It is September 11, 2012. The previous year I visited the former 9/11 Twin Towers site in New York City, I brought a letter to make an official statement of reflection and rebirth for all people concerned. Yet this year I sit in the heart of Yorkville, quite purposefully at Bellair, recording a video in relation to the Toronto International Film Festival on the topic of the role of spy agencies within global communications and feature films.
When I recently attended a marketing conference in Boston, HubSpot’s INBOUND 2012 to be more specific, the last thing I expected to see on the massive screen during a keynote was reference to Amanda Palmer. SXSW has traditionally led in terms of melding the natural marriage between the music and digital worlds, but to see it in this forum seemed foreign. Although it made a bit of sense, considering Boston is one of a few cities that Amanda calls home, I couldn’t help but wonder how many in the audience were familiar with her work as a solo artist or of her days with the Dresden Dolls, which seems like another lifetime ago.
In the equivalent of the sweat tent that threw James Ray into the slammer, the Shacklewell Arms in London’s East End, Captured Tracks darlings Dignan Porch and DIIV performed to a packed sardine house. When Shacklewell sells out, they mean it. I’m seriously talking no-room-to-spare, made possible by the emphatic splash these bands are making across the pond (and the U.S., for that matter).
A little less than one year ago Aesop Rock was hitting the road for the Hail Mary Mallon Tour, a collaboration with Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz, his first project on his new label home, Rhymesayers, after El-P put Def Jux on infinite hold. Aesop returns with his own baby, Skelethon, the sixth in his lyrical-song-making career, and what a bouncy baby it is.
While Madonna is known as the mother of reinvention, Liars do more than costume and hair-do changes – they come at your ears with a whole new sonic persona, one that surprises and delights while challenging you in wonderful ways. Case in point, WIXIW, an album title that causes one to pause at the pronunciation. For the record, it’s “wish you,” as in, wish you would explain that one.
It was early this morning when I saw Yuck on Twitter, prepping fans for the release of a new single, “Chew,” right in time for the band’s appearance at Coachella this weekend.
The jewel of any city, whether you’re in Cleveland, Omaha, New York, Portland(ia), or here in Denver, is the art house movie theater. It is where one can experience unique and tantalizing events that celebrate creativity and ingenuity without the need for 3D glasses or servings of oil-soaked popcorn that could feed a circus. Here in Denver that oasis is Denver Film Center ala the Denver Film Society (DFS), and this Thursday and Friday (April 12 and April 13) DFS presents music and Beatles fanatics with an opportunity to be schooled on the making of songwriting history. This weekend you can partake in “Deconstructing THE BEATLES.”
When I first saw We Were Promised Jetpacks perform it was SXSW 2010 at the Fader Fort party and in the light of day. It was a raucous set no doubt, but this night at SXSW, on stage of the Red 7 patio, the Scottish band’s energy was frenetic.
It was good news to learn that Dickies had once again secured their party abode at SXSW within the neighborhood-houses-meets-bar-zone area that has continued to evolve over the past few years. As I watched the stage being set for Minneapolis’ Howler, I went back to December of 2011 when I first heard the band’s “Back of Your Neck” track on Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable session on BBC6Music.
It was two years ago at SXSW 2010 when I first laid ears on Band of Skulls, just after the release of the band’s first album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey. Within the studios of Austin City Limits at the NPR SXSW Party, Band of Skulls more than wow’d the attendees, the group from Southhampton launched their way into the hearts of American music lovers. In 2012, Skulls returned with a new album, Sweet Sour, to continue that love affair through a series of gigs, including the annual Filter SXSW Showdown party at Cedar Street.
Wednesday night I arrived at The Haven, which was more than packed with close strangers and some fine friends from Denver. Slinking to the side stage I found a spot of breathing room just as the instruments were tuned and ready for Russell Marsden (guitar,vocals), Emma Richardson (bass, vocals), and Matt Hayward (drums) to take the stage.
Plucking songs from the new album, including the sultry title track, “Sweet Sour,” and the single “The Devil Takes Care of Its Own,” the trio worked the heads in the crowd like a puppeteer, making them shake to and fro. And when the fan favorites from Baby Darling… arrived off the set list – “Death By Diamonds and Pearls” and “I Know What I Am” – smiles and sing-a-longs ensued.
In the light of day within Cedar Street, Filter continued their Showdown tradition in the same spot with yet another stellar line up for the three days. This being the first day, and as this party’s reputation had grown over the years, Cedar was at capacity an hour before Band of Skulls was set to perform.
With a slightly shorter set the band made the most of their time, and again, fans in the crowd hung onto and sung along with every word and note.
Band of Skulls, as many other bands plan to do post-SXSW, stay on the road to tour the U.S. This includes a stop in Denver on Friday, April 6 at the Bluebird Theatre (update: was moved from the Ogden), and I’m crossing fingers that more tracks from the new album will be part of the set list; songs that twinkle with a more reflective side of the Skulls’ sound, including “Hometowns,” "Close to Nowhere," and “Navigate,” along with alternative leanings of “Wanderluster” and “Bruises.”
Either way, expect “the show as packed” to be part of any post-show conversation relating to those who venture to see Band of Skulls. And rightly so.
03/16/12 - Houston at Fitzgeralds
03/17/12 - Dallas at Granada Theater
03/19/12 - Atlanta at Variety Playhouse
03/20/12 - Nashville at Cannery Ballroom
03/22/12 - Webster Hall at New York
03/23/12 - Philadelphia at Union Transfer
03/24/12 - Washington, D.C. at 9:30 Club
03/26/12 - Boston at Paradise Rock Club
03/27/12 - Brooklyn at Music Hall of Williamsburg
03/28/12 - Pawtucket at The Met
03/30/12 - Toronto at The Phoenix Concert Theatre
04/02/12 - Detroit at Saint Andrews Hall
04/03/12 - Chicago at House of Blues Chicago
04/04/12 - Minneapolis at Fine Line Music Cafe
04/06/12 - Denver at Bluebird
04/07/12 - Salt Lake City at The Complex (Grand Room)
04/09/12 - Seattle at Neptune
04/10/12 - Vancouver at Commodore Ballroom - SOLD OUT
04/11/12 - Portland at Dante’s - SOLD OUT
04/12/12 - San Francisco at The Fillmore
04/15/12 - Indio at Coachella
04/16/12 - Los Angeles at El Rey - SOLD OUT
04/18/12 - San Diego at The Griffin
04/22/12 - Indio at Coachella