Category Archives: live music

Kevin Devine Celebrates 10 Years of Music

Kevin Devine at Webster Hall

Kevin Devine at Webster Hall

Ten years of music, six albums, tireless touring, and thousands of devoted fans–all celebrated in one beautiful, sublime evening.  I could probably write a novella in this post, but I’ll not to be too verbose (no promises).  Saturday night, December 1, 2012, was Kevin Devine’s 10th anniversary show, offically titled Write Your Story Now: Celebrating 10 Years of Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band(s).  A celebration of the tenth birthday of his first solo album and the advent of his solo career, Kevin Devine performed three of his six full-length albums: his first album, 2002’s Circle Gets the Square; his most recent album, 2011’s Between the Concrete and the Clouds; and his 2005 release, the recently reissued, Split the Country, Split the Street.  Over 1,000 tickets were sold to the event which was held at Webster Hall in New York City

The show was announced a few months before, and I immediately knew I had to go.  This wasn’t any show.  This was a once in a lifetime event.  It wasn’t something that was going to happen again.  My friend bought us tickets as a birthday gift to me, the show falling pretty close to my 23rd birthday.  We took a car, and a ferry, a cab, and walked a whole lot.  We shelled out money we didn’t have, but it was worth every penny and then some. Continue reading

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The Revival Tour 2012 in Philadelphia

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Going to the Revival Tour a couple of weeks ago was the best last-minute concert decision I’ve ever made.  I knew about the tour and wanted to go, but I didn’t have the money.  I forgot about it until a few days before when the special guests for the Philly date started to be announced.  A few days before the show, Brian Fallon of the Gaslight Anthem announced that he would be doing a guest spot exclusively at the Philly date.  I was sold.  I bought tickets immediately and was blown away by the night.

When I write in detail about concerts, it’s because I really found them to be special (corny, but true) experiences.  Not every show is.  This however, was one of the most moving shows I’ve ever been too.  Started by Hot Water Music‘s Chuck Ragan in 2008, the Revival Tour takes punk musicians and puts them together for a tour of collaborative acoustic performances.  Many of the artists involved have roots in folk music; Ragan himself has released a few solo folk records.  What you get at the Revival Tour is a bunch of friends making music together.  There’s far more love and integrity and camaraderie between musicians and fans alike than most shows.  It’s a very intimate setting.  At this particular show headliners: Chuck Ragan, Tommy Gabel of Against Me!, Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio, and Corey Branan were joined by several special guests: Brian Fallon, Dave Hause of the Loved Ones, and Tim Barry (formerly of Avail).  To allow time for all the special performances, the headliners played shorten sets.  This didn’t bother me at all.  The show started and ended with everyone on stage playing together songs from each headliner.  In between, the musicians took turns playing their songs solo while the others came and went, adding vocals here or a part there.  Jon Gaunt and Joe Ginsberg joined the tour to play violin and double bass, respectively.

It was an amazing night of music from start to finish.  There was a certain kind of respect and fellowship in crowd that’s rare.

Here’s a video I took of Tom Gabel playing the Against Me! song “Tonight We Give it 35%”


Band of Skulls at the Union Transfer

Band of Skulls at the Union Transfer

Band of Skulls at the Union Transfer

Sorry for the lack of posts, folks!  I hadn’t been to any shows lately, but that’s recently changed.  Last week I finally got to check out the Union Transfer and see Band of Skulls.  I saw Band of Skulls a few years back at the North Star Bar just when they started to make their break.  Needless to say, the Union Transfer is a big step up from that tiny bar.  Band of Skulls put on a fun show to an enthusiastic crowd.  The Union Transfer exceeded all expectations.  It’s truly a beautiful venue, and it has definitely become my favorite larger venue in Philly.  Here’s a video I took of Band of Skulls performing “Fires” from their first album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey.


Thrice’s Farewell Tour

Thrice recently announced the dates for their farewell tour this spring.  Animals as Leaders and another very special guest will be opening.  If you’ve never seen Thrice, or even if you’ve seen them 10 times, I highly recommend trying to make it to one of these dates.  They’ll be in Philly on May 25 at the Electric Factory, and I’ll be there.  You can buy tickets for that date and all the others right now and save on fees.  If the show you want to go to is sold out already or you don’t have the cash right now, you can wait till the general sale which starts on March 1.  I’m sure these events will sell out very quickly, and they are definitely not to be missed.  You  can read Thrice’s announcement of the tour for more details here, and you can even vote for songs you’d like to hear them play.


In Photos: O’Brother at the North Star Bar

On Sunday, I got to see O’brother for the fifth time, this time at the North Star Bar.  But this time was different; this time they were headlining.  It was awesome (maybe not so awesome to my eardrums) to see such a talented band kill it for a full set.  They sounded phenomenal as usual, and they put on a hell of a show.  For the first time ever in my life, I actually headbanged…I couldn’t help it.  You just have to completely lose it and rock out when you hear the epic “Lay Down.”  The opening band Junius were also really good and are featured in the gallery below.

 

All photos were taken by me unless otherwise noted.


