February, 2009

2/19/09: Black Taxi @ Pianos (28/100)

February 20th, 2009

Picture 1 of 4

This was the first truly miserable experience of this project. It wasn’t Black Taxi. They were fine, I guess. A bit all over the place, jumping from funk, to rock, to prog, to blues/jazzy shit, to the singer using a trumpet, a glockenspiel, playing keys, a megaphone, wearing a top hat, hitting a drum slung around his neck (yes, another singer with drumsticks) and so on. It was the last night of their residency at Pianos, and a lot of the crowd seemed to be into it. But I don’t know. I just didn’t get it. Mostly it’s because I was just fucking exhausted. 

Before the show, I headed up to Times Square with some friends from work to check out Will Ferrell’s “You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush“.

img_11941

It was great: 90 minutes of Ferrell squeezing every last bit out of the best character he played on SNL. And doing it as well as ever before. It was a funny (yet, still somewhat depressing) journey down memory lane from the last eight years. From the moment he was lowered onto the stage, strapped to a guy who was dressed like a fighter pilot, to the moment he finished by drinking a Budweiser laying flat on his back on the stage – Ferrell was brilliant.

Again, a great show. But obviously, not a “band.” So I had to head straight down to Pianos for Black Taxi after it was over. Needless to say, none of my friends felt like putting in the extra effort.

Before the show, I was happy that my evening was going to time out perfectly since the Ferrell show went from 8-9:30pm, and Black Taxi was supposed to go on at 10pm. But then, with about 1/2 hour left in the Bush show, exhaustion hit me. I was wiped out, felt like shit and wanted nothing more than to just go home and curl up in bed. But no. I had to go to Pianos.

Damnit.

Luckily I caught the D express train from Rockefeller Center right away. Took that down to West 4th, walked right across the platform where an F was waiting, took it two stops to 2nd Ave – and I was on my way. I was desperately hoping that I would walk right into Pianos, the band would be playing their first song, the show would go by in a matter of seconds, and I would be home somewhat early (11-ish). That didn’t exactly happen, but close.  

When I got there, Black Taxi was on stage, but just setting up. The room wasn’t as packed as I’d seen it before, but it’s small in there, so it’s never super comfortable. And I’m sure I pissed a lot of people off by not checking my big ass coat, and slinging it over my messenger bag – basically taking up enough space for 2 people. But fuck it. They’re on my turf. I do this shit every day.

The show began after a slow set up. I knew basically nothing about this band going in. I listened to some of the tracks on their myspace page, and the track “Wanted Man” is pretty solid. But also misleading, since not much of the rest of their stuff sounds like that. That song makes them sound like some Kings of Leon-inspired band. But that’s where the comparison ends.

Between my exhaustion, a headache that was getting worse with every bit of microphone feedback (and there was a lot), and how disjointed a lot of Black Taxi’s songs were – this show just didn’t make sense to me. It didn’t compute. Black Taxi were definitely trying to sell it though. But I couldn’t wait for it to be over so I could leave, and go home and write this when I should be sleeping. Oh yea, I should be sleeping. I think I’ll go do that right now. 

Bye bye.

2/18/09: Sam Roberts Band w/Mother Mother @ Bowery Ballroom (27/100)

February 19th, 2009

Picture 1 of 5

This was a big day for the 100 Bands project.

Had my first bit of real press, “Seeing 100 Bands in 100 Days” by Foster Kamer, on Blackbook mag online (thanks again, Foster). Which resulted in the biggest day of traffic for the site. Blitzen Trapper is now following my Twitter (I added them, they added me). I talked to some people about starting to do a weekly radio show about the project for WK Radio (radio.wk.com). And the Sam Roberts Band and Mother Mother blew the roof off Bowery Ballroom. 

Day 27 = a good day

My friend Dan shot me an email a few weeks ago after checking out the site. He saw the Mother Mother and Sam Roberts Band show in the Upcoming Shows section and wanted in. So he pulled the trigger, got the tickets, and tonight was the show. But first, I headed over to the design shop Dan started with his friend Andre - Dress code - to check out their office digs.We hung there for a bit and he showed me some of the work they’ve done. Really happy for these guys since opening their doors a couple years ago. Big ups. 

