This week, we have two reviews, one from Boston and the other from Milwaukee.
- Shout Out Louds, Paradise Music Club, Boston 10/24 by Miriam Lamey
- Wilco and Andrew Bird, Eagle’s Ballroom, Milwaukee 10/9 by Jeremy Farmer
Shout Out Louds, Paradise Music Club, Boston 10/24
review and interview by Miriam Lamey
photos by Thana Taliep
The sassy, Swedish Shout Out Louds trooped onstage at the Paradise Rock Club to an enthusiastic, yet smaller-than-average, crowd last week. You can thank the first Red Sox World Series game for that, a fact that singer Adam Olenius teasingly addressed during the set. Yet Olenius and the band, consisting of Ted Malmros (bass), Carl von Arbin (guitars), Eric Edman (drums) and Bebban Stenborg (vocals, keys), played a sparklingly edgy set including a range of tracks from their latest release of dark, twinkly indie pop, Our Ill Wills. Avoiding any cloying sentiments, Shout Out Louds seemed rather business-like as they strode through their high energy set that was projected just loud and clear enough to not force the audience to reach for their earplugs. Highlights from the performance included a hot rendition of “Illusion,” in which the jumpy, innovative percussion and light guitars contrasted beautifully with a tuneful melody and pretty harmony accents. The moodier, Bright Eyes-like “Suit Yourself” presented a more intense vibe, as the heavier drums and soul-searching melody gave the tune plenty of attitude. The trackâ€™s intermittent synth accents rang warmly and fully through the venue. Shout Out Louds closed their set with the high-energy single “Tonight I have to Leave It” and certainly put a smile on everyoneâ€™s face. The Shout Out Louds wrap up their North American tour in LA on November 5th, before heading back to Europe for a range of shows in Norway and Sweden, plus one date in London.
Prior to their Wednesday night show, I managed to grab Adam Olenius for a brief chat about the tour so far and their recent album.
Miriam: First of all, howâ€™s the tour going so far?
Adam: Really good. Itâ€™s our second headlining tour. You know, it feels goodâ€¦nice venues and all that. We had a really rough start for the bus broke down for two days. I like being on tour to work and play and when thereâ€™s time off and thereâ€™s nothing to do, you get in this really horrible tour depression. Everyone was really exited to play, but there was this downfall for two days. But then it went really well so the last couple of shows have been really good.
Miriam: Nice. So whatâ€™s the best stop been so far?
Adam: I really liked Canada. I really liked Toronto. We played Montreal yesterday, but Toronto â€“ we just had so many friends there. They take us out, thereâ€™s always nightsâ€¦it stinks! [laughs] Um, and the West coast is great â€“ San Francisco and Seattle and I like the bigger cities. The small ones are nice, but I like cities. Stockholm is a small city; you can walk, you can take bikes. Tomorrow itâ€™s New York and there are going to be so many friends there. Itâ€™s going to be great to go down there but, you know, itâ€™s so stressful. I do wish I was in Stockholm. Itâ€™s great to do that, but you have to be such a good host and Iâ€™m not a very good host [laughs.]
Miriam: Youâ€™ve opened for people like the Kings of Leon and the Strokes. What was your best opening experience?
Adam: I have really good memories of opening for the Kings of Leon just because they were in big places, but not that big. The Strokes in the UK were in really big places and it was at about the time weâ€™d just released our record and people really knew the songs. Weâ€™re really good friends with The Magic Numbers from the UK. We did a European tour, in smaller venues, and we were double headliners and we were with really good friends. I mean, itâ€™s important being a bigger band and doing bigger shows and to keep that kind of magic and energy. Sometimes that kind of gets lost in these big arenas, but so far weâ€™ve managed to keep it up.
Miriam: Your second album that just came out, Our Ill Wills â€“ how is that different to your first album? What is different about it?
Adam: Well, just itâ€™s another step. We tour so much that we knew each other better musically and together we had so much time to get influenced by things and ideas, so itâ€™s like we collected them â€“ bringing a bag home of ideas. But the albumâ€™s a little bit bigger. Thereâ€™s more of a cinematic feeling to it and weâ€™re just better in every way.
Miriam: [laughs] Thatâ€™s great. So what ideas and influences did you use for your second album?
Adam: We focused more on the rhythms and drums influenced by more electronic and dance music, but also more rhythmic music, from Northern Africa and South America. Thereâ€™ s a lot of percussion and drums. And I think the way that I wrote the words â€“ it seems like all the instruments have a different rhythm. At first you might hear the song a bit slower, but then you just go dance to it - more of a, I donâ€™t, know dancing, walking kind of thing.
Miriam: Right, thereâ€™s more movement.
Miriam: I noticed you deal with a lot of heavier emotions in your lyrics. How do you keep the overall tone of the songs so upbeat?
Adam: I think we have a more of a sad lyric and when itâ€™s played loud youâ€™re getting rid of a lot of energy, like youâ€™re getting that thing out of you. And you need sort of a melody to really take that feeling out of you, honestly. Because otherwise, Iâ€™d just stand there whining!
Miriam: Do you primarily write all the songs, or do you all work together?
