Umphree's McGee/STS9 concert review

Have you ever opened your mailbox and found a puppy wearing two Rolexes with an envelope tied around its little furry puppy neck that contains directions to the hangar that contains the private jet that's going to fly you to Maui, and then you fly to Maui and there's a guy in a 1968 Cadillac Eldorado there to pick you up and drive you to your beach house on Keawakapu beach and then he tells you the Eldorado is for you and it's Rhino-lined inside so you can hose it out when you get sand and sunscreen all over it and then when you pull up to your beach mansion there's a convertible 1970's Ford Bronco sitting there and it's all Rhino-lined too and it's also yours and then when you walk into your new mansion there's another puppy there to play with the first puppy that flew with you due to the fact that all the necessary paperwork had already been completed to get a puppy into a closed ecosystem such as Maui and this new playmate puppy also has an envelope and when you open it, it's your contract for your new TV show that you're going to host and the TV show is about music or whatever you want it to be about and then you realize you don't really even like Rolexes and then Mila Kunis and Evangeline Lily walk up from the beach and say they love Rolexes and would like you to trade your new puppy leg Rolexes for all new dive gear with underwater scooters, a couple surf boards, a large catamaran with dedicated mooring, and a couple fresh guava and you think that doesn't really sound like an equitable trade but they insist and then they tell you they live next door and even though you're married and your wife came with you and the puppy and your current dog, you're still pumped they live next door because it's awesome and your wife doesn't get all butt-hurt because other hot women exist in the world?

Have you? 

I'm not gonna say that's what it was like to see Umphree's McGee last night on an 80 degree summer night in KC, but my point is, it was a really unexpected treat. I hope I made my point. 

I'm not sure if this was a co-headlining situation, but the font size of the two band names on the tickets were the same, and I would say the size of the crowd was the same when we got there as when we left, which I took to indicate the excitement was just as high for UM as it was for STS9.

This was founded. 

Here is a list of bands my brother and I were reminded of as we watched UM play: 

NIN

The Beatles

Tool

Explosions in the Sky

Taco 

311

Van Halen

Phish

Metallica

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Patrick Cowley 

Steely Dan

Digital Underground

These are just the ones I can remember. There were more. If I were STS9, I would consider a less badass opener. And I don't say that because STS9 wasn't good. They were really good. A perfectly cooked, buttery filet mignon from Ruth's Chris is quite a delight, but it's less of a delight after eating a large Emo's pizza. What I'm saying is only morbidly fat people fully enjoyed the entire show to its fullest. No I'm not.

Speaking of fat people, my brother was vomited upon. It was one of the funniest things I've experienced in a long time. I can't really accurately explain why it was so magically hilarious to me, but here's a brief rundown... 

I notice him first. Fat beardo carrying a beer walking towards us and away from the stage. He kinda stumbles 15 feet away from us and spit-pukes a dainty, foamy beer stream that I thought was probably the result of accidentally getting some beer in his breathe hole instead of his swallow hole. It didn't look like a full reversal. I ease back a half step. My brother now sees him. My brother is closer to him than me. My brother has on flops. I have on regular shoes.  Fat beardo knows what's happening. We do not. Fat beardo picks up the pace and closes on our coordinates and is now 8 feet away. Fat beardo has a full reversal. Straight down, faster than gravity, mostly beer, and limited in girth only by the fact that his jaw lacks the ability to unhinge to allow greater flow. The ground is all mulch. It cannot instantly absorb this broken water main violence. 8 feet is too short a distance. I am spared. My brother is not. Flops, as it turns out, were a bad choice. I knew even before I wrote this paragraph it was a "had to be there" story, but there was something about the timing of it, seeing it unfold so quickly, seeing someone (my brother) process a situation truly a moment too late to act, that truly tickled (sometimes I wrote words I would never utter) me in that way where you can't stop laughing. Even five minutes later.

Life can be swell.

Holy fuck I just deleted the entire second part of this review.  

Fuck me. 

Dammit a whole lot.

I'll half-ass try to recreate it I guess. 

