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 of) them:


Next up wasWilliam Control, aka William Francis (Aiden), who is also the voice of F.E.A.R., a character in Legion of the Black. He temporarily pushed the tone of the evening in the direction of goth-industrial dance music.

He sounds so much like Rogue from The Cruxshadows that I spent the last half of his set seriously wondering if I had missed a memo and Rogue had cut off his dreads and renamed himself. (And if he was going to play Marilyn My Bitterness because I love that song.)

Anyway, minor case of identity confusion aside, I did dig Mr. Control’s grooves, so if goth-industrial dance music is your thing, check him out.

There is only one picture of him because singing in a pit of sp00ky darkness periodically illuminated by strobing red and purple light: excellent for atmosphere, bad for photography.


And then it was time for the main event: the Black Veil Brides. Despite the occasional rough patch – I really hope someone got Andy Biersack some hot tea liberally mixed with whiskey afterwards – they were really great.

I thought the new material mixed well with their older songs. They stuck mostly to the heavier, growlier, thrashier end of their range, this time around, but there were some softer moments. I was particularly pleased that they made room in the setlist for Jinxx (guitar) to play Overture, the instrumental track from Wretched and Divine – I have a weakness for big burly dudes playing the violin, okay – and also did their cover of Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell.

Here are some pictures of them:



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 a puppet playing the keyboards:


The Dirty Pearls were next, and they swung the pendulum back a hair or two in the direction of Very Serious Heavy Metal. They also had great tunes, including a particularly good ballad. (Heavy metal love songs are my weakness, yes they are.)

And then it was time for The Darkness. I really love The Darkness. They have all of the things I love(d) about glam metal – sing along choruses, shredding, big riffs, ridiculous outfits – and they manage to, I don’t know – revive? celebrate? acknowledge? – the genre in a way that’s playful, knowing, and funny but not mocking. Attending their show is a genuine joy, from overhearing serious discussions about Poison in the line to joining the crowd in singing along to a A Thing Called Love.

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:


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:


And then the gentlemen we had all been waiting for, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. Mr. Turner and his merry crew are not quite as frenetic as Larry and his Flask; more folk rock than folk punk, though Turner’s hardcore roots are definitely tangible in their sound.

The crowd started jumping and singing with him as soon as he started to play, and while I did enjoy the music, it was also a pleasure to be around people that were that happy.

Other highlights:

1) The moment in the middle of the set the room went silent, or as silent as Webster Hall can be when it is full to bursting, while he sang Tell Tale Signs.

It’s new(ish), the third song in a trilogy, and its about love, and also about scars. It is raw and beautiful and left me a little bit breathless and almost kind of alarmed, like I had read something intensely personal that had accidentally been made public.

2) The end, when he closed down the main set with Photosynthesis. That one is a song about getting old and tired and the ways in which the world can pull you down, but also about resisting that drag.

The chorus is I will not sit down and I will not shut up / and most of all I will not grow up, and hearing a packed house sing those words at the top of their lungs was a kick in the pants that I very much needed.

And now, some pictures from the set:


Johnny and the Applestompers/The Misery Jackals/The Dad Horse Experience at Now That’s Class, Cleveland, OH, 9.6.12


Johnny and the Applestompers


Many fledgling bands find that audiences respond better to their cover songs than their originals. While, sure, part of the reason for that is that people are creatures of habit who love what is familiar, another part of it is that bands in their early stages are also more comfortable with what is familiar, finding it easier to let loose on a song they’ve been listening to for years than one they wrote in the garage last week. Johnny and the Applestompers, whose singer appears to be mostly comprised of sticks and who have the gamest bass player I’ve ever seen, are one of those rare young bands who rock their originals even more confidently than their covers. While they covered everyone from Merle Haggard to Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers, it was their originals, based firmly in Americana traditions, about drinking whiskey and pretty girls not giving them the time of day that were the most compelling.



