Tag Archives: pocket vinyl

Do You Remember? (Pocket Vinyl Concert At My School on 12/7/11!)

11 Jan

So this concert review is about a month late, but I was just letting it marinade. But now? Get it while it’s hot!

Remember that rad band I met at the Bright Eyes concert in Vermont last summer, Pocket Vinyl? Those newlyweds who were two of the nicest people I’d ever had the pleasure of swapping stories with? Eric? Elizabeth? Yeah, those guys! Remember how awesome their live shows sounded, how I hoped to see experiences one one day, but knew that concert promises ne’er come to fruition? Well, have I got a story for you.

After the concert, Pocket Vinyl and I swapped contact info so that we might cross paths along the tour they were soon to be embarking on. Time goes by, I migrate south for the semester for school, and Chinese ink painting and linguistics take over my life. One day while coming up for air between classes and checking my email, I see a message from a certain band inquiring about setting up a certain concert. The ghosts from summers past turned out to be not so much ghosts as two artists alive and kicking and looking to play a concert in town!

Living in Amish Country, I have come to terms with the fact that I do not reside in a music mecca, a nightlife hotspot. Well, “come to terms” might not be entirely accurate- I know that this is the rep that my town currently has, but when by four years at school are through I’d like to see that stigma laid to rest, and a concert on campus seemed like the perfect way to get the ball rolling.

There’s a local club that serves as the venue for most lost musicians who find themselves wandering through town, but unfortunately they were booked for the day Pocket Vinyl was slotted to make their entrance. Fear not, I did, and I looked to other options. Just a week before, the Arts House, an off campus house for students to reside in, hosted an open mic night and a seed had been planted in the back of my mind. Is there a more perfect venue for an indie band than the intimate basement of a house of art? Answer: no.

After emails exchanged with the people in charge of the house, the gig was set for December 7th. A lovely date with the added bonus of doubling as the night before not one but TWO of my finals (don’t worry, I aced ’em both).

Days rolled by and the semester drew to an close, and before I knew it the 7th became known as “today.” Excellent weather for ducks, it poured all day and made me worry that I should have reserved a fleet of canoes for concertgoers to travel across campus. As evening approached I armed my person with galoshes, a feeble umbrella, and a pocket full of mint Hershey’s kisses and walked over to the radio station for my last show of the semester. With my usual flare for eclectic playlists and witty banter, I ended my show on a high note and went on my way to the Arts House to help set up.

Letting myself in the front door, I walked through the hallway and into the kitchen where I found two familiar yet strange faces- Eric and Elizabeth! They existed outside of Concert Land and the interwebz! We caught up on life and got to do the thing we’d most wanted to do since vowing to have this reunion so many months ago- tell the unlikely story of how this concert came to be to everyone around who’d listen.

Soon enough it was time to proceed into the depths of the basement and let the show begin. We were lucky enough to have two opening acts who set the stage for a great show, and made me all the more proud to study among such talented people.

But enough build up, time for the main event! Elizabeth set up her canvas and went to town dressing it with swirling greys while Eric pounded on his keyboard and belted out Pocket Vinyl’s discography. I can now say that they were as charming, as wonderful, as heart pounding, as perfect as I so hoped they would be. Eric was great with the between song banter which is such an important part of performing, and I was continually amazed at how Elizabeth painted away so calmly and boldly, adding a fun contrast to Eric’s eccentric movements (which made the concert one of those things you literally had to there to understand their brilliance!).

Time passed, and people steadily came in and out. I knew that holding a concert on a Wednesday night was a bold move, and had told my friends that I’d appreciate their attendance even for just a few minutes. I can honestly say that my heart when I saw so many of the people who promised me they’d be there actually show up. I mean, anyone in their right mind would go to a free concert with amazing talent, but we all know that few people maintain their right minds as finals approach. A chuck of us just wouldn’t budge, so Pocket Vinyl kept playing into the night, till past 11!

When the music stopped the good times did no such thing, and we had some nice chats and a heated auction for Elizabeth’s painting of birds in branches (we ended up splitting the piece and giving it to the Arts House).

As snow started falling, I made my exit with a smile on my face, music in my heart, and happy knowledge that sometimes, things just work out.

