Fake Century

If you lived at this website, you'd be home by now.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May The Best Man Win...

So, word is out: tickets for Radiohead's 'intimate venue' shows are gonna start going on sale this friday; and yes, they are gonna be harder to get a hold of than even those damn Wonka tickets. I'll be sure to give it the old college try come friday morning. But considering they sell out 2 nights at MSG in a matter of seconds, and this time around they're playing the Theater at MSG (a venue maybe 1/10th the capacity), I'm being realistic. (I know the venue doesn't get much blog love, but I saw Franz Ferdinand there last year and thought the place was much better than a lot of the other venues in the city).

If I don't get lucky with friday's ticket sale, there's always the Philly shows on sale the next morning. Hopefully it won't come to that though, cuz although it'd be cool to take a road trip and see them at a venue I haven't been to before, there's just too many other good shows going on around here that night, such as:

Super Furry Animals @ South Street Seaport: A great live band for frees! Can't beat that.

The Stills and Rogue Wave @ Maxwells: Just found out about this through BV. 2 bands I really like on the same bill. Should be a good show.

The Benson Interruption @ UCB Theater: Doug Benson is one of my favorite comedians, and he's finally bringing his L.A. show to NY, with some big guests. And it's at midnight, so if I end up in the city that night, I'll be able to make this and the SFA show.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Show, Shows and Shows

For anyone who regularly checks out this blog, you may have noticed a little lapse in my posting. Starting a new job where I'm actually expected to work has put a bit of a damper on my already fragile relationship with blogga-sphere. I won't call this my official final post, but I will say I'll be posting with much less frequency.
What sucks is that I've been going to a lot of cool shows lately and have a lot to blog about. So maybe I'll catch up right now with some short recaps of some of the shows I've checked out in the past few months or so (this will be long, and I'm very tired right now, so it'll be full of gaffes and typos. Sorry):

Broin Out With Leo and Tony @ The UCB Theater: Just got back from this show tonight. Janeane Garofalo was the big guest. Eric Slovin also stopped by and showed the hysterical 'Family Film' he made with Leo Allen (I'd link to it, but it's super X-rated, and I don't want to corrupt anyone). Bobby Tisdale stole the show with his patented mad-cappery and tom-foolery.

Scissor Sisters @ Bowery Ballroom: I went to the sunday show (as well as Anderson Cooper, Karl Lagerfeld and Kyle Minogue, who were both hanging out together on the VIP balcony the whole time). The Sisters put on an incredible show as always. So much fun; and the new songs sounded great).

TV on the Radio @ Bowery Ballroom: Another Bowery show. This was my first time seeing them, (I was at the show they played with Franz Ferdinand at the Theater at MSG, but I got there too late for them; and I'm not counting their appearance at Siren because they were on the stage with awful sound) and they played a lot of new stuff, but opening band The Celebration had more energy in their set.

Neko Case and Martha Wainwright @ Webster Hall: Two great singer songwriters. Two very sassy ladies with sailor mouths. A great night. Neko played a lot of her down-tempo tunes, which I liked. And she had the great Kelly Hogan to back her up.

Wolf Parade @ Webster Hall: These guys rocked. I like their album, but I find it inconsistent. I prefer the keyboardist's songs to the guitarists (and nothing on the album comes close to matching the awesomness of I'll Believe in Anything), but live I thought all the songs hung together really well, even though they were played in a very ragged, sloppy way.

Trapped in the Closet @ UCB Theater: Aziz Ansari and Eric Appel hosting; Todd Barry, Rebecca Drysdale, and Nick Kroll on the panel; David Cross turning in a star performance as 'the Closet'. Yes, the levels of comedic quality in the room was through the roof. But no one was as funny as R. Kelly's eponymous 'hip-hopera', itself.

Franz Ferdinand's "Sound Check Party" @ Hammerstein Ballroom: Me and my girlfriend had Good Friday off work, so we checked out this secret, free Myspace show. (Yes, I opened a MySpace account just to go to this show. Who wants to be my friend?) The band played a lot of stuff they normally don't play and sounded really great.. And it felt very intimate being in a quarter full Hammerstein Ballroom.

The Stills @ Mercury Lounge: Once again, another band testing out new material at a venue much smaller than they normally play. A lot has already been written about the new Stills shows and their new lineup (just about all their new songs were sung by their former drummer and principle songwriter). I like the new stuff and I'm definitely gonna spend a lot time with their new album when it finally gets released. I especially liked the songs they did with the brass section from Antibalas. Very Broken Social Scene-y.

