Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Atlas Sound @ Mercury Lounge - Sat Feb 23, 2008

Scraping Past

If you read what it says at the top of the web page, you can see that Bradford Cox was one of the reasons why I started writing about the shows I go every weekend. Since he made such a good impression on me when I saw his stellar show at Bowery Ballroom with Deerhunter, now a while ago, I will probably check out any band he decides to affiliate his name to, Atlas Sound this time, because the guy is pretty much a genius to me and he is making one of the most exciting sounds these days.

Haven't you heard Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel yet? It's one of my favorite albums this year, and live Bradford and his band even made it more interesting. The show started with Cold As Ice, one of best tracks on LTBLTWCSBCF, but somehow I didn't really like it. They started playing it very loud and I was missing the funky electronics that makes it a standout on the record. It was a good beginning, but just different from what I expected. After listening to their debut album I thought Bradford was going to give us a more relaxed ambient show, but instead we got a pretty rocky one tho still not as dense as a Deerhunter's one. Once I got in the mood for it, damn, I couldn't stop thinking once in a while: Wow.

Bradford has a killer bassist playing for him (she has her own solo project called Valet), a nerd looking guy playing the keyboards (he has his own solo project but I can't recall right now), a cute drummer, and an excellent guitarist (and very annoying) guy who goes by the name Adam (aka White Rainbow). It's easy to see they haven't been playing together for a long time, but soon they will look like it because the chemistry is evident and good energy just floats around.

I got a picture of the set list, so if you are going to see them anytime soon, this is probably what you are going to hear:
Cold As Ice
Bite Marks
Recent Bedroom
River Card
Scraping Past
Winter Vacation
By the time I heard Quarantined, another one of my favorite ones, I was completely sold to their re-interpretations. I guess that's why the best moment of the show had to be, besides Adam finally shutting up, when the band played the pretty River Card and soon after blew everybody's mind with Scraping Past. I am listening to it right now. It's that kind of song that slowly evolves and makes you anxious about wanting to let it explode already, but the peak doesn't really come as such... it tricks you and sort of fades away without letting you notice. It fucking gets addictive. [pics of the show]


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

Atlas Sound Links: Stream Let the Blind (...)MySpace, Blog, Wikipedia

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Taken By Trees @ Hiro Ballroom - Fri Feb 22, 2008

Lost and Found

Fortunately for Victoria Bergsman, aka Taken By Trees, the Hiro Ballroom was pretty empty last night. Last time I saw her on a stage was for the Peter Bjorn and John tour that stopped at Mercury Lounge where she sang the couple of lines she has on their very famous Young Folks. She barely made eye contact with the public and seemed like at any moment she was going to run away. It wasn't quite like that last night.

The show started with a video projection that made the ballroom even quieter and set a good mood for listening Victoria's beautiful voice. It was a video with lots of trees... lots, and if there was a reference different from her band telling us we were about to be taken by her trees, I guess I didn't really get it. She started with Julia.

Open Field is Taken By Trees' debut album. It is a very calmed piece of pop that I like to think it reflects perfectly how Victoria is... fragile, delicate, sad on the outside and very warm in the inside. Of course that was pretty much what she played and it sounded great at Hiro, particularly the two songs that pretty much make the album for me, Lost & Found and Open Field. Ironically those two songs were not written by Victoria, but by Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell and PB&J's Bjorn Yttling, respectively, so actually they don't really sound like they were not hers.

She was happy in her own way, shy and introspected, with the crowd and seemed like she gave us a last minute gift for how quiet we were for her. She whispered her guitarist and soon after he started playing their new song that has been hitting every blog around these days, her cover of Guns N' Roses's Sweet Child of Mine. It was definitely the best moment of the show.

She played one more song and said it was the last one, but as everybody knows, she was lying. A one song encore only by herself with her guitar was really the last song of the show, but she didn't finish it... "I am too shy, I am sorry" and she left us hanging there. I guess she really needs her band. [photos of the show]


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

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hot Chip @ Highline Ballroom - Sat Feb 02, 2008

Hold On

Hot Chip played the nice Highline Ballroom last night in anticipation of their new album Made in the Dark, coming out next week, and it couldn't have worked better. There was a lot of jumping, fisting and singing along for their infamous songs, like Over & Over and Boy From School, and now for their new songs. These guys seriously need to record an album live, cause they do it like no other.

Hot Chip started the show with Shake a Fist, one of the songs on the new album that they have been playing for a long time, even when promoting The Warning. They started strong, hitting every possible object around. After Boy From School an early highlight of the show came for me: Hold On. It's one of my favorite songs on Made in the Dark and live sounded as good as I wanted to hear it. Alexis and Joe looked a bit surprised seeing that a good portion of the in front crowd already knew the lyrics, but we are in 2008 and albums leak every week and stuff you know. They know it too and smiled.

There is a new Hot Chip live if you haven't noticed. They are playing more ballads than before and I hope they bring back more of their quirkiness to the live setting, like they did last night with Wrestlers. It was time to show off... Alexis took off his Chinese shirt and gave us a good surprise:

I always enjoy the most the interaction between Alexis and Joe, and it soon came in the third song with Wrestlers. You see them and couldn't agree more that they were meant to make music together. Alexis and his funny lines about going out on Mondays to watch wrestlers, with Joe's sort of rapping, will make you laugh. Man, they used to call themselves Sophocles and Ulysses!

The synthesized Touch Too Much sounded great and was followed by their trademark Over & Over, which I am sure we don't need to talk anymore about how crazy people go when they hear it live. The Beautiful We Are Looking for a Lot Of Love let us have a break right after and they continued with Out at the Pictures. Such a great beginning for the new alum was the song I though they were going to use to open the show, but it was rather used to bring back the dancing everybody loves at their shows. Have you hear the chorus? Hot Chip is the only band I can hear barking like dogs and me not feeling like an asshole for following them. The only one.

The big surprise of the night for me came next, Bendable Poseable. Such a crazy song. I still think the beginning of Made in the Dark is a bit too heavy, but with time it softens, like with The Warning's opener Careful. Bendable Poseable is fourth in that beginning and its crazy beats and sounds along the song live sounded like what I needed, like a crazy rythm to follow to heat up the night.

Ready for the Floor, their most recent single was great. Damn, the whole concert ok? Just in case I haven't insisted enough about it. Then they dissapeared. Well, most of them but Al who didn't notice (or pretended?) not seeing their bandmates had left the stage. According to their set list they were supposed to play Don't Dance to close the set, but who knows why they didn't. They were into the show, the crowd was into them, as always, and the talking can be seen now everywhere about how great the show introducing the new album turned out to be.

Something the band want everybody to realize is that they are not only Over & Over kind of song writers, and by playing a Made in the Dark full of guitar noise as their first song for the encore we were reminded of that, but they finally left the stage after making everybody sweat once again with the energetic No Fit State. They were supposed to play my fave One Pure Thought as part of their encore, but again don't know why they didn't.

I hope they keep the soft revitalized songs coming because it was their interesting slow music (Coming On Strong, namely) what got me into them and will never let me go. And with shows like last night's I am being nicely forced to stay with them. [photos of the show]


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

Hot Chip Links: Stream Made in the Dark, Stream DJ-Kicks, Stream The Warning, Stream Coming on Strong, Official Website, YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Joanna Newsom @ BAM - Fry Jan 31, 2008


Joanna Newsom took the stage a couple of minutes after she was supposed to and I was already impressed. Dressed elegant in black she walked to her harp and everybody couldn't stop clapping as if the concert was already over. Although I did know Joanna was going to play with a full orchestra, plus her band, I didn't know she was going to play Ys in its entirety from beginning to end, you know, like if it were a classic. She is right tho... Ys is already a classic.

She started then with Emily. It hadn't been one minute into the song when her special voice hit me hard and it made me had goose bumps. I wasn't the only one. Everybody around me was pretty much holding their breath and watering their eyes amazed of how beautiful she was already pulling it off and thinking that was just the beginning. Nobody was embarrassed. She paused before starting with Monkey & Bear, let us have some air, talked a little bit with her tiny voice and proceeded to keep giving us more of her Newsomeness, telling us the story about her darling Ursula.

Monkey & Bear might be my favorite Joanna Newsom's song. It was the first song I heard by her, the first one I hated, and later the first one that made me go deep into her music. Nowadays it is to me like a poem made a song... made a beautiful song. It opened my ears to listen to more music I didn't care at all before and those things are just priceless to me. Indeed, it was the whole Ys as an album that made that effect on me. I do love most of Ys. It is Only Skin, and about two thirds of that song, that are kind of boring, or more precisely not as excellent as the rest of the songs. If she would have worked more on that song I am sure this album would be one of my all time favorites. Hell, what am I saying? It is already.

The best moment of the show had to be Sawdust & Diamonds when Joanna plays her harp solo, without any orchestra but only her voice, and once again she sent us all out of this planet to take a look at the stars and bring us back again, all in 9 minutes and 55 seconds.

After that trip, Only Skin came and finally Cosmia closed the set. Of course, right after she played her last note the whole theater exploded in claps congratulating the hour she kindly had shared with us and we (I for sure) will never forget.

I was ready to go home and sleepiness took over my head, but the concert wasn't over yet. She came back after some good 15 or 20 minutes in a pink dress to enchant us again with some older and newer songs than the ones on Ys, but at least in my case they didn't work much. I fall sleep. But I am sure I had dreams... I swear I saw Emily and Ursula dancing with Monkey & Bear, by the trees full of Sawdust & Diamonds. [crappy photos of the show][better photos of the show]


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