Monday, April 30, 2007

May 2007 Concert Calendar Highlights

The highlights of the Merry Month of May:

-Celebrate May Day comrades with the first of two nights of current Swede indie pop sensations Peter, Bjorn, and John at Webster Hall. I really liked their album for a few days.

-On May 2nd, The Knitters are at the Gramercy and Bjork is at Radio City, the first of 3 shows over the next week (see the calendar for more details).

-The Arcade Fire and The National, arguably the trendiest bands in Indie-World, will be at the hottest venue in the city right now - the United Palace Theater a week from today and tomorrow. On Wed the 9th, the Arcade Fire play Radio City as part of David Bowie's High Line Festival.

-Grant-Lee Phillips is the best alternative to the Arcade Fire and Amy Winehouse shows on the 9th (personally I don't care for Miss Winehouse, so by all means go see ol' Grant-Lee).

-Friday May 11th is one of the two big days of the month. The Changes are at the Knitting Factory, the Gourds (they of the bluegrass version of Snoop Dog's "Gin & Juice" fame) are at the Bowery, the Giraffes will turn the Mercury Lounge into Hipster Metal Mania, Austin's Asylum Street Spankers are at Joe's Pub, and Les Sans Culottes will do their thing at Magnetic Field. And on top of all that, Sea Wolf at Union Hall.

-Saturday May 12th will see last year's Best New Band, the Changes, head over to Brooklyn to play at beautiful Union Hall. Up the block, the Detroit Cobras will be at Southpaw.

-You have two chances to see Langhorne Slim in May: Union Pool on the 4th, and Filmore Irving on the 12th.

-Silversun Pickups do Webster Hall on the 15th.

-Wednesday May 16th is the other big night of the month. And I mean BIG. I will be at the Nokia to see Elvis Costello & The Impostors. Meanwhile, Suzanne Vega plays Joe's Pub (before a They Might Be Giants record release show), Southern Culture on the Skids and the Dansettes will be at the Merc, !!! will be at the Bowery, and Daniel Johnston will be at the High Line.

-It's not music but it's worth noting that Ricky Gervais will make his American stand-up debut as part of the High Line festival, beginning Thursday the 17th at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. He'll be there the next night, and at the Theater @ MSG on Saturday night. Is it not too much of a stretch for Bowie to make a cameo of some kind? How about Mr. Costello sticking around the night after his gig? Hey it could happen.

-One of the best reunion stories this year, The Jesus and Mary Chain, will find its way to Webster Hall on May 21st and 22nd.

-As mentioned before, the Love Me Nots will be playing Pianos on the 24th.

-The English Beat, the legendary reggae ska band, will be at Maxwell's on the 27th.

See the full calendar for the stuff I left out here.


FEEDBACK: Should This Blog Change?

I ask this for a couple reasons. I am obviously not so highly focused on progressive politics as I used to be, and also there has been, this entire time, a website called The Blue Republic. While I've gotten pretty far despite that shared name, it certainly doesn't help standing out.

-Should I keep the blog up as an archive and simply create a new one? Or should I change the domain name and risk losing people linked to the blog?
-I want to start allowing advertising on the blog. Any suggestions?
-Suggestions for a new name. Possible options: A name reflecting the more music-based focus of the blog; A name that continues to balance music and politics; A name that could be more encompassing, as I write more and more about society at large, personal anecdotes, etc etc. So far I have been playing around with some references to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (namely using "42" or "Don't Panic") and/or the Greco-Roman Gods of Mercury (a messenger), Apollo (Arts and Culture), and Athena/Minerva (Wisdom, Righteous Defense).
-Or should I just keep everything as is.


The Yarrows Have Arrived

Wheat, The Yarrows; Verona Downs
@ Mercury Lounge
New York, NY - April 29, 2007

Indeed, the Yarrows are sound better than ever. The songs have complete structure, the band can finesse it rather than meander, and as a unit, they are clicking as a complete, solid, whole. They are still hard to define and slap with a label, which is good. I'd stick 'em on a bill with the Volebeats or the Changes, if that would give some set of boundaries.
Wheat is an eclectic outfit, starting off with a hint of alt-country and taking it down various indie paths. They suffered from major sound tech problems but the goods are there.
Verona Downs are also somewhat hard to define, except under that big umbrella of "indie pop". Pretty good band but not much to say about them.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007


Because I'm Awesome!

