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May 8, 2015 01:44 PM

Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

Words by Rick Levin • Photos by Todd Cooper

Tapping a set list that pulled heavily from their soon-to-be-released album Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra infused WOW Hall on Thursday, May 7, with a bright, buzzy sound that threaded their trademark psychedelia through sonic realms of bass-heavy neo-Motown and ‘80s funk, all of it held together by the superb songwriting and furious guitar chops of frontman Ruban Nielson. Held deep in the groove by bassist Jake Portrait, drummer Riley Geare and newest member Quincy McCrary on keys, Nielson feathered his smooth croon into songs that, by turns, channeled the pop revivalism of Prince (“Multi-Love”), the plunky Hammond groove of Stevie Wonder (“Like Acid Rain”) and even the angular upbeats and tidal choruses of mid-career Talking Heads (“Necessary Evil”). The whole effect was a beaty, big and bouncy stew of smart, sophisticated music you can dance to, or dance music that is sophisticated and smart. Either way, UMO proved versatile and adaptive, unafraid of pinning a disco undercarriage to the raw, ethereal fuzz of their live sound. This is a talented band on the upswing, and they compel movement.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com
Unknown Mortal Orchestra • Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

May 7, 2015 10:03 AM

Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

After their set, we came down to the Weekly's studio and took a few polaroids.

Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com Prince Rama | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

May 7, 2015 09:47 AM

Big Gipp | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

Words by Bryan Kalbrosky • Photos by Todd Cooper

Big Gipp, most known for his work with Atlanta hip-hop collective Goodie Mob, is a godfather of the “Dirty South” rap tradition.

Folks in Eugene who knew he was coming to town were able to watch a living legend on stage at May 3 at WOW Hall. As a young rapper in Atlanta, OutKast featured Gipp on “Git Up, Git Out” on the duo’s debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik in 1994. Alongside Gipp as a frontman in Goodie Mob were Cee-Lo (also known as Gnarls Barkley with Danger Mouse) as well as Khujo and T-Mo.

Yet the crowd was small on Sunday night. The intermission DJ after the opening act made the show feel more like an empty frat party with an excessive light show than a gig headlined by a contemporary of Andre 3000 and Big Boi.

But two people entered the dance floor and each performed front flips, and so the night began. Gipp out rocking a black and red suit, white headband and arguably the whitest shoes I’ve ever seen. He was also wearing grillz, and quickly performed “Grillz” (his radio hit with Nelly about the shiny cosmetic dental apparatuses) to give the crowd some necessary energy early in the night.

Every time the chorus rang “Smile for me daddy” over the speakers, Gipp blessed the crowd with a sparkling smile. He also rapped about the various color grillz he owns, in a verse that included the stanza: “I got four different sets, it’s a fabulous thang … one white, one yellow, like Fabolous chain.”

All night, Gipp’s DJ Prophet scratched vinyls and kept the vibe danceable and fun. “I don’t care if it’s just two people,” said Gipp, a nod at the smaller crowd. “How many people love hip hop?”

At times, however, it was difficult to understand Gipp when he spoke through his grillz — which he kept in his mouth the entire show. But he was easy to hear when he was talking about how all of the “shit happening now, we talked about 20 years ago” before he played the Goodie Mob hit “Cell Therapy” from 1995. He also threw in “Listen up, Eugene, ’cause I’m talking to you” after the second chorus.

Of course, the politically minded Gipp also had his fair share to say about martial law and the current state of Baltimore. His theme focused on police brutality, curfew and marijuana legalization.

When he played “B.O.B.” by OutKast later, I counted a total of 30 people (including performers) in the entire venue. The low attendance was a shame, but Gipp handled the tiny crowd with grace.

During the show, Gipp also discussed giving away music for free, collaborations with Bruno Mars and how he can play venues in front of tens of thousands of people but enjoys “checking in” with the smaller crowds. After complaining about how Cee-Lo didn’t believe in the power of Goodie Mob anymore, Gipp urged the crowd to support emerging hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.

It’s tough to perform a small show when you’re a rapper, because you can’t do a stripped down acoustic set like a rock ‘n’ roll band might. But when he was hanging around after the show, one fan told Gipp how important his show was to her and her boyfriend. She used to only listen to rock, but when her boyfriend showed her Goodie Mob, she said she became a bigger fan than he was.

