Friday, August 13, 2010

Something Corporate 8/11/10

Something Corporate 8/11/10, 9:30 Club

Sooo I was pretty much more stoked for this show than almost anything ever. It's been five (?) years since Something Corporate called it quits and various members went solo. I never really got to see them before that happened, and I was never able to make it to any of their recent festival reunion shows, so I snatched up tickets for this tour as soon as it was announced.

This was the second of a two night run at the 9:30 Club in DC. A legendary venue for a legendary band. The other notable aspect of the night was that SoCo had NO opening bands. Just two solid hours of nostalgia. The club was at full capacity - people were leaning against the back wall of the venue it was so full.

The band came onstage to "Reunited and It Feels So Good," as well as huge screams from the crowd. I do have to say that there were more men there than I was expecting, though the front row was almost entirely female.

Apparently the band had technical issues during the first night's show, but that was all taken care of by the second night. Everything sounded great, no instrument or vocal was too loud or too quiet. There were a few moments where Andrew McMahon seemed to strain to recall lyrics - just pausing a beat too long and laughing before beginning a verse. He never really had to worry though, the audience was singing louder than him on some songs.

The set list was as follows (I think this is the right order, please correct me if I'm wrong):

I Woke Up In A Car
21 and Invincible
Watch the Sky
Drunk Girl
Me and the Moon
Walking By
Cavanaugh Park
I Want To Save You
Only Ashes
The Astronaut
Straw Dog
She Paints Me Blue
If You C Jordan
Forget December
As You Sleep
Punk Rock Princess

This set is pretty much a SoCo fan's dream. The only favorite of mine that wasn't played was "Good News," but I wasn't really expecting to hear it. McMahon made a long speech about playing "Konstantine," and how its infrequency doesn't mean he dislikes playing it, but rather that it just takes up too much set time. Perhaps this was part of the impetus behind having no openers.

The set as a whole was energetic and filled with love. That sounds corny, but it's the only way I can describe the atmosphere of the place. Love, and respect between band and audience. Not to mention some nice guitar solos from Josh Partington, and plenty of piano gymnastics from McMahon. (On a band member side note - as we were waiting to be let into the venue, Bobby Anderson got out of the bus, milled around on the sidewalk for a moment, and then proceeded into the club...all with no one noticing him. Have people really forgotten that this band is a group effort?)

The crowd was enthused but not obnoxious. Even the younger fans weren't of the screeching, elbowing variety that I so often see these days. It was refreshing, actually. Overall, the show was pleasant, entertaining, energetic, and just plain happy. I sincerely hope they put out more records and continue to tour, at least for a little while longer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: 3OH!3, Cobra Starship, Travie McCoy, & I Fight Dragons

3OH!3, Cobra Starship, Travie McCoy, & I Fight Dragons at the 9:30 Club, 5.11.10.

Well, if you can't tell by now, Cobra Starship is definitely my guilty pleasure. I went into this show expecting plenty of skinny jeans, neon clothes, and semi-ironic headbands, and I got exactly that, plus a fun show to boot. After getting my ID looked at extra hard by the doorman (apparently I still look under 21), I headed up to grab a place on the balcony in order to see the show better and to endure less pushing and shoving from the high schoolers in the crowd. Quite a few parents were in the crowd as well, all of whom looked suitably shocked at the bands' banter and the music playing between the sets ("I'm On A Boat" in particular got a good reaction).

I'd never heard of I Fight Dragons before, and it turns out they're a Nintendo-core band. I find that this "genre" is fun in theory; it's a neat nostalgia trip. However, watching people prance around the stage while clicking away on a Super Nintendo controller is pretty boring and anticlimactic. The songs themselves were pretty standard pop-punk and the lyrics weren't very clever. I will say I giggled a little to see one of them wailing away on a Guitar Hero guitar, but I found myself watching the flat screen TVs that were displaying video game graphics and clips of retro cartoons.

I've been a big Gym Class Heroes fan for a long time, but to be honest, I didn't know Travis was doing a solo album until I heard "Billionaire" on the radio the other day. So, I was excited to see what he was doing as Travie McCoy. Turns out, it's pretty awesome. As far as I'm aware, McCoy had a lot of artistic freedom in GCH, but he's really spun that out in different directions for his new work. Imagine the emotional weight of The Papercut Chronicles plus the musical breadth of The Quilt. McCoy was mixing reggae, rap, '50s pop, hardcore, etc., etc.

world's tallest mic stand.

McCoy came on stage holding a handful of balloons with lights in them - a whimsical way to start the show. He still runs around the entire stage during his performance, but he doesn't pull faces the way he did when playing with GCH. He easily engaged an audience that had never heard any of these songs before, he kept things rolling for the whole set. I will definitely be buying Lazarus when it is released.

Cobra Starship took the next time slot. It was a pretty standard Cobra show, but I was surprised that the crowd didn't really seem that into it. I guess the place had mostly 3OH!3 fans in it. However, that didn't stop Cobra from bursting out on stage and doing their best to whip up a dance party. The had big grids of lights hanging as a backdrop and covering 3OH!3's gear. I think that's the biggest setup I've ever seen them have on a tour.

they say that kid, he's got soul.

The set list was fun, but there were some big holes - mostly that the only song they played from their first album was "Snakes On A Plane." They played two songs that McCoy has a rap on, but he didn't come on stage for either of them. He was clearly waiting off stage to come up for "Snakes On A Plane," but the boy they pulled from the crowd took up too much time flubbing the rap that McCoy didn't get to make an appearance. Which is sad, because that's something I was really looking forward to. I'd also love to hear songs like "The Ballad of Big Poppa and Diamond Girl" or "The Church of Hot Addiction" again. Mark DeJesus did have a cameo playing maracas on "Smile For The Paparazzi." It makes me smile to see bands continue to bring along the people who have been there with them from the start. Also, I don't think I mentioned it above, but Matt McGinley was playing drums for McCoy.

