Concert Review


V.25 No.10 | 03/10/2016
Jake Jams
Anagamin

Music

Shimabukuru and His Ukulele

The house was packed last Saturday night for Jake Shimabukuro's concert. It was an intergenerational mix of people; three generations of Albuquerque music lovers came out for the show. There were members of the folk-music community and veterans of the art-music recital scene, families and young people taking in new sounds.

The lighting at Simms Center at the Albuquerque Academy had artistic intent and contributed to the celebratory atmosphere with rich colors. From start to finish, it felt like a flawless performance. I arrived feeling tired and kind of out of it, but left feeling energized and inspired. The artist and his instrument blended so well together. Shimabukuro's ukulele seemed like another arm or the perfect dance partner, attached by life and love.

Shimabukuro played a few experimental tunes that were supposedly dissonant but were still musically enthralling. He followed up with traditional Hawaiian music and thoughtfully interjected three cover tunes, "Come Together," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "While my guitar gently weeps." The George Harrison tune was especially visceral and heartfelt.

Throughout the concert, Shimabukuro used two different instruments, each with different timbres and purposes, blending his instrumental knowledge into each piece he performed.

After each song Shimburakuro and the bass player would fist bump one another, obviously eager and excited to be playing together and for a receptive audience. The stage was very simple, just the two players interacting and focused on the other’s playing. Shimurakuro received two standing ovations at the end of the night; the audience was grateful for such an amazing journey and the musicians seemed thrilled to provide it.

V.24 No.29 | 07/16/2015
The Melvins
Mat Hayward

Music

Mainlining the Melvins

Step by step, I wonder into Launchpad (618 Central SW), each foot coming closer and closer to what seems to be a natural unison. I'm late as usual, but the wave of approaching sound sends my brain into an anticipatory flutter. The clamorous BOOM of drums begin to flow into the veins of the ground, straight through my arteries and directly into my heart like I'm mainlining each crash and thump as burning metal into my veins. As the last foot reaches it's destination, I realize exactly what I've stumbled into. It takes a moment, an isolated, but rewarding moment, to realize I'm in a pit of sonic obliteration.

As I look towards the stage, I see three figures, covered from head to toe in scarlet – almost silhouettes – taking the idea of sound to an increasingly devastating level. An explosion is occurring, right before my very eyes, in the form of a human named Terri Gender-Bender. She sways and screams, she strums her guitar like an accelerating hot rod burning off the flesh of god; she rocks! Along with Terri, Jamie Aaron Aux handles bass and Chris Common plays the sticks. It's a finale, a consequence of my tardiness, but it's all I needed to hear, to understand. It's an aural bomb and I'm riding each sonic boom with full cooperation, all the way into the apocalypse.

The band quakes in unison to a litany of head bangs and devil horns, offering sacrifice like appeasement for the immensity before them.

As the last note bends itself into forced cooperation and the feedback of the amps release all the demons everyone was holding in that night, Le Butcherettes finish their set and receive a loud cheer from the crowd. I watch them walk away into the dimly lit background of the alley. I stand in absolute amazement of what I just heard. It's hard to believe that great rock n roll, in it's true trail-blazing form, still exists on planet earth. But I witnessed it first hand, in the form of Le Butcherettes.

The noise dies down and I hit the wall like gravity intends me to. Observing the crowd, I feel a certain camaraderie. The show attracts a variety of black-haired lion manes and sweat soaked battle jackets with scars of experience you couldn't count on one hand. But no matter what the musical affiliation or statement of fashion, we are all there for the same reason. A reason that binds our brains and hearts into motion, anticipating the unadulterated and refined crunch of what is to come. As I begin to delve into the analytic recesses of my mind, I hear the music halt, and a cough-like noise begins to fill the building. It's a sound loop, a repeating exertion of human reflex, as if clearing a palette. I recognize it as the cough from Black Sabbath's “Sweet Leaf” – the song begins to play as I see a robed man take the stage.

Two more men, with sticks and bass, take their rightful places on stage. What appears to be the eye of Horus – patterned into gold on the robed mans black cloak – stares into the crowd, as if to observe the worthy and destroy the undeserving. Aleister Crowley comes to mind, a powerful charisma surrounds the stage. Then a sound, distant at first, grows into a overwhelming cloud of distorted catastrophe. The deep CRUNCH of the first chord sprays black all over my red veins and I know exactly where I am. I know exactly what this is. This is the FUCKING MELVINS!

