Tag Archives: music

Hyborian Closes the Night with a Frantic and Chaotic Experience

The final act of the night was Hyborian, but it certainly drew attention. Some of it may have been residual from Young Bull, but based on what I heard it certainly had enough to bring in a crowd in its own right.

Hyborian fuses prog and thrash metal with powerful, raw vocals and dynamic structures. The fast paced, complex structures paired with sudden breakdown evoke a chaotic feeling to the music that is overwhelming at times but brought back when it toes the line of overdoing it. The constant ebb and flow of blast beats and sudden breakdowns and dissonance add to the overwhelming feeling. It certainly is an interesting change from the rest of the line up, but at times this theme of ebb and flow proves to be hard to maintain even for the band. There were a few moments where I’m sure things weren’t totally on point, but Hyborian plays through them and makes it part of the song anyway. There are also times where it felt like the band had a certain length in mind for a song, and by golly that length would be reached like a music critic using a ton of words to lengthen a review.

As for their stage performance…I didn’t see too much to really note. It wasn’t that it was terrible, but nothing remarkable either. The band focused on the music, and they certainly covered that part well. It drew in cheers and applause and one brave soul decided to go into the mosh pit wearing roller skates. I can’t explain their reasoning behind it, but the occasion called for it, I guess it’s one way to look at the audience being enthused by a performance. Regardless other than questionable foot wear the audience seemed to like what they heard.

Hyborian offers a music experience that, if not complex, certain a break from the night’s lineup. It paired lots of high and low energy tempos with melodies that bring the listener to the edge only to edge off slightly. It is certainly a listening experience that can lose a person but bring them back to a concert atmosphere.

Technique- 3.5

Presentation- 1.5

Audience Interaction- 1.5

Brownie Points- 0.5

Total- 7

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Young Bull Tore Through the Shop

Young Bull came up next to last in the night, but they didn’t hold any punches.

If I recall this was one of the Lawrence bands so they drew a large crowd at a Lawrence venue for one obvious reason. The other obvious reason was their music. While they categorize themselves at rock and roll they certain brought in other elements. Bringing in punk grit along with music texture Young Bull creates a sound that is powerful, melodic, and strongly enticing. Rich in tempo changes and syncopation the music barrages any listener with a sound that is frantic at times but methodically and melodically keep everything seemingly familiar. It was extreme but not overdone.

Keeping things extreme but not overdone was the way this band kept all aspects of their performance. While I found lots of the special effects tonight a bit gimmicky Young Bull made it work cohesively. There were times where the lead singer made a gesture and the lights would change color, and luckily it was a mood appropriate one. It added an emphasis to the song and, if it was gimmicky, didn’t seem like a blatant gimmick. The only issue I had were flashing strobe light effects, but that is more of a personal issue than anything else. They were also one of the few bands who bothered to introduce themselves that night. I’m not sure if it helped endear themselves to the audience, but it certainly helped endear them to me.

It was obvious Young Bull was one of the bands folks came to see. Right out of the gate people were bobbing and pogoing. It built up into a frenzy and a circle pit was attempted (but wasn’t fully realized). This band drew the love of the audience, and that was used advantageously. The audience was worked up into a frenzy to a point where they would do what Young Bull asked. If the band fistpumped, so did the audience. If the band chanted, so did the audience. The band drew the audience in and kept them locked.

Young Bull certainly lives up to their name. They have a powerful stage show and tenacity to match their music. It was certainly a welcome change and one met by the audience as well. After all that here’s my rating:

Technique- 3

Presentation- 3

Audience Interaction- 3

Brownie Points- 0

Total- 9

Druids Evokes a Performance that’s Raw and Delightful

Druids came on during the second half of the showcase and helped establish the trend of less doom and psychedelic and more intensity. Out of Des Moines, Druids offers a welcome change to flash in the pan effects and de-emphasized those aspects to focus on a show that put the focus on where it belonged: the music.

It was also a nice change from the barrage of doom and relatively slow tempos in other sets. They immerse the listener in a blend of fast tempos with dark undertones. When the music gets to frantic tempos that peak it brings it back down with break downs and soothing prog and psychedelic elements. The raw screams added a nice touch to things, but at times didn’t pair well with the psychedelic elements. I get it was aiming for a contrast, but sometimes contrasts clash too much to work.

