Sunday, September 30, 2007

Animal Collective @ Webster Hall - Sep 30, 2007

I want to walk around with you

I really like the new direction Animal Collective is taking for their music: more electronic and somehow passively aggressive. With an introduction to the show as a long set of techno music with some spectacular lights, playing #1 as their first song, and then playing a couple of new songs even newer than their Strawberry Jams, including the ridiculously good Bearhug (aka Walk Around), the statement made by the band was clear: we have a new sound. A new sound for a continuously evolving band.

Avey Tare is for me the protagonist of Strawberry Jam and the actual face of the Collective right now. Live, yesterday, in tracks like Peacebone and Unsolved Mysteries, both songs of their new album, the change in his voice from screaming and shouting to singing softly came off simply spectacular. He seriously needs to keep doing it, and with Panda Bear echoing under his deliver, like for all those new songs that probably will be on an album in a couple of years, we are set to keep getting amazing music to our ears in the coming time.

The old songs have been translated to the new language: not much guitar, not much drums and in general not many actual instruments, but lots of pedals and samplers exquisitely doing their thing (and whatever Geologist do). Who Could Win a Rabbit and Leaf House were the perfect examples of this translation.

But the show was at Webster Hall. Something bad had to happen. A venue that charges 8 dollars for a beer had to be cursed and if it wasn't, then from now on it will be, because it made this Animal Collective show, the one that was supposed to be memorable, into an incomplete and somehow frustrating set. My favorite song on the Jam is called Fireworks and I think it is a tune that celebrates, anything, but last night precisely it worked the opposite way.

My smile and excitement disappeared once Avey Tare decided to stop, while the new Essplode was being added in the middle of the Fireworks, because the bass was too strong and it was killing the rest of sounds. From the audience I didn't feel the bass was excessively strong more than three times, but Avey must have been feeling it way more than we were to decide to stop the song like that. I was totally with him in his disappointment of not being able to give us what their quality standards usually are, but it sucked... much. I hate you Webster Hall.

The Animals tried to continue and played the new live favorite Brother Sport, one that sometimes sounds like a Colombian cumbia, and Grace, both newer than the new stuff. Right after this, Panda and Avey whispered some words to each other and it looked like they made the decision of finishing the show earlier than planned. Fuck. They played Leaf House, went basckstage and never came back for an encore. [photos of the show]

P.S> Do you have an extra ticket for tonight's show (Monday)? I need to see them again.


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

Animal Collective Links: Stream Strawberry Jam, Stream Animal Collective in Concert (Washington D.C.), Stream Feels, MySpace, Domino Records, YouTube, Pitchfork interviews the Collective.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bjork @ Madison Square Garden - Sep 24, 2007

This time I am gonna keep it to myself... This time I am gonna keep it all to myself

In short words: Bjork's show at MSG was pure Voltage. In not-so-short words:
  • Bjork started the fire (literally) with Earth Intruders. The brass section came on stage first, marching, and Bjork followed wearing a golden dress like the queen of a tribu. That's what she is... The Queen.

  • I finally got to hear Hunter live! The brass section sounded beautiful under Bjork's powerful voice. Last time I saw her at Radio City Music Hall she did not play this song. She played it at one of the United Palace shows, so I was jealous. I got my revenge.
  • Pagan Poetry gotta be one of Bjork's favorite songs of her own catalog because she really means that song when she sings it, and that, automatically, makes it one of my favorites ever. Check out her video... you will understand. She made everybody in the garden feel what it's like to let an amazing voice make love to your ears.

  • If you have heard I See Who You Are then you've heard a watery-sounding cord instrument that makes that song such a beautiful one. Min Xiao-Fen was invited (she's is probably part of Bjork's crew on tour) to do her thing and got lots of clapping of the very nice people attending the show. This song live is an example of how great Bjork can make sound a non modern instrument with a very modern one in a very smooth way. She is a genius.
  • I love Homogenic, over all Bjork albums, and at Radio City she didn't play much from it. This time she knew I was pretty much first row tho... she played Unravel (I already mentioned Hunter and more are coming!) and I almost cry. Seriously.
  • Medulla is the most inaccessible album Bjork has put out and Pleasure Is All Mine is not the easiest one to listen to on it. Why do you keep playing that song live Bjork? Why? I heard that night a tighter set list than the previous time I saw her and if she replaces that song by a more appropiate one it could have been even more fantastic.

