Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hum at the Old Rock House

It is no secret that Hum is one of my favorite bands of all time. In case you haven't been following along, Hum occasionally reunites for one or two shows in the Midwest. I was elated when I caught their New Years Eve and New Years Day show in Chicago back in late 2008 and early 2009.

After the announcement of their show on Memorial Day in Chicago, I suspected Hum might do a warm up show. It turns out the Old Rock House in St. Louis were the lucky benefactors of a Hum Reunion show. After weighing the options, I booked my flight and was ready to see Hum in action once more.


From the opening psychedelic swirl of "The Pod", I knew I made the right decision to fly to St. Louis. I was perfectly positioned in the center of the stage with Matt Talbott's Orange Amplifier stack to my left and Tim Lash's Hiwatt stack to my right. Hum live in stereo. It was pure sonic heaven.

Immediately, I noticed Hum sounded extremely well rehearsed compared to their prior shows at the Double Door. This is understandable given that they will play to a potentially large crowd next week at Millennium park on Memorial Day. Matt's vocals were stronger as he roared through "The Pod".

The deceiving quiet intro of "Iron Clad Lou" shifted into overdrive with its locomotive riff propelled by Talbott's Les Paul Studio and Lash's Jackson guitar. It seems that Lash finally retired his battered Fender Stratocaster that appeared to be falling apart when I saw them at the Double Door.

Hum have always gone against the grain and I wasn't surprised when Talbott started the hypnotic glossy chords of "Stars" as the third song of the evening. If you only came to hear "Stars", then you got a chance to go home early. The combined power riffing of Lash and Talbott was outstanding as they played screaming octaves. As much as I gush over the combined talents of Talbott and Lash, Jeff Dimpsey's rock solid anchoring of the bass and Bryan St. Pere's cymbal smashing are vital keys to Hum's trademark sound.

The guitar phaser squalls of "The Inuit Promise" from the highly overlooked Downward is Heaven kept the energy level soaring. It was beautiful to hear the nuances and dynamics of the song live. To hear Lash rake his guitar strings on his headstock at the end of the song adds extra spice that isn't in the recorded version. I had flashbacks to when I stayed up late on Sundays to watch 120mins on MTV when they started playing "Comin' Home".

Hum ascended into a hurricane of synchronized distorted harmonics before landing softly into the dusky daydream of "Afternoon with the Axoltols". The song oscillates between loud and quiet to pull the listener in closer in a way that only Hum can accomplish. The lighting technician got extra points for switching the lights to green during the explosive "Green To Me". Even though I have never heard the studio version of "Inklings", I can say that live version is astounding with its heavy palm muted riffing.

Dipping back into You'd Prefer An Astronaut, "Suicide Machine" made me think I was dreaming cause I still couldn't believe what I was witnessing. St. Pere looked at Talbott and asked him if he was ready prior to an ultra rare live rendition of "Scraper" from the more metallic leaning Electra 2000. Talbott adjusted the dial on his MXR Phaser 90 pedal for the intoxicating opening of "The Little Dipper". Even though it was denoted on the setlist as "G&D", the astral stomp of "I Like Your Hair Long" was stunning with Talbott stomping on his MXR Phaser again. The world needs more bands that can tastefully use a guitar phaser like Hum.

The whole setlist was amazing. I was secretly hoping for "Dreamboat" but was shocked when Lash and Talbott switched guitars for the one and a half step detuned gem "The Scientists". Easily one of my top 5 Hum songs which I don't remember hearing them play live back in the day. "I Hate it Too" was the finishing salvo to the evening that was punctuated by the entire crowd singing the opening lines of the song along with Talbott. The look of shock on Talbott's face was priceless. Needless to say, I can't wait for Chicago.

Hum setlist at the Old Rock House in St. Louis (05/22/10)
"The Pod"
"Iron Clad Lou"
"The Inuit Promise"
"Comin' Home"
"Afternoon With The Axoltols"
"Green To Me"
"Suicide Machine"
"Little Dipper"
"I'd Like Your Hair Long"
"The Scientists"
"I Hate It Too"

Friday, May 14, 2010

Holy Fuck at the Troubadour

Back in February of 2008, I uncovered the awesomeness of Holy Fuck. Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh oversee a small arsenal of synthesizers backed by a potent bass and drum assault of Matt Schultz and Matt McQuaid that blow minds on a nightly basis.

Latin is their latest release on Young Turks/XL Recordings and will be prominently featured when they stop by the Troubadour on 6/10. Watching Holy Fuck melt faces for $13.00 is priceless. Get your tickets here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tom Petty at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine

Photo credit: Sam Jones

Tom Petty is back hitting the tour circuit in support of his first studio album in eight years, Mojo. Realizing that music is inherently a free product to entice fans to see the band live, if you purchase tickets to his show you will receive a download code to the entire album.

