I wanted to make a radio show that would celebrate the true, absolute power that music holds. I play tracks that have influenced me emotionally, spiritually, and/or musically and talk about how/why they have done and continue to do so. I also play the best NEW MUSIC every other week. I typically have a theme other weeks, but sometimes I neglect to think of one and just play whatever I feel like.
But it gets boring riding solo ALL the time...I'm definitely open to guests coming on my show with playlists of their own and talking about why they selected those songs, what they mean to them, etc, as well as having bands on my show to perform live, play some of their recorded tracks, and/or just talk about whatever!
SO! If you'd like to be on my show, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find my Facebook fan page (search "Ian's Hour of Musical Power"; it should take you right there) and contact me there. And don't forget to "Like" it! I'm also on twitter at @ianshourofpower, so follow me!
Thanks for listening!
Foxygen finally took the stage to roars from the crowd. The band looked like it had come straight from Woodstock, with long flowing hair and colorful, flowery garments. To drive the point home, the curly-haired, cap-wearing guitarist looked like a Bob Dylan impersonator. Without saying a word, they made their opening statement: they are the hippies of now. The modern-day flower children. The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic.
And they proved it. They proceeded with their set of dreamy, beatnik rock and schizophrenic grooves, and the crowd danced and screamed the night away. They opened with a few 21st Century cuts, and I was initially unimpressed by the sound: the lead singer could not even be heard, and I couldn’t make out any actual lyrics—it all sounded like slurred mumbling and loud yelping. Eventually, though, the sound crew apparently got it together as the band exploded into the psychedelic album opener, “In the Darkness,”—one of my favorite cuts on the album—which sounded great! The short, bluesy jam “Bowling Trophies” was another treat, and later we heard some more of the album’s singles: the flowery pop of “San Francisco” and the ethereal ambience of “Shuggie.”
From there on out the music was good, the band was very tight with good on-stage chemistry and energy. The singer, Sam France, however, was another story all together. He was very animated and hyper, and accompanied his lyrics with coordinated movements and facial expressions. It was very intriguing to watch, and enjoyable at first, until he started taking (in my opinion) far too many creative liberties with the songs. He changed the melody up in the chorus of “San Francisco,” taking it much higher than on the recordings and utilizing a strained, Top 40-style vocal tone of which I was NOT a fan. He even rapped a little on “Shuggie:” the line “I met your daughter the other day/Well that was weird” became “I met your daughter the other day/YO THAT WAS WEIRD YA’LL!” It was corny, annoying and out-of-place.
But other than that, the singing was beautiful, pure, and in tune, and France was a great frontman! At least, when he was singing. The other area in which Foxygen, and mostly France, need improvement is stage banter. Between songs, France rambled about nonsense, trailed off mid-sentence, and made his best attempt at sounding profound. “I’m really bad at this stuff, you know,” he said. “Thoughts. The mind. The inner monologue. Like, what is reality? Are we even in this room, right now?” Kris and I exchanged a look that was some mix of bewildered and cynical.
Eventually, the crowd began heckling the poor performer.
“Most people just want me to shut up and play,” France said into the mike.
“Then shut up and play!”—A drunken yell from the crowd.
Amazingly, instead of perpetuating this painfully awkward situation, France simply said something like “All right, then.” and proceeded to comply.
Foxygen played some more cuts from their album, including the epic, building “On Blue Mountain,” which was a fun sing-along for all. They ended their set with a collaboration with members of Wampire on the tail end of 21st Century Ambassadors: “Oh Yeah,” the title cut, and “Oh No.” This made for a grand, spectacular ending for all, and the crowd went away with smiles on their faces.
Despite sound issues, quirky, unwelcome changes to the original album cuts, and the uncomfortable stage banter, the show was overall enjoyable. Foxygen is a fun, unique, and ever-interesting band to hear and observe, and they clearly love what they do and have fun doing it. If you like their albums enough, give their live show a chance! They’re definitely a band to keep an eye and an ear on.
I was excited for my second-ever Goodfoot Lounge experience, having recently attended my first show there (a Phish tribute band called Lawn Boy that features the bass player and mastermind behind this funk GNR tribute) and since decided the Goodfoot is one of my favorite venues in Portland. It has everything a music venue should (a sizeable stage, an adequate PA and lighting system, sufficient dancing space, a fun atmosphere, etc.) with the added element of a well-stocked bar with decent prices. Both times I’ve been there the crowd has been fun and enthusiastic, albeit very different from one another (Phish fans vs. GNR fans), and the vibes are always good.
The 8-piece ensemble known as Funk N’ Roses consists of Aniana Hough on vocals (Marv Ellis, Ben Darwish and Commotion present: A Talking Heads Halloween), Brett McConnell on bass (Lawn Boy, the Brett McConnell Lovetet), Kyle Smith on guitar (The Brett McConnell Lovetet), Josh Lava on keyboards (The Brett McConnell Lovetet, in addition to numerous other collaborations), Mitch Wilson on drums (The Hugs, Wilson Supergroup), Jon Ramm-Gramenz on trombone (Manimalhouse, Pocket), PSU instructor Farnell Newton on trumpet (The Doo Doo Funk All-Stars), and Joshua Cliburn on tenor saxophone (Joey Porter Funk Tributes). The band was exceptionally tight, and retained great energy and musical chemistry throughout their performance. I must admit I was expecting a little more funk and a little less rock n’ roll; the tunes seemed less funk arrangements of Guns N’ Roses songs and more Guns N’ Roses songs with added horns. This, however, was not a bad thing, and you would be surprised just how well GNR’s music lends itself to a horn section. The arrangements were well done, all of them by the multi-talented Brett McConnell over the course of several months, and featured beefy horn blasts, soaring background harmonies, and rhythmic hits abound.
Hough, a highly animated, petite bundle of excitement, played an exceptional Axl Rose, doing justice to his energy, stage performance, attitude, and wardrobe: she sported tight jeans, a black t-shirt, aviator sunglasses and a biker’s cap during the first set, and American flag booty shorts, red, white and blue stunna shades, and a bandana headband during the second. Throughout both sets, Hough interacted incessantly with the audience, running around and tickling, squeezing, slapping, flipping off and/or dancing with its members. On the mike, Hough, when not singing beautifully, demanded the audience’s reaction and enthusiasm, constantly asking questions like “ARE YOU READY TO ROOOCCCKK????” and dropping F-bombs every other sentence, true to the hair-metal way.
The rest of the band did the original GNR justice, with groovy-yet-melodic bass lines from McConnell; note-heavy, bluesy and/or lightning-fast guitar riffs and solos from Smith; lush keyboard accompaniment and a couple of tasty solos from Lava; and arena-worthy backbeats from Wilson. The horns were difficult to hear sometimes, but played their parts well, often doubling the guitar and bass riffs but also adding McConnell’s precisely articulated rhythmic hits and aurally pleasing background harmonies. Honestly I could’ve done with less guitar solos and more horn solos, but then again this was a GNR tribute and Slash’s guitar solos are a key element to their sound. The few horn solos I did hear, however, were impeccably executed and very tasteful. One of the funkiest moments came during the first set in the form of the Use Your Illusion II cut “Yesterdays,” the original recording of which has a tempo that lends itself well to funk music. The FNR arrangement featured a fantastic, screaming tenor sax solo from Cliburn—one of my favorite moments of the evening. Other highlights from the first set included the beautiful rock ballad “Civil War” and the groovy “Live and Let Die,” which was a surprise considering that it is technically a Paul McCartney song that was covered by Guns N’ Roses for Use Your Illusion I. This latter tune was one of my favorite arrangements, combining elements of both McCartney and GNR’s versions: the original recording includes a horn section, the GNR version does not, and the FNR version, by adding horns, combined the attitude and energy of the GNR version with the instrumentation of McCartney’s version for a very fun and unique performance.
For the second set, FNR commemorated the 25th anniversary of GNR’s debut album, Appetite for Destruction, by playing it in its entirety. The moment Smith struck the first note of the album’s opener, “Welcome to the Jungle,” it was clear that this was the moment the whole audience (including myself) had been waiting for. “Welcome to the Jungle,” already quite funky for a rock song, was phenomenally performed by FNR, with an extended breakdown that included solos by all three horns. Most notable was the squeal of Newton’s trumpet—an approach I have seen him utilize often, but that was more fitting than ever in this setting. The rest of the album was perfectly played, and the audience enjoyed it to the end, when they demanded more.
For their encore, FNR played two more GNR classics: the beautiful acoustic ballad “Patience” (one of my favorite GNR tracks and the only one to which I can still listen to without practically tearing my ears off in annoyance at Axl’s vocals) and the gloriously epic “November Rain” which, with its conclusion of screaming guitar solos and repetitive sing-along vocals (“Everybody needs somebody”) ended the night perfectly with the band at full blast and the audience’s excitement at full capacity. It was an exceptional performance and a fun show all around, and I am proud to be able to say I was present at Portland’s first-ever funk tribute to Guns N’ Roses, and it blew me away.
While I enjoy the music of all these artists, I think the main reason I have not developed a devoted love for jam bands is that I haven’t had enough chances to see them where they REALLY shine: in the live music setting. So of course, having never been to a Phish show, when I heard that jazz bassist and recent PSU graduate Brett McConnell was playing in a Phish tribute band, I had to check it out.
