Monday, June 7, 2010

Lobsterfest Day 3 - Athens, OH

I woke early for ACRN Lobsterfest Day 3. At least, in my opinion. 10:30 on a weekend? That's nuts for me. But the day was an important day, as far as I was concerned, so waking up despite not having had what I would consider to be sufficient sleep was more than necessary.

Day 3 of Lobsterfest was more like what I'd experienced last year for ACRN's Lobsterfest. Back then, I was a little freshman who had only written maybe five album reviews for the website. Needless to say, I knew absolutely no one. A friend of mine and I checked out a few sets that day, but certainly not the whole thing. The Kyle Sowashes, Kaslo, Ghost of Asa Phelps, 5 Deadly Venoms and Jay Reatard were those that I stuck around for. It was a good time, but I wasn't in tune with the Athens music scene one bit at that point, so it certainly wasn't as enjoyable.

Fast forward to this year.

I like to think I'm more involved with the scene. I'd like to think I'm a little more into ACRN now/people actually know who I am (though I'm still working on that, of course!). I've actually seen a handful of the bands playing this year. Most importantly, I plan on attempting to catch every single set that day. Would it work out? Only time would tell!

I arrived with dark skies ominous overhead us. Rain was in the forecast, and thunderstorms were a possibility too. This particular day of the fest was to be held outside, so you can imagine why this was a problem. It's actually pretty disappointing; the two days Lobsterfest was inside? No rain. Outside? Mother Nature decided to take a big ol' shit on us. Cool.

One act got a set in before the skies opened up, though: Melk.

Melk consisted of Brian Jackson on bass and vocals, with Ghost of Asa Phelps singer Ryan Ford on drums (which explained why their drumset belonged to GoAP). They were just simple, dumb fun. After ACRN's Aaron Vilk introduced them, they came dashing out from behind a nearby trailer, Jackson with a Sprite of all things in hand. He promptly misplaced his guitar pick.

Once the ragin' got started, it was all... well, I dunno, I guess the best thing I can compare Melk's music to is hardcore due to the vocals, which are pretty much all screaming. The lyrics are almost unrecognizable. F-bombs abound. They even have a theme song, during which "Melk fucking rules" is chanted multiple times. They're really a fun bunch of dudes to watch. You don't watch these guys to pick on their musicality or to hear the next rage in indie rock stardom. You watch just because it's kinda fun. And Jackson and Ford seem to be having a great time doing it.

As soon as Melk's set was complete and indie poppers In Silent Movies were about to begin their set on the second stage (which was about twenty feet away from the stage Melk played on), the thunderclouds that had been rapidly approaching finally caught up, and lightning was spotted. The event was moved indoors, just a few hundred feet away in the South Pole, which is under Nelson Dining Hall. This was my first time inside this place, and it's not a bad spot. A little dark at times, kinda reminiscent of an old elementary school multi-purpose room. But hey, it worked! What else could you ask for at this point?

About an hour and a half after they were originally supposed to play, In Silent Movies took the somewhat-larger stage (at least larger than they stage they were originally to play on, from what I could tell) for their performance. Let me tell you something: I like In Silent Movies. A lot. I will be pretty sad if they're not around next year, though all their members are graduating or have graduated so it's hard to say what exactly will happen. But from the time I first saw the band at ACRN's Birthday Show earlier this year, I knew they were something special, at least in my eyes. I even made a weird reference in a Scene and Heard blog I did for the show in which I compared them to Muse due to the fact that they made so much noise for being a mere three-piece.

I stand by that still. If you've listened to the band's recordings, you'll know that their songs are not exactly extremely hard rockers on their album. Live, though? They turn that amp up and rock it. Take for instance the breakdown after the chorus of "Deep Sea Diver." First time I heard that, I was blown away. I'm not used to indie bands around here making that much noise. And since I was raised on harder rock music, I definitely still have a bit of a soft spot for when the guitars are turned up and force the ears to ring a bit.

I bought the band's EP, They Had Faces Then, after ISM's show. Hopefully the money got to them, as they had left the building by then. I've already listened to it and sent it to my friend in Florida. I'm hoping she'll pass it on to some folks down there as well. I'd love to get these guys more recognition. I really think they deserve it.

Cincinnati's Bag of Hair was next. Originally, Lobsterfest was supposed to have two stages of equal size, but due to the rain, those plans were nixed. Everyone COULD have played on the same stage, but that would have meant longer breaks in between sets, and the fest was already almost two hours behind schedule at this point anyway. So, a second performance space had been fashioned opposite the stage on the other side of the room, simply on the floor. It was here that Bag of Hair started up their mix of yelled vocals and minimal instrumentation. Percussion and guitar were the only two instruments featured here, and due to technical difficulties, no mics were available so the duo had to shout over the amplified sounds to the best of their ability. They did well for what they had despite the technical problems. An exceedingly strange aspect of the performance, however, was a caped/masked (Iron Man mask, at that) man who pretty much just walked around in front of them, sometimes collapsing to the ground and moving to the beat.

I don't know what was going on. I really don't. But hey, I got a free CD out of it! Score one for the good team, amirite?

I actually retreated back to my dorm for a few minutes after this; I wanted to drop off my hoodie and the two CDs I had in my possession at this point. I should note also that I'm not sure if Five Deadly Venoms or the Mauve Avengers played while I was gone or even at all that day. If they did play, I missed them and I apologize. I don't THINK I missed them, though. But you never know; I actually never got any confirmation on this.

