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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Three Nights of Concerts
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do you know what three nights, six train rides and performances from ten artists spanning almost every conceivable genre of music gets you? A whole lotta stories. From the piano playing of A Fine Frenzy to the MC skills of Kats to the ebullient rock of The Presidents of the United States of America, the past half dozen days have been quite the enjoyable earful.

Thursday, March 20th – A Fine Frenzy at The Blender Theatre @ The Gramercy

My three nights of New York City concert hopping started with a serene show with the stunningly beautiful redhead A Fine Frenzy headlining. As I entered The Blender Theatre it had an air of calm about it. I had forgotten that many artists don’t draw clots of angry “fans” and A Fine Frenzy’s fan base was so mellow I turned to the person next to me and asked if everyone in attendance was high. The layout of the theatre is a bit odd as the standing room section in front of the stage has raised theatre style seating behind it, which made me feel like we were all Christians just waiting for the lion to run through the entrance gates to amuse to label reps by eating us (“ha ha, they thought they were going to a concert! We tricked them again!”). Once the show started all my fears of being attacked by my old college mascot were assuaged as Chris Stills came out with his band to tell a few stories and play a few tunes. Stills, rocking a classy outfit complete with 20’s style hat, was definitely cool. Thankfully, with the exception of a few moments, he didn’t seem to realize it, which makes his cool all the more authentic and likable. After Stills came Ferras. Ferras had a huge fan base there thanks to one of his songs, “Hollywood’s Not America,” being used on a weekly basis on American Idol. Armed with only his voice and a keyboard Ferras was musically naked on stage. Sinking or swimming was all on him and he did a fine job. His voice was crisp and he hit every note. He couldn’t explore too many ideas musically due to being all alone up there, but the man who looked strangely similar to the character of Oliver from The O.C. kept the crowd’s attention the entire time.

Finally it was time for A Fine Frenzy, who took the stage at around 9:30pm and performed a fantastic hour plus set. The humble and funny redhead spent most of the night at her piano, but managed to tear herself away from it for a few songs, including two covers, one of a Death Cab for Cutie song (I didn’t catch the name) and one of The Beatles’ “Across the Universe.” To classify A Fine Frenzy one has to look to two other strong female artists as musically she is part Tori Amos, while vocally she is part Stevie Nicks (note, I said part). On this particular night A Fine Frenzy’s live performance of her song “Almost Lover” was so soul wrenchingly beautiful it even affected this borderline emotionless journalist and I will tell you it is rare when I can say I actually felt an artist in this way.

Saturday, March 22nd – 20-Something Mutant Ninja Emcees @ Crash Mansion

After a night of radio on Friday I was back in the city on Saturday night at my new favorite place to see a show, Crash Mansion. Yes, it helped that Homeboy Sandman put me on the list with a note attached that said “because everybody knows Adam to the B,” (hilarious) but to put it simply this bar had plasma TVs with sports on, some of my favorite emcees on stage, beautiful women all around, a drink special apparently only I knew about, and comfortable seating. It was almost exactly how I’ve imagined Heaven to be.

Heaven on this night featured Kats, Homeboy Sandman, Loj and 8th W1 performing. There was also a veritable who’s who of NYC’s Hip-Hop scene in the crowd including host Tah Phrum Duh Bush and over a dozen other artists (as an aside, it was great to see Fresh Daily up and at least hobbling around after his horrific accident. Keep it up, homey!). The music of Loj and 8th W1 was new to me and I enjoyed both of their sets greatly. 8th W1’s “Drunken Saturday” has all the makings of an instant classic. Kats debuted a number of songs off his brand new album, Katskills, during his set and he has a few monsters on his hands, as well, with “Here We Go” and “Breathe In… Breathe Out,” the latter featuring Dyalekt and having a decidedly old school appeal flow-wise while the former is the perfect song to get a party started. Homeboy Sandman closed out the night doing what Homeboy Sandman does best, completely mesmerize a crowd. It was fantastic seeing so many people in the audience know the lyrics to his songs, and to see so many new faces in the audience. Homebody Sandman is on the verge of something really big and it’s only a matter of time, effort and a little bit of luck before we see him on some very big stages.

Monday, March 24th – The Presidents of the United States of America @ The Bowery Ballroom

I relaxed a bit on Sunday, but Monday evening I was back on the train heading in to see The Presidents of the United States of America. Being a longtime fan of the group I was elated to finally have the chance to see them live. What I wasn’t prepared for was how amazing their opening act, Ludo, would be. A lot of music writers will try to act like they’ve heard of every artist ever, but I’m not afraid to say I had no idea who Ludo was and neither did the friend I had brought with me. By the end of their second song, however, we were hooked. Funny, hard rocking, and fantastic storytellers, Ludo could have easily been a headliner. My first thought was they’d be perfect for Warped Tour. Checking the band's site, it seems Warped Tour agrees. From vicious songs about ex-girlfriends, to hilarious ditties about earth being taken over by aliens, everything about Ludo was enjoyable and fun. They even closed their set with a cover of Faith No More's "Epic." I went to Ludo's merch table to network in hopes that a label rep would be there (this is NYC). Instead I ended up having a very fun conversation with the girlfriend of one of the members of the band. She made it a point to say she was not with the lead singer when I asked if she was the inspiration for any of the music. Her “no” was so authoritative we couldn’t help but laugh.

Joe Jack Talcum from Dead Milkmen performed an acoustic set next that was a bit of a downer, but The Presidents of the United States of America brought everyone back up with a set that flipped back and forth from classic material to new, an idea lead vocalist Chris Ballew noted he lifted from an Iggy Pop show he had attended. PUSA made it a point to keep everyone happy by including such fan favorites as “Lump,” “Peaches,” “Mach 5” and “Dune Buggy.” The highlight of the set came early on as they seamlessly transitioned from “Kitty” to Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and then back to “Kitty” again. I’m still trying to figure out how they made that happen. Overall it was a nod to fun, which is something there should definitely be more of in music (and life in general).

Labels:

posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:53 AM  
3 Comments:
  • At 10:04 AM, Blogger Angel Del said…

    adam to the be calls it like he sees it. joe jack needs to step his game up. sounds like a dope weekend. how'd you get such a plush job? everybody at crash mansion was dynamite. the presidents of the united states of america is a dope moniker.

     
  • At 3:24 PM, Blogger Darryl said…

    DIG IT!!!! I guess heaven would be a great way to describe it...bong!

     
  • At 6:58 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    How'd I get such a plush job? Two words - No Sleep! Hahaha!

     
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