Monday, June 23, 2014

Musical Monday: The Jezabels Concert Review

By my count this it the 50th Musical Monday post, it only took a dash over two years to get to this milestone (see the first one here, sidenote: the first Musical Monday actually got published on a Tuesday)... here's hoping we reach 100 before 2016!

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming:

Last week I saw the Australian pop-rock band The Jezabels in concert at the Rock & Roll Hotel.

Now before you go thinking I go to awesome rock shows every week, I had bought the tickets awhile ago for a date in mid-April. Sometime in March, the band announced it would be postponing the concert date and that all rickets would be good for the new June 18th date. Turns out their Australian tour ended up getting extended in some way and they also headlined the Sydney Opera House(!!!), which is why we had to wait a few extra months to see them stateside. It was definitely worth the wait.

Opening Act: Gold & Youth
Gold & Youth is a band from Vancouver, BC (where I'll be in 2 weeks, what a coincidence!) who are currently on a (inter)national tour on Canada & the US. I had heard them on KEXP somewhat recently and was pleasantly surprised to find them opening this show.

A modern version of 80s synth pop, my friend thought they sounded a bit like The Cure and other bands of that era.  They shared vocals between band members which adds a depth to their sound. Their set was tight, well-executed and sounded great.

Here's a look at their 2013 Album Beyond Wilderness

The Jezabels
There was supposed to be a 12 second video of the concert but blogger was being difficult.

Their show was polished, professional and deserving of a larger venue.  They sounded absolutely fantastic live and the vocals by Haley Mary were powerful and emotive, and were sometimes accompanied by keyboardist Heather Shannon. Nik Kaloper played heart-pounding rhythms on the drums and Sam Lockwood brought the rock & roll with his guitar.

They describe their music as "intensindie" and and brought that sort of intensity to playing their show.  The band got right to playing and there was very little if any, banter towards the audience and I don't even remember them introducing the individual band-members, the music itself was entertaining enough.  Haley Mary and guitarist Sam Lockwood had a few choice dance moves, but unfortunately the stage was small enough, there really wasn't a lot of room for movement.

Here's a look at the video for their latest single look Look of Love from their 2014 album The Brink

Look of Love turned out to be one of my favorites live, as during various chorus repeats Haley would lose herself to the music and start spinning, with one arm waving freely along to the music. While I admired the professionalism they brought, it was the spontaneity of moments like this that were the highlights of the night. If they make it back to the States, they're definitely one to catch live!

Here's what I first posted about them in 2012 for their video to the single Endless Summer:
Epic drumbeats, a ridiculous vocal range, passionately ambiguous but dark/nostalgic lyrics, means it must be the Jezabels. The video is just as epic w/ a cinematic Beauty & the Beast-esque storyline, horses, & Australian ranch.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Foto Friday: Smithsonion Roses

So there's a rose garden outside the Smithsonian castle. I discovered it when rushing past it every kickball game this spring, jogging by to make it to the game on time, wishing I could snap a few pictures. I normally get out of work too late to do so, and would shoot a longing glance at the garden between checking my watch and trying to find my team on the national mall.

Luckily, a tornado watch and power flicker got me out of work early last week (I know, counter-intuitive to leave a building to go run in an open field during a potential tornado time but we all survived, so lesson not learned I guess), and I was finally able to get some pictures.

All pictures taken with my iPhone 4S & edited with Camera+

These were my absolute favorite, they reminds me of flowers in a Van Gogh come to life:

Now add some Picasso "Blue Period"

I'm always astonished by the simple beauty of flowers. Some people have sunsets, some people have vistas, some people have the ocean, and while those can equally take my breath away, the everyday flower, when examined more closely is such a reminder of The Creator's intention and design in such detail, it's easier to start seeing the other beautiful things surrounding me in the world (plus having professionally cultivate gardens I can visit which are so gorgeous  just makes it seem a waste not to photograph them)

Thanks for letting me share my mini-obsession with you!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Musical Monday: MS MR (stands for Must See Musical peRformance)

On Tuesday last week I went to see MS MR at the 9:30 club with my friend Melissa.  You can check out her *official* review over at BYT

Here's where you can stream MS MR's album Secondhand Rapture from Soundcloud:

Opening Act

The Preatures opened up the night, and we go there to see about half of their set.  A female-vocalist with 2 guitars, a bass, and a drummer, the Preatures had a great retro, upbeat sound. Isabella Manfredi led the band with fantastic vocals, especially when she and the two guitarists sang together, for some layered harmonies. There were also some great guitar shredding solos but throughout the  whole performance I couldn't decide how much was genuine joy/movement and how much was a performance as there were periods, especially in the slower/more emotional songs that seemed a bit over-acted.

I didn't take any pictures of the Preatures because by the time we had gotten there Ms. Manfredi had taken off her long sleeve button up shirt and had a see-through white tee with nothing underneath (and I try to keep this blog SFW). Maybe that's why I felt like parts of the performance were contrived, as some quick research showed this was an intentional clothing choice she had made before, but as Melissa told me "this is Rock & Roll" so maybe I'm not as hardcore as I thought, since I would have preferred not to see her boobs.


(Not any great pictures but you can head over to the link near the top to see what the professional photographer took)

True story, I tried to see them at the Black Cat last fall for my birthday, and in a minor protest on the "service fees" which cost more than half the tickets decided to buy tickets at the door, but tickets sold out the morning of the concert. However, while it would have been a more intimate performance last fall, I'm glad to have benefited from the awesome acoustics of the 9:30 Club.

Here's the video for Fantasy, which is the first song of theirs I heard/saw on the blog You Me & Charlie. As Melissa points out in her BYT review, it's mesmerizing in its glittery bitterness (warning, if you can't handle cheerleaders puking glitter, this is not the video for you):

The Ms. and Mr. of MS MR are Ms. Lizzie Plapinger and Mr. Max Hershenow. They brought a ton of energy to the performance and played, sang, danced, rocked, and rolled with an genuine jubilation. They were entertaining to watch, even in their banter to the crowd and between each other. Thier personalities were want any listener of their reflective dark-yet-peppy-emo-pop would expect while their dance skills far exceeded my expectations.

They had another instrumentalist/back-up singer and a drummer to help fill their sound which worked great in a mid-size venue like the 9:30 club.  While I have no doubt Lizzie's full-yet-raspy vocals could fill a room, they songs benefited from the extra boost. They let us all know before the last song Hurricane there would be no encore because "honestly, they don;t have that much material," which worked out nicely since it was a weekday concert.

I was presently surprised to find one of my favorites, Ash Tree Lane, was actually the first song they wrote.  Notably, they also performed a cover of The Arctic Monkey's Do I Wanna Know which Melissa and I both agreed was better than the original and I thought that hearing it sung by a female vocalist gives the lyrics a moving sadness and the song a vulnerability that's not there in the original version.

Overall, it was a wonderful concert by two musicians whose gracious attitude at playing their sixth show (and FIRST headline) at the 9:30 club brought an infectious energy that captured the ears, eyes, and (dare I be cheesy enough to say it, yes I dare) hearts of the audience.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Foto Friday: Flowers, Filters & lensFlare

Foto Friday returns to it's roots with flowers galore, even better it's essentially all the same flower, just with different angles filters & edits to make things more interesting. I love how looking at one thing from so many different views produces something new and sometimes completely unexpected (although if this bores you wait until next week when I have a bigger variety, that right folks, I've planned ahead for once!).

All photos taken with my iPhone 4S & edited in Camera+