THIS YEAR I want to do things right.
There isn’t a list of New Year’s resolutions floating around in the tiny confines of my third story bedroom, but if there was (after a million desires on sanctification) I would resolve to keep better track of ink stams and ticket stubs.
So I’ll blog my way through the weeks, and once a month you can catch a recap of the clubs and concert halls where I’ve been living.
January was a slow start, but I promise, things will heat up in the next few days and months.
Oh, and if you want to share your own live experience in a relatively concise and well-written fashion, email me.
January 14, 2010 Jars of Clay: The Birchmere
…But the music was anything but strange. Jars of Clay has grown up over the years. No longer making elegant rock from their dorm room, the quartet seems to be feeling the weight of their status as father and Christian musical icons.That especially comes out in the sweet lullabye, “Boys (Lesson One)”
Hasseltine talked in quiet soft tones about the need for Christians to stay involved in Haiti and the idiocy of Pat Robertson. There were the en-vogue terms about storytelling, and about asking yourself how your story fit into the story of Africa. It might come off a little heavy from time to time, but the simple sincerity and care that Jars of Clay shows can’t be denied. Call Hasseltine the Bono of the world formerly known as CCM, and you wouldn’t be far off.
I haven’t heard the new album , so the 9 tracks that made an appearance through the show served as a listening party for me. There’s an electronic-tinge to the new tunes that translates well, it’s smoother and a bit more produced, but a sound that still kicks pretty hard. Jars of Clay can still hit the cues; they’re incredibly talented musicians that weave beautiful harmonies, killer hooks and a sound that filled up the small room. The old songs got tuned up. Frail turned into this swelling, distorted composition dabbling on the side of post-rock, Liquid was just as raw, and Love Song for a Savior can still bring tears.
David asked if Jars should be giving us, “some kind of challenge,” and while there wasn’t much in the way of surprises throughout the show, there weren’t too many false notes either. These musicians have transitioned into the role of fathers and social activists. Though they don’t push the musical envelope, they push other things.
January 16, 2010 Brian Fallon: Black Cat
It became less like a concert and more like what would happen if Fallon decided to come hang out in your living room for the night and just play music. The originals were premeditated and didn’t deviate (no matter how much that kid with the glasses might scream for Mary, The Blues) but Hause and Fallon seemed to have decided on the covers that afternoon with songsheets and tabs resting on the music stand.
It was a set that was long, sloppy, and absolutely perfect.
Hause and Fallon’s encore was all covers, closing with Social Distortion’s Ball and Chain, and leaving the stage after 1 a.m. Walking out of the show with a few friends and Scotland, it just felt like you had seen something special. Gaslight Anthem has firmly entrenched itself in minds and hearts, and with this upcoming release, it shouldn’t be long before that sound spreads to bigger stages. That’s a bittersweet expectation though, because Fallon occupies the small stage so well. He’s a 29-year-old who doesn’t take success for granted, whether he’s just hanging out by himself, or sending a sold out club into waves of moshing, fist-pumping fury (like at the 9:30 Club last fall).
January 21, 2010 Freelance Whales: Black Cat
These kids from the boroughs have earned their fair share of blog buzz and hype over the last year. They’ve got the twee-tastic backstory, band members met via Craigslist, the album’s based off of dream journaling, and they get hot for any and all quirky instruments. It’s the type of stuff, sniveling-indie kids drown themselves in each day on the metro (yes, that was a nod to you Craig), which is only appropriate because the Freelance Whales cut their streets on the streets and train platforms of New York.
There’s this bland, paint-by-the-numbers aesthetic that creeps into every section of the elaborately constructed LP. You want to like the opening track, with its slow building banjo and dramatic swells, but at the point of any type of climax, the song just levels off and moves on.
I told a friend that,
“it’s like taking all the little parts that make things “indie rock” in people’s head and putting them into a band. i think of them as what would happen if a brain-dead surgeon spawned an unholy child from between the loins of the arcade fire and the pajamas of owl city.”
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