Monday, October 15, 2018

Mew @ Brooklyn Steel (10/14/2018)


This show (and tour) was a 15th anniversary celebration of Mew's breakout album, Frengers.  As such, the last half of their setlist was dedicated to playing the album in order.  Interestingly, they took a 10 minute intermission between the first half of the set and the Frengers portion.  Unfortunately, I got my timing a little wrong (and the weekend MTA closures didn't help) and didn't make it to the venue until Mew was on their second or third song (based on what what someone answered when I asked; not sure since I can't find the setlist online).  It was nice to hear all of Frengers (admittedly a strong album), but I would have liked to hear more of their newer stuff.  They also played one old song, "King Christian", that I wasn't familiar with.  Side note: Jonas is still one of the least animated front-men around; but that's fine as long they play good tunes and he belts out that falsetto.

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Rating: 4.4/5

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Update (10/16/2018): The setlist has been posted and I apparently missed two of their best songs to start off the show.  So my complaint about hearing newer songs is kind of on me.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Beach House @ United Palace Theatre (8/23/2018)


I considered not going to this show because I injured myself playing soccer 3 days before and was still limping around (the injury happened on Sunday, and I worked from home Monday and Tuesday); plus I've seen Beach House several times before.  I'm glad I decided to use my ticket, though, as this ended up being probably my favorite of the times that I've seen them.  This was surprising because I think the album that they put out this year (7) was a little weak.  The new tunes didn't drag down the setlist too much, though, and a couple were even standouts.  "Lemon Glow" (my favorite from the album) was a stunning closer for the main set, and "Dive" was a solid way to end the evening.  Something about the live rendition of "L'Inconnue" made it also noteworthy for me, and my second fave from the new album, "Dark Spring", didn't disappoint either.

Of course they also threw in enough classics to keep us happy.  And "Levitation" - one of my top songs from my favorite album of theirs - was a great way to start the show.  I would have liked to hear some more of my favorite songs of theirs, but I guess those songs probably aren't their most popular ones.  They did bump up the production value of their light show a bit, but maintained their standard perform-in-the-shadows style (the two pictures above were chosen because they are the most lit that the band members ever got - they are not representative of their lighting for most of the show).  Based on their comments, they enjoyed the energy of the crowd, which was mostly standing despite the theater environment.  All in all, a high quality concert.

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Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Radiohead @ Madison Square Garden (7/14/2018)




Just seeing my favorite band for the umpteenth time in the umpteenth different city...no biggie.  Though it was Franziska's first big concert and she was new to the works of Radiohead.  She said she had a great time, so that's good.  This show falls somewhere in the lower middle of the pack for me in terms of Radiohead shows.  How much I enjoy them basically comes down to the setlist selection, and they didn't play too many of my favorites this time around; but that's perfectly fine.  They did play the top three songs that Fran wanted to hear, though ("Lotus Flower", "The Numbers", and "Present Tense").  The highlight of the show for me was Thom's sublime voice on "Spectre", which they debuted this tour and were playing live for only the third time.  My biggest complaint was that Thom's guitar was almost inaudible in the sound mix on our side for the last few songs of the main set.

Oh yeah...we completely missed the opener, Junun (Johnny's other band).  But Fran did hustle to get us there on time to make sure we didn't miss any of Radiohead.

Setlist: https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/radiohead/2018/madison-square-garden-new-york-ny-1beba560.html

Rating: 4.6/5

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Top albums of 2017

My musical dark age continues.  Or perhaps I'm becoming a crotchety old man who bemoans the fact that they don't make music like they used to back in the day.  I didn't get too particularly excited about any albums this past year, and a few that I was looking forward to ended up being busts.  The list this year is dominated by familiar (to me) names, as it was a low year in terms of new artist discovery.  Let's hope next year's list turns that around a little bit.

1. Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins
2. Bonobo - Migration
3. Hundred Waters - Currency EP
4. Sylvan Esso - What Now
5. Major Lazer - Know No Better (EP)
6. ODESZA - A Moment Apart
7. Mew - Visuals
8. Death From Above 1979 - Outrage! Is Now
9. Hundred Waters - Communicating
10. Moses Sumney - Aromanticism

11. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
12. Phoenix - Ti Amo
13. UNKLE - The Road: Part 1
14. Alt-J - Relaxer
15. Fever Ray - Plunge
16. Mutemath - Play Dead
17. Feist - Pleasure

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Mogwai @ Terminal 5 (12/8/2017)


The short story is that Mogwai's new stuff is not as good as some of their older stuff, and the more new stuff they play the less good the show is.  I didn't prep much for this show, but I don't think that affected my impression of it too much (though there were certainly a few songs that I didn't recognize).  Their setlist spanned their catalog, which was good for some variety; but their mid-career material (especially Happy Songs for Happy People and Mr. Beast) is their best work in my opinion.  The stage setup and lights were interesting, though not mind-blowing.  I could have done without a couple of sections of excessively loud noise, and the accompanying hearing loss (I need to start taking ear plugs to shows).  It was also weird to see them play a couple of songs with undistorted vocals; one was from the new album, and one I didn't recognize.

Rating: 4.2/5

Friday, November 03, 2017

alt-J @ Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts (11/3/2017)


I was a little worried going into this show because I feel like alt-J's album from this year (Relaxer) is without question their weakest yet, but things turned out better than expected.  The band apparently knows not to play the songs from the album that are garbage.  The setlist spanned their entire backlog so far, and they played pretty much every good song that they have, save for "Hunger of the Pine".  In addition, the light show was on point.  The visuals were stimulating and matched the music well, but at the same time kept the musicians somewhat out of focus.  I have nothing to complain about regarding their performance - it was enjoyable from start to finish.

One thing they did that I haven't seen at a concert before...  At the end of the show they put up credits that named the band, visual artist, crew, etc (and then put up a Thank You).

Rating: 4.7/5

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Hundred Waters @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (10/7/17)


I don't know what it is about too-cool-for-school Brooklyn, but in my humble opinion 10:40 is too late for the main act to come on stage.  I arrived a little before 10pm (doors were @ 8, first act @ 9), thinking that I might be a little late for Hundred  Waters; I was obviously wrong.  They were scheduled to come on third at 10:30, and were about 10 minutes late to start.

Things were pretty good once Hundred Waters started.  They played a lot from their most recent album release (Communicating), but I was pleasantly surprised that they played a few from the prior EP (Currency) - the title track from that EP is my favorite song of theirs this year.  The slow songs from the new album didn't do that much for me, but there were a couple (such as the title track, which they opened with) that I appreciate more now after seeing live.  I was surprised that they didn't play "Xtalk", and wish they would have.  They had 3 dancers perform onstage on a couple of their songs, including that first one.  Overall, I wasn't quite as impressed as the first time I saw them, but it was still a good show.

As an aside, the Music Hall of Williamsburg is a solid venue.  It has a pretty intimate feel without being just a dive.  The layout with the mezzanine also allows it to get pretty loud when the crowd is cheering hard.

Rating: 4.3/5