Robert Schwartzman and Friends at The Satellite, Los Angeles

Over ten years ago, millions of pre-teen girls began their crush on a young actor/musician playing prince to Anne Hathaway’s princess. Tonight, in a dark bar in Silverlake, Los Angeles, those same girls – now women – are wanting a lot more from that prince than a peck on the cheek…

His name is Robert Schwartzman, and he is currently smack dab in the middle of a month’s residency at the Satellite, a local venue tucked into the Silverlake hills offering free Monday night resident acts. Schwartzman (formerly of the band Rooney, and of Coppola royalty), has gained notoriety for his song writing on soundtracks including “Easy A”, and “Bad Teacher” in the past few years, as well as his acting and recorded albums.

Around 11:30, Schwartzman and his band take stage after two warm up acts so congruent with his own love for unique sounds and charming demeanors, they seem painstakingly hand-chosen by the headliner. Think sweetly satisfying pop rock with danceable beats, catchy melodies, and that signature hipster aesthetic you’d expect from a venue in East LA. Though the opening bands change week to week, each night’s sound feels organic and instantly lovable.

Seasoned fans of Schwartzman will still find the jovial, hopeful romanticism of his former Rooney days, but with a more honest approach through darker chord progressions, more transparent emotional revelations, and a stronger sense of seduction. It’s clear he’s grown up, and he’s using his maturity to deepen his sound. And it’s working.

Schwartzman’s music and performance aren’t overly processed. His new songs follow a traditional structure, and their end result is always a clean sound designed to stick in your head for months. More importantly, Schwartzman is connected, and he offers up an intimate experience, one that seems to thrive on humbleness rather than bypassing it, though he certainly could have given his clout. In turn, the audience finds themselves enjoying the artist rather than his reputation, which is an increasing rarity in live music these days. Schwartzman projects a character as lovable and addictive as his music, and sure to have strengthened his following with it.

The songs are the kind you can’t help bouncing along to. The venue is the kind you can’t help with you were a regular of. The drinks, poured for $2 a pop during 8-9pm happy hour, are the kind that go down easy. Schwartzman, his band, and his ‘friends’ are offering up one fantastic night that will remind you why you fell in love with live local music in the first place. Not to be missed, fans of the musician-actor-writer extraordinaire and newbies to his sound are sure to be entertained.

“Robert Schwartzman and Friends” will be performing tonight for their third week at the Satellite (formerly Dreams of LA) located at 1717 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles. Doors are at 8:30, music begins at 9pm. Next Monday will mark the last show of his residency, so be sure to stop in tonight or next week to catch him before he jets off to write another soundtrack hit. Next month’s resident act will be Queen Caveat.

To find out more about Schwartzman and score his latest solo album, visit his website at Proceeds of his latest album are donated to the Tibetan Healing Fund.

Vampire Weekend: April 17th, Fox Theater, Oakland

There’s something amazing about literally feeling the music pulsing through your veins. Every beat, every bump, lyric, enters and exits your mind, your body, your whole being. It makes you fall in love in a sense. Not with a person but with the music. It’s why I love concerts. Hearing music live is more than fun, it’s a religious experience. Not only do musicians have a similar place to god, but we do put them on pedestals, high above ourselves. For some of us that don’t have a god, music is the closest thing. On April 17th I saw one of my favorite bands for the first time.

After years of listening and putting them above myself, Vampire Weekend rose high above my expectations. They made us wait, us being a not very diverse group of adults and teenagers, mostly teenagers. All dressed up snazzy, as though these events are all they have to look forward to. These days I am not too used to teenagers being at shows, listening to the more rugged garage rock or indie folk/pop I love. These teenagers are starting out well. Vampire Weekend allowed my ears to accept a different variety of music. They helped me respect music in a different way. That doesn’t mean I don’t find teenagers annoying, because I do, but I know there’s hope for them.

Vampire Weekend started off the show with Cousins, one of their singles from their sophomore album Contra. Suddenly, the room was filled with energy, dancing and singing along. I only tend to sing along to bigger shows, or louder shows, where I know my voice won’t ruin the atmosphere or main act.

After bringing us back to those years where all we listened to were those first two albums, they played the two songs from their recent EP: Diane Young and Step. We become ecstatic. Filled with joy and happiness, even though Step holds more meaning due to a recent tragedy that happened in my life.

