Thursday, December 6, 2007

Menomena w/ Illinois @ Webster Hall, November 10th, 2007

Phew! This show was a while ago.. I guess I'm just super lazy/busy ;) Either way, Menomena put out one of my favorite albums of last year, and their live show is just as good. This particular show wasn't too packed though, because they played for free at the seaport a couple of months ago (see past post) and I think everyone needed a menomatic-breather. Their drummer has some serious skills, and there was one song where he kept up this Nirvana-esque beat for what seemed like 9 minutes. Crazy stamina!

Openers Illinois have some great catchy songs, but this might've been too big of a venue for them. And you could tell that they didn't travel with a sound-man, as their set didn't sound nearly as huge as Menomena's.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Múm w/ Torngat @ The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, November 9th, 2007

If you ever get the chance to see Múm in a 19th-century Catholic church, you simply have to go. I will accept no exceptions. With high ceilings and a long spacious hall, the reverb and acoustics were gorgeous (I'm pretty sure most of Neon Bible by Arcade Fire was recorded in a church, if you want a sound comparison). Also, with the spiritual setting, the performers are inspired to put on an extra special performance (one member of Múm was hospitalized the night before, but insisted on playing, because of the unique venue). The place was so packed with Mummies (my term for Múm fans ;) that there wasn't any pew space, and I had to stand on the side! But no matter.. it was well worth it! Gorgeous!

Also.. opener Torngat, an instrumental three-piece from Montreal, was quite excellent. This was their first show in New York and they really proved their worthiness on this bill. Sound wise, they kind of remind me of Sufjan Stevens (although Carl will disagree...) but a little more rocking, and without all of the silly costumes and gradiose attitude or vocals. Worth a listen...
Following Torngat, was a solo cello performance by Jihyun Kim, which rounded the bill with some classical pieces by Bach and Gyorgy Ligeti, played acoustically and memorized by this Juliard trained musician. Impressive.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Band of Horses @ Terminal 5, Sunday November 4th, 2007

I'm going to keep this one short, because I've already blogged about this band.... But I thought I would at least share some of the photos from this show, which came out pretty snazzy. Band of Horses is consistently a good show... just when you think they've run out of good songs to play, there's another one! Like, BAM! "Part One!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jens Lekman @ Bowery Ballroom, October 27th, 2007

There is something magical about Jens Lekman. He is both awkward and mesmerizing at the same time. Considering that he is surrounded by beautiful Swedish women on stage, it is no wonder his songs mostly touch on the subtle ironies of love and loss. You can't quite tell if he means what he says in his songs, or if it is all part of some kind of brilliantly crafted pop-songwriting scheme (I'm leaning towards the former). But it doesn't matter, as his songs remain pleasantly mysterious. Tonight, he was in a good mood, feeding off of the energy of his adoring fans, and giving them a show to remember. A few of his female band-mates may not have been as enthusiastic, but I assume this was either jealousy on their part for not having the center spotlight, or perhaps merely road/air travel weariness. They opened up with "You in my arms," and played mostly songs off of Jens' kick-ass new album, "Night Falls Over Kortedala." Hi-lites for me included, "The Opposite of Hallelujah," "Maple Leaves," and "Shirin." The entire band wore matching white outfits with embroidered red-flowers stitched in various places, which gave them a unified glow that couldn't have been born in any place except Sweden. I even captured a little video of the show, just in case you can't catch him in your neck of the woods. Till next time Jens, keep breaking those hearts...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Frances + The Creaky Boards @ the Creek & the Cave, October 20th, 2007

How could I not go to this show? It's like 3 blocks from my house! I had never been to the Creek for a show (I have frequented it for the great Mexican food and cheap Margs though), so I was pleasantly surprised by the good sound in the performance room (which is rare for a small venue in this city - probably due to the fact that they only mic the vocals and the acoustically pleasing high ceilings). Now, Frances is a great little brooklyn band playing melodic, meaningful indie-pop in a fun yet serious way. I picked up their two albums at this show, and am excited to hear their studio efforts. Go check 'em.

