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I Saw the Future Yesterday: Blouse + Hospitality | Glasslands | 9.15.2011

18 Sep

Glasslands’ has this art instillation backdrop to the stage, a giant sea clouds made from tissue paper. With Christmas lights implanted, it looks like a snapshot of a fierce thunderstorm. It can make for striking photographs, but compliments some bands more than others. The clouds  fit with chilly UK act Still Corners so well they feature in their press photo.

Portland’s Blouse, who made their New York debut at the venue on Thursday, mine ’80s mope and ’90s shoegaze and those clouds seem like they brought them with them. (Not that you can tell from my crappy photo above.) The band — now expanded a trio to a five-piece — sounded fantastic. Guitarist Patrick Adams, armed with a Rickenbacker and a floorful of pedals, has studied the Chameleons and early U2 albums and gets that Big ’80s sound just right. And singer Charlie Hilton, dressed in a shiny black jumpsuit Charlene Tilton might’ve worn on Dynasty, complimented it with her sad/pretty vocals. Blouse are much more “rock” live than on their keyboard-heavy album due out on Captured Tracks next month, though if I’d been standing near the keyboardist and not the guitarist maybe I wouldn’t be saying that. Either way, it’s not to their detriment. More a storm than a cloudy day.

MP3: Blouse – Videotapes

Woven Bones (who now sound more like Felt than JAMC) were supposed to be on this bill but dropped out at the last minute and were subbed out by Sound Bites faves Hospitality, who were the odd band out on this bill that also included headliners Unkown Mortal Orchestra. It was a party crowd and Hospitality can be on the delicate side, but the band turned it up, taking it as a challenge. Hospitality can rock too, like on rediculously catchy “Right Profession” and the slowly building “All Day Today.” This is especially true now that Nathan Michael has switched from drums to guitar who brings a little music school skronk to the band which tempers out some of the band’s more delicate leanings.

Some of my friends told me after that they thought Hospitality played to long but I was into it. (I am also a proponent of the “all sets should be 25 minutes” philosophy though.) Mind you, I got slipped a copy of their debut album a couple weeks ago and have been listening to it pretty much nonstop. (Merge [!] is putting it out in January, it’s really really good.) So I knew all or most of the songs pretty well. They also have no bad songs, or at least don’t play them if they do, and are an extremely tight unit right now. They might’ve thrown in a P.Furs cover, though, to get this crowd’s attention a little more but I think they made a few converts. If you’re close enough to the stage to really watch them play, I don’t know how you can’t be impressed.

MP3:  Hospitality – Friends of Friends

 

Living on Chinese Indie Rock: Hedgehog | Bruar Falls | 9.4.2011

5 Sep

It was the well-deserved encore and the Bruar Falls crowd — heavily Asian, how often do you get bands from Beijing? — were bouncing around like crazy. A guy who’d been dancing the whole show jumped on stage and immediately didn’t seem to remember why he’d done it. He then tumbled into the drumkit and the amps, bringing Hedgehog‘s set to a crashing end. Turns out that dude was the band’s U.S. tour manager. Don’t let him drive the van guys!

This was the first night of Hedgehog’s stateside jaunt and the band took the stage invasion in stride. The trio may hail from halfway around the world but play a very American brand of indie rock, noisy and melodic, that would sound right at home on college radio. Not revolutionary, but enthusiams makes up for it. The band’s pint-sized drummer, Atom, looks like she is 11 but is no joke: she can whallop with the best of them, and is quite lithe on the band’s more textured songs.

MP3: Hedgehog – Wet Wild Dream

Hedgehog play Cake Shop tonight and leave NYC tomorrow to hook up with Xiu Xiu and New Orleans’ synthpop act Kindest Lines for a East Coast/Midwest tour. Provided their manager survives tonight’s show and gets them on the road, you can check out Hedgehog at a rock venue near you:

