On September 18th, virtuosic bass player Victor Wooten premiered his unprecedented electric bass concerto entitled “The Bass Whisperer: Concerto for Electric Bass and Orchestra” with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. The concert attracted an interesting conglomeration of regular symphony-goers as well as jazz and R&B fans, which for someone like Victor Wooten, who has preached how music is the perfect medium for peace, love, and even diplomacy, must have been the ideal sight to see. However, for us concert attendees watching someone who many believe is the best bassist of our generation, maybe of all time, perform with such soul and passion, that was the ideal sight to see. In the spirit of Wooten’s complete disregard of “genre” for the sake of musical exploration, it is only appropriate to try to learn from him and maybe delve into the orchestral world ourselves for a little bit.
Sixteen cellos, one piano, and four dads from Utah. Together, they’re The Piano Guys.
Best known for their YouTube videos in which they combine classical music with pop songs, The Piano Guys played at the Ryman last weekend to a very enthusiastic crowd. [Read more...]
By most metrics, How to Dress Well still has a lot of room to grow in the music industry. This past Tuesday, singer/songwriter Tom Krell’s first appearance in Nashville meant a twelve dollar Tuesday show at Exit/In that maybe half sold out. The intimate crowd size and locale seemed much more befitting to How to Dress Well’s early lo-fi work than to 2014’s immaculately produced “What Is The Heart?” While his music is influential to similar indie-R&B peers like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean, Krell is several orders of magnitude behind the breakout recognition those two have enjoyed. Critical appeal has grown with each full-length release, and so has both the production quality and amount of potential breakthrough singles, which makes it hard to say why Tom Krell has yet to experience a higher level of cultural significance.
I’ve been to Live on the Green three times in all. My first time was last year as a freshman and my was it wonderful. Naturally, I returned this year and went to the first show I could – Head and the Heart. However, I was most excited for Cage the Elephant. While I imagined myself watching from a spot close to the barriers, carrying crowd surfers, and fighting for room to breath, I took on a very different perspective as a photographer backstage instead.
The opportunity arose through the Vanderbilt Hustler. I spent most of my summer exploring the world of photography and was interested in joining the photo staff for the school newspaper. Upon seeing the availability of shooting (taking photos) Live on the Green the Thursday Cage the Elephant was playing, I immediately volunteered. And just like that, I had backstage passes to what was bound to be an incredible show.
One fun fact I learned about concert photography is that in most cases, once a set goes on photographers are only allowed to stay in the “pit” (the space between the barriers and the stage) for the first three songs until they are escorted out. I got there just in time for Johnnyswim. One thing that I noticed as a photographer was the movement of the musicians. We are usually so focused on the sound they make, but their stage presence is so incredibly important. I suppose that some musicians make it look natural, but I could tell that they are particular in how they stand, hold their instruments, and where they move.
Delta Spirit, the next band up, was a rock band and adhered to their own form of rhythm. They were a bit more show-y than the acoustic Johnnyswim and the lighting and motion reflected this. As the night went on, photographing the singers became more difficult as night fell and lighting became more difficult. However, I noticed that the most striking pictures I took were of the people in motion – frozen in time with guitar in hand or holding that high note on the mic. It became all the more magical.
Finally, Cage the Elephant went on. As fantastic as they are live, they were a nightmare to shoot. One could say that the better the stage presence of a band (engaging with the audience, moving around the stage, immersing themselves in the music) the more difficult they are to photograph. The lead singer was all over the place and ended up crowd surfing, jumping on the guitarist, and going through various stages of stripping. But wow what a show. The energy was like nothing I had ever seen. Having to capture these moments of insanity and excitement made me realize just how much work goes into performance. Playing music is one thing, but stealing the spotlight is a gift that so few people possess.
Moral of the story is next time you’re at a concert, don’t just pay attention to the sounds. You could do that on your own computer or iPod. Instead, make sure to also focus on their expressions, their movement along to their own music, and how they react to a swarm of people chanting their name. What you see may surprise you.
My attendance a few weeks ago at the strange 4-day escape from reality called Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival marked my fifth year at the event. Early on every year the same doubtful thought runs through my mind: Why do I continue year after year to put myself through this? Sometime between my first use of the less than gleaming porta-potties and the realization that yes, I would indeed be this sweaty and disheveled for the next four days, that moment of panic comes.
“You better dance with us, even if it’s bad” John and Jacob said to a friend and I before the show. Apparently the whole crowd overheard this as swing dancers were in full motion by the first note of their vibey, fun music and they didn’t show any signs of slowing down. As the night went on, John and Jacob decided to share a little secret with us. Having an album all recorded and ready, they were only missing a release date. They decided what better way to release an album than exclusively to this Nashville crowd that night. The album is not available to anyone other cities or states right now except Nashville showing John and Jacob’s love and thankfulness for the supportive Nashville crowd.
It has been on my bucket list since the beginning of my first semester – watch an awesome show at the Exit/In. That may be redundant, considering the bands that come to the venue are more likely than not, extremely talented. Some of them have been lucky enough to have their names written on a large wall behind the bar or on the grand mural outside the front door. Well, I would argue that the show I went to, Kodaline with the fantastic opener LP, should be put up next on that wall of fame.
Earlier this week, Nashville was lucky enough to host one of the most innovative and creative bands in the business right now. Combining elements of jazz, electronica, rock, and everything in between, Snarky Puppy attracted probably one of the most demographically diverse crowds I have ever seen at a concert. It was amazing to see this band have such a crowd equally invested into their music, and taking a closer look at their work will show you how this was possible.