Wednesday, February 28, 2007

When the Sad Little Stars Come Out to Play

Earplugs 2$ it says at the door to Piano's main concert space, and you should take this as a piece of advice: It's damn loud in there. No place to take a date to, unless you want to scream into each others ears, or when the Sad Little Stars perform, cause then you both will be moved so much by the music that everything will be good. Guaranteed. And they are only getting better, growing together as a rocking five piece, swinging punk and beastie boyish hooks, with Rachel's bright smile stealing the show and Max' charming understatement. He says the new record is out in 6 weeks, which in my opinion is 36 days too long. Expect diamonds of songs, and a band that is obviously having so much fun on stage, it's a pleasure just to watch, let alone listen, even if the sound is as overpowered as it was at Piano's. Let's hope for brilliant sound and stars tonite at Europa in Greenpoint!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Luna Lounge Hosts Stadium Rock

Overlord: Big melodies, real passion

No bad word about Overlord, they are a solid combo, have great songs and George is certainly one of the strongest singers on the scene. The big stage at the new Luna Lounge, now in Williamsburg and the big sound emphasized the bands knack for big tunes - songs, as one title suggests, that save the world. The Hourly Radio started strong, young and blackclad and cute, but after a couple of tracks we realized it was all U2, Coldplay and Radiohead, with a bit of Cure and Madonna (yes.) thrown in. Verdict: They are good, but lack originality. Even more so does the Go Station, which are not much more than a weak Oasis rip-off, sorry.

The Hourly Radio - Music for the Masses

We hope you've come to appreciate the additional photos of the shows you usually find at Anita's Photo Diary!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lucinda Black Bear

I had been listening to that song 'Fought the Bear' over and over again, it was driving me crazy! Finally I got the chance to hear Lucinda Black Bear performing it live. And it felt as if the performance was only for us and our friends. The ambiance at 'Mo Pitkin's' was so intimate with everybody sitting around tables and having food and drinks while this amazing band was performing.

I was in awe of Cristian Gibbs' singing. I am lost for words. I can't help it, it makes me so emotional... The band was great too, playing together so perfectly and supporting the marvelously simple melodies of the lead vocals. And I liked the joke the pianist was telling, seriously!

I was lucky enough to capture my favorite song with my cam. So check it out here and don't get distracted by the waitress walking into the picture to serve some food. I think it only emphasizes the intimacy I was talking about before:

Clare Burson, the violinist of the band followed up with her own performance singing and playing a beautiful baby-blue guitar. She surely has some interesting stories to tell and she has a great voice. I preferred the songs she played accompanied by another guitar, bass and drums: especially that song 'Blue Pearl' is intriguing!

As always, more pics in my personal photodiary!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lessons at Annex: Ornithology, English, Photography

Dark Room at the Annex, NYC
First we learned about birds, then we headed to the English Depratment and in the end found us developing pictures in the Dark Room - felt like going back to school on Tuesday at the Annex. Falcon presented tracks from their new CD. The guys don't talk much, Neil rather sings like a, well, y know, and his preferred topic is birds, of course, and he sure knows how to craft a beautiful tune. He could lend one to the Flaming Lips who seem to be running out of those. But the Falcon really takes off in the instrumental parts when Botanica's Christian Bongers and Longwave's Shannon Ferguson show off and push the songs to new heights. I've come to expect a lot from The English Department since there red hot show at Union pool. They have the hooks and the songs, singer David Wallace is somewhere between a young Paul Weller and a shy Billy Armstrong and his brother Justin wanders around the stage like a nerdy Flea. The band tried hard at the Annex, but the vocals just didn't cut through and had way too much reverb. Which brings us to Dark Room, in which two impressive ladies swing the strings and rock that room pretty hard. I liked the punk driven material better than the goth stuff, but that is a matter of taste. Singer JC has a great voice and a great front personality, bass player Jen is just classic, a tall Gaye Advert.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Room, Yes, But Not Enough Space!

What a blast we had at East River Bar. It was packed with bike messengers, single strap bags, hooded sweaters, young confident people and stacks of attitude. Turned out the three bands were strangely compatible with the wild crowd. But I let Lars from the fantastic Moss Empire tell the story. You can find his original post on their MySpace page. Just one more thing: Hold on to that drummer you got there, Compass - he not only comes from Liverpool, he is the perfect mix of Ringo and Dave Grohl.

