Noah Lennox, who goes by the stage name Panda Bear, has recently released an EP titled Mr. Noah. However, the good news does not stop here. The release of Mr. Noah comes shortly before the anticipated “Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper” album that is due to come out on January 13, 2015. With Panda Bear’s renewed activity in the music industry, I wanted to take time to recount the many accomplishments and upcoming developments of an admirable musician.
November 9th, 2013. Winter was upon us as potential students scurried around campus knocking leafs around the greek row sidewalks with their weathered, leather boots as they toured a campus and a city that might one day become a home to them. Pretending the brisk Nashville temperatures were still fall conditions, I dressed in a thin long sleeve shirt and prepared for the night ahead of me. We had been looking forward to this day for months. American Authors at one of Nashville’s most unique, bursting of character and quite frankly small venues, The End. Thrilled to leave the lonesome cave I’d created of post break-up tears and cheesy rom coms, otherwise known as my room, my friends and I arrived at the venue minutes before the show facing a crowd of no more than 30 people. Lost in chatter and introductions a voice suddenly broke through the noise and stopped me in my tracks. Who was this girl with the powerhouse vocals strong enough to shatter the thoughts of everyone in the room and draw every eye in this small dive club to her luscious hair, small frame and impeccable style? The voice belonged to Mandy Lee, one third of the trio Misterwives hailing from New York City.
On this day nineteen years ago, four of Blind Melon’s five members woke up expecting to play a show that night at Tipitina’s in New Orleans. The fifth, lead vocalist and chief songwriter Shannon Hoon, never awoke. He had died of a cocaine overdose at age 28. Today, to honor Hoon’s memory, I’d like to take a look at Blind Melon, a terribly under-appreciated member of the grunge pantheon.
Her daddy had enough so she put her back into it. She’s is a powerhouse. She’s an unending geyser of consistency. Merrill Garbus knows how to put on a fantastic show. On Thursday the 9th at Marathon Music Works, music fans got their money’s worth.
As I have been browsing through my music collection, I have come to realize that I have an affinity for bands that have a name referencing animals. Is this a coincidence? Perhaps. I’ve been trying to figure out what else they all have in common, but alas, they are all excellent in their own right. I would like to share some recent artists I have come across with this theme and hopefully you can decide for yourself if they truly resonate unique styles of animalistic music.
An album two years in the making finally presented itself this past August. Dry the River’s Alarms of the Heart exudes a confidence that wasn’t as obvious in listening to the band’s first album. Actually, in a lot of ways, the two albums are super different.
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.
As you might be able to tell by now, I really like lists and I enjoy the number 5. So here’s to a bit of both. Lately I’ve been going through my Itunes library and come across some old favorites; the one’s I’ve been meaning to get into more but haven’t had the time or energy to. But here I am to revive that spirit and to enlighten you all about some albums you may not have heard of, but will be glad that you did.