Billed as “A Night of Words and Music with Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan – an evening of poetry, prose and acoustic music with one of our city’s greatest living artists.”
While initial planning may have envisioned that simpler, more stripped down description above (and that did in fact occur) – what followed was a full blown, full Patti Smith Group rock show.
The show did open in the originally described sparser format. However, the participants were Patti's daughter Jesse on piano (a regular fixture in her touring band), Tony Shanahan on bass and Patti.
The first thing Patti does is implore the group of people directly in front of her who still haven't settled into their seats to "stop milling around like a herd of turtles" because of the limited amount of time allotted for the entire evenings performance.
Holding a copy of her National Book Award winning memoirs “Just Kids,” she explains that she wants to read some select passages from it.
Noting however (as mentioned above) initially she was supposed to do a lot of reading, but that she “doesn’t always do what I’m supposed to do” – which elicited the first of many amused responses from the audience.
She then read two excerpts from that book (with the song "Wings" in-between.) Having already read the book (and re-reading at times for inspiration) highlighted throughout this feature here are favorite passages.
"Everyone coexisted within the continuous drone of verbal diatribes, bongos, and barking dogs."
"Take their picture," said the woman to her bemused husband, "I think they're artists." "Oh, go on," he shrugged. "They're just kids."
"beguiled by her enthusiasm"
On first seeing Jim Morrison perform with The Doors: "I observed his every move in a state of cold hyper awareness. He exuded a mixture of beauty and self-loathing, and mystic pain, like a West Coast Saint Sebastian."
"In the war of magic and religion, is magic ultimately the victor? Perhaps priest and magician were once one, but the priest, learning humility in the face of God, discarded the spell for the prayer."
"he sought to see what others did not."
After the reading portion was over, Patti brought out Lenny Kaye and the rest of her band.
Which naturally included long-time drummer Jay Dee Daugherty
Here she tells a charming story about how the moon - and her "thank you" to it - for its continued guidance. Introducing the song "Southern Cross"
"I lived in my own world, dreaming about the dead and their vanished centuries."
"I had spent hours copying the elegant script forming the words of the Declaration of Independence."
"I could not identify with political movements. In trying to join them I felt overwhelmed by yet another form of bureaucracy."
"What matters is the work. A perfect balance of faith and execution. From this state of mind comes a light, life-charged."
"Creating a diary of internal evolution."
Dedicating her passages to “our youth – the hope of the world”
The benefit of taking a long view at events like these is to experience the full effect of dramatic stage lighting.
With rich hues morphing through the color spectrum, bathing the stage to create a magical feel.
Lead guitarist Jack Petruzzelli provided one brilliant musical passage after another throughout the show.
Also taking turns on keyboards when Tony or Jesse moved off of them.
Gorgeous view from further back on a beautiful July evening.
All around the open air venue, beautiful colored lights enhanced the ambiance.
Deep purples, pinks and greens.
Exploding star bursts projected behind the band added one more element of visual stimulation.
Along with glowing, pulsating orbs.
For the final song/medley, Patti took off her jacket (as surely the warm night had finally gotten her to this point).
Morphing from a rollicking version of The Who's "My Generation" into the "noise-rock" segment which has become a staple of her live shows, near the end of the night.
As was recorded here during her December 27, 2013 Space At Westbury show, and the "outside of society" chant.
Another highlight of that night from two and a half years ago was this version of "Cash" (off of her album "Trampin")
The July 20, 2016 Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center show can be seen and heard in its entirely via this recording below.
Here is a direct link to that on YouTube
Opening the night's festivities was the band Mariachi Flor de Toloache
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Another influential band experiencing a resurgence in their career over the last decade is the legendary Dinosaur Jr.
Since reforming the original lineup in 2005 with Murph on drums and Lou Barlow on bass, J Mascis continues to write, record and play out live as much as possible.
This particular occasion saw the band playing an intimate show on August 5th at Brooklyn's Rough Trade in celebration of their latest record release Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
Two years ago, Dinosaur Jr dazzled the audiences of New York with a brilliant headline show at The 4Knots Fest.
Read the full review of that show here - including the definitive statement as to why J Mascis and Djr's music matters so much.
As for this current show, J appeared to have his full arena level amp rig with him, in what is a decidedly smaller, more intimate space.
Murph and Lou are a phenomenal rhythm section.
From that new album is an amazing track called "Tiny" (which you can listen to right here) that encompasses everything that has been great about this band since they began - all in a just-over three minute song.
What so many of today's reviewers don't seem to "get" is how great J's lyrics are. Yes, the guitar solos are the "orgasm" - but embedded in the lyrical content is the human emotion. The heartbreak - and comfort.
Tiny's universal "calling out" to everyone. Centered on the hook "I wanna know" - to the ultimate offer - "call me back, I'll get on track I swear."
The lyrics conversational style has always been one of the most relatable aspects of his writing. "Do you know if you're against the deal? Well - wait and see!"
"No accounting for the hours I spent"
"Wanna tell you that I miss you but I'm pissed you blew me off"
"Hold out for me, 'cause bailing at this point is really low"
It was quite noticeable this time around how much Barlow plays the bass like an actual guitar. He strums chords as frequently as playing more traditional single note bass patterns.