Moss Empire Rule the East River Bar

Compass tore into their set with adorable furor and style

Table Hopping, Kick Drum Jumping Room

Here's what Lars writes:

Monster Track Bike Party Mayhem

When you see a bunch of fixed gear bikes outside the bar you know it's gonna get interesting.

So our pal Roman from Room hooked us up with this gig at the East River Bar Saturday night. And we're thinking, 10 of our best friends in a room. And it's all shady -- we have to bring the drums, the PA is a rumor, and this place is literally under the bridge, so there's a troll-like "grind your bones up for my bread" vibe to the place. And we park the van and it won't start.

So we roll in at 8:00 PM and the find out there's been a massive international bike messenger race that day and for better or worse, we are going to be the entertainment. The challenge: there's half an inch of water-beer on the floor and 200 hopped up messengers on the "stage." Long story short: We commandeer some space with the bartender's help, literally clear folks out, establish a perimeter, set up, and 45 minutes behind schedule we finally get it together and Compass goes on. But are the messengers/alley cats going to be surly? 'Cause this party, make no mistake, belongs to THEM. Is this going to be the Blues Brother playing at a C+W bar? Bill and I nervously try to remember the words to "Rawhide."

But the show must go on. And the bike messenger/racers are hopped up on bike messenger adrenaline and beer after beer after beer, and Compass gets them warm with their lovely low atmo-bass thing.

So we're second, and it's like setting up for practice, only with a crowd surrounding us on all sides, racers dancing to the jukebox, no monitors, and cables everywhere to trip on. There is nothing more punk rock than this. After 15 hurried minutes setting up we just start to play. Total strangers two feet away, into it. This girl standing dead in front of Nancy rocking out and egging her on. When we get to Codependent and a mosh pit erupts in a fixed-gear frenzy in front of the jukebox (our first mosh pit). And THEN the intensity mounts and the volume rises and the speed increases and we're just a rocking island in a sea of insane adrenaline junkies who ride without brakes (and 20 bemused friends). And it is beautiful. By the time we get to "Nature" it feels a little, just maybe, like X instead of "Retarded X."

And it gets even more beautiful. Room steps up, vamping under the end of the prize ceremony. Bernd is twanging, Jean is sweating in his Argyle Sweater, Martial is pounding, Jan is holding it together, and Roman is flying all over the room. Kick drum leaps, flying down the stairs, climbing the PA, looking like the bastard issue of David Bowie and Dean Wareham.

And then we're done and loaded out and the messengers are raving and we turn the key and the van starts right up. We want us some more of that.


Adam has a Girlfriend!

The Sidewalk Cafe was packed already 2 hours before Adam Green was scheduled. Fortunately, I found a nice strategic place in the back to sit and wait for his turn. The performers before him were good, but nobody really seemed to care. There were tons of kids waiting to see their hero.

Then they stopped letting more people in. Thank god, I was afraid to get squashed and in my very Swiss way was thinking 'How many people are allowed to be in here according to the fire police?' and 'Where is the next emergency exit?'. But anyway, I tried to be New York cool and to get a good spot for taking pictures.

When Adam Green finally made his way through the crowd and sat down on a chair on stage, he seemed to be pretty out of it. But who cares, he started singing and everybody got very quiet or started singing along. The place was so full of love, nobody minded Adam forgetting which chords to play (he always plays with a band now, is his excuse). The Sidewalk Cafe was the first place he has ever played back in the days when he still knew the chords so the whole event was very nostalgic.

After a couple of songs Adam introduced his very cute girlfriend and asked her to come up to the stage to sing with him. Some girls standing behind me got extremely nervous and I heard one ask another: 'What did he just say? He has a girlfriend???' Poor girls, their biggest dream being shattered right there. Anyway, the 'family act' - as Adam called it - was quite cute and he resumed finishing his set.

It was difficult to take pictures as I was way in the back, but I managed to make this movie of him performing 'Bluebirds'. His lyrics are just so much fun!

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Jam Reunite - But Without Weller!

