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Field Music / Grizzly Bear + Beach House / Mos Def – My Gigging Year

December 23, 2010

3-in-1 review for you today, as these three gigs were some of the most forgettable of 2010.

Field Music

I’d always quite enjoyed Field Music’s, um, music, but never had I really fallen in love. In fact, I don’t think I ever listened to one of their albums the whole way through – I get bored of them quickly even though I could never say their music was bad in any way. They have ideas, they are talented musicians, it’s just… well, before I went to the gig I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but afterwards I knew exactly what it was: Field Music are too nice. They are the kind of band you could show to your dad and he might like it too – not always a bad thing, but in this case it just means they are a bit boring. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t Snow Patrol or anything, but as Simon Cowell might say they don’t have the x factor.

The gig was a fair reflection of their recorded work, and if you like their albums you will most certainly like them live – they are obviously a hard working lot who have honed their stage chops, with more than one member of the band being comfortable on multiple instruments. Having two lead singers would be a bigger coup if either of them had more balls, as I found their voices a little lacking in passion most of the time, but I could never say they were bad: always in pitch, their harmony’s were spot on. So, in conclusion, not a bad gig at all really, just not my particular cup of tea as it was a bit weak and had too much milk.

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear and Beach House. Well, I was never a huge fan of either of these bands but I went along for the heck of it. Grizzly Bear’s debut didn’t grab me like some of my friends, but some of the songs on ‘Veckatimest’ would haunt me long after hearing them on shuffle whilst playing Pro Evo, the opening two tracks of the album being perfect examples.  I know I have a bad memory and everything, but I can’t remember Grizzly Bear’s gig very well at all – I can remember most other bands performances, so maybe that says a lot.  But from what little I do remember, I thought they were very good: they certainly kept that haunting feeling from their albums, and their voices really stood out a lot more than I thought they would. Just a shame they weren’t more memorable performers. You know what, I’m feeling bad for dissing a band when I can’t really remember if they fully deserve it, so I think I’m going to have to phone a friend and ask the boys to fill in the gaps for me with a few comments at the bottom. I think that proper fans of the band would say they were amazing live, as they are obviously hugely talented musicians and are a tight group, but for some reason, even though I thought they were good on the day, time has washed away their performance from my brain. My fault? Probably.

This might be a good time to point out that at some point in the year I became very aware of the fact that a typical ‘indie’ gig has the ability to bore me senseless (I find myself using the word indie a lot, even though it’s a shit term. I just can’t think of anything better, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion…). Most of these bands where I love their albums turn out to be insular performers, content to play their songs well but not much else. Say what you want about a lot of pop stars, but at least they (some of them, at least) try to put on a good show. Indie bands are fucking lazy on the whole, and I think I must have a short attention span or something but I don’t seem to get the same kick out of seeing a lot of these bands live as my peers seem to, even though I like their music at home just as much as anyone else. I think bands like Field Music and Grizzly Bear fall victim to my antipathy towards acts with no flair. At the end of the day, I go to a gig to be entertained – if I just wanted to listen to good music I could just listen to their album at home.

Beach House

As for Grizzly Bear’s support act that night, Beach House, the less said the better. They were terrible. I thought their albums were OK for going to sleep to, but other than that they were an overhyped piece of reverberated averageness. Where Grizzly Bear might fall into the category of better recorded than live, Beach House live there – they really have no place going out on tour. Do people really want to pay money to be lullabied to sleep? They had no charm, no wit, just dour, depressing songs and a less engaging voice than one would expect of a band that pretty much relies on the sensuality of their female vocals. Depressing is the word I would use to sum them up – one of the worst sets I have seen, and their performance has completely put me off from listening to them in future.

Mos Def

And to finish, possibly the worst of the bunch. Rap has been a part of my music collection for a long time now, but for some reason I have always managed to miss out Mos Def, one of those legendary names that you end up respecting without ever really knowing why. The people in the know about rap seem to all love him, so I should too, right? Well, maybe. In the few bits I have listened to he does seem like a good rapper, nay, a very good rapper, his freestyling seems great too (I’m not the best judge of such things, as I can’t tell if someone is really making it up on the spot or just re-hashing the same old rhymes they always use, but whatever) and his acting is a class above the usual rapper-come-actor (ahem! 50 Cent and Eminem), so there seems to be some substance to the guy. I just wish he’d shown more of it at the gig. He got off on the worst foot possible by arriving over an hour late (the crowd got understandably pissed off by this), but only compounded his error by having only 2 DJ’s to support him on stage. Granted, his rapping on the night was good, but everything else was awful: the sound guy that night should be shot, as I could barely hear what he was saying over the noisy DJ’s, who seemed to simply be pressing play on his beats (which were lame) and doing little else. I even saw them nattering to each other while the songs were going on – shameful behaviour. The highlight of his set was when the two baffoons shut up for 30 seconds and let Mos Def do his thing – it was great, actually, but sure enough the pratting DJ’s started up their rackett and the gig went back to it’s usual crapness. The sheer lack of effort in this gig left a sour taste in the mouth, and I could tell he could do a whole lot better if he tried.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. mDilsh permalink
    December 25, 2010 7:29 pm

