November 09, 2002

Going To...

Okay, that's the last time I do that for awhile. Five shows in seven days. I rounded out my week of music by seeing Spoon on Tuesday and the Mountain Goats on Wednesday. No regrets though -- both shows were worth the proverbial trip.

In Spoon's case, it was a trip all the way out to Northsix in Williamsburg, umbrella-less me trekking the blocks from the Bedford L stop in the pouring rain. Regular readers will recall how the last time I went to see Spoon I arrived at the club to find it sold out and me without a ticket. Will I ever learn? Apparently not, since that's exactly what happened again: as I approached Northsix I overheard the words "sold out" muttered from a group of dejected fans walking back towards Bedford.

Ah, but my luck would also recur. The people standing in front of me had also overheard this lament, as one of them said to her two friends that perhaps they should try to get rid of their extra tickets now? So I walked over and offered myself up as a willing buyer and, wouldn't you know, it was just a single ticket they needed to unload. (And these kind people only charged me face value, bless them.)

After standing outside in an unmoving line for what seemed like a jacket-soaking eternity, we all began to shuffle forward through the doors and onto a runway of sorts that sloped upwards and to the left. It gave the impression of waiting on line for an amusement park ride -- "All aboard the Rock Show Express!" By the time my portion of the line was finally ushered inside the main performance area, the opening band had already finished. Oh well.

I wove my way through the teeming masses of hipsters towards the bar to the sounds of Flip Your Wig. (Overheard at the bar as "Makes No Sense At All" came on: Cool, Hüsker Dü! If this was an attempt at impressing the ladies, I'm sorry to say that I'm the only one who even turned a head at this remark...)

While waiting for Spoon to go on, I happened to run into long-ago coworker Jami, with a friend that guessed my age to be 24, much to my amusement (and, okay... secret pleasure). Jami said it was her first time seeing Spoon; I said that they were great at Bowery Ballroom back in September so I hoped this show would be just as good.

And I wasn't disappointed. Not only did the band play all my favorites from their latest album, Kill the Moonlight, they reprised a number of older tunes from the Bowery show. Britt Daniel is a total Rock Star, with his moves and his weird enunciation that makes it so you can't really tell what he's saying, but spitting out the words with style. The keyboardist is also a key element to their sound, adding melody and percussion, alternately stroking then attacking the keys, punctuating riffs in time with the drummer.

Even though I'm ashamed to admit that I still haven't picked up any of Spoon's previous albums, I think I'll take the advice of a reader who posted here and pick up Girls Can Tell the next time I'm record shopping. I was able to remember a couple of titles from what they played and have already downloaded "Everything Hits At Once" -- really beautiful, I'm hooked.

Wednesday evening kicked off with dinner in the general vicinity of The Knitting Factory, though our close proximity didn't keep us from missing the first opening act. Not that we minded -- the three of us were enjoying our leisurely dinner and conversation, which included one particularly silly moment of music-nerd synchronicity. We were talking about our first rock club shows, and Jordan mentioned that his was at The Paradise in Boston, which led to us all sharing our first Paradise shows:

Jordan: They Might Be Giants was mine.

Kardyhm: Too Much Joy.

Me: The Dead Milkmen.

All of Us: We are such nerds! Hahahahahaha...

(If you are familiar with those three particular bands, then you'll know why we found this so hilarious. If not, you'll probably just think we're all nuts, like the people at the next table who gave us funny looks.)

Upon arriving at the club I unloaded my extra ticket (also at face value, naturally), and we squeezed into the jam-packed performance area. Wow, are The Mountain Goats this popular? Apparently so, as I later found out that the show sold out not long after we arrived. I could have guessed that anyway based on the slow but sure crush of people that separated me from one friend before and another after second opener John Vanderslice. For the third time this year I enjoyed him and his ever-entertaining drummer, in particular, as the band played their way through another tightly-wound set.

Waiting for the Mountain Goats to take the stage was an exercise in endurance -- how long can I stand stock-still, jammed in between two sets of elbows, breathing stale air, sweating in my suede jacket, looking at my watch every two minutes? Somehow I managed, though more than a few others couldn't, pushing their way through the crowd toward the back of the club well before the start of the Mountain Goats' set.

Then John Darnielle (aka The Mountain Goats) came onstage with his guitar at 10:30 sharp to much cheering and applause. He held us all spellbound for the next hour or so, reeling off literate, funny, sincere song after song. Bassist Peter Hughes, with whom John said he made the new record (Tallahassee), joined him for the second half of the set, adding a quiet but nuanced accompaniment that made versions of old favorites sparkle just a bit more.

Much like the Lou Barlow show a few nights earlier, an adoring audience provided the perfect foil for John's onstage anecdotes about everything from the love song he wrote for his wife (then-girlfriend) to reminiscences of coveting import-only Birthday Party records. I wish I could better articulate what made this such a compelling show, especially since I'd never been a major fan... but by the end of the night I was already thinking of pulling that big box of cassettes down from the top shelf in my closet to see if I happened to have any of those old Mountain Goats tapes on Shrimper.

After the show, what seemed like half the audience crowded towards the stage to purchase CDs or pick up their free Mountain Goats button. Met up with Douglas and Lisa in the fray, along with their friend Sasha, who was looking at the notes he'd taken for the show review he was writing for the Village Voice. Speaking of reviews, this one at monosyllabic, of the San Francisco show, is pretty definitive.

Going to... listen to Tallahassee once more now.

Posted by nstop at November 09, 2002 11:42 PM


hey watch where you go slinging "nerd" around.

too much joy and they might be giants are still two of my favorite (and I mean like "top ten")bands, and the dead milkmen really kinda are too as long as I stick to stuff from "metaphysical grafiti" or, preferably, earlier.

Posted by: martin on November 11, 2002 11:31 AM

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