Posts Tagged ‘Rock’

Elliot Street Lunatic tour blog Part 5: Toledo, Ohio and back home to Lansing

Elliot Street Lunatic performed at the Ottawa Tavern in Toledo, OH.

We arrived in Toledo, Ohio at about 2pm after a long night driving through Illinois and Ohio after the show at Reggie’s Music Joint in Chicago. Seemingly arriving in Toledo extremely early, we were bored with nothing to do. We wandered around the city looking for a place to chill and relax but no luck. We went back to the Ottawa Tavern and sat in front of it for a while, chilling and watching Dragonball Z Kai. It’s been a long tour, and by now, the exhaustion has set in with all of us.

Caleb Knight (left, drums) has been playing with Elliot Street Lunatic since the beginning of the year. This show was the first time he has played in Toledo.

Later on, after more killing time, the show finally began at about 11pm with Elliot Street Lunatic. The band, tired like the rest of us, still played an excellent, energetic set although the bar patrons seemed a bit indifferent to them (and the other bands as well). It was definitely a fun show though and reminded us all of what was to come at their show in Lansing. The Toledo show was a warm up for both ESL and the Cutthroat Drifters.

With only three bands, the show would have seemed to go by quickly but it really felt slow and dragged on. Being in Toledo for that long with nothing to do took a toll on us all. The car ride home was a tiring but rewarding one: we were all finally home in Michigan.

Tonight is Elliot Street Lunatic’s return home show with some great bands including The Cutthroat Drifters and Commodore Cosmos.

Elliot Street Lunatic tour blog part 4: Iowa City and Chicago (Days 1 and 2)

Tuesday May 15, 2012 – Iowa City, IA

 

The entrance to Gabe’s. Along with local bands, the venue also brings in nationally-known punk and indie bands.

Tours have their ups and downs. Some shows are great (like in Lincoln) and some shows are not-so-great (like in Iowa City). We rolled up to Gabe’s, which has a lot of pretty big bands roll through, especially punk bands. The Dear Hunter played the venue a couple of weeks ago and one of the locals that played Tuesday’s show opened for them. The show finally started around 9 with the Cutthroat Drifters. As the night wore on and ESL took the stage, a few people walked in a little after their set began. The local bands, Chasing Shade and Zeta June played long sets (which we didn’t expect) and, although they were good sets, they play for a very long time. They did manage to bring some people out though, which was good.

After the long night at Gabe’s (which we hope to be back to soon), we crashed hard at our hotel. Now, we’re on the road to Chicago for an eventful two days. ESL have a radio interview with Fearless Radio and a full band open mic at The Elbow Room. The following night, ESL plays at Reggie’s Music Joint. Looking forward to that.

Wednesday May 16, 2012 – The Elbow Room

We arrived in Chicago just in time for the band’s interview on Fearless Radio. The band’s interview was really good. They were asked great questions and even got a question from a listener in the UK. That was definitely a pleasant surprise. The interview will be online on the Fearless radio website.

Once we met up with their friend Parker (who let the band store their gear in a friend’s practice space), we went to get pizza (again). After some chilling around the city, we headed to the Elbow Room for the band’s open mic. There was a pretty decent crowd and they reacted well to the songs of both ESL and The Cutthroat Drifters. My cousin Chris came out to the show and bought a CD from ESL. The band played great and worked out their songs live even more. We all did a bit of networking at the show too, which is always good to do.

ESL played at The Elbow Room at the full-band Open Mic on Wednesday May 16.

Thursday May 17, 2012 – Reggie’s Music Joint

The next night at Reggie’s was excellent. The crowd was small but the bands were awesome. Alar Wave, who played after The Cutthroat Drifters, were a two piece (acoustic guitar and bass) that really reminded me of Andrew Jackson Jihad. The Chicago band killed their set and kept warming up the crowd. I would definitely see them again in Chicago when I go back.

Chicago band Alar Wave played second, after The Cutthroat Drifters. They play as a duo with Gerard Pannekoek (acoustic guitar, vocals) and Alex Sisto (bass, vocals).

ESL took the stage played the best show of the tour so far. The band were on and super tight. It was a great show for sure.

The Cutthroat Drifters opened the show at Reggie's Music Joint in downtown Chicago.

Elliot Street Lunatic performed at Reggie's Music Joint on Thursday May 18, 2012.

The following band, This Magazine Is Haunted, were awesome too. Playing a brand of power pop like The Lemonheads or The Replacements, they played an excellent set. I loved everyone of their songs. It was too bad they didn’t have any CDs on hand as I would’ve definitely bought one. They said they only play gigs about once a month or so. Hopefully I’ll see them again too.

