News of Sullivan Hall's sudden closing was met with disappointment by many - in particular those involved with the NYC jam band scene. Personally, I had some great memories from the two Lawn Boys shows that I managed to catch at Sullivan Hall in 2013; that place had a fantastic sound system and a great vibe, even if the bartenders were incompetent and the bathroom situation was a joke. This Lawn Boys show had been scheduled to go down on the evening that Sullivan Hall's closing was announced, which had them scrambling for a last-minute change of venue. Fortunately, they were able to secure a late-night slot at Knitting Factory, conveniently (for me!) in my neighborhood, just a mile or so from where I'd last seen them, at Europa in Greenpoint, just a week before Phish's Fall Tour began.
Prior to that Europa show, The Lawn Boys had announced that their keyboard player would be departing. Fake Page's spot for this show would be filled by the dude from Strange Design, and he was great, but it would be a little while before they'd find a permanent replacement. [At the time of this writing, I haven't seen them since the new guy has come onboard although I intend to catch at least one of their Garcia's residency shows this month and their upcoming show at SPiN NYC.]
Although I was psyched that Lawn Boys would be playing in my neighborhood, a midnight start time is a tall order. Of course, any reservations I may have had about it being worth it were put to bed early on, since Lawn Boys are fucking awesome. Highlights for me were the (unintentional?) extended piano break in "Poor Heart," a smokin' "Stash," a fanastic "Tweezer" with "Heartbreaker" jam (see above for video), and the second set-closing "Mike's" > "Paug." See below for the setlist.
By the time this show finally wound down after 3 AM, I'd made a few new, uh, "Phriends" (facepalm), engaged in any number of aggressively nerdy Phish-centric conversations ("FALL TOUR ROCKED BREH!!!), and drank more than my share of cheap-ass beers. (I'd also gone a little over 9 miles on the pedometer :->) Fortunately, we wouldn't have to wait too long to see Lawn Boys plying their trade, as they would be returning to 89 North in Patchogue the following weekend - I'll post my review of that show some time over the next couple of weeks.
I enjoy pretty much all of King Khan and Mark Sultan (a/k/a BBQ)'s projects; King Khan and his Shrines approximates a scuzzier, low-rent James Brown both on record and onstage, and Mark Sultan's solo work gives him plenty of space to let his Sam Cooke-esque pipes breathe in a one-man band setting. But to me, their finest work is done with each other, as King Khan & BBQ Show, and there's plenty of stuff on their three albums together which should be required listening for all garage rock fanatics.
I've seen Khan with his Shrines several times, and I finally caught a Mark Sultan solo show last May at Knitting Factory Brooklyn (click here for video I took at that show), but this was to be the first KK / BBQ live show I've ever seen, and (I'm pretty sure) their first NYC appearance since their meltdown and subsequent breakup awhile back.
I had ambitions this evening of hitting this show, then hustling back to Williamsburg to catch Marnie Stern's set at Music Hall, and with Santos' website stating that there was another show at the venue after KK & BBQ with doors listed at 10 PM, that seemed like a pretty reasonable goal with Marnie probably not likely to hit the stage until at least 11 PM. Of course, wishful thinking on my part, since the opener didn't even take the fucking stage until after 9 PM. Grrrrrrrrrrr.
By the time Bloodshot Bill's set started up, the front of the stage was uncomfortably jampacked, and people were by and large shitfaced. Bloodshot Bill's performance style resembles Mark Sultan's live setup in many ways, as he performs in one-man-band fashion too, playing guitar, singing, and playing percussion (bass drum and hi-hat) with his feet. (He and Sultan did a decent album of together a couple years ago as The Ding-Dongs, and supposedly have more recorded work in the pipeline under that name.) But where Sultan's voice is built for crooning, Bloodshot Bill's froggy rasp, Buddy Holly hiccups and Jon Spencerish Elvisisms are an entirely different beast altogether. I very much enjoyed his set, which included several classic covers - check below for a fragment of his version of "California Sun."
Prior to KK / BBQ taking the stage, an 8-foot tall glittery penis was hauled onstage as a stage prop, foreshadowing the raucous atmosphere in the crowd and the bawdy onstage humor which would characterize the set. Look behind Khan to the left in this photo for a glimpse:
The set was very entertaining, and it was great to see the crowd rocking the fuck out and getting rowdy instead of the typical NYC bullshit. Khan and Sultan came out dressed in outlandish robes and headdresses, with Sultan performing seated, playing guitar and singing while keeping the beat with his one of his feet each on bass and snare drum, while, ever the showman, Khan assertively stalked the stage, vamping and mugging while (occasionally) playing his guitar with his tongue. Honestly, if there's anyone around that does a better job at the sleazy garage rock thing these days (no, not the Black Lips), I'd love to hear about them.
No clue on the setlist, but before I left I remember they definitely played "Waddlin' Around," "Fish Fight," "Love You So" and the hilarious "Tastebuds" (see below for video of "Tastebuds"). I left elevenish to hit up the aforementioned Marnie Stern show - check back Wednesday for my review of that, plus video an' shit.
While Williamsburg's musical landscape is dotted with seemingly countless indie pop acts, Monogold is one such band that is actually worth your time, and then some. Bringing together elements of classic indie, shimmering dreampop, shoegaze and even '50s surf, Monogold's tunes are characterized by eclectic melodicism and chill-yet-danceable tuneage.
On this night, Monogold played a late show at Knitting Factory supported by previous tour mates CHAPPO, whom I'd actually never heard perform before. CHAPPO's set consisted mainly of catchy, punchy songs which wouldn't have sounded out of place on 80s pop radio during MTV's heyday, or, say, over the closing credits of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Fun as hell, and exactly what you want out of an opening act.
During CHAPPO's set, it became evident that this was not your typical lame-ass Williamsburg crowd. While the liberally flowing beverages (the show was actually sponsored by Jameson Black Barrel, who provided free samples) likely contributed to the festive atmosphere, this was a crowd unconcerned with the typical too-cool-for-school bullshit that chokes the Billyburg "scene." It was nice for a change to be amongst a bunch of sweaty, drunk sumbitches who came to rock the fuck out, hootin' and hollerin' to and fro all the livelong day.
Monogold took the stage just before 1 AM, opening the set with standout new track, "Holograms" (go here to see a video I shot of this song last time I saw Monogold live in December). The set was comprised mostly of new tracks from their upcoming album, including standout "Under Daisies" (see below for video), with a few old chestnuts (including "Dead Sea Minerals" and "Spirit or Something" from 2011's The Softest Glow. The crowd's rowdiness didn't relent - beer was spilled, "WOOOOOOOOO!!!"s were shouted, and rugs were cut. Good shit all around!
It's a shame that it took me so long, but the first thing I heard by Parts and Labor was their (excellent) final album, 2011's Constant Future. I was fortunate enough to be able to catch the band live four times total, including their final show ever at 285 Kent (at which I shot thesefourcrappyvideos). Also here's a review I wrote of P&L's Cake Shop show from 2011.
Of course, after hearing Constant Future I went back and dug as deeply as the internets would allow into P&L's immensely rewarding catalog, eventually branching out into Dan Friel's solo stuff (his Ghost Town album from 2008 is great, too), so I was glad to hear he'd be putting out a new album in '13. In fact, the first tracks from that new album, Total Folklore, were released on a 12" late last year, in time for one of them to score a Top 5 slot on my Best Songs of 2012 list.
For the uninitiated - Dan Friel's solo stuff fits right in with the Parts and Labor aesthetic of huge, arena-ready hooks played through equipment that's often homemade and noisy. In a recent Village Voice article, Friel described it as follows: [his archaic home recording setup] "...fits the aesthetic really well as far as using technology, getting to know it, and not trading up. The keyboard I've used is the keyboard I got when I was eight—the same one I always use. I like not making it about technology but making it just about what is available."
