Ticket Karma & The Decemberists at the Beacon Theatre

Last weekend I had an extra comp to Doctor Zhivago on Broadway that I gave an elderly man about 30 minutes before the show. What I call “Ticket Karma” is the fact that doing something nice regarding tickets often leads to people doing nice things for you, regarding tickets. So yes, I give credit to Ticket Karma for my landing a free orchestra, row B ticket to a sold out concert with The Decemberists at the Beacon Theatre on Monday night. 

Years ago I downloaded “The Rake’s Song” from a Starbucks drop card and loved it (even when I listened to the lyrics and realized what the song was really about, I still loved it). I bought the entire album (The Hazards of Love) off iTunes and loved the way it was basically a folk rock opera. I heard they were playing in New York but, like usual, completely zoned out on the date they were going on sale so I missed that completely. But I made a sign saying “Needs 1 Ticket” and stood outside the Beacon before the show. I was offered several different tickets for face value but in pretty shitty seats in the lodge or whatnot. I decided to hold out and I’m glad I did because soon after a gentleman came walking away from the box office and asked, “You need one ticket?” and I nodded and he handed me one and walked away. I looked at it and it was row B of the orchestra. Holy shit, I thought. I thanked him and walked in right behind him, still stunned.

I listened to the opening band, Always, from the lobby because they were kind of loud and terrible. I sipped a beer and stared at my ticket before the opener was done and The Decemberists took the stage.

I admittedly knew none of The Decemberists’ music besides The Hazards of Love, but I loved everything I heard. Their music is great and their talent is enormous. Everyone was on their feet when they played from The Hazards of Love though and eventually ended that portion of the show with The Rake’s Song, during which I lost my shit. 

I had such a good time and I will definitely be back. I totally want to see them at Governor’s Ball this summer. If you get a chance to see them, do it! 

Videos: 

The Rake Song

The Hazards of Love

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Typical Friday night.

After I left the office on Friday night, I grabbed a pint at the Macdougal Ale House, a kati roll from The Kati Roll Company, and eventually would up passing by the NYU Center for Spiritual Life and using the meditation room. When I saw Gabby Bernstein give a talk there a couple of years ago, she’d mentioned they had a meditation room and so I went to find it. 

After some rejuvenation, I raced over to The Bitter End to see my friend Lindsay perform with her band (so awesome!) and our friend Ian performed a song with her too. We’ve all known each other since we were 16/17 and performed in GREASE together. It was a good reunion.

Afterward I headed over to Cafe Reggio with Ben where he had some coffee and I had some ice cream (nom). 

All in all, a good Friday night. 

January 13th, 2015: Guster at Rough Trade

Last Tuesday one of my favorite bands, Guster, released their 7th album with an acoustic set, a CD signing, and a full concert after that. I didn’t think I’d be getting to meet the band so I was completely speechless when it set in that I was merely feet from them. The above photo is the result of my meeting them. Goofy/stupid/happy.

Their first set was 8 songs long and they performed it on a small platform in the middle of the floor space inside Rough Trade. It was really awesome. The setlist is here. They performed Window off of Parachute, so that was special.

After the signing and photos, there was a ways to wait and then Frozen’s “Love Is An Open Door” started playing over the speaker system, we all started singing along, and the guys came out. Apparently one of their kids loves Frozen so they thought, “why not!”

This was the smallest stage they ever performed on with the most instruments they have ever performed with so the stage was quite crammed. This show was their first with their new material and basically a big experiment to see if they could even perform these songs live at all. They had a new band member with them too, Dave, because they needed an extra person with them onstage to fully play the songs. Ryan said multiple times, “Wow! That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be!” when they finished a song. He told lots of stories, followed by, “I don’t know why I’m telling you this now or why I’m still talking.”

Guster might be one of my favorite bands to see live because they give exactly zero fucks onstage. They just play their music and have a good time. (Full set list here.)

I was tired at work the next day but it was totally worth it. Even the trip to Brooklyn. 😉

Some videos I took:

Spoon, September 10, 2014

I’ve been a fan of Spoon since around the time Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson was transferred to broadway. Spoon was the pre-show music and when I messaged Alex Timbers to ask who it was, he told me that it was mostly Spoon. I downloaded a bunch of their albums and was hooked. And I finally got around to seeing them live last week at Summerstage in Central Park.

