Tuesday, December 20, 2011

07/31/08 Flogging Molly/O'Death @ Pier 54, New York, NY

Something about the Irish folk punk of Flogging Molly and the Americana punk of O'Death seems especially well-suited for a waterside locale.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

07/27/08 MGMT @ McCarren Park Pool, Brooklyn, NY

The summer of 2008 was undeniably the summer of MGMT. Their soaring psychedelic pop spewed forth from the earbuds of every hipster's iPod. "Time To Pretend" captured the devil-may-care cynicism of a generation.

Booked before that anthem and "Kids" made MGMT the It band, the McCarren show served as a homecoming of sorts, and just about everyone in the hipster capital of NYC wrapped around the block for a glimpse at indie superstardom.

Not wanting to stand around for hours, we hatched a plan. After briefly surveying the circumference of the venue, we spotted a weakness in the VIP section. After scaling the fence, dropping onto a trailer and then behind some Port-o-Potties, we walked casually out of the VIP section and into the vast expanse of the decommissioned public pool. It ranks as one of my all-time most daring concert entries.

The show itself was as good a time as any Pool Party. It really was difficult to have a bad time in such a sunny carefree atmosphere.

The highlights of course were the faithful renditions of their radio hits. At one point they all took to mini-keyboards for a sole extended jam that their neo-hippie aesthetic all but required. This was a band on the cusp of living up to its hype.

Monday, December 5, 2011

07/21/08 The Death Set/Ponytail/Ninjasonik/The Mae Shi/Joan of Arc @ Market Hotel, Brooklyn, NY

For my girlfriend's birthday, I decided to take her to see The Mae Shi, a band we had been digging lately, hooked on the ubercatchy single "I Get Almost Everything" off their Biblical-themed electronic pop punk album HLLYH. They opened the show with an a cappella sing-along version of that number, and the show took on a spiritual revival aspect when the band draped the crowd in a large white sheet and began a psychedelic punk dirge fueled by a flashlight barrage.

The other acts on the bill were disparate, but united in their DIY ethos and an eagerness to play in a stuffy Bed-Stuy loft on the hottest night of the year. Even the bodega beers were warm.

First up was the indie underground Cap'n Jazz associated Joan of Arc. Built largely on the masterful squelch of guitar feedback, the group set the tone for a largely distorted evening.

I hadn't heard of Ponytail before this evening, but I have since become a huge fan. Dustin Wong's swirling leads spearheaded the caucophonic assault fronted by the inimitable manic exuberance of singer/screamer Molly Siegel.

The Death Set's headlining set featured a guest stint by local Brooklyn hip hop hipsters Ninjasonik whose tongue-in-cheek raps were perfectly augmented by The Death Set's electrified skate punk jams.

The rest of the set typified the energy of the dutiful all ages crowd, but when a crowdsurfer landed on my head, it was time to head back to Queens.

Friday, December 2, 2011

07/20/08 Golem/Sway Machinery/Michael Showalter/DeLeon/Soulico @ Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY

This showcase for the now-defunct JDub Records featured a decidedly semitic blend of performers ranging from the off-kilter comedic stylings of Michael Showalter to the klezmer punk of headliners Golem. The highlight was when the crowd cajoled a park vendor into dancing the Hora.

07/18/08 Globesonic Sound System @ Pier 1 Riverside Park South, New York, NY

From the muddy banks of the Hudson River, not all that far geographically from the stodgy Lincoln Center, the DJ/percussionist/etc. collective Globesonic Sound System soundtracked a worldly dance party with no pretension as the dirty Jersey sunset loomed off the pier.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

07/18/08 Budos Band/Chico Mann @ Damrosch Park, New York, NY

Hailing straight from the slums of Shaolin, embodying the revivalist funk movement of Daptone Records, the Budos Band paired with the modernized Blaxploitation funk of Chico Mann for this gratis offering at Lincoln Center's outdoor plaza.

Unfortunately, the section in front of the stage was reserved for donors despite plenty of space for all. It has since been revoked, but it prompted us to head for a more egalitarian dance floor.

07/17/08 DJ Spooky @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

Ever the innovator, DJ Spooky presented his multimedia treatise on African culture, featuring his trademark instrumental beats paired with captivating images and soundbytes that painted a stark picture of modern racism.

07/17/08 Fiery Furnaces @ East River Park, New York, NY

This free evening of local indie rock was enhanced by the riverside ampitheater venue, not to be confused with its Brooklyn counterpart, East River State Park.

07/16/08 Stuart Bogie's Superhuman Happiness/Charles Gayle Trio/Colin Stetson @ Tobacco Warehouse, Brooklyn, NY

This free show at the picturesque open-air Tobacco Warehouse in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge featured three accomplished saxophonists - Antibalas leader Stuart Bogie, free jazz maven Charles Gayle and journeyman Colin Stetson who has logged time with everyone from Arcade Fire to Tom Waits.

During Superhuman Happiness' headlining set, intergalactic NASA images were projected on the screen for a spacey funk affair.

07/15/08 Mickey Hart Band @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY

07/15/08 • Irving Plaza • New York , NY
Set 1: Shakedown Street, Manila Farewell, Seven Seconds, Self Defense, Tolongo, Fountains Of Wood, Eyes Of The World, Good Lovin’
Set 2: The Center Prelude > The Center, Strange World, Your House, The Other One > Arabian Wind > The Other One > Sugaree > Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain
Encore: Papa Was A Rolling Stone > Aiko Aiko
This incarnation of the pernicious percussionist' solo band was highlighted by the appropriately psychedelic tones of San Francisco stalwart Steve Kimock and String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth.

The two sets included such Dead essentials as Shakedown Street, Scarlet Begonias and The Other One, along with a classic pairing of Scarlet/Fire, the latter of which is Hart's signature Dead composition.


07/01/08 Kode9/Dave Q/Juakali/Forward Motion Theater @ WFC Winter Garden, New York, NY

Of the Love Generation's tragic decline, Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, "with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back." With none of the cultural gravitas, but similar proportionate respect to musical integrity, this was an inversely comparable temporal watermark for that divisive once-microgenre known as dubstep.

At the precipice of dubstep exploding beyond the bass underground, albeit in a bastardized form, one of its progenitors enlightened the womp-seekers with no pretension in an appropriately cold and characterless echo chamber, backlit by ominous monochromatic dancing shapes.

06/26/08 Tristan Perich's 1-Bit Music @ Jon Cohrs' loft, Brooklyn, NY

The allure at this inner Brooklyn loft dance party was the low-tech, hi-brow classical glitch of Tristan Perich's symphonic concoctions.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

06/21/08 Consider the Source/Sampson & The Folkadelics/Lachi @ private party, Queens, NY

I had been throwing progressively larger parties in my backyard for a couple years at this point. My buddy dubbed one Baller BBQ and the moniker stuck.

We had also had live music before but only loose jam sessions; this time we stepped up our game with 3 bands and a PA system.

We've had several since, each one better than the last, but this one took us to the next level and it will always be recalled as such.

To start with, in a move that flabbergasts me to this day, I managed to book the local virtuoso Middle Eastern jam metal trio Consider the Source to headline, proof eternal that MySpace was once good for something.

The party started off as usual - the regular stalwarts arriving first and tens of stragglers filtering in at a steady clip towards sundown. The bands all brought the heat, peaking with Consider the Source jamming an ambient metal improvisation while my friend spun fire betwixt the impressed guests.

Until that evening, I had oft wondered exactly how raucous a celebration I needed to concoct in order to arouse the ire of the neighbors to alert the authorities. I no longer have that query.

My friend was playing drums with a legally blind Nigerian pop singer at the time and she addressed the police from the microphone inquiring of a Semitic inclination to their noise concerns - "Did you say we have to turn it down because this is a Jewish neighborhood?" - misinterpreting "residential".

Volume reduced, drunken escapades persisted well into the summer night, a tradition set in stone.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

06/19/08 Medeski Martin & Wood/Ceramic Dog/Taylor McFerrin @ Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, NY

Having formed in Brooklyn, my favorite trio returned to its stomping grounds for this free Celebrate Brooklyn gig.

The lax security at Prospect Park allowed us to smuggle in a bag of wine so the night became slightly hazy.

Opener McFerrin was enjoyable if forgetable.

Ribot was skronky if not especially melodic. For his stylistic elasticity in a studio gig, he often seems apt to the polar opposite in many of his solo endeavors.

The headliners played a danceable improv-heavy set highlighted by a Ribot sit-in.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

06/13/08 Mavis Staples @ Central Park SummerStage, New York, NY

Mavis Staples is best known for "I'll Take You There" and her collaboration with The Band on "The Weight" at The Last Waltz.

Both songs were highlights of this free show in the park.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

05/31/08 Consider the Source/Fiasco/Aa/The Beets/etc. @ Goodbye Blue Monday, Brooklyn, NY

The tail end of this all-day Todd P showcase was supposed to take place on a beach in the Jamaica Bay, but the forecast called for rain, so it was moved to this Bushwick watering hole.

The decor of the bar was a pop culture junkyard explosion. Towers of cathode ray tube televisions and other archaic audio visual equipment lined the walls. Doll parts and action figures glued to mirrors adorned spare surfaces. The outdoor courtyard was strewn haphazardly with mattress springs and outsider sculptures. It was perfect.

Bands included teen punkers Fiasco, lo-fi indie rockers The Beets (not from Doug) and noise masters Aa (aka Big A Little A).

But the best act by far, to my hippie ears anyway, was the Middle Eastern influenced prog-jam trio Consider the Source. I had heard their name bandied about and checked their tunes online, but seeing them live was a treat. It's not much of a stretch to call the bassist Claypoolesque.

Little did I know then that just a few weeks later, they would be performing in my very own backyard.

05/31/08 So So Glos/Eskalators @ Bowery station>M train, New York>Brooklyn, NY

Local all-ages, all-venues show promoter Todd P planned a unique event for this Memorial Day weekend, starting with a subway platform performance by lo-fi punksters So So Glos.

From there, the original plan had us headed out to Jamaica Bay for a waterfront day fest. However, the inclement weather forecast changed plans.

We piled on to the Brooklyn-bound M train for an old fashioned train party featuring the 3rd wave ska of the Eskalators en route to the day's final destination.

05/24/08 The New Deal/Awesome New Republic @ Bowery Ballroom

After Raya Brass Band at Rose, we headed across the Williamsburg Bridge to catch one of my favorite bands at their most frequented NYC digs.

The opener was a high energy dance act in a similar vein that got the crowd moving with renditions of "Eye of the Tiger" and "Thriller."

The New Deal put on yet another wire-to-wire all-out dance party. They may be predictable, but they are predictably awesome, masters of the tension release peak jam.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

05/24/08 Raya Brass Band @ Rose Live Music, Brooklyn, NY

Just a few weeks before this pristene spring day, I had taken my girlfriend to get a cheap mountain bike, so she could join me on city rides on days like this one.

So that's what we did.

The ride from Flushing to Williamsburg takes a little under an hour, about the same as the train.

Unfortunately, my girlfriend, inexperienced as she is in the ways of the bicycle, suffered a minor injury en route to Rose.

Luckily, the bartender at Rose provided some tender loving care and Band-Aids. After catching the tail end of Raya's set of rollicking Balkan-tinged brass reverie.

Friday, April 22, 2011

05/??/08 Jazz @ Lincoln Center, Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, New York, NY

The free music season in NYC seems to start earlier every year. On this sunny day in May, I convinced my friend Sylvia to drive us into Manhattan for some early afternoon jazz at the new jazz cafe in Columbus Center.

Jazz @ Lincoln Center had opened up recently and spread various performance and educational spaces throughout the building, curated by Wynton Marsalis. Nearly every performance space, Dizzy's included, features a plate glass windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of Columbus Circle as a backdrop.

After the show, we explored the other performance spaces, including the small yet stunning Allen Room and the larger and equally impressive Rose Theatre where we were privy to an orchestra's rehearsal.

Later, we perused the paintings and sculptures that populate the mall.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

4/12/08 Disco Biscuits @ Nokia Theater, New York, NY

04/12/08 • Nokia Theatre • New York , NY
Set 1: M.E.M.P.H.I.S. > Lunar Pursuit > Shelby Rose1 > Air Song1 > And The Ladies Were The Rest Of The Night2
Set 2: Rockafella > Above The Waves3 > Bazaar Escape2, Resurrection > Spacebirdmatingcall > Shadow > 42
Encore: Mulberry's Dream
2ending only
3completes 4/11 version (ending and beginning sections only)
I know I caught one of the shows of the Biscuits' inaugural run at the Nokia, which would quickly become one of their most venerated stomping grounds. I am 90% sure it was this one.

04/06/08 Kimya Dawson/Angelo Spencer/L'Orchidee D'Hawai @ Webster Hall, New York, NY

This will likely remain the only show I ever attended with my father and my sister, who like myself were converted to the folk punk stylings of Kimya Dawson following her inclusion all over the soundtrack of the "indie" hit film Juno.

Opening the show was the jangly French surf pop group L'Orchidee D'Hawai and Kimya's forgettable baby daddy Angelo Spencer.

Kimya Dawson played an intimate, unpretentious set featuring all her solo hits, but sadly none of her Moldy Peaches output.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

04/05/08 Lotus/C-Mon & Kypski/The Frequency @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY

04-05-08 Fillmore NYC at Irving Plaza, New York, NY (SAT)
Flower Sermon, Grayrigg, Alkaline*, Sunrain > Killing In The Name, Spiritualize, Age Of Inexperience, Plant Your Root > Umbilical Moonset > Sunrain, Bellwhether, One Last Hurrah
E: 72 Hours Awake, Greet The Mind
* With Thomas Elbers (Kypski) on turntables and Sean Coolican on tambourine (The Frequency)
This show remains the best Lotus show of the relatively few I've seen, highlighted by an epic take on Rage Against the Machine's "Killing In the Name" before the Biscuits, and even Phish, started doing it.


03/19/08 Scotty Hard Benefit @ Highline Ballroom, New York, NY

The early months of 2008 turned out to be quite fertile in terms of epic concert events. Just a couple months after a "best show ever" contender, came this viable canidate.

This was a benefit for a prolific producer who happened to have worked with nearly all of my favorite local musicians, so the night featured the creme de la creme of New York City's venerable jazz and jam scene.

The night was a bit of a blur, with the stand outs being Bill Laswells dirty dub bass bombs and Antibalas' high energy late night set to a nearly empty venue.

Various ensembles throughout the evening featured permutations of NYC luminaries like MMW, Soulive, Sex Mob and the Benevento/Russo Duo.

Jazz licks by John Scofield and Vijay Iyer punctuated the jams.

There was even a bit of indie thrown in the mix.

All in all, it was a stirring testament to the cameraderie, vitality, and abundant talent of NYC's always stellar music scene.

03/15/08 Joe Hurley's Irish Rock Revue @ Webster Hall, New York, NY

On the weekend prior to St. Patrick's Day, our friend Ellen got us a gig manning the merch table at this event, which featured an endless rotation of Irish musicians and their ilk playing forgettable run-of-the-mill rock.

The highlight was the post-show buffet backstage. We snagged some spinach dip that almost survived the journey home.

02/27/08 Flogging Molly @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY

With St. Patrick's Day just a few weeks away, Flogging Molly brought their infectious brand of Irish folk punk to Irving Plaza.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

02/16/08 The Join w/Clay Parnell & Tom Hamilton/Biodiesel/Glitch Mob/Sub Swara @ Studio B, Brooklyn, NY

This was my only time at the short-lived, much loved Greenpoint dance club. Its anything-goes vibe, paired with its relative inaccessability in the quiet Polish enclave of Northwest Brooklyn made it a destination for fans of quality danceable electronic music.

This President's Day weekend event featured yet another incarnation of the New Deal's amorphous The Join project, pairing the former's keyboardist and drummer with Brothers Past's bassist Clay Parnell and guitarist Tommy Hamilton, a man of many scarves.

Rounding out the bill was Biodiesel, Clay's live drum&bass project with breakneck drummer Johnny Raab, and two glitch and womp DJ collectives, Glitch Mob and Sub Swara.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

01/14/08 Northern Realms:World, Folk & New Music Showcase @ Scandinavia House, New York, NY

My friend somehow discovered this amazing showcase which remains one of the single greatest musical experiences of my life.

The performances ran the gamut from virtuosic shofar (Karl Seglem) to tongue-in-cheek guitar duo (The Gothenburg Combo) to Swedish indie (Wildbirds & Peacedrums) to Colorado bluegrass (Expedition Quartet)and pretty much everything inbetween.

To top it all off, there was free wine and cheese in the lobby.

Very classy.


12/22/07 Badfish (Sublime tribute) @ Nokia Theater, New York, NY

This long running Sublime tribute act played all the greatest hits and then some quite capably.

At one point, the fake Gwen Stefani from No Doubt tribute act Excuse Me Mister passed me a joint. There's something abjectly postmodern about that.

During setbreak, we watched two teens put on the longest recorded public make out session in history. Nothing postmodern about that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

01/09/08 Medeski, Martin & Wood @ Borders Columbus Circle, New York, NY

Despite MMW being one of my favorite NYC-based bands, the only time I had ever seen them was in Tennessee.

This was a free appearance in a crowded bookstore to promote the group's recently released children's album Let's Go Everywhere.

The crowd was primarily adults, but there were several toddlers throwing down in the front row.

??/??/07 Nice Pipes @ Otto's Shrunken Head, New York, NY

My friend's band played at this East Village tiki bar a few times in 2007. Arising from the ashes of his high school band, Stop Gavrillo (named after the man who assasinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, setting off World War I), Nice Pipes played such inciendary political punk jams as "Fuck Republicans."