Reviews

Into It Over It + Koji Live @ Le Pub, Newport [Live Review]

September 10, 2011

Both Into It. Over It. And Koji’s UK Tour kick-started at the end of August in Ireland. Their 15 date tour has already taken them to Cork, Dundalk, Manchester, Derby, Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Nottingham and Birmingham before their live date at Newport’s Le Pub Tuesday 6th September. A venue Koji is already familiar with. Catching the two towards the end of their intense schedule we travelled to the venue through the miserable weather to catch a unique and admirable live performance, one which will last forever to all those that attended.  

Oli Montez


Chicago Based one man marvel Evan Thomas Weise is the talent behind his creation Into It. Over It. Respectfully in 4 years this musician has 95 tracks recorded and available through 15 releases. Evan has gained a reputation for his talents after writing, playing and recording in bands such as The Progress, Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start, Map The Growth and Stay Ahead of the Weather. With an accomplished back catalogue and inspirational stories surrounding his releases throughout this time. 

 In 2007 Evan wrote, recorded and released a new song every week for an entire year. This was put into an album release titled “52 weeks”, in 2009 No Sleep Records released this. Following this in the same year, Evan later went on to write and record 12 songs about 12 different towns. Each of these tracks were spread across 6 split 7” records shared with the bands- CSTVT, Everyone Everywhere, Such Gold, Pswingset, Empire! Empire! And Bob Nanna/Lauren Lo. Support from this release came from notorious labels: No Sleep Records, Topshelf Records, Count Your Lucky Stars, Evil Weevil Records and Mightier Than The Sword Records. All 12 songs are now available through Topshelf Records titled “Twelve Towns”.
 His driving force and passion continued at full pace when the summer of 2010, Evan recorded 5 songs about 5 Chicago neighbourhoods which is found on his split with Koji released  in November of that year. This split is one of the main reason’s the two musicians and more importantly two great friends have travelled to the UK for their co-headlining tour together this summer. Always active, working within one of his other outfits- Stay Ahead Of The Summer- the band released a 7” last year. 
 But bringing Evan’s progress and Into It. Over It’s never ending supply of vision and passion, in July of this Year 12 new songs were recorded. This completes Into It. Over It’s forthcoming release “Proper”. Available from September 27th  on No Sleep Records.  The lyrical concepts of “Proper” and it’s all around aura stems from autobiographical and literal exemplifications which have taken place over the past year of Weiss’ life, most of which occurring in Chicago where he now resides. The album culminates in a heady yet straightforward melodic stew resembling Sunny Day Real Estate, Death Cab For Cutie and Dismemberment Plan to name a few, along with impassioned songwriting executed with the potency and ardor of Chuck Regan and Colin Meloy. While not labeled as a concept album per se, the stories which form the basis of Into It. Over It’s songs stem from Weiss’ own personal experiences, but are still relatable by one theme and one theme only: Life.

 No Stranger to touring and varying his extensive set list; Evan slimmed his outstanding repertoire to showcase into a 45 minute set, following on from Local welsh band Pipe Dreams. His presence on stage mellowed the atmosphere once more. A quick sound check, a stool, his recognizable acoustic guitar and one mic at disposal, Evan Introduced Into It. Over It. To his audience.
  As mentioned above with his albums all compositions produced are inspired by the theme of life. Portrayed live- this theme; the experiences that have provoked the inspiration to create such lyrics and melodies are then conveyed back to the audience within reasons as to how and why the tracks were made.
  In a unique insight to the musicians’ catalogue, Evan opens up throughout his set with an explanation to his material. Each track has a story and that story was told. The audience settled around the stage, some sat, some standing, in a very welcoming admiration. Fixated with the musician connecting and holding the room on his own.
 
His set prized from tracks taken from the split with his best friend and co-headliner Koji, tracks taken from 52 weeks, new tracks from the forthcoming album release, compilations and more.

Pilsen; taken from the IIOI/KOJI split, whilst recorded the track is conveyed as a voluminous arrangement from the singer songwriter, filled with deep hooks in relation to the deep sentiment within the sound. The story behind the track was told- Based on an avid cyclist within the front man, who unluckily had his bike stolen. Just to find the thieves later advertising his possession on Craigslist. By chance, Evan who showed up at the thief’s door accompanied with a group of friends took back what was rightfully his. Dedicated to all the bike riders stood aside Evan managed to keep the depth the track carries from his transition from recorded to both live and acoustic. Maintaining a track which didn’t lack in comparison to the sound found on the split.

