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Sleater-Kinney are currently touring in support of No Cities to Love, stopping in at Minneapolis' First Avenue on Valentine's Day, February 14th.

What a special night, not only was the show complete sold out, but for one night only, making their only appearance on this No Cities to Love tour, were Grrrl Prty presents Tawst. As you know Lizzo is from here and her ex-band and friends Grrrl Prty were still in town... that it shouldn't surprise anyone at this special DJ/dance intro. Their DJ set included a variety of Riot Grrrl anthems, such as The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb", Le Tigre's "Deceptacon", Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl", Gossip's "Standing In The Way Of Control", among others. They played to the audience, who knew all the songs.
 
Lizzo stepped on stage a little after 9pm in seamless transition to her set. With the help of drummer Ryan McMahon and Sophia Eris, she played for about 40 minutes - including a couple of "new song alerts". The new songs, as noted by Lizzo, are much more personal to her, especially when hearing her sing how you can't wash away her brown skin (with the entire First Avenue audience holding up their cellphone's camera light).

That wasn't all, for "Batches & Cookies", a special appearance by Babes in Toyland's drummer Lori Barbero, who flew in from Los Angeles at Babe's reunion show to be in Minneapolis for last night, was on stage to toss out cookies to the crowd.

Just prior to Sleater-Kinney taking the stage, Jade, DJ from The Current, came on stage to thanked us for attending and to remind us that the Current was sponsoring the show.
 
As expected, SK mostly played songs from their latest record, No Cities to Love (Sub Pop). I've seen SK three other times (2000, 2002, and 2005) and they've always played First Avenue. This fact was mentioned by Carrie Brownstein who said, "Perhaps it's true that we never place a place as much as First Ave..." then quickly followed by "Don't quote me on that though!" She could be right, including a cancelled date and last night's date, SK booked First Avenue at least 6 times.

Of all the cities to love, Minneapolis held a special place in SK's hearts. As Brownstein mentioned how proud she was that First Avenue was celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, she also mentioned how she'll missed David Carr (originally from Minnesota) since he recently passed away, right before the band started to play the title track "No Cities to Love" to their album.

With the very minor exception of a guitar difficulty right before "Ironclad", the guitar tech fixed it right away by swapping out for backup guitar... otherwise the band were in tip-top shape. Both Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, who traded lead vocals, sounded really good. For this tour, the band also featured touring guitarist Katie Harkin, who also did some additional percussions when needed.

The encore started with Tucker coming on stage to announce that Planned Parenthood were at all their shows. They started on their epic five-song encore with "Gimme Love" featuring a rare guitar-less Tucker... touring guitarist Harkin took over the bass.

I also wanted to mention that this wasn't just a SK reunion, but a reunion for all their fans. Personally speaking, I saw old friends I have not seen in nine years and it was all because SK came back to the music scene... so from the bottom of my heart, thank you Sleater-Kinney.

Sleater-Kinney's No Cities to Love album is out now on Sub Pop.

Sleater-Kinney Setlist
Price Tag
Oh!
Fangless
Start Together
What's Mine Is Yours
Ironclad
No Anthems
Get Up
Youth Decay
No Cities to Love
A New Wave
One Beat
Surface Envy
Words and Guitar
Bury Our Friends
Good Things
Entertain
Jumpers

-- Encore --
Gimme Love
Little Babies
Call the Doctor
Modern Girl
One More Hour

Lizzo Setlist
W.E.R.K., Pt. II
Paris
Hot Dish
Pop a Cherry (new song)
Bus Passes and Happy Meals
Batches & Cookies
Faded
Brown Skin (new song)

Tour Dates
02/15/15 Milwaukee, WI Riverside Theatre
02/17/15 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre
02/22/15 Boston, MA House Of Blues Boston
02/24/15 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
02/25/15 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
02/26/15 New York, NY Terminal 5
02/27/15 New York, NY Terminal 5
02/28/15 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
03/01/15 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE
03/02/15 Toronto, ON Sound Academy
Sleater-Kinney Setlist Price Tag Oh! Fangless Start Together What's Mine Is Yours Ironclad No Anthems Get Up Youth Decay No Cities to Love A New Wave One Beat Surface Envy Words and Guitar Bury Our Friends Good Things Entertain Jumpers -- Encore -- Gimme Love Little Babies Call the Doctor...
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SOKO
s-o-k-o.com

French multi-instrumentalist Soko recently announced the title and album artwork to her second album My Dreams Dictate My Reality. The record will be out March 3rd, 2015, via Soko's own record label Babycat Records through Because Music.

Fans of Soko should take note that if you pre-ordered the album via Pledge Music, you can additionally get unique personalized Polaroids, a makeover from Soko and her stylist, and even spend a day with her on a vintage shopping trip. I am assuming you will have to fly over to France? Le sigh.

Can't wait to hear the new album? Check out the pulsing pounding lead single "Who Wears the Pants??" over at youtube.com. I normally rarely promote YouTube links (sorry, I'm not a fan of videos), but I had to share the link because the song is very good.

The song was inspired by a conversation between Soko and her friend about sexuality. The song is defined as "her first ever protest song."

Anyway, with SXSW 2015 just around the corner, let's hope that Soko will come back to the US for a quick tour in support of the new album.

ROBIN BACIOR
robinbacior.com

Robin Bacior's Water Dreams LP album will be released tomorrow, January 13th (or today since we write these things in the past...) Lara actually tried to see her live at CMJ 2011, but due to over capacity of the venue, she ended up missing the "waltz-lovin’ Robin Bacior."

The College Music Journal people is still supportive of Bacior, as you can stream the entire album via cmj.com.

The Portland-based singer will be doing a West Coast tour with Grand Lake Islands:

1.21.15 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
1.22.15 – Ashland, OR @ Mix Sweet Shop*
1.23.15 – Sacramento, CA @ Naked Lounge*
1.25.15 – San Francisco, CA @ Viracocha*
1.29.15 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater*
1.31.15 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Lost Leaf*
2.02.15 – Los Angeles, CA @ School Night
2.06.15 – Berkeley, CA @ house show*
2.07.15 – Chico, CA @ house show*

*w/Grand Lake Islands

LAURA GROVES
facebook.com/lauragrovesmusic

The first time I saw Laura Groves' second solo EP Committed Language, I am reminded of Suzanne Vega's Days of Open Hand (which featured her single "Book of Dreams"). Don't ask me why I thought of it, I guess maybe it is just the layout and the various random objects.

If you didn't know, Groves used to perform as Blue Roses (who released a self-titled debut album on XL Recordings in 2009), but I guess since 2013's Thinking about Thinking, Groves has been releasing music under her own name.

Committed Language is coming out February 17, 2015, via DEEK Recordings. The first track "Dream Story" from Committed Language is available for streaming now via Fader.



