“Behind the Beat: A Social Network” The Grimm Generation – November 24, 2011

“Behind the Beat: A Social Network” The Grimm Generation – November 24, 2011

Album review – Beirut “The Rip Tide” – November 24, 2011

Album review – Beirut “The Rip Tide” – November 24, 2011

Art Alexakis wants to eat your baby, plus other observations from the singer’s stop in the Paradise City

Art Alexakis of Everclear live at the Iron Horse

Art Alexakis of Everclear live at the Iron Horse

Many lessons come with maturity. Some people learn to appreciate the small things. Others learn that control isn’t everything, and that much of life is determined by pure chance. And then there are those who fantasize about infant cannibalism.

Though popularly known as the lead singer and songwriter of alternative rock favorites Everclear, Art Alexakis is one who falls into the latter category. He also apparently has stopped giving a fuck about what people think of him. And the results could not be more entertaining.

Taking the stage at the Iron Horse Music Hall during his solo stop in Northampton Friday, Alexakis, armed only with a pair of acoustic guitars and his wit, quickly won over the assembled crowd by expounding at length about the various philosophies he has established as he’s gotten older.

Whether extolling the virtues of a simple, well-placed “fuck you” or pondering the thought of violence against certain “whiny bands/ bandmates” that he’s currently planning to tour with, the charismatic frontman had many in the intimate setting rolling in the aisles as often as they were singing along to tunes they know and love.

Opening his roughly hour-long concert with the short track “Song From an American Movie,” Alexakis was almost instantly thrust into the joking rapport between performer and audience that would define the remainder of his show. One phrase in particular that soon caught on with those in attendance was the risqué retort of, “I’ll eat your baby.”

“You know how babies smell so good when they’re little and how they look?” Alexakis said. “Sometimes I just want to tear one of their legs off and eat it…Yeah, fuck you. I’ll eat your baby.”

Now approaching 50, the rocker responsible for such songs as “Heroin Girl” and “Sex With a Movie Star” was also about more than just comedic shock value.

Before introducing the hit number “Father of Mine,” he preached about the satisfaction he got from repeatedly denying his father as a friend on Facebook. And later in the night, he spent some time reflecting on the challenges of raising two daughters.

Art Alexakis liveStill, most of those who huddled in from the cold outside were there for the music. And Alexakis didn’t disappoint, playing nearly a dozen stripped-down Everclear songs during his performance, including little-heard gems such as “Loser Makes Good” and “Portland Rain.” Mention was even made of upcoming releases of past material like an early record from Alexakis’ previous band Colorfinger and a 20th-anniversary edition of the Everclear disc Sparkle and Fade.

“Yeah, I’m going to milk that for what it’s worth,” Alexakis said about the anniversary re-issue with a laugh.

However, all talk of future projects aside, perhaps the most entertaining display of the night came during Alexakis’ encore or as he referred to it, “the Surly Jukebox.”

After closing his main set with grunge-like anthem “Santa Monica” (a song that “bought me a couple of houses and a few divorces…both of which I enjoyed,” Alexakis said), the floor was opened up for requests, many of which were rejected, while others were strung together into a makeshift medley.

A snippet of “The Swing” featured a young man named Chris who was encouraged to dance on stage. And “Local God” provided the opportunity for several ladies to shake their groove things to the accompanying music.

Finally, after more back and forth with excited hecklers and portions of songs like “AM Radio” and “The Gay Bar Song,” the time came to end the festivities with a good old-fashioned sing-along. Dragging out the classic Band cut “The Weight,” Alexakis worked those in attendance like a choir director as the tune’s hearty chorus gained new life with the addition of dozens of voices.

Watch video of Art Alexakis covering the Band song “The Weight” as the finale to his performance at the Iron Horse Music Hall here:

A touching moment for sure, and one tempered by the knowledge that just because we all have to grow up sometime that doesn’t mean we can’t do so without picking up a few fun tactics to employ along our way.

Now where’s my olive oil? I got a hankering for something young and sweet.

