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.


Anonymous Your Skeeball Winnin' Girlfriend said...

You were off your game? Please. I'll hand you your ass anytime. I smell ANOTHER rematch headed your way.

3:12 PM

Anonymous J said...

"I just hope that J doesn't get mad at me and make me take them down."

No worries, no madness.

8:47 AM

Blogger japanesegodjesusrobot said...

Thanks J.

12:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

super cool **t-shirts**

8:28 AM


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