Category: concert review

Jambinai

sometimes what appears as a blasting piece of music may be perceived as a poor, insufferable hullabaloo, and it is amusing how music can heighten feelings and sensibility. as my sibling looked at me with incomprehensible and fierce eyes, its mouth trembling as it contained an unexpected form of anger and temper, it was kind of hard for me to explain why this (too-short) concert had knocked me down, and to engage the debate of what-is-noise, what-is-music.

jambinai

the subject of the controversy was an instrumental band discovered prior to the Great Escape Festival, this early summer. before heading to the festival, the frog was tortured by an obsessive idea in mind: see Jambinai (잠비나이) in concert. this very band had struck the frog with the monumental song They Keep Silence, which closes their latest album. a thrilling piece of art fusing the tenderness of meditative landscapes and the explosive fury proper to post-rock.

signed to Bella Union, Jambinai released in june A Hermitage, the band’s second album and first for the label, which was recorded in seoul, south korea. their music is transported by Ilwoo Lee (guitar, piri, a korean flute made of bamboo), Bomi Kim (haegum, a fiddle-like string instrument) and Eunyong Sim (geomungo, the korean zither), who mix together standard (post) rock instruments (guitar, bass and drums) with traditional south-korean instruments. when touring overseas, the trio takes the form of a quintet, with Jihoon Ok on bass and Jae Hyuk Choi who takes care of volcanic percussions.

that very night in brighton, their concert was carried away by a common desire to give substance to a (admittedly) loud, tempered sound, but also a fatherly mildness. the concert was also the occasion to discover a band who probably revamp south-korean traditional music, with a delicious, generous apocalyptic touch. but over and above that, the brief thirty minutes unveiled one or two ambient, contemplative songs that were full of poetry and sentimentality. the delicacy of traditional instruments ideally complemented the intensity of the electric guitar and formed a very unusual haze, as For Everything That You Lost or Connection corroborate.

the various shades of post-rock show obviously that cacophony and music can pair with elegance, so my sibling may be right after all. however, Jambinai possess the necessary refinement to compose emotion-charged songs that are positively inspired. fear, anger, hope are sensibly melted, they carry a very distinctive intensity and beauty to their music. recently published by the band, The Mountain, which was filmed at the MMCA (national museum of modern and contemporary art, korea) by the seoul-based artistic agency COMPANY F, evinces the grandeur and fineness of this band full of promise.

A Hermitage is available here. long live noise and the magnificent Jambinai!

 

METZ (cassiopeia, 24/06/15)

loud. this was truly loud, i mean a real jump-up-and-down experience, probably the most head-splitting gig since APTBS‘, where the frog’s ears came closer to the soundwall limit. in fact, this very night was the first time the frog experienced a true punk delirium, not to say that it greatly enjoyed it.

as i arrived at cassiopeia that night, i was kind of late, for my attention had been distracted by some unexpected skate-board show in the neighbourhood. the pond is an amazing place: you pop up to expose your ears to high frequencies and enjoy instead a spectacle offered by rolling experts, which trousers reach their bottoms with difficulty.
so i was late, so i missed the opening band (Heads), but managed to worm my way easily to the crowd and to embrace the stage, comfortably positioned in the exact middle of the space.

three guys hail to the stage, and i am happy as larry as a friendly-face bespectacled guitarist start to strum a few terribly noisy notes. this is Alex Edkins, guitarist and singer of METZ, an amazing noise band from toronto. on his right, the bassist Chris Slorach shows a lightening smile and behind them appears Hayden Menzies on drums.

Photograph by Robby Reis

i let some refreshing beverage sooth my skate-boarding and (forthcoming punk) excitation, and notice that two long-haired-bearded toads in (very) tiny t-shirts take position on my flanks. my mind starts to vagabond, wondering whether these metal-like amphibians are not at the wrong address. but before i realise that it would appropriate to quit swiftly the comforting headland i’m setting on, Negative Space pierces the silence with hooting guitars and the toads –many long-haired ones, my goodness, where do they flock from?– begin a sudden and cheerful pogo, during which the frog’s bag and beer fly in the air.


 
with no surprise, the frog decides hastily to follow the movement and jumps in air to recover the beverage and pay tribute to the thunderous gig introduction. at the time of the bag repossession, the devil-possessed amphibians are already soaked and the frog goes wild with joy, rejoining the quietly-dancing animal bed. this marks the end of the flowery perfumed atmosphere but the very beginning of a crazy and thrilling evening –Negative Space being only a soft, jolting opening.

because if you may dispute the band’s lack of inspiration as far as album titles are concerned, i can tell you that the energy and the decibels spread by each one of their tunes will crush your brain to a pulp.