Groves plays The Lexington in London this Wednesday, January 14, alongside her band - Fabiana Palladino on backup vocals and drums, Joe Newman on guitar, and Ben Reed on bass. I believe the show is part of "The Line of Best Fit" series. You can read more about it here.

Also, on February 11th, Groves will be opening up for this little band called Elbow at the Eventim Apollo in London. Details here.

THE DREAMING
thedreamingband.com

Who could forget Stabbing Westward? The industrial rock band formed in 1989 by Christopher Hall (lead singer) and Walter Flakus (keyboards, programming). The band, at the height of their popularity, toured with Depeche Mode, Sex Pistols, Kiss, Front 242, Placebo, the Cult, Killing Joke, etc., but like all good things, they broke up in 2002.

Instead of reforming as their former bands, as we've seen in the past few years with other 90s acts, the two key figures, Hall and Flakus, have decided to go in a new direction as a new band The Dreaming (along with the one-time Stabbing Westward drummer Johnny Haro, Deadsy's guitarist Carlton Bost and Static X's bassist Brent Ashley).

The Dreaming's upcoming new album Rise Again will be out in February 2015 on Metropolis Records ... and the record is said to be influenced by that early Stabbing Westward sound that fans have been asking for.

The preceding single is called "Alone" and you can hear a remix of the song for a limit time on soundcloud.com/cgibbens-1.

Tour dates:

Feb 10 - Iowa State University - Ames, IA
Feb 12 - 3rd & Lindsley - Nashville, TN
Feb 14 - Fitzgerald’s Upstairs - Houston, TX
Feb 15 - Emo’s - Austin, TX
Feb 18 - House of Blues - New Orleans, LA
Feb 20 - The Social - Orlando, FL
Feb 21 - Coastline Festival - St Petersburg, FL
Feb 22 - Coastline Festival - Pompano Beach, FL
Feb 25 - Visulite Theatre - Charlotte, NC
Feb 26 - 930 Club - Washington, DC
Feb 28 - Theatre of the Living Arts - Phila, PA
Mar 01 - Paradise Rock Club - Boston, MA
Mar 03 - Corona Theatre - Montreal, Canada
Mar 05 - Mod Club - Toronto, Canada
Mar 06 - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH
Mar 07 - Shelter - Detroit, MI
Mar 11 - Old National Center - Indianapolis, IN
Mar 12 - Metro - Chicago, IL
Mar 17 - Gothic Theatre - Englewood, CO
Mar 18 - The Complex - Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 20 - Wonder Ballroom - Portland, OR
Mar 21 - Showbox at the Market - Seattle, WA
Mar 22 - The Rio Theatre - Vancouver, Canada
Mar 25 - The Regency Ballroom - San Francisco, CA
Mar 27 - The Fonda Theatre - Los Angeles, CA
Mar 28 - House of Blues - Anaheim, CA
Mar 29 - House of Blues - San Diego, CA



BRIEFLY


SHELTER POINT
facebook.com

Shelter Point's Weird Dreamers will be out February 2nd.

Look for more music from this Nottingham based duo (Robin Hearn and Liam Arnold) this new year, 2015.


KOUDLAM
koudlam.com

French composer Koudlam's new album Benidorm Dream is coming out 26th January on Sony Music.

I believe the album is out digitally now... at least in the USA.


GINLA
ginlamusic.com

Toronto/Brooklyn-based duo ginla (Joe Manzoli and Jon Nellen) released their debut Dreaming in Circles last November.

You can pick up the album on cassette tape if you see them this V-Day (February 14th) at Polish Combatants Association Hall in Toronto.


DREAM MCLEAN
dreammclean.com

They didn't send me any information about Dream Mclean, except that he is playing somewhere on earth this Thursday (they didn't even send me the address!) Update: he's playing at Queen of Hoxton Shoreditch in London.

Dream Mclean's Greyscale album is out now.

http://weheartmusic.typepad.com/blog/2015/01/dreamers.html
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TOAD THE WET SPROCKET
toadthewetsprocket.com

Monty Python are due to reunite shortly for a series of shows in London, and California four-piece Toad the Wet Sprocket (who are named after a band in a Python skit) are back on the road, in support of their first album of new material in over a decade… is it a written-in-the-stars kind of coincidence?

Actually, it’s New Constellation, released on the band’s own, Abe’s Records, that features current single, “New Moment”. The band is on the road all summer with fellow Californians Counting Crows in what will be a feel good chance to look backward as well as ahead, with the soundtracks of both bands as your guide.

Toad the Wet Sprocket Tour Dates
07/18/14 Detroit, MI MotorCity Casino Hotel
07/20/14 Cincinnati, OH Horseshoe Cincinnati
07/21/14 Grand Rapids, MI Frederik Meijer Gardens
07/23/14 Milwaukee, WI Riverside Theatre
07/24/14 Bayfield, WI Big Top Chautauqua
07/25/14 Saint Paul, MN Myth
07/26/14 Council Bluffs, IA Harrah's Council Bluffs
07/28/14 San Antonio, TX The Aztec Theater
07/29/14 Houston, TX Bayou Music Center
07/30/14 Austin, TX Austin City Limits Live
08/01/14 Dallas, TX House Of Blues
08/02/14 Durant, OK Choctaw Casino Resort
08/04/14 Socorro, TX Socorro Entertainment Center
08/05/14 Taos, NM KTAOS Solar Center
08/06/14 Tucson, AZ Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheatre
08/07/14 Phoenix, AZ Comerica Theatre
08/09/14 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
08/10/14 Las Vegas, NV Mandalay Bay Beach
08/12/14 Redmond, WA King County's Marymoor Park
08/13/14 Portland, OR Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
08/15/14 Berkeley, CA Greek Theatre
08/16/14 Big Bear Lake, CA The Cave
08/17/14 Los Angeles, CA Greek Theatre
08/29/14 Norwalk, CT Norwalk Concert Hall
11/15/14 San Juan Capistrano, CA Coach House Concert
11/22/14 Denver, CO Ogden Theatre


TOADIES
thetoadies.com

Still rubberneckin’… After a successful two legs to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their defining album, Rubberneck; Fort Worth, TX band Toadies has announced a third leg, along with the special 7th annual Dia De Los Toadies Festival, happening on Sept. 12 and 13 in the band’s hometown.

Rubberneck was reissued in April by Kurtland Records, and has garnered a new generation of fans, as well as those that remember the band’s beginnings in the 1990’s. Look for the album to be played in its entirety with the two-day festival showcasing their acoustic set the first night, and full-on electric night, on the second night.

