Categories
Concerts

She sure can shred!

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I’ve seen a lot of concerts in my life and a few nights ago I saw one of the most amazing shows this year in fact this particular show was the BEST performance of the year 2014. It was a double feature at the historic Chicago Theater. The two bands were Future Islands and St. Vincent. I was quite pleased with the opening act, that being Future Islands. It was very energetic and any of those songs performed could’ve been pop singles. They had kind of an 80s pop, bluesy but yet fast paced moving performances. The lead singer liked to do a very unusual dance where he was kind of gyrating and doing this pelvic twists almost moving around like an animal.

St. Vincent was a completely different experience yet also interesting and strange. St. Vincent is the name of the band created by a woman named Annie Clark who comes from New York. She is a singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and beautiful singer. Her voice is angelic yet her brilliant guitar playing is raw and vibrant. In fact quite honestly I will say that Annie Clark (St. Vincent) is the most amazing female guitar player that I have ever witnessed in front of a stage audience in my entire life. She certainly is more avant-garde bazaar strange. Also she’s a recent pupil of David Byrne who is best known for his work with the Talking Heads. But she brings something new to this generation of music. She brings back the arts, the intensity, the performance that makes you stand up and cheer, that it breaks the mold. It’s not your everyday rock performance, it’s a dramatic show on stage. She moves and acts like a robot on stage on purpose but once that guitar is strapped to her body and her hands move around the strings plucking and sliding up and down the neck it’s like something monstrous has been unleashed and she just explodes all over the place as if you wonder “is this the same person who was just singing a sweet ballad only moments earlier?”

She is young, she is beautiful, her engagement with the crowd at a few times was very real and down-to-earth and then suddenly the lights go out and the strobe lights come on and the drums start pounding and it’s like she just goes right back into character. What kind of character? It’s hard to describe. Like an alien robot one minute and then the next minute just a normal New Yorker gal. Its more than a rock show, it’s art. She went so crazy at one point that she tumbled off the stage, climbed onto an audience members’ back and started to roam around the crowd while still jamming on her guitar. I snapped a photo of that moment. (see above) Go see her live! In the meantime, I have included a video that really demonstrates her awesomeness!!!

Categories
Concerts

A Dreamy night at The Vic

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I really love indie rock music! Something moody and hypnotic is pleasant on my ears.

Intricate guitar jams mixed with a steady drumbeat and angelic female voices in harmony are the essence of what my wife and I experienced last night

WARPAINT is the name of the band that I truly enjoy following. Four young ladies from Los Angeles make up this dream pop group. Their style of music melodies calm my nerves on any day. Sunday night at the Vic Theater was no exception to that mellow feeling.

Strobe lights, stage lighting, lots and lots of lights were draped on the stage & certainly giving off calm red and blue colors. A shadowy collage of the four ladies were on display on the backdrop cloth. Fog set a gloomy atmosphere allowing unique shadows to be cast.

This vaudeville theater had spectacular acoustics. Perfect setting for this band. The keyboards and synthesizers blended well with the chill vibe among the 1,000 of us spectators. Vocals were ran through real cool echoey distortion pedals that had a deep distinct 80’s sound.

They engaged the crowd and jumped around the stage at times. I was reminded of The Cure with female vocals and I fell madly in love with my wife all over again. Everything was in its right place last night with some Angry Orchard Cider by my side and breathtaking trip rock in my brain in Chi Town.

Categories
Concerts

I was stabbed by a pitchfork festival

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It began with a car ride
Into the city
On a warm and pleasant
Friday afternoon

Water bottles
Blanket
And a backpack

Don’t leave the ticket on the dashboard
Time to go for a hike
Through the concrete jungle
Then stand in line
Before the Pitchfork gates

Is this the right line?

The music vibrates in the background
As bags are checked for cannabis
Paraphernalia and weapons
Bar codes are scanned

“That’s a really colorful looking blanket,” the old man says

Port-O-Johns are everywhere
Some serious shit is about to start!

