Thursday, October 27, 2005

OK Go.10.26.05.Irving Plaza

by Charlotte Deaver

When I first saw this band back in April, I felt as though we, the entire audience and I, were witnessing a moment in history. You know -- Prague Spring, Kennedy's assassination, the first walk on the moon -- something like that. A little over the top, you say? I know, but I was ecstatic. Gone. Hooked.

Ok Go was the band that started it all for me, this rock and roll kick I'm on. I began to see a lot of live music after that night, something I didn't think I enjoyed too much anymore. This was partly due to the performance spaces themselves; they were safe, controlled environments -- the civilized kind, with seat numbers and ushers.

Now I want nothing other than General Admission. I want arm-waving, body-jamming, high-decibel cheering, and if I'’m lucky, some crowd surfing. I want the band spitting on me (not on purpose, of course).

Which brings me back to OK Go, a glam-boy, cock-rock kind of band. These boys play neatly crafted rock and roll songs with quite the rousing mix of accuracy and energy. When a band promises as much rock and roll and fun as this band does, the crowd will follow eagerly, provided there are no sloppy distractions. And this is a tight, clean, band. They rock precisely as they churn and sweat, and I like that. (All rock and roll bands must sweat. A lot. Never trust a band that doesn'’t sweat.)

On Wednesday night, we (my friends and I) agreed that this performance paled in comparison to their April show at Northsix. Playing here at Irving Plaza, a larger space, and performing new material from their second CD, Oh No, they seemed spread out, flatter.

We wanted that compact, exploding package they were before.

But instead, we got gift wrap.

One problem, I think, was that they assumed too much from their audience. First, they made us wait forever before coming on stage (BIG mistake, boys). Then, they complained about being sick, and about how they always get sick in New York. Wait. Do you not get that we are New Yorkers? And did you just (sort of) insult our city? Do not say ANYthing about this town. And while I'm at it (rage), we don't really care if you're sick!

So, it was a bad start. But then they pulled and pulled, worked their tight little chords, ground out the bass lines (really nice), got their vocal mix together (ow! ow! ow! ow!), and Damian finally started feeling the effects of his Tylanol 3 or whatever. He jumped and hollered a-plenty, they did their adorable dance number for an encore (see the last four photos), and all was right in the world.

But for that gift-wrap. The band presented the audience a nicely designed package, like the alternating William Morris wallpaper that continually flashed onto the stage's backdrop.

But I wanted them to tear the paper off like Christmas morning. No, I wanted more than that. I wanted shards and ashes. I wanted the whole damn stage to blow up in my face.

What. Am I asking too much?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wolf Parade.10.25.05.Northsix

by Charlotte Deaver

In the indie music world, this band is hot-hot-hot. To my ears last night -- not so hot. It's because of the popularity of a band like this that I wonder not just a little about the indie music scene. What is it that people like so much about an OK band like this? And, I have to ask, do they REALLY like them that much? Did the audience come away from the show last night charged, or smitten?

Their sound, to me, lacked body, fullness, partly because the bass is often played electronically and barely audibly by the gimmicky keyboardist (he plays his wee-little-keys over his head and doesn't even think he's Jimmy Hendrix), but also because one of the lead singers (there are two) sings with a yelp-y, pitchless voice. How can a voice like that get under your skin, except in a bad way? I did like the lead guitarist a lot, who also sang lead. Points against: he looked very much like Anton Newcombe from Brian Jonestown Massacre and, like Anton, doesn't sing very well. Points for: he seemed to be, unlike Anton, a sweetheart. He was, unlike -- oh, nevermind -- VERY nice to the audience.

Friday, October 21, 2005

chained melody: a night in the ER

by Charlotte Deaver

This is supposed to be a blog about music. But sometimes life intervenes. I haven't posted in the past few days, and I missed Tim and Tara of Antietam play last night because I've been, lets say, pre-occu-pied.

My mom never goes to hospitals. (Don't worry. This is not a photo of my mom.) She complains a LOT, but never about her health. She'll complain about the state of health care in America, and about how doctors mis-diagnose or want to cut you up right away. She'll complain about how inadequate, smarmy, and rich doctors can be. She will, at times, hail the benefits of cabbage, honey, and sea air. But that's about as close to medical attention as she'll get.

