I could tell you about how awesome The Ponys sounded at their Bowery Ballroom gig on Monday, but why bother? I'm an interested party obviously, so if I call them the best parts of the Rolling Stones, Television, and Thurston Moore-penned Sonic Youth sewn together in a Frankenstein's monster-sized dose of R-O-C-K in the USA, it's just not going to have the same impact as when Billy Blogger steals that line in three weeks.
Instead, I'll let a picture do the talking. Ladies and Gentleman, let your eyes drift upward to the image of Ponys mainman Jered Gummere howling out "Turn The Lights Out" while covered in silly string. Note how he's playing the keys so hard his right hand is apparently generating a circle of light. Bear in mind that this was only three songs in to the set, and the evening only got more rockin' from there.
During a recent idle hour on YouTube, I came across an item that therefore caused me no end of amazement. As part of their ongoing quest to bury the memory of the camp, sprightly little pop group who authored such pearls as Mr Brightside, The Killers were captured - on More 4's Live From Abbey Road - reverentially covering the Straits' aforementioned bit of Shakespearian wonderment, attempting to mimic the Knopf's self-taught finger-plucking genius (no chance), and talking about their distant childhood memories of that great music business behemoth, 1985's Brothers in Arms.Thus, I was reminded once again that cool no longer rules, and we are living through the tyranny of what might be called the New Wrong. A few examples: Sean Rowley's Guilty Pleasures franchise is expanding so fast that it will soon have to simply rename itself Pleasures. Its latest in-concert wheeze found the audience dancing to the consummate bilge of Toto's 1982 Africa, and specially-invited musicians covering songs by the likes of Bonnie Tyler, Neil Diamond and Electric Light Orchestra. Further down the age range, among music's current hot hopes are the supposedly cutting-edge Enter Shikari and a gang of Brummies called the Twang; their very different touchstones are the uber-wrong dance attraction Faithless and Joshua Tree/string vest-era U2. Whether we blame the government, the iPod, or the fall of the Berlin Wall, it's true: the Maoist certainties of yesteryear are gone forever.
Whether or not you agree with Harris' implication the Killers have achieved tastemaker status, how about the suggestion anyone should feel guility for liking Neil Diamond or ELO? Compared to Killers, anyway.
Love of Diagrams (above) opened the first date of their opening stint with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists last night in Philadelphia at TLA, and this correspondent reports that it was an amazing show. Totally packed house, great opening set by Love or Perish (which I just realized is also the title of a poem by W.H. Auden, thanks google!), cold Yuenglings and good times and great music all around as Matador's favorite Aussies got some Illadelphians dancing up front. If you're, y'know, a sentient being residing in the lower 48, please do yourself a favor and go see them on this tour. Dates are here: Matador tour page. Tonight's show in D.C. sold out weeks ago, though, but they're playing pretty much everywhere else, so go!
(pic courtesy VPRO)
Crash, boom, bang, tickets for all of the below are already on sale...though we might have a largish outdoorsy gig to confirm a few hours out of town very shortly, hint hint.
18 June - London - Bar Acadamy
19 June - London - Borderline
20 June - London - 93 Ft East
...they might have to continue performing in shorts. Pic swiped from The Big Takeover.
4/19 - Meehan Auditorium, Brown University, Providence, RI (with The Roots and Soulive)
4/20 - SUNY Purchase, Culture Shock Festival, Purchase NY
Times New Viking, as good in the dark as they are in the daylight --- better, even. But I can't see the movie!
Matador Direct's esteemed Dave Martin (right) brings his patented the-customer-is-always-wrong ethos to New York Noise.
(pic swiped from KEXP, used without permission)
By early June, you will no longer have Pretty Girls Make Graves to kick around anymore. And while this is very, very sad news, we do have to give their booking agent full credit --- not many persons have the presence of mind to rout a farewell tour around 4 dates in China.
