Music, Uncategorized

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Talk at a Folk Concert

Following up on your Monkey’s post from this weekend, in which he was gnashing his teeth over the overtalkative crowd that ruined an otherwise great performance by the Great Lake Swimmers at the Middle East in Cambridge Friday night.

1. It’s Rude: It’s rude to the performer who is trying to play his songs, and it is rude to the people in the audience who are trying to listen but can’t hear themselves think because you are jammering in the background. Even if you don’t like the music, have some sympathy for the musician as a person and the audience as your fellow man.

2. It’s an embarrassment to us as music fans. What does it say about us as a town (Boston/Cambridge) that we can’t stop talking long enough to listen to music? Your Monkey was embarrassed to be part of a crowd filled with immature jackasses who were too busy thinking about themselves to realize that they were ruining the night. We are the birthplace of the folk revival movement of the late 1950s, a proud tradition that includes Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. Don’t lets ruin it with our selfishness.

3. It Makes You Look Like An Ass: You may be a perfectly nice person 98% of the time, but when I see you talking during a show my blood starts to boil and soon I hate everything about you. I hate the way you look and the way to stand and the way you hold your drink. I hate the way to talk and I hate the way you check your phone and I hate the people you are talking to.

4. It’s Bad for Business: I wouldn’t blame the Great Lake Swimmers if they didn’t want to come back to Boston to play here again. And I’m not sure I would go see them again in the same setting because the audience is just too distracting to have a good time. What does that mean for the next quiet acoustic singer-songwriter who rolls into town? Should they not even bother showing up here? Should I not get a ticket for the show because I don’t know if I’ll be able to hear the music?

5. There’s always a chance the Monkey could snap. Your Monkey is not a violent person. But he has to admit that his blood was boiling and his back was sweating and it took all of his self control not to turn around and start screaming at all of the people who wouldn’t shut up during the performance. It would not have been pleasant for anyone involved. And there may have been others like him in the crowd who were reaching the same level of frustration and aggravation. Just be nice and respectful and other people will treat you the same way.

So people, please. Tell your friends, your colleagues and your coworkers. Save your conversations for before or after the show. if you have to shout because the music is too loud, maybe it’s time to stop talking.

Thanks — that’s enough on this subject for now.

Music, Podcasts

NPR’s Newport Folk Festival Coverage

When your Monkey first saw the lineup of bands for this year’s Newport Folk Festival, he nearly dropped his banana and fell straight out of his tree.

The Fleet Foxes, The Decemberists, Iron and Wine, The Avett Brothers and Gillian Welsh all on one stage? Are you kidding me?

It sounded like a great show, but tickets were expensive and your Monkey had a vacation already planned. So he had to pass on it.

Luckily NPR and the All Songs Considered Program was there to cover the event and has been providing your Monkey with enough live music podcasts from that day that he almost feels like he was there.

All he needs now is a pair of Birkenstocks, a sunburn, and a guilty white liberal conscience.

But seriously folks…

Let’s talk about the good, the bad and the surprising from that day.

The Good:

Oh Gilllian Welsh! Your talent as a singer and songwriter is matched only by your suprising knowledge of Red Sox folklore.

Sure your flight was delayed and you barely made it to Newport in time for your show, and sure you had to get a police escort to the festival grounds like a certain Red Sox catcher once needed to get to Fenway, but boy did you knock your performance out of the park.

Awesome job with your standard stuff (The Revelator, Look At Miss Ohio) and a great cover of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.

Find her performance here.

The Bad:

OK, bad is a little harsh for this act. Maybe disappointing is a little bit better. Your Monkey has had a love/hate relationship with Iron and Wine’s music for a long time now. Sometimes it is great and sometimes it seems so soft and dull that it almost disappears.

Sam Beam (the singer and guitarist behind Iron and Wine) started off strong with a cover of the Postal Service song Such Great Heights, but his performance then seemed to fade away into less interesting stuff.

Your Monkey would have been much happier had he played “Boy With a Coin” from his previous album or his excellent new song “Belated Promise Ring.”

But alas, how much can the non-paying, non-attending customer complain?

Judge for yourself. Iron and Wine’s performance is here.

The Surprising:

The Low Anthem. There is a great do-it-yourself story behind this Rhode Island band’s appearance at this year’s festival that you can listen to on the NPR All Songs Considered Saturday Roundup podcast here.