Umphree's McGee is not a band you can appreciate on the radio. They're harder than you think. They are decidedly un-pussy. They are business hippies. I was truly appreciative and totally surprised by their rock might. My original "this paragraph" was much writier than this.

STS9 is definitely worth the price of admission in and of themselves (I most definitely didn't use fucking "in and of themselves" the first time I wrote this). Where UM has a rock edge, STS9 has a more fluid groove. I kept thinking they are dubstep, but the whahwhamp whuh whuh whah of the dubstep drop is replaced by happy guitars.

Ok, I'm over it. My pissededness over deleting a half hour's work has overtaken my desire to recreate it half-assedly. 

Here's a vid of a cool cover/mashup UM does: 

 

KoRn concert review

KoRn

Peabody Opera House

St. Louis, MO

KoRn and John Mayer are a lot alike.

I know what you're thinking: "Finally! Somebody said it!"

That was you I just thought-quoted.

Wait, what? You didn't think that.

Oh.

Well, here's why I think it.

I've always marveled at how John Mayer can make great "simple" music. I've contended for some time now that making "simple" music that's moving and timeless is an absolute art. Think Van Morrison, think Jack Johnson. There's no complex layering, no odd time signatures, no speed solos or technically challenging harmonizing. There's just a whole lot of good. Over and over again. And a lot of people with rudimentary musical skills could probably cover all of it.

But they didn't create it. And also, they couldn't create it. And also, they won't ever be able to create it. Because in this "simpleness" scenario, that's where the greatness exists. In the creation.

Enter me. In St. Louis. Watching KoRn play power chords with very few single notes being plucked. Watching Fieldy (bass player) essentially playing a bongo drum in the form of a 5-string bass. Watching an entirely entertaining spectacle. Because much like really good and simple pop music, making good and catchy heavy metal is an art unto itself. 

And just to be clear, I'm not saying KoRn, Mayer, Morrison, and Johnson are necessarily formulaic. I don't appreciate music as a formula. One of my favorite song titles is Nirvana's "Verse Chorus Verse" for its aversion to that type of shrink-wrapped disposable musical upchuck.

A lot of really awful bands play power chords and never become KoRn. KoRn possesses a unique creativity and mystique wrapped in a highly emotional and aggressive musical package. It's tempting to lump them in with the shit metal bands that have fallen into obscurity these past 20 years, all while KoRn has been releasing successful albums and embarking on sold out tours. That's right, 20 years. I'm old.

And honestly, I'm not the hugest KoRn fan you'll ever meet. Of the 5 people I was with at this particular show, I was the 5th biggest fan. But I get it. I can see why their heads are still above water while so many others' aren't. It essentially boils down to authenticity. The anger, pain, and aggressiveness seems to come from a very real place, which is simultaneously sad and purposefully entertaining.

For the true KoRn fans out there, it was a treat to see Brian "Head" Welch (lead guitar, backup vocals) back with the band after an 8 year Jesus hiatus. When he walked out on stage at the beginning of the face-shredding opener, "Blind," I truly didn't recognize him. Hair grows a lot in 8 years, apparently. So do beards. I think tattoos must grow at the same rate on some people. As a matter of fact, the hair on all the original members of the band is a sight to behold in and of itself. Their respective dreads are long in the way a homeless dude's hair is long; not because they purposely grew it out, but because it seems like it actually never even dawned on any of them to cut their hair for 10 years. 

"Head" wore an all white jeans suit that looked to be showing the effects of the chimney sweeping job he had apparently just completed before the show. "Fieldy" painted his eyes racoony and was the only member not in long sleeves and long pants. He opted for the requisite 3/4 length Adidas shorts/pants and a Jersey tank. Jonathon (lead vocals) looked "fit" and somewhat happy, which made me happy after listening to the song "Daddy" on the way to the show. "Munky" (rhythm guitar, backup vocals) spits water a lot. And has copious amounts of cool. The drummer (not an original member) was probably the most musically talented person on stage, but he's sort of a hired gun, so I don't really care.

Here's the setlist:

Blind

Ball Tongue/It Takes Two/Lodi Dodi

Twist

Chi

Falling Away From Me

Narcissistic Cannibal

Dead Bodies Everywhere

Coming Undone

Did My Time

Shoots and Ladders/Somebody Someone

Here to Stay

Helmet in the Bush

No Place to Hide

Need To

Lies

Another Brick in the Wall

Encore

Get up!