The Misery Jackals


I’m going to admit right now that the Misery Jackals just aren’t my thing, but I have no problem giving them props for being a tight, hard-working band who seem like they’d fit right in with the Farmageddon Records crew. And I don’t think it’s irrelevant to add that they seem like genuinely good people. I spent some time talking with bass player Doghouse Tim, and he is such a down-to-earth, hard-working guy who genuinely and deeply loves playing in this band that he made me want to support them no matter how I felt about their music. For me, that’s what all of this is all about: people doing what they love just because they love it.



The Dad Horse Experience


It’s been a couple of years since German one-man band the Dad Horse Experience touched down on American soil, but judging from his grand showing at this year’s Muddy Roots Festival, he’s gained a respectable following here, and I hope it means it will be less than a couple of more years before we see him again.

When I first wrote about Dad Horse here, I noted how odd it can be for an American listener to hear this clearly American-influenced blues-folk-gospel coming out with a German accent. But what brings the listener back is the fact that this is clearly no gimmick, not a joke. Dad comes from a place of real love for artists like Washington Phillips, the Carter Family, and Hank Williams, and he pours that love back into his own music and his performance. While effortlessly playing banjo or mandolin, manning his bass pedals, and sometimes throwing in a little kazoo on top of it all, Dad sang, hollered, and bleated right from the heart throughout his set.

Between offerings like the Carter Family’s “Can the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By)” and originals like “Dead Dog on a Highway”, “Through the Hole”, “The Party”, and “Gates of Heaven”, Dad spoke to the crowd evincing a presence somewhere between friendly stranger and itinerant preacher, sharing stories and scenarios that sometimes seemed to be told with a wink and a knowing nod. And while sing-a-longs are generally cloying and uncomfortable experiences, the audience joining in strongly with Dad on the chorus of “Lord Must Fix My Soul” was a highlight of the night.

An aside: Now That’s Class has one of the best sound set-ups around. The acoustics are great, and the sound isn’t mixed for a point somewhere 20 feet behind the back wall like other venues. This is fantastic when a band is playing. But it is the opposite of fantastic when audience members forget they are in a public space and not their own living rooms. Places like Now That’s Class have two whole rooms you can be in, so if you absolutely must carry on that long conversation rightnowcan’twaitaminutelonger, show your fellow patrons a measure of common decency and take that conversation to the room where someone is not trying to perform so it won’t matter that everyone in the room can hear every, single word of your conversation. Also, asking a German performer if he is a “kraut rocker” does not make you clever and special; it just makes you obnoxious.

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 of the left: Daniel Espinoza again, and also Derek Diesen (drums) and Tony Ricker (guitar).

And then it was time for TESLA. In the early ’90s they got lumped in with other “hair metal” bands largely, I suspect, because they had long hair. (And because early on they toured with Poison, Def Leppard and David Lee Roth.) But they really aren’t hair metal. They sit at the intersection of Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead – both of whom they covered at this show – and they have a much bluesier, jammier sound.

I got into them somewhere around the original release of Five Man Acoustical Jam (1990), and, while missed seeing them when they toured on that record, their covers of Lodi (CCR) and Signs (Five Man Electrical Band) were on a whole bunch of my high school mixtapes. They didn’t play Lodi at this show, but they did do a rousing rendition of Signs as the final song of the evening.

Before that they played a mixture of old and new material, including Hang Tough , Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out), 2nd Street, Better Off Without You and, of course, Love Song. The cover songs were Comin’ Atcha Live/Truckin’, which is a combination of TESLA and the Grateful Dead; Thank You by Led Zepplin; and I Love You, by the Climax Blues Band.

IMG_5150Jeff Keith; his trademark rasp is still intact.


IMG_5145Brian Wheat, sitting on his bad-ass acoustic perch.


IMG_5136The bad-ass acoustic perch, sans Brian Wheat. My corner of the rail totally wanted one of those for our offices.


IMG_5159Jeff Keith and Frank Hannon


IMG_5178Dave Rude, who they found on MySpace, after original guitarist Tommy Skeoch left the band. True story!


IMG_5194Frank Hannon wearing an electric guitar while playing an acoustic that was mounted on a stand. He switched off between them during the song.


IMG_5198Troy Luccketta, in one of my all-time favorite drummer pictures.


