Monthly Archives: March 2019

SnugHouse and Max Garcia Conover

Friday, March 22, 2019

Portland House of Music and Events, Portland, Maine

There’s nothing quite like starting the weekend with not one, but two, of your favorite live acts! And, in this case, they played a show together!! This show was my dream double bill, and it was everything I knew it would be. I got a killer parking spot in front of PHOME right before 8pm. I love that seats were set up for us, because neither of these bands is putting out a dance album anytime soon (challenge accepted?!), and I got a second row spot a few minutes before my friend Max Garcia Conover took the stage. Sophie sat with me, and I was so glad to get to see her excited facial expressions as her husband put on a truly inspired show. Max came out of the gate with “Crow Song,” “My Neighbor Joe,” “Self Portrait,” “New Sweden,” and “Rich Man.” I find Max’s live show so compelling–he’s earnest and humble–a true storyteller. On this night, he played hard, sang loud, thumped his kickdrum, and had the crowd in the palm of his hand (as usual).

SnugHouse is such a delight. I love their shows because they’re a total lovefest. Nikhil Dasgupta, Alex Millan, Laura Pauline, Rosie Borden, and new-ish fifth member Sam Kyzivat have chemistry and talent to spare. They played virtually every song they’ve written in their short tenure as a group, including “I Couldn’t Be” (sung around one microphone), “Irie,” and “Glass” (from their 2018 EP, Like Water). Rosie brings an effervescence to stage that juxtaposes nicely with SnugHouse’s typically reflective songs. Rosie’s parents were in the audience and had driven up from Connecticut for the show. They were adorable and blew kisses to Rosie from their seats on the floor. Laura’s folks were there from Florida, and I chatted with Nikhil’s dad after the show. I told you that SnugHouse shows are full of love, and it’s not an exaggeration.

I really appreciate that everyone in SnugHouse shares the spotlight, writes their own songs, and plays multiple instruments, too. Laura debuted a new song she wrote at SnugHouse’s EP release show back in November called “A Love I’ve Never Had Before,” and I loved hearing it with a full arrangement. Her vocals on their covers of “Stayin’ Alive” and “Fever” are crazy impressive, too. The crowd was captivated and asked for an encore. I was hopeful when Nikhil sat down at the piano and said that they hadn’t played this song in a while. I wondered–could it be my favorite SnugHouse song–the one I’ve listened to seriously no fewer than 100 times?! He said that “it’s about having to say goodbye to a place when you’re not ready to” and then he scanned the crowd, saw me, and said “this song is dedicated to Bree” and I was so touched. “Brunswick” (Bowdoin’s my alma mater, too) shows the maturity of Nikhil’s lyrics. My favorite in this song–“So find my hand and walk me through the unfinished parts. Through my search for beginnings in the end, the truth that I can’t bend.” What a delight to hear that song in person for the first time and frankly it was an honor to hear my name mentioned from stage, too. Thanks so much for that surprise, Nikhil. SnugHouse–I love y’all so much. What you have created together is truly special.

xo,

bree

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Lucy Dacus with Mal Blum and Fenne Lily

Sunday, March 17, 2019

SPACE Gallery, Portland, Maine

This was such a lovely night of music. It’s been rare to see shows with a listening audience, but SPACE seems to draw the right folks who really care about the craft of songwriting. I was so pleased to be able to hear the whole show instead of it being drowned out by people treating the show as background noise. I attribute it, also, to the evident love folks in the crowd had for all three artists. So many people sang along and were really joyful all night. It was such a salve for the sadness show-going has brought me in the last couple of years. I’m glad my concert buddy Sean was there to witness it with me, too.

Fenne Lily didn’t introduce herself until the very end of her set, but I was curious about her from the first few bars of her first sad song. Her guitarist’s name is impressively hard to find online, but they were clearly great friends. Both on electric guitars, Fenne Lily’s songs were honest and she shared what inspired nearly all of them (which is solid gold for me at a show). She was charming and funny and I’ll definitely listen to more of her. I did see that she’s somewhat internet famous. Her song “Top to Toe” has over 30 million plays on Spotify. If you like context like I do, check out this interview with Fenne Lily. She complemented the audience last night. She said “thank you for being loud and quiet in the right places.” I totally agree. It was SO NICE to see a show surrounded by people who wanted to be there for the music. It’s becoming more and more rare these days.

 

Fenne Lily

Mal Blum took the stage and I had to quickly search my bag for my earplugs. They were LOUD, but in a captivating, well-oiled way. Mal introduced the band and told us they’re all great friends and grateful to get to make music and tour together. Mal told us “Things Still Left To Say” is about being closeted, and told us they got to have a “Lady and Tramp moment with a turtle” in the video. Mal’s music is about heavy subjects–identity, acceptance, loss–and I was so impressed by how open Mal was when introducing songs. Mal also had self-deprecating charm and self-awareness that I thought was really refreshing. I was also a little bit caught off guard (in a fun way) but how rocking these sad songs were. Folks loved their set and sang along a lot. There were clearly a lot of people in the room to cheer on this band.

Mal Blum

Lucy Dacus took the stage and opened with a new (beautiful) song, “Fool’s Gold.” Lucy really lit up the room with her heartfelt songs and humility. I was standing right in front of the drum kit, so I wished I could have heard her lyrics better, but we were entranced. I’m trying to figure out how someone who is 23 years old has her profound ability to capture emotion in lyrics. Lucy is really impressive. I was introduced to Lucy by her 2016 NPR Tiny Desk Concert and love her collaboration with Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers in boygenius.

 

Lucy Dacus

IMG_6840Lucy asked if anyone had seen her play at One Longfellow Square back in 2016. She said a lot has changed in the few years since that self-booked show. Lucy and her band played songs about equally from her 2016 album, No Burden, and her 2018 album, Historian. Everyone in the crowd was super attentive and sang along. Her band stayed behind for her solo encore. She warned us that “if you wanted to leave on a high note, you might want to leave now” before playing another new song about a friend’s difficult relationship with her father that just floored me. It was such a pleasure to be in the room for this sold out show. Thanks, Lucy!

xo,

bree

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Bobby Long with Darrell Foster

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Empire, Portland, Maine

I have no memory of how British singer-songwriter Bobby Long came across my radar, but it was a long time ago and his name has been tucked away in my brain. When I saw he was coming to Empire in Portland, I bought a ticket and showed up, even though I wasn’t very familiar with his folky music. It was an odd night. There were probably 20 people in the room upstairs at Empire at the most crowded point. I sat next to a group of four who’d come all the way up from Long Island for the show and were on a Bobby Long tour road trip.

Less than a week later, most of the night has faded from my mind. Sometimes, shows just aren’t very memorable. Portland-based musician Darrell Foster opened the show, and there were probably only 10 people in the room when he took the stage. That must have been awkward for him, but he rolled with it. He had the guy from college who sang at the open mics on campus vibe. He interacted with the tiny crowd and made a real effort despite the small turnout, which I appreciate. I remember he covered The Tallest Man On Earth, too, which I enjoyed. Check out his song “Dreamer.”

Bobby Long was also pretty mellow, which matched the energy in the room. He chatted warmly with the small crowd, though, and told us what some of his songs were about, which I always appreciate. He even impromptuly covered Macy Gray’s “I Try” after an audience member requested it. There was a fair amount of back and forth chatting with the engaged people in the front of the room who’d come up to Maine from Long Island. As someone who hasn’t listened to him much, I’ve got to say that his songs all sounded alike to me. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t stay until the end of a show, but I felt like I wouldn’t miss anything remarkable if I left early, so I did. Listen to Bobby Long on World Cafe or check out his song “1985.” I heard “The Bounty of Mary Jane” live and liked it and also enjoyed Bobby’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright,” too.

Also, concert etiquette continues to be a huge issue at shows in Portland, which did surprise me given how few people were in the room. There were two women who were having drinks at a high top table 20 feet from the stage who talked super loudly through both sets. Frankly, they were so loud that I couldn’t always hear Darrell or Bobby over them and I was in the front row. Again, if you’re not going to a show to listen, why go at all? The table next to me asked them to please be quiet, but they kept cackling away. I am not surprised anymore, unfortunately. It’s sadly the thing I remember most clearly about the night. Portland concert goers–you’ve really got to get it together.

xo,

bree

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