Captain's log, stardate 5923389f/1571madeuptimeunit56: Between work, visiting my sister's new apartment (and then realizing that she was given the wrong keys so I didn't actually get to SEE the apartment), my father's birthday dinner party, playing basketball and making various completely uninteresting personal arrangements, I managed to attend four different concerts this week, including my own. Here's what it roughly sounded like:
24/12/07: Solstice Coil 1/3 completely ordinary acoustic show OR exceptional intimate show – depends on who you ask – at the Yehoshua
The Yehoshua is a very nice place for acoustic performances; it has a very nice atmosphere with some good people running the place. It was great seeing everyone who made it to the show, including some really old friends, something which was way overdue. I'm not going to dig in this for too long (after all, this is our own show – wouldn't want to appear narcissistic, right?) but I'll just point out that we decided to kick off the show with an unusual cover for Tenacious D's Tribute, which was amusing and really fun to do. It might have had a better impact if the bar hadn't play that song on the Jukebox twenty minutes before we went on stage, but hey, I asked the barman to do me a personal favor and stop playing Led Zeppelin songs, so what was he going to do? The rest of the show was completely ordinary, or exceptionally intimate, depends on which advertisement you believe.
26/12/07: AmiramInc, supported by the Carsitters at the Tmuna
AmiramInc became pretty well known in Israel sometime around a year ago, when their song Allright surprisingly made it into Israel's most popular radio station Galgalatz's daily playlist. The song was played nonstop all day long for weeks. It's surprising, because usually, Israeli bands who sing in English don't get to be played on this station at all, let alone be featured on the playlist. It might have had something to do with the fact that the band's frontman Amiram Eini has some roots abroad, or the fact that that one of the band members, violinist and vocalist Emily Bennett is a genuine Englishwoman, or maybe it's just good PR. Oh, and the fact that it's actually a good song. Probably all of the above.
The Carsitters, another band that's been doing some expeditions abroad performing in the Netherlands area, opened the evening with an untypical acoustic show. With two acoustic guitars and an acoustic bass as well, Noa Margalit and her crew managed to provide a wholesome acoustic sound. Good melodies, and very well performed vocal harmonies, gave the songs a powerful edge on this show. However, for a band whose melodies, harmonies, and general style obviously take after the pop/rock genre of Sheryl Crowl, K's Choice and Anouk (for example, you catch my drift) the songs just seem too long. Cutting a minute or more from each song would do wonders, I reckon. Moreover, there were very awkward moments in between songs which I personally could do without. Noa's attempt at communication with the audience felt very artificial, uncomfortable, and sometimes just gave the impression of plain cockiness. It's a problem that many artists face, and not a lot know how to tackle it.
AmiramInc started their show with an instrumental, which sounded like a calmer more organized version of Polish progressive rock band Indukti – a very pleasant surprise for me. The music to follow skated elegantly between rocking pop songs, melodic metal riffs, and sometimes even disco (but the good kind of disco.) Oh, and one Christmas carol, performed by the lovely Emily on the encore. AmiramInc excel in songwriting and performance. The guitar work of Sheriff Stone Cold Steve Austin was very impressive. He masters his guitar like he masters his shotgun, and delivers excellent melodic lines as well as eruptive solos, all delivered with a superb bulky guitar sound. Towards the end of the show, Amiram himself started taking some solos, which were outstanding as well. Skillful, but never too technical, every member of the band showed great musicianship, always serving the songs by playing something melodic, with content, rather than just showing off. The combination of guitar based music with the sound of the violin works spectacularly for this band. Combining a violin in rock music can become overbearing and eventually monotonic if used too often, but AmiramIc make it so it's never ever boring.