Maybe Sunday morning is not the best time to go see a hard drinking brit like Paul Weller and Virgin Megastore is definitely not the right setting for the lad from Woking...but word had it he was going to play Jam songs. Alas, there was one, "Shopping", the rather obscure B-side of the band's last single, "Beat Surrender". For the rest, Mr. Weller played mostly stuff from his solo years, the contractually guaranteed 30 minutes, then the grey haired bard left without further ado and certainly without encore. What abummer. His three night stint at Irving Plaza, announced as a Jam eve, a Style council night and a Weller solo show, was totally sold out weeks ahead, but we got in for a couple of songs on Monday, which was supposed to be the Jam night, anyway. The audience got to hear Jam beauties such as "Tale from the Riverbank," "Man in the Corner Shop" and "Thick as Thieves" and sang along louder than the Modfather. But a slight diappointment here, too: It wasn't an all-Jam set, he put in quite a few Weller solo songs. Well, you can't play the songs you wrote when you were twenty all your life, can you? Seems some can: With the new release of old Jam songs and the growing interest in the famed London band, the two other members are tired of being left out: Bass player Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler decided to reform the band, albeit without Paul, who has never spoken to the two since he split the band back in 1982. Buckler and Foxton never really got over it. They wrote a revealing bio ("The Jam - Our Story") about their days in the band. Foxton told me that he still sends Weller x-mas cards every year, and never got a single reply. Buckler, who started a Jam cover band called 'The Gift' in 2005 says he is convinced, the project will work without Paul. "It's not just a gift to Bruce and me, but to all Jam fans," Buckler says. Below, you can check out what they sound like without the Wellah.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Don't miss The English Department

Those boys rock, I tell you! So check out their myspace page and come to the Annex next Tuesday (February 20). 'Falcon' are on at 8 pm and my beloved English-born boys at 9pm, followed by 'Dark Room' and 'Waking Lights'.

And the rumors about Adam Green playing the Sidewalk Cafe on Sunday for free seem to be true! This space is tiny, so who is going to try get in with me? We should be there early and check out all the performers before him too!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Design Your Own Room Flyer! Live this Saturday Feb 17th at East River Bar

Maybe somebody should hire Jan and me as marketing strategists since we've come up with the bestest of new ideas. We discovered that when we make flyers and hand them out, more people come to our shows. Now, if one flyer brings 50 more people, how many more will two or more flyers generate? So we went ahead and designed two great and different flyers for your viewing pleasure. Then we went on and invited two very special bands to play with us, and they designed nice flyers, too. So you got 4 flyers, 3 bands, 2 geniuses and one evening that promises to be good, too: No matter what the unpredicitable Room will sound like, Compass and Moss Empire are certainly worth a listen! But now check out the flyers, send em on to your friends. and if you want to, you can design your own flyer and post it!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Fortified Winter Antifolk Fest 2007

We went to the Fortified Antifolk Fest 2007 on February 10, because these two performers were up, that I had heard before and had made me addicted to hearing them: Chelsea Lynn Labate and the band 'Here lies Pa'.

Chelsea writes poetic lyrics which are serious and funny at the same time. She performs them singing and playing the guitar, sometimes accompanied by the pianist Steve Waitt. She makes people laugh and dream; she makes you feel happy listening to her music. She's just wonderful! Check out her myspace page.

'Here lies Pa' front man Paul Basil just has this amazing voice. I am officially in love with his voice! Now I have admitted to it... He also writes beautiful lyrics and even tough the songs are more intense when he performs them alone, the band adds a full new level to it. Especially the slide guitar used in some of the songs is heartbreaking. I am just waiting for the song 'Beverly Road' to come out and it will be in my most played tracks in my charts within a few days, promised guys!

You can watch them perform 'Falls' here (Sorry, a bit shaky again):

There was also the performance of 'Wakey! Wakey'. He is obviously very talented and original. I loved his piano piece called 'Falling Apart', great lyrics too!

More pictures in my photodiary for February, also of 'Wakey! Wakey!'
who turns out to be a very handsome guy, too! (I'm sorry, but I just
can't stop commenting on peoples looks, well, especially guys' looks,
but then we have Roman for comments on female artists, right?)

The Fortified Winter Antifolk Fest 2007 will still be running this week, so go to the Sidewalk Cafe if you want to witness some new interesting performances. Oh, and Adam Green is performing on Sunday February 18!

Seasick: Cross Suzie Quattro with M.E.Smith

Well, Tonic kind of guarantees for the quality of the music, but I was really impressed by Seasick. Leader Jasmine Golestaneh is any rockers dream: She plays a mean dark guitar, carries a tune, dares to scream, knows how to move on stage and has the right attitude, paired with the bit of neccessary arrogance to have command of the audience. Weird songs, held together by solid keyboards and very inventive, passionate drumming. Check them out on MySpace, but let me tell you, the live experience is something completely different. Think of Suzie Quattro crossed with The Falls M. E. Smith, throw in a bit of Sonic Youth and you will feel seasick. Constanza, a rather reserved italian girl opened, and surprised with great songs veering between Portishead and an electronic Suzan Vega.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Justin Timberlake goes Punk

I wasn't expecting a big night out when we head down to Williamsburg, but we ended up being thrown out of the bar when they were closing. So what went wrong?

The first band Pretendo was a real surprise to me. Those guys are all a little short, if you ask me, but when they hit the stage that really didn't matter anymore. But why the hell did the drummer take off his red hoodie after the first song? Next time he should really just leave it on no matter how hot he gets: I dig the skater-turned-rocker looks. But what really convinced me was when the bassist was singing and I was thinking: is this Justin Timberlake going punk? I love it! And the keyboard added that little electroclash something to top it off. Get an impression in this short video:

And then the Melorex gig: Heather was cool as ever on the drums, while Kristofer and Pierre were switching guitar and bass between songs. I already knew the Melomane songs and even though I like them very much in original, the Melorex versions were rough in a very good way. And didn't Kristofer look a little like Justin Timberlake in that suit?

Here is a movie of them performing 'Unfriendly Skies', so you can directly compare the Melorex version with the Melomane version in my last post!

After the show it was 'shots with the band' as Pierre put it and some foosball in the back. But hey, why do the foosball tables in the States have three guys in the back??? One is really enough! I have to practise how to handle all three of them for next time...

More pics in my photodiary, and more footage on my youtube account.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Melorex Showcase at East River Bar

The members of Room were surprised tuesday night at their regular rehearsal studio Coyote to hear familiar sounds: Next door, Heather, Kristofer and Pierre were practising for their first ever show - not to be missed this Thursday night at the East River Bar, 92 South 6th Street, Williamsburg. From what we could learn during our exclusive visit, they sound solid and powerful, a fine blend of Melomane and Morex Optimo that will hit France next week. East River Bar has a foosball table, too. Coyote, sadly, will close down in march. They are selling all the gear, in case you're interested.

falcon works

Hi everybody! I am Anita, Roman's new assistant blogger. See, I take so many movies and pics and he is just sick of downloading them and linking them up, so he asked me to do it myself. I hope you don't mind. I am not a journalist and I am a foreigner, so please excuse my very subjective way of writing and my not so flawless English. However, I would appreciate it if you told me in a nice way if I repeat the same errors in English over and over again, I am trying to improve it. But hey, maybe you just like my Swiss accent? That is fine too. So let's get to the point:

I had so much fun at the benefit party for Falconworks, so thanks a lot, Genevieve! For everybody, who couldn't make it, please check out their homepage. They are doing amazing work!

Whoever was there and loved it as much as I did and for whoever wasn't there - you can watch a movie of 'Melomane' performing 'Unfriendly Skies' right here:

On Sunday I went to see 'Room' and 'C.Gibbs' at the 'Cakeshop'. The first time I saw Christian Gibbs live and it definitively met my high expectations. I was thrilled! Again, I was taking movies like crazy and the best one of C.Gibbs is on youtube now. There is not much to see, except Christian Bongers bobbing head, but the sound is great! And I think you get a feel of how it was like to be there:

You can see pics of both the benefit and the gigs at the Cakeshop in my photodiary for February.

We will tell you soon what is up this weekend, so stay tuned. I think this is enough for now. God, I get all these error messages with this blogger, I first have to figure out how this works!

