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boston area shows of note:

wednesday, april 25th


the selmanaires

why twist the hair

@ the middle east upstairs

friday, april 27th

the icicles


casper & the cookies

the smittens

@ pa's lounge

friday, april 27thth


(cd release)

@ great scott

friday, april 27thth


bishop allen

a northern chorus

@ the middle east up

friday, april 27th

modest mouse

@ the orpheum

saturday, april 28th

the cream of the pop fest



the specific heats

my teenage stride

hands and knees

ryan walsh (of dedham high)

@ great scott

saturday, april 28th


@ the museum of fine arts boston

wednesday, may 2nd

age rings

the everyday visuals

summerbirds in the cellar

televangelist & the architect

@ tt the bears

thursday, may 3rd


andrew from pants yell!

yellow fever

@ zuzu

friday, may 4th

fujiya & miyagi

peter bjorn & john

@ the paradise

friday, may 4th

ted leo & the pharmacists

love of diagrams

@ avalon

thursday, may 5th

sunset rubdown

katie eastburn

@ the middle east down

monday, may 7th

david bazan

ben gibbard

@ the somerville theater

wednesday, may 9th

blonde redhead


@ the paradise

thursday, may 10th

the arcade fire

@ the orpheum

friday, may 11th

lcd soundsystem

@ axis

sunday, may 13th

the kooks


@ the paradise

sunday, may 13th

arctic monkeys

be your own pet

@ avalon

monday, may 14th

the album leaf

young galaxy


@ the middle east

tuesday, may 15th

laura veirs & saltbreakers


@ the middle east up

wednesday, may 16th

andrew bird

@ the berklee performance ctr.

thursday, may 17th

pretty girls make graves

(their last tour)

@ the middle east down

saturday, may 19th

tapes 'n tapes


harlem shakes

@ the paradise

sunday, may 20th

page france

mean creek

@ tt the bears

sunday, may 20th

frog eyes

alex delivery

chris garneau

@ the middle east up

monday, may 21st


400 blows

mouth of the architect

@ the middle east

thursday, may 24th

t.w. walsh

(playing his entire 'blue laws' album)

elijah wyman

@ tt the bears

thursday, may 24th

mice parade

david karsten


@ the middle east up

saturday, may 26th

the rosebuds

the ladybug transistor

presented by

@ great scott

saturday, may 26th

the faint

@ avalon

wednesday, may 30th

the broken river prophet



@ tt the bears

wednesday, may 30th

the broken west

the comas

@ the middle east up

saturday, june 2nd

the juan maclean

@ great scott

tuesday, june 5th

the sea and cake

loney, dear

@ the paradise

tuesday, june 5th

great lake swimmers

eleni mandell

drew o'doherty

@ the middle east up

wednesday, june 6th


bitter tears

geoff farina

@ the middle east up

wednesday, june 6th

bloc party


the maccabees

@ wfnx show

thursday, june 7th

architecture in helsinki

@ the middle east down

saturday, june 9th

the veils

@ great scott

saturday, june 9th


grizzly bear

@ the berklee performance center

saturday, june 9th

beach house

the clientele

@ the museum of fine arts boston

wednesday, june 13th

mary timony

the welcome

great northern

@ the middle east up

thursday, june 14th


favourite sons

au revoire simone

@ the middle east down

saturday, june 16th

comedian aziz ansarai

@ the middle east up

thursday, june 21st

the national

shapes & sizes


@ the middle east down

tuesday, june 26th


@ the bank of america pavilion

wednesday, june 27th

the nightwatchman

(tom morello from rage

against the machine acoustic)

@ tt the bears

saturday, june 30th

richard thompson

& his band

@ the berklee performance center

sunday, july 8th


@ tt the bears

sunday, july 8th

cat power &

the dirty delta blues

@ avalon

wednesday, july 11th

maximo park

@ great scott

thursday, july 12th


@ the i.c.a. boston

sunday, august 12th

tokyo police club

@ the middle east up

saturday, september 29th


@ the middle east up

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Mp3s: Touch & Go's 25th - Day Three

My first mp3 post of 2007 is the third and final installment of my look back at the Touch & Go Records 25th Anniversary Celebration. The 3-day September festival out in Chicago was the high-point of my live music-going year, and it's been a joy going through all my recorded audio and cleaning it up for sharing. Well, mostly a joy. At times it can be tedious work, and these three posts have taken an insane amount of time to put together. And the irony? I'm posting this great stuff at a time when Almanac readers are at a holiday-induced low-point.

