Great gigs seem to have a few things in common for me.

a.) they come when I least expect it,

b.) the tickets get given to me by someone who can’t make the show and doesn’t want them wasted

and c.) they are at the corner hotel.

I’ve been to a few gigs that meet this criteria. Dear old kentucky gave me tickets to see broken social scene and I was blown away. My girlfriend couldn’t make it to M. Ward and he was spectacular. And now tonight,I get an SMS from friends to see if I wanted to make sure their tickets to Jens Lekman weren’t wasted.

I didn’t know a whole lot going in, other than Kentucky waxed lyrical about his lateast album a few months back, and I’d heard a few tracks on seeqpod as a result. But he was disarmingly charming. The six piece band (including a few local string players) sounded lush and full, playing beautifully along with some backing track embelishment. I don’t know a whole lot of the song titles, but the set was a mix of quieter introspective songs about hairdressers and more upbeat numbers. I was happy to hear ‘black cab’, one of only a few tracks I recognised, especially after his introduction about a Turkish man humming it to him after a show.

In many ways I prefer going into a show not knowing the tunes. It stops me getting bored when I don’t recognise songs and makes me concentrate more on the ones I hear. I’m thinking of implementing this as a policy, only going to see new artists who I don’t own an album by. This shouldn’t narrow my options much with the amount of music I’ve bought over the last few months.

I was also pleased to see the Ladybug Transistor. Even though by the time I made it in I only caught the tail end of their set, what I heard was wonderful. I got to hear ‘like a summer rain’, a song that will take me back to winter nights when I first got to Melbourne.

Whilst I’m here, I’d like to say bonvoyage to old Kentucky, as it will save me sending her an email later. She is sadly leaving our shores for more hospitable climes. Farewell friend, It shall be colder in Melbourne without you. Hope you enjoy yourself, don’t stop writing and I’ll catch up with you soon.

And before I go a very special thanks to Alex and Jane for the tickets, I owe you two dinner.

January has been a good month for music.  With the numerous festivals around at the moment, there has been no shortage of single shows to keep Melbourne entertained.

So what better way to say sayonara to the holiday period than with a gig by Arcade Fire  Selling out in super quick time, the band settled on two shows for Melbourne just after the Big Day Out festival. 

Anticipation and excitement were running high and there seemed to be a buzz amongst the crowd as punters filed in for one of the best live gigs I’ve seen in a very long while.

At the start, the band seemed to focus on playing a number of songs from their new-ish album of last year, Neon Bible, however 2004’s Funeral was definitely represented, with the band playing the favourites “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)”, “Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)” and my favourite, “Rebellion (Lies)”.  As a treat, towards the end of the gig the band treated the audience to an older track, “Headlights look like Diamonds”.

Although Win Butler’s massive frame commanded attention for much of the show, the rest of the band members had their prescence known, with Regine singing along to the crowd and running between the many instruments she masters.  Will Butler definitely seemed to be getting into it the most, at one point jumping over his drumset to get to the keyboards and nearly breaking his neck in the process.

I was unsure as to how their music would translate to a live setting, but the band didn’t disappoint, sounding stronger than ever.  I was most suprised that Regine’s sweet, almost childlike voice stood up better than on disc.  All in all it was an excellent, high energy show that would convert event the toughest of critics.

Check them out if you get the chance.

Playing to a seeminly sold out Corner Hotel on Saturday, Built to Spill definitely showed they still have the chops since coming to my attention 11 years ago when The Normal Years was released.  I have to admit I was suprised to see so many people, considering You in Reverse, their album on 2006 seemed to sink without a trace.  But the place was packed despite the heat and the crowed brimmed with anticipation (or maybe that was just me).

As it’s a good few years since I was a huge fan, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get into the  show as much as I may have as a teenager.  I needn’t have worried though, the band came accross very strong and high energy, particularly compared to their opening act The Crayon Fields.

Probably as it’s their first time in Australia, the band pleased the crowd with some old favourites such as Carry the Zero and Nowhere Nothing Fuckup.  The only detractor would have to be the way the show ended.  As soon as the encore hit and I heard the opening bars of Randy Describes Eternity I knew what I was in for.  18 minutes of distortion followed a genuinely good performance of the song.  It had to happen, though ending on that note might not have been the best idea of a lasting impression.

I have been lucky enough to be the recent recipient of quite a bit of hand-me-down music from friends (which is one reason why I’ve been a bit slack post-wise).  One such band is The Good the Bad and the Queen, Damon Albarn’s recent project.

