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. =)