Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Got $leazy, Swore, and Shook

Apologies for this not being posted earlier. Life likes to intervene in my blogging schedule. You know how it goes: somebody hands you a movie, and the next thing you know it's 5 days later and you haven't moved in roughly as much time from your keyboard. Though I'm happy to say, Merry Christmas Eve is coming along quite smoothly. I'll have themes for y'all next blog post.

Today's post, though, is all about live shows, of which there have been many this past week (fuck yeah, absurd sentence structure).

First, for those of you who don't attend Purchase, Culture Shock was this weekend. Culture Shock is our annual 2 day music festival, usually showcasing a wide variety of different acts. Key word being "usually". This year's festival drew a lot of criticism for its lack of diversity, which I wholeheartedly agree with. The vast majority of the bands fell into either the "let's all smoke weed and be happy with lots of clean delayed guitar tones and clean delayed vocals" indie category or the "WE'RE LOUD AND ABRASIVE BUT NOT SLOPPY, IT'S A VIBE THING" indie category.

Not that I have a problem with indie music. It has to be done right though. See Sufjan Stevens, or Stereolab.

One band stuck out this festival though. I'd had the pleasure of seeing them once before, and they never cease to be awesome. Enter Swear And Shake.

A quartet comprised of bass, drums, electric and acoustic guitar and male/female vocal interplay, the group writes wonderful singer songwriter-esque music, but without all of the pitfalls the genre encounters. Vocalists Kari Spieler and Adam McHeffey intertwine with a mastery of those twice their age and experience, the arrangements are well thought out without ever being overwhelming, and the group isn't afraid to drop bars at (pardon) the drop of a hat. Recommended listening? "Johnnie". Or anything off of their recently released EP, honestly.

Last Wednesday saw me finally going to see Ke$ha live. And let me tell you.


I think part of the reason I enjoyed myself so much was, much as I love Ke$ha, I was expecting it to suck. Let's be real for a minute; the girl has so much polish on her recordings, would you honestly expect her to be able to replicate it all live?

The funny thing is she CAN. And did. The show got off to a REALLY shaky start with Sleazy. The mix was off, the vocal performance terrible and the dancing stilted and awkward. Once she hit her stride, though,  the girl could do no wrong in my eyes. The biggest shocker? Almost all of the show was live. Drums, synths, guitar, backing vocals, all were handled masterfully by her backing band. Apparently Ke$ha is a much more talented musician than most people give her credit for as well. Throughout the set she played guitar, synthesizer, drums on occasion... and even theremin.

Fucking THEREMIN. Let that sink in.

Highlights of the show:
- This is how it started. Those glasses were awesome. It's a shame Sleazy wasn't better.

- Right before "Grow A Pear" she asked the audience, "Now... what man wants to be abused onstage by me?" Of course, the crowd went wild. She deliberated for a while before pulling up a young gay man dressed to the nines. Cheetah print top, boyshorts, ripped leggings, heels, glitter everywhere, you name it. He broke down and started sobbing onstage, he was so happy.

Then, of course, he got saran wrapped to a chair and beat in the face with a giant stuffed penis. So classy.

- The whole stage setup and presentation was awesome. Her roadies built up the stage so that everyone got their own section to screw around in, the lighting design was awesome, and all of the costumes looked like they were ripped out of rejected Combichrist designs.

- Of course, the setlist. All of her hits, plus a couple of songs that were made a LOT better by a live band. "Dinosaur" sucks. But was really cool live.

So, if you get a chance to go see her in a standing room venue, DO IT. Definitely worth the thousands of shrieking preteens and their disgruntled parents.

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