Little Lies and Massive Dreams

My name is Bear. I play in a band called Talking About Commas and live and work in Providence, RI. I like music.
Free Hit Counter
Free Counter

Apr 8, 2008

Dr. Moore vs. Mr. Boyd: Nathan flies solo

Nathan more is a very humble man considering the great degree of talent and the song writing prowess he often displays at his shows. You’d think that a musician who has made it (in the sense that he makes a living doing his art) and has performed all over the country with various bands (ThaMuseMeant and Surprise Me Mr. Davis) would be more comfortable entertaining an audience that hangs on his every word. However he still can be found rambling about his lack of professionalism and apologizing for tuning on stage. Nathan is 37 years old and has just embarked on his first ever solo tour which much to his surprise, has gone quite well. He has a new album in the can, a magazine cover and a new manager - not to mention a very well received album that is barely a year old and an upcoming tour with Surprise Me Mr Davis, the band in which the Slip back him.

Last weekend the tour brought him to Parima, a quaint Thai restaurant located just off the famed Church Street walking mall in Burlington, Vermont. Parima has just opened an “acoustic lounge” with small tables illuminated by candle light, couches, love seats and various other comfortable relaxing devices. Complete with rich tapestries lining the walls and a piano in the corner, this is the perfect place to see a man sing his sorrows away with only an acoustic guitar and a harmonica at his disposal.

Nathan started the show (two glasses of red wine by his side) with “Mardi Gras Song” while interweaving a story of how he had sinned the night before and needed to confess, between the song’s actual verses. If there ever was a song with that exemplifies onomatopoeia it is “Mardi Gras Song”. With it’s jangly, Creole infused rhythm guitar and tick-tock clock sound effects you can actually feel yourself stumbling down Bourbon Street in search of your next hurricane. After the self-reflective and poignant “Blue Sky Blue” Nathan literally ripped his set list into pieces and declared that he didn’t need it anymore. An act that conveyed his desire to live in the moment the rest of the night.

A big chunk of the set was filled with new songs like the week old “Dumbo’s Ears” and “Mouse”, a tale of a late night musical reveries between himself and a pint sized rodent with a miniature fiddle and a thimble for drinking ripple. Nathan barely touched upon his latest solo album (2007's “In His Own Worlds”) signifying that he was playing for atmosphere that night and not for the possibility of possible album sales. My kind of show.

After a slew of older songs like “Lord Lord Lord”, "If I Didn't Love You" and “Talkin Walkin Round Town Blues” he closed with “Rolling Home”, a tribute to small town life and his brothers who live in Staunton, Virginia. In between the set and encore Nathan sat down on a bench on the stage and just absorbed the moment while engaging some of the crowd in some simple small talk, unsure of whether they wanted an encore or not. When one fan announced “We’re not ready to leave yet” he responded with a nervous laugh and quick quip “I guess this is an encore in the folk world”.

It’s nice to see a performer with no predisposition about how a concert is supposed to go. When a request for “Summer of My Fall” was yelled from the abyss he responded with playing that song, not skirting around the situation. Nathan plays music for himself first but knows he couldn’t be doing what he does without his small but loyal fan base. Although he is only playing for less than 50 people in a small room at a restaurant, he couldn’t be more thankful for it. As one of his lyrics goes “I may not be a star but at least I’m not trying”, well Nathan....keep doing what your doing and hopefully the rest of the world will catch on.

Set List: Mardi Gras Song, Blue Sky Blue, I Want to be in a Movie, Dumbo's Ears*, Lord Lord Lord, Before You Were Born, Mouse, Angel of Delight, Summer of My Fall, Muddy River, Don't Fall For Me, If I Didn't Love You, Walkin Talkin Round Town Blues, Meet the Man, Cowboy Anarchy, Rollin Home

E: Don't Have to Say You're Sorry (Til Ya Go), Tell Me More

*not sure of title. Joe Adler opened the show.

4/4/08 - Stephen Malkmus @ the Mass Moca

The Mass MoCA is an amazing contemporary arts complex located in the sleepy mountain town of North Adams, MA smack dab in the heart of the Berkshires. It resides in a 13 acre lot in the downtown area that used to be home to factories and mills. The complex provides a great venue for visual, perfomance and media arts and as Stephen Malkmus put it “ this is a great use of tax dollars”. Malkmus and his band, the Jicks, played their brand of jammed out indie rock at the Hunter Center, the MoCA’s Fillmore sized concert auditorium.

Drawing heavily from their new album, Real Emotional Trash, Malkmus lead his band through a pretty standard set. Albeit very exploratory to the untrained ear, all of the “jams” were basically note for note versions of their album versions. The only true improv I noticed was a dark spacy outtro to the idiosyncratic melodic pop found in “It Kills”.

Malkmus’ unassuming banter was refreshing as he would tell funny stories, crack jokes with his bandmates and answer some of the crowd’s questions (he even riffed on a little Sabbath when someone shouted “play Ironman!”). After they played “We Can’t Help You”, Malkmus entertained us with a celebrity encounter that could only happen to him. Apparently basketball star Manute Bol had called him recently and told him how much he loved Stephen’s music and thought of “We Can’t Help You” as his theme song every time a prospective donator declined to support one his various non-profit programs.

After the standard set (in regards to what songs were played), the Jicks let their hair down a little by jamming on a funny arabic themed jam while introducing eachother to start the encore (see video below). Then they delved into their back catalogue with two songs from his middle two solo releases and one unreleased song which I had never heard before. If you take the show for what it was, than it was a well executed, fun set of completely original music. It’s just hard to digest when I know he has four albums under his belt (not to mention Pavement's whole catalog, but he doesn't play those songs anymore) but still played 80% new material during the main set of his show. I know that this is standard issue in the music biz but sometimes its nice to be a little left of center, somewhere I know Malkmus has resided his entire career.

Set List: Dragonfly Pie, Gardenia, It Kills, Elmo Delmo, Cold Son, Baltimore, We Can’t Help You, Water and a Seat, Hopscotch Willie, Wicked Wanda, Real Emotional Trash

E: band introductions, Pencil Rot, Run Lady Run*, Vanessa From Queens

* not sure of title. John Vanderslice opened the show.

Thanks to pineapplecircus for the youtube videos.