13 August 2009

Livestock Roundup pt. 1: VeryVeroNekoNellieNOMO

time to take some Summer Stock – I've been going to a LOT of great shows lately. seeing some of my favorite artists, old and new, most of whom i'd never seen before. two of the most exciting, from last week, keith urban and taylor swift @ the wachovia center and kitty daisy and lewis @ kung fu necktie, i covered rather lengthily for the city paper blog (and will repost here soon enough.) the following i will try to run thru more quickly, but all were highly enjoyable shows...

The Veronicas @ the TLA, 7/17

Ah, the V's. The band that started it all for me, teen-pop wise. Preview'd 'em in CP, as i also did for Micachu – sweet virginny's Devon Sproule was also playing Philly (well, Ardmore) the same night, so it was pick yr precociously-talented young-twenty-something chicksinger nite (with three excellent options about as disparate as you could get), but I obviously had to go for these saucy Aussies, whom I'd been wanting to catch ever since they cancelled their slot on the Ashlee Simpson show I saw three whole years ago. This was, I believe, their first time back here since then, the "Revenge is Sweeter" tour, and I daresay they seem to be doing poor ol' Ash a few better these days; playing to a packed TLA vs. a tepid half-full E-Factory crowd (granted a much larger venue.)

it felt like the skinny gawky sexy kids party – like a bunch of high school seniors or something who are still kinda awky'n'scrawny, but at least they're the cool kids, revelling in the glory of youth and sex and angst and punk rock and gettin' naked. the video below captures the opening act, Carney, "pranking" the girls by running on stage, prancing around half-dressed (note the artfully nipple-hiding electrical-tape "V" for Veronicas) and grabbing instruments to play along with "Beautifully Broken" – that sort of sums up the spirit of the show: groping clumsily somewhere inbetween juvenile and erotic, but kind of cheekily infectious nevertheless.

the Origliassos made a visually pleasing sort of checker-pattern, with raven-tressed Lisa in a white slip/dress and peroxided Jess in a black one. they were very convincingly live and unaffected, and certainly earnest, giggling and chatting in an uninhibited, girly way – their story of how they decided "twitterhike" from new york with some fans (because there wasn't room on their tour bus?) was endearing if seemingly far-fetched. the band seemed pretty rad and young too, nice to see – at first i thought the drummer was an older, long-haired metal dude (who was inordinately into throwing his stick in the air), but later realized it was actually a girl, who seemed pretty bad-ass.

unfortunately, if predictably, the vocals weren't mixed nearly loud enough, which is particularly a problem for these guys – their vocals being basically the whole point – and I felt like it sapped a lot of the energy out of the show. anyway, they hit most of the hits, kicking right off with "untouched" – was disappointed that they did "this love" as an acoustic duet, even tho it was cool, since it meant no A-ha synth riff – but they skipped "when it all falls apart," which i was totally counting on as the closer. wasn't that their biggest mtv/radio hit in the states? (seemingly not, but why did i think that?) instead, they ended their main set with "4ever" (incl. the first of the mindblowing finale descant lines, but not the ultimate, closing one) and then encored with a breathless "this is how it feels," with more pandemonium and semi-nudity, and fans onstage, like the one who shot this video. would i have dug it more three years ago (when i would at least have wanted to push up to the front row)? yeah, probably so. come on baby, we can't make it last 4eva. still, better l8, 4shur.

Nellie McKay @ 92YTribeca
with Life in a Blender and Jesus H. Christ and the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse

Up to nyc for Ester's birthday, we just so happily happened across this fine $15 bill at the snazzy new 92YTribeca, which turned out to be quite a pleasant spot, with a particularly tasty and reasonably-priced (kosher) café. the first and last acts were both rather curious amalgamations who specialized "clever" (not-necessarily-funny) comedic material with a quasi-theatrical bent, both bolstered by strong horn sections. Life in a Blender (bad name; extra points off for making me think of Eve6) were notably the weaker of the two, at once quirkier and blander; the flat-out kooky JHCat4HotA were at least energetically entertaining: a motley crew including two burly bald brothers, a seriously sick black trumpeter/pianist, a girl who we variously described as "new jersey" or "sorority" type (also on trumpet), and a spazzy-neurotic frizzy-haired frontwoman (sorta reminiscent of Seinfeld's Elaine, but even nuttier, and with a preposterously unflattering dress) who spoke-sang nerdily obsessive and sorta dark joke-songs about sex and relationships and modernity. i liked "vampire girls" (with punkish "hot topic"-style pop-culture shout-outs) and "obviously" (...you slept with that girl from your reunion) and the goofily brazen "do me," and actually a lot of the songs were funny for at least the first verse-chorus or so, but not really enough to want to hear them more than once.

