Sunday, December 11, 2022

Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool @ Vivian Beaumont Theater (December 10, 2022)

Fran's main birthday gift to me this year was a joint celebration by going to see one of our favorite comedians, Mike Birbiglia (or Mikey B, as we call him), in his new comedy show. The show is currently in the middle of a two month run at the Lincoln Center. His last show "The New One" (which was on Broadway for a few months) centered on his experience becoming a new father. I won't give too much away, but this one continues with themes of family, health, and death. I would highly recommend it if you are a fan of Mikey B's previous work.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

I got married yesterday

It was a small civil ceremony on the Mohonk Preserve in upstate New York. We kicked the day off with a helicopter tour of NYC.

There are some pictures from the day here:

Monday, August 15, 2022

Rage Against the Machine w/ Run the Jewels @ Madison Square Garden (August 14, 2022)

Like many people back in the 1990s and 2000s, I was a fan of Rage Against the Machine. And over the course of my concert-going this was one of the bands that I wished I had gotten a chance to see live. So when their reunion tour got announced for summer of 2020 I jumped at my friend Roger's offer to go with him to see them. Fast forward 2 years, a global pandemic, and two postponements. And then Zack (the frontman) went and (according to a report) tore his Achilles tendon about a month ago - two shows into the tour. The band still powered through this first leg of the tour (ending with 5 sold-out nights at MSG), but have cancelled the European portion later this year so that Zack can heal up. As an aside, I didn't know about the injury until Roger told me in between sets at the show.

Roger got us a couple of general admission tickets on the floor. I figured (especially at Fran's urging) that this would be a good first time wearing ear plugs at a show; it's not quite the same, but I didn't miss much (besides hearing loss). Run the Jewels as the opening act wasn't too spectacular, but wasn't bad at all either. I'm a mild fan of their music, but I still think that most hip-hop performances just don't translate as well live as other genres that involve playing instruments.

When RATM came on, the band members carried their injured singer onto the stage; which was a nice touch. He spent most of the show seated in the middle of the stage, but his limited mobility didn't prevent him from bringing his trademark energy. Similarly, the rest of the band were impressively energetic for being in their 50s. It's amazing to see what Tom can do on the guitar. I also liked the clean and open set design with a big screen and lots of lights.

They played 20 songs over about 1h45m.  Their setlist was loaded with the classics, mostly from their earlier albums; "earlier" being relative, as their last album (which was all covers anyway) was released in 2000. While it was great to see and hear all those iconic songs being performed, I was ready to go by the time the show ended. Maybe my bad back and advancing age can't handle standing for 3+ hours anymore. Or maybe it's also that their music does get a bit repetitive after a while.

In any case, I'm glad that I got to see them live, even without the full spectacle of Zack jumping all over the stage. Perhaps I didn't appreciate it as much as I would have 20 years ago, but it was still pretty good.


Rating: 4.3/5

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Beach House @ Kings Theatre (June 20, 2022)

Beach House have a lot of good songs in their extensive catalog. So many gems that it's still a great show even if they leave out a bunch of my favorites. I had a similar reaction the last time I saw them. And like then, I almost didn't go to the show this time; good thing I snagged a ticket last week.

Unsurprisingly, their setlist was heavy on the new album (Once Twice Melody, which is pretty much a double album), and this wasn't a bad thing. It was good to hear a bunch of the new tunes, most of which were solid. A couple of my favorites from the album were each a book-ending highlight or lowlight: I was excited when they started with "Once Twice Melody", but something about the sound mixing at the beginning (or maybe it's just how the live rendition is?) didn't hit quite the same; and they ended the night with a great performance of "Over and Over" (including a false ending), which is easily the track on the album I've listened to the most. It would have been nice if one of the new songs was "Masquerade", which is probably the most different (and dancy, perhaps) from the others.

The rest of the songs were scattered from their other albums since Teen Dream, which itself only had one song played - good to see them moving on from there, even though it was a fantastic breakthrough album. More standouts included "Dark Spring", "Levitation", and "Lemon Glow", but then again I thought the same last time as well. In general, the live renditions stayed pretty faithful to the album versions, save for Alex's solo on "Space Song" (I think?) - which was one of the rare times that a surprise solo was a pleasant surprise.

Overall a great performance, with little to complain about. Except maybe wishing that Fran was in town to enjoy it by my side.


Rating: 4.6/5

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Sigur Rós @ [Kings Theatre, Beacon Theatre] (June [14, 17], 2022)

The original plan was to go to the Tuesday show, but when we originally made the plan we didn't realize that Fran's school would still be in session this week. We realized this a couple of weeks before the show, so I bought tickets for the Friday show as well, and a work colleague (MaryEileen) was able to take Fran's place for the Tuesday concert.