As I type this in Toledo, Ohio’s Ottawa Tavern, we’re waiting for the show to start. We rolled into Toledo at about 2pm and have had almost nothing to do. Luckily we have each other to keep each other entertained. Tomorrow’s show in Lansing will be great. It will be great to be home. I (and the rest of us) can’t wait.

 

Elliot Street Lunatic tour blog part 3: Good luck and good people in Lincoln, Nebraska

ESL played a last minute show at the Zoo Bar in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska.

Some things just work out. Elliot Street Lunatic and the Cutthroat Drifters were expecting to play the Bourbon Theater in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. Two hours before the band were due to load in at the venue, Jason received an email saying the show was canceled. We were all devastated. The Bourbon Theater show promoter got in touch with Jason and scrambled for a show in Lincoln. The band got a break when they were offered a show at the Zoo Bar in downtown Lincoln. The band, with nothing else to do, took the show. The bartender said the band needed to draw at least 25 people to the bar in order to play. As we sat in Brothers bar across the street, we sat wondering how we would accomplish this task. The Cutthroat Drifters’ singer Nick Kjolhede, came up with a (what we all thought) was a crazy idea: take the band’s acoustic guitars and try to get people out to the show. With nothing else to lose, the bands took the task. We spent the greater part of two hours talking to people, asking them to come out to the show. By just talking and striking up a conversation, we managed to get almost 30 or 40 people out to the show.

Nick Kjolhede, singer for the Cutthroat Drifters, singing at the Zoo Bar in Lincoln, Nebraska. The crowd enjoyed both Elliot Street Lunatic and The Cutthroat Drifters.

The efforts of Caleb Knight, ESL’s drummer, and Nick Kjolhede made the night worth while. Caleb and Nick inspired the rest of us to push the show to be the best it could be considering the circumstances. It was all about making the best of bad luck. All about the love of music and putting on a great show. Sometimes when you’ve got nothing to lose, you take a chance. Maybe the people you approach won’t go to the show but by at least approaching them about it and letting them know is better than doing nothing. We were all glad the show worked out. The bartender, at first, seemed like he didn’t want the bands there but once the bands took the stage and played, people filtered in, and by the end of the night, they were overjoyed at how well this last minute show went.

After this inspiring night, we head to Iowa City to play at Gabe’s with locals Chasing Shade and Zeta June. We’re all pumped and ready to go for the rest of the tour.

Elliot Street Lunatic tour blog Part 2: ESL at Bender’s Tavern

Bender’s Tavern, in downtown Denver, was host to Elliot Street Lunatic’s tour kickoff on Saturday May 12. The bill was certainly one I wouldn’t expect ESL to play on. Hard rock and death metal opened and closed the show last night with bands like MF Ruckus and The Hookers playing along with ESL and the Cutthroat Drifters.

Josh and Caleb waiting in Bender's Tavern green room for their set to begin

The venue was really similar to Mac’s Bar in Lansing. In the green room, graffiti and band stickers covered the walls. Most of the bands with stickers on the walls I’d never heard of (and almost all of the band names were terrible too). Caleb, the band’s drummer, who, at 19 years old, was not allowed in the bar area of the venue so he had to wait in the green room before and after ESL played. Also interesting was the building itself: there were two rooms with two completely different shows going on. On one side, the ESL show with tables and a risen stage. On the other was a traditional country band, which actually felt more like a restaurant than a bar.  That was pretty neat.

I missed the first band and I didn’t really care that I did. ESL went on second.  The crowd, oddly and surprisingly consisted of a lot of Michigan friends of theirs, which was a nice surprise for them. Josh, the bassist, was even surprised with a visit from his friend Rachel. It felt like a local show in a way. The venue had the Mac’s Bar feel (but a lot more divey and scumey if you can believe that) and ESL felt at home playing Bender’s Tavern.

Eric and Jason playing during their set at Bender's Tavern on Saturday May 12.

Time seemed to move slowly during their set. The whole 20+ hour drive to Denver, the exhaustion, lack of sleep and gas station diets led to the show. They put a lot of their energy into trying to please the somewhat sparse crowd (maybe 30-40 people were there) and they seemed to do a good job. Opening with a cover of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles, it seemed appropriate for the hard rock crowd. Playing originals like new song “Illuminate” (which is my new favorite song of theirs), Ghost Town, This Modern World and Lullaby went over well with the crowd. They turned some of the crowd into new fans, as some later bought CDs and T-shirts.

Josh playing bass during ESL's set

The Cutthroat Drifters put on a good set of hard rock and roll. Singer Nick Kjolhede is a great frontman, dancing and swinging the mic around like he’s dancing with it. Bands like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin influenced this band for sure. They play their instruments well and with energy. The guitar play is very good, playing licks and running up and down the guitar. Their show was a good time.