I came back to find Whale Zombie well into their set, having taken the spot where Bag of Hair had stood previously. I've shown a few people music from this Athens three-piece and the feedback's been positive. I can say I'm a fan as well. They've always reminded me of the Russian Circles and Pelican-type bands--you know, instrumental rockers. But HARD rockers. Whale Zombie gets damn loud too. So loud, in fact, that when drummer Chris Lute actually does sing, you can't hear any of what he's saying. I was happy to have caught their song "Transcendental Bullshit," which is my favorite of theirs. Just try and avoid banging your head at about three-fourths of the way into that song. You'll know what I mean when you hear it live, if you ever do. Because I can assure you with every fiber of my being that you will not be able to keep still.

All hell broke loose next. For reals.

First, some background: on the other side of the room, there had been fashioned a small wrestling ring, with a curtain nearby. All this was for Legends of Wrestling. Did I know what Legends of Wrestling was beforehand? Lord, no. But as I watched the people involved begin to apply makeup, costumes and the like, I realized that it was not some odd touring act and just some of our good ol' boys from here in Athens, some of which are even either ACRN alumni or are still with the station.

And then it started.

I don't think I've ever had so much fun watching a show in my life. Ty Owen and Pat Snyder were the Legends, leaping into the ring provided for them in full costume and basically putting on a grindcore show (thanks to Cassie Whitt for the definition; I honestly had no idea how to describe them otherwise) with songs about how awesome they were and how great wrestling was. The songs lasted all but maybe ten-twenty seconds and consisted of Owen and Snyder screaming over prerecorded tracks from a Mac. Owen was in true Hulk Hogan form, spouting the wrestling legend's catchphrase time and time again--and it got funnier to me with each repeat.

Throughout the show, David Massimini emerged as the Honky Tonk Man, complete with an acoustic guitar that you just HAD to figure would be smashed over him by night's end. And of course, it was. Then Aaron Vilk, dressed as what I figure to be a lady from Westboro Baptist Church and sporting a 'God Hates Grind' sign, was pummeled with fluorescent light tubes. Yep. Fluorescent light tubes. I'm glad I wasn't standing nearby, 'cause glass went flying. I believe Vilk walked away with a few cuts. Bret Hart also came out to defend his fallen brother's honor (not sure who that was. I think I heard someone say Brian Ostrander. Hope I'm right.) and was beaten down as well. The Legends of Wrestling were victorious. Oh, and Ty spit water on me twice. It was a true honor!

So, the ground was pretty much a mess after this, and I was having some issues with a few inconvenient blisters, so I once again retreated to my dorm, thinking I wouldn't miss anything. It was also pouring at this point, so I had to get a change of clothes too.

I came back. Guess what?

I. Missed. Manor Animals. Again.

Seriously. They were finishing up right as I walked in. It was so disappointing, because had I seen them, I would have seen EVERY band at Lobsterfest, given that the two aforementioned bands didn't actually perform. Trust me, I was pretty bummed. I apologize to those guys. I've heard that they won't be back next year, so I'm a bit disappointed that I missed all my opportunities to see them.

My spirits were brightened a few minutes later, though--Scubadog was next!

Scubadog is another one of my favorites on the Athens scene, and also the only band on day 3 that I was seeing for the third time. The dual vocals from Jake Householder and Teddy Humpert leave nothing to be desired, Humpert throws out some killer bass lines, and Josh Antonuccio is a great guitarist and seems like one of the coolest guys to be around ever. He's produced some of Southeast Engine's albums, too. That's gotta count for something, right?

And how could I forget? I think that drummer Aaron Butler looks just like Alan from The Hangover. I can't be the only one that's thought this. I simply can't.

I was a little disappointed, though. Apparently this was Josh's final show with the band. However, though that aspect is disappointing, they seemed to hint that they would be back next year. I can live with that, though not having Josh around will make Scubadog seem like it's missing something. Maybe he'll come back to help out on any recordings they make, if they ever make any. I hope they do. Seriously. I need some Scubadog on my iPod, yo.

The Cutter Family, whom I'd seen once before at ACRN's Birthday Show, took the ground space next. They're a fun bunch of guys, and have some of the most hilarious banter in between songs. For instance, they decried the lack of "college bitches," who had apparently left after Scubadog's set. Audience members were quick to point out that Vilk was available.

The Cutter Family plays just good ol' punk rock. The band is actually a side project of Athens rockers We March. They even play a "We March cover," the prospect of which I found kinda funny. They did that last show I was at as well. Seriously, I hope these guys are back next year too. Really fun to watch.

Columbus's Tin Armor was up next on the stage. They were a pretty cool indie-pop-rock foursome, with a singer that reminded me almost like a taller Ben Folds. I might be totally off here. Nonetheless, they were an enjoyable band! I hadn't heard them before that night, and will definitely be at one of their shows next time they're out. And the cool thing to me was that the band (or at least the freakishly tall Umland brothers; I'm not sure about the other two but I could definitely pick the brothers out of a crowd easily) was pretty much there around the beginning and stayed til the end. It was cool to keep looking around as the night wore on and think, "Hey, they're still here hanging out with us! That's pretty cool!"

Ryan Ford of Melk returned with his usual band, the Ghost of Asa Phelps, for the next show. I'd say they were definite crowd-pleasers. I remember seeing these guys at Lobsterfest last year and thinking they were a decent band, for sure. But this year, I was blown away! Maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention last year, but I think they've improved a ton since a year ago. They're a great punk band with even greater songs, from some slow tunes (or, slow for punk rock, which is to say about midtempo) to some rapid fire jams that really got the mostly-male crowd standing directly in front of them pushing and shoving and having a great time.

