What’s Left: 35 Days. 32 Bands.
Band #68: Dispatch
Expectations: Going into it, I was unsure exactly what to expect. I’d seen State Radio (lead singer Chad Urmston’s other band) live a few times, and they were always great. I had heard good things about Dispatch’s live show (quasi-legendary things, actually) so my expectations were rather inflated. Chad’s voice was really awesome each time I saw State Radio live, and I was excited to hear him singing with the rest of the guys in Dispatch. The show was outside at Chicago’s Millenium Park (AWESOME VENUE) so that added another element to the show. Perfect summer mood, perfect summer night.
Pre-Show: Just included this to inform you how I was feeling going into the show–the weather was perfect, it was a straight up majestic day in Chicago, and we were pre-gaming the concert on my buddy’s 40 foot, wooden, OG sailboat. So I mean, the concert kind of had to be amazing for everything to live up to my expectations/the glorious afternoon leading into the show.
Concert: I used the term majestic in my last paragraph. Majestic would be an understatement. Not only was Dispatch completely in tune and on point with each other as a band, but you could really feel an awesome connection between the audience and the crowd. A feeling like that really elevates any concert experience, and there was something truly tangible in the air that night between the crowd and the band. They played all of their classics and left nobody (at least none of my friends, who are all very big Dispatch fans) wishing they had played a different set. They did some awesome covers, and it was easy to tell how much fun the band was having onstage. They had a pretty big band, and some of the percussion instruments especially were pretty cool. Rain sticks, big African drums, etc…all of the guys were adding their own unique sound to every jam.
Concert Afterglow: One of my favorite summer nights to date. This is exactly what makes Chicago my favorite city in the summer. It is absolutely beautiful–just ask ‘Ye how he feels about summertime Chi. If Dispatch ever plays in your area code, or even somewhere remotely close to you, it is a necessity in my mind that you see them. Don’t pass the opportunity up.
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What’s Left: 88 Days. 42 Bands.
Band #58: The Powder Kegs
When/Where: June 7, 2011, Plough & Stars, Cambridge, MA
Expectations: I saw The Powder Kegs a few months ago and have been a fan of their music and especially their latest LP that came out in March. It’s always fun to catch them when they’re in town.
Concert: Even though the “stage” at Plough and Stars is just a corner, they filled that corner with more than enough energy for the entire bar, putting on a show that strays from their recorded songs just enough so that they remain recognizable, but also so that the listener knows they are more than capable of adding nooks and crannies and flourishing during a live show. The bassist, Ryan Dieringer, and guitarist, Daniel Maroti switch off on lead vocals, both being able frontmen, further diversifying their sound. One of the Powder Kegs’ strengths is seamlessly going from a tumultuous loud stretch right into a simple and subdued strumming, it pulls the audience right in, especially on their song “Falling Together, Coming Apart”.
They played an older song, “La Mariposa”, an elegant pop song filled with warmth and a wonderful contrast at the end where they let the careful structure fall away to a clamoring outburst of sound. Hearing it, I felt a rush of excitement because it was the first song of theirs I ever heard (and played on repeat many times), and also as they segued to newer songs their growth towards a distinct and developed sound was blatantly clear. The Dylan and Beatles influences are sometimes just beneath the surface, but they do it remarkably well, something you can see for yourself when you listen to the song they closed with, “The Amanicans”.
Concert Afterglow: Plough & Stars is easily the tiniest venue to be a part of the 100 bands project, but The Powder Kegs adapted well to the small space even though they often play to sold out shows in New York where there core fan base resides. It always kills me a little when a band this good is playing in a tiny corner of a bar, but at the same time it’s special because you know you might not be able to see them in such an intimate space again. It was a wonderful treat on a warm summer night to see them, and I was smiling all the way from their first song until I fell asleep.
Recommendation: I think this band should get more recognition, and I’d love to see that happen. You’re bound to enjoy their live show if excellent indie rock is what you like.
What’s Left: 269 Days. 68 Bands.
Band #32: Sun Airway
When/Where: November 18th, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA
Expectations: I’m never sure how electronic heavily layered soundscapes will translate live, but I’m excited to see how they do it.
Concert: The concert started by kicking me in the chest with gloriously heavy bass. It was one of those walls of sound that feels like your own heart is trying to imitate the beats. I love feeling like the music is coursing through each individual cell in my body and it was exactly what I needed to feel that night. When I thought they were going to have a hard time topping that first song, they jumped right into my favorite song of theirs “Oh, Naoko” and that amazing feeling continued all the way through their set.
The lush and dreamy electronic soundscapes were amplified with the help of guitar, bass, and drum players. I like the mixing of electronics with real instruments and it came together almost without a flaw. The only downside was that vocals weren’t as polished as I expected and they came through a little thin at times. But otherwise these guys know how to put on a show. They embellished in all the right places, and while listening to their EP you could totally zone out and relax to it, they made it feel dancier and more upbeat live. They provided a really good energy that the crowd soaked up. When they closed with “Put the Days Away” it totally erupted at the end in this electronic musical ejaculation. There really is no other way to describe it.
Concert Afterglow: Easily one of the biggest surprises so far. I didn’t expect them to be so fluid, dancey, and exciting live.
Recommendation: While they toured, they were easily forgotten by concert reviewers because of who came next (Twin Shadow and Bear in Heaven), but these guys really deserve some attention. If you like Animal Collective, try and catch one of their shows.
Did you know that Sunset in the Rearview writers are trying to see and review 100 live shows in 365 days? Read More about 100Bands and See Our Other Reviews.
What’s Left: 336 Days. 87 Bands.
