Monday, June 15, 2009

Bonnaroo Day 4: Sunday

With Sunday came the anticipation for a large finale. With Phish closing out the weekend, as well as an appearance by The Dead's Warren Haynes with Gov't Mule speculation ran wild that with the slew of guest appearances, a Grateful Dead and Phish union would be in order.

Dillinger Escape Plan
The New Jersey hardcore band, which had joined Nine Inch Nails on stage the previous night opened up a slew of metal performances for the day, which would later include Shadows Fall and Coheed & Cambria gracing the same stage. Despite playing earlier the band riled the crowd to mosh pit levels, standing aloft on boxes while hammering the crowd with rapid time shifts and belligerent screaming. While the group provided the crowd with a spastic energy, the lead singer even diving into the crowd, most of the group's songs over time proved indistinguishable though they imparted some useful knowledge including the universal truism "it's never too early to rock for roll."

Citizen Cope
While Todd Snider was entertaining the tent crowd with stories of his own psychedelic transformation and missed football practices, Citizen Cope kept a large audience rapt with his simple R&B influenced brand of rock. His soulful voice seldom missed a note as he went from soothing wailing to middle-eastern chanting. Citizen Cope proved the right fit for the slow Sunday atmosphere, with many lounging on the lawn, tired from the weekend's whirlwind of events.

Okkervil River
Opening up with "Plus Ones" off 2007's "The Stage Names" Okkervil River showcased a set constituting mostly older material. The Austin, Texas indie act's frontman, Will Shef strained his vocal chords to the max belting out his intricate lyrics over danceable trumpets, while frequently acting apologetic for the band's soft songs. Though the crowd did not seem to mind as it only grew with time, no doubt incited by the group's tight live reproductions and witty song introductions like "this song is about jumping off a bridge."

Andrew Bird
Elsewhere Andrew Bird whistled his way through a tight set complete with a showcasing of his clear singing, and violin virtuoso-ship. Backed by swirling gramophones Bird was determined to provide an old-time feeling to his set, which was capable of both breathtaking quiet and mounting soundscapes.

Snoop Dogg
Free from the burden of being the only hip-hop emcee whose legend has been marred by his recent reality show status, Snoop Dogg seemed at ease, if a few minutes late to his main stage evening set. Opening with strong song selections including "The Next Episode," "Gin 'N Juice," and Akon hit "I Wanna F*ck You," Snoop made many shout-outs to the ladies and proved adept at working the crowd. At times using anything to get a reaction including shout outs to fellow rapper Tupac Shukur and even turning the crowd on itself with a mini east coast, west coast chant battle. Eventually Snoop was joined on stage by Erykah Badu, fresh from her set on the stage earlier, the two collaborating on a few tunes however it was not the last collaboration of the day.

It seems few attendees left Sunday night, as most were intent on seeing the reunited Phish for a second time in three days. Armed with their signature light show and wild crowd which brought everything from beach balls to inflatable octopuses, Phish jammed out for an extended time on songs like "Tweezer" and "Gotta Jibboo." Phish proved a satisfying live act, with all four members showcasing their jamming abilities, evening welcoming Bruce Springsteen onstage to showcase his own. The Boss fronted Phish through a series of classics including "Mustang Sally" and "Glory Days." And while this might not have been the super collaboration many Phish fans and deadheads had been hoping for, there's always next year.

Bonnaroo Day 3: Saturday

Wilco rock Bonnaroo's main stage with a rousing rendition of A Ghost Is Born era staple, "Handshake Drugs"

By Saturday afternoon the sun had begun to spill its unforgiving heat upon the masses, the extreme temperatures causing set difficulties and delays, as even those seeking shelter underneath the shaded tents found little relief. Opening with fan favorite "Skinny Love," Bon Iver provided a strong show from an unlikely cast. Lead singer Justin Vernon hulked over his guitar bellowing out notes with pinpoint accuracy with his backing group providing a steady dose of rippling accents. The group rattled off songs from their debut album "For Emma, Forever Ago," as well as tracks from their new Blood Bank EP. This included some set highlights like a blistering full band version of "Blood Bank" and a stark solo performance of "Beach Baby" following by an unaccompanied Vernon who dedicated the track to "dreams of making out on the beach."