Adam: I write most of the songs, but on this album, we arranged them together a lot. Bebben wrote her first song on the record and she sings it herself. Karl and Bebben are more involved in writing the melodies with me. It depends on what kind of song it is. If itâ€™s a very personal song, I need to write it on my own, but there are some songs we made collectively that we really wanted on this album. Itâ€™s important to us that that thing doesnâ€™t get lost.
Miriam: What else are you listening to at the moment?
Adam: I just bought these great records the other day. Old Brazilian music from the Seventies. Itâ€™s very funky, thereâ€™s lots of rhythm. And I do listen to many things â€“ I like Panda Bear from Animal Collective, the solo album that came out this year. I like The National. Iâ€™ve listened to a lot of Dylan lately. I think Iâ€™m old enough to appreciate Dylan.
Miriam: [laughs] Well, you hit a certain age, and thatâ€™s it!
Adam: [laughs] Yeah, Iâ€™m old enough now, so bring it on! But I try to listen to a lot of Swedish music, especially when Iâ€™m there, so I like the new Jens Lekman album.
Miriam: Iâ€™m going to see him Monday!
Adam: Heâ€™s playing here in a few days. He just texted me the other day. Heâ€™s playing New York now or just a few days after us. Thatâ€™s really sad â€“ heâ€™s a great guy. But thereâ€™s a lot of Swedish stuff I listen to. I think itâ€™s important to get influenced by your own local scene.
Miriam: I was going to ask about that! Whatâ€™s the local scene like where youâ€™re from? How would you fit in there? Do you fit into a â€œsceneâ€ at home?
Adam: Yes, we do. The bands are so different from each other and they all kind of borrow from each other. The genres are very mixed up which I think is very greatâ€¦very, creative. Everyone kind of makes everything up. I donâ€™t know â€“ there are bands that travel abroad, like Peter Bjorn and John. Theyâ€™re Stockholm based and The Concretes are from Stockholm and we heard about them all the time. I think I belong to the Swedish scene and Iâ€™m not sure about the Stockholm. Well, yeah, maybe I do â€“ I donâ€™t know! I couldnâ€™t live anywhere else!
When Chicago invaded Milwaukee
Wilco and Andrew Bird at Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee 10/9/07
words and photos by Jeremy Farmer
â€¨â€¨In early September, two of Chicago’s finest musical outputs played separate headlining sold out gigs. One was in the back lots near the Hideout, and the other was at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Both represent Chicago in its purest forms, but in different manners. One is obviously more rock and roll than the other, while the other is obviously more a treat on the eyes. Yet both were a great example of what these two separate acts have risen to. Andrew Bird, playing the main slot of the Hideout Block Party, and Wilco, from its days playing clubs throughout the environs of the Chicago cityscape, culminating to a homecoming show of sorts at the newest gem of the downtown area. It is about persistence for both acts, and well-deserved payoffs. A Cinderella story of sorts I suppose, but staving off the need to get nostalgic and sappy about it, it is really just proper rock and roll.
â€¨Both of these acts, in newer forms than they once were, with different members and outputs etc, took their combined musical endeavors north of the border (the fabled Wisconsin border) to our neighbor Milwaukee. It was sure to be a treat. Andrew Bird, in a “rare solo performance” and Wilco, playing to a crowd indoors (which is becoming harder to experience in Chicago, what with the rampant super fandom abounding through the streets).
â€¨I have trouble criticizing anything Bird has done since Weather Systems, and his set, while short, was pretty sweet. Though he did suffer from the Milwaukee echo chamber that is the Eagle’s Ballroom, he did prove that a broken down Bird is still a winged creature of a magnanimous sort. After all, when he does tour with a band, he is Andrew Bird, not the Andrew Bird band, etc. His music stands on its own, when he is standing on his own, if you will. â€¨
Quietly, he spoke, “Hello, I’m Andrew Bird, so nice to meet you. I’m from Chicago”, and the crowd bellowed out in fellow representation. It looked as if I was not the only one to make it up from home.
If there was one thing that the crowd could not be accused of, it was lack of passion. Much of the crowd was familiar with Andrew Bird, a few of them mentioning his set at Bonnaroo last summer and how amazing it was, but you could tell from the break between acts that what everyone was really ready for was Wilco. I spoke to a few of the kids up front and they had driven from exotic places like Green Bay to see the show. One of the oddest aspects of the show that struck me was that there was no other photographer for Bird, and only one other for Wilco, who quickly left after the mandatory three song limit. (As these big ole shows, us photogs have only the first three songs to shoot the band).
â€¨Wilco began the show, amid cheers and mass screaming, to the second song (You Are My Face) off their new album Sky Blue Sky. Like this new stage of Wilco or not, you would be stretching the limits of truth by claiming they do not have their shit together. They are a conglomerate of styles and approaches, of experience and dress, but they are a solid unit of Wilcodom. The initial part of their extended set focused on newer material with the second song coming in at “I am Trying to Break Your Heart” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, followed by dabbling in A Ghost is Born, and always coming back to Sky. As they moved through their catalog they left the older material for the end, and as I was singing along to “I Got You (At The End of the Century)” as if unsure which one they meant, and okay with either one.