There were a few instances where I did not know the song they were singing, so I came home, and researched their new music, discovering that these songs were a few of their new songs (Ya Hey and Unbelievers). These songs created a lot of optimism for their new album, Modern Vampires of the City.  The songs, which can be found on Youtube, are fun and yet different and dark. The show was as wonderful as I expected. Crazy dance moves were bumping into everyone. I will certainly never forget seeing Vampire Weekend on April 17th of 2013 at the Fox Theater.

Set List:

Taxi Cab
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
I Stand Corrected
Diane Young
Ya Hey
Oxford Comma
White Sky
Giving Up The Gun
Diplomat’s Son
One (Blake’s Got A New Face)
Mansard Roof

Phoenix flies again | Phoenix live in NYC

It was after a particularly long night out and about Manhattan that I hopped onto the L train with two friends at 6:45 AM from Union Station to make the trek to Brooklyn for the most sought after of music events: the exclusive intimate show. Around 11:30 the night before a friend had texted me asking if I wanted to go see a free show by Phoenix on the next night. Never one to turn down a free anything, I jumped at the opportunity and so at 7 AM, I found myself waiting outside the Williamsburg Music Hall, coffee and artisanal savory tart in hand waiting for wristbands. The show had been publicized on the band’s Facebook and wristbands were slated to be distributed between ten and eleven AM to the most devoted of fans. As the line slowly grew longer and longer, I finally appreciated my friend’s determination to be early when we were in the first 100 people and got tickets to the exclusive show later that night.

Phoenix took the stage around 6 PM and proceeded to blaze through a seventeen song set in just over an hour, drawing songs equally from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, It’s Never Been Like That, and their forthcoming Bankrupt!. In their first New York show since selling out Madison Square Garden in 2010, the band was energetic, passionate and did not appear to have lost a step in their year long hiatus from touring. Playing eight songs from their new album, fans were treated to a taste of what to expect when Bankrupt! is released on April 23rd on Glassnote Records, even opening the show with their latest synth pop gold nugget, “Entertainment.” The band, made up of two guitarists, a bassist, and a vocalist with touring percussionists, managed to hold the exclusive audience’s attention rapt through the early going by following the newest single with a few crowd favorites (“Lasso”, “Lisztomania”, “Long Distance Call”) before launching into showcasing their new album, a new take on the classic Phoenix sound. After running through most of the new album, the focus was clearly back on Wolfgang, with the band closing their set with “Armistice” and “1901” before retaking the stage for a bare bones almost acoustic version of “Countdown”, for which singer Thomas Mars descended into the waiting crowd and then returned to the stage for the final song of the evening, “Rome”.

In spectacular form, Phoenix showed that gone are the days of danceable pop singalong followed by danceable pop singalong, replaced instead by a much more experimental group attempting to cope with the international success of their previous album. While the concert was less Williamsburg house party than one would expect based on their previous albums, the band showed that as far as indie rock goes, they are absolutely a force to be reckoned with and we should be excited for whatever comes next from them.

Click here for more photographs of Phoenix live in NYC

Killer Mike Live in Concert at NYU

“You are witnessing elegance/in the form of a black elephant” intoned Killer Mike as he strutted out for his first song of the night. As a show put on by NYU’s student activities board, I was not expecting much in terms of performing effort from someone as over qualified to be plying NYU as Killer Mike but I was joyfully mistaken. Although the night opened with a thoroughly mediocre performance by Cakes, Mr. MF’N eXquire was there to immediately pick up the slack. A true showman, eXquire entered the nearly empty ball room seeing the world through his over-sized Cee-Lo glasses and promptly laid down, was handed a mic and delivered his first verse whilst laying on his back looking up to the ceiling. From there the show gained momentum as eXquire’s baritone rumble cycled through his catalog with occasional bursts punctuated by yet another member of his entourage strolling across the stage drinking out of NYU provided party cups and yelling along with various lines in the song. Although the crowd made up primarily of students may not have been what eXquire was used to, his entourage and him embraced it fully, crowd surfing and even inviting a few fans backstage after the show. Even though he was having one of those self proclaimed “Days when a bitch text you and it just throw off your energy,” eXquire put on an ideal show for priming the audience for something even bigger. The only noticeable hiccups came towards the end of the set when eXquire went to perform a closing song and realized on stage that none of his crew actually knew the words and had to perform sans hype man, which served as a nice transition to the singular presence that was Killer Mike.

A domineering figure from sight alone, Killer Mike’s baritone assault on our eardrums was a welcome one as he ran through a set list peppered with hits and life wisdom in between songs. As Mike aptly noted, “I got a Larry David interesting kind of life” and from the politically aware “Reagan”, a rant against the War on Drugs and the policies of the Reagan administration, all the way to the more traditional Southern “R.A.P. Music”, a description of Mike’s religion of hip hop. “This is jazz, this is funk, this is soul, this is gospel, this is sanctified sex, this is playa Pentecostal, this is church, front pew, amen, pulpit, what my people need and the opposite of bulls***” rhymed Mike shortly before dismounting from the stage and walking through the crowd, parting the sea as if he had truly assumed the role of preacher in the Church of Southern Rap. As the show ended, Killer Mike ended up staying longer than most of the fans as he signed autographs, posed for pictures, and shook hands with any fan who approached him, only strengthening the positive relationship he already formed with his audience. All around, Killer Mike owned the night and showed how and why he has remained successful in the rap game across such a long career.

Outside Lands Music Festival – Friday review

A day that started warm and sunny was quickly overtaken by wind and fog, but that did not stop 40,000 fans who make the trek to Golden Gate Park for the first day of this year’s Outside Lands festival from having a good time.

The sell-out crowd was noticeably more than previous years. Last year, fans could easily slide their way to the front of most sets before 4:00. Not the case this year. A dense crowded was packed in front of the main stage for much of the night. EDM shows like headliners Justice and MSTRKRFT also attracted big crowds, maybe because of EDM’s rising popularity or maybe just because wanted to dance to stay warm.

Early on in the day, Wallpaper. played a relatively short but action packed set and received love from their hometown crowd. Despite having only a few sets from local bands today, love for San Francisco was in their air all day. South African hip hop duo Die Antwoord‘s The Ninja sported a bright orange Giants shirt. It matched the orange pants and shoes he and partner Yo-Landi Visser wore for the first part of their set.

Elsewhere, the Foo Fighters tore down the main stage, playing hit after hit including older tracks like “Everlong” and “Learn to Fly” as well as cuts off their newest album, Wasting Light. Beck’s set was a similar mix of old and new. He started off the set with 2005’s “Black Tambourine,” and then, sporting old school sunglasses  and a black fedora, proceeded to play a greatest hits set of sorts including “Loser” and “Devil’s Haircut.”

Andrew Bird, who’s set was delayed 15 minutes, had a surprisingly small crowd. He played an hour long set complete with violins, cellos and a xylophone while bathed in blue and yellow lights.

Washed Out, the final act on the Panhandle Stage, would have benefitted from a later set time. Although the sun was beginning to set, their show would have been much better in a setting where the lights around them could be the star.

When it came to headliners, I chose Justice over Neil Young and Crazy Horse, a tough decision but one that I am glad I made. Although there was no encore, the Parisian DJ’s put on a spectacular show with LED light encrusted speakers providing an incredible light show. About two thirds into their set, Justice completely stopped playing for a minute, building suspense and anxiety before breaking out into their most famous song, “D.A.N.C.E.”

Saturday brings much more indie and alternative acts, as well as some hard rock and metal on the main stage. It should be a nice break for fans attending all three days, as Sunday is truly a day for dancing, whether it be to Stevie Wonder, Skrillex or one of the dozens of other great acts.

Osheaga Day 3: Sunday Roundup and Review

Ah. The Sunday of Osheaga, where everything lulls down and most of the crowds stay at home.

That statement would be true about any other year at the fest. However, even with a very threatening weather forecast, the work week starting up, and tons of other things to do in the city of Montreal – Osheaga still sold out, and the crowds showed up, and the people smoked up, and the hippies and hipsters danced in the mud. Yes, the downpour came, and we welcomed it after a weekend of extraordinary heat. So, shall we get on with it?

The first show I ever covered for this site was The Airborne Toxic Event just over a year ago. Today, they performed to a fairly sizeable crowd in the drizzle, with Anna Bulbrook playing a violin like nobody else can, and Mikel Jollett sounding as sharp on vocals as ever. “All At Once,” “All I Ever Wanted,” and “Changing” all sounded as fantastic as they did a year ago. They have quite the commanding presence, and I’m happy they got such a warm reception from the crowd.