Gov't Mule
Formed in the wake of the Allman Bros. early 90's reunion, Government Mule has quickly become a festival staple due in part to prominent lead guitarist Warren Haynes. Haynes who plays guitar with the Allmans as well as the The Dead took his six-string prowess to the evening crowd with heavy, shrieking guitar solos to rival among the best of the weekend. Gov't Mule tried early to integrate the crowd with a chorus of "hell yeahs," a move that was successful at drawing wanderers into their circle of blues heavy grooves and guitar showmanship defined by their stomping version of "Don't Step on the Grass, Sam."

Of Montreal
Anticipation was high outside the tent for Of Montreal with the young indie group drawing many away from the main stage attraction Wilco. However Kevin Barnes and company were plagued by set problems in the sweltering tent, prompting the show to begin later than expected.

Jenny Lewis
Flanked by a modest collection of towel layers and chair sitters, Lewis with her bell clear voice sounding over the speakers, charmed the small audience with tales of run-ins with the law, barroom fist-fights and those troubled boys up to no good. The Rilo Kiley lead singer excelled in the small setting with her backing band providing impressively layered acoustics which integrating cowbells and back-up vocals into the mix. The set even Included a surprise back-up performance from Elvis Costello in what was yet another in the seeming never-ending string of unannounced collaboration this week on her song "Carpetbaggers."

Playing under a bright blue afternoon sky, Wilco lead off with new single "Wilco, The Song" off the groups latest effort "Wilco, The Album." Jeff Tweedy spanned the range of his career, integrating newer material "Bull Black Nova," "Side with the Seeds" with a renewed emphasis on "A Ghost is Born" era tracks like "Company in the Back," and "Handshake Drugs" coming early and leading the band to their highest levels. Guitarist Nels Cline provided the guitar hero spark on the later songs rippling off tearing solos from his heavily chipped black guitar. Hardly stopping to banter with the crowd lead singer and principal songwriter Jeff Tweedy, clad in all black, offered up "it's good to be back" as the group's only sentiments to those gathered, many of whom were awaiting Bruce Springsteen's headlining set.

Mars Volta
Coming out to a what could only be described as a distorted Sergio Leonne soundtrack, the Mars Volta descended onto the stage with the outright intentions of baffling the crowd. After stumbling through "Goliath," lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zaxlava quipped "I just wrote it, I don't have to remember it, do I?" Powering through the minor guff, the Mars Volta settled down into a heavily psychedelic set marked prominently by Omar Rodriquez Lopez's unique guitar showmanship which dominated the band's mammoth soundscapes. Despite a new release on the way, Mars Volta integrated old favorites like "Drunkship of Lanterns" into a largely free form set that featured jams as well as three new songs off the group's forthcoming album, Octahedron. The band faltered a bit in the middle, with their meandering jams quickly running out of tricks, though even at their weakest, singer Bixler-Zaxlava proved an entertaining frontman with his wild mane of black hair and penchant for odd song introductions like "this song owes me $40." However in all likelihood the Mars Volta's sonic assault proved enough to cement Volta as a premium live act, ensuring that if his songs are still defaulting on their loans he will still be able to make the bills.

The Decemberists
The Decemberists played their new album, "The Hazards of Love" to a sizeable crowd at one of the side tents, providing a soothing melodic distraction to those not enamored by the spiraling insanity of the Mars Volta. However while most of the band's material is down tempo they proved capable of stadium sized riffs on new album tracks like "The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid," which found lead singer Colin Meloy and guitarist Chris Funk trading shrieking guitar lines. The Decemberists were dressed for the occasion despite the heat, as all were well-dressed enough for a formal evening dinner. After airing out the new album The Decemberists came out firing with stronger singles "The Crane Wife 3" and "O Valencia!" off of their major label debut, The Crane Wife.

Bruce Springsteen
Headliners Bruce Springsteen & the E Street band played unopposed to a capacity crowd breaking out new songs, "Radio Nowhere," classics "Born to Run" and odd requests from fans, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" over a three and a half hour set. Bruce addressed the crowd often, thanking Bonnaroo for the invite to what he dubbed their "second ever festival appearance." On stage the infamous band performed without new Tonight Show drummer Max Weinburg but came complete with numerous guitar players, and back-up singers (10 in all) thickening the sound for the football sized area (not that this is new for the band). The Boss was loose and loud playing sounds with an impressive stamina that would but most bands to shame. Grooving his way through "10th Avenue Freeze Out," the Boss performed some impressively phallic microphone tricks as well as stop on a dime song transitions. Overall, the Boss that kept audience involved, even inviting one lucky fan to dance on stage in an homage to his former video vixen Courtney Cox during the finale "Dancing in the Dark." All in all, the Boss left the screaming for more even after the marathon set and the group's final bows.