We quickly hit up a sandwich shop called Tiny’s for some pre-show grinders, and then made our way to the Bowery. Mother Mother (not to be confused with Mother/Father) was already on when we got there, so we quickly headed upstairs. I have to say, Mother Mother was a surprise. I thought they’d be some typical-looking indie rock band, but instead, I got some combo of that and the B-52s. Ryan, the lead singer, was sporting some pompadour/mohawk combo. Molly and Jasmin (keys/vox) were in matching black dresses. And Jeremy and Ali (rhythm section) looked like indie rock guys. I am not trying to make it a practice to comment on the “look” of bands. But when it’s part of their thing, it’s hard not to. Listen, I come from the Replacements mentality where a pair of jeans and a t-shirt are good enough…but whatever. Mother Mother looked great, and sounded better.

We caught most of their set, which was tight, solid and fun. But then it was time for the Sam Roberts band to hit the stage. And man did they hit it, with authority. I remember someone (a read of this blog I think) telling me that I was in for a treat with this show. Whoever you are, you were right. Sam Roberts brings it and brings it hard. The lights, the energy, the constant barrage of hard rocking songs. Man, what a show these guys put on. Neither Dan or I really knew what to expect from this show, and we were both pretty blown away. And the Bowery wasn’t even sold out that night.

Well, your loss if you weren’t at this show. But next time Sam Roberts rolls through town, grab a ticket and get ready for a great one.

2/17/09: Fujiya & Miyagi w/School of Seven Bells @ Le Poisson Rouge (26/100)

February 18th, 2009

Picture 1 of 6

Just another manic Tuesday.

A 10pm door time, an 11pm start time, a sold out Le Poisson Rouge, or rather, a completely oversold Le Poisson Rouge – we’re talking Great White kind of oversold. Julian Casablancas and his lovely wife Juliet Casablancas (Joslin) watching the show right next to me. All to see School of Seven Bells and Fujiya & Miyagi.

Like I said, just another manic Tuesday. 

This was a completely spontaneous show for me. I was lying around Monday, looking to fill up my week with shows when I came across this one. I don’t know if it was a late booking or what, because 24 hours before the show, there were still tickets. Then on the night of the show, it was a fucking madhouse. Tons of people waiting outside, hoping to get a ticket.

My ticket was waiting for me at will call, and my friend Ryan was walking over to meet me. He showed up, we got inside, and I thought the music would start shortly after. Boy was I wrong. In fact, School of Seven Bells didn’t get started until after 11pm – on a school night. Ryan and I grabbed a drink, got settled in and the place started to fill up like water in a bathtub. Ok, weird comparison. But seriously, the flow of people really was like rushing water. They just wouldn’t stop letting people in.

I had no idea School of Seven Bells was going to pack it in like this. But I guess the dude in the band is from the Secret Machines and the women are cute identical twins. Ok, that has nothing to do with their music, but it’s still true. So SOSB came, they played…they came and played a lot of songs that sounded the same. I have their record Alpinisms, and I like it, so don’t take this as a slam on them. It’s just that they started out strong, and then after about 30 or 40 minutes, it started to all sound the same. And they weren’t doing anything spectacular on stage either, so my interest started to wane.

I was ready for the Brits-playing-Krautrock who are Fujiya & Miyagi. And shortly after losing interest in SOSB, I got my wish. F&M came out strong. I have both of their records, but I’m ashamed to say, I don’t really know any of the songs well enough to comment on what they played. I just usually put it on and then do something else. Oh, well, I know the one where they whisper “Fujiya…Miyagi…Fujiya…Miyagi…” They played that one. Which was cool.

F&M were tight, angular, and precise. The crowd was jumping up and down, dancing and singing along. They had super interesting, Gondry-esque light projections on the walls behind them, and an unrelenting stamina to continually crank out song after precise song.

But all I was thinking was ”What the fuck am I doing?” It was 1:30am on a Tuesday. Yes, a Tuesday. I’ve been to 26 consecutive days of music and again I won’t be in bed until after 2am. I blame you, Le Poisson Rouge for booking such a late show. Ok, ok. I blame me. I didn’t have to come up with this insane binge gigging idea, now did I.

