Crystal Stilts + Violens + Chairlift | 92y Tribeca | 10.11.2008

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This was the "soft opening" of 92Y's new cultural and arts center in Tribeca. Three of New York's most buzzed-about new bands played and we were allowed the wander around and explore the space, which includes a screening room (showing Anna Biller's faux cult film Viva and and genuine article, Santo Contra la Invasion de los Marcianos), a cafe, galleries and classrooms. The main draw was the very nice performance space with its swanky bar, nice lighting, well-lit stage and two giant support beams that will block the view of many during crowded performances. Despite that it wil be a nice place to see a show if they work out the kinks.

I was a little shocked there weren't more people there for this — it was free to get in and the lineup was kind of amazing, in a NYC up-and-comer kind of way. Lord knows I've written about Crystal Stilts enough, and Violens and Chairlift too. Most of the folks who might've attended were probably at that Diesel 30 extravaganza out in Red Hook. I'm going to guess there were maybe 150 attendees, many of whom seemed to be there just to check the place out.

The biggest problem of the night was the attrocious sound. All three bands featured keyboards prominently but apart from Chairlift you couldn't hear them at all. Crystal Stilts, playing in the most brightly lit stage of their career, still managed a great good show. The band are clearly loosening up — singer Brad, usually stoic with eyes closed, actually cracked a smile more than once. Violens suffered the most from the poor mix — Jorge Elbrecht's guitar was knock-you-back loud, overpowering everything else. Given the right sonics, Violens are amazing; tonight was more violence than violins.

Chairlift had the best sound but really should have played first. By the end of the evening people were talking more than paying attention and their ethereal, synthy sound (which I do really like but at times drifts perilously close to Enya territory), light on drums, just didn't hold the crowd's attention. Two girls standing in the front row next to us talked loudly enough to cause my friend Kelly to tell them to shut the hell up — and she's one of the nicest people I know! 

Anyway, a trial run like this is just the sort of thing a place like this needs, and certainly the sound seems like something that isn't a permanent problem (like those big-ass columns, shades of Tramps if you remember that place). They'll figure it out, and 92Y is a welcome addition to NYC's venues.

Chairlift | Tribeca Grand | 9.30.2008

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Chairlift's "Bruises" is being played 10 times nightly, if not more, on primetime television, but tonight at the Tribeca Grand the crowd acted as if they'd never heard it before, barely a head bobbing. "Must…not…admit… I…like…this…song!" The trio were celebrating the release of their great debut album, Does You Inspire You, full of Big '80s sonics (Kate Bush, Godley and Creme, Prefab Sprout) but undeniably charming songs. Singer Caroline Polachek has an expressive voice and nice presence, though the band isn't the most exiting you've ever seen. Chairlift are good, even if the sound tonight could've been better. (Some major distortion going on.) The set was frontloaded with the band's best songs — "Evident Utensil," "Garbage," "Territory," "Bruises" — buy they kept things engaging throughout, whether the crowd aknoweged it or not.

MP3: Chairlift – Garbage
(buy the CD or get it digitally)

And some tourdates hopefully near you:

Oct 3 SUNY Purchase     Purchase, New York
Oct 10 In-Store @ REWARD     Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Oct 18 Bowery Ballroom [w/ The Juan Maclean]     New York
Oct 21 CMJ – After The Jump @ Pianos     New York, New York
Oct 21 CMJ – NME @ The Annex     New York, New York
Oct 21 CMJ – The DELI @ Hiro Ballroom     New York, New York
Oct 22 CMJ – FADER Party     New York, New York
Oct 23 Bates University     Lewiston, Maine
Oct 24 Le National     Montreal, Quebec
Oct 25 Horseshoe Tavern     Toronto, Ontario
Oct 26 The Blind Pig    Ann Arbor, Michigan
Oct 27 Taylor University    Upland, Indiana
Oct 28 Bottom Lounge     Chicago, Illinois
Oct 29 Turner Hall Ballroom      Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Oct 30 Triple Rock Social Club     Minneapolis, Minnesota