Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Here's a great little Halloween short story courtesy of Graham Parker. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Miiiiiiirman, Man from the Sea

Eugene Mirman @ Pianos 10/24/05
The 2nd night of a 2-night stand at the venerable Lower East Side venue Pianos, this show (well this residency) was unique because (like the night before) it was taped for a new album that'll be coming out on Sub Pop (who wisely signed Eugene to a record deal). Now for those of you who don't know, Eugene Mirman isn't a musician. He's a comedian (and a very funny one) and one who I'd been meaning to check out live for quite some time now since I'd first heard about him last year. I was particularly interested in him because his family background is quite similar to my own. Like me, he also emigrated here from the former Soviet Union in what is now Russia and came to the U.S. at a very young age (he came when he was 4 and a half and I came here when I was 5; this fact would lead me to believe that we're around the same age, too) and though we obviously took very different career paths (he's a stand-up comedian whereas I work in academia and teach), he also seems to have immersed himself in the same kind of music that I love as well. For instance, I've seen him out and about all over town and at shows, including a Robyn Hitchcock show at Southpaw back in March that I reviewed, and he's toured with Yo La Tengo and The Shins.

This last fact explains why all 3 members of Yo La Tengo were there last night along with Carl Newman from The New Pornographers. Opening the show and introducing Eugene was Todd Barry, who was also quite funny and then Eugene came on and just killed. I'm not really all that familiar with too much stand-up comedy, so I can't really compare him with other comedians, but he's certainly unique in terms of who I've seen and heard over the years in that genre. He has his own oddball style and perhaps that's why indie-rock bands and fans have gravitated towards him recently (me included). He's not particularly angry (in fact he's kind of laid back), but very ironic and observational (and occasionally very dirty but not so much so that it overwhelms the diversity of his act). For instance, last night his routine touched upon everything from letters that he wrote to nouns to describing his time at Hampshire College to ideas for reality TV shows such as naked bear wrestling.

Finally, if you wanna piss yourself laughing and if you wanna get odd looks thrown your way on the subway since you're giggling so hard, listen to his album The Absurd Nightclub Comedy of Eugene Mirman on your iPod or discman. It never fails to put me in a good mood and cheer me up and I can't wait for his Sub Pop debut.

When Cass was a sophomore she planned to go to Swarthmore

The Mountain Goats with The Prayer and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers @ Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA 10/22/05

It's no wonder that in the Mamas and Papas song "Creque Alley", Mama Cass changed her mind about attending Swarthmore College and instead headed to New York to join the then vibrant Greenwich Village folk scene. Maybe she knew something about the place that we sure didn't because although both of the acts that played were very good, the annoyance factor was through the roof. In all fairness, we probably shouldn't have attended this show since it was rainy and miserable out that night and since it was intended to be only for the kids at the college (they let us in anyway), but me and Anne both like the Mountain Goats and the college is conveniently located within only a 20 minute or so drive of her place, so we decided to do it.

When we first got there, there were hardly any people there and the openers (sorry I don't feel like typing their very long name again) then proceeded to play a rousing set of kinda non-descript but very good indie rock. Then the place started to fill up. Since we both had to go to the bathroom, we lost our spot and when we came back, the entire main part of the venue (which is tiny and resembled an old log cabin complete with a fireplace and everything) was filled up, so I had to watch from the hallway and Anne had to watch from the stairs, which was annoying.

To make matters worse, when John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats came out with just a bass player for accompaniment, certain members of the audience (some very drunk, including some kids drinking a mysterious blue drink and signing something incomprehensible in Spanish) insisted on talking through it, thus almost completely ruining my enjoyment of his delicate, confessional, mostly acoustic-based songs. Regardless, Darnielle soldiered on, bantering freely with the audience and telling stories such as the one about the first official Mountain Goats show in LA back in 1992, which happened to occur the same day the LA riots started. Many of the songs from their excellent new album The Sunset Tree were played as well as gems from the back catalog (which admittedly I'm mostly unfamiliar with). Towards the end of his set, the openers joined him for a short set as a full band, which was also quite good. This also continued into the encore, but at that point, the combination of the drunken, talkative college kids and the smoke filling the small venue just made both of us wanna hightail it out of there and we did just that, vowing to never attend a show there (or at another college) again.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

That's What They All Say

Graham Parker @ The Tin Angel Philadelphia, PA 10/21/05
First, a little background. GP is one of my favorite artists of all time and I've seen him perform more times than any other artist in the decade since I've become a fan. Like many fans, I got into him via an unhealthy obsession with Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson in my 2nd year of college that's lasted to this day, so I was a natural for GP fandom since he always got compared to both of them back in the late '70s when they all first started out. After getting Squeezing Out Sparks when I was 20, I proceeded to get his entire back catalog over the course of the next year or so and I never looked back, snapping up reissues, new albums and albums of previously unreleased material as much as I could.

Most of those times that I've seen him have been solo and while I've never seen him do a bad show, obviously some were better than others with a few being totally trascendent. I can easily put this show in that category since the sound was great, our view was great (as a side note, we got a table for having dinner there beforehand; while I liked the upstairs of the club as it's an ideal venue for singer-songwriters though it feels a little cramped as it's very narrow, I have to warn anyone who goes there not to eat there unless they're absolutely insistent on getting a table for the show since the food was very mediocre and to make matters worse, very overpriced. It's the kind of place that names its food with fancy names and takes advantage of the fact that it's in a nice neighborhood and that people are willing to fork over large amount of money to eat there, but in reality beneath the hype and the priciness, the food is soulless and tasteless; the Thai beef salad was in particular abysmal) and most importantly, GP was in fine voice and seems reinvigorated after a very good new album (his best in a decade) with the Figgs that came out back in June (Songs of No Consequence).

The setlist focused on his 1st 2 albums (including "That's What They All Say", "Silly Thing", "White Honey" and "Heat Treatment") along with 3 songs from 1979's landmark album Squeezing Out Sparks ("Waiting for the UFOs", "Passion is No Ordinary Word" and a rousing sing-a-long version of "Local Girls" with the crowd singing the chorus and providing backing vocals) along with new and unrecorded material (including the fantastic "Harridan of Yore", which recounts Al Franken's meeting with Barbara Bush; it got an enormous amount of audience applause for its hysterical lyrics and imagery) as well as a few songs from his most recent albums. These included "Did Everybody Just Get Old" and "Evil" from Songs of No Consequence as well as "Almost Thanksgiving Day" and "Things I've Never Said" from 2004's Your Country. After he played the latter, he admitted that he took the groove out of it from Neil Young's "Harvest" and proceeded to play a verse and a chorus from it as well as one from "The Needle and the Damage Done", which also illicted a great audience response. A few early '90s tunes made the cut as well, including "Weeping Statues" from 1991's masterwork Struck By Lightning and 2 songs ("Mr. Tender" and "Long Stem Rose") from 1992's Burning Questions.

The picture above was taken by Anne last night. This was her 1st GP show.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Do You Want To?

Franz Ferdinand and TV on the Radio @ The Theater at Madison Square Garden 10/17/05
Having seen Franz Ferdinand during their 1st US tour ever (at the tiny Mercury Lounge) 2 years ago and 4 subsequent times since then (in progressively bigger venues leading up to last year's show at Roseland), I was reluctant to go to this show since it's in such a large and frankly not very rock and roll type venue, but this is the only show that Franz Ferdinand is playing here since there were no small club shows announced or anything like that, so I decided to bite the bullet and buy a ticket for me and my friend Sara since I really wanted to see them again (it had been a year since I'd last seen them, after all) and since it would be my 1st chance to hear them perform songs on their quite good just released (and funnily-titled) 2nd album You Could Have It So Much Better with Franz Ferdinand. When we got to our seats, TV on the Radio were already playing. They were quite good (and the sound was very good, too) and much better than they were last month in Philadelphia, but it was still unfortunate to see them play to a crowd that, for the most part, didn't know or care about who they are and what they do. Well all I can say is fuck the MTV-watching sheep who'll only listen to what's spoonfed to them instead of seeking things out on their own. It's one of the reasons why I hate seeing shows in such large venues (though for a large venue, the Theater at MSG is quite nice). Then Franz Ferdinand came on and transported me to another place for an hour and made me forget about all of the doofuses that sat there stone-faced as TV on the Radio played their hearts out. They played pretty much all the songs on their excellent debut save for "Tell Her Tonight" and "Come on Home" as well as most of the offerings on their new one save for "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" (which I really wanted to hear; oh well). I don't know what else to say about them since pretty much everyone knows what they sound like by now except that they were great and that they filled the approximately 6,500 capacity theater with their sound quite nicely. They also had an enormous backdrop that changed from their 1st album logo to the cover of the new album to a shot of all 4 of them. If you have a chance, go see them before they start playing even larger venues!

