three shows, two days I don’t normally lead the…

three shows, two days

I don’t normally lead the fast-paced, show-every-night lifestyle. The stars were in the proper settings lately, though, and it’s through some strange twist of fate that I found myself in motion from boro to boro earlier tonight, multiple destinations in mind.

First, though: last night. Mum, Stars As Eyes, and Animal Collective at the Bowery Ballroom, accompanying these two. I’d downloaded an Animal Collective MP3 not that long before, and had dug it in an eccentric kind of way. I suspected that I would have similar mixed feelings to their music as I did towards the Avey Tare & Panda Bear (members in common, etc) disc that I own. The Animal Collective stage setup for this show involved two fellows on assorted guitars and percussion, and….how best to put this…making noises. Shrieks, grunts, that sort of thing. Animal noises, basically. Lots of cycling and looping throughout; at times it came together, and at times it sounded like two guys on stage messing around with gear.

Stars As Eyes were next; I’d never heard them before, but – with one slight reservation – was quite impressed with what I heard. Beats and layers and layers of white noise and distortion; I’d seen at least one MBV citation in a review of something of theirs, and that’s not too far off the mark. The latter half of the set veered into slightly more beat-dominated territory, which didn’t interest me quite as much. (That would be the “slight reservation” listed above). Still, a fine showing; I’ll probably end up picking up a record of theirs before too long.

I’d seen Mum the previous summer at the Brooklyn Lycaeum, performing music while Battleship Potemkin was projected next to them. It was a hell of a show. The Bowery show focused more on newer (i.e. as yet unreleased) songs – though a couple of older ones made their way into the mix, to much applause. In some ways, the amount of applause seemed almost improper for the band – this is a group that makes deeply layered yet extremely delicate music; cheering and yelling encouraging words seems somehow too threatening. I don’t know.

Mind you, though, the audience was generally pretty quiet, which was understandable. Standing in front of me as Mum’s set began were three dudes, all with digital cameras, all practically giddy as the band began to play. The Lone Gunmen of Icelandic indie rock fandom? Maybe. They kept leaning in and chattering until one came to his senses and shushed the others. This happened more than once. One of the Gunmen was inexplicably sporting a hat, which he kept putting on, realizing subsequently that he was blocking the view of the people behind him, and removing. This, also, happened more than once.

The real kicker in the crowd, though, were two ladies at the bar at the back of the room, having themselves a nice sit-down conversation.

Had the band playing been, I don’t know, Hot Snakes, or Superdrag, or someone else with, well, loud guitars, this might not have been as glaring. But when you’re in the back of the room talking and you’re THE LOUDEST THING IN AN 800-PERSON VENUE, we have something of a problem.

I think someone said it best many years ago when they developed the word “Oy”.

***

Tonight. Stop one: Kilowatthours at the Mercury Lounge. Said venue is a nice, comfortable place to see a band, and I spend little to no time there. If memory serves, tonight was my first time seeing a show there in well over a year – though I’ll be back in a week for Dalek. Fine show, lots of guitars, keyboards more audible in the mix than previous kwh shows in NYC….an overall good time.

Left the show just before eleven. Went to a deli to get some cash from an ATM, and to buy some batteries for my camera, which had inexplicably (well, not that inexplicably – the last batteries I’d purchased for it were bought in the summer of ’01) run out of power. Spent the next twenty minutes trying to hail a cab; I’d mostly given up hope when one pulled up to me.

Arrived at Northsix just in time to see Frog Eyes. I’m still at a loss as to how to describe this band; the main points of comparison that I find myself coming up with are to idiosyncratic, unclassifiable musicians: Nick Cave circa From Her to Eternity, various points in Mike Patton’s musical history, Tom Waits – with a dark, almost carnivalesque quality running throughout. (The link above features two MP3s, which are well worth a listen). Their live incarnation has a slightly different feel than their recorded material, but that’s hardly a complaint. There’s a sense of immediacy throughout, a grandiose reach that few bands have….

Suffice it to say, the news that they’d be back in the city for CMJ was a fine piece of information to learn.

Following yesterday’s blackout in NYC, I have retr…

Following yesterday’s blackout in NYC, I have retreated to the ancestral family home in suburban New Jersey, where I can do things like, well, post this on the internet.

Yesterday was surreal – I work below street level, so initially, it wasn’t clear how widespread the power outages were. When I passed a closed Penn Station, the steps of the post office across the street filled with people – the effect being closer to watching a crowded set of bleachers at a sporting event than anything else.

It took a two-and-a-half hour walk to get home, which started to feel fun as I was walking over the 59th Street Bridge, looking down on the East River and the building tops of Roosevelt Island. Definitely a surreal night. “Something to tell the kids about” is a phrase that I’ve been tossing around….

It’s late on Tuesday night. Got back from the Cyc…

It’s late on Tuesday night. Got back from the Cyclones game not long ago – which is something that I really should make into a habit. As my dad and I arrived at the ballpark, fog shrouded Coney Island – at first, it wasn’t clear if it was fog or a massive cloud of smoke, making for a confusing drive down Ocean Parkway.

The game itself wasn’t bad – well, the home team did lose 8-3. The park itself, though – it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Good sightlines from everywhere; lots of open space; right next to the water. The weather – mid-70s, a clear sky by game’s end – was just about perfect for a mid-August game of baseball. There’s not much more you can ask for, really…

Exhausted. Worked later than expected; came home …

Exhausted. Worked later than expected; came home and worked on a freelance project, then did some editing on the below-referenced fictional thing. Tea is becoming my new diet soda, which is fine with me.

