Here are some bands I've seen recently. Tortoise and Mogwai were both at the Fillmore, which I've started detesting mor and more: $20 ticket price, Ticketbastard instead of Ticketweb, no decent beer on tap, lots of fratboys that don't know anything about the band that's playing. Since these shows usually sell out a week or three ahead of time, I'm left wondering why drunken fratboys are paying $20 3 weeks ahead of the show, to see a band they don't know. Anyway, here's a quick synopsis:
Tortoise: I expected a bunch of older guys (i.e. my age) puttering around on instruments and maybe wanking with feedback. Instead they put on a really brilliant show, doing a lot of songs that i recognized (even though i didn't remember the song names or anything) and really just wowing me throughout. Stuff that i thought had to be studio magic on the CD, they just whipped through on stage. And they had lots of cool gadgets, like a device that looked like a harmonica with a vacuum hose attached: the dude would blow into one end, and the other end was connected to a keyboard. The end result was a very harmonica-like sound, but using a keyboard so he had lots of range. The opening bands were very techno oriented, but surprisingly good. I was really getting into the last one, "Nobukazu Takemura".
Mogwai: They're big enough to play at the Fillmore for two nights, but they seemed a little juvenile this time. I liked most of the show, but it was all stuff from CODY and Young Team (except for one song from the new album): lots of loud fuzz and noise, separated by a soft rendition of "Cody" that seemed exactly like last time. I'm all into noise, but their new album is so quiet and different that i was hoping to see more stuff like that now. Also they were intent on knocking over drumsets and amps when they left, like it was 1991 again, and they did the "we're leaving everything feedbacking" schtick when they left the stage for the last time. My ears were ringing but it didn't leave a good taste in my mouth. Honestly i don't remember much else about the show -- just lots of long drifty feedback and noise excursions. But they're no Sonic Youth.
The New Pornographers: Aside from 1-2 poppy songs, it took a while for their one CD to grow on me, so i had no expectations going in, except that it looked like they'd be fun people. They sure are. They played every song on the album (in different order) and there was only one that i didn't really enjoy when they played it (i won't tell you which) -- somehow i was really getting into songs that i only sorta liked on the album. There were even a few extra songs and covers to fill in for the fact that they basically have only one album. Neko was present (yay!) and her and Carl (the other frontman) were both very crowd-friendly and chatty. I went all fanboy and got a t-shirt and would've bought other stuff if they'd had anything to sell. The opening band was a prettboy punkish band from Berkeley, and they were pretty cool too. Greg swooned and bought their EP.