Chris Pureka returned to my school last night to play "Rock The Stacks" during our Spring Previews weekend. She played here last spring, and I was excited to see her return since I missed last year's performance.
Generally, I am not a fan of female folk music. I don't like the prevailing vocal style or the similar guitar work that the women use. However, Pureka has won me over with her beautiful singing voice, intense lyrics, and engaging banter.
She played for an hour and a half, drawing songs from her multiple albums and threw in a Bruce Springsteen cover ("I'm On Fire") for good measure. She cracked jokes inbetween all her songs. It was a bit odd to jump from banter to songs - the vast majority of Pureka's catalog is extremely depressing. In fact, she joked that the last song she played was the only happy one in her repertoire. She talked about how a friend sums up indie music by saying her record didn't go platinum, but rather went rusty can. She read aloud a letter she received asking her to try out for Miss Massachusetts. She kept the audience in stitches - if she hadn't, we might have all been in tears by the end of it due to her lyrics.
Her performance was near perfect - the acoustics in the library are perfect for this kind of performance. Pureka is a gifted guitarist, and her gravelly vocals complement her subject matter very nicely. Overall, it was a pleasant, low-key evening - one I wasn't particularly expecting to enjoy but ended up loving.
Say Anything at James Madison University, 2.25.08.
Say Anything played a one-off show at the end of their tour at JMU. The opening band was a local jam band called Electric Baby. They played for an entire hour and it was difficult to not tear my ears off. Luckily I was able to doze off for awhile until they finished.
The show was advertised as reserved seating, since it was in a theater. However, as soon as Electric Baby left the stage, the audience was allowed to move about. Of course, this quickly turned into people rushing towards the stage, where there was not enough room for everyone. We decided to stay towards the back so we could see and just stand at our seats.
As Say Anything took the stage, the recorded intro to "Belt" played through the speakers, and the band tore into the track. The set was roughly as follows:
Skinny, Mean Man
The Church Channel
Baby Girl, I'm A Blur
Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too
Every Man Has A Molly
People Like You Are Why People Like Me Exist
Alive With The Glory Of Love
An Orgy Of Critics
The band had incredible energy throughout the set, and Max Bemis alternated between being congenial with the audience and ridiculing them. The crowd varied in the songs they knew - some people clearly had only heard ...Is A Real Boy, while others seemed to be newcomers. I was surprised to hear "The Church Channel," since Hayley Williams' voice is such a large part of the song. However, Bemis handled it well and the song was not lacking. Overall, it was easily one of the best shows I have seen in a long time.
Sherwood, Houston Calls, The Higher, & We Shot The Moon at the Masquerade - Atlanta, GA 2.23.08.
We Shot The Moon took the stage at 7:15 PM and rolled their way through a quick set that included four songs from the EP (all but "Julie") as well as two or three newer songs. The band was working well as a group, seeing as how the lineup is still being solidified. Jonathan Jones still knows how to work a crowd, and his singing was near perfect.
After a quick break, The Higher stepped up for their set. I'll admit it, this band is a guilty pleasure of mine. Unfortunately, singer Seth Trotter is much more nasal live than recorded, and sounds like he's really straining hard to hit his notes. You'd also think that a band with such high octane songs would be more active onstage. To their credit I do think they were a bit more interactive than the last time I saw them. Nonetheless, they are still fun to dance around to.
I'd heard all kinds of good things about Houston Calls' live show for awhile now, so I was pretty excited to see them, and they did not disappoint. They were very high energy and continually working the crowd. The room exploded when they began playing "Exit, Emergency," and things never slowed down from there. The band closed with "Bob And Bonnie," who were apparently in attendance that night.
Sherwood took the stage with their usual sunniness and charm, and played a very brief set - only about 45 minutes or so. Songs played included:
Middle Of The Night
We Do This To Ourselves
For The Longest Time
The Best In Me
The Town That You Live In
Holiday (Get Up Kids cover)
Never Ready To Leave
Song In My Head
To my dismay, the entire crowd stopped moving with the Get Up Kids cover - no one seemed to recognize the song! However, their set was very good, even if it was so short. I don't think I will ever get tired of going to see this band.
Brand New at the Commonwealth Ballroom, Virginia Tech 11.29.07.
Brand New played a solo show at Virginia Tech on an off day from their tour with Thrice and mewithoutYou. The stage setup included two drum kits as well as a freestanding drum, and the lights were exclusively yellow and white.
The show began with a half hour of Jesse Lacey alone onstage with an acoustic guitar. He did not address the audience until a brief mumble about colleges and "We are Brand New" before launching into Soco Amaretto Lime.
Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself (Morrissey cover)
Play Crack The Sky
Two Headed Boy Pt. 2
Soco Amaretto Lime
Jesse then exited the stage and returned with the rest of the band for the remainder of the set. The songs were delivered with much screaming rather than singing, but that style works for many of Brand New's songs, especially the tracks from The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me. The setlist was:
Welcome To Bangkok
Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades
Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't
Jaws Theme Swimming
The Archers Bows Have Broken
You Won't Know
Sowing Season (Yeah)
There was minimal band/crowd interaction, except for when Jesse expressed concern over the actions in the pit. He also introduced Limousine as a song about a tragedy near his home, and dedicated it to the school, as Virginia Tech is a "school that knows tragedy."
On a number of the songs, Brand New's crew joined them onstage to play extra instruments, often with multiple people per instrument. It's really incredible to watch them do so.
The band quickly left the stage after Sowing Season, and the belligerent crowd began chanting for Seventy Times 7. Eventually Vinnie Accardi came back onstage and began the slow buildup of Untitled. He left and then brought the rest of the band back out with him to finish the song. At the end, everyone left the stage except for Lacey, who remained at the mic to say, "Hey Chuck! It's Marvin. Your cousin, Marvin Berry! You know that new sound you're looking for? Well listen to this!" before leaving.
Overall, it wasn't the best show I've seen Brand New play. However, Brand New's average set is better than most bands' best sets, so I'll continue to go see them every chance I get.
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals At DAR Constitution Hall, 10.30.07.
There were no opening bands on this date, and people were still filing into their seats as Ryan Adams and the Cardinals took the stage. They began without fanfare, and played three or four songs before Adams even addressed the audience. Even then, all he said was a simple, "Hi, we're The Cardinals." The night was divided into two sets, with an intermission-like break halfway through. The majority of the material was from Adams' last two or three albums with The Cardinals, and included:
why do they leave
spacewolf's birthday song
please do not let me go
the sun also sets
when the stars go blue
shakedown on 9th st
goodnight hollywood blvd
encore: easy plateau
After about five songs, Adams stopped and announced that it was time for JG's nightly joke ("I went to a hospital cafeteria. They were serving broken leg of lamb.") and that it was also guitarist Spacewolf's birthday. So a punky birthday tune was sung, and then the set was resumed.
There was a lot of fake smoke throughout the show, and there was also a black backdrop with hundreds of pin lights that shone various colors during the night.
There were long breaks between many of the songs when Adams spoke into a mic to his band's earpieces. The audience took these opportunities to shout requests, eventually irritating Adams enough that he went offstage to get a megaphone. He then proceeded to shout at the audience, "No! A little more to the left. Cross your arms like that! Be a different color! Lean the other direction!" Unfortunately, the audience never took the hint. There was even one man who shouted for "Summer Of '69." The rest of the crowd immediately gasped and booed him.
Although Adams was not very interactive, his performance was perfect. Despite downing a number of beers and other beverages, he was on pitch and wonderful to listen to. I would definitely go see him again.