Got the Life

Freak on a Leash

As a somewhat casual fan, I was completely happy with this setlist due to its heaviness on earlier albums. Not many artsy deep cuts here, which was fine by me, and by my observation, the rest of the angsty, black-clad concertgoers.

The sound at the Peabody Opera House is pretty damn good, even for a metal show. We were 4th row for this show and could hear every member fairly clearly. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves, with Jonathon even looking over at Head and laughing a few times mid song. This show is definitely not for everyone, but if you have even the slightest bit of "metal" in your personality, KoRn is a pretty sure bet to get your fix. Here's "Blind" from the St. Louis show (quality vids were tough to find...security were camera Nazis), followed by a little tease of some new material that sounds really interesting from a forthcoming album.

Sigur Ros concert review

Starlight Theater

April 4, 2013

If you've ever been to a concert where at times you felt like you were seeing Muse, Enya, and Nine Inch Nails, then you were probably seeing something pretty special. I, at times throughout the Sigur Ros show at Starlight Theater on a brisk 48 degree night this week, felt like I was seeing (and hearing) all those bands...I saw something special.

The choice to perform at an outdoor venue in early April in Kansas City was an interesting one. When we got our tickets we crossed our mind fingers in hopes that it wouldn't be 30 degrees. Or raining. Or raining and 30 degrees. Or 90 degrees. Or 90 degrees with a tornado. Or any degrees with a tornado. It was none of those degrees or other meteorological things. Thanks, mind fingers!

It was actually kind of perfect, weatherly speaking. High 40s/low 50s and clear. It felt more Fall than Spring. To see a band from Iceland in any other climate wouldn't have seeming fitting. It would be like when you see a polar bear at the zoo in August, it makes you just want to burn the zoo down ('cause that would really save the animals!). It seemed like we were seeing them as they were meant to be seen. There's a bleak, but hopeful component to their ethereal music that elicits images of a tedious chore that is rewarded with rapture at its completion. It wouldn't make sense if they hailed from a warm homeland. They're a coats and gloves band for sure, not boardshorts and flops.

On to the show.

The first two songs they played were done so behind a translucent "curtain" I'll call the "Membrane," and I can honestly say I've never seen anything quite like it. A Perfect Circle did a similar thing on their Mer De Noms tour 13 years ago, but the execution/impact was not the same (notice I didn't say it was worse?...my Maynard loyalty is moderately concerning). Think back to grade school when you turned off the science room lights and shined a flashlight through an egg and saw all the gunk and veins and preformed chicken bits. It was like that, but with Sigur Ros being the chicken bits, the "Membrane" being the shell, and the gunk and veins being the images and swirling designs being projected onto the Membrane.

I know.

It's hard these days to come up with something truly original in the way of visuals for a rock show (I would think), but they did it. The "Membrane" eventually dropped to the floor (hatched!! ...no?), and I was pleased to discover the hypnotic visual roadtrip we were on was not yet done. Lamps without shades at different heights surrounded the 10 musicians on stage (3 strings, 3 horns, 4 Sigur Ros's) and a huge horizontal screen behind the band made this performance truly a "show," and not just a concert.

The dark and sometimes brooding nature of Sigur Ros' music has strange effects on the crowd. At times (the beginning) I felt slightly embarrassed by the lack of energy I was feeling from our side of things, but I now realize it was something more of awe than apathy. Okay, awe might be a bit much. Maybe it was happy confusion. Or maybe sensory overload or the manifestation of a large group of people's brains searching for an appropriate reaction to a stimulus with no real precedent. Maybe it was cold and it's harder to hear glove-claps. Whatever it was in the beginning, it changed. They won us over, if that's how you choose to see it. Towards the deep-middle of the set, people started getting the holy ghost. There was spontaneous standing and hands-raised-palms-forwarding. There was louder cheering. There was dancing.