The trio actually had what I think was one of the best moments of Lobsterfest: a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's classic "Fortunate Son," which was dedicated to Ford's father, who was standing a few feet from me, nodding his head in approval. Not only was it a cool cover to do, but they did it exceedingly well, too. I would actually push for that to be at least an occasionally-recurring cover.

Actually, you know what just popped in my head that I think would be a funny cover for them? Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer." No clue why, really. Maybe because Me First and the Gimme Gimmes did it. I dunno. I'm probably making no sense at this point. Moving on!

She Bears came next. I had seen these guys once before, at my first local show that wasn't Lobsterfest. They were distinctly Teddy Humpert-less. This may have happened a while back and I just missed it; I hadn't seen She Bears since January, after all.

The band was solid as always. These guys are pretty much a unit, great at what they do and never faltering. From what I understand, this may have been their last year in Athens. Sigh. Another one lost to the real world. At least She Bears still plan to tour. In fact, they'll be in Dayton in a few weeks, I believe. Might hit up that show, who knows?

I think my favorite parts of She Bears are Stephen Pence's earnest vocals and Caitlin McGlade's piano. I think it's what sets them apart, for sure. If they are heading out into the real world to do this touring thing, I wish them the best of luck. Hope they'll stop by every once in a while, at least!

What I watched next was called Evolve. They're a hip-hop duo from Cincinnati and WOW, they were cool, cool, cool. So many people I talked to post-show felt the same way. I didn't know what to expect beforehand, especially given the gown that the main vocalist happened to be flaunting, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Their set was nonstop, too. Preprogrammed beats and vocal samples abounded while the duo rhymed and swayed. The lyrics definitely had a positive message, from what I could tell. I'm very hopeful that we'll have them out again. This was the first I'd heard of them and I gotta say: Cincy's very lucky to have them living in their town. Very cool dudes.

I should note that at some point prior to this, a member of Stomp the Condor, who was originally supposed to be playing the fest, passed out free CDs. I have one in my possession and would like to thank the guy from the band who showed up and passed them out. Wish we could have had you guys perform, too.

While Evolve had been playing, the band I was looking most forward to, Flotation Walls, was setting up. If you've seen Flotation Walls in concert before, you'll know that they have a TON of instruments, so stage setup does take a little while. I had bought one of their CDs earlier in the day (I hope someone from the station was able to pass along that $10 to you, guys) and was totally stoked for them to begin. They had been mingling within the crowd since early in the afternoon, easily distinguishable later on due to their matching yellow jumpsuits/band uniforms.

But Coltrane Motion, a duo from Chicago, was first.

There was no band at Lobsterfest that I was more impressed with than Coltrane Motion. Sure, I enjoyed two other sets a little more, but I had expected to. With Coltrane Motion, I had no idea what to expect. And I was blown away. Check these guys out. They play what I can best describe as electropop with a ton of distortion thrown in. Their beats and some samples are already programmed in, and the two band members, Michael Bond and Matt Dennewitz, play a keyboard/sample table and guitar.

I have never seen so much sweat coming off a guy's face--thanks to Dennewitz for this. They were moving, jumping, contorting... you name it. And the music was incredibly engaging as well, especially in a live setting. They're loud, they've got some nice beats going on, and there's a lot of guitar. Bond was also absolutely one of the most energetic guys I've ever seen as part of a band. They were basically performing their hearts out, trying to sell their band to us.

I'd say it worked.

After Coltrane Motion ended, I was sure to get a prime spot toward the front of the stage. Flotation Walls was next and there was no way I was going to have an obstructed view of any sort. I'm sure the band might have been a little disappointed when it was almost all guys in the front row, staring up at them with anticipation, but hey, a fan's a fan, right?

Flotation Walls was no doubt my favorite of the day. I think I kind of figured that would be the case going on. But they were on the money Saturday night, playing tracks from their album Nature, which is one of my favorites of the past year.

Carlos Avendano, the lead singer, is an absolutely engaging presence onstage if I've ever seen one. Your attention is almost always drawn to him. There's just something about him that's fun to watch... and dare I say it, I think his voice sounds even better live than it does on record. But maybe I'm crazy!

I cannot stress this enough: Flotation Walls were really, really great. Everything was on par. The backup singers' voices, especially Ryan's, were basically flawless. And their performances of such favorites as "The Flickering Projection," "Willis the Fireman" and "Kids, Look at the Waves" were definite standouts, as was the seldom-played "I've Seen Death and His Tremendous Pink Eyes." In fact, check me out, I took video!

Flotation Walls - "Kids, Look at the Waves" from Kevin Rutherford on Vimeo.

Things settled down a bit after Flotation Walls, regressing into a somber, anticipatory mood. For then was the second coming of the Athens legends known only as Russenorsk.

I'll be honest, I'm just going off the hype. I didn't know much about Russenorsk, only that they were a great band and had gotten a good amount of acclaim. Their last show had been in September, but they had decided to reunite one last time at Lobsterfest.

It was quiet when the band, led by Tim Race, started. And from there, it was simply magical. I really got this great vibe watching them; I think it was partly because of the audience as well. The group beside me were belting out each and every song as if their lives depended on it. Clearly, this was an important night and Russenorsk was an important band in the hearts of many Athenians.

