Sunday, October 21, 2007

The New Pornographers--The Metro, Chicago, Illinois

The New Pornographers were in town this past Thursday and Friday and I had tickets to the Friday show. Having been sick all week I popped an Airborne (which says on the box was created by a school teacher so I guess it has to work) and headed over. Being a big fan, a slightly onerous cold wasn't going to keep me from seeing this band. The only other time I have seen them was this past summer and Neko Case and Dan Bejar were noticeably absent. Not this time though, the entire crew was there, time to check out some porn!

I didn't write down a set list during the show but just know that they pretty much covered everything that people wanted to hear from their four albums. They're great to see live.....I like any band that can incorporate hand-claps into such a high majority of their songs.

(Sorry for the distraction, but as I'm typing this the Bears are down by four against the Eagles and are about to attempt to drive 97 yards with 1:53 left and no timeouts. Who's confident?! Yeah, me neither. But I figure watching the Bears attempt a two-minute drill has to be comical enough to detail....

As figured, they're going nowhere......a dump pass in the middle of the field to Adrian Peterson is not going to get the job done with no timeouts. Another completed pass to Desmond Clark and he gets out of bounds to stop the clock....too bad it was only for about 8 yards. Whoa, hold up......they're moving......Griese over the middle to Berrian....we're near the Eagles 40........another pass to Hester......we're at the Eagles 15!

Unbelievable! After spiking the ball, Griese just hit Moose for what better be the game winning touchdown with 8 seconds left. Bears squib kick and the Eagles have it on their own 40. I wonder if McNabb can throw 60 yards. Oh, doesn't matter, they run out the clock after an incomplete pass that was set to go about 12 yards. Good call. Bears win! Honestly, was there ever any doubt?

My God, the Philly fans exiting the stadium look like they're ready to eat their own young right now. Yikes!)

Everyone here had a better weekend than Eagle fans.

....alright, sorry about that, but that was very necessary. It was good to see Dan Bejar with the band. I really like what he offers to the New Pornographers' catalog. Early on they played "The Spirit of Giving", closing track on Challengers and one which features Bejar and he sounded great. As did the was memorable this past summer at Union Park and it was memorable again Friday night. They played about three or four other Bejar songs, "Jackie Dressed in Cobras" comes to mind, but the rest of the show he just sort of sat by the side of the stage, seemingly bored, sipping on a beer. For all I knew he was doing Sudoku puzzles during his downtime. In other words, he didn't exactly seem thrilled to be there. Or maybe that's just his normal demeanor.
It sure was nice of Dan to show up.

Neko Case was donning an old Queen tour shirt which reminded me of this summer when they belted out "We Will Rock You". Both her and Kathryn Calder's vocals sounded fine and they often sung simultaneously. If anything surprised me, it was the fact that I didn't think Case offered any extra element to the band from what I saw this summer (unless you count her token nonsensical babbling into the microphone between songs). And I love Neko Case but that's how much I think of Calder and how good she is for the band. As mentioned, they pretty much covered every song that would be considered a hit in their catalog complete with "Use It", "The Laws Have Changed", "Sing Me Spanish Techno, and the title-track from Challengers. They closed out the first set with "Bleeding Heart Show" and returned for a three song encore that included "From Blown Speakers", a song from Mass Romantic that I can't seem to place and another song I don't remember. Hey, it was Friday night, beer was flowing.

Nevertheless, the New Pornographers are just a well-oiled machine that pump out really good pop/rock songs. That's probably mostly Carl Newman's influence but his supporting cast is pretty great and it was nice to see all of them there. Oh, and Go Bears.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Fujiya & Miyagi--The Empty Bottle, Chicago, Illinois

We hit up the Empty Bottle on Friday to check out British alternative group Fujiya & Miyagi. I'm glad it didn't take them too long to return to Chicago. They were on the smaller stage this summer at Pitchfork and I wanted to see them but couldn't because of a scheduling conflict with Battles. First up was opening act Dirty on Purpose who were pretty much terrible by accident. Such irony.

Behind Schubas, the Empty Bottle might be my favorite venue in Chicago. The location isn't great but everything else is. There's a black cat that guards the door and sells merchandise. Old Style's are only $2 (on Saturday I paid $5 for one on Clark St. during the Cubs game, but hey, at least they.......oh wait...nevermind). Other drinks are relatively cheap, too. The stage is set in the corner at an angle to the crowd. We scouted out a place about 15 feet from the stage that was elevated. This place might be the perfect venue for anyone who is 5'5 or below. And, the sound is really good. I would say it's the best example of a rock club in Chicago.

In Chicago, the "Old Style" sign is usually a pretty good indicator that you're at a decent place.

Rogue Dead Guy is both a beer on the menu and what the Empty Bottle men's room smells like.

Fujiya Miyagi....Fujiya Miyagi.....Fujiya Miyagi.....Fujiya Miyagi......

Fujiya & Miyagi came out and opened with "Ankle Injuries". Any confusion as to the band's name is pretty much cleared up in that song. They named their band after a brand-name record player and Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. Why? Why not. It does make you feel good that even people in England appreciate The Karate Kid doesn't it? Their music is kind of a funky electronica/rock sound. Lots of people dancing, and lots of people doing the less-secure flat-footed stand while bopping their head back and forth.

Immediately after the show this cat headed over to Wrigley Field.

Lead singer David Best was anchoring the band and playing guitar in a sort of fashion that reminded me of Britt Daniel. During "Photocopier" they name-dropped Chicago which the crowd ate up. After playing for a little over an hour, they left the stage, came back for a brief encore and the show was over. They're the type of band that you could enjoy live even if you haven't heard their album or any of their songs. The show was good. The tamales we bought afterward from some guy on the street were not.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Matt And Kim--Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago, Illinois

We returned to Hickory High this past Tuesday to check out Matt and Kim with Totally Michael and Dan Deacon opening. First thing I noticed was that the price of PBR had gone up $1. Oh, the humanity. If you aren't familiar with Totally Michael (because I wasn't) he's a single performer, rather nerdy, presumably named Michael, and he took the stage with an iPod and seldom used guitar. Don't let that fool you because he was exciting. In fact he got the crowd going into a bit of a frenzy and a mosh pit formed around the stage. I'm not sure if mosh pit is the right word. I never know what to call it when a bunch of hipsters that weigh 135 lbs. are jumping around to some nerdy music. How about we just call it a hipstosh pit. So I went to join the hipstosh pit because it looked like fun, danced around for awhile, and returned to my crew. It was a great time until I reached into my pocket and realized my phone was gone. Noooooooooo! Panic mode set in. We looked all over for it with no success. Depressed, resigned to the fact that I was going to have to buy a new phone, the concert was ruined before it had really began. I saw a security guard and told him my story. Believe it or not he actually seemed concerned. And after Totally Michael finished he got on stage, told the crowd that a phone had been lost, and the guy who found it returned it to me almost instantaneously. I was so happy I'll never make fun of hipsters again. (Also, sometime during Totally Michael's set he divided the crowd into two sides and included the crowd into some sort of role play. I'd be able to explain it better but I was too busy sulking in the corner because I thought my phone was lost. That said, Totally Michael was good).

Something tells me Totally Michael totally didn't have many girlfriends in high school.

I meant to see Baltimorian Dan Deacon put on his electronic show at the Pitchfork Festival this past summer but because of circumstances beyond my control I missed him. Those of you that read the Pitchfork article may remember. So needless to say, I was pretty excited after having been cheated this summer. He was incredible and I couldn't even see him. He sets up his electronics on the ground and invites the audience to crowd around him and even watch from
the stage.

You can't see him but I believe Dan Deacon was sitting just below that nice floating green skull.

Coupled with the lighting, his music sounds really cryptic. People were dancing, hipstoshing, and Deacon had the crowd running around the room on his instructions. It was a pretty wild scene, like gym class at some terrible new-age middle school.

Half of these people are running around on Dan Deacon's instruction and the other half are rioting because Logan Square Auditorium raised the price of PBR to $4.

To understand how crazy the scene was during Dan Deacon, look no further than the upside down boot.

After Dan Deacon finished I finally caught a glimpse of him. He's the guy in the yellow shirt. And yes ladies, he's single.

I ran to the bathroom after Dan Deacon finished and came back into the room and was met with what I think was the smell of death. If you look at the picture of Dan Deacon above, that's about what everyone else looked like after he finished. Everyone was into it.......and in turn, everyone smelled horrible.

This marked my second time seeing the alternative punk/dance duo Matt and Kim. I saw them in early August at the Sonic Muse Festival in Cincinnati. The onstage pizza party was a gas in Cincy so I was even more exited this time around knowing what to expect. They had spent the past three days driving from San Diego so they could play this show and they took the stage and were ready to go. Opening up with "Silver Tiles" the crowd was so excited and caught up in the hipstoshing that the crowd began to sway back and forth beyond control. People were running onstage and stage-diving, and Matt and Kim's entourage were behind the band partying and dancing it up. One guy had a skull shaped beer bong. Skulls played a prominent role at this concert.

Matt and Kim in a good mood for once.

Although hailing from Brooklyn, Matt and Kim really love Chicago. I know this because he told us so. Seriously though, they really do love Chicago and Chicago really digs them. The energy from the crowd was as infectious as Kim's smile. When they played "Yea Yeah" the crowd got rowdy to the point that the girls I was with had to retreat from the front of the stage.

I'm not sure what the guys over Matt's left shoulder are doing but it's looking kind of weird.

Yep, still looking weird.

Matt and Kim ended their set with an absolute party on stage. I'm not sure how many people were around the band as they closed out but they barely had room to play their instruments. One guy was crowding Kim so much her big smile turned into just a smile with a look of suspicion in her eyes at the guy falling all over her drum set. I really don't think they cared. They're all about a good time and it was a good time.

Party on stage. I guarantee they had to spray that room down once everyone left. The girl in the black shirt on the far right pretty much sums up the evening.
In perfect Matt and Kim fashion there was an impromptu dance party after the concert was over. In case you weren't aware, "Since U Been Gone" can really get a room going. If you missed the hoopla, not to worry, I'm sure all three of these acts will be back soon. More importantly, this show spawned a new word--hipstoshing (well, maybe two if you count "Baltimorian"), we saw the gentrification of PBR, and I learned never to give up looking for a cell phone. All in all, a rather educational night at old Hickory High..

Win Free Tickets To Elvis Perkins In Dearland This Sunday

Everything is free these days, or at least potentially free. First, word got out that Radiohead was releasing their next album online and you can pay however much you want for a copy of the soon-to-be-released album entitled In Rainbows. How about "'I'll Pay Nothing For $100', Alex." Second, "Oh My Rockness" announced an opportunity to win free tickets to the Voxtrot concert at the Metro on October 4th. And now, there is a chance to win Elvis Perkins in Dearland tickets at the Lakeshore Theater this Sunday. Keep your wallet full, indeed.
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