the love language
What’s Left: 227 Days. 62 Bands.
Band #38: The Love Language
When/Where: January 15, 2011, Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
Expectations: I’ve seen The Love Language live a couple of times now. They’ve recently been touring around the country, so I’m excited to see what tips and tricks they’ve picked up along the way.
Concert: The Love Language, a local band for North Carolinians, sold out Cat’s Cradle days in advance. Part of it was the fact that their opener was a “Special Guest,” kept secret until their arrival on stage, and part of it was that they are one of the most dominant bands in the Triangle area. Their sound can be described by some as indie-rock, and others as indie-pop, but the bottom line is, they are creating songs that are memorable, fun to sing along to, and are adored by not only the local crowd but by a large following around the world. It came as no surprise that they sold out this show.
The Love Language didn’t start until after 11 PM, when they took the stage that was decorated with Christmas lights formed into a huge heart set up behind the drummer. All of the other players took even spaces on the front of the stage. All members of the band had looks of pleasure on their faces the whole time. The standouts were frontman Stuart McLamb walking around stage encouraging and fraternizing with his bandmates, the drummer pounding away with a smile for the entire set, and Missy Thangs jamming on two keyboards and a tambourine while showing off some stellar dance moves. They had wonderful interaction without each other, making it appear that they love their lives, just as they should.
While on stage, The Love Language debuted a new song of theirs for this audience. They didn’t tell us the name, choosing to call it “New Song,” but it was great. It seemed rock-inspired more-so than pop. After finishing that song and admitting that they didn’t know what to follow it up with, they played a cover by The Sonics, which really showed their ability to rock. Throughout the whole set, the venue seemed to be shaking. I guess that’s what happens when you sell out a place that can hold over 600 people and everybody in there was a hardcore fan singing their hearts out alongside Stuart McLamb.
My expectations were met; I was hoping that The Love Language might have improved since the last time I saw them. Sure enough, the band that I credit for incredible vocals proved their savvy with instrumentals and rocking out last night. What’s more, their stamina was incredible. They played 13 songs up front, and then of course came out for an encore, during which they played three more. After that, nobody budged. The crowd started chanting “ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG!” And to nobody’s surprise, they returned and played two more songs.
Concert Afterglow: As I said, I’ve seen The Love Language a few times now, but with each performance they seem to improve by leaps and bounds. Their energy was extremely contagious. What a fun night!
Hopscotch Music Festival 2010 Wrap Up
Do you ever get the feeling that some things were just made to be? Perhaps you have found your perfect match. Or maybe your extreme love for an instrument, a sport, a subject — was it planned for reasons greater than your momentary happiness? I know it’s not typically okay to put your beliefs in greater beings in a public space, but I am going to break all political rules and tell it how it is: today, I believe in a God. He is the Creator of Hopscotch Music Festival. (So I guess what I’m saying here is that the Furry-Faced-Man, not to be confused with a werewolf, aka Grayson Currin, and the nominal doppleganger of The Tallest Man On Earth, aka Greg Lowenhagen, are the source of all good in my life.) Today, here, right now, I’m okay with that.
Continue Reading for a Full Review Complete with MP3s and Pictures
Hopscotch officially began on Thursday, September 9th. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any events that day. Instead, Christmas morning for me came on Friday September 10th. It started with a performance by Megafaun, a member of Hometapes Records, at The Pour House. The last time I heard this triumvirate perform live, I didn’t walk away with any sense of being wowed. The music was good, the energy was fine, but it was nothing more than what I’ve seen before. Well, between then and now, an electric current has run through Megafaun. I was sitting right up close to the stage for their show, AND in an elevated position, but all I wanted was to be closer. They got me more excited for a live show than I’ve been in a long time.
The three best words I can think of to describe their performance are energy, excitement, and enthusiasm. Really, these three things were seeping out of their pores and right into my own, and seemingly, everybody else’s in the room. By inviting everybody in the crowd to participate throughout the show, they rounded up a great interactive event, and though this is their hometown crowd, I cannot imagine any other crowd could possibly be less excited about the sound of their music.
Audio: “Kaufman’s Ballad” – Megafaun
The next show at The Pour House was Breathe Owl Breathe, another of the Hometapes bands. I was not yet familiar with this Michigan band’s music, but I was delightfully surprised with the trinket of deliciousness that landed right in my ears. Beyond being musically pleasant, this group of three was entertaining. Well, let me put it this way – the lead singer was the entertainer. Donned in short shorts and sporting a spectacular moustache and beard that matched his full head of hair, Micah had a way with words that got the whole crowd laughing when he whipped out his total deadpan humor. “One thing about werewolves…is that they just wanna kick it. They just wanna have a good time. But every time they get excited, they grow a patch of hair. This is the inner-conflict / outer-conflict.” Queue: a song about werewolves by Breathe Owl Breathe. Brilliant.
