30 July 2007

Photo: HTR

We're hitting the road later this week -- I was thinking that OTW would take a vacation as well, but decided I couldn't leave y'all in the lurch. We'll start the week off with some heady downloads for your weekday listening enjoyment...

First, check out this absurd vehicle seen on the road up to Bethel. Yes, that is a Volvo wagon slapped on some sort of I don't know what. I've heard of hybrids, but... see if you can caption that contraption properly.

Onto the music, highlighting recent OTW highlights (all of 'em in a Mediafire folder):

29 July 2007

Shows of the Week

Just do it!

Click here for upcoming shows

Ben Kweller (Tim Fite opens) @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Bob Hoffnar's Roundup @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Spiraling @ Tap Bar
*Himalayas (Wolleson) @ Zebulon (Brooklyn)

*Uri Caine Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Ben Kweller @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Ryan Shaw @ Highline Ballroom
Abdullah Ibrahim solo @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Jaik Miller Band @ LUV 24/7
Corn Mo et al @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Gary Lucas/Kristin Diable @ Joe's Pub (late)

The Police @ Madison Square Garden
Uri Caine Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Tegan & Sara @ Hiro Ballroom
They Might Be Giants @ Bowery Ballroom
Ben Kweller @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
FREE Regina Carter Quintet @ Shake Shack
Michael Blake Trio @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
D. Baker, C. Baptista, J. Zorn, R. Crandell @ The Stone (early/late)
FREE Mavis Staples @ Rockefeller Park
Abdullah Ibrahim solo @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
*Vieux Farka Toure @ Highline Ballroom
Trevor Garrod @ Knitting Factory
The Frequency @ Mercury Lounge
FREE Soulive @ Virgin Union Square
Jean-Michel Pilc @ 55 Bar (late)

**FREE Jenny Scheinman @ Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)
Alison Krauss & Union Station @ Beacon Theater
Tegan and Sara @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
BuzzUniverse @ Donegal Saloon (Kearny, NJ)
Uri Caine Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Mycale: Book of Angels @ The Stone (early)
UMelt @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard the Half Moon
John Popper Project w/ DJ Logic @ Rockin the River cruise
Squeeze @ Nokia Theater
Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble @ Joe's Pub (midnight)
Abdullah Ibrahim solo @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Oscar Noriega @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Foundry Field Recordings, The World Without magic @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Circuit Breaker @ The Stone (late)
...and You Will Know Us By... @ Luna Lounge (Brooklyn)
FREE The Flatlanders @ Castle Clinton

The Police @ Madison Square Garden
Squeeze @ Beacon Theater
*Tea Leaf Green @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Uri Caine Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Beyonce @ Continental Arena (E. Rutherford, NJ)
Abdullah Ibrahim Trio @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
FREE KRS-One, Ladybug Mecca et al @ Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)
Al Green, BB King et al @ PNCBank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
CSS, Dirty On Purpose et al @ Studio B (Brooklyn)
Elliott Sharp/Nels Cline Duo @ Issue Project Room (Brooklyn)
RJD2 @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard the Temptress
Alejandro Escovedo @ Mercury Lounge
Bomb Squad @ The Cutting Room

Tea Leaf Green @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
FREE Antibalas @ Governor's Island
FREE Kassav', Bonga @ Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)
Uri Caine Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Duck Baker @ The Stone (early/late)
*FREE Spanish Harlem Orchestra et al @ Summerstage
Abdullah Ibrahim Trio @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
George Thorogood, Bryan Adams @ PNCBank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
Beyonce @ Madison Square Garden
Pnuma Trio @ Mercury Lounge
They Might Be Giants @ Planting Fields Arboretum (Oyster Bay, LI)
Foundry Field Recordings et al @ Pianos

The Police @ Giants Stadium (E. Rutherford, NJ)
Spam Allstars @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard the Half Moon
**FREE Blonde Redhead, I'm From Barcelona @ McCarren Park Pool (Brooklyn)
Uri Caine Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Zappa plays Zappa @ Count Basie Theater (Red Bank, NJ)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Abdullah Ibrahim Trio @ Jazz Standard (early/late)

Click here for upcoming shows

27 July 2007

minimix: Tinselitis.2

More movie music for your Friday. Pretty disparate crop, of movies and music. Grab the music, but watching all 6 of these movies in a row might not be good for your insomnia. Are we thinking the Simpsons movie is going to be any good?

Download the mix

01 Let's Go Crazy -- Prince: Purple Rain
02 Wizard's Sleeve -- Yo La Tengo: Shortbus
03 Save Me -- Aimee Mann: Magnolia
04 Rebel Rebel -- Seu Jorge: The Life Aquatic
05 We're Going To Be Friends -- Jack Johnson: Curious George
06 Superfly -- Curtis Mayfield: Superfly

Previously in minimix:

Nedstalgia: 10 Years Ago

Phish Starplex Ampitheater, Dallas, TX 25 July 2007 (76) South Park Meadows, Austin, TX 26 July 2007 (77)

Download 7/25 here: set I set II
Download 7/26 here
The whole summer 1997 tour can be found here

[Previously in Nedstalgia: Phish shows 1 & 2, #3; Mule; Widespread Panic; The Duo; Robert Randolph
HORDE 92 (i.e. Phish #4, WSP #1)]

Man, so this is what it feels like to be incredibly busy, eh? Playing catch-up here these days, but wanted to get in a quick blurb about some Summer 97 Phish. Hard to believe it was 10 years ago, but take off a decade and you had a band that was entering what I'd call "Peak Phish." The climb started with with Clifford Ball and hit the pinnacle during the Island Tour in 98, so by July 0f 97 we were smack dab in the middle of some top notch sickness.

After doing the whole 8/96 run in a postgraduate road trip, we were now adults and couldn't swing months at a time, so we had to pick and choose our Phish trips and choose them wisely. For whatever reason, the Bis Squeeze and I settled on two shows in Texas, followed by a little jaunt into the Pacific Northwest for some actual non-music vacation time camping and such and then two shows at the Gorge in Washington. These would also be our first shows since Halloween of 1996, so we were in high anticipation of some new songs and the new, deep funk Phish.

We arrived in Dallas to learn one thing. It gets hot in Texas in the middle of July. Really, fucking hot. Honestly, I don't know that I've ever been that hot in my life. There wasn't that much to do in town considering the heat. We did check out the grassy knoll and the museum there in the book depository, which is an appropriately bizarre piece of Americana, complete with crazy conspiracy theorists willing to talk to anyone who can stand in 110 degree temperatures to get their version of the story. Enough of that, let's go see Phish!

It was sweating-bullets-in-the-shade level and that combined with the crazy little ants crawling over us -- we couldn't wait to get inside the amphitheater and get it on. There was a little special addition to those Texas shows, Bob Gullotti from the Boston noise jazz band "The Fringe" would be joining them on a second drum kit. Totally bizarre pre-announced guest spot, but as any Phish fan knows, anything different has the potential for next level specialness... so we were psyched.

As we should have been. There was something in the air that night in Dallas. Certainly the heat -- it tends to make molecules move faster, to make things soft and at some point it all just melts. Phish kind of melted that night in Dallas. Songs that usually retain a certain form got all molten and free and the jams that flowed between them or within them seeped all over the warm Texas evening.

It started innocuously enough with a tame Beauty of My Dreams and the first set had an awkward pause for Water in the Sky, but the rest was just pure, free-ranging Phishjam circa 1997. The four just flowed freely through jam after jam ending the first set with a phenomenal Bathtub Gin > Makisupa > AC/DC Bag that just about blew my lid. The Bathtub Gin is pure next-level stuff, the jam out of it is in "best ever" category, I do not exaggerate. iTunes tells me that it stretches for over 20 minutes and really all of it is tight, tight, "you've got to hear this!" shit. The band was basically boiling for that entire stretch with the set-closing AC/DC ending with a jam that got faster and faster and faster into an impossibly paced heat stroke. I can remember trying to catch a breath but not being able to stop dancing convulsively. Yeah, it was good shit.

