Friday, May 30, 2008

June Shows in Chicago

It's summertime in Chicago. Time for countless street festivals, an over-crowded lakefront trail, and, uhh, two baseball teams in first place? But whatever, everyone knows Chicago owns the summer when it comes to live music. Even these guys know it.

Sun 6/01
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Gil Mantera's Party Dream, The 1900's, Frightened Rabbit, Bear Hands, Tully Monster @ Do Division Street Festival 12pm

The Dead Science, Magical, Beautiful, Pillars and Tongues @ Ronny's 9pm

We Will Eat Rats To Survive, Redbear, The NOWLIN-MULHOLLAND QUINTET, The Cathedrals @ South Union Arts 8pm

Mon 6/02
Everest, David Singer, Gidgets Ga Ga @ Abbey Pub 8pm

Islands (ex-Unicorns) @ Apple Store 2pm & @ Logan Square Auditorium w/ Awol One and Crayonsmith 8:30pm

Efterklang, Slaraffenland, Nick Butcher @ Empty Bottle 9pm

The Field @ Sonotheque 9pm

AMFM, White Hot Knife @ darkroom 9pm

The Kooks @ Vic Theater 6:30pm

Tues 6/03
Death Cab For Cutie, Rogue Wave @ Jay Pritzker Stage at Millenium Park 7pm

Nels Cline Singers, Jeff Parker Trio, Painted Saints @ Martyrs 9pm

LoveLikeFire, The Notes and Scratches, Mass Solo Revolt @ Schubas 9pm

Wed 6/04
Jamie Lidell, Jennifer O'Connor @ Abbey Pub 8pm

Grand Archives, Sera Cahoone @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Thurs 6/05
Mittens on Strings, Eyesearsnose, Golden Birthday @ Beat Kitchen 8pm

Earl Greyhound, The Parlor Mob @ Double Door 8pm

Oliver Future, Van Ghost @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Drop the Lime, Clique Talk, Brilliant Pebbles @ Hideout 9pm

Old 97's, Hayes Carll, I Love Math @ Metro 7:30pm

Sea Wolf, The Jealous Girlfriends, The Syllable Section @ Schubas 9pm

Ingrid Michaelson, Greg Laswell @ Park West 7:30pm

Fri 6/06
R.E.M., Modest Mouse, The National @ United Center 7pm

Wolf Eyes, Warm Hands, Bloodyminded @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Sleepout, Weinland, Gentleman Auction House @ Beat Kitchen 9pm

Slim Cessna's Auto Club @ Bottom Lounge 9pm

Aleks & the Drummer, Woodhands, Chandeliers, Yellow Cakes @ Subterranean 9pm

Sat 6/07
Smoking Popes, Mannequin Men, Sundowner @ Metro 8pm

1997 @ Apple Store 2pm

Hit the Lights, I Am The Avalanche, JET LAG GEMINI, Thee Armada, J+J+J, The Show is the Rainbow, UUVVWWZ @ Beat Kitchen 6pm

Detholz!, Rafter, Baby Teeth, Danny Black @ Hideout 9pm

Abigail Washburn, The Sparrow Quartet @ Old Town School of Folk Music 7pm & 10pm

Voodoo Glow Skulls, Whole Wheat Bread, Knock Out, The Cannanes, MOTO @ Reggie's 5pm

Centro-Matic, The M's @ Schubas 10:30pm

Retribution Gospel Choir feat. Alan Sparhawk, Bailiff, Brighton, MA @ Subterranean 9:30pm

Sun 6/08
The M's, Centro-Matic @ Schubas 9pm

The Audians, Fair Herald, The Jesters @ Hideout 4pm

Mark Kozelek, Jim Elkington @ Old Town School of Folk Music 8pm

Mon 6/09
Yellow Swans, MRDR, Winters In Osaka @ Av-aerie 9pm

Unicycle Loves You, Bitter Tears @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Seymore Saves The World (ex-Tapes 'n Tapes), Brave Ulysses @ Ronny's 9pm

Styrofoam, Broken Spindles, Popstatic @ Schubas 9pm

Tues 6/10
Adam Green, Tim Finn @ Lakeshore Theater 9pm

Thurs 6/12
Oxford Collapse, Frightened Rabbit, Tigercity @ Empty Bottle 9pm

She Wants Revenge, Be Your Own PET, The Virgins, Switches @ House of Blues 5:30pm

Tulsa, Vivian Girls, Sundowner, Sass Dragons, Grass Widow @ People Projects 7pm

Fri 6/13
Switch, Bald Eagle @ Metro 10pm

Dick Prall, The Bon Mots, Brad Peterson @ Hideout 10pm

Lightspeed Champion, Flowers Forever, The Explorers Club @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Donita Sparks and the Stellar Moments @ Double Door 8pm

Sat 6/14
Annuals, Needers & Givers, The Silent Years @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Billy Bragg @ Park West 8pm

Swervedriver, The Life and Times, Terra Diablo @ Metro 8pm

Wye Oak, Pontiak, The Uglysuit @ Hideout 9pm

Telenovela, John Greenfield & The Tasteful Nudes, His & Her Vanities @ Schubas 10pm

These New Puritans @ Subterranean 9pm

Sun 6/15
The Swell Season (Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova) @ Chicago Theatre 8pm

El Ten Eleven, Kuwahara, Presto Descanto @ Schubas 9pm

Venetian Snares, Otto Von Schirach, Cyrusrex, Dino Felipe @ Reggie's Rock Club 9pm

Mon 6/16
Fink, JAYMAY, Lindsay Anderson @ Schubas 9pm

White Hinterland @ Hideout 9pm

Blake/e/e/e, The Disasteratti, Tim Larson @ darkroom 8pm

Tues 6/17
The Swell Season (Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova) @ Chicago Theatre 8pm

Burning Brides, Year Long Disaster, Lasers and Fast and Shit @ Double Door 6pm

Peter Murphy @ House of Blues 7:30pm

Ladytron, Datarock @ Vic Theater 6:30pm

Wed 6/18
The Swell Season (Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova) @ Chicago Theatre 8pm

Crystal Castles @ Double Door 8pm

Sleepercar, Dollar Store, Talldarkstranger @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Canadian Rifles, Sweet Cobra, American Cheeseburger, Harm's Way @ People Projects 6pm

Thurs 6/19
Sanawon, Owen (sings Fugazi), The Beauty Shop @ Beat Kitchen 9pm

MV & EE with the Golden Road, Sonoi, Tacoma Arrows @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Dawn Landes, Balthrop, Alabama, Mittens on Strings @ Hideout 9pm

The Hood Internet, Shala Esquire, Arcadias, Yea Big/Kid Static, Jeremy Bolen & Bobby Burg @ Sonotheque 9pm

Mucca Pazza, Baby Teeth @ The Mansion 8pm

Fri 6/20
Mike Doughty's Band, Frisbie, J. Davis Trio @ Taste of Randolph Street 5:30pm

Tight Phantomz, Sisters, The Trophy Wives @ Beat Kitchen 9pm

Marissa Nadler, Pillars and Tongues @ Empty Bottle 10pm

The Black Angels, The Warlocks @ Logan Square Auditorium 9pm

Sat 6/21
Drive By Truckers, Bobby Bare Jr. @ Taste of Randolph Street 3pm

The Detroit Cobras, Les Sans Culottes @ Double Door 8pm

Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Bad Flirt, The Alarmists @ Abbey Pub 9pm

Damon & Naomi, Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh, Evangelista @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Coltrane Motion, Team Band, Renminbi, Lemmy Caution @ Ronny's 9pm

The Tren Brothers (members of Dirty Three) @ Schubas 10pm

Simply Saucer, Plastic Crimewave Sound @ Subterranean 9:30pm

Sun 6/22
Josh Ritter, Matt Costa, Delta Spirit, The Everyday Visuals, Baby Loves Disco @ Taste of Randolph Street 2pm

