O Brother | The Audio Perv
Posts Tagged ‘O Brother’
25 Sep

By Matt Arena

The 2012 summer festival season has been a great one. Though at times it may have felt more like a Jack White/The Black Keys festival tour, there were some rather pleasant surprises. The inaugural year for Firefly Festival was quite possibly the best of the summer, and the incredibly well organized (and Metallica curated) Orion Music + More Festival both prove that you don’t need to stick to any of the major mainstays to have a great weekend of music. Closing out the festival season with its second year back from hiatus was late September’s Music Midtown. Though once a popular stop on the festival circuit in the early 2000’s, it took a couple years off and resumed as a one-day test run of sorts last year. It was successful enough not only to warrant another go this year, but to spread it to two days. Booking two major headlining acts like Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters no doubt helped too. Add to that hometown and down south rap legends like T.I. and Ludacris, and it seemed impossible for Music Midtown to be anything other than a rousing success.

With a rather short first day (the first act came on at 4 pm), there wasn’t the lull that sometimes comes with the early acts. Though they do tend to be some of the most underrated ones on the bill, Music Midtown instead decided to jump headfirst into the deep end of the pool on day 1, with T.I., Avett Brothers, and Foo Fighters all crammed into one night.

Though Van Hunt and Joan Jett had each played their respective sets, the crowd didn’t really seem to ignite until T.I. took the stage. A hometown hero at this point in his career, he came out with one of his most popular (and earliest songs) ‘Rubberband Man.’ At this point the crowd had swelled to its largest size of the day, reaching as far back as the hill a mere few feet away from the entrance. Though that may be more of a statement about the size of the park itself, it was clear that T.I. was the first act of the day to have a real pull. He then went into his smash hits, ‘Whatever You Like,’ ‘What You Know,’ and ‘Live Your Life,’ which all got the teeming crowd from as close as the front to as secluded as the VIP area dancing wildly.

Just minutes after T.I.’s set ended, The Avett Brothers kicked into their performance on the second stage. Though they definitely had a dedicated crowd already waiting for them, the short lapse in time between sets didn’t really allow for T.I.’s entire crowd to find their way over too quickly. But those that were there obviously had come solely for The Avett Brothers. With their old-school-bluegrass-meets-modern-rock sound, they bridged a gap between straight country and alternative rock fans. Equal parts Mumford & Sons and The Black Keys; though The Avett Brothers have been around longer than either of those two bands, their sound definitely found a home with such a southern crowd. A rock/bluegrass act following a rapper may not seem like a formula for success, but Atlanta’s well-known diverse musical tastes allowed for both artists to receive a lot of love from the crowd.

Soon enough night had fully come and it was time for Foo Fighters to take the stage. At this point, Piedmont Park had become a seemingly endless sea of people, with the crowd spilling over almost into the second stage. Festivals stalwarts at this point in their careers, Foo Fighters came out of the gate with one of their newest, heaviest, and best songs in ‘White Limo.’ It’s a literal screamer of a track that announces their presence in the very best way possible. Shrieking vocals, ear splitting guitar riffs, and thundering drum beats, it’s possibly the only way to open a Foo Fighters show. With an almost endless amount of hits, you’d be hard pressed to find someone that didn’t know a single song in the set list. Famous for their marathon shows and passion for playing as long as possible, Dave Grohl kept the banter to a minimum. “Do you guys want me to talk or do you wanna hear us play some fucking songs? Because they only let us play two hours, and we came here to play some fucking songs!” The crowd’s roar of approval was met with a string of some of their biggest hits, ‘All My Life,’ ‘Rope,’ ‘The Pretender,’ ‘My Hero,’ and ‘Learn to Fly’ all came out in a row. Most bands would be hard pressed to find that many hits in an entire set, let alone in the first half hour. They also found time to work in some of their new material, though Wasting Light is about a year old at this point, it really speaks to the quality of the album to see the non-singles still in heavy rotation. After ‘Walk,’ Grohl introduced his band, giving each member a moment to show off their skills, which built up into a full on jam session, which quickly turned into a Van Halen cover. After the crowd realized that they were actually playing ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ Grohl stopped, warning the crowd, “you don’t want us to start playing covers, man, we’ll be here all fucking night!” and then proceeded to give the crowd the rest of the song. Their older material was by no means ignored either, with ‘This Is a Call,’ ‘Hey Johnny Park!’ and the Taylor Hawkins lead vocal track, ‘Cold Day in the Sun.’ After a great cover of Pink Floyd’s In the Flesh, they resumed diving into their big catalogue of hits. ‘Best of You’ and ‘Times Like These’ both preceded a surprise guest appearance by Joan Jett for ‘Bad Reputation.’ Closing the set with their biggest hit, and possibly the greatest closing song in history, ‘Everlong’ had the crowd nearly drowning Grohl out completely. Of course a crowd sing-along to ‘Everlong’ isn’t the first or last time it’ll happen, it’s always a surreal moment to hear over 50,000 people all shouting the lyrics so such a legendary song in unison.

