In case you were wondering why there were no recent posts, it's because, well...I have nothing productive to say right now. Last week in London coming up, and then off to Scotland, Paris, and Dublin. You do still miss me, right? Back in NYC in no time.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I've made a very conscious effort while in London to not go completely nuts. I conserve my drinking, I try and get into as many shows for free as possible, and have only gone to H&M once. And those little sandwiches at the supermarket constitute for almost every meal because they are only £2. But yesterday I went into Virgin Megastore on Oxford to see
The Stands play a free show. I was there a tad bit early, so I started to browse. Half hour later I was six CDs deep. Mom, if you are reading this, I have a problem...I'm sorry.
It's just that it's been awhile since I've gotten to listen to a new album, and I knew walking in there that I had to pick up the Editors album, and then I just couldn't help myself. So I picked up the new album by The Stands, the debut from The Cribs, Hard-Fi (apparently they are supposed to be the next big British band, but I'm not convinced), The Futureheads (I know, I've been meaning to get this forever), and the new single for "Head Games" by the wonderful (and not to mention issue six's cover story) Five O'Clock Heroes. I did a bad bad thing, because now I'm really broke. Whoops.
The Stands put on a fantastic set to a very eager crowd. I caught them side-stage taking shots of what looked like whisky before the show. What rock stars. With a lead singer that is a complete clone of Bob Dylan, the band has more in common with The Beatles than just coming from Liverpool. I stood in line afterwards to get my CD signed. They asked where I was from and I said New York. They asked what part and me, the idiot, thought they didn't understand so I just kept saying New York over and over. Before I knew it I was flubbering my words, asking them to be in the magazine and shoed off by a security guard. Luckily, upon my departure, they were still smiling and said they'd be in touch. Phew.
When I get home, I shall provide an intense mix of all the music I've been listening to while here -- just one more reason to pull out the red carpet.
Posted by Rachael at 3:21 PM
Monday, July 25, 2005
So I'm going up the escalator getting off the tube at Oxford Circus -- headphones on, listening to The Stills (where is that new album? by the way) when I look up ahead of me and see a clown. I had a slight fear of clowns as a child, but thought that at the age of 21 I would have gotten over it by now. But this clown was completely freaky, looking more like Jack Nicholson in Batman as the Joker than say, Crusty the Clown. I avoided eye contact until he turned around and waved to me and tipped his hat. I wanted to run, but my exits were limited. So I smiled. And then I realized I only had 2 more weeks left in this city, and how fast this summer has gone.
This weekend: Didn't go to Scotland. Didn't see Clor (sold out). Instead, I was the tourist with Liz and we saw the big sights all around the city. Then I realized I had $60 left to my name and then I started to hyperventilate. It will be amusing to go back to New York after London and actually think it’s cheap. Damn that exchange rate.
So with the last of my money I will hit up Virgin today. Not only does the Editors album come out, but The Stands are doing a free (!) in-store performance to celebrate the release of the new album, Horse Fabulous.
Just got of the phone with Jof from The Boy Least Likely To. Look for an interview next week after getting back from Amsterdam this weekend. Yes that's right, I said Amsterdam.
And before that, I will find another band that will become a new obsession. Seems reasonable, right? Right.
Posted by Rachael at 8:12 AM
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Just to let you know -- I'm okay. No need to worry, this one doesn't seem to be as destructive. Everyone is glued to the TV here at school because our dorm is basically right next to Warren St tube stop. So we're stuck here, and what a better time to blog, right?
Unfortunately, not much to report. We saw the BBC Proms last night which was quite extraordinary, just to be in the Royal Albert Hall. It's beautiful. Afterwards we felt it necessary to grab my laptop, my Donnie Darko DVD and head to Regent's Park for a late night show. It's quite dark there, and when you are watching a scary movie, somewhat "enhanced"...well let's just say that every noise caused us to jump. We lasted half way through the movie, chugging red wine, smoking cigarettes...wondering if Frank was in the bushes before calling it a night. It was great.
Tonight I'm going back to The Metro (basically because I can walk there to avoid hassle) to check out Clor, another buzz band here in London that we shall see if they are worth the hype. I'll let you know tomorrow!
