where we'll join our heroine in her travails in search of kick ass music and more

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

“Meet me in the bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011” by Lizzy Goodman




This probably seems like a weird place to write about a book, seeing as it’s a live music blog, but considering the subject matter, I just had to make an exception.

Also it’s my blog, so really I can write whatever the hell I want 😉

I first heard of this book - as with many thing nowadays - through Facebook, through a friend’s post about working on it. I used to work in publishing, yonks ago, and still have friends that work in the industry. I had no idea this book had been in the works, so I was very excited to hear about it.

This is pretty much the first cultural history book that I could directly relate to. As in, I was there. I got the CD, I bought the concert ticket, I picked up the badge - the whole works.

I expected good things from it. A good record of what it was like to be in New York City during the early aughts and to be a rock and roll fan.

What I got instead was a far too wordy detailing of near-overdoses, enough cocaine to bury the Empire State Building, strange feuds between people I’d barely ever heard of, the word cool being waay overused, and oh yes, a biography of The Strokes.

Maybe this book was just trying to do too much. A ten-year span about rock and roll in New York City? That’s a sizable chunk of time. But that’s another weird thing about it. It doesn’t really talk about the second half of that time. Most everything happened before 2006. It should really be subtitled, “…in New York City 2001-2006”.

The Strokes were important. They kind of showed up first and after that everyone was looking for the next Strokes. That is true. But they were never as huge even in NYC as the book implies.

And as far as all the platitudes about their amazing and cool performances? Total BS. I was there. They would stand around and act bored out of their minds…though having read this book, I guess many times they’d be high as a kite.

But hey, that’s just my opinion. You think that their live performances are great and always enjoy yourself tremendously? Hurrah for you. But don’t try to pull the wool over the readers’ eyes by claiming they were great live performers.

Even the cover of this book is misleading, trying to entice people to buy it. The back cover has a cornucopia of band names…most of whom have at best a brief mention in the book, like The National or The Libertines. I don’t think three sentences in passing about a band merits it being featured on the back cover of a 622 pp. book.

As I’ve said earlier, this is mainly a book about The Strokes. With quite a bit about James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem thrown in as well. It is not a comprehensive account of this particular music scene.

And then the format of this book…

What exactly did Ms. Goodman write? She interviewed all this plethora of people. And I do mean plethora. Soo many people. So many non-musicians and hangers-on interviewed.

But we never see any of the questions. And there’s no real context about any of this. People just talk. Presumably not in the same room, so it’s a collating of disparate chats into some sort of narrative. Half the time I had no idea who was saying what and it just became a chore to constantly flip back to the “Cast of Characters” at the beginning, to only find out that it was some random publicist. And I just didn’t think it really worked in the end.

Most everyone came off so badly. They say you should never meet your idols, if you don’t want to be disappointed.  Well, there should be an addendum about never reading an oral history about them either. Geesh.

Everyone (almost) is either a huge coke head, or a huge meth-head, or a junkie, incredibly shallow, and/or just unpleasant to be around. And sure, it’s all rock and roll, what did I expect? But I guess I’m just not really interested in reading all about Albert Hammond Jr.’s injecting himself with heroin 20 times in a day (side note: How is he still alive?? Must have some of those Keith Richards’ genes).

I wanted to know about what it was like for these bands to come together, not about what hipster bar they and their hanger-ons frequented. And about their inspiration and drive, not to find out how many full figured ladies Carlos D from Interpol bedded (which btw, was a weird thing. The fact that he liked “bigger” ladies was mentioned a bunch of times, as if that was such an oddity).


There is one thing this book did get right and that’s how few women would actually go to these live shows. Once The Strokes were playing Radio City Music Hall with The White Stripes, there was more of a mix, with a lot more women in the midst. But before then, and subsequently for every other band that wasn’t The Strokes - aka all the non-model looking ones - the female to male ratio was always really, really low. I went to a lot of shows during these years - a ridiculous amount of shows - where my female friend and I would be two out of maybe ten women in the whole place. It was just one of those weird things that we didn’t even notice after a while.

So, in summary, if you’re interested in finding out what this era was like musically, I’d recommend actually listening to the music, searching out reviews of shows of that time, reading old music blogs (ahem ;o) ), and the internet in general.