But first…

While popularly known for playing locally on the streets of Northampton, opening act the Coyote Choir provided a too short 30+ minute set that highlighted the enchanting harmonies of band members Paul Gelineau (guitar, vocals) and Tim Desrosiers (accordion, vocals). Material like “La, La, La” from the group’s self-released record created easy to follow sing-along moments. And new songs like “Stars” and “How Long” showed great promise of what the duo might soon deliver through their future work. Definitely a pair to watch.

For more information on Art Alexakis and Everclear, or to see future tour dates please visit www.everclearonline.com.

*Also, Northeast Underground will be going on vacation this week to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. So, don’t forget to follow us on YouTube and Twitter in our absence. And we’ll be back in December…or as soon as the tryptophan wears off.*

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Album review – Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks “Mirror Traffic” – November 17, 2011

Album review – Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks “Mirror Traffic” – November 17, 2011

‘Clown suit and sock puppets,’ Art Alexakis of Everclear brings his less-serious side to the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton

Art Solo 2010

Art Alexakis of Everclear (Photo courtesy of Iron Horse Entertainment Group)

Back in the mid-to late‘90s, alternative rock gems like “Santa Monica,” “Father of Mine,” and “Wonderful” were almost inescapable forces on radio stations across the U.S.

Merging the last fading strains of grunge with ‘70s hard rock and pop, the songs became hits and brought Everclear the band responsible for such tracks widespread popularity and acclaim.

Now in 2011, the leader of Everclear and sole remaining member from the group’s heyday, Art Alexakis is heading back out on the road for a solo tour that stops in Northampton on Friday.

Fortunately, the Underground was able to catch up with Alexakis as he prepared for his trek to the East Coast and asked him his thoughts on performing without the rest of his band, playing for U.S. troops overseas, and what fans can expect at his show in the Paradise City.

Underground: First off, what led to this recent solo tour? You’ve been pretty busy with your band Everclear releasing both Return to Santa Monica in September and with another new record already due to come out early next year.

Art Alexakis: I’ve always done solo tours after completing a record. It gives me a chance to take the songs out for a test drive. It’s what it all comes down to, a voice, a guitar and a song. I’ll continue to do it until I probably don’t want to play music anymore.

What’s it like to perform without the band backing you up?

It’s both exciting and kinda scary. Exciting in the sense that I have the freedom to basically play the song in any way I want to and I also have the chance to tell stories and anecdotes and move at my own pace. It’s scary in a sense to not be able to hide behind loud guitars and so if you forget the lyrics when you’re going solo, there’s nowhere to hide.

How would describe the audience reaction to your solo shows as opposed when you play with a full group?

Probably just as raucous and intense in a more intimate way, if that makes sense. It’s easier to heckle and heckle people back, which is always great fun. It’s much easier to hear people sing along when you’re all by yourself with a guitar.

What was your first impression upon playing a concert for U.S. troops overseas? You’re known as a big supporter of America’s armed forces, having played in Iraq in 2008 and in Guantanamo Bay for the soldiers stationed there as well.

The first time I played for troops overseas was in 2005, we played a bunch of bases in Southeast Asia and Japan. I had never been on a military base before and I found it very welcoming and very exciting to be able to play for people who were so far away from home and looked at us as a taste of home. It was something to help them do what they are there to do which is to serve and protect the United States – which even though I have been a huge opponent of both Afghan and Iraq wars, I have always been a big proponent of our troops and whatever it takes to take care of them while they serve our country.

What are your plans regarding any future political or public service performances? 2012 is an election year after all, and you played at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

I don’t have any plans but am open to any invitation from anyone on the progressive tip that has a cause that I believe in. I’m not in a place where I can write big checks right now but I can always pick up a guitar and go play for somebody.

Watch Art in the official video for Everclear’s song “Wonderful” here:

What is some advice you would like to share with aspiring artists and musicians?

Be careful what you ask for (laughs). The only advice I offer anybody who is passionate about what they do is that under the caveat that you are truly focused and passionate and believe in yourself and what you do, don’t ever give up. Ever. Because if you don’t give up you might not win but if you DO give up, you will not win.

How about some words of warning?

Try to bring your own food whenever possible and insist on modern plumbing.

Finally, what might fans expect from your show at the Iron Horse Music hall in Northampton, Mass. on November 18?

They can expect me to play pretty much all Everclear songs including one or two new ones.I will tell stories and do what I usually do, which is not taking myself seriously but taking my music and my performance very seriously.

What might they not expect?

Clown suit and sock puppets.

Art Alexakis with openers Coyote Choir performs Nov. 18, 10 p.m., $15-18, Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton, (413) 586-8686, www.iheg.com/iron_horse_main.asp.

For more information on Art or to see future tour dates please visit www.everclearonline.com.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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Noel Gallagher wows Boston crowd with strong Wang Theater show

 

Noel GallagherEven hours before his performance, one didn’t need a detective to deduce that former Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher was the undisputed king of Boston, Mass. Saturday.

Though scheduled to play a concert at the Wang Theater, Gallagher’s name was being spoken in pockets all over the city long before he ever played a note. And for evidence, nowhere was this observation more clearly made then at venerable downtown nightspot/ renowned local dive bar The Tam (short for Tam ‘o shanter, a form of Scottish cap).

Popularly known for its cheap drinks and dimly-lit atmosphere, the Tam also became a temporary home to a motley collection of Gallagher fans, Oasis supporters, and soccer rooters thanks to its convenient location just a few hundred feet from the Wang.

In between thick accents and the occasional thicker brew, one Gallagher-penned track after another pounded its way out from the pub jukebox as a prelude to the rapidly-approaching gig down the street. And frequent bouts of crowd-led singing could be heard emanating from the back of the bar as spirits and anticipation were raised higher with every outstretched pint glass.

Surely, if this was only the beginning of the night, then what could a prospective audience member expect from the forthcoming show itself?

Well, that question didn’t take long to be answered as Gallagher and his band of “High Flying Birds” were greeted by raucous cheers and a standing-room only crowd during their punctual arrival on stage at 8:30 p.m.

Opening their set with the former Oasis b-side “(It’s Good) To Be Free,” the moment didn’t require too much imagination to speculate that Gallagher has already started to grow into his reluctant role as a frontman.

After the opening number, the Manchester-native who is affectionately-known as “The Chief,” even bantered good-naturedly back and forth with those nearest in the orchestra pit before calling out “This one’s called ‘Mucky Fingers’ for that man right there,” and then launching into the track from Oasis’ 2005 release Don’t Believe the Truth.

Yet, the overall purpose of the show wasn’t just about nostalgia and classic material. Once through with “Mucky Fingers,” Gallagher quickly shifted gears and hit his stride playing six new songs in a row including popular b-side “The Good Rebel” and the still unreleased “Freaky Teeth.”

A massive light show and projection screen displayed behind the group accentuated the action with wild strobes and pixilated scenes of quiet houses, country landscapes, and portions of Gallagher’s trilogy of currently available music videos. But for the most part such theatrics were unneeded, as those in attendance raised their arms and sung along in unison to every word regardless of the sights, and despite the fact that the album Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was only released in the U.S. on November 8.

As a band, the HFB’s ably backed up Noel with drummer Jeremy Stacey keeping a steady beat all night even though he resembled a “droog” straight out of Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange.” However, some later moments were marred by poor-sounding organ shrieks, which while frustrating did little to derail the overall momentum of the concert.

Finally, after closing the main set with “(Stranded On) the Wrong Beach,” which features an appropriate chorus of “So long baby, bye bye,” Gallagher and company returned once again to pick up their instruments for a three-song encore.

Opening with the one-two punch of “Little by Little” and “The Importance of Being Idle,” Gallagher was almost drowned out by the enthusiastic sing-along of the finale “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” One excited fan even jumped on stage during the number and bowed in homage to his hero before being quickly chased by security.

Watch Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds perform “Don’t Look Back in Anger” live in Boston, Mass. here:

Another breathtaking venue and a great gig. Really great atmosphere,” Gallagher wrote in his tour diary after the show. “What a wonderful crowd. They sang their hearts out. Good gear.”

