Monthly Archives: October 2013
Umphrey’s McGee is a band. Simple statement right? Maybe a little too simple to the untrained eye, but it holds a lot of weight and it really means something. I’m speaking about raw talent, and the success of using it to it’s fullest potential. The spirit of “bandship” prevails in the digital age my friends. If the apocalypse occurred, and in the fallout our civilization was bereft of all technological luxuries, the members of UM would still be able to pick up acoustics and melt faces if they so desired. It’s true. They have never fallen into a significant rut, nor have they ever gone on hiatus. Musical preference aside, they are consistent, and that is a crucial factor in the success of a jamband. Right now the band is smack in the middle of a tour that will stretch into their New Years Run in Colorado, and they’ve already announced dates with Kung Fu in February. This is why they currently rank as one of the top touring jambands in the country; They practice, and they play. Last Friday night I got to catch the guys perform at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA for their 87th show this year.
The first set was nothing too fancy(pun intended) compared to past triumphs, but when it was good, it was really good. The “Le Blitz> 1348” show-opener took me back to John Travolta thrusting that epinephrine into Uma Thurman’s chest in Pulp Fiction, quite the rush. At least for the first five minutes. The adrenaline faded in the jam out of “1348”, until the crowd received their first drum solo via Kris Meyers that is. Still, Umphrey’s struck me more as a technical and diverse rock band rather than a dynamic jamband during the first set. They were holding something back. Out of the entire set, really only a few songs breached the confines of their written structure with extended improv. The jams themselves couldn’t seem to travel, and lacked the thematic, animated style they often perform with. Imagine a group of trapeze artists represents the improvised sections. They’d make the move forward and tread the line, but wouldn’t get very far before dropping into the safety net. They simply weren’t taking a lot of risks. To be honest Brendan Bayliss himself was a highlight. He really took the lead in the first set, proving himself in some of those solos as a truly brilliant guitarist. “Red Tape” was short but impressive to say the least. Joel Cummings had a lot to say in the last 4 minutes or so, eventually providing a niche for Bayliss and percussionist Andy Faragto to “converse”. Although UM executed their songs well the first set just couldn’t reach the level they are capable of. The crowd didn’t seem to mind one bit though, the energy in the Calvin that night was insane. Bayliss commented on it twice, and guitarist Jake Cinninger later said it was the biggest crowd they’ve played for at the venue.
That energy eventually found it’s way to the stage in the 2nd set. The circus was live and alive. In a matter of seconds that stage went off like a detonated bomb was triggered by their instruments. They skipped the foreplay and commenced the set with the syncopated fury of “Nothing Too Fancy”. This is an aggressive tune that usually passes into lengthy territory, but instead they channeled that momentum to the Zappa-esque “Ringo”, melding the two into one long funky marathon. Finally pausing after a total 30 minutes of unrelenting funk and ferocity, Umphrey’s covered John Lennon’s deeply personal ballad, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. More often than not these covers can come off as a tad gimmicky. Because bands like these spend so much time mastering the ins and outs of their own compositions(ex: transitions, sandwiches, palindrome setlists), they tend not to get too creative with the covers. Granted it’s not like you’re going to see the original musicians play it any time soon, but it often takes away time that could be used to develop a theme during one of their own songs. These guys don’t like to come up short though. UM didn’t play this classic outside of it’s original outline, but they did an absolutely phenomenal job performing it. The vocals were notably great, and naturally Cinninger and Bayliss nailed the guitar, which is crucial to that particular song. After exiting the heavenly embrace of “Dear Lord” and completing the transition back into “Der Bluten Kat”, they drifted into a psychedelic jam featuring a very skillful use of basically every noise you could make with guitar without actually fully strumming a chord or a note. This went on until it escalated into a full blown dance party, and ladies and gentlemen when Umphrey’s wants you too dance, you dance. The roof didn’t have a chance.
Up until the set closing cover of “Reelin’ In The Years” by Steely Dan, the 2nd set really didn’t include a lot of singing, rather almost pure jamming and working through compositions. It was magnificent. I had a hard time hearing Joel in the 2nd set for some reason. Upon listening to the soundboards he definitely put in some work that night. At one point Jake ripped into a two-minute solo using exclusively palm-mutes and harmonics that was stunningly deranged. With the full moon on Friday night, I bet if you looked close enough you could see Hendrix waving a white towel from above the clouds.
Watching these guys play, right in front of you, that’s where all the magic is. The way they correspond with each other, walking up to each other face to face as they play, and the places they go, it’s just as visually enticing as musically. There is a strong, chemical bond shared between each individual member. Bayliss and Cinninger play off of each other like a table tennis match between Olympic Gold Medalist Ryu Seung-Min and Forrest Gump. That kind of chemistry can’t be missed, and to see it wriggle and bounce and strike you the way it does is amazing. You can just tell they love what they do, they’re great at it, and they were born to do it together. I find it hard to imagine any connoisseur of music leaving totally unsatisfied last Friday night. All in all, Umphrey’s McGee played a 6.5/10
Setlist for 10/18/2013 @ The Calvin Theater- Northampton, MA Set 1- Le Blitz > 1348 > Example 1 > Slacker> Great American Partyin' Peeps Red Tape
Set 2- Nothing Too Fancy> Ringo I Want You (She's so Heavy) Der Bluten Kat> Dear Lord> Der Bluten Kat, Reelin' in the Years Encore: Den> Nothing Too Fancy
Silky. Hmmm, are we describing the music or naming it’s creator? Both I suppose. Silky is a genuine creator of deep/acid house who’s been hitting the decks for over 10 years now. He was introduced to the DJing and unofficially mentored by Frankie Knuckles, who played a pivotal role in bringing house music to popularity in the 80’s and 90’s, and still remains one of the most influential icons in house music. Although he has received support from artists like Deep Dish, Carl Cox, and Groove Armada, his music is mostly recognized through underground channels. Silky has been a long time member of My Favorite Robot Records, which seems to to be solid fit for a house producer of this type. After the years he’s spent in the studio, and the help he’s had along the way, he’s become quite the incredible DJ. You can see what he’s got to bring to table (literally) where it really matters, LIVE, below. Listen to Silky’s performance in Berlin earlier this month at the Chalet Club, and see for yourself what this guy is capable of, we’re pretty confident you’ll like what you hear.
The Magician dropped his 36th installment to the Magic Tape series. No tracklist of course, he’s come too far to change his mysterious ways now. Kick your shoes off, light some candles, and work your way through another hour of charming, poetic disco-house to woo your brain into a romantic fervor. Rumor has it he might hit the Northeast for couple live dates after his appearance in Los Angeles, so keep an eye out. He is a magician after all, tour date miracles are sure to be right up his alley. The mix is available for free download now>>
Join us for an evening with Umphrey’s McGee in Northampton, MA this Friday October 18th! The cult-followed jamband band will be performing at the Calvin Theater for their seventh time, a venue that has been cited by Marc Brownstein of The Disco Biscuits as “one of our favorite places to play in the country”. Only a month has passed since their headline-worthy tour with STS9 culminated, and the funky quintet is on the road again, this time one on one, with two sets.
When it comes to Umphrey’s McGee it’s hard to view them through a particular scope. In terms of both technicality and style, they have mastered not just one signature sound, but many. Their song structures are typically variations of rock songs written with alternative or progressive themes, fused with well written funk, classical, psychedelic, and orchestrated compositions. Unlike some other acts, these guys bring HUGE doses of improvisation to the table, without question and without flaw. To each their own, but when the focus is solely left on the tightness of the group’s playing, they are impeccable. A shining example of such skill lies with the band’s lead guitarist, Jake Cinninger.
