Monday, September 21, 2009

Porcupine Tree deepens it roots

If you've never heard of the band Porcupine Tree, don't worry. Neither has The New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, or The Boston Globe. The British group, who are a progressive rock outfit in the truest sense of the term, have been thoroughly ignored by all those newspapers even though the band has sold out 2,500 seaters in each of those cities on its current tour. The band's brand 10th studio album, "The Incident," has also just entered the Billboard album charts at #25, with similar success in the UK. (For a crash course on the band, read my recent interview with its frontman, Steven Wilson, over at Pop Matters.)

The band amassed its sizable fanbase the old-fashioned way: relentless touring and word of mouth. (Not to mention consistently great albums.) They also relied on canny marketing, as this recent Billboard magazine article notes.

Porcupine Tree arrived in Los Angeles a couple of days ago to play its new album in its entirety to a sold-out Nokia Theater. "The Incident" is my favorite album of the year so far (I gave it a rave review in the current issue of FILTER magazine), which isn't surprising given that Porcupine Tree is one of my very favorite groups of all time. So much of "The Incident," is even better live, especially tracks like "Octane Twisted" and "Hearse." The highlight was "Time Flies," which you can watch in the music video above (this is a radio edit of an 11-minute epic).

After playing the entire first disc of the album and breaking for a 10 minute intermission, they returned for a dynamic second set of older selections. (I won't review the show here as I'm writing a piece on it for Carbon Nation, a fanzine for the band.) One of the very best shows I've seen by the band.

Of note: Rush's Neil Peart, who has touted the band in his books and praised PT drummer Gavin Harrison in interviews, was at the show and also present at the after party, albeit ensconsed behind a curtained cabanna.


First set: The Incident in its entirety

10 Minute intermission:

Second set: "Start of Something Beautiful," "Buying New Soul," "Sound of Muzak" "Anesthetize," "Lazarus," "Strip the Soul/.3," "Bonnie the Cat," "Way Out of Here" and "Trains."

Rolling Stone's David Fricke, a supporter of the band in recent years, just reviewed "The Incident" for Rolling Stone. Read his effusive take on the album here.

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