howling at the moon, nite after nite
This recap is more than a month overdue, so I'll try to be concise.
Let's step into the way-back machine... all the way to July 17th @ the 400 Bar, where I took in a solid Sunday nite of rock & finally got to meet Kyle More Cowbell (who recognized me from my RANA workshirt, duh) in person. Kyle had seen The Wrens the previous nite at the Triple Rock, a show I regrettably missed due to a social engagement & a dog-chasing incident (which is a whole other story). Kyle filled me in some on the show, which was shot as part of the Wrens documentary (though Kathryn Yu was nowhere to be found) & apparently concluded with audience members on stage & wild sh** in general (see the buzzworthy YANP for his take on The Wrens' Intonation performance). And I missed it. Oh well. I did get to see them last year at the the Entry, so I ain't whining (too much, anyway).
MP3 Oxford Collapse - "1991 Kids"
Anyway, on to the show I did go to. I was already familiar with Brooklyn-based openers Oxford Collapse, because I both had their first album Some Wilderness (from which this track comes), and I went to school with a couple of guys in the band. Guitarist Michael Pace was a Gallatin man, while drummer Dan Fetherston slummed it with me over at Tisch, and now they are all Brooklyn residents. I previously posted about these NYU grads back in May 2004, and also included MP3 "Back in Com Again", another Some Wilderness track, in my first (of two) better Propaganda mix last August.
MP3 Oxford Collapse - "The Boys Go Home"
Oxford Collapse released their second full-length A Good Ground (which sports this track) back in mid-July, and I'm still sorting out my thoughts about it (Pace noted that the new disc is supposedly "a grower"). A large majority of their 400 Bar set was (not surprisingly) off that album, and likewise I wasn't entirely sure what to make of its songs (which were very new to me at the time), as they seemed to lack variety of riffs to help support their spazzy post-punk style (albeit more organic & less frenetic than, say, Thunderbirds Are Now!). However, when the guys broke free of the confines of song structure & started to stretch out, I was quite impressed with the band's ability to come together & make cohesive what was otherwise noisy & chaotic. Very nice. MP3's courtesy of Insound.
After kibbitzing a little with the Oxford Collapse guys during the setbreak, I made a beeline for the front of the stage in anticipation of the headlining act, underrated Toronto-based post-punks the Constantines (who I posted about previously in May & August of 2004). I had only seen the band once before, playing an opening set at the Triple Rock back in fall 2003, so I was psyched to see them again as the main attraction. The setlist:
ON 2 U
The Constantines began their set with the first track on their forthcoming Sup Pop release (out 10/11), Tournament of Hearts. It was a perfect opener, the thunderous drum beats & focused build-up of tension setting a brooding-yet-powerful mood. But it's the song's sparseness that is more representative of the new LP. I need to give Tournament of Hearts further listening time, but thus far I can't help but be wee bit disappointed with its more low-key tone that loses some of the balls-out dense-yet-melodic fierocity of their previous records (see MP3 "Nighttime / Anytime It's Allright"). Despite my hesitation with the new album, the Constantines were plenty fierce throughout their 400 Bar appearance, despite what they regarded as a fairly subdued crowd (hey, it was Sunday nite).
The band seemed to be in a fairly cheery mood, asking the audience for a waterpark recommendation since the two bands were going to be heading back east through the Wisconsin Dells (we told them to hit Noah's Ark, natch), and hoarse-voiced frontman Bry Webb pondering out louf how he got to be the band's defacto talker (dude, you're the lead singer). Older tunes, such as MP3 "Arizona" from the Constantines' 2001 self-titled debut, were played alongside the newer material, along with an Elevator To Hell cover ("Why I Didn't Like August '93") that the band also recorded for a compilation cd that accompanied the June/July issue of The Believer.
MP3 The Constantines - "On To You"
Tournament of Hearts deserves more of my patience, seeing as their previous LP, Shine A Light, started off as a moderately received Pitchfork recommendation & eventually ended up as my #2 album of 2003. This for-the-lovers song slowly became one of my favorite Shine A Light tracks, finding itself on more than a few mix cd's a year or two ago. What it may lack in punkishness, "On To You" more than makes up for in earnestness, sweeping melodies & airy, upbeat bounciness - not what you might expect.
Elsewhere, Sean at Said The Gramophone posted another track from Tournament of Hearts & WCS&MAAA reported on the Constantines/Oxford Collapse show at Madison WI's High Noon Saloon. The Constantines will be coming back to Mpls this fall, supporting local-by-way-of-Brooklyn faves The Hold Steady with a Mischief Night (10/30) double-bill at First Avenue.
And at long last, this recap is finally done. So much for concision.