Buzz Osbourne displays a concentrated focus, Dale Crover begins his smash into oblivion one ball- blasting beat at a time. Jeff Pinkus raises his shivering metal bass into the air, guiding the increasingly kinetic headbanging in the crowd. The crowd thickens near the stage, and and the transformation process begins. First it's a few, then more and finally many begin to scream, sweat and convulse in awkward and intense unison. We continue, forming a sludge as we come together in our love for the brutalization of eardrums and bodies. The sludge grows thicker and thicker, and from each chord comes a melting wave of music that forces our nervous systems to disconnect from our heads – shaking those motherfucking skulls like we're trying to rattle a pick out from the body of an acoustic guitar.

My feet shake and my head bangs. They don't stop for one blinding moment, not even when Buzz Osbourne breaks the sonic wall for a cover of the Butthole Surfers “Moving to Florida.” As Osbourne shouts “And I'm gonna build me the Atomic...” we all scream “BOMB!” in anticipation. He waits, and whispers “bomb”, breaking back into the bass-blasting segments of the song, and demonstrating a masterful understanding of the music surrounding him.

Osbourne shreds, Crover blasts, Pinkus pounds and the show winds down to the last song. Jumping from the shadows like the blast of a supernova, Terri-Gender-Bender enters, immediately breaking into what seems to be an interpretative dance to summon the spirits of punk and metal. She aids the Melvins in building the climax of the show. With one last blast of soul and energy, the show ends with Osbourne saluting the crowd like the commander in-chief of sonic crunch.

They all leave their instruments on, generating deafening feedback to drop us all down from the musical high that had been keeping us up for hours. Dale Crover is the last to leave. Like the proverbial bridesmaid catching the bouquet on her best friend's wedding day, I jump into the air to catch the drumstick he throws to the crowd.

I didn't catch it and fumbled with it as it flew to the ground. But I fought for it and came out victorious with a new souvenir of one of the best shows I've been to in a really, really long time. As the band leaves and the crowd dissipates, I walk straight towards to the door, drumstick clutched in hand.

I stroll to the parking lot, attempting to regain my serious loss of hearing, I reflect on the show. So many other people have seen this band, and they have played a myriad of cities and venues. But I now have my own triumphal moment. In the back of my mind, I know – with the utmost pride and certainty – that even if it's just a fragment of the bands long prolific history, I got rocked the fuck out by the Melvins.

V.23 No.50 |
Courtesy of the artists

music

Tender Accord: Jenny Lewis and Ryan Adams harmonize at Kiva

Wherein Free Art Friday Albuquerque founder Stephanie Galloway fondly recalls the first concert of December, aka Ryan Adams and Jenny Lewis at Kiva Auditorium.
V.23 No.27 |

music

Acoustic Performer John Gorka Graces Duke City

Singer/songwriter John Gorka delivered two highly spirited sets at the Summer Nights series at the BioPark (903 10th Street SW) on Thursday, June 19. The Minnesota-based veteran touring artist wowed longtime fans and won over countless Albuquerque music lovers who were new to his signature mix of deep and clever vocals, guitar and comedic storytelling.

Gorka opened with originals from his latest release, The Bright Side of Down, and continued to sample the collection to great effect throughout the evening. Gorka is nothing if not precise, personal and universal, sometimes all in the same lyric. This ability combined with masterful musicianship across genres including folk, blues, pop, rock, bluegrass and rockabilly makes him a worthy companion for an evening ... or a lifetime. This reviewer has seen him in concert over 20 times. Many of those performances have been in festival settings, as Gorka is a highly sought-after act on the vital, enduring national folk fest circuit. At the BioPark concert, he joked about visiting Scandinavia, a hotbed of singer/songwriter and folk fandom.

Gorka's catalog is extensive, and he plumbed its depths in concert. Selections included chestnuts like “I Saw a Stranger with Your Hair,” “I’m From New Jersey,” “Branching Out” and “Love is Our Cross to Bear.” The modern-day Renaissance man wove requests and selective orchestrated sing-alongs to engage the receptive crowd on the lawn that beautiful night. Many in the audience were obviously longtime followers. And they, along with the newcomers, were rewarded with a varied and holistic representation of the showman’s talent.

In stark contrast to the awkward egotism displayed by Marc Cohn the week prior at Zoo Music, Gorka paid our fair city a compliment during the second set. He praised the enthusiastic audience, noting that he wished all his shows could be like this, in “this corner of paradise.” The key to delivering such a line lies in simplicity and sincerity, and Gorka radiated both.

John Gorka is a deft master of the folk trifecta: penetrating lyrics, unparalleled musicianship and compelling storytelling. When he opened and finished his tunes at the BioPark, he wasn't greeted with mere applause: We’re talking yelps, yoo-hoo's, squeals of joy and all-around exuberant acknowledgment of this well-traveled troubadour.

Dear John, please come back soon and stay longer.