I had no previous introduction to the Creaky Boards before tonight, but I was blown away by their sexy, energetic and pop-hook infused set. The early-Beatles reference springs to mind immediate from their abundant use of strong background vocal harmonies and simple song structures. Gosh, it's so great to see a band you've never heard of before and become an instant fan. Seriously, go see them live, you'll be glad you did...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Holy Fuck + Oh No! Oh My! @ Galapagos, October 17th, 2007

I first saw Holy Fuck at a cmj showcase two years ago when they were called "Hot Carl Loves the Ladies" (which is perhaps the greatest band name ever invented, why did they ditch it?). Back then, their unique blend of old-school Casio blips and beeps with an authentic bass and drum rhythm section was a wild and exhilirating ride akin to fugazi joining kraftwerk for a jam sess. Today's incarntion is much more controlled, with actual song structures and a tightness that you have to appreciate. They have refined their craft, which is impressive given the complexity of their sound.

Oh No! Oh My! put out one of my favorite albums of the last year, so I definitely wanted to check out their live show, which was solid, but lacks the confidence and consistency of the the nice album. Don't get me wrong, their live show ain't bad, I just wasn't blown away, and there are better live acts... like (ahem) Battles.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The National @ Highline Ballroom, Oct 15th, 2007

The National plays springsteen-esque americana in a post-strokes new york style, or at least that's my impression. Really, I don't know them very well, but this was a good show, and they are Rishi's favorite band (according to facebook) and Bogo's six-week-long tour-mates and friends, so they must be nice people too. Also, their drummer looks like John Lennon. There I said it.

Pela @ Highline Ballroom, October 15th, 2007

Thanks to Bogo for putting Carl and I onto the list for this one...
Pela was in tip-top shape, ripping through their set with a fury and abandon I had not seen in them before. They really put a lot of emotion into their live show, and I think I like it better than on their record.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Alex Chechile @ 51 3rd St. Troy, NY October 14th

Alex Chechile is a good buddy of mine finishing up a Masters in Electronic Arts at Rensselaer in Troy, NY. He has developed a unique system that analyzes the brainwaves of the performing musician using an electroencephalogram which then affects the sound in various ways (ie. frequency, tone, tempo, etc). This creates a feedback loop that is molded by the mood and thoughts of the performer, another step in bridging the gap between the mind and the music. It was an amazing performance. Often times I felt that the mood of the music completely emulated the mood of the audience, which makes me wonder if his EEG system can pick up the brainwaves of the audience members as well. It was done entirely in surround sound (which sounded so good, that it has pretty much ruined stereo music for me for the time being) and can be described as like layers of swirling static noise that rotate around the room at various tempos and frequencies, based on his brainwaves. I'm currently trying to get Alex to come down and play a noise show in NYC sometime in November. Hopefully he's not too busy. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Enon @ Death By Audio, Brooklyn, Oct. 12, 2007

Enon is sick. They're nasty. I don't even care that the sound was bad at DBA, punk rock!! And their drummer can have my babies... please take them! Actually, I want them back, but could you teach me how to drum like you, you seriously rip and I want to replicate. Ahh, so glad I went.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sunset Rubdown w/ Johnny and the Moon @ Bowery Ballroom, Tues. Oct. 9th, 2007

I know. I just saw Sunset Rubdown a couple of months ago, but I couldn't resist another rubdown ;) And I'm glad I went, this was a completely different show. Last time Spence (my nickname for the man) was all down because he was turning 30, and didn't even play an encore. This time, they couldn't stop playing and even played a couple of songs they usually don't perform live (like "stadiums and shrines" yay!). Also there were 2-3 songs I'd never heard before, so those were a sweet. And their lead guitarist(s) can shred. There. I said it. It's true. Both of them. Now, this was a talkative crowd (i guess that's what hipsters do - make witty remarks, instead of shaking their butts), saying such ridiculous things as "Spencer for President" to which Camilla replied, "That's a really bad idea." and Spence said, "I'm surprised the only real objection to that idea is that I am Canadian." One person also declared that they had a "Man-crush" on the whole band. Which is funny, because how can you have a man-crush on a whole band, and what exactly is a man-crush? And no, I didn't say it. Also, Johnny and the Moon was good. Kinda like if Bob Dylan and his band were trying to make it today, but wasn't having such an easy ride, because it's been done before. But yeah, kinda folksy, indie-rock croon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Arcade Fire, Blonde Redhead, LCD Soundsystem, and Les Savy Fav @ Randall's Island, Saturday Oct. 6th, 2007

photos courtesy of the village voice and brooklyn vegan

With this lineup it would be nearly impossible for this to be a bad show. Although with 25,000 people at the show, it was a bit crowded.