I have to say that Zach Inscho, the drummer, gets the Best Drummer of the Fest award from me. There was something truly engaging about the way he played in Russenorsk, and I can't even describe why that is. Sometimes it seemed inventive, sometimes it was just plain good. And Jack Martin was an awesome addition on the cello. Especially the cello itself; that thing was cool!

Tim Race's vocals and guitar playing were great, too. Since I missed Manor Animals, this was the first time actually hearing Race sing, and he's got a great voice, especially in his higher register. The songs were catchy as well. I think that if I had heard them a few times before watching Russenorsk perform, I'd've been singing along too. At least, I'd like to think so.

I don't want to speak for everyone in that room since I am a bit of a n00b when it comes to the music scene. But wow, that was pretty magical, I thought. Great ending set by Russenorsk, and probably with the biggest crowd response all evening, maybe even all festival.

It would have been a perfect way to end a festival.

But we weren't done yet! No, sir!

The Sidekicks, a quartet of feisty pop-punkers, closed out Lobsterfest 2010. They were from Cleveland (and, as I also heard, Columbus) and sported probably the biggest following and attention nationwide coming into the show. After witnessing them play, I can adamantly say that their attention is well-deserved.

They started off with an absolute bang--that harmonizing between singer Steve Ciolek and backup singer Matt Schuerman, wow!--and just took off from there, presenting us with loose punk numbers with throaty vocals. Seemingly the same guys that were up front for Ghost of Asa Phelps were back again and ready to rage some more, starting multiple moshes, if you can call them that. They were very, very into the music, and the band seemed happy that we had stuck around and were enjoying what we were hearing.

A little after one, the show was finally over, and it was time to head out. All in all, I'm gonna tell you what--it was a sick Lobsterfest. For that show to have gone that well despite all the troubles that occurred early on... well, it makes you wonder how things could have gone if it hadn't rained. Could it have gotten any better?

There's no need to speculate, of course. What happened happened, and it was good. Very good. I must thank all who were involved in the creation, booking and upkeep of Lobsterfest for doing a tremendous job. I still can't believe how great all three shows were this year. My hat goes off to all of you. And I can actually say that, you know, since I wear a beanie more than I probably should in this heat.

One thing's for sure: I cannot wait for next year's. ACRN 40th Birthday? It might get a little crazy.

For additional opinions and insight on Lobsterfest, please visit this blog. I wrote up a report on the first day's events, and my fellow writers Carolyn Menyes, Cassie Whitt and Hannah Cook did a great job in covering the other two days as well.

Also, check back with this blog once fall quarter rolls around. I think I might continue to do something like this more often.

Lobsterfest Day 2 - Athens, OH

This past weekend, ACRN held its annual Lobsterfest, a celebration of both local and touring bands and acts as well as the end of the school year. A little background: this year's fest was a 3 day affair, starting on Thursday the 3rd and ending on Saturday the 5th. Thursday's show took place at the Union, Friday's at Casa Cantina and Saturday's was to take place on South Beach, in front of the front four dorms on South Green.

Firstly: I blogged about day 1 of Lobsterfest for ACRN's site. It was my goal at that point to visit every single set during the festival, because I wanted a distraction from studying for finals and I simply love the Athens music scene anyway. My thoughts on the first day can found here.

These next two posts I'll make will be a little more informal than that.

So, picking up where I left off, I made my way to Casa Cantina at a little past 10 Friday night. If you've been in Athens, surely you know of Casa and surely you know of its superiority to most other Athens joints, at least from a "total package" standpoint. It's a restaurant, a bar and a music venue all rolled into one, and the food is damn good. Ever in Athens and need a pretty nice place to sit around, drink a beer, eat a burrito that's a bit less plebeian than one from the Burrito Buggy (much love to them, by the way) and maybe hear some good music if you're there late enough? Casa Cantina/Nueva (it seems to just kinda go by both at will) is your spot.

As I've progressed through this year, from attending my first local show that wasn't Lobsterfest '09 (Flotation Walls, She Bears and Scubadog at the Union in January!) to now, I've quickly realized that most shows never, EVER start on time. Except Lobsterfest. I was late to night one and guess what? I was late to night two as well.

But not exceedingly late, mind you! I couldn't have missed more than maybe a song or two from the openers, the Graveyard Shift.

It was a perfect start to the evening. I mean perfect. I had never seen or listened to the band before, but immediately I recognized singer/guitarist Aaron Heindel, who was formerly in the Sad Bastards and I BELIEVE is now in the 65's, if I remember correctly when I saw them back in February. I'll tell you what, though: fantastic band! Heindel's got a great voice, very well-suited for the alt-country-folk-barband-blues fusion they were playing. And he's well-complemented by Vana Cesta-Miller, a sweet little singer in her own right. Their two voices mesh almost perfectly through the mix of slower numbers and faster, country-tinged tunes.

The band was comprised of multiple talented musicians. Drums, bass, electric and slide guitars... even J.J. Reed dropped by on the harmonica. It was also the band's CD release show, so they were showing of tunes from that album left and right. A definite standout was the slower, bluesy drinking song "Holes," with "Get Back" and its shouted refrains that the audience was encouraged to join in on coming in at a close second. The album is, I believe, entitled Up with the Moon. Check it out sometime if you get the chance, especially if you're around Athens.

I'm hoping Graveyard Shift will be back next school year. It's always so uncertain whether or not a band will still be around when you come back from summer vacation, due to graduations and such. I'm going to stay positive, though, because I'd love to catch these guys again. And you should too, whether it's in Athens or around the Midwest if they're ever in your city!

