Finicky Ears

The Big Pink/Crystal Antlers @ Detroit Bar – 11/20/09, Costa Mesa, CA

Posted in Live Reviews by finickyears on November 27, 2009

I purposely decided not to buy my ticket for The Big Pink in advance. Though I risked running into a sellout, the fact is that I never want to be at Detroit Bar during a sellout. I saw Deerhunter in these conditions a few months back and they simply do not have the space to accommodate large crowds. But when the crowd is moderate, like it was last Friday, Detroit Bar can be an excellent place to check out bands without having to go to L.A. But, even though the evening provided an intimate and enthusiastic showcase for a band playing only their second American show EVER, the crowd was ultimately reminded of the major drawback in playing a small room.

The Big Pink present themselves as a band much more experienced than their resume reads. Their debut album is only a couple of months old (the quite good A Brief History of Love), but already they feel obliged to bring strobe lights, smoke machines and lasers. And, indeed, in their brief existence they have opened for the likes of Muse and TV on the Radio in Europe. These tricks that most bands take a while to grow into fit The Big Pink perfectly, invoking both new wave and industrial influences that are readily apparent on record. However, one of the unfortunate things about this show was the emphasis on the crunching guitars and lack of strong synthesizer sound. This is one of the drawbacks of seeing this band in such a small room. Not only was synthesizer too low in the mix, but the use of live drums drowned out what little of it you could here. This is sad because this is the major appeal of The Big Pink.

The Big Pink did bring some pretty rad jams to the table, though. “Velvet” and “Dominos” (the show closer) were the clear fan favorites, but I was more impressed by two songs I hadn’t really paid much attention to previously. Album closer “Count Backwards from Ten” was a revelation with its slow and steady build and the suprising effectiveness of its “better off dead” chorus. And “Tonight” seemed like it should be this band’s most well know song. It actually benefited from the heavier guitars and found the band at its loosest and most fun.

And one brief note, who the hell was the guy who really wanted to hear “Dominos.” In fact, he wanted to hear it so badly that he felt the need to make really annoying sounds when the band got quiet and make obnoxious imitations of lead singer Robbie Furze. You, sir, are a tool and a main reason I want to see this band at a bigger venue, where assholes like you fade into the background.

All in all, a promising debut from a band that will be interesting to watch develop.

Here are The Big Pink’s videos for “Velvet” and “Dominos”

Crystal Antlers provided support. I had seen them before and was not a big fan, but I have to admit they have improved in the last year. But, they still seem pretty pedestrian (except for that pretty awesome bonus percussion dude) and cannot hold my interest for more than three songs. But I am not going to write these guys (and girl) off. It seemed like they were as big of a draw as The Big Pink, so really, what do I know?

Enjoy my photos from the show!

Visit The Big Pink here!

Visit Crystal Antlers here!

Purchase music from both of these bands at Insound!

I guess their first U.S. show wasn’t that great.

Visit The Detroit Bar here!

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Unofficial Music Video of the Week: The Hold Steady “Ask Her For Some Adderall”

Posted in Unofficial Music Video of the Week, Videos by finickyears on November 19, 2009

All things considered, I am still up in the air about Youtube. For every bear on a trampoline, there are thousands of videos made by boring people doing boring things. Or, someone decides to sing their favorite song inferiorly while staring straight into camera. There is a barrier between famous people and regular joes for a reason. One of my favorite aspects of Youtube, though (besides its offshoot Youporn), is the fan made music videos. There are numerous videos that not only out do the band’s approved music video, but also are more creative than the Moonman-winning clips played on MTV. Every week, Finicky Ears will bring you a clip we deem noteworthy, allowing us to revisit beloved songs in new (or old) formats.