Les Savy Fav opened their set with The Equestrian which definitely started things off on the right foot. With frontman Tim Harrison bounding to all corners of the stage and sporting a wild, skin tight all-white spandex suit with hand-drawn organs, it's no wonder this band has made such a splash in Brooklyn. Although they definitely deserve it. Their new album is fantastic.
Next up, Blonde Redhead, had a nice mystical vibe and I think the large screen psychedelic visuals really complemented their stage show (sorry no pictures).

This was the best LCD Soundsystem show I've seen. Their drummer was really on point tonight, and I liked how the video engineer would overlay live video of the band with a close up of spinning disco ball. It really got people dancing!

Arcade Fire was bigger than ever and seeing Neon Bible live was a treat. Hi-lites for me included opener "Black Mirror," "My Body Is A Cage," "Intervention," "Windowsill" and encore "Wake Up". Oh yeah, and when Will Butler climbed up the 50 ft scaffolding while still beating his tom drum. Woah.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Gates of Heaven W/ Other Passengers @ Monkeytown, Brooklyn, October 2nd, 2007

is one of my favorite small bar/clubs in Williamsburg. It's got a real laid back vibe and a friendly staff. In the back room, the performance space has 3 giant video projectors playing artsy movies on all of the walls while the bands play, so it is a visual as well as aural experience. This was Gates of Heaven's first real show, and I was duly impressed. Carl can't stop raving about their new album (not yet released) and based on their set last night, he should be excited. You could describe them as sounding a little like Panda Bear, maybe not as well rehearsed or refined, but all the melodic, spiritual, sampled and electronic guts are there, although they would probably fight being pigeon holed in those rather large shoes to fill, but I say that's a great place to be. I also caught most of Other Passenger's set and it was quite enjoyable, but kinda hard to describe. I would just go to their site and take a listen and decide for yourself. Also, I think it was the lead singer's birthday, so it was a special night all around. =)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Aqueduct w/Apples In Stereo @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, Sept. 16, 2007

I guess technically Apples in Stereo headlined, but I mainly came to see Aqueduct perform their latest album "Or Give Me Death" (which, if you don't have, I highly recommend!). Lead singer David Terry has a lot of great energy, and really makes the show fun. They played all the songs I wanted to hear, especially "As You Wish," with those three-part vocal harmonies, and "Keep It Together." I read somewhere that he recorded the whole album by himself, which would be quite an impressive feat, given the sound quality and fluidity of it, but I kinda doubt it, since it seems like his bandmates have been playing together for years (also, the Aqueduct bass player is hot. So, check 'em out if you're into hot dude bass players, which I am not.) Apples In Stereo was pretty good too. But they sort of only play in one dynamic style, straight-forward mid-tempo pop/rock, which can get tiring after a while (throw a ballad in there man!). But they did have one band member dressed like an astronaut, for those outer-space sounds....wooooord.

A Brief Smile @ Pianos, Sept 14th, 2007

I've been keeping an eye on A Brief Smile for a while now, ever since I heard "Count Me Out" on radio-indie-pop a couple years ago and loved it. I've always been sort of so-so about their albums, but this latest release "Now We All Have Horns" is great, with a consistent vibe and good songs all the way through, and you can stream the entire album on their website for free! They remind me of like a young, more-shoegazey Radiohead, with tons of effect pedals, a big fuzzy sound, and melodic vocals on top. It's not really music to dance around to, rather to sing along with. What else can i say?... I like bands from NYU. ;)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Battles w/ Deerhunter @ South Street Seaport, Friday August. 31, 2007

