Category Archives: Articles

The Hold Steady in Grand Rapids

My Annual Reminder: The Hold Steady Live in Grand Rapids

Let this be my annual reminder: I need to get out to more shows. It’s easy to forget what a transformative experience a tight band in a small club can create. Craig Finn knows this. He exudes pure joy on stage. The crowd internalizes this joy and amplifies it back to the stage, generating a loop of enthusiasm that increases exponentially until we all explode in a blast of fist pumps and cheers and raised tallboys of PBR.

The Hold Steady is America’s greatest rock and roll band right now.

At least they were last night at the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids. The venue has a capacity of 420 and even though the show wasn’t sold out it seemed pretty full. This was at least my fourth time seeing this band but the previous times had all been at big outdoor fests (Lolla 2006, 2007, and one or more Pitchfork). But these guys need to be seen in a bar.

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The Asteroid No. 4

12 Year Itch: Glorious Noise Interview with The Asteroid No. 4

I kinda laughed when I got the email from their publicist asking if we’d be interested in interviewing “veteran psych-rock band, The Asteroid No.4” I mean, veterans? How old could they be? That was until I realized that we last spoke to them in 2002–yes, 12 years ago.

A lot has happened in the psych-rock scene in the last decade-plus: Dawes got everyone all crazy for Laurel Canyon again and related 60s and 70s west coast culture; the rise of festivals, especially those catering to niche musical genres like garage rock and psychedelic music; and a movie called Dig! raised the profiles of two of the flagship acts of the scene with The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. And while in economics it may be a bit of a misnomer, in rock and roll a rising tide does in fact lift all boats. Twelve years on, The Asteroid No.4 are floating along nicely.

We jumped on the phone with founding member, songwriter and guitarist, Scott Vitt to talk about the changing scene and his band’s move from Philadelphia to Northern California.

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The Growlers – Good Advice

Some friends in the know have been trying to turn me onto The Growlers for a while. And really, why have I not been listening? I trust my friends, especially when it comes to music recommendations. Well, I finally got around to it and because I consider you, our readers, friends I implore you to not repeat my mistakes.

This is our music. It’s a bit druggy, a bit psych, a lot cool.

Listen now. Get your shit together. It’s good advice.

And then dig this awesome video:

North American Tour Dates:
09/05 – Denver, CO – Hi Dive
09/06 – Denver, CO – Hi Dive
09/08 – Lawrence, KS – Bottleneck
09/09 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
09/10 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
09/11 – Ann Arbor, MI – Blind Pig
09/12 – Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace
09/13 – Montreal, QC – Il Motore
09/14 – Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
09/17 – Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre
09/18 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
09/19 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
09/20 – Washington, DC – Black Cat Mainstage
09/22 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
09/23 – Nashville, TN – Exit In
09/24 – Memphis, TN – Hi Tone Cafe
09/25 – Dallas, TX – Dada
09/26 – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s Upstairs
09/27 – Austin, TX – Scoot Inn
10/10 – Victoria, BC – Upstairs Cabaret
10/11 – Vancouver, BC – The Rickshaw
10/15 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
10/16 – Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
10/17 – Portland, OR – Alhambra Theatre
10/18-19 – San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island Festival
10/25 – Orange County, CA – BEACH GOTH III at The Observatory

Iggy Azalea at Lollapalooza

More Lollapalooza 2014 Photos

We finally sorted through our Lolla pics (taken by the unsinkable Jolie Brown) and just uploaded a bunch of them to Flickr. In case you missed it, here’s our Lolla 2014 wrap up. Enjoy the photos.

Iggy Azalea (Flickr album)

Outkast (Flickr album)

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Lollapalooza 2014

Lollapalooza 2014: Drives You Crazy Getting Old

Ten years. Ten Lollas in Grant Park. I had a cutting edge mobile phone in 2005 — the Motorola RAZR — but I didn’t know how to text properly. There were no iPhones, no Twitter, YouTube hadn’t officially launched yet, and Facebook was still exclusive to college students.

Lollapalooza 2005 seems quaint in retrospect. It was only two days long, there were less than 60 bands, the whole thing took place south of Buckingham Fountain, all four main stages were crammed onto Hutchinson Field… And yet this year’s event would hardly seem unrecognizable to a time traveler from 2005. It’s still, as I said back at the time, “an event as corporate and branded and manipulative as anything any marketing genius could ever devise.” And despite that, with the right attitude, it can still be a lot of fun.

Over the years I have seen so many memorable performances at Lollapalooza. Would most of these have been better suited to a dark club as opposed to a big, sweaty field in the middle of the day? Absolutely. But let’s be honest. I cram more bands into three days at Lolla than I go out and see for the rest of the year combined. Is that pathetic? Maybe so, but I’m busy. I’m a grown up. And a big festival provides me with the opportunity to stumble across something unexpectedly great that I never would have sought out on my own. So I return to Lolla every year in spite of the weak lineups that — looking back — I’ve publicly bitched about almost every year.

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Title: The Young Ones

The Peoples Poet is Dead: Rik Mayall Dead at 56

There were sweaty summer days in the late 80s where we’d sit around the house watching TV and chugging Mello Yello. We were American teens with a thing for British culture and in addition to the NME and Melody Maker, most of our understanding of Arcadia came from The Young Ones.

This passage from one of our favorite episodes is the best tribute we can think of for Rik Mayall, who died today at 56:

This house will become a shrine, and punks and skins and rastas will all gather round and hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader. And all the grown-ups will say, “But why are the kids crying?” And the kids will say, “Haven’t you heard? Rick is dead! The People’s Poet is dead!”

Hands up, who likes Rick? This time, all hands are raised.

Future Islands

Future Islands and the Cult of Samuel T. Herring

Let me start by saying that I am not even sure I like this band. That’s not to say that I am trying to get a pass on them. I might like them, I might not. Whether I do is not the point. It’s that I can’t figure it out yet I will excitedly watch any late night TV performance of Future Islands—a statement I cannot make about bands I love.

Obviously, the focus of my semi-obsession is on the singer, Samuel T. Herring. I haven’t read anything about him or the history of the band so let’s run with some of my assumptions:

  • He’s clearly the guy pushing the band forward. He’s the guy who has been pestering people about his band to the point where they are now regularly on national TV. The rest of the band seems to be barely paying attention. The bassist thought the band broke up 15 years ago, but here they are.
  • His awkward, intense dancing is unnerving and fascinating.  He OWNs this dance. Nobody else can match him. Nobody. Mick Jagger and Bruno Mars are weak fakers just walking through some moves. Samuel T. Herring is the real deal.
  • Kinda memorable melodies and disco beats aren’t really enough these days so Samuel T. Herring goes full Cookie Monster to cut through the clutter. That takes some real balls.
  • Samuel T. Herring can and will do Monty Python impressions for hours on end as long as someone—anyone—is still paying attention.

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