Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Late Wrap-Up

So this is a bit behind schedule but I wanted to let you know how a couple of shows were. First of all, I caught M. Ward, Jenny Lewis and Conor Oberst at La Zona Rosa Sunday night. It was a pleasant change to be at La Zona after the previous couple of shows at Emo's. When I stepped inside the La Zona my first thought was brrr, it's chilly in here. My next thought was wow look at how much personal space I have. You can imagine after being jammed teet to teet inside Emo's sweatbox that being in a venue with working A/C that doesn't oversell tickets was very pleasant.

But that's enough venue bashing I suppose. Although I was marginally familiar with M. Ward I really didn't know any of his music very well. Let me tell you, he blew me away. Playing most of his set solo with an acoustic guitar that dude has some serious chops. At first it made me think of a sad/haunted Jack Johnson. His music really showed the power of restraint. He did end up switching to electric guitar but it still wasn't like a wanky show-off guitar playing.

More review after the jump...

After M. Ward came the lovely Jenny Lewis who played mostly from her latest album, Acid Toungue but also some cuts from her work with the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat. Ms. Lewis' sound is what I like to call California country with a hint of Boogie Woogie blues in there. In other words it sounded rootsy without sounding to trite or depressing. She did not play any Rilo Kiley tunes but did manage to slip a cover song in the set. Closing out here performance with...wait for it...Love Hurts by Nazareth...for reals.

Last but certainly not least was the jump boogie, country-fied indie rock of Mr. Conor Oberst. Even though his latest album is a solo disc, two of the songs he played he didn't even sing on. One of them was sung by the drummer, the other by one of the guitarists. Again, no Bright Eyes songs were played by Oberst but he did slip a cover of Paul Simon's Kodachrome. I must admit I left before the encore so I didn't get to hear the 3 artists play anything together but I suspect that they did. Give me a break I had to work at 9am the next morning.

Which, bring me to Monday. So I worked from 9-5 after getting roughly 4 hours sleep then headed to Emo's around 10:30ish for the last, in my marathon, of shows. I have been praising Cut Copy's In Ghost Colours all year long so obviously I had to catch their show at Emo's. I arrived around 11:00 and the venue was already packed to the gills with people dancing their asses off to the darker, more industrial sounds of The Presets. All of my work friends were much more excited about The Presets than they were about Cut Copy and after witnessing the crowd at this show I can see why. Those goes really brought the noise and had the whole floor jumping and their sound was so intense that when Cut Copy came out they really sounded very light and poppy.

Don't be mislead though both acts were really good, even if the Presets sequencer got unplugged during a peak in their performance virtually halting the party atmosphere. The crowd was very forgiving, clapping, jumping and singing along all without being directed to do so...can you tell I hate being directed at a concert? I know you're gonna think I'm lame but again, I left before Cut Copy played their encore but I again I had to work about 7 hours after I left the show. Oh, I forgot to mention the lights. Cut Copy and the Presets had some serious dance lighting with them. Including those funky ceiling lasers and panels of light bars behind them. It's something I've never seen in the bombed out warehouse that is Emo's outside stage.

All in all it was great to go to a show every night from Thursday through Monday but it really did wear me out. Especially considering I had to work in the morning Monday and Tuesday. I would give ACL a much lower rating than SXSW as far as the atmosphere in the city goes. ACL is much more for the casual music listener, who enjoys chatting/making out/taking pictures of themselves more than actually watching/listening to the band on stage. SXSW is where all of us serious music geeks, who like to study equipment and listen for flaws get together and geek out over who is more indie and who is a sell-out...there's also a lot more free shhhh.

In conclusion, La Zona Rosa was the best venue I went to and Jamie Lidell was my favorite show.

I was going to promote the Presets with a video but they are on an imprint of Universal Music Group, my favorite faceless corporation in music. So they won't ALLOW plebians like me to embed their SUPER valuable YouTube clips. Let them pay radio stations and pray that MTV starts showing videos again. I'll be busy promoting independant artists with an eye on the future of music, rather than a foot in its dinosaur past.

Here's a clip from Jenny Lewis at La Zona Rosa from the same point of view that I saw this:

Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue video via YouTube