Following Graveyard Shift's set, St. Louis's Theodore took to the Casa stage.

How excited was I for Theodore? Let's just say I reviewed their album (and messed up the name of one of the songs, as I've just found out--sorry, dudes!) and tried to catch one of their performances last February, but was only able to listen to the last song due to having not known where the Bruce Manor was before that evening. So this was Retribution Pt. 1 for me (Pt. 2 coming later!).

So yeah, it was pretty much one of my favorite sets from a single artist/band I've ever seen. Theodore is a great live band. They're fast. They're slow. They're quiet. They're loud. Singer Justin Kinkel-Schuster tames his vocals. He lets it all hang out with an impassioned scream. They've got a severed leg attached to the bass drum of their drumset.

It really was a fantastic set. Theodore played both older tracks and newer tunes from the album Hold You Like a Lover, including my personal favorite, "Death's Head." (See? HEAD. Not hand. I got it right this time!) Sadly, I cannot profess to having known most of the other songs due to my unfamiliarity with Theodore's catalog, but it's definitely something I need to check out. The quartet is truly a great band. And what's more, they came all the way from St. Louis. These guys actually really seem to appreciate and enjoy Athens, as much as we enjoy having them here. Here's hoping they'll continue to come around for years to come.

Next was Athens alum Southeast Engine. The four men in this band have been around the Athens scene for a while, and are usually on the touring circuit nowadays rather than sticking around Athens. That said, it's pretty much a sure bet that you'll get at least one Southeast Engine show a quarter.

This was my first Southeast Engine show. I had come close to seeing them play Canal Street Tavern in Dayton a week before but regrettably did not make it out. That said, I'm very glad to have finally caught these guys, since you can never really take a band for granted around here. You assume they'll be back around again next year but who really knows for sure?

Southeast Engine definitely was a little more on the folk side than the previous two bands, if I say so myself. But they're definitely a rock band too, trust me on that. Let's go with folk-rock then, eh?! And the founding members are originally from Dayton in my neck of the woods of Ohio... so I feel like I gotta rep them twice as much.

Adam Remnant, the singer and guitarist, has a great voice. Fantastic voice. And there's a great stage presence there too from both him and the rest of the band. Leo DeLuca was definitely one of the better drummers I saw all weekend. And Jesse Remnant and Billy Matheny were great on whatever they played--and they switched out instruments a lot.

These guys tour a lot, from what I understand. This summer, for instance? On the road. With Deerhoof. I think that's definitely a "That'll do, pig" moment! Really, good for them. Hope that turns even more people on to their music. I love it when bands from around where I live get some nationwide or even regional recognition. I think Southeast Engine definitely has the talent to go further than they already have, too.

The final act of the evening? None other than Duke Junior and the Smokey Boots.

Believe it or not, this was my first time seeing Duke Junior in a full set as well. I attended the ACRN Guestlist shoot that was done with them as the Production Assistant, and caught two songs of their CD release show in February, but nothing more. There's a bunch of long stories there that I won't go into for the sake of brevity.

That all doesn't matter, though! I finally made it!

For those who don't know, Duke Junior and the Smokey Boots features dual vocals from Jess Kauffman and Kyle Martin. They're both very admirable singers, especially when they harmonize. Casey Davis is a great guitarist as well, mixing in multiple styles into his playing that surfaces and ebbs on each song. Matt Horne is on the fiddle; he provides some truly engaging solos and is a definitely welcome addition to the group. And Aaron Lemley, an ACRN alum now, is a formidable presence behind the drums, rarely up front and in your face with his playing but sometimes indulging with a solo or two of his own.

I was and still am very glad that I finally got to witness a Duke Junior set in its entirety. I do recall hearing "Travelin' Man," which is one of my favorites. "Honey Go On," my favorite of theirs, was unfortunately omitted, but I have a feeling there will be other times for that. If there's any bands out there that I'm excited to come back to fall quarter (and trust me, I am excited for a couple), Duke Junior is one of them. Check 'em out if they come to your town, too! I know they'll be in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky this summer, though mostly Ohio. They'll even be in Dayton in July. Sadly, I'll be in Michigan that week. Else, you can bet I would've been there, and probably would've dragged my parents along since I keep raving about the band to them.

All told, it was a great night. Actually, it was more than a great night. It was a fantastic night of live music. Though Thursday night's lineup at Lobsterfest was certainly a commendable one, this is where I'm in my zone: this type of music, that country/folk/indie vibe. From an act I knew nothing about like Graveyard Shift to... well, a band I knew a few songs of like Theodore, Lobsterfest Day Two went splendidly.

Did I mention the crowd? There was a ton of people there! From ACRNers both past and present to people just out there to enjoy some damn fine music, the place was hoppin'. It's these shows that seem to bring some of the largest crowds out to Casa and other local venues, actually. I'm sure fall quarter will be more of the same.

But Lobsterfest was not over! No, sirs and madams, you could even say it wasn't even halfway done! Lobsterfest Day Three was upon us, less than 10 hours away. I hurried back to my dorm, eager to catch at least a bit of sleep before the afternoon and evening festivities (only got 5 hours of sleep. Not cool.) commenced.

Check the next post for that! I promise you, it'll be even longer than this.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Arcade Fire is back


Canadians The Arcade Fire recently announced the upcoming release of their new album, The Suburbs, on August 3rd.