Hedgehog – 2011 Tour Dates
4-Sep at Bruar Falls, New York,NY
5-Sep Cake Shop, NYC
9-Sep Grey Eagle Tavern Asheville, NC
10-Sep Southern Charlottesville, VA
11-Sep Metro Gallery Baltimore, MD
12-Sep Altar Pittsburgh, PA 15222
13-Sep Redwood Art Space Plains, PA
14-Sep The Wadsworth Atheneum Hartford, CT 6
15-Sep The Haunt Ithaca, NY
16-Sep Mohawk Place Buffalo, NY
17-Sep Dubland Underground Rochester, NY
18-Sep Happy Dog Cleveland, OH
20-Sep Crofoot Ballroom – Pike Room Pontiac, MI
21-Sep Pyramid Scheme Grand Rapids, MI
22-Sep Zanzabar Louisville, KY
23-Sep Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati, OH
24-Sep Pygmalion Music Festival Champaign-Urbana, IL
6-9 Oct Culture Collide Festival , Los Angles , CA

 

Un, Deux, Trois, Cat! The Limiñanas + Gaz Gaz + The Gytters | Death by Audio | 8.17.2011

18 Aug

Death by Audio, one of Williamsburg’s longest running DIY spaces, is probably the perfect place to catch a couple French garage rock bands. It’s one of the few clubs in New York where you still leave smelling like an ashtray. I know it’s a stereotype but smoking and the French do pretty much go hand-in-hand. A lot more so than rock music and the French, though both The Limiñanas and Gaz Gaz proved that not all clichés hold true.

Mind you, both bands’ brand of rock n’ roll was as influenced by Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Dutronc as it was the Velvet Underground and The Seeds. It’s when French bands try to sound American that it falls flat like a bad soufflé. Here we got lyrics spoken in cigarette-scarred baritone, melodicas, and a new wave cool that cannot be faked.

This was a two car garage, different makes and models from the same manufacturer. Gaz Gaz were of the caveman beat / party rock variety, not afraid to have fun, even braking out kazoos for “Iodine Summer Dream.”

When their set ended, the band changed into all-black clothing and there was some instrument switching, and a minimal drumkit (kick, snare, tom) was brought to the front of the stage. Lio and Marie Limiñana joined the rest of them and morphed into The Limiñanas. I was a little worried they wouldn’t be able to follow Gaz Gaz’s high-energy set, but once everyone settled into The Limiñanas’ motorik groove, it all hypnotic effortless cool from there.

MP3: Gaz Gaz – Faster (buy it)
MP3: The  Limiñanas – Funeral Baby (buy it)

Both The Limiñanas and Gaz Gaz play again tonight in NYC at Cake Shop with fellow Trouble in Mind artist The Wrong Words. Go see this show! They also play Columbus, OH tomorrow (8/19) and Lafayette, MO on Saturday (8/20).

There were American bands on the bill too. The Gytters are have only played a handful of shows but have figured out their sound, a twangy take on ’90s indie rock. Southern-fried Sebadoh? Maybe. They’re pretty good. (And, full disclosure, they’re friends of mine.) In addition to their own very catchy songs, we got a slightly shambolic take on Squeeze’s “Up the Junction.”

MP3: The Gytters – Dialed In (more at Bandcamp)

It was around that point in The Gytters’ set when I couldn’t help but notice a woman behind me dancing up a storm. I turned around briefly and immediately did a double-take: it was Frances McDormand who had, apparently, wandered in off the street. Randomest celebrity sighting ever. (Popjew, who booked the show, has more on her blog.) Maybe she’d come from seeing Buck at nearby Indiescreen or maybe dinner at uberhip new restaurant Isa? Who can say, but she didn’t stick around for the French portion of the evening. Her loss.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Gruff Rhys | Knitting Factory | 5.18.2011

19 May

Gruff Rhys has a very distinctive “thankyouverymuch” Maybe not as classic as Peter Frampton’s, but it’s got its own charm, slowly slurring out the “thhhhhh” and then speeding through the “ankyouverymuch” like it was one syllable. It makes me smile every time he says it (which is after every song). Charming, self effacing, funny and slightly unintelligible…Gruff Rhys in a nutshell.

This was the first night of Gruff’s North American tour that will find him back in NYC in a month or so at Mercury Lounge on June 15. “This is the first night of our American tour. “It should be interesting to compare and contrast,” he mused. ” No vacant stares last night, though the smell of weed permeated Knitting Factory the second Gruff took the stage.

