Weekend Recap: Harlan Twins, The Walkmen, Nosaj Thing
What a weekend for music! You might disagree and think that some of the upcoming weekends totally take the cake, but as far as my tastes are concerned, it was really a top notch weekend for live tunes! Part of that involved some sacrilegious traveling, but it was for a special occasion, so I ask you turn a blind eye and embrace tha jams.
Friday involved Nik & the Central Plains‘ CD release party with Chet Vincent & the Big Bend and The Harlan Twins. It had been a hot minute since I’d seen The Harlan Twins, so I was especially curious about what they’re all about these days. The last time I saw them was at Hothouse two years ago. What a bust! I’m pretty sure I was one of five people in the audience because the beer tents were directly across from the stage and the lines were so long that nobody had time to do anything else but wait for a beer – so everyone was turned in the other direction. (PS – Hothouse ’10 was way cooler anyway, way to improve!) So yeah, The Harlan Twins rocked it out! I don’t remember them being this fun and lively in the past. They had a certain energy about them – you could tell everyone on stage was genuinely having a good time. For me, it’s important that a band get into their performances. I would rather watch a rampantly wasted performer who gets into what they’re doing than someone whose musicianship is impeccable but plays like they’re at a chemistry lecture. I thought being a musician involved passion? Some people have a funny way of showing it. The Harlan Twins showed it and then some. Can’t wait for their next gig.
After that show, I was in the mood for some bumpin’ and grindin’ so I headed over to New Amsterdam for some DJ action. Little did I know how different that spot has become – Holy Hell! As a former Lawrenceville resident, my friends and I frequented New Am. I could always guarantee a drinking buddy no matter what evening I chose to go. Well, PSH! Not anymore. That place has changed. All politics aside, I was happy to see some familiar faces behind the bar. I’m hoping their french fries are still tasty, but I’ll have to find out another time.
As for the highlight of my weekend – I decided to skip town with the boo and head up to Cleveland to see my favorite band on the planet, The Walkmen. I find this band to be very non-indicative of my musical tastes, as they’re often compared to Bob Dylan -and well, I missed that train entirely. I do not hold the classics in very high regard, unless we’re talking about The Cars and Depeche Mode – I can get into that. Everything about their performance was on-point. The lead singer, Hamilton, sounded amazing. This was my fourth time seeing the band live, and they have never sounded better. I also really enjoyed the venue. House of Blues Cleveland had an awesome staff and great vibe. The bf equated it to the feeling of Mad Mex – “If Mad Mex opened a venue, it would look like this.” Shit was tight.
I got back to the Pgh just in time to catch Starkey and Nosaj Thing at CMU‘s Rangos Ballroom. Did you know Starkey is also the name for a hearing aid/hearing loss products brand? Oh, the irony! It was my first time seeing an unseated show in the ballroom, so I was curious what the event would be like. I knew Nosaj Thing would be more in line with my musical tastes, but wasn’t expecting to enjoy Starkey as much as I did. There were a few comical elements to the evening, which included Starkey’s very off-beat head/shoulder bobbing. I wouldn’t quite call it dancing. I’m amazed he could mix tunes with how off tempo his movements were. He was clearly high on life or hopped up on caffeine, or had one too many chocolate eggs earlier in the day. Dude was hyper. Then there was the nerd dance circle. I knew CMU had an above-average nerd population, but I didn’t know they all liked electronic music, and I certainly didn’t know some of them could break dance. Sure, there were your nerdy kids who looked like they were twitching or doing interpretive dance, but a dance circle emerged and victory was achieved. Even nerds can bust a move from time to time. Nosaj Thing was the highlight for me. He reminded me of a cross between Mux Mool and Onra, but his sampling choices were top notch. He even threw a Portishead tune in that got me all fuzzy and nostalgic. They just don’t make jams like that anymore! Other than the fact this event wasn’t on a night where everyone could get sloppy drunk and let loose a little more – it was a good time. Great job with the bookings lately, CMU. You guys clearly know what’s up.