Wow, I don’t know if it is just me or did that feel like the longest week with our last Band of the Week, The Electric Street Queens. Ahh well, y’all had plenty of time to check them out! And it’s a must that you check out our current BOTW: Girls of the Gravitron! These dudes are from Memphis, TN and their music is so out of control and bizarre, that after obsessively and excessively listening to their 2010 LP Magnetic Mountain for about three months straight, I still struggle to articulate what it sounds like. It’s weird pop about our weird world. There are elements of Black Lips, Beat Happening (especially in the vocals, very Calvin Johnson), Adam Green/Moldy Peaches, Pavement, and the cheeriness of fellow Memphis legends The Barbaras, Magic Kids, and Toxie- which by the way keyboardist Will McElroy is a member of all four of these bands! He’s the man, and there may be some other overlapping members. I’d say GOTG are a lot darker than those other bands though; there’s this real fuck you attitude to them. Lastly, they remind me of The Adventures of Pete and Pete and a nice, fairly warm Autumn day. In any case, I can’t recommend this band enough. One of my favorites that unfortunately no one outside Memphis seems to know. Well, we at KLYAM are spreading our love, read Glen’s review of Magnetic Mountain: https://klyam.com/2012/10/12/classic-album-review-magnetic-mountain/
I just found this right now and as a Magic Kids fan, I feel obliged to post it here for all you other Magic Kids fans out there. The sad, mopey bands of the world have run amok for too long! Fear not, Magic Kids are here to spread love and happiness for all, well maybe two years ago, but you can relive the old glory days here tonight on KLYAM.
Artist: The Barbaras
Release Date: October 30, 2012
1) Day At the Shrine
2) Heaven Hangs
3) Grief Touches Everyone
4) Topsy Turvy Magic
6) Only One
7) Breathing Underwater
8) Devour the Jungle Deer
9) Grey Eggs
11) Why Should I Love You?
13) How Many Times
14) Summertime Road
15) Annual Botanical
Comments: Two years ago my ears had the pleasure of hearing both The Barbaras and The Magic Kids for the first time. The latter gained national attention/critical acclaim with the release of their debut LP Memphis, but sadly few have ever heard of the former. Which is a shame because the Magic Kids are basically the product of the Barbaras, at least that’s one way to look at it. In the time since then, I have often YouTube’d Barbaras songs and viddied thee old live clip or two. I fell in love with these songs, the few of them that were available, but I wanted more. Now in 2012, the Barbaras album I and so many other weirdo Memphis pop creeps have been anticipating has finally arrived. I honestly never thought I would see the day.
Okay, let’s get to the record itself. It’s beefed up that’s for sure. In my mind, I envision members Billy Hayes, Stephen Pope, Will McElroy, Bennett Foster, and Alex Gates hopping on stage with tremendous, roid induced muscles- like pro wrestlers. That’s what this LP is- Barbaras beefed up. Anything you’ve heard before, it’s bigger – with the help of producers Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout, I must add. And you can definitely see where Jay’s production style plays a role in this record. Songs like “Day At The Shrine,” “Grief Touches Everyone,” and “Devour the Jungle Deer” possess that fast paced, hard hitting drum quality. It’s honestly like hearing another Jay record at some moments. Oh and I should mention, for you sad folks that are unaware, Billy is the former drummer for Jay Reatard’s live backing band and former drummer for Wavves; Stephen is the former bassist for Jay live and current bassist for Wavves. These aren’t mere accomplishments for the resume, oh no, they are all intertwined.
