Monthly Archives: October 2007

Stars

Stars are pretty much the epitome of a type of music I try to appreciate from the outside. Without listening to it. Like Metric, Tegan and Sara and various other Canadian or American bands who make music a little sweeter than my ears seem to be able to take, Stars seem a little too limp. However, I did love Stars for a while back when everyone used to love Stars, so I gave this gig a shot.

This actually happened about three weeks ago, so this summary will be so concise as to be pointless as a piece of pseudo-journalism. I’ll give it in bullet-point form, because it’s just for the record anyway.

  • The new songs are for the most part pretty fragile.
  • The crowd was big, and hoping for lots off Set Yourself On Fire.
  • Stars played plenty off Set Yourself On Fire.
  • They seemed really excited to play Dublin. Genuinely.
  • They stressed how amazing the gig was for them, and were very grateful.
  • If that’s what amazing Stars gigs are like, I can only imagine how un-intense regular ones are.

All that said, they were tolerable. The hits were duly sung along to, and some of the new songs seem pretty good. I haven’t been won back to the faith, but they’re a decent enough band. I suppose. For the indie Will and Grace.

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Handsome Furs


Handsome Furs don’t hate this city, fortunately. Back in Dublin for the first time since he spat all over me alongside Spencer Krug and the rest of Wolf Parade two years ago, Dan Boeckner seems to have positive opinions of Whelans. “This is probably my favourite bar to play”, he said, likely being serious. Having been witness to Wolf Parade’s first coming on a fake ID and more awe than I care to recall, I can safely say that Handsome Furs are a different experience.

They are comprised of the second most important member of Wolf Parade (and writer of Modern World, Shine A Light and others), Dan Boeckner and his wife Alexei. There is a vague feeling of “proving a point” about their show, which probably isn’t intended at all. Alexei is pretty minimalist in her contributions – she presses play on the drum machine and plays fairly rudimentary chords on the Korg. It’s really Dan’s project though, and songs that probably could have been sung in harmony with Spencer end up here stripped down with distorted guitar and bare beats.

My perspective here is skewed because I’ve been really into Wolf Parade since 2005, but I’ve always felt that the charm of Spencer is in the closeness, how intimate and almost oppressive he can sound with Wolf Parade and especially with Sunset Rubdown. And conversely, Dan has always sounded like he dealt in space. He thrives with Handsome Furs, alone onstage providing the backing to his own songs of uncertainty with his wife’s support. Maybe being from western Canada makes your songs sound like miles of forests, or maybe it’s specific to Dan Boeckner, but he’s loud and he means it, and it would be a mistake to ignore Handsome Furs just because they don’t involve Spencer Krug. Get Plague Park.

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HWCR – A recap

Best of Friday: Ten Past Seven
Best of Saturday: Fight Like Apes
Best of Sunday: Grand Pocket Orchestra
Biggest Surprise: Ten Past Seven
Biggest Disappointment: Alphastates
BEST BANDDDDDD: FIGHT LIKE APES

HWC? – Didn’t see enough to judge.

Loveninjas were Swedish and sounded Swedish.
Super Extra Bonus Party seemed like great fun, but I only saw the very end from the very back.
The Terribles should either tighten up and play with a bit more feeling, or change their name to make it harder for people to make jokes.
Tidal District were making the sort of cathartic outro sound I love when I saw them briefly.
Dali seemed pretty punk rock, but in a good way.
My Brother Woody had some Beach Boys vocals and some fluffy but solid songs. They also gave free CDs. Thanks!
Cathy Davey is alright but has Conor O’Brien chained down when he could be either reforming The Immediate or doing something better than Cathy Davey solo.
Soda Fountain Rag sound like they’re probably into J-pop. It was entertaining enough while I was there, if a little vacuous.

HWCZ – Bands I didn’t really like.

I didn’t want to dedicate a full post to caning everything I didn’t like, so I’m going to put them all into one. The picture is unrelated to anything.

The LKs were the first band I saw on Friday and I didn’t like them because: they kept falling slightly out of time with their loops, they didn’t really have any melodies, they seemed to take themselves more seriously than their sort of light-souled music should allow. They’re Swedish, just so you know.

Alphastates had the mitigating circumstances of having their drummer being away delivering a baby “somewhere far away”, but playing basically a full-on set just without drums doesn’t really work. Also, I don’t think I would’ve been into their “alt” thing very much anyway.

A Kid Hereafter is Danish and as a Swedish photographer said to myself and my friends “he is more about the entertainment than the music”. So I committed the cardinal sin against politeness by leaving the barrier right in front of the stage at Tripod during his third song after he had waved at me. I’m sorry, A Kid Hereafter, I just wasn’t into it.

Gavin Ryan was sort of a Nick Cave-lite. I saw the first half of his set but left after he said “this is a new song” and then played what is basically by this stage a template blues-jazz song about his baby or something like that. Did not capture my imagination at all.

The Radio weren’t great either. I wouldn’t have them in the minus category if I wasn’t expecting them to be really good, but that was the information I had. Their last song was a post-rock epic which I actually really liked, but their music was a little bit too “rock” to be as credible as it seemed to think it was.

Jape

Jape was pretty bangin’ as Sunday’s headliner. I can say bangin’ just this once, because Richie Egan spent the best part of his set pointing in the air or raising his fist in a way that would lead one to believe he wanted to be called bangin’. It was my first time hearing Jape, strangely enough, and I was seconds away from the last bus home before deciding to actually wait and see. I’ll explain to you what I was expecting, and what I got. Jape has always been described to me as an “electronic” artist, and the closest I came to encountering him/them was at Whelans when I was in the bar and there was pounding bass coming from the venue. So I was expecting some techno, basically. I didn’t get it. Jape is as much rock as it is electro. Not that that’s a problem. The best thing about Jape anyway, all things and genres considered, is the lyrics. He has a rare frankness and an ability to make you go “haha” or “fuck” or “…” with every second line he sings. I’m not sure I’d pay 20 euro to see him alone because of the sort of vestiges of 90s-ness about it all, but I think he was worth the extra 2.20 the Nightlink cost me at least.

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General Post Office.

Fun is the new black. Grand Pocket Orchestra sound like Danielson Famile, Go! Team, White Stripes, bluegrass, punk rock and a multi-pack of Skittles all in a blender, but most of all they sound like the sound of the blender. The band is idiosyncratic in hitherto unheard of ways (for an Irish band). If somebody drew them with crayons, you’d know immediately who it was, and if someone mentioned “tweeabilly” trying to be clever and stupid at the same time you could stand up and put on some Grand Pocket Orchestra to shut them up. Their songs are very short and most of the singing comes in the form of a super-sped-up Daniel Smith and even sometimes almost Jack White-like yelp-bark-squeals. It’s very interesting stuff, and great fun to watch. Keep eyes peeled for a postulated EP.

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