Sunday, July 8, 2007

Built To Spill / Cat Power @McCarren Pool, July 7th

Julie1 and I grabbed some ice cream cones with chocolate dip and then moseyed on up to the front of McCarren Pool quite easily for Cat Power. This was my third time seeing Chan Marshall, having previously seen her first at Town Hall over a year ago, and then five months ago at Hiro Ballroom. As we all know, seeing Cat Power can be a mixed bag; she can be brilliant, or just plain ol' infuriating. Today, Chan seemed to be all business. Gone were the prolonged moments of awkwardness and rambling and goofy storytelling. She spent hardly any time on banter. Perhaps it was the awareness that she was not the main act and was operating under a time constraint. Perhaps it was the summer sunlight flooding the stage. Perhaps it was the lack of intimacy in this concrete venue. Whatever the reason, Chan kept her cool and played a confident, polished set with her small backing band, the Dirty Delta Blues Band. She kept her nervous tics and hair chewing to a minimum. Happily, they barely touched her last album, The Greatest. While I love that album, one of my tops for 2006, (a) I felt nothing could top seeing her run through those songs with the Memphis Rhythm Band, and (b) I was ready to hear different songs. She sounded good this time around. Solid, if not dazzling.

Unfortunately, after Cat Power exited the stage, the assholes aka fratboys seemed to shove their way out of the woodwork for Built To Spill. I think they must have loaded up on beer during the Cat Power set. Looking around the Pool, it was interesting to see what a diverse fanbase Doug Martsch & Co. have. The fratboys were the most prominent, however, and they ended up right next to us. Julie1 and I debated whether to sacrifice our positioning and head for the back, but we decided to simply move away from them a little bit, which ended up being the right thing to do.

Coincidentally, this was also my third time seeing BTS -- last time was just over a year ago in San Francisco at Slim's during my trip out to the West Coast for Radiohead at Berkeley. While I thought BTS were quite brilliant at the small Slim's club show, their multiple guitar layering was perfect for an outdoor venue like McCarren. As I've noted before, the guys are low frills and all business about their music and demeanor. They moved through their songs swiftly, well, as swift as songs with long guitar jamming can be. Their performance was so good, it made Julie1 and me forget about the assholes who surrounded us.

Unfortunately, we missed the opener, Bob Mould, but seeing Cat Power followed by Built To Spill was definitely an interesting coupling that worked pretty well for me, much like last year when I saw Sonic Youth followed by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at McCarren. Cool beans.

1 comment:

julie1 said...

GREAT SHOW! BTS rocked my world. that burger was pretty awesome too...