Gullotti joined the stage for the 2nd set and things just got wilder and weirder for the next 3 sets of Phish. It was almost as if they wanted to prove how unstructured they could be to Bob. At the same time, they did not seem to tailor the set to him at all, they just played as they normally would, but let things get out there with the double drummer. Gullotti was not afraid, not at all. He got right into it like a child with fingerpaints. He seemed to lock in more with Trey than Fishman, which is interesting to note. Songs just seemed to flow into each other like one long piece. They opened with Chalkdust but did not seem committed to its form and let things go where they might, segueing from there into Taste and then Yamar without pausing to consider where they were going or how they might get there. At one point Trey tried to get Page to jam it out with the drummers -- "just Leo and the drummers..." -- but Gullotti kind of overpowered a timid McConnell and just thundered through a drum section all but on his own before they settled into a swampy, funky Ghost. Utterly exhilarating.

Appropriately, we caught a ride postshow with Daniel Gold and some Spreadnet Spreadkins which was a lil adventure in of itself. The next night was Austin and was just as oppressively hot. The venue was called South Park Meadows, but from what I remember it was basically a gigantic field with a stage at the end. Whereas the Dallas show was in your standard shed, with shade and some concrete to contain the energy, Austin was wide open... literally and figuratively.

They didn't wait until the 2nd set to let Gullotti get involved as he sat in for the entire show. Still, they didn't do a great job picking out tunes for him to play on, particularly in the 1st set which rambled like your average below-average Phish set for the day. It wasn't until the end, when they did a nice You Enjoy Myself that things let loose. I remember when they launched into that YEM wondering how Gullotti would handle all the stops and starts and time interchanges. Trey did his best to show him the way during the opening passages, but eventually he just let him do his own thing. The jam in there was free and out there and pretty nice... eventually making way into my first Izabella which absolutely floored me.

The second set was a keeper, though. Another free-for-all in the best possible sense. There really is nothing like seeing Phish outdoors in the summer after the sun has gone down. We were right front and center for this show (surprise!) with good people around us and some unbelievable music coming from the stage. It went a little like this: Timber > Bowie > Hood > Free with everything getting stretched out, filling the nighttime air like torrential rains collecting in puddles. Well worth a listen. This is where they really started to click as a 5-piece 2-drum collective and played the songs to make such energy worth it. The quintet was so wound up with thermal energy they could barely contain any song structure, opting for long, free-funk jams. By the time they got to Hood, they could barely keep the pace down, quickly launching into a Blister in the Sun jam that had Trey even singing some lyrics. That got the crowd going!

Everything after that was a bit straightforward, but we left Texas feeling we had gotten some "special Phish" and headed up to Seattle for a little R&R. Hopefully I can get to that next week, for now, enjoy these...

26 July 2007

Review: Widespread Panic (part II)


Bethel Woods Amphitheater, Bethel, NY 22 July 2007

No Panic on Saturday, but Friday was good enough to encourage me to head to Bethel for a Sunday night show. Sunday nights in random places, sounds familiar. Well, not completely random, the venue is a gorgeous ampitheater sitting on the site of the original Woodstock. We joked about what they might play in tribute -- Wooden Ships, perchance? -- but really, we just wanted something to make being bleary-eyed on Monday morning worth it. Man, they nailed it.

I've always loved Panic, had a great time at all the post-Mikey shows I've seen, have been very excited about the Jimmy Herring era and have seen glimpses of what could potentially end up being the best damn shit ever... but I haven't seen it all click together for a full show quite yet. Until Sunday night, that is. From the opening notes of The Take Out, you could feel it in the country air. Hell, you could feel it when you pulled into the parking lot.... that's "lot" singular, as the amount of people coming to the show necessitated only one parking lot, not the half-dozen or so laid out for a potential capacity of 16,000 concert-goers. The estimate for Widespread's show was 3000 at the most -- a mix of what I call the die-hards and the merely curious (local version). And yet, the surroundings were so perfect: a pastoral paradise. From the wood paneling on the buildings to the careful landscaping, the 2 hours jaunt from the city, $5 beers and the kindness of the staff (so nice and friendly you thought they had to be hiding some shortcomings)... this venue is goshdarn perfect. Not sure they have a viable economic model, but still, sign me up!

As if there was any doubt, when John Bell walked up to the mic and said "Well, let's see how much fun we can have" before taking off into Take Out, well... was there any doubt? Take Out was a nice way of settling everyone in. It's fun to listen to Herring in different songs and imagine how he perceives them, how he learned them, etc. His playing in the opener was almost a note-and-tone exact match to David Blackmon's fiddle playing on the album version. When they took a left turn out of it into Diner, well: look out! The crowd may have been small, but we packed together tight and started to shake our asses.

Dave Schools seemed especially buoyant Sunday night from the onset. His bass playing was spring-loaded and seemed to bounce up, over, under and around the rest of the band. Sunny was still absent, but the guys seemed to have adjusted nicely after a couple shows and filled in those little gaps really nicely. The Diner was, as most Diners are, on and to get such an extensive barn-burner this early in the night boded well. It closed the loop by landing in a nice, quick, rollicking Porch Song.

The highlights were pretty much one after another. Gradle was spot-on with JB sounding as soulful as ever. Really everyone seemed to be on point and enjoying the heck out of the whole affair. Gradle somersaulted into a nice, long outro jam. Sometimes Herring feels like he's merely soloing on top of the songs, George-McConnell-style, albeit with more style and talent as you could ask for, but Sunday night he reached tentacles deep into the Widespread Panic soil and got symbiotic with his bandmates, sucking nutrients from their playing and rewarding them with some supranatural efforts. The band was as one out of Gradle and it was one step away from being a Panic version of a 1974 "Bird Song" with Herring looping complicated macramé in the air, twisting notes back on themselves. It was good!

The set just built from there. You Got Yours was dirty love with Jojo feeling comfortable being in the midst and not banging about aimlessly. Disco was all Dave Schools charging like a bull at a matador. Everything was just cohesive and gooey and delicious, I tell you I haven't heard these 6 guys sound this good. Maybe it was the fresh air, or maybe they're finally reaching that special place. Disco > Greta > North was a fantastic onslaught to end the set. North was particularly out-there doing things I never knew it could do with a blistering guitar jam in the middle of the "what are they going into" variety -- I totally forgot there was another verse to be sung and when they came back into it, it was smooth and creamy as peanut butter (non-chunky). Still, they were not satisfied with just that and tacked on another raging rock and roll exposition. Like the highly trained athletes for whom the game slows down and comes easy and natural, when it's truly clicking for Panic these days, they make it look like child's play. And Sunday night it was an effortless game and we were all in on it.

Don't that feel good. The sun had gone down but the venue was still bright at setbreak, lit up by all the smiles on the few and proud. The crowd had actually thinned to just the believers by this point -- perhaps this was the way it was supposed to be. But we all knew this was something special. When the second set started with a rumbling it took me but a second to know we were in for it. Impossible. Second set opener. You've to to be kidding me! Whoof! It was about to get nasty upstate. Forget about nodding your head to the site of Woodstock and just hold on for dear life! The second set was like being in the kitchen of a 5-Star restaurant, watching the chef and his crew prepare a multi-course meal with precision. Slicing, dicing, searing and sauteeing; mixing ingredients that would seem to contradict each other and turning out something more delicious than you could have imagined; sumptuous sights and smells....

