Oct 132010

ted-leo-and-the-pharmacists_live_the-social_orlando_kisses-and-noiseHere is another acclaimed talent coming to town this month. He is an example of another cult talent that I’m aware of and heard many times, but don’t know much about. Like The National, he seems to accrue fans that absolutely adore his work. Ted’s proto-punk has morphed into a sort of anthemic, low-fi indie rock. Pharmacist shows are known to be raw and rife with kinetic energy.

Oct 122010

pharoahe-monch_the-social_orlando_kisses-and-noiseHip hop mainstay Pharoahe Monch will be rockin’ The Social tonight as Rock(rap)tober rolls on. “Simon Says” was a mainstay on my WPRK show way back and Pharoahe Monch has continued to put out solid music ever since. Apparently his name is derived from a bad haircut that left him looking like a monchichi (remember them?). I can sympathize as my thick hair, when shaved, looks the same after a few days and earned the same comparison. My lyrical stylings never garnered any cool monikers though. Pharoahe is held as one of the premiere lyricists in hip hop and Kool Moe Dee actually regards him as one of the best, #26 on his list of all time MC’s. This is certain be a killer and probably late show at the Soash.

Oct 112010

blitzen-trapper-thesocial-orlando-kissesandnoiseThe show opened with Pearly Gate Music which was some guy with an electric guitar that reminded me a little of Lilly Taylor’s character in Say Anything, I kept waiting for him to belt, “Joe lies! / Joe lies when he cries!” The music was quiet and poignant, but if that’s what music sounds like at the pearly gates, then I’m glad I’m going to hell. His MySpace music player sounds like he mixes in more instruments for the recordings to be fair.

Avi Buffalo played a short set punctuated by their super-catchy single, “What’s in it for?” The group was stripped down since the last time they were in town opening for Rogue Wave. It seemed like there were more members of the band last time. I’m not sure if this was a trio to tour with Blitzen or a new direction for the group. The way the diminutive Avigdor’s (Avi) guitar playing is progressing he could find success as a 3 or 4 piece.

Blitzen Trapper took the stage earlier than posted to begin a really weird and short evening. The bass from DJ Scratch ‘n Sniff upstairs at Sky 60 was rattling through Trapper’s rather loud performance. At one point they asked if that was a theme in Orlando, “if House music just pumped everywhere you went.” Something was up – full moon maybe? The crowd was thin in number and odd in personality. Some music fans were peppered throughout, but the crowd was dominated by frat meatheads, slutty college girls (not that I’m complaining), and a strange proliferation of cougars.

People were sloppy drunk and engaging the band in weird banter. Singer, Eric Earley, proclaimed that both of his harmonicas broke (I’m not even sure if that is possible). Finally, Eric sliced open his thumb (I think while struggling to open a beer bottle) and stopped playing to seek out a way to ebb the bleeding. Whilst wrapping his thumb in duct tape, a girl emerged from the audience with an unopened box of bandages. I asked her, “What the hell are you doing with a box of band aids at a show?” She responded, “ I know, it’s weird. I just bough them today.”

They did forgo one of their coolest songs in “Wild Mountain Nation,” but still had enough tunes to make for a good show. BT has that sort of 70’s radio, southern mountain rock feel like the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, which sounded great and well-played when the chaos dimmed enough to focus on the music.

Oct 112010

beach-house-band_orlando-music-blog -kisses-and-noiseVampire Weekend continues to tour behind the well-received Contra. I’ve seen Vampire Weekend and I’m not sure how they will translate in a much bigger venue, so they aren’t a draw for me really. Beach House is the band to see tonight. The funny thing about Googling them here is in an effort to find out about the band you will end up booking a weekend in New Smyrna. This dream pop duo has close ties to Grizzly Bear lending vocals to a handful of songs while Grizzly Bear members helped to engineer their latest album, Teen Dream. The indie meets The Lion King sounds of The Very Best could be interesting too.

