Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-08-07T08:00:00-06:00Black Francis "The Holiday Song" (10.4 MB) from Come On Pilgrim High Noon Saloon Madison, WI July 11, 2009 It's sort of fitting that this podcast should end with Frank Black playing an early Pixies song, since seeing the Pixies in late 2004 was what prompted me to get a small digital camera I could take into shows. This show provided as much excitement as that Pixies show, surprisingly, with so many songs I really wanted to hear ("Cactus" and "Bullet" were the highlights). Now I'm on sort of a permanent holiday. I hope to get back to something like this in the near future, but it'll be more irregular and a bit thicker. I'm thinking about getting into the show-booking business, and it might be tied to that. We'll see. Until then, it's been fun.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-08-05T08:00:00-06:00Black Francis "Angels Come to Comfort You" (19.1 MB) from Bluefinger High Noon Saloon Madison, WI July 11, 2009 It was an odd coincidence that our last two High Noon shows were of the intimate, semi-acoustic variety. Opening for Frank Black was Mark Waldoch of Milwaukee's Celebrated Working Man, kind of the mirror-image of Jon Auer. While playing he was supremely confident and poised, but between songs he seemed a little overwhelmed by opening for a legend and playing to a legend's crowd. He actually complimented the audience for their kindness and the weird thing was he was right -- it was the nicest High Noon crowd I've ever seen. But then I got to thinking, I've never heard of this supposed Milwaukee-based Celebrated Working Man, and I've never seen this guy before. He's kind of a big guy and his material is not terribly different from Frank Black's recent work. What if Mark Waldoch doesn't exist, but is a persona Frank takes on -- a wig, some make-up, an outfit just the negative of what he wears for his set -- and identifies as from a band in a nearby city? It would be like the time U2 opened for themselves way back when. Maybe Frank's next album would be called The Celebrated Working Man and include the songs he played as Waldoch, etc. Well, I just imagined it. Waldoch was in the audience during Frank's set, while Frank was clearly onstage. But still, I think this is something to think about for his next tour.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-08-03T08:00:00-06:00Black Francis Medley: "Brackish Boy," "Crackity Jones" and "Two Reelers" (34.8 MB) from Frank Black, Doolittle and Teenager of the Year High Noon Saloon Madison, WI July 11, 2009 I never would've guessed this show would be such a blast, especially considering how little I know of Frank Black's solo material (and yet, he'll always be Frank Black to me for some reason). Opening his bottle of wine and launching the show with this medley got the crowd going quick, and was a surprising burst of energy from the nearly empty stage.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-31T08:00:00-06:00The Hold Steady "Stevie Nix" (27.3 MB) from Separation Sunday Majestic Theatre Madison, WI July 10, 2009 One nice thing about Hold Steady is that they frequently pull out deep cuts from their first two albums, which were a little under the radar. Last time we saw them I recorded "Modesto Is Not That Sweet," an Australian bonus track from their first record; this time the highlight was probably this rollicking meditation on age from Separation Sunday, which they followed immediately with "Multitude of Casualties" and later with "How a Resurrection Really Feels." The showcase of older songs was certainly appreciated by the sell-out crowd, many of whom were probably also at last year's sold-out Stay Positive tour stop.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-29T08:00:00-06:00The Hold Steady "Yeah Sapphire" (18.1 MB) from Stay Positive Majestic Theatre Madison, WI July 10, 2009 If I'd ever gotten around to writing up my top albums of 2008, the Hold Steady's Stay Positive would've been their second-straight #1. Though not as instantly enthralling and masterwork-level as their previous effort, it was a hugely engaging, progressive step for the band and a victory lap of sorts after the success of Boys and Girls in America. The opener, "Constructive Summer," is the most viscerally inspiring song I've heard in years, while the title track is the band's salute to its scene and its fans, and the positive rage that fuels them both. Elsewhere they add some new flourishes to their sound, particularly on "Navy Sheets." This song is very much in the classic Hold Steady mold, launching with competing guitar and piano lines and giving Craig Finn's poetry some room to stretch; "If I cross myself when I cum/would you maybe receive me?" is one of those lines that implicates love, lust, religion and insecurity the way few other songwriters ever have. I was particularly excited to catch it live because it's one of the songs from Stay Positive that I didn't react strongly to at first, but that's grown on me a lot since the record came out and we saw them last.