Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Interlude: Catchin' Up Again

The first week of summer was quite eventful. I went home last Monday for the first time in months. Thing is, New York feels more like home these days, and I was back on the subways by Wednesday. It wasn't just that I'm tired of suburbia, but there were also shows to be had!

Cut Copy - Bowery Ballroom, May 14th
This was a show I couldn't miss. I've really enjoyed Cut Copy's new album, In Ghost Colours, much on the strength of the singles they've put out. Major, major thanks to Tim Sweeney, who got me into the sold out show.

Mobius Band
Brooklyn's Mobius Band fall somewhere between electronic-obsessed tweakers and straight-up rockers. Thus, they were a fitting introduction to a night that relied on much on beeps and bloops as guitars. The trio split things up, with Peter Sax and Ben Sterling rotating on instruments and vocal duties. Noam Schatz laid down a fierce beat, as if to argue that humans can do percussion as well as machines. While they didn't quite differentiate themselves, at least the way the headliners do, there was a lot of interesting stuff happening, and a diverse swath of influences.

Genre-hopping romantics that they are, Mobius Band released a six-song EP of covers on Valentine's Day. Here are two of them.

There was a long break between sets, but the gap allowed DJs Tim Sweeney and Tim Goldsworthy (both from DFA) to really flex their vinyl. Their set started out with a strangely familiar beat, which turned out to be an awesome remix of Beirut's "Nantes." There was a lot of stuff I didn't recognize, but they snuck in some Hercules and Love Affair as well, which is always good. Although I saw people in the crowd dancing, or at least nodding, it didn't quite get us pumped as when our headliners finally came on.

MP3: Beirut - Nantes (Fredo & Thang Gameplay Edit)

Cut Copy

With a stack of lights reminiscent of Simian Mobile Disco, it was clear that Cut Copy meant business. But the trio - with an additional guitarist on a few songs - has a certain sparsity to their songs, with some that are built on a simple synth line and singer Dan Whitford's inflected baritone. You wouldn't think that a band that relies only somewhat on guitars could be truly anthemic, but Cut Copy took what they had and made somewhat quite huge.

One thing they had on their side was an eager and willing crowd. There were peaks, as well as valleys, but the energy was excellent throughout the set. Singles such as "Future," "Lights & Music," and "Hearts on Fire" (which is definitely one of my favorite songs of the year) were fantastic. While the flip side is that the rest of the set wasn't quite as effective, I'll definitely take unevenness if it means particularly memorable moments. If you hadn't guessed, I'm not really one for jumping, but I did on a few occasions this night, and it was a fun experience. And in the end, that's all you can ask for.

MP3: Cut Copy - Hearts on Fire
Blog: Cut Copy
MySpace: Cut Copy
Official Site: Cut Copy

The Long Blondes - Bowery Ballroom, May 16th

A short two days later, and I was back at the Bowery. The Long Blondes have been grouped in that whole 60's pop revival, but there's something a bit more angular here - these hooks have sharper edges. I haven't really heard their new one, Couples, but Someone To Drive You Home is a solid debut. Thanks to Sonya for letting me cover the show. As always, I was looking forward to hearing some fresh openers, and I got what I wished for.

The Subjects

The Subjects resembled your general concert stock: a solid opener with guitars and the general amount of rocking and hooks. I can't say too much of note here, but I think the set really picked up about halfway through - just as I was sort of losing interest - and it sustained itself nicely. Singer ? had a curious delivery, and I was reminded vaguely of Danielson, but I could be wrong there. Anyhow, good stuff.

MySpace: The Subjects
Official Site: The Subjects

Drug Rug

Watching Drug Rug open was like walking into a tornado. I wasn't entirely sure what was happening - the band's two singers would harmonize quite nicely, and then the guitars would roar as they flailed back and forth. I did know, however, that I was enjoying myself, despite the often abrasive noises booming from the stage. Alas, the quartet calmed down afterwards, but there was a distinct - if not outright peculiar - slant to their songs. Although they hail from Cambridge, Massachusetts, there was a twangy, almost countrified slant to some songs, albeit with a healthy dose of feedback.

MP3: Drug Rug - Day I Die
MySpace: Drug Rug

The Long Blondes

Despite the non-matching hair, the Longest Blonde by far was frontlady Kate Jackson. She projected charisma, strutting around the stage and enticing the audience. Moreover, she has a commanding voice that isn't at all diminished in its live form. For all the band's aesthetic choices, she comes off as authentic, and above all, a stellar performer. The rest of the band was good - punky guitar licks and punchy drumming - and there were segments of the crowd that were really into it. Although it's a tad less hooky than, say, the Pipettes or Lucky Soul, there's a lot here to enjoy. I also must say that new single "Century" is a whole lot more dream pop than punk, and proves that the Long Blondes are definitely capable of pretty. But in the end, they're very much a rock band, with an attitude to match.

MP3: The Long Blondes - Century
MP3: The Long Blondes - Guilt (Pantha Du Prince Remix)
MySpace: The Long Blondes
Official Site: The Long Blondes

Kidrockers - The Living Room, May 18th

Capping off a marvelous week - or starting a new one, depending on whether you think Sunday is the first or last day in a week - I made it to a new part of town. The Living Room is a small dive in SoHo that hosts a series called Kidrockers. The premise is pretty great: have your typical touring band play for a room full of children and their parents. It's about as far as you can get from typical - and it was lots of fun. Thanks to Brendan, who's been amazing over the last year, for getting me in. Also, check out some great photos from Maryanne.

I had always seen the name Pela floating around, seeing as how they're locals, but hadn't checked them out until now. As they told the audience, they're a diverse quartet, with origins in California, Brooklyn and Europe. But they essentially create American rock, and their short set was enjoyable because it was familiar. Between the music was some rather adorable audience interaction, with a few kids asking questions ("Do you have any brothers?") and some trivia. Apparently they're looking to make Kidrockers a regular show, and I think it would be a very unique one.

Pela plays at the Bowery Ballroom on June 6th. Caithlin De Marrais, formerly of Rainer Maria, opens.

MySpace: Pela
Official Site: Pela

Los Campesinos!

LC! set up as a four-piece, as their full lineup would've been "much too loud." Aside from the subsequent stripped down sound, it was also interesting to see Gareth have to banter as much as he sang. He was pretty shy during their show at the Bowery, but he did an admirable job here. Before "Don't Tell Me To Do The Math(s)," he told the audience not to take the song title seriously, and always listen to their parents and teachers. Later, he asked if anyone knew what instrument he was playing, and someone clarified for the "music journalists" that it was a glockenspiel, not a xylophone. Noted!

Definitely the cutest moment of the show was when one kid asked if the band really couldn't dance, as they sang in "You! Me! Dancing!" Someone's parents are giving him a good education! Incidentally, they closed with that song, and the crowd stood up and shaked shakers, making for a really nice end to a fun, fun event. LC! were pretty much the perfect band for this sort of show - they're almost kids themselves!

MP3: Los Campesinos! - Don't Tell Me To Do The Math(s)
MP3: Los Campesinos! - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives
MySpace: Los Campesinos!
Official Site: Los Campesinos!


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Maryanne67 said...

Thanks Roland!

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