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Archive for the ‘The Halo Benders’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 12, 2019] Built to Spill

After the last time I saw Built to Spill (which was amazing), I felt like I didn’t really need to see them again.  The show was excellent and I was right in front of Doug–an amazing vantage point.

Then he announced he was touring the Keep It Like a Secret album.  This is the album that introduced me to the band 20 years earlier and it has some of my favorite songs on it.  So yes, of course I was going to go see that.  It turned out that the Philly show was on a night I was busy (but I did get a ticket just in case–turns out my plans changed but then Babymetal announced a show for that night so I sold my BtS ticket for and went to Babymetal instead).  But this show at Starland Ballroom was going to happen the night before my plans anyway, so I grabbed a ticket for this show.

I have mixed feeling about Starland.  If you get there late–and it’s a popular show–forget about it.  When we saw Death Cab for Cutie, we were lucky to get in the door.  So for BtS I left really early and got there really early and was about the 17th person in the building.  So I had my pick of where to stand.

Last time I saw BtS, I was right in front of Doug Marstch, like right on the stage.  It was incredible watching him from so close.  And yet, due to acoustics, I could barely hear him at all.  So I told myself that this time I would stand back and enjoy the whole experience.  But things got the best of me.  First off, there was a gate, so I wasn’t going to be right up against the stage.  But more importantly as I stood back in a sweet spot, I watch all these tall people push past me and I couldn’t help myself, I had to grab a railing spot.  So once again I was right in front of Doug and his massive amplifier.  I could hear the vocals a little bit better than last time, but again, it wasn’t the same as hearing the full band.  And, honestly I could barely hear the second guitarist.  So, I have really learned my lesson for next time.  But again, it was so cool seeing him work his magic up close that I’m willing to overlook some things.

But NEXT TIME, for sure I will stand back.

Oh and check out this cool poster for the tour.

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[ATTENDED: April 26, 2018] Built to Spill

This was my third time seeing Built to Spill.  I had seen them as a five-piece and a three-piece.  And this show was another three-piece set up.

I thought it was strange that the drummer’s drums were set up off to the right of the stage instead of in the middle, but that was how they left them.  And, indeed, that’s how they played at Stone Pony with drummer Steve Gere off to the right and bassist Steve Albertini to the left.

The two guys don’t do a ton–that’s not their job.  They are there to anchor whatever Doug feels like doing.  And it’s amazing the way they can adjust to whatever he decides to do–jam, change tempo, whatever.  They’re an amazingly tight band,

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2016] Built to Spill

2016-10-08-22-25-14Fifteen years ago I saw Sigur Rós.  A few days before that show I was supposed to see Built to Spill, but 9/11 happened and I skipped BtS.  So here it is fifteen years later and I get to see Sigur Rós and BtS a few days apart once again.  I also happened to see Built to Spill almost exactly one year ago today, so it was fun to do it all over again,.

This was my first time in the legendary Stone Pony.  I was shocked by how small it was and how strangely laid out it is (quite wide and not very deep).  I could have been within a few feet of the stage but when I varied I saw that even though the ticket said 7, BtS wasn’t going on until 10, so I scoured the venue and a saw a small riser to the back right.  I went up there and stood in the front of it, effectively three feet above everyone.  And I had a perfect view of the stage, so I stood there the whole time.

And boy am I glad.  The floor scene was a madhouse.  I was right above what was essentially the only way in and our once the club had gotten really packed.  People were squeezing past this small opening all night long.  And during the third song, a fight broke out–punches actually thrown!–because someone got in someone (both men of course) else’s way.  I even beer or something thrown in my face.  Stay classy, Asbury Park.

Unlike the previous show, BtS was only a three-piece.  Last show I marveled at Doug Martsch including two other guitarists to share lead duties, but I loved the fullness of the sound. I wasn’t sure what I would think of the band as a three-piece (my friend Jay informed me of the trio set up a few hours before they went on, so at least I was prepared–although I was bummed that Jay couldn’t make the show).

I was a little unconvinced about the sound of the three-piece when the band started.  But that turned out to be a mixing issue.  The drums were too loud, the bassist was inaudible and then Doug was himself.  But by the second song it was perfectly balanced and sounded amazing.

And once the sound was perfected, it came down to setlist.  And that was amazing–this setlist was almost entirely different from my previous show.  (more…)

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pablo SOUNDTRACK: BUILT TO SPILL-Live (2000).

btsliveSoon after releasing “Carry the Zero,” Built to Spill released this, their first (and so far only) live disc.

This disc shows a jamming side of the band that their records up to now hadn’t really displayed (sure there was some evidence of the jam band within, but who would have guessed 2 songs on this disc would stretch to 20 minutes?).

The live set also shows a rather contrarian spirit in that there are only 9 songs in 70 some minutes and only 5 of the songs are actual Built to Spill songs.

The disc opens with “The Plan,” a great version of their most recent disc’s opener.  Then they jump right into Perfect from Now On’s  opening track “Randy Described Eternity.”  That song has a lot of parts and sections, and they do them perfectly.  They follow it with another song from Perfect, “Stop the Show” which also has multiple parts and again, they nail it.  These three songs were recorded in New York.  Brett Netson joined them for “Randy,” and “Stop” which really helps to flesh out those songs.

The next song is a cover of The Halo Benders’ “Virginia Reel Around the Fountain.”  And if it sounds very fitting for Doug, he was in The Halo Benders with Calvin Johnson before he started Built to Spill.  Then comes the centerpiece of the record–a 20 minute version of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer.”  And it is amazing.  He sounds enough like Neil to be totally respectful, without just being a rip off.  It’s probably the best version of this song I’ve heard (until I saw Neil do it this summer).

They switch gears to their first single, “Car,” a delightful 3 minute song.   And then, to fill out this almost all covers section, they play “Singing Sores Make Perfect Swords” a song originally done by Love as Laughter.  I don’t know the original, but it fits in with Doug’s style.  These four songs were record in Seattle.

There’s one song that was recorded in Denver, “I Would Hurt a Fly,” which is yet another song from Perfect, and is one of my favorite songs of theirs.  It does not disappoint.

The final song on the disc is a nineteen minute version of the song “Broken Chairs” (which is 8 minutes long on Secret).  They do the whistling section and a ton of solos.  Indeed, the way they stretch out the song out with guitar solos and noise (and the way the song ends with feedback) is really cool.  Netson joined them for “Fly” and “Broken Chairs” (which is why that ending solo is so intense.

It’ s a great live collection of songs and the sound is outstanding.  You’d never know it was recorded in different venues, either.

[READ: October 4, 2015] Pablo

Judging this book by its cover you would be correct in assuming that it is about Pablo Picasso.  But rather than being a simple history of the Art Master (the title of the series), this is a thorough recounting of Picasso’s life.  And what’s even more interesting is that the story is told from the point of view of Picasso’s lover and model Fernande Olivier.

And Fernande’s diary entries make up the bulk of the story and allow for a very personal look into the man and the stylistic choices that Picasso made over the years.  As the book says on the back, the authors show “how Picasso’s style developed in response to his friendships and rivalries.”  And of his rivals none was greater than Henri Matisse.  (The book also covers Picasso’s life before she met him too, of course).

The original work was published (in French) in four volumes.   This edition was translated by Edward Gauvin.

I especially like the way the book begins from the point of view of Fernande as an old woman, still alive and reminiscing about her life. (And yes, it’s amazing to realize that Picasso died in 1973…in my lifetime!).  (more…)

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