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
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%”
There are tons of shows between now and the start of May that aren’t listed here, but mayvery well be your cup of tea. Check out another Philly music blog, The Swollen Fox, for a complete listing of shows in the Philadelphia area.
I apologize for the infrequent updates, but you’ll be hearing more from me soon.
Check out another Philly music blog, The Swollen Fox, for a comprehensive list of shows in the city, and don’t forget r5 Productions. Just because it’s not on here, doesn’t mean it’s not an awesome show. A few of the shows are already sold out, as I noted. It’s always possible to find tickets to sold out shows without spending an exorbitant amount as long as you’re willing to take your chances and wait until the day of the show. There’s almost always a few people who end up selling extra tickets for face value. All these bands are worth your time and attention. From the Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto show, which should prove to be fun at the very least, to the mysterious brooding of Brand New’s performance (what can we expect from them this time? new material? a set list of fan favorites? hints of a follow-up to 2009’s Daisy?) at the same venue, these shows are all worth looking into.
Going to a show and falling in love with the opening band, and I mean the very first opening band, is a pretty rare thing. I can only recall it happening to me once, when I saw O‘Brother open for Manchester Orchestra in April 2010. I had heard of O’Brother and had listened to their The Death of Day EP, but seeing a band live can often make or break your opinion of them. Despite being a relatively new band with little touring experience, O’Brother thoroughly impressed me. I understood why Manchester Orchestra signed O’Brother to their record label, Favorite Gentlemen, and why they took them on the road. A year later, I saw O’Brother open for Manchester Orchestra again. The year of relentless touring that had passed had certainly made its mark. You simply couldn’t dismiss O’Brother this time, you couldn’t ignore them as they filled the venue with an enormous wall of sound. After that performance I realized that the Atlanta, Georgia experimental rock band had evolved into something far greater than just an opening band with a 20 minute set. Their first full-length album is slated for a November 2011 release on Triple Crown Records, and it’s shaping up to be one of my favorite releases of the year. O’Brother are currently on the road opening for Thrice along with Moving Mountains and La Dispute. You can catch them at the Electric Factory in Philly this Thursday, October 13, and at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Friday, October 14. Be sure to get there early though–O’Brother and Moving Mountains are alternating for who plays first each night.
O'Brother. Photo by: Christy Parry Photography
I got the amazing opportunity to talk to Michael Martens, O’Brother’s drummer about the band and their new album.
Question: Your debut full length album, Garden Window, will be released on Triple Crown Records next month. The song you’ve released from it, “Machines Part I” has a truly epic sound. Does the rest of the album have the same huge feel to it?
Answer: The album is pretty diverse. There are a lot of huge moments, but there are also a lot of really quiet, intimate moments (and then everything in between). We wanted to get louder and softer on this record, if this makes sense.
Q: Tell me about the new album. It seems like, although O’Brother still has a relatively small fan base, there is a considerable amount of hype concerning the record. You’ve got to work with some amazing people on it. I got really excited when I found out that Mike Sapone was going to be mixing it because Brand New’s “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me” is one of my favorite records of all time and he worked on that, and I’m just a big fan of his work in general.
A: Working with Sapone was great. He really was one of the only people we could think of that would be perfect to mix this record. The tracking process was great. Robert McDowell [of Manchester Orchestra and Gobotron] did the majority of the record and I worked on things like overdubs, auxiliary percussion, and extra ear candy. Also, I was able to track the entire last song, “Last Breath.” It was a huge learning process for all of us.
Michael Martens, drummer of O'Brother. Credit: O'Brother's Facebook
Q: I’ve seen you perform twice with Manchester Orchestra in April of 2010 and again in May 2011, and I noticed a big difference between those two performances. Partially, I’m sure, because you had a lot more experience and gained more confidence by the time you came around this year, but I also felt like you guys have found your sound. Would you agree with that?
A: Completely. You have no choice but to learn a ton when you tour as much as we have been. We try to take everything that our peers have to say to heart. There are a lot of people that help us learn from their past mistakes, coupled with us learning from the mistakes that we make on our own. The past few years have been exciting for us and we are all in a better place because of them.
Q: At least in terms of where you’re playing in Philadelphia (The Electric Factory vs. the TLA or Trocadero), the tour you’re on now with Thrice is the biggest you’ve done yet. How does it feel to be playing at these large venues?
A: Sometimes it’s overwhelming. However, we have learned to find some level of comfort on these stages. It was a learning process at first but it’s sick to look out from a stage the size of the ones we have been playing and see so many people hopefully enjoying their evening.
Q: What are some of your favorite bands to tour with?
Q: Do you have any favorite releases of 2011 so far?
A: Touche Amore‘s Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me, Thrice’s Major/Minor, La Dispute’s Wildlife, and TV On The Radio‘s Nine Types of Light.
Q: I was wondering if dream catchers have any particular meaning to you guys. You make them and sell them, and they’re also present on some of your other merch. Is there a deeper meaning behind the association with them?
A: Really it started off as a joke. Anton and Johnny [members of the band] are Vietnamese and they kept on getting mistaken for Native American. One day Aaron [another band member] bought Anton a dream catcher from a gas station and it just sort of evolved in to what it is for us today. We usually tell people we put them on our amps to filter out the bad notes.
Listen to “Providence” by O’Brother from The Death of Day here:
These are all bands that I can attest to being well worth your time and interest. If I mentioned the opening bands, it’s because they are also very good and worth checking out. There are tons of other great shows this month hosted by r5 Productions that I haven’t listed here.
I recently saw the Rosebuds open for Bon Iver at the Tower Theatre. They were absolutely awesome live and won me over right away, which is pretty hard to do when you’re there to see a band as intriguing and amazing as Bon Iver. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Thrice six or seven times, and can honestly say that they are one of the few bands that may actually be better live. O’brother, Thrice’s opener, is one of the best heavy bands out there you haven’t heard of yet. I’ve also seen Kevin Devine several times and will be attending the North Star Bar show. Kevin Devine is an incredibly talented songwriter, and I believe he’s one of the most underrated artists around right now. The other bands and artists I mentioned I haven’t seen live, but recommend nonetheless.
So, do you have any recommendations to add? If you do, leave a comment.