Saturday, December 15, 2007

GZA @Knitting Factory, Dec. 14th

After the crap time I caught the Wu-Tang Clan at Randall's Island this past summer, I was eagerly anticipating tonight's show which promised the GZA/Genius and his seminal album, Liquid Swords. Accompanied by my kung fu brother Randy, founder and president of, we braved the packed crowd with young'uns as wee as fourteen (where the hell were his parents, I want to know). The crowd sang along as GZA dropped a seamless mix pulling from Liquid Swords as well as the Wu catalog and a tribute to ODB with Dreddy Kruger helping out.

As he stated in "Auto Bio," GZA "was born, with the mic in [his] hand" and for a solid hour, he demonstrated rather amazing verbal prowess. They don't call him Genius for nothing.

Check out this fun clip featuring GZA done by 88HipHop that Randy sent me here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Yo La Tengo @Music Hall of Williamsburg, Nov. 16th

Friday night after a fun, greasy barbecue meal at Fette Sau, Ste, Lora and I headed to the Music Hall of Williamsburg for Jersey's finest indie rock band, Yo La Tengo. This was my first visit to the venue formerly known as North Six; I quite liked the setup, which is akin to the Bowery Ballroom, except with more balcony space, and raised areas on the side, and nice bathrooms according to Ste.

When we got there, we happily discovered that the main floor was set up with rows of seats, so we plopped ourselves down in the center of the 3rd row. We sat through a sleepy opening set by this nervous trio called Metal Mountain (it could have been the barbecue-itis kicking in). Then, promptly at 10, our heroes got on stage for a lovely two hour acoustic set. The band played a loose set of songs from throughout their career, taking time to answer questions and tell stories.

While I love how much YLT can blow my eardrums to pieces, I enjoyed this gig immensely. It felt like a nice mix between the time I caught them at Prospect Park, and the time Ste and I were helicoptered into Jersey City to see them at the Loew's Theater. And despite it being mainly acoustic, Ira Kaplan, guitarist extraordinaire, still managed to use a distort pedal and rock out.


Here are a bunch of songs I videoed on my camera -- sorry about the guy's head sitting right in front of me!

"Deeper Into Movies"

"Tom Courtenay"

"Blue Line Swinger"

(And "The Summer," "Hanky Panky Nohow," "You Can Have It All," and "Big Day Coming.")

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Luis Guzman, I hardly knew ye!

I love Luis Guzman, but seriously, man, WTF?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Patti Smith / The Black Crowes @United Palace, Oct. 31st

Last night for Halloween went up to Washington Heights to catch Patti Smith and the Black Crowes. This was my second schlep up to the funky venue up north -- last time was for Arcade Fire back in May.

I always look forward to seeing Patti. This time she was an opener, so she did not play a long marathon set, like when I caught her at the final night at CBGB. Instead, she and bandmates played a nice set with some cuts off her recent release, Twelve, including a growly cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and closing with her seminal hit, "Gloria." Here's her song, "Beneath the Southern Cross":

The Black Crowes are a band I have always enjoyed seeing live. I may not own their records, nor do I know more than their biggest hits, but every time I have seen them, I have appreciated their amazing energy and ability to get a crowd on its feet, as well as their constantly shifting setlists. Perhaps the Crowes are the closest to a jam band I'll ever get -- I will always be game for their brand of rock 'n roll.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Morrissey @Hammerstein Ballroom, Oct. 23rd

I had to go again after last night's amazing opening show. This time I was on the floor for only $25. Ask me in the morning if my knee hates me, but tonight was worth it as well. We got a more energetic crowd, and "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want," "The Boy With a Thorn in His Side" and a cover of the New York Dolls' "Human Being."

Here are the three final songs of the main set:


A gorgeous "Dear God Please Help Me" from his most recent album, Ringleader of the Tormentors:

And the classic "How Soon Is Now?":

And the now obligatory shirtless shot. Hottt...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Morrissey @Hammerstein Ballroom, Oct. 22nd

Due to my busted knee, I had to settle for a view from the Mezzanine, but it was well worth the wait for dear ol' Moz. He pulled out lots of oldies including two which really stuck with me: "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself" from Vauxhall and I and "Death of a Disco Dancer" from The Smiths' Strangeways, Here We Come.

Here's "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me":

And "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell":

All is forgiven. You're still the one for me, Fatty!

See you Sunday Tuesday!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stars @Town Hall, Oct. 18th

Perhaps fitting that they played only steps from Broadway, tonight the mighty little Canadian band Stars entertained the crowd at Town Hall with their lyrically-detailed and melodrama-packed songs full of beat and perfect melody. The adorably nerdy Torquil Campbell and guitar-shredding Amy Millan traded off singing duties as they led us through a setlist full of favorites from their previous album, Set Yourself on Fire (a Qbertplaya all-time favorite), and their latest release, In Our Bedroom After the War. They even found time to play "Elevator Love Letter" and "Look Up" from their debut, Heart.