I'm putting both shows together in one post because they were for the most part the same performance, just in different venues, and with one notable difference that I'll mention shortly. The concert was structured similarly to when I saw them a couple of times a few years ago: broken up into two sections by an intermission, with no opening act. They have played essentially the same setlist at every show on this tour, except for the Tuesday show. On that night Goggi mentioned that it was the 25th anniversary of the release of their first album, so they would do something "a little different" - which was add the song "Syndir Guðs", which they were playing for the first time since 2001. Here are the setlists from Tuesday and Friday. I guess another difference between my experience of the two shows was that on Tuesday we were in the balcony at Kings Theatre, while on Friday we were about 10 rows back on the main floor at Beacon.

Although great, both shows weren't without their, admittedly minor, issues. Tuesday's had a couple of small timing blips: once between the band members on "Heysátan", and once when the lighting tech hit a strobe too early on "Dauðalagið" (though I will say that the effect was really strong when they did get it right - something about the isolation of that drum beat combined with the quick strobe). On Friday Jónsi seemed to have trouble with something (in-ear monitors? complete guess), and left the stage unexpectedly 2 or 3 times (during portions or transitions where he wasn't playing or singing). The timing on "Heysátan" seemed a little better, but I can't blame them for not being completely spot on - that seems really difficult to count out in sync.

As for the highlights... In general the second half was more upbeat (which I preferred) than the first one. That half also included more songs from Takk..., which is easily in my top 10 albums of all time. Though I will mildly complain that the live rendition of "Sæglópur" is a bit too heavy on the drums, thus washing out the rest of the intricate instrumentation. I was pleasantly surprised by "Gold 4" (here's a rendition from another show), which seems to be one of two new songs that they're playing on the tour.

Fran thoroughly enjoyed the show as well, and ranked it above all the other concerts I've dragged her to (above James Blake, Radiohead, and Interpol/Tycho). She thought the songs were beautiful, and seemed to be particularly drawn to the quieter ones (especially when they got into "the huddle" on the left side of the stage for a couple of songs, her favorite being Untitled #3 ("Samskeyti")); and in contrast she complained of a couple of the loudest moments hurting her ears. She appreciated the many instruments that the various band members were able to play. She did comment that she could have done without the visuals on the backing screen for the most part, but did appreciate them during a couple of the songs (one with birds on a wire, and another panning up a rock face).

In any case, here are a couple of pics from Tuesday...

And from Friday...

Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Interpol + Tycho @ Kings Theatre (May 14, 2022)

For some reason I forgot before the show that Tycho has a live drummer and guitars during their performances; so it was a bit of a pleasant surprise that it wasn't just him pushing buttons and playing a keyboard. They also seem to be making good use of the larger space on stage (even as an opener) compared to previous venues that I've seen them. As usual they had the video projection thing going on. Their set was pretty solid, and perhaps more consistently enjoyable than Interpol's.

But Interpol was who most people came to see. The crowd went crazy for the old hits, but were much less subdued for the brand new music - they played about 4 new-to-me songs, a couple of which I later found out have been released as singles and a couple yet unreleased (I didn't even know they had a new album coming out). Daniel played keyboards (instead of his usual guitar) on a couple of the new tracks, which was just as surprising as the fact that those two songs (Toni and Something Changed) were "piano" heavy. Of the new songs, my favorite was easily Into the Night (video from a different show); it was the only one I took to immediately. The other noteworthy thing about their performance was the light show, for a couple of reasons: (1) the band members were backlit for pretty much the entire show, so we couldn't see their faces - I don't remember previous shows being like that; (2) they went waaaaay over the top on the strobe lights - I remarked to Fran at one point that I felt like I was being assaulted by the lights.

Rating: 4.4/5

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Tame Impala @ Barclays Center (3/14/2022)


A Tame Impala show is a weird mix of stoner rock and semi-danceable bangers; with crazy lights, lasers, and confetti thrown in. I didn't "prep" much for this show, so most of the songs that were top of mind going in were off their/his latest album, The Slow Rush. Though that album was solid, the show reminded me how many good songs were on Currents. The older songs tended to be not as well received by the audience, as their appreciation skewed more toward the newer and more poppy cuts; and the people definitely went crazy for the big hits. Most songs seemed to have the percussion and bass turned up compared the album version. And I was a bit surprised that they played a couple of "interlude" tracks. In contrast to the wild visuals, Kevin & co's showmanship was much less dynamic; and he only left his spot in the middle of the stage a couple of times. An interesting observation (from the big screen, as I was way too far and high up to make out any detail) was that at least a couple of band members appeared to be wearing (pandemic) masks.

Setlist here.