Nine Inch Nails
In what lead singer Trent Reznor dubbed the band's "last U.S. show ever," the twenty plus year old industrial act performed to a sizeable crowd at the Which Stage, the venue's second largest stage. Over cascading white smoke, lasers and raining glow sticks Nine Inch Nails' showcased their knack for off-kilter rhythms and shrieking guitars in songs like recent single "Discipline." Though the set was far from a greatest hits occasion, featuring cuts from their recent all instrumental release Ghosts (I-IV) as a sharp and startling cover of David Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans." As a live act, the band's darker material lightened proving less dense and more upbeat in the live setting.

Across the way at a smaller tent, MGMT drew an equally large crowd at one of the venue's smaller tents with some standing on shoulders and rafters to get a closer look. The band's second appearance in two such years was a significant departure for the growing band as they showed a willingness to breakaway from their traditional keyboard heavy pop sound. MGMT showcased new material from their latest recording sessions which was met with largely mixed results. The new material was not the only thing that sounded out of place as even old songs were reworked to be more guitar and band oriented. Back tracks like "Pieces of What" and "Weekend Wars" benefitted from the re-tooling process, however the groups big singles "Time to Pretend" and "Kids" proved harder to replicate under the new format. The set lasted over an hour and proved that the group, which had until this point created their music in studio with two principal members, has made the decision to be taken seriously as a traditional band. Still, while their live act improved over last years uneven set, MGMT showed they have chosen a path with a difficult road ahead.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bonnaroo Day 2: Friday

The Decemberists' Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee talk backstage by Steven Smith of Fuse's "Steven's Untitled Rock Show"

Friday brought much needed relief in the form of bright skies and high temperatures as a slew of big stars descended on the fields of Manchester, Tennessee. With the new day a new set of rumors emerged, The Superjam, a Bonnaroo staple that brings together diverse artists for a free form jam had yet to be scheduled and as of Saturday morning was revealed to be canceled for the 2009 year. However Jimmy Buffet has been confirmed via Facebook to be joining a group of musicians the star discovered in Africa, ILO & The Coral Reefer AllStars, for an early Saturday session, sure to be getting campers up bright and early. As for the biggest rumor, Big Hassle Media would neither confirm nor deny that the living remnants of the Grateful Dead are here amongst the never-ending sea of tents. In response to the query from the press, Ken Weinstein a Big Hassle Media spokesman would only offer the statement that “the Dead are with us always.”

Dirty Projectors
Following Katzenjammer, Dirty Projectors took the stage at That Tent early Friday afternoon, the band was a part of a David Byrne curated lineup that included folk songstress Ani DiFranco and the pop savvy Santigold. The Dirty Projectors rocked the small tent quickly warping from drum-heavy freak-outs to funky pop mixes that found both of the bands female vocalists trading impressive notes. The band kept tent-goers on their toes and saved the best surprise for last, an impromptu performance with Mr. Talking Head himself. David Byrne modestly joined the band for their last track, choosing instead to accent the track with backing vocals rather than over shadow the talented young band.

Animal Collective
Leading off with “My Girls” and “Summertime Clothes” off the group’s latest album Merriweather Post Pavillion, Animal Collective were the first highly anticipated set of the day drawing a sizeable crowd with their unique blend of mixing the art of the turntable into the traditional band format. Draped by fluorescent lights that were all but impotent in the daytime, the group’s music suffered from the brightness and scale of the outdoor setting. Though it was something that the band were able to eventually overcome as they pulled out an assortment of musical tricks including mixing live drums and guitar into songs like “Lion in a Coma” and “Brother Sport.”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Despite the mixed reception to the New York band’s latest album, “It’s Blitz!” the Yeah Yeah Yeahs came out to a tumultuous applause, particularly for lead singer Karen O who dominated the stage with her wild woman persona. With an even mix of old favorites “Cheated Hearts” and new material, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs kept things tight and fast, the new material benefitting from the atmosphere and energy of the set. The trio was joined on stage by a keyboard player who added accents to old and new songs while Karen O pranced around the stage garbed in a leopard skin tights and a vivid blue parka. Karen O. proved adept at able to turn violent screams into soothing “la la las” with the force of a whirlwind, eventually breaking down on stage, pulling her hair erratically and demonstrating her ability to hold a microphone without hands. “Zero” and “Gold Lion” brought the set its highest levels as guitarist Nick Zinner proved an equally enamoring stage presence as the charismatic front woman. Indeed the real strength of the band was the maximization of the details, with simple chord changes producing song-altering shockwaves. The group stumbled toward the end with Zinner’s guitar succumbing to the heat, forcing the group to play their smash first single “Maps” acoustic for the crowd. Overall, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs proved an odd fit for the mid-afternoon heat, cracking smiles, working the crowd and proving despite their black attire and trashcan tunes, that they can be a surprisingly fun and engaging attraction even to casual fans.

Al Green
Around evening time, soul legend Al Green brought his groove to the main stage playing songs from his latest Grammy-nominated album “Lay it Down” amongst old classics. Green proved an adept showman, letting his signature yelp leap through the speakers backed by a gospel quire and steady back-up band that brought more than just old fans to the main stage.

TV on the Radio
Festivalgoers flocked to the late evening set by Brooklyn’s TV on the Radio. Fresh off their latest album, the commercial success “Dear Science,” the group led off with slow jam “Love Dog.” Lead singer Tunde Adebimpe’s high energy yelp was in full force as he pogoed around stage often trading vocals with bassist Gerard Smith, a prominent fixture on the set due to his dense thicket of hair and bright yellow overalls. However despite running through stellar versions of new album tracks like “Crying,” “Halfway Home,” most of the new songs proved too slow for the eager crowd. Thus the band was forced to integrate old stand bys like “Dirtywhirl,” and “Wolf Like Me” early into the set. Overall, the quintet played impressively but failed at integrating the crowd at the same level as the stage’s previous residents, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Beastie Boys
Hip-hop legends the Beastie Boys came out swinging with renditions of classics tracks “No Sleep til Brooklyn,” “Sabotage” and “Remote Control.” On the later tracks the emcees brought out fellow NY rapper Nas for a brief collaboration. However both acts were left proving their live prowess for a crowd that was largely there anticipating the first of Phish’s two shows. Despite working against the current, the Beastie Boys played a diverse set that featured the trio grabbing instruments and jamming through tunes from their recent album “The Mix-Up,” even dipping into punk rock tunes that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Black Flag album. Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock backed by the speedy hands of DJ Mix Master Mike kept things loose and up-tempo extending songs and dipping into freestyles with the group declaring “this is not a tape or an I-Pod, this is real, live music.”

David Byrne
Elsewhere the alternative to the Beastie Boys was former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. Byrne placated the festival crowd with the entire second half of his set dedicated to material from his former band including a stirring rendition of “Burning Down the House.” Byrne, clad in an all white wardrobe was flanked by a group of similarly dressed back-up dancers providing visuals to go along with the music, the bodies even forming human waves during “Once in a Lifetime.” Byrne also dipped into more recent material from his latest Brian Eno produced album “Everything that Happens will Happen Today” before leaving the stage with enough time for the eager throngs of people to depart for the day’s main attraction, Phish.

See Sunday Review.

Public Enemy
Playing their entire album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” Public Enemy provided a full force show for all the “real hip-hop heads” looking to find an alternative to Phish. Flava Flav and Chuck D traded verses on stage flanked by their classic logo and a few others clad in military camouflage. Flava Flav was hard to miss on stage draped in an orange t-shirt with yellow shades and his signature clock and Viking helmet. In a humorous back stage moment, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog traded barbs with the VH1 star, quipping that Flava Flav wears a clock so he can “keep track of how far he’s set back the civil rights movement. On stage Flava Flav brought the humor if unintentionally, as he was unable to recall the album’s release date needing a reminder that it was released in 1988, not 1987. On stage though Public Enemy proved they are a powerful live act, with backing guitarists and bassists that were equal in talent to those of their rock counterparts. Public Enemy powered through the classic album with DJ Lord mixing behind them, and if they were unable to recall the album’s date or had difficulty communicating just exactly what they wanted to change about the “prison industrial complex,” none of which affected their music that seldom missed a beat.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bonnaroo 2009: Thursday Day 1

Cloudy skies and rain cast a shadow over the festival's first day

If the first night was highlighted mostly by sporadic weather, Thursday night's attractions were met with similarly uneven results. The forecast ranging from bands that generated the high voltage of Tennessee lightning to ones that barely generated the excitement of a passing shower. Despite Kanye West's infamous set problems last year, hip-hop regenerated in full force Thursday night with high-energy shows from festival newcomers, MURS and People Under the Stairs.

