Archive for Musichall of Williamsburg

The Weakerthans & AA Bondy @ Musichall of Williamsburg. Friday April 11th, 2008.

Posted in music, shows, Tom with tags , , , , , , , on April 14, 2008 by criticalreviews

So this show is a really longtime coming for me. I have been a fan of the Weakerthans since Fallow, and consistently followed them through their various releases. KLK and I even had tickets to see them once at the Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, NC (four years ago) but couldn’t make the 5 hour drive due to illness. I am always a little nervous seeing bands that I have listened to for a longtime, but have unfortunately missed live time and time again.

I did get to see Propagandhi on the Todays Empires, Tomorrows Ashes tour, but this was after John K. Samson left the band. I love Propagandhi, but when Samson left the band it marked two very important things: 1) the creation of The Weakerthans as a band and no longer just a side project, and 2) Propagandi getting heavier and faster as well as the end of the Less Talk More Rock(one of my favorite punk rock albums ever) era (as well as the permanent break up of I Spy, another great Canadian punk band whose singer, Tod, filled Sampson’s spot in Propagandhi). Overall I think this change was a good thing, because it let Samson develop his own voice, and his wonderful poetic lyrics (but at the same time let some of the things I really love about Propagandhi die). While some of the punk rock feelings remain lyrically, and somewhat musically, the Weakerthans are very much a rock band and they do it well.

We were hesitant about going to the show (the nervous anxious feeling of seeing a band you like…and the fear of disappointment), and almost decided to sell our tickets outside…but in the end we ended up going in…and it turned out to be really enjoyable, except for the opening act.

AA Bondy was the second of two opening acts (we didn’t get there in time for Christine Fellows). Bondy was a plays slightly whiny upbeat acoustic rock (solo), and seemed like he wanted to be a mix between Conner Oberst and Ryan Adams. Singing about emotions, relationships, and drugs just didn’t quite do it for me. One of his songs started out with the line “Sweet Sweet Cocaine,” and while this might work for some other artists to me it just came off sounding cheesy. I realize that Bondy may have been in an influential band previously, but I can’t say that I was moved at all by his set the other night. If the show hadn’t have been sold out we probably would have showed up right before the Weakerthans went on, but got there early to get a decent view of the band and had to endure Bondy’s set.

The Weakerthans came on around 11pm, and played for an hour and a half including two encores. We watched from the balcony, and The Weakerthans played a really tight set. While many bands today have a cohesive look, The Weakerthans are all individuals and presented to me just a bunch of friends in a band doing their thing. The four piece was joined on stage by Christine Fellows (playing keyboard and guitar), and overall had a very unpretentious vibe (as expected). I really don’t think of The Weakerthans as a punk band (but I guess I used to), and while there was very little moshing there was quite a bit of finger pointing and dancing. Overall a really fun show. They surprisingly only played a handful of songs from the newest album, Reunion Tour, while playing fan favorites from all of the previous albums. While I haven’t gotten super into Reunion Tour I can appreciate it, but I thought it was wonderful to see them playing songs that were released so many years ago. One or two off Fallow (hurrah for “Confessions of a Futon-Revolutionist”)and several off of Left and Leaving. And a whole bunch of Reconstruction Site (I was really happy to hear “Plea to a cat named Virtue” and “Our Retired Explorer (Dines With Michel Foucault In Paris, 1961)”).

Samson was actually really cute…he came out on stage before the second encore by himself and took pictures of the sold out crowd. This show really brought me back. We stayed until the end of the show, and headed out into the night with really positive feeling. I kept hearing people yell out “Anchorless,” but I guess John needs some back up to do that one live (see below). We left the show feeling so good that we ended up drinking until 5am….cheers to the Weakerthans and good friends!


Listen to “Plea from a cat named Virtue” off of Reconstruction Site:

While searching for photos of the show on flickr I came across one with the caption:

“JD joins JKS for a very impromptu duet version of “Anchorless”, as viewed through Weakerthans drummer Jason Tait’s camera LCD screen. “

Although the video isn’t the best it is worth posting: John K. Samson and John Darnielle playing “Anchorless” (thanks Lalitree!!!)