Audio: “Swimming” – Breathe Owl Breathe
The way the festival was arranged, there were multiple shows in various locations, but the headliners all performed earlier in the evening in the City Plaza. The first show I saw there was by The Rosebuds. Once again I was unsure of what to expect, but was blown away. Their songs were simultaneously gentle and worthy of some head-nodding. On an absolutely beautiful evening with a light breeze and the sun peeking through the downtown buildings into the plaza, it was hard not to be pleased, but The Rosebuds certainly enhanced my experience.
Next up in the Plaza: Panda Bear. One of the founding members of Animal Collective, this performance garnered very high excitement and expectations. What I saw was a solo act singing, playing a guitar, and manning the beats all at the same time, and some trippy visuals projected onto a screen behind him. To me, his sounds were a bit repetitive, and I was left hoping for more of a show from Panda Bear. His energy on stage just wasn’t fully there for me, which made the performance rather disappointing. He showed brief bursts of excitement, but my use of the word brief happened to be his downfall.
I then wandered over to Deep South: The Bar to catch a live show by Luego. The setting was just delightful; a stage decorated with Christmas lights and a discoball immediately won me over. But then Luego began, and the seven-piece band created a full sound topped with a voice unlike any other and lyrics that can rock your soul. It was intimate, it was coherent, it was orchestral. But perhaps the climax was when the last song was coming to a close and lead singer Patrick Phelan walked off the stage and began giving members of the audience hugs, thanking them for their appreciation of his music.
Audio: “Ain’t It Sad” – Luego
I had it in me to make it to one more show Friday night. The gift-bearers: Bowerbirds. Live at The Pour House, I was graced with a unified beautiful noise coming from several instruments, included in which were a violin and an accordion that seemed to add the icing to the cake. The music was calm and gentle, and to the pleasure of the viewers, some of the band members themselves might have been just as beautiful as the music they were making.
I was a little late arriving to Saturday’s opening show in the City Plaza, being performed by The Love Language. This was a bit of a bummer, as they are one of my favorite bands, but I was able to catch their last two songs, which just happened to be my two personal favorites, “Lalita” and “Blue Angel.” As always, they put on an epic show that got me swinging my arms, skipping around, and singing along at the top of my lungs.
Audio: “Lalita” – The Love Language
After seeing a marching band stomp into the plaza as an opener for Public Enemy, I went against my ways and skipped the hip hop act to catch the opposite: a soothing show based off of classical composition performed by Balmorhea. And I could not be more pleased that I did: this was the zenith of my entire weekend experience. I honestly think that if the thing actually exists, I experienced an eargasm. I was practically in tears because of how moving the performance was, and just when I thought I was crazy to feel that way, I heard that even a 300-pound man was in tears. To add to that, the already extremely intimiate experience only got more so when I noticed that the lead singer had old-fashioned pictures of what seemed to be family members of every person in the band stitched onto his guitar strap. The whole experience really made for the most moving live show I’ve ever been to. It felt as though the music was entering through my ears, making its mark on every atom in my body, and parking itself in my heart. I’ll take that experience with me everywhere I go from here forward.
Audio: “Settler” – Balmorhea
I was able to wipe my tears after Balmorhea left the stage and trot over to Tir Na Nog to catch burgeoning pop-rock-funk-group, Tigercity. Luckily I got there a little before they started so I landed myself a front-row spot right by the bass guitar monitor. This made for a very bass-heavy show, and I was not upset in the least about that. The bassist appeared to have the most energy, as he was consistently jamming to the fun, experimental music budding from their fingertips. They played “Powerstripe,” my favorite song of theirs, and just like that, in the pluck of a guitar string, I felt as though my sole purpose in life was to be as free as a butterfly, dancing as I wish and singing courageously at the top of my lungs.
Audio: “Powerstripe” – Tigercity
I left the Tigercity show a little early to scurry back to Lincoln Theater to catch my last glimpse of Hopscotch 2010: Bear in Heaven. WOW. I had heard a few Bear in Heaven songs before, but the experience on headphones is nothing compared to what it is live. I’ve always been one to say that I never pay much attention to the drums in music, but my lord. The drummer from Bear In Heaven, Joe Stickney, was the most talented drummer I’ve laid eyes on. That man can POUND on the drums, and his hands looked like they were moving in fast forward! If this band is coming to your area, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. You will not regret it.
Audio: “You Do You” – Bear in Heaven
And then Hopscotch came to a close. Good God. Or shall I say Good Grayson and Greg. That was just about the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time. The amount of talent packed into the City of Raleigh for one weekend was unbelievable. I’ll be anxiously counting down until next year’s festival, but until then, be on the lookout for a Best of Hopscotch 2010 Mixtape hosted by Sunset in the Rearview.