A basketball court
Is a social one?
With vendors
Giant Twinkie Man dancing around
Long line for a free shirt
Silk screened
Cool graphic arts
Ice cream
Cupcakes
Video games

All of this enjoyed without spending
A single dime

Guy waving a NICE big flag
Handing out granola bars
Saving the wallet from depletion

A couch made out of green grass
They’re giving away sweat bands and bandannas
Stickers
Free codes to download
Local tunes

If you want to drink beer
Buy tickets
Get a bracelet

Big pretzel
Sitting on a pool
Of Wisconsin beer cheese
Johnny Appleseed
Made some hard cider
Yummy

Hipsters with beards
Gothic girls in black
Tight leather pants (in the humidity)
Wild colorful hair
Tattoos galore!

A young man reciting poetry
At a tent
Extremely long line
To fill up your empty bottle
With some pure water

It’s a festival for three days
Positive vibes are promoted
Comfortable atmosphere
Many fun experiences
There are maps
Helping everyone figure out
Where to go
Or get lost at a record show
With over a dozen vendors
Selling their wax covered goodies

Three stages
Over forty artists and acts
Tons of music

There are unique and rare finds
Treasures
Its for the music lovers
Getting exposed to some really cool stuff

Who is this band?

Neneh Cherry…did you know she’s related to Eagle Eye? She’s only played in the U.S. one other time? That’s crazy! She played her nostalgic tune “Buffalo Stance” from the late 80’s in a very modern rhythmic way. But she also promoted her first album in 18 years that is really funky, smooth, jazzy, soulful and kind of trip-hop. By the way…I met her and got her autograph. It was cool.

Sharon Van Etten…her music is gloomy especially for this summer fest. But you know what? Who cares! She was awesome!! I totally dig her albums! ARE WE THERE and TRAMP where worth showcasing? She has a pretty voice and plays the guitar rather well. AWESOME!

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks…weird music side project of the band Animal Collective!

Circulatory System…really heady music and psychedelic stuff in a Beatles dipped in an acid bath sorta way. But good.

Beck…hushed melancholy of new and then jacked up energy of his wacky old hits! (it worked!) I’m a loser Beck so why don’t you THRILL me?

Cloud Nothings…I dig thier stuff, just a little boring for me….live anyway.

tUnE-yArDs….nothing like I ever heard before! British girl named Merrill Garbus. When she’s performing her art live, Garbus creates trippy drum loops on the spot, and combines these with the ukuleleas well as vocals, in addition to electric bass. But its really tribal sounding. Like Jamaican or African sounding but also really poppy!

Hundred Waters….similar to Sigur Ros but more feminine and its like dream pop and relaxing.

Factory Floor….definitley sounds really acid housey and some audience members decided to participate in the fun! Check out this clip: http://youtu.be/C2pEmFzW3Ik

Giorgio Moroder….he’s a living Italian legend. Godfather of EDM and synth disco! He mixed up some cool Donna Summers and Daft Punk tunes! The crowd went wild for him!

BUT NOW…..THE ONE….THE ONLY……ST. VINCENT!!!! Holy crap is she freaking awesome!!! Annie Clark is the best guitar player I have heard in more than a decade. She is such an actress on stage freaking out acting like a robot princess and then collapses on stage, drops her guitar, gets pissed off and then gets happy when a new guitar is presented to her. Lots of smoke, colors and thrashing on those fuzzy wuzzy guitars that she mechanically plays with such a rocking smooth attitude! She invents brand new sounds that most guitar noises don’t make. Best live show I have seen. Pink Floyd at soldier field 20 years ago is the only other show that was as good as this. And she only played for an hour. She’s a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. On stage she just had 2 other people: a drummer and co-guitarist/synth player to back up her wild and crazy show! My words cannot possibly do her justice. She WAS the reason I went to the Pitchfork Music Festival. Loved it!

 

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Then I fell apart from my brain exploding
And then I shattered mentally
A night drive home with Syd Barrett tunes to comfort me
To sleep off the intense buzz
with memories of blissfulness
In my head……

Categories
Playlists

May Child “Flower Power” Playlist

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Yep….I drew that.

Isn’t it pretty?

It’s the month of May….and that means it’s time for those flowers to get here. Lots of snow and zero temps this past winter. It was long and cold. Some showers last month, but we could use more. Beginning this month with 85 degrees in Chicago tomorrow and then hopefully NOT dropping down into the 50’s again for awhile. But despite a weather forecast of some rain and dropped temperatures, I am hopeful that it’ll continue to get warmer and those flowers will pop up everywhere.

