Ow, my knee hurts. Having trouble walking. Hyperextending it a bit in Kung Fu on Saturday and then bouncing on it at a Presets/Rapture show was not a good idea. Oops!
Anyway, the Presets rock. They're a two man band -- the singer on synthesizers, and the non-singer mainly on drums but also alternating with synthesizers. They made no secret of their influences, using samples and sounds from the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, etc. The singer sounded a bit like the dude from Dead Or Alive while channeling some Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters in stage presence. Well, and he was clothed, so that was a little different. They were perfect to get the crowd going.
Next up was the headliner -- The Rapture. They too are a fun dance music band, but they did not rely on synthesizers nearly as much. For me, they mainly channeled Gang of Four. All in all, a good time. The crowd up front loved it.
I'm psyched I went to Taco Bell around the corner before the show. I'm going to Puerto Rico in a few days where I'll be wearing a bikini while lying on a beach, revealing my white belly for the world to see, and I'm still eating Taco Bell. What the hell is wrong with me?
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Ow, my knee hurts. Having trouble walking. Hyperextending it a bit in Kung Fu on Saturday and then bouncing on it at a Presets/Rapture show was not a good idea. Oops!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Last night headed to the Lower East Side to The Delancey to catch kung fu classmate John's band aka The John Sid Band. I hadn't seen John, Corey (on drums) and Matt (on bass) since May, so it was nice to catch up with them finally. They played a set of songs I hadn't heard previously, focusing on a harder rock sound that reminded me of Soundgarden, Alice in Chains -- basically a heavier edge. Check it out!
More chi, John!
Monday, October 23, 2006
So the kids like the Kooks. I don't know how but I ended up front center amongst the young'uns, and now my shoulders are all sore. I went for the hype -- $13 was not a big amount to dish, and I was entertained. They whipped through a dozen or so songs in 45 minutes, the crowd surged back and forth, and I was happy to hop in a cab by 10:30pm afterwards. I guess the kids had to make curfew or something. The Kooks had loads of chi -- but one would hope so for a band whose ages averaged 20 years. Lordy, I felt old!
Anyway, here are the goods:
Notice how Max the bassist and Hugh the lead guitarist wear CBGB shirts. I wonder if they stopped by the souvenir shop before heading down Bowery. It's as if they wanted to say, "Why, yes, we are rock 'n roll."
The opener, Small Sins, was a bit disappointing. I listened a few of their tunes on their website and thought they'd sound more like Postal Service, but they ended up sounding quite pedestrian. I did like their guitarist's belt buckle, however:
Good night, everybody!!!
Nice, I got linked on Brooklyn Vegan.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Last night returned to the Loew's Theater in Jersey City (the first time being for Yo La Tengo less than a month ago). This time met up with Shana and Andrea, and it was particularly exciting. Why? Cos my ticket karma resulted in three front row seats in the orchestra! Yeah, baby!
We heard the opening chords of "Loser" and got up on our feet. The band wasn't on stage yet, however. There was a mini stage set up at the rear of the actual stage, with marionette puppets that looked like each member of the band, down to the exact outfits. Kinda hokey, but fun in that "Being John Malkovich" kind of way. They projected what the puppets were mimicking onto a large screen at the rear of the main stage so that the audience far back had something to see, I guess. Okay, that's enough about the puppets.
Beck was particularly efficient, taking little time in between songs, and diving one song into the next. He focused on the new album, The Information, but pulled out a few from the catalogue, including a favorite of mine, "Tropicalia" from the underappreciated Mutations:
The band got us on our feet dancing and the music was good, but I don't think it really grabbed us until what I call the salad interlude. A table with food and serving implements was set up on stage, and the band sat and had a bite while Beck played solo next to them on acoustic guitar. We were so close that Shana commented she could smell the salad! Beck took us through a few tunes, including a beautiful version of "Debra":
He next played "Golden Age" from Sea Change and then dove into "Clap Hands" from the new album. At that point the crew was done with their meal, so they joined in the song, creating percussion using the plates, glasses, silverware and other items on the table. Brilliant!
