Saturday, 24 March 2007

It was roughly a year ago that I first saw Amiina in concert. They were the opening act when Sigur Ros played at the State Theater (or was it The Orpheum?)

It turned out, at the time, that they’re also the string section for Sigur Ros.

This time they were here as a headliner playing The Varsity, with a guy named Tom Broussard doing warmup.

In what seems to be becoming almost cliché, Broussard is probably best described as a singer/songwriter. Armed with just a guitar, a harmonica, and his voice, he put on a 30-45 minute set. Vocally, I’d compare him to Jeff Buckley, with a similarly high pitch and a tendency toward softer, almost introspective lyrics.

I tried to grab a CD after the show, but he had already packed up and was on his way out at that point. Maybe I’ll remember to find one later.

The four women of Amiina, like Sigur Ros and Bjork before them, are all from Iceland.

It’s also interesting to watch them on stage. Every so often, as each piece calls for it, they just get up and float over to a different instrument. Each of them seem equally adept any of the instruments on stage; from violin to cello to bells to keyboard to guitar to xylophone. I only saw one of them actually play the mandolin, but at least two played the musical/singing glasses.

Heaven must sound like Amiina, I think, because that’s the only way I can describe their music. Sonicly their songs are lilting and powerful at the same time. Pure magic.

Because they aren’t very strong with English, they didn’t really announce their songs at all. Couple that with only a few song even having lyrics, I have no way of doing a set list. They only have 1 EP, 1 single, and one album (brand new, released the day of the show), and did about 12-15 songs, so they petty much did everything they have.

In spite of their difficulty with the local language, they did talk a little between songs. That too was wonderful because even their accent is musical.

You can bet I’ll see them again given the chance.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Once home to a movie theater, The Varsity has taken on new life as a concert venue. Due to it’s on-campus location and difficulty finding parking, I wasn’t the biggest fan at first. However, having been there for at least a half-dozen shows over the last couple months, the place has kind of grown on me.

Outfitted with café tables, couches, and comfortable chairs, The Varsity feels more like several small living rooms than it does a concert hall. Table lamps and candlelight add a certain homey quality that makes you feel as though you’re among friends. It’s a place that lends itself toward easy-going artists such as Kaki King and Stuart Davis.

The first opener was a group called Jelloslave and I just have to ask “What the fuck?” Is this really what music has come to? In our unending quest for something new are we to believe that the new frontier is cacaphonous, discordant noise? Please, for the love of all that is holy, NO! Two cellos, a pecussionist on tablas, and a drummer, and a percussionist; each apparently playing at different shows. It had that same unrecognizable quality that free-form, acid Jazz has. Completely random sounding, but played with such purpose that it must have been intentional. It wasn’t until their last song that they played something accessible enough that I could get into it.

Next up was Kubla Kahn, a 6-piece rock-n-roll act. Quite simply, they kicked ass. Throughout their eight-song set they put on a solid show with lots of energy and great tunes. People in the audience got up and danced a bit, sang along and generally had a good time. Kubla Kahn was just what an opening act should be, a warm-up for the crowd and a taste of things to come. I’ll have to pick up a CD sometime (they packed up their merch before the end of the Honeydogs set.)

Finally, taking the stage at almost 11:30, was The Honeydogs. Now, I’ve seen them before, and Adam Levy is one of my favorite local musicans; so to say I was looking forward to this show would be a bit of an understatement. I was not to be dissappointed either. Through their 90+ minute set they did a bunch of stuff from the new album, Amygdala, as well as older stuff. They kept up the energy the whole time and really turned it out.

All in all, it was a great evening and well worth it. If you ever get the chance, see them live and say hello to Adam, you won’t regret it.