On this record, you can hear the similarities in all three bands. In particular, in the eccentric songwriting of Billy Hayes. Tracks like “Grey Eggs” and “Why Should I Love You?” are reminiscent (for me as a listener) of Billy’s main songwriting contributions on Wavves’ King of the Beach (2010) – “Convertible Balloon” and “Baby Say Goodbye.” Billy creates his own world with these songs, and I’m constantly reminded of old school Nintendo video games, just lying around with a Nintendo in my room. In general, Billy’s vocals play a big role here, but he is certainly not the only one. Pretty much all the guys lay down some nasty vocals, and the singing is probably the highlight for me. This is where I best hear the Beach Boys/Phil Spector references everyone makes. Of course, you really can’t not listen to this and not walk away with those feelings. Specifically, some of my favorite moments are when the band unabashedly mimics a 60’s favorite. The very Beach Boys esque “buh bub bub buh” in “Topsy Turvy Magic,” the girl group stylings of “Breathing Underwater,” the doo woppy vocals in “How Many Times,” or the epic, insanely layered, psychedelic Beatles 1967 ode “Annual Botanical” that closes the album.
So yeah, Barbaras are obviously heavily influenced by the music of the 60s, but they take this music and subvert it with their own bizarre, demented personalities, which is a key factor in why this band outshines most of their contemporaries. They are derivative, yet they carve out their own distinct character and in that way no one can say they sound like anyone else, past or present.
This is fucking awesome! In this video you can start to see the transition from The Barbaras to the Magic Kids. Love both bands.
You Tube description: “I asked the Barbaras to play a show with the Demon’s Claws that I booked in November 2007 at Murphy’s in Memphis….they said yes without realizing that Billy and Stephen would be on tour with Jay Reatard…..they played as a 3 piece and did only Beach Boys covers….here’s their version of Good Vibrations!”- April Novak.
And why not give ya a clip of these dudes performing “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” on the same night? Why not?! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFDvIEs3n2A&feature=relmfu
This post is dedicated to two FABULOUS bands that came to prominence in 2010: Harlem and Magic Kids. Both Harlem and Magic Kids are honorary KLYAMERS (our favorite bands), but unfortunately they sort of vanished after 2010/2011. Does anybody know what happened to either of these bands?! I know Curtis O’Mara from Harlem has been keeping busy with other projects, as Glen has posted before, but I haven’t heard anything official for either band. In any situation, we wish them both the best of luck and wish to share their wonderful music with anyone that missed out on their big HYPE(s) two years ago. Alas, most music outlets merely cover artists when they are on the rise or when they are “hip.” KLYAM genuinely loved (and loves) these bands, so this post is for them!
Keep your eyes out for some fine rock and rollers in this video!
In honor of KLYAM’s two year Birthday (June 27) I decided to make a list of my 30 favorite bands at the moment with the criteria being that they had to have released material since the inception of KLYAM that I enjoy very, very much. I don’t plan on writing about all of them, especially when it is so obvious to anyone that frequently visits this site why I love some of these bands. Okay, here we go!
30) Those Darlins: You think Country music is dead?! You clearly haven’t heard Those Darlins. This four piece band rocks like a Punk band but with the sweetness of an old school Country act. A great example of a modern band incorporating traditional styles of music into their own unique sound.
29) The Strange Boys
28) Smith Westerns: I had heard the name Smith Westerns tossed around like a hot child in the city and they just seemed like another hype band, and for some reason (at least to me) they kind of have that look to them. Eventually, I sat down and gave them some eartime and realized I had been missing out on one of the finer pop bands around today. When you listen to SW you can tell these guys want their music to just consume you and rest deep in your psyche for as long as possible. Their songs are epic, perhaps even over the top, but in that nice way, you know where you fear they are coming too close to pretentious, but then all of that evaporates when you realize just how catchy, emotional, and ultimately memorable the music is. Definitely, one of my new favorite bands, all hype bullshit aside.
27) Atlas Sound: If you asked most music fans what they look for in artists I’m sure sincerity is pretty damn high on the list. Bradford “Atlas Sound” Cox is one of the most sincere artists in the whole world. Instead of making his music a premeditated script, Bradford lets the music flow as he is recording it; he does not write lyrics ahead of time and this really shines through in his songs. There is an uncany vulnerability in his music. For example, in “Holiday,” when he moans “I’m desperate, don’t try to get away” you really believe him. He offers the genuine emotion and conviction a “proper” musician would simply fuck up. Not to mention the vast amount of music he makes freely available for everyone!
