Barack Rock | Music Hall of Williamsburg | 10.07.2008



"Thanks for letting a bunch of Limeys like us play your rally," said Scot and Greenpoint resident Alex Kapranos. "We only hope you'll invite us back for your victory party." It was a fun night in support of who many of us hope will be the next President of the United States. Downstairs the debate played on a projection screen and numerous LCD monitors to a packed crowd; upstairs bands got about four songs each, with comedic interruptions from Eugene Mirman, Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead, and Kumail Nanjiani.

Hands-down highlight was headliner Andrew Bird, who should play before all Obama functions — he's capable of swaying just about anyone to his side. On record, I find him a little precious but live he's much more rock while preserving that quirky quality that makes him special. Much violin, much whistling, much awesome.

Franz Ferdinand, playing a four-song warm-up to their show the next night at the same venue (which they last played in February 2004, the show that sent NYC into a tizzy), were loose, playing two songs off their debut ("Take Me Out," "Dark of the Matinee") and two new songs. Clearly having fun, they'll probably be in Impress Mode on Wednesday.

Additionally: Fiery Furnaces may have played all new songs, I didn't recognize an of them at least. Once again, they've reinvented themselves since last seeing them at MHOW last December. They're now organ-heavy, early '70s funk. I still marvel at Elanor's ability to memorize Fiery Furnaces insanely-verbose lyrics. 

Guster I have never cared about. They are pleasant and entirely inoffensive but not very interesting to these ears, which maybe explains why singer Adam Gardner told the crowd they'd received hate mail for playing this show. Clearly, and maybe not surprisingly, much of their fanbase just likes the nice tunes and don't realize they actually have an opinion on the world around them.  

The comedians winged it for the most part. Eugene Mirman showed highlights from his 23/6 trip to the RNC. Lizz Winstead was more clever than actually funny. And only Nanjiani made the crowd really laugh, though he was telling jokes about the NYC subway and The Goonies. Chunk trumps politics every time.

More photos from the event on my Flickr page.


  1. Haha, what? The Furnaces were playing old stuff… opened with My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found, and also played Straight Street, Blueberry Boat, and I'm Gonna Run.
    The last of those was on their first album, Gallowsbird's Bark, and the rest were off of Blueberry Boat.
    I just wished they played longer. Elanor looked pissed.
    Bird was good but obviously exhausted from playing earlier in the evening. Liked Franz Ferdinand, and I've never even heard of Guster before but I thought they were okay. Kind of like "Sky Blue Sky" era Wilco.
    Great writeup!

  2. Yeah, I'm not surprised about Guster getting hate mail. Most of their audience is stuck in Ambercrombie & Finch frat-land circa 1997, and most of them are probably Republicans (handed down from Dady's trust fund). People like me, who got turned onto the band by their last two decidedly more rock/quirky pop albums and are dedicated leftys (like the band members themselves), are definitely in the minority. I know it won't help their commercial fares, but I keep hoping each album they make will drive away more of that type of crowd.

  3. Kumail is definitely one of the funniest up and coming comedians out there. I saw him do that Goonies bit on Sunday at Union Hall, it was hilarious. He also showed up in a skit on SNL about 2 weeks ago that was one of the funnier things on the show (not saying much I know). Bird was great live on Monday.

  4. Yeah, the Furnaces even took the Meters' "Cissy Strut" and used it as the music for the "Blueberry Boat." They tend to play their songs differently every time.
    By the way, that's me in your Franz Ferdinand picture, taking a Franz Ferdinand picture on my cell phone, which accompanied my article in NY Magazine about the show. If you're interested:

  5. You are a moron…Guster is great! They play with great musicians…and are proactive…their fans might be young, but its the job of crabby older folks like you to make them understand they have an effect on the future. Your opinions suck, Your writing is drivel, and lacks any substance. Ive read through your posts, and I believe you write reviews only to have your little place on the net. Go back to whence you came. Please.

  6. Your post reminds me of the time I went to a show at Central Park Summerstage with Guster, Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright back in the summer of '04. It was a co-headlining thing, with each act headlining a different date of the tour. I can't remember if Rufus or Ben played first, but I remember it raining a little, adding to my general annoyance at being there with seemingly hundreds of Guster fans who mockingly chanted "Let's go Rufus" over and over again, clearly making fun of him. They seemed to be OK with Ben, though, and he was great that day. After that, though, I'd had enough of the crowd and the rain and went home before Guster even played. An ex-girlfriend was a bit of a fan and played some of their stuff for me and I didn't really dig it, so no big loss. It's clearly a case where the band is much more intelligent than segments of their audience. I remember them coming out during the end of Rufus' set and playing a song with him and being angry at the crowd's treatment of him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *