Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fun in the Park

Watch my friends' son Spencer do some interpretive dancing to some Bach in Washington Square Park today. The concentration by the cellist is amazing. Bet they don't let you do this at Carnegie Hall!

LCD Soundsystem @Bowery Ballroom, March 30th


James Murphy could be the newest hardest working man in show business. Well, I dunno, but tonight at LCD Soundsystem's show at the Bowery Ballroom, all I know is I danced my ass off, and it was because of this man.


LCD on my iPod is fun, cos I can listen to the cheeky lyrics and shit; LCD live is like fuckin' magic. I had a bad last weekend, so I felt the need to exorcise the malingering chi, and he (and the two helpings of pre-gig scotch I had) made it all possible, baby. My feet and knees hurt like fuck right now, and I am about to crash, but, man, for 90 minutes, he and his crew made the Bowery Ballroom bounce harder than I have seen in a long time. Long live LCD!

(After the main set, I moved up front and ran into the Music Sluts. See their review here.)

Update (4/2/07): I got linkified on Brooklyn Vegan.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Move On Up, Greg!

This weekend, a good friend from undergrad, Greg, will be embarking on a most amazing adventure -- he will be leaving from London to hike up Mount Everest over ten weeks! Read about him and his team here.

Crazy to think that this is the same shy, polite dude who moved in next door to me at our dorm over 13 years ago! :-)

After he summits, I'll be playing Jane's Addiction's "Mountain Song" for him non-stop!

In the meanwhile, you can listen to the iMix our friend Beth made for him on iTunes:

So awesome! Kick some major mountain ass, Greg!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

J.A. Granelli & Mr. Lucky @The Bowery Poetry Club, March 20th

Last night, met up with the Mad Scientist after Kung Fu class for a gig he spotted in the NY Times Jazz listings, which come out every Friday. We arrived at The Bowery Poetry Club, which I didn't realize hosts non-poetry events in addition to the readings and slams one might normally expect. It is a great little venue -- holds about 50 seated, maybe 3/4 the size of the Mercury Lounge, and the sound system there is crisp. It also boasts a nice healthy foods cafe out front, and a decent bar with $7 pints of draught Guinness.

We were there for the release show for J.A. Granelli & Mr. Lucky's latest CD, Homing, which the band basically played from start to finish. Neither the Mad Scientist nor I knew anything about this band prior to the gig, but I suspect it was the fact this band features an organ that caught his eye. And we figured for an $8 admission, what the hell?

For the New York Times to have put this gig under jazz was not entirely accurate, although probably most appropriate, I guess. There were no vocals; Granelli plays the bass, and the band Mr. Lucky consists of guitar, drums, organ, and usually a pedal steel guitar. Consequently, with all those instruments at their disposal, they were able to perform compositions with sounds reminiscent of the alt-country of Wilco or Ryan Adams, to the funkiness of a good New Orleans quintet, to even the atmospheric trickling of Sigur Ros. I was reminded of Broken Social Scene as well in parts, but with a third of the personnel. It was basically a group of five white dudes who enjoyed making non-traditional music, without relying on lyrical song structure to carry them forth.

We listened to most of their set for about an hour, but then general tiredness was creeping in, so we left before the end/encore. A good evening. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for future excuses to visit The Bowery Poetry Club.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Paul Bollenback Trio @Smoke, March 7th

(Sorry for forgetting to post this in a more timely fashion. It only just occurred to me recently that it was music-related, and therefore, blog-worthy.)

Tina, my best friend from high school, was visiting from Seattle, so I decided to take her to a great little jazz bar on the UWS called Smoke, where we met up with the Mad Scientist. The Mad Scientist loves that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are Hammond B-3 organ nights at Smoke since he is teaching himself how to play.

We met up for the 8 o'clock set, for which there was no cover, which was nice -- just a $20 food/drink minimum. Though the food prices were a bit steep (but understandably so), the food was pretty tasty. I particularly enjoyed the French onion soup. The drink list was decent, too, despite an absence of Guinness.

The setting was nice and intimate. About 40 people sat in front of the stage at tables of two or three, and about another dozen at the bar. The trio -- a guitarist backed by the organ and drums -- played your typical jazz jamming -- solid, but meh. The Mad Scientist and I were hoping for something a little funkier, but it was a little too plain jane vanilla for our tastes. Not particularly memorable, which may be why I didn't feel compelled to run home and write about the experience.

