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Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: GARCIA PEOPLES-Hear Here Presents (2020).

Sometimes it takes a band you like to introduce you to something you didn’t know about.

Like Hear Here Presents, a non-profit studio in Wisconsin that records bands in a small setting with great audio quality.  And there are some fantastic bands (and yes, many many more that I haven’t heard of) on their page.

The band just released their session from this live show on bandcamp.

Back in January, Garcia Peoples went into the studio at Hear Here Presents for a session.

I’m not sure how long the sessions usually are, but this one runs about 35 minutes and consists of two songs.

Up first is what they are calling “Hear Here Jam.”  It’s 12 plus minutes of  a jamming instrumental.   It’s impression how tight these guys are that they can improv for 12 minutes and not only not step on each others toes, but actually make a composition that sounds interesting.

There’s a raging guitar section at around three minutes and an impressive build to a peak around 8 minutes before finishing up a few minutes later.  Having the three guitar of Tom Malach, Danny Arakaki, and Derek Spaldo allows for terrific interplay and a depth of sound.

That depth of sound is really evident on the second song, which opens with the introduction to “One Step Beyond.”  Of course, before they start that, there’s some tuning to be done, with some snippets of recognizable riffs:  Close Encounters of the Third Kind, “Hey Joe,” “Sweet Child of Mine.”

But once everyone is ready, it’s down to business.  It’s fun picking out which guitars are playing what in the complex intro to “One Step.”  It’s impressive the way the three guitars can keep the looping melody original and changing while bassist Andy Cush more or less take a lead role.

It’s also important to keep an eye (or an ear) on drummer Cesar Arakaki because he can keep a beat and keep it from being dull as well.

Then after nine and a half minutes of intro, the band shifts gears into the rocking “Feel So Great,” a terrific song with a fantastic musical bridge.  Ringing guitars and a super cool bass line propel the song before the chill chorus.

Not content to let a short, catchy song end their set, they proceed to stretch of “Feel So Good” starting around 15 minutes.  Multi-instrumentalist Pat Gubler trades his keyboard for flute as the psychedelia commences.  After some raging guitar work up until about twenty minutes, the band slows things down to ring to a close.

The only thing disappointing about this set is that when the song is over, you can hear them talking and someone says, “we can do another one,: just as the audio cuts out.  What else did they play????

[READ: September 24, 2020] We All Die Naked [an excerpt]

During the COVID Quarantine, venerable publisher Hingston & Olsen created, under the editorship of Rebecca Romney, a gorgeous box of 12 stories.  It has a die-cut opening to allow the top book’s central image to show through (each book’s center is different).  You can get a copy here. This is a collection of science fiction stories written from 1836 to 1998.  Each story imagines the future–some further into the future than others. As it says on the back of the box

Their future.  Our present.  From social reforms to climate change, video chat to the new face of fascism, Projections is a collection of 12 sci-fi stories that anticipated life in the present day.

About this story, Romney writes

[In 1896] Svante Arrhenius first calculated the increase in Earth’s surface temperature caused by increases in industrial carbon production — what we now know as the greenhouse effect. …  As far as I know, James Blish is the first science-fiction writer to imagine an apocalypse caused by climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions.  It’s a biting satire, simultaneously bleak and gregarious, that catches the characters on the brink of catastrophe through climate change.

To me, this story felt a little preachy.  But then, I’m reading it after fifty years of this kind of story already existing.  I imagine it was pretty impactful back in the era of Silent Spring (if sci-fi ever had an impact on anything).  And, indeed, it’s still pretty impactful given how many things he gets right.

The protagonist, Alexei-Aub Kehoe Salvia Sun-Moon-Lake Stewart, Sa. D., is forty and set in his ways.  He is the General President of Local 802 of the International Brotherhood of Sanitation Engineers.

Blish was eerily prescient to 2020 in one aspect of the story

Adjusting his mask–no matter how new a mask was, it seemed to let in more free radicals from the ambient air every day–he put the thought aside and prepared to enjoy his stroll and his lunch.