I didn’t catch much of the second opener but I was able to make my way through the crowd during the set to the front on the right where I met up with a coworker. Spoon eventually came out and played for an hour and a half. I knew a lot more of the songs than I expected to! I enjoyed them all, whether I knew them or not, rocking out harder to the ones that I obviously knew. I picked up a navy and pink t-shirt on my way out, said goodbye to my friend, and made my way home.

I felt kind of stupid not knowing the names to most (any) of their songs and not having a favorite album, but I ran into someone on the train who’d also been at the concert and when I relayed this feeling to him he looked confused and said, “knowing their music is a pretty valid reason for being a fan,” and I thought, “you know what, you’re totally right.”

Spoon is playing again in the city on September 30th. You should check them out!

Sometimes Ben Folds just has a night off.

Hence why he played in a small-ish concert hall in Westbury on Long Island last night. No, really, he had a night off from playing with the symphony orchestra that he’s been touring with and said, “why not!" 

A couple of friends and I had bought tickets for this concert a couple of months ago (they live on LI so it was super convenient for them) and the day finally came yesterday and we were all excited. 

It was just him and his piano on stage, and us on the floor (and some were in seats). He played a lot of really old songs from albums that came out in like, 1993. He also played the always-awesome-live Song For The Dumped, The Luckiest, One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces, Narcolepsy, Jesusland, Zac and Sara, You Don’t Know Me, and Army. He also played his own drum solo (pictured above) during a song I can’t remember and it was amazing. We’ve all seen him play the piano like a boss, but he can also beat the shit out of a set of drums like no one’s business.

It was awesome. After a little over two hours, he left the stage and I caught a train and was back in the city 40 minutes later. Easy as shit. 

Ben Folds, you keep being awesome. Because it’s really fun to watch. 

“For some reason people think I’m a Merchant of Cheer.”

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Last Sunday a friend and I trekked out to a tiny space called Silent Barn in Bushwick to see a solo show: Ted Leo. (The Pharmacists are currently on hiatus!) It was a benefit show to save the space and it’s a cool space, but they need to really get a better air conditioning system. (It was hot as hell in there.)

Ted Leo played an awesome setlist (see below) with a lot of new songs that he was trying out . He proclaimed that people thought he was a “merchant of cheer” and then he played his “darkest song” he ever wrote – but sadly (?) it wasn’t all that dark. After about a dozen songs, he gave us permission to leave if we wanted, “I think I’ve played enough to fulfill the social contract we’ve made with one another, so I’m going to keep playing but if you need to move on with your night, feel free!” Needless to say, none of us left. 

Ted Leo has been one of my favorite artists for the last decade, so to say it was awesome to see him in such a tiny space with only about 50 other people would be a massive understatement. I talked to him briefly after the show and he’s a massively chill guy. 

He’s performing tomorrow at the Bell House in Brooklyn with Julie Klausner on her weekly show. If you’re in the area, you should definitely check it out. 

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Last Wednesday night I went with my friend Ben to see Cage the Elephant in concert at Terminal 5. I’d first heard of Cage when a favorite yoga teacher of mine used “Aint No Rest For the Wicked” as a track on an asana playlist. Then I distinctly remember after a few too many glasses of wine, turning on Pandora on my Roku and freaking out when the song came on. Then I heard “In One Ear” and “Back Against the Wall” and I was hooked. 

My friend Tanya had told me that J. Roddy, the first opener, was pretty good, but The Foals, the second opener, were horrendous, so we made the executive decision to skip both. We secured a great spot directly in front of the stage but up on the second level. We decided to leave the mosh pit to the youngins’. 

I literally had no idea what to expect from this concert but I was extremely impressed. The lead singer, Matt Shultz, was an incredibly physical and captivating front man. He came out dressed in white and his shirt last all of a minute and a half before he was sweating through it and ripped it off. He was crowd surfing (and doing handstands in the crowd as well) and he was thoroughly insane but, again, highly impressive. The entire band was as they collectively were responsible for the awesome night we were all having. 

