london

Parquet Courts live at Village Underground 28/10

If you love great Sonic Youth cover bands – Parquet  Courts are the best! I hate being one of “those” people, but really once it’s stuck in your head you won’t be able to escape it either: this band has all of the fun of Daydream Nation with a young Thurston Moore look-alike with no Kim Gordon.

God I can’t believe I’m saying this.

Parquet Courts are quite good, but something feels amateurish. I don’t know what it is. Maybe because I’ve  just seen Jake Bugg (who is only three-years-old) and his odd sort of maturity, something felt kind of…off about the performance last night. It could be the problem is that they’re Americans who think “AW FUCK YEAH” and keep repeating themselves like they’re a fucking skipping compact disk.

They have all the indulgence of Television, the strangeness of Pavement, and the viciousness of, well, Sonic Youth.

But all I can do is sit here and compare them to other bands.

I don’t know what wrong with me. Sometimes it’s difficult to sit there and appropriately understand how you feel about a band. I think Parquet Court are quite good live. Good energy and all that shit. They even have some great songs to listen to sometimes, but I wouldn’t bother. In about three years I won’t give a fuck what a Parquet Court is and we can all move along.

Now I feel like an asshole and I’m going to go sit in my sad cave of journalism gloom.

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Jake Bugg live at the Brixton Academy 25/10

Last night was Jake Bugg’s final night at the Brixton Academy. His three-night stint was entirely sold out. Completely worth it.

I had been waiting to see Bugg for almost six months when I received the tickets for my birthday. To be honest, the anticipation was completely anticlimactic.

We arrived only in time to see opener honeyhoney (some idiotic American country/folk band that sings shit like “I ain’t no Southern Belle” and “I like whiskey when I’m sick. A man when I’m well.”) Thankfully their set went by quickly enough.

Now Mr. Bugg. The boy is 19-years-old and has the charisma of a piece of bark, but there’s still something about him that drove a packed house wild.

Some of his critics have whined that he needs to have a stage presence. That’s not what he needs. What Jake Bugg has that most musicians do not is two things. One, he is completely honest and still void of idiotic fame. And two, his music is still relatable to his listeners. It’s a trait is that is nearly dead. Musicians are so caught up in their own worlds they forget about the one they share.

The sound from the band last night was the best quality I have heard from any live act. Seriously. Bugg’s voice had the ability to soar straight through the crowd. Let’s hope he takes care of it so it ages more like Robert Smith and less like Dylan’s.

The setlist included favorites like “Lightening Bolt” and new singles “Slumville Sunrise” and “What Doesn’t Kill You.” The nicest surprise of the night came one song before the finale:

A lovely cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My.” Most of the audience seemed oblivious to the American songwriter’s tune, but you could tell the crowd was enamored. Guess how many of those kids will go home and unearth Neil Young in the morning?

The night was amazing. The venue was okay. But in the end, I’d say that Jake Bugg has all it takes to become important – he just needs to grow into his boots. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Oktoberfest Zeit

Turns out, London doesn’t know how to celebrate a good holiday.

I love Octoberfest. Coming from a large German-American community in the States, we always to a bad-ass ‘fest. It was always a joy to go to, even as a kid (get me a piece of fried dough cover in sugar and jobs a good ‘un).

This year, my boyfriend and I made a point to head to London’s Octoberfest in Kennington Park. We thought it was a brilliant idea: beer, German music and (hopefully) tasting fucking German food.

To put it lightly we were mortified how terrible it was. Beyond disappointing. There was a lack of food and only one (ONE!?) beer stand. There was no band on at the time, unfortinately.  As we were heading home from our pub, though, we could hear a terrible rendition of “Sweet Caroline” blasting from the park.

Well, they tried.

I don’t get it. There were plenty of people heading there looking really ready to have a good time. The tent was beautiful but one of the singularly most disappointing ventures I’ve had in London.

“Dumm wie Brot.” Oh well, maybe next year.

American Music

The concept of being “homesick” is a funny one.

I hate the States some days. I really do. For being such a complete country, it’s unstable, uneducated and all around fucked up. So I find it strange that I get homesick when I’m in the UK. Not only homesick, but insanely patriotic. Suddenly everything is funkier in the good ol’ US of A.

It can be difficult (socially) to be a crap Yankee sometimes. That’s why I tend to cover my accent whenever I’m in Dear Old Blighty (whenever I speak to my parents now I get scolded for “not sounding Wisconsin” anymore).

The best way to deal with this crap “homesickness,” for me, is to play Violent Femmes.

Violent Femmes are a group of weird losers, and some of the few musicians to waltz out of Wisconsin and do quite well for themselves. They even hail from my Milwaukee East Side (bring that fun fact up at your next party). To me, they sound and look like everything that damn old smelly city is.

“American Music” is one of the band’s more successful songs from a not-so-successful album. Is it their best track? No. But there’s something liberating about hearing Gano howl about the ugly lake and ask his audience if they do “too many drugs.”

The whole mop of lyrics is just a bunch of irony about pop music, but that’s kind of why it works for a dose of homesickness. This is one of those songs that can be taken too literally if the listener doesn’t take three minutes to sort it out in their mind. It sounds all Americana, but really it’s a slap on the wrists for the mindless-idiots that roam the American radio stations.

In reality, London is quite an unbelievable place to be living. Everything you could want is here, but every once in a while it’s good to remind yourself that you really are a backwards loser American after all.