I finally got a chance to see Neko Case live. It was a shortened set since she was the opening act for Ray Lamontagne. The show was at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. She sounded great, and played mostly new stuff from her latest album that coincidentally was released that day. Fortunately, she’ll be coming back on her own tour in the winter. I hope to see her then.
Neko Case by daylight.
As for Ray Lamontagne. I wasn’t there to see him but figured what the hell. I know enough of his songs and I’ve seen plenty of singer-songwriters types. I’ve been blown away by the power of a single voice and an acoustic guitar. So I was surprised to see him with a full electric band.
I know he has a reputation as a very private person, but it felt like the audience and his band were interrupting his set. We left early, so I don’t know if he ever interacted with the audience or his band. While we were there he didn’t.
We’ve got a crowded calendar of upcoming live shows all at great venues:
Willie Nelson with Kacey Musgraves, August 19 at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.
We were watching an interview of Willie on CBS Sunday Morning and I said, I really want to see him before he dies. He’s the last of the real country singers I remember listening to growing up. Lo and behold he was coming. So we grabbed our tickets. Also, I’ve been wanting to go to the Greek ever since I missed seeing the Ramones there in ’92.
Dwight Yoakam with Los Lobos August 24 at the Wente Winery in Livermore.
We have seen Los Lobos so many times, I’ve lost count. I’m bragging not complaining. I love those guys. The concerts at Wente are a lot like Ravinia in Chicago – outdoors and classy.
John Mulaney October 5 at Symphony Hall, San Francisco.
One of the few standup comedians my wife doesn’t hate. John Mulaney is hilarious, plus this is going to be a gorgeous setting. We’re taking our daughter who loves John too. I’ve wanted to see the inside of Davies Symphony Hall, but not necessarily a symphony – don’t tell anyone.
Father John Misty with Phosphorescent October 7 at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.
This will be our second time seeing him. The first was in 2015 at the Wiltern in LA. By far one of the best shows I’ve seen in years (next to Mayer Hawthorne at the Fox). I love how people think he’s a prick and a pompous ass. It just shows that people don’t get satire. Kind of reminds me of Urge Overkill in that regard.
It’s been quite a month musically for me. In the course 8 days, I went to 4 different concerts.
The first one was Father John Misty down in LA at the Wiltern Theater. We’ve been wanting to see him for a while. His only Bay Area appearance was a festival with 100 bands I didn’t want to see, so we opted to go south instead.
A few days later, I took my daughter to Marina and the Diamonds at the Fox Theater in Oakland. She’s a great performer and her music sounds much better live than in recordings. I went with a buddy and his daughter. It’s good thing too, because I had a flat tire waiting for me at 11:30 pm in downtown Oakland. Not the best place for that.
At the last minute another friend of mine pinged me to go see Luna at the Fillmore in San Francisco. I’m not a huge fan of shoe-gazing smug rock, but they kept it together. The audience of decrepit hipsters didn’t age so well.
Lastly, we went to the 29th annual Bridge School Concert. It’s a fundraiser for a very special school started by Neil Young and his ex-wife Pegi. This was our second time, and like last year, it was an eclectic acoustic line up. The biggest surprise for me, was how much I enjoyed Ryan Adams. He’s a prolific songwriter, but he seems like a moody prick. I’ve heard “Give me something good” so many times on XM. But his live, solo acoustic version was much better.
I’m not a big fan of reunion shows. Like many guys “my age”, I was a huge fan of the Replacements, so I’m making the exception.
The last, and only time I got to see them was at Foellinger Auditorium while I was at the U of I. The rumor leading up to the show was they couldn’t stand each other anymore, AND they had cleaned up their act. For years, I had been dying to see them, but they never came to the towns where I lived. Since their last album was a little stale, I had lost some gumption.
I was working at this show as part of the student-run concert organization called Starcourse. Surprisingly, it hadn’t sold out right away and to promote it at the last minute we had signs saying “come see them before they break up.”
On the day of the show, I got to be on stage while they did their soundcheck. It was like getting a private concert – with their backs to me. I got that chill down my back when you hear a song live that you’ve only heard recorded.
I’ll try to write more, I have to get going.
When I was in college at the U of I, there was a great club in Champaign called Mabels. It’s long gone now, but it was one of the best venues I’ve ever been too. I saw some awesome shows there too.
I started a playlist on Spotify listing some of the bands I saw there between 1988 – 1992.
We went with our friends Pat and Rina to City Winery to check out the Josh Rouse show. Rouse has been around long enough to have amassed a decent body of work. It’s all singer/songwriter stuff, so the venue was perfect.
Rina was fascinated with groovy moves of the bass player who seemed to be listening to his own soundtrack. After the show his band was hanging out in the lobby and I managed to get some pics with us and said bass player.
Me and the bass player. I look like his manager.
Rina and Bass Player
Ever since they banned smoking in venues in Chicago, the experience has become more civilized. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about that. For this show, it was perfect. Had it been somewhere and someone else, I’m not so sure. All the clubs in town seem to be morphing towards the similar micro-brew-pub motif.