formed in 2008, METZ released their eponymous début album on Sub Pop in 2012, followed in 2015 by the soberly-named II, both produced by Holy Fuck‘s Mr. Graham Walsh. quickly pigeonholed as a punk rock band, METZ deliver a music which also springs from both the drone and post-hardcore scenes –it is straightforward and doesn’t lose time waffling on. some may argue that it is easy to play punk rock, but in truth, it isn’t elementary to play genuine art-punk noise rock. and this is precisely where Metz excel, at radiating ferocity and time-bomb melodies. both guitars seem to respond to some emergency state, the louder, the better. Slorach’s bass spits filthy drones that perforate your brain and entire body like a devilish electric hand drill, echoed by Edkins’ pernicious guitar.


 
the gig is a perfect exploration of METZ’s plain-spoken style. it is as short and damageable powerful as the forenamed albums. in fact, the shortness of the performance is a bit frustrating. songs are whizzed off, making it demanding to appreciate the show properly. it’s almost impossible to get your breath back. all the same, it is indeed very difficult to resist the impressive Knife in the Water, Wet Blanket or Rats, or any titles of Metz, and i somehow envy the toads who exult openly, letting their exuding bodies crush against each others. METZ’s sovereignty may precisely come from the immediate urge to play.

Negative Space
Knife in the Water
Get Off
Spit You Out
The Swimmer
Wait in Line
Headache
Kicking a Can of Worms
Nervous System
Rats
Wasted
Dirty Shirt
Acetate
Wet Blanket

METZ’s first album perspires the same in-your-face, quintessential sweat of Sub Pop bands. it spews up hysterical tones aiming at crumbling any existing sound limits. raw and deliberately loud, their sound is supported by the bleak and vociferating-contained voice of Alex Edkins, which sometimes vanishes for a while to leave a clear field to the furious but artfully frenzy provided by both the guitars and the demented drums. guitar riffs explode on the assault-like Headache or the quite simply staggering Acetate, which genuinely illustrates Edkins’ promise as II was about to be released:

We are not going to clean up our sound, we are not going to hire a big producer, we are not going to try to write a radio song.

as a matter of fact, METZ don’t produce radio songs, but if they actually did, we could eventually listen to the radio all day. would you still doubt of Metz’ proficiency, we invite you to train your ears with this KEXP session.
please play it loud and abandon the present reading to let your body breath.

The Dodos (west germany, 22/11/13)

getting to know that this gig could have been cancelled is just unthinkable.

previously scheduled at Festsaal Xberg (one of the pond’s favourite venues that was unfortunately reduced to ashes last summer), the cheery toad and the juicy frog found themselves in the very middle of panel buildings à la shanghai, or better said – a poor and cheap imitation of what you could expect from a chinese megalopolis –, as we enter the dank terrace. inside, white dilapidated tiled floor and walls threaten to crumble, open ceilings show an unbelievable entanglement of cables ready to ignite, pitiful lights convey a sumptuous water-closet atmosphere and – cherry on the cake – an appalling and crappy sound spreads in the room. welcome to West Germany, a former doctor’s office and probably the cheapest and the ugliest venue of the pond! a A4 handwritten sheet of paper announces at the front door: “Tonight: The Dodos”.

i feel really ashamed to offer such venue to the fantastic Dodos, especially when Meric told us that indeed, this was a shitty place, but well, we’re happy to be here anyway. because, right, the concert shouldn’t have taken place, so we better express gratitude for this hip, foul-smelling place.

dodos

so, The Dodos from San Francisco, the amazing Meric Long (guitar and singing) and Logan Kroeber (drums, background voice). i already saw them three times in concert, still, i struggle with impatience to introduce them to the cheery toad. my voice is choked with emotion as i explained to my very friend that this new european tour is a special one, mostly due to Chris Reimer’s departure, the third dodo, who died a year ago.

yet, tonight, The Dodos are three.
and this is the incredible Joe Haege (31 Knots, Tu Fawning) that opens the evening, before showing his nose again with The Dodos. on the stage with him, a guitar, a few loops, a drum machine, an overactive raw wildness and his solo project called Vin Blanc/White Wine.


 
a brilliant solo act, from what we are offered to hear tonight. excellent raw guitar riffs and melodies, great furious voice, convincing electro support and most of all, some amazing choreography in the public. his great set is peppered with hilarious jokes and energizing small stories. what a fabulous introductory part to the Dodos, my goodness!

dodos3

as The Dodos prepare the stage, i start boiling with happiness because i know what’s about to come. each Dodos’ concert is a fantastic present, giving birth to beautiful guitar melodies, well-tempered melancholic texts, incredible drum breaks and funny jokes – mostly due to Logan. Logan, precisely, isn’t to be found as Meric and Joe are about to start the concert. as Meric begs him (and us to encourage him) to come to the stage, it takes him quite a while to appear, without batting an eyelid and showing a relaxed and teasing smile.

thedodos_carrier

Confidence, the first single of Carrier opens the dancing and gives the pitch. the Dodos’ new album is the first released on Polyvinyl Records (bye bye Witchita!). along with the incredible Fables, Black Night, the excellent Trades & Tariffs, the evening gives an interesting insight in both Dodos’ previous and last albums. Meric plays almost entirely electric, Logan is still the absolute master of drums ruptures and cheerful booms and bangs. Joe sparkles while playing guitar and singing, this is marvellous.

yet, Stranger, Substance and Destroyer, all from Carrier, show obvious signs of fragile melancholy and subdued sadness, nevertheless providing some vivid energy. there’s no doubt that Chris Reimer’s soul impregnated this last album. despite the punchy nature of many songs, the set is covered by some gentle, but magnificent, sorrow. Logan’s drums are just tremendous, as usual, and the new songs testify also more “tenderness” in the compositions, even if exhilarating cymbal crashes explode regularly.

through the same deadpan sense of humour and hilarious mimics, Logan, together with Joe Haege, conveys to the stage some great energy and happiness. between two songs, he tells us with a rascal but sincere smile that “Without Berlin, this would not be a European Tour”.
showing an everlasting complicity with both Meric and Logan, Joe Haege is an outstanding tour guitarist and singer. his voice accompanies Meric’s wonderfully and his presence completes greatly the Dodo’s performance.

this concert was again a thrilling and fantastic moment. would this gig review still make you think that the Dodos are jokers, have a look at the following KEXP’s session and bless again the seattle radio for offering us such appreciable jam sessions. and bless the Dodos.

Saffronkeira + Mario Massa (waldo, 09/10/13)

saffronkeira-mario-massa-cause-and-effect

it may be simplistic to say that Denovali’s artwork and covers motivated me to discover its catalogue, but they were indeed the very reason why the frog got hooked on this music label. pure and delicate guiding lines, indisputable artistic sensitivity, shadowed and blurred impressions – perfect components of a well-executed melancholy inspired by the need to express a unique passion for sound experiments.

the music of Saffronkeira is a perfect example of Denovali‘s roster which is a temple for music venturing off the beaten track. writing on experimental music is the hardest job ever, but well, let’s give it a try.

the Waldo is a very surprising venue, a long and narrow room in the shape of a train corridor (without track). the bar occupies quite a large area, a few tables and chairs gain ground on the available space. there’s no proper stage and the piano is installed in the middle of the room, not very far from the entry door. this is the main stage for Carlos Cipa who belongs also to the Denovali’s family.
a mixing desk, a laptop, a music stand and a trumpet are in the vicinity of the imposing instrument and immediately draw my attention because they are Saffronkeira and Mario Massa’s instruments.

Saffronkeira is the ambient project of musician Eugenio Caria. possibly inspired by his native sardinia, he produces island sounds and waves which form a luxurious (persian) rug of textures and mysterious atmospheres. the tormented darkness (and insidious madness) which spreads from his first albums A New Life and Tourette are purely magnificent, especially with a headphone. it wraps you in a both warm and emotionally-charged cocoon made of feverish sound layers. needless to say that one has to be mentally sane to plunge in this pitch-black sea.


 
in the new concept album Cause and Effect, Saffronkeira joined together with Mario Massa, a sardinian trumpet player whose sounds wander along jazz landscapes. as they prepare themselves for the concert, i prepare the frog who is with me to this sonic experience, stressing the necessity to let oneself go.


 
the bleak lapping sounds of Saffronkeira slowly envelop the venue. layers of background sounds generate a comfortable glowing tapestry on which Mario Massa lay, little by little, mesmerising, ghostly trumpet melodies. this fantastic association of squeaking and percussing sounds with muffling and celestial notes transport us into some kind of unknown and warm space. whereas all tracks performed tonight sound almost improvised, they follow the same complex line and create an harmonic ensemble that never gets lost in the maze of boredom. they take us quite far away, calling for nature and barren environments, almost inviting us to some kind of rebirth.

waking up from such beautiful reverie is pretty unpleasant and it’s hard to come back to urban territories. Mario Massa and Saffronkeira gave a great introduction to Carlos Cipa‘s classical piano compositions, but the frog already dreams of a unique evening with them. in a smaller and homelike venue, where anyone could abandon him or herself to a sumptuous aerial well of harmonics.

APTBS (lido, 23/09/13)

alongside an overabondance of sumptuous records, LPs and EPs, ear plugs are to be found on the merchandising table.
a mischievous smile appears on the frog face expressing an evident eagerness. the frog is even a bit afraid to loose an ear in this guitar battle.

yet the show opens with an indie and shoegaze band from the pond, called Suns of Thyme. the music of the four spick-and-span lads isn’t properly uninteresting, but the affected voice of Tobias Feltes (vocals, guitar) unfortunately spoils the frog’s enthusiasm. you know i hate criticizing things this way, but, if the voice displeases you, you have no chance to stuck to the music, would this latter sound promising.

aptbs

so the wait is pretty unbearable (but will be highly rewarded) – until Oliver Ackermann (guitar, vocals) arrives. his gentle smile and wave don’t give any evidence of what is about to happen. Robi Gonzalez (drums) wears a splendid red bacardi-rhum-coca-cola t-shirt, which makes me feel like a gullible fool, happy to be in the middle of a tiny crowd made of many tattooed toads and weirdos. as Dion Lunadon (bass) appears like a rocket on the stage, he freezes the audience with his slightly threatening stare. observing his bass and Ackermann’s guitars, i naïvely wonder why there are so badly damaged and ponder how i got to know the band.

A Place to Bury Strangers, oh my, what a fantastic name.

aplacetoburystrangerslido

guitars start hooting, and Ackermann’s emotionless voice opens a first ditty. my hands go to my ears straight away, checking out their perfect airtightness. i’m surprised to find them comfortably inserted and realise that this very evening will probably blow my mind. lush guitar sounds spread in the room and caught me up in a spiral of hesitations and questionings. it’s damn hard to understand how such a guitar sound can gush forth. um, Oliver Ackermann is also the founder of an effects pedal company in Brooklyn (who sells hand-wired pedals to NIИ among others!), but the sound power is definitely puzzling. it takes me a little while before i recover from this audio thud.

there’s no sign of kindness, warmth nor hope in APTBS’s thunderous music. it is as noisy as a rocket lift-off and ferocious as a train crash. this distorted, dirty (exquisite) wall of sound is impressive and goes beyond every thing i’ve seen until today. despite their music shows some incursions of shoegaze, you can’t escape it.

the three of them are like spellbound. Dion Lunadon slices through the stalls, holding his bass like a devil and twirling among us without missing a single note. when he decides to go back to the stage, he simply throws his bass at Robi Gonzalez’s feet. my goodness, this is pure madness.

guitars fly here and there, both Ackermann and Lunadon apparently enjoy smashing them down, whereas an over excited toad jumps regularly on the stage to demonstrate some mysterious hysteria. the crowd pogoes gently with a restrained violence, this bizarre and sticky atmosphere is however exhilarating.

aptbs_guitar

yet, there comes a time when some poetry arises from the stage. Ackermann turns off the stage lights one by one and switches on a projector, from which appears a ballet dancer. her shadow reflects on the walls, on the ceiling and i wonder whether he wants to show us the path to the underworld or magnify an urgent need for slender beauty. the venue is plunged in darkness and she dances, dances, repeating the same sharp movement.

but no one should believe that the beast settled down. in a precise hastened gesture, the dancer vanishes and Oliver Ackermann falls on the floor to rub gently and patiently some stupid white light on his guitar cords, a malicious ray of light which burns our eyes. a devilish groan bursts suddenly from the guitar to finish us off.

when the light comes back finally, everyone appear dazed and confused, as if the tempest suddenly quietened down but was about to return.

if you don’t understand why, give it a try now.

Savages

sometimes, music slaps you in the face with a certain kind of exhilarating rage that knocks you out without warning. the emotion is so intensely violent that it’s almost impossible to put words on it.

when the first notes of Savages‘ music pierced the frog’s ears at last Berlin Festival, its brain and body responded with an excitation level close to the upper level of the Richter scale.

savages

the stage introduces four ladies dressed in black in the company of a basic rock set comprising an electric guitar (Gemma Thompson), a bass (Ayse Hassan) and drums (Fay Milton). and right at the front, Jehnny Beth (vocals) paces the stage up and down, addresses the audience straight in the eye – dispensing her words under the form of a manifesto with the same artefacts a priest would use in his sunday sermon. an intensity, earnestness and intelligence emanate from the lyrics which are, alas, almost impossible to apprehend due to the second-class sound of the Pitchfork stage. the way Jehnny Beth yelps and articulates shows clearly she has a message to deliver, as the band’s website gives it to understand a bit later:

SAVAGES’ INTENTION IS TO CREATE A SOUND, INDESTRUCTIBLE, MUSICALLY SOLID, WRITTEN FOR THE STAGE AND DESIGNED WITH ENOUGH NUANCES TO PROVIDE A WIDE RANGE OF EMOTIONS. SAVAGES ARE A SELF-AFFIRMING VOICE TO HELP EXPERIENCE OUR GIRLFRIENDS DIFFERENTLY, OUR HUSBANDS, OUR JOBS, OUR EROTIC LIFE, AND THE PLACE MUSIC OCCUPIES INTO OUR LIVES. SAVAGES’ SONGS AIM TO REMIND US THAT HUMAN BEINGS HAVEN’T EVOLVED SO MUCH, THAT MUSIC CAN STILL BE STRAIGHT TO THE POINT, EFFICIENT AND EXCITING.

meaningful and critical, Savages’ lyrics make Jehnny Beth’s (impressive) presence impossible to miss. but those very words couldn’t show their worth without the stunning support of the three other band’s members. any anurans able to enjoy post-punk will for sure experience a brisk addiction to Gemma Thompson’s distorted guitar, which conveys some frantic fury and striking brutality. whereas Jassan’s bass and Milton’s drums prepare a peerless ground for most of the feverish pieces, Thompson’s guitar discharges rage-smouldering sounds along with , which answer perfectly, sublimate and sometimes overtake, Beth’s interpretation. but this isn’t a simple rage demonstration, this is a proper cantilever providing Savages with blooming jolts and burning heartbeats.