Here’s a playlist of happy, sunny, earthy, flower-related songs to get you through this glorious month of May!

This isn’t the only playlist I will post this month. My sister and I each celebrate our birthdays this month. So do several friends and family members. It’s the month of the Taurus and Gemini babies!!!

I will devote my next playlist to May birthday tunes…..for now enjoy this one:

1. Scott Mckenzie…..San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)

2. Seal…..Kiss From a Rose

3. Bette Midler…..The Rose

4. Tiny Tim…..Tip Toe Through The Tulips

5. Simon & Garfunkel…..Scarborough Fair

6. Every Rose Has Its Thorn…..Poison

7. Ramblin’ Rose…..Nat King Cole

8. Push th’ Little Daises…..Ween

9. Good Day Sunshine…..The Beatles

10. Hong Kong Garden…..Siouxsie and the Banshees

11. Flower Punk…..Frank Zappa

12. Lotus Flower…..Radiohead

13. Sugar Magnolia…..Grateful Dead

14. Let’s Get Together…..The Youngbloods

15. I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet…..Carol King

16. Where Have All The Flowers Gone…..Peter, Paul & Mary

17. Fat Old Sun…..Pink Floyd

18. In Bloom…..Nirvana

19. Flowers On The Wall…..The Statler Brothers

20. Garden…..Pearl Jam

21. Wildflowers…..Tom Petty

22. I Love the Flower Girl…..The Cowsills

Categories
Album Reviews interests

Treasures From Record Store Day

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About ten days ago I went to a local record store called Kiss The Sky at 5:30 in the morning to get a lottery ticket. My number was 63. What does that mean? (You might ask) Well when the doors officailly opened at 8:00 a.m. I had the right to be the 63rd person to be let into the store and buy records. Not just any records but rare limited editions of various vinyl pressings. 45’s, 7 inches, LP’s and special box sets.

I went and had breakfast after I got my number. Then I returned to the shrine of pressed wax that us enthusiasts enjoy spinning on our turntables. It was really crowded inside the store. But I struck up some conversations with other fanatics, like myself.

I walked away with a 45 of Frank Zappa’s “Yellow Snow,” a special Joy Division record containing their first 4 songs and a small box set of eight 45’s entitled “The Space Project.” This box set featured artists like Youth Lagoon and Beach House. It was a rare find and definitely was a limited pressing.

My questions for my readers out there……Did you go? What did you buy? Where did you go? How much fun did you have?

Long Live Vinyl!!!!

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Uncategorized

Dum Dum Girls “filled” me with joy at the Empty Bottle

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The Empty Bottle is simply a dive bar and a surprisingly relaxing and fun music venue located in Chicago, Illinois. This is one of the coolest venues for Chicago’s alternative music scene. The place hosts several kinds of music. There is plenty of indie-rock, punk, metal, rock’n’roll, hip-hop, electronic, experimental, ambience and jazz. This club/bar opened in 1992 and was originally a regular neighborhood bar. There’s plenty of CHEAP beer too! It’s like being in a large basement with brick walls and little coves that sneak around corners.

Pinball games, Ms Pac-Man arcade for only a quarter, a pool table and several water jugs strategically place all around the place with plastic cups stacked near them too. Its a nice gesture to offer free water to someone low on cash but just plain thirsty. They also just have a really nice space that’s conducive to having a lot of different experiences. It is hard to have a bad view of the stage where artists perform, whether you are early or late to the show. I definitely need to return.

Now let me cut right to the chase. My wife and I celebrated a special anniversary on this day of March 31st. We met on a train 7 years ago and celebrated by attending a Dum Dum Girls show. Who are they you ask? Dum Dum Girls are an American rock band, formed about six years ago. In the beginning, it was a bedroom recording project of lead singer and songwriter Dee Dee Penny in Los Angeles. She is currently living in New York City. I try to keep up with today’s music. These four talented females have very nice glossy melodies that you don’t hear from today’s bands. It rocks, it waves, it pounds through awesome songwriting!

This music they play is slick and focused. Post punk, garage punk, dreamy and pouty 80’s pop. That’s essentially how I would describe their music. Fuzzy guitar riffs, eyeliner distortion and 1960s girl-group sensibilities.Too True, their newest album, toggles between ethereal and punk, gothic and 80s dance party, and provides a strong and welcomed addition to the Dum Dum Girls catalog. The name pays homage to The Vaselines’ album Dum Dum and an Iggy Pop song called “Dum Dum Boys”. Dee Dee Penny’s stage name was not inspired by Dee Dee Ramone. It’s a coincidence.

Appearance-wise onstage they are quite a sight. Short skirts and long legs. Leather outfits. I am reminded of those imfamous Robert Palmer ADDICTED TO LOVE videos. You know? The ones with the sexy girls pretending to play guitars? Only these girls are most definitely playing vintage Silvertone guitars through glorious RAT amps. The stage is smokey blue with christmas lights dangling from the ceiling. A large BLUE lit up cut-out heart is draped in the background. Their microphones are donned with fiberoptic roses and spare red picks arranged all pretty-like. The whole thing was mesmorizing and a real nice trip back in time to that underground gothic-like and dreamy-like club.

Songs like “Too True To Be Good,” “Rimbaud Eyes,” “Lost Boys & Girls Club” and “Are you Ok” were intense highlights! DEE DEE and the ladies are obviously a big fan of the cooler music that came out of 80s/early 90s and it comes through in their music. Sometimes I am reminded of Chrissie Hynde (of the Pretenders) vocals. Penny’s voice is quite stellar. She opens up her sound on large and gorgeous ballads like “Coming Down.” The show hypnotized me and then I had to drive home at 1:00 a.m.

But I was left with incredible memories and hard rocking chicks! Here’s a video that gives you a better idea of their awesome sounds going down:

Categories
Album Reviews artists

Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9

…..that was a Beatles reference (from The White Album)

Anyway

ARTIST = Neko Case

ALBUM = The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight…

neko neko

So, who is she?
Why do I like her so much?
Why is her new album Number Nine on my list???

She has the voice of an angel
Much revival enthusiasm with arresting beauty
Her inspiration comes from respected artists
like Loretta Lynne, Hank Williams and Tom Waits
She’s embraced country music but
truly influenced by David Lynch Films
and unusual noir styles
She’s incorporated dreamy imagery
of the rights of animals
love, loss and what it means to live in America

So the blue spotlights flicker on
We hear the noises of Submarine sonar pings
Fog fills of the stage
The crowd goes wild
Much applause
Our red-headed hero is ready to jam
She’s ready to expose her soul
Her melancholy mixed with humor
It’s just her way of entertaining
Aggressive guitars
Yet laid back
-me and my words

Her stuff is truly a nice blend
of Indie, Alternative, Rock and Country
One of the most stunning moments is a gorgeous acapella
done by her and co-singer Kelly Hogan.
Shocking language
just their two pleasant voices
in this abstract location
just made me realize why I love her so much
No fear to express her and dear friend’s voice
in an honest and real way.

Thanks for the inspiration Neko

Categories
artists

Twenty Favorite Albums of 2013……Number 19

Artist: Crocodiles
Album: Crimes of Passion

CRIME

This was an interesting discovery. My sister and I went to the club Metro in Chicago back in May to see a band called Japandroids. Crocodiles was the opening act. I never heard of them before. But I must admit that they had a pretty captivating presence on stage. Their sound is like noise rock mixd with psychedelia. Guitar feedbacks, experimental sounds and good fuzzy hooks.

These guys are from San Diego, California. Yet, I can hear some Lou Reed’s Brooklyn influences among their styles. The bands Jesus and Mary Chain, R.E.M. and some of those other 80’s post punk junk groups work their way into influencing their musical mix. Simple songs with a California sun vibe. But a lot of crunching guitars and fun choruses are scattered all over the record, Crimes of Passion. It’s only a spec longer than thirty minutes long too. So, this disc gets right to the point. It doesn’t waste any time. Plus tambourines and pianos contribute nicely to a deliciously passionate rock album that just feels good on my ears. Give it a listen!