Thalia Zedek, fFlashlights, Jim Zinc @ Abbey Pub 7pm

Motorpsycho, Grails, Nadja @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Local H @ Metro 6pm

Dax Riggs (formerly Deadboy & The Elephantmen), Scout Niblett, John Barrett's Bass Drum of Death @ Schubas 9pm

Mon 6/23
Sloan, The Golden Dogs @ Double Door 8pm

Tues 6/24
Liz Phair (performing Exile In Guyville) @ Vic Theater 7pm

Shearwater, Frog Eyes, Evangelicals @ The Mansion 8pm

Partyshank, Vyle, Hey Champ @ Abbey Pub 8pm

Darling, The Battle Royale, Canasta @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Eef Barzelay (of Clem Snide), Ferraby Lionheart @ Schubas 9pm

Wed 6/25
Gospel of the Horns, Cemetary Urn, Sanquis Imperium, Kommandant, Superchrist @ Empty Bottle 8pm

Thurs 6/26
The Frequency @ Abbey Pub 9pm

Mt. St. Helens, Oceans, Birth Rites @ Beat Kitchen 9pm

Thunderunderus, Slim Dixon, Diablo @ Double Door 8pm

Heypenny, Brice Woodall, Parachute Musical @ Schubas 9pm

Fri 6/27
Cursive, Lacona @ Subterranean 9:30pm

Mahjongg, Colourmusic @ Hideout 10pm

Sat 6/28
The Dials, Johnny and the Limelites @ Double Door 8pm

Maria Taylor, Johnathan Rice, Nik Freitas @ Beat Kitchen 9pm

Hayden, Haley Bonar @ Schubas 10pm

The Impossible Shapes @ South Union Arts 8pm

Sun 6/29
DD/MM/YYYY, Cacaw @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Mon 6/30
The Singleman Affair, Meander @ Empty Bottle 9pm


Monday, May 26, 2008

NQL Roundtable Discussion on 2008 Lollapalooza

NQL's brass and special guest James Lipton of "Inside the Actor's Studio" met early last week at 1632 N. Jay Bennett Dr. to have a pointed discussion of this year's Lollapalooza.

Alex Crisafulli: Okay, it’s summer, kind of, time to talk about Lollapalooza. Matt is late as usual and our special guest panelist James Lipton was supposed to be here an hour ago and he hasn’t called or anything. I say we start without him.

Anna Deem: Alright, let's go. Did you guys hear about how Perry Farrell was pissed at Jim DeRogatis for leaking the line-up the day before? And DeRo was like "Whatever, fuck you." Funny stuff.

Brian Herrmann: I think James Lipton can go fuck himself. Perry Farrell too. He's better off sticking to spaceships or whatever mystical hoo-ha broke up Jane's Addiction and made him make that terrible movie "The Gift." If you go to Lolla's Flash-heavy website, you'll notice Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks and Dierks Bentley at the very bottom of the lineup, in like 3-point type. I have great eyes, but I had to get right up on the screen to read the last line--and couldn't tell it said "Dierks Bentley" until I saw Gnarls Barkley on the third line. Seriously, what a slap in the face to Stephen Malkmus. Dear Stephen, Your cultural relevance/agency, once nonpareil, is now on the level of Dierks Bentley. Your friend, Lollapalooza. And I'm pretty sure the first line is a misprint--weren't those the headliners for Lolla '98?

Alex: Perry being pissed off at DeRogatis actually extends to the year before when DeRo openly criticized the festival. I like DeRogatis but I do think he was a bit unnecessarily harsh. But yes, him leaking the lineup certainly didn't help things.

Brian: How did it hurt things? Anyone who's going to buy a ticket is still probably going to buy a ticket. The only thing leaking the lineup hurt was Perry's pride. It took away a little bit of his power and control. So do people in Chicago call DeRogatis "DeRo" or is that just round table shorthand? You big city people and your big city ways.

Alex: I think he's called lots of things. Just ask Ryan Adams. Backing up a second, Brian you said something to the affect that the headliners were a bit dated. If you could pick anyone to round out that list to make it better who would it be?

Brian: The Prodigy, Stone Temple Pilots, Tool. I really don't know. I understand having big-name acts as headliners, but the only one that's still relevant (from my perspective anyway) is Radiohead, and, given the other artists, Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails are incongruous at best. I don't know what the kids like these days, and most of the bands I like wouldn't have a mass appeal, so I'd be better off organizing one of the side stages, or the Nike Shoxx Presents the Mr. Peanut Mist Tent.

Alex: Prodigy, Tool....weren't those the headliners for the 97 lolla? The one that pretty much ended the entire thing as we knew it, in terms of traveling to city to city? I believe this to be accurate. I also believe this table we're sitting at to be square and not round. Who's responsible for this!? Someone tell our numbskull interns a round table should not have corners. [Shakes head while muttering "incompetence...everywhere I look."] But more importantly, since lolla morphed into what it is today, a cohesive lineup hasn't exactly been their specialty. But, can you really falut them for that? Is it possible to have a lineup that makes sense when there are 200 bands playing? How cohesive was SXSW? And why does Pitchfork get a pass on this? What's cohesive about Mastadon, Of Montreal, and Tim Tuten? I don’t even know what a cohesive lineup means. I'm going to stop saying the word "cohesive".

Anna: I don't think it matters whether the line-up is cohesive or not. Lolla caters to the people and the people apparently want '90s nostalgia trips and up and coming indie bands. As someone who has been to Coachella for the past few years, I'd say that Lolla definitely kicked their ass in terms of a line-up this year. I'll take Radiohead, Rage, and Nine Inch Nails any day over Jack Fucking Johnson, Portishead, and a bloated Roger Waters doing Dark Side of the Moon.

Alex: Everyone refers to him as Jack “Fucking” Johnson. It’s like he’s the new Bucky Dent.

Brian: I think Jack “Fucking” Johnson has only written one song, and just keeps re-releasing it under a different name each time. Does Lolla cater to the people, or does it respond to what the people seem to be into based on a management agency's perception of popular culture? Idea: a democratic music fest. People vote, and then organizers put together a lineup based on those votes. But the lineup would end up being Rihanna, Soulja Boy, Kelly Clarkson, Staind...

Alex: Hey, let’s get off Jack Johnson. ..I just got off yours! [laughs hysterically]

[Everyone stares at Alex in total silence.]

Alex: Sorry…that was stupid and completely uncalled for. But if Kelly Clarkson was on the bill I'd be the first one in line getting tickets and I'm not kidding. And whatever happened to that Milo Cyrus rumor?

Brian: The one that said she had a sex reassignment operation because of a botched circumcision? I don't know.

Anna: I'm so confused right now. Didn't All Tomorrow's Parties let people vote for one of their festivals in England a few years ago? Or am I making that up?

Brian: Now you are one of us...I don't know. But that just goes to show, there's nothing new under the sun.

[Door opens abruptly and Matt Farra walks in.]

Matt Farra: Lollapalooza? More like Borapalooza!

Alex: Hey, everyone! Our Louisville writer Matt just decided to grace us with his presence and join the discussion. ..late, as always. Hey interns....WE NEED ANOTHER CHAIR, PRONTO! But back on point, what does everyone like about the Lolla lineup? I'll tell you what I like: I think it's cool Kanye and Wilco are headliners even though they've already been there and done that. I like that they have Chicago's royalty headlining the weekend. And I'm also really looking forward to Blues Traveler. If they play "Run Around" I have a coordinated dance to go along with it. Shout-out to Montreat Summer Camp 1995!

Anna: I like that Radiohead is choosing to do Lolla as their Chicago date rather than playing at the Chicago Theatre (or somewhere else), since I'll be able to see them and it's less likely that the show will sell out. I like that Broken Social Scene is off of hiatus and finally touring again. I like that I'll get to relive my high school emo years by watching Brand New play live....I mean, what?

Brian: I like that tickets are reasonably priced. I like that there won't be 40 trillion people there.

Alex: My sarcasm meter just broke off. Anna, you’ve been to lolla before, correct? For the benefit of those who haven’t been, how would you describe the sound? Atmosphere? Food? 30 Seconds to Mars? Accessibility of stages? Bathroom facilities?

Anna: Nah, I didn't go...I've actually never been before. I didn't move to Chicago until August, so I just missed it. I'll definitely be there this year though.

Matt: [pulls out his lap top.] Brian--I can't speak about 2007 Lollapalooza, but I am pretty sure that Flogging "Friggin" Molly was not on the bill. Maybe I shouldn't make light of such an addition, afterall, as noted by "On March 4, 2008 Flogging Molly released Float, an album dubbed "One of the most important CDs of the year, if not the decade" by Alternative Press".

Brian: That doesn't mean shit. This decade is only a few years old, plenty more, more important CDs will be released by decade's end.

Matt: They might not even be making CDs by the end of this decade. One of my friends has a record player (which plays vinyl discs) and then he frames the album covers because he is so "cutting edge". Okay, I am talking about myself. But it I thought it was so cool at the time. Besides, if I can't have a "bar" at my house or a TV hung on my wall--aren't framed albums the next coolest thing? I especially like toting my albums around the house and having to hide them when company comes over because my wife doesn't find them as aesthetically pleasing as I do.

Brian: Relate what you just said to Lollapallooza in five sentences or fewer. Time...begins...nnnnnnow.

Matt: I love how bands sell albums at their concerts, such as the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago for the year 2008. I enjoy watching people buy albums or posters before concerts and then see their hearts and/or dreams smashed as the edges of the album get bent or the poster becomes ripped or turned into a quasi-megaphone. C'mon people, is this your first time at a concert? Wait until the end of the show to buy that shit--or better yet--steal that shit. You already went to the concert, what more can the band want from you? And for the record, black light posters often help intensify your experience at a show, so these words of wisdom do not apply to such items. If these items still exist? I, for one, would really enjoy a Wilco or Bon Iver black light poster.

Brian: I would enjoy a black light poster that's a Rasta smiley face smoking a joint, emblazoned with the word Jammin'. And as long as teenagers to drugs, there will be a market for black lights and black light posters.

Alex: You should hang that right next to your Belushi "College" poster. Gosh, your room sucks, Brian.

Brian: Maybe, but have you ever been in my room....on weed??

Alex: [laughing] Speaking of great cover art, has an album cover ever outshined the actual album as much as Tapes 'n Tapes Walk It Off? I think they should be forced to repackage that record into something much more bland and repetitious. And we've been sitting here for awhile now, anyone up for some pizza? I have $6.

Brian: I like that cover better the first time when it was the cover of Pieces of the People We Love. And the second time when it was that iPod commercial. You know, the one with all those shadow-people dancing. And I have $4.70. That's one large taken care of.

Alex: It also has some Abbey Road elements to it too, no? I bet that nerdy looking drummer with the glasses is the walrus.

Brian: That song is on Magical Mystery Tour.

Alex: Yes, but that was the album cover that spawned the rumors that Paulie McCartney was dead, right? The clues were obvious, by the way. He didn't have any shoes on. Of course he's dead. No one ever gets buried in shoes. And, the walrus was Paul. More importantly, I'm feeling a stuffed spinach from Giordano's. How's that sound? Matt, have anything? Wait, where the hell did Anna go?! I didn’t even see her leave.

Brian: I heard she was out taking care of business somewhere. Just a rumor.

Matt: She's off to Effingham to get ready Myan' mar Cowbell BenefitFestival! Rather easy, I know, but it's a start. Or what about Mission of Burma…relief, that is.

Alex: Matt Farra, ladies and gentlemen. Well, even though I'm starving, we can wait for her to get back. Let's get back on topic. I knew the AARP was a powerful lobby but didn't realize how strong until I saw Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine were headlining. Which leads me to ask the panel a two part question: First, which set would you rather see? And second, if you had to go home and listen to Pretty Hate Machine or Rage's first album which would it be? I'm taking Rage for the first answer but Pretty Hate Machine for #2.

Matt: For the first question, Rage Against the Machine. I don't really think of NIN as a great live act. For the second, Rage’s first album, unless we're talking about going home right after seeing Rage live--then I would probably rather listen to something different, less cable newsish.

Anna: Sorry, got a phone call. That was Effingham on the phone.

Alex: No problem, we were discussing a hypo.

Anna: I heard from the other room. I’ll go with Nine Inch Nails. I saw Rage at Coachella last year and they were a bit too intense for me. Plus, gangbangers in wife beaters screaming "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me" are frightening. And Pretty Hate Machine, probably.

Matt: What are the odds that Barack makes some sort of cameo at Lollapalooza? I wonder what John McCain's bloggin' daughter would do if he showed up?

Brian: He'll come out naked with his mouth taped shut for Rage's set. McCain’s daughter, too. As for the question, Rage, definitely. And I’d rather listen to Rage’s first album, Pretty Hate Machine just isn’t good.

Alex: Pretty Hate Machine not good? You're lucky I'm not 15 and going through a break up with my girlfriend that I had been with for a month and half or I'd leap over this table and strangle you.

Brian: Name more than two good songs on it. 'Sanctified' and 'Ringfinger' are it for me.

Alex: The two you just mentioned. “Head Like a Hole. Terrible Lie. Whatever track 5 was called. The slow song. I think nearly 80% of the ten songs on that album are great. The 15 year old in me going through a rough patch likes 100%.

Brian: Surely you jest.

Alex: I don't jest. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go order the pizza. Let’s take five.

Matt: A stuffed pizza is going to take forever. i told you guys we should have stuck with the dippin' dots.

Anna: Okay, I’m going to have to bow out early and head down to Effingham for the day.

[Five minute break concludes]

Alex: Matt, is anyone from Louisville on the bill?

Matt: I can only assume you mean Lollapalooza, Alex. Are you trying to get me to bite on an Eight Belles joke? You are sick my friend...I refuse to go there. I will take the high horse, saddle up and ride away from that broken attempt of some front-end humor.

Alex: Is that your way of telling me you're looking forward to Broken Ankles Social Scene's set? Thank you, folks, I'l be here all week!

Brian: You’re an idiot.

Matt: Guys, while we've been sitting here, I just got a text message from Daniel Radcliffe. What does "LOL so hard my britches are wet" mean?

Brian: It means Sid Bream beat a Jesse Barfield throw home to score the go-ahead run.

Alex: No, no, no, it means now would be a good time for him to utilize that invisibility cloak of his. I read somewhere that Mr. Radcliffe is a big Hold Steady fan, which leads me to ask, pretending price is not an issue, between the two festivals, which event are you more looking forward to and why?

Matt: [pulling his computer back out] Actually, Danny R. is a huge Art Brut fan. Have a look at this.

Alex: How did Richie Sambora get in that picture? Hopefully, little Danny was the DD that night.

Brian: What festivals are you referring to? Lolla and what else? Your non-specificity is killing me.

Alex: The sweetcorn festival in downstate Chatam, IL. I'm thinking Lollapalooza. I'm looking forward to seeing Kanye take the stage as the sun sets on Grant Park. Though I do love corn. No, you numbskull, I'm talking about Pitchfork Festival! The Hold Steady were recently added to the bill.