Impossible was impossibly good, not much more to say. Widespread Panic ceased being a bunch of individual musicians and just moved as one: geese flying through the air in V-formation. Even Visiting Day couldn't shake the momentum. Fixin' To Die is a perfect addition to the Panic repertoire and this one was a doozie. JB was feeling it deep within his soul and seemed to be ad libbing the entire last verse. But really it was the jamming in here that brought it up to that high place. Inside the song, things were loose and fun, but the outgoing stretch took things way, way, way out there. Long jams can be so many things, but the way the guys were playing in Bethel, this was a big old Panicpalooza a completely unique entity in the set, it's own track on the compilation CD.

They went into Driving Song from there and then the new song "Flicker." Pretty standard rock and roll, but a blazer nonetheless and a first step toward creating a new Herring-hybrid version of Widespread Panic. Couldn't catch too much of the lyrics or anything on first pass, but I feel there is some potential there. Pretty much forgot all about it by the time Jojo whirled over to the keys and laid down those unmistakable opening chords to Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. Impossible opener + Low Spark = you freakin' kidding me? Widespread does not play bad versions of this one. Those lucky few in the crowd got transported for a nice long journey into the depths of Panic bliss. Words wouldn't do it justice. Each little pocket of space, each opening was filled by liquid WSP. Jimmy & Dave locked into beautifully and everyone joined arms. Midway through the themes kind of disassociated sparked by Schools and Nance who did a quick tempo change for the quicker. The new direction caught easily, the band dry timber and the music hot flames looking to consume everything in its path. Dave was just blazing hot during this stretch and it surely felt like there was a song poking up trying to make its way out. Nothing took hold, though, and they just kept ripping it up, really as tight as a band could be before pretty much going as fast and hard as they can and exploding orgasmically back into Low Spark. Mmmm...

The transition back into Driving Song was drawn out and long as if it were another song altogether. The band was in an altered state, zombies for the jam, feeding on the crowds brains. Driving flipped nicely into the pure blues of Neil Young's Vampire Blues (more Neil, yeah!) which seemed a bit jarring but still nice nonetheless. Finished up with an Ain't Life Grand which I always enjoy but seemed like a pedestrian way to end a top shelf show.

The encore was where the juicy Page 6 stuff happened, though. Ostensibly, it was a Vic Chestnutt twofer (Schools between songs: "Since it's Sunday you're getting two Vic Chestnutt tunes"), but it turned out to be a bizarre catfight between JB and Jojo. Bell was really just belting out the lyrics to Expiration Day with some serious loving. The whole thing sounded great and then at one point Jojo started singing some harmonies. Well this set JB off in a bad way. He was waving his arm furiously behind his back -- in no uncertain terms he was saying "shut the fuck up!" to Mr. Hermann and shot him a glance. Ouch! After finishing the tune, JB stormed over to Jojo and pretty much just knocked his microphone out of the way. "Do not sing!" was the clear message. A mighty nice tune ended up getting awkward because of that as well as some not-feeling-it guitar from Herring who didn't seem to have the right touch for this one. They did their double Chestnutt duty with Sleeping Man but when they reached the point where Jojo might take a solo, there was nothing... nothing at all. Wally Ingram who had done an admirable job sitting in for Sunny the previous few nights took this as a cue and started a random little drums section to save what was an incredibly awkward moment. The band finished up semi-professionally, but as they were going through their last end-of-song blitz, Jojo stormed off the stage leaving the rest to soak up the applause. How incredibly odd! Middle school drama at its finest, ladies and gentlemen!

Still, such antics couldn't ruin one of the better Panic shows I've seen in quite a long, long while. The Ned-O-Matic rings up a 7.5 and is looking forward to the next Widespread show. Download this one for sure!

Review: Widespread Panic (part I)


Radio City Music Hall, 20 July 2007

Radio City Music Hall has evolved into a nice little friendly home for Widespread Panic on their trips back to NYC. Last fall there was a buzz in the air as it was the first shows with Jimmy Herring filling the lead chopper spot. This time around he was a couple tours wiser and inching his away from "new guy" status each song and set he plays. While Jimmy was back for more, Sunny was absent, on bereavement leave for a few shows. These guys have been playing long enough to have been through all sorts of permutations: shows without Mikey, pre-Jojo T. Lavitz-on-keys-tours, random shows in random states when Todd checked out with a little bit of whatever they were calling it that night and most everything in between. It wasn't a question of if the guys would adapt without Ortiz, but how and most importantly: how well?

A candle stood in the place of the gap-filling percussionist, a classy move by the band and got the proceedings off with a warm, family feeling. With a nod but nary a tear, they launched right into it with Todd Nance bleating out the opening bops to "Pleas." Just as he did the first night of the run in the fall, Jimmy wasted no time being felt, playing wild sitar-type chords that have no place in a song like Pleas. Does that bother you? Do you sit through such a performance ticking off the ways Mikey did it differently? I'm slowly getting over that feeling. This is Jimmy's band, like it, love it or leave it.

Still, there are still some rough patches and the first set was chock full of 'em. The Pigeons that followed was lacking. A big hole in the center where something was expected but wasn't to be found. It went along in fits and starts from there with the blistering moments serving more to frustrate when they were absent elsewhere. Party At Your Mama's House was a possible turning point as they started to ember a little. They flipped over into a jam out of that one that was like the missing jam from the void in Pigeons. Still, it never would have gone where it went out of PAYMH, just soaring up and up and up -- Harry Potter on his broomstick, magical and mystical in every way. It really would get no better than where it went during that jam the rest of the night. We were in row OO, and that went from our seat location with its crispy, crunchy potato chip sound to an onomatopoeic description of the feeling I was getting: oooooooooo!

It crept back down into Ribs & Whiskey in a full-on, honest-to-goodness segue that may very well have been the moment in another show. Sadly, Friday night it made way to Jojo singing, not horribly, but still... this was certainly one of those "turn John Hermann down" affairs, where seemingly every time he plunked his mitts down on the keys it came out awkward and much too loud in relation to all that not-so-awkward music around him. At his best, Jojo allows himself to be swept up by the rest of the band, like a passenger in the back seat: quiet and unobtrusive, occasionally pointing out a missed direction or cool landmark, but otherwise, content to ride along and check out the amazing scenery his driver is whizzing by. At his worst, he's pretty bad.

The set ended on a nice high with Walk On bringing a bass-boogie Neil Young to raise the energy to 8 or 9 and then Conrad being the usual can-do-no-wrong set closer. Still, something wasn't quite clicking there. It was solid, but it didn't transcend. The weird thing was the question: was it Sunny's absence that threw 'em off? Of course, it's hard to say. Lackluster is certainly in the Panic vocabulary with or without a percussionist. Who knows. The music certainly was porous, like little holes where a bongo or chime or wood block can be. Listen to any recording of Pigeons and imagine what it might sound like without Sunny's additions. Not too different, but maybe just different enough to make that difference.

Meanwhile... during the setbreak weird stuff was happening around the city and around the world. Stuff that had nothing to do with Panic. That's right, the Harry Potter book was going on sale!! Freaks inside Radio City were on the verge of uncontrollable excitement in anticipation for the second set, but that didn't touch what all those other freakers were feeling at all the Barnes and Nobleses. Our own wizard-in-the-corner, JB got things launched with the dirty, dirty opening licks to Thought Sausage and Herring with his long flowing hair did his Dumbledore shooting lightning bolts from his fingers. It was clear the second set would be a bit more magical than the first.

Things really didn't get rolling until Pilgrims, though, which was phantasmagoria of sound. I have no complaints with this Panic v3.1, it's better than all the other alternatives combined, believe me. But still, the moments of pure wizardry, where everything clicks like nothing else out there are still a bit sparser than I'd like. This Pilgrims was one of them, with the whole band working together like some A-League Quidditch team weaving on broomsticks high in the arched rafters of the Radio City Music Hall. The outro was a thing of perfection making me sweat and giving me the chills all at once. Jimmy Herring making things appear out of thin air and the rest of the band following suit. Give it up for Widespread Panic.

