Wire at the Beachland Ballroom

DJ Party Sweat spinning before Wire at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson
DJ Party Sweat spinning before Wire at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

From the moment we entered the nostalgic flyer-covered walls of the Beachland Ballroom, it truly felt like stepping into an underground club from the 80s. The groove of DJ Party Sweat’s pulsating vinyl beats set the soundtrack before the ambient pop-noise stylings of Julian Lynch. His solo performance captured the early audience’s attention, with a whispered voice, multi-color guitar, and two briefcases stacked with effects and processors.

Wire (Graham Lewis, Robert Grey, Colin Newman) live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.
Wire (Graham Lewis, Robert Grey, Colin Newman) live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

With their fourteenth studio album and a career that spans over thirty years, Wire has earned a no-nonsense reputation, especially when it comes to their stage performance. That level of respect for their craft is equally reflected by the devotion of the fans who filled the ballroom floor.

Colin Newman of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.
Colin Newman of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

The front of the stage was a guitar and gear lover’s dream: from the massive Eastwood hollow-bodied twelve-string and streamlined Airline guitars in Colin Newman’s arsenal, to the artful pickguard on Graham Lewis’ souped-up bass, and the sea of unique effects pedals arranged in front of each member’s station. Wire’s embrace of technology has been their hallmark, and their growing cache of technological prowess continues to surprise their audiences.

Graham Lewis of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.
Graham Lewis of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

Wire started their set with a pair of uptempo selections from their new self-titled album, Blogging and Joust and Jostle. Both tunes display the quick beats, angular chords, and short length that has become their signature style. The low-tone hook-laden punk sounds just as fresh as their classic album catalog.

Matthew Simms of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.
Matthew Simms of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

Their set continued with more new material peppered with choice picks from recent albums like Stealth of a Stork and early work like Blessed State. The sonic showcases during Sleep-Walking and their final song Harpooned were fantastic to behold. Guitarist Matthew Simms’ technical musicianship and dexterity was on full display, with incredible feedback, synthesized solos, and brilliant electronic textures on his lefty Fender and lap slide guitars.

Matthew Simms of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.
Matthew Simms of Wire live at the Beachland Ballroom. Photo by Mara Robinson.

After a brief departure, they returned for a final encore kicked off with Adore Your Island from Change Becomes Us and closed out the night with more fan favorites, including a rare song from Pink Flag. Wire is known for not doing fan requests, but hopefully they’ll oblige to their great group of devotees and return to Cleveland on their next tour.

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Live Review: Tame Impala at the House of Blues

Australians Tame Impala brought their technicolor dream show to the delight of the sold out audience at House of Blues on June 4. Giant projectors and lights painted the crowd in bright swatches of colors, while barefooted and serene lead singer Kevin Parker kicked off the show with the latest single off Currents, “Let It Happen”.  The cool and collected attitude of the band on stage did not extend into show goers who danced and thrashed about to the music as Tame Impala kicked through many songs off of 2012’s Lonerism including “Endors Toi”, “Mind Mischief” and favorite “Elephant” which extended into a jam session with synth-heavy beats (brought to you by Jay Watson and Dominic Simper) that resonated out into the venue and shook the very core of the audience.

The encore kicked off with a dynamic drum solo by Julian Barbagallo. However, Tame Impala saved one of the oldies, but goodies for last as Parker slyly smiled and hummed into the mic, “You ready?” before sliding into the highly anticipated “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”. The show ended with Lonerism‘s “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control”.

 

Supporting Tame Impala was power-pop Kuroma, led by Hank Sullivant, formerly of The Whigs. The band played a 45 minute set including “20+Centuries” and “Simon’s in the Jungle”. Even with the absence of guitarist Simon O’Connor, the remaining three members  were able to pack in a great amount of energy and sound that transcended opener expectations, leaving the at-capacity crowd cheering for an encore.

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Slow Wave by It Hugs Back

When you love a band, you’re blissfully happy when every new album is as good if not better than the last. In that regard, Slow Wave by London quartet It Hugs Back signals a band that keeps getting better while holding onto what makes them great.

