Gigs: Field Division at Vaudeville Mews 6/16

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A dynamic local band that is worth seeing live is Field Division. They were on hand at Vaudeville Mews earlier this week as an opening act for Futurebirds. They’re a folkwave group that plays regularly here in the Midwest. Through the efforts of Evelyn Taylor and Nicholas Frampton, you get to hear a sound that is dreamy and surreal out of a mostly acoustic set. Most of their songs are about the world around us and their  lyrics describe places and landscapes and connect with people’s relations to them and as well as their existentialism.

Evelyn’s vocals are marvelous and fit this style of music perfectly. Nick’s backing vocals blend in extremely well and these two have come up with the formula for providing a ambient, earthly live show. They have since added a 2nd guitar player which only makes them better. The song below serves as a prime example

 

 

The first act was Conrad Bascom and the Eternal Returners. They provided some vibrancy to the show with a good mix of songs. I enjoyed them the most out of the other acts due to their energy and sound. There was some of the most animated “woo-hooing” I’ve ever seen in a live performance as their closing song had at least 30 seconds worth of it to close out their set. It.Rocked.

 

Next was Canyons; way too down-tempo and slow for a concert style performance. I think their style would be better suited to playing in low-key bars and restaurants.

 

The headliner was Futurebirds. A band out of Savannah, GA. Again, a nice assortment of songs and most of them had a southern sounding quality to them. The crowd really seemed to get into this group and it’s probably because of the highly talented musical craftsmanship and their sound that is non-intimidating and the abundance of hooks it provides.

 

 

By the time Field Division came on, it was fairly late and the crowd had somewhat dispersed. Those that stayed were definitely rewarded with a superb set that didn’t disappoint. They played a couple of tracks of off their most recent release, Reverie State, which can be listened to hereThey sounded just as good live and what’s most impressive to me is the quality of vocals they have for a live set. There was literally no discernible difference between how they sound live compared to in the studio. Few bands and producers can do that.

 

Live for the VM

Live from the VM

 

They also played some of their newer material which I really liked. It fits right in line with what they’ve been doing but also had a more upbeat tone to it. They’re sticking with what makes them unique but also experimenting as well. There’s no shortage of potential with this group and I’m definitely looking forward to their next show. They play at Wooly‘s this Saturday, 6/20 at 9pm. They’ll also be playing at the Des Moines Social Club on July 3rd opening for Windowspeak. I highly recommend saving either of these dates (both Fri/Sat) to check out some great music.

 

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Gigs: Twin Peaks

 

No, I didn’t catch a show at the Hooters knock-off restaurant that has become the poster-child of classiness among restaurants. Twin Peaks is a punk group out of Chicago. Short and sweet would be the best way to describe their work…oh, and also awesome. Their first album, Sunken, comes in at a mere 20 minutes in length. Amongst that short album duration, is one of the most eye-opening indie songs I’ve heard in awhile. I have my brother to thank for introducing me to this particular track. It’s called Fast Eddie and in addition to some killer guitar work that changes speeds throughout, it has a pretty bitchin’ music video to go along with it…available here, audio file below

 

 

The show was at Vaudeville Mews, a smaller venue that has been able to bring in some fairly well known acts (bands that I’ve at least heard of anyway) . It’s a good joint, acoustics are just fine and there’s plenty of good brews to choose from while you enjoy the show. As you can tell, there’s a lot of different factors that go into me evaluating the quality of a music venue. From what I can tell they played a lot work from their latest release, Wild Onion. Most of their songs are fast-paced already and I noticed that they kick up a notch further during their live shows. This was not the case, however, for their performance of “I Found a New Way”. This was the song that really kicked things off an got the crowd into it. The lead vocalist puts an insane amount of effort into his vocals and it blends well with this seemingly chill song. It’s my personal favorite off of their latest album.

 

https://soundcloud.com/twinpeaksdudes/i-found-a-new-way

 

When I said that it wasn’t until then that crowd got into the show, it was through no lack of stage antics by the band itself. They definitely know how to rock and and at one point, the lead guitarist left the stage to play amongst the fans. It seemed to be going over quite well until he tripped over his cord and almost biffed it. Nonetheless, it was a fun sideshow that the crowd appreciated.