On the other hand, if you want to catch up on how many crazy drugs everyone was doing, what “cool” bars they were getting their drugs from, and all the strange, undecipherable feuds they were having with each other, then maybe this book is for you after all.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hidden Door Festival 2017 - Day 6, May 31st @ Leith Theatre

Hello!
Welcome!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, so if you’re new, feel free to look around and get in deep into the archive. If you’re into modern rock circa early 2000s, you’re likely to find something here you might like.

I’m also planning on releasing loads of well, unreleased photos very soon. I have loads of images (and gasp! even short videos) of shows I never reviewed, so I’ll be attempting a bit of a dump-a-thon over the next couple of months.

But now back to the matter at hand…

Today’s post is a bit unusual in that it’s not a straightforward music review. It’s of a local festival I attended featuring theater and spoken word…but there was a tiny bit of music, so I figure I’d still include it. Also, it’s my blog, so I figured I’d include it :D

I was able - through the generosity of my friend L., who won tixs through a Facebook contest - to attend the Hidden Door Festival over in Leith, Edinburgh. Now this was dead-handy, as I happen to pretty much live in Leith… Well, maybe literally on the border of the neighborhoods, but the point is, I live nearby. In fact, the festival was held in a quasi-abandoned theater, right behind my local library.


The Leith Theatre used to host big name acts like AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, and Mott the Hoople. Sadly, it closed its doors back in 1988 and has stood empty ever since. But The Hidden Door Festival specializes in hosting great events in formerly derelict places and took over the theatre this Spring to host this great festival. The festival took place over ten days, from the 26th of May to June 4th.

Welcome!

My friend and I attended on May 31st. I didn’t exactly know what to expect as I’d never been to such a mixed use festival. It turned out to be much more fun than I could’ve anticipated.




The theatre hasn’t yet been renovated. There’s paint peeling from the walls and ceiling - so much so in places that it looks like it’s rained paint chips - and there’s a feeling of decay and neglect everywhere one goes. But there’s also a sense of fun and adventure and creativity everywhere. Go up some stairs and spot a little drawing of an imp. Walk down a corridor and spot a brilliant light installation.


Work by Tracy McGovern and John Hall, amongst others.

It keeps on surprising you and enchanting you, even as you’re simply wondering around looking for the loo.


Wandering the halls.

Our first performance stop was a play put on by the company Grid Iron, called South Bend. We came in a bit late and so were seated upstairs in the balcony. The balcony wasn’t quite set up for the type of performance - intimate - that this play turned out to be. If you weren’t tall or bendy, it was pretty painful trying to watch the two actors on stage.

But the performance itself was very passionate. The basic story concerns a Scottish boy who falls in love with a California girl and who flies over to see her when she’s involved in an accident… Except now she’s back in Indiana, thereby the title of the piece.

All the parts were played by two actors - a young man and woman - who did a stellar job of inhabiting (and differentiating) the characters. I’ll admit to sometimes not understanding the young man’s lines - my ears are still adjusting to Scottish tones - but it didn’t deter me from enjoying the performance.

Grid iron on stage (Apologies for all the super brightness 😎)

I thought the play dealt deftly with what it means to fall in love with someone who lives far away, the expectations therein, and the sometimes inevitable disappointments.

We then went wandering around and saw that a spoken word performance was taking place in the venue next door to the theatre. The place is filled with nooks and crannies and all sorts of extra performance places.

Another venue? Yes!

I came into a largeish hall with a stage at the end. Instead of regular rows of seats facing the stage, couches and cafe tables and chairs had been spread throughout the floor, making the space very welcoming and downright cozy.

The performance was organized by Andrew Blair and was titled The R-Pattz Factz.
It was already in progress by the time I came in, so I’m unsure of how many performers there were. I didn’t quite know what I’d gotten myself into at first.

The first performer I caught was Andrew Blair himself, reading a Sparksnote version of Gilgamesh…if Gilgamesh was Robert Pattinson, he of all the vampire/werewolf films 😉 

Andrew Blair reciting Gilgamesh...sort of.

It was tremendous.

Then other performers came on stage, and quickly we realized the connection, and the name of the piece. All of the work was based on Robert Pattinson!

This made for an incredibly fun performance by all, with a special mention going to Harry Giles for his piece Trump/Pattison. He used @realDonaldTrump’s tweets from February 2017 and replaced all the proper nouns with “Robert Pattinson”. It was absurd, it was political, it was funny, and it was damn brilliant.

Harry Giles and his Trump/Pattinson Sonnets (©Harry Giles).


And this is where the music comes into play…

One of the performers sang “Born Slippy”, very apropos given its’ fame from the Trainspotting soundtrack, which is mainly set in Leith. He did this though, while wearing a Robert Pattinson mask.


It was all silly, camp, ridiculous, and probably the best time I’ve ever had at a spoken word performance.

After hearing the words “Robert Pattinson” repeated twelve-hundred times, it was hard to move on. But we knew there was another theater piece so we hurried back to the main venue to see Love performed by Ludens Ensemble.

There were three performers playing three separate characters, with one foot in Elizabethan England and one foot in modernity.

Some paper crafting going on.

The piece was a mix of dance, performance art, theater, crafting, puppetry, almost everything but the kitchen sink. It was all a bit messy and fun and kooky and a bit hard to describe. 


A living ladder.

It was definitely engaging and not really the type of performance I’d usually go see but I was so glad to have had the chance to be there and experience it all.


Some very sexy gyrations.

It was a fantastic evening with great and surprising performances. Many thanks again to L. for the invite and I can’t wait for next year’s edition of the Hidden Door Festival.

P.S. Oh and I've moved to Scotland... Blog name notwithstanding. 😀

Friday, June 12, 2015

Belle & Sebastian @ Radio City Music Hall - 6.10.2015

If you used to follow this blog - eons and eons ago - you’ve probably long ago gave up hope that it would ever be updated. It has been 5 years after all since my last post.

I have actually left the house in the intervening years, but I’d never get around to writing. But I was inspired by my last show to write again, at least for this one. 

I hadn’t seen Belle & Sebastian since their show over at the Nokia Theater in Times Square back in 2006. They put on a good show then, but the audience was dreadful, no enthusiasm, no joy, just a bunch of shoe gazers and meanies - someone actually boasted on their way out about having bullied someone into not singing along. I remember thinking that these people really didn’t seem to have realized what Belle & Sebastian are all about and that the band deserved a better crowd.

Well, that better crowd came along last Wednesday. Belle & Sebastian played a sold-out Radio City Music Hall, and were welcomed with open arms and much loud whooping...a lot of it from me :D

The opener was a band called Real Estate, whose band members hail (w/one exception) from New Jersey. They were sweet - calling out their parents from the stage - and played some very catchy songs, at least one of which had a definite Belle & Sebastian vibe to it. Not too surprising as they mentioned seeing B&S as teenagers and how wowed they were to now be opening for them. Lots of people were still slowly drifting in during their set, but by the time Real Estate finished playing they’d managed to get half the orchestra to give them a standing ovation. Not bad for some boys from Jersey.
Real Estate in action.

After a bit of a wait between the two bands, we were treated to a giant projection of one of the cover girls from the new album “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance” introducing the band.


Ladies and Gentlemen...Belle & Sebastian!
There would be other giant video projections during the show which I think greatly added to the show. I’m not usually one for fancy graphics, since only a few bands know how to use it properly - U2 and Radiohead come to mind - but these really worked well. They weren’t distracting but complimented the songs very well. 

No, not an iPod commercial ;)

The first song - Nobody’s Empire - was a bit of a slow starter, with some of the crowd, at least in the orchestra in front of me, remaining seated. But as soon as ‘I’m a Cuckoo’ began all hell broke loose…well, it was still a Belle & Sebastian show, but all hell within the context, i.e. everyone got up and started to move their little booties. Even some of the older booties got into it - shout out to the older lady in front of me grooving along :) 


Stuart and Stevie front stage.


Very creepy monk and creature :)

I think I had that telly! And those antelope!

‘Perfect Couples’ had the perfect blend of graphics and song, featuring an elaborate choreography of various young folk entering and leaving a tastefully decorated living room, projected behind the band.


Let's Dance!

Stuart spoke a bit about how he usually didn’t write songs for specific people but that he had done so for the following one, Piazza, New York Catcher, and how it had been written for his now wife, while they were falling in love all over the world.

If You’re Feeling Sinister and Dear Catastrophe Waitress pretty much brought the house down.


Back Up Dancers return! Much to everyone's delight - they were great :)

I think Belle & Sebastian have been channeling some Di Chirico mayhaps...

"Dance my pretties, dance!"

And then the band brought on some lucky audience members - pre-chosen as they had badges around their necks - to the stage where they danced alongside the band for two songs, one of which was ‘I Didn’t See it Coming’. 


Do not adjust your sets. This is only an optical illusion. ;)

Lucky...

I want to dance up there...bwahhhhhhh!

They took a ‘break’ and then came back for a two-song encore, ‘Lazy Line Painter Jane’ featuring a duet with Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls and culminating with an amazing performance of ‘Judy and the Dream of Horses’.


It wouldn't be a Scottish rock show without some fine bag-piping in action.
The end.

I’d come to the show with friends but ended up walking back to my train station on my own - about 20 blocks or so, around midnight - and felt light as air humming all the songs I’d just heard  that night.

I came to a realization that evening. I’ve long been a fan of Belle and Sebastian but there’s no band out there right now that makes me as happy as they do on a regular basis. This is not a diss on other bands, many of whom I’ve followed and been a huge fan of at various points of my life, but right now my go-to band of choice is a little band from Glasgow that’s out to conquer the world with their infectious dance tunes :)

Setlist 
Nobody's Empire 
I'm a Cuckoo 
The Party Line 
The State I Am In 
Dirty Dream Number Two 
Perfect Couples 
Piazza, New York Catcher 
Allie 
The Cat With the Cream 
If You're Feeling Sinister 
The Wrong Girl 
Dear Catastrophe Waitress 
If You Find Yourself Caught in Love 
The Boy with the Arab Strap 
I Didn't See It Coming 
Sleep the Clock Around 

Encore:
Lazy Line Painter Jane  (with Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls)
Judy and the Dream of Horses

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Deolinda @ Joe's Pub - 10.4.10

I almost didn't make it to this show. Been sick a lot lately and started to get really ill right before moi and the boy had to head out to meet our friend Soft-Spoken Feisty Lady. But I got a burst of 'I'm-not-going-to-let-a-random-illness-keep-me-from-yet-another-show' rage and with the help of probably too many meds provided by our fine friends at McNeil Pharmaceuticals, I stumbled out into the rainy cold evening and rushed to the city.

We'd booked a table, b/c that's the only guaranteed way of getting a seat at Joe's Pub. Little aside: they have a good racket going there. Book great acts to come play at their venue and then make everyone buy at least $12 worth of food in order for them to get a seat. Doesn't seem so bad in theory. Twelve dollars, that's nothing surely...unless the food is a bit oh, let's say abysmal. Particularly for someone with any sort of dietary restriction, aka 'must-everything-in-the-menu-have-cheese-in-it-for-crissake's!'

But enough griping about the food...except for one more thing. I thought most money in establishments was made from drinks. Soo why not just have a $12 minimum which includes drinks? Wouldn't that be more profitable? Ok, rant over ;o)

The boy and myself managed to just make our reservation and met up with SSFL inside - who by the way was let in to Joe's Pub even though she didn't have her ticket - very classy Joe's Pub! Thankee kindly for your er, kindness :o)


We snuggled into our teeny table...which was center stage! Right up against the stage! Very cool! I'd been to Joe's Pub before but had either had a table further back or had had to stand over by the bar because I hadn't snagged a reservation (not so great btw, to have to stand over by the bar - don't really recommend it. If you remember nothing else from this review, remember to make a reservation as soon as you get a tix. Heck, have a friend call for a reservation while you're getting tixs!). This was the first time I'd managed such a great spot. I had the boy sit the closest to the stage, so I could sit a bit further back to better enjoy the show. Hey, I was the main fan in the party, so I got the better seat ;o)

We still hadn't quite managed to finish our food when Deolinda came on stage. Ana Bacalhau - the lead singer - told us (in great English) a little bit about the tour - how it was their first time playing in New York City and talked a little about the first song.

Deolinda - Luis Jose Martins, Ana Bacalhau, Ze Pedro Leitao and Pedro da Silva Martins
She also kindly named each song before performing it, which made my life a lot easier since I never seem to manage to note down the set list. They started out with Se Uma Onda Invertesse a Marcha (If a Wave Inverted the March) and proceeded to put on an amazing show.

I really liked her storytelling - she'd make sure to set the stage for each song, telling us a little bit about what it was about. And she hoped that by her gestures and body language, those that didn't speak English would come to understand what she was singing about.


Ana introduced Patinho de Borracha (Rubber Duckie), by saying it was about 'people who like to talk about themselves, but pardon my French, they're full of it'.

About halfway through she moved a bit to the back of the stage and explained that the two following songs were the closest Deolinda had that were like classical Fado. And for Fado, the fadista (or fado singer) always stands next to the guitar player while singing). She then proceeded to belt into Cancao da Tal Guitarra (Song of that Guitar) and O Fado Nao E Mau (Fado Isn't Bad) and gave a rousing performance worthy of the best Fadistas.

'Ah Grande Fadista!'
She then told us a little bit about 'Marchas Populares' (Popular Marches), a Portuguese tradition which most famously takes place in Lisbon during the month of June honoring the city's patron saint, Santo Antonio.  Each neighborhood will come up with their own choreography, music, song and costumes, and parade down the city streets in a competition to determine the best 'marcha' each year. Deolinda has come up with their own version of a 'marcha' - A Problemática Colocação De Um Mastro (The Problematic Placement of a Mast). It was very rousing, very patriotic, until the little twist in the end - all in all a very funny and entertaining rendition.

There had been singing along all throughout, due to the 50-50 ratio of Portuguese to English speakers in the room. But when Fon Fon Fon  or in English, Fon Fon Fon ;o) started, that's when everyone really joined in. This is a song about a girl who loves a tuba player in a philarmonic band. All her friends say that the sound of a tuba isn't romantic and her parents disapprove, but she's fallen for the fon fon fon that her namorado makes. Wonderfully fun performance with lots of audience participation.



They then said their goodbyes and we all started to clap wildly to have them return. Ana thanked us and said she would be playing a more melancholic song - Clandestino (Clandestine) and then insisted that we all sing along during the 'last' song Movimento Perpétuo Associativo (Perpetual Associative Movement). She said that this song was about those people who always got very excited about things, about revolutions, that got everyone riled up. But then when it was time to act, they'd say 'Vai sem mim, que eu vou la ter', or 'go without me, i'll catch up', i.e. yeah, i'm not going. She then spoke in Portuguese for the first time (minus the time she sang of course) to the audience and asked how many Portuguese were there. And if we'd sing the refrain extra loudly to make sure that the English-only speakers around us would be able to follow along. And surely we did! The audience proceeded to sang its little heart out and sang the band off the stage as they took their goodbyes.

 

But we weren't ready to say our goodbye yet. The audience kept on singing the refrain of the last song until the band came back on stage for a third time and finally sang their last song Eu Tenho um Melro (I Have a Blackbird).

Great performance, full of life and joy and fun. I hope they'll come back soon to NYC and get ever more popular in the US. I'll certainly do my best to spread the gospel :o)

P.S. They were super friendly to their fans and stayed on after the show to sign autographs and take photos. That's where I got the 'stolen' set-list (thanks to the help of my boy) signed by all 4 of them. Thanks so much Deolinda!

'Stolen' and Signed Set-List :o)
P.P.S. Just had to point out a fun little detail that I noticed - the singer's built in pocket on her dress to house her mike transmitter. Soo clever :o)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gogol Bordello @ McCarren Park Pool - 6.20.08

So I went to this show oh, about 2 years ago...
And somehow never got around to writing anything about it.
Well, it's too fucking late now ;o)
But I do have some pics and videos of the evening that I thought I might share with all of my readers - all two of you ;o)

Without further ado....
My photographic essay entitled:

Gogol Bordello Rocks Brooklyn 

Yes, yes, i know, the title is incredibly creative - what do you want, it's been two years :p



The insanity just beginning :o)


I think this gig security was rethinking having come in to work today ;o)


The littlest Gogol Bordello fan




More and more fun :o)


No, it isn't just Eugene Hutz in the band :p



What's that accordion player doing blocking my view of Eugene?!



'Now with crazy coloring' ;o)




 Supertheory of Supereverything  - Gogol Bordello @ McCarren Park Pool 
(my apologies for the quality)


Eugene in top form




Crazy finale...well, a bit of it ;o) 


Amazing finale featuring a samba troupe