Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm a Bad Blogger...

...but I'm a really good Web Producer and Concert Goer, which is why I haven't blogged in a while. Blogs in progress include reviews of the Best Coast show at Knitting Factory and the two secret (well, secret to people without excellent Twitter skills) LCD Soundsystem shows I attended. In short, they were both so much fun. Best Coast is the next best thing and James Murphy is fucking brilliant (PS - new album is streaming here, and it doesn't disappoint).

The new posts will have to wait a little while longer though. As I write this, I'm in the lovely SoHo apartment of one Miss Caroline and we are preparing to travel across the country to see bands that play in NYC all the time. So stoked for the Coachella lineup, it's going to be the perfect summer concert kickoff.

I can't promise a comprehensive review of the performances I see in California, but I'm aiming for at least one sentence per band. Sounds reasonable right?

See you when I get back!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LCD Soundsystem at Music Hall of Williamsburg 4/8/2010 and Webster Hall 4/12/2010

I'm getting really tired of people rolling their eyes at me when I tell them I love Twitter. Yes, I agree it's completely self-indulgent, but I also think you really wanted to see how awesome my new leopard print manicure is.

But the real reason I'm Twitter-obsessed is for the music. If you follow the right bloggers and musicians, you get excellent new music recommendations. If you follow venues in your city, you can find out when coveted tickets for a sold-out show are being released or if your favorite artist is playing a "secret gig."

Twitter is how I scored tickets to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs show at Music Hall of Williamsburg last year. And it's how I knew that LCD Soundsystem would make their comeback in a small, unpromoted show at the same venue just last week.

James Murphy & Co. haven't played live together in about 2 years, a fact that a loveably-drunk Murphy reminded the audience of between almost every song. But they sounded like they haven't missed a beat. Opening with "Yr City's A Sucker," LCD Soundsystem played their dancey/punky/funky tunes to a crowd that couldn't stop moving and I don't think anybody really wanted to. I loved it when a rightfully concerned Nancy Whang warned the moshy boys ten feet in front of her keyboard stack to be careful and considerate and that if the person next to them wasn't a girl, they were "dancing the wrong way." The fact that LCD Soundsystem can evoke this kind of movement is what makes them so unique as a band. Their recordings border on too-weird-to-be-listenable for the casual music fan, but I've yet to go to a LCD concert where the entire room wasn't dancing uninhibitedly by the last song, from rabid fans, to people who barely know the band, to bros that would never be caught dead dancing in public.

LCD Soundsystem has a new album coming out at the end of May and as of the night of the show, the songs that had been released were not well-received by fans. In my opinion, "Pow Pow" is not something very original (coming from LCD Soundsystem anyway) and "Drunk Girls" sounds a bit like an attempt at a mainstream hit. A lot of people were concerned that the new album, titled This Is Happening, would be a huge disappointment. Luckily, Murphy explained that he hated going to see bands that had an album coming out and would only play songs that no one had heard before. So LCD would be playing mostly old stuff. However, they did play "Drunk Girls" and a song that hadn't leaked yet (until the following morning) "I Can Change." For me, "I Can Change" pushed all doubt out of my head. I love this song. The full album has since been available to stream on LCD's website and all concerns have been put to rest. This Is Happening is great and "I Can Change" is my favorite song on the album.

The day after the MHOW gig, a bigger show at Webster Hall was "secretly" announced. While the Brooklyn show was more intimate and it was amazing to see LCD's return to the stage, I have to say that the Webster Hall show was the better of the two. Murphy was a bit more sober for this one and the laser light show during "Yeah" was mind blowing.

So glad this band is back and I really hope This Is Happening isn't their swan song, as Murphy has previously claimed.

Both shows ended with the can't miss trio of songs "Someone Great," "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House," and "New York I Love You." At MHOW, Murphy forgot most of the words but both nights it was the only way to end the show. Singing "you're still the one pool where I'd happily drown" along with Murphy and other fellow New Yorkers is definitely something I'll always look forward to. Can't wait to do it again at Terminal 5 (ugh) in May!

You can see my head in this pic... unfortunately the bearded guy wearing flannel is blocking the rest of me, but fun find nonetheless!

Photos courtesy of BrooklynVegan.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Best Coast at The Knitting Factory 4/6/2010

Summer is definitely here. Unfortunately, the reason I know this to be true is because I was stuck at a sold out show at The Knitting Factory during the awkward period of time when no one is really sure whether or not it's appropriate to turn on the AC. Here's a good rule of thumb: if you run a music venue/bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that frequently attracts unemployed hipsters (i.e. those not necessarily prone to showering) it's NEVER too soon.

It's a good thing the show was so good. Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino is undoubtedly the breakout star of March's SXSW music festival. She has yet to release a full-length album (one is set to drop later this year) but she has already garnered abundant praise for her various EP releases. Her brand of lo-fi surf rock melded with 60s girl group pop is simple and catchy - always a perfect recipe for songs that you just can't get out of your head. Joined on stage by Bobb Bruno and Vivian Girls drummer Ali Koehler, Cosentino ushered in my summer concert season with songs I'm sure I'll be playing on repeat for four months straight.

Like almost all bands dubbed with the generalizing "lo-fi" adjective, Best Coast recordings feature heavy reverb on the vocals. The absence of this crunchy effect during the live show reveals Cosentino's lush and very "pretty" voice. This girl has the chops; she's not trying to cover anything up with that distortion. Cosentino played new songs, including "Boyfriend," a tune that has generated internet buzz since she debuted it at SXSW. She also played all the familiar ones, ending with the sunny "When I'm With You." The official music video for "When I'm With You" was released a few days ago and it's pretty much a visual love letter to all things just East of the Pacific Ocean (must sample In-And-Out Burger when I go to California for Coachella).

