From the Useful Shit Department: Online calendars

I was over at the Bowery Presents website the other day (for those not in the area, they're the promoters of a vast majority of cool club shows in NYC) to check show times and I noticed something I hadn't before in the upper right hand corner of the page: iCal and Google Calendar links. So now, with a single click, I can superimpose every show they're putting on in the city over my Google Calendar (which is, in spite of my efforts to prevent it from becoming so, a now-indespensable life tool).

Granted, there's nothing life changing here, but it's just one more nice touch on a concert promoter's website full of nice touches, and some band sites could certainly learn from the simple utility therein. There's a Last.fm station playing soon-to-perform artists, a regular podcast promoting events, an email list, and the calendar links. The scramble not to be caught flat-footed by having no idea that your favorite band is in town just got a little less frustrating.


I'm missing Chairlift RIGHT NOW.

Photo by Ross Fraser
Chairlift, who might very well be on stage at the Knitting Factory as I type this at the end of a long night of sweating in my apartment, is today's swift-kick-to-the-ass for amassing such a backlog of to-be-listened-to songs that I never got to "Evident Utensil" (mp3) until it was too late.

Don't make the same mistake I did. Listen to this bizarre 80's-ish ode to pencils (other songs are about earwigs!) sooner rather than later, and don't waste the night languishing on your ass when they come through your town.

Chairlift's debut Does It Inspire You comes out 10/18/08 on Kanine Records, although it's apparently already available as a digital purchase at Amazon.

Update: an email from a BlackBerry confirms that yes, I am missing them right at this very moment.

The Confusions are still at it.

My favorite Swedish band, The Confusions, are in line to play the last set at this year's Storsjöyran Festival in their native land, hitting the stage at 1:30 AM on 8/2/08. What? You've never heard of the Storsjöyran Festival? Well turn in your Cool Dude Card right now, Buster, because the lineup features some of the raddest groups around, from Drive-By Truckers to Justice to Kris Kristofferson to Blondie!

Ok, I had never heard of it either.

If you like the song in the video above (it's called "Thin"), an email from the band assures me that for a limited time, an mp3 will be available here, although at the time of this posting, it doesn't seem to be working yet.



Margot & The Nuclear So & So's - Bowery Ballroom, 7/28/08

With two years having passed since the release of the fantastic The Dust of Retreat, I was expecting my first Margot show to feature a bunch of new songs. It did. The new stuff sounds good, and old favorites (for my money, it doesn't get better than "Talking in Code") sounded the way songs that have had a few years to mature on the road are meant to sound: better than they do on the record.

That said, it's a tall order to mix an 8 piece band live and make it sound like anything other than mush, and there were a few times Richard Edwards' vocals got completely lost in the mix. It's not so bad for a singer to get lost when you know all the songs by heart, but it certainly detracts from the excitement of a new song not to be able to make out the words. A few listens to "Broadripple Is Burning" on MySpace confirm what I figured upon hearing it last night for the first time: it's pretty as hell.

Anyway, Margot & The Nuclear So & So's are selling their recent Daytrotter Sessions (buy at that link, get a different tracklist for free at this one) these days, but will soon shift focus to the promotion of the September dual release of Animal! and Not Animal, the backstory of which is...interesting. Not Animal is the version of the record that Epic Records wants to release and the only one that will be coming out on CD, while Animal!, the band's tracklist preference, will be released only on vinyl and digitally. Both releases will share a good number of tracks, but will be decidedly different.

A few points on the tracklist dust-up: One, this is a major half-acquiescing to the demands of a fairly small band on their first record. If you need any more evidence that the days of major label dominance are over, this is it. In the heyday, a band like Margot would be slapped around and put out to pasture for this kind of tantrum. Two, what the hell did the band expect signing to a major? Didn't anybody warn them?


I guess this is a trend? I kinda like it.

To commemorate the 15 year anniversary ATO reissue of the had-been-out-of-print Exile In Guyville, Liz Phair recently announced a second round of shows that will feature a beginning-to-end performance of the album.
In celebration of the 15th year anniversary of the groundbreaking album Exile in Guyville and its reissue by ATO Records, Liz Phair will perform the entire album at three engagements: August 27 at Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia; August 28 at 9:30 Club in Washington DC; and August 29 at The Paradise in Boston. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, July 23 via Ticketmaster.

These three additional shows come on the heels of four hugely successful sold out June events - two in New York City and one in each San Francisco and Chicago. Said Jon Pareles of The New York Times in his recent review of one of Phair's Exile in Guyville shows, "After 15 years of other people's indie-rock idiosyncrasies, "Exile" still holds up in all its conflicting impulses: its determination to be 'adamantly free' and its longing for someone to trust, its swagger and its pain." A modern classic, Pitchfork recently gave the album a 9.6 rating while both Rolling Stone and Blender gave Exile in Guyville a perfect score of five stars ("*****").
A few notes:
  1. I never knew Exile In Guyville was written as a song-by-song response to Exile on Main St. before. I guess there really are things to be learned from press releases after all.
  2. I'm sure he wasn't the first to do it, but the first guy I recall recently doing full-album performance of records that weren't by Pink Floyd was Ben Kweller a while back. This could be an ATO thing, then? Or maybe just coincidence. What am I, motivated to do research? If it were an ATO thing, though, It'd be rad to see Mike Doughty do all of Skittish.
  3. Here are 5 other records I'd like to see performed in full (off the top of my head):
Note: this is not just an excuse to post a bunch of Amazon links in fact The Format's link is to Amie Street, this is a prompt for discussion.


