Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Night at the High Zero Festival

I went to a concert last night that was part of the High Zero Festival. It's basically a gathering of free improv musicians from Baltimore and the rest of the world to play together.
The concert started with Dutch musician/vocalist Jaap Blonk performing solo. His voice is an amazing instrument; one piece using his "cheek synthesizer" was in stereo- each cheek creating different sounds simultaneously. I was moved by his performance of a Dadaist poem where he shouted the German word "brĂ¼llen", meaning "to cry" about a hundred times.
The second piece involved several artists who had there own custom made instruments. They were accompanied by a vocalist and a dancer as well.
The third set included contrabass and 2 theremins, one of which, by Italian musician Massimo Simonini, was prepared so that it produced presampled sounds from piano to what sounded like an Italian disco song.
The fourth set featured former Wolf Eyes menber Aaron Dilloway on tape loops accompanied by a cellist, a violinist, and electronics.
Due to a computer now working, we were lucky to be treated with Jaap Blonk again, this time in a set featuring beat boxer Shodekeh and amazing local percussionist Dan Breen. I think this was the best set of the night.

Diplo & Switch at Sonar

On the same night as Sea & Cake, Sonar also had the DJs Diplo and Switch spinning.
Switch is the DJ that produced most of the latest M.I.A. record, Kala. His style of DJing was pretty fun to hear- a lot of house actually with crazy electronic sounds.
Following him was Diplo, probably my favorite DJ right now. He really know how to get the crowd moving. My favorite moments were when he did a Baile Funk medley, when he threw in a jazz riff, and when he segued from House of Pain to Daft Punk.

The Sea and Cake & Meg Baird at Sonar

Friday night, I finally got to see The Sea & Cake, a band I've been a fan of for several years. Oddly enough, on the PA before the show, they were playing John Prine.
Opening up was Meg Baird, lead singer from the Espers. Her solo music involves a lot of traditional Appalachian folk songs. They were all a little melancholy and bittersweet. She is a really good guitarist and her voice is very lovely.
The Sea and Cake were great to see live. They performed a whole range of songs from their catalogue, and their musicianship was pretty fantastic- Prekop, McEntire, Claridge and Prewitt are all talented on their instruments. I think the last time I saw Archer Prewitt play was with the Coctails.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Genesis at the Verizon Center, DC

Last night, went with a bunch of friends from high school to see the great band Genesis play on their Turn It On Again Tour at the Verizon Center in DC.
We started the night at a bar that also turned out to be the meetup for the Genesis fan club. It was good warming up to fine beer and Genesis on the PA.
The concert was great. On this tour, the band is playing more of their classic hits like "In the Cage", "The Carpet Crawlers", "Ripples", and "Firth of Fifth". They sounded fantastic. I am personally a fan of their 70's music the most, and I loved it.
A moment I found amusing was that immediately following a medley of classics like "In the Cage", the band started playing "Hold on my Heart", a newer song, so I decided to run to the restroom. When I first went in, the men's room was empty, but then, dozens of guys started showing up as well, all with the same idea that we didn't really like the latest stuff.

John Prine at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

This past Saturday, I saw folk music great John Prine perform at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. He was amazing. I last saw him when I was in college, and in the interim he was treated for throat cancer, so despite his voice being a little hoarser, he was still pretty great. It was an older crowd with a more than a few aging hippies. The acoustics of the place were fantastic.
He played with a bassist and another guitarist who also did double duty on a mandolin. He also went electric towards the end of his set as well. My favorite songs he did were "Whistle & Fish", "Angel from Montgomery", "Souvenirs", "Lake Marie", "In Spite of Ourselves", and "Speed of the Sound of Loneliness". The last one nearly got me choked up.

Girl Talk at the 2640 Space

Sorry for the delays in posting. Last Tuesday, I saw Girl Talk play a sold out show at the 2640 Space, an old church in Baltimore. The kids these days go nuts watching a guy checking his email.
His set was pretty close to his V Fest set- the usual ADHD mashup of familiar hits of the past 40 years of music. I worry that there are cracks in his act though- Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" is not a clever sample.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Phil Collins and the Breakup Song

Did anyone catch the recent episode of This American Life on breakup songs and Phil Collins?
One of my favorite programs in recent time. I particularly like how Phil gets choked up in his interview and the revelation that his breakup is responsible for his turn from working with the likes of Eno to becoming a pop monster.
All this is in the light that I am seeing Phil and Genesis in a short 2 weeks. Can't wait.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard & Ray Price at Merriweather

Last week, I went to Merriweather Post Pavillion to see the Last of the Breed tour featuring Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price.
Ray Price started the night backed by the Cherokee Cowboys led by his son on guitar. He sings a pretty old school crooner style of country. Nice, sobering songs about love and heartbreak. I like his version of "Please Release Me" and Hank Williams' "Mansion on the Hill".
Up next was the Okie, Merle Haggard. He was pretty awesome to see play- I've always loved his blue collar working man songs. He did "Mama Tried", "Silver Wings" and "Okie from Muskogee". Towards the end of his set, Willie came out and they did my favorite of the night, "Pancho & Lefty".
Last up was Willie Nelson. He has always been amazing live- full of great songs and energy. I love how he always opens with "Whiskey River". He had Merle and Ray Price on stage, and the did "Crazy" and "Nite Life" all together. It was an amazing evening of real country music.