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Laura Hamlett | Live Shows

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eddieIf you thought the album was a hoot, the live show's a hoot and a half. In person, Eddie Argos is more used car salesman than rock 'n' roll front man, but somehow, it works.

 

 

 

 

tommykeene
Tommy Keene at Schuba's [photo: Jim Dunn]

1. The PLAYBACK:stl showcase @ South Park Saloon, South Park Music Festival featuring Extra Blue Kind, Gooding, Geoff Koch, and Jason Michael Thomas | 09.09.06

I wasn't even drinking, yet I stood in front all night, grinning like an idiot. This is why I do it: Run a magazine, work all the time, book shows, and tell the world about the music that matters to me. Even with the altitude, these bands were on. You really should have been there.

2. OK Go @ Dirty Dog Bar, South by Southwest | 03.17.06

It was St. Patty's Day, and Damian Kulash was a little drunk. Well, maybe more than a little. Even with the tight timeframe imposed by SXSW, he stopped the show twice for alcohol: once to send someone to the bar for him, and once to check on her progress. Still, the packed crowd was more than enthusiastic and the band played with abandon on the tiny stage. It was my 13th time seeing the guys but definitely one of the most memorable.

3. Silversun Pickups @ Vogue, Midwest Music Summit | 08.10.06

It was opening night at MMS, and we were running from venue to venue. We were a bit late for Silversun Pickups' crazily early set, but they were on fire. Unlike last year's opening night, tonight the Vogue was packed and enthusiastic. And we were so happy to be there.

4. Blue October @ Mississippi Nights, St. Louis | 03.25.06

Despite the high quality of its recordings, Blue October's a live band. You have simply got to see Justin Furstenfeld to appreciate the intensity this man brings to his art. This night, unfortunately, he seemed distracted, edgy. To his credit, though, the show was still amazing. He puts so much into the delivery of his extremely personal lyrics, and his band more than capably builds the sound around him. Having People in Planes on the bill made the show even nicer.

5. Bluebottle Kiss @ The Drink, South by Southwest | 03.15.06

I had been waiting four years to see this Australian band. The sound wasn't that great, and the band wasn't fully gelled...and I was still bowled over. The two U.S. releases I'd had to date were intricate yet quiet, reflective and enrapturing. Live, they were truly a rock band. I could have watched them all night. (As it was, I had to settle for their official 30-minute set and then catch two unofficial shows.)

6. Tommy Keene @ Schuba's, Chicago | 06.22.06

Every time there's a new Tommy Keene album, I'm relieved. Never mind the fact that nothing, to me, has lived up to the perfection that was 1986's Songs From the Film. It's still Keene's voice, words, and awe-inspiring guitar work. A live show's even rarer; Keene just doesn't play out very often. The fact that his "secret" guest was Bob Pollard's band-Keene is Pollard's touring guitarist/keyboardist, and also collaborated on a forthcoming Keene Brothers disc with the former GBV front man-ensured that the small Chicago bar was packed, albeit uncomfortably so. Still, Keene looked and sounded great.

7. Semi Precious Weapons @ Cicero's, St. Louis | 06.27.06

The crowd was small but it didn't matter. Those of us there for this NYC glam-garage band's STL debut were in for something unforgettable. Justin Trantner is the perfect androgynous front person, campy and insulting and sarcastic and hilarious. This would get old if his voice wasn't fabulous, and if his band didn't throw down some serious licks. They're tight, and they're on their way up. We're still talking about it.

8. Helen Stellar @ Cicero's, St. Louis | 06.28.06

Two nights in a row at the same venue; sometimes I book 'em good. We'd been following this L.A. by way of Chicago shoegaze trio since we began the magazine; we seized the opportunity to bring them to town. For 45 minutes, the small rock club became a trance-inducing show of light and sound; it was fully captivating. The fact that success hasn't reached these guys yet is a travesty.

9. Art Brut @ The Parish, South by Southwest | 03.15.06

If you thought the album was a hoot, the live show's a hoot and a half. In person, Eddie Argos is more used car salesman than rock 'n' roll front man, but somehow, it works. His band's all glam and glitz, and talented musicians on top of it all. Argos is confidently self-deprecating, awkward yet fully in command. You won't even mind that it all began at art school; you'll just enjoy yourself.

10. The Frames @ Lollapalooza | 08.06.06

This one shouldn't count, because I wasn't actually there. But it was broadcast live via AT&T and I took the opportunity to watch in the corner of my screen. The Frames are always an amazing live act (really, Anti-, a live DVD would be well worth my money), incredible musicians who play with fury and heart. And front man Glen Hansard is more than a little bit charming. During a sing-along, when he pantomimed dialing the telephone and said, "Hello, Mum? Mum, we're in America, in Chicago, and...Mum? They're all singing my song," I almost lost it. | Laura Hamlett

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