By: Derek Jung
When you have the voice of a young Bob Dylan and mix it with the modern rock sensibilities of a band like Kasabian, you have a recipe for greatness. That's what Mondo Cozmo, aka Joshua Ostrander, has brought to the table over the last six months. His debut album hasn't even dropped yet, but riding the wave of popularity of his first two singles, the stoner anthem "Shine" and its follow-up "Hold Onto Me", Mondo Cozmo has cemented himself as one of the most hyped new artists of the year. When I heard that he'd be stopping at Madison Live! for a pre-Bonnaroo set, I couldn't miss it. Unfortunately for the Cincinnati music scene, most everyone else in the city did.
Joseph and I walked into an almost completely empty room. We're not exaggerating. There were probably twenty-five people there. Now, I'm all for intimate shows, but with the hype surrounding the band, I was surprised and disappointed by the Tuesday night turnout.
I was also curious what Mondo Cozmo would play. Would we get his upcoming album in full? No, unfortunately, but we did get all of the released singles and a killer cover of The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony". I'm telling you, they absolutely killed it. Joshua's vocals sound so crisp live and his stage presence is a mix of business professional and straight swagger. The band is also tight, like they've been playing together for years. The hype is definitely realized, and I can't wait to hear the full album. I'm guessing next time they come to Cincinnati, there'll be a few more people in attendance.
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: After a stellar set from Pixies next door at Madison Theater, a portion of the crowd wandered over to the smaller, more intimate Madison Live! for a $5 unofficial aftershow with Louisville, KY's garage rock breakouts White Reaper. For the next hour, White Reaper tore down the house with the heavy riffs, sleek synths, and party anthem vocals. The band has made waves with last two releases, including their latest The World's Best American Band, and their live show solidified them in my mind as one of the most fun, high energy shows out there. Tony Esposito's vocals tore through the dancing mosh pit at the front of the stage while keyboardist Ryan Hater's antics on keys brought to mind a cape-less Rick Wakeman from the prog-rock band Yes. Brothers Sam and Nick Wilkerson kept the driving beat on bass and drums. It was quite the showing for the Louisville band, and I wish more people had found their way over from the Pixies show; the room was only about half full. Were they dissuaded because of the late start time? Were they turned off by the hardcore punk openers No Parents? Personally, I enjoyed No Parents and thought some of their lyrics were hilarious.
Either way, I think it's safe to say that you'll be hearing much more of White Reaper in the next few years.
Joseph: HOLY SHIT. What a freaking show. I needed that. I think we could all use a good punk show to get our blood pumping every now and again, right? The overall show was pretty short, so I wish more people would've taken advantage of the $5 asking price, but I'm sure glad we did. The show started with hardcore punk artist No Parents, who had a short but very sweet set. The band embodied pretty much every punk stereotype out there, but there's nothing wrong with that. I was a bit disappointed by the mix, as it was next to impossible to hear the lead singer, but.....then again it is a punk show, so who cares, right? [Derek: I heard the vocals just fine through my earplugs. Invest in a good pair, everyone. It does wonders...]
After No Parents came White Reaper. Unlike Derek, I was pretty unfamiliar with the band. I had listened to The World's Best American Band, but I failed to hear the magic that has made White Reaper one of the hottest bands in the punk genre today. Well, after their blistering, loud, crazy, dance-your-heart-out-like-you-just-don't-care set, I could see why. The band has an absurd amount of energy, and their latest album translates over extremely well live. Then, combined with songs off their previous two albums.... they were simply unstoppable in the small, intimate space of Madison Live! Their 2015 album White Reaper Does It Again has been on repeat for me since the show, and I can't wait to see them again. They're playing at pretty much every festival in existence this summer, and I can't recommend it enough.....go see them. They're probably playing pretty early in the day at whatever festival you're going to, so do yourself a favor. Get there early that day, and see White Reaper. They just might be the best set you see all day. I can't wait to see them again at Bunbury, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. (I'm not kidding when I say they are playing at every festival in existence this year).