But aside from the story, the band’s performance of “Oh My God Charlie Darwin” from their new album of the same name beat out material from the Fleet Foxes, the Decemberists, Billy Bragg and others for the honor of most memorable song of the day. (At least in the opinion of a Monkey who wasn’t there and has only heard highlights.)

Here is a song from the Low Anthem.

Also, your Monkey has only listened to day one of the festival coverage so far. Perhaps there will be another update for day 2. Stay tuned to find out more.

Music, Podcasts

KEXP Live Performance Podcast Roundup

Your Monkey has been hard at work this week typing away and feeding the beast with new copy, but he has had a chance to catch up on the past three weeks of KEXP live performance podcasts.

A good mix of new bands, old bands, and one talented female singer with amazing potential.

Japandroids — This duo from Vancouver, British Columbia are the critical darlings of the moment. Another guitar and drums duo like the White Stripes and the Black Keys, the Japandroids make a huge wall of sound using just two instruments. They are nice guys and well worth a listen, but your Monkey is wondering if their sound will sustain itself for an entire album. Three or four tracks at a time seems just about enough for the moment.

The Vaselines — This Scottish band is perhaps best known for being an early favorite of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain. Nirvana memorably covered/interpreted the Vaselines’ song Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam during the band’s MTV unplugged performance. What this Monkey did not know is that two other Nirvana songs from the Incesticide EP (Molly’s Lips and Son of a Gun) are Vaselines covers as well. It is fascinating to hear the male and female vocal harmonies on these original tracks.

Bat for Lashes You don’t need this Monkey to tell you that Bat for Lashes (real name Natasha Kahn) is the real deal. She has a soaring voice and a talent for writing atmospheric songs that are laced with mysticism. Or something like that. Once again this is a good listen, though your Monkey can’t help feeling like it’s not quite as great as it could be. Perhaps Kahn hasn’t reached her full potential yet. But hey, she’s young, she’s talented, and she’s got plenty of time.

Plus she makes a great video. Check this out.

You’ll have to click through and watch it on youtube because embedding is disabled. The video is worth it, though.

Podcasts, Uncategorized

KEXP Live Music Podcast Roundup

Your Monkey seems to go through cycles in his podcast listening habits.

Sometimes all he wants to hear is talk show podcasts and documentaries, and at other times all he wants is music.

Lately he has been in the music mood, which has given him an opportunity to catch up on the last four offerings from the KEXP Live Performances podcast series.

Country rocker Steve Earle was first on the plate. Earle stopped by a few weeks ago to promote his new album of Townes Van Zandt covers (simply called “Townes”). Van Zandt is a widely respected but somewhat obscure country singer-songwriter who is perhaps most famous for the song “Pancho and Lefty.” Willie Nelson made the song famous, but for this Monkey’s money the Van Zant original is probably the best. Earle does an admirable job covering Van Zant on this podcast, though his version of Poncho and Lefty from the Sound Opinions podcast last month is probably a little better. Here is a link to Earle’s website.

Then came a short set from popular French rockers Phoenix (click here for myspace page), who have had a modern rock hit with the song Liztomania. Phoenix are pretty much the buzz band of the moment, so your Monkey was a little afraid that they would be all hype and no substance. But to his surprise, the band played a short, tight acoustic set and they seemed to be pretty down to earth guys.

The highlight of the four podcasts would have to be the Brooklyn rock band Pela (link to band’s myspace site is here). The magic of this band is in the voice of frontman Billy McCarthy, who has a blistering delivery that is apparently matched by a high energy stage show (there have been some broken bones in the past).

Last on the docket was El Ten Eleven (band’s website is here), an instrumental duo from Los Angeles that played a couple of pretty good tracks.  This band recently lent their skills to the soundtrack for the cult fave documentary Helvetica, and are apparently featured on the director’s follow-up film as well. Perhaps this band paid the price for being the last of four performances that Your Monkey listened to today, but there didn’t seem to be anything particularly unique. Just good, groovy, high energy stuff.

The excellent KEXP podcast can be found here.

Thanks again to the station and artists involved for delivering so much good stuff for free.

And here is Pela. This performance is pretty good, but if you want to hear Pela at its best, check out their studio track for Tenement Teeth. The only version of that song on You Tube is a live one, and it doesn’t quite do the band justice.