Category Archives: Music

B.O.M.B. Fest 2011

bombThe weekend of May 28th-29th (this is late, I know!) was the 3rd annual festival B.O.M.B. Fest in Hartford, Connecticut. This was its first time expanding into a two day festival and, although ticket sales were less than estimated, it still blew everyone who was there away and made for an experience that I know most people can’t wait for (myself included). The venue was small but easy to coordinate and made for traveling from one stage to another easy, especially with overlaps which inevitably will happen. The placement of the smaller, local band stage was conveniently near the VIP entrance and food tents which gave those small bands a lot of exposure. The pavilion, which was the headliner and larger band stage, had a cool indoor/outdoor set up where you could watch inside on seats or standing, or sit on the grassy hill outside.

There were a lot of bands that I really enjoyed, new discoveries and old bands that held a lot of promise. River City Extension, an 8-piece band formed out of Tom’s River, NJ, put on a great set where there was even a small following of Binghamton University students to enjoy one of BUMP’s favorites. Titus Andronicus also put on a great set which I only caught the end of. Their stage presenShpongletronce is amazingly active and they transferred their energy well into the audience. Two new discoveries for me were Man Man and Eoto. Man Man is a quirky band from Philly with an incredibly addictive musical variety that made everyone in the crowd seem mesmerized. The paint on their faces just added to their overall energy. Eoto was an electronic pair that I actually enjoyed (I’m usually not really that into the electronic sets at festivals). It was great to see them creating their music on the stage, which is a nice diversion from the usual sight of watching a guy play with laptop and dance. Finally, one of the most exciting parts of B.O.M.B. Fest was watching the Shpongletron Experience. The lights and graphics were hypnotizing and seemed to be telling some trippy, crazy story accompanied with the music. Usually Shpongle has a larger orchestra that only further makes this English project into something more desirable to watch. Honestly the only word that I can think to describe it is awesome because for most of the set words couldn’t even come to mind to describe what I was watching.

The two headliners for the weekend were Weezer and Snoop Dogg who were amazing to watch, although they weren’t necessarily current bands. That is really the biggest complaint I could find for either performance – although Weezer has released Raditude, Hurley, and Death to False Metal in 2010 and Snoop just released Doggumentary this past year, those aren’t where their popular songs are. The followings for both lie in the 90’s and early 2000’s and not so much in their new cd’s. Even with this, it was still really great to see both performances. Weezer had a great stage presence and it was an amazing thing to hear all of those songs that I’ve loved for so long live finally. And I was actually surprised at how into Snoop I was able to get. Before he went on, I couldn’t think of any of his songs and I had never seen a rap show before so I was pretty skeptical. But as soon he (finally) got on stage, I couldn’t sit down and it turned out that I knew way more than I thought!

As far as bands that I didn’t really enjoy, I would definitely have to say the Cool Kids and Neon Trees were two disappointments for me. I didn’t stay too long for either set because I found myself very bored. Cool Kids seemed like they were jumping around and shouting a lot, and Neon Trees reminded me of a pop-punk band that was trying really hard to be something unique. I personally, although this opinion was not one that all of my friends necessarily shared, was a little bored of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. I usually really like listening to their cd, but for me it didn’t transfer well into a live show. I found myself pretty distracted and waiting for something more energetic to happen so I could get more into it. Even when they played their hit Home I wasn’t really feeling it – I had higher expectations of that performance from what I had seen when they performed Letterman. And I was also a little afraid they were going to go into their cute “Jade and Alexander” dialogue where they explain the first time he knew he was in love with her, in which case I probably would’ve just gone somewhere else. Luckily they didn’t and I was spared. Although I didn’t see it, I heard that Big Freedia was something that Connecticut was not ready for. This quirky artist performs “bounce” music which is huge in New Orleans and is literally girls just bouncing their bottoms around on stage as he shouts random things. Apparently the crowd threw things and forced the artist off-stage early, a rude lack of appreciation for the artist. If you don’t like, you should just walk away. My last disappointment is not with an artist, it’s with myself for missing Dan Deacon who was described to me as one of the best performances my friends had ever seen. After watching YouTube, I became mad at myself for missing what looked like an amazingly fun and interactive performance.

