Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bon Iver @Bowery Ballroom, July 29th

A last minute call by Shana allowed me to tag along for the wonderfully exciting Bon Iver show at the Bowery Ballroom. We got there nice and early to be front center. Unlike my last visit to the Bowery Ballroom, this show reminded me why I love this venue -- Bon Iver capitalized on the Bowery's generally great sound and intimate setting and made me an overnight fan. They, led by Justin Vernon and his beautiful soaring falsetto, were an accomplished group, taking us through melodically complex songs with layer upon layer of harmony. The songs at times reminded me of the first time I caught Grizzly Bear, but perhaps with more oomph to their beats. I really dug the mostly mellow vibe with the occasional rock out on the guitar thrown in. The songs really engaged the audience with building crescendos. At times, Vernon's falsetto reminded me of Coldplay's Chris Martin, but perhaps with the profundity that Coldplay's music often lacks.

Here's a gorgeous solo by Vernon called "Re: Stacks":

The opener, Bowerbirds, were a perfect complement to Bon Iver. This quiet trio also sang beautiful songs that might not reach headliner status but still managed to hold the attention of the crowd. Rather straightfoward folksy sounding tunes full of harmony and without gimmick.

I videoed a nice tune by them called "Teeth of Life."

For the encore, Bon Iver called Bowerbirds back onto the stage and performed a cover by Nashville singer Sarah Siskind called "Lovin's for Fools":

All in all, a gorgeous night for music!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Deerhoof @Prospect Park, July 18th

(Bad cell phone pic!)

After catching the amazing Dark Knight earlier in the day (man, Heath Ledger was good!), I brought Bestest Boy to Prospect Park for the $3 Deerhoof concert, where we met up with Shana, her Michael and Julie1 and sat in the row behind the pit. The only other time I have caught these guys was opening for Radiohead when I went out to Berkeley a few years ago, so I was very excited to see them again as headliner, and from a better vantage point. I dig their music -- experimental, punk or whatever you want to call it, and also I dig their lack of pretension. They're clearly all in a row, up front, ready to rock. They, like the time I saw The Thermals, just play the kind of music that makes you bounce your head hard without being too goddamned angry. And man, that drummer sure can tear up his four piece drum kit! It was definitely weird sitting for most of the show, but then again, my legs were probably thankful. At any rate I was happy to be bopping along to the nonsensical lyrics sung by Satomi Matsuzaki, sitting next to my sweetie.

PS -- Shana's Michael spotted part of Blonde Redhead sitting in front of us.

The dude -- which twin brother it was, who knows for sure -- got up before Deerhoof's set to twiddle with the drum kit, so we were hoping for a guest appearance, but no such luck!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bastille Day Weekend @The Catskills, July 12th-14th

Not a gig, per se, but a great weekend out in the country. Last weekend, Bestest Boy took me to his pal Eddie C.'s annual Bastille Day Weekend Celebration in the Catskills. Before heading out of the city, we loaded up the car with some gravalax, pastrami salmon and sturgeon from Barney Greengrass; bagels and bialys from H&H; and pâté, fois gras, croissants, beaucoup de fromages et cornichons de Zabar's! Also, many, many bottles of wine.

Once up at the farm, we mainly relied on Rich, professional tapas chef and guitarist/keyboardist extraordinaire to direct the evening meals. And there was tons of grilling.

Those are dried plums (aka prunes) which were soaked in Merlot for a few hours, then stuffed with fois gras, wrapped in prosciutto, grilled, then finished off with a thyme-infused simple syrup. Heavenly!

In addition to being exquisite gourmands, many of our friends are also fantastic musicians, keeping the rest of us drunkards entertained well into the night. Oh it's amazing what a fearless singer 8 oz. of Knob Creek will make me!