When I first heard it, I thought it was incredibly stupid. But then I got to thinkin' can't be stupid because a stupid person wouldn't know to write such a song. Ok maybe it is stupid, but let's go with "a treatise on how today's youth is over-confident, over-esteemed, over-competitive, and just plain obnoxious". Either way, I love it too much. I played the song about 6 times yesterday.

Oh and the Dollyrots will be at the Knitting Factory on May 11th.

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Ma & Pa Kettle In Brooklyn

The Knitters;Chatham County Line
@ Luna Lounge
Brooklyn, NY - April 28, 2007

I'm not sure how it is going to be at the Gramercy during the week, but the Knitters in Brooklyn on a Saturday night should have been packed. Especially since the revamped Luna Lounge is now at a lot bigger (and well-constructed) diggs in Hipsterville East (Williamsburg). And if this was an X show, that it would be guaranteed to be sold out, packed to the rafters (if there were rafters). The marked drop-off in numbers from X to the Knitters really surprises me but hey that's more room for a hoe down.
For whatever reason, I did not truly appreciate the talent of Dave Alvin the last time I saw them. This time was completely different. Alvin, no surprise, is magnificent. The solo on "The New World" may be a highlight of my concert going life. The X songs done Knitter-style, as a whole, sound better than the non-X songs except of course for "Rock Island Line". What a beautifully intimate way to see one of the great unknown national treasures.
Openers Chatham County Line are pure - and I mean pure - bluegrass from North Carolina. You'd have no idea you were at a show headlined by members of one of the big mosh pit acts if you walked on these nice young men opening the night up. The bottom line is, you like bluegrass or you don't. If you do - and I certainly do - then this band gets the job done by far. Besides, it's not too often you get bluegrass in New York.

My only question of the night, were all the southern-accented women yuppies in attendance with their American Express tab at the bar, and some of whom were inexplicably dressed for a velvet-rope, guest-list club...are they there because they actually know about Knitters and Chatham? And if so, do they know X? These dames seemed a long way off from anything remotely related to X. But there they were, getting drunk and two-steppin'. Only in Brooklyn.

Here are the Knitters on Letterman in 2005 (the label is wrong).

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Friday, April 27, 2007

From Iqaluit to Madison Square Garden: More on the Odd Tour of the White Stripes

It slowly can hit you how the band you like isn't just some really good band or a flavor of the month by hipsters and trendsetters. Sometimes you can appreciate just how wacky, unique, strange, and distinct a band you like can be.

What is more bizarre? That the Stripes, of all the bands in the world, are playing Madison Square Garden (the WHOLE Garden it seems, not just the Theater - a difference of 18,000-plus seats). The only stop bigger than the Garden is a football stadium. And that's Rolling Stones territory. That is insane. Or what about Iqaluit? It's hard to imagine those Rolling Stones ever playing there. Maybe Bob Dylan. Maybe. But probably not.

Personally speaking, it would cost me more than $2,000 to put a whole Iqaluit trip together. It's just not going to happen. Unless I get help. Iqaluit or Bust 2007!

So how exactly did this odd, special performance-to-be come together and how is it going to be executed? Read:

The city of Iqaluit's economic development officer said he had been in talks with the White Stripes' publicist about the show.

Mike Bozzer said Thursday the band will bring its own sound technicians and equipment, but the city is connecting it with local options for security, ticket printing and other logistics.

About 500 tickets are expected to go on sale in Iqaluit by early May, and Bozzer said he hopes to keep ticket prices at less than $40.

He added that he's received interest from promoters outside Nunavut in inviting southern fans to the Iqaluit concert.

"The Gillett Entertainment Group has contacted me wanting 50 of the tickets for themselves to sell online to people in Montreal and Ottawa. So definitely those 50 people would stay here for probably a few days — stay in the hotels, eat at our restaurants, shop at our stores," he said.

So that's 50 people right there. Plus some of the locals would want to check it out. Plus as I said the day before last, the Mayor and a Polar Bear or two would probably show up.

If anyone can figure out how to get there cheap, let me know.

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I normally don't post much about non-political comedy but I make exceptions for Ricky Gervais. The funniest bloke alive is bringing his stand-up comedy to the U.S. for the first time as part of David Bowie's High Line Festival. As of this posting, there are still tickets available for the Thursday 5/17 performance.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

OK, OK, I'm a Little Excited...But....

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So maybe he hates me. So what. And so what if the last album was a little disappointing. And so what the suits look ridiculous just like the last time. So what.
The White Stripes are the main reason I like music the way I do today. It's been five year since I got into the band and ten years since the band began. It's nostalgia time. And what better way to be nostalgic than to anticipate the official debut of the new single at 12:01AM midnight on Itunes. I haven't listened to the radio leaks from XFM or Indie 103. I'll wait.

But the tour. Classic Jack White Inventive Insanity. They may be the first big time rock band to play Iqaluit, Yellowknife, and Whitehorse. I mean - seriously. Inqaluit? Who is going to attend the show? The Mayor and a Polar Bear?

Some Canadian friends have expressed displeasure at some of these dates. They remarked that some of these towns are rundown areas populated by poor natives and marked by outrageous inflation (it's 8 Canadian dollars for broccoli in Thunder Bay, one of the stops on the Stripes tour). And who is going to actually attend? But perhaps we doth protest too much lest yet the man himself bleats "take take take" again.

And then they are playing the Garden. Madison Square Garden. The whole of it. 20,000 seats last I checked. The bad news: What an un-intimate, cold, arena rock show. The good news: It should hopefully not sell out in a matter of seconds AND there is the possibility that the Dirtbombs could open up but that is pure speculation on my part.

So yeah I'm sure I'll get in big trouble now for voicing some displeasures. Nevermind the fact that I am excited about the new music and the new gig. That's irrelevant. Me, I'm just a big fat jerk who has singled out a band to hate for no good reason. Yep that's me.

But I think Meg is hot. Does that count for something?

Review of the Single Later Tonight or Tomorrow:
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Alright. Here it is:

Hello In Through The Out Door Zeppelin! The Zep-like riff is great and after a couple listens I was into that groove. Meg's drumming seems to have really taken a step up. Not that it mattered before, but this extra pep in her step really works.
But then the song takes weird turns. It's too prog rock. I loathe prog rock as a genre. If we label this prog rock, then it is certainly up there with the better prog singles like those from Rush and ELP but prog rock still, as a whole, blows the big enchilada up the ass of an ass. Anyway...
It veers off too much. 2 or 3 different styles mixed in with the Zep riff is too much for one single. The bagpipe sound (or simulation through synth) is wasted. This ain't "It's A Long Way to the Top" by Ac/Dc which I guess it somewhat strives to be in that weird Jack way of doing things.
That being said, it's a good song. 4:17 is way too long for a single but it's good enough to keep me interested and excited about the upcoming record.
Oh and the lyrics! When Jack isn't conjuring Robert Plant, he's practically rapping. And how's this for a verse?:

White Americans, what?
Nothing better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out
You're an immigrant too?

Stripes go political for maybe the second time ever (one night in concert, Jack took the already socio-economically tinged "Big 3 Killed My Baby" and turned a line about the unscrupulous automotive Big 3 into a line about Bush). A good kick in the ass to the small but annoying cadre of fans who insist that Jack's shtick about old-fashioned style and ethics was a hint at some kind of conservative political belief. Nice to put that little nagging bit of irrelevance to sleep.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Look! Up in the sky!

First off, they've discovered kryptonite and now a day later they've discovered an Earth-like planet 20 light years away. If anyone knows of a mild-mannered reporter working for their local metropolitan newspaper, check to see if he disappears at moments of danger just as some guy in a red cape and blue pajamas comes to save the day. Actually, check to see if there is a guy in a red cape and blue pajamas flying around first.


Monday, April 23, 2007

My Favorite New Band is Coming Back to New York...For Free

Maybe I'm softening up in my old age but over the last few months I have really gotten into Camera Obscura. Brooklyn Vegan reports that the band is coming to play the South Street Seaport for free on August 24th. Should be a sweet, cute, Scottish time.

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So Much For My Dirtbombs Offer

The Maxwell's gig has been canceled.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pffffffffffft...Nuts...and Actor-Rock

Apparently, I missed Norah Jones at the Theater at MSG last week, with M. Ward as an opener. I can't catch a break with old M. I was late to the second Stripes gig at Coney Island in 2005 and so I only caught his last song and realized I miss someone I should came to see on time. And I've missed him every time he's come since (though the time he played Webster Hall I don't have much regret about since I hate Webster Hall). And now I missed him with ol' NoJo there. Dag gummit.

BUT - as Pitchfork reported earlier this month - Ward is collaborating with actress Zooey Deschanel for an album. This is the new thing nowadays - independent-minded actresses turning to make independent-minded music (Scarlett Johansson, Jena Malone, Juliette Lewis). Not sure how it is all going to turn but it has to beat the crap out of the good ol' boy Hollywood rock made by Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, and so on. Even Michael Imperioli, though not an actress as much as he is an actor - because he's male, has been going around New York some with a contemporary rock band called La Dolce Vita. A bit of a snoozer but whatever, good for him. At least it ain't no Thirty Seconds to Mars. If you don't know who Thirty Seconds to Mars are, they are the band led by relatively good actor Jared Leto. In the vein of Panic at the Disco, Fallout Boy, AFI, etc. Leto's band and these others just mentioned ARE THE WORST BANDS IN THE WORLD. WORSE THAN HITLER.

But yeah - Johansson's rendition of Gershwin's "Summertime" was shockingly good. So it makes her upcoming album of Tom Waits covers seem plausibly worth anticipating rather than dreading with oddball absurd curiosity. And for the record, while it needs not be said how distractingly sexy Scarlett Johansson is to the point where it actually seems mechanically sterile, Zooey Deschanel is a candidate for Attractively Cutest Woman In The World so that if is a shameless excuse to give her a chance, so be it. That's Trillian, dammit!


Maybe Garage Rock Isn't Dead Yet

Just when it seemed time to retire the old workhorse of underground garage rock, it has been reinvigorated once again, if only by a couple bands here and there. We shall see (it also depends on what you want to define as "garage rock" too, I guess).

Any one who uses MySpace knows that you can get bombarded with band requests and there are just too many to try out (and most of them turn out to be horrible anyway) but on the rare occasions that I do check out a contact, it is even rarer that they turn out to be damn good. One of those rare times recently is one of the bands that is keeping the garage rock thing going. The Love Me Nots. They will be at Pianos on May 24th.

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The Best Band in New York?

The Bamboo Kids; The Anabolics
@ Magnetic Field
Brooklyn, NY - April 20, 2007

For a change, I am not going to run straight for the hyperbole but I will say that after years of hard work, the hard rockin', good time, but substantive outfit known as the Bamboo Kids may be the Best Band in New York. The only things that change about the band are leader Dwight Weeks' look, and their live performance. They get better each time I see them and performance-wise, they've come a long way since I saw them perform at CBGB's a few years ago.
The Anabolics are a real raw, crunchy garage band consisting of two hot babes and a very Ramones-inspired drummer. Simple, spunky, fiesty.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Dirtbombs in July, Your Attention Please

Maxwell's in Hoboken, Saturday Night the 14th of July

Part 1: Cool Opening Band

Someone cool, by my standards, step up to the plate and offer yourselves for the opening spot. Let's get ahead on this thing. Speak up and we'll contact Maxwell's. I am already making the rounds asking. Help out.

Part 2: Audience

Peoples - friends of mine. Come on down for the show. Those of you who have never heard the Dirtbombs before and are sick of my shilling, finally hear what all the fuss is about. Those who have heard and haven't been impressed, one last chance. It's a Saturday night at the best venue in the New York Metro area. I don't care if you're living in Japan (ahem), make it on out for one night. From Pennsylvania to Arizona and all points in between and beyond, it'll be worth it.

Part 3: Dinner

Part of the reason Maxwell's is so great is the food. A bona fide chow-down right next door to cheap costing but high quality rock n roll. Now here is the kicker, if you take me up on the offer for this show, I will pay for your dinner. That's right, it's on me!!!! If I can get a dozen to a hundred people, I don't care. Whoever. My treat. The meal that is. Not the gig. Book your tickets, and I'll treat you to dinner. This goes for the bands too.

Didn't you hear? I went mad. You should partake in the perks.

-Eric Koz

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Sunday, April 15, 2007


Les Sans Culottes
@ Southpaw
Brooklyn, NY - April 14, 2007

It remains one of the oddest gimmicks in the local music scene (or any music scene) - a faux French pop-punk-garage rock octet led by a guy who tries (rather successfully) to be the doppelganger of John Lennon. I don't get it but I like it. Especially because the band is so much fun musically. Their CD release party at Southpaw was certainly something to party about as the new record provides a home for the song "Les Enfants Terribles", a song that in a just world would be this coming summer's big radio hit but alas that is not the world we live in.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Rock N Roll Without The Irony

The Hard Lessons; The Subway Band
@ Pianos
New York, NY - April 12, 2007

The Hard Lessons may have single handedly (or six handedly) brought me back from the grave, rock n roll wise. They give it their all and no foolin'. They started off their short set with a spate of hard rockin' numbers recalling classic rock greats spun through the garage. They polished off the set with a series of power pop songs that tingle under your skin. They finished off the night with "Milk and Sugar" (with some unexpected Raconteurs lyrics thrown in) one of the best songs you have probably never heard but should and their take on Neil Young's "Hey Hey My My". Having just rediscovered Neil myself a little (thanks to a friend), it was a fitting end to the night. They are playing tomorrow night in Long Island City so go check 'em out.
The Subway Band spin a series of well crafted tunes in the vein of what is the latest New York thing, ethnic/world music (think Devotchka, Golgol Bordello, Beirut, etc). In this particular case, it is accordion-led Spanish-style melody. It makes for interesting twists and turns and leaves the listener at times thinking of walking through some old Mexican one-horse town or in some spoken-word bohemian adventure involving some sort of spy. I'm not joking. And no I am not on crack either. It's good stuff.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So It Goes

The culture just lost something it can never regain.


The "Williamsburg" Confession

First a link to the piece that got me started on writing this - the toxic brew that it is there is something I haven't given much thought about, even after remembering this Lopate show about the decades-old oil leak in Greenpoint. But anyway...

This is the story of Williamsburg. Actually it isn't. It's the story of "Williamsburg". It's the story of me and my relation to this Brooklyn neighborhood not just as a location but as a concept, in the context of what I knew growing up, what my experience has been in the last few years, and what it all means now. So it's a story of my life with Rock N Roll and another city - Detroit - but it's really best to just call it the story of "Williamsburg".

When I first planned on writing this story, I thought the moment I would talk about happened in 2001 or 2002. But I was wrong. According to this, it happened in 2003 which means I must have known about it sooner. That link is good because it brings up the other city in this story.

But there I was - apparently in 2003 - sitting on the can, as I usually am, reading Maxim's Blender magazine when I discover that Williamsburg is the "Most Rock N Roll City" in the USA. What? I must have thought one of two things, depending on what I knew at that point. It was probably "A bunch of trendy hipsters have made a notorious Brooklyn neighborhood the Most Rock N Roll City in the USA?". But initially I thought this was the moment I discovered Williamsburg to not be a slum at all, let alone that the hipsters made it number 1. Let's backtrack:

Growing up on the complete opposite end of Brooklyn, I had always been told by my paranoid, enclosed, and hateful family that Williamsburg and Greenpoint were two of the many bad neighborhoods in Brooklyn and we would never ever go there for any reason ever. But I recall going once in the 80's or early 90's, and it did live up to those characterizations. As self-hating Jews, we felt uncomfortable around the Hasidim that lived up there, and as a bunch of racists, my family hated the dark skinned half of the population there even more. And that's talking specifically about Williamsburg. We never ventured to Greenpoint but we thought of it as the same.

Plow ahead to the early 2000's. Very early. I helped chaperon a trip for my old high school to Greenpoint. I was stunned. It was a nice, safe, clean long time Polish neighborhood. The irony of this was that my family comes from Poland. But since this wasn't Jewish Polish, it didn't count. For all my family knew, it was a ghetto. So this was the first stunning moment.

Now let's enlarge the story. It's 2002. After doing some reading, I learn over a short period of time that there is some sort of rock revival going on in the independent music scene. I see the same bands mentioned over and over - The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Hives, The Vines. Reads cool. So I checked 'em out and except for the Vines, I got into it. Suddenly I was - music wise but never in dress or attitude - Hipster Numero Uno. This was in college down in Philadelphia where most of my friends were peaking in their rock interests, primarily stopping at the mid-70's. Some moved on to other things, some of which I latched on to (Ween) and some things I did not (thrash metal). So my thing was the new garage rock.

In addition to seeing and hearing these bands, I learn about their friends and associates and I see that there are actual little scenes going on. Scandinavia seemed the biggest scene outside the USA (England was surprisingly lacking - having only produced The Libertines and later on the gimmicky but fun band The Darkness). In the USA, two cities seemed to be popping up again and again as scenes. New York and Detroit. And specifically in New York, the Lower East Side and Williamsburg.
Hold the phone. Detroit? That run down little Rustbelt relic? There are white people still living in Detroit? And they play rock n roll? I thought Eminem and Kid Rock were all that came out of the Motor City at that point. But nope, there was a whole cadre of garage bands that the Rock World was spying on after the impressive start of the White Stripes.
Hold the phone again. Williamsburg? What the....Williamsburg? Ok, I knew Greenpoint, right next door, was not what I thought it was but Williamsburg? Hasidim and ghetto thugs? Abandoned industrial factories (perhaps not surprisingly, it's own little Rustbelt Riviera)? A band called the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were "from Brooklyn". There are rock bands from Brooklyn? Since when? Certainly not while I was there. Right...? Right...? I thought all the artists and hip people were still in Soho and Chelsea. Holy cow!

So that's how it started. Before moving back from Philadelphia (which itself has/had a small but very immobile garage rock scene), I reacquainted myself with my hometown (and if you're wondering why Detroit matters in this story at all, just hold on). I learned about a lot of these good New York bands - the Strokes, YYY, the Mooney Suzuki - and I learned that not only was the Williamsburg/Greenpoint section of Brooklyn all the trendy rage, the Lower East Side was the twin city on the other side of the river. So I guess by the time I read that Blender article, I had known but was still stunned. And for the record, I still object to the designation of "city". It's a neighborhood.

I have a love and hate affair with these current crop of hipsters. I like a lot of the look (especially on the girls, and I myself am a sucker for a good blazer with slacks and a messenger bag) but it feels forced. The exorbitant amount of money flowing underneath felt obscene and made the scene feel false. But alas this is how many scenes happen. Someone has to have the money. Back over in Detroit, no one had the money, and that's why people left - to go to places like New York.

So back to Detroit. By late 2002, early 2003 - before I even moved back to New York to have more time experiencing this music scene - I fell in love with the White Stripes. More so than any other band. This was THE band. And it was only 2 people. The ability to change the sound and style without changing the aesthetic really appealed to me. But obviously it was the ability to sound good and write good songs in each different style that really made it work. I annoyed my friends with constant talk about them. On the day Elephant came out in 2003, I made a biiiiig stink about it. I was like a little fanboy. I was a little fanboy. Sue me. It felt good to be into something like that. And I had nothing to be ashamed of. Instead of being derided by my rock snob friends, I had done them one better. Now I was the snob. But I digress.

After moving back to New York that summer, I really got into the scene. And I started making trips up to Williamsburg. I had ONE friend who liked to go up there but not for live music. He did it just to feel trendy and get drunk, and he introduced me to some good bars there and on the Lower East Side and East Village. Live music was another matter. My first gig back in NYC was actually The Sounds at Club Luxx in Williamsburg. It couldn't get any more garage hipster than that folks. I even had an Ac/Dc shirt on (remember a couple years ago when all those bastards started wearing Ac/Dc shirts? I STARTED it. Ok I probably didn't - but as an actual fan of Ac/Dc for several years running by that point, it felt like I did).
I was totally blown away by the idea of the Village Voice doing an annual festival in Coney Island. Who would have thunk it? Coney Island was (and still mostly is) dreck. But there it was. A festival just a few stops down. What a time to be alive.

So that was almost four full years ago now. A lot has happened. As per New York, the scene never died. But it shifted and changed. The Strokes' rock n roll gave way to the Yeah Yeah Yeah's art rock. Art rock gave way to dance rock (and that went national and international - and this time, the Brits DID show up to the party, Franz Ferdinand and all their sub-par peers). For a brief period, the hipsters tried to engineer a new sound "electroclash" but it failed. After dance rock, came the return of indie pop. And nowadays, it appears what would have passed for mainstream bar band rock in the 90's is now the current hipster flavor (The Hold Steady). I like some of it. I don't like some of it. That's how it is and always will be. We're almost at the point of this story, let me just switch back to Detroit for a moment because things will start to come together now.

The White Stripes began to disassociate with their hometown sometime between Elephant and 2005's Get Behind Me Satan. Artistically, aesthetically, personally - the association that Jack White had with his hometown was draining away and eventually snapped completely. Why does this matter?
Because the whole time I was reveling in the New York scene, I had increasingly become obsessed with the Detroit bands. I liked other bands and other styles - but the Motor City garage thing was tops for me. A good dozen to two dozen (maybe even more, I hope not) bands were my biggest interests. It was obscene. And the perk of being in New York was that this was the one town that most of these bands would eventually come to.
Though while I was still in Philadelphia, I went to two shows at the little venue called the Balcony that had some significance in the long run: First was Mondo Topless, Philadelphia's own garage band. I loved them and still do. But the headliner that night was an Ohio group called the Greenhornes. Now, as I was an arrgoant jerk (and still am) but knew even less then, I said to myself "who are these White Stripes ripoffs?"). But I would come to know the Greenhornes better later on. The second gig was Electric Six. I went to see this band purely on a White Stripes-related reason. Jack had sung on one of their songs. It was a great damn show and the beginning of a mostly-love affair with the Six that still goes on to this day. And to help bring in some kind of full circle story, while the band is technically still based out of Detroit, the lead singer who essentially IS Electric Six, lives in Brooklyn (or at least he did the last time I heard).

So let's bring in some context now (thank you for sticking with me this far - YOU are crazier than I am for reading this, so take heart!). The Greenhornes would play important roles later on - particularly their bass player, Jack Lawrence. The Greenhornes were openers or playing on the bills at a LOT of shows that came to the Northeast that almost always featured Detroit bands. Two of these bands were the Dirtbombs and Blanche (the aforementioned Jack Lawrence became a member of Blanche right before I got into them). About a year after the Philly shows, I got into both bands heavily, far surpassing the other Detroit bands and rivaling if not even surpassing at many times, the White Stripes.

So there was my life. A New York scenester mostly interested in bands from Detroit. But particularly those 2 bands. Over the course of 2005, I started up MySpace pages for the bands on their behalf after I schoomzed 'em at gigs. This was my hobby, my break from my work life, and I enjoyed it. And I still enjoy it.

Ironically, Williamsburg played less and less a role. It was out of the way for me, and I only had 1 friend who lived in the neighborhood (not the same friend mentioned above, that one actually became a born again Hasidic Jew). So I focused on the Lower East Side, the bigger venues in the city, and Hoboken - if only for Maxwell's, the best venue in the metro area. But this is still the story of Williamsburg.

So let me quickly dispense with something I alluded to in a previous post. For the last four years I have spent a good deal on a White Stripes messageboard. Decreasingly talking about the band (which is natural) I became friendly with many people but also stirred lots of conflict due to my combative nature as I got into other topics.

The board matters for a few reasons: It held the nexus of the Stripes fan community together, it served as a hub for fans of other bands (including the Dirtbombs and Blanche), and it also resulted in affecting my actual physical real world social life in major ways (I.E. a relationship with someone I met from the board). As per the pathetic-ness of the internet, there was lots of needless drama, and a lot of unhealthy things going on. As the Detroit "scene" fell away, I was able to look at things with a fresh perspective. People were waaaaay too obsessed with the Stripes and anything related to Jack White. And I mean anything. Thankfully, the contingent of Detroit obsessives faded and shrunk (that included me as my interests expanded again and I moved on from a lot of the growing musical inadequacy and stupid gossipy drama coming out of that town onto the board) but those that remained gave me a wake up call. People have to move on. People have to expand their lives.

As I also mentioned in that previous post things got hairy for me at the time the Raconteurs opened shop (and once again there was Jack Lawrence in the band). I had some choice, hasty words for some "band policy" regarding wristbands and a free gig. Little did I know at that moment the reality that multi-millionaire rock star Jack White spent some portion of his free time on his fans' messageboard and fought with them (namely me) over multiple things. The wristbands were apparently the last straw and I raised the ire of his nephew, who is also the damn drummer for the damn Dirtbombs, which by that point was (and still is) my favorite band. AWKWARD CITY. I alienated everyone who already had tired of my confrontational attitude and I even lost some friends along the way.

Now people move on - or at least they should, but as pointed out in that previous post, said nephew drummer hasn't let it go (either in jest or seriousness, I can't tell).

At this point, I am done with the board. Just as well. My life has changed and moved on in other ways, including related ways. Whatever anyone wanted to think of Detroit in 2002, 2003, 2004 - is long over. Only Williamsburg remains. And by that, I mean only New York City remains. And that's where I remain, hipsters and all, god bless 'em and their Chuck Taylors.

I never got to my point. I just wanted an excuse to babble an odd personal and insanely written post on this blog. Forget politics and rock reviews for once (or twice now). But if I did have a point, it would be to say that I always feel like I missed out and then I feel like I don't move on. Though the scene in New York always changes but also never really dies, I feel like I missed out on it. I should have been here before the Strokes pissed off all the old fashioned purists out there who hated anything scenester. I should have been here when the Yeah Yeah Yeah's opened up for the Dirtbombs (years before it became the other way around). I should have been here when the Dirtbombs played the Siren fest. I should have been here when the White Stripes and the Strokes played the Bowery. I should have been where the Stripes headlined four nights at the Bowery. I should have been here when the Stripes played with Loretta Lynn at the Hammerstein and in the process, introduced Blanche to the world.
I came in at just the right moment and it peaked early. The apex night was not a Dirtbombs show funny enough - and it was not DirtBlanche back in 2005). It was October 2004, a CMJ show - Blanche, Greenhornes, The Sights, the Paybacks, Holly Golightly (aha! There's some England for ya!), Mr Airplane Man, and the Shout Out Louds at the Mercury Lounge. It was a host of great bands and it was everything. It was the Lower East Side hosting Detroit, the USA at large, and Europe. That was the only period of time where I felt I was actually with it, and not still learning and not living in the past. It was perfect. And I guess I just felt like reliving that moment one last time at the end of a long, pointless post.

So yeah that was it. I rarely felt like I was with it. I didn't quite get that I hadn't figured out all of New York, or other parts of America. And I still don't quite get it right now. I feel like I am always playing catch-up when I am not getting off the closed playground. Except for that one night at least.

And oh yeah, I will most likely be at the Hard Lessons show tomorrow night. That's the band who's style, quality, and performance were at the genesis of the nephew drummer's blog that included the swipe at me that caused me to post my post then, and in some ways is why we're here now. The Hard Lessons are a Detroit band that is young, and late to the "scene". They are good kids who work hard, love what they do, and don't take no guff. At the should-have-been-over period of my schmoozing days, I met them and they are great people but we have lost touch as these things happen. I hope to go tomorrow night and cheer 'em on. Someone still has to have a good time out there, even if it means we're a little late or a little too long at the party. "Williamsburg" will still be there.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Recently I Was Thinking...

If I could host/book my own American version of the British show Later With Jools Holland, I'd book Springsteen and the Hold Steady on the same episode as a means to get them to jam on "Rosalita". Well a few nights sorta happened.


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Sunday, April 08, 2007

April 2007: Return of the Concert Calendar

After many months of financial woes (which are still far from over) and an overwhelming sense of the cozy warmth of home with wine and film, it's time to come out of hibernation with a new and improved Concert Calendar. Less shtick, more info.

April Highlights:

-The Stooges are back and while I can't say I like the new record, you know the live show is going to be insane. They are playing the recently opened United Palace Theater in Washington Heights tomorrow night, one of a crop of new larger venues that are replacing a lot of the old smaller haunts.

-If you're not over some of the trendy hipster bands, you could see the Kaiser Chiefs and the Walkmen on Thursday.

-Detroit favorites the Hard Lessons are playing Pianos on the 12th and fellow Detroiters the Gore Gore Girls are playing there on the 18th.

-The Gossip are playing a sold out show at the Knitting Factory on Saturday the 14th so unless you have tickets, go to the Les Sans Culottes record release gig at Southpaw.

-Art Brut is back playing the Bowery B on the 17th and Studio B on the 18th.

-Patti Smith is playing the Hiro Ballroom on the 18th and the Bowery Ballroom on the 24th.

-New York's best punk rock n roll band, the Bamboo Kids are at Magnetic Field on the 20th.

-It's Hipster Cred City at the NYU Kimmel Center on the 26th when the Hold Steady and the Thermals play together. But unlike a lot of other trendy acts, these two bands are actually GOOD. I dare anyone to listen to the Hold Steady's "Hot Soft Light" and not smile.

-The last weekend of the month is the highlight of the month as well. The Knitters are playing the revamped Luna Lounge in Williamsburg on Saturday night the 28th. That's right - John and Exene and DJ - as well as Mr. Dave Alvin and Johnny Ray Bartel - in an intimate setting off the beaten path in Brooklyn. It doesn't get any better than that.

-And the next night, my friends The Yarrows are playing the Mercury Lounge. One of the few times the band has played up here was at the old Luna Lounge on the Lower East Side. So a full circle weekend going on.

-And on the 30th, some guy named Lou Reed inaugurates yet another new venue, the Highline Ballroom.

Stay tuned for May when other hipster trendy bands get paired up, New York rock legends return for more, and ELVIS COSTELLO plays the Nokia (AND I'm GOING!!!!).

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Hell Up In (well north of) Harlem

Where the heck did this United Palace Theater come from? It just recently opened and in the next month, starting on Monday, it will have The Stooges, Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire, and Bjork.

And another new venue, the Highline Ballroom is getting kicked off over the next couple months with shows from Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Talib Kweli, Secret Machines, and the current chanteuse of the month Amy Winehouse.

Meanwhile, Sin-e has bit the dust, joining the long lines of departed clubs in New York's ever changing landscape. Sin-e, CBGB, and NorthSix have been replaced, more or less, by the revamped Luna Lounge, Studio B, and Europa. But the big trend seems to be to bigger theaters as the United Palace Theater and the Highline Ballroom will soon be joined by the Gramercy Theater.

And the other big New York giggage news is that Irving Plaza is being rebranded as the Filmore at Irving Plaza.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007


Ladies and Gents....Wolfmother:


Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Moment To Think About With Emo Philips

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