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By turns, J. Darnielle is a showman, a mad scientist, a lover, a toxic vessel, and a heavy metal rock star. By the time his opening act (Jeffrey Lewis & the Jitters, earnestly political but a snooze) had finished, the club was packed with the faithful, crammed up against the stage in hopes of getting a high-five (some did). I didn’t see anyone famous (not that I would know) but the crowd was much more mixed than the usual indie girls in their striped stockings. I even saw one older lady with a gorgeous purse get escorted into the crowd by a security guy who stood next to her as she jammed out to “Lovecraft In Brooklyn.”

Darnielle bounced on stage with his crew and had everyone from the get-go, dapper in a suit, soft and loud by turns and with more body tics than I’ve seen since I used to watch Michael Stipe on VH1. Every so often he would just throw back his head and grin this enormous grin like he was Dr Frankenstein and the lightning was about to hit the ceiling. He brought to life most of the songs from “Heretic Pride,” even the ones I didn’t like so much on record (ie., “San Bernardino”).

I had to admire him; even though this was the second night in a row at the Troubadour, and even though he seemed, in 19th century parlance, to be pretty much on the go, he gave a very good performance. He was charming; his patter was excellent and made everyone laugh; and he broke out two singalongs, “No Children” and “This Year,” seeming as happy to hear the crowd holler at him as though he hadn’t heard it all a thousand times before.

They gave two encores, finishing out with a hilarious uber-goth cover of Kommunity FK’s “Something Inside Me Has Died”. As for old stuff, there was still enough in there to satisfy everyone — except the drunk guy who hung onto the rail as everyone was filing out, yelling “One More Song! One More Song!” What a jerk, I wanted to say. Seriously, I paid $18 for that show, and I feel like I got more than my money’s worth. I should send Darnielle a check with a note: A+ for effort. Will attend your show again.

The Mountain Goats, 03.05.08
The Troubadour, Los Angeles

01. Michael Myers Resplendent
02. Heretic Pride
03. Wild Sage
04. Autoclave
05. Sinaloan Milk Snake Song
06. Marduk T-Shirt Men’s Room Incident
07. So Desperate
08. I’ve Got the Sex
09. Love Cuts the Strings
10. Love Love Love
11. In the Craters On the Moon
12. Sept 15, 1983
13. San Bernardino
14. You Or Your Memory
15. Lovecraft In Brooklyn

01 No Children (singalong)
02 Going to Port Washington

01 This Year (singalong)
02 Something Inside Me Has Died (Kommunity FK cover)
03 The Window Song


The Decemberists @ the Wiltern, 10/21/06

Some guy wrote a song once … something about being meant for the stage … one of the lines says, “And as I take my final bow / was there ever any doubt?” Well, that guy rocked the stage at the Wiltern last night, and proved to a huge crowd that he is, in fact, meant for the stage. (Not that he needed to prove it, but it was fun to know.)

The line for the show was long enough to go down a block of Wilshire, around the corner, and down about three more blocks on Oxford, but somehow everyone fit into the Wiltern with room to spare. It’s a beautiful old theater, with seats on the balcony and sloped tiered standing space on the lower level. The interior is all art-decoed up, and the tiers were sloped enough that if you stood on the second tier (like me) you got a great view of the whole show without having to stand on tiptoe. The band had sort of a minimalist theme going, and the set was only a big Japanese-inspired print behind them and then the lights onstage hidden in big red Chinese lanterns. It was really pretty.

I’ll say a word about Lavender Diamond before I go on. I am not familiar with them — the lead singer was very cute in her 40s torch-singer ensemble, but I could not hear her very well over the crowd. On her last song she finally gave it everything, and the song was as oddly charming as she was; but then she left the stage and I was left with no idea what 95% of the set was about. I could blame the folks behind me (who were very annoying), but there are always annoying people behind you at a concert. It was more like she didn’t use the venue’s space very well — her voice started out thin and soft, and even her instrumentalists were almost inaudible. She probably would have been really great in a small club. Listening to her stuff in my headphones as I write this, it sounds really appealing.

So, after L.D. left the stage and we listened to almost the entire recording of “Peter and the Wolf” (that’s Prokefiev we’re talking about), we finally got what everyone was stomping the floor for. The band had (sort of) old-timey clothes on; Chris Funk sported a bowler hat and the ladies dressed in vintagey dresses. Colin was dressed in jeans and an off-white suit jacket; I believe he even had a red tie on. They played a setlist which I cannot reproduce, because I wasn’t there to write stuff down (oddly enough). I can say offhand that they played (not in this order):

The Crane Wife (1&2)
The Island
O, Valencia!
Shankill Butchers (which they played under a red stage light)
The Perfect Crime (2)
The Crane Wife (3)
Los Angeles, I’m Yours (crowd favorite, of course)
Legionnaire’s Lament
We Both Go Down Together
Song for Myla Goldberg
and ended with Sons & Daughters.

The encore was a shout-out to me, of course (heh); they did The Culling Of the Fold and 16 Military Wives.

This was my first full-on Decemberists show. I saw Colin when he toured solo awhile back, and I really liked it, but the whole band together was something to see. They were having a good time together. It made me (briefly) want to learn to play the accordion and organ and violin so that I could be part of an enterprise that seemed so joyful and powerful.

And that wasn’t even the best part, because in my opinion, they also wanted us to have fun. I’ve been to some awful concerts, and I’ve been to ones where the band seems to be happy, but I haven’t ever been to one that seemed so invested in our happiness. Colin said that he thought it was great that we were all singing along, but we shouldn’t do it without warming up; so the whole theater sang scales to the tune of, “This is a wonderful show ….”

And it was. He even divided up the audience into three parts so we could sing a round to the end of “16 Military Wives,” while he marched along and saluted. And he even got ahold of someone from the front row’s cellphone, dialed it up, and sang the last quarter of “Culling” to some very surprised person on the other end of the line. It was a fine experience. They played like their hearts were in it, not like it was just the cold exchange of money for musical services. Sure, it was cheesy in a way, but boy, it was joyful. I was glad to be there. I’d like to send them a thank-you card. Maybe I will.

The Decemberists – Tour


What’s Live

Before I go on, I wanted to share a track I happened upon — “The Culling of the Fold,” which is a Decemberists album track in some places (like Tower Records) and not others (like iTunes). Since it is NOT listed on the album at Amazon, I don’t know if it was a presale track or some kind of exclusive track or what, but some of you may not have it. It’s creepy and gross, á la “Murder Ballads,” so give it a try even if you’re meh on the Decemberists — everyone likes a good murder song, right?

EZarchive is having a freakout, of course, so here it is on Yousendit — The Decemberists – The Culling of the Fold [eta: reposted here]. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

And now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

After hearing about the Bishop Allen tour, I knew I had to update my What’s Live. October and November are awesome months, but I’m old and I can’t go to concerts on a night when I have to get up at Bloody Early Hour to take my kid to kindergarten. So Bishop Allen is out, and so is Ray Lamontagne, and Rocky, and … this is depressing me. Kindergarten, you have cramped my style!!

Alex’s Bar

10.20 – The Ettes

The Avalon

10.26 – Cursive & the Thermals
11.02 – Regina Spektor

Club Spaceland

10.05 – Man Man
10.11 – Cold War Kids
10.17 – Bettie Serveert

The Echo

10.05 – Jose Gonzalez
10.06 – Darker My Love
10.14 – Ghostland Observatory
11.03 – Mudhoney (at Safari Sam’s)
11.09 – Xiu Xiu
11.13 – Wolf Eyes
11.18 – Hot Chip
01.13 – Girl Talk

El Rey

10.24 – The Be Good Tanyas
11.24 – Mates of State

Gibson Ampitheatre

11.29 – Barenaked Ladies

The Glass House

10.21 – Be Your Own Pet
10.28 – Cursive & the Thermals
10.29 – Ladytron
11.24 – Margot & the Nuclear So & Sos
12.02 – And You Will Know Us By the Trail Of Dead

The Greek Theater

10.22 – She Wants Revenge w/ Placebo

Hollywood Bowl

10.05, 06, & 08 – Roger Waters performing “The Dark Side Of the Moon”
11.04 – The Who

The Hotel Cafe

10.07 – Kite Flying Society
10.14 – Rocky Votolato
10.15 – Ben Jelen
10.19 – Damien Jurado
11.16 – Rachel Yamagata
11.17 – Tom McRae

Key Club

10.21 – Detroit Cobras

Knitting Factory

10.17 – Rock Kills Kid (21+)

The Music Box

10.14 & 15 – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Architecture In Helsinki
10.18 – Hot Chip, Born Ruffians
10.23 – Yo La Tengo
11.07 – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
11.30 & Dec. 1 – And You Will Know Us By the Trail Of Dead

The Orpheum

10.10 – Dresden Dolls
11.09 – Ray Lamontagne
11.25 – Cat Power & the Memphis Rhythm Band

The Roxy

11.17 – Straylight Run & Matt Pond PA


10.13 – Lucero, Rocky Votolato
10.16 – The Hold Steady
10.18 & 19 – Badly Drawn Boy
10.20 – Two Gallants
10.21 – Beirut, A Hawk & A Hacksaw
10.25 – Cursive, the Thermals
10.26 – Alexisonfire, Moneen
11.01 – Voxtrot
11.06 – Starlight Mints, Bishop Allen
11.10 – The Wrens, Asobi Seksu
11.21 & 22 – Lemonheads
11.25 – Margot & the Nuclear So & Sos
12.07 – Amy Millan

The Viper Room

10.09 – Lyra, Dirty Little Secret, The Oohlas, the Thieves

The Wiltern

10.09 – Sufjan Stevens w/My Brightest Diamond
10.21 – The Decemberists
11.30 – Imogen Heap

What’s Live

I saw on the Decemberists website that they were touring, and I got all excited because it says they’re going to the Wiltern on Oct. 21st. So I go over to the Wiltern site — nothing shows there. I go to the Decemberists ticket buying thing — it says I can’t buy a ticket for that show. I go to Ticketmaster — nothing. I even grind my way through traffic into Torrance to Tower Records, and she looks at me like I’m nuts. “Do you know anything about the Decemberists show?” she asks the dude next to her, and he looks at me like I’m nuts. I SAW IT ON THE WEBSITE, OK?

If I don’t get a ticket to the Decemberists show, wherever and whenever it might be, I’ll cry. I swear I’ll just throw myself down on my bed and sob like I did when Nick and Jessica broke up.

Other shows coming up in the Los Angeles (Hollywood/West Hollywood, let’s not kid ourselves) area:

The Avalon

Dog Days of Summer tour (the Format, Rainer Maria, Anathallo, Street to Nowhere) Aug 31
Popaganda tour (Head Automatica, Rock Kills Kid) Sept 9
Golden Smog Sept 13
The Black Keys & Beaten Awake Sept 14
Band of Horses Oct 2

Hollywood Bowl

Carmina Burana Sept 14 (BEST OPERA EVER)
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers / The Strokes Sept 26

The Echo

A Silver Mt Zion Aug 22
Oh No! Oh My! Aug 24
Vashti Bunyan Sept. 9
Silversun Pickups Sept 30
Darker My Love Oct. 6
Grizzly Bear Oct 8
Xiu Xiu Nov 9

The Glass House

TV on the Radio Sept 26
The Gossip Sept 29
Be Your Own Pet Oct 21
Ladytron Oct 29

Fonda Theater

Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks Sept 4
Nouvelle Vague Sept 8
The Polyphonic Spree Sept 10
Silver Jews Sept 12
New Ams Sept 13
We Are Scientists Sept 30
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Oct 14-15
Yo La Tengo Oct 23

Hotel Cafe

St Vincent Aug 15


Final Fantasy Aug 12
The Little Ones – every Monday in August
Comets On Fire Aug 15


DeVotchka Aug 18
French Kicks Aug 21
The Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players Sept 3
The Black Keys & Beaten Awake Sept 13
Lily Allen Oct 14
The Hold Steady Oct 16
Two Gallants Oct 20
Beirut Oct 21
Voxtrot Nov 1

The Viper Room

Pete Yorn Aug 30

The Wiltern

Wolf Parade Aug 25

Vienna Teng at Club Suede, Park City, Utah

On August 2nd, my brother-in-law A. and I were privileged to see Vienna Teng perform in Park City. She opened for Duncan Sheik (who we did not stay to see, as the drive was very long), noting that it was only her second time in Utah. She looked very lovely, very thin; she was wearing a pretty tank top and strappy sandals, and her hair was tinted orange over the black. I’m a girl, I notice these things. I took some photos but I’m not including them — for some reason my camera hates taking photos in the dark with the flash off. I think it believes that it’s in my best interests to turn on the flash. (This is the best photo I could google that looks like her — she doesn’t look like any photos on google. Odd.)

She played mostly things from her newest album, “Dreaming Through the Noise.” I haven’t heard anything on that album — the only familiar song she played was “Harbor” — and yet, she was enthralling. I never looked at my watch, or fidgeted, or wondered if maybe we should go sit down in the back, because her whole set was interesting enough to keep the whole club watching and applauding (except the loud, drunk people in the next room who were having a birthday party).

The songs themselves were definitely keepers. They were as varied as could be: the sarcastic nasty thrill of “Whatever You Want” (a song about her boss); the eastern-inspired “Blue Caravan”; the contrast between “Now Three” (for all the folks out there with little kids, she said) and “Recessional” (for all the bitter singles). Vienna’s fingers just flew over the keyboard; she barely even looked at them.

Of course the most fun song was the last; her two fabulous accompanists (cello and violin) did a sort of interpretive dance to “City Hall,” while we all clapped along like we weren’t living in a state that passed an anti-gay-rights bill. Sigh.

Vienna still has half a tour left, and I heartily encourage you to see her. She puts on a great show, and the music speaks for itself. And maybe one of you can get a better picture than I did.

Vienna Teng: Site | Myspace | Label (Rounder)

[These tracks have been removed. You can contact me if you’d like a copy.]
Vienna Teng – Harbor
Vienna Teng – Hope On Fire


What’s Live

Concerts coming to LA in the next little while:

Hollywood Bowl

The Flaming Lips (with Thievery Corporation and Os Mutantes) July 23

Ryan Adams (well, really, it’s Willie Nelson with Ryan Adams and Neko Case) Sept. 10

Cox Arena

Pearl Jam tomorrow, but I assume if you don’t have a ticket for that, it’s too late. Heh.

The Greek Theater

Death Cab and Mates of State August 13/14. I’m on the anti-Death Cab bandwagon, but someone out there might want to know.

The Henry Fonda Theater

Nouvelle Vague, Sept 8th.

The New Amsterdams, Sept 13th! I’ll definitely go depending on who the openers are. I loathed the openers for the last concert — their amateur playing deafened me. (Wintergreen, I’m talking to you.) I’m too old to have to listen to punk kids who can’t play guitar.

The Wiltern Theater

Ray Lamontagne, Sept. 28/29th. Supposedly. Even though he’s not listed at the Wiltern website. Grrr.

Sufjan Stevens Oct. 9.

The Troubador

Vienna Teng !! Opening for Duncan Sheik July 25th. I have half a mind to go up there just for her. I’d be home and in bed by eleven. (I am, apparently, Grandpa Simpson.)

Silversun Pickups Aug. 17th

Deerhoof Sept 6th.

The Gossip Sept 28th.

The Avalon

The Format, Aug 31. Those guys are a blast in person, so I recommend seeing them.