Postcards from the Pit: Lita Ford / Poison / Def Leppard, Jones Beach, 7/13/2012

It was a Friday night, hot, muggy and still. The buses to the show – now reinstated, THANK YOU, NASSAU COUNTY – were jam packed with music fans and people coming up off the sand. Mostly I was hoping it wouldn’t rain. The Jones Beach Ampitheater doesn’t have a roof and unless there’s lightening, the show goes on.

By the time we finally got there, Lita Ford was already on the stage, though I don’t think I missed more than a song and a half. This is one of my favorite pictures from the evening. Look at that grin!
Though I’m fond of these two as well. Lita Ford is a bad-ass, y’all.
And one last one, taken during Close Your Eyes Forever, her (in)famous duet with Ozzy Osbourne, which she sang by herself because as she wryly pointed out, he wasn’t there to help. Her chords crashed majestically, though. It … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: JJAMZ, Webster Hall, 7/10/12

Alex Greenwald and Z Berg, during LAX

I’m putting this shot first mainly because it is my favorite from the evening. I’m fond of the song, too, even though at first Alex Greenwald + what seems to be a frilly love song = major cognitive dissonance.

But by his second verse – So I carved both our names into my pale white chest/Asked you to do the same/It seemed a reasonable request/I nearly lost it when you said yes. – things have taken a turn back towards familiar and deeply weird territory.

Overall feelings: It was a great show. They powered through a selection of tunes from their new record, Suicide Pact (out now!), including the title track, Heartbeat (now with super-creepy ’80s horror movie video!), Never Enough, Cleverly Disguised,Get What You Want and Square One, and also did an awesome cover of Elastica’s Connection.

They are on the road with the NYLON + Starbucks Summer Tour through the end of July, and after a few of their own shows will be headed out with the Superhumanoids in August. Check their … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: The Saw Doctors / Iridesense, Irving Plaza, 3/10/2012

The first time I saw the The Saw Doctors is a little bit lost in the mists of time. It was probably around 1996; I have the feeling they were at Glasgow’s annual Celtic Connections festival that year and when I said “The Saw who?” my friends made outraged noises and took steps to address my ignorance.

What I do remember is combing the racks in Tower Records to find their CD – under rock, not “traditional” or “world”, because they were and are a rock band – and the second time I saw them, a wild evening a a club in DC called the Black Cat, which for me ended in leaving while the pit was still jumping in order to make a mad dash down 14th street and get on the train before the Metro shut for the evening.

This past Saturday night at Irving Plaza, though, I was able to stay until the joyful end.

I don’t really have any complicated thoughts here. Iridesense (sic) were the openers; in my estimation they got all the way to “not a terrible way to spend half an hour”, but did not really turn my crank.

When … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: TESLA / Built By Stereo, Irving Plaza, 2/17/12

IMG_5237TESLA, on the 25th Anniversary of the Five Man Acoustical Jam.

 I waited 25 years for this show, and it was worth every minute. The experience was all the sweeter because I made new friends in the line, and they saved me a spot on the rail. So not only did I get to see a band I never thought I’d be able to see live, but I got to be up close and personal with them while I was at it. Best Valentine’s Day present I bought for myself ever!

Built By Stereo opened the show. They rocked as hard as they possibly could without falling off their chairs. I was especially impressed with their drummer, who brought some real power and pizzazz to their set. Here are some pictures of them:

IMG_5124The left half of Built by Stereo: Brandon Hood (bass) and Daniel Espinoza (vocals, guitar).


IMG_5121And the right half, with part … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: The Darkness / Foxy Shazam / Crown Jewel Defense, Irving Plaza, 2/4/2012


This past Saturday night I went to the third show of The Darkness’ current North American tour, which is their first visit to these shores after a six year hiatus. It was an amazing evening; one of the many highlights of my time in the pit was the multiple occasions the dudes around me started air-guitaring along with the band.

The setlist was a mixture of old and new songs, and included the entirety of their first record, Permission to Land. Highlights: One Way Ticket, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us, Get Your Hands off My Woman, Love Is Only A Feeling, Everybody Have a Good Time and, of course, in I Believe In a Thing Called Love. If the new tunes are anything to go by, the record they’re working on right now is going to be a banger. I can’t wait to hear the rest of it.

And now, some pictures, starting with the first opener, Crown Jewel Defense, who have a record out.