I was just reading an interview with Craig Finn, lead singer of The Hold Steady, and he was talking about their recent stints opening for Dave Matthews Band and Counting Crows. He had nothing but high praise for both these bands, even saying that Dave Matthews was a big fan and would personally introduce The Hold Steady each night. And somehow, this doesn’t take away from Finn’s cred one bit. It even manages to boost it. The Hold Steady seem like they are in a time bubble, untouched by current music trends, able to create the music they want and have it judged solely on its own merits. This is why most everyone I know did not like The Hold Steady on first listen (I know I didn’t). But as I’ve become acquainted with their sound, I struggle to find their equals in the music world today. 

Rock and roll is often equated with being young, and no music makes me feel young like The Hold Steady. The lyrics are about kids making the same mistakes we all make, the mistakes we wouldn’t take back for a second. This song is full on images and lines that catch you off guard and sneak up on you with repeat listens. “If she wants a love based on trust and respect, tell her I’ve been wasted since last week.” Kills me.

This video also succeeds in capturing the feverish pace of the song. The words come at you fast and, now, so do the images. You can find this song on their last album, Stay Positive. It is actually the bonus song on the CD and LP, but I don’t really understand how it is bonus if it comes on all the formats. Shrug.

First Impressions: Annie – Don’t Stop

Posted in Album Reviews, First Impressions by finickyears on November 18, 2009

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Every week, Finicky Ears will review an album as we listen to it for the first time, capturing the initial impact a record makes without the luxuries of repeat listens and second thoughts. This week, we listen to Annie’s follow-up to 2004’s Anniemal.

“Hey Annie.” Ok. Lots of percussion and we’re off. I couldn’t decide whether to do this album or Them Crooked Vultures, so I went with the shorter one. And, as the first chorus is kicking in, I’m totally happy I chose this one. I’ve been listening to The Big Pink a good amount lately and this is not a big jump. I don’t really know what kind of people listen to Annie. It’s basically pop music with electronic tendencies. Wow, the chorus keeps going on towards the end. Over and over, building and building. Pretty rad. I’m impressed.

“My Love Is Better” starts. Faster song, which is good because the first one was awesome, but this is the party starter. This has a rock and roll chorus; guitar riff in the background. I think she just said “I’m so much better, so eat this.” Yeah, this song is basically about how everything about Annie is better than whoever else. Can’t argue with that and gotta love the attitude.

“Bad Times.” The intro here doesn’t even sound like a dance track. Very 80’s and the little two beat in between verses sounds like “There Is a Light that will Never Go Out.”  3 for 3 to start off the record. I need to add that this isn’t the kind of music I normally listen to, but I enjoy Annie. I don’t know if you would call this IDM, but it seems to fit the definition. I was a little disappointed that her cover of “Two of Hearts” didn’t make the record. I love the original and was looking forward to hearing Annie’s version.

I’m getting behind. “Don’t Stop” is playing, track 4. Oh, this is the title track. My least favorite so far. Another attitude track, mid-tempo, but kinda simple for my liking. The chorus is cheesy: “let’s go, you have no, control.” Sounds like Trent Reznor lyrics. Gotta love the obvious, forced rhymes. Anyway, this album has been finished for over a year, but something happened and lots of songs were dropped (including “Two of Hearts”) and it’s finally coming out this month.

Ok, this jam is getting crazy. “I Don’t Like Your Band.” The coolest beat so far, i feel like I’ve heard this song already. I think it’s the single. This is one of those problems only musicians have. Oh, you’re fun to hang out with, but I’m not really into your music. Such a tough life on tour all the time, dating musician after musician. I’m sorry I can’t relate. Cool song though.

Another fast one, “Song Reminds Me of You.” The one is a little Eurotrash…in a bad way.  As I was saying earlier, I don’t know who Annie’s audience is. I don’t think the pop music crowd is into her. Do they play her songs on the radio?  Looks like we got MSTKRFT and Royksopp remixes. So electro-dance hipsters? 

