Reviews in 200 Words

Archive for the ‘Concert’ Category

Torches, Foster the People

In Album, Concert, podcast on October 7, 2011 at 9:09 am

Don’t dismiss this as techno: it’s not. This is as interesting as The Temper Tramp and Neon Trees and Band of Horses. They’re poppy but they’re also throw-back. You’ll get glimpses of the 70’s disco ball here. Sure, you can dance to this stuff—workout and whatever—but it’s more than just a strong beat. It’s falsetto and electronic and rock, but somehow easy to listen to. The kind of thing you play at a party and have everyone noticeably happy. “Pumped up Kicks” is one of the more popular tracks, but rightfully so: it makes you wait almost too long to get in. And then it gives that narrative that isn’t as cheerful as the beat suggests. Mark Foster is doing things—subtly. It’s no surprise that these guys are almost artificially attractive: synthesized good looks. Of course they fell into fame—they’re the cool kids at school, but, the ones you can’t help liking, can’t help having a crush on. “Miss You,” one of the lesser- played songs on the album, lends itself to a memorable echo-beat that almost loses itself, but then ends starkly for a perfect transition into the final track, “Warrant.” Keep an eye on these guys: how can you not?

-Micah Ling

Check out our review of the Foster the People concert in Indianapolis via NUVO.

Video from the Indianapolis concert.

And of course, the latest podcast via iTunes! 

Summer Concert Round-up

In Concert on August 16, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Fear not! Summer is NOT over…we’re just preparing for fall shows and thought we’d catch you up on what we’ve seen so far in Indiana with our SUMMER CONCERT ROUND-UP…

Iron and Wine/The Head and The Heart: The Vogue, Indianapolis

Unbelievably, Iron and Wine was less than awesome. Sure, the sound sucked and the crowd was hot and chatty, but the band just didn’t battle it out the way you hope they always will. The Head and The Heart opened strong, but even they kept it safe. So much depends upon venue and crowd.

Those Darlins/The Hollows: Radio Radio, Indianapolis

Radio Radio is always a tough place to play: people seem to be there just to hang out–sometimes even act like the music is in the way–but these bands held their own. This is where Justin Townes Earle got into a fight and was thrown in jail. But tonight was different, way different. This is what local music is about–musicians working their asses off and loving it. Or, appearing to. They earned respect.

Steve Earle: Buskirk-Chumley, Bloomington

Steve Earle always acts like today is his second chance at life; and sometimes, most times, that’s a pretty good way to look at things. These guys played and played, and while they looked a little awkward on stage, like they were using as much space as possible just because it was there, the show still rocked, and rocked, and rocked.

Bon Iver/The Rosebuds: The Murat, Indianapolis

There’s no way around this: best show ever. Justin Vernon was either acting really well, or was just in love with this crowd. The fans were silent when they were supposed to be and roaring when necessary. Every moment of this was like fireworks. The Rosebuds earned their keep, but at the end of the night, everyone kind of just wanted Bon Iver to do it all again.

Fort Frances (David McMillin): Radio Radio, Indianapolis

David McMillin looks Amish; but, head-banging Amish. They covered Radiohead’s “Karma Police;” really well. McMillin kept saying that they had been on touring for a while, but they sure didn’t seem tired. Things started late, and they rallied the crowd with so much energy that time drifted away.

The Head and The Heart: Earth House Collective, Indianapolis

The Decemberists canceled the show that The Head and The Heart were supposed to open for…the morning of. These guys scrambled a gig together with the good help of Indianapolis fans, and people showed up. This old church was packed and sweaty and pumped-up. They certainly out-did their performance with Iron and Wine. They genuinely belted it out.

Simon Flory, Lazy Daze Coffe House, Indianapolis

When a guy tells you he sold his truck and his pistol in order to put his record out…well, you might as well listen a while. And when it’s Simon Flory, it’s worth it. He’s young, but he’s already seen some things, and learned how to pick a banjo, and just about anything else you can imagine. This is summertime in the Midwest.

Phish, Charlotte, NC, 6/17/11

In Concert, Music Festival, Uncategorized on June 29, 2011 at 2:07 pm

This isn’t about punchlines.

We know: Endless songs. Noodly guitars. Spilled beers and dreadlocks and the idiots who took too much. No, not that.

Nor is it about people dropping whatever they’re doing (if only for a weekend), traveling miles to see a band they’ve seen 25, 50, 150 times – a band that’s been on the road for 30 years, accumulating as many detractors as they have fans.

It’s about novelty and the chase. It’s about logging dozens of shows, across dozens of years, hoping for one song. It’s about finally hearing that song on a muggy night in the most unlikely of places.

In a world of artificially shared experiences, it’s about standing in a field with twenty thousands people for one reason.


Many people could not care less about Phish. This isn’t about them. This is about the people who do care – the people who were there one night in North Carolina when all bets were off. This is about a brilliant show, satisfaction guaranteed.

It’s about holding on to something once meaningful and finding it’s still there. It’s about wondering “Can I still have fun?” and finding the answer is yes, yes – unequivocally, yes.

Phish – 6/17/11 “Jam > Ghost” from Phish on Vimeo.

Click here to download this week’s official Beat Jab Podcast, featuring a look at the Phish show in Charlotte, NC. And don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast through iTunes. Click here to subscribe, or search “beat jab” at the iTunes store.

Arcade Fire, The National at Pepsi Coliseum

In Concert on May 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm
Midway through Arcade Fire’s set, Win Butler jokes that opening bands aren’t supposed to be as good as The National. Something about the sound is just a little muffled for the first band, but, nevertheless, The National is good–and yes, better than “opening band” good. This seems to be the tone for the night: less about showing off a perfect sound and more about teaching the audience a thing or two about music and art. It’s like both bands are saying, “watch what can be done with these instruments!” The National flaunts the trumpet and trombone like you’ve never seen–right out front. Arcade Fire rocks two sets of drums, the violin, the keyboard, and on and on. The thing about Arcade Fire that’s remarkable, live, is that they’re rehearsed and flawless but not cookie-cutter. It’s an experience so far beyond listening to their albums that you might think you’ve never heard these songs before. Heightened versions. This show is supposed to be outdoors, and as tornadoes dot the area, Arcade Fire and The National collaborate for “Ocean of Noise,” and it matches the intensity of the weather. 
-Micah Ling

Click here to download this week’s official Beat Jab Podcast. This week Jay Cullis checks out Arcade Fire and their influences (including The E Street Band and Talking Heads).

Prince, live at the RBC Center, Raleigh, NC, 3/23/11

In Concert on March 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm

How many people in the world wish they would have seen MJ before it was too late? Don’t make the same mistake with Prince.

“Y’all know how many hits I got?” he asked the crowd before flitting across a medley of his Top 40 singles. Lingering briefly on instantly recognizable verses, it took the man about 10 minutes to finally rip open a full song. What ensued was a non-stop clinic in funk punctuated only by a brief costume change.

Other things are certain too: The man is an entertainer. He’s pure sexuality, precise rhythm and ecstatic joy. Even his obscure music is amazing. Knowing the hits doesn’t preclude you from joining the party.

And what a party. Good god.

When he returned to the stage for the second half of the set (clad in a creamy pajama set) the arena took flight. An extended riff on Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” saw two dozen audience members take the stage for a dance party. “1999,” “Little Red Corvette,” and a brain-melting, 10-minute “Purple Rain” closed it out. Enough said. (You can read other recaps on your own.)

What you need to know is this: See Prince.

The Rural Alberta Advantage, live at Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC, 3/14/11

In Concert on March 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

It’s a delicate thing, love. Wanting it, getting it, trying to hold onto it – it’s all about balance. It’ll slip away if your grip’s too slack. It’ll break if you squeeze too tightly. And like a cracked egg puddling in your open palm, love is a messy thing. And a challenge. And maybe it’s impossible – like trying to slide the yolk back inside a broken shell.

The RAA’s new album is called “Departing,” and some say it’s a departure from their first, amazing, arresting album. With more room to breathe, some have called it a step back.

On stage, though, the songs are nothing but forward motion, propelled by bandsaw strumming and the most furious drumming in indie rock. Setting up their gear preshow the band seemed irritated. The tension was palpable, like we were witnessing a lover’s quarrel.

And maybe we were. Because that’s where this band resides – right there, a messy puddle in a hand chapped raw by a Canadian winter. These songs reside in the place between whole and part, between make up and break up, tension and release, residing and departed. Right there in the present participle: departing.

Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt, Indianapolis, IN

In Concert on February 13, 2011 at 5:55 am
If you’ve never seen Lyle Lovett perform live: say, from the fourth row of a not-too-large-venue, you should, as soon as possible. This man is a poet; but not just with words: every sound is planned and clean and severe. He makes you absolutely fall in love–makes you want to be in his songs. His posture is timid–he looks like a child when he’s not playing–waiting his turn, with a big toy (guitar) under his arms. But then he demands attention. It’s okay to have a crush on this man. And then there’s Hiatt: like a more approachable, easy to talk to Dylan. This man is in his hometown, and even though he hasn’t been back in awhile, they love him. Lovett and Hiatt take turns playing songs, sometimes collaborate, and it’s like watching two kids jamming in the basement. “LA County,” “If I Had a Boat,” and “Fiona,” are better than on any album. Hiatt’s hits are unending. These guys seem like best friends. But ones who haven’t seen each other for a long time—almost gitty to get down. 

-Micah Ling

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band at the Bishop: Bloomington, IN

In Concert on October 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Find a chilly ocean cabin casing a high jagged cliff. Stoke the stove and light the black soot wick of an oil lamp. Listen to Benjamin Verdoes tell the story of overcoming the grinding fear and entrapment. There were always, and will always be ghosts looking for an open door. His narrative, her shamanic dances, slapping keys, and the echoes of fingertips will carry them back home. 
The hungry drumming of Marshall Verdoes gives you the confidence to take this dark leap. Like the vest of a father’s open arms, the rosy cheek of a mother’s hum, and the well-trodden footsteps of an older brother. 
This ocean is unpredictably restrained, the wind howls, and the black sea begins a tantrum. It is so familiar to its polished shores.
When the music empties the swollen cavity in your heart, and the cold air rushes through the flue, they will all hold your hand. This ensemble beats and chops hard inside your ribcage; it bends and tames the fire in your eyes.  These are not doldrums, they are instructions. They will teach you how to overcome your darkest fears, and you will ask them to tell the story again.    


-Nate Jackson

Justin Townes Earle: Indianapolis, IN

In Concert on September 22, 2010 at 11:44 am

This guy has got a lot to live up to: the namesake of Townes Van Zandt and the son of Steve Earle…those are already some significant shoes to tie up, and he’s only twenty eight years old. But Radio Radio is hip as ever and people seem to be there to be seen, to sip cocktails and revel in their tattooed selves. Everyone looks good. It’s outside of the city enough, small enough, and dark enough to make you feel like you’re somewhere significant–like you’ve made the list. After an unimpressive opening by Jessica Lea Mayfield, Justin Townes Earle takes the stage with bass and fiddle players; he cradles a guitar like he’s been doing this forever–this man feels more comfortable on the stage than off. “Mama’s Eyes,” is remarkably smooth–it makes you want to weep; it makes you wonder what he got from his father. And then that wonder is realized: things turn weird, and drunk. These are the things that happen to musicians. The crowd is loud, people are buzzed and taunting and it all hits the stage wrong. At the end of the set, Earle dashes out with Mayfield and no encore, except a fight in the street. These things happen; sometimes you see them. 

-Micah Ling

Kings of Leon/Black Keys Concert: Indianapolis

In Concert on September 9, 2010 at 3:25 am

Fall is finally within sight. It’s cool and breezy in Indiana as the sun sets and the Black Keys begin to rock. These guys are from Akron, Ohio and hide it well. They’re jamming and the crowd is with them, but the screens aren’t on yet–it’s still too light out–and they seem very much like an opening act. An opening act that impresses but doesn’t overwhelm. Tasteful, sharp; almost on the side of boxed. And then the show starts. Verizon Wireless isn’t sold-out, but by now, it’s pretty much packed. There are fireworks and a wall of lights extracted from old cars. It feels like a rock concert should feel. Caleb Followill looks like a rock-star should look. They feature new songs right away: from their upcoming release (October 19), “Sundown.” New songs tend not to go over so well at concerts–people want to sing along, they want to cheer for their favorites. True tonight as well, but the new ones make an impression–they’re soon going to become known. They’ll soon be shouted, off-tune, but that’s okay. This is why we come to concerts: we have in common this appreciation for the drums and the rock and the lyrics about our lives.

-Micah Ling