I don’t know about the rest of LTCK but I can for sure say this is one of the best shows I’ve seen all year and maybe even the greater part of last year too.
Let’s start with the opener Shearwater, who is a well-received band in their own right. Featuring ex-members of the folky Okkervil River, they’re no strangers on how to make a good music. The sound vibes we got from Shearwater was a mix of The National with Arcade Fire, so there was no way they could really go wrong there. Me and Trey were impressed by their democratic stage approach, as the members rotated on both instrumental and vocal duties.
Then it was time for St. Vincent, aka. Annie Clark. Annie, being a member of Sufjan Stevens’ touring band for awhile, is also no stranger to making good music. I think it’s akin to working at Apple for a while and then starting your own tech company - you’ll know what you’re doing. Anyway, with Annie on guitar, she is rounded out by a drummer, an Asian gal on a mini Moog synth, and a keyboardist. Soundwise, Annie’s vocals and guitar are slightly more pronounced than anything else (which is a good thing) but overall I would say the rest of the sounds are pretty evenly mixed. To me, how well everything is mixed is half of the battle of a good show: too often I go to shows where the instruments drown out the vocals pretty badly and things end up sounding unintentionally shoegaze…but I digress again.
St. Vincent opened up with “Marrow” which is the liveliest song from Actor and that got the crowd moving right away. It also put on perfect display what Vincent is known for: guitar freakouts. I hate calling it that, but that’s exactly what they are. The whole night during every song she would bust out some serious guitar licks, dancing around the stage all jittery like she was Elvis or something.
“Surgeon” was the obvious highlight of the night. Even if you’ve heard this song a million times on record, it doesn’t hold a candle to seeing it performed live. Basically, every second of this song is like magic - it’s that perfect. There are tons of transitions, making it sound like four different songs at once but they all come together to make one enjoyable, complete song. And that transition into the ending of the song is too good for words. Nothing was more phenomenal than the ending to “Black Rainbow” though, which just ascends and ascends for like a minute straight - it was so epic, it definitely felt like the world was on the edge of doomsday.
Her crowd interaction was top notch. The between-song banter was slightly above your generic “Thank you so much (insert city here)” and she tried to make it a little more personal, namedropping the places she’s played in town previously, and talking about her day in the library near The National. She also told some charming jokes with her awkward but spot-on sense of comedic timing. During “Krokodil” she crowd surfed through the entire song like she’s been doing ever since she first started playing it live which was a lot of fun to be a part of, and provided some great photo opportunities as well (I don’t have any photos but I’m sure lots of them will be floating around out there).
The main set was comprised of almost all of Strange Mercy and a few cuts from Actor here and there. She encored with the title cut from Strange Mercy and then my favorite from Marry Me, “Your Lips are Red.” I wish there was a little more of Actor and Marry Me represented but I was more than stoked on what was played. Hands down, I can say St. Vincent really raised the bar on which I will grade future live shows.
One good show review deserves another, and I think I’ll use Trey’s style of writing here as a template for my review.
So I’ll also start with a few words about the venue. The Jefferson Theater is located in downtown Charlottesville, in the midst of an outdoor strip mall. As it was Friday, the streets were bustling with life and I didn’t even notice the venue as I walked past it. Walking in from the street level, you are actually on the second floor, and must descend into the pit. The pit is a decent size and and the stage is quite visible no matter what angle you happen to be standing at - a plus. The Jefferson also has a strict “no video, no photo” policy but I guess smartphones are the loopholes to that rule.
These photos are courtesy of Shannon’s instagram (follow her @dizzzydance)
The opener Zomes left a lot to be desired… to put it nicely. He plays aimless drone music which I felt dragged on for too long. Also, sporting a beard, black beanie, black shirt and black jeans, frankly he looked a bit..homeless. We’re not entirely sure what he was doing opening for a band like Beach House. Me and a guy concluded that Zomes wasn’t thrilling because his music lacked any sort of real payoff and all of his songs all felt unfinished. Some unexpected twists or climaxes would have strengthened his material.
Then it was time for Beach House. Beach House’s stage presence can best be described as “subdued.” Already, they’re not that energetic on their albums and thus you don’t get too much of an impact live either. I don’t know if it was because Charlottesville was the first stop on the tour, but the band did not seem that talkative or eager to engage the crowd - probably because they hadn’t the chance to build up that momentum or find their “groove”. Every now and again though, Victoria would throw up some hand gestures and give us a few dance moves, which was pretty entertaining.
That aside, the music was great. It’s amazing that a guitar, keyboard and drums can fill a venue with such a full, chill vibe. As they were touring on their new album Bloom, Beach House played a LOT of new stuff. All in all I’d say they played about 9 new songs - 8 from Bloom and one b-side. I think this put the crowd at a disadvantage, because we haven’t had enough time to get Bloom in our systems so we couldn’t sing along as much. But my favorites from Bloom - Lazuli, Wild, Other People, and Myth, sounded phenomenal live. They have a sort of “punch” that was missing from the older stuff.
