Local Natives – “Save me, from the prime of my life”: the Greek Theater in Berkeley (July 28, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi
(more pics and videos below)

Stoked to have FINALLY caught Local Natives on local land after last seeing them in Edinburgh (Electric Circus), Wales (Green Man Festival), and London (Brixton Academy) back in 2013. That year spoiled me silly, and the memories I have from those shows almost (almost) make up for the 3 ½ year hiatus. Seeing them in that tiny 250, venue in Edinburgh had me on cloud nine for WEEKS, and the fact that I bumped into Taylor (lead vocals/guitar), Ryan (guitar/vocals), and Nik (bass, keys, vocals) that same night for a “wee chat” was also pretty freaking amazing. Then they were announced to play Green Man, a super casual festival where it’s not too uncommon to spot bands hanging out in the crowd watching other bands (and yes, I was indeed lucky enough to find myself dancing next to them during one of the sets). A few months later was their London show at Brixton Academy, and although it was not nearly as intimate as the Edinburgh one, I was happy to have met Kelcey after the show with my best friend Amanda (who was visiting from Philly). Pics below.

Fast forward to last Friday (7/28) at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, and I am grinning ear-to-ear as I wait to bask myself in the beauty of their Sunlit Youth (2016 album). I nearly DIED when they opened with ‘Past Lives,’ a song that slayed me from the start with it’s opening line, “Save me from the prime of my life” (which I am considering as a text tattoo). I love the capricious cadence to this song and the piercing percussion after the chorus of “Then you wake up.” YAAAAAS.  😀

Taylor had us smiling wide when he dedicated the next song (‘Villiany’) to his 1 ½ year old niece Emma, it being her first ever show – he said this one was her favorite! He even posted a clip of her shaking her booty to it in the crowd on Instagram the day after.

Kelcey then asks the audience if anyone is from SF state, and then laughs as he admits wanting to go to Berkeley but only getting into SF state. He then introduced their next song, ‘Airplanes,’ as one he wrote after leaving SF state and heading back to Los Angeles. He followed up with a special version of the hauntingly beautiful, somber tune, ‘Columbia’ (“Am I loving enough?”), that he said the SF Bay Area has never heard before. Tears def welled up in my eyes.

They then surprised us with a new song called ‘I Saw You Close Your Eyes,’ which is KILLER and one I connected with right away. Their new song, ‘The New Heirs’ is also pretty siiiiick too. Next came ‘Jellyfish’, ‘Heavy Feet’, ‘Dark Days’ (with Ryan filling in for the female vocal part and turning heads with his perfect pitch) and ‘Who Knows, Who Cares,’ a song that references “going down to Colorado” — pretty eerie considering that the band recently visited the Colorado river in Arizona to advocate water conservation in Episode 103 of the nature series, Earthworks. This was a project they felt very strongly about, considering that the Colorado river is the main sources of water for California, a state near in dear to their heart and one that is in the 6th year of the worst, most epic drought in modern history (compounded further by climate change and population increases). Aside from showing activism on the water conservation and green energy front, Local Natives have made it a point to show activism on the political front. In fact, Taylor was involved in a panel called the “Politicon” at the Pasadena Convention (July 28/29). That night, Taylor reminds us (during his intro to ‘Fountain of Youth’) that the power is in the hands of the future generation:

“This next song has the idea that it’s the new generation every single time that gets to decide where the world is going to go. It’s the new generation that can see it for what it is an i think pushes it where we want it to be and for us, we just wanted to say, especially being here where, that idea idea was birthed a lot for America, that we have a choice to choose unity and to choose love and respect and respect for everybody. And we would just like to push that forward, no matter what you can do, your influence on the world, we would just like to push for that. “

“We can do whatever we want… We can say whatever we mean…

And if we don’t change, Then who’ll change?

We’ve been dreaming of you, Drinking from fountains of youth.”

(Hell YES. Power to the people)

Cheers to a band that uses the stage to motivate change for the greater good. I have so much respect and adoration for these local natives Cali pride). Stay humble, stay hungry. Stay thirsty for that “Fountain of Youth.” Taylor, quenched by this fountain of youth, dives into the crowd for a bit of surf and then lies on his back, projecting peace and love to all like a prophet.

