Despite the fact that the internet has gotten a bit safer, hearing that TheAudioPerv.com has decided to close up shop for relatively vague and undisclosed reasons is quite unsettling. We at RethinkPopMusic and The Rethink Agency are saddened by this news as we truly enjoyed partnering with them during CMJ.
Michael, you have exquisite taste in music from suggesting we book Young the Giant back in early 2010 (we inexplicably passed) to giving Isadora (formerly The Yes Way) all sorts of love on your blog. Whatever you choose to do from hear on out will undoubtedly be successful.
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Upon entering The Basement on Thursday night, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that The Infamous Stringdusters had sold out Promowest’s “entry level” venue.
Featuring stand up base, fiddle, acoustic guitar, banjo and dobro, the percussion absent Charlottesville, North Carolina quintet can flat out play. However, don’t get them confused with that popular band from across the pond with a similar lineup, unlike Mumford and Sons, The Infamous Stringdusters are making legitimate bluegrass.
As The Infamous Stringdusters got into the meat of their set and I possibly had one too many beers, I got to segregating today’s bluegrass into two camps. Most currently touring bluegrass acts either fall into the Del McCoury old school picker style or your “herbally enhanced” jam heavy Yonder Mountain String Band variety.
Nevertheless, despite my pigeonholing, The Infamous Stringdusters did their best to merge the two variations on Thursday night. Seamlessly transitioning from covering a tune by veteran picker Jimmy Martin, only to follow it up with the Police’s Walking On The Moon (the latter of which strayed far from the bluegrass path) led to me to the conclusion that The Infamous Stringdusters may just be a jam band wolf in bluegrass wool… and that’s fine by me.
This may be the first time that anyone writing for this blog has started an entry with a direct venue complaint. The following is with great consideration and apprehension for that matter, but I know I’m not alone amongst those in attendance last Wednesday:
Dear Rumba Cafe, despite having amazing sound, an intimate setting and outdoor space to explore, your venue has provided my most awful venue experience since I have managed tours with broke, unknown bands. I mean Carbondale or West Memphis bad!
Personally, I always watch a show from as far away as possible. No, I’m not suffering from agoraphobia, but rather because I don’t pay to see shows, I’m not a good photographer AND its the true fans who deserve to be front and center with the best view. As a result you can almost always find me at the furthest corner of the bar, attentively listening to the music, but more watching the crowd than the stage. Therefore, it wasn’t a shock to me when an audience member, during the opening act nonetheless, turned around between songs and berated the bar staff.
Rumba Cafe, you are absolutely doing something wrong. Your staff needs to know they work at a music venue and some shows are going to be subdued. This means your door girl shouldn’t be cackling over the music to tell the bartenders whatever dipshit pseudo-hipster thing she did today on her fixed gear bike en route to CCAD. Now, if the venue wasn’t packed and the audience not engaged you would just be thoughtless assholes, but because the show was an obvious fiscal success, your staff are officially clueless twats.
Have you not explained to them how difficult it is to turn a profit as a music venue? Insulting the patrons by chatting over an act they came to see will disenfranchise the fans, scare away the novice and force artists to pass on playing at Rumba Cafe (Columbus for that matter) on the next tour.
Despite my complaints, I do love the venue itself and greatly appreciate the aggressive booking of lesser known acts. And I apologize if you are offended by the fact that I hold you to higher standards than PromoWest. However, all will be for not unless you train your staff to respect all genres of music and tend bar accordingly. After all, it is about the music right?!
Now that is settled, its time to discuss the accidental star of the evening Frank Fairfield. While he was wrapping up his set with an intense rendition of “Rye Whiskey” I scribbled the following in my notepad:
Frank Fairfield reminds me of the instrumental brilliance of Andrew Bird or Townes Van Zandt, while encompassing the enthusiasm-lacking storytelling ability of Johnny Cash with the styling of Mark Twain (visually and verbally).
At the beginning of this video you can hear someone ask him: “Is it fair to say you just weren’t made for these times?”
Frank’s response: “I think everything’s just as it should be.”
