Mondays with Schobie: The Jesus and Mary Chain top the summer concert schedule
Photos by Andrew Catlin
The summer concert calendar is set—for now, at least. (You can expect more to acts to be announced throughout the summer.) So it’s time for my personal top ten list. Some shows (Drake at Darien Lake) already happened, some are too big to include (Roger Waters, the Beach Boys), some haven’t won me over yet (the gorgeous Grace Potter), some are too eighties (Def Leppard and Poison), and some (Girl Talk playing the Outer Harbor) have not been confirmed yet. But these are ten interesting, unique concerts.
1. The Jesus and Mary Chain at the Erie Canal Harbor is the show of the summer. Period. End of it. In fact, it might be one of the most thrilling announcements in recent memory.
It is part of a North American tour that represents another fascinating step in the feedback-drenched careers of the brothers Reid. Jim and William detonated around the time of 1998’s Munki, the band’s underrated swan song. (“Cracking Up” is as good as anything they ever recorded.) But the influence of songs like “Just Like Honey” and albums like Psychocandy and Darklands cannot be overestimated.
The band reunited for Coachella and some additional shows in 2007, and released their first single in a decade, a jaunty treat titled “All Things Must Pass,” in 2008. Then … nothing, until this year, when the JAMC performed at SXSW and a few clubs. Overseas dates followed, and now, back to this continent, and eventually, Buffalo.
It will be interesting to see what the band’s live shows are like today, since they once had an air of real anarchy. This era is brought to gorgeous life in photographer Andrew Catlin’s stunning book The Jesus and Mary Chain, available through Blurb.
Here is Catlin on those early JAMC shows (from an interview with Kent Hall, who graciously allowed me to quote from it here):
“I saw gigs that ended in riots, gigs that were stopped by the police, gigs where they had the whole audience in the palm of their hands and didn’t even know it. It always seemed like they just played for themselves and for the music—perhaps the music played them. The audience were just there as witnesses. No pretence of showmanship or crowd-pleasing. More often than not they would find a way to piss someone off, and that would turn into a confrontation, but it was always an amazing spectacle. An overwhelming sound that cut through anything—stage invasions, fights, collapsed drum kits, shit P.A.s, or venues. It didn’t matter. … It was very real—something visceral rather than just a ‘performance.’”
The book’s most striking image is an overhead shot from a 1984 performance—the epitome of chaos. Concert-goers are literally on the stage, while the band attempts to play around them. Drummer Bobby Gillespie, future Primal Scream frontman, grins from ear-to-ear. As Jim Reid puts it, “The face that Bobby is doing—that was typical of Gillespie back then. He just thought it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. … This photograph almost looks like a Picasso.”
Those shows are part of modern rock lore, and so is the band. The chance to see them—for free no less—is a summer gift.
2. Feist has played WNY twice before, memorably, and returns on July 16 at the Harbor. While I missed her show at UB’s Center for the Arts, her performance in the rain before Elvis Costello at Rockin’ at the Knox 2007 was pop bliss. Latest album Metals has not grabbed me the way The Reminder did, but she is still one of current music’s brightest talents. She was great on Sesame Street, too.
3. Weezer is coming at least a decade too late (they play the Harbor on July 15), but the show is still one highly anticipated by many, myself included. There post-Pinkerton output has been hit or miss, with an emphasis on the misses (especially 2010’s Hurley), but they still unleash at least two fine singles per album. And the immortal Blue Album remains a nostalgic favorite of mine. This will be fun, fun, fun show.
4. Andrew Bird seems a perfect fit for the open-air Artpark (July 16). As I put it in Spree’s October 2009 issue, “Singer/songwriter/violinist/guitarist/ glockenspielist Andrew Bird visited Babeville for a concert on September 24 in 2007. I didn’t go. And the next day, I faced an onslaught of ‘What a show!’s and ‘You missed it!’s.” I made up for it in 2009, and I’m glad I did. If you haven’t had the chance, see the Bird-man, now.
5. I feel like I just missed the heyday of Jane’s Addiction fandom, and truth be told, I preferred Porno for Pyros, but Jane’s at Artpark, on August 20, is huge. It’s a rare chance to see Perry Farrell and co. live, and opener Mute Math is nothing to sneeze at.
6. The Guardian called Yeasayer's last album, Odd Blood, "a masterclass in modern, multicultural, weirdo pop music," and I think that sums up the boys from Brooklyn. Listen to "Ambling Alp," and tell me this is not one of the brightest bands in music. They play Town Ballroom on August 1.
7. Most know Fountains of Wayne from “Stacy’s Mom,” or, as I call it, “That Video with Rachel Hunter as the Ultimate MILF.” But head back to 1997’s “Radiation Vibe” for a better taste of FOW. The power poppers play a free Thursday at the Harbor show on June 28.
8. I grew weary of NBC’s Community, but I never tired of Donald Glover, who performs at Town Ballroom on June 29 as his hip-hip alter ego Childish Gambino.
9. It almost would not be summer with Sloan. I’ve seen Halifax’s finest several times in my life and enjoyed each one; they are back with the Hard Rock at the Falls Outdoor Summer Concert Series on July 21.
10. Remember what I said about Andrew Bird? The same thing happened after the Black Angels’ 2010 Tralf show. I still hear folks talk about the psychedelic revivalists’ performance, and quite frankly, I can’t take it anymore. So I’ll see you at the Town Ballroom on August 4.
Photos by Andrew Catlin.