In true Local Natives fashion, they end the night leaving us in good hands – ‘Sun Hands.’ The energy and aura of this epic encore never fails to disappoint.

All Local Natives fans must check out Kelcey’s new solo project called Jaws of Love. His debut album, Tasha Sits Close To The Piano, named by his wife after their dog Tasha, is coming in the fall, and earlier this month. The lead single, ‘Jaws Of Love,’ is simply stunning — Kelcey’s falsetto vocals elevating over deep, brooding piano ballads. “The whole project is me trying to embrace my nuances and indulge in it,” Ayer explains. “It was such an awesome release making these songs, and that let me embrace who I feel like I am. It was wonderful to not have to explain myself to anyone. I have dark piano music in my heart and soul, and Jaws Of Love. is me at my truest self.” We certainly approve. ❤

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=fRukQSwDKP0

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*Check out more videos on my YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/eandreoz

Instagram: beatsthatsetmypulse
Twitter: @beatsthatsetmy

Jake Morley: “Headstrong…Always used to be so headstrong…Now all I seem to do is falter…”

Jake Morley– The Lexington (May 24, 2014)

I go to A LOT of gigs (everyone knows that), but last night was one of the first times I ever came across a singer/songwriter (Jake Morely) with such breadth- a true amalgamation of various styles. Every song of Jake Morley‘s set had it’s own unique flavor, from funk to folk to gospel. Funny enough, he elaborates on why this is: “I set out to write varied songs because I’m a varied person. Also – I’m only just getting started, so I wanted my first album to act as an introduction. The songs on Many Fish To Fry are just like me – in parts heavy, light, elated, confused, serious, funny, random and whatever else. In isolation they might just be fragments, but put the fragments together and they hopefully form a coherent whole. That’s the idea anyway. After we’re best buds I can always make other albums that look at certain areas in more depth.”  I especially like when he laid his guitar flat across his lap, combining fingertaps with percussive slaps. The only artists I’d ever known to do that were Andy McKeeBen Howard, and Daniel Champagne, and I remember being utterly amazed. Jake’s set our to record some more new songs this summer, and from the ones he played last night, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. One of my favorites was a song called Falter (aka ‘Headstrong’), where he unveils yet another bag of tricks: “Flicking your fingers across all the strings one after the other to make a harp-like sound.” https://vine.co/v/M9TWzVb5EzM  I remember thinking this was THE COOLEST THING because I’m a huge fan of the harp, and a it’s rare to find many harpists these days. I can’t wait to hear the full song and the FULL ALBUM. xxx

PICTURES:

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Mogwai: “Music is so powerful that it’s quite beyond my control…and when I’m in the grips of it I don’t feel pleasure and I don’t feel pain.”

Mogwai– KOKO, London

(July 29, 2014)

I had always heard that Mogwai was an incredibly SOLID BAND and one of Scotland’s FINEST, but for some reason, I let them slip under my radar (which is pretty surprising considering my hearty appetite for Scottish bands: Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, Admiral Fallow, Three Blind Wolves, Washington Irving, We Were Promised Jetpacks, RM Hubbert, Fatherson, Bwani Junction, CHVRCHES). I remember I was going to see Mogwai at Sasquatch music festival back in May 2012, but they cancelled last minute due to visa/travel issues. Looking back, I can’t even IMAGINE hearing/watching their ethereal music emanate over the Gorge’s siiiiiiiiick celestial skyline. MY GOD. Seeing them and Explosions in the Sky on one weekend might have shattered my brain to bits, and maybe it was for the best…NOT. If it wasn’t for The Twilight Sad (one of my favorite Scottish bands) announcing a benefit concert with them to honor the loss of Julia Brightly, I might not have traveled down MogWAY (thankfully I did). The benefit was the idea of Stuart Braithwaite from Mogwai and Daveid Phillips from KOKO, and the message they posted on their ticket page was:

“On Saturday 3rd May, ​we were devastated to learn of the passing of our beautiful friend Julia Brightly who lost her struggle to sudden illness (cancer). To say all of us were in shock is a huge understatement.  Anyone who knew her from the days of the Mute Drivers to any artists she did sound for, from Mogwai, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Caribou to Slint and her friends & family will all agree, she was one of the bravest and most talented people we were lucky enough to call a friend. We all miss her dearly, and although sadly departed she will never be forgotten. In her honour we are staging a benefit to donate all the proceeds to one of Julia’s favourite charities, Gendered Intelligence – something very close to Julia’s heart…All proceeds from the concert will be donated to GenderedIntelligence.co.uk.” SUCH an amazing idea and generous offer by both bands, and I’m so glad I was able to be a part of it.

