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Archive for the ‘CHAPPO’ Category

[ATTENDED: January 24, 2020] The Retinas

2020-01-24 20.04.27_previewThe Retinas are a Philly band. I hadn’t heard of them before this show.

They are a guitar/bass/drum trio with a great sound.  In fact sometimes there were sounds and I’m not sure where they were coming from–loops?, samples? pedals? who knows.

They opened with a synth line (from where?) while singer Tom McHugh sang an opening lyric in his distinctive voice.

I loved the way the song built with some really impressive drumming from Anthony Filgnitti–whom I was standing in front of.  I couldn’t really see bassist Andy Silverman because of the people next to me, but his low end was essentially to anchoring the overall sound.

McHugh had great stage presence.  It helped that there were a lot of people  there to see them (at least McHugh said there were–and I actually saw someone with a Retinas jacket in the crowd). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 20, 2019] Cage the Elephant

I was rather surprised that Cage the Elephant were co-headlining this tour with Beck.  I assumed that Beck was the clear headliner–and yet the (younger) crowd seemed to be there more for Cage.  I also didn’t realize that they had collaborated recently on the song that this tour was named after).

But the biggest confusion for me was that I didn’t know who Cage the Elephant were.  They were part of that trend of bands that had three words with The in the middle. Like Pedro the Lion, Jukebox the Ghost, Minus the Bear and Young the Giant.  I assumed that I had no idea who Cage the Elephant were or what hey even sounded like.

But then I was surprised to discover that I really liked two of their songs but had no idea it was them: “Ready  to Let Go” and “Mess Around.”  After figuring that out, I was looking forward to them but really had no idea what to expect.

Well, they went on about ten minutes late (which was annoying, since they’d had 30 minutes to get ready).

Their stage set up was like bleachers–a guitar drum and keyboards on the top and a guitar vocals and bass on the floor.  Then the lights went down and the stage burst into flames! (more…)

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fish SOUNDTRACK: CHAPPO-Future Former Self (2015).

chappoCHAPPO opened for The Flaming Lips, and I enjoyed them enough to get their CD. Since I bought it, I have listened to it nonstop.  While I enjoyed their live show, I never expected the subtle nuances that were present on the disc.  It’s entirely possible that the band’s sound got lost somewhat in the huge open-air stadium that they played in.  They also rocked pretty hard live, so I was surprised by the more psychedelic sound they achieved on disc.

I feel like they achieved an interesting mix of psychedelia and Britpop, which I would never expect.  The album opens with “Hello” a gentle psychedelic song with whistling and a jaunty melody.  I like the unexpected riff that comes in the verse before returning to the really catchy opening melody again.  About half way through the song changes into something bigger—a very cool switch which turns the seemingly simple ditty into something even more interesting.

“Hang On” is wonderfully catchy single. Opening with washes of keyboards and a cool guitar riff, the vocals are gentle and then the bridge comes in and the song lifts to a new level. And then the chorus comes in and things get even bigger. It’s wonderfully crafted.  I saw this song live and while it was good live, and it was definitely fun.  After a quiet moment (with interesting processed vocals), the big chorus returns and you can’t help but sing along.

“I’m Not Ready” switches gears pretty radically, with a chugging riff and 70s synths thrown over the top. The chorus is much more guitar heavy but is not heavy itself–sort of the way the Cars sound.  “I Don’t Need the Sun” shifts gears again with more interesting keyboard sounds sprinkled over the sunny guitar lines.  The lyrics to this one get stuck in my head all the time.

“Run Me Into the Ground” opens with seemingly contradictory keyboard notes and guitar riff. They come together nicely into a pretty verse which all melds into a huge grabbing chorus.  “Mad Magic” opens with a kind of disco/reggae guitar line and Alex Chappo’s falsetto for certain notes.  I love the lyrics to this one too: “My wife is indispensable she will succeed because she has to she will succeed with magic.”  A multilayered chorus really complements the opening riffs and the lines “we’ll be floating while they are coasting” is very cool.

“Hey-O” has a simple catchy gesture with a group singing Hey-O Hey-O that reminds me a bit of Of Monsters and Men.  “Something’s Ringing” is a delicate ballad with a lot of falsetto (and I find Alex’s to me unusual pronunciation of some of the words strangely compelling). I like the way the odd helicopter sound ends the song as it takes off.