Today (Sunday May 13) is a chilled out day for all of us. Cookout, beer tunes via the record player will make for a good, relaxing day. Tomorrow morning will be the start of a week of shows, beginning in Lincoln Nebraska at the Bourbon Theater.

Elliot Street Lunatic tour blog Part 1: Midland to Denver

Elliot Street Lunatic kicked off their tour in Midland, MI at the Tiz-It bar.

This blog started being written at about 10:30 am on some never-ending highway in Iowa, just outside of Iowa City on our way to Denver, Colorado. Last night’s show in Midland at the Tiz-It Bar (which I first thought sounded like the name of a strip club) was at least good for the gas money. The band played well to a small but enthusiastic crowd of locals. We arrived at the bar a little late (as the bar staff was saying) but after the band setup, they ran through their set in an almost practice-like fashion. Don’t get me wrong, they played the hell out of their songs but it felt a bit odd as everyone watching was sitting down (myself included) and it just didn’t feel like a “show” to me but more like a rehearsal for their shows later in the week. They even busted out their cover of “Sgt. Peppers” by The Beatles. Surprisingly, the crowd, consisting of older folks and your stereotypical bar-goers, enjoyed the band’s set and was screaming for more by its end. There were even some girls dancing to their music.

Killer Kong, the hometown band, killed it with an excellent set of power trio-style rock and roll. They’re like, as Jason puts it, “if The Rival were more ’60s influenced”. That’s a perfect description. Loud and abrasive but with a backbone of a bass and loud drums and dog-off-his-leash guitar, the band knows how to put on a show. The show was an unexpected success for both bands and was an excellent start to the tour.

The drives through Iowa and Nebraska were largely uneventful. Lots of Benadryl-induced sleeping and lots of listening to the (maybe) five radio stations available out in the middle of nowhere. A sign we saw at a gas station said “You Are Nowhere”. This sign, a small sign we almost didn’t see, encompassed our thoughts on the long, monotonous drive. It didn’t dampen our spirits though; it in fact made us even more eager to get to Denver.

We finally rolled into Denver at about 8pm Mountain time (10pm Eastern time, which we’re all used to). We stopped by the practice space of ESL’s tourmates, the Cutthroat Drifters, and watched them practice after we loaded their gear into the Drifters’ practice space. I currently write this at former ESL drummer CJ Kjohede’s apartment in Denver. It’s currently 2:44am (Denver time). We’re all exhausted but not even ready to get to bed. We’re all excited for the show at Bender’s tomorrow and the next week of shows. It’s going to be an awesome time.

Alco “Self-Titled” review

Sometimes a band with obvious influences gets pigeon-holed into being a “rip off” of their influences. Lansing’s Alco, who recently played their farewell show and no longer exist as a band, went out with a somewhat sonically familiar bang with their self-titled album.

I say “sonically familiar” for a couple reasons. Singer and piano player Justin Franks has a voice really reminiscent of Thom Yorke and/or Matt Bellamy from Muse. On “Someone Like You”, he croons out the chorus in a delicate, harmonious manner. He hits the high notes with ease. He also has an incredible piano playing ability. During the introduction of “Amnesia”, he brings about a classical-meets-rock piano playing style that seems a bit like Muse virtuoso Bellamy. Heck, the whole song has a Muse vibe.

The songs have an atmospheric and, at times, epic feel to them a la Coldplay or (again) Muse. I said earlier a band such as Alco, with their influences being warn essentially on their sleeves, makes it hard for the listener not to pigeonhole them. It’s not a bad thing in this case. Alco do a great job playing the kind of music they play. I love the energy they bring to their songs. They love what they do and it’s pretty obvious.

Guitar playing, courtesy of Shaun Spivak, is minimal and crisp, adding another ambient layer. Chapman stick player Chris Wood adds more ambiance with his playing as well. Jeff Twomley’s drumming is to the point and on time. No unnecessary fills and no going crazy. He does what needs to be done and that’s it. I love the cello playing courtesy of Jacqueline Douches. Instead of a bass, this is an interesting sight to see when they play live. On “Poisoning the Well”, her cello playing is heard loud and clear.

“Poisoning the Well” is the album’s standout song. Featuring a high-hat heavy drum beat via Twomley, Franks belts out a huge chorus and croons during the verses. The guitar line is catchy and adds a bit of subtly with the bends. I like it. Great song from this great group of musicians.

If you like the ambiance of Coldplay and/or the epic rock of Muse, check out their album. If there’s any album that was a final swansong for a band, this is definitely a great choice.

