Friday, September 7, 2012

September 2012 gigs

165. Bad Vision, The Tote, 1/9/2012
I like this band.

166. Messed Up, The Tote 8/9/2012
Piercing vocals, smart guitar, smiling drums, new songs, that are soaked with reverb.

167. Nathan Hollywood & Spencer P Jones and the Escape Committee, The Tote 8/9/2012
Nathan Hollywood provides a dark singer songwriter sound. Spencer P Jones lines up the Tequila's bought for him by his audience, has got what seems to be a new guitar, and the guy's on fire, playing all the songs you love to hear.

168. Fergus and Geronimo, Jaill, Maxwell's 11/9/2012
Fergus and Geronimo

It's fair to say I didn't love Fergus and Geronimo. They're a party band with three backing singers, that seemed to miss a little depth.  Jaill travelled all the way from  Milwauke and they've got a good sound coming from guitar, bass drums, keys and Theremin. Whiney voiced power pop with all the hooks you need, especially coming from lead guitar. Well constructed songs, with good harmonies and a dash of noise: you can't argue with that?! Sadly for the band who traveled so far, there was almost more people on stage in the audience.

169.Ronnie Spector - Beyond the Beehive, City Winery 15/9/2012
Ronnie Spector
After being in NY for one week, I'd only managed to see 1 gig. So when the tears were running down my cheeks during Ronnie Spector I don't know if I was so relieved to see some live music or whether Ronnie Spector was amazing? The audience of the City Winery on 155 Varrick Street can be described as wealthy oldies. But I didn't care. Ronnie has still got it! The voice, big hair, the legs, the moves, the sass. But she's also got the story- In picture: projections of her images forming a historical pictoral slideshow. And in content: This was the show where we hear about the early years in Spanish Harlem, her tight family, her rise to fame and how Girl Group singers were not considered artists, but some man's creation.It moved through name dropping the stars who she grew up with and who wrote songs for her.  We hear of the years of abuse endured from her former husband, alcoholism and coming through it. There were many highs and many lows, and Ronnie took the audience on the roller coaster ride, at times breaking down when telling her life story. But there was no time to dwell as Ronnie also sang a number of great songs throughout the show. Yes it was a show: Taking cues from her Ipad, Ronnie told her triumphant overcoming adversity story and who doesn't love those? With top class music interspersed, backed by a solid band, it was an ultimate show. And she is the ultimate New Yorker: very multicultural background, from the mean streets, made good, been through the worst, come out and top, and then great songs on top of that. Ronnie said it herself: "You can go to hell and back and still return. Ronnie Spector will not be erased!" No she will not! A courageous effort with brilliant results. I witnessed Rock and roll royalty tonight. Ronnie Spector Behind the Beehive is my gig of 2012. 

Note: Ronnie Spector did not have permission from Phil Spector to include certain songs in the show.  Needless to say, the encore was great, oldies standing everywhere, clapping and everybody enjoyed it. The last song was 'I Can Hear Music'.

170. Cool Serbia, Apache Dropout, King Prom, Death by Audio, 16/9/2012
King Prom - whose members are in several other bands

After the heights of seeing the best gig of 2012, nothing can ever compete. Since there's no point in comparing apples to oranges, I shan't and I won't. King Prom is a 3 piece and whilst they seem to lack good songs, or good playing, it's good to see a raw band. Apache Dropout are a 3 piece garage band, who were a tighter outfit, with a good bass and guitar player and had a number of good songs, and who are worthwhile catching. Not quite Goner standard though but I'd get their record. And Cool Serbia sounded highly influenced by Brit pop with a twist of psych. 2 guitars and a drummer.
Cool Serbia

171. Kelly and The Hermanos, Rodeo Bar, 17/9/2012
Country style singer with a voice as smooth as Norah Jones, singing originals and covers, backed by a solid band, which featured electric bass, pedal steel, drums and guitar. The crowd dug it and the room was full of women. The performance in included a whistle solo. This really seemed to be a crowd pleasing moment.

171. Party Folk, Rodeo Bar, 19/9/2012
Admittedly I wasn't here for the music. Party Folk are a neo folk style band with Mandolin and Banjo, 5 string bass, and two strong singers. It's a mish mash of Broadway musical, folk, pop. Needless to say it wasn't for me. However the brisket sandwich is good here.