The set was in full swing and I turned to my left and said "the next song is the make-it-or-break-it point of this show." When the big Hagrid Schools laying down the opening groove of Blight I knew it could go either way. Thankfully, the band was fully in touch with the Dark Arts and descended deep into glorious blackness. Hands down, the best Blight I've ever heard. I could utter nothing but "Sweet Jeebus" in appreciation of the shit these guys were playing. Get the tapes, listen and write your dissertation: a note-by-note analysis of the new Widespread Panic, where it is today and where it's going. This is the future of mind-flipping entertainment. Poof! Long, hypnotic, full-fledged jamming this thing had it all in evil, smoky undertones.

This set the tone for the rest of the set as it proceeded to get darker and more mysterious. These guys were not the good wizards and witches, but the monstrous creatures lurking underneath the floorboards. Second Skin has grown into a Dementor of a song, a launching point for mind-erasing that seems to suck all the soul out of a set leaving the crowd brain-dead in the best possible way. I lost all sense of time during this one with the band spiraling around and around whilst sinking down, down down. We must have been getting close to midnight by this point, you could feel the eeriness in the air. A brute. doublet was equally as nasty, although much more grounded. The band was crushing gravel at this point and it wasn't until Space Wrangler that I was able to snap out of it and remember I was at a Panic show. Be sure to wash your face and hands before eating, that is some muck we just waded through!

Jack was inevitable. Mr Soul was a welcome treat -- really, things had not been loud enough up to that point. More Neil! Crappy encore.

Filed out into the night and things definitely were bizarre. Multiple nitrous tanks on the streets of Manhattan. Freakers walking down the sidewalk with their noses in gigantic orange books. Another dimension, through the looking glass, platform 9 3/4 and all that jazz...

What I would call an average Panic show: Ned-O-Matic: 5.0

25 July 2007

Teh Lame

It's the dog days here at OTW... exhausted and busy and taking much longer to recover from a couple Panic shows than it used to. I'll have 2 reviews eventually and a lil' Nedstalgia taboot. For now, thanks for your patience.


Utterly absurd promo read by Gary Cohen during the broadcast of the Mets win over Pittsburgh last night... pretty much word for word:

"Guess the Met who will hit the most home runs in the month of July and the number of home runs hit and you will be eligible for a drawing for a chance to throw out the pitch at a Mets game..."

potentially, that is.

Also, as related by the Big Squeeze, LJ magic from the back seat:

LJ (5.5 years): [reading billboard] Boys & Girls Club. It's good that it's for boys and girls, because it wouldn't be nice to excloooooode anyone.

23 July 2007

Shows of the Week


Click here for upcoming shows

Gary Lucas @ Bowery Poetry Club
*Bob Hoffnar's Roundup w/ C. Burnham @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Butch Morris Orchestra @ Nublu

John Mayer, Ben Folds @ PNC Bank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
The White Stripes @ Madison Square Garden
Robert Glasper Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Toto @ BB King's
*American Babies, The Brakes et al @ Knitting Factory
Devotchka @ Spiegeltent
Jaik Miller Band @ LUV 24/7
James Cotton w/ Hubert Sumlin @ Rockin the River Cruise
Amos Lee @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Vieux Farka Toure @ Grace
Minnie Driver @ The Living Room
Poison, Ratt @ Jones Beach (Wantagh, LI)

They Might Be Giants @ Bowery Ballroom
Hanson @ Webster Hall
Robert Glasper Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
311, Matisyahu @ PNCBank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
Devotchka @ Spiegeltent
FREE Riders in the Sky, Carolina Chocolate Drops @ Rockefeller Park
*Bobby Previte New Bump Quartet @ 55 Bar (late)
Secret Government @ Fat Baby
FREE Wolff & Tuba @ Piano's Lounge

John Mayer, Ben Folds @ Jones Beach (Wantagh, LI)
Robert Glasper Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
*FREE Sharon Jones & Dap Kings @ Castle Clinton
Xavier Rudd @ Highline Ballroom
Beat the Devil @ Cake Shop (Brooklyn)
FREE James Cotton, Carolina Cotton Drops @ BAM Metrotech (noon)
Jonah Smith @ Rockwood Music Hall (late)
FREE BuzzUniverse @ Sinatra Park (Hoboken)
311, Matisyahu @ Jones Beach (Wantagh, LI)
Anita Baker @ Radio City Music Hall

Xavier Rudd @ Highline Ballroom
*FREE Millenial Territory Orchestra (play to Laurel & Hardy) @
Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)
Robert Glasper Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Old 97's @ Rockin the River Cruise
Steve Miller Band @ PNCBank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
Amfibian @ Lion's Den

Rock the Bells @ Randall's Island
Dave Brubeck @ Planting Fields Arboretum (Oyster Bay, LI)
Sonic Youth @ McCarren Park Pool (Brooklyn)
*Robert Glasper Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Lucinda Williams @ Brookhaven Ampitheater (Farmingville, LI)
The Join @ Highline Ballroom
Poison, Ratt @ PNCBank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
Steve Miller Band @ Jones Beach (Wantagh, LI)
David Kolker Band @ Bitter End

Robert Glasper Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Rock the Bells @ Randall's Island
Guster, Ben Kweller @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
*FREE TV On the Radio @ McCarren Park Pool (Brooklyn)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)

Click here for upcoming shows

19 July 2007

minimix: Jazzercise.4 (07)

Combining two regularly scheduled mixes and giving you some new-this-year jazz music this week. Although very little of it fits neatly into the "jazz" cubby hole. I can say it's all fantastic,
oftentimes sick and you should go out and buy as much of this as you can dig, ya dig? While that's always the case implicitly, these guys could probably use the help more than those regularly featured here.


Download the mix

01 Miss Teardrop -- Billy Martin & John Medeski: Mago
02 Twelve -- Wayne Krantz: Your Basic Live '06
03 Maiden Voyage/Everything In Its Right Place -- Robert Glasper: In My Element
04 The Comet -- Tin Hat: The Sad Machinery Of Spring
05 Giant -- The Bad Plus: Prog
06 Yezriel -- Marc Ribot: Asmodeus: Book Of Angels Volume 7

Previously in minimix:
Jazzercise.3 (d)
Jazzercise.2 (g)
Jazzercise.1 (p)

even more new music
more new music:
Comes Alive Vol. 2
Old & New

18 July 2007

Review: Marc Ribot|St. Vincent


World Financial Center, 17 July 2007

After two weeks at work where it seemed like everything was conspiring against me, it was nice to have a night like I did on Tuesday: a tailor-made two-step that seemed served up especially for me. I thought I'd be able to duck out of my workday a little earlier than I did, but even there, those rascally music gods were messing with me. The drive, parking and quick train ride to the World Financial Center got me there such that my last footstep into the plaza happened just as the clock struck 7pm... Mr. Marc Ribot was announced and not a moment too soon, he was entertaining a pretty full house. Free Marc Ribot = FREEBO!

I've always maintained that to truly appreciate Marc Ribot is to know his entire repetoire: from his side gigs supporting guys like Tom Waits, to his more up-front role in the vast Zorn catalog to his own wealth of projects. To me, it's like there's just one Marc Ribot gig that started whenever it was that he started playing and is still going on -- each night on stage is just the most recent advancement of the overall oeuvre. As such, there are two levels to appreciate his genius: the immediate music at hand -- the notes and tone and vibe of the here and now -- and that same music of the moment as considered in the context of everything else. Hard to explain, but an example: you appreciate the ultra-wicked rock/funk of Ceramic Dog a little bit differently if you've seen Marc pop balloons between his legs at a Book of Heads gig; the whacked out inversion of Spiritual Unity takes on a different heft when you consider that this is the same guy that both out-grooved MMW on many occasions and can bring you to the verge of tears with the beauty of his solo acoustic playing. All that is a longwinded way to say that the free show Tuesday night was the perfect format to get the most Ribotflavin for your buck.