So you regular visitors are well rewarded these with live mp3s from Arcwelder, Quasi, The Monorchid, Enon, Three Mile Pilot, Tara Jane ONeil with Chris Brokaw, Seam, Brick Layer Cake, The Black Heart Procession, Coco Rosie, Pinback, and festival-closers Calexico. Some great performances, including a few excellent covers, can be found below.

Head over here for songs from first day performers Shipping News, Supersystem, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Girls Against Boys, and !!!, or right here for the second day, which included The New Year, Uzeda, Pegboy, Tim & Andy (of Silkworm & Bottomless Pit), the Ex, Killdozer, Jon (Mekons) & Kat (The Ex), Didjits, P.W. Long, Negative Approach, Sally Timms (Mekons), Scratch Acid, Man or Astro-Man?, Big Black, and Shellac.


Mp3: "Truth" (live)

Mp3: "Cranberry Sauce" (live)

While the weekend included more than a few reunited acts, there were two bands that sealed my trip to Chicago when I heard they'd be playing: Arcwelder and Seam. Though neither band "officially" broke up, live appearances from either can come years apart, and newly recorded material is nowhere in sight.

The first and only other time I saw Arcwelder was well over a decade ago when they opened for Six Finger Satellite and Jesus Lizard in Burlington, Vermont. I'd never have guessed I'd be more blown away by them than their tourmates, especially considering the other two bands were amazing that night. But Arcwelder just killed me, from the first notes of set-opener "Cranberry Sauce". Their 1993 album, "Pull", became one of my all-time faves, I grabbed up all their 7 inches, and eagerly awaited future releases and their live return. But that second show never came. Until this festival.

And if I never see them again, "Cranberry Sauce" makes the perfect instrumental bookend as both the first and last song I ever saw Arcwelder play. But I truly hope that doesn't end up being the case.

(Official site / T&G page / MySpace)


Mp3: "All The Same" (live)

Mp3: "Peace & Love" (live)

I'm a longtime Quasi fan, and far too much time had passed since I'd seen 'em live, so I was psyched to see songs played from the couple albums they've put out in the meantime. Singer/guitarist/piano-man Sam Coomes and drummer/singer Janet Weiss were joined by Joanna Bolme on bass, who I hadn't yet seen as part of the trio. (an aside: Weiss and Bolme are now both part of Stephen Malkmus' Jicks, so hopefully both bands will be able to stay relatively active as they share a rhythm section).

For whatever reason, it struck me that Quasi's piano-based jams didn't work as well for me in the open outdoor (and unfortunately rain-soaked) environment, but the guitar stuff hit me just right. Listening back to the recording, though, it's the key-centric songs that stand out. Go figure. Either way, when they come back through Boston and play a more appropriately-sized venue, I'm there.

Sam Coomes recently shared some lengthy and slightly sad thoughts on the festival at the Quasi site, written after he'd received a stack of festival reviews from Touch & Go that included only one mention of Quasi's performance, and a negative one at that. I'll copy a chunk of his words here...
"Normally I pretty much shrug, toss these things into the garbage & forget them - easy enough after having been in bands making records etc. for over 20 years & seen 100s of these critics come & go, & no one remembers a word they wrote. But the fact that it was the sole entry in a large stack of reviews has to give some pause. Granted, we were playing a shitty slot early on a rainy Sunday, but that says something in itself, since we were deemed only to merit such a slot by the festivals organisers. I'm starting to get the feeling people dont like atonal piano banging! & after practicing all those years to get the atonal piano banging just right. Oh well. Our last record was easily one of our best, but few could be bothered to notice that. So probably the logical thing to do at this point would be to call it a day - our time in the sun is over & our little audience has evaporated. But of course that is not our way, so now we begin to work on new material & discuss how to record the next album & I feel confident we can again create a fine record perhaps our finest which may or may not achieve the slightest notice. If that is our fate I can live with that."
Read the rest here. Someone always has to get the short end of the schedule at festivals, but honestly, with bands as great as Arcwelder, the New Year, and Shipping News starting off each day, the early slots weren't exactly filler. Too bad about the rain, though. He's right about their latest album, "When The Going Gets Dark", by the way. It's one of their best, and deserves to be heard by many more discriminating ears.