Hooooooooooly shit Battles was good! I saw them a few months ago at the Bowery Ballroom, and they were good then, but this time they were unbelievable, 10x better. Their drummer is awesome. He doesn't play the drums, he attacks them, with deadly precision. His toms sound like gunshots. And their single "ATLAS" sounds like chipmunks marching to war. Ridiculous! At first I didn't really understand their band name but now I get it... They use layers upon layers of synchronized samples and effects to build a very rich, textured sound. They're one of those bands where you're like, "How the shit did they do that!?" Sometimes they play two instruments at once (keyboards and guitars), quite impressive. Definitely one of the best shows I've seen this summer (I'll probably do a top ten list sometime soon...) Opener Deerhunter was also good, playing sort of a heavy fuzzed-out pysch garage. But they couldn't touch Battles, not by a long shot.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Broken Social Presents: Kevin Drew w/ Feist @ McCarren Park Pool,

So it was 6pm doors for this show, and that usually means that the first band starts at 7pm, but I got there at 6:45pm and Grizzly Bear had already finished their set (wtf!) How am I supposed to get out of work at 5:15? Who do they think I am? An investment banker? Anyway, I settled in, grabbed a beer, and got ready for "BSS Presents: Kevin Drew." Luckily, I had gotten a leaked version of his new album "Spirit If..." so I knew all of the killer new songs beforehand. Still, it was nice to see it in live form. Some hi-lites included "Tbtf," "Lucky Ones," and a cover version (of himself?) "Superconnected." This was apparently their second show with the new lineup, and they were understandably not as tight as they could be, but it didn't matter, because the songs were so good. I actually think this smaller ensemble might work better than the larger "scene" (with only 6 people on stage, instead of 10+) for a tighter more focused sound. So yeah, go see them, if you can. Oh and Feist headlined. She's not exactly my cup of tea, but I liked the song she ended her encore with, "Let It Die".

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Rentals @ Nokia Theater, Aug. 23rd, 2007

I have seen Weezer a few times, but never had a chance to see their most successful synth-fueled spin-off The Rentals until now. Featuring an enigmatic Matt Sharp as the front man, who was the original bass player for the Weez and left after Pinkerton (one could argue that the Weez lost a bit of it's magic after the split, since subsequent albums were not nearly as 'classic' but I digress...) I was trying to skip the first two bands, because I had no interest in seeing them, but alas the first band didn't go on until 9:30 for a 7pm doors (BS!), and it was pure torture listening to them (luckily, at this point I've purged all thoughts of them from my memory). But at last The Rents came on, and opened up with an extra slow and spooky "The Love I'm Searching For." They played pretty much every Rentals song you'd ever want to hear, mostly from their first, best album, with all the hooks and sing-a-longs intact, even a couple from their second not-too-shabby, album (esp. "The Man With Two Brains"). I couldn't tell if Pat (also from Weez) was on drums. Did he get fat and grow a beard? Either way he was good. Also, the synth player with the ridiculous-looking mustache was good. He had about 6 synths on stage, although I couldn't tell what they were (drat!) because he was way in the back. All in all, they had about 8 people on stage, for a large (and older, 30's-ish) ensemble. Their new songs I checked out online and wasn't super impressed with, but the two they played definitely had a little more inspiration live than their older stuff, which is to be expected I guess, so maybe I'll give it a second listen. Still, I can't complain, because they closed with "Friends of P" and that shit still rules.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Cribs w/ White Rabbits @ Bowery Ballroom, Thurs. Aug 9th.

The Cribs show was sold out, so I had to scalp a ticket. For some reason I just can't get enough of this band. Every time they come to town I am tempted to see them. Maybe I just like energetic bands that i can jump around and sing-a-long to. Or maybe I am secretly attracted to pretty boys from England? Either way this show was rowdy. There was one kid in the crowd, who was really causing trouble, getting violent, kinda ruined the fun a little. Eventually, he got kicked out and things calmed down a bit, but for a while half of my attention was spent trying to avoid him. The band was in a pissy mood too, i think. They opened with "Hey Scenesters" and Ryan added the line "You're all a bunch of pricks!" to the end of the song, which is true, especially if you look at how Pitchfork rated their last albums (C'mon! 3.0 for The New Fellas? You're F-ing Daft!). Also, they were peeved that the people in the back weren't as into it as the kids in the front. What can you do dude? You can't force people to dance. Anyway, I also saw a little bit of openers White Rabbits play, and I know people rave about that band, but I just couldn't get into it, no matter how hard they tried. Although their song "The Plot" is undeniably catchy...

