Concert Review: The National @ Uptown Theater In KC (9/29/10)
I saw The National + Owen Pallett last night at Uptown Theater in Kansas City. I wasn’t allowed to take my camera in so I didn’t get any pictures, but I can still talk about it!
(not my picture)
Owen Pallett—boring songs, excellent musician/performer. Owen was amazing but I just could not feel connected to his songs. Maybe if he had just played and not involved singing/lyrics, I would have enjoyed it more. He’s a fantastic musician but I nearly fell asleep.
The National were AMAZING. I couldn’t believe how incredible the entire performance was. In the encore when they played “Mr. November,” Matt (the lead singer) started crowd surfing as he sang the line, “I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders.” The crowd went wild and it was so fun to watch (I was up in the balcony).
In late 2008 or so, “Boxer” was the album I listened to the most. So when they played “Slow Show” and “Fake Empire,” I cried. Those sings strike a nerve with me and it’s hard to explain. The entire band just sounded absolutely incredible, and I was overcome with emotion. I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend you go see The National if they play anywhere near you.
Highlights: Slow Show, Fake Empire, Terrible Love, Matt crowd surfing during “Mr. November”
"City Girl" is originally a Tegan song. For those who are unaware, Tegan and Sara write songs separately and sing back-up for their own tracks on each album (this changed for "The Con" and some songs on "Sainthood").
In this version, Sara sang lead and I think I like it more than the original Tegan version. I have so many great live Tegan and Sara songs but I don’t want to flood Live Versions Week with only T&S, so I’ll try to contain myself.
Josh Ritter - “Kathleen” (live from Dublin Castle)
This version of “Kathleen” gives me chills, especially when the crowd sings along (which is pretty much the entire song). “Kathleen” is a gorgeous song originally on the album, “Hello Starling.”
Josh Ritter is a musical genius (check out all of his albums) and he is absolutely magnetic in concert. This song doesn’t do his stage presence justice. I saw him front row standing in Lawrence, KS, back in July of 2009 and I was FLOORED. I’m talking jaw-dropping, misty-eyed type of floored.
QUICK ANNOUNCEMENT: Last week was Covers Week and it was so much fun, I plan on doing it again sometime. This week will be Live Version Week. Each day, I’ll post live versions of songs by various artists/bands. I’m looking forward to it because I have so many great songs waiting in the wings. Now, a much needed news post!
+JENNY LEWIS AND JOHNATHAN RICE+ Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice are set to record a live album at Jack White’s Third Man Records. This has “AMAZING” written all over it, I can smell it. This is TODAY, people! I bet the store will be PACKED.
+FIONA APPLE+ It’s been five years since Fiona released “Extraordinary Machine.” That album remains one of my favorite albums of the last decade, and perhaps even of all time. It’s just a fantastic record. Fiona’s untitled fourth LP is set to be released in Spring 2011. I, for one, am on the edge of my seat!
+TEGAN AND SARA+ Tegan and Sara recently celebrated their 30th birthday. They were on the Polaris Music Prize shortlist and performed "Alligator" and "The Ocean" (click those links to watch) at the ceremony with the help of Owen Pallett. Both songs were beautiful. Unfortunately, the girls didn’t win. However, “Sainthood” went Gold in Canada! I’d say that makes for a fabulous 30th birthday.
+MATES OF STATE AND TOM WAITS+ Tom Waits recently Twittered about Mates of State covering “Long Way Home.” That cover can be found on Mates of State’s newest album, “Crushes: The Covers Mixtape.” Tom and I enjoy the cover.
+PHIL COLLINS AND BROOKLYN INDIE ROCKERS+ "Norwegian TV show Lydverket did an interview with Phil Collins, prefaced by interview clips with Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo, Sleigh Bells’ Derek Miller, and Yeasayer’s Anand Wilder talking about their love for Genesis and Collins.” Check it out here. This link also includes Sara Quin’s (of Tegan and Sara) love of Phil Collins, as well as a chat between Peter Gabriel and Alan of Neon Indian. In a battle, my money would be on Peter Gabriel because I love that man, but Phil Collins is pretty rad himself.
+LEONARD COHEN+ 17 great covers of Leonard Cohen songs NOT including “Hallelujah.” Artists include: Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), R.E.M., Concrete Blonde, Johnny Cash, Josh Ritter, Regina Spektor, Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel, and more.