The highly anticipated album, the band's followup to 2007's Neon Bible, is no doubt one of the more talked-about releases of the year.

Listen to the first single, "Month of May," in the video below. The song is currently available for purchase on the band's website.

Lee DeWyze wins American Idol, ruins the season for me

Look. I'm serious here.

Here's a confession, firstly: I watch American Idol. I have since season 2, the exception being season 8 due to a bit of a limited access to a TV.

Now, that said, I followed this season of AI closer than most seasons. Why? For the first time in as long as I can remember (if ever), Ohio had a front runner for the title of American Idol: Crystal Bowersox.

Bowersox, from northern Ohio, was a breath of fresh air to the show. With her long, dreadlocked hair and homages to Janis Joplin and the folk-tinged artists of yesteryear, she was certainly someone I could get behind.

Then there was Lee DeWyze, another artist who I supported at the beginning, but a guy who was more or less just a rocker--though his choice of "The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel was certainly a plus for me.

With the elimination of Casey James, Bowersox and DeWyze headed into the finals together. Bowersox had outclassed DeWyze (and the rest of the competition) all season, and did so on the night of the finale as well.


For the second straight year, the artist possibly most likely to win (and most deserving?) did not win, replaced instead by the underdog. DeWyze was victorious, and I for one was not too excited.

Then again, it makes sense. This was the third straight year that the 20-something male rocker won. While I'm quick to blame the teen girl population with cell phones for this, this might not NECESSARILY be the case. I don't know. All I know is that I wasn't exactly happy about the results.

That said, the true test is still ahead. Both have just signed record deals with 19 Records, and will release at least one album with the company. Both will have the opportunity to get their own works out to the general public.

I guess then, and only then, will be the true indicator of whose presence in the music industry will be longer lasting.

For now, though? I'm still rooting for Bowersox. No doubt about it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Loudon Wainwright III, Stuart's Opera House, May 21, 2010

This evening, I had the privilege of trekking to Nelsonville, Ohio to spend an intimate evening with a man who is quite well-known amongst folk music fans across the world.

Loudon Wainwright III stopped in Stuart's Opera House for an hour-and-a-half show, playing both new tunes and old favorites. This was the first time I had had the opportunity to even go inside Stuart's, and I was pleasantly surprised at the venue. The stage and seating itself is actually nestled in the second floor of the building, and though it certainly does not look brand new by any means, I would never have guessed that the place was over 130 years old if I didn't know any better.

As for Loudon, well, he was fantastic. The man crafts catchy, engaging folk tunes that are funny when he wants them to be, emotional when he wants them to be... either way, no matter what emotion Wainwright attempts to convey, it always comes out perfectly. And there was nothing better than seeing his eyes light up when the crowd reacted favorably to his music, mainly through laughs when Wainwright made a gesture or simply said something humorous. It was never a dull moment, that was for sure.

I did find it pretty funny that I was almost certainly one of the youngest there. Granted, Loudon's not a young man himself, now in his mid-60s. But the crowd was definitely mostly of the elderly generation. In a way, I actually felt kind of cool. I mean, here's this guy, whom most my age may not know at all, and I'm not only aware of him, but I'm sitting amongst people twice my age (sometimes three or even four times, at that) clapping, smiling and singing along.

I guess I just love music. And it doesn't matter who wrote it, if they're 22 or 92. If it sounds good, I'm game. And trust you me, Loudon Wainwright sounds damn good. Even after all these years, his vocals are still perfect. Particularly, I enjoyed his take on "Daughter", which was released in 2007 as part of Wainwright's Strange Weirdos album. It was featured in the movie Knocked Up, if I'm not mistaken. Heck, Wainwright himself was in that movie. Remember Dr. Howard? Yep. That's him.

All in all, it was a fantastic night. I'm really glad I made it out. Tomorrow night, I'll be hitting up the Mumford & Sons show in Columbus. You bet I'm excited!

Dio dead at 67

Ronnie James Dio, iconic heavy metal singer who found success in the '70s and '80s rock scenes, was pronounced dead earlier in the week. Dio had been ill for a while with stomach cancer, which was deemed the cause of his death.

His death comes as a major loss for the rock world, particularly the heavy metal scene. Dio possessed a voice that was not only almost instantly recognizable, but able to transcend the boundaries of different musical genres. In short, Dio's voice was certainly nothing like the vocal stylings we tend to think of today when heavy metal comes to mind.

The singer, whose work in Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven and Hell brought him the most success, will be sorely missed. Particularly with the latter band, Heaven and Hell, Dio had still been active in the music world, releasing an album last year and touring for a handful of years before that. One has to think there was much more left in Ronnie James Dio than we will ever get to witness.

In honor of Dio, I'll post my personal favorite from the decades he was active: "Holy Diver." Enjoy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Billboard's Top 20 Music Tweets of the Week

I wanted to share this link. Apparently this is a recurring theme that Billboard does weekly, and I really like the idea. I've always found it interesting to find the Twitter accounts of celebrities or even just people I know. I think you see their true colors, what they're really like.

For instance, Lady Gaga's tweets seem as strange as she herself is. is possibly even more outspoken on Twitter than he is in public. And Courtney Love... well, Courtney Love's tweets are about what I'd expect from Courtney Love.

I also like this idea because it gives me a reason not to seek out these artists' Twitter accounts. Not that I would. (Hint: I probably would anyway because I have a Twitter addiction. But you didn't hear that from me.)