This show served as an album release show for Total Folklore, with most of the songs in the set being drawn from that. Friel performed several songs from the new album and a couple unreleased songs during the set, most of them solo, but a couple with violin accompaniment (see the "Valedictorian" video below) and some with horns. For the last two songs of the set, he was joined by a chorus of eight or so acoustic guitarists, four horn players, the violin, and a drummer... check 'em out:
If you've heard Metz' album, you know they're a band with a persistent, singular sound that is sack-crushingly AWESOME. If you haven't: they sound like a band that's unhealthily obsessed with "Negative Creep" who also wants to bitchslap your nuts all the way out of your frickin' earholes.
In the live setting, they are nothing short of striking - perfect music to beat the everloving tar out of your buddy to, as evidenced by the two top-heavy jackasses humping each other bloody senseless at the front of the stage at this very show. RAWK.
[the above picture was found simply by Googling "disaster."]
This fine evening, I attended the Cheeseburger show at Knitting Factory. Here are some things that happened!
My buddy Devin came over for some pregame. Let's just say several a capella versions of Melvins' "Suicide in Progress" were performed.
Met up w/Sluggo and his gf at the show. Began drinking Tecates because it's apparently Cinco de Mayo, beetchez.
I had seen -- and enjoyed the pants off of -- opening band Hard Nips last time I saw Cheeseburger, at Bell House in mid-March. With this band, it's all about how much fun they're having onstage, and how unless you're a total schmuck you have to love watching them perform. Tonight they brought their super-excited brand of 2-chord Joan Jett-style rawk to my neighborhood (literally, a half mile from my doorstep!). This was Hard Nips' record release show and, predictably, I got so worked up at the show that I walked out without remembering to buy their album. That sucks, because I don't think their shit is available on eMusic, iTunes, Amie Street, or anywhere. Crap-ola.
Talked with some of the bros from 'burger pre-show and I learned that 1.) original Cheeseburger singer Joe Bradley was in the house; 2.) he was planning to perform. Yay! And, 3.) noone seems to know if or when the new 'burger album is coming out. Boo!
Set opened with "Easy Street," and the band busted through a ton of the classics ["Derby Day," "Jellybean," "Tiger," "Money for the Heart," a couple of new ones named "Winner" and "Suzie," and probably some more jams I should remember but don't].
I can't speak for the whole crowd because I was (of course) stationed at the edge of the stage all night, but up front things were pretty hectic. Some tiny blonde chick ripped my loungy fat guy shirt off twice.
Ok, fine. Self-indulgent bullet point: I sang on "Easy Street" and "Derby Day" briefly before being pulled onstage for part of "Tiger." Good stuff. Devin probably spent more time onstage than I did.
"New" vocalist Jayson Greene (Panthers, Orchid) rocked the house. There were plenty of equipment problems, but that's what happens when you decide to stage your concert at a beer-throwing contest. Kinda wonder if this type of deal is some sort of electrocution hazard.
My ankles are seriously trashed. Otherwise, I feel as though a garbage truck ran me over at full speed.
At one point the singer jumped off the stage and (perhaps by design) I was the only moron that made any attempt to catch him. As a result, currently I can't turn my neck to the right.
Said stagedive occurred during "Money for the Heart," right during the "we're gonna make it!" section. I was so drunk at that point that I thought exclaiming "we didn't make it!" was the funniest thing a human's ever said. Kill me.
Spongebob made an appearance, in pinata form. Remember when, back in the day, Cheeseburger brought pinatas to their shows and people would get conked by the huge flying beasts? That was awesome.
For the last song of the set, Joe Bradley took the stage for an awesomely feces-encrusted version of "Do You Remember." Just as the song was starting, somebody THREW UP ALL OVER ME. Post show I took inventory and it appeared to be a massive beer-boot, with perhaps 3 or so slices of pureed pizza mixed in.
I can't stress enough how totally trashed the room was by the end of the set. There were beercans hanging from the stage lights, for fuck's sake. I would seriously doubt Knitting Factory will ever let them play there again. Good work, folks!