Sunday, June 21, 2009

Recap: Ben Kweller, Local Natives, Jones Street Station

Tonight I went to House of Blues to see Jones Street Station, Local Natives, and Ben Kweller. The show was supposed to be a mainstage show, however low ticket sales resulted in the show moving into the 5th Avenue Voodoo Stage. I have a lot to say about that and honestly I don't feel it reflects on the artists whatsoever, so I'll save it for another time.

I made it to the show early because I wanted to make sure to catch both opening bands. I think Local Natives were slated to play first, but since they're from LA and had tons of people out to see them, Jones Street Station started off the night. The band is made up of five guys who met in Brooklyn but who come from various locales (Minnesota, Jersey, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois) and it just reminds me how much I love boys from the Midwest. Their rootsy, Americana songwriting is addictive, and their harmonies are stellar. Throw in the various instruments (mandolin, stand up bass, keys, harmonica, accordion, tambourine) and I was sold upon first listen of their sophomore CD, In Verses.

For the rest of the recap, click 'keep on reading'.

Find more music like this on Jones Street Station
I had a photo pass to the show but the lighting just doesn't work for my camera so here are just a couple shots. The rest, sadly, make the band appear like they're possessed. This is definitely a band I will be paying attention to in the future. There's not really a lead vocalist to the group... John belts it out and plays a mean harp, which he pulls out of a hunting belt; Danny's got more hushed vocals while strumming a guitar, banjo, or mandolin, which reminded me a bit of Ian Ball from Gomez. The rest of the guys sing, too, however the sound board they soundchecked with failed just before their set, so they had half the inputs they needed so we didn't quite get the full band harmonies.

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Standout songs for me were "Evergreen" which definitely hit an emotional nerve for me and "Tall Buildings", which was the last song of their set. The entire band stood singing without mics while Danny played his acoustic guitar completely unplugged. Aside from the rude assholes that talked throughout the show, it was a pretty specatacular performance. I couldn't shoot video, but here's video of a similar performance in NY a few months back.

Between bands I was in a crowd of kids with their parents sharing that it was their first concert. An older lady got in a conversation with the people around me and she was in her early 80s, there to see her grandson in Local Natives. As the band was about to start, I maneuvered over for pictures only to then get screamed at from the sound guy. Even though I was where I was supposed to be. Dick. Anyway, after the first song he grabbed me and said I could shoot for the next two songs. Not that anything I attempted worked anyway...

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I caught Local Natives when they played the loft a couple months ago and they're genuinely entertaining. I guess there's a vibe that some bands have...Local Natives, Port O Brien, Builders and Butchers, Blitzen Trapper and Dusty Rhodes all come to mind, where the band members are all clearly multi-talented, they play every show with the same heart, and they appear to be a happy family onstage, and there's really no way to fake that and it makes for really amazing live shows. These kids are good.

Jake had arrived by that point, so after a few photos I watched the set from the back of the crowd. Jake told some yuppies to shut up which made me laugh. Maybe people don't get out enough? I don't know. How someone can talk non stop for an band's entire set just floors me. And if you have so much to say, can't you just move it outside, or at least lean in to your friend's ear so you don't scream over a a band that is playing- That other people paid to see.

Anyway, I bought the band's EP since I didn't have cash last time around. After the set I introduced myself to 3/5 of Jones Street Station: JB, Danny, and Sam who couldn't have been nicer guys. We chatted a bit about the tour, about the "House of Rules", about the rest of the tour, and some random shit, like how JB wrote the bacon bacon beef jingle for Wendy's and when Sam came down with Poison Oak (he builds stuff, including hiking trails) he was in a clinic for treatment and the Wendy's ad came on. The way they spoke, riffing off each other, finishing sentences, I felt like we should all go sit around a campfire together. While we spoke, Ben Kweller walked up and they introduced me and then I let them be so they could talk about plans to join Ben onstage for his finale.

I also spoke briefly to Kelsey from Local Natives and (fingers crossed) might have them back in town soon, since they're based nearby. I'll let you know how that goes.

I went back into the venue to catch Ben Kweller and was happy to see that the crowd has swelled significantly. He started off the set with Gypsy Rose and naturally I love any song with my name in it. Kweller's songwriting and countrified music is mellow without being boring and he continued on playing a pretty lengthy set.

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Again, after some pics, I hung with Jake along the side wall which is where we made our mistake of the evening and left. It isn't that we weren't enjoying the show, it was just that I had planned to catch Ghostbird at the Ruby Room. By the time we walked to his car, got caught up in gnarly post-Padres and regular Saturday night downtown traffic, we got to Hillcrest and searched aimlessly for parking for over half an hour. You can only cruise Essex so long before getting annoyed, both of us realizing we should've just stayed for the full set at House of Blues, especially since there was gonna be a big Ben Kweller/Jones Street Station/Local Natives finale that I'm sure was incredible. Can't win em all. With that, I turned in for the night, catching 120 Minutes on VH1 Classics and bid adieu to another Saturday night.

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