PREVIOUSLY: My review of TV on the Radio's show with Deerhoof and The Roots in Philly
My list of the Best of 2004 (Franz Ferdinand's debut made #3 on the list)

Rehearsing My Choir

The Fiery Furnaces @ The Black Cat Washington, DC 10/15/05
First off, I have to thank Carolyn for putting us up on our weekend getaway to the suddenly (or was it always?) very hip and happening U-Street Corridor and Adams-Morgan sections of Washington, DC and making me feel at home. I hadn't met her before and she turned out to be quite a cool person and a good host. Second of all, The Black Cat is conveniently located within a few blocks of her apartment with the great Ethiopian restaurant (I wish I could remember the name; they gave us way too much bread, though) on U Street that we ate at right in between the 2 locales.

However, once we got inside, there was a really lame opener whose name I forgot. They feature the former lead singer of mid '90s buzz-band Jonathan Fire Eater, who I saw once back then. All I'll say about them is that they made me realize why I didn't like Jonathan Fire Eater back in the day (3/4 of JFA went on to become The Walkmen, who are quite good and much better than either JFA or this band that I'm talking about) and that they probably spent way too much time with a bottle of Old Granddad trying to capture the feeling of Exile on Main Street and not quite succeeding.

Onto the Fiery Furnaces, a perennial favorite band of mine. I was looking forward to seeing how their new songs would translate live and hopeful that they would actually play their songs in their entireties instead of going the medley route, which is what they've done the 3 previous times I've seen them in the last year or so. Luckily, they did and it was for the most part a real joy to hear songs from their 1st 2 albums played on their own (though some Blueberry Boat compositions were understandably shortened to fit in with the rest of the material), especially the fast ones like "I'm Gonna Run", which was played way faster than the recorded version, like most of the other songs on this evening. However, when they decided to play fast versions of their slower, more melodic numbers like "Two Fat Feet", it tended to drown out those songs' melodies and hooks and that was a shame. As for the new material, well most of it was played towards the beginning through the middle of the main set in a long 30-minute block. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't all that great, either. They could've had samples of their Grandmother (who handles lead vocal/story-telling duties on their about-to-be-released new album Rehearsing My Choir) along with some kind of backdrop and a Powerpoint presentation to get its point across. For those of you who haven't heard the album, it's not conventional pop/rock or even indie rock at all. It's more like a book on tape that needs to be listened to on headphones and even then it's confounding. The songs just don't work in the context of a regular show. That's just my opinion, of course, but I stand by it. Nevertheless, they were good as always and played with energy, passion, precision and heart and they also have to be one of the most gracious bands on the planet, too, politely thanking the audience after the set for listening. And their new drummer is a dynamo, too.

Now that I've reviewed the band's performance, no Black Cat review would be complete without saying that this is one of most poorly-ventilated clubs I've ever been in. I'm normally ok with smoky bars and clubs (though I don't smoke myself), but this was just too much. I liked the place a lot otherwise, but the ventilation issues almost ruined it for me. Carolyn and her roommate Erin, who attended the show with us, had to leave early (and I don't blame them) and Anne was hanging out in the back near one of the few vents, so I joined her about 2/3 of the way through the show and stayed there until the end of the night. It obscured my view, but at least I could breathe (kinda). Regardless, it was still a fun show in a different environment, but it was great to get some fresh air!

PREVIOUSLY: My review of The Fiery Furnaces @ Webster Hall back in April
My list of the Top 10 records of 2004 (Blueberry Boat made the list at #6)

The picture above was taken by Andy Scheffler and you can also see it here.

Sing Me Spanish Techno

The New Pornographers, Destroyer and Immaculate Machine @ The Trocadero Philadelphia, PA 10/14/05
After sitting through lackluster opening sets by Immaculate Machine (featuring AC Newman's long-lost niece Kathryn Calder, who's also playing with the New Pornographers now; can you say nepotism anyone?) and Destroyer (which features Dan Bejar, who's also a New Pornographers member) at the Troc's convenient upstairs seating area, we ventured downstairs to get a good view as the almighty headliners played with Neko Case and Dan Bejar possibly for the last time ever due to Neko's also prominent and rising solo career and subsequent touring schedule. Compared with seeing them in Brooklyn this past June, this show was different because of Neko's unmistakable vocals and presence (though Kathryn did a great job filling in for her back in June) and because it was in a small club, not an outdoor venue (Prospect Park Bandshell). With that said, I will echo the sentiment of Sad Stars in saying that it was a nice way to relive memories of a wonderful first date. :-) They played an assortment of songs from their 3 albums (all excellent, including the recently-released Twin Cinema, which will easily make my Top 10 of the year; it may be their best album thus far) with the only crucial song missing being "Letter from an Occupant". I was also hoping to hear their version of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" (I bet Neko could sing the shit out of that song), which they played here in New York the 2 nights before. Supposedly, the set here was longer, too, but regardless it was still a great show with the absolute highlight being the incredible Neko-sung "These are the Fables" (she transported me into a rapturous haze during the end of that song). Dan also came out and sang 3 of his songs included "Testament to Youth in Verse" and "Jackie Dressed in Cobras", another highlight from the awesome new album. Although Kathryn was onstage with them the entire night and singing backing vocals as well as playing keyboards, there's really no reason for her to be up there since Neko's touring with them now and since her voice is so overpowering, but I still found it weird that I could barely hear her vocals at all. I can only speculate as to what was up with that. Don't get me wrong, though. As I said before, she's a fine sub for Neko when she's not around and it's good to know that they'll continue to tour even if Neko's solo career prevents her from going out with them again.

PREVIOUSLY: Neko Case and Visqueen @ Bowery Ballroom on Valentine's Day

The photo above was taken by Daniel Harvey and can also be found here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Life Translated

Last Friday, I went to see the movie Life Translated at the ImaginAsian Theater. Along with Asian teen hearthrob Edison Chen, the movie stars actor Cary Woodworth, who's a good friend of my friend Asim. I really enjoyed the film (which was apparently a big hit with the teen set in China), though it definitely suffered a bit from faulty editing and a too-soon resolution that looked like they ran out of money towards the end.

Regardless, though, it features fine acting and a very memorable and emotional script that will appeal to anyone who's ever been teenage, awkward and having to fend for yourself while you're far away from home. After the screening, Woodworth and co-star Jennifer Li (the script of the movie was based on her autobiographical novel addressed questions from the audience and signed autographs afterwards.

Love The Cup (or How The Rosebuds Stole My Seat at Sound Fix)

Sons and Daughters & The Rosebuds @ North Six 10/8/05 and Sons & Daughters @ Sound Fix (also 10/8/05)

Yes ladies and gentlemen. You read that correctly. Not just one, but 2 Sons and Daughters shows on one very rainy day. First up was the in-store at 4 PM, which was held at Sound Fix, one of my favorite record stores in the entire area. They played for about 30 minutes and were really tight, focusing on material from the just released and excellent full-length The Repulsion Box along with "Johnny Cash" from their ep Love the Cup.

Something really funny happened while they were playing, though. Right before they went on, I went to get some coffee and snacks for Anne, who held down the fort (i.e. our seats up front) or so I thought. As it turns out, 2 of the members of The Rosebuds, who we would see later on that night at North Six (more below), stole my seat. Well that wasn't exactly true. Truth be told, there was enough room for both of them as well as me and Anne, but they still stole my seat. I wasn't mad or anything, though, in case you're wondering. It was just funny because after Sons and Daughters had finished playing, I told Anne that we should go see them later on that night because I'd really enjoyed the short set and I also knew that she liked The Rosebuds and when I mentioned them, she said that they were sitting right there and she told me to be quiet since she didn't wanna embarass them. Up to that point, I had absolutely no idea what they looked like and that they'd taken my seat, so that was pretty funny.