Both emcees were successful at integrating the crowd early and succeeded at keeping the drenched festival-goers dancing through the storm, each with their own individual styles. While MURS played mostly with hip-hop's commercially successful bass thud and soul-beat model, he was able to breath fresh life into the medium with his spitfire verses and solid beats succeeding on his promise that he would offer a, "fun approach to hip-hop." Despite that, the rapper born under the ironic name Nick Carter and who's alter-ego is slang for "Making Underground Raw Sh*t," offered surprising versatility with songs that discussed everything from his full-mane of dreadlocks to the nation's economic crisis.

Conversely People Under the Stairs provided a style that would be fitting coming out of a boom box, with DJ scratching provided live by the group. The One and Double K, the principal members of the group, traded verses often conversationally dipping into freestyles often and drawing in the crowd with tunes dedicated to their troubled home city. While People Under the Stairs were largely unknown to the crowd, they quickly won fans with their wit and showmanship, even asking coyly when the crowd stumbled through a sing-a-long, "what you guys didn't buy that record?"

The night's rock acts provided most of the uneven moments, with the biggest pressure of the night falling squarely on the shoulders of Cambridge, Massachusetts natives Passion Pit. The group generated a heavy buzz throughout the scatted campground and drew what was surely the largest crowd of the night. The five-piece band talked a big game with lead singer Michael Angelakos stirring up the crowd like the ring leader of the circus. Draped by their lighting personnel in the soothing tones of pink and purple, the group's sound was similarly limited by an equally bland musical palette. The song's off their debut album "Manners" sounded full live however they failed to incite the large crowd in the same ways as last year's This Tent headliners, Vampire Weekend and MGMT, a point of note as Passion Pit's sound seems a likely adaptation of Vampire Weekend's drum-heavy beats and MGMT's catchy keyboard flourishes. Varying from slow soulful keyboard infused pop tunes, to more uptempo synth-driven pop tunes, Passion Pit often sounded like they were going through the motions, robotically trodding over musical group that has recently been mostly colonized.

White Rabbits, who graced the same stage before the torrential rain fell also saw a sizable crowd and similar mixed results. The Brooklyn, New York natives have received high praise from England's premier music magazine NME, no doubt for their sound's heavy drawing from UK bands like The Specials and Arctic Monkeys. In spite of lofty comparisons the band fought against the sizable evening crowd drawing applause and maintaining interest at what was still one of the day's earlier shows.

Elsewhere The Low Anthem slowed things down at That Tent with a more mellow evening set. The Providence area band's members formed a virtual musical carousel, switching instruments and tones often. The group's members pulled duties on instruments as diverse as upright basses and violins while handing off vocal duties on song's like "This God Damn House" which they dedicated lovingly to a former band member. The Low Anthem kept things simple, sticking to lyrics that used simple imagery to craft songs about drinking, debauchery and wild and simple rhythms to craft tunes that ranged from keyboard laced acoustic downers to uptempo blues ditties like "Cigarettes and Whiskey."

Overall Thursday night's bands did little but whet the appetite and expectations for Friday's main event which offers up a lineup with acts as diverse as David Byrne, The Beastie Boys, and the main attraction Phish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Camera Obscura announces North American tour

Scottish gems of Camera Obscura are back in business with the release of their new album, ‘My Maudlin Career’ and an intense American tour underway. After the band finishes its rounds promoting the new material in Europe, the band will kick of their spring tour in Nashville and continue to play all over the country until late June. Check out the list of tour dates below to see if Camera Obscura is coming to razzle dazzle a town near you!

Get in on NPR’s ‘Exclusive First Listen’ of the band’s new album before it hits shelves on the 21st of this month.

