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Livewire: Celebration @ The Patterson (2010.02.26)

Celebration Live

Photo: Valerie Paulsgrove
Words: David Carter

Celebration played a superb free show at The Patterson in February, courtesy of The Creative Alliance. I set out for this event early, or so I thought, until it became clear that the nearest parking space to this mobbed venue was a good mile away. So, I sadly missed their opening set, an acoustic percussion-centric jam in a densely crowded front gallery area. Happily, I did get the entirety of this electric set on the back stage. In keeping with Celebration’s insistence upon giving all of their music away for free lately, they have allowed us to hand this beauty over to you all in its entirety.

This is a fine representative Celebration set that rattles off many of the reasons why they draw such a massive local following (and create such miserable local traffic conditions). Cool, collected musical skill and raw intensity collide in a magical way, creating spiky contrasts that spin and swerve through the room. Their sound is defiant and stylized without ever coming off as stilted, never losing a grip on the groove factor. As usual, the visual cortex was not reglected, the stage dressed lavishly in white lace and murky colored light. Special thanks to photographer Valerie Paulsgrove for the image above, click through that picture for more of her fantastic stills from this session. These photos were originally featured on the excellent Bmore Musically Informed blog, another indispensible site tracking and nurturing the Baltimore music scene. Thanks for sharing!

Listen freely, and support Celebration back. They are subsidizing our (raging, problematic) music habits for miles around with these free shows, free tracks; unique goodness that we can’t ever get from anyone else.

Live @ The Patterson
February 26, 2010
Baltimore MD, USA

Streaming player:

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MP3 links:

1. Pony (5:38)
2. Junky (5:30)
3. What’s This Magical (5:55)
4. Battles (6:18)
5. Honeysuckle Blue (6:01)
6. Great Pyramid (5:25)
7. Kilimanjaro (6:06)
8. I Will Not Fall (4:44)
9. Fly the Fly (4:18)
10. Heartbreak (7:39)
11. In This Land (5:25)

Total time: 1:03:05

ZIP links:

Entire set in mp3 format


AKG 414 mid/side pair -> Zoom h4n 48/24 -> Nuendo (stereo encoding, limiting) -> MP3

Recorded by:

David Carter (carteriffic@gmail.com)

Preview: Celebration’s Yin Yang Show @ the Creative Alliance (2010.02.26)

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  1. MP3: Celebration – I Will Not Fall
  2. MP3: Celebration – Open Your Heart

Celebration are one of Baltimore’s more reclusive groups, and one of the city’s best treasures with a sound that is always captivating, always evolving, and always delivering a show-stopping live set. Their darkly brooding, churning songs have outstretched the bounds of the genre portmanteau “punk cabaret,” reaching far and wide with high-profile (TVOTR) and local (Ami Dang’s sitar) collaborations that have wrought a distinct and unhinged sound.

They signed with one of the more revered and high-quality indies (4AD) in 2005, and released the stellar Celebration (2006) and Modern Tribe (2007). Over the past couple years however, they have cast aside the traditional music industry business model associated with being a band. In early 2009 they parted ways with 4AD, choosing instead to engage in a number of increasingly intriguing and mysterious projects including releasing free songs under the banner of their Electric Tarot series, and restricting their 2009 live appearances to elemental-themed performances in non-traditional venues (along with the occasional festival or one-off collaboration with friends).

The final show in their Elemental series was originally scheduled to take place on January 29th, but as most people around town know, the host venue was the now-dissolved LOF/t under the direction of Ric Royer, shutting down a scant few weeks before the show.

This all brings us to today, with a performance that seems to fall outside the scope of their Elemental series. In its stead we have a bonafide Celebration double-header featuring one acoustic and one electric set, aptly named the Yin Yang show. The show tonight doubles up for early-comers as an open house for the upstairs resident studios at the Creative Alliance, an opening of a new exhibit by Lauren Boilini and Becky Alprin downstairs, and a chance for a cheap chili dinner if you are so inclined. The space is great, and the music grand, so I can’t imagine a better place to spend a blustery Friday night.

Oh and it’s free.

Sound Off!: Indian Jewelry

Indian Jewelry

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01. MP3: Indian Jewelry – Temporary Famine Ship from Free Gold! (2008)
02. MP3: Indian Jewelry – Swans from Free Gold! (2008)
03. MP3: Indian Jewelry – Lapis Lazuli from untitled 2010 release (World Premiere!)