My favorite tweet in this group of tweets? Weezer's, no doubt. It's nice to know what they were talking about anyway, but the way they worded it is pretty hilarious.

That and this post reminded me that Elliott Yamin exists.

No Doubt back in the studio after six years

According to the band's Twitter account, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt are back in the recording studio for the first time since the recording of 2001's Rock Steady.

The quartet, who have been on tour since 2009's Bamboozle fest after a five-year hiatus, had originally written and recorded some songs a few months before now but decided to scrap them in favor of starting fresh.

As of now, a release date has not been announced for the album, nor has any tentative tour dates. Nonetheless, the prospect of new songs from the band is enticing. Given how on fire Stefani has been since her solo career started, coupled with the output the band supplied on Rock Steady and before, to see No Doubt produce a dud of an album would be highly surprising.

Hopefully something will come of these sessions. It's been so long since we've heard any truly new No Doubt material, and they've been back together for over a year now. It's about time.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Muse to release new single from Twilight film

"Neutron Star Collision." Sounds spacey, yes? That's not much of a surprise at all if you're a Muse fan like myself; you've gotten songs such as "Supermassive Black Hole" and "Dead Star" over the years, so a planetary feel is certainly nothing new.

The aforementioned song was just announced via Twilight author Stephenie Meyer's official website as the first single from the soundtrack to the next film installment in Meyer's vampire series, known as Eclipse.

This is the first time Muse has written a song solely for a movie soundtrack. Coming on the heels of the release of their album The Resistance back in September, the band is still releasing singles from that album, so the fact that yet another will be released in its wake is interesting to say the least. But Twilight fans love their Matt Bellamy; it's pretty much a given.

The single shall be released May 17th. The official soundtrack drops on June 8th, while the film hits theaters June 30th.

My first foray into video editing

Since this is music-related, I thought it'd be prudent to share this video I created for my Online Journalism course. I spoke with Jill Mapes, who works at Blackout Booking, a booking agency located here in Athens. I've known Jill for over a year now since she was also my main editor at ACRN up until recently, so this was a fairly easy interview. The main issue was with taking the video and editing it afterward, which I have no prior experience with. Ah well, here's my first learning experience, eh?

Jill Mapes - Blackout Booking from Kevin Rutherford on Vimeo.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Apple shutting down Lala

Yeah, I'm pretty ticked too.

Rolling Stone reported this afternoon that, a music streaming site that had recently been acquired by Apple, will be shut down by May 31st. No reason has been given for its closure.

While I did not use the website much, this is still something that annoys me. Lala was a very convenient streaming site; we tended to utilize its playlist feature a lot on, particularly with album reviews and our "Songs That Make You Wanna..." series. The convenience was in being able to add full albums or a playlist of your choice to a story so that you could show your readers rather than just tell them about a song or album.

I've used the Lala feature on this blog myself twice. I like to think it was helpful, though it's hard to say since who knows how many people are actually reading this. I certainly can say that the players helped on ACRN's site. We're going to need to find a new means to post full albums, or even just single songs, for our reviews and features, that's for sure.

At least I've still got my Spotify.

Letterman getting into music business?

Reports are that Late Show host David Letterman and his World Wide Pants Inc. company have opted to start his own record label. The label will be known as Clear Entertainment/C.E. Music.

The first signee to the label is Huntington Beach's Runner Runner. Looks like a good find for Letterman. Perhaps we'll see them on the Late Show soon? Or might that be a conflict of interest?

Either way, this is an interesting venture for Letterman, though he does seem to be an avid music fan from past viewings of his show. And chances for new record labels and up-and-coming artists to flourish are always good, right?

Friday, April 23, 2010

The dynamic duo reunite

Upcoming documentary 180' South will feature songs from various notable artists, including the Shins' James Mercer and Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock. According to a Rolling Stone report, Mercer and Brock collaborated on a handful of tracks in Brock's studio.

Other contributors to the soundtrack include Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings and the band Love and Laughter. It will be released on Brushfire Records. Emmett Malloy, whose most recent production is the White Stripes' Under Great White Nothern Lights film, will oversee this project as well.

Being a fairly massive Isaac Brock (and Modest Mouse in general) fan, I'm quite intrigued as to what will come out of this. I've been nothing more than a casual fan of the other singers and bands contributing, but Brock's involvement is the deal-breaker for me. That and Mercer and Brock historically work well together; Mercer sang backup on four of the songs from Modest Mouse's 2007 record We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, which happens to be one of my favorite albums. A sample:

Unless my geography skills fail me, the closest the film is currently coming to Ohio is Minneapolis, though there are apparently hopes to expand the showing list soon.

Rolling Stone's new website

The music magazine giant revamped their website this week. As with most website makeovers, it'll take a while to get used to, but I think it's definitely a step in the right direction.

The scrolling news-fader at the top of the front page is a nice touch. I also believe it to be a lot easier to find the main news stories than it was in previous, more primitive times.

That being said, I still think the site could use a lot more video content, especially on the front page. This is 2010; video needs to be a huge part of news websites, no matter their specialization. Yeah, there are a few videos on the front page, but they're hard to find and not even that advertised. Rolling Stone seems to be a bit behind in this regard.

Ah, well. I still am digging the site. I think more changes should and will be made in the coming weeks, but it's good to see that Rolling Stone is actually doing something to change.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jay-Z sues David Ortiz over club name

Notable rapper Jay-Z made headlines recently after announcing that he would sue Boston Red Sox designated hitter David "Big Papi" Ortiz over--wait for it--the name of Ortiz's new nightclub in the Dominican Republic. Its name? Forty-Forty.