And the party didn’t end there. As the masses filed happily out into the night, still more singing erupted on the sidewalk outside the venue with complete strangers linking arms to sway together.

“He pointed at me! Did you see that?” One particular fan could be heard exclaiming excitedly to his friends. “Noel!”

Such a small token of acknowledgement, but for that one lone soul and the many others who were in attendance the memories will continue to “Live Forever.”

***

Earlier in the evening, fellow English rockers the Hoursreceived a subdued response during their almost 40 minute set, which consisted of a mere seven songs. A throbbing bass-heavy beat dominated most numbers with electric guitar and keyboard flourishes straining to be heard over the low end and vocalist Antony Genn. However occasional asides to the crowd like, “This song’s about growing up someplace shit,” or “This one’s for Scully,” kept the audience suitably entertained until Noel and company took the stage only a short 20 minutes later.

For more information on Noel Gallagher or to see future tour dates please visit www.noelgallagher.com.

Also, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds landing at Boston’s Wang Theater

NoelgallagherhighflyingbirdsNoel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

(Sour Mash/ Mercury)

Forget about flying south for the winter. Instead, Noel Gallagher former Oasis linchpin and lead songwriter is bringing his act stateside with an appearance at Boston’s Wang Theater on Saturday.

Touring behind the release of his debut solo album Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Gallagher will be performing his second-ever U.S. show as a solo artist. And fans in the commonwealth will be treated to a set filled with not only new material, but also classic Brit-pop staples such as “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” “Wonderwall,” “The Importance of Being Idle” and many more.

While beaten to the shops by the other members of Oasis, who released their own record Different Gear, Still Speeding under the Beady Eye moniker in February, Gallagher’s latest effort is a considerably more polished release and one that nearly doubled the sales figures accumulated by Beady Eye when comparing each disc’s first week on the U.K. charts.

Co-produced by Gallagher and former Oasis producer Dave Sardy, NGHFB’s features contributions by The Lemon Trees drummer Jeremy Stacey, percussionist Lenny Castro and even the massive sounds of the Crouch End Festival Chorus on the album-opening “Everybody’s on the Run,” a number Gallagher has described as “the last postcard from the Oasis years.”

First single “The Death of You and Me” cleverly includes a welcome horn section, and later tracks “AKA…What A Life!” and “Stop the Clocks” take turns dabbling in genres like dance music and psychedelic rock respectively.

Watch the official video for the Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds song “AKA…What A Life!” here:

Though comparisons to his former band are inevitable and indeed will likely be commented on ad infinitum by the world press, perhaps the most notable aspect of Gallagher’s latest work is his ability to keep experimenting where a lesser artist would be content to stick with the same formula that has proven so successful over the years.

Fortunately for those lucky enough to be in attendance Saturday, the continued growth by such a revered elder statesman of rock ‘n’ roll has already unearthed some very interesting results. And with a second album to be released in 2012 also in production, there’s certainly more songs yet to come.

Personally, I can’t wait Chief. Leave Liam on the sidelines and show the world what Big Brother can do.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds with openers The Hours perform Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m., $35-75, Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St., Boston, (617) 482-9393, www.citicenter.org/theatres/wang/.

For more information on Noel Gallagher or to see future tour dates please visit www.noelgallagher.com.

***

Don’t forget to celebrate Veteran’s Day on Friday. Thank a soldier and let the troops know how much we appreciate everything they’re doing for us overseas. And then when you’re finished with your Armed Forces lovefest, throw up the Devil horns and get ready to rock.

November 11, 2011 has been unofficially dubbed National Metal Day by VH1. And in honor of one of the greatest metal gods of all time, a separate movement has also been started to coin Friday Nigel Tufnel Day, in honor of the infamous Spinal Tap guitarist who likes to turn his amps up just one more to…you guessed it…11.

So go ahead, spend the day giving everything you do that little extra push over the top. You may not ever be able to play a solo quite like Tufnel, but there certainly couldn’t be a better day to try.

Also, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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