African Night @ St. Nick’s Pub

Although it was freezing outside, inside St. Nick’s Pub the temperature was high with musical energy. In a tiny cramped corner 10 musicians including Abdoulaye Alhassane played body shaking African music that never tired. Starting at midnight and going well past 3 AM, the night proved to be a memorable music experience and one of those inexplicable New York moments.

Air Waves | Ida Maria @ Union Hall

I now regret giving up my tickets for the Ida Maria show at Mercury Lounge. Seems that she gave a killer performance the night before causing her to lose her voice. Coming from Norway she still exhibited pure energy and it’s obvious that she pours her heart out for every song. As the show went on she physically and musically deteriorated onstage but still pushed forward. I felt sorry for her as her voice continued to crack and screech on every song and then breaking strings on her guitar. Despite the poor music set you can still taste the intensity she put out. It was obvious that she was exhausted and her voice was spent but the crowd got her to play “Stella” for the encore. I think we’ll be hearing about her in 2009.

MusicSnobbery was at the Mercury show. Good writeup & pics here.
And you should check out her video for “Oh My God”

Okkervil River @ Bell House

Not a bad choice for the 1st show of the year and at the new Bell House. For the past couple years I’ve been enjoying their unique thematic folk albums including their new one “The Stand Ins.” They had a new member onstage and took me awhile to figure out that it was Lauren Gurgiolo of the DialTones. She provided some serious eye candy to the very crowded male stage. Although a solo heckler provided a needed distraction in the quiet and slow start of their set, I still found the bands’s sound… boring. I guess it took me a few songs to enter the musical wavelength of the band as the 2nd half proved much better and and energetic. The crowd got more into the music including this crazed fan that never stopped dancing and pumping his fists into the air. Awesomeness. Despite the decent set, that was the highlight of the show.