Thursday, August 02, 2007

Live Show Reviews: The Willowz in Cambridge! Theo and the Skyscrapers in Los Angeles! Silverchair in Boston!

We have been very, very busy at The RSL. I probably don't need to remind you yet again - but this blog is a passion and not yet a profession - so fitting in live shows and writing about it too can take some time. We have three pretty incredible recent lives show reviews to pass along today!

The Willowz
- T.T. the Bears - Cambridge, MA - 7.20.07 -

Probably one of the best live bands I saw this year... From Anaheim, California it's The Willowz. The four piece band (signed to Dim Mak records) played a damn tight live show at T.T. the Bear's in Cambridge's Central Square on July 20. They were the opener for the Detroit Cobras - but were so good, they could have been the headliners. Not only were Richie and Jessica great to talk to - they probably couldn't have done much better live. Everyone likes to talk about fusion acts. Generally these are alternative and ethnic beats or electronica with metal or rap... etc. The Willowz sound like southern rock with a touch of Led Zeppelin, the White Stripes and Kings of Leon mixed in for good measure. No matter what label anyone puts on them - the band is damn good live. A performance includes jams that allow one song to merge with another. This isn't a jam band, but you might not know it at times. The performances of all were energetic and fun - but, my god - Loren Shane Humphrey's drums killed! (Incredible work my friend!) The RSL "Best of So Far 2007 List will be published in these pages within the next two weeks - "Chautauqua" - the third record from the Willowz is a breakout release and it WILL be on the list. Pick it up and thank me later. (You will.)

The Willowz - Evil Son

I couldn't do it all by myself this time. Theo and the Skyscrapers didn't book a show in Boston or Providence for the first round of the "So Many Ways to Die" tour - so I enlisted the help of Krista Jane in L.A. to head out to a show and give the band a shot. She did a great job and got to speak one of her favorite musicians to boot!

After seeing Theo and The Skyscrapers in November of 2006 0n their East Coast tour,I was naturally looking forward to seeing them perform live (and as a three-piece band) here in Los Angeles.

The show took place at The Echo in Los Angeles on July 21. It's a place tucked away in one of the hipper parts of the city. It's a good venue to catch "up and coming" indie rock and punk bands on the verge of making it. It was the perfect place in L.A. to see Theo play as the Skyscrapers incorporate the spirit and sensibilities of a dark East Coast band.

Theo and the Skyscrapers
-The Echo - Los Angeles, CA - 7.21.2007 -

photo by Krista Jane

Singer Theo Kogan (ex-Lunachicks) has proven the power of her distinct Debbie Harry-esque voice. I was glad to see this was still true with the new Skyscrapers album entitled "So Many Ways To Die." Kogan is backed by Sean Pierce (Ex-Toilet Boys) on guitar and controlling the powerful synth sound with an extensive pedal setup on stage. The Skyscrapers also includes the heartstopping sound of Chris Kling on drums.

TATS opened up with "Good Morning" off the new album followed by other great hits such as "Jealousy Died" and "Tease." They also a few hits off the first album which really made the crowd of mostly loyal fans move. Everyone was extremely responsive with many mouthing the words to the Skyscrapers' songs - both old and new.

Theo appeared on the night wearing a sexy green princess prom dress - cut off well above the knees. The edges were tattered with threads hanging down to her spiked heels. The outfit showed off her long legs and tattoo-covered body. During the show Theo sang while dancing on an illuminated box with an impressive light show behind her. The scene fit the ambiance of the room and the band's sound. The crowd showed its appreciation with screams and fists thrown in the air.

Based on the crowd response, even first timers at The Echo became fast Theo and the Skyscrapers fans. The new album "So Many Ways to Die" on Dark Daddy Records is highly recommended as well as the first self titled album. The sound is infectious!

The RSL Music Weblog album Review

Theo and the Skyscrapers: Web / Myspace

I will be the first to admit that I did not grow up listening to much Silverchair. Consequently I can't tell you most of the songs the band played off their earlier albums but I can tell you about the tremendous support and love given to them by the fans in Boston. Like most people in the civilized world I heard and owned the single for "Trouble" (the multi-platinum debut released as an EP and a track off the commercial smash album "Frogstomp"which propelled the band of young aspiring fourteen-year-old kids to international stardom.) I always thought their song arrangements were good and the guitar was solid but the lyrics and tone were just too dark for me (In many cases "bleak" would be an understatement.) This being said - I wasn't about to turn up to see the band play a sold-out live show at the Paradise (their first in the city in five years) last week. I am certainly glad I did not turn up the opportunity! The songs from the new album, "Young Modern" are superior works and the tone of their new music is far more light-hearted but serious in their musicianship. Perhaps the most deserving thing I can say before proceeding - is that even the old songs sound better as singer and founder Daniel Johns has commented publicly that he is perhaps wiser and happier than he has ever been. On with the show...

- the Paradise
-Boston, MA - 7.29.2007 -

About half way through the Silverchair show singer Daniel Johns stopped everything and looked at to the rapt crowd. It was July 29 and Silverchair bassist Chris Joannou's birthday. I know because Johns broke into "Happy Birthday" with an eager 600-man Boston accompaniment on Sunday. Within moments the band would play their new hit single on four continents, "Straight Lines" - a track that has shown time heals all wounds. The whole night was cause for celebration. Johns admitted as much when the show began.... "We played Philadelphia last night and it was pretty good, tonight in Boston, it's going to be better!" said Johns. "Tomorrow, we play Montreal..." He paused. "I guess it's up to you!" The crowd cheered - accepting the challenge and then Silverchair launched it song. It was a great night for guitar and good feelings. It's been five years without so much as a peep from Silverchair here in the states. The Boston show was an awakening.

Silverchair led off the show with three excellent versions of songs from the new record: "Young Modern Station", "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and an oddly romantic version of "Reflections of a Sound." What surprised me most about the show was that the album was released in the states on 7.24.07 - just five days before the Boston gig and Silverchair fans still knew the words! That's dedication and pretty damn amazing. What's even more telling, is that Daniel knew the fans would have the lyrics memorized and pushed the microphone out into the crowd when the choruses came. He was not disappointed!

During one stretch of particularly impressive electric guitar by Daniel, he began playing with his teeth! He actually did this three times in the show - twice after hurting himself. He did this while either rolling around on his back while playing guitar on the keyboard station or somehow while playing the instrument with his teeth. The scratch/gash on the back of Daniel's hand was dripping a bit of blood. Wearing a red headband he had fashioned from a long strip of fabric, Daniel looked up enthusiastically - a bit wildly. "I cut myself a bit," he said sucking on the wound - tasting his own blood. "Tastes like Ali-Foil... I love Ali-Foil!" There was no pause in the show. The band was extremely engaging and it made we wish I knew more of their material. The review here, demonstrates how good the band is live and how alive Silverchair really is these days. Good for them and great for their fans. Long Live Silverchair! The band, singed to Eleven Music, plays before thousands of fans at Lollapalooza in just two days.

ALSO SEE: My review of the White Stripes live in Boston - 7.23.07
(See - I told you I've been busy! - Ryan)


~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

I don't know why Daniel Johns of Silverchair started singing Happy Birthday, but it was NOT the bassist's birthday...I wasn't there so I don't know what went on...but I know for a fact that his birthday is in November. Perhaps it was one of the two keyboardists?

Ryan of the RSL blog said...

Hmmm. I don't either. Maybe he was trying to play a trick on journalists and bloggers. Maybe it was an inside joke. No matter - it happened.