By the time we got to North Six, we'd missed the opening band Eiffel Tower and there was so much rain on the BQE as we were driving that part of it was a bit flooded (though we were able to get through it ok) and visibility was low. By the time we got there and entered the venue, we were just happy to be in a dry place. Luckily, it was just in time for The Rosebuds' set. I'd never heard them before and fortunately they were awesome. They were like a mixture of late '80s/early '90s indie rock with flashes of rockabilly and roots music. They have no bass player, just an adorable husband/wife duo on guitar/vocals and keyboards, respectively, as well as an awesome drummer. At times they reminded me of everything from Sonic Youth to The Flat Duo Jets and if you can imagine a poppier crossroads between the two, then you'll have some idea of what they're like.

And then Sons and Daughters came on and despite numerous technical difficulties throughout their set having to do with the bass amp being broken, they still put on a spirited set that lasted for about an hour and though I'd just seen them hours before, I really like the new album and it was a joy to hear them run through most of it along with more older material from Love the Cup. They've definitely improved a bit since I last saw them open for Franz Ferdinand at Webster Hall last year. Their sound is unique as well. They take a healthy '50s rockabilly/Bo Diddley-beat obsessed guitarist/backing vocalist (Scott) and add lead vocalist Adele, who at times can wail like Poly Styrene from The X-Ray Spex, and the mix of their harmonies at times resembles Exene Cervenka and John Doe's harmonies in X. Throw in some Franz Ferdinand-like post-punk, an old-school country-like preoccupation with death in their lyrics and melodies that at times recall Irish greats like The Pogues and you only hint at the sound of this unique band.

PREVIOUSLY: The Trashcan Sinatras played an in-store at Sound Fix back in April along with some other show reviews in that same post.

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Good Idea

Bob Mould @ Irving Plaza 10/5/05
In a word, this show was great. For the first time in many years, Bob Mould went out on tour with a full band (including Brendan Canty of Fugazi on drums!) and along with the requisite 5-6 numbers from his excellent new full-length Body of Song, they played 7 songs from Sugar's Copper Blue and a mini-set of about 5 Husker Du songs, all at a really loud volume (I'm glad I brought my earplugs!). One of the highlights was an excellent version of "High Fidelity" from the new one. It's a song that I first heard Bob perform live when I saw him play a solo show at my college back in 1997.

Of course, new songs and solo material weren't the reasons that I bought the ticket, however. All of the Sugar songs aside from "A Good Idea" (which just sounded off; it was the only misstep of the night aside from his solo college-radio hit "See A Little Light", which is a great song but it doesn't work with a full band) absolutely rocked and the Husker Du songs did as well, though most of them were played at breakneck, almost thrashy speeds that were faster than the respective recorded versions. With that said, it was still great to see them play this material, which included "Chartered Trips", "Could You Be the One", live favorite "Celebrated Summer" and the uncharacteristically (for Husker Du) brooding, slow, breakup ballad "Hardly Getting Over It". The crowd (myself included) enjoyed it immensely and it was definitely by far the higlight of the night for me. And even better, for the last song of the 2nd encore, he finished the night off with "Makes No Sense at All" from 1985's incredible Flip Your Wig. What a fitting end to a great night!

Oh, the above picture was taken from Chrome Waves, who went to the Toronto show. Check it out. It's a great site.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Across the Narrows Day 2

Me and Anne went to day 2 of the Across the Narrows festival, which was held for 2 days at 2 minor-league ballparks, Keyspan Park in Coney Island (home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, a Mets minor-league team) and Richmond Park, home of the Staten Island Yankees (obviously a Yankees minor-league team) play. Since we had to pick one over the other as they were going on at the same time, we went for the Brooklyn show since the lineup was far stronger.

Since this was our 2nd weekend in a row at Keyspan Park in Coney Island, a pre-show trip to the always awesome Totonno's pizza was mandatory and luckily, this time we didn't have to wait at all for a table and our pizza came out relatively quickly as well. While the pie wasn't as scrumptuous as the unbelievable one we had the previous Saturday, it was still top-notch.