After a brilliant set by The Twilight Sad (they keep getting better and better every time I see them), I anxiously anticipated this “post-rock instrumental band” that I had been hearing alot about. I recall meeting a guy at The Twilight Sad’s Bandstand Busking event (June 21) telling me that Mogwai was his FAVORTE BAND OF ALL TIME and that he’s seen them 11 TIMES NOW (including traveling to Primavera Sound Music festival every year they’ve played). Well, let me tell you…I can TOTALLY see WHY he’s seen them that insane amount of times, and whey he’s harnessed an addiction for their hypnotic concoction of music. I am STILL LEVITATING from Tuesday night’s performance at KOKO, and my EYES HURT (literally, I’ve had sore eyes since) from how long I’d kept them WIDE-EYED (buggin out!) during the entire set. I was lucky enough to soak up all the magic from the very front, and might just have collapsed if the railing was not there. Serious adrenaline. Serious numbing. Serious loss of motor control.

It’s hard to describe the beauty of the compositions that Mogwai create– their music steal snippets of magic from genres like shoegazing, math rock, art rock and occasionally instrumental metal. It was once stated in an interview that “the band do not like the categorisation of post-rock” because they believe it “over-analyzes everything.” I definitely agree, and many times I’ve found that the most beautiful things in life are often the hardest (and sometimes impossible) to describe. What I CAN SAY it is seems to me like symphonic music made with rock instruments, similar to Explosions in the Sky, but with alot more distorted guitar (which I LOVE). I was lucky enough to see Explosions in the Sky both at Sasquatch music festival (2012) and at the Palace of Fine Arts theater (sick, I know). More recently, I’ve seen 65daysofstatic and sleepmakeswaves, two other bands who I can draw some parallels to Mogwai.

I was so BLOWN AWAY by how adroit and technically-sound all of Mogwai‘s band members were, and how flawlessly they would exchange instruments like they were PLAYING A GAME OF CATCH.  In the absence of lyrics, it’s obvious they all communicate through their unique instrumental dialogue: raging riffs, piercing percussion, tantalizing trill, disturbing distortion, bellowing base…(You get the picture). Having formed in 1995, Mogwai (…MogWAY…MogWOW) has craft their craft into the music scene for nearly two decades now, and their talented cast includes: Stuart Braithwaite (guitar, vocals), John Cummings (guitar, vocals), Barry Burns (guitar, piano, synthesizer, vocals), Dominic Aitchison (bass guitar), and Martin Bulloch (drums). The spot I chose to stand (front left facing the stage) just happened to be directly across from John Cummings, who is one to stand the farthest out on stage (and I’m not complaining). BUT, the COOLEST THING about this band is that there IS NO FRONTMAN. They ALL alternate in taking “center-stage,” and it’s not like all the focus is can be on the singer (cause they don’t have one!). I love this concept.

The entire set was MIND-BLOWING (did I mention that already?), but the first song to strike a chord in me was White Noise, (see video below) off their 2011 album, ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.’ I loved being right in front of John Cumming’s guitar greatness, especially for this song, where you can’t help but sink into the mellowing monotony of his undulating riff. You then find yourself sinking deeper into this wave at 2 min in, when Stuart layers on an additional guitar riffs that stagger John’s in all the right places. I wish all WHITE NOISE sounded THIS GOOD. But, we must be honest with ourselves…this “noise” is “in fact the brilliant music of a genius.” It’s fusion of complex sound is guaranteed to stimulate a level of curiosity that is beyond our control.