Brian Wheat and one of the several basses he had with him.


IMG_5213A whole-band shot. Brian Wheat is at the keyboard and hidden behind his Wall of Basses, but he’s in there!


IMG_5248Dave Rude and Brian Wheat

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


IMG_4942Nick Clinch

Next up was Foxy Shazam, who have become somewhat ubiquitous (omnipresent?) in my concert-going adventures in the last couple of years or so.

The first time I saw them was during their own headlining tour, where the first show I attended concluded with Eric Nally literally half-naked and swinging from the lighting rig on the ceiling.

But more recently I’ve caught them as an opening act for Panic! at the Disco and Courtney Love. In all instances, they have put on a SHOW (all caps totally appropriate) and the audience reacted with either enthusiasm or bafflement (Panic!) or else just plain bafflement (Courtney Love).

This time around, they won over a restive crowd within one song. The dudes around me especially appreciated Eric Nally sticking his head into the drums, and also his mid-song headstand. (I’m fond of that move myself.) I got approximately three decent pictures of them, though at this point I think all y’all know what they look like.

Anyway, here is a Eric Nally singing while bathed in moody green light:
And then it was time for The Darkness. Here was where everyone (including me) really got going and started jumping, singing, and waving their hands in the air. There were one or two crowd-surfers, and at the end, someone on the balcony climbed down onto a riser and jumped into the crowd. It was complete chaos, and it was glorious.

IMG_4993Dan and Justin Hawkins


IMG_5003Justin Hawkins and Frankie Poullain


IMG_5020Dan Hawkins, Ed Graham is behind those drums, and Justin Hawkins


IMG_5022Dan and Justin Hawkins jamming out on the drum riser.


Justin Hawkins playing his guitar behind his head.


IMG_5039Dan Hawkins, Ed Graham is (still) behind those drums, and Justin Hawkins.


IMG_5044Frankie Poullain


IMG_5049And then Justin Hawkins took his jacket-shirt thing off.


IMG_5051The tattoo on his stomach says “Lowestoft”, which is where they are from. It’s a town on the east coast of England, and Wikipedia tells me it’s also the most easterly point in England.


I just like this one. Isn’t his moustache dashing?


He donned a special fancy hat for Holding My Own.



I think this costume change happened while I was trying to avoid being trodden upon by glamazons.


The new costume again in color, because I like the purple light in this one.


Every once in a while I get a shot that I think “now that is a damn beautiful picture of [insert name here]” in an almost abstract way, as if I had just stumbled over it and not, you know, taken it. This is one of those pictures:



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 a snippet of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, which essentially set the tone from the evening. (We were jammed in too tight to really dance, but there was definitely a great deal of enthusiastic jumping up and down.) The rest of the songs, with the exception of a cover of “In the Air Tonight”, were drawn from Stump’s solo work, including both the Truant Wave EP and the more recent full length  Soul Punk.

His new, post-FOB sound is different than FOB – more synths, less thundering drums – and has soul, funk, and dance-pop elements. The  lyrics with sharp, sharp edges are the same though. For example, on Soul Punk there is Run Dry (X Heart X Fingers) a bouncy up-tempo number that is at least in part about hitting an alcohol-fueled rock bottom, and The “I” in Lie, a soulful meditation on infidelity.

On the other hand, there is also This City, a mostly-sweet pop hymn to both the bright and dark sides of Chicago, Stump’s home town, and Coast (It’s Gonna Get Better) the theme of which is “you may think things are screwed up now, but hang in there, it’s going to get better.” (My favorite, to my own bittersweet bemusement, is Bad Side of 25, because I do actually remember Chernobyl and a time when there were two Germanys.)

Anyway, here are some more pictures from his set:

IMG_2833Conducting the pit


IMG_2867The photopit in front of me suddenly (and briefly) cleared . . .


IMG_2878Drum solo! (I promise he’s in there.)


IMG_2890Matthew Rubano and the double-bass keytar.