Despite being under the weather for his debut Evan made it clear “I’ve not come all the way over here to be conquered by a cold”, he courageously continued showing no signs of weakness as he delved further into his performance. 
 A polite request from Evan to the room for him to introduce material from his outfit Stay Ahead Of The Weather, with a clear approval to the deliverance, Evan then digressed with more exposure to the split by played featured track  Humboldt. As the short track rapidly veered to the finale, reciting the lyric “Meet Me At The Backdoor”, a track about going to the wrong home- that of someone cute. A collective of ‘ahhhs’, raised from supporters some distance from the stage; surrounded and wrapped the final lyrics to the song.   
  

Oli Montez

 Connecting with the crowd continuously, be it with questions or just the sheer audacity Into It.Over It. Carried, at no point did interest disconnect from the figure in front of our eyes. With an intimate crowd size, it was those there that truly had the best experience. Almost a one on one interaction with the icon. The atmosphere that had been created for the crowd, it felt like you were the only ones hearing the stories behind the tracks for the very first time; honoured to be let in. Devoting your concentration to someone you’ve just met trusting their own narrative, their feelings and history to complete strangers. However for the most part, these strangers attended to be a part of the passion these musicians posses due to their own affection.

After being called a “Jock Douchebag” by a girl in Portland, much to Evan’s disgust, the next track that was played was Portland, Or. Two minutes of conscientious and forward lyrics about criticising those you don’t know. A track straight to the point, manifesting feeling from his vocal amplitude. Following this a live exclusive for the room as Into It. Over It’s new single Proper, the title track of his forthcoming album release, was presented and received with gratitude of the newer material. As escalating vocals, sharp melodic pitches  driving guitar and a catchy chorus. Lyrically proving a more mature release.

Augusta, which was written after experiencing a real life Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Moment, and 22 Syllables followed the sets flow, both recognisable tracks were performed live with attentive detail to the harmonious tonality. 


Oli Montez



 Into It. Over It’s set took a more serious and emotional direction when Evan approached the subject of Loss. Something we’ve all experienced. Something people struggle to accept. Dedicating a part of his set to a lifelong friend.  Following the news of Mitch Dubey’s untimely and unfair departure, Weiss struggled to relate to anyone about what had happened and felt utterly useless. A feeling we all end up carrying when we receive shocking news. Connecticut Steps resonates in emotion, written about his feeling of uselessness for a man he added “was truly the best guy”, the track is simply touching. Soft, hazy and quietly captivating. His heartache made present, exposing bereavement, it was his single which stood strong. His dedication and ability to reach out about this tragedy shows a tenacious individual.       

 Following the tear inducing hair raising track, Weiss’ night finished with a beautiful rendition of single Anchor.
 
Oli Montez

Evan proves a stunning voice, acoustic guitar, creativity, character, passion and love for music can captivate all. A set lacking nothing despite being just one man and one dominant sound.


After such a rich yet tender performance it was time for the evening to be shared with artist, and co-headliner Koji. 

Oli Montez


 Andrew “Koji” Shiraki is an American Artist/Musician/ Activist from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. An incredible person who will leave such a lasting impression through his performance, his mannerisms and his inspirational words.
 Returning back to Le Pub, Newport, after a few short months and bringing his best friend with him too. Koji quickly set up, scaled the room for requests, approaching his audience and socialising with them- something that seems so rare by musicians and in-fact people nowadays. Opening yourself to introduce to others. That alone, before he had even began his set, was duly perceived as a prominent attribute from the artist.

A powerful figure with an acclaimed array of releases, collaborations and like Into It. Over It, an incredible past and fearless passion. Koji’s accomplishments with his pure love from music date back further than noted. But his first release was through his 2004 EP Koji on the Roof. The next year saw the release of his second EP Ocean. In 2007 whilst collaborating with Safari So Good the two acts released their Smashing Pumpkins split CD. Productively and respectfully in the same year, Koji had two more releases- Koji Sings Little Bird released as a 7″ and Monsters a third EP from the talent. As the singers passion grew, his songwriting advanced. Towards the end of 2008 a split 7″ release with Raise Up Roof Beans Lemons/Dinosaur. A break with these consistent releases and to fans what may have seemed forever since the next- it wasn’t until 2010 when Koji introduced new material following The Seaside Sessions, Spring Song Vol 1  Live fourth EP release out on Run For Cover Records, Koji Some Small Way a fifth EP installment also released by Run For Cover leading up to the November split release with IIOI, the reason behind the evenings UK appearance. And finally in the spring of this year Never Come Undone his latest achievement appearing on the split 12″ with La Dispute. 

Again as before, Koji finely picked through his substantial back catalogue to seize his set list, including requests, to share to his public.  Showcasing a plentiful collection within his extensive catalogue, performing emotional tracks throughout all of which short, sweet and straight to the lyrical point. 
Standing to no guidelines within his time, Koji explains the reasoning behind some of the inspiration to his creativity. He explains his pure love for his music and music in general, he makes us aware that music has provided an ability to have freedom. This love is clear for us all to see and believe alongside him. Within his deep love of music, Koji’s aim is to connect and seek positive change. A giving figure. Signed to Run For Cover Records his set comprises of a selection of tracks from his 2010 split IIOI/KOJI, material released this year and more dated yet still timeless material.

Most of Everything, taken from the split begins with a soft plucking of the acoustic strings, combined with a gradual build up of intensity. The track contains stabbing lyrics, such sharp lyric which is made present can be found in repeated words “Like Seeing my face for the very first time”. A personal track which when reflected live grasps its personal attributes. Holding his charming vocals and maintaining the melody throughout. Koji’s vocal range, clear from the beginning of his performance, is not only easy listening but enjoyable. His melodic ability combined with the overall tendency to intricate deep slower emotional tracks with kick, draws all in. 


All Below provides a deeper and meaningful approach, echoing in harmony with a soothing deliverance of the verse. Its the finale to this track which is portrayed with that deep twist, as the lyrics get heavier in meaning, the sound becomes harder.
 

Half way through the set when talking about the early days of his relationship with Evan; Evan reciprocates the conversation and to the crowds appreciative understanding we each get to learn about this remarkable force of friendship these two musicians hold with each other. Another gesture on their behalf of inviting each attendee into their world. Seeing two individuals fight the boundaries people posses to keep themselves to themselves, through their abilities to share their feelings and wisdom, the crowd got a somewhat exclusive increment and a feeling of contentment. A wonderful story being told of how two people have met and grown together. 


His set digressed, stopping and starting to build up his connection with the audience. The stories continued and his beliefs were made present.

Koji believes in his audience’s capabilities and achievements as individuals. This was then told to the audience as he really bonded with the strangers crowding him. Hearing such positive, comforting and very honest words of belief is both warming and inspiring. 
  Recognisable tracks also gripped the set, such as Shift, the more upbeat release found on the IIOI/KOJI split which is defined with his questioning lyrics of both having a memory and missing someone, two things that surprisingly don’t go hand in hand. And Eating Lemons taken from his 2010 EP release on Run for Cover contains a powerful rhythm and riffs throughout, this strong track captured the crowd with its fierce build up, intelligent lyrics then its quick unsuspecting finish.
A man also dealing with loss, Koji turns to the power of music as a medicine to his feelings and as a beautiful mark of respect for the memory he shares. A touching attribute, as with IIOI who embraced the subject and shared the similar empathy with his friend mid set when talking about his loss; Koji did the same. Revealing a tragedy for another incredibly touching and trying to those so freshly able to relate, but a worthwhile tangent within his set. 
 The track Biomusicology taken from his spring release with La Dispute incorporated this tragic news but for the artist, it offered hope. Biomusicology is an emotional track aimed to be embraced not only by Koji but by everyone listening to it. Following the news of Koji’s loss, this single was to be sang and with it he not only wanted to share the composition with the audience, but he wanted the audience to share the emotion with him. Exposing the individuals who were amongst the crowd and singling their abilities to withstand holding back, Koji explained the sentimental last words to his verse shouldn’t be sang alone, after getting several friends to attend the recording of the track to be involved too. Miraculously after several attempts beforehand, Koji chanted the lyrics and boldly involved his audience to sing them with him. After explaining the reasoning to the emotional track, those stood in his presence embraced his request and sang along. The haunting lyrics -“All in all we cannot stop singing, we cannot start sinking. We swim until it ends. They may kill and we may be parted. But we will never be broken hearted.”- seized the room and captured the atmosphere for a beautiful open engagement.
Oli Montez

The two men together, can hold their audience. They are an inspirational force. As Koji stepped to the stage he enlightened us to how we were lucky to all be there, and how unlucky those that weren’t, were missing out on such experience. And this was true, the intimacy of the event added to how special the night was. A thought provoking experience and an absolute pleasure to meet such talented and creative motivated musicians each with a genuine passion, drive and love for what they do.  
 Leaving the venue, the artists and the evening behind; incredibly we left with a deeper sense of awareness for ourselves. Something you would struggle to get out of other live performances; leaving with assertive faith of who you are, due to believing words from a believing and passionate individual. 

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That night Evan heard the news that he will be back over to the UK in November. We will revisit IIOI when that time comes. Circuit Sweet will also be interviewing Evan about his recent UK tour in due course, make sure you keep checking back for that exclusive feature.

You can find this review streaming over at altsounds here- http://hangout.altsounds.com/reviews/134950-koji-le-pub-newport-live.html

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