in the flesh


As touched on before, I’m playing in a new band these days. We’re called Screentests, and we play music that’s a little bit psych, a little bit dancey, and all hottt jamzzz. Laia sings, I play keys/electronics, Harold plays bass, and Danny plays drums. You can check out and download a bunch of songs on our Soundcloud, and find out what we’re up to on Facebook. And if you’re in NYC, come see us play our second show ever–it’s next Thursday, May 17, at Fontanas on the Lower East Side. We go on at 9.


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A few weeks ago the third New York incarnation of the Polish Unsound Festival took place in various locations around NYC, and I, breaking an unfortunate streak of non-show-going, checked out most of it. The correlation between the lineup and the most-played artists on my iphone was pretty astounding. Festival highlights for me were Julia Kent‘s loop-based cello performance at the new Issue Project Room, Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland’s (aka Hype Williams) sensory overload of a set at LPR, Sun Araw‘s spacey, dubby stew of guitar, electronic drum kit, and processed saxophone, and Ital’s infectious energy (plus some pierogies) at Warasaw. Can’t wait to see what the Unsound folks come up with for next year’s festival.

Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland

Sun Araw

Laurel Halo

Ital

Okay, not true. In fact, I was not yet born. But it turns out that the building where I chose to take the leap and buy my first (and current) apartment used to be an art gallery (which I knew) and used to host loft shows in the 70s (which I did not). Apparently Sam Rivers, who had his own famed loft/frequent show venue, Studio Rivbea (see some awesome pics here), played here, as did Suicide. I knew I had a good feeling about this place. This is the sort of thing that was going on:


When you’re an established band with a loyal following and an instantly recognizable sound and your singer is, for whatever reason, no longer available, what do you do? Do you find a replacement who has made a name for himself in your genre and is gonna rock it out regardless of how much it changes the band’s sound, à la Black Sabbath/Ronnie James Dio or Van Halen/Sammy Hagar, or do you take your chances with someone who may be less known and less proven but who sounds more or less like your old singer, à la AC/DC/Brian Johnson (or, if you want to take the principle to the extreme, with a much worse result, Judas Priest/the tribute band dude who replaced Rob Halford)?

I’m going to have to say that The Ex went the Brian Johnson route. I did kind of miss G.W. Sok while watching them at Poisson Rouge the other night. I mean the guy was in the band for 30 years and, to me, his delivery–about equal parts singing, speaking, and shouting–sat kind of perfectly atop the chugging, herky-jerky pulse set by the rest of the band. But new singer Arnold DeBoer can do a pretty mean G.W. impersonation when circumstances call for it. Plus, he brings his own thing to the act, adding the occasional electronic blip or bloop to the mix and generally dancing and moving around the stage like he’s enjoying himself in a way that G.W. seldom did. I picked up their most recent CD, Catch My Shoe, and, while it’s no Back in Black moment, it’s as good as their last couple of discs, which have definitely gotten their fair share of airplay chez Weekday Worrier over the last several years.

I guess what it comes down to is that The Ex basically can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. You get punk, noise, politics, Hungarian folk songs, Ethiopian funk, Congolese trance…and the list goes on and on. For a band that somehow works so many different stylistic influences into one, cohesive sound, I’m thinking that replacing a vocalist may end up not being much of a challenge. That’s certainly what the show the other night suggests.

The Ex - Theme From Konono


The Ex - Hidegen fújnak a szelek

I just got back from former fave live music venue Le Poisson Rouge. Why “former”? Well, as I previously posted, just about a year ago in fact, one can buy a membership to LPR for a reasonable price. When I bought said membership last year, the main benefit was free admission for the member plus one to a wide range of shows by acts both established (Glenn Branca–free) and up and coming (many random out jazz and modern composition acts–free). But not too long after I joined, they dropped the plus one part of the benefit. That was disappointing, but seemed fair enough–it was probably not sustainable to allow so many free admissions for the $45 or $50 cost of the membership. But it didn’t take long for the number of “free for members” events to start dwindling. There were several months in there where I felt like the only thing that was free for members were freakin’ DJ nights, and that ain’t what I signed up for. There are more free shows again now, but they’re not quite of the caliber as last year’s free shows. So I think you’ve lost me as a member, LPR. I know, I know, I’m sad too. Give me a free ticket or two and I assure you, I’ll drink like a poisson. That’s just win-win, people! But alas, I think those days are gone.

Anywho, onto the show. Billed as “an evening of trio treats,” the night did not disappoint. First up was Weasel Walter playing drums/percussion in a trio with Mary Halverson on guitar and Peter Evans on piccolo trumpet and, er, normale trumpet. The last time I saw Weasel Walter play, his hair was much shorter and I was frequently spending weekends in Pittsburgh, where, at some point (2002ish, I’d say) I saw The Flying Luttenbachers play a show with Arab On Radar at the apparently now (or at least for-now) defunct Mr. Roboto Project. Tonight, WW (him, not me) brought the spastic beats and silly faces I remembered from that show years ago and I dug it as much tonight as I did then. Mary Halvorson’s guitar was particularly awesome–she weaved in and out of long vaguely bop-ish runs, almost folk-rocky chord progressions made all woozy with some sort of whammy bar-type foot pedal, and Derek Bailey-esque skronks. I couldn’t help but feel that the set would have been perfect if it had just been Walter and Halvorson up there–I liked Evans’s playing but it just didn’t gel with the other parts for me–but in any event then it would have been an evening of one trio and one duo treats, which just isn’t nearly as catchy. Luckily for me, I picked up a copy of Walter and Halvorson’s duo release from a couple of years ago on the way out.

Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, and Peter Evans


Then it was on to trio number two, with Matthew Shipp on piano, Mike Bisio on bass, and Whit Dickey on drums. Somehow this was the first time I’ve seen Shipp live. And it definitely grabbed me way more than any of the recordings I’ve heard. I recently wrote about seeing Paul Bley for the first time and, while I wouldn’t say the two pianists sound particularly similar, I definitely got a similar vibe from the two shows–both of them take the material way, way out without sacrificing melody or, I think it’s fair to say, a “traditional” jazz flavor. And what do you know, just as I was mulling that point over during the show, the trio unexpectedly broke into an almost straight (well, for the head at least) statement of What Is This Thing Called Love. Long story short, I suspect I’ll be re-examining some of those Matthew Shipp recordings soon. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Bisio’s practically violent, string-bending, bow-breaking bass solo about halfway through the set. It was a thing to behold–blurry picture below.

Matthew Shipp


Matthew Shipp Trio


Mike Bisio Bass Solo


Finally, as my friend and I settled our tab (WTF, why doesn’t the paypal app bump function ever seem to work anymore?) I thought back to the Wayne Shorter show I wrote about recently and how Brian Blade kicked the shit out of his drums in a way not unlike Shipp kicking the shit out of the LPR piano at a couple of points. Gotta wonder what a trio with those two would sound like. At the very least, they could have some kind of skinny, bespectacled jazz dude duel.

Matthew Shipp


Brian Blade


So, although there are a couple of other good shows coming up at the old Poisson Rouge, I think the love affair is officially fini. Much like my blog post, as I start falling asleep at my keyboard. And much like Shipp’s set after his unexpected rendition of Frère Jacques. Dormez vous? Pas encore, mais bientôt…

…Luxe Pop played a show with Lady Gaga. Hence our entry in Gagapedia:

Yep. And, in fact, since we played the 11pm slot, I guess you could say Lady Gaga opened for us. You know, technically.

Oh, coked-up mid-/late-70s Sly, I’ve got to say…you’re kind of underrated.

Yes, it’s been a while, poor, neglected readers. A lot happened in WW-land after my last post. A new job, a busy summer, a bunch of traveling, another new job, an even busier winter. Tornadoes, hailstorms, blizzards. Quite a first year of Brooklyn-dwelling.

Happily, some stuff has been happening musically too. Luxe Pop is almost done recording our full-length. NNHRN continues to write songs and is starting to put together a live set. I’ve been doing some solo noodling and may start making some punkish noise with former Family Fun bandmate Alexander.

In other words, it’s time to reactivate WW. You can expect some of the fruits of these various projects to be posted here from time to time, as well as other musings on all things musical. And to kick off WW’s 2011 edition, here are some 10 (as in 2010?) word reviews of some of the shows I’ve seen since I last posted (with, in some cases, blurry iPhone pic evidence of same), reverse chronological-like:

Wayne Shorter Quartet (Town Hall, Feb. 9, 2011): Fiery potential, heard on YouTube / live CDs, largely unfulfilled tonight.