The show was set up in 3 stages: a few tunes solo acoustic, a set of Spiritual Unity and a set of Ceramic Dog. Marc wasted no time getting deep into it, making wily work of his guitar with a nice level of volume and energy to fill the post-work crowd. The playing was loose and jangly -- this was not precise Marc Ribot, but rather high-octane soulful Marc Ribot; playing and singing from deep in his heart.

This is as good a place as any to point out the inherent yet un
spoken irony of the gig from a philosophical point of view. Marc Ribot plays World Financial Center. The guys enjoying their beers along the sidewalk cafes on either side of the performance area may very well be the same folks waiting to move into the condo that shoved Tonic out of town. Ribot's recent rants (you go Marc!) concerning the state of the downtown/NYC music scene border on the Communist at times and yet here he is playing in the heart of capitalism, with the security guards flashing signs of the new American fascism with their "you can't take no pictures here, this ain't a public place" bullshit. Certainly we would be entertained by some soapbox special, a little to-the-man sticking?
None of that. Nothing explicit at least. Marc's big "fuck you" came in the form of the Spiritual Unity set that segued very nicely as his band hopped on stage and eked their way into the mix during his last solo number. They proceeded to play a strong 45 minutes of what I like to call musical babble. It reminded me strongly of the Cecil Taylor set I caught earlier this year and not surprisingly, Henry Grimes was the bass player for both bands. Grimes is one of these old timers that seems way out there -- just one groovy looking cat with sparkly stickers on his instrument which is a cosmic shade of seafoam green (somewhat matching his headband). The entirety of the set seemed dominated by his playing -- an amelodic low end that meanders in some indeterminate Brownian motion and yet hypnotizes and overwhelms. Ribot has the ability to swallow other musicians with his playing but he's just as comfortable letting his guitar get swallowed by others. In Spiritual Unity, the latter is the case with Grimes and Roy Campbell on trumpet taking the reins much of the way... insofar as there are reins to take and a direction to go in. The music was like the result of taking the music you'd like to listen to and turning it inside out and maybe flopping it upside down as well. Not really the kind of relaxing, easygoing atmosphere that most of your early-evening free shows provide. And really, I can only enjoy it so much in such a setting. The real enjoyment for me comes from that context, the framing of the overall Ribot experience which got a mini-showing at the WFC, sandwiching this set between the lovely, ultra-accessible acoustic hit and the delicious Ceramic Dog.

After a short break (though man, it would have been cool if they did another band segue!), the last act took the stage. Ceramic Dog has Ribot joined by Shahzad Ismaily on bass and mini moog and Ches Smith on drums in one of those atypically typical guitar/bass/drums arrangements. The first thing that struck me with these guys was the pure joy the two rhythm guys were taking in playing this music with Marc. This energy permeates the music and brings the whole thing to that special place. Just like Spiritual Unity seemed not to be united at all, but rather a loose federation of notes and ideas, Ceramic Dog was not some fragile little trinket on a mantelpiece somewhere out of reach. Each piece had a deep, seat-shifting groove that all three locked into in equal amounts leading to ultimate listenability and maximum enjoyment. It took long enough to get there, but at long last we got heavy doses of true-to-form Marc Ribot shredding. Just next-level stuff that was brilliant in the moment and even more soul-satisfying when taken in full context of the evening or that overarching everlasting Ribot moment.


Bowery Ballroom (4), 17 July 2007

It was an easy hop onto the J-Train from the WFC and I was on my way to the Bowery Ballroom. It is rare that the J comes into my life, but I was thankful for its ability to plant me directly in front of the club with due dilligence. The J strikes me as one of those shared experiences that brings some subtle joys to those who use it regularly -- like a shared secret in which impromptu communities pop up around. Like those musicians that get under your skin quick and easy and yet don't seem to gain that mass appeal
that you know deep down they deserve. This will most likely not be a problem with St. Vincent. Sure, I've spent my share of 1's and 0's on this site singing her praises, all but buying you tickets and arranging for your transportation to the gig and yet I'm not sure I convinced a single soul to check her out Tuesday night (speak up if you were there!). My powers of persuasion seem to be slipping, but that don't make me any less sure of myself.
Nor should it... don't expect my bordering-on-obsession to subside any time soon especially after finally getting the new debut St. Vincent album and catching this show at the Bowery. Good grief dear readers! Ms. Annie Clark as got it. Let's review here (February opening for Midlake), and here (April opening for John Vanderslice) where I fell hard and then even harder for the brilliance that is St. Vincent. Those gigs seemed from another world and another time but as new and fresh as anything I've caught wind of in a long while. A true testament to the concept of the opening act. Those were solo gigs which was part of the charm for sure... Tuesday was a headlining full-band event. Would it make a difference? Solo, Annie's music is pure beauty; with a full band, it's even more beautiful. Solo, it's got awesome rageability; with a band it rages even harder. Solo, she is quirky, funky, off-kilter and brimming with the poise and confidence of a seasoned rock star; with the full band she will eat you for lunch between two slices of seedless rye.

The band has a drummer and bass player backing up as wel
l as a violin dude adding flourish and a little extra oomph. Does it need extra oomph? I would have said no, but having seen and heard the result, I'm all for it. The music was almost entirely from the album, Marry Me, and after two gigs I was plenty familiar with almost all of it, but of course, everything takes on a new life in this new context. I knew it was going to be a special set from the get-go, but when the sweet and sour "Now. Now." flipped into a blazing short noise jam that would have made Marc Ribot proud, I really lost all sight of where the ceiling might be. The band was four strong, but there was so much more going on in there. Annie is a veteran of the Polyphonic Spree as well as a former Sufjan Stevens band member and she's taken a lot of the best of those two bigger-is-better enterprises and made her own brand of, in my opinion, tastier symphony. Somewhere in the background she's got special effects support laying down samples and programmed drum sequences and a whole slew of other goodies that fit in perfectly. It almost reminded me of the way Benevento/Russo have taken their sound to new height along the technological axis. Annie seemed genuinely overwhelmed at her newfound prospects. The room was pretty full, more than I might have guessed and the crowd was enthusiastic almost to a fault. There was just a touch too much banter coming from the audience, particularly the upstairs tables. Stuff ot the cornball "I love you!" screams to the annoyanth degree. But really, who can blame 'em, I love you too, St. Vincent! She remarked at how blown away she was that she had an album out that you could go buy and she expressed her feelings in such a way that made you realize just how mind-blowing that could be. One minute you're struggling to find your sound, the next people are downloading your music from iTunes and snapping photograph after photograph of you from the side of the stage of one of the bitchingest clubs in the world.

In light of all that, she kicked some serious booty. I can honestly say I loved every minute of it. The band behind her was able but not overwhelming. They brought out the richness of the songs, those wonderful songs, without shadowing what makes Annie Clark St. Vincent. She is the queen of "ba da dee dums" if ever there was one and a songbird in every sense of the word. And yet, that petite little songstress can really shred on the guitar when she wants to. I'd love to see that confidence evolve into some wing-stretching somewhere down the road. As it stands, there are several numbers where the band seems to carve out a little space. Not anything extended or what I'd come close to calling jamming per se, but just sticking their elbows out a little and making some room for a moment or two: that rage-out in "Now Now," the dreamy coda to "Lips Are Read," etc.

