Psapp | Juana Molina | Jose Gonzalez @ Bowery Ballroom

What better way to start the summer than with a perfect billing at Bowery Ballroom. Most of you have probably already heard of Psapp’s quirky music on Grey’s Anatomy opening theme (a show that has incredible taste in music throughout each episode) and this was my first time seeing them live. Psapp is the London-based duo Carim Clasmann and Galia Durant whose mutual obsessions for odd noises and toy instruments result in a sound so unique and intriguing. The music is folky, electronic, glitchy and poppy and surprisingly translates very well on stage. Durant has a sultry voice which is a jarring juxtaposition when she starts to sing about cats and childish memories. At one point a hand puppet in the shape of a cat appeared and started to have a conversation with Galia, which didn’t surprise me considering most of her songs and videos are about cats. Even their top 8 friends on their myspace page consists of cats. The band had such a genuinely great time on stage and it permeated into the crowd. I found it hard not to jump onstage to tinker with their plastic noise contraptions and join the party.

I am always excited to see Juana Molina perform live. Her songs are so delicate and enchanting and sometimes downright eerie. She has an ability to fuse unique sounds and textured melodies with her flowing vocals. Her live performances are special and introspective and she somehow manages to control all the varied instruments on stage to create her compositions. She had a good audience and Bowery may have been her biggest show in the states thusfar. She played a few new songs but actually took requests from me and this girl dancing next to me. She even played mine as the finale to her set. Gracias Juana!
Her new album Son is filled with many gems and is a good extension from her last album Tres Cosas, and has quickly become one of the best albums of the year for me. This album also includes references to cats with a chorus of meows found on “Un Beso Llega”. Be patient and let this Argentine singer take you on a wonderous and complex journey, and definitely try to see her live.

Seeing Jose Gonzalez live is always an enjoyable experience. Armed with only a classical guitar and a delicate voice, he creates well crafted folk songs. As usual, he was very shy on stage letting his music do all the magic. My only complaint is that except for 1 song, he did the same exact set from his last performance at Joe’s Pub. Considering he has been non-stop touring, I’m not surprised he hasn’t been able to work on new material. He again covered Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” who is playing Roseland in October, and ended with his version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.

Pictures from the show.


The Diggs | Midlake @ Mercury Lounge

Wow, The Diggs AND Midlake on one night for 10 bux?? Boy am I happy. (Unfortunately I missed The 1900s which I heard put on a killer show. The Diggs are a local trio that have been making their rounds in NY for some time now and always seem to impress me. Their songs are a throwback to all that was good in “indie rock” back in the 90’s but giving their songs more dimension and time to develop. Their songs are extremely catchy that go from hypnotic to foot stomping epic. The band and lead singer still reminds me of that great band from Buffalo, Tugboat Annie. Whatever DID happen to them?? Tonight The Diggs out on probably the best show I have ever seen. They debuted 2 new songs that were just as solid as their Orange EP. As usual they ended with “Trouble Everyday” which quite possibly be one the best closing songs ever. Can’t wait for the full length.

Ok, I absolutely LOVE Midlake. Very rarely does a band like this come around that combines so many influences and expressions in music and art. Their debut album Bamnan and Slivercork last year was one of my top 5 albums of the year and it’s one that I return to often. It’s full of beautiful and disturbing soundscapes with lyrics that compliment the dreamy soundtrack from this Texas quintet. Along with the many bodies, the stage was COMLETELY packed with all their varied equipment, including a film projector. I was amazed on how well they performed their psychedelic songs live and I must admit it was strange to hear some of these songs in a live setting. Their songs were complimented with videos projected on the back wall adding to the overall mood of the set. There soon was a long line at the sold out Merc to get a peek of this incredible band. They played their 2 hits “Balloon Maker” and “Roscoe” first which was a quite interesting beginning. “Roscoe” may very well be one of the best crafted songs ever. Their new album “Van Occupanther” holds just as much magic as their first album and it’s expected to be one of the best when it comes out late July. By the 5th song I knew I was experiencing something special at the small club and completely lost myself to the music and imagery. Do yourself a favor and let Midlake take you along on their dreamy journeys.

Pictures from the show.
Young Bride Video from Van Occupanther


Devin Davis @ Mercury Lounge

Alright, I’ll be the first to say it. Devin Davis is the new John Vanderslice. Luckily he’s stopped playing solo and brought a band with him to fully capture the simple genius in his songs. His recent album “Lonely People of the World, Unite!” was one of the gems of 2005. Although it may have the assumption an album full of misery and isolation, instead it’s full of intuitive quirky songs that do a great job of telling fantastic stories. At some points becoming exclamations of how wonderful trivial life is. His song titles quickly capture the unique lyrics contained within and sometimes the very surreal journey the song goes to.
Devin Davis live is yet another dimension. He looks exactly what you would think of but his demeanor is a façade for the energetic show he put on. He played his introspective songs delicately and completely rocked out his heavier numbers. Although not that many people were at the show, he played his heart out and I was glad he played his wide range of melodies. Devin Davis is a becoming a distinguishable song writer who can also full realize the sounds floating around his head. He’s also not afraid to experiment and have fun with the indie music, which sometime includes his theremin.

Pictures from the show.

Holy Fuck / ¡Forward Russia! @ Mercury Lounge

Can you dance to distorted experimental 8-bit melodies? YES. Canada’s Holy Fuck combines experimental electronic loops distorted over live drums and guitar. They do NOT use computers or midi sequencing devices and everything is created live in a very chaotic setting. The electronic portion of the sound stems from 2 members surrounded with an abundance of old synthesizers and arrays of pedals. There even was some 35mm film editing contraption that was converted to produce crazy analog sounds. The music is a collection of scattered glitches and beats somehow held together to created melodies that got everybody dancing and yelling “Holy Fuck” throughout the entire set. In the end it sounded like if Einstürzende Neubauten took Nintendo games systems and threw them into a blender. I was completely blown away by their IDM rock n’ roll, dancing wildly as I was no longer in control of my body and wanting to hit my head repeatedly against the wall .

Songs titles and lyrics based of numbers? ¡Forward Russia! formed in 2004 in the U.K. and has been getting a ton of buzz considering they were everywhere at SXSW. It was their first time in NY and they played to a very eager NY audience. The music was intense and emotional involving screaming nonsensical lyrics over pounding beats coming from Katie, their incredible drummer. The lead singer was completely spastic onstage getting entangled with the microphone cord to the point of strangulation. The band created these intense walls of noise to just be destroyed by the wailing voice of Tom as he frantically jumped across the stage. The last song was a culmination of energy and Tom jumped into the crowd nearly knocking me over in the front row. I was captivated by the sound of hardcore music combined with experimental melodies. This band is drop-kicking the stagnant music of ’06 and just got signed to Mute records so expect your eardrums to reverberate some more in the future. These guys kept partying at the after concert party despite having to get on a plane at 9AM to kick ass in San Francisco. An incredible evening.

I didn’t take any pictures because EVERYONE was taking a ton of pictures with their damn flash. Soon concerts will be ruined by all these stupid amateur photographer blogger peoples like me. Why do you have to take over 200 pictures in one set???

Here’s a round up of the best shots.

Rough mashing of the audio of ¡Forward, Russia! “Twelve” with the Sesame Street Pinball Video.

Decision Time

Pacific Street Station, 9:30 AM. Morning Commute.
Train arrives, doors open and the people start getting on the train. As a woman gets on, her arms quickly outstretch to hold the doors open holding everyone back. Her sandal fell of her foot into the gap. That gloomy dark space between the subway and the platform. Her sandal is gone. Do you
1. Get on the train to go to work with one shoe
2. Stay on the platform, let the train go and hope to get your sandal back (wrestling it away from the rats)
3. Decide it’s “going to be one of those days” and go home.