I’m not sure if this is an official video or not, but this is a great song. It is so simple, but it builds so gracefully and sounds so big by the end.

This definitely isn’t the official video (can’t embed it), but it’s fuckin’ weird. This song features vocals from Vampire’s Ezra Koenig, which would be pretty cool if he performed this with them tonight.

Oct 082010
Portland's Blitzen Trapper

Portland's Blitzen Trapper

Northwestern beard-y folks will be stopping by The Social this evening in the form of Blitzen Trapper. These guys are in the same vein as other northwesterners like Modest Mouse and Built to Spill, but embrace a slightly more country or rustic feel in their brand of indie-alternative. Blitzen’s been here several times, but I’ve missed them all. Avi Buffalo is a band of 19 year-old wunderkinds with surprising penchant for catchy, heartfelt pop rock. They were here a few months back with Rogue Wave and revealed a slightly space-y, psychedelic side to their sound.

Oct 072010

the-national_house-of-blues_orlando_kisses-and-noise_9Owen Pallet was an interesting compliment to The National. His proto-folk was rife with powerful, intimate lyrics and the delivery was unique. One friend described him as Andrew Byrd meets Beirut, whilst another well-versed friend described Owen as an Andrew Byrd that doesn’t fuck-up as much live. Owen and a single musical partner built subtle, fragile walls of loops by layering chord progressions and melodies one at a time. Most of this was done with Owen’s extremely versatile violin. He could use effects to create the sound of a bass guitar or drum on his violin, loop the rhythm, then play a keyboard melody, add it to the loop, and add violin melodies and vocals to the top.

The National brought their darkly personal and brooding indie rock “A” game. The band was taut and crisp as they moved through what are quickly becoming classics, like “Anyone’s Ghost,” “Squalor Victoria,” “Conversation 16,” “Abel,” “Daughters of the SoHo Riots,” and “Fake Empire.” The guys released the gripping tension Matt Berninger’s somber songwriting by ribbing him about his melancholy lyrical style. Matt and the rest of the band sprinkled witty banter in between songs (and constant refills of white wine) and kept the capacity crowd engaged for an hour and 40 minutes.

The drinking, the banter, and the Ohio-bred sense of stark realism made me draw the comparison of a more mature and refined Guided by Voices. I told this to National super-fan and St. Pete Times / REAX columnist / photographer “Sonic Gabe” and it seemed like I punched him in the stomach. Maybe I’m wrong.

Towards the end of the show, Matt left the stage to serenade the entire HOB audience with “Terrible Love” by working his way around the floor and towardthe-national_house-of-blues_orlando_kisses-and-noise_8 the back bar. The National’s encore was perfect with a rousing version of “Mr. November” and a gentle unplugged (not just acoustic, but totally unplugged – no mics, no amps) sing-along with the crowd and Owen Pallet for “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” – a sweet little butterfly kiss goodnight.

Lewis better be a girl … wait …

This is a great concert moment … Here is another vantage (from the floor) from thequitugs.wordpress.com

A really cool way to end the show. The crowd takes its cue and hushes …

Another perspective of “Vanderlyle” from a friend.

Oct 072010


Too much rock (and / or pop)! My brain is shutting down, but just because I’m a pussy doesn’t mean you should miss a pretty cool show. The 80′s tinged psychedelic pop of Yeasayer and the low-fi electronic chill wave of Washed Out should make for a great evening. My hipster-o-meter is literally exploding into flames as we speak!

The cooler, non boxing muscle guys, version with the naked people can be found here.

This is the first Yeasayer song I ever heard. I was going to include their latest video for “Madder Red” – the one with the cute-y from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but it so fucking unsettling I decided to forgo it. It reminds of the Tool videos. I love scary, gross, and weird, but there was this sort of disturbing tone about them and the Yeasayer video that made me ill.

This is a great song. i think it is a fan-made video. The others are cool too. So is the Toro Y Moi remix.