It Hugs Back
It Hugs Back

Slow Wave boasts alluring half-spoken baritone lead vocals and hypnotic guitars courtesy of songwriter Matthew Simms, also known for his work in Wire since 2010. Graceful keyboards and lush vocal harmonies, echos and responses are provided by Jack Theedom. Paul Michael delivers gentle basslines and drummer Will Blackaby rounds out the relaxed rhythm section. All combine to create layered, dreamy songs you can fall in love with. Or to.

It Hugs Back
It Hugs Back

It Hugs Back albums are recorded in Simms’ studio The Record Room, and sound just as good as any studio recording. In their early days, having formed in 2006, It Hugs Back was on Too Pure and 4AD record labels, but their last few albums have been released on their Safe & Sound imprint.

Slow Wave was first recorded live by the full band, then Matthew and Jack added 12-string guitars, mellotron strings, analog synthesizers and vocal overdubs. The songs were then sent through an old copi-cat tape delay.

It Hugs Back
It Hugs Back

Whereas past IHB albums like 2013’s Recommended Record featured up-tempo songs you can get a speeding ticket to — with plenty of noise-pop and psychedelic moments and heavy effects — Slow Wave is the prettiest release, more along the lines of Remember off their Inside Your Guitar release. It still sounds like the same band, just more hushed and halcyon.

Slow Wave comes out June 15. Pre-order today on iTunes and get an immediate download of Everything’s OK:

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Live Review: Matt and Kim at the House of Blues

Cleveland had been waiting oh-so-patiently for Brooklyn power-duo Matt and Kim after canceling their last appearance in support of Passion Pit in 2013. The couple more than made up for this by providing Cleveland the means to dance and sweat through  a 21-song set in support of their latest album, New Glow. “I’m giving you 200 percent because you motherfuckers deserve it!” whooped Kim Schifino after she explained in graphic detail the reasoning behind the last show’s cancellation (it involved a toilet.. and some Pepto…we’ll spare you the details).

And give it 200 percent, they did. Blasting through songs like “Cameras”, “Hoodie On” and “Get It”, Matt and Kim blew the roof off of the House of Blues with confetti cannons and balloons galore with a parachute dance party to throw in the mix. Having previously been injured from stage antics earlier in the week, Matt Johnson did not let that stop him from skillfully balancing himself on one foot and dipping forward into his keyboards while Kim twerked all the way across the stage.

The show closed out with crowd pleasers “Let’s Go” and “Daylight” before the one song encore of “It’s Alright” in which Kim crowd surfed and booty danced into the middle of the audience.

San Francisco-based Waters warmed up the audience with flowers and sunny tunes including “What’s Real” and “Stupid Games”. The 5-piece band also attempted a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”, but redeemed themselves with original song material “I Feel Everything”.

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Sneak Peek: Nelsonville Music Festival 2015

photo by Mara Robinson (The Flaming Lips at Nelsonville Music Festival 2011)

This Thursday morning, Jason and I will be getting into the packed Prius and heading out to Robbin’s Crossing for Nelsonville Music Festival 2015 (May 28-31). Jason will be tweeting, posting, Instagramming and writing, and I’ll be shooting FreezeFrame from the pit. Here’s a sneak peek of who we’ll be covering.

Thursday:

Dead Hand of Man (Athens, OH)

Howard (Brooklyn, NY)

Ezra Furman (Chicago, IL)

Friday:

The Summoners (Athens, OH)

Clarke and the Himselfs (Boise, ID)

Weird Science (Athens, OH)

Good English (Dayton, OH)

Mavis Staples (Chicago, IL)

Built to Spill (Boise, ID)

The Flaming Lips (Oklahoma City, OK)

Wooden Indian Burial Ground (Portland, OR)

Saturday:

The D-Rays (Athens, OH)

Sarah Neufeld (of Arcade Fire — Montreal, Canada)

Soddy Daisy (Chicago, IL)

Bummers (Columbus, OH)

Bassholes (Asheville, NC)

Budos Band (Staten Island, NY)

Natural Child (Nashville, TN)

The Black Lips (Atlanta, GA)

Oblivians (Memphis, TN)

St. Vincent (Manhattan, NY)

Moon Hooch (Brooklyn, NY)

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