IMG_4957Taylor Hood and Steve Ford

Continue reading

Postcards from the Table By The Stage: Mud, Blood and Beer, The Lakeside Lounge, 1/5/2012


Mud, Blood & Beer is: Stephen Swalsky (bass), Jon Glover (guitar / vocals), Stephen Sperber (drums) and Jess Hoeffner (guitar / vocals) and last Thursday I kicked off my 2012 concert season with their show at the Lakeside Lounge. (There is no lake anywhere near the Lakeside Lounge.  Except maybe in the gutters by Tompkins Square Park in the spring, after a hard rain.)

Anyway, they play good old-fashioned rock and roll lightly infused with country, or else good old-fashioned country with sturdy rock and roll underpinnings, depending on how you want to look at things. However you want to file them, their songs feature everything I like: strong rhythm section, bursts of fancy picking, and the occasional pedal-steel filigree. As an example: their video for Mine the Light, from their brand new record, Gone for Good:


Mud, Blood & Beer – "Mine the Light"

Watch this video on YouTube


They’re playing a record release show on Feb. 4 at the Bitter End. If you’re in the NYC area that weekend, stop in and check them … Continue reading

Postcards from the Orchestra: Tori Amos / Thomas Dybdahl, Beacon Theater, 12/3/2011



The last time I saw Tori Amos in concert was, I am pretty sure, somewhere around 1996, not long after she released Boys for Pele. So I may not have recognized very many of the songs on Saturday, but I can tell you this: her voice has only grown more beautiful with time. And while she’s not as angry as she used to be, she has lost absolutely none of the raw power that made (makes) her great.

On this particular tour, which is in support of her new record Night of the Hunters, she’s expanded her stage show to include the Apollon Musagète string quartet, and the overall effect is really, really lovely. The tour is still going; she’s in Toronto tomorrow (12/8) and will be swinging westward from there. Go see her if you can.


Meanwhile, here are some pictures from the evening:



IMG_3087 Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: Patrick Stump, Starland Ballroom, NJ, 11/4/11

To the left, in the snazzy teal suit: Patrick Stump, formerly of Fall Out Boy. To the right, on the bass, Matthew Rubano, formerly of Taking Back Sunday. Also present are Michael Day on guitar, and Casey Benjamin (HEAVy) on keys and saxophone. (Skoota Warner of Ra is playing drums on the tour, he’s just not in this picture.)

Patrick Stump and friends – technically this is a solo tour for him – were the second of three acts in the show I went to last Friday. The  first opener was Foxy Shazam, the headliner was Panic! at the Disco, and I’ll get to back to them later. First I have to tell you that how Mr. Stump and his merry crew put on a defiant, triumphant, raucous roller-coaster ride of a show. I was actually really surprised at some of the pictures I was able to get, given the way the pit was heaving.

Like this one, for example:


The set started with … Continue reading

Notes on a Final Show: The Academy Is . . . (2003-2011)

The second night of the Fueled by Ramen 15th Anniversary celebration happened the Friday after Labor Day, the end of a week that had been both somewhat short and unbearably long. Summer was not quite done with Manhattan yet; it was hot, sticky, and close. I was tired and perhaps a little bit feverish, worn thin, or perhaps worn out.

I almost didn’t go.

But after a (slightly longer than planned) disco nap , I made my way down to T5 and eeled my way into the pit. Oversleeping meant I was further back than I really wanted to be, but it was early yet, and the crowd was loosely packed. I’ll move up as we go along, I thought, and I did, slipping into breaks in the ranks as the crowd shifted between sets.

Oversleeping also meant I missed the first band, so I started the evening with A Rocket To the Moon, and my notes on them were “So that’s who Halvo is” and “Oh, you’re the ones responsible for the Fueled By Ramen Holiday Sale song!” The former is their bassist, and is properly known as Eric Halvorsen; the latter is a remarkably infectious earworm … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: Woods

The evening I saw them, Woods was the last band of a four-band show at the Bowery Ballroom. They shared the bill with Widowspeak (ethereal on top, solid and dark on the bottom, very good); White Fence (high quality surf punk, even better when I wasn’t being moshed into a wall); and Ducktails (he has a new record out). I had gone out mainly to see White Fence;  by the time Woods came on it was late, it was also Saturday, so I resolved to hang out at least for a little while – two or three songs, maybe – and see if I liked them.

Readers, I loved them. Woods are delightful, and I stayed for their whole set. Many of their tunes were sweet, delicate indie-pop confections, but woven carefully between the hand-clapping sing-along songs were darker, more psychedelic instrumental numbers that functioned as the aural equivalent of a palate cleanser.

I enjoyed every minute of their time of the stage, and I strongly encourage you to get a-hold of their new record, Sun and Shade. I have had it on my iPod more or less since the show, and their songs never fail … Continue reading