The Panic! tour is winding down now, but Stump will be playing more shows this winter, and if you can catch him, you should. Now, as for the rest of the evening: Foxy Shazam and Panic! at the Disco were as fabulous as ever.  I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from their set(s):


IMG_2746Eric Nally and Sky White


IMG_2773Alex Nauth; sadly, his fabulous furry boots are hidden behind the monitor.


IMG_2785Eric Nally, Loren Turner (guitar), and Eric Nally’s light-up cowboy hat.


IMG_2797Sky White, with Daisy and his bass in the background.


IMG_2983Brendon Urie, during Always.


IMG_2941Fierce Brendon Urie is fierce!


IMG_2925Dallon Weekes on the keyboard


IMG_2959My attempt at getting both the still-pogoing pit and the band at the same time. I promise there are many many arms waving in that inky darkness on the left.


IMG_2998A good whole-band shot, as they were winding down.

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 – part commercial and part community in-joke – used (or, I should say, deployed) in annual winter holiday promotions. I realized it belonged to them when they sang it for us.

The Academy Is . . . were next. The first I saw of them was the flash of skin and color that is Andy “The Butcher” Mrotek’s chestpiece. I was both wryly amused by my ability recognize him by his tattoos from practically the back of the venue, and pleasantly surprised / relieved to see him climbing behind the drums, as at that point, the last I heard he had left the band. (Michael Guy “Chizzy” Chislett, their second guitarist, also recently left; he was not there.)


IMG_1436Andy “The Butcher” Mrotek


Then the rest of them came out. It took me a few songs to realize they were playing their first record (Almost Here, 2005) straight through, with only one later song (We’ve Got a Big Mess on Our Hands, from Santi (2007)) added at the end. I was slightly late to their party, arriving only in 2008, shortly before the release of their third record, Fast Times at Barrington High.

The girls around me certainly knew what was up, though, because they were singing along and shuffle-dancing as best they could, hemmed in as we were by the sheer volume of bodies. This was the thing that stuck with me: they way they were grinning at each other, hearing these songs that they probably listen to all the time, but have slid out of the regular show rotation as the band moved forward.


IMG_1438Adam “Sisky Business” Siska (l) and William Beckett (r)


It made me happy, too, though I’m somewhat more partial to Fast Times, and the way it sounds like the summers in high school felt. A little bit happy, a little bit sad, a little bit frustrated with the pressure cooker and suburbia, mixed with a certain amount of bravado and longing.

And then it was over. The band melted away into the wings. The Butcher came out again, briefly, bearing a tambourine, his presence ruffling the front row into a burst of cheering. He extended his arms and – well, it wasn’t quite a bow, but it was clearly a gesture of farewell. Here was where my heart clenched a little bit, though I was glad to have the moment, and to be able to say good-bye properly. (William Beckett appeared again at the end of the evening, but more on that later.)

At the time I thought I was only saying goodbye to the Butcher. The others, we had been told, would be soldiering on, while he and Chizzy pursued other, separate projects. I was warily hopeful for the future – some bands can survive a radical fissioning (i.e. Panic! at the Disco) others cannot – and I was curious what kind of music TAI . . .  would produce in a post-Butcher, post-Chizzy future.


IMG_1442The Butcher and Mike Carden


Meanwhile, the show kept rolling. Gym Class Heroes came out and played a tight, focused set. They had also been away for a while, and clearly it had done them good. Cobra Starship closed the evening down with more old favorites, including – and here is where William Beckett reappeared – Snakes on a Plane.

I know the song is (or was supposed to be )a joke. It is nonetheless one of my favorites, not least because of the way Beckett’s voice punches through the layers of noise and soars above it all, sweet, clear and true. This ridiculous song from an equally silly movie was the song that made me say Who is that? and go in search of his (their) non-silly-movie related music.

I slipped away as the last notes were fading out, sweaty, thirsty and tired, but suffused with warm concert glow. The pictures I got of TAI . . . weren’t that great, but I put them up anyway, since the internet always appreciates new pictures. They’ll be back, I thought. I’ll get better ones later. (The ones of Gym Class Heroes and Cobra Starship were better, but only marginally so. But that is a story for another day.)


