May 6, 2007

Kings of Leon make me taste blood

I saw Kings of Leon at a sold-out show last night at the Ogden, and it was possibly the best show I’ve seen so far this year.

In addition to a catalog of songs that grows and shimmers live, I was completely blown away and converted by the stage presence (and yes, swagger) of these brother/cousins who acted like they’d been doing this for decades. My pal in attendance pointed out the similar brooding demeanor of guitarist Matthew Followill to Keith Richards, and I have to say that I saw more than a little of Jagger’s panache in Caleb’s frontman posturing. This was very good. As a band they were tight, intense, and a real joy to witness doin’ their thing.

Although the show was short at 70 minutes (and left me with a strong hankering for more), the setlist was top-notch, heavy on the older stuff, with a crowd absolutely bursting with enthusiasm. This spilled over and manifested itself in shoving and attempts at moshing — leaving me with a head-butt to the mouth and the taste of my own blood.

But the ferocity of the music fully recharged my soul in that inarticulable way, and I cannot recommend this tour strongly enough. Any guys who are confident enough to write and sing a song like “Soft” deserve due notice in my book. Ha. This is a band that absolutely needs to be seen live to be fully appreciated. Sure, I’d heard their studio albums, but it really didn’t prepare me for the sheer . . . supernova of last night.

My Third House (b-side) – Kings of Leon

(A great recent b-side from the On Call CDS which actually has lyrics about Colorado so clearly there’s a theme here)

Opening band Snowden was . . . snowed in (and isn’t it ironic). They didn’t make it out of Wyoming, so local band Born In The Flood filled in and impressed me as well. All my Denver friends keep telling me to check them out, and their set last night convinced me to give their music a closer listen. Last night was time well-spent on all fronts.

KOL image credit

For all that we’ve gained, what have we lost?

Some of you may have seen this linked over on Stereogum, but it is definitely worth a read for the true music lover. It’s a post from last year by Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff that really made me think about the way I consume and appreciate music.

READ: On File-Sharing, by Will Sheff
Originally posted on

Here are the paragraphs that made my brain whir and click:

The internet – with its glut not only of information but of misinformation, and of information that is only slightly correct, or only slightly incorrect – fills me with this same weird mixture of happiness and depression. I sometimes feel drowned in information, deadened by it. How many hundreds of bored hours have you spent mechanically poring through web pages not knowing what you’re looking for, or knowing what you’re looking for but not feeling satisfied when you find it? You hunger but you’re not filled. Everything is freely available on the internet, and is accordingly made inestimably valuable and utterly value-less.

When I was a kid, I’d listen to the same records over and over and over again, as if I was under a spell. The record would end and I’d flip it over again, doing absolutely nothing, letting the music wash over me. My favorite record albums become like a totem for me, their big fat beautiful gatefolds worked as a shield against the loud, crashing, crushing world. I would have laid down my life and died in defense of a record like Tonight’s the Night or Astral Weeks. I felt that those records had, in some ways, saved my life. These days, with all the choice in the world, it’s hard for me find the attention span for a single album. I put my iPod on shuffle and skip impatiently to the next song before each one’s over. I don’t even know what I’m looking for.

Do read the rest of the reflection, and listen to over a dozen mp3s (not . . . full albums) of Okkervil River’s music on their website.

I wouldn’t trade the freedom to find and discover new music that the internet offers us now, but I definitely feel crushed by the miscellany and the weight of it all sometimes, with hardly a free moment to just sit and enjoy without the feeling the compulsion to shuffle and import and rip and rearrange.

I found myself near a foreign record player recently, surrounded by stacks of fantastically well-loved vinyl that fairly screamed of time well spent. Because of the slick and facile siren song of my iPod, where the only evidence of attention given is in the playcount on iTunes that ticks steadily upward as I add a song onto a new playlist with a press of a round white button, to some degree I feel that I lack that concentrated focus & discovery of deep beauty in my life right now.

Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →