Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Concerts July & August 2016: Ryan Adams, Best Coast & Motion City Soundtrack

I realized right before Motion City Soundtrack that it will be the only show I'm going to in August...and because I didn't see Bloc Party when they came to Albany due to being really tired after running a quidditch tournament for the library, I figure I can just make July and August one post. I usually have a lot more concerts to attend in the Summer than any other time of the year but funny enough, it seems like Fall is going to be the busy time - Explosions in the Sky, Watsky, Henry Rollins, Ben Folds and Angel Olsen! And three of those are actually in the Albany area...which obviously are the best concerts because I don't have to travel. Anyway first up is a king amongst men (to me, at least) Ryan Adams...

July 24: Ryan Adams @ The Capital Theatre - Port Chester, NY
Opening Acts: Amanda Shires (who I officially worship after this concert)

I was probably 10-15 feet away from the stage...I tried to figure it out while I was waiting for Ryan Adams to come on. A couple minutes after I sat down, Ryan Adams actually came on stage to introduce Amanda Shires - I thought that was pretty cool of him since the artist usually likes to wait for the grand reveal during their set to say "here I am!" but not Ryan - he's like, "fuck those rules and you know what? Just rules in general." Amanda Shires came on and rocked her set - she's also of the alt country variety but more country than she is alt. She reminded me of Dolly Parton very much - especially her voice. She can also rock out on that steel guitar, which was her only instrument during the entire set. I can't stress enough how awesome she was. Please listen to her, if you think this might be your thing.
Then after overhearing the chatter of everyone around me after Amanda Shires' set, ("Damn, there's a squirtle somewhere around here and I can't find it,") especially the pretentious hipsters who were right next to me and probably students from my alma mater, SUNY Purchase, which is right next to Port Chester, let's be real, Ryan came on with The Infamous Stringdusters and Nicki Bluhm. Not his normal backing band, The Shining but regardless of that, they were fantastic. It definitely was a different vibe compared to when he plays with The Shining (he did the first time I saw him in Burlington, VT. last year). The stringdusters are 100% bluegrass and that's more of what we got but it was kind of cool to hear a song like "Give Me Something Good" or "To Be Young (Is to be Sad, Is to be High)" with a vastly different arrangement behind it. I was able to get some photos/videos but I tried to do it like a ninja because Ryan doesn't like people taking pictures because of his Meniere's disease and he doesn't want to risk the flash giving him an episode, which is understandable. He and his people specifically post signs EVERYWHERE in the venue during his shows that say "please no pictures, worried about flash going off" blah blah. And he's called people out for it too. I was so nervous my flash was going to go off and then Ryan would have scolded me from his stool and that would be the only and last time I would have actually interacted with one of my all time favorite artists. I say last time because I would be so mortified, I wouldn't be able to go to a concert of his again, let alone meet him. Wouldn't that have been great?! There's actually a picture I took that looks like he's looking at me and knew I was taking a photo...obviously I stopped after that.

See? I had a minor panic attack...

Anyway, he was great, as usual. He played three new songs that sounded promising. I also love that he's now embracing his sense of humor onstage: "the drugs around here are fucking great, apparently," he said when two drunkies in the front kept yelling "LA CIENEGA!!!" And I know they must have been drunk because out of Ryan Adams catalog of beautiful songs, you pick "La Cienega Just Smiled" to yell out as a request?

July 31: Best Coast @ Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park (Albany), NY
Opening Acts: The Stargazer Lilies

Oh Bethany and Bobb, it's always nice to see you. I've seen this band a couple of times now so every time I get a chance to see them, it's like going someplace familiar - because they're pretty consistent with their set and it's a very relaxed vibe. Plus, Best Coast fans, from what I've seen, aren't rude and give you your space during shows, so that's nice...unlike the Motion City Soundtrack show I went to two days after this at the same venue, but I'll get to that later. The opener would have been better if they turned their speakers down, not to sound like an old lady but seriously, it was so loud their music was muffled and inaudible. Crank it down to 11 at least, Stargazer Lilies. Your set would have sounded so much better if you did so. Maybe that was what they were going for, I don't know but all I know is I saw a co-worker during the set, we tried to talk for a little bit and were literally yelling into each others ears and could still hardly hear each other. What the hell, Stargazer Lilies? They were very shoe gaze, which was cool, and I think I probably would like them better listening to their recordings.
Here's my little cat is so jelly.

Best Coast's sound person was way more on top of things. I know it wasn't the usual sound guy at Upstate Concert Hall for both bands because I know what he looks like because I work with him at the library so it looks like they had their own guys. It looks like Bethany and Bobb have added a second (technically third while Bethany is playing,) guitarist to their live band to give Bethany some freedom to not play guitar sometimes if she wants to walk around in her gold lame heels (seriously, you need to see these shoes - I don't think I got a good enough photo of them unfortunately) and play the lead singer role. They played a lot of stuff from Fade Away for some reason but I'm not complaining about that. I've been listening to Fade Away a lot more lately - like the last couple of months so I was pleasantly surprised. They also played a lot from Crazy for You - going back to basics. They don't have anything to promote during this tour, so I think that's why they picked songs they usually don't play - they actually had the opportunity to play whatever they wanted. Also, just so you know if you're going to a show of theirs soon, they're selling Snacks (Bethany's cat,) stuffed animals on this tour for $5!

August 2: Motion City Soundtrack @ Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park (Albany), NY
Opening Acts: A Great Big Pile of Leaves, Rozwell Kid
 This will be my last live show with Motion City Soundtrack...allegedly. Anything is possible in the music world. I'm still hoping for a White Stripes reunion and probably will get it eventually.
The band is on their "So Long, Farewell" tour and have promised to pack it in after this three or four month tour. I'm sad to see them go but I think it's the perfect time for them - they stopped before they burned out. Motion City Soundtrack still produce great albums, have good lyrics and songs that can still cut any teen suffering from unrequited love in the heart with a knife.
A lot of bands should really do this more often - I'm talking to you U2...and stay away from Apple too, while you're at it. Anyway, the band played a great show and included all of their hits with an epic encore of "The Future Freaks Me Out." My only complaint, and this is in no way the band's fault, was the crowd - some of the rudest people I've had the unfortunate pleasure of spending time with at a concert. There was this one girl who kept touching me and my friends hips unexpectedly as she passed by (she was one of those "I need a drink every 5 minutes but I also want to stay in front,") for no reason and people were dancing when there was no room to dance. Like, we're sardines here. What are you doing? By the way, I've had experience in crappy crowds before, if you would like to read more of my feelings about this.
The openers didn't impress me too much. There is a lot of buzz about A Great Big Pile of Leaves but they didn't really do anything for me. Sounds like a pop punk Tokyo Police Club.

The Summer is almost over, I can't believe it. It goes by quicker every year, I think.

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