  • A Bjork show in the city, for this tour and hopefully from now on, means that Antony Hegarty guests to sing one-to-one with the goddess. The Dull Flame of Desire was one more time a peak in the show and I was not the only one waiting for that moment again. I am sure Antony has won lots of new fans joining Bjork for two of the sweetest songs on Volta, because his voice and Bjork's were meant to be together. You just need to see them singing to each other... the energy bouncing from one to the other one will find its way to you and will fill you. Thank you! I was.
  • More Homogenic, more pleasure for me. Joga was next and Bjork took us up to the stars.
  • She likes Medulla. It was a very conceptual album for her (and hence everybody else) and something she needed to do after seeing the voice as her most powerful instrument. Now, here she did absolutely right choosing Desired Constellation as part of the show... with all those new machines she is using to simulate sounds, this song, that sounds like if you were floating among million of stars (where Joga took us!), was ace.

  • Time to shake things up. Army of Me, a highlight of Post, although missing energy at the beginning, made us jump for the first time in the night. Lasers and its reflections traveled all over the garden reminding us how we used to have fun at those obscure raves years ago (well, and nowadays too).
  • Innocence, the track Timbaland helped to make the beats for was next.
  • And then I Miss You, another great track from Post, made people move their bodies a bit more. The brass section sounded awesome here again... those trumpets coming in once in a while.

  • Second peak of the show (for me) came next. Before last night, Cover Me was a pretty normal track on Post, but after last night I will never ignore it again. Not after Bjork looked at my eyes and told me:
    I am going hunting for mysteries... Cover meeeeee. I am going to proooove the impooossible maaaayy eexiiiiiiist. This is really daangeroouus... Cover meeeee.
    I will never forget.
  • Then, Wanderlust, one of the best tracks on Volta (there aren't too many singles, but as an album it perfectly flows) gave me peak number 3. She is married and have two kids, but... would you re-marry me? I would be happy to wanderlust with you (and your kids and husband... I don't care).
  • The dance party continued with Hyperballad, another song I love that I hadn't heard live. All Bjork fans know those lyrics and she let us sing them to her. She was so happy, and so we were. The song was played a little bit faster and that turned us on again. Jumping and fisting, jumping and hugging was all I see around myself. People smiling... awesome times. And then, the last song...

  • Pluto. Goddamn, one more Homogenic track. The ex-planet was remembered with everybody dancing and making their bodies explode, like the lyrics say, promising to be brand new tomorrow... a little bit tired, but brand new.

  • ----------

  • Of course, there was an encore, and longer than usual with her. Everybody knew that the last song we were going to hear that night was the excellent Declare Independence, from Volta, but she surprised us all playing Oceania, the best track on Medulla together with Who Is It and Triumph of the Heart, meaning she wasn't going to play a one song encore.
  • She brought all her people around her and for Declare Independence and so not only us but everybody on stage, including girls holding big trombones and trumpets, started dancing. Everybody was so pumped that if a war was called in her name we all would have followed. For almost two hours we did what she wanted us to: raised our flags (fists) and protected our language (music). Declare independence people!

  • P.S> Klaxons was OK. I need to see them at a smaller place. Now, I went to their after party, sneaked in to the VIP area because I saw guess who? Bjork! She was hanging out with her friends, I stared at her for half an hour or so willing to talk to her, but never did, and had like seven vodka-tonics meanwhile for free! As I said before, I will never forget. To finish the awesomeness Spank Rock played for free, Diplo was in the house mixing and the place, Rebel, was destroyed every time he played a M.I.A. song. [photos of the show]


    Were you at the show? How did you like it?

    Bjork links: Stream Volta, Stream her show at United Palace (5/5/07), Official Website, Wikipedia, MySpace, YouTube (Recommended)

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    The Chemical Brothers @ Hammerstein Ballroom - Sep 21, 2007

    Brothers gonna work it out

    I had a bet against myself. I bet that the Chemical Brothers' show was going to be better than the past Daft Punk's show at Coney Island, and I won! Of course.

    After seeing my first Chemical show almost two years ago I promised I was always going to see them live as long as they were coming to the town I was living in (or around). Their show setup hasn't changed much but their visuals and music have. The Brothers use high-quality technology for putting one of the best live experiences for electronic music and it has been like that since ten years ago, at least, so no reason to miss it.

    Tripping visuals including funny/scary mimes, cute butterflies, great dancers and 3-D excursions inside churches and tunnels, make everybody go crazy while Tom and Ed are busy pushing buttons and mixing their music live. This is not your regular rave with a couple of annoying lasers and strobes (don't take me wrong, I appreciate lasers and strobes, but not the whole night)... this is the ultimate live experience of the big beat manifesto.

    Now, the set of course has changed. I am not a fan of their new album We Are the Night, just a couple of songs, and they played lots of stuff from there. Do It Again, as in the album, sounded particularly weak for being a Chemical Brothers track, but fortunately was mixed in a brilliant way on top of Galvanize and Get Yourself High, quite a good deal for old school fans and new comers to the Chemical music. We Are the Night and Saturate were a completely different story, they deserved to be played by themselves with the great old classics the Brothers chose for the mix. That part of the set my eyes were closed traveling back in time to when I used to play loud all my Chemical Brothers albums on a Saturday afternoon (or was it Thursday?), before going out to local parties to lose my mind to the x-pleasure... I didn't need any this time.

    The first part of the trip started with the Brothers asking us slowly if there was No Path to Follow, and then exploded like a Burst Generator with some serious images like those you see when seeing through a kaleidoscope. Galvanize followed with that mime one can see in the video (bah, and in the picture up there), insisting to Get Yourself High and Do It Again (I am sure everybody did), and then they pumped us even more with a couple of lines of a song everybody knows...
    Hey Girls, Hey Boys, Superstar DJs, Here we go!
    Damn and we went.

    One of the best moments of the show was about to come. There's a particularly good track on the new album called All Rights Reversed, a collaboration with Klaxons, which is not the kind of song the Brothers would play at a gig, but its beat was so smoothly altered to sound right with Hey Boy, Hey Girl that I couldn't stop clapping and looking around to make sure I wasn't the only one noticing that. But that was not really the peak... that was just the beginning. It happened when they went Out of Control. The led nets behind their decks became police officers holding guns almost break dancing... we seriously were out of control. The simplest and most insane images I have ever seen, ever (my chemical bro recorded some of these images at the Chemical gig he went... please feel the bass!). To finish killing us, Star Guitar came in... god, you could have felt it through your pores... everybody was jumping, fists in the air and too much excitement nobody could believe. If I had been on drugs I think I couldn't have stand it, it had been too much. And they knew it... and slowed down.

    The second part started and it couldn't have been in a more pleasant way... literally they made us Surface to Air. That song is one more of those great last tracks albums should come with. It was the one track that made me appreciate Push the Button more and made me play it again and again until I fall in love with the rest. Surface to Air lets you have some rest and slowly builds a soft beat from scratch taking you to the right place where the Brothers need to have you for then striking you one more time with a killer song as the new Saturate, one of their few really good songs on We Are the Night. That was peak number 2, a new song, Saturate, and a couple of old songs, Surface to Air and Believe, melted into timeless perfection. Their leds were now little colorful balls exploding at the right time, exactly when the recorded drums sounded more than the bass, more than anything else, and exactly when you were wondering what the hell was going to happen to them. In that moment I knew I had to open some space in my mind for a new classic to be remembered in an already impressive catalog.

    This has been a long post and I haven't even talked about peak number 3, the best one, so I am going to skip some details. My Brothers played the rocking Setting Sun and closed the set claiming what they completely deserved: We Are the Night. And here it is where peak number 3 comes... for the encore. Golden Path, the collaboration they did with The Flaming Lips, was the first song chosen to close this terrific night. It made sense... they started asking if there was No Path to Follow but totally there was... and it was even fucking golden! To finish us, the most amazing tetra of classic (a gift to old fans) break beat songs killed us all: The Sunshine Underground, Chemical Beats (which it is pretty much their first underground hit from their even more awesome debut album Exit Planet Dust), Leave Home (the one that says "brothers gonna work it out") and the insane Block rocking Beats, which I guess I don't need to insist how important it is for electronic modern music. There might have played even one more song, but I don't remember... my mind was already gone.

    I wish you like them and you live in a place where they tour, because if that's the case then you shouldn't be reading this shit, but writing your own... they make you do this kind of things. [photos of the show]


    Were you at the show? How did you like it?