Indian Jewelry are students of drone and psychedelia.  Formed by Erika Thrasher and Tex Kerschen in 2002, the logistics of this ever-evolving collective are baffling, seeming to expand and contract as frequently as the air we breathe.  With a rotating cast of members that is kinda like a revolving door, it’s a wonder they ever get anything done.  They have remarkably churned out two full-lengths (2006′s Invasive Exotics and 2008′s Free Gold!) along with refining a noted live spectacle.  Happily, they have a third album on the way and we are premiering the track “Lapis Lazuli” above.

The result is one of the catchier distillations of mind-warping visions you are likely to see. Uniquely, they manage to wrangle a balance of psych and drone that is rarely seen; more often than not, you encounter one predominating and the other playing the role of hook or kitsch.  IJ are relentlessly toeing lines: they teeter on the precipice of shoegaze with the clashing of distorted guitars, deploy drones that take them to the pearly gates of noise, paint often enough in textures to recall post-rock.  All done while keeping aligned with the fundamental vision of psych: providing a musical framework for melding and moulding of consciousness.

“Temporary Famine Ship” displays these qualities perfectly, a simple psych guitar riff twirls amidst a cacophonic din of reverberating vocals and droning synths that might be considered neon if not so sinister, driven by a stomping set of tribalist drum beats; a paradox that is catchy and unsettling at the same time.  ”Swans” feels appropriately ascendant in its guitar melody, leading to a gradual and righteous coalescence of the various droning components that feels not unlike basking in the sun after a sojourn through the dark woods.  Slow-burning grower “Pentecostal” has a pipe-organ-like drone that recalls a sermon or ritual of titular origin, primitive power, and low-range vocals that could easily be mistaken for tongues.  The excellently titled “Lapis Lazuli” shimmers with textures of guitars and synths in perhaps their most polished track to date; the track also brings them even closer to the sounds of post-rock, the proceedings having an ominous cloud above them.

celebration indian jewelry flyer

With a sonic palette such as this, they’re well paired to open for Celebration along with Videohippos (premiering as a quartet featuring Jared Paolini and Adventure aka Benny Boeldt) at the LOF/T this Thursday Oct 15th, as part of the “Earth” installment of Celebration’s Baltimore Elemental series.

Check out the music video for “Lapis Lazuli” after the jump.

Read the rest…

Live Audio: Celebration @ the Metro Gallery (2009.08.07)

_MG_5923 Celebration
Metro Gallery Lot
Baltimore, MD
August 7, 2009

Source: Peluso CEMC6/ck21(subcard)>PS-2>AD-20>NJB3
Transfer: NJB3>PC>SF-7>Wav>FLAC
Taper: Jeff Mewbourn (jm292@yahoo.com)

Full set downloads: MP3 or FLAC formats

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1. MP3: Comets
2. MP3: Pressure
3. MP3:
4. MP3:
5. MP3:
6. MP3: What’s This Magical
7. MP3:
8. MP3: I Will Not Fall
9. MP3:
10. MP3: Heartbreak
11. MP3:
12. MP3:
13. MP3: audience/dialogue
14. MP3: E: Billie Jean*

Lineup:Beach House>Celebration
Outdoor show.
*Michael Jackson cover/with Beach House
Thanks to Adam for the windscreens
Sound: Natasha Tylea Cooke & Adam Cooke

One Track Mind: Beach House + Celebration – Billie Jean (Live, Michael Jackson cover)


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MP3: Beach House + Celebration – Billie Jean (Michael Jackson cover)

I thought this little tidbit deserved its own space.  And given that I didn’t really make a big to-do about Michael Jackson’s death, I feel like this is a good, locally-grown tribute.  Let me break it down for you.

The formula: Beach House + Celebration + Michael Jackson + Metro Gallery Outdoors + Cool Summer Night = Win.

This special collaborative cut served as a wonderful nightcap.  After Celebration’s last song, the bands merged for an encore treat: Michael Jackon’s “Billie Jean.”  Victoria Legrand and Katrina Ford traded off vocals while the rest of Celebration and Alex Scally reproduced that supple, instantly recognizable throbbing beat that just moves you in the way few can.  A faithful rendition with a bit of added flourish in the form of richer synth tones, some and vocal tweaks.  Two of Baltimore’s best, covering one of pop’s icons.  Doesn’t get much better.