Amiram Eini has a very distinctive voice. This is a classic love it or hate it scenario. All through the night I've been trying to pinpoint exactly who he reminds me of. My first conclusion was The Johnsons' frontman Omer Adolam, although perhaps a more familiar comparison would be an odd nasally blend between Eddy Vedder and Michael Stipe, or perhaps even Liam Gallagher. Eventually, it hit me! He sounds exactly like the guy from the B-52's!! Well, maybe not exactly. What bothered me the most was not his vocal style rather the fact that his voice sounds exactly the same on every single voice, always ranging in the same register, without any variation. It gave a monotonic feel to this otherwise very unique and vivid ensemble. If he were to add a little drama, open up his mouth (and nostrils) more and explore the full range of his voice, it would add so much to this already very promising band. Everything else is already in there.
27/12/07: Midnight Peacocks (with guests. many guests) at The Barby
This was the launch party of the Midnight Peacocks' second album, Shalosh (Three, in Hebrew). According to the band's MySpace page, Shalosh is a concept album containing 3 main parts. The first is a Hard Core Rock EP, The second is an Arabic instrumental & the third is a psychedelic dive. Yes, exactly.
The show was set up with a short warm up ahh, band, I suppose, called Malox. Malox is basically a two man band, comprised of a drummer and a saxophone player. They played all sort of Jewish Klezmer pieces, whether they were originals or not, I couldn’t really tell. It was quite impressive, though. I hardly think I'll listen to this kind of music at home, but on stage it has a powerful affect. Completely synchronized, the drummer and saxophone played a lot of crazy beats and coordinated breaks, showing amazing skill and creativity. Some of the melodies that the sax player played were insane, and he performed them without even breaking a sweat.
After a few pieces, Eitan Radoshinki and Ron Bunker emerged onto the stage and then it became clear (or not?) that Malox are actually a part of the Midnight Peacocks themselves. They started off playing… something, I'm not quite sure what it was, but it was cool, with a lot of noise and saxophone screeches, and then continued on to play some actual songs as a trio. Later Eitan told the audience that their usual drummer couldn't arrive because he had just had a little baby girl born. At least I think that's what he said. The Peacocks' audience, which is just as wacky as they, kept shouting out various random and utterly meaningless remarks, which made it kind of hard to concentrate.
It's hard to describe what the Midnight Peacocks actually sound like, but since I'm being paid to write exactly that, I guess I'll just have to make something up. I'm kidding. I don't actually get paid for this. Here are a few possible descriptions that might give you an idea of what The Midnight Peacocks sound like (Though, you know, you could just click on the link to their site and listen for yourselves):
- All of Mike Patton's projects, played simultaneously.
- What it would sound like (and look like) if Cosmo Kramer had his own hardcore band.
- The sound someone makes when something really heavy, like a piano or an anvil, falls on their foot.
- A combination of an insane amount of completely different musical styles, while keeping a distinctive hardcore sound, sometimes similar to Skeleton Key, Idiot Flesh, or even Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and of course, Mr. Bungle.
Hey, the last one was actually an accurate musical description! I need to fix that.
As a Trio, the Midnight Peacocks are quite formidable. With nothing but a guitar-bass-drums lineup, the Peackocks manage to create a full thick sound, with walls of distortions and phasers and whatnot. Eitan Radoshinki is a limber and expressive front man, whose insanely complicated bass playing doesn't seem to interrupt with his singing, and even makes room for a lot of dynamic physical movement and cartoon-like facial expressions. Oh, and he looks like Kramer. Honestly.
Enter Maya Dunietz. The former Eatliz vocalist shows that what she really knows best is how to scream. And make eerie hand movements and funny noises. I don't know where she gets it from, but the girl has lungs from hell. The band continued playing some fast pace numbers, filled with crunchy guitars and playful dissonances.
And there were other guests. Many, many other guests. At some point, the trio turned into an ensemble of 8, recalling the saxophone player, as well as bringing in an additional guitarist, a violin player, a belly dancer (that's right, a belly dance!) and a performance artist called Hezi Shochat. The last time I saw Hezi Shochat on stage, he was stripped completely naked by a woman who sprinkled water on him while he danced in circles and sang in Yiddish with a falsetto voice. That didn't happen this time, but his performance was as insane with clothes on. At this point, the band started playing some traditional Egyptian music (you know, traditional Egyptian music with the distortion guitars and all). At some point the guests left and the show regained a more "conventional" western vibe.
All in all, it was a very good show. Lasting over two hours with a total of three encores, including Maya Dunietz singing an Israeli Lullaby a'cappella to wrap things up, it didn't even feel all that long for someone like me, who came to this show without knowing any of the songs. The regulars sure seemed to enjoy themselves, with the traditional custom of jumping on one another and kicking each other in the face, which I'm sure everyone can agree, constitutes a good time.
On a final note, referring to both the Midnight Peacock and Malox, I have to say that sometimes, it seems like the fact that the Israeli music market is a practically nonexistent dead-end actually does Israeli Music some good. Obviously, a band like Malox stands no chance in commercial radio. People wouldn't know what to do with them. But they still do what they do, playing something completely bizarre, possibly because they know that they don't have a chance to make a living out of their music in Israel (well, unless they decide to play in weddings, or something). The same goes for the Midnight Peacocks: They stay true to their art. They take everything to the extremes and never look back. Only it pays off: The place was packed with loving, yet slightly demented fans, who will continue to support this band, hopefully till they get some significant recognition abroad.
29/12/07: Sivan Av and 'A Second Before' at the Yehoshua
I've seen Sivan perform by herself on one or two occasions. I was always quite fond of her, but never had the chance to see a complete show. In the meantime, she managed form this band called A Second Before (rough, ROUGH translation from Hebrew). I was generally very surprised that evening. First of all, I was surprised to see a full band fit on the Yehoshua's tiny stage and even more surprised to find that the sound was not as bad as I had expected. Usually pubs have a problem managing the sound of a drum set, even when they claim that they are up to it.
The second surprise was how good this show was. I didn't know what to expect exactly, but it seemed like Sivan and her band covered all the basics: Performance-wise, they were very in-sync, whether it be the general movement on stage, which was very limited as it is since there was very little room to maneuver, the tightness of the music itself and the theme clothing, which I know, is a bit 80s and cheesy, but it works. The band all wore black shirts with white ties, while Sivan wore a white shirt with a black tie. God damn it, I sound like a fashion reporter. Fuck that, it looked cool, okay?
Sivan is a skillful singer with a pleasant and healthy voice, and she knows just when the hit the right notes and how. She brings forth solid songwriting with clever and straightforward lyrics, dealing with her life experience (of 20 odd years) in an original and non-cliché way. The majority of the songs were rock ballads, but every once in a while the band would change pace and start beating on their instruments, while keeping everything in good taste, of course. They manage to take songs that aren't very harmonically challenging and arrange them in a way that serves the song well and keeps you unaware of that fact. Although all the songs shared the same musical and lyrical line, I can't really say that there were two songs that sounded too much alike, which in my book is Great Success! (Sorry, saw Borat this week for the first time. I'm way behind on times)
The band stopped in the middle of the show for an intermission of seven minutes (for a drink and a smoke) and then came back for another round. Sivan removed the white buttoned shirt and replaced it with some kind of sleeveless top and I'm talking fashion again. My main sentiment about this is that the first thing that came to my mind when was how I could never pull that off as a lead singer in a band. I mean, I could, but that would make me come off even gayer than this review is making me look (not that there's anything wrong with it!)
ANYWAY… Another pleasant surprise was a cover version of K's Choice Not An Addict. The band performed it quite accurately, and Sivan's voice fit in just right. I think it was at that moment that I saw in the corner of my eye that a tour bus had parked right next to the Yehoshua, and people starting pouring out of it. The concert went on, and a few songs before it finished, 50 vigorous Argentineans barged into the pub and started cheering, clapping their hands and generally jumping around. What a twist! Suddenly the concert gained a wild momentum, as the place was immediately packed with people and a lot of South American spirit. I just love it when that happens. As a matter of fact, every concert should have 50 Argentineans barge into it and raise the roof. I think I'll write a letter to the government of Argentina about this or something.