Thursday, February 19, 2009

On Encores, M. Ward and a Top Five

Two music posts in one day, you lucky dogs!

I pose a question to you the reader; when was the last time you went to a show (that was not a festival) and an encore did not occur? In my brief concert career I have never not witnessed an encore. It is just a forgone conclusion that barring a disaster of epic proportions that there will be an encore. Nothing short of the lead singer dropping dead is going to stop it. It has gotten to the point where the actual encore is not really an encore, it's just the second act of the overall show, if the crowd kept cheering after the house lights went up and then the band came back. That would be a real encore.

Anyway let's not dwell on negative thougths...onward to the show!

A couple thoughts:

- M. Ward is sneaky good on guitar. His albums do him no justice, you can not see the passion he puts into playing nor is the guitar as prominent on the album as it is at the show. His performance was by far the best I have seen on guitar out of any show I have seen. Having said that Katy pointed out that I may just not know what it means to be good on guitar. This is true, I don't and between M. Ward and Jack White, White is considered by most everyone to be the better guitarist and that is probably so, but what I witnessed was a far superior performance.

- The Somerville Theatre was a great venue to see a concert at. It was small enough that anywhere in the auditorium would have felt like an intimate setting. That and they had four Harpoon drafts on tap for $4 each!

I characterized it as a mini version of the Orpheum, too which Katy said "so it's a small version of very old theatre". Which I guess is true, but what I meant was it was a kind of unkempt theatre that is more geared towards affordable younger generation shows rather than The Wang, The Colonial and the like which are geared towards Broadway shows and ballet performances. And if that place serves beer during movies then it is the best place on earth.

It was a great show, it really was, and it got me thinking what is my Top 5 shows I have seen. Granted I haven't seen too many shows yet (13) but there is a clear distinction between my Top 5 and the rest. After I thought about it I came to the conclusion that there are two separate types of shows making up the top five which led me to break them down into two groups "The Unknown Show" and "The Show You Thought You Knew"

Top 5 Concerts (By type and in no real order)

Tier 1 - The Unknown Show

The premise, which I will elaborate on, of this tier is that your expectations going into the show were pretty much non-existent but you walked out in a daze of sorts.

M Ward - The Somerville Theatre

I first knew this show was going to be a good one when the opener closed with a great rendition of this song:

After they finished Katy mentioned that this is probably the only Beatles song I have ever heard live, and as big of a Beatles fan that I am that is slightly amazing.

Anyway going into this show I didn't expect much, to be honest I was kind of a little nervous that it was going to take away from my Spanish test today (which I aced!) and was only looking forward to a couple songs.

The result was anything but that, I completely forgot about Spanish, I got really into it; moving from side to side and playing the drums on the seat in front of me and if you know me that's not me. But the biggest thing is that I was left wanting more. Katy pointed this out when we were leaving the show and I think it correlates to the way I feel about really good books, you lose yourself in the show (not the hippy, I had an out of body experience moment, lose yourself but the I forgot what time it was lose yourself) like in a good book you forget the page numbers and when it ends it leave you thinking.

All in all there were a lot of unknown factors coming into the show that really ended up being great and not something that you could get from an album; M. Ward's guitar skills are more prominent on stage than in the studio, his band fits him, the band feeds off each others enthusiasm, they are not just playing the album onstage and the music lends itself to a good performance.

Those factors boil down to an amazing, and unfathomable to myself beforehand, experience.

Jamie Lidell I - The Paradise

Much like M. Ward I went into this show with little to know expectations and nothing but a overview of the artist and his work as a whole. I walked away from that show with not only a Jim T-Shirt that to this day makes people think my name is Jim but also with my first great concert experience.

Having listened to Jamie Lidell a few times going into the show I thought it would be a decent rock/pop show. What I got was a certified crazy man on stage with a band that consisted of a porn star complete with mustache, a rocket man complete with onsey zipup and Will Ferrell's character from old school. And they were all high, like really high.

Lidell was nothing like his album, he sang harder, louder and made all his songs longer. To top it off for the encore he came out with a TV set with spinning antennae on his head.

It was above and beyond anything I could imagine.

Tier 2 - The Show You Thought You Knew

These shows are best characterized as shows that I could sing along with every single word, and still I got more than I came for.

Jamie Lidell II - The Paradise
If drugged up, porn starring oafs with TV sets weren't enough the second show added bagpipes, a middle-aged Keith Richards looking guy, being the last show, a crazy little black woman who threw instruments around the set as the opener, and a Mr. Lidell out in the crowd.

Nine Inch Nails - DCU Center
Nothing could have made this show better in my mind going into it, I was prepared for an amazing mind blowing show. Well I was wrong, the lighting and visual presentation was more intense and technologically advanced than I thought possible. That and the guy sitting next to me gave his seat up for Katy (who had because the Egypt debacle and Trent's voice had to sell her ticket only to be able to go later with a lesser ticket) and I was introduced to the glory that is Peter Murphy singing Reptile:

Vampire Weekend - The Orpheum
I have been enjoying Vampire Weekend for over a year now and for the majority of said year not many things would have made me as happy as seeing Vampire Weekend live, nothing could make the experience more enjoyable then just being there. Oh contrare monfrare! Having a bunch of drunk kids who thought they were seeing a bunch of Vampires performing sitting in front of you makes it more enjoyable.

Next show will be Of Montreal at the Paradise in April, that show should be real interesting.


  1. The only show I've seen without an encore performance was Bob Schneider. I've seen him live probably 5 times and one of those times he was kind of a dick on stage and then didn't give an encore.

    Were people standing for M. Ward? I've been to the Somerville Theater once before to see Joanna Newsom and liked it. Unfortunately I was not of legal age to buy beer at the time.

  2. No one was standing for M Ward, which makes sense for some songs. He opened with two slow songs and interlaced a few slow ones here and there. So one can understand why the momentum to stand never built up properly.