Friday, August 17, 2007

Interlude: A Weekend Month In The City


I’m beginning to get the impression that, as a New Yorker, I’m really spoiled when it comes to opportunities to hear music. The multi-million dollar reno-venue Terminal 5, whose October opening was announced over at brooklynvegan the other day, marks the latest in a slew of new venues this year, which includes the Highline Ballroom and the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Unfortunately, the recent passings of Sin-e,Tonic, and, of course, CBGB suggest that maintaining a venue is far from easy, but in an industry where the ship is apparently sinking, the aggressive expansion of live music is still promising.

The first band that’s playing Terminal 5 is the National, whose most recent offering Boxer is a massively hyped album, and as far as I’m concerned, well deserving of each snippet of praise. But for New Yorkers not content with this October 11th show – not to mention the band’s five-night stay at the Bowery Ballroom in May – the National is playing a free show at the South Street Seaport tonight, a part of the River to River festival that’s been happening all summer long.

Unfortunately, my largely forgettable stay upstate prevented me from catching most of the June and July events, aside from Animal Collective, but it seems that August will compensate. Last weekend was a fantastic start; although not quite as excessive as the weekend before. Unfortunately I’m still camera-less, and these photos are taken with gratitude from various Flickrites. Thanks!

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I arrived unfashionably early to the Seaport on a drizzly Friday evening, although I must say both the unsummery weather and the relatively sparse crowd was a nice change of pace. DJ … of the Fun parties at Studio B spun for a good half-hour before the first set, and his material included these contemporary classics, in some form or another.

MP3: Daft Punk – Da Funk
MP3: Hot Chip - Over And Over (Party Ben's Smell Of Repetition Remix)
MP3: LCD Soundsystem – Get Innocuous! (Geek Chic's Harm-Free Retouch)

Metronomy – South Street Seaport, 7:00 – 8:00
Featuring my head on the left (via)

In retrospect, Metronomy was a very appropriate opener for Au Revoir Simone. The UK trio (“right at home” in the damp weather) played a similarly synth-based set, as well as relying on guitar and bass. The three band members wore black shirts with large round lights attached, although one of them broke (“not to worry, they're only a pound”). The band gave a strikingly abstract performance for the majority of the set, hooting like apes on "Are Mums Mates" and striking matching poses at times. However, “Heartbreaker” featured frontman Joseph Mount's world-weary delivery, and despite the unoriginality of the subject matter, it provided a nice, straightforward pop song. Metronomy was solid, and I look forward to investigating their studio material.

MySpace: Metronomy

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Au Revoir Simone – South Street Seaport, 8:00- 9:00
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There’s an undeniable charm surrounding Au Revoir Simone, and from the first chords of sleepy opener “The Lucky One” to outro "The Way To There" a sort of aural sunlight permeated the Seaport. The trio’s array of synths and drum machines created gentle, borderline danceable washes, with many of the songs featuring at least some foundation of breakbeat. Unfortunately, the band played for less than an hour, and despite their penchant for crafting achingly pretty melodies, I would have been happy to trade some of the slower inclusions, particularly in the middle of the set, for more lively numbers. “Night Majestic” and “Stars,” which I'd consider as some of their strongest songs, were strangely omitted. I was a little more fond of their slightly more intimate set at Other Music last year, but personal preference aside, this is really a gem of a group. Au Revoir Simone plays at the Mercury Lounge on September 8th.

MP3: Au Revoir Simone - Through The Backyards
MP3: Au Revoir Simone - Fallen Snow
Official Site: Au Revoir Simone


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After taking Saturday to recuperate, Sunday marked my long awaited return to Brooklyn. Bedford Avenue is looking more and more like home with every trip on the L Train I take, but it was my first time at McCarren Pool. I wasn't really prepared for the massive place (with a booming sound system to match), and there was a traumatic flashback to other free shows when I saw how long the line was to get in. But apparently our efforts to RSVP were unnecessary, because it moved quickly and getting in wasn't a problem. We did miss Birds of Avalon, but I'd say we got our money's worth nonetheless.


The Thermals – McCarren Pool, 4:00 - 5:00
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The Thermals played a set that was pretty indistinguishable from their Kimmel one, but I'm not sure if the implications are entirely positive or negative. This band is loud, rocks hard and has a political message that's intellectual and personal, but there's an unfortunate amount of homogeneity to their shows. I think of their performance as a plateau: although the energy level is high throughout the set, the lack of peaks and valleys flattens the experience and prevents any really defining moments. I suppose the moments that stood out were the two songs when the guitar wasn't monopolizing my ears, an early track and a late song that I'm pretty sure was a cover. Now, I really do respect this band, and my head was bobbing for the majority of their time onstage, but I think seeing them twice is plenty, at least until the next album.

MP3: The Thermals - Live Set on KEXP
Official Site: The Thermals


Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - McCarren Pool, 5:30 - 7:00
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Ted Leo is simply one of the greatest frontmen in indie rock. While also political in nature, his canny sense of storytelling and tight lyricism often obscures the message, but at the same time greatly enhances your appreciation of the song. His band was loud, but his wiry voice cut through the mix and his inter-song banter was great. As usual, I've listened to a disproportional amount of one album, in this case Shake The Sheets, and those songs were subsequently some of my favorites. "Me and Mia" was an anthemic early highlight, and "Little Dawn," as I'm sure you've heard, featured a snippet of the ubiquitous Daft Punk's "One More Time" during the outro. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't heard Living With The Living in its entirety yet, and while "Sons of Cain" was a nice opener, I find "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb." a little too noisy and simplistic. Anyways, I'll try to get to it eventually. Major kudos to bassist Dave Lerner, who played his final show with the band, and Ted returns to NYC via Webster Hall on December 5th.

MP3: Ted Leo - Me and Mia (Live on Domestic Disturbance)
MP3: Ted Leo - Criminal Piece (Live on Domestic Disturbance)
Official Site: Ted Leo


Now if you'll excuse me, I have to head down to the Seaport...

2 comments:

CircleCircle said...

Cannot wait to see Au Revoir Simone at the end of the month!

Mike said...

i was at that show as well - you can see my head in front and to the right of the camera. i agree that they should've played some faster songs, but i was so happy to finally see them (i was visiting from out of town) that it didn't really matter.

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