Our friends from Head of FemurMatt Focht and Eathan Janney are on the road this month with Connor Oberst. I suppose this means their stint together in Nebraska yielded good chemistry. Focht and Janney will be traveling with a few new folks under the moniker The Matt Focht Band. Unfortunately they seem only to be touring Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and of course Illinois. What I wouldn’t give to see this lineup at the Vic Theater. Lucky bastards. If there is a chance they might continue together eastward, I’ll get the word out. Can’t we get Focht to Terminal 5 in November?
The Matt Focht Band and Conor Oberst Tour Together October 29th 2008 8pm @ FIRST AVE. Minneapolis, Minnesota October 30th 2008 8pm @ TURNER HALL Milwaukee, Wisconsin October 31st 2008 7pm @ VIC THEATRE Chicago, Illinois November 1st 2008 7pm @ VIC THEATRE Chicago, Illinois November 2nd 2008 8pm @ ROYAL OAK MUSIC THEATRE Royal Oak, Michigan
Nebraska again has the pleasure of welcoming home a favorite son back to Omaha and Lincoln for a special performance at the end of September. Matt Focht of Head of Femur fame will be on stage at the Anchor Inn in Omaha and Duffy’s Tavern in Lincoln. With the help of 6 newly enlisted rockers, Focht will debut new material. He will be in great company too:
Head of Femur head back out on the road, possibly giving their last performances of the “season.” Although, I have a feeling that come late summer there will be plenty of clamor for them to get their asses into a van and drive eastward. In fact, let that clamoring begin right now!
May 15th- Minneapolis, MN @ The Uptown *
May 16th- Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s *
May 17th- Dubuque, IA @ Busted Lift *
May 18th- Iowa City, IA @ Iowa City Yacht Club *
May 20th- Lincoln, NE @ Box Awesome *
May 21th- Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room *
May 24th- Kansas City, MO @ The Brick
May 25th- Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
* with The Heavenly States & Poison Control Center
Head of Femur
March 25th 2008
Beyond the band’s weirdness and artsy veneer, Head of Femur has a core spirit that has captured the imagination of thousands. The journey they have undertaken, from inception to contemporary form, underscores their unique and enduring qualities. Their narrative is a sort of mythos, inspirational in its own way, yet filled with difficult challenges. Great Plains, more than any other record in their catalog, portrays Head of Femur as the pioneers they are. With it they continue their uncompromised ethos, but over the last two years they have had the time to reflect on their situation and the willingness to move forward, adjust and absorb events that ultimately shaped the band’s present incarnation.
Since the release of Hysterical Stars in 2005, the boys of Head of Femur have taken it upon themselves to rework their operation. The mid-section of this decade saw great things for the band. They christened the first ever Intonation Festival and traveled across the country in support of Hysterical Stars. Head of Femur received favorable reviews from tastemakers such as Pitchfork for Ringodom or Proctor and Hysterical Stars. They released the EP Leader and the Falcon in October of 2007, the same month that they had a great showing at the CMJ Music Marathon. Expectations for their subsequent release were high.
Between 2005 and 2007 founding member Ben Armstrong (hear, hear!) and keyboardist Tyson Thurston left the band for other pursuits. Each contributed to Head of Femur’s newest release and remains part of the Head of Femur family. Colby Starck now attends to the bands percussive needs and Eathan Janney has transitioned perfectly on keys. As anyone who has witnessed will attest, their live show is not to be missed. They have been touring for the better part of two years with material that is featured on their Leader and the Falcon EP and their newest record Great Plains.
It is not that a revolving roster of musicians is new to Head of Femur. That has been the norm since the bands beginning. In fact that has been one of the defining characteristics of the band whose extended musical family numbers well over a dozen. Head of Femur has scaled down the magnitude of instrumentation with Great Plains. Some have said, “Head of Femur‘s Great Plains sheds the excessive glory of past efforts and focuses on immediate melodies.” But this line does not aptly describe the transition the band has undergone. The style and fashion that the band projects can at times be eccentric and schizophrenic, but that is not the monolith by which they should be defined.
To call their music excessive rebuts the very movement that their prior records sought to establish. As much as minimalist 3 piece rock bands have become standard fodder for music halls everywhere, Head of Femur has asserted their belief that composition and orchestration have a place as well. They have reduced their instrumentation, resulting in more manageable live shows, but do not think for a second that they have resigned only to what is immediate, forsaking their multitude of multi-phonic, multilayered, tempo driven textures.
Mike Elsener impressively sings lead on Jetway Junior and Where’s the Fire, two of his best vocal tracks ever. Covered Wagons is one of the finest crafted songs of the season. Between it and Isn’t It a Shame, Head of Femur has definitively asserted themselves as serious song writers. Their oddness does not corrupt their talent. The narrative that the band presents in their music reflects their adventures from Omaha and Lincoln Nebraska, to the neighborhoods of Chicago, where they are not simply transplants, but are ingrained into the art and music scenes.
This Message reminds me of Chicago and my Midwestern experience. The track will never get old and is among the best they have ever written. While it doesn’t quite capture the intensity of their live show, the looped riff from Napoleon’s Boots is phenomenal. Elsener’s chops are appropriately featured on this record. Song after song presents a band that knows exactly how they want to sound; they are not confused about the aesthetic they emit. However, they seem to be unaware of their greatness. If a criticism could be leveled against them, it would be that they should tour ceaselessly. Head of Femur‘s music is endearing and crisp on record, but their music is infectious and consuming live. Come see Brooklyn bitches!
Ringodom or Proctor- 2003
Do The Tavern and Other Tall Tales iTunes EP- 2005
Leader and the Falcon EP- 2007
April 11th 8:00PM @ Shubas- Chicago
May 15th 10:15PM @ Uptown- Minneapolis, Minnesota
May 17th 8:00PM @ Busted Lift- Dubuque, Iowa
May 18th 6:00PM @ Iowa City Yacht Club- Iowa City, Iowa
May 19th 10:00PM @ Box Awesome- Lincoln, Nebraska
May 20th 11:00PM @ The Waiting Room- Omaha, Nebraska
Band members Matt Focht, Mike Elsener, Eathan Janney, Colby Starck, and Nick “The Chancellor” Westra have decided to release their long anticipated third record at the end of March, just in time for my birthday. Great Plains is the product of a new ethos developed by the band. While still maintaining their signature style, Head of Femur have challenged themselves to delve deeper into their collective being to make a record that has all the musicality and pop-art sensibility of their former incarnations, each member putting forth more of themselves to achieve with ten hands what was once attempted by forty.
This in no way means that I expect Great Plains to sound like previous albums. I do expect Head of Femur to be forward thinking in their effort. That being said, Head of Femur does represent something. They have a deliberate weirdness, an innate sense of melody, and they stay ahead of the curve that independent music tends to follow. Their new material may be “striped down” but not in the sense that it has been derogatively reduced. Indeed I would describe the move as a refinement process. So go to Schubas people! I can’t wait to review the record and wish I could be there for the show…