Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Drop of the Pure, or, how i love the weekend

Dear Web Journal,

I spent tonight in the coffee shop at Cake Shop writing and drinking whiskey (as the profession requires, naturally). I ran into George and Jessica, there to see a friend's band. I love when that happens.

The rest of the weekend's to-do list includes:

order 8 pinatas online
pick up tickets to a show
find black Chinese-style slippers, 2 pair
purchase/make a fishing net
hear the singing of sea chanties (in no connection to the previous)
engineer a believable homeland security terrorist warning gauge
continue writing

I love the weekend.

Love, Rachael

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ladytron and a crappy opening band, or, how I made a mistake and must publicly apologize

Dear Web Journal,

Last Wednesday (um, yeah, like a whole week ago. And what?) I went to my first show at Terminal 5. Had sort of been avoiding it based on other people's criticism of sound and site lines, but it is only 5 blocks up from where I work. Not that that means anything, except the next time your friend is like, "No, I don't want to go see Lita Ford at Terminal 5, that's all the way out in Fuck-Knows-Where Land", just remember, that's also where I drag myself up and out of bed to travel to five days a week. And also remember that hell ya I'd see Lita Ford at Terminal 5. I'd see Lita Ford anywhere. "I went to a party last Saturday night / I didn't get laid, I got in a fight. Uh huh, it ain't no big thing". Digression!

Soooooooooooooo, Ladytron were playing and my dear friend Henry picked up a ticket for me a little while ago. I noticed day-of that Datarock were opening for them. Now, I didn't know anything about them except they wear matching red track suits and are from Norwedenavia (get it? Somewhere in the Scandinavian Peninsula? Glad I spelled it out for you?). Also, I thought it was just two guys and some blip-bleep-bloop music. So I asked my friends to go early to see them and OH MY GOD FRIENDS I AM SO SORRY I DID THAT.

Here's why:

clapclapclap you have the clap

First of all, dudes, it is sooooo obvious your instruments are made of cardboard. Also, your songs suck. And the bass player clearly thought he was in a different Norwegian band. And check out the bling 'round this ones neck. I bet Jacob the Jeweler had a hand in that one. I bet my overly-sensitive and slightly chubby 7th grade self could totally play a better "Mack the Knife" back in the day:


Here are some people not enjoying Datarock:

not impressed

Weird thing was, I think we were the ONLY people not enjoying Datarock. Everyone else was caaa-raaaazy for them by the end of the set. And clearly, with all their braggadocios "you love us New York!" fist pumping, Datarock knew it. And are used to it. Whaaat? According to Sosa, they are big in the Netherlands. Also, Australia. Norwegian sense of humor is corny. Lesson learned.

Unbelievably not corny, however, was Ladytron. Every member of Ladytron embodies that super-cool persona that I quietly covet. If you were there, you'd see why, because pretty much I'm this (minus the monkey):


Wanting to be this:


I'm just going to post some more pictures, which do little to give you the full effect of the awesome light show (I'm a sucka for light shows. Man, I love the planetarium). The lead singer is very minimalist as a performer, mostly holding the mic as she is here in her 1920s meets-Goth-outfit. The Bulgarian one seems a little less confident when she sings or moves, but in an endearing/creepy way. Yep, that duality exists.




smaller clear singer


Love, Rachael

Monday, June 23, 2008

Man in Gray's Last Show; or how pretty much this is just a couple of pictures

Dear Web Journal,

Man in Gray played their last show on Thursday at the Delancey. I wish I'd seen them play more often in my almost three years here. Met some old friends, made some new ones. Enjoyed the music and the general spirit of revelry. It was a pretty classic ending, too, with a fight breaking out when the sound guy turned off their set for the last encore song because some jack ass NY hard core dude wanted to play.

Anyway, here are, like, THREE(!) pictures to remember the night by. In classic Rachael-mode, I left my camera at home. And when I'm not leaving it at home, I am forgetting to charge the batteries. Eh, taking pictures at shows is annoying anyway. But I borrowed the one from work, so here is Tina and Brian and the really attractive drummer and a shirtless bass player and the other guitarist to round it out:


Seriously. Lumber jack+drum set=perfect.

