Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Presets @ El Rey

Walter Meego

opened for The Presets. It was a three-man band. The lead singer was wearing a grandpa cardigan and another member was wearing a Chicago Bears sweatershirt. It was kind of odd to see guys dressed like this playing electronica. W thought the singer looked like Cillian Murphy. I think not, more like the lead singer from Phantom Planet, but he was still pretty nonetheless. The singing was hard to hear. His voice wasn't exactly strong, but it wasn't bad. I liked that the guy doing the mixing was really into the music. He was dancing and bobbing his head and singing along. And it was interesting to see guitars being used even though they were kind of faint. The beats were just WAY too loud. Seemed like all I could hear was THUMP THUMP THUMP DA DA THUMP THUMP THUMP. Some of the songs were good though, the ones that had catchy guitar riffs. They didn't really do any talking in between sets and when they were done talking, they kind of just thanked everyone, mentioned their name, and left the stage. They weren't that memorable.

It was a sold out show. I was kind of surprised at how empty it was when we got there. There were less than 20 people standing at the front of the stage before Walter Meego came on. We had time to get 2 drinks and sit at the steps and chat. There were still barely any people standing near the stage and we arrived a bit late. However, after the first act, the floor started to fill up a bit more. When The Presets came on, it was crazy. I could barely see where the floor ended, there were so many people crammed into there. As soon as the first song started, I could tell someone was lighting up in the back. I was a bit surprised because it was an all ages show.

The Presets
I hadn't seen The Presets since they opened for The Rapture. The crowd didn't really know who they were, but they were still good and you could tell people were liking them by the awkward indie head bobbing they were doing. You know, where they're kind of afraid to dance, but the music is so good, they can't stop, so all they can do is stand in one place, cross their arms, and bounce a bit. Anyways, I was blown away when I first saw them. I went to buy their CD as soon as the show was over. The album was SO good. This time around, they definitely expanded their fanbase. They were headlining AND the show was sold out. Also, it made it a lot more fun this time because everyone knew the lyrics, and the handclapping was infectious.

I must say, at first I didn't like their new album as much because it sounded more like typical techno. I preferred the more indie rock/pop/techno of the first album. But the more I listened to the new album, the more I started to like it. Even though it's more techno, there are a lot of good songs on there that are really catchy. I still prefer the older album because it sounds atypical of techno, but the new album is still really enjoyable for that genre.

I loved how into the music everyone was. They were all dancing, fistpumping, ravedancing, any dancing, it was fantastic. I haven't danced so much since I saw The Rapture when I fought my way to the front. We were also at the front this time around and broke out the glow sticks (2 sticks for $1 at Target, baby! As soon as I saw them, I knew I had to have them for the show!).

We were the only ones with glow sticks, but we also saw someone with a blinking red bracelet and some people wearing glowing bracelets. So, I'd say this is probably the closest I'll ever get to being at a rave. It was incredible. And I know the music will NEVER be this good at a real rave.

They started off with "Talk Like That", which was perfect because it has the dramatic organ playing in the intro. One of my favorite songs from their new album, "Apocalypso". They played all my favorite songs from both albums. You could hear EVERYONE singing along to the songs from the first album. My favs:

- Are You the One?
- Down Down Down
- Girl and the Sea - which I normally find kind of slow going, but it was way better live than on CD and they managed to make it much more danceable live.
- Girl (You Chew My Mind Up)
- I Go Hard, I Go Home
- Steamworks

- Eucalyptus
- Kicking and Screaming
- My People
- A New Sky
- This Boy's in Love
- Together
- Yippiyo Ay - sounds really 80s, but super catchy.

It was so great to hear all my favorite songs and they ended with "My People" before the encore, which was PERFECT. I had been waiting to hear that ALL night (I'm sure everyone was waiting to hear that), so all the anticipation made that song even better. It was soooooo good. Everyone was jumping around, hands in the air. The Presets rocked it so hard and then when the song was over and they left the stage, you could practically hear this collective sigh from exhaustion. No one left, of course, and then they came back out for one last song and it was AMAZING. It had these ups and downs and then this great climax near the end, in which we threw our glow sticks onto the stage. Impeccable timing and then it was over. I love when bands end the show with this amazing last song that leaves you wanting more and thinking "DAMN, that was one of the best shows I've been to in a LONG time." and it's true!

High Note: Hearing "My People" live, waving glow sticks, and seeing people actually DANCE at a show. Also, people were surprisingly polite. One guy moved in front of me and then turned around to ask if he was blocking me. Another guy let W stand in front of him and accidentally stepped on my foot while he was dancing and actually apologized.

Low Note: This girl next to us was dry humping her man, making out with him, and falling all over the place. She was totally gone. Luckily, she didn't fall on me because I would've been pissed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bombaster @ Cranes Tavern

I didn't even know there was a bar so close to Henry Fonda! It's pretty small and doesn't stand out that much, but it's a cool little place. Very small performing area (the corner of a room), two booths inside, a DJ area, bar and more booths outside. I liked that it was so small, that you could hear the music flooding outside too. I also liked the tiki decor.

The sound needed some adjusting because sometimes the keyboard was low and the rest of the instruments were louder than the vocals. Bombaster was still good. They played a new song, which had a bumpy start. Carlyn forgot how the song started on the keyboards, but it was amusing and added to the witty banter. Their last two songs (one of them being "Love is for Lovers") were really catchy as usual and got some people dancing. One couple was dancing so hard, I was afraid they were going to run into me!

Elbow @ The Avalon

We got there a bit late. Let's just say it was due to an oyster pancake and a car battery. We missed the opening act, but we did make it with plenty of time to spare before Elbow got on stage. I haven't been to The Avalon in YEARS, not since it used to be called The Palace. I don't know if it was just because of my memory, but it seemed like the venue looked much nicer than it did before.