 

Overall, they seemed like a cool group of dudes. The only knock on them was that there practically NO in-between song dialogue. I know that some people can do without that but there needs to be something to keep the band from playing a set straight through with virtually no pauses. In fairness, I haven’t seen any band talk much at that venue and that’s not something that newer bands specialize in. Besides that, they put on a great show. I hope Des Moines left a good impression on them and that they make a return trip. If they’re in a city near you, check them out. The last song I’ve posted is off of Wild Onion. It’s called “Strawberry Smoothie” and it’s a good flagship song for them. But it also features a great guitar outro. Enjoy

 

 

 

Gigs: Yuck-The Riot Room

Band members (L to R):  Max Bloom, Mariko Doi, Jonny Rogoff

Band members (L to R): Max Bloom, Mariko Doi, Jonny Rogoff

One of many bands that I think deserves more recognition in today’s music scene would be that of the group simply referred to as “Yuck“. They’re from London, they’ve been together since 2009, and their first album came out in 2011. It was a stellar debut album featuring great songs like “Get Away” and “Holing Out”. I expected big things from this band back in ’11. After their debut album and the release of a single “Chew”, they disappeared from the scene for awhile. I sort of forgot about them until they released Glow and Behold.

I’ve made a concentrated effort to get out and see more shows in recent years. Fortunately for me, I noticed Yuck was slated to appear at the Riot Room in Kansas City this past Saturday. I met with my brother who was familiar with the venue and it.was.on. The Riot Room gets a thumbs up from me. It opens up to a lounge area when you enter and the stage is just a small flight of steps away. They have a circular bar that features enough tap selections to please even the snobbiest of craft brew snobs including almost the entire lineup of Boulevard brews. It’s an intimate experience with the band as you’re practically right on top of them when you enter the stage area. It’s awesome, there’s not even a backstage. Tough for me to imagine a better way to spend a Saturday night than enjoying a show at the Riot Room.

The first to open things up was a local group called Bummer. There was a about a 4 second intro and then the band started playing. They were loud, they were to the point, and they straight-up rocked! They had a  sludge/punk-rock sound that was perfect for the venue. While they did their thing with little to no fan interaction, the crowd got into it and most of the crowd strayed away from the bar area to check them out. A three piece group that has a lot of potential based on what I saw. Follow the link and see for yourself. I highly recommend “infinite witches”. It’s what they opened with and you can see why cause it’s such a badass song.

http://bummerkc.bandcamp.com/

After them, The Dead Girls performed. They’re classified as power pop-rock. A style I was not familiar with and one that I found I disliked after watching this group. Not saying they weren’t a good band but I didn’t think they really fit in in with the other two groups.

Onto Yuck, there was no drop-off in sound quality from studio to live show. The vocals and instrumentals were fantastic. They opened with what is in my opinion their strongest effort off of their most  recent album, Glow and Behold. The song is “Middle Sea” and it’s a shoegazey, chill number that features the vocal talents of both Max and Marico.

Another great song of theirs that played about mid-way through the show is “Holing Out”. This was a a song that should have been a bigger hit than it was. It’s bliss for those who like to zone out to fuzzy guitars and general indie goodness. This version features former lead vocalist Daniel Blumberg, who I feel the band took a hit upon his absence. Their live version rocked just as hard, though. Max’s vocals and new member Ed Hayes’s guitar playing made this track sound as good as I thought it would.

Much like Bummer, the band did their thing with not a ton of between song dialogue or fan involvement. I’m fine with this. You’re there to see a band play good music and they did that and more. I can’t stand it when a group goes off on some lame story or some inter-group playful bantering that they think the crowd is into but actually couldn’t care less about.  Yuck did invite some people to dance on the stage during one of their numbers and that was a nice gesture on their part. They all seem like cool, down to earth people and I’m rooting for them to take it to the next stage with their music. I’m confident they have the talent to do so.