2/16/09: Anne Hampton Callaway @ Barnes & Noble, Lincoln Triangle (25/100)

February 17th, 2009

Picture 1 of 2

Tonight is the first truly significant night of this project: It’s my 25th day of consecutive live music. That’s right: 25 of 100, a quarter of the way there, 75% to go.

How do I feel? About the same. But that’s because I took it easy on myself tonight, and last night, really. Although, it is strange to think that Titus/Los Camp show was last night. It feels like 2 or 3 days ago. And that’s one more thing that scares me about this project – how a lot of the shows/bands/days are starting to just blend together. I can hardly remember who I saw last Monday, Tuesday, or Friday for that matter, unless I check the blog.

But I can remember tonight because it was a weird one. Weird, quick and free – mind you. How weird? Well, I went above 14th street, for starters. Took the D train Uptown to…wait for it…Barnes & Noble, Lincoln Triangle!

That’s right. I got fucking crazy tonight and went and saw music where books are sold. Forget the super hipster LES crowd. I spent this Monday night kicking it old school…literally…I was hanging with the Early Bird Special crowd. One 90-year old guy in front of me slept through the whole set, obviously dragged there by his lovely wife of 50+ years. He didn’t even wake up when the homeless guy behind me kept winding a disposable camera for whatever reason, causing the lady with fake orange-sprayed hair on my right to repeatedly shush him. Which only worked for about a minute, when he moved on to digging through a plastic bag, making even more noise. Ah, the joys of free entertainment with old people on the UWS. 

For those of you who don’t know (and I’m assuming that’s most, if not all, of you who read this blog), Anne Hampton Callaway is recognized as the only composer to have collaborated with Cole Porter, when she set her music to his posthumously discovered lyric, “I Gaze in Your Eyes”. Listen, I didn’t know that shit either until I saw her Wikipedia page. I wanted to know a little something about who I was seeing tonight. And she was pretty entertaining.

Callaway had more than a great voice. She was also funny. Like when she asked if there was any Callaway virgins in the audience, “You know, people who haven’t seen me, or slept with me…” She even threw in a Facebook joke at one point – which shot right over 98% of the crowd’s heads.  

Callaway was at B&N tonight to sing tracks off her new record At Last. Surprisingly that included the Fleetwood Mac song “Landslide,” which she sang alongside standards like “Over the Rainbow,” and the Etta James, title track “At Last.” Accompanying her was Ted Rosenthal on piano and Jay Leonhart. They were pretty solid. Especially Ted.

All in all, it was good to change it up, and it was a good show, for what it was. Maybe it was a bit of a weak way to hit a milestone 25th show. But, it did remind me that I wanted to buy Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.  Not that I bought it, but I wrote it down, and one day I will.  But, perhaps the best part of the show though was how it started at 6:10pm, was over with by 6:40pm, and I was back downtown, in my apartment, cooking dinner by 8pm.

Lovely.

2/15/09: Los Campesinos! w/Titus Andronicus (24/100)

February 16th, 2009

Picture 1 of 6

Me! Los Campesinos! Titus Andronicus! 

Sunday night shows are way better when you have Monday off. But this was far from Saturday part deux for me. I was drinking water. I felt old and lame (and totally okay with it), but it wasn’t just because of the water. Bowery Ballroom was teeming with the youth of America. Turns out, this was a 16+ show – and it was sold out. But first…

Me! Laundry! Errands! 

That’s what I did before the show tonight. Hells yeah, a nice lazy Sunday. No Magnolia though. I was hoping for a nice, easy Sunday night as well, but Titus Andronicus and Los Campesinos! wouldn’t have any part of that.

Me! Shoes! Sidewalk! 

I dragged my ass off the couch around 8:30 and popped over to the Bowery. I love the Bowery, not just because it sounds great, and it’s just the right size. But because it’s only three blocks from my apartment.

Me! Lauren! Foster! 

I met up with my friend Lauren from work at Bowery. She alerted me to the show, so props for that. I saw Los Camp last year at Bowery, and they were definitely worth seeing again. As I waited for Titus to open things up, another friend, Foster, sent me a text saying he was on his way. Sweet. Maybe this project won’t be as lonely as I imagined. I seem to be running into people at shows all the time.

Titus! Moshing! Green Day! 