I had a great time working at B.O.M.B. Fest and I love seeing the progression as they grow and decide to do more. I really can’t wait to see what they bring to the table next year.

Of Montreal

of-montrealLast night, April 25th, I saw of Montreal with Painted Palms opening at the Harro East Ballroom in Rochester. Although small, the Ballroom ended up being a really great place for a show. It is typically a place for more formal parties, but it transformed nicely and the high ceilings gave it perfect acoustics for both performances.

Painted Palms was definitely a good match as an opener for an of Montreal show. They had a similar electronic style, sounding (and even looking) similar to Animal Collective. The bassist was my personal favorite part of the band because of how into the music he got. Each person in the band had their own look different from one another which was cool to see, and they meshed very well together. After a short half hour set what everyone was waiting for finally began.

Of Montreal is one of my favorite bands for many reasons: they have such an original and unique sound, lead singer Kevin Barnes dresses in some of the weirdest yet coolest outfits, and there is just so much going on in the background that it makes for an overall awesome experience. I’ve seen of Montreal once before at BOMB Fest last year, which was cool but I wanted the experience of seeing them on their own since they couldn’t do their full crazy performance in a thirty minute time slot at a festival. My biggest critique of this show was that they didn’t play for long enough! They played a quick hour and a half set which, with the opener included, brought the show to an early halt at 10:30. Of Montreal played heavily off their latest album False Priest, which admittedly is not one of my favorites. I was hoping to hear some of their older music which I like a lot more, but it also makes sense why they would focus on this album since it has an upbeat feel and it was just released last year. The background screens were filled with bright, flashing images which were sort of distracting but also just another part of the of Montreal show experience. If you’ve never seen videos of their live performances, then the skits would probably throw you off at first. People in pigs masks, wrestler costumes, and American flag body suits paraded around the stage and involved Barnes multiple times, which he just bounced back from and continued singing without even seeming out of breath.

Overall, the show was a wonderful experience but I don’t know if I would waste the gas money to drive three hours out of my way again. They’re still one of my favorites I just wish they played a little longer and made my Monday night off feel a little more worth the money!

****UPDATE: Check out my other blog dedicated to giving of Montreal news updates! And follow me on Twitter @OfMontrealNews.

Via Audio & Jukebox the Ghost

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On December 12th at a Teen Center in Connecticut, I saw two great bands, Jukebox the Ghost and Via Audio, both of which I have seen before so I knew what to expect in a way. Overall the show was really great, but my biggest complaint was with the crowd. A band called Dynamite Walls opened and they were pretty good; some of their songs sounded a little redundant and unfortunately the mics were pretty low so it was hard to hear a lot of the singing. But overall I think they had a pretty nice and relaxed stage presence which was nice for an opener. Via Audio played next and were completely unknown to almost everyone at the show. Like the first time I saw them, I fell in love with Via Audio while they dance on stage to their songs, especially lead vocalist Jessica Martins who dances around her keyboard and gives the band an overall cute presence. Jukebox’s performance was great and the crowd got particularly into dancing and singing which was nice to see finally. They are clearly an incredibly talented band, especially keyboardist Ben Thornewill who is great to watch and definitely knows what he’s doing. They made a cover of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas’ song “What’s This?” which was an extremely difficult feat, but they performed it with precision and skill. The last song was a Cure cover encore where all the other bands joined in dancing around on stage and playing various instruments, giving a great ending to a fun show and leaving everyone in a positive mood.

Lollapalooza

lollapalooza2010

This summer I went on my first road trip to Chicago for Lollapalooza from August 5th-7th at Grant Park. Me and some friends drove over twelve hours and stayed the weekend, exploring downtown Chicago while enjoying the amazing bands that performed. Originally I was convinced to go to the festival to see Metric and Phoenix, two bands which I absolutely love. Their sets were amazing and lived up to every expectation I had for them, but there were also a lot of other bands that had equally good sets and ended up being complete surprises to me. The entire festival was set up in a way that in between different stages there were fun things to get involved in which made being at Lollapalooza more enjoyable even when there was not a band I wanted to see. It is nice to say that after going to Lollapalooza, there are a bunch of bands that I have more of an interest in now after seeing them perform and I also discovered a lot of new music.