Savages’ music doesn’t show off, it’s raw and gut-wrenching. it’s hard to believe that the band has just released their very first album Silence Yourself this year. they appear (and mean) to be an accomplished and self-confident band. during the 1-hour gig, they hardly have time to take a gulp of air, even though Beth addresses the audience once again before the final song, showing suddenly a less serious and dramatic face. fantastic, this is just fantastic.

this first gig was a tremendous experience, and i just wish you the very same killing escapade very soon. give it a try right now, with this (again) great KEXP session.

Suuns (comet club, 05/05/13)

to give new impetus to my last (dated) gig review which ended with “music will save us for sure”, i’d like to tell you about an album that brings to an end with a track called Music Won’t Save You. the time has come to introduce a band that deserves to have the place of honour.

Suuns_berlatsky

tonight the dancing toad and the juicy frog hit the road again together for a concert at Comet Club. this is an introducing gig, because none of us know Suuns very well (pronounced soons), a part from their first (brilliant) 2010 album Zeroes QC which plays constantly in the pond. Montreal’s band tours currently europe to promote Images Du Futur, a second album released at the beginning of 2013 by Secretly Canadian.

suuns    suuns_imagesdufutur

the quartet features guitarist/vocalist Ben Shemie, drummer Liam O’Neill, keyboardist Max Henry and guitarist/bassist Joe Yarmush. it really puzzled me, when i got to know that three of them actually studied at the same jazz school, because Suuns’ music is actually unclassifiable and, ok, i’m not a music expert, but not especially jazzy. in the interview Suuns gave to McGill News, Max Henry gave this enlightening answer to the journalist who asked him about possible connection between Suuns and his jazz studies:

“The building blocks only do you a service when they eventually disappear,” he says of his musical education. “The classical world might be square building blocks, and the jazz world might be rectangular building blocks, but the shapes that we’re getting at aren’t pixelated, they’re not built out of squares or rectangles. They’re continuous.”

needless to say that the toad and i are kind of impatient to see them entering the stage, warmed-up by excellent long-lasting arab melodies which spread in the venue after the disappointing, dull, introduction by Lucretia Dalt.
the atmosphere conveys an electric agitation when the band finally shows up. some tortured, bleak vibes arise from the stage straight after.
Henry’s keyboarding notes strengthened by heady beats give a short introduction to Ben Shemie’s murky, faint, singing as Music Won’t Save You commences. what a very delicate, thickening appetizer reinforced by bewitching guitars. oh boy, this is going to be a pleasantly loud evening.

and it is indeed.
the concert is a rich mixture of both albums with (if i’m not wrong) Armed For Peace, 2020 (oh my, Yarmush’s incredible guitar impersonating Doppler effects), Pie IX, Eddie’s DreamPowers of Ten, Up Past the Nursery and Gaze among others. Suuns’ music is both complex and magnetic, with looping stacks of frenetic guitars, fantastic unconventional keyboard sounds, frantic drums and rhythms. not to mention a choking voice that gives the impression to restrain some terrible angst.

whereas my body is carried away by the post-rock drone of certain songs, my attention mostly focuses on Shemie’s half-mutter voice – a mix of insidious rage and despair. the delightful analogy with rock/punk on Armed For Peace or Gaze, as Henry abandons his keyboard for a guitar, helps me to free myself from this fascinating grip of anger tinged with gentleness.


it’s difficult (and it’s appropriate not) to box up Suuns into a music category or even to give a specific description of their music. because the foreboding Zeroes QC tends to venture into wild indie rock and shoegaze, whereas Images Du Futur flirts more with cold electro and dark dubstep and krautrock. the second album is indeed more risky, experimental, maybe more demanding and hopeless too, but damn effective.
during the concert, Liam O’Neill’s positive energy contrasts with the serious interpretation of the rest of the band. a great concentration and perfectionism are palpable, and Shemie’s smile at some point breaks the (however delightful) surrounding tenseness. i’ve never experienced such an alluring tension before.

when it’s (alas) time to come back to earth, it’s not easy to let the band go. the toad looks at me kindly, conscious that, as usual, i’ll need a few minutes to regain consciousness. as we ride back home, i’m not really surprised when the toad tells me that his favourite songs are the “rocky” ones. i also have a marked preference for Zeroes QC, although the menacing side of Images Du Futur is very exciting.
especially if music won’t save us.


but for some reasons, Suuns’ music may convince us otherwise.

pg.lost (cassiopeia, 29/03/13)

what a bemusing evening.
confusion was at its most in front of the stage that night.

i had never noticed such dominating rhodes presence in their compositions before.
i thought there were 4 of them, and not 5.
i had never detected such sadness and darkness in their music.
where was the goddam freshness i had felt while discovering their music a few months ago?

