The Magnetic Fields @ Town Hall

Four sold out shows at Town Hall?! The Magnetic Fields comes back home to promote their new album Distortion which sounds like one of their albums pumped through a broken amp. They played the 3 best (only good) songs off the album and I wished they were distorted. This show sucked on so many levels. There was no stage presence and Stephen was aloof and acted like a baby, but that’s no surprise. The sound was low, the band was dead and it translated into the music, focusing on the more depressing and slower songs off their vast catalogue. The scientific picture above was more interesting than the show.

Dirty on Purpose | Band of Horses

OK, I’ll be honest. I really only wanted to go see Dirty on Purpose and have an excuse to check out the Brooklyn Masonic Temple. The building interior was unfortunately uneventful and was also a poor place to hear music. It may have added to DOP’s crappy performance but these guys play more bad shows than good. I still don’t understand why they can’t translate their shoe-gaze compositions live. blagh.

Not sure why Band of Horses is still so popular considering their new album was such a snooze-fest. Although their live set was more enjoyable than listening and turning off their music at home, they didn’t come close to reproducing their production sound live. The Funeral songs were good but the evening quickly all started to sound the same. I still don’t understand why they need 7 people on stage. I guess so they can cover a bunch of Chicago and JJ Cale songs.

Pictures from the show.

Illinois | Nada Surf @ Bowery Ballroom

After seeing this band live, the fact that they come from Pennsylvania and called Illinois kinda makes sense. The music is a bit unpolished and all over the place, but they have a banjo and are entertaining on stage. They remind me of a jangly version of Menomena before they got all too serious.

Nada Surf has been one of those bands that have spent a long time in my life. Releasing numerous addicting records and seeing them live for almost a decade, they continue to impress me. However, I am pretty disappointed with their new release “Lucky.” The album is full of restlessness and loneliness but without the bright catchy instrumentation to bring you back around. Although the songs sounded better live, those were the slowest parts of their set, and nearly bored me to leave but luckily they bounced back with some of their better crafted pop songs. And then the band played along with a dancing crowd onstage, which seems mandatory these days at Bowery.

Pictures from the show.

Joanna Newsom @ BAM

It’s surprising to see Joanna Newsom selling out two shows at BAM only after two albums. I accidentally found out about her through a live cover by Final Fantasy in 2004 and have been hooked ever since. And tonight she is backed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra. Joanna sat dwarfed behind her harp and performed her delicate songs more richly than on record. It was easy to get carried away into her highly imaginative world she creates in her music. It was simply mesmerizing to watch her play. The night got better after intermission when Joanna changed into a fabulous little pink dress. They got some applause after talking about supporting Obama on their tour but the highlight was an incredible arrangement of “Peach, Plum, Pear”. They played some more old tunes and even a new one. A surprisingly amazing show.