Until Wednesday night.

My mom spent sixteen hours on the floor of her apartment before four handsome, strapping firemen and two of the sweetest EMS guys (Mario and Jimmy) broke into her apartment and got her onto a gurney.

She still didn't want to go to the hospital (and, I should note, she hadn't wanted me to call 911, either!). But off we went, my poor, exhausted, crumpled mother, Mario, Jimmy, and I, to the local Emergency Room.

In time, I'm pretty sure my mom will be okay. She's in the hospital now and will need a lot of physical therapy so that she can get strong enough to walk again without pain. Hopefully. But we spent nine hours in the ER that night before they admitted her. Nine hours! It was crazy and scary, but also fascinating. Every "bed" has a story, several of which I heard as I waited. The man in the photo (which I had to take surreptitiously and without flash), who is cuffed on both wrists AND ankles, intrigued me the most.

When I wasn't with mom, who often slept in between tests, I spent most of my time with the cops. They were very friendly and liked to talk. Apparently, this chained delinquent was so violent that the police had to bag him with a blanket and keep him wrapped in it until they could cuff his arms and legs. He had completely destroyed someone's apartment and beat up on a guy, but had also been beaten up himself. As he lay there in a hallway--all night--he would continually pull on his handcuffs and try to get up, but his eyes never opened and he never actually said anything.

There was something about his bound, bare feet, his tattoo (Betty Boop), and the way he was so "caught" that I was drawn to. I tried to get a picture, just of his feet, but his police escort was too close and too attentive. An ER is by definition a place where the weak and the strong collide, where uniforms -- the firemen, the EMS guys, the cops, the doctors, all heroic types -- do their best to rescue people like my diminished mother, the depressive who had stopped taking his medication, the drunk who snored, and the lady who wanted to sleep with her cane. But our criminal friend was clearly strong and physically able, weakened only by drugs and in bed only because of three pairs of handcuffs.

My mom, on the other hand, might be in the hospital and/or rehab for weeks, and might not be able to walk for a long time. I hesitate to call attention to the chain metaphor, but in one way, it's apt. I just hope it's not too apt, because I have a lot of music to go to and write about! Oh -- yeah, and a dissertation to finish.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

José, José, I missed you.

by Charlotte Deaver

Last night José González played at the Living Room, and I —— missed it. I didn't even know about it. I had googled him and searched for shows he might be doing, and all I read was that he was touring Australia. So, for all my efforts to see and hear music I love "and listen to obsessively," I get nada. Nada.

Yes, I really am crushed.

He plays classical and flamenco-style guitar and his voice is sincere and unaffected. When "All You Deliver" begins you honestly may think it's Nick Drake (an overdone comparison, I know, I know! But really!), and then one flamenco-brush of the hand across the strings announces another kind of player (like one from, well, Sweden, as he is. Sweden?). Although this is "quiet" music, and by no means rock and roll, the songs feel urgent, propel forward and out, and rustle up surprising energy.

If I knew how and had permission, I would stream his song "Crosses" here. So go download it from iTunes, or buy his first U.S. release, Veneer.

Monday, October 17, 2005

homey pigeons in park slope

There is someone whistling to these pigeons on the roof.

The pigeons circle around and around him, and when they stray too far he whistles louder.

He keeps waving his flag as his flock swoops and turns.

If you look closely at the last picture you can see him.

When he whistles at them it looks like they are trying to back up - in mid air! - in response to his call. I watched them for over an hour.

Is he letting them out of his rooftop coop for "a fly?" I don't know, but thanks, pigeon-man. That was lovely.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

smiles out of nowhere. honest.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

say hi to his mom

by Charlotte Deaver

It has finally stopped raining (a 9-inch, Garcia Marquez rain, it was) and we’re doing last April’s taxes. Yes, for 2004. I’m listening to Nada Surf — “Fruit Fly” is playing back and forth, over and over again. The song builds pretty quietly, acoustically, but then breaks in the middle, driving into its electrically hard, pulsing, objective correlative (fruit fly = emotional state).

I went to see Nada Surf at the Bowery Ballroom last week by accident. I had actually gone to see Say Hi To Your Mom, an essentially one-man studio band (Eric Elbogen) who assembles musicians together for live performances.
He was unsteady and retreating live, and was playing with two brand-new band members that night. (But check out his songs “Laundry” and “Dimensions and Verticals” to get what’s great about his music.) Nada Surf, however, know how bring the stage alive. Strangely, one of my professors from graduate school is the lead singer’s mom. Very strange, indeed. The Surrealist Queen of Academia is perched up in the fancy balcony seats with her professor friends, some of whom I also knew, overlooking these wild youth (hey—say hi to his mom!), and I’m down below, arms waving, entranced by mere guitars.

romantic musings: thoughts on categories

by Charlotte Deaver

For some reason — our cultural interests, I suppose — my husband and I often find ourselves ‘arguing’ about the varying definitions of modernism, romanticism, postmodernism, and poststructuralism. (I’m writing a dissertation in romantic literature, Tim is an extremely romantic advocate for Modernism, capital “M.”) Although we usually treat these categories as more aesthetic than historical (or linguistic, re poststructuralism), we derive the principals that help dictate the terms from historically Modernist artists: e.g. Joyce, Kafka, Proust, Matisse, Hopper, Mondrian, etc.

I realized last night that I view modernism as conflating the intensity of romantic feeling with the fragmentary aspect of postmodernism. The fragment is celebrated by the modernist palette and pen, but not at the cost of emotional heft. Postmodernism, however, uses the fragment for the purposes of irony and distance. Cool trumps warmth. The spectacle trumps the authentic.

While I’m not willing to assert, as per my current definition, that modernism is “better,” I am saying that emotional intensity is better — feeling, meaning, heat, sincerity — and in categorical terms, these are qualities I associate with romanticism. So I’ll also say that modernist texts I love are essentially romantic. And I’ll even go so far as to say that anything I love is essentially romantic. So there.

Now for the music ahead. . .

by Charlotte Deaver

10.25.05 Wolf Parade (Northsix)
10.26.05 Ok Go (Irving Plaza)
11.03.05 Elbow (Hiro Ballroom)
11.04.05 St. Christopher and the Sleeping Doormen (Don Hill's)
11.06.05 Spoon (Warsaw)
11.11.05 Art Brut (Northsix)
11.17.05 Matt Pond PA (Mercury Lounge)
11.18.05 American Analog Set (Southpaw)
11.19.05 Rickie Lee Jones (Tribeca Arts Center)
11.28.05 Magic Numbers (Bowery Ballroom)
11.29.05 The Dandy Warhols (Webster Hall)

music of late. . .

by Charlotte Deaver

Since I began this blog out of an urge to write about bands I've seen this year, here's a list of some of the shows at which I've been having such a good time:

(This has become the list replacing the books-I've-read-this-year list that I haven't made in years. PriORITIES, folks.)

Nada Surf, Say Hi to Your Mom (Bowery Ballroom) 10.06. 05***
Robbers on High Street (Mercury Lounge) 10.07.05
Deerhoof, Lavender Diamond (Northsix) 9.28.05
Thunderbirds Are Now! Mommy and Daddy (Mercury Lounge) 9.21.05
St. Christopher and the Sleeping Doormen (Urban Glass) 9.16.05***
Vertical Horizon (Irving Plaza) 8.12.05***
Voxtrot (Magnetic Field) 8.11.05
Willowz, Dead Meadow (Knitting Factory) 8.04.05
Brian Jonestown Massacre (Bowery Ballroom) 7.31.05
Broken Social Scene, Dinosaur Jr. (Central Park Summerstage) 7.14.05
New Pornographers (Park Slope Bandshell) 6.25.05
The Get Up Kids (Webster Hall) 6.24.05
Rickie Lee Jones (Park Slope Bandshell) 6.15.05***
Patty Griffin (Webster Hall) 5.07.05
Phantom Planet (Knitting Factory) 4.30.05***
OK Go (Northsix) 4.09.05***

Somewhere in there were also Smoosh and the Theramin girl (forgot her name), and anything else I'm forgetting. Andrew Bird. The Badgers :). Opening acts whose names I forget.

***so good.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Ah. Dear Emily helps me with a blog title.

by Charlotte Deaver

I started this blog because I have been going to see a lot of live music lately, mostly rock and roll, about which I plan to post photos and comments. I might also use this site to cry about my dissertation that is currently not being written.