Unknown Mortal Orchestra @ Republic
On Thursday night Unknown Mortal Orchestra dropped by Republic to help dispel our collective after Carnival depression. The band brought a festival of its own—complete with an impressive light display and a few theatrics. The set mostly focused on tracks from their 2015 release Multi-Love with a few glances back to their first two records. Even though the set they played at Republic was quite similar to the set I saw at Bonnaroo back in June, the band is much more comfortable with the mechanics of the live performance than they were eight months ago. The concern with Unknown Mortal Orchestra was always that their studio trickery wouldn’t translate to the live stage. This concern turned out to be unfounded as UMO has found new ways to interpret their songs. What really stood out on Thursday was the added layer that their solos and improvisation have added to the music. On the stage that formerly housed the Howlin’ Wolf it was appropriate that an element funk that found its way into their jams. It was an unexpected and quite welcome way to revisit these outstanding tracks. The middle of a UMO show is often a sing along to their excellent “So Good at Being in Trouble”. On Thursday we got an extended version with more of the playful soloing we had seen throughout the evening. As you’ll see in the pictures, at one point near the end of the set, lead singer and guitarist Ruban Nielson took to the rafters, climbing up the stage and singing the majority of “Stage or Screen” from the railing above the concert floor. He took a moment to commend the excellent keyboard work of Quincy McCrary while on his way back down. The crowd could not have been more excited. UMO have come a long way this last year. They have found a balance between their album work and their stagecraft that works for both them and the fans. That is a wonderful moment to inhabit.
Wavves and Best Coast @ The Joy Theater
Saturday night Wavves and Best Coast eased us into Valentines Day in style with a co-headlining set at the Joy Theater. The tour called “Summer is Forever II” was a sequel to their co-headlining tour from 2011. Both tours were kicked off with a split 7-inch single. This time New Orleans was the third stop on the tour and we benefited from a pair of groups that were thoroughly warmed up but not yet exhausted by life on the road. Best Coast kicked things off with an extended set. While a good number of the tracks were from their recent California Nights, singer songwriter and guitarist Bethany Cosentino also went for some deep cuts from their catalogue (Cosentino admitted that while she would play fan favorite “Boyfriend” she wasn’t thrilled by the song anymore). Best Coast have not been through town since their performance at BUKU 2013. Their time on the road has shaped them into an indie pop force. It’s great to see them able to stretch their legs on the big stage for a change. After Best Coast, Wavves took the stage to close out the evening. I can see why these bands enjoy touring together (besides the longstanding history between their lead singers). Each of the acts compliments the other. While Best Coast presents a polished indie pop persona, Wavves follow behind with a blast of raw power. Like Best Coast, Wavves were there to try on its new album for the crowd and the response was uproarious. Nathan Williams is a charismatic frontman with a flair for bringing the crowd with him. He opened the night by asking after Mardi Gras and then yelling “Fuck Mardi Gras”. I think he may have captured the mood of the city at that moment.
To Do This Week
This week there are some very excellent free jazz shows going on around the city. Tonight there is a very heavy show going on at the AllWays Lounge with Dave Rempis: saxophones, Mars Williams: saxophones, Hamid Drake: drums, Rob Cambre: guitar, fx. James Singleton: bass, fx. This is a singular confluence of improvisational musicians. If you have not taken the opportunity to see Hamid Drake drum, don’t miss one of his performances this week. Friday Hamid Drake and Jeff Zielinski will be at the Ashe Cultural Center. Monday Hamid Drake, Kidd Jordan and James Singleton will be at the Hi-Ho Lounge. Get out to at least one of these nights.
On Saturday Ty Segall will be at One Eyed Jacks with a new record and seemingly a new persona. On Wednesday Protomartyr will be at Gasa Gasa. I am extremely excited for both of these shows. Ty Segall is a living legend and Protomartyr is making some of the smartest music around today.
Checkout Ty Segall on Colbert here.
Checkout the Protomartyr Tiny Desk Concert here.
To Listen This Week
Parquet Courts announce a new record and release two new tracks via CoS
Com Truise have an excellent new track out (they’ll be through town in May) via Soundcloud
St. Vincent covered the Rolling Stones “Emotional Rescue” via Youtube