In which I listen to “hip” music

Last week we went to two shows: the TEJ Trio at SFJAZZ and the Kishi Bashi String Quartet at the Palace of Fine Arts (in a huge concert hall that I had no idea existed). The jazz show was cool but I have to admit that I liked the 5-minute encore of them playing “Caravan” better than the hour-long improvisation preceding it. Does that make me lame? I’m no stranger to experimental shows (if you recall, I used to live in LA with a bunch of beat scene guys), but this time the laptops and projections just didn’t do it for me.

I *did* very much enjoy Kishi Bashi, who shared the stage with a string quartet and his mountainman banjo player, Mike Savino. They did some really cool covers (including Talking Heads!) and a lot of songs from the new (“second”) album, LighghtI love KB’s semi-awkward banter and his fondness for San Francisco. Both times I saw him perform, he explained that the reason for his awkwardness was because he was nervous and that SF was his favorite place to play. Awwww.

In other news, I recently discovered a very interesting genre called electro swing. Am I really behind the times on this? I had no idea it was a thing until I happened upon a really cool 8tracks mix. I take back what I said a few posts back about swing having “died out.” Apparently it’s still very much alive (with the help of some phat beats). Here’s another mix for good measure:

And lastly, I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it here yet, but a couple weeks ago we made an impulsive decision to go to a D’Angelo concert…in Amsterdam. At the end of this month. After the initial shock of “whoa, we just bought those tickets,” I very quickly became PUMPED. And now after watching D’Angelo and the Vanguard on SNL I’m even more excited. Part of the reason we’re going is because his live performances are so sparse (those in the US tend to get…cancelled), and this may very well be our only chance to see him in person. The other reason we’re going is because it’s AMSTERDAM! Home of beautiful canals, suuuperchill people (if you catch my drift), and KattenKabinet! So even if D’Angelo flakes out on the show or announces a west coast tour right after this, it’s going to be great.

I’ll leave you with this, a Monkees gif I made, lest you think I’ve forgotten what this blog is really about:

Live music, lately

2014 is a crazy good year for live music in my world. In addition to Paul Simon & Sting and the highlighted shows below, I’ll be seeing OK Go twice (in SF and SLC), Tom Petty at Outside Lands, and Paul McCartney at Candlestick Park (the last show ever! …Candlestick’s that is, not Paul’s). I’m pret-ty pumped, to say the least.

Here is a glimpse of my May and June in music….

Kishi Bashi @ The Fillmore. 5/17. 

I’d been wanting to see Kishi Bashi in concert since I became obsessed with him last year. So I was stoked (yes, STOKED) to hear about this show. It ended up topping the list of my favorite concerts ever, even with the very drunk couple next to us who kept elbowing me and stepping on my feet. Kishi Bashi and his band put on an incredible show (special shout out to Grizzly Bearded Banjo Man, you sir are wonderful). I thought I already loved KB’s new album, but of course the songs are that much better when played live. How can a song about a piece of steak be SO delightful?
I also loved how genuinely excited KB was to be at the Fillmore. He made a point to mention that it was his biggest show so far, and that he never would’ve thought he’d be playing there two years ago when he was touring with Of Montreal. It made me feel lucky to live in the bay area, where the venues are just as exciting as the acts. :)
Video: Atticus in the Desert

Nickel Creek @ The Fox. 5/19.

Nickel Creek is from my hometown of Vista, California. Which is noteworthy because no one famous ever comes from Vista, California. But these guys happened to make it! It took some recollection, but I realized that I’d seen Nickel Creek before, like 10-15 years ago at the Smoky Hill River Festival in Salina, Kansas. Pretty sure that’s the only time that a band from my hometown has played a show in my dad’s hometown, but I could be wrong.
Anyway, they’re a really awesome bluegrass trio whose mandolinist Chris Thile you might’ve heard of (if you are a mandolin fan). Plus, they hadn’t played together in 7 years so it was a pretty epic reunion.
Video: Hayloft (couldn’t find a video of this one from the Oakland show, but it was one of my favorite songs so this is a vid from earlier in the tour)

The Spencer Owen Timeshare @ The Starry Plough. 6/7.