Day 2 started off a bit earlier, but as a whole was much more loaded with quality acts than Day 1. From the moment gates opened there was quality music to be found, as Atlanta natives O’Brother started off on the secondary stage. One of the loudest, heaviest, and head-bangingest (yes, that’s a new adjective) bands out there, O’Brother brings a whole new take on progressive rock. Sometimes ambient and other times a wall of screams, they’re able to use a bevy of sounds to warp and thrash their songs to life. Playing tracks off their stellar debut album, ‘Garden Window,’ they were hands-down the most underrated act on the bill. Tracks like ‘Lo’ and ‘Poison!’ sorted out the metal heads in the audience, as heads were quickly banging and if it weren’t for the early set time, one could easily imagine massive moshpits forming. They closed with the two part ‘Machines,’ which starts off like a punch to the face, then dips into a subtle throbbing before coming back with one of the best breakdowns and riffs in recent memory. If anyone left Music Midtown not a fan of O’Brother, they definitely did something wrong.

Up next on the main stage, was Civil Twilight. Hailing from South Africa, they’ve developed success quite well in the US, due to their unique sound. Sometimes piano rock, other times incredibly atmospheric, it always works. Their latest album Holy Weather saw a development of their sound, further venturing into a light electronic piano-rock territory. These songs sounded great live too, with ‘Fire Escape’ being a definite highlight of the set. Being the first act on the main stage, they roped in quite an audience and no doubt garnered that much stronger of a fan base.

Another big pull for the festival was Ludacris, another Atlanta grown southern rapper who had a myriad of fans awaiting his set. Playing with a live band (a rarity for the rapper), it definitely helped his sound. Rappers that utilize a live backing band sound that much better, as having an actual person play the parts instead of using a backing track is always the way to go. Though he seemed to lack the presence and energy that T.I. brought the day before, he had the crowd just as enthralled. With an eight album catalogue to pull from, Ludacris reached as far back as his very first hit with songs like ‘What’s Your Fantasy’ and ‘Southern Hospitality.’ Not only was the crowd into it, but backstage Civil Twilight’s Steven McKellar and Florence Welch could be seen dancing along too. His established collaborative work came into play too, as his popular songs with other artists made appearances too. And I’d be lying if I said hearing a crowd roar back the lyrics to ‘Move Bitch’ wasn’t one of the most entertaining things I saw all weekend. Ok maybe I did too.

Again with a rapid shift in genres, Neon Trees were up. The pop band has grown exponentially ever since their first album and continued it with the success of their second album, ‘Picture Show.’ Though a physical fireball of energy, the band seems to lack the musical punch on stage that most seem to have when performing live. The songs feel somehow lower, as if someone turned down the dial on the drums and guitar. Lead singer Tyler Glenn’s vocal work always impresses though, as he manages to belt out the lyrics while whirling around the stage like a spinning top gone rogue. Their earlier material is definitely lighter on the pop elements that seemed to have invaded Picture Show, so songs like ‘1984,’ Sins of My Youth,’ and ‘Animal’ came across much better than the newer tracks. Regardless, the crowd seemed to eat it up, yelling before ‘Animal’ even started and singing along to nearly every word to the catchy ‘Everybody Talks.’

Florence + The Machine were up next on the main stage, and though at first dealing with some technical difficulties, Flo’s charm kept the audience on her side and she continued into a very well received set. Her earth-mother vibes come out not only on the songs, but the way she carries herself, floating around the stage like a heavenly Poison Ivy. While it does get to be a bit much, not only her moves but the similarity of her songs, the crowd didn’t seem to care as her fans up front matched her energy with an almost alarming level of passion. Florence is most definitely a talented singer, but if you’re not a fan before seeing her live she isn’t one of those acts to change your mind upon seeing her perform.

