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Archive for the ‘The Foundry’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 27, 2018] Graham Coxon

I’ve been a fan of Blur since the beginning (I always picked them over Oasis).  I have never seen them live and it seems like I never will.  And while I enjoy Gorillaz I’m not going to see them live either.  So Graham Coxon solo was a wonderful draw for me.

My big attraction to Blur is Damon Albarn’s voice, but the music, especially Coxon’s guitar, is really fantastic too.

Coxon has released a bunch of solo albums.  I bought the first two.  The second one, The Golden D was an experimental noise fest (for the most part) and I didn’t listen to anymore after that.  Well, from what I gather, the rest of his solo albums were folk songwriting with some fantastic finger-picking guitar work.

I didn’t know what Coxon would be playing on his tour (I had no idea he had released 8 albums and done the sound track for the TV show The End of the F***ing World.  So I looked up a review of his live show.  The one I read was from The Telegraph back in 2014, so maybe I shouldn’t have counted it but the crux of the review was that there were

two substantial sets in one evening, the first showcasing his singer-songwriter skills in an acoustic session, the second allowing him to let rip with the abrasive, surly grunge-pop sound that, back in the day, put a deliciously destructive mark on Blur’s melodies.

The second half of the evening saw Coxon kick away his stool and unleash the beast. The first three numbers were aggressive freak-outs, as if he was deliberately trying to dispel the lo-fi contemplation of what had gone before.

It was this duality that sold me on seeing the show.  I wanted to experience Coxon’s loud noisy breakouts live and in person.  And in a venue where virtually nobody goes (The Foundry’s capacity is 450, but there’s couldn’t have been more than 100 people there) it seemed like a great opportunity to see this musician up close.

Rolling Stone announced a rare North American solo tour: The two-week, 10-date trek marks Coxon’s first acoustic one-man shows in North America.

Had I read the rest of the piece about his new tour–his first in the States in nearly a decade, I would have seen:

Each gig will feature Coxon and his acoustic guitar mining songs from his eight solo records as well as music from his score for Netflix’s The End of the F***ing World.

Not that this would have changed my mind, but I wouldn’t have been expecting freakouts.

When Coxon came out he had an amusing nebbish quality about him.  One would never have guessed that he was part of one of the biggest bands in the world (and had played a sold out Madison Square Garden just three years earlier).

He sat down, asked us what we did today and seemed to think about what he would play.  He has a booklet at his feet which contained…what?  Lyrics?  Chords?  Recipes? He flipped through pages but never actually seemed to consult it during the songs.  He said “there’d be no surprises because he’s playing the same setlist every night and we all knew the setlists, because it’s online the second the first note is splayed (although as I write this, my show’s setlist is not online).  He did say that “for us” maybe he’d change it around a bit.

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[ATTENDED: September 27, 2018] Rosali

Rosali opened for Graham Coxon.  She is a Philadelphia-based singer songwriter with two albums out (her last album got some pretty glowing reviews).

She has a lovely voice which reminded me of Aimee Mann.  In fact, a number of times I thought that she might be singing an Aimee Mann song.  But the problem was that there were no hooks in her songs.  There was nothing to hold on to.

She also had very little stage presence.  She stated as much, confessing that stage banter wasn’t her thing.  No kidding.  One time she asked if anyone watched the news today, after some mild boos, she didn’t follow it up.  Every other time that she tuned, she was basically quiet.  In fact, she never said her name, the most basic thing you do when tuning your guitar.  (I arrived a few minutes late because of the incompetent staff, so maybe she had introduced herself before I got there, but I’m not entirely sure it was her). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2017] Public Service Broadcasting

I first saw Public Service Broadcasting on their amazing Tiny Desk Concert.  I was blown away that J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth could make such complex and satisfying music with just the two of them (all the while projecting visuals behind them that matched the songs perfectly.

I instantly put them near the top of the list of bands that I wanted to see live.  But I also put them very high on my list of bands that I’d be unlikely to see live since I assumed they played primarily in the UK (whether they have recently played festivals).  Plus, how likely were they to come to the US to tour their most recent album which is all about coal mining in Wales (seriously–and it’s fantastic).

Well, when I saw that they were playing The Foundry, I bought a ticket immediately.  I figured that the show would either be unattended or sold out.  Well, sadly for the band, it was barely attended, but luckily for me, that meant I got to hang out right in front of the stage (and even meet the guys afterwards).

But even if there were only 100 or so people, the band didn’t act like the crowd was puny (because everyone there was really into it).  They played an amazing show and I’m thrilled to have seen it.

In the way of bands who don’t have roadies, all three guys were there to tune up their gear for about ten minutes before they ultimately left the stage and then came back on fresh and new.  It gave them time to put up the test pattern above.

I parked myself right in front of J. Willgoose, which was awesome seeing everything he did.  I joked with my friend Marcus (who has seen the band 6 times in the States and was going to Brooklyn the following night to watch them again) that I didn’t know where to stand.  J. Willgoose overheard and said it didn’t matter because they didn’t do anything interesting.  This was utterly false, as it was great watching everything that J. Willgoose did with guitars, keys, foot pedals, and so much more.  He even played percussion.  I only wish I had been a little to the left because I was actually so close, his keyboard was blocking some of the rest of the stage (the horrors). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2017] Fire is Motion

A few days before the Public Service Broadcasting show, I saw that a local NJ band (based in Union), Fire is Motion, was set to open for them.  I went to their bandcamp site and really liked what I heard.  I wrote to the band to see if they were going to be bringing any merch to the show, and Adrian wrote back that they were and to thank me for listening.

I was looking forward to seeing them, but when I arrived at like 8:05, they had already started–who knows how many songs I missed.  Such punctuality in rock!

But the remaining four or five songs were really good–bigger and more complex than their recorded sound. And the band sounded really tight. (more…)

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[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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