Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rasputina: How Soon is Now?

Apologies for the shakiness, and the sound quality of this. I hadn't been expecting to film a rare live cover!

Rasputina at the BKLYN Knitting Factory

Rasputina. I’ve seen them so many times in the last few months, years, decade, that it’s becoming redundant to write about them. Even though they never bore me, and they always put on a great show, how long can really go on about how much I enjoy Melora and Daniel and that I only have mediocre feelings about their interchangeable drummer? How many times can I say their finger-work and bowing is so concise it makes my chubby little sausage link fingers seem even clumsier and incapable? How many times can I tell you Rasputina is one of my favorite, steadfast, and consistent bands of all time? A lot, apparently.

The Beautiful Melora
This was my second time seeing them at the Brooklyn Knitting Factory, and as always, they didn’t disappoint. The sound was clean, crisp, and everyone was on point (even the drummer!). To be fair, though, the drummer has a bit of a daunting task, because, clearly, Melora is the time keeper, the holder of all keys, the key master, if you will. She’s so capable solo that any one else on stage with her seems dwarfed by comparison. Not to say that the other musicians are not talented, because, believe me, if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be anywhere NEAR Melora . That being said, this is HER music, her style, her sound, her lyrics- and they are complicated bits of instrumentation, so I think it’s a hard role to properly fill. I don’t think this newest drummer, Melissa, is up to snuff, though she’s better than Cat. No recent drummer seems as capable to keep up with Melora unfortunately, as well as Jonathan did, but as long as these new drummers keep a somewhat steady rhythm down and don’t interfere with the cello work, then I’d say they’re OK by me. On the flipside of mediocre drumming, Daniel DeJesus has held his own and quite expertly. His string work is perfectly in sync with Melora, something that no doubt was an arduous task in practice! I would like to add that his voice has actually contributed a personal emotional depth to Rasputina’s somewhat two-dimensional vocals. I’ve always viewed Melora’s work as allegory, but I never could see her “feelings” in them. Which works for me, but most of the time, I want to feel a little heartbreak, or a little joy in a singer’s voice, something I seldom get out of her. Daniel adds that emotion that has previously been lacking for me.

"Upright" Banjo!
Steadfast classics like “Rats” and “Bring Back the Egg Unbroken” were played with just the right blend of precision and attitude you expect from the band. The new tracks like “Holocaust of Giants” and “Calico Indians” were lively, refreshing- and in particular “Calico Indians” track’s “cello off” as I have come to call it was purely visceral and energetic. The show was great, solid, but not particularly exceptional, that is until a new song in their forte was revealed. I was shocked and utterly perplexed when Melora and Daniel began to pluck at what I initially thought was an unknown cover or a new tune. Then a beautiful harmony of “whoa oh oh’s” further elevated my curiosity until, a certain strange familiarity started sinking in, and then, like slipping into a bed made of freshly laundered linens, Melora sang out “I am the son, and the heir, of a shyness that is criminally vulgar”. A uniform and audible gasp rang out across the audience, and then there was silent reverence. Their cover of the Smiths “How Soon is Now?” was to be the song that helped separate this show from all the other times I have seen them this year. Thus only further proving their worthiness as one of my favorite bands of all time, even after seeing them 3 times in 3 months, they can still pleasantly surprise and impress me. Rasputina, until we meet again!

Here’s the setlist:

Thimble Island
1816 the 
Year Without a Summer.
Oh Bring Back the Egg Unbroken.
Holocaust of Giants.
Humankind as a Sailor.
How Soon is Now?
Calico Indians.
Snowhen of Austerlitz.
Sister Kinderhook.
Sweet Sister Temperance.
Olde Headboard.
Watch T.V.
High on Life.
Saline the Salt Lake Queen.
The New Zero.
Possum of the Grotto.
Hunter’s Kiss.

*Side note, I swear to GOD, Daniel had a fancy new addition to his cello kit— because the warped synth cello drones coming out of that bad boy were truly haunting and wonderful... I want to know if this is the case or if they just never had such a stellar sound tech before... Anybody know?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Inappropriate feelings about Porchetta

A few months ago, before the infamous food writing class, I had some time to kill. Armed with a 30% off coupon from Blackboard Eats, I decided to head down to a little hole in the wall food shop with a single counter to perch upon , called Porchetta. You guessed it. All they serve is Porchetta. Gloriously cooked dripping with its natural juices and fat- porchetta. Porchetta. PORCHETTA. Oh, it's such a naughty word to me now. It's been so long yet I can still feel the crust of the bread, the crunch of the crispy lightly burned bits of fat, & the moist, salty, & distinctively succulent flesh of the pork upon my anxious tongue. This sandwich was a full on food porno... with an unlikely surprise guest star, Honey Lemon Brussel Sprouts. I think I didn't know what PORCHETTA really was 'til the Porchetta Sandwich Shop showed me the way. Go ahead, slip away from your crowd at the Bourgeois Pig & slink into Porchetta & see for yourself. MMM, My mouth is still watering...