Tuesday, April 24, 2007
My, what a gorgeous evening! Tonight I met up with Julie1 tonight for a leisurely sidewalk dinner at the healthy Spring Street Natural -- yum! -- and then headed over to the Bowery Ballroom for the boys from Austin, Texas -- the band Spoon, whose music she had introduced to me a few years ago. We caught them previously in June 2005 at Webster Hall, so when tickets went on sale a week ago for this gig, we were eager to hear their new material at the best venue in town, the Bowery Ballroom.
We arrived in time to catch only the very end of the opening set by David Vandervelde. He and his bassist and drummer played fun, energetic, fuzzy music with a bluesy overtone that matched their scruffy My Name Is Earl-like appearance. He was enjoyable, but I seem to recall some of his lyrics being a wee bit juvenile. Something about "where I can get my c*ck sucked...where I can get my ass f*cked..." Hmmm...
Spoon, in contrast, are four guys, relatively clean-cut (I don't recall any facial hair), who play tightly written rhythmic songs that power forth with an upbeat tension. For almost an hour and a half, these guys led by Britt Daniel's vocals (which remind me at times of Elvis Costello's non-ballad punkier days, and as Julie pointed out, sometimes like Jeff Tweedy's raspy voice) kept the Monday night crowd bouncing. I don't know if Julie and I happened to be in the sweet spot of the floor about 15 feet from the stage, but never have I heard a better sound mix before at the Bowery, and it's usually pretty good.
Unimpressed by Vandervelde's dopey lyrics as mentioned above, I particularly liked these Spoon lyrics found in "Me and the Bean":
I'll bring you cover when you're cold
You'll bring me youth when I grow old
Everything about Spoon's performance was crisp, and they did not lose hold over the crowd when they debuted the new material. They charged through their set with minimal banter and didn't let up with the tempo. They were a group of great musicians who knew what they were doing, enjoyed it and did it with ease. An effortless performance, and I dug every urgent moment.
Monday, April 23, 2007
The Bravery. Rolling Stone Magazine. The Hard Rock Cafe.
Yeah, so The Bravery were fun two years ago. I'll admit I saw them with a bunch of 16 year olds at the Bowery Ballroom and had a blast, so piss off!
Anyway, FREE concert with RSVP. And it's 21+, so hopefully free booze, judging by the sponsors (or free razors and/or tighty whiteys).
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
With all the indie shows I usually go to, much like the time I caught Alice In Chains at the Bowery last year, I kinda felt like a grunge interloper for last night's concert featuring the one-time frontman of Soundgarden, then solo, then of Audioslave, and now solo again, Chris Cornell (but hey, at least I did buy Eurphoria Morning back when it came out). Tonight's gig took place at the newly re-christened Fillmore New York fka Irving Plaza, which, despite my not having been there in 1-1/2 years, is pretty much the same. In an attempt to escape the Pearl Jam war stories of Wawa and his Jamily, I followed some roadie woman who pushed her way through the crowd and happily ended up right up front. Awwwww yeahh!
So having never before seen Chris Cornell in any of his iterations, tonight's setlist was perfect for me -- it was like a nice buffet wherein I could sample a little bit of the solo new and old, a little bit of the grunge, a bit of solo acoustic and a little bit of the stuff for the new millennium. Hell, he even did stuff from that side project, Temple Of The Dog (yeah, that I'm going hungrrrrryyyyyyy song, and an acoustic "Call Me A Dog" from that album):
He performed the now well known acoustic cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and pulled out some big Soundgarden songs like "Zero Chance," "Jesus Christ Pose" and everyone's favorite, "Black Hole Sun." Sure, I would have loved to see Tom Morello on guitar, but for about 100 minutes, Chris Cornell proved why he is such a dynamic, charismatic frontman, and lucky me, I got to experience that gorgeous voice wayyyyy up close. I'm so deaf right now.
As an added bonus to being so damn close, the roadie handed me the setlist (which is missing the additional encores of "Wide Awake" and "JCP") after I simply asked for it. Easy peasy!
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Having broken up recently with the Mad Scientist, I was not sure I was in the mood for the mopey musical stylings of Rosie Thomas, but Rebecca convinced me to join her and the girls at Southpaw last night, so I figured what the hell. I had heard of Rosie's name before, but didn't really recall how, so it was not until Music Slut Matt reminded me that she was a F.O.S. -- friend of Sufjan -- did my interest in the music actually gel.
After some pleasant, but somewhat interminable solo acoustic sets by some dude named
Lulu(?) Luba Dvorak, and Rosie's bandmate Denison Witmer, and a cute (but c'mon already it's a school night!) standup bit by Rosie's alter-ego, Sheila Saputo, Rosie Thomas finally hit the stage around 11pm, joined by Denison, some other dude, and the Soof.