Oh wait, NOW there's a shirtless bass player.


Love, Rachael

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mission of Burma, or, how this is not an ecphrasis

Dear Web Journal,

No, it’s not an ecphrasis, just a somewhat complicated and badly thought out subtitle playing off of one of Mission of Burma’s second encore songs from Sunday night. Buuuuuuuuuut it was a long weekend and I am tired. Way back when I set a goal for myself to write a review after every show I went to, and generally, to make it more personally interesting to me (I am the important one here, duh) I want try and add that personal touch every time. But, I am a failure. And a quitter. A failure and a quitter because I have not been doing this. In fact, I have something written up for a show I saw two weeks ago that I haven’t finished because I’ve just been, well, LAZY. Or busy? Busy being lazy? You know that is a legitimate excuse.

But lo, I am attempting to pick up the reins of self-discipline once more, and herald you, my dear reader, (note the singular, as in my dad, *hi dad*) with tales of Sunday’s Mission of Burma show at the Bowery. It being father’s day and all, I called my dad right before the show and complained to him about how I was down with the typical Sunday evening blues, and it was the best pick-me-up conversation I’ve had in awhile. I love talking to my dad about music because he’s so open-minded. I owe most of my musical knowledge (whatever that may consist of) to him, and he always encouraged any of my earlier personal explorations into punk and the local Salinas hardcore scene though it was mostly a departure from his own vast (closets full!) album collection. That being sad, I could easily see the old man at this Mission of Burma show.

The band played two nights in a row, publicizing that the Saturday show would be the entirety of Signals, Calls and Marches and the entirety of Vs. on Sunday. I adore the idea of an experienced band playing an entire album like this. In fact, in my humble (not humble) opinion, it should be the goal of any band or single performer to be able to craft an album that can be performed in this way. I only saw Sunday’s show and I guess the idea behind this mini-tour is that Matador is re-releasing both albums, to which the drummer said “Many thanks to Matador for re-releasing two albums that no one bought the first time around”. Ha.

Very little talking from the band themselves, though the drummer managed to throw in some sort of nerdy quips. He even got his political statement in there: “Mission of Burma survived the Bush years. Now go back to where you came from, asshole!*” (Disclaimer: I don’t believe he actually said “asshole”. Maybe I am projecting). And they definitely ripped it up on stage. I kind of wish I’d gone to Saturday’s show, too. All in all, a really good show, out for two rounds of encores where they played songs from Signals, Signs and Marches to the delight of the crowd (apparently, Saturday, they did a Pere Ubu cover, too). I know I haven’t really described much about the show, but it erased my Sunday evening blues, and isn’t that what music is supposed to do?

Love, Rachael

Monday, June 02, 2008

My First Free Show of the Summer, or, how i suddenly feel 16 again.

Dear Web Journal,

Going to see Wire play the South Street Seaport proved to be an interesting experience in nostalgia for me, if I am allowed, at age 26, to feel nostalgia. It mostly had to do with the opening band, Die! Die! Die!, whom I was really excited to see. Die! Die! Die! are a three-piece punk band from New Zealand and their first album, recorded with Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, etc), was released when I was working in the import section at the record store. I wrote a little blurb for the rack and put it up on a listening station and would listen to a few tracks after each shift (I could’ve listen to the whole album really, clocking in around 20 minutes total). It was short, quickly paced punk rock and the tracks were humorously titled, with “Franz (17 Die! Die! Die! Fans can’t be wrong)”, and “Auckland is Burning” being the best. Formulaic, sure, but I liked something about it. They’ve come through New York twice that I know of and I missed them both times, so when I saw they would be opening for Wire I was pleased.

I left work early (finally learning how to do that) and met friends at what has been one of my favorite New York bars since Nathan introduced it to me way back when…a great one for enjoying Anchor Steam before the Seaport shows. I am not going to say what bar it is, for fear that soon all of Manhattan will be heading there, because all of Manhattan reads this web journal. Obviously.

