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Archive for the ‘The Fillmore Philadelphia’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 7, 2017] Mew [links to video shortly]

Back in 2005 or 2006, I read a review of Mew’s then new album And the Glass Handed Kites.  It was hailed as a minor masterpiece (and was also hailed as one of the worst album covers of the decade).  In addition to their complex melodies, what really won me over was singer Jonas Bjerre’s amazing soaring falsetto.

Mew is a Danish band and, remarkably, they have had the same lineup for almost their entire career (their guitarist Bo Madsen left in 2015).  So technically they are a three-piece, but live they were a five piece.

The best thing was how amazing Bjerre’s voice sounded–so much like the album, but even better.  And from the way he sang, it seemed effortless.

The band and venue were amazing and yet it was one of the less pleasant experiences I’ve had at a show.  Apparently Mew fans are all 6 foot 5.  And they are inclined to gather around the front of the stage essentially creating a six-foot barrier in front of the band.  That was bad, but what was worse was one of the die-hard fans.  I had heard a guy before  the show say that he thought there’s be 30 people at the show (there were maybe 150).  So did I. This is a pretty obscure band, and the fans are pretty intense.  So, the guy behind me sang along to every word.  Now I like this band but I don’t know every word–with Bjerre’s accent it’s not always apparent what he’s singing, anyhow.  But this guy knew every word and good for him.  But bad for the rest of us.  As I said, Bjerre’s voice is soaring and angelic.  And this guy’s was not.  Nor was it in tune.  And my was it ever loud.  At times he was just shouting (some of the vocals soar) in a way that sounded like he was just trying to drown out the band.  After he ruined my favorite song, “The Zookeeper’s Boy,” I had to leave my post in front and go further back (where more 6 foot people awaited but no one sang). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2017] Monakr

I had never been to The Foundry before. It is a small club (450 capacity) above The Fillmore in Philly. It’s a very nice place–couches, booths, a large bar and a really good sound system.

I had never heard of Monakr before this show.  They are a Chicago band, primarily synth.  I would have even said poppy, but there’s a few different sounds going on–some dance, some R&B and some alt music.

They played a short set (about 30 minutes) and it was all good.  The guys are all pretty good-looking, but that shouldn’t distract you.

Matthew Santos has a really powerful voice (he has the trappings of the pop star with the way he soars and sinks his high notes). And the way he moves his hands with the melody.  He also seemed very confident–well it turns out that he has sung on a Lupe Fiasco song and was nominated for two Grammies, so I guess that explains a lot. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 25, 2016] Trey Anastasio

I saw Phish for the first time last summer.  The show was a lot of fun and I understood why people wanted to go to every one of their shows.  I haven’t really listened to as much of Trey Anastasio’s solo music, although I do like his new album Paper Wheels.  But I thought it would be a great opportunity to see the front man in a small place–getting up close in a way I’d never be able to at a Phish show.

The ticket said the show would start at 7:30, I wanted to get there early to get in front.  I arrived later than I wanted to, but the show didn’t go on until 8, so I was a little annoyed.  And yet it also meant that I got to get up pretty close (right behind the front section which appeared to be the dance section of the floor).

I was really surprised at how little pot there was at the show.  I smelled a little, but for the most part it was more drinking than smoking (and there was much drunkenness at the end). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 14, 2017] The Decemberists

Two years ago Sarah and I went to The Decemberists concert at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. It was spectacular.  A great venue, a dignified crowd and a great set deign.  The only complaint we had at all was that we couldn’t stand up and dance (well, we could, but we try to be considerate of those around us).

We knew we’d want to see them again, so when they announced another show in Philly–this time at the Fillmore, we were super psyched.  We love the venue, the sound is great and best of all, you can dance.

I was telling Sarah that I have become spoiled by smaller venues like Union Transfer, which holds about 1,000 fewer people than the Fillmore, because I can get up really close.  Well, this show was sold out big time (we were packed in a little too tightly for my liking).  I wanted to try to get there as early as possible, but a few things led us to getting there about ten minutes later than I had hoped.  And as such we were just a little too far out for my liking–the tall people seemed to have a wall set up about five rows of people ahead of us and we just couldn’t break through it.

So that meant a lot of leaning side to side depending on who you wanted to watch and, of course, terrible pictures.  But wow did they sound great.  This tour was a little less elaborate than the previous one. There was no real “set,” just lights.  And that’s fine because the focus was on the music! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 14, 2017] Julien Baker

I first heard Julien Baker from All Songs Considered.  Her song “Sprained Ankle” is simply beautiful.  She plays a very delicate guitar and on that song you can barely hear her voice–everything is very gentle.

I was intrigued when I saw that she was opening for The Decemberists, but I wasn’t entirely sure how much I’d like a whole set of such mellow music.  But Bob Boilen has said on many occasions that you need to see her live.

And that proved to be true.

Her set started quietly with a new song, “Funeral Pyre” and then the incredibly pretty harmonics (looped) of “Funeral Pyre.”   But she wasn’t all about delicate folksiness.  Because on a few of these songs she belted out powerful notes–signing loud and hard and letting those notes linger for a long time.  Her voice was absolutely amazing.  And for just a “girl with a guitar,” she won the audience over pretty easily. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 4, 2017] The Flaming Lips

I saw The Flaming Lips back in 2015 and I was thrilled at how much bigger their show had become since 2000 when I saw them the first time.  When I saw they were touring again for their new album and were playing The Fillmore, I knew that I had to see them again, and this time I needed Sarah to experience the show with me.  She doesn’t know their music very well (she liked a couple of songs and actively disliked a number of them (mostly their noisy covers)–but I knew they wouldn’t play those).  I couldn’t stop talking about that previous show, so I think her expectations were pretty high.  And she told me they did not disappoint.

Having clipping. as the opening band was unusual because if there was ever a show I couldn’t imagine Sarah at it would be a loud, screechy vulgar hip hop band.  But it served as a palate cleanser for The Flaming Lips.

I noticed that they added even more stuff to the previous set, but it was weird that they have all of this great stuff on stage, but then they tend to obscure it as well.  Between the lights in front of the stage (how weird to see all those lights dangling in front of the performers) and the fog machines, sometimes you couldn’t even see the cool stuff going on.  But it was all part of the sensory overload of the show.

Before the show started, Wayne and some of the other guys came out and checked some things. Its was funny to see Wayne walk out on stage and wave to us.  He even shot some hand-held confetti cannons at us.  But then they went back stage and it took another fifteen or so minutes for them to start.

In front of the stage were all of the strands hanging down.  It was impossible to know what they were, until the music started and we saw that they were light strands.  And as the music swelled, Wayne conducted the lights and the music.  It was very cool. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 4, 2017] clipping.

I first heard clipping. on All Songs Considered about a month ago.  The song was noisy and brash and vulgar and featured incredible rapping from a voice that I recognized but couldn’t place.  Then they told us that the rapper was Daveed Diggs who was Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton.  He won a Tony for the role(s).  And now here he was fronting this band of experimental glitch-hop.  And there he was just a few dozen feet from us. 

I love the Fillmore, but it’s one of the few venues that we don’t ever seem to be able to get very close to the stage for.  I guess the artists are a little more popular (and tend to sell out) so there’s less wiggle room at some of the other shows.  So we were further back than I would have liked.  But we could still fully absorb the spectacle.

Clipping are not exactly the kind of band I’d pair with The Flaming Lips (who sing about rainbows and love and whatnot).  And indeed, the contrast was pretty stark.  But the Lips have a crazy stage set-up and it seemed to work perfectly with the kind of static and noise that Clipping creates.  And I’m sure they loved being able to hook into the Lips’ wall of video screens behind them. (more…)

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