Drummer Phanie Diaz is the drummer for San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma. When she took time to answer some questions the band was on an extensive tour of the USA to support the band’s new record, Exits & All The Rest, on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records. How did the band wind up on the label? “We were in New York being filmed for a documentary on up and coming bands. Joan was supposed to surprise us at the end of the show and give us advice and that would be that,” she says. “ She showed up at a rehearsal we were having and then ended up coming to our gig later that evening at The Knitting Factory and signed us as soon as we were done. It wasn't planned and was a surprise for all of us.” When asked if, at gunpoint she had to hang a label on the band she answers simply; “I mean if I HAD to...Rock and Roll.” And they do play rock n roll, as is evident from their rocking live show. Their recorded material shows they can do more than just rock, with indie pop songs that you could probably play for your mom. That isn’t an insult; just saying there is depth and breadth to their work. This is also a band who hits the road for their music. They have opened for the likes of Morrissey (they get their name from one of his songs), Tegan and Sara, Social Distortion, Frank Black and The Pogues. How is it playing for such divers audiences? “We have somehow managed to connect with almost every audience of the tours we have been on. With Sia and Tegan and Sara , the connect was we were females making music,” she says. “WIth Morrissey , perhaps the type of music we were playing along side the mutual respect. If you have an appreciation for music.. then you should be able to see the beauty in any band no matter the genre.”
They were out on a headline tour at their recent Chicago show and that will not be the end of it. Diaz says the best part of touring is traveling, meeting people and chatting with them at shows. The worst part?
“Watching venues close and record shops out on the road because kids are starting to not support them anymore. Go out to shows! Discover music at your local record shops..not just the internet!” says Diaz
Get out to your local record store!
The band has four full-lengths and several eps-a pretty extensive output for a young band. Where does Diaz see them heading musically as time goes by?
“We hope to last as long as we can and have tons of records under our belts such as Sonic Youth or the Pixies. We love music and no matter where the road leads us... we want to always release GIAC records.” says Diaz.
Diaz says the songs start with Nina Diaz (Phanie Diaz’ sister) who records and demos the song—complete with guitar riffs and vocals.
“Jenn Alva (bassist) and I take the demos home with us and start arranging our parts. We come together as a band and play and work out all the kinks and give each other feedback.” Says Diaz.
Keep an eye out for the band on the road—they plan to play extensively to support Exits & All The Rest.
-photos and text by Patrick Ogle
The Airborne Toxic Event
has a small problem. Their song, Sometime Around Midnight
, is a dreary, instant classic about lost love. This song will be on the radio 25 years from now.
How is that a problem?
The song was something of a hit for the band but its style and tone is not really an indication of that the band is all about. Their music has certain joyfulness to it. Sure, it is sometimes a little sad but this is a Celtic sort of sad--the sort of sad where you say “I am sad but fuck it! The next round is on me.”
Those who know the band only from one song will be surprised by how high energy they are. And how the music IS (sort of) Celtic. That wasn’t an analogy picked out of thin air. They call to mind, not The Pogues
, but Chicago’s own The Drovers
(but way LESS Celtic than that).
Most bands you would feel silly wanting to get poetic about in a description but not Airborne Toxic Event, there is poetry in every note.Their songs are memorable. They stick with you. After hearing their latest record, All At Once
, one time you will easily recognized every song in the live set.
At one point in the set a sort of drum circle even breaks out. And this doesn’t make the audience run for the exits.
One of the great things about the band is how they mix up their instrumentation. This gives the band real sonic depth in their set. Some songs have piano, some violin, some a stand up bass.The multi- abilities of the members keep every song fresh.You might hear early 60s Greenwich Village folk in one song and in the next you will hear a tiny hint of something that sounds almost like synthpop and maybe even hints of bands like
Buy this record...
Right before the end of the evening they broke into I Fought The Law which is a telling cover, considering others who have, famously, covered the tune. There is very definitely a little bit of old school punk rock lurking in all their music. Not Green Day kids but rather The Clash, The Buzzcocks, Boomtown Rats and X Ray Spex. But let’s not put too fine a point on this comparison either. It is just a hint, a part of what this band is all about.
Did you leave before the encore? You missed a solid third of the set. What is it about people who HAVE to get out first? Is there some prize at the door? You paid to be here! Relax, take the load off, and listen to the music!
Opening act, Mona, are a band worth a listen too. A separate piece on them sometime soon.-Patrick Ogle
Setting up the gear....
Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble play dance music. Even if you are not prone to dancing their music is liable to make you, at the very least, tap your toe (maybe even your toes).
The group employed a ten piece group of musicians to record their latest record, Mr. Machine (out now). The term "ensemble" therefore isn't a total red herring. Basically the record is techno with classical instrumentation. Don't be lazy and think this is classical music turned into techno (which is how I read it the first time I saw a release on the band!).
The Chicago date at Empty Bottle is the second on the tour (remaining dates at the bottom of the page).
The band's first record, You Make Me Real, came out in 2010. It is bit of a shame they couldn't have come out with a full-on representation of the instrumentation on the new album. That is, obviously, something that is prohibitively expensive.
Dance music fans will be happy regardless. Indie rock fans will be unhappy regardless. Death Metal fans will not know what to make of the whole thing.
10/26 – Toronto, ON – The Drake Hotel
10/27 - Brooklyn, NY – Glasslands
10/28 - Washington, DC - The Red Palace
10/29 – Asheville, NC – MoogFest
10/30 - Atlanta, GA – 529
10/31 - Orlando, FL – Plaza Live
11/01 - Tallahassee, FL - Club Down Under/FSU
11/03 - Dallas, TX - The Prophet Bar
11/05 – Austin, TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest
11/09 – San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
11/10 – Los Angeles, CA – The Satellite
11/11 - San Francisco, CA - The Rickshaw Stop
11/12 - Los Angeles, CA - Luckman Fine Arts Complex
Guillaume de Maria of French act, Chateau Marmont, has an unusual way of describing the band’s music.
“(It’s) like a soundtrack for a porn movie, but with robots only. Always a mixture between organic and electronic,” says de Maria. “But for the wannabe musical critics, let's say that we play some spacey-prog-french-robot-pop.”
One recent critic, in a major paper I won’t mention (except to say that the name begins with “Washington” and ends with “Post”) said the band was trying to be Alan Parsons Project. This says more about the dismal state of music criticism than anything else. Apparently this critic hasn’t gotten out much in the past 25 years. And this band sounds more like Men Without Hats than Alan Parsons Project. Actually, they sound pretty much NOTHING like APP.
They sound more like Electric Kingdom (remember that song? If you do you are OLD). They sound more like a Bowery Electric dance album. Perhaps it is just the 80s sounding synths that make people think of asinine comparisons. Who knows?
De Maria says that the best part of touring is seeing the landscape and meeting people. The worst?
“Spending 3 weeks in a bus with 11 guys, with all the smell and disorder you can imagine. And the food...” he says. “No problem when you're in a big city where you can find Whole Foods, but we're tired of the eternal burger on lost roads.”
His favorite tour moments include driving on Big Sur, nights in clubs of New Orleans and Nashville.
“Big souvenirs for the rest of our lives. And chilling out in L.A. listening to Steely Dan.” he says.
After the tour the band is taking a few days off in Paris to spend with friends, resting, then finishing mixes on their new record—which comes out March 2012. They will also likely play some shows here and there.
After just a few songs by Portugal's The Gift
, I thought; this show should be in a stadium, not a medium sized venue. I keep saying to people that they remind me of Queen
with a woman singing. This bears some explanation. It isn't that they write extraordinarily long songs a la Bohemian Rhapsody
(although they did have one they announced at 12 minutes). It isn't that they are bombastic. It is that their music is often "grand." They make a medium sized venue FEEL like a stadium.
The recorded version of the song, Made For You
, from the record Explode
, is fantastic but it pales next to the live version. The studio version took a few listens for me to like it. It has an odd style; listening to it live I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I had tears in my eyes. It is simple, it is beautiful and it is infectious, live or recorded.
Made For You from Explode
I have a huge problem with The Gift. They are in a long line of recent bands I have seen that were better than just good. The problem with The Gift is that they are way better than the previous bands. I am not insulting the others. I just hope I see someone I hate soon. The Gift may well be the best live band I have ever seen.
Why is that? They can certainly play, they write great pop/rock/dance songs but it is really about the sheer joy of the music. You cannot fake that. If playing music is just your job you can be good. You can put on a show people walk away from happy. But if it is more than just a job? That comes through somehow. We sense it.
Great, now I sound like a Hippie.
Honestly, I feel like I need testimonials. I do not like everything. I am usually pegged as disliking far more bands than I like. Take the wholly inadequate support bands on this show, for instance. The Double Door in Chicago is good at inappropriate or flat out bad local and national support. Otherwise it is a fun place to see a show.
