Friday, July 27, 2012

Hometown Boys on Big Time TV

Cleveland's two biggest names right now have been on TV in the past couple weeks.

Cloud Nothings on Fallon… ah, I remember the good old days.


MGK on Jay Leno (need to jump to 38:17 - thx Scene).  Love this guy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Article: The Young and the Digitally Restless

A nice summation of what Spotify needs to do, though I can't imagine a scenario where I would adopt that approach completely

The Young and the Digitally Restless

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A new, technologically capable generation of music listeners is approaching adulthood. These former MySpacers are evolving into sophisticated music consumers with new and challenging expectations.

They have heightened demands for mobility and social connectivity; they value the freedom to actively seek music, and also the choice to passively discover it. They don’t acknowledge the monetary value of songs like they do trading cards, but instead collect them like seashells, freely and effortlessly. They do so because it’s their recently discovered ‘birthright’ in this digital age, and because they can."

(Continued... The Young and the Digitally Restless)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tomorrow: Two Great Choices (Fang Island & A Lull)

A choice… one band (A Lull @ Beachland Tavern / $8) I just saw at Pitchfork Music Festival and really enjoyed the. The next is a band (Fang Island @ Grog Shop / $12) who I've had on my calendar so many times that my brain thinks I've seen them before (a thorough search of my shit says I haven't).  Basing my decision on a penchant for the unknown, I'm going Fang Island.  This recent concert review didn't hurt.

VICE Magazine: Live Review of Fang Island's New York Show | SARGENT HOUSE

"Friday night at Bowery Ballroom, Fang Island released their new album, Major, while playing all the guitars. The music must have been laced or bewitched with some sort of auditory-response mechanism, because everyone seemed to lose control of their limbs and start shredding air guitars, as if the band was summoning the ghosts of dead rock star’s guitars and we were being possessed by the ghost guitars. I myself had to re-string my ghost guitar like three times, and that was spooky. As an album, if I had to give Major a rank, I would promote it to General."

(Continued... VICE Magazine: Live Review of Fang Island's New York Show | SARGENT HOUSE)

0719me fangisland

New Record Store / Performance Space in CLE


Very cool…  Congrats Cellar Door!  Wish I were going to be around for the Launch Party on Friday, esp. with the likes of The Modern Electric, Light & the Whaler and Brian Straw.

cellar door launches cleveland only record store, performance space

The grassroots, pro-Cleveland music collective Cellar Door is launching a new performance space, Cleveland-only record store and office space in the Loftworks building at East 40th and Superior.

The creative space, which features antique wood floors, high ceilings and large windows, is intended to not only foster a 'community among listeners' among local music fans, but also to reach people who are unaware of Cleveland's distinctive music scene."

(Continued... cellar door launches cleveland only record store, performance space)

Video Tuesday (for realz)

Mixing some new & old(er) here.  First is quite the interesting video from Passion Pit for I'll be Alright.  I almost  dismissed it, but ended up being glued, and impressed.  Next up is a sweet (as in touching) video for Mika's Make You Happy.  Then let's get political with Santigold and her video for The Keepers (another great video).

Bonus this week is by a TZA fav, Diamond Rings.  He's had a stellar video before, but this doesn't quite do it for me.  I like the song and definitely want to support him.

Article: Why Copyright Is Evil

Worth the read

Why Copyright Is Evil

Copyright is dying – that is obvious to everyone. What isn’t obvious to everyone, especially in the music industry, is what a glorious and just outcome this is.

International copyright only came into being in 1891 – very recent considering the long history of music and the arts. And it was publishers – not artists – who convinced governments to foist the system on us. Prior to that, during monarchical times ‘copyright’ was permission granted to writers by the king to print what was politically correct. It was government that introduced the entire concept of ‘idea ownership’ – the basis of copyrights and patents – precisely so it could crush the ideas it didn’t like. Copyright has rotten origins.

So Why is it Evil?

We must first understand what property is, since copyright is based on the notion that ideas are property.

Property begins with one’s ownership of one’s body, and extends to all the resources one acquires through

  1. Trade (i.e. buying and selling)
  2. Manual labor (i.e. creation)
  3. Homesteading (aka ‘squatting’ on a resource no one had yet claimed)

This can mean simply the clothes on your back, or a small ranch house in the suburbs on a quarter acre or, like Bill Gates, a 40% share in a $70 billion company. They’re all property.