Stay tuned for the full sets from both Beach House and Celebration (taped by the Baltimore Taper) later today.

Contest: Beach House, Celebration @ the Metro Gallery (2009.08.07)

beach house celebration flyer

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MP3: Beach House – Saltwater from Beach House (2006)

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MP3: Celebration – Open Your Heart from Electric Tarot (2009)

Contest is over!  Tough choice, but the winner is Meryl, because we at Aural States wish every venue could be all ages.

Guess what? Thanks to Sarah (owner of the Metro Gallery), we’ve got a pair of tickets to her awesome outdoors double-header of Beach House and Celebration at said venue on Aug 7th.

Comment here with a compelling reason or story for why you need this gorgeous outdoor show in your waning summer weeks. It really is that simple. Winner will be picked Aug 5th and notified by email (or phone if you give that).

Live Review: Whartscape 2009 Day 1 (2009.07.10)

Wye Oak @ Whartscape 2009

My Whartscape didn’t start until the third quarter of the evening’s festivities at the BMA. As far as Friday goes, some ludicrous logistical issues had me caught up until nine o’clock when the original plan was to arrive shortly after noon. Here’s a short rundown of what I caught on Friday Night.  Greg also popped in, and was there for a significant portion of the daytime.  All photos are his, and his segments will be in yellow.

The day was gorgeous on the steps of the BMA.  The trappings serene, with hanging greenery framing the walls of the museum behind the performers.

I was very excited to see Black Vatican, but they seemed a bit lost in this setting. Their music didn’t really connect for me.  Their spaced out garage jams felt small, tinny and overprocessed, like bits of metal rattling around a tin can.

Wye Oak however, performed a riveting, ascendant set while being dressed to impress.  They confidently lead off with a brand new track followedby a pair of tracks off The Knot and one from debut If Children showing off their new level of epic layering and big sound.  Keep an eye out for my review of The Knot.  I say without hesitation or reservation that it is easily one of my favorite albums of the past decade.

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Photos / Live Review: Celebration, Lone Wolf, Ami Dang @ the Windup Space (2009.02.20)

There’s an old, bittersweet saying that goes something along the lines of this: “You can never go home again.”

I’d like to submit an exception to that statement: “…unless you call Baltimore home.”

This past Friday, the Windup Space’s recently constructed stage was adorned not unlike someone’s living room, with antiqueish/kitschy decor such as Buddha lamps.  The warm yellow glow of incandescent bulbs cast a much warmer light than the typically harsh stage lights.  The room was nicely filled before Ami Dang took the stage, and things felt cozy.

Dang’s blend of traditional Indian sitar and classical singing with experimental electronics grows more effective with each successive performance.  Her voice ranges from subtle and sublime to massive and nearly overwhelming in power.  The intimate nature of her performance requires rapt attentiveness for full-effect, and in that the crowd failed.  A large din of chatter often broke into Dang’s delicately crafted silences; but these distractions quickly fell away whenever Dang let loose her vocals.  I’m convinced that given the right amping, Dang could obliterate buildings with them.

Lone Wolf was a rather chaotic drum/vocal one-man act (backed by sax) that was too discombobulated for me to follow.   I may have prematurely written them off, but I found myself supremely disinterested.

Celebration, on the other hand, struck with the orchestrated fury of a tsunami, combining equal parts wild-eyed frenzy, atmospheric experimentalism and soulful pop leanings.  Their last performance in Baltimore was months ago, and it showed in the earnestness of their performance.  They hadn’t really left Baltimore, but it felt like a triumphant homecoming nonetheless.  A projected flickring fire on the back wall, warmly welcoming and complementing the homeyness of the decor and the gentle, wafting scent of some sort of wood incense in the air.  

The nature of Celebration’s primal pop is such that it envelopes you in its feral folds; rather than coming off as some foreign, distant spectacle, there is an allure, a warmth that emanates from Celebration that draws you into their music and performance.  This was magnified tenfold by the cozy trappings of the space.  As things often tend to go in Baltimore, the mood at the Windup swiftly became one of old friends reunited, the time that had passed becoming a brief footnote in a long-standing and deep fraternity, united by a common bond: love of music.

Ami Dang

_MG_0885 Read the rest…