so, Nellie was the odd oddball out in the line-up, who stole the show, and all our hearts. actually, she seemed a bit more down to earth and with-it than previous times i've seen her, but she's still a lovable flouncy goof. she only did a couple of recognizable numbers from her albums – nothing from the debut, just "long & lazy river," "there you are in me," "food" and by-request encore "cupcake" from the second, and the razor-sharp "mother of pearl" (aka "feminists don't have a sense of humor") which i didn't know at the time is on her underlooked (er, by me) third – but there were one or two i recognized from past shows, and some cutesy newbies (thrift-shopper anthem "second-hand nell.")

about half the set, though, was vintage '30s/'40s-or-so covers, mostly done on ukulele, many taken from her forthcoming doris day tribute album (!!) which is gonna be awesome (she did a couple along with the finished backing tracks, thereby demonstrating her adorable incompetence at using a cd player), including "if i knew you were coming i'd have baked a cake," and "a-tisket a-tasket" and "broadway melody," which she did in an unreal quavery warble (you can listen to a similar performance of it here.) oh my oh my. here's hoping for a whiz-bang comeback soon soon soon!

The Very Best @ Le Poisson Rouge 7/18
with Dragons of Zynth

tromped across town for a very different sort of affair (fewer swatties, more sweatys), hotly anticipated by me and many. openers dragons of zynth were a lot more fun than i for some reason anticipated, a weird but workable combo of punk, funk, prog, synth-pop, and african polyrhythms, with anarcho/ethno-hipster style. they did some cover of a ghanaian song from the '60s that ben claimed he knew. towards the end they also did some aggressive/confrontational audience-diving, which was impressively intense, performance-wise, but didn't really fit the vibe. anyhoo.

the very best didn't come on until pretty ridiculously late, though i didn't much mind because the amp-up djs were playing some really killer stuff. the evening was already feeling kind of gleefully surreal (at atmosphere of freaky holiday?), partly because of these australians kept coming over to me and trying to talk to me (one of them in...norwegian?) because i was, apparently, the spitting image of their friend (i even danced like him.) once the band finally got on, the whole place just turned into even more of a berserk party, with everybody exuberantly dancing and waving their arms around.

there's not necessarily so much to their live performance – the radioclit dj guy, whichever one he was (there was only one of them there, so half of the duo), didn't seem to be doing a whole lot besides triggering the tracks – though towards the end of the set he made himself useful by pouring out little cups of bacardi and manischevitz (?!) to pass out into the crowd. esau mwamwaya seems like a total sweetie, with an infectiously giddy grin, but even if he didn't have much to offer in the way of showmanship (his english might not have been that good?) he was certainly singing his heart out, and his voice is a majestic thing indeed – in a way, their music is very simply all about the unbridled joyfulness of the singing. (as ben pointed out, the songs themselves are quite simple and similarly-structured.) the back-up singer had a broken leg, or something, but she sang along just as jubilantly. ezra koenig of vampire weekend turned up to sing his part on "warm heart of africa" (though not, unfortunately, to play the sample from their rework of "cape cod kwassa kwassa"), and he is such a chubby-faced cheery cherub, sooo cute!

meanwhile, they had a dancer going crazy all over the stage, shimmying and booty-shaking, rubbing her privates in audience members' faces, sometimes bringing folks up on stage to dance with her, and so on. all in all, it was a pretty crazy scene (even the cast-bound singer got up to hop around at one point), with lots of happiness all around – maybe not the very best musical performance i've seen in a minute, but without a doubt one of the very best parties.

more photos here and here.

[more coming soon, on Neko Case, Escort, and NOMO...also Taylor and Keith and Kitty, Daisy and Lewis... I just had to get this post finally up, several weeks late.]

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