Brian: There just wasn't enough info to make the connection between Lolla, Radcliffe, and Hold Steady. Who's the numbskull now, numbskull? The answer is clearly Pitchfork. It's cheaper for one, less crowded for another, and has headliners that I'm actually interested in.

Matt: There goes our pizza being comped. Thanks Brian!

Alex: Well, I did say pretend that price as not an issue, but that aside, I think I'm going to go with Pitchfork as well. It's just so much more manageable and less chaotic.

Brian: You're right, you did, but Pitchfork still wins.

Alex: Brian, would you be against Pitchfork raising the prices $10 per ticket if the money went to hire someone who would actually check all of their articles and headlines for typos?

Brian: Shit yeah. You could hire a half-ass copyeditor for $30k a year.

Matt: Now, turn the page a bit. Given that Spoon is playing Pitchfork, which I am sort of stunned they are returning for--and taking money out of the equation again--do you think there are bands that would prefer to play Pitchfork over Lollapalooza? Although I know they aren't mutually exclusive, it seems that Spoon has a bigger following than Dierks Bentley and could easily have agreed to play Lollapalozza. I guess what I am getting is the following: do you think bands today are embarrassed to play in front of certain audiences or do they all just care about generally getting their music exposed to all different types of people, including the ones who watch The Hills…if that is even how they spell it because I wouldn't know because I don't watch the show....I swear I don't.

Alex: I bet a band that long ago could stop worrying about working another day job would like to play Pitchfork It gives them a certain sort of street-cred amongst all those scrawny and sniveling indie kids.

Matt: All those scrawny and sniveling indie kids…whose parents are corporate representatives for the Lollapalooza sponsors. Boy, what a small world we live in.

Alex: Isn’t it!

Brian: What haters. What cynics. Oh brother.

Alex: I am not hating. I think every band should make as much money as they can. That's why I limited my answer to those bands that are already very financially established. If I was a band ten months removed from selling cd's out of my trunk, you can bet your ass I would choose the Lolla payday over Pitchfork if given the choice.

Brian: But on point, Spoon played Lolla last year, didn't they? I think any professional musician's aim is to get his music exposed to as many people as possible. That's why No Age are at basically every major music festival this summer, and why My Morning Jacket were recently on SNL. I see no reason for embarrassment.

Matt: Hey guys! I just got a question from a Jimmy V., who was logged-on to our NQL chatroom. He writes the following: "I am drunk. Can you come pick me up?"

Brian: Well, that’s not good. But I agree with your point, however. You'd be a fool to turn down on principle any well-paying gig that promises high levels of exposure. You can't even hate on well-established bands like Nine Inch Nails or Rage or Radiohead for playing.

Alex: Can I at least hate on Rage for playing their actual music?

Matt: That's not my point or my question. Gosh! Let me rephase it: If money wasn't an issue, do you think there are bands that would prefer playing Pitchfork over Lollapalooza, even though their exposure would not be as great. I know this doesn't apply to every band, and you can never really ignore money and finances, but I am just curious if some bands would thumb their nose at Perry and Pepsi Cola if given the opportunity?

Brian: Well, you have to figure that a lower-key festival like Pitchfork is easier for artists to deal with than a high-pressure, high-profile gig like Lolla.

Alex: I don't know Matt, your question sucks. But Perry seems to have a pretty good relationship with most artists, I've noticed. And what I do find funny are the bands at Pitchfork who take shots at other festivals and then show up at those festivals. Carl Newman last year went on some tangent about how PFM doesn't screw you, you meaning the fan, and, if I recalll, made some backhanded comment towards lolla, and they had played lolla the previous year. Malkmus did the same thing and he's plaything lolla this year. And, not to change the subject, but I can't believe Lipton never showed up!

Matt: Guys, don't forget that Pitchfork has been known to censor its fans as well. "Puck Fitchfork"--need I say more? [Inside Joke. Members of the roundtable begin laughing and mucking up.] On that note, if Pitchfork Music Festival was around 10 years ago (1998)--what bands do you think would be on the bill? Neutral Milk Hotel, Guided by Voices, Del the Funky Homosapien?

Brian: That was a vendor's censorship. The t-shirt maker. But I agree with your ’98 lineup. And on the side stage, that guy who lives down the hall from Ryan Schreiber and makes four-track recordings in his kitchen.

[Buzzer rings]

Alex, Brian, & Matt: Pizza!

Alex: Okay, now is a good time as any to wrap this up. We hurt some feelings, barely talked Lollapalooza, and pretty much accomplished nothing.

Matt: Just another day at the office.

Brian: Indeed. Let’s eat.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Los Campesinos!--The Black Cat, Washington, DC

Of all the multi-sex Welsh septets that I listen to, Los Campesinos! is probably my favorite. They’re young, brash, and bratty. They (Aleksandra, Ellen, Gareth, Harriet, Neil, Ollie, and Tom) have all adopted the last name “Campesinos!”. They have a penchant for putrid album art. And, their debut LP Hold On Now, Youngster…is damn good.

Even though the album sounds great, Los Campesinos! had me thinking they could just be a big, convoluted mess in a live setting, and this curiosity drove me to the Black Cat this past weekend to see what they were made of. I arrived a bit late so I missed first opening act Pash. I was kind of bummed because they’re local to DC and I like to become acquainted with all the neighbors. But if they’re not going to put forth a serious effort to name their band, I can hardly be expected of putting forth the effort to arrive at the venue before 10.

Next up was another local act, the Aquarium from Arlington. They’re a girl/guy duo signed to Dischord. Think of a trippy 70’s rock version of Matt & Kim only with better drumming and without the charm. During their set I went up to the bar to grab a drink, and while I was waiting, some kid who didn’t look much older than my shoe size asked me if I would buy him a beer. Hold on now, youngster. I did not buy him a beer. But this was the youngest crowd I have seen at a concert in a long, long time…maybe since the legendary Fig Dish show at the Madison in Peoria in 1995…when I was one of them. Ah, the good old days. A lot of people my age complain about all-ages show, but not me. The kids are alright. And they need their rock music as much as anyone.

Los Campesinos!—and that’s the last time I’m typing that inessential exclamation point—invaded the stage just before 11:30. The drummer in a true punk rock fashion immediately took off his shirt and took a seat. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt he would score very high on this test. A simultaneous shout of “One TWO three FOUR, one TWO three FOUR, one TWO three FOUR, one TWO three FOUR!” obnoxiously proclaimed the set was beginning with frantic dance number “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats.” Good call. They followed that up with “Don’t Tell Me to do the Math(s)” which was perfect for all the 16 year-olds jacked up on Coke without any rum. Despite a scant few limitations, a sometimes lack of heterogeneous music being one, Los Campesinos can get a crowd (myself included) to buy what they’re selling almost immediately. They combine the schoolboy fun of Art Brut with a sloppy garage sound of the Strokes and it works. More importantly, even with the stage at near capacity, no one seemed inconsequential. The guy from Maroon 5 on guitar is good. Lead singer Gareth is a fantastic frontman. Why, even Harriet on the violin seemed to be serving a discernible purpose!

(Thinking of Gareth, reminds me of something. Halfway through the show I realized he was wearing a Times New Viking t-shirt. This Times New Viking stuff…this is an elaborate hoax, right? No one actually enjoys listening to these unlistenable clowns of rock-bottom-fi, do they? If you claim that you do, this is what I’m going to need:

1. A statement of 75 words or less explaining why you like Times New Viking.

2. Two signed affidavits from people who have witnessed you listening to (and enjoying) their album.

These can be emailed to NQL at Thank you.)

Gareth really is greath (anagram!), though. His style is rather preening and confrontational, but it’s much more fun than dumb. However, the true luminary of Los Campesinos is keyboardist Aleksandra, who shares vocal duties with Gareth. Whenever they were on stage and started to get a bit too sloppy, she was dependably there with melodic vocals that often times cleaned up any mess that was about to happen on stage.

