Monday, October 20, 2014

Carbon Leaf - Radio Radio Indianapolis - 10/19/2014

 Clearly, this is a promo shot, I didn't take it.  I do have one picture from last night of me and Barry, but I look awful in it and you'll never see it.  :-)

Artist: Carbon Leaf
Venue: Radio Radio Indianapolis
Date: Sunday, October 19, 2014

Set List (again, dismally out of order, and potentially not complete, but as usual, I forgot to make notes so this is the best I could remember the next day):

What About Everything?
Life Less Ordinary
Love Rain Down
Februaery Detailles
The Boxer
The Donnybrook Affair
Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle
When I'm Alone
Raise the Roof
One Prairie Outpost
She's Gone (...For Good This Time)
Two Aging Truckers
Ragtime Carnival
Tombstone vs. Ashes
Let Your Troubles Roll By

Last night we broke from tradition and, instead of going south to Nashville, we headed north to Indianapolis for our second Carbon Leaf show.  The first time we saw them live (in Nashville) was so stinking good, we were super excited to see them again.  For this tour, they're on the road in support of their latest release, Indian Summer Revisited.  Because a record company the band is no longer associated with owns the master recordings of their beloved 2004 release Indian Summer, they decided to re-record the album so the ownership of the songs and the recordings is now with the band, where it belongs.

This was the only show I've been to (that I can think of) that didn't have an opener and I was really okay with that.  I mean yes, I've found some of my favorite artists via them opening for other people, but sometimes it's nice to skip the formality and just get down to business.  It seemed like there was a quite a wait between when the doors opened and when Barry, Terry, Carter, Jon and Jason took the stage, but good company (and perhaps a bit of vodka) made the wait totally enjoyable.  This was our first time at Radio Radio which is a neat little venue in downtown Indianapolis.  With a 250 person capacity, a beautiful glass-topped bar and plentiful seating, it's a cozy place perfect for an intimate show.

When it was time for Carbon Leaf to take the stage, they did so with seemingly boundless energy and crowd support, just like the last time we saw them. The set list was heavy with songs off Indian Summer, which is cool because they're all crowd favorites.  However, this time it seemed that they were playing them with such renewed vigor, they felt like brand new songs.  It seemed as though, in working with them so extensively, the band had breathed new life into these songs and the audience reciprocated that.  Personally, I was excited to hear them perform "Paloma" and "When I'm Alone", a couple of my favorites.  They are both such beautiful songs and it was amazing to ride along on the ebb and flow of them.

While they stayed primarily in the newer albums, they did dip back in the catalog and pulled out "Comfort" from Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat and crowd favorite "The Boxer" from Echo, Echo.  Both songs were apparently well known by the crowd and we all sang along enthusiastically.  The sing-along aspect of the evening reached its peak during "One Prairie Outpost" during which Barry was able to stop singing completely and just let us handle that for him.  I love when that happens, but I have to say that my favorite part of a Carbon Leaf show is when they all gather around one microphone.  Sometimes the songs they play in this format get a bit lost in the chatter of the rude people in the back of the room, but I still love them if only because the band seems the happiest playing around a single mic like that and it's fun to be a part of it.

Just as the last time we saw them, they closed with the absolutely perfect "Let Your Troubles Roll By".  I'm not sure I've ever heard a better song to close with.  After the show, I visited the merch table and picked up one of the few Carbon Leaf albums I didn't already have.  Because the guys always mingle in the crowd after shows, I was able (with a lot of encouragement from my friends who are much cooler characters than I am) to speak to all five of the band members and get their autographs.  They're all incredibly friendly and, even after all these years performing, they seem truly grateful that people come out and listen and enjoy their shows.  I had a lot of things I wanted to say about how wonderful the show was and how amazing Indiana Summer Revisited is, but I'm mostly just happy (and eternally grateful to my friends) that I even manged to talk to them and not say anything too embarrassing.  This was the last show for us for the foreseeable future, and I can't think of a better way to wrap up the year.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Black Keys - KFC Yum! Center - 09/10/2014


Artist: The Black Keys
Venue: The KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY

Last night we broke out of our normal mold and actually attended a show at an arena.  Normally, we stick to smaller, more intimate venues because that's the atmosphere I prefer, but my husband is a huge Black Keys fan, so we bit the bullet.  When I bought the tickets, I discovered that they had opened up the floor to standing room, general admission so I snapped up a couple of those and hoped for the best.  Well, the best turned out to be right down front, on the rail, nothing but a couple very large security guards and a whole lot of sound waves between us and stage.  Perfect.