But some things are more grim.  The roads around Times Square, Wall Street and Rockefeller Center are all canals. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: September 12, 2020] Pet Shop Boys / New Order: The Unity Tour [moved September 22, 2021]

indexI saw the Pet Shop Boys in Morristown a few years ago.  The show was great.  The guys sounded amazing and I had a really good time–except for the crowd around me.  They were all loud and talking and tall and pushing.  I wished I’d gotten better seats as well.  So I told myself if they toured again I would see them if conditions were good.

Well, how about if they toured with New Order?  I’ve been a fan of New Order forever but I’ve never seen them live.  I’m not even sure I ever really wanted to see them live.  But putting them together with New Order was  perfect.  I didn’t realize that peter Hook had left the band.  I did see that he was doing solo shows, but I didn’t realize he had no main band anymore.  I also didn’t realized they’d put out any new music since Get Ready.  Well, I hope they were just going to play the hits.

I didn’t really want to go to Madison Square Garden, but I’ve had good luck there lately so I picked it over any other large venue.

On June 11, I got the news that Pet Shop Boys & New Order – The Unity Tour was to be postponed until next year.  I had pretty good seats, so I’m glad I get to keep them.  I’ve waited a while to see them again, what’s one more year?

 

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2020_03_16 (1)SOUNDTRACK: MOUNT EERIE-Tiny Desk Concert #945 (February 12, 2020).

maxresdefaultI’ve heard of Mount Eerie, but I didn’t really know that much about them. And when I say them, I really mean him, Phil Elverum.

Phil Elverum’s songs come full circle, swooping down like vultures and floating up like ashes from flames. Throughout his work in Mount Eerie and The Microphones, idealism comes up against realism, existence entangles with impermanence and love discovers new forms. So when he sings, “Let’s get out the romance,” in close harmony with Julie Doiron at the Tiny Desk, there’s a history going back nearly two decades to an isolated cabin in Norway where he first wrote the phrase.

I have never really enjoyed quiet, sad music.  It’s just not my thing.  So this Tiny Desk is definitely not my favorite.  Although I can appreciate the intensity of his lyrics and the beautiful way his and Julie’s voices combine.

They recorded an album, Lost Wisdom Pt. 2, last year.

the sparsely decorated, deeply felt album meditates on a heart still breaking and mutating, but also gently reckons with a younger version of himself. That refrain on “Belief” is performed here with only an electric guitar and a nylon-string acoustic bought in Stockholm during that Scandinavian trip many years ago.

“Belief” opens with quiet acoustic guitar and then the two of them singing together.  And it’s pretty intense:

Elverum remembers himself as a young man who begged “the sky for some calamity to challenge my foundation.” We then become the Greek chorus, witness to the unfolding tragedy: first, the death of his wife and mother to their child, the musician and illustrator Geneviève Castrée, in 2016; then the marriage to actor Michelle Williams in 2018 and their divorce less than a year later. “‘The world always goes on,'” Doiron sings in answer, quoting a Joanne Kyger poem, “‘Breaking us with its changes / Until our form, exhausted, runs true.'”

Doiron’s guitar contributions are so minimal, she doesn’t play for most of the song.   The song runs almost seven minutes and does seem to end mid-sentence.

When “Belief” suddenly ends, seemingly in the middle of a thought, Elverum’s eyes search the room. The audience responds with applause, but a version of this dynamic plays out everywhere he’s performed for the last three years — long silences broken up by tentative claps, nervous laughs struck by grief and absurdity.

The second song, “Enduring The Waves” is only three minutes long.  He begins it by speak/singing “Reading about Buddhism” and I wasn’t sure if it was a lyric or an introduction.  It’s a lyric.  This song features Julie and Phil singing seemingly disparate lines over each other until their final lines match up perfectly  The construction of this song is really wonderful even if it is still a pretty slow sad song,

“Love Without Possession” Julie sings the first verse and after her verse, Phil starts strumming his guitar in what can only be described as a really catchy sort of way.  They harmonize together and Doiron includes minimal electric guitar notes.  This is my favorite song of the bunch.

[READ: March 13, 2020] “My High-School Commute”

Colin Jost is one of the presenters on Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update.  I think he’s very funny and has a great sarcastic tone.  Although, I have to agree with the title of his new memoir: A Very Punchable Face.

This is an amusing essay about his daily commute to high school, in which he took “a journey by land, sea and underground rocket toilet.”

His grandfather always told him about the value of an education–protect your brain! was his constant refrain.

It was his brain that got him out of Staten Island.  It got him into a Catholic high school called Regis* *Regis Philbin was named after my high school but went to Cardinal Hayes High School which was full of kids who beat the shit out of kids who went to Regis.

Regis is one of the best schools in the country and it is free–tens of thousands of kids apply for 120 spots. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 31, 2019] Ryley Walker

I saw Ryley Walker open for Calexico in May of 2018.  He played with a trio–second guitar and bass.

Even though I was at the show, I clearly didn’t remember it very well, because I was puzzled why he was on this jam band bill.  The confusion is because I mostly remembered him singing the song “Telluride Speed,” a mellow folky song.

But re-watching some of the videos from that show I realize that much of the show was instrumental jams between he and his co-guitarist Bill McKay.  So I should have realized it made sense.

But I was so puzzled when he came out and started playing that I genuinely wasn’t sure if it was the same guy.

In part because the music he was playing was abstract and noisy and utterly experimental.  (It makes sense that his jamming for Calexico would be a bit more folky).  Plus, he looked completely different. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 31, 2019] Chris Forsyth + Garcia Peoples

I was blown away the first time I heard Chris Forsyth’s album Dreaming in the Non-Dream.  When I saw his Tiny Desk Concert I was convinced that he was someone I wanted to see live.

Forsyth is based in Philly which means I should be able to see him a lot.  And, in fact, he does seem to play in the area quite a lot. But always when I’m unavailable!  So, if it meant travelling to NYC to see him so be it.

Garcia Peoples’ set ended at around 1:15 and, since they were backing up Forsyth, there was no take down/set up to deal with.  At around 1:30, Forsyth came up on stage and made sure his stuff was in order. Then he called back Garcia Peoples to the stage and off they went.

Like the GP set, Forsyth only played three songs.  And like the GP set, it lasted 45 minutes of awesomeness.

They started with Forsyth’s new song “Tomorrow Might as Well Be Today.”  It’s got a great opening riff and the song just takes off from there.  The song is only 4 minutes on the record (his latest record Mystic Mountain), but they jammed it out for a few minutes more.  Forsyth’s soloing was just fantastic. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 31, 2019] Garcia Peoples

I saw Garcia Peoples about a year ago when they opened for Heron Oblivion.  I really liked them and knew I’d want to see them again.  The fact that this year they were on a bill with Chris Forsyth, who I also really wanted to see, and it was an after-party show after the final Phish show I’d be seeing of the year made it even more cool.

I was even willing to stay in NYC until 3 AM to see it!

I arrived at Le Poissin Rouge early enough to get a slice of pizza in the Village (yum) and even get a drink at LPR (the bartender assumed my change was a tip, apparently).

I parked myself on the right side of the stage (I usually prefer the left side, but it was a little crowded there).  I wound up being right in front of GP’s guitarist Tom Malach (who looked different since last time he wore a toque the whole night).

The big difference between these shows was that last time Andy Cush was on bass, but this time it was Derek Spaldo, who also sang lead vocals much of the time.  I understand Andy is still in the band–do they alternate venues?  Well, whatever the case, I thought Cush was great last time and I thought Spaldo was great this time.

This band is so much fun to watch.  Spaldo is often playing a great grooving bassline while Malach and other guitarist Danny Arakaki trade amazing licks. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 30, 2019] Phish

After last night’s show, I really didn’t have high hopes for knocking out a bunch of songs.  I realize they don’t know what’s on my list, but it sometimes feels like they do and they keep spacing them out to make sure I come back.

For this show I had seats that I bought in the lottery.  I never get good seats in the Phish lottery, but the tickets themselves are very cool–colorful and quite lovely.  But I was up in the 200s for this show.  And once again my row-mates were lame.  Or maybe I’m the lame one.  Whatever the case, this was my first show where I could see the video screen.  The video screen is pretty terrible because the audio and video are out of synch.  However, it did allow me to take a few good pictures of the guys.

Tonight’s trip into the city was much better.  I’d picked a garage in the village, six blocks from Le Poisson Rouge, and this time I knew I’d be able to make the afterparty (Garcia Peoples, Chris Forsyth, Ryley Walker).  I also managed to go into MSG through a different entrance (I really wish I could keep track of which entrances are the best).  I managed to get the shirt that I liked (sold out last night) and get to my seat with ample time to spare.  Let it be known that there is FAR LESS ROOM in the 200s than in the 100s!

But the lights soon dimmed and Trey played the four opening notes that can only mean one thing–“Wilson!”  The very first time I saw Phish, they opened with “Wilson” and it was a wonderful moment.  And sure, I’ve seen it four times, but it is such a great, exciting song live–so much crowd interaction–that I knew it would be a fun night. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 29, 2019] Phish

I blew off two of the three Phish shows I had tickets to this summer.  (I really should have gone to that Sunday show).  Camden is such a hassle.

Somehow, I find getting to Madison Square Garden much less of a hassle–which makes literally no sense.  These were my fourth and fifth times seeing them at MSG (compared to two in Camden).  But this MSG trip involved driving into the city ($15 tunnel toll?) and then getting a garage.  And, because I planned to go to an after party at Le Poisson Rouge with Marco Benevento, I decided to park in the village and subway it up.  That’s actually a lot of hassle.

But it was worth it.

This was my eighth Phish show (I could be in double digits by now if I didn’t sell those Camden tickets).

The theory is that the Sunday night of the New Year’s Eve run is always great.  And boy howdy was it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 21, 2019] King Crimson

It is hard to believe that it has been almost two years since I last saw King Crimson, because I feels like it was just a few months ago.

This was my fourth time seeing them in five years.  As I said last time, who knows when Robert Fripp is going to decide to end this iteration, so if they come to town, I’m going to see them.  In fact, I had a ticket for Monday night’s show in Philly as well but I decided not to go because I had been to a show Friday and now Saturday and I had four more shows lined up later in the week (seven shows in nine days is a lot, even for me).

This time I went with my friend Bill.  He drove us into the city for which I was thankful.  He told me he usually just looks for street parking but because he didn’t want to be late he booked a garage.  That proved to be a huge mistake because everyone who didn’t live in NYC also booked that garage and there were only two attendants.  We waited for 45 minutes for our car (which meant I got home at 2AM!).  This was Bill’s first time seeing King Crimson.

He was very impressed.  Of course.

This time the band was back down to a seven piece.  I’m not sure what happened to the eighth member.  It was going to be Bill Rieflin again and then he took a sabbatical and was replaced by Theo Travis.  But apparently he was not included on this tour “when the band opted not to have musicians deputising for Rieflin again.”

Even though these shows have a base of similar songs and players, each tour (and each tour date) has mixed it up somewhat.  So out of the eighteen songs they played that night, I hadn’t seen 5 of them.  That’s a pretty great evolution.   And honestly, the songs I’ve heard more than once (some every time) I’m more than happy to hear again and again.

The last time I saw them I wrote

after they tour Europe, if they came back I would see them again no question.  This time maybe from the front of the balcony for a whole new perspective.

Following my own advice, I scored front row balcony seats to this show, and they were really spectacular.  The band sounded great and it was easy to see what everyone was doing (where to look is a perennial problem).  [My seats in Philly were also exciting–stage left in a balcony box, staring right at Fripp–I’ll definitely try to get them again if they come around in 2020). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 21, 2017] Phish

I have wanted to see a Phish New Year’s Eve show for years.  But one should welcome in the New Year with people you love, so I will never go to a show on New Year’s Eve.  But this year I decided to try for a ticket for the night before New Year’s Eve.  Once I got my ticket I learned that many people feel like the 12/30 show is ultimately better than the 12/31 show–in terms of music, not theatricality naturally.

I was also pretty happy to find out that my friend Armando and his girlfriend were going.  So we wound up making an evening out of it.  They live near the train station, so I drove to their house and we walked to the train.  It was nice meeting his girlfriend (she is famous from his blog) and we all got along very well.  When we got into the City, he told me we were going to a great Peruvian restaurant really close to the arena.   And what a great find it was.  Rather than pizza or a hot dog we were able to eat a yummy (and filling meal) and it was quite fast as well.

Although, perhaps it could have been faster.  When we walked across the street to MSG, the line to get in was massive.  We never found out exactly what was going on, but they were holding everyone back at a barrier while the line thinned out.  We were running very tight to show time.  But the arena must have known that because the band did not go on as early as they usually do. (more…)

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