Wilco (The Band) has run the gamut through an extensive range of identities on record: from alt-country heroes to conspicuously anti-commercial sonic manipulators and back again, sort of, to upbeat dad rockers. That they can do each distinct musical character justice in concert is impressive. That they can manage to weave each segment of their discography into one cogent, if sprawling, three-hour set with success is something more. They did precisely that the other week in Hartford.
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Ben and Jerry’s threw a flavor release party Monday night at the Bowery Ballroom, announcing the name of a new and incredibly delicious, music festival-themed ice cream: Bonnaroo Buzz (light coffee and malt ice cream with a caramel whiskey swirl and English toffee pieces.) Chosen to lead the celebration were omni-rockers Ozomatli.
When you tell someone that you’re from Washington D.C., you’ll often get a response along the lines of, “There must be a great punk scene there”. At which point, you’re forced to explain that while that might have been true 20 years ago, nowadays, punk bands are about as commonplace as honest politicians in the District. But every once in a while, D.C.‘s punk rock underbelly will briefly resurface, as old and young punks gather to celebrate the city’s musical history and keep the flame alive.
There’s a clear current that runs through the work of Daniel Martin-McCormick and Jacob Long: an obsession with driving rhythms. As part of the explosive, short-lived D.C. post-hardcore ensemble Black Eyes, the pair played alongside two drummers who traded in the sort of tribal polyrhythms that have only recently become fashionable in indie rock. Now, as members of San Francisco’s Mi Ami (along with drummer Damon Palermo), they’ve largely shed the free-jazz leanings of their previous act in favor of a more aqueous, echo-laden sound. At the Velvet Lounge on Friday night, the band showcased the full range of its abilities, with a set that started out visceral before descending into a disorienting tangle of spaced-out dub. Just when it seemed like the Velvet Lounge’s PA system couldn’t possibly be pushed any further, Martin-McCormick applied a delay effect to the drums, resulting in a deafening wall of ricocheting rhythms. It was a tactic that hearkened back to Martin-McCormick and Long’s days in the District: when in doubt, just add more drums.
Heavy metal at The Opera House has become a tradition in Toronto, but the gathering of four metal bands all hailing from Finland was a rare novelty. Survivors Zero, Swallow The Sun, Moonsorrow, and Finntroll entertained an all-ages crowd on Monday night that made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers. The appearance of each new band onto the stage was a theatrical moment which included apocalyptic entrance music and the hoisting of banners, like armies storming a battlefield. The effectiveness of the mood preparations was underscored by the fact that each band was given ample time to perform complete sets. The resulting steady flow of black metal infused with Finnish folk music had heads banging, hair swirling, devil horns pumping, and mosh pits in full swing even before headliners Finntroll had their instruments in hand. At the end of each set, fans feverishly chanted “one more song”, and thanks to the efforts of a highly efficient stage crew, gap times between bands were mere minutes. The Finn rockers clearly fed off the crowd’s energy and they willingly expressed their appreciation for the zeal. There were many highlights but the overall upshot of seeing these strongly unified metal bands was a bona fide treat.