The first thing I thought of Passion Pit: they’re a studio band. Maybe they shouldn’t be performing their songs as is live. Michael (the lead vocalist) can’t seem to hit those high notes in this festival environment. Sad, but true. Regardless, there’s a tremendous amount of energy being outpoured on that stage. I give them all credit for that. And the crowd? Shit. Biggest I’ve seen for a midday act. Ever. Some say they played too much from their new album. To that I say: Have you not listened to their new album? Gossamer sounds exactly like Manners! And Manners was an incredible album! What are you complaining about?! “Carried Away,” “Sleepyhead” and “Moth’s Wings” were all pretty decent.

Sidenote: Santigold was pretty good too! And Common pulled up some girl on stage, allowed her to towel his bald head off, and then she kissed his cheek. Needless to say, he’s a real crowd pleaser.

The guys who switched their timeslot with Passion Pit, Tame Impala, put on a really solid set. Full of jams, distortion, and solid vocals. But the crowd? Less than enthused by the looks of it. Seemed like people were just waiting around for The Black Keys to show. Over on the Green Stage, famed producer, director, and wannabe Swiss army knife, Woodkid, was being a bit dramatic. My colleague reports that his band played pure noise for twelve minutes before he even even graced the stage. But when he did? Magic shit happened, yo. He started playing “Iron,” spoke up, and the rain poured down at the perfect time. Absolute magic.

The Shins may have been the most musically pleasing set of the day. I cannot get over how amazing they are live. They did play a fair bit of new stuff like “It’s Only Life,” and “Simple Song,” but the mix of old tunes kept the crowd just as happy. I prefer the side project, Broken Bells, but I totally fell in love with The Shins today while standing in the pouring rain with a sea of fans. City and Colour played in the rain as well, and it worked to his favor, as Dallas Green’s solo project’s style is perfect for inclement weather.

Meanwhile on the Green Stage, Bloc Party was having a party – how redundant is that? Remember how I said Brand New had a bunch of crowd surfing? Yeah, fuck that. Bloc Party had TONS of crowd surfers. The crowd was absolutely insane and had lost all inhibitions. “Hunting for Witches” sounded stellar, along with “Banquet” and “Helicopter.” And they played a new song, which sounded a lot harder than most of their tunes. I’m excited to see what their new album has in store. I caught teenage producer sensation Madeon on my way back to the main stage area. He was absolutely slaying the dance floor, and had every inebriated being going nuts. This kid is the real deal, mixing M83, Skrillex, The Killers, Deadmau5, and probably more that I didn’t manage to catch.

M83 closed out the Green Stage on a high note, sounding better live than on their record. There was a guy who tried to eat his girlfriend’s earrings, people making love, glowsticks galore, and a ton of happy festival-goers. M83 is something all music fans should experience live.

Finally, my day ended with a Metric and The Black Keys one-two punch. Metric has played Osheaga nearly every year since its creation, and this had me thinking that I’d be tired of them. Fortunately, it was far from the truth. The new songs, like “Synthetica” and “Youth Without Youth” were incredible, and now-old classics like “Help I’m Alive” and “Gold Guns Girls” were stellar. Emily Haines looked like she was possessed. The band truly gave their best Osheaga performance. I expect them to be back the same time next year. And The Black Keys? I had even more skepticism. Two years ago, they were delegated to play the middle of the day on the main stage. Fast forward two years, and they’re headlining the festival with a massive crowd looking on. Hey – all my skepticism is now gone. Sparklers, flashing lights, and just pure garage rock from two dudes out of Ohio. They sounded crisp, sharp, and so damn real. What more could we ask for to close out Osheaga?

Have a gander at some of the day’s photos provided by the festival. My thanks to my colleague Lana for filling me in on the sets I couldn’t see. Next year’s dates have already been announced, so book your ride to Montreal for August 2nd to 4th of 2013. Till next time…

The Shins - By Patrick Beaudry
The Shins - By Patrick Beaudry

Metric - By Patrick Beaudry
Metric - By Patrick Beaudry

The Black Keys - By Patrick Beaudry

Woodkid - By Tim Snow

Passion Pit - By Patrick Beaudry

Common - By Patrick Beaudry

The Airborne Toxic Event - By Tim Snow

Osheaga Day 2: Saturday Review and Roundup

Saturday is always the best day at Osheaga. It kinda sucked last year because someone at evenko (the promoter of Osheaga), decided to make Elvis Costello the headliner. That failed. Big time. So how bout this year? With Snoop Lion/Dogg headlining the night, and a bunch of superb acts all around Parc Jean-Drapeau, Saturday could easily be the highlight – right?