Besides playing like a thundering monster, Murph seemed to be really enjoying himself.
The main set list, minus the encores.
For those encores they opened with "The Wagon" (from 1991's Green Mind) - and then they played "Out There" (from '93's Where You Been) - a song a bunch of us up front had been shouting out for most of the night. It was a beautiful experience with new found like-minded in-the-moment friends.
When the show was finally over and we were all milling around the front of the stage (trying to get set lists and checking things out) none other than Fred Armisen rolled up between us (with two blonde women in tow) and took this capture of J's pedal configuration. We had a brief chat - he was pleasant - and then whisked his way backstage (well, he IS friends with the band).
An amazing night!
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A few weeks earlier, a few of us decided to check out a couple of up and coming bands at another cool, free, summertime concert event - The Summer Thunder series at conveniently located Union Pool.
Although usually held outdoors in the open air courtyard, a mid-day rainstorm convinced everyone involved to have the bands play their sets on the indoor stage this time around.
Up first was a band covered previously here on this blog at the 2015 4Knots Fest - Surfbort.
Although their show was entertaining on that day, there was a loose, chaotic feel to it all.
For this Summer Thunder show the band seemed much more focused with their set tightened up considerably from that initial experience.
While the two front women are the same (lead guitar and lead vocals) the drummer and rhythm guitarist are different (they have no bassist).
The addition of those two new members certainly should be given credit for pulling the sound into a more precise focus, as the drummer had experienced chops and the rhythm guitarist masterfully recreated the Johnny Ramone speed down-stroke.
That's not to say their still wasn't a biting element to the music they presented.
In particular, the lyrical element to nearly all the songs played exhibited a savage sarcastic element, making frequent references to the lies and deceit that surrounds us on a daily basis.
The return of former show running mate Rob/Drid was a welcome return to familiar patterns. Good to catch up as always.
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Afternoon headliners WALL were up next.
Another new band recently featured here on this site, they've quickly established themselves as an act garnering a lot of interest from a number of noteworthy areas.
That prior show could also be deemed as something of a looser affair (coming after attendance at Brian Wilson's magnificent performance in McCarren Park) on a multi-band Sunday night showcase.
This late afternoon Summer Thunder performance however, was a headline spot for the band, and they made the most of their opportunity.
The captivating presence of lead vocalist Samantha York provides an essential visual centerpiece from which the songs can emerge.
Samantha and bassist Elizabeth
Although originally intended as an outdoor "patio" show, there's something about the indoor stage lighting that fits this band rather well.
Guitarist Vince lets rip with sinewy licks while Sam makes her point.
Drummer Vanessa keeps time with Tommy Ramone-like diligence.
Follow the band at their Instagram account here.
Which includes this video of them performing here at Union Pool.
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With that show concluded, the precisely planned out afternoon-into-evening gig calendar had this intrepid reporter heading over to Manhattan's LES and an event called "Frosting Fest" at Ludlow Streets venerable Cake Shop
Of specific interest on that bill were the bands Dahl Haus (which includes members of associated act Dialogue From A Silent Film) and Samantha (which can be found online as samanthanoise).
Opening the night was the immensely talented Blaise Dahl, fronting her band Dahl Haus
Lead guitarist Daniel Kasshu adds texture to Blaise Dahl's songwriting, and her solo creative vision that is Dahl Haus.
These two musicians (who are usually joined by a much in-demand drummer who was needed elsewhere on this evening) appear to be made for each other, as their love for a particular guitar-based wall-of-gaze sound and stylistic imagery sync up perfectly.
Blaise exhibits a powerful, resonant voice that soars over her lyrically intelligent, well-crafted songs.
In addition to providing his own "sailor sparkle" to Dahl Haus, guitarist Daniel creates his own extended dreamscapes in a band he calls Dialogue From A Silent Film.
Listen to his song "Wax Tadpole"
Lush, ambient soundscape bathed in waves of romantic melancholy.
Brother and Sister Glam-Gaze
Electric guitars and FX pedals make for such a beautiful noise.
The frosting fully on the cake (shop)
Every picture tells a story (don't it?)
If it's on Twitter, it has to be true!
Instagram completes the holy trinity.
Both Dahl Haus and Dialogue From A Silent Film play next at Don Pedro's in Brooklyn on Sunday August 21.
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Also appearing on the night of Cake Shop's "Frosting Fest" was Mike Borchardt's hard charging power trio Samantha (Samanthanoise)
These three musicians showed accomplished skill on their respective instruments, impressing with their tightly coiled songs.
On their track "Stitches" - we can hear the spirit of Westerberg and Stinson's Replacements shot through it.
At other times echoes of Green Day and Jimmy Eat World flashed across the minds eye (and ear) during their show.
While other times they rocked so hard you felt the ferocity of heavier bands like Ministry.
The bottom line is, they put on a helluva entertaining, hard rocking show.
Your next opportunity to catch Samantha live will be a summer blowout party on August 31st at Beach Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
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