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: There are certain shows that you look forward to more than others. When you've seen as many shows as we have at The Busted Amp, it's just the nature of the game. Friday night was one of those nights. Joseph, my partner and co-founder here at The Busted Amp (finally) moved back to Cincinnati from Nashville. Kishi Bashi was the first show on our calendar that we'd be attending together, thus beginning a new chapter of collaboration and joint perspective that I fully look forward to exploring in the year ahead.
Joseph and I have both seen Kishi Bashi on multiple occasions in the past, and we agreed that his latest album Sonderlust was one of the best of 2016. I was very excited to hear the new material in a live setting and how the songs have evolved in the year since the album was released.
The band started the set by performing a few songs from 151a acoustically to celebrate the album's 5th anniversary. including "Bright Whites" and "Beat the Bright Out of Me". The remainder of the show was a pretty standard overview of their three albums to date. The one thing that stuck out to me the most was the surprising lack of emphasis on looping, especially on songs from Sonderlust. In the past, K has used looping for a majority of songs, and oftentimes they are the backbone that drives the song forward. This time, however, looping was used more as an accent than as a centerpiece. Because of this, the set felt much more like a rock show than anything that I've experienced from him in the past.
Speaking of rock shows, Kishi Bashi has been known to throw classic rock covers into their sets, and tonight they played a face melting version of the Styx classic "Come Sail Away" with their merch person dressed up in a giant steak outfit. Yes, Mr. Steak sang Styx and it was fantastic.
The encore was another highlight for me, K and his band performed "Manchester" and "Atticus, In The Desert" acoustically in the middle of the pit, surrounded by fans singing at the top of their lungs. It was a cool, intimate moment that I won't soon forget.
Joseph: It's good to be back in Cincinnati and alongside my partner-in-crime Derek for these shows. Looking back at the hundreds of shows I've seen I was surprised to discover that I've only actually seen Kishi Bashi once, though the personal memories I have of the band far outweigh that one performance. Kishi Bashi's music has really stuck with me over the years, and I was giddy with excitement to see him live for only the second time. Despite lofty expectations, he did not disappoint.
While I share many of the same feelings Derek had, he didn't talk about the opener for Kishi Bashi in Tall Tall Trees. This band is a refreshingly original take on indie-folk, and frontman (and basically solo artist) Mike Savino is a very unique banjo player. While Savino is also the banjo/utility player for Kishi Bashi, but with Tall Tall Trees he's really given the chance to be himself. Savino utilizes a wide array of tools to create different sounds on the banjo, and his latest album, Freedays, is arguably is best album to date. Fortunately the sounds of this album transfer pretty well live, though there were times where the 20th Century Theater's sound system simply couldn't handle the sounds Savino was making. The mix could have been better, but I can hardly blame the venue for not building a sound system built around someone as unique as Tall Tall Trees.
While some of these sound deficiencies persisted into Kishi Bashi's set, none of it was even remotely enough to deter from the overall experience. Both Tall Tall Trees and Kishi Bashi put on great shows, and memories like dancing along with Mr. Steak while singing "Come Sail Away" or watching K. get into the crowd for an intimate encore are some of the better memories I have of all the live shows I've seen. I actually teared up during his acoustic rendition of "Manchester." It was beauty in its purest form. Even though I personally love his looping and was slightly disappointed that he didn't do it more, his rock show vibe still had all the energy it needed and then some. I cannot emphasize this enough: Kishi Bashi puts on one of the coolest shows you'll see, and when Tall Tall Trees opens for him? Forget about it. It doesn't get much better than that. Let's keep this roll of good live shows going, 2017.
By: Derek Jung
Nearly a year after they last played Madison Theater, Shovels & Rope made their return to my beloved Covington, Kentucky music venue for another go around. As I mentioned in that review, Shovels & Rope and I go back before their first album was released, and the band has always had a soft spot in my heart. This show, however, was anything but a triumphant return for the band, and it was a rare weak moment in the five times that I've seen them perform.
When we entered the theater, it became immediately apparent that the heat was entirely too high, and the near capacity crowd did not help matters whatsoever. We found our spot in the crowd and listened to opener John Moreland's set, which was absolutely fantastic. His gritty voice and melancholy lyrics blended perfectly. By the end of his set, he left the stage to rousing applause, and I'm certain that the crowd wouldn't have complained if he'd played longer. I will definitely be checking out his set at Forecastle this summer.