Young the Giant - By Patrick Beaudry

After checking in at the media tent, where MVRemix is actually listed as MTVRemix, I headed to the Green stage to catch a bit of Cursive. On the way, Kandle was rocking out on the Tree Stage and sounded tremendous. But Cursive? Wow. Despite the small crowd surrounding them, they put on a set full of energy and tenacity. I’m pretty sure they’re no stranger to Osheaga (I remember seeing them on the line-up three years ago), and they should come back again soon. Who knew Omaha indie emo rock could… rock so hard?

Young the Giant took to one of the main stages to what seemed like a less than interested crowd. “Cough Syrup” and “Apartment” sounded amazing live, but the people in my area were more interested in their social lives than what was happening on stage. My colleague said the same thing about the other side of the audience. They kicked it up a notch for “My Body,” and it begs me to ask why they don’t have more songs like it. I understand that its their prerogative as artists to write what they want – but that song kicks ass live. Side note: Someone put Quebecois indie rocker Dumas on the main stage. The mostly out of town crowd ceased to care.

Brand New absolutely kicked ass. There’s no other way to put it. The Long Island alt rock group does not get enough recognition for how amazing they are. “Sic Transit” had everyone singing along, “Sink” and “Gasoline” had people crowd surfing – which never happens at Osheaga, and “Seventy Times Seven” reminded everyone of the band’s early pop punk roots. Honestly, they were the best set of the day, and the best set of the fest so far. Amazing amounts of energy and passion are noticeably infused into their live performance. It’s a real shame that they don’t tour very often. And whenever they do, you can rest assured that no two setlists are ever the same. It’s an unpredictability I really admire about them.

Garbage followed them, opening with some new songs, but then transitioning into “Paranoid.” Seven or eight years removed from their last show in Quebec, the band still had it. Butch Vig hammered away on drums while Shirley Manson said, “We’re Garbage, and if you don’t know us, then I guess we’re Garbage anyways.” Osheaga always has that token 90’s band that fails to disappoint. And over on the Green Stage, A$AP Rocky and his crew were running things. My colleague, Lana, was unsure if the A$AP was really good, or the crowd was insane. The girls in the crowd had apparently been pulled straight from rap music videos, as their moves were, um, bootylicious? (I’m gonna bring that saying back…)

A few quick electronic dance acts to note: SBTRKT were mixing synths with steel drums, cowbells, and piercing vocals; Nosaj Thing was ambient, sounded great – but his equipment kept messing up; Adventure Club decided to remix Brand New – on the day Brand New was perfoming – and they slayed the Picnik stage.

Phew. Okay. Two more acts: Yeasayer and Snoop Lion/Dogg. Yeasayer sounded better than they do on record, had some incredibly trippy lights, and the crowd was insane. “Longevity” may be my new favorite song, and I’m so glad I caught them over on the Green Stage. To finish off the day, I had to witness the reincarnation of Snoop Dogg. After a forty minute delay, turns out Snoop Lion is just Snoop Dogg with a rasta beanie doing a Snoop Dogg verse medley, singing “Gin & Juice,” “The Next Episode,” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Throw in his verse from Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” his new single “La La La,” and it’s a complete set. Snoop has turned into a novelty act, and seeing him once at Osheaga (two years ago) was enough for me.

All three days of Osheaga have ended up selling out. If they want this to happen next year, I’d hope they take their headlining acts more seriously. There’s nothing wrong with Snoop Lion as a festival act – but headliner? Forget it. Take a gander at some photos of the day provided by the festival. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

Snoop Dogg - By Nick Leger

Brand New - By Patrick Beaudry
Brand New - By Patrick Beaudry

Nosaj Thing - Osheaga 2012

Plants and Animals - By Patrick Beaudry
Plants and Animals - By Patrick Beaudry

Black Lips - By Nick Leger

Snoop Dogg - By Patrick Beaudry

Thanks to Lana, Alex, and Willow.

