Posts tagged ‘Joe’s Pub’

What I learned in 100 Days

May 5th, 2009

Here goes: the last and final “What I learned…” post. But this time, for the whole 100 days.

This is the most exciting time in music that I’ve ever experienced
And I grew with Motley Crue, Guns ‘n Roses, R.E.M. Metallica, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, U2, Public Enemy, N.W.A., Run DMC, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more. These are all legendary, amazing bands. But I’m telling you – right now this is the most exciting time in music. At least for my generation and those younger than me. Here’s why.

The old music model is broken, but that’s okay: the power has shifted to the artist. The Internet is killing majors, but fuck majors. You don’t need them. But bands need you, now more than ever. Bands may not make any money selling records, but they never did anyways. Fans have the power to keep music alive by simply going to see live music, buying merchandise (and yes, records) directly from bands. This has never been more true than ever before. Fans have direct access to more music than any other time in music.

Some might say there’s no quality control anymore. But fuck that. You are the quality controller. You decide. Any band that has access to a computer can record a song, put it on the Internet and let the people decide if it’s any good or not. That’s exciting because there’s more of it, and you can decide what’s worth your time.

Not only that, but look at the music itself. Take the genre of “indie rock” for example. Listen, I hate genre monikers like this (remember “alternative rock”?) but it’s exciting when one “genre” can be as diverse as to include bands like Belle & Sebastian, Matt and Kim, Sufjan Stevens, Feist and Blitzen Trapper, alongside Animal Collective, N.E.R.D., Kings of Leon, The Avett Brothers, Of Montreal, Bell Orchestre, Black Lips, Wolff, and Wilco.

The ’60s sounded like revolution. The ’70s sounded like rock and disco. The ’80s sounded like pop, new wave, DIY and glam. And the ’90s sounded like grunge and hip hop. So what does the ’00s sound like? All of the above and them some. And that’s pretty damn exciting

People like to see other people do things they couldn’t imagine themselves doing
People remained curious about this project from beginning to end. At first, I think they wanted to know about the music. Later when they asked me, “How’s the project coming?” I think what they really meant was, “How the hell are you still awake or alive or sane?

People like being a part of something
This goes for all the friends who joined me on the journey, the musicians, PR contacts, managers, etc who I met, plus the random people who emailed me and generous people who sent donations. When I started out, I hoped a lot of my friends would go to some shows with me, but I figured I’d do most of it alone. Boy was I wrong. Friends came out of the woodwork for this, and it was awesome.

I also tried to meet as many musicians as I could. I would approach them after their set to tell them what I was doing. About 98% of the time the response was really great. A few musicians blew me off, but fuck them. They were too self-involved anyhow, so who cares. I got to meet some great people. And they were as happy to be a part of it as I was to be doing it. See The Wrens entry for an example of how happy.

As you know I also took donations. These were not only a way to help me get through the 100 days, but for everyone to get involved and feel apart of the 100 days. Some were as small as $1, some got as big as $200 or $250, but I appreciated them all equally.

Finally, I was fortunate enough to get on a lot of guest lists. Sometimes that was a result of me unabashedly requesting it, but more often than not they were offered up by different contacts I made, or people who contacted me along the way. The generosity of PR folks, band members, band managers, label people and so on was helpful, humbling and appreciated.

The band (almost always) starts an hour after the venue says they will
Keep this in mind if you’re going to see a show in NYC, at the Bowery or Mercury for example. If they say the band goes on at 8pm, they actually go on around 9pm – or later. This is just how it is, at least in NY. Why? Alcohol.

Venues want to get you in and sell you as many overpriced drinks as they can before you notice that you’re waiting for the band to start. And they’ve gotten pretty good at timing it out. Which meant I got pretty good at timing when I needed to show up. Unless I wanted to see the opening bad, then I was screwed.

But, there are a few exceptions:

The “Early show”
These is the show before the show that’s scheduled to bring in the real crowd that night. The doors for these shows are usually at 6:30pm or 7:00pm, and the bands tend to start 30 minutes after they say they will.

Shows start on time in Europe. I learned this one the hard way when I missed Ben Lee at La Fleche d’Or. But it wasn’t just France. Shows in England started at or near the listed time, too. Just a word to the wise if you’re gonna see a show in Europe.

Random, unforeseen bullshit
You show up hoping to see the band that starts at 10pm only to find out that they pulled out and aren’t playing. Or their timeslot got swapped with the band at 9pm. Or the band that was supposed to play at 8pm didn’t show up, and so each band got bumped up an hour. All of these happened to me, and it pissed me off, but what can you do?

Beer is only as good as the tap it comes out of
I drank a lot of beer over 100 days, which is why I’m not drinking any for another month or two. But I didn’t do this for me. I did it for you, the readers. Ok, that’s what I tell myself. But either way, I did it, and now I’m here to report back.

Here is your guide to the best/worst beer taps in NYC: (from worst to best)

Mercury Lounge: Shitty
The PBR is the worst, but it’s also the cheapest, which makes it tempting. Don’t do it. It tastes and smells terrible. The Bud Light is ok, but I would step it up if you’re at the Merc.

Bowery Ballroom: Just ok
Stella isn’t bad here, but can be a bit average, and lose some of the sweetness it should have. And it’s $7, which is bullshit, so they should clean the taps and figure a way of making it worth the price.

Webster Hall: Not bad
Plastic cups suck, but the beer wasn’t bad.

Pianos: Pretty Good
I drank mostly PBR cans at Pianos, but the times that I drank from the tap, I got a Stella and it was pretty decent – mostly because it comes in a glass, not a plastic cup.

The Bell House: Good
Didn’t really drink too much from the tap here, the cans are too cheap ($4), but the one time I did, it was good.

Cake Shop: Good
The music room may be a dive, but the tap beer is good.

Rockwood Music Hall: Good
Pretty decent, but I’d suggest getting a glass of wine instead. They pour them pretty deep.

Music Hall of Williamsburg: Very good
Probably because it’s new, but all the beer I drank here was good.

Le Poisson Rouge: Very good
I hate the stupid mandatory 20% tip if you use your card at LPR, but it’s a new enough venue that the beers come out of the tap tasting delicious.

Joe’s Pub: Excellent
It’s a nicer and more expensive venue, so naturally, they care about their bar.

Going to shows alone isn’t as bad as it seems
Before this project, I would go see a band alone, but not that often. And I’d feel sorry for myself, and hate that I didn’t have anyone to talk to, and waaaaahh waaaaahh waaaaahh… Then I realized, seeing a band can be like seeing a movie. Once it begins, being alone is fine. You shouldn’t be talking during the music anyhow. Granted, some bands are a lot more fun to see with friends. But don’t let the fact that no one else wants to go keep you from going. Just go.

Get to know unknown bands
It’s only natural to want to blow off bands you’ve never heard of before. You’ve never heard them, so why would you care? That is, unless you need to see music every single night, like I did. And sometimes there’s a night where you don’t know who to see, so you have to pick a band at random – as I did. And you know what you’d find out? It’s worth taking chances on unknown bands.

Music will never cease to amaze me
The fact that I can find live music in downtown Hartford, CT on a random Monday night amazes me. How I can still see Les Paul, the 93-year old man who invented the solid body electric guitar, every Monday night, have him flick me off for a picture and meet him afterwards amazes me. The fact that I can be asked on stage to perform with a band that’s been together for over 20 years, to a sold out crowd in NYC amazes me. And the fact that I can see 100 consecutive days of live music and still love music amazes me.

Thanks for reading. Now do yourself a favor and go buy a ticket to see a band, right now.

3/20/09: Our Hit Parade @ Joe’s Pub (57/100)

March 21st, 2009

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Here’s a bit of free advice:

If you ever find yourself going to see 100 consecutive days of music, and a woman who kindly feeds your cat whenever you’re out of town happens to be and actress and cabaret singer who is performing in a show called Our Hit Parade, where actors sing and perform the top 10 hit songs of today, and you’re wondering whether you should go see something like that, do it. You’ll have a good time.

Due to the highly unlikely chance that said scenario happens to anyone else in this world, I will be kind enough to fill you in on what you would experience. Or at least, try my best. Because accurately describing what it’s like to see a man dance around with a fake penis dangling out of the fly of his jeans. Or, a woman strip half naked and prance around the club while singing a Miley Cyrus song, isn’t exactly easy. But I’ll try.

As mentioned above, one of tonight’s performers is a woman named Molly who kindly feeds my cat whenever I’m out of town. She emailed me to let me know about the show, and I’m glad she did because cabaret isn’t exactly my thing, so the odds of my finding about it was pretty slim.

I got to Joe’s Pub just before 10, and shortly after the show was under way. But first, here’s a bit of background might help. Our Hit Parade is a takeoff on a show from the 30s-50s called Your Hit Parade – where actors performed the top hits of the day. Same idea here, except this is more musical theater, and less serious.

They opened the evening by singing songs only from 1989, for some reason – somehow making “Like a Prayer”, “She Drives me Crazy”, “My prerogative” and other ‘89 hits work as one song. Afterwards, they announced the theme of the night: house fucking. Um, ok. Not sure what that has to do with anything…but I found out much later.

The first song, song #10, was performed by my friend Molly. She sang the Lady Gaga hit, “Just dance” dressed in what looked to me like a ’50s getup. I’m sure I got that wrong, since my references for things like this are usually pretty off, but that’s what it looked like to me.

Following her was the guy who started out the song in a pea coat, and ended up shirtless with a fake penis hanging out of his fly. After him was a duo with a guy playing an accordion, while a woman sang a hip hop song, complete with copious use of the word white people aren’t supposed to say, while acting out the lyrics with Barbie dolls. Hilarious and disturbing all at the same time

And on and on it went…until we got to the “house fucking” during song #4: a Miley Cyrus song sung by Bridget Everett. Turns out house fucking is not fucking in a house, but rather a condition that causes objective obsessives to want to actually fuck a house, I think. I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure out what that guy with the fake penis had to do with anything.

Anyhow, halfway through the Miley Cyrus song, Bridget was straddling a huge load-bearing pole, or shaft if you will (puns intended) – then stripping off her already see-through dress, and standing half naked in her bra and panties in the middle of Joe’s Pub. Umm…uhhh…ok.

Tough to top that performance. But that doesn’t meant they didn’t try. There was a man dressed in drag dancing around a balloon while another heavily tattooed man wearing a Speedo rode a bike upside down, twirling a hula hoop. And then a woman from the audience who pointed at the fur on her shirt and said, “A lot of people ask me how many animals had to die for my shirt. And I tell them, how many animals did I have to fuck to be able to afford it?”

The night was winding down, and we were finally to the #1 song: Carrie Underwood’s version of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.” Now this was funny considering I’d actually heard Motley Crue end their show the same way on Monday. Except, you know, it’s their song.

3/11/09: Holly Williams @ Joe’s Pub (48/100)

March 12th, 2009

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Wow, a 6:15pm show. Halleluiah. L’chaim. God bless America. Praise be to Allah. I’m cuckoo for cocoa puffs, and so on. Once again my boy Al Risi has come through with a winner, too. Holly Williams @ Joe’s Pub. Holly is the daughter of Hank Williams Jr, and therefore, the granddaughter of Hank Williams Sr. Meaning, she knows her some country & western music.

Al sprung the idea of this show at the Cursive show the night before. His good friend Andy, who heads up marketing at Lost Highway, was swinging in town for a quick trip and was going to the show. So Al called him up, got us in, grabbed a few other friends, and we all hit up the show at 6pm.

I’d never been to Joe’s Pub before. It’s a nice spot. Very civilized. A smaller venue where you sit down, have a server, can order food, the show starts on time. Like I said, civilized. We grabbed a nice booth right near the stage. Andy, his Lost Highway co-worker Tom, and their crew sat right behind us. The place was full for a 6:15p show. Which was weird, but cool. I mean, it’s weird for me to be out of work when the sun is still up in the first place. Add seeing a show on top of that and I feel like I’m in bizarro world all together.

A bizzaro world of awesomeness, mind you.

Holly sounded great. She’s got the pop/country thing going. Attractive, tall, blonde, with a great voice with a bit of a twang. She played some songs with a band, and some just her and her acoustic She told a tragic story about a car accident she and her sister were in, which she walked away from, but her sister has had to undergo 26 surgeries as a result – and she’s only 28 years old. So that’s “almost one surgery for every year of her life,” she said. Eek.

She finished up her set a bit after 7pm, and there I was: done for the day before Seinfeld reruns even come on (wtf?). But, the night was not over yet. As the place cleared out, Al and I met up with Andy, Tom and their crew for dinner, across the street from the venue at Indochine.

Interesting sighting right as we sat down. Padma Lakshmi, Top Chef host and former Mrs. Salman Rushdie, was having dinner right behind our table. And she looks even better in person. Obviously, she tastes a lot of food on Top Chef. So I was temped to say “I’ll have whatever she’s having.” But I didn’t. Because I’m not a tourist. But I did order the chicken stuffed with shittake mushrooms, and it was basically amazing.

After dinner, the Lost Highway guys wanted to shoot pool. So we walked down to a spot near my hood called SoHo Billiards. Which was solid because after living in the area for over 3 years, I had yet to check this place out.

Joe’s Pub: Check

Indochine: Check

SoHo Billiards: Check

Sleep: Um…later, I guess.

We shot pool. We talked music. Al and Andy used to work together at Universal back in the day. So they joked about the past. I know no one in their world, except them, but I do know that I love Lost Highway, and told Andy and Tom that. And it wasn’t just ass-kissing bullshit for the guys who sponsored the evening.

I told Andy how I grew up seeing The Jayhawks, and still love and miss those guys. How I used to see the bass player Marc Perlman bartending at Gluek’s in downtown Minneapolis during the lunch hour. Which never seemed right. This is someone I paid to play some of my favorite songs, not hand over my buffalo chicken sandwich. But hey, can’t blame him.

It was nice to meet and hang with guys at a record label I like and respect, and to know that the people behind it are as good as the bands they’re representing. Cheers to you guys at Lost Highway. Thanks so much for the great evening, and hope to see you again sometime soon (in NY or Nashville).