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly at the United Nations

Ennio Morricone's concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall was a triumph and caused more emotion, joy and dreams than this place has seen in years. This will be remembered for ever.

Here's a little blurp i wrote, for those of you who read german.

Zwei glorreiche Halunken

Lou Reed trifft Ennio Morricone bei der Uno in New York

Wenn Lou Reed jemanden mit seiner Anwesenheit beehrt, braucht man über den Geehrten kaum weitere Worte zu verlieren. Seinen Respekt vor dem Werk Ennio Morricones wähnte der New Yorker Rockstar, der als einer von vielen Stargästen zum Konzert des italienischen Altmeisters im grossen Saal der Uno-Generalversammlung in New York geladen war, denn auch als selbstverständlich.

Statt wie Miss Universe oder der Jazzer Pat Metheny die Aufgaben des Uno-Personals zu würdigen, welchem Maestro Morricone das Konzert gewidmet hatte, wich Reed vom Protokoll ab und benutzte seinen Auftritt für eine politische Botschaft. “Ein Milliarde Menschen leben ohne Zugang zu sauberem Wasser,” hob er zwar an, kam dann er aber gleich zur Sache: “Wir müssen raus aus dem Irak. Ich hoffe, die Uno hilft uns, aus diesem Schrecken wieder herauszufinden. Ich kann es nicht ertragen, vom Missbrauch anderer zu profitieren.” Die internationale Morricone-Fangemeinde im Uno-Saal spendete Applaus.

Auch der Meister der Spaghetti-Westernmusik, der einst die kitschigen Gangsterfilme seines Schulkumpanen Sergio Leone vertonte, verlieh seine Stimme dem Frieden. “Voci dal Silenzio” hiess Morricones Stück, das unter dem Eindruck der Anschläge vom 11. September 2001 entstand und den Opfern oft bereits vergessener Tragödien gewidmet ist. Eindrucksvoll stellte Morricone unter Beweis, dass ihm im Alter die Experimentierfreude nicht abhanden gekommen ist: Im bedrohlich modernen Werk spielen Orchester und Chor live mit Stimmen und Gesängen aus dem Computer. Da stand selbst Lou zur Ovation. Diesem ist immerhin zu verdanken, dass Punk nun als Kunstform in die Uno-Annalen eingegangen ist: Reed wurde als “Meister des Punk und Grunge” vorgestellt.

Morricones Triumphzug zieht von der Ostküste der Staaten in den Westen weiter: Er holt Ende Monat in Los Angeles endlich einen verdienten Oscar für sein Lebenswerk ab. Fünf Mal ist der 78jährige Italiener bisher für den Filmpreis nominiert gewesen - jedes Mal schmähte ihn die Academy.

Roman Elsener

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Morricone, Chrysler, Melomane, Morex... What More Can You Ask For?

This is why we love living in New York: The weekend is opened by Ennio Morricone, who performs "Voci del silenzio" in the General Assembly hall of the United Nations with a 200 piece orchestra - we'll be telling you who was the good, who the bad and who the ugly.

Then, on Saturday, we highly recommend you a double bill: Go to Club Midway to the Benefit Show "Hand picked" to support Falconworks' Teen Playwriting Programm "Off the hook", where Daniel Carlson, Coney Island Swan Dive and Leslie Mendelson will perform. Take the short trip from Midway to Tonic to check out the homecoming show of the fantastic Dorit Chrysler and mingle with celebrities, then head back up to Midway to see one of the rare Melomane shows as highlight of the Falconworks benefit.

No rest for the wicked ones on Sunday! After soccer, don't settle in your seats, drinking beer and eating pizza, watching the Superbowl. No, you gotta come out to The Cake Shop on 152 Ludlow Street to witness this years incarnation of Room, graciously early at 8.30, followed by C. Gibbs at 9.30, so that you can be safely tucked under by midnight.

Cause also the next week won't be boring: We'd like to direct your attentin to the first ever show of Melorex, the combination of Melomane and Morex Optimo that is about to tour France. Marek of East River Bar has opened a slot on Thursday night, Feb 8th, for all us poor New Yorkers who can't fly to France to witness the birth of a new New York Uebergroup.