Concert Review: Brand New at the House of Blues, Atlantic City

Let me briefly discuss my love affair with Brand New before I get down to talking about the show I went to on November 26.  I started listening to Brand New when I was in 8th grade.  Their album Deja Entendu blew my little 14-year-old mind.  I anxiously awaited its follow-up, an effort that took three years to complete.  It wasn’t until this time, in the fall of 2006 that I first got to experience Brand New live.  It was an acoustic in-store performance at the now defunct Mars Red Records in Haddonfield, NJ.  It was amazing, and they lived up to all my expectations.  Then, their album, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me dropped shortly after and completely changed everything about my relationship to music.  I talked about that album briefly before, and I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but that album is still one of my favorite records of all time.  It’s very special to me, and it’s perfect in my eyes.  The years haven’t changed that like they have my opinions about other albums.  Deja Entendu lost some of its magic for me, but I don’t think the Devil and God ever will.  It was on one of the Devil and God tours in the spring of 2007 that I first saw Brand New at a proper gig, and it set the bar unbelievably high.  That tour featured Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra as support, and it was just perfect.  I honestly can say it was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.  It might even be the best.  In the four times I’ve seen Brand New since then, I’ve never had as amazing an experience.  They’re always good, and I always love their shows, but that show was the peak for me.  Nothing has been quite as good, and I don’t know that anything else will ever reach that level of brilliance, of perfection, of love.  Brand New released another album in 2009 which I also deeply love, Daisy.  It’s visceral and raw and heavy, but so beautiful in it’s anger and anguish.  They haven’t released any new music since then, but the few strings of shows they’ve played this year seem promising.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get something new in 2012.

Now, let’s get to the show I went to last week.  The House of Blues show was announced over the summer, and I immediately got tickets (it was a small miracle, since the pre-sale sold out in about ten seconds).  No support was announced for the show until very recently.  If you read this blog regularly, I think you know I like this band, O’Brother, from Atlanta, Georgia.  I think they’re fantastic, and I’ve written quite a lot about them these last few months.  They announced they would be opening for Brand New on this Atlantic City date.  My jaw literally dropped when I read that tweet.  I mean literally.  I couldn’t believe that the little band that I’d essentially watched grow up would be opening for Brand New.  A week or so before the show, mewithoutYou announced that they would also be opening. Continue reading


This Venue is Not Wheelchair Accessible: a video interview with Deb Stevenson

Deb & her boyfriend, Ian, with Andrew Jackson Jihad

I think it’s pretty obvious by now that I love going to concerts.  I spend a good amount of my small college student income on tickets, but I’m still constantly frustrated by the amount of shows I just can’t afford to go to.  I think I’m incredibly dedicated to music, probably more so than almost everyone I know.  Enter Deb Stevenson, my longtime friend and concert-going partner.  She goes to far more shows than I can even imagine, partially because of her involvement in the local music scene.  About a month ago, Deb got into a nasty car accident that left her with serious fractures in her left hand and foot that required surgery.  She was left totally wheelchair bound for a few weeks, only able to hop on one leg to move around at all and unable to use crutches for assistance due to the hand injury.  I think it’s safe to say that most people would resign themselves to taking a break from concerts–I certainly would, but not Deb.  Even in the days following her surgery, Deb was still determined to not let being temporarily wheelchair bound effect her love for live music.  The inconvenience of the wheelchair was definitely not going to stop her from seeing one of her favorite bands, Andrew Jackson Jihad, when they came to Philly a few weeks ago.  In the following video, Deb talks about why she goes to shows, how being in a wheelchair changes the experience, and her experience at the Andrew Jackson Jihad show.  Also featured in the video is Deb’s chihuahua mix, Lupe, who frequently attends local shows with her and her boyfriend and some footage of Andrew Jackson Jihad at the show we went to.

Disclaimer: this is my first ever foray into video editing of any kind, and I experienced quite a few technological disasters during the making of it.

This Venue is Not Wheelchair Accessible from Kate Gaschnig on Vimeo.


Q&A with Philadelphia singer-songwriter Christian Bitto

Christian Bitto, photo courtesy of his Christian Bitto Music.

I did a brief question and answer with an up-and-coming singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, Christian Bitto.  He’s played at various small venues in the Philly area opening for a variety of bands.  Christian is currently working on an album, and you can listen to one of the first songs at the end of the post.

Question: How long have you been making music and performing in Philly?

Answer:  I’ve been playing guitar for over 10 years now.  I was in a few bands where we never really did anything, and I gave it up for a while.  I rededicated myself a few years back.  I started writing my own songs a little over two years ago and have been performing for a little less than that.

Q:  Any favorite places to play in Philly?

A:  The apex for me was definitely the North Star Bar.  I’ve played there twice now solo and can’t wait to perform there with the full band.  That’s where all of my formative musical memories happened with my best friends, so to go there and be on the stage was such a surreal thing.  Not to mention they’re so professional and easy to deal with, something that’s not always the case.

Q:  What bands and songwriters influence your music?

A:  I grew up in that post-punk screamo scene with bands like Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, The Early November, so I guess it started there.  That was the first music I ever really liked and my first bands were all in that vein.  But as for my own stuff now, Kevin Devine is a huge influence along with Conor Oberst [Bright Eyes], and Glen Hansard [The Swell Season].  I respond to lyrics almost more so than the music, so I love good songwriters.  Oh and I forgot to mention Elliott Smith, what a huge influence his songs have had on me.  I sing softly so Elliott Smith was the first person I listed to that didn’t scream or belt out tunes.  When I heard him whisper his way through songs and they were just as powerful it made me have faith that I could sing as well.

Q:  So you’re recording an album now, right?

A:  I am recording an album.  We’re finished two songs.  It’ll probably end up being a 5 or 6 song EP [to be release] sometime early in the new year.  It’ll have both [full band and acoustic songs], I had a demo out last year that was mainly just acoustic songs but this is definitely more indie rock-ish.  I’m recording with my friend Jesse Gimbel at his studio, and he’s playing the drums.  I’m pretty much playing anything else on it.  I’m really looking forward to getting it done and getting out there with a band and performing.  I enjoy the intimacy of sitting there on stage with just an acoustic guitar and telling a story, but it’ll be nice to change it up.

Q:  The last show I went to last Friday, the opening band was just a guy with an acoustic guitar (Into It. Over It).  He was really good, but I feel like it’s really hard to get people’s attention that way.  I definitely give credit to anyone who can get up in front of people and keep playing despite the audience being uninterested and disrespectful at times…

A:  I agree.  I put a big emphasis on writing good lyrics, and for a while I was almost opposed to putting together a fuller band sound for fear it might take away from that…but I realized the stories are going to be there, and if people can enjoy the music without even noticing that, then that’s ok too.

Q:  How have your experiences been playing in Philly?  Good, bad, both?

A:  I’ve had both.  Like I said it’s great playing at the North Star, and there are other places that were great too. The Fire was my first show so they have a place in my heart too…but I have dealt with some people who clearly did not care or pay attention to what it takes to put on a good show.  I played one show where the door guy didn’t show up, the promoter didn’t answer his phone and no one knew the set times.  It was a mess…but even with that, you’re still playing music in front of people, so it’s not that bad.

Q:  Do you go to a lot of shows in Philly? Any favorite venues to see shows at besides the North Star?

A:  I used to go to a ton when I was younger.  I stopped for a while but have started up again recently.  There’s a ton of good venues, and I tend to prefer the smaller ones, which I think is why I love the North Star.  It’s sort of the smallest place where you get really good nationally touring acts.  I just saw Bright Eyes at the Mann Center and that place is just beautiful, such a different atmosphere than a rock club.  Both types of places definitely have their merit though.

Q:  Are there any local bands that you’ve played with that you really like?

A:  Well I mentioned my friend Jesse Gimbel earlier.  He has his own stuff, and we’ve played a few shows together and have become really good friends.  I’ve met quite a few nice folks along the way, but Jesse and I definitely share a similar musical taste which makes it super easy to work together.  It’s weird because I’ve played with everything from punk acts to country acts to poppy singers.  It’s been rare to actually play with people in my general genre of interest.  I guess they usually just want a guy with a guitar to open the show.


Breaking news: Jeff Mangum announces more solo dates

For years, Jeff Mangum, the former singer of Neutral Milk Hotel, has stayed out of the spotlight. While the incredibly influential lo-fi indie bands albums continue to sell–in fact the bands 1998 release, the critically acclaimed In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was in the best selling albums on vinyl in 2008–Mangum has avoided the music scene, with the exception of playing unannounced solo shows every now at then. In the past year though, he seems to have come out of retirement to play a few strings of formally announced shows. What makes this particular announcement significant is that Mangum will be playing in Philadelphia. The show, put together by r5 Productions, will be held on January 25, 2012 at University of Pennsylvania’s Irvine Auditorium.  Tickets go on sale this Friday 11/11/11 at 12 pm, and will surely sell out quickly.

Here’s a video from one of his solo shows earlier in the year that I found on YouTube:


Frank Turner proves that rock and roll really can save us all

Last night, I saw Frank Tuner play his largest headlining show in the United States so far, a sold out show at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia.  Earlier in the day the punk and folk influenced British artist performed at the World Cafe for XPN‘s weekly Free at Noon segment.  I’ll admit that I’m relatively new to Frank Turner.  I’d heard good things about him, but I just never really got around to listening to his music until his latest album, England Keep My Bones, was released earlier this year.  I was completely hooked on Frank by the time I got to track three.  The album is simply addicting, a rollicking mixture of folk, punk, and good old-fashioned rock and roll, all clearly marked by Frank Turner’s distinct voice.  When I listen to England Keep My Bones, I start to experience this strange feeling of English pride.  I honestly have to remind myself that I’m in America, and that I have no English heritage whatsoever (although that album makes me sincerely wish I could claim some).  When an album can have that effect on you, you just know it’s got to be good.  From the rock and roll anthem “I Still Believe” to the fantastic a capella song about the Norman Conquest of England, “English Curse,” England Keep My Bones is an incredible and diverse album. Continue reading