Chicago was an amazing place to visit for the weekend and stands, for me, as one city that I would definitely love to go back to sometime. Grant Park was a great place for a music festival with plenty of arrangements and fun things to do during times when there was not music I wanted to see or just for a break. There were free water stations all over the park which was an absolutely amazing idea. You just bring an empty water bottle and get free water for the whole day. It was so brilliant especially because Chicago gets pretty hot during the day. There was also a Hammock Haven which was another great idea with about twenty or so hammocks in a particularly shady area. There were a bunch of tents where you could enter raffles or play games to win free sweatbands, handheld fans, or even free VIP passes. The food was typically unhealthy and overpriced, but there was an entire section dedicated to the local vendors with more organic and healthier options which was nice to see.

Now to get to the music. There were very few disappointments for me, so I will start off by naming the few bands that, in my opinion, did not perform either up to my expectations or were just not that entertaining to watch. I was really excited to see the New Pornographers and they were by far my biggest disappointment. I thought that they had no energy and they hardly interacted with the crowd. They barely moved away from their respective microphones and I found myself dazing off during their set. My next biggest disappointment was Freelance Whales who was another main band that inspired me to buy my ticket in the first place. They had more energy and interaction than New Pornographers did, but their set arrangement was pretty boring. They played through their c.d., Weathervanes, in almost the same order it is set up in, starting off with their most energetic songs and then ending with one last boom. In my opinion, it should have been split up differently to keep the crowd’s attention, seeing as people kept leaving the stage. I am probably one of the few people disappointed by Lady Gaga, strictly because I did not camp out for eight hours to get to the front and was stuck in the back of the biggest crowd I have ever seen. A performer like Gaga is something you need to see the entirety of with all the costume changes and the elaborate set, and being short and stuck in the middle of a mob did not really help to make it memorable for me. My last disappointment was the XX who were just a little too mellow and boring to keep my attention for too long. They had a huge crowd though so I might be in the minority with that one.

Those few let downs were not enough to ruin what ended up being an amazing and completely unforgettable weekend though. The most surprising and best bands to have seen for me were Metric, Phoenix, Frightened Rabbit, and Dirty Projectors. Of course there were other amazing bands and performers, but those four stuck out the most to me. Metric had incredible crowd interaction and really got everyone pumped up and dancing, at least where we were standing. It was really easy to get into their set whether you knew every song they performed or none of them at all. Phoenix was a similar situation with everyone screaming lyrics and dancing. It was also really exciting when lead singer Thomas Mars crowd surfed and sang their last song held up by the crowd. Everyone went pretty crazy for that. Dirty Projectors are one of the bands that ended up being a totally pleasant surprise for me. They are a band that I have heard a few times but never got into really. They were performing at the same time as Matt & Kim and we were going to stay for half of each set but ended up getting drawn into Dirty Projectors instead. I am definitely not disappointed in having missed Matt & Kim, even though I like them, because the Dirty Projectors were so interesting to watch. They captivate audiences with the way they work with one another, making for an amazing set. Frightened Rabbit was a band that I discovered at Lollapalooza and I can say that I honestly loved their set as well. Their songs were fun to dance around to and the lead singer, Scott Hutchison, was talented and fun to watch. He was able to make people laugh and just made it an overall very enjoyable experience.

A bunch of other really great bands, some of which I did not see the entire sets for unfortunately, were Jukebox the Ghost, Morning Benders, the Strokes, the Ettes, Yeasayer, Gogol Bordello, Spoon, Arcade Fire, and Jamie Lidell. There was also one stage, Perry’s, that played all different kinds of DJs. That usually is not my scene, but we caught one headlining DJ, Digitalism, and he was so much fun to get into. We ended up missing most of Arcade Fire because we got so caught in the moment actually.

Overall, I loved pretty much everything about my weekend at Lollapalooza and I cannot wait to go back next year to see what the festival will bring. It was amazing to see such incredible organization and such variety in music, with bands from so many different countries with completely different sounds. Being slightly involved in this kind of thing due to BUMP makes me understand how much coordination all the workers and bands need, and how easy it is for one little thing to ruin the festival. It was a great time, though, and I appreciate everything I got to be a part of.

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