Chairlift, Doug Fir, 04/08/12
is my favorite record of the moment and the band was nothing less than crushworthy live. Even Nell was smitten by the end of the show.
Bear In Heaven, Mississippi Studios, 04/12/12
A bit flat compared to their last tour. Maybe their newest album needs a little more time to percolate. Or maybe nothing was quite as unexpected as their cover of Lindstrøm & Christabelle's "Lovesick." Or maybe it was simply the lack of mustache
Elvis Costello, Arlene Schnitzer, 04/13/12
We were out of our element. Our graying Gen X row mates were swapping stories about seeing Costello before I was born. The Spectacular Spinning Wheel
was even more intimidating: I have a passing familiarity with Costello's albums but his repertoire is just massive. Elvis, donning a carnivalesque top hat and walking stick, was just as charming as you might imagine: spinning yarns before ripping through Chuck Berry covers and dutifully playing just about every hit you would expect (including eleventh hour additions of "Oliver's Army" and "What's So Funny"). Yet what struck me most were the quieter moments. Like a small set backed solely by piano. Or how a fairly raucous crowd went absolutely silent when Costello stepped away from the microphone to do an encore acoustic performance of "Slow Drag with Josephine." Now that's showmanship.
School of Seven Bells, Doug Fir, 04/22/12
Surprisingly not well attended. Last time I caught the band at Bumbershoot
, School of Seven Bells played to a packed house and seemed on the verge of breaking into the big time. Perhaps the culprit is a somewhat lackluster review of their latest album from a notable online music publication, which is a shame as SVIIB has became a formidable live presence. The band's newest incarnation finds them no longer hiding behind their keyboards and splendid visuals
but instead embracing a more traditional rock staging to powerful effect (although, I do miss the drum machines). In particular, "Low Times" - like Junior Boys's "Under The Sun" - absolutely killed live and should anchor set lists for tours to come.
Coldplay, Rose Garden, 04/24/12
Chris Martin reminds me of Tom Cruise in that they both have a relentless desire to please. The concert was a full frontal charm offensive: Heart-shaped confetti canons. Beach balls dropping from the rafters. Blinking wristbands
so the crowd could feel just as much a part of the spectacle. Martin himself was drenched with sweat after only a few songs from his guileless pandering to the audience. He went so far as to thank all of us for braving the mundane hassles that mar the arena show experience (traffic, babysitters). Even Coldplay's new material is just as radiantly dayglo neon as their stage set. This was a setlist designed to woo daughters and grandmothers alike. But like Cruise in Collateral, Coldplay are better when they play against type ("Daylight" & "Talk"). Yet their only foray into "darker" material was a bizarrely stilted version of "God Put A Smile Upon Your Face." Not surprisingly, the ill-conceived X&Y
was all but abandoned with the exception of "Fix You" which - surprisingly - got the loudest applause of the evening. Still, I got a healthy dose of A Rush Of Blood To The Head
so I can't complain. Plus my parents paid for this one. Natch!
M83, Roseland, 04/25/12
The Roseland is the first all-ages venue that I have seen M83 play in so I was surprised by how much Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
has been embraced by this younger generation (again, the likely culprit is a certain music publication anointing "Midnight City" the best single of last year). At first, I was a bit curmudgeonly with these whippersnappers. They didn't have to suffer through a decade long prohibition of the synthesizer. They didn't sacrifice to buy import M83 CDs at a premium. They didn't have to fly across the country to see one of M83's first US performances. Instead, they picked up "Reunion" for 99 cents off iTunes just before M83's fifth (!) concert in Portland in the past four years. Hell, even their moms aren't old enough to remember grunge. But M83 is the music of eternal youth so when the show started all was forgiven/forgotten and I was even able to teach those youngins a thing or two about dancing your way to the front of the crowd.
DJ Shadow, Wonder Ballroom, 04/26/12
The concert was a bit of a game time decision for me. As long time lurkers of the blog (all none of you) might remember, DJ Shadow has been on my bucket list
since Live! In Tune and on Time
captured him at the peak of his game. Private Press
is one of my favorite records - the kind of album that can forgive a lot of missteps - but his latest diminishing returns output had me worried that his show would be the equivalent of seeing Creedence Clearwater Revisited at the country fair hoping they only play the hits. DJ Shadow did reward my loyalty with a few older cuts but the setlist in general tended to shun his introspective material in favor of pummeling beats to pander to the unholy hippie-dupstep alliance. The Shadowsphere
was impressive but electronic artists seem to be using increasingly complex visual displays to compensate for the lack of performative elements at their live shows (or maybe just to justify higher ticket prices). Squarepusher and Amon Tobin await in the wings.
Jacaszek, Holocene, 04/29/12
Jacaszek simply played his latest album, Elegia
, track by track -- which, in and of itself, was not necessarily a bad thing. After all, that record is gorgeous. Still, it does take away one of the simple pleasures of the concert experience: the anticipation of what will wind up on the setlist. Regardless, I feel fortunate to live in a city that can attract a niche electronic-tinged Modern Classical artist from Poland.