Friday, May 8, 2009

Defiance, Ohio @ Death By Audio w/ Madeline, Passive Aggressor, and Hinges

Top Photo: Hinges
Bottom Photo: Defiance, Ohio

Review and Photos By: Stephen Tompkins

So I guess I missed the memo that everyone else seemed to have gotten prior to the show. Apparently there are a few prerequisites you must fulfill before you go to a Defiance, Ohio show. What was I thinking?
List of Prerequisites to fit in:
1. You must wear Adidas Sambas (do not question)
2. Do not wear socks
3. You must roll your jeans up slightly above the shin
4. You must be vegan
5. You must ride a bike EVERYWHERE you go
6. Girls cannot shave their legs or armpits (hey, I'm all for feminism!)
7. No crowd surfing (bummer, dude)
Ok, now that my bitter attitude has subsided I can continue.
Now, I don’t know if you have ever been to Death By Audio, but it is a small venue and it was packed within minutes. And if you have ever been to a Defiance, Ohio show then you know what kind of crowd they draw, but for those of you who don’t this is what it looked like. You got your bros, they love Defiance, Ohio—listening to them lets them feel like they understand punk and gives them a reason to tell their girlfriends that they don’t fit into society. You got your 13 and 14-year-olds, who just discovered the band and all proudly display Defiance, Ohio shirts. Then you got your jocks. You got your bike riding, capitalist hating, vegan eating people. Your punks with a soft side for poppy folk punk. Fucking Christ, you’ve got everyone.
So, I was unaware of the diverse opening acts that were going to be playing last night, I figured since Defiance, Ohio was playing, all of the bands were going to be Ghost Mice knock offs, on the contrary. I was stoked to see Hinges, the first band to play. I had never heard them before, but they fucking ruled. The female fronted group played straight up ‘90s hardcore with slow build-ups and chaotic outbursts played in the vein of Orchid and Pg. 99. Unfortunately Hinges only played a few songs, but still managed to set good vibes amongst the crowd.
Passive Aggressor played next and I really don’t have much to say about them. I guess if you can imagine Phish playing Jawbreaker songs, then that might begin to give you an idea of their sound. The lead singer (also a female) kept saying “this is about friendship… friiiiendshiiiipppp,” in a drunken ironic voice. So clever, man!
The next person to play was Madeline, a lone female on stage playing songs from her new album, White Flag. Her style can be described as Kimya Dawson meets Cat Power. She was joined onstage for a few songs by Defiance, Ohio’s drummer and guitarist, who added some life to her set. Madeline repeatedly gave members of the crowd attitude when they asked her to play old songs—“Sorry, I’m only playing songs from my new album,” but she finally gave in and played “To Hell and Back.”
Defiance, Ohio finally came on minus the cello player (bummer) and their guitarist immediately started preaching about conserving space for one another—nothing wrong with that… yet. So, they started by playing a song off of their new EP, some of the crowd knew it, I did not. After that sappy song ended, they tore into “Petty Problems,” and that is when madness ensued. The already sweating crowd started jumping up and down and things got sticky from there, pun intended. After that song the band made an announcement. “No more crowd surfing,” the guitarist said. What the fuck? Who says that? Who the fuck sets rules at a show? That was a bummer, but I could deal with it. So they continued to play some new songs, break a bass string, and a few guitar strings. They played a few other songs off of The Fear, The Fear, The Fear, The Great Depression, and Share What Ya’ Got, but not enough. When their set came to an end the crowd started chanting for them to play “Oh, Susquehanna,” but apparently their bass drum was broken and they refused to play it.

Mad props to Hinges for ruling. Defiance, Ohio was pretty good, but not what I expected.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Grizzly Bear- Veckatimest Review

Photo: Tom Hines

Review By: Stephen Tompkins

Grizzly Bear, the Brooklyn based pop-folk band is coming out of hibernation, their third full-length album, Veckatimest named after an uninhabited island in Massachusetts is set to release May 26 on Warp Records.
With nearly two years past since the release of the critically acclaimed Friend EP, a lot of buzz has begun surrounding Veckatimest over the past few weeks. Mostly I’ve heard everyone saying how jovial and upbeat it is supposed to be in comparison to previous Grizzly Bear releases, and at brief times it can be. See “Two Weeks,” featuring Victoria Legrand of Beach House on backing vocals, which is perhaps the most poppy song Grizzly Bear has written to date (think the ‘60s pop sensibility of Rubber Soul.) But for the most part, Veckatimest is just as full of haunting folk ballads, if not more so, than 2004’s Horn of Plenty and 2007’s Yellow House.
Veckatimest has all of the staples you’ll expect from Grizzly Bear, from the hypnotic dream-like sounds of the album opener “Southern Point,” which really gets going when a killer computerized-sounding riff kicks in, to the duel-layering vocal patterns of guitarist Ed Droste and Bassist Chris Taylor over hollow church choir-esque background noise in “Cheerleader.”
“All We Ask,” comes fully-equipped, including delicate harmonies and hand claps, while “Fine for Now,” experiments with echoing vocal harmonies over lo-fi etherized acoustic guitar and tight and loosened snare drum.
For the most part “Ready, Able,” is a droned out down-tempo Joy Division knock-off song that I wouldn’t imagine making the album, if it weren’t for the kick ass organ riff fit for an appearance on a 13th Floor Elevators album, that chimes in at 1:47.
The live recording of “While You Wait for the Others,” which can be heard on Grizzly Bear’s MySpace, is far better than the over-produced version that made the album and was what really had me excited for Veckatimest in the first place. On the album's version the guitars are so subdued that at times it feels like an A Capella song and it only becomes worthy of the album because of the intense chorus build-up and full-fledged release.
Grizzly Bear picked a great time to emerge from the cave, as Veckatimest will likely serve as a haunting soundtrack to around-the-fire-parties all summer long.