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
While scanning OhMyRockness last week, I was shocked to see that LiveFastDie was still around and playing gigs. After a quick Googling to confirm that it was the *same* LiveFastDie (c'mon, it's not totally implausible that another band had chosen to name itself after one of GG Allin's most infamous tatoos), it was on.
I first saw LiveFastDie opening up for King Khan at Mercury Lounge in August, 2008, and their kamikaze style of full-contact performance stole the fuck out of that show. The band members scrambled aimlessly across the beersoaked stage, alternately wiping out painfully and smashing into each other; the lead guitarist (who is now the frontman of The World's Greatest Band, Liquor Store) fell off the stage several times while still somehow managing to pound out his "hey mom look at me!!!" over-the-top awesome wankery. One part Jackass, one part catchy-as-fuck gutter-punk jams.
This was not, as it turned out, a simple case of "whoops, too many rock-bottom whiskey shots" - the band's onstage attitude seemed to perfectly match their MySpace page's slogan of "oh boy. Another band that can hardly play their instruments and like to get wasted. Check back with them in a year and see who's dead." I "checked back with them" the following April at Union Pool, which wound up being the first time (of twenty or so) that I saw Liquor Store (who at this point were regularly performing with 5 guitarists onstage simultaneoulsly) live.
Anyway, fast forwarding to the present, these guys are still fun as hell. A persistently malfunctioning amp provided way more humor than it should've, as did an audience member's seemingly constant pleas for the band to simply "STOP!!!!" So watch these videos and judge for yourself, yeah?
THANK YOU BROOKLYN VEGAN. I would've never had any idea that the supiciously-named band Holy Fun! (punctuation theirs) was playing a show, or that said band was actually Toronto's mighty Holy Fuck, or finally that said show was going down 9 blocks from my place. Again, THANK YOU BROOKLYN VEGAN.
And the show was frickin' GREAT. I've been obsessed with this band since '08, since they manage to embody everything that's good about 'electronic' music [spoiler alert: a live rhythm section makes all the difference] while somehow avoiding everything that usually makes electronica, you know, awful. Here's something I wrote about five years ago when I saw them for the first time:
They take Battles' energy, live drumming and
(occasional) distorted vocals,
while avoiding Battles' allergy to hooks. They take !!!'s (again,
occasional) devotion to grooves and do away with the shitty,
generic R+B vocals and annoying frontman. They emulate
Ratatat's devotion to melody while leaving behind the lazy
sameyness. They take the Fuck Buttons'
uncanny ability to incorporate distortion while leaving behind the
lengthy stretches of uselessness.
Well then! Anyway, back to the present. At this show, the band played a healthy mix of old chestnuts ("Super Inuit," "Red Lights," "Royal Gregory" among them) while whipping out several new jams, each of which were pretty bumpin' in their own right. Here's hoping the next Holy Fuck album comes out sooner than later!
Below - a couple videos I shot at the show - the first, "Royal Gregory;" the second a fragment of one of the new jams. I post these videos with a disclaimer that they sound terrible due to the overloaded bass at the show. So, enjoy them at the risk of blowing out your computer speakers.
So, recently, I attended 7 show in 6 days, as mentioned above. Not too shabby a showing, if I do say so myself... in fact, that might actually be a personal record of some sort. [On that tip, who th' fuck knows / cares.] Over said 7 shows and 6 days, a ton of bands were seen (including Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Colin Stetson, Harvey Milk, Occultation, Fang Island, Hollerado, Monogold, Goes Cube, Austerity Program, Rosetta, Naam, Liquor Store, Wild Yaks), comical quantities of beverages were consumed, acquaintances were renewed with old friends, and an unfair amount of fun was had. Frankly, I have no clue how I managed to avoid getting really sick / throwing my back out / collapsing due to sheer exhaustion throughout this whole debacle because, let's face, it, I'm no spring chicken.
Anyway, deets onward:
Goes Cube, Austerity Program, Rosetta and Naam at Studio at Webster Hall, Wednesday March 9, 2011
Met up with my buddy Jimmy Dogshit for some booze (including appletinis, an unfortunate tradition of ours) and mediocre burgers at the Pour House. Our waitress resembled a wholesomer version of British pornstar McKenzie Lee. That's all I'm'a say about that.