At the very least Druids seemed to want to be there to show us their cool music. Everyone seemed enthused to be there and showed off what they could offer. I think what I also appreciated was how they were able to do it without anything that gimmicky be it an attitude or literal flashing lights. It reflected well and that enthusiasm was infective. The audience loved it through and through. Even in the second song people were headbanging, screaming instead of cheering, and moshed hard. Their intensity matched the intensity of the music and the enthusiasm the band expressed.

I don’t have much to say about Druids, but what I do is rather positive. Their music offers a lot of texture and energy and they bring it with them to the stage. It goes to show how sometimes the old fashioned way of putting on a show is to make sure the music is good.

Technique-3

Presentation-2

Audience Interaction-3

Brownie Points-0

Total-8

Stone Grower Ramps Up the Crowd During the Showcase

Wow, I really got walloped by the showcase put on by The Company! I have some thoughts on it as a whole, but that will come after I put up all the reviews. Since I’ve got seven of them it’s gonna be a minute.

First up was the band Stone Grower. My amateur behind managed to be late, so I’m giving them some leeway. Despite my tardiness I am able to glean something from the band.

Stone Grower offered up a mix of psychedelic music and dynamic tempos. At times with the dynamic tempo and long drawn-out notes with some atonal singing were reminiscent of Iron Butterfly or Jefferson Airplane. There are lots of stoner metal elements too, but it mostly complimented the psychedelic themes in the music. This was further complimented by a mostly on key falsetto, though I’m not convinced that when the lead was off key if that was accidental. It was at least a throwback to earlier eras of psychedelic music.

If the music didn’t charm people the lead singer’s goofy antics certainly did. His enthusiasm is a welcome change with psychedelic music brought something with its off kilter antics that was at times enjoyable and at times made me question the lead singer’s sobriety. This was further questioned when it seemed like most of the time it was only the lead singer that enthusiastic and the others were either concentrating or seemingly elsewhere. I’m not certain the stage performance hindered it, based on how the audience responded.

Stone Grower took a minute to grow on the audience, but it did happen. Oddly enough it doesn’t seem to be releated to enthusiasm. It actually seems like the more about the music line up than anything else. There were a few more songs closer to the end of the set that seemed less psychedelic inspired than the rest, which seemed to work in their favor.

I think people who are in to psychedelic and stoner music will find Stoner Grower fun to watch and enjoy the music. They provide some entertaining stunts on stage for those not into that type of music so they can enjoy it too. With that said here’s the rating:

Technique-2.5

Presentation-2.5

Audience Interaction-2

Brownie Points-0.5

Total-7.5

Opening Night of Pride for the Masses

As most people are aware in the US June is Pride Month, a month where people of the LGBT+ community celebrate who they are. There are a lot of politics involved with both pride month and various LGBT+ issues, of which I won’t delve into much. What I delve into is the opening night of Pride for the Masses, a Pride event hosted by I Heart Local Music. Everyone hosting the event was a member of the LGBT+ community and brought an incredible performance.

The night started off with Cuee, a local rapper and hip hop artist who brought finesse and aggressive lyrics that attack each song. The combination of at times smooth beats with strong drill elements brings a down to earth reality often ignored or, at best, overlooked in the music scene. The music brought an incredible vibe that welcomed everyone to join.

Gritty reality was certainly not ignored this night, however, Wick and the Tricks brought their high-octane performance of glam punk that covered many political issues while being risque and off the wall.

The last musical act of the night was DJ Candyass, who brought a plethora of music guaranteed to please everyone. The music playlist ranged from hip hop to EDM and even more obscure genres. Everyone had a reason to dance.

Of course, this was all tied together by the wonderful hostess Miss Amanda Love. Her comical stylings and lip syncing had the audience roaring with laughter while applauding her ability the match the energy to the song, be it a moving ballad or fast tempos. She also showed the audience as much love as she was given.

