i been here so long my heart is a parking lot

Sometimes live music has the ability to be bigger than itself. Bigger than the band, bigger than the audience, bigger than what’s happening right before one’s eyes. At the Majestic in Madison, WI, Wolf Parade managed to do just that on November 10, 2008.

Throughout the evening, Wolf Parade whipped out jam after jam, keeping the energy consistently high. The Majestic was packed with rabid fans, each opening note eliciting an impassioned cheer from the crowd. The five gents of Wolf Parade were clearly enjoying themselves, often thanking the crowd and graciously accepting the adulation. Adulation that was well-deserved – “Language City”, “I’ll Believe in Anything”, “Fine Young Cannibals”, and “Kissing the Beehive” were all absolutely ridiculous in the best possible way.

Be you a huge fan or curious newcomer, Wolf Parade has the chops and panache to elevate the evening into a transcendent experience. Live, the songs are utterly danceable and more multi-dimensional than their canned counterparts (which are, by the way, quite lovely). It is not often a performance can make your heart feel at once completely filled and impossibly light, but as was proved yesterday, is something that is entirely possible.

i find myself singing this song for you

There’s an ease about Ben Taylor that permeates everything about him – the way he sings, the way he plays, the way he casually slides over to say hello. His inherently relaxed nature drew in the crowd at Madison’s Cafe Montmarte on September 9, 2008.

His lanky frame perched on a stool, Taylor rested his bare feet on the monitors and shared the stage with frequent collaborator David Saw and a few friends for a night of mellow acoustic jams. Taylor’s songs cover a wide range of styles, putting a folk bent on everything from singer-songwriter, funk, hip-hop, country, and spoken-word.

Many of his songs have stories behind them. One was a send-off to a girl who broke his heart, another written from the perspective of his (then) nephew-to-be, and yet another co-written with a friend serving a 13-year prison sentence. Through his songs, it’s easy to gather that Taylor has led a rich and storied existence.

Punctuating the evening were a few tunes from Saw which sounded promising. On both fronts Taylor and Saw played off each other, blending their voices for a truly lovely sound.

Click below to watch Taylor’s performance of “Nothing I Can Do” from Another Run Around the Sun.

Listen to a track from the new album here.

what’s become of conversation?

Using both electric and acoustic guitars, the bespectacled Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez filled the High Noon Saloon with storybook songs on August 26, 2008 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Drawing mostly on material from Why is Bear Billowing?, Alvarez sat lonesome, stage right, eyes closed and let his clear voice and full guitar fill the room. The intimate setting allowed him to directly converse with the crowd, creating a friendly and unique experience that included a discussion of everyone’s favorite ‘B’ word prior to “The Letter B” and a lively clap-along to “Mostly A Friend” that had everybody smiling.

PARTIAL SETLIST: Love for Longer, The Letter B, Pinecone Eyes, Mostly a Friend, Build a Tiny Hill

Click below for a non-album track.