Shultz didn’t jump off the second balcony again as he had the night before, sadly. I’m assuming he’d gotten a strict talking-to after that by Terminal 5. Something along the lines of “do it again and we’ll break your legs.”

On Thursday I got an email from The Black Keys announcing their tour and Cage the Elephant will be opening. If I can get tickets to that, I definitely would love to go them again. And I guess seeing The Black Keys wouldn’t suck too much either. 

if you ever find yourself presented with the opportunity to go see these guys, I’d definitely do it. 

One of the reasons I love living in New York City is that you never know what’s going to happen that day. You could hear about Paul McCartney playing a surprise, free concert in Times Square at 1pm a half-hour before but by the time you make it to your car in the suburbs, it’s over. 

I was busy doing work when an email from a coworker popped up in my inbox with a link to an article about the surprise concert and the note, “I know you like The Beatles. This is happening. In 40 minutes.” I threw on my jacket and walked two avenues west to find people gathering in front of a flatbed truck on 46th and Broadway. There were maybe 50 people milling around but by 1pm, the crowd grew to what you see pictured.

Around 1:15, they opened the side of the truck and Sir Paul and his musicians came out. He played five songs off his new album and that was that. 

So, the suburbs can keep their McMansions and cheap cost of living. I’ll choose a free Paul McCartney concert any day. 

Sixty bucks seemed like a lot to pay for a concert at Celebrate Brooklyn, especially when two bands I like were opening for a band that I didn’t even know was still around. But after I found a friend to come with me, I bit the bullet and bought tickets and we went last Tuesday night (what also happened to be the final night of the tour). 

Let me just say that the Prospect Park Bandshell is sorely I’m need of reorganization. The line to get in was at least a half mile long. It moved quickly but really? A line that long is a total downer when you’re excited for a concert.

Anyway, Guster was first and although we missed most of their set, we were able to hear it and that was cool. We got in to see them do 3 or 4 songs, one of which was Barrel of a Gun (I KNOW) which was the first song I’d ever listened to of Guster’s back in high school so it was exciting to me.

During the set change, we grabbed beers and snagged closer seats in the third row on the left. They were awesome! Ben Folds Five (who are ironically only three) came out and Ben Folds started hitting the keys like the genius he is. At one point I said to my friend “I hope he does Brick!” And a minute later he started playing it (video here)! He also did Army (a request via twitter from a fan who’d just gotten back from overseas), Song For the Dumped (lovvvve), among others. He was fantastic. I had so much fun during his set, as did most everyone in the bandshell.

In between Ben Folds’ set and the Barenaked Ladies, I heard the opening chords for “Amsterdam” and it turns out that Guster was playing another half-set in a tent towards the back of the the bandshell. I grabbed my friend’s hand and ran back. Amsterdam, another one of my favorites, is one I’d never seen live either, so I was ecstatic. They played a few others and then we made our way back to the third row.

I had no idea Barenaked Ladies was still around – or had been around since they had ‘One Week’ in 1999 (right?). It turns out they wrote the theme song for Big Bang Theory, If I Had a Million Dollars, and a bunch of others that I knew. They put on a really great show, which was a relief, considering they were the headliners. Ryan Miller, of Guster, came out and played with them at one point, as did Guster’s drummer, and Ben Folds came out and played with him too. And we all got excited when they performed “One Week,” of course.

It was an expensive concert, but it was four hours long and worth every penny. It was a good, good night. 

 

After a delicious meal at Sauce on the LES, my best friend and I walked up to The Bitter End to watch my friend from high school’s (that him, with the microphone) band, Coalition play. We reminisced about New Years Eve 2008 when we watched some forgettable band play at The Bitter End, drank cheap, shitty beer, and took the Long Island Rail Road home at 4am.

We made it for about half of their set. Their music I would say is a fusion of hip hop and alternative rock. Tim, the vocalist, raps, and the musicians are incredibly talented and rockin’. 

Their music is really interesting, and should you feel moved to give it a listen, check out their Facebook page

The night concluded at Dive 75 on the Upper West Side where we indulged in some no-name wine with some more friends.

It was a good Friday night.