Sunday, October 18, 2009

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Grizzly Bear w/ Morning Benders @ Moore Theater, Seattle WA

Posted: 18 Oct 2009 09:36 AM PDT

I arrived at the Moore Theatre last night just in time to get my Will Call tickets right when the doors opened, thankfully – since it was one of the rainiest days of the year in Seattle, which is saying a lot. I stood out in the lobby for a bit before they opened the doors for us to find our seats.

I – along with a few other people – trickled into the old theater through the corridors myself in the box seats, the others spread around within the theater. A few guys came and sat in the box a few rows behind me, discussing whether or not to get drunk.

"We can't drink beer down here? Let's go mingle. Let's go drink beer," the first guy proposed.

"Okay, dude. Let's go drink beer," the second guy responded.

By that point, the historic Moore Theatre was pretty empty. Actually, most of the people didn't arrive until halfway through the openers, the from San Francisco.

Personally, they were a big part of the reason why I went to the gig. I saw them in July of 2008 as openers for my favorite band W Are Scientists, and from then on I wished to see them again.

Unfortunately, when they came back to Seattle this October, someone decided to break into their van some time before the show and steal some of their equipment, among other random things. But had I not known that, I wouldn't have thought otherwise, because they were totally at ease on stage. Kicking it off with a low-key version of "Damnit Anna," one of the peppier songs from their debut Talking Through Tin Cans, they were just the right compliment for Grizzly Bear – the headliners. But the rest of the songs were new ones from their upcoming release, Big Echo, which doesn't yet have an official release date. I caught a few of the titles of the new songs, and my favorites were "Hand Me Downs," an upbeat song more reminiscent of Talking Through Tin Cans, and "Stitches," a slow, heavy ballad. "Stitches" actually kind of mesmerized me. And sitting by myself in the box at that point, I could just bask in the sound and listen. It was nice.

The ' sound was more mature than the last record, which makes me excited to hear all of Big Echo. But even though their new stuff sounded more mature, the still had the same charm they had last time I saw them. All of their guitars may not have been labeled "Britney Spears," but drummer had the familiar sticker on his snare. Not sure what it means. I'll have to figure that out one day, but it's interesting nonetheless.

The were very gracious openers, as front man Chris Chu repeatedly thanked Grizzly Bear for bringing them on this leg of the tour, which gave everyone a nice impression of the band. But I don't think they got the love they deserved because like I said earlier, most of the people got to the venue late, just in time to see Grizzly Bear. At the end, Chu thanked the crowd "for coming early to see us." That's not early, that's on time. Everyone else got there late.

But they did come to see an amazing show. Grizzly Bear was amazing.

Normally I don't like sitting in the theater at gigs, but in this case, the Moore was the perfect venue for it – large, but not too large so it's still intimate. And the haunting vocals from Daniel Rossen, , Chris Taylor and worked perfectly with everyone seated. It's not the kind of music you dance to, more like the kind you just listen to.

And that's all I had to do – listen.

And Grizzly Bear surely brought in the crowd. The guy sitting next to me had heard of them just that day, and lived in Pullman. He drove four hours to see them. Wow.

I've never seen a more dynamic group of musicians. First hearing them on Veckatimest a couple months ago, I would have never guessed they could pull off all the layers of sound they achieved on the record the same way live. But they did. Droste would switch from keyboard to guitar to mandolin, and Rossen switched from keyboards to guitar. But Taylor was the one that stood out to me in his multiple instrumentalist skills. From bass to flute to clarinet and bass clarinet, and another odd instrument that I couldn't name if I ever tried. It just added an eerie ringing sound to several of the songs.

Speaking of the songs, Grizzly Bear played a nice mixture of songs from Veckatimest and 2006's Yellow House, which lent itself to the range of sounds they created on stage. Starting off the show with "Southern Point," it was just the right amount of energy to get people excited. Not only did they sound great, but also there were Mason jar lights set up all along the stage hung from stands, creating a wave of lights to go along with the psychedelic indie rock.

Some of my favorite tunes of the night were "Fine for Now," "Little Brother," and "Lullabye." But what got the crowd going most was "Two Weeks," Grizzly Bear's biggest hit yet. Besides, it's the easiest to sing along to. But the biggest song of the night, and the one that really gave me goosebumps with all the slow buildup, Taylor's constant switching of instruments, and soaring harmonies from Droste and Rossen was "I Live With You." I could see people all around the theater bobbing their heads to the music that filled the extremely tall Moore.