I arrived at the Goodfoot Lounge around 9 PM, just as the doors were opening. Upon entering the cave-like atmosphere of the Goodfoot’s downstairs, I took in the venue for the first time. Surrealistic paintings and depictions of the jazz age decorate the walls of the huge room, complete with ample seating and an impressive stage set-up including a psychedelic light/fog machine rig and a more-than-adequate PA system. When I first arrived, I could count the people there on two hands. This rapidly changed within the first hour, however, as the room flooded with around a hundred long-haired, bearded, and/or dreadlocked Phish-heads ready to shake what their mamas gave them to several hours’ worth of jams.
Like Phish, Lawn Boy has a four-man instrumentation of guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums, with multiple members contributing backing vocals. The members of Lawn Boy are already established Portland musicians: lead singer/guitarist Rob Sipsky played in the now-disbanded Mars Retrieval Unit; drummer Nick Werth plays vibes in the prominent Portland band Yeah Great Fine; bassist Brett McConnell leads his own jazz group, the Brett McConnell Lovetet, in addition to numerous other gigs including an upcoming funk tribute to Guns N’ Roses; and keyboardist Chris Phillips founded the increasingly ubiquitous Philly’s Phunkestra.
As the ensemble began its set, the crowd was instantly entranced by the power of the groove. McConnell laid it down with his funky, locomotive bass lines while Werth impeccably provided a rhythmic backbone, flourished with syncopation and polyrhythms in all the right places. Sipsky delivered Phish’s absurdist lyrics and sing-along hooks with crowd-pleasing charisma as devoted Phish fans belted it out right along with him. As the grooves built and the solos ensued, the crowd was moving wildly, drunk on (among other things) the music. One tall, broad, shaggy-haired audience member in shorts and a t-shirt joined the band on stage early in the set and danced solitarily front and center, acting as conductor to the large dance ensemble until he was finally joined by several of them—lessening the gap, both literally and figuratively, between audience and performer in true hippie jam band style.
Sipsky handled most of the soloing duties, but Phillips and McConnell played some noteworthy (no pun intended) solos and, true to the Phish way, the whole band utilized an improvisational approach for the duration of the set. When Lawn Boy played the one song of their set with which I was familiar—the brilliantly epic and nonsense-lyrics littered Junta cut “You Enjoy Myself”—it sounded much different from the studio track, to the extent that I barely realized they were playing it. In the case of the solos themselves, the musicians balanced a tonal approach of soaring melodic passages and blues licks with more rhythmic and riff-based playing, providing for an enjoyably diverse listen throughout.
I wish there was more I could say about the set, but as I am not familiar with much of Phish’s music it’s hard for me to evaluate the authenticity of this particular tribute. Judging, however, from the reaction of the crowd and the opinions of the one or two Phish fans with whom I spoke, I can assume that this was an adequate representation of what a Phish concert is like. Lawn Boy plan to continue gigging for the foreseeable future, trying to cover as many Phish songs as possible: they provide a request list at their shows (I myself requested the funky Junta track “David Bowie”), hoping to play a completely new set at each gig until they run out of songs. If you’re curious at all about jam bands in general, and/or if you can’t afford/don’t want to wait for the next Phish stint in Portland, check out Lawn Boy the next chance you get.
|You Can't Always Get What You Want||The Rolling Stones||Hot Rocks|
|Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)||Ween||Chocolate and Cheese|
|The Reeling||Passion Pit||Manners|
|Raconte-Moi Une Histoire||M83||Hurry Up, We're Dreaming|
|Holdin' On To Black Metal||My Morning Jacket||Circuital|
|Goodbye Blue Sky||Pink Floyd||The Wall|
|Lose Your Soul||Dead Man's Bone's||Dead Man's Bones|
|46 and 2 (Tool cover)||Students of Aaron O'Keefe|
|Black Friday||Steely Dan||Katy Lied|
|Men in Black||Will Smith||Men in Black Sountrack|
|Black Like Me||Spoon||Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga|
|Black Mud||The Black Keys||Brothers|
|The Black Ice Cream Song||The Mountain Goats|
|Many Shades of Black||The Raconteurs||Consolers Of The Lonely|
|Black Market||Weather Report||Black Market|
|Black Yogurt||Black Moth Super Rainbow||Drippers|
|Black River Killer||Blitzen Trapper||Furr|
|Black Mountain Side||Led Zeppelin||led zeppelin|
|Jackie wants a black eye||Dr. Dog||Shame Shame|
|Black Mirror||Arcade Fire||neon bible|
|Belle Glade Missionaries||of Montreal||Lousy With Sylvianbriar|
|Queenie Eye||Paul McCartney||New|
|Awful Sound||Arcade Fire||Reflektor|
|Blindness||Justin Timberlake||The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2|
|Wake Me Up||Elvis Costello and The Roots||Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs|
|White Teeth Teens||Lorde||Pure Heroine|
|Open-Ended Life||The Avett Brothers||Magpie and the Dandelion|