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Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Let's Get Out Of This Country

It’s hard to believe that I was initially uninterested in going to see Camera Obscura at the Phoenix on Sunday night. After all, I’d already seen them twice in support of 2006’s wonderful Let’s Get Out Of This Country – was a third time really necessary? But when The Last Town Chorus was announced as support, it occurred to me that here was an opportunity to see two bands I really liked and who had nothing to prove to me. I could actually go to a show I knew I’d enjoy start to finish and know almost every song and I was hemming and hawing about it? Duh.

I realize that saying this will probably undermine any credibility I have as a music critic just a bit, but I want to have Megan Hickey’s babies. Not only is she who is The Last Town Chorus beautiful, a helluva lap steel guitarist and blessed with the voice of a totally bummed out angel, she’s also funny as shit. In between performing selections from her terrific second album Wire Waltz, Hickey regaled the audience with wonderfully odd and goofy stream-of-consciousness banter that provided a counterpoint to her sad, sliding-steel, space-country songs. Playing as a duo this time (they were a three-piece with keyboardist in January), they were far louder and more physical onstage than you’d have thought two seated guitarists could be with Hickey moving and swaying as one with her lap steel as she coaxed it into both gently weeping and madly howling. Mesmerizing, and even moreso every time I hear the record or see her live. Though this was already her third time through town this year, she promised to return again this Fall – immediately following this tour, she’s heading on the road with Mark Olson and after that has a string of dates with The Weakerthans.

Even Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell was compelled to comment on their ubiquitousness in our town, saying that she feared we’d be sick of them by now. Judging from the nicely full Phoenix, that was not the case. Excepting the odd festival date, this show marked not only the end of Camera Obscura’s North American tour but the end of their touring cycle for Let’s Get Out Of This Country and it was obvious that they were quite happy to be going home for a rest – but not before letting it all out for this final performance. Where past CO shows were marked by their low-key stage presence and Tracyanne’s famously stony face, this night was tremendously fun and loose and Tracyanne was caught with a grin on her face more than a few times.

Playing with a substitute drummer and multi-instrumentalist, the band played through the bulk of Country and damn near overloaded the PA during “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken”. Camera Obscura too loud for the PA? I’m sure that’s the seventh sign. They also delved into their back catalog and threw in a couple of covers including their lullabye-friendly version of ABBA’s “Super Trouper”. But it was in the encore that they really got silly, first sending out guitarist Kenny McKeeve to play “Rocky Racoon” solo while the band sat as his feet and took pictures (apparently he lost a bet) and then closing out with a “Razzle Dazzle Rose” that culminated in an honest-to-god, noise-tacular guitar jam. I never would have thought they had it in them. They should play every show like it’s their last one. Seriously.

eye also has a review of the show (though just the Camera Obscura set) and Bootlog has got a session The Last Town Chorus recorded for Minnesota Public Radio in May available to download.

Photos: Camera Obscura, The Last Town Chorus @ The Phoenix – August 26, 2007
MP3: Camera Obscura – “Let’s Get Out Of This Country”
MP3: Camera Obscura – “If Looks Could Kill”
MP3: The Last Town Chorus – “It’s Not Over”
MP3: The Last Town Chorus – “Modern Love” (live)
MP3: The Last Town Chorus – “Change Your Mind”
MP3: The Last Town Chorus – “Oregon”
MP3: The Last Town Chorus – “Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me?” (live)
Video: Camera Obscura – “Let’s Get Out Of This Country” (MOV)
Video: Camera Obscura – “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken” (MOV)
Video: Camera Obscura – “If Looks Could Kill” (YouTube)
Video: The Last Town Chorus – “Modern Love” (YouTube)
MySpace: Camera Obscura
MySpace: The Last Town Chorus

Last Town Chorus’ next tourmate, Mark Olson, is in town tonight for a show at the El Mocambo as well as an in-store and signing session at Soundscapes starting at 6PM. St Louis Today and The Minneapolis Star-Tribune talk to the former Jayhawk about the single life, the solo life and his new album The Salvation Blues. And as for the Weakerthans, their new record Reunion Tour is out September 25 and the first MP3 from it is available below. They’re also running a series of webisodes documenting the recording of the album – the first >two of which are up now.

MP3: The Weakerthans – “Night Windows”

And speaking of reunion tours, Billboard adds fuel to the fire by reporting that My Bloody Valentine are considering reuniting for a performance at Coachella 2008. Assuming this happens – and it could, Kevin Shields has been insisting that MBV isn’t dead since he came out of hiding a few years ago – the question becomes am I, as a card-carrying shoegaze freak, obligated to fly out to the California desert to bear witness? Good question. Update: And they’re MySpace-d! Via LHB.

And another reunion tour, that of The Waterboys, arrives at the Danforth Music Hall on November 5.

Also from the pages of Billboard, news that HMV Canada (who have untethered www.hmv.ca from amazon.ca and now exists as its own online shop) has opted to slash the prices of their catalog titles by up to 33%. This sounds like great news though in reality, it only brings their prices down to be in line with the independent stores (at least as far as the indie-r titles go). And while any indication that the industry is realizing that CDs are too expensive is a good thing, I can’t shake the feeling that this move is somehow furthering the devaluation of music as a whole and now CDs are just being used as loss leaders to get folks in the store and shopping for video games. And anyways, if anyone was actually willing to pay the $27 white sticker price for a copy of Sticky Fingers, well a fool and his money and all that.

By : Frank Yang at 8:25 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post9 Responses.
  1. Alex says:

    It was my first time seeing them and I felt they put on a pretty rocking show. I was also completely surprised with the big, soaring rock out to close it out. I felt like I was in the middle of a Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky performance. And The Last Town Chorus was also pretty phenomenal. My favourite part had to be, "free bookmarks, motherfucker!" A whimsical show indeed.

  2. coin says:

    Don’t know if you saw this, but Okkervil River is supposed to be playing Conan tonight.co

  3. Bruce says:

    A fine night altogether. Consider me a Last Town Convert. Did you happen to make note of CO’s setlist? I was particularly interested in finding out the song they played immediately after "Let’s Get Out of This Country"; really enjoyed it but couldn’t place it, and would appreciate any help!

  4. meegs says:

    What a brilliant night – thanks for the amazing photos – i lazy-ied-out & stayed parked in the balcony…

  5. Thierry says:

    I’m glad Last Town Chorus got a good reception – I saw her play for about 15-20 people at the ElMo earlier this year and kept thinking that her voice and stellar guitar playing deserved a much bigger audience.

  6. Shumway says:

    All things being unequal, a lifetime copy of Sticky Fingers is probably worth $27.

  7. Elle from QC says:

    Yep, The Last Town Chorus was unbelieveable that night. Time stood still. That’s really all I can say.

  8. Don says:

    I enjoyed the concert, for sure, and it was the first time I’d seen CO, but I couldn’t help feeling they were tired from the tour. I was towards the back of the room and I really should have moved up front – is there that much more oomph to the sound up front at the Phoenix? LTC didn’t have any trouble blasting it right to the balcony!

  9. Don says:

    PS – Your blue picture of Tracyanne would make a fabulous poster for the band. Nice work.