Catching up, again

Seems like I can never post about shows in a timely manner. Sorry. Anyway, in May I shot The Cave Singers at the Constellation Room and Matt Pond at the Roxy for The Owl. I couldn't get a photo pass for The Decemberists at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland though. Even though it was a really expensive trip, I'm glad I got to hear Castaways and Cutouts in full and meet Colin again and go to another show the Crystal Ballroom. Seriously, why don't more venues have bouncy floors?

In June and July I shot some more shows for the Owl: Rocky Votolato at the Satellite, Owl John (Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit) at the Echo, and Wye Oak at the El Rey. 

In August I was going to see Spoon at Hollywood Forever with Renee, but then Death Cab announced a show at the Independent in San Francisco on the same day. And I managed to score a ticket, so... yeah. I had an awesome trip to SFO, met Ben and John Vanderslice before the show. I was in the splash zone during the gig, but I was expecting that. However, I did not expect Ben to jump into the crowd during Sound of Settling! They also played For What Reason! But they didn't play Transatlanticism, which is a shame cos it's always a show highlight for me. I got a setlist though, so yea!

Later in August I went to Monterey to catch The National at First City Fest. Despite my not liking festivals in general, I wanted to see TN once more on the Trouble Will Find Me tour. And First City turned out to be pretty laid back and not too crowded at all. So I handled it well enough. The bands that played earlier in the day were all decent, especially Future Islands! So much fun, fantastic energy from the frontman. But The National! My last time seeing them for a long while, and although I wish it had been a multi-night stand at some rad theatre, it was a really good set for a festival, all the mainstays and Matt did his walkabouts. They even ended with the Vanderlyle singalong. And I got Matt's setlist after the show. Perfect.

The National in SoCal

I got to see The National twice this spring, relatively close to home. In March they played at the Shrine in LA and I got pit tickets! It was the premiere of Mistaken for Strangers so I got to see the movie a third time and then The National played a whole set. And Tom even wrangled Matt's mic cord during the walkabout in honor of the night! And I passed their parents as I walked through the orchestra so I waved at them. Yea Berningers! 

In April the band played at the Santa Barbara Bowl. So. Rad. Even though it was cold, windy and rainy, the weather suits them. It really is becoming a leitmotif when I see them. After seeing the setlists from the multi-night stands they did in Chicago and Austin (why the hell didn't I see them in Austin!?) I was hoping for a bunch of rarities, but with a 10pm curfew they only had time for one. But it was Santa Clara! The one bummer was that Matt could barely be heard down front for most of the show, but we just sang along anyway and it was like The National karaoke. Despite the lack of alcohol consumption, there may've been some "woo"ing on my part as well. Sorry.

Special thanks to Jim for getting me Matt's setlist from both nights. He really is the best.

Shearwater!! And the Owl!

Shearwater kicked off their tour in support of Fellow Travelers on the west coast last month and, as always, I followed them. Photos and some words are over at the Owl, where I'll be a contributing photographer from now on. Yay for taking some initiative! And double yay for having good times with SW again! Although boo for not getting to see them again until (probably) next year. Hurry up 2015!

It Takes an Ocean.

After seeing The National in Seattle last year, all I wanted to do was see them again. This is how I work. See a band, love them, need to see them again. And again, ad infinitum. So looking at their tour schedule my best options were Aspen or Honolulu in January. The show in Aspen was appealing because of the tiny venue, but the expense and logistics were prohibitive. Also, snow. I like it in the abstract, but in this instance it was likely to be a hinderance.

So that left Hawaii. At first I was only daydreaming, but the more research I did, the more plausible it became. So I made it happen.

I only spent two and a half days in Oahu, so I had very little time to play tourist, but I managed to squeeze in a walk on Waikiki, a hike in the mountains and a tour of the northern part of the island. The show, as always, was the priority though. Of course.

I did the usual, showed up ridiculously early, first in line, eavesdropped on soundcheck (OMG Matt sang Apartment Story a cappella). The weather was grey and damp, so, fitting. I had drinks at the bar before doors, my favourite being one called "Bearded Dude", quite appropriate for the show. There was no opener, just TN. Really, what else do you need? Although if Shearwater could open for them… that would be prefect.