Weakerthans photo is from Anti-Records’ website


The Dirty Projectors and No Kids @ The Musichall of Williamsburg. Wednesday April 9th, 2008.

Posted in music, shows, Tom with tags , , on April 10, 2008 by criticalreviews

So there is controversy over whether or not this show was sold out…all I know was that I didn’t have to wait in line, and there was a huge line at the ticket window(it was really packed inside too, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if they stopped letting people in). I was pretty excited about this show, but even though The Dirty Projectors can fill a space this big, I’m not sure if it is the best thing for the band or the crowd.

First up was No Kids, and they went on right around 9pm. They were playing to a much less attentive crowd (than the other night) to the point where it was really hard to block out peoples conversations. I noticed a huge difference in No Kids between the show last night, and the Dodos show last Sunday. Last night I feel that the inattentive crowd had an a negative effect on the band. Nick seemed far less comfortable, and his dancing was almost non-existent (this made me a little sad). But none the less the band sounded great despite the talking, and Nick’s voice was as sexy as ever. Their set lasted only 45mins, but I was happy to see “The Beaches All Closed” live twice in one week. I wish the crowd would have been a little more receptive, but then again I think No Kids are a slightly odd pairing with the Dirty Projectors. I really hope No Kids come back to NYC…I dig them.

So I unfortunately had little experience with The Dirty Projectors previous work before Rise Above. Rise Above is the Dave Longstreth’s re-interpretation of Black Flag’s Damaged. He turns the seminal punk rock album into a groundbreaking, slightly abstract, experimental work of psychedelic rock. This vision that Longstreth fulfilled is not the complete album, but 10 of the 15 original Black Flag songs (it omits TV Party, Damaged I, Damaged II, Life and Pain, and Padded Cell), that were written almost entirely from Longstreth’s memory of the album (I wish I remembered Black Flag in the way that he does, but at least now I can share in his vision each time I listen to the record). I did pick up one of their older records at the show, an EP put about by Marriage Records called New Attitudes, and I plan on grabbing a copy of the Getty Address too.

I know the Dirty Projectors have a history of playing more unconventional spaces in the past (Death By Audio , and the Whitney for example), but while they played an amazing set, and sounded great …they seemed really detached from the crowd. It was almost like they were playing in a room by themselves. They rocked out for over an hour and all, but it just felt a bit sterile to me. As if the band was just in a different place (well they were up on the stage)…I don’t know what the other venues were like that the band had been playing in but MHOW is really big. The band has a never ending rotation of musicians, but they were playing as a four piece: Dave Longstreth (guitar and vocals), Brian Mcomber (drums), Amber Coffman (guitar and vocals), and Angel Deradoorian (bass and vocals). Their set up was Coffman on the right and Deradoorian on the Left…with Longstreth in the middle and Mcomber directly behind him. The stage symmetry was was really interesting with the women on the sides, and the men in the middle. While the all played wonderfully Longstreth steals the show as expected. He is just an intense figure, and even though the show felt sterile he was really interesting to watch. He was mainly focused on the music, and addressed the crowd very little. I also particularly took note of Mcomber who was a really impressive drummer and performer. This is really the first show at MHOW that I felt that the venue itself directly contributed to the show not being as good as it could have been (while we have fond memories of North Six, I really do feel that MHOW was put together really nicely). Again this band I think would have been all the more intense if the crowd just seemed a little closer (while people danced, and got into, I felt that the band might not have been able to tell). While I enjoyed every minute of the show, I long to see both the Projectors and No Kids again in a dirtier environment.


The Dirty Projectors playing some songs off of Rise Above in Washington Square Park:

Watch the Dirty Projectors playing “Rise Above”on NPR.

No Kids photo from Tomlab.

Dirty Projectors photo from Jonny Leather’s flickr.


