Commodities of the Abstract Sort

a hopefully-less-pretentious-than-other-pretentious-music-blogs music blog

Final Fantasy Tuesday October 23, 2007

Filed under: Canadian,misc. good non-local music,show review — Kayla @ 10:48 pm

final fantasy


Seriously you guys, you need to go see Final Fantasy live.  He’s definitely one of the most awe-inspiring live performers I’ve seen.  He uses a looping pedal like Andrew Bird, but where Andrew Bird has Martin Dosh to take care of a lot of the looping work for him Owen Pallet has…himself.  At one point he had put down 3 or 4 violin tracks and then moved to the piano where he simultaneously played piano and reached his leg halfway across the stage to hit the looping pedal all while staying in perfect time.  As someone who can barely walk and chew gum at the same time this was pretty impressive.  For most of the show there was a woman sitting at an overhead projector moving different pictures and colored transparencies across the screen.  It was really hard to decide what to watch, the pretty pictures or the feats of coordination.  Between songs he told us about how he has recently developed a stutter and how he thinks Seattle is very passive aggressive (finally, someone said it!). 


The opener was Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon.  I thought this was a strange choice, they don’t exactly draw the same crowd.  People were a little confused and reluctant at first, but he managed to get the crowd going by the 2nd or 3rd song.  I’m not a rap fan, but I really enjoyed his set because it was so totally different than anything else I’ve ever experienced.  I’m also fascinated by DJs (as in the kind that use turntables and a mixer, not the radio kind) and he had one, DJ Weasel, who was wearing an I {heart} weasel shirt.  This is probably the only time I will be able to experience live hip hop because let’s face it, I could never just go to a hip-hop show because I’m really not cool enough. 


An added ridiculous bonus to this show: for a lot of it I was standing next to Smoosh and little sister of Smoosh.  This was almost as exciting as that time I saw Ben Gibbard wearing incredibly large glasses and a hat in the back of a Shins show while I was walking out (yes I did, shut up, I’m not making it up).


[mp3] Final Fantasy-The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead


[mp3] Stars-Your Ex-Lover is Dead (Final Fantasy mix)

This is a Final Fantasy remix of a Stars song.  It is 394,929,294 times better than the original and arguably the prettiest song in existence


[mp3] Cadence Weapon-Sharks (with Final Fantasy)

This is a live recording of Cadence Weapon and Final Fantasy on CBC Radio.  The violin melody is actually from Andrew Bird, but played by Final Fantasy, which is a little weird.  I love how it sounds so different from its original context yet fits so well.


Final Fantasy Official Site | Buy He Poos Clouds | Cadence Weapon Myspace | Buy Breaking Kayfabe


Tour dates after the break



Bumbershoot 2007 Tuesday September 4, 2007

Filed under: Local,show review — Kayla @ 11:26 pm

Bumbershoot title card

Here are a lot of my pictures from Bumbershoot. It was my first time using a digital camera (I know, I know, what can I say? I love my circa 1986 manual SLR), so they aren’t fabulous, I also don’t know how to compress them without making them all blurry. Maybe I’ll get better? Maybe someone would like to educate me in the ways of digital photography? Maybe I should just go hide in my dark room and continue to shun the digital revolution? I don’t know, but I took all these pictures so I’m damn well going to use them.


The Shins

They were good, but they would have been better if the crowd hadn’t decided that they were appropriate crowd-surfing music. Come on…The Shins, really? My friend Jessica who was with me on Saturday is convinced that James Mercer looks like Kevin Spacey. I think she’s mistaken because Kevin Spacey is creepy and James Mercer is adorable.







