Watch This: Vol. 56

by Steven Spoerl

Part two of today’s three-part Watch This marathon once again returns to a few familiar faces and two new ones that should have been featured all along. It’s another installment that covers the acoustic single take session to full electric set gamut and contains one of the most unique KEXP sessions to have come out of 2014. A few big names and a few emerging ones provide a pretty balanced spread- and all of them provide great performances. These are five clips from the past two weeks that are worth time investment. So, as always, grab a snack, crack a drink, sit back, turn the volume up, and Watch This.

1. TV On The Radio – Happy Idiot (KCRW)

TV On The Radio delivered one of the all-time great late night performances on Letterman years back with a positively fierce version of “Wolf Like Me” that put them on the map. Ever since then, the band’s been subject to extraordinarily high expectations and has rarely disappointed. This year’s Seeds was an undeniably intriguing release, with lead-off single “Happy Idiot” serving as a strong highlight. Live, the song takes on new life and becomes a reminder of some of the things that make TV On The Radio one of this generation’s more fascinating acts. Bonus points for Kyp Malone’s beard, always-incredible falsetto, and Thurston Moore signature jazzmaster.

2. Sorority Noise – Blonde Hair, Black Lungs (Space Jam Sessions)

A few bands quietly emerged over the course of the past eleven months and Sorority Noise were certainly among that group. With a great album and a great split under their belt, a lot of people have started granting them the attention they deserve. Here, they deliver an engaging acoustic performance of the lilting “Blonde Hair, Black Lungs” for Space Jam Sessions that more than lives up to their growing acclaim.

3. Restorations – Wales (Little Elephant)

Every once in a while Little Elephant will deliver on consistently great sessions from incredible live bands and Restorations are currently in the middle of one of their gradual session roll-outs. Having already earned a previous Watch This feature spot, they return with a vengeance. “Wales” is a menacing slow-builder that showcases the band’s penchant for dynamics and tension. For “Wales”, Restorations’ claws come out and dig into every tendon they can find. It’s a ferocious performance from a band that excels in a live setting, making this unmissable.

4. Shilpa Ray – Johnny Thunders’ Fantasy Space Camp (TCGS)

It’s been a while since a performance from The Chris Gethard Show has made an appearance in this feature- and who better to revive it than former Grinderman touring partner Shilpa Ray. Laying waste to a harmonium and a microphone, Ray leads her band through the driving “Johnny Thunders’ Fantasy Space Camp”. The band puts seemingly everything they’ve got on the line and the audience responds in kind. It’s a strong enough performance to make converts out of anyone who wasn’t previously familiar with Shilpa Ray- and it’s more than strong enough to earn a spot in this installment of Watch This.

5. Courtney Barnett (KEXP)

It’s unlikely that there’s been an artist to have more full set Watch This appearances than Courtney Barnett. There’s a reason Barnett and her band keep cracking  their way into these lists; there’s a palpable vibrancy and sense of pure enjoyment to their live show that’s more clear-cut than just about anyone else currently playing music. That said, they’ve never been more entertaining than they are here- appropriately decked out and fully costumed for a Halloween performance that doubles as one of the most memorable sessions the reliably excellent KEXP’s hosted all year.