The Titus set can be best summed up by their last song, a cover of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of your Life)” – seriously. This was their last show on their tour with Los Camp, and they were feeling a bit emotional about it. Listen: this is a fucking cheesy-ass song, no joke. But for some reason, it wasn’t a bad choice. I was hoping there was a touch of irony in them playing it, but they seemed really genuine. They meant it, and played in an anthemic way. Again, I feel old and lame…

As for the rest of the set before, this is a band to see live, for sure. (FYI: They sound nothing like their last song). The record sounds good, but doesn’t hold a match to their live set. Patrick Stickles, does his best Johnny Rotten, while the band thrashes. Titus was much better than I expected, and truly seemed to be having the time of their lives. 

You! Me! Waiting! 

Titus ended. Los Camp set up. I found Foster and his friend just a few people in front of me. As we waited, I mentioned a few trends I’ve noticed going to see bands every night. Here are a few hints…

Moshing! Crowd surfing! Singers with drumsticks! 

Read the Week #3 wrap up for more. 

Los Campesinos! Finally! Singing! 

They hit the stage and cranked out a few tracks from the new record, which I’m not as fond of as their first LP and EP before that. There are some good songs, but cover-to-cover, it falls a bit short for me. Honestly, these guys are twee as all hell, but that’s to be expected.

As the set continues, they work their way backwards from the new record, to the original EP. They hit all the crowd favorites, tell a story about a lost passport, say how much they love Titus, American audiences and so on. Titus’ Stickles runs on stage at one point, stage diving into the crowd, crawling his way back onto the stage, and then hugging Los Camp singer Gareth until they finish the song – not ever wanting to let go. A fitting end to the night considering how after Los Camp was done, and the band had left the stage, Stickles was still standing. Never wanting to go home. 

You! Me! Leaving!

Good night.

Week #3: What I’ve learned so far

February 16th, 2009

Trends/observations I’ve seen from going to see music every night for the last 24 days:

Moshing, Crowd surfing and Stage diving are back: It’s the 90s all over again. Not at every band, but these are all definitely back: from Los Campesinos to Ninjasonik. Is it because flannel is back, too? Discuss.

Playing from the crowd: I’ve seen a lot of bands, singers, guitar players, whoever, jumping into the crowd and playing/singing from there lately. This can go hand-in-hand with the above (The Answer, Los Camp, Titus, ), or it can be a more deliberate and precious move (like the RRA @ Pianos). But one thing is for sure: bands are literally connecting more with fans lately. 

Singers with drumsticks: Not sure why, but a lot of singers/frontmen are playing separate toms, snares, or just beating on the monitors, or their drummers’ cymbals.

Lots of keyboards: A lot of singers/frontmen/guitar players are dragging out keyboards and playing them. Whether for one song, or for the entire night. Not sure why they don’t just have a keyboard player. Just an observation.

(more to come if I remember them)

2/14/09: Harlem Shakes, Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers and Phil and the Osophers @ Southpaw (23/100)

February 15th, 2009

Picture 1 of 6

Crowded. Crowded. Crowded. That’s what you need to know about this show, right off the bat. Who knew that so many other people didn’t have dinner plans on Valentine’s Day? Or, I guess, plans after dinner since it was a late show (doors were at 10p). I was definitely surprised at how slammed Southpaw was for this show. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about getting in since the drummer in one of the bands put me on the guest list (thanks Kevin). Yes, my first official guest list, “I’m with the band” moment on this project. Let’s hope it’s not the last. 

I got to the club at 10:30ish, just in time to see Phil and the Osophers as they hit the stage. They are a fun, sparse, three-piece band with off-kilter indie pop songs that work at times, and could use some work at other times. They warmed up the crowd for Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers which I’m not going to spend any time writing about because I just didn’t get it. She plays a harmonium, which is cool. But that’s where it ended for me. Bleh. 

I was happy to have so many friends along for this show tonight since it’s way out in the middle of Park Slope – a long, long ways from Mulberry Street. (Ok, not really, but in NYC, anywhere outside of a 15 block radius of your neighborhood is a long, long ways)

When I planned on going to the show, I didn’t even really ask any friends to go since it was Valentine’s Day. But then my co-worker Allison said she, Crystal, Jolina and Lauren were all going. Then my friend Kris found me on IM and said he was going to tag along. And finally Jeremy hit me up on Facebook to let me know he was, too. Sweet. I have a music posse tonight. 