+SPIN MAGAZINE: 25 FALL ALBUMS THAT MATTER MOST+ Included on this list: Interpol, Brandon Flowers, The Walkmen, Weezer, No Age, Deerhunter, The Corin Tucker Band, Antony and the Johnsons, among others.
Mates of State - “California” (Phantom Planet cover)
I’ve posted about Mates of State before because they are just so damn adorable. They covered Phantom Planet’s “California” (you may know it as “The O.C.” theme song) back in 2006 or so when “The O.C.” released a soundtrack of all covers (“The O.C. Mix 6: Covering Our Tracks”).
Mates of State have sort of become professionals at covering songs and sounding good doing it, as evidenced by their newest album, “Crushes: The Covers Mixtape.”
This is the last day of Covers Week, but I plan on doing it again sometime. It was so much fun.
Kristine Tuna - “You Wouldn’t Like Me In The Dark” (mash-up of Bruce Springsteen + Tegan and Sara)
I’ve been friends with Tuna for about…three years or so now. She makes me laugh and I really really like her EP “fall asleEP.” But I digress.
A year or two ago, Tuna decided to cover The Boss + Tegan and Sara, but did it by making a mash-up of “You Wouldn’t Like Me” (Tegan and Sara) and “Dancing In The Dark” (Bruce). I really like how she mashed the songs together, and they blend together surprisingly well…
Two of my all-time favorite artists blended together into one adorable version = two thumbs up from me.
Ben Gibbard - “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” (Cyndi Lauper cover)
It’s no secret that I love Cyndi Lauper. She’s fierce and still rocking at 50+ years of age. I saw her live in D.C. two summers ago and she was full of energy.
I stumbled across this cover about a month ago and liked it. It’s similar to Greg Laswell’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” cover version in the sense that they’re both slowed down compared to the original, but I really like what Ben (of Death Cab for Cutie) did with this song.
I announced yesterday that I’d be posting one cover a day for the next week (or two). I chose Rogue Wave’s cover of “Maps” for two reasons: 1) It’s a great cover, and 2) In honor of the fact that I’m seeing Rogue Wave and Midlake co-headline a show tonight in Lawrence.
I have some fabulous covers in store for the coming week(s). GET READY.
I start my new job tomorrow, so posts will probably be in the evening from now on during the work week.
I remember hearing “I Remember” for the first time because someone had put it on a “sexy time” playlist that I downloaded. I was in love with the song (and, honestly, would have maybe liked to have sexy time with the song itself, but I digress). I remembered having seen something from Yeasayer on my computer recently. After some digging, I realized I had downloaded “Odd Blood” and had just forgotten to listen to it.
I played the entire album about three times in a row that day. It is just such a great record. I anticipate “Odd Blood” making my top 20 favorite albums of 2010. Take a listen to this song, then go find the album. I can’t guarantee you won’t regret it but if you do, I’ll hand-deliver a gigantic case of your favorite candy to your door.*
Tegan and Sara - “Relief Next To Me” demo version (from “The Con Demos”)
It was late 2005 the first time I heard of Tegan and Sara. My friend Kevin suggested I listen to them, as he had heard them on Sirius Satellite Radio - Left Of Center. I listened to “Walking With A Ghost” and wasn’t all that interested (it still remains one of my least favorite songs of theirs). The second song I listened to was “Living Room” and I was hooked.
I now have their entire discography, including demos and unreleased/live tracks. In late 2008 (maybe earlier, maybe later…I can’t remember), Tegan and Sara released all of their demos from “The Con” as a fundraiser for the memorial fund of a former member of the T&S team (their former laywer maybe). One of my friends picked the CD up for me at a show and sent it my way.
"Relief Next To Me" is one of my favorite Tegan and Sara songs, as well as my #1 favorite Sara song. The demo version isn’t too different from the original, but it’s different enough to hear how much the album version progressed. If you are able to find a CD of "The Con Demos" for sale at a reasonable price, I’d recommend buying it. Otherwise, just find the mp3 version and enjoy.
