Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at Coney Island Siren Fest

Having hung out on consecutive nights (Thursday and Friday) till 4 and 5 in the morning watching the UK band The Indelicates play shows and then acquiesce to my interviews, respectively - what was one to do on the following afternoon/evening? Why, attend the Village Voice Siren Festival at Coney Island! The plan was hatched when the Indelicates bassist Kate and I discovered we both wanted to really see Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, who were headlining the show.

So, armed with the knowledge that we were both fans (she having been into Mr. Malkmus since his time with seminal indie band Pavement, and I became intrigued when I heard he enjoyed taking extended guitar solos and improvisational jams) we headed off to Coney Island on Saturday the 19th of July, 2008.


Kate and I taking in the sites under the massive presence of The Cyclone Coney Island is one big carnival and amusement park, with rides, arcade games, and large dose of "seediness" which, as another English friend of my who had just visited said "nobody does seedy better than Americans - and I mean that in a good way". Which all contributed to a near-perfect festival setting. However, with the expected razing of Astroland, the area where Siren is held, next year, the day’s mood wasn’t so much whether Malkmus would play any Pavement tunes, but rather, if this year would be Siren’s last there.


Still, Kate and I were primed for maximum "rawk n' roll" entertainment. All during the drive to the show, we began to credit all things "cool" to Malkmus. In fact, we stopped calling him by his full name and just referred to him as simply "Malk". We were saying this is going to be sooooo Malk", and "the Malkman is sure to deliver". The "Malk" references got sillier and sillier, but it simply added to our anticipation and excitement. Showing up as the prior band was finishing, we proceeded to do that slow worm-your-way-through-the-crowd thing to get prime viewing. Now, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. We never stepped on anyone toes and were always respectful of peoples space. However, as individuals would trickle out for whatever reason, we would slowing take their spot.


Suddenly the man was on stage - with his band. Kate swooned and I was ready for maximum guitar-noodling and improvisational explorations. Here is their opening song, "Baby, C'mon"


Oh, yeah - it was on! Smiling faces all around. Immediately on my radar was pretty Jicks bassist Joanna Bolme.


 Joanna sang backup and acted as an overall counterpart for "Malk".


 She has Kim Gordon cool and a similar ability to go wherever the jams might take her.


 Joanna and Stephen engage in some 4 string-to-6-string sonic exploration.


Baseball-style brimmed caps, shades and jaunty scarves were the the appropriate necessary items on this steamy, hot July afternoon-into-evening.


The Jicks are anchored by legendary former Sleater-Kinney (and sometimes Quasi) drummer Janet Weiss.


 Bassist Joanna knows the importance of having a musical rapport with drummer Janet.

 For her part, Janet is a rock solid drummer who fits this band quite well.


Wherever "Malk" took the improvisation, Janet was right there with him. Driving the rhythm on and encouraging the further musical explorations.


Janet, among other things, grew up in Southern California and has a degree in photography from San Francisco State University. She brings a unique tension and dynamic to the music.


We sooo "Malked" this night! After that, we wandered through Coney Island a bit. Took a stroll on the beach . . .


The view of the Wonderwheel from the beach.


 The perfect ending to a totally "Malk-ed out" day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Secret History - Live, July 24, 2008 at Public Assembly

I happen to go out to live shows a lot these days. Why not? You only live once, right?

This past Thursday, July 24 - I checked out (again) a band I've recently become high on -
The Secret History at Public Assembly in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(formerly called Galapagos Art Space).

The night's "theme" was entitled Modern Problems.

The Secret History have been described as having "songs and sentiments derived from an early 70's pulp novel."
To me, they're very much in the Roxy Music style - in both image and sound.

They feature Lisa Ronson as their primary vocalist.

Lisa, is the daughter of legendary Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson.

The band also features as second (very pretty) vocalist named Erin Dermody.

What ultimately sets this group apart from so many others is the clever lyrics and detailed arrangments of leader/songwriter/keyboardist/sometime lead vocalist and snappy dresser Michael Grace, Jr.

Rounding out the musicians are long-time collaborators guitarist Darren Amadio, bassist Gil Abad, drummer Tod Karasik, and keyboardist Kurt Brondo.

Lisa brings to life songs like "Our Lady of Pompeii"
Which can be viewed here:

and "Mark and John"which can be viewed here:

Check them out at one of their upcoming shows if you're in the area!

Upcoming Shows
Aug 15 2008
40 Watt Club, Athens Georgia. Athens Popfest!
Athens, Georgia
Aug 29 2008
Mercury Lounge

Mercury Lounge is an easy get for me, so I'll see you there!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Indelicates - live at Mondo - July 18, 2008

So - after four months of planning and false starts - The Indelicates were finally going to play their long awaited headline showcase performance at Club Mondo.

This had already become a personal fave club night of mine - as I've seen quite a few debut and quality shows of bands I now hold near and dear to my heart.
Having followed The Indelicates around the New York area for all of their shows during this particular tour, it was particularly satisfying to see them culiminate it all with their flashiest and most triumphant show yet.

Preshow - Al and Julia relax with some iced bevvy's - as Julia models her red bowler hat.

The band took the stage and commenced to rip into a blistering version of "The Last Significant Statement To Be Made In Rock & Roll"

See a high-quality video of this performance here:

The band then continued through what had become a familiar set to me - however with each new performance, I discovered yet one more subtle nuance I had not detected before.