I also recall the 5th SONG being one of my FAVORITES of the night, and I’m a bit upset I didn’t get it on video. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I found out later (from that guy I met who’s seen them 11 times) that this 5th song is called Christmas Steps, and that it’s one they HARDLY EVER play live. Well then…I must have a pretty DAMN GOOD FILTER, cause I put this on the top of my list without ever haven’t listened to their albums (although now that’s definitely changed now). I just remember gentle guitar melody in the beginning suddenly become devoured but a BABBLING BASELINE at about 4 min in, and the clashing contrast was just freaking phenomenal. The plucking of the base strings in that one was like something I’d never seen before. BRUTAL ATTACK. (So good).

Nearly right after Christmas Steps was Autorock, the piano powerhouse off Mogwai’s 2006 album, ‘Mr Beast.’ The piano riff starts out soft (well, For Mogwai’s standards), and slowly builds volume and intensity throughout, keeping us VERY MUCH on our TIPTOES the entire time. Barry Burns banging on those keys was definitely a “MR BEAST” in this one. xx

Then came Remurdered, a popular gem off Mogwai’s newest album, ‘Rave Tapes’ (released October 2013). This album, by the way, entered the UK album charts at #10 and as of April 2014 has been the best selling UK album released in 2014 in terms of vinyl sales. WELL DESERVED. I currently can’t get enough of Remurdered, and it’s def going to be the title track of my next playlist.

Immediately following this one was Helicon 1, one of Mogwai’s best from their debut album, ‘Ten Rapid.’ I knew this one was gonna be SOMETHING SPECIAL when Stuart took a seat. It reminds me so much of an Explosions in the Sky song, but more distorted guitar (as I mentioned before). YAAAAAAAS. Grip me with that kinda distortion any day. A flood of adrenaline at ~4 min in, and everything becomes numb. xxx

With only two more songs left, my brain could NOT EVEN HANDLE all of the stimulation/euphoria I was experiencing. My eyes were bugging out of my head and tearing (thank gosh cause I’m sure they would have dried out), and I was left speechless. SPEECHLESS (and anyone who knows me knows that I ALWAYS have something to say!)…It was so cool to later share my REVELATION with the girls standing and me, including someone I had met previously at a Twilight Sad gig (see our huge smiles below). Then, I later saw that Mogwai music buddy (who had seen Mogwai 11 times) on the tube that night and basically let our ENTIRE TRAIN CART know how I felt about the life-changing gig. (I tried to subdue my squeal and number of “holy shit”‘s…)

Since that gig (see set-list below), I have downloaded all Mogwai albums and been listening non-stop. This new discovery truly came at an ideal time, and with an insane amount of scientific data to soon tie up, their music offers the perfect mindscape. I was all excited to analyze my 100+ brain images yesterday, knowing that I had this MogWOW feast to dig into. Just like they state in their Postpunk song, “Music is so powerful that it’s quite beyond my control…and when I’m in the grips of it I don’t feel pleasure and I don’t feel pain, either physically or emotionally…when you just couldn’t feel anything, and you didn’t want to either.”  YES….I know EXACTLY what you mean. And although you might not be conscious of how Mogwai’s music is making you feel WHILE listening, you later realize that it’s seeped into your subconsious will all sorts of healing powers.

I’m on such a Mogwai kick right now that I’m vacilating between the decision of seeing them (or not) at Richmond Park in Glasgow as part of East End Social’s ‘Last Big Weekend.’ Not only will it be one of their last announced gigs of the year, BUT, it will be IN THEIR HOMETOWN. I can’t EVEN IMAGINE that musical “MogWOW” madness…. (I’m most likely GONNA GO)  🙂

VIDEOS:

Helicon 1:

Autorock:

White Noise:

PICTURES:

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Little Green Cars: “It’s easy to give it to, When there’s more people out there to love…Than people who love you”

Little Green Cars– Sebright Arms, London
(August 22, 2013)

