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Archive for the ‘Tower Theater’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 8, 2018] Death Cab for Cutie

I can remember listening to a compilation CD [I believe it came with Future Dictionary of America] in my car and “Title and Registration” was on it.  I couldn’t stop listening to the song.  I had heard of Death Cab for Cutie but didn’t know them.  And this song set me on a years-long path of enjoyment.

So I’ve liked the band for some 15 years but I’d never seen them live.  I was pretty much okay with that because from videos I’d watched, they didn’t seem like they were very dynamic live.

Then they announced this show at the Tower (which sold out and they announced a second).  When WXPN played the extended version of “I Will Possess Your Heart” and S. said how much she liked the intro and that was enough for me to get us tickets for the show.

The seats were great (3rd row mezzanine) and we could fully enjoy the lighting spectacular.

Yes, lighting spectacular.  I never assumed that Death Cab for Cutie would have a big light show.  It just doesn’t seem to fit with them.  And it wasn’t crazy big or anything but it was pretty dramatic and worked very well with the music.  There was a video screen above the band too but it just seemed to be projecting nonsense so–whatever about that.  Occasionally there were colors which added to the visuals, but mostly it was half images of static.

DCFC’s latest album Thank You for Today (I enjoyed this welcoming video) had recently come out but I hadn’t had much opportunity to listen to it (except for single “Gold Rush”).  They played 7 of 10 songs from it, so there was a lot that was unfamiliar to me.

But here’s the thing about DCFC for better or worse.  A lot of their songs sound similar.  Not that they are indistinguishable, but that the opening chord patterns and playing style are pretty much the same before they turn into their own animals.  So a number of times I thought they were starting one song bu it turned out to be something else.

They interspersed those new songs with songs from nearly their entire discography, which was awesome.  After playing two new songs, they played one from 2015’s Kingusti which I realized I hadn’t listened to very much.

But then we got into really familiar territory.  They played the wonderful “Long Division” (to be a remain… remain…. remain… remainder) from Plans.  And then they played “Title and Registration” and I was instantly swept back to that day driving in the car.

The new song “Gold Rush” is fun to sing along to but they went really far back into their catalog (2001’s The Photo Album) for the delicate “A Movie Script Ending” (I was on the high-way… high-way… high-way).

They followed this with two more songs from Plans.  First was the tremendous “Crooked Teeth” (I love that bass line).   Then Ben Gibbard moved back to the piano for the lovely ballad “What Sarah Said.”  They followed it with another piano song, the new “60 & Punk” which I was sure was an older song–it must have sunk in when I listened to the record. It’s a great melancholy song.

Gibbard played piano, electric guitar and acoustic guitar. And the overall sound of the band was fantastic.  I loved that you could very clearly hear Zac Rae on guitar–especially when he played some crunchy chords.  Which was often.  I was delighted with just how noisy the show was.  Not ugly…just not polished and sleek.  It was also cool that Dave Depper on keys also played guitar from time to time–there could be three guitars on stage at once.

Then came the moment S. and I were waiting for.  That awesome bass line of “I Will Possess Your Heart.” “Not only did they play the extended intro they jammed it for about 10 minutes and it was fantastic.

They followed it with the oldest song of the night, 2000’s “Title Track.”  I have always liked this guitar riff and it was great to hear it live.  Then back to the new album with “Autumn Love” and then to Kintsugi with the awesome “Black Sun” (I guess I have listened to that album a bit).

Then it was onto Transatlanticism for “Expo 86.” The crowd went nuts when we heard those opening notes (they had recently played all of Transatlanticism the other night in Chicago, but I’m glad they didn’t for us (kind of).

I was intrigued that they kept playing new songs throughout the night.  Sometime the end of a set can get hits-heavy, so it was nice to keep everyone on our toes.  I was amazed at how much “Northern Lights” and especially “Doors Unlocked and Open” sounded like a Rush song circa Grace Under Pressure–the way the bass and guitar intertwined.

Next up was “Cath…”  It was on this song that I was really aware of how great the drums from Jason McGerr sounded.  It sounded terrific, but it was nothing compared to the excitement the crowd felt during “Soul Meets Body.”  The crowd sang along perfectly to the bah bah bah bah bah part (and pretty much everything else).

A few songs earlier I realized that I didn’t know how long they had been playing and I didn’t know how long the show was going to be.  I assumed that DCFC would not play a super long show, and yet they have been around for 20 years, so they could play forever.  And as they played “Soul Meets Body” I realized that there were probably a half dozen songs that I loved which they hadn’t played.

Turned out they were ready to end the main set and they returned Transatlanticism (they played 5 of 11 songs) for “The Sound of Settling” (bah bah, bah bah, this is the sound of settling).

After a fairly short encore break, Ben Gibbard came back out with an acoustic guitar.  The lighting was great and Ben started singing the opening to “I Will Follow You Into The Dark.”  The sound was great and the crowd was initially respectful as Ben started singing.  But it was hard to hold back and soon everyone was singing along with him.

It was a beautiful moment and could have easily ended the show.  But they were not done by a long shot.

