Rodrigo y Gabriela Concert Review, Summerfest

(Video and tour dates included) Rodrigo y Gabriela is elusive. They don’t tour the States often, spending most of their time overseas. So when the opportunity presented itself to take a 90-mile drive to Milwaukee to go see them, it was an easy decision. Past Six Flags Great America, past the Mars Cheese Castle, the porn shop and the fireworks stands, and $15 later, five Sound Citizens were standing on bleachers, four rows from center stage.

gabhornsFor those of you who do not yet know Rodrigo y Gabriela (Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero), the short version goes like this: They met in a thrash metal band in Mexico City, made their way to Grafton Street in Ireland and got discovered by Damien Rice. But somewhere along the way they morphed into world-class musicians, blending metal with classical Spanish guitar, resulting in a self-titled album that entered the Irish album charts at #1. From there they got stronger. And they continue to develop, which is one of the exciting parts of seeing them live – you get the sense that they’re growing before your eyes and ears.

I could attempt to explain their style, but I wouldn’t do it justice. I’ll just say this: it’s something you will have a hard time not being mesmerized by. Watch the video and you’ll see.

Rodrigo y Gabriela is also inspiring, evidenced by crowd. While it was mixed, it was decidedly a young group. While unexpected, I’m more than pleased that so many young people are so excited about this style of music. Hopefully, this show will go a long way to spawning a new generation of worldly musicians.

We didn’t buy tickets two months in advance, we didn’t wait in line and we didn’t have to stand behind thousands of people. It doesn’t seem fair. Thankfully, life isn’t always fair.

Rodrigo y Gabriela will release their latest album “11:11” on September 7, 2009. They will also go on tour. Although the majority of their shows are in Europe, they will play five dates in the U.S. Tour dates are at the bottom of this post, and tickets are available through the Rodrigo y Gabriela website.

Below are two videos. The first is a compilation of various songs throughout the show, including “Orion,” “Diablo Rojo” and “Tamacun.” The second video is a clip of Rodrigo playing some “Master of Puppets” and demonstrating a new sound he’s been working on – acoustic wa-wa. Pay attention to the screen behind them. It’s live video from small cameras mounted in front of them and on Rodrigo’s guitar. If it’s a little shaky, that’s because people (like me) were dancing on the bleachers.


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Jul 4 2009 8:00P Rock Werchter (Main stage) Werchter, Belgium
Jul 5 2009 8:00P Eurockeennes (Main stage) Belfort, France
Jul 15 2009 8:00P Jazz Festival Gent, Belgium
Jul 17 2009 8:00P Festival Les Suds (Old Arena) Arles, France
Jul 19 2009 8:00P Lovebox ( 2nd stage), Victoria Park, Hackney London, UK
Jul 21 2009 8:00P Blue Balls Festival Lucerne, Switzerland
Jul 23 2009 8:00P Paleo Festival (Chapiteau Stage) Nyon, Switzerland
Jul 24 2009 8:00P Les 3 Elephants Festival (Main Stage) Laval, France
Jul 26 2009 8:00P Secret Garden Party (Main stage) Cambridge, UK
Jul 28 2009 8:00P Dolans Warehouse Limerick, Ireland
Jul 29 2009 8:00P School of Music Cork, Ireland
Aug 1 2009 8:00P Presqu’ile de Crozon Festival Crozon, France
Sep 4 2009 8:00P Electric Picnic Festival, Stradbally Laois, Ireland
Sep 16 2009 8:00P Terminal 5 NY, New York
Sep 19 2009 8:00P Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre Denver, Colorado
Sep 21 2009 8:00P Moore Theatre Seattle, Washington
Sep 23 2009 8:00P Fox Theatre Oakland, California
Sep 25 2009 8:00P Orpheum Theatre Los Angeles, California

Fans and Colleagues Remember Michael Jackson

mjartIn the fifth grade, I wore a one glove to school for a solid week. In the summer. And I lived in New Orleans. I wanted one of those zipper-laden jackets so bad, but they were expensive. So I rolled up the sleeves on my Members Only jacket, so everyone could see my glove instead. Michael Jackson became a part of me, just like he did with millions of others around the globe.

Thriller became the best-selling album of all time, and produced seven number one hits. The Thriller video turned music videos into an art form and upped the ante for every video production to follow. The moonwalk solidified his status as a world-class performer and turned Michael Jackson into a pop-culture god.

Michael Jackson authored “We are the World,” a humanitarian sensation that set the bar for every music benefit that has ever followed. He expressed his compassion, understanding and frustration of the human condition with “Black or White,” and “Man in the Mirror,” among other titles.

Michael Jackson’s impact was felt deep in the music industry too. He introduced introduced legions of new fans to Motown. He even headed the Recording Industry Association of America at one time.

No matter what anyone thinks about Michael Jackson the man, his impact as an entertainer, a musician and a music icon cannot be denied. His fame spanned the globe and his music reached more people than ever before, or ever after.

The closest I ever came to Michael Jackson was his exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (he came in at #4 on our list). But like many others, I still felt like he was a part of my childhood and my makeup as a music fan.

Twitter exploded with the news of Michael Jackson’s death on Thursday, June 25, 2009. It’s where many fans expressed their thoughts and memories of The King of Pop. Below are some eulogies from fans and colleagues. Leave a comment below to share your own thoughts.

LudaJuice: (rapper Ludacris) If it were not for Micheal Jackson I would not be where or who I am today. His Music and Legacy will live on Forever. Prayers to the fam R.I.P.

SnoopDogg: Rip Mj gotta show you some love…blazzn live on ustream
Snoop streamed video of himself paying tribute to Michael Jackson, in his own way.

MCHammer: I will be mourning my friend , brother, mentor and inspiration. He gave me and my family hope. I would never have been me without him.

JesseJstreet: Still in shock over MJ, despite all of his troubles, I have been and always will be a big fan of his music. Lots of childhood memories.

ChrisBlake: 1st heard Billie Jean in 5th grade. I had a big portable headphone radio that I shared with a classmate so she could hear too.

SolangeKnowles: I honestly don’t think I can handle this right now. Why does it feel like family? My heart is really hurting.

QtipTheAbstract: (Q-Tip) no one better than brotha mike ..

BritneySpears: He was a wonderful man and will be greatly missed. -Britney

SoSoulfull: crying and listening to ‘Gone Too Soon’ by Michael Jackson

Amanda8Murphy: In shock! 2 legends gone. Farrah struggled always to be herself. Michael Jackson struggled always to be someone else. Oh wow…

LilyRoseAllen: (Lily Allen) No fucking way

pandora_radio We’re not getting much work done over here. Standing around talking about Michael Jackson and feeling shocked.

RadioMilwaukee: I have to say, I’m truly amazed by all the love for Michael Jackson on twitter. That shows the impact of the man and his music.

Pete Yorn’s New Album and Tour Dates

Mr. Sensitive himself, Pete Yorn

Pete Yorn just released Back & Fourth – the fourth of his studio albums (get it?), and the first since 2006’s Nightcrawler. You might think that a good three years would produce something significant. But so far, that doesn’t appear to be the case. In fact, it seems like the longer Pete Yorn makes music, the worse off he is. After his breakthrough album musicforthemorningafter, he enjoyed the wave of success but record sales have dwindled ever since and reviews have become progressively worse. I’d be surprised if the downward spiral didn’t continue – despite Yorn’s aggressive summer tour schedule.

UPDATE: We took in Yorn’s Chicago tour. Read the Pete Yorn concert review, complete with live video!

It’s not that Yorn isn’t talented, he’s shown promise in the past and his music is technically sound. It’s just that – using his own song title from the new album – “Long Time Nothing New.” Perhaps we’re a little biased toward rock music around here, but this record feels like over-chewed bubblegum pop. And maybe that would be easier to swallow if it didn’t sound just like everything else he’s put out and worse – something you can hear from hundreds of other so-called crooners. The songs are melodic and tight, and many will appreciate that it’s very easy to listen to. Back & Fourth does sound like it was put together with great care, and maybe it’s one of those albums that gets better the more you hear it. But after a few sessions listening cover to cover, I’m bored. And, call me old-fashioned, but this lyric from “Social Development Dance” just makes me cringe:

I tried to find out what had happened to you,
I Googled you in quotes – got no results

Anyway, you can hear the entire album on Pete Yorn’s MySpace page for a limited time.

And below are Pete Yorn’s 2009 tour dates.

Jun 24 2009 8:00P The Roxy Theatre West Hollywood, California
Jul 9 2009 7:00P House of Blues San Diego San Diego, California
Jul 10 2009 7:00P House of Blues Anaheim Anaheim, California
Jul 11 2009 7:00P Rialto Theatre Tucson, Arizona
Jul 13 2009 7:00P La Zona Rosa Austin, Texas
Jul 14 2009 7:00P The Meridian Houston, Texas
Jul 16 2009 7:00P Cannery Ballroom Nashville, Tennessee
Jul 17 2009 7:00P CW Center Stage Atlanta, Georgia
Jul 20 2009 7:00P 9:30 Club Washington DC
Jul 21 2009 7:00P Rams Head Live Baltimore, Maryland
Jul 24 2009 8:00P Wellmont Theatre Montclair, New Jersey
Jul 25 2009 7:00P Wiggins Waterfront Park Camden, New Jersey
Jul 26 2009 7:00P House of Blues – Boston Boston, Massachusetts
Jul 28 2009 7:00P Webster Hall New York, New York
Jul 29 2009 7:00P Webster Hall New York, New York
Aug 2 2009 7:00P Clutch Cargos Pontiac, Michigan
Aug 3 2009 7:00P Park West Chicago, Illinois
Aug 4 2009 7:00P Park West Chicago, Illinois
Aug 7 2009 7:00P Harrah’s – Voodoo Lounge Kansas City, Missouri
Aug 8 2009 7:00P Whiskey Roadhouse at Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs, Iowa
Aug 9 2009 7:00P The Pageant St. Louis, Missouri
Aug 12 2009 7:00P Fine Line Music Cafe Minneapolis, Minnesota
Aug 13 2009 7:00P Fine Line Music Cafe Minneapolis, Minnesota
Aug 15 2009 7:00P Ogden Theatre Denver, Colorado
Aug 16 2009 7:00P Murray Theater Salt Lake City, Utah
Aug 19 2009 7:00P Showbox at the Market Seattle, Washington
Aug 22 2009 7:00P Roseland Theater Portland, Oregon
Aug 24 2009 7:00P The Fillmore San Francisco, California
Aug 27 2009 7:00P Henry Fonda Theatre Los Angeles, California
Aug 28 2009 7:00P Henry Fonda Theatre Los Angeles, California

