Sunday, July 15, 2018

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

Just seeing my favorite band for the umpteenth time in the umpteenth different 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.


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

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Interpol @ Forest Hills Stadium (9/23/17)

Yeah...having that pole prominently block my view of center stage didn't help my feelings about this show.  But it was still mostly good, regardless.  Per the e-mailed schedule, Interpol was supposed to take the stage at 8:10pm.  Running on CPT like I normally do, I didn't give myself too much travel time buffer to get there before they were scheduled to start (though I had heard Battles and Deerhoof before, I didn't really want to sit through either of their performances).  And then I ran into NYC MTA subway maintenance woes - the E line was not running at the stop closest to the temp corporate apartment I was staying in.  So I had to hoof it over to catch the R a few blocks north, and that train was experiencing delays.  I made it to the stadium around 8:30, but was lucky to find out that Interpol hadn't taken the stage yet - they got on around 8:40 or 8:45.

As planned, they played Turn on the Bright Lights from start to finish - it was the 15th anniversary of their debut album's release.  They also played another song from that era, but I had never heard it before.  After a break they came out for an encore, but only got through 3 or 4 songs before they were stopped due to the strict 10pm curfew.  Maybe starting late wasn't that great after all.

Performance-wise, they were mostly on point.  Paul's vocals sounded a bit off on quite a few songs, but I'm not sure if it was him, the sound mix, the acoustics in the stadium, or some combination thereof.  It would have been nice to hear them play a few more songs, especially more of the newer material.  So the shortened show and sub-optimal view from my seat gives this concert a lower score than it would deserve in ideal conditions.

Rating 4.3/5

Thursday, September 21, 2017

MuteMath @ Brooklyn Steel (9/20/2017)

This was my first show after moving to NYC.  I timed my arrival pretty well, getting there just as the second opener was finishing up.  MuteMath played for close to an hour and 45 minutes.  I wasn't feeling it that much for the first part of their set (during which they played a few of the new tunes), which had me a bit worried.  But things eventually picked up through the intermission and one-song encore ("Typical", of course), and I was on a pretty good high when I left (in addition to a bit of hearing loss).  They did seem to play a bunch of the songs differently than they have in the past (or at least differently from the album versions), and I'm not sure if that's related to Darren's (the original drummer) departure or not.  Paul had some nice dance moves and a few antics, including bringing his daughter out for one song.  Their stage setup was all white, including their clothes and instruments, which went well with the video projection.  I was a little disappointed in the energy of the crowd; it may not have sold out, which I wouldn't have guessed for an NYC show, even on a Wednesday night.  The venue was pretty cool, though.

Rating 4.4/5