Shovels & Rope took the stage a bit later and charged through songs from their last two albums Little Seeds and Swimmin' Time. From the first note it was obvious that the mix was terrible. The bass drum was so overpowered that it hurt my ears through my musician grade earplugs. Michael Trent's electric guitar was also too loud in the mix, and the combination of the two ruined the new, more rock driven songs. When they finally played something from their debut full length, O' Be Joyful, it was almost too late to save the set for us.
I know Shovels & Rope. I know what they normally sound like. So I'm mostly willing to write this night off as a bad stop on the tour, but I will say that I was not a big fan of the band's most recent release, Little Seeds. I wish they would return to the folk americana sounds of O' Be Joyful, but I also understand that the band's growing success has happened with the newer sound. So, until next time, my friends.
Check out a video of them playing "I Know" on Conan below.
By: Derek Jung
Despite having no new material since their 2013 album Evil Friends, Portugal. The Man is back on the road and looking as good as ever. Known for their powerful, energetic live shows, the band brought the house down at Madison Theater, but not before giving a shout out to former Cincinnati/Covington venue The Mad Hatter. Despite the lack of new material, it did not look to have a large effect on the size of the crowd that came out on a chilly November weekday.
Having never seen them before, I was immediately surprised at the show dynamics. First, the stand up comedian Adam Tod Brown was the first opener. While his act is relatively low brow humor, it was a something to witness before an indie rock band. But wait! He wasn't the only opener. After a quick DJ set by the band's hype man (we'll return to this in a bit), German rapper Casper came out and performed a unexpectedly wild set. So let's quickly recap up to this point. We've had a stand up comedian, a DJ set, and a foreign rapper open up for an indie rock band. Totally bizarre.
After all of that was finished, the hype man returned to the stage to introduce Portugal. The Man. He then proceeded to stay on stage the entire set and interject various "put your hands up" or "make some fucking noise" or [insert pump up phrase here]. It was the cherry on top of one of the strangest shows I've seen for what I came into thinking would be a fairly straight forward set. With all of that static, the question remains. How was the band?
In short, pretty darn great. The performance was tight. Nothing seemed stale or overplayed. In fact, the band was noticeably having a good time. At one point towards the end of the set, the band's manager(?) ran on stage and shoved mushroom-laden chocolate straight into each band member's mouth. Like I said, bizarre! The on stage banter was pretty light, thus the need for the hype man to interact with the crowd, but I didn't feel like anything was lost from it. All in all it was an enjoyable set. The band had a great mash up of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" with "Purple Yellow Red Blue" as well as an Always Sunny in Philadelphia reference of "Dayman Song" as the intro to "So American". It was so cool I posted a video of it below. John Baldwin Gourley's vocals are surprisingly on point to where it sounds on the record. I'm looking forward to hearing some new material from them. Hopefully this coming year.
Watch the band play "So American" and "People Say" on KEXP from 2013 below. Again, the Always Sunny reference in the intro is amazing.
By: Derek Jung
As with any election season, many celebrities and bands have voiced their opinions for any who are willing to listen. The National have, throughout their career, been very vocal supporters of Democratic candidates. Four years ago, they played a "Get Out The Vote" concert in support of President Obama's reelection campaign at the historic Emery Theatre in downtown Cincinnati, and eight years ago they played on Fountain Square for the same cause. This year, they returned in support of Hillary Clinton at Washington Park.
Despite little advertising outside of their social media pages, a moderately large crowd gathered on an unseasonably warm November evening in Cincinnati. After a few speeches in support of the Democratic platform, including one by National Treasure and Hangover star Justin Bartha, The National took the stage to a surprisingly less than enthusiastic crowd. In fact, this was a theme throughout the show - a general lack of energy and excitement for a free show from one of the biggest indie rock acts in the world. Frankly, it was a little disappointing.
The band played well though, despite having muted guitars in the sound mix. Since they haven't released any new material since 2013's Trouble Will Find Me, their setlist was pretty standard. I was particularly excited that they played "About Today" from 2004's Cherry Tree EP; it's one of my favorite live compositions by the band and always a thrill to experience the slow build and glorious finale. Part of me was hoping for "Peggy-O" or "Morning Dew" from their fantastic Grateful Dead covers box set Day of the Dead that was released earlier this year, but no such luck was had. Lead singer Matt Berninger was light of the political discourse during the set, but jokingly tried to make connections with some of the song titles. While some would argue that there isn't much hope left in this election, I have hope for a new National album in 2017.
Check out the full setlist below and watch a local news segment on the concert. Yours truly makes an appearance in a plaid shirt around 1:24.
Don't Swallow the Cap
Sea of Love
I Need My Girl
This Is the Last Time
By: Joseph Kathmann
It's hard to put into words what I just saw, but whatever it was I liked it. I liked it a lot. This show was an absolute blast to watch, featuring one of the most energetic and passionate crowds I have ever seen. Everyone was dressed up and having the time of their lives. Even though I suspect that a large portion of the crowd were not die-hard Here Come the Mummies fans, this crowd simply just loved music, and it set a new standard for what I hope to see from a crowd at any show going forward.
Opening for Here Come the Mummies was Japanese punk band Peelander-Z. This was a very odd choice for Here Come the Mummies, but it was also a sign of just how good this crowd was going to be. I'm sure none of them came to this show expecting to hear Japanese punk music, but the band was able to get them into their show nonetheless. There were some really weird antics throughout this 45 minute set, featuring a lot of signs, what appeared to be bringing random people from the audience on stage to play drums and guitar, and a flash dance party in the middle of the crowd. I wasn't too particularly keen on this set, particularly when their final song felt like it took about 10 minutes to end. I kid you not, their "big rock ending" to their set lasted 10 minutes. It was certainly a bit much, but the crowd didn't mind.
Following an awesome costume contest that featured some trees, (with lights) The Dude, and Colonel Sanders with a big bucket of chicken, Here Come the Mummies took the stage. Featuring their trademarked mummy garbs, the band began their set in unique fashion with a drum intro and march through the crowd similar to a marching band as everyone in the band had on various percussion instruments. The band opened with "My Party" and never looked back, tearing through a ridiculous 2+ hour set. The band had antics all throughout the show, and their antics reminded me of my days in college marching band and pep band, (hooooo!) so I was having a blast along with everyone else. The crowd was electric, dancing and groove through every moment of the 20+ songs. Sure, the songs are pretty shallow and nearly every one has to do with sex, but the crowd didn't care. Watching Colonel Sanders dance with his bucket of chicken was awesome, and even the trees were getting into it. I don't think I've ever seen trees move that much.
Ultimately, this was one of the coolest sets I have ever seen. This set was the kind of set I dreamed about coming to Nashville, and while there were definitely a fair amount of external factors that impacted and raised the overall vibe of this show, but the explosiveness and intensity of Here Come the Mummies was pivotal as well. I definitely want to see these guys again to see just how much of a role these external factors played, but as is this set is right there with Prophets of Rage for my favorite set during my time here in Nashville.
Check out a video of "Ra Ra Ra" below.
By: Joseph Kathmann
On a cold southern night in a tiny, packed, venue, Nothing But Thieves followed up their strong Lollapalooza set (which I called one of my favorite sets of the festival) with another gem. I cannot emphasize this enough: go out and see them right now. You will not get the chance to see them at a tiny club like Exit/In for much longer. The vibe of this small venue definitely helped to feed the energy of the band too.
First, though, was The Wreks. There was another opener, The Roads Below, but unfortunately I missed them because I showed up 25 minutes late and they only had a 20 minute set. While it was tough to really get a feel for The Wreks because they themselves only played for about 25 minutes, they did everything they could to convert some new fans in that short span. I think they did, because here's one person who wants to see them again. They clearly threw a lot of ideas against the wall, and while not all of those ideas stuck, the ones that did were quite impressive. I hope to see them again soon.