Closing out the festival was Pearl Jam. Their reputation for being one of the hardest working and best live acts out there precedes them, and they somehow managed to eclipse it. Lots of bands were popular in the 90’s, but you’d be hard pressed to find one that’s still as respected, loved, and downright rocking as Pearl Jam is. They’re one of those bands that live for their hardcore fans, evidence of this by the unparalleled amount of diversity in their set lists. People see them countless times and very rarely ever see the same show twice. While this is a bonus for hardcore fans, they run the risk of alienating the more casual audience members, especially at a festival. But that wasn’t the case at Music Midtown. They had a perfect mix of hits and b-sides, and speaking from the standpoint of somewhere in between a casual and hardcore fan, it wasn’t remotely boring even for a second. ‘Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town,’ ‘Better Man,’ ‘Do the Evolution,’ and ‘Even Flow’ made early appearances in the set and had the swelling crowd in a trance. Being able to hear songs like ‘Alive’ and ‘Black,’ ones that are so famous it gives that immediate giddy sensation of “hey, hey it’s THIS song!” is truly something special. Pearl Jam showed why they’re such a respected live band and why they were chosen as the anchor for Music Midtown. Plus hearing ‘Jeremy’ live is finally something I get to check off my concert bucket list.

All photos courtesy of Matt Arena

03 Jun

By Keeyahtay Lewis

Last year Thrice announced that they would be going on hiatus after a final tour. For those who know me, it is well known that Thrice is my favorite band. So this made me a little bummed, but I knew it would also mean that I would get a chance to see them at least a couple more times. Thursday night, May 24, was the first of two nights I would be seeing them. They came into NYC with O’Brother and Animals as Leaders in tow for their “Farewell Tour.”

O’Brother was first, and I was pumped to see them. They were on tour with Thrice last year so I knew it would be a good show. Hailing from Atlanta, O’Brother is made up of singer/guitarist Tanner Merritt, Anton and Johnny Dang on bass and guitar, and Michael Martens on drums. They were also joined by a 5th member, who I can’t find a name for, on guitar and sometimes, drums. O’Brother is called an “experimental rock band” and I guess this is fitting, but mostly they just rock.

They came out and opened with Lo, Sputnik, and Machines Part 1 and 2. O’Brother has a sound that is certainly their own, and the energy between the 5 guys on stage is incredible always. Tanner’s vocals are hard to describe. At times high pitched and delicate, and then powerful and on edge in the next second. The band owns every inch of the stage, never staying in one place for more than a few seconds. The soft songs are soft, but the loud songs hit you like a punch in the chest.

They finished out their too short set with Poison!, Lay Down, and the crowd and personal favorite, Ascension. I think that Ascension sums up the band well. It starts slow and soft with ambient noise and and re verb, but then it explodes into a powerhouse song. I think with that song you can hear everything O’Brother is trying to do. I love it.

Next up was Animals as Leaders. I had never heard of them and really didn’t know what to expect. Tosin Abasi on guitar, Javier Reyes on bass, and Matt Garstka on drums. No one on vocals. It took me about two minutes to realize there would be no singing. This, frankly, threw me off completely. Singing and lyrics or so important to me when I am listening to something. Not having any made it difficult for me to watch them play. I don’t think it was just me either. The band sounds incredible together, and the musicianship is all top notch. But after 10 min or so I found myself losing interest, and it was clear to see I wasn’t the only one.

Their set included Wave of Babies, Tempting Time, Earth Departure, An Infinite Regression, Cylindrical Sea, Somnarium, Weightless and CAFO. The songs are definitely all metal/prog rock based and there were moments that were really amazing. But again, for me at least, I can only listen to a guy solo on guitar for so long. I felt like having Animals as Leaders come on after O’Brother brought the energy in the room down a bit.

Next up was the band that the sold out crowd was there to see. The roar that erupted from the crowd when Thrice took the stage was deafening. As soon as they picked up their instruments they launched into Yellow Belly, a roaring track from their latest release, Major/Minor. It was clear in the first 4 seconds that 2000 + people came to get sweaty with their favorite band.

With the next three songs Thrice showed us all that this was going to be a special show: Image of the Invisible, Artist In The Ambulance, and Kill Me Quickly. Clearly Thrice was going to give the show of their lives tonight, a send of that won’t be forgotten. The show spanned all of their albums pretty well. They were definitely playing songs that the people wanted to hear, and I heard them play songs that night I thought I would never hear. The one two punch of Under a Killing Moon and Silhouette kept the energy high, before they brought it back down a bit with In Exile and The Weight.

