Saturday, January 22, 2005

If Not for the Hovering

Last Friday, I went to see Mission of Burma at Bowery Ballroom. I'd seen them once before, almost a year ago to the date, at Irving Plaza. That show was good, but there was something missing. Perhaps because I was standing too far back and perhaps because about half of their set was comprised of material that hadn't been released yet (last year's fantastic comeback album OnOffOn wasn't released until about 3 months after that show), but I didn't feel like I enjoyed the show as much as I should've.

However, last Friday night was a completely different experience. First off, me and my friend were standing pretty far up and close to the stage (but off on the right-hand side) for their 1st set (yeah they actually played 2 hour-long sets with a 15 minute break in between, much like a Broadway play or something a jam band would do) and this time, I knew all of the material that they played aside from 3 or 4 unreleased new ones that I hadn't heard before. There was something else, though. They were just "on" that night and you could tell that they were having a lot of fun. Plus, as my friend pointed out, they didn't seem like they'd quit almost 20 years beforehand and recently gotten back together since they were so "locked in" with each other. Granted, they've been playing together again now for about 3 years now, but they still play rather sporadically, so this is remarkable. At one point they brought a saxophonist on stage for a few songs to give them a cacophonous feel similar to some of the numbers on The Stooges' classic Funhouse. It was a great night all around and I'm glad that I was able to buy earplugs right before the Duane Reade nearby was about to close (of course, I forgot mine at home) since they were LOUD.

The following day, I saw The Dears at Mercury Lounge. It seems like they're getting some great press for No Cities Left both here in the U.S. (including in this very blog; ha ha) and abroad, so they may finally be getting the attention that they've deserved all along. It was just a completely different experience from the first time I saw them, which was last March at Maxwells. It was on a weeknight and about 10 people (including me and my friend Sara) decided to show up. Nevertheless, The Dears blew me away, putting on one of last year's best shows, so I was eager to catch them again. This time, however, the scenario was completely different. The show was sold out (the Mercury Lounge holds about 150 to 200 people) and on a Saturday night. Luckily, with the same lineup intact and playing most of the songs from No Cities Left, they didn't disappoint. Although the element of surprise wasn't there like it was for the first time I saw them (I had no idea what to expect at that point since I'd only heard a few mp3s), they were still great.

Last Tuesday night, my friend Norm's band Gold Streets played Luna Lounge and on an absolutely frigid Tuesday night, managed to draw a good 40 people. Plus, they absolutely rocked and showed that they've improved ten-fold since their demo and their first show several months ago at Siberia. They're playing again on March 5th at Pianos and then 4 nights later (that would be March 9th) at The Delancey as part of Death Disco. Be there or be, uh, somewhere else I guess.

And finally, last but not least, last night on an even more frigid Friday night in an overall extremely frigid week here in Manhattan, I went to see my friend Chris' band Joss at Pianos. They were terrific. Chris' drumming was sensational (the last drummer I saw who's as good as he is would have to be David Lovering of The Pixies, though they don't have too much in common stylistically). Think of the alt-country meets punk intensity vibe of The Meat Puppets with the dowtempo aspects of Morphine and the slinky spy-guitar riffs that Portishead used to sample on a regular basis (except that this is all organic) and you won't be too far off the mark. They were also nice enough to give out their CD "If Not for the Hovering" after the show. I'm listening to it now and while not as intense as their live show, it's still a really good downtempo treat. Check them out and tell 'em that I sent you.

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