The most fundamental and intrinsic characteristic of UM‘s sound is the precision harmony displayed in the segments/solos between guitarists Jake and front-man Brendan Bayliss. The chemistry shared between these two mammoth guitar players and the other members is the catalytic agent that’s propelled them through the years without any static. Bayliss’ execution of the harmonized sections certainly gives us some insight to his competency as a musician, but he still represents the role of a rhythm guitarist. Jake Cinninger is the band’s strongest weapon. Seemingly immune to any friction, you’ll often hear him transition through hard metal riffing, jazz, funk, blues, melodic, psychedelic, and pure rock playing, and at any tempo. On top of his abilities as a jam-virtuoso, his placement of such techniques is on point every time.
Weapon of Choice: On their last tour he was playing with a GNL Legacy that he’s been using since the 90’s, which is the Stratocaster’s brother(the company helped to produce stratocaster’s in the late 50’s and early 60’s). A perfect guitar for a player like this. His rig on stage consists of around 15 different effects pedals. Each are all simultaneously linked to a True Bypass Rig, which allows him to assign any configuration of multiple effects to one particular number on the device. This way, he can custom design his sound catalogue for each specific show. Here’s another way to look at it; Wolverine has equipped himself with an arsenal of destructive futuristic rifles on top of his adamantium claws, and you are the mutant-hunting Sentinel’s about to be ripped to shreds.
Now some people might say, “Jambands? People still listen to that Grateful Dead crap”? We say… To hell with ya. Long ago you see, when AOL and MTV were trusted media conduits, and characters still smoked cigarettes in Disney films, jambands were a very relevant thing in contemporary music, particularly the 90’s. We’re not stupid, of course this movement is still in gear. Of course Phish still sells out Madison Square Garden every New Years Eve, but this is the electronic age, and Skrillex and Miley Cyrus decide the fate music now. We like to think we’re here to show you what makes a particular artist unique, and/or how they perform live. We present the music to you, for you to form your own opinion on it. We’re admittedly fond of the concept of jambands though. They, are at least dynamic. You may not be a fan of the music? Sure. But to deny the potential sight of such extreme displays of musicianship is plain foolish. Really it’s a music lover’s wet dream. No same concert is the same, and you see a new version of each song every time it’s played live. With at least an hour of music per set, and the fact that most touring jambands record each of their performances, you’re getting the equivalent of a new album with each concert played. A reoccurring complaint from those who don’t find appeal with this musical direction that listeners get bored with a 30 minute song with minimal vocal sections. The way we see it, it is up the artists not to bore you. In recent years, the Jam scene has changed form. Phish, a legendary act in their respective class, has drifted further away from their roots in improv since their return from hiatus in 2009. A few tours here and there have reached the level of on-stage jamming(Tahoe“Tweezer” Summer 2013) that they had once mastered, but for the most part their setlists are packed with more songs, and less improvising. Fans of The Disco Biscuits, a group known for their patented fusion of electronic music with various styles jazz and rock compositions, have grown frustrated with the band’s recent lack of consistency and tour dates over the last 3 years. Time moves forward, and sometimes the music does not. No complaints have been mailed in to Umphrey’s McGee as far as we can tell though. The band is playing with as much momentum as they’ve ever had, and certainly don’t “bore”.
Now, stop snoring, and get yourself to the party ladies and frogs. Kicking off their 20+ date tour tonight in Burlington, VT, they’ll good and warmed up for Friday’s show. This will be one of the highlight fall dates in New England. We’ll even show you where to purchase tickets (<here!).
Betoko, London’s prince of analogue house music, released a new EP last week on Nurvous Records. Embrace the shadowy comforts of his latest single, “Little Miss Darkness”, paired with a dub version of the title track as well. You can purchase it on Beatport now, and preview the song below!