The venue played him out to OutKast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious,” and the night ended without an encore. It was cool to see Gipp perform, though he might need a bigger crowd next time to convince him to come back.

Big Gipp | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

Big Gipp | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

Big Gipp | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

Big Gipp | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

Big Gipp | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

Big Gipp | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

Big Gipp | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

Big Gipp | Photo by Todd Cooper jasontoddcooper.com

May 1, 2015 08:51 AM

st paul and the broken bones web

I've been down in Mississippi the past couple weeks and couldn't help myself from doing a little "work" while I was there.

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March 30, 2015 02:45 PM

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Words by Rick Levin • Photos by Todd Cooper

As Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield kicked into a tremulous, tender cover of Elliott Smith’s “Baby Britain” to open their March 27 set at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, the butterflies were evident. After all, Portland was Smith’s stomping ground, and Avett and Mayfield — on tour to support their gorgeous new album of Smith songs — were acutely aware that, for many in the audience, they were treading hallowed ground. Avett acknowledged this fact a few songs into the set, when he said that, were they to play only one show on the tour, Portland would be it.

And so, nerves and all, Avett and Mayfield were embraced by a packed house of hometown fans who were treated to a cycle of songs that touched every beautiful, bittersweet byway of Elliott Smith’s brilliant career. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime performances — a perfect convergence of history, artistry and inspiration — as two great songwriters, so deeply touched by the craft of a departed fellow musician, pour their heart and soul into a celebration that seemed to overflow the time and place that defines it.

Any trepidation quickly disappeared, as Avett and Mayfield brought an engaging combination of warmth and humility to the stage, which resembled a sort of stylized Betty Crocker kitchen from the 1950s — perfect for the intimate buzz of Smith’s songwriting, which turned everyday scenes into cosmic meditations on love, loneliness and the ravages of addiction. The song selection — moving from anthems of alienation (“Let’s Get Lost” and “Memory Lane”) to scorched ballads (“Between the Bars”) to eulogies to annihilation (“Fond Farewell” and the stunning “Twilight”) — was interspersed with originals by both Avett and Mayfield as well as a number of fantastic covers, including Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman,” George Harrison’s “I Me My” and a rollicking version of Neil Young’s “Out on the Weekend.”

It might sound distinctly un-Elliott-Smith-like, but a kind of collective love and faith flowed through the Crystal Ballroom that evening, a feeling of mutual connection to Smith’s music as well as an affection for two fine performers who brought their considerable talents to bear on a tribute long in the making. At the end of the show, and two standing ovations later, it felt like something momentous, even necessary, had occurred — a resolution of sorts, like something broken put back together, if for just a moment. 

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sethandjessica-6496

March 17, 2015 11:59 AM

Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Words by Rick Levin • Photos by Todd Cooper

No doubt Jeff Tweedy is one of the finest songwriters of his generation, but what really puts him over the top as an artist is that voice — by turns raw, scorched and honey-sweet, Tweedy’s singing is capable of evoking moments of passion in all their complexity, walking a tightrope between sincerity and irony, vulnerability and rage. And that voice was on full display Sunday, March 15, when — with his latest outfit named, suitably enough, Tweedy — the Wilco front man performed an intimate set of new and old stuff for a rapt audience at The Shedd.

Backed by a band that included some longtime friends as well as his son, Spencer, on drums, Tweedy commenced his set with a cycle of songs drawn from the new band’s 2014 debut, Sukierae, which includes squelchy, anthemic hard rockers (“Please Don’t Let Me Be So Understood”) as well as a handful of pop gems (“Summer Noon”) and the sort of gutsy, waltz-driven folk (“Nobody Dies Anymore”) that’s become the man’s trademark.

As tight and engaging as the band was, it was Tweedy’s warm, humorous banter between numbers that drew in the crowd. Typically focused and taciturn, Tweedy on this night engaged the crowd with wry, lighthearted jabs about Eugene’s “stoner” status as well as relating the story of his brother’s aborted career at the University of Oregon in the ‘70s.

But, in the end, it was the music that mattered most, as Tweedy and crew wove a rich, moving tapestry of a sound into the rapt atmosphere of The Shedd’s Jacqua Hall. In between rollicking sets by the band, Tweedy took center stage, alone under a single spotlight, and played a series of songs that reached back into his substantial catalogue, including stark, moving renditions of “Jesus, etc.” and “You and I,” as well as a stunning rendition of “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and the old Wilco classic “Passenger Side.”