I hadn't really heard of Elbow until W bought tickets and asked me to go. They're in her top three favorite bands in the past five years, she says. I hadn't really heard their music much besides the mix that she made me. I thought their music sounded kind of like late 80s/early 90s contemporary rock. I knew the crowd would be a little older than us, but I wasn't expecting the band to be so old. They were all in their late 30s+. I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised though, W said they've been around for 10 years. That's not the oldest band I've seen live. One time I saw two members of The Monkees and another time I saw Echo and the Bunnymen, which was pretty wild. The lead singer's still a rock star after all these years. Anyways, it was kind of nice that the crowd's age ranged from late 20s to early 30s, people closer to our age. There wasn't any crazy moshing or shoving. Although, there was a guy there with a super long lens who kept getting into everyone's faces to take closeup portraits. It seemed pretty rude since I didn't see him asking for permission. Talk about invasion of privacy. And there was one guy who climbed up onto the stage. It was surreal. The song was really mellow and the guy was up there singing with him in slow motion, did two thumbs up, and slowly walked off the stage. It was a HUGE difference compared to The Cribs show where they would violently throw people back into the audience or yank them off the stage within a minute.

Most of the songs were really mellow, which is their style. Seeing "Grounds for Divorce" live was fantastic. It's my favorite Elbow song. It was a lot of fun to sing along to that. And he sounded great. They were just as good live as they were on CD. I enjoyed the singalong for one of their songs. He told us these two lines and I couldn't understand what he was saying AT ALL for the second line because of his heavy English accent, but everyone got it once he started singing. I loved all the talking he did in between the songs. He was very energetic, even when he was singing really slow songs. Sorry, I can't really remember the names of the songs, since I just listened to them really recently. The few catchy songs Elbow DID play were pretty rocking. I was surprised though, that they didn't play Powder Blue. I was also surprised that when they came out for the encore, they played 2 veeeerrrrrryyyy slow songs. One of them sounded kind of gospelish (S said it sounded like a church song) and the other was even slower. I thought the encore songs are supposed to get you really pumped and amped and thinking "Man, that was SUCH an awesome show! The encore songs were GREAT!" These kind of had an opposite effect. Maybe older people prefer to just wind down at the end of a show?

I was very impressed by the sound engineering. The vocals were really crisp. The instruments were all perfectly even so as not to overpower the singing or any of the other instruments. I hate when the sound is so bad that it doesn't matter how good the band is, the music is completely ruined. Luckily, that didn't happen at The Avalon. Everything sounded great.

High Note: A friend said "I never pictured you as the type to go to The Avalon." I'm so glad that I have a reputation of NOT clubbing. :D

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Good Luck Bar

Stereotypical decor, but good selection of music on the jukebox.

My choices:
The Rapture
The Damned
The Cure

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fuck Buttons and Caribou @ Emo's in Austin, TX

Emo's is MUCH bigger inside than it actually looks outside. It's on a corner and looks pretty boarded up and rundown, but when you get inside, there's a pretty roomy bar area. Then you step outside and it's the biggest outdoor area I've ever seen at a bar. There's a picnic area (I say that because there actually are picnic tables out there), where people hang out and smoke, then stairs lead you to the outdoor stage. There was lots of seating on bleachers and benches. We sat in this sort of porch area because I didn't really know the band that well, so I didn't really care to go stand that close. Also, the bands were kind of electronica (or so I thought before I saw them perform), so I figured they wouldn't really be doing much anyways.

Fuck Buttons
Which I must admit is a pretty awesome name for a band. They came on stage and brought with them all this distortion and noise that seemed to go on forever, but eventually progressed into these really catchy beats that blended taiko drumming styles with other unique sounds that I never thought could ever be appealing, layered with heavily distorted vocals that took me on a nonstop hour-long journey of rough, mesmerizing instrumental sensations. Ha, I think that about sums up how I felt when I was listening to them. I really liked how they were really into their music and bobbing their heads. Made it seem kind of shoegaze because they never looked at the audience, but they were also really experimental. Turns out their music is also considered 'shoegaze/indie drone'.
One description of them from "Tribal beats and subtle beautiful melodies weave amongst contorting Technicolor drone-scapes while preaching distorted-vocals scream for dear hope herself..."

I had heard some of their stuff on myspace and I thought they were electronica with mellow beats. Live, however, they had more distortion. I don't know if it was because they were playing with Fuck Buttons and trying to go along with that music or what because their CD sounded MUCH cleaner than they did live. They were more interesting in stage though. The drums were in the front, which I've never seen before. The guitarists were in the back. The lead singer played guitar AND the occasional recorder, which again, I've NEVER seen on stage before. I mean, really, who would think of using the recorder in their music. That alone convinced Z to buy their album. Caribou seemed to have actual breaks in between songs, but their music seemed dragged out. I kind of lost interest after awhile. They just didn't seem as creative as Fuck Buttons. I couldn't really hear what he was singing about because the mics were kind of noisy. And after awhile, the music seemed to all sound the same. The drummer was amazing. I can see why he was in the front and the recorder stood out in the songs, but the rest of it, not so much.

Low Note: because it was an outdoor stage, everyone was smoking. :X
High Note: cheap beers ($3!!!), areas to sit down (you don't have to stand up the entire time like at The Roxy), the scene was really different from the LA scene (which usually seems more pretentious. LA kids tend to take Indie fads to the max. Everyone tries to look different, but end up looking the same with their white afros, blazers, beards, striped everything, thrift shop anything. In Austin, people looked more relaxed. It was cool to just see people in jeans and T-shirts, not worrying about whether their emo haircuts are flipped out enough).