Among the overflowing dates all over the Northeast this fall season, Boston has some great disco/electro-indie acts coming through over the next month or so. We’ve got the scoop right here folks. Join Holy Ghost! for their highly anticipated pre-Halloween bash in Boston this October. On tour in support of their new album ‘Dynamics’, the indie-disco outfit will be performing with their live band at Boston’s newest venue, The Sinclair. Once again, they have opening support from fellow Brooklynites, Midnight Magic. Don’t sleep on this funky fright fest! If you’ve already got plans for the holiday, there are some other great acts to catch in Bean Town as well…>>>
10/26/2013 Orchard Lounge @The Middle East- Cambridge, MA *tickets
10/26/2013 Business Casual Disco (opening for Beats Antique) @Paradise Rock Club- Boston, MA *tickets
10/30/2013 Holy Ghost! and Midnight Magic @The Sinclair- Boston, MA *tickets
11/16/2013 CUT COPY! @House of Blues- Boston, MA (not exactly disco, but definitely on the synth heavy/indie side of the spectrum. This is their only show in the region! Do NOT miss these guys, their live show is incredible) *tickets
11/30/2013 Business Casual Disco and The Indobox @Great Scott- Allston, MA *tickets
Musically, the event options this fall are overwhelming. However, if you’ve got an affinity for funky, poppy beats, and you live in the Bay State, these might narrow down your choices a bit. As always, tune in to Tits and Acid Reviews for all your Northeastern concert calendar events!
Chicago has long been relevant in the electronic music scene and has been cited as one of the first rudimentary sources of original underground house music going back to the 80’s, putting the city in the rank with Detroit and Toronto. Ghosts of Venice doesn’t produce house music, but he certainly adds to the city’s repertoire for talented beat makers. After making his first label appearance in 2009 on Defected Records, he has since worked hard on setting himself apart from the waves of other disco-house producers, and succeeded in that endeavor. Fans of Daft Punk, Bag Raiders, or Aeroplane circa 2009 will likely find refuge in Lee Dunn’s (Ghosts of Venice) funk heavy, pop-soaked music. He is past the point the stage of proving himself as an upcoming artist, so much so, that he will be opening for the legendary John Digweed on Halloween in Chicago! His discography is stacked with gems, but for now we’ll just give you a taste with his new remix of “My Body” by Treasure Fingers & The Knocks, available for download below.
Also check out this beautiful rendition of Lemaitre’s “Continuum”, out on Substellar Records, and available for purchase here.
The Beat Broker released the 8th volume of his Classy Dancer Mix series, featuring his new remix of Jonas Reinhardt’s “Jungle Jah”. The San Francisco kid has been quiet for a long time, putting almost a year between his release of the 6th Classy Dancer in March 2012 and the full length album ‘Limited Time’ which debuted last May. Those silent but extensive hours spent in the studio and the resulting drop of a new album(which is pretty good), among other achievements, have made 2012 a very pivotal point in his growing career. The Beat Broker is an incredible DJ, and should no longer be kept a secret. Over the last two years he’s focused more effort into producing originals and working with labels like Bear Funk, Catune, Halocyan, Mad on the Moon, and more. Even before that stage of evolution however, when Beat Broker was just a microscopic disco pumping organism, there was always a smooth elegance displayed in his DJing. The transitions tie the songs together with silk, the tracklist is ALWAYS original, and the finished product gleams every time. He’s been putting out music and DJ mixes since 2006 and has yet to change styles or succumb to the cultural pressures of trend. Although he dabbles with house, synth pop, and ambient grooves, the Broker seems to revel in the spacey vibe found with artists like Goldroom or Ichisan, only add more bass and a touch of glamour to it all. Classy Dancer Volume 8 has all of that, plus a great portion of muscle to it. You can listen and download it for free in the link above.
Just yesterday Roberto Rodriguez (no not the guy who directed Desperado) dropped his extended dub remix of the Monitor 66 track, “Triscuits” on House of Disco Records. You may have heard “Triscuits” showcased in mixes from Aeroplane, Mickey, and Attari, or just circulating the airwaves. The track spent a considerable amount of time on Beatport charts, and still resonates through the disco collections of listeners everywhere. It’s impact on people is further indicated with this remix, considering the original was released some time ago. Roberto’s retelling of the Monitor 66 classic doesn’t tamper with the original’s integrity, and although they are not the same, in this case his remix is equally good. Being an extended dub version, the track is recreated with a slight increase in tempo, and more force to the bass lines along with some flashing synths. All this and the extended length add more emphasis to the aesthetic melody of the tune, and as a result give it a more dramatic feel. You can listen to it here!
