Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bad, Nationwide: The National live

25 APRIL, 2014
The National

Portugal. The Man
What better welcome for The National to Santa Barbara could there be than an alarming gray sky? The looming precipitation did nothing to dampen the spirits of those who attended this, the second show of the season, at the historic Santa Barbara Bowl. Last time we caught up with The National, they were a study in grace under pressure, occupying the stage directly before Paul McCartney at last fall's Outsidelands, in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
The band gave a thorough accounting of themselves, opening with an agressive take on "Don't Swallow The Cap" that blew off all the studio gloss, and set the tone for the night. Including that track, they went on to pull more than half of their newest LP, Trouble Will Find Me, to seed the set, then leavening it out with their formidable back catalog. For me, the emotional core of the set came midway through with an impressive trifecta of "Afraid Of Everyone", "Conversation 16", and "Squalor Victoria". In reference to the middle song, there's nothing quite like the thrill of hearing the Bowl crowd sing the chorus: "I was afraid/I'd eat your brains". A later treat was hearing "All The Wine" and "Abel" from 2005's Alligator. When the rain finally came down, circa "Bloodbuzz Ohio", it was almost a relief, finally breaking the suspense. The band could not be dimmed, and rose to the occasion, delivering a memorable set.

Don't Swallow The Cap/I Should Live In Salt/Mistaken For Strangers/Sorrow/Sea Of Love/Hard To Find/Afraid Of Everyone/Conversation 16/Squalor Victoria/I Need My Girl/This Is The Last Time /Santa Clara/All The Wine/Abel/Slow Show/Bloodbuzz Ohio/Pink Rabbits/England/Graceless/Fake Empire
(encore)  Mr November/Terrible Love/Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks
{courtesy of Setlist.FM)
From the great state of Alaska, Portugal. The Man has come a long way in the four years since we caught them at Coachella. Their most recent LP, Evil Friends, produced by Danger Mouse, added a funk element to the proceedings, and they played a fiery set, flitting between new material and cherry picked gems for the faithful that came early and packed the pit for their set.

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

    Once A Creek, Now A River: Waxahatchee live

    17 APRIL, 2014
    Waxahatchee returned to LA on a layover between Coachella weekends, filling in the middle slot of a bill with Hopalong and Title Fight presented by FYF Fest at the Ukrainian Cultural Center. Since last we saw the band in December, headlining a bill with Swearin' and Upset in Eagle Rock, they've made the transition to a four-piece unit. Building on the expanding sound of the Great Thunder side project, Waxahatchee now hits it full bore, the dual guitar attack lending an anthemic edge to the title track of "American Weekend" without robbing it of emotion. As long as Katie Crutchfield leads the charge, even the loudest song will be incisive, as evidenced by a jaw-dropping take on Cerulean Salt's "Swan Dive" that packed even more of a punch than the spartan original, if that could be possible. A charged "Coast To Coast", and hair-raising "Misery Over Dispute" were the highlights of the set, giving way to "Peace and Quiet", which was blissfully anything but. Anyone attending Coachella expecting an acoustic solo set is in for a bit of a surprise. The only question remaining is 'what's next', but given her voluminous output, one suspects the answer will come sooner, rather than later.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Burgerama III: sights and sounds

    22 MARCH, 2014
    Here's a small snapshot of the action from day one of Burgerama III, the Burger Records festival held in Orange County, with shots of  LA's Bleached, Detroit proto-punks Death, and hometown heros The Growlers.