26) Arctic Monkeys
25) Peach Kelli Pop: A notable trend on this list is the vintage, “garage,” if you will studio production sound in most or many of these artists, and I think PKP is no exception to that. I love the sound of their self-titled record and how simple it is (or at least appears to be); thee simplicity is key to these tunes. Also the exuberence and joy placed in every song is enough to make even the grouchiest killjoy start shakin’. PKP is like bubblegummy, teeny bopper music for Punkers. “Eeenie Meenie Minie Moe” is my top jam; I could blast that forever.
24) Gentlemen Jesse and His Men: I’m often shocked that some of the music I love is not as big as I would expect it to be. But, as Hunx says to the nay sayers of Rock and Roll: “What the fuck is wrong with you?!” Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with a world that doesn’t enjoy or worse has never came close to hearing the pleasant power pop of Gentlemen Jesse. These Atlanta rockers represent more of the sweet side of Rock and Roll, but they ain’t pussies! and whenever I see them live I’m thinking this is ALL I NEED TONIGHT!
23) Arcade Fire
22) Shannon and the Clams: I think Shannon and the Clams are the youngest (in terms of my excessive fandom for their music) band on this list. In the past month, the clams have been in heavy rotation on my ipod and it’s not hard to see why; if you love balls out, no fucking around, sometimes soft, sometimes crazy Rock and Roll, then this band demands your attention. Shannon Shaw has a gorgeous voice filled with variety- she can belt out loud, Punk inspired vocals or send your ears to musical heaven in the form of more sensitive singing. A lot of great ballads, straight up rock songs, and everything in between. One of the funnest bands I’ve come across as of late.
21) Cumstain: Wow, what a fucking band right here. Cumstain is the kinda band where your not sure if it’s just a joke or if you’re going to write your college thesis on their work and life philosophy. Well, it’s neither, but something has to be special if one were to make this contemplation. Seriously though, I can’t promote this band enough, it really dissapoints me that so few people know of their music. In terms of the songs, they are quite strong, stronger than most of their “garage” peers, but really that’s just the beginning. I have often described them as an unintentionally conceptual band. Their eponymous deubt record feels like an odd, off kilter concept album. A loose, dirty story of what it is like to be a young, sexually frusturated and confused male in this world. Overall, the music is fun and rocks, not to be taken too seriously, but honestly I rarely ever hear anything so visceral. Cumstain’s lyrics are often vulgar and licentious (who would have guessed?!) but beneath the unsavory language there’s a lot of truth. It’s a truth most pop songwriters would save for a private conversation with their buddies instead of documenting their thoughts and emotions via music. The classic ballad (it’s a ballad to me anyway) and final track “Cum Stain” really wraps things up and sums up the album as a whole. Countless bands have written about wanting to fuck girls and do naughty things to them, but few have ever taken the time to explain why, in an astonshingly direct manner, they feel this way. And as stated in the song, the relationship between men and women- the most discussed subject matter in just about all of art, is humorously and accurately reduced to being just another cum stain on a girl’s floor. I couldn’t think of a better way to put it myself, I can imagine Bill Shakespeare would be proud. With that being said, you could eschew all that philisophical analysis as utter nonsense and that would be perfectly fine because at the end of the day these songs are really great rockers to toss on while you get drunk and rowdy and dance/mosh around to or however you like to spend the time in your bachelor’s life.
20) The Almigthy Defenders: Man oh man, if I attended the show on the above flyer it would be salvation for sure! There are a lot of side projects in Rock and Roll especially when it comes to my faves, but without a doubt The Almighty Defenders brought a whole new meaning to the words side project and supergroup. Honestly, I don’t know if I could have dreamed up a more heavenly super group. If anyone reading this is a fan of The Black Lips, The King Khan & BBQ Show or just good old fashioned, analog sounding, early roots, gospel inspired- pre-popular, mass machine based music and you haven’t listened to defenders, do yourself a massive favor check them out ASAP.
