There have been lots of awesome video releases lately. Today’s pick is from Chicago rockers, Empires. They have a new video for their song “Keep It Steady” which can be found on their most recent album, Garage Hymns. Empires is on the list of bands appearing at SXSW this year. This makes me very very happy as their live shows are killer, but rare on the West Coast.
Leogun stormed into my life Wednesday night when they played an electrifying set at The Satellite. I don’t think this band has been around for too long (they joined facebook in April of 2012), but I’m sure it won’t take too long for their popularity to grow. They are the kind of band that demands notice. For a quick summary, their fb page gives two definitions for the term “Leogun”. The first is “a three-piece band from London, surging with a mix of blues, soul and a whole lotta rock & roll. With “bite your head off” choruses and a hunger to groove, LEOGUN mixes the musicality and heart bleeding emotion of The Racounteurs with all the sexual prowess and break-neck attitude of Queens of The Stone Age.” The second definition is “believed to be a were-lion, LEOGUN was a half man, half lion.” I think that sums up my experience of the band quite nicely.
Their debut self-titled EP comes out next week (10/16). Here are my quick thoughts on each song:
“Let’s Be Friends” – their first single, a great introduction to their rockin’ style with stand-out guitar licks, soaring yet gritty vocals, and brazen attitude all wrapped in a catchy tune.
“End of The World” – sung with abandon, it will seduce you
“You’d Better Love Me”- a blistering rock song that rightly demands the attentions of its listeners
“Everyday” – a slower-building jam that showcases the groovier side of the band but will have your head banging by the end
Here’s the band’s first official video:
Other important info to get you connected to the band:
Joe Firstman has a new record coming out September 6th. The title of the new CD is Swear It Was A Dream and the cover art is picture above. I know quite a few people (myself included) who will be very excited about this. Go here for a sneak peak of one of the new tunes, “Who’s Turnin Your Light Out?”. The first 200 people to ask can get a free download! So. GO!
Joe always seems to be out on the road. He’s got several dates this fall across the country:
Just stumbled across this video on Joe’s website. Funny, his answer to the question “what is your favorite thing about playing music?” is just about the same as my answer to why I like going to so many shows…no wonder I like this guy so much!
Okay, I was skeptical of this concept when it first came out. Why would I want to watch a show online when I could go out and see one live? I still feel that what I love most about the live performance simply cannot come across through a video camera. I also feel that having a show streaming for all to see really takes something away from the people lucky enough to be there. But as I sit here giddy in my office chair watching my fave Chicago rockers, Empires, stream a performance live on www.audiotreemusic.com, I realize that I am slowly becoming a convert to these computer concerts.
Watching Empires rock out in a studio actually marks the third time I’ve sat in front of my computer to hear “live” music just in the past week or so. For the past several Sundays fellow Philly to LA transplant, George Stanford has broadcast live from his home, playing requests, chatting with anyone who comes into the chat room or just…talking. Also last week 2/3rds of TFDI, Matt Duke and Tony Lucca, did some video hobnobbing mixed with a few live tunes (again, mostly requests).
What I like about the current state of live music streaming is that is has evolved beyond a simple transmission of a concert. I’m watching Empires performing in a studio, something that would be nearly impossible in any other circumstance. I find myself excited to hear the band’s answers to questions ranging from the typical (what album has inspired you), the more interesting (describe being out on the road in two words), to the absurd (what color and shape would you be). I would be far less titillated by a previously recorded video, similar in nature. With the live stream, I feel an energy akin to watching a sporting event. I find myself anxious. What song will they play next? How silly will the next question be? How will everyone respond??
The unedited band interaction is also something that has previously been unique to a live concert experience. One of the reasons I love acts like TFDI, almost as much as the music itself, is the interaction between the artists. Seeing Tony and Matt’s playful banter as they respond to questions and play tunes captures an element of a live show that you don’t often get in a recording. The immediate fan to musician contact is also unique and exciting. Even at a live show you’re not going to get a hello from Tony’s adorable daughter, Sparrow, or Matt’s equally adorable, visually challenged cat. The chat service also connects fans from all over as they debate the best tune or live show while their favorite musician sings away.
So where is this all going? While I think that streaming live shows or having live chats with your favorite artists is veeery far away from replacing the actual event, I hope that it doesn’t deter people from going out and actually experiencing the music. I had someone remark recently that they were much happier watching Lady Gaga from the comforts of their home with their XL TV screen and surround sound than they would have been seeing the spectacle from a distance dealing with the crowds and the traffic. All this live streaming of major concert festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza has allowed many people from all over the world to “attend” these events, but I’ve heard from avid concert goers that they now feel they never need to go to a festival again. Remarks like these concern me…
Another thing I’m unsure about is the new trend of having artist charge money for a “private” live show via the computer. Tickets for an online event? Really? Hrrrmm…. While I feel that this venue is great for getting the word out the about who you are and what you do, and I appreciate the artists’ ingenuity in finding a way to use technological advances to make money, I know I’m certainly not at the point where I’d be willing to pay for such an experience. I think asking for donations or whatnot is great, but I hope I never find myself wanting to buy a ticket for an online show. I just see this going down a terrifying path into the depths of the haunted woods; dark shadows, spooky sounds, etc. etc. Maybe when I’m once again living in a music wasteland or in another year when selling tickets for online shows becomes the norm, I’ll change my tune, but for now, call me unnerved.
As long as it’s free and easy, however, I think I’m becoming a fan of these live events. While I would much prefer Empries’ front man, Sean Van Vleet, singing in my face and getting the opportunity to have a brief one-on-one conversation with guitarist/producer, Max Steger, after a show, I’d take this over nothing at all. Especially considering that the band is from Chicago and does not travel out to Los Angeles that often. I’m getting to hear new songs, I know which band member likes The Smashing Pumpkins and which considers himself a diamond…who likes to answer ridiculous questions and really who just wants to be out on the road…I find myself wishing more of my favorite bands, especially those stuck in distant cities, would do things like this (Philly bands do you hear me?).