I thoroughly agree. While my knowledge of early Americana folk music, steel guitars vs. banjo or Appalachian vs deep south is basically limited to Leadbelly matters not. And I’m not going to write a piece trying to decipher the true origins of a musician being able to seamless flow from acoustic guitar, banjo and fiddle. However, I will say that hearing Frank Fairfield perform is one of the more memorable experiences of my self-serving musical pilgrimage.
Frank Fairfield is not living in another time or some retro throwback. He is a musician making the music that he loves regardless of what is current. He isn’t out to exploit the folk niche by making shirts without graphics, shoes made out of real leather or a big bushy mustache cool. Its simply who he is and honestly there is nothing more rewarding than to see him perform… “just as it should be.”
The transition from Frank Fairfield to Horse Feathers was seamless and it appears the entire audience was right back front and center as soon as they took the stage. Despite a number of bands performing relatively similar music there is a unique, lovely sincerity in Justin Ringle’s voice.
I find the strings help supplement the softness of the vocals and bring a more intense dynamic, preventing the songs from becoming lullabies. And as Ringle’s voice defines Horse Feathers, even the greatest things need to be consumed in small portions as not to overdose. Horse Feathers appears to have the equation down to a science, allowing songs that focus heavily on the vocals to develop instrumentally throughout the song only to end in a large crescendo or blend into the next track with an more upbeat tempo all together. Horse Feathers recordings and live sets are identically beautiful and flawless and if you haven’t seen them on tour check out the dates via Kill Rock Stars.
When I arrived at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion around 8:30pm on Saturday I was relatively shocked that there wasn’t a line of concert goers waiting to have their id’s checked and bags searched. However, upon entering the venue it became quite obvious why. An all ages show in Columbus, is seriously ALL AGES! Whomever dropped these kids off got them the fuck out of the house as early as possible! I knew based on my curmudgeon “I’m judging you” attitude toward the obviously drunk middle schooler puking in the open bathroom stall half submerged in toilet overflow that I may be slightly out of my element, so I immediately made my way to the bar.
The GREAT thing about an all ages show? Kids pay substantially inflated prices for beer AND no lines! Ok, so I didn’t scalp drinks like tickets on Saturday, but I had enough to drown the ageist social awkwardness just in time for Youngblood Hawke’s set.
What to say about Youngblood Hawke? Well, they have a hit.
Personally, I’m not loving the auto-tune or the childlike harmonies/chrorus and I’m a bit perplexed with the exotic locale and sky high ($$$) production value of that video. Obviously someone has a bit of cash to throw around which garnered my interest further so I did me some good ole fashioned research… Wikipedia!
Holy shit, two of these guys were in Iglu and Hartly, who I now remember from the Stride party at SXSW in 2010. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, simply have a listen.
The transition from hipster-hop/rap-rock to electro-pop doesn’t require much if you can write a catchy song. It probably doesn’t hurt that someone is connected enough to get the first project on Mercury Records and then the second on Universal Republic. Luck? Talent? Other? Despite being far from a pioneer of any specific genre, the gentlemen and lady in Youngblood Hawke have a catchy single on their hands. It may not be a game changer the likes of Pumped Up Kicks or Sleepyhead, but I highly doubt this will be their last time visiting Columbus… well, maybe as an opener.
Passion Pit took the stage almost immediately after Youngblood Hawke, opening their set with a pitch perfect rendition of Take a Walk. Opening the set with the single off the newest album was exceptionally significant for someone who has been listening to Passion Pit from the Frenchkiss Records days. To me it shows that they aren’t going to burn through all the old material at the beginning of the show while people aren’t quite at full attention, just to berate you with the new material when fans really start getting involved. Even more impressive, Passion Pit ended their set with his first official single Sleepyhead (my personal introduction to the band).
Whether or not these occurrences are of a strategic nature matters little to the actual fan. Creating a comfortable atmosphere (promptly taking stage, not complaining about sound) and playing what your fans want to hear (not what you think they should want to hear) has obviously cultivated and expanded Passion Pit’s fanbase. When you honestly think about it, the best part about being a fan of a band was the discovery process, promptly followed by sharing with your friends. And regardless of how BIG a band becomes, if they take a lesson from Passion Pit, the fanbase will simply grow with them and turn into something rarely achieved… a career making music.
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