Thursday, April 26 Beijing, China - Mao Live
Friday, April 27, Hong Kong, China - TBA
Saturday, April 28, Shanghai, China - 4Live0
Sunday, April 29, Beijing, China - D22
Thursday, May 10 - MILWAUKEE, WI: Todd Wehr Auditorium
Friday, May 11 - IOWA CITY, IA: The Picador
Saturday, May 12 - CHICAGO, IL: Empty Bottle
Sunday, May 13 - CLEVELAND, OH: Grog Shop
Monday, May 14 - PITTSBURGH, PA: Mr. Small's
Wednesday, May 16 - PHILADELPHIA, PA: North Star
Thursday, May 17 - CAMBRIDGE, MA: Middle East - Downstairs
Friday, May 18 - PROVIDENCE, RI: The Living Room
Saturday, May 19 - NEW YORK, NY: Gramercy Theatre
Sunday, May 20 - WASHINGTON, D.C.: Black Cat
Tuesday, May 22 - ATLANTA, GA: The Earl
Wednesday, May 23 - TAMPA, FL: The Orpheum
Thursday, May 24 - ORLANDO, FL: The Social
Saturday, May 26 - BATON ROUGE, LA: Spanish Moon
Sunday, May 27 - DENTON, TX: Hailey's
Monday, May 28 - AUSTIN, TX: Emo's
Tuesday, May 29 - ALBUQUERQUE, NM: Launchpad
Wednesday, May 30 - TEMPE, AZ: The Clubhouse
Saturday, June 2 - POMONA, CA: Glasshouse
Sunday, June 3 - LOS ANGELES, CA: Troubadour
Monday, June 4 - SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Great American Music Hall
Wednesday, June 6 - PORTLAND, OR: Berbati's Pan
Saturday, June 9 - SEATTLE, WA: Neumo's
While you might be sick of us gushing about that well-on-its-way to being legendary "Shearwater at Central Prez" concert down in Austin, Howard and Jonathan have posted some personal accounts on the blog scribed by our favorite Brooklyn via Austin gentleladies.
Howard and Jonathan: Baby grands, track bike handlebars, churches and cake
(note: regarding karaoke, what happens in N. Austin stays in N. Austin)
(an ambitiously blonde Jered, as illustrated by Daytrotter's Johnnie Cluney)
Recorded a few weeks back in beautiful Rock Island, IL, the band tore up some two-inch tape with four absolute keepers (and you can keep them, since they are available as mp3 downloads). And the real sweetness comes with a scorching version of ‘Poser Psychotic’.
The band just left Austin where they logged the most shows for any single Matador artists at SXSW this year and are currently back out on the road with the Black Lips. If you missed that shindig in Texas and you’re are missing the band on this go-around you might want to check yourself out some live tuneage here.
(photo by Kathryn Yu, used without permission, taken from The Rich Girls Are Weeping)
1. Shearwater playing at the Central Presbyterian Church. With a Steinway concert grand, the audience in pews, and acoustics to die for ("the best sound I've heard at a rock show in years," said an industry veteran to my right). Some audience members were crying. This was one for the ages.
2. In total contrast, Jay Reatard at the Victory Grill. Jay had been up for 3 days straight and was angry. The oversized bassist in the faded Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt was angry too. They were hurling nearly full cans of bud into the audience, directly at moshers' faces. The sound was perfect. The experience was genuine. Actual punk rock like I have rarely seen since the mid-'80s.
The other shows are in no particular order:
The Ponys - Emo's, afternoon show
(TNV at Sound On Sound, Saturday afternoon, phone cam pic by Gerard)
Times New Viking - Exodus, Friday night
Clockcleaner - Exodus, Friday night
Some Montreal punk band, Long Branch Inn, early Friday evening
Sorry for the Matador-centric picks... inevitable when your bands are playing 17 gigs in 4 days, you spend a lot of time seeing them! But of course it helps that they're all great, too.
Love Of Diagrams seem to have brought the spring with them, despite the fact that they arrived in London after a bitterly cold few days in New York. The sun was shining for their recent press trip and couple of London shows. The sun is still shining but who knows for how long. Love of Diagrams are still here but we do know for how long. They play again in Huddersfield at Club NME on March 20, On Paris on March 23 at La Fleche D’Or, and Nottingham’s Stealth Club on the 24th. Then they head back to the States for 30 dates with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.
The intrepid antipodeans arrived in London having had very little sleep during their pre-album US jaunt so went eagerly to bed in the (not-so) lavish Beggars flat, which is decked out with signed Rolling Stones posters, Bauhaus picture disks, a dubious horror DVD collection and bunk beds. In the middle of the night a mighty thump was heard. Watching too many scary movies again kids? Well, erm, no. It was the sound of vocalist/bassist Antonia falling from the top bunk and landing on her arm during an episode of attempted sleepwalking.