This also marked my first visit evah to Southpaw (I know! Can you believe it?), and yeah, it's an oddly arranged venue. I guess because the music last night was of the soothing lying in bed on Sunday morning while it's drizzling out and listening to breathy AM radio in the '70s genre, most people were sitting on the floor, and above in the raised areas, with some others, including me, standing by the bar.
While the music itself was melancholy, Rosie & Co. were hysterically cute in between songs. You know how certain musicians have really thick accents, but then when they sing, you would never guess what country they were from? It was kinda like that with Rosie -- when she wasn't singing, she had a little girl voice and told funny nonsensical stories about her friends -- kinda like a elementary school girl with a wild imagination, and then she'd do a 180 and start singing and dip into all this sad beautiful emotion for her songs. Utterly goofy and charming, especially when Sufjan lost his shit during "Paper Doll."
Here's a video of a beautiful song off of Rosie's latest effort, These Friends Of Mine, titled "Much Farther to Go":
And yeah, Soof is dreamy, space shuttle hat notwithstanding...*sigh!*
He wore the same tie as during the last time I saw him at the Revenge of the Book Eaters Benefit last year. They finished around 12:15am with a nicely slowed down cover of "The One I Love" by R.E.M.
Monday, April 9, 2007
Spotted this on Amazon:
$1,499.00 for headphones?!?! WTF?! Damn straight there'd better be FREE Super Saver Shipping!
Thursday, April 5, 2007
One of my favoritest indie bands, Sons and Daughters, played my favoritest venue, the Bowery Ballroom, tonight as part of Tartan Week here in New York, designed to encourage travel to Glasgow, the wearing of kilts, or something like that. Well, I dunno about Scotland, cos everyone I've heard from there complains about the weather, but if I could drink some fine scotch and/or ale, and listen to bands like Sons and Daughters every night, then I would certainly consider a trip.
I had seen Sons and Daughters twice prior to tonight. First time was a drunken night at the Mercury -- that's what dating an Englishman at the time and hanging with his Scottish friends got me, and then the second time was at a late night afterparty at the Tribeca Grande following a gig by their fellow Scottsmen, Franz Ferdinand, also a sodden affair. Tonight, having come straight from work (ugh!), and then needing to return to work bright and early in the morning (so why am I writing this now???), I opted for a more sober route.
I had been excited to revisit the little band that could ever since I bought these tickets a few months ago. Their two albums, Love The Cup and The Repulsion Box, are always in rotation on my iPod cos their 3 minute songs are straightforward affairs that make you want to get up and stomp your feet. I am in love with their lead singer, Adele Bethel, whose feistiness grabs you and demands your attention.
She sings into the mic full of dramatics and flails around in a movement not dissimilar to the Elaine Benes dance a la Seinfeld, but you know she's pouring her heart and energy into it, so you can't help but love it.
She is partnered on vocals with Scott Paterson, whose guitar is the driving force behind their music. What he does on the guitar complements the emotional range of Adele's voice perfectly.
I even love how bored the bassist, Ailidh Lennon, looks in comparison to Adele:
While I probably could have used a few tumblers of scotch to add to the mood (since when did I become such a fucking drunk?) like I did before the LCD Soundsystem show I went to last week at the very same venue, I still appreciated all the chi Sons and Daughters inject into their live performance. They predictably got better responses out of their crowd and myself with their old songs, but did manage to play a good handful of new songs as well. I salute thee, oh Sons and Daughters of Scotland!
Also caught the second opener, the 1990s. Funny trio of Scottish lads (yes, I'm using the word 'lads') who reminded me of a high school garage band with their loose, goofy, sloppy style. I couldn't decide whether the drummer or the guitarist reminded me more of Bobby Brady. They played songs reminiscent of the Kinks with gusto, and had cute, self-deprecating moments, but not really a band you're gonna rush out and buy their cd, or pirate from the internet, for that matter. Soz...
Sunday, April 1, 2007
John Roderick can charm the pants off a crowd. I first encountered his top-notch banter last summer briefly at the Revenge of the Book Eaters benefit during which he entertained the crowd with a few solo acoustic songs. Tonight at the Merc, he brought his same easy style in the form of his band, The Long Winters. For ninety minutes, he and the band drove through a solid, fun set of tightly written pop/rock melodies that have been compared to early R.E.M. and (perhaps unfairly) the Counting Crows. Andie thought that one of the songs sounded like Flaming Lips as well.
Whomever they remind you of, The Long Winters manage to sound interesting and engaging with lyrics worth exploring. And their lead singer/songwriter, the would-be High School English teacher, makes them worth catching live. He makes smart totally sexy!
Here's a clip of their song "Seven":
The girls and I missed most of the opener, Stars Of Track and Field, cos we decided to indulge in dinner and dessert, but the two minutes we did hear was fantastic. They managed to create a big sound with only three people on stage. Love that. I hope I can catch them again in the future. Wawa really was enthused about them.
The other opener was less to sneeze about. The Broken West were musically solid, but a bit blah. I heard some '70s influence with some Replacements mixed in, but we were a tad underwhelmed. Oh well!