Toadies Tour Dates:
07/24/14 Denton, TX - Rockin Rodeo
07/25/14 Abilene, TX - Lucky Mule
07/26/14 Stephenville, TX - City Limits
07/27/14 Amarillo, TX - Midnight Rodeo
07/29/14 Albuquerque, NM - Sister Bar
07/30/14 Colorado Springs, CO - Black Sheep
07/31/14 Kansas City, MO - Knuckleheads
08/01/14 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room
08/02/14 Fayetteville, AR - George's Majestic
08/08/14 Charlotte, NC - Amos Southend
08/09/14 Charleston, SC - Music Farm
08/10/14 Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
08/13/14 Birmingham, AL - Iron City
08/14/14 Baton Rouge, LA - Varsity Theater
08/15/14 Biloxi, MS - Kress Live
08/16/14 Little Rock, AR - Juanita's Café and Bar
08/17/14 Robinsonville , MS - Horseshoe Tunica
09/12/14 Fort Worth, TX- Dia De Los Toadies Festival
09/13/14 Fort Worth, TX- Dia De Los Toadies Festival


FROG EYES
facebook.com/FrogEyesOfficial

This is the kind of comeback we love hearing about—

Victoria, BC band Frog Eyes is due to hit the road again, only a few months after lead vocalist Carey Mercer was diagnosed with throat cancer. After some treatments, Mercer was given a clean bill of health and okayed to tour in support of Carey’s Cold Spring (Paper Bag Records).

Mercer’s intense vocals highlight the band’s songs, which also features Mercer’s wife, Melanie Campbell on drums, though she did not play on the recent album. Expect what could be an emotional evening, given Mercer’s circumstances and getting to play live, seems like the ideal prescription.

Frog Eyes Tour Dates:
8/14/14 Victoria, BC. Centennial Square
8/18/14 Detroit, MI. The Pike Room*
8/19/14 Toronto, ON. The Drake*
8/20/14 Ottawa, ON. Mavericks*
8/21/14 Montreal, QC. II Motore*
8/22/14 Boston, MA. Cafe 939*
8/23/14 New York, NY. Rough Trade*
8/25/14 Washington, DC. DC9*
8/26/14 Columbus, OH. Rumba Cafe*
8/27/14 Chicago, IL. Schubas*

* = w/ PS I Love You
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Morrissey's tenth studio album World Peace Is None of Your Business comes out tomorrow via Harvest Records.

For the uninitiated, Morrissey started his career in music as the singer/lyricist of The Smiths. After the band broke up in 1987, Morrissey went on to a successful solo career with his debut Viva Hate, scoring hits like "Everyday Is Like Sunday" and "Suedehead."

I've been following Morrissey's career for a long time, and to me, the biggest shift in his music direction was during his Kill Uncle tour in 1991, where he met Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer, as his live band. These two accomplished musicians would serve as Morrissey's writing collaborators on Your Arsenal and onward. I've always been a little more fond of Whyte's music, but unfortunately he took ill and had not been in the Morrissey camp since 2004 (although a few of his old songs were used for 2009's Years of Refusal).

With World Peace Is None of Your Business, I believe the music writing duties were split between Boz Boorer and Whyte's replacement Jesse Tobias. Musically, there's definitely something more Spanish-influence, but that's not at all surprising since I noted that Boorer's last album Some of the Parts was "diverse in its sound,"[1] going beyond his rockabilly-style of music.

At the heart of any Morrissey album is, of course, the lyrics. This has some of Morrissey's best lines yet, as he's demonstrated with various spoken word video for the record.

Overall, World Peace Is None of Your Business's theme is about Morrissey's views on our 'lonely planet' ("World Peace is None of Your Business", "Istanbul", "Earth is the Loneliest Planet of All"). Themes that we've previously seen with other Morrissey's songs, but it's never so blatant. If anything, Morrissey is a man who stands behind his beliefs.

Casual, new fans will be drawn in by "Kiss Me a Lot". Lyrically not one of Morrissey's best (literally the lyrics are "kiss me all over my face, kiss me a lot/kiss me all over the place, kiss me a lot" repeated over and over), but it's catchy and as Morrissey puts it, "a song I can't stand and it's stuck in my head" (from "Oboe Concerto").

Dedicated fans will absolutely love "Staircase at the University," as it's the return of the morbid Morrissey that we love. The song about a student who is struggling with grades and commit suicide at the staircase at the University... set to a danceable tune!

World Peace Is None of Your Business is out tomorrow on Harvest Records. If you're a Morrissey fan, you've already found it and you already love it.
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Last Saturday night Zoso, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, rocked out Mill City Nights. Not only does the band attempt to capture Zeppelin’s sound, but each member has embodied their characters down to the finest of details with Matt Jernigan playing Robert Plant, John McDaniel as Jimmy Page, Adam Sandling as John Paul Jones, and Greg Thompson as John Bonham.

For those of you that don’t know, Zoso is a symbol picked out by Page for their 4th, untitled album. In that album, each member picked out a symbol to represent themselves. Thus making Zoso apropos for a tribute band that tries to not only symbolize Led Zeppelin, but also the Rock ‘n Roll era which they came from.

Before attending their concert, I had no idea how big the “tribute band” business was. I met a couple of people that make it a priority to attend at least one Led Zeppelin tribute band concert a week! They could rattle off all the different bands and gave critiques of which was better in sound, appearance, and overall showmanship. Unfortunately, these “groupies” weren’t very coherent as they seemed to have pregamed the event very well.

Zoso opened up with “Rock and Roll” and the crowd went wild. Greg Thompson played John Bonham perfectly with that drum intro and Matt Jernigan took on Robert Plant with great confidence. They all had the clothes, hair, and demeanor of their alter egos.

They got loud with “Communication Breakdown,” mellowed out with “That’s The Way,” and showed off some of their individual skills with “The Song Remains the Same.” In between “The Song Remains the Same” and “Stairway To Heaven,” Adam Sandling wailed on the drums for a good 7 minutes. I couldn’t believe he had my attention for the whole solo. Sandling went from the traditional Rock ‘n Roll drums to bongos then smashed the massive gong behind him for an exclamation point.

After he was done the rest of the band members came back on stage. John McDaniel, along with the double guitar he started playing during “The Song Remains the Same,” belted out some more sweet riffs a la Jimmy Page.

It was a great concert overall. Other than a little reverb coming above stage left, Mill City Nights worked as a decent venue. Jernigan (Plant) did a great job in connecting with the crowd by holding short conversations with them in between songs and McDaniel (Page) raised the crowd’s volume with his great technique and ability to improvise.

If you’re looking to relive the ‘70s or catch a glimpse of a time you were too young to live, go to a Zoso concert. They won’t let you down.

