rain, waiting & camera obscura

I sit in a booth at the back of the dimly litBottlenecklistening to the rain storm I drove through pepper the window with cold drops. I’m readingThe Believerand wondering if coming to Lawrence three hours before the doors are set to open will pay off. If not, I’ll leave without an interview, lugging my recording equipment back to my car before the show starts. That doesn’t really matter, though, since either way, I get to see Camera Obscura.

As I read, I witness several people come in and buy tickets for the show. “Why isn’t this show sold out?” I wonder to myself. If I remember correctly, the show in St. Louis was sold out two days in advance of the fabulous Scots’ arrival in the Show Me State.

After, perhaps, an hour or so, members of one of the most luminescent pop bands in the world begin to trickle inside from their tour bus to start soundchecking. Tracyanne Campbell stands center stage, shielding her eyes from a bright light, electric guitar at the ready. She begins to strum it gently before fully announcing her presence, hitting a pedal and allowing the distortion to move in waves around the nearly empty club. As the soundcheck continues and the levels are adjusted, she takes a quick step back from a floor monitor, which is feeding back at her like a striking snake.

To Campbell’s right, as always, Carey Lander stands behind her organ, red hair peeking out of a blue hoodie. One might almost mistake her for aKU fan, were it not for her Scottish accent. After Campbell’s sound check is complete, Lander begins hers and the Bottleneck is transformed, from a dingy rock club, into a shiny church of pop.

Lander’s keyboard fills the Bottleneck with a happy, almost holy sound. For the duration of her soundcheck I forget that it’s grey and cold and raining outside. The neon signs advertising cheap, domestic beer become stained glass windows, with sun streaming through them. The handful of patrons playing billiards are the congregation, though they seem not to notice the revival they’re unwittingly a part of. It is difficult not to smile.

When individual soundchecks are complete, the full band begins playing parts of French Navy, Razzle Dazzle Rose, Tears for Affairs and Come Back Margaret. The sounds of customers playing pool and video games are swallowed whole by the band playing The Sweetest Thing. They seem to have fun during the soundcheck, and the music they play has me completely forgetting I have to go back into the wet, metallic Kansas weather to eat dinner.

After a Guinness and pizza atRudy’s Pizzaria (and the requisite trips to theLove Garden andDusty Bookshelf) I return to the Bottleneck, a little before eight, and order a double Gin & tonic. They’re playing some band over the PA that is doing its best to rip off theFiery Furnacesand it’s kind of giving me a headache. (Well, that or the massive amount of caffeine I’ve ingested since waking up at five in the morning.) The aspirin I took earlier is having little to no effect. I take a seat on the bleachers, set up just opposite the stage, and I’m almost anonymous in the semi-darkness. I gently sip my drink and notice that the club is nearly as empty as it was when I left it earlier, before the sun had set.

Things pick up around eight-thirty, as a crowd of people with unkempt beards, ironic mustaches and vintage Adidas track jackets descend upon the Bottleneck. A very young kid next to me says “If they play Alaska, I’m going to go insane.” I know the likelihood of that happening is not good. Alaska is a B-side on the Merge Records CD single for If Looks Could Kill. I, however, understand where he’s coming from and think to myself, “Kid, if they play San Francisco Song, I’m going to go insane.” (San Francisco Song being a b-side on the Elephant Records CD single for Keep It Clean.)

Opening actPrincetonplay bouncing, jangly pop and sound a little like a mix between LunaandMiracle Legion, with Joy Division-esque keyboards. Kind of a happy-ish shoegaze, I guess. They played a song called Night Winds which, for some reason, reminded me of the theme toLove Boat. Tim, the trumpeter/auxiliary percussionist from Camera Obscura joined Princeton for their final two songs.

After Princeton’s set my role as journalist is done. I keep track of the songs played for asetlist post, but now I’m just enjoying the show. My headache is gone.

Camera Obscura’s set was amazing, of course, and I urge anyone in the cities left on this leg of their US tour to check them out. You will not be disappointed. The band hung around after the set to talk to fans and sign autographs, which is awesome, yet hardly surprising.

Someone took video of The Sweetest Thing at the Lawrence show. (Thanks!)