The older stuff is what got the crowd going, though. We were treated to some of the best bits of Teen Dream: Norway, Walk in the Park, Zebra, Silver Soul, 10 Mile Stereo, and that beast of a closer, Take Care. I would have swapped out 10 Mile Stereo for a better song like Used To Be, or Lover of Mine, or something off Devotion, though.
During the encore they did decide to bless us with an amazing, amazing performance of Devotion favorite “Turtle Island”. Near the end where Victoria’s sighs kind of dissolve like sugar into the music, she handled this perfectly. This got a lot of “woos” from the crowd.
So closing words: this is the “Bloom” tour, and if you love the new stuff, you’ll love the show; but if you’re hoping to hear stuff from Devotion and earlier, you will be quite disappointed. Still, I recommend you see this amazing dream pop band live; and I can testify that, from when I first saw them open for Grizzly Bear in 2009 from seeing them headline last night, they have progressed tremendously both as a live band and in their songwriting.
Well hello there folks! It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted anything for LTCK. But I am back and for a good reason…
I was fortunate enough to witness DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE perform alongside the Magik*Magik Orchestra with my lovely lady (feathersforver.tumblr.com)!
First, let me start this off by describing the venue. The Strathmore is a prestigious music hall where the typical performances are concertos and symphonies. There were lobbies on multiple levels with catered food, beverages, and beautiful modern art. They also require assigned seating, staying seated during the performance, and they have a very strict no photo or video recording policy. With that being said you can imagine what I was in for.
Youth Lagoon (Trevor Powers) started the night off with a very quaint setup. A table with a keyboard and sampler, and a buddy that he brought along for guitar backup. I have a really hard time getting into lo-fi music typically, but, I have been listening to The Year of Hibernation, Power’s newest full-length album, which is available at http://www.fatpossum.com/artists/youth-lagoon and I really dig it. Power’s nasally washed out voice and subtle lyrics, over his delicate keys and pounding drum samples sounded fantastic. And with the acoustics of the Strathmore amplifying his performance was even better! My personal favorite song was 17, which is about imagination. ”Don’t stop imagining. The day that you do is the day that you die.”
After Youth Lagoon, and a very short intermission, it was time for us to witness Death Cab for Cutie backed by the amazing Magik*Magik Orchestra.
Magik*Magik came onto the stage first and took their places followed by the Gibbard who took to the piano. Magik*Magik opened with a lovely melody leading into Gibbard who proceeded into the piano intro of Passenger Seat. Luckily someone got away with recording and it can be seen here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVIDBfyXKgA
To say I was overwhelmed would be the greatest understatement of all time. Gibbard and Walla were also full of comic relief throughout the show. They had small talk about how quiet the room was, Star Wars, and that rock and roll “never died”, said Gibbard to someone in the audience. Following Passenger Seat were Different Names for the Same Thing, A Movie Script Ending, and Title and Registration, which they sped up and made it have more groove to it. Newer songs Grapevine Fires, Codes and Keys, and Underneath the Sycamore followed the songs from the older Plans, Photobooth, and Transatlanticism albums. Next,they snuck in some old gems into their set. Little Fury Bugs and Death of an Interior Decorator which were great to hear live with an orchestra. I really enjoyed that the band stayed true to fans who know their whole catalog.
They then played You Are a Tourist from their latest record, Codes and Keys, which Magik*Magik actually assisted with in the recording of the album. Once again, DCFC being the wonderful band they are threw in two more oldies, Bend to Squares and Hindsight followed by a very lively version of Crooked Teeth.
They played Soul Meets Body next and then winding down with What Sarah Said, which I can honestly say was my personal favorite song of the night. They then finished up their regular set with Stay Young, Go Dancing andreceived a standing ovation at the conclusion.
Thankfully, despite the Strathmore’s wishes, most of the audience remained standing and cheering for the performers to return on stage. Within minutes the guys came back on stage, but, without the orchestra. They huddled on stage close together for Steadier Footing followed by 405 with Gibbard and Walla on acoustic guitars. The orchestra arrived on stage for Monday Morning and then a special surprise Velvet Underground cover of I’ll Be Your Mirror proceeded after!
It was nearing the end of the night when two songs from Transatlanticism were performed in all their glory. Tiny Vessels followed by a near ten minute epic performance of Transatlanticism. It was unbelievable to say the least! The song concluded, the show was over, and the Magik*Magik Orchestra and the boys of DCFC took their bows.
In my eyes, this was one for the record books. The acoustics of the venue, the great view we had (6th or 7th row seats), and of course the phenomenal performances both from Youth Lagoon, DCFC, and the Magik*Magik Orchestra, has certainly made this experience one of the greatest I have ever had.
(full size photos can be seen here!)