Monday, July 17, 2017

Midsummer Housekeeping - The Missing Writeups

In my late-May outlook on upcoming shows, I enthusiastically promised a great summer. That has held true in that the shows have been killer, but I can't help but feel guilty to have missed writeups on a few. I did take a few notes at the shows though, and otherwise can go from memory- because at any rate, it feels necessary to at least touch on these before moving on

*BIG NECK FEST - The Hussy, Wood Chickens, Fresh Flesh, No Hoax
High Noon Saloon, 6/2/17


The Pines, High Noon Saloon 6/15/17 (w J Hardin)

Live music has a way of making a person feel a little bit less alone. Such was the vibe I had entering this show at my home-away-from-home. Local troubadour J Hardin had already taken the stage, with a soft orange lamp casting glow over his worn cowboy boots and open guitar case. Being accustomed to more..aggressive..bands, it was a bit jarring to not have to yell towards the doorman and bartenders, as well as to see the entire floor covered with tables and chairs instead of thrashing bodies. I loved it though after the initial adjustment- the audible clanking of bottles and occasional snippet of conversation only added to the ambience. All said, the context was ripe for Hardin and his "Coyote Brother" bandmate to ease out a heartfelt, at times foot-stomping, set of authentic backcountry strummin'

The Pines took the stage after a short layover with shimmering acoustic guitar and lush keyboard arrangements. The bass was mixed heavy, and one guitar occasionally asserted itself with an overdriven pickup. It took a bit to pick up on what they were putting down, but once I was on-board the dynamic play was admirable. In addition, the band featured two singers; one with a near-falsetto approach and the other with a John Prine-esque conversational tone. They worked this contrast well, and incorporated a lot of onstage banter about woodchucks and the summertime absence of college kids.

The show's relaxed and intimate atmosphere overall proved to be a welcome change-of-pace.

The Joy Formidable, High Noon Saloon 6/21/17 (w/ Eagle Trace)

I came to this one right from work, and unfortunately missed Eagle Trace. Fortunately though I walked in just in time to feel like I was being hit by a train as The Joy Formidable took the stage. While they adhere to certain pop sensibilities, in a live setting the band is clearly anchored to sheer noise and volume. This was the last stop on their current tour, and the impression was that we were getting everything they had left in the tank.

The songs, of course, where there. But nearly every one broke down into violent, fall-on-the-stage feedback, and nearly every one led into a strangely polite, very British introduction to the next aural sledgehammer.  I didn't have the wits about me to take notes on this show, so I can't comment on specifics, but I certainly remember the pummeling noise and conversational banter leading to a very amusing contrast.  

Deerhoof, High Noon Saloon 6/29/17 (w/ Proud Parents, Solid Freex)

I again missed the beginning of this show while being stuck at work.  I wish I could tell you how awesome Solid Freex are, but for the meantime we have to settle for a friend's assessment that "they rock" and "they sound like a Madison band..."

In the meantime, however, Proud Parents are becoming my pick as most exciting local band to see.  They have a very accessible way of bashing out songs that just gets more enjoyable every time.  It isn't so much that you have to be in on the joke to "get" them, because the band seems to effortlessly expand the joke so that it encapsulates everyone.  Proud Parents drop mortar shells, whether they are euphoric vocal harmonies or pinpoint guitar leads.

I'm intimidated to even write about Deerhoof.  I don't know that I've ever had more fun at a show.  The way that they combine rockin' grooves, oddball song structures, and daring vocal style is unlike anything I have seen.  They brought a virtuostic drummer and equally adept guitar master.  As a band Deerhoof operated as a nearly Lovecraftian entity; altering the very way we perceive music.  For the daring, they provide a rare bastian into the subconscious depth of fun itself.

*Wood Chickens stole this show, and will be covered in an upcoming review of their brand new album COUNTRYCIDE- stay tuned!

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