Sunday, July 13, 2008

Interlude: June Evenings, Part 2

We continue our wrap-up of June with a couple familiar destinations. I have to say, there's something incredibly appealing about a series of events. NYC is fragmented when it comes to everything and keeping up with it all is sometimes overwhelming. So knowing that, on a particular day of the week, something is happening at a certain time and place is pretty great. I headed into the last weekend of the month with a pretty good idea of what to expect, as I had previously seen both headliners. I suppose that's another facet to the sad process alluded to before. But usually, the energy's still there, although sometimes it isn't.

King Khan & the Shrines - South Street Seaport, June 27th

I didn't really know what to expect from King Khan & the Shrines, who played their first US show. As they shared the bill with two noise bands - I only caught the very end of opener Black Acid - I was bracing my ears. It turned out that was unnecessary; although King Khan had a raspy voice, the music went down really nice and easy. I kid you not - it felt like an echo of James Brown, with its rowdy stage antics and the mob of musicians on-stage - horns, percussion and guitars aplenty. I was stunned by the energy level. A go-go dancer and a couple trips into the audience seemed superfluous, but made the set even more memorable. It's rare when an opener yanks the crowd's attention like this, but it's just great to see.

King Khan & the Shrines play again on August 2nd at Mercury Lounge and August 3rd at McCarren Pool.

MP3: King Khan & the Shrines - Torture
MySpace: King Khan & the Shrines
Official Site: King Khan & the Shrines

A Place To Bury Strangers - South Street Seaport, June 27th
And on the other end of the spectrum, there was A Place To Bury Strangers. Their CMJ performance was terrifyingly loud, so it was a letdown when the Seaport sound system failed to deliver - earplugs weren't even necessary! Alas, without the horrific volume, APTBS just weren't as impressive, and for the most part sounded muddled. The deadpan vocals and searing guitars synced well with the grim projections at the back, which offered some visual points of interest, but the slouched trio didn't command much stage presence. Even singer Oliver Ackermann's guitar flailing was kind of expected, for someone who's already seen them. I like "To Fix The Gash In Your Head," and I'm generally a fan of shoegazey stuff, but it just wasn't a compelling performance. Hopefully, they'll grow on me on the next record.

MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers - To Fix The Gash In Your Head
MP3: A Place To Bury Strangers - To Fix The Gash In Your Head (Grime Reaper Remix)
MySpace: A Place To Bury Strangers
Official Site: A Place To Bury Strangers

McCarren Pool - June 29th

For the second to last day in June, I found myself at McCarren Pool. As usual, it was raining, but I ran into a bunch of people unexpectedly, and it seemed like the place to be on that particular Sunday. The Pool is empty, of course, but there's a lot happening aside from the music, including slip 'n side and dodgeball. It will also be hosting free movie screenings on Tuesdays, which just started this week. I'm not entirely sure what the future holds for the Pool Parties - they're probably going to continue, but I've heard talk of refilling the place. But until then, there's lots of fun to be had.

J. Roddy and the Business

J. Roddy and the Business opened, and it was clear from the first blast of guitar that things were going to be muscular. There was something inherently absurd, from the hairdos to the continual endorsements of rock 'n roll, but the band had chops, for sure. J. Roddy himself switched from keys to guitar, bouncing on his stool or his feet, and the rest of the band was in similar state of motion. Those aforementioned keys added some nice melodies, but it was mostly meaty guitarwork. I had some regrets about not bringing earplugs, but felt pretty great during the set.

MP3: J. Roddy and the Business - Used To Did
MP3: J. Roddy and the Business - Stop Rip and Roll
MySpace: J. Roddy and the Business
Official Site: J. Roddy and the Business

The Loved Ones

It's elitist, but the words on everyone's lips during the Loved Ones was "Warped Tour." That seems to be the demographic the band aims for - whether it's singer Dave Hause's tattoos or the band's style. To make things more difficult, the rain came back with a vengeance, and my attention was split between protecting and the music. The latter was pretty much reiterations of the usual pop-punk love song, which had its supporters amongst the crowd, but didn't do anything for me. Props to Hause for clamoring into the crowd, which is nice to see, but ultimately I couldn't shake the feeling that the band didn't really fit. It was particularly strange when the Hold Steady's Tad Kubler and Franz Nicolay came on-stage for closer "Louisiana," which centered on some sort of repetition of "pounding nails" - a far cry from Craig Finn's songwriting. I'm not one to judge purely on lyrics - I enjoy techno - but if the band was going for something substantive there, they didn't accomplish it.

MySpace: The Loved Ones
Official Site: The Loved Ones

The Hold Steady

It was my third time seeing the Hold Steady, which I suppose makes me a fan. It's a testament to relentless touring, as I never really got into their acclaimed Boys and Girls in America on its own merits. Singer Craig Finn's voice was a serious obstacle, as I'm generally more attracted to melody than witticisms, but the band has really grown on me. I think the live setting is a perfect environment for them, as the abundant energy really overcomes the singing shortcomings. The crowd was, as usual, pumped, hollering back at exactly the right spot in "Chips Ohoy" and generally smashing face. I think it's the first time I've legitimately enjoyed being moshed into. Some things were different, as the band played a bunch of songs off of the just about released Stay Positive, but the album pretty much sounds like them, which is a good thing. Sadly, no "Southtown Girls," but that's about the only complaint I have.

MP3: The Hold Steady - Constructive Summer (Live)
MySpace: The Hold Steady
Official Site: The Hold Steady

And while we're on the month, this song is sublime.

MP3: Air France - June Evenings



Protecting Your Rights on the Internet
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Hi Roland,

On behalf of Rough Trade / Beggars Digital, Vagrant and The Hold Steady, many thanks for plugging "Stay Positive" (street date 14th July and advance, digital release date 9th June) ... .. thanks, also, on behalf of the label and the band for not posting any pirate links to unreleased (studio) material and, if your readers want good quality, non-pirated, preview tracks, “Sequestered in Memphis” is available for fans and bloggers to stream / link to / post etc on the band’s MySpace ... .. check-out and for details on “Stay Positive” and the band’s 2008 shows ... .. for a limited period a play-through of “Stay Positive” shall also be available on the band’s MySpace and on NME (, although these are for promotional purposes only and the artist and labels have kindly asked fans and bloggers not to host or link to pirate copies of the full album on-line – for which many thanks in advance.

Thanks again for your plug.



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