Sun Kil Moon- “She wanted love like anyone else…She had dreams like anyone else.”

Sun Kil Moon– Green Man Festival, Wales

(Aug 15, 2014)

A review by Erica Andreozzi
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Sun Kil Moon (aka Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters) was one of the top 3 artists at Green Man who I was REALLY EAGER to see live, and it was crazy odds that they just so happened to be the act right before Augustines, one of my other top bands of the festival. I made sure to get to the front, posting up on the left side facing the stage…only to later realize (mad luck!) that this side would land me directly opposite Mark, with the BEST VIEW in the house. That lucky strike is what prompted my little “Look at us!” comment during the beginning of I Watched The Film the Song Remains the Same (video below), when I turned to the giddy older couple standing next to me.

Ever since a friend had told me about Mark’s new album (Benji) back in June, I had been listening for days on end and had been utterly transfixed by all of the personal narratives cleverly laced within his beautiful guitar melodies. Mark is brutally honest in this record, unveiling a repository of deep-seated emotions: relentless love for his mother (I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love), troubled confusion over the death of his cousin (Carissa), sexual confessions (Dogs), discomfort of misfortune (Micheline), death marking time (Richard Rameriz Died Today of Natural Causes), coming-of-age insecurities (Ben’s my friend), etc. And of course there’s much dressing in between the meat of these songs….So much subtle detail that you might think is random and out-of-place, but then later (after letting it marinate) you realize you were wrong- there is indeed a distinct method to Mark’s madness. He truly is a master of his craft.

One of the first songs that Mark kicks of his Green Man set with is a heartfelt track from Benji that he wrote about his mother: I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s LoveHe’s also wrote a track about his father on the same album, but it was not nearly as sentimental and loving. You have to think that this brought her much tear-shed:

“I can live with the sky falling out from above
I can live with your scorn, your sourness, your smug
I can live growing old alone if push comes to shove
But I can’t live without my mother’s love
….
I can live without watching the classic old fights
I can live without a lover beside me at night
I can live without what you might call a charmed life
But I can’t live without my mother providing her light.”  (slayed)

Funny thing was, immediately following this heartfelt track — a track that would almost prompt you to wanna give him a big bear hug– he makes a racy comment that most of the crowd found funny, but some found kind of vulgar: “They cancelled Jabberwocky tomorrow, so I’m gonna hang out here and try to get laid.”  Referring to a “slew of ex-lovers” in one of his songs, it’s definitely clear that Mark likes to put off a ‘bad-boy’ image. Right after he made this comment about trying to get laid, he chugged some vodka from a bottle he had on stage; he re-visted this bottle several times throughout the set.

Next up was Dogs, which was very fitting since it’s about Marks’ sexual confessions/desires. I like this one, but it was kind of a strange choice for a festival that has a large demographic of families and children. I would have actually swapped this one out for Ben’s My Friend, one of my favorites from Benji that talks about the time he went to see his friend Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service) play at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, California but how he felt too old amongst the crowd so he “gave his backstage pass to two cute Asian girls” and “drove to his place near Tahoe.” I love all of the references to San Francisco (Union Street), Berekely, and Tahoe in this one. Definitely takes me down memory lane and gets me a bit ansty to get back to California.

After Dogs came MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE from the Benji album: Micheline- a gnarly narrative that that is nothing short of GENIUS. Mark cleverly threads 3 different life accounts into one heartfelt journey of whit, irony, shock, despair, and gratitude, and you are left stunned and yet eager to hear more. I was SO STOKED to finally witness the live performance of Micheline at Green Man, although I was a bit thrown off by the beginning. I’m used to Mark’s acoustic guitar part kicking off the song, and it was a bit odd that he sat this one out. His vocals were incredible, but I still do enjoy his guitar!

“She wanted love like anyone else…
She had dreams like anyone else.”   (flood of chills every time)

Soon following Micheline was another top Sun Kil Moon track (Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes) from Benji, although you couldn’t really hear the cool electric guitar part that comes in after Mark’s last verse (one of my favorite parts!). I turned my head toward the electric guitarist and stared at him with a “pick up your game!” kinda stare. Maybe it was a bit harsh, but come on!

“Richard Ramirez died today of natural causes
These things mark time and make us pause…
at 53 Richard Ramirez died but in 83 he was very much alive
he was the scariest killer in the bend
he had a pentagram
in the center of his hand.” (WOAH…creepy)

Another favorite was A Film The Song Remained the Same, and I can never seem to get enough of those gorgeous guitar melodies in the beginning. Such an incredible narrative that Mark weaves in this one, and the “thank you” verse (although more annunciated on the recorded version) slays me every time.

“I don’t know what happened or what anyone did
From my earliest memories I was a very melancholic kid
When anything close to me at all in the world died
To my heart, forever, it would be tied

And since that time so much has happened to me
But I discovered I cannot shake melancholy… (love this line)
..
I got a friend who lives in the desert outside Santa Fe
I’m going to visit him this Saturday
Between my travels and his divorces and our time not being what it was
It’s been 15 years since I last saw him
He’s the man who signed me back in ’92
And I’m going to go there and tell him face-to-face, ‘thank you.” (Favorite part! Mad chills…)

A few other songs from other albums that I would have love to hear him play are Elaine, Natural Light, UK Blues, and A Song for Richard Collopy. These festival sets often tend to be very short 45-60 min, and so I felt rest assured knowing that I would be able to hear much more at his solo gig scheduled for Aug 28th at St. James church in London. However, it was announced on Aug 23rd that this show had been cancelled. MAJOR DEVASTATION. I was REALLY looking forward to a much longer set, and of just him and his guitar. He’s playing festival in Sweden right now (from his song lyrics it’s clear he really loves it there), and maybe just decided he wanted to stay there for longer. Who knows, but WHAT A BUMMER. Luckily, my buddies in San Francisco will get to see him FOR FREE (along with Jonathan Wilson, another stand-out act at Green Man) at this year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival on Oct 3-4 in Golden Gate Park. Catch him WHEN YOU CAN…he doesn’t tour often!

VIDEOS:

I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love:

Micheline:

Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes:

I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same:

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Augustines’ Birthday Cheer at Green Man!

Augustines’ BIRTHDAY CHEER at Green Man Festival in Wales

(Aug 15, 2014)

A review by Erica Andreozzi

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 I am STILL on CLOUD NINE from last weekend’s Green Man Festival in South Wales. This was my favorite UK festival of last year, so it was only fitting that it would be my last and favorite (STILL) UK festival of 2014. It might even be my last Green Man for a while, as I’ll be leaving the UK in a few months, but as least I ended it full circle. Set in the heart of the idyllic Brecon Beacons, the environment, scenery, band selection, people, and just overall vibe is really something special. PLUS, last but not least…(I thank the Green Man gods for this!), Augustines were added to the festival lineup with short notice, making this festival EVEN MORE highly anticipated than ever before. NOT ONLY THAT, but the night that Augustines were scheduled to play the Mountain Stage (pics below), was the night of both Billy’s birthday and the birthday of his brother James (who inspired the emotive track, Book of James). Grab a helmet cause there’s more! Billy and James’ double-wammy birthday is further compounded by Eric’s birthday at the strike of midnight. CRAZY ODDS. I mean, it wasn’t already enough that I was seeing Augustines in THEIR MONTH (their August birthdays inspired the name), I was seeing them at THE PINNACLE (pretty much) of THEIR MONTH. (one lucky lil’ lady) Seeing them at their summit, IN FRONT OF a summit (yes, that beautiful mountain behind the stage that everyone’s refers to as “Sugarloaf”), was just way too surreal. So many good vibes going on, so much beauty brewing around us…it was definitely one of those “pinch me” moments where I had to convince myself that YES, this was all really happening. AND, to top it off, the act preceding Augustines just happened to be Sun Kil Moon (aka Mark Kozlek), the artist that I had been listening to for weeks on end (that Benji album is ACE) and anxiously waiting to see live for the first time. I distinctly remember both Billy and Rob poking their heads out from behind the stage curtain during Mark’s performance of The Film the Song Remains the Same (one of my favorites), and I couldn’t help smile at their eager eyes and beaming grins. They were more than ready to get on stage and do what they DO BEST: Entertain crowds with stadium-size sound that somehow maintains an intimacy/inclusiveness of a small room. Unlike most bands, they SHARE THE STAGE and are genuinely excited by fans dancing and singing their songs along WITH THEM. They feed off that energy and participation, making it one big joyous sing-a-long for everyone. WE ALL WIN. 🙂

When the clocked struck 8 pm for Augustines’ set to start, the tenacious trifecta (Billy, Eric, Rob) came running out on stage like gazelles, ready to celebrate Green Man AND THEIR BIRTHDAYS with the 10,000+ grateful Green Man audience. Billy introduces the band and then shouts into the microphone: “It’s my birthday!” This immediately prompted the entire crowd to sing him ‘Happy Birthday’ while he stood up on stage grinning ear-to-ear. If this was the first time you were seeing Augustines (hard to believe from my end), you would immediately be drawn to the deep appreciation that they have for their fans. Billy was BEAMING, as if he could hear every single fan’s individual birthday cheer like it was coming from his best friend. Later on, he posted this Facebook message alongside a photo of him standing up in the sea of people: “Wales my eternal thanks. Bloodied knees and hoarse voice and an unbelievable joy in my heart. Best birthday ever…that’s me in the middle having the time of my life…

Although their set seemed way too short to me (especially in comparison to their usual 2+ hr set), they served up a handful of hearty sing-a-longs, kicking off with Nothing to Lose but Your Head and soon following with Cruel City (it was so cool to be in front of Eric and watch him do the beats for this one). They also played Chapel Song and Headlong into the Abyss, both of which got the crowed roaring and all warmed them up on this crisp, chilly night. They then freed everyone of all their ghosts with the always compelling Now You are Free before rounding out the set. BUT BILLY, chock full of surprises, SURPRISED US ALL with an impressive BIRTHDAY DANCE (below), shouting: “I was getting fucking worried you guys were sleeping the past two hours!…”  HELLS NO. Never.

Billy’s Birthday Dance:

Soon after the birthday dance, I heard a girl behind be scream a request of Philadelphia, and although I’m from ‘the City of Brotherly Love’ and do love that song, I quickly  screamed Book of James because I knew it was coming down to the wire and I REALLY WANTED to hear my favorite. They usually save this heavy hitter for the end, so I had a feeling it was coming anyways. These lyrics forever resonate in my mind: “Here lies, my green eyes, rolled back in my head, but their ALIVE.” (so good) I actually thought they would close out on Book of James, but they decided to give us one more hit. Home run. For this one, Rob ditches his drums and comes close to the front of the stage to be apart of the acoustic encore that will forever be etched in our memory. Billy also ditches guitar, leaving Eric the one to hold down the fort and lead the rhythm for The Avenue. This is when Eric’s smile was EAR-TO-EAR; he was just STARING OUT at the cheerful crowd of 10,000+ with that look of, “YES, we’ve finally made it. They FINALLY GET IT.” Yes, we certainly do, and we truly hope Augustines continue to RISE UP as a band and made beautiful music that touches hearts every day. For the encore of The Avenue, Billy asks the crowd to be a ‘Green Man Choir’ and sing along with “oooo’s” during the chorus, stating: “It only works when everybody does it.” Before he knew it, the entire Green man choir was full force, leaving him “impressed” and ready to end his birthday on a verse that celebrates the wonderful human being that he is:

“Yeah, haven’t seen all the good inside me yet, I know
Maybe I should see that in myself again
See that in myself and go.”       🙂

The Avenue:

After the show, I was lucky enough to catch (and finally meet!) Rob and give him a pen-and-ink sketch that a women named Pauline Williams drew of Augustines on-the-spot during their set — although she said she had a hard drawing it because standing behind me…(I do get a tad rowdy). I initially saw her drawing sketches for other bands earlier that day and mentioned that she should return that night for the Augustines set. Not only did I want her to see the band, but I knew they would really appreciate her unique sketch. I got to TONS of gigs, but I never ONCE saw someone do what she does…there are always load of photographers, but never free-sketch artists. Check out the rest of her collection: http://www.paulinewilliamsart.com/collections/pen-ink

I would have been nice to wish Billy and Eric a happy birthday in person, but Rob said the band was off to Germany that night for another festival. At least we can rest assured from their Facebook post that this year’s birthday would always hold a special place in their hearts: “…such an amazing experience for us. The crowd spontaneously sang Happy Birthday to us under the night sky. Its hard to describe to you how big our smiles were. Special thanks to Wales, and cheers to all of you. Best birthday ever.” -Bill, Eric, and Rob

If you want to read more about Augustines, I posted a piece on them just last week. It might be the greatest review I ever write: https://beatsthatsetmypulse.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/augustines-to-rise-up-from-some-dirty-ashes/

Check out the kickstarter project that Big Vulture productions is running to support a film (“RISE“) documenting the band’s incredible story: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1638587871/rise-the-story-of-augustines

 

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Sketch of Augustines drawn on-to-spot by the talented Pauline Williams

Catfish and the Bottlemen- “I want to endorse you…I want you to EXHAUST ME.”

Catfish and the Bottlemen– The Barfly, London (July 23, 2013)

I first stumbled upon Catfish and the Bottlemen at a Communion event held at one of my favorite Camden venues, the Barfly. Other acts in the Communion lineup were Sam Fender and Nick Mulvey, both very talented singer/songwriters. I was extremely impressed with what I heard, and predicted a HUGE FUTURE for these Welsh lads. I met Billy and Van that night and told them all about the killer festivals in the states that I could see them doing. Van has killer frontman personality (HILARIOUS) that is perfect for engaging crowds and getting them on your side. As a loyal fan and buddy of this group from their early beginnings, I went on to see them a total of SIX TIMES in London (Barfly, KOKO, O2 Islington Academy, the Macbeth, Sebright Arms, The Borderline). CRAZY, I know. They were always so immensely appreciative and humbled by my support, and it feels good when Rob (aka “Dr Bob”) asks you your opinion about the new songs as feedback for the debut album. I always told them that Pacifer, Homesick, and Sidewinder (especially) were my favorite of their early setlists, and that Rango and A.S.A. would be their next big hits. Sidewinder’s pulsating riffs and infectious energy stir up all sorts of madness, and some of the lines (“I want to endorse you, I want you to EXHAUST ME”) are pretty hot. Turns out my prediction was spot on, cause Zane Lowe of Radio 1 deemed these songs (Kathleen) some of the “hottest record in the world”, and soon reached the top of the charts (as well as playlists for the epic footballers of Manchester United!…Also, my wish for them to tour the states came true, cause they got the opportunity to do the Governor’s Ball and Bonnaroo this year, as well as a few other additional fests! Re-VANped (pun intended) by their American glory, they came back the the UK fired up for a whole slew of summer festivals: Ibiza RocksWakestock, T in the Park, Somersault, Tramlines, Kendal Calling, Belladrum, Boardmasters, Read and Leeds, Bestival…All BEFORE RELEASING THEIR DEBUT ALBUM. Mental! They also just SOLD OUT a headline show at KOKO in November, but I’ll be gone from London by then and I won’t get to be HOMESICK with them one last time. The energy and charisma of this indie rock quintet is pretty rare, and their chemistry is hard to find; the all grew up together in small-town Wales, and it SHOWS! Glad I was at least able to catch those CATFISH before others CAUGHT ON! 😛

VIDEOS:

Homesick

Sidewinder

Tyrants

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Catfish and the Bottlemen– The Macbeth, London (Aug 29, 2013)

VIDEOS:

Rango

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Catfish and the Bottlemen– Sebright Arms (Sep 16, 2013)

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Kathleen

Pacifier

Heartbreaker

Sidewinder

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Catfish and the Bottlemen– O2 Islington Academy, London (Oct 25, 2013)

VIDEOS:

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Catfish and the Bottlemen– The Borderline, London (Feb 24, 2013)

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