After first being blown away by this Dublin-based indie/folk quintet (Little Green Cars) at The Great Escape back in May (see pics below), I HAD to see them again when they were playing at one of my favorite tiny venue (Sebright Arms) in London. Even though the gig happened to be the night before I needed to head out early on a bus up to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, I still put on the champion face and powered through (not at all packed, exhausted from lab). It ended up being SO WORTH the diehard effort because this year’s best. Not only was I able to grab a spot RIGHT in front of Faye and feel the energy of her freaking INCREDIBLE PIPES first hand, but I was able to get a good chat in with her afterwards. That night, she told me that she notices EVERY ONE IN THE ROOM– the wide-eyed, bobblehead (me) in the front mouthing along to the vocals, the asshole in back talking to his friend during the song, etc. She said that she SEES EVERYONE in that audience, and that the vibe from the fans really influence their performance and can make/break the gig. She was also telling me that they were exhausted from a recent tour in the states (including festivals like SXSW, Coachella, Bonnaroo), and that they would be heading back there again soon for another round. They are signed to an American label called Glassnote Records (Temper Trap, Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Vampire Weekend) and thus they have a larger fanbase in the states because their debut album (Absolute Zero) was released their firt. I gave and Chris (the keyboardist) some suggestions about San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest, and in exchange they gave me some tips about Ireland. Faye told me I needed to visit again and needed to go back for the ‘Other Voices‘ music event in Dingle in June.  Little Green Cars played there for the 2012-2013 series, along with Daughter, Laura Marling, John Grant, Villagers, Neil Hannon, Savages, and Beth Orton.

Kicking off the set with Harper LeeLittle Green Cars then moved on to Angel Owl, one of my favorites from the album. “Only at night, does my angel sing…Ooooh…Oooooh.” Such a siiiick vocal arrangement for this one. Please is another make you plead for more of Faye’s vocals (maybe it’s not a coincidence that it’s called ‘Please’): “Please believe my lies…At least I know you gave it your best try.”

They then shocked the audience with a cover of Bruce Springsteen‘s ‘I’m on Fire’, for which the vocal arrangement was so awesome. It really captured the breadth of Faye’s pipes, and I think Bruce would approve. Not only did they cover one of my favorite songs (“I’m on fire”) by THE BOSS, but they covered a song about my hometown (‘Philadelphia‘) written by the legend non other than Sir Neil Young (he might as well be music royalty). Crazy odds!

Next up came ‘My Love Took Me Down to the River to Silence Me, and Faye’s voice SOARS on this one. Such powerful pipes for her lil’ frame! I’m so glad I was parked right in front of her for this one, cause the power of those pipes COULD BE FELT!

Even though this gig was specifically set to be an “acoustic set,” Stevie stripped it down EVEN MORE by going into the crowd with his guitar unamped and leading the rest to follow with no mice. The band ended the intimate, acoustic set by playing The John Wayne in the center of the crowd and encouraging everyone to sing alone. A very heartfelt encore (see video below):

“It’s easy to fall in love
It’s easy to be alone
It’s easy to hate yourself
when all your love is inside someone else
It’s easy to take it all
It’s easy to give it to
when there’s more people out there to love
than people who love you.” (TRUTH.)

That was a hard night of music to top, and I look forward to more unexpected treats like this. ❤

VIDEOS:

Harper Lee:

Angel Owl:

Please:

I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover):

Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen cover):

My Love Took Me Down to the River to Silence Me:

The John Wayne:

PICTURES:

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Little Green Cars– The Great Escape, Brighton
(May 16, 2013)

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Ben Howard: “So happy hearted in the warmth…Free as a bird that flies.”

Ben Howard– The Independent (May 31, 2013)

Ben Howard, one of my FAVORITE singer/songwriters of all time who I discovered waaaaay before (from my buddy in the UK) he was known in the states (now a global icon). So glad I got to see him twice (Sasquatch music festival and The Independent) before he blew up in the states. His story is very much a Cinderella one, and it’s cool to think the he was a hard-core surfer (Cornwall’s coast) that never thought his campfire guitar sessions with friends at the beach could ever lead to global RockSTARDOM. We have London’s independent record label, Communion, for scooping him up early and helping him develop international success. He’s now already headlined many major festivals (Bestival, Latitude, Green Man, GLASTONBURY…) and has won many critically acclaimed awards all over the world. His fan base has grown IMMENSELY since seeing him back in the states (May 2012), and so seeing him a year later at Summer Stampede (London) and Green Man (Brecon Beacon, Wales) was a much different experience. In fact, I met two girls up at Sumer Stampede who came all the way from SWEDEN to see Ben (since their Peace and Love festival was cancelled). People from ALL OVER THE WORLD to become “so happy hearted in the warmth….free as a bird that flies.”

VIDEOS:

Only Love:

Promise:

Black Flies:

Old Pine:

PICTURES:

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Ben Howard– The Independent (May 31, 2013)

Ben Howard had been on my radar for over a year and so to see him TWICE IN ONE WEEK at Sasquatch and The Independent was absolutely SURREAL. He is seriously one of the most TALENTED and unbelievably HUMBLE musicians I’ve seen. Last night was even further confirmation that I am in love with his music, and everything he represents. And better yet that I got to share it with Jen!  🙂

He opened the show with Depth Over Distance, an unreleased song that showcases his lap top percussion-style guitar skills. (SO GOOD, and wish I got a video!)….Another unreleased song that I love of his is called Soldier. MAGICAL, just magical…

VIDEOS:

Old Pine:

Only Love:

“Untitled”:

The Wolves:

Everything:

Black Flies:

Keep Your Head Up (Part 1):

Keep Your Head Up (Part 2):

Promise:

The Fear:

PICTURES:

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Asgeir: “I lift my mind to the sky, and I let it take flight…The wind carries to my ears, precious sounds of life”

Asgeir– Bush Hall (December 11, 2013)

Meet Asgeir, a new, up-and-coming Icelandic musician who’s debut album sold more copies in Iceland than that of Bjork and Sigur Ros (apparently 1 out of 10 Icelanders own his album), and I CAN DEFINITELY TELL WHY. Let’s just say..umm… SPELL-BINDING?…Ethereal folk layered with beautiful harmonies (almost falsetto sounding), warm electronica, and adroit guitar picking. His delicate, falsetto voice reminds me a bit of Justin Veron, and the band’s sound overall is similar to both Bon Iver and Volcano Choir. It was such a treat to hear some of the tracks sung in Icelandic, for which they were originally written and only later translated by John Grant (another great artist) in English to reach more people. My first encounter with the Icelandic language WAS through Asgeir, and I have so much more of an appreciation for this beautiful language because of his music. And to think that they also kicked off their December show at Bush Hall in London with some Icelandic Christmas carols. (Merry xmas to you). I just wish they didn’t have the entire show in the dark! See videos/pics from that show below.

Fortunately I was also able to catch Asgeir again in the spring when they played at the lovely Union Chapel in Islington. Head In the Snow has always been one of my favorites, so me eyes IMMEDIATELY LIT UP when they kicked off their set with this gem. I distinctly remember listening to this one on the bus ride from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik, and suddenly my mind became flooded with flashbacks from that magical place. I am whisked away to stunning landscapes of giant glaciers and mighty waterfalls that breathe life into the tree-less mountainside. “Hope and faith, Don’t you fail me now…Hope and faith, Come and warm my heart…Hope and faith, Fill me up with strength.” (It’s not uncommon that I daydream at least ONCE when listening to their album)..Next up was In the Silence, another favorite for which I first heard in Icelandic at their Bush Hall gig. It was such a treat to see how a song that you ALREAD THOUGHT BEAUTIFUL could capture even more beauty when sung in a different language (especially one as lovely as Icelandic!): “Come, take my hand, Let’s undo the knots of the past…Watch the mind run far away…and everything that will be and was here and now.”

Asgeir then took us on a detour to dark waters, playing a new song called The Ocean (see video below).

From the ocean to the sky, he soon takes us higher and higher into another dimension with the beautiful soft electronica and gentle vocals of Higher: 

“I lift my mind to the sky, and I let it take flight
The wind carries to my ears, precious sounds of life…
Higher HIGHER…I must go…
Higher HIGHER…Far away….    
And the glare of this world is more than humbled…”

After taking flight with Higher and HigherAsgeir brought us home with Going Home. Of all this songs on the album, this is the one that changed most drastically from its initial release, and I really enjoyed witnessing the evolution. “Home, I’m making my way home….My mind’s already there.” (last phrase always slays me)…Summer Guest was to follow, and the last line of this song SLAYS ME even harder: “You made a shelter for my soul if your language I could speak..I would weave a song for you of my own.”

Asgeir then surprises us all with a tribute to Kurt Cobain on the week of his death anniversary (can’t believe it’s been 20 years), performing a heart-wrenching over of Nirvana‘s Heart-Shaped Box:

“She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak
I’ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks
I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar-pit trap
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black..”

