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Monday, August 8th, 2005

The Dark Don't Hide It

There exists a cult of Jason Molina that I just don’t understand. I’ve heard both albums from Songs: Ohia and The Magnolia Electric Co and saw the latter live last October and while I enjoyed all of the above, the devotion I see from some his fans makes me wonder if I’ve missed out on something. With a guest list spot and a free evening this past Friday, I decided to give Mr Molina another go.

Having hit The Airfields show at the Cameron House earlier in the evening, I missed most of the openers – all of Jon-Rae Fletcher & The River (no biggie, seen them before, will surely see them again) and most of Grand Buffet. Grand Buffet were touring with MEC and have no doubt left a trail of bewildered and probably angry Molina fans in their wake. From the 10 minutes or so of their set that I caught, I can say they were truly an odd choice of opener. A two-man comedy/rap group along the lines of Tenacious D, I thought the bits I caught were pretty damn funny but I know a lot of the crowd hated them… which I suspect may have been partly the point.

Molina and co took the stage just after midnight and led off with “The Dark Don’t Hide It”, my favourite track off their latest album What Comes After The Blues and spent the next hour performing songs from both the Magnolia and Songs: Ohia repetoire. Perhaps fittingly, the best audience response came for songs from the transitional Magnolia Electric Co album that served as Songs: Ohia’s swan song. They were certainly my favourite songs in the set – “Farewell Transmission” was particularly excellent. While I was mostly indifferent to their last show at the Horseshoe, I enjoyed this one quite a bit more. The band seemed less jammy and more focused, but looser in a good way. I can’t help but wonder if maybe the six-piece band configuration is too much. With all due respect to the lead guitarist and keyboardist, I found myself thinking that maybe a four-piece with Molina, the lap steel player and rhythm section might have given the songs more space to breathe and stretch out. With the half-dozen players onstage, it seemed there was a little too much going on.

Oddly, the Electric Magnolias did not return for an encore not that I was complaining – it was pretty late, I was tired. So while enjoying the show, I still haven’t figured out what the faithful are seeing that I’m not. Molina is a wonderfully emotive singer and songwriter, and his band is very solid if a little heavy on the conventional Southern/roots rock tradition, but seeing the looks on the faces of some of the audience, it was obvious they were enjoying the show on a different level than I. And that’s fine, I don’t have to get it. I probably like stuff that would leave them scratching their heads too… Anyway, photos here. Every time I looked at Molina’s scarf, I just thought he looked like a terrier.

Bonus – Junkmedia also has part one of a two-part interview with Jason Molina about his philosophy of touring everywhere and anywhere.

The Postal Service finally has a website – just in time for the project to be put in mothballs while Ben Gibbard gets behind the wheel of the Death Cab. What took you so long, guys? At least they’ve got some downloads and videos to make the visit worthwhile. And they’ll happily sell you a t-shirt.

Dressy Bessy’s Tammy Ealom tells Chart they’re pleased as punch to associated with Metallica’s old label. They’re also planning a tour with Canadian dates this Fall.

Sufjan Stevens breaks his legendary media silence and gives The LA Times a rare interview. Treasure this one, kids – who knows when we’re going to have another… Probably tomorrow. Via LHB.

Mark Eitzel talks to Acting Now about the difference between actors and singers and how the professions should be mutually exclusive. And how he hates people in general. Looking way into the future, Eitzel has a new solo album due out this Fall (Candy Ass) a new American Music Club album is in the works with an eye towards release in March or April of next year.

RIP, Peter Jennings.

np – American Music Club / Love Songs For Patriots

By : Frank Yang at 8:21 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. suckingalemon says:

    jon-rae is playing a free soundscapes show with his choir!! on august 19th at 6.

    always a good idea to see the choir.

    cheers

  2. punky! says:

    In addition to looking like a terrier, he also bears a striking resemblance to Tommy Lee Jones in your header photo.

  3. timothy says:

    i’ve seen molina half a dozen times times and sometimes his shows are lacking something, but other times they’ve been amazing. i’ve seen him solo and a stripped down three piece and with the members of the impossible shapes as his band. he plays a lot of unreleased material at the live shows which can be annoying. but i think the albums are spectacular. my fave is "didn’t it rain."

  4. troy steele says:

    count me in as a member of the Cult of Molina. I guess I don’t have any way to explain it to you except that if you get it, you really get it.

  5. Satisfied 75 says:

    great post. i am a big jason molina fan.

  6. Jeff says:

    I just wanted to say thanks for the Smog tickets, Frank.

    The show was pretty awful, but it was free. :)

  7. fatcitizen says:

    Frank,

    Molina wore the scarf on stage in Montreal too. It’s a strange look.

    I think you can count me in the group of S:O/MEC fans that was "digging it more than you." Trying to figure out why (Is it the songwriting? The way that it feels kinda like what you’d imagine seeing Neil and Crazy Horse in a small club would feel like? – with fewer eye-bugging guitar solos, of course) is kind of a mug’s game.

    Smog tonight, hope it’s better here than in TO.

    FC

    PS: Put me down as a Molina fan who wasn’t at all pissed off with Grand Buffet…they were fun!

  8. matzohball77 says:

    Idea for your next contest, Frank. Give tickets to other bands so they can improve their craft. Example: If you gave Magnolia Electric Company tickets to The Knitters they might learn something about dressing well, looking good, and entertaining an audience with well-crafted songs and inspired performances.

  9. troy steele says:

    wait, was that comment a weak attempt of a street team effort for the Knitters?

  10. matzohball77 says:

    If I was street teaming for the Knitters I would have suggested it before the shows. I happened to catch both shows. The Knitters were great, MEC were not even good.

    For one thing, MEC dressed like they didn’t know they were going to be on stage (or even in public) that night. And I don’t think two of them even knew they were on stage—they remained seated the whole time. It wasn’t the worst show I’ve seen all year, but I wouldn’t see them again.

  11. Frank says:

    I don’t really care how bands dress when they perform – most of the acts I like are ugly anyway, so there’s not much point in trying. And as for the seated guys, one guy was on keyboards which work better seated unless you’re rocking a key-tar, and the other guy was on lap steel, which, well, needs a lap.

  12. Private R. Yan says:

    I want to make a long, private hello to an enemy and stranger, Jim Beansworth, a janitor at CTV and a man of little worth or dignity. He is still alive and I feel a certain sense of loss in this. Oh well. I move on.