There was one song I was hoping they would do and I was slightly disappointed when they didn’t. I understand why it was skipped as it may be because it came right before Blumberg left and may be centered around a fallout of some sort. I don’t know for sure but that’d be my guess as even as strong of a song as it is; if it represents a non-favorable time in the band’s career, I can see why they’d like to forget about it altogether and leave it in the past. It’s my favorite Yuck song and one I hope you enjoy as well. Few lyrics but the guitar riffs in this track are some of my favorite of all time. The last chorus with the guitar solo is one of the greatest musical joys these ears have ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Until we meet again, Yuck and Riot Room…

Gigs: Sick Puppies-Wooly’s

Last week was the first show I caught at Wooly‘s (not proud of that considering I’ve lived in the DSM area for 3 years now). I was very impressed with the venue. There is enough space for a big act but it would still probably be considered a smaller venue. Nothing wrong with that as it gets you closer to the band you came to see. There’s a full service bar with plenty of great drink and beer selections. It’s a great all-around place to see a show and they constantly have many different kinds of acts come through.

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Fatal Addiction and Devour the Day were the openers, and they performed admirably. They got the crowd moving and ready for the headliner. Once it was time for Sick Puppies to hit the stage, we found a spot roughly dead center in the floor.  They came out with one of their newer tracks. I am not 100% sure but I believe it was “Die to Save You“. Good new song, slightly reminds me of “War” which is one my favorites by this group.

Sick Puppies is a group that is mainly known for their harder stuff. Over time, the band has given us a steady offering of many types of songs. Whatever the type may be, a fast-paced fist-pounder or a slower, more heart-felt track; they have always excelled at whatever they’ve done. And their ability to get a crowd going is awesome as well. “War” was a great way to do this and I’ve posted below one of their more recent hits off their new album Connect.  It has some smart, insightful lyrics but still rocks hard. They also later played the title track from the same album but I wasn’t a fan of that one. See what you think. And don’t judge Sick Puppies on this one song if you’re not familiar with them at all. Check out the other two videos posted or their other work first as “Gunfight” took me a few listens before I got into it.

 

 

I thought Sick Puppies’ setlist did about as good as you can as far as the traditional approach of mixing in new stuff along with pleasing the crowd with the popular songs. Most of Sick Puppies’s work that I like the best is from Tri-Polar. So I was elated they played all the best singles from that album including “Odd One”, “You’re Going Down”, “Maybe” and my personal favorite “Riptide”. They also included some tracks from their debut album Dressed Up As Life, which is as underrated album in my opinion (with solid tunes such as this).

“Riptide” is a song about doing your own thing and not letting others persuade you into conforming to doing what’s “normal”. While it has a short chorus, my favorite part is the outro @2:58 with the closing statement “I remember  when it used to be easy, I remember when it wasn’t so hard.” Which I assume is a statement about all the hoops we now find ourselves jumping through in society; that we make out to be a priority but seldom turn out to be essential or fulfilling.

 

 

All three band members stage presence was entertaining. The lead singer/guitarist, Shim, was very charismatic  and got the crowd involved throughout the show. You could also purchase a special pass to meet the band after the show. It was limited to 100 people or so but it was one of those fan appreciation deals that they didn’t have to do. They also introduced this blogger to his first mosh pit during the closing act “You’re Going Down”. While it was not completely voluntary by me or my friend that accompanied me, it was a worthwhile experience that everybody should probably have at some point of their lives.

 

Sick Puppies members Mark Goodwin (drummer), Emma Anzai (bass) and Shim Moore (guitarist)

 

My final hope was that they played their epic cover of Smashing Pumpkins “Cherub Rock”. I knew it was a long shot and sadly it was not featured in their show. It takes nothing away from what a fucking great cover it is, though. It’s a much harder, aggressive take on the early 90’s classic. It starts out slow and nonchalant but picks it up quickly and the best part is after the 2nd chorus (@2:06)  where they brilliantly break-off and do another one of Pumpkins’s songs “The Everlasting Gaze”. It all culminates to my favorite cover ever. If you’re a fan of this group at all then you have to see them live, no exception. I’d say this link posted below is an indicator to the high energy level put on display.

http://grooveshark.com/#!/search/song?q=Sick+Puppies+Cherub+Rock+Cover (Select the bottom version for best audio quality)