    I gotta say: if you’re not enamoured by a decent and creative band making the music the focus for their live shows, you should probably just go to a Girls Aloud concert instead. I know it’s a fine balance between having captivating stage-presence whilst still presenting a faithful account of your music live, but I believe the music should always come first. It’s a shame that you seem to need cheap tricks to stimulate your memory because you have a discredited a fine live performance in Grizzly Bear.
    Anyway, sorry to be so scathing, ‘cos I’ve been enjoying your live reviews and am still looking forward to Mayer Hawthorne.

    PS. Veckatimest had been out for nearly a year before the gig!

    • j-diz permalink
      December 30, 2010 1:43 pm

      I had a feeling I would be holding my hands up after writing this. I should really refrain from “reviewing” a gig I can’t properly remember. Your points are all pretty much valid, especially the timing of Veckatimest (I’ll edit that bit out -shh). Overly harsh for sure, as they sounded great. I should have emphasised that more than their lack of visual flair.

      As for music coming first, I’m completely with you. It’s just that there is such a great potential to do so much more than just play your songs that I feel a bit short changed when all I get is basically what they do at a band practice. Maybe I’ve been spoiled after seeing Gorillaz…

  2. Anonymous permalink
    January 5, 2011 7:29 am

    “Depressing is the word I would use to sum them up – one of the worst sets I have seen, and their performance has completely put me off from listening to them in future.” – If you want candy canes and lollypops then I think you shouldn’t listen to anything The Smiths has done. They may have been dire live but there is no way you can doubt there 3rd album being in the top albums of 2010. If not and you prefer the absolute rubbish of the Gorillaz third album then more the fool you.

  3. j-diz permalink
    January 5, 2011 12:30 pm

    Anon, I like a lot of The Smiths’s songs actually, and even though I don’t like listening to it too much, depressing and sombre music has it’s place (personally I don’t think it translates well live – who wants to have a depressing night out?). I was actually put off Gorillaz for a long time due to the fact that a lot of their work sounded like it was the OST to a super cute japanese anime – not far off the mark really – so, at the other extreme of the spectrum I’m not overly fond of happy happy joy joy stuff either, but again it has it’s place.

    Whilst I think that Beach House are over-rated (I don’t much like the fact it made our top 2010 albums list) I can understand why people like their records. My review was for their gig, not their album, and if you ever go to see them (god forbid) you’ll understand just how awful they are as a live act.

    FYI – even though I think Gorillaz are amazing live, Plastic Beach wouldn’t make it on my personal top 20 albums of 2010

    • mDilsh permalink
      January 6, 2011 12:02 am

      Reluctantly, I have to concur that Beach House did not come across at all well live, but I do hope they have a lot more to give.

      It may not blow your head off, but I have always quite enjoyed this performance of theirs:

  4. Anonymous permalink
    January 6, 2011 1:15 pm

    Live that might be the case with Beach House but their album is top notch in comparison to say The Drums.

    Gorillazz first album was a fantastic idea and worked well because they just released records and videos. On the second album they started mixing reality within their videos such as Dare and Feel Good Inc., they played a 3d Concert but kept it solely as if the Characters were playing. It was a fantastic idea but give Damon Albarn a wiff of something and he’ll smell it till it’s bled dry. He should have never played the Gorillaz as an actual band and a disgrace.

    If THE BAND did it, there would be no qualms but Damon Albarn….we all know he was the lyrict of Blur and Graham Coxon the heart, soul and rythm of the tunes.

    • j-diz permalink
      January 6, 2011 11:30 pm

      You know I just listened to Teen Dream this morning, and the album is admittedly pretty good. I don’t know why you mentioned The Drums though, Anon.

      As for your rant about Gorillaz and Damon Albarn in particular, what is your major malfunction? How is evolving an idea a disgrace? Personally I find the current incarnation of Gorillaz to be the most palatable yet, but even if I didn’t you shouldn’t go around knocking people just because they changed and tried something new. Otherwise you should say Gorillaz mk.1 is a disgrace because it was so different than anything he’d done before.

      And finally, the Albarn / Coxon dynamic – I’m no expert, but I do know that my favourite Blur album was the one without Coxon in it. Also, post split, Damon has been far more successful in every measurable way than his former bandmate (whose work in comparison looks decidedly stale and one-dimensional), so the idea that Graham was the “heart, soul and rythm” of Blur doesn’t seem to stand up, does it?

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