They seem to be a group of multi-instrumentalists—four members and three additional musicians, although this varies. Finding this record, Explode, which is apparently also out on vinyl (and I search for that), will lead you inevitably and inexorably to their back catalog. This band is a treasure.
And I couldn’t agree more with “read books not Facebook.”
After this brief jaunt there has to be a future, longer tour; a tour where the band doesn’t get stuck playing in a city the size of Chicago on a Tuesday night.
This photo is for all you synth gear dorks
-words and photos by Patrick Ogle
, as noted elsewhere in the vaults of Mapanare, have just released their self-titled ep
and hit the road with the wildly entertaining Van Hunt
. They bring to mind a new truism--when you see an opening act that is really good? The headliner has tons and tons of confidence. If an opener comes out and warbles some tunes off key and them pisses themselves onstage? Indicates the headliner is a) not real confident b) for some other reason wants no competition.Van Hunt apparently wasn't worried about this because Empress Hotel could easily satisfy an audience as the lone act. It is to be hoped they will tour as a headliner soon.
The band's ep isn't the whole story of the band's sound. Their live show is both like and unlike the record. Some of the songs are almost doo-wop sounding. Then there are these keyboard sounds from another time. You are going to buy this, listen to it, take off your little headphones, shake your head and listen to it from beginning to end again.
The live show rocks more than the EP. But the EP songs do not NEED to blaze and rock you out of your shoes. They are catchy pop tunes and as I try to write about what they sound like all I can think of is that in any art where words are involved good writing rules. You do not need to be profound necessarily you need to write words that fit what is around them.
If they make you think, miss your ex-girlfriend or want to go join a street protest? So much the better but "good writing" doesn't mean it has to be akin to Bob Dylan. You Shook Me All Night Long is also good writing. It would sound stupid if ACDC used that music and wrote about the plight of aboriginal peoples.
But what of the bands live show? Think of 90s alternative rock with, for lack of a better word, a groove. Micah McKEE's vocals change subtly from song to song. Some might say; all singers do this. I would respond with; good singers do this.
Musically the lynchpin in one song might be the modeled sound of a Fender Rhodes, the next blazing guitar riffs and another subtle, almost reggae-esque bass line. They move their sound around to make each song unique but never out of place.
Ultimately they are just a really good live band and with both the show and their EP come an inescapable realization; they have just scratched the surface.
-words and photos by Patrick Ogle
Van Hunt’s latest record, What Were You Hoping For?, came out at the end of September. Hunt is one of those performers who have a lot of different genre labels hung on him. His music is part soul, a large part rock and even larger part old-school 1970s style funkiness. Hints of psychedelia can be whiffed here and there as well. And he is a songwriter par excellence.
The live show is a hundred kinds of good; enthralling vocals, blazing guitars and the rhythm half of the band (including Hunt himself on bass) do not know how to miss a beat. This is a true updating of 70s rock/funk/soul crossover. Think Delfonics (maybe) but this band rock more than Delfonics (who were, in their defense, not tryint to rock. You can even hear a little Marvin Gaye when they dial it down a bit. The thing is, you could name a lot of acts from the 70s trying to create this mix and get it right—most of them didn’t do it nearly this good. The band's press mentioned a bit of "punk" in the music. I doubted that but, especially on the record, there is no doubt. Van Hunt and band are not imitative but they take whatever they need for a given song from whatever genre is appropriate.
This isn’t nostalgia music; it is music for right now.
Van Hunt is one of a number of recent acts that I've seen with opening acts that were top notch. It usually bodes well when a band is touring with an opener who is really good; it means they have no fear of being upstaged. New Orleans' Empress Hotel are a band in a similar vein to Hunt's. They emphasize different aspects of the music which make the two acts a good fit on the same bill.
Empress Hotel photos will be up soon.
Finding out more about Van Hunt and buying What Were You Hoping For?
are both highly recommended. You can both at www.vanhunt.com
Drummer & Keyboard Player--Out Of The Light Makes For Bad Photo!
Taking pictures of the crowd...
The first time I went to a concert Jimmy Carter was President. In the intervening years I have seen an enormous number of acts in venues from tiny holes in the wall to stadiums. I hesitate to even try to calculate the number of bands I have seen over the years.
But I haven’t seen a single one any better than Mekons.
Why is that? Is it songwriting? Is it performance? Is it how it seems effortless and as if you were sitting with the band in your living room? It is likely all those things and more. It is just a fact. Other bands that write great songs (and I shall mention no names) will bore you right to sleep live. Likewise I have continuously heard bands whose musical efforts, when confined to a shiny metal disc or an mp3, fall flat. They only come alive on stage. Mekons' live show may be different from the recordings but it would be difficult to say either was superior.