I’ve been to a lot of T.S.O.T. shows in the past year, but this one might just be my favorite so far. I’m not sure I can even pinpoint why…but I loved it, the crowd loved it, there was dancing, and there was saxophone. What else could you ask for? Also, the venue was really fun too. +1 for The Starry Plough!
The band is going on tour this July, and although I have work and don’t want to be all groupie status (well, I kind of do), I’m going to try my hardest to go to as many shows as possible. So exciting!!
Videos: My Troubled Past and Deserve You More (I’m lame and only start recording halfway through each song)

The Mountain Goats @ Bottom of the Hill. 6/14.

I saw the Mountain Goats in December of 2012, and became an instant fan. They played at the Fillmore in 2012, but this time the show was at Bottom of the Hill (a much smaller venue which has also hosted the Timeshare!). I loved how intimate/informal the show was: it was just John Darnielle and Peter Hughes playing acoustic guitar and bass (except when a string broke on JD’s guitar and he had no backup so used the opening band’s electric guitar).
Can I also just reiterate how awesome the crowds are at tMG shows? Probably the most attentive and dedicated fans I’ve ever seen. There are people that know every word to every song, even the deep cuts on cassette tapes from 1993 (I know this because they played the entirety of Transmissions to Horace and there were people singing along to every song). These shows are so much fun that I think whenever the opportunity comes up to see a Mountain Goats concert, I will make it a point to be there.
Video: California Song (same venue, but 6 years ago)

That’s it for now. But stay tuned for my OK Go/TPetty/Macca follow-up in August. Until then, I hope you find good music to listen to and I sincerely hope you check out OK Go‘s new music video which debuts TOMORROW!

Some things to listen to

While I get ready to post a very long entry about OK Go, here is a short little interlude for your listening pleasure:

  • Lately I’m been jamming a lot to “Songs” by The Van Allen Belt, a Pittsburgh band that I saw a while back at the Blue Circle release show. I think Tamar Kamin’s voice is mesmerizing. I’m hoping they make their way back to the bay area sometime so I can see them again!
  • Speaking of Blue Circle, click the link and have a listen to some of my favorite tracks: “Deserve You More,” “Thomas Curse,” and “Counting Out.” Actually, just listen to the whole album! It’s marvelous.
  • Recently heard for the first time: “In My Mind” by Amanda Palmer, which might just be the best description of my life, ever. Great listening if you’re having a quarterlife crisis. 
  • Kishi Bashi’s new album is out! I love love love it, and can’t wait to see him at the Fillmore later this month! First video from the album here.
    • Favorite 8tracks playlists lately: driving in cars with somewhat strangers (includes the aforementioned Amanda Palmer song, also more Kishi Bashi, also just a lot of awesome stuff) / i’m gonna make it (general feel-good music) / tints of azure (I use this one if I really need to get something done at work and need to tune out all distractions around me)
    Enjoy the music….be back in a bit!

    Another instant obsession

    I’ve had some seriously stressful weeks latelythe kind that involve skipping lunch and sleepless nights and life evaluationbut just as everything was coming to a head, I stumbled upon an amazing artist whose music that instantly made me feel better about…everything.

    Crazy how something as simple as a song can do that: just make you step back for a second and take a deep breath and enjoy life. This guy, Kishi Bashi, creates otherworldly sounds with his voice and violin, and here is a beautiful video of one of my current favorites:

    If you are intrigued, do yourself a favor and watch/listen to some more: It All Began With A BurstBright Whites. These songs are great on the album (which I almost immediately downloaded), but watching him perform them live is even better. I hope I get to see him in concert at some point!

    For the record, he also just seems like a really cool guy. His YouTube account is mostly short random videos like this which have less views than our high school pit videos (how?!), along with a couple incredibly well-produced videos of his songs.

    I’m an instant fan.