Despite having a sore wrist, Antonia still managed to be able to move her fingers deftly enough to deliver a blinding set at new trendy London club Chalk at The Scala on Saturday March 10th. The audience was duly impressed by the trio’s tight set and brayed for more once it was over. It was also my first time seeing the band and the thing that struck me was how ‘punk’ they sounded. The great songs on the records sound even more intense and blistering live, and so catchy! I’ve spent the last week with ‘Double’ and ‘Pace Or the Patience’ lodged in my brain… hummm hummm hum hum…
Slightly shaken and disturbed after seeing the new David Lynch flick “Inland Empire”, Love Of Diagrams hit the stage at The Hoxton Bar And Grill on Monday with another rip-roaring set. A room filled with loyal fans and a few Australians were delighted to have LOD all to themselves, although a few technical hitches cut the set short and my friend nearly yelled himself hoarse trying to get them to return to play “No Way Out.” Ah well. There’s always tomorrow.
Tomorrow came and went but not before Love Of Diagrams played the third gig of the week to complete the triangle of shows (if we’re speaking diagrammatically) at Artrocker at the Buffalo Bar. A packed room provided the most appreciative audience so far. I stood by the speaker so it sounded very LOUD, in a GOOD way. They played another brilliant set, the crowd went wild and again left us wanting more. Can’t wait to see them again. Hopefully they’ll be back A LOT.
After a triumphant tour of Japan and Australia, Yo La Tengo return to their native New Jersey tomorrow, just in time to be slapped into slave labor on behalf of Jersey City's WFMU. As they've done for many years now, Ira, Georgia and James (shown above with Bruce Bennett and intrepid host Gaylord Fields) will be playing requests for CASH DONATIONS live on WFMU, Friday Night, March 16, from 8-11pm eastern standard time, with the live webcast available in Real Audio, Windows Media and MP3 streams. Psue Braun's show is being bumrushed for the occasion, so please dig deep.
Little known Matador factoid : Richard Bey was our first choice for host of "What's Up, Matador?"
Spiral Stairs, J.G. Ballard, unavailable for comment.
We're just 8 days away from the retail event of the spring...my mom's birthday! (hey mom!). Coincidently, March 20 also marks the release of the 3rd album from THE PONYS, 'Turn The Lights Out'. And with the band playing far too many SXSW shows this week, what better song from the album to preview than "Poser Psychotic"? (mp3)
It's the rock biz' version of Spring Break, except Spring Break doesn't have enough cachet to lure Donnie Davies. And while Matador isn't doing a zillion dollar "showcase" (damn, we hate that word) this year, we are lucky enough to witness several of our brightest lights making multiple appearances in Austin next week...on their own dime!
OFFICIAL SXSW EVENTS (ie. those without badges, wristbands and/or having turned up way early might well be SOL)
Thursday, March 15 - Shearwater, Central Prebyterian Church, 200 E. 8th St., 7:30pm
Thursday, March 15 - The Ponys, Emo's, 1am
Friday, March 16 - Times New Viking, Exodus, 10pm
Saturday, March 17 - Dead Meadow - Club Deville, 1am
in addition, the following parties / instores are happening and should be wide open to the public, space permitting :
Thursday, March 15 - The Ponys, KEXP taping (ACL studios), 1pm
Thursday, March 15 - The Ponys, Waterloo Records, 4pm
Friday, March 16 - The Ponys, Emo's (outside), 1:30pm
Saturday, March 17 - The Ponys, Mohawk (outside patio), 2pm
Saturday, March 17 - The Ponys, Red 7 (time TBA)
Friday, March 16 - Shearwater, Mohawk, 5pm
Friday, March 16 - Times New Viking, Long Branch Inn, 2pm
Thursday, March 15 - Dead Meadow, Instant Karma, 1pm
Friday, March 16 - Dead Meadow, Red 7, time TBA (afternoon party)
Friday, March 16 - Dead Meadow, Flamingo Cantina, time tba (afternoon party)
Saturday, March 17 - Dead Meadow, Jamie's Spanish Village, 8pm
Thursday, March 15 - Stuart Braithwaite, appearing as part of the Roky Erickson Ice Cream Social at Threadgill's (time TBA, but it's in the afternoon)
for more info on the day parties, non-SXSW events, we suggest you check out http://www.showlistaustin.com