If you’re looking for some spooky sounds for your next creepy gathering, look no further ghouls and goblins. As a huge Halloween fan, and a horror movie junkie, I’m excited to gear up for this years festivities. And what’s a holiday / celebration / candy binge without the right music? This year the Halloween stars must be aligning for me, since last night I got to meet horror movie guru Wes Craven at the Boston Book Festival!
I’d like to say I had something (anything!) eloquent to say about how The People Under the Stairs was one of the first horror movies I loved or how I grew up watching the Scream franchise, but instead it was just a whole lotta nervous mumbling on my part.
Anyways, here are some songs to keep you feeling sufficiently creepy through the Halloween holiday! Put it on in the background while you carve your pumpkins, get dressed up, and eat much more candy than you should.
When I think of what NPR sounds like, I tend to think of a soft spoken guy talking very calmly. While this might be true in some cases (I’m looking at you Ira Glass) what people might not know is what an amazing resource for new music their website is. The site NPR Music and the blog All Songs Considered both feature a ton of great content, and often give you a chance to listen to new albums.
One of my favorite sections of their site is the Tiny Desk Concerts – a pretty simple concept, bands come into a little corner of the NPR offices, and perform. But the small area and lack of “stage” setup makes for stripped down performances from a variety of bands (many of which you wouldn’t hear on mainstream radio stations).
You can spend a long time browsing the Tiny Desk Concerts site since there are so many posted, but here are a few to get you started: Screaming Females, Ben Gibbard, Shovels and Rope, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. From the ultra weird (see Polyphonic Spree’s holiday concert) to your favorite pub soundtrack (well hello Frank Turner) there’s something for everyone here. Plus, one of my favorite bands of the moment, Grouplove.
And just for good measure- here are indie-folk-favs The Decemberists doing a Tiny Desk Concert:
When you’re a live music fan, you begin to acquire these snapshots of great music moments in your head. The first time you saw your favorite band play, the time they called so-and-so out on stage, the time they came out for a 2nd encore, etc, etc. The Osheaga Music Festival in Montreal was full of moments like that- so I thought I’d list my favorite snapshots from the weekend.
1. The best daytime set ever from Grouplove. You usually don’t expect much from the earlier bands in the day- after all, what rock band is accustomed to playing a show in the early afternoon? But Grouplove was the caffeine that this sun scorched festival crowd needed. I don’t know if it was the fact that their bassist looks like an alternate universe Bill Hader, their crazy dancing, or the full skeleton jumpsuit singer/keyboardist Hannah Hooper was sporting in the 90 degree heat, but I loved everything about this band from beginning to end.
2. Being front row center for Shovels and Rope. Are you listening to this adorable indie country duo yet? You’re not!? I guess you missed my first love letter to them, eh? They are one of my favorite live groups touring right now and at this festival they did not disappoint. Seriously, you need to check them out- after all, if they’re good enough for Jack White . . .
3. Singing along to Frank Turner. The sophie’s choice of festival shows is that you always end up with two bands you love overlapping. In this case, it was Tegan and Sara, playing on the main stage, running into Frank Turner’s set on one of the smaller stages. While Tegan and Sara were great, they were focusing on a lot of their newest album which I just don’t know as well. We decided to take the chance, leave 1/2 way through the set, and book it across the park to the smaller stage for Frank Turner. And I’m beyond glad we did. With songs like “Recovery”, “If Ever I Stray”, and “Losing Days”, Frank Turner somehow managed to make an outdoor stage feel like a pub full of your closest friends all shouting along to the same song. In case you are still squeezing a summer festival into this sliver of summer we have left (may I suggest the Boston Calling Festival?) here are some tips from Frank (and Purevolume) to help you survive.
4. A rainbow comes out during the Silversun Pickups set. We were living in fear of rain for pretty much the entire weekend, but we managed to get away with only getting wet once- when a ten minute rainstorm showed up during Silversun Pickups. The rain managed to clear up during the last 2 songs of the set, at which point a double rainbow showed up. Best encore ever :-)
5. Thousands of people dancing at once on a hill. OK so let me preface this by saying that I never really got the whole Macklemore thing. People LOVE this dude, but I just never really understood it. However, if you have a song with a good beat (I gotta say it, “Thrift Shop”), pretty cool to see a crowd of thousands of people get up all at once and start dancing like they mean it. (Macklemore also brought Tegan and Sara out to sing the female vocal part on “Same Love”, which, I have to admit, was also pretty goosebump inducing.)
6. The Head and the Heart vocal harmony loveliness. Most bands are lucky to have one person with a voice that gives you chills. The Head and the Heart has three.
7. The Lumineers win me over. The great thing about festivals is that they give you a chance to watch bands that you might not be willing to take a chance on otherwise. This is how I felt about The Lumineers when we showed up to watch their set, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t know if it was their southern charm, the song “Flowers in Your Hair”, or the lead singer grabbing a folding chair to head into the middle of the giant crowd, but I have to say, The Lumineers made me a fan.
