joan of arc, 31 knots, others – vera project
Published 06-02-2008 on my old wordpress blog.

i missed the first two bands because i had to grade quizzes. sorry guys.

the vera project is feeling much less like an institution and much more like a venue these days. they’ve decorated as best as they can and have some cool stuff going on. and at this particular show, i didn’t feel like i was surrounded by kids. in fact, the five or so show going colleagues i recognized from bar shows and other old-people places. probably because it’s Joan of Arc!

31 Knots
i’ve never had the pleasure of seeing these gentlemen live before. they bring two things to the stage that impress me: witty/crazy banter and effective dynamics. the band is crazy to look at. the drummer looks a bit like the kim thayil, krist novoselic, neil from the young ones type, but asian. the bassist should be in Sonic Youth. and the singer/guitarist looks like a preacher or a salesman with his suit, suspenders, and bow tie. but the band is awesome live. the singer’s voice is awesome in a non-pretentious way. and they use actual dynamics! like quiet-loud-silent-quiet-loud-quiet-silent-loud!! their live show outstrips their recorded material, possibly because of modern record mixing/mastering/production values, as the pauses and volume changes really serve to make the already erratic songs that much more jolting and amazing. plus, the witty banter. so great.

side note: hey, bass player from H is for Hellgate: as much as i love your band and have purchased two records and seen you twice and will still go to your shows and tell my friends that you’re great… that hooray! thing is starting to get annoying, don’t you think? it’s funny once or twice, but every song? really?

Joan of Arc
let me admit that i have never seen Joan of Arc before tonight, either. in fact, i own only one Joan of Arc record, and only listened to it once or twice. i listened to OWLS a lot, though. and i have a Cap’n Jazz cd. but i had to go to this show. i’m glad i did.

it took me a couple songs to think what the melodic stylings of kinsella et al. reminded me of. then, on song 3, i had it. when i was a kid, well, when i was at home for the summer after my first or second year of college, i used to sleep in the lower part of the house. the part that was under construction. it had a new roof put on, and in typical fashion, had not had ends installed for the past year or so. birds had made a nest in the warm insulation just above my room. in those warm summer months, as the sun rose past our neighbors house and bathed the ceiling in sunlight, the bird would scratch at the drywall and sing with delight at the warm sun. when Joan of Arc played it was like all that, but the sun was from 1973 record covers, all orange and fuzzy. and as the birds flew out and in and out, they were blurry in the slow camera exposure. it was really amazing.

this feeling lasted for most of the set. they played a song near the end that was probably 15 years long and had three distinct song-parts, and so many repetitions. maybe the lateness of the hour or the 16 hours i spent working on my basement this weekend started to get to me, but they started to lose my interest at that point. despite the prettiness of the guitar and the amazing drums and everything, i found it hard to stay ecstatic. but they one-upped 31 Knots’ witty banter with crazy ramblings from kinsella (who reminded my housemate of michael cera a bit at times) and a random breathing exercise conjured up by kinsella’s consciousness and conducted by a brave member of the audience. i was laughing again. it was okay to be okay for a minute or two. and then they played a couple more songs, equally as rhythmically astounding and melodically amazing as the rest. and then it was done.

** Old Wordpress Comments **

David says:
June 2, 2008 at 5:23 pm
As a member of H is for Hellgate I’m naturally more biased toward the attitudes and views expressed by the said member/s.
Anyone excited by music deserves their expressive explosions. Whether that be the generic “Whooo!” or a hand clap.
If you going to excret a negative perhaps you can balance it with a positive,

don says: June 2, 2008 at 8:45 pm
true. i’ve edited my review, since i like your band and wouldn’t want it to seem like this was a personal attack or anything.
however, your argument, “Anyone excited by music deserves their expressive explosions,” is rather hollow. my expressive explosion for when i enjoy music is to kill babies, do i deserve to be able to express it?
david, i think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this point. it doesn’t mean i’ll stop going to shows and neither should your bassist. i just hope he’s thought about how his actions affect others and either decided not to care or decided he has a right to free speech. i would hope that if i did something annoying all the time that someone would point it out to me so i could choose to change it or choose to flaunt it.
see you out there. good luck with your solo project, too. (that’s you right?)

Ben says:
June 3, 2008 at 1:18 pm
Maybe the question you asked falls under the category of rhetorical, but I feel if somebody takes the time to trash talk me on a public forum I should at least have the courtesy to reply.
The Hooray! thing was never meant to be funny. I was at a show a while back and wanted to show my appreciation for the band, but could not clap due to the drink in my hand. So I decided to vocalize my appreciation. After that it kind of just stuck with me.
I moved to Seattle about 3 years ago and was excited to find an amazing music scene. I was a bit surprised that a lot of the people(but not all) in the audiences would look kind of bored, standing with their arms crossed and clapping a bit between songs. That’s just not how I am. If I really like a band I’m going to let them know.
I love 31Knots. They have been one of my favorite bands since I first saw them perform about 6 years ago. So I was probably a little over excited. In no way did I intend to annoy any audience members or band members. I apologize.
I didn’t know that it bothered anybody until after the show when my wife informed me that ” some guy was giving you dirty looks”. Had I known I might have toned it down(a little). That being said it’s probably a bit to late to change who I am.
Ben Baier

don says:
June 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm
fair enough, Ben. and nice to virtually meet you. it probably wasn’t me giving you the evil eye, by the way. and i never really considered this trash talk, but just some friendly advice. no one read this blog before this post anyways.

Matt Brown says:
June 4, 2008 at 7:15 pm
Well, now we’re reading, and MY friendly advice is that Benjamin J. Baier can do whatever the heck he wants to express his appreciation after a band finishes playing a song. If he was shouting stuff DURING a song, that would be a different matter.
“Hooray” is a fantastic counterpoint to self-conscious inaction and apathy, and I love how it bums people out when I shout it out at “cool” shows.
You’re certainly free to point out what you feel is annoying, and I give Ben major points for his kind apology to you. Be warned, however, that I’ll be attending 31Knots’ next local show, and I’m far louder and more annoying than my dear friend Ben.
Cheers, Don!

don says:
June 5, 2008 at 11:33 pm
Thanks Matt. I’ve been warned and I understand his freedom of expression is unstoppable. I guess I’ll just have to conjure up my own exclamation, like COWABUNGA! or SUPER DUPER! or I LOVE CAKE! …or just keep celebrating my love for music by singing along really loudly when i even sort of know the words, dancing around like a crazy person when appropriate, or politely clapping and smiling when i’m only sort of stoked.
for my bonus points, i’d like to apologize for calling him out specifically, as, i repeat, it wasn’t my intention to trash talk. but i was naive and thought that people don’t get all that bothered by some random dude who started a site to share his pains and joys with the world, and gets excited/weirded out when the biggest traffic day is 57 people, happens to mention something is annoying. i’ve learned my lesson.
also, i think you were almost our housemate once.
carry on.

Matt Brown says:
June 10, 2008 at 11:41 am
Try complaining about the High Dive’s refusal to book a wimpy band who objects to their “sexist” advertising. I’ve heard that one’s blog traffic increases at an insane rate… right along with the hate mail.
Blog on, Don. I’ll keep reading. COWABUNGA!

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Keywords: 31 knots, birds, joan of arc, vera project

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