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Show Review: Chuck Ragan @ Triple Rock

Posted April 19, 2014, 9:03 a.m. by Loren

Chuck Ragan, White Buffalo, Jonny Two Bags
Triple Rock Social Club
Minneapolis, MN
April 15, 2014

It had been many a year since I’d seen Chuck Ragan perform, and that was with his former (and sometimes current) group Hot Water Music. I’d never seen the man play solo live, but I know his history well. Not as a super fan, of which HWM alumni have plenty, but as a casual fan. It took two things for me to really appreciate Chuck Ragan. The first was seeing The Draft and not being impressed. For those uninitiated, the Draft is essentially Hot Water Music minus Ragan. The second was his 2011 record, Covering Ground. Till Midnight (2014) is solid too (and a review is forthcoming), but it was that record that won me over again.

Pulling up to Triple Rock the crowd was already bleeding into the street and there was a SOLD OUT sign on the door. Pushing my way inside, I realized that the crowd was very different from previous Ragan endeavors. Had he grown a new following outside of punkrockdom, or was it a case of a split bill with White Buffalo?

Let’s just say that while White Buffalo weren’t bad at what they do, it didn’t appeal to me and I mostly sat their round out, away from the sweaty crowd. As they finished their middle of the line-up set, the place didn’t exactly clear out, but it became easier to move about the venue and it would be a safe statement to estimate that perhaps a quarter of the crowd left before Ragan’s set even started. He took it in stride, acknowledging his past affiliations with the venue and its staff, and jumping straight into his singer-songwriter/folk blend.

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Ragan plays with a full backing band, The Comraderie, and while they fill out the sound and offer some harmonies, it’s still clearly his music onstage. He is rightly in the spotlight, but he also didn’t interact much with his cohorts, instead playing one song after another with a few asides directed to the crowd. Those comments were mostly about the music and the club, but he wasn’t much of a talker.

What sets Ragan apart has always been his unbridled enthusiasm. His heart comes across clearly, as my companion at the show and I recalled seeing him play with Hot Water Music in 1999 (?) with a broken foot and still stealing the show, regardless of playing his guitar from a folding chair for that whole set. His songwriting is strong and his voice and performance skills are effective, but it’s his stage presence that defines his music. When Ragan sings, he means it. There’s no arguing the conviction as his neck veins coarse and his eyes close while he belts out the words and that ragged voice—which sounds like it should be ruined from all these years in basements and clubs—has actually become more fluid and nuanced than ever. He’s honed his voice and for all the “gravel,” it’s clear that he’s a professional singer capable of hitting his notes without damaging this throat for the rest of the tour.

The set was a mix of his catalog, from the early Blueprint Sessions up to the new Till Midnight, with Till Midnight probably carrying around 50% of the set. The crowd was into it all and there was a smooth transition back and forth through his catalog.

Then, after a full night that pushed an hour onstage, he took a breather, came back out, and announced that the next few songs would be from his other band. (Contrary to one audience members demands, those were from Hot Water Music, not Rumbleseat.) Here, the night took a turn toward shouted vocals that were mostly overshadowed by the crowd anyway. These songs were singalongs for the diehards, and they got their money’s worth out of it.

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Speaking as the “casual fan,” it was a good show and an even better performance. I’d expected a bit more of the punk vibe that often translates to more-talk-less-rock, but Ragan was to the point and “professional” all night. Meanwhile, his songs never waved, clearly tightly rehearsed but still personal in meaning to him, it hit on both elements. I was a bit surprised there wasn’t more interaction with The Camraderie, but it didn’t lessen the show—it just maintained who the crowd was really there to see and whose name is on that album cover. Compared with his previous band, the atmosphere was definitely different, with a more “positive vibe” tone than the high octane, louder Hot Water Music shows.

Ragan himself looked a bit more thin than I remembered, dawning a flannel shirt and long, somewhat curled hair—something of an Eddie Vedder look from a distance or through a blurry photograph. The crowd was a mix of punks and craft beer drinkers.

--

All photos by Loren Green

From Indian Lakes @ Studio at Webster Hall

Posted March 28, 2014, 1:59 p.m. by Eli Zeger
Written by Eli Zeger
Photos by Hadar Sagi


2014-03-21 21.44.17 (copy 2).jpg
From Indian Lakes
 
 
From Indian Lakes is a group of five pretty boys who make poppy emo music, but with post-rock riffs and melodies; they’re a weird bridge between Do Make Say Think and One Direction. As part of their Able Bodies headlining tour, the California quintet stopped by the Studio at Webster Hall this past Friday (3/21). They were eagerly greeted by an audience full of beanie-wearing, tightly-jeaned, Alternative Press-worshipping teens.

Brooklynites Dutch Bats opened the show. They really embodied that generic indie vibe: simple chord progressions, timid stage presence, and a guitarist who looks like he’s from Vampire Weekend. Total bummer. I don’t see a future for these bland wankers.

SoCal quartet Naive Thieves followed. Their sound was upbeat and jumpy (they tag it as “tropical” on their Bandcamp). What really stood out about them was vocalist Cameron Thorne’s uncanny similarity to the singing style of Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. They weren’t jaw-dropping, but the show was definitely getting better.
 
2014-03-21 19.23.35 (copy 2).jpg
Naive Thieves
 
Next was The American Scene. They were pretty awesome. With a strong, heavy sound and consummate guitar playing, this Berkeley, California four-piece undoubtedly ruled over the two preceding acts; their bassist and drummer are even twins who dress like Ian MacKaye!
 

At around 9:30, From Indian Lakes took the stage, making the almost-full house go crazy. Everyone sang along to hits like “Breaking My Bones” and “Till I Can Walk.” The band even knew how to tone down the mood with their jolly acoustic track “I Don’t Know You.” Lead singer Joey Vannucchi sang with great range and not a single note was out of key. Following a brief encore, From Indian Lakes wrapped up the show at a little after 10:30.

Although they led an occasional synchronized clapping sequence that the crowd enjoyed, From Indian Lakes wasn’t the most charismatic live act. There was some stage movement, but they seemed only a little more lively and energetic than the icky Dutch Bats. Although it wasn’t one of my favorite shows, my night at the Studio at Webster Hall beat sulking at home - and I got to discover the awesome American Scene.
 
2014-03-21 20.06.44 (copy 2).jpg
 
The American Scene
 
 
 

Show Review: Russian Circles, KEN Mode, Inter Arma

Posted Feb. 24, 2014, 8:17 a.m. by Chris Brown

Russian Circles, KEN Mode, Inter Arma at Underground Arts, Philadelphia, 2/19/14

Last week, Chicago's Russian Circles touched down in Philadelphia as a part of their current tour with Ontario's KEN Mode and Richmond, Va.'s Inter Arma. As far as show bills go, it really doesn't get much better. All three acts released top-notch records in 2013, albums that garnered deserved praise from critics and fans alike. The other thing that all three bands had going in their favor on this night was that they've all been touring relentlessly for what feels like forever behind their sterling latest recordings. Simply put, this was three bands in a dark basement performing at the peak of their powers. 

Inter Arma were first to take the stage. Last year's Sky Burial is an almost disorienting doom record as it plods from black depths to bleak psychedalia, and the live experience is no less scorching. Bear with me on this, but hypothetically if zombies, pirates, and vikings were to wage war on dry land in some sort of battle royale then Inter Arma would be the ones leading the charge for soldiers who drown at the depths of the blackened ocean floor. It took time for them to build, but their power only swelled as sounds continued to get louder and considerably  heavier. The band's second guitarist seemingly appeared out of nowhere about halfway through their set. They play with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, and seem poised to take over that space previously occupied by Mastodon as a band popular with the smokers but still heavy enough for the heads. Their set ended with the drummer thumping away. He even pulled out a large wooden branch and basked that against the kit to close out their performance. 

Next up was KEN Mode. To describe their performance in a word, that word would be "spirited." They've obviously been touring a lot, and it's evident in their live set. They crank out heavy, blistering tracks one after another with virtually no breaks in between. Way more earnest, honest, and real than could possibly be expected based on listening to the album. 

The genre descriptor "post-rock" is kind of a strange one, but for Russian Circles it's apt.  Their music is "post" in the sense that it breaks down conventional expectations for a band comprised of guitar, bass, and drums. At times it seemed like there was a full on fleet of musicians on stage conjuring up these soaring landscapes. One of the most remarkable things about seeing Russian Circles perform live is that they don't say a word. In fact, they don't even look at one another. And yet, they know when to start each song and they know exactly when to stop. There's a level of trust on display that is nothing short of incredible. They're a well-oiled machine at this point, and a product of experience. It's seamless, and a marvel to watch unfold. They know exactly what they're doing, and know exactly when to do it. Not to put too a fine point on it, but this was an epic, seamless set from a band of true professionals. I still haven't quite recovered. 

 

Too Many Rappers: Fall Roundup

Posted Nov. 14, 2013, 7:45 p.m. by Nathan G. O'Brien

Too Many Rappers: Fall Roundup

The Minnehaha Creek is just one of the many places I do my thinking. I mean, as a human being with a fully functional brain, I do a lot of thinking in, at, or near a lot of places. It’s not like thinking is something we can control. It just sort of…no, not sort of…it is just something that happens. Anyway, the Minnehaha Creek is one of the places I do my thinking. Like my thinking thinking. Like, purposeful, deep, hard thinking. There are some regular things that I think about when I’m here—things like work, having kids, securing a future, getting healthier, my family, and other, you know, life things. And at this particular time, as I stand in the blackened, whispering wind of a crisp Minneapolis fall evening, overlooking the Minnehaha Creek, I drink a few secret beers, I as I often do here, and think about a variety of things that aren’t necessarily life things but aren’t any less meaningful.

I think about how fucked up it is that the older you get the less likely you are to hang out with your friends, and how not only is it fucked up, as I stated, but also incredibly depressing.  The lyrics to LCD Soundsytem’s “All My Friends” keep running through my head, which is puzzling, because I am certain that there are other songs that mean more to me. Yet I keep repeating the lyrics, “Where are your friends tonight?” and “If I could see all of my friends tonight!” And then, for unexplained reasons, I am overwhelmed with the urge to scream, “I felt so fucking alive!” It’s a line that Daniel Roebuck’s character “John” says in in the 1986 teen-angst-murder-coming-of-age-y film Rivers’s Edge. This may seem a bit strange, as I have not (spoiler alert) choked my girlfriend to death. But I’ve seen the movie so many times that it’s sort of ingrained itself into my being at this point. And well, I am standing near a body of moving water too. So there’s that. Then something from my past pops into my head and I immediately send a handful of good friends the following text message:

Sitting here, having some beers Han Solo-style at the Minnehaha Creek and all I can think of is…SHIT YOUR GODDAMN PANTS!

The recipients of this text are the only people in the world that would ever understand it’s meaning, but that’s precisely the point.  I laugh out loud, as I think about how great it is that a ridiculous inside joke can be the foundation that lifelong friendships are built upon.

One of them texts back, “Ain’t that the way it goes. Another says, “Just whisper it.” And all is right in the world.

Another beer sinks in, my mind wanders, and I end up spending an excessive amount of time thinking about how it’s been 20 years since the Wu-Tang Clan’s outstanding debut Enter the Wu-Tang Clan: 36 Chambers dropped. “20 years, dudes; 20 years,” I say out loud to nobody whatsoever.  I will always feel like I missed out a little bit on the initial excitement because I was so wrapped-up in flannel shirts, Doc Martens, and anything Seattle at the time. My otherwise fierce proclivity for discovering new rap music had briefly taken a back seat to my re-found interest in weird, punk-tinged white people music.  Honestly, I didn’t fully engulf myself in 36 Chambers until a year or so after seemingly everyone else had. I think about how I might go to the record store tomorrow—probably the Electric Fetus— and buy 36 Chambers, and how it will most definitely be on CD so I can play it in my car, which I’m not embarrassed to admit still has a bass cannon in the trunk. Oddly enough, the only copy of 36 Chambers that I have is a dubbed cassette that I’ve dragged around with me for roughly 19 years. I’ve never been one to let format be a deciding factor when it comes to personal importance of an album.

I think about how, for better or worse, (and most likely worse,) rap music has changed a lot since the Wu-Tang Clan first hit the scene. I think about how there was once a time when nine guys, or 10 guys if you count Cappadonna, (which I’m inclined not to,) didn’t seem like too many rappers.  And then I think to myself, damn, there you have it – that's your Too Many Rappers segue right there…

In the New Mixtapes department…

BlueChips2-Cover.jpgAction Bronson & Party Supplies – Blue Chips 2

Action Bronson's greatness has never come as the result of focused lyricism, but rather the opposite—scatterbrained rhymes; seemingly written with little regard for things like story arc or cohesiveness, but delivered with superb breath control. Much in the same way the Beastie Boys were the Internet before there was an Internet, Bronson boasts a savant-like spank bank of '80s sports figures, pro-wrestling history and pop culture references. Blend it with a dose of druggy, misogynistic shithead-ness, a don't-give-a-fuck attitude, and an unhealthy food obsession and you have the most trivial and irreverent, yet amazingly fluid rap songs available for free on the Internet. If you’re not downloading Action Bronson mixtapes, you're literally losing money. Here's a sample lyric from "Midget Cough": “Don’t even step within’ six feet of my presence / Leave you open like the desert / Def Leppard / Fresh pepper / Did I mention, steer the whip with one arm like Jim Abbot / Chocolate sauce over thin rabbit / If these opportunities arose before we would’ve been had it / Shorty sniffing haddock in the attic / I been addicted in these streets / In my pants I’ve even shatted / Then sat in it, sadly.” As he’s done on numerous releases previous to this one—like Dr. Lecter with Tommy Mas, Well Done with Statik Selektah, Rare Chandeliers with Alchemist, and most recently the Saab Stories EP with Harry Fraud—Bronson  teams with a sole producer in Party Supplies. This is the same man with whom he created the first installment of Blue Chips. Party Supplies beats on this tape are nothing special, that’s for sure—even half-assed at times—but it doesn’t distract much from what is yet another stellar Action Bronson outing.

 

bb2.jpgBlack Dave – Black Bart

NYC-based skater/rapper Black Dave returns with his second tape this year. Black Bart picks up right where Stay Black left off, leaving no inclination of Black Dave slowing down.  In fact, when it comes to rapping, he’s gotten faster. At times he sounds like more attentive and decipherable Twista. His granular, vigorous flow is complimented well by beats from a variety of producers.  The assortment of production lends the tape a bit of a multi-regional feel, but ultimately, much like fellow New Yorkers Flatbush ZOMBiES and A$AP Mob, Black Daves’s sound reflects the trap emergence of modern day rap music.  Shy Guy takes on the majority of the production, providing super-clean trap-happy slaps and chimes to seven of the 15 tracks. This includes the standout summer jam “Take it Back.” Brady Becklo delivers the boom-bap leanings for “Recognize”, which is as close to old-school New York rap as you will get on this tape. Other notable tracks are “To Da Grave”, in which DJ Smokey goes the full SpaceGhostPurrp on the beat, and the electro-tinged “Fake ID”, where VeryRVRE provides a buzzed-out noise manipulation score.

 

Flabush-Zombies-Better-Off-Dead.jpgFlatbush ZOMBiES – BetterOffDEAD

I won’t lie, despite D.R.U.G.S being one of my favorites from last year; it took me a little bit to get into Flatbush ZOMBiES latest tape. Perhaps it was the lofty 19 tracks that wear on a little long for one sitting. Or maybe it was it was because it was the last thing I listened to before being cuffed and thrown in the back of a squad car in an incident that may or may not have been related to illegal artistic expression.  Either way it’s taken me awhile to come back around to this, but I’m glad I finally have. The majority of the production is handled in-house by Erick Arc Elliot. His dedication to his craft is apparent. The ample soundscapes on BetterOffDEAD are the result of what I can only imagine must be hours upon hours in the lab. I’m not sure if tossing around the word “opus” when talking about a mixtape is a thing that’s legal, but as I alluded to a few sentences ago, legalities aren’t always my strong suit. So I’m just going to go ahead and say it: BetterOffDead is a rap opus. Inasmuch as an opus can contain the following descriptors: psychotic, psychedelic, druggy, drugged-out, acid-soaked, obnoxious, eerie, ominous, rugged, raw, and bangin’. Emcees Meech and Juice stir a bubbling cocktail of nasally, drug-addled, murderous, and thought-provoking lyricism that recalls early Nonphixion, Necro, Cypress Hill and Gravediggaz.

 

Gucci_Mane_Diary_Of_A_Trap_God-front-large.jpgGucci Mane – Diary of a Trap God

In a move that surprises absolutely nobody, Gucci Mane put out a whole bunch of mixtapes this year - nine to be exact.  Well, that might not be exact because there's always the very real chance that he dropped like, three more in the last 10 minutes. No, wait, he’s in jail, right? Who knows – I don’t have the energy to keep track. When Trap God 2 came out at the beginning of the year I jumped all over but now I can't remember much about it other than Gucci said his name a lot, the production was lame, and it was not as good a tape as Trap God 1 from last year…which isn't saying much really. August’s World War III: Lean was dope though. I’ve been bumping that one and Diary of a Trap God whenever I feel like punching down. Although Gucci does really irritating things like releasing nine tapes in one year—most of which are like, 20 songs long—I give him a pass because he was in the highly underappreciated film Spring Breakers, has an ice cream cone tattooed on his face, has Twitter beefs with rappers who are featured on his songs, and, well, is Gucci Mane.

 

King_Chip_44108-front-large.jpgKing Chip – 44108

King Chip is the new-ish name of the Cleveland, OH-based emcee that used be Chip da Ripper. Before this tape, I was totally unfamiliar with King Chip; probably because I don’t really fuck with Kid Cudi, who he runs with. I downloaded it based purely on the song “Police in the Trunk”, which I somehow happened across and subsequently fell in love with. Layzie Bone guests on “Fuck You Lookin’ At”, in which he rhymes “Twitter” with “hit her,” while that “stop scheming and lookin’ hard” line from Audio 2’s “Top Billin’” is dropped in the cut. Another notable guest spot comes courtesy of the one and only Fat Trel on the Lex Luger-produced trap banger “It’s Real.”  44108 as a whole, is a pretty solid tape, but I’d be lying if I said I could pinpoint any other song that’s as good as the one that goes, “Mr. Officer, get your bitch-ass in the trunk.”

 

 

meek-mill-dc3.pngMeek Mill – Dreamchasers

I will take some of the blame for feeling like I’m over Meek Mill at this point.  I could probably have prevented this if I hadn’t spent money on Dreams & Nightmares.  I’m not saying the album wasn’t good—in fact I liked it quite a bit—but coming off the Dreamchasers 2 mixtape, which it was basically just a rehashing of, I can’t help but feel like I wasted a bit of money. But that’s what I get for paying for rap music in disposable era. The old-school in me still hangs on to the idea that an “official album” is better than a mixtape. But really, if we’ve learned anything from this column over that last 10 months, it’s that it’s a total crap shoot either way. That being said, Meek makes some really good tapes. And I’m sure this one is already considered a modern classic ‘round ye olden interwebs, but this particular hip-hop head just can’t get into it. I still like the urgency in his voice, and his angry raps are straight ill, but I don’t feel like he’s saying anything he hasn’t said a thousand times before. Then again, I suppose most rappers aren’t. But that doesn’t make it right either. Surprisingly my favorite parts of the tape are the Nikki Minaj verses on “I Be On Dat”, which kind of concerns me, so I try not to think about it too much. I like the boom-bap beat courtesy of Tone Beats on “Hip-Hop.” It makes me curios as to what a whole album of Meek rhyming over boom-bap would be like. Other than those, my favorite song is actually the “Lil Snupe Skit”, which is just a cell phone-quality recording of the now deceased Lil Snupe freestyling in the studio to what sounds like a Rick Ross instrumental or something. I’ll be surprised if this stays on my iPod much longer. I’m very close to placing Meek alongside drips like Dreezy, Weezy, Yeezy, Hova, Wale, French, and Rozay in the two categories I call Only Tolerable During Timeouts at High School Basketball Games and When I listen to KMOJ (which is usually on the way to high school basketball games.)
 
 
 

Project_Pat_Cheez_N_Dope_2-front-large.jpgProject Pat – Cheez N Dope 2

At the beginning of “Mask Up” DJ Scream proclaims, “You asked for it, so here it is – Cheez N Dope 2, nigga!” I think there is very real chance that that statement is an outright lie, or at the very least, highly debatable. I mean who is the “you” in this scenario? I would assume it’s the listener in which case, that would be me. And I can tell you with 100% certainty that I did not ask for this. No, no, no, I was just fine with Cheez N Dope 1. I have enough rap music on my plate already. The last thing I…we…anyone needs is another 25-plus song mixtape; especially from a guy that already put one out this year. Well, regardless, here we have Cheez N Dope 2 and here I am listening to it. And you know what, it’s all right. When it boils down to it, there’s too many rappers out there trying to clone this sound, that it’s actually refreshing to hear a veteran of the Memphis scene put out some new songs, even if only half of them are necessary. The standout tracks here are the Drumma Boy produced ones “Flippin N Stackin”, “No Mirage”, and “Gettin Cash”, which features longtime collaborator Juicy J.  As far as production goes, Ricky Racks turns in some trap bangers on the aforementioned “Mask Up” and the Nasty Mane feature, “Dick Eatin Dog”, which is lyrically just as ridiculously misogynistic as the title would imply. I’d reprint a sample lyric here but then I’d have to register as a sex offender.

 

torae-admissionofguilt.jpgTorae – Admission of Guilt

I’m disappointed that I’m disappointed by Torae’s Admission of Guilt. I wanted to like this so bad but I just can’t. This is especially troubling, as I thought For the Record was brilliant—one of the best rap records of 2011 actually—but this latest mixtape is just not doing it for me. A large part of the problem lies in Eric G’s production. Sonically it’s very similar in nature to Torae’s running mate Skyzoo’s album, A Dream Deferred, in that it’s too vibrant, luxuriant, and for lack of a better term, soft, for my tastes.  But if you like your rhymes on the introspective side of things, there’s plenty of that. It’s in the struggle that Torae’s lyricism thrives. “Limitless” is the perfect example of this, as Torae details the ups and downs of independent artists and the misconceptions about those that have broke through to the mainstream. The tape’s hardest-hitting track is the Bun B feature “Ask Me Why.” With its catchy hook, hard drums, slaps, and horn flips, it would be a nice cut to drop in a trap or party mix.

 

The-Underachievers-The-Lords-Of-Flatbush.jpgThe Underachievers – The Lords of Flatbush

Beast Coast emcees Issa Dash and Ka, collectively known as The Underachievers, already own one the year’s best mixtapes in Indigoism. And with The Lords of Flatbush they may have just outdone themselves. There are numerous things to like here—it’s only eight songs long, it’s named after the ’74 Sly Stallone/Henry Winkler teenagers-in-leather jackets gang movie, and there are no guest emcees—but perhaps the tape’s strongest suit lies in the production. The tape was produced in majority by Lex Luger, the man behind the boards for many of recent rap history’s hottest artists – Watch The Throne, Waka Flocka Flame, Rick Ross, and Snoop Dogg to name a few.  Issa Dash and Ka’s breathless flows—which touch upon a myriad of typical rap subject matter—sour diesel, running in the streets, being good rappers, etc.—is perfectly interwoven all the way through Luger’s machinegun trap beats. I have a hard time picking out a favorite track because they are all so good. There is a certain air of, I don’t know, demo-ness to this that I just love. It’s like the overall volume was turned up just a click into the red, which gives it a loud, full resonance that works really well. If there’s a weak link here, and it’s only nitpicky at best, it’s that Dash and Ka sound indistinguishable from each other. That and if you didn’t know better you might mistake them for their Beast Coast compadres Flatbush ZOMBiES. But actually, they are better. I can’t recommend this one enough. Get to downloading!

 

IMAG1667.jpgIn the Personal Propaghanda department…

My partners in crime and I have somehow managed to get our shit together just enough to put out new issues of our zines HotDogDayz and The Soda Killers. Both are issue #5, and are available for free, trade (preferred) or donation. HotDogDayz is full of found items, hijacked emails, mail art, reader submissions, fan letters, crusty art, raw photography, rail monikers, graffiti, and jokes.  The Soda Killers is a punk, rap, and graffiti ménage a trois, loaded with record & show reviews, graff flicks, sticker art, and a lengthy essay by Dale Danger of Bacon in the Beans fanzine. If you’re into any of it, get a hold of me via the contact links below.

Twitter: @OMG_NOB

Email: Nathan@ScenePointBlank.com

HIM @ Southampton Guildhall

Posted Nov. 10, 2013, 1:02 p.m. by David Rutherford

HIM, Caspian

Southampton Guildhall
Southampton, Hampshire, UK
October 28, 2013

It has been three years since HIM last played on the shores of the UK, with a lot of uncertainty whether they would continue as a band due to drummer Gas having arm splints that prevent him from playing. Also, earlier this year singer Ville Valo contracted pneumonia and things didn’t look good for the love metal band. But after the release of the band’s latest offering, Tears on Tape, everything seemed to fall back into place for them.

October 28 saw them playing Southampton Guildhall with support coming from Massachusetts instrumental band Caspian—a band whose post-rock sound seemed to fall short of getting the crowd of die hard HIM fan’s ready for their favourite band. This wasn’t because they were a bad band but there was just something lacking from their set, maybe it was there was no real connection with the audience?

As HIM took to the stage bursting into the new song “All Lips Go Blue,” it was clear that the break only made them tighter as a band, and that Ville has developed as a front man, now opting to pick up the acoustic guitar which brings a new dynamic to the live set. Although this tour is to promote the new album there was something for everyone with a lot of variety in song choice. Personal highlights were “The Funeral Of Hearts” and “Join Me In Death”.

The show ended with “When Love and Death Embrace,” which was the perfect note to go out on. It is clear they have been through a lot in the past three years but it has only made them a stronger band;if you were lucky enough to see them on this tour then you will know. If not, then I suggest that you catch them when they return to the UK next time. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Live review and photos courtesy of David Rutherford.

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Posted by Cheryl Prime
Sept. 8, 2013, 3:25 p.m.

Caïna, Hordes, Barshasketh The Unicorn London, UK September 6 2013 We've been talking a lot about the rebirth of Caïna of late and we'll soon have a review of the new ... read more

The Progressive Music Awards II: Futile Sequence

Posted by Sarah
Sept. 2, 2013, 4:11 p.m.

It's that time once again! The fabled Progressive Music Awards are tomorrow night, and I've spent the last few weeks getting myself familiar with the best of the best in ... read more

Too Many Rappers: Summer Wrapup

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
Aug. 28, 2013, 6:27 p.m.

Holy crap, has this summer been hot or what? Like, hot as in temperature hot.  Like, literally hot.  Which might be confusing now that Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries as well ... read more

The Nines Festival - Devens MA August 2013

Posted by Scott Wilkinson
Aug. 26, 2013, 8:52 a.m.

The NINES Festival Devens, MA   I must admit I was anxious to attend this festival when I heard the lineup featured none other than Shuggie Otis. I have had ... read more

Blur 21: The Exhibition @ IMMA, Dublin

Posted by Aideen
Aug. 2, 2013, 12:20 p.m.

  It's a tray in a hotel room, fairly unremarkable when put back to basics. The tray is littered with cigarettes, beer bottles, a can of coke, a crumpled McDonald's ... read more

Melvins, Negative Approach, Mudhoney @ Grumpys

Posted by Loren
July 29, 2013, 8:27 p.m.

Die Kruezen, Hepa/Titus, Mudhoney, Gay Witch Abortion, Negative Approach, Honky, Melvins Grumpys Downtown Minneapolis, MN July 20, 2013   It’s a shame that Amphetamine Reptile Records quit putting out new ... read more

Photo Journal: Postal Service @ The Greek Theater

Posted by Aaron H
July 26, 2013, 3:17 a.m.

The Postal Service are making their rounds again in support in the Deluxe Edition re-release of their 2003 album, Give Up. Scene Point Blank had a chance to check'em out ... read more

Dave Hause @ Cabooze Plaza

Posted by Loren
July 10, 2013, 5:05 p.m.

Dave Hause @ Cabooze Plaza Social Distortion, Cheap Time, Dave HauseCabooze PlazaMinneapolis, MNJuly 2, 2013 Dave Hause is a busy guy. I swear I get an email a week here ... read more

Too Many Rappers: Spring

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
May 6, 2013, 6:32 p.m.

Well here we are into the first part of May, and I'm wondering where the fuck March and April went.  I apologize for dropping the F bomb on you in ... read more

Record Store Day 2013 Wrapup

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
April 22, 2013, 10:56 p.m.

Minneapolis, MN, 4/20/13 Despite being fairly worn out from the previous evening—one which had me visiting three different venues, seeing six different bands, and imbibing at least twice as many ... read more

Show Review: The Men @ 7th St Entry, Mpls, MN

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
April 14, 2013, 2:38 p.m.

The Men live; 7th St Entry; Minneapolis, MN; 4/12/13 On just the third night of their North American tour, Brooklyn-based band The Men landed in Minneapolis for a packed-in show ... read more

Book Review: Davey Havok - Pop Kids

Posted by Matt
April 7, 2013, 3:02 p.m.

(This review contains copious spoilers: if you intend to read the novel yourself, proceed with caution. We're posting it as a blog since it's not strictly music-related, despite being written by ... read more

Show Review: Tegan and Sara @ Upstate Concert Hall

Posted by Stephanie Preston
April 7, 2013, 12:27 p.m.

Tegan and Sara were appreciated by Albany, NY last month when they came to the Upstate Concert Hall, the first time they've visited since the duo released So Jealous, which ... read more

Show Review: Anthrax, Exodus @ First Avenue, MN

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
April 6, 2013, 1:16 p.m.

Anthrax, Exodus, High On Fire, Municipal Waste, Holy Grail live; First Avenue; Minneapolis, MN; April 4th, 2013 Continuing their recent-ish trend of performing classic albums in their entirety, Anthrax rolled ... read more

This Beastie Boys Footage Needs to be Addressed

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
March 20, 2013, 1:40 a.m.

In the days following Adam Yauch’s passing in May of last year, many of us nostalgia-stricken fans were searching for words to express how deeply saddened we were by not ... read more

Too Many Rappers: February Wrapup

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
March 6, 2013, 8:31 p.m.

February 28th, 2013 As I write this, I am overlooking the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula from the balcony of my room at a vacation resort outside of ... read more

Too Many Rappers: February

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
Feb. 15, 2013, 6:02 p.m.

This hip-hop train just keeps on rolling.  And although I would like to think I’m fully on board, it feels more like I’m running beside it, trying to keep up, ... read more

New Column: Too Many Rappers

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
Feb. 5, 2013, 4:41 p.m.

Well, here we are, a whole month into the New Year, and as usual January was spent catching up on all the music I slept on last year.  Normally the ... read more

Show Review: Winterfylleth @ The Black Heart

Posted by Cheryl Prime
Jan. 29, 2013, 7:50 a.m.

The tiny Black Heart in Camden holds court to an evening of droned out sludge, traditional heavy doom, and more English black metal than you can shake a stick at ... read more

Show Review: The Great Old Ones w/Terzij de Horde and Oblivionized @ The Unicorn, London (January 5th 2013)

Posted by Cheryl Prime
Jan. 9, 2013, 12:17 a.m.

The Unicorn is suffering from a severe lack of air con tonight, the tension in the air made all the palpable by the insane levels of heat and the anticipation ... read more

Show Review: Neurosis and Godflesh @ Kentish Town Forum, London (December 2nd 2012)

Posted by Cheryl Prime
Dec. 8, 2012, 8:39 p.m.

The view that Scene Point Blank has been afforded for tonight’s performance is beautiful, and the sea of heads below on the floor is all the more astonishing seen from ... read more

Show Review: Minus the Bear/Cursive @ The Glasshouse

Posted by Aaron H
Nov. 13, 2012, 4:20 p.m.

Minus the Bear and Cursive have been on tour for the past few months in support of their 2012 releases. Minus the Bear put out Infinity Overhead in August, while ... read more

Show Review: Murder by Death @ House of Blues Anaheim

Posted by Aaron H
Oct. 8, 2012, 4:34 p.m.

Murder by Death have just begun to tour for their new album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, by supporting pop-punk troop, Say Anything. It's an interesting combo and Murder by Death ... read more

Show review: At The Drive-In @ Brixton Academy, London (08/28/12)

Posted by Matt
Aug. 29, 2012, 2:43 a.m.

It's rare that you attend a show that feels like it has the weight of history riding on it, but seeing At The Drive-In play what is likely to be ... read more

Show Review: fun. @ The Wiltern

Posted by Aaron H
Aug. 19, 2012, 4:58 p.m.

Fun. are back on the road selling out shows again. This time however, they didn't just sell out one show, but 3 nights at the illustrious Wiltern Theater in Los ... read more

Show Review: Murder by Death @ The El Rey Theater

Posted by Aaron H
Aug. 9, 2012, 2:25 p.m.

Murder by Death are preparing the release of their 6th studio album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, while celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their first LP, Like The Exorcist, but More ... read more

Sarah Deconstructs the Progressive Music Awards Nominees

Posted by Sarah
July 4, 2012, 9:39 a.m.

Well, it's high time that progressive music got a good, high-ish-profile awards show, and now, thanks to Prog Magazine, we have one. The bad news is that it stlil shows ... read more

Japandroids - A Live Review

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
July 3, 2012, 5:07 p.m.

Japandroids live, 7th St. Entry, Minneapolis, MN, 7/3/12 When a touring band starts their set by saying, “It feels like we’re back home, Minneapolis”, the natural instinct is to go ... read more

LeBron James - Stay Hatin'

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
June 22, 2012, 1:56 a.m.

LeBron James is Four Titles and a Rape Allegation Away From Becoming Kobe Bryant: How the Miami Heat Winning is Bad for Basketball Now I know that we here at ... read more

Royal Headache - A Live Review

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
June 10, 2012, 4:50 a.m.

Royal Headache, The Arrivals, Condominium live, Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, MN, 6/9/12 It was with some intrigue and, admittedly, mostly trepidation that I made my way to the Triple ... read more

Show Review: Hot Water Music @ The Glasshouse

Posted by Aaron H
May 28, 2012, 5:28 p.m.

Hot Water Music just released their new album, Exister, and recently spent a couple nights in So-Cal to warm up the new songs before they head out to Europe this ... read more

Rock on the Cowbell Slowly

Posted by Sarah
April 14, 2012, 12:27 p.m.

There are a few cultural constants we all come to understand depending on where we come from, and growing up in Vermont is no exception. Amongst other things, many develop ... read more

Show Review: fun.

Posted by Aaron H
March 29, 2012, 3:08 p.m.

Once again, fun. are on the road and Scene Point Blank was there to catch another great show. The band's playing the clubs in support of their sophomore record, Some ... read more

Musink Fest: A Review

Posted by Aaron H
March 6, 2012, 3:44 p.m.

I had the pleasure of attending the 5th annual Musink Fest in Costa Mesa, CA--a festival blending live music and an appreciation for tattoo art--hosted by LA Ink star, Kat ... read more

Show Review: Cursive @ The Glasshouse 02/25/12

Posted by Aaron H
Feb. 27, 2012, 3:43 p.m.

Cursive recently began touring in support of their 7th studio album, I Am Gemini. I had the privilege of catching their show in Pomona, CA where they played a great ... read more

Catholic Dating Sites

Posted by Sarah
Feb. 17, 2012, 10:45 a.m.

I know we don't usually review websites here at Scene Point Blank, but we just couldn't help ourselves after our editor in chief Loren received the following request: Hi,I'm Pheiné, ... read more

Vermont Counterpoint(s)

Posted by Sarah
Nov. 18, 2011, 12:51 p.m.

The piece ended rather suddenly, almost completely without warning. The conductor held his position for a moment, then slowly brought his arms down. The theater erupted with applause as the ... read more

Show Review: Bayside/Saves the Day @ The Glasshouse

Posted by Aaron H
Oct. 28, 2011, 1:35 a.m.

  Saves the Day and Bayside decided to team up this Fall to deliver a thrilling show fans of either could appreciate. Joining them on the tour are I Am ... read more

Show Review: The World/Inferno Friendship Society @ The Key Club

Posted by Aaron H
Oct. 8, 2011, 2:05 p.m.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society recently started their US tour supporting their new album, The Anarchy and The Ecstasy, with sci-fi-psychobilly (psy-fi?) band, The Phenomenauts. You could not ask for a ... read more

Cannabis Corpse - A Live Review

Posted by Cheryl Prime
Sept. 12, 2011, 7:36 a.m.

Last Thursday, The Purple Turtle in London's infamous Camden held what is likely to be the most fun headlining show I've seen this year. Cannabis Corpse, fresh off the back ... read more

Motley Crue and Poison - A Live Review

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
June 29, 2011, 6:33 a.m.

Motley Crue and Poison live, Target Center, Mpls, MN, 6/24/11 The New York Dolls opened the show but I couldn’t tell you damn thing about them. The girlfriend and I  literally ... read more

Midwest Hell Fest Wrapup-Day 2

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
May 31, 2011, 12:51 p.m.

Read Midwest Hell Fest Wrapup-Day 1 here. Despite intermittent sleep, I wake up feeling fairly well rested.  If memory serves correctly, I’m somewhere deep within the confines of enemy territory—Wisconsin.  ... read more

Midwest Hell Fest Wrapup-Day 1

Posted by Nathan G. O'Brien
May 17, 2011, 7:02 a.m.

After losing a year of my life behind the wheel, I finally arrive at my destination: Kimberly, Wisconsin. Upon walking into the hotel—and I use this term loosely—lobby, I am ... read more

Show Review: Fun. @ The Glasshouse

Posted by Aaron H
May 2, 2011, 8:31 a.m.

After a long wait and two opening acts—the clock struck 9:30 and Fun took the stage, while the boys and girls cheered. Suddenly, the beautiful overture to “Be Calm” opens ... read more

Fest 8 Wrapup

Posted by Loren
Dec. 16, 2009, 6:53 a.m.

200 bands, seemingly as many beers, and only three nights. Where do I begin my recap? My stomach is still shrunken from not eating right, and I continue to drink ... read more

Converge/Mastodon/Dethklok - A Live Review

Posted by Edson
Oct. 31, 2009, 6:11 p.m.

Let me start off by saying that I love all three of these bands, and I have been looking forward to this show since I got confirmed to photograph it. ... read more

Portugal. the Man - A Live Review

Posted by Edson
Oct. 24, 2009, 3:41 p.m.

Portugal. the Man is a Portland, Oregon based experimental indie-rock band, fronted by native Alaskan John Gourley. If you haven’t heard the story about this up and coming group, Gourley’s ... read more

Moving Mountains: A Live Review

Posted by Edson
Sept. 23, 2009, 3:17 p.m.

I don't know how many of you have heard of Moving Mountains. A band from Westchester, NY, they are fresh off a tour with Thursday, about to embark on a ... read more

500+ Reviews

Posted by Michael
May 31, 2009, 11:36 p.m.

I hit the 500 review mark last week with my Narrows review. That's a lot of reviews. Sometimes I get burnt out with all the stuff coming through, especially when ... read more

Braffed!

Posted by Michael
May 6, 2009, 3:41 p.m.

So I just got done watching the season finale of Scrubs. It was Zach Braff's final episode. His character is saying goodbye, but I think they gave it a nice ... read more

Remember Those Browns?

Posted by Michael
Nov. 13, 2008, 11:16 a.m.

Two months ago I had high hopes for the Cleveland Browns. Now I am left with a fairly mediocre season.  We shall see how the remainder plays out. I'm looking ... read more

Intro

Posted by Graham
Sept. 22, 2008, 8:27 a.m.

Might as well has this here too, it's been three years since I wrote it. I think it still holds true. Space for rent. Your ad here. My name is ... read more

Go Browns!

Posted by Michael
Sept. 14, 2008, 3:26 a.m.

I forgot to post this prior to week one, but given the outcome of that game, maybe it was for the best. Anyway, the Browns season is underway and that ... read more

End Of An Era: Life Long Tragedy

Posted by Michael
July 2, 2008, 7:23 a.m.

Over the weekend a band that was very dear to my heart announced their sudden breakup and played their final show. I first became acquainted with Life Long Tragedy over ... read more

The return of the blog

Posted by Cory
April 23, 2008, 12:45 p.m.

I was yelled at again for writing this, and since I am applying for a job at a local newspaper, I don't really want this hanging over my head.  Sorry ... read more

It's been a long time

Posted by Bob
March 16, 2008, 2:56 a.m.

Last night my band played with Souvenir's Young America, City of Ships, and Monolith at Siren Records in Doylestown, PA; it was a fun time all the bands played real ... read more

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

Posted by Michael
Feb. 12, 2008, 9:09 a.m.

If you didn't hear the news, Roy Scheider died this week at the age of 75. Jaws is one of my all-time favorite films. I am extremely sad.  I fully ... read more

I'm deleting my blogs because

Posted by Cory
Feb. 2, 2008, 6:48 a.m.

They could make me look not so good to certain people.  Nobody read them anyways. read more

In Remembrance of Kid Kilowatt

Posted by Bob
Jan. 29, 2008, 11:04 a.m.

So, back when Cave In's Until Your Heart Stops dropped on the hardcore masses several years back, I had the chance of catching the band at Middlesex County Community College. ... read more

Oh Gehenna...how you make me smile

Posted by Bob
Jan. 8, 2008, 11:45 a.m.

I broke out my CD for the Gehenna- The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness and saw something that always made me smile. Allow me ... read more

Issue 2 of my print zine "I'm A Pretender" - available now!

Posted by Matt
Dec. 7, 2007, 2:29 a.m.

Hello. Some of you might remember (or have participated in) my experiment over the summer collecting people's wishes on this page. I got over 160 entries and published them all ... read more

Most Awkward Interview Ever?

Posted by Michael
Nov. 7, 2007, 11:22 a.m.

Imagine being in this kid's place... Interview w/ Henry Rollins read more

Colbert '08

Posted by Michael
Oct. 17, 2007, 11:27 a.m.

Even though it is just a joke, I'd still vote for Stephen Colbert for president before I'd vote for anyone else for running, outside of the longshots that have no ... read more

Dear Atreyu

Posted by Michael
Sept. 4, 2007, 2:32 p.m.

 Dear Atreyu, Please stop. No seriously, please stop...now. - File has been removed. It was up for a month. It was the band's cover of Faith No More's "Epic." - ... read more

Nut Pain And Stereotyping Seattle

Posted by Jason
Aug. 18, 2007, 11:41 p.m.

I woke up today at 5:30am to get my ass to the store to open it for what I figured would be another boring Sunday at work. Work has been ... read more

Tony Wilson R.I.P.

Posted by Peanut
Aug. 10, 2007, 8:23 a.m.

So the man that founded Factory Records and helped Joy Division become as huge as they did through hype died today. Not alot of people repect what Wilson did for ... read more

Today Is For The Living

Posted by Jason
Aug. 2, 2007, 9:56 a.m.

Yesterday during rush hour traffic on 35W the bridge than spans the mighty Mississippi fell. There was no earthquake. There was no terrorist attack. The bridge just buckled and toppled ... read more

Be Afraid Vol.1

Posted by Bob
July 19, 2007, 8:36 a.m.

Part 1: Mission Statement, Introduction, and first terribly nostalgic musing A number of years ago, a few friends of mine, myself, and people who would quickly become my friends used ... read more

Bands I Like: Shook Ones

Posted by Josh F.
July 15, 2007, 12:24 p.m.

Shook Ones, for the uninitiated, are a melodic hardcore band from Seattle, Washington. Their debut LP, Sixteen, had some serious Kid Dynamite aping going on, without a doubt, but it ... read more

Friday The 13th

Posted by Michael
July 13, 2007, 2:19 p.m.

Remember when the idea of Friday the 13th used to be scary? Maybe its because I am a grown adult, but there just does not seem to be any horror ... read more

Scene Point Blank: July Relaunch

Posted by Matt
July 7, 2007, 11:02 p.m.

You have no idea how wonderful it is to be finally typing these words. Not that my work is done: a SPB staffer's work is never done! But seriously: typing ... read more

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