do you remember what the music meant?

I've spent quite a bit of time at The EARL lately, with two shows in a row and possibly another next week. Despite sometimes having egregious sound problems, its probably my second-favorite venue in the city, after the Drunken Unicorn. Both are roughly the size of someone's master bedroom, with the vestigages of thousands of punk rock shows over the years. Both have also more recently morphed into venues for hip hop and indie shows.

The first show I saw this week was Pretty Girls Make Graves' final tour. PGMG is one of my all-time favorite bands. Not because they are from Seattle or because they have two women, though both make them extra special to me. As a band, they are so consistent, across all 3 albums. Everything is so sharp and put together, despite all of the distortion and heavy bass.

It was probably the most emotional show I've ever been to. It was Andrea Zollo's birthday, and after the audience sang her "Happy Birthday," she left the stage and cried for awhile. Later, the encore almost didn't happen because a few of the band members were crying. The whole thing was just really sad, like visiting an old friend for the last time. There was definitely an atmosphere of mourning surrounding everything. Despite all of that, PGMG's performance totally rocked. I missed the first two songs, but they mostly played songs from The New Romance and Elan Vital. When the pre-encore part of the show was over I was kind of sad because I thought I'd missed "Speakers Push the Air," which is obviously their best song. Fortunately, the encore was even better than the show itself. They played "The Getaway," "This is Our Emergency," and "Speakers Push the Air" with so much energy that I thought the floor was going to fall out from under me. "Speakers Push the Air" was such an appropriate song with which to end the set, given that the band is on their final tour. It might be the best song about loving music ever written. For now, I will choose to believe that it is. Awesome. Just awesome. RIP, Pretty Girls Make Graves.

Pretty Girls Make Graves: Speakers Push the Air

The next night, I saw Laura Veirs . She's a good example of a musician who seemed aesthetically out of place in the venue but ended up being awesome. I credit Charles and Peel for turning me onto her--Charles for posting "Don't Lose Yourself" a few months ago, and Peel for adding it to a playlist of songs I listen to a lot.

I'm so drawn to Laura Veirs' voice--it reminds me of a younger Susan Anway (think the Magnetic Fields' "The Saddest Story Ever Told," on The Wayward Bus). She produces a really strong sound, with tiny hints of ambivalence and a natural airyness that imprints itself on my mind for hours after I listen to her. I tend to enjoy female vocalists because they pull off these elements really well. LV was especially good live in this respect, perhaps because the size of the room was really conducive to hearing the delicacy of her voice. She was a bit unrefined live vs. recorded, but given my love of anti-folk, I'm not complaining. I'd definitely see her again.

You can get the whole show at Cable and Tweed.


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