Dinosaur in Trouble: proudly serving Twin Cities music geeks

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

SXSW Pictures


The Texas capitol (photo taken during the 2005 SXSW music festival in Austin)

Check it out! I just posted pictures (that I took with my very own camera) of every single band that I saw at SXSW. To see them, simply go back to last Tuesday’s blog entry, and click on the names of the bands. Keep in mind that I went to SXSW as a music fan, not a photographer. So if my pictures aren’t spectacular enough for you, it’s up to you to add special effects.

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

North by Midwest


Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart and Caralee McElroy

In my desperate attempt to recreate SXSW, I spent the entire day yesterday going to shows. About an hour after I woke up, I headed down to Aardvark Records to see an in-store performance by John Peel favorites, Midnight Evils. The Evils were celebrating the release of their new album, “Breakin’ It Down.” Their actual CD release party was later that night at the 7th St. Entry. The show at the Entry promised to be a chaotically good time, but I opted for the Aardvark show because my night was already packed. Of course, the crazy garage punks had no problem rattling the walls of the tiny record store. Luckily, I carry earplugs with me everywhere I go. And people used to laugh…At least I won’t be completely deaf by the time I’m 30. The show can be summed up in the words of the guitarist (after he was exhausted from singing a new song): “A whole lotta hootin’ and hollerin’!” Needless to say, the Midnight Evils rock, and so does their new album.

Next up was an early show at the Triple Rock that I’ve been anticipating for quite a while. The headliner has been the object of my obsession for about a year. You guessed it, the incredibly beautiful mess that is Xiu Xiu. Since I actually got to the show on time, I had to wait in line to get into the venue – thus far, I was doing an excellent job of recreating SXSW. Vox Vermillion kicked off the show with a bunch of pretty songs that will appear on their upcoming album. They performed their entire set sans drummer. But if you had never heard their music before, you wouldn’t even realize that they are supposed to have a drummer. They worked so well as a threesome. I was not disappointed at all.

The Dead Science played next. The whispered vocal intertwined with avant-garde jazz-inspired experimental indie rock was an ideal build-up for Xiu Xiu. The music was pretty low-key, but the singer would make sure we were awake by, every once in a while, letting out a Blixa Bargeld (Einstürzende Neubauten) pterodactyl screech. Was their music pretentious? Yes. Did I like it? Yes. Am I listening to it right now? Yes.

Jherek Bischoff (the bassist from The Dead Science) and Sam Mickens (the singer/guitarist from The Dead Science) appear on a lot of Xiu Xiu’s recorded work, so I was expecting the stage to be full of people during Xiu Xiu’s set. But it wasn’t so. Jamie Stewart and Caralee McElroy were perfectly content performing unassisted. Not a problem. Now, I’m going to admit something that could potentially be embarrassing or expose my sissiness. Xiu Xiu does crazy things to me when I see them live. There’s nothing like it. As soon as they start playing, all of my senses focus on the music. I enter into a trance, and I no longer notice any of my surroundings. I get butterflies in my stomach and I feel like I need to cry. I spent their entire set squeezing my fingers. I can’t really explain why Xiu Xiu has that effect on me. It’s crazy, but Xiu Xiu did the same thing to me the last time I saw them, and I wasn’t even familiar with their music back then. I know I’m not alone in this. Last night, during lulls in Xiu Xiu’s music, you could hear a hair drop. Aside from applause, the audience was completely silent. I don’t even know if anyone was breathing. There were no side conversations, there were no cell phones, there were no trips to the bathroom. Everyone was completely engrossed in what was going on onstage. I’ve never experienced a band that has that kind of power over an audience. Xiu Xiu is seriously an amazing band. And judging from the new songs they played last night, their new album is going to be another masterpiece.

