Heheheheheheh. Ah, 2014: another year where I tell myself 'this is the year my obsessive show-going addiction ends;' another year where I see more shows than anyone I know who isn't employed at a performance space / venue. WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!
A quick list of locations where I've seen shows this year:
--Brooklyn (double natch)
--on a boat circling Manhattan
--Commerce City, CO
--Miami (in 7 days!)
As of this very moment, I've seen 93 concerts this year, and I've got at least three more coming up - Uncle Ebenezer at Knitting Factory Saturday night, Television (first time seeing them) at Irving Plaza on 12/28, and a little up-and-coming rock band who I think are called Assface in Miami on New Year's. The following is my totally subjective, largely meaningless, and wholly amusing (to me) recap of the best stuff I saw in '14.
Oh, and Happy Holidays to all!
The Ten Best Phish Shows I Saw All Year:
1.) Phish, 10/31/14 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
2.) Phish, 7/13/14 Randall's Island, NYC
3.) Phish, 7/27/14 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
4.) Phish, 8/29/14 Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
5.) Phish, 11/2/14 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
6.) Phish, 10/22/14 Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara
7.) Phish, 7/26/14 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
8.) Phish, 10/28/14 Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Fran
9.) Phish, 7/11/14 Randall's Island, NYC
10.) Phish, 8/31/14 Dicks Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
I suppose it's unfortunate that I waited this long to finally check out Bustle in Your Hedgerow's live show, because their act combines two of my favorite things: 1.) the music of Led Zeppelin and 2.) fearless, tight improv undertaken by seasoned, talented players.
Bustle in Your Hedgerow features Marco Benevento and Joe Russo (of Benevento-Russo Duo, natch) on keyboards and drums, respectively, with the lineup rounded out by jack-of-all-trades guitarist Scott Metzger and former Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz. Benevento's keyboards replace Robert Plant's melodies (with vocals on a few songs), and the rhythm section supplies plenty of muscle. I was particularly impressed with Metzger's ability to recreate not only Jimmy Page's iconic leads, but the haunting textures that were Zeppelin's secret weapon.
The evening's spirits were bolstered by a rowdy Friday night crowd eager to swill Brooklyn Brewing products and rock the eff out. I fortunately ran into several friends who I know through the local NYC Phish cover band "scene," with whom I split way too many pitchers of beer.
Highlights for me were... well, pretty much the whole frickin' set, not gonna lie. In particular, I loved what they did with "Kashmir," and the lengthy jam on "In the Evening" (um, if I'm remembering correctly) contained some mindbendingly powerful improvisation. See below for an incomplete setlist.
Bustle in Your Hedgerow 2/7/14 at Brooklyn Bowl
Communication Breakdown The Lemon Song Ramble On The Rain Song Heartbreaker Custard Pie All My Love
Hot Dog Moby Dick (with drum solo) ? missed one Since I've Been Loving You Kashmir In the Evening ????
[Couldn't find any decent vids on YouTube from the 2/7 show, so here's "Kashmir" from the 2/6 show. Thanks to the original filmer / uploader, etc.]
Whew. Whatta year, amirite?! Yes, new music may have been a bit lacking, but fortunately the one constant that remains is that there's a shit-ton of great live music coming through NYC year-round. When I moved to Williamsburg in '08, I did so almost entirely because of the proximity to so many music venues; nearly 6 years later, that remains my biggest motivation for sticking around.
In fact, my show-going affliction reached new heights this year - I did a rough count last week, and if I wind up going to the New Mastersounds afterparty following the Phish show on December 29th, I will have seen a robust *98* distinct concerts in 2013. According to Jalepzerz' / MeatBox archives, that's a personal record (although I've eclipsed 90 shows in several other years), and as proof, I uploaded literally hundreds of videos to my YouTube channel, effectively documenting my own crime spree.
So, here I sit on Christmas Eve, workin' on my final post of the year for this blog; a post that focuses solely on the highlights of my showgoing for the year. In 4 evenings, Phish NYE Run starts, and if some notable, epic shit goes down, several of these lists could be (at the very least) a bit out of whack and (at most) completely irrelevant. I welcome that. :->
See you in the new year, everyone!