This is good music at its most pure. Love songs, perfectly conceived and executed; synergy between a beautiful voice and the right touch of guitar; wit in melody. But most of all it makes me happy. Go see St. Vincent.

17 July 2007

Photo: Randomitis

In the spirit of our last random crop of 6 tunes for the minimix, here are 6 random items/thoughts/etc. with some tunes included, of course.

  1. Let's get to the tunes right away. Tonight I'm hoping to hit a super self-made double bill. Marc Ribot (FARTS mix here) is playing for free early and then St. Vincent at the Bowery Ballroom. Here is the sickest guitar playing you'll ever hear, bonus Ribot download, from live The Gift show a few years back. Quick-and-easy download, you won't be sorry!
  2. Pictured above is my new home, workwise, at least. We're having an open house thingie on Sunday. If you're in the neighborhood (say, in town for Panic, or going to the beach) and always wondered what OTW's day job was, feel free to stop by.
  3. Note: No I don't want to hear about your iPhone or any other Mac related love you've got to share. I'm glad you're happy with your computer. I am too. STFU.
  4. Is it just me or are there a whole slew of rabbits running about? I've never seen so many as I have this summer. I actually saw two of them have a fistfight in my backyard early one morning, I kid you now. Is this related to the disappearance of the bees?
  5. I didn't know it was possible, but my ability to listen to Warren Haynes has reached it's limit. This happened halfway through listening to a Phil Lesh Quintet show from a couple years back. Dun.
  6. Shot my still-shitty-but-it's-something best round of golf this season this past Sunday. Bethpage Green. Got there at 4:30, 6:10 tee time, done by 11. That's living. There's something about golf... I've got a million things going on in my life and yet my brain still seems to be able to settle on thinking about it whenever it can. Played with 3 Japanese guys who didn't speak hardly none English whatsoever. Some things are universal, though... very quickly learned the equivalent of "shit/fuck/cocksucker."

15 July 2007

Shows of the Week

This week is not weak, at all. Opposite even. Yes, I know I picked 2 shows for Tuesday, hit them both and call me in the morning.


Click here for upcoming shows

The Decemberists, Grizzly Bear @ Summerstage
A Big Yes And A Small No @ Luna Lounge (late)
Papa Grows Funk, Jamie McLean Band @ Highline Ballroom
*Kicksville @ Lyceum (Brooklyn)
Adam Rodgers @ 55 Bar (late)
Spiraling et al @ Club Midway
Bob Hoffnar's Quartet @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Arrested Development @ BB King's
Buddy Guy, Robert Cray Band @ North Fork Theater (Westbury, LI)
Oz Noy Trio @ Bitter End

*FREE Marc Ribot @ World Financial Center
*St. Vincent @ Bowery Ballroom
Erik Friedlander @ Joe's Pub (early)
Club D'Elf et al @ Crash Mansion
Papa Mali @ SOB's
Jamie T, Illinois @ Union Pool
Jaik Miller Band @ Luv 24/7
Charles Gayle Trio @ Zebulon (Brooklyn)
Mark Helias @ 55 Bar (late)
Lemonheads @ Warsaw (Brooklyn)
King Wilkie @ Mo Pitkin's (late)

Ani Difranco @ Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)
Tool @ PNC Bank Arts Center
Slick Rick @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise on the Temptress
FREE James Hunter @ Shake Shack
They Might Be Giants (Corn Mo opens) @ Bowery Ballroom
The Mooney Suzuki @ Mercury Lounge
50 Cent @ Hard Rock Cafe
FREE Wolff & Tuba @ Piano's Lounge
Donny McCaslin @ 55 Bar (late)
Red Stick Ramblers, King Wilkie @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Leon Russel @ The Concert Hall
Prince Paul @ Galapagos (Brooklyn)
*FREE Toumani Diabate @ Rockefeller Park

*FREE Drive-By Truckers @ Castle Clinton
PBS @ BB King's
Jason Isbell @ Mercury Lounge
FREE Blind Boys of Alabama, Trombone Shorty @ Pier 54
David Grisman Quintet @ Rockin the River Cruises
FREE Alloy Orchestra (plays to "Blackmail") @ Prospect Park (Brooklyn)
Jason Crosby Band @ Ace of Clubs
FREE Toumani Diabate @ BAM Metrotech (noon)
The Black Hollies et al @ Knitting Factory (early)
David "Fathead" newman @ Iridium (early/late)
FREE Arrested Develpment @ Hebert Von King Park (Brooklyn)
Yonder Mountain String Band @ Ridgefield Playhouse (Ridgefield, CT)
Lemonheads @ Warsaw (Brooklyn)
FREE John Hammond @ Wagner Park
FREE Ruben Studdard @ South Street Seaport

*FREE Neko Case (Eric Bachman opens) @ Summerstage
Widespread Panic @ Radio City Music Hall
Jerry Joseph & Jackmormons @ BB King's (late night)
Gogol Bordello @ Fillmore
David "Fathead" newman @ Iridium (early/late)
Circus Mind @ Chesterfield's (Huntington, LI)
Angel of Death @ The Stone (early/late)
King Wilkie @ Housing Works Book Store
Fun, The Noisettes @ Studio B (Brooklyn) (late)
Kenny Barron Trio @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Reed Foehl et al @ Rockwood Music Hall
FREE Bishop Allen, Rock Plaza Central @ South Street Seaport
Battles @ Studio B (Brooklyn) (early)

Jerry Joseph & Jackmormons @ Rocks Off Concert Cruise Aboard the Temptress
FREE New York Dolls, Dr Dog et al @ Siren Festival (Coney Island)
Aimee Mann @ Warsaw (Brooklyn)
Hot Tuna (Oteil & The Peacemakers open) @ North Fork Theater (Westbury, LI)
Kenny Barron Trio @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
*Widespread Panic @ Radio City Music Hall
Eric Bachmann @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
FREE Lou Reed, Steven Bernstein at al @ Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)
Adam Deitch Project w/ E. Krasno @ Mercury Lounge (late)
David "Fathead" newman @ Iridium (early/late)
FREE Sudanese Music Fest @ Summerstage
FREE Richie Havens et al @ Governor's Island
The Moonlighters et al @ Googie's Lounge
Amayo's Fu-Arkistra @ Zebulon (Brooklyn)
Hackensack Boys (CD release) @ Knitting Factory (early)
Gogol Bordello @ Fillmore

FREE Band of Horses, Annuals @ McCarren Park Pool (Brooklyn)
*Zorn, Blumenkranz, Burgon, Mori et al @ The Stone (early/late) (benefit)
Hot Tuna (Oteil & The Peacemakers open) @ Bergen PAC (Englewood, NJ)
Brazilian Girls @ Summerstage
Aimee Mann, Martin Sexton @ Planting Fields Arboretum (Oyster Bay, LI)
Robert Randolph @ Ridgefield Playhouse (Ridgefield, CT)
Kenny Barron Trio @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
ZZ Top, The Pretenders, Stray Cats @ Jones Beach (Wantagh, LI)
David "Fathead" newman @ Iridium (early/late)
Cory Brannan et al @ Mercury Lounge
FREE Dan Zanes @ Prospect Park Bandshell (5pm)

Click here for upcoming shows

12 July 2007

minimix: Shuffleupagus.2

Another completely, 100% random crop of six tunes as picked for you by iTunes, without further comment. Prize to she who can tie these together in a coherent way. Yale, I owe you one from last time...