Yay..Liz arrives tomorrow too and if she reads this before calling me, don't cancel your trip, and how do you feel about heading up to Scotland for the weekend?
In the words of my mother, "be good". Yes mum!
Posted by Rachael at 10:23 AM
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Can't. stop. listening. Officially. addicted. to. The Subways.
Don't believe me yet? Watch.
Rock & Roll Queen (windows media player)
Rock & Roll Queen (real player)
Oh Yeah (windows media player)
Oh Yeah (real player)
That's what I thought.
I had big plans for lots of shows this week, but instead I have to put on my other cultural hat that doesn't involve dive bars and small clubs. Last night I saw the artist formerly known as Ross Gellar a.k.a David Schwimmer in Neil Labute's new play Some Girls. Not terrible, but the poor guy will never be seen as anything but a friend. Tonight I'm off to the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms. But tomorrow I'll be back to normal. I think. Well, Liz comes to town in 2 days, so I suppose this weekend will be anything but normal.
Posted by Rachael at 8:10 AM
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Brace yourself. Watch your belongings. The Subways will take over your world. I make fun of my own mother for her over exaggeration of everything (this is the best restaurant, moisturizer, apple, etc). But, my god, last night was the best show I've been to in London.
I heard the buzz, I read the reviews, and I knew this band was supposed to be great. They are young, hip, gritty, etc...every it word you could think of. I tend to be cynical so I was expecting it to be okay, but I was not prepared. I found myself in the middle of the wildest pack of Britons I have ever seen screaming along to every song. And that was just the crowd. Three young musicians had everything you want to see in a live show. It wasn't at all forced, the music led the way and they followed. I saw people crowd surfing in a 200+ crowd packed into a tiny room...including Billy, the lead guitarist.
I can't describe the vibe and reaction in that room last night. It was just incredible. Katie predicts they'll be huge next year. I don't doubt it. They've got everything going for them, and a killer debut album to prove it. Get it now. See them now. Just watch out for the guy with the cigarette next to you when you find yourself caught in a mosh pit. It could get a tad scary.
That, my friends, was the best show ever.
Posted by Rachael at 8:23 AM
Monday, July 18, 2005
Finally a picture I took. Did I mention how great this band is? Check them out...now
Posted by Rachael at 9:17 AM
I’m beginning to tweak out a little bit from lack of nicotine. Instead, I stocked up on way too much medication and new CDs. One of which is the exceptional debut album from The Subways. I'll be seeing them tonight and hopefully will get to interview them before I leave.
The Subways are the concoction of two lovers and a garage. Their dirty rock infused pop is inherently catchy and genius at the same time. The won the Glastonbury new bands competition last year and have been gaining buzz since. Did I mention they aren't signed? V. impressive.
MP3's (click on link)
Click here to buy their debut, Young For Eternity
Posted by Rachael at 8:23 AM
Sunday, July 17, 2005
So this cold has turned into quite the chest infection. I can't smoke cigarettes and find solace in air conditioned locations. Today I spent the majority of the day at the Apple store trying to rebuild my computer after they had to erase my entire hard drive. I attempted to upload some pictures and music, but only got so far. Pictures are up on Flikr to your right. More to come.
But yesterday I spent the majority of my day somewhere quite far from the Steve Jobs locale -- West Kensington, to interview and watch FeverKing, perhaps my new favorite band on this side of the ocean. I remembered being impressed with them the first time I saw them, and yet last night it was top notch. Nice fellas too. Not only did I get a guitar pick flung especially to me by the uber talented guitar player Chaz, but we even got a dedication to their "American friends." Look out for these boys, they'll make it to New York soon, if I have anything to say about it. And be sure to check out the article in the next issue, that will come out...er...soon.
For now, enjoy some live tracks. (right click, save as)
Posted by Rachael at 5:07 PM
Friday, July 15, 2005
This may not be as in-depth as I had hoped, mostly because it's almost a week later now, and I can't read most of my notes. My entire body is so congested I feel as though I may explode. But that did not stop me from seeing A Winter's Tale at the famous Globe Theatre last night and then hitting up The Metro for some £1.50 mixed drinks and killer tunes (Editors, Maximo, Futureheads, Bloc Party, etc -- I love London). Regardless, here is the recap of the second day of Oxegen, as promised.