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-27T08:00:00-06:00The Hold Steady "Girls Like Status" (16.7 MB) from Boys and Girls in America Majestic Theatre Madison, WI July 10, 2009 I hate the Majestic and I love the Hold Steady, and love always wins. I'd wanted to shoot video from the main floor for this show, but for a variety of reasons (mainly the woman in front of us who kept whipping her arm back into my face) it didn't happen. But no matter, the show was great as always. It was the second time in the last three shows that they played this somewhat obscure tune -- a bonus track from the Australian and iTunes releases of Boys and Girls in America. Oddly, I think I still haven't seen them do "Ask Her For Adderall" live.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-24T08:00:00-06:00Fountains of Wayne "Hey Julie" (13.9 MB) from Welcome Interstate Managers High Noon Saloon Madison, WI July 8, 2009 What do you do when you bring people up out of the audience to play incidental percussion parts, but then one of them starts singing unsolicited back-up vocals? Apparently, you just go with it. The guy on the right sang, I think, the entire song, and I don't think the band actually noticed. Meanwhile, the scarf-wearer on the left was on stage for the second time of the night -- he was also picked to come up and play a piano line during Jon Auer's solo opening set. About that set: wow, so weird. Auer is best known as the guy from the Posies, and there were a handful of Posies fans in the otherwise inattentive crowd. This is pretty par for the course at the High Noon -- openers get talked over, and that goes double for solo acoustic openers. This makes Auer's decision to play a song unamplified, from the middle of the floor, and facing the stage, all the more inexplicable. He stopped during the song twice to shout at the crowd to shut up (it didn't work, obviously), and even standing right behind him I couldn't hear any of it. He ended his set by covering Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him," which he mocked repeatedly. The whole thing was quite a big fail, which is why the headliners got episode #500 and he didn't.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-22T08:00:00-06:00Fountains of Wayne "Cold Comfort Flowers" (23.1 MB) High Noon Saloon Madison, WI July 8, 2009 I liked this one the best of the new songs that they played, and everything seemed to get a positive response from the crowd. The only one that was really a miss to my ears was the last one they played, "A Road Song," which, despite name-checking Wisconsin, felt really forced and seemed to borrow a lot lyrically and musically from "Valley Winter Song." Their last album was their first I didn't like, so hopefully the new one draws more from this song than the other -- or maybe the new songs are totally different in their regular versions, and all my speculation is for naught.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-20T08:00:00-06:00Fountains of Wayne "The Summer Place" (18.6 MB) High Noon Saloon Madison, WI July 8, 2009 I wondered before this show if Fountains of Wayne had ever played Madison before -- I knew they hadn't since I've been here -- and Chris Collingwood remarked during the set that he thought they hadn't. So it's kind of odd that their first visit, a decade and a half into their career, would be a stripped-down, semi-acoustic set. Making it even a little odder, they played several new songs, which could sound totally different when they're released on the next FoW record sometime in the near-ish future. The new stuff was mostly enjoyable but not especially great. This one really drove home what a bougie band this is, and I kept hearing it all of a sudden in other songs throughout the set. It got me re-evaluating songs like "Hackensack" and "Valley Winter Song," and even "Stacy's Mom," which got a really nice, slow rendition in the encore that belied its "Just What I Needed"-ganking origins.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-17T08:00:00-06:00White Rabbits "Company I Keep" (19.2 MB) from It's Frightening High Noon Saloon Madison, WI June 30, 2009 This is a song where you can really hear the difference the band's two albums. Fort Nightly didn't have anything this stripped-down -- even the slow, ballad-y stuff was deeply layered. It's actually kind of odd to see, because on stage there are still six guys, but they're doubling each other, or doing nothing but tapping a tambourine and generally not adding much to the sound.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-16T08:00:00-06:00White Rabbits "They Were Wrong/We Were Wrong" (24.2 MB) from It's Frightening High Noon Saloon Madison, WI June 30, 2009 After seeing Spoon and coming away with a greater appreciation for their later material, I wondered if a live White Rabbits show could get me to like their somewhat-disappointing new album a bit more. It's a weird record, in that it sounds so much more stripped-down than their debut; it doesn't sound like an album made by a band with six members. And, well, it didn't -- it still sounds pretty much the same on record. But, the performance on stage was really great. Check out Stephen Patterson's face -- this isn't even that intense a song! The mark of a great live band is one that makes a great show out of lesser material, and these guys sure are great live.