All in all, Best Coast definitely doesn't disappoint in a live setting and it's refreshing to see a down homegirl (can I say that?) grab a guitar and perform songs about boys with such gusto and talent. I feel like Bethany and I could be best friends, which is something I think all musical artists should strive for when trying to market themselves. We'd just have to get past the arguments over who's got the better hometown.

You can read my earlier post on Best Coast here.

Photo courtesy of BrooklynVegan.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The xx at Webster Hall 3/31/2010

I've made it known that The xx was not a band I immediately liked. The first time I saw them play in October during CMJ, they seemed nervous and overwhelmed and their minimalist brand of quiet R&B pop didn’t translate well in a live setting.

Since then, The xx have definitely grown up. Wednesday night’s show at Webster Hall turned them into fully-fledged rock stars. In my humble opinion, this show was really important for the young band. This is their first ever headlining tour of the U.S. Not only was almost everyone I know (on Twitter and In Real Life) there, but NYC is a tough audience and I guarantee that about a third of the people in attendance have music blogs. While their first U.S. performances may have garnered unenthusiastic reviews from listeners who preferred the record to their live show (yours truly included), this week they solidified themselves as a band that demands your attention, right now and for years down the line. Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft finally know how to handle a crowd and their stage show finally emulates the simple brilliancy that is captured on their debut album xx. I can totally picture myself in about 40 years telling 19-year-old fan boys/girls that “I saw The xx at Webster Hall in March 2010” and I can totally picture them thinking I must have been really awesome back then.

They opened with the wonderfully epic “Intro” (what else could they have opened with?) and I only imitated Apollo Ono for about a half second before I became hypnotized by the larger-than-life silhouette projections of the band members on the huge white sheet they were playing behind. When the song ended, the sheet dropped, perfectly timed. It was probably one of the best show openings I’ve seen.

They played “Crystalised” next, which is a ballsy move considering it’s probably their most recognizable song and most bands would save the best for last in order to leave the stage on a high note. But The xx had no problem keeping the audience engaged for the remainder of the night. Their performances of “Heart Skipped A Beat,” “VCR,” and “Shelter” sounded as precise as the recordings, while added electronics gave “Night Time” a thicker sound. They played one cover; Kyla’s “Do You Mind” and their reimagining of the song made you second-guess whether or not this wasn’t an xx track all along.

My only complaint was that they weren’t loud enough. This was a comment I overheard from many of my fellow spectators, almost all of whom had a friend who replied, “Yeah, but being loud really isn’t their thing, man.” I agree. The music of The xx is soft, subtle, and delicate. But when I see a band live, I don’t want to be able to hear the guy five people down from me exclaim “Dude, I can’t believe Pitchfork calls these guys goth.” (I have no idea whether or not this statement is true.) They finally turned it up for “Stars” which they played for their encore.

They’ve certainly come a long way since CMJ. I think this is the last time a ticket to see The xx is under $30.

I feel like I need to comment on the lighting. It was awesome.

Don't the "x"s on the decks look cool?

jj was awful.

Also on The xx front, there is this really neat mash-up of The xx songs with Notorious B.I.G. classics. It's from new DJ wait what and you can listen/download here.

Photos courtesy of BrooklynVegan.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Grates at Brooklyn Bowl 3/27/2010

Two Saturdays ago at Brooklyn Bowl, Patience exclaimed, "We're from Australia, but Brooklyn is our new home town."

Let's hope that means that The Grates will play here more often. Like, a lot more often. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun at a show. Patience's energy was through the roof from the second she flew onto the stage wearing a gold lame cape, sequined leotard, and dragon scale cuffs. I think the only time she rested was when she invited an audience member to the edge of the stage so she could sit on his shoulders as he walked into the middle of the crowd (she gave me a high five!) for the band's performance of "Roc Boys."

By the end of the night, Patience had given me quite a workout and I was only a spectator. I don't know how she sings at the same time she is bouncing around on stage. A few minutes into their set I was sweating but just like Alana Skyring behind the drums, I had a smile on my face the whole time.

Patience (apparently she only goes by one name now) and her crew played all the favorites from Gravity Won't Get You High (except "Sukkafish," boo) and Teeth Lost, Hearts Won. While "Two Kinds of Right" ties with "Milk Eyes" and "Burn Bridges" for my favorite song on their current release, it was definitely my favorite one to listen to live. Also fun to hear was "Like Pain" which strictly follows a loud-quiet-loud formula and for some reason reminded me of Nirvana because I typed "soyundsl$ike teen soirt [sic]" into my blackberry (yes, I am that girl at the show). The Grates played one new song. The song was nothing too original; it sounded very much like the rest of their music (funny enough, the lyrics were "I don't want to ch-ch-change"). This is not something I'm complaining about. I think The Grates are awesome and have a sound that the U.S. mainstream would gobble up if they only knew it existed. Case in point: I brought 5 girlfriends with me to the show, none of whom had listened to a note of The Grates’ stuff. But they were all immediately won over. One even said Patience reminded her of She-Ra from He-Man. If she's not a star, I don't know who is.

The indie lover in me desperately wants The Grates to remain a U.S. secret. But when they blow up (and they will), I'll definitely be that annoying music blogger patting herself on the back for listening to them way before everyone else.

By a lucky coincidence, Savoir Adore was the opening band. As always, they were lovely.

Photos courtesy of