To sweeten the deal, a live album will be delivered as an added bonus at the conclusion of the tour. Not a bad deal if you ask me. Tom Petty hits Southern California on Oct 1st at the Hollywood Bowl and Oct 2nd at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. Get your tickets here.

Here are the tour dates:
June 3 – Denver, CO – Red Rocks
June 5 – Oakland, CA – Oracle Arena
June 8 – Vancouver, BC – GM Place
June 11 – Seattle, WA – The Gorge
June 12 – Seattle, WA – The Gorge
June 15 – Calgary, AB – Pengrowth Saddledome
June 16 – Edmonton, AB – Rexall Place
June 19 – Winnipeg, MB – MTS Centre
June 22 – St. Paul, MN – XCEL Energy Center
June 23 – Omaha, NE – Qwest Center
June 25 – Milwaukee, WI – Marcus Ampitheatre/Summerfest
June 26 – Milwaukee, WI – Marcus Ampitheatre/Summerfest
July 10 – Indianapolis, IN – Verizon Wireless Music Center
July 13 – Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center
July 15 – Cincinnati, OH – Riverbend Music Center
July 17 – Chicago, IL – United Center
July 20 – Cleveland, OH – Blossom Music Center
July 22 – Detroit, MI – Palace of Auburn Hills
July 24 – Pittsburgh, PA – First Niagara Pavillion
July 28 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
July 31 – Philadelphia, PA - Wachovia Center
Aug 11 – Atlanta, GA – Philips Arena
Aug 12 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
Aug 14 – Darien Lake, NY – Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
Aug 15 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live
Aug 17 – Hartford, CT – Comcast Theatre
Aug 19 – Boston, MA – Comcast Center
Aug 21 – Boston, MA – Comcast Center
Aug 24 – East Rutherford, NJ – Izod Center
Aug 25 – Toronto, ON – Air Canada Center
Aug 27 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center
Sept 16 – Tampa, FL – St Pete Times Forum
Sept 18 – Raleigh, NC – Time Warner Cable Pavilion at Walnut Creek
Sept 19 – Charlotte, NC – Charlotte Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Sept 21 – Dallas, TX – Center
Sept 24 – Houston, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Sept 26 – Phoenix, AZ – U.S. Airways Center
Sept 28 – San Diego, CA – Cricket Pavilion
Oct 1 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl
Oct 2 – Irvine, CA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Broken Social Scene at the Music Box

After catching Owen Pallett at Fingerprints Records, my thirst for another dose of Canadian rock was quenched by catching Broken Social Scene at the Music Box. Their fourth album, Forgiveness Rock Record just hit the stores with its sweeping majestic songs that only Broken Social Scene can craft. The sold out Music Box was in a mood to celebrate as balloons started to fly before the band even took the stage.

Julie Doiron

Do you remember Eric's Trip? The much beloved Canadian Sub Pop records stalwarts have reunited sporadically over the past couple of years but Julie Doiron has soldiered on with a solo career signing to the highly respected Jagjaguwar label. Clutching her Hagstrom guitar, Doiron viciously coaxed out scuzzy fuzz toned guitars in the vein of Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.

Doiron seemed a little nervous on stage as she would catch herself rambling about forgetting to write a setlist and misplacing her capo. After performing a cover of "Love Hurts", Kevin Drew came out to to help Doiron play the old Eric's Trip song "Stove". It was difficult to discern which one of them had the bigger smile on their face at the ending of the song.

Broken Social Scene

Electricity was in the air along with the aforementioned floating balloons as fans nervously chatted before the show. The descending guitars of "World Sick" and bubbly synthesizers perfectly matched the colorful balloons drifting in the air. Charles Spearin was stomping on the stage while hammering on his bass. A variety of sonic layers unfurled during "Texico Bitches" with various microKorg blips and its marching drums.

Broken Social Scene need to be experienced live. The sheer number of people on stage recreating the various layers of their songs is an audio and visual feast to behold. Venturing back to their self-titled album, "7/4(Shoreline)" had Lisa Lobsinger more than adequately handle the female vocal harmonies. "Fire Eye'd Boy" had the fans center stage jumping up and down with its hissing hi-hat shuffle.

The logistics of rehearsing and touring with a nine piece band has to be daunting but that didn't stop Broken Social Scene from tackling a slew of new songs. Kevin Drew still hadn't mastered the lyrics for "Forced To Love" and comically asked a fan from the audience to come on stage and hold up the lyrics. Trumpets fired off during "Art House Director" adding more dimensions to the sweeping harmonies.