Rolled up to Studio towards the end of Naam's set. Wish I had more to report on these guys (because I've been told they're worthwhile), but sadly I don't.
Rosetta was up next, and they lived up to their reputation as being "the hardest band in the world to mic." Their set at Santos in January opening up for Kylesa during one of the blizzards really converted me from "casual fan" to "ardent admirer who has no qualms shirking responsibilities to go out and see 'em on a random weeknight." The sound sucked ass (I know, unusual for a Studio show) but the sweaty performance made up for it.
Let's just say I enjoyed a few beverages. When I got home late night, I noticed that for some reason I had 7 empty plastic shot glasses in my pocket. "THESE'LL COME IN HANDY!" As mentioned earlier, a shabby performance by me this was not.
Austerity Program's set was next, and allow me to report (it ain't no secret): the house was thoroughly ROCKED. They played the entirety of their fucking stellar EP from last year, Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn, as well as "Song 20" and... uhhhh... was that it? Fuck, I don't remember, but let me tell ya, it sure made for great drunken thrashing around.
Goes Cube finished off the evening with exactly the type of skullfuckingly brutal performance that I've come to expect from them since I started seeing them live 5 years ago. [Goddamn, how many times have I seen these guys live? 15? 20? I'm not in Brooklyn at the time of this writing so I can't consult Tuddd Archives for the answer, but it's somewhere up there. [edit: apparently it's 15 times, although that assumes that Tuddd Archives is actually accurate, which is highly unlikely.] Shee-itt.] Anyway, their set drew liberally from what seemed like all of their most recent releases: 2009's Another Day Has Passed LP, last year's 7", the digital recording from Coextinction Recordings, and, of course, their forthcoming LP, In Tides and Drifts (which ain't out yet, but which, of course, I dorkily pre-ordered). With Goes Cube singer / guitarist David no longer living in NYC, I wasn't expecting the set to be as tight as it was, and the great sonics of the Studio space really highlighted Kenny's superb drumming and Matt nimbly holding down the low end. Obviously I'm a huge fan of these guys' music, and it was great to hear that this was the brand of fury they'd be truckin' down to SXSW. RAWK.
Anyway, tried to spit game with two Norwegian (uh, I think?) chicks post-show / failed miserably / wound up drinking Heinekens in the back of a cab during the ride home. Woo Fucking Hoo.
Liquor Store at Death by Audio, Thursday, March 10, 2011
Nuff. Fucking. Said.
Friday, March 11th: Monogold at Glasslands AND Fang Island at Bowery Ballroom.
Well, not really. Actually it's more about the combination of lucky scheduling and way too much time on my hands than anything else. But nonetheless, I'm not exactly sure when the last time was that I pulled off attending two shows in one day. Hmmmm. It might have possibly been in September '06 when I saw Mastodon at Webster Hall early, then Comets on Fire at Knitting Factory late. Not gonna lie, that was pretty fucking badass. ('Twas a good day indeed.) Anyhow, the way this night shook out, I already had tix for Fang Island at Bowery, but I figured out I'd check out Monogold's early opening set at Glasslands before heading in to Manhattan, knowing that Monogold would be setting out in the van and driving down towards South by Southwest literally the moment their set was over. Good shit.
I first saw Monogold's live show at their Public Assembly record release show in mid-January - holy shitballs are they a good band, and man, was that a fun night. They have a "current"-ish Williamsburg indie pop sound without the overbearing tweeness of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Grizzly Bear or whoever, while creating well-crafted, tuneful music that makes the kids want to shake they shit. I've also been enjoying the bejeezus out of their newest album, The Softest Glow, as a nice change of pace from the usual steady diet of Melvins > Sleep > Melvins > Sleep > Melvins > Sleep playlist that more often than not can be found blaring out of my car stereo.
Monogold's set on this night was great, as it had been the first time I saw 'em. Frankly, they're another band that proves that I Don't Know Jack Shit About What Makes Music Popular, because they should be fucking huge. My personal favorites from the set were "Dead Sea Minerals" and "Ivory Tusk, Golden Teeth"... check below for studio versions of these two sick motherfuckin' jams:
I wished the gents my best on their SXSW journey and basically ran the fuck out of Glasslands the moment their set was done, heading southward back to my apartment briefly for a quick power-up / pit stop. Sadly, this brief (yet hyper-necessary) dalliance meant that I'd get to Bowery towards the end of opening band Hollerado's set, which I regretted; I'd seen them open up for (and blow away) Black Lips (who fucking blow) in this same room in September '07. Anyway, by the time I stumbled into Bowery, Hollerado was in the middle of a positively rippin' jam based on ZZ Top's "La Grange," and they looked to be having a great fucking time... again, I wish I had made it there a bit earlier, goddamn it.