The Big Sleep @ Prospect Park, Thurs. Aug. 9th

So I usually don't recommend going to two different shows in one night, it's kind of overkill, especially if they're in different boroughs. But sometimes it all works out. First was The Big Sleep for free in Prospect Park. I got there in the middle of their set (cuz the train was slow), but they sounded great so no regrets. They can really fill out the sound in a big venue (cuz of their massive vintage amps). My buddy Mark told me that the bassist and guitarist in TBS are married and have been playing the same set of songs for years before being picked up by French Kiss, and that their album "Son of a tiger" was recorded years ago, and was merely re-released. Who knew? Does it matter? No, that band is too cool, and so is the movie...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Band of Horses W/ The Annuals @ McCarren Pool, July 22nd 2007

It's just so hard to skip a free Band of Horses show. Ahh, who am i kidding, what else am I going to do on a Sunday afternoon in July? This was the first BOH show I've seen in several months and their lead singer looked more grizzled and tour-battled than ever, sporting a chest-long beard and some new tattoos. They had a third guitarist this time, which is kinda over-kill for me, but you do get that big thick wall of sound. As usual, his voice was silky smooth, and I've always wondered what reverb effect he uses (maybe lexicon?). They played a couple of new songs from an album that is coming out in October, which were nice, so we have that to look forward to. He also played "Part One," which was the hi-lite of the show for me. Actually, I like their ballads more than their rockers (cuz I'm a wuss), and I've never seen them play my absolute fav "St. Augustine" live (although i keep requesting it), maybe it just doesn't rock enough to play live, or maybe the finger picking is too hard. Play it dammit! Next time...

Openers The Annuals, played an enthusiastic set of uptempo melodic indie rock. I know that's a generic description, but they're kinda hard to completely pin down. They've got a great front man, lotsa energy and stage presence, and he's got a pretty good scream. Their lead guitarist had some impressive solos. Their bassist looks like Flea. I don't know if that's good of bad. They use two drummers at times, and they have a long-haired girl on Keys (but you can't see her face because her hair covers it completely when she plays, it's kinda spooky and kinda awesome). I'd never seen them before and for some reason I thought they were all going to be in their 30's and lame, but lo-and-behold they're younger than me (ugh, I'm such an old fart! -- it's all in your mind ghory...) But yes, I recommend them. Better live, than on the album. Blah, Blah, Blah. They may need some more time to develop, but their next album should be interesting...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Matt and Kim, Elvis Perkins, Voxtrot, etc. @ Siren Music Festival on Coney Island, July 21, 2007

For me, Matt and Kim stole the show yesterday at the Siren Music Festival on Coney Island, although I didn't get to see Dr. Dog, We Are Scientists, or the New York Dolls, who were on the main stage, which I don't prefer in general (too crowded), and I was busy spending half the day lying on the beach with friends, working on my burn, for which I have no regrets -- it's amazing what a couple of hours on the beach with some beer can do to your mood :)

Matt and Kim play like synth-punk, with indie-rock vocals on top. Really they were in top form, overjoyed to be playing in their hometown of Brooklyn to such a large and enthusiastic crowd. They killed it (to use their own oft-used phrase). And I loved the story Matt told about when he went to summer camp and the kid in the bunk above him was chewing on a glow stick and it broke in his mouth and Matt woke up to what he thought were neon bugs crawling all over him and then he looked up and his bunk mate had neon bugs all inside his mouth and he freaked out (ewwwww!). Lotsa fun.

