Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Archive for November, 2006

The Lost City

Posted by xneverwherex on November 13, 2006

Its not so often that a movie really inspires me to find old history books and re-read things that I learned in college (I was a Latin American/Iberian Studies Major). This was one of those movies that did. The Lost City is Andy Garcia’s directorial debut and his 16-year labor of love. Its a beautiful story of a city, Havana, Cuba. For most of the actors in this movie, of Cuban descent, this movie is very important, as for they can no longer go back there, and are living in exile.

The story moves quickly with music taking us through every step of the film. The music captures the essence of Havana, Cuba, from the powerfulness of Afro-Cuban beats, to more popular Cuban music. The scenery is gorgeous, with views of the colonial city of Havana, to the gorgeous cabanas, to the crystal clear ocean.

What is interesting of the film is how the Fellove family begins to crumble. A family that is so filled with love slowly deteriorates, much the way the country of Cuba does. A well-to-do middle class family, with a father that is a professor at the university, Fico (Andy Garcia) who owns the Tropico cabana. But as it becomes apparent that the fall of Batista will be inevitable, and the children start joining Revolutionary armies, the family soon falls apart. One son joins up with the July 26 movement (Che Guevara’s), and another son joins a movement to reinstate the 1940’s Constitution. As the country soon falls, and Che and Fidel rise, choices need to be made. Families are forever torn apart, with many members taking exile in Miami and NYC. Most of these families will never see each other again.

What is unfortunate, unlike Spielberg’s name on the film, it will never been seen by most. It has terrific acting, with cameos from Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murry as the writer (interjecting about the absurdity that is going on), and a brilliant fictional story with historical overtones, its worth seeing in the way Schindler’s List is worth seeing. It doesn’t glorify Che, the way he is now seen on bumper stickers, shirts, etc. It shows Che for what he was and neither him nor Fidel walk away with clean hands. Che is said to have murdered a good 2000 people – which makes one wonder. For those wearing his shirt, I always wondered, did they take the time to read into Che and stop looking at him as a hero.

Unfortunately Cuba is not the only country to have gone through this revolution. Bolivia also had a similar revolution. So did most of Latin America at some point. History does repeat itself unfortunately, and maybe one day people will start to learn about Latin America and what really goes on.

So, if you have the opportunity to see this, please do! And if you have a chance listen to the commentary, and read what the actors had to say about filming this movie. It had an impact on everyone and knowing how it inspired these actors inspired me to start re-reading about some of the brilliant artists, poets and writers from Cuba. Marti was a brilliant poet. And there are so many others to name.


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Posted by xneverwherex on November 10, 2006


Johnette Napolitano – Joe’s Pub

Ventured on down to the East Village to finally go to Joe’s Pub. (Great suggestion Luke). Great little place, that is a very intimate place to see bands. Lots of small tables, barely big enough to keep your plates on. Good food and cake that is to die for.

Johnette – her name needs no introduction. How many Johnettes can one name. For me, theres only been one. Napolitano. The former lead singer of Concrete Blonde, with a voice that can hit amazing notes. Remember that overly popular song ‘Joey’, she sings it even better live. Playing acoustic, and living in the deserts of California (Joshua Tree), she is now creating art in addition to her music. I was lucky to see her play, as there weren’t a whole lot of shows. Johnette seemed excited, and there was lots to be excited about. New York had amazing weather – high 60’s -, the democrats (senate & house) are now in office, and an audience that adores her. What more can she want.

 At times, I imagined this might have been what it would have been like to see Janis Joplin play some small club. She came out talking about what a great time and great changes would be seen. She talked and talked about all the different things going on. From the outbreak of AIDS, to seeing friends die, and she had a story for most songs. Her voice has amazing range, and she is a great guitar player. Her Nick Cave cover (dueted with a guy in the audience) was quite beautiful. “New Orleans ain’t been the same since youve been gone” sounded incredible live, and her story accompanied with the song is quite haunting as well. She played for an hour, before she took off, coming back for an encore. The audience truely couldnt get enough of her. She was so grateful for everyone, it was great to see. She played music from Concrete Blonde, solo work and covers. It was a great combo. and showed just how much talent she still has. Oh, and of course, you can see her artwork on her website 🙂

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Pure Mourning…

Posted by xneverwherex on November 8, 2006

11/7/06 – Placebo and She Wants Revenge – Nokia Theater

Election Day in the City! First off, am I ever glad that the country got its ass on the right page and managed to get the democrats control of the house. lets see if we can get that senate control of the house. I’d like to think my former state of Virginia really did elect Webb. I was so hoping to be able to vote in the Virginia election, because unfortunately they need my vote a lot more than New York.

On to the music now friends.

Arrived at Nokia Theater. I’d like to start out by saying what a gorgeous venue this is. You go down an escalator and the rooms are spread out and huge. To the right is merch and a large bar. As you circle around to the left, theres lots more of coat check doors, a place to buy food (not too expensive, sandwiches, drinks, etc). and lots of display cases of Nokia phones. In general its just a really nice venue. The theater inside has seating all in the back part of the room, the front is a big stage with lots of open spaces, and 2 side areas for handicapped.

She Wants Revenge was the first band. Much like the first time I saw them, it was a similar set. Lots of dancing on stage. The music sounded great and the band was clearly enjoying themselves. Their singles definitely had the crowd dancing and singing along. With the finishing lyrics of “I want to fucking tear you apart”, as a great way to end their set.

Next up – Placebo. This was my first time seeing Placebo so I was beyond excited. Brian Molko is adorable and is an excellent guitar player. They immediately started out by playing some of the singles off of the new album. It was a great way to start the set. And then played other stuff from the album, as well as prior stuff. While they werent that close to the crowd, they made an effort to work the stage and jump down towards where the crowd was, which of course everyone loved.  Stefan Olsdal is an amazing bass player and he was so energized. Brian’s voice is hauntingly beautiful on stage and he really sang his heart out. Their cover of Kate Bush’s “Running up that hill” is amazingly good. I am not sure what is up with all the Kate Bush covers, but it must be the time.

My only disappointment was no “pure morning”. I have always loved that song, and figured as one of their biggest songs in the states, it would get played. Oh well. Another time. Placebo is definitely a band worth seeing once. Brian’s voice is so amazing that just to sit there and listen to him sing is definitely a treat.

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CMJ Closing

Posted by xneverwherex on November 6, 2006

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Dave & Pete - Birdmonster

Dave & Pete – Birdmonster,
originally uploaded by xneverwherex.

The Annex – Brooklyn Vegan Show – Takka Takka, White Whale
Sin-E – Underrated Show – Birdmonster, Ra Ra Riot, Division Day, The Head Set

Well CMJ came to a close on Saturday, but there were enough shows to keep someone busy all day. I ended up only going to see the day-shows as I just was exhausted from about 20 shows in 4 days. It was rough! But there were no complaints, as I had an amazing time.

Showed up at The Annex just around noon on Saturday morning. It was definitely an interesting experience seeing this club in the light of day. Most people showed up, looking half asleep and/or hungover, with lots of coffee. There were free sparks to definitely help wake up the crowd, and it was needed.

Takka Takka started off the morning. I must say, from the stuff I had heard I was not a big fan, but after seeing them live, it changed my mind. It was a perfect way for the morning to begin, with great melodies, and just a calmness to their whole set. The music all fit together really well, and the band performed a very solid set. It was enough to make me want to go see them again.

Next up was White Whale. I really liked their stuff, but for me it was a bit too loud for 1pm. I’m not sure my body was entirely awake, and the crowd was near packed at this point. It was hard to see at points, and I just found myself thinking about other things. Its definitely a band I’d need to see again, hopefully a bit later.

After a short stroll over to Sin-E, I was on for the best day of CMJ. While neither of these were actually CMJ shows, they still honored CMJ badges, so I’ll call them CMJ shows. Hannah and I arrived at Sin-E, to see the guys of Birdmonster hanging out outside the venue. Friendly as always, they seemed excited. We walked in to catch a handful of songs from The Head Set. The Head Set are a very pop-friendly band, and reminded me at times of U2. Soaring guitars, and great melodies. And what seemed like big songs. It was easy to get into their music. I really wish I had gotten to see more of their set, but that will have to wait for another time. Luckily for me they are NYC band.

Next up – Division Day. I was really excited to see Division Day, as the first time I saw Birdmonster one of the band members was wearing one of their shirts. I had noticed that the two of them play together quite frequently. So, I figured if Birdmonster were big fans of Division Day, I would be one too. And so right I was. The music was easy to get into, and with Pete up front cheering on the guys with such enthusiasm, it was hard to not be enthusiastic with him. They sound very indie pop and could easily be one of the new next big things. Pete joined them for a song onstage helping out with the drums, and it was fun to see everyone jam together.

After that was Ra Ra Riot. I had missed them the night before. The band consists of a violinst and cellist which is pretty cool. They really get into the music and their sound is a nice change from all the other pop. It stands out, and they are talented. Fun, pop music, it was hard not to start dancing. Their cover of “Hounds of Love” from Kate Bush, which also was recently covered by the Futureheads, but the Futureheads version to same. With all the other instruments the song is just beautiful. Granted, The Futureheads do have absolute incredible harmonies on that song, so they are each equally good. I cant wait to see them again.

And finally was Birdmonster. I had spoken with Pete before his set, telling him I had seen him the prior night, and how great the band was. Also was hoping that on a trip to SF, I might be able to see them in their hometown. Its looking very unlikely. Birdmonster is like a huge ball of energy, that just gets bigger and bigger until it has to break and the energy comes flying out at high speeds, full of emotion and intensity. And this describes the band to a tee. The guys have such a great time on stage together, in any picture one sees of them, they always have huge smiles. Its nice to see a band thats really happy to be playing and love what they do. Their set was beyond amazing, and Pete sounded great as always, while Dave was incredible on guitar, Justin solid on bass, and Zach excellent on the drums. Dave really rocked out on the guitar, so into the music feeding off of Justin and Pete’s energy.

All in all, this was by far the best set that I had seen. All the bands were so excited to be playing with each other, that it was a perfect line up.

Which means- how can I afford another trip to SF to see them on NYE?

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The Thermals/Birdmonster ROCK CMJ

Posted by xneverwherex on November 6, 2006

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11/3/06 – Birdmonster, Sam Champion, The Thermals – Studio B, Brooklyn, NY

Well this wasn’t an official CMJ show, but regardless the bands playing on Friday night ROCKED! I got to the club way out in Greenpoint fairly late on Friday night. Was waiting for my friend Hannah to show up in NYC, but unfortunately her bus broke down and she wouldnt arrive till after 11:30 pm. Which is the real bad news.

The good news is, I saw a portion of Birdmonster’s set and they tore it up! As always they were in fine fashion, and as noted in the pic, Pete had on his huge trademark smile. The band always seems so happy to be playing. On the final song, which I don’t even remember at this point, they brought up someone else (I’m guessing the guy was in another band) and him and Justin went crazy on the cymbals. It was so cool watching as they hammered away, cymbals flying through the air. And perhaps its fitting that a band named birdmonster ended with lots of things flying. One of the highlights of CMJ.

Next up was Sam Champion. While Im not one who likes to rip apart a band, I just could not get into the band. I really felt that they were lacking on energy, and following up after Birdmonster, it was a bit of a let down. They do have some catchy pop sounding songs, but nothing stood out in my mind.

It was a good thing that I didn’t leave after that, because the amazing Thermals would come up next. Hutch Harris, lead singer and guitarist of The Thermals is nothing but amazing. His piercing eyes, feel like electricity are racing through them as he plays his songs insanely fast, with a pop-punk sound. He gets so into the music, he is amazing to watch as is the rest of the band. The band goes crazy with each song, each one getting faster and more out of control than the prior one. Hutch was flying around the stage, bouncing all over the place, while the crowd was just a rush of people, bouncing, pushing, singing into one another. The set was quite short, but they did play a full 11- or 13 set song. With songs as quick and short as that, it’d have been fun to see them play a bit longer. But the band was truely wiped out by the end of the set, with Hutch’s shirt and face dripping with sweat.

This was by far the surprise of the night. Unfortunately, due to time I didn’t stay around to catch the Horrors, but I’m sure their set would have been just as great. At least one would like to hope.

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Lost in Greenpoint – CMJ Round 2

Posted by xneverwherex on November 3, 2006

11/2/06 – Polyvinyl Records Showcase with Headlights, Boris Yeltsin, Decibully and Cale

Was a bit disappointed I didn’t hit the free party with Extra Blue Kind. But I was running late as usual. So hopped on the L and headed over to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. So, Luke and I were talking about Boris Yeltsin, and when we got off the train a guy and girl came up to us to ask us for directions to the show. So we start talking and it turns out they are from Missouri, home of Boris Yeltsin. After a bit more talking, turns out Benjamin is the drummer for Foundry Field Recordings. And the band is playing on Saturday night at Crash Mansion with The Divorce who I had really wanted to see. So we all head on over to Greenpoint together, and I get incredibly lost. I have no clue which way the club is. So I ask a few people, and no one seems to have a clue where I am going. Finally after asking lots more people we find it. Ok, so a 3 minute walk took all of 30 mins. LOL. So much for my great sense of directions.

Arrive at Europa. Cool club with a stage upstairs. The stage is quite small but on a platform and the room is decent size. With lots of tables, bar stools, and couches along the far wall. The crowd surprisingly isn’t the epitome of indie hipster, but very casual, laid-back.  The first artist up – yes, of course it wasnt close to being on time – was Cale Parks, the drummer of Aloha. He is a one-man show who plays everything from guitars, to drums to keyboard, all the while working his Mac computer. This was only his second show, and he really had no stage presence. Im sure part of that was from trying to do too many things at once. At moments, it seemed he was going to crash into all the instruments, trying to side-step around the small stage. His music reminds me of a DJ set, but could definitely use the second person ala the Basement Jaxx or the Presets. There were moments where he should have let the music continue and almost fade out, but the songs would just abruptly end. No music to get lost in. I realize now I should have stayed for Aloha, as I didn’t quite realize he was in the band. Maybe would have shown me a different side to him.

Next up was Decibully. I was really looking forward to seeing them since I had missed them at the DAMFest the weekend before. And they delivered. Lots of guitar, great vocals, great keys and great drumming. What more could have been wanted. The songs were instantly likeable as were the guys in the band. The fact that the band gets along so great, really comes through on the stage and in their set. Psychedelic rock, as how they describe themselves sums it right up.

Next up was Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, which is the 3rd best band at CMJ, according to the band themselves. Before the band came on, I met a guy who was friends with the bassist’s father. And that was pretty cool, because this guy had never seen them. He told me how they got famous when their song appeared on the OC. Great tip to know, as I never watched the OC. I should for their music. Boris was as fun as ever last night. Their songs are so fun, catchy and poppy. The essence of indie pop. Last night they performed a cover of Arrested Development’s “Tennessee” which was really good. And definitely had the essence of the song. The guitarist and drummer switched during the set, proving that both drummers were exceptionally talented on both instruments. They played a fairly long set and was just a great set that was very energetic.  

The last band up was Headlights from Champagne, IL. Headlights had very pop sounding songs backed up by a huge wall of sound. Very loud guitars and drums mixed with Erin’s great voice and keyboards. But Erin didn’t sing on every song so it was a good mix. A three piece band that worked very well. The band had the crowd dancing in no time, and singing along to all of their songs. I expect this band will be huge in no time at all.

 Great night. Finding a cab back to NYC proved to be a feat in itself. Found plenty of off-duty cabs. And finally flagged one down and luckily he was wiling to drive us back to the City.

Tonight – Birdmonster, The Horrors, The Thermals, Sam Champion and Ra Ra Riot! Cant wait. Will have a review up hopefully by end of the weekend along with plenty of other shows from Saturday.

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CMJ – A week of music INSANITY

Posted by xneverwherex on November 2, 2006

Rules for the wise (and no, I didn’t comply with any on round 1).

1. Do NOT drink! -besides the cost that might make you broke, it could be a lot longer of a night than expected. and being drunk when theres 5 more bands to go, is not a good thing.

2. Expect the unexpected.  – I showed up so early, I ended up seeing some band Extra Blue Kind, and they were AWESOME! I was also the ONLY one there. I also ended up getting an invite from someone at the label to go to a party! wahoo!

3. Have a back-up plan/schedule. If you really need to see one band, you might be missing out on a few others if your schedule is too tight.

4. Bring lots of money, if you want CDs, merch, etc.

5. Bring a camera.

6. EARPLUGS, EARPLUGS, EARPLUGS! – do not leave home without them. There are probably a ton of other shows you will be going to, you dont want ringing ears after your first show. 

7. Most importantly, have fun!

Night 1:

i showed up insanely early. i have no clue how i ended up getting there so early, but i caught an early show. and i was the ONLY one at the show. the band was really f’ing good. called extra blue kind. i met two other people there, who worked for the label and got invited to a party tonight. they really want me to show up tonight, because theres free food. LOL. so i might. the band was excited i had come. that was interesting.  check them out. by far the best band i saw last night. and the one i had no clue about. just randomness! welcome to CMJ.

then — i had like 30 mins to kill. so i went up to the bar. and man its bad to drink on an empty stomach. i got pretty trashed but the drinks were good. id have drank all night talking to the bartender, but then id have been crawling home. the bartender was pretty cool. he was telling me how he was moving to LA, went to UCLA, and we were talking about the music scene out there. and how it was when we were in college. he was surprised when i said i graduated in 1996. he made the comment , oh my god i was still in high school. i said ‘ god damn, now i feel really old’.

so then the first band came on. met some chick at the show who was really into them. chris garneau. i guess it was just the singer, but he has a full band backing him up. playing everything from the cello, keyboards, and other random instruments. it was a very mellow set, but great music. the band seemed pretty excited to be there.

then next up was some girl/guy pairing. that was interesting. i couldnt really get into their music. was again, very mellow. and both of them sang. apparently they were asked last minute to play a short set, and they hadnt played in over a year. no clue who they were, as they never formally introduced themselves. a pet peeve of mine – when musicians/bands play, say your name a few times. We’d like to remember you, and when seeing a ton of bands, we may not remember each and every band who is playing.

then finally – back to the bands i wanted to see. first the affair. that was an awesome set. the lead singer reminded me of blondie. she had this incredible voice and was really into it. Dancing the entire time, talking to the crowd, her excitement of being there shined through. Surprisingly enough, they were from New York, which I had no idea. Very indie/rock music. Another woman played the keyboards, and 3 guys made up the rest of the band. The whole band seemed to feed off each other, which made it all the better. They should have played a lot longer.

Then my final show – because everything was running over an hour later than was expected. a 9:30 show started close to 11pm and there were still 2 more bands after that one. or possibly one. i have no clue, as it wasnt really said why someone was added, but no mention anywhere. So Get Him Eat Him was last. Now this is who I really wanted to see. And from their songs I had heard I was hoping for some really catchy indie pop music ala Weezer. Stuff to dance to, sing along with, but hearing them live was a different story. They just didnt have that pop vibe to them, which meant some of that catchiness that drew me to them was long gone. The guys were entertaining – making jokes only fitting for CMJ. The comment – well I guess you guys were the ones who couldnt get into the Knife show. No one said a thing, no laughs, guffaws, nada. Clearly a lot of the crowd were big followers, or just friends of the band, as they dedicated a song to a friend of theirs. A lot of people were coming in/out of the show, and seemed unimpressed. The guitarist, in gym shorts, sneakers and a t-shirt, definitely stood out.

I think at any one time the most R&R had were 30-40 people. Some bands had hardly anyone out there, and at times i felt bad. R&R should be the next hot spot for bands to play. An amazing club in the meatpacking district. Has that swanky feeling, of this new modern/posh bar/club, but the clientele is anything but. I guess its more the indie/hipster scene. It has cube chairs all around. and then lots of tables/couches with mirrors in the different rooms. the stage for the bands is similar to the mercury but an even higher stage. they have their own backroom for all their instruments, and it has this cool curtain they close after each set. the drinks are typical prices for that area, meaning to steep for my blood. its a good thing i didnt stay at the bar, if so id have been begging the bartender for free drinks.

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