Band #13: Titus Andronicus
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Vitale
When/Where: September 21, Duke Coffeehouse, Durham, NC
Expectations: I’m not as familiar with their music as I should be, but I imagine that the energy of this concert will be out the roof.
Concert: After Free Energy opened the night with a bang, Titus Andronicus lost none of the steam. The band of five took the stage and immediately the crowd’s ears perked up. They sure do seem to have a cult following. Singer Patrick Stickles was still able to woo the crowd with his voice, despite having a cough that could potentially be described as whooping. The highlight of the night for me was likely the fact that I was positioned directly in front of TOTAL rockstar, guitar and violin player Amy Klein. My God this girl can ROCK! Sure, the entire band had boundless amounts of energy, but Amy somehow topped that for the entire show. Consistently rocking back and forth, banging her head a bit, and even at times doing one of those rockstar jumps into the air while jamming on her guitar, Amy absolutely blew me away. And to be the only girl in the band alongside four males, well heck, that makes her even cooler.
Concert Afterglow: The energy was incredible. Amy Klein is the shit. Patrick Stickles is a God to the hipster crowd. Rawk on.
Recommendation: If you don’t mind hipsters, go get your jam on with Titus Andronicus. Chances are, they’ll blow your mind. And keep your eye on that Amy girl, she’s crazy.
Song: “Four Score Part One” – Titus Andronicus | Download
What’s left: 345 Days. 92 Bands.
Band #8: Jukebox the Ghost
When/Where: September 15th, Great Scott, Allston, MA
Expectations: I hear they are at their best live, and they just played on Letterman, so they must be doing something right. But they are so pop-music oriented, I don’t know if I can get into it.
Concert: While traditional reviews are supposed to focus on the band, how well they play, and their song selection, I find that watching the fans—their interaction and knowledge of the band—means quite a lot. Because I see and listen to so much music, it is logistically impossible for me to be a fan of each band I see live. So I rely on watching the fans to fill in the bits I lack. I look for that certain level of loyalty and amazement that you can sense and literally see in the eyes of the fans in the first few rows. Look for that the next time you are at a concert, it will tell you so much about a band and their relation to the fans.
Continue Reading for the Remainder of the Review and a Free MP3
So with that being said, this was the best audience I have seen at a Boston concert in a very long time. Before this concert, I never knew that the floor at the Great Scott could feel like I was standing on a trampoline, bouncing up and down with the crowd. As the fans jumped and danced around me, I realized this was the type of band that people fall in love with, the type of band where the fans know every single song and every single lyric. Watching the fans was infectious and soon enough I was dancing around, singing the songs I knew too.
Jukebox the Ghost is a talented band of three, each with their own set of exaggerated facial expressions, that keep you watching throughout the show. They opened with “Hold It In” off their debut album and transitioned to “Schizophrenia” off their brand new album. Of course the audience already knew every word. Ben Thornewill, the co-vocalist and pianist entertained the crowd with stories of being surprised by the phone call telling them they would perform on Letterman, and about their attempt to write a modern Motown kind of song (“The Popular Thing”). He also has a wonderful and expressive voice ranging quite a few octaves beyond some of the popular indie bands that are around today, which was a nice change of pace as he hit the high notes in his distinctive falsetto.
I was swept up in the music, not minding how poppy it was, just enjoying the energy and dancing along. Then the most fantastic thing happened. They invited the opening bands back up on stage to play a cover song they have been working on. To my absolute delight, it was one of my favorite songs by The Cure, “Close To Me”. Ben Thornewill claimed they hadn’t played it without making a mistake yet, and even when there were a few small ones, I don’t think anyone cared, it was just too much fun. They did a great job with the cover, keeping it upbeat and with all the extra musicians on stage it had a lot going on, which I mean to be a good thing. I almost left after that to catch the last train home, but decided to stay. A few encore songs later and they were playing their Donna Lewis cover of “I Love You Always Forever” which was completely worthy of missing the last train home.
Concert Afterglow: I didn’t mind walking the three miles home on a concert buzz, and found myself bouncing through the dark city streets still singing along.
Recommendation: This is one of the rare bands I would recommend seeing even if you don’t know them that well. It was a really fun concert that left me feeling rather content. It’s a good one for a date too.
Pictured is Ben Thornewill the Pianist/Vocalist
We’ve got a new feature and a new contributor to introduce tonight on Sunset. To begin with, the contributor’s name is Jessica – she’s coming to us from New Music Collaborative, where she consistently keeps the world up to date on indie, folk, pop, and rock music. She has a major soft spot for the banjo, but also melts when she hears accordions, mandolins, fiddles, saws, rockin’ pianos, the moog, trumpets, hand claps, and whistling in songs.
What’s most important is that she loves music. So much so, that she’s challenged herself to do the following, and has extended a gracious offer to me to participate in the fun. Yall ready for this?
That’s right. We’re concert junkies, gig whores, live music addicts, whatever you want to call it. The bottom line is, we go to a lot of concerts. We wanted a way to keep track of them all, and we wanted a challenge. On September 1st, 2010, we decided that we wanted to see 100 live bands within a year. As part of this challenge, we have taken an oath to be open to all types of music and all venues. We accept the fact that 1/4th of the year ahead will include dealing with ringing ears, too many PBRs, staying up way too late on weeknights, hanging out with people who wear too much flannel and grow ironic beards, and other concert shenanigans. We are excited for this adventure; come along for the ride and read reviews on 100 different bands and their live performances. There are only three simple rules:
1. No repeat bands
2. Picture evidence must be provided
3. Brutal honesty is required
From here on out, there will be a link to a page on the menu bar, just below the Sunset in the Rearview image, called Live Reviews. In addition to featuring each review on the homepage, you can keep track of our journey on that page.
Here goes nothing – wish us luck!
-Jessica and Lydia