A recent trend, it seems, is to include a new song in the encore.  It’s disappointing if you are expecting a favorite hit, but it usually means that there will be a few more songs.  So you can sit back and enjoy a song like “Near / Far” and appreciate it and want to listen to it more.  Once the other songs are done, of course.

They ended the night with two more songs from Transatlanticism (which was great).  The first, “Tiny Vessels,” a sad but lovely song (“she is beautiful, but she don’t mean a thing to me”) that builds to a pretty big rocker in the middle.

Then came the slow buildup of the title song “Transatlanticism.”  It starts on piano and effects.  Then the beautiful guitar riff–two three note melodies and a big slow chord  that propels the song forward.  I have always like this song because of that riff, but I never expected what they would do with this song.  It takes about three minutes for the drums to begin–a slow steady rhythm which is joined by the bass (Nick Harmer).  Then Ben came from behind the piano and picked up his guitar.  The band began jamming the middle of the song–repeating that guitar riff and the lyrics “I need you so much closer.”    And the song just kept getting bigger and bigger and louder and louder.  They must have repeated that section for three or for minutes just getting fuller and fuller until was almost unbearable.  It felt like the walls might come down.  I still get chills thinking about it.

It was one of the best endings to a show I’ve ever seen.

SETLIST

I Dreamt We Spoke Again ¥
Summer Years ¥
The Ghosts of Beverly Drive  ℘
Long Division ⇑
Title and Registration ™
Gold Rush ¥
A Movie Script Ending ∏
Crooked Teeth ¶
What Sarah Said ¶
60 & Punk ¥
I Will Possess Your Heart ⇑
Title Track ϖ
Autumn Love ¥
Black Sun ℘
Expo 86 ™
Northern Lights ¥
Doors Unlocked and Open ⊗
Cath… ⇑
Soul Meets Body ¶
The Sound of Settling ™

Encore:
I Will Follow You Into The Dark ¶
Near / Far ¥
Tiny Vessels ™
Transatlanticism ™

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ϖ We Have the Facts And We’re Voting Yes (2000)
∏ The Photo Album (2001)
™ Transatlanticism (2003)
¶ Plans (2005)
⇑ Narrow Stairs (2008)
⊗ Codes and Keys (2011)
℘ Kintsugi (2015)
¥ Thank You for Today (2018)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2018] Charly Bliss

This was our second and last ever show at the Tower Theater.  The last time we had run into all kinds of traffic and it took forever to get there.  This time, we decided to go a slightly different route and (although we found free parking) because of traffic it still wound up taking nearly 2 hours to get there.  No more.

We walked in just as Charly Bliss was starting their set, so we missed the very first few minutes but I could hear them fine from the balcony area.  If you can get lower balcony seats, they are excellent.  We had a great view and the sound was terrific.  And the lobby was 1000 times less chaotic than downstairs.  Again, shame we’ll never go there again.

Charly Bliss hits a sweet musical spot for me–90s alternagrungepop with smart women as lead singers.

They are a relatively new band and they are just full of boundless energy and hooks galore. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 3, 2017] Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile

I have been a fan of Courtney Barnett’s since I first saw her on a Tiny Desk Concert about 3 years ago.  Bob and Robin from All Songs Considered have raved about her and her live show.  I was really bummed to have found out about her last Philly show a little too late.

So she has been high on my list of artists to see.

I really like a bunch of Kurt Vile songs, although I don’t listen to him all that much (but “Pretty Pimpin'” is amazing).  When they got together for this album/tour, it kind of made sense.  Although I found that I was a little disappointed that Courtney played more like Kurt than Kurt played like Courtney.  The album is kind of slacker folkie and not indie rocking.  Although the good spirit and fun that they clearly had quickly won me over.

I knew the backing band was the Sea Lice, with a somewhat revolving cast.  I was hoping to get Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney on drums, but instead we had Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, who was terrific, Rob Laakso (from Kurt’s Violators) on bass and Katie Harkin (Sky Larkin) on keyboards (with wonderful backing vocals). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 3, 2017] Jen Cloher

Sarah and I were really excited to see Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile.  And we were really intrigued that Courtney’s wife, Jen Cloher was opening for them (it is not lost on me that Courtney has said she used to go to see Jen when Courtney was just starting out and that Jen is opening for her).

I have never been to the Tower Theater before.  I had been told it’s a great venue.  Well, Sarah and I had a pretty miserable experience in and around the venue (which had nothing to do with the music).  It took forever to get there.  Sure, it was a Friday night, but it took us almost two hours.  The Theater is in a fairly residential area, so the traffic around it was dreadful.  And then parking was a nightmare, and we had to pay $20 at a garage that was clearly just people co-opting a commuter parking lot and making money off of it.  The Theater entrance was packed, so it took about five minutes to get through the security and ticket checkers.  And then the front foyer was just a mass of wall to wall people.  When we finally got to the actual theater entrance, Cloher was already playing and there were no ushers to help us with our seats.

We got to our seats, finally, and managed to hear all of two songs. (more…)

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