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Uncategorized

Barrett on the radio???

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“I don’t think I ever heard this song being played on the radio before”–a passenger said. I replied,”Consider yourself lucky!” Another passenger declared with laughter, “Why?” My natural reply was, “Because it’s Syd Barrett. Only the most obscure musician in Rock History.” Silence followed and then the topic changed. But I continued to listen to 93XRT (my favorite Chicago radio station) play “See Emily Play,” which was a true Pink Floyd pocket symphony created by Syd Barrett.
Part of what I do at my job is provide daily shuttle service to the local train station for some of the commuters. I tend to have that station on in the background. Today it was in the foreground this time. As I have indicated before, Pink Floyd is perhaps my favorite band of all time. It is actually unusual for a radio station to play any of the Syd material. Kind of unheard of actually. Radio personality, Frank E. Lee, played it because he wanted to. Although the humor for me was after the song ended, The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside ” followed. Kinda weird if you ask me. Anyways, what am I saying here? Well not much I guess. I love 93XRT because the DJ’s are cool with their choices and insights. Syd Barrett was a mad genius of 60’s pop music and I found it rare to hear that song on a cold Friday night in the van out of the clear blue. Kinda like this post. Later…..C-Note

For more information on 93XRT, go here:  wxrt.radio.com

For more on Syd, go here: www.sydbarrett.com

Categories
Concerts

Punk Girls From England….Shredded It!!!

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Savages? Who are they? Four women from London, aka British chicks. They rule. I did blog about them not so long ago. I saw a great show two nights ago at the Metro Club in Chicago. This is a great venue. Basically its across from Wrigley Field on Clark Street. For me its sort of enemy territory because I am a White Sox fan and not a Cubs one, sorry. This street however extends for a couple of miles filled with bars and bars and bars. There are some restaurants and Tapas too. T Shirt shops and record shops, you know? Lots of college age appeal on Clark Street in Chicago’s north side near Lincoln Park. It’s a party community. Lovely I tell you.

Yet, I would have never imagined a band like Savages would be playing there. I only really discovered them about five months ago. I haven’t been a longtime fan. Although I believe they only formed about 2 years ago. I think this 4 piece “all female band” put out an EP and they played several gigs in their homeland until their first LP, “Silence Yourself” which was released this past May. I can’t remember how I came across them. Kind of a stumbling upon sort of accident. Must have been flipping through the internet. Cruising through random sites and sampling a few tracks and such. It was almost like the universe suggested this record to me and that I will see them live, someday.

For about a year, recently I was on a kick listening to bands like: The Who, Japandroids, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Husker Du and other Post-Punk groups. So I was digging the late 70’s and early 80’s music for awhile. Perhaps because I was spinning these records and doing random searches; I came across Savages. I started to notice some striking connections to the above mentioned rock bands. It really is an amalgamation of that kind of music. Their inspiration comes from a lot of places as well. But I only initially read that information without listening. Blind faith brought me to them. I initially listened to them at work with my iPhone shoved in my pocket and earbuds tucked in my music-hungry earlobes while signing in several packages on the dock.I was struck by this obscure dialogue from a film introducing the album about listening and communicating from youth to elders, I think. All while sorting through packages in the mailroom.Then the bass guitar started ripping through very crisp and aggressively. It was loud but clear. Somehow it was silently loud and then the drums and guitar join in at a pleasurable pace. It really oozed out punk style but not too fast. A nice pace, for sure.

The band, Fugazi comes to mind whenever I hear these opening riffs.Its good to hear this kind of sound coming back in this day and age. It requires bravery to step out of your comfort zone and tell it like it is. What do I mean? Man, I don’t know how to describe these girls. Its very tight musicianship. That’s for sure. All four members are amazing. At times I can hear the New-Wave style of guitar playing too. I tend to be reminded of early R.E.M. sounds, I don’t know why, I just do. Jenny Beth, our frontwoman has quite a stage presence. Somehow, I convinced my wife to go with me.I should probably backtrack again because I’m all over the place.