Key demo tracks: Relief Next To Me, Floorplan, Back In Your Head, Call It Off, Soil, Soil
In late 2005, my friend Kevin sent me a mix CD of his favorite tracks of the year. “Alligator” by The National was on that CD. I liked to chant “I won’t fuck us over, I’m Mr. November” with the song whenever I listened to it.
When “Boxer” came out in 2007, I was instantly smitten with the entire album. It was difficult for me to choose between posting “Slow Show” or “Fake Empire.” They are both such amazing songs, but “Slow Show” ended up winning. If I could post two songs, I would post “Fake Empire” right along with it though. “Slow Show” has such a powerful build, it gives me chills when I listen to it sometimes. Matt Berninger’s voice always puts me into a trance, and this is such a gorgeous song.
When I was in Philadelphia in June, I found “Boxer” on vinyl in a record shop. It was new yet relatively inexpensive compared to most unused contemporary records, so I snatched it up. “Boxer” is just an amazing album through and through. I’m seeing The National play at Uptown Theater in KC on Sept. 29 and I could not be more excited.
The National released a new album, “High Violet,” earlier this year. It’s worth checking out as well.
+JOSH RITTER+ Josh Ritter & Dawn Landes cover “500 Miles” (originally by Hedy West) over at The Ruckus. I love me some Ritter.
+LED ZEPPELIN+ I have to start this section by stating that I LOVE LOVE LOVE Led Zeppelin. The upcoming Led Zeppelin tribute album will feature artists such as M. Ward, Laura Veirs, Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, and The Long Winters. The full tracklist can be found at the above link. The 50-track, 2-disc album comes out October 12.
+JACK WHITE+ Jack White invented a new type of vinyl record. SAY WHAAAAAAAAAAAT? File this under “completely unnecessary but marginally cool at the same time.” It’s OK, Jack, we’re used to your wonky shenanigans by now.
+THE MORNING BENDERS+ The Morning Benders covered Paul McCartney’s “Ram On.” You can listen to the cover and download it at the link. They also came out with “echomix 2,” a remix album of other peoples’ songs (also available for download).
+JAMES MCCARTNEY+ Paul McCartney’s son is set to release a solo EP. The EP is titled “Available Light” and will be available in stores starting Sept. 21. The EP includes a cover of Neil Young’s “Old Man.” I was going to make some deep comment about how I’m sure James has the desire to break out from under his dad’s massive image/career, but I decided I’d go with the JUST-THE-FACTS-MA’AM approach.
+100 BEST BAND NAMES OF ALL TIME+ Paste Magazine compiled a list of the 100 best bands names of all time, according to them. Included choices: Attractive Eighties Women, The The, Butthole Surfers, Say Hi To Your Mom (now simply Say Hi), and Hostile Comb-Over, . All I know is this makes my dream band name, Neon Fucking Unicorns, seem damn fine.
+SPIN MAGAZINE: OCTOBER ISSUE/FREE TRACKS+ Get 18 tracks from artists featured in Spin Magazine’s October issue, via iTunes.
Dragonette - “Okay Dolore” feat. Sara Quin (from “Fixin To Thrill”)
This album came out in September 2009, but it has been one of the albums I’ve most listened to in 2010. In fact, “Okay Dolore” might be my favorite song of the last 12 months. It might be pretty short (2:34) but great things come in small packages, right?
I forget when I first heard about Dragonette, but it was probably early 2009. I didn’t pay much attention, so when “Fixin To Thrill” came out, I figured I’d check it out. I was blown away. It is such a thoroughly enjoyable album with so many great tracks.
"Okay Dolore" is my favorite track on the album. I love how fun and energized it is. Sara Quin (of Tegan and Sara) added vocals to the song, which I think make it even better than it would have been if Martina had been the only singer to appear on it.
Quite a few of my friends have seen Dragonette perform in concert and have told me that it is a DO NOT MISS kind of thing. Fingers crossed they swing through here in the near future. Go check them out if you can, and buy “Fixin To Thrill” ASAP! Even if it means you have to borrow Mommy’s and Daddy’s credit card…
Key tracks: Fixin To Thrill, Liar, Stupid Grin, Pick Up The Phone, Okay Dolore, Don’t Be Funny
The Shins - “Strange Powers” (The Magnetic Fields cover)
Until I heard The Shins’ cover of The Magnetic Fields’ “Strange Powers,” my favorite cover The Shins had done was “We Will Become Silhouettes” (originally by The Postal Service).
I talked about The Magnetic Fields earlier this month, including how many contemporary bands/artists (Arcade Fire, Ben Gibbard, The Antlers, Peter Gabriel, etc.) seem to be as into The Magnetic Fields as I am. This cover is rather pleasant, and I’m glad I stumbled upon it.
The Shins are great, and it’s worth it to you to check out The Magnetic Fields as well. “Strange Powers” can be found on The Magnetic Fields’ album, “Holiday.”
I’ve liked Metric since around 2005 or so. I think “Combat Baby” (from “Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?”) was the first song I heard by them. I hadn’t heard much from them until 2008 when my friend Nick (huge Metric fan) told me about their new release, “Fantasies.” I posted an acoustic version of “Gold Guns Girls” (from “Plug In, Plug Out”) back in Augustin honor of my upcoming late-August trip to Toronto (they’re from Toronto). I didn’t talk much about “Fantasies” though, so that’s what this post is for.
The first time I listened to “Fantasies,” I happened to be out jogging, trying to get in shape before I went to police academy. I remember being so blown away by the album that I actually stopped jogging and just listened for a good five minutes. “Fantasies” was an instant favorite, and remains one of my favorite albums of all times. That might seem strange to say about a 2008 album from a band who hasn’t been around all that long in comparison to some more established acts, but years from now this album will remain a thoroughly excellent record and will always hold a special place in my heart.
It wasn’t until a few months ago that Nick mentioned there being b-sides to this album. “Say whaaaaat?” was the gist of my reaction. I got my grubby little paws on two b-sides—“The Gates” and “Waves.” I could see/hear/understand why “The Gates” didn’t make the album, but I was absolutely astonished that “Waves” was just a b-side. I think “Waves” might be my favorite track from the “Fantasies” sessions and I definitely think it should have made the original cut (maybe it could have replaced “Collect Call” or “Front Row”—not that those songs aren’t awesome in their own right, they just aren’t favorites of mine). I find that when I listen to “Waves,” I have to listen to it multiple times in a row. In fact, it’s on loop as I type this post.
Not only do I love Metric, but I also really like Emily Haines’ solo material. As most people might know, Emily was/is a member of Broken Social Scene (in fact, she can be heard on some tracks from their newest album, “Forgiveness Rock Record”) and in the middle of some Metric albums, she has released a couple of solo records—one under Emily Haines and one under Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. Emily also collaborated with Tiësto on his recent album, “Kaleidoscope,” for a track called “Knock You Out.” I highly recommend checking out her solo material as well as “Fantasies” and Metric’s entire discography.
From L-R (in no particular order): Static Anonymity EP, Mainstream EP, Live It Out, Grow Up And Blow Away, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?; KEXP Seattle (Sept. 7, 2009), Live At Massey Hall (2009), Plug In, Plug Out (acoustic album); Cut In Half And Also Double (Emily Haines), Knives Don’t Have Your Back (Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton)
I’ve been aching to see Metric in concert for years, but I somehow always seem to miss them when they come through KC and Lawrence. I saw them play at Lilith Fair in July. It was a short set, but my favorite set of the festival. Emily Haines is a straight-up rock goddess.
Key tracks: Help I’m Alive, Satellite Mind, Gold Guns Girls, Gimme Sympathy, Blindness, Stadium Love, Waves, Crowd Surf Off A Cliff (from Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, “Knives Don’t Have Your Back”)
The Magnetic Fields - “I Don’t Want To Get Over You” (from “69 Love Songs”)
The Magnetic Fields are one of my favorite bands of all time. My friend Kevin introduced me to the Boston-based band when I was in university. I only knew two songs at the time (“I Don’t Want To Get Over You” and “I Thought You Were My Boyfriend”). One day on a whim, I decided to order their 3-CD box-set “69 Love Songs” from Amazon. It was THE BEST random musical purchase I have ever made.
I immediately fell in love with the quirky lyrics, original sound, and Stephin Merritt’s voice. Stephin was singing about men he has loved, lost, and pined for. On some of the songs, the other band members were able to showcase their voices as well. The entire box-set is just plain amazing. “I Don’t Want To Get Over You” breaks my heart every time I listen to it.
