Archive: June, 2009
There are few people in rock having as much fun putting out spirited songs that evoke such warm audience responses as Bob Schneider. There are the lulling tracks where Schneider welcomes you in, seemingly speaking directly to us. The slight twang in his guitar and the guileless lilt in his voice directing us towards life's greater pursuits. Tunes like "Love is Everywhere" and "Changing Your Mine" are strengthened by an unassuming nature that stems from the sincerity of his delivery, his earnestness perhaps why all his songs are so well balanced. The soft sound of the steel drums ripples through "Slower Dear," while a trumpet calls through the building atmosphere during the vocal pauses. His voice on "Come With Me Tonight" rises powerfully with the composition before gently falling away, his delivery alternating further through a nuanced sweeping cast. His more raucous tracks ' and there are many ' never unravel. Tracks, like "Tarantula," are merely better expressions of Schneider's mood at the time, rather than anything not derived from the honesty of the conversation being witnessed.
Bob Schneider, 9 p.m., $25-35, w/ Jason Shannon and Charlies Mars, Downstairs at World Caf' Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400. $25-$35.
|Photos by Patrick Rapa|
I'm the queen of the world. I bump into things.
What can I say? I was totally psyched to see Norwegian ass-kicker Ida Maria kick the North Star's ass and she delivered. Her whole band brought it, actually. It was particularly spectacular to hear her pull off the smoky vocal acrobatics that make Fortress Round My Heart such a powerful piece of work. Damn. It was shocking to see the entire house sing along to "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked." Guess that's the single. I thought "Oh My God" was the big one. No matter. Pretty much every song felt like a hit.
They sent me a Kindle 2 to try out. It's due back in 4 days. This is gonna be just like The Amazing Race.
The Kindle's got a weird, clumsy little brower that tries, sometimes successfully, to make the web readable on its ghostly monotone screen. Meaning... You can read City Paper on a Kindle! Sort of!
Monday: Norway's Ida Maria is a clever Scandinavian rocker with a spirit much higher than her country's position on the world map. She's stumbled upon a sound more inspired than her angry chick contemporaries. Apparently, Pat Rapa can't wait.
At the North Star Bar, 8pm, tickets are $12-14.
Tuesday: Telekinesis are indie power pop from the Northwest. They sound and look like Death Cab ' OK maybe slightly more attractive. Read K. Ross Hoffman's write-up.
At KungFu Necktie with An Horse, 8pm, tickets are $10.
Wednesday: Erratic vocals and bright arrangements set the tone for The Dirty Projectors. Their new album Bitte Orca is being praised all around as one of the year's best, and their live shows never disappoint.
At the First Unitarian Church with Vieux Farka Toure and Skeletons, 8:30pm, tickets are $13.
Thursday: Entrancing indie rock from Philadelphia, the Capitol Years possess a sonic element that elevates them above many of their peers. Like the Fleet Foxes without the Americana influence.
At Kungfu Necktie with The War On Drugs, 8pm, tickets are $10.
Friday: Harlem Shakes make New York hipster jams skewed across an electronic landscape.
At Kungfu Necktie with Free Energy, 7pm, tickets are $10.
Saturday: Rye Rye is 18 years old, but her rhymes make her sound like a 14 year old girl I would have avoided in the school hallways for fear of being bitch-slapped. She's be the first artist to drop an album on M.I.A.'s new label N.E.E.T.
At the Barbary with Thunderheist and Mad Decent Djs, 9pm, tickets are $8
Sunday: YES! Harry and the Potters, the pioneers of Wizard Rock return to Philadelphia once again performing every tale this side of Hogwarts. Note the early start date, we gotta get these young wizard children in bed by 9.
|photos by Mike Pelusi|
Gleeful pogoers vs. tomato pie.
Do not disrespect the in-store. Sure, it may not be the same as a sweaty club filled to capacity with gleeful pogoers. But free beer, chips, pretzels and tomato pie at 3 p.m. sounds pretty swell too, doesn't it?
Gratis snacks and brew were just the icing, though. The real reason to show up in Manayunk on this bright Sunday afternoon was Cincinnati quartet Wussy. This was their only Philly appearance in support of their third album, self-titled and, wouldn't you know, their finest work yet.
Despite amassing a remarkably assured discography, Wussy have remained on the fringes of indie-rock, the places that Coachella and Pitchfork generally bypass. I think it's because they specialize in what I call 'small rock.' Their music feels provincial, all about people and places that you can tell are important to them. They emphasize their inherent musical chemistry, rather than buff up the sound with ear-bending production. And while they may not be revolutionaries, their music hits a sweet spot that more overtly ambitious acts rarely reach.