Music of Mount Pleasant: Joe Hertler

We’re back with more Mount Pleasant music coverage…This time covering Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers

Photo credit to Victoria Zegler

In the last couple of years, Joe Hertler and the band have expanded their locales to include Lansing as well but their roots in Mount Pleasant will never go away. Hertler, a student at Central Michigan University, began playing open mics at Kaya Coffeehouse a few years ago and hasn’t looked back. Releasing “The Hard Times LP” by himself on bandcamp, he garnered praise for his unique voice, honesty and energy in his music. Hertler now plays with a band, the Rainbow Seekers, who compliment and expand exponentially upon his energy. Their live show, comprised of singalongs and loud yet delicate instrumentation, is something to be seen to be believed. The band released “On Being” last year to praise around the state. The band even played a CMJ Showcase show in Brooklyn, NY last year.

  • Catch Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers with Elliot Street Lunatic at Rubble’s Bar on Saturday April 14. More information on ticket prices and age limit soon.

Music of Mount Pleasant: Newday Dreamers

So, I (Sean) have been in Mount Pleasant going to school at CMU since last August. In my time here, I’ve discovered a few great bands worth talking about. Mount Pleasant isn’t a town to sleep on. Although the scene may be small, it has some great artists and musicians. I’ll be doing a weekly series profiling local musicians here.

First up is Newday Dreamers.

The band is: Micah Bracken, Cody Armstrong, Ryan Heisler and (recently added member) Adam Marth.

Forming in 2008, the band has been making more waves in the last couple years. They played Mount Pleasant festival Midwest Fest last year at Rubble’s Bar. They’ve also played countless gigs at Rubble’s as well as Kaya Coffeehouse and Tea Co. With a sound encompassing indie pop and rock, the band can pull off a slower song but can also crank it into high gear. They played the 2012 edition of the Middle of the Mitten showcase and, at another show, an entire set of Talking Heads songs in East Lansing recently. Their song, “Cars”, is an excellent example of their technicality and skill as songwriters as well. The band have been playing more and more gigs outside of Mount Pleasant at places like Mac’s Bar in Lansing and even playing a gig soon down in Ypsilanti at Woodruff’s Bar. “Cars” is also in rotation on 91.5 FM in Mount Pleasant and 88.9 The Impact in Lansing as well. Expect great things from this band in the future.

Check them out on Facebook, Tumblr and Bandcamp.

Cheap Girls “Giant Orange” review

Cheap Girls released their newest album, “Giant Orange”, in February on Rise Records. Here’s a review of the album, also available to read via Central Michigan Life.

The third time seems to be the charm for Lansing’s Cheap Girls, releasing their newest record “Giant Orange” on Rise Records in February. Using that phrase, “third time’s a charm,” implies they missed the mark on their first two albums, 2008′s “Find Me a Drink Home” (Quote Unquote records) and 2009′s “My Roaring 20s” (Paper and Plastick records), but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Produced by Tom Gabel, frontman of Florida punk band Against Me!, immediately makes a difference on the band’s signature brand of power-pop. On their first two albums, everything about the music sounds a bit flat in comparison to the recordings on this new effort. On “Communication Blues,” guitarist Adam Aymor uses power chords to his advantage. The single note crawl heard throughout the song sounds just as crunchy as the power chord barrages during the choruses. Every guitar riff on the album sounds crisp, loud and heavy like a bag of bricks.

The rhythm section, via brothers Ben Graham (drums/backing vocals) and Ian Graham (lead vocals/bass), is incredibly tight and efficient. Ben uses each hit to push the song forward to its natural conclusion. The cymbals sound fresh and inviting, and the kick drum and snare add a subtle but powerful punch. The bass is a little low in the mix for my tastes. It’s there, but it’s sneaky — pretty swallowed up by the guitars.

Wordsmith Ian Graham uses a bit too many on this album. On previous efforts, Graham wrote a lot of shorter verses with shout along choruses that are a blast to belt away to live. Here, the lyrics can be quite a mouthful. The chorus for opener “Gone All Summer” is “I’ve been gone all summer and I think it’s for the great good.” Not necessarily a bad thing, but different from Ian’s previous lyrics, which takes a bit of getting used to. I’ve been listening to the album non-stop for a little more than a week and still don’t have all the lyrics memorized. I will soon though.

All in all, Gabel’s production brings out the best in the power trio. Aymor’s guitar sounds incredibly powerful and is a perfect transition to what they sound like live. The rhythm section is extremely tight, yet has a natural swagger. Ian’s bass is quiet, almost too much so, but it works. His lyrics are a little wordy, but worth the multiple listens to decipher. I highly recommend this.

LMTV interview with Opeth’s Fredrik Akesson

Lansingmusic.TV’s Sean Bradley talked with Opeth guitarist Fredrik Akesson before their show in Detroit at St. Andrew’s Hall on Saturday Oct. 29.

We talked about Heritage, his role in the band after 4 years in the band and more!

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