Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. - 10/11/2010 - Music Hall of Williamsburg

Taking into account Mark Ronson's new album "Record Collection" and the Brooklyn show last night, I would hazard a guess his vinyl / cd / mp3 collection is chock full of electro-80's goodness. And for that, we thank you!

Ronson is a hipster of many hats. DJ. Producer. Writer, yada, yada. And apparently many hairstyles based on that bleached crown he rocked ever so delicately last night. Yet one thing you can not fault the man for is the stable of artists who play on both his records and in concert. For this album and abbreviated promotional tour throughout Europe and the US, Alex Greenwald from Phantom Planet, Spank Rock, MNDR, and a host of diverse, talented musicians joined him onstage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg last night to bring a ray of euro-disco 80's effluvia to the wet, huddled Brooklynites clustered around the small stage.

This was my second time seeing Mr. Ronson and group perform live; the first being a promo. show in NY for his first all covers album "Versions". At the time I told myself, "Wow, Mr. DJ really lucked out with that one. Great album, great show, good luck, wink, wink". Consider me a fan for life after last night's event. My companion for the evening turned to me and said "this is just a damn fun show". And indeed it was. From the moment the group took the stage you could not help but be bound up in the energy and music as the group ran through the highlights from both the new release as well as some of the stand-out tracks from "Versions". This is not for those who like their music filled with ennui and shows deliberately shoe-gazed. Which I normally am a firm proponent of. Great grooves, fun performances, light-hearted new wave dances, etc. This is not for the furrowed brow set but for the dancing pop set and a hearty thumbs up for that. In the abysmal stateside charts where Ke$ha and a variety of other dastardly shit rule the pop radio waves, it's a bit disheartening this album in particular is not getting fair shakes over here outside of the NY / LA media elite. Because Mark Ronson and friends have made a damn fine album that isn't saying anything new but hell, during these times we need a bit of comfort to make the medicine go down. And this band live does that!

1) Selector
2) Circuit Breaker
3) Just
4) Lose It
5) Oh My God
6) California (Phantom Planet Cover)
7) You Gave Me Nothing
8) Ronson DJ Set
9) Bang Bang Bang
10) God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
11) The Night Last Night
12) Stop Me
13) Record Collection

14) The Bike Song
15) Valerie

Sunday, September 26, 2010

LCD Soundsystem - 09/24/10 - Philadelphia Naval Yard

For all intents and purposes, LCD Soundsystem (the brainchild of writer / composer / producer / lead singer James Murphy) should be one of those bands that permanently reside in the exclusive realm of the alt. music ghetto, playing small celeb-packed clubs while garnering love letters from the media cognoscenti who fancy themselves the gatekeepers of all that is worth listening to. The music is a pastiche of simple electronic beats married with introspective, melancholia drenched witticisms decrying the state of the world in Mr. Murphy's distinctive, scream-laden vocal stylings. Tracks from the group's new album "This Is Happening" and from their previous 2 full-length albums can stretch into the 8-10 minute run times, leaving the listener exhausted yet oddly exhilarated at the same time. In other words, this shit isn't simple!

Yet at Friday night's show at the Philadelphia Naval Yard celebrating the 10th anniversary of the "Making Time" party event, Mr. Murphy and all his friends (bandmates Pat Mahoney, Phil Mossman, Tyler Pope, Nancy Whang, and assorted others) laid to rest any sort of argument that electronic-based music is virtually impossible to replicate in a concert setting. Taking the stage after a rather jarring opening set from electro-noise rockers Sleigh Bells, LCD completely owned the place, opening with "Dance Yourself Clean", easily one of the best songs released this past year. Blasting through tracks from the new album as well as select favorites from past releases such as "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" and "Get Innocuous", the soldout, glowstick-laden crowd went narcotic-induced apeshit while I retreated to the relative safety of the back of the venue to better observe the general nuttiness of it all. Having seen the band play before, I understand the power of this group live. Incorporating a full band that has an amazing rhythm section combined with a frontman who knows how to nuance his shrill vocals into crescendo induced agita packs a mighty fine wallop in a live setting. It might not be pretty. But it damn sure is powerful!

There have been hints from Mr. Murphy that this may be his last album under the LCD moniker, retreating into relative obscurity to think it all up again after this tour closes out in Japan at the end of the year. Considering the passion this group's fans have combined with their growing popularity (they are headlining the Hollywood Bowl later this year), I sincerely hope more people have a chance to see this extraordinary band live before the DFA label head calls it quits. Unfortunately if that is not to be the case, then indeed, to paraphrase one of the groups songs, I might be losing my edge but I was there!

Dance Yourself Clean
Drunk Girls
Get Innocuous
Yr City's A Sucker
Daft Punk
I Can Change
All My Friends
You Wanted A Hit

Someone Great
Losing My Edge

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Pixies - 09/07/10 - Philadelphia - Tower Theater

Taking the stage at the historic Tower Theater in Philadelphia Tuesday night, the Pixies opened the final leg of their Doolittle redux tour with a blast of nostalgia, melting faces both young and old in the process. Over the last year, the band has jumped on the "front to back" touring bandwagon, focusing on one album from their oeuvre and playing all tracks from said feature, sprinkling the set list with b-sides and other rarities from that period in their career. As "Doolittle", their seminal art-punk-rock-pop album released in 1989, is considered by many to be a touchstone in the alterna-rock category, it was cause for celebration for hipsters everywhere as the band strolled on-stage, opening the set with the obscure b-side "Dancing The Manta Ray". Backed by a rather elaborate lighting / video system synced with the bands efforts, the group plowed through such hits as "Monkey Gone To Heaven", "Hey", and "Gouge Away", delivering meaty riffs and classic lyrics from what many still consider the halcyon glory days of indie music.

Francis Black, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering have had one of the more well-publicized, tempestuous relationships in the annals of broken rock-and-roll bands. Moving on to varied solo careers and session work, the band reconvened 4 + years ago to milk the alterna-nostalgia market. Unlike the majority of like-minded ventures by other bands of their ilk, this reunion was rapturously well-received from the outset, introducing a new generation of skinny jeaned, floppy-haired youths to the harsh yet soothing soundscapes the band so elegantly captured back in the late 80's. Their talent and virtuosity was on full display Tuesday night as they plowed through the album in its entirety, making minimal small talk yet producing maximum volume as hands were waved and lyrics were mangled / shouted. Two encores later, the crowd was sated as the band took their final bows together as a group. I'm not sure we'll ever have the pleasure of hearing new music from this band again. However, I am sure the pleasure recognized from seeing them live more than compensates for this in so many ways.

Dancing the Manta Ray
Bailey's Walk
Weird At My School
Manta Ray
Wave of Mutilation
I Bleed
Here Comes Your Man
Monkey Gone To Heaven
Mr. Grieves
Crackity Jones
La La Love You
#13 Baby
Ther Goe's My Gun
Gouge Away

Encore 1:
Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
Into the White

Encore 2:
Nimrod's Son
Isla de Encanta
Where Is My Mind

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tears For Fears - 08/19/10 - NYC - Hammerstein Ballroom

It's been 25 yrs. since I've had the pleasure of seeing this band live. Barring the shit seats and the copious amount of inebriation, it was well worth the wait. Plus the fact I was absolutely a young scamp in this audience. Combined with $5 well margaritas and a generous bartendress, my night could not have been better.

Mad World (DD version)
Secret World
Sowing the Seeds of Love
Call Me Mellow
Mad World (original)
Memories Fade
Quiet Ones
Woman In Chains
Advice for the Young at Heart
Seven of Sunday
Billie Jean (cover)
Pale Shelter
Break It Down Again
Head Over Heels
Floating Down the River

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Big Pink - 03/31/10 - Philadelphia - North Star

Freakishly small bar / pub in Philly - check. Lackluster crowd filled with hipsteratti - check. Headlining and opening bands who deserved more than the banal setting of last night's show - check.

Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled to be able to take advantage of situations such as the one noted above when bands whom I really dig come to town promoting albums I am currently in love with. No shoving morons. Easy access to front of stage placement. Room to dance my ass off and the list goes on. However, it begs the question as to what sort of "scene" there truly is in Killadelphia when two bands of this caliber can barely pull 100 people into a room with a ticket price under $20. I mean, REALLY?? Enough with the negativity, now for the goodness.

It was my third time having the pleasure of seeing A Place To Bury Strangers live. The Brooklyn trio always delivers in terms of sonics and trippy light eye-candy. These noisecore vets. create screamingly good walls of feedback-drenched esoterica perfect for dancing one's eyes out. It's part shoegaze M. B. Valentine headfuck mixed with an off-key melodic sensibility that really translates both in concert as well as on disc. Check their self-titled debut and 2009 release "Exploding Head". Your brain will thank you later.

Comprised of Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell, The Big Pink has slowly been making in-roads here in the States via their extraordinary debut "A Brief History of Love" via 4AD. Lead single "Dominos" and follow-up "Velvet" should be all over the place by now instead of the alterna-ghetto they now reside in here in the USA. Front to back this album is pure pop sadness / goodness with hints of the JM Chains and a smattering of V. Underground thrown in for good measure. Easily one of the best albums of the last year. Live, the band perfectly captures the distorted spirit of their output to date with a rousing stage show backed by a really tight rhythm section seamlessly recreating the addled soundscapes found on their album. The bitchy NME set has already embraced it with open arms. It's our turn dammit!

Notes: Ran up on Milo after the show (if you by chance read this M., thanks for putting up with my drunken ramblings). Highlights include excitement about upcoming Coachella show, working on new music, coming back to the US for a possible fall tour, and a bunch of other stuff I can't recall at the moment. Also please look up BP's covers of Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams" and the Cure's "Love Song" online. You won't be disappointed, promise!

Too Young To Love
At War With The Sun
Crystal Visions
A Brief History of Love
New Song?
These Arms Are Mine

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Muse - 3/2-5/10 - Philly / NYC - Wachovia / MSG

It feels like I have been waiting forever for a band who can truly match what I saw U2 accomplish back in 92-93 on their Zoo Tv tour. That is, meld fantastic rock music with a truly spectacular, over the top light / video show that leaves audiences minds discombobulated. For me, that wait is over.
I'll admit I was a bit late to the Muse party. Introduced to them via Absolution when the album was released but didn't have the chance to see them live stateside until the Black Holes and Revelations tour (at MSG no less). From that moment on, this band became a must-see live act for moi as it was readily apparent they not only strived to bring it sonically (note for note I can't name a band I've seen live in a long while who matches them in terms of sound) but also visually, incorporating huge video screens, lasers, and compelling stage sets fully integrated into an arena setting.
All you would get from me in a full-blown review of this show / this band is a bunch of fawning adjectives describing how much they do not suck. Therefore, I have attached a more dispassionate yet on-target review from Jon Pareles at the NY Times who checked the same show in NYC.

One note: It is easy to dismiss Muse as a pastiche of sorts. All of the "real" rock critics tend to do so, but in a begrudgingly admirable manner. "Queen". "Radiohead-esque". "Pink Floyd of the aughts". And on and on and on. And you know what? They aren't necessarily wrong. However, if I was in a band and had to be compared to predecessors, that's not such a shabby list in this reviewers humble opinion. Sorry to say but I'm not looking for Kid A when I go see a live show. I want The Wall. Times 10. That equals Muse!

1. Uprising
2. The Resistance
3. New Born
4. Map of the Problematique
5. Supermassive Black Hole
6. Guiding Light
7. Interlude
8. Hysteria
9. Nishe
10. United States of Eurasia
11. Feeling Good
12. Helsinki Jam
13. Undisclosed Desires
14. MK Ultra
15. Starlight
16. Plug In Baby
17. Time is Running Out
18. Unnatural Selection

19. Exogenesis Pt. 1
20. Stockholm Syndrome
21. Knights of Cydonia

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Patti Smith - 1/19/10 - NYC - B&N Upstairs at the Square

Before I begin, would just like to wish everyone a belated Happy New Year. Now the 5 of you can return to what you were doing.

Just returned from the Patti Smith reading / performance / book signing held on Tuesday night at Barnes & Noble in Union Square as part of their "Upstairs at the Square" series of events. In all honesty, I'm not the biggest fan per se of Ms. Smith's music. Yes, I've listened to Horses and like a few tracks off of it. Yes, I know I'm supposed to bow my head in reverence to the Godmother of Punk while intoning thanks to the gods for gracing us with her presence. Far more intriguing (to me anyway) is the coterie of friends, lovers, et al she has surrounded herself with throughout her storied career. And in this regard, tonight she did not disappoint.

Celebrating the release of her new book "Just Kids" which primarily concerns itself with detailing her and Robert Mapplethorpe's relationship, Patti read a few passages from the book interspersed with some off-the-cuff anecdotes combined with a 3-song acoustic performance accompanied by long-time bandmate Lenny Kaye.

Hearing her speak so eloquently about her times at the Chelsea Hotel on the arm of Mapplethorpe as they struggled to make a place for themselves in late 60's, early 70's NYC I finally got the appeal. She's a damn amazing storyteller. Whether it was humorously mentioning a non-reciprocated crush on William Burroughs or recounting a particularly sad tale about Janis Joplin being spurned by a potential hook-up who then needed to be baby-sat, she consistently captivated the packed house with her unique point of view. Having the opportunity to briefly page through the book, I can already tell this is going to be one of my "best of's" for the year. If you don't necessarily like her music, I'm here to tell you..that's ok. Because there is so much else to like about her (her life, her writing, her place in pop culture, her politics, her feminism, and the list goes on) that at times, the music may seem secondary to a life lived to its absolute fullest.