Droste actually said towards the end of the night, "Are you guys getting vertigo up there? I was up there earlier, and it's weird." The second balcony is quite tall, and most of the time requires binoculars, but it sounds just as good because of the acoustics of the theater. From where I was sitting in the box on the main floor, the heaviness of the bass actually made my glasses shudder and eyes blur for a second.

After the "last song," everyone got on their feet to applaud for the encore, except a select few that actually thought it was the end of the show. But a couple minutes of applause later, the foursome walked back out on stage for one last song, "He Hit Me," from the Friend EP. It was a perfect way to end the show, finishing at a little before 11 p.m.

Now all I had to do was wait for my ride to get there. But while I waited, I stood outside the venue for a bit and mingled with the other fans waiting to meet the band. I still have yet to do that, as I have an odd fear of meeting bands. Not sure why, but I really need to get over that.

Maybe next time.

Grizzly Bear: website | myspace

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Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Summer of Fear

Posted: 18 Oct 2009 08:00 AM PDT

His MySpace page reads like that of a scrappy Brooklyn any-kid who makes music for his friends from the unassuming far corner of his childhood bedroom, next to a pinup of Tom Petty and a wide-eyed girl he might be in love with. The self-tweeted "Rambling Man" doesn't have that many "friends," a mere 3,968, is still grateful for small NYC club gigs, and cites both Biggie and Pavement as influences, but his music begs a much bigger bio than his profile suggests. One listen to “Buriedfed,” from his eponymous 2008 debut will destroy you. It's the best of Dylan's rawness, the starkness of Hemingway, and reminds me of the hometown lyrical longing and driving guitar momentum that is so inherently Springsteen. Up until now, I haven't come across a voice that so accurately portrays the hope and fear that is the underbelly of change defining our generation. Like a memoir unfolding in real time, playing parallel to us, Miles is your spot on soundtrack. miles

On Summer of Fear, produced by TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone, and a little help from the boys of , out October 20th on Saddle Creek Records, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson sings us a dark, dark story of the anxiety that accompanies the risk of dreaming in uncertain times. A hazardous balladeer compared to his peers, Robinson swims all the way out, far past the buoys, through scratchy, shaking whispers and blood curdling screams looking for answers to questions most of us are afraid to ask, doing things we know we shouldn't, just to remind himself of the feeling, a lyrical cutter trying to make a mark deep enough that he never forgets.

The Summer of Fear is the story about the summer of 2007, when Robinson, beat up and reckless, mounts the greatest fight of his life tackling the catastrophe of heartbreak, the saltiness of something new, the satisfaction of anger, and the hope of redemption. Robinson say's "Listening to it now…It’s like someone banging on a door really hard, until they start throwing their shoulder into it….then someone on the other side simply opens it and on the next lunge the solicitor goes hurtling across the threshold. It’s well produced, but there’s a lot of frustration and rage on the record. Every song has a point of catharsis.”

“Summer of Fear Part 2″ is easily the most arresting track on the album beginning with a carefree little whistle that you swear you've heard a thousand times, that you know you've hummed before is anchored by a riff as melancholy and infinitely as sad as a great Pumpkins song, Robinson makes a plea for what was, desperate for the memory. "I said knock-knock" a voice in the way back calls, "who's there?" Robinson screams, "You said you'd never forget…you said you'd never forget."

Surrounding lyrics and Robinson's strum is a complex orchestration to the music with hidden whispers, fuzzy guitars, warming choirs, and miscellaneous trinkets of sound, creating an audio scrapbook that will last forever even if the memory can't. While The Summer of Fear may have been his biggest battle to date, I have a feeling Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson has quite a few more fights left in him and I'll be damned if I miss another.

01. Shake a Shot
02. Always an Anchor
03. The Sound
04. Hard Row
05. Trap Door
06. The 100th of March
07. Summer of Fear pt. 1
08. Death by Dust
09. Summer of Fear pt. 2
10. Losing 4 Winners
11. More than a Mess
12. Boat

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson: website | myspace

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Kevin Devine Releases Video for “I Could Be With Anyone”

Posted: 17 Oct 2009 11:56 PM PDT