Snuck way up front amongst the assembled 12 year-olds for Fang Island's set. Of course, I'm on record as being a Fang Island booster from way back in the day. Don't believe me? Here's a short, sweet, and to the the point list of accolades I've heaped on these guys:
First time I saw them live was in 2008, opening for Chairlift at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and I loved 'em instantly.
Second time I saw them live, in April '10 at Maxwell's, uhhhhh... looks like I didn't write them up or anything that time around, but my buddy OattJerk shot this video of "Daisy" at the show. Honest Injun.
When it came time compile a list of my favorite songs of 2010, Fang Island scored the year's top slot, with an unprecendented *four* songs in the Top 25. Impressive!
And, as befitting an album with so many fantastic songs, Fang Island's Fang Island topped my "Best Albums of 2010" list. It's also one of the ten best albums of all time by anyone.
Right on cue, this night's Fang Island set was somethin' special. In fact, my only real complaint about the previous two times I'd seen them -- sour vocals -- seems to have been largely remedied. And the larger Bowery stage allowed the three guitarists ample room to bust out some hilariously over the top ARENA RAWK stage moves. The setlist consted of most of songs from Fang Island (YAY!), with few older ones and one new one thrown in... I was hoping they'd have six Andrew W.K.s come out to reprise his glorious quasi-operatic vocal coda from "Patterns on the Wall" but alas it wasn't to be... regardless, even without that highly unlikely occurrence going down, this was one of the finest sets that I've seen all year.
OK, naptime. I will try to get a post up about Saturday / Sunday / Monday's shows and goings on but I can't promise anything... heading to Costa Rica on Wednesday for what's sure to be the Douchiest Bachelor Party Ever With the Douchiest Group of Douches That Ever Douched. Tuddd out.
I finally got motivated at about 9:45 or so and walked over to Death by Audio only to be told that the show wasn't going to start for awhile, which kind of blows. See, in NYC when a show is advertised as starting at 8, that usually means that the first act takes the stage at 9, and so forth. Maybe there were some extenuating circumstances further delaying the show's start, who cares. I used this opportunity to head over to Oasis and eat a shawarma. Not too shabby, but by the time I got back to Death by Audio it didn't look like anyone was any closer to, you know, performing music. Sat around for another long while.
Eventually, Bloody Panda took the stage, and I dug their shit good 'nuff. Elements of black metal, doom and stoner stuff which is always a good combo. Their stage presence was kind of fucked up, with all 5 members of the band wearing black hoods covering their entire heads, and with the keyboard player and vocalist standing in front of the stage (as opposed to on it). Because I had no idea what was going on, for much of the set I was under the mistaken impression that the female vox were canned only to eventually discover that the vocalist was standing about fifteen feet directly to my left. Huh.
Poniak was up next and they had kind of a slow stonery vibe which I also enjoyed, alternating between more traditional chunky riffing and quieter strumming. At one point the guitarist/vocalist came offstage and began smacking shit around on a drumset that was on the floor against the front of the stage, facing the rest of the band. Neat-o.
At least one other band played after Bloody Panda and Pontiak, although by this point it was 1:30 AM, my back was killing me and I didn't feel like sitting on the floor, my cell phone and iPod were both dying, and I had places to go (my room), people to see (HAHAHAHA good one) and things to do (figure out the secret to cold fusion, natch). So if you're one of the bands I missed and you're Googling yourself expecting to find a review of your set, next time try taking the fucking stage at a reasonable hour. Thanks!
King Khan tonight (probably). Muddd onward and such.
[Above picture is not from this show, although what's pictured above definitely happened at this show.]
So I'm feeling content and rested after a weekend trip to Charlotte for a buddy's combination birthday/engagement/finished law school/passed-the-bar party. What better way to celebrate returning to blue state territory than going to see some good ol' fashioned performance art?
I caught Monotonix' set in late July at Bowery Ballroom when they played with Early Man, and even though I left before the headliner (Violent Thorr)'s set, that was easily one of the top 15 shows I've seen this year. If you're in the market for insane stage antics (more on this later), then I'd highly suggest checking these bastards out before they get deported for severely injuring themselves / crowdmembers or accidentally burning an underground venue down.
I'm a bit ashamed to admit that this was my first time at Death by Audio, considering that I've lived less than 10 blocks away from it for the last four months. This means that my only real previous exposure to DbA was the Pitchfork.tv piece on A Place to Bury Strangers (Death by Audio is also the name of APTBS frontdude Oliver Ackermann's distortion pedal business). When I showed up 9ish, there were few signs of what was to come; at that point the performance space was largely empty and the "back room" (slightly smaller than the performance area) was populated by 12 or so bored looking hipsters watching an inscrutably arty film which was projected on the wall. I bought a coupla cans of Busch and settled in.
Apparently one of the evening's bands had cancelled, so I have to presume that the first band that actually played was a last minute fill-in. Didn't catch their name, but they were a two-piece with kind of a typical early hardcore sound with superfast drumming/riffs and barked vocals, but with a more muddled guitar sound than I'm used to with shouty hardcore stuff. Kinda generic fare to be honest.
I got hungry (and gassy) so I walked down to the crappy Chinese place at the corner of Bedford and South 2nd. A few minutes after ordering the curry chicken, I was handed a box of something covered with a brown sauce. I pointed out to the woman behind the counter that there was no way that what she had given me was actually curry chicken, but she disagreed. Fair enough - after all, the customer isn't necessarily always right. Didn't feel like making a stink so I ate up and got the eff out of dodge.
Before the show I had noticed at least one of the dudes from Ex Models walking around, and by the time I got back to DbA after polishing off the fake curry, I noticed said dude was onstage, and his band was halfway through their set. As it turned out these guys were called Knyfe Hyts and they're apparently an Ex Models side project. I enjoyed the Ex Models set I caught when they opened up for Deerhunter last July, and I must say I liked what I heard of Knyfe Hyts even better: they've abandoned the hardcore-ish tendencies of Ex Models, replacing that with somewhat kinda garagey stoner metal type stuff, while retaining Ex Models' krautrockish persistence and no-wave artiness. Highlight for me was the loooooong set closer which consisted of basically one note repeated for about 10 minutes with some discoish high hat shit going on. Very danceable and kinda awesome. The tokers in the room took this as their cue to fire that shit up, and understandably so.
Monotonix was up next, and these guys know how to fuckin' party! The set itself, like any great/terrible blackout, is a bit hazy as to the actual order in which stuff happened. Suffice it to say that the actual music is merely incidental; even if the tunes were great -- which they're definitely not -- it would be tough to concentrate on the music whenyou're actually fearing for your own safety. If you haven't seen them live and don't want spoilers, DON'T READ THE RED INK BELOW.
Okay. I feel bullet points are in order. The following happened:
Pre set, it was somewhat sheepishly announced that "these guys set a lot of fires so be careful." Sure enough, the drummer dude began the set by setting his cymbals and sticks ablaze and thrashing about.
I should mention that like Lightning Bolt, Monotonix refuses to perform onstage. Unlike Lightning Bolt, Monotonix' singer spends a good part of the set dumping the room's garbage cans over the drummer's head.
Said garbage cans had many uses, with my favorite being when the singer actually hopped in one and crowdsurfed about the room. My least favorite was when the crowd began chucking the cans across the room. Normally repelling a giant garbage can isn't too big of a chore, but with the number of flashes going off in the room I could barely tell what the fuck was going on. CONK!
The drummer seems to endure the most abuse but manages to maintain a reasonably steady beat despite being pretty much defenseless against the onslaughts of the crowd and his bandmembers. Several times actual pieces of his kit were dragged across the room, necessitating several impromptu changes of scenery during the set.
At one point, the crowd wrestled the bass drum away, and next thing I know the drummer (who has to be about 6'4") is sailing over the crowd while sitting on the bass drum, and still somehow keeping the beat.
By the end of the set, the band had been carried off along with their equipment into the smaller room before leading the crowd in an a capella rendition of Queen's "We Will Rock You." Frickin' hilarious.
Well, there you have it. If you think any of the antics described above are hilarious, then I have at least one thing in common with you. See you tonight at (le) poisson rouge for Deerhunter.