Truth be told, I’m pretty much over Bandcamp Friday. Like most good things, it’s slowly but surely devolved into a blatant cash grab, with people shoving anything and everything they can onto the site — previously released LPs, acetates, cassettes, shirts, pins, hats, books, podcasts, hot sauces, you name it — to try to squeeze a few bucks out of fans. Thankfully, despite the rampant enshittification, there are still some artists who use the occasion to unveil something new and enticing — like these excellent live albums. Let’s get the show on the road:
Francis Comes Alive
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Francis Comes Alive is the first official live recording from acclaimed musician Neal Francis. Recorded live at a sold-out show at Chicago’s Thalia Hall, Francis Comes Alive is an electric body of work. Francis expanded his normal quartet into an eleven-piece freight train of a band featuring a horn section, percussion, backup vocalists, and keyboards. Ever the analog purist, the album was recorded direct to 1″ tape, mixed by Chris Connors (Bartees Strange, Lady Wray, El Michels Affair), and mastered by JJ Golden. Francis and co. tear through 12 original songs, drawing from his debut album Changes and his sophomore album In Plain Sight. There are no edits, nor overdubs — this is Francis at his best. A full concert film directed by Alec Basse will follow later this year.”
The End: Live At Islington Assembly Hall
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Kristin Hayter bids farewell to her Lingua Ignota project with this harrowing hour-long set solely on piano in front of a sold out crowd in London, U.K. The song selection ranges from her earliest works to her final releases under the project, with the vast majority being reimagined for the piano, resulting in an intimate and sometimes uncomfortable hour of music.” For something even more unsettling, I urge you to check out her new album Saved!, which she released under the name Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter.
The Hold Steady
Live in Portland 4-29-23
It wouldn’t be a Bandcamp Friday without at least one new live album from Craig Finn and co. This time they’re serving up a typically epic performance from earlier this year in Portland. As always, it’s a pay-what-you-can release. Because they’re awesome.
Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express
Live In Paris
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express’s first proper live album was originally available on CD at the merch table on their 2023 EU tour. Like the cover says, it was recorded on the band’s Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins tour in Paris, France and the band is on fire.”