“Marie Cherie.” Slow track, narrative structure. This song also sounds pretty weak. Sounds like French music. I don’t know what French music sounds like, but this is how I imagine it. Not to bash on the French. Phoenix is awesome. So is Charlotte Gainsbourg. This also has a spooky background where it sounds like a ghost is loose in the recording studio. But yeah, French music is cool I guess, but lame imitations of french music are not cool. While, I’m bored, let’s talk about singers who go solely by the first name. There is a long tradition, from Madonna to Cher to Beyonce. It seems to connotate a larger than life status, but Annie seems to parody this more than encompass it.

Another mid-tempo track, “Take You Home.”  This album is losing my interest. I think Annie is most successful when she is having fun (and making us have fun). This song is generic, anonymous sounding, which is the exact opposite of what Annie is going for. Look at the album cover. It’s pretty damn cool, signifying something electric, something special is coming from this artist. I understand than an EP will be released as well, with the songs from the original full length that were cut.

“The Breakfast Song.” Aptly titled. She keeps asking “what do you want for breakfast.” Well, at least this song is faster. But, it’s pretty stupid too. I really don’t know what to say here. I’m kind of embarrassed for her. Jokes are cool, as long as they are funny. I just went back to look at what I wrote about the first few songs because I had forgotten there was a time when I was enjoying this album.

Alright, this song actually sounds promising. Kinda sounds like “Ready to Go” by Republica. Remember that jam? Weird. This is called “Loco.” It’s actually pretty stupid, too. There is something inherently not right about some Scandinavian girl using the word “loco” over and over again. Isn’t there some cool word in Norwegian that means crazy? 

“When the Night.” This might be the ballad. It’s actually nice sounding. Makes me want to hold hands with a pretty girl. Or be on The Vampire Diaries. Or some shit. What the hell am I talking about, this is not my thing. This could easily have been recorded by The Spice Girls. There is nothing on this album that touches that Heartbeats jam she does.

Last song. Finally. “Heaven and Hell.” A bouncy number. In the tradition of Carrot Rope and Fraggle Rock. The kind of song that makes you want to jump around with a lobotomy induced grin on your face. This album started out with so much promise and ended up making me want to kill myself. Who would have thought?

Would I listen to this record again? Nah. Did it work as a cohesive unit? Yeah, it did. And maybe I would like this more if it were my cup of tea, but it’s gotta be a pretty amazing pop record to impress me. Did I enjoy it? For the most part, no. I think the early tracks were excellent and are gonna sound great on dancefloors, but the rest of the album did not live up to her debut.

First Impressions Grade: D+
Possible Grade Upon Further Listens: C to D+

Here is that shitty song “Loco.”

Visit Annie here!

Buy Annie’s album here, maybe you’ll like it more than me?

Here is something to remind you that Annie still kind of rules!

The Dutchess and The Duke @ Cross Cultural Center – 11/13/09, Irvine, CA

Posted in Live Reviews by finickyears on November 15, 2009

This is the first cool thing I have ever heard of happening in Irvine. UCI apparently has a group of people known as Acrobatics Everyday who have been throwing legitimate indie shows for a couple years now, so far off the radar that on Friday (the 13!) I felt like 1/3 of the audience were passerbys who heard the lovely harmonies coming from the small hall. All in all, only about 40 people turned out for this show, but those who were cool enough to know that these things even went on were treated to a relaxed and intimate showcase of two singers who are consistently better than the sum of their parts.

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I had previously seen The Dutchess and The Duke at The Echo as the opening band for Fleet Foxes (to digress, that was Fleet Foxes first full tour and TD&TD hadn’t even released their debut yet: INCREDIBLE show!). After that show, it took me nearly a year to track down their album. Then, a couple weeks ago, I decided to order the debut LP on vinyl, but was shipped their new album, Sunset/Sunrise, by mistake. Normally, I would have sent it back promptly, but I was so excited to hear this new record that I kept it. That being said, I also made the decision to not listen to the new record until after I had seen them perform. There is something profoundly special about hearing songs for the first time at a show. Songs like “Phantom Limb” by The Shins and “The General Specific” by Band of Horses will always be tied to the live performances at which I was introduced to them.