“Orange Afternoon” has a sleazy guitar sound and vocal that reminds me a bit of Suede. But the chorus changes direction entirely getting  brighter and brighter.  But moments of that sleaze come back and intersperse interestingly with the bright guitars.

“Ghetto Weekend” is a trippy song to end with.  There’s talking going on, and also a languid guitar.  But it’s interfused with guitar soloing which is echoed and at times seems to not stop. But the switch to the bridge is a great change of pace from the mellow opening—it a great trick, the kind that CHAPPO does so well.

I can’t think of another band that I saw live without knowing their music and was subsequently even more blown away by their album which of course makes me want to see them again in a  more intimate venue.

[READ; June 22, 2015] Fish in the Dark

I’m not sure if I would have known this play was by Larry David just by reading it, but since I knew it was by him, I could tell unmistakably that it was David’s writing (and voice) while I was cracking up.

One wonders why David chose to write a play as a opposes to a screenplay, but then, by doing this it allowed him to get away from his normal characters (even if these ones act just like the characters in anything else he has done).

This is the story of a family.  Norman (played by Larry David) is a put upon husband.  His wife doesn’t want to sleep with him anymore (she has a very funny rejoinder to him in the first scene).  His mother is overbearing (and hates his wife).  His brother, Arthur, is wealthy, recently divorced and is living it up thinking only about himself.  And he just received a phone call that his father is one the verge of death. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2015] The Flaming Lips

2015-08-07 20.46.40I have been a fan of the Flaming Lips for a pretty long time.  I saw them in 2000 on The Soft Bulletin tour and it was one of the most exciting concerts I had been to.  Wayne Coyne was a stellar frontman, and he spoke of love and happiness and togetherness and it was an amazingly positive experience.  So, when they broke out “She Don’t Use Jelly,” their goofy novelty hit from 1993 (which I was surprised by), and they released hundred of balloons into Irving Plaza, the whole atmosphere was filled with joy.

For that show, it was Wayne on vocals and gong (he played the gong a lot), Michael Ivins on bass and Steven Drozd on everything else.  For a drummer they used a video feed (of I believe Steven).  It was weird but it worked really well.  And even fifteen years later I remember it very fondly.

Well, in fifteen years, the Lips have gotten bigger, technology has gotten cheaper and more portable and Coyne’s ambitions have gotten more psychedelic.  And this was the most fun I have ever had at a concert when the set list was no where near one that I would have put together myself (more on that later).

So for this show, there were giant costumed characters on stage, there was a gigantic wall of video screens, there were confetti guns (mounted as well as hand held) and there were balloons (much bigger balloons than last time).  And yes, Wayne crawled out in the hamster ball. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2015] CHAPPO

2015-08-07 19.50.02I bought tickets to see the Flaming Lips at Musikfest (opening night headliners!).  By the time the show came around it was announced that there would be two opening acts.  Local Bethlehem band Voirvoir and Brooklyn band CHAPPO.  I had listened to the Voirvoir album streaming and I really liked it.  So I decided to get to the show at 6 to check them out.  Well, I didn’t realize how chaotic Musikfest was.  So between the parking and the shuttle bus and finally finding the venue I got to the band as their final chord rang out.  I didn’t even get to actually see them, just head then end of their last song.

But since I liked the stream I listened to, I bought the album… and it is fantastic.  I will post more about it shortly.  They are also playing again (3 times!) on Saturday at Musikfest, so I may try to bring the family down to check them out.

Since I was then plenty early for CHAPPO (whose music I didn’t stream because I knew I’d be seeing them), I walked around the grounds and checked things out.  And by the time I got back to the seats I was dehydrated and feeling a little unwell.  So even though I was in row H, I sat further back in the shade with a cold water.  And at first I wasn’t too impressed with CHAPPO.  The songs were good but I think the mix may have been off (or, more likely I wasn’t feeling great).

2015-08-07 19.24.10But I was watching the people up front having a great time, and I enjoyed that the singer was throwing things into the audience (turned out to be tubes with confetti (fun!)).  And I enjoyed watching the guitarist use a bow in his guitar (how many times this summer?).  And after a few songs, some water and the shade creeping into my section, I decided to head up to my seat.  And that when CHAPPO won me over. (more…)

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