There's been other shows I've been to that I haven't blogged about (Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Bowery; Demetri Martin at UCB), but in blog time, they may as well have been a decade ago, so I'll refrain from recapping. Hopefully, I'll be able to post more in the future. A lot of good outdoor concerts coming up this summer that I'll be at (Belle & Sebastian at Battery Park, Broken Social Scene at Prospect Park, Fiona Apple at Summerstage), so I'll try to keep this thing going a little more...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Stella's Purim Karaoke Spectacular


Purim is a Jewish holiday where the Jews of the world dress up in funny hats and costumes, eat triangular-shaped prune-danish cookies, and generally party down. In honor of Purim, HEEB Magazine and JDub Records hosted their annual 'American Schmidol' Karaoke contest at Bowery Ballroom last night.
I went to the show for the celebrity judges, Stella. Judging by the response from the audience, I'd say a lot of other people did as well. There also seemed to be a lot of people that were connected in one way or another to HEEB or JDub. In fact, though I consider myself Jewish (non-practicing), I felt like the least Jewish person in the room. The night had the vibe of a singles mixer for hip NYC Jews. I kept hearing my grandmother's voice in my head saying I should find a nice Jewish girl to marry.
The show kicked off with comedian/accordianist Corn Mo, who showed the crowd how it was done with a howling rendition of GnR's Paradise City. Stella had a lot of fun roasting him (Michael Ian Black called him Corn Row). To get up and sing you had to put your name and a song request in a hat that the host picked at 'random'. I put random in quotes because by the end of the night it was pretty clear that most of the contestants' performances were planned. A lot of them seemed to be either the event organizers or the girlfriends of the event organizers. It didn't really matter to me, because it was all in good fun and their were some really funny performances. And like I said, the night was really about watching Stella making fun of everyone. It's probably a good thing they didn't pick my name anyway. I chose Kings of Leon's The Bucket as my song, even though it's not what you think of when you think 'Karaoke song'. (I mostly chose it because it's a short, fun song that's easy to sing. In all my years of karaoke experience, I've learned the hard way which songs to avoid and which songs are relatively safe. Don't even attempt to sing anything by The Beach Boys or Queen, and remember: Oasis is your friend).


Some performance highlights: The first contestant did a really good rendition of Me and Bobby McGee. She sucked her thumb half way through the song, which confused the judges, until they learned it was an homage to David Wain's notorious 'about to orgasm thumbsucking' from the Turkey Hunting Stella Short.

A woman doing an awful version of Prince's Purple Rain started dosing the audience with bottled water, prompting a near audience riot. Michael Showalter remarked that it reminded him of Altamont. He thought there might be a murder.

A guy did a pretty mean rendition of All That Jazz.

All the Stella guys said a lot witty, funny stuff that was too much for me to remember.
Good times.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Belle & Sebastian's 'Secret Show' Revealed

A lot of North American B&S fans have been anxious to find out what's the 'special show' they keep alluding to on their website. I was hoping it'd be a NYC show, maybe a festival-type concert like the ones that Stuart's been organizing in Scotland for a while (Bowlie Weekend, School's Out).

Today they revealed their plans. Sounds great, but wrong coast, guys:

Oh, to live in L.A.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Stella Go Bye Bye


From the Stella website:

"The STELLA series was on Comedy Central last summer. The network has offcially decided not to renew it for a second season.

Thank you to all the fans for your lobbying and support. Perhaps Stella will return on TV in some other form in the future. In the meantime, Comedy Central occasionally repeats the episodes, and we are currently working on DVD which will have the whole season and lots of cool extras. The DVD release (and possible touring) will be this fall."

Looks like next monday's karaoke party will be a night of mourning. Maybe I'll serenade them with a rendition of Danny Boy or American Pie.

(photo from stellacomedy.com)


Friday, March 03, 2006

Belle & Sebastian and New Pornographers @ Nokia - 2nd night

Friday night was night 2 of the New Pornographers/Belle & Sebastian show at Nokia Theater.
Both shows were great, but if I had to compare both nights, I'd say their were more audience interaction and surprises in the setlists thursday night, but both bands sounded better friday night.

But first, a few more things about the Nokia Theater. First of, they need more songs on their piped in music loop. After being there 2 nights in a row, I was ready to kill someone every time I had to hear that Ben Folds song and those 2 Blondie songs. Don't get me wrong, I like those songs, but 8 listens was enough. Also, the Nokia Theater needs to loosen up their alcohol policy. When I was at the bar, the bartender wouldn't serve a woman in her 50s because she didn't have a wristband.

The set times were the same for both shows. The New Pornographers came on at 8:30 and mixed up the setlist a bit from the night before, opening with Star Bodies. We also got Letter From an Occupant, Jackie Dressed in Cobras and Testament to Youth and Verse for the Bejar songs, The Body Says No instead of Slow Descent. (2 songs they played both nights that I forgot to mention: Jessica Numbers and July Jones).

