Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Archive for December, 2011

Dont F$^k With My Money

Posted by xneverwherex on December 31, 2011

Penguin Prison
Vacationer
Gemini Club
12/15/11
Mercury Lounge

So my last show of 2011 was a cross between a really fun show and also a really obnoxious show. It was like all the frat boys and every single hipster around the 21 year age mark, showed up. If I never heard “that whats Im talking about” again at a show, Id be *very* happy!

Penguin Prison never disappoints. While he is technically a one-man artist, he does play with a full band. But its definitely his show. He wastes no time with engaging the crowd and by the time the first song has started he’s working up a frenzy dancing in the middle of the crowd. Everyone crowds around him trying to snap pics, while the band continues to play.

Penguin Prison

He starts with “Golden Train” that is beat-synth-heavy and his very high vocal range. It works to get the show starting. Not coming on too strong, but giving people a slow(ish) groove to start the dancing. Soon enough hes back on stage, guitar in hand, and is playing “The Worse It Gets”. The crowd gets into it by the time the chorus comes and he dances on stage.

He keeps the tempo building in the show, building up the groove in each progressive song. The crowd is non-stop dancing. Its fun booty-shaking music. “Dont Fuck With My Money” is when it really begins to get even more dance-y. The song, which sounds like it should have been around in the 80s (Jackson years), must be one of the catchiest songs of the year. As Penguin Prison takes to the floor again, hes playing right in front of me, a coy smile on his lips. Hes completely charming and its hard not to get swept up in the entire act.

By the time the show is near closing, he busts out an even more catchy song. If you werent dancing before, there is no way you werent when this song comes on. It feels like Chic came alive and by now the 70s and 80s are in full force. Its as if New Edition, Prince and all those bands came together to create this song. Its brilliance!

The two openers were very different bands. The second band Vacationer was from the lovely state of Hawaii. The guys were the most chill, cute guys ever. Their music was pretty catchy in a chill-wave/relaxed sorta way. They definitely would have fit great on a set with Best Coast or plenty of bands like that. Their music didnt quite fit with the upbeat dance heaviness of the other two. Would still easily recommend checking them out.

Chicago is home to some of the best dance-y bands. Gemini Club is yet another reminiscent of Hey Champ and Flosstradamus (no surprise that they remix each others songs). As I was coming from a work party, I missed part of their set. So disappointing as they were easily by far one of the best bands that I came across in 2011. With pounding dance beats, and a darkish dance-y sound, they sounded incredible. Surprisingly not many people were there, but those of us who were totally were engaged and loving it. “Mary’s Day” is fun, catchy and oh so danceable. One band that Ill be looking for more of during the next year.

Happy New Year! Stay safe! And till next year. With hopefully lots more great shows!

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Im The Great White Hope

Posted by xneverwherex on December 15, 2011

The National
Sharon Van Etten
Beacon Theatre
12/13/11

The National have returned home (well across the river anyway) to finish up the year with 6 nights at the Beacon Theatre. These are the final shows for the latest album, High Violet. It seems like they have been out supporting this album now forever. But the time has come, and this is it.

The National came out to what felt like the longest version of Duran Duran’s ‘Wild Boys’. Finally, after the entire song had played the guys came out to a fairly sedated theatre. They opened the set with ‘Start A War’ which is a pretty slow song and not a bad way to start the set. Continuing with the Boxer album, they went right into ‘Brainy’ which was beginning to get the crowd excited. Slowly, people started getting on their feet.

The National

Matt joked about the prior night with some people standing, some sitting, random parts of the theater doing their own thing. And encouraged us to do what we wanted. At this point everyone was standing in the orchestra. Sadly, it was not the case for the upper levels. The sound was just beautiful in the Beacon. It filled the entire room with Matt’s soaring vocals. The Dessner brothers sounded really great on guitars and keyboards.

As with most of their shows, there were a few special guests. Conrad from Takka Takka was an additional drummer who played the entire set. At one point it sounded like they were introducing an ‘Andy’ Clark, but nope it was actually Annie Clark of St. Vincent. While she isn’t Sharon Van Etten (who is, really?), she did add some nice harmonies. She performed with them on ‘Im Afraid of Everyone’ and ‘Sorrow’. I wasnt sure those songs needed her (well esp I’m Afraid of Everyone), but it was great to see her accompany them.

As always Matt made a few appearances in the crowd. He did come over to the section that I was at and was hanging on the stairs but no one even seemed to pay him any mind. It was sad and beautiful all at once and then he was back in the front singing in another corner. It always has a nice feel to it, even if its become part of the stage show.

The visuals and lighting worked out quite great. Unfortunately for Sharon Van Etten, there was a heavy spot light on her, that had you seeing dots in your eyes after about 5 seconds. But that was gone, thankfully! With the backdrop screen of images of the band members and the crowd, you were always able to see the entire band and the guests.

It was great to hear them introduce Sharon Van Etten who came out for a proper encore with them on ‘Think You Can Wait’. And from that they went straight into ‘Fake Empire’ which always sounds amazing live. Other highlights included ‘Abel’, but really to the girls behind me, how do you talk through that whole song. The crowd was revved up and peoples hands in the air and singing along. It is one of my favorite songs performed live along with ‘Mr. November’. Sure, theres songs I didnt get to hear ‘Mistaken for Strangers’, but with all the times Ive seen them, I seriously cant complain.

Easily the very last song was the crowning moment. The band had left the stage only to come back center stage with Annie Clark, Sharon Van Etten, and of course, Wye Oak. I wasnt entirely sure it was them but it sure was! ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ was just beautiful. Sans microphones and the entire band huddled together was a pretty awesome way to end the night.

And while Ive mentioned her a few times, I can say that Sharon Van Etten always sounds amazing! She has some of the strongest vocals. Her songs are great and kick-ass and her new guitar, oh yeah, looking pretty sweet. And of course, it meant we were treated for a song or two with Aaron Dessner. The pair of them make beautiful music together.

For those hoping for one last time, (for now), its highly recommended. The shows arent sold out and theres an abundance of tickets around. Not that Im one to actually promote using stubhub or the like, but since theres so many shows now, it seems you can get same day tix for $17. Either way, if you havent yet seen them, there still is time.

Setlist:
Start a War
Brainy
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Squalor Victoria
Afraid of Everyone
Conversation 16
Rylan
Abel
Lit Up
Wasp Nest
Sorrow
Anyone’s Ghost
I Need My Girl
England
Mr. November

Think You Can Wait
Fake Empire
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

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