Oct 062010

Rocktober, as I so originally dubbed this month, in central Florida is off to a great start with Phantogram, the American Carnage Tour already passed, and LCD Soundsystem with Sleigh Bells Tuesday, October 5th at the Hard Rock Live. This is the first time for either of these bands to play Orlando and they popped our cherry good.

Sleigh Bells’ outrageously infectious and subtly heavy noise pop kicked off the show. This Brooklyn duo creates a fuck-ton of volume and sound for 2 peoplesleigh-bells_orlando_kisses-and-noise_2 and an iPod. They played the majority of their debut album, Treats, with ear-splitting high energy. Derek Miller’s guitar wailed as the sexy Alexis Krauss screamed and danced through their small, but powerful setlist including “Kids,” “Tell ‘Em,” and the closer, “Crown on the Ground.”

I’ve always had a sort of sentimental draw to the feeling LCD Soundsystem creates, but never was a real fan. That changed last night. After speaking with drummer, Pat Mahoney, I got a sense for what the live show was like – how they would deliver these mostly electronic dance pop tunes. He said it was mostly organic with just about all of the sounds being reproduced live by the various members of the band. They delivered. The live production breathed life and soul into their already charismatic catalog.

soundsystem_orlando_kisses-and-noise_6Pat on drums and the seductive Nancy Whang on a myriad of synth and assorted keys seemed to steal the show. They were assisted by a number of other musicians, working in guitar, bass, and all kinds of percussion to recreate (and outdo the recorded versions) the swell and build of songs like “Dance Yourself Clean” and “All My Friends.” They ended the first set with “Trials and Tribulations” then incredibly powerful and high energy, barn burning versions of “Movement” and “Yeah.” The 3-song encore included “Losing My Edge.” This song is a popular fan favorite, yet sort of a sleeper for me – but not live. It surged and roared as the lighting that surrounded the stage pulsed and swirled creating an epic show stopping wave of sight and sound.

Oct 062010

Matt Berninger - Crooner and Songwriter for The National

OK, so I am not a huge fan of  The National, but legitimate sources will not shut up about how great they are – especially live. I will have to admit that the assortment of tunes I’ve heard from their acclaimed High Violet continue to grow on me, so I’m waiting to be “blown away” by their performance at HOB. I missed them close Anti*Pop 2006 (I think) with John Vanderslice in favor of seeing Danzig that same night.

The preceding statement for The National also applies to Owen Pallet for me. So this should be an interesting show. Just about any artist that shoots a “Take Away Show” for La Blogoteque (above) walks away with a gem.

Oct 042010

James and Pat of LCD Soundsystem

James and Pat of LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem embarked on what could be their last tour. The latest album, This is Happening, is critically acclaimed to say the least and enjoying accolades at a rare confluence of commercial success and hipster cred. So why would James Murphy and company choose now to hold back the reigns and end the journey?

Drummer, percussionist, DJ, and James Murphy collaborator, Pat Mahoney, took a little time after soundcheck in Philidelphia to speak with me about drums, touring behind such a well received body of work, and hinted at yearning for simpler things …

K&N: Now Wikipedia states that you were a sergeant in the 1st Madras European Fusiliers (later The Royal Dublin Fusiliers), during the Indian Mutiny. Is that true?

Pat: It is

K&N: OK, then I’m talking to the right guy

Pat: I am also a rabid anti-abortionist apparently. The Reverend Pat Mahoney.

K&N: So, for the record, who are you and what do you do?

Pat: My name is Patrick Mahoney and I play drums with LCD Soundsystem. I also DJ with James Murphy as Special Disco Version and I am a visual artist as well.

K&N: Now, speaking of drums, I’ve always been interested on how a drummer with an organic kit works with music like LCD? Working in what seems like a mostly electronic environment – mixing in rock with a little dance pop. Are you playing with tracks? Are real drums being used to add an element of live rock? Do you use special triggers on the drums or something to create a more dance-y, drum machine sound?

