Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Should Have Taken the Spread

GL and I took a few hours out of our gluttonous Sunday of Taco Bell and Guitar Hero III to check out a band... I don’t know if you’ve heard of them. They like Nickelodeon. They’re called The XYZ Affair. We’ve mentioned them once or thrice before.

Rocking the night in front of a crowd of... well, what are numbers anyway? Let’s not quantify the night. It’s all about qualification here at TRS.

Recounting a conversation with Bones (bass) that night, I’m surprised the Complement (van) actually survived the trip to DC (via Philly). Next time you see him, ask how the drive down was.

The set list (pictured) confused me, and not because of the defecation. Maybe it was the 40, or the Sparks, or the PBRs (I swear I wasn’t drunk... it was a Sunday night for crying out loud), but I don't remember XYZ playing "A Little Lye" or “Good To Know But Hard To Tell” (which I didn’t even know was a song; they have an EP of the same name) on Sunday night. The encore, “Hello Hello Hello”, was also not played, but it was getting late. Quite late. On a school night.

The new stuff sounds good. XYZ pulled out the older one of the two, “Trial”, at Dcist’s last Unbuckled show. The newest song, “Sarah”, is fantastic. (By the way, I don’t know the real titles of the new stuff. I’m just going off of the set list. Yep, mailing it in.)

All in all, a good show, as expected. The sound was the best I’ve heard in the 5 shows attended. It was also nice to see a fan (besides the Rockists and friends) singing along to all of their songs.

Spoon @ 9:30 Club

Two of three Rockists ventured to the 9:30 Club to catch Spoon's scheduled-cancelled-tentatively rescheduled-then-officially rescheduled set on Tuesday. We braved the insanity that was trying to simply hang on to previously legitimately purchased tickets. I had predicted it would be a total cluster-you-know-what, and it wasn't. It was actually not even sold out. Quite roomy inside, but enough of a crowd to feel full and substantial.

Perhaps because of the absurd ticketing procedures, Spoon maybe figured that only folks who really wanted to see the band would be there. So they ran through a chronologically-oriented set that began with "If You Say So" from Soft Effects and the short, spastic "Utilitarian" from my favorite, the short, spastic A Series of Sneaks. They ran through big chunks of Girls Can Tell, hitting the biggies ("Anything You Want", "Fitted Shirt", "Me and the Bean") and delivering a searing performance of "Small Stakes" that could've/should've gone on another 3 minutes. But Spoon are the rare band that can spend an entire song building tension, then never quite give you the release you're looking for, and "Small Stakes" teased around its menacing, conniving little keyboard riff before Britt Daniel did his version of a guitar solo (stabbing at a guitar, pointing it towards the amp). We were left practically begging for a second go at it, one more round of verse/chorus/guitar-squal/yelp (an audience member even yelled "play that one again!"), but, hey, that's Spoon.

"The Way We Get By" followed, and there wasn't quite the eruption there usually is for this song. I'm thinking this points to an audience of more serious fans, more excited about, say, an all acoustic version of "Reservations" than the band's biggest hit. It was good anyway. Also good? Pretty much the whole show, but "I Summon You" was the standout. Had to be one of Britt's best vocal performances ever, earnest but vague emotion laid bare over that melancholy strum and bass drum thump.

The new material fared well, with Spoon joined by their version of the Horns of Plenty. "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb" was triumphant, more so than "The Underdog", which, to my ears, actually sounds better on radio (in a good way). They came back and did a couple encores, including a welcome and spirited version of "Japanese Cigarette Case", one of my favorites off the latest. They did "I Turn My Camera On" -- the first step backwards in what had been a linear progression of the band's career in the setlist -- to much applause, and finally the obligatory "My Mathematical Mind". It seems to have become their go-to closer, and for good reason. It covers the taut construction, jagged guitar "solos", and vague but ominous lyrics ("Gonna see the stakes! Gonna ride the brakes!") that's become the band's trademark.

Unfortunately, there was no "Sister Jack", which I alternately describe as the greatest power pop song of the past decade (GL doesn't seem to think it's power pop, which is complete nonsense) and as the chord progression chemically/physically proven to induce the greatest endorphin release/involuntary air guitar down-strumming. But they didn't play it. Just a side note there.

SETLIST: If You Say So / Utilitarian / Minor Tough / Fitted Shirt / Anything You Want / Me and the Bean / Small Stakes / The Way We Get By / Stay Don't Go / Jonathan Fisk / Back to the Life / The Beast and Dragon, Adored / The Delicate Place / I Summon You / Don't Make Me a Target / The Ghost of You Lingers / You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb / The Underdog / Black Like Me // Japanese Cigarette Case / Peace Like a River (Paul Simon) / I Turn My Camera On / Don't You Evah // Rhythm and Soul / My Mathematical Mind

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Rockists Say, "Screw You, Eardrums!", See 4 Shows In 5 Days

It's that time again where The Rockist Society throws caution to the wind, eschews logic and rational thought, and puts themselves DIRECTLY in harms way. That's right folks, your favorite, albeit infrequently updated, music blog will attempt to see 4 shows in a mere 5 days. Yes, we're totally nuts, but thankfully we've done it once before.