The City Is At War
Pete Wentz Is The Only Reason We're Famous
Kiss My Sass
My Moves Are White (White Hot, That Is)
Wet Hot American Summer
Smile For The Paparazzi
Snakes on a Plane
Living In The Sky With Diamonds
Hot Mess
Guilty Pleasure
Good Girls Go Bad

the beat is pumping, now she's blowing up.

I didn't stick around for 3OH!3 because I only know the song "Don't Trust Me," and I didn't want to have to stay through the encore to hear it. Also, I'm turning into an old lady and I was tired. Overall, it wasn't the best Cobra Starship show I've seen, but it was still decent and I got some good dance time in. | | |

Monday, May 10, 2010

Interview - Rooney

I had the opportunity to speak with Rooney recently. Read on below to hear from frontman Robert Schwartzman about music, fame, and keeping true to yourself.

PPJ: Tell us about what went into creating your new album Eureka. Did you do anything differently for this album than you did for any previous ones?

Robert: Making Eureka was a new experience for us. It's the first record we've done completely in house....literally in house. We used my home studio, which was an old two car garage that's been converted into a small studio. It's got great sunlight and a good vibe...not a sterile ambiance. Although we've always been hands on with previous albums, we produced and engineered the entire album ourselves. It was tough to pick songs, since there's no one with us to be the bad guy, so it made for a more fragile experience. But in the end, we made it through all the drama and picked the best stuff. Even pushed ourselves to go back to the writing process and improve the songs we set out to record. Overall, we pushed ourselves to get away from the old model in the music industry and to bring down our overhead. We're not on Interscope anymore and we're looking forward to working this album with ILG. Musically, we wanted to keep the album organic, but also keep the Rooney sound that our fans and our inner fans like.

PPJ: When you put out The Wild One, you were label-less. How is the process and experience of producing and releasing a record different (or the same) when you aren't on a label versus when you are on a label?

Robert: We're feeling the difference now that we're a month away from releasing Eureka. It's hard to call Wild One a release, since we didn't promote it in anyway. We used TuneCore to get it up on online retail sites and blogged about it. It was really just a way to keep our core fans happy till the new albums hits the streets...the online streets. There's a lot more work when you self-release. Luckily, we're not alone and we have great people working with us at ILG to help get the message out that Rooney is back! Or, that Rooney is still here! I like to get my hands dirty and we have a long way to go on our new journey.

PPJ: You've toured with some pretty high profile bands. What's been your favorite or most memorable tour so far, and why?

Robert: It's been cool to have such a diverse touring history. I like all the tours for different reasons. There are always ups and downs, no matter how big the tour or how credible the opportunity. I would say touring in Europe was very memorable and playing on international tv shows was very exciting for us. I remember playing on this French TV music/talk show and looking at my band mates thinking, "this is nuts!" In a good way.

PPJ: When you were working with Rick Ocasek, what kind of input were you willing to take from him? What did you learn from working with him?

Robert: Well, we never actually got to make an album with Ric, but we was super cool to me and we hung out a bunch. We flew out to NYC to play for him, did a show at CBGB's with my brother old band Phantom Planet. I asked Ric if I could use his Pink Jazzmaster, which he lent me...I held on to it for a few years! He really liked the "demos" he got, If It Were Up To Me, Pop Stars, and Losing All Control. He said we should just use those on the album and record the rest. Having his stamp of approval was cool and led us back to Keith Forsey and Brian Reeves, who recorded the "demos." We did a rehearsal that Ric attended and he gave me some notes, like, for the song Simply Because, "change the word simply because of the drugs, to simply because of the trust." Which I ended up changing.

PPJ: Looking back on your past albums, is there anything you would change? Why?

Robert:'s hard to say. There's always something to change, but nothing major that's been bothering me all these years. It was a bummer to make 3 albums and only release one, Calling The World, but we made the better album in the end.

PPJ: What is your favorite thing about your new album?

Robert: I think it sounds really good and the songs are some of my favorite Rooney songs. It's got different sides, so it's always hard to pick one song to play for someone.

PPJ: Do you find you get recognized more for being in Rooney or for your famous relatives? Has that changed over time?

Robert: I think it would be weird to be recognized for having famous why would that happen? I get recognized for having acted in a few movies, but I get recognized for being in Rooney too.

PPJ: Matt is leaving the band after this record. Are there plans for him to stay peripherally involved with the band?

Robert: Matt left the band already, but he made Eureka with us. He played great bass on the album and we had a good run together. He's now becoming a veterinarian, so he's off to a new life. We have a great new bass player with us named Brandon Quinn and he's really a great fit.

PPJ: How much say do you have in the movies and TV shows your music plays in?

Robert: We have full say and approval. Actually, I heard a song in a movie without approving it, but those were the Interscope days. Ned found a Chuckie Cheese that was playing I'm Shakin'...the robotic rat was singing our song! But I like when TV shows or movies or commercials use our music.

PPJ: What are your plans after the album release?

Robert: Well, I'd like to make a new Rooney album and I'd like to put out some music on the side. I've been producing and writing for different projects and I'm enjoying all of it. Also, I wanna make a X-Mas album!

Thanks again to Robert for answering our questions, and thanks to Mary Thayer from the Independent Label Group for arranging the interview. Be sure to pick up their new album Eureka, and see if their tour is stopping near you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Interview - Seabear

In case you missed it, which you probably did since I completely forgot to post it here, I did an interview with Seabear for Corduroy Magazine's blog. You can read it here.