Kittens, have you rocked out recently? Have you raised a glass (or three) of whiskey to your lips and pogo'd yourself sweaty and screamed along to the harmonies you knew and shouted out requests not like a douchebag but like a person who figured that was the best way to let the band know that you love their work and are thankful for what their work has meant to your life and smiled so hard that you didn't even realize how much your jaw hurt when it was suddenly 1:30 AM and the bouncers were kicking you out onto the street with guitar strings and poetry still ringing in your ears? If you haven't, you should. And if John Roderick and his Long Winters aren't the band that would elicit that kind of reaction in you, then find one that will and check for local tour dates on their MySpace page, because, goddamn, you need to feel as good as I felt on Friday night at the Subterranean. It was the kind of good feeling that makes you think irrationally hopeful thoughts about music saving the world one indie rock bacchanal at a time, the kind of good feeling that you can't even quite put your finger on after the fact because you were too busy enjoying it while it swept you up and carried you downstream.
I'd, of course, been looking forward to the Long Winters show for weeks, but idly, not altogether consciously. But when I dialed When I Pretend to Fall up onto my iPod on the way home from work on Friday night and realized, holy shit, it's been well over two years since I've seen these guys in concert but now I'm mere hours away from hearing all my favorite songs live and warm and loud, I got all giddy, all too-excited-to-sleep-
on-the-night-before-your-birthday goofy. And, woof, was I ever rewarded for those years of patience. They played everything I wanted them to play (well, with the notable exception that I don't think they did anything from The Worst You Can Do Is Harm--"Carparts" or "Copernicus" might have been nice), but a rock-fucking-solid representation of stuff from the new one and When I Pretend to Fall. Which is not even to mention, of course, "The Commander Thinks Aloud" (a definite crowd-pleaser in its incredibly poignant way) and set-closer "Ultimatum," in its acoustic ballad incarnation. John joked, "when's the last time you went to a show where the band played an all-request Friday?" and if that really was an all-request set, man, that's a testament to the wisdom of crowds or some shit. Or, a testament to all the hipsters liking the same songs that I do. But, I'd actually prefer to think of it as a testament to this sentiment from John's recent interview in PopMatters:
"[Roderick] claims it’s important part of his music that it 'do work' in other peoples’ lives. 'There are songs out there that make people happy, simple as that, and there are songs that help people to be alright even though they’re sad. I could easily write sad-bastard music all day, featuring one lonely guitar and a glockenspiel, but I choose to make rock music because it’s fun and life-affirming and there are plenty of young, bearded guys in denim jackets to fill the sad music void.'"
Amen to that. Easily one of the best nights out I've had recently. In contrast to the standard issue up-the-nose photo-pit concert pictures, I snagged some bird's-eye view snaps from the upper deck this time 'round; they're posted to my Flickr page.
Openers What Made Milwaukee Famous were fantastic. I'd been especially keen on hearing them after reading a ton of enthustiastic write-ups on the interweb, so I'm glad they lived up to whatever hype I'd attributed to them in my own head. (They're cute as hell, too. Especially the shaggy haired keyboard player who, a propos of pretty much nothing, popped his head out from his stage-right corner, smiled at me and my girls up in the gallery above the stage, then disappeared again to finish the set.) I'm eager to pick up their recently re-released album and eager to try to get "Sweet Lady" out of my head. (Yeah, I'd like to see you try to dig it up after it's been sinking its roots in for four days straight.)
Menomena was interesting, if a bit wanky with the experimental rock. I'm sure they're a fine band and all, but they were pretty much exactly what I was not in the mood for when I came out for a night of feel-good power pop. To their credit, the drummer was really amazing to watch. At one point, he put an old film reel on one of his toms to get kind of a heavier rim sound through the whole song. That was cool. The dream catcher hanging in the hollow of his kick drum, however, was not.
Happy belated birthday to my girl MJ out in Boston, and, for those of you who haven't heard yet, my brother finally got a job--the Beaner is moving to San Francisco!