After Shilpa stopped squeezing her harmonium and screaming her head off, the music posse made its way downstairs to wait for the Harlem Shakes to hit the stage. I hadn’t seen the Shakes for a while, and I don’t remember being blown away by them then, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have their first EP, which isn’t bad. But now they have a new record coming out in March, so I’m looking forward to seeing where they have taken things.

And I was pleasantly surprised, because Harlem Shakes sounded really great tonight. Ok, I’m not being 100% honest if I don’t mention how, despite them sounding great, their sheer and utter hipster douchiness drove me a bit crazy. Just take one look at the pictures and you’ll see what I mean. There appears to be absolutely no irony in how they’ve styled themselves. Ok, maybe the lead singer wore sweater in honor of Valentine’s Day. But, I digress. Back to the music.

Like I said, Harlem Shakes sounded great. They’ve really come a long way since I last saw them (I can’t recall when that was exactly). Their songs are nice and full. The live sax and trumpet is a nice touch, and they just really sounded tight, polished and confident. I talked to the singer for a minute after the show, and he didn’t seem to feel one way or another about the project. Which is fine. Not everyone’s impressed with the journey. Or maybe he was just self-conscious about his silly red sweater and didn’t want to talk? I’d like to think it’s that one. Yea, I’m going with that.

2/13/09: String Bean and the Stalkers @ Hill Country (22/100)

February 14th, 2009

Picture 1 of 5

Too…full…to…write…right…now…

Hill Country is insane. Insanely good, and insanely bad. Good because of the food and atmosphere. Bad because it eliminates any ability to exercise self-control. I’m not sure it’s not actually a restaurant at all, but a test. A test in will power, manliness and what you can fit into your stomach in one sitting. Essentially, a test in how American you are. And by god, I was as American as all hell tonight. I ate the shit out of that place. We all did. Ryan, Lance and I each ordered enough food to feed a small family…and crushed almost all of it. Almost.

We had about “a 90% kill rate,” said Lance after we all sat back and finally put our forks down. True. And lucky for us, because I’m convinced that the last 10% might’ve killed us.

We ate more than we need to. We ate more than we should have. We ate more than I care to eat the rest of the weekend. All while String Bean and the Stalkers cranked out some sweet, sweet blues beside us.

Mission = Accomplished.

That was my plan for tonight. Ok, maybe not the eat yourself unconscious part, but I needed a break from the dark, hip, crowded rock clubs on the Lower East Side. I needed to sit down, eat some grub, chat with friends and listen to some free live music. Hill Country seemed the perfect place to do that. 

If they do one thing really well there, aside from the food, Hill Country helps you forget you’re in NYC. Especially when you’re sitting in the basement (where the stage is), with no windows to the outside world, hovered over 100 lbs of BBQ, while a blues band fills the room and you’re sucking down a cold Lone Star beer. You might as well be in Austin.  I’ve never been to Austin, but Lance has, and our waitress is from there – as is the owner of Hill Country. So I’ll take their word for it.

I guess what I’m saying is, this was a great escape from the reality of what I’ve been putting myself through for the last 22 days. And that’s all I needed tonight.

That and 1/4 lb of lean brisket, two pork ribs, one beef rib, green beans, baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, mashed sweet potatoes and a taste of Lance’s short rib. That’s all. No more, no less.

Most definitely, no more.

2/12/09: Lambchop @ Bowery Ballroom (21/100)

February 13th, 2009

Picture 1 of 5

Kurt Wagner is king.

He sits on his throne in the center of the stage, flanked by his band who comprise the rest of Lambchop, and spreads musical goodness. Lambchop’s music isn’t for everyone. Some might find it boring or uneventful. But I find it beautiful and comforting. So happy I went to this show. I don’t know why it was so good. It just was. 

There’s just something about Wagner’s unorthodox singing voice — like a cross between Bob Dylan (circa now) and Leonard Cohen (circa before) — and the Nashville influence/songwriting that just completely does it for me. The performance isn’t gong to make you jump up and dance. In fact, Bowery probably could’ve put out tables and chairs for this one. But it just works. 

