Friday, October 24, 2008

The National comes to Rice

Apparently, as part of Rice's Homecoming Weekend festivities, Brooklyn-by-way-of-Cincinnati-based The National is playing a free concert on the Rice campus on Friday, November 7 from 11:30am to 1:00pm (in the west quad behind Brochstein Pavilion, for those who are interested). I've seen The National play at the 2007 ACL Festival, and they were pretty good. In addition to ACL, The National has made the rounds of various other festivals--including Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Glastonbury--and they recently opened for R.E.M. (on its tour promoting Accelerate). No question, this is a pretty cool treat for the Rice community and for National fans in Houston.

Here is the band performing "Mistaken for Strangers" (from its most recent release, Boxer (2007)) at the 2008 Glastonbury festival:

And here they are performing "Fake Empire" (also from Boxer) on Letterman:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You are forgiven

How cool is this song? Ten. And how cool is this performance? Also a ten. That makes twenty! Keith Moon is completely endearing (and nuts) in this performance, by the way.

During their 2006 tour, My Morning Jacket, with guest Eddie Vedder, covered this song, and despite the fact that Eddie V. is an annoying person, the performance was ridiculously awesome:

Part 1:

Part 2:

(Thanks to Muzzle of Bees for the MMJ/EV video.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Amy Poehler FTW

From this past weekend's SNL, in which Amy Poehler (who is apparently twelve months pregnant) delivered a completely transcendental rap on behalf of VP candidate Sarah Palin:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ryan Adams is a barrel of laughs

Actually, not really. I had never seen Ryan Adams before (even when he has been in the lineup for past ACL Festivals I've been to), but his bitchiness has been well documented, so I was kind of hoping to see some drama at Verizon Tuesday night. But alas, there was no meltdown, no tantrum, though there was some prickliness evident here and there--including giving some sass to one particular concertgoer who insisted on yelling "Freebird!" during a lull in the show (Adams responded by repeatedly whispering, "You're so smart, you're so smart . . .").

All in all, though, Adams seemed detached, perhaps due to his recovering from a bout of bronchitis (which had caused him to cancel two shows the prior week). But some of the general standoffishness seemed inherent--looking down at his shoes the whole night, showing little interest in the crowd, standing near the back of the stage the entire show, not playing any encore--so I guess, bronchitis or no, I can say I saw a typical Ryan Adams show.

The music, however, sounded very, very good. Adams and his band, The Cardinals, were tight, both instrumentally and vocally (rare is the band that can sing a four-part harmony--a fact that they seemed at times indulgent about), and the set list was decent. Sure, for every "Wonderwall" or "The Sun Also Sets" I would have traded for a "When Stars Go Blue" or "City Rain, City Streets," but there were definitely some standouts, such as the very pretty "Come Pick Me Up" and the strangely catchy "I See Monsters." A number of songs also came from the soon-to-be-released album, Cardinology (a kinda dumb name, if you ask me), though those songs didn't excite me too much.

Leaving the show, Gwen and I agreed that the show was probably a 6.5 out of 10. Good sound, skillful musicianship, and tight harmonies are commendable, but one can get that simply by listening to the albums. Live shows should deliver something more immediate or visceral or spontaneous. But this one was a tad sterile, albeit still enjoyable. Maybe part of the sterility was due to the fact that the show was structured like a classical music performance--the audience entirely seated, an intermission in the middle, and no encore. If that was Adams's pomposity at work, then it doesn't serve his music well.
Another downside of a seated audience is that there was no real opportunity for me to get super annoyed with anyone--one of my favorite pastimes--which was a bit of a bummer. And believe me, I tried. But while an audience full of people who look like they're alumni of Washington & Lee may be offensive in theory, I have to say they were, all in all, pretty well behaved and reasonable. But this is probably all the more reason there should have been a meltdown.

Here is a good performance of "Come Pick Me Up" on Letterman from a few years back:

(Photo above courtesy of The Spaghetti Incident.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kate Aumonier

I don't really know anything about Kate Aumonier, but here's what I do know: (1) she's British and (2) while singing, she looks a lot like Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby. (In fact, I think it would be so badass if, as part of her act, she sang all her songs while handcuffed to a big dude in a white suit and a cowboy hat.) Oh, and (3): the one Kate Aumonier song I know, "Much Like Yesterday" (from 2004's Here I Am, which you can't really buy anywhere), has a pretty guitar riff throughout. Here is Aumonier performing the song at the 2005 Isle of Wight Music Festival:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ryan Adams in Houston tonight

Gwen and I are going to the Ryan Adams show tonight. Weird fact: it's all assigned seating. I'm kind of hoping for one of those infamous Ryan Adams meltdowns to where he storms off the stage in disgust, vowing never to come back. And then! Out of nowhere, I would get up on stage, grab one of the guitars, and just start WAILING, playing my OWN songs--including my soon-to-be-hit, "Dos Huevos (Por Favor)"--and the crowd would just get completely PUMPED. I would then get signed to a recording contract by the biggest record company in the world that same night and quit my job the next day. Next stop: a coke habit, rehab, and a tell-all book. I win again!