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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Overrated and Underrated (70s)

Last week I was involved, once again, in a healthy debate over how overrated I think The Eagles are.  The band that is, not the hideous football team.  That team cannot be overrated until they win a Super Bowl.  Since college the only books I have read have been rock biographies.  Other than Jacob Slichter's amazing So You Think You Wanna Be a Rock n Roll Star, which details his time in the 90s band Semisonic, only one other memoir stuck in my brain.  It was Don Felder's Heaven and Hell: My Life in The Eagles.  Mind you, it is but one person's account of his time in the multi-faceted and ultra-successful monster that was/is The Eagles.  But his insights into the workings of the band, and in particular his characterizations of Glenn Frey and Don Henley as as heavy handed control freaks, stayed with me.

Frey and Henley's biggest crime, in my opinion, is not giving Felder enough credit (or any for that matter) for creating the guitar line that became their signature song, "Hotel California."  Felder was a hired gun in their eyes.  The Eagles were an established act comprised of Frey/Henley.  All others should bow down and take what is given to them.  Oh, and smile while doing it too.  Felder was slighted.  Frey and Henley continue to make millions.  And somehow I keep getting more bitter and dismissing most, if not all, of their storied catalog.

It probably isn't fair and clearly I am in the minority.  But for this reason, and many others, like the terrible bores they call "The Long Run," "Take It to The Limit", "Witchay Woman", and "The Best of My Love", this band is high on my list of overrated musicians.

The 70s had so much to offer and THESE are the guys that still charge (and GET!) a shit-ton of money for their live shows?  Maybe a lot of that has to do with untimely deaths.  Gram Parsons had a nice alt country thing going long before the Eagles got their footing.  But, like many others, he died way too young.

The Allman Brothers Band still tour, but without Duane Allman and Dicky Betts.  I know many folks love Warren Haynes, but this act is not the group that created Eat a Peach.

Other 70s acts that fall into my overrated list include Pink Floyd- Their hits were terribly overplayed where I grew up and many are far too dark/moody.  People have told me I am not depressed enough to enjoy it.  Yes, you can appreciate the artist and still dismiss them.  Roger Waters is clearly a gifted talent and songwriter.  That doesn't mean I have to adore his every movement and listen to "Dark Side of The Moon"  ever again.  SNORE.

And sorry, if anyone tries to convince me that KISS is a viable music option I simply have to laugh.  There is nothing there at all, save for the make up and theatrics.  Give Gene Simmons credit for hanging on to Shannon Tweed for this long, but nothing else.  He, like his band's music, are an enormous waste.

That same decade provided many other acts who do not get their proper due.  For instance, The Cars are an act that made brilliant records that fail to get the recognition they deserve.  These New Wave rockers from New England have an impressive catalog and a sound that defines late 70s America.  Candy-O (1979) is a seminal album with a laundry list of hits.  "Let's Go" is a raucous mix of synth, guitar and sing along party rock.  Clapping can be pretty cheesy when incorporated into the mix.  Not here.  "It's All I Can Do" is a tale of love sung with the right amount of longing and affection by dearly departed (and VASTLY underrated) bassist/singer Benjamin Orr.  "Dangerous Type", with Rick Okasek handling vocals, is all attitude, bravado and serves as a stern warning.  "She's a lot like you/the dangerous type."  You know what he is talking about.

You could argue the amount of bands The Cars influenced equals, if not surpasses those that followed The Eagles flight plan.  Henley/Frey had good wholesome looks and easy going sounds that the ladies liked.  It was country music for the yuppie crowd.  Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon did it too, and much better.

The Cars were gawky nerds clearly making niche music that was on a different planet altogether.  They may never get in the disaster they call The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Real rock and roll fans know better.

How wrong am I?  Convince me otherwise?  Who else is overrated from the 70s?  Underrated?

