Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tricky at Le Poisson Rouge 12/09/10

The room was filled to the brim with dark shadows. There was a cacophonous din that while discordant carried a lyrical hum along with it. There was a pressure of the flesh all around me as we pushed our way in from the chilled December air outside. The air was rank with beer and perfume. The sound being hurled at us from the stage was unfamiliar to me and forced me to question whether or not I made the right decision to come. No matter, I was warm, I was with a dear friend, and I was about to see Tricky for the first time at a lovely little venue known as Le Poisson Rouge. I have been here many times before, yet as we milled around, checking our coats, grabbing a beer, and making our way towards the stage I felt an unfamiliarity with the space and the crowd that I hadn't expected. This was not my "usual" crowd. These were not my "usual" people. The darkness of the space and the claustrophobic force I felt penetrating my presence was unlike the usual vibe I got from LPR. I wasn't sure what to make of it, so I stayed.

It wasn't long until the lights went out all together, and I was thrown into complete darkness. I could only register that the show had begun based off of the cheers of the mob around me. Then, a bullet in the dark was fired and the show began. Tricky came out a little after his band, I assume he was smoking a cigarette and taking a swig of his drink. From the endless chant of "woooooo's" I was able to surmise that he was entertaining us. Then, I caught a glimpse of the man himself in a phosphorescent green light, smoking his tell tale cigarette, and I watched, confused and entranced as he took off his shirt and revealed his scrappy lean frame covered in tattoos and grabbed hold of his mic.

This wasn't a "concert". Concerts are more civilized. This wasn't a "rave". The music was too angry for that. What happened felt more garage and grungy than anything I have felt in a while. I didn't know "trip hop" could feel so raw and down to earth. As we all danced and swayed in our two inches of spacial real estate, a simple hand gesture issued forth from Tricky's lanky, thin, yet muscular arms. His whole body said "C'mere" to the crowd. He was inviting those willing up on the stage with him. A third of the audience- myself included- more than willingly obliged. What happened next was madness, a modern bacchanalia ensued. I was dancing on the demure Le Poisson Rouge Stage with scores of hypnotized people, Tricky shining brilliantly in the center like a strange glowing beacon.

Yes. That is ME whipping my hair! Photo by Benjamin Lozovsky

The performance was definitely more style than substance, but when there's that much panache and pure adrenalin being pumped into the engulfing darkness of a dank space in the early days of winter... does one really care either way? I certainly didn't. I danced, I shook, I screamed, I whipped my hair around like a weapon, and as the night progressed and all that aggression was released, I found myself doing something that I hadn't been doing in a while... smiling.

After we joined Tricky on stage at the end of the set for the second time, I felt like I got a lot more out of the show then I had ever expected. I went in thinking I was going to be lulled into a safe cocoon of ambient noise when in reality I was to be awakened by rock anthems like "Ace of Spades" and thrashing about on stage with the exceptional and eccentric man known as Tricky. The show ended and I was pumped with adrenalin- something I had been lacking these last few months. I wished I could've thanked him for it- I mean, sure, I shook his hand on stage and we had a nice millisecond but, I really wanted to thank him...
Then, this happened...

After the show ended, Tricky actually went into the audience to say "hello" and "thanks" to his fans. I said "Excuse me, I'm sorry.." and asked his literal RING of bouncers if I could get in to say "Hi" to the man himself. Not only did they let me in, but I asked him if I could have a picture with him, and in his trademark rasp he said "Of courrssee of coursseee". I said, "Man, thank you so much for this show, you were great". He replied "Thanks love!" and gave me a nice, non-offensive kiss on the cheek, a hug, and a handshake.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Florence + The Machine at Irving Plaza, 12/14/10

Sometimes, guys and dolls, if you’re extra good (or an interesting sort of naughty) your Christmas wishes CAN come true. I recall not too long ago, wishing I could see Florence + The Machine at a smaller venuehere in NYC. My wish, it seemed, took off into the heavens where it immediately ricocheted off of an angel’s ass then flew back down- then- like a serendipitous buckshot it came plummeting back to earth and smacked the promoters at 101.9 RXP in the back of the head. Shortly after my blog review of the FloHo Show, I saw that she was playing at one of my favorite little venues here in NYC, The Fillmore at Irving Plaza! On top of all this, lucky me, it fell a mere 3 days before my birthday! I conveniently snatched the presale code off of her FB page, and somehow managed to score a pair of tickets. MY WISH WAS GRANTED!

