to be able to take part this time.

It was just over a year ago when the University of Wisconsin got Deerhoof to play a free show on campus. I was pretty excited at the prospects, only to have to go to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy that day.

I visited a friend in North Carolina last weekend and considered driving across the state because I've had a compulsion to see No Age again after catching them at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago. Instead, I was able to catch them in Madison after getting back to the Midwest - for free.

After my buddy Adam and I got some good Peruvian food at Inka Heritage, we popped into Club 770 . It's a tiny venue that evidently is on the verge of being replaced.

No Age and opening act Titus Andronicus did their part to swing the wrecking ball on Club 770 Monday night. Despite my disdain for one-man groups playing with their toys, starter act Soft Circle didn't sound bad.

Then Titus Andronicus pulled two firsts...for me, anyhow. Their lead singer did his first couple songs in a winter coat with the hood pulled over his face, sticking his mic through the hood to sing like Kenny from South Park would.

Later, while playing harmonica, he dropped to his knees on stage. "An angry Dylan," Adam said.
Anyway, it was tough to resist their energy. At one point, the lead singer endured an assault conducted by his own fist and mic.

One of the things I love about shows like this is sometimes you'll see the band members holding down their own merch table. It gave me the opportunity to briefly shoot the breeze with No Age guitarist Randy Randall.

Super sweet and cool guy. Quite humble. He said Pitchfork was fun but agreed with me that the sound crews needed to have their asses kicked.

Titus turned out to be a good primer for No Age. The LA duo had one problem: drummer Dean Spunt needed to turn up his mic.

I understand if something is going to give, it will be Spunt's vocals rather than the uncanny amount of sound Randall conjures out of his guitar. Maybe it was the venue, maybe it was Spunt drumming while he sang, but his vocals didn't always come through clear and he shouldn't hide his voice.

OK, enough of the nitpicking. I love these guys. Same for the crowd.

In some ways, it was better than a regular venue. Between the small size and the already jacked-up crowd, it made for a volatile mosh pit.

Adam and I were tempted to join in but given my size and our blood-alcohol content, I think we made the better decision to just look on longingly. At one point, the pit almost tipped over the speakers to the right of the stage.

No Age was wired to play for the students and the crowd kept urging them on. They even unveiled a new track, which Spunt afterward titled "Fuck Prop 8 In The Face".

During one song, Randall jumped into the front of the crowd and started lashing away. The crowd formed a circle around him as he thrashed away.

On one hand, the show was every bit the chaos I hoped it would be. No Age's live work makes me eager for what the band has in store after Nouns, a disc I can't get enough of.

On the other hand, I have to wonder sometimes about the Madison music scene. I thought a band like No Age might have the place packed, but to each their own, I guess.

I'm not sure if I'll catch another show before the year ends. But No Age followed Deerhoof last month in Milwaukee, and with Pitchfork and Lollapalooza last summer, my Christmas stocking is already stuffed with great live performances.

photo courtesy of concert photos

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Little Drummer Boy - David Bowie & Bing Crosby

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Best Christmas Mix Ever

My family is big on the Christmas season - choosing a tree, cookie decorating, first sledding tracks, etc. Vermont makes the cheer pretty contagious, with blankets of snow and a multitude of Rockwellian scenes. The frustrating part for me has been locating the perfect soundtrack. I've purchased an embarrassing number of really bad holiday compact discs. Each time I purchase a new one I hold out that it will have classic tunes, a jolly spirit, and perhaps some interesting newbies. Sadly they seem to be rife with absolutely annoying tracks (Wham, Kenny G, Chipmunks). 

This year I decided to stop looking elsewhere and make a compilation of the best within my collection. Below is that mix. I think I've put together something that has the right temperament - upbeat but not grating. Feel free to let me know what is missing. 
  1. Jingle Bells | Frank Sinatra
  2. O Come O Come Emmanuel | Sufjan Stevens
  3. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) | Nat King Cole
  4. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer | Jack Johnson
  5. Silent Night | Johnny Cash
  6. Little Drummer Boy | Ray Charles
  7. No Christmas for Me | Zee Avi
  8. It's the Most Wonderful time of the Year | Andy Williams
  9. Have Yourself a Merry little Christmas | Frank Sinatra
  10. White Christmas | Bing Crosby
  11. Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming | Feist
  12. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer | Gene Autry
  13. Baby, It's Cold Outside | Dean Martin
  14. A Holly Jolly Christmas | Burl Ives
  15. Christmas Song | Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds

Friday, December 05, 2008

Chris Brokaw | Will Johnson | Kris Gruen | Coming to Montpelier | Dec 12

It's not often that Montpelier gets a cool show in town. So, this Friday's show at The Lamb Abbey is a bit of a treat.

Chris Brokaw, Will Johnson and Kris Gruen will all be performing sets starting around 8:30. For those unfamiliar with the trio, here's a rundown of the artists.

Chris Brokaw is the former frontman for both Come and Codeine back in the 1990's. He now plays in The New Year, has a solo career and recently played with Thurston Moore at this falls' All Tomorrow's Party festival in NY. Expect a mix of tunes from different parts of his career.

Will Johnson is the frontman for both Centro-matic and South San Gabriel which are two Texas-based bands consisting largely of the same members but possessing different sounds. South San Gabriel tends to be quieter and mellower. Both bands are good stuff though and I'm hoping for a mix of both.

Montpelier's own Kris Gruen will be kicking off the evening. He's been performing some new material recently which you can find on his myspace page. Beautiful stuff which sounded real nice when I heard him open at Higher Ground over the summer for The Avett Brothers.

The show is at The Lamb Abbey which is a bit of a word-of-mouth underground music club in Montpelier. If you need directions, email me at The show will start around 8:30. The artists will appreciate donations at the door. Oh, and it's B.Y.O.B. Enjoy your own choice of brew.

Chris Brokaw | I Remember (Suicide Cover) | Buy

Chris Brokaw | Move | Buy

Centro-matic | Covered Up in Mines | Buy

South San Gabriel | Evangeline | Buy

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tick Tick Shows | This Weekend

Friday Dec 5

Tick Tick presents:
KIRA KIRA (Iceland), Dygn (Baltimore), Toby Aronson of OAK
At the North End Studio (294 North Winooski Ave)
$7 advance at, or $8 at the door

Kira Kira, Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir, is a founding member of Icelandic art collective Kitchen Motors. For the past 10 years she has tinkered with noises in bands such as Spúnk, Big band brútal, Stórsveit Sigríðar Níelsdóttur and as Kira Kira since autumn 1999 when she had a funny nightmare in Tokyo. She has composed music for theatre, dance and movies and performed exhibited extensively in her home country, Iceland as well as around Europe.

Kristin's visual work is often a staged haunting of some sort created with sound, smoke, wind and light presented in installations or on film: Singing black holes, blood driven cowboy hats hovering in thin air, a duel between smoke machines in castle towers, beset tape recorders, eternal explosions, trembling doors and someone who's dead by laughter or romance.

Saturday Dec 8

Tick Tick presents:
mi3 (free jazz vets with some strong electric influences!)
Saturday, December 6th
At the Firehouse Gallery
8pm, $7 at the Door

The members of mi3 are veterans of the Boston free jazz scene who have worked together for years, but this band's genesis took place in 2002 under special circumstances when Nate McBride was hosting a series called "mim" (modern improvised music) at Boston's Abbey Lounge, a tavern without a piano that was usually home to rock bands. Mi3 became the house trio with Pandelis Karayorgis playing electric piano. The results of the experience (both in situ and in the studio) were collected on We Will Make a Home for You (on Clean Feed), a notable release from 2005. The electric incarnation of mi3 might suggest what certain very high profile piano trios should sound like, combining some of the drive and riff-driven energy of electrified music with the fluid, complex creativity of jazz.

"If you asked me to make a long enough wish-list for musical projects, I'm sure I'd wind up asking for a trio with an elite post-jazz keyboardist smearing a Fender Rhodes electric piano over a snap-crackle-pop free jazz rhythm section. You can imagine how great it felt to have any such wish pre-empted by a disc that jumps right into the stratosphere with a leadoff take on Dolphy's "Gazzelloni" that fits the proposable scheme as tight as I could hope for. This disc just destroys me... "

Michael Anton Parker, Downtown Music Gallery (NYC)