An Evening with Spoon

(All photos taken by A. L. Davies).Above: The beautiful Newport Music Hall displaying Spoon’s show.

This past Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing Spoon play the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio. I’ve always been a casual Spoon fan, enjoying their singles on the radio and appreciating how consistent their sound has been since the first song I remember hearing from them (“I Turn My Camera On”). But this show definitely impressed me, even though I generally prefer something more upbeat and experimental than Spoon’s laid-back, smoothly produced style of indie rock.

Above: Daniel sings to his fans.

First off, the stage presence of Britt Daniel was lovely. He was engaged from the start with the crowd, serenading people close to the stage and even pointing to fans in the balcony and singing to them. He paid homage to the Newport as the US’s longest-running rock club during the show, chatted about certain songs, and somehow looked like a total “dad” while also looking impeccably cool and relaxed.

Above: The band keeps perfect rhythm with each other, communicating both through count-ins and nods.
The band was also perfectly together; each riff tight, each beat on the mark and each synth lead perfectly placed. Even without the crystal-clear studio production, the bass still provided an excellent backbone to every song without being obnoxious (something I absolutely love about Spoon’s music). Daniel introduced and praised each member of his band while they were soloing, and every member exchanged nods, smiles and glances with each other during the song to make sure they were still on the same page. The precision was impressive, which I suppose is what makes Spoon such a lasting act over the past 20 years.

Above: Daniel in profile.
Even the light show was great. Not too showy or flashy, but adding the perfect amount of ambiance to the more ominous and atmospheric feel that Spoon’s new “Hot Thoughts” album plays with. Daniel was framed perfectly by the light, and the packed house loved it. 

The band played a solid mix of both older and newer songs, sticking mostly with their best known tracks from each album. I was probably one of the youngest people in the audience, but everyone around me was singing along to every word and greeted the start of each song with a new round of cheering. I left the show feeling like this dedicated fanbase was greatly deserved.

Spoon’s opener, Tennis, was also quality. The sounds of the two bands meshed perfectly, and as I’ve mentioned before, I love seeing women in indie. Despite some unfortunate sound system malfunctions, frontwoman Alaina Moore played it off delightfully with some jokes about her homeschooled, Christian upbringing (“My dad was a pastor and we always said in church that when the devil was cast out, it went into the nearest soundsystem” and “I was homeschooled, so that explains why I can’t dance”).

I love seeing shows at the Newport because it’s smaller, older, standing room only and historic. The stage isn’t too high off the ground and you’re right up there with the act you’re seeing. Despite being one of the more notable indie acts of the last two decades, Spoon managed to stay as down-to-earth and levelheaded as their music during the show and seemed truly gracious and humbled by the turnout of the crowd and the ability to perform in such a spot. I look forward to seeing them again in August at Lollapalooza and highly recommend their latest album.

Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

Follow me on Spotify!

For those who use Spotify on their laptop or phone, I’m looking for some new friends to share playlists and songs with. I’m almost always using the app, whether while editing for class, while doing research and sending emails at work, or at the gym or cleaning around the house. 

My username is aldavies-us and I use the same profile picture on there as I do on here.

I hope to soon be sharing tunes with you. And I hope your spring is going beautifully, and if you’re a student like me, it’ll all be over within a few weeks.

Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

Happy Easter!

Just a short post to wish everyone out there who celebrates Easter a very happy day. And if you don’t celebrate Easter, a very happy Spring day and a relaxing Sunday to you.

I had the blessing of going home for the weekend, seeing my family, celebrating my mom’s birthday and catching up on new music with my dad. I’m back at school now for a few more weeks of classes and exams, and once summer comes, I’ll be updating much more regularly.

A very blessed day to you all. Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

An Evening with Foxygen

Above: Impatiently waiting for the doors to open.
The feeling when a band completely shocks you and shatters your expectations of their live shows is a rare and glorious thing. And last night Foxygen did just that for me at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus.

I’ve always been a fan of Foxygen’s mesh of 60’s and 70’s-influenced rock songs that change tempo mid-tune, experiment with rhythms and brass/horns, craft erratic lyrical and vocal stylings, use sound effects, and fuse piano and keyboards into a jam. I went into the show expecting a laid back, peaceful session that wouldn’t be out of place at a small(er) city coffee shop, or a used book store.

Instead what I got was a full-fledged performance by Sam France dressed as a cross between Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, some Broadway-style dance sequences with backing singer Jackie, a nearly 7-minute guitar solo from Johnathan Rado and even a costume change halfway through the show. Above: Foxygen first takes the stage.

The show started with an excellent opener of about 6 songs from songwriter Gabriella Cohen and her backing band, who I’d never listened to previously. They were from an eclectic combination of Romania and Australia and crafted a show of charming banter with the audience and extensive jams on both electric and bass guitar. I also loved seeing two women fronting the show-and their vocal harmonies were fantastic. 

Above: Gabriella Cohen and her merry band.
Foxygen took the stage around 9 and instantly ripped into “We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic,” complete with a brass arrangement and a fantastic contrast of France’s wild and dramatic stage presence and Rado’s collected and calm keyboard playing. But just because Rado was relaxed and quiet in his demeanor doesn’t mean he still didn’t have his time to shine, like in his aforementioned solo before the encore, and some additional solos on both guitar and keyboard.Above: Rado is a man of few words, but plenty righteous riffs.

After that, their lovely singer Jackie (who the crowd gleefully yelled to) joined the band on stage to provide some delightful backing vocals for “San Francisco” and “Shuggie,” and stayed on stage the rest of the show to provide a dance partner for France, tambourine playing, and assorted harmonies.Above: Jackie prancing around her microphone stand before being joined by Rado to provide vocals for “On Lankershim.”

The band played the entire “Hang” album, as well as their hits from “We Are the 21st Century…” They even pulled a few from “…And Star Power,” using “How Can You Really” as the closing encore track.

Above: A casual trumpet jam session from France.

What really thrilled me about the show was the sheer energy level that France provided and the amazing quality of musicianship. Everyone on stage flowed perfectly wth each other, even when just jamming out during a transition. France performed each song like he was the starring role in an old Broadway show, falling to his knees and nearing tears for “Trama” or doing a perfectly timed jazz hand and kickline dance for “Avalon” (one of my personal favourites).

Above: France sings to his adoring fans after serenading Rado.
The audience interaction was also great. France offered the perfect amount of sarcasm and self-confidence, but seemed genuine as could be in all the kisses he blew to the crowd. He even answered fans screaming to him on the stage, and invited people to sing along and correct the words he’d gotten wrong in the lyrics.

All in all, I’m blessed I got to start my weekend watching such a performative and talented group that completely blew me away (and writes music that reminds me of my musical theatre days). I can’t wait to see Foxygen again soon and see the direction they take this performative and theatrical style in.

Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

Four Out of Five

A short update for this Wednesday afternoon. I was up at 7 this morning when the Lollapalooza lineup dropped, and I am ecstatic  to see that four out of five of the bands/artists on my wishlist yesterday-Lorde, Muse, Arcade Fire and Car Seat Headrest- are on it!

I won’t reveal too much about how I feel about the lineup yet because I’m planning a Top Ten post for this year’s Lolla (like I did last year, if you’ve been following since I started blogging over summer), but I am all the more eager to finish up this semester and finally get to summer because of it.

Did you see your dream festival performances on the lineup today? What are they? 

Have a great week, thanks for reading and God bless.

-A.L.D.

Lollapalooza 2017 Band Wishlist

For my fellow concert enthusiasts going to Lollapalooza, I hope the ticket purchasing process went smoothly for you today. I am happy to say it did for me, and I am officially going to Lollapalooza 2017!

In honor of the lineup dropping tomorrow morning at 7 (I live in Ohio, so I’m Eastern Time), I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 bands I’d love to see at Lolla 2017. This is based off of lists I’ve seen floating around the internet of rumored headliners, plus some of my own personal dream concerts. (We’ll see tomorrow morning if my dreams actually come true).

5.) Lorde

When “Royals” dropped in 2013, I was at first indifferent, then vehement I wouldn’t listen to it because the fanbase was so massive, and when I finally sat down and listened to “Pure Heroine” I realized that as usual when I’m an elitist about my music, I’m wrong. Lorde absolutely kills the pop game in my book, with her sparse production, synth waves and signature warbling alto. I’ve loved the two new singles-“Green Light” and “Liability”-and after seeing her SNL performance a few weeks back, I’m ready to see Lorde live.

