Modest Mouse is Back!

For Blurt Magazine:

Modest Mouse is back! Over 20 years have passed since their inception and the creative, lo-fi, explosive rock band toured in support of their newly released Strangers to Ourselves. Though the original line up that was Modest Mouse—singer/guitarist Isaac Brock, bassist Eric Judy and drummer Jeremiah Green—has been altered, added to, individuals briefly leave and return, the consistent member has always been Brock. Indeed, as the bombastic music and Green’s complexly delicate drumming are important elements to Modest Mouse’s music, Brock’s unique, delicate, gruff, lispy vocals have come to encapsulate Modest Mouse.

Since 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, it’s been an eight year wait for new material and the fans gathered this night at Babeville’s Ashbury Hall were ready for the band’s return. With an extensive discography to cover, Modest Mouse played mostly older fan favorites and the audience sang along to every song, old and new. Modest Mouse also returned with what has now become their live setup mainstay to create the level of noise expected from the seasoned musicians: two drummers (Green and Davey Brozowski), two guitarists (Brock and Jim Fairchild), two keyboardists (Lisa Molinaro and Tom Peloso) and a bassist (Russell Higbee). Unfortunately, Babeville’s sound system could not quite handle the musically stacked band but the sold out audience did not seem to mind as Modest Mouse drowned Ashbury with their sounds for two hours.

The converted church is a picturesque concert venue but too small for Modest Mouse’s fans as the hall was packed to the door with only standing room in the aisles remaining. Quite some time passed before the lights finally dimmed and Modest Mouse slowly emerged and approached their instruments. The crowd cheered at the seven members, yet one person was still missing. Once Brock walked onto the stage the audience exploded, to which Brock raised his cup to the fans. The band started the show with a loud bang, starting with new track “The Tortoise and the Tourist.” The loud number was a great opener as Brock shrieks the melodic chorus “so let’s walk on.” To my surprise, the next song was a personal favorite from popular album Good News for People Who Like Bad News, “Bury Me With It.” Once the first few familiar guitar chords were struck people cheered loudly and again sang along with Brock.

Green and Brozowski’s synchronized drumming was a show in itself as the two balanced drums and percussion and made it all look effortless. Brock took a break between songs to speak with the audience but his words could not be heard too well. After a few more songs, Brock had his mic replaced but it did not improve the quality; nevertheless, the band continued to play and the ecstatic fans continued to dance, sing and cheer them on. At one point, a fan grew so happy that he hopped and skipped up and down the aisle, singing along (his actions could easily be deemed “annoying” in such a small, hot space but his excitement was infectious as some couldn’t help but smile).

And the good spirits continued throughout the night as more than once the crowd filled the hall with their voices, either singing in unison with Brock or creating an unexpected call-and-answer moment with “The World at Large.” At one point Brock accidentally detuned his guitar for “Parting of the Sensory,” and of course it was his guitar that introduced the track. He stopped the band and addressed the crowd as he retuned, “see, what I did there was I was in tune, and I messed it up.” He started the song again and the rest of the night went without a hitch. And after a long night the band treated the Buffalo audience to a five song encore which was a bombastic close with fast, hard hitting and fun songs as “Dashboard” and “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box.”

A live show that excels just listening to the albums, Modest Mouse still knows how to incite sonic chaos.

***

Setlist:
The Tortoise and the Tourist
Bury Me With It
Dark Center of the Universe
Lampshades On Fire
3rd Planet
This Devil’s Workday
King Rat
Pups to Dust
Doin’ the Cockroach
Wicked Campaign
Parting of the Sensory
Custom Concern
Float On
Of Course We Know
Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
The World at Large

Encore:
Dramamine
Broke
Dashboard
The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box
The Good Times Are Killing Me

Are We Not MEN?!

Read Live Review @ Blurt!

WE ARE DEVO! What?! Devo Live? That’s right folks. I had the fortuitous fortune to see the iconic Devo in action. Their concert was inexplicably awesome! Well, ok, I did muster up a few words to describe the experience in my review above, have a read. But here, I’ll let the pics do the talking 🙂

All B&W shots were taken on film, 100 ISO; 50mm prime with the Minolta XG-1…
The color images were taken with a digi…

The Thermal's R Rawkin'

Read Live Review @ Blurt!

I’ve wanted to catch the Portland trio live for sometime now. I was uber excited to see that they were stopping near my fair ol city. The live show was great, Hutch, Kathy and Westin put on a great performance and left the audience aching for more…if you don’t know The Thermals you have lead a shamed life…SHAMED I SAY! Check ’em out and their new album Now We Can See.