Pat: We play a few songs to rhythm tracks that come out of an NPC, but we – as a rule – in order to keep it feeling live, and letting it breathe as a performance, um, we have a bunch of rules as to what can come out of the NPC.

Generally, only things that would be totally synthetic sounds, like 606 drum machine beat, but we would never sample congas or something like that. If there are congas on the track, then there is someone playing congas on stage.

Typically when James records, he’ll record a drum machine, then play live drums over it. If there are live drums in the song then there are live drums on the stage. That’s generally how it works so it doesn’t sound too canned.

For the majority of the songs, I am the timekeeper – there is no backing or click tracks.

K&N: OK, so there is that sense of the songs being “alive,” and taking on new forms in concert?

Pat: Yeah, if things are exciting, it could be 5bpm faster or we could slow it down if the need arises. If there is a step-up in energy, I can step up a few bpm’s, capture the moment, and really propel the song forward.

K&N: So you can kind of orchestrate the song based on the moment? You can speed it up and everyone else can jump in with you? They’re not anchored to any kind of pre-sets or tracks?

Pat: Yeah. That’s the other thing. Another rule we have is that no one on stage can hear anything the crowd can’t hear. No one is playing with a click or anything. Sure sometimes things can go wrong, but that is live music.

[media id=50] “Dance Yourself Clean”


K&N: How is the tour going? How are the crowds? How is it playing from night to night?

Pat: It’s been a great – really great response. We just did a 5-week run of festivals in Europe and we are heading back in November. And we just kicked off the American leg of the tour last night in New Jersey.

K&N: Now have you been to central Florida before? I don’t think I’ve ever seen LCD come through.

Pat: We played south Florida. We played Miami for the Winter Music Conference a few years back.

K&N: So this your first trip here?

Pat: Yeah, pretty much. My mom’s family is from central Florida so there is some, I don’t know, sulfur water running through these veins.

K&N: How does it feel to tour behind such acclaimed material? Is there pressure or is just great to deliver this stuff?

Pat: What’s really nice is we’ve existed thus far, kind of in a funny place where we never had to compromise anything we do. We’ve always done this thing that is unique to us and somehow we have a public that has trusted us and come along with us for that. It’s really good and it just feels like everything is firing on all cylinders.

For a long time on this tour we weren’t playing much of this new record, which I think was frustrating for the fans and for us. One of the reasons is that we simply didn’t have enough time to rehearse, but now we are playing most of the new record and good selections from the previous two. It’s really working beautifully.

K&N: What is your favorite thing to do in each city? Do you have to hit some local food places or record stores or something like that?

Pat: Yeah, that’s part of the pleasure of touring is getting to know a bunch of cities in an intimate way. We arrive and it’s not a 9 to 5 type job or anything so we have time to wander around and explore.


Pat with James as Special Disco Version

Record stores are high on the agenda. Finding a restaurant you really love … one that feels like a little bit of home is really important. We’re always on thelookout for good food – we like to eat. And if you’re away from home as long as we are – (wow) it’s gonna be a year and a half when it’s done – any little bit of home comfort is extremely welcome.

K&N: Yeah, I bet those deli trays [I stammer and think of the most hackneyed and storied element in the life of the performer – the deli tray] backstage get a little old.

Pat: There are only so many sandwiches a man can eat.

K&N: Ha, I haven’t found that number yet? [the fat guy in me is screaming to break free – and wants a sandwich]

Pat: Right? After I’m home a few days, I’m craving a sandwich.

K&N: You being a long-time DJ yourself, are you excited about coming to Orlando – the House music capital of the world? Any DJ’s in the area you listen to?

Pat: I don’t know right now. I actually played in Orlando – last year … with Andy Butler. It was really close to WMC so the crowds in town were smaller, but we met a lot of nice people.

I’m actually excited to go back to south Florida and shop for records. I used to live there so it is nice to go back.