"All to All" was an electronically tinged sweet ballad with Lobsinger coming to the front of the stage singing about "forgiveness". A downbeat moody rendition of "Sweetest Kill" evoked a submerged watery feel. "Water In Hell" fired the crowd back up with its whiskey soaked vocal harmonies. Drew was skeptical about dusting off the B-side "Major Label Debut (Fast)" but still garnered appreciation from the crowd when he quipped "You gotta try stuff sometimes".

"Ungrateful Little Father" didn't have the sitar effects at the beginning but was sweetened with a miniature dose of melodica. Drew exclaimed that "KC Accidental" was how the crowd sounded to the band as it brought their main set to a close. The encore started off with "Fucked Up Kids", "Meet Me in The Basement" but some savvy fans threw confetti in the air to celebrate the life reaffirmation of "It's All Gonna Break". Broken Social Scene will return on October 19th to the Wiltern and you better get your tickets now.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Rogue Wave at the El Rey Theater

This may not be shocking but I attended many concerts before starting this blog in 2006. Discovering new bands entails attending lots of shows and showing up for the opening acts. One such show was circa 2003 when I saw The Shins at the Wiltern theater and saw a band called Rogue Wave who opened the show.

After their set, I immediately purchased a copy of their debut album, Out of The Shadow which was later re-released on Sub Pop records. Flash forward seven years, Rogue Wave has established themselves a nice career and recently released their infectiously catchy fourth album, Permalight.


Los Angeles crowds are known for being a tad bit chatty during the opening bands. Concerts are social events and it isn't surprising to see people talk to each other during a show. The fact that it was eerily quiet for JBM says a lot. JBM is a one man show and presumably the initials of Jesse Marchant who released his debut album a few weeks ago entitled, Not Even in July.

I wasn't familiar with his songs but recalled that he opened his set with "Years" that captivated the audience early with its quiet acoustic balladry. While sonically it reminded me of Iron & Wine and early The Album Leaf, JBM's ability to draw in the audience puts him in another class.

It has been said if you want people to listen that you should use a lower tone of voice to force them to be more attentive. JBM certainly got my attention. The other song that blew me away was "From You To Me and Me To You" with its sampled metal slide guitar and percussive rhythm guitar riff built on the spot by JBM. The ovation at the end of his set confirms my suspicions that the crowd enjoyed his set as much as I did.


Talking Heads? Archers of Loaf? Vampire Weekend? Man/Miracle pinched musical moments from all of those bands along with an injection of Oakland funk. Their musical attack was frequent and surprising by taking sharp musical turns mid set. Man/Miracle's latest album is The Shape of Things.

One can hear the paranoia pulsing through "Mulitudes" with its spider crawling guitars. Pat Spurgeon of Rogue Wave did come out to assist on percussion for a few songs and was filming some songs on his iphone. "Hot Sprawl" closed out their set it with its panic stricken guitars and shuffling drums. Rogue Wave did one heck of a job selecting their openers for this tour.

Rogue Wave

The quiet guitar chords of "All That Remains" were lifted by soft pad synthesized keyboards with Zach Rogue's reverb sugary vocals. "What's Up Los Angeles?!" was quickly exclaimed by Rogue before plunging into the upbeat "Stars and Stripes". Rogue Wave is wrapping up the first leg of their tour in support of Permalight and were in razor sharp form.

The excitement and exuberance of the band could be easily identified as this was the last stop before a triumphant homecoming show in the Bay Area. A rumbling Rickenbacker bass line ignited "Good Morning (The Future)" with backing vocals from all members during the chorus. Dominic East was a bundle of energy bunny hopping in his confined area while playing guitar.

Pat Spurgeon laid down some shuffling snare beats for "Solitary Gun" while using his bass drum adorned with the cover of the new album. The cobwebs in your eyes feel of "Sleepwalker" was hypnotic with it murky guitar lines. The parade of new songs continued with the intricate guitar picking work of "I'll Never Leave You" with Rogue coming up to the front of the stage to engage the crowd.

As much as fans enjoyed the new material, the opening bombast of "Publish My Love" garnered a number of cheers from the crowd with the guitars carefully navigating the threshold between overdrive and distortion. The fluid descending notes of bass for "Every Moment" were simply joyous. Prefaced as an angry song and imploring everyone to shake their fists in the air, "We Will Make A Song Destroy" continued to ignite the crowd with it quiet then loud dynamics and foot stomping chorus.

The hits started to come in waves with them working through "Bird On A Wire" and I spotted Cameron Jasper stepping on the footswitch to control the lights in time with the overdrive blasts. A tender rendition of "Eyes" and a stormy "Love's Lost Guarantee" gave way to the drum circle bashing of "Lake Michigan" and closed with "Harmonium". The real treat of the evening was hearing their cover of Depeche Mode's "Shake The Disease" which they had performed earlier during their KCRW session. The unabashed fun of "Permalight" inspired a slew of stage invaders as fans danced the evening to a close.