We woke up late. My plan was to let my concert accompanists sleep a little longer than the day before, but insisted we make it in time for Rilo Kiley and Maximo Park. My alarm never went off. I woke up at 12:15, just as Maximo Park was to take the stage. Big bummer.
So the first act we saw was an old favorite Josh Rouse. If you have yet to hear this guy, please do. He is ridiculously catchy, but utterly talented. He played all my favorite songs and more, and unveiled some new songs from an up-coming album, rumored to be released this fall. Can't wait.
Suzanne Vega was up next and Liz is a big fan. So as Josh opted out of this set, Liz and I swayed along with some very dedicated fans. I only knew that one song with the do do dos, so that was fun. She had a very talented bass player up on stage that did some crazy fingerings. Never seen anything like it.
The day was starting off slow, but I knew that we had many long awaited acts later that night. It was the most beautiful day ever, the mud had dried and the Irish were slowly getting more and more burnt. We sat outside by the main stage for a bit to listen to Feeder before heading over to the Ticket Stage for The Ordinary Boys. Luckily we ran into my cousin who was working at the Waffle Wagon that day, who hooked us up with some free food. Nice to have family in opportune places. The Ordinary Boys, who I had seen play with The Five O'Clock Heroes and The Bravery back in New York put on a fantastic show. I see these boys making it big pretty soon.
We caught a little bit of alt-country act Mundy on the same stage before I started to get really excited. The Futureheads were up next. Hands down one of the best live bands I've seen this year, I could not have hyped this band up enough to my two friends. Playing to a huge crowd in the Green Tent, they did not disappointt. The "House of Love" audience participation will always give me chills, and my only qualm was the fact I had to leave early to head to the New Tent to check out The Editors.
Introduced to me in the last few months by bloggers extraordinaire Nora, Jeff, and Eric, The Editors was one of the highly anticipated bands of the weekend. I ran over to the stage, excited for the band as well as some shade and walked in just as they were starting their set. They pulled a decent crowd, and were dead on with each song. I have to get this album ASAP because each song was equally as progressively haunting as well as impressive. The lead singer was so into the songs that at times I thought he might tear his face off (literally). And when they played "Munich" and "Bullets" I loved every second of it. Bravo.
We then trekked our way back to the main stage (alongside 70,000 people) for the big act of the day, The Killers. I think every single person at that concert was there. I'm not a hater of this band, in fact I do quite like them, but unfortunately this set was awarded as the worst of the weekend. Clearly nervous and uncomfortable on stage, Flowers awkwardly tried to connect with the large crowd that all gathered to hear the band play. The majority of their set, at least half the crowd could hardly hear the band, due to a few speakers malfunctioning. What resulted was a large amount of people looking around at each other, attempting to sing along, and eventually checking their schedules to see what other bands were on stage instead. I was one of them.
While Liz stayed for a sing-a-long to Keane (who from what I heard sounded great), Josh and I headed back over to the New Band Stage (with some waffles on the way) for The Magic Numbers and Brendan Benson. We caught the last 15 minutes of the Magic Numbers, who are getting a lot of press over here and walked into a big dance soiree. It was crazy! And the band loved every second of it. I was patiently waiting Mr. Benson's set, and when he came on 10 minutes early I was thrilled. Despite having some very strange and bordering on creepy people next to me, I googly eyed my way at Mr. Benson while singing along. 20 minutes later, he was off the stage, and I was still standing there bewildered. I don't know why this set was so short, but I was inevitably disappointed.
I was content with my weekend, and as were my pals, so we thought we'd wander for the remainder sets to catch a little bit of Foo Fighters on the main stage and the godfather of soul himself James Brown. The stages should have been switched, as the Green Tent was overflowing with people trying to catch a glimpse of the sparking green jacket Mr. Brown was pimping. After a little dancing to some great funk, and heading to the Foo Fighters for one last beer, we called it a day, a weekend, a great experience and hopped on the bus back to Dublin. Boy did I sleep well that night, and am still wearing my wristband. Tickets are already on sale for next year, and part of me is figuring out how I can make my way back to Ireland for another great weekend.
I swear I'm going to have a ton of pictures up hopefully next week. I have my appointment to get my computer fixed at the Apple Store tonight. I'm interviewing The FeverKings tomorrow and checking out their gig, and got a bunch of shows booked for next week. A big hello to everyone at home that bothers to read this and check up on me, and a happy birthday to Dr. Nick and Sara. Wish I could be there to celebrate!
Posted by Rachael at 10:38 AM
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
I know I promised I would keep this blog thriving while I am overseas, but it's become a bit more difficult that anticipated. First off, I actually have work to do outside of class that unfortunately is barging in on my time exploring, sight seeing, and show hopping. But yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the BBC studios and help produce a news segment. Very cool. That place is amazing, it's like its own little world inside.
I am finally in London for a weekend, so I'm going to see the sights and finally hit up the Apple store so that my computer will be fixed. Then, fingers crossed, I will be able to upload alllll the pictures (including a ton from Oxegen this weekend) and some of the new tunes I've been listening to here. We hope.
But without further adieu, my weekend at Oxegen...
So after two days chillin with Liz and Josh at Trinity and then heading out to the suburbs to see my cousins, we were off for some musical madness. Hopped on the bus (20 euro, bleh) and while Liz and I gabbed and excitement rose, Josh slept. Typical. It would be two hours until we finally made it inside the gates.
A brief period ensued of sitting on gates, waiting, smoking cigarettes, and digesting hamburgers while the thought crossed my mind that we may not actually get in. But no, I was the optimistic one. My uncle had gotten us tickets from the insurance company he works for, that turns out covers the whole event. Finally, we had tickets in our hands and we were good to go.
First stop? Kaiser Chiefs.
I could hear them playing as I ran across the mud filled lawns. "Every day I Love You Less and Less" was blaring out from the main stage. I tried to sing along as I ran, trying to catch a look. We made our way to the left of the stage and I danced along while Liz and Josh got the beer. "Oh My God" seemed to be the big hit and I literally got chills watching thousands of fans pumping their hands in the air, singing along. Ricky Wilson, never one to stand in one spot for too long, ran from side the side of the stage, then into the crowd, all the while scissor kicking his way. It was the perfect start of the day.
Throughout the weekend I was mocked for my imperialist like manner, dragging my friends from stage to stage to make sure that we made the most out of the weekend. I didn't even let myself drink that much. We had a mission.
We headed into the green tent that had a nice shade for a singer/songwriter from Ireland Stephen Fretwell. Very pleasant and somewhat haunting vocally, this guy resembled Chris Martin, but much less subdued. Unfortunately this was one of the only artists we had time to see that I didn't already know of. But luckily, he was nothing of a disappointment.
We headed back up to the main stage to catch the tail end of Razorlight's set. As I walked along I danced to "Golden Touch." Didn't sound that great live, to be honest. But we had to stay there because I promised Liz and Josh we would watch Snoop Dog. Yes I said it, Snoop Dogitty Dog.
This probably was not the crowd that Snoop is used to playing for, and probably not the festival he exactly fit into, but nonetheless, he put on a great show for a packed crowd. I guess the Irish really love this guy. I had to leave half way through to meet my cousin outside, but as I left I saw him puff on a big ass joint on stage. So pimp.
As soon as Snoop was done we ran over to the Ticket Stage where Echo and the Bunnymen had started their set five minutes prior. We found ourselves walking into a cover of "Hey Babe Take A Walk on the Wildside" and I was floored. It was awesome. Liz and I danced away, as they went from that great cover into "Killing Moon." Ian McCulloch deemed it the best song he's ever written and he's absolutely right. Finishing the set with tunes like "The Cutter" and "The Game" their set was surprisingly one of my favorites of the day.
We trekked back to the Green Room for what was supposed to be a highly anticipated set from Mr. Conor Oberst himself. When a very non-Bright Eyes looking group came on stage, I was pissed. A girl started clicking away with her camera and I informed her that it was not, in fact, the indie hero himself. We left and asked the security guard what had happened. He didn't even have Bright Eyes on his list. Not cool, Oberst, not cool.
So instead we found it fit to go back to the Ticket Stage and cheer (or sneer) at NYC's own The Bravery. I had only seen a couple songs performed when Five O'Clock Heroes opened up for them back at Northsix, so I thought it was about time I gave these guys a fair shot. To be honest, the set was not horrific, and they are not a terrible band. They just try way too hard. "Honest Mistake" and "Fearless" are perfectly likeable songs. I really wanted to believe in them. But the crashing of the drums at the end, and the big swigs of their beer, I just couldn't help but laugh.
The laughs quickly changed over, as we were in the middle of a packed crowd counting down the seconds until Bloc Party. From the first beat of "Little Thoughts" I knew this would be the best set of the day. And it was. My first time seeing this band was nothing short of my high expectations. I danced, I sang, I cheered. From "Helicopter" to "She's Hearing Voices" to "Banquet" I was in pure glee. The crowd was not as enthusiastic as anticipated but that didn't stop me. Despite some tech problems, and a huge mistake by calling Ireland the UK, this was definitely the highlight of the entire weekend.
The Irish must have been saving all the energy for Interpol, who headlined a show in the Green Room. The tent was packed, people were sweaty and full of mud, but the lights shined and the bass started and my god, and it was madness. I had never seen a crowd respond like that, even seeing them play in New York. It was amazing. They started off the set with "Evil" into "Slow Hands" and it didn't stop. When the last song was played and the band had left, thousands were left standing, clearly ready for some more. Liz didn't think anyone knew them over here, but I knew differently. To think these NYUers have now taken over the world. Incredible.
Our feet were killing, we smelled like dirty Irishmen and cigarettes, and our wallets were now practically empty. We sat on the outskirts of the main stage for a bit of Green Day before calling it a day. Looked like a ball and one lucky Irish gal got to the take the stage and keep the guitar she played. We walked out to the sound of "Minority" and as the bus pulled away we saw some fire on stage. But my eyes were slowly closing, and knew I needed some much needed rest for Day Two.
Posted by Rachael at 8:53 AM
Monday, July 11, 2005
Hi all -- just wanted to write a quick post to let all of you know I'm back in London. It was quite a bizarre weekend as you can imagine, I am thanking my lucky stars that my flight was when it was Thursday morning. Oxegen was fantastic. I'll have a complete review up tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on how much work I have to do otherwise. It feels a little strange getting back here today, I passed by two of the sites on my bus ride in from the airport. There's a huge memorial up at Kings Cross that is quite beautiful. I took the tube and it was fine, but a little odd, if you can imagine. Anyways, the city of London is a fantastic place and it's people are amazing. My thoughts are out to all the families and friends of those missing.
Posted by Rachael at 9:38 AM
Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Off to Dublin at 3 in the morning tomorrow for Oxegen Festival. Will have a complete review and hopefully pictures next week. Oh boy, this is going to be fun...
Posted by Rachael at 9:48 AM
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
I interrupt your regular programming er blog to start off with a guest blogger -- the one and only Katie Friel, my new suitemate who is a Media Studies major at Catholic University and soon to be station manager at WCUA She was with me last night and we both were completely and utterly wowed by the opener. In fact we both were like 10 year old school girls afterwards when we chatted with him. You have got to hear this guy play live.
Christopher Rees, an English singer songwriter who sounds like he is more likely from Louisiana than from London.
He started off his performance, which is a Johnny Cash, Ryan Adams inspired alternative-country with a song on his steel guitar. Whereas Bigital (the previous band) simply provided background noise for common bar conversation, Rees commanded the attention of almost every person in the room. Even the bartenders were too distracted to pour pints. With his raspy, melodic voice, Rees sings of broken hearts, sleepless nights and missing home, a catalogue that would impress even the most cynical of alternative country fans. Rees even played a song he wrote in the style of Cash, just a day after he found out the legendary American singer had died. It does not disappoint. With his clenched eyes, harmonica and acoustic guitar, the song leaves the audience in awe, and running to the bar to trade in their Stella Artois for a double Jack Daniels.
Though it is impossible to disassociate Rees with Adams, Cash and Jack White, there is something that is uniquely his. Whereas most alternative country artists are known for creating too much, for making a few good songs instead of one great song, with Rees it does not feel this way. By providing a brief back story for every song before he begins, the audience gets the sense that they are being allowed into something special. I walked away feeling bad for the band that followed him.
Touché...although I loved the following band...
Can a stage be too crowded for its own good? At a small venue like the Windmill, the seven plus members of London’s indie pop band The Boy Least Likely to found little room to move around. But playing off tracks from their critically acclaimed album The Best Party Ever, the band opted for less show, more play.
Like The Arcade Fire and The Brunettes, it seems like the more the merrier in executing happy go lucky simple melodies with complicated musicianship. From violins to recorders, and throwing in a banjo, the band seemed more like a garage sale of old instruments than a polished band. But on stage, between the tripping wires and the lack of personal space, they had fun. And dammit, I did too.
You really can’t help but like this band. They are all smiles and their music is so damn catchy you can’t help but sing along. And even when they brought out the “slow songs” lead singer Jof Owen said they’ll do them “quickly.” Their on stage wit matches their clever lyrics. The last song, and perhaps their best, “Be Gentle With Me” was easily stuck in my head until the morning after, and gladly so. While their harmonies are not completely up to par, The Boy Least Likely to strives in making a song accessible – for the dancers, the music aficionados, and me.
I wish I could give you some tunes because they both gave me copies of their newest albums last night, but my computer is still out sick. One of these days I'll get you lots of MP3s and pictures, but until then, enjoy one track from The Boy Least Likely to, courtesy of Cellophane Girl
Ciao for now.
Posted by Rachael at 12:04 PM
Sunday, July 3, 2005
I constantly feel like I'm never in the right place at the right time. I was bummed I was missing Live 8 yesterday. I could have seen Pink Floyd. Sir Paul McCartney. History, in the making. But then I was sitting out on the beach of the Mediterranean, and I thought, well...this isn't so bad.
In case you weren't aware where Malta is, besides the fact it is where they filmed Troy and Gladiator, it's a teeny tiny island right below Sicily that takes about an hour to drive around, and just so happens to be where my dad is from. All his side of the family is still here, so every time we're over here it's like a big family reunion. Last night my uncle was married, and that resulted in a lot of rum and cokes (they don't know what cranberry juice is here) and many a relatives asking how my studies are. I stifled myself from admitting I prefer the late night band reviews opposed to Physics. Speaking of bands, the terrible wedding band that apparently my dad hired (clearly without my consent) was awful. I told my sister when she gets married (hopefully soon) and when I am maid of honor (she claims), I will get her Guster. Now that would be a great wedding band.
Speaking of Guster, they just played with Boston Pops last week and finally updated their road journal. Check out the "sky-high" experience with some pictures here.
I'm back in London tomorrow and cannot wait to hear if any of my friends could even see anything at Live 8. I booked my tickets for Dublin and will be leaving bright and early Thursday morning to meet up with some hometown folk plus the one and only Liz, and the Irish side of the fam. We'll all be going to Oxegen this weekend. I think I may die from music overload. I am a little excited. Just a little.
That will be my first music festival, but certainly not my last. I just found out I'm cleared for press passes for this years CMJ and after checking out the lineup....well, shit. Check it out here.
And the wonderful Nic Haracourt got a very cool write-up in the NY Times a week or two ago. Hands down the coolest person I ever spoke to, and not just because of his voice. Read the article here. Just a tad bit superior the Q+A we did in Issue Six. Maybe.
Looking forward to some shows this week checking out some more locals. I have to venture to the Apple Store in London because I've officially fucked up my computer. I feel like I'm going to Mecca. Have you seen this place? I think it just may beat Soho's. We'll see.
More music, and hopefully some pictures coming up. Stay tuned.
Posted by Rachael at 8:38 AM