The best part of the NPs set was when Carl Newman was complaining that playing the guitar was doing wrist curls, which led the drummer to start an impromptu cover of Eye of the Tiger. He sounded really good, too. I don't need to repeat how incredible their drummer is. He might be the most fun to watch on stage, and it was cool that they set up his drum set in front of the stage. Also, Carl Newman revealed that he lives in NYC now, which (unless he was joking) I was completely unaware of. When he was talking to the audience about what bar he might hang out in, he said the Brooklyn Social Club on Smith St (not far from where I live). I assume he must live near there, as it's not that well known a bar.

B&S's set was a bit shorter than thursday's. They opened with Expectations, which was a bit, er, unexpected. From then on, there weren't too many surprises. A lot of the Life Pursuit songs that weren't played the night before got played, like Blues Are Still Blue and Act of the Apostle. No Mornington Crescent, though. And I wasn't expecting to hear Song For Sunshine or We Are The Sleepyheads (they haven't been playing those live on this tour yet). Once again, Another Sunny Day and Sukie in the Graveyard left me wanting (too much acoustic guitar on Sukie; Bean's keyboards and Bobby's bass part needs to come through more), but White Collar Boy's proving to be a ripping live song, especially the backing vocals and the way Stuart was introducing the band over the extended intro vamp. They mixed up the rest of the set nicely, but still stuck mostly to Sinister tracks. I'm not complaining too much, since Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying and The Boy Done Wrong Again sounded really good. We did get a few songs from Fold Your Hands, and a nice version of Piazza, New York Catcher. Stevie's The Wrong Girl also sounded great. It's clearly an easier song for him to sing than Jonathan David, which seems to give him a little trouble. As for the encore, Stuart teased us by almost playing Simple Things, but he quickly realized he forgot how it went, so he gave up and launched into Dreams of Horses. Oh well.

Even though the band sounded better, they seemed a lot more mellow. At one point after Electric Renaissance Stuart crouched down in the front row rather intently and I was wondering if he was smoking a joint from an audience member. He did seem very hazy and chilled out afterwards, so that might explain it. But that's completely unconfirmed.

Setlist:

Expectations
Another Sunny Day
Woman's Realm
Blues Are Still Blue
The Boy Done Wrong Again
Funny Little Frog
Sukie in the Graveyard
Electric Renaissance
Piazza New York Catcher
White Collar Boy
To Be Myself Completely
Your Cover's Blown
Act of Apostle
The Wrong Girl
Like Dylan in the Movies
I'm A Cuckoo
Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying

Encore:
Simple Things (almost)
Judy and The Dream of Horses
You're Just a Baby

Also, here's Status Aint Hood's douche-baggy review of thursday's show. That same creepy stoner dude he's talking about came up to me at the show also, asking me if I had any 'nugget' and started getting aggressive when I tried to get rid of him. What a freak.

Update - 3/6: I didn't watch Subteranean sunday night, but Time Warner said the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were on, not B&S. Not sure what happened there. But there is a good interview with Stevie in Pitchfork today. Check it out.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Matter of Trust @ Nokia Theatre (with New Pornographers and Belle & Sebastian)

Last night was the first of 2 Nokia Theatre shows featuring my ultimate dream bill: The New Pornographers and Belle & Sebastian, two bands that I've probably seen collectively close to 20 times in the past, sharing a stage together. This is what power pop dreams are made of. The night was filled with hours and hours of listening pleasure (and one nice comedic surprise), so on with the recapping.

First off, the venue. This was my first time at the Times Square, uber-corporate theatre, so I was curious. After taking a dark, black-lit elevator which felt like I was going on Space Mountain, you get to the lobby area, which was pretty nice, like a swank mall or a corporate office showroom. The theater itself was interesting. A floor with seating in the back, kind've like the Theater at MSG. I don't know why the floor was split-leveled, but the sound was good and cans of bud were 6 bucks; no more expensive than Webster Hall, so I didn't fell like I was being unpleasantly raped by the Heineken Corporation.

The New Pornographer took the stage at 8:30 on the dot. I knew Neko Case and Dan Bejar wouldn't be there, so we got the bar bones version. I didn't mind since they sounded really full. One of the best sound I heard from them. They played a great mix of songs from their 3 albums for about 50 minutes, and Carl Newman was being particularly funny and silly. Katherine Calder has gotten a lot more confident singing Neko's parts (but alas, she's still no Neko Case. Sorry to bring up that argument, but she just doesn't project like her). She sang Mass Romantic and The Laws Have Changed with a lot of energy. I won't give a full set list, but here's what I remembered them playing: Twin Cinema, Bleeding Heart Show, Blown Speakers, Bones of an Idol, Fake Headlines, Stacked Crooked, Execution Day (a nice surprise! When they do a Bejar song without them, don't they usually do Jackie or Testament to Youth and Verse?), It's Only Divine Right, Slow Descent into Alcoholism.