Opening for Tweedy was The Minus 5, an all-star band founded by Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, R.E.M.) and including among its current members R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. Supporting their latest album, Dungeon Golds, the Minus 5 ripped through a set of smart garage rock that was the perfect appetizer.

Audio from the performance can be downloaded at Seen & Heard

 

Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
Tweedy live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)

THE MINUS 5
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)
The Minus 5 live at Jaqua Concert Hall (March 15, 2015 | Eugene, Oregon)

March 3, 2015 01:10 PM

J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

Words by Bryan Kalbrosky • Photos by Todd Cooper

J. Cole came to Eugene to launch his “2014 Forest Hills Drive” tour on Monday night, and the show became more than just an early local favorite for concert of the year.

Fans who have followed Cole since the beginning, as well as people who only discovered the North Carolina-born rapper earlier this week, will likely share an opinion about this show. It was, without question, an instant classic. Heck, Cole’s memorable performance even made a strong case as frontrunner for best hip-hop show in Eugene’s recent history. 

“Do you wanna, do you wanna be happy?” Cole sang, starting out the set. The tempo picked up with an onset of the horns. 

J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

 J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper 

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 J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

It was interesting to note that the show began with an “intro” track, rather than one of his more popular hits — one of many successful, bold decisions that fans would come to expect from Cole during the show. The crowd rewarded him by throwing their arms in the air when he asked, and by jumping when told to jump.

“Eugene!” shouted Cole, as the immediate rush of screaming fans drowned the speakers at McDonald Theatre. “Tonight is a special night. It’s the very first night of the Forest Hills tour. 

Cole announced that during this show, he would perform every single song off his newest album: 2014 Forest Hills Drive — a risky move, as artists don’t usually show all their cards at the beginning of a tour. 

 J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper   

J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper 

J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper 

J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper 

Cole, however is one of the more honest, conversational performers in the rap game right now. His onstage presence feels cinematic. He boasts the charisma of a man traveling the world, sharing all types of stories. 

“We’re going all around the world: Switzerland, Sweden and Poland. We’re going to places I’d never dreamed about seeing in my life, and we started here,” he told the crowd. 

Gone were the fancy lights, and anything that would add an unnecessary layer to the production value of the evening. Cole spent much show interacting with the crowd, and performed much of the show from a stool at centerstage. 

“I’m trying to go to little towns, where I can see every face in the crowd,” explained Cole, who heavily promoted hometowns (the creative inspiration for the album) all night. 

Cole’s most impressive performance was likely during “No Role Models” when everyone shouted the chorus: “Don’t save her, she don’t want to be saved.” 

He displayed his most impressive showmanship during the song “G.O.M.D.” and made sure that every one in the venue knew that they were watching (as Andre 3000 from Outkast once described him) a show from “Hollywood Cole.”  

J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper  

J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

About halfway through his performance, however, Cole took a break from his newer music and showed some love to his original classics. The crowd lost their mind when they were met with older hits like “Lights Please,” as well as his song with Drake, “In The Morning,” and “Workout” from radio fame. 

Shortly after, Cole returned to the album and finished the second half of the tracks to close his set. “Love Yourz” was a favorite, with lots of heartfelt emotion filling the venue

The encores for the night were “Can’t Get Enough” which led into a particularly dope rendition of “Crooked Smile” from Born Sinner (2013). He ended the night with “Power Trip” (also from Born Sinner), and Cole asked for management to turn on all the lights. 

Cole looked out at the audience and people showed their appreciation — some screamed with gratitude, while others flashed the artist from the balcony. But everyone that stayed for the entire show got a remarkable reward: 

“Would you believe me if I said I’m in love?” sang Cole from “Power Trip” as the entire audience joined in.  

J. Cole live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

 

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Dreamville labelmates Omen, Cozz and Bass opened the show.

Cozz & Bas live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper 

Cozz live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

Cozz & Bas live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

Omen live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

Bas live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper  

Bas live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

Omen live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

Bas live in Eugene, Oregon • Photo by Todd Cooper

January 27, 2015 09:37 AM

Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper

We met up at Tiny's before they show to have drinks and take some shots before they tore it up at Sam Bonds. 

Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper

Joe Fletcher, who played a pretty amazing opening set, joined them for a few songs.

Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper Whitey Morgan & The 78s photo by Todd Cooper