Stolen Wallpaper

Words but a whisper, deafness a shout

My Photo
Location: Zeeland, Michigan, United States

Hi. I wish I had a job selling squirrels. They're so furry, and give you toothy grins. Unless they're rabid, in which case they will eat your face off and then find the rest of your family. That's not so good, I guess.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Live Music Log, January 2018

It occurs to me that any new readers might not know anything at all about me.  So, here's a lil recap. After a bad divorce, I crawled home from Arizona and lived in a cave for about a year.  Then it occurred to me that I could go see live music again, and I did, and then I did again, and again.  I reactivated my ancient emo blog to keep track of who I see.  I have managed to make some good friends, in and out of the bands, along the way.

1 6 18 SNOOZE CYCLE/KATE AND THE COLD CALLS/MAT CHURCHILL Rocky’s, Grand Rapids  A New Year's resolution, one I'm much more likely to achieve than weight loss, was to see different and more diverse acts.  This was first foot forward. It's a testament to the progress I've made this past year that I knew three people in a room I've never set foot in before.  Long, low, stage at the back, awkwardly next to the bathrooms.  First up, Mat Churchill, burly dude with a sensitive acoustic guitar.  Probably used to be in hardcore acts till he found his means of expression limited.  A thick Michigan accent away from being labeled outlaw country, like 19 Wheels at their most contemplative.  Occasional harmonies provided by buddies from other bands who just stepped up, sang, stepped back out.  Lots of lonesome laments in 3/4.  Excellent, atmospheric finger picking:  what if Paul Simon was from Newaygo?  Kate and the Cold Calls is an ad hoc band that should become post hoc:  the find of the night. Kate Crampton, Bill Chesney's former partner in Stepladders, with a distinct clear tone and point of view, a basic rockish four piece delivery system for some super swell songs.  Reminds me of the old local band Swinglove: what if Neko Case was from Grand Haven?  Nice harmony from her guitarist, highly dapper drummer.  Highlight tune I think called All I Ever Wanted Was A Lie.  Also Blink 182's Dammit recast as a plaintive ballad, and a ripping version of Black Keys' Gold On The Ceiling.  No web presence whatsoever, so keep your eyeballs peeled for any fleeting mention of this band ever and then GO SEE THEM.  Snooze Cycle:  a couple, man on drums and guitar simultaneously, very pregnant woman on vocals.  Ramshackle Stripes/Femmes vibe:  what if Matt and Kim were from Hudsonville?  Highlight: a swirling ditty called The World Is A Shitshow.  The crowd was very light at the end, but I was too tired from a long day to stay for the whole set.  But on the whole, Mischief Managed.  Good to see you, Herm and Justin.

1 12 18 DAVID BOWIE: A TRIBUTE with Matt Milcarek, Zoo Wave, Ghost Bunnies Rupert’s Brew House, Kalamazoo  My first full show at this venue, seedier than most in Kzoo, with a pleasantly medieval vibe and a truly repellent bathroom.  Matt(squared) aka Milcarek, who also planned this shindig, opened festivities with his trusty accordion, some appropriate makeup, and Five Years.  Best take:  Young Americans on acoustic guitar.  Zoo Wave, led by Abe Savas, is a new wave cover band made up of talented ringers from the scene, often jazz players, and they CRUSHED it.  Even just their soundcheck, Talking Heads' This Must Be The Place, was amazing.  Impeccable Sound and Vision, intricately cacophonous Heroes, apocalyptic Let's Dance, positively ferocious Scary Monsters that may have outdone the source.  Ghost Bunnies was good, but could never hope to match Zoo Wave, and so they didn't try:  kind of a brotastic take on Of Montreal, amiably spacey, like Zach Galifinakis fronting Kings of Leon.  Kept flubbing words:  hey dude, cheat sheets are your friend.  Standard millennial ramshackle affability, which is not to say unenjoyable.  And it's hard to go wrong with these deathless anthems to play:  epic singalong on Space Oddity and Starman,  Best bit:  a game run at Under Pressure.  Worth the drive.  Thanks to Ken for holding down the front couch with me.

1 13 18 Carrie McFerrin #14 Hilliards Corner Lounge, Hilliards  I knew going in I would be the only person there to actually see Carrie (not quite true in the end, her mom showed), so this was a moral support show as much as anything.  She is so comically confident that she didn't even really need it:  after spending all day with toddlers, what's singing in front of people but a vacation?   This is a large pole barn-ish room in BFE, the kind of place with deer hunting video games and fairground beer mirrors on the walls, but their talent booker is aggressively signing Kalamazoo's finest lately (Dooley and Big Dudee Roo have played there multiply).  Three sets, so I got to hear everything from her trick bag, from dusty early tunes to brand new shiny ones.  Neil Young's Love Is A Rose was nice.  Momma Said's "hell" became "you know where" for the mixed dinner crowd, which was indifferent but not hostile or impolite as they shoveled in the chicken fried steak while a woman inexplicably sang to them from the corner.  I overheard from the next table:  "the kids know the gun safe is always open, and there's hundreds of ammo rounds in there!" I grew up in the country, on a farm, in the most conservative county in the nation.  I am making no judgment here, I really am mystified:  why am I not like this too?

