5 May 2009 - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, ZaZa, Deleted Scenes, and Secret Mountains @ Talking Head, Baltimore -- Most of the time, I was too close to the stage to hear the vocals. What I heard was mostly instruments, as I stood next to some speakers on Stage Right. I could feel their concussive force as they (the drivers) moved the air with the rhythms. The vocals were coming out of another speaker or speakers (probably set overhead and projecting into the audience). Moreover, I wore earplugs, and that cut off a lot of the high frequencies. -- This is a long-winded explanation of why, most of the time, the music didn't do much for me. Maybe I would've gotten more out of the show next door (a venue called, Sonar), which featured Nightwish (a Finnish band that plays progressive Euro metal).
1) Secret Mountains (Baltimore)... 4 of the 5 members visible... I arrived at the end of their set... They sounded like a beginner band.
2) Deleted Scenes (DC/Brooklyn)... the lead singer had this distracting mannerism of twitching one of his legs in time with the beat (as if it was made of rubber)... drummer showed some skills... band seemed tight (coordinated), but I couldn't tell much about the songs (as explained above)
3) ZaZa (Brooklyn)... shared drummer with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, although they also used drum samples... a smeared, moody sound with a propulsive beat
4) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (NYC)... the keyboardist seems to be Asian or part-Asian... The band lineup lists 4 names, but tonight they seemed to have an extra guitarist.
5) PoBPaH drummer
Pictures of the merch table
8 May - Jenny Lin, Baltimore... this was a piano recital entitled, "The 11th Finger: a program of piano etudes". It was such an interesting concert, in that she introduced each piece verbally. She set up scores on the stand for almost all of them (understandable since she performed over 20 pieces by 10 composers -- who could perform that much music from memory at one sitting?).
One of the pieces I liked the most was by Mexican composer, Gabriela Ortiz. Lin was crunching bass chords in "polyrhythmic counterpoint" (Ortiz's own words). The syncopated beat was so monstrous that one could well imagine an mc bustin' rhymes over it. (Maybe Lin could add rapping to her repertoire. It would be even better if she rapped in Mexican slang. Short of that, since she lives in New York, she could settle for Nuyorican rhymes penned by a certain "wise Latina woman.")
stylized, watercolor effect applied to first photo...
pics 2 and 3 show Lin talking with composer Stuart Saunders Smith and Sylvia Smith (both affiliated with UMBC)
pic 4 is a sharper version of the first, but not identical
pic 5 is somebody's sketchbook containing a drawing of Lin's performance, which she's autographed and dated
23 May - The Bangles, State Theatre, Falls Church, VA -- great show... despite a few flubs and some technical difficulty (with the lead guitarist's vocal audio), the audience ate it up... and why not?: some monster hits from 20+ years ago, a well-honed rock/pop sound with songs full of hooks, bridges, and sumptuous vocal harmonies.
From where I was standing (in the rear of the "pit" or standing area in front of the stage, the folks around me were not real familiar with the Bangles repertoire. Didn't see them singing along except to the biggest hits (e.g., "Walk Like an Egyptian", "Eternal Flame", and "Manic Monday"). Some in the audience recognized a few other songs, but it could be that the die-hard fans were up at the stage's edge or elsewhere. (The venue is a converted movie theater built in 1936, so it has a balcony. Ground level occupancy is table seating and stage-front standing.)
I'd, inadvertently, prepped for the show by monitoring the Bangle's YouTube presence the past year or so. The great thing about YouTube is the posting of old performances, so one can compare the past with present.
In no particular order, some things that struck me... the lead guitarist's vocals had more presence than I expected. Is this a benefit of aging?... Speaking of age, I saw many Baby Boomers and Gen X'rs. I would guess this was the majority of the crowd... The encore, a souped-up version of "Pushin' Too Hard" by the Seeds (according to Wikipedia, a '66 hit for this L.A. band) had a scintillating solo by the keyboardist. The song didn't seem familiar to those around me, and I wondered if the song hadn't gotten much local airplay back in the day. (It'd be interesting to compare how Top 40 hits varied by region or city. (And for that matter how do musical tastes vary geographically, today?))
Since pictures weren't allowed inside, the only one of the event I've got is outdoors. This first shot is the approach to the theater. (and the marquee announcing the night's star act!)
The 2nd pic is the jacket of the Mexican pressing of their 1986 release, Different Light. If you enlarge it, you'll notice in the lower right-hand corner, the phrase, "Hecho en Mexico" (Made in Mexico).
Much of the jacket text is translated into Spanish, including the song titles. In the 3rd photo, you can see the songs listed on the record label (side 1)... in both Spanish and English.
30 May - Blackbird Pond, Herndon Festival, Herndon, VA -- a band from Virginia Beach, comprised of Jim Stoker (gtr.), Luisa-Mari Gonzales (vocals), Sam Nacman (drums), and John Lozano (bass)
pic 2 - the drummer keeps cool with a small fan mounted under the high-hat cymbols
#3 - bass player has an Army sticker on his instrument 'cause he spent 10 years with 'em
#4 - drummer attempting to hover...
#5 - vocalist unleashes "The Claw" (see the hand that isn't holding the mike)
#6 - she knows how to shake those maracas
#7 - everyone strikes their best rock 'n roll pose
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