(The encore consisted of the following four songs: "The Night Starts Here," "My Favorite Book," "Ageless Beauty" and "Calendar Girl.")

This was my fourth time seeing Stars, the last time being in February 2006. While I do listen to them on my iPod all the time, sneaking into the front row and catching them tonight really reminded me why I find their music irresistible. As Torq perched on the edge of the stage and sang his heart out to the audience, his shirt drenched with sweat, and eventually jumping down and practically assaulting a fan (in a fun way), he displayed a bravado that suggested we were indeed witnessing some kind of a theatrical event.

I only caught a wee bit of the opener, New Buffalo, with whom I had zero familiarity. Pretty voice. New Buffalo aka Sally Seltmann seemed to be in need of a band, although she did have another female on backup vocals for a while, and Jens Lenkman out for a duet, which was kinda neat...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mommy, this scares me!

Disney's "Finding Nemo" on ice:

I am disturbed.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Blue Man Group @Astor Place Theatre, Sept. 29th

The day started literally with a bang, as I managed to blow out my knee doing a sweep kick in kung fu class earlier that afternoon. Owie. I hope this will not keep me away from gigging too long!

Unfortunate as the patellar trauma was, I was determined not to dwell upon it for too long, as it was my birthday weekend. As part of my superduper present, Bestest Boy surprised me by taking me to see Blue Man Group, a New York institution I had never caught before. While not a gig in the traditional sense, the show featured an eclectic blend of visual and aural stimulation that was interesting, challenging, bizarre and oftentimes, hysterical. The Blue Men found innovative ways to create music, with a focus on percussion, and a backup band providing elements of rock and dance through drums, electric guitar and keyboard. It also explored themes involving technology, science, society and art, among other things. A really amusing skit involved instruction on how to be a rock star.

I had a blast seeing the stolid, blue trio, and the show (and my company) proved to be a nice analgesic to the day's earlier knee-jolting experience.

The LED display at the beginning of the show wished me well -- "HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVEN" it said...oops!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Rilo Kiley @Webster Hall, Sept. 22nd-23rd

(Sorry this post is long overdue, but my life has been crazy-busy for the past month or so. Mostly awesome, if you're keeping tabs. And I don't even have the excuse of seeing too many gigs, as these two shows were my only concerts for the month of September. Hard to believe? Qbertplaya may be heading down a new path...)

I heart Blake Sennett; I am madly in love with Jenny Lewis. So it was a no-brainer for me to scoop up tix to see Rilo Kiley two nights in a row at the dreaded Webster Hall. While I am still deciding whether I love their latest cd, seeing them live cemented why I cannot get enough of these cutie pies. They played a perfect mix of songs from all their albums. And they've always exhibited a good sense of professionalism and playfulness that make you feel like you're really part of something dear.

Rilo Kiley holds a special place in my heart. I normally don't bother seeing a band so many times, especially during a single tour, but these two shows marked my 6th and 7th times seeing them in the last few years. So friggin' CUTE!!!

Anyway, here are the long overdue videos:

1. "Portions for Foxes" (9/22):

2. "Breakin' Up" (9/22):

3. "Ripchord" (9/22):

4. "With Arms Outstretched" (9/23):

5. "Greetings in Braille" (The Elected cover) (9/23):

God, I love Rilo Kiley!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Revenge of the Book Eaters @Beacon Theatre, Aug. 26th

What a great lineup -- A.C. Newman of The New Pornographers, recent tourmates Grizzly Bear and Feist, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene, and Britt Daniel of Spoon, with affable host Demetri Martin, and guests Sarah Vowell, Leo Allen and Eugene Mirman. This year's show benefiting 826NYC was much more music-oriented and therefore more enjoyable than last year's benefit show.

To sum it up, A.C. Newman is good, but can't replace Neko Case on "Challengers." Grizzly Bear again wowed me with their haunting harmonies -- I must buy their album. Jim James blew me and the rest of the crowd away.
Feist not only read beautifully, but sang beautifully ("The Water"). It was strange but cool hearing BSS's "Superconnected" performed with only two members (and Kevin Drew is kinda douche-y, thanking the crowd several times before we even started applauding). And Britt Daniel is such a wonderful crooner.

Here's Britt singing "Black Like Me" from Spoon's latest album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga:

With all this indie rock goodness, you'd think they would have taken advantage of more collaborations, but alas, not really. Feist sang on a Grizzly Bear song, and A.C. joined Britt for a cover of an Alex Chilton song, "Hey! Little Child":

Good times for a good cause.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wolf Parade @Warsaw, Aug. 19th

Earlier this summer, Julie1 had mentioned her interest in catching Wolf Parade, and when tickets re-appeared on Ticketbastard on Friday, I thought sure, why not? Um, $11.05 in service fees for a $20.00 ticket, that's why not!

Anyway, I figured at least I'll only drop $5.00 on dinner. Can't really beat the Warsaw Special with those yummy pickles and help yourself condiments including applesauce and sour cream! It certainly made my last visit to Warsaw for Wilco awesome.

We positioned ourselves decently close and center just before Wolf Parade was to hit the stage. Everything pretty much went downhill from there.
For someone who had little expectations about this show going in, I walked away surprisingly disappointed. Didn't even stay for the encore.

While on their album, Apologies to the Queen Mary, they may have shown promise, their live performance suffered from a lack of cohesiveness. Perhaps it was the new material that slowed them down. Or their audio setup difficulties. I found myself searching the whole time for any little moment to latch onto, and really nothing grabbed me.

As Wolf Parade traded off between their two lead singers, it resulted in a disjointed feeling, as though they were attempting multiple types of sounds. Like we were at a high school battle of the bands, and they were on stage going, okay, okay, what can we play next....okay, let's do this one! and then they'd play a song, and go, okay, it's your turn! It felt very slapped together and thoughtless.

The band also had very little stage presence and connection with the audience. Julie1 thought for a fledgling band with only one full (albeit good) album, they didn't do a very good job of playing to the crowd. The only consistency I observed was the identical Yeahhh! this annoying woman would yell behind me at the conclusion of every song. The only glimpse of their greatness as a live band I got was when they played "I'll Believe in Anything" which got the crowd going, but then the following song killed any momentum they might have had.

Oh well. I was not very impressed at all.

Dan Boeckner, doing his best Steve Buscemi imitation

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists @McCarren Pool, Aug. 12th

Sunday marked the first time ever I made it to one of the free Sunday pool parties at McCarren Park in Brooklyn, and the weather was perfectly sunny and warm for my debut. After checking out people flop around on the slip 'n' slide and grabbing some gratis beers courtesy of The Music Slut while Birds of Avalon played in the background, Julie1 and I headed pretty easily to the front of the crowd for a band I had been dying to check out for years now, The Thermals.

I have had their music on all three of my iPods -- and whenever I have my iPod in shuffle mode, and one of their songs comes up, I always go, Damn, that's a good song...who is that? And lo and behold, it's The Thermals. I love their distinct lo-fi, no frills punkish sound, and finally seeing/hearing it in person delighted me to no end. Here were three people wheeling out their rock, but not relying on gimmick or thrills to capture the crowd. Plus, chicks on bass rock!

After The Thermals wrapped up their swift set, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists took the stage as headliners. I had seen Ted and his band (Jersey boy represent!) previously only once in an abbreviated gig almost two years ago at Irving Plaza as part of a benefit, so this time I got to check them out full blown, up front and center.

Ted got the crowd hopping with his fantastic blend of punk, pop, rock, reggae, and even bits of Thin Lizzy. A few years ago, Julie1 introduced me to him by making me buy Tyranny of Distance, and I have been a convert ever since. We were trying to pinpoint what about TL is appealing, and we decided it's his earnestness in playing his music that we dig. Perhaps that's what made the pairing of The Thermals and Ted Leo so fantastic -- both bands rock out without using coordinated outfits or laser light shows. Maybe that's why I found Ted's random cover of the day -- Daft Punk's "One More Time" -- so cheeky.

Check out my Flickr for some more shots!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Yeah Yeah Yeahs @Webster Hall, Aug. 7th

Not the frightening sweatbox I imagined it would be, Webster Hall tonight hosted the magnificent Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Then again, if the band is amazing enough, you forget about the perspiration dripping from your body. Instead, you admire the manic energy Karen O and her boys Nick Zinner and Brian Chase drive into their music and performance. As Wawa so aptly put it, the YYYs never mail it in.

The encore tacked on an additional four songs to the setlist above -- "Y Control," "Black Tongue," "Our Time" and "Tick." 75 minutes of insanity. I'm convinced Karen O devours vampires and Tasmanian devils for breakfast.

I initially had been reluctant to dump $45 into a ticket for this show, but ended up agreeing to go with Wawa as an exchange for him accompanying me to the White Stripes show two weeks ago (where we coincidentally sat behind Nick and Brian). Once the YYYs hit the stage, however, all doubts evaporated, and I remembered why I love them. Nobody loves you like the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs love you.

ot to Webster in time to catch the end of the first opener -- an all-female Mötley Crüe cover band called Girls Girls Girls -- lol! The second opener -- Tiny Masters of Today -- have received a lot of attention because the two front members are 13 and 11. They were dreadful singers, but cute and showed a lot of spunk. They closed out with a fun cover of House of Pain's "Jump Around."

I walked alongside the boy shown above on my way to the bathroom and realized he had to be the kid in the band only cos who else that age (and that pre-pubescent!) could get away with being in Webster Hall at that hour!