Concert Catch-Up Week, Day 5: tUnE-yArDs
(click here if you missed Day 1: Todd Snider, here if you missed Day 2: Justin Townes Earle, here if you missed Day 3: Radiohead, and here if you missed Day 4: Mariachi El Bronx)
I hate it when famous people I like don’t get along.
The subject of music feuds came up a few hours before my friend Coyle and I saw Radiohead in Washington D.C. And before you ask, no, the music feud I’m talking about isn’t the one about us buying the same M. Ward shirt, though I am wearing it as I type this — hear that Coyle?!? No, the subject came up because our pre-show listening regimen leaned heavily on Arctic Monkeys, to whom Coyle’s been listening quite a bit recently. As we talked about Suck It and See, Arctic Monkeys’ most recent album, it dawned on me that I hadn’t given the band a fair chance over the years, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of something Thom Yorke said a little while back. Of AM and their rapid rise to fame, Yorke was quoted in 2006 as saying:
“The fact that poor Arctic Monkeys are getting so much attention is purely based on the fact that the mainstream music business is such a bunch of fucking retards as far as I’m concerned.”
Looking back at this incident with the benefits of hindsight and Google, it seems totally unfair (and dumb) for me to have let a single utterance, especially a flippant one that was mainly directed at the mainstream music industry, steer me away from a group I’d been starting to enjoy. But a half decade of tepid listening, a heavy Radiohead bias and the fact that AM drummer Matt Helders had fired back a shot about Radiohead being boring all worked together to warp my memory, and I found myself saying to Coyle something like, “I haven’t listened to them much. I think they said something not so nice about Radiohead at one point.” It’s embarrassing to admit it, but I seem to have passively chosen a side in a disagreement that took place 6 years ago between two people I’ve never met, which means that I’m just now finding out how great Suck It and See is. Crazy, right?
Well, the crazy train keeps on rolling, with a stop two days later at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, where I was set to see tUnE-yArDs for the first time.
Concert Catch-Up Week, Day 4: Mariachi El Bronx
(click here if you missed Day 1: Todd Snider, here if you missed Day 2: Justin Townes Earle, and here if you missed Day 3: Radiohead)
Consider for a moment the nature of applause. Giving someone “a hand.” Fairly straightforward, right? You applaud someone or something to show approval, with vigor acting as a measure of enthusiasm (excepting of course the legendary slow clap, which dramatically inverts the vigor dynamic and belongs in the nonverbal communication hall of fame, in this humble Rhetoric and Communications minor’s opinion). Cultures all around the world do it. You can golf clap, fast clap, clap seriously, clap sarcastically, clap enthusiastically, clap dispassionately, clap at completely inappropriate times… the variations are many; but one thing unites all of these types of applause: they’re externally directed. A tool for communicating outwardly. Which is why there’s something just a little bit weird about theater audiences clapping after movies (it’s not like the director can hear it), and why there’s something more than a little bit awesome about Mariachi El Bronx’s set opening up for tUnE-yArDs at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville on June 5. I’ll never forget how Mariachi El Bronx rescued me from a pit of despair… with my own applause.
Concert Catch-Up Week, Day 3: Radiohead
(click here if you missed Day 1: Todd Snider, and here if you missed Day 2: Justin Townes Earle)
I love picking music apart. Like some eager high school biology student with a scalpel in his hand and a dead frog lying belly-up on his desk (The album art above seems downright icky after reading that, doesn’t it?), I like dissecting songs, finding out what makes them tick, what makes them exceptional, and what they reveal about the people who wrote them. Actually, “like” might not be the right word to use; after years of playing in bands and nearly 250 posts on this here blog, this type of analytic thinking has become almost totally involuntary. I’ll sometimes catch myself coming up with angles for posts about even the dumbest pop music, like why that video of Jimmy Fallon and the Roots playing “Call Me Maybe” with Carly Rae Jepsen is actually pretty great, or how “Am I The Only One” by Dierks Bentley perfectly encapsulates the way relationships with your friends evolve during your mid-20’s (please someone dare me to actually write this).
With this propensity in mind, I had a quick chat with my brain as we hurried into the Verizon Center to catch the beginning of Radiohead’s June 3 performance. It went a little something like this…
Concert Catch-Up Week, Day 2: Justin Townes Earle
(click here if you missed Day 1: Todd Snider)
Fiona Apple said something in her recent interview with The New York Times that immediately jumped off the page at me. Just kidding, I wasn’t reading on an actual “page,” I was reading on my iPad. What, do you think I hate nature or something? Of live performances, she said…
“I would rather watch somebody actually going through something.”
Her words jumped off the ‘Pad (See? Just doesn’t have the same ring to it…) for a very specific reason — they immediately made think of Justin Townes Earle. May 22’s fantastic installment in the Groovin’ in the Garden concert series at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was my fourth time seeing Earle perform, and a common source of amazement I’ve found in each of these experiences is the substantive nature of the connection he forms with the audience.
Concert Catch-Up Week, Day 1: Todd Snider
I have a confession to make. Promise you won’t be mad if I tell you? Pinkie swear? OK, here goes… I’ve been holding out on you. I’ve been to some amazing concerts — 3, to be exact — that I’ve yet to tell you about. Uh oh, you look furious. C’mon, you said you wouldn’t be ma… oh, you just have to sneeze? Gesundheit!
To fix this grave injustice, I’m declaring a Concert Catch-Up Week. Over the next
5 days week or so, I’ll be offering quick recaps of the wonders these eyes have beheld in the last few weeks, starting with Todd Snider — the second of two acts that opened up for Justin Townes Earle on May 22 at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA. With all due respect to Jeff Tweedy, whose cantankerous-cuddly routine made his show at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville a few years back one of the best and funniest shows I’ve ever seen, Snider’s set was fucking hysterical.