M. Ward Rave’s On

I walked into Buffalo’s Tralf Music Hall mildly familiar with M. Ward’s musical stylings…I admit I knew: that I really liked his track “To Go Home,” he is part of the duo She & Him (probably the only act where an actress can ACTUALLY sing-who knew, Guinness Book of Records?), that he has produced several artists, and that every other show he has is sold out! So when the Ward decided to grace lil’ ol’ Buffalo with his presence…I knew that I better go. Hold Time is a great album and though some of his tracks from releases old and new were a wee bit too “country” for my musical tastes…Ward was amazing!

Check out my review of his performance and if you are not familiar with the talented musician (which you should be!), check him out here!

Photo note: I’ve been to Tralf before but this night it was packed and I wormed my way as close to the stage as I could get…a few heads were still in my way. All images were taken on B&W film, 28mm wide angles lens with the Minolta XG-1…

Circus…Nah, We Have British Sea Power

Article and Images Published w/ Filter

British Sea Power, Rosebuds
Tralf Music Hall, Buffalo, NY – 05.17.08
Filter Grade: 92%
by April S. Engram | 05.21.2008

(Gallery Below)

Who knew that a simple venture to see Rosebuds and British Sea Power at Buffalo’s Tralf Music Hall would result in an impromptu circus act including: a rubix cube master, a soccer ball, the tossing of audience members and acrobatics…all future concerts will pale in comparison.

North Carolina’s Rosebuds, Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, sharpened their pop melodies with their 2007 release Night of the Furies and created an album full of rocking, dance goodies that will make the most uncoordinated soul forget their two left feet and shake their asses. With just a guitar, keyboard and drums the duo (turned trio while touring) managed to create a loud wall of sound. The feel good tunes was just the “pick me up” the evening needed as onlookers sat on the floor in front of the stage and bopped their heads to Rosebud’s infectious, melodic sounds; but never fear, they didn’t stay seated for long. Crisp beckoned everyone to move in closer, get up and dance; the audience did just that.

Rosebuds fans were in the crowd and sang along with Howard and Crisp and danced continuously. Crisp even jumped into the crowd, gave Hamilton of British Sea Power a bear hug, greeted the first couple of rows of people, and returned to her keyboard as Howard looked on and smiled. Their infectious, warm personality and music made the show all the more enjoyable and the fan favorites were “Cemetery Lawns,” Boxcar,” and “Hold Hands and Fight.” For The Rosebuds’ grand finale—where Crisp invited people to jump on stage and dance—was their upbeat “Get Up Get Out.” However, before Rosebuds were through with the song they brought on the stage their merchandise/photographer extraordinaire, Tim the rubix cube master who solved the jumbled puzzle in a few minutes. The crowd cheered, all members of The Rosebuds returned to their instruments and finished in style, chanting the chorus to British Sea Power’s “No Lucifer” to close with a bang. All of this excitement got the crowd ready for British Sea Power.

The crowd packed the front of the stage as the band: Yan (bass, guitar), and Hamilton (bass, guitar) switched between vocals and instruments, Noble (lead guitar), Wood (drums), Abi Fry (viola, backing vocals) and Phil Sumner (cornet, keyboards); walked out, immediately picked up their instruments and with no hesitation leapt into “Atom” from their latest release Do You Like Rock Music?. As fans happily sang along and danced feverishly, the crowd pleaser was the sweeping track “No Lucifer.” A fan shouted to another if he only heard that song this night, he would’ve been satisfied, that’s how good British Sea Power sounded. The band did not walk off the stage for their encore, they plowed through the last tracks, “St. Louis,” “A Rock,” and “Stop Wasting My Time.” And it is with the last song that the circus act came full circle.

As everyone played on, Noble jumped off the stage, stood on a chair in the back of the crowd when Tim of the Rosebuds pulled out a soccer ball and tossed it at Noble who head butted it into the crowd. Then the audience members jumped in, throwing the ball to Noble then Yan who kept the ball afloat. Noble then dropped his guitar on stage, placed his shoes on his hand, jumped back into crowd and proceeded to do a handstand. While Noble was having fun with the audience, all members from the Rosebuds climbed on stage, Crisp grabbed Noble’s guitar, Howard danced on stage and waved a lamp above his head while Hamilton tried to jump on Yan’s shoulders and the two fell to the floor, with Hamilton still playing his bass. But the song was not over yet, Noble grabbed an audience member and carried him to the stage then followed Hamilton’s lead and successfully climbed on the shoulders of Rosebud’s singer Howard. And Yan ended it all with a handstand on stage as Fry quietly put her viola away.