8. Its cold, its drizzly, there are a million moths flying over our heads, but Beck is playing so who cares? I’ve always wanted to see Beck, but because his ticket prices tend to be out of my price range, I’ve never gotten the chance. Seeing Beck was exactly what I wanted; the set included “Devil’s Haircut”, a cover of “Tainted Love”, “Loser”, and the otherworldly surf rock gem “Gamma Ray”, all played to weird Beck perfection.
9. The Breeders play “Cannonball”. So even if you don’t remember The Breeders, I bet you remember this song:
Let me just say that the 90s comeback craze is more alive in Montreal than anywhere else- nearly every girl there looked like she just stepped off the set of My So-Called Life. If you’re as happy about the 90s revival as I am, you’ll want to start listening to The Breeders again too.
10. Poutine. Its a terrible name, I’ll give you that, but I am really glad that this delicious Canadian junkfood lives so far away, otherwise I’d be sporting a serious cholesterol problem. They do need a new name for this stuff though, how about bowl of delicious gravy goodness? Hmmmmm I’ll keep working on it.
Another summer festival season is nearly over! Did you catch any festivals this summer? Tell us which one in the comments!
This is the 50th post on girlseeksband! And for this week, I’m bringing you a playlist for the open road.
Nothing says summer like a road trip. And what’s a road trip without the perfect soundtrack? In preparation for our drive up to the Osheaga Festival in Montreal next week, I’ve put together a playlist for the ride. My 2002 Honda Accord has clocked a lot of miles in the US – from Massachusetts, to Tennessee, to Washington D.C., to Chicago and beyond- and now I’m happy to say the Honda will officially be crossing the border into another country.
Below are the songs that we’ll be listening to on the way to the great white north. Check it out and bring it along for your next summer adventure!
Long time no talk.
This week I got the chance to reminisce about a band I hadn’t seen in years: Rx Bandits. The last time I saw this band live (which was also the first time I had ever heard them) was at Warped Tour ’03. At that time, the bandits weren’t even making it onto a main stage, instead playing one of the small stages in the parking lot of the Brockton Fairgrounds. I loved them immediately, and bought a copy of Progress that I played to death.
Fast forward 10 years – on another hot summer day, from the second floor of The Paradise in Boston, I watched Rx Bandits play their 2003 album The Resignation from front to back. Although it wasn’t Progress (still my favorite from them) it was part of their peak years at Drive-Thru Records and a great album to watch play out live on stage.
The band’s live show has come along way from a hot parking lot, expanding to include a film reel that plays behind the band. Rx Bandits are a band that has changed gracefully – expanding their sound far beyond their original ska appeal. And while they played a tight set of The Resignation, they gave the sold out crowd a generous encore, including a couple cuts from Progress that left me shouting along from the balcony.
10 years later and the Rx Bandits remain a great summer band – playing with horns but somewhere past ska, political lyrics and trippy guitars but not quite hippie jam music- creating their own corner of the musical world, their own spot in the hot parking lot.
Welcome back seekers!
Once, in a crowded triple-decker in Somerville, I heard someone ask a California transplant, “What’s the difference between west coast girls and Boston girls?”
Without hesitation, he responded, “You don’t have to ask girls from Boston what they think about things- they’ll tell you.”
It’s true- about Bostonians and Massachusetts residents, we’re opinionated. We’re tough. We’re prickly. We’re overly prideful. We’re always right. And we’re full of heart.
I took a sick day on Marathon Monday- and woke up from a groggy nap on the couch just in time to see Matt Napoli hit a double off the green monster and win the game for the Red Sox. It was the kind of Patriot’s Day Massachusetts residents dream about – beautiful, sunny, the sox winning, people from all over gathering to watch the marathon. The kind of day where Emerson students would swarm out of their dorms and make the common their own personal campus green. People would meet at J.P. Licks for ice cream and ice coffee sales at Dunkin Donuts would skyrocket. I remember looking out the window and thinking, “What a beautiful day.”
An hour later, from the safety of my couch, I watched the news with tears running down my face.
When I was younger, I’d make mixtapes to feel better- to soundtrack moments. I guess I still do. Today, when I think about the city where I discovered my love for live music- in places like The Axis, The Avalon, The Middle East- these are the songs I’ll be listening to. Some are predictable, some you’ve heard a million times, but for me there is a comfort in that.
The return of Rilo Kiley! In the girl-fronted-band-full-of-ex-child-actors category, Rilo Kiley has always been one of my favorites. Rather than return with a more rhompus number (think “Smoke Detector” or “15”), Jenny Lewis and Co. have snuck back onto the scene with the soulful melody, “Let Me Back In” which is more reminiscent of the guitars on “Ripchord” combined with the vocals of “Give a Little Love”.