Download the mix

01 Chicago People -- Sam Prekop: Who's Your New Professor
02 These Dreams of You -- Van Morrison: Moondance
03 All on a Mardi Gras Day -- Dr. John: Montreux Jazz Festival 30 June 1973
04 Tyrone -- My Morning Jacket: Live on KVRX 15 October 2000
05 The Model -- Belle & Sebastian: Our Favourite Party Songs
06 Haven't Got A Clue -- The Flaming Lips: At War With The Mystics

Previously in minimix:

Links: Download Update

Mondo busy at work this week, barely time to troll the interweb for some semi-decent links... so I'm copping out with a check in on my Mediafire account. Topped 2000 downloads recently.

Here are the present top 10 (prev. rank)

  1. WSP Reno 3/29/97 Part 1 (1)
  2. Arcade Fire 17Feb97 (2)
  3. Best of 2006 disc 2 (3)
  4. minimix 6apr07 -- Americana Is Beautiful.1 (5)
  5. WSP Warfield 3/31/97 Part 1 (6)
  6. Reno 97 part 2 (4)
  7. minimix 8jun07 -- Comes Alive Vol 3 (new)
  8. Best of 2006 disc 1 (7)
  9. minimix 6jul07 -- HORDEstalgia (new)
  10. minimix 27apr07 -- Phishtalgia.1 (8)
[Dropped out: WSP Warfield 3/31/97 Part 3; minimix 16mar07 -- Comes Alive Vol. 2; minimix 16feb07 -- F.Art.S. Vol 2 (Herring)]

New mix tomorrow...

11 July 2007

Photo: New Pornographers


Battery Park, 4 July 2007

Despite the threat of rain the whole OTW family made it into Manhattan on Independence Day for some free music courtesy of the good folks at RiverToRiver. We've never been around on the holiday to take advantage of what is always a very attractive show, so unfriendly forecast or not, we weren't going to let this opportunity slip by. This year's offering was Midlake opening for The New Pornographers -- not too shabby, although how they get these utterly unAmerican acts to play on July 4th is beyond me (last year was the Scottish Belle & Sebastian, I believe).

Getting into the show was easy as could be and there was plenty of room to throw down a blanket wherever we pleased. We fortuitously picked a spot right under a tree and pretty much right on the spot, Midlake took the stage. As you know, I'm a big fan of Midlake so I was happy as could be. While their quiet, understated songs competed with the empty space, the crowd and the whistling winds, the guys from Denton, TX didn't fail to disappoint. Certainly the more rocking numbers came off better in this quasi-festival setting, but even the more subtle stuff felt right. The moody setting, with the grays-upon-grays of the storm watch afternoon sky was an appropriate backdrop to their music. But that's coming from a fan who's pretty familiar with their music.... in the end, though, maybe Midlake wasn't the best choice for this slot.

New Pornographers, on the other hand, were perfect. Peppy poppy and crowd-pleasing from the get-go, a no-work Wednesday afternoon could do a lot worse. The band did a real nice job mixing their new material (from upcoming album "Challengers") with the old. I would say that the new stuff felt pretty rough at times and at one point the drummer even jokingly confessed confusion as to which song they were playing. The older stuff, particularly the Twin Cinema material of which there was plenty, was kick-ass throughout.

The setlist: All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth / Use It / The Laws Have Changed / All The Old Showstoppers / Jackie Dressed In Cobras / Challengers / The Spirit Of Giving / Mass Romantic / From Blown Speakers / My Rights Versus Yours / The Jessica Numbers / Go Places / Mutiny, I Promise You / Twin Cinema / Sing Me Spanish Techno / The Bleeding Heart Show // These Are The Fables / Testament To Youth In Verse / The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism

[show available for download here via Dimeadozen]

Not too much to say about this one, just a helluva nice way to spend the day. Couple more random comments:

  • They were joined for the show by a mini-orchestra of a couple strings players a French horn and a couple others. These extra-curriculars were mixed in nicely to the point where I didn't even notice them most of the time -- they just complemented the music when necessary and hung back the rest of the time.
  • Decent stage banter, with the best line quoting Homer Simpson after pointing out the view of the Statue of Liberty from the stage [B Sharps episode]
  • Neko Case -- I wouldn't kick that voice out of bed for eating crackers.
When the rain started to fall, we barely felt a drop under the canopy of the tree. Couldn't have worked out better. Of course, we had to leave eventually, and right around the time of the encore, the rain started to get a bit on the downpour side, but we made it back to the train without melting.

Train > fireworks on the beach > bed.

09 July 2007

Nedstalgia: 15 Years Ago

Get Nedstaglic with Phish shows 1 & 2, #3; Mule; Widespread Panic; The Duo; Robert Randolph

Some tunes before we get started:

Read on for a heavy dose of Nedstalgia, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, old pix, videos, we've got it all...

This was a big one. I mean, they're all pretty good, or I wouldn't be wasting time blathering on about 'em like this, but really this one may be the granddaddy of them all. The moment where I can go back and pinpoint the true onset of my little live music "problem" -- where the show itself became the drug and the music the big enabler.

It started off innocently enough: a day off from job at summer camp, a bunch of friends heading back to Syracuse with our $10 (ten bucks! SHEESH!) tickets to the HORDE tour... what was really looking like a glorified Phish show. I remember stopping at my house beforehand and my mom had cut out an article about the show from the Post Standard. Except the article didn't really talk about Phish too much, more about these two bands from the South with a big trippy picture of the Aquarium Rescue Whoozits in full technicolor. Maybe we should get to the Fairgrounds early to check 'em out?

We rolled up easy as mincemeat and surveyed the grounds. Subsequent shows I've been to at the New York State Fair have been in the grandstand which is actually as it sounds, nothing too special. But this show was in the courtyard inside the fairgrounds themselves, a decent swath of grass with plenty of room to do whatever it is you might want to do. The smallness of the crowd made it feel that much larger. ARU was on stage when we arrived and already getting down to it with John Popper letting loose. After the requisite 15 minutes of hackey sack [mandated in the bylaws of live-concert-going circa 1992, it actually stipulated this on the back of my ticket] the music coming from the stage grew too damn interesting to ignore. I'll never forget looking over to the stage and seeing the boyfriend of one of our group (a guy we just met) just thrashing with his hands on the speaker stack while Col. Bruce and company were pushing the limits on volume and intensity. Man, life seemed much better when the speakers were just sitting on the stage and there was no consideration that our hearing might never survive til the age of the iPod.

Anyway, something drew me in and the next thing I knew I was a few feet from the stage and -- it was, if I remember correctly, Time Is Free -- the whole damned Unit (inc. Matt Mundy and the Count) + Popper were just locked into a groove that was unlike anything that ever made its way to my ears. That spiralling Time Is Free riff, I can hear it, see it, smell it. It's not like it was a new kind of music, it was like everything previous might not have actually been music at all. I was starting all over. And here -- right here -- here's where my life started to get a little more interesting... Jimmy Herring, Colonel Bruce, Dave Schools, John Bell... it all became a total blur and a little switch deep down in my undersoul that I didn't know a unkempt 18 year old from the northeast had... that little switch got switched and it's been 15 years of "you just don't get it" ever since. By the time they got to the cruel and unusual Widespreaquarium Rescue Panic clusterflux... well I'm pretty sure I crawled right out of my skin, molted snake and molten brains.

Five years ago, on the 10th anniversary of my first Panic, in the shadow of Mikey Houser's illness, I got down to my usually verbose self on the Spreadnet and reflected a bit. That post -- in three parts -- is here, here and here. So I'll refrain from too much more, but would encourage to click and read. It is sweet to think that the first time I laid ears on Widespread Panic they were bumping uglies with Jimmy Herring, though -- free-form filth.

