Recent concerts

I’ve fallen behind on blogging about some of the concerts I’ve seen lately. Let’s see… I had hoped to see THE WALKMEN June 16 at the Randolph Street Festival, but due to my own poor planning and a slow Red Line train, I showed up just as the Walkmen were finishing. I did catch the last set of the night by THE SMOKING POPES, which was pretty good. It didn’t change my life or anything, but I enjoyed it. They played a few of the songs from their new album, which is recorded but lacks a release date (or label, I think) at the moment. I’m sure it’ll surface soon.

After the festival, I headed over to the Beat Kitchen to catch a late show by VELCRO LEWIS AND HIS 100-PROOF BAND. It was quite good, from what I recall in my foggy memory… The guy looks kind of like Warren Zevon or something. Doesn’t really sound like him, but he definitely had some gritty, bluesy classic-rock thing going on. See my photos of Velcro Lewis.

On Tuesday (June 19), I saw FEIST at the Vic Theatre, with opening act GRIZZLY BEAR. Both sets were on the mellow side, but very much enchanting to these ears. I do sort of wish Grizzly Bear would rock a little bit more on occasion, but the band’s songs are subtle and beautiful. The crowd listened in a respectful hush.

I’d been looking forward to the show by Feist for a while, since her new album The Reminder is one of my recent favorites. She kept things in a hushed mood, with her backup band providing some really nice and restrained arrangements – it was so spare that you wondered if she really needed four musicians to make so little noise, but they were great at setting the right atmosphere. Feist’s voice was in fine form, and she also showed some spark with her guitar playing. And she was in a fun mood, bantering quite a bit with the crowd (maybe a tad too much). She tried singing all of her banter, but quickly abandoned that idea. She also solicited people in the crowd to hand up college homework, and read aloud from someone’s barely decipherable scientific paper. She was kooky but not, you know Cat Power kooky. Overall, a very nice evening of music.

I didn’t have a photo pass for this show, so I didn’t bring my camera, but my friend Kirstie got some great shots. Check them out on flickr.

On Friday (June 22), I got to Metro just in time for the headlining set by THE IKE REILLY ASSASSINATION. Reilly’s a great songwriter I’ve somehow managed to miss seeing live, even though I’ve interviewed the guy three times. His lyrics are gritty, seemingly real-life stories with a lot of wisdom, and he also has a good knack for writing catchy sing-along choruses. He’s one of those indie-rock artists who seem like they’d have a lot more fans if more people heard their music. It was nice to see him fill up Metro with enthusiastic fans who were familiar with his songs. Maybe the exposure he’s received on WXRT has helped, or maybe more people are finally catching on to Reilly. What’s he sound like? I hear some similarities to the Hold Steady, Steve Earle and, of course, Dylan and Springsteen, maybe a little Beck, a little Tom Petty. His songs are made to be played live, and Reilly and his band rocked out with enthusiasm, really working up a sweat. (Sorry, no photos from this show, either.)

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