The theme for my concert-going this summer seemed to be “voyages” and in particular water voyages, both to the water, or at least a couple of different beaches, and also on the water, specifically, the East River. As the temperature cools and the fall rainy season drifts in, I bring you some postcards from my last couple of trips:
Willie Nelson, Circus Maximus Theater, Ceaser’s Atlantic City: The show was a little bit more subdued than I was expecting, perhaps a concession to the venue, the age of the audience (there were people in the front row celebrating their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary), or a reflection of Willie Nelson also getting up there (77 and still touring!), or some combination of those things. But it was still a great show. It was, in many ways, something of a relief to be able to just sit down and listen to someone sing familiar songs, undistracted by festival crowds or complicated stage business. He did, among others, Good Hearted Woman, All the Girls I’ve Loved Before and City of New Orleans, and I left refreshed, as if I had been visiting with old friends.
Local Natives/We Barbarians/Young Man, The Beach at Governor’s Island: Young Man was kind of dreamy and pleasant to listen to while half-dozing on the sand; We Barbarians woke me up with their more muscular, drum-driven sound, and then Local Natives came on and got everyone dancing. They’re all a little bit more jam-band-y than I normally go for — I found myself thinking I bet this sounds better in southern California, where it’s sunny all the time and they have palm trees that don’t glow in the dark — but on the whole it was a pleasant way to spend a summer evening.
The Diamond Doves
The Felice Brothers/Diamond Doves, Rocks Off Concert Cruise, East River, NY: You may recognize the Diamond Doves from their alternate incarnation as Elvis Perkins in Dearland’s back-up band. I had never heard them in that context, but doing their own thing they were pretty great. (Especially the guy playing the horn and the keyboard at the same time. Now that is multi-tasking!) And the Felices were, of course, their usual rockin’ selves, though the set was, once again, kind of heavy. Most of my pictures are of the Diamond Doves; the boat was packed and by the time the Felices came on I was too far back and too short to get anything good. I reckon y’all know what they look like by now anyway.
William Beckett and Michael Guy Chislett, The Academy Is . . . (top); Gene Simmons, KISS (bottom)
KISS/The Academy Is . . ./The Envy, Jones Beach Theater: When this tour was announced earlier this summer, the part of the Internet that keeps up with TAI . . . did a double-take, turned to each other and said WHAT?? and IS THIS A JOKE?? Now that I’ve seen the results, I’m even more curious about who came up with this particular line-up. The Envy, of Toronto, Canada, were vaguely gothy hard-rock; all I can really tell you is they didn’t get lost in the arena, which is easy to do at Jones Beach. Then TAI . . . bounced out and did a solid set, pulling mainly from their somewhat heavier back catalog rather than their newier, poppier work and winding up with a cover of Fox on the Run. I enjoyed them tremendously, but the rest of the KISS audience seemed to be politely and quietly baffled. Then KISS came out amid fire and lights, and I hung around to watch the spectacle until I just couldn’t take one more minute of Gene Simmons’ tongue waggling on the jumbotron. I found they left me pretty cold, all things considered. Odd, perhaps, given my fondness for fire, glitter and ridiculous costumes, but I just couldn’t get into it. Also noted: high volume of attendees that were both a) kindergartners and b) wearing full faces of KISS make-up, which was adorable, but also underscored how the whole thing was more carnival than rock concert.