From Danny Shapiro
Last week I entered a parallel dimension, an overdrive of the concert life of Danny (yes, that is possible). For 4 nights in a row, I bombarded 5 of the best gigs around town. My life revolved around the night; daytime hours only served as filler in advance of the next gig, and (minimal) sleep was but a stopping point in between the rush of it all.
Fully recovered, I can now rehash what was an incredible non-stop journey through inspiring live music.
For my fellow music lovers out there, I can only say this: however omnipresent music can be in your life – iPod, radio, TV – nothing compares to the purest energy and connection that exists between a live stage and its audience.
And last week was no exception. So, get ready for the recap in best moments from last week’s live music offerings.
Based on reader feedback, I’ve got an accompanying post about shows I think you should get tickets for now: On The Lookout: Danny’s Upcoming Must-See Shows.
Sunday, Oct. 3
English Gentleman, Minus the ‘Gentle’ – Foals @ the Black Cat
Foals rock. Plain and simple. Their groovy electric guitar riffs and lead singer Yannis Philippakis’ badass energy makes this Oxford, England-based band totally cool.
Whether he’s leading the band on My Morning Jacket-esque soaring vocals and guitar through the killer tracks off their second album, Total Life Forever, or doubling as the band’s surrogate percussionist at center stage, Yannis is the quintessential indie rock lead singer: charming yet emotionally intense, loveable yet full of rock anger, and of course, that swooping emo hipster hair.
Gig Highlight: During the show’s final number, lead singer Yannis jumps down into the crowd, guitar in hand. However, due to his relatively short stature, he goes unnoticed on the black-and-white checkered floor. (At 6’1″ I had to look down to notice him when he walked in front of me). He then jumped up on the Black Cat bar and jammed out on this newly created “Stage Left,” until the crowd finally gave him the attention and rock star love he so deserved. Don’t worry, Yannis, as long as you keep making this incredibly amazing rock music, you won’t have to stand on bars to get noticed.
- Album to get: Total Life Forever (Transgressive Records)
- Standout track: “Blue Blood” (watchon YouTube)
- Check out their MySpace page
Monday, Oct. 4
Alt-Country Crooning, In The Round – Brandi Carlile @ Rams Head Live in Baltimore
For reasons unbeknownst to me, I had not yet been exposed to the genius, sincerity, and gorgeous talent that is Brandi Carlile and her band prior to seeing her live in Baltimore last Monday night. The trip to Baltimore was definitely worth the effort, as I’ve now entered the more fulfilling “post-Brandi” phase of life.
Flanked by “The Twins,” as she affectionately calls them, Tim and Phil Hanseroth on bass/rhythm guitar, as well as the crowd-favorite Allison Miller on drums and accomplished cellist Josh Neumann, Brandi’s infectious personality and charm helped win over every last member of the audience (I guess those two or three folks needed the extra convincing).
A lingering cold, it seemed, was the only barrier to allowing Brandi’s unique vocal strength to soar at its fullest. Powerful vocals, reaching falsetto heights at times, combined with an enthusiastic crowd whose love for her was evident from the start, helped send both the endearing somber lyrics as well as upbeat sing-along numbers to the rafters (and beyond) at Rams Head Live.
There was even an audience participation number with a 3-part harmony, thanks to Brandi’s successful capabilities as a crowd-divider. I suggest picking up each of her 3 LPs, including her 2009 release, Give Up The Ghost, for a guaranteed standard addition to your daily iPod rotation.
Gig Highlight: Left alone on stage for a three-song set, Brandi brought the crowd to a standstill with her song, “That Year,” a somber track about a friend who took his own life, leaving Brandi unable to speak about the incident for the following decade.
As a song, its powerful message is amplified with the recent spate of teenage suicide tragedies across the country in recent weeks. Brandi croons, “You could have taken a long break instead of a long drop from a high place.” If only all teenagers in struggle could’ve been there that night, Brandi’s beautiful soulful music reminded us why each day is truly a gift.
- Album to get: The Story (Columbia Records)
- Standout Track: “Crazy” (cover), by Patsy Cline
- Check out her MySpace page
Tuesday, Oct. 5
Indie World Double Header! Glasser/Gayngs @ Black Cat, + The XX @ 930 Club
Warning: Do not try this at home, kids… unless you’re skilled in the art of gig-hopping and have a trusty bicycle in tow. Upon realizing I had purchased tickets for two shows on the same night, I decided to bite the bullet!
I was intent on seeing Glasser at Black Cat, followed by the XX at 930 Club, and back to Black Cat for Gayngs. Each a unique style of its own, the night triumphed in showcasing the potentially skyrocketing evolutionary path that indie bands can achieve in the U.S. today. Glasser’s lead singer, Cameron Mesirow, is a star on the rise.
Her indie dance-laden vocals have an ethereal quality to them, commanding the audience with her presence, yet remaining gracious and relatable in her gorgeously demure persona and rather petite frame. Her new LP, Ring, is worthy of picking up.
- Album to get: Ring (True Panther Sounds)
- Standout Track: “Apply” (watch on YouTube)
- Check out their MySpace page
Okay, you’re going to have check back tomorrow for my review of Gayngs at Black Cat, The XX at 9:30 Club… and my Oct. 6 concert review, “A Little Bit Lovelorn, A Little Bit Rock & Roll (with no Scarlett Johansson in sight): Pete Yorn @ Black Cat.”
My editor says I got carried away and made me divide me review into two parts. So, see you tomorrow.
Danny Shapiro is an avid music lover who has the good fortune to live very close the music scene on the 14th and U corridor.