Oh yeah, Phish played as well. That was really the summer where it became my mission to turn everyone I loved onto Phish and for at least those next couple of months it worked pretty well. The show was mediocre by the band's standards at that point, but it served its purpose. Reba, Antelope, Cavern... I loved it all, of course, but I really loved watching my green friends, the ones I loved, falling in love as well. For me, though, really, they were just the lure -- the whole point of the HORDE was the bait and switch. I can't imagine it worked on too many people or I wouldn't have had to travel to so many wherethefuckamI's to get my Panic fix... but it worked on me. Guess I was the sucker.

But as with the best shows, this was much more than just a concert. Hell, the guys I went to the show with are still some of my best friends and we probably quote at least one moment of hilarity from 7/10/92 every time we get together: from my drifting through 3 lanes of traffic trying to get a lit cigarette off my shoulder to my whacked out posse pulling an all-nighter with my dad's VHS collection (and the kind Roger Rabbit > Harry Met Sally segue that brought 'em on home). Really, it was one of those perforated moments in my life, where one could easily tear across the dotted line and separate the before and the after: the segue between high school > college, not knowing who WSP was > deep dark obsession... ARU > WSP. Smooth, tight, next-level.

By the time Blues Traveler took the stage (they closed the show) I was overloaded on musical insanity. The blur of ARU/WSP was like a brand on my brain -- I couldn't have differentiated between the two of them, but may have killed kittens to get more at that point. The Spin Doctors were a welcome dose of tangible rock and roll, they seemed to incredibly earthbound after those two. Phish pushed me over and after that we were relegated to tourists -- a bit to eat, hydration and an important purchase back in the merch section: my first Phish t-shirt. Amazingly, I still own this shirt, but I do not own this body or these boyish good looks any longer.

15 years ago this evening, I was so juiced on music, I literally sprinted through the parking lot. It's a feeling I continue to chase to this day. The wonderful thing about it, is that I fell so madly and deeply in love with what was in essence an opening band, another first for me and something that resonates with me all the time. Heck,some of the bands I'm most excited about today -- i.e. Emergency Party, St Vincent et al -- I discovered when they were opening up for someone else. I believe there is a moral in there, but for now, enjoy the tunes and these fun videos.

Part 2 of this inverview
; Part 3
The edited piece on MTV

There is a postscript to this post. Within 5 years I was Panic around the country as much as I could afford to. Leading us to Baltimore, MD 10 years ago yesterday. For Panic, Baltimore was most certainly "in the northeast" and the small-but-feisty crew made it to Pier 6 for the show. About all you need to know about this show is that they opened with Tie Your Shoes (quickly followd by a set-making Fishwater) and jammed the hell out of a lot of stuff. TieYourShoes>Fishwater,LastStrawHatfieldBlight...every Panic show should start off like this... but end a bit stronger. Listening to it 10 years later, it strikes me that this is the perfect Panic show in the fact that it is a pedestrian setlist, the playing is average-at-best Panic for spring/summer 1997, no fireworks, really no nuthin' and yet... if you were to stick me on a desert island with just this show to listen to, I'd be pleased as a pig-on-a-spit to the end of my days. Ain't that Widespread in a nutshell.

The show was at a great little outdoor amphitheater right on the harbor. The kind of place where Sunny's chimes would be ringing the entire set. Last year I was in Baltimore for work and staying in a hotel right on the harbor and I could see this venue from my window... although I had forgotten about the show. So I'm looking at this neat little spot and having weird deja vu flashbacks. I finally walked by the place and saw "Pier 6" on the side and it all came back: the wicked opener, the deeply nasty Ain't No Use and the premier of a new Mikey song: It Was You. It's worth a download just for that.

Somehow the show was the right combination of total disappointment and sheer sweetness that I was convinced to go to Hampton a few days later which was most certainly not in the northeast. I believe it was when Schools said "come on, come to Hampton" that we knew our fate was sealed, but still... idiots. Of course, it was totally worth it... and when I get my hands on the show again, I'll be sure to share. And if you're still reading -- wow!

Shows of the Week

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Ratdog/Keller WIlliams @ Summerstage
Mooney Suzuki @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Smokey's Roundup @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
*Benzos et al @ Knitting Factory
Little Richard @ BB King's
NOMO @ Joe's Pub (early)
FREE Chuck MacKinnon @ Lucille's
Art Brut @ Highline Ballroom

*Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
KT Turnstall @ Highline Ballroom
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + 2 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Bill Ogg, Jaik Miller Band @ Luv 24/7
J. Moran, R. Alessi, S. Colley, M. Ferber @ SIM (Brooklyn)
Band of Horses @ Hiro Ballroom
Medieval TV: Saft, Pride, Horist @ The Stone (early/late)

*FREE Spoon @ Rockefeller Park
String Cheese Incident @ Beacon Theater
Hall & Oates @ Nokia Theater
Jason Moran & The Bandwagon @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Sam Champion @ Piano's
FREE Femi Kuti et al @ Summerstage
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + 2 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
John Zorn Improv night @ The Stone (benefit)
FREE Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio @ Shake Shack
Greg Osby @ Birdland (early/late)
FREE Wolff & Tuba @ Piano's Lounge

String Cheese Incident @ Beacon Theater
Jason Moran & The Bandwagon @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Helmet Head @ Arlene's Grocery
Suzanne Vega @ Highline Ballroom
FREE Blind Boys of Alabama, Trombone Shorty @ Pier 54
Bob Schneider @ Knitting Factory
Stratospheerius @ Club Midway
*FREE Robert Glasper @ BAM Metrotech (noon)
The World Without Magic et al @ Piano's
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + 2 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Hall & Oates @ Nokia Theater
FREE Ron Sexsmith @ Castle Clinton
Dragons of Zynth @ Solar One
Dub Trio, The Giraffes @ Luna Lounge (Brooklyn)
Bill Horist @ The Stone (early/late)
Tim Fite et al @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Radiators @ Rockin' the River Cruise
The Head Set @ The Annex

*FREE Menomena @ South Street Seaport
String Cheese Incident @ Beacon Theater
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + 2 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Jason Moran & The Bandwagon @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Afroskull @ Two Boots (Brooklyn)
Bob Schneider @ Knitting Factory
James Goode @ The Stone (early/late)
Amayo's Fu-Arkistra @ Zebulon
FREE Zoe, The Pinker Tones @ Prospect Park bandshell (Brooklyn)
The Dansettes, Young Jessie et al @ The Hook (Brooklyn)
Jessica Lurie @ Tea Lounge (Brooklyn)
Ozric Tentacles @ Highline Ballroom
Hugh Masekela @ Rockin' the River Cruise
EOTO @ BB King's (late night)

Jason Moran & The Bandwagon @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
FREE Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Melvin Sparks et al @ Kingsborough
College (Brooklyn)
FREE Les Savy Fav, Budos Band, O'Death et al @ Stuyvesant Cove Park
String Cheese Incident @ Beacon Theater
Pharaoh's Daughter et al @ Highline Ballroom
Colin Hay @ Carl Pfeifer Perf. Arts (Wyckoff, NJ)
Chris Berry & Panjea @ Highline Ballroom (late night)
Carla Kihlstedt/Satoko Fujii @ The Stone (early)
*FREE Cafe Tacuba, Pacha Massive, La Sista @ Summerstage
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + 2 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Michelle Shocked @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Brooklyn Philharmonic w/ Mark O'Connor @ Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)

Paul Motian Trio 2000 + 2 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
FREE The Mammals, The Wiyos et al @ Kingsborough Community College (Brooklyn)
*Jason Moran & The Bandwagon @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
FREE Frank London's Yiddish Carnival @ Prospect Park Bandshell (Brooklyn)
Besnard Lakes, Dirty On Purpose @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Dark Star Orchestra @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Secret Chiefs 3 play Masada @ The Stone (early/late)
FREE Ponderosa Stomp @ McCarren Park Pool (Brooklyn)

Click here for upcoming shows