Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wilco @Keyspan Park, July 13th

I was originally thinking no to this show; times are tough, and I had just seen Wilco twice in December opening for two very expensive Neil Young shows. Plus, shlepping out to Coney Island is rarely ideal. But then, Yo La Tengo was announced as the opener, so your humble narrator found herself facing the prospect of not seeing two of her favorite bands together on one bill. That would obviously be most incorrect. So I hustled and bustled for a ticket, even to the point of shamelessly asking James McNew of YLT for a ticket sortof (he said no). My patience paid off as this afternoon I landed a ticket for well below face. I made my way to Coney Island, scarfed down a Nathan's hotdog with onions and sauerkraut, and scooted to the stadium. I got there early enough for a nice spot right on the front rail and prepared for an evening of wow.

And WOW I got. Not only were Yo La Tengo superb (I could have seriously gone home after them and been fine with it), but Wilco once again killed it. They played for nearly 2-1/2 hours, employing a mix of the familiar as well as cuts off their latest self-titled album.

I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of Feist, who did her duet with Jeff Tweedy on "You And I," and subsequently also by Edward Droste of Grizzly Bear, who lent his voice on backup vocals. Yo La Tengo came back onto the stage to join the boys in "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" to close out the first encore. It. Was. Like. My. Mind. Exploded.

Perhaps most fittingly, Wilco finished the evening with Woody Guthrie's "Hoodoo Voodoo" off their Mermaid Avenue collaboration with Billy Bragg. The always amazing Nels Cline engaged in a guitar solo duel with utility player Pat Sansone -- at this time, it is still unclear who won.

Seriously beautiful and amazing day.

"You And I" with Feist:

Also, "California Stars" (with Feist and Ed Droste) and "Hummingbird."

Yo La Tengo @Keyspan Park, July 13th

I had made peace with the decision to pass on the Wilco show at Keyspan Park till Yo La Tengo was announced as the opener. That gave me agita for quite some time. Glad I went tonight and finally heard my favorite YLT song "Autumn Sweater." Bitchin'!

One of my favorite opening bands, ever.

(Sorry for the lack of Georgia pics -- couldn't see her from my spot on the rail. D'oh!)

Handsome Furs @Music Hall of Williamsburg, July 8th

The last time I caught Dan Boeckner, it was in his usual band of Wolf Parade at Warsaw almost two years ago, and I have to say, I was not hugely impressed. The band didn't wow me with their live performance.

This time, thanks to The Music Slut, I was able to attend a concert by Handsome Furs, Boeckner's side project with his wife, Alexei Perry. Going into it, I was skeptical due to my previous experience. Since I had a free ticket, I decided to show up just for the main act and give it a whirl.

What Wolf Parade lacked in gusto, Handsome Furs more than made up for it in charm and sexiness. This simple husband-wife duo, despite the lack of a full band, managed to keep me entertained for more than an hour, playing a stripped down set full of guitar, synthesizers and drum machine. It reminded me quite a bit of the time I saw The Presets open for The Rapture at Webster Hall. Their music was a fun danceable mix that had the crowd hopping. And my oh my were they sexy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band / Jenny Lewis @Battery Park, July 4th

This past 4th of July, a bunch of us got da hook up from dear Whitney to go sit in the VIP section for the annual free concert in Battery Park. Even though our location was not optimal for hearing the musicians and seeing the stage, at least we didn't have to get in line hours earlier and worry about anyone stealing our spots since seats were aplenty in our section. Plus, we had the added bonus of free barbecue, drinks and ice cream, so it was all good.

The concert opened with indie darling Jenny Lewis, whom I had caught less than a month prior in Williamsburg. Her setlist was more or less the same, coming in a little shorter at 55 minutes, so I was not at all fussed to be up front again like I had been for the smaller venue show. She was her usual beautiful self, and her mood reflected the sunny gorgeous day. A nice twist -- for her cover of the Traveling Wilburys' "Handle Me With Care," she brought out Conor Oberst and his band for backup vocals duty as a preview of what was to come.

The headliner was Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, a band I was somewhat looking forward to, but not in any huge hurry to spend any money on. I've enjoyed Conor Oberst's usual iteration of Bright Eyes a number of times before, so I kinda knew what to expect, but didn't have any familiarity with his latest material.

With Conor Oberst, I find it important to be in the mood for his music. He can be really awesome if you're totally into it, but if not, it wears thin pretty quickly. He and his bandmates are certainly talented, but after a while, the songs can kinda sound all the same. And the combination of our being on the side, and not knowing the material made us a bit restless towards the end. The music, however energetic, proved a bit much to take at an hour and 45 minutes.

Nonetheless, the afternoon proved to be a perfect way to spend a 4th of July with friends and decent food and good entertainment, and in the end, isn't that what it really is all about?