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-14T08:00:00-06:00Canasta "Tony's Song" (23.8 MB) High Noon Saloon Madison, WI June 30, 2009 Another solid new one from a too-short set -- sadly, I missed recording any of the trombone numbers. This is one of the Chicago bands that I could imagine making a stop in Carbondale at some point, and I hope they do. They seemed to impress the crowd at this show and I think they may be on the verge of big success with their new album.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-13T08:00:00-06:00Canasta new song (26.0 MB) High Noon Saloon Madison, WI June 30, 2009 Way back around the time I started doing this podcast, I went to see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. At the time, I only had a little over six minutes of recording time available with my 128MB memory stick, which meant I could only recording opening bands if I was there specifically to see them. That was a bad show for such a limitation, since I liked both openers -- Madison's the Super Eights and Chicago's Canasta -- much better than the headliners. I didn't get to see the Super Eights again until their farewell show about a year later, and I didn't get to see Canasta again until a couple weeks ago, nearly four years later. They were worth the wait, to be sure. We got to the show a little late but walked in just as they were starting into "Slow Down Chicago," one of the best tunes of the past five years and the best Chicago-related song of 2005 (take that, Sufjan Stevens and the Hold Steady). Most of the rest of the set was comprised of material from their in-progress new album, which hopefully will be out later this year.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-10T08:00:00-06:00Spoon "The Underdog" (18.2 MB) from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Summerfest Milwaukee, WI June 29, 2009 When a recent hit single is missing from the set, you can generally bet it's in the encore. And there it was! Closing out probably our last Summerfest for at least a while, this show was a terrific way to leave things. We nearly got stampeded trying to make our way through the Lupe Fiasco crowd to the exit, but that's the way of the 'Fest.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-09T08:00:00-06:00Spoon "Writing to You in Reverse" (24.6 MB) Summerfest Milwaukee, WI June 29, 2009 We got a treat in this set with this new song, and I'm glad I searched for it online before listening through the Spoon back catalog trying to find it. They also played their newly released single, "Got Nuffin," which has a couple of new b-sides. Hopefully, now that I'm back on the Spoon bandwagon, this means they've got a new album coming together soon.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-08T08:00:00-06:00Spoon "Don't You Evah" (19.2 MB) from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Summerfest Milwaukee, WI June 29, 2009 This is one of those new songs I've come around on. After the show I found myself thinking I hadn't really changed my mind about the last two Spoon records -- the stuff I liked I liked maybe a little more, but the stuff I didn't like I still didn't like. But I didn't realize that this was one of the ones I thought I didn't like! When I pulled it up on my iPod later in the week I saw that I had it at two stars, which made me generally re-evaluate how I feel about late-model Spoon.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:54 -06:002009-07-07T08:00:00-06:00Spoon "Me and the Bean" (18.1 MB) from Girls Can Tell Summerfest Milwaukee, WI June 29, 2009 So I'm 30 now, as of this show. And even though the last two Spoon records had disappointed me, I found myself liking a lot of that material at this show. Maybe it's because I'm entering my middle-age rock phase, but I hope not. It could be because they threw this Girls Can Tell album cut out as the second song of the set, getting my "hey, I love this song!" vibe going early. This is still my favorite Spoon album and I think any song from it would've perked me up at the beginning of the set.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:55 -06:002009-07-04T08:00:00-06:00Archie Powell & the Exports "Moving to the City" (16.8 MB) from Loose Change EP High Noon Saloon Madison, WI June 24, 2009 This is the lead track off the Exports' debut EP, which is available for free download at Bandcamp (and since I'll probably not get the chance to feature them before the podcast ends, you can get Direct Hit! there as well). The band had a set at this year's Summerfest and should be putting together a full-length album pretty soon, to go with upcoming shows around the midwest.