Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Shins - Live at Terminal 5, NYC 10/23/07

I love The Shins. I never get sick of their albums and I find their style unique and easy to listen to in just about any setting. I've tried to see them live a few times but have just never made it until a few weeks ago. This was not only my first Shins show, but my first trip to the new Terminal 5 venue in Midtown West. A little bit hard to get to, its warehouse feel was pretty cool and it definitely had an older feel (even thought it's brand new).

I had always heard that the Shins played great live shows and I really enjoyed their performance. The audience wasn't totally into the concert, since their sound really doesn't lend itself well to a raucous atmosphere anyways, but I liked everything I heard. They played all the songs I wanted to hear and surprised me with what has become their staple cover on this tour, Pink Floyd's "Breathe."

After the show, I read a ton of reviews online about how people have ripped their live shows - forgetting words to "New Slang" (my friends saw their second show the next night and confirmed this as well), humming lyrics, and giving lackluster performances all around. To be honest, I didn't see any of this and I really did find the show to be entertaining. My advice, check 'em out. If they're on like they were for my show, awesome. If not, then don't go see them again.

Check out a few videos from the night to see for yourself. The first one is "Sleeping Lessons" which also leads off their latest album Wincing the Night Away. A perfect opening song, its music video is also a thing of beauty. The second video is "Australia," my favorite Shins song in their collection. The video's audio is not so great, but the video is better than "Sleeping Lessons." Enjoy!

Sleeping Lessons:


The Shins - Live at Terminal 5
1. Sleeping Lessons
2. Kissing the Lipless
3. Mine's Not A High Horse
4. When I Goosestep
5. Turn A Square
6. Girl Sailor
7. A Comet Appears
8. Sea Legs
9. Girl Inform Me
10. Saint Simon
11. Gone for Good
12. New Slang
13. Australia
14. Turn on Me
15. Know Your Onion!
16. Pam Berry
17. Phantom Limb

1. Breathe *Pink Floyd cover*
2. The Past and Pending
3. Caring Is Creepy
4. So Says I

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I hang out with lead guitarists...no big deal

First, a little back story: One of the perks of hosting trivia nights at the Pourhouse on Thursdays is that I get to create my own playlists for the music each week. A few months ago, I played "Aftermath" by one of my favorite new bands, the Alternate Routes. As soon as the song started my friend Joe, and trivia regular, started sprinting up to the front, asking me if I picked out the song. As it turns out, Eric Donnelly (far right), lead guitarist and vocalist for the band, is one of Joe's best friends.So when I met up with Joe to go to the Pourhouse for some food and a few beers last night, I was introduced to Eric who was hanging out for the night. After Joe explained that I was a big fan, I tried to act very nonchalant about the whole deal, but it wasn't long before I was asking questions about the band. I should also note that while we were ordering pitchers of Bud Light for the table, Eric quietly drank Jameson on the rocks. Well played.

They're winding down their tour for the holidays but will be coming back to NYC to play a show in Gramercy at the same place I saw Mason Jennings play. Turns out Eric's a fan of Mason - score one for Eric. As we got talking, he asked me what music I listen to, which caught me off guard. I recommended The National, who he had not heard of yet - score one for Little D.

I was actually taken aback that he didn't know them. I always figured all musicians know the obscure music scene better than any of us (even though the National is far from obscure anymore) but it made sense that someone could not be as deep into new music if they're on the road all the time and trying to write new music themselves.

Anyways, Eric was a quiet, cool guy and he said he's going to put Joe and me on the guest list for the show in December. Sweet.

Check out four of their best songs on their myspace page, including the previously mentioned "Aftermath."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem - Live at Randall's Island, NYC 10/6/07

Little Gun has finally gotten to me. I saw Arcade Fire live and let me tell you something: they enjoy playing music. A lot. The energy that came out of their live show was something you just have to experience for yourself.

Before I delve into Arcade Fire's performance, I'll give a brief overview of LCD Soundsystem's opening act. I missed all but the last half of LCD's set as it took a while to get to the island, and the Texas-Okalahoma game was still too close to leave. While we may have missed some of their stuff, what I saw was just great. The one song I wanted to hear, "All My Friends," was fantastic. Here's a video of their performance of "Yeah," one of the night's highlight songs:

I didn't expect the look of a middle-aged high school science teacher when I saw LCD, but they put on a great performance. I really enjoyed everything they played, even though I'm way less-versed in their catalog.

Aracade Fire, on the other hand, I know quite well. Their performance, while entertaining and enthusiastic, was a little disappointing to me. For one, I could not stop looking at Régine Chassagne and her annoying, over dramatic posturing. Now don't get me wrong, I think she's great and adds a lot to the band, but she also takes away a lot of the attention with her Bjork-like antics and distracting activities. For example, her performance on "Haiti" was incredible, but then she had to go and run around stage whenever she wasn't playing an instrument or singing. I have to admit, even when she was singing, she would turn her head and look sideways at the audience with this ridiculous smirk...I know, I'm crazy, but it drove me absolutely nuts.

However, her husband and lead member of the band, Win Butler, was amazing. He announced that this would be the last time they play here for a few years so I'm going to guess this was a pretty epic show for them. His stage presence and command of the band was felt throughout the audience as he cycled through favorite after favorite (although, what's not a favorite off their first two albums?). To finish this great night, they played the crowd pleaser "Wake Up," which was as amazing as I had hoped. Someone caught it with some pretty good audio, so enjoy:

Overall, it was a performance to remember and one of the most beautiful nights of the year in New York City. Here's to hoping it won't be years until Arcade Fire returns.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - Live at Madison Square Garden, NYC 10/18/07

The word of the day is expectations.

