Live Shots: Andrew Bird

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Shortly after graduation from Northwestern University with a BA in violin performance, Andrew Bird began his career like so many other twenty-something hopefuls…with a self-released album (Music of Hair, 1996). Over the past 18 years, Bird has soared through dive bars and music festivals, making performance pitstops at landmarks like Carnegie Hall and New Orleans’ Preservation Hall. As the Midwestern multi-instrumentalist and world-class whistler prepares to hit the road again this summer in support of his latest release, I Want to See Pulaski at Night, we take a look back at some of our favorite live shots.

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Live Shots: Wilco

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Just before taking the stage at Chicago’s Civic Opera House, Wilco warmed up by covering The Band’s “The Weight” with opening artist Nick Lowe and legendary gospel singer, Mavis Staples.

These are a few shots from Wilco’s stop at The Fillmore in Detroit:

(Staff Info Sheet – The “expected demographic” made us laugh)

Video Source: Nick Lowe

Tour Tales: Destroy This Place

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Just as the name suggests, the Metro Detroit supergroup Destroy This Place intends to take no prisoners. Although Ryan Allen, Sean SommerMonday Busque and John Nelson describe their latest outfit as “Fugazi playing 70s power-pop, weaned on thrash metal, hip-hop cassettes, indie-rock’s heyday of seven inch singles, and Magnet  Magazine,” Destroy This Place is really just a band of “four beautiful men in their 30s with responsibilities and respectable bedtimes,” or so they say.  The gentlemen of Destroy This Place kicked off their latest tour on September 29th with London’s latest export, Yuck, and proceeded to document the Midwestern mayhem they witnessed in this exclusive tour diary:

 

Day 1 – September 29, 2011

Tour kick off party w/Yuck & Porcelain Raft

@ The Magic Stick  – Detroit, MI

 

Is a weekend on the road considered a tour?  Well, when you’re in a band of 30-somethings with day jobs, two of whom are fathers and husbands, two days on the road absolutely counts as a tour.  Was this show really a tour kick off party?  Well, let’s just say that we were lucky enough to be added to the bill at the last minute, and the show just so happened to occur on the day before we left for tour.  Was this show a blast, despite having to work at 7am the next morning?  Hell yes!  Monday thrashed around the stage so viciously that he kept unplugging his bass. Sean slammed on his drum kit with such power, that he cut his hand open and sprayed blood all over the stage.  The crowd was awesome, Yuck was awesome, we were awesome, and getting to work on time in the morning was no easy task.

 

Day 2 – September 30, 2011

Destroy This Place w/Craig Ramsey & Tunabunny

@ The Happy Dog – Cleveland, OH

After the excitement of leaving town dies down (roughly 5 minutes after merging onto the freeway), you have to find ways of entertaining yourself on the road.  Did Sean treat the band to a tour of “romantic destinations” while driving through the Downriver, Michigan area?  Yes.  Did we listen to the major label debut from Babes in Toyland on cassette tape? Unfortunately.  Did we see Jeff Milo and Chevy Chase doppelgangers at Subway?  Yes!

Arriving at The Happy Dog fashionably late during Tunabunny’s set, we got the feeling that the crowd might not be into our style of music.  This was hilariously confirmed during our set, as people backed away from the stage and then slowly migrated outside to smoke after a few songs. Non-smokers began taking up smoking as an excuse to get away from our punishing onslaught.  Did this bum us out?  No.  Did Ryan declare to the remaining crowd members that we had “weeded out the pussies?”  Yes.  Did we screw around and play three cover songs to make the night more fun for us?  Yes.  After watching the splendid Craig Ramsey and his band, Craig was nice enough to host us for the night at his house.  Did Ryan and Sean drink 40s?  Yes.  Did we watch a movie about trains hitting stuff?  Yes.  Is Craig Ramsey’s bathroom the best?  Yes.

 

Day 3 – October 1, 2011

Destroy This Place w/Lasers and Fast and Shit & Hospital Garden

@ Pancho’s – Chicago, IL 

To prepare for the 6+ hour drive to Chicago from Cleveland, we stopped at the Inn on Coventry in Cleveland for brunch, which we wholeheartedly recommend to anyone visiting the area. The drive to Chicago was long and relatively uninteresting. Did Sean enjoy a mini Butterfinger Blizzard that he purchased at a rest stop?  Hell yes he did!

When we arrived at Pancho’s, we discovered the venue was hosting an early hip-hop show before our set, so after loading in our gear, we continued our weekend of consuming complete garbage and ate pizza at The Boiler Room. From there, we headed to the Logan Bar & Grill to meet Monday’s friends, Chris and Heather (who graciously offered to put us up in their cozy apartment for the night).  Ryan, John, and Sean then migrated into the van to relax. Did Ryan relax?  Yes. Did Sean and John sit in the van and freak out over how many attractive women they saw walking around the streets of Chicago? Definitely.

After we had our fill of Chicago nightlife, we headed to the venue to hang out. Pancho’s is a cool place that we would revisit just to hang out with the staff.  The owner (Pancho, duh!) constructed bizarre physics experiments at the bar to the delight of some female patrons.


We also didn’t know whether the custom drink tickets we were given were supposed to be a joke or not.

 

The Show

Okay, let’s get one thing straight – Hospital Garden is amazing.  We walked into this show knowing next to nothing about this band and were so pleasantly surprised by their thoroughly enjoyable set.  Also, the band consists of a group of great people; we really feel fortunate to know them.


After Hospital Garden’s set, we took the stage.  Was this show fun?  Yes.  Did Pancho himself spontaneously join us on stage to play percussion during “Hold Tights?”  Yes.  Did Pancho then leave the stage briefly, only to return with a saxophone?  YES!  We had a blast and the crowd was amazing.

 

Lasers and Fast and Shit closed out the night. If you’ve never seen this band’s live set, you should feel sorry for yourself. They have a crazy fog/light show extravaganza, which, combined with how much the band rules, makes for an amazing experience.  Were any of the bands, audience members, or bar owners tonight [smoking deck bailers]? No way.


Day 4 –  October 2, 2011

Chicago to Detroit

@ Home! 

On the way home, we jammed the Hospital Garden CD that we scored in a “cool band record trade.” By scanning the radio, we also caught the Detroit Lions’ comeback from a huge deficit to go 4-0 this season (John was especially pumped about this).  We also ate one final, awesomely unhealthy meal before heading back to reality.

In retrospect, when looking back on this weekend, we realize that some bands go off and do what we did for weeks, or months at a time.  After three long days and nights in a row of traveling and playing shows, we felt exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home. It isn’t easy to say that we can’t hang like we used to; now, we just do things on a level that is so physically and psychologically draining that it’s not possible to keep up that kind of lifestyle for more than a few days.  Was this weekend the shit? Yes.  Do we feel lucky that we had the opportunity to go on tour and do we hope to do this again in the future? Totally!

Destroy This Place: Pioneers from Scott Allen on Vimeo.

Special thanks to Sean Sommer for the commentary and photos.

Band Photo Credit – CJ Benninger