Gigs: Summerland Tour-RAGBRAI-Filter & Sponge

Waited a long time to see this group live. They delivered

Waited a long time to see this group in person. They delivered

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The Summerland Tour (link) is making its way through the States as I type this and Des Moines, IA was fortunate to be included in as a tour stop. Not only did we get quality bands like Sponge, Filter,  Live, and Everclear; the show was put on for RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) and no admission was required to see this great event. Filter was the main draw for me as they have been one of my favorite bands for a long time. Their first two albums are pure gold (Short Bus & Title of Record) and they easily fall in my top 10 albums from the entire 90’s decade. What has sadly gone unnoticed around these parts is that they are still putting out top-notch music (as made evident by their new album) and their efforts to reach out to their fans is second to none.

I ended up being very impressed by the entire event as a whole. There was no shortage of good food stands and craft brew tents for all of the spectators. It has been 16 years since RAGBRAI last stopped in Des Moines and with their ability to host an event of this capacity compared to any other city in Iowa, I hope they consider coming here more often…even though I’m not a biker whatsoever and in general have the disposition that they’re all like this guy…

Sponge was the first act and played only 5 songs. Sponge was mainly known for their debut album Rotting Pinata. The majority of the songs they played were from this album. However, frontman Vinnie Dombrowski (dead ringer for Scott Weiland in my opinion, looks and voice) has kept the group going all the way since their arrival in ’91. They’ve continued to produce music the whole way and have came out with seven total albums. They sounded great live and they capped their stage time with their biggest single “Plowed”. I was glad they played one of their lesser known, but still great tracks that was the title track of their first album and is posted below for your enjoyment. They were a great lead-off act.

Then it was time for the headliner (for me, anyway). Made my way to the front of the stage and was probably about 10-15 rows of people back. Ironically, my fixation over discovering new music and keeping up with the industry has not resulted in me catching as many live shows as I would like to. Geography plays a small part in that, but overall I’ve been slacking on seeing top bands perform live.

Filter is currently touring and promoting their 6th studio album, The Sun Comes Out Tonight. It’s a fantastic album, filled with plenty of heavy hitters and a few ballad style tracks as well. It’s vintage Filter and it’s awesome that Richard Patrick is still keeping the project going and making an effort to hit as many cities as possible. He’s never sold out and he knows that ultimately it’s his songwriting ability and the talent around him that keeps the fans coming to see their shows.

Their lead-off track came as a surprise to me…they started things off with “Trip Like I Do“, which was a collaborative effort with The Crystal Method. It’s a killer song and got the crowd into it right off the bat. The energy level was high and it continued into the next three songs that were off their new album. The highlight of those for me is their track, “What Do You Say”.  A medium paced heavier song that has lots of Patrick’s signature screaming and an awesome post chorus with the Oh-Oh’s. It’s simply not possible to rock any harder than this…

After that, they had to do their obligatory pleasing of the masses and play some of their biggest hits. Rich was very genuine and funny just before this part (got a kick out of “are you excited to see the Filters?” line).   I was fine with them doing “Hey Man, Nice Shot”, but I wished they would have taken a pass on “Take a Picture”.   It’s a great song, no doubt, but I thought it took some of the energy away from the crowd. Ideally, they would have played “The Best Things” or “The Only Way is The Wrong Way” if they were looking to take a break from their heavier stuff.

After their set, Rich announced that he was signing autographs at the merch tent. I could not have been more impressed by what a class act he was, signing multiple items for each fan and snapping photos for anyone that asked. Very personable and courteous to everyone that waited in line to talk with him. Clearly, he is doing what he loves and takes the time to thank all the fans who help make it possible. Next time Filter is performing around the Des Moines area, I highly recommend that you check them out. If you’re already a fan and want to see them in your city, you can help to make that possible by contributing to their world tour here. You are rewarded for your efforts as their are many perks to contributing such as signed posters, albums, apparel, or perks all the way up to meeting with band members, choosing the setlist, and even playing with the band. Trust me, they put out a quality product and are doing all the rights things to get as many fans involved as possible. Kudos to this superb group, they are the epitome of what a great rock band should be.

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