Coheed and Cambria announce Neverender shows, are pretty cool.

Coheed and Cambria, whose entire recorded output to date tells the Byzantine tale of The Amory Wars, plan to mark the end of their epic saga with two four-night runs in New York (10/22-10/25) and Los Angeles (11/5-11/8), during which they will play the saga in its entirety - a full record each night.
"NEVERENDER came about because the band wanted to celebrate the end of the Coheed and Cambria saga in a special way," says Coheed frontman Claudio Sanchez. "We wanted to come up with an idea that paid proper respect to this phase of our career, while at the same time gave our fans something truly unique and different. Many of these songs have never been played in front of an audience before so I think we're going to be freaking out at the same time our fans are. It's going to be a major challenge. We're psyched our fans have been so loyal and amazing. We figured they deserved this."

NEVERENDER is the culmination of 10 months of touring the world (including a month of US arena dates opening for Linkin Park this past winter) in support of the band's latest record, No World for Tomorrow. The record represents the final chapter of The Amory Wars, the brutally tragic sci-fi tale of Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon and their family, a story that wraps all of the band's concept albums into one.

"We're really looking forward to going deep and revisiting not only the songs, but also the story," Sanchez offers. "Interestingly enough, us going over all the old material seems to be influencing our writing of the next record, which we're sort of doing simultaneously. And to me, that seems appropro since the next story is the prequel to The Amory Wars."
Now this is a cool thing to do for your hardcore fans. And it doesn't even seem that hard. Just write multiple records over seven or eight years interweaving the complicated arcs of a number of complex characters, and release them alongside comic books that fill in the gaps in storyline inherent in the lyrical narrative. In the process, get famous. NEVER CUT YOUR HAIR. Then re-teach yourselves how to play songs live that you have only previously performed on record, book some dates, and rake in the dough. Money for nothing and your chicks for free, man.

Presale tickets were here but sold out in minutes. Get yours at TicketMaster on Friday 7/18.

Buy The Amory Wars graphic novel here. And (duh) the music here.

Spoon - Prospect Park Bandshell, 7/15/08

Funny things, park concerts. You can bring picnic food. There's room to sit down. They're not too loud. I'm sure it felt just like any other packed club show to those people pressed up as close to the stage as they could get, but for me, lounging just far away from the Porto-Potties in the back not to smell them and with a stage view obstructed by foliage, it was decidedly more...subdued.

Here's the surprising part: I don't think I ever want to see Spoon in a different setting now. Because if I do, I'll just wish I could be reclining on the grass soaking up the sound under the stars, with no one bumping into me and a beer I put down only to applaud.

So...yeah. Great set. Notable covers: "Peace Like A River" (Paul Simon), and "Rocks Off" (Rolling Stones) to finish the encore. You can download Spoon's version of the Paul Simon song at Daytrotter.

White Rabbits played too. They were pretty rad.


Too Drunk To Buck

Video is full of NSFW language. Duh.

What you'll find above, if you hate yourself enough to watch and listen, is the result of last year's "Crazy Bitch" becoming a hit. This is what happens when you encourage this kind of behavior: amplification of the worst of it. When Buckcherry released "Lit Up" a million years ago, I thought it was a pretty OK song. This latest offering is ribald without a trace of the appeal that usually comes along with raunchy entertainment. It's excruciating.

If you've got the stomach to make it to the 2nd verse, see if you agree with me that the lyrics were chosen exclusively from dirty Google results.


We Are Scientists - El Rey, 7/1/08

I wasn't going to bother writing about this show. In fact, I spent a good deal of the time We Are Scientists were on stage musing at the fact that a band I really like can play, in a venue (and city, for that matter) that I've never set foot in before, and with the exception of the markedly strange behavior of a few members of the audience, I can have nothing to say. The band was great, just like last time I saw them. They played all the songs I hoped they'd play (not a tall order for a young band), and had some fun with the audience. Keith Murray sang most of one song from the audience. Yadda yadda yadda.

There are two things I wanted to mention though.
  1. I hadn't been there in a while, but We Are Scientists' website is really excellent. More bands should have websites as interesting and funny as theirs. I especially enjoy their advice page. An example:

    name: Amaar
    query: ok guys, so on a scale of one to ten, how hard do you think it would be for someone to put on pants if they had no arms?

    It would be a good 6 or 7 to put pants on themselves, but only a 2 to put pants on someone else, as they would be able to use their mouth.

    Come for the hilarity, stay for the tour dates and links to buy music.
  2. Can we address the practice of planned encores? Nothing kills my buzz for a show faster than a band leaving the stage abruptly for 2 minutes while nobody even bothers to cheer (especially in too-cool-for-school towns like New York and Los Angeles), knowing full well the band is coming back out anyway because the lights are still down, the house music isn't on, and the roadie is on stage retuning a guitar. This is slowly smothering the spirit of rock and roll. I'm serious.
There are some good videos from the show at this blog, which is all W.A.S., all the time, and which is also where I found the picture above.