For previous tours the shaggy Super Furry Animals lead singer has usually truly played solo, with only a tableful of junkshop keyboards, turntables, metronomes as backing. For this tour, in support of his new album Hotel Shampoo, he brought along Gwynedd surf rock combo Y Niwl (“The Fog”) for backing and as openers. (They were great.) Which meant a louder show, though no less meandering or funny. Rhys is a showman at heart.

There were signs explaining the title “Conservation Conversation”; he taught the audience the first line of Hotel Shampoo closer “Rubble Rubble” so we’d recognize it and clap when it started, as “nobody makes it to the end of albums.” (Not true, Gruff!) He also indulged in his love of key changes with “Ni Yw Y Byd” which contains six of them. I dont’ quite love them as much as he does.

The set was a little front-loaded with hits: we got “Shark Ridden Waters,” “Candylion,” and “Sensations in the Dark” right off the bat, leaving the rest of the 90+ minute set with lesser-known, more mellow material. Though, really, there aren’t a lot of casual Gruff Rhys fans and the 100 or so who made it out in the rainy rain stayed the whole set and demanded an encore.

“We only have time for one more,” Gruff informed the disappointed audience (“THREE MORE!”). “It’s a ballad and it’s 15 minutes long.” At that point he donned a airline emergency vest and launched into “Skylon!,” the epic and awesome closing track from Candylion which tells a tale of love and terror at 20,000 feet. It’s not one second too long.

MP3: Gruff Rhys – Skylon! (buy it)

The best song on new album Hotel Shampoo is most certainly “Shark Ridden Waters,” which is based almost entirely around samples from “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” by obscure ’60s pop group The Cyrkle. It’s one of those tracks — like The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” or Jens Lekman’s “Black Cab” — where wholesale appropriation in the hands of someone clever and creative results in something strikingly original.

MP3: Gruff Rhys – Shark Ridden Waters (Buy it)
MP3: The Cyrkle – It Doesn’t Matter Anymore (Buy It)

Gruff returns to NYC on June 15 at Mercury Lounge, with Y Niwl, beards and blank stares. Sad to report they did not have the “Honey All Over” mugs at the merch table. (He also didn’t play that song either!) All dates on his North American tour are below.

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BNLX | The Rock Shop | 2.18.2011

22 Feb

BNLX
I took out my earplugs at one point during BNLX's roaring set, just to hear what it sounded like without them, which I instantly regretted. I knew it was going to be loud — they brought two giant Vox speakers with them, plus a big Fender amp — and could feel vibrations in my chest. But I didn't think it was going to be that loud. Ouch.*

Volume isn't just for punishment, though in the wrong hands it most certainly is. But sometimes you just can't achieve that clarity of sound, that particular strain of feedback, that shriiiiiiinnnnng you get from flicking the strings above the headnut, that tone…without cranking the amp. Ed Ackerman, a 20-year veteran guitar slinger of such Minneapolis bands as 27 Various and Polara, knows what he's doing. BNLX didn't just blow eardrums, they kinda blew minds. 

Despite Ackerson's pedigree, BNLX snuck out last year in a purposefully enigmatic way, releasing an EP every quarter, each one emblazoned with Neu!-esque cover art and press releases that read something like Paul Morley might've written for ZTT! in 1984. No band photos. You could only focus on the music: fuzz-and-drum-machine-fueled psych-kraut-postpunk that's not too far from The Raveonettes or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, spiked a wicked sense of humor, as well as Ackerson and his wife Ashley's complimentary vocals. This kind of music is just better turned all the way up.

So for being just two of them and a laptop, they made quite a racket at the Rock Shop. Normally I'm one to complain about bands using canned backing instead of a real drummer, but vintage drum machine sounds — right out of 1987, be it Jesus & Mary Chain or Age of Chance — are kind of integral to what BNLX are doing. With a stroboscopic lightshow (what, no smoke machines?) you didn't really need anyone else.

With little in the way of stage banter, the Ackersons ripped through a highlights selection of BNLX's "Year One Plan" (those first four EPs) plus a couple new ones from the new EP, which is part of the "First Year One Plan (extension one)." Another thing they do right is know when to get off stage. I wanted one more song, the way it should always be.

Bnlx_ep5 BNLX's merch table was the most affordable I've ever seen. EPs were $3 and t-shirts only $5. They had EP #5 for sale, which doesn't officially come out till next month. It might be their strongest yet. Kicking off with the Zepplinesque bomber "Burn the Boats," it then moves to snarky, snarling "Back in Your Hole," a well-done Smiths homage/parody called "Garbabe Strike" ("It's rubbish") and a seriously kick-ass cover of Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day." The latter you can hear on Wintry Mix Three. And you can check out another here:

MP3: BNLX – Burn the Boats

If this is the first you've heard of BNLX, you can do a quick catch-up as the band has made a six-track sampling of their first four EPs available as a free download from the Susstones website. The first three are all originals; the fourth all covers. Here' are a couple of choice cuts:

MP3: BNLX – Do Without
MP3: BNLXFrogger (Laissez les bon temps rouler)
MP3: BNLX – Blue and Gold
MP3: BNLX – When Doves Cry

You can buy the EPs straight from Susstones or from Emusic or iTunes.

*My ears were pretty much destroyed by early '90s shoegaze and the decade after where I refused to wear earplugs. Tinnitus is no fun, folks. Wear earplugs!

Gorillaz | Live on Letterman | 10.07.2010

8 Oct

Gorillaz

I've been to the Ed Sullivan Theatre three times now, and am always a little taken back by how small it is. They say the camera adds ten pounds but it must add depth of field too. So what I was imagining to be a fairly appropriate-sized place to see Damon Albarn's Gorillaz turned out to be pretty intimate. Only 400 seats in the whole place, balcony included.

As I type this, Gorillaz are playing Madison Square Garden, which holds more like 4000 for a concert. This was a special, invite-only deal that was being shot for the Live on Letterman web series. The band had played actual Letterman just an hour. The crowd was journalists, bloggers, contest winners and corporate types who get invited due to marketing type favors and such. So despite being such a small show for a band that has sold something like 15 million records, it was also a bit sterile. No booze. No going to the bathroom. Behave. 

Or so I thought. Once of the neat things about the show is…there's no stage to speak of. Which meant no real barrier between the band and the audience. After a projected animated intro (remember Jamie Hewlitt is one-third of the band), out saunters the group and right from the start of "Kids With Guns," Damon Albarn was prowling around, putting a foot up on the armrest of the front row, singing a foot from people's faces. 

The show was a cavalcade of guests. To start with, half The Clash are currently official Gorillaz members, with Paul Simenon (the epitome of cool, bass slung below his crotch) and Mick Jones (Captains hat pulled down to his nose) adding class and cool to the proceedings. But we got De La Soul, Little Dragon, Bobby Womack, and a few others who I didn't recognize for the eight-song, 45-minute set which trotted out all the hits. When the band broke out glam jam "Glitter Freeze" I actually got excited that Mark E. Smith might wobble out, but no dice.

The Ed Sullivan Theatre is famous for being on the cold side and it took a few songs to warm up the crowd. We started actually having fun with "Dirty Harry" as Albarn led the crowd through it's chant-a-long chorus. They smartly put the real fans up front — there were a lot of jersey-clad Brits who'd clearly had a pint or two before the show — and the positive vibes traveled back to the more fair-weather fans.

The show ended with "Clint Eastwood" and things actually got kind of wild. Albarn pulled a few fans onto the stage and suddenly it was open season for a stage invasion. The 30-something blonde in the business suit beside me, who talked loudly with a friend through half the set, didn't hesitate to run up there. I was surprised security let it happen and if you watch the video, you can see this tan-sweatered staffmember ask people to leave the stage, even though it was clear it made for good television. Or webcasts. Same thing anymore. Gorillaz are very 2.0.

Click through to watch the whole thing.

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Kelley Stoltz + Sonny & the Sunsets | Union Hall | 10.01.2010

8 Oct

Stoltz

Dear Sub Pop Records: Please put out a Fun with Kelley Stoltz On Stage album. I’m not kidding. Digital-only would be fine. I love Stoltz’s music, but the dude is seriously hilarious. He had everyone at Union Hall on Friday in stitches the whole time. Anecdotes, accents, one-liners…Stoltz is a master of them all. He would also make a good Color Commentator for baseball games, or some other role on television.