19) Harlem: The word “garage” gets tossed around way too much and admittedly we are part of that over usage; Harlem has often been categorized as a garage band and certainly they have elements of said genre, but as far as KLYAM tastebuds go, they have totally surpassed 95% or more of the bands that fall under that label. Despite their Matador Records deal and other widespread acclaim, alas it seems Harlem does not gain the recognition they deserve. Who knows maybe the “indie” music “scene” just wanted to build Harlem up and look for the next Black Lips or Jay Reatard and didn’t find them. Well, fuck that Harlem is Harlem! And you know what Harlem probably doesn’t care anyway. They have that Maine Coonsy-Beetsy “I don’t give a fuck” kinda attitude to them. Even live this persona was completely intact- though they were also on shrooms when I saw them… But there’s really sentiment and heart to this trio’s music- a character lacking in their fellow “garage” comrades. They remind me of that guy that acts all nonshalant about getting laid (“yeah, I fucked her..”) but deep down that’s all that’s on his mind.
18) Mark Sultan
16) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: It seems pretty obvious just with a few quick glances of this list that there are virtually no original artists in the truest sense of the word. Most of them wear their influences on their sleeves and you know what that is more than fine by me. Most bands aren’t close to original to begin with, so I’d rather hear a band mimic an existing style and add their own flavor to it. Pains are a great modern example of this- they sound like they belong on an 80s teen flick soundtrack with a little bit of the distortion and harsh noise of The Jesus and Mary Chain spinrkled in the mix. Easily one of the strongest debut LPs I have had the pleasure of hearing.
15) Magic Kids
14) The Maine Coons: If you react to music the way I do, then when you hear a band described as “cum punk” then it is a MUST that you hear them. Definitely the most obscure band on this list- which just like another “cum punk,” band, if you will, Cumstain deepely saddens me. These guys need to be acknowledged because they have the creepy, but catchy, freaky, but funny song dynamic down to a tee. Seriously their music is in the same league as Nobunny and Mark Sultan. I will constantly promote these guys any chance I get. Perhaps some of the greatest song titles ever- “Pull the Plug On Grandma,” “Hey Dickhead,” “Ghetto Queen,” “I Am a Motherfucker,” and the uplifting, missonary anthem, “How Long Is It Going to Take For You to Find God.” Maine Coons for life! You won’t find pussy this good anywhere else, I assure you.
13) King Khan & the Shrines
12) Ty Segall: Yeah yeah, I know that’s not a pic of Ty, but rather Steven Segal. But, if Ty and Steven got into a brawl, the former would totally win because Ty Segall is thee definition of badass. He’s a badass in that cool, laid back kind of way- not the I’m a tough guy and I have to prove it to everyone including myself kinda way; real gangsta ass niggas don’t start fights. And to top it off, Ty’s music is the sexiest music created in decades. Think about it, next time you want to get it on with a lady friend, play some Ty Segall. You can thank me in the form of KLYAM promotion!
11) Nobunny: Nobunny is for the children. Nobunny is for the geezers. A great man once told me that Nobunny is everything and at the same time Nobunny is nothing.
10) Best Coast
9) Animal Collective: I mentioned earlier that the artists on this list lack orginality (not as a flaw, but as a basic observation), well Animal Collective is an exception to that. I have always argued that they are the greatest and most groundbreaking band of the past decade and even if you don’t agree with that high praise you can at least admire them for their vast experimentation which is juxtaposed with their ability to break into a more accessible sound without totally abandoning those chaotic tendencies. AC was the first modern band that really struck me and got me into listening to other modern artists. Before them, I listened to only older artists for the most part. In other words, they destroyed the musical time barrier for me.
8) No Age: Whenever people ask me about noise music I typicall drop two names: Lightning Bolt and No Age. I don’t consider myself a noise aficionado by any means and I don’t consier NA a pure noise band, but one cannot help but notice the direct link between the cacophany, energy, and volume of LB and other noise bands and Dean and Randy’s ever growing project. The only difference is that this duo has an extreme devotion to pop music. From the beginning, NA has made it clear (not so much verbally) that they are pop songwriters and great ones at that! Their catchy tunes and overall light hearted, positive demanor offer a sense of inclusion, which is very much apparent in their recordings, but all the more alive during their awe inspiring live shows. No Age can be appreciated by old school punkers (or fans of old school Punk/Hardcore) but at the same time their music feels welcoming to all.
7) Box Elders: When one of your favorite bands break up it’s like when your parents divorce.* “It’s just going to end like that! Did you even consider how this would affect me?!” Even though it saddens you, you have to be a bigger person and realize its probably for the best and they need to work things out for themselves. A book on teaching music fans how to cope with their favorite bands’s splits will be available in bookstores shortly… Plain and simple, the Box Elders were one of the greatest- live, in the studio, and everywhere else. When I heard that they were through it was a dark day for KLYAM. At least, we have the music! Alice and Friends (2009) is one of the finest LPs from the past decade and probably my favorite Goner release. It’s funny with a lot of small bands you have to pay close attention to truly appreciate the pop song sunk beneath the sea of noise with the BE it was the exact opposite: you had to look for that home recording “lower” quality sound because (at least for me) their pop hooks and musical excellence dominated each and every song.
* This is just a joke, for I have never had to deal with a divorce in any way whatsoever.
6) Wavves: King of the Beach (2010) was KLYAM’s #1 album of the year brah, a title we don’t take lightly around here haha. Thanks (along with Best Coast) for bringing back good teenage angst music- at least for my tastes.
5) Hunx an His Punx
4) The King Khan & BBQ Show: I’d like to think of King Khan & BBQ as a little microcosm for my entire taste in music and more significantly my personality as a whole. Sexy, but sweet. In your face and crazy at times, but usually just ready to party and Rock and Roll. Complete soul, sentiment, and integrity, but don’t take shit too, too seriously or else it tastes bad. No bullshit, keep it as real as real can get and keep an eye on all the hunnies. Mark Sultan’s definitely my favorite singer right now- pumping up various vocalists of the 50s, 60s, and 70s with steroids and BBQ, a neat combo.
3) Deerhunter: Tru Gangsta. Tru Gangsta. If I ever saw any they would be the four gentlemen that comprise Deerhunter. Deerhunter in many ways are the group that links many of these bands together. The experimental pop aspect of their music can be associated with Animal Collective and No Age and their fun loving, Rock and Roll, “Garage” esque- simple music aesthetic and background connects them with the like of their hometown boys, The Black Lips, Jay Reatard, and The King Khan & BBQ Show, amongst others. I was discussing music with a friend and I pointed out what makes Deerhunter special and separates them from most artists is the fact that their music is extremely emotional and they deal with love in their songs, but they don’t write “love songs” or songs about sexual relationships between people. This allows the band to tap into an entirely different universe, often much greater, deeper emotions other artists never enter; they create a different kind of love song. I constantly use the word emotional to describe their music and obviously any good music has to be emotional in one way or another, but I feel like people give Deerhunter a bad name when they say they are “depressing.” Their music perhaps takes people to a place in themselves that they would rather not face, but that’s precisely what I love about them. I credit this band with helping me out a lot when I was depressed; in many ways they were the soundtrack to my evolution to happiness- that’s the only way I can describe it. My favorite song is the Microcastle (2008) closer “Twilight At Carbon Lake.” I love how it starts off sort of “sad,” and then just explodes into this wall of noise till the very end of the record. To me that song is like going through personal hell, going from totally hating yourself to totally loving yourself. As if that massive increase in volume is akin to a nervous breakdown and the end of the song is a sign that you made it out alive, stronger than ever, like the noise was just you destroying everything you hated about yourself and everything that brought you down in the first place. I’m not saying that’s what the song is about or what I think the song is about, but rather what it means to me. It’s not so much about thoughts, it’s about emotions.
2) Jay Reatard: First and foremost, with The Ramones as a possible exception, Jay wrote the catchiest songs ever. The man could sit down with a guitar and his voice alone and unleash a mini pop symphony that the most sophisticated musicians alive could never create. I can imagine one of his legacies will be the fact that he serves as a model for how much one can do with how little they have- giving hope to many a young guy and girl alone in their bedroom making music seemingly no one wants to hear. In both his music and lyrics, Jay eschewed the tough guy image a lot of people placed on him, instead cutting open his heart and sharing his blood visions for you and me, and for all to see. If you look at his songs, he really doesn’t shield himself from the rest of the world like most people do. For a guy with as much balls and strength in him, he wasn’t shy to reveal his feelings through his music in a non gay reatard way, i.e. “I look in to your eyes and try not to cry,” from his classic “Oh, It’s Such a Shame.” And indeed it is a shame, but it would be an even greater shame if we let his music fade all away into obscurity. RIP.
1) Black Lips!: Most of this site is why I love the Black Lips and why they are my favorite band, so this explanation, if you will, will be as brief as possible. In fact, the namesake for this site, for you newbies, descends from the lyrics to the lips’ anthem and their most popular song, “Bad Kids.” It’s funny, I don’t remember how this all came about, but from what I’m told a friend of ours, actually KLYAMer, Ben Tan, came up with the title knowing Glen and I were such massive fans of their music. Honestly, what a perfect title- it works on many different levels and makes sense, even if you can’t catch the reference. I think had it been Glen or me that came up with the title we probably would have called it something stupid like “Everybody Loves a Cocksucker” to prove we’re die hard Black Lips fans. Which we are- the hardest working fans in show business, but we are certainly not OG and never claimed to be. We stumbled upon the Lips in April of ’08 and slowly we became psychotic devotees, grabbing everything we could listen to, read, or watch on the band. I don’t know about Glen, but for me perhaps the greatest characteristic of the Black Lips is the fact that they satisfy the classic image and idea of what Rock and Roll band should be. That heroic, do whatever the fuck you want, Rock and Roll all night and party every day, image that I honestly thought was dead before the Lips came into my life. I thought it died with popular Rock and Roll music. But, it is alive and well and has been for a long time, just nestled in the underground. Will the Lips be the band that brings this music above ground again? Who knows? I hope the best for them, but I honestly don’t care, I will be satisfied as long as they keep it simple, stupid.
Okay, so you guys know our deal… no not the kickass Best Coast song of the same name, but rather the fact that we love to make lists all the time, badass lists I might add. Well, it recently occurred to me that for all the concerts I have attended, hundreds of bands along the way, I have never made a list of the best live bands I have ever seen. This is purely personal favorites, so don’t make an asshole out of yourself by commenting that this is “wrong” or “You don’t know what your talking about.” You are better than that. Make your own list.
– how fun, how memorable, how awesome as performers/entertainers/artists
– how visceral
– how did the crowd react as a whole (though I tend to not let others get in the way of my concert experience, if people aren’t into a show, it’s just not the same).
– first impressions
– lasting impressions
– Venue (to a certain extent, as you’ll notice there are no stadium/arena shows here and only two seated sets (Pixies and Sonic Youth, both of which I was fairly close up for)
Speaking of venues a shout out to the Middle East in Cambridge, MA, which has hosted the most KLYAM attended concerts (12) than any other venue.
Okay, let’s go!
Yayyy Allie (White Wires, Peach Kelli Pop) in the background!!!
15) Hunx and His Punx @ Harpers Ferry, October 2009-
Straight up, I came to see Jay Reatard and had never heard of Hunx and His Punx whatsoever. Thus this set was easily one of the most surprising, unexpected sets I had ever seen. At the time, I thought the songs were decent, but they didn’t stand out much to me. Hunx, however did. As I said earlier, unexpected. I just didn’t expect a dude in his thong singing about how his boyfriend won’t come back and using his crotch as a pillow for the gentlemen adjacent to me. Eventually, I checked out Hunx and now I love the band. But, without a doubt one of the most unusual and simultaneously fun concert experiences.
14) Magic Kids @ Brighton Music Hall, April 2011-
The Magic Kids really put on a terrific set that night. I’ve seen many bands, but I have rarely seen a band as equally engaged with their art as they are committed to having fun! Sonically, everything sounded fantastic and enhanced their already amazing recordings. A Magic Kids live LP? Someday, I hope.
13) Nobunny @ Harpers Ferry, October 2009 & @ PA’s Lounge, June 2010
So, I saw the bunnyman fresh off Hunx on that cool October night waiting in anticipation for Jay Reatard. Nobunny, like his contemporaries destroyed that night and left me with serious lasting impression. The second time around, it was just as fun, perhaps a tad less wild, but definitely one of the best moshpits I’ve been in. Just great rock and roll and mayhem. What more can you ask for?
12) Deerhunter @ House of Blues, March 2010, Royale, August 2010, and Royale, October 2010.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Deerhunter are mesmerizing. Maybe their sets are more structured than the guys would like them to be, but for me they still blow me way each time. In particular, I always love the showmanship of Bradford Cox and the entire group simply has an undeniable Great Rock and Roll Band presence to them, I don’t see very often these days. Whilst, still being trippy and demented as fuck. I remember when they played “Fluorescent Grey” it felt like the the place was going to implode at any minute, because the guitars were so violent. Yet, the group remains quiet and mellow the whole time. Excellent.
11) Sonic Youth @ Wilbur Theater, November 2009
I made a list a couple of years ago of fifty things I want to do before I die, seeing Sonic Youth was one of them. Honestly, as much as I dig SY, much of their discography is foreign to me, but this time around I lucked out; the set included nearly every song off their latest LP The Eternal (2009) as well as plenty of their classic 1980s material. As it turns out, I knew and enjoyed every number. For a theater show, this one was pretty damn electrifying.
10) The Pixies @ Wang Theater, November 2009
Another band I enumerated as a “must see before I die!” and what do you know they played my favorite, Doolittle (1989) in its entirety. The insanity and harmony of The Pixies was even more pronounced live than on record; I’ve seen several old school bands, but few can garner the same crowd response as these guys.
9) Animal Collective @ House of Blues, May 2009
By far the most bizarre show I have ever experienced. This was not simply a tear off your ticket, get escorted to your seat, sit back and enjoy the show kinda concert. This was more like dying and being reborn via the music of Animal Collective. The wholes show everyone was stuck together and in a 90 minute trance. When all was set and done, you were not the same person you were when you entered. It had that life altering, extremely visceral, almost lose your mind sorta effect, that’s the effect of their music live.
8) Best Coast @ Paradise- February 2011
Musically, one of the finer bands I have seen. The sound was amazing and as performers Best Coast were extremely tight. Songs that stood out were “Summer Mood” (the pounding of the drums after each utterance of the words “there’s something about the Summer” was even greater in concert), “Bratty B,” and “Each and Every Day”- one of the best closers I have ever seen.
7) Box Elders @ Harpers Ferry, October 2009 & Middle East Downstairs, March 2010
Just thinking about their excellence live makes me sad that they are no longer together. Wanna talk about presence, character, personality, look no further. The songs were fast, fun, and totally unique- but the visual was perhaps the best aspect about the Box Elders. You could not help, but be in sheer awe and joy when you saw Dave Goldberg pounding away at the drums while working the accordion and giving us all aerobics lessons or Clayton’s long golden hair reflecting the idiosyncrasies of his songwriting, and who could forget Jeremiah’s double guitar. Box Elders you are missed!
6) Wavves @ Great Scott, June 2010 & Paradise, February 2011
Wavves kid, really catchy songs kid. Indeed, they are fine sir, indeed they are. On stage, all of the fun of Wavves on record is even further duplicated, an obvious trend in almost all of these bands on this list. They are a powerhouse live, it’s like Jay Reatard (duh, Stephen and Billy, at least before) meets Blink 182, except, I love the former and don’t care for the latter. But, it’s there. No matter what the kiddies dig Wavves; the songs become youthful anthems, if they weren’t already. Also, by and large, they play all yer faves, so it’s always a gay old time.
5) The King Khan & BBQ Show @ The Middle East Downstairs, October 2009
King Khan and BBQ (Mark Sultan) are two of the greatest Rock and Rollers of the past two decades. They are students of this music and their knowledge bleeds through on all of their releases. Seeing these two wild and crazy guys in the flesh is a whole new chapter in this story. In terms of showmanship, it’s a ten. The duo truly put on a show for their audience, but they also don’t rely on theatrics either, their music is sufficient. On that particular night they played most of their classics and when “Shake Real Low” was unleashed the hunnies were doing just that; it was spectacular.
4) King Khan & The Shrines @ The Paradise, May 2009 & @ The Royale, October 2010
On record, I am way bigger fan of the King Khan & BBQ Show, but in terms of the live show, at least what have I seen, I gotta say Shrines takes the cake. That initial show was pure euphoria. It had everything you could wish for in a concert: A rocking band, everyone primitively shakin’, great performers, intense charisma, dancin’ cheerleaders, and supreme genius after supreme genius. Shrines are seriously one of the funnest, silliest, and best Rock and Roll bands on the planet.
3) Jay Reatard @ Harpers Ferry, July 2009, Harpers Ferry, October 2009, and Wang Theater, November 2009
Jay was a rarity live. He did his own thang, with little concern for anyone else, whether it be band mates, the audience, club owners, or even contemporaries. He played with his hair covering his eyes the entire time, shouting off the song titles and if need be berating the people in front of him were the only forms of communication outside of the songs themselves. This was a void between the performer and spectator, no doubt. You never knew whether you would get a quick burst of a set or a decently long show. I’ve seen both from the man and in either instance he was always on fire, as if the songs were merely tools to keep him from igniting. It was always a total whiplash and there was definitely an overwhelming feeling of astonishment, but there was also this delayed reaction feel to it too; you didn’t totally appreciate it until the moment was over. We didn’t totally appreciate him ever.
2) No Age @ The Middle East Downstairs, July 2008, Middle East Downstairs, November 2008, Wellesley College, April 2009, and Middle East Downstairs, November 2010
No Age is a band that satisfies the three basic elements I look for in all bands: Punk, Pop, and Rock. Yes, three extremely broad qualities that mean something very personal to me. When No Age opens their sets and everyone goes nuts that’s the Rock band in them. That wonderful moment of anticipation before the duo explodes in “Every Artist Needs a Tragedy,” for example. Randy Randall strategically swings his guitar around at just the right moment when the song begins to speed up and Dean kicks into the vocals and the crowds starts to really move. That’s the work of an excellent Rock band and something you just can’t, see, feel, or appreciate listening to the record at home, alone. Or at the last show at the Middle East when they opened with “Life Prowler,”- those first few quiet moments, where just the presence of Dean and Randy alone is enough to make you excited and Dean begins pounding the drums a la the Bad Brains- “Big Takeover” he simultaneously sings “One time is all I need to know my job is complete/ and when I reach into, my past, my past comes true…” this is the pop end of No Age. These are strong hooks that wrap the listener in, in spite of or in association with the noise surrounding the music. Lastly, the whole show is Punk to me, and the way people react to the music with plenty of energy is the way people should react to any good Punk band. Another one of my favorite moments from No Age’s sets, at least some of their older ones, is when Randy would leap off his amp into the crowd during the triumphant closer and my number one NA tune, “Everybody’s Down”- very Punk.
1) The Black Lips!!! @ The Middle East Downstairs, March 2009, Middle East Downstairs, March 2010, and The Paradise, April 2011
Do I need to explain why these guys are number one, as if we don’t cover them enough on this site. Look up all the Black Lips concert reviews on here and do some youtubing of your own and then you’ll see why they are and can only be number one. No one even comes close.
Well, that was fun.
Honorable Mentions: Meat Puppets, Dinosaur Jr, Radiohead, Gentlemen Jesse and His Men, Strange Boys, Girls, Arctic Monkeys