Saturday, January 30, 2010

Les Savy Fav @BAM, Jan. 29th

Thanks to a random tweet I caught Thursday afternoon, Shana and I each won a pair of tickets to the undersold Les Savy Fav and Vivian Girls show at BAM for Friday night. Despite some initial protestations, we dragged ourselves along with Bestest Boy and Julie into the arctic freeze and ended up having a rockin' time.

I saw Vivian Girls six months ago at the Whitney Museum and really enjoyed them then in the cramped quarters, as it felt like we were part of some loud basement party. However, tonight in the much grander Howard Gilman Opera House, the girls felt a little lost. The sound mix did them no favors at first, with lead vocals and harmonies swallowed by the acoustics. Also, being the opener is always tough, especially with the venue only a quarter filled and with people filtering in, and people seated for their performance. It was not until at least halfway through when their sound began to gel, and the songs began to take form. At that point, guitarist and lead singer Cassie Ramone made some comment about the Xanax finally starting to work, so maybe nerves had worn away at that point.

Next up were Les Savy Fav. I had had zero exposure to this band up until this point, dismissing them as some gag act based on pictures I've seen on various blogs. My basic assumption was that they were just a band with some fat bald dude acting outlandishly, and when Tim Harrington, the lead singer, came onto the stage wearing purple leggings and a loose fitting beige cloth over his shirtless body, and clothespins attached to his beard, and did a solo interpretative dance, he really did nothing to dispel that notion. But then his band joined him and it all changed from there.

To my surprise, the band played very tight rhythms that zagged all over the place but were not sloppy. I was reminded of times I had seen Modest Mouse, Built To Spill or The Flaming Lips, with the music being loose and jangly, yet deliberate and well-crafted at the same time. The band itself held my interest quite well, as they played the straight men to the antics of Harrington, who, instead of being a distraction, complemented the instruments rather well, reminding me at times of Jello Biafra with his voice and dialogue with the audience. Yes, he was a crazy looking fat dude running all over the stage and into the crowd, but
his angry-goofy-gibberish song rants, energy, enthusiasm and sheer earnestness overcame my pre-judgment. At the start of LSF's set, Harrington dropped into the crowd beckoning people to stand, and it ended up being the right thing to do. Despite the opera house setting with assigned seating, it quickly became apparent that it would take a lot more than that to contain the force that is Les Savy Fav.

Here's a video I shot of an older song, "Who Rocks the Party":

The four of us walked away from that performance delighted and impressed with the spectacle we had witnessed. I am looking forward to digging into their catalog more.

(Brooklyn Vegan quoted my review here.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Britt Daniel @Sound Fix, Jan. 23rd

Yesterday, I coaxed Bestest Boy to accompany me up to Williamsburg to meet Julie for an in-store appearance by Britt Daniel, lead singer of Spoon. This was my first visit to the recently relocated Sound Fix Records, where in its old iteration, I had gone to just one free "in-store" there (the band Man Man, which was just plain nuts). I use quotes there because the old setup had a nice bar attached to the rear of the record shop, which kind of made it more conducive to getting into the gig mood as it was not in a store.

We first arrived at the shop at 5pm and saw no line for the 7pm announced start time, so we walked around and settled in for a pint at The Gutter, which was closer to our vibe than the manic Brooklyn Bowl, which felt overdone to me. Around 5:45 we decided to head back to the store, only to find the line winding around the block. Wow, people do like their free.

Britt performed by himself on a guitar and sounded great. I love that raspy quality his voice possesses. He played a short setlist of four songs, with two from the new album, Transference, and two from 2005's Gimme Fiction: "The Mystery Zone," "Written In Reverse," "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" and "I Summon You." Sweet.

While, yeah, it would have been nice to hear more than that, it was probably a blessing in disguise that we didn't have to stand there too long for only partial glimpses of Britt (though the acoustics were great). The new Sound Fix location, while perhaps grander in terms of CD display, seemed awkward for this Britt Daniel appearance, as
it was packed to the gills, he was not on a platform of any sort, and there was a big column in the middle of the store, and I don't mean the 6'8" man standing in front of us. Plus, with the performance being right there amongst all the compact discs as opposed to the former bar setting, it was only painfully more apparent that Britt was there to shill for his band's newly released album as he concluded with an okay, who wants to buy some records?

Even though we like Spoon, and Britt's performance was good, and we could have bought the new album signed by him, we decided to ditch the crowd and head over to Fette Sau for some porky goodness. Oh yesssss...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hit it!