my stylish frog seems to be amused to see me in that state of mind.
as the band leaves the stage after only a forty-minutes-or-so set, i try to swallow down my disappointment as we go for another beer on the first floor. despite the confusion, i’m kind of happy to see that the stylish frog is glad to be introduced to post rock.
how funny she is when she answers to my do-you-enjoy-it-question with “very much, but now i’m deaf”.

we chat, we chat, we chat, until i notice the place is getting empty and offer, half hopeful and anxious, to go back to the stage.
this time the room is full, lovely packed. guitars are already to be heard, as we hastily head to the front of the stage. my mind bolts just like a lunatic horse as i start counting one, two, three, four. drums, two guitars and one bass roar with elegance and gentleness.

whereas the guitar in sight gives me some well-known fever, i decide to switch my mobile on to check online the information i need to calm down. for the first time of my life i’m about to cherish this piece of apparatus which connects me to the virtual world in less than two minutes. feverish and happy as Larry i give my frog a cheerful and triumphant wave.

THIS IS pg.lost!

pglost_copyrightDaneArtPettersson

Mattias Bhatt (guitar) is stroking his guitar gently, this very fresh-like guitar in pg.lost’s music that drives me nut. Martin Hjertstedt shows a very cheerful face on drums, while Kristian Karlsson revs up his bass and Gustav Almber (guitar) fiddles with the numerous pedals at his feet.

it so good to be with them tonight because this young post rock band has the knack of matching wistful melodies with powerful explosions, standing aloof from despair and almost exuding some kind of hope and possible happiness.
my goodness, this is good. powerful, beautiful, noisy and joyful.

pg.lost-Key

pg.lost, or page lost, leapt into the post-rock breach in 2004 from Norrköping in Sweden and never stopped since then. frustrated spoilsports may stress that their last album, Key, isn’t properly new or original, but again, when music is good, why should we care about originality?

their first EP released in 2007, Yes I am, isn’t a proper example of darkness, as you can find it in post rock music. melancholy hasn’t such a great resonance and you may even find Kardusen joyful and exhilarating. these specific characteristics make me bringing them together with Codes in the Clouds and avoiding the easy-going comparison with Mogwai, GY!BE or Mono.

pglost_bandcamp

of course, some of their songs are dark-aggressive, just consider for instance the raging bass, flirting with math rock, on the excellent Vultures, taken from Key (click on the above cover to stream the album). but the singing of Kristian Karlsson and the joyful melody of Mattias Bhatt’s guitar convey some eager joy to the track.
a song like the prodigious Terrain offer us quick-tempered guitars ending in an explosive climax of saturated screeching sirens which will burn your ears and sooth your heart.

 

speaking of heart, the tender innocence of Heart of hearts‘ overture tears to pieces with loud and angry guitars which, in turn, open the way to a heady romance hesitating between hope and distress. this is beautiful and as powerful as breaking the sound barrier.
this is the very essence of post rock, but with pg.lost, the sky is in the end bright, just like the opening of Spirits Stampede which turns into a gentle melody full of aerial emotions.

their set is absolutely perfect, refreshing and filled with enthusiast. i feel drunk as the band leaves the stage, as if fresh air had cleaned out my brain, as if a spotless instant were about to start, as if the tormented days were gone.
and the contentment is double at seeing my stylish frog’s happiness.

what a brilliant shoegazing evening. starting with Joy Wants Eternity as appetizer (!) and ending satisfied with pg.lost and some table football.
oh god, i love post rock.
music will save us for sure.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (09/12/12)

my left ear is paralysed. a soft cotton cushion chokes lively signs of the outside word. i squeeze among toads in a very strange state of mind. i just don’t know whether i’m ok or not.
and i see him jumping over the merchandising table. him again, chasing our eyes to get an impression, a smile, a hurrah, or whatever.

mr. Jon Spencer stands right in front of me and i’m just not responding anymore. or more exactly, i feel like going outside naked and throwing myself into a mountain of snow. yeah, that’s an idea.

if the evening started in smooth mode for the frog, i’m now ready for a new pogo. spending an hour and half with a NYC legend is just as exhilarating as buying a gig ticket for my favourite toad. i’ve actually just received some rock’n’roll slap in the face, as if rock & roll had never existed before.

entering Festsaal Kreuzberg again is like a reminiscence of the past. i feel out of order tonight, insignificant, void.
i’m however slightly amused as The Mentalettes enter the stage. three girls, funny ones, wearing glamouring gold sequined very short shorts (there’s no typo in the ‘short’ repetition). Elsa Edlund, the swedish blond, Chilbi Pippi Llo, the spanish tattooed brunette, and Teresia Elvira, the very berliner, are perfect in their role of warm-up trio. they’re supported by four busy bees sweating in dark polo-neck sweaters, playing drums, guitar, keyboards and bass.

the_mentalettes

their pure and traditional rockabilly repertoire comprising three wriggling girls singing together is a dynamic and swinging introduction. nevertheless, after of few songs, i get kind of bored and my attention focuses on Chilbi Pippi Llo and her hilarious interpretation. she has a very expressive face with giant opened eyes, that mimic either surprise, chaos, anger, love, catastrophe, well, a face perfectly adapted to each situation and each song. but alas, thirty minutes or so of rockabilly make me impatient. i’m sorry, i’m not a rockabilly frog, but a rock one – i therefore go back to the bar on the last song, get another of my favourite beer and head hastily to the front of the stage as the crowd becomes thicker.

it doesn’t take long before Judah Bauer shows his nose. and his guitar.
i’m a bit surprised to recognize him for i have never ever seen JSBX, either on stage or on video.
but let’s put it simple: i’m not going to forget the very moment when Jon Spencer enters the room.
dressed in a gorgeous skinny and glitter trouser, a dark flower shirt and a very elegant waistcoat, some kind of fever seizes me by surprise. god, he’s incredibly sexy, ok, but you can’t imagine how his sexiness turns into animality as he grasps his guitar and starts playing pure enraged rock’n’roll. he doesn’t try to allure or charm the audience (mostly composed of toads), there’s no stage make-up, there’s no possible comparison with Jack White, who is also a great rock reference. no gentleman’s manners, no polite hello, Jon Spencer’s rock is rough and hot-tempered. wow, it’s just like getting a new haircut with a lawn mower.

anyway, despite i’m not an expert (yet) of JSBX, even if i know pretty well Acme, Orange and Damage, most of the tracks they play sound new to me. well, at least a few songs of Meat & Bones, JSBX’s excellent last album, are pretty familiar indeed.
a damn good rock’n’roll with blues notes, emphasized by the amazing singing of Jon Spencer: half shouting, third talking, third singing. very often you hear him yelling Bluessss Explosion. right, nevermind i don’t know the songs, that’s just so good, go on and sing it again.
this crazy rock concert makes me sweat and dance a lot. and enjoy (a lot) JSBX’s music, wow.

Danger
2 Kindsa Love
High Gear
Black Thoughts
Get Your Pants Off
Brenda
No Reservations
Ice Cream Killer
Black Mold
Bag of Bones
She’s On It – Jack The Ripper
Strange Baby
Soul Typecast
Feeling of Love
Sweat
Shirt Jac
Bellbottoms (Intro)
Bottle Baby
Gadzooks!
Tell Me That You Love Me
Boot Cut
Unclear

Encore:
Very Rare
Naked
Bear Trap
Blues X Man
Fuck Shit Up
Bellbottoms (Original Long Ending)
Attack

whereas Russel Simins eventually wears out his drums on Unclear,
russelsimmins_toniomodio.com

Jon Spencer makes the decision to abandon his guitar and kill our hears with his themerin. god, this is really loud, most of the toads and frogs around me plug their ears. i wonder whether my left ear will resist this sound despite my earplugs.
there’s no doubt, the end is close.

no please, not yet. ok, it’s ear-splitting, ok i already flew twice on the stage due to my pogo fellows, but it’s so good, let’s go for it, one more time.
and of course, the excellent Judah Bauer grants us a mischievous look as he seizes his guitar again. Simins’ drums are back in order, and Jon Spencer seems to be reinvigorated, yeahhh, let’s go for a new ride!!

Jon Spencer’s sweat pours once again on our faces, his devilish guitar touches us gently once more, we dance confusedly and wildly, this is pure joyfulness.

JonSpencerBluesXpromoMichaelLavine11_1

so, i see him jumping over the merchandising table. him again.
i hesitate as his eyes meet mines, but i’m just on the blink and can’t do or say anything.
i leave The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion without a regret and enjoy the muted atmosphere around me.
on the way back home, i’m over excited and feel suddenly the need to build a snowman in the snowy night.
for some strange reason, i kindly end up in my bed and start humming a song by Them Crooked Vultures.
my left ear is just stuffed but i don’t care. this is rock’n’roll.

Grizzly Bear (31/10/12) + Bon Iver (05/11/12)

i can’t remember when indie folk music came to me as an evidence, but do remember the first time i listened to Fleet Foxes. the only thing that actually occurred to me was, ouch, why do they have to sing all together?!

i suppose music is sometimes a patience exercise, for the same reasons as literature. one should never give up, there might be a time when you eventually dive into a book with passion, seizing each words eagerly, apprehending the very substance of the author’s intentions, enjoying the musicality of the writing. getting into a book at the relevant moment isn’t an easy thing. and music is all the same.