172. No Bunny, Bad Sports, Xray Eyeballs, Living Bread Deli, 22/9/2012
Xray Eyeballs
Xray eyeballs guitarist is the son of Sam, who owns the active deli, which for tonight has been turned into a band venue. That explains the electricity problems, and the extraordinarily long queue.  Sam guards the counter as his place fills with Brooklyn hipsters. Xray eyeballs look good. Their look: beauty, diversity and bad taste. And sound wise, they have pleasant songs, but they have no hooks which made it hard to get into their material.
You can see Sam in this one peering behind the glass cabinet

Bad Sports on the other hand are about substance and style. They're a tight three piece. Everyone in the band knows their purpose, can play their instrument really well and knows they're capable. They've got good shouting vocalists, good singing, good melodies and great arrangements. There's just no messing around here. Even with the power outages, Bad Sports play like they live for it. They're excellent.
No Bunny and crowd

All the kids were here to see Nobunny, whose catchy tunes seem to have reached the hearts of a generation of the hip. Nobunny arrived, wearing black underpants, a black mask which appeared to be made out of tape, plants for ears and a leather jacket. Then he strutted, working the stage,  singing his catchy songs, backed by the Bad Sports. Needless to say the crowd went wild, crowd surfing, punching the air to their favourite NoBunny songs. By the end Nobunny was sweating in places you didn't even know you could sweat in. And Sam and his son probably had to clean up the mess.

173. The Dirtbombs, Jeff The Brotherhood, Mark Lanegan Band, ATP I''ll be your mirror, Pier 36 NYC, 22/9/2012

174. Gonerfest 2012, Cooper Young Gazebo, Buccaneer, Hi Tone and Murphy's, 27th-30th Sept, 2012.

On the grapevine, I heard some complaints about a weak line up for the 2012 Gonerfest but it wasn't so bad...
Monsieur Jeffrey Evans@ Cooper Young Gazebo
I was told that Jeffrey Evans is a singer/songwriter who kinda has legendary status in Memphis (Gibson Bros and '68 Comeback). His voice is booming, his guitar sounds are dirty, with a strong blues and rockabilly influences. His banter is long winded by at the same time oddly charming. It's loose, but it's cool and there's no finer way to commence Gonerfest 2012.

Thursday night at the Hi Tone
Moving Finger (Memphis)  - It's tough to remember the things that weren't outstanding. Making matters worse, I didn't take notes. All I can remember, is this group has some pretty funny facial expressions from the guitarist. In any case, it was good that they opened up the Hi Tone gig, seeing as they're from Memphis right?

Jack Of Heart(Perpignan, France)
Guys from France dress up as androgynous 70's rockers and play  60's style Garage with psych tinges. Their moments of overdrive were magnificent, but I just wished the lead singer put a pair of pants on.

Slug Guts (Brisbane)
Another band who dressed up, was Slug Guts from Brisbane. That's dressed up as The Birthday Party in appearance and sound. Many Americans in the crowd loved the exoticism of the Australian band which I would never be able to understand. One man in the crowd mentioned it "was like the Birthday Party except without atonal drone, and the other weird shit that made the Birthday Party interesting". At the very end of their set they raised an American flag.

Heavy Times (Chicago)
Heavy Times were a punchy quartet, with a bunch of what looked like metal dudes playing the poppiest, catchy songs ever. No nonsense, I wish I had bought their record.

Golden Boys (Austin)
Excellent upbeat pop music with hooks galore, and many singers. Everyone had fun.

Oblivians (Memphis)
No-one had a bad word to say about these guys. I suppose this band is a supergroup and witnessing Greg Cartwright or Jack Oblivion - in full action, well it's pretty cool stuff.

Friday Afternoon at the Buccanneer
Anomalys (Amsterdam)
Tall Blonde Dutch guys play kinda rock/punkabilly style music which did not seem to reach me in Memphis.

Toxie (Memphis)
This was one of my favourite band. You could say they're an indie pop band with sweet catchy songs, sassy frontwomen and so on, but the real highlight is the lead guitarists musicality. Excellent stuff if you like this kinda thing.

No Bails (Kalamazoo)
No Nonsense Garage rock band from a place I'm told has a good music scene.

Friday Night at the Hi Tone
Nots (Memphis)
Solid band with an impressive guitarist.

Bad Sports (Denton)
Bad Sports were excellent. Good songs, good delivery. Another solid band who seemed to alienate themeselves from their audience, saying how they're the best band in the world. When I spoke to a Swiss audience member she said she disliked the bass player for being so arrogant. I'm guessing the attitude is all part of the stage presence thing, given their name is Bad Sports. Surely they can't love themselves that much?

Gary Wrong Group (Mobile, Alabama)
This was the first band I couldn't give any attention to. I just didn't get it.

Bits of Shit
Conversely, I gave all my attention to this band. Bits of Shit did what they do, the Melbourne kids got into it, the American dudes got into it, and this was one of the first bands to stir up the crowd.

River City Tanlines (Memphis)
I was told to go see River city Tanlines for one main reason: Alicja Trout-the front woman and lead guitarist of this band.  Sadly I don't remember too much of the night except that I definitely see how she is cool.

Nobunny (Memphis)
Fun, ludicrious, wearing a leather mask tonight, backed by the Bad Sports with sunglasses on. Crowd favourite. Hometown hero.