Thrice has been around for 14 years, the same 4 guys, and I have never heard them sound better. Dustin Kensrue on vocals and guitar, Teppei Ternaishi on lead guitar, and Eddie and Riley Breckenridge on bass and drums. It always amazes me how Thrice manages to create something together that sounds so much more powerful than 4 guys should be able to do together. It was easy to see how much they all love playing together. I have never seen Dustin smile more during a show.

Promises was up next, followed by a song I was so excited to hear live, Daedalus. Before playing the latter, Dustin told the crowd that it was a song the fans voted that they wanted to hear. It sounded incredible live. They continued to bounce around all their albums with the next songs: Words in the Water, Of Dust and Nations, Red Sky, Digital Sea, Firebreather, The Earth Will Shake and Stare at the Sun. Then they launched into Deadbolt, a song they haven’t played on tour in a long time. It is a clear crowd favorite and everyone lost their minds. It showed again, that this “Farewell Tour” really is for the fans. To Awake and Avenge the Dead and Beggars were the last two tracks before the encore.

The band left the stage for a couple of minutes then came back and opened up with a slower song from The Alchemy Index, Come all You Weary. This song was definitely the lull before the storm. The next two songs would threaten to bring the roof of Best Buy Theater down on all of our heads. Phoenix Ignition, and the first song Thrice ever wrote: T & C.
Holy shit.

They left one more time as every person screamed for “one more song” then came back out to give everyone what they asked for: one more song, closing out with Anthology. They thanked everyone, took a bow, and left.

24 songs, Thrice played 24 songs for New York City. I can only think of maybe one or two songs I would have loved to hear that they didn’t touch on. But overall, this show was for the fans. As they left the stage and everyone chanted “THANK YOU THRICE” over and over, it was clear to see that the show we had just seen was a love letter to us, the fans.

I spent Thursday and Friday night seeing and shooting, my favorite band, for maybe the last time. It was bittersweet at best. As I said, they played some of the best shows I had ever seen. But not knowing when, or if I would see them again, left me feeling hollow.

I will never be able to thank those guys, Dustin, Teppei, Eddie, Riley, I will never be able to thank them for what they have given me. 10 years ago I remember being at one of their shows just wanting to be able to take pictures of them. Now I have shot them several times, interviewed Riley, gotten a record signed, and more.

I have grown up as they have, and they have never failed to impress me. With the music they make, and the people they are. As I spent the last couple nights with a few thousand people screaming every word along with the band, so many things swelled up in my chest.

I dunno. I feel like there is so much more to say about this, but the bottom line is, I feel grateful that I have been able to be inspired by them. I named my company after their song. They inspired me to shoot music just because I wanted to be able to have a reason to hang out with them.

I literally wouldn’t be the person I am now if it wasn’t for them.

So when it is all said and done, I just want to say thank you. Your fans all over the world will miss you. We will listen to the music, get your lyrics tattooed on us, and wait, breath held for you guys to come back.

But until then, thank you for the memories and the music.

Thank you, Thrice.

All photos courtesy of Keeyahtay Lewis of DeadBoltPhotos.com

31 Oct

By Michel R Dussack

On Sunday, October 16th, O’Brother played Irving Plaza in an opening slot for post-hardcore band Thrice. Having seen O’Brother previously open for Cage The Elephant, I knew that they were more than capable of commanding respect from larger crowds, however they seem to have mastered it even more in the short time since May. Shortly before the band took the stage, security entered the photographer’s pit with us, briefly warning us that they were tipped off that crowdsurfers were possible during O’Brother’s set. While the crowdsurfers never came, the crowd was still very into them, a few even headbanging from the instant the band started to play.

When you have three guitars being played simultaneously as O’Brother often does, you run the risk of at least one of them being lost in the sheer force of your sound, however this never seemed to happen. Every single band member looked right at home on such a large stage, most notably vocalist Tanner Merritt who moved around the stage constantly while not singing. Guitarist Johnny Dang and bassist Anton Dang were constantly rocking out, their long hair frequently obscuring their faces from the crowd. Throughout the band’s (far too short for my tastes) 30 minute set, the band won over more and more of the crowd, each applause between songs louder than the one before it. After the band concluded with two songs from the upcoming album “Garden Window”, the crowd even seemed reluctant to let the band leave, however with two more openers and a headliner to follow, there was no time for more songs to be played. Look out for “Garden Window” to be released digitally on November 15th, and make sure to get to Thrice’s tour early to catch O’Brother at work!