so, folk music. well, i guess the frog converted to folk music through a band that isn’t the best genuine representative of the folk era.
ladies and gentlemen, open up your heart and your soul to Grizzly Bear. i admit it may be a nonsense to stick the folk tag onto Grizzly Bear’s back, folk rock would actually be more appropriate. but despite the fact the grizzlies have no beards, they have been gifted by some good fairy with incredible voices. and 2012 has been blessed by one of the greatest albums of the planet.
Grizzly-Bear-Shields
Shields combines with harmony and perfection gentle and studied melodies, often provided by Daniel Rossen. piano travelling tunes, complex and demanding bass lines, jazzy jolts, and the most delicate voices that could soften the hardest crocodile reluctant to choirs.
especially when Edward Droste’s voice starts singing a melody, closely followed by Daniel Rossen, Chris Taylor and Christopher Bear. their voices in unison are incredibly beautiful and soothing. they pave the route to choral compositions in the most magnificent way possible. but reducing Grizzly Bear’s music to its “simple” vocal part would nevertheless be a mistake, or at least an approximation. because the construction of most of their songs gives evidence of a taste for magical and fairy atmospheres, along with ideal style association (when a folk melody taints with jazzy colours through Chris Taylor’s remarkable saxophone, flute and clarinet notes). whereas Daniel Rossen remains to my eyes the investigator of most of the melodies (even if Grizzly Bear origins Ed Droste’s solo project), Chris Taylor takes care of strengthening them with his outstanding bass or electric guitars compositions.

GrizzlyBear

from left to right: christopher bear, ed droste, daniel rossen and chris taylor.

how puzzled and delighted we are – the dancing toad, the gig frog and i – at discovering the making-of of Grizzly Bear’s songs during their concert on that very night (at Astra).

Speak in Rounds
Adelma
Sleeping Ute
Cheerleader
Lullabye
Yet Again
Shift
A Simple Answer
Gun-Shy
Ready, Able
I Live With You
Foreground
While You Wait For The Others
What’s Wrong
Two Weeks
Half Gate
Sun In Your Eyes

Encore:
Knife
On A Neck, On A Spit
All We Ask

as we discussed it together afterwards, this was a special experience. as if we were (re)discovering details we hadn’t noticed while listening to Shields.
Chris Taylor jumps from an instrument to another, and is the one responsible for the gooseflesh you may experience when his voice rejoices the others. OMG, this is what we can call pure magnificence. needless to say that the grizzlies are very friendly and amusing, despite some perceptible shyness. what a breathtaking moment. sometimes, the choir may even turn into a tiny opera, how wondrous. i have no idea how one would feel entering paradise, but, for sure, we’re already in heaven.

on this tour, Grizzly Bear have the excellent idea to be supported by Villagers. the young irish band offers a brilliant introduction to the bears, revealing moving texts and delicate melodies. the voice of Conor O’Brien fills us with warm and intense vibrations. this is just marvellous.

it seems that the dancing toad and the juicy frog initiated a cycle of incredible concerts since their first gig together.

a few days after the Grizzly Bear, we have the chance to share an astounding and fantastic instant of overwhelming warmth and intense pleasure. with an exceptional folk musician who started his career, dressing wounds isolated in a winter cabin in Wisconsin. For Emma, Forever Ago, was the first poignant split-up album of Bon Iver, fronted by Justin Vernon.
if recent news announced the possible end of the band, we are tonight more than happy and lucky to spend a little time with them.

setlist_boniver

i’m very excited to recognize the first notes of Perth. same beginning as at the Helsinki’s Flow Festival this summer. great great introduction. to the very difference that the toad chose (as usual) a perfect panorama location where we have a clear and open view on the stage. i have to confess that if I flew to Flow only to attend the Bon Iver’s concert, i haven’t seen anything of it, nothing at all, not even Justin Vernon himself. but it actually didn’t matter to me, it was just like imagining yourself blind, savouring the most exquisite music.

back to the Arena, i’m a little bit anxious before the beginning of the concert, because i dearly hope the toad will go through the same strong and deep feelings as i did in summer. Bon Iver is a synonym for compelling emotions. the perfect combination of depression, sadness and beauty. not only because the lyrics make sense and are truly meaningful, but also because the music compositions and arrangements are more than brilliant, duplicating and looping piano and guitar notes, echoing superimposed voices, saucing songs with heady and feverish tunes, god it’s so good to be here again. your entire body vibrates and trembles, as if you were in love or happy and sad at the same time. 100% pure emotions and splendour guaranteed.

if you don’t believe me, take 20 minutes of your time to enjoy this:

the concert at the Arena is just perfect. emotions are intense and palpable, desperation is as its most, we’re floating in a paragon of dark heavenliness and love. Justin Vernon’s voice, supported by Sean Carey (drums, piano) and Michael Noyce (guitar, violin) among others, takes sometimes dangerous routes to piercing and penetrating tunes that will make you go deeply into his despair. you’re suddenly part of it and it’s damn good.

the concert is a succession of climaxes, this is amazing. Calgary, Skinny Love, Creature Fear, Holocene and The (almost closing) Wolves to mention only a few examples.

i just don’t know whether this is pure folk (rock) music, and i’m not really sure this is that important. because that kind of music is both moving and delicate, and it’s good to be able to enjoy bands, such as Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, Midlake.
this very music shows you the road to some promised land where you will, for sure, let yourself go and run into grace.