Review: Secret Lover, Honduras, Sunflower Bean at the Middle East Upstairs 2-27-2016

Sign

There were a lot of good shows on this night, so it was tough to decide where to go. I ended up at the Middle East upstairs for an early show featuring Secret Lover, Honduras, and Sunflower Bean. Secret Lover had just gone on when I got there.

Secret Lover 3Secret Lover 2Secret Lover 1

Secret Lover

Worcester’s Secret Lover are a band that I first saw last year and really liked. With singer Sally Horowitz moving around all around the stage singing somewhat dark songs of love and breakups amongst other things, they played a really good set to kick off the night.

As I waited for Honduras to go on, I ordered a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union from the bar, which as usual, was delicious.

Honduras 3Honduras 5Honduras 2Honduras 4

Honduras

Honduras are a four piece from Brooklyn and they played an energetic set of fuzzy indie rock. I ended up really liking these guys a lot.

One more Hoponius Union, which has become my new “go-to” beer when I’m out, as I waited for Sunflower Bean to take the stage.

Sunflower Bean 4Sunflower Bean 3Sunflower Bean 8Sunflower Bean 7Sunflower Bean 6Sunflower Bean 5

Sunflower Bean

I don’t know if this show was sold out, but it sure felt like it by the time Sunflower Bean took the stage because the Upstairs was completely filled with people. There is a lot of hype about this Brooklyn trio, partly because the members are all under 21 and sound like they have been playing for years, but mostly because they are really fucking good! Tearing through a set of rock that seemed to cross a lot of genres ranging from psych to dream pop to a bit of noise rock that would have made Sonic Youth proud, the band absolutely killed it. At one point, singer/bassist Julia Cumming jumped down into the crowd while still playing, which was really cool! They even played a new song that isn’t available anywhere. After their set, there was a long line at their merch table where I saw more than a few people with the vinyl version of their newest album “Human Ceremony“, which I also recommend. The band also posed for pictures and chatted with fans, which was really cool too.

This night of music went beyond my expectations and I’m glad I went. All three bands were great. I picked up Honduras new EP called “Gathering Rust”, which can be preordered on their Bandcamp site but doesn’t ship until April, so it was nice to have a preview of this very excellent CD. I ended the night by stopping through Harvard Square for a Big Tasty at Tasty Burger, then made my way home for some much needed sleep.

Review: Typical Girls, Zettajoule, Esposa at Empire Control Room in Austin 12-13-2015

Sign

Since I was visiting Austin to do some apartment hunting for a possible move, but feeling kind of burnt out on it, I decided to go out to a random show and see some bands while I was there. After finding a parking spot and walking about 3 blocks, I ended up at Empire Control Room in the Red River district for a free local show. I had been here before, but never for a show. The layout is pretty cool, with a bar in one room, the stage in another smallish room, and an outdoor area with picnic tables to hang out and get some air. I got there too late to see Concrete Shoes and Typical Girls were already well into their set.

Typical Girls 2Typical Girls 1

Typical Girls

I only caught the last three songs Typical Girls set but I really liked them. This 5 piece band is from San Marcos, Texas had a really nice dream pop sound and reminded me a bit of I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness. I really wished I had gotten there earlier to see their whole set because the two EP’s they have up on Bandcamp are really good!

I went over to the bar and ordered a Live Oak Hefeweizen, which I really enjoyed, and took a seat at a picnic table in the outside area for a while as Zettajoule was getting set up.

Zettajoule 6Zettajoule 3Zettajoule 5Zettajoule 2Zettajoule 4

Zettajoule

Zettajoule are a quartet from Austin. With singer Meggan Carney up front and center on the keyboards, the band sounded great! It’s a little hard to pinpoint their sound exactly, with some songs having shrieks, the music was a little poppy, a little indie rock, but they were definitely fun and very appreciative of the crowd that ventured out on a Sunday night to see a show. At one point, there were lasers that seemed to hug everyone in the crowd, with more than a few people reaching out to try to touch them. It was very trippy and really cool! They also have a couple of tracks on Bandcamp that are definitely worth checking out.

Esposa 4Esposa 1Esposa 2Esposa 3

Esposa

With a table full of drum machines and other equipment set up on the stage, Esposa were the final band of the night. I’m not really sure how to describe this duo’s sound other than they had a mellow electronic R&B kind of sound and reminded me a little bit of Grimes. It was a pretty chilled out way to end the night.

It’s always fun to go out to a random show in a different city. There were some really good local bands playing this show and I had a good time. If I end up moving to Austin, I will definitely try to see any of these bands again.