Momentum and excitement levels climaxed when they played album favorite “You! Me! Dancing!”. I was shocked they didn’t open or close with this song, but who cares! That song is going to be the cause of impromptu dance parties all over the lower 48 at countless music festivals this summer. Other songs that stuck out included Pavement cover “Frontwards” and “Death to Los Campesinos!”. They played a majority of their album and their excellent EP, Sticking Fingers Into Sockets, and, after a quick encore, the evening wrapped up with not much more than an hour gone. Why only an hour, you ask? Because they only have about an hour worth of material to choose from and the kids in the crowd need to go home and get to bed. But that’s a good band, right there. I had a great time. And, they left me plenty of time to wander over to the belly of the beast of Adams Morgan on 18th and hit up one of those pizza-by-the-slice places. That is, if you can call that pizza. I found the only way to handle such thin and sloppy pizza was to roll it into a ball and eat it like an apple. And then it was delicious. There's a metaphor in there somewhere; albeit a very bad one.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Interview: Bry Webb of the Constantines

For nearly a decade, the Constantines have been churning out album after album of compelling, catchy, emotionally resonant music. On the heels of their outstanding new album Kensington Heights, songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Bry Webb discusses with NQL the process if the album's creation, the celebration of normal life, and the best Canadian bands you never heard of.

Nothing Quite Like: Kensington Heights has a live feel to it--the ebb and flow of a concert. The vocals are very "close" and I hear a lot of natural ambience/echo. Was this intentional? What did you do differently in the studio this time around?

Bry Webb: We didn't (do) much differently in regards to recording techniques, we were in the same studio (Hallamusic in Toronto), with the same engineer (Jeff McMurrich) as on Tournament of Hearts. The biggest difference was the amount of time we had on this record. Tournament was recorded relatively quickly, between long tours, and Kensington Heights was made over three or four months, which was a great luxury. I think we've just figured out that the best songs we've got were conceived as live performances, rather than studio bits.

NQL: On Kensington Heights I get a strong sense of forward movement, and of leaving and returning. Is it a stretch to relate these feelings to your sojourn from Three Gut to Sub Pop to Arts & Crafts? Even though you never left Canada, you recorded for a label headquartered in the U.S. Do things feel any different now? What drew you to A&C in the first place?

BW: We've definitely had a lot of change and movement in our lives, together and apart, over the last few years. At this age though, I think everyone gets a bit reflective or self-conscious about changes in life and work. Three Gut Records was a very collaborative, open, creative family, which was wonderful in our formative years as a band. We learned nearly everything we know about being a band from Royal City and Oneida, our early tour mates. Sub Pop was incredible as well, in that we just looked up to everyone there so much. They've been great friends to us. That relationship won't change. And now, Arts & Crafts has taken us on, and we're just beginning to see what they're capable of. Their energy is amazing, and it feels like we've come into another great creative community. And it's good to have the business side of what we do back in Toronto, closer to home.

NQL: What is your songwriting process? Do you come to the studio with everything prepared, or do you work off the cuff on arrangements and so forth? How much room do you give songs to change and grow after they're written?

BW: I think we just try to have songs worked out as interesting live performances before we go into the studio to record. We don't have any real system for writing songs, though. Sometimes they're collaborative ideas and sometimes private ideas, brought to the practice space. We're pretty democratic about most of what we do. I'm certainly not much of a band leader.

NQL: "New King" is flat-out one of the best songs I've heard in a long time, and I cringe asking you to discuss a specific song, but can you talk about "New King"'s origins?

BW: Most of the songs I write are little tributes to specific people in my life, who I think are surviving or defining themselves in great ways. "New King" is a song I wrote to celebrate my friends The Kings having a baby girl a few years ago. They left Toronto about five years ago, and moved to the Yukon Territory, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Most people I know are living lives worth celebrating, so I've got subjects for songs all over the place.

NQL: Kensington Heights is more subdued than your older material. Do you feel like you're filling the role of elder statesmen or sages telling the young turks how it be? (I'm thinking of "Our Age" and "Time Can Be Overcome" in particular.) What accounts for this maturation? Does age really make all the difference?

BW: I think after nine years as a band, we've become pretty comfortable with the idea of space in songs. We don't all have to be playing at top volume all the time anymore. And as I said earlier, at this age it's pretty natural to get reflective or to think a lot about Time as a major creative force.

NQL: Earlier this year, an unmixed version of Kensington Heights leaked onto the Internet. What's your stance on this phenomenon? Inevitable consequence of the information age or bane of your existence? What did you do when you found out your new album leaked?

BW: As long as people are interested and seeking out new music, I'm pretty content with all that. Of course, it's good to pay people for the work they've done. It wasn't too much of a problem to us, other than the fact that the leaked version wasn't a final master. It felt like a bit of a misrepresentation.

NQL: A couple months back I found a used copy of the original pressing of your debut, and I love the packaging (I had the album digitally before). Years ago, I read that only 1000 copies of the CD were pressed, and the band and the folks at Three Gut created each piece by hand. First, how true is this anecdote? Was this out of necessity, or was it more a matter of commitment to the craft? How involved were/are you at every level of production and manufacturing at Three Gut as opposed to Sub Pop as opposed to A&C?

BW: I think we ended up putting together about 2000 copies of the first CD package with our friends and some of the label folks. Dallas (Wehrle, bass) is exceptional at designing die cuts for these things, and his sculpture work reflects that. The mutated airplane on the new album cover is one of his sculptures.

NQL: Who in the band still works a day job? What are the best and worst jobs you've had (apart from "professional musician")? I worked briefly in a machine shop running a "broach," i.e., a huge, dangerous machine that required me to put my fingers far too close to two giant blades. At the time I was probably 21 and didn't appreciate the hourly peril I was in.

BW: Some of the guys work day jobs between tours. Bars, restaurants, etc. The kind of jobs that afford you as much time off as you need to tour and record. The worst job I had was probably at a wholesale tree and plant nursery, weeding and repotting plants all summer when I was a kid. It was great being outdoors and all, but I was stung by five bees in one day while working there, and the boss was the kind of guy that would say, "Bryan, to ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and ME." The best day job I had was working as the music director for a community radio station in London, Ontario. I was probably only making $4 an hour, but the program director, Michael, and I took it upon ourselves to get the most outlandish free stuff through advertising. We had theme park tickets, paint-ball passes, and helicopter rides rolling in. I was constantly up to my eyeballs in new music. Wonderful.

NQL: Left-leaning young Americans declare their disgust with this country's terrible predicament by saying, "That's it, I'm moving to Canada." What, in your view, would be the advantages of expatriation?

BW: If you do it right, you've got universal healthcare, better social programs, grants for artists and musicians, and more wide open space. Come on up. You can all work as tree-planters for a few years in Northern British Columbia. Then we'll consider you honorary Canadians.

NQL: What did you listen to growing up? Are there any unsung Canadian bands we should be aware of below the 49th parallel? The only exposure to "Canadian" music I had as a kid was Rush, BTO, and The Tragically Hip--the latter only because I was friends with the son of a Canadian diplomat.

BW: Eric's Trip, The Wooden Stars, Hacksaw, Union of Uranus. Those were some Canadian bands I loved growing up. Best kept secret in Canada right now is a band from Ottawa called The Empiricals, who also go by The Hilotrons or Hylotrons I think. Does everyone know the Sadies by now? Hope so.

NQL: Who are your stand-by artists, the ones you can put on at any time and enjoy?

BW: Castlemusic, Reigning Sound, Oneida, The Reveries, The Clean, Oakley Hall, Skip Spence, anything on Drag City.