London based Blende released a gold-wrapped single this month, which you preview above. Since signing to Eskimo Recordings just over a year ago, this artist has been working non-stop, bringing some of the freshest, synthesizer drenched beats we’ve heard. The new single “Rikki”, is backed with an arsenal of extra crispy bass and saturated bursts of synth waves, sending you hurdling into the future in a 1984 Datsun coupe. Fans of artists like Cinnamon Chasers or Oliver can find refuge in the romanticized funk-house mastered by Blende. Currently riding the high of the past years success in London, we’re keeping an eager eye out for some US dates so we can see what he is really made of.
James Teej just released a new mix for Okini, titled “Subversive Spectacles of Length and Depth” last week. The title is quite an accurate indicator to what you’re going to hear. What we’re showing you here today is a very special compilation of intertwining streams of music. Teej is an adept house/Minimal music producer and performer, and local hero in the underground scene of Toronto, making him one of the top recording and touring artists signed to My Favorite Robot Records. The winds are picking up in Toronto though, and the seeds to his growth as a musician are taking root in other fields.
This is no ordinary mix ladies and frogs. “Subversive Spectacles of Length and Depth” takes you on very unexpected dive into quicksand, only take away the terror aspect of such an experience. The entire time you’re listening it’s as if you’re perpetually moving forward all the while sinking further into the unknown. If you struggle it pulls you further down, if you remain still you come out alive. Listeners will find reward in beautiful soundscapes, aesthetic grooves, haunting vocals, and a great use of analogue synths over the course of this mix-tape. James Teej may not be your cup of Canadian tea, but the coalescence of emotion and various styles acheived here is pretty impressive.
Late last September James Teej collaborated with Sasse and Phonogenic on the song “Tangential”, released on MFRR, in addition to an accompanying remix. This remix is another testament to his transition into psychedelic terrains. The soft vocals, eerie synthesizers, and the classic Minimal build-ups of triplet high hats puts you on edge. That doesn’t make it a bad song; the track has depth to it. It’s not abrasive, but it leaves you with an overwhelming feeling you can’t put your finger on. It’s the esoteric mystery found in both this remix, and his new mix-tape that make them so unique. James Teej is already a talented performer as seen with his work on MFRR, but this recent jump down the rabbit hole has an endless amount of potential with the technology at hand. No stranger to hard work, his next sonic experiment is sure to pop up soon, and we’re curious to say the least.
Minimal is a genre that we just can’t get enough of it. It’s really quite challenging to produce such music well, and thus a little bold don’t you think? Teej puts a nice spin on it with his previous works. The core of the genre and it’s sub-genres is the progression of a small selection of beats, and using those rhythms as a foundation to build on. Without the cluster of over abundant samples and patches, the artist can focus more on the production of each sound being made and utilized as well. What seems like a small amount of layers, can do huge things. “Big things have small beginnings” right Ridley Scott?
Last weekend will go down as one of the best of 2013, that we can guarantee you. If you weren’t in Philadelphia we assume it’s because a relative died or your girlfriend dumped you and in that case we are sorry for your loss. The 2nd Annual City Bisco took place at the gorgeous Mann Center again, featuring some tremendous performances from The Disco Biscuits and other huge acts. Deathwaltz Media showed the people they listen with this year’s official after parties at the Blockley. Last Friday and Saturday saw the first ever performances from Ichisan in the US, something that community of fans just couldn’t have seen coming. Philadelphia residents Brother’s Past performed their instrumental project BpM, along with performances from Plastic Plates, The Swiss, and Kung Fu, all weaved around multiple sets from the guest of honor. What better than a transition from the intensity of City Bisco to the comforting abyss of Ichisan? If there is such a level of satisfaction, it’s likely found in the solace that everyone else present that night was able to experience it.
When a fan is seeing a musician for the first time, there is a lot at stake. There is faith involved. With those unfamiliar the performance then falls into the category of first impressions, but they all might as well be. Everything is crucial. When you’re the type of listener that avidly views the beat through the frame of a spirited live environment, you’re constantly taking a risk in that pursuit. The risk that the musicians you’ve come wrap every spare moment of your day around can’t even perform their music well. For the followers, well…you may have heard the sermon, but you’ve yet to witness the miracle.
Igor Skafar, aka Ichisan respects that faith. He too had something at stake those two nights. This was a new world, a new audience. For all he knew two of his most dedicated fans lived in the USA and counted 400,000 license plates, 5 states, and 3 different gas pump numbers just to be standing in the Blockley that night. He had a responsibility. Friday night transcended above the shallow dimension of your run of the mill DJ set for a collection of reasons. He wasn’t there so much to put on a show, it was more like he was there to love the music with you. No lights, no effects, no costume, just a simple set of turntables, bare and raw and purely a celebration of music. Both parties were exchanging a huge part of each other in a moment of vulnerability. He and the crowd had no idea what to expect.
After The Disco Biscuits played their last set, and the chaos of exiting an amphitheater parking lot in the middle of Philadelphia was nearing an end, the epic theme of the night’s plot continued to unfold. Nestled in the corner of a weathered subdivision in the city sat The Blockely. Upon entering, Ichisan was just commencing his hour long set. I went in with no expectations being his first US show and my first time seeing him live, but I was instantly welcomed to the warm sounds of sonic bliss that he has come to trademark. Akin to his songs, mixes, and his branded flow, the performance resembled a living organism rather than a series of dance tunes. Each note thrives off the last. They breathe. He starts out with one rhythm and goes from there. A rolling synthesizer segment would begin to ascend, augmenting slightly with each step, then dropping back down low with a filter, then coming back up again with more emphasis and perhaps a new layer. The bass follows, snares roll, the cycle repeats until the sounds have fully evolved and you’re thrown into the eye of the storm. The notes continue to build on top of each other, new layers creeping through, and before you know it you’re already 30 minutes into it.
Ichisan’s compositions build patiently on themes and progressions, something that most electronic music doesn’t focus on, not for an entire mix at least. People tend to pool his style in with disco and house, a comparison that barely scratches the surface. Those labels merely serve as a silhouette. There are characteristics of those genres certainly, but the final product is far more intangible. Instead of fast paced, physically demanding dance beats, you’re being told a story. Ichisan is reading the book out loud, and the listener writes the words with each move made, and each place their mind goes when they hear it. This music plays on the emotion of the listener, whether or not you were feeling the way the artist was, the song put you on that plane. It’s powerful stuff. There were times in the set that seemed like a full throttle dance party. Others seemed like a portal to the deepest parts of your consciousness, coincidentally accompanied by a dance beat. It’s all part of a bigger picture, and that is what makes him so good, because he takes the separation out of the equation. Each track hits a specific part of the “soul”, and never hits the same place twice.
Aside from his seamless jumps from one universe to another, he was mixing live and on the fly. Like a good DJ does he played off the vibe off the crowd, improvising his track selection and mixing in different CD’s as the set moved forward. He did this void of any friction. There wasn’t a single point in the show where I heard a track outside his mix catalog and discography. If you we’re looking for an hour of floor-bangers and chart hits then this might not have been the set for you. He tested the crowd’s musical palette, and with great results. His mixture of “untz” and psychedelic atmospheres was oozing out of the speakers that night and he will surely be missed.
The venue itself didn’t pretend to be anything special. The distractions of art, decor, and glamor were not pressing issues. With nothing to command your attention but the music itself, the quality of his performance ventured further into relevancy. Ichisan delivered more than a satisfactory set. I don’t have any doubt that Saturday night’s performance was anything less. We got to speak after the set and Igor is truly a man of his fans. He was sincerely just as pleased to see his fans as they were to see him, and hopefully that connection will bring him back to US soon. Tits & Acid Reviews would really like to tip our hat to Deathwaltz Media Group as well for booking him in the first place. Til next time folks…