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Intellectual House o' Pancakes Webdiary

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2008-10-27 - 1:22 p.m.

Mmm, chocolate that makes you feel good, as opposed to regular chocolate which is always such a drag.


I'm not gonna recap the stuff I didn't like, but some highlights:

Juliana Hatfield at Housing Works: she played some old and new songs and read from her book. The new stuff sounds much better in an acoustic-solo format than with a full band--the easier to hear the intricacy/eccentricity of the melodies and chord changes, and the nuances of her singing voice, which her recordings don't often capture. She seemed frail but jovial.

Juliana Hatfield at Housing Works

Oakley Hall and Justin Townes Earle at the new swanky 92Y Tribeca: Oakley Hall played an almost all-acoustic set due to the absence of their drummer (and then a full-band set with Steve Goulding sitting in on drums happened on Saturday at Mercury Lounge). The band plays soul-quenching Americana with heartfelt vocal harmonies.

JTE seems just as intense as his papa.

Oakley Hall 10

In seeing the Ladybug Transistor, I finally got a chance to check out the Bell House, and it instantly became my favorite large venue in the city.

Bell House has good sound, a cavernous live room, lovely appointments, and a separate, genteel bistro-y section. Most importantly, they book great bands, and they are currently the closest (good) club to my home--a 20 minute hop from remotest Bay Ridge.

Gowanus (the new Red Hook!) is a neat area. Being in a blocky, urban atmosphere with an unobstructed view of the night sky fills me with aching nostalgia and love--as if one has reached the end of time and space, and has been here before. No idea where this comes from, as I was born and raised in a hilly, leafy suburb.

Gowanus sky

The L-bugs were good, in that laid-Bacharach kind of white-wine-sipping way, but the Rosebuds, who followed them, were the big revelation. I loved them--they made me feel happy and alive for the duration of their short set. The dirty/sweet communal rocking that they created both onstage and in the ecstatic audience was truly an object lesson in simple (but difficult, magical) performance mechanics. Rockin' looks easy, but it ain't, and these people did it right.

Rosebuds 3

Here's the Rosebuds/Ladybug all-star jam. I believe they were singing the touching "Nice Fox," which you can hear, along with their whole latest album, at the Merge site:

Ladybug-Rosebud All-Star Jam

I also had a great time watching Gigantic at the Western Australian Music showcase at Arlene's. They are an amiable power trio from Perth with super-hooky songs and a competently rocking live show.

Gigantic at Arlene's

Gigantic at Arlene's 3

In retrospect, my strategy of minimizing choices and eschewing whole days of activity was probably to my disadvantage. I think seeing dozens of bands over the course of a week actually makes the good bands seem better and weakens the effect of the not-great experiences. Next year!

This year, the only faintly bad experience was heading out in Saturday's monsoon to see the Duke Spirit, who had canceled their show, even though the online schedule still had them listed. The thought of seeing a second-choice band while wearing soaking-wet clothes (or heading over to the guaranteed mob scene of the Stetsasonic/Jungle Brothers show) did not appeal, so I went home and watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which was enjoyable, so net-net, it was all fine.

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