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:55 -06:002009-07-03T08:00:00-06:00Archie Powell & the Exports "Enough About Me" (13.3 MB) High Noon Saloon Madison, WI June 24, 2009 This is another late-model Box Social holdover, and it's one where you can really hear the difference between the two bands. Last time I heard this song it was a lot more raucous and careening (also it was in Madison's loudest venue), now it's got a distinct, new tone. In fact, if you take this band and the other post-Box Social band (the Nick Woods-fronted Direct Hit!) and combine them, you'll get something that sounds a lot like the Box Social. Which sort of seems obvious, but trying combining Angels and Airwaves with (+44) and see if you get Blink-182.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:55 -06:002009-07-02T08:00:00-06:00Archie Powell & the Exports "All Tuckered Out" (12.6 MB) High Noon Saloon Madison, WI June 24, 2009 I believe this is the first instance of someone's new band being in the podcast, when that someone's previous band had also been featured. Indeed, I even recorded this song as performed by the Box Social (well, two of the Box Social in an acoustic set) last fall. So hey, milestone! This is actually a pretty old Box Social song -- it was originally on their 2004 EP, then they started revamping it as they prepped new material last year. Much of that new stuff has transitioned into the Exports' set, in slightly modified form as keyboards have replaced the second guitar in the previous arrangements.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:55 -06:002009-06-28T08:00:00-06:00Pale Young Gentlemen "Our History" (19.2 MB) from Black Forest (Tra La La) Marquette Waterfront Festival Madison, WI June 14, 2009 Even though, to be frank, we never went to a lot of Madison's many summer festivals, I was always really glad that they were there and will miss them when we move. They're great outlets for local music and give bands a chance to get in front of different audiences than they see in clubs. If anything I think this one might be growing -- it's the first time I've seen such a big-time stage setup for the Marquette Waterfront Festival.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:55 -06:002009-06-26T08:00:00-06:00Pale Young Gentlemen "Coal/Ivory" (19.2 MB) from Black Forest (Tra La La) Marquette Waterfront Festival Madison, WI June 14, 2009 This one provides a nice opening to the PYGs most recent album, and apparently it's also great to dance and spin around to. A section of newer stuff came up in the set starting with this song, but overall the set seemed to be mostly first-album stuff that maybe works a little better live.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:55 -06:002009-06-25T08:00:00-06:00Pale Young Gentlemen new song? old song? (18.5 MB) Marquette Waterfront Festival Madison, WI June 14, 2009 OK, Pale Young Gentlemen, I give up. My iPod has your two albums and your cover of "Paper Planes." If you have some stock of secret other songs that includes this one, I don't know about it. I do like this one, though.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:55 -06:002009-06-23T08:00:00-06:00Pale Young Gentlemen "Up North" (11.4 MB) from Pale Young Gentlemen Marquette Waterfront Festival Madison, WI June 14, 2009 Experiment time! Since the Marquette Waterfront Festival is an outdoor event, I decided to try out shooting a clip with my Nikon D90, knowing the dissipated sound wouldn't overwhelm its little mic. The potential advantages to this: 1) it shoots in HD, though I realized later that I hadn't actually set it to HD, and 2) I get the visual benefits of shooting through a nice SLR lens, with all the options that implies. But the disadvantages were many: 1) it's a lot heavier than my camcorder, 2) autofocus doesn't work for video, which limits my ability to alter the zoom angle very much, 3) can't really fiddle with any of the other options while shooting, either, 4) no image stabilization. But that said, I really like how the picture came out -- the detail's good enough to get a sense of how many little gnats were swarming around the lakeside -- and I think if I'd brought a tripod and thought about how I wanted to shoot in advance the weaknesses could've been overcome.
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:35:55 -06:002009-06-19T08:00:00-06:00Locksley "The Way That We Go" (16.5 MB) from Be in Love Majestic Theatre Madison, WI June 13, 2009 Thanks again to my tipster, I've got the name of this one and now know that yesterday's song is, in fact, called "21st Century." Just in time to correct them for YouTube! As I noted previously, I was kind of surprised by the low-ish turnout for this show. The balcony was closed off, which I've never seen at the Majestic before, and I assume it's because they didn't need the room -- a few people wound up sitting up there during the Locksley set, but no more than half a dozen. But meanwhile, those people who were down on the floor went crazy pretty much the whole time. And for almost exclusively new material! I'm actually really excited for the new album (due this fall, supposedly), as there have been a number of follow-up albums lately that haven't really done much for me.