Steele: So can we talk about how much the first band was not good? They were WAY too busy.
Jer: Well, they had all that brass, but barely used it. At least I couldn't hear it.
Steele: Maybe it wasn't intimate music… the Middle East downstairs is pretty small and all that sound has nowhere to go. If they were playing a bigger venue, maybe I would have liked them.
Jer: That's a good point. Their songs didn't seem very well polished either. What was their name again?
Steele: Shit, I don't remember.
Jer: Yeah, neither do I. I guess this just made our whole conversation kind of pointless so far.
Jer: So, what did you think of the second band? The War on Drugs (from Philadelphia).
Steele: All I can really remember about them is how much their lead singer sounded like Bob Dylan. They were too busy as well, like the first band.
Jer: Right, and I heard numerous people echoing the Dylan sentiment.
Steele: He really sounded like Dylan.
Jer: But I thought they had a more defined sound than the first band. Their music definitely didn't sound like Dylan. And I remember some of their songs sounding like they had no beginning or end, like they started off right in the middle. It was very wall of noise right off the bat.
Steele: Indeed. I feel the same way. It wasn't bad, but I wasn't overly blown away either.
Steele: It was like one long weird jam session with Dylan. Didn't I say it was good stoner music? I feel like if you were high, maybe you would have appreciated it more. It felt like a jigsaw puzzle of noise to me — maybe high the puzzle would be easier to get.
Jer: I hear that. The songs on their MySpace aren't nearly as clutterd. Except maybe the last one. "Needle in Your Eye" sounds like what I remember from the show. The other two don't. "Arms Like Boulders" really just sounds like a Dylan song, or Dylan with a band. It even has harmonica. It's worth checking out.
Jer: OK, so Bishop Allen.
Steele: You were excited for this.
Jer: Very. I haven't been to a show in a while where I knew every (or almost every) song the band played.
Steele: Those are always fun.
Jer: I've been going to so many shows by bands I didn't know too much about, but this was different.
Steele: When you know the songs, you feel like you know the band.
Jer: Right. It increases the enjoyment because you feel a connection. The band was just roaming around before the show in the audience. Justin walked by us about a dozen times. I remember seeing Christian standing in front of us drinking a beer. I guess this is pretty common at the Middle East and small venues in general.
Steele: Yeah they were roaming. And you love Funny Ha Ha.
Jer: Yes. It's one of my favorite films. I would definitely tell any Bishop Allen fan to go out and see Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation right away. They are both made by Andrew Bujalski, who also formerly lived on Bishop Allen Drive (with some of the band members) in Cambridge.
Steele: I should see them.
Jer: They're good movies and Mutual Appreciation definitely has autobiographical elements of the band (Justin Rice plays an indie-pop songwriter who moves from Boston to New York). That's how I discovered the band, actually. I saw Christian Rudder in Funny Ha Ha, read that he was in a band, and sought out the album.
Steele: Oh I didn't know that. I got into them because I think I saw their name and said "isn't that a street in Cambridge?"
Jer: Their music has the same handmade feel as an independent film. Very good companion pieces. Anyway, I don't remember what they opened with.
Steele: Crap, I dont either.
Jer: Oh, well. I know "Like Castanets" was second.
Steele: Yes, great song. It's one of my favorites.
Jer: I was at SXSW and I hadn't heard a single song of theirs, but I knew of them. Maybe I had heard one. Anyway, they were playing a show and we tried to get in, but couldn't. Waiting outside, though, I could hear them — I could hear the ukulele… and that's when I knew…
Steele: Was it love?
Jer: Love at first sight, with my ears.
Steele: When you discover a band that you're really into, those first songs you hear are just… it's very exciting.
Jer: Very true. It was almost as if I decided to like them before I had even heard them.
Steele: Cool. Anyway, I really liked their set. It was like time flew by.
Jer: Their songs are pretty compact and quick and nothing is long. I doubt they have a song over five minutes.
Steele: Well, it makes sense they would make all those EPs. Mini bites of goodness. I like their EPs the best.
Jer: So do I. I did notice at the show, though, they usually played the album version of songs rather than the EP version. Not too much different. I guess the album ones are a tad more polished. Also, they made adjustments for the live show. Like is it a saxophone they use on the albums?
Steele: I believe so. I think it's a soprano sax on the album. I'm listening to it now.
Jer: It was a little whistle thing live. I wasn't sure what it was, but it sounded good. They used it a couple times — on "Butterfly Nets" and one other time. I was also impressed at how loud and clear the vocals were.
Steele: They aren't a very heavy band. I feel like lyrics and vocals are very front-and-center.
Jer: And their songs are so simple that the vocals are usually between bursts of music.
Steele: Agreed. It's very soft… and that's very good.
Jer: Yeah, and it was good for singing along, hand clapping, etc.
Steele: In contrast of the very loud first two bands. I really enjoyed it a lot.
Jer: They're almost Beatles-esque with their vocal ease. Or '60s-ish rock at least.
Steele: Wow… The Beatles eh? Well they aren't The Beatles but I see what you're saying.
Jer: Well, I'm thinking any older poppy rock sort of thing. Beach Boys, Kinks, Byrds etc.
Steele: I kinda see what you're saying. It's fun music usually.
Jer: And it goes with the cover they did too. "Friday On My Mind" by the Easybeats.
Steele: Oh right. Nice, nice. What about the crowd? There were some moms and dads around.
Jer: I'm assuming there were friends/relatives because it was something of a homecoming.
Steele: Indeed. Other than that it was your normal sizable crowd. Overall, a really good show — Bishop Allen that is. I wanted them to play a little more, but it was a good set.
Jer: I agree. I think they were very happy to be there.
Steele: Yes, back at the club right where they used to live. Down the street really.
Jer: And they seemed very excited. They said a few times, "it means a lot to play here." They were way too unpretentious to say much. Very humble and pretty quiet. The opposite of the Cut Copy show earlier in the week. Where Cut Copy burst onto the stage with, "Are you fucking ready?!?!" Bishop Allen came out with, "Oh, stop… that's enough."
Steele: Yeah they weren't putting on a "show" per se. They were just going to play. It was very intimate.