My companions for the evening were there to see Wire, but obliged me in going over early to check out Die! Die! Die! (really I just like typing the name. Trust me, I’m holding back. Waaaaayback). Sadly, the sound was not great (which I attribute to the sound board and the location, not the band). Too much drum, too loud on the vocals. But the energy was all there. The singer launched himself over the barrier and into the crowd, the bass player jumped off an amp. Yeah, I’ve seen that before, but, sometimes, who gives a fuck if it still feels genuine? And it did. The bass player reminded me of my college radio co-host and they sounded exactly like I thought they would: like the punk I listened to in high school. I suppose most third-wave or whatever wave this is all sounds similar. But none of this, for that particular Friday night, was a bad thing. Or maybe I was just in a really good mood.

Wire also provided that nice warm nostalgia feeling, but for a different reason. I never listened to them in high school and truthfully have rarely listened to them at all besides that first album, Pink Flag. But there is something interesting about seeing a hugely influential band, especially when it was 30 years ago that they were hugely influential, play. I am particularly interested in how they present themselves. For example, the guitarist was sort of matronly in all black and the lead singer was respectable in a dark suit, but the bass player was in a beanie and tight black shirt, as if he were ready to hit the slopes on his snowboard despite being obviously, well, “old”. Primarily it means the crowds are much more diverse, from the old dudes that listened to them from day one, to these kids that rolled up as it began to get dark, with their Colt 45s in brown paper bags. They couldn’t have been any older than 18, and they’re pushing people around and starting a mini-pit. Usually I am past the days of being tolerant of people ignorantly taking up my elbowroom (I blame living in New York for this). Except that one of them, perhaps the most obnoxious of all, had a Minor Threat patch on his jeans. And he knew all the words. So instead of being my normal, grumpy self, I was really happy that these 16 or 18 or however old they were kids were listening to music that, for all intents and purposes, is probably dead. Because they reminded me of…me?

Love, Rachael

Monday, May 05, 2008

Faith in Humanity Momentarily Restored, or, how maybe chivalry isn’t dead

Dear Web Journal,

It’s Monday. Needless to say, NOT my favorite day of the week. And this Monday I am particularly tired, between working two 6-day work weeks straight and not spending enough time at home sleeping when not working. But yesterday, while what else but? working, I found a cell phone someone had left at our event and did the simple thing-I called the most recent number received.

I was lucky enough to actually get a hold of the cell phone owner, who called me “sweetheart” on the phone a few times too many. Needless to say, NOT my favorite term of endearment. But he was gracious and overjoyed that I had bothered to call and we arranged for him to pick it up from me at work the next day, meaning I would go in at the normal time instead of later like everyone else. I am dumb like this. Really dumb.

But, as of five minutes ago, it was all made worthwhile by a gesture as equally simple as my calling the last number received. He brought me a dozen pink roses.

Despite being dumbstruck by the gesture of flowers (and maybe a little dumbstruck by his appearance – stylish gray suit, handsome face), I kept it together enough so that it didn’t show. I hope. In any case, I’m delighted by the unexpected. People actually do these kinds of things still? I think this could be a great start to another long week.


Love, Rachael

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Unique New York, or, how i redeemed my street cred in one fell swoop.

Dear Web Journal,

At work we use this really dodgy courier service called Unique courier. I swear the people that come to pick up our stuff are all, well, unique. Uniquely recovering from crack addictions. Anyway, this guy comes in with headphones blaring, the big phat (yes) kind with padding around the ear piece. And he says to me, “Yo, yo, who this be?” and I don’t miss a beat: “Fresh Prince”. It was some old Fresh Prince, too. I guess al Fresh Prince is old. Whatever. He threw his hands in the air as if to say “Score”. Bam, I totally impressed him. Proving that I, too, am unique.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Crystal Castles, or, how a strobe light took 3 years of my life but i don't care.

Dear Web Journal,

I am just going to get straight down to it: the show I saw last night was one of the best I’ve seen this year. Yeah, yeah, we’re only 3 months in, but if Health and Crystal Castles can make me feel as euphoric as I did when leaving-equilibrium fucked up and ears gloriously ringing-in spite of it being at Studio B, then you know it had to be good. Not to disparage the venue too harshly. The sound is always fantastic, but I HATE the way they make you wait around from one set to the next, precariously leaving enough time to dissolve whatever high you get from one band before the next comes on.

