Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Van Halen will come to Triangle after all

The Van Halen reunion tour that kicked off in Charlotte and Greensboro earlier this year will finally stop in the Triangle. The band announced a new string of dates in 2008 which includes a stop at the RBC Center on March 7. Ticket info isn't available yet.

Now if we could only get The Police, we'd be set.

Tickets for Van Halen go on sale Saturday, December 8 at 10am. Tickets will be $125, $75 and $49.50.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Polyphonic Spree liven up Cat's Cradle

You can't say The Polyphonic Spree don't know how to open a show.

The 22-person group opened their show at Cat's Cradle Tuesday night in a particularly grand fashion. After raising a makeshift red curtain to block view of the stage during setup, frontman Tim DeLaughter made his first appearance to the audience by cutting a heart-shaped hole in the center of the "curtain"

The show was truly great from start to finish, though I’ll admit I didn’t enjoy it as much as my last Spree show, which I enjoyed from right near the stage. This time I avoided the crush and stood by the sound board and I must admit there’s something to be said for standing in the middle of a crowd as they go absolutely crazy, singing, dancing and flailing around.

A Polyphonic Spree show definitely qualifies not as a show but as a “concert experience,” with confetti cannons being shot off at random and a literal army of people on stage.

Songs like “Hanging Around the Day” and “Soldier Girl” truly came alive on stage, though I think the highlight of the evening (for me at least) was the band’s cover of Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Live and Let Die.”

“We all reminisce,” DeLaughter said following the song. “Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad and sometimes it’s downright scary.”

I’m guessing that when the Spree reminisce, it’s almost always good.

But The Polyphonic Spree wasn’t the only great band that evening. In a rare moment of concert greatness, I was actually looking forward to all three bands on the bill that night, and they didn’t disappoint.

The Redwalls opened the show with a bang with their late-60s inspired rock and roll. The group played a short set mainly containing material from their new album that seemed to make a fan of everyone in the room.

Fronted by brothers Logan and Justin Baren, The Redwalls combine the best of Brit pop and good old fashioned rock ‘n roll grit. It’s no wonder Liam Gallagher once said they’re the only new band he likes.

Rooney, in their second Cat's Cradle appearance since July, made all the girls scream with their poppy love songs and California hipster vibe.

Frontman Robert Schwartzman (full name Robert Coppola Schwartzman, and yes he’s related to all the people you think he is) definitely knows how to play to the group’s fan base, asking the crowd “How many of you are in school?” (about half the audience raised their hands) getting the audience to clap and sing along and making sure to tell them the names of all their songs.

Rooney seemed to have developed a, uh, playful relationship with the band and crew for Polyphonic Spree. About two-thirds through Rooney’s set, a crew member for the Spree approached the sound board and asked the engineer “So should I cook his ass with the spotlight for a while?” Schwartzman may have squinted a bit for the following three songs, but at least we could see him a little better!

Set Lists

The Polyphonic Spree

Section 22: Running Away
Hanging Around the Day
Section 23: Get Up and Go
It's the Sun
Section 12: Hold Me Now
Section 30: Watch Us Explode (Justify)
Live and Let Die
Section 29: Light to Follow
Section 24: The Fragile Army
Section 26: We Crawl
Section 32: The Championship
When the Fool Becomes a King
Soldier Girl

The Redwalls

Love Her
Put Us Down
Game of Love
They are Among Us
Build a Bridge
Been Done Before

Don't Come Around Again
Calling The World
Daisy Duke
Believe In Me
Tell me Soon
I'm a Terrible Person
Runaway (Del Shannon cover)
Are You Afraid of Me
I Should've Been After You
Our Love
All In Your Head
When Did Your Heart Go Missing

[all photos by Kevin Norris]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Search for the next great jackass

I'm all for open mic nights, battle of the bands contests and random ways for local bands to gain recognition, but when you're talking about fake bands I just can't support that.

The local Fox affiliate is promoting a contest "Search for the Next Great Air Band" to go along with the network's "The Next Great American Band." I think someone's been playing a bit too much Guitar Hero.

To enter the contest, all you have to do is film yourself lip syncing to a song or playing air guitar and you, yes you!, could be flown to Los Angeles for the show's finale.

This right here is why the AMPTP needs to get back to the table and agree to pay the WGA for all the fabulous work they do. Reality TV is not your friend!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lifehouse to play free show this weekend

While I am in no way a fan of the band I am about to mention, I feel it is my duty to inform people of free shows in the area, so here it goes.

Lifehouse will perform a half hour set at the lighting ceremony for NBC 17's Tree of Lights this Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Streets of Southpoint. The show will take place at 6:45 p.m. and the lighting will occur around 8:50. The tree is located in front of the movie theatre and Urban Outfitters.

You can even enter for a chance to meet Lifehouse by visitin the NBC 17 tree blog.

The lighting will be televised on NBC 17 from 7:30 to 9:30, but the concert will not be part of the broadcast.

Smashing Pumpkins disappoint in Greensboro

After Thursday night's Smashing Pumpkins show in Greensboro, it's obvious that Billy Corgan should have left the Pumpkins legacy alone.

The Pumpkins took the stage at War Memorial Auditorium opening with "Where Boys Fear To Tread" from Mellon Collie. It was obvious from the beginning that it was going to be a long night. The sound in the auditorium was awful and the band's loud, super-fuzz guitars sounded like a blurred wash of sound all night. "Where Boys" and the second song, Siamese Dream's "Cherub Rock" were both disappointing. The songs were sloppily played and unimpressive.

Throughout the night when they pulled out the "hits," Corgan sang them with such disdain, it made them hard to enjoy. He slurred the words on "Today" and "Tonight, Tonight" like he really was playing them out of total obligation and with no emotion at all. "Tonight, Tonight" and "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" among other old songs were played way too fast. "Tonight" was so fast it just wasn't enjoyable.

Corgan actually seemed to put forth an effort on the new songs from Zeitgeist. Unfortunately, most of those songs are just an awful attempt to recapture the Pumpkins heyday. The first single, "Tarantula," and "Bring the Light" were tolerable, but the other songs were painful. Fortunately the set only included four new songs, but, unfortunately the dreadfully repetitive ten-minute-plus song "United States" was among them. Corgan actually played "The Star Spangled Banner" towards the end of the song making it even more atrocious. I guess he thinks he's Hendrix.

Corgan played two songs solo in the middle of the set including "For God and Country." The lyrics are trite, repeating "For God and country, I'll fight, for God and country, I'll die." I don't know what Corgan was going for when he was writing that song, but it didn't work. He followed the song with the uber-crowd pleaser "1979." It got the crowd's lighters and cell phones in the air. The solo version of the Mellon Collie hit was respectable.

The band's set list choices seemed to bore and annoy many fans that night. Numerous people complained that "Zero" wasn't played and a lot the crowd sat through a large portion of the set. It's not surprising that the crowd didn't take to the set, but some of the more obscure songs made for the best songs of the set.

"Hummer" from Siamese Dream, "Stand Inside Your Love" from Machina/The Machines of God and the old obscure song "Drown" were the highlights of the show. The obscure "1979" b-side "Set the Ray To Jerry" was also a nice addition to the set.

Even though the Pumpkins played a few well-played obscure songs in the set, they managed to pull a Titanic at end of the set. The last two songs of the main set were "United States," mentioned above, and "Heavy Metal Machine" from Machina/The Machines of God. Just when you think the show can't get any worse, the band drug the song out for at least 15 minutes including a string of covers in the end. R.E.M.'s "The One I Love" was first up. It wasn't awful, but it did not suit Pumpkins. Next came an unidentified blues song and then the biggest travesty of the night. The played The Arrows tune "I Love Rock N' Roll" made famous by Joan Jett. Corgan made a fool of himself getting people to sing along to the lyrics. "Open your hearts," he said. "I'm up here in some pirate clothes, you gotta sing." He did look ridiculous in his aqua blue outfit (see an picture of the outfit from the Boston show). I find it odd that he seems to think fans expect him to dress like a jackass.

The band left the stage for about 5 minutes before coming out to play the an anticlimactic one-song encore. They played the song "Starla" from the 1994 b-sides album Pices Iscariot. The song wasn't particularly impressive and left the crowd, myself included, a little puzzled when that was it. Much of the crowd grumbled while making their way out of the venue and many seemed a bit confused. The encore was certainly was the icing on top of the very crappy cake that was the show.

The Smashing Pumpkins either need to leave the past in the past and focus on the evolution of the band's sound or embrace the past and play the old hits with as much conviction as the new tunes. They seem to want it both ways and it doesn't work.

Here's the full setlist.

Where Boys Fear To Tread
Cherub Rock
Bring the Light
Tonight, Tonight
Bullet With Butterfly Wings
For God and Country (Corgan solo)
1979 (Corgan solo)
To Sheila
Set the Ray To Jerry
Stand Inside Your Love
United States
Heavy Metal Machine
[The One I Love]
[blues song]
[I Love Rock N' Roll]

Here's a video of "Hummer," a highlight of the set.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Band of Horses packs a crowd at Lincoln Theatre

Well, it’s official. Charleston may very well have the best music scene in the southeast.

This view was only solidified by Band of Horses’ show at Lincoln Theatre last Thursday.

Now, Raleigh doesn’t exactly have the hip reputation of Chapel Hill or Carrboro. Even so, the typically modern rock club was packed to the gills with fans of the Mt. Pleasant, SC, -based group, which is currently enjoying an “it band” status.

Wearing an Iron and Wine shirt, lead singer Ben Bridwell joked with the crowd throughout the set.

“I’d like to announce this is the beginning of the boring part of the set if anyone would like to use the bathroom,” Bridwell said before playing “Marry Song.”

The “boring part” did not last long, however. After playing “No One’s Gonna Love You,” a song Bridwell declared a “pain in [his] ass,” the group played an absolutely mind blowing cover of Them Two’s “Am I a Good Man.” (Check this YouTube video for just a sample of that night’s action.)

Here’s the set list from the show.
The General Specific
Wicked Gil
Ode to LRC
Marry Song
No One's Gonna Love You
Am I a Good Man (Them Two cover)
Is There a Ghost
The Great Salt Lake
The Funeral
Our Swords
Part One
Showdown (ELO cover)

Opening the show were Ashville musician Tyler Ramsey and Australian band The Drones.

“We’ve got a wide variety of music tonight,” Ramsey said. “From the subtle acoustic tones of me, to The Drones who will rock your face off and Band of Horses who will also rock your face off. So if you leave with a face you’re one of the lucky ones I guess.”

Ramsey is a talented soloist, but unfortunately, much of the crowd was too chatty to hear him well.

But they were all silenced once The Drones took the stage, a wall of sound emitting from the speakers.

Lead singer Gareth Liddiard didn’t talk much from the stage between the group’s apocalyptic psych-rock songs. He did take a moment to introduce one song, though.

“This one’s called ‘She Had an Abortion and She Made Me Pay for It.’ I won’t tell you what it’s about,” Liddiard said.

(all photos by Kevin Norris)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Decemberists cancel U.S. tour

Sad news for fans of the Decemberists. After just two shows the group has cancelled the remainder of their U.S. tour, including two dates at Winston-Salem's Millennium Center Nov. 6 and 7.

Here's the band's official statement.

With much regret the Decemberists have cancelled the remainder of 'The Long and Short of It' tour.

"One of our band members has been ill for a while but we thought all would be well in time for these tour dates. After a couple shows, though, it has become clear that the illness is much worse than we had initially realized. We need to return home so our friend can mend.

"It saddens us to disappoint our fans. We hope everybody understands it is only because of an extreme situation that we had to cancel a tour we've all been excited about doing since the idea was originally hatched.

"Our deepest apologies but at this time no plans are being made to reschedule the dates. Ticket holders should seek refunds at point of purchase."