Tycho In Concert – Royal Oak, Michigan
I always describe Tycho as sounding like a day on a California beach set to music.
And not just the audio; their visuals tell a definite story. So I was pretty excited to see them last Friday in Royal Oak, Michigan, at the Royal Oak Music Theater.
For one, they don’t come to town very often. Heck, they don’t tour often. As soon as I saw they were heading to town, I snatched up a ticket.
But two, I love shooting live music, and any chance to photograph a band with such a visual vibe is an adventure.
Tycho did not disappoint. They drip with cool summer days, surf-side acoustics, and enveloping color and sound. They’re great musicians as well.
The problem? Concert goers who lit cigarettes and try to shove their way to the front row. I was second row, and felt a responsibility to those in front of me to help them enjoy the show unmolested. One 17 year old girl who tried wedging her way to the front, after a few shoves and blocks, called me “old” and said I looked like her dad. Fair enough – but you’re still not getting up front.
I’ll say I’ve never had a worse concert-going experience than I did at the Tycho show. The music and performance? Great. Perfect. The crowd? Miserable.
Still. Tick this one off the photographic bucket list.
A full concert from Spock’s Beard’s Day For Night tour. Their next album would be the Beard at the height of their power, but this one shows them off pretty well.
And it’s not like they just come out and play their 10+ minute songs. They’re entertainers. Just check out when Nick the drummer comes out for a trio guitar attack. That’s what a good concert does: it gives the audience a little something extra, a view of the personality of the band that you don’t find on an album.
Spock’s Beard was the pop prog band. Intricate and catchy, with a great knack for a melodic hook. That’s what made them so fun.
Soon there will be no such thing as your music library. There will be no such thing as your music. We had it all wrong! Information doesn’t want to be free, it wants to be a commodity.
I’m not shy about it: I still buy my music. Gladly.
Part of it is philosophical: I like the artist to directly benefit, however small their slice of the pie is. It’s like a vote for them.
Also, I’m old school in that I like to collect and organize my music library. My music belongs to me. I paid good money for it. And if I stop paying for it, my music will still be there – either on CDs or in iTunes. It doesn’t vanish to The Cloud™.
I know, I know, I’m old school. And it’s hard to fight trends like this one. We don’t watch TV via antenna signal anymore, no one signs up for Netflix’s DVD subscription service (except guess who!?), etc. The world of music is changing.
But for artists, they still have the same bills and responsibilities. They need to make money, and selling t-shirts doesn’t work for everyone.
I’m not sure what the answer is, exactly, but if you care about the artists that make the music you like, buy their stuff. Vote for their music with money.
This has been a pretty memorable music year for me. I can’t think of another year, except for maybe 2004-2005, or 1994, when things have lined up so well (maybe you need a 4 in the year number?).
Here are a few albums/songs/artists I enjoyed this year.
††† (Crosses) – The Epilogue
The War on Drugs – Under the Pressure
This was on a lot of people’s “best of” lists this year, including mine. It only took about a minute into the lead song on Lost In A Dream for me to hit “buy.” Even better is “An Ocean Between The Waves.”
Flyings Colors – Mask Machine
I’m actually a bigger fan of their first album, but Flying Colors – a prog super group I should’ve known about their first go-‘round – had a second great album with Second Nature. The breakdown at 3:28 is great with Neal Morse taking over vocals. Also check out “One Love Forever,” my favorite from the album.
Mastodon – The Motherload
Definitely NSFW after the 0:40 minute mark, but man – what a song, and what an album. I finally got to see Mastodon live this year, and while there was little to no twerking, they’re a great band.
“If you want you can will it. You can have – I can put it right there in your hands.”
View on YouTube
TV On The Radio – Careful You
Apparently everyone else has heard of TV On the Radio except for me. But now I get it. Especially with “Careful You” on their latest album.
Tycho – See
Pretty amazing video for a great song – just like all of Tycho’s stuff. Think early morning on a west coach beach, set to music. Great for working, or relaxing. Tycho does a great job of mixing analog with digital to build these lovely soundscapes – all to a catchy beat.
Beck – Waking Light (Live on The Tonight Show)
The whole “Morning Phase” album is a gorgeous piece of mellow gold (pardon the pun), but it starts so perfectly with “Morning” and winds through “Waking Light.” A lot of people are calling it the spiritual successor to Sea Change – I like to think of it as Beck doing John Denver.
“Stare chaos in the face,
Some things only can be made,
In the Storm.”
That line gets me every time. Not bad pop song writing from a bunch of prog guys and a handsome, talented lead singer.
Can’t you feel the warmth of my sincerity?
Interpol at the height of their powers, during the Antics era. “Not Even Jail” is one of those non-single songs that makes the album a joy to listen to from beginning to end.
And while I’m enjoying the new album, nothing beats the swagger and epic-ness of those early Interpol days. Think about the outro of “PDA” – those last few minutes are some of the most beautiful music made in the modern rock era.
I’ve been really digging the new stuff from Flying Colors, the supergroup pop band made of prog virtuosos – and it doesn’t get much better than the group doing Spock’s Beard’s “June.”
The second Flying Colors album is great, but the first album hits some emotional high points for me, like “Blue Ocean.” Just stellar work from a group of fantastic musicians.
If you want you can will it. You can have it. I can put it right there in your hands.
I have a theory that Mastodon, today, is like Metallica in the Black Album era: approachable metal for non-metalheads and casual fans. The new video for “The Motherload” also shows what a fun band they are. They’re able to laugh at themselves, and the music industry itself, as they take the heavy metal doom and fantasy tropes and pair them with the unexpected.
I mean, just look at those butts. It’s hypnotic.
“The Motherload” is Mastodon at its most radio-friendly approachability. Now with twerking!