Then came Nothing But Thieves. They exploded through the gates with my favorite song of their namesake debut album, "Itch," and kept the intensity going through most of their short 55 minute set. However notice I said most there. There was one misstep in the exact middle of the set. During this brief 3 or 4 song interlude, the band slouched through a couple of their weaker deep tracks, and also trotted out a new song that took everything that made their debut album so great, and did the exact opposite. This new song was easily the low point of the show, but I am not at all worried about what this means long term. Because the rest of their set was just that good. Highlighted by their hit "Trip Switch" as well as "Painkiller," Nothing But Thieves successfully reminded me why I am so confident in their future. They were even able to turn one of my least favorite songs on their debut, "If I Get High," into a great and emotional ballad toward the end of the set. They may still only have one album to their name, but the quality of their music and already-refined live show makes them poised to take the music world by storm in short order. Check them out now before they're forced to play at larger venues.
2) Honey Whiskey
5) Graveyard Wedding
6) Drawing Pins
7) Six Billion
8) New Song (unknown name)
10) Excuse Me
11) Wake Up Call
12) If I Get High
13) Trip Switch
14) Ban All the Music
If you need more convincing, check out Nothing But Thieves performance of "Trip Switch" below.
By: Derek Jung
Celebrating their debut full length debut release, Dawg Yawp took the stage at MOTR Pub a little after 11 on a comfortable fall Friday evening in downtown Cincinnati. The reasonably small bar was packed to capacity for one of the most hyped new bands in the city, and one that's also has been receiving notice from NPR's Bob Boilen amongst others. I've been following the band since I saw them perform during an intermission at MusicNOW Festival this year, and their performance this summer at Bunbury was one of our favorites of the early afternoon acts.
The band performed pretty much every song off the new album, many of which were teased on their EP Two Hearted earlier this year. Tyler Randall's sitar playing was just what the shoulder to shoulder crowd needed. It was hot, stuffy, and sweaty in there, and songs like "Lost At Sea" conjured up images of traversing seas of sand in the deserts of northwestern India. It was a special atmosphere and the excitement was palpable from both the band and those gathered to see them.
Since it's only the duo on stage, songs like "Can't Think" and "Dawg", which have electric guitars and percussion, take new forms live. Guitarist Rob Keenan spends much of his time on a sound board, pressing buttons that hold sound samples for each instrument that can't be played live. On one hand, it's unique and different, but on the other it's a little boring to watch him press buttons. While their gracious nature evokes a lot of good will from the crowd, especially in Cincinnati, I want to see them work on their showmanship, and I think - unpopular opinion time - that having live backing musicians would be a fantastic addition to their set and give them the freedom to expand their songwriting moving forward.
All things considered, it was a great showcase of the album, and they have a bright, successful future ahead of them.
Check out a live performance of "Can't Think" from WNKU's Studio 89 below.
By: Derek Jung
Kevin Barnes and gang have kept their touring regiment fairly consistent over their first twenty years of existence. Since I started following them five or so years ago, the band has made a yearly stop in Cincinnati to play. When I first saw them in 2012, it was at Madison Theater. Year by year though, their crowd has shrunk, and because of this, their past two visits have been at Woodward Theater, which is much smaller. But while the theaters have gotten smaller, the energy and theatrics of their live show are just as wild and sexually charged as ever.
Touring on their most recent release, Innocence Reaches, the band swept through two hours of songs from that album, Skeletal Lamping, as well as some from Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?. The thing that I've always liked about of Montreal is they transition from one song to another seamlessly. There are no breaks for water, tuning, or new instruments. If a band member needs to tune up or, in Barnes' case, change outfits, they just do it. There's always so much action going on between the music and the staged skits that it's hardly noticeable.
Speaking of the stage skits, the band is on a much lower budget than they were in years past, but they're still amusing and wildly sexual. Barnes himself often portrays female characters, blending his gender identity, and tonight was no different. Skit performers in skin suits with nipples painted on them danced around stage and with Barnes. Another actor later came on stage in a giant inflatable penis outfit wearing a Donald Trump mask. It's bizarre, intriguing, and sometimes hilarious. A few more memorable moments were when a two person possum costume (think a horse costume where one person is the head and another is the rear) fully equipped with blinking eyes and a movable mouth danced about on stage. This was followed by two actors dancing on stage with leaf blowers that had pouches that looked too similar to testicles to ignore the fact that when they blew feathers into the crowd, it was basically like them ejaculating. These skits are the highlight of the show for me, and why I invite friends to attend at least one of their shows, even if they don't enjoy the music.
Keep on being you, of Montreal.
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: