Live Reviews: Cave Singers, Dead Confederate, Buck 65

This week, we have three reviews, two from Seattle’s own Crocodile Cafe and the other from Athens, featuring a band who will be part of our 5th Annual Yule Benefit this Saturday.

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Cave Singers with Fleet Foxes and Port O’Brien, Crocodile Cafe 11/30/07

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review and photos by Jim Bennet

This was locals night. A number of folks I met waiting at the Crocodile were either in bands or involved with bands or else devotees of the local scene (“My new favorite band is the Silversun Pickups”…”I was in Portland to see a few shows recently, and it was disappointing”…”Seattle has such a great scene”…). The Cave Singers clearly had a following, and they were back in town after one tour, about to start another; but it was Fleet Foxes who were the buzz on people’s lips. Among other Seattle musicians, J. Tillman was in the audience, readying to share a bill with lead singer and guitarist Robin Pecknold at the Crocodile in just two weeks.

Fleet Foxes began their set benevolently as they offered fresh cupcakes for the front of the house and then very serenely went about meeting or exceeding the expectations of the whole room. The energy was familiar — calls for “Robin” chimed throughout the room, with the same tone you’d use to call to a friend across the street, as if everyone in attendance knew him intimately. During their performance, I was struck by several things: the quality of their song craft (both lyrically and musically); the synchronous vocal harmonies that recall Crosby, Stills and Nash or America (in the best possible way); the confidence implied by some very spare arrangements in a setting where all eyes and ears were on the band; the measured intensity and spontaneous levity; the skill of each band member (when was the last time you heard a drummer sing harmony like that?). At the end of their set, to their fans’ demanded they stay on all night, Pecknold seemed conflicted, first saying “Yeah, we’ll just stay up here! Screw the bill!” and then quickly adding “That was sarcasm…we’re really glad to be here with the other bands.” Surely, just as caught up as he was in the moment, like everyone else he was conscious of what lay ahead.

By comparison, Port O’Brien seemed a bit out of their league. While Fleet Foxes were sensational, and The Cave Singers were the clear draw, the Oakland band was just working hard to fit in. Undoubtedly, it must have been intimidating to follow such a sublime opening set, but the band poured as much energy into their set as they could muster. The songs frequently referenced Neil Young (overtly so during the “Helpless” sing-along) and possibly Radar Brothers. Perhaps it was the fact that this was there first night on the tour, but it wasn’t until their last number that Port O’Brien got the crowd going.

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The Cave Singers were phenomenal in their own right, and it seemed a rare experience to witness a band not self-conscious in the least. It was as though anyone could have been playing music, and it just happened to be their turn. It was like we were all just standing around in their living room. Guitarist Derek Fudesco rarely spoke into a mike — but he frequently addressed those within earshot (“Thanks so much for coming out tonight, you guys”) and the whole room responded enthusiastically. The woman up front was a bike messenger who worked with the lead singer (also a bike messenger) and would chat from the front row with him about who was in the house or not. This kind of familiarity invited others to get to know them, to listen closely. Unlike the forced energy of the second band, The Cave Singers were less dramatic though not quite introspective either; their music was inspired, honest and occasionally haunting. Whereas Fleet Foxes seemed a discovery for many in the audience, lots of folks were singing along with The Cave Singers throughout the night. After a rich set (8 or so songs), the band stood up to leave and someone yelled, “Fuck the pageantry! Just stay out there!”… and they did.

Click here to…

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Agreeing to perform 2 more songs, they ended up playing 3 or 4. One of them was new, and took a few false starts to get going. For The Cave Singers, this seemed neither unprofessional nor self-absorbed; rather, it was completely consistent with the MO of their whole set. And, once sorted out, the new song proved to be yet another great vocal and musical arrangement.

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Check out more photos by the performance: Fleet Foxes, Port O’Brien, The Cave Singers.

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“Underneath the Covers II” with Patterson Hood & Friends, Deaf Judges, Dead Confederate, 40 Watt, Athens 12/1/07

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Patterson Hood with Dead Confederate

review by D.M.
photos by Skylar Reeves

Rock music and benefit concerts go together like peaches and cream. Here in Athens, GA, not much time goes by where there isn’t an event planned in which local musicians lend their talents in the name of charity.

Over the past couple of years, acts have been challenged to perform material from other artists as a way of making the “old fund-raiser” more interesting. Sets covering R.E.M (of course), Rolling Stones, the Stooges, etc., have provided money to support various philanthropic entities.

Saturday night, the crowd at the 40Watt Club saw an onslaught of talent as “Underneath the Covers II” supported World AIDS Day, in keeping with the recent trend. The obvious amount of preparation from each group was certainly appreciated by the crowd, and deserved accolades between musicians backstage were abundant.

Here’s how the night went down:

The High Caliber put near perfect guitar tones to their renditions of the Jesus & Mary Chain. Next, Still, Small Voice & the Joyful Noise hit home on Elvis Costello & the Attractions. Deaf Judges absolutely killed a set of Beastie Boys songs and were said by a friend of mine to have performed “as if they were channeling.” These guys took it a step further by rattling off an exciting medley of well known hits that included, “Push It,” “I’m Gonna Knock You Out,” and “It Takes Two.” Pegasuses XL joined the dj/mc foursome onstage to end the set with “Sabotage.” Again, killer.

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Headliners Patterson Hood and Dead Confederate were next to take the stage, with the Drive by Truckers frontman laying down an amazing set of Bruce Springsteen. At dinner before the show, Patterson said he believes his band may have rehearsed more for their “Boss” set than the Truckers have in the last 5 years. Talk about dedication for the sake of helping others! Here’s his setlist:

1. Badlands
2. Something In The Night
3. Candy’s Room
4. Racing In The Street
5. Adam Raised A Cain
6. Darkness on the Edge of Town

The whole performance, by the way, is available at Southern Shelter.

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Dead Confederate then took things – well, to quote event organizer, David Basham – “to the stratospheric level” as Sonic Youth. Bassist Brantley Senn made sure to pay tribute to Kim Gordon by donning a synthetic blonde wig and sunglasses. The night ended with a dizzying swirl of ripping guitar strings and screams for “Youth Against Facism.”

DC’s setlist:
1. 100%
2. Silver Rocket
3. Teresa’s Soundworld
4. The Diamond Sea
5. Youth Against Facism (with Patterson Hood, Jim Fahy, Hunter Morris, and Jeff Tobias)

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The guys in DC were in a fittingly giving mood, as this show – where they shared the stage with Trucker Patterson Hood – comes in the middle of a crazy East Coast/West Coast touring schedule that last week included dates with Dinosaur Jr, Awesome Color, and Drug Rug…. and this week alongside Black Lips, Deerhunter, and Yeasayer. Dead Confederate will close out December at home with an official EP release party at Lenny’s in Atlanta with All the Saints on Dec 27th.

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Dead Confederate bring their music to Seattle this Saturday at KEXP’s 5th Annual Yule Benefit. The guys are especially excited to be playing with locals The Valley and Feral Children, and yes – again in the name of charity. But who wouldn’t want to help KEXP!!?

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Buck 65 with Scratch Bastid, Bernard Dolan, and Rudy and the Rhetoric, Crocodile Cafe 11/29/07

review and photos by Ben Guerechit

A few of hip-hop’s wicked and weird stood their ground Wednesday night at 2nd and Blanchard in Seattle. The Crocodile Café became a haven for odd-ball fervent lyrics and animated unconventional beats, as three, mark that, four acts showcased their skills. Headliner Buck 65 didn’t take the stage until quarter to midnight, but in the meantime the crowd was prepped with MC/DJ duo Rudy and the Rhetoric, some untainted spoken word from Bernard Dolan and the scratch gymnastics of Scratch Bastid.

As the crowd began to filter in, U-Distict’s own, Rudy and The Rhetoric set the stage, starting with their new track “Blade Runners” which features another local underground crew, Grayskull. The set dove into the exciting art of zombie hunting as Rhetoric spat “Cut off their heads!” on “Graves Are Empty.” The growing flock really started to feel Rudy’s homespun beats on “Who’s Hearts Are Heavy” and “Amen.” After several shout outs and thank yous to Buck 65 for having them, R&R said their goodbyes and exited stage left.

A new addition to my palate stepped to the mic next. Before jumping into his peculiar rhyming scheme, Bernard Dolan of Rhode Island laid out a monologue concerning the last 38 death defying hours that was his journey from Denver, Colorado. Fighting mountain passes, snow and “hydroplaning” eighteen wheelers, Dolan explained his justified excuse for showing up late to the show. “Not only am I happy to be here, I just won the happy-to-be lottery….” by “kicking death’s ass,” he claimed. With DJ Scratch Bastid on the wheels of steel Dolan made it through one tune before changing his approach to the performance. From that point on, he spat his poetry beat-less. The psyche confronting set was littered with lines of hate and introspection. Dolan presented an alternate analysis of the martyred saint on ”Joan of Arcadia” and followed with a reminder to the masses of what it means to be a real American during his lecture on Evel Knievel. The hook, line and sinker was set when he posed as the unabashed antagonist Bombzo the Clown. Smearing white face paint over his bearded mug Dolan performed a self-proclaimed reverse minstrel show berating the crowd with his acclamation of questionable foreign policy, posing… “you got the biggest dick in the world, you aren’t gonna use it?” It came off like a lecture on the failings of American experience.

Once Dolan had everyone’s senses heightened Scratch Bastid returned asking the audience if they wouldn’t mind suppressing their anticipation for Buck 65, so he could demonstrate the skills that brought him to Skribble Jam in 2007. One spectator shouted “Prove yourself!” Bastid answered, “I love a challenge.” As the Bastid staple “This Shit Is So Damn Hot” spun out of hanging speakers, heads began to bob and feet began boogie. Set highlights included mixing Black Sabbath with Dead Prez, as well as a scratch off between James Brown (or was it Parliament) and Pink Floyd. His turntablist dexterity proved its weight in gold.

Scratch Bastid stuck around as the man behind the beats when Canadian goofball emcee Buck 65 took the stage. Introducing himself as Ricardo (real name Richard Terfry) he leapt right into new track from Strange Famous release Situation (2007), “Dang.” Buck 65 spent much of the first half of the set rattling through several tracks from Situation. Introducing “Shutter Buggin” as a song about “a fat man taking pictures of me,” he took pleasure in miming along with the gruff words spilling from his chops. Part way through the set he told the crowd how to spell success; S-E-X-Y-X, and followed it with a song about a naked woman, “Lipstick.”

Buck 65 dug into some old favorites from 2005’s This Right Here Is Buck 65 during the second half of the set. After “Cries A Girl” the throngs were elated to hear “roses and Bluejays,” but it wasn’t until Buck 65 followed in the a capella footsteps of Dolan for “Wicked and Weird.” He wasn’t grounded to the stage lyrically either. As my brother put it, “Buck can spin too he got behind the tables and scratched the shit out of some tunes.”

His quirky one liners and groovy white man dance moves mingled with the crowd throughout the evening. All of this plus three stimulating opening acts made this night a classic in my book and will most certainly have a place my Top 5 Shows of 2007 list. Thank goodness for last minute entries.

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