First of all, let's go over why Jay-Z finds this worthy of a suit. The rapper and minor league pitcher Juan Perez are co-owners of their own establishments, known as 40/40. Billed as sports bar/lounges, these clubs exist in six different cities across the globe, including New York City. Basically, Jay-Z seems to think that Ortiz lifted the name of his club off of the rapper's.

What's the problem with that? Well, though Ortiz's club's name is the same/similar, it's true, I don't even think this should be an issue. For those of you non-baseball fans out there, 40/40 refers to a player who hits forty home runs and steals forty bases in a single season. So it's a baseball term for both. If anything, Ortiz didn't actually name his club Forty-Forty because Jay-Z's clubs are named as such. He did it because it's a baseball term.

In the long run, Ortiz probably will have to change it if an agreement can't be reached, because no matter his intentions, a similarity is a similarity.

Still. A lawsuit? Really, Jay-Z?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Foxy Shazam: a band from Ohio to actually give a damn about

Is it just me, or do most bands from Ohio nowadays that get national attention, to put it blatantly, suck?

I mean, granted, perhaps it's just my musical tastes coming into play here, but what do we have to show for these past few years? Hawthorne Heights? The Devil Wears Prada? Hit the Lights? Come on, now. Why can't we have a My Morning Jacket? A Modest Mouse? A Kings of Leon? What gives? Sure, we've got the Black Keys and plenty of other indie bands but where's the star power?

Fear not though, my fellow Ohioans. Our saviors have arrived.

Foxy Shazam, a six-piece out of Cincinnati, released their new self-titled disc today. And the ensuing praise is nothing to shrug off as unimportant. These guys have the ability, no doubt, to take the music world by storm.

What's so great about Foxy Shazam? Well, let me give you a sample:

More can be found on Lala's site or through the earlier-provided link.

I'll let you judge for yourselves, but I'm liking what I'm hearing. This band is truly a breath of fresh air, and I believe that the music industry needed this.

P.S.: As an added bonus, check out this video. Also be looking for it on MTVU, where it's been getting a couple spins a day!

Yeah, these guys are nuts, it's official.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Weezy's new job

Despite being in prison, it appears as if Lil Wayne has found a new job.

Rolling Stone reports that Weezy is on, in effect, suicide watch. He's keeping watch over suicidal inmates, making sure they don't... well, you know.

The rapper has been in prison now since March, having been convicted and sent to prison in the first place for a 2007 gun charge. All has been relatively quiet since he left, which is totally understandable considering what he left us with before leaving. (Rebirth, anyone? Oh, ACRN plug!)

I must say, though: my favorite line of the Rolling Stone article? "He likes the job even though they don’t pay him much," Toya says of the Young Money multimillionaire.

“He likes the job even though they don’t pay him much,” Toya says of the Young Money multimillionaire.

Ah, Weezy. How does it feel to be making the same amount of money as the rest of us?

...except journalists. You're probably still beating us.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ah, 90s nostalgia. Why?

Here's the deal: I love music festival season. It's one of my favorite times of the year. Why? Because there's so much going on. You've got everything from humongous acts on top of the world to tiny buzz bands that only the hipster-ist of hipsters have heard of. You've got the weird dance acts that seemingly make no sense at ANY festival (hello, Coachella!). You've even got the random band-that-broke-up-like-ten-years-ago-but-decided-they-were-broke-and-decided-to-reunite acts. Seriously, it never fails.

Possibly the only thing that I enjoy more than the festival season itself is the ongoing revelations of each festival's lineups. I say this somewhat because I'm fully aware that the chances of me actually going to any of the festivals are almost always zero, so the only excitement I can really get is from watching all of the lineups unfold and seeing who's going where. And then I pretty much complain for lord only knows how long thereafter because I can't go. Once again, it never fails.

So the other day, I'm checking out the lineup of the Reading and Leeds Festivals (I have an unhealthy obsession with England, OKAY?) and one band in particular catches my eye for the absolute wrong reason. It's Limp Bizkit.

Limp Bizkit.


Sure enough, I check Pukkelpop's (I love fitting names) lineup and guess who appears there too? You guessed it! LIMP BIZKIT.

I haven't been this annoyed since Creed reformed. Why is Limp Bizkit back? Were they ever even gone? Who's going to go see them? Who'd want to see them?

Maybe I'm being too harsh.

...on second thought, no. I'm not.

I'm a firm believer that this band is one of the worst bands to ever rear its ugly head. I just never got them. I think I was into them when I was like 10 years old and thought singing "Nookie" at the top of my lungs on the playground would get me friends. (Spoiler alert: that's actually a really, really bad idea.) They redeemed themselves in my eyes once when they did the "Behind Blue Eyes" cover... but only because it didn't sound that much like Limp Bizkit! They instead sounded like your normal, horrible mainstream rock band. And it was a step UP!

The worst part is that apparently they've BEEN back. For like two years. How I missed this is beyond me, because usually I'm really creepy with knowing what bands are up to.

And I guess what it all comes down to is I can't see why someone at either of these festivals would want to see them. They're playing Rock on the Range also, which I can see them getting fans at because... well, it's Rock on the Range, let's think about who plays there. But my god... Limp Bizkit is NOT a festival band.


P.S.: they're coming out with a new album too. One of the working song titles? "Douchebag." Music gods, help us.