Girl Talk performs at Bonnaroo, 2009
Is it September already? We were just getting into the groove of muddy summer festivals and outdoor parties, hamburgers, going to the beach (or just dreaming about going to the beach while sitting at our desks), etc. I guess it is time to start turning down our A/C's, put away our sunglasses, and begrudgingly count down (but fondly recall) our favorite warm weather shows of the 2009 summer season. We've compiled a super-list from all of our contributing editors of the summer to determine Baeble's top five notable concerts of the season (In no particular order, recounted by those who witnessed them). Let the good times roll.
5. Phoenix @ Terminal Five 6/19 -joe puglisi
Definitely the summer's favorite import, Phoenix hit the limelight with buzz for "1901," followed swiftly by the heavily anticipated Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
(which we liked
). Naturally the hype surrounding their summer shows was humongous, and both nights (the first show was at MHOW) delivered; a smattering of the back catalog, as well as most of WAP
, and tons of dancing. These Frenchies may have accents in person, but his English while singing has made Thomas Mars an iconic rock voice for the 'aughts.
Phoenix created a sort of panic, eliciting sing-alongs and rampant dancing with almost all of their set list, which included parts I and II of the epic "Love Like A Sunset," sleeper hit and new single "Lisztomania," and old favorites "If I Ever Feel Better" and "Consolation Prizes." Singer Thomas Mars manages to look both casual and excitable while he crooned, but never affected. His singing contains none of the droll of the band's accents (only noticeable in one on one conversation), instead trading it for crisp sounding lyrics. Gutarist brothers Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai did plenty of jumping around too; make no mistake, this is a band full of energy. They played the kind of show that made new fans sing along to old songs they'd never heard before, full of adrenaline and appetizing music.
I'm also anticipating two of the bands biggest blow-ups playing a show together (Phoenix and Passion Pit at Summer Stage on 9/26). But despite the name, that's not technically summer, is it?
4. Wilco @ Bonaroo 6/14 -Nina Mashurova
Oh Jeff Tweedy. You have an awesome last name, seven studio albums, kind of a funky haircut, and our loyal allegiance. You see, we've gotten so involved with bells and whistles, light shows and stage oddities, psychotic stage banter, and using terms like "post-disco minimalist synth-punk" to describe our music, we've forgotten the simple things. Wilco makes simple music, and it simply doesn't need anything extraneous to prove that it's worth listening to. In fact, there are few places I'd rather be on a late afternoon in June than lying in a field hearing Wilco churn out some wonderfully folksy old-time rock n' roll. So here's to you Jeff Tweedy, bringing together the old and the young, the elitist Northerners and drawling Southerners, and even a mysterious hot air balloon that appeared on the horizon in a very cinematic turn of events. Oh and that dance move where you jogged in place, swinging a mic around lasso-style for the duration of an entire song? We salute it.
3. Andrew Bird @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg - david pitz
As the mighty curtain climbs to the ceiling, Mr. Bird reveals himself, like me, alone on Radio City's colossal stage, lit warm and gold by a single, bursting bulb placed near his vicinity. This would be met by a comical mix of applause and panic, as the unsettled scurried back to their seats, their cheeky, blue cocktail lights flying down the aisles like drones returning to the hive.
But there stood Mr. Bird, swirling and swaying, rubbing rich chords out of his violin, all while a double horned gramophone spun on its' axis, stroking wonder and imagination with every turn. Oh that gramophone...its' pace, its' steady round about path, the looming shadows it threw on the back wall; it wouldn't spring to life often as the night unwound, but when provoked, felt like a call to all those witnessing its' rotation to fathom strange, billowy dreams.
It's all too perfect, really; so much so, I'm not sure Bird really fathoms how this latest chapter in his career occurred. Regardless, it's real...most likely taking root in his subconscious; the most personal, private, and lonely trenches of the soul, slowly unfurling over time. In Mr. Bird's case, several years, albums, and concerts before manifesting. But way back when, Bird was probably once alone with his instruments, thinking, "what if"? Now here he is.
2. Paul McCartney @ Citi Field - david pitz
I have hopped a 7 train to Flushing on several occasions, though usually draped in unfriendly Cubbie blue attire, my gaze would generally fall to the floor, so as not to upset the hometown Mets fans with my thoroughly unwelcome presence. But on the evening of July 21st, my ride east was considerably more gratifying as I, along with several other thousand, eagerly made our way to what would be the most significant event at Citi Field this summer (sorry, can't resist a dig at the Mets).
Commandeering the ballpark for a 3 show run, Paul McCartney returned to NYC for a set of career-spanning shows that left those of us lucky enough to push through the turnstiles absolutely flabbergasted in the end. And though my seats were located in what probably was a different zip code than the stage itself, there was just no stopping the tiny speck of McCartney that performed before me. Rolling through a monster, three hour set, Sir Paul played songs from every child's childhood. Highlights included "Drive My Car", "Blackbird", "Eleanor Rigby", "Let it Be", "Hey Jude", "Yesterday", and "Band on the Run", just to name only a few. In the end, McCartney provided those in attendance a quintessential summer memory; one that will only grow richer and more significant as time marches on. As the 7 train approached the station that night, our friendly MTA operator reminded us not to stand to close to the tracks...or as Paul would say, "Get Back!". Hopefully I'll be getting back to another McCartney show sometime soon.
1. Dirty Projectors @ Williamsburg Waterfront (Jelly NYC) -Nina Mashurova
From Dave Longstreth's tender guitar plucking and Angel Deradoorian's hushed crooning on "Two Doves," to Brian McComber's violent drumming behind Longstreth's dissonant wails on "Useful Chamber," Dirty Projectors owned the show with the harmonious eccentricity and professional precision that's been generating all that well-deserved buzz. They slipped old favorites such as "Gimme Gimme Gimme," "Thirsty and Miserable," and of course, "Rise Above" into the set list. Amber Coffman was the expected high point, with her signature vocals on "Stillness is the Move" and her signature strut, rocking the imitation R&B. They even encored with "Knotty Pine," and we watched in amusement as hundreds of hipsters clambered over each other to see if David Byrne made an appearance (he didn't).
When all was finished, enthusiasm was high. No one was disappointed, but then again, no one was surprised. Of course the show was great, but it was a safe bet that most of the attendees were already enamored with Longstreth's long-necked head-bob, the three tiny girls with mammoth voices, and the much-blogged pop-friendly art-rock indie masterpiece Bitte Orca. Out of all the recent outdoor dates Dirty Projectors had played recently, they finally caught a sunny one, and they played it with the relaxed ease of a band that didn't have to prove anything - they were just happy to be home.
Summer has been extravagant, but hey, Fall's got a ton of shows, not to mention Austin City Limits, Fun Fun Fun Fest, The CMJ Music Marathon, and more. We've still got plenty to soak up before the end of 2009. -joe puglisi