This is certainly a great event, one which I hope is repeated in the future with the same fervor and tenacity. I also hope that it continues to be fully run by members of the LGBT+ community with all profits going back into the same community that put it together. That is something I’m glad I Heart Local Music seemed to care about and hope other places wanting to participate in Pride month will consider as well.

Album Review: “Prequelle” by Ghost

prequelleLots of attention focused on Ghost this year with their theatrics of introducing new characters, such as the newest frontman Cardinal Copia, to the legal theatrics surrounding the band. The drama proved to be a winning combination with climbing sales. Add a creative deviation from previous works and “Prequelle” will hit the spot for many listeners.

Ghost fans have nothing to fear with the drastic changes. The familiar combination of macabre, tongue-in-cheek humor, elements of psychedelic and progressive music tempered with gothic tones still remain strong. Great examples include “Witch Image”, “See the Light”, and especially “Life Eternal” ending the Ghost album in typical Ghost fashion: strong ballad movements with dark tones paired with an eerie choir. Satanic lyricism and gothic elements along with bits of psychedelic music still remain at the core of the music while providing something new.

The creative direction taken this album not only provides something familiar for old fans as not to isolate them, but provides something to lure in fans of various genres. As promised there is a grittier tone with songs like “Rats” and “Faith” which will bring in more heavy metal fans and are guaranteed to be hits. Listeners who enjoy more progressive elements of the band will appreciate certain themes repeated throughout the album, namely the rat theme, most notably found in “See the Light” as well as complex instrumental like “Miasma” and almost Gershwin-like rhapsodies of “Helvetesfönster” that play with influences of folk metal. There is something for everyone this album and it’s pulled off magnificently.

Despite the remarkable endeavor pulled off there were some problematic things. Not all of the transitions were smooth and felt a bit clunky, as seen in the interlude of “Rats” or the introduction of the saxophone solo in “Miasma” doesn’t seem to fit into the whole of the song. There is also the song “Witch Image”, where the word play was welcome but the lyrics felt a bit phoned in. I’ll chock it up to my disdain for heavy-handed end rhyming, and what the song lacks in lyrical composition it’s certainly made up with power chords and psychedelic musical composition. I also found myself questioning the artistic intention of some of the things which were off, as sometimes it was hard to determine if stuff like off-key singing was intended in “See the Light” or having an overload of low ends and synthesizer were meant to convey something deeper in “ Helvetesfönster”, or perhaps this was the best take. Regardless everything else was put into consideration, including songs bleeding into one another and a continuation of elements.

Ghost’s latest album delivers everything and more, and is one of the rare moments where an album lives up to the hype that I can recall. As promised it is a grittier, more arena-type direction as opposed to other albums, but it combines enticing music for everyone without leaving longtime fans behind. If this is a transition into a more theatrical one for Ghost it will certainly be an interesting ride.

3.5/4

The Soundtrack: March 2018

It’s that time again where I release 4 songs that best describe this month. Those who are new to this I pick 4 songs from music released in the particular time, in this case March of this year. These 4 songs I feel capture the emotion of the month. I don’t look at which songs I like, or genre, or anything of the sort. It’s all about the music and capturing the mood.

Now that I got some of that out of the way, here’s what I picked for this month. Hint: apparently I was obsessed with lots of layers this month.

Superorganism “SPRORGNSM”

Not only is the story behind this band an interesting one, but the music on this album is impressive. Seriously, if you get a chance check out their backstory and the rest of their album. Much of the album is like this, but the idea of everything working together to create one big complex work is rather striking.

Moby “The Tired and the Hurt”

Moby is one of those artists who is able to mix a lot of genres together and, even if you don’t like it, at least appreciate the complexities. I feel like this month was one of those months with “layers” where it seemed simple but as you look at it look at how things got processed in a weird way. I think this song captured that aspect.

Dorothy “Ain’t Our Time to Die”

This is another one of those songs that struck me but in a different way. Rather than being focused on being layered in composition this one I felt was layered in emotions.

Lucy Dacus “Yours & Mine”

While this song wasn’t layered in ways like the others, but I felt it captured the vibe of this month of trying to address feelings directly, even if the execution of it was complicated.

If you want to check out what I picked in previous months you can check out these posts or go to my YouTube playlist.