The Mountain Goats and The Moaners @ Music Hall of Williamsburg. Wednesday March 19th, 2008

Posted in music, shows, Tom with tags , , , , , , on March 25, 2008 by criticalreviews

Ok, so for now there is going to be a barrage of concert reviews from me, but I can’t help it. I have kinda made a pact with myself to review every concert that I attend…so far this has been going really well, and we will see if I can keep up:

Today: Glorytellers at Cake Shop
Wednesday: Apache Beat, Team Robspierre, Health, and Crystal Castles at Mercury Lounge
Saturday: The Convocation of… at Cake Shop (unfortunately canceled)
Monday: Health, Ghengis Tron, and High Places @ Knitting Factory

I guess what I am trying to say is excuse the music heaviness of my posting over the next couple weeks (I will change it up music wise too with a mailorder review and a packaging/record review. I also have a couple restaurant and bar reviews coming as well).

But now back to the Mountain Goats show.

The Moaners have been opening for the Goats on this tour, and they were actually pretty fun to watch. They are a two piece band, with a guitarist and a drummer. These two women have a (at least one) record out on Yep Rock, and played a really nice set. Their music is kinda bluesy, and with a slight nod to Sleater-Kinney. Ok, I know comparing a girl group to Sleater-Kinney is kinda a cop out, but they actually had a couple songs that really reminded me of them (earlier stuff, you know Dig Me Out, ect). I also think they might be better at a smaller show…the singer seemed kinda shy with the large crowd…she was wearing really big sunglasses the whole show. Despite the little bit of shyness The Moaners rocked pretty hard, and although this is another one of those bands that I don’t think I would listen to at home they were a good opening act (which up until recently has been few and far between).

So I bought us tickets to the MHOW show, and I did this mainly because I hate Webster Hall so much. But after a review by the Village Voice blog of the Webster Hall show I know I made the right decision…ok now I don’t put much faith in the Voice, but it was clear by the set that John played at MHOW that he had read it, and wanted to give his fans a different experience.

To our surprise John walked out on stage all by himself. I expected to see Peter Hughes follow, but John just strapped on his guitar and began to play. He proceeded to give the sold out crowd at MHOW an almost 40 min long solo set, and then called for the rest of the band to come out. During this solo set John played from pretty much the entire catologue For this tour the Goats have added a third member, a drummer, Jon Wurster. The Goats have been using a drummer on the records since Tallahassee, and it was interesting to see it live.

Before the show started we (KLK and I) were discussing our history with the Mountain Goats(seeing him at least 10 times in the past five years…all of these shows were in NC, NYC, and SC…including some shows that I booked). I have to say that John has never disappointed me. I will admit that that I have had a little bit of a hard time getting into the past couple albums, but that is not because I don’t like them…it is just because the older four track recordings used to be on my stereo non-stop for so many years (I initally had a hard time getting into everything after All Hail West Texas, but now We Shall All Be Healed ranks in my favorite albums). This show really put John’s full body of work into perspective for me…it tied the older songs that I consider classics in with the newer. This show really impressed me, and any one who has been skeptical of the Goats experimentation should just listen to “Lovecraft in Brooklyn” about ten times in a row and it should click (damn that song is good, and my favorite off the new album).

The full band portion of the set ended up being about 40 minutes as well…and there were even two encores. They only played three or four songs off of Heritic Pride which was pretty surprising, but I’ll take old Mountain Goats anyday. So now I am going to be a hater…the first encore was a cop out where they played “No Children” and “Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton”. I know these are favorites, and I even really like these songs, but just by how John talked about them made me believe that he was really tired of playing them. During “No Children” he didn’t even sing into the microphone, or really at all, he just let the crowd sing. This is sad to me because I can remember the days when we would see him screaming so loud into the mic during this song that I thought his eyes were going to pop out. The passion just doesn’t seem to be there any more…almost like he is just going through the motions. “BEDMBOOD” was a little better, but these didn’t compared to their cover of “House Guest” by Nothing Painted Blue (see the video below…not from this show, but still really good).

This show was really great, and I would love to see them when they come back in May, but I think I am going to need to opt for the No Fun Fest (w/ Thurston Moore and Burning Star Core both playing the same night), and I think John would approve of this decision. I think this show will definitely hold me off on my Mountain Goats fix until next time, and maybe by that time the Goats will be covering High on Fire.

Go Pirates!

Photo of the Mountain Goats at MHOW by Bryan Bruchman

The Moaner’s photo comes from Yep Rocs website