Then the first surprise of the night. After The NPs set, Carl started talking about how honored he was to be sharing the stage with his heroes. I assumed he was talking about B&S, but instead he brought out a little known German, one-song Billy Joel cover band called Matter of Trust. Of course, the 50 people in the audience that were at the Bowery Ballroom Invite Them Up Release Party knew who Matter of Trust really were: Comedians Jon Benjamin, Jon Glaser, Todd Barry, Tom Shillue, and James McNew from Yo La Tango. Actually, when you think of it, it wasn't too surprising. Wherever the New Pornographers are, comedians seem to follow (or vice versa) and even during their set, my friends and I were wondering if David 'I'm friends with the band' Cross or Eugene Mirman would show up on stage. In fact, Carl Newman made a sly, knowing reference to Matter of Trust during their set, which should've made it obvious to my friends and I that they'd show up. I actually saw Eugene after Matter of Trust's song and we had a nice, brief talk about how much the audience seemed to enjoy them, it being only their second time performing. He also said they weren't gonna play at tonight's show, and I asked him if maybe he'll take the stage instead. It seemed a possibility. (I also saw Todd Barry after the show and congratulated him, but he warned the audience not to blog about it).

As great as all that was, it was really just the cherry on top of the icing before the cake. By 10pm, B&S came out on stage and played a nearly 2 hour set of songs. Now, this is maybe my 8th time seeing the band, and as much of a fan as I am, I first have to say that yes, the band may not be the most exciting live band. In fact, their shows used to be a notorious, shambolic mess. But they've certainly tightened up in recent years and apart from the occasional false start and flubbed lyric, they have been a commanding live band at recent shows (especially their 2 Town Hall shows during the Dear Catastrophe tour). Last night's show was wonderful for the most part, but their were some moments of low energy, especially coming off The NPs strong set. For some reason Another Sunny Day and Sukie in the Graveyard, 2 of the stronger songs on the new album, didn't have the same impact live.

So, with that criticism out of the way, let me tell you what was great about their set last night: Namely, Your Cover's Blown. This was the song I was most excited to hear and it didn't disappoint. I loved how they stripped down the first chorus to just voice and bass, and best of all, Stuart Murdoch staged dived into the crowd during the middle eight 'I should've stayed home' part. Wow. That was incredible.

There were many other highlights. I love how Electric renaissance went from a song that they wouldn't touch live to a show staple almost overnight (I think this has a lot to do with keyboardist Chris 'Beans' Geddes' embrace of all techno and dj culture), and how Stevie busted out a kind've robotic werewolf dance move during that song's solo. The banter was really fun too between Stuart and Stevie: when Stevie was tuning his guitar, causing a false start on Century of Fakers (apparently this is the first tour they've played this song since Isobel left), Stuart warned the audience not to 'play with Stevie's knobs'. Another highlight was Stuart getting 6 girls in skirts from the audience on stage to can can with rifles to If You Find Yourself Caught in Love, and ordering them like a perverted drill sergeant "You're wearing jeans instead of a skirt! You'll have to take it off". Yes, it is somewhat disturbing watching Stuart transform from shy, sexually ambiguous wallflower to sexist horndog in recent years, but he's having so much fun that I can't bring myself to judge him. And besides, Caught in Love is such a great live song, nothing could ruin it for me.

There's probably a lot more to their set that I'm forgetting to mention. I wish I took some pics, but I stupidly checked my camera in my bag, and I was too far back from the stage to get any good shots anyway (I'm sure someone on line got great pics. Check out Chromewave's shots from their Toronto show. Simply amazing).

Here's what I remember from the setlist. This is in no way in order, and I might've missed a few tunes. Another criticism, if I could call it that, was the set was very Sinister heavy. It seemed they played more tracks off Sinister than off The Life Pursuit, and both songs in the encore were Sinister tracks. Nothing from Arab Strap or Fold Your Hands made it into the set. Hopefully, tonight they'll mix it up a bit. If I had to guess tonight's set, judging from what they didn't play, I'd say they'll open up with Act of The Apostle; they'll play Blues Are Still Blue and Mornington Crescent in lieu of Sukie and Dress Up in You; probably Slow Graffiti and maybe Le Pastie or Photo Jenny instead of Century of Fakers and Dog On Wheels; and maybe some more of Tigermilk to balance out the Sinister tracks from last night (You're Just a Baby or She's Losing It Perhaps).

Setlist:
Stars of Track and Field
Another Sunny Day
Funny Little Frog
Century of Fakers
Sukie in the Graveyard
Electric Renaissance
Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner
To Be Myself Completely
Dress Up In You
Fox in the Snow
White Collar Boy
Mayfly
Your Cover's Blown
I'm a Cuckoo
Dog on Wheels
Jonathan David
If You Find Yourself Caught in Love
The State I'm In

Encore:
Judy and The Dream of Horses
Me and the Major