Elysian Fields | The National @ Bowery Ballroom

With different openers on each of the five nights, I felt this night had the best one with Elysian Fields. I’ve seen this band at much smaller venues, so Bowery would have been a challenge for their quiet sexy rock. Jennifer looked amazing in her glittery dress and played some good songs to a decent crowd. Although 2 of the band members had berets on, they complimented the sultry voice that came from the stage. The highlight was when they covered the Pixies “Monkey Gone to Heaven”. Before the song finished, Jennifer never said good-bye, picked up her purse and quietly left the stage. wtf.

I’m so glad that The National chose to play multiple nights at the better sounding Bowery Ballroom than at Webster Hall. It makes up for the venue switch they pulled on us last year. I’m not surprised they sold out all 5 nights.

So I knew this would be one of the quieter nights from The National, and starting off with “Start a War” would set the tone for the rest of the evening. They played many new songs off their latest The Boxer and the sound was good despite being heavy on the bass. I’m still surprised how much this band has matured through the years. Although The Boxer isn’t doing anything new and not pushing the band in any new directions, it’s a very solid album with some really good gems. The musical compositions are more rich and lyrically more beautiful. But this band really shines live especially on songs like “Mr. November”, “Abel” and their new song “Squalor Victoria“. Towards the end of their set, what seems like the trend now at Bowery, Matt jumped down to feed off the crowd during an emotional rendition of “Abel”. They played for over and hour and not a dull minute.

Pictures and video from the show.

Stereogum was there, so was You Nork.
The National

Montauk Century

Ok this year I made sure to get a good nights sleep and it made a huge difference. The ride was again well organized and very enjoyable. We even got those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches again!! Soooo yummy. We also started a new tradition of eating at the Crab Shack and enjoying their lobster rolls and beers before the final miles. We stayed at the Sail Inn again and celebrated a great ride and weekend.

Pictures from the ride.

The National / Arcade Fire @ United Palace Theater

Ok. This show eclipsed the Beirut show last night. The National started off their set with a bunch of new tracks off Boxer, their new album, and they sound as great live as they do on the record. Definitely going to be one of the better albums of the year. The band sounded great on stage and the big venue didn’t phase them, considering they’ve already played Webster Hall. They finally went nuts for “Abel” a kick ass song and just whetted my appetite for the shows at Bowery.

I had 1st row Loge seats for an incredible view of Arcade Fire. The venue was beautiful and a fitting setting for the new songs from Neon Bible. They started with “Keep The Car Running” and went into “No Cars Go”. The set consisted more of their powerful songs for a huge sound impact. I’ve seen this band a bunch of times and felt they were giving it their best tonight. I still love Regina and glad they played “Haiti”. For the encore Win invited everyone on stage for “Wake Up” and it was insane. What happened was nothing new concert-wise, but the combination of the triumphant song, the fans releasing their energy along with the band was magical. Haven’t felt something like that in a long time. That’s what live music should do to you and was so happy to be there. Win darted off the stage leaping over the chairs and I felt escaping with him and taking the music to the streets.

Many pictures and videos of the show.

The National
Arcade Fire

Final Fantasy | Beirut @ Bowery Ballroom

What a surprise to find out that Final Fantasy was to open up for the show. Owen’s last album “He Poos Clouds” was one of my favs last year but seeing him live is where he truly shines. His combination of organic and electronic melodies is delightful. His frail voice over the looped violin orchestrations is an amazing union of contrasts. Somehow after a few minutes he weaves these complex songs that are hypnotic and tonight were accompanied by these cute visual overhead projections made with cut paper and colored transparencies. He played 2 brand new songs, which were good, and many of my favorites including “This Is The Dream Of Win & Regine.” No covers this night but he ended his set joined with Beirut which was pretty awesome.

The many members of Beirut took the stage with applause. Many of us were eager to see this young musician considering his November show got cancelled so I was not surprised to see all 3 shows to sell out very quickly. The whole night was a musical blur, so I’m pretty sure they played “Postcards From Italy” first. Although the band was hung-over and it was a Monday night, the music was beautiful and rich, and the band was extremely tight. The crowd and band was asleep for the majority of the beginning of the set but as they played on, the music became more triumphant and the crowd more alive. The pinnacle had to be when they played a riveting version of “Mount Wroclai”. Zach’s voice is incredible and somehow comes out on top from all the instruments creating their unique Eastern European sound. We screamed for an encore and they played their last few on the floor with their fans. Kelly Pratt from Arcade Fire came from his show uptown to join in the fun as well. With their horns blaring and tambourines banging, the concert became an intimate party and the night became alive. The crowd and band went from being asleep to waking up the neighborhood and making Monday the new Friday night. Despite being completely exhausted, we made them come back out for a second encore to bid us farewell. I can’t believe this guy is only 21 years old, and I doubt he’s reached his potential yet. One of the more enjoyable shows at Bowery I’ve seen in awhile.

Pictures and videos from the show.

Final Fantasy

Katie Eastburn | Sunset Rubdown @ Bowery Ballroom

Playing solo from her band the Young People, Katie Eastburn had to compete with a very talkative crowd this night. Her soft delicate songs did not get the respect it deserved. People were yapping throughout her entire set and these 3 assholes were actually heckling her. I couldn’t believe it. The songs that I did hear from the clatter were beautiful and her piano playing and lyrics were very smart and intricate.

Sunset Rubdown took the stage to a very young and eager crowd. There was an abundance of hipsters and frat boys tonight to make an overall bad crowd. There was pot smoking and the assholes from before made it a point to ruin the show for those around them. I’m still perplexed why the band garnered so many of these type of fans to sell out Bowery. Were they expecting Wolf Parade? Regardless, Spencer Krug is highly talented and any project he participates in is worth lending an ear to.

It was his birthday and word has it that he was in a bad mood, which seemed plausible. He was very quiet on stage and the set did not have the same energy that I had witnessed last year (even with food poisoning). They played a bunch of new songs and although a decent set, I wasn’t impressed. They ended the evening with “The Empty Threats Of Little Lord” leaving the stage quickly and no encore. I regretted not opting to go to the Type O Negative show. His sans-candle birthday cupcake pretty much summed up the evening.

Pictures from the show.

Young People
Katie Eastburn myspace
Sunset Rubdown

Konono No 1 | Björk @ Radio City Music Hall

I love seeing Konono No 1 live, but felt awkward having to sit down during their upbeat rhythmic music. It was cool to hear their Congo drumming and finger pianos through their lo-fi speaker system, amplified inside the famous Music Hall.

Seeing Björk always gives me chills and everyone must see her perform live. The crowd erupted as soon as the 10 piece Icelandic Women’s Brass Ensemble ran across the stage in their fluorescent garments. She started the evening with “Earth Intruders” with Konono No 1 accompanying her. The stage even had some pyrotechnics which made the stage erupt with fire. She had many surprise guests including Min Xiao-Fen for the song “I See Who You Are” and my personal highlight when Antony Hegerty joined her to sing duet on “Dull Flame of Desire”. He actually jumped up and down in pure excitement. The stage was beautiful and good pacing throughout the show. I’m glad she played a bunch of Vespertine songs, (which is my favorite album) and even played “Army of Me” which blew me away. The laser light show that accompanied some of the songs were quite spectacular to see at the venue. The sound wasn’t perfect and the Medulla tracks were slow, and the set was short, but at least she came out for 2 songs for the encore. It was also cool to see the reactor instrument being used live.

Set list:
Earth Intruders 
/ Venus as a Boy
 / Aurora
 / I See Who You Are
/ Oceania
/ Dull Flame of Desire
 / All is Full of Love
 / The Pleasure is All Mine
/ Pagan Poetry
 / Jóga / 
Where is the Line
 / Army of Me
 / Innocence
 / Wanderlust / 
= The Anchor Song / Declare Independence

Pictures and videos from the show.
Pagan Poetry (live from the show)

Reactable Instrument (scroll down for Bjork clips)