After that, I got my ass handed to me in skeeball (admittedly I was a bit off my game on this day) and by that time, The Raveonettes were about to go on, so we entered the park. Although they only got to play for about 40 minutes or so (they were running a bit late with the set times, so they couldn't finish their encore) and their new album is a bit underwhelming (though truthfully I should spend more time with it), they still brought it and played an enjoyable set. It was good getting to see them play more after seeing what amounted to a teaser (they only played 2 songs) at last year's Underground Garage Festival. The set was a good mix of tunes from their new one Pretty in Black like the great single "Love in a Trashcan", their rendition of the girl-group classic "My Boyfriend's Back" (one drawback was that while the studio version features the song's trademark harmony and backing vocals that are reminscent of the 1963 original by The Angels, they couldn't replicate it live so they relied on a tape) and others along with old favorites like the Jesus and Mary Chain-ish "The Great Love Sound" and "Heartbreak Stroll" (both from their absolutely excellent 2003 debut full-length Chain Gang of Love) as well as "Attack of the Ghost Riders", the Suicide (the band)-referencing track from their debut ep Whip It On.

The Polyphonic Spree came on next. They consist of 26 members all of whom wear church robes and many of whom are merely backup singers, though the core band is composed of a singer, guitar player, bassist, keyboardist and drummer. Because of the matching robes, it feels like you're watching a cult and I joked about it, though obviously they're not. Honestly, though they do what they do reasonably well, they're just not my thing. The singer's voice reminds me of Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, but they're just repetitive and I think their shtick is a bit too forced for my taste. I need some minor keys to break up that major-key, happy-go-lucky overdose. Check out this photo:

After that, Belle and Sebastian took the stage as the venue began to fill up, though even by the end of the day, it was still far from sold out. Yet as Anne said in her review (which you can read here, incidentally), this made getting around and finding a spot close to the stage easier and it also meant that there was no line at Totonno's as well, so I certainly wasn't complaining! Anyhow, lead singer/songwriter/guitarist and baseball aficionado (he was taking practice swings on stage) Stuart Murdoch came out in a Mets t-shirt and for that alone, he won me over. I should explain at this point that I've been a Mets fan ever since I was 9. It also didn't hurt, however, that unlike their underwhelming performance at Hammerstein Ballroom back in May 2002 (the only other time that I'd seen them previously), they put on a fantastic show. They played a bunch of new songs, which all sounded fantastic, but most of the set consisted of oldies ranging from "Me and the Major" from 1997's masterpiece If You're Feeling Sinister to the title track of 1998's disappointing The Boy with the Arab Strap to "The Wrong Girl" (from 2000's underappreciated Fold Your Hands Child, You Look Like a Peasant) to a few songs from 2003's excellent Dear Catastrophe Waitress including "I'm a Cuckoo" and "If You Find Yourself Caught in Love". The set ended gloriously with Sinister's "Judy and the Dream of Horses".

Here's a photo featuring Stuart and Sarah Martin (swoon):

Finally, as the day was drawing to a close, headliner Beck came on and for an hour and a half, he rocked the joint and showed why he's still a pivotal force over a decade after he burst upon the scene back in the mid '90s. He's a consummate showman, captivating the audience with a terrific set that focused on his new album Guero but also included plenty of oldies such as 3 songs from 1996's terrific Odelay and a totally stripped-down, acoustic version of "Tropicalia" from 1998's even better Mutations, not to mention the ubiquitous "Loser", his 1st hit and perhaps still his best-known song. It should be mentioned that his incredible backing band included several drummers and keyboardists (one of whom often danced and reminded me a lot of Bez from The Happy Mondays) and were absolutely on fire throughout the set. At one point, he had the members of Whirlwind Heat (whose set we missed earlier) come out and hold a gigantic boombox for one song and when he played an acoustic set featuring "Tropicalia" and some material from 2002's Sea Change, the band sat down and actually had dinner (I don't know what they served, though) and to conclude the dinner, they rattled their forks, knives and spoons and used them as percussion instruments on one song, which concluded the solo acoustic portion of the evening. It was a brilliant trick and it worked really well.