I also saw Elvis Perkins with his band Dearland who played a nice set of intimate folk waltzes. And while I might be reprimanded for liking them (because they're not the latest greatest art-punk-"it" band), it's still nice to be able to sometimes see a band and actually know the songs and occasionally sing along. Plus their album is good on a quiet evening when you're down on your luck.
PS. Voxtrot played their usual enthusiastic set, although they seemed a little tired, which is understandable given that they've been touring like madmen for the last 2 months and this was their last show in the states for a spell.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Besnard Lakes, Les Savy Fav, Land of Talk @ Citysol Festival, July 14th 2007

I got to the free Citysol Festival a little late after randomly watching Talladega Nights and drinking some home-made white wine Sangria with Steve-o and Shannon, so I missed the O'Death set (which is usually a good time). But I made it to see The Besnard Lakes, who surprised me with a killer live set. I just love seeing bands for the first time when it is really good. You never forget it. They played like a down-tempo psych-fuzz-rock set with harmonized falsetto vocals, real sunny and nice. They're definitely another great product out of Montreal which says something about that town.
Their friends (also from Montreal), Land of Talk, had their usual enjoyable set. I sort of zoned out for some of it (i have seen them a couple of times), but there is always like one or two LOT songs that grab you and make you realize why you like them so much and keep coming back. And they've got nice t-shirts...

Les Savy Fav destroyed it as usual. It's starting to become a nyc summer tradition. Their lead singer is always ridiculous and just oozes energy and charisma. I liked when he took a gatorade bucket and dumped it on the front row like they won the super bowl (or the "super-b" as he calls it). And it looks like they're coming out with a new full-length soon, their first one in over 6 years! I've got a feeling it's gonna be bananas. Check out the track, "What Would Wolves Do" that was leaked on Pitchfork. If that doesn't make you do "the hipster shake", i don't know what will.

Menomena @ South Street Seaport, July 13th, 2007

Menomena is, well... phenomenal. I hadn't realized that all those instruments and sounds from their album were being played by just three musicians! (I swear it sounds like they've got a whole gaggle of musicians up there). They played an excellent set, with a few songs that I didn't recognize, but which followed in their now well developed musical style (aka. damn catchy), so I was pleased. Geez, I bet they would sound even better in a small club, next time...

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Sunny Day In Glasgow W/ Arbor Day @ Cakeshop July 6th, 2007

I got an email from my friends in Arbor Day about their upcoming show at Cakeshop, and when I learned that they were opening for A Sunny Day In Glasgow, I was like, "WHAAA!?!? How could I not know about this??" Clearly, I am not on top of my calender... Anyway, I timed it perfectly so that I could watch Arbor Day's set, skip over to Joey's B-day bash at the bar around the corner for an hour (happy birthday joey!), and then make it back later for Glasgow, which is what went down to a T.
Arbor Day has always been solid show, playing ridiculously well-crafted pop music, that tips its hat to the Beatles circa Rubber Soul (back when they had horns, but not quite full-on psychedelic yet). The only thing I think was missing from the band was a George Harrison type (lead guitar, background vocals) and I kept on thinking up perfect background lines and melodies during their set and was seriously considering asking them if they needed another dude in the band, and maybe i will someday, but i digress...

Glasgow Photo courtesy of AskMeAboutMyInvisibleFriends

...I got back from Joey's just as Glasgow was starting their first song and the place was packed. I muscled my way up front and found some empty space stage right (cakeshop doesn't really have a stage, it's all one long basement with a bar, so I was literally like 5 feet from the band for the whole show =) My first reaction was complete surprise. Was this the same band?!? I was expecting some lo-fi, heavily-effected ambient electronica, like on their excellent album "scribble mural comic journal." But lo-and-behold, they ROCK! You may not realize it from their album, but their drummer is playing hard! And the majority of those multi-tap delay sounds (which sound even better live btw) come from their inventive guitarist (who coincidently looks exactly like my friend Grant). Seriously tho, everyone in the group was good. I liked how the bass player would drop out for a few bars and then come back in at the perfect time. And the singer was always melodic and laid back, just floating above the music. A lot of their song structure isn't the traditional verse-chorus-verse shit that is over emulated, which keeps it interesting... and I was really taken by how cool they were, like actually cool (some bands try to be cool (but usually fail miserably) and rarely is a band both cool and good, but they pulled it off, and without any attitude! Fuck, maybe I should move to Philly, a lot of my favorite new bands have been coming outta there...