There's something to be said for following a band through a series of shows in a short period of time. Not only do you really get to know the material (though I already had all of these songs indelibly impressed on my psyche) but you come to gain a greater appreciation of a bands approach to it all. The Indelicates are very much seasoned professionals. As Julia would say on a radio show earlier in the week - four tours of Germany has a way of doing that to you.

The crowd at Mondo was (as it always is) great. You can count on the audience to be spirited and festive there - yet attentive to the band when they come on.

Sure - the night is first and foremost a dance party. The Club's DJ's - Miss Modular * Kevington * and Dr Maz certainly share equal billing with the bands they present. They are noted for spinning indie, brit-pop, rock & retro (plus anything from shoegazer to twee) - and all I have ever seen there are enthusiastic crowds that love to dance.

The Indelicates did nothing to deviate from this celebratory atmosphere - and in fact, added a heightened level of excitement to it all.

Al churned out chunky guitar chords, while Julia graced us with her delicate-to-bombastic song "Stars"

While Simon and the band crunched through a brilliant rendition of "America"

"New Art For The People" - which is a particular favorite of mine - was nothing short of brilliant.

While a stomping version of their taut combined medly - the first half cover of Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law" - coupled with their "Fun Is For The Feeble Minded" whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

That particular performance can be viewed here:

Mondo party-goers show their appreciation

DJ Kevington views the scene from behind his decks

As heads continued to bob to the infectious grooves

Attentive viewers and listeners appeared to grasp every subtle nuance

Julia stands and steps away from the keyboard to sing her anthem about the freedom to choose with "Our Daughters Will Never Be Free".

Kim Deal only wishes she could play as well as Kate.

You've entered the No-Spin zone

The highlight of the show was when the band played "Julia, We Don't Live In The '60s" - which has become a fave track that is played at Mondo all the time. When the DJ's realized they were playing it, they all rushed to the front of the stage and began to dance wildly.
You can view this occurrence (and performance) here:

They did it for America
Mondo is hands down the best club night in New York City.
Whether its the music the DJ's play - or the bands they present - it all comes together in a singular satisfying musical experience.
Adding The Indelicates to it all made everything perfect.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Indelicates at Club NME (at The Annex) 17th of July, 2008

The Indelicates continued their whirlwind mini-tour of the New York Metropolitan area with a show for Club NME which is held on Thursday nights at The Annex.

Before the show, I caught up with the band as they dined a the world famous Katz's Deli on the lower east side of Manhattan. Everyone was in fine spirits, after taking a few days to see the various sites (Coney Island, automobile trips to Mystic) in this Tri-State region.

Heading over to the venue we arrived in time to catch the opening band - a very friendly and intersting band from Sweden called Doctors & Dealers.

In addition to having some unique vocal stylings, I was amused to see such a variety of small percussion instruments employed throughout their show. I later learned that they simply bought these percussive instruments as they moved from city-to-city here in the US, as they couldn't really bring much with them from home. Very clever.

Simon Indelicate takes in the show.

In between performances, the master of extreme facial expression - rhythm guitarist Al of The Indelicates kept things energetic and funny - as we tried to get some photos taken.

Evil or divine?

No, don't take the picture now - I'm grinning like a fool.

You - You know what you've done!

Silliness over, it was time to carve out the set list.

Oh, yes - all the quality tunes are here.
Still time for a bit of an outdoor chat, we flipped on our respective recorders for a bit more footage:
Middle band Man On Earth having wrapped up a rollicking set that had myself and bassist Kate doing crazy dance moves at each other - it was soon time for the headlining The Indelicates to come on.

One of the (many) things I love about The Indelicates is how almost effortlessly they play this sophisticated music. Julia's classical piano playing somehow meshes perfectly with Simon's dynamic rock guitar. Yes, they are a "rock band" in the traditional sense - structurally - so there are never any self-indulgent chord changes or "prog rock" trappings - just to show how well they play - yet they do (play well. Very well).
Kate's bass playing is deceptively intricate.

I don't think anyone "pulls faces" better than rhythm guitar man Al does. He practically mimes the entire song. You can often catch him leering inches away from Julia's face (often unbeknownst to her, as she concentrates on singing) - only to lurch away in a split second, giving the big up to what comes next in the song. That said, his rhythm guitar playing provides texture and depth to what Simon is playing. And when Simon occasionally puts the guitar down, you then realize that Al is more than competent at the six string instrument.

Ed's drumming impressed more with each show I attended. For someone who revealed to me that he started out as a guitar player - you would never know it, with the way he ferociously attacks his drums. Besides the appropriate propulsion, the attention to detail of the rhythmic changes throughout each song added an important dynamic.

Elvis shades just go so well with dual "America" shirts.

Passionate vocals - but watch out for unexpected lyrical twists.

For instance, there is this performance of the indescribably beautiful "Unity Mitford"

Now equipped with her flute here for "Julia, We Don't Live In The 60's" - while Simon appears to be doing some form of Riverdance.

With Simon and his Indelicates - ultimately is all about the lyrics. The storytelling. There is never a throwaway line among them. Each word is carefully thought-out and properly placed.

Kate sports a 50's jeans in Coney Island T-shirt ensemble. The stuff to drive soundmen wild.

Is it a pennywhistle or a flute? Does it matter what you call it?

Julia steps away from the piano to sing "Our Daughters Will Never Be Free". Don't try to tie her to a kitchen sink!

After the show we headed back uptown for some additional chat:
In addtion to that, everyone decided it would be a mad good time to have sandwiches and coffee on the luxurious street bench across from the hotel. Hence the now legendary "bench coffee" (tawk)

Good times, and the big grand finale headlining show still to come the very next night!