Here's a photo of Beck and friends holding up the boombox:

Furthermore, it should be added that throughout the day, footage from that day's simultaneously-running Staten Island show was shown between bands on the huge screen. Of all the acts that were shown (including footage of Tegan and Sara from the day before and The Lemonheads, Doves and Jet from that day's Staten Island show), only Doves were really captivating and made me wish that I could've seen their set.

Overall, despite the high ticket price (it was $55 just for a single concert) and long-ass trek to Coney Island, I had a really good time and after 2 consecutive weekends at Keyspan Park, I look forward to seeing more shows there as this place has become one of my favorite large concert venues in New York City as of late.

P.S. All of the photos were taken from Heartonastick. You can see many more pictures there. I just hope that J doesn't get mad at me and make me take them down. :-) You can read Heartonastick's full review of the show here.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Is It All Just a Master Plan?

Click here and you can decide for yourself and either way, I'll bet that you'll laugh your ass off at this (or perhaps cry, whatever the case may be).

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Great Expectations

New Model Army @ Southpaw 9/30/05
The openers (whose name I didn't catch) played a decent set of UK-inspired post-punk/shoegaze not unlike locals Longwave, though not quite as good. They definitely have a lot of potential and were much more enjoyable than many typical no-name openers, though.

Much like their previous trip here back in March (I saw the Maxwells show and they also played Southpaw the night before), New Model Army kicked ass and took no prisoners as they stormed through an hour and a half of their back catalog combined with 6 new songs from the just-released (and quite excellent, at least given what I heard at the show and aftewards when my friend played it for me in his car after he bought it) new album Carnival. Knowing only a few albums worth of their material, the parts of the set that were most pleasurable to me were the well-known and loved singles that they played during the 2nd half of their main set such as "No Rest", "51st State", "Here Comes the War" and "Poison Street" (played in the encore), but there was one song during the 1st half of the main set that absolutely killed because of the amazing drumming (I wish I knew the name of it; sigh).

It's just great to see a veteran band like NMA releasing new records and getting to tour the U.S. twice in one year (after not having played here with the full band for over 10 years) despite the public indifference and that's because of their hardcore fan base, who showed up in droves for last night's gig, dancing and singing along to virtually every song. It just reaffirms my faith that great music can exist without trends and can stand on its own merit as it gets passed down to fans from generation to generation and that's truly inspiring.

Apply Some Pressure

Maximo Park @ Bowery Ballroom 9/25/05
Openers Cloud Room were an ok UK band who at times reminded me of Franz Ferdinand, but otherwise didn't do much for me. I'll also say that I confuse them with Cloud Cult sometimes.

It was nice to see Maximo Park jumping in popularity from 2 sold-out nights at Tonic back in June to a sold-out gig at Bowery Ballroom in just a few short months. Their set was very similar to the one I saw at Tonic back in June. It covered all of their excellent debut album A Certain Trigger except for one song as well as a B-side ("Fear of Falling") and a few newer tracks, including one recently recorded for the War Child compilation. Again, the energy and enthusiasm of this band is boundless, as is their ability to write hooky, anthemic, heart-on-sleeve, early '80s inspired songs like "Going Missing" (the most recent single in the UK to become a well-deserved hit), "I Want You to Stay", "Limassol" (whatever that is) and others. If I have one complaint, and it's a minor one, but I really wish that keyboardist Lukas would stop doing those cheesy karate/kung-fu moves. It's really played out. Then again, it did let me practive my taekwondo moves after the show as I was making fun of him (in good fun, of course). During the encore, Lukas' keyboard broke, so they had to play "Going Missing" and their last song as a 4-piece and you know what, they still sounded great though the keyboard parts were obviously missed. Regardless, I highly recommend seeing this band if they come anywhere near you. They're fantastic and much better than the constant comparisons they get to other, more established UK bands playing this style of music.

As a final note, me and the girlfriend defintely had slightly different accounts of this show. I think she preferred Cloud Room. You can read her account of the show(as well as others shows including the Roots/TV On the Radio/Deerhoof bill that we saw a few weeks ago) here.

PREVIOUSLY: My review of Maximo Park @ Tonic back in June.

Thanks to Andrew Kendall for letting me use this picture.