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Friday, August 12, 2011

A Night in Brooklyn, Foster the People and Cut Copy Edition

I am gonna be all over the map here so please bear with me.  Or maybe you can ignore it like just about everybody on this planet.

It starts with a friend writing of my obnoxious, ubiquitous Facebook post from last night's concert in Brooklyn:  "Hey, you are the Lester Bangs of Morris County."  True enough I would later learn.  You see, I was so oblivious I had to research the name before my rebuttal.  Take a look should you be as uniformed as I am/was: .  Mr Bangs lived for music and seemed to find his calling following and writing about it.  I can dig it.  I cannot dig his accidentally overdose close to my current age.  Fact is, standing at a show with like minded fans, absorbing and letting loose for a few hours, is about as good as it gets.  Last night, under the most perfect weather conditions, proved my point.

Brooklyn's Prospect Park looked like a different venue altogether from my June visit.  Gone was the rain and our tree that we camped under hour after hour.  Turns out you can get close to stage.  There was a totally different concession stand with hot food stage right.  Oh, and there was Foster the People and Cut Copy.

9 piece Brooklyn band Midnight Magic actually started the proceedings.  I would quickly say they had super talent and a big, brash sound.  But it was sooo disco and Donna Summer flashback for me I was a bit taken back.  Let's just call it a context issue and perhaps under different circumstances I can get into it.  Or not.

Foster the People on the other hand have something I am very much interested in.  Formed a mere two years ago by Mark Foster, Mark Pontius and Cubbie Fink this LA band has exploded onto the scene.   I was hearing different things from reliable sources who have seen them live prior to last night.  It was up to me to decide if they were contrived Left Coast MGMT wanna bees or a legitimate threat.  Threat indeed.  As Foster took the stage and coyly stated "If you had told me a year ago we would be standing here opening for Cut Copy I would have thought you were crazy."  That "awe shucks" nonsense disappeared quickly as they rolled into "Warrant" from the debut album Torches.  Foster prowls the stage with confidence and sings with conviction and glee.  Alternating between a falsetto and deeper register comes as easy as switching from keyboard to guitar for him.  His supporting cast does much the same.  The lowlight of their 45 minute set was the big hit "Pumped Up Kicks."  At this point who cares. I was wanting to hear the stuff I was unfamiliar with.  And each song was more lively and fun than the previous.  They put on spirited renditions of "Houdini" and "Helena Beat (the encore)."  The rest of the album sounded terrific and even in a setting that was probably not ideal for the band, I came away impressed.  When they pulled out a spot on cover of Weezer's "Say it Ain't So" I was sold.  So what if the kids next to us did not know who originally recorded it.  Really?  I am so old that Weezer is classic rock for the kids at these shows???  The 90s is that far behind us.  Excuse me, when I was 21 I knew about all the bands that led us to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, et al.

Foster and mates have an unbelievable upside and I am counting myself as a firm believer.

The headliners, Cut Copy, did not disappoint either.  A few things to note before I get to them.  Well, not really about them, but about the scene.  Without getting into too much detail let's just say there were many short shorted men and/or skinny jean wearing, tight shirt sporting, "twinks."

It's cool.  I am Suburban Man and I am as tolerant a human being is.  As we drove home from the show the Carpenters came on and we all agreed that they make Cut Copy look like GWAR or Megadeth.  This is a soft, soft band.

And I find it highly entertaining.  These Aussies have been at it for about 10 years.  The mission is pretty clear.  Dance and techno beats with enough energy and smarts to move your body.  Make no mistake though, this is Dan Whitford's band.  His tall skinny frame behind the keyboard cannot be ignored.  Once he starts singing or dancing (much like his Aussie fore father Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil) the stage is his.  And he can sing.  His voice takes you back to Manchester 1981 with a touch of late 80s LA.  Wang Chung/Danny Elfman/Thompson Twins are all some of the bands that came to mind watching him have it.  Whatever he was selling my young, liberal brothers were eating it up like sales at American Apparel.

Having been familiar with only their latest LP Zonoscope I was anxious to hear how it played live.  The answer is darn good.  Highlights were the opening song "Take Me Over" and "Take it From Me."  This is glow stick waving synth goodness.  Drummer Mitchell Scott, guitar/sampler Tim Hoey, and bassist Ben Browning round out this talented group.  I take slight issue with the sampling, but there is such care and precision from the band I can overlook more than say, Wye Oak.  Witford is very commanding on stage too.  His exhuberance is so contagious it is hard not to get caught up in it.  There is a NJ show in a few weeks (  I am tempted to check out.  Take a look at that link as the promoter does a nice job explaining their sound and recent keys to success.  I wonder what this band looks like in an indoor setting?  Limelight circa 1986?  Do I own shorts short enough?  As I went into the pit last night I thought it was funny when a friend texted me "You gonna leave your wife for a guy?"  Um, no.  But I will not back down!  Music is meant to be experienced and enjoyed.  Cut Copy brings it all.  If only that same friend had eaten dinner and not gotten fall down drunk maybe I would have seen the encore.

But hey, what's a concert night without parking on Canal St to vomit or having a Little Italy restaurant whip up a brick oven pizza for the ride home or waking up your friend to tell him we are dropping his wife off and he will have to go get her car from the train lot?  Par for the course I always say.  Anyone want to join us next time???  Lots on the agenda for sure:

The National in Philly, Caveman in NYC, Widespread Panic in Brooklyn....  See Live Music!!!

Additional Notes:

Canal Street and most of Chinatown is NOT NYC's shining moment.  We had the luxury of parking on Mott St and drive a bit south of Canal trying to revive our drunken soldier.  It was the first time I saw a rat trolling the street.  And he was bigger than most squirrels.  It looked very much like a Scorsese film circa 1976.

Celebrate Brooklyn is super cool.  The summer long music and art fest does all it can do to promote the borough.  Last night within the theatre we sampled goodies from The Farm on Adderly ( and Ample Hills Creamery (  I love that all the merchants are from the area.  I love it more that they are all great!!

I happen to get a very good feeling when the roadies bring the bands beers on stage.  It is at that moment I know the show will begin.

There was a buzz and/or electricity in the pit moments before Cut Copy appeared.   They have a very rabid following and I had not felt that energy in a long time.

Ace Frehley's "Back in the NY Groove" should be played before every NYC show I ever see.

Highlights from the show should you want to take a listen/download:

"Warrant" from Foster the People/Jimmy Kimmel appearance  Perhaps here you can appreciate how young they are.  This also gives you an idea of how they play live.  They opened with this and grabbed my attention immediately.  This is also about the same scale as Prospect Park.   Please stay with it...  they have about a minute and a half intro.  I am thinking a straighter version of Scissor Sisters.  Or MGMT's little brother.

"Take Me Over" by Cut Copy from Coachella a few weeks back.  They opened with this and set the tone.  Great percussion work and the bass line is rock steady.  Witford's voice is indiscernible from the album track.  He is a performer on the top of his game.  Do any of you have as much fun doing anything in your daily life?  And he will be getting loved by thousands again tonight in Philly, then the next day, etc...  Also, funny reading the youtube comments on this post...  exactly how I feel.

Jealous I am.  Least I have my reader(s)

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