Live forgetters Download

forgetters were supposed to record a 7″ in October, but for those of you who can’t wait for it to come out, I found this recording on the Twitter of forgetters at Lit Lounge on 9/19/09 might be able to tide you over. It’s 7 songs in a tight 23 minutes, and it sounds pretty good (better than the Thorns of Life Gilman St bootleg). Unfortunately, I don’t know the music well enough to provide a track listing, and and more unfortunately, this is all 1 MP3 track.
Although there’s some song overlap, I like forgetters better than Thorns of Life, so there.

forgetters, Lit Lounge, 9/19/09

(I’d like to give credit to they that recorded this. If it’s you, let me know.)

Live forgetters Download

Lucero at The Middle East, Cambridge, MA 10/18/09

I heard someone in the crowd telling a friend, “The last time I saw Lucero was on a boat.” They had a slide guitarist that night, but I was thinking that if you hadn’t seen or heard Lucero in 18 months, seeing them Sunday night would have been something of a shock. Lucero officially added keyboardist Rick Steff and slide guitarist Todd Beene to the band, cementing the lineup of the last couple shows I’ve seen. And at least on this tour in support of their new album 1372 Overton Park, they’re playing with a three piece horn section. Adding 5 (FIVE!) additional people to a 4 piece band will obviously change things.

1372 Overton Park features horns on every track except the last, so it was pretty clear Lucero would bring a horn section on the road for at least this tour, but I wondered how they’d work the horns in with the older material. If I remember correctly, the solution was a set list that looked like this: a couple of new ones with horns, a couple of old ones with horns, a couple of new ones with horns, a couple of old ones with horns, horns take a break while band plays a couple of old ones, Ben with slide and keyboards, horns come back for a couple of new ones, a couple of old ones with horns, a new one with horns, thank you, good night. Mixing the horns in and out, was something that may have been better suited to 2 distinct sets, but I’m not sure how that would have flowed.They didn’t play “What are you Willing to Lose” (which they skipped the night before in New York), unfortunately, but they did hit most of the new album, along with a rousing version of “The Blue and The Gray” “The War”, “Mom”, “Chain Link Fence”, “I Can Get Us Out of Here”, “All Sewn Up”, and “Last Pale Light” from Ben’s solo album.

Overall, it was a solid set, lacking some of the drunken sloppiness that had characterized shows from a couple years ago (though we got some of that towards the end, too). The last couple shows have been more sober than the first couple I saw, and while previously, that relative sobriety brought something of a stiffness to the sets, the band seems to be growing into it more.

I also sensed something of a self-consciousness to the band’s set choices… Lucero likes playing and cares about their fans, to be sure, but a two hour set is long for a band with punk rock roots. I wondered if that was acknowledgment of the $20 ticket price. A price, by the way, which probably kept the Middle East from selling out, but just barely, as the room was mostly full. (Incidentally, Lucero played for OVER 2 hours this spring at the Paradise, and tickets were $15 then, so who knows.) Mixing the horns in and out, was something that may have been better suited to 2 distinct sets, but I’m not sure how that would have flowed. There was definitely a desire to play the new songs, but also a willingness to take requests from the crowd for old songs, even if horn arrangements weren’t prepared for those songs. Maybe by the end of the tour it will be horns all night, but I couldn’t tell if that was the plan.

A note about the sound. I had planned to watch the show from the raised bar area at stage right, but the sound was so bad up there I retreated to the floor in the middle of the first song where the sound was fine (after a song or 2). I think it might have been an issue with the stage volume being too loud for the sound guy to mix appropriately, but the sound on the floor straightened out eventually, while the sound on the raised bar area never did.

I’m interested to see Lucero next time around. Have they kept the horns and added arrangements to all of the old songs, reworked the new songs to accommodate missing horn lines, or have they done what they did Sunday and mixed it all together? This last option would surprise me. Frankly, Lucero has a relatively standard base sound and song structure; 2 guitars, bass, drums, no crazy solos, versechorusbridgerepeat, etc. And yet, as a band, they’ve continued to grow, as songwriters and as performers, while continuing to write songs that resonate with their fans. Because of this, it’s unlikely they’ll come back through town without changing something up, which is about all you want from a band.

Lucero at The Middle East, Cambridge, MA 10/18/09

forgetters at Great Scott, Allston, MA – 10/4/09

Forgetters at great scott When I interviewed Blake Schwarzenbach a couple weeks ago about his new band, forgetters (small f, no the), Schwarzenbach had mentioned that when Thorns of Life started last year, they weren’t interested in trading on anyone’s past to get a head start. That’s apparently still the case as forgetters took the stage at Great Scott on Sunday night for around 125 or so people, the last of 3 bands on a $6 bill. I imagine if they felt differently about playing up the past, the show could have been at a bigger venue, promoted differently, and more widely attended. At the very least, the ticket price at Great Scott could have been doubled. Still, 125 fans for a band’s 5th show is a strong showing, and I expect it will be a harder ticket it the next time they’re in town.