Full disclosure: I forgot to bring my camera. So, it was some small consolation that the classroom/hall was not lit whatsoever, except for one intensely bright light that the band refused to have shine on them. It was dark enough that you wouldn’t recognize the band if you saw them smoking outside after the show. In fact, I was pretty sure “The Duke”, Jesse Lortz, was working the merchandise booth after show, but I had enough doubt to not say anything to him.

The band opened with “Back to Me” from their first record (the disadvantage of me not listening to the album prior to the show is that my reporting of the new material is going to be a little shoddy) and then played three more in a row from the debut record, including “Out of Time” and “Reservoir Park”. The biggest complement I can pay to this group is to note the power that comes when the two sing together. It was chill-inducing on numerous occasions. And, this is a welcome change from the first time I saw them, when they could have been called (The Dutchess) and The Duke, with Kimberley Morrison seeming to take more of a backup role. The least successful parts of the show were when one singer would take over lead vocals by themselves, in particular when Morrison sang solo for one of the new album tracks.

Then there’s “I Am Just a Ghost.”

(Here’s is a video someone took of “I Am Just a Ghost” from the P4k festival) 

With bands of little commercial success, it is hard to gauge which songs are likely to be played at a show. So, when TD&TD announced that they had three songs left to play, I resorted to casually suggesting (or shouting for) “I Am Just A Ghost” at a song break. I doubt I made the difference, but they played it as their second to last song and completely killed it. The verses were sung at a near whisper and as the song built towards its dramatic conclusion, a trance seemed to engulf the audience. The song was overwhelming in all the good ways; managing to be haunting, beautiful, tragic and delicate at the same time. Out of respect for the track (and not at all having to do with the few beers I had before the show), I hit the bathroom halfway through the closer – the fun “Armageddon Song.”

One last note: The band seemed dead-set on going to a college after-party, asking about it numerous times throughout the night. I felt bad for them, figuring they had no idea where they were. But I hope that some of the hip youngsters at the show were able to treat them to a good time.

Enjoy a video of “Out of Time” from some random show!

Visit The Dutchess and The Duke Here!

Buy Albums by The Dutchess and The Duke Here!

Visit Acrobatics Everyday Here!

Top photo by Andrew Waits.

Finicky Ears’ Prime Cuts

Posted in Uncategorized by finickyears on November 10, 2009

Music is the meat of what we are doing here. Or, the protein. If you don’t eat meat. Either way, you get it….Here is some of the music we have covered so far and  I will try to keep it updated…as I update. (Language seems to be failing me today. I’m just hoping I figured out how to do this playlist thing right.)

Well, in my head, that wasn't what was supposed to happen. I was hoping some little music player would appear...But hey, if you want to listen to some music click on that link. Like I said, it will be updated as I write more posts with whatever I am writing about. No so bad, huh?  Eventually I hope to actually have the music on this site, but this computer stuff is harder than I thought.

***Update*** So, I switched to Playlist.com. I think this works better, but you still have to open up a window outside your main browser. If anyone knows how to make this work so a player is features on my blog's homepage, the information would be much appreciated. Also, I created a page over there to the right which will always feature the most recent edition of the Finicky Ears' playlist.

Unofficial Music Video of the Week: The Mountain Goats “No Children”

Posted in Unofficial Music Video of the Week, Videos by finickyears on November 10, 2009

All things considered, I am still up in the air about Youtube. For every bear on a trampoline, there are thousands of videos made by boring people doing boring things. Or, someone decides to sing their favorite song inferiorly while staring straight into camera. There is a barrier between famous people and regular joes for a reason. One of my favorite aspects of Youtube, though (besides its offshoot Youporn), is the fan made music videos. There are numerous videos that not only out do the band’s approved music video, but also are more creative than the Moonman-winning clips played on MTV. Every week, Finicky Ears will bring you a clip we deem noteworthy, allowing us to revisit beloved songs in new (or old) formats.

If you are not familiar with John Darnielle, he is probably the best American songwriter alive. While I’m sure we could have a lively debate about this, no one can make me want to laugh and cry within the same song, let alone within the same line like Darnielle. The use of legos to act out the lyrics of “No Children” fits perfectly with both the childishness of the song and the sentiments throughout that the singer doesn’t mean but says anyway. A couple of my favorite parts are the rising black smoke and the way the guy falls down on the line “I hope I never get sober.” The Mountain Goats will be at the Fonda on Sunday and I will try to get down there and give it a write-up next week.

First Impressions: Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young

Posted in Album Reviews, First Impressions by finickyears on November 5, 2009

Phrazes_cover_small

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Every week, Finicky Ears will review an album as we listen to it for the first time, capturing the initial impact a record makes without the luxuries of repeat listens and second thoughts (and you thought this was just a clever pun based on the last Strokes album title!). This week, we listen to Julian Casablancas’ first solo recording without The Strokes.

The opening song, “Out of the Blue,” sounds, well, kind of like The Strokes. In tempo, at least. The guitar sound is pushed a little farther in the back of the mix, but it has a very typical pop melody that I would expect from Casablancas. Then, about 2 minutes in, there is a pretty rad breakdown and the chorus kicks back in its pop glory. I think I like this! But I can’t understand a single thing he is saying. Heard something about a black leather jacket. For full disclosure, I have to say I did not care for First Impressions of Earth at all. I’m more of a Room on Fire kind of guy, but this doesn’t really sound like either of them.

Track 2 is starting now. Also up-tempo, almost danceable.  As the chorus kicks, I realize it is definitely danceable. Jesus, Julian Casablancas can write a hook. He is taking more risks with his voice. The first Strokes record sounded so easy for him to sing, but especially at the end of the second verse here, he is pushing some high notes. I just looked at my iTunes playlist and realized that pretty much all the songs on this album push five minutes in length. Quick research has just taught me how many Strokes songs on their three albums total five minutes: zero.

Now the single is starting: “11th Dimension.” I have heard this track a couple of times already, and I would totally be dancing if I were not typing feverishly. This is not going to be a lyric lovers album since it’s pretty hard to follow the words. I’m going to guess this song is about time travel – or space travel. I have nothing to base that on besides the title, by the way. I’m taking a dance break.

OK, song 4 seems to be a ballad: “4 Chords of the Apocalypse.” That’s funny. Good one, Julian. I believe in the R&B world, this would be called a “slow jam.” But there is still a very rich sound to it. Yeah, wow. When everything kicks in, it’s like a slow jam on steroids. Still, this is not a song to be taken seriously. Even though Casablancas seems to be singing his guts out, the arrangement has just too much going on for any emotional impact. It sounds good, though, and the composition is ultimately strong. Like I said, Casablancas can write a hook. Really big vocal on the finish here, too.

Track 5: “Ludlow St.” It’s the first song opening on the album that greatly changes the mood. But that only lasts for the intro. The song changes into an “ooh-blah-dee”-ish sing-songy jam. This is even harder to take seriously than the last song. I think we are pushing into the territory of over-production. The melody could be an old country song. Oh wait. I think that is a banjo solo! Maybe a mandolin. Yeah, this is a little silly. You had me, Julian! I thought we were dancing and shit! I’m going to zone out from this song for a second and note how disappointed I am he is playing his L.A. residency at The Downtown Palace Theater.  Not that it doesn’t sound like a cool show, but good tickets are like 50 bucks. I thought solo albums are when you play at the small venues and stripped-down versions of your beloved classics.

Track 6 speeds things up again, the first song to not be instantly catchy. It’s called “River of Brakelights.” Another track that would be at home on a Strokes record. After the initial verse, the song does get catchy. Thank God. It’s like he can’t help writing memorable melodies. There are worse afflictions to have for a songwriter. But the overall feeling throughout this number is disorder. Think post-punk. Think Joy Division. It’s still probably the best song on the album. One of the major strengths of this Phrazes is how the songs build towards something. Whether it is a climax or just a faraway ending point, we are not getting typical verse-chorus-verse structures at all.

Track 7 slows things down again, a less cheesier slow song than song 4: “Glass.” Production quality sounds like Dave Sitek (just checked – he didn’t work on it. Mike Mogis did, though.). This would be a good headphones record. I’m noticing lots going on way over on the left speaker that I am not hearing in my nearer, right speaker. My fingers are starting to hurt. I guess this is how those court reporters feel. Wow, this track just had a pretty rad guitar solo. First one of those on the album so far. Not a cohesive effort, though. The sound maintains some consistency, but it started off as a dance record and seems to get schizophrenic from song to song after “11th Dimension.”

Last song: “Tourist.” You can’t call this record boring. Though this song has a slower pace, the rhythm of the guitars creates a sense of urgency and movement. Every song manages to jam a wealth of sounds in while weaving in and out of the vocal tracks. There is enough here to keep the listener occupied through five or six listens, easy. And I could see this track being one of the growers on the album. We get another guitar solo. One of the fascinating things about this record is how studio-created it seems, where The Strokes always felt like a band. Are those trumpets? I do miss the organic sounds of The Strokes a little. But this is the future, I guess. Nice, big finish.

Wow, that was intense.

Would I listen to this record again? I already am. Did it work as a cohesive unit? Not so much. It felt more like an overview of all the sounds Casablancas has been experimenting with while he waits for the next Strokes record. Did I enjoy it? Yes, but I wanted more. What thrilled me most about this record was that it was so much better than First Impressions of Earth. The songwriting was strong and affirmed that Julian Casablancas is a songwriter worth paying attention to. Hopefully, he has another masterpiece inside of him.

First Impressions Grade: B
Possible Grade Upon Further Listens: A- to B-

Buy the new album before it is released as a really expensive vinyl boxed set.

Dirty Projectors @ Jensen Recreation Center – 10/31/09, Echo Park, CA

Posted in Live Reviews by finickyears on November 3, 2009

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I was a little nervous about spending my Halloween at a Dirty Projectors show. I had never seen them before, and from the listening I’ve done to their fantastic albums, Bitte Orca and Rise Above, I wasn’t quite sure it would be, well, fun. (Dirty Projectors don’t shy away from complicated melodies and difficult song structures – not the typical way to spend a wild Saturday night in costume hell.) But by the second song, the handclap-inducing “No Intention,” I realized Dirty Projectors were a perfect party band. Who would have thought?

The band didn’t go all out with their costumes, but Dave Longstreth sported a giant cowboy hat and Angel Deradoorian wore a knight’s get-up. What was most refreshing about the show, though, was the sheer quality of the sound. Dirty Projectors were not only tight with the material, they enhanced it live. Longstreth’s guitar work always sounded intricate on record, but seeing him perform reaffirmed the talent he possessed. As a boy, though, it was hard not to devote my attention to his supporting cast of ladies who killed the harmonies and shined in their lead opportunities. Of course, “Stillness Is the Move” was a standout. So often, a band’s single can seem overly rehearsed or overplayed, but Amber Coffman brought the song to life and went over the top with soul that is rarely embodied in a white woman. Other set standouts included “Cannibal Resource,” “Useful Chamber” and “Temecula Sunrise.”

And who would have thought the Jensen Rec Center could pull off such a cool show? For a venue I didn’t even know existed, I was truly impressed. The interior sported an open fireplace, couches and a big-enough standing space to accommodate the rather large crowd. I hope they have more shows here (or if they do have a lot of shows here, have shows I want to go to!).

If you didn’t have an opportunity to see the 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. shows Dirty Projectors put on this Halloween, they will be back in February at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with the L.A. Philharmonic.  Yeah, that will be as cool as it sounds.

I also wanted to send out my heartfelt thoughts to Kyle Field from Little Wings. I wasn’t able to catch much of their opening set, but my friend Jon Paul tried to remove a splinter from under his fingernail after the show. I hope you are OK, Kyle!

