Sorry I’ve been under the radar. I have had a lot of drinking to do. Anyways, I’m back with a report of my recent activities, some of which may be interesting to you readers, stalkers and lurkers. . .
Let’s start where it began, Tuesday the 14th at the Brooklyn Bowl, where I attended the listening party in honor of Clutch’s new release, Strange Cousins From the West. As I sat down with my lovely Sixpoint Apollo Wheat, I regretted (sort of) having already blown my budget on records (Death, Dark Was The Night, Yim Yames, Screaming Females, etc., etc.), and was thereby unable to purchase our favorite stoner-metal band’s fantastic new release. I’ve had a lengthy lapse with Clutch’s albums, but the new one is sludgy as ever with some fantastic blues tones that nicely showcase Neal Fallon’s rubbery tenor. Well guess what — I entered for the door prize and I fucking WON, bitches! I felt like a damn princess, getting everything I wish for, plus the Bakerton Group disc, DVDs and a rarities album.
Wednesday, I met Nathan for a free show at the Stuyvesant Oval. It’s hard to believe that this tree-lined park — now filled with bouncing children and a Verizon Wireless tent — was not too many years ago likely a playground for junkies and crackheads. Yay gentrification! Now we can see Kaki King roll through her catalog starting at 7pm and be mildly offended by her use of the F-word in mixed company! I guess that free family concert series is over, but it was fun while it lasted. . .
The Budos Band was my favorite (read: flock of children on the dancefloor – whoot!). I like the fountain they have over there. I don’t think I’ll succumb to the Stuy Town rental office’s urging to move into their Yuppie Projects, though.
Thursday and Friday we had Jack White’s new supergroup, Dead Weather, at Terminal 5. The crowd had a great time, the music sounded good. But I have to admit, this level of production is a bit much for me. I appreciate all the attention to detail that White puts into his projects, and the visual design in particular I found to be very well excecuted. Alison Mosshart is a fun performer to watch, though I have observed that she seems to only own one shirt. Jay Z and Kanye were there. Meh.
On Saturday, everyone and their mothers were at Coney Island for the yearly sun-assault/concert known as Siren Fest. From all accounts, Built To Spill was phenomenal. However, someone has to stay behind to mind the store, and I spent the day at the Mercury Lounge, enjoying the air conditioning and selling tickets at our mighty box office. Admittedly a bit spent from the previous nights’ post-work tomfooleries, I went home and took a disco nap to prepare for the evening’s show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. The official Siren Afterparty had Francis And The Lights slotted as headliners, with Built To Spill’s Doug Martsch on the 1s and 2s bookending that set.
Francis And The Lights is just a wonderful band. I’ve missed several shows over the past year due to work obligations and the prioritization of seeing Bill fucking Withers take the stage (extremely rare post-1976) at Prospect Park last summer. Francis Farewell Starlite is clearly a perfectionist, and it takes him a few songs to get warmed up. He was plainly dismayed when the drummer veered momentarily from the gasket-tight rhythms the band’s songs employ as backdrop to Starlite’s ball-bearing dance floor spins. Here we’re looking at some bastard love child of Eno/Byrne and Prince, complete with wistful, haunted vocals and a self-absorbed nostalgia approached through the lens of personal relationships. It makes for great dance music, especially when Fran cuts loose and the crowd follows suit.
The party continued with Martsch’s second DJ set, filled with funk, ska, reggae, and some sweet slices from the Clash and the Stones. Lots of Motown, too, which is always guaranteed to make me move. This made me the dance floor mascot of the Siren Fest staff, all having a great time now that they could officially begin their summer vacations. They proceeded to fill me with enough whiskey to kill a bear cub. Fortunately, I was sweating enough that I did not suffer a debilitating hangover the next day, working six hours in the sun at the Williamsburg waterfront park. I did have to make one of my famous drunk escapes, though, sneaking out before asked to join the party for “just one more” dance. Take it easy on me guys! It was fun, though. You can always count on me to burn a hole in the floor.
Sundays are for the free Jelly NYC Pool Parties, and I performed some support staff duties at the guest list/staff door. This involved keeping counts on the clicker and checking IDs for the VIP beer garden. Also listening to the security guard pitch his house music CD, brag about living in Europe, and hit on every female under 35 who walked in the door. There was something dead in the nearby bushes (I will not tell you what) that was very fragrant. The bands were great. I’d seen Dirty Projectors at the Dark Was The Night show at Radio City Music Hall, and I’m impressed by their dissonant harmonies, if not by most of their melodies.
Crystal Antlers are truly the breakout act of the “Crystal” wave of bands from the last couple of years (“Crystal” is apparently the new “Wolf”). I previously caught them at CMJ and enjoyed their chunky psychedelic guitar brick-in-the-face sound. Now, they have begun to incorporate some unexpected elements. Dare I say doo-wop? I’m feeling some strong late-1950s love balladry here. The singer is gaining confidence and the music has greater cohesiveness. However, it’s still sort of coming together, which to first time listeners I’ve found is not entirely pleasing, especially compared to the Dirty Projectors’ fully dialed-in sound. Still, I find Crystal Antlers very exciting, and I’m very interested in where their new path of songwriting takes them.
The next stop was down North 6th, past Music Hall, where the security team applauded me for last night’s moves, or maybe just for my enthusiasm. I met my wacky German friend Martin, and convinced him to join me checking out the funk/soul music blasting from Public Assembly. Colt 45 (a malt “beverage,” not a band) was doing some promotion, so there were miniature bottles, free, for an hour. I gave the bartender a five and we double-fisted our way through the club, pulling out the strangest, dorkiest, most absurd dance moves we could invent while Martin tried to figure out what George Clinton was talking about. Later I chose the slice of pizza with some truly creative toppings, and it took me down. I slept like a dog that night.
Monday night I had a dinner party. I believe due to all of the rains this year, our apartment building has seen a lot of creatures that Southerners euphemistically like to call “palmetto bugs.” I squished one, to my roommate’s chagrin (supposedly, squishing a roach unleashes their eggs like some zombie virus), so I had him spray the sole of my shoe with Windex. As he shot lemon-scented ammonia at the bug guts, he frowned, exclaiming “your boots have grooves.” Of course they do! I dispatched the next one with lighter fluid (sorry vegans).
Tuesday, Paolo Nutini played a sold-out show at Terminal 5. Who is this guy? Apparently he’s a Scot of Italian descent who sings an unoffensive blend of blues, straightforward rock, and reggae tones. This is your new adult-alternative market hero. Understanding what a Scot is saying is much easier after a few darks at McSorely’s, but that didn’t make Nutini unenjoyable in the slightest. He’s enthusiastic, adorable and has a scratchy timber that underpins his soaring wails. And he’s not taking himself the least bit seriously, despite the fact that I’m sure several jackasses have told him that he’s the next Van Morrison. You’ll hear it in a coffee shop very soon.
By Wednesday, I was too tired to go see the London Souls, so I stayed in and painted. I started up again last night, but the only thing remarkable about that, I think, was my unexpected success at using six drink tickets in a couple of hours, as well as my lack of a hangover today. I don’t know if it’s luck, practice, or an ability to greet the day bravely by cooking an epic breakfast. But as we say in Brooklyn, you either gotta go hard or go home, and I’ve got another week ahead of me. Thank God it’s just a bachelorette party tonight. Knowing me, I’ll end up sneaking out to go see the Giraffes at Union Pool.