Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Front Bottoms, Cheap Girls

The bands:
Sean from Andrew Jackson Jihad
Small Parks
The Front Bottoms
Cheap Girls

The venue:
Mac's Bar, Lansing MI

October 13, 2012

I first heard the Front Bottoms last fall. "Maps" was playing on the Impact (Michigan State's fan-freaking-tastic radio station) and darn if it's not a catchy tune. I threw a few more of their songs into heavy rotation. When I heard they'd be in Lansing of all places I was in for sure.

I'd never been to Mac's. Despite having driven by it a billion times, I didn't even know where it was. But it was easy to find, relatively easy to park. It'd have been easier if I'd waited to park until after they announced the show was sold out and people started to leave. Thankfully, I am all about being prepared, and had had my ticket for ages

By the time I got in, Sean from Andrew Jackson Jihad was mid-set and the place was packed. I didn't know who he was but he sounded really familiar. I liked his stuff a lot. Great, sometimes bizarre lyrics and a unique vocal style. When he announced at the end of his set who he was, the familiarity finally made sense. I'm not a huge AJJ fan but I know one of their songs, and like it quite a bit, so that was cool.

Small Parks was up next. I'd never heard of them, but apparently they're local. They put on a good show and they sounded alright. I can't say I was blown away but I'd be pleased if we crossed paths again.

Front Bottoms were everything I hoped they'd be. The crowd was singing along, the band was awesome. They played most of my favorite songs right off the bat and they sounded awesome. I don't know which was the best. "The Beers", maybe. "Maps" is up there, obviously. But then there's "Rhode Island" and "Flashlight"... I really just can't say.

They encouraged people to stay for Cheap Girls, which I found surprising because I thought most people would have been there for Cheap Girls since they're from Lansing and I've heard quite a few people talk them up but the place kind of cleared out after the Front Bottoms. I stuck around for awhile out of curiosity, mostly because I'd missed their set at Common Ground. I understand why people like them; they're good. But in the end, they didn't really do it for me.

Mac's isn't my favorite venue for a super crowded show. It was about ten thousand degrees and too crowded to be comfortable. That being said, they have great bands, the sound was good and they serve Strongbow so I won't write them off just because I wasn't prepared for the space. I will be next time.

New Music: "Pretty, Sure" by Old Best Friend

I first heard Mike Comite of Old Best Friend this summer at Common Ground when he was playing with Julia Nunes. Together they played a couple of songs from the Old Best Friend EP Keep in Touch and I was sold pretty much right from the opening line of "Things That Happen." I bought the EP that day, listened to it about ten trillion times. It's fantastic.

So naturally, when Mike posted a new song a couple days ago, I was all over it. I felt like I'd been waiting an awfully long time to hear something new. I was not disappointed.

It isn't all shiny like a studio recording but it's everything I love about Old Best Friend. It tells an interesting story in a way that makes you want to hear it. Again and again, in my case. I can't wait to hear what comes next.

Pretty, Sure (Live) by Old Best Friend

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Music: "Different World" by Nick Flora

Just to clarify -- by "New Music", I mean New To Me.

I saw someone mention this dude on Twitter so I looked him up. At first I went to his website and there were songs to download but I didn't want to make that kind of commitment so I looked him up on Spotify first. I put all of the songs on random and went about my business. I got distracted by reading and didn't really hear any of the music.

Until this song. And I thought, "Holy crap, what am I listening to?" (because I have a really short attention span and terrible short term memory). When I figured out the source was Spotify and this was the song, well, I looked it up on YouTube and proceeded to write this post. I can do some things in a timely manner.

This song is kind of like being pulled along in a current that you don't notice until you're swept away by it. Understated, beautiful.

In other words, I like this song a lot and you should probably give it a try. Just in case you like it too.

And now I'm off to find & listen to more. Thanks for ruining my evening plans, Nick Flora. Thanks a lot.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Los Lonely Boys

The bands:
Los Lonely Boys
Lynyrd Skynyrd

The venue:
DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI

September 21, 2012

When an old friend of mine called me up at 7 a.m. on a Friday I thought I must have pocket dialed her so I hung up. Thankfully, she knows me well enough to send a follow up text because she had extra tickets to the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert that night. How could I pass up an opportunity like that?

The weather was cool and damp but that didn't seem to stop anyone from rocking out. Los Lonely Boys were, for lack of a better word, groovy. They just jammed on and on and it was a lot of fun to listen to. The people around us were really into it. Of course they played "Heaven" to round out their set which is not only a great jam but really fun to sing along to.

When Skynyrd came out the crowd went bonkers. I've never been a huge fan but I know the standards, like "Sweet Home Alabama", "That Smell", "Gimme Three Steps", etc. They played a great show. They're down to, oh, I don't know, two original members (not including the back up singers, who I think I heard were also originals but I can't swear to it) but every person on stage was rocking out and looking like they were having the time of their lives.

There was one moment where they slowed it down and the lead singer said "Now, we're living in crazy times," and I thought here it comes. We're going to get political and I'm going to get uncomfortable but all he did was send out a call of support to the troops, which of course I can get behind. They dedicated the next song to the troops. I don't recall the song as it wasn't one that I knew but watching the audience I knew it was a favorite and it was really moving to me how moved everyone else was by it. They dedicated other songs to fallen band members, as well.

Then the lights went out and we waited for the encore. There was only one song of theirs that I knew that they hadn't played. A spotlight came on, illuminating a confederate flag and a golden figure perched atop of it. Against all reason, a part of my brain screamed, "Holy crap! That's a dinosaur!" The other part of my brain, the intelligent part, countered, "No way is that a dinosaur, idiot. That's an eagle." And so it was, but I swear it did look a little bit like a brontosaurus or something from where I was sitting. The band returned to the stage and asked what song we wanted to hear. Thunderous cries of "Free Bird!" filled the air. It was a pretty cool moment, they killed the song and then it was over.

Would I go see Lynyrd Skynyrd again? Probably not and not only because it is a serious pain for me to type their name. They just aren't really my thing. But that didn't stop me from enjoying the show immensely and I will always be grateful to my friend for thinking of inviting me. It was a heck of an experience and one I won't soon forget.