As usual, let me start with the opener.  Cage the Elephant, a band originally from Bowling Green, KY opened.  I have one of their CDs and really like a couple of their songs, but I would be lying if I said this was one of my favorite live performances.  Or even that I especially enjoyed it.  There was a lot of media at this show (or at least more than I'm used to seeing) and the lead singer played to them so much it was kind of ridiculous.  It was nice when they finally left and he could start paying attention to the crowd.  Also, he mimics Mick Jagger's moves so much it was actually kind of comical.  I thought the guys in the band played well and their songs are fast and fun, they just need to tone it down a bit.

After that, The Black Keys took the stage.  It was Dan Auerbach, Patrick Carney and two additional musicians on bass and keys.  I don't have the usual guesstimate of the set list because I don't know the song names well enough to keep track and also because it didn't matter.  As long as Patrick was playing the drums and Dan was playing guitar, he could have been singing the phone book for all I cared.  There is not a lot of chatting in a Black Keys concert, it's not really Dan's thing, but that's fine with me, I kind of think that stopping to talk would have only broken the spell.  And it was quite a spell they weaved.  Patrick Carney is far and away the best drummer I have ever seen.  He creates absolute magic. When he started playing, the drum got in my chest immediately and it felt like my entire body was vibrated apart until I just hung there, mixed with the music in the air.  Then Dan swoops in with that guitar work and glues the pieces back together.  It was everything that is wonderful and mystical about live music.

I know they played all the songs we expected to hear, "Lonely Boy", "Gold on the Ceiling" and "Money Maker", plus an old cover from 2002's The Big Come Up and pretty much everything in between.  I had two favorite moments of the night.  The first was when they played a cover of Edwyn Collins' "Girl Like You", which used to be the ringtone my Husband used for me, so that was pretty awesome.  The second was the absolutely perfect "Little Black Submarines".  It started out with Dan playing the quiet, acoustic, complex guitar part.  Then the haunting vocals came in and the crowd knew every single word.  The song builds slightly in the middle, with a bit of drums being added in.  Then, for the last 1/3 of the song, it absolutely explodes in a cloud of raw, powerful rock.  It was amazing.

It was a great show.  Both Dan and Patrick are amazing musicians and it was totally worth the wait to get down front where we could really watch them at their craft.  Even the crowd was relatively well-behaved (only 2 people got thrown out that we saw).  I still don't prefer arena shows, but if I'm going to go to one, I want it to be exactly like this.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Play List Perfection

Do you ever have one of those days when the songs that normally cheer you up, just piss you off instead?  Yeah, well, I've been having one of those days for a while now. So I finally got around to making a playlist of only safe songs. The kind that are right here where I am. They don't want me to feel any other way, they're totally accepting.

I've been listing to this list all day, and I have to say, it's pretty fucking perfect. So, as kind of a little PSA, I present to you Me, Right Now, in Song Form:

All We Are - Matt Nathanson
Always Midnight - Pat Monahan
Anna Begins - Counting Crows
Away From the Sun - 3 Doors Down
Block of Wood - Carbon Leaf
Box Cutters - Amanda Shires
Car Crash - Matt Nathanson
Colorblind - Counting Crows
Cover Me Up - Jason Isbell
Cover Me - Candlebox
Daughter - Pearl Jam
Disarm - Smashing Pumpkins
Drive - Blind Melon
Far Behind - Candlebox
Farther Down - Neon Trees
Fire & Rain - James Taylor
Five to One - The Doors
Gone - Matt Nathanson
Hang - Matchbox 20
Hate Me - Blue October
Heavy - Train
Heavy Heart - Madi Diaz
Let Me Go - 3 Doors Down
Long December - Counting Crows
No Excuses - Alice in Chains
Patience - Guns N' Roses
Perfect Blue Buildings - Counting Crows
Raining in Baltimore - Counting Crows
Round Here - Counting Crows
She Talks to Angels - The Black Crows
Too Weak to Ramble - Dr. Dog
The Turning Tide - Aaron Tap
Under the Wire - Carbon Leaf
Wilderness on Time - Aaron Tap
Wreck of the Day - Anna Nalick
3AM - Matchbox 20

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Song: Headphones
Artist: Matt Nathanson

As you probably already know, Matt Nathanson has released a new single as a little teaser of his upcoming album.  Lucky for us, he has also been playing the new song while out on his summer tour.  I have to say, was a little thrown the first time I listened to "Headphones".  Initially, I thought it was a huge departure from what I expected to hear, but now that I've listened to it a few (hundred) more times, I've kind of reneged on that.