As if to prove to myself that I’m not a complete sissy, I went to a rock show at the Hexagon Bar immediately after the Xiu Xiu show. Story of the Sea was supposed to play, but they decided to ditch the Hexagon in order to open for The Heavenly States at the Triple Rock’s later show (I bet that was an awesome show – I love The Heavenly States). To fill the void left by Story of the Sea, Knol Tate of Askeleton played an impromptu solo set. Among a set of songs that I didn’t recognize, he did his cover of The Modern Lovers’ “Girl Friend,” and another cover of Wire’s “Heartbeat.” It was nice, but considering that everyone from Low to Big Black does a cover of “Heartbeat,” you’d think that he could have chosen a different Wire song.

Well, I was there to see Tin Horns. And yeah, they rocked, as usual. Almost as entertaining as the Tin Horns was the interpretive dancing in the audience by the guys from Clair de Lune. Funny. For one of their songs, the Tin Horns were joined on stage by none other than Kelsey from Vox Vermillion. What a coincidence. Small world, isn’t it?

Dallas Orbiter played last. I had never seen them before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I liked them a lot. They were very noisy, and their music was layered with many instruments and effects. Like a space-rocking shoegazer band that doesn’t gaze at their shoes. Speaking of coincidences, my wish for a different Wire song was granted when they decided to do their version of Wire’s “Map Ref. 41°N 93°W.” They also did a rockin’ Mark Bolan number. Their original stuff was just as exciting.

It was a great night. But by the time I got home, my eyes were stinging from cigarette smoke and my clothes absolutely reeked. Hey, in one more week, that will no longer be a problem. Hennepin County goes completely smoke free! Some bar owners in Minneapolis have complained that their customers will desert them for St. Paul bars where they can still smoke. Well, they should expect the opposite to happen as well. As much as I love St. Paul venues like the Turf Club, Big V’s, and Station 4, I won’t frequent them as often now that I can watch music in comfort in Minneapolis. It will make decisions on which shows to attend that much easier (I had to choose among eight shows last night). The smoking ban is bad news for nicotine-addicted hipsters, but great news for music fans like me who want to be able to go to shows and not worry about our health.

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Friday, March 25, 2005

But what if the water freezes?


Kirsten and Erin's "laundry room"

You know, in Texas, they do their laundry outside. Weirrrd! They should call it lawndry. OK, I realize that was a very bad joke.

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Hockey Night



The biggest challenge of SXSW wasn’t finding parking, or getting into the popular shows, or navigating through an unfamiliar and chaotic city. No, the biggest challenge was deciding which bands to see, and which bands to skip. I had to follow a set of rigid criteria in order to narrow down my options. First, I wasn’t going to see a band if I had to wait more than a half-hour in line or if the venue was in an inconvenient location. I was also going to focus on bands that I had never seen before (I thought I did a pretty good job of this – only four of the 81 bands were repeats). Lastly, I wasn’t going to spend too much time watching bands from Minnesota since there’d be many opportunities in the future to see them. This last criterion seemed like treason. I felt like I should represent by supporting the bands from my hometown. But rules are rules. So, instead of going to the Hockey Night showcase, I opted for the Apollo Sunshine show (which ended up being one of the most memorable performances of the festival).

Luckily, I was able to make it up to Hockey Night by going to their show at the Triple Rock tonight. Unfortunately, since it was an early (all-ages) show, I wasn’t able to get there in time for the first opener, Malachi Constant. But I’ve never seen a Malachi Constant show that didn’t rock, so I’m sure they were just fine. Troubled Hubble from Chicago was the second opener. They’ve been touring with Hockey Night, and they played with them at SXSW during the Lookout! Records showcase. I was only able to catch the last half of Troubled Hubble’s set tonight. I’m glad I didn’t miss it entirely. They were a lot of fun to watch, mainly because it looked like they were having a lot of fun. I was prepared to catch the bass player in case he fell off the stage. But to my surprise, even with all his jumping and dancing around, he was able to avoid any embarrassing accidents. I also thought that the Christmas lights wrapped around the amps and drum set were a nice touch (call me easily impressed).