4.) Muse

Another band I originally wrote off, and I still can’t believe I ever did. I got the chance to catch Muse live in 2013, and I was absolutely floored. Not only did the quality of musicianship completely impress me, but the stage presence and light show that goes with a Muse show is incredible. I’d love to see these guys in a festival setting, especially since I’m hearing that their performances are becoming more politically charged and vibrant than before.

3.) The Orwells

I’ve already praised these Chicago-based 20something garage rockers so many times on this blog, so I’ll keep this brief. The Orwells do a fantastic job of creating concise, banging rock songs with the occasional shockingly dark and sad lyric thrown in. Since I’ll be traveling for school when they’re in Pittsburgh, I figure a summer festival is the next best place to witness the punky, sneering swagger they bring to the stage.

2.) Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first indie rock band I dug into the back catalog of and explored from back to front at the tender age of 13. Also, I wanted to be Regine Chassagne for the longest time after “The Suburbs” dropped. Also, “Rebellion (Lies)”might be my favourite song ever. Also, “My Body is a Cage” is one of the best closing tracks I’ve ever heard. A festival would be the best place to fall in love all over again with these eclectic masterminds.

1.) Car Seat Headrest

Of course! Are you really surprised after all I’ve said about these guys recently? I basically have to see Will Toledo and Co this summer and the videos from Pitchfork 2016 just aren’t enough. If I’m in the first row, the second row or even the back of the crowd, when I hear the first notes of “Fill in the Blank” (if I’m lucky, “Times to Die” or “Cosmic Hero”), it’ll definitely transform my summer into the best one I’ve had thus far. Time shall tell.

Who are you hoping for on the Lolla lineup tomorrow?

As always, thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

A Very Belated Update

My apologies for not updating in a while. This semester is turning out to be much more than I originally bargained for, but as of yet nothing I can’t handle. Unfortunately, my posting count has suffered because of midterms, house obligations and chores, work and two large cumulative projects I’ve been working on throughout the semester.

But I am still here and as excited about 2017’s music scene as ever. Currently, I’m barely able to wait for Mac Demarco’s “This Old Dog” and Father John Misty’s “Pure Comedy” to drop (May 5 and April 7, respectively). I’m also loving the new music from Alt-J and Lorde, two artists I’ve been anxiously awaiting follow-ups and new directions from. Thanks to The Needle Drop, I’ve also been enjoying new music from PWR BTTM, especially their new single “Answer My Text” (which I highly recommend you listen to right now).

Since school is consuming every aspect of my social life, I also was unable to attend the Lucy Dacus/Hamilton Leithauser show I was planning on blogging about last month. Fortunately, I’ve been offered a chance to see Foxygen in a few weeks during a lull in my academic, social and work calendar, and I’ve also gotten tickets to see Spoon on May 11 after my finals are done, my projects turned in and I have a break from work for a few weeks.

And of course I’m counting down the days until 4-day passes for Lollapalooza go on sale. With the rumours of headliners I’ve heard (Lorde, Arcade Fire, Muse, Fleet Foxes…), I get more excited with each passing day. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I can’t wait to see Car Seat Headrest-I just feel like they HAVE to be on the lineup this year. They just have to.

So again, I apologize for the delay in updating over the last month. I was going to do a playlist post for Valentine’s Day (and still might, even though it’s quite belated), but this will have to do for now. I’ll try my best to keep updating here in the upcoming weeks after my Spring Break; I always enjoy the feedback I receive and writing about one of my most favourite things is quite relaxing.

Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

A Concert Update

I hope everyone is doing well and settling into the winter season as the first month of 2017 draws to a close. With the end of January I find myself determined to hold my resolutions for the new year, and also with quite an exciting update for my summer concert schedule.