K&N: What do you do to stay connected to the outside world while you are in this tour bubble?

Pat: Well, you end up getting pretty disconnected when you’re away for so long.

K&N: Are you a big fan of social media? Is that a way to stay connected to home?

Pat: I am not. I’ve been a bit, I mean, living a public life to a certain extent – we end up valuing our privacy, you know? Also, I have a 9 year-old child so I try to keep a low profile.

I tend to think if I’m not calling somebody directly, texting them or sending them an email, then I don’t really need to be in touch with them.

Also, I think I’m just old enough to not be a part of it – it’s not really a part of my life, it’s almost alien to me.

K&N: So there is not a device that you’re anchored to like an iPhone or Blackberry or something?

Pat: Ha. All that being said – I have an iPhone and I love it. I have a girlfriend that lives in Paris and I stay in touch with her through an app that allows us to stay in touch.

K&N: Skype?

Pat: It’s called WhatsApp.

K&N: What medium do you think is the biggest push for your music? Social media, blogs, satellite radio?

Pat: As you know, we were a little late coming to the whole social media thing. When James (Murphy) said we were promoting our party in New York we were still sending out emails and mass texts. Then he was like, “whoa, we could just Facebook this.” No one pays attention to anything but that anyway. So that was like a realization for us … four years too late.

K&N: It’s funny because the vibe I get from LCD is so current, it’s like future pop or something.

Pat: Yeah, I mean it’s funny. The history of electronic music is filled with all these machines that are failures – at least in terms with what their designers intended. They were trying to replicate acoustic instruments and they ended up making other weird sounds. Then other people sort of developed a kind of music using those weird sounds.

We (the band) use a lot of technology, but some of it is quite old. We are kind of caught between a bunch of things. I think it is pretty special. We don’t sound like other bands.

So yeah, I think everyone is a little ambivalent toward social technologies. People use them in the band, but it is not really “where we live.”

I’m always searching for records and one of the resources I use constantly is YouTube. There’s any number of songs you can’t find anywhere else and some weirdo collector will put a recording up with a still of the center label on the record or something. A lot of our performances and videos are there, but I’m not really sure how people are finding us.

K&N: From what I’ve seen, there is tremendous buzz about the album and band on the “blogosphere” and plenty of reviews and video from the shows.

Pat: I’m really proud of our live shows. Especially, playing festivals where a lot of people are unfamiliar with our music. The see it, they like it, then they evangelize about the live show. Then, occasionally, somebody buys a record.

K&N: How do compare festival shows to the theater shows? I can see you guys sounding great in a theater, but really being able to amp up a large festival crowd with the music.

Pat: It’s a really different experience playing to 40,000 people than it is to 5,000 people. When you’re doing a festival people aren’t there to see you. I mean there are some people there to see you, but there are a lot of people just walking by or hearing buzz about you and you have to deliver to them. And that’s a really exciting challenge.

K&N: What are you listening to right now?

Pat: Right now I’m trying to give my ears a fucking break. (laughs) I’m listening to the 3-dozen things I bought at a record store last month- basically semi-obscure disco and house music.

K&N: There is talk of LCD calling it quits, or at least taking a break from the big stuff like albums and touring and putting out random EP’s and 12 inches. So what’s next for you?

Pat: I’m going to continue to DJ. I have a music project with Nancy Whang from the band, so I want to work on some of my own music, continue working on LCD stuff, DJ with James, make some art work , so, yeah – there is no shortage of stuff for me to do.

What Pat will do in the short term is shake up the Hard Rock Live in Orlando on Tuesday, October 5th with James Murphy, Nancy Whang, Phil Mossman, Tyler Pope, and Gavin Russom and the rest of LCD Soundsystem. Brooklyn noise pop band, Sleigh Bells, is set to open the show ensuring that your hipster-o-meter will burst into flames.

Interview appeared in REAX Online 10.5.10