Having released their self titled debut album in January 2007, the band has received quite a bit of publicity this year, but I never sat down and actually listened until last week.  Formed in 2006, the band includes members of The Clash, The Verve and Fela Kuti.  Described to me as a more-dub low key version of Gorillaz, though this might not be entirely accurate… it seems to echo the brit pop era, but it’s Damon Albarn so that association will always be there whether it’s true or not..particular album highlights include Herculean and Behind the Sun.. anyways check it out!

 

With the Big Day Out touring around the country in a few weeks, one thing you can count on is some great side shows.

One band I was really hoping would do a side show is The Arcade Fire.  After a few weeks of religiously checking my local street press for any sign of news, finally a gig in Melbourne has been announced.

The band is set to play The Forum on 29th January ’08.  Tickets go on sale on the 12th Dec and are $87.00.

Other bands to keep an eye on for side shows in this Big Day Out season are Bjork, Spoon, Rage Against the Machine, Battles (who are also doing a sideshow), Die! Die! Die!, Billy Bragg and Unkle.

Just thought I’d mention how good the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival is looking this year.

The Melbourne date is 24th of February and features a bill including Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Okkervil River, Gotye, Feist, The Panics and more.

Not to mention the fact that the festival is finally overflowing onto Lonsdale Street which will hopefully allow a bit more breathing space. (There’s only so much garbage smell you can take).

Tickets are on sale now so get a move on!

When the weather heats up, as it’s doing now, there are always a few old staples that I pull out of my collection. A lot of them I should have grown out of by now, but there are a few, more current potentials as well.

So I thought I’d do a warm weather recommendation list for Spring/ Summer:

1. Who among us can go pass Beck. Since ’97 he’s been my go to guy for all things summer music. There’s just something about the great samples and hispanic references that do it for me. For summer, I think Odelay is where it’s at.

2. Keeping in the vein of nostalgia, I’m gonna say a bit of Pavement– in particular Slanted and Enchanted. I mean, it has a song on it called “Summer Babe”. Need I say more?

3. For something slightly newisher, I’m going to say Matisyahu. Probably the Live at Stubbs album. You just get a feeling of warmth from listening to that, I’m not sure how.

4. The Avalanches are no stranger to good times, and I always find this album puts me in a better mood when I’m walking to work.

5. The Hives. It’s not just that they have a new album out (which perfectly coincides with good weather) but I always feel like listening to a bit of Ven Vidi Vicious when things heat up.

6. The Unicorns, great great band. Not sure what really happened there but as far as I know they are kaput. It’s a real shame though cause Who will Cut our Hair When We’re Gone is a great album.

7. A bit of a favourite in all weather, but for me, The Shins’ Oh Inverted World is definitely a summer album. I think Wincing the Night Away is also a fair contender this year.

8. When it’s really stinking hot and I kind of want to feel sorry for myself, I tend to put on a bit of Wilco. Probably Being There due to the more country slant, but last year I was really into Kicking Television. It’s a good one for a lazy afternoon. 

9. It’s a shame about Pete Doherty, but The Libertines were awesome weren’t they? Like everyone else, I stopped paying too much attention after PD left, but Up The Bracket is a great album.

10. I don’t tend to listen to this album much in the cooler months,probably to avoid depression, but The Magnetic Fields’ 60 Love Songs is always a good summer listen.

11. Pinback, in particular Summer in Abbadon is a good one to listen to around about now, but since their new album, Autumn of the Seraphs is equally good, I would recommend that.

12. Back to a bit of nostalgia, summer wouldn’t be complete with a bit of the Blue Album. Weezer before they went a bit off the wall is always a treat.

13. Iron & Wine are always good, really no matter what temperature, but in particular the album they did with Calexico, In the Reins, is a winner.

14. You’ll forgive me, but I can’t help but gush more about Jens Lekman.  Currently, Night Falls Over Kortedala  is my spring album.

15. Finally, I’m gonna go with a bit of The Beta Band. Though I think the Best of Album is good for an overview, their self titled album is probably my favourite.

Also, as an afterthough, Andrew Bird‘s The Mysterious Production of Eggs is definitely a good one for around about now, possibly because I saw him last summer, or possibly just cause it’s a good album.

Take it or leave it, they’re just a few suggestions that I have found myself already thinking about for potential sountracks.

Any other suggestions?