Monday, March 2, 2015

Noise Pop '15: No Joy

NOISE POP '15
NO JOY
W/DEVON WILLIAMS, VANIISH, and CHASMS
BOTTOM OF THE HILL, SAN FRANCISCO
27 FEBRUARY, 2015
 
The Sleater-Kinney road trip put a giant hole in the month of February, selling out my traditional venture to San Francisco's Noise Pop Festival. In lieu of the whole shot, I picked one show, and it was a winner. Montreal's No Joy put together a handful of West Coast shows around this appearance, with this night featured a particularly loaded lineup. Returning to Bottom Of The Hill, a beacon amidst the warehouses of the Avenues, an early arrival was imperative, considering... Things kicked off in the most literal of ways, with the reverential noisescapes of Chasms, riding the wave of last years Subtle Bodies LP, setting up the darkwave of VANIISH, with Keven Tecon (Wax Idols) stepping out to bring his visions to life, transforming a stellar debut into something much more on stage, with the help of his intuitive band, also featuring Wax Idols' Amy Rosenoff. Having found a home on Slumberland Records,  LA's Devon Williams skewed the mood with a set heavy on the power pop goodness, but with enough rough edges to keep the crowd engaged. With a new LP on the horizon in the summer, it was back to business time for No Joy, and the quartet led by guitarists Laura Lloyd and Jasamine White-Gluz stayed true to form, unleashing melodic treats both new and old, cocooned in waves of shredded guitar. Banging through their set with little formality or pause, just pure sonic assualt, and before you knew it, they were laughing and tearing down their equipment, the job done.

NO JOY








DEVON WILLIAMS


VANIISH



CHASMS

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Re-Start Together: The Return Of Sleater-Kinney

SLEATER-KINNEY
KNITTING FACTORY
SPOKANE, WA
08 FEBRUARY, 2015
Unbeknownst to us at the time, but perfectly in keeping, Sleater Kinney had spent the last 18 months of a nine year hiatus plotting and planning their resurface. Not content with milking the hits, they boiled up new material, honed it mercilessly, and somehow kept the whole process dark from the public, no mean feat in this age of 24/7 internet-driven gossip. During their hiatus, the band: Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss, certainly had no problem keeping busy, with Tucker forming the Corin Tucker Band, Brownstein blogging for NPR, reuniting with Weiss for Wild Flag, and bringing Portlandia to life, while Janet Weiss focused on her ongoing Quasi project, in addition to being one of the top on call touring drummers. Last fall, Sub Pop dropped a career spanning box set, and what caught the eye when plowing through the bonus materials was a white label 45 that simply said: "01/20/15". Containing their first new music released to the world since 2005's The Woods, it set off the proverbial avalanche. No Cities To Love was the album that matched up with the Date Of Mystery, and it is a corker, Wasting no time, they announced a tour, prefacing it with a scorching David Letterman appearance, and that brings us to Spokane.

While the rest of what's left of the Industry focused on their annual congrat-fest known as the Grammys, this Sunday evening marked the return to active duty for the band, adding Katie Harkin from Sky Larkin to fill out the proceedings. The Knitting Factory in Spokane was sold out to its 1500 capacity, and the faithful came from as far away as the UK to be present for this moment. Any notion of a sepia-tinged nostalgia gig were quickly dispelled as they kicked off with the first two cuts from the new LP, economic anxiety anthem "Price Tag" and "Fangless". Over the course of the night, they would work in almost all of No Cities To Love, cherry-picking their robust back catalog to fill in the rest. First foray into the past was The Hot Rock's "Start Together", which gave its name to the aforementioned box set, and the frenzy escalated when they moved into "Oh!" from One Beat.
Back to the new for a thundering "No Anthems", before dropping a trio of "Get Up", "Ironclad", and "One Beat" into the proceedings, and it speaks to the power of the set that they can drop lead single "Bury Our Friends" into the middle. "What's Mine Is Yours" was the shredding showcase that set up the gut punch of "One More Hour", still an emotional touchstone in the group's work. Title track of the new album and "Surface Envy" followed, and it was time again to marvel at the new material's strength, before dropping headlong into "Words and Guitar". The peak of the night for me was the closing quartet of the main set. When the screams died down after Corin Tucker belted out the first line of "Sympathy", it was replaced by the crowd bellowing back at her, fully engaged. After a breathless take on "A New Wave", the band laid out a double shot from The Woods, with a snarling "Entertainment" giving way to "Jumpers".

The shows of their final (pre-hiatus) tour in 2006 had a desperate car crash intensity, where every emotion was magnified, and it was actually a relief that the tenor of this show was celebratory-a lot of smiling and winning chemistry between the ladies. It could have easily been a cash-grab, but Sleater Kinney were never about half-measures, and this night proved that, no matter what, they would do it their way.

Lizzo, (from Minnesota), got the prized opening slot on this tour, making the most it with a burning set, her intensity matched by her DJ. "Batches and Cookies" was a high point, and the live drummer added extra punch to the sound. It was a great introduction to a talent whose skill and heart showed through, and I'll look forward to catching up with her again.


 

LIZZO