NQL: If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

BW: Jim Henson. That guy had the right idea, man. Invent your own weird and beautiful world, and live there.

NQL: What era or movement in pop music is your favorite and why?

BW: Now is good, 'cause it's happening now. Genres disappearing.

NQL: What occupies you other than making music?

BW: Watching my lady dance, fishing with my father, trying to relearn 360 kickflips, bacci in the Park, and kratom.

--Brian Herrmann

Photo courtesy of Jack ( Apologies for thievery.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Clinic, Shearwater--The Empty Bottle, Chicago, Illinois

Admittedly my initial draw to this show was the fact that Jonathan Meiburg, lead singer of Shearwater, was also the keyboardist for Okkervil River. In preparation for the show, I crammed in iPod listening sessions of Palo Santo and Winged Life on my westward commute to the ‘burbs the morning of the show. Without paying close attention, I realized that my favorite tracks from the albums curiously were the ones that Will Sheff partook in. Knowing that he was not likely to be present at the show, I had to listen to the Sheff-less songs. Save for the occasional horn and banjo, Shearwater bore little resemblance to Okkervil River. Meiburg, who is also an ornithologist, was quite leggy and bird-like in appearance. Banging on the drums behind him was Thor Harris, who I hoped desperately was wearing an awful, awful wig because I couldn’t fathom that people intentionally wish to look like that. It was long, nappy and curly down to his belly with cowlicked bangs parted in the middle. I couldn’t stop looking at him!

I was only able to pick out a few of their songs, including “Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five”, “Red Sea, Black Sea” and “White Waves” which featured a wicked, sure-to-get-your-head-bobbing guitar lead-in. Intermixed were songs from their forthcoming album, Rook. Meiburg’s voice can be both gentle and scolding, sometimes in the same song. Shearwater has a very intense sound that occasionally drifts into a dreamlike state with a xylophone and electric stringed instruments.

In the break before Clinic came on I stood alone waiting for my friend. Conscious of my aloneness in a growing sea of chatty scenesters, I took refuge by staring at the walls of the Empty Bottle. Plastered haphazardly from floor to ceiling are posters from shows past. Behind the bar is a framed medical diagram of the liver, so we can take guilty pleasure in the irreversible destruction of our “tox box” every time we throw one back. Unmatching vintage lanterns hang above the bar, creating quaint and cozy confines. The Empty Bottle emanates a feeling of unassuming coolness, providing further (unnecessary) evidence that Chicago music venues just plain rock.

Clinic took stage donning their surgical masks. If it wasn’t for their festive Hawaiian shirts, one might think they just robbed a bank. Or maybe they are just ugly or they don’t want to be recognized in public. Their masks were a bit gimmicky, but these Liverpudlians whipped up some catchy, pulsating tunes to my delight. If their masks were to represent their cold mechanical house beat sound, then the Hawaiian shirts reflected their whimsical surfy side. It was an odd combination that worked. Songs like “Free Not Free” that were pretty at first occasionally freaked out. The packed house and freelance dancers amongst the audience were loving it. Clinic has been around for over ten years, but only landed here in Chicago for the second time in seven years. I liked them, but from the sound of their music they might be best paired with some bean bags, lava lamps and mind-altering substances. Other notable songs included “The Witch” and “Corpus Christi”.

The early show afforded me a good night’s sleep and an evening better spent than on my couch getting hip to Gossip Girl. The bar is set low for Monday nights. Shearwater and Clinic zapped a little life into what would have otherwise been a drab start to the week.

--Audrey Wen

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Interview: Andrew Juggernaut and Daniel Stricker of Midnight Juggernauts

We love our loyal Australian readers. So on the heels of reviewing a Cut Copy show, NQL presents an interview with Andrew Juggernaut and Daniel Stricker from the Aussie trio Midnight Juggernauts. Fresh off a set at Coachella, they were in town last week and played a rather frenzied show at the 9:30 Club. A few hours before hitting the stage, and in between checking their email, they talked about their tour, chili dogs, and their quest to find good coffee in the States. Midnight Juggernauts debut album, Dystopia, comes out in the States on May 27th.

NQL: You guys came here from Montreal, is that correct?

Andrew Juggernaut: We came from….let’s see, where were we? We’ve been moving around so much sometimes we forget. But yes, our last show was in Montreal and we’ve done a few shows in the U.S. so far and it has all been pretty great. I think we all really like coming here, it’s an exciting place.

NQL: You talking DC or the states?

AJ: Just the States in general.

Daniel Stricker: This is our first time in DC. Last time we were over here we played Philadelphia and New York but we never made it down here, so it’s pretty cool to be here. And this venue is amazing.

NQL: Yeah, it seems like a lot of good acts pass through here. I just moved from Chicago and I saw you guys played the Double Door a couple of day s ago. That’s one of my favorite venues. How was the show?

AJ: It was fun.

DS: Yeah, it was really good.

AJ: That’s the thing, all of the venues we’ve been playing have been very good with great production. And the crowds have been great. We’ve been able to go out to a few places that we hadn’t been to. Today is kind of an example. We drove in today, and just drove around and looked at all of the sights.

NQL: What’s it like for a first-timer in DC?

AJ: Well, you already have a bunch of images in your head from film, just like the White House and all these other things you see a lot, and we literally just drove straight in and drove in circles checking things out.

DS: We did the same thing when we went from Coachella to Denver and went through Vegas. We drove straight down the strip.

AJ: Yeah, and it was like “There’s that. And that. And that…”

NQL: I’ve never been to Vegas.

AJ: It’s a strange place. It’s kind of cool, it’s like a much bigger, much larger scale version of a place back home called the Gold Coast. It’s on the Australian coast and it has been sort of set up like that.

NQL: By the way, I want to let you know when I get home and listen to this tape these Australian accents are really going to screw me up, so let me apologize in advance when you're all misquoted.

AJ: [laughs] But yeah, in terms of Washington, we haven't really had a chance to hang out here. Hopefully, we’ll be here later tonight because I don’t think we’re leaving until much later. It’s just good going to all these cities because they all feel like music cities. Everyone talks about New York and places like that, but everywhere we’ve been has been cool.

NQL: Had you played Chicago before?

DS: Once.

AJ: Yeah, we played at the Metro last year when we were touring with Justice, and that’s, you know, a really beautiful place.

NQL: You brought up Coachella. How was that?

AJ: Yeah, I mean, it was pretty amazing. I think most bands would dream of playing it and I had this idea with the audience in the desert in the middle of nowhere and I really built my hopes up but it was one of those occasions where it really did live up to it. The way it looks is incredible. It’s very surreal, like some sort of oasis in the middle of nowhere. It was such a cool festival and we had a really good show and it was great fun playing. And seeing all these mountains in the background and palm trees in the middle of nowhere. It’s just a crazy landscape. But it was just a lot of fun and we hung out for the three days and got to see lots of bands.

NQL: Yeah, who did you check out?

AJ: Umm, the second and third day I saw more than I did on the first day. But the first day was Jack Johnson, and yeah, I didn’t see him. We saw our friends Cut Copy. Some of the bigger acts…Roger Waters was pretty amazing. Portishead was really good.

NQL: I heard that Roger Waters’ pig floated away.

AJ: [laughs].

DS: I’m pretty sure that was meant to happen, I don’t know what everyone was talking about. Let’s see, who else…I really wanted to see Animal Collective but I didn’t get a chance to. I saw a bit of the Breeders, who were okay, they weren’t amazing even though I’m a big fan. There were a lot of bands that we’ve played with that were on the festival that we have seen a whole lot of times which would have been cool to see. But for a lot of the festival we were busy with stuff so we missed out on some people we wanted to see. But we still got to see a lot of bands at the same time.

