Saturday, October 20, 2007

Curtains On does CMJ 2007: Saturday Looks Good to Me / Islands @ R-Bar, Cool Kids / M.I.A. @ Terminal 5, Band of Horses @ Gramercy Theatre - 10/19/07

Bamboo Banga

My energy is almost gone. It gets tougher and tougher to appreciate bands that don't really give it back to me. I went to the Brooklyn Vegan free shows in the late afternoon at R-Bar to see Islands before going to M.I.A., but I was forced to see Saturday Looks Good to Me first cause they were running late. They were not really good. I mean, they were fine, but not really anything to remember. They have two singers, a guy and a girl, and if you hear them you can tell me if you agree that the girl should sing more... that was the only real interesting sound I picked up from them. For the rest, they were the kind of band not really transmitting any sort of energy to me and instead taking it away. It's then when you wonder if you are going to too many shows and getting tired for no reason...

.. but then Islands came on to take that wonder away... it's never too many shows. I know of Islands because of a good album they released in 2006, Return to the Sea. I sometimes listened to it, by recommendation, although it didn't really click on me, but now after seeing them live and hearing the great stuff they have ready for their new album I am looking forward to keep checking them out. I am not good for accents but while seeing them, I don't know why, I though they had to be Canadian... Wikipedia is confirming so. Maybe because they sounded to me like a way better Hot Hot Heat. An energetic front man, funny guys in the violins and keyboards, good saxophone and an interesting guest dropping verses for a song pumped me up and got me right on track to keep up with the day:

It was my first time at the new venue Terminal 5. It might be as big as Roseland Ballroom, which I try to avoid, but it doesn't feel like it. The venue has three floors and the view from each floor, from the balconies, is not bad at all. Sound was also good enough for me, so in general no complains from this side... maybe the location, in the middle of nowhere (56th St and almost the Hudson river). I saw the Cool Kids from the balconies opening for M.I.A.. I can count with my hand fingers the number of hip hop acts I've enjoyed live since I became a concert goer and these guys are not one of them. I dig their recorded stuff, but live they were merely OK. Still this video (and song) kicks ass...

And then, after painful 45 minutes, the place exploded with Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, aka M.I.A..Last time I missed out with M.I.A. tickets for her Studio B show I regretted it for long, so when I saw that she was going to play CMJ I didn't care the show was going to be at a bigger venue. Kala is one of my contenders for album of the year and last night M.I.A. held the guns up for it. M.I.A.'s music is so diverse and has so many influences that is no wonder why the place was packed with real people: Black people, Hispanos, Chineses, Skaters, Suites, White people, gays, lesbians, and straights. It felt like a world party, and in fact I think that M.I.A. is pretty much like a modern world music ready to take over.

After a funny speech on video from an Asian guy talking about destroying the government, that was way too long, the set started with the song it had to start with: Bamboo Banga. That track opens Kala and it is such a banger that it was the perfect choice to make everybody meltdown together right from the beginning, and it worked... the floor bounced for the first time out of too many I didn't count. M.I.A. came out, after Cherry, her backup singer, looking gorgeous in one of her crazy looking outfits. She soon wore her symbolic hat... ready to command the party ship:

We got all the hits, and by that I mean all of her songs, plus some nice samplings. From Arular we had Pull Up the People, Bucky Done Gun, Amazon, 10 Dollar, Sunshowers, and of course the one everybody goes crazy for, including myself, Galang. Kala sounded strong in the house too with Bamboo Banga, Bird Flu, Boyz, Jimmy, Hussel (with Afrikan Boy), $20 and Paper Planes (did she play World Town and XR2? I'm not sure). Besides covering Pixies' Where Is My Mind, M.I.A. this time nicely sampled the classic Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams right before 10 Dollar and the ultra-classic New Order's Blue Monday to introduce Jimmy and new comer Lil Mama's Lip Gloss right before Galang. I was sold.

I planned not to write much stuff this week cause it's already demanding just going to so many shows but I can't stop with this one. Bird Flu was fantastic. She invited everybody on stage, something I knew it was going to happen, but what I didn't know is that I was going to be so pumped up to want to make my way to the front and swing it for her on stage like forty some more. When she finished with Galang everybody was soaked and though we were ready to call it a night, a couple more songs didn't hurt. In fact, the encore ruled. She did Amazon and it was kind of funny... she only sang Helloooo this is M.I.A.... would you please come and get me and never Helloooo this is M.I.A.... it's ok if you forgot me... because there's no way someone could that night.


That was supposed to be my CMJ Day 4, but M.I.A. gave me so much energy that I was ready to keep hitting shows. We tried A Place to Bury Strangers but got to Galapagos too late and then we headed to Band of Horses playing a show for CMJ badge holders and guest list only. We don't have a badge, we were not on the guest list, but we made it in anyway... yes, we rule.

I saw Band of Horses playing one of the best shows I've seen being played by them. Ben Bridwell was on top with his voice as he hadn't been before and look surprisingly in a good mood given that that most of the attendees were a bunch of assholes. I am sorry but I don't understand all you CMJ holders, as music fans, how you go to these exclusive shows to waste the feet square you are occupying with your presence there... please go to the bar across the street and chat with your buddies there! I bet it would be less annoying for you (and hence for me, as a music fan) not to hear the band meanwhile. Jeez. Anyway, Band Of Horses was excellent and the perfect way of calming down the night to send us back home to dream.

Ok. I am ready for CMJ Day 5, the last one. [photos of the show]

Links: Stream M.I.A. - Kala, Stream Band of Horses - Everything All the Time

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