Setlist
Rock and Roll
Good Times Bad Times
Communication Breakdown
Heartbreaker
Immigrant Song
Ramble On
Black Dog
Since I’ve Been Loving You
That’s The Way
The Song Remains the Same
Stairway To Heaven

-- Encore --
Kashmir

Tour Dates
07/04 Rockin' On The River Cuyahoga, OH
07/05 River Rock at the Amp Warren, OH
07/10 The Pink Garter Jackson, WY
07/11 Whiskey Jacques Ketchum, ID
07/12 Lo-Fi Cafe Salt Lake City, UT
07/13 Belly Up Aspen, CO
07/17 Animas City Theatre Durango, CO
07/18 Bluebird Theater Denver, CO
07/19 Smoke on the Water Des Moines, IA
07/24 Kress Live Biloxi, MS
07/25 Varsity Theatre Baton Rouge, LA
07/26 Cypress Bayou Casino Charenton, LA
07/31 Highline Ballroom New York, NY
08/01 Stadium Theatre Woonsocket, RI
08/07 The Belmont Austin, TX
08/08 House of Blues Dallas, TX
08/09 House of Blues Houston, TX
08/14 Star Theater Portland, OR
08/15 Nectar Lounge Seattle, WA
08/16 Bing Crosby Theater Spokane, WA
08/21 The Orange Peel Asheville, NC
08/22 The Windjammer Isle of Palms, SC
08/23 Greenfield Lake Wilmington, NC
08/27 Rockin on the River Troy, NY
08/29 Lock 3 Park Akron, OH
09/06 State Theatre Falls Church, VA
09/11 Ram's Head On Stage Annapolis, MD
09/12 Heritage Amphitheater Chesterfield, VA
09/19 St. Andrews Hall Detroit, MI
09/20 Newport Music Hall Columbus, OH
09/26 Oktoberbest at Foster Park Kokomo, IN
09/27 Thompson House Newport, KY
10/25 Larose Civic Center Larose, LA
11/14 The Downtown Cabaret Bridgeport, CT
11/21 Rhythm & Brews Chattannooga, TN
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A lot has changed in the world of Tegan and Sara Quin since they last played a headlining show in Chicago back in March, 2010.  At that time they were an indie band with a loyal cult following touring in support of the Chris Walla-produced Sainthood.  After Sainthood’s lackluster sales and tepid critical reception, it became apparent that the Quins were in danger of falling into a musical rut.  The way out, they realized, was through exploiting the pop sensibilities which were vividly apparent on Sainthood’s “Alligator”.  Working closely with Warner Bros. inventive marketing department, the Quins went back to the studio with pop producer Greg Kurstin and opened 2013 with the release of the polished radio-friendly Heartthrob and its either unbelievably catchy or unbelievably annoying first single “Closer” (I fall in the latter category).  With Warner determined to sell the girls as hip, lesbian older sisters to Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, Tegan and Sara were soon everywhere: performing on Ellen, having a version of “Closer” performed on Glee, appearing onstage with Taylor Swift, even recording an Oreo commercial.  They spent most of 2013 as a support act for The Killers and fun. and will end 2014 with a support slot on Katy Perry’s Prismatic tour.   They nearly swept the Canadian Juno Awards this year, winning the pop album, single, and group of the year awards.  By all accounts, it’s a triumphant time for the Quins.

Tegan
However, not everyone has been happy with this new direction.  In embracing the mainstream and courting a new audience, Tegan and Sara have risked alienating the core group of fans that sustained them over the course of the previous decade.  And sure enough a forum for “Recovering Tegan and Sara Fans” who have been heartbroken by what they see as a betrayal of the indie spirit has popped up on a lesbian chat board.    As someone who was initially dismayed by the pop sound of Heartthrob and finds the concept of my beloved Quins touring with the likes of Katy Perry disappointing, I get it.  After my dislike of “Closer,” I was braced to hate Heartthrob too.  However, my girlfriend knocked some sense into me when I expressed dismay about the new pop direction: “Yes, because they were so avant-garde before.”  Sure enough, a few listens to Heartthrob  and I realized that whether the backing track has a synth or an acoustic guitar, Tegan and Sara have always been about writing catchy pop songs.  Only now they’re getting a lot more radio play from them.

Sara
So as Tegan and Sara rode into Chicago for two headlining nights at The Vic I was curious to see how this dichotomy between the old-school T&S fans and the newer radio listeners would play out.  During the course of both shows, it was clear that the Quins were trying to please both their old and new fanbase, drawing songs equally from Heartthrob and their earlier releases.  In fact, they made sure to emphasize they were playing a string of “oldies” in the middle of the set for their core fanbase.  Several comments throughout the shows expressed appreciation for their fans regardless of whether “you just heard us recently or if you’ve been listening to us since If It Was You [2002]”.   In other words, Tegan and Sara know.  They know their new direction worries their old fans.  They know they’ve lost some fans over it.  And they want you to know that they know.  Change is hard, but really, this isn’t Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival.  And as I viewed the audience reaction, I realized that the fans I’d pre-judged as ‘old skool’ were jumping around to ‘Closer’ and the fans I’d pre-judged as newbies were belting out the chorus to ‘Back in Your Head’ – and it was delightful to see such a unified, enthusiastic response.

“Enthusiastic” is almost an understatement.  My girlfriend remarked that she had never seen a show where the audience all sang along loudly with every word of every song.  In fact, during the crowd favorite ‘Call It Off’ (from 2007’s The Con), Tegan stood back and let the crowd handle the first verse without her help, a broad smile on her face.  Moments like this abounded, as the fans shouted along with “Now I’m All Messed Up” (“Go!  Go!!  Go if you want, I can stop you!!!”),  “The Con”  (“Encircle me, I need to be taken down!”), “Back in Your Head” (you know the chorus) or , perhaps most touchingly, ‘Shock To Your System’:  “What you are is lonely!”  I felt that catharsis that comes from communal moments like this:  the feeling that you’re sharing a very special moment with a group of strangers.  The only other act I’ve seen that I can compare to this level of audience connection is Morrissey.  The enthusiasm was so contagious that I even caught myself singing along and dancing to the hated “Closer”.  Damn those catchy Quins!

Sara on the keyboard
The strength of the songs is only one key to the appeal Tegan and Sara; their open, honest, and engaging personalities are perhaps an even bigger factor.  Tegan and Sara have long been known for their amusing onstage banters – and a brief search through You Tube will reveal a slew of adorable moments recorded by fans over the years.  Unfortunately, these two shows were light on banter (perhaps due to the 10:50 p.m. venue curfew), but during the first show Sara managed to fit in an amusing anecdote about an appearance during the So Jealous era (2004) where people were blowing up condoms and tossing them her way.  As a lesbian, Sara said, it was “like my first sexual experience” before she suggested to us that if we want to blow-up condoms and bat them at her, we should put a $20 bill in the condom first, because “I only appreciate condom balloons if there’s something in it for me, besides semen”.     Other endearingly human moments came when Sara flubbed a lyric and laughed it off and when Tegan interrupted the beginning of “Where Does the Good Go?” to confirm with Sara that she was playing the right chords.   Sara also confessed that listening to the amazing voice of Angelica Allen (of opener My Midnight Heart*) makes them consider whether they should really be vocalists.   These moments of frailty just make us love them all the more.