After all of the excitement British Sea Power waved farewell to the ecstatic crowd and closed the night. After it all finally quieted down the sound guy sarcastically shouted, “what, no encore,” how could they top that?

British Sea Power’s Set List:

Atom
Carrion
Oh Larsen B
Down On The Ground
Blackout
Waving Flags
The Great Skua
Canvey island
Lights Out For Darker Skies
Fear of Drowning
A Trip Out
No Lucifer
Remember Me
St. Louis
A Rock
Stop Wasting My Time

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“Tokyo Police Club!”

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Lo Fi Say Hi In Action

Article and Image Published w/Harp Magazine

With a recent modification to the original band name, Say Hi To Your Mom, Eric Elbogen bid farewell to the latter portion of his moniker and started 2008 anew. Since his last release, 2006’s Impeccable Blahs, Elbogen left the fair state of New York for Seattle, took a promo picture in a bunny suit, sung about the lovely girls in the Northwest and brewed a toasty new album, The Wishes and the Glitch. This recent fifth self released album (all of Elbogen’s releases have been released on his own label Euphobia) is garnering Say Hi praise for its more upbeat sounds and is capturing the ears of critics and fans alike. Out to promote Wishes, Elbogen has hit the road with drummer Westin Glass to invade a new state each night with his lo-fi sounds and quirky lyrics.

Primarily a one man band, the accompanying musicians change with each release and sometimes Elbogen travels solo, so it’s a mystery what the setup will be when you catch Say Hi on tour. Yet Elbogen was far from alone as he waited for his time to command the stage in the quite dank Soundlab. Bundled in sweatshirt and coat Elbogen relaxed while Glass occasionally stood and danced to some bad dance music (possibly to get the blood flowing to his legs, as no heat was circulating in the basement venue).

The opening act was a noise band who was not impressive for their sounds but for their choice to run clips of Twilight Zone as they played. However, the awe quickly abated when the clip proved to be approximately 6 minutes long and the same images looped for their full 30 minute set. Finally it was Say Hi’s turn and the crowd was also eager for the band to work their magic as they quickly gathered before the stage.

With Twilight Zone still screening in the background, Eric Elbogen set up his drum machine and looper, greeted the crowd, queued up the first track of the evening, “Zero to Love” from Wishes, and the rhythmic bass began pouring into the club. Performing mostly tracks from Wishes, Say Hi put on a solid performance, and after each song, Elbogen thanked the crowd then proceeded with the next song. He did not chat too often with the crowd but when he did, the mellow singer provided some laughs and the audience proved just as entertaining. When Elbogen asked how the music “tasted,” someone shouted “caliente,” to which he laughed and in a monotone voice responded, “Caliente indeed!”

Elbogen and Glass effortlessly leapt from one track to the next, from new tracks to oldies, and played crowd favorites. Among the songs performed were “Northwestern Girls,” “These Fangs,” “Zero to Love,” “Blah Blah Blah,” “Toil and Trouble,” “Back Before We Were Brittle,” plus a closing solo performance of “Let’s Talk About Spaceships.” The banter between Elbogen and the audience continued, people cheering after each track and shouting requests or praise. At one point someone demanded, “Tell us a story,” and Elbogen had to oblige.

He began telling the story of a die hard Say Hi fan who was eager to receive her Say Hi tote, the new design with robots on one side. Well, one fair evening, after a night of partying she felt nauseous while in the back of a taxi and had to… well you can guess what—right in the tote bag. As Elbogen closed his story with, “My soul was in that tote bag,” someone shouted, “Your soul was in a tote bag, that’s a silly place to leave it!” Elbogen laughed as suddenly a girl in the back of the room yelled, “Sorry!” It turned out that Say Hi’s merchandise purveyor was the guilty party. After some more laughs Elbogen and Glass played the last songs of the evening and closed before a delighted audience.

Don’t let the mellow sounds of Say Hi fool you into thinking that an equally “mellow” live performance will be in store. The mixture of electro beats, simple yet catchy sequences and hypnotic drumming combined with Elbogen’s tongue in cheek lyrics (who else signs about meeting a girl in the Laundromat and commenting that her “soap technique is pretty ill”?) and