Beck really put an effort into making the show more than a mere performance. With the puppets and the Stomp-esque musical interlude, that would have been plenty. While the band took a break off stage, they played a short clip on the screen of the Puppets running around Jersey City. Hysterical. And, after the intermission, we got two bears running around stage singing "1000 BPM"!
For the encore Beck pulled the old favorite "Where It's At" which got the crowd back on its feet. Then for the last song, the puppet broke free of the mini stage and joined their counterparts.
Aside from the fact that we sat front row(!), I have to say, Beck puts on a mighty fun show, his Scientologist leanings notwithstanding. I will sit front row for him any old time!
PS -- The one bad thing about front row was that one of Beck's stage people was a total Nazi about photos, even hassling some guy for taking cell phone pics. So I consider it a great victory that I was able to shoot anything, especially the videos of the songs with assistance from Shana who leaned forward. :-)
Monday, October 16, 2006
(Sorry in advance if this entry is a little all over the place...I am still reeling from the experience...so many thoughts/emotions...impossible to get them all down...and I'm still sick, dammit!)
I got a bad head cold Thursday night. Friday and Saturday were a blur. I even had to postpone my kung fu testing. I had to miss my friend John's Band Saturday night. But I was damned if I was gonna miss the LAST. SHOW. EVER. at the world famous CBGB's. Granted, it is a shitty venue, blah blah blah, but what made me determined to be there was la Grande Dame herself, Patti Smith, would be performing. After all, she is the raison-d'etre for this Gigoblog. She is my Entry Numero Uno. So leading up to Sunday night, I downed a steady diet of Theraflu, chicken soup, green tea, hot water with lemon, ginger and honey, and a box of dark chocolate Raisinets (and those were damn good).
The line wrapped around the block. Wawa and I got into line shortly before 8pm, and we didn't set foot in the club until about 9:35. We did get our obligatory David Fricke sighting, however, as Fricke made his way past us to get in line. By the time we got in, the place was already packed to the gills (who knows how the people behind us fit in!). We were annoyed to hear Patti already playing, but luckily she was only about a song or two deep into the more acoustic/spoken portion of the evening.
Because Wawa was hurting from the Atlantic City/Wedding weekend extravaganza, I left him behind to hang with Little Stevie Van Zandt a/k/a Silvio Dante, while I wove my way forward. Now, I dunno if you've ever been to the shithole that was CBGB. It is long and narrow, and not conducive to maneuvering. I dunno if I had a head cold, or if I was just sick in the head, but I was gonna see Patti, dammit, and not be stuck with the talkers in the back. As people constantly shifted in the crowd, I managed to roll my way all the way front within five feet of the stage. Sweet!
The opening acoustic portion definitely felt lower energy. People were restless and still figuring out positioning, so people were cranky and talked over the music. Patti and her usual crew -- Lenny Kaye on guitar, Jay Dee Daugherty on drums, and Tony Shanahan -- played an unusual mix of songs, some of Patti's, and several covers of bands that have graced CB's stage in the past, including "Marquee Moon" (with Richard Lloyd of Television), "Pale Blue Eyes," and "The Tide is High." And, as I predicted, Flea joined the band on bass.
After a 20 minute break, the band came back on stage and they picked up the beat. They opened up with the dub beat of "Redondo Beach" and dipped heavily into Horses for the remainder of the evening. I particularly was thrilled by "Free Money" (and maybe I don't know how to use YouTube correctly yet, but it turned the resolution of my video to shit):
They did a rousing version of "Horses" with a few "Hey, Ho, Let's go!"s mixed in with G-L-O-R-I-A! Glorrrrrrriiaaaaa!
Patti was loose and funny, alternating between telling tons of anecdotes and tearing up the stage. Numerous times she had to put on glasses to read papers with lyrics she didn't know, sometimes even for her own stuff. How meta (is that the word I want?) it was seeing her read a book of her own words with a picture of her younger self on the cover. I gotta say it again -- for someone who's nearly sixty, she's got the chi. She's got more chi than most people I know. I cannot begin to explain how deeply I am in awe of her.
I guess because this was a tribute to the great history of CBGB, Patti Smith and her crew not only shredded their songs but kicked it up for the other great bands of rock 'n roll. They knocked out "Gimme Shelter" by the Stones, did a Ramones medley while Patti took a bathroom break (yes, she announced that and I hope Sirius satellite radio picked that up), and what's become a standard for them now, the Who's "My Generation" (again, apologies for the shitty resolution):
At midnight, we sang Happy Birthday to Flea! :)
To end the night, perhaps most appropriately, the band closed with "Elegie" from Horses, during which Patti read a list of those who had passed. I dunno if it was the names that she was reading, or the fact that CB's was shutting down, or a little bit of both, but she teared up, that strong, tough woman warrior:
The night was long and uneven. Maybe people were hoping for a little more surprise guest fanfare. I was squashed amongst more people than I would normally care for (including this one ape who insisted on pogoing with his elbow inches from my head), but the night was magic, man! It was so magic, that for the 3-1/2 hours I was in CBGB, I didn't have to blow my nose once. My head, my body fed off of the energy of Patti, the crowd, the nostalgia, the history of it all. So fuckin' happy I went. Especially cos I got this awesome shot of a smiling, happy Patti, so unlike the scowling punk goddess we typically see:
Nice, I got linked on Product Shop!
Friday, October 13, 2006
Went the other night with Wawa to catch Badly Drawn Boy at the Hiro Ballroom, a very cool funky space for gigs. The only other time I had been there was for Gomez earlier this year. This time there were no seats, but it was okay, cos I was able to park myself on the speakers on the side of the stage for a perfect view.
I fell in love with BDB's debut album, The Hour of Bewilderbeast, something I picked up while in agony studying for the Bar Exam. It resonated with me then, and I still listen to it on occasion. I was excited for Damon Gough when he landed the soundtrack to "About A Boy." But then, inexplicably, I lost touch with the music of BDB. I dunno why.
So when the opportunity came to see Damon & Co. at such a great venue, I jumped at it. I realized that I wouldn't know most of the songs, other than the ones from Bewilderbeast etched in my mind. So I went in with little expectation, other than Wawa's warning that we could be in for a marathon here.
Damon has a curious stage persona. It could be him all the time 24/7, but who knows. He's quite churlish (there's a vocab word for you, Bharat!), exclaiming that he's the best singersongwriter to have come out of England. He wears a dumb knit cap. He bashed on Coldplay, Bono, James Blunt. He acted a little annoyed if we didn't whoop it up enough for him.
But then there were the hilarious moments -- he made no secret of his affinity for Bruce Springsteen, wearing a t-shirt that said "Born to Run" and playing a rousing a capella/acoustic version of "Thunder Road" and bits of "Prove It All Night." He also dabbled in a bit of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" and Madonna's "Like A Virgin." As Wawa commented, "he basically made a mockery of [Wawa's] entire iPod."
When BDB played his own material, there were brilliant moments. He rocked out with a full band for most songs, and included an acoustic interlude. He also grabbed the mic sans guitar and danced with a girl in the audience. He played the keyboard. He dabbled on the xylophone right in front of me.
He played for less than 2 hours, making all of us quite happy. I'm getting old, ya know! Anyway, despite only knowing a handful of songs, I was delighted to see him, finally.
These great pics are courtesy of my new camera, a Canon SD700. Thanks to my dear bro for giving his sis such a nice birthday present.
Also ran into Matt of the Music Slut, who gave his cute review here.
Added 10/15: Here's a partial clip I took of BDB covering "Thunder Road":
And here's a clip of BDB singing "Everybody's Stalking":
Sunday, October 8, 2006
Tonight met up with Ste, Lora and Wawa to catch a Conversation with Music with PJ Harvey as part of the annual New Yorker Festival. During the hour or so of conversation, we saw a quiet woman rather different from her usual stage persona. Polly Jean admitted to being shy, admiring Bjork and running into Tricky all the time in the most random places like at the supermarket over cabbages. It all felt very Inside the Actors' Studio-ish, except instead of James Lipton, we had Hilton Als. It was nice to see this subdued side of PJH, but the crowd became more attentive once dear old Hilton left the stage so Polly could knock us out with her music.