I’m pretty sure every inch of my body was covered in goosebumps. Kurt was def smiling that night. x

A few tracks later came Asgeir’s notable King and Cross, a beautiful song laced with catchy beats and cool keyboard/synth elements. This lyrics always speak to me: “Death cannot take hold, if I can keep momentum…I’ve found my strength now.” LOVE. Then came Torrent, my FAVORITE on the album (although it’s very hard to choose). When I first heart this track, it kinda reminded me of a Christmas carol, and its uplifting aura gets more and more intense every time I listen. So many magical sounds weaved into this musical masterpiece, especially the percussion (and the drummer’s intensity is hilarious to watch). No wonder they saved it for the encore! (Also, you MUST out the original version in Icelandic: Nýfallið Regn.STUUUUUUNING.)

Ásgeir‘s solo encore of One That Day was one of my highlights of the night. It’s the only song he played by himself, showcasing the pure, organic, spiritual quality to his voice (as his range hits the upper echelons in flawlessly fluctuating falsetto). He was clearly in his element, and you couldn’t help be whisked away to a mystical place (maybe the glacier lagoons of Iceland) and drowned in the fluid sound of his atmospheric, folk-laced tempos. And to be heard in a high-ceiling Gothic church with subtle lighting?…Dying.

“Just one look at you
and then I knew
On that day…
Serendipity smiled down on me.”

I am so glad I discovered the ICELANDIC PROPHET that is Asgeir when I did (back in December) because is HUGE now and has globe-trotted all over the world, covering lot of ground and hitting big festivals in the states and in Europe. His music has been the musical medicine for my soul, and I can’t stop dreaming of my future adventures in Iceland when I GET BACK THERE in November for ICELAND AIRWAVES. So stoked to see him again, along with other Icelandic artists (Low Roar, Lay Low, Samaris, Mammut, SOLSTAFIR, Low Roar), and to explore his magical land with one of my best friends from California! I would have moved to Iceland in a heartbeat if they had work for me there. It’s UNREAL in so many ways, and EVERYONE needs to travel there (and soak up the local music) at least ONCE in their lifetime. Check out the documentary video that my friend Marissa (super-talented) made from our trip there back in March. SO looking forward to ROUND 2 of this trip in the next few months! ❤

(Setlists for both gigs are post below. I made sure I was lucky enough to be in front both times.)

Asgeir– Union Chapel (April 8, 2014)

VIDEOS:

Going Home:

The Ocean:

Heart-Shaped Box:

Torrent:

On That Day:

PICTURES:

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Asgeir– Bush Hall (December 11, 2014)

VIDEOS:

Torrent:

King and Cross:

Head in the Snow (Icelandic version):

In the Silence:

Higher:

On the Day:

PICTURES:

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Alex Vargas- “So hammer on my heartstrings, Come on get your fill”

Alex Vargas The Lexington, London

(May 23, 2014)

The Guardian recently cited Alex Vargas as “one of the most impressive white soul voices since Steve Winwood and Robert Palmer,” and I could not agree MORE. His sold-out performance last night at The Lexington had you WEAK AT THE KNEES, despite his initial remark to the crowd: “It’s Friday night! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU ALL DOING HERE?!” (very endearing). It’s Alex’s unique pipes and soulful HOWLIN’ that make him stand out above most troubadours his age, and it’s very fitting for ‘Howl‘ to be the title of his recent EP. He describes ‘Howl‘ as a collection of personal songs “For my loved ones, and some lost ones.” The title track WILL give you goosebumps. His howlin’ has ME HOWLIN’! Raised in Denmark but of British/Uruguayan descent, Alex has been living in London for almost 10 years and is now finally reaping the rewards of his exhaustive circuit of open mic nights. He recently had two sell-out headline tours, and now is in high demand. It turns out he is very good friends and roommates with another London artist ( also fathered by Communion) who was on the lineup for Communion’s Bushstock this year: Jack Garratt. I ran into Alex at Jack Garratt’s debut EP (Remant’s) launch at The Waiting Room last night, and he said that him and the band are working on recording and hope to have another headline gig in October. That might be the last one I see in London!

VIDEOS:

Solid Ground:

Winter Snow:

Howl:     (my favorite!)

Walking on the Wire:

PICTURES:

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