All this was clearly apparent at Main Street Music on Sunday. The lead duo of Lisa Walker and Chuck Cleaver (former main man for the Ass Ponys) dominated with their tough guitars and pleading vocals. And they made for compelling, contrasting frontpersons: She, lithe, red-haired and tattooed; he, burly, grey-beaded and also tattooed. Meanwhile, bassist Mark Messerly and drummer Joe Klug kept things moving without stealing the spotlight. Still, you couldn't help but recognize Klug's enthusiastic beat-pushing and Messerly's ingeniously melodic bass lines.
Their brief set emphasized the Walker-led songs from the new album, including 'Muscle Cars' and 'Maglite.' Cleaver sang 'Death by Misadventure.' Like all their best songs, these are catchy, driving and haunting all at once.
And because it's an in-store, there are moments of genial intimacy you don't get at most other shows. My girlfriend served as de facto band photographer when Messerly handed his digital camera to her early in the set. And they closed with my song request, the title track from their debut, 2006's Funeral Dress. This is perhaps their quintessential song, where queasy dread and something like joy come together, united by the riff from 'Teenage Kicks.' 'Counting every second you're alive/Knowing it'll never come again.'
|Look, a guy holding a Kindle.|
They sent me a Kindle 2 to try out. It's due back in 5 days. This is gonna be just like Gone in Sixty Seconds.
Been reading Oscar Wao. It's a little much. But I do like the Kindle's ambidexterous handling. Reading in bed is easy, thanks to little thumb flicks taking the place of full-arm page turning. Man, that sounded lazy.
The really interesting thing I've been checking out is the newspaper function. For $.75 I bought the current issue of the New York Times and flipped through the articles in all the sections. It didn't look like a newspaper ' the pages were bland pdf-looking things ' but it read like one. Everything seemed to be there.
And for a second I envisioned what the Amazons did: The future of newspapers would be a handheld device like this where you download your morning paper to read on the train or what have you. Too bad people think "information wants to be free," though. Sad face.
Anyway, Kindle, that little pause and blink between each page gets a little grating. I mean, if it can't be helped, that's cool, but it seems a touch Comcastic. In a bad way.
Brought the thing to Fergies last night to get a little reading done before meeting friends. Later, I passed it around. Everybody touched the screen, partly because they were expecting a touch screen, and partly because the Kindle's not very normal.
You remember how when you used to see digital watches on display at, say, KMart, there would be these little plastic pieces stuck to the screen saying 12:34 or what have you? The idea was to make it look like the watch was on without draining the batteries. That's what the Kindle screen looks like. It doesn't look like it's on. In fact, you can't really shut it off, far as I can tell. You just stop fiddling with it and it goes to sleep. The screen doesn't light up. It doesn't sound like there are any fans inside. The Kindle can go 30 hours without charging, which is nice.
Thanks to some tech support from the nice people who sent me the Kindle, I was able to download some books onto the thing (they gave me $30 store credit). I picked up The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. It took about a minute, maybe less, to have it on the device and ready to read. I also downloaded short "free sample" versions of a bunch' of other things, mostly short story collections.
There are somewhere in excess of 300,000 titles available for Kindle plus newspapers and such. That's actually not that high a number. Flipping through the search results for "short stories" I found:
- a bunch of literary anthologies, including many current ones: Best American, O Henry, etc.
- a ton of things that have been public domain for a long time: Dickens, Hawthorne, Bierce. These were priced cheap, often $.99.
- a surprisingly large number of erotic stories collections. Where there's internet there's porn, I guess.
Tomorrow: I read! From the Kindle! This is pretty exciting right? No? Oh.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the exhibit "Pathaways to Unknown Worlds," which is up at the Institute of Contemporary Art and pays tribute to jazz legend/Afro-futurist Sun Ra. Because of that whole word count thing, I didn't mention that I'm smitten by all of the exhibits that are currently up at ICA, not just "Pathaways." My favorite is the one that's simply lining the walls between the first and second floor ' "Third Space" by Odili Donald Odita. It's a massive, kaleidoscope-y painting that takes cues from Op art, in that if you stare at it long enough it looks like it's moving. (No, I'm not stoned. If you're not familiar with it, read more here.)
The coolest part about this piece, I think, is that Odita used house paint to make this ' 115 shades of it. You can see more images from the exhibit here, and should check out the "Dirt on Delight" exhibit while you're at it.
Through Dec. 6, free, Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th St., 215-898-7108, icaphila.org.
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