(Official site / T&G page / MySpace)

The Monorchid

Mp3: "Curse of the Potty-Trained Children" (live)

Mp3: "New Tricks" (live)

Equipment failure dogged The Monorchid's performance, but that only added to gripping recklessness of their set. An angry mess, with Chris Thomson screaming and growling all over it, eventually declaring it their own "civil war reenactment". Hard to say which side won.

(T&G page / Southern page / Simple Machines page)


Mp3: "Ashish" (live)

Mp3: "Which Way To Go?"
(live Big Boys cover)

I think I'd maybe heard just one or two Enon songs before they took the stage, and I remembered them sounding nothing like they did on this day. What we got was a catchy-as-hell pop trio with a killer drummer in the animated Matt Schulz. I loved 'em, and find myself listening more to this live recording than to the album I picked up at the Reckless Records tent after their set (2003's "Hocus Pocus"). They played a bunch of new songs, including "Aashish" above, which has me very much looking forward to their next release.

(Official site / T&G page / MySpace)

Three Mile Pilot

Mp3: "97-MT" (live)

Mp3: "Aqua-Magnetic" (live)

While I knew the story behind Three Mile Pilot (a band that pre-dates the curent projects of Pinback's Zach Smith and Black Heart Procession's Pall Jenkins), I hadn't actually heard much of their musical collaboration until they hit the stage. And whaddya know, it kinda sounded like a nice gelling of BHP and Pinback, what with Zach's distinctive bass playing and Jenkin's vocals. The studio versions of the two songs shared here can be found on 1995s "Chief Assassin To The Sinister", and while their last album was in 1997, word is they'll be releasing one on Touch & Go sometime in 2007.

(Official site / Wikipedia page / MySpace)

Tara Jane ONeil

Mp3: "Howl" (live)

Mp3: "Famous Yellow Belly" (live)

I couldn't have asked for a better lead-in to a reunited Seam than Tara Jane ONeil with Chris Brokaw. I'd picked up Tara Jane's new disc, "In Circles", at the Reckless tent the night before, glad that it was available there a few days before its official release the following Tuesday. I went to sleep after the first night of the fest with it playing softy on my host's stereo, and being able to see her play those same songs the next day was a real pleasure. Even with Seam on deck, I wanted more.

(Official site / T&G page / MySpace)


Mp3: "Berlitz" (live)

Mp3: "Sweet Pea" (live)

My beloved Seam, oh how I missed thee. I'd been fortunate enough to see them a bunch (terrible pun) when they were around, and honestly never thought I'd get the chance again. Save for a couple benefit-inspired appearances, the band all but disappeared once frontman/songwriter Sooyoung Park left Chicago for the West Coast years ago, eventually to join up on guitar with the band EE. And while I'm glad he's still making music, I hold out hope that he's been writing and hoarding some songs of his own all this time, and that another Seam album remains in our future.

(T&G page / unofficial MySpace page / Fansite)

Brick Layer Cake

Mp3: "Sitting Pretty" (live)

Mp3: "Stars" (live)

BLC is the solo guise of Shellac drumming god Todd Trainer. Just the man, his stylin' haircut, and a guitar he borrowed from Arcwelder's Bill Graber. Shared here are two songs, written over a decade apart.

(T&G page / MySpace / Southern page)

The Black Heart Procession

Mp3: "Not Just Words" (live)

Mp3: "You Got Lucky"
(live Tom Petty cover)

Of all the acts that played that weekend, The Black Heart Procession were probably the one that I'd heard most without ever seeing live, and I'm glad to have remedied that. Songs from "The Spell", their most recent release, had an added emotional weight to them, and really made me want to catch the band in a more intimate setting. Oddly enough, that particular Petty cover perfectly fit BRP's sound, something I wouldn't have guessed. "A good label is hard to find" indeed.

(Official site / T&G page / MySpace)

Coco Rosie

Mp3: "K-Hole" (live)

Mp3: "South 2nd" (live)

While I can understand the artistry and pure sonic diversity that the duo called Coco Rosie bring to the Touch & Go table, they may very well define the phrase "not my cup of tea". After a day that included two of my favorite guitar-heavy bands of all time, I simply couldn't get into the harp-meets-human-beatbox-meets-children's toys combo. I used the opportunity to grab a long-awaited meal, but not after capturing a couple songs for any fans out there.

(Official site / T&G page / MySpace)


Mp3: "Syracuse" (live)

Mp3: "Non-Photo Blue" (live)

Pinback was in fine form, as always. You could tell, not just from their between-song words but from their in-song energy, that they were more than honored to be part of the T&G family. Rob Crow's fanboy humility was seriously endearing, and his band's own fans let him know that they deserved to be up on that stage. While another Rob solo album is imminent, as well as something brewing from Zach's Three Mile Pilot, let's cross fingers that it's not too long before we get some more Pinback.

(Official site / T&G page / MySpace)


Mp3: "Sunken Waltz" (live)

Mp3: "Alone Again Or"
(live Love cover)

Mp3: "A Letter To Bowie Knife" (live)

A fittingly celebratory end to the three days and thirty-something bands, Calexico's raucous set of Southwestern-flavored songs really hit the spot, and accented just how diverse Touch & Go's lineup has become over the years. While other indies have either struggled find an identity, or simply struggled to stay afloat, Touch & Go has succeeded by discovering a wide variety of truly talented bands and treating them well. And dudging from the unending accolades that T&G founder Corey Rusk received throughout the weekend, he treats them very well indeed.

(Official site / T&G page / MySpace)

And just as he welcomed us about 50 hours earlier, The Hideout's talkative Tim Tuten bids the appreciate crowd farewell as we wander off into the Chicago streets, hunting for hard-to-find cabs and crowded buses...

Lastly, some T&G-related links...
  • Torrent-friendly types can download a few full festival sets over at DimeADozen, including Arcwelder and Quasi. Most are thanks to this taper, so check their profile for a list of available sets.

  • Check YouTube for various T&G 25th-related video clips, including one of Arcwelder performing "Raleigh".

  • As always, you can listen to all the songs shared on the Almanac at The Hype Machine

  • If you haven't yet, check out my posts on day one and day two of Touch & Go's 25th, where you'll find more related links.
  • the fine print... If anyone has an issue with these live tracks being made available, just say the word (contact info in the 'nac faq). Recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps mp3s. Mp3s are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.

    Labels: ,

    Wednesday, December 27, 2006

    Mp3s: Touch & Go's 25th - Day Two

    Part two of my audio/visual look back at the Touch & Go Records 25th Anniversary Celebration that took place out in Chicago in September. While the opening Friday night gave us a mere five bands, the second day brought over a dozen: The New Year, Uzeda, Pegboy, Tim & Andy (of Silkworm & Bottomless Pit), the Ex, Killdozer, Jon (Mekons) & Kat (The Ex), Didjits, P.W. Long, Negative Approach, Sally Timms (Mekons), Scratch Acid, Man or Astro-Man?, Big Black, & Shellac.

    For words and songs from the first night, look here. The third and final day should be up within the next week or two. Enjoy...

    The New Year

    Mp3: "Chinese Handcuffs" (live)

    Mp3: "Reconstruction" (live)

    When I learned that one of my favorite bands, The New Year, would be playing at noon on the second day, my first thought was "they're so not a sunshine band"... but they proved me wrong. Halfway through the set it hit me how their melodic, beautifully hypnotic four-guitar build-ups were an ideal start to a long day ahead. If I ran the world, they could be our stadium rock, sending their perfect chords out through the open air, reverberating into the world. Yeah, those words might look hyperbolic on your computer screen, but standing there listening to them, I sure as hell felt 'em.

    (Official site / T&G band page / MySpace)


    Mp3: "Gold" (live)

    Mp3: "Steel Man" (live)

    And if I ran the world, you'd be watching 'Rockstar: Uzeda', and singer Giovanna Cacciola would be just right for their band. Fronted by what could be described as a female David Yow (minus the bare skin), the Italian four-piece put on one seriously powerful performance. If the New Year eased us into the day, Uzeda followed with a swift boot to the head.

    (Official site / T&G band page / MySpace)


    Mp3: "Superstar" (live)

    Mp3: "Dangermare" (live)

    I don't think I laughed as much during any other weekend set as I did while Pegboy was on stage. Two o'clock in the afternoon and singer Larry Damore was already rip-roarin' drunk. I don't think I've ever seen anyone flip-off a crowd as affectionately as he did, and he didn't let the photographer's pit prevent him from heading into the crowd for some fan face time. A truly entertaining frontman, I dug watching him as much as he seemed to enjoy performing. Pegboy's been around forever, and the guy still looks like he feels lucky to be up there rocking out.

    (T&G band page / Wikipedia page / MySpace)

    Andy Cohen, Tim Midgett, & Biznono Kadane
    (of Silkworm / Bottomless Pit)

    Mp3: "LR72" (live)

    One last song, for Michael...
    "I've come for good reason, because you and I were friends..."

    "...let me drink and weep, and see that a friendship was here"
    (Silkworm site / T&G band page / Bottomless Pit site)

    The Ex

    Mp3: "Sister" (live)

    Mp3: "title unknown" (live)

    While I can appreciate the creativity and longevity behind these respected Dutch noise-makers, I must admit that sonically they don't do it for me. If any fans out there happen to know the name of song two above, fill me in with a comment below.

    (Official site / T&G band page / MySpace)


    Mp3: "New Pants & Shirt" (live)

    Mp3: "Le Grange (ZZ Top) / Cyst" (live)

    Ahhh, Killdozer, how you remind me of my college radio days. Hearing "King of Sex" put me right back at WRUV, circa 1990. A great set, well-loved by the festival crowd, and frontman Michael Gerald is still a cocky wiseass. I do mean that in a good way.

    A side note: Near the end of their set, this guy (who may or may not go by the name Timebomb Tom) completely freaked out (video). I mean, a total abandonment of all mental faculties. And distinctively not in a good way. Festival security yanked him for everyone's safety, including his own (trust me, he woulda got punched), and it was no easy task. I saw him literally frothing at the mouth as they dragged him towards the festival exits. I mean, Killdozer is damn good, but they're not "go insane!" good. Word is the guy snuck back in, only to be taken out again in 'cuffs. Timebomb, indeed.

    (Wikipedia page / T&G band page / MySpace)

    Jon Langford (from The Mekons)
    & Kat (from The Ex)

    Mp3: "You Must Have Walked Across My Mind Again"
    (live George Jones cover)

    Mp3: "Last Fair Deal Done Down" (live)

    A short, stripped-down four-song interlude from Mr. Langford & Ms. Kat cleansed our musical palate in between the dirty-noize of Killdozer and the impending pop-punk assault that was on deck...

    (Mekons site / Jon Langford's site / The Ex site)


    Mp3: "Plate In My Head" (live)

    Mp3: "Who's Ready To Get High" (live)

    Wow. Didjits. What can I say? I'd never heard 'em, and was pretty well blown away by the old-skool pop-punk they served up. I wasn't the only one... the cheers and applause were loud and lengthy. Singer/guitarist Rick Sims is a born showman, and any time that goes by without him fronting some loud-ish band playing fast-ish songs is a musical crime. Such a great set.

    It was made even better when I glanced over to my right to find Rick and Rose from the Poster Children alongside me, enjoying the sounds from their Champaign-spawned brethren even more than I was. Rose's near-non-stop pogo action was super-infectious. Three cheers for the PKids. (you have heard Radio Zero, Rick and Rose's podcast, have you not? )

    (Wikipedia page / T&G band page / MySpace)

    P.W. Long

    While I saw and dug P.W.'s low-key acoustic songs, a recording glitch means I can't share any of his set here. Hit up his MySpace page for three streaming tracks.

    (Wikipedia page / T&G artist page / MySpace)

    Negative Approach

    Mp3: "Pressure / Fair Warning" (live)

    Mp3: "Dead Stop" (live)

    Mosh pit!! With the very first note of NegApp's first song, the pit came to life. Like an unforeseen whirlpool, I got sucked right into the middle, and I loved it. For all of about 10 seconds. Then I realized my recording was going to come out sounding totally ass-tastic if I didn't escape, and soon. So I swam to the edge and became one of the border-guards, protecting myself from flailing arms and falling bodies as I pushed people back in. It was the best kind of pit... asshole-free and relatively safe, which I suppose could be attributed to the average age of the guys inside. Let's just say they had obvious pit experience. Good times.

    (Wikipedia page / T&G band page / MySpace)

    Sally Timms with Jon Lanford
    (from the Mekons)

    Mp3: "Corporal Chalkie" (live)

    Mp3: "God's Eternal Love"
    (live Mark Eitzel cover)

    I'm not sure what twisted genius put Sally Timms smack dab between the madness of a reunited Negative Approach and Scratch Acid, but somehow it worked. If her songs didn't seem to fit in that spot, her punk rock attitude sure did. She put the crowd in its impatient place, and got us ready for the imminent Yow...

    (Official site / T&G band page / Mekons site)

    Scratch Acid

    Mp3: "Monsters" (live)

    Mp3: "El Espectro" (live)

    Does my cred take a hit if I admit I've never owned any Scratch Acid records? Ah well. Sure, I'd heard 'em, but even though I'd been a total Jesus Lizard freak, my love never bled over into David Yow and David Sims' previous band. That's not to say I didn't know exactly what the Touch & Go crowd was in for, and that's exactly what we got: unfiltered and indecipherable Yow, all intensity and insanity, but thankfully without the nudity. I've seen enough of his twig & berries to last a lifetime, thank you very much.

    (Wikipedia page / T&G band page)

    Man or Astro-Man?

    Unfortunately, Man or Astro-man? gets the same short end of the stick as P.W. Long but for a different reason: I was stuck on the other side of the festival lot among the masses waiting for Big Black and Shellac to rock us. MoAM?'s set sounded solid from a distance, and if I hadn't seen 'em years ago in a small club, it would have been a far tougher decision to skip their set.

    (Official site / T&G band page / MySpace)

    Big Black

    01: "introduction"
    02: "Cables" (live)
    03: "Dead Billy" (live)
    04: "Pigeon Kill" (live)
    05: "Racer X" (live)

    As a reunited Big Black assumed their positions, frontman/guitarist Steve Albini kicked off their short four-song set by igniting a pack of firecrackers. No one in the crowd needed that to draw their attention; we'd been waiting for this for a very long time. Actually, that's not quite true... since no one expected this would ever happen, no one was really waiting for anything. Albini was joined by Jeff 'Stretch' Pezzati on bass, Santiago Durango on guitar, and of course Roland on drums, who I'm guessing had to be reprogrammed entirely from scratch. Couldn't resist sharing up all four songs here, along with the crackling intro.

    (Wikipedia page / T&G band page)


    Mp3: "Canada" (live)

    Mp3: "Billiard Player Song" (live)

    During Shellac's unbelievable set, I truly felt that I was witnessing a band at the absolute top of its game. It seemed that they had the massive crowd completely captivated, totally entranced. I got lost in it, in the tension, the energy, the pure skill coming from the stage. I've never heard them tighter, better mixed, or more powerful... there is no one that can make the sounds they do, simply one of the most unique rock trios off all time.

    They played a bunch of the songs that will likely make up their long-awaited next record, "Excellent Italian Greyhound", most of which have been floating around the internet for awhile now... here's hoping the wait for that full-length isn't much longer.

    (Wikipedia page / T&G band page)

    A few related links...
  • If you're familiar with torrent-style file sharing, you can grab full festival sets courtesy of some other tapers at DimeADozen: Pegboy / Jon & Kat, Killdozer, Didjits, Sally Timms, and Big Black / Scratch Acid.

  • Check YouTube for various T&G 25th-related video clips, including one of Tim & Andy's performance of the song above.

  • Easily listen to all the songs shared here on The Hype Machine

  • My first Touch & Go Fest post had lots more links, and live songs from Shipping News, Supersystem, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Girls Against Boys, and !!!.
  • Congrats to Denise in Mississauga, Ontario, who was the winner of my extra limited edition "Claws" single that Shipping News gave out on the festival's opening day. And as I said, the third and final post in this T&G trifecta will be up as soon as I can throw it together...

    Labels: ,

    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    Mp3s: Touch & Go's 25th - Day One

    So I'm not much of a music festival-goer. Lack of spare travel-time, discretionary funds, and mild enochlophobia usually keep me away from any major multi-day events. Sure, I've been to some over the years, but the ones that have drawn me are few and very far between: down the coast to D.C. for the Teenbeat Records 20th anniversary fest last year; 3000 miles to London for 4AD's 13 Year Itch in '94; a couple block walk in my old hometown of Burlington, VT for Sub Pop's Vermonstress back in '92 (fests were such a rarity up there, we were inspired to just do them ourselves).

    There've been more than enough bloggers (and not enough bands I deeply love) at the Coachellas, the Bonnaroos, the later-day Lollapaloozas. I could semi-experience them all vicariously through the wealth of photos, audio, and video coverage that appeared online shortly after each. But there was one fest, from the moment it was announced last summer, that I knew I had to be at: The Touch & Go Records 25th Anniversary Celebration. Didn't matter if cash was tight, if vaca-days were scarce, if hotels were either full up or too expensive... free will simply didn't factor in. Too many beloved bands were playing, some reuniting after years apart, musicians I thought I'd never get to see on a stage together again. I've got more Touch & Go discs on my shelves than nearly any other label, and I wanted to be part of the crowd that celebrated their existence. So air travel was booked, couch space was found, and off to Chicago I flew on Friday morning, September 8th, 2006.

    32 acts performed over three days, and I was there for every one of 'em, from the warm Friday evening start to chilly Sunday night finish, from the first notes of Shipping News straight through to Calexico's overtime encore. It was both exhausting and exhilarating, I ate far too little for the beers I downed, and by the end my feet hurt like holy hell. And how to describe what it was like to see some of my favorite bands in one place, playing so many songs that have made up the soundtrack to my fanboy existence? The hyperbole (or 'hyper-bowl' said Mr. Crow) could come easy, but so much of what I'd write was said over and over again from the festival's two stages, by the musicians themselves.

    By the time I flew home, I'd spent almost 30 hours standing in the Chicago municipal parking lot adjacent to the Hideout, the bar that was also celebrating its own anniversary of 10 years by hosting this huge block party. Thanks to the two-stage setup, there was very little between-band downtime, with some acts starting up as others faded out. Even grabbing food or a bathroom break meant you might miss something... the whole event ran that smooth. As an audio archivist, I had to make a few decisions: Check out a band I kinda like, or score a good spot on the other end of the lot for one I really love? Get stuck in the back for Shellac, or miss Man or Astro-man?

    In the end, I managed to capture sounds from all but two of the appearing acts, and I'll be offering up some songs over three posts during this last month of 2006, one for each day of the fest. I've given a lot of thought on how exactly to share this stuff, how best to honor the label without stepping on their toes. Asking around at the anniversary, I was told that official audio recordings weren't being made, but that videographers were recording as much as they could for later (eventually to be posted on T&G's website?). Since some artists only played for a few minutes, others performed songs I couldn't identify, and some random technical glitches, I've decided to share a couple tracks from each act I saw.

    And so here's the first night of the Touch & Go 25th Anniversary Celebration, recorded on September 8th, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. The sound quality of this particular day's mp3s isn't as good as the other two, thanks to a faulty mini-disc setting and the general difficulty in capturing outdoor aural action, but it's still more than worth a listen. Things get much better on day two and three. I'm going to keep my commentary on each band to a minimum, or I'll never get this post finish. Oh, and head to the bottom for a fest-related giveaway...

    Tim Tuten from the Hideout, our endearingly talkative
    host for the entire weekend, kicks things off by introducing...

    Shipping News

    Mp3: "(Morays or) Demon" (live)
    Mp3: "Axons and Dendrites" (live)

    A perfect start to the whole event, Shipping News had a new limited edition single ("Claws") specially made for the festival, and gave them out free to attendees. Nice touch.

    (T&G band page / Southern site / MySpace fan site)

    Supersystem (R.I.P.)

    Mp3: "Born Into The World" (live)
    Mp3: "The Pinnacle of Experience" (live)

    I hadn't heard much Supersystem before they took the stage, even in their previous incarnation as Dischord band El Guapo. Unfortunately for fans of either band, they've just called it quits according to this message on their website...

    After 10 years, the members of Supersystem/El Guapo have decided to disband. From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to thank everyone at Touch and Go, Dischord, Flower, Locusta, and others too numerous to name here for all your help over the years.

    Most of all we would like to thank everyone who supported us, saw us play, listened to our music, set up a show, played a show with us, or otherwise participated in making our time as a band really awesome. We appreciate it and will miss you!

    (Official site / T&G band page / Album stream / MySpace)

    Girls Against Boys

    Mp3: "Rockets Are Red" (live)
    Mp3: "Super-Fire" (live)

    The first jaw-dropping performance of the fest, GvsB played their entire 1993 T&G album "Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby" from start to finish as the sun went down, then threw a few faves on the end of the set for good measure. Loaned out and lost long ago, I re-bought the album immediately after they left the stage at the Reckless Records tent.

    (Official site / T&G band page / MySpace fan page)

    Ted Leo & the Pharmacists

    Mp3: "Sons of Cain" (live)
    Mp3: "Suspect Device" (live Stiff Little Fingers cover)

    "Sons of Cain", which has made the rounds in both demo & live form over the past year, is likely to be one of the highlights of TL/Rx's upcoming album, "Living With The Living", the band's first for Touch & Go. I can't get enough of the song... not just the killer guitar line, but the way the bass holds off for the first minute or so, the drum accents that last just a little longer than expected, the rising walk into the bass/drum breakdown, and Ted's unrestrained "Heeeeey!"s near the end. So good. Pray for his voice, kids: We never want to see the "Great Vocal Chord Inflammation of '03" happen again. Guy's got a lot more songs to sing for us next year...

    (Official site / T&G band page / MySpace / Lookout page)


    Mp3: "Must Be The Moon" (live)
    Mp3: "All My Heroes Are Weirdos" (live)

    The first night ended with a set of self-described "live dance music" from !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Not exactly my thing, but they do what they do very well, and treated a fairly enthusiastic crowd to songs from their upcoming disc "Myth Takes", which will be out in March on Warp. Studio versions of both songs above will be found the album, along with eight other new tracks.

    (Official site / T&G band page / MySpace)

    A whole lot of fest-related links...
  • Touch & Go founder Corey Rusk, who himself was the target of so much gratitude all weekend, shares his own heartfelt thank you note.

  • Touch & Go's official festival photo archive.

  • Although I traveled out to the fest solo, I spent lots of time hangin' with new friend and all around good guy from D.C., Sean K., who wrote up his experience in this Razorcake review. Nice to re-live the whole thing through his words, although I'll say one thing about the article: he needs to find a better photographer...

  • ... take John in Houston's shots, for example. Great photos to be found in his Flickr set. John was another guy I was glad to run into while I was out there. The fest became not just about the bands, but the tangibly warm vibe, and I met a whole bunch of people who helped make that so.

  • For more visual evidence, check out my own T&G fest Flickr set, the Flickr T&G fest pool, or some shots from newzeroeurope, kirstiecat, and Ryan Gear.

  • Chicago resident Mike, aka mrhonorama, reflected on the fest in words and photos on his MySpace blog here, here, and here.

  • A couple YouTube users shared up some videos: peasinspace has clips, as does leeharvey43.

  • T&G fest coverage (mostly via photos) from two of the usual suspects: BrooklynVegan (day 1/2/3) and Stereogum (1/2/3).

  • On the wall behind me here at work hangs a framed T&G festival poster, one of the two gorgeous prints that sold out over the weekend. I actually waited too long to grab one there (didn't want to drag it around), but was fortunate enough to order one up at artist Kathleen Judge's website. Not sure she has any left, but it's worth dropping her an email through there. I admittedly had a tough time deciding between her print, or the one by Jay Ryan, which you can take a look at here, although it's unfortunately no longer available.
  • And lastly, a holiday gift for making it to the end of this post: a copy of the instantly-out-of-print Shipping News single "Claws" that the band had pressed and available for free at the festival's Reckless Records tent. If you live in North America and want one of your own, send an email (subject: Claws!) with your mailing address to giveaways[-at-]bradleysalmanac[-dot-]com before midnight on Wednesday, December 13th. I'll pick one random entrant and send it along soon after.

    Mp3s from the second day of the Touch & Go 25th Anniversary Celebration should be posted next week. Key word: should. Lots to be done between now and then...

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