Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Lone Bellow with Odessa

Monday, February 23, 2015

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

*If you are strapped for time, the short version of this post is that The Lone Bellow is my favorite band and their live show is the most passionate, heartfelt experience you’ll be lucky enough to be part of. Read their deeply personal biography in this intimate Josh Jackson feature in Paste Magazine for context. Watch this Lone Bellow concert filmed by Front Row Boston, or, better yet, just trust me and go see them in person!*

What a beautiful day! My friend Colin asked me to join him for a private concert with The Lone Bellow (TLB) at 98.9 WCLZ’s Studio Z in the afternoon and we were back in front of the stage at Port City Music Hall just a couple of hours later to see their full show. We chatted briefly with the band, too, (which I normally avoid) and they were down to earth and grateful we liked their music so much. Phew. That’s gone badly before.

Colin and I grabbed a delicious dinner at Empire and hurried back to PCMH to be there when the doors opened. It was 3 degrees. And there was a line outside. We grabbed a spot behind a couple of women front and center named Bobbie and Abra who happen to write TreeToGrow.com, a Lone Bellow fan site. I started chatting with Dave and Kathy who were standing right behind me when they mentioned the Arcade Fire show I’d missed in Bangor this summer while I was driving cross-country. They mentioned that they live in Farmingdale and then a woman standing near us leaned in to say she and her husband live there, too. It turns out that Kelly and her husband Joe are both teachers and that Kelly’s dad and I worked together for over a decade at Mt. Ararat High School. Another woman standing on my other side overheard me mention Mt. Ararat and told me that she attended and then taught at Brunswick High School and we compared names and know a lot of the same people. I mention all of this because it was such a lovely experience and true to what the best possible concert experience can be when you find yourself surrounded by people because of music and find other things you have in common. I have a handful of friends who I only know because of our shared interest in music (Colin included), and I really appreciate the power of music to connect people.

The lights dimmed and Odessa took the stage. Odessa played electric guitar and was joined by two female musicians—one on bass and the other on guitar and lap steel guitar. Odessa’s voice was light and airy and their harmonies were strong, especially on “Hummed Low.” “I Will Be There” was definitely the standout of their set. Their short opening set was quite mellow and I would have loved some audience interaction. Check out this feature on Odessa—the “Best of What’s Next” in Paste Magazine for some background.

Odessa

Odessa

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Set up for The Lone Bellow’s set went quickly and they took the stage just after 9 PM and opened (appropriately) with “Cold As It Is.” Next up was “Then Came The Morning,” which is hymn-like with beautiful harmonies. Kanene talked about the song during their Studio Z performance earlier and mentioned that the woman on the cover of the album embodies the theme of the song because despite whatever she faces she gets up every morning and does her hair and makeup and goes to breakfast at the same diner. Something I appreciate about TLB is the depth and honesty of their lyrics. Consider the lyrics to “Then Came The Morning”—“Take my words, breathe them out like smoke/Burn every single letter that I wrote/Let the pages turn to ash, I don’t want them back/Everything you always said to me/Starts to sound like broken glass on streets/Spread out all over places where I sleep/Now you finally left me/Done with all your lying/Joy comes in the morning/You won’t see me crying.” The Lone Bellow doesn’t shy away from the hurt. They embrace it, reflect on it, and lift it up so the listener can share in it with them and feel a little better because we can relate. It’s a rawness—a realness, truth—that pervades their music and makes it genuine and compelling.

This is how Zach Willams welcomed us. Clapping on top of the monitor while leaning over the crowd. Such a great stage presence.

This is how Zach Willams welcomed us. Clapping on top of the monitor while leaning over the crowd. Such a great stage presence.

Brian Elmquist, Zach Williams, and Kanene Pipkin of The Lone Bellow

Brian Elmquist, Zach Williams, and Kanene Pipkin of The Lone Bellow

Justin Glasco on drums

Justin Glasco on drums

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The playful side of The Lone Bellow

The playful side of The Lone Bellow

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Husband and wife Jason and Kanene Pipkin

Husband and wife Jason and Kanene Pipkin

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Zach joined us in the crowd a number of times

Zach joined us in the crowd a number of times

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Did anyone else notice that TLB played nearly every song they’ve ever recorded for us? I took a look at the set list Colin posted online and they only left five of their songs off the night’s set list. Talk about giving it everything you’ve got. They got the crowd clapping and singing along during “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” from their self-titled debut album and then brought it right down with a trio of slow songs—“Call To War,” “Watch Over Us,” and “Two Sides of Lonely.” “Call To War” features Kanene’s lush, raspy voice and it is definitely my favorite on Then Came The Morning. “Watch Over Us” is transcendent. You can always hear a pin drop in the room when Brian, Zach, and Kanene stand around a single microphone and belt that heart-wrenching, beautiful song.

"Watch Over Us"

“Watch Over Us”

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Zach was charming as always and kept the audience engaged even between songs. He said they’d gone to Becky’s Diner and he’d eaten the nine-pound omelet called the Titanic. Someone shouted out that they should try Marcy’s Diner and he asked if Becky and Marcy are friends or if they’re in a fight over a fisherman.

98.9 WCLZ has played TLB’s “You Never Need Nobody” for a long while now, and the sold out crowd at PCMH was thrilled to hear it live. Kanene stunned (as always) on “Button.” Zach talked about working with Aaron Dessner from The National on their latest album at Dreamland Studio in Woodstock, New York. If you think you hear gospel influence in their music, you certainly do—and the album was recorded in a converted church for good measure.

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Zach introduced the band—including Kanene’s husband Jason Pipkin (“the only man in the band with elbow pads, so he could slip and fall and it would be no problem”) and new drummer Justin Glasco—and got into some 80s references about shoulder pads and they broke out into Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True” for a hot second. TLB wrapped their high-energy, leave-it-all-on-the-stage set with “Take My Love” and the crowd went wild. The energy was palpable. TLB came back to wow us a bit more with “Tree to Grow” and “Teach Me to Know.” Zach took a long pause towards the end of “Tree to Grow” and there was silence in the packed room. It’s incredible to see a band be able to draw a crowd in like that. We enthusiastically sang along on the “carried away” refrain of “Teach Me to Know” as the magical night came to an end.

Zach giving us the thumbs up at the end of the night

Zach giving us the thumbs up at the end of the night

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The Lone Bellow is my favorite band and this was a dream of a night. Thank to you everyone, especially the band, for such a wonderful evening.

xo,

bree

 

Here are other posts I’ve written about The Lone Bellow:

June 2013 at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA

November 2013 at Port City Music Hall in Portland, Maine

February 2014 at Portsmouth Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

July 2014 at South Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

February 2015 in Studio Z at Port City Music Hall in Portland, Maine

 

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Studio Z: The Lone Bellow

Monday, February 23, 2015

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I was THRILLED when my friend Colin invited me to join him to see my very favorite band, The Lone Bellow, at 98.9 WCLZ’s intimate Studio Z at Port City Music Hall. It was quite the treat to get to see them up close and personal with such a small group of fans. Zach Williams even reached down from the stage to introduce himself to me and shake my hand before the show.  They played four songs for us:

“Then Came the Morning”

“Call to War” (Featuring Kanene on vocals—this is my favorite song on the new album)

“Watch Over Us” (Featuring Brian on vocals—this is my favorite song to see performed live)

“Take My Love”

98.9 WCLZ's Studio Z with The Lone Bellow

98.9 WCLZ’s Studio Z with The Lone Bellow at Port City Music Hall

Brian Elmquist, Zach Williams, and Kanene Pipkin of The Lone Bellow

Brian Elmquist, Zach Williams, and Kanene Pipkin of The Lone Bellow

Zach Williams

Zach Williams

98.9 WCLZ host Brian Farrell asked the band well-researched questions that would be a great introduction to the band if you don’t know them (which could mean you’ve been ignoring me raving about them for two years). His questions addressed their history as a group to their incredible live performance to their album art for their latest release Then Came The Morning. You can listen to the whole Studio Z performance. I’ll add the video when it’s posted next week. The band also graciously chatted with all of us and posed for photos as well. I don’t usually like to meet people whose music I care so much about, but they were sincere and kind and grateful for our support of their music.

I’d seen The Lone Bellow live four amazing times before this, but it was such a pleasure to get to see them in such a personal, unique way. Thanks to The Lone Bellow for being so lovely, to Colin for inviting me, to 98.9 WCLZ for putting it together, and to Port City Music Hall for hosting. I am rarely starstruck, but this got to me and I smiled ridiculously for hours afterwards!

xo,

bree

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London Grammar with Until The Ribbon Breaks

Saturday, January 24, 2015

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

Please pardon the delay. I have been snowed in for far too many days now. Seriously—FOUR of the last FIVE weekdays until today were snow days. My will to do anything productive has been zapped for a week now. I’ve shoveled, had tea and watched The Wire. Rinse and repeat. I was SO ready to leave the house this morning even though the roads were horrendous. I’d missed my students. I also don’t want to shovel again. Ever.

I was so excited when I saw that Britain’s London Grammar was coming to Portland. I’d seen them on KEXP and was BLOWN AWAY. Their show had been pushed from July to maybe October and then moved to the State Theatre in January. A lot of us had great expectations and had waited more than half a year to see them live. They were well worth the wait.

I’m glad Colin and I made it early to the State after an amazing Hey Rosetta! show at One Longfellow Square and got a good spot for show opener Until The Ribbon Breaks. I’d come across them on NPR a couple of weeks before the show with a first listen of their new album, A Lesson Unlearnt. It’s lyrically heavy and more electronic than I tend towards, but it’s an interesting and layered piece. Seeing UTRB was similarly theatrical and intense. Pete Lawrie-Winfield is a strong front man and the videos played in the background throughout their set made it a complete, dramatic experience. Pete experienced a myriad of tech issues on stage that keyboardist/bassist/vocalist James Gordon fixed for him a number of times. It added a bit of levity to their set.

Until The Ribbon Breaks

Until The Ribbon Breaks

Pete Lawrie-Winfield

Pete Lawrie-Winfield

James Gordon

James Gordon

Elliot Wall

Elliot Wall

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Sophie and Kate arrived and found us in time for UK electronic pop trio London Grammar’s set. They were both strangers to London Grammar’s music, so I loved seeing their faces light up as they processed just what a treat they were in for. Sophie’s eyes widened as she mouthed “HOLY CRAP!” to me early on in the first song. That’s the London Grammar effect. Hannah Reid can’t be 25 years old yet, but her voice is ethereal and captivating. Hannah, Dan Rothman (guitar), and Dominic Major (keyboard/percussion) met early on while students at University of Nottingham and released their first EP in February of 2013. Their first full-length album, If You Wait, dropped in September of 2013. I was especially happy to hear “Hey Now” and “Strong” live. Everyone in London Grammar seemed humble and approachable. They interacted comfortably with the crowd and genuinely thanked us for our support. Hannah even pointed out a fan in the front row who’d attended all of their American tour dates and said how much it meant to the band to have such devoted fans. To say I was blown away by London Grammar live is such an understatement. I’ve struggled to find the words to talk about how amazing they are. Please check them out. I’m listening to them on repeat these days. See photos below!

xo,

bree

London Grammar

London Grammar

Dan Rothman

Dan Rothman

Hannah Reid

Hannah Reid

Dominic Major

Dominic Major

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