…And the best part? They’re coming back on January 20th!

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The Man with All the Toys… (Maintaining Humility with Success)

2 Aug

It isn’t necessary for an artist to have a conscience or a soul to sell records, but it’s always a plus.

The first time in recent memory when this topic came up was at the first James Blake concert I attended, back in February at the Bowery Ballroom. The concert came, the concert went, and it was time for his encore. The crowd cheered, he came back out, and ended the night with a couple more songs. Before he got down to them though, he paused for a moment and told us, the audience, how much it meant to actually be called back for an encore. In recent years, it’s become almost expected for artists to come back on stage after shows for a couple more songs, but James maintained that it isn’t a given, that it still means a great deal to him. He recalled being back in clubs, back when he was just James Blake and not ZOMGITSJAMESBLAKELUVHIM, and how grateful he was to have made it this far. It was sweet.

Conor Oberst gave a similar shout out at the concert on Friday. Before “Another Travelin’ Song”, he dedicated the tune to all those artists still struggling to get their music heard, sleeping on couches while on tour, rolling with the punches of life on the road, making music for the joy of it. There were some whoops of understanding from the audience, and a big chuckle from Eric and Elizabeth as we’d just been talking about some of their road stories. Conor said that Bright Eyes took that couch-hopping, ramen-eating, playing-to-audiences-of-single-digit-people-and-still-jamming-away route for a while- it’s easy to associate them with success now as they’ve gained notoriety and a fan base, but I like knowing that they still remember their roots, where they came from, where they started out. And even that they still couch surf on occasion.

Our Prayer… (Pocket Vinyl, A Band You’ll Love to Love)

1 Aug

I’ve been very nervous for the past few days, very nervous indeed. At the Bright Eyes concert in Vermont there was a lot of hurry-up-and-wait time: in line before the gates opened, in front of the stage before the music started, afterwards at the merch booth, waiting for the next wait, etc. While I was driving around town on a poncho and buffalo wings quest, my dad befriended newlyweds named Eric and Elizabeth. In addition to being charming and friendly as they come, it turned out that they’re in a band- two members of the Pocket Vinyl duo.

How lovely is their album artwork?

They explained that during performances Eric takes the piano and croons (when you hear his voice, you’ll see why “sings” just doesn’t cut it adjective-wise) while Elizabeth paints original pictures which are sold afterwards. What a great concept, Thanksgiving for the ears and the eyes!

From playing to rough ‘n’ tough ‘n’ skeptical ‘n’ soon converted to the Pocket side bikers to jamming on back porches to becoming a part of the rural Pennsylvania music scene, they had some great stories that had me eyeing the crowd in hopes that I could find my own partner to conquer the open road and audible world with (still looking by the way, missed connection post in the works)…

It was after we parted at the end of the concert that I got nervous. I told them that I had a blog and wanted to mention them, not thinking about the weight of that concept. What if they were a crap band? What if Elizabeth’s paintings rivaled those of an arthritic elephant with a paint brush? What if the “if you like this band you’ll probably also like…” suggestions were Texas’ 2nd best The Chipmunks auto-tuning cover band and the sound a raisin makes when dropped into a glass of milk?! I’ve got to keep my journalistic integrity up, but they were just so damn nice that I was sorely tempted to mentally prepare myself to use vague words like “interesting” and “unique” to band-aid my bleeding ears. During the whole ride home I prayed and prayed that they had rhythm.

Phew! I got so lucky. So so so lucky. It turns out that Pocket Vinyl is a band that is as easy to love as the artists themselves- kind of like if Ben Folds Five took on a piano to become a Six, ditched all the members aside from echoes of Ben’s vocal chords, added a little folk for warmth, and a dash of comfort. I immediately gravitated towards “Field Day”, and doubly so when I scrolled down their site and found its music video which features Elizabeth in doodle heaven, painting up a frenzy on the walls (and most other flat surfaces) of a house. A house that I would love to live in- if only to have a monster window and 2D piano to call my own.

I can’t wait to see them live.

Mood Music: I Say A Little Prayer For You by Dionne Warwick
Listen to the song here