Lollapalooza 2015 Day 3 – 8-02-2015

After a 3rd straight night of after-parties, it was starting to catch up with me. I wandered around the city for a while to find a coffee shop with wifi that doesn’t have the words “star” and “bucks” in them, but came up pretty empty. I did stumble across Firecakes and got myself a delicious donut though. I had planned to get to Grant Park early since I wanted to make sure to see Skylar Spence, but as I arrived, there were thousands of people filing out, which previous in experiences at Lollapalooza, means a storm is coming.

Evacuation from the park

Crowds leaving the park

Storm buildings

Dark clouds starting to come in

Waiting out the rain at the Hard Rock

Waiting out the rain in my room at the Hard Rock Hotel

Line to get back in to Lollapalooza

The line to get back in to Lollapalooza

It turns out they did evacuate the park due to a storm rolling in, so I went back to the Hard Rock to wait it out. Once the all clear came through on Twitter, I went back down to the park, where there was a massive crowd of people at the gates, but I got in faster than expected. The downside to all of this is that it’s kind of hard to keep track of the revised schedule.

Moon Taxi 2Moon Taxi 1Moon Taxi 4Moon Taxi 3

Moon Taxi

The first band I saw was Moon Taxi, who were playing on the large Bud Light stage. Although I wasn’t familiar with their music, I actually enjoyed their set. At one point, they brought out Nick from Walk the Moon to do a cover of Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” which was pretty cool.

Skyler Spence 2Skyler Spence 3Skyler Spence 1Skyler Spence 4

Skyler Spence

I was using the Lolla app to keep up to date on the schedule changes, but that didn’t seem to work out too well when I tried to see Skyler Spence’s set. After waiting 20 minutes at the Pepsi stage, for what turned out to be Albert Hammond Jr. setting up, I found out that Skyler Spence was playing on the BMI stage across the way. I was bummed to miss a good portion of his set, especially since that was my number one artist to see. He seemed to really be having fun up on stage, almost seeming like he couldn’t believe he was playing Lolla. Afterwards, he chatted with people along the railing, but didn’t quite make it to where I was standing…boo.

Gogol Bordello 1Gogol Bordello 4Gogol Bordello 3Gogol Bordello 2

Gogol Bordello

I took a walk over to the Palladia stage to see Gogol Bordello, who despite playing Lollapalooza a million times, I never actually saw. Jumping around the stage and playing their gypsy punk, the band sounded great. They were actually pretty fun to see, with people around me singing along to every song.

Chainsmokers 1Chainsmokers 2Chainsmokers 4Chainsmokers 3

Chainsmokers

The Chainsmokers were another of my must see bands for the day, so I cut through a very large crowd to get to Perry’s stage for their set. With lots of fire and high energy, tge Chainsmokers totally killed at Perry’s.

Halsey 1Halsey 2Halsey 3Halsey 4

Halsey

Back to the BMI stage where Halsey was playing to a decent sized and very attentive crowd. I mean, these seemed to be hard core fans, knowing the words to every song.

Wild Belle 1Wild Belle 4Wild Belle 3Wild Belle 2

Wild Belle

I went over to the Pepsi Stage to check out Wild Belle, where it was hard to get close, but that was some intense dark and spooky music.

NGHTMRE 1

NGHTMRE 2

NGHTMRE

Bassnectar 3Bassnectar 2Bassnectar 1

Bassnectar

NGHTMRE was on the Palladia stage spinning some robotic sounding EDM, which also served as a good warmup for Bassnectar, who was playing the Bud Light stage next. Bassnectar is another act that seems to be on the Lollapalooza lineup every single year or maybe it just seems like it. Either way, he was awesome and the field was filled with people dancing for the last big act of the weekend.

So, that was it for Lollapalooza 2015 and I had great time. It was good to be back after taking a break last year, and I really did miss being there, especially since festivals are my favorite places to be. I probably won’t stay at the Hard Rock Hotel again, as my stay was not as good as in previous years and I can’t recommend it anymore. Seriously, what happened to that place? It used to be fun, but now it’s just overpriced and boring. I’ll give the new Virgin Hotels around the corner a shot for sure. And don’t get me started on the hassle with Southwest at the airport when I left Chicago. In the end though, it was all worth it and it was still an amazing experience as always. I’ll be back next year for sure!

Culture Collide After Party – Night 2 – Yawn, Bleachers 8-01-2015

After the second day of Lollapalooza, I once again, showered and changed into some clean clothes for night 2 of the Culture Collide after parties. After standing in a line that was longer than last night’s, it only took about a half hour to get in. Once inside, I made my way to one of the several bars for a cold drink. The drink menu was different than the previous night, but they tasted just as good.