Menomena were my favorite act of Saturday, but it kind of seemed like they were holding back. I’ve never seen them live before, but from reading other reviews of their live shows that seems to be the case. They had a choir for some reason, it was weird. You couldn’t really hear it at all, but they were kind of entertaining. I think they would have added a lot more if the sound guys had known what to do with them, I look forward to seeing Menomena in a non-festival setting at some point. Jessica was really excited about them even though she had only heard one song before. This kind of surprised me because I didn’t really think she would like them, but apparently it is actually physically impossible to not like Menomena








Other people I saw but the pictures didn’t turn out:


Tiny Vipers: They were TERRIBLE. They didn’t talk at all, they played like 5 songs in an hour set all of which were 3+ minutes of the same line repeated over and over, and the lead singer seemed angry and hostile toward the crowd. As Jessica said when we were walking out, “I think I may have just meditated for an hour.”


Devotchka: They were AWESOME. Their violin/accordion player was insanely amazing, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone play accordion so fast. Their drummer was also really good, and their bass player doubled on sousaphone (essentially the same thing as a tuba). Throughout the show the lead singer was waving his arms around in front of this thing that looked like an old-timey radio and it took me a while to realize that it was a theremin. I can’t possibly think of a weirder combination of instruments, but when put together they make for a really engaging and unique sound.



The Apples in Stereo

They were kind of disappointing, but I can’t really explain why. I wanted to like them and care about their set, but I really didn’t. For some reason on Sunday the Broad Street stage, where they performed was overwhelmingly loud, so that may have contributed to it. I was also a bit confused as to why random keyboard guy #1 was the only one dressed up like a member of Of Montreal. On the plus side, I found myself in a picture of this set on Pitchfork, so that was exciting.





Ian Ball


You may recognize him from Gomez. I caught the end of his set because I was trying to get a good spot for Andrew Bird. He was alright, your basic generic indie blah-ness. I felt kind of sorry for him because there wasn’t really anyone there for him, only people waiting for Andrew Bird. He was very good at banter though and he definitely wins best quote of Bumbershoot with, “so who wants to hear a song about premature ejaculation?”


Ian Ball2


Andrew Bird

Hands down the best set of Bumbershoot, but that was to be expected. I’ve seen him 3 times in less than a year and I would still shell out obscene amounts of money to see him again. Sometimes I wonder if I really want to spend the rest of my life working in the music industry as is my plan now, and Andrew Bird is the person who convinces me that yes, yes I do want to do this thing that everyone I know thinks is insane and unfeasible because people like him exist and the world needs to know about them. That would probably be really creepy to him, so, sorry Andrew Bird. Don’t worry, I’m not going to like, come to your house and steal your panties or anything I just think your pretty awesome. Aaanyway, his set was amazing as always, but not as good as when I saw him a few months ago in Portland. First off, there was a barrier so even though I was in the front row, I was still like 20 ft. away from the stage, and that’s just annoying. Also, he didn’t have his weird spinney phonograph things for some reason. These were extremely minor things though and this set was still better than 95% of concerts I’ve been to. Can we just talk about how brilliant the combination of Dr. Stringz and Fake Palindromes is? (dangling preposition alert!) Because seriously, it’s the second time I’ve heard him play it and both times it’s been the highlight of my life.


Andrew Bird4


Andrew Bird8-1


Andrew Bird9

(I’m kind of in love with Martin Dosh because he has an abnormally large head)


Andrew Bird 3


I was also randomly picked to be interviewed for the Seattle PI on this day mostly because I was by myself and eating really bad Phad Thai on the grass in front of the giant fountain. I got all flustered and just blathered on about Devotchka’s theremin and how awesome the Flatstock poster convention was, so they probably didn’t use it, but I haven’t been able to check because I don’t know where to get the PI.




I didn’t take any pictures Monday because I only really went to two things: Miranda July (no cameras allowed) and Ted Leo (too far away to take anything decent).


Miranda July was incredibly enchanting and all-around awesome. She talked about her Learning to Love You More project and then ran an auction of mundane objects collected from the audience before the show which included a coin purse and an exceedingly dull pair of scissors owned by this really awesome high-school-age girl who looked exactly like Myla Goldberg. With the money collected from the auction ($160) Miranda created a “grant” and asked us all to close our eyes and then told us that whomever felt that they would significantly benefit from receiving $160 to raise their hand. Then she walked into the audience and handed it to someone anonymously. If you have no idea who the hell I’m talking about you need to go rent You and Me and Everyone We Know RIGHT NOW and watch it.


I only caught about half an hour of Ted Leo because he overlapped with Miranda July, but the little bit I saw was amazing. He had so much energy on stage and he was really feeding off the energy of the crowd. He declared it “funnest show in a long while” and came out to do a solo encore after they had already turned on the “show’s over, nothing to see here, move along” music. I am definitely filing him away in my “people I want to see” list for future reference. He was the perfect ender because as my companion for that day said, “I didn’t have to pretend to like him.”


I also saw maybe a third of Siberian because we had nothing else to do and they were the only act we had heard of besides Viva Voce who we had both previously seen and were not especially impressed with. They were pretty boring, they were trying hard to “rock” but it seemed so forced and fake. The lighting in Sky Church was pretty awesome though, and it was inside which=air conditioning so it wasn’t all bad.


So, all in all, a good Bumbershoot experience. The lineup was better last year, but I can’t complain, because any weekend spent entirely on going to shows is a weekend well spent.


Show Review: Andrew Bird at The Crystal Ballroom, Portland Oregon Sunday May 6, 2007

Filed under: show review — Kayla @ 8:56 pm



Let me just start off by saying that Andrew Bird is probably the most talented indie musician alive today. He exudes musicality in a way that no other indie performer I’ve ever seen does and I suspect this comes from his classical violin training. Watching him perform live feels the slightest bit voyeuristic, when he plays the violin sections of his songs it feels like you are watching him practice unbeknownst to him. He paces around the stage with this intense look on his face like he doesn’t realize that he is standing in front of 600 people. I didn’t get the feeling that he was just going through the motions of performing, he was genuinely invested in the songs and it showed in his intensity. I was also amazed at how seemlesly he works with his drummer/keyboard/various other instruments player, Martin Dosh. They worked largely independently, with only a few sideways glances to start songs off, yet it was so tight that it sounded like one person playing everything.


The setlist was mostly from Armchair Apocrypha, with a few highlights from The Mysterious Production of Eggs such as Skin Is, My and Fake Palindromes. He also played Why, which I’m pretty sure is something he only plays live. That song was fascinating to watch because it involved intricate looping of himself playing violin, he recorded at least 3 different tracks to play back and each had to match up exactly. The first time he tried this people clapping screwed up his counting and he politely asked them to stop before trying again and nailing it. Fake Palindromes was the highlight of the night for me because he led into it with Dr. Stringz. A very small percentage of the audience realized how awesome this was, but it was nonetheless. Other highlights included Sythian Empires, which he said was his favorite song off the new album, and the fact that shortly after taking the stage he took off his shoes to reveal mismatched (but to his credit, both striped) socks.


The other thing that made this concert so incredibly amazing was the crowd. I don’t know why I don’t go to more concerts is Portland, I have never encountered a more polite audience. I was in the front row and I had enough room to put my hands on my hips and spin in a circle without taking out the people around me. There were no hoardes of thirteen-year-old girls with massive purses shoving their way to the front (why does a thirteen-year-old need a purse that big? What do they have in there? Lip gloss? It’s not like they have keys and checkbooks and planners to carry around) or creepy skinny hipster boys standing just a little too close for comfort and I didn’t come home drenched in other people’s sweat. Another anomaly: we got there an hour early and there were 3 other people in line…3 people. If we had been in Seattle we would have been behind a two-thirds of the crowd an hour before the show (when I saw The Shins the people at the front of the line had been sitting in the pouring rain for FIVE HOURS by the time the doors opened). Seattle needs to take a page out of Portland’s book and chill out a little bit, it makes for a much more enjoyable concert-going experience.


ETA: I got a recording of the whole concert. It’s got pretty good sound and all his talking is still in there. Here’s the link:

[zip] Andrew Bird Live at The Crystal Ballroom 5-4-07