Overall, however, I do recommend checking out Smoke if you're at all into jazz. It was a good first music stop for me and the Mad Scientist. I'm looking forward to catching much more jazz with him. :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Good, The Bad & The Queen @Webster Hall, March 12th


Met up with Wawa for the somewhat eagerly anticipated debut of The Good, The Bad & The Queen, a new side project by the frontman of Blur and now Gorillaz, Damon Albarn. The stage was decorated in bunting, or flags for those of us who are stateside, lending the air of a carnival-esque spectacle with Albarn and his top hat as the ringmaster.

With Simon Tong (of the Verve) on guitar, Paul Simenon (of the Clash) on bass and Tony Allen (affiliated with Fela Kuti) on drums backing him, the focus was mainly on Albarn, as he alternated between standing at the mic and pounding away at the piano. His distinct voice lead us through the music, which drew from shades of a reggae sounding beat, to plaintive electronica, to quiet pop.

I had only heard a few selected songs by TGTB&TQ before the show and could not help but compare them to the works of Blur and Gorillaz. Upon hearing more of the songs during the show, I concluded that the music, while great to see performed live, will certainly benefit from a few listens of the album in its entirety. The songs do not seem like a radio-ready collection of singles; rather, the album ought to be one that will grow on you.

Here is a clip of the first single, "Herculean":

Update: you can download an MP3 of their entire show in DC at the 9:30 club courtesy of NPR here.

Update #2: Cool! The band linked my video here!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Why choosing fruit over candy might be a good thing

One day, found this in the gummi bear container in the kitchen at my office:

Gummi 69

A pair of gummi bears, getting their 69 on. Cute.

Then, my coworkers noticed other freaks popping up:


including a few conjoined gummis and biracial gummi.

This morning, we found this one:


I don't even know where to begin...

Monday, March 5, 2007

Bright Eyes @Bowery Ballroom, March 2nd

Friday night I headed over to the Bowery Ballroom with Wawa, his friend Marc, Shana, Andie and Matt from The Music Slut to check out Bright Eyes aka Conor Oberst & Co., who are in the midst of a mini-tour supporting the newly released Four Winds EP and the upcoming full-length Cassadaga

In the past I have caught Conor playing a song or two here and there, and once for a proper gig during the forgettable Digital Ash In A Digital Urn tour in May of 2005, and was never blown away. I have been reluctant to embrace him and the love bestowed upon him by the indie kids, finding him a wee bit too precious and waif-like for my tastes and doubting whether he can truly be the next Bob Dylan. Plus, I really have to be in the mood to listen to an entire cd of his in one sitting. So, I was definitely not looking for a self-indulgent, acoustic set after a very long week.

Well, Conor brought the guns. He played a tight, energetic set without spending too much time on the mope, interspersing a nice level of banter throughout the 2-1/2 hours. I didn't know everything he played, but he brought a sense of urgency to his songs that Andie deemed "compelling." And the crowd was not filled with as many assholes as I had originally worried there'd be. The three girls who jutted in front of us did comment on what beautiful wrists Conor had, however.

The icing on the cake? M. Ward showed up about 2/3s of the way through the set and played second fiddle to Conor for the most part, occasionally lending his smoky vocals to the songs. A nice surprise, well, not really, since Conor did declare Matt to be his BFF, and well, M. Ward does appear on the new material.

Here's a video of them performing the beautiful "Smoke Without Fire" from the new EP:

I also YouTubed "Make War" and "We Are Nowhere And It's Now."

Check out Music Slut Matt's review of the show here.

All in all, a great show. I hadn't been excited like that by a show in quite some time. Always good stuff at the Bowery.

Oh, also Craig Wedren, the lead singer from Shudder To Think, was one of the openers for the evening. He plays an interesting blend of songs with sounds ranging from hard rock/punk to pop. Craig has a melodic voice and often uses it almost operatically. I didn't realize that he has written many songs for various film soundtracks, including one of my favorites, Velvet Goldmine. His music had its moments, but was quite uneven, perhaps since he was trying out new material for the most part. I enjoyed his set I caught in November 2005 at the Living Room much more.