I was able to interview drummer Lee Thomson, and that interview will air Friday duringBacon in the Morning. (Why don’t drummers get interviewed more?) He introduced me to a term I’d never heard before,“twee”, which, it seems, is a kind of indie or indie pop. I think I probably didn’t know that because, one, until recently, most of the music I listened to was punk rock and, two, the sub genres of sub genres thing gets a little confusing after a while so, anymore, I usually just put music into two categories: “good” and “bad.” To quoteDetroit Rock City, “Good tunes is good tunes.”

Camera Obscura is most definitely good tunes.

This is your brain on Hogs.

camera obscura setlist – the bottleneck – lawrence, ks 4.7.10

I just got home after a wonderful show from Camera Obscura at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, Kansas.

I’m too tired to do anything else right now, since it’s 2:52 AM, so here’s the setlist. There will be some Camera Obscura-related surprises in the near future, so stay tuned.

My Maudlin Career
Tears for Affairs
The Sweetest Thing
French Navy
Dory Previn
Honey in the Sun
Let’s Get Out of This Country
Keep It Clean
Lloyd I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken
If Looks Could Kill

Come Back Margaret
Razzle Dazzle Rose

This is your brain on Camera Obscura.


I haven’t posted anything in a while. I had planned to post something about my trip to St. Louis to see Camera Obscura but finals kind of got in the way. (I know, that’s a wicked lame excuse but what did you expect?) I may still post one, more than a month after the fact, or I may just wait and include it in the post after their show at theBottleneckin Lawrence, Kansas April 7th. Tickets are on sale now and, given that the St. Louis show sold out, I purchased mine in advance.

Jealous? You should be.

Someone with the screennamesnivelttamuploaded video of every Camera Obscura song played at theOff Broadwaywhen I saw them. The Off Broadway, by the way, is an awesome venue. I would see a show there again if given the chance. (However, it’s 375 miles door-to-door from my apartment to the Off Broadway so it would have to be someone fantastic, like Camera Obscura, for me to travel that far again.)

Also coming to the Bottleneck areSt. Vincenton February 15th andThe Big Pinkon April 10th, the Saturday after the Camera Obscura show.

She & Himhave another album coming out, Volume Two, which will be released on March 23rd, 2010. The track list is as follows:

01 Thieves
02 In The Sun
03 Don’t Look Back
04 Ridin’ In My Car
05 Lingering Still
06 Me And You
07 Gonna Get Along With You Now
08 Home
09 I’m Gonna Make It Better
10 Sing
11 Over It Over Again
12 Brand New Shoes
13 If You Can’t Sleep

I’ve been reading a lot lately…that’s actually the one thing on my list to do over break that I kept to. While in the Charlotte, NC airport I finished Almost Green, which was written by James Glave while he was trying to build his eco-friendly, sustainableEco-Shed, which, it would appear, you can stay in.

Almost Green was an interesting read about trying to stay sustainable when it is expensive to do so and the battle we all face between wanting creature comforts and wanting to do right by the environment. The book was full of humor and relevant facts and it was a pretty quick read.

I also read Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip–Confessions of a Cynical Waiter, which is based on a series of blog posts atWaiterrant.netby Steve Dublanica. It’s pretty hilarious, an easy read but also a very, very true account of what goes on in a restaurant and it reminded me a lot of the things I’ve seen/heard/done, since I’ve worked in the service industry for many a year. Essentially, everyone should read this book. It not only holds your attention but might also serve as a guide for those of you who have no social graces for those who serve you. In Fight Club, Tyler Durden says “We do your laundry, cook your food and serve you dinner. We guard you while you sleep. We drive your ambulances. Do not fuck with us.” I kept thinking of that quote while I was reading Waiter Rant and most people would do well to keep it in mind. Do you really want to piss off the people preparing and delivering your food?

What I’m reading right now isCunt, by the fabulousInga Muscio, which was loaned to me by a good friend. (Thanks, Blake!) More than just a feminist womanifesto, this book discusses things about our life and culture that are rarely written about, especially with such honesty and conviction. It is a truly life-changing read and I’m only on page 193. Everyone I know should read this book…hell, everyone you know should read this book.

And now, a brief Lou Reed interlude.

In addition to reading, I’ve also been watching a lot of movies. If you trust my opinion you should rent The Baxter, starring Michael Showalter, ofThe Statefame. The State, of course, is out on DVD. I urge all of you to at least rent and watch every episode. I happen to own the series, myself, and it is truly great one of the great sketch comedy shows of all time.

To take a brief break from talking about movies I’ve seen, another former MTV show Dariawill finally be released on DVD this year. Now, if we could only get Viacom to release The Adventures of Pete and Pete season three on DVD…but I digress.

Back to movies…a friend of mine introduced me to(500) Days of Summer, which I thought was a great film, if a bit trendy. Zooey Deshcanel (of She & Him, of course) was very good in her role of Summer and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (he was Cameron James in 10 Things I Hate About You and, more recently, Cobra Commander) was fucking brilliant as Tom Hansen.

Gordon-Levitt also directed a short, entitledSparks, which was written byElmore Leonardand featured on wonderful publishing houseMcSweeney’sDVD magazine,Wholphin. Do yourself a favor and check out pretty much anything they’ve ever produced. BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG props to my friendMeglet for introducing me to the wonderful world of McSweeneys…and for watching every episode of the first three seasons of Mr. Showwith me. Prior to my excursion to Ft. Lauderdale, I had only seen one or two episodes of Mr. Show, which is a travesty.

I’ve also been watching movies about Manchester/Factory Records/Joy Division. The first of which was theJoy Divisiondocumentary, directed by Grant Gee. I also watched the fictionalized account of Joy Division’s rise to fame and Ian Curtis’ subsequent suicide,Control, which was directed by Anton Corbijn, who directed, among other videos, Nirvana’sHeart Shaped Boxand U2’s One.

Last, but certainly not least, is24 Hour Party People, starring Steve Coogan (Hamlet 2) asTony Wilson, the brilliant Manchester TV host, record label owner, club owner, etc. He foundedFactory Records, which released records by Joy Division and New Order, among others.

And speaking of Joy Division (how about that transition, folks?)PitchforkisreportingthatXiu XiuandDeerhoof(why do I always want to call them “Deerhoff“?) are joining forces at theDonaufestivalin Austria to cover Joy Division’sUnknown Pleasuresin it’s entirety. Interesting. I hope there will be a recording of that floating around at some point.

While I was visiting the aforementioned Meglet, we happened upon a pretty badass record store calledRadio-Active Records, which is located in Ft. Lauderdale. I bought a few records but the most amazing thing I found was a small, yellow and blue enamel pin that said simply “FAC 51.” I was flabbergasted. FAC 51 was the designation for Tony Wilson’s Manchester club,The Haçienda. The design is a reissue of a design from a badge issued in 1984. It’s a great badge…isn’t it wonderful what nostalgia will do?

Like I said, Radio-Active is a great store. I managed to find records byThe Micronotz(The Beast That Devoured Itself, 1985),House of Large Sizes(One Big Cake, 1989), and U.S. Bombs(Garibaldi Guard, 1996) as well as a Madness album for $2 and Belle and Sebastian’sTigermilkon 180 gram vinyl. I also picked up a 45 from none other thanThe People’s Poet‘s favorite, Sir Cliff Richard. Oh, yeah, Rule Britannia!

That was a completely random reference but Rule Britiannia is pretty cool, even if it’s basically about colonialism, which is not cool.

This, on the other hand, is one of the greatest renditions of the greatest anthem in the world. (And I’m not Canadian.) If you don’t get goosebumps watching that, you don’t know the meaning of life.

Randomly flipping through channels the other day I came across a commercial on HSN for the Chic Geek, at which point I stopped flipping channels (Hogs, you see, has a thing for nerdy girls) and watched for a minute. As it turns out,Katie Linendollhas a degree in Information Technology New Media, which she earned at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and she in Wired and Fortune, among other publications.

New music I discovered, direct fromemilymphocyteisThe xx. Check ’em out.

The lovely ladies over atAM 180, another ofThe Wildcat 91.9’swonderful shows (11PM-1AM Thursdays) told me aboutVampire Weekend, who I hadn’t heard of and now I really like. I do think it’s odd, however, that the lead singer sometimes sounds British, yet he is from New York. Well, whatev, Vampire Weekend is good, good stuff.

I will, incidentally, be guest-co-hosting AM 180 this coming Thursday (February 4, 2010) with Nikki, as Gloria will be out of town. Super excited about that. (I brings the K-Pop!)

Here’s some other stuff I’ve been listening to lately:
The Lovers
Insound.com’sFebruary Mix Tape
Really oldR.E.M.

I have aTwitter account, which I use to promote my radio show (Bacon in the Morning, live from 9:30-11:00AM onThe Wildcat 91.9) and this blog. I also like using it to follow people (likeIra Glass) and organizations (likeNPR). I know people use Twitter for myriad other things but I still think it’s weird that someone invented theTwoddler, which, as you might expect, allows toddlers to tweet. Dios mio!

Long before Dora, Barney and Blue, we had Sesame Street. Luckily, after forty seasons, we still have Sesame Street. Sesame Street is awesome because it doesn’t treat kids like morons and it has badass musical guests, Smokey Robinson, por ejemplo. I love this song and video.

Then there’s the Teeny Little Super Guy, who sounds like he smokes two-and-a-half packs a day and lives in a cup which can disappear through counters and sinks. I’m fairly certain drugs and/or alcohol may have been involved in his creation. He’s still amusing, however.

Finally, we haveUnhappy Hipsters, a website which juxtaposes photos of modern homes with snarky comments resulting in a humorous effect. Since I love modern architecture and making fun of rich people, it’s one of my new faves.

This post created entirely onAuntie Mae’sfree WiFi. (Thanks, Jeff.)

This is your brain on Hogs.

i’m buying babies like angelina jolie.

Two days ago about this time, I was standing in the Off Broadway in St. Louis, Missouri a few minutes away from Camera Obscura taking the stage. That show will get it’s own entire post, but now I’m posting a bunch of random stuff that’s been kicking around my inbox and my brain lately.

After my Philosophy of Feminism class today, a bunch of us were standing around talking and the following video was mentioned. There are no words in the English language to describe this so I’ll simply post it and let you watch…in horror. It’s almost likeJesus is a Friend of Mineexcept without the catchy music, sweet outfits or positive messages.

Now that you’re looking for something to get that taste out of your mouth, I’ll give you this.

I don’t really have any words for that, either. It pretty much speaks for itself and what it says is all very, very bad. (What the fuck is up with the person in the pig suit? And why were they choking that girl? Seriously? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?) I discovered that horrific waste of digital video through a very amusing site,Your Scene Sucks, which I’m sure has been linked up and down teh interwebs but, on the off chance that you haven’t seen it, I thought I’d post it. Big ups to my friend Neil for telling me about that site. (In case you’re wondering, I fit somewhere betweenIndie JesusandOrgcore Punkerexcept I dress better.) I think, since as of tomorrow I’ll be unemployed, it may be time to start growing an epic beard.

Okay, enough craptacular music, now on to the good stuff.

They Shoot Music, Don’t They?recently caught up with Camera Obscura (or, at least, Tracyanne, Kenny & Tim) and filmed two brilliant liveperformancesofFrench Navyand, my current favorite,Honey In The Sun. Pure awesomesauce.

I posted something on my Facebook page about wanting more Scottish pop music (basically today it’s been all Camera Obscura, The Vaselines, Belle and Sebastian and The Fratellis) and a friend suggested I check outStrawberry Switchbladeso I did and was quite impressed. Very synthy, very 80’s…but then again, so is some New Order and that’s not a bad thing.

Interestingly enough that Fratellis song posted above was apparently featured in an iPod commercial as was the Chairlift song from a few posts ago. I learned that after the fact in both cases as I don’t have cable, so I don’t usually see commercials. Weird.

Camera Obscura’s4ADlabelmateSt. Vincent(Annie Clark) is just pretty god damn amazing…aaaaaaand she’ll be playing theBottleneckin Lawrence, Kansas on February 15th, 2010. An early birthday present to myself, I think. See you there?

Does anyone remember the old MTV commercials where Toby Huss pretended to be Frank Sinatra and sang current songs of the day? They were quite amusing and someone has put them on YouTube.


I know a lot of you have probably seen CB4, the amusing mockumentary starringChris RockandPhil Hartman(R.I.P.) There is a lesser-known rap mockumentary called Fear of a Black Hat that is equally, if not more, amusing.

The Papercutsopened for Camera Obscura and they were very good. I’ll be posting a full review of their album You Can Have What You Want later this month.

Tori Amoswill be streaming a live concert on Facebook Friday, December 11th. You can learn more about that here.

Finally, coming to us fromemilymphocyte‘s wonderful site is Marina and the Diamonds, which is really the stage name for Marina Diamandis and other assorted collaborators. If you can’t place the accent, don’t worry, she’s Welsh. Most of you probably have no idea where Wales is.

I love this song because it’s catchy as hell and true. I’d much rather live in Wales than America most days. Our “culture” is shite.

This is your brain on Hogs.