Postcards from the Pit: Black Veil Brides / William Control / Wildstreet, 1/25/2013

This was not my first show of the new year, but it was the one I looked forward to for days in a state of nervous, fluttery happiness. It was also my second Black Veil Brides event in one week; the first one was a viewing of Legion of the Black, the movie that accompanies / amplifies their new record, Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones.

I say accompanies/amplifies because the movie both illustrates and provides a narrative structure for the record. You can listen to and enjoy the record without ever watching the film, but it’s somewhat like listening to the official soundtrack of a Broadway show and never seeing the stage play itself.

I got watch five minutes of the movie at the listening party in December; having now experienced the rest I can tell you it is interesting, conceptually and thematically, but I’m holding off on making detailed commentary until I can watch it again when it gets a wider re-release in the spring.

Meanwhile, onwards to the show:
 
Wildstreet, of New York, were up first. They have a new record out. Here are some pictures of (most … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: Ceremony, Webster Hall, 12.02.12

Ceremony were not the headliners for this show – that was Titus Andronicus – but they were the band I liked best. The first opener was Lemuria, who were pleasant but didn’t really turn my crank, and as for Titus Andronicas, I just wasn’t feeling it this time. Everyone else was having the best possible time and losing their collective minds, though, so I think it was me, not them.

Ceremony was a surprise in a number of ways. First they were American punks when I had been expecting British goths1 – some day I will learn to read band bios before shows – and second, the previously placid pit exploded the moment their first note sounded.

The reason most of the pictures are a little bit blurry is because the floor beneath me was vibrating from the force of the audience’s enthusiasm. I was mainly hanging on to the barrier as tightly as I could and occasionally ducking stage divers.

Their music is ferocious and beautiful. It sounds like both the end and the beginning of the world, and like something complex and spiky being annealed in the blue core of a fire.

 
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Postcards from the Pit: The Darkness / The Dirty Pearls / Sweatheart, 10/22/12

This show fell into the time period I refer to as “Halloween or Tuesday?”, in which, due to New York’s ah, vibrant populace, it is sometimes hard to tell if the person / group of people wearing what appear to be costumes are on their way to/from a Halloween party, or if they customarily rig themselves out in, say, top-hats, tails and corsets just to make a quick run up to the store.

So when Sweatheart came out in their vaguely Medieval-looking outfits, you could probably see the Hmmm thought bubble floating above the crowd. I wasn’t really sure but was willing to come down on the side of Halloween. (I was also wondering what The Darkness would come up with as Halloween costumes.)

As soon as the next band came on, though, it became apparent that we were not at a Halloween show, and snakeskin bodystockings, furry cuffs and monk robes were just Tuesday for Sweatheart. (Or Sunday night, as the case may be.) I appreciate that kind of ridiculousness in a band. They had excellent tunes, too, raunchy and hilarious in equal measure and driven by big crunchy riffs. And to top it all off they had … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: Fiona Apple / Blake Mills, T5, 10/16/12

This show was part pilgrimage, because I had never seen Fiona Apple play live before, and part penance, for largely the same reason.

The show started with music from her band, led by Blake Mills, who sang some of his delicately lovely pop songs and put on something of a master class in the fine art of the electric guitar:
 
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Here is what I learned, about Fiona Apple‘s shows: every single one of them is a cage match between the spirit of rock n’ roll and her demons. She does not so much sing a song as conduct a jazz cabaret-inflected exorcism.

It’s incredible and intense; I actually spent several long stretches standing mostly still, eyes closed, just letting the chords bounce and crash around my head while her voice – her big, brazen, smokey, flexible, magnificent voice – washed over me.

I am, as usual, completely useless with things like set lists. I recognized several from The Idler Wheel, including Every Single Night, Daredevil, Anything We Want, Left Alone and Fast As You Can, but what really defined the evening for … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls / Larry and his Flask / Jenny Owen Youngs, Webster Hall, 9/29/12

Once again I went to a show having not heard a note of anyone’s music beforehand. What can I say, sometimes I like to live dangerously. Plus the show was part of my friend’s birthday party, and since she has generally excellent taste in music I was willing to bet it would be a good night. Spoiler alert: I was right!

Jenny Owen Youngs was up first, by herself with her guitar. She was at the opposite end of the stage from me, so the pictures are kind of awkward. But here’s one anyway:
 
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Larry and his Flask were up next. When they came out with a banjo, electric mandolin and an upright bass, but yet also a drum set, I expected they’d continue the mellow tone of the evening and play up-tempo but still sedate bluegrass-inflected folk-rock.

Instead they unleashed a whirlwind of bluegrass-inflected punk rock that was one of the finest musical experiences I’ve ever had. Here they are in action:
 
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Postcards from the Pit: Whitesnake

 

I saw Whitesnake at Irving Plaza last week – now there is a sentence I never expected to write – and about two songs into their set, it occurred to me: these are the kind of rock stars I fell in love with the first time. Not these specific rockstars, maybe, what with Whitesnake having been reconstituted several times since they started, but certainly of this general type: the shredding, hair-flying-everywhere, flowing-shirts-and-leather-trousers flavor of musician.

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Though I certainly do have a massive soft spot for Whitesnake in particular, and this incarnation of the band is a solid one. David Coverdale sounds great, and he’s got some heavy metal all-stars behind him, with Doug Aldrich (Dio) and Reb Beach (Winger) on guitars, Brian Tichy (Foreigner) on drums, Michael Devin (Lynch Mob) on bass and Brian Ruedy (Bret Michaels, Brian “Head” Welch, of KORN) on keys.

The set was a mixture of old and new songs – Whitesnake has a new record out! – and … Continue reading