You may’ve heard already that U2 is planning on touring “The Joshua Tree” album in its entirety worldwide this summer, and I am thrilled to say that I will be going to one of the shows for my second time seeing them live. U2 was one of my first favourite bands back when I was really getting into music and developing my own taste. I distinctly remember being assigned to read a biography of my choice as part of my reading class in 7th grade and choosing to read about Bono because of how much I admired his lyricism on early U2 releases (a very distinct memory of mine being the first time I learned the meaning behind the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and couldn’t focus on my lessons in school the next day because I kept playing the song over and over in my head). My first time seeing them-in 2011, on the U2 360 tour-is to this day on of the best nights of my life.

It may seem sacrilegious to say “The Joshua Tree” isn’t my favourite U2 album (I’m weird-I actually love their 90’s sound. Of course I think “Achtung Baby” is a masterpiece, and I actually really love “Zooropa” too. And “Boy” holds a special place in my heart), but I still can’t wait to hear songs like “In God’s Country” and “Trip Through Your Wires” live.

While I may not be nearly as much of a fanatic of a fan as I was when I was 13, I’m still thrilled to see the band that kickstarted my alt-rock fascination when I was a kid. I’ve definitely grown and matured since that 2011 show. Seeing again at a more mature and “adult” age a band that played such a crucial role in my adolescence will be a surreal experience, especially since I’m seeing them at the exact same venue with the exact same people. I eagerly await sharing about it on here and posting pictures.

Second in my summer concert lineup, and the night immediately after U2, I will be seeing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds with two huge Nick Cave fans (my dad and his best friend). This show I’m excited about for several reasons. First, it’s the complete opposite of U2’s venue-Nick Cave will be playing in an indoor concert hall where I saw Morrissey a few years back, a much more intimate venue than the outdoor arena where U2 will be. I think this works perfectly for the moody, rumbling, melancholy approach Nick Cave takes to indie rock.

Second, Nick Cave has always been one of those artists that is an indie rock flagship I was told I would “appreciate when I was older,” and I think I’m finally old enough to do some deeper exploration into his influential and established history. I’ve been meaning to listen to more of his back catalogue because I think his lyrical style and musicianship is something I would appreciate. I’ve heard Cave doesn’t shy away from exploring dark themes and emotions in his music, which as a writer, is something I’ve loved in bands from The Smiths (one of my all-time favourite bands) to Joy Division to Arcade Fire to Car Seat Headrest and The Orwells. Hopefully the show will be a great introduction.

And, as I’ve said in a previous post, early next month I will be seeing Lucy Dacus and Hamilton Leithauser live in a smaller venue, which I’m very excited for. I’m especially anticipating Dacus’s set because I missed her at Lolla, I love her debut so much and seeing women and people around my age in indie rock makes me happy. I’ll be sharing pictures and reflections on that, too.

What shows will you be seeing this year? Any you are particularly excited for? Will you be seeing any of these artists on their summer tours?

As always, thank you for reading, and God bless you and yours.

-A.L.D.

The Fitness Playlist Part 2

Last year/semester I did a post about my fitness playlist I listen to while working out at school. In honor of the Spring 2017 semester starting, here is another playlist I’ve been jamming to and adding to while working out at home over my Winter Break.

  1. My Type/Saint Motel
  2. The House That Heaven Built/Japandroids
  3. WOW/Beck
  4. Radio/Sylvan Esso
  5. Life Itself/Glass Animals
  6. Sick Beat/Kero Kero Bonito
  7. Don’t Save Me/HAIM
  8. Bury It/CHVRCHES
  9. Girls Like You/The Naked and Famous
  10. Beast Monster Thing (Love isn’t Love Enough)/Car Seat Headrest
  11. Wolves (You’ve Got Me)/DREAMERS
  12. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie/Red Hot Chili Peppers
  13. Express Yourself/N.W.A.
  14. Frontier Psychiatrist/The Avalanches
  15. Black Francis/The Orwells
  16. Never Be Mine/Angel Olsen
  17. To Know You/Wild Nothing
  18. Boys Life/Small Black
  19. Face Down in the Gutter of Your Love/Dent May
  20. Get Innocuous!/LCD Soundsystem

For a playlist containing these songs and more, follow me on Spotify and check out my playlist titled “time4coolstuff.” My username is aldavies-us.

For those who are headed back to school like myself, best of luck in your semester and I hope you are successful in all your involvements.

