I'll say that MACRoCk
was all of the experience I hoped it would be. Aside from sleeping in my car in the cold rain Saturday night (in Charlottesville, no less), it was all gravy.
I arrived at JMU's Memorial Hall (formerly Harrisonburg High, bought by the university) at 4:20 and was immediately impressed by its auditorium, with sound panels throughout and a balcony. There were about 50 people scattered in the first few rows of seats to take in Ryan Lindsey
(of Starlight Mints). He and his guitarist both played sparkling Fender Telecasters and, live, were uninspiring on the whole. There was one song I dug quite a bit, second to last, followed by a boring closer. His record is actually pretty decent, however. Maybe I just wasn't warmed up yet as a listener. Maybe Ryan Lindsey's band all wore different combinations of black and it made me giggle.
Nashville's Brooke Waggoner
took the stage next, a bubbly bundle of legs and red straw hair, accompanied by a cellist and acoustic guitarist, though never at the same time. Another 40 or so people had filed in to the chairs, but the silence was palpable. She killed. I think I stopped breathing. Her banter was adorable, but her voice and songwriting won the crowd over. I could see it in their faces. You could hear it in the giddy cheers after each final note. At the conclusion of the set, people clapped for at least a minute. Alas, no time for an encore.
NYC's the Forms were next, and not mixed properly at first. If you've heard them on this site, you'll recognize that many times there is one guitar just strumming the same chord while the keys and second guitar/bass change the song around it, U2-style. The first two songs, that particular guitar was really high in the mix, while the other components were low. But the band hit their stride for the majority of the set, the harmonies were right on, the energy high. A very interesting version of "All Apologies" followed an admitted clunker, and the set finished with their "big" single "Knowledge in Hand", which I realize (on listening in the car) has only 5 lines of lyrics in the whole thing. Oh well. If it sounds good, it doesn't have to make sense. And if it sounds like
"Red Gun", sue me.
Ok this review is getting lengthy. I'll hit the highlights. My longstanding friends Shapiro
were next. After seeing their manager Daniel White in a black button up, black jeans, and black shoes, I made a joke about his being a part of the Ryan Lindsey band, who were walking across the parking lot at the time. He could see the resemblance. Shapiro stole the show for the evening, in my opinion. I've seen them probably 8 times since their inception, but not live in about a year. They've grown up. They dominated. This band is going to be huge. I texted Dan during the performance: "Just kill me now." I'd have been happy.
bored me, though I just don't think I was in the mood for instrumental stuff at this point in the night. Drums mixed too loud, left the room after the second song.
played some old stuff, some sorta old stuff, and a lot of new stuff. And I stand right by my assessment
last week, though they played one song that completely lost the crowd right before their closer. God that was bad, I have no idea what it was. Their lead singer is an incredible
guitar player, however. Easily the most talented of his kind that night.Anathallo
. Killed. Also. 8 members strong, all singing, all playing. Impeccably arranged and insanely dynamic songs. Incredibly energetic band. I looked on in childlike awe. Trumpets, Trombones, Xylophones, shakers, ooohs, ahhhs, keys, guitars. It sounded like 18 people up there. A definite highlight.Aloha
, one of my all-time favorite bands, underwhelmed me, though I'm sure I'm a bigger critic than the casual fan. It certainly wasn't bad and had stabs of awesome thrown in (like "Let Your Head Hang Low", for instance), but the song selection baffled me, the drummer seemed like he was playing for a much larger, louder band, and the overall tightness and attack just wasn't there.Owen
is Owen. He's exactly like I thought he would be, which is exactly like he sounds on recording. Which means because he's a solo artist, I could probably have skipped it. Owen writes songs with similar melodies sometimes. Sometimes a guitar part is similar, too. But sometimes, oh sometimes, he strikes a chord inside of me and you. Those times, he'll sing about something inside you that you thought no one knew, and you'll be transfixed. That's Owen. Mike Kinsella. The man with no merch. And lordy, I would have bought it.