All photos by Michel R Dussack

13 Jun

It has been a decade since one of the most unlikely successes in music history was released. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is one of the 10 top-selling soundtracks of all time (according to the RIAA), the No. 1-selling soundtrack and the 17th biggest album of the 21st Century, with more than nine million albums sold. On August 16, UMe will celebrate this 10th Anniversary with an expanded two-CD set, O Brother, Where Art Thou? – Deluxe Edition, with legendary original producer T Bone Burnett personally involved in all aspects of this release.

The album that rocketed bluegrass, roots and even Americana music from the 20th Century into the new millennium features a 17-track bonus disc. Thirteen of these newly-released songs were recorded during original sessions for the film, and all except “Cow Road” and “I’ll Fly Away” went unheard on-screen. This release marks the first time these tracks have been made available in any format.

Produced by 12-time GRAMMY® Award- and Academy Award-winner T Bone Burnett, the original O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack from the 2000 film–written, directed and produced by the Coen Brothers and starring George Clooney–shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 and Country charts and became a bona fide music phenomenon, despite scant radio airplay. Along with ALBUM OF THE YEAR honors, the album won GRAMMYs® for “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” performed by Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen and Pat Enright, and “O Death” by the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley.

The second disc of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? – Deluxe Edition features artists who appeared on the original album (John Hartford, Norman Blake, the Fairfield Four, the Cox Family and the Peasall Sisters) plus some who did not (Colin Linden, Alan O’Bryant, Ed Lewis and Van Dyke Parks). The disc’s previously recorded tracks are a pair from Duke Ellington, “Tom Devil” by Ed Lewis and the Prisoners, and “I’ll Fly Away” by the Kossoy Sisters.

The music from O Brother, Where Art Thou? spawned an award-winning hit album and a groundbreaking Nashville concert. The resulting documentary film of that show, Down From The Mountain, led to another GRAMMY®-winning album and a sold-out U.S. tour. A decade later, this landmark album, alternate versions of many of its songs, and other recordings from the film have been brought together for the first time to introduce new fans to this great music and reward longtime fans with a new treasure trove of musical gems from the original sessions.

Track Listing:

O Brother, Where Art Thou? – Deluxe Edition


Disc One: The Original O Brother Where Art Thou

1. “Po’ Lazarus” – James Carter and prisoners
2. “Big Rock Candy Mountain” – Harry McClintock
3. “You Are My Sunshine” – Norman Blake
4. “Down To The River To Pray” – Alison Krauss
5. “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” – The Soggy Bottom Boys
6. “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” – Chris Thomas King
7. “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” – Norman Blake
8. “Keep On The Sunny Side” – The Whites
9. “I’ll Fly Away” – Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch
10. “Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby” – Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss &
Gillian Welch
11. “In The Highways” – Sarah, Hannah, and Leah Peasall
12. “I Am Weary, Let Me Rest” – The Cox Family
13. “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” – John Hartford
14. “O Death” – Ralph Stanley
15. “In The Jailhouse Now” – The Soggy Bottom Boys
16. “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” – The Soggy Bottom Boys
17. “Indian War Whoop”- John Hartford
18. “Lonesome Valley” – Fairfield Four
19. “Angel Band” – The Stanley Brothers
Disc Two: Bonus Disc

* Unreleased Tracks

* 1. “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” – Colin Linden * 2. “You Are My Sunshine” – Alan O’Bryant * 3. “Tishamingo County Blues” – John Hartford 4. “Mood Indigo” – Duke Ellington * 5. “Cow Road” – T Bone Burnett 6. “I’ll Fly Away” – The Kossoy Sisters * 7. ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain” – Van Dyke Parks 8. “Admiration” – Duke Ellington 9. “Tom Devil” – Ed Lewis and the Prisoners* 10. “Keep On The Sunny Side” – The Cox Family* 11. “Angel Band” – Sarah, Hannah, and Leah Peasall * 12. “Big Rock Candy Mountain” – Norman Blake* 13. “Little Sadie” – Norman Blake* 14. “In The Highways” – The Cox Family* 15. “That Hog’s Foot Further In The Bed” – John Hartford* 16. “The Lord Will Make A Way” – Fairfield Four* 17. “In The Jailhouse Now” – Harley Allen