Tegan
Of course, there are minor complaints I can make about the setlist or the band member contributions, or even the less-than-compelling cover of Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open The Door” that capped the appearances, but to complain about such things seems ridiculously petty when considering the celebratory nature of the shows.  Sara talked about how during their early supporting gigs, they would often go back to their motel room and cry and fight when shows didn’t go well.  She had started applying for college, thinking that Tegan was a ridiculous dreamer for thinking they had a future in the music industry.   The fact that it is 2014 and the two girls from Calgary continue to produce great pop songs and perform them in front of an enthusiastic crowd that sings along with their every word – and that’s something worth cheering about!

* And speaking of the openers, The Courtneys (whose drummer, Jen Payne, is Tegan and Sara’s cousin) started the shows with their fun garage punk-pop to an enthusiastic reception, before Angelica Allen of My Midnight Heart held us all in-thrall with her astounding stage presence and voice, though the rest of the band and the songs themselves don’t live up to her potential.  (“The rhythm section should enjoy the two weeks they have left with her,” said my girlfriend, implying that Angelica will be enjoying the fruits of a major label solo career soon.)
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GOLD FIELDS
goldfieldsmusic.com

It's been a while since we talked about Australia's Gold Fields. For a brief span of time in late 2012 to 2013, we caught the band three times, as they tour back and forth for their debut album Black Sun.

Anyway, taking a break from their constant world tour, they managed to release a new single called "Hold Me" last October 2014.

Hear the original song:



We're pretty excited about new music from Gold Fields... and if you can't get enough of the new single, they've compiled five remixes of the song and released them all this week (January 20th, 2015) called, what else?, Hold Me Remixes.

Track listing:

1 Hold Me (Pat Lok) 5:20
2 Hold Me (Klp Remix) 5:16
3 Hold Me (Tyler Touch Remix) 4:19
4 Hold Me (Yes You Remix) 3:44
5 Hold Me (Kamandi Remix) 3:15





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of Montreal
The last time we saw this inventive live band, I mentioned that of Montreal will be releasing Aureate Gloom (Polyvinyl Records). Now that it's getting a little closer to its release date (March 3, 2015), ...
Deerhoof
I caught Deerhoof in 2012 and noted how fun it was to see the band in person. I also wrote that it was unbelievable how long the band have been around (now in their 20th year as a band). ...

YONATAN GAT
yonatangat.bandcamp.com

Guitarist virtuoso Yonatan Gat (Monotonix) recently shared "Goldrush", the first single from his new album, Director, out March 3rd on Joyful Noise Recordings. You can listen to the song on Soundcloud.

You can find Yonatan Gat on tour now, some shows with our favorite of Monteal and Deerhoof.

Tour dates:

01/22 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
01/23 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
01/24 Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor
01/25 Charleston, SC @ Tin Roof
01/26 Tampa, FL @ World Brewery
01/27 Mobile, AL @ Soul Kitchen
01/28 New Orleans, LA @ Siberia
01/29 Houston, TX @ Walter's
01/30 Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves
01/31 Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas
02/01 Kansas City, KS @ Riot Room
02/02 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
02/03 Madison, WI @ Frequency
02/04 Milwaukee, WI @ Cocoon Room
02/06 Indianapolis, IN @ Joyful Noise
02/07 Cleveland, OH @ Happy Dog
03/03 Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool
03/04 Charlottesville @ Tea Bazaar
03/05 Athens @ 40 Watt *
03/06 Carrboro (OM) @ Cat's Cradle *
03/07 DC (OM) @ Club 9:30 *
03/08 Philadelphia @ Union Transfer *
03/09 New Haven @ Toad's * ^
03/10 Boston @ Paradise * ^
03/11 New York @ Webster Hall *
03/14 Asheville, NC @ Mothlight
03/15 Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
03/19-03/22 Austin, TX @ SXSW
03/23 Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room
03/24 Los Angeles, CA @ The Smell
03/25 San Diego, CA @ Hideout
03/26 Long Beach, CA @ Alex's Bar
03/27 Visalia, CA @ Cellar Door
03/28 Oakland, CA @ Night Light

* = w/ Of Montreal
^ = w/ Deerhoof




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MS MR
NYC duo MS MR came to Minneapolis “for the first time as a band and as people” ...and ‘rocked it like a ‘Hurricane’. ‘Hurricane’, of course, refers to their infectious single of the same name ...

NEON GOLD / POP SHOP
neongoldrecords.com

We've previously written about many of Neon Gold Records' bands, including Passion Pit, Ellie Goulding, Marina & The Diamonds, Gotye, The Naked & Famous, HAIM, Wet, Haerts, Cathedrals, Charli XCX, Icona Pop, etc. The New York City-based record label was founded in 2008 by Derek Davies and Lizzy Plapinger (of MS MR fame).

Below are some of their upcoming shows, usually showcasing some new and upcoming artists:

Events:

02/25 - Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory*

02/26 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo*

02/27 - New York, CA @ Le Poisson Rouge
- Seinabo Sey, Gavin James

02/27 - San Francisco, CA @ The Independent*

02/28 - San Francisco, CA @ The Independent*

03/16-03/22 - Austin, TX @ SXSW (details tba)

* Cathedrals

The San Francisco Cathedrals shows are sold out. Also note, due to a vocal chord injury, Alex Winston had to cancel her sold out appearance at The Westway on January 22nd. The show will continue with Stockholm's Tove Styrke and Los Angeles' Chelsea Lankes.



BRIEFLY


GOLDEN COAST
wearegoldencoast.com

I would imagine Los Angeles' Golden Coast hanging out with Los Angeles' Best Coast in their off time? Golden Coast latest single is called "Futurist" and they were pretty happy to recently play at the Echo for Neon Gold Records' Popshop West (see other event listing earlier in this article).

They reported that "Futurist" was currently #6 on Hype Machine with 40K streams in two day.


EQUALS
facebook.com/equals

East London based Equals (not to be confused with 60s/70s group The Equals or Texas' Equals) has a new song called "Black on Gold", coming out February 12th, on Senseless Records.

Look for the duo (James Low and Ade Omotayo) to play live on February 5th at Sublive @ Proud Camden with Tara Priya and All The People.


JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON
johannjohannsson.com

Congratulations to Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson who recently won a Golden Globe Award for his soundtrack work on The Theory of Everything. The work is also nominated for an Academy Award (Oscar), BAFTA Award, and Critics’ Choice Movie Award.

The Theory of Everything Soundtrack is out now on Back Lot Music.


MICHELLE CHAMUEL
michellechamuel.com

Singer of Ella Riot and runner-up on the fourth season of NBC's The Voice, Michelle Chamuel will be debuting her album Face the Fire on February 10th via The End Records/ADA.

As another preview to the record, Chamuel recently unveiled "Golden" on Justjared.com.


ROMERO
romeroisloud.com

Wisconsin-based rock group Romero (not to be confused with Romeo) just released their new single "Gold For The Hunt".

The song is available for free on Bandcamp.


HOLLOW SUNSHINE
facebook.com/hollowsunshine

Seattle's Hollow Sunshine just announced an early Spring release on vinyl and digital formats for Bring Gold, the follow-up to the outfit's 2013 debut LP, Held Above (Robotic Empire).

Bring Gold will be out April 2015 on Iron Pier.
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Paul McCartney just showed us all up.

While most 72 year olds are contemplating a home in Boca Raton or counting the minutes until the early-bird dinner specials start, Sir Paul had the day named after him by the state’s governor and played 39 songs in 2 hours 45 min., at a very sold-out Target Field on a clear Saturday night in Minneapolis.

The evening started less-than-positively, with skies threatening more rain (which thankfully passed) and obscenely slow and long lines at every gate into the venue, thanks in part to Major League Baseball’s requirement that all their parks be equipped with metal detectors.  Staff and McCartney’s people no doubt were aware of the situation and thankfully didn’t begin the show until just after 8:45, 45 min. after the tickets’ start time.

Paul and his solid veteran band that has backed him for almost fifteen years (Rusty Anderson – Guitar, Brian Ray Bass, Guitar, Abe Laboriel, Jr. - Drums, Percussion, and Paul "Wix" Wickens Keyboards, Percussion, Guitar, Accordion who has been with him since 1989) rather nonchalantly took to the massive stage, adorned with LED background screen and right and left vertical video boards, for his first area show since the Xcel Center in 2005.

The Beatles’ ‘Eight Days a Week’ had people up and moving from the first chord, with McCartney center stage in a bright blue suit (w/suspendered pants), and white shirt. From a bit of the old to some of the new, as in ‘Save Us’, the opening number from Paul’s latest record, New (Hear Music), then to more Beatles and ‘All My Loving’.

Though the setlist seemed a little overall familiar and Paul didn’t move about much or provide a lot of stage banter (i.e. taking a minute to “drink it all in” and name-checking “Minnesota” and “Minneapolis” a couple times, was it), it didn’t ever seem to matter- this was a living legend playing songs from his last fifty years, that almost everyone knows by heart.  Fingers were crossed for McCartney’s version of MN native’s Eddie Cochran’s ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ with a local shout-out, but it didn’t happen, though he did play the Carl Perkins classic ‘Matchbox’ earlier in soundcheck.

The 1973 classic ‘Let Me Roll It’ from Band on the Run was somewhat surprisingly punctuated by an ending instrumental of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’, the only time McCartney and band really roared on guitar and 1982’s ‘Here Today’ was touchingly prefaced by Sir Paul telling the crowd that the lyrics were a conversation that he and John Lennon, never got to have.

Songs, ‘New’ and the romping ‘Queenie Eye’ from the recent album fit in well with the older tracks, though the multi-generational crowd naturally responded strongest to The Beatles classics the most.  People had brought entire families to the show and could be seen swaying in unison to songs half a century old, with cellphones lighting up the night sky for some of the later ballads.

Though he’s done this version in prior tours, it was still endearing to see McCartney professing George Harrison’s love of the ukulele before picking up the instrument and launching into his own luau version of ‘Something’.  ‘Band on the Run’ remains a sprawling three-songs-in-one epic, ‘Live and Let Die’ nearly blinded with the song’s choral fireworks and pyro shots, and classics ‘Let it Be’ and ‘Hey Jude’ were sing-a-longs to end the main set, the way everyone wanted them to perfectly be.

The first encore, over two hours in, was a quick combination of ‘Day Tripper’, Wings’ ‘Hi Hi Hi’, and classic ‘Get Back’, before non-stop applause goaded McCartney and band to err, get back for a second encore, starting with a gentle ‘Yesterday’ that found McCartney solo and acoustic, on a raised platform.

The still-scathing ‘Helter Skelter’ followed, with the Abbey Road-ending ‘Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End’ being the ideal way to send all 40,000+ people back into the streets with smiles on their faces, amidst a barrage of post-show fireworks.  There was no “Maybe” – we were all “Amazed”.

Paul McCartney Setlist
Eight Days a Week
Save Us
All My Loving
Listen to What the Man Said
Let Me Roll It
(w/Foxy Lady guitar instrumental)
Paperback Writer
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
The Long and Winding Road
Maybe I'm Amazed
I've Just Seen a Face
We Can Work It Out
Another Day
And I Love Her
Blackbird
Here Today
New
Queenie Eye
Lady Madonna
All Together Now
Lovely Rita
Everybody Out There
Eleanor Rigby
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite
Something
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude

-- Encore 1 --
Day Tripper
Hi, Hi, Hi
Get Back

-- Encore 2 --
Yesterday
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End

Soundcheck Setlist
Minneapolis Jam
Matchbox
Drive My Car
Celebration
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five > Band on the Run
I've Just Seen a Face
On My Way To Work
Ram On
San Francisco Bay Blues
Bluebird
Queenie Eye
Lady Madonna
Paul McCartney Setlist Eight Days a Week Save Us All My Loving Listen to What the Man Said Let Me Roll It (w/Foxy Lady guitar instrumental) Paperback Writer My Valentine Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five The Long and Winding Road Maybe I'm Amazed I've Just Seen a Face We Can Work...
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I'll admit it, I was pretty excited to hear that Weezer will be releasing Everything Will Be Alright In The End this September 30th via Republic Records. I don't even know why, it's not like I've been closely following the band since that last Green or Red or Black album? I guess I was just tired of them trying to duplicate the success of that self-titled debut album (otherwise known as 'the Blue album'). I want to see them try and duplicate Pinkerton, which, I personally think is their greatest album. Then I realized, it is because we haven't got new Weezer music since 2000's Hurley.

Everything Will Be Alright In The End is produced by Ric Ocasek, who previously helmed production on the band's first and third records ('The Blue Album' and 'The Green Album'), so, again, it'll be a return to that classic Weezer sound.... so, yes, trying to duplicate that Blue album.