As always, thank you for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.

If I Could go to Coachella…

The announcement of the Coachella lineup is always a sad day for someone like me living in Ohio and confined to the final weeks of classes without room for a vacation just yet.

However, I always do enjoy making hypothetical lists of the artists I would enjoy seeing there, and fortunately for those who are able to attend, the setlist is stacked with talent. Here’s my top ten must-see artists if I could go to Coachella.

10.) Glass Animals

Glass Animals were at Lollapalooza 2015 and I refused to go see their show, writing it off as “not my cup of tea” because I didn’t like the song “Gooey.” Since then I have thankfully gotten over myself. The percussion and energy level in each track on their new record was enough to change my mind.

9.) Whitney

I enjoyed Smith Westerns, so I’m pleased Whitney sprang from their breakup. The upper range of singer Julien Ehrlich’s voice works to his advantage for both songs that make you want to skip with glee (“Wherever We Go”) and dismally reminisce about the one that got away (“No Woman”). I like the balance of acoustic and electric instrumentation as well as the occasional horn performance.

8.) Real Estate

Real Estate is the kind of band you want to soundtrack your November evening drives as you ponder the direction your life has taken over the year. I love how their songs layer repeating riffs on top of each other to make melodic, peaceful, soothing jams.

7.) Father John Misty

Don’t let the stage presence intimidate you-this guy knows how to make music that explores the bizarreness of the human condition in the driest, most verbose and most touching way possible. Watching him sardonically answer fan questions on stage was one of the highlights of Lolla 2015 for me.

6.) Radiohead

I think I want to see Radiohead again based on how talented they are as equally as I want to see them again based on how influential they’ve been to the field of independent rock over the years. (And “High and Dry” is one of my favourite songs of all time).

5.) The Avalanches

This group’s 2016 record “Wildflower” completely floored me in the best way. I’ve never listened much to sample-based music, but the amount of creativity and production skill that goes into creating an Avalanches track, and for that matter a whole record, makes me quite curious as to how a live show would translate.

4.) Mac DeMarco

I have to give a shout-out to my boy Mac! I’ve mentioned my love of his jangly, free spirited, carefree approach to music so many times on this blog. How friendly he is in interviews is enough to peak my interest in his live shows. The fact his music is so easygoing and listenable makes it all the better.

3.) Guided by Voices

This is another one of those bands that is so huge and so influential in creating and changing the shape of the independent landscape that seeing them live would be enough for a music fan. The storytelling and lyrical style of Robert Pollard and the DIY, lo-fi production and performance styles in the GBV catalogue would be a beautiful sight to behold.

2.) New Order

NO is one of my all-time favourite bands and a large portion of that love comes from how creative their music is. The way they use synthesizers and drum machines in building, crescendoing, dancey tracks that often last over the six minute mark has stayed fresh for over 30 years. While I wasn’t the hugest fan of 2015’s “Music Complete” and I love the bass playing of Peter Hook, I’d still love to see these guys live. Also, I just really love Bernard Sumner’s singing voice.

Before we hit number one, I want to give two Honorable Mentions. First, to the singer/songwriter known as Mitski, whose skills as not only a singer and guitarist but also as a lyricist make her a force to be reckoned with in the indie world right now. And second, to Lorde, who’s created some excellent pop songs with her lower range and minimal instrumentation.

1.) Car Seat Headrest

I gotta give it to the Car Seat boys. 2016’s “Teens of Denial” is one of those rare albums where I honestly feel like there’s not a single dull moment. The entire time I listen, every time I listen, I feel completely tuned in and connected to Will Toledo’s stories of self-discovery, navigating postgraduate life and growing up. The instrumentation is lively, sorrowful, passionate, angry and above all else, catchy. The lyrics are relatable, the riffs are loud and sometimes, a song brings on a momentary existential crisis. This is some quality music coming from a group of guys who are in their early 20’s. Hopefully, they’re going to be creating masterpieces like this for the rest of their lives.

What are your thoughts on the 2017 Coachella lineup? Are you going? Who are you most excited to see?

Safe travels to all those attending and have a wonderful time. Thanks for reading, and God bless.

-A.L.D.