Next up...  the 80s.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Best of June, 2013

Caveman, MHOW 6.21.13

The summer has finally arrived and that brings both elation and deep depression around these parts.   The warm weather is appealing.   Fresh fruit, farmers markets, baseball games, beach, outdoor concerts, no homework, etc...  are all welcome round here.  Driving our only child to Canada for her month long camp are things we could do without.

Lots of quiet days in these parts the next few weeks.  It is amazing what one 11 year old can add to a household.  There will be no sporting events.  The lawn chairs can go back in the garage.  Sun block will only be used pool side, not on softball diamonds.  Saturday afternoons can be spent in one zip code.  Sundays too!

Food takes on a whole different meaning too.  With three different schedules and appetites, it is common to have three dinners (at varying times.)  That is, if we are not all having frozen yogurt for dinner.   Dinners can be manipulated a bit, and likely coordinated with one less mouth to feed.  That little mouth eats all friggin day.

We can grab some adult drama on the tv too.  Since when did her bedtime come after 10pm?  How many food competition or talent shows are there?  Ask me!   Oh, and Storage Shopping American Picker Duck Hoarders Intervention Wars are in my wheelhouse too.  Wait, we can't watch Hoarders anymore because it gives her nightmares.   But you get the point.  She ain't watching The Newsroom with us.  She tolerates CBS Sunday Morning, and less so 60 Minutes.  Maybe we can get back in the pop culture swing of things.  Hell I would even watch an episode of the absurdly overrated True Blood.

It's weird though.  She should be in her room goofing around on her computer or chatting with friends. She should be shooting hoops in our mess of a driveway.  She should be bitching at me for making the wrong chicken nuggets.  She should be controlling the remote.  And damn it she should be feeding her damn fish.

But most importantly we should be hearing her laugh, seeing her smile, and taking in all of her goodness.

Maybe next summer.  And we still have all of August.  For now things will be a little odd around here. Empty nesters if you will.  Hopefully we make a few concerts.  There will certainly be loads of work.  It will all disappear in the blink of an eye.  The only hope is she has the time of her life, and we don't lose our minds.

Music might need to save the day.  This summer follows an already stellar year with a great selection of songs.  Below please find this months crop.  Happy Listening and enjoy the summer!!!

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros "Better Days"  Alex Ebert is the ring master of this left coast band of hippies and misfits.  It's a little bit like 70s Elvis with its pop-gospel sound.  Nothing more than a feel good diddy about the power of hope and need for happiness.

Eleanor Friedberger "She's A Mirror"  Chicago based singer/songwriter with catchy hooks and a pretty, unique voice.  This track steals the bass line from Hall and Oates "Maneater."  But what it lacks in saxophone, it more than makes up for with spunk and fun.  Her new record comes out soon.

Alpine "Gasoline" Australian synth pop group who absolutely shine with this dreamy, flowing master work.  Their debut record, A is for Alpine, was released last month.  They are huge in down under and might very well be the next big thing on these shores.  This song, and the eye catching video, are addictive.  Be warned.

Portugal, The Man "Evil Friends"  Alaskan band, and the best thing to come from Wasilia.  Wonder if they saw Russia from their kitchens?  They are back with another record and this single sounds like a big departure from their last effort.  Granted, the falsetto is still there.  This is garage rock with a glaring nod toward 60s mod and surf rock.  It may be different, but it rocks.

Pure Bathing Culture "Pendulum"  Portland, OR based synth pop.  Their debut record, Moon Tides, will be available in August.  Rainy day music to say the least.  Soft, soft, and more soft.  Your happiest dreams say this song is too sweet.

Surfer Blood "Demon Dance"  Alt rockers from, wait, what?  Florida?  That you do not hear a lot of.  West Palm Beach by way of Orlando these guys released their sophomore record, Pythons, in April.  They have a Weezer-esque thing going for them and rely more on guitars then the other acts on this list.  Maybe their sound is more Nada Surf?  You get the drift.  Synths are absent.

Temples "Shelter Song"  Young English kids who clearly heard the Beatles Revolver once or twice in their day.  More garage rock with some more than subtle references all things 1960.  The Mods are back folks!

Dead in Your Head "Bleached"  LA act with a very Waitresses feel.  Pat Benatar meets the Go Go's with some Bananarama playing in the background.  80s vibe throughout with enough hooks to keep you smiling.

MNDR "Faster Horses"  Only here because the video is totally bizarre.  It's club music with a chorus that doesn't annoy.  But its the visuals from this NY act that compel.  Dare you to look away.  David Lynch scratches his head at this.

Rogue Wave "College" Alt rock from Oakland, California.  More of the floor tom, soft surf resurgence in play here.  Real Estate, Local Natives, Grizzly Bear are all bands that come to mind listening to this feel good song about those 4 (or sometimes more) years after high school.  Oh what I wouldn't do to get back there and tell that kid to have a better idea of what you want to do when you grow up.

40, fat and stupid is no way to go through life.

Until next month folks.  Please enjoy the summer.

For the record the photo of Caveman is to remind you that they are amazing and you should download both of their records and see them live.  They played two nights in NYC last weekend and once again displayed depth, richness and complexity to all their tunes.  They may have the best vibe going right now (opening for Ra Ra Riot in the fall.)  Kindly GET ON BOARD!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wine Under Twenty Bucks - Apothic Red

My latest find, Apothic Red, was discovered by accident when I was called upon to grab some wine at the last minute.

My daughter had just completed the final performance of her school's production of "Annie" in which she played Grace Farrell,  Oliver Warbucks' sophisticated executive assistant. As per tradition, after the show the cast and their families gathered at a local restaurant.

The restaurant is a BYOB, and as we sat down -- newly minted theater folk at one table, parents at another -- someone said "wouldn't it be great if we had brought some wine". Knowing that there was a liquor store three doors away, I impulsively said "I'm on it", not knowing what the hell to get for the group of forty-somethings eating diner food.

As I entered the liquor store, that distinctive cardboard and sharp stale beer smell of all liquor stores took me back to my high school days. My senior year of high school, I gave up my three year career as a busboy to start working as a clerk at a liquor store.

It was a great job, and a great "coming of age" education for me.  Always having been kind of a geek and a late bloomer, the people I met and worked with opened up a new world for me. The hilariously profane owner, his earthy wife, and the rotating cast of coworkers (Most of whom were adults for whom the liquor store was a second job -- a DMV clerk, my high school's custodian, a receptionist, a nurse, a few students from nearby Muhlenburg College) were the first people to peel back the wrapper on my impending adulthood.

One of the on-and-off again employees was a "woman" (she was probably 20 years old). She was crude. She swore like a truck driver. She smoked like a chimney. She had terrible grammar. She apparently had never read a book. She chewed gum with her mouth open. She freely talked, in full detail,  about her many sexual exploits with the various police officers she dated.  She dressed so scantily that even the ex-hippies she worked for had to ask her to cover up. She smelled the whiff of inexperience with women coming off of me and teased me mercilessly about it.

My natural reaction - being clean cut, honor roll student, well-read, the apple of many a teacher's eye, and college bound - was, of course, to be secretly, mindlessly in love with her.

Now it can be told - we all drank on the job.

It was here among these wondrous,  colorful explosions of individuality that I first learned about alcohol as something other that purely a drug, whether stolen from your parents, or purchased by an older conspirator, purely for the purpose of getting drunk.

But none of this educated me about wine. This was the 1980s, and wine was something most working people I knew bought in a big jug.

My introduction to wine, though, came at the same time, from my high school English teacher, Mr. B.

Like all teachers, Mr. B had a mythic back story that had been passed along among students for years. I had heard that in his youth he had been in seminary training to be a Roman Catholic priest, and his wife had been studying to be a nun, and that they met, fell in love and decided to give up the clergy to get married.

I never knew whether this story was actually true. I knew he was Italian and a deacon in his church. In his gentle and humane manner, and his passion for teaching and compassion for his students, he was a man of spiritual depth.

As for wine, one day we were studying "A Tale of Two Cities". As was the manner back in the day, the students were taking turns reading aloud passages from the book, and then animated discussion would follow.

But when we came to Chapter One, Part Five, "The Wine Shop", Mr. B took up the reading himself as follows:

"A large cask of wine had been dropped and broken, in the street. The accident had happened in getting it out of a cart; the cask had tumbled out with a run, the hoops had burst, and it lay on the stones just outside the door of the wine-shop, shattered like a walnut-shell.
All the people within reach had suspended their business, or their idleness, to run to the spot and drink the wine. The rough, irregular stones of the street, pointing every way, and designed, one might have thought, expressly to lame all living creatures that approached them, had dammed it into little pools; these were surrounded, each by its own jostling group or crowd, according to its size. Some men kneeled down, made scoops of their two hands joined, and sipped, or tried to help women, who bent over their shoulders, to sip, before the wine had all run out between their fingers. Others, men and women, dipped in the puddles with little mugs of mutilated earthenware, or even with handkerchiefs from women's heads, which were squeezed dry into infants' mouths; others made small mud-embankments, to stem the wine as it ran; others, directed by lookers-on up at high windows, darted here and there, to cut off little streams of wine that started away in new directions; others devoted themselves to the sodden and lee-dyed pieces of the cask, licking, and even champing the moister wine-rotted fragments with eager relish. There was no drainage to carry off the wine, and not only did it all get taken up, but so much mud got taken up along with it, that there might have been a scavenger in the street, if anybody acquainted with it could have believed in such a miraculous presence.
A shrill sound of laughter and of amused voices--voices of men, women, and children--resounded in the street while this wine game lasted. There was little roughness in the sport, and much playfulness. There was a special companionship in it, an observable inclination on the part of every one to join some other one, which led, especially among the luckier or lighter-hearted, to frolicsome embraces, drinking of healths, shaking of hands, and even joining of hands and dancing, a dozen together. When the wine was gone, and the places where it had been most abundant were raked into a gridiron-pattern by fingers, these demonstrations ceased, as suddenly as they had broken out. The man who had left his saw sticking in the firewood he was cutting, set it in motion again; the women who had left on a door-step the little pot of hot ashes, at which she had been trying to soften the pain in her own starved fingers and toes, or in those of her child, returned to it; men with bare arms, matted locks, and cadaverous faces, who had emerged into the winter light from cellars, moved away, to descend again; and a gloom gathered on the scene that appeared more natural to it than sunshine."

Mr. B looked up at us. And he said, best as I can remember, something like this:

"Why were these people so excited? Because wine is good for you. Wine is food. Wine brings people together in joy, and that's why each drop of it for these people was like a renewal of body and spirit, because wine is food for both body and spirit".

I had forgotten about this story until I saw the bottle of Apothic Red in the liquor store. At that moment I realized Mr. B was passing along to us some wisdom about wine, and its importance to him, and perhaps why it should be important to us.

I knew nothing about Apothic Red. Its a California mutt -- a Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet blend --- It had a cool label, and a cool name, and, of course, was the right price.  I grabbed three bottles and scurried back to the restaurant.

The wine was uncorked and everyone had a glass and we all started talking. The Apothic Red was dark and fruity and rich. It went well with a hamburger, rare, with Bermuda onions and tomato.

By an eerie bit of synchronicity, one cast-mate's father said the advertising company he worked for had designed the Apothic Red label.

Another father, born in Italy, sampled the wine and declared it delicious. This meant a lot to me. Like most WASPs, I grew up believing the stereotype that Italians, like all cultures that ring the Mediterranean, are imbued with unparalleled ancient wisdom on the good things in life, like food, drink, love, art and pure unabashed enjoyment of life . As I have grown older, I have learned that this stereotype is, of course, largely true.

So we all got to know each other better, had a lot of laughs, and, in celebrating out kids foray into musical theater, and perhaps their step or two more toward adulthood, drank in moments of renewal of body and spirit.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Left-Wing Conservative: Against Big Government

I recently reconnected with an old high school friend with whom I had lost touch for over twenty years.

And as we do with many of our old friends, we picked up right where we left off --- in our case, discussing politics.

Our discussions then, and now, were not really about convincing each other - though in our youth we probably thought otherwise. Rather, they were, and are, more about seeing how many holes we could poke in each other’s positions. Both of us, I think, enjoy the intellectual chase of the debate much more than the kill of victory. Even these many years hence, in middle age, we have not (yet) found a political issue we firmly agree upon.

He is a self-described "conservative" Republican. But he's not a Tea Party wingnut-- he’s totally cool with science and evolution, and thinks that having elected leaders that are intelligent and Ivy League-educated can sometimes (he's thinking "Romney", not "Obama") be a good thing. And while his religious views lead him to traditionalist positions on moral and social issues, he doesn't just say "love the sinner, hate the sin", but actually lives it. 

In other words, he's a mensch.

I was flattered to hear that he was actually reading this blog. And charmed to hear that he liked it but didn't agree with any of it.

He is also, by profession, a marketing guy, so he challenged me about naming my political blog “The Left-Wing Conservative”. He wondered whether it was just a clever, catchy name, since he didn’t see too much that was “conservative” about it.

I explained to him, as I have in previous blogs, about how I see my "conservative" views as consistent with the conservative tradition traced through Edmund Burke, de Tocqueville, Montaigne and the ancient Greek polis.

He wasn't buying it.

He said to me “When am I going to see a real “red-meat” conservative viewpoint from you?”

So he got me to thinking. Do I have any “red meat” conservative views?

Yes. I'm against Big Government.

Like most people, I hate Big Government, by which I mean the Federal Government. Which means I think they should stay out of my business. Unless of course, I need them for something, like disaster relief or to repel an invasion, in which case I want them to swoop in like the wrath of God.

But since World War II, and especially since 9/11, we are more and more governed by a Federal Government that, whether Republican or Democratically led,  pulls more and more regulation and governing into the realm of secrecy, and moves more and more policy decisions into a "one size fits all" model tailored to narrow, powerful interests.

The TARP and bank bailouts were hashed out in a Treasury Department conference room with the very banks seeking relief (and are the same banks that later wrote 90% of the new banking regulations). The NSA has been given free reign to monitor every phone call and email in the country. And "No Child Is Left Behind" in being subjected to mindless standardized testing. And Agribusiness continues to be permitted by the Feds to override state laws that would require labeling of genetically modified food.

I think we are just too big and too diverse of a country to be governed so centrally, and our  disconnection has resulted in our detachment from seeing how the Federal Government has become less representative of its citizens.

While the US Constitution is not holy writ sent down from a fiery mountaintop, it is instructive on this topic.

The US Constitution is a treaty among several different independent states (In fact, it was typical in the Founders time for folks like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams to refer to Virginia and Massachusetts, respective, as their "country").  Each state agrees to give up some of their own sovereign powers to a central federal government for roughly three general purposes:

1. Common national defense and security

2. Remove trade barriers among the states, and set some national standards, to create a national market for goods and services.

3. Establish a national baseline of individual civil rights for US citizens by guaranteeing equal protection of the law (people get treated the same under the law regardless of race, religion, national origin, etc.) and due process of law (the government cannot deprive you of your life, liberty, or property unless they give you notice, a hearing, right to counsel, etc. Also, it considers whether there are some areas of our lives that the government cannot interfere with, regardless of notice, a hearing, right to counsel, etc.)

Beyond these three general purposes, it was expected that public health, morality, and welfare would be taken care of by the individual states, the theory being that these standards vary based on culture, geography, and region, and therefore the states are in a better position to pass laws on these topics.

I'm sure we could argue about the details of the above three principles. In fact, I think we are supposed to -- these were all left very broadly cast, and our forefather's assumption was that citizens would be competent to use free speech, reason, and debate to sort out the details on how to fulfill these goals.

However, I think we have been laboring mightily against the reality that, aside from these common principles of mutual benefit, we really are, in many ways, still a collection of different countries, each with its own culture, priorities, and morals. This diversity is, overall, a good thing, I think. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously referred to each state being a "laboratory of democracy", in which various ways of living can be explored.

I have lived in New Jersey almost my entire life, and while I have not traveled extensively, when I do and I am asked where I am from, my first thought is "New Jersey". And plenty of other people feel the same way about their own state.

Maybe the constant attempt to turn everyone into a "Real American" (as various parties and groups define it) is driving this excessive concentration of power. We are chasing after an abstraction and ignoring the real, tangible impact of many Federal policies, and denying our own separate states, or polis's vitality in the process.

Anthony Bourdain, the travel and food writer, speaks often of how his experiences in various countries have opened his mind and broken him of his Manhattanite superiority complex toward his fellow Americans. Now, when he visits places and meets people in the US that he used to dismiss as "hicks" in "flyover country", he says he now views them as he would citizens of a foreign country, and now sees the richness and complexity of their culture, even if he would not want to live in that culture.

(Another old friend recently caught me using the "flyover country" expression on Facebook, and rightly called me on it)

Perhaps if states want to pass laws I don't agree with regarding same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception, medical marijuana, unions, regulation of businesses, creationism versus evolution,  and sex education, while I don't have to like it, perhaps I can view it as another "laboratory of democracy" working through a few experiments.

On the other hand, why should I be subject to the whims and prejudices of a politician that I did not even get the chance to vote for, or against? Why should senators from sparsely populated states representing a fraction of the total US population have so much sway over what happens in New Jersey?  And why are we being dictated to by a concentration of power in a swampy suburb between Maryland and Virginia?

So this left-wing conservative is now looking to keep it local.

 Organic Consumers article on Senators and how they vote (among other things)

The Week piece on how Wall Street may be responsible for writing America's laws

CNN piece on data mining

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The National, Barclays Center 6.5.13

Singer Matt Berninger, of indie rock royalty The National, joked last night to the thousands in attendance at Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, "we have played many places in and around NYC, but we always loved this place best.  It's good to be back where it all started."  Well, something like that.  Berninger is from Ohio and met Scott Devendorf (bass) while they attended the University of Cincinnati.  Only after they left Ohio for Brooklyn, about 15 years ago, and hooking up with twin brothers Aaron (guitar/keyboard) and Bryce Dessner (guitar) and Scott's brother Bryan (drums) did the band take shape.  Then, like about half of today's alt rock bands, they began to call Brooklyn and NY home.  In those 15 years Brooklyn has become Manhattan West and Jay Z and Bruce Ratner built an immense Arena in an insanely busy part of town (to the dismay of many of the locals.)  The Nets left Jersey for it and the Islanders will be playing hockey there this winter.  This was The National's epic homecoming.  The National?  An arena band?  Sure, why the hell not?  If Passion Pit can play MSG, these guys can headline this venue.  But what a venue...

Did I mention it's size?  The Barclay's Center has a capacity of 18 thousand.  That is easy to believe.  And since the motif is mostly black (hallways, ceilings, tile...) it has an cave-like feel to it.  My wife thought it looked like an Equinox gym.  That might have had a little to do with the fragrance that permeates the place.  Can someone tell me if they blast cologne in that place?  It was smoky in the concourse from something.  And I am sorry, but at this size you are NEVER going to be able to make it feel like a rock club.   Once you start checking ticket stubs for sections it is clear you are at an "event" not rock show.  There are plenty out there who like an arena or stadium show.  This blogger is not among them.  For one thing, I need to be able to see the bands faces.  I want to know if there is improvisation going on, or if a singer is getting emotional, and how, for the most part, they get along with one another on stage.  Chemistry, or lack thereof, are necessary components to capture my attention.  That cannot be replicated by a video screen.  My seats were pretty darn good too:  lower level pretty much straight on with the stage.  When Berninger announced he had a guest vocalist (Annie Clark from St. Vincent), I had to take his word for it.  They were far away!  She could have been anyone.  Her vocals could not be heard either.  In fact, it makes no sense why she was there at all.  

Thankfully the sound is pretty darn good.  Berninger's big baritone sounded great and the rat-a-tat drumming of Bryan was clearly energetic and emphatic.  Berninger can not be faulted for not filling the arena and the Dessner brothers get a pass too.  Again, the place is immense.  The National really don't have a sound fit for this scale.  These guys are a 3 to 4 thousand seat band.  And that is ok.  Who can really play an arena these days?   Save the Bon Jovi, Bruce, Coldplay, U2 votes too.  Think for a moment of newer bands.  Bands!!  Not Taylor Swift or Gaga...  those are variety acts (special in their own right.)  Categorize those musical acts the same way you would the Harlem Globetrotters or Disney on Ice.  

Music loud and big enough to knock an arena crowd off its feet.  Is it Foo Fighters?  Pearl Jam?  Nine Inch Nails (who are touring this summer?) 

You gotta be real freaking loud and have a big personality/stage presence to pull it off.  Dave Grohl is probably the closet around.  Friends tell me Brandon Flowers of The Killers has what it takes.  Laid back, black suited Berninger, skews more lounge than arena.  His sardonic asides in between songs are witty for a smaller room.  

It's just all very odd.  

Don't get me wrong.  There were moments of real power.  "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and "Afraid of Everyone" from their amazing record High Violet were soaring and special.  Earlier songs, like "Abel" and "Squalor Victoria" were performed with high energy.  And slower numbers, like the opener "Don't Swallow the Cap" from their new record Trouble Will Find Me, were special in their own right.

It's just very anti-rock show...

There are plenty of clean lines and modern decorative touches.  The concession stands boast espresso, sushi and authentic NY sandwiches.  Stoli handles the liquor and beer stands are abundant.  Remembering the blight that was the Atlantic rail yards (which this arena replaced- was built on top of) the Barclay's is easily an above average upgrade.  

We handed an usher a stub.  We had to stay in our section.  People were not standing.  Other folks were insistent they sit in seat 12, not 14.  All that was missing was someone selling Cracker Jack, or a foul ball it my way ( I guess stray puck or basketball makes more sense.)  

It was good to see one of my favorites on a big stage.  They deserve the acclaim, both commercial and critical.  It was nice to see another grand new piece of NYC architecture and innovation.  Say what you will about the Barclay's, it is nothing if not impressive.

Let me be the first to say these entities need not meet again.  It will be great to catch a hockey game this fall.  If and when The National plays in smaller venue later this year, count me in.

The National setlist Barclays Center 6.5.13  SiriusXM broadcast the show live and will be replaying on SiriusXMU should you want to listen.  Tune in to that network or look them up online for more detail.
Some street art.  I guess.

There are pictures of old NYC basketball squads on the interior corridor walls.  Weird mix of old on a very new (and new looking) building.  

Like a steel birds nest (like the Chinese Olympic Stadium)

The interior of the "Geico Lobby"  Modern, Modern, Modern!

The many subways of NYC are just steps from the Center.  The 4 took about 30 minutes to get to Lower Manhattan.  Figure 30 minutes for midtown too.

Pacific Standard  Nice beer bar with West Coast theme located on 4th Ave.  Just a few blocks away from the venue with a nice happy hour, friendly bar keepers and cool crowd.  Nice find!
The National, Barclays Center 6.5.13