But as I’m saying, my usual grumpiness that evolves out of 1) cutesy little girls that can’t figure out how to not squirm around next to me and 2) the waiting waiting waiting was totally way-laid by both bands. I knew nothing about Health before seeing them, and even watching all the elaborate equipment set up (an electronic drum kit and keyboard placed on the floor, various guitars and microphones strewn about the set, an actual drum kit in its usual place at the back), I was not prepared for the aural assault to come. I don’t really know what to say---so much energy and all members but the drummer threw themselves around stage. But even in their manic style of play, from banging a single drumstick on the floor kit and doing back spasms on each upswing to swinging the guitar on a strap around their necks, they sounded put together. It was noisy, but it wasn’t noise. I tried taking pictures, but sadly, my camera battery died after the first. So here you go:

Even with the blur of all four band members, the picture does not do justice to what I witnessed. It’s as if I showed you this:

But what I really experienced was this:

Only with additional fireworks and maybe some feral cats. I got lazy in Photoshop.

And then Crystal Castles. Imagine Joan of Arc in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, when she takes over the aerobics class in the mall. But with short black hair and smoky black eye makeup. And instead of to some cheesy 80s aerobic tape, all the high knees, floor-thrashing and bouncing around is to mind blowing dirty electronica meets summer on Ibiza meets her voice being put through 1, 2, 3, probably more, different manipulations, from the heavy whisper-scream (hahh, hahh) to her normal pitch to whatever that distortion is on the song "Crimewave".

And oh! the crowd. With one leg up on an amp at the front of the stage, she would lean in towards the front row and the hands would come from everywhere, clawing at her shirt like lepers waiting to be healed. Does that sound dramatic? Good. Because that's exactly what it was. And most of this is done with a strobe light flashing furiously throughout the entire performance. When I tried to leave, I was so disoriented from the combination of strobe and volume and AWESOME. My friend and I had trouble talking on the walk back. Whoa.

Love, Rachael

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Today I Made A Mortal Enemy, or, how i miss that baklava already

Dear Web Journal,

In all fairness, I was warned my first day at my new job that there were mice. That I should throw away all food and food residue in a specially-lidded trash can (not so special really, just with a hinged flap). That the building is old, has nooks and crannies for mice to hide, that even without proper insulation to keep them warm through winter I was bound to see one soon. But no, in my typical-of-late fashion, I made a decision that proved to be a questionable one. I left out a lovely piece of baklava, a free piece of baklava, given to me in reward for my silly food-related banter by the chef of a nearby deli. Oh, the pain and suffering of what happened next.

That fucking little cunt of a mouse ate my left over piece of baklava.

Not only was I definitely looking forward to eating it, possibly for breakfast, but the first half was so good. So rich with honey, with the bottom few layers absolutely seeped in it. And what with this threat of honey prices sky-rocketing, that baklava was clearly a high commodity. And it would’ve gone nicely with my egg salad sandwich, too.

Yes, egg salad. Somehow I have become hooked on a sandwich I had all but forgotten about until recently (I have Donald and White Plains to thank for that). I’ve had it for lunch maybe 4 out of the 5 times I buy. Luckily for me, my new work neighborhood is chock-a-block with delis. And although Westside Famous Deli (famous!?) has a delicious egg salad, and when I ask for jalapeños on it I get just the right amount, I should really make a conscious effort to break out of the ol’ egg salad routine and explore the rest of my options. Hell’s Kitchen is full of really exciting restaurants, far better food-wise than at the tip of Manhattan. On the rare days when I can stand being outside for the sake of being outside, I’ve ventured for Empanada Mama’s, Amish Market, and, of course, Azurri’s Café whence came the lovely baklava. Which is why this weather has me so frustrated. I need to explore, mostly I need to get away from my desk for a significant period of time, but it’s too cold for me to do so for long. I’ve never been one to order “the usual” so the very minute the guy behind the counter starts to make my egg salad before I’m half way through the door I know it will be time to move on. When there is so much out there to try, why stick with only what you know? Unless, of course, what you know happens to be a lovely piece of baklava.

Love, Rachael