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  • Milkman Stomp!!

    22 avr. 2009, 17h22m

    Fri 17 Apr – The Dead Milkmen

    First NYC gig in 15 years. I had two tickets, and sold my unused one to a stoned dwarf who rode to Brooklyn on his little clown bike.
    Though there is no more Dave Blood (RIP), the guy they have now sure has close to the same sound.
    Rodney Anonymous hates Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Charlie Daniels and that guy with 18 kids who has a show on The Learning Channel. He's right to do so.
    Rodney also has a HUGE amount of energy, and his keyboard programming is stored on 3.5" floppy discs.
    I never really thought of DM as musicians before -- more as a group of guys who sort of played some instruments at nearly the same time. Seeing them live though, that changed things. I didn't hear much in the way of pre-recorded tracks, and damn they sounded GOOD.
    I wasn't expecting the mosh pit to start the moment their set began. Most of the other people on the floor weren't expecting it either.
    Three seconds into the first song, a guy threw up on my feet. Beer was flying through the air. And someone farted.

    Of the two opening acts, GANG was not bad -- I bought their EP for $5 -- but Corn Mo/357 Lover was one of the worst things I have ever heard. They are what you'd get if Bruce Dickinson fronted Styx and tried to write Queen songs. Avoid at all costs.
  • Rockin' trombones!

    27 mai 2008, 20h03m

    Mon 26 May – Firewater, Skeleton Key

    Unfortunately this isn't going to be a complete review as I had to leave at midnight.

    I'm not sure if the advertised DJ set came before or after the main performances but if it was before then it was totally uninteresting and uninspiring, serving only to delay the actual band performances.

    I don't think that too many of the audience were there to see Skeleton Key or had even heard of them before this event. That didn't seem to stop them enjoying SK's always-engaging set though; Ben's bashing, crashing antics and spotlight trombone from the balcony during "Roses" received rousing cheers and applause. "Machine Screw" continues to evolve into something very different to its recorded version and it's always interesting to see what the band has done with it since the last time I saw them. They also played one track that I've heard live before but doesn't appear on any recording that I know of - a natty little number with a museum-based motif. This track along with others that have only ever been played live like "Little Monster," "Everybody's Crutch," "Iron Fist Alchemist" and "Smile" coupled with the new tintype photos of the band that have surfaced and Erik's enigmatic comment that "you probably won't be seeing us for a while" tickle that perpetual hope that some new studio material might appear soon.

    As for Firewater, I hadn't heard of them at all before the announcement of this gig. The tracks that I was able to listen to of theirs from various online sources were pretty interesting if a little same-sounding. Opening their set with "Hey Clown" was a great move though, and got the crowd engaged with the band's style right from the get-go. Dhol player Johnny Kalsi certainly livened things up with his energetic solos and the background textures he brought to all the songs, and Tod A. has a very commanding voice with a great, pure tone that harmonised nicely with Erik Sanko's as he provided backing vox and played guest bass.
    The absolute standout performer of the evening was brass player Reut Regev whose trombone and other intrument (not sure exactly what it was) really worked well with the style of music. Her extended breaks during "Borneo" and "Bhangra Bros" earned justifiably huge applause from the audience.
    Technical problems arose after a few numbers however, and Tod A. had to borrow an instrument from Skeleton Key's guitarist. It took a while for this to get set up which meant the gig rather lost its momentum, and it was around this point that I had to leave so I don't know if it picked up again afterwards.


    The whole gig did leave me pondering a few questions. There's the aforementioned hope of more recordings from SK, but that's tempered by the realisation that it wouldn't make sense for Sanko to have learned the vocal and bass parts for all the Firewater songs just for a single night's performance. Is Sanko guesting for the entire tour? Is he putting SK on hiatus and actually joining Firewater? Could he be doing another solo album? I guess we'll all just have to wait and see.
  • Euphonium! Mandolin! 12-String Guitar!

    30 avr. 2008, 15h46m

    Mon 28 Apr – Crowded House, Don McGlashan

    After last summer's tour, Crowded House announced that they were going to tour again and play longer engagements at smaller, more intimate venues. This show was the first of these and demonstrated why the band wanted to do this: the crowd was fully engaged and enthusiastic and everyone (including the band) got to have a great time.
    Don McGlashan opened the show but only the Kiwis knew anything about him, and even their knowledge was limited to his material with The Mutton Birds - one fellow insistently called for "Dominion Road" even into the Crowded House set. Despite most people not knowing his material he graciously showed off his fantastic songwriting abilities to such an extent that people were singing along with his choruses by the end of his time on stage. He also joked with the crowd and introduced us to his euphonium (though he didn't call it that by name; most thought it was a tuba) by recording himself playing the horn track from "A Thing Well Made" and then accompanying it with guitar and vocals. His set gave us just a little taste of his extensive musical abilities, more of which would be demonstrated later.
    And what can be said about Crowded House? An immaculate set in a decidedly laid-back mood. Most tracks in the main set were down-tempo and relaxed, with McGlashan hovering on the sidelines providing backup on a number of different instruments including horns, harmonica, 6-string mandolin, toy piano and guitar as well as vocals. Despite the relaxed nature of many of the songs, Mark Hart's fantastic guitar skills really showed themselves. His solos and support work on the 12-string were staggeringly good, though at one point he took the lead vocal demonstrating that he really should stay as a backing-vocal voice.
    Neil Finn encouraged the audience to sing choruses and bridges in a number of different songs, obviously enjoying the atmosphere of the crowd. At one point he had us simply hold and harmonise with notes that he played on the guitar; the sound was quite wonderful down on the floor and I can only imagine how nice it must have been for him to be singing to people who were so obviously engaged with his music.
    After almost two hours on stage (three hours for McGlashan) the show reached its high point in an encore with Private Universe, which built in an almost organic way on Matt Sherrod's stomping, pounding groove. A second encore of audience requests formed the evening's dénouement, bringing the crowd out of their hypnosis and back into a state suitable for life outside the confines of the performance space. Stepping out onto the damp street, everything in the city felt almost within reach - fresh and alive and invigorated - and very, very happy.
  • WHA??? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!

    21 avr. 2008, 15h13m

    Sun 20 Apr – They Might Be Giants - A Special Show for Families (1:00p)

    Too damn loud. WAY too damn loud.
    Sure the performance was good, and it actually started out at a (barely) tolerable volume level but rapidly went downhill.
    This show was advertised as a "special show for families" so there were a lot of children and even infants in the audience. The mix was way off -- drums overpowered pretty-much everything -- so the vocals were mostly inaudible and by the time you got to the fourth or fifth song the audience was full of crying children with their hands clamped to their ears.

    Overall, a disappointment.
  • A bunch of dumb and one grand performance.

    17 déc. 2007, 18h22m

    Sat 15 Dec – Chemlab, Cyanotic, Skeleton Key, U.S.S.A., MegaNeura
    I dunno what the hell MeganeurA were meant to be, but they were all about their Obi-Wan robes and not so much about good music.
    Cyanotic were better but if I had wanted to hear that type of music and pre-recorded drum tracks (their drummer was perfectly capable; not sure why they thought they needed a backup) I would have brought a PWEI or Machines of Loving Grace CD with me. One of their keyboards was set up on a weird "dance" stand that bounced up and down and rocked around on stage. Kind of neat, but it meant that only one hand could be used for playing music. Image at the expense of content, I say. The singer called me out from onstage for not being into their music enough. Meh.
    U.S.S.A. cancelled for this show. No comment there.
    Skeleton Key ROCKED SOLID. The tour was obviously good for them, and Bob did very well as the New Guy. Ben threw his shit kit all over the stage and even broke out the grinder, showering Craig (and the audience) with sparks. Erik was in grand voice, with little of the sense of strain that he sometimes gets. Standout track was Machine Screw which has morphed into something very different to the recorded version, and different even to the version they played a couple of weeks ago at Brighton Bar. Here's hoping they can find their way into a studio sometime soon and record a few of the newer tracks; they've been playing things that aren't even on Live at Metro lately.
    I didn't stick around for Chemlab. I hope they were good, for those who had wanted to see them.
  • More Of A Rehearsal Than A Full Show

    9 nov. 2007, 18h27m

    Thu 8 Nov – Skeleton Key
    The Brighton Bar is an odd little place. It's stuck in suburban small-town New Jersey a long way from anywhere, but it made for a fine rehearsal space. SK's new drummer Bob -- not sure if he's a permanent member yet or just on board for this tour -- had had exactly one practice session with the band, the day before. He does seem to be a good fit with the band's songs and style and with a bit more familiarity (and a little less rust from the rest of the band) the band could be really jumping. Craig said that they should be getting good just about the time the tour is over.... so it's looking good for the Knitting Factory show!
  • Billy Who?

    9 août 2007, 16h55m

    Sat 9 Dec – Stolen Babies, Skeleton Key, The Billy Nayer Show
    So yeah, Stolen Babies weren't really the headliners here. And The Billy Nayer Show? Billy No-Show more like it.
    I'd seen both Skeleton Key and Stolen Babies a week earlier down in New Jersey (see review); SB played basically the same set this time but SK's show was quite different. No more grinder sparks, and quite a few different songs in the set. They did several encores, including a fantastic performance of "You Might Drown." As long as they're dragging out rarer material I hope I get to see them play "Solitaire" sometime......
    Erik announced that this was Sean's last gig with the band as he was going back to school, and Craig later confirmed that the band would be on hiatus for a while. I know that a few months later they were actively looking for a new drummer so hopefully we'll see new material and/or new shows from the guys soon. Let's hope it's not too long because Skeleton Key is one band that should never, ever be passed over if they're in your area.
  • Thundering, sparking, gut-thudding percussive funk with a devilish twinkle in its eye

    9 août 2007, 16h44m

    Sat 2 Dec – Skeleton Key
    I'd been intrigued by Skeleton Key since my wife found a copy of their self-titled EP in a thrift store. The clanking, wheezing machine of macabre noise appealed to my dark humour so I casually sought out their other releases. This concert made me a rabid fan, however.
    We arrived quite early, and sat at the bar beside Erik Sanko and the rest of the band for quite a long time, not brave enough to approach them and say hi, though I did raise a beer to him which he acknowleged with a grin. Had I known what a nice guy he is I probably would have bought them all a round or two.
    Stolen Babies were a little odd, with a nice quirkiness that was a little too much image and not enough musical substance. Their lyrics could do with some imagination and a little less repetition, but I did find myself humming some of their melodies a few days later.
    As for Skeleton Key, Erik is an astounding, energetic musician; the top of his head seemed to hinge backwards as he howled the chorus to "Spineless" or "Little Monster," and his bass continued to roar with that special SK funk the whole time. Craig handled his peculiar guitar sounds with ease as the two stringmen bobbed and weaved on the cramped stage, and Sean ticked consistently, tucked away in the back corner. Ben though, was a fiery bashing machine - literally. During part of the set he brought out a grinder which showered sparks across the stage, and at another point he pounded mightily on a slab of iron with a hammer. As impressive as the showiness of this was, what was really staggering was when it clicked that he was still playing an instrument - the sounds he produced matched those recorded on the studio versions of the songs they played.
    This is a band that I will go and see at any time, in any place, if it's at all possible for me to get to the gig, and this was the gig that turned me into that kind of a fan.
  • BOC @ The College of Staten Island

    9 août 2007, 16h07m

    Sat 18 Nov – Blue Öyster Cult
    Only four actual members of the band were on stage but that didn't stop them making a lot of noise or having a good time. After the first song Eric announced that Allen Lanier was ill, but that was no impediment to new members Jules Radino on drums and local boy Richie Castellano on bass really showing themselves as perfect fits with Eric and Buck and the band's music. Castellano in particular was astounding; playing a 5-string bass he's equally impressive with a pick or fingers. He plays chords, he plays funky pops and slaps, he beats on the body of the guitar, he fingertaps, he plays harmonics (!) and he also sings. Radino drives it all along with a kit of sensible size that he makes sound far bigger than it actually is.
    Richie's father opened the proceedings and Eric gave a number of shout-outs for Castellano's House of Music during the show. Part-way through the set Eric introduced a friend of Richie's named Andy Ascolese to do keyboard duties; Eric said this guy had never played with them before so it would be interesting to see how it went but he handled his part very well and was even given a guitar during a couple of songs, so they were able to do a 4-man guitar jam during the encore.

    Setlist:
    The Red and the Black
    OD'd on Life Itself
    Burnin' for You (Buck vocal)
    This Ain't the Summer of Love
    Shooting Shark (Buck vocal; Eric keys)
    Harvester of Eyes
    Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll
    Black Blade (Andy keys)
    Then Came the Last Days of May (Buck vocal; Andy guitar)
    Godzilla (with bass and drum solos)
    [long Buck solo]
    (Don't Fear) The Reaper (Buck vocal)
    Encore:
    Hot Rails to Hell (Richie vocal; Andy keys and guitar)
  • Stunningly good show

    9 août 2007, 15h52m

    Wed 8 Aug – Crowded House, Pete Yorn
    I'll start by saying that I like Crowded House's music well enough to own most of their albums on CD and vinyl, but I wouldn't really call myself a major fan. However, this show could very well tip the balance.
    Neil's son Liam Finn opened with an interesting solo set, and damn can that boy play and sing. He did some fun things where he (surreptitiously) recorded himself playing, seamlessly looped it, played more, looped it, switched instruments or guitar tones, looped it, switched instruments.... He's got a way to go to catch up with his father's songwriting abilities but he's certainly got the technical chops to eventually match Neil's musicianship.
    The second opening act, Pete Yorn, isn't someone I'm familiar with. He started with a Warren Zevon song and after a few more songs freely admitted being influenced by Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen; these influences were clear and in many ways really served to highlight the guy's limited range. The sound mix was also way off which made his set a little bit frustrating. I do plan to check out some of his recorded material though.
    And then the great Crowded House themselves. Onto the stage and straight into "Locked Out," and then some slower pieces which invited audience sing-alongs. Something special happened around this point: the audience sang Neil Finn's songs back to him with a beautiful tone and passion that obviously impressed the man. This was repeated during a number of songs throughout the 2+ hours the band were on stage.
    The band were chatty and in good humour, and it's been a long long time since I've seen a group of musicians who were so incredibly comfortable with their instruments and material. Their playing was almost flawless but didn't have the stiff clinicality of rote performance, and there were a number of lightly-rehearsed classic NZ pieces which were especially humourous for us kiwis in the audience.
    Possibly because of the amazing audience response to the band, Neil encouraged people to come and dance in the fenced-off orchestra pit during "Don't Dream It's Over" ("Tell security to f--- off!" he said), even getting down in there himself at one point. However, it turned out that the floor down there was unsafe and Neil had to ask them to move out again. Surprisingly, everybody did so without grumbling, and the show continued. During one of the two encores however, both Neil and Nick moved their gear down into the pit and stood on packing crates in order to be as close to the audience as possible.
    All in all it was an extremely entertaining evening, and a concert I'm very glad to have attended.