Appropriately, Washed Out’s performance at Headliners happened on a particularly mild evening for November. Perhaps Ernest summoned such warm vibes. Or perhaps it was the heat emanating from the sold out crowd. Or perhaps it was the booze. Each and every Washed Out show seems to be different. He performed with a different band than his last show in town at Forecastle 2012. And compared to his Midpoint Music Festival show in Cincinnati in 2011, Washed Out has become significantly less disco and ‘everyone clap your hands now,’ and more interested in the explorations into the intricate vintage synth layers Ernest Greene masterfully assembles. Ernest and Company still bolsters a solid, dance-heavy live show, but with enough sonic nuance and experimentation to win over more discriminating ears.
You can also see this gallery on Consequence of Sound.
Lexington, KY’s Boomslang Fest takes advantage of the gorgeous early fall weather in the Bluegrass to let the students and volunteers who keep the signal of University of Kentucky’s WRFL 88.1 modulating righteously. Now in its fifth year, this budding four-day event adopts the modern urban festival model, utilizing a variety of traditional, non-traditional, and funky spaces to throw raucous shows wherever it’s prudent to do so — be it a church, bar, restaurant, courtyard, etc. As one of the country’s finest college stations (full disclosure: I’m an RFL alum, but it’s true), WRFL showcases its diverse sonic palate through an expertly curated lineup. Better yet, this relaxed weekend offers a premium festival experience for an insanely affordable ticket price, especially for students. Random notes: My inner dialogue editing these photos: “Kim Gordon is 60. That’s as many as 6 tens. How is this possible?” Also, No Joy’s hair is its own visual experience and Youth Lagoon put on the show of the year.
BODY/HEAD (feat. Kim Gordon and Bill Nace)
More than once the sentiment echoed that Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh, NC must be what South By Southwest was 15 years ago. Indeed, both festivals offer an urban playground during a mild weather season, wherein a church, courtyard, or art museum can serve as a music venue as well as any bar or theater. Where as SXSW has increasingly become a corporate juggernaut juggling an unmanageable festival lineup sprawled all across a city of three-quarters million people, Hopscotch feels local and quaint. Hopscotch is relaxed. No venue is more than a 15 minute walk at the furthest point. Free parking is plentiful. The food is delicious (shouts out Cooper’s BBQ and Chuck’s), the people friendly. It’s obvious this town welcomes the festival and the attendees from near and far. And parents with strollers on the City Plaza for Spiritualized? Dudes in doo-rags fist pumpin’ to Marnie Stern? Metal bands performing in drag queen halls? That’s all pretty great. As well, the rumors flying around about where Thurston Moore was eating fried chicken or who Merzbow was collaborating with (fingers were crossed for a performance with The Breeders) added an element of excitement sans the contrived PR drivel that similar stunts at SXSW provokes. It’s an incredible festival, and it’s my hope Hopscotch stays that way.
Angel Olsen returned to Louisville after a rather triumphant showing at Cropped Out 2011, where she dueted with Cairo Gang’s Emmitt Kelly. This time around, with a plethora of accolades under her belt, Angel brought along a power trio to add extra gusto to her supremely haunting, out-of-time-and-place electric folk. Sadly, while Zanzabar is one of the premiere live music venues in town, it wasn’t the right venue for her. Her hushed tones and nuanced vocals demand undivided attention, and while most of the crowd was respectful, the innate environment of a bar selling drinks no more than 40 feet from the stage provided a great distraction to both the audience and Angel. Distractions aside, Angel Olsen is a special live force, if one that is better placed in a theater or art gallery. William Tyler‘s opening Fahey-evocative noodling, though, battled the ambient noise very well, and if him and Daniel Bachman ever team-up, America will have a new weapon of mass destruction.
Because I knew the promoters, I had to keep mum for a long time that Wire, a band probably in my top five of all time and one of the few with surviving members, was coming to Louisville. At the time, it was looking like the 250 person room at Zanzabar. I felt like I was perpetually tripping for weeks. Then the show manifested in to reality, and in a larger room. The Clifton Center, in many ways, felt like the perfect milieu for a band like Wire – a theater setting worthy of the band’s legacy yet musty enough to respect the band’s punk ethos and history.
Louisville’s Natives offered a blistering opening set, punctuated by the addition of fuckin’ beastmode drumming demon William Carpenter. Wire’s set was tighter and more urgent than most bands half their age, which was no surprise. They’re one of the few legacy acts who’ve consistently innovated, and they proved such by sticking to playing mostly new material from the excellent Change Becomes Us and Red Barked Tree (and a couple of new unreleased songs). However, Wire still summoned the best of their classic ’77-’79 “trifecta” with “On Returning,” “Map Reference,” and of course, an epic (in the actual sense of the term, not the Internet sense) encore of “Pink Flag.” What a treat for the approximately 500 people who got to see one of the most important bands of all time in an intimate, well-mixed room. Promoters Cropped Out and Other Side of Life work magic, man.