Osheaga Day 1: Friday Review and Roundup

Friday at Osheaga was kind of a nightmare for me, and several regulars who have been attending this festival for a while. First off, I was denied photo pit access and my two DSLRs were reduced to paperweights. Second, I left halfway through the day due to an intense migraine or heat exhaustion or… something. This review would be more in-depth otherwise, and  I sincerely apologize for that. And third – it was the most packed day at Osheaga. Ever. Forty thousand people. The Montreal music festival has been around since 2006, and has grown every year. Last year was nearly a sellout crowd when Eminem decided to show up. And today, it actually sold out.

Fun. by Pat Beaudry
Fun. by Pat Beaudry

Fun. is probably one the best bands to book at a festival. Yes, they’ve gone mainstream with two radio hits, and perhaps they’re overplayed – but they’re just so damn fun, for lack of a better word. Nate Ruess kept the huge early crowd singing, clapping, and dancing throughout their set. Their electric opening with “One Foot” proves that they’re an amazing live talent, while “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” proved that they’ll be a success for years to come. Down With Webster was, uh, interesting. I stuck around for a couple songs as they had gathered a rather measly crowd. I suppose it wasn’t their “Time to Win.”

Icelandic phenoms Of Monsters and Men gathered a huge crowd over on the Green Stage. Like, huge. Near headliner huge. And they sounded amazing. “From Finner” had the crowd “la-la-la”-ing along, and “Little Talks” had everyone moving their feet. They aren’t all that active on stage, but I don’t think they need to be. After hearing some weird African/French stylings from Amadou & Miriam, I had to high tail it out of there before I passed out. The following is a consensus I got from my fellow festival goers and associates.

The Weeknd was in top notch form, despite all those whisperings months ago that he just sucked live. I heard he was better in the sunshine than in a dark club environment. He sounded sharp, soulful, and chill as ever. Though I’ve gotta ask – why the hell is the dude always wearing camo? That shit went out of style when I was six, didn’t it?

Wanna know who was apparently the best performance of the day? That redhead lady from across the pond: Florence + The Machine. At first, she had everyone put someone on their shoulders to start the set, and descended into some of her hits like “Dogs Days are Over,” “Shake It Out,” and “What the Water Gave Me.” She seems to be fully recovered from her recent vocal strain, and we’re happy to hear it. Over on the Tree Stage, I heard Montreal’s own Half Moon Run was pretty awesome. Give them a chance if they ever make their way to you.

Finally, there’s the matter of MGMT. Yes, they played “Time to Pretend.” And yes, they sung a bunch of songs off their sophomore album that I detest. There were glow sticks. There were a bunch of people on shrooms. No, they didn’t play “Kids.” And apparently, there are no pictures online of their performance. People left midway through the performance, and their overall setlist just didn’t have enough to keep the casual fans entertained. Their performance itself? Lackluster, or so I hear. Unrehearsed, and probably something you could enjoy if you were really high. Sigur Ros would’ve been a better choice to check out, so I hear.

“But Jake! What about Justice?”  said no one who visits this site.  I’m not gonna comment. I love Justice, and was thinking about coming back to the fest if I was well enough just to catch them. Some people say they can’t get over how amazing it was. Other say they were underwhelmed and were merely staring at a huge light-up cross all night. This is pretty accurate:

Justice by Pat Beaudry
Justice by Pat Beaudry

I don’t know what the complainers were expecting. Now, the big question is – will Snoop Dogg perform as Snoop Lion tomorrow? And will hologram Tupac make a reappearance? I’ll have the answers tomorrow.

Of Monsters And Men - By Tim Snow

The Weeknd by Pat Beaudry
The Weeknd by Pat Beaudry

Florence by Pat Beaudry
Florence by Pat Beaudry

Refused: A Night in Photos

Refused - Dennis Lyxzén

Let me first start off this review by saying this: Refused was before my time. I was a very young soul when they first broke out onto the scene. When I came out of my cave of musical ineptness, I knew they were great, and I knew there was a call for them to reunite, play some shows, or maybe make some new music. While the latter seems to be unlikely, I will say that I’m glad they chose to exit the underworld of disbanded groups – at least for the time being.

Refused - Magnus Flagge
Refused - Magnus Flagge

“Sorry for taking twenty years to get to Canada,” frontman Dennis Lyxzén said to the Montreal crowd, “I think we were supposed to come up here in 1998 – but then we broke up.” However, they sure as hell made up for it fourteen years later at their inaugural show in Canada. Fifteen songs that punched, rocked, and had the crowd of sweaty moshers moving from the back to the front of the Metropolis floor.