Before the show, friends of mine and I ”celebrated” the dire conditions of our country’s economy with $3 beers at Emerald Pub. Then continued our “celebration” at Tom & Jerry’s after that. I slunk away around 9:30p to catch what I could of Twi the Humble Feather’s opening set. So by show time, I had already been out for like four hours. WTF? I swear, Thursdays are becoming very college-like for me. 

Twi (rhymes with why)  is an interesting, all-acoustic trio that has more in common with Philip Glass than early Animal Collective (as many try to compare them to) – at least according to one of the members of the band I spoke to at the merch table following their set (sorry if I wasn’t making any sense guys). They’re essentially three classical guitar players, playing in alternate tunings and singing in whispers. Ethereal and otherworldly. I, feeling otherworldly due to an abundance of beer and lack of food, totally got it. Not sure how how many others in crowd did.

Not that surprisingly, Bowery was fairly empty during the opening set, allowing me to get right up next to the stage, where I met some new friends for the evening. But I have to say, I thought the place would get packed and sell out for Lambchop since he doesn’t seem to play out that often – at least, not lately. But I don’t ever remember looking back and seeing it super packed. Hmph. Well, their loss – those not in attendance.

This was the show I’d been looking forward to all week. After a week filled with a faux French band, a hard rocking art-rock band and an uber hipster band, I was all fired up for this Nashville anomaly of a band. And as I have made it abundantly clear thus far, Wagner and Lambchop did not disappoint. After the show, I hung around as the place cleared out, and Wagner jumped down off the stage to head out for a post-show smoke. I caught up to him on his way out, introduced myself, told him about the project, and how I was on Day 21, to which he replied, in his Tennessee twang, “Well, then you’re just getting started.” 

(sigh)

Yeah, I know.

2/11/09: Lissy Trullie @ Mercury Lounge (20/100)

February 12th, 2009

Picture 1 of 6

I’m in love with Lissy Trullie and I don’t care who knows. She’s hot, can write a great song, covers Hot Chip, plays a mean Strat and has cool hair. She even sounds better live than on her EP - so she’s not a phony. 

This was definitely one of those shows where you felt in on something. There was an electricity. Lissy has been getting a lot of hype, and it was the EP release party, so I guess there’s that. And Lissy definitely attracts a fashionista/designer/model crowd – so there’s also that. I don’t know, it just felt to me like one of those shows when you see a band right before they’re about to get big. Not arena rock big, or That Thing You Do big. (Can that even happen anymore?) But you know what I’m saying. It reminded me of about a year or so ago when I saw The Dodos, also at the Mercury Lounge, sold out on a Tuesday. And the next thing I knew, they were everywhere. 

An oddball band named Linfinity was opening. I was actually looking forward to seeing them, and they didn’t disappoint. But, the thing is, you couldn’t get a band further away from Lissy. Linfinity was like a cross between the Arcade Fire and w/Neil Young. No, wait. That’s too literal. They were more like a cross between Deadwood and Carnivale. But they were solid. They took you to a creepy place. But a creepy place that was fun to visit. Plus, they gave away their EP for free. Respect.

Their set ended and I had step outside for some fresh air. It was about a billion degrees in there. On the way out, I ran into a co-worker of mine, Lindsay, who was there with a friend. So that’s cool, more people I know at a show. This journey might not be as lonesome as I imagined. 

The moment I stepped outside is when I realized the true representation of the hipster kingdom at the Merc tonight. The line to get in looked like a line outside a Martin Margiela tent in Bryant Park. I do recall Timeout NY writing that, “Andy Warhol would’ve loved Lissy Trullie.” So I guess that explains the hipper than thou crowd gathered tonight. Which is why I posted this on FB:

fb1

When is it not Fashion Week in NY? But I digress.

Lissy hit the stage a little after 11p to a sold out, shoulder-to-sweaty-shoulder crowd on a Wednesday  night. Good for her. The only downside I guess is that she doesn’t actually have enough songs to fill more than a 30-40 set. She banged through all her songs on her debut EP, and some others, and was wrapped up around 11:45p. She thanked her band, her management, friends, family, etc for all their support in getting the EP done.

And then she was gone.

I picked up a copy of her EP, and then so was I.