Everyone Takes Her Picture
The room was jam packed with devout Florence followers, along with MANY reluctant boyfriends. I bring this up because I would like to ask that the LADIES that are fans to stop the insanity of forcing their boyfriends and partners to her shows- it is cruel to make someone that hasn't been bit by the Florence bug to attend when their spot could be occupied by someone who actually WANTS to be there. I have a lot of friends that missed out on this gig because of how rapidly this show sold out. I think that if every person who got tickets brought people that actually wanted to be there that the shows vibe would've improved greatly. I was next to a couple where the other half left half way through because he didn't care enough to stay. That is a waste of money and a shame for a fan that was left out in the cold. I had a spare ticket, and I made sure it went to someone who wanted desperately to be there. Just, let him go and be drunk with his guy friends somewhere while you rock out. You'll be fine without him, I promise. 

The vibe wasn't as good as the last few times I have seen her. In example, there were some pretty dramatic moments that night, namely a set of Sasquatch women who definitely tied one on beforehand they got right up in front, and were rather belligerent about sharing their "space" with fellow people. It turned into a feisty little verbal cat fight with a pair of equally aggressive women (albeit in smaller stature), that ultimately resulted in their removal from the venue. Word to the wise, don't be wretched, bitchy, and drunk to the people around you, you never know how fearless and resourceful those people may be. I'd also like to mention once again my misfortune at being 6 inches too short despite the fact that I was 10 feet away from the stage. I had a hard time seeing, and although I probably could've been less vocal about my shortness, ridiculing me for having not gotten there "sooner" won't make anything better. If I was in front of you, clearly I wasn't obstructing your view, so don't be so annoyed at me, please? OK rant over, this is after all, a Christmas/Birthday Miracle Show!

We had a few guest appearances occur before the pretty solid opening act Civil Twilight came on- a Mr. Vincent Donofrio showed up, apparently just to say "What's Up and Season's Greetings" followed by Matt Pinfield and Co. singing a charming little rendition of the Pogue's "Fairytale of New York". I got to say, it put me in a special sort of NYC Christmas spirit! It was light hearted and cheerful, and was a jolly way to bring in the opening act.

When Florence finally emerged I was pleased by her peach colored drapery and peek-a-boo pleated gown. Even more pleasing than ever was the notes escaping her tiny throat. She had poise I had not previously noticed, and there was a certain "ham" effect going on it seemed- just in time for Christmas. Despite her... well earned vanity, she performed well with her band of talent flanking her on all sides. It was strange having foresight into the set she was about to perform, and while I hoped for something different to effect me, I wasn't disappointed. "Howl" continues to be my favorite song on the studio album, yet still remains a fizzled opener, "Cosmic Love" while a great song is becoming a nuisance to hear live- mainly because no one will SHUT UP during it, and "Between Two Lungs" is still the best song she performs live. I'm glad she played a small venue, and that I was lucky enough to hear it. Will I go see her again? Yes. She's only getting stronger. Go see her while you still can... if it's not already too late!

Here’s the Setlist:
Drumming Song.
My Boy Builds Coffins.
Girl with One Eye.
Cosmic Love.
I’m Not Calling You a Liar.
Between Two Lungs.
You Got the Love.
Strangeness & Charms.
Rabbit Heart.
Heavy in Your Arms.
Kiss with a Fist.
Dog Days are Over.