Archive for music review

Joshua James…hauntingly beautiful

Posted in Band Review, music with tags , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by Master Jenn-Jenn

It’s very daunting to start this blog knowing that I can’t do Joshua James justice with words. Wow. Here it is hours later. I’ve had dinner. I drove home in absolute silence trying to grasp the right words. And the words are still running around amok refusing to form together in a manner that portrays such an accurate glimpse of what I just witnessed. The show and the music is to good to go without mentioning, but I have to urge you if you get the chance experience it for yourself….

Before the show we had a lively conversation about the different types of genres and in particular about Emo. I’ve never got the whole “Emo” genre. Many have told me it’s about music being emotional, but as a good friend is quick to point out all music is emotional. I thought that too. Before tonight. Before Joshua James live. Now I’m not saying his music is Emo. Not even close. At the same time, in all of the concerts I’ve ever been to, which is a lot, I’ve never seen emotion like that.

Looking back at his music after the show it shouldn’t be surprising. Track after track you can hear the emotion lurking adding layers to his voice. And his words seem to cut through your skin, but you only notice once the flesh is laid open. No, the emotion is not lacking in the recordings by an means, in fact it’s what drew me to his show in the first place, but on stage James’ small frame literally vibrates as the emotions pour through him. His movements are not particularly graceful in fact at first they’re sharp and unclean, almost ferocious in nature. As the music builds he tends to creep lower away from the microphone and then with a swell in the music he rises …his body shaking as if to purify all the hurt and pain belting from the lyrics and occasionally he lets loose screaming/moaning with the music. No one in the audience moved in that first song or two. It’s as if we were all held…prisoners of the pure emotion and in truth a bit afraid.

They say there is a fine line between genius and the insane and I have to admit when I first started watching the show I felt like I was watching that line being crossed. You feel as if you get this rare glimpse into a songwriters life..that moment when they first put pen to paper, when they first pick up the guitar to form a song when the emotions driving the music are pure and raw. With James there is no holding back. He’s probably sang these same songs hundreds of times, but it feels as if he’s writing them from scratch right there on the stage. As if he experienced the pain, the hurt, the shame that he belts about moments before he stepped on stage.

Then as the song comes to an end he stills. Stepping up to the microphone he thanks the audience in such a kind friendly manner…a polar opposite from the raw emotion that shook his body. It’s shocking. And yet oddly refreshing at the same time. Within a few moments those same movements that were at first jarring become weirdly enduring. You can’t look away. You don’t want to look away. Hauntingly beautiful.

In addition to a jaw-dropping live show I want to note that the music itself is sick. The music was loud, but with a crispy quality that sounded like it was coming from a mastered copy and not live. Many bands live are loud, but this music sneaks up on you ebbing and flowing until you forget it’s not coming from inside, put is actually penetrating through whatever walls we each have. In addition, though I’ve focused on James all members of the band are insanely talented. The drummer plays the keys and the drums at the same time. The guitarist also keeps the rhythm going by joining in on the drums. And James has a tambourine hooked to a foot pedal at his feet as he strums and sings. Yet, it all comes together as one solid piece of art.

In conclusion: Let’s just say I thought that James played Saturday night in Omaha. A good two hour drive that I was set to make. Unfortunately I messed up the dates otherwise I’d be seeing him live again within 48 hours. I’m still searching for the words to place this within the comfort zone of what I’m use to seeing. It was the most haunting and the most beautiful live performance I have ever seen.  And in case there was any doubt….genius



Damion Suomi and The Minor Profits…..

Posted in Band Business Tips, Band Review with tags , , , , on February 24, 2011 by Master Jenn-Jenn

I have to say I had high expectations for seeing Damion Suomi and the Minor Prophets in Omaha on Sunday.  I first discovered this band on a sampler from Paste Magazine and many of their songs routinely make it onto my playlists.  Then last year, I saw them live for the first time in Des Moines.  There were maybe five people at that show…which typically means a lackluster performance from many bands.  After all it has to be hard for bands to pick up the energy when only a handful of people turn out to support them.  Damion and The Minor Prophets are the exception to that rule.  Those guys rocked the Mews in Des Moines as if it was standing room only with a line circling around the block.  So when I learned that they were playing Omaha I quickly began to build expectations for the show.

I arrived just a few moments before the show started and was glad to find the venue, The Waiting Room,  buzzing with activity.  The guys quickly took the stage and it didn’t take long for the loud conversations to crash to an end.  It was almost as if Damion’s voice circled behind the crowd and silently pushed them forward.  Chairs scraped the floor as interested listeners began to move forward filling empty spaces near the stage with bodies moving to the rhythm of the music.  It’s not often that the opening band captures the audience with the ease that these guys showed.  They are in essence masters of the stage.  They know how to put on a show that doesn’t distract from the music.

What absolutely sticks out about this band is that they love what they do.  It’s in every song, every member, and every movement they make on the stage.  Many bands aspire and practice to have what looks so natural for this band.  I have no idea what their practices are like (I’d give a lot to be able to attend one), but I can say their movements on stage do not look staged or practiced.  Rather, they look as if the movement flows from the music.  They don’t rely on props or obviously staged moves to bring their music to life.  Their music brings them and thus the audience to life, as it should be.

In many bands it is one or two members that tend to be the life of the stage.  The one person where your eyes navigate, because they are the entertainers.  Damion Suomi and The Minor Prophets are different in the fact that each member are indeed true entertainers.  Yet, these guys are so in tune with each other that the individual entertainment styles do not overwhelm or interfere with each other.  Your eyes easily navigate from one member to the next as if the music has suddenly become a visualization unfolding right before your very own eyes.  Again I believe this is because it’s their stage presence flows from their music.

In addition to an amazing, should be studied by all bands, stage presence these guys switch instruments as easily and as fluid as I switch feet when walking.  It adds a depth to their music that many bands lack.  They also flow from one song to the next so smoothly that the crowd never looses it’s momentum.  Each song easily slides into the next, without sounding as if it’s the same exact song, instead you get the complete album feel….Taking you back to the days when each song was another milestone in a story only experienced by listening to the complete album.   For the audience this creates a high energy show that doesn’t give them the opportunity to look away even once.  It’s a smart move for an opening band, because they were able to put more songs in front of the fans and leave the fans walking away in awe at the raw energy they experienced.

Damion Suomi and the Minor Prophets didn’t stop performing once their set was done.  Not at all.  Again they are true entertainers.  When the venue experienced issues with the drum mics these guys joined The Builders and the Butchers on stage to lend a helping hand and for me at least they stold the set.   I don’t for a minute believe they set out to do so…I think they just geniunely love what they do and that passion if pretty attractive for any audience.  They embody what live music should be…fun, entertaining, and driven by the music.

If I had any complaints about this show it was:

One:  The Merch was hard to see.  I know they were the opening band, but theirs was easily lost in the massive amounts of Merch that was carried by the other two bands.  I didn’t feel like fighting the crowds so I just skipped the Merch.  Plus I’m pretty sure I already own most of their music…

Two:  They didn’t play all of my favorites!  Okay this one is purely personal and truly I wasn’t all that disappointed because the show was phenomenal.  I’m itching to get their new album!

In conclusion

Damion Suomi and the Minor Prophets…..are a must see…I don’t care how far you have to travel to catch a show.

If you are a fan go to the show to see one of the best live shows that is pure music and not props, fireworks, lighting, and other junk.  It’s raw, pure, and intensely entertaining.  You will move and you will sweat as you get lost in their world.

If you are musician go to the show and take notes on how to put on an amazing show.  Find the band members after the show and pick their brain to figure out HOW they do it.