The allure and excitement of hearing this hypnotic, gothic, post-punk, aggressive and this British politically charged music was enough to make me shiver with enthusiasm. I definitely listened to these girls obsessively all summer long. It has an addictive sound. I knew all along that I wanted to see Savages, somehow. A small club like Metro would be an awesome place. Never thought that I would get a chance to see them either, it was just sort of out of my mind. Then about 6 weeks ago I found out that they were. So I was like, OMG! I jumped on that opportunity right away!

I purchased 2 tickets because, you never know. I guess I had some expectations that somebody would tag along with me but I just couldn’t find anyone. So what was I gonna do with the other ticket? I wasn’t trying to force anyone to go with me. Yet, Denielle, my wife said that she would go with me and be a good sport. She didn’t have to, especially since she was feeling a little “under the weather.” Perhaps she didn’t want me to be alone or whatever. She’s a great backup buddy at live shows. She’s an awesome lady! Not entirely her cup of tea but she kept me company. No guilt trips! She was a trooper.

We drove through the congested gauntlet of Interstate 294, the merges and the one way streets of Chi-Town in order to reach “the venue.” It was worth the rush hour traffic. It was a 9:00 pm show on a Monday night. Talk about dedication man! We have no kids and I strategically planned a half day off the following morning so that I wouldn’t be all crabby at work the next day. It’s good to sleep in when you get home a quarter after midnight.I could sleep longer, stretch, shower, eat breakfast and most importantly not rush off to work until the afternoon. Standing outside on the sidewalk and waiting to get inside while the Autumn air is chilly and crisp and I am keeping my wife safe and warm putting my arm around her. People watching and chatting with others can be a fun time. Its cool and you’re hanging with other devoted fans, all there for the same purpose. To ROCK! I made sure that we bee-lined it for the mighty “chairs” upstairs by the balcony so we can sit down and not crank our necks all night or get cramps in our feet from standing all night while tilting our heads up either.

We ordered a couple of sodas and satisfied our thirsts. The waitress brings the drinks right to our tiny and cozy little table. It was nice and refreshing. It was a blistering performance that night.The stage handlers and roadies were going at it ferociously on the stage setting everything up and making sure the lighting, the sounds and plugs were all hooked up. Crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s. Strumming the guitars, banging the drums and making sure the mics picked everything up. They even laid out the ladies water bottles out precisely. These girls were certainly getting the royal treatment.

The vamping music is always a fun treat. At any concert, especially big acts like NIN or Pink Floyd…the really good concerts, you just hear that echoing kind of like electronica that feels like that of an anticipating crowd. It feels like…..WE ARE READY! You….sitting there…watching it all…and you
are staring in anticipation to the point where your blood’s almost boiling and rising because you’re like OMG I am here….and then…….the lights go off and everybody is cheering and stomping their feet saying OH YEA! Fog machine kicks in, spotlights dim and the 4 ladies come onto the stage and grace us with their presence all dressed in black.

They just busted out right into it man! I love all of the instrumentation and all of the musicians but sometimes my eyes tend to gravitate towards the drummer because she’s really technical and really knows when to crash the cymbals, the high hats, the bass drum and the snares and all of it when precision. It was amazing watching Fay Milton twirl the sticks in her hands and her technical delivery. Brilliant! Then there’s Ayse Hassan, the bassist. Doing an in place kind of dance swaying back and forth but really into a rhythm with her head titled down bobbing her head a little bit and wailing away on that 4 stringed instrument.

The lead guitarist, Gemma Thompson, again she’s all over the place. She keeps walking back and forth towards the large amp and back out to the stage. She was doing all kinds of cool effects; sliding, screeching and thumping. Effects with feedback and twangs and tweaking and just making a lot of cool noise. She really busted out into some really standard rock n roll guitar riffs. Really versatile. Finally our lady front and center, Jenny Beth, knew how to work that mic. She has her high pitches and her low pitches. She has her dialect. Sometimes she will narrate part of the lyrics and tell stories of mystery and wonder. She spoke out against using your phones during the performance and not being so distracted which I thought was a nice brave statement. ( I only snuck a couple during the encore) All she wanted for us was to immerse ourselves within this musical experience and that’s what we surely did.

That night they exceeded my expectations. I was blown away by the performance. I was treated to a wonderful night at Metro. It was invigorating and lively. Just plain Awesome! Thank you and good night.

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