Thao and The Get Down Stay Down

thaoChicago’s Ribfest attracts thousands of people each year over the course of a couple of days. Mostly because of the selection of ribs from many of the city’s barbeque joints. And the beer. But it also hosts a collection of bands that play throughout the day and night. If you stick around long enough and pull your head out of a plate of ribs every now and then, you can find a hidden gem. Such was the case this year, when I came across Thao and The Get Down Stay Down. Wikipedia tells me that they started in Falls Church, Virginia (near D.C.) and have since relocated to San Francisco.

Thao Nguyen brings a unique style to the stage. Her voice has a little Bjork in it and a touch of Feist, but she plays her songs aggressively and with her whole body. She can jam on that guitar – she started playing when she was twelve. Her songs have a definite poppy feel, but there’s also a decidedly rock undertone and attitude. I feel a little PJ Harvey as well, but much less macabre. Thao and The Get Down Stay Down are downright catchy. Her lyrics are interesting and she has a way of accentuating certain words, while pausing in the middle of other words to carry the rhythm throughout. She seems like a cool, down-to-earth person too. (Read an interview with Thao Nguyen and see some of her podcast as she answers questions from fans.)

I could see Thao and The Get Down Stay Down going places. From what I understand, some of her music has already been featured in a television commercial. I wouldn’t be surprised if that trend continued, or to hear them on a movie soundtrack or two.

Anyway, have a listen. Below are two videos taken from her performance on June 13, 2009. Below that is a video of what is her most popular song to date, “Bag of Hammers.” And below that are her remaining tour dates.




July 9, 2009       Harison Opera House                            Richmond, VA
July 10, 2009     The National                                            Richmond, VA
July 11, 2009      Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre      Roanoke, VA
July 25, 2009     Sawtooth Music Festival                       Stanley, ID
Sept. 12, 2009    Monolith Festival                                   Morrison, CO

White Stripes Reunion in the Works

jackandmegThe stars seem to be aligning for a White Stripes reunion. Amid Jack White’s many projects (including The Dead Weather and It Might Get Loud), there may be room for more. Let’s have a look at the clues to the White Stripes mystery.

  • There was the brief (and slightly disastrous) reunion for friend Conan O’Brien’s last Late Night show.  It was framed as a favor for O’Brien, but it was a new start for the duo.
  • In May, Jack White leaked some details about a forthcoming White Stripes concert film, The White Stripes Under Great White Norhtern Lights. It chronicles their Icky Thump tour throughout Canada. This is the tour where Meg started suffering from fatigue, causing the White Stripes to halt everything. Nothing like a concert film to get the buzz going before a new tour.
  • Most important of all, also in May, Jack White told MusicRadar that Meg was getting over her anxiety issues. He also said that they started working on a new album before the Conan show and said that, “It won’t be too far off. Maybe next year.” Addressing fans’ fears that the White Stripes had broken up, he said, “Nothing of the sort.”
  • Finally, on May 22nd, Meg White married Jackson Smith, in a ceremony in Jack White’s backyard in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a double wedding, with Raconteurs and The Dead Weather bass player marrying Jo McCaughey.

Happy times are here again.

It Might Get Loud – Let’s Hope So

itmightgetloudDavis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) has made a film that will captivate anyone who has ever played a guitar. More likely, it will engross everyone who has ever appreciated music. Three of the most innovative guitarists spanning more than 40 years of rock history and three distinct generations – Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White – share their passion for the electric guitar and indomitable appetite for music in, It Might Get Loud.

The film explores music through the eyes of the three virtuosos and follows them to Jimmy Page’s London home, The Edge’s Dublin studio, and a farmhouse in Tennessee where Jack White writes an impromptu song on camera.  Eventually, all three take on an empty sound stage for a once-in-a-lifetime jam session, to swap stories and teach each other new songs.

Also on the website is some Q&A with the producer and director, including these gems:

What do you hope audiences will experience while watching the film?

Honestly, I made this film for people like me, people who love music and the experience of a live show. When you love a band or a musician you want to know how and why they do what they do — what makes them tick. Davis was able to show this, to get inside these guys’ worlds and inside their heads in a way I don’t think any other music documentary has. I hope fans are as excited and fulfilled by seeing and hearing what he uncovered as I am.

Are there particular moments from the film that are your favorites?

There are so many.
We were filming Jack in Austin, Texas, and he’s playing this out–of–control guitar solo. Through the lens, I start realizing that he’s so focused and playing so aggressively that his hand is bleeding without him even knowing it.

That’s passion.

Below is the trailer for the film, first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2008, opening August 14, 2009, in New York and Los Angeles.