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

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Hello Brooklyn

September 28, 2009

Brooklyn Bridge by GeoffYesterday, I read a review of a show from my favorite live show reviewer (Jenny B Loves You). There was a line that stood out to me about how MTV had hijacked the associative power of music. That is, instead of remembering the way you first heard a song, you remember the manufactured outfits and dance moves of a music video. Even worse, almost necessarily a music video that the artist had no part in devising.

I discovered this track from a DJ mix tape coming out called Brooklyn Soul featuring Jay-Z over Marvin Gaye classics. Even though it wasn’t the first time I heard it, the image that comes to mind is riding away from the Phoenix show in Central Park Saturday. Funny how driving has so much associative power.

Key Brooklyn references:
“But my bed’s in the sky/While I flatten your bush”

Jay-Z (featuring Lil Wayne and Marvin Gaye) – Hello Brooklyn

Silvia

September 21, 2009

by unknownSave for a the regular synth flourishes, Miike Snow carefully treads the line between electronic and indie pop. Everyone seems to be pretty obsessed with the Mark Ronson remix of “Animal,” which to me is not nearly as great as “Silvia.” Either way though these guys write a great hook. The atmospheric synths along with a piano-line that plays like a bass-line fit cooly under the vocals. The even kick drum verses carry you so that you feel like you’re moving, making it ideal for bus-riding, park-walking, freeway-driving underwater commutes.

Miike Snow – Silvia

Miike Snow – Animal (Mark Ronson Remix)

Nine, Nine, Oh, Nine

September 9, 2009

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite things that come in 9’s. Pretty straightforward stuff. Follow along below, hover your mouse to see details.

The 9 best number 9 tracks.

Inside and Out/ Ziggy Stardust/ Beast of Burden/ Shelter From the Storm/ Angeles/ You Never Give Me Your Money/ Maps/ Sunday Morning/ Twilight

The 9 best songs featuring “9” in the title or album.

Sunshine/Revolution 9/1979/ 1991/1999/The Perfect Drug/ M79/Coconut Skins/99 Luftballons

And finally, THE 9 BEST SONGS OF 2009 (so far).

Wait for it….. ok click me now!

This may be the final mixtape of the season–it’s become instantly cooler since August ended and suddenly, the hot weather complaining is turning into hot weather nostalgia. It will soon be time to say goodbye to jorts, t-shirts and mini skirts, so it’s important that we get another playlist in before you start hibernating with Bon Iver and that Fleet Foxes record that everyone went gaga over. Alas, do not worry, this mix will help you hang on to summer at least through Halloween.

Let’s hear it for New York.

Jay-Z (featuring Alicia Keys) – Empire State of Mind
Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up
Michael Jackson (Telepopmusik Remix) – Remember the Time
Crystal Castles – Vanished
The xx – Heart Skipped a Beat
Camera Obscura – The Sweetest Thing
St Vincent – The Party
Cat Power – Fool
Broken Social Scene – I’m Still Your
Feist – Major Label Debut (live)


From the 9/29 soundtrack of Where The Wild Things Are comes “All Is Love,” the first single from Karen O & The Kids. It became available for download just a couple of days ago on iTunes and the soundtrack features other original tracks by Karen O, or so says the cover. This track was penned with the help of Nick Zinner and exemplifies the rapture of the Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” in the second trailer (here). It seems that Karen O and Spike Jonze (WTWTA director) were by all accounts an item at the time of her collaboration with Spike’s brother, Squeak E. Clean, on the Adidas commercial known as “Hello Tomorrow.” Perhaps this is the backstory that got her to write songs for a soundtrack, something she has never done before.

Jump to read the rest.

Duets and The xx

August 24, 2009

flickrimg_39422 by unknown

What I like about The xx are the complementary voices of the group’s two singers. Each is nice by itself, but this is a case of better-together-than-apart. The arrangements are simple and nothing detracts from the harmony of the vocals. Although I usually feel that duets and collabs should be reserved for rap records, it works here and it doesn’t get old or feel tacky. Even though they both sing in similar ranges and with similar vocal inflection, the hushed delivery is intimate and yet intense.

The xx – Crystalised
The xx – Islands

I’m excited to hear the rest of xx, which is out physically on October 20 (although it’s already available for download at Amazon). “Islands” is my favorite track by the group, but I think that “Crystalised” makes a better introduction. I don’t know what the deal is with the name, but it makes it impossible to search them online. I also regret missing them just last week (twice).

And in the spirit of duets, here are a couple more of my favorites:

Feist – The Simple Story (with Jane Birkin)

Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood – Some Velvet Morning

UPDATE: Pitchfork has just posted an interview with The xx here, where you can learn more about them.