Here's the who, what, when, where, and why of our 5-day Rock Block:

Saturday, 10.27.2007: First up on the schedule is The Broken West and The Whigs at the Rock and Roll Hotel. We've seen The Broken West a number of times before, so we kinda know what to expect - well-crafted power pop tunes in the vein of The Bigger Lovers, New Pornographers, and Big Star (obvs).

We've also seen The Whigs before, coincidentally during our previous 4-shows-in-5-days run. They're one of those bands whose album you like well enough, but then you see them live and you drunkenly declare them the greatest band alive. Trust me. The RnR Hotel really missed a golden opportunity by not naming this night "Jangle Fest 2007", but it'll still be awesome nonetheless.

Sunday, 10.28.2007: On Rockist Odyssey Day Two we see the return of our good friends The XYZ Affair. If you've ever read this blog before, then you know how much we love their brand of disjointed pop awesomeness. They're at the venue we love to hate, The Black Cat (backstage). Again, not to be missed.

Monday, 10.29.2007:
With no show tonight, you'd probably think that we'd be resting up, drinking warm milk in our jammies, and trying to stain stick the rock sauce out of our favorite jeans. But, nope, we'll be playing the recently released Guitar Hero III: The Legends of Rock all. night. long. Expect plenty of Sparks and more high fives than the five year reunion of Delta Tau Chi.

Tuesday, 10.30.2007: For me, this is the show I'll be looking forward to the most - Ryan Adams and The Cardinals at DAR Constitution Hall. His latest release, Easy Tiger, has been on infinite repeat at TRS headquarters lately and we can't wait to see Ry-Ry and Co. tear 'em up live. Should be the perfect mix of heartfelt folkiness, pitch-perfect pop, and (let's hope) some extended guitar workouts. Also, look for a rather inspired rendition of "Halloweenhead", for obvious reasons...

Wednesday, 10.31.2007: The last show of the run, but certainly not the least. Tonight we see Bobby Bare Jr. and Lucero take the mainstage at the Black Cat. We saw Lucero a few months back and were thoroughly impressed with their alt/punk/country leanings. We'll be running on fumes and whiskey, but mostly fumes (and whiskey), so don't be surprised if you see us passed out somewhere on 14th Street. And don't be surprised if you see someone in a Sexy Neil Young costume. That'll be GH.

The Whigs - "Violet Furs"
Ryan Adams - "Pearls on a String"
Viva Voce - "We Do Not Fuck Around" (and, ahem, neither do The Rockists)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Rockist Goes to Washington, Part III

Ever with our blistered fingers on the pulse of both the nation's capital and the indie/classic rock cognoscenti, we bring you the latest developments in Rockists exerting their influence over the federal government.

Actually, Pitchfork brings it to you. Today they ran a post announcing that Superchunk/Portastatic frontman and Merge Records co-founder Mac McCaughan testified yesterday at a Senate hearing on "The Future of Radio". The hearing was held by the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. In his testimony, he talks a lot about the power of college radio, indie stations, etc, and the influence they had on his bands and the multitude of other bands we all know and love. He goes on to say that he probably wouldn't be here without exposure to college radio, and to that we add a hearty "here here".

But all this actually upset us personally because we all live within close proximity of the Capitol, and -- I think I speak for all of us when I say this -- we would've been more than happy to have ol' Mac over to our respective residences to enjoy a light repast of Trader Joe's tofu masala (I got a feeling he's a vegetarian) and a case of Yuengling as we spend the rainy evening talking about Matthew Ward's tour riders, the ringing chords on "Arthur Dove", and how many Buds Bob Pollard can put away in an hour.

But alas, the best laid plans of a Rockist often matriculate a day too late. Instead, I'm hoping that some savvy staffer out there got a copy of "Slack Motherf***er" to play the committee to prep for the hearing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The XYZ Affair can outdo Britney Spears in anything

Alex Feder of The XYZ Affair recently informed the Rockists that they have retained the services of Richard Grabel, counsel to such bands as Sonic Youth, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, Modest Mouse, Tokyo Police Club and many more. Grabel is a partner in the NYC office of Davis Shapiro Lewit & Hayes, LLP, the same firm that represents Britney Spears in certain matters. I think you've heard of her.

Now, XYZ doesn't have any children to neglect and lose custody of, but if they did, they would neglect the shit out of those kids. None of this half assed, "I need a judge to determine where the kids should go" nonsense. It would be so obvious that XYZ are unfit parents that the President would create a mandate stating The XYZ Affair shall lose all custody of any living being and be castrated. That's how rock and roll these guys are.

Oh, and they are coming back to DC on October 28 at the Black Cat backstage with Small Sins. Better not bring your kids.

photo courtesy of the band's myspace page