Camera Obscura 2009 Spring Tour Dates:
5/27 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge

5/28 Newport, KY Southgate House

5/29 Chicago, IL Metro 

5/30 Minneapolis, MN Cedar Cultural Center

6/01 Denver, CO Bluebird

6/02 Salt Lake City, UTUrban Lounge

6/04 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom

6/05 Vancouver, BC Commodore

6/06 Seattle, WA Showbox

6/08 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore

6/09 Pomona, CA Glasshouse

6/11 Los Angeles, CA Henry Fonda Theatre 

6/13 Mexico City Lunario 

6/15 Austin, TX Antones

6/16 Dallas, TX The Loft 

6/18 Birmingham, AL Bottletree 

6/19 Atlanta, GAVariety Playhouse 

6/20 Carrboro, NC Cat's Cradle 

6/21 Washington, DC 930 Club

6/22Philadelphia, PA T L A

6/24New York, NY Webster Hall

6/25 Boston, MA Somerville Theatre

6/26Montreal, QUE La Tulipe

6/27 Toronto, ON Lee's Palace

6/29Columbus, OH Wexner Center Ohio State University

6/30 Pittsburgh, PA Mr. Smalls

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cannabis Reform Coalition Hosts Battle of the Bands

This Saturday the Cannabis reform coalition hosted its annual Battle of the Bands with the grand prize of an opening slot at one Amherst's biggest area events, Extravaganja. The event was held in the auditorium at the Mercy House at began at 6PM when opening act and event MCs Solo Sexx took the main stage to stir up the growing crowd. The group, comprised of two UMass students Julia Sherratt and Heather McCormick who described their act as "a big middle finger to a consumerist, male-driven circle jerk of a hip hop game." The ostentatious duo sported some outrageous outfits including lime green pants and silver jackets while running through songs like "Balle Funk" and "Nursery Grime." Mixing their spit-fire flow with hilarious choruses like the repeated "white people dancing"over thumbing techno beat, served to get people dancing before the start of the show.

Next up was another eclectic local act, Grex. The elaborate collective included acoustic guitarists, bongo players and violinists in a sound mash-up that sounded reminiscent to a less cohesive and more downbeat version to Gogol Bordello's outrageous gypsy punk. Even if the group's sound strayed far from this characterization they certainly looked the part, with most of the band perched indian style on-stage sporting dreadlocks and thrift store tights. The group meandered in and out of control for a bit often spiraling into chanting and drumming that felt meandering and lacked a specific focus. However when the group found its way it proved itself capable of dredging up a head-turning groove.

By now a more than sizable crowd had gathered at the event with many dropping 5 dollars for the "suggested donations" which were then denoted with an accompanying sign bearing the slogan, "strictly enforced." The event was well paced allowing enough time for the crowd to catch some of the lovely summer air between sets, which were filled periodically by local guitarist Damon Reeves who played some impromptu covers.

Next up was one of the highlights of the evening, the eventual winners of the competition Hampshire College's jazz-funk outift, The Bubonic Souls. Easily the largest band of the evening the Souls had not only the standard band combination of guitar, drums and bass but also came equipped with a horn section comprised of a flute player and saxophonist. If the band's sound wasn't enough to turn heads, then the bands sultry lead singer was. However she was not merely eye candy for the band but split time playing lead guitar and taking lead vocal duties on some of the groups songs. Tight, energetic and highly danceable, the band were an easy pick for as one of the leaders out of the gate even despite some of their more lounge act leanings.

The Handsome Truants followed suit, either disproving their name or perhaps proving it by avoiding other obligations. Despite having a tough opening act to follow the group quickly took the stage and whipped the crowd up to its previous frenzy. Consisting of 6 members the collective also includes three UMass grad students who comprised the guitar and drum sections of the band. However by far the most interesting aspect of the band was its enigmatic lead singer who crooned like old-time soul artists over the group's contemporary take on old school rock 'n roll. The songs road hard on their well composed drum beats which gave the crowd a chance to jump up and down and enjoy themselves.

Later acts included the events other winners, local funk outfit Shokazoba and heavy metal rockers Outer Stylie.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Girlyman play like girly men

The trio of Girlyman put on a show for a packed Iron Horse Friday evening, but it was a real snoozer. If you don't know anything about the band, they are less talented version of Nickel Creek. Girlyman had all the tools in the box to create some commendable harmonies they have recorded on previous albums, but Nate's flat notes were a hinderance to the performance.

Girlyman didn't have any opening acts - this was most likely due to the fact that they enjoyed their stage time far too much. The band told lame jokes about their lives as recording artists. Ty, the percussionist in Girlyman asked the crowd, "Has anybody here ever recorded an album?...I suggest you try it." It was just annoying to listen to them ramble about their lives as musicians.

The band tested out some new material - one of the new songs they played was "Easy Bake Oven." It sounded like everything else they played. They brought a good collection of strings with them, but I didn't stay long enough to hear them play them.