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Friday, October 21, 2011

A Night at Terminal 5... and elsewhere... starring Givers/Portugal, the Man

The problem with Terminal 5 for a working New Jersey suburbanite is its location.  Wait, let me rethink that.  There are several problems with Terminal 5 whether you live In NJ or anywhere else.

A moment about the location please.  56th St between 11th and 12th may as well be on the deck of the Intrepid or in the middle of the Hudson river.   Unless you work in a car dealership or with the Daily Show what exactly is your purpose for a visit to this part of town.  There are bars and restaurants in the vicinity, but it lacks a neighborhood atmosphere shared by Bowery, Roseland, Webster Hall, Fillmore at Irving Plaza, et al.  Logistics for any commute are a disaster too.  If you take the train to Penn Station or Grand Central that still leaves you half a City away.  Driving into the City for the show is your best option.  But what fun is that?

Oh, and then there is the sound and problems therein.  Terminal 5 is a long, 4 story factory(capacity 3000) with zero character.  Those issues might be overlooked if the acoustics were sound.  They are not.

The Eels Terminal 5 show last year was a distorted mess (and that does not factor in the ventriloquist opening act.)  After their superb show in Williamsburg this summer it was clear the Terminal 5 mix was flawed.

Alaska rockers Portugal, the Man's ( "off" sound reinforced this belief.  The Wasilla, Alaska rockers are the best thing to come from that town.  Supporting their 6th studio album "In the Mountain of the Cloud" they opened with that record's best track "So American"  They have a nice, easy feeling to them.  Maybe too easy.  The album plays slow with modest hooks and great vocals by singer John Gourley.  There are some downright polished pop/rock moments that play great on the radio.

In concert, played here to a 20 something group of flannel wearing stoners, there hooks and grooves were ineffective.  4 songs in they reached for a cover song  (the Beatles' "Helter Skelter.")  U2 had perfected that cover on Rattle and Hum a generation ago.  What seemed like a stretch in theory, turned out to be one in practice.   The rest of the set became irrelevant.  The prevailing sound issues at the venue did not help matters.

Nor did the opening act, Lafayette, Lousiana's Givers (  They are touring with their first LP In Light mere months old.  Last night they played to their biggest crowd ever.  And they were quite good.  Tiffany Lamson has a voice like Neko Case all the while playing drums, vibes, tambourine, mandolin and any thing else she can get her hands on.  Oh, and was doing it all in denim short shorts.  Good stuff.

Their southern charm and energy made for a rollicking good set.  It is part alt, zydeco, jazz and rock.  Vocalist and guitarist Taylor Guarisco must have said they were from Lafayette, Louisiana a half dozen times during the 30 minutes he was on stage.  It was if to remind the audience "Here is how we do things down on the bayou.  Get off your city boy ass and take note."

Noted.  They play tomorrow night for $5.00 at Brooklyn Bowl.  They are worth far more than the $5.00.  And you can bowl!!!  More details here:

Some notable selections from their stirring set:

"Up, Up, Up"  This track has been their biggest hit and last night was played to a slower beat to start, then built to a steady, stronger groove.  This video bears resemblance to the aforementioned Eels' influential video for "Novocaine for the Soul."  That is a good thing.  That amazing video (and SONG!!) can be found here:  This 1995 video directed by Mark Romanek is simple but brilliant.

"Saw You First"  Dave Matthews with a bit touch of Rusted Root mixed with Paul Simon meets New Pornographers.  Does that sell it?  Scare you away?  Give a listen and decide for yourself.

"Meantime"  Another standout from last night's set.

Additional notes.

There are still plenty of free shows to catch in and around NYC this weekend.  The CMJ new music fest is ongoing and last night the venues seemed positively packed.  Should you be enjoying some fall NYC find some time to catch a new act.  Bands are playing literally everywhere.  Clubs, stores, hotels and restaurants are all in the mix.  Most of the venues are downtown too so you can get the chance to experience some neighborhoods you may have never seen before.  For more info:

Try and make it a point to see Caveman if you can.  They are performing twice tomorrow and will not disappoint, promise!  More info can be found here:

Some Post Scripts:

After the tragedy that in Ohio with dozens of wild animals being gunned down can we now, once and for all, put an end to "private zoos?"  Zoos can be a wonderful and educational spot.  But even in renowed zoos found in the Bronx, Philadelphia, Washington DC and San Diego it is odd and disturbing to see giraffes and tigers.  You put up with it because we assume the care these animals receive is exceptional.  Collectively we understand they would rather not be captive. We put up with it to enjoy and learn from these incredible animals.

What are we all getting with a deranged lunatic housing rare bengal tigers and bears on his rural farm?  Other than neighbor complaints, animals not living ideal lives and eventually their mass killings that is.

Enough already with the pet alligators and pigs.  Stop with the llama and bobcat purchases!!!  Legislation should even prohibit birds to be caged.  But that is clearly a stretch so for now let's all stop with anything other than cats, dogs, fish and birds.

Missing anything?  Can we agree to keep tigers and bears where they belong?  You understand that one of the monkeys released in that Ohio nightmare was probably eaten by one of the big cats, right?  That pretty much defines "wild" animal right?  If your pet has the capibility of tearing your arm out of socket and beating you with it, there may be a problem.

Oh, and remember monkey's aren't that harmless either.  Sure they can do sign language and look adorable in a diaper.  Stop giving cute little monkey his monkey prozac and he may rip your face off.  Or the face of your neighbor.  They should stop appearing in movies too.  Least that would prevent Night at the Museum 3, right?

Finally, probably nor great to promote this but what the hell?  A deranged college punk impersonated a referee interrupting the UCLA/Arizona game last night.   The score was 42-7 so it breathed some life into an otherwise dull evening.  Kids, do not repeat this!!  But feel free to laugh, especially the players inevitable reaction to fighting with one another:

Enjoy the weekend and thanks for all your support!!!

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Givers and Bunny Guy.  Highlights of Terminal 5, October 20, 2011.

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