Anyway, nothing too unusual in the setlist, only two songs I hadn't heard live before, Hard to Find and Lean. But Lean was the one I was really hoping to hear and </3. Totally. And even though the rest of the set was familiar, it felt amazing to hear those songs live. Some things don't get old. I have to admit I sang along much more and a lot more loudly than was strictly decent. But I cried along with those songs last year, they were a solace then and hearing them now is a relief, a release and just a fierce unholy joy, like the sudden blaze of an exploding star.

Okay, a bit melodramatic, but whatever. There's not much like singing along with Terrible Love while trying to steady Matt Berninger as he climbs over the rail.

A Gibbtastic Weekend

Well, the Ben Gibbard tour has come to an end and once more I find myself with an inevitable case of PTD (post-tour depression).  But hey, I had an epic weekend in the great, grey Pacific Northwest seeing one of my favorite musicians. Totally worth it.

I got into Seattle on Friday and spent the morning wandering around my favorite city, killing time until about four when I decided it was acceptable to start a queue at the Showbox. I was the only one around when Ben walked up and I was so caught off-guard that I didn't even manage to say hi before he went inside. You would think that after so many shows and meeting so many musicians (including Ben!) I'd be better at playing cool, but I guess deep down I really am just a spastic fangirl.

After a lengthy wait, I finally got inside and claimed a spot in the front, as per usual. I thought it was ideal at first, and certainly I had a great view of Damien Jurado (who deserved better than to have half the crowd talk through his set), but after he left Ben's music stand was placed directly in my line of sight. Talk about no unobstructed view (pun, sorry!). I was a little bummed, but I was able to work with and around it pretty well. And I was also primely placed to ask for the setlist at the end of the show, so yea to that. And fucking yea to just getting to be there to hear Ben sing. Even though I'd heard him play most of the songs before, they still kill me. Every time.

The next day found me a little extra freaked out: I got a tattoo in the early afternoon and I had a meet and greet before the show at Washington Hall. The tattoo was less painful than I'd anticipated, but I could not *not* get flustered upon meeting Ben. It actually went kind of okay, I told him that I'd enjoyed the previous shows and he was super nice. But when I asked to take a polaroid with him and found out that I'd run out of film the last time I'd used camera and I'd neglected to bring a spare pack to boot, I got all crestfallen. I did get a regular photo at least (and hopefully I can get that polaroid at a future date). The show was a couple of hours later and once again it was amazing. The venue is need of a good refurb, but it was still a cool place. Ben changed the set up a bit and I was gratified to hear him play Talking Bird on the piano. If I'd had the nerve to request a song, that probably would've been the one. I actually found myself getting misty-eyed before it was over, a rare occurrence for me. Although I'm pretty sure that's just confirmation that I am a crazy bird lady. SFG (spastic fangirl) moment: before playing Where Our Destinations Lie, Ben mentioned seeing familiar faces from other shows in the crowd, then turned to me and asked if it was cool if he gave a similar intro for the song. I told him it was cool. I think my inner 15 year old passed out.

Oh yeah, he covered the Beatles too. No bigs. And along with Talking Bird he played Farmer Chords, Recycled Air and Passenger Seat. Just some of my favorite songs EVER. *blissful swoon*

The next morning, after picking up film and getting one last piroshky, I took the train to Portland, a city in which I have not spent nearly enough time. I was thrilled to pass Powell's on the way to my hotel and promised myself I'd check it out the next day before I went home. Anyway, cut to several hours later and I find myself inside the springy-floored ballroom, at the front one last time. Damien Jurado opened this last show and once again he was awesome. I will be making damn sure that I see him again the next time he tours.

The last show of a tour is always bittersweet for me, and this was no exception. I took more photos and video than I had in the previous nights combined, I think in an attempt to hang on to every moment. No matter how much I wished time would slow down, the show crept closer to the end, suddenly it was time for the piano songs and then the encore came out of nowhere and I clapped until my hands hurt and then somehow the last song rang out and it was all over and I wasn't ready at all! But I was really unprepared for Ben to take his setlist off the music stand, walk over to where I was standing and, amid all the people reaching towards him, hand it directly to

Oh. Em. Fucking Gee.

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