Space In Your Face from Ancient & Modern
My admitting my age (I was very young when I went to see those Carter Administration shows, in fact, I was 3) I may make it seem as if the Mekons will appeal only to geezers. Far from it. The audience was a mix of ages. A couple of weeks before this show I attended the Hideout Block Party with my 14 year old son (he was born when I was 15). When all was said and done I asked him which act he liked best from the day’s performers. He responded, “The Welsh guy.”
The Welshman in question, in this case, was Jon Langford.
discussed how the band were given incentives to learn the new songs—from the just released record, Ancient & Modern
. Usually she said they learned them on tour so it took three or four weeks beyond the first date before they had the songs down.
“Those poor people in Boston,” said Langford.
USA shows10/06 - ARLINGTON, VA - Iota (A quiet night in with the acoustic MEKONS)
10/07 - BROOKLYN, NY - The Bell House (A wild night out with the electrified MEKONS)
10/08 - NEW YORK, NY - City Winery (A quiet night in with the acoustic MEKONS)
FOR FURTHER TOUR INFORMATION (EUROPEAN DATES) GO HERE.
is playng a saz in this picture, as he usually is with Mekons. If you want to know more about the saz you can ask Edmonds when you see the band, shout at him about it between songs, I am sure he will appreciate that. OR maybe you can just go check out this video HERE
Another great thing about a band like Mekons is that if you see them a couple of times over years you are liable to hear them playing mostly different tunes. From the last time I saw them a few years back they played only a handful of the same songs. They played Thee Olde Trip To Jerusalem early in this set and their second encore began with Ghosts of American Astronauts.
Their new record and material is as strong as anything they've ever done and it is amazing how music made over so long a period and of such variations in style, fits together cohesively in a set. Their shows are time capsules but with past, present and a little future all tossed in together.
Who says indie rock and dance music cannot mix? Who sayeth never the twain shall meet? Probably no one really but if anyone were to so blaspheme they would be proven abruptly wrong at a Cut Copy
show. The band are heavy on the dance but they mix in the indie rock quite nicely as well. There is instrumentation in the midst of all the electronics and they are never lost, never missing in the mix. Australians
seem to be taking the lead in this genre of dance music that rocks a little and more power to them.
Make no mistake, however, this is much more dance music than anything else. It never gets repetitive or dull or loses energy or bases that energy on something recorded months ago. The live performance provides the energy. I have seen some dance bands whose performance is about hired on guys playing in the background (and wardrobe...yawwwn). No worries about that being the case with Cut Copy. You may even notice an ACOUSTIC guitar in the photos.
Cut Copy’s third, and probably most ambitious record, Zonoscope
, came out in early 2011. The band made a name for themselves with 2008’s In Ghost Colours
(or Colors for those of us not in the Commonwealth). The band also tour like crazy. This is their third trip to Chicago, including a date at Pitchfork 2011.
Cut Copy hail from Melbourne and the current tour ends in Paris at the Pitchfork Festival in the City Lights
after numerous October dates in the USA or at least that is the last date currently scheduled. Find out more on current dates HERE
Zonoscope, the latest from Cut Copy
I turned around and there were FANS there...amazing...
Caveman are a...man..I have a hard time describing them, not because they are so oddball or out there but because all the descriptions and genres sort of mean nothing these days. I could say "low-fi" because they have that vaguely noisy, almost ambient tinge that some bands who "did battle" under that moniker had. They could also be called "indie rock" but that has never really meant anything when it comes to sound has it?
So I suppose I will call it melodic indie lo-fi. From now on, that is what I am doing, making up fake genres. Wait..I do that already. You can find out what the band sounds like on your own when they physically release CoCo Beware on November 15, 2011 (September 13 digitally). You can also check out a track below.
Caveman's Old Friend
Caveman lost their drummer before this gig. They did not misplace him. He had to head to the hospital for some reason. I am betting no one would have know, they brought in someone else from NYC and had The War On Drugs drummer sit in on the last several songs. It isn't an accident that that is when the set really took off. The last two songs might have been the evening's highlight.
OK so I do actually SHOOT photos at places OTHER than Schubas. It just seems to work out that bands I shoot seem to always PLAY there. I am not complaining. Schubas is a pretty good place to see, and hear, a show. It is not always the most fun place to try to take photos, Other people seem to get decent shots. I wonder what the problem is? Hmmm.
Opener to the opener, Tammar...