I made the decision a little more than a year ago to go ahead and share my personal soundtrack with anyone who was interested. In this last year The World In A Paper Cup has really become so much more than blog to me. It has given me license to truly indulge my curiosity and love for all things music. It has brought people and opportunities into my life that I consider myself incredibly lucky have/still experience(d). It has taught me a whole lot about what it means to be "involved" in music - creating, editing, selling, promoting, sharing, etc. It has made me that much more excited to see what else is yet to come.
These aren't end of the year revelations, I'm pretty grateful every day (now, if someone wants to pay me for writing then I'd be on clound 9); but, I have done some year end reflecting and I have decided to take a more personal approach, something a little more unusual. Instead of amassing a list of the tracks, albums, artists etc. I thought were "best" -- there are fine ranks already out there btw-- I've collected my favorite musical moments, memories, discoveries and happenings from the past year. No need to write it up any more lets get this ball a rollin...
Learning Music Series
This project came to my attention via one of my most trustworthy west coast music advisers; and, I consider it one of the jewels amongst a lot of rough product being released into the music industry ether. It is a music and art project released once a month each with a different theme or story in mind. While the nature of each theme (story, tribute, etc) are various and unique the passion contributed to each compilation and its artwork is undeniable. It is rare to find such dedication to ones craft on such a consistent and enriching level. If you haven't already checked it own do so....now.
Mono at Wordless Music Series
There is much I could say about the day I saw Mono that made it remarkable beyond the scope of a typical show which is saying a lot because this concert was breathtaking. It was part of the Wordless Music Series an organization dedicated to the similarities and parallels between the classical music tradition and contemporary indie music. They have worked with a wide variety of acts from the likes of Explosions In The Sky to Why? and I was lucky to catch Mono's show at the Society For Ethical Culture celebrating their 10th Anniversary.
While I wasn't familiar with the band going in you'd have to be numb to the world to not feel the intensity of emotion and fan awe in the air while they played backed by a full orchestra. It is truly spectacular to witness both a group of musicians at their finest, as well as, their fans realizing their ultimate audience experience. The chemistry it put into the air was palpable making it one of the most memorable shows I have ever seen.
Kung Fu Necktie Opens
Philly has a whole mess of quality venues; World Cafe Live, Johnny Brenda's, The Church (to name a few). But when Kung Fu Necktie opened it became clear this was just the spot Fishtown needed. With it's cozy booths, crazy bear lights, perpetually running obscure movies and ginormous Tupac painting it has become one of my favorite places to catch a show and a beer.
Tucked away beneath the train they have gen-u-wine A+ bartenders who are always good for a chat and have carved out a reputation for hosting some of the real fresh talent passing through our fair city. The Love Language and Animal Collective's post show spin session are both two acts that pop out of the many KFN shows I have caught this year. If you're in Philly, either living or visiting be sure to get yourself up to KFN. They already have some quality acts on the docket for 2010.
[Fantastic illustration by Michele Melcher www.michelemelcher.com]
Mark Mallman's Show at The M Room
Seeing a Mark Mallman show is a true dose of home. I have many fond college memories of seeing him do his unique version of controlled on stage spazz out. When I saw he was coming through Philly there wasn't anything that was going to keep me from his set at The M Room. Apparently the live show brilliance of Mark Mallman hasn't reached the idle masses in Philly because the show's attendance was embarrassing. But, to be perfectly honest, I didn't mind a bit because I ended up getting the kind of show you couldn't produce if you tried.
Mallman put his all out there; mounting his keyboard like it was a mountain top, singing his heart out, sharing some witty stage monologues and playing the song I requested during our preshow chat. He is keyed into the level of theatricality and skill needed to make a live show more than just a dude on stage singing his music. Mallman does it for his audience (regardless of the size) and because he clearly loves putting on a show. I'm beyond excited to see what else he has on tap for 2010.
Knockout On 22nd St
J Tillman In The Chapel Of First Unitarian
I feel incredibly appreciative for the number of live shows I get to see. From the newer acts just buzzing with excitement to the old hats who know how to put on a show I am continually reminded what incredible music is out there for the having. However, every once in a while there is a show that stands as a reminder of potential a live show has to take that music to a whole new level. J Tillman's show a few weeks ago in the side chapel of First Unitarian Church was just such a show.
The intimate show in the surrounds of the gothic church's tiny side chapel was hauntingly beautiful. Tillman's "solo" album was given pausing depth with the presence of his backing band. The songs off of Year In The Kingdom acquired much more character when delivered straight from the man's lips. Filling the room kept otherwise silent by an audience held captive by what it was hearing. It was a great way to wind down my 2009 concerts.
Though I Have Wronged You