Weezer's 2014 tour dates:

07/24/14 London, ON @ Rock The Park 2014
07/25/14 Belleville, ON @ Empire Rockfest
07/26/14 Les Grandes Fetes du St-Laurent
08/01/14 Las Vegas, CA @ The Cosmopolitan
08/02/14 Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Summer
08/09/14 Bethlehem, PA @ Musikfest PNC Plaza
08/13/14 Southaven, MS @ Snowden Grove
08/14/14 @ L'Auberge Casino Resort
08/31/14 Los Angeles, CA @ Made In America
09/06/14 The End presents Weenie Roast '14
09/12/14 Paso Robles, CA @ Vino Robles
09/13/14 Sacramento, CA @ Aftershock Festival
09/14/14 Chicago, IL @ Riot Fest
09/19/14 Denver, CO @ Riot Fest
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I admit it- I was of those who had a lot of doubts.

Taste of Minnesota was a venerable local 4th of July weekend tradition locally for many years—first held at the Capitol, it then moved to Harriet Island in St. Paul, before an ownership change and rising admission fees scuttled the event after 2010.  Late last year, It was announced that the widow of the original organizer was bringing the Festival back, but when recent rains overflowed the Mississippi and submerged Harriet Island and its stages, prospects again looked bleak.

A last-minute location change was announced, and with less than a week’s notice, the festival moved west, to the Carver County Fairgrounds in Waconia.  The Hard Rock lineup was saved for Day Three, headlined by up-and-comers Halestorm and Cinderella’s Tom Keifer, and from all accounts, was a well-attended success.

The day began with sets from some longtime national bands with Minnesota roots—The Flamin’ Oh’s (who have been around since the late ‘70s) played the indoor second stage and Crow (who began in 1967) and Gypsy (first formed as The Underbeats in 1962) each played afternoon sets on the main outdoor stage.  Then, the way cleared for the night’s two headliners, who are both coincidentally from Pennsylvania.

Tom Keifer is best known as the lead singer and chief songwriter for 80’s blues hard rock band Cinderella, but recently released a solo album, The Way Life Goes (Merovee Records/Warner Music) which had been in-the-making for over ten years.  Keifer looked like he’d aged fairly well and almost evenly split his 73 min. set between solo and Cinderella songs, along with a Beatles cover thrown in for good measure.

Converting the crowd with opener, ‘Night Songs’, the title track from Cinderella’s 1986 debut album, Keifer dressed in mostly black, with styled jeans and the similarly moppish black hair style as he had almost thirty years ago.

Solo album songs ‘It’s Not Enough’ and ‘A Different Light’ followed, using the same blues-based hard rock synthesis that Cinderella has become known for, and fit in seamlessly with the older songs with Keifer’s screechy wail still mostly intact, despite his reported continuous vocal cord issues.  “You ready to rock and roll?” Keifer asked the audience, already knowing the answer, before going into three back-to-back Cinderella hits with his crack band, which included Paul Taylor on keyboards, best known from Winger and Alice Cooper’s 80s-era band.

An acoustic mini set half way through included duets with wife, Savannah Snow, on the new ‘Ask Me Yesterday’’ and Cinderella classic power ballad, ‘Don’t Know What You Got’. “Sing this with me, you’ll know this one”, Keifer remarked before going into The Beatles’ ‘With a Little Help from my Friends’, which was more influenced by Joe Cocker’s soulful version than the Fab Four’s original.  Keifer ended with ‘Gypsy Road’, a blues stomper from Cinderella’s sophomore album, Long Cold Winter, with appropriate set closing lyric, “I drive all night just to see the light”.

The pride of Red Lion, PA; hard rock foursome Halestorm (Lzzy Hale - vocals,  lead guitar, keyboard; Arejay Hale - drums; Joe Hottinger - lead guitar; Josh Smith – bass) was feeling a case of studio cabin fever, as they took a break from finishing their third album (due later this year) to hit the road for some shows this summer.

The band wasted little time in entrancing the crowd, as it opened with radio hit, ‘I Miss the Misery’ from previous album, The Strange Case of… (Atlantic Records). Lzzy Hale was adorned in all black- sleeveless top, leather pants and matching eye liner, while younger brother Arjay banged (and climbed) the drums behind her with restless manic energy.

HALESTORM Setlist
I Miss the Misery
Love Bites (…So Do I)
It's Not You
Freak Like Me
Straight Through the Heart (Dio cover)
You Call Me a Bitch Like It's a Bad Thing
Innocence
Don't Know How to Stop
Rock Show
Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Break In
Familiar Taste of Poison
Arejay Hale Drum Solo
Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest cover)
Mz. Hyde
Daughters of Darkness
I Get Off

-- Encore --
Mayhem
Out Ta Get Me (Guns N’ Roses cover)
Here's To Us (with Tom Keifer)

TOM KEIFER Setlist
Night Songs (Cinderella song)
It's Not Enough
A Different Light
Somebody Save Me (Cinderella song)
Shake Me (Cinderella song)
Heartbreak Station (Cinderella song)
The Flower Song
Ask Me Yesterday
Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone) (Cinderella song)
Nobody's Fool (Cinderella song)
Solid Ground
Cold Day in Hell
Coming Home (Cinderella song)
Shelter Me (Cinderella song)
With a Little Help from My Friends (Beatles cover)
Gypsy Road (Cinderella song)


‘Love Bites’ and ‘Freak Like Me’, which both have local radio airplay, personify the band’s songwriting approach- crunchy riffs, soaring choruses, and somewhat seductively affronting lyrics.  Keeping to their bar band roots and as evidenced on their ReAniMate EPs, the group dove into several well-suited cover songs during their 90 min set, starting with Dio’s 1983 song, ‘Straight Through the Heart’ to a classic Fleetwood Mac song, to the mostly obscure 1977 Judas Priest song, ‘Dissident Aggressor’, and a seething Guns ‘n Roses cover of ‘Out Ta Get Me’, which was saved for the encore.

Lzzy Hale
Hale slowed things mid-set with gentle piano ballad, ‘Break In’, which prompted a bevy of lighters and lit cell phones from the crowd, soon followed by sibling Arejay’s drum solo, which featured dropped beats from legendary hard rock songs, along with the younger Hale playing with maybe the largest drum sticks we’ve ever seen.  ‘Mz. Hyde’ and main set closer, ‘I Get Off’ were also well received, with Hale teasing the audience, “I think we can take it a little further… strut your stuff, Minnesota”.

The three-song encore saved the best for last; starting with the new and yet-to-be-released, ‘Mayhem’ from the upcoming album, followed by the fierce G’n’R cover, then the band brought Tom Keifer back on stage for a special “guest version” of ‘Here’s to Us’, from A Strange Case of…, which had beer glasses held high and swaying, crowd hands in the air, and everyone assembled on stage, clearly having a good time.

Despite its cloudy recent history, the weather setbacks, and a makeshift forced change of venue, A Taste of Minnesota (as it’s now officially called) brought a satisfying musical platter of acts, at least on this night, with the hope the Festival will continue through any unexpected future obstacles and flourish to regain its previous status as a premier event.
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It's not unusual for me to re-buy movies over and over again (I must own at least five different version of Reservoir Dogs). One of the film that I recently re-bought is the 50th Anniversary Edition of West Side Story on Blu-Ray/DVD. This is a terrific value for the packaging alone, considering that I only paid $15 for this old musical.

The first time I saw this 1961 film, it was in Spanish class in High School, well after its theatrical run. By the 70s, the musicals weren't being shot, so West Side Story is a product of its time.

If you've never seen this classic, it's basically a re-working of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet with two star-crossed lovers from rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.

I found that the remastered DVD looked just as good as the Blu-Ray, so if you do not own an HD TV or Blu-Ray player, you may be just as happy with the SD version of the film... however, it's inexpensive, so throwing in a dollar or two for the HD version might be worth it in the long run.

Of the three editions that I own (DVD Collector's Set, Target Edition, and Gift Set), I have to say that the 50th Anniversary Gift Set is the best one to get. The Tribute CD's track listing is not printed anywhere on the gift set (except for the throwaway sheet that describes what you get in the box), so I suspect this was tack on at the last minute. The bonus features and transfers are the same as the Target Edition.

While I would actually not buy the movie as a bare-bones release, getting the extras at a reasonable price, I do highly recommend it. Sometime I would regret owning various editions (like Evil Dead), but not with these West Side Story editions because they all have unique offerings. If someone would just combine all these features into one "Ultimate Box Set"... I would buy it again.


50th Anniversary Gift Box Set
Movie Blu-Ray
Movie DVD
Tribute CD
Hardcover Book
Theatrical Posters

Target Edition
Movie Blu-Ray
Movie DVD
Special Features Blu-Ray
24-page Hardcover Book

Collector's Set
Movie DVD
Special Features DVD
Scrapbook (with full film script) Softcover
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Scottish trio Chvrches, is clearly now having a good time.

The indie electronic-pop threesome (Lauren Mayberry [lead vocals/synths/samplers], Iain Cook [synths/guitar/bass/vocals], and Martin Doherty [synths/samplers/vocals]) has been steadily building in popularity over the last year and a half- topping the U.S. Independent Album chart, playing to sold-out Minneapolis crowds twice prior ahead of their (and long sold-out) current two-night stand, and receiving a giant doughnut from the venue, with the band’s logo decorated on top. They even spent their day off in town at Valley Fair, the local amusement park, and spread all those good feelings last night across First Avenue’s mainroom.

Summer Cannibals opened the show with a 35 min. set, a Portland-based post-grunge band featuring vocalist/guitarist Jessica Boudreaux and former Minnesotan Marc Swart on guitar, who was cheered on by family in the audience. The band is in support of No Makeup on their own New Moss Records, and follow-up EP, Make You Better, which was initially released on cassette only (?!).

Boudreaux has a sometimes fierce vocal, not unlike Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, and Swart’s fuzzy guitar recalls the best things about the Northwest sound of the early ‘90s.  Swart, who hadn’t been back to the state in five years, had even teased a Nirvana riff before one of the songs, while perhaps unconsciously promoting a competing show with his Red Fang t-shirt, as that band was playing down the street the same evening.  Tracks like ‘Wear Me Out’ and ‘Hey/I was Saved’ sounded both influenced and updated for a 21st century audience.

Before their hour-long evening set, Chvrches briskly stopped by local record store Electric Fetus for a stripped, three song in-store performance.  The band seemed relaxed and playful and the sparse versions of the songs were no less compelling than the full electric ones.  Mayberry even pre-warned the all-ages crowd before ‘The Mother We Share’ that the lyrics contained “a sweary word”, even offering to “give a signal” before she said it, and saying it probably was the reason they’ve never been offered to sing on Sesame Street.

As lights were dimmed, rolling smoke from dry ice covered the stage area, and the Glaswegian trio Chvrches took the stage to begin their hour-long set, with the new ‘We Sink’. Their lightshow has grown impressively to almost EDM-scale stature, all cued off of the band’s logo as seen on the album cover, and keeping them even more in near-darkness, probably encouraged by Mayberry’s innate shyness.  Cook and Doherty flanked Mayberry with their consoles on each side whose lighted front pieces (resembling a “7” and reverse "7") completed the band’s distinctive logo shape.  Chvrches is somewhat unique in that it generates all the sounds heard live, as opposed to pre-programming loops and effects, that also keeps their live performance fresh.

‘Lies’, from full-length debut, The Bones of What You Believe (Glassnote/Virgin Records) followed, with the band mostly unseen against the rolling smoke and flashing lights that atmospherically mirrored the dark lyrics.  Mayberry’s innocent sounding vocals cut above the sharpened beats, with Cook focused on his musical multi-tasking, and Doherty doing the same, though more manic in his creating.  The band is a similar counterpart to locals Poliça, who use dual drummers to enhance their electronic core sound and feature a similarly on-stage shy Channy Leaneagh, versus the two synth/samplers that Chvrches use.

‘Gun’ would be next, its bouncy electronica belying the confrontational, revenge-filled dark lyrics that are at the song’s center.  Mayberry teased the crowd about the venue’s warmth and using her floor fan to cool herself, envisioning herself as Whitney Houston in a video. Album bonus track, ‘Strong Hand’ was a nice surprise, and could almost be considered the album’s title track with its lyric, “give me the bones of what I believe”.  Cell phone cameras collectively rose in the air for initial single, ‘Recover’, with the electronic bass more throbbing live, than on record.

Doherty took the lead vocals over for ‘Under the Tide’, spastically dancing in and out of the darkness during the chorus as Mayberry took over his sampler pads for the song.  The overheated crowd had to be literally hosed down by venue staff up front before set closer, ‘The Mother We Share’, which worked everyone up even more.

Encore opening ‘You Caught the Light’ had Doherty returning to lead vocals; as the album’s final song, it also most recalls Doherty’s past as a member of fellow Scottish act, The Twilight Sad.

By the Throat’ with haunting lyric, “all that is golden is never real” was saved for last, though all that is golden seems to be becoming very real, for a band that will most likely playing much bigger venues to much larger crowds, the next time through... and will probably have a good time doing so.

Chvrches at First Ave Setlist
We Sink
Lies
Lungs
Gun
Night Sky
Strong Hand
Science/Visions
Recover
Tether
Under the Tide
The Mother We Share

-- Encore --
You Caught the Light
By the Throat

Chvrches at Electric Fetus Setlist
Recover
Gun
The Mother We Share
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