As I alluded to  earlier, their music can be sweet, it can be beautiful, and it can be flat-out industrial prog rock. I honestly thought of NIN on more than 3 occasions. I didn't expect that, but it's not at all a complaint. As all you devoted followers of concertninja well know, this was a 3-show week for me, and not that I'm an art judger (actually, I kind of am), but this was the week's winner by a safe distance, and I really wouldn't have predicted that going into it. The combination of venue, weather, vibe, and execution made it a Stand-Out show in a week of stand-out shows.

Maybe my favorite song of the night was a new one, Brennisteinn, which was emailed with 2 other songs as a digital EP to all who bought tickets to Sigur Ros about a week prior to the show. Upon hearing it live I wasn't quite sure if it was the new song (give me a break, they don't speak English and I'd only heard it a couple times), so we just referred to it as "The Green Song," because of the visuals that accompanied it. The Green Song has a grimy bass pulse that's actually played on keyboard by the bassist that got so deep in your chest it transformed the act of swallowing into a completely voluntary act. It was, in a word, badass. Here's a version of it:

Other than that song, I only really knew 3 other songs well. Normally that would be a recipe for disaster for a concert (setlist anger!), but the nature of their music is such that it didn't really matter. Mood is king at a Sigur Ros show. I mean, what are you gonna do, sing along in the Icelandic/English/Other language they made up? I'll answer that: No, you're not. Hopefully you'll just be there, like I was, and appreciate a rare thing.

Here's one from the KC show I particularly enjoyed, followed by the setlist:

  • Yfirborð

  • Ný Batterí

  • Vaka

  • Hrafntinna

  • Sæglópur

  • Fljótavík

  • E-bow

  • Varúð

  • Hoppípolla

  • Með Blóðnasir

  • Olsen Olsen

  • Kveikur

  • Festival

  • Brennisteinn

  • Encore:

  • Glósóli

  • Popplagið

  • Alt-J

    Midland Theater, Kansas City

    April 2, 2013

    Let me explain a little something about my co-host, co-ninja, co-concert attender Peterman Pedro Inteligente Smart. He likes to exaggerate. Well, I can’t honestly say he LIKES it, but he DOES it. A lot. And by a lot I’m talking both frequency and severity. In fact, his hyperbolizing became so frequent and disruptive a number of years ago, I was forced to develop an arithmetic system to help me understand the size and scope of some of his claims. It’s called the Pete Rule of Ten.

    Here’s how it works... You take the Claim of Pete (Cp), determine if the direction of the exaggeration is down (D) , i.e. “I could still 360 dunk a year ago,” in which case you multiply by 10 (answer: he could do that dunk 10 years ago), or if the direction is up (U), i.e. “This is my favorite album in the past 20 years,” in which you divide by 10 (answer: favorite album in the past 2 years). A flow chart would probably be the best pictorial representation of how it all shakes out, but as an equation it would look something like this: 

    Cp=claim of Pete, D=downward exaggeration, U=upward exaggeration, T=truth.

    So, in the case of a “D,”                                Cp X 10 = T

    And in the case of “U,”                                  Cp / 10 = T

    Got it?

    There is a reason I’ve explained this phenomenon, and it relates to the Alt-J show at the Midland Theater on 4/2/13. Roughly 6 or 7 songs into the set on this fine Kansas City night, after I had decided I was becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Thom Green (Alt-J drummer), Mr. Inteligente leans over to me and states: “He’s my favorite drummer of the past 10 years.” At that precise moment, like a flashcard from 6th grade, this image pops into my mind: Cp / 10 = T. My math teacher was right! I would use equations in everyday life!

    Now that I’ve taken you on a small journey that (if my math is correct) brought us directly to the truth (T) of how Peterman felt about the drummer of this band (favorite in the past one year), I will say that’s still a significant statement. We see a decent amount of live shows. We trade live performance videos via email like Garbage Pail Kids (…aaaaand dated myself). Also, we try our best to avoid the suck shows and suck videos of suck musicians playing suck drums. As a result, any statement placing any musician in that kind of “favorites” category means they are pretty damn unbad at what they’re doing.

    This was no exception. Dude was pretty legit. Part of it had to do with the fact that the other 3 members of the band were essentially backlit for the majority of the show and he was not, but I think my eyes would have been drawn to his abilities regardless of the stage lighting setup.