Meeting up with my dad tomorrow and heading to a Brooklyn Cyclones game, which should make for a fine night. I’ve never been to a minor league game before – when I left New Jersey, the state was bereft of professional baseball; now, it seems like half a dozen teams call the Garden State home.

More to come, here – I still have stories to tell about the fairly horrific music space known as the Tribeca Rock Club. $5 bottles of Bud and lousy acoustics – what’s not to love?

Been working on edits to first draft of lengthy fi…

Been working on edits to first draft of lengthy fiction piece for most of the afternoon. Drinking tea, listening to kinda drony music*, and periodically consulting a thesaurus.

Feels pretty good.

Heading to Maxwell’s to catch Rocky’s set in a little while. Should make for a good night.

——–

*-Spacemen 3, Keith Fullerton Whitman, American Analog Set’s contribution to Darla Records’ “Bliss Out” series, and…um….Talk Talk, for the record.

Exhausted. I’m very nearly finished with the Kilo…

Exhausted. I’m very nearly finished with the Kilowatthours piece for Copper Press. Trying to figure out if I should cut an exchange with the band in which they discuss cheap wine; it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the piece, but it’s also funny as hell. I think comic relief may end up winning the day…

Just wrapped up a piece for AMG as well. My back’s sore, and I’m far too caffeinated for two A.M….but still, it’s a good kinda feeling nonetheless.

For those readers who are not in the New York area…

For those readers who are not in the New York area, let me make one thing clear: the humidity in NYC has made the outside world wretched. It’s a summer night; I realize that I should be outdoors, breathing in the night air deeply and savoring each moment, but at this point air conditioning and Mojave 3 seem much more suitable.

It looks as though I’ll be doing a good amount of writing about music in the next few weeks, which has left me feeling good. It’s been a while, probably since the days of editing the zine, since I’ve done this much, and I’m hopeful that it’ll also get me back into gear with some of the fiction I’ve been working on.

***

Saw Buffalo Soldiers with this guy last weekend. It was good – grimly funny in places and smart enough to let the audience decide how it felt about the film’s relatively amoral protagonist without resorting to predictable moralizing. Before the film, a trailer for The Secret Lives of Dentists played. Seemingly consisting of awkward pauses only, and with a jarring operatic piece playing throughout, I was left with one impression when the trailer was over: this film looks hella pretentious.

I ended up seeing it this past Saturday. First impressions can be wrong, and mine certainly was. Far from pretentious, the film is alternately bitterly funny and crushingly sad, with fine ensemble acting besides. Well worth seeing, I’d say.

As an added bonus, the trailer for Lost in Translation was running before Dentists. Bill Murray singing a karaoke version of an Elvis Costello song? I’m there.

***

Had a good weekend, and the rest of the month looks promising as well; assorted folks I know from the western states are heading east, and it’ll be good to catch up with them. Right now, I’m content to sit at my desk, feet up, writing; quarter to ten on a Monday night, and I feel fine.

Just shy of one A.M. on a Tuesday morning. Been w…

Just shy of one A.M. on a Tuesday morning. Been working on a Kilowatthours piece for Copper Press; an inexplicable crash set back my transcription efforts a bit, and has convinced me to throw in the towel for the night.

I’m obsessively listening to a TV On the Radio MP3. Yeah, I read the Pitchfork review this morning; yeah, that piqued my interest.

An old roommate of mine stopped by last night, which made for a pleasant surprise; I’m reminded that I really should make a trek to Wildwood to see the exhibit she’s responsible for.

Finished reading Ian McEwan’s Atonement earlier today, and am still trying to figure out what I thought of it. If my vocabulary was larger and my critical nature more oriented towards literature as opposed to music, I suspect I’d talk more about books here. Instead, I’ll toss off the occasional line or two of commentary and let that stand.

***

The benefit of this not being quite as personal a page as the last iteration of my blog means that I no longer feel obligated to record each and every event of my life online. However, this does mean that a couple of significant things have gone unreported here – most notably, the fact that this guy is, as of ten days ago, married. The festivities were an amazing time; everything from tailing a Hummer on Route 46 to watching young’uns go nuts on a dance floor to Death Cab for Cutie.

It was a fine time. I know it’s a cliche, but nonetheless, it has its uses: I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

There is a bottle of Rheingold in front of me. …

There is a bottle of Rheingold in front of me.

Admittedly, it’s 11:30 on a Sunday night – hardly the right time for getting something, anything, productive done…but nonetheless, I’ve made a goal of trying. (At least one deadline project, plus a personal thing).

Sebadoh’s Bakesale is on the stereo.

The local record store that opened up not long ago appears to be closing up shop, which gets me down just a bit. Bought a couple of CDs there when I stopped by yesterday, at dramatically reduced prices: an older American Analog Set disc, Luna’s Romantica, and the most recent Mojave 3 album.

Said Luna disc is, upon a couple of initial listens, pretty damn charming….

More, hopefully coherent, thoughts to come.

Listening to Brian Eno’s Music for Airports now. …

Listening to Brian Eno’s Music for Airports now. It’s one of the few albums that has a genuinely calming effect on me; there was a point in my life when I was doing a lot of flying, and this was the disc to listen to, look out at the clouds, and feel just a bit safe.

At this point in July, low-level frustrations abound. Nothing major; just the usual ankle-height jabs and plucked ears that set me off, compounded.

I think I’m going to try to head to Montreal in the next month or two, for no particular reason. This past weekend, I realized that the last time I’d been out of the NYC metro area was for my work trip to Albany in late October, 2002, which is just a bit sad.

It’s one A.M. This’ll be the earliest I’ve tried to sleep in a week or so. Worth a shot.