Sunday, August 23, 2009

End O' The Decade Announcement: I'm a 2000 Man

There have only been 38 posts to this blog in 2009. Is that small number any way to wrap up the first decade of the millennium? Child please! In order to remedy this situation, BIBJ is going to be putting up at least one new post each day, for 100 consecutive days, starting September 1st. Each of these posts will be centered around an individual track that has a spot in the official BIBJ 100-song Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo.™

Some notes to consider:
  • Each track will be ranked from #1-100. But really, once you get outside the top 15 or 20, they're all pretty even. Let's be honest. When it comes to countdowns, #30 isn't ever that much better than #84.
  • To that end, the rollout will take place in random order. #72 could come the day after #41 and the day before #9.
  • According the by-laws that I have just invented for myself, a band can appear in multiple entries. However, only one song per album can make the list. Otherwise, you'd likely see 8 different posts from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
  • The content of some posts may have very little/nothing to do with the featured track. In fact, this will likely be the case on several of these. Sometimes unrelated stories/haikus/links to Ralph Fiennes' comedic stylings are more entertaining than further deconstructing the greatness of The New Pornographers.
  • I've noticed while compiling songs that there are several tracks that I really liked once upon a time (and still objectively view as very good) but long ago reached the point of saturation where I'd be fine never hearing them again. That's the worst, isn't it? I mean it's not enough that the new Michael Moore doc looks like a dated, sub-par Frontline episode, but he also has to become the 10,000th person to use "Paper Planes" in a damn movie trailer? What an asshole, this guy. But I digress.
So this is the end of the '00s project. Will it be successful? Or will it crumble by the 3rd week? Does it really matter either way? Probably not!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Bad Idea Show Review: Fleet Foxes at Metro

Last year's Lollapalooza was basically perfect, lineup-wise as well as weather-wise. This year's lineup left me wholeheartedly underwhlemed, so instead of dealing with Friday's rain and the sweltering humidity of Saturday and Sunday, I opted for two shows at the Metro instead: The Decemberists on Thursday and Fleet Foxes on Saturday. As the Indy Decemberists review below points out, they're swinging for the fences these days (and they opened with the 18-minute epic The Tain on Thursday.) Also, I would like to publicly petition that the "Diamond" duo vocalists be present as much as possible, and perhaps turn this band into America's supergroup answer to the New Pornographers.

But on to Saturday night. We walked in just before 11pm as openers Dungen were taking the stage. Dungen are from Sweden, and as such, all their lyrics are sung in Swedish. This makes for an enjoyable time of guessing what their lyrics are about. I'm guessing most revolve around fun bike rides, or any activity related to fjords. But then again, they could just as likely be anti-semitic screeds. Who knows? They vacillated between airy pop melodies and full-blown psychedlia, and I believe they are the first rock band I've ever seen incorporate the flute so heavily.

It should be pointed out that the Metro felt like a damn oven Saturday night. The fans were on, but made no difference. The air was humid, stagnant, and unrelenting, leaving all in attendance sweltering to a particularly uncomfortable degree. By the time Fleet Foxes took the stage a bit after midnight, My clothes felt at least five pounds heavier. One could easily surmise that if I was that sweaty, it had to be much worse for the flannel-clad, hirsute band on stage.

Robin Pecknold has apparently been quite sick with a nasty fever lately, and mentioned a couple songs into the set that he had been ingesting an Advil/Dayquil cocktail that he discouraged anyone else from attempting. Despite the fact that he looked like a man constantly on the verge of passing out, he never removed his flannel shirt. That's dedication to the image my friend.

Fortunately the fever had no bearing whatsoever on the vocals, which of course is the staple of the band's short, but quickly growing, legend. The four-parts soared through the set without ever hitting a stray note. The crowd that started off subdued at the beginning of the set got progressively louder in sing-a-longs throughout the set, feeding off the energy of the bearded harmonizers sweating their asses off while belting through an 80-minute set. I don't have the setlist, but suffice it to say they played everything you would want to hear from their album and EP, as well as a couple excellent-sounding new songs.

Last year's Fleet Foxes set at Pitchfork impressed in respect to their ability to match the pristine performance created in the studio. But the band's growth from last year to this one cannot be ignored. The performances sound fuller, with an energy and confidence that goes above and beyond what they've laid down on tape. The vocals are belted out with more passion and they're that much more engaging as a result. The natural assumption would be that a year on the road had simply given them the confidence to take chances and experiment with a solid foundation. But I attribute it to Robin Pecknold completely abandoning the whole "sitting down on stage" act. Technicians can sit, but rock stars have to stand. Even when the potential for heat stroke is staring them in the face.