Enjoy some photos!

Stereogum was there, too!

So was this guy (check out the set list here).

Visit Dirty Projectors at MySpace.

Buy Bitte Orca here.

Dead Man’s Bones @ The Echo – 10/31/09, Echo Park, CA

Posted in Live Reviews by finickyears on November 2, 2009

Dead Man's Bones Choir

The phrase “vanity project” is thrown around when an actor decides to delve into the music world. The assumption is that movie stars use their star power to stroke their ego every chance they get and that talent and passion are non-factors in the creative process. Strangely, Dead Man’s Bones’ debut self-titled album used the working title Don’t Let a Lack of Talent Get You Down. But vanity project couldn’t be further from the truth when talking about Ryan Gosling’s musical endeavor. What do you notice about the album cover below?

Dead Man's Bones Album

See Mr. Gosling? He is way on the right. Although he handled most of the vocal duties at the Dead Man’s Bones Halloween show Saturday night at The Echo, never did it feel like he was front and center of the music project. It felt like collaboration in the truest sense of the word. A collaboration between the band’s two principals, Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields. A collaboration between the gang of costumed ghouls that they pick up at every road stop (I hear they are traditionally a local children’s choir, but kids with nothing to do on Halloween are a hot commodity, so we were left with friends of the band, a couple of teenagers and the soundman’s two small children dressed as skeletons). A collaboration between the eager crowd, the venue (which was decorated wonderfully) and an always tumultuous night of the year that can see people get too drunk and too rowdy in a heartbeat. No, there was nothing vain about this show.  If anything, the night was risky and adventurous; a celebration of youth in the arts.

Even the last number of the evening emphasized this, as Gosling invited one of the choir members to perform a song she had recently written. She stepped up to the piano, nervously, and performed a lovely little piece. Not the kind of thing that would pump up a crowd about ready to leave. Not the kind of thing rock stars usually embrace, i.e. turning the spotlight away from themselves. But the crowd was respectful and erupted in applause as the young lady took center stage in what you imagine was the biggest moment of her life.

The band, however, did not shy away from Ryan Gosling’s presence. After the first song, a crowd member shouted, “We love you, Ryan!” in a voice that imitated a 13-year-old fan girl. The band laughed it off, with the touring female singer encouraging the crowd to keep it coming. As this was the last date of the tour, it’s hard to imagine this was anything new for them. However, every number felt raw and dangerous. Gosling had a recurring look of pain on his face, like he was waiting for everything to go wrong at any moment.

This was never more apparent than during the biggest moment of the night. The youngest of the choir, a girl around 6 or 7 who was dressed up as a skeleton, laid down in the middle of the stage, a sheet placed in front of her to project a video. Now this is not the actual video from the show, but it was similar in production and such:

After the movie ended, you could see the girl’s shadow rising up from behind the sheet. She then grabbed the microphone and sang Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang.” Watching a 6-year-old sing this song solo was creepy, adorable – and most of all – terrifying. Terrifying because everyone wanted her to get through it unscathed. You could see every band member mouthing the words to her, giving her support and, likewise, the crowd backed her up with applause at every break. The result was an unforgettable number that still gives me chills when I think about it. Here is a video of a different girl singing it in Chicago (Our girl was better!):

The rest of the show did not disappoint either. The combination of “My Body’s a Zombie for You” and “Pa Pa Power” to close out the initial set worked to get the crowd moving. The band went the untraditional route by staying on stage for the encore break. Gosling announced that “they knew three more songs,” and when the crowd responded, he assumed we wanted to hear them. The final full-band number of the evening used the audience as the back-up choir for “Paper Ships” as every member of the stage show introduced himself (Gosling’s sister was in the choir, and I believe his brother was in the band). The opening acts included MCs as sheeted ghosts, a 1940s variety revival show and a guy playing a xylophone.

Hopefully, they will be back in town before next Halloween.

Visit Dead Man’s Bones on MySpace here!

Buy Dead Man’s Bones here!