Saturday, January 17, 2009

winter concert wrap-up.

I've been doing tons of cleaning in honor of the new year. I collected about 10 large shopping bags full of clothes to donate, along with pulling together a pile of books and random stuff to sell on eBay (I made over $400!!). After a deep cleaning of the place, it's looking much more in order. Next task: Organizing my computer. My computer is only a few months old, but it's amazing how much stuff I've accumulated, from work and just random personal stuff. I started last night by sorting through the piles of digital pictures I have in one large folder and came across a number of photos from concerts I went to between September and December 2008 and wanted to share. I feel compelled to share because, for some reason, almost all of the concerts were put on by artists I've loved since high school (or in a couple cases, junior high!). My descriptions will be short because my old-lady head can't remember lots of details anymore. : )

First up, a small selection from the All Points West festival, in fair New Jersey. It was the second year of the festival, and pretty great as far as festivals go:
Sia was the first act we managed to catch. I love a girl who has the eggs to go pants-less in public. Her, her lack of pants, adorable Aussie accent, and gorgeous voice were a great way to start the festivities.
We were too busy eating our way through the food court to catch all of the Kings of Leon set (my appetite is a force to be reckoned with, even if I love a band!). First, the food was the best festival food I've eaten (very vegetarian friendly). Second, I look forward to seeking KoL later this month at Madison Square Garden ---- this venue was just too busy and warm for me to really get into their set.
The Roots rocked it. Their set was way too short, but I still loved it.
Le sigh. I love Chan Marshall/Cat Power. My massive girl crush caused me to swoon for just about all of the one hour set.
The Secret Machines' set wasn't that great. I used it as an excuse to eat a funnel cake and take a nap.
The key to lasting through a long festival like this was lots of water, deep-fried treats and nap breaks. Preferably all three, in that order within a short time-frame.
A screen shot from the Ben Harper set. The set was way too short --- and we were stuck in the back, so it wasn't that great. But check out the later pics I have from the recent Ben Harper show that Nick, my friend Effi and I caught in a teeny-tiny venue last month!
The Jack Johnson set was exactly what I expected: Laid-back surfer-boy music better suited to a smaller venue. I do enjoy listening to his music on occasion, but his music doesn't do much for me in this type of environment.

Now these guys know how to fill a huge venue with amazing sound. Radiohead just killed it. I've seen them a number of times at this point, and this show measured up to my high expectations. There was something especially great about hearing them perform with the lights of NYC and Lady Liberty as the backdrop. The setting fit the mood of the show, that's for sure. I'm already looking forward to my next opportunity to see these guys again.

There were a couple of months where Radio City Music Hall hosted some of my favorite musicians from the junior high/high school era. I love that venue: I can drink while sitting and watching a show. Plus I don't even have to strain my eyes because all of the seats in the place are pretty awesome. It appeals to the aging music fan that I'm becoming.
Lady Alanis rocked it. First, her voice is sounding stronger than ever. Second, the girl looks amazing (take that, Scarlett Johansson/Ryan Reynolds). I have no shame in admitting that for 90 minutes, I treated a concert like a sing-along (which is high on my list of don'ts in terms of proper concert etiquette). I shed a tear inside when she did "Everything," and brought out my inner teenage angst when it came time for "You Outta Know." Nan and I squealed like schoolgirls between songs. It was fantastic.

Two more Radio City Music Hall shows, both were throw-backs to my high school/early college days.
First up: Death Cab for Cutie. I completely forgot to take pictures during the show, so the best I could do was a camera phone picture from outside of the venue. Regardless of the fact that the crowd made me feel not a day younger than 65 years old, and disregarding the band's huge post-O.C. exposure, I still had a great time. I especially enjoyed the show because I came across my old 1997 cassette release of "You Can Play These Songs With Chords" (re-released in 2002) just a week before the show. I swear that 1997 wasn't that long ago, but after seeing the kids that night . . . . I suppose time just flies when you're having fun.

Maxwell remains terribly dreamy & his music impossibly hot (even Nick had to admit it once the show was over!).

A week or so later, Nick and I caught one of Beck's sold-out shows at the United Palace Theater. MGMT opened, and what I could catch of their set wasn't bad. Apparently the kids love MGMT. I thought they were fun, but not really a band I'm interested in following too much.
The show was fun and the set list included some great Beck classics. However, I couldn't help but think that the poor guy seemed exhausted or (even worse!) bored. There was an energy that was lacking that night; an energy I've seen in most of his other concerts.

The venue, however, remains beautiful.

United Palace Theater is one of my favorite venues. On the down side, it can get very hot and stuffy (but what concert venue doesn't). On the up side, the place is just beautiful --- just look at the pictures! Even the ceiling is amazing.
To wrap-up a pretty busy concert season, Nick and I were lucky to get tickets to a Relentless Seven show for us and a friend of mine. Relentless Seven is Ben Harper's side project with some guys that played on his last album. The show was at Kenny's Castaways, which is a bar in the West Village that doesn't hold more than 200 folks tops (its claim to fame, btw: Springsteen's first NYC venue). We had a great view of the show, right near the stage.
Our friend was a sweaty mess. I'm not gonna lie, he was a fine-looking sweaty mess. The man knows how to rock a mic and some fierce tattoos.
They played a number of entertaining covers. My favorite was "Purple Rain."
The guitars the guys ran through were also sweet.

Given how crazy my schedule was over those months, I can't believe I managed to make time for all of those shows --- I'm proud! I guess that's what sleep-deprivation will get a girl: 14+ hour days at the office plus good tunes. I hope I continue to make time for shows this year!

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