It turns out that, yes, it is a different sound than Matt's earlier work, kind of a trip a little further down that road he started on with Last of the Great Pretenders.  He continues to branch out away from the acoustic sound of his past and more toward a rich, full band sound.  Personally, I'm a big fan of the direction Matt is taking with his music.  This is the kind of song that reminds me why I love the kickass sound system in my car so much.  The kind of song that I can hear and feel, right in my chest where the bass hits.  However, as different as it is, it still contains all of the elements that make Matt's music so wonderful, it's all just wrapped up in a shiny new package.

First of all, there is that voice. That voice is a warm, safe place to hide while the storms blow over.  The voice that so many people have been drawn to and captivated by.  With "Headphones", as with a lot of the last album, he further proves that his voice can hold its own against a lot more than just the soft melodies of an acoustic guitar.  Then there are the lyrics.  Matt has been known to be vocal about his struggles with writing lyrics, but it never shows in the end result.  His lyrics are always witty and perfectly natural, like they just rolled off his tongue, and this song is no different.  My favorite line in this one is: "Good things whisper, bad things shout.  I don't hear 'em now!"  After all, only really great music can truly drown them out.

"Headphones" is such a great song, it makes me super excited to hear what the new album will have in store of us, whenever it's ready to be released into the world.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Matt Nathanson @ Mercury Ballroom 07/26/2014

Artist: Matt Nathanson
Venue: Mercury Ballroom, Louisville, KY
Date: 07/26/2014

Finally, a current picture!  This was from last night's M&G (btw, I was much happier than I look in that picture. That must be my "crapping my pants and trying not to say anything too dumb" face.)
Set List: (I know this is dismally out of order, but I think I remembered most of them.  Please feel free to correct me)

Kill the Lights
Car Crash
Mission Bells
Kinks Shirt
Annie's Always Waiting (For the Next One to Leave) (!!)
Last Days of Summer in San Francisco
Romeo & Juliet {Dire Straits}
Detroit Waves
Room @ the End of the World
American Girl {Tom Petty}
I Saw
Come on Get Higher

As you've probably gathered already, we got to start this concert season with Matt Nathanson, Aaron Tap & Co. again this year.  Every time we see them, they find some new and different way to blow my mind, and this time did not disappoint.  But hang on, I'll get to that.

The evening had two openers, the first was Matt Mackelcan. He did a short but sweet set that I felt was very well received by the audience.  He's an unassuming performer and seemed very appreciative of people being there and listening, which is always nice to see.  During his set, he brought Aaron Tap out on stage for a couple songs (which I'm sure didn't hurt his credibility with this crowd).  Aaron produced his previous release Slow Down and is working with him on his upcoming From Where I Stand as well.  If you're not familiar with him, you should totally get that way.

Next up was Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.  You probably know Andrew from Jack's Mannequin and/or Something Corporate.  I know I will ostracize myself by admitting that I'm only marginally familiar with his previous bands, but it's a fact.  What I do know is that he's a very impressive performer.  He's like an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm, which is awesome.  He did everything from singing standing on his piano to jumping on the keys to play it with his feet.  Nuts.  I thoroughly enjoyed his set and he was very popular with the audience.  One of the girls I was with got to meet him after the show and she was fan girling like crazy, which is always fun.  I love it when people are excited to meet the artists they adore and aren't afraid to express that excitement. Also, I have to mention that after his set, we witnessed an amazing feat of packing abilities.  The road guys literally turned his entire piano up on its side and put it in a box.  And our movers couldn't even manage a treadmill without damaging the drywall.  What the hell?

Anyway, moving on.  It was finally time for our headliner to take the stage.  Just as it was last time we saw them, the line up was Matt Nathanson (well, obviously), Aaron Tap, Shiben Bhattacharya,and Chris Lovejoy (you know, the drummer from Lexington, KY...Detroit...Lansing...the dude gets around).  This particular combination of artists seems to be the perfect mix.  They opened with the carnal delight Kill the Lights off Last of the Great Pretenders and we knew right away that we were in for rock show tonight.  There was not going to be any pussyfooting around, they got right down to business.  It was after that song that I noticed that Matt brought backdrops this time, with pictures and whatnot projected on them as he played.  I thought, "Holy shit, they have really brought us a full-on rock show, with all the bells and whistles, right into this small, intimate venue.  The best of both worlds!"  I had no idea at the time how accurate that thought would turn out to be.