    Before I go any further, here is the setlist:

    Interlude 1

    Tessellate

    Something Good

    Buffalo

    Dissolve Me

    Fitzpleasure

    Slow Dre (Kylie Minogue cover)

    Matilda

    Interlude 2

    Bloodflood

    Ms

    Breezeblocks

    Encore:

     Hand-Made

     A real Hero (College cover)

    Taro

    Seeing a band tour after their first album is kind of a special thing. You can pretty much rest assured you’re going to hear the entire album, and if you’re lucky, a cover or two. This particular show was not an exception to that general axiom. However, the cover is typically not the highlight of the night. Strangely (because I loved this album so much), on this night I think it was. “Slow Dre,” the Kylie Minogue/Dr. Dre hybrid cover was a confusing, and honestly just flat groovy little surprise jam that I’d never heard before Tuesday night. Now that I’ve researched it and heard the different versions floating around the www, I’m slightly embarrassed I didn’t recognize the “Still Dre” part of the groove when I first heard it, but I will take a little hipster solace in the fact that I kept telling the people around me it was straight hip-hop before I actually knew it was, well, almost straight hip hop. Here’s a decent version of it:

    Other than that little curveball and the song “Buffalo”, they played essentially the entire album, An Awesome Wave.  They kicked it all off with the first three tracks of the album in succession, which I would guess upset absolutely nobody. The stage setup was fairly straightforward with decently elaborate lighting, considering this was their first major tour.

    The theater was sold out (3,000ish people), and I was told before the show that for some reason they’ve hit it bigger here (KC) than in any other U.S. city. This was their second show here in the past 4 months, and judging by the crowd energy, that wasn’t too many. Overall, if you were a fan of their first album, you had to be a fan of this show. If you went in looking for that transformative moment that can happen at a concert that just levels you to your own mind floor, I’m not sure you got it. There were no moments that were much more powerful live than they are on the album. There weren’t many meanderings, added solos, added pauses, primal screams, or slap your own mama in the mouth instances. But that’s okay. Those moments are typically grown on the road. They develop. They are both spontaneous and cultivated, and this is a band in its infancy.

    The fact that they’re relatively green in the touring game, combined with the fact that their overall sound is pretty much unlike anything else out there right now, equals the potential for a pretty terrible live experience. The music itself is complex and I would guess challenging to pull off live, and Joe Newman (lead singer) has a voice that is, how should I say, 1 part Kermit, 2 Parts Brett Dennen, and maybe another 1 or 2 parts “is that autotune or his actual voice?” Those are ingredients for a show that is potentially squirming-in-your-seat uncomfortable to watch. But it wasn’t at all. It’s like they took hot sauce and vodka and salt and a mango and made a delicious cupcake out of it.

    It is, it’s like that.

    Cupcakes are good.

    Here’s one from the KC show:

    Hummingbird by Local Natives

    February 5, 2013

    By: Brom

    I openly admit that sometimes I misjudge the scope and cultural impact of certain bands. I'll assume that my love of a band somehow raises their status in the overall lexicon of popular music in direct correlation with my playcount of their songs. The angle of their popularity dangle is not inversely proportionate to the heat of my approval of their quality meat? Yes! Nailed it! 

    This misjudgment of mine was first illustrated to me at a Shins concert in Lawrence, Kansas, again at a Pinback show in Lawrence, again at a Citizen Cope concert in Lawrence, again at a Tune-Yards concert in Lawrence, at a White Rabbits show in KC, and most notably at another Pinback show in a tiny room in KC. Each of these shows were shocking in their smallness of crowd and venue. To me.

    I am, or have been at some point, a big fan of all these bands. The same goes for most of my friends. We listen (or listened) to these bands as frequently as the "big print" bands like PJ, Radiohead, My Morning Jacket, or the Black Keys. As a result, walking into a room that holds, say, 700 people twenty minutes before a Shins show and seeing 250 people can be moderately confounding.

