Saturday, August 20, 2011

Terry Lowe's John Butler Trio Concert Review (repost of 2008)

As most of our readers are aware, Terry Lowe is no longer with us. However, Terry's words and photographs will always remain with swanktrendz. I have reposted Terry's John Butler Trio concert review, as, in 2008, he had never heard of the group and was very reluctant to go. Fortunately, I cajoled him into attending and by the end of the evening, he had commented several times about the obvious talent each of the band members possessed.

In hindsight, I am pleased Terry went with me; I'm relieved he enjoyed the music, and content with our pizza stopover. I was pleasantly surprised that he wrote his article the moment he got home, rather than take a break from an evening that had been 'forced' upon him.

We are reposting Terry's article because the John Butler Trio played last night in Victoria, and they're finishing up in Salmon Arm, Sunday night! (That should be amazing as it is a small city.)

I know a lot has happened to JBT since 2008, e.g. new bassist and drummer; as well as an album release - April Uprising - in 2010. Two of its songs reached the top 5 in Australia. I anticipate the songs, Close to You and One Way Road will be performed, and I would appreciate a post detailing what other songs from JBT 2010's album were played. In general, if someone would like to share Victoria's set list, that would be appreciated.

I'd like to think that Terry's concert review is still relatively applicable (re: talent). I'd like to thank you for indulging me with a memory of a friend.

Commodore Ballroom, Apr 12, 2008 - Sold Out

Visit Swanktrendz

Live Nation Listings

An email from Christine instructed me to meet her in front of the Commodore at 10 p.m. to see the John Butler Trio. "Who's the John Butler Trio?" I wondered, turning to Google.

I soon found that they are a platinum-selling band from Australia, best known for wide-ranging, eclectic, and somewhat improvised stage shows. Their best known release, to date, is 2003's Sunrise Over Sea. I also saw many plaintive queries on various message boards asking "Where can I get a ticket for this show? I NEED a ticket!" and so forth.

Here's what we saw: a giant drum set, a standup (i.e. acoustic) bass, and an amplified acoustic guitar. They were joined occasionally by a keyboard player, and I was certain there was a second electric guitarist in the background, but was informed it was a guitar tuning tech.

The word "trio" is usually reserved for jazz ensembles, and there were some similarities here: the upright-bass player, who also played a standard electric bass guitar, at times played his acoustic bass with a bow; they played extended instrumental pieces; and the musical range was all over the map. There, though, the similarities ended.

They are excellent musicians, far more instrumentalists than singers/"rock stars" who revel in mixing and matching genres and making it work. They are very versatile, imaginative, and well-rehearsed. John Butler is a superb string player (who also plays a banjo), and can coax an amazing range of sounds from an amplified 12-string acoustic guitar. The drummer was also very good, and even had a Jamaican steel drum that he played with pom-pons. And the bass player stood there and held it all together, as good bass players should.

The audience was thoroughly familiar with the material, even if I wasn't, and they loved it. This band is definitely original, and I was left wishing I'd known more about them going in (there's always time to learn), and was puzzled by the crowds' reaction at times.

I've been to any number of jazz shows over the years, and seen some famous players (Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Frank Zappa, and even Captain Beefheart). I've also been to classic punk shows and seen The Clash, Iggy Pop, DOA, and so forth. At jazz shows, the audience applauds solos, but there's no mosh pit and no one EVER pogos. At the punk shows, no one cared about solos ("Wankers!"), or even cared much about music - there it was all rebellious attitude.

Here, the crowd's reaction was a strange merger of the two. They both applauded the solo instrumental and pogo'd. I've never seen anything quite like it. And, outside of jazz shows, I'd never seen any band sit down and play an instrumental piece (Ocean) that went on for 15 minutes, yet still keep the crowd's rapt attention.

Image from

I was very impressed by this band, and admire their virtuosity and originality. If you're as clueless as I am about under-the-radar musicians, the John Butler Trio might just be the best band you've never heard of.

Members of the band are: John Butler, Michael Barker, Shannon Birchall

Thanks to Aaron for supplying the following set list:
Company Sin
Used To Get High
Somethings Gotta Give
Treat Your Mama
Thank You
Gov Did Nothing
Good As Gone
Groovin' Slowly
Good Excuse
Losing You w/Mama Kin
Better Than
Funky Tonight

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Enter Shikari By: Ian Albrecht Band Review

Enter Shikari is an electronically influenced/ enhanced, hardcore ‘screamo’ rock band who have received a lot of play on my ipod during this last year.

Enter Shakiri formed in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, in 2003. Since then they have released three albums: their debut, Take to the Skies, Common Dreads, andDestabilise. Their label, Ambush Reality (est. 2006) currently only lists Enter Shakiri in their stable of artists. (The band recently noted that much of their stock was affected by a fire started during the 2011 England Riots.)

The members of the band are: Roughton “Rou” Reynolds (lead vocals, keyboards , acoustic guitar, synthesizers and programming); Liam “Rory” Clewlow (backing vocals and guitars);Chris “Batty C” Batten (backing vocals and bass), and finally, Rob Rolfe (drums and percussion). Their individual abilities and sounds mesh together into a perfect musical blend, similar to the group Story of the Year's members.

As I mentioned, I've been playing this CD consistently since last Fall and I consider each of its songs to be ‘gold’. (A hard feat, given how critical I can be.) Two songs I’d like to highlight (for anyone new to the band) are Mothership and Sorry, You’re Not a Winner.

Mothership has an all round cool, haunting sound combined with unnerving structure; reminiscent of System of a Down. Mothership charted as “single of the week” when released on itunes. It has an unpredictable blend of trance and hardcore. You cannot settle into an Enter Shakiri song, predicting the upcoming melody ‘cause they’ll deliver something totally unexpected.

Sorry, You’re not a winner (my favourite) is simply… awesome – great vocals, amazing guitar, wicked bass, thrashing drums, mad hook, intelligent lyrics and a good mix up of trance electronics. As well, another interesting feature is the band’s incorporation of the audience/crowd. Gamers should recognize this song from 08 NHL’s EA Sportsvideo, and Madden 08.

(Interestingly, Enter Shakiri’s released songs continue to chart high, despite not being released in a physical format e.g. CD or on vinyl. This was purposely done at the band’s request.) Another unusual fact - Enter Shakiri is the second unsigned (by choice) band to sell out a concert at London’s Astoria. Clearly, this is a band we’ll be shadowing for some time to come.

Get Destabilised today - you won’t regret it (you might regret the time you wasted not knowing of their existence).

Here is a sampling of Enter Shikari’s nominations and awards.

2010: Nominated for “Best British Band”

2009: Nominated for “Best Live Band”

2007: Won Breakthrough Artist of the Year

2007: Won “Best Band Live”

2007: Won “Spirit of Independence”

2007: Won Rock Sounds magazine’s poll for “Who’s going to make it?”

2007: Won John Peel Award for Musical Innovation

2006: Nominated for Best British Newcomer

Don’t be surprised if Enter Shakiri’s next release is less synthesizer and more post hardcore. They got our attention by blending two unlikely sounds (trance and hardcore); now wait for them to discover yet another spiraling, uncharted soundscape.

Enter Shakiri's quote: "If you stand for nothing, you will fall for everything."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Career Rehab by Lannon McGregor

Attention celebrities: Has your career lost its spark? Do you suddenly find yourself waiting in line, like a schmuck, at your favorite restaurants? Has your agent stopped returning your phone calls?

Well Dr. Drew has just the prescription to rejuvenate your career and help you get back on top. Well… at least to the middle.

The program’s called ‘Celebrity Rehab’, the unscripted television series that cuts right to the heart of your most private affairs. Just pick up your nearest crack pipe, and/or bottle of scotch, and check yourself into the Pasadena Recovery Center. Why detox in private when you can do it in front of the glamorous eye of the camera?

At the Pasadena Recovery Center you'll find yourself surrounded by some of the most talented professionals in the field as well as some of Hollywood's top D-list stars. People such as:

Michael Lohan, Amy Fisher, Dennis Rodman, Heidi Fleiss, and the great Tom Sizemore!

Notice the instant changes in your popularity as people get to see a depiction of the real you instead of the spoiled celebrity they're used to seeing. Take Steven Adler for example (the original drummer for Guns N’ Roses). Adler was kicked out of GNR for his drug problems (which is akin to being kicked out of Rome for being Catholic) but with Dr. Drew’s help, he has become one of the most lovable heroin addicts on television.

So don't hesitate. Visit the Doctor and get your name back on the B-list where it belongs.