NQL: Moving on, have the David Bowie comparisons lost their novelty yet? I feel like I see that every time I read about you guys.

AJ: I’ve never taken that too seriously. He’s obviously an iconic artist and amazing. I think sometimes Vincent (Vendetta) unknowingly sounds like him and I think that’s why people do it, because vocally sometimes he does sound like David Bowie.

DS: It’s not an intentional thing.

AJ: [laughs]. He’s a great artist who has done so many things, so obviously it would be nice to try and have a career as long as his.

NQL: When is Dystopia coming out in the states?

AJ: It comes out May 27th?

DS: Yes, May 27th.

AJ: It has been released online, you can get it on iTunes but it actually comes out on the 27th.

DS: A lot of people have it already from downloading.

NQL: Yeah, how does that feel for a band your size? I would think it’s a cool feeling for you to be able to realize that a lot of people all over the world are listening to your music but, then again, a lot of people all over the world aren’t necessarily paying for your music.

DS: Well, it’s like our first record so it is good to get your music out there.

AJ: I think it kind of builds a fan base for us internationally that we wouldn’t have had. And we want everyone to buy the record and understand the implications of that. But through our experience, it (downloading) has helped. I still think we’re still very much on an underground level so many people haven’t heard our record and if you reach them may go out and buy it. So a lot of people have gotten it online, but that means when we go to strange places in Europe or when we’re touring here, they may show up.

NQL: Do you think it’s an advantage to have an album come out on iTunes before it actually hits the stores?

AJ: Yeah, definitely. The album came out on iTunes in the U.S. when it did and it kind of coincided with our tour. So it was really nice for people coming to our shows to have access to the record. So yeah, I think it definitely works to release it online first. I’m not quite sure what the sound difference will be, with the digital vs. the CD.

NQL: I feel like no one cares anymore. If people can get music on their computer they don’t care what the quality sounds like.

AJ: Yeah, yeah. I still like to have all the packaging and the booklets and stuff. And the album art. But yes, May 27th, the album comes out.

NQL: I was telling a friend about your band and he asked me what you sounded like and I didn’t really know what to say so I just kind of put the album on and hit play. I find your music hard to describe, I know what other people describe it as, but do you like that your music isn’t that easy to put into a niche?

AJ: Yeah, that’s always cool. We’re not the best ones to ask when wanting to describe our sound. Lots of stuff get thrown around. It doesn’t really matter, people call it what they want. I guess it more broadly gets put into an electronic thing, even though we don’t really see ourselves as an electronic band. We really very much like rock and have a rock background. And we do just sort of blend a lot of things.

DS: It’s a mish-mash. I would hate to be too pigeon-holed.

AJ: But it definitely comes out like our own sound.

DS: And if you say that and actually believe that, then that is a good thing rather than us having to say, “Oh yeah, we don’t sound like anybody.”

NQL: You mentioned you toured with Justice and now you’re headlining a tour. How noticeable is the difference?

AJ: Well, it’s a very different kind of experience. Stepping into a tour, like the Justice tour, when they were blowing up and were really unknown over here and we came along and were just treated amazingly well by them on that tour. We had the opportunity to play to like thousands of people every night. And we played to packed rooms every night and we were really introducing ourselves and we didn’t have the pressure of that being our tour. It was kind of an amazing experience and it meant we were able to come back now and do our own tour. And it’s different because now it’s about us, and trying to promote an album. So we’ll probably come back a few times the next months to really support the album, but we’re still really introducing ourselves. But the Justice tour was great because we got a lot of new fans out of that. It’s constant building, and we’ve always kind of been like that. It’s a gradual process or rise or whatever, and it has felt very organic the way we have done it. And I think the U.S. is the last continent that we hit, we had been to Europe a couple times and we had done a lot in Australia, so it has been about spending a lot of time here, building a profile, and do a lot of playing here.

DS: Yeah, and people are nice to us. And, the chili dogs.

NQL: Oh, did you get any chili dogs in Chicago?

DS: Oh yeah, they were amazing.

NQL: Where did you go?

DS: Well, our manager is from Chicago so he took us to some place. Tell me some names and I might remember.

NQL: Okay, there’s Portillo’s. And Murphy’s. Hot Doug’s.

AJ: [laughs].

DS: I got one across the street from the Metro but that’s not what I’m thinking of.

NQL: Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Damn, what is that place called. I’ve stood in line at that place many times late at night.

DS: And there’s a place down the road here called Chili Bowl or something.

NQL: Ben’s Chili Bowl! Yes, that’s good stuff. Apparently Bill Cosby is a regular there.

DS: Yeah, that’s what we were told.

NQL: Going back to what we were talking about earlier before, although I would love to keep talking about chili dogs, now people are here at the venue most likely to see you. That has to be some added pressure.

AJ: Yeah, I guess so. Whenever it’s a show that you’re putting on, you’re so much more involved with the whole set up of it all. With the bands that are on tour with you, to the press promos, you’re just much more involved and invested. So I think it’s a lot more rewarding when you have those shows and they go well. And this tour, places like Washington where we haven’t been, or like Denver, we’ve had great turnouts and it has been really cool.

NQL: What could you tell me about the music scene in Australia?

AJ: Australian bands were always kind of straight ahead rock. Kind of rough and tough rock bands. It has only been very recently where there has been this kind of dance music scene and we’ve sort of had our footing in there. We’ve always been a bit of a “live” band playing at all the live venues and we’ve always played with a lot of indie rock bands. And there wasn’t much out there like what we were doing and now it’s a really big scene, it seems. We’ve had a lot of recent success there. And you know, there's also bands like Cut Copy whose album is doing really well. It’s kind of all crossing over to the mainstream. And we kind of left when it was on the cusp of happening because we started touring, and now it’s kind of taking over.

DS: At the same time, we kind of all do very different things. Although everyone in that scene sort of gets clumped together.

[At this point, I had a really awesome question to ask, but someone was banging on a bass drum during sound check and it really screwed up my train of thought.]

AJ: Do you want anything to drink?

NQL: Uhh, sure.

AJ: Let’s see..there is Coke and water.

NQL: Coke will be fine, thanks.

DS: Can you get me a Coke, too?

NQL: [hands me a Coke]. Thanks. You guys are all pretty energetic on stage. Is that something that’s hard to maintain night after night on the road?

DS: It used to be tougher. It does get a bit strange. But now it’s not so bad because we have a good crew of people that we’re working with. And they make it a lot easier for us. We just sort of get to the venue, check our email, do sound check, check email, play, check our email, then get on the bus and check our email. We just get into a routine.

AJ: I guess having energy on stage has never been a problem. As we play more shows, we get more confident, and the more confident you are, the more free you are on stage and not be so worried about what you’re playing. And that allows for a lot more energetic show and for us to do random, stupid things.

[Daniel left the interview at this point to go tend to sound check duties, I believe.]

NQL: I’ve never really had any inkling to be a musician but I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to be on the road and tour.

AJ: It’s a lot of fun. And the thing is we’re just now releasing an album internationally. And in Europe we had a lot of shows, and it’s just good to make the most of it until we’re jaded later on. [laughs].

NQL: When the album comes out and is reviewed by certain sites that have a lot of influence for whatever reason, how much will you pay attention to those reviews?

AJ: It’s just something that you have to deal with. We’ve had a lot of good reviews and we’ve had a lot of bad reviews. I think that it’s easy to take it personally but you just have to have confidence in what you are doing and you can’t be affected by it because that’s just how it is. I know personally I’m not too affected by it, but I always read reviews of the band and I can tell if the criticism is valid or if it’s not. You want good reviews in all the important publications but it just doesn’t always happen and that’s just the way it is.

NQL: When you get off the stage, can you immediately tell whether it was a good show or a bad show?