    Until you realize a few things:

    1. There is a natural life cycle of all bands, and sometimes you luck out and happen to catch greatness in its infancy at a tiny venue. It's the equivalent of seeing LeBron play in Jr. High. Good for you and your finely-tuned music antenna.

    2. College towns are weird.

    3. Some really good bands just don't have mass appeal, which is good because when people become a mass, I usually hate them and don't want them listening to my bands. 

    4. Much like black holes, p-branes, female emotions, and the success of Keanu Reeves, there will always be logical outliers. Sum thangs jus' don't make the sense.

    Which (finally!) brings me to my review of Hummingbird, by Local Natives. 

    Local Natives put out an album in 2010 called Gorilla Manor, which I hope falls into Category 1 above, in that it was greatness seen and heard by only a few. If that's the case, Hummingbird should be the album to raise their relative position in the music world to a place that is far removed from a show at a dive in Westport KC. 

    Because it's really good. Like, I'll-be-surprised-if-it-isn't-in-my-Top-10-albums-of-2013 good. I know, I know, it's only Feb. 5th. 

    It always peeves me when an album review doesn't include any attempt at a comparison to another band/album/song. What do you want me to do, listen to the album for myself? 

    Consequently, there have been a few bands that have been surfacing in my mind as I've listened to this album the past week, so hopefully these somewhat indiscriminate comparisons won't lead you astray. 

    If you don't like the innovation of Grizzly Bear, or the sparse minimalism (that only blooms to expose its depth and intentionality upon multiple listens) of new Radiohead, or the pop sensibility with darkness at the edges of Transatlanticism-era Death Cab for Cutie, skip this album, because it has all of it. 

    It's not necessarily ground-breaking, although it is creative and original sounding. It feels like a deviation from the rat race of as-yet-little-known artists who try to throw everything they have at a canvas, Jackson Pollack style, in hopes of picking up a fan or two by way of musical carpet bomb. 

    It is innovative minimalism. It is pretty. 

    As boring and commonplace as that may be, "pretty" is probably the most apt adjective to describe the overall feel of Hummingbird. That in no way implies the music itself is boring, as patient and repeated listens reveal frenetic drumming, avant-garde guitar work, and creative song structuring. 

    As with all music, listening on quality headphones or a good stereo with good balance and accurate lows always enhances the overall experience, but even more so than usual with this album. 

    So do yourself a favor. Don't stream this album. Buy it. Put it on a proper stereo. Play it. Repeat. It can kind of wash over you upon first listen, leaving only an impression. Don't let that be the end. Listening once and moving on is not talking to that hot girl at the coffee shop with all the bracelets. Trust me, talk to her, she's better in your life than as an impression in your memory. 

    Favorite songs:

    Ceilings, Three Months, Bowery

    Older Shows

    March 23, 2012

    By: Brom 

    RADIOHEAD

    Sprint Center - March 11, 2012

     

    Let's just start this one right here:

    Bloom

    15 Step 

    Morning Mr. Magpie 

    Weird Fishes/Arpeggi 

    All I Need

    Pyramid Song 

    The Daily Mail

    Supercollider ( tour debut ) 

    Nude 

    Identikit ( song restarted after Clive messed up on drums. Halfway through second attempt, house lights came on ) 

    Lotus Flower 

    There There 

    Feral 

    How to Disappear Completely ( tour debut ) 

    Reckoner 

    Encore: 

    Separator 

    Myxomatosis 

    Idioteque 

    Lucky 

    Everything In Its Right Place

    Encore 2: 

    Give Up the Ghost

    Paranoid Android 

    Soak that bad boy in. 

    I'm pretty big on pre-concert prep. Having at least a cursory grasp of the potential setlist based on internet research of previous shows is essential. It's just proper preparation. It's the fireproof matches of your camping trip. It's Walter Sobchak's uzi. You didn't think I was gonna roll out there naked, did you?

    That said, I deviated from my routine on this one. I left the matches at home. I rolled out there naked and free of expectation. Avoiding online setlists for this show was akin to listening to your best friend really open up to you about how they felt when their grandma died, while noticing the Phoebe Cates scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High come on the TV over their shoulder. Must. Not. Look. Except it lasts for weeks. 