After party at the Buccanneer
Buck Biloxy and the Fucks - took a while to get started but in the end it was fun.

James Arthur's Manhunt - best I'd seen them
Anomalys  - Not for me

Saturday Afternoon at Murphy's
White Mystery (Chicago)
Excellent brother sister two piece where she, as guitarist and singer has got it!

AAA The New Memphis Legs(Memphis)
The weirdest thing: You're from a foreign land, you're in Memphis seeing a whole bunch of rock bands, in what is the holy land of rock and roll and this one band whose  members include an Oblivian,  James Arthur's Manhunt are playing obscure Australian 60's garage covers, and having fun to it.

Chemicals (Portland)
The lead singer wears a lab jacket and the whole band go for it.

Chicken Snake (Staunton VA)
Refreshing for the Saturday afternoon, a change of pace. A band whose members are from New Orleans which give the event some more character with their brand of swamp rock.

Cecilia and the Sauerkrauts (Portland)
Cecelia does pop -playing keys and singing, and the Sauerkrauts wear fake Lederhosen. Fun stuff with novelty factor.

Lenguas Largas (Tucson)
By now I had left the venue, on my way to a record shop before closing time, when their siren song lured me back 200 metres to Murphy's. Lenguas Largas have good songs, 2 drummers and that's all i can vaguely remember.

Saturday at the Hi Tone
White Wires (Ottowa CA) - Poppy Canadian act that didn't really grab me. Others found it was their Gonerfest favourite.

Ex Cult (Memphis) 
 Formerly Sex Cult, but had to change their name, they were described as "The Eddy Current Suppression Ring of Memphis". It's fairly apt.

Persuaders (New Orleans) 
King Louie fronts this three piece that includes two flying V's that V-off each other. Great songs, amazing presence. The guy has just got it. They said they mucked up their best song, but I was blind to it. One of my favourites.

GG King (Atlanta)
The only other band I really couldn't watch.

Mad Macka (Brisbane)
I suppose you'd call this Australian styled pub rock and roll by a guy who looks like a bogan in a chesty bond singlet.  But it was intense and slightly scary from this Onyas guy-mainly because it looks like he's gonna glass you. But what seems like normal for this Australian was unique to the American audience. This was the only act of it's kind and the crowd really dug this.
no chesty bonds here

Spits (Seattle)
Easily described as Ramones styled punk rock. Except these guys are wearing costumes and make up. The crowd dug it.

After Party at the Buccaneer
Manatees (Memphis)
Screamy Memphian punk issues band impresses and moves some.

Cyclops (San Francisco)
Fun 2 piece band where both members wear a giant eye on their heads as the lady drummer sings lead and guitar fills in the gaps. A bit of fun.

Missing Monuments (New Orleans)
These guys started at maybe 4, going through until 5-5:30 and pumped out the best set of the Non Goner Fest bands, and perhaps even the Goner fest bands.  Great songs, awesome lead guitar moments, and King Louie owns being the anti hero frontman.

Hamish Kilgour
I only caught a song but it seemed that Hamish had written a song about being in Memphis. 

Reverend Wilkins
I thought that I might not be moved because I'd seen it before, but I was wrong. The Reverend Wilkins bought his 2 daughters and grandaughter and a band with him. Played almost the same set as he did a year ago and it was still brilliant. Engaging, moving, real, they had the crowd clapping along.

As the man[maybe Ross Johnson] who introduced Jeffery Evans on Thursday evening looked around the audience, he made one observation; "Man there's a lot of white people here!" The crowd laughed because it's true. Gonerfest is such a white festival, but in Memphis the majority of its residents are black. So as music tourists, we come from all over the world to get a glimpse of Memphis culture during Gonerfest.  Gospel Soul is an important and awesome inclusion for a rock and roll festival and it was refreshing to have some variety in the line up.

Sorry for my paltry review as  I was reliant on my memory since I was too lazy to make notes but I can say this. I LOVE MEMPHIS. And Gonerfest was fun, I saw 37 bands in 4 days and I still didn't manage to see it all!  it had a consistently high standard of music and it was great to meet all those awesome people who are positively crazy about music in a town that loves it.

Attending Gonerfest - Stuff for next time:
 1) Make notes on the same day of the gig! After some time, one band blends into another... Never rely on your memory.  
2) Don't go too hard too early or you'll miss out on the good stuff that happens at the end. Gonerfest is gruelling so pace yourself.
3) Get a whole lotta people together to share cabs
4) Make it down to Shangri La, Xanadu and the Drum Shop
5) Mix up your activities because Memphis is a great place to do and see stuff.
6) Stay at Holiday Inn
7) Don't order a hash brown and a potato pancake for breakfast since they're almost the same thing
8) It costs $1 for the trolley and 1.75 for the bus
9) Check out WEVL again
Thank you Goner for Gonerfest 9