While I’m still getting to know what sites are best for streaming and which bands put on the most ridiculous shows, here are a couple on my radar. I’m hoping to use this as another new way to both promote and discover great new music! Let me know if you have any suggestions…
http://www.justin.tv/ (where I was once caught singing back up on stage…thinking it was just to the friends I had in the small room…ha)
ALSO where San Diego music guru Lauren Scheff (ScheffXP) often streams. Monday nights with the incredibly entertaining Kevin Martin. (http://www.justin.tv/scheffxp)
Tonight, we’re leaving for Bonnaroo! I’ve done the usual; listen to all the artists, create my schedule, figure out how to pack a tent and a sleeping bag to take on a plane… I don’t know what was more difficult, narrowing down the number of books I want to bring or narrowing down the number of bands to put on my top 5 “must see” acts of Bonnaroo ’11 list. But both tasks needed to be done. There are so many acts that I’m excited to see, but here are my top:
This band captured my attention at Warped Tour and I’ve been craving another helping of this Arkansas-based group ever since. Their uplifting melodies and calming vocals always manage to lift the spirit. Deas Vail is the kind of band that can take you to another, much better place. And that’s what Bonnaroo is all about (for me at least). It’s the physical representation of that mental place I go every time I see my favorite bands perform. And there is absolutely nothing better than seeing one of my favorite bands in this place…and that’s why Deas Vail is the group I’m most looking forward to seeing this year.
One of my favorite things about Bonnaroo (and music festivals in general) is being able to see so many big acts that I would never pay to see individually (I go to way too many shows to pay big bucks for any one artist). There are quite a few big names I’m looking forward to this year, but none more than Eminem. I was never a huge fan of Eminem, but then I saw him perform at another festival (Epicenter). This man has a gift. I’ve been hesitant of big name rappers at Bonnaroo ever since that whole Kanye debacle of ’08, but I know Eminem will be more embracing of the Bonnaroo spirit and put on a show worthy of the event. Now that I’ve had a taste of this live performance, I cannot wait to get more!
I’ve been keeping tabs on the whole Rolling Stone unsigned artist cover competition. Although my faves, Chicago rockers Empire, are sadly no longer in the running, there are still two fantastic acts left. I’ve been going to Lelia Broussard shows for years now and have always enjoyed her songs and charming delivery. The Sheepdogs were introduced to me through this competition, but I pegged them early as one to watch (I have a weakness for southern rock). I’m excited to see them both perform and bring about a conclusion to this competition.
As amazing as their album, Sigh No More, can be, the live Mumford and Sons performance is even better! As these English folk rockers continue to grow in popularity around the world, their performances become increasingly coveted. I don’t know if I could ever beat the front row at The Belly Up, but Mumford and Sons + Bonnaroo is an ideal combination and I am really looking forward to seeing them again.
What would be the point of a big music festival, if I didn’t walk away discovering a great new band. I mean Bonnaroo is the event in where I first heard one of my LA faves, Carney. Listening to all the acts unbeknownst to me, I heard a lot of promise in Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons. Will they live up to my expectations? Will another unknown act steal my heart? I guess we’ll all have to wait and see.
Where to see them:
Thursday 7:15 at The Solar Stage
Friday 9:20 at The On Tap Lounge
This year’s SXSW experience was a little different than in years past (ie I actually got to GO instead of my usual just listening to all of the artists). Still, I wanted to maintain the spirit of my annual SXSW Mix being a list of artists that are mostly new to me that I somehow discovered or was inspired to write about due to my SXSW experience. I am so excited about every one of these artists/groups. I can’t wait for them to come through LA and play!
Here’s part 2 of my mix (part 1 can be found here):
I fell in love with this band before SXSW. They will surely be featured in a “Band Love” post in the near future, but I couldn’t leave them off this list. This band blows me away every time I see them. Singer Emily looks so unassuming, but by the end of the set you find yourself headbanging to “Weatherman” and realize that she (and the rest of the band) have put you under some sort of spell
This Oklahoma based band caught my attention when I was listening to the list of SXSW artists. Apparently they caught the attention of Kid Rock as well as they played his showcase in Austin. Check out their album, Long Slow Drag and be sure to see them when they roll through a town near you!
Bandcamp did a really cool thing this year for SXSW. They made a mix of all of the artists registered to their site that were going to SXSW. It listened to this mix in the background for days. Makeshift Prodigy was one of the artists that made me stop and pay attention. I immediately fell in love with this song, “Alive”, that you can download for FREE on their website. Just one more Chicago band to add to my growing list of reasons to go back to the windy city.
The Gallery had been brought to my attention in the Rolling Stone cover artist competition and I promptly added them to my SXSW schedule. I was so happy to be able to catch the band’s set at Rusty Spurs. They did not disappoint!
I’ve been listening to Chicago’s Empires all afternoon. I thought that perhaps seeing them at SXSW would make me crave them less…but the exact opposite has occurred. I hope everyone in Chicago knows how lucky they are to have this band! Their next local date is May 21st at The Beat Kitchen. Don’t miss it!
If you haven’t heard of Empires, just go to their webpage where you can get a link to a free download of their song “Damn Things Over”. While there, check out all their videos…like this one for their first single “Bang.”
Empires is one of the bands that made it to round 2 of Rolling Stone’s choose the cover competition. Go here to vote for Empires and download two additional tracks (for free!!), including my new favorite song “Hard Times.”