    All things considered, I should have been immeasurably excited for this show. And I was excited. But it was just more of an intellectual excitement for some reason. It was an awareness of the existence of the proper elements required to create excitement, but it really wasn't actual EXCITEMENT. I had forgotten what I learned at the first two Radiohead shows. 

    I'm pretty sure my frequent concert-attender teammate?, Pedro Inteligente, fell victim to the same lack of true anticipatory excitement as well. Here's how our pre Radiohead-takes-the-stage conversation went:

    Me: "Is there anybody you'd want to walk on that stage next more than Radiohead?"

    Pedro: (actually it doesn't really matter what he said here, because anything besides the answer "no," proves my point about the incorrect level of excitement for what was about to happen...and for the record, he did try to list a couple bands.) 

    Me: "I think you might be wrong."

    *Radiohead takes the stage and launches into the song "Bloom..."*

    Pedro Inteligente: *taps me on the shoulder* "No."

    And so it began.

    Having not looked at the setlists from previous shows, there was a lot of talk amongst those of us at the show as to what they might lead with. An opening song is a funny thing. It's definitely a tone-setter, but in all reality the anticipation at certain shows rises to a level that the band could literally walk out there and play their absolute worst song and it would kill. I'm actually torn as to whether I think a band should use the anticipation as a crutch to play a song that might not get much love later in the set, or just come out and shred faces with a hit. I'd say they did the former. But it worked. I got chills. And I don't really even like that song all that much. Radiohead is better than me.

    Thom had a ponytail and beard. Ed O'Brien (rhythm guitar, vocals) had on one of those top-hatty fedora-type hats. They have added another bald, Uncle Fester drummer. The stage setup, although pretty with its wall of lights behind and 12 mechanically moving flatscreens above, was somewhat less mesmerizing than the In Rainbows tour where they had the LED light strips surrounding all members on the stage. 

    The sound quality from our seats (lower section, 9th row, decently close) was great. I love it when I hear parts of songs live that I never noticed on the album because the mix is slightly different. There were times during this show where I picked up on some of the crazy guitar layers Jonny Greenwood creates, simply because it wasn't as buried as it might be on the studio mix. 

    I'm definitely the type of Radiohead fan who (since Kid A) routinely feels a sinking feeling of doom when I hear their newest album for the first time. I think it's over. I conclude it was just too much concentrated creative achievement in too short a time. They've lost it. Now they're trying to be innovative for innovation's sake. Then I see them perform these new songs live. And I repent. 

    I was truly not expecting "Pyrmaid Song," How to Disappear Completely," "Myxamatosis," or "Everything In Its Right Place." Additionally, "The Daily Mail" was much better than I expected.

    The song of the night was "Idioteque," although honestly I can't think of one single song that wasn't excellent. I know that's super boring to read, but it was a rare show. Even at my absolute favorite shows, I'm ready to go after 2 hours. I truly could have stayed and listened to 10 more songs, easily. They played for over 2 hours and it felt like 30 minutes.

    How I forgot the magnitude of the greatness of a Radiohead show is beyond me, I just hope I get the chance to make that mistake again soon.

    Here's a couple from the KC show:

    March 10, 2012

    By: Brom 

    PUSCIFER

    Kansas City Music Hall - March 6, 2012

    Almost 3 years to the day since the last actual concert review on this site. I think I'm almost refreshed. Let's see if I remember how to tell you about stuff.

    Oh Puscifer, what a name you have chosen for your band. Here's how liking a band with this name works...

    Old lady at the grocery store who you have "chatted up" because it's 75 degrees out in early March and it makes you prone to chat up old grocery store ladies: "Well dear, what are you going to do with this swell weather tonight?"

    Me: "I'm actually going to a concert." 

    Nice old lady: "Oh, that's nice. Who are you seeing?"

    Me: (cold sweat...do I just say it? I mean, it's not the ACTUAL word, right? Heh heh. *swallow* "Oh, it's just the side project of the lead singer of my favorite band." 

    And then you have to just violently rain a full bag of trail mix (make sure you use the kind with the wasabi peas-the aged don't abide spicy things) down on her entire old body to distract her from the obvious next question, which is "What's their name?" Now you've committed an assault on a senior because you were trying to avoid committing a sexual misdemeanor on a senior just by saying the name of the stupid band you're seeing. Thanks Maynard. Just Pusciferfect.

