On a warm sunny tuesday night, I couldn’t decide where to get dinner. So, on a whim of habit, I decided to go to a neighbourhood bar for dinner and a decent pint. This neighborhood bar was the Bier Baron on 22nd and P. Before you enter the Bier Baron, it’s a rule for them to check your IDs, regardless if you’re ninety or twenty-one. The guy gave me back my ID and said, “Both the upstairs and downstairs [bars] are open, the upstairs have this folk act from Canada and a better tap selection.” Naturally, as a fellow Canadian, I decided to see what this act is. I was a bit wary at first. You never know what could happen at the Bier Baron in terms of events; it ranges from the oddest burlesque show you’ve ever seen to a decent musical act. And on that summery day, it was definitely an event of the latter variety.
To say Old Man Luedecke isn’t sweet is to say that cupcakes are not sweet, either. He is a charming man which is obvious through the stories he tells before every song. There were tales of Matt Groening buying his music (thanks to the magic of Paypal), and A&W drunken drive-thru adventures. I had not heard of Old Man Luedecke before but by the third song, I was texting friends to inform them that I was witnessing some great folk music. The show was not seen by more than eighteen or nineteen people (including the three members of the Bier Baron staff), which made me sad. It made me sad to see such a talented musical act not gain more attention. I felt like people were missing out on something lovely. His banjo skills were amazing and his partner Joel’s mandolin sounded quite nice as well. Between songs, Old Man Luedecke would sneeze and/or cough and it was evident that he was battling a cold. Nevertheless, he put up a brave front, and played quite well. During the first of two encores, there was a request for a certain song. They started playing the request, but because it wasn’t a song they played regularly, there were a few false starts. It just showed what Old Man Luedeke’s act was about: every song felt honest and true as if he was singing to a group of close friends. I think by the end of the concert and the two encores that followed, I felt like I was his friend as well. Continue reading “A Conversation with Old Man Luedecke at the Bier Baron, April 9th 2013”→
Sigur Ros started their North American tour in Fairfax County, Virginia, in the lovely Patriot Centre. When I first bought these tickets, I told friends that I got seats instead of general admission. They said to me, in relief, “Thank god, I don’t think I could stand that long at a Sigur Ros concert.” For some concerts, such a line would be blasphemous because sitting down would indicate that you were not entirely into the concert you paid for. But Sigur Ros is different. Their epic post rock music requires time to distill. The set list from this concert had no songs shorter than six minutes.
Vast: that could be the best word to describe the show. The stage was initially set up so that massive curtains blocked the view of the stage from all three sides. Tim Hecker, the opener, (who on a separate note, made amazing ambient music) even had to play behind the screen. There was this mysterious aura about the set before Sigur Ros took the stage. When the Icelandic trio did come on, they came on with a full band of backup musicians. On their last tour, I saw them in Seattle and they only had the four main members. That show was quite stripped down and raw. One could hear just how incomplete some of the songs were without the full compliment of instruments. With a complete set of musicians this time, the songs sounded like they did on the album.
Back in early 2010, everybody was looking forward to MGMT’s Congratulations. Personally, it was a flop. Congratulations represented, for me at least, the epitome of a sophomore slump album. It tried too hard to be something that blew everyone’s mind. Sure, Oracular Spectacular was amazing because it was weird. It was just that Congratulations pushed the boundaries past the line where it seemed acceptable.
The new Youth Lagoon album, Wondrous Bughouse, reminds me a lot of that attempt to go down the path where MGMT’s second album failed. To begin with, the name Wondrous Bughouse makes the album scream feel weird. That is exactly what it is. From the get go, with the first song, “Through Mind and Back”, I found myself wondering what was going on. What mess did I get into? Did I just enter the mindspace of some avant-garde film?
For those who enjoy a little cheerful pop music, it should be exciting to note that 2013 could be a year full of downloads and UPS packages. My last radio show heavily featured new music from bands with music coming out in 2013.