For about the next 35 minutes, she took turns on different instruments, leading us through a handful songs, including "Water" and "The Desperate Kingdom of Love". She told us how she recently learned how to play the piano properly and debuted a new song for her next album, which promises to be piano heavy. To close out the short set, she ended with the classic "Rid of Me." Hotttt!!!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- PJ Harvey is definitely a woman I'd go to the other side for. But we all agreed -- she was a lot hotter performing her music than sitting in a chair just talking...
Nice -- I got randomly linked on 10/10 by Product Shop.
Sunday, October 1, 2006
So last week, Ste came over for dinner and his cell phone ringer went off -- "Mr. Tough" by Yo La Tengo -- a song that he loaded up on his phone himself ("adorably nerdy" is what Indie Twin Dave termed it). We talked about Stereogum's contest and how fun it'd be if either of us won. The very next day, I got an email that I was one of the two lucky winners. Basically, each winner and a guest would be flown via helicopter from East 34th Street on the East River to Jersey City, then driven to a bar by the venue for some pre-show drinks, and granted tickets to the Yo La Tengo show. As soon as I found out I won, I called up Ste and told him to keep Friday the 29th free. Now who's the coolest sister?
We contemplated telling our parents about our thrilling plans, but decided against it. I mean, they worry enough about us as it is -- did they really need to hear that their two only children would be riding a helicopter together around lower Manhattan? Nahhhhh...
Friday couldn't come sooner. We met up at the heliport at East 34th Street with the other prize winner and his guest, Adam from Matador Records and Scott from Stereogum. The six of us piled into the helicopter with our pilot and headed off into the evening sky:
We flew down the East River above the bridges and past lower Manhattan. It wasn't easy taking good shots because the helicopter was so shaky, but here are pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty:
We swung back towards lower Manhattan for an amazing view of the island, and Ste gave the finger to his office building. Then, the pilot advised us to hold on, and suddenly dropped the helicopter into a dive. I doubt that was really necessary, but suppose he had to create a little fun for himself in our short 10 minute ride. We landed safely in Jersey City just north of the Colgate clock, happy that we did not die!
After grabbing a drink at a dive bar nearby, we headed to the venue, the beautiful historic Loew's Theater.
We were given some nice 10th row center orchestra seats, and for almost two hours, we were treated to an amazing set by our heroes, Yo La Tengo.
YLT is such a sonically diverse band. They are three musicians who demonstrate their versatility in vocals, instrumentation, emotion and tone with each song. They are not glamorous rock stars, but appear to be people who truly enjoy playing music for music's sake. From Ira's falsetto to his punk scowling, to James' hammering bass and acoustic strumming, and Georgia's attack on the drums and gentle harmonizing, Yo La Tengo took us all over the place, playing many songs from their latest effort, "I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass" as well as a good number of classics, including the opener "Sugarcube." There were moments when James' bass line and Ira's guitar solos assaulted us so hard that I could feel the hair in my nostrils moving. I particularly enjoyed the beautiful "I Feel Like Going Home" with Georgia on lead vocals and piano, and "Stockholm Syndrome" featuring James sounding Neil Young-esque. (But no "Autumn Sweater" or "Little Eyes".)
After the show ended, Ste and I met up with Adam and Scott and also Amrit from Stereogum (and Village Indian -- I was in music blog heaven!) and hung around the lobby of the Loew's for some beer and talk. Happily, we got talk to Ira, James and Georgia, who were the nicest people, and Ste and I got be the dorky fans who asked for autographs:
My worst dorky fan moment probably occurred when I handed Ira some of the pics I took of them at their concert this summer at Prospect Park. It paid off tho -- Ira shared some of his cookies that a friend baked for the band -- they were sugar cookies with the word Ass on them. Ira Kaplan gave me an Ass Cookie! Awesome!
And by the time we left Jersey City to head back home (via PATH, not chopper), it was well after 1 am. What a great way to start off my birthday!
PS -- We're on Stereogum now too!
PPS -- And on the Matablog, too!