The one thing all physical property has in common is scarcity. Dirt, houses, livestock animals, software companies – they’re all made up of physical matter that is in limited supply. How limited is relative – obviously a pound of dirt is much less scarce than a huge software company. That’s why their market prices are so different. But there’s a reason that, for example, air and light are free: they are not scarce at all and require no human labor to produce.

Scarcity is not some esoteric concept – it’s at the core of most economic theories. Economists and law philosophers write about it and its role in prices, competition, entrepreneurship and a host of other areas. Scarcity is a basic reality of existence in human society.

Ideas as ‘Property’

Now consider ideas and artistic works. A CD recording of a performance is obviously a scarce physical commodity – it takes resource and labor to record and manufacture. But that’s not why CDs used to cost $20+ back in the 1990s. They cost that much because of the copyrighted sounds – that is, ideas – imprinted on the discs. This is also why most CDs these days cost around $10 – because copyright is in the latter stages of decay, due to competition from other media. The cost of a CD is falling back toward the actual cost (plus markup) of the scarce, plastic piece of physical property that it is.

But the law still says that the CD contents – the ideas imprinted on it – are copyrighted. This essentially means that the CD is not wholly your property, like a pound of dirt, or a painting, or a company is if you own these things. Copyright puts the CD owner in a bizarre circumstance where the original publisher retains some ownership of your CD even after you’ve paid your $10-20 for it.

But the musical ideas on the CD are not scarce. If I share the ideas with my friends by playing them the CD, the original owner hasn’t lost his own copy of them. I haven’t ‘stolen’ anything from him. Like air and water molecules, the sound waves that make up a musical performance are in such great supply that no one is made poorer if they are replicated ad infinitum.

Therefore, musical ideas in their raw form of pure sound – fail the test of true property. They therefore cannot be ‘owned’, and sharing them or even re-selling copies of them in different media cannot be considered theft or fraud. It may still be illegal to do so, but that only makes copyright one of the thousands of illegitimate sausage laws that clog the statutes and unjustly limit our liberty. And as we’ve seen in the last 15 years, the only way to sustain copyright enforcement in an era of disruptive technology is to erect a large and oppressive government apparatus.

This is why the institution of copyright is evil – it thwarts true law (property and ownership), and requires jackboot tactics to enforce.

So What’s a Musician To Do?

So if modern copyright is only 121 years old, how on earth did Bach, Beethoven & Brahms survive and thrive without it?

It’s easy to understand – just look around you now.

The music industry today is going back to the future – like Beethoven, artists are now surviving by hustling the old fashioned way: boot-strapping public performances and touring. Or, like Bach, they’re subsidizing their song-writing passion by taking side-jobs at the local church or school. Of course, they’re also getting creative and using today’s amazing technology to implement the business models like Connect-With-Fans+Reason-To-Buy.

Can musicians sit back and collect royalties and a share of the huge monopoly profits of yesteryear? Nope. But, those were the days of the golden handcuffs and the chosen few. The only artists who whine and complain now about those ‘good old’ days are either

  1. Old artists who came up in the old days and are wistful of the time when they only had to record an album every three years to earn 5 times what they earn now, or
  2. Young artists who are too lazy to boot-strap things themselves and wish success was handed to them

But as Seth Godin has proved, these days you have to choose yourself to make your own success.

I encourage musicians to read up more on this topic – all you need to do is google ‘against copyright’ and similar terms to begin the journey to a more common-sense philosophy on this subject that is so close to musicians’ hearts and wallets.

Ben Sommer is a composer and performer making edgy, political prog-rock. His music has been described as an original blend of Frank Zappa, Iron Maiden, XTC & Public Image Limited - with the bitter lyrical worldview of Warren Zevon and Donald Fagen.

Hear his music here, and read his other writings on his blog.


(Continued... Why Copyright Is Evil)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Beach House (7/19/12)

What a dilemma.  This was one of those shows that I would have to seriously consider going to based purely on venue.  I had just seen (part of) Beach House at Pitchfork, but the real draw for me was Wild Nothing opening.  Their past album was one of my favorites, and they ultimately swayed me.  I made sure to get there early, as a guaranteed early night is one of the few perks of HOB.  Wild Nothing had more of a "band sound" than I was expecting, but that was a pleasant surprise.

Wild Nothing (7/19/12)

Beach House wasn't bad.  They sounded pretty good, but I can't say their live show added much to their recorded sound. OK.