Bad Idea Show Review: The Decemberists at the Murat Egyptian Room

Last night, the Decemberists made their first trip to Indianapolis. I was pumped for a few reasons:

#1: They're probably in my current top 5 favorite bands
#2: I'd only seen them one other time
#3: As a high school English teacher, I appreciate their high vocabulary and obsession with British folk tales
#4: It was on the same night as my best friend's bachelorette party.

side note regarding #4: Yes, I planned a bachelorette party. I'm her best man. It's nothing like that Patrick Dempsey movie. And it didn't involve plastic penises of any kind.

So, after a lovely bachelorette dinner that involved no "woo-ing" of any kind (the other bachelorette party that did include plastic penises woo-ed enough for the both of us), we headed in just as the Heartless Bastards got started.

I knew nothing of this band going in, but I thought they brought it. Admittedly, as we walked into the Egyptian Room and heard the lead singer's voice, we kept looking at the drummer, guitarist, and bassist, wondering how those guys were singing without moving their lips or standing in front of a mic. Then we realized that the lead singer was the girl on stage. She just sounded like a man. Still, it rocked. But it just didn't look right, that voice coming from that body. But if they're good enough for Letterman, they're good enough for me.

After the customary intermission, the Decemberists made their way to the stage. They had played Lollapalooza the previous night, and were continuing their current habit of playing two sets. The first would be a performance of their latest album The Hazards of Love in its entirety. While some critics weren't impressed with their attempt at a 50-minute song about forest queens and baby killers, I love the album, and seeing it performed live was more like watching a play. It was strange to not clap after each song, since so many of them blended together, faded away, and came back 20 minutes later. The crowd seemed to applaud for feats of musical strength, rather than the end of songs. Wicked xylophone solo? HERE HERE!! HAR HAR!! psychodelic guitar freak-out? HERE HERE!! HAR HAR!! Shara Worden charging to the front of the stage and shaking the Egyptian tombdwellers back to life? HERE HERE!! HAR HAR!!

A quick note on Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. I know of her band. I think I even have a couple albums on my iPod. She's a labelmate of my boyzzz Jookabox. But I've never listened. Well, her performance stole the show from the Decemberists. It was loud. It was passionate. It won me over. Becky Stark, though her performance as Margaret looked a bit too much like a Woodstock attendee tripping on acid, impressed with her voice as well.

I imagine that those fans unfamiliar with the album may have found themselves bored at times, but not this guy.

After intermission, they returned for their 2nd set. Luckily, I was texting each song as they played to a buddy that couldn't attend the show, so I can recall the set list:

Set 1:
The Hazards of Love (the whole darn thing)

Set 2:
July, July (in my top 5 Decemberists songs)
Billy Liar (complete with Colin-directed audience group harmonizing)
The Sporting Life
Down By the Water (new song, Colin had a harmonica, so that was neat)
The Crane Wife 3
Yankee Bayonet
**Dracula's Daughter (worst song Colin ever wrote)
O Valencia
Crazy On You (Heart cover)

Raincoat Song
Sons and Daughters ( 5)

**Colin released a live album with a recording of this song. He tells a story of it being the worst song he ever wrote. That's why it's only one verse long. But tonight, he told some meandering story about how it was so bad that God cried when he wrote it. And those tears formed the Nile River. And civilizations thrived around that river. And those societies eventually died through conflict and war. But then an Indianapolis explorer found one of their ancient Egyptian ballrooms in perfect condition.....and transported it to his hometown. Then we laughed. I've noticed this tendency of bands that play the Egyptian Room to mention its uniqueness. I guess growing up here, I assumed most concert venues had a theme that can also be found at the Sybaris.

Sadly, there was no 2nd encore, which would have likely brought the Mariner's Revenge Song, which I've yet to see (and scream) live. But alas, you can't win 'em all.

Highlights of the show:
  • The Rake Song (infanticide never sounded so booming)
  • the Heart cover (the Diamond gals killed it)
  • Sons and Daughters (I get chills just watching this crappy youtube recording....complete with woo girls.....aaaaaaaand full circle!!!)