I make this the word of the day because this is all I had going into this show. Expectations. You see, this was the last concert I wanted to see before I die. Seriously, the only one left. I saw Clapton. I saw U2. I saw Pearl Jam. This was it. And you know what? It didn't disappoint. Pretty amazing for the only concert I could ever want to see. This has been a quest of mine for years. I'd heard of the legendary live Bruce shows, but I wanted to make sure I saw him with the entire E Street Band the first time I saw him. This led to years of waiting - I skipped the Seeger Sessions tour, the Devils and Dust tour, and countless other shows...waiting.

And finally Magic came along. The CD itself blew me away and I knew seeing Bruce live was now or possibly never at the rate I was going. After finagling tickets through multiple mutual friends, I got two seats at MSG - one for myself and one for Jack the Rabbit who made the trek down for the night.

The night was amazing. He opened with "Radio Nowhere" which elevated the song's credibility for me after hearing it live. I had a few requests, a few far reaches, and one demand. Overall, I couldn't have been happier with the set list. My one demand, "Born to Run" was dutifully played in the encore, leading to frenzied dancing, fist pumps, and screaming by JTR and myself. I would say the only surprise non-play was "Thunder Road." I really expected him to play it, but he may have played it the night before.

That disappointment fell by the wayside as he surprised the hell out of JTR and me when he broke into "Jungleland" out of a serene "Meeting Across the River." Easily one of my all-time favorite songs, "Jungleland" was totally unexpected since it's such a lengthy song, but nevertheless, Bruce and Clarence dove right in and played the hell out of it. Easily the highlight of the night for me. Other great songs: "She's the One," "The Promised Land," "Badlands," and "American Land" (pattern?). Some may already know my affinity for Celtic music so ending the night with an Irish song I could drink to all night was the perfect way to cap it all off.

Again, this was my first Bruce experience live and I knew all the hype that went along with it, raising my expectations to a new level. Yet by the end of the show, I was more than satisfied. I still don't understand how a 58 year old man can run around stage screaming all night, night after night, and still bring the energy and passion that he exudes. I was exhausted and hoarse by the end of the night and I was stuck dancing within my 2 sq. ft. seat area. Bruce was all over the place, howling at the crowd and increasing the intensity of the show.

Everything I wanted at this show was there. From the homo-erotic doubling up of Bruce and Van Zandt on the same mic to Clarence blasting away on his horn in his oh-so-cool manor, I was so happy.

(Side note: old people need to let loose. This just made me so sad when Bruce was rocking out and half the crowd was only standing because they couldn't see over the people in front of them if they sat. Sing! Dance! Go crazy! It's The Boss for chrissakes! See Pearl Jam if you want some crowd involvement...)

To validate my love for this show, I'll let you decide for yourself what you missed out on. Below is the entire concert, provided so nicely by our friends at nyctaper.com. Please visit their site and catch some other great shows. This show was originally lossless and I know it's a no-no, but for us Mac users and for the good of everyone else out there, I converted the files to .aiff for easier use. Enjoy!

*songs currently uploading...check back soon!*

**Nevermind, these files are huge...go to nyctaper and grab them for yourself in .flac format...there are free programs out there for converting them if you want to, just google it**

The Boss is Back

(note: these were my thoughts immediately after buying the new Bruce Springsteen album, Magic. I'm posting this post prior to my review of his amazing concert)


Well it's been less than 24 hours since I purchased Bruce's new CD with the E Street Band, Magic, and I can already tell you I'm impressed.

Very impressed.

There isn't a weak track on the album, starting strong and finishing smooth, reminiscent of Born to Run, the ultimate Bruce album in my opinion.

From the opening track and single, "Radio Nowhere," we are immediately drenched in classic Bruce sound. His growling voice signals a return to the original E Street style of thumping drums and wailing guitars, something missing for the last 20-odd years.

Now don't get me wrong, I loved The Rising, but it didn't bring me back to good old Bruce; for me, it was like Clapton's Pilgrim - an enjoyable project, but not exactly what I expect to hear when throwing on Springsteen (save for "The Rising" and "Lonesome Day").

So far, my favorite tracks have to be the hauntingly beautiful "Gypsy Biker" and "Livin' in the Future," a political rocker and a standout for Clarence. The harmonica on "Gypsy Biker" immediately sends me to a lost highway at night somewhere in Nebraska or Wyoming. Awesome.

"Girls in Their Summer Clothes" is a fun one and something that will no doubt be a great addition to Bruce's live repertoire. The one song I'm not a big fan of is "Your Own Worst Enemy." It's bearable, but not something that I would ever play outside of listening to the album straight through. The vocals just die on me and it's frankly a little annoying, but I wouldn't say it's a bad song (or course, this is about as close as I can come to ragging on a Bruce song).

Also, make sure to catch "Last to Die." An emotionally frantic tune that pierces your soul, this is exactly the type of song I had hoped to hear on this album. Well played Bruce.

I'm not going to post any songs from this CD since you should buy it anyways...if you don't buy this CD, you're letting the terrorists win. So ante up folks and purchase what you've been waiting for: a legendary album by one of today's last great legends.