Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Los Campesinos! @ The Paradise

“If you know anything about Los Campesinos! you come here with hate in your heart” proclaimed front man Gareth after tearing through “By Your Hand,” “Romance Is Boring,” and “Death To Los Campesinos!.” “This is not a place for couples. If you’re here, you'll die alone with a lot of cable channels" he advised, not a person fazed by the declaration. We all knew what we were in for, anger and sorrow raging over energy packed chords and beats. Clinging to every lyric, pulsing towards the stage, the house was elated at the glum narrative of Los Campesinos!

Before the group had taken the stage, opener Parenthetical Girls gave us a reason to jive. Androgynous front man, Zac Pennington, slipped into the crowd, meandering about the audience. He came to our level, engaged us eye to eye, and made us move. We dug it. With our full attention Parenthetical Girls gave us something concrete to remember, Pennington dropping his mic carelessly, flinging his drum stick, flopping to the floor through ‘The Pornographer” and “Young Throats.” Pennington continuously slams his free flowing cymbal to the stage and elicits a few giggles with entertaining banter. Pulling of a cover of the Smiths’ “Handsome Devil”, befitting the groups aesthetic, Pennington moved to the upper level of The Dise finishing off the set while seductively resting atop the balcony.

Even with some technical difficulties, the crowd was intoxicated with LC! and could not be disappointed. Launching into “Straight in at 101” with their xylophone piercing through the chaos and dawning a fans Budweiser sweater, Gareth puts his emotional past up for the taking. Continuing into “You! Me! Dancing!” assisted by some rambunctious crowd members slammed on the near by cymbal and tambourine - howling the sorrow filled lyrics and crowd surfing onto the stage.

Los Campesinos! are exactly what you’d hope they’d be, vulnerable and sentimental. Delivering you the truth about their experiences, putting a pop spin on their fast and angry themes. Steadily gaining momentum through their four records, this kick-ass kick-off of their US tour was charged, a feeling that grew steadily between the band and the crowd. “Boston, this place is always good to us” the band agrees. Los Campesinos!, you’re relentless misery has always been good to us too.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Real Estate/The Babies/Cuffs @ Brighton Music Hall 1/15/12

Last Sunday night, fans found solace from the bone-chilling wind and crowded into Brighton Music Hall for a night of jangly tunes, effortless melodies and surfy lo-fi goodness.

Cambridge based Cuffs (which includes a member of Big Troubles) kicked off the night with high energy and danceable tracks. Their dreamy, scintillating sound was the perfect opener for the night, and they looked like the coolest professors at your college. This was one of the few times an opening band really captivated me and made me interested in going to see them again.

After that, The Babies took the stage. The Brooklyn band features members from Woods and Vivian Girls, and their alt-country, laid-back vibe was deeply appreciated by the crowd. While their set seemed to run a little on the long side, the use of female and male vocals and the short length of their songs kept their set going from start to finish.

Quickly after they were finished, Real Estate came on to kick off their East Coast tour. While they were sure to perform almost all of the tracks from their latest praised album Days, (reviewed here) they managed to cover all the bases and drew from their earlier works, playing “Fake Blues” (free download) and “Suburban Dogs” from their first self-titled album. Highlights were bassist Alex Bleeker-led “Wonder Years” and “Easy”, the sonic equivalent of a breath of fresh air.

Rarely do I leave a show feeling fully satisfied with the setlist, but Real Estate truly delivered, ensuring older devotees would be just as pleased as new fans. Even if you just dabble in Real Estate, go see them if you get the chance - you’ll leave totally in love with their music.

(Photo: Sean Tracy)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Babies Interview

Opening a sold-out show at Brighton Music Hall on January 15th, The Babies’ Cassie Ramone and Kevin Morby gave WECB a few minutes of their post-show time. Still in the glow of rocking the first night of their East Coast excursion with Real Estate, the four piece has big plans for 2012. After a busy 2011 that included their selt-titled full-length debut, The Babies, a live-recorded release on cassette, Live at The Smell, and a trip to Europe, we had a lot to cover...

Montana: So you just played the first night of your East Coast tour - how’d it go, personal reviews?

Cassie Ramone: I really liked it, I really like Real Estate, and its gonna be really fun to tour with them I think.

Kevin Morby: I agree, same, very good night.

M: Alright, word. The crowd was definitely eating it up, they were really digging it. And at the end of 2011 you came back from Europe, so I was wondering, what are the crowds like over there compared to the US?

K: I feel like they’re more interested in the way of a touring band, cause they’re interested in the fact that we’re coming a long way for them.

C: I don’t know, I mean, I feel like the crowd really depends on the city and the show as opposed to the country or the continent, you know what I mean? Like, we played really good shows all over the country and really good shows all over Europe, but also really bad shows in the US and Europe, we’ve played both good and bad shows in New York City, where we’re from, it it totally depends on the vibe of the show itself.