The show turned out to be by far the most rock and roll show I've seen Matt and the guys play.  They played a bunch of fast, ass-shaking music like Annie's Always Waiting (For the Next One to Leave) [my personal favorite...which is why they played it, right??], Detroit Waves, Kinks Shirt and his newest song Headphones.  The latter was absolutely amazing live.  Even better than I'd hoped!  And of course there was the ever popular clap-along-song Faster.  I always feel a little creepy during that song because I have to stare at Aaron Tap so intently to accurately follow along with the clapping.  Heh - I have abysmal rhythm, but I managed to do okay last night.  Amongst all of these songs, we did get to see Aaron play the ever loving shit out of his guitar, which was (of course) my favorite thing.  To the delight of everyone, they also covered Tom Petty's American Girl.  As we all know, Tom Petty is untouchable, but they rocked that fucking song.  Andrew McMahon joined them on stage for it and those few minutes of music absolutely melted our faces.  Amazing.  

Earlier in the evening, Andrew came back out on stage to give some piano support for the not frequently played Last Days of Summer in San Francisco.  Matt wasn't quite as chatty as the last time we saw him, but we did get some back story on several songs and this particular one was heartbreaking.  While most all of his songs are real and honest, it's not that often that we get a glimpse of the current internal state of the artists we're watching.  We got that last night and as they played that song, it was all over their faces and it was a touching and beautiful gift they gave us.  He also played his cover of Dire Straits' Romeo and Juliet, which we all know from At the Point.  It's such a great song and Matt totally does it justice.  He dipped back in the catalogue and played us some acoustic classics from past records such as Still, Angel and Suspended.  Even amongst all the powerful rock they were playing last night, these songs are still able to instantly create an entirely different atmosphere.  The room becomes quiet, transcendent and wonderful.  He closed with what he calls "the hit", Come on Get Higher.  Sure, it's a crowd favorite and it's a beautiful song, to be sure, but I think All We Are casts a more magical spell.  It's cool though, both are incredible songs that leave a calm, peaceful feeling in your soul as he sends you back out into the world.

Once again, for nearly two hours, everything outside that room ceased to exist.  It becomes just you, the artists on stage and the feel of the drum in your chest.  Everything else drops away and becomes completely insignificant.  All in all, the night was a great illustration of Matt's ever-expanding range as a performer.  I would be remiss if I neglected to mention that I finally got to meet Matt for the first time last night (as evidenced by the above picture).  How cool is it that he still did a meet and greet even though they then had to drive 12 hours to Virginia to play again tonight?  He was every bit as friendly and gracious as everyone had told me he is, in spite of the fact that I was all shaky and nervous and weird(er than usual).  So that was kind of beyond awesome. 

Next up for us are Amanda Shires Isbell, The Black Keys and Carbon Leaf.  I'm hoping for a Dr. Dog show in the near future, but that's not in the cards just yet.  Matt mentioned a potential fall album release too, so I'm super excited at the prospect of another show in the fall!!  :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Happy Birthday, White Horse!

Today, one of my favorite albums of all time turns two years old.  Ryan Schmidt's White Horse EP was released the day before my birthday and with it's intelligent lyrics, stunning vocals, finger picked guitar, and Paula Kelley string arrangements, it is definitely my favorite accidental birthday present ever.  Even though it's only been around for two years, this album (and one song in particular) has been very important to me.

When White Horse EP came out, I was in a pretty bad situation career-wise and change was looming on the horizon.  I knew that change was imminent and that always freaks me out.  I listened to this album every single day on the way to work for months.  It was just such a calm, serene place to spend my mornings, it made it possible for me to face the days.  Then on the way home, I would listen to it again to clear my mind and shake loose the day.  It was quite literally this and two Betty Goo albums that got me through those last few miserable months at that job. 

Several months after White Horse EP came out, the aforementioned change came into my life and I had to make some decisions.  When I decided to do what I felt was going to make me happiest in my everyday life and not necessarily what was the most popular decision or the one everybody around me understood, I needed support.  I found that support in a little song called "Go Where You Belong".  This is far and away my favorite song on White Horse EP and probably my favorite Ryan Schmidt song, period.  When I started my new job, I made it a point to listen to "Go Where You Belong" last thing every morning before I got out of the car.  It's kind of my own 'lucky song'.  Whenever I need a little boost, a little encouragement, I listen to this song, sometimes several times in a row.  As a matter of fact, I fully intend to have a bit of the lyrics tattooed on me next time I get inked.

So, Happy Birthday, White Horse!!  And Congratulations, Ryan, on the 2 year anniversary of having made the world a more beautiful sounding place. 

For everyone else, here's a link of where you can buy White Horse EP (I tried to embed it, but for some reason that wouldn't work for me), but trust me, one little click is not too much effort.  You can also go there and listen to the entire album and many of Ryan's other releases as well, including his newest stuff, which I would highly recommend doing.