Universal Order of Armageddon and Trophy Wife (Cake Shop, Jan. 21, 2011): Hardcore like a kick in the teeth. Ah, the 90s!

Tom Harrell Quintet (Village Vanguard, NYC, Nov. 26, 2010): Forgot how much I dig his lyrical tone. So underrated!

Tom Harrell

Joanna Newsom (Carnegie Hall, NYC, Nov. 23, 2010): Yes, I will see her every time she’s in NYC.

Paul Bley and Charlie Haden (Blue Note, NYC, Nov. 20, 2010): Standards stretched to extremes overcome late-middle-aged couple groping nearby

Tame Impala (Bowery Ballroom, NYC, Nov. 18, 2010): More psych revival. I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse.

Tyshawn Sorey (The Stone, NYC, Nov. 11, 2010): Solo drummer, cymbal-scraping, plucked piano strings, etc. Works for me.

Van Dyke Parks (Bell House, Brooklyn, Oct. 2, 2010): Odd ensemble, very odd songs, very, very odd old man.

Van Dyke Parks

Chick Corea w/ Christian McBride and Brian Blade (Highline Ballroom, NYC, Oct. 1, 2010): What Wayne’s group should have been. Abstract, searching, practically telepathic.

Belle and Sebastian (Williamsburg Waterfront, Brooklyn, Sept. 30, 2010): Balmy summer’s end breeze perfect compliment to beloved songsters’ classics.

The Very Best, Warpaint, Zola Jesus (Holocene, Portland, Sept. 24, 2010): Second fix of Warpaint and Zola, then killer dance party.

The Very Best

Of Montreal, Janelle Monae (Terminal 5, NYC, Sept. 18, 2010): Reliably fun oM show. Don’t get the Monae hype though.

of Montreal

Dirty Projectors (Terminal 5, NYC, Sept. 11, 2010): One question: how the fuck do they do that live?

Oneida (Monster Island Block Party, Brooklyn, Sept. 4, 2010): Gorgeous biking day, happen upon kickass noise rock show. Sweeeeeet.

Oneida

Javelin and Warpaint (Whitney Museum, NYC, Aug. 13, 2010): Dreamy high end meets funky low. Plus local hip-hop(ish) faves.

Whitney Crowd/Tops of Warpaint’s Heads

Javelin

Hard NYC w/ M.I.A., Die Antwoord, Skream, Sleigh Bells (Governor’s Island, NYC, July 24, 2010): Invasive security, irritating rappers, torrential rain. Want my $50 back.

Blevin Blectum (Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, July 23, 2010): More abstract than expected, but definitely glad I caught her.

Blevin Blectum

Pitchfork Festival w/ (acts that I saw) Modest Mouse, Robyn, LCD Soundsystem, Panda Bear, Wolf Parade, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Raekwon, Titus Andronicus, Pavement, Sleigh Bells, Neon Indian, Major Lazer, Here We Go Magic, St. Vincent, Lightning Bolt, Beach House, Washed Out, Girls, Best Coast (Union Park, Chicago, July 16-18, 2010): Super well run festival. 90s noise punk duo steals show.

Lightning Bolt Crowd

Pitchfork Fest Bike Parking

Caribou (Millennium Park, Chicago, July 12, 2010): Favorite 2010 live act (ok, except tUnE-yArDs). And for free?!?

Unrest/Tuscadero (Bell House, Brooklyn, July 5, 2010): See above re the 90s. Some great indie pop too.

Caribou, Toro Y Moi (Bowery Ballroom, NYC, Bowery Ballroom, May 8, 2010): Live show really doesn’t capture opener’s production chops on record.

Caribou

Chick Corea w/ Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian (Bill Evans Tribute) (Blue Note, NYC, May 6, 2010): Possibly my second favorite pianist’s homage to possibly my first.

Washed Out (Bell House, Brooklyn, May 5, 2010): Another contemporary band whose awesome record just doesn’t translate live.

Gang Gang Dance (Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, April 22, 2010): Great sound, but some songs drag. Others seem absolutely endless.

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