Friday, November 16, 2007

Interlude: Murder On The Dancefloor

Monday night was a month in the making. The Pipettes, shortly after delaying the stateside release of their excellent album We Are The Pipettes, postponed their tour after having paperwork issues. I'm all for securing our borders, but polka-dotted indie popsters don't really strike me as a threat. Wait aside, the trio (and their backup band, the Cassettes) finally made it to NYC again, albeit at a different venue in the Blender Theater. I didn't really discuss said venue the last time I was there, so I will now. At 23rd Street, it's a bit further uptown than the cluster of Lower East Side dives, but the trip's nothing the 6 Train can't handle. It's kind of interesting in that the back half of the space is seated, while the front (thankfully) resembles the traditional standing space. The lighting's nice and bright, and the sound is pretty good. All in all, not a bad place to see a show. Kyle was there, too.

Unfortunately, we arrived only in time to catch the last song and a half from Monster Bobby, the nom de guitar of Robert Barry, one of the musicians in, and some might say mastermind behind, the Pipettes' backup band. In that short time span, he made a solid impression. At first complementing acoustic strumming with electronic effects, Bobby would then switch over to microphone while letting the beats run on. Perhaps most endearingly, he delivered a steady stream of tongue-in-cheek banter, describing one of his songs as an inevitable top 40 hit, and later saying his name slowly because of an apparent misunderstand in Texas. It's a shame it couldn't have gone on for longer.

Monster Bobby has an album out entitled Gaps.

MP3: Monster Bobby - The Postcard
Myspace: Monster Bobby

Nicole Atkins

About a month ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Nicole Atkins play at the Bowery Ballroom, and seeing her name added to the bill was a pleasant surprise. It was particularly gratifying to hear the audience's positive chatter after the set, despite probably being unfamiliar with her music for the first time. Nicole's voice is stunning in the way it erupts, and even with the crunchy guitars and percussion courtesy of her backup band the Sea, her vocals were the clear focal point of the performance. I don't think I've ever heard a stronger voice.

But it wasn't just the music that was good. From the moment Nicole stepped on stage, she was completely charming, kidding that she didn't realize how short Monster Bobby was while she raising the microphone ("Just sassing!"). When water (or beer) somehow drenched the front of the stage, Nicole gingerly lifted a very wet setlist, later saying, "Do you guys remember that scene in Almost Famous where the guitarist gets electrocuted?" A segement of the crowd cheered her New Jersey origins, (her new album Neptune City is named after the town in the Garden State), but it's clear that you can appreciate her no matter where you're from.

Check out a great performance of "The Way It Is" on Letterman.

The Pipettes make me nostalgic. There isn't anyone out there now that can come off as so unabashedly pop, but still seem genuine. A recurring sentence during the night was, "I don't know of anyone who doesn't like them." Well, aside from those guys that hand out visas. Seeing RiotBecki, Gwenno and Rosay dancing and singing in astonishing unison makes me wonder if I can ever stand seeing guys slouching over guitars again. The synchronized dance moves may come off as a gimmick, but as far as I'm concerned, one of the most important things about performing live is compelling the crowd, and that definitely does it. The girls have splendid voices as well, trading lead vocals and harmonizing as adeptly as they dance. Thus, they can be forgiven for relying on the Cassettes for most of the instruments, although Rosay would play the keyboard a few times, as on the ironically inoffensive "Sex."

The insertion of some new songs kept the crowd on its toes, but the songs are, as the band admitted themselves, generally about dancing or love or both. Despite this and more than a few quick two minute songs, it was tremendously entertaining throughout, and the crowd was very into it from start to finish. It's really not that revolutionary; a 1960s reference is pretty much obligatory even if you weren't alive then, but more power to the Pipettes because they can pull it off. Speaking of which, "Pull Shapes" has quickly become one of my favorite pop songs, and with its built-in clapping segment, it was a huge crowd pleaser. I can't wait for them to come back (again).

MP3: The Pipettes - Pull Shapes
MP3: The Pipettes - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me
MySpace: The Pipettes
Official Site: The Pipettes

"Clap your hands if you want some more."
The encore was "ABC" and "We Are The Pipettes."


dickvandyke said...

Smashing write up. Thank you for your trouble.

Joseph Coscarelli said...

I can think of one person who doesn't like the Pipettes. An old favorite(by blog era music write-up standards):,ott,74264,22.html

Ott spits venom.

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