Best Live Show of the Year - Phish at Hampton Coliseum, 10/20/13
Top 10 Phish shows I personally attended this year:
10.) 10/25/13 DCU 9.) 11/1/13 AC 8.) 8/4/13 BGCA 7.) 11/2/13 AC 6.) 7/6/13 SPAC (fuck off, I loved this damn show) 5.) 10/19/13 Hampton 4.) 7/14/13 Merriweather 3.) 10/27/13 Hartford 2.) 10/26/13 DCU 1.) 10/20/13 Hampton
The best three non-Phish arena shows I saw in 2013:
16.) Split Open and Melt at SPAC, July 6 15.) Rock and Roll at BGCA, August 3 14.) Crosseyed and Painless at Holmdel, July 10 13.) Twist > Under Pressure at AC, November 1 12.) Theme from the Bottom > Shaft theme at AC, November 2 11.) Drowned at Worcester, October 26 10.) Harry Hood at Merriweather 9.) Runaway Jim at BGCA, August 4 8.) Stash at Merriweather, July 14 7.) Carini at SPAC, July 6 6.) Carini at AC, October 31 5.) Golden Age at Hartford, October 27 4.) Piper > Taking Care of Business at Hampton, October 20 (yup, this is cheating) 3.) Light at Merriweather, July 14 2.) Seven Below at BGCA, August 2 (in spite of the butchered composed section) 1.) Carini at Hampton, October 18
Was expecting to be out of town this weekend, so with that falling through, figured I'd check out the third (and final) night of The New Mastersounds' Brooklyn Bowl residency on the recommendation of my friend Bricer, having never heard any of their material prior to this show. Glad I did - these chaps sure know how to play.
Before the band started up, the guitarist humorously pointed out that his right leg was in a cast, thanking the "rock and roll doctor" who had worked on him earlier in the day (who coincidentally was standing right next to me in the crowd). Funny stuff, but fear not; the guitarist's condition certainly didn't affect his playing, which was spectacular, and he didn't appear to be in any discomfort during the evening, either.
The New Mastersounds' material consists of tight-as-hell funk / jazz / fusion grooves, with most pieces performed at an extremely fast pace. This is more of a "head-bobbing" funk rather than an "ass shaking" funk, and although I was surprised at the time that I saw so few people doing the usual Phish-fan-esque "noodle dance" (seemingly few wooks in attendance, too) I shouldn't have been. Perfect stuff to rock out to, and it was good to see the (nearly?) sold-out crowd getting down and boozing it up on a Saturday night.
I wound up taking off midway through the second set, so if they, y'know, covered Mariah Carey or some shit, I missed out. Guitarist dude mentioned that they were heading out West to work on recording an album (confirmed by their Facebook posts in the followind days), and looking at their tour dates, it seems they have a few West Coast dates coming up before heading back to Europe. Check 'em out, y'all's!!
It's really telling how literally every time I go to a White Denim show, I wind up having a conversation with a total stranger centered on the topic of "how the hell isn't this band bigger?" This show was no exception, and I stand wholeheartedly behind that sentiment. Seriously, though, why, world? WHY???
I've been seeing White Denim live since I caught their set (opening up for Tapes 'N Tapes) at Music Hall of Williamsburg in April '08. After that show, I struggled with finding a way of simply describing the Texas trio (at that point)'s all-over-the-map musical style(s) while doing them justice; five years and six more White Denim shows later I still have the same problem. When I think "White Denim and the styles they've mastered," you can start with AOR / Southern rock / Zappaesque fusion / blue-eyed soul / "lite" prog / jam rock etc. etc. etc., but that's only the tip of the iceberg.
These last few months have found the band working on a new record, with some of the recent sessions helmed by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. According to White Denim vocalist / guitarist James Petralli, “when we started [working together], Jeff said to us, ‘I like your records but I love your live show,’” That's a sentiment I've heard elsewhere, and which I can at least somewhat get behind - while each of the band's proper albums have been at least *good,* this band has yet to put out a truly *great* album that manages to capture the joyous fury of their live show.
Back to that live show. At this show, they trotted out plenty of the ol' chestnuts while treating the crowd to a good amount of new stuff, as well. White Denim frequently cram full songs and assorted fragments right up against one another, often not actually stopping to catch their collective breath until ten-plus minutes of dizzying musicianship have elapsed. The new stuff (see below for some brief clips) seems vigorous and energetic - it seems as though, if anything, they've been focusing their songwriting efforts on the aim of rocking the fuck out, which is a very, very good thing.
Interestingly enough, it seems as though White Denim has also worked on incorporating on-the-fly improvisation into their set, which, for a band as tight and well-practiced as these guys, could really introduce an exciting new element to their already rockin' live shows. (FWIW, I could've sworn that they went straight into a hot "Reba" jam at one point, but that could've been the vodka talking.)
I should probably mention opening band Houndmouth, whose set was comprised of pleasant country rock with nice vocal harmonies, bolstered by occasional detours into Crazy Horse-ish guitar rock. I liked 'em.
Last week, White Denim teased us with the above clip, which teases a teensy bit of the new material from their upcoming record, featuring Wilco's Jeff Tweedy manning the boards. Last night I saw White Denim live at Brooklyn Bowl (they were fucking awesome), and although I'll probably have a show review up over the next few days, I figured why wait on getting these videos - some of which contain actual new White Denim material (!!) - posted. Enjoy!
Yeah, I went to this show, and yeah, I unfortunately had a crappy time. Sobeit. It wasn't the band's fault; no, I'd seen the Axl-and-a-stageful-of-schmucks revue twice before and fucking loved it both times. LOVED it. And certainly the material at hand can't be blamed; Guns N' Roses were the first band in the history of my epic music nerd-dom that I went totally batshit obsessive over, and I never really outgrew that phase. Appetite is, after all, one of the ten best albums by anyone ever, and Illusion II ain't far behind.
So, it's impossible for me to really temper my divergent feelings on this show - I love the music of Guns N' Roses, but this show could've been a whole lot better. So instead of a traditional show review, here's the first ten things that popped into my head when I sat down to write this review.
1.) The main problem with charging $150 per ticket for a show with only 48 hours notice is that you limit your crowd basically to total douchebags and leisure-class shitheads. In other words, if you want to bring a Manhattan crowd into Brooklyn, here's how you do it. As a result, this was THE ABSOLUTE WORST crowd I've ever seen at a show, hands down - a roomful of spoiled, entitled schmucks (myself included, I guess). The only people I actually saw moving around were the blacked-out meathead assholes elbowing their way through the packed crowd.
2.) Axl looks really, really bad. He's old and fat, and that creepy-ass pencil handlebar moustache does him no favors. There's only so much that those dinner plate-sized aviators can conceal, breh.
3.) More importantly, Axl sounded like shit. The first time I saw Axl n' Roses was in November '11 in Hartford, CT, and his singing was so improbably on point at that show that my friends and I suspected that he might have been lipsynching. Well, not tonight. I've heard rumors that on this tour he's been ducking backstage as needed to take refreshing hits of oxygen, and at this show he sounded seriously winded.
4.) In Axl's defense, apparently he was sick. He mentioned that he was having stomach issues, and supposedly that's what led to them cut the show short, only performing 20 songswhereastheytypically do 30 orso. Stomach ailment or not, it's hard to not feel cheated when they don't play "November Rain," "Don't Cry," "Patience," "You Could Be Mine," and all kinds of other stuff. On the other hand, the good side of them cutting the set short is that they only did two songs off of the hot, steaming turd that is Chinese Democracy.
5.) To his credit, Axl didn't seem to let the crowd's extreme suckitude get to him. Seriously, in the old days, Axl would've gotten pissy, slammed down his mic, flipped off the crowd and stormed offstage, and a riot would've likely followed. On this night, he made a couple of comments about the show being "weird" (yes, playing a bowling alley is probably weird for a guy who has filled football stadiums), but he generally seemed amused at the unusual setting.
6.) I always wondered why the band needed three guitarists, and being as close as I was to the stage all night (no more than 5 or 6 people back the entire show), it became pretty obvious that while two of the three guitarists are holding down the actual "playing music" part of the gig, the third guitarist is invariably mugging it up on top of the monitors striking hoary rock star poses. The three guys seem to switch off accordingly from song to song and solo to solo. That's fuckin' lame.
7.) DJ Ashba should be dealt a severe beating, not only for stealing Slash's stage moves, Les Paul and top hat, but for covering said top hat and Les Paul with glitter. Super lame.
8.) One of the guitarists, "Bumblefoot," plays a double neck guitar for much of the set, only instead of one 6-string and one 12-string on it, it's two 6-strings (one fretless). Seriously, wtf? I have honestly never seen that before, and I have no clue why that instrument would be useful to a musician, other than to look "cool." Fuck that.
9.) Fundamentally, much of my disappointment with this show is my own fault since I willingly chose "being super close to the stage all night" over "hydration," "beer," "bathroom breaks," and "comfort." Whatever. Lesson learned, or something.
10.) Under any / all circumstances, and in any setting, "Estranged" is still pretty much the greatest thing ever.
Hmmmm. I have very little experience describing / reviewing "Soul Clap Dance-Off"s, so I think I'm going to just steal as much as I can directly from the horse's mouth at the New York Night Train website:
Soul Clap and Dance-Off 6 Year Anniversary Party with JT playing the all-time SOUL CLAP CLASSICS and guest selector JIM MORRISON (The Doors!) via medium IAN SVENONIUS (Chain and the Gang/The Make Up) and LIVE SEANCE ON STAGE! 1AM DANCE-OFF judged by Willismburg’s DELUXE SALON for $100/$75 METROPOLIS VINTAGE CERTIFICATE – followed by Brooklyn Brewery’s NYC CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND FOR $500 CASH PRIZE plus Metropolis certificates for the second places, $5 Espolon tequila drinks all night long, and other great surprises, 11:30PM-4:00AM, $7
That works, no?
Anyway, my pal Cindy and her friends were in town from Buffalo, and I met up with them at Brooklyn Bowl for this shinding shortly after leaving the Liquor Store show at Matchless. Truth be told, I was still exhausted from Thursday night's post-Tyondai bacchanalia, and having worked up a decent sweat at Liquor Store, the prospects of dancing my fat ass off for 3+ hours seemed dim at best.
This, of course, was before I discovered that 1.) Brooklyn Bowl was selling $18 pitchers of Brooklyn lager, and 2.) the music played during said Dance-Off Extravaganza would be exclusively vintage '50s / '60s era seven-inches, the very vast majority of which I'd never heard before. Yup, right smack dab in my oldies-fetish wheelhouse - all the doo wop and early R&B you could handle. Fuck yeah, sock hop!
And dance we did, until nearly 4 AM. I'm told that prizes were awarded, and although I wasn't commended at the time, I'm just going to have to assume that my award for "Sweatiest Bastard in the Room" is in the mail. Thanks in advance to the judges for that one! Apparently there was also a seance (?), but again I will point you, the reader in the general direction of the New York Night Train website for the "official" wrap-up and pictures.
Fortunately, the party continued for some time after we schlepped back to my place, and with Uncle Acid's awesome stoner bullshit as fuel, my Christmas tree was (finally) no more (see below). Fuckin' awesome time, y'alls.
This was the eleventh time I've seen The Raveonettes live / I think they're on the short list of Greatest Bands in the World / Chain Gang of Love is my single favorite album OF ALL TIME. Their new album Raven in the Grave is one of the two finest albums I've heard so far this year. Yes, they are awesome. [OK, that's out of the way.]
If y'haven't seen this yet, have a gander. It was purchased 11 days ago by my good buddy Beaf at the Dallas Raves show. [If you look closely, you'll notice that the poster is from their 2007 "Loud and Intimate Electric Duo Tour," which consisted of 6 total dates, of which I saw two. After the Southpaw show, I saw a guy get run over by a taxi. Ask me about it sometime!]
OK. Very glad they're playing at Music Hall... almost exactly a mile from my doorstep. After a nice brisk walk I got to the venue at about quarter after 9. Quick beer, headed upstairs, and found plenty of room way up front at the left side of the stage.
I enjoyed the opener, Tamaryn, whose shoegazy-meets-dreampoppy bag I found very pleasant.
Setbreak revealed the Raveonettes' new stage setup: dueling 3-piece drum kits at each side of the stage, with one of the drummers switching off between drumming and rhythm guitar for most of the set. Also, they brought their own special light show, being comprised of 6 vertical white fluorescent lights and 3 little groupings of multicolored light thingies.
Raveonettes opened their set with "Recharge and Revolt," with both of the drummers playing guitar, Sharin on bass, and Sune on vocals... this was probably the first time I've ever seen the Raves perform a song without Sune playing an instrument.
Setlist included songs from their entire recorded career, with the wealth of new stuff [6 new songs!] sounding awesome mixed right in with old chestnuts. When a band has as many great songs as the Raveonettes do, it's easy to get wrapped up in the "man, why didn't they play..." game post-show, but the setlist was pretty fucking solid. [See below for said actual setlist.]
Set highlights for me were Chain Gang's "The Love Gang;" hearing two of the best new songs, "Apparitions" and "Evil Seeds," played back to back; Sune's solo during "Love in a Trashcan;" the awesome little noisy jam they did in "Attack of the Ghost Riders."
If I had to submit an entry into the fictional "What Do You Think Is the Perfect Song?" survey, it would probably be "Dead Sound."
Random stuff I hearted about this show: the massive "wall of sound;" the flawlessly executed light show; the disco ball (I've seen probably damn near a hundred shows in this room. How the hell did I never notice the disco ball before?!); the patient, attentive crowd. It's pretty tough not to fall at least a little in love with Sune and Sharin when you see them live.
The set ended, appropriately with "My Time Is Up," from the new record, and the encore closed out with Sharin switching over to guitar for "Aly, Walk With Me."
Probably the best show I've seen all year.
go HERE if you want better pics from this show. Tuddd out for now......