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Friday, March 18

Ahh… the madness really sets in quickly this year… I did not get to see Okkervil River play tonight, the club was at capacity by 7:15… so I moved on down to B.D. Riley's pub for one of my favorite American shoegaze bands, The Brotherkite. I had no idea what to expect from this band visually and I found it fascinating that they are led by a giant of a man… one that makes a doublenecked SG guitar seem small. This band has proven over and over again that there is plenty of room for pop music in the shoegaze genre, and their live set infuses the songs with even more pop energy. Not only that, but this band was loud, loud, loud live… precisely the way that they should be. They were so loud, in fact, that the drummer was wearing earplugs. As I had expected, the band tore through a very melodic set, weaving older songs with the new songs from their latest release Eye To Eye. This band takes the art of dual-vocals and three guitars and elevates it to the next level, infusing their noisome tunes with Beach Boys-esque harmonies. The girl with the Mustang bass rocked it. The Brotherkite are as able live as they are in the studio, building walls of sound extremely well, layering instrument upon instrument effortlessly, taking what would be considered a drone and infusing it with a sublime energy.

Next, I headed some few blocks away and caught most of Josh Ritter's solo acoustic set. I was reminded of the first time I ever experienced Ritter perform live; he was solo then and the power of the songs shines through remarkably well when the show is simply the man and his guitar and his songs. I was once more impressed, as I've been most times I've seen Ritter perform, that the man seems genuinely excited to be performing, grinning his sincere yet Cheshire grin, and bouncing around on stage when not tied to the microphone. Ritter treated the crowd to new songs and old, including such greats as "Kathleen", "In The Dark", and off his most recent release So Runs The World Away, a fitful, keening version of "Folk Bloodbath". At one point, he asked for the lights to be taken down and stepped away from the microphone, which worked wonderfully in such a graet acoustic space as the little church that we were all in. Ritter continues to amaze me with his live performances, drawing more power alone on stage than it seems he musters with a fantastic band backing him up. What a great show…

Trekking back across town I arrived in time to be treated to another enormously loud show with The Black Angels. The band was on fire, coming off a long winter tour they were still hitting on all cylinders, firing it up with a fury and noise that would make Kevin Shields proud. There are few words to be said about The Black Angels live other than the fact that you need to see them. It will never be a regret, but could lead to eyes being opened and hearts being set free. The band was as loud and beautiful, the songs were tight, yet noisy, supersonic and beautiful.

Back across town again to catch Men Without Hats play a show… and Ivan was wearing a hat!?! I would never have believed it had I not snapped a couple of shots from the show. They began their set with an anemic cover of The Rolling Stones' classic "Jumpin' Jack Flash"… but it didn't have much gas. Despite some technical difficulties and the presence of hats, the band turned things around and went on to play a rousing, but short, set of classic material. The set list went like this: "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "Moonbeam", "Antarctica", "I Got The Message", "Living In China", "Safety Dance", "Pop Goes The World", and "I Like". As expected, a large portion of the crowd left as soon as the band finished "Safety Dance", but everything sounded great once the difficulties got smoothed out a bit. Ivan sang, there was a keyboard player and a guitar player and then some girl running the computer, and having plenty of problems with it. The crowd was getting riled up and very into the music by the time the band had finished "Antarctica", but then there were computer problems and after about 4 minutes of silence, a lot of the crowd got restless. The set was good, not extremely tight, but once the kinks were figured out, everything seemed to straighten out and be fine. Well worth seeing the little Canadian technopop band that could, and did, but then almost did not. I was honestly a bit disappointed that nothing off of Sideways got played. But in such a short set, there was little room for much variation in the setlist.

-David DeVoe


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