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Archive concerts summary: October 2010

After the musically busy months of August and September, October 2010 was a slower month for me, with just two concerts. In fact it turned out slower than planned, as due to the car crash, I didn't feel able to attend the Foals concert I'd been really excited about. Before that, however, I did go see Phantogram and Film School on consecutive nights.

First, on Thursday October 14, Phantogram played at Neumos, with Anomie Belle and Josiah Wolf opening. I arrived a bit late to find Anomie Belle was just about to play some new songs, and I listened for a few, but stepped out to get some pizza. Josiah Wolf is a multi-instrumentalist who sang and performed on guitar and drums, accompanied by another musician on bass, bells, and backing vocals. His music was slow moody country/folk-pop, a bit like Mazzy Star, though lyrically more like the Mountain Goats. It was pretty, though not really my style, and I have to say I was impressed that he could sing, play guitar, and drum (he had a kick-drum and a snare) all at the same time. Phantogram's dreampop electronica, however, was just what I needed, and they sounded great. They played "Mouthful of Diamonds" fairly early, and it occurred to me that it may be deceptively light and sweet, as they can go heavy and dark with their other songs, such as set closer "When I'm Small". Their final encore song (which unfortunately I didn't identify) had a driving synchopated beat that reminded me of The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now", and I realized that would've been an awesome cover for them to do. I'm looking forward to hearing what they do next. Neumos is rarely kind to my iPhone's camera, but I took some photos of Phantogram from the side of the stage that I thought looked interesting at least; you can see them all, along with some of Josiah Wolf, in my set on Flickr.

Second, on Friday October 15, Film School played at the Sunset Tavern, with Hotels opening and the Depreciation Guild in the middle. It was a bit of an off night for Hotels, with half the band suffering various maladies and the sound seeming rather crappy even for the Sunset. Despite all that, it was still great as always to hear them, I never tire of it. The Depreciation Guild played good solid shoegaze/dreampop. Their songs weren't quite as catchy as I expected, and I figured there must be something about the album versions, but they were definitely lovely songs. They finished with "Dream About You", the tune that kept catching my ear on KEXP and making me say "wait, who is this?" I'm sad to have just discovered that they broke up after that tour, but pleased that at least I got to see them a second time. Film School focused on songs from their latest release, Fission, and I found them to be fairly straightforward rock, maybe some hints of dreampop but not really shoegaze. They did mix in older ones and I definitely preferred the more shoegaze style; the new songs were nice but not compelling. Regardless, they're still a fine band, worth seeing live, and I should still pick up Fission and see how it sounds. 

Last Friday I finally got to see Film School, who played at the Sunset Tavern. I've been meaning to catch them for a while now but had unfortunately missed a few opportunities, so despite feeling tired I made the effort to get out to the club and once again found that my saying is true, "It's always the right decision to go to the show." Opening for Film School was Blue Skies for Black Hearts and The Purrs.

Blue Skies for Black Hearts are a typical rock quartet of two guitars, bass, and drums. Given their name and that they were opening for Film School, I was expecting their style to be goth/shoegaze. I arrived pretty late to the show and came in to discover they seemed to be just an ordinary indie blues-rock band. I didn't hear anything remarkable, but as I missed most of their set I really can't say too much more about them.

I first saw The Purrs a little over a month ago in June, and at the time I felt that their music was pleasant but uninspiring. At this show however, I found that their music is growing on me. It ranges from moody, shoegazer-y songs such as "Disconnected" and "Taste of Monday", to the brighter pop rock of "She's Got Chemicals" and "Miles Away" (which I was disappointed that they didn't play). Although The Purrs rarely seem inspiring, they do seem to be dependable for solid and enjoyable rock, and I think next time I catch them I'm going to pick up one of their albums.

Film School are a quintet led by Greg Bertens (vocals/guitar), with Dave Dupuis (guitar), Lorelei Plotczyk (bass), Jason Ruck (keyboard/synth), and James Smith (drums). They played a solid set of classic shoegazer rock. I don't actually have much to say about it, I just drank in the swirling guitars with a grin on my face. They did do an awesome version of "11:11", the single from their previous, self-titled album which first caught my attention. Although the vocals did seem a bit weak live, they made up for it with an extended opening that began with a beatless wash of soaring guitar sounds, eventually bringing in the opening drum rhythm. It'd be easy to compare Film School with a band such as My Bloody Valentine and say well, they're doing nothing new. But you don't have to be innovative to be good, and Film School are quite good. I'm glad I finally got to see them and I look forward to their next show.

I know I just recently went over the list of upcoming shows, but I'm excited about them so I'm going to run through it again:

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