M: How do you gauge when you’re going somewhere how your crowd will be? Do you know where your fans are or do you just kind of wing-it?

K: I think that we’re young enough of a band that we don’t really know that yet. So, I guess we wing-it. It’s always a surprise, whether its good or bad.

M: Any cultural barriers or mishaps along the way in foreign countries?

K: No mishaps.

C: I mean, I guess just like going to countries or cities where people don’t speak english is kind of a barrier, but it’s also interesting to go somewhere where people don’t speak english.

M: So tonight you guys said it was the 3 year mark of your first practice, right?

K & C: Yea, yea.

M: So you’re all from different bands, but what made you want to come together and form The Babies three years ago? What was it about each other or something that made you want to come together?

C: Well me and Kevin were just friends for a little while and then one night we were hanging out at this bar together and we were going to go to this other bar that was a ten minute walk away and I was like, ‘do you want to stop and get road sodas?’ and then Kevin was like, ‘whowa, we should start a band called road sodas!’, like OK sure? But then we actually took it up and practiced, and me and Kevin played together the next week, just the two of us and then we decided to become a real band and change the name to The Babies, cause Road Sodas is kind of a silly name, I guess.

K: Yea, it started very casual, just friends playing guitars together, and then sort of evolved into something bigger.

M: What do you guys think, as opposed to the other bands you’re each in, what does The Babies bring that your fans can see thats different from your other acts?

K: Aesthetically different, I play bass in Woods, so if you came to see a Woods show, I’m playing bass and I’m not singing and playing guitar like I am in The Babies. So to come see Woods you see me play bass and you see me play guitar in The Babies.

C: Yea, in the Vivian Girls I write all the songs and I don’t play as much lead guitar, I play either chords or solos. Where as in The Babies its just a different method of songwriting, I play lead guitar a lot which is really fun, and it just has a totally different aesthetic than both Woods and Vivian Girls which is really cool for us to do.

K: Just a different band, you know? When it comes down to it, its a completely different band. So its fun to have that conjunction, like in one band I can do something different.

C: Yea, we don’t consider it a side project, it’s just another band, you know what I mean?

M: Right, right. So in the Spring you released your self-titled debut, and then in October you came out with a Cassette [Live at The Smell]. What made you guys want to release a live cassette as opposed to just a digital release or anything like that?

K: We just got asked, like a small cassette label in LA saw that we were playing in Los Angeles and asked if they could record it and put it out, and we were into it, so.

M: Yea, definitely a good idea, I dig it.

K: Totally.

C: Whenever somebody asks us to do something and we’re into it we’re like, why not?

K: Yea, they’re a cool label and they’re cool people and we’re also very into cassettes. It’s cool to have an actual printed nice cassette, you know, and it’s a document of that night of ours in Los Angeles and it’s cool that people can listen to it and hopefully enjoy it.

M: And it was a good night overall?

K: Great night. Yea.

C: Great night! Yea, really good. I love The Smell, that’s where we played when that cassette was made.

K: That was my first time at The Smell, and I’d heard so much about The Smell, from bands like Niko Niko and No Age, but I’d never been there. And then we played our show there and it was great, its cool that it was recorded, my first night at The Smell.

M: So our show is about new music, so we wanted to cover you guys, but what kind of new music are you guys into?

K: Well, speaking of Los Angeles, we have a very good friend who has a band called White Fence and in Brooklyn we have a couple of friends who play in a band called Widowspeak and

C: Theres also Crazy Band from LA, they’re good friends of ours,

K: Crazy Band is great. We actually played with Crazy Band and White Fence at The Smell show where the tape was recorded. I also, I really like everything thats happening in San Francisco right now, like The Fresh & Onlys.

C: Fresh & Onlys are like one of the best bands around today, they’re just so incredible. A real inspiration.

K: I like Real Estate, obviously.

C: Obviously! Theres just so much good music around right now, its hard to just pick a few. You know what I mean? I feel like a lot of people are really jaded about music today, but I think that theres actually like so much great stuff coming out and I’m really thankful to be living in a time where theres an abundance of great music.

K: Yea, same here. And also, its done on a scale thats not like, all about making money, its nice.

M: Yea, that’s an awesome way to look at it. So, well, since this is the kick off of your east-coast tour, and then what? Mid-west, Canada?

K: Well actually, after we end our shows with Real Estate we’re going further South and playing a couple more shows and then we’re gonna go to Los Angeles the last two weeks of February and record a new record.

M: Word, that sounds good! Great, well, any final works?

K: Well, peace in the new year! No war!

Sounds good to me.

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