Friday, June 11, 2010

Dreamend - A trip down memory lane

This show was almost two months ago now, but I still wanted to post something about it.

I suppose it would also be worth mentioning that I currently have a broken hip. Three weeks ago I had a cycling accident. As I was attempting to make a turn my wheels came out from under me (apparently this was due to the road both being wet and also having an oil slick on it) and I went straight down on my left hip. It was a painful experience. I'm on crutches and will be for at least a few more weeks. It's certainly frustrating, especially with the nice weather we've been having, but hey, sometimes these things happen, and I am getting better.

Now for the main part of this post. In April the Chicago-based experimental/shoegaze/post-rock band Dreamend played at the Grog Shop, opening for The Appleseed Cast. Both members of the lineup attracted me to the show, but I was definitely more drawn by Dreamend.

I like Dreamend; they've released several good albums . . . but I would hardly call them one of my favorite bands. Yet this was a show that I did not want to miss. Why? Well, I'd seen Dreamend once before, in the fall of 2005, at The Spot. It was actually one of the first concerts that I ever went to. A quick Google search informs me that the date of this show was October 12, 2005. In the summer of 2005 I, for the first time, started exploring music outside of the mainstream, and in September of 2005 I started going to concerts on a regular basis for the first time in my life. It turns out that that Dreamend show was one day before the first time I saw Nada Surf, and three days before the first time I saw the Decemberists, so it was a very memorable week for concerts.

That Dreamend concert was certainly not on the same level to me as the two other show that week, but I still quite enjoyed it, and as I think back, Dreamend may very well have been my introduction to the genre of post-rock. So my reasons for wanting to see Dreamend in 2010 were largely nostalgia-driven.

Dreamend played a solid set at the Grog Shop. I actually didn't recognize at least half of the songs. Early in the set, though, when they played "Can't Take You," I felt some nostalgia stirring. You see, back in 2005, my music collection was rather lacking. I eschewed illegal music downloads (and still do); instead, I obtained a large number of songs by going to bands' websites and downloading the free tracks they had available. I placed all these songs in an iTunes playlist called "cool DLed tunes," and would often listen to it on shuffle. "Can't Take You" was one of the songs I got from Dreamend's website.

So it was nice to hear this song, but there was another song I wanted to hear far, far more. "Passing," the last track on their 2004 album As If By Ghosts, was another of those songs I downloaded from Dreamend's website way back when. It's also, in my opinion, easily the best thing they've ever done. But I didn't have high hopes to hear it; the set seemed to be focused more on newer songs, and the time Dreamend had left was running low . . .

When the opening notes of their last song sounded, I recognized them immediately, and was thrilled. I'll be honest. Up to that point, I had enjoyed Dreamend's set, but I could have missed it and it wouldn't really have bothered me. When they played "Passing," though, I could only stand there enthralled for seven minutes. I guess Dreamend agree with me that "Passing" is a career highlight. It's an epic post-rock piece that would not feel out of place on an Explosions in the Sky album. I got video (missing the very start of the song, and unfortunately when it gets loud the sound quality is kind of poor); here it is:

Fortunately, the great music that night was just beginning. The Appleseed Cast performed their emo-tinged post-rock albums Low Level Owl Vol. 1 & 2 in their entirety, back-to-back with a brief intermission in which Saved by the Bell clips were amusingly projected on the wall. It was an outstanding performance, with great musicianship all around and impeccable sound quality. I probably had a somewhat unusual perspective, having heard just the first of the two albums previously. Despite this, I felt The Appleseed Cast easily kept the momentum up throughout their show. Overall, they were definitely the stronger of the two bands that night.

But for me, "Passing" was the highlight of the evening.

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