Tonight was actually the first time I had ever seen the Hockey Night. I know. Where have I been? So I can’t really compare this show with their live shows of years past. But I’m sure that if I didn’t know that the band I saw tonight was Hockey Night, I would have never guessed that they were the same band that put out Rad Zapping. They had traded in the keyboards and drum loops for harmonized guitars and two drummers! Also, the hip-hop influences were turned down, and the Pavement influences were turned way up. But no need to worry, although they weren’t the genre-bending band I expected, I was just as captivated by their music as I have always been. Yeah, it was good stuff. I have high expectations for the album that they’ll be releasing this summer (in July, I believe).

Let me clear something up. I didn’t mean to sound bitter when I mentioned that it was an early show tonight. I actually love all-ages shows. The fact that there are still venues around that have the balls to put on all-ages shows warms my heart. I used to get so pissed off as a kid when I couldn’t see a band that I loved. I didn’t think that it was right that the survival of music venues was so dependent on alcohol. I didn’t give a shit about alcohol, but I sure did love music. I remember thinking so many times, “Who the fuck has the right to tell me that I can’t enjoy and support our music scene just because I’m not 21?” Kids aren’t stupid. I think we forget that as we grow up. Kids appreciate music just as much as we do. The only reason that so many kids end up listening to shitty corporately-marketed music is because that’s the only stuff that’s accessible to them. It truly is tragic that indie rock is hidden from most people until they turn 21. Anybody who wants to contribute to our local music culture should be embraced regardless of age. Plus, all-ages shows are often much more fun than their exclusive counterparts. You know that everyone is there for the love of the music – they couldn’t care less about scoring “scene points” or getting smashed. Thus, people at all-ages shows aren’t afraid of moving to the music or giving the bands their undivided attention. And you know, sometimes it’s nice to get home from a show before 2:00 a.m. on a weeknight. I might actually get a good night’s sleep tonight. Know what else is cool? My bus transfer didn’t even expire by the time I got out of the Triple Rock!

By the way, Hockey Night, Troubled Hubble, Malachi Constant, and an additional band called Pariah Caste are also playing tomorrow night (Fri. 03-25-2005) at the Turf Club. I recommend checking it out (even though it’s 21+ this time).

1 Comments:

Blogger elissa said...

i believe i was at coachella in 01 and 02! rock! i loved it so so much. camping and music. yeeha!

you should check out the triple rock tonight! wwhheeeeeeeee!

10:29 AM

 

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

SXSW Rocked My World!


Kirsten and I show off our SXSW wristbands at Town Lake Park.

Well, I hate to brag, but I just got back from the greatest spring break ever! Wait, what am I talking about? I love to brag! I spent the entire week in indie rock paradise. Seriously, SXSW was incredible. Everything about the trip was perfect (if you don’t count the 12 hours I spent in the Austin airport today). Kirsten was an amazing host. I had an awesome time hanging out with her, Erin (Kirsten’s roommate), and Dave (Kirsten’s other visiting friend).

There’s so much to report. Way too much for tonight. I saw more live music in four days than most people see in a lifetime. I still don’t know how I pulled it off, but I saw 81 bands while I was in Austin. Yep, 81. If you don’t believe me, I have pictures of every single band I saw as proof. Here they are in alphabetical order -- solo artists are listed by first name, and numbers and symbols are listed as if they were spelled out…you get the idea [click on the band names to see the photos]:

Aberfeldy
A Frames
The Album Leaf
Ambulance Ltd.
American Analog Set
Apollo Sunshine
Be Your Own Pet
Big Business
Black Lips
The Blood Arm
Bloodthirsty Lovers
Bonk
By Divine Right
Calla
Castanets
Communiqué
Th’ Corn Gangg
Cranebuilders
Crooked Fingers
Crystal Skulls
Dälek
Daniel Johnston
Death From Above 1979
Dr. Dog
The Earlies
Enon
Erase Errata
The 40 Thieves
The Gossip
Great Lake Swimmers
Har Mar Superstar
Hella
I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness
Isis
Jennifer Gentle
Jesse Sykes
LCD Soundsystem
The Long Winters
Mark Mallman
Matthew Caws (of Nada Surf)
Mono
The Monolith
Murder By Death
M. Ward
Nathan Hamilton & No Deal
The Natural History
Octopus Project
Old Haunts
Old Man River
The Panda Band
Panthers
the pAper chAse
Papercuts
Patricia Vonne
+/-
Radar Bros.
The Raveonettes
Robyn Hitchcock
The Rosebuds
S
Shearwater
Shelley King
Shonen Knife
Silver
The Six Parts Seven
Skeletons
Sleater-Kinney
Stars
Statistics
Supersystem
Tegan & Sara
The Thermals
These Arms Are Snakes
The Things
Timonium
Tony Teardrop
Trashcan Sinatras
Voxtrot
What Made Milwaukee Famous
World/Inferno Friendship Society
The Wrens

Count ‘em! That’s 81. And you know what? There is so much that I missed. It really was an overwhelming experience. I mean, how often are you forced to choose between Sleater-Kinney, Mono, The Bad Plus, Hella, Elvis Costello, The Wrens, Mark Mallman, Parker and Lily, Murder By Death, Billy Idol, and American Music Club??? (And that’s only a fraction of the sets that were happening around 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday night.) I’m telling you; indie rock paradise.

4 Comments:

Blogger elissa said...

well it worked i am jealous. that wold have been quite a trip. i've been to coachella two times and that's pretty awesome but SXSW sonds ike i would have been in heaven!

and no i didn't get to see the hold steady and that's the first visqueen show i've missed. i was sicker than whatever is really sick. and the t-rock ain't no great place for the sick!

5:22 PM

 
Blogger Terrrorform said...

I didn't see hardly as many bands as you did. If I didn't have to drive solo without the aid of cruise control I would've been there everyday. The Trashcan Sinatras were my favorite performance. I recorded it too, but it got a little fudged. I'm jealous you saw Ambulance LTD too but I'll see them at the City Limits festival.

6:25 AM

 
Blogger 方大同Jason said...

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8:59 PM

 
Blogger 蛋餅不加蔥Amber said...

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5:34 AM

 

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Sunday, March 13, 2005

I'm going to SXSW!!!

It’s official! I’ll be spending next week in Austin, TX experiencing the largest music festival in the world!

You have no idea how excited I am. Everything else in my life has been put on hold for now. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it (whether you want to hear it or not).

2 Comments:

Blogger elissa said...

i am so so so jealous. what an awesome experience that will be!!!

3:53 PM

 
Blogger Lee said...

Actually, one of my biggest motivations for going is to make people jealous of me!

By the way, I hope to catch Visqueen at SXSW. Were you at the Friday night Hold Steady show?

11:52 PM

 

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Friday, March 11, 2005

The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me!




If you’re from out of town, you might not be aware that Lifter Puller is actually the dominant religion in the Twin Cities. Seriously, Craig Finn & Co. have been worshipped here for over a decade. As a result, their fan base has only grown since they disbanded in 2000. People now muse over Lifter Puller with the affection and admiration that was previously only reserved for The Replacements.

So it’s not surprising that when The Hold Steady (Craig and Tad’s “new” band) emerge out of their hiding place in New York, things get a little crazy in the Twin Cities. On their way down to SXSW, The Hold Steady decided to grace us with two nights of sold-out shows at the Triple Rock. I was fortunate enough to attend the first show last night. Yeah! I don’t think I’ve had that much fun at the Triple Rock since Lifter Puller played on the venue’s opening night.

I made sure to arrive early so I could catch the diverse cast of openers. Che Arthur played first. As he sat on the stage by himself playing his acoustic guitar, I couldn’t help but think that his music would work so much better with a backing band. My theory was confirmed when I got home and listened to some of his recordings (he’s effectively backed by a fully electrified band).

Thunderbirds Are Now! really warmed things up. I had just woken up from a nap before I left for the show, and Thunderbirds knocked the remaining drowsiness out of me. Watching them recklessly dance around the stage just made me want to dance along. Their excessive energy put me in such a good mood that I was laughing throughout most of their set.

The Oranges Band rocked, as usual. They also hold a special place at the Triple Rock since they opened for Lifter Puller during the venue’s opening ceremonies. They played a lot of new material last night. I have a feeling that their new album is going to be significant.

And then the screaming and shoving began. The Hold Steady almost killed me! (Seriously, Craig Finn’s guitar nearly smacked me upside the head several times – it’s always violently swinging around his neck while he’s “singing.”) It was apparent that The Hold Steady were really enjoying themselves. But how could you not enjoy yourself when everybody in the audience is singing along and enthusiastically pumping their fists to the music? That’s the kind of rock show that I could experience over and over. If the show wasn’t already sold-out, I would definitely go see them again tonight (it promises to be just as good with openers like Visqueen, The Reputation, and The Oranges Band).

Actually, there are exactly nine shows that I want to go to tonight (for real – I just counted them). Man, the March/April concert schedule will be the death of me. I don’t know what to do about tonight. I’ll probably just end up lying low and hanging out with some old high school friends. That would be the wise thing to do. I really need to save my money – especially if I’m going to try to make it down to Austin next week for SXSW.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Chris said...

SXSW....Lucky!

7:11 PM

 
Blogger elissa said...

too bad you didn't get to go the show friday night...Visqueen rocks!!!

3:56 PM

 
Blogger 方大同Jason said...

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9:00 PM

 
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7:11 AM

 
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5:34 AM

 

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Friday, March 04, 2005

Menomena and Pit er Pat


Pictured above: the fun blame monster

With the ridiculous amount of concerts in March, and a very limited budget, I have to carefully decide which shows to attend. Fortunately, I can say with great confidence that the Menomena show at the 7th St Entry last night was a very wise choice. Actually, that’s an understatement. Last night’s show was easily the best concert I’ve seen all year!

The night started with the experimental sounds of Jar. I almost made the mistake of passing his music off as nothing more than background noise. But as I started to pay closer attention, I got more and more curious about his methods. I walked up to the stage in an attempt to figure out how he was making all that noise. Well, I didn’t really figure it out, but it involved a couple of re-wired speak-and-spell toys, a tape recorder, a mutated Casio keyboard, a radio, and several disposable cameras. Very interesting. I ended up getting really involved in the music. Since there were no discernable breaks between the “songs,” I wasn’t able to snap out of the trance until the end of Jar’s set, when we were finally able to applaud.

The next band was Pit er Pat. Wow. Did they ever take me by surprise! I had no idea what to expect since I had never even heard of them before (which is weird since they are on Thrill Jockey and they just played the Triple Rock a few weeks back with The Thermals). The band just consisted of a keyboard player, a bassist, and a drummer. Any additional instruments would have been overkill – they knew exactly how to optimize what they had. Actually, the band would have still blown me away even if it only consisted of the drummer. He was incredible! I watched him with amazement throughout their entire set. Their percussive onomatopoeia name, Pit er Pat, appropriately describes how central his drumming is to their sound. I don’t want to give the impression that they’re a jazz band, or an aggressive drum-driven band, ala V9R9D. They definitely have a grasp on the indie-pop universe. They sort of remind me of an organic Stereolab (but maybe that’s just due to the female vocals). They were so good. I felt bad that Menomena was going to be upstaged by their opener.

Menomena was not upstaged. I think they were aware of the threat, so they knew exactly what they had to do. And they accomplished it with flying colors – they gave everyone in the Entry an orgasm! Now, I’m not one to fall for overly hyped-up bands (well, most of the time); I have to approve of them myself by first seeing them in concert. So I purposely ignored Menomena until I could see them live. [Note: actually, I did look for Menomena’s album when it first came out, but it was impossible to find until it was re-released last year on an actual label. But how could you not want an album titled “I Am the Fun Blame Monster!” - which, obviously, is an anagram for “The First Menomena Album”]. Unfortunately, seeing Menomena live was even more difficult than finding their album in 2003. Last night was the first time I was aware of Menomena playing in Minnesota (they might have played the Triple Rock back in November, but I'm not sure). I’m happy to say that they were well worth the wait, and they were also well worth the hype. They blew my socks off. Although it may be a year too late, I now feel justified in adding to the Menomena hype. They deserve it; especially after a show like last night’s.

2 Comments:

Blogger Tricia said...

Ok, I know I'm a total geek, but I see menomena and think of the muppets shtick.

8:49 PM

 
Anonymous Chris said...

Naw, you're not a total geek. I thought the very same thing as well when I first heard the name. Probably happened from that wi trip when we listened to the muppets cd, remember! :)

-Chris (I have no blog but I have great and excellent opinions, regardless) :) <------- (supposed to represent really big grin). It's funny because it is, in actuality, an internet representation of a normal-sized grin, aka a "smiley face." Yeah, I went way too far with this. Gonna stop typing now...

9:42 PM

 

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Ward 2


(note: Ward 2 has been redistricted for 2006. The old boundaries are shown above.)

With two college campuses and neighborhoods like Seward and Prospect Park, Ward 2 of Minneapolis is one of the most progressive areas in the country. It’s great to know that I live in such a friendly environment, but it can also create some major dilemmas during the citywide election season. The problem: it is way too difficult to choose a favorite among the city council candidates; they’re all so good. I just got back from my precinct caucus, and I still have no idea who I want to win the DFL endorsement. Hell, I can’t even decide between RT Rybak and Peter McLaughlin for mayor.

I am such an opinionated person, and it drives me crazy when I can’t make up my mind about something. But I guess that’s a good thing. Sometimes an easy decision indicates sub-par choices. For instance, consider the 2004 presidential race. John Kerry was an easy choice only because George W. Bush was/is a complete fucker. But that doesn’t mean that Kerry was a good choice; he’s only better by comparison. (Actually, it was tough to decide between Ralph Nader and Kerry, but that was for a different reason. Nader was, by far, the best candidate, but a vote for Kerry was a bit more strategic. By the way, when voting requires a strategy, you’re no longer voting based on who best represents you; thus, democracy isn’t really working.)

Anyway, the three DFL candidates for Ward 2 City Council – the accomplished activists, Bill Svrluga and Cara Letofsky, and the U of M student, Dan Miller – are all great choices. I’ll be pleased with whoever gets the endorsement. But the difficult choices won’t stop there. Whoever wins the DFL endorsement will have to run against the excellent Green Party candidate, Cam Gordon, in the general election. I have no idea what I’m going to do. At least I can be assured that Ward 2 will be well-represented, no matter who ends up winning.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to be as educated about the candidates as possible. I heard all of the DFLers (including RT Rybak) speak tonight at the caucus. And last week, I got to be up-close-and-personal with the candidates during a concert that my friend organized called “Rock the Cauc” (in case you didn’t get it, cauc is short for caucus). The candidates (including Peter McLaughlin) all gave a short speech before the pop-punk bands, Five Stars For Failure and Chop Logic, took the “stage” at the Manhattan Loft.

In other news, I got to see my sister play hockey in Ridder Arena this weekend. St. Olaf (my sister’s team) creamed St. Kates, 7 to 0. And Kate (my sister, not the saint) scored a goal! It was a good way for them to finish the season. Kinda sad, though - Kate is a senior, so that was her last regular season game. But chin up; playoffs start this Thursday!


Kate is in there somewhere (note: this picture was taken the night before in Northfield)

2 Comments:

Blogger elissa said...

i see you. good music choices and sweet opinions. welcome to the blog'in world. it's weird.

9:13 AM

 
Blogger Jenna said...

Lee, you commented on my blog, and yes, i think bloc party will most definitely be worth your 12 dollars (esp. w/ that lineup!) The album is really good, have you heard it yet? I have to wait until april-ish to see them in New York City. Let me know how you like them live! :)

10:50 PM

 

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