Sunday, May 15, 2005

Show reviews (many that I should've written long ago)

Yes I know that I haven't updated this thing in a while and I'm really sorry about that (yes, I know my 5 or so loyal readers were just clamoring for new material on this site with bated breath, but anyway...). So let's get down to business, from most recent first:

Gold Streets @ The Pussycat Lounge 5/13/05
At their 1st show after the recording of their 1st ep, which will be out in 2 weeks or so and just in time for their 1st tour, Gold Streets once again packed this venue (honestly, I felt really bad for the next band, a Yeah Yeah Yeahs-wannabe group who barely had 2 people watching them!) and played a stellar set. Despite a few sound difficulties early on, they really rocked the hizz-ouse and are evolving into a great outfit reminiscent of an early '90s shoegazer band who just happened to re-emerge now to kick out the jams and show the young'uns how it's done. I mean, honestly, you could put their songs onto a mix CD with Slowdive, Lush, Ride, Chapterhouse and others of that ilk and they would fit in perfectly! Well I think that this will be their last show at this venue because of sound issues and what not (it's also a weird place since there's a strip club below and it's the kind of place where they only have Coors on tap; yuck; the lounge on top of the club area is quite nice, though), but if that's the case, at least it was a good one and on the positive side, that means that I won't have any reason to go this venue any more as I much prefer the other places I've seen them at (The Delancey, the now sadly defunct Luna Lounge, Pianos, Siberia and others). Also, since it's in the Financial District, it's a real schlep to get there, though I wouldn't mind as much if I liked the place more.

"The New York Dolls" @ Irving Plaza 4/28/05

One of the highlights of last year's Little Steven's Underground Garage Festival was a short, 30-minute set by The Dolls with the same lineup that they had on this occasion. So you may be wondering why I put The New York Dolls in quotation marks. Well, the lineup for this show consisted of David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain and 3 others (though all good players; bass player Sami Yaffa, formerly of Hanoi Rocks and later Jet Boy in particular) that had nothing to do with The Dolls when they existed the first time around in the '70s, so in actuality, it should've been called "David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain with special guests play the music of the New York Dolls" and that would've been much more accurate. The set started off very tentatively, as if they weren't sure if they should be doing this, and they inexplicably played a version of the ubiquitous Janis Joplin hit "Piece of My Heart" for no good reason. Yeessh! Luckily, though, the set really picked up from that point. It took Johansen & co a good 30-45 minutes to really get going and to find that old sloppy magic (part of the problem I had with the early part of the set was that though the songs were played well, they were played a bit too well and the feel just wasn't quite there), but once they did (on the great 1st album track "Trash"), the intensity level REALLY picked up and from then on, songs like "Personality Crisis", "Jet Boy" and the rousing closer "Human Being" really made it feel like you were at Max's Kansas City in 1973 if you closed your eyes. So overall, for almost $50 with Ticketmaster fees, I think they overcharged and I don't think I'd see this lineup again, but I'm glad I saw them play a full set at least once, as it's the closest thing to seeing the Dolls that one can get in this day and age.

The Trashcan Sinatras 4/22/05 Southpaw, 4/23/05 in-store at Sound Fix, 4/24/05 at Maxwells
Although I went to visit my parents on the 23rd for the 1st night of Passover, I managed to catch 2 of the 3 area Trashcan Sinatras show as well as the in-store on Saturday afternoon (right before I had to leave to go visit my parents). The Southpaw show was excellent as me and my friend Sue were situated right up front. It was great to see them with a full-band again after last December's acoustic tour (which was incredible, so don't get me wrong). They seemed much more comfortable and in control than they did back in September at Bowery Ballroom and watching lead singer Frank Reader jump around and "rock out" (for lack of a better way of stating his stage moves) was awesome. A healthy mixture of songs from all 4 of their albums was played, with the focus of course being on their most recent (and best) album Weightlifting, but stalwarts from A Happy Pocket (such as my personal favorite "The Genius I Was"), I've Seen Everything (a rare rendition of the uncharacteristically heavy but great "One at a Time" being one of the highlights of the set and a great set closer to boot) and their 1st album Cake (a great rendition of "Obscurity Knocks") were almost trotted out, as was the entirely unexpected B-side gem "Stainless Stephen". As an additional note, I was able to procure a poster for the Southpaw show and the next day, at the in-store at Sound Fix (a great record store in Williamsburg with welcome and uncharacteristically friendly employees more than eager to talk about music and ask questions and answer your questions and make recommendations and what not), I got 3 of the band members to sign it, which was cool. Anyway, during the in-store, it was the acoustic lineup which is basically all of the band members except for bassist Davy Hughes, who was nevertheless on-hand watching the set. The set was about 30 minutes and focused mostly on songs from Weightlifting, but it was nice to get a rendition of "How Can I Apply?" as well as "Only Tongue Can Tell" (if memory serves).

The next day, I arrived early for the Maxwells show to interview Frank for The Big Takeover, the great magazine that I write for. I was a bit nervous since I hadn't interviewed anyone in a really long time (like more than a decade or so and that was for an old fanzine that I used to do when I was in high school and in college) and because I'd only written show reviews and transcribed interviews for the magazine before and hadn't as of yet interviewed anyone. Luckily, Frank was nice, talkative, intelligent and generally a great interview. The format of the interview was unique as well. We walked around Hoboken, where I lived for 4 years until last July, and I showed him the site of Frank Sinatra's birth place as well as my old apartment building and the beautiful and recently renovated Hoboken waterfront (where you can see breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline; boy I really hope that they don't build that proposed hotel there since that would obscure part of that view) as we walked all over the town, with my (well actually Jack's) tape recorder in hand recording our conversation. To be honest, I haven't had a chance to transcribe the interview yet since the issue it'll be in won't be out until December or so, but I'm quite confident that I got a great interview out of Frank.

Anyway, onto the show. It was a similar set to the one on Friday night, though there were a few songs not played on Friday (and vice versa) such as "Only Tongue Can Tell". One of the highlights was Frank's awesome melodica playing on the Weightlifting's "Trouble Sleeping" (actually not one of my favorites on the record but boy was it improved live!) . Oh and thanks to Frank for getting me on the guest list (and for doing the interview) and as always, thanks to Mark for driving me and Herb back to the PATH station. I think you should start charging us cab fare or something since you're our personal after-show valet back to the PATH from Maxwells as of late. :-)


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