Of course he’s a great songwriter and performer too. To Dreamers is Stoltz’ fifth album (not counting Crokodials, the front-to-back redo of the first Bunnymen LP), and third for Sub Pop, and is his most polished collection of ’60s influenced pop yet. Mind you when I say “polished” we’re talking about a devout home taper, who works exclusively in analog. But the new album is full-on mid-fi, probably using a lot of the same equipment his heroes considered to be high fidelity back in the day.

Stoltz told some good stories about the new album. “Pinecone,” which has an undeniable Fred Neil/Harry Nilsson vibe to it, came from him trying to bring back the titular item from New Zealand and getting stopped at Customs. For “Fire Escape” he talked about an old apartment that had a wooden fire escape that the landlord liked to store old cardboard boxes underneath. It didn’t end well, though the story was hilarious. “This song, is about happier fire escape memories.” 

Good spirits all around thanks in part to the unique nature of this tour. Kelley is currently on the road with fellow Bay Area band Sonny & the Sunsets who doubled as Kelley’s backing band. And when Sonny played, Kelley was on drums. (He’s a good drummer, chalk up another skill.) You need a lot of camaraderie when everyone is doing double duty. Sonny and Kelley joked a lot on stage, the former more of a straight man to the latter’s setups and punchlines.

As to the music, both were pretty solid. I was a little disappointed with Stoltz’s setlist. We didn’t get “To Speak to the Girl” (my favorite off Circular Sounds) or the current single “I Don’t Get That,” which they eschewed in favor of that jam the incorporates both Lou Rawls “Groovy People” and Pharaoh Sanders’ “The Creator’s Got a Master Plan” which I’d seen him do before. But “Pinecone” was awesome, as was “Do You Want to Rock and Roll With Me” and “I Remember You Were Wild” and TV commercial favorite “Birdies Singing.” His voice is dropping, octave-wise, sounding more and more like TSOOL’s Ebbot Lundberg.

Sonny I was a little disappointed with Sonny & the Sunsets’ set. The album is very minimal, yet nuanced. Live they are much more a rock band and I missed the little production and arrangement touches that grace Tomorrow is Alright. I think if I hadn’t been wanting to hear the record reproduced live, I woulda liked it more. The band was tight enough, it just wasn’t the Sunsets I was expecting.

It was however a treat to hear Stoltz on the drumkit, to which he excels at. During his own set when he was praising The Sunsets and, especially, their drummer… well, we get it now. Somebody get this guy a TV show. Rimshot!

MP3: Kelley Stoltz – I Remember You Were Wild

If you pre-order To Dreamers from Sub Pop, you get a free CD of unreleased songs. Also the vinyl comes with a song not on the CD! I haven’t seen that since “Hey You!”

MP3: Sonny & the Sunsets – Too Young to Burn (buy it)

Foals | Music Hall of Williamsburg | 10.02.2010

3 Oct

Foalsinsaity

When did Foals become so popular? Music Hall of Williamsburg was as packed as I've ever seen it for the second of the UK band's two NYC area shows this weeknend. And when did they get such a douchey, bro-heavy fanbase? I saw two almost-fights within the first three songs. Then there was the near-constant crowd surfing, even on the slow songs. Even between songs. Jeez.

This is the kind of stuff that can sour a show for and old crank like me. If Foals hadn't been so fantastic, I think I might've left. But there's no denying the Oxford quintet have come a long way in the last three years. Foals' debut, Antidotes, was nervy and twitchy and mathy and shouty…and kind of sterile. Live, that nervous energy came through even more. Their first NYC show — CMJ 2007 — the band mostly faced each other, ignoring the audience, except when singer Yannis Philippakis suddenly lept offstage almost knocking my friend over. Then at Bowery Ballroom in early 2008, the band had already started to come out of their shell, though Philiappakis was so nervous he threw up on stage.

Two years later, the band have released Total Life Forever which is a major step forward for the band and one of 2010's best records. Still filled with complex interplay between the band, Foals have loosened up considerably, making room for heart and soul. Bigger, better, even more danceable. The first single, "Spanish Sahara," was featured prominently in the Entourage Season 7 trailer which ran for like two months on HBO, which shoulda tipped me off, but it didn't seem like anyone I knew was into the record.