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Black Lips @ Bowery Ballroom - Sep 18, 2007


    I was prepared to have the kind of show where you stare at the band and barely move your head to their tunes. Damn Black Lips didn't let me do it... they played a set that made me jump and dance around and sweat the gin and tonics I had been having all night.

    Black Lips music is all about having fun. The garage rock influences, the screaming, the funny lyrics and contagious sound, like if you were in the middle of a fair, will embrace you, will make you hug your friends and will become the soundtrack to a pretty fun night. I mean, I haven't had this much fun in rock shows in a long time! What does have the Bowery ballroom that makes me feel I am seeing the next best thing most of the times I see a band there?

    My favorites in the band have always been Cole and Jared. They happen to be the founders of the band (with Ben Eberbaugh, who died a couple of years after forming the band) and the ones that seem to be the wildest and craziest when it comes to having the show. Jared was missing his old school Ray-ban glasses I am used to see on him and Cole, well, I love that kid, he was wearing quite a hat and just looking at him, man, you just wanna invite him a drink.

    The band itself is very particular, or they pretend to be. Ian, one of the guitarists, looked pretty fucked up in a good way. He might have played his guitar well but what he did better tonight along the set was to send us some funny storms from the stage like if he was a protoss blizzard attacking us, poor terrans. Did you ever play StarCraft? You know what I'm talking about then.

    I only own their Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo and their new album Good Bad Not Evil, but that was pretty much what they played tonight, plus a cover and a new or very old song I hadn't heard before. I tried to keep track of the set list... I tried. I sort of took notes, but sweating and dancing didn't really help... this is what I got: They started with I Saw A Ghost (Lean) and their awesome O Katrina! just like in their new album to continue with Boomerang, and Hippie, Hippie, Hoorah. How Do You Tell A Chil That Someone Has Died was next and let us have some rest while still encouraging us to move drunkly from side to side. Then it came Dirty Hands, Cold Hands, Buried Alive and a new/old song I don't know. One of my favorite songs on Good Bad Not Evil is Lock and Key and one of my favorite ones from their live album is Not A Problem (which is sang by the drummer!), and both were played one after the other one... I couldn't stop myself of going to the front to be part of the pog. Damn Black Lips, I f*cking like you quite a lot now. After that I pretty much forgot I was taking notes and let myself enjoy the show even more than I had. I remember hearing Bad Kids, M.I.A. and Fairy Stories among that fantastical noise the Black Lips are. Unfortunately they gave us no encore and the lights went on...

    The past couple of weeks I had been having an affair with the Black Lips music, but after tonight, this has become a serious relationship. [photos of the show]


    Were you at the show? How did you like it?

    Black Lips' Links: Stream Good Bad Not Evil & Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo, Youtube (Recommended), Black Lips' Middle East Summer Vacation Part 1 and Part 2, MySpace, Vice Records, Wikipedia, Blog

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ Gramercy Theater - Sep 11, 2007

    Young Blood

    I went to this show, in the middle of my school week, only to check if Clap Your Hands Say Yeah still deserved my money and attention. It was important to me because I really like their first album and just like OK their new one, Some Loud Thunder. I wanted to see if those new songs had the charming the old ones had on me the first time I heard them live.

    Cause that's how it worked for me last time actually. I had the pleasure of listening to their self-titled album in a live setting before I did on record, and I loved it (I still do), but with their second one it didn't happen like that, apparently all CYHSY fans live in the NYC area and left me with no ticket last time they played Mercury Lounge. So that's why I wanted to hear the new songs live and I am glad I did.

    Cred: Tomiffy

    CYHSY is still a wonderful band. A cool singer dressed like I did when I was 17, an energetic member, Robbie Guertin, who doesn't stop dancing and playing whatever he finds on his way, a couple of tense looking siblings playing guitar and bass, and an openly Guns N' Roses fan as their drummer. So just with their characters and without spending much money, they put on quite a show.

    Cred: Tomiffy

    We were wondering what song they were going to start with. Last time I saw them, they obviously started with their Clap Your Hands!, but this time it wasn't clear. They begun with In This Home On Ice. I like when bands start playing their old hits at the beginning of their shows... it's like giving a "if you only came for our old hits... cool, after this you can now go home" kind of thing and then non very interested fans leave some more space and air to dance, but it didn't really happen, they just chose one of their old songs to start... it's just that most of their old ones are old hits!

    Without talking they quickly continued with the new ones Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles In The Air And Burning? and new live favorite Satan Said Dance. Here I started feeling what I mentioned already. I wasn't really liking Satan on the album, but live it was so energetic that you couldn't stop half jumping or moving your head, and those weird noises they added for that song at the studio, they now just made sense. In general, not only for this song, doesn't it take time, or a live show, or the appropriate mood, for some CYHSY songs to make sense? It's like if their songs where behind some fog they want you to go through. I find that interesting and with the rewards I usually get from that process with them, after a show like last night's, I will keep doing it.

    Did they play next Love Song No. 7 or Emily Jean Stock? Those are a couple of my favorite ones on their new record. You know? I think they played Emily Jean Stock. I guess I am just confused because then they played six consecutive songs that blew me away like if it was my first CYHSY show and made everybody sang in unison: Is This Love? / Over and Over Again (Lost and Found) / Gimme Some Salt / The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth / Details of the War / Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away. If the show had finished right there, this would have been one of the best shows I had seen this year, but I would have felt also that CYHSY hadn't done anything else since 2005.

    Not everything was perfect though. There was one song, Details of the War, which sounded just like if you take away all of its ornaments and play it sort of fast with an unpleasant U2 vibe. Thank god (and really to their great taste) it was only that song, the rest were very well interpreted and re-interpreted to my ears.

    The show finished with my all time favorite CYHSY song, Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood, which by the way, should win a prize for being one of those perfect songs to close an album (and a show). I don't know why but I feel so close to Alec Ounsworth while singing the chorus of that song
    They Are Child Stars, Child Stars, Child Stars...
    until my voice cannot keep working anymore.

    Encore? Sure. CYHSY now has two albums and encore times are properly up for their shows. They gave us Underwater and Heavy Metal. Although I would have changed the order of the songs a little bit and added the great closing album track Five Easy Pieces, this was a tighter set than last time I saw them. But as always, I might be full of shit... it's not me who has a band, who has a damn special voice, and put out two great indie rock albums. We'll see what happens next... I am looking forward. [photos of the show]


    Were you at the show? How did you like it?

    Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Links: Official Website, MySpace, Live on NPR

    Sunday, September 2, 2007

    Deerhunter @ South Street Seaport - Aug 31, 2007

    I was the sound

    I hope Friday's show was a proof for everybody that Deerhunter's strongest is their music and why so they are one of the best new bands around (around my head at least!).

    Bradford was serious (you never know with him) when he said he wanted to check if his fans were looking after them because of their music or just because of their very publicized eccentricities. He did not wear any woman dress nor became a mic-fallating mad man on stage, but simply guided his four member band (since three days ago) playing on guitar the delicate noises that their spectacular Cryptograms and Fluorescent Grey are.

    Actually they started with two new songs, Calvary Scars and White Out, which was funny to me, because I read the guy who just left the band was complaining they had been playing the same set for more than a year supporting their new album and EP. Although Calvary Scars was an excellent start, White Out caught my attention because not only I was hearing Bradford in the vocals but also, for the first time, guitarist Locket Pundt was singing. Judging for how good the songs were, Deerhunter has no intentions of slowing down anyhow for Microcastle, which should come out by the end of winter 2008, so we can keep expecting more awesomeness from them.

    Then it was all familiar for whoever has been following this band for a bit now. Cryptograms, Hazel St., Dr. Glass, and Wash Off paved the way for the best song of the concert, Fluorescent Grey. It sounded different than the EP version. Damn, it sounded even better! I might have been too excited for how ridiculous that song was that I think I heard Intro and Octet next, but I am not sure about that. Last, they played the only single they have released, Strange Lights.

    Not being the best Deerhunter show I have seen, I think this concert was important. It shuts whoever said, in the NYC area, that Deerhunter was only about being weird and crazy, and in fact it was a confirmation for some of my friends (as I am sure it was for way more people) that they are worth our time. Next time I am going to make sure I see them again in an indoors venue, for a 21+ show and with not much light... I have the idea it makes them even better. Go Deerhunter! Go! [photos of the show]


    Were you at the show? How did you like it?