    Moving on.

    Here's the setlist:

    Maynard Monologue 

    The Green Valley 

    Tiny Monsters 

    Vagina Mine 

    Dozo 

    Toma 

    The Rapture (Fear is a Mind Killa Mix) 

    The Weaver

    Rev 22:20 

    Potions 

    Momma Sed

    Oceans 

    Monsoons

    Horizons 

    Conditions of My Parole 

    Man Overboard 

    Telling Ghosts 

    The Undertaker 

    Encore: 

    Tumbleweed 

    This was the second show I got to catch on this Puscifer tour (the first was in St. Louis last Fall before Mayney took some time out for a quick Tool tour), so I had a good idea what to expect. Maynard isn't one to make drastic changes to the shows of any of the 3 bands he fronts during a given tour. What you see in KC is what you see in Toledo is what you see in Atlanta. 

    The show starts with a 20ish minute comedy video starring Maynard himself as a southern punk-bluegrass singer, and his wife/cousin/bandmate, Hildy. It's a good warmup, although people who follow Maynard are wont to over-appreciate everything he does, as was apparent by the inordinately passionate laughing during certain parts of the video. Oh well, I guess there are definitely less talented people in the world to over appreciate.

    During the video, one might take notice that the stage is curiously empty and void of any of the standard apparatuses one would typically associate with a rock concert. Absent are the mic stands, the drum kit, the floor pedals of a guitarist. There is no keyboard. No bass. No monitors. Just a black stage with glowy tape. At this point any seasoned concert-goer is thinking, "Sweet, they're not coming on for another 45 minutes, minimum." You are wrong, seasoned concertperson, how dare you underestimate the uniqueness of Puscifer!

    The next thing that happens on stage is actually pretty damn cool. Out walks Maynard. In a full-length leather trench coat, boots, and a cowboy hat. He's pulling an RV trailer. An actual RV trailer. An Airstream. And it's Maynard. And you can see him. He's not just some strange and elusive shadow figure doing his, what I call, butter churn trance dance towards the back of the stage. He's a dude in a cowbot hat. Minds are being blown, you can feel it. I'm telling you man, people think this guy is truly an alien lifeforce. Get on the internet, I'm not making it up. But here he is, alone, pulling an RV. After getting it into place on the stage, he catches his breath, and launches into a 10 minute monologue on what Puscifer is, as it pertains to the intersection of creativity as a means of survival, and as a natural result of the human race's refinement of reactions to patterns that emerge from repeating a survivalistic lifestyle. Or something. I bet the old lady at the grocery store would think it was swell.

    During the monologue he's pulling things out of the RV and placing them on the stage. Camping chairs, tables, wine, a weber grill with fake fire, his female vocalist, Corina Round. He then invites the rest of the band out, who all bring out their respective intruments and devices. 

    Let's do this. 

    From there, the chattiness ends for the majority of the rest of the show as the band goes fairly rapid-fire through the set. The setlist is definitely heavy on the new album, which is good, and the visuals that are projected onto the huge screen behind the band get increasingly better as the show progresses. 

    Short comedy pieces are played on the screen between certain songs which sort of work as surrogate band-crowd interaction. The sophomoric nature of the comedy is a stark contrast to the moody darkness and sometimes prettiness of the music, but it somehow helps break things up and give the show a little more shape.

    Admittedly, I probably like the things Maynard puts into the world a little more than I should (I've even tried his wine), but I feel confident in saying this show is truly unique. The music itself may or may not move you the way it does me, but it's safe to say the overall "performance" is not unlike a variety show. The combination of visuals, comedy, music, and philosophic monologues make this feel less like a concert and more like Vegas show or a play. That being said, the musicianship was excellent, and the sound mix was very balanced, allowing all instruments and voices to be heard clearly.

    A note about these videos...security is super tight for these shows. The band does not appreciate bootlegged videos on the www. There are not a plethora of high quality vids to choose from on youtube, but here's a couple decent ones: