PIANOS SATURDAY CMJ 2009

October 26, 2009

DSC_1316LR Beast
Very happy that we showed up early for Beast (and the free bloody marys), because they were awesome. They had great energy for a noon-thirty show, and their lead singer sounded like Edith Piaf plus Amy Winehouse (yeah I know that’s become a negative connotation, but face it–she has great pipes). Hear my favorite song of theirs:

Beast – “Satan” (myspace)

Another great set came from Silverlake darling Local Natives. I was kind of too busy enjoying their set to get any good shots, but check them out. November 17th they play Bowery Ballroom, and on the 29th they play the Varsity in Minneapolis. Listen to them.

Local Natives – “Wide Eyes” (myspace)

Select photos follow.

The Saturday gallery

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Without question The XX are the most hyped band of the season. They played the Music Hall of Williamsburg last night to an audience of professional photographers. That’s what happens when five shows in less than the week that is CMJ doesn’t offer enough good chances to take a picture of the group. In all fairness to them, this was their most legitimate venue of the week. UPDATE: The XX played a show mere hours later at the Tribeca Grand Hotel around 1:30AM.

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PIANOS THURSDAY CMJ 2009

October 24, 2009

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Show of the day for me was Duchess Says. Hear “Black Flag” or visit their myspace.

Click on for the Thursday gallery…

by GeoffI got on the train not sure I would have a ticket. At worst I expected I’d be standing around outside asking for extras, but for once it seemed like everything just worked out. I didn’t have to spend like the Federal Reserve to get a ticket, and I got in for a fraction of the $200-asking prices on Cragslist. For a while I thought the show might not exist except for in some mystical PR bubble, after all why on earth would a band that just played Radio City put on a show in 500-capacity Williamsburg? At some point during the set, Karen O asked how many people were “on the list.” I didn’t know what she meant, I thought that may have been stage speak for “cool,” but then she said “it should be about half of you.” So this show was basically made for FOB’s: friends of the band! Her dad and sister were there, so the reason tickets kept being released randomly over the last two weeks was because they were being released from the band’s list. So in short, the ticket sales were a total farce. This morning I heard that some tickets were actually available at the door–for a “sold out” show.

Karen O does not cease to amaze. She brings the Madison Square Garden show to the small clubs and the music fans, the kind of shows that you can usually only get from Britney, Beyonce and U2. It’s obvious that fans take their cue from her: when she’s out of sight changing capes or putting on masks and jackets the crowd feels lost. There is no Karen O off-night, she brings it every time. Doing a hundred shows in a year will make you seem like you don’t care or like one crowd isn’t especially different from another, but you could never tell that this was KO’s third show in a week. For “Hysteric” she held the mic to everyone in the first row, one at a time, so that they could sing. Who else has so much stage presence that she can command that kind of patience from a crowd of screaming fans? Karen O can make you feel like she’s talking to only you; in the way that Santa Claus or strippers can make a person feel like they’re in the only lap in the world.

by GeoffThe best thing about the MHOW is how intimate it is: it’s half the size of Webster Hall and an even smaller fraction of the size of Terminal 5. The show was similar to the one I saw in May in Minneapolis, being that the material was almost identical, but it still felt incredibly genuine and improvised. Brian Chase was smiling ear-to-ear from start to finish, and after “Maps” in the encore they took requests. The set featured more songs from their EP’s Machine and Isis than usual, I actually think they played a song I didn’t know (“Our Time”)–that doesn’t normally happen. You can see the set list here (at BV). At the end of the show Nick Zinner threw all of his guitar picks into the crowd, and I somehow came away with one of each kind, the proof follows below.

Read on for photos and notes

It started with a bag of bananas. I was on my way home last night with a new sprig of bananas when I got an email saying I had a ticket to Bat For Lashes. So I ate three of them, threw away the fourth and hopped a train to Union Square.

Read on…

Chucks is happy to be reporting back to you on its first ever visit to All Points West. Weather and an unfavorable Saturday lineup caused us to miss the first two days, but we were there for the third day. The early-afternoon rain let up just in time for the gates to open at about 4 but great weather didn’t make climbing in and out of the mud swamps any easier. We did our fair share of running from stage to stage, treading through the ubiquitous quicksand and altogether becoming so dirty that I am still washing the dirt from my skin. I’m completely serious; my feet are the shade of mud and I’ve taken two showers since Sunday.
See the photos and reviews below…


Everybody loves Emily Haines.

Metric played Wednesday at Terminal 5 in NYC, with Sebastien Grainger and Smile Smile. And yes, Emily was there. I like her too, but I wasn’t professing my love in between songs like every guy and girl within shouting distance. They sounded great live, as I now expect any decent band to do, but I was a little disappointed with the Fantasies-heavy set.

A few of the songs on their new album sound the same, and then act like they’ve got big hooks, and yet they don’t. The best examples are “Front Row” and “Stadium Love.” The lyrics to the former are simple and uninspiring, and the song doesn’t seem to go anywhere. “Stadium Love,” which they closed with, after Emily explained in great detail what the title meant, doesn’t have the kind of groove you expect from a song written so obviously for dancing. In case you were wondering, Ms. Haines claims to have more than enough love to fill Terminal 5, and by extension–a stadium. Hence the name, but the rest of her rant made no sense; it involved cheetahs, giant cheeseburgers and other safari characters.

They spent a lot of time on stage, but I felt that they too often went into 4-minute bridges that made me forget which song we were hearing. When they finally came out the other end of the bridge I didn’t know if it was the start or finish of a new song. Emily also went on a few nonsensical rants, mostly about striving for things, memories, love and not letting the man keep you down. At times she really seemed more like an emcee than an indie-rock songstress. The rage-against-the-machine lyrics of Old World Underground and Live It Out were never more apparent than when she yelled them. Don’t get me wrong, she’s lovely, but most people will only tell you how they love her awkward and endearing dance moves.

Before the encore I was relieved that there weren’t anymore Fantasies tracks to play, so we would probably get “Combat Baby” and maybe my favorite: “Calculation Theme.” “Dead Disco” and “Monster Hospital” were the highlights of the set, and it was sad to not hear many favorites from Old World Underground.

Smile Smile was a good example of a band with a nice sound but super-lame drum kits. They plugged in an iPod with drums so that they could play over it, and I’m sure this is done a lot by really small groups but it makes otherwise interesting musicians seem banal. The weak drum kit was even more apparent when Sebastien Grainger played, and their drummer actually hit umm… you know, drums. I recognized a song of theirs, but I was really more impressed with their drummer than most of their set.

I feel that much of Fantasies is overproduced; this is most apparent in the two singles “Help, I’m Alive” and “Gimme Sympathy.” I had heard an acoustic version of the latter from a SPIN magazine recording during Coachella 2008, which had better lyrics and a better guitar harmony in the chorus (see it here). And the final version of “Help, I’m Alive” is vacuous; the dramatic lyrics are made boring through repetition and there’s too many sounds distracting you from the main melodic vocals. Here’s my favorite Metric song, ever:

Metric – Calculation Theme

The borrowed photos…