AJ: Umm, sometimes, yeah. It can be hard because you have a different perspective of what’s going on onstage. The way it sounds onstage is different from the front. And obviously the crowd is a part of it and they help determine when it’s initially kind of good, if the crowd is reacting well to it. You know, it’s really bad when shit fucks up, or something breaks on stage. When stuff like that happens and you can’t really do anything about it and I think those are the times when you just have to make something good out of it because I think people, even though you hate seeing things go wrong, they appreciate that “chance” for things to go wrong. That’s what makes things interesting about a show.

NQL: What does the average American need to know about Australia? Besides Paul Hogan.

AJ: Yeah, yeah, we tend to play up that angle in interviews and try and tell people that’s what it’s like, with kangaroos on the streets and it’s just a big desert. But what a lot of people don’t know is that Melbourne, where I live, is a very European city, and it has a really big art and music scene. For live music and lots of different types of art, it’s just a really strong and creative city. It’s like a lot of other cities, but there are still elements outside of the cities in the suburbs that I’m sure you could hit a lot of the stereotypes and clichés out there. But Daniel is from Sydney, so he’d probably have other views. It’s kind of interesting because Melbourne and Sydney are kind of the two main cities where everything is sort of happening in Austrailia. Sydney is a lot bigger and really kind of crazy. Melbourne actually really reminds me of Chicago in some ways. What else…we have beautiful, amazing beaches and the food is incredible. One thing I do find is that the coffee in Melbourne is still the best in the world. I’m a big coffee person.

NQL: Me, too.

AJ: We are always hunting for good coffee when we’re on tour. I’m always obsessing about it.

NQL: So what’s it like being in the country with the worst coffee?

AJ: Well, so far there was a great place in San Francisco right near the venue we played. I haven’t had a chance yet in DC yet to find anything. There’s a site called Coffee Geek that’s like a map of good coffee across America that helps us out.


This Week's Shows in DC

Thurs 5/15
Serj Tankian @ 9:30 Club 8pm

Cut Copy, Black Kids, Mobius Band @ Black Cat 8pm

The Sword, Torche, Stinking Lizaveta @ Rock & Roll Hotel 8pm

Fri 5/16
DeVotchKa, Basia Bulat, Fancy Trash @ 9:30 Club 8pm

Los Campesinos!, The Aquarium, Pash @ Black Cat 9pm

Local H, Lions, CTC @ Rock & Roll Hotel 8:30pm

The Points, Mas Y Mas, Big Bobby & the Nightcaps @ Velvet Lounge 9pm

Sat 5/17
The Speaks, Monako @ 9:30 Club 6pm

Junior League, John Bustine, Garland of Hours 9pm

The Long Blondes, Drug Rug @ Rock & Roll Hotel 8:30pm

Koko, New York Times @ Velvet Lounge 9pm

Konkrete Jungle DC @ DC9 9pm

Sun 5/18
Alice Smith, Res @ 9:30 Club 8pm

Bishop Allen, The War on Drugs, Deleted Scenes @ Black Cat 8pm

Yo Majesty, Innerpartysystem @ Rock & Roll Hotel 8:30pm

Tony Scheer Trio featuring Anton Fier (The Feelies/Lounge Lizards/Golden Palominos) & Rob Jost, Sean McArdle, 2090 @ Velvet Lounge 9pm

Mon 5/19
Wye Oak, The Dead Science Yukon @ Black Cat (backstage) 9pm

Pela, Fever, Red Racer @ Rock & Roll Hotel 8pm

EAR PWR, Hot Lava, Hermit Thrushes @ Velvet Lounge 9pm

Tues 5/20
The Helio Sequence, Pattern is Movement @ Black Cat (backstage) 9pm

Temple of Bon Matin (improv psych from Philly, Spirit of Orr/Bulb), Ca$h $lave Clique, Martin/Powell/Verrastro Trio (Ayler-esque free jazz from DC, mem. of Barkitecture/Kohoutek) @ Velvet Lounge 9pm

Call Me Lightning, Carol Bui, The Coats @ DC9 8pm

Wed 5/21
X, Detroit Cobras @ 9:30 Club 8pm

Suns of Guns, Pontiak @ Black Cat (backstage) 9pm

Pup Tent, The Midgetmen, The Misguided Lemming @ Velvet Lounge 9pm

US Royalty, The Mary Onettes, The Blackout District @ DC9 8:30pm


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cut Copy -- Abbey Pub, Chicago, IL

When it’s 6:30 in the evening and still as light out as it was three hours ago, the last thing you really want to be doing is sweating to death inside a small venue, waiting for an opening band to appear on-stage. But, when the bands in question are Australian indie-dance favorites, Cut Copy, and blog buzz juggernaut, Black Kids, do you really even have a choice? I didn’t think so either, which is why I chose to attend their early show at the Abbey Pub on May 7, the later show having been sold out for the past few weeks.

With sunlight streaming in from the large windows near the merch table, I felt a little weird drinking a beer and people-watching before the show started. To me, hipsters are like vampires, and seeing them out and about in droves during the early evening hours was a bit of a shock. Who knew plastic thrift store grandma glasses diverted their eyes from the sunlight so well?

Black Kids - Photo Credit: Anna Deem

Black Kids took the stage promptly at 6:30, with singer/guitarist Reggie Youngblood mumbling “We love you” into the microphone, as they tore into a new song from their soon to be released debut album, Partie Traumatic. For all the buzz Black Kids have amassed, the crowd didn’t seem to care much, as I only counted roughly four people nodding their heads along to the music. Maybe they were a bit startled by the HUGE tour bus parked outside the Abbey Pub. I guess signing to Columbia Records does have immediate perks.

Black Kids - Photo Credit: Anna Deem

Regardless, I don’t blame the crowd for their blasé reaction. Black Kids were, for the most part, a huge disappointment. Hype is a tricky thing, but when certain websites have billed your band to be a mixture of The Go! Team, Arcade Fire, and, uh, Motown, you better fucking bring it each night. Don’t get me wrong, Black Kids played well together and appeared to be having fun on-stage, but it was even more clear in a live setting just how much they’re cribbing their sound from their influences. Let’s just say Reggie Youngblood owes Robert Smith a hefty check for stealing his vocal style. And those backing vocals? Please Kids, Prince was doing that shit back when you were the Black Babies. As much as I enjoy Black Kids’ catchy pop sound, I wasn’t sad to see them walk off-stage forty-five minutes later.

Black Kids - Photo Credit: Anna Deem

The crowd thickened with anticipation as Cut Copy began to set up for their set. Having only been familiar with Cut Copy for the past few months, I was a bit startled to see such a large following anxiously awaiting them. The Aussie quartet took the stage a little after 7:30 and launched right into “Out There On The Ice,” a stunning synth-driven track from their new album, In Ghost Colours. The front row of hipsters went crazy, waving their arms in the air, swinging their hips, and clapping along. Cut Copy brought the element that Black Kids had been lacking all along: stage presence. With sweat pouring off their faces, they jumped around and played and sang their hearts out, only pausing to tell the crowd to “Go fucking crazy.” And they did, turning the Abbey Pub into a mess of sweaty, writhing bodies. Cut Copy mostly stuck to their newer songs (such highlights included “Lights and Music,” “So Haunted,” and “Far Away”), occasionally throwing an older track into their set-list to massive cheers and applause.

Cut Copy - Photo Credit: Anna Deem

Although the night started off on a bit of a sour note with Black Kids, it was clear as I walked out of the Abbey Pub, with my ears pounding and my feet completely sore, that Cut Copy stole the show out from under from the blog buzz band. And really, that’s the way it should be. Internet hype only goes so far, but bands that are genuinely talented will always prevail at the end of the night.

Cut Copy - Photo Credit: Anna Deem

--Anna Deem

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