So… in the last 5-6 weeks, I’ve seen 29 concerts (and spent 17 nights away from home doing so). I managed to review 21 of them, which is respectable – but it still leaves me pretty far behind. Some of the shows were particularly good (and there is some good video footage) so I didn’t want to leave them completely unblogged, but I really can’t remember them all well enough at this point to write full reviews. So: to the mini-reviews! I present them to you in chronological order.
Sept 20, 2013. Bill Frisell, Sam Amidon, Jason Moran, Alicia Hall Moran: The show was entitled “Gershwin & Beyond” and was part of the Frisell-curated “Roots of Americana” series at Lincoln Center. The concert was in the absolutely beautiful Allen Room (it’s hard to imagine a prettier place to see a show, for my tastes) and I had a front-row seat. Perfect, right? It was the first concert in my 10-day trip to NYC for Zorn@60, and unfortunately it was a poor match for my mood: I was EXTREMELY EXCITED about that week, I’d been looking forward to it and making plans for months, but the concert was almost universally downtempo and often sad music – I had a hard time switching gears. There were a few very pretty songs, though. I remember really liking “Shenandoah,” sung by Alicia Hall Moran. I unfortunately deleted, by accident, a bunch of videos and photos from that show. (Sorry…)
Sept 24, 2013. The Tri-Centric Orchestra: This event was at Roulette in Brooklyn, on the Tuesday night during our Zorn@60 week when John Zorn apparently decided to take a night off. I like Roulette a lot, but don’t get to go there very often. I was attracted to the show by the orchestra lineup, including 30 or 40 musicians and vocalists – lots of names were familiar to me (Taylor Ho Bynum, Jessica Pavone, Marika Hughes, Ken Filiano, Nate Wooley, Curtis Hasselbring, etc.). They performed three new works (by Ingrid Laubrock, Taylor Ho Bynum, and Mark Taylor) as well as premiering an Anthony Braxton piece written in 1973 but never performed, Composition No. 27. This was a fun night of new music and I especially liked the Mark Taylor composition, even though he was the only one of the composers I’d never heard of before. I’ll have to check out some more of his work.
Oct 7, 2013. A Tribute to Rebecca Rosenthal (including the Dresden Dolls, Jason Webley, etc.): This was a concert organized as a fundraiser and memorial/tribute to a local woman, Rebecca Rosenthal aka Becca Darling, who died unexpectedly and far too young. (You might have seen her in Amanda Palmer’s “Oasis” music video – NSFW – or Neil Gaiman’s short film, “Statuesque,” both of which were screened for us during the concert.) There were many performers during the night, including friends and favorite musicians of Rebecca; but the headliners would probably be considered the Dresden Dolls (with Jason Webley as, er, runner-up headliner). I really liked both of their sets, and filmed some of it. See Jason Webley by clicking here and/or watch the Dresden Dolls here:
If you are interested in making a donation to a scholarship in Rebecca Rosenthal’s memory – click here.
Oct 9, 2013. Secret Chiefs 3: The next concert I went to, at the Sinclair in Cambridge, was Secret Chiefs 3 opening for Goblin. I’ve seen SC3 a bunch of times before – at the Stone, at Brighton Music Hall, at the Middle East, and at a few Masada Marathons. Other than the sets where I’ve seen them playing Zorn/Masada stuff (which is sort of an unfair comparison since I love his Masada compositions so much) this was probably my favorite set that I’ve seen them play. The sound was certainly a major improvement over the other places I’ve seen them in Boston/Cambridge. They were playing in hooded robes and never introduced anyone in the band so I’m not sure who was in the lineup that night. (I might have seen Kenny Grohowski’s hair somewhere in the back, but it was pretty dark…)
Oct 9, 2013. Goblin: I mainly went to this show because SC3 was opening, but I’d heard from a couple of friends that Goblin was really great, too, so I stuck around for their set. I wasn’t really sure I’d like them – they’re an Italian band originating in the 1970s who play progressive rock and specialize in horror movie soundtracks. Doesn’t really seem like my kind of thing, but I try to be open-minded. I ended up really enjoying their set! I definitely recommend checking them out if they are playing near you. They seemed to have a lot of serious fans who were incredibly excited to see them (and they seemed really excited about the set list too, lots of cheers and screaming for a lot of the tracks they played). Good stuff, fun show. Not sure I need to see them again, but definitely worth seeing once.
Oct 14, 2013. Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys: One of my favorite hometown bands, I’ve written about these folks quite a bit this year. I think they announced this concert solely on Twitter on the day of the show, kind of a surprise/pop-up thing. Walter Sickert had painted a piano for Street Pianos Boston, which had been on display at One Kendall Square, and as a little send-off celebration for the piano (which was being removed from display the next day) they decided to do a little acoustic performance using the piano and other instruments they brought with them. It was just a short set, but hearing them play acoustic on this amazing piano on a slightly chilly October evening just after dusk was very special. They filmed some of it, the lighting is a bit weird since it was dark and there were no lights, but the sound is nice:
Oct 20, 2013. Chris Thile: The Celebrity Series (which is generally as expensive as you’d imagine, from the name) brought Chris Thile to Cambridge, at the Sanders Theatre, to perform his latest work, a mandolin interpretation of some Bach pieces, as well as some other material including some of his own songs and some cover tunes. I’ve seen him a few times before, with the Punch Brothers and with Michael Daves, but seeing him play solo was different and I really liked this set a lot. I had an odd corner-of-the-stage seat but I was able to stealth film quite a bit of it (click here for the Youtube playlist). I actually think this music especially rewards better sound quality, so instead of showing you one of my videos, here’s a better one:
Highly recommended for anyone who likes mandolin music (he’s also a great singer, but if you don’t like mandolin music, that won’t save you at one of his shows). I sadly committed a great concert faux pas and sneaked out during the applause before the encore, because his show was 30+ minutes longer than advertised, and I was heading to see…
Oct 20, 2013. Man Man: …Man Man at the Paradise in Boston. I got there just a couple of minute before they started playing, which unfortunately meant that I had a really terrible place to stand. (I’m not a nasty enough person to push and shove my way to the front past people who got there before me, so I accepted my lot in life and kept an eye out for people moving or leaving so I could take their abandoned spot – I made it up to about the 6th row by the end.) I have a feeling if I’d gotten there early and been in the pit with all the cool people who were dancing and singing and waving their arms around like they were having more fun than should be allowed, I would have had a different attitude towards this show. But stuck in the bad-sound, bad-sightlines metaphorical gutter in the metaphorical bowling alley of a concert venue, with all the other people who showed up late because they didn’t really care, well… eh. It was tough to really get into it. Things got a lot better after I weaseled my way forward a few rows, out of Badsoundville and into a place where I could see the lead singer sometimes. I really started enjoying myself, and then the concert ended, because for some reason it was really short. (Maybe an hour and fifteen minutes, at a venue where I regularly see headlining bands play well over two hours.) It was a real disappointment for me that it was over so soon. And they did that pissy thing where they turn the lights/music on the second they leave the stage (after one encore) to make sure you know that they are through with you and no matter how hard you clap and scream, they won’t be back. It felt like a big “fuck you” after such a short concert. I might go see them again, I might not. Mixed feelings about that one.
Thanks for putting up with my delinquency – at least I can rest easily now, knowing that I’m not insanely behind on my blog anymore. My schedule going forward is a little more normal, so I should be able to keep up with things. I’m particularly looking forward to a couple of nights at the Village Vanguard when the Marc Ribot Trio plays a week there at the beginning of November. Check that one out if you’re in New York!