Only a short time went by before I completely went down the rabbit hole in search of all of their albums. Since “69 Love Songs” cemented an eternal spot for itself in my heart, I’ve “discovered” seven other records that they’ve put out: The Charm Of The Highway Strip, Distortion, Get Lost, Holiday, I, Realism, The Wayward Bus/Distant Plastic Trees.
As I started searching for more and more material by The Magnetic Fields, I began to find that I wasn’t the only person who loved them. I started “discovering” covers that other bands/artists had done of The Magnetic Fields. Covers include:
+Arcade Fire - “Born On A Train” (originally from “The Charm Of The Highway Strip”) +The Antlers - “Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing” (from “69 Love Songs: Vol. 1”) +Ben Gibbard - “The Saddest Story Ever Told” (from “The Wayward Bus/Distant Plastic Trees”) +Peter Gabriel - “The Book Of Love” (from “69 Love Songs: Vol. 1”) +The Shins - “Strange Powers” (from “Holiday”)
I would recommend the box-set (as well as additional albums) to anyone and everyone. You certainly won’t regret it.
Key tracks: I Don’t Want To Get Over You, I Thought You Were My Boyfriend, Born On A Train, Absolutely Cuckoo, All My Little Words, A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off, I Think I Need A New Heart, The Book Of Love, No One Will Ever Love You, (Crazy For You But) Not That Crazy, I Shatter
Mates of State - “Get Better” (from “Re-Arrange Us”)
I talked about Mates of Statethe other day when I posted their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News” from their newest album “Crushes (The Covers Mixtape).” Now I’m here to talk about their 2008 album “Re-Arrange Us.”
Mates of State have put out a handful of records, but “Re-Arrange Us” is my favorite of all their releases. Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla had pivotal roles in the making of “Re-Arrange Us” (production credits along with instruments and vocals on certain tracks), which gave it an extra musical kick.
The first time I listened to this album, I was visiting my friend Claire in Lawrence, where she went to university at KU. I was attending the rival school K-State (Manhattan, KS) and was in Lawrence for a short visit. Claire and I stopped at a little store to pick up some candy for our movie marathon and “Re-Arrange Us” was on display by the cash register. Claire bought a copy because Mates of State are a married couple who met at KU and they’re a pretty big deal in and around Lawrence. She immediately unwrapped the CD when we got back to the car. She popped the CD in and the rest is history. I was instantly smitten and made the decision to seek out more Mates of State; and you should do the same.
I’m itching to see these two lovely people in concert.
Key tracks: Get Better, My Only Offer, Now, Blue And Gold Print
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I EFFING LOVE BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. I found out Paste Magazine compiled a list of their 10 favorite Bruce Springsteen cover songs.
The Boss is…well…THE BOSS for a reason. The list: 10. Vampire Weekend - “I’m Going Down” 9. Tegan and Sara - “Dancing In The Dark” (I posted this HERE) 8. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - “Cadillac Ranch” 7. Bat For Lashes - “I’m On Fire” 6. Camera Obscura - “Tougher Than The Rest” 5. Tortoise and Bonnie “Prince” Billy - “Thunder Road” 4. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - “Born In The U.S.A.” 3. Johnny Cash - “I’m On Fire” 2. David Bowie - “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City” 1. The Hold Steady - “Atlantic City”
Okkervil River - “John Allyn Smith Sails” (from “The Stage Names”)
Okkervil River has been one of my favorite bands for about two years now. My friend Nadia introduced me to their music and I instantly became a fan. The writing style is just so different from just about everything else out there in the world of music, and I was blown away.
"John Allyn Smith Sails" is one of the most beautiful, depressing songs I’ve ever heard. It incorporates the old folk song "Sloop John B" (made famous, but not created, by The Beach Boys). It’s so well-done and heart-wrenching. I had heard this song a few times before I actually LISTENED. When I finally paid attention to the lyrics, I started bawling uncontrollably (which was somewhat awkward since I was exercising at the time).
While Okkervil River have quite a few albums, my two favorites are “The Stage Names” and “The Stand-Ins.” You definitely should check them out. The lyrics are to die, cry, and swoon for.
Key tracks: Lost Coastlines, John Allyn Smith Sails, Red, Westfall, Black, The Velocity Of Saul At The Time Of His Conversion, Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe, Unless It’s Kicks