1 19 18 The Crane Wives #40 Moon Tower, Traverse City (house show)  So this one was a tad eventful.  Again, for new readers, I have a history with this band:  first album and then show that snapped me out of post-divorce funk, many many shows, friendship somehow developing instead of restraining order, etc. TC is a long way to go, but their current twin-electric touring MO means this was a rare chance to see them playing acoustically in an intimate setting.  I took a lot of back roads, enjoying the drive....but then about 40 miles south of the show, near Hoxeyville, my car threw up a red warning of death:  steering failure, pull over safely.  My power steering was gone.  No hydraulics, all electronic.  Rebooting did not help.  Choices:  A.  Pull over, call expensive tow truck, life goes to hell.  B.  Stop at next motel, figure it out in the morning.  C.  Wrestle with steering wheel for 40 miles to make it to the damn show.  I chose C because I am insane.  I got there (a gorgeous house in a secluded subdivision well east of town, with a high vaulted ceiling) with about ten minutes to spare, parked my folding chair right down front in an SRO crowd, and decompressed in the best of all possible ways.  Acoustic guitars and bass, cajon and one snare:  stripped to the studs, you can hear every nuance in these glorious songs.  The triple harmonies on Easier.  The catch in Kate's voice leading into an absolutely perfect Caleb Trask.  The mighty Margaret (along with turning me red by calling me out as the force for its resurrection). Volta and Daydreamer, evidence that the songwriting is only getting stronger as time goes on.  It's getting harder to be Alone Guy at shows as I actually make friends, but this band will always be an exception, because I am not alone.  I'm with them.  Got an emergency hotel room, took the car to a dealer in the morning:  $2,000.  Goodbye to pre-work lunches for the rest of the year.  But they gave me a brand new car to drive home with:  I'll never drive a car with eight miles on it again as long as I live.

1 20 18 SAMANTHA COOPER/FIONA DICKINSON Harmony Hall, Grand Rapids  Two Kalamazoo based artists who made the trek up to GR, cutting my usual Musical Commute considerably.  Fiona Dickinson is British, not sure how she's ended up here for so long, and she is a guitar wizard:  would make a fine addition to Public Access, or to any really good shoegaze act.  Her 4AD ethereality was completely swallowed by the trestle table indifference of the quaffers at Harmony Hall (small exception, the crowd I sat with, chock full of ludicrous talent.  That audience could form a killer band).  Intense, moody, lyrics barely audible:  like Olivia Mainville if she gave up on pop melodies completely.  Samantha Cooper is also excellent, but much more accessible;  Fiona is in her five piece band as well, and their harmonies were angelic.  There was a successful audience singalong set to a Wendell Berry poem, for God's sake.  Ancient melodies on modern instruments seemed to be the overriding theme.  Plants and Animals was a bouncy little Muppety ode to the things we eat to survive.  This was a session of secular church, and I left an offering in the plate.

1 27 18 The Accidentals #5 Corson Auditorium, Interlochen  I have not met these three young musicians, though a lot of people I know know them well.  But I am impressed and heartened by their national success while doing their unique West Michigan folk rock thing.  This show was a triumphant homecoming and a magical history tour.  Sav and Katie went to Interlochen's performing arts academy, and can be considered the biggest alumnae since Jewel.  Opening was two current students performing as Chamomile and Honey:  the female half, Summer Green?  Watch for her name, she's magnetic.  Then came "The Treehuggers:"  Sav and Katie's first band name, playing the White Stripes' We Are Going To Be Friends, the first song they ever played together.  This show had friggin' costume changes as the first half led through the band's history, and the second half showcased the monumental Sony album Odyssey as well as a few new ones.  The early juvenilia, which I was never quite sold on, was delivered with sincerity and skill, and requires my reappraisal.  So much power and skill in these youngsters, especially after a grueling neverending national tour.  Chicken dress!  Dause is the funkiest of Muppets.  I am not a big rap person, but Parking Lot NEEDS the energy of Rick Chyme to be the most fun thing in the playlist. New song Sleeve is a funktastic ode to an old jacket Katie lost and is the closest they come to a love song.  Nightlife was played with cello, violin, and harp, exquisite.  I am not quite Fam yet, but I am sold.  Thanks to Roo for her attendance, since she grabbed the garage door opener I left in the loaner when I picked my car up from the dealer.....