Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lykke Li Plays Dallas

I had been wanting to see Lykke Li live since I narrowly missed seeing her perform at a record store in L.A. right before the Radiohead concert last August, so I was excited to hear that she would be coming to Dallas. The concert was last Wednesday night.

I arrived right about the time that the doors opened. There wasn’t a big crowd though, so it didn’t take long to get in. I headed from the lobby to the theater only to run in to an employee who told me I couldn’t go in yet because the band was still doing a soundcheck. So I waited by the door for about 10 minutes until they were done. It sounded pretty good, but I didn’t recognize the songs they were playing. When we were let in I grabbed a spot right up front just to the right of the microphone at center stage.

The opening act was a local musician, Sarah Jaffe. I was actually excited to get to see her because I have seen numerous raves on one of the local blogs that I frequent. Those raves are spot on. Sarah has an amazing voice. You can check out some of her songs on her MySpace. I bought her EP after the show, and I hope to see her again someday.

There was a pretty long wait in between while they set up for Lykke Li. They deploy a giant screen over the stage so you can’t see what they’re doing while they set up. After a while the screen finally came up, but it was several more minutes until Lykke Li and crew actually appeared, which was kind of weird.

The band came out first and started playing, followed by Lykke Li, who was dressed in a long-sleeved black outfit and stylishly ripped block stockings. She had all kinds of weird bling around her neck, and rings on just about every finger. The first song was “Dance, Dance, Dance”, which is one of my favorites of hers. It sounded really good. The drummer was playing a standalone floor tom that was about 2 feet from my face. You can see a partial clip here.

No shrinking violet is Lykke Li. She seems like she was born to be a performer. She has a great stage presence and was constantly in motion. It reminded me of Eugene Hutz from Gogol Bordello because of the similar challenges it presented in taking photos. She likes to say she has “swagger”, and I guess as far as a slightly-built Swedish woman can have swagger, she has it. She didn’t engage in a lot of between-song banter, but she did encourage audience participation a few times.

I think she has a really unique voice, and it came through better in person than I thought it might. I thought her band was really good too.

I was wondering before the show just how long it might be, seeing as how with only one album to her name there wasn’t a lengthy list of original material to draw from. I figured she would do some covers too, which she did. Those included Kings of Leon, Lil Wayne, and Q-Tip! Yes, LL raps, but it’s awesome. I mean, she’s not M.I.A. or anything, but she can work it out. The best part was when the majority of the crowd supplied the “Yes You Can” refrain to the Q-Tip song.

Even with the covers, though, this was the shortest show I’ve ever been to. LL played about an hour and 10 minutes or so including encore. Which makes Aimee Mann look like Bruce Springsteen! I definitely wanted more, but I can’t say that I was disappointed because what I did see was so enthralling. Quality over quantity I suppose. You can compare this concert to an espresso – a short burst of intense flavor. You know what they say in showbiz – “always leave ‘em wanting more”. I do hope that her shows will grow as her repertoire does.

Here is a video that I found on Youtube of "Tonight" from this show. This is almost the exact view that I had. I'm not sure, but that may be the back of my head at the bottom of the frame at one point.

You can see any of these photos larger by clicking on them. As an added bonus (ha!), I found a photo that someone took of me enjoying the show here.

Sarah Jaffe

The kid next to me got a setlist. I actually totally forgot about trying to get one. I was busy looking at some of the shots on my camera when someone handed it to him.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February Clouds

The sky was really pretty last Friday evening, and I couldn't resist snapping a few shots.

A cardinal couple enjoyed a hackberry dinner.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Movie Review - Milk

I used to go to the movies a lot. I saw everything. Over the last couple of years my moviegoing has dwindled greatly for a variety of reasons. Recently though I have felt the pull toward the theater, and I have gone to see a few films. One of these was Milk.

Milk is a biopic of Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. Most of the film focuses on his efforts to be elected to the post of city supervisor in San Francisco, as well as his effort to get a city gay rights ordinance passed.

It's pretty amazing to think about how vilified homosexuals were in this country during the timeframe in which this film is set, which is mostly the 1970s. It is true (especially in the South) that there is still a lot of hostility toward the gay community in this country, but I think that much progress has been made as well. Obviously there have been "battles" over the issue of gay marriage in many parts of the U.S. recently, but the one of the ideas imparted by this film to me was that there was a time not so long ago when these types of battles would have been battles in the literal sense. It seems as though younger people in this country see homosexuality as much more of a non-issue than their elders do. Since I count myself a part of this younger generation and did not live through many of the events in this film, it served as a real eye-opener and history lesson for me. The story told in the film is that of one of the people who made this change in outlook possible.

I have been a huge Sean Penn fan for quite some time, and he comes through again here. I think he is very deserving of his Oscar nomination, and I would be happy to seem him win an Oscar for this role. One of the most striking things about this portrayal is the joie-de-vivre that Penn is able to get across. I am having a hard time remembering a role in which Penn smiles this much (OK, except for when he played Spicoli, but that was 27 years ago(!)), and it's refreshing to see him play this type of character. The supporting cast is quite good as well. Josh Brolin (also Oscar nominated) does a great job playing the repressed Dan White, and James Franco was a pleasant surprise as one of Milk's love interests. Speaking of love interests, I liked the way that the film doesn't shy away from portraying Milk's relationships, and in fact does so almost literally from the first minute of the film.

I was also struck by many of the modern-day parallels with the events and people in this film. Obviously the biggest one is the recent Proposition 8 vote in California to make gay marriage legal there. The failure of that proposition serves as an ironic counterpoint to the events of the film, but I think it's important to remember that that vote was quite close and had some very big money and institutions (including an infamous Utah-based one) arrayed against it. If an initiative like that had been voted on in Milk's time it wouldn't have even been close. Another interesting parallel to me was the one between the film and the current political situation in the U.S., what with "change" and "people power" getting so much attention as of late.

Overall I thought Milk was a great film, and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Radiohead Rocks It Marching Band Style

Did you all see Radiohead on the Grammys the other night? Being the big Radiohead geek that I am, I watched the Grammys so I could see them perform. Other than hearing that they would be playing, I hadn't read anything about the performance beforehand, so I was really surprised when they played "15 Step" with some of the USC marching band. And actually, it was just Thom and Jonny playing with the USC band, so I guess it was "Radiohead". I wasn't sure what to think when I first saw this. I liked it, but I wasn't sure if I loved it. But the more I listen to it the more I like it. The video I'm embedding of this version kind of stinks, but Youtube has pulled all theirs all due to copyright so this is the only one I could find. The audio is pretty good. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Staying in the musical realm here, it's been a really dry season as far as concerts go, but things are starting to pick up a bit. I haven't been to a show since Cat Power back in October. I was thrilled to learn last week that Flight of the Conchords will be coming to Dallas in May. And I got a 5th row seat right in the center section! I really can't wait for this show. I also will be going to see Bruce Springsteen in Austin in April. I saw him for the first time last April, and he made me a fan with his show. I'm also considering going to see Lykke Li next week. I'm not all that familiar with her stuff, but I like what I've heard so far.

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Monday, February 02, 2009


I've been finding it a bit difficult to blog much lately. I'm not sure why. I guess I've been feeling kind of inwardly-focused of late. Well, more than usual anyway (and that's saying something!).

When I started this blog I felt like I had thoughts that I had to get out into the ether as a way of letting go of them and moving past them. I don't feel like I have a lot of those thoughts anymore. I guess that's a good thing. I guess I could say that I'm feeling pretty content in my life right now. The only downside that I can see in that is that I don't want contentment to turn into stagnation or lack of growth.

I think that a lot of these feelings may come from the fact that career-wise I am currently stuck in limbo. I've been looking for a job in the library science field since I finished my degree last August, but the job market is really, really terrible right now, as I'm sure many of you know. It can be very discouraging to apply to so many jobs and not get any responses. At the same time, considering all the economic news of late I am very thankful that I have a stable job now, even if it isn't one that I would consider stimulating or challenging. I'll keep looking, but I may not have much choice other than to just keep plugging along until things turn around.

So I feel a bit like I am simply putting one foot in front of the other one right now. I think everyone feels like that at some point. It doesn't make for interesting blog posts though!

We caught the tail end of the ice that walloped a good portion of the country last week. It was good for a half day off from work!