On stage, everyone looked to be having a good time, and Blake is back to eyes shut, neck strained screaming. I never saw Jawbreaker, but I didn’t see this the 2 times I saw Jets. The band seemed more polished than I’d expect for a 5th show, though there was a flub or two (‘Fuck You, Dad’ stopped after a few beats, reintroduced as ‘I’m Sorry, Dad, and started again). Although I don’t think I’ve heard any of the songs, a lot of them sounded familiar. There was the syncopated drumming of Kevin Mahon that punctuated a lot of the early Against Me! catalog. Aside from the drums, the songs sound like a mix between pre-Dear You Jawbreaker punk with bits of Jets to Brazil pop sprinkled in, which, you know, is nice. I don’t know how to explain it, but the songs sounded like they wanted to be recorded, which bodes well for the 7″ recording in October. Most importantly, the songs are good enough to stand on their own. They’re good enough to allow forgetters to build a following of it’s own, without trading on anyone’s past. I could probably get away with saying that everyone at Great Scott on Sunday was there because of Jawbreaker, but if forgetters lasts for 5 years (or more) as Schwarzenbach expressed hope that they would in our interview, that won’t always be the case. I’m looking forward to seeing them again after hearing their record.

forgetters at Great Scott, Allston, MA – 10/4/09

Davy Rothbart & Found Magazine at Precinct 5/10/2009 – Somerville, MA

Found Magazine events are a perfect illustration of our culture’s short attention span and collective varied interests. Equal parts art show, poetry reading, concert, and stand up comedy routine, The Denim and Diamonds Tour has something for everyone. On the road promoting the release of his new book, Davy Rothbart, and his brother Peter, gamely overcame a less than ideal performance space at Precinct to entertain a packed house of around 150 people.

For the uninitiated, Found Magazine, is a zine started by Davy and some friends several years ago to document interesting items found ‘blowing down the street’. Over the years, Found has put out 6 issues and a couple books, to boot. Found is a collective art project in the vein of PostSecret, and relies on submissions from people all over the world. The latest book, Requiem for a Paper Bag: Celebrities and Civilians Tell Stories of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Found Items from Around the World is a collection of stories of things found by actors, authors, musicians, etc, and came out last week. While most book tours feature afternoon signing/reading events in big city bookstores, each of the Found books has been promoted with a tour schedule closer to that of a band. The Denim and Diamonds tour is going to hit 57 cities in 62 days. Take that, Grisham.

I had been curious how the night would start, and then it just did with Davy introducing himself and reading a series of found items relating to love and relationships. This intro in honor of a close friend in attendance who had just gotten engaged. Found love notes are a good medium for the sincere Rothbart, whose heart is worn clearly on his sleeve (even if he tries to hide it by wearing a sleeveless throwback George Gervin basketball jersey). Favorite lines from this part include, “I don’t want any other girl to remember my number. Not even Iesha” and “PS I want to build a life together.”

After a stack of Davy’s “favorite notes” (a common refrain used to describe each stack), he introduced his brother, Peter, to play a couple songs inspired by found items. The last, a cover version of a found demo tape called ‘The Booty Don’t Stop’, had the crowd signing along by the first chorus. Peter’s bare-bone singing style fits the feeling of the show and compliments well Davy’s earnest effusiveness. I would have liked to see more than the 3 songs he played.

Davy then came back to read a story from his book by filmmaker Jim Carrol about an unlucky soldier who, after spending 20 years in the most uncomfortable and disgusting conditions imaginable, was freed from his bondage by an afternoon colonic. More found items followed this, along with an uncensored reading of a story, an edited version of which had appeared on This American Life. Favorites from this section were, “Help us bring the darkness” and, “It’s not kinky, it’s gross.”

For the most part, my experience with Found has been seeing the items online or looking at the books or magazines, so I enjoyed hearing them read, and almost acted, by Davy. It’s fascinating how words on a found note can grab you, even without any contextual details. Hearing them read out loud heightens that experience. The sappy missives of lovesick teenagers are moving, the mundane to-do lists of strangers are hilarious.

I did an interview with Davy in advance of the show where he explained his approach:

“…When you read these notes, you find yourself tearing up or laughing out loud. I think ultimately when I’m reading them during and an event it’s the same kind of thing. I try to be really present with that item, that note, and the person that wrote it.”

This presence with the notes and compassion for the writers touches the audience and makes Davy an engaging performer. You could have left last night without making a connection to one of the found items, but if you did, you’re probably missing a soul.

Precinct’s small elbow shaped show room was made smaller by a dozen patrons who had dragged bar stools into the front of the stage (and 3 who were oddly sitting on the stage) taking up twice as much room as someone standing, but the crowd remained rapt for the entire hour and fifteen minute performance and left happy. A Found Event would be better enjoyed in a theater setting, but it’s not clear Davy and Peter want to leave the dank club rooms behind.

Davy Rothbart & Found Magazine at Precinct 5/10/2009 – Somerville, MA

Lucero, The Paradise – Boston, MA 4/16/09 Review

After only seeing Lucero in divier venues (The Middle East, The Living Room, and a dingy boat riding around the Boston Harbor), I was interested to see what they did in a classier venue, like the Paradise. While the sold-out crowd was into it from the get go – singing along and finger pointing – the band started out a little stiff. Whether it was playing some new songs or the newer arrangements to older standards or the apparent complete sobriety, something wasn’t clicking on stage for the first couple songs. The situation turned around quickly, though, and after the audience carried the band out of gate, they were treated to the Lucero performance they were expecting. [I don’t know if there’s ever been a more vanilla opening paragraph, blech. Writing about things dispassionately sucks!]

The band was joined on stage by a slide guitarist and keyboardist (and at one point towards the end, some random bald guy from the audience singing a Replacements cover) adding extra heft to the songs and all told, Lucero played for two and a half hours, which is NUTS. It got sloppy towards the end of the night, which is hard to avoid when 2 of the members are drinking straight from bottles of Jameson, but this was still the most polished performance I’ve seen – Ben only forgetting the words to one song and mixing around the verse order of another – and really, what did you expect?

Lucero, The Paradise – Boston, MA 4/16/09 Review