Yawns 2Yawns 1Yawns 3Yawns 4

Yawn

With a drink in my hand, I made my way close to the stage to see indie rockers Yawn, who are also from Chicago. They played a set that seemed to have more of a dance sound as opposed to only being straight up indie. I really enjoyed their set.

Busy Beaver Buttons

Busy Beaver Buttons

I did a little wandering around in between bands as DJ Lani Love was spinning some tunes. I went over the Busy Beaver Button table where the people working it ended up talking me into having a custom button made with my caricature on it. The people working this table were awesome people, fun and really nice.

Bleachers 1Bleachers 2Bleachers 6Bleachers 5Bleachers 3Bleachers 7

Bleachers

Bleachers is a side project of the band Fun’s Jack Antonoff. I’m by no means a fan of Fun, in fact, I find them really annoying, but Bleachers on the other hand sounded great! They did a pretty cool high energy cover of The Cranberries “Dreams” and they ended the night with “I Wanna Get Better”, which pretty much became an audience sing along. You could tell the band was enjoying themselves on stage and it’s always cool when it’s so obvious. It felt like they played a really long set, but I never kept track of the time.

Once the show ended, I hung around for a bit, then wandered around downtown Chicago on a search for some 2AM food. I found a place that was still open and serving personal sized Chicago deep dish pizzas, which was delicious! Back to the Hard Rock to get sleep and take on the final day of Lollapalooza.

Lollapalooza 2015 – Day 1 – 7-31-2015

After little bit of a late start, I got down to Grant park around 3pm, where there was a massive line to get through the gates for the first day of Lollapalooza. After waiting for 25 minutes in the hot sun, I was inside and wandered around to find the various stages. There weren’t too many bands I wanted to see on this day, so it was more of just walking around and exploring.

Cold War Kids 2Cold War Kids 1

Cold War Kids

The first band I came across was Cold War Kids on the massive Samsung stage, who were playing their 5th Lollapalooza. I got there in time to hear the last two songs. As soon as they ended, MS MR began playing on the Sprint Stage, which is in the same field.

MS MR 3MS MR 1MS MR 6MS MR 5MS MR 2

MS MR

MS MR came out to a very large crowd that danced through most of their alt-pop set. Singer Lizzy Plapinger completely took charge of the stage and really entertained the crowd. At one point, Tove Lo came out and did a duet with the band.

I moved on from there to get a beer from the “craft brew” area because it’s the better option than drinking Bud, which is sold everywhere else in the park. I really wouldn’t consider most of what was sold in this area as craft beers, but it comes off as more of a place to charge more for beer. I ended up with a Goose Island 312, which although tasty, would be my only beer of the day. After that, I tried the Do-Rite Donuts (whose donuts are amazing by the way) chicken sandwich which tasted amazing and washed it down with some a watermelon mint cucumber ginger lime juice from Owen and Alchemy. Hooray for nutrients! I found a spot in some shade near where the War On Drugs had just started playing.

The War On Drugs 1The War On Drugs 3The War On Drugs 5

War On Drugs

I first saw the War On Drugs at Austin Psych Fest last year and really liked them. It seemed to be a really mellow set and had a very large but equally mellow crowd, which you could tell by the smell of pot in the air.

I took a seat off to the side of the nearby main stage and waited for Alt-J to start. In the downtime a girl near me was carted away on a stretcher, I’m guessing may have had a little too much of something or other, which would be a common sight throughout the weekend.

Alt-J 1Alt-J 2Alt-J 3

Alt-J

Alt-J sounded really clear, at least from where I sitting. With a huge crowd, they played a set of indie rock and it was cool to hear “Left Hand Free”, one of my favorites from them, live.

First Aid Kit 1First Aid Kit 2First Aid Kit 3

First Aid Kit

Dillon Francis 2Dillon Francis 4Dillon Francis 3

Dillon Francis

I made my way over to the BMI stage, which is very small, to see some of Young Thug’s set. The crowd was so massive that you couldn’t get anywhere near the stage, so I moved on to Perry’s Stage to see Dillon Francis, who is one of the few EDM artists I like. This was by far the dirtiest area, with plastic cups, crushed beer cans, and trash everywhere. That being said, as always, this stage brings out a very interesting mix of people. Dillon Francis was perched very high on the stage and got the crowd fired up with a killer set of high energy dance music.

Paul McCartney 6Paul McCartney 1Paul McCartney 4Paul McCartney 2Paul McCartney 7

Paul McCartney

I went across the way back to the Samsung stage to catch some unknown guy named Paul McCartney (I kid! I kid!). This was one of the largest crowds for any bands that I’ve ever seen in my 6 times of going to Lollapalooza. The interesting thing was that it was mostly a mix of older people and lots of families with small children. I stuck around for about 6 or 7 songs (honestly, I’m not really a Beatles fan), which included a tribute to Jimi Hendrix, then went back to the Hard Rock to change and get ready for the Culture Collide after party.

