Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003
I first saw John Vanderslice last Fall at the Horseshoe opening for Spoon, and was impressed enough to pick up his latest, Life And Death Of An American Fourtracker, at the show. What I remembered most about that show was his utterly insane drummer. Playing off a tiny jazz kit, he was all drumstick flourishes and pulling off cymbals in the middle of songs, grabbing new ones off the floor and putting them on the stands, all without missing a beat. He was a sight to behold. Unfortunately, he wasn’t behind the kit for this edition of the ‘Slice experience, they still put on an enjoyable opening set. Mixing up songs from Fourtracker with ones from the forthcoming Cellar Door (out Jan 20, 2004), Vanderslice is still all about quirky, sparse pop songs spiced up with loops and keyboards. Bassist Paul Hoaglin has taken over as the visual focus of the band, mixing up posing and mugging with flawless execution of his bass, keyboard and backing vocal duties. Vanderslice and co. will be back in March, and are definitely worth seeing.
I had missed Beulah every prvious time through town despite having been a fan since When Your Heartstrings Break, so there was no way I was missing this show – especially with them hinting that this may be the last album and tour. And if it is, it’ll be a damn shame, because Beulah put on a pretty kick-ass show. They are sparing no expense, travelling with a pretty fancified lightshow setup and shitloads of gear. The San Franciscan sextet broke out almost two hours of awesome pop music drawn equally from all four of their albums, doing a pretty good job of reproducing all the sonic textures of the albums. As has become standard on this tour, they took requests during the encore on the condition that the requestor come onstage and play/sing with them – there were more than a few takers, and thankfully most of them seemed to know their way around a tambourine. Predictably, guitarist/trumpeteer Bill Swan held my attention for most of the show, particularly after he pulled off the solo from “Landslide Baby” live – I was convinced that on record it was pieced together from various takes, but no more. It was a revelation.
Bonus was buying a shirt and the tour-only Demo album (comprising the entirety of Yoko taken from the original cassette four-track recordings – a very nice companion piece) from Miles Krukowsky. As always, props to bands that man their own merch tables.
I got some really good pics last night – getting there hella early and being in the front row helped a lot, but so did Beulah’s lightshow – it’s nice to have anything besides Lee’s standard red stage lights to work with. It was a late night, so I only got the Vanderslice pics up, but the Beulah ones will be up tonight. See here.
Update : The Beulah pics are up now as well. I know I had a good spot for taking pictures because the videographer who was filming the show also planted himself right in front of me – most of my shots are taken while I’m dodging his head. I’m pretty pleased with this batch – the lightshow really helped.
Sorta related – the new Vanderslice-produced Mountain Goats record We Shall All Be Healed has been given a February 2nd release date by 4AD for Europe. That hopefully means a February 3rd release date for North America.
np – Beulah / Demo