Refused - Dennis Lyxzén
Refused - Dennis Lyxzén

Lyxzén: “I used to a very angry young man. So I was wondering if I’d be able to sing these same lyrics with the same meaning after fourteen years. And you know what? These words mean more than ever.” And after adding that the world is more fucked up than ever, he went right into it all. The band was tight, Lyxzén showed ferocity and energy that is seen in very few performers these days. “Coup d’État” rang through the venue with blistering noise and precision, “Rather Be Dead” was forceful, and “The Shape of Punk to Come” could’ve very well ended the night with the whole crowd satisfied.

Refused - Jon Brännström
Refused - Jon Brännström

But then they had to do an encore. And the opening notes of “New Noise” were heard. And then Lyxzén launched into the vocals. I haven’t been attending concerts for very long when you put my lifetime into a grander perspective, but I can honestly say – and others who have been seeing shows for much longer than me can attest to this – that I have never felt chills like this at a show. Never. This was an amazing spectacle, from a bunch of Swedes who wanted to play some punk music. To those of you who never got the chance to see Refused live – I pity you tremendously whether you enjoy the genre or not.

Refused - Dennis Lyxzén
Refused - Dennis Lyxzén

(And forgive my lack of good photos this time around. It was a rough night in the pit, to say the least.)

Setlist: Refused at Metropolis, Montreal, Qc
Full set of Photos: jakemullan’s flickr

The Hives: A Night in Photos

The Hives - Howlin' Pelle Almqvist

Live performance is a skill I have seen very few bands master. Sure, I come on here a lot and post up some pictures, and often I tell you just how good a band is. I urge you to see a band – not because they’re perfect live, but because they’re darn good. Today, I’m going to preach to you that The Hives are one of the best live bands out there.

The Hives - Nicholaus Arson (Niklas Almqvist)

The Swedes decided to hit some east coast cities in North America before they pack up and play some more festivals in Europe. It’s been four years since they hit up Montreal, and the turn out for their show was superb. Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist and company walked on stage, sporting their formal attire with matching top hats. They wasted very little time and opened up with “Try It Again.” They had me singing along while I snapped my pictures, and they had the kids in the pit moshing and dancing away.

The Hives - Howlin' Pelle Almqvist
The Hives - Howlin' Pelle Almqvist

They had a very short setlist: only sixteen songs, most of them lasting less than three minutes, and the majority of them off the new album. “Take Back the Toys” and “1000 Answers” proved to be incredibly for fun for everyone, as the crowd didn’t seem to mind the group shelling out new material. However, the very talkative Per Almqvist (Howlin’ Pelle’s real name) did ask them for their input, “Do you want to hear a new song or an old song?” To which the crowd responded with “old!”

The Hives - Nicholaus Arson (Niklas Almqvist)
The Hives - Nicholaus Arson (Niklas Almqvist)

To which he replied, “Fuck you, you’re old! This is new, unlike all you who just said ‘old.'” He also took a swig of beer at one point in the show, looked at the bottle and asked, “Corona Extra? Is that a Canadian specialty?” He’s absolutely hilarious and knows how to entertain between songs. And while his French isn’t perfect, as he referred to “Tick Tick Boom” as a song from the year 10,000 (dix mille – not deux mille), he had the Montreal crowd cheering at every French sentence. Did I mention that their stagehands are dressed up as ninjas for no good reason? Yeah, don’t ask.

The Hives -Vigilante Carlstroem (Mikael Karlsson)
The Hives -Vigilante Carlstroem (Mikael Karlsson)

Did “Tick Tick Boom” and “Hate To Say I Told You So” sound good? Really? What do you think? Awesome. It’s not one single song that makes The Hives so good – it’s the way they move around stage, how Pelle twirls and tosses his mic all over the place, how Nicholaus has this crazy demonic look on his face when he strums his guitar, how Chris is constantly throwing out his drumsticks to the crowd, and how the formal attire slowly becomes a sweaty mess of white dress shirts. You can plainly see that they give it their absolute all every single night. The Hives don’t look at their live shows as something they have to do to make a buck. No, to them, it’s not a job. It’s a passion and love for the stage, and for the crowd that they feed off of.

Setlist: The Hives at Metropolis in Montreal, Qc

Full Set of Photos: jakemullan’s flickr