Review: Honeyblood, Belle and Sebastian at the House of Blues 3-30-2015

With this show happening on a workday, I got a late start due to trying to take a nap before the show. After switching from the Red Line to the Green Line to Kenmore, I met up with some friends and we were off to the House of Blues to see Belle and Sebastian. Once through the door, we were directed all the way to the top of the venue…like as high as one can possibly get, but not before grabbing some beers first. I started out with a (very overpriced can) of Goose Island IPA, which wasn’t bad. As we waited at the bar, we had a pretty good view of Honeyblood, who were already well into their set.

Honeyblood

Honeyblood

Honeyblood, are a duo from Glasgow, Scotland, with one member on guitar and the other playing drums. These two ladies seemed to be dwarfed by the large stage. We only caught the last 3 songs, but we were liking their garage, indie rock sound. After they were done, we were off to find our seats. These seats seemed to be in what could be considered the “over 40” section, with much of the crowd around us being well over 40 (and obnoxiously loud…which was kind of strange). One more run for another Goose Island IPA before Belle and Sebastian came out for the first show of their North American tour.

Belle and Sebastian 1Belle and Sebastian 6Belle and Sebastian 9Belle and Sebastian 13

Belle and Sebastian

As Belle and Sebastian, of which there were many members, came out to take their places on stage, the crowd was cheering and clapping. The band started out with the light sounding “Nobody’s Empire” from their new album “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance”. From there, it was a mix of old and new songs including the danceable “The Party Line” (my favorite song off of the new album) and into “Dirty Dream Number Two”. Towards the end of the night, they let people come on stage and dance during “The Boy with the Arab Strap”, which I’m sure was the highlight of more than a few fans year.

Belle and Sebastian 15Belle and Sebastian 16Belle and Sebastian 19Belle and Sebastian 18

Belle and Sebastian

The band came back and played a couple more songs for the encore, ending with “Judy and the Dream of Horses”, before thanking a very happy and excited crowd that didn’t want it to end. As my friends headed back to Providence, I took at detour because ya know, Tasty Burger. This was a really fun night, with lots of strange characters around us, but it was good to see Belle and Sebastian again.

Review: Gateway Drugs, Swervedriver at The Sinclair 3-28-2015

Sinclair Sign

I got to the Alewife T stop only to find the all too familiar problem of the Red Line not running between there and Harvard Square, which meant having to take a bus, which in turn takes longer. After meeting up with a friend for pre-show drinks at Charlie’s Kitchen, then dinner in Harvard Square, we were off to the Sinclair for the Gateway Drugs/Swerverdriver show.

This was my first time at the Sinclair and it was much smaller inside than I expected (the outside of the building looks huge), but it was really cool. We found a spot on the second floor which gave us a pretty good view of everything, although I would have preferred to be on the floor in front of the stage. I got a Jack’s Abby Smoke & Dagger beer which as it’s name suggests, had very smokey flavor to it.

Gateway Drugs 6Gateway Drugs 2Gateway Drugs 8Gateway Drugs 7Gateway Drugs 4

Gateway Drugs

Gateway Drugs came out to a pretty packed club. I was already familiar with their music, so I knew what to expect, but my friend was surprised and really got into them. With crunchy guitars and switching off on boy/girl vocals, they played a pretty awesome set. They ended with an amazing cover of The Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction”. I think they won the night.

For my next drink, I tried the 16 Point Sweet Action. It was a lot lighter and had a little bit of a fruity taste to it, definitely a change from the smokey beer.

Swervedriver 1Swervedriver 17Swervedriver 14Swervedriver 5Swervedriver 7Swervedriver 16Swervedriver 15

Swervedriver

The place was completely filled with people by the time Swervedriver went on. Lead singer/guitarist Adam Franklin was surrounded by a LOT of pedals in the middle of the stage, with Jimmy Hartridge on guitar and Mick Quinn from Supergrass. who is filling in on bass for this tour on each end. Although they seemed to be a little more subdued on stage than Gateway Drugs, they were really, really, loud. Things got a little off track after a couple of issues with the effects pedals during their set, but a tech fixed them and became the hero of the night.

Most of the people around us were really friendly, which is something I’m not used to at Boston shows (but go to any city outside of the Northeast and you’ll walk away with at least 10 new friends, go figure!). Both bands were amazing and we had a really great time. On our way out, Gateway Drugs were at their merch table talking with fans, which is always good to see. The Sinclair is a pretty cool venue to see a show and I plan to go there more often.