This past weekend provided perfect late summer/early fall weather here in the Northeast. Yankee games in the Bronx couldn't have been better (unless of course they were swept.) Madonna in Atlantic City was probably a wonderful event. Shopping in Soho... Apple picking... you name it. If you spent the weekend inside shame on you. It was that friggin good.
It was a also a great opportunity to check out the new outdoor music venue, Williamsburg Park in Brooklyn. Seasoned Midwestern alt country act The Jayhawks gave a free show Saturday night and the results were decidedly mixed.
The band, still led by Mark Olson and Gary Louris, is very much a professional act beyond capable of rocking and/or rolling. Problem is this cavernous parking lot just felt odd. It might of been because of the price of admission, or lack thereof. People were coming and going as they pleased. It was nomadic. Families with children shopped for granola while others talked LOUDLY to the their neighbors. At its best the crowd was lukewarm and disengaged. It seemed as if no one really made an effort to go see the band. It had the feel of a novelty act. It probably didn't help that they played in the far more intimate Wellmont Theatre the night before. Those who really love the band probably found it more interesting to see them there. There was probably a greater police presence than Jayhawks diehard fans.
Or maybe the folks in Brooklyn realize Williamsburg Park is in itself incomplete. It's a giant, personality lacking parking lot that happens to have a stage. And "giant" is not an understatement. From the food tents at the back of the lot you are easily 100 yards from the stage. Prospect Park it is not. The sound was good and the Jayhawks performed their songs well. The harmonies on "Blue" were pretty darn good and their new material had some nice life to it, particularly the single "She Moves in So Many Ways." They were affable. They were tight and efficient. They were just painfully out of context. It just felt weird being there.
Gotye plays Williamsburg Park in a few Saturdays and it will be interesting to see what he thinks of the place. Maybe his youthful, paying crowd will breathe the necessary life to this otherwise moribund new venue.
The Jayhawks, now nearly 30 years in existence, were unable to do it.
Which is why we headed back up the street to Brooklyn Bowl. We did not know who was playing when we arrived. Frankly, we just went there to eat and drink.
After a terrific meal (honestly, this is some of the best bar food in NYC) we feasted on the sounds of Chicago band Maps and Atlases. This four piece formed in 2004 and have their share of followers. That is, a handful of folks knew some words and bopped around during a song or two. They are led by beard wearing guitarist/vocalist Dave Davison. About 48 hours after the set the beard seems to be the only thing that comes to mind. It is that impressive. Long, ZZ Top manicured hair that stood out far more than the music. There were some decent beats and groovy bass lines here and there. But nothing that came out and grabbed you. Their T shirts were pretty cool too. Well meaning kids out living the dream. That ain't bad. There are just plenty of acts doing it better these days.
But perhaps most importantly we were able to secure tix for Men Without Hats, 11.30.12 at the Bowl. Thinking this would be the perfect 40th birthday event. Anyone interested?? $10 bucks for Christ's Sake. Meet there? Rent a bus/van and party hard?? It all sounds so juvenile and silly that it cannot go wrong.
Hope to see you there. More details can be found here: Men Without Hats!!!