IMG_1428William Beckett


And then last Saturday, they announced the fissioning was actually going to be a complete dissolution. The Academy Is . . ., is no more. (I will still probably get more pictures of them in their new, non-TAI . . . adventures, but, it will not quite be the same.) It was a jolt – a sharp, unexpected punch to the heart – because it always is, when a band you love comes completely unscrewed. But it was not truly a surprise.


IMG_1439William Beckett


When I heard (or rather read; I found out via Twitter) I thought some more about this show, now their last, and was extra glad that I had gone.

I also thought about the other shows of theirs I had attended. The first time I saw them, at the New York stop of the mtvU Sunblock Festival, held in the back parking lot at Jones Beach. It was July, and it was also pouring with rain, blowing hard, and so cold the kids were drinking hot chocolate between bands. (The Butcher, who normally plays the drums in booty shorts and a smile, was fully dressed and wearing jeans. Every time he hit a cymbal there was a spray off water.)

I was wearing a poncho, but it didn’t help very much. By the time TAI .  . . came out I was soaked almost to  the skin, standing in puddle, and having a somewhat serious discussion with myself on the topic of “can we go home now?”  Then, as sheets of rain blew across the stage, they started their set with About A Girl, and for the next 15 minutes, it did actually feel like summer.

The second time I saw them was last summer, when they went out with KISS. That show was also at Jones Beach, though on the main stage, and was (mercifully) warmer and drier than the first one. The vibe was a little off – the KISS crowd was definitely not their crowd – but they came out and valiantly bounced through their set just the same.

And then there was this last time, when I finally got to see them indoors. I was thinking the next time I might get all the way to seeing them at their own show, but it is not to be.

Still: I am grateful for this last gift, this last show, for the fact that they managed to hold on this long, and that I was able to be there when the whole room sang with them, even all the way at the back.

Because you don’t get that kind of magic very often.

The Felice Brothers / Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea / Diamond Doves, Webster Hall, 9/29/11

It’s been almost approximately a year since I last saw the Diamond Doves (formerly the Dearland in Elvis Perkins and Dearland, now doing their own thing) and in that time they’ve changed: they’ve become tighter and more focused, and their drums are bigger and louder and roll like mighty waves.  They were good before, but they’re better now. I’m also pleased to report that they are still making the hipsters dance. Here they are in action:






Next up was Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea. I (once again) had never heard them before and had no idea what to expect. Ladies and gentlemen: this band rocks. Nicole Atkins has an amazing voice – powerful, flexible, commanding, and sultry at the same time – and she and the band bring some serious jams. If you haven’t experienced them yet, you should get on that right away.







And then there were The Felice Brothers, who are on tour right now. The crowd was a little bit flat at first – some of them perhaps hearing songs from Celebration, Florida live for the first time – but they perked right up and made the floor vibrate with their joy when the band launched into familiar favorites like Run, Chicken, Run, White Limosine and, of course, Frankie’s Gun.

The one I was waiting for, though, was River Jordan. It’s one of my favorites, mainly for the steady, thudding, mournful drums; the line about Fuck the House of Blues; and also the point near the end where either the band cuts Ian Felice loose or he breaks free, but either way he’s soaring.

This time it came at the end of the main set, and it was spellbinding, all the way down to the last two minutes or so when various band members stopped playing and walked back into the wings, until it was just the drums ringing out under the lights.

They came back, of course, and the mood changed. They did a cover of Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town that made that song expand and thrum with new energy, followed by a raucous rendition of Helen Fry, and then the show really was over. These are some of the pictures I took during the festivities:







And here is one more of the Diamond Doves (& friend), in their capacity as the Felices’ horn section:



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 to lighten my mood when they float up on shuffle. And given that in the time since the show major events in my life have included a water/gas main break in my neighborhood, an earthquake, a hurricane, and part of my bathroom ceiling falling down, my mood has most assuredly needed lightening on a fairly regular basis.

Sample tune:

WOODS- Pushing Onlys by WOODSIST

In conclusion, here are a few pictures I took at the show I went to:




White Fence: