Concert Reviews

July 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

So I’ve come down with a cold in the midst of the summer’s heat wave. I can’t tell you how miserable this is, but I’ve managed to drag myself out of bed after listening to The Smiths records with a fan blowing at me to deliver some reviews.

On Friday I saw The Pains of Being Pure at Heart at a small dive called The Biltmore. The doors were at 8 and the band didn’t play until 12. Happily, the first opener I skipped and it’s a shame I didn’t miss the second opener. The crowd was a strange mix of young folk, hipsters and fat middle-aged men. My only explanation for the latter is that The Pains at times sound very 90s and this perhaps appeals to the middle-aged guys. There was one cougar that hit on my friend Julian, who is an endearingly awkward fellow sometimes and he really didn’t know how to get rid of her when she asked him to dance. The band was charming, Peggy, the keyboard player happily signed a t-shirt I bought. They seemed very sincere on stage and cheerful. The sound was great and there were no fuck-ups besides the drum kit being destroyed at one point. My only complaint is starting at 12 and only playing for a half hour! Two crap openers does not make up for a half hour setlist. Tim was disappointed that they didn’t play “Contender” and I was just happy they played “Come Saturday”.

Sunday brought day two of the Virgin Festival and some blistering heat. I stupidly wore jeans, meanwhile every other girl walked around in bikini tops and shorts. Now I have a problem with the way the festival is organized. Everywhere they advertise their being socially and environmentally aware, yet, when I arrived they made me and everyone else dump out their water. Yes, because I am carrying GHB/vodka/gin. Anyway, they make you dump the water with promises that inside there’s a water station. Sure, there’s a water station that has about 10 taps running constantly. How is that at all environmentally aware? Most of the water gets wasted. And then, you have to pay for shade that’s right, if you feel heat stroke coming on, you need to pay to get out of the sun. Rampant ads are everywhere, which is to be expected, but it’s so shameless.

Anyway, when I wasn’t eating the worst six dollar cheeseburger of my life, I was watching a mostly excellent line-up. De la Soul came on with some feel-good beats, rapping in top form. They called a group of four people dressed up (for some inexplicable reason) as shrubs onstage to dance. The crowd didn’t seem to appreciate them that much sadly, but I thought they put on a good show, though I’m not entirely familiar with the group’s work.

For me, the highlight of the day was seeing Jarvis Cocker and even those who came to see Sonic Youth play, agreed that Mr. Cocker put on the best show. Nobody can dance like the man, and he interacted with the audience, gave out chocolate bars before belting out “Fat Children”, climbed up part of the stage and pointed at me during “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time” saying “you ain’t getting any younger”. Of course I look fourteen, so I get the joke. Unfortunately, he didn’t play any Pulp songs. I was sure he would at least play “Common People” or “Disco 2000”, nevertheless, he was great. I’m not a huge fan of his solo work, but live it sounded even better to my ears.

For Sonic Youth we somehow managed to be in the front, left of the stage and at one point I turned around to see this mass of thousands of people behind us and that was surreal. These guys are getting pretty old, but they’re still full of explosive energy. I loved watching Lee swing his Jazzmaster around and I thought it was brilliant that he had his own personal fan blowing at him. I think Lee played about 4 or 5 different guitars, all but one were modified Jazzmasters. Kim and Thurston were both right on with their singing, but I hate to say this… the set felt a bit dragged out. This in part could be attributed to the hellish heat, which was tiring to say the least.

For most of the rest of the festival, the group of people I was with sat under a tree and just listened to the bands from afar. I stood up and walked in closer for Metric’s set, which was quite good and full of energy. Emily Haines looked absolutely coked out, wild-eyed and rambling about love between songs, but sounded great. I couldn’t believe they didn’t play “Combat Baby”, which I consider to be their “Wonderwall”, by that I mean, it’s sort of their song. I couldn’t imagine seeing Oasis without them playing “Wonderwall” and I couldn’t believe Metric didn’t play “Combat Baby”.

The other two bands I went to the festival for were The Thermals and Gomez. I was so knackered and overheated that I couldn’t do anything but sit under a tree and listen. They sounded awesome anyway. The sound mixing and set up times for the bands were all excellent, which I suppose is the upside of expensive tickets. I think overall a good time was had by all and the group I went with made a point of leaving before Ben Harper took the stage. Fuck that nonsense.

And as an aside for upcoming shows, I just bought my ticket to see the Manic Street Preachers live in September. You cannot even begin to fathom how excited I am.

Stay Gold.


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