Well, people are indeed into Foals, it's just not the crowd I was expecting. Foals sold out Bowery and MHoW and, given what I saw last night, they'll be playing Terminal 5 the next time they hit NYC. The band are certainly ready for bigger venues. Philippakis now faces the audience and makes jokes with the crowd. The band are still shit hot and tight as the Queen's posterior. The songs from TLF sound fantastic, and the Antidotes material (and early singles) sounded better. I woulda liked a few more from the new album (no "This Orient" or "Black Gold"), but Foals have become a live force.

Yannis still likes leaping off stage, by the way. During "Electric Bloom," after climbing a set of speakers and nearly falling off, Philippakis took a FLYING leap into the audience. The whole roam let out a giant "WHOA!" as he flew what seemed to me a good 15 feet out. The crowd caught him. The dude is a little crazy. 

I think the crowd kind of took this to be an invitation to be just as crazy as him. The final song of the night, "Two Steps, Twice," a couple girls managed to get on stage and started dancing. This led to a full-on stage invasion with something like 20 mostly blonde girls dancing plus a few bros who grabbed the mike and sang along. Bonkers. To the band's credit, they let it happen. No calling the bouncers, let the kids have their fun. Though Foals didn't really seem into it.

MP3: Foals – Total Life Forever (Buy it from Sub Pop)

SETLIST: Blue Blood | Olympic Airways | Total Life Forever | Cassius | Miami | Balloons | Afterglow | Alabaster | Spanish Sahara | Red Socks Pugie | Electric Bloom || The French Open | Two Steps Twice

Foals

Not to sound like an elitist prick but…I wonder what Foals think of their new audience. I'm sure they enjoy being able to make more money, but it's gotta be a bit weird. Philappakis and the rest of the band are funny, smart nice guys. They are so not bros. We're talking a band that two years ago played Silent Barn and probably preferred it to Bowery Ballroom. Total Life Forever is clearly them stepping up to the plate, but they didn't seem like that different of a band at MHoW. No fancy clothes, no attitude. Music this good appeals to everyone, I guess. And you can't pick your fans. Being a Saturday night probably made it worse, and I am clearly an snobby curmudgeon, but the crowd really was pretty ugh.

In the Netherworld of Foreign Bees: Pavement | Summerstage | 9.21.2010

24 Sep

Pavement_summerstage
Not sure that I can add more than what has been said already — by others and myself — elsewhere but the Pavement reunion was totally worth seeing. Pretty sure I lucked out, the Summerstage show on Tuesday (actually the first day of Fall) was reported by one authority to be the best of the tour. I can say with certainly that it was the best Pavement show I ever saw, and I saw them three times back in the day.* They played better, had more fun than the original run and that definitely was felt by the audience.

This was the first show that was announced — way back over a year ago — before the band informed everyone that it would be a whole tour, including five NYC shows. When people at the time asked if I bought tickets, I joked that, dang it, wouldn't you know the Pavement show was the same night as my El Bulli reservation. (Many on twitter thought I was serious.)  As I said, I'd seen them back in the day and never found them to be any more than just okay live. Who plans their life 13 months in advance?

Flash forward a year and thanks to my gig writing for another blog, I scored tickets this week. Not that they were hard to get by this week. There were scalpers grumbling "how was I supposed to know they'd end up doing five fucking shows!" outside the gates which is pretty funny. Tickets were going on Craigslist for pretty cheap.

Anyway, I went in with low expectations. And then Pavement were awesome, playing just about every song I wanted to hear. Sure, not "Summer Babe" or "Embassy Row" but I got my favorite-ever song, "Shoot the Singer." Woulda liked "Here," but otherwise no qualms at all. Never considered myself more than a casual fan but I knew every song they played. 

The entire band was on but, no surprise, Bob Nastanovich made the night. He cracked jokes, gave out his home address (twice), prowled the stage with various percussion instruments, sang lead like a wild man on "Debris Slide" and "Conduit for Sale." He is Pavement as far as I'm concerned — the fanboy partymonster beating heart to Steve Malkmus' arch detachment.

Pavement3

1999 doesn't really seem that long ago — to me at least — and it's kind of shocking how much they all still look the same, so it didn't really seem like a nostalgia trip so much, as much a "hey, I haven't seen Pavement play in a while." Without having to endure some new so-so album.**

SETLIST: Shady Lane | Frontwards | Heckler Spray | Elevate Me Later | Starlings of the Slipstream | Stereo | Kennel District | Grounded | Rattled By The Rush | We Dance | In The Mouth A Desert | Perfume-V | Unfair | Fin | Gold Soundz | Debris Slide | Range Life | Trigger Cut | Cut Your Hair | Perfect Depth | Fight This Generation | Box Elder |ENCORE: Date With IKEA | Shoot The Singer | Conduit For Sale! | Silent Kid | Heaven Is A Truck | Stop Breathin’

NYC Taper has the whole concert to download. As well as all the other NYC Pavement shows.

MP3: Pavement – Baptist Blacktick (buy it)

While other members were tuning, Bob started singing "Baptist Blacktick" to much hooting and hollering but then SM was all "that song is just two minutes of young vocal chords screaming and we're…" then Bob interjected, "The real truth is 'Baptist Blacktick' is too fast for this age group." Hey!

MP3: Pavement – Embassy Row (buy it)

Pavement lyrics I've never even tried to decipher. I just listen for the many good turns of phrase and enjoy them for that. Which is probably why up I only just recently the the chorus of "Embassy Row" was actually "In the netherworld of foreign thieves." I still like mine better.

*The first of those times was on the final night of the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain tour, May 14, 1994 in Morgantown, WV (I know 'cause I still have the ticket). I do remember they played "Shoot the Singer" and that SM gave me his drink tickets after the show when I tried to talk to him about the Fall. I clearly didn't need any more drinks. The night is a little fuzzy.

Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500 | The Rock Shop | 8.18.2010

19 Aug

Deanwareham

"What's with all the shushing?" Dean Wareham asked the crowd at the Rock Shop who were there for the intimate, semi-secret warm-up show of his upcoming tour playing exclusively Galaxie 500 songs. "No one needs to be shushed!"

Galaxie 500 and their three dreamy LPs from the Reagan-Bush years have grown in acclaim over the last 20 years and some people in attendance watched this show with a hushed reverence you might expect for Nick Drake. (Hence the shushing.) Wareham, who was all smiles for this show, doesn't seem to hold his own material in such high regard. To wit: he intro'd "Decomposing Trees," from 1989's On Fire, as "This song is about the time I dropped acid and my toes started talking to me."

As Wareham and Galaxie 500's invaluable rhythm section (Damon Krukowski, Naomi Yang) don't really get along at all anymore, this is close to the real thing as we're gonna get these days. And it comes pretty close. Wareham is a much better guitarist these days and is still in possession of a fine falsetto. (If you ever thought it was fine, that is.) And much credit to drummer Jason Lawrence whose lithe touch came close to replicating Krukowski's style.

And the songs, of course. Today, On Fire and, to a lesser extent 1991's This is Our Music, probably hold up better than 90% of the music made from 1987 – 1991, an era of gated drums, cheesy synths and Sandborn-descended saxophone on everything. (The sax on "Decomposing Trees"  was replaced tonight with melodica courtesy second guitarist Matt Sumrow.) I'm pretty sure they've just gotten better with age. So it was a thrill getting to hear "Strange," "Flowers," "4th of July," "Tugboat" and others again, not to mention essential covers "Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste" (Jonathan Richman) and set-closing "Ceremony" (Joy Division/New Order).

Personally I could've used a few less of the band's many two-chord jams in favor of some of Today's poppier numbers like "Oblivious" and "Parking Lot" but looking at the setlist I'm not sure what I would've pulled in place of them. I guess I just wanted more.

MP3: Galaxie 500 – Tugboat (buy it on vinyl!)

SETLIST: Flowers | Pictures | Temperature Rising | Snowstorm | Decomposing Trees | Strange | Blue Thunder | Summertime | When Will You Come Home | Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste | 4th of July | Tugboat | Ceremony

There's video of "Strange" after the jump.

A few words about The Rock Shop, the new Park Slope/Gowanus venue that's been open a couple weeks now. It's a small room — holds a hundred people at best — probably most comparable to Pianos but with a nicer soundsystem. It's a bit of a bottleneck to get to the actual performance space, but once you're in there it's a really nice — and great sounding — room. And the upstairs deck is pretty killer. A welcome addition to the area.

Wareham does it again tonight at Bowery Ballroom, maybe with a slightly different setlist, plus Crystal Stilts opening. And the show's going on the road too, those dates after the jump.

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