Beach House (7/19/12)

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012

My 4th year going to this awesome festival.  I wish I could say consecutive, but I did skip a year, dammit.  I say awesome because it's just the right size, because I need to research most of the performers, and it's Chicago!  This year we found a "quaint" bed & breakfast in Boys Town and stayed Thursday through Monday.  Very casual with timing, which was really nice.  We leisurely made our way to the festival each day, but there near the start for each of them.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012

Friday we started out with Olivia Tremor Control, A$AP Rocky, Big K.R.I.T..  The rain backed up the schedule by an hour, but stages seemed to vary, so it was hard to keep up with who was playing when.  I was glad we caught Big K.R.I.T. because I'm enjoying his southern Rap style.  Dirty Projectors weren't bad, but they had NO stage presence, and didn't quite make up for that in other ways.  We swung by the Blue stage to see Purity Ring who sounded amazing, but only swung by to catch a tune of Feist before leaving.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012

Saturday was the big day.  We made sure to be there in time for our own Cloud Nothings - which ended up being the show of the festival.  The rain came down at the end of their set and killed power, to which they remained energized and performed acoustically to a crowd who never gave up.  Moments like that make Festivals.  Read a better account over at I Rock Cleveland. From there we caught some Atlas Sound (meh.) and then Cults - who Matt was quite excited for.  Something fell flat with them.  Only caught a bit more of Youth Lagoon (yet again) and just camped out at the Blue Stage for a while.  We stayed through Nicholas Jaar, then back out for Wild Flag, back to blue for Schoolboy Q and back out for Sleigh Bells (HOB was better).  Back to blue for the Chromatics (sounded great!) but only for a second because I didn't want to miss Hot Chip and was planning on the Chromatics after-party (which ended up being sold out) :-(.  Hot chip was a PARTY.  This night ended (oddly) with GRIMES back at the Blue stage, but wasn't compelling enough to stay to the end.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012

Sunday we started early with an excellent A Lull and then to Unknown Mortal Orchestra.  We took a break for posters, then was back to catch Ty Segall on the same stage - with some excellent crowd surfing. We then bounced from Real Estate to Kendrick Lamar, but were in the back and missed the Gaga debacle.  We then just hung out in the main area for AraabMuzik (fun), Beach House (good) but decided to bail on Vampire Weekend.  Probably a mistake, but I've seen them before (at Pitchfork!), and it was a long weekend.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012

Overall - I already can't wait for next year.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beat Connection (7/11/12)

This second double-header night was going a bit smoother.  We made it in time to catch White Arrows who were pretty good.  Cute guys if anything.

White Arrows (7/11/12)

Beat Connection was awesome!  I've been posting about these guys for a while, so it was nice to finally see them - and I'm thrilled it was at the Grog Shop. I'll admit the 3 different yet simultaneous cameras circling the bands took a toll on the overall experience, but these guys put out the sound I was hoping for. Their entire set was beachy elctro-pop & upbeat.

Beat Connection (7/11/12)

Beat Connection (7/11/12)

Cloud Nothings (7/11/12)

Cloud Nothings kicked off another highly anticipated year for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Summer in the City concert series.  Already well documented on my blog(s), this was a great way to start off this year.  Herzog opened.  Great to see, though I'm still hoping I'll get to see these guys in a more "traditional" venue sometime soon.

Herzog (7/11/012)

Cloud Nothings brought their amped up and new found respect with them to the performance.  I think the sound could have been better, otherwise they played a great set - and we were going to get to see them in a couple days at Pitckfork (as well).

Cloud Nothings (7/11/012)

Cloud Nothings (7/11/012)

Cloud Nothings (7/11/012)

Youth Lagoon (7/9/12)

Leave it to the night I'm hoping for a late show at the Grog, we get there by around 11:00, and we're walking in on the last song!  Drats!  This was the first of two double-header shows this week and it didn't start off all that well.  The Youth Lagoon song we did catch was great.  I even caught a quick photo… 

Youth Lagoon (7/9/12)

No worries though, I was going to get to catch these guys again at the Pitchfork Music Festival!

Sleigh Bells (7/9/12)

While Sleigh Bells were the headliner, I was more intrigued with the (mis-placed?) Class Actress as an opener.  But before we get to that, this show also introduced me to Jel as the very first opener.  Cool shit.  I don't know the name of that little electro-box he plays, but it's fun.

Jel (7/9/12)

Class Actress was up next, and I was still a little curious of her being on this bill.  It started off a little weak and did get better, but there was definitely something missing from her show.  Something felt off the whole night.  And by "off" I mean, I've seen her before and thought she was great.  This time… eh.  3 on DAKS.

Class Actress (7/9/12)

We had another show to go to, so we only stayed for a couple songs of Sleigh Bells, but it was you'd expect.  Ear-shattering, power pop/rock.  Definitely a time and place for that, and I can appreciate what these guys are doing - but doesn't feel like they have the staying power.

Sleigh Bells (7/9/12)

Sleigh Bells (7/9/12)

Fiona Apple (7/6/12)

I can't say I jumped on this show when it was announced.  Some friends invited me to go, though I was actually hoping for a camping weekend.  That didn't pan out, but I wouldn't say I settled on seeing Fiona Apple - especially after her amazing performance.  I adored Fiona's first album, but drifted away from her music more with each album.  I barely listened to this new one, but I'll definitely give it a second chance after seeing an energized Fiona belt her songs out on stage.  Man she's flexible. (link to review below)

Fiona Apple (7/6/12)

Fiona Apple delivers a riveting evening of alt-music cabaret at Cain Park |

Catching Fiona Apple in concert is like working for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. You always have to be prepared for the "

(Continued... Fiona Apple delivers a riveting evening of alt-music cabaret at Cain Park |

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DJ-Kicks My Digitalism Ass

Like Dance Music? (c'mon, admit it...)  You're gonna love the new Digitalism DJ-Kicks album.  I've been a super-fan of Digitalism for a while and this is super-fun.  Check it out.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tomorrow: Fiona Apple @ Cain Park

Score one for Cain Park getting the Fiona Apple show, especially as she's touring on her new album which is getting some great buzz.  See what should be a phenomenal show in a phenomenal venue!  Here's some enticement:

Video Tuesday-ish

Rounding out and catching up on some videos… check out Dr. Dog's Lonesome, Here We Go Magic's How Do I Know, First Aid Kit's Blue

Here's a little bonus gem from Dan Mangan.

Neil Diamond (7/1/12)

As I hope you can attest, this is not the kind of show I normally post.  However, I also have a soft-spot for theatrics - and free tickets, so when my friend offered me one, I took it.  I've been known to not turn the station when a Neil Diamond song comes on, I might have even turned it up a time or two.  So I was curious to see what a sold out Neil Diamond show looked and sounded like.  I have to say, for his age, Neil is still sounding good. Check it out:

Neil Diamond (7/1/12)

Neil Diamond (7/1/12)

Summer Solstice Party (6/30/12)

After the Waterloo Arts Festival, we got cleaned up from the heat and headed over to the Cleveland Museum of Art for the 10pm entrance of their Summer Solstice Party.  I've gone every year and plan to continue the tradition - as I've always said, I think it's Cleveland's party of the year.  The music, food and people were amazing, including the stunning interactivity of slinging graffiti on the front facade of the building.  Win Win Win. Win.

Summer Solstice (6/30/12)

Summer Solstice (6/30/12)

Summer Solstice (6/30/12)


Summer Solstice (6/30/12)

Gang Gang Dance 10:00 p.m. Gang Gang Dance has honed a type of electronica that is equal parts tribal-futurism and dance music based on perfectly controlled havoc, emphasizing the ritualistic elements of their sound.

Nortec Collective Presents Bostich & Fussible 11:00 p.m. In Tijuana, Mexico, the so-called Nortec movement took shape when producers began fusing cutting-edge electronic music with traditional music of the region such as norteño and banda. This collective explores their take on the norteño and techno blend.

Novalima 12:30 a.m. Novalima is the band that has revolutionized the music scene in their native Peru. Novalima combines a passion for traditional Afro-Peruvian music and modern DJ culture. Their shared fascination with afro beat, dub reggae, latin, and electronic music has resulted in platinum status and worldwide touring.

Waterloo Arts Festival 2012

A great day for a great festival.  It was a hot one, and we didn't get a chance to see much music - but thought I'd share some photos… 

Waterloo Arts Festival 2012

Waterloo Arts Festival 2012

Waterloo Arts Festival 2012

Waterloo Arts Festival 2012

Waterloo Arts Festival 2012

Sarah McLachlan (6/27/12)

As much as I love going to shows, I'm elated to have been part of both my niece and nephew's first concerts.  For my niece, her first show was Lilith Fair back in 2010 (she was 2).  She loved it so much, I was really excited to take her and her mother (my sister) to see Sarah McLachlan at the Toledo Zoo.  She was sooo excited.  I've seen Sarah many times before, but there was definitely somethings special about going with family on this night.

Sarah McLachlan (6/27/12)

Sarah McLachlan (6/27/12)

Sarah McLachlan (6/27/12)