March 11, 2009

I attended my first real concert on Halloween night in 1992, when I was a freshman in high school. A gaggle of my friends and I went to see Morrissey play at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, just north of San Diego. My Halloween costume that year was very uninspired – I was a “dead person”. Morrissey fans in Southern California at that time tended to skew towards the goth side of the spectrum, so really my costume didn’t look like much of a costume at all.

When I was younger, when I was still attending “concerts” rather than “shows” (there’s a difference, you know) the relationship between the audience and the performers was much different for me than it is now. Performers were demi-gods onstage, doing things and making sounds I couldn’t even comprehend how to do. It took me many many shows over the years to realize that the performers were, more often than not, boring people just like me. They lived in apartments and went grocery shopping. They were like me and my friends, and then, gradually, they were my friends.

I remember waiting in line to get into the Morrissey concert, and then rushing to the front of the crowd with my friends. I remember spending the entire night being squashed tightly against strangers, sweating badly and needing to pee yet feeling exhilarated. I was sending text messages to Tony about this last night and I realized that was 17 years ago.

I read recently that Morrissey was touring again. Ara and I were speculating the other day just how old Mr. Morrissey is these days. We thought maybe he’s in his early 50s, but the Internet tells me he is 49 (we were close!) I hadn’t planned to go see him play, as I never pay more than 15 dollars to see live music, and actually, I prefer to pay less than 10. Plus, I haven’t really kept up with his musical output the past number of years. But then, Matt Huguenots called me yesterday asking if I wanted to go to the Morrissey show in Durham because he had a spot on the guestlist and could bring a few people with him. So I’m off to Durham tonight with Matt and his girlfriend after dropping off my dear daughters for a sleepover with their friends. It should be fun. I’m really quite looking forward to it. This sudden opportunity has colored my week a little more rosily.


can you dig it?

January 21, 2007

(I’m the 2nd from the left, in the blue and white dress, Robb took the photo)

Violet Vector and the Lovely Lovelies played their first show last night at Local 506, opening for The Gondoliers and Death of the Sun. I have taken a hiatus from the band due to some personal things I have had going on, so it was a very bittersweet night for me, to watch the band really come together onstage. They played so well, and looked so cute, and the club was packed with friends and other random people. I really think the band is going to go somewhere – Chapel Hill is ready for a super P!O!P! almost-all-girl band.

Amanda called me up onstage for the last song, “Can You Dig It.” Matt handed me a tambourine, and we got to playing. And it felt SO GOOD to be onstage with my lovelies, and play our song together, and look out into the crowd of people and see them happy and dancing and smiling, and all those familiar faces. I’d thought it would be terrifying to be onstage, but it wasn’t at all, it just felt very, very fun.

I hope I can play with the band for real in the near future. It was hard not to start crying on my way out of the club.

song o’ the day

October 31, 2006

Tapes ‘n Tapes – “Insistor”

And don’t be terse and don’t be shy
Just hug my lips and say goodbye

I went to see this band play in town last night. Before the show I sat behind the doorman and watched all the people coming in. The venue requires each patron have a membership due to the risible state and county alcohol laws, and almost everyone coming in the door had to buy a membership – I guess there were a lot of first-timers coming out to that particular venue for the show. Which made me feel a little chuffed about when I had come in the door and had been recognized by the doorman. Later that evening the owner of the club walked by and grabbed my elbow and said Hello which pleased me to no end. I do not indulge in scenester tendencies much at all, but I must admit it felt nice to be recognized. Guess I’m a local now.

The band played really well, making a sweet, sweet ruckus. They did this song particularly well, building up to crescendos in a way that I liked quite a bit.


September 28, 2006

According to the local independent weekly Of Montreal will be playing a free show tomorrow afternoon at Duke University. Too bad I’ll be at work.

a wealth of shows

September 23, 2006

I went to three shows in the last week. If I were a different person and didn’t have any responsibilities, I would have gone to at least two more. It has been one of those weeks around here. Sometimes a bunch of touring bands converge on the Chapel Hill area in one week, and there are too many shows to see, and not enough time. And then other times, no one of interest to me comes to play for weeks on end.

Tuesday – M. Ward/Lambchop/Portastatic – at the Cat’s Cradle

I have not ever really been a fan of Portastatic, but I liked their set this time around. It was not rocking at all really and Mac’s singing voice sounded pretty good. I was ill (I am still ill now) and I was determined to drink a lot of beer, and I only had three beers, but that was enough. I had never really heard Lambchop before, and after their set I have decided I need to get ahold of their albums. I was standing close in front of the crowd and was entranced by their slow lovely music. They had a dozen people onstage. M. Ward simply rocked, and I was glad of that. He played my two favorite songs of his (“Four Hours in Washington” and “Poison Cup”) back-to-back early in the set, which suffused me with happiness. The happiness lasted all evening and into the next day, actually. It was a perfect convergence of an evening.

Thursday – Sufjan Stevens – at Memorial Hall, UNC

The venue is lovely (although the air-conditioning vents being directly underneath the seats make for a VERY UNCOMFORTABLE evening), the music was lovely, Sufjan’s chatter between songs was lovely, the night was lovely. But I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the time that I saw him play last year at the Cat’s Cradle. It was not as engaging, which is likely just due to the difference in venues. Also maybe had something to do with the fact that I felt so very, very OLD at this show. I have to say, the kids going to shows don’t bother me at all, it’s just that when I’m surrounded by them at a show, their very presence makes me feel very, very startled. The rendition of “Casimir Pulaski Day” made me want to cry, which is unsurprising, as the song always has that effect on me.

Friday – Beirut – at Duke Coffeehouse in Durham

I’d been wanting to see a show at this venue for a while, and I finally had the chance. It’s a student-run cafe at Duke University that somehow manages to book some good acts every once in a while. I was standing at the back, on a step that gave me a good view of the stage, right next to the soundboard. The people working the soundboard were either too drunk or too incompetent. The band was constantly asking them to fix the mics (with good reason), and the people working the board were talking on their mobile phones or just gazing off into space. It was beyond annoying. But the band! It was great. Seeing the band play gave me a sense that it’s not just one guy’s bedroom project anymore. And they were really tight together and looked like they had a lot of fun. Zach, the frontman, had a fever and he looked like he was feeling pretty awful, he was pale and clammy looking, and I felt pretty bad for him, but he definitely gave it his all, performing really well I though. For their last song the band brought their instruments into the crowd and played in the middle of everyone, and people sang along (not difficult as the crowd didn’t need to know the words…just a bunch of yodeling, for the most part) and I was very excited and happy to see this band bring their music down to such a personal level for the people around them. It really warmed my heart to see all these young “hip” kids in the crowd being drawn into the experience of live music like that, and such a strange sort of music it is, Balkan folk music through an American filter. I have more to say about this but not the words for it. However, the best part of it all for me was their tambourine man, who was channeling Bez, banging the fuck out of two tambourines, dancing around, throwing his arms around people. It was really quite astonishing and incredible. That crashing tambourine sound is so integral to Beirut’s music, and the tambourine guy just did it so perfectly.

(not spell-checking like I usually do…cheers!)


This was a very fun show. The first opening act (didn’t catch their name) wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but they weren’t bad. The second act, Chad van Galen, was pretty good, singer-songwriter with some drums that really caught me, although I was much happier when he brought out an actual drummer halfway through his set rather than relying on pre-recorded drums. And then Band of Horses played – I found their music to be pretty generic guitar rock, which again isn’t usually my cup of tea. BUT — the singer’s voice is so distinctive, it really makes the music special, and I really enjoyed their set. The singer had some pretty amusing, endearing between song banter. He was well aware of the fact that they only have about 35 minutes of recorded music from which to draw a set, and he told the crowd the band would play a lot of new songs and covers, and they did. Not a mind-blowing show by any means, but definitely very comfortable and fun. It was a great night out.

But they have this one song that’s been floating around on the Internet for a while, “The Funeral,” and it’s a shockingly good song. It sounded pretty great live too. It’s very power-ballady, but somehow I love it. The frat boys in attendance loved it too. (Where do they come from? How do they hear about these things?) The frat boys were very well-behaved, so I was sorta glad to see them there. (Ha, I keep typing “fart boys” and having to go back and edit.) I’ve grown less exclusive as the years go by, pretty glad to see people of any stripe now respectfully enjoying a show, coming out to support good music.

There’s been a few weeks’ lull in shows I want to see around here, but it’s about to get busy again. Next week – M. Ward, Sufjan Stevens, and Beirut. And more to come in the next month or so.