29 August 2009

now starring on my office wall / NYC thoughts

it's a little freaky to me that it's been over a fortnight now since I travelled up to New York City to see Friendly Fires play 2 gigs over 2 nights. for some reason, it seems a lot longer - I guess when your feet are dipped back into the fire (back at work) after having them lily white and untouched for 5 days (including the weekend when I was back home) everything feels like a lifetime away.

5 things I learned:

1. the Indians that own the mostly takeaway place across the street from the Hotel Chandler (E. 31st Street) are really nice. if you go late at night, the place is surrounded by Indian cabbies talking shop, so you know the food must be authentic.

2. NYC crowds are completely mental and when drunk, really stupid. not saying that D.C. crowds do not act the same way when plastered, but 13 August in W'burg was a pretty dumb showing, kids.

3. LPR - really cool venue, really cool people that work there, and if I ever wanted to host a CD party, I'd do it there. in general, the bars and even the bouncers are cooler in NYC than in D.C. (then again, this is probably true of most big cities).

4. Music Hall of Williamsburg - v. cool bartender/esses. I like the fact that you don't have to stand outside waiting for the doors to open, you can wait in the bar and loosen up with a drink first. also, the faucet knobs in the women's loo at Music Hall of Williamsburg need to be tightened. (I guess some drunk girl thought she has the strength of Superwoman and decided to wrest part of one of the hot water knobs off the counter.)

and of course, they seriously need more security. (good god, if necessary, hire the stony Arturo from Morrissey's camp when he's not touring.) apparently, this sort of storming the stage happens here and at the Bowery Ballroom ALL THE TIME.

5. the NYPD at Penn Station are so stoic and unmovable to the point that they're pretty much useless if you're in a bind and actually need their help.

the travel options to see the Big Pink / Friendly Fires in November and December are still on the table...

28 August 2009

what I'm doing with my weekend instead of Reading/Leeds

so every year around this time I get really upset b/c I'm not at V, I'm not at Reading/Leeds, and I'm not going to Bestival. and then the BBC upsets me b/c they've got videos galore and b/c I don't live in the UK, I can't watch any of them.

however, this year, I decided to make myself useful and not too upset by trawling the Web finding videos that I can actually watch and will tide me over until I can actually see some of the acts live for the first time or again.

interestingly, tonight I found that the BBC has removed the copyright restrictions for videos they've linked up to the Mercury Prize nominations. I'm linking them here so if you're interested in finding out about any of these acts before the gong gets awarded on 8 September (only 2 weeks away, can you believe it???) you can.

Bat for Lashes - interview at Mercury Prize nomination party + "Daniel" performance on Later with Jools Holland

Florence and the Machine - interview at Mercury Prize nomination party + "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" backstage at Glastonbury + "You've Got the Love" at Ibiza Rocks

Friendly Fires - interview at Mercury Prize nomination party + balls-to-the-wall version of "Jump in the Pool" with Brazilian dancers and extra percussion at Radio1's Big Weekend (never thought I'd ever see this...)

Glasvegas - interview at Mercury Prize nomination party + "Daddy's Gone" in Jo Whiley's Radio 1 Live Lounge

Kasabian - interview at Mercury Prize nomination party + "Fire" at Glastonbury

La Roux - stripped down version of "Bulletproof"; I actually saw this at the Glasto happy hour at DC9 in June :)

Led Bib - interview at Mercury Prize nomination party + clip of "Sweet Chilli"

Lisa Hannigan - interview at Mercury Prize nomination party + "I Don't Know" performance on Later with Jools Holland

Speech Debelle - interview at Mercury Prize nomination party + "Searching" backstage at Glastonbury

Sweet Billy Pilgrim - clip of "Truth Only Smiles"

The Horrors - interview at Mercury Prize nomination party + video for "Who Can Say"

The Invisible - interview at Mercury Prize nomination party + video for "London Girl"

so if you can't be at Reading/Leeds and/or you're a poor sod like me who can't watch any of the BBC red button /iPlayer vids, that should keep you busy for a while!

start of a new blog feature: the album advice column (#1, Friendly Fires)

next Monday, the kiddikins of our local school district start their fall semester. and the blissful less-than-25-minute morning commute of these past 3 months will be over. I can already feel the traffic getting heavier - I'm now waving my fists in the air at the drivers who took their moron pills before leaving the house b/c they're driving stupidly, and getting confronted by a sea of cars with their brake lights illuminated doesn't help my mood in the morning.

as a result of several trying mornings trying to get to work this week, I was listening and re-listening to Friendly Fires's debut album and thinking about the lyrics of each song. like, really trying to figure out what Ed Macfarlane is trying to convey.

while Ed Mac has said in multiple interviews that the lyrics come to him as an afterthought to the band setting the tone with the beats, I beg to differ. most writers, I think, are too humble to admit when they've written something truly profound. and I hate cocky writers! "hey, look at me! I'm so great, I'm so special!"

anyway, I'm not sure if my work commutes will continue to make me stir-crazy in my little metal box on the road, but in the meantime, I'm going to re-listen to some of the albums I really love and see if I can glean anything significant.

and as such, I bring you a new feature to this blog - the album advice column. meaning I will distill in a sentence (or couple of sentences) what I think the songs means in an album significant to me.

so first up - the 10 tracks of Friendly Fires' debut album, released September 2008.

1. "Jump in the Pool" - carpe diem - seize the day - and never put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today.

2. "In the Hospital" - sometimes, loving you hurts me. a lot. but I still love you though.

3. "Paris" - we gotta get out of this place. and I have the master plan!

4. "White Diamonds" - sometimes people are just meant for each other. and they'll do anything to keep it going.

5. "Strobe" - the old proverb of "if you love her, set her free. if she comes back to you, she's yours." (alternately: if you go off with someone else and then you come back to me, I'm willing to give it another shot.)

6. "On Board" - ok, this one's got me. I think it's got something to do with "getting with the program", joining up something, but that something is dangerous ("we had to cross the line / despite the fact our feet dipped in the fire"). and the video is no help either :)

7. "Lovesick" - when a relationship clearly isn't working anymore, don't let it wither and die, cut your losses and leave before it hurts either of you any more.

8. "Skeleton Boy" - I know you think it's over, but let's just get through tonight as friends and we can talk about it in the morning.

9. "Photobooth" - right now things are nice and cozy between us. but you want to leave me, what did I do wrong? (I keep listening to this and I'm really not sure about this one.)

10. "Ex Lover" - I haven't been the same since we broke up. will you give me another chance? please? I still really love you.

overall, pretty much a plaintive cry to lost love. which is generally what dance records hope to achieve, right?

comments / suggestions / friendly jabs are welcome!

27 August 2009

this week's Roundtable (27/08)

Thursday's Roundtable sees Magazine's Dave Formula and friend of the show Andrew Collins (who worked on NME and Q with Lammo and Stuart Maconie) + I don't know how to spell his name, but the bloke who sings for Golden Silvers...Gwi...something...don't ask me to spell it! oh wait...Gwilym Gold...(thanks Wikipedia)

1. Editors - "Papillon" - I had a discussion about this with a Editors fanatic friend of mine, of the small odds that her Editors would have a song called "Papillon" just like the Airborne Toxic Event. I don't like this one as much as TATE's, but I appreciate and dig the synths wholeheartedly!

2. Bad Lieutenant - "Sink or Swim" - the guitars are v. '60s. v. Byrds-esque, no? it's not great, but it's not bad either. it just doesn't fit right in the times, that's all. this is the band that is New Order minus Peter Hook. dunno. I'm not a New Order aficionado so I can't really tell if this really sounds like New Order minus mad hooks from...well...Hooky.

3. missed the artiste, oops - "Which Way to Go" - sorry, I got interrupted when this played.

4. Massive Attack - "Splitting the Atom" - mad groove.

5. Ash - "True Love 1980" - I love it a lot. it's so '80s bouncy. it's kinda like Pet Shop Boys. bring it back baby!

6. Cery Matthews (aka Nemone's sub on 6music while she is on maternity leave) - "Arlington Way" - it is defo the age of the throwback sounding record. this sounds like what Duffy was trying to do. am I right? hmmm...I have to say, Cerys's voice isn't as annoying when she's singing than when she's trying to present for 6music...but now that I listen to it more, man, it's cloyingly annoying, like an old, insipid Shirley Bassey record (remember "Goldfinger"?). sorry Shirley.

7. the winner - Arctic Monkeys' "Humbug" album - it's kind of disappointing that I only like "Crying Lightning", and that had to grow on me before I started liking it. I've never been a big fan of Alex Turner's voice, nor the sound of the Monkeys. (and I know this will get me in trouble with a Yorkshire mate!)

time marches on / reflection on Dad

so I've got less than 3 months now to my big birthday, "the new 20" if you will. it's kind of scary to me when I realise I've been out of school for nearly a decade now. in a lot of ways, I still feel like a kid, like I have so much to learn. on the other hand, feeling like a kid has come in handy when I go to gigs at night with all the young'uns and have to get to work by 8 the next day with less than 5 hours of sleep...

(oh bother, I have no idea why that is so dark! grrrr.)

thoughts still marinating in my head re: trips in and around my birthday. I don't think my parents did it on purpose, but I really detest having my birthday around Thanksgiving. worse, this year it's ON Thanksgiving. every year I get stuck going to my uncle's b/c about half of my mum's extended family live in the area, and every year it's the same "how your university studies going?" um...I haven't been in school in years. I've been in the workforce for years.

even worse - and how could it get any worse? I'll tell you - I get ribbed on for my trips to other locales/countries/states/cities for gigs. I have a cousin who skydives a lot and she doesn't get the third degree like I do. what is so "insane" about something I'm passionate about? I don't get it.

plus it just hasn't been the same since my father passed. this year, I was so v. happy to be in England for the fifth anniversary of his passing - I just couldn't handle being in D.C. *again* and around the doom and gloom. he was always supportive of whatever musical interest du jour I had. at his funeral, it was with some mirth (and of course sadness) that people from his work approached me and said, "you're the kid he took to Japan to see Duran Duran, aren't you? b/c he used to talk about you all the time".

yes, I am. and yes, he took me to see Duran in June 2001 after I graduated so I could see the Simon LeBon / Nick Rhodes / Warren Cuccurullo version of Duran Duran before they disbanded and did the obligatory '80s band reunion. that was a memorable experience. I'm pretty sure we would have gone to England together too if I said I wanted to see some band I loved. but we never got that chance...

ok, so where was I going with this? oh yeah. even though I'm getting older and time is marching on to the end, my love for music hasn't waned at all. in fact, it's gotten stronger, if that's possible. and every time I go to a gig, whether it be a gig in town or I've gone to another city, state, or country to see a band, I know he's with me in spirit. cheering me on b/c he knows what music means to me, even if the rest of my family doesn't.

going to post this now so I don't turn into a blubbering idiot.

25 August 2009

taking another bite of the Big Apple? / all hail HMV

I think I've come down from the grandiose schemes that launched me high up in the air last night while I was still smarting from the Maximo Park N.A. tour cancellation.

late last night I talked to a good friend of mine who, I say, is the coolest of the cool cucumbers EVER, and she said "you have to go to New York". in which case it'd be for the Big Pink on 4 December and Friendly Fires on 5 December (hopefully, god willing, with the xx as support).

I'm gonna hang tight until at least mid-October, when the NYLON tour line-up SHOULD be officially announced and nothing should be sold out yet.


yet another reason why I wish I lived in England:

hmv signings, gigs, launches...come along

I know some of my music friends hate HMV (or rather the prospect of having to work at an HMV for the rest of his/her life, haha) but unless you live in New York, this sort of thing at a music shop NEVER happens in America.

I've got a couple people now who I know are planning to go to the Manchester or London signing/shows with FF the first week of September, so I'm hoping for photos, video, anything really at this point!

I know I'm going to be falling over myself to check the local stores around here for the expanded CD/DVD released in America on 8 September b/c chances are I won't be able to find it :P I mean, Amazon doesn't even have it listed! (I obvs. do not want the UK version b/c it'll be Region 2 and unfortunately, I don't have a no-region DVD player yet...)

24 August 2009

Maximo is a no-go / on the bright side...

OH NO. Maximo Park has cancelled their entire North American tour for "personal reasons".

I sincerely hope that for their sake, it has nothing to do with health problems, people needing to go to rehab, etc.

darn. and I was so hoping to see Paul Smith's hat and reinforced trousers work their magic on stage at the Black Cat. I'm not being facetious, I've been told by MANY people "you will not be able to take your eyes off Paul Smith, he's so charismatic".

also, the Charlatans and Placebo have canceled their tours too. what is going on, is there something in the air I don't know about?

super bummer.

on the bright side, while I was looking up my Friendly Fires / the xx gig reports in Google to see where they stood result wise, I came across the most curious discovery.

Neumo's in Seattle lists Friendly Fires as the opener for 27 Nov, with the xx
as the support act.

further searching of the lone East Coast date at the Paradise Club of Boston on 4 December indicates the same thing.

could it really be true?

oh dear, I think this means packing my bags for a Thanksgiving week sojourn out west.

either that or a fly-by-night job in Boston on 4 December followed by NYC on 5 December.

my poor, poor wallet.

nothing short of phenomenal / end of Lammo's Radio1 show

last Friday night I got to see the Phenomenal Handclap Band (aka NYC DJs Daniel Collás and Sean Marquand's musical vision in the form of an 8-piece touring unit) in a tiny little venue in my hometown. it's really exciting, b/c while the caliber of artists coming to town have gone way way up in the last 2 years compared to the rest of my life spent in this boring area, we usually don't get the "good" acts until they've committed themselves to a lengthy N. American tour.

I had the good fortune of talking to Daniel and Sean before the show, which you can read here:
Interview: Daniel Collás and Sean Marquand of Phenomenal Handclap Band

and here are the obligatory gig reviews:

http://popwreckoning.com/2009/08/22/phenomenal-handclap-band-liberation-dance-party-dc9-washington-dc - at PW

Live Review: Phenomenal Handclap Band at DC9, Washington DC – 21 August 2009 - at TGTF


lest you think I forgot to post at There Goes the Fear about my faves Friendly Fires and new faves the xx...it's not to be missed. if you're like me and worry about getting bruised up at gigs, you may have to forgo Friendly Fires gigs from now on. seriously. I left with both arms and elbows black and blue...

Live Review: Friendly Fires and the xx at Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York City – 13th August 2009


and let us not forget that today, 24 August 2009, is the last, penultimate programme for Steve Lamacq's "In New Music We Trust" on Radio1. if there was any BBC radio programme to catch, it's tonight's. it airs at 21.00-22.00 GMT (4 to 5 PM on the East Coast). be there or be stupid.

20 August 2009

this week's Roundtable (20/08)

Thursday's Roundtable sees Frank Turner and Huey Morgan (Fun Loving Criminals, current 6music presenter) discuss some new releases, plus Chris Roberts (Lammo's fave journo ever)

1. the winner - Idlewild - "Readers and Writers" - I have a friend who a big fan of this band. it's not pressing any of my buttons in a good way.

2. Strange Boys - 'Woe is You and Me" - they have a rawness I can appreciate. Lammo loves them - they're on his penultimate In New Music We Trust programme next Monday night.

3. Deadmaus5 - "Ghosts and Stuff" - it's ok. it should move me more b/c it's a dance record, but for some reason I'm finding it hard to stay awake today. maybe the spectre of last Thursday in NYC hanging over me? ::major yawn::

4. Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions - "Blanchard" - uh, what is this? is new age-y stuff now in vogue thanks to Bat for Lashes??? crikey I need something to wake me up, not this drivel.

5. Alice in Chains - "Check My Brain" - AIC will never really be AIC without the late Layne Staley (remember "Man in the Box"?). but this isn't a bad effort.

6. the Drums - "Let's Go Surfing" - the whistling might grate on you, but the guitars actually sound Beach Boys-y. watch this turn into a tv advert tune soon. I'd bet on it! ahahahaha they got signed to Moshi Moshi. isn't that where Friendly Fires got signed after they started with People in the Sky? LOL

7. the new Mariachi El Bronx album - I have to admit this band's sound has grown on me. I didn't think they were being serious about the mariachi sound - and I remember what Patrick Wolf said on a recent Roundtable about wanting to be turned into a Latino woman, lol. anyhoo, I like this sound a lot!

19 August 2009

hot off the presses!

so I'm sure you're wondering what I've been keeping myself busy with for the last week. well, I was in the city that never sleeps!

my thoughts/comments will follow, but here are gig reviews from my mini-tour with Friendly Fires...(the FF/xx gig review on TGTF will follow, I promise!)

Friendly Fires with Phenomenal Handclap Band @ le poisson rouge, NYC for PW

Friendly Fires with the xx @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC for PW

Live Review: Friendly Fires and Phenomenal Handclap Band at le poisson rouge, New York City - 12th August 2009 for TGTF

....and I saw Bat for Lashes this past Saturday:
Bat for Lashes with Other Lives @ 9:30 Club, Washington DC

my muy caliente summer finally winds down this Friday (I think!) at DC9, where Phenomenal Handclap Band will be putting in a special session just for us Washingtonians. I'm feeling v. honoured about this and can't wait!

6music in the Hub alert / Lammo's Radio1 programme broadcast

wow, this is going to be one hell of a week coming up...

4 of my fave bands in George Lamb's 6music Hub, on 11.30-12.00 GMT (6.30 to 7 AM ET). I'm catching them on iPlayer, obvs...

24 Aug - Passion Pit
25 Aug - Jack Penate
26 Aug - Placebo
28 Aug - Noah and the Whale

and beyond...

31 Aug - Mariachi El Bronx
04 Sep - Mumford and Sons
07 Sep - the Cribs (who BTW have just announced 2 dates at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC 12-13 November)

...and Steve Lamacq will be broadcasting his last ever In New Music We Trust programme at 21.00-22.00 GMT (4 to 5 PM here on the East Coast) next Monday, 24 August. I am so grateful he is staying on at 6music and Radio2 b/c if he wasn't, I don't know what I'd do with myself. probably get a noose ready...


my apologies for a lack of posts since I've been back from NYC. there's a v. good reason though. see my next post!

09 August 2009

no Roundtable review for 13.08, and another night job

if it wasn't apparent from my earlier posts, I will not be near a computer when Lammo's Roundtable comes on this Thursday. I will probably be eating brekky around that time, b/c I plan to sleep in after long nights put in at the Friendly Fires gigs and then sojourns at New York's discotheques.

I also don't think I'll even be able to catch up on the 6music iPlayer stream over the weekend because I am also seeing Bat for Lashes on 15.08. just a heads-up for those of you who read this on a regular basis. and if you do, would you say so once in a while? no biggie. just shoot me an email at fabfan97 (at) hotmail (dot) com and it would make my day. really!

I saw "Julie & Julia" yesterday and came out wiping away tears of hopefulness. it said to me, yes, you too could become something from blogging!


a v. nice friend has offered me another night job. watch this space for updates to see how this one goes :)

06 August 2009

this week's Roundtable (06/08)

the theme from "Rocky" welcomed the journo heavyweights on this week's roundtable...Andrew Harrison and Mark Sutherland (former EIC of Melody Maker and now London bureau chief of Billboard) - funnily enough both acted as editors for Lammo at one time or another ! - and Keith Cameron, who is a journo too but I've never heard of.

1. Muse - "The Uprising" - I'm having a real problem with Muse's new stuff. I was never a big fan of theirs - and just imagine my surprise seeing their "Supermassive Black Hole" video as a throwback on MTV2 earlier this week. this song is better than the Indian/Queen rip-off of United States of Eurasia. Cameron says Muse is the new a-ha. discuss!

2. Speech Debelle - "Spinnin'" - not my speed but they seemed to like it.

3. Radiohead - "Harry Patch" - so if you haven't heard, Thom Yorke and co. worked on this single (and I believe an album?) to dedicate to the memory of the late last surviving British man to have served in WWI. I know I will get caned for this but I never understood why everyone went completely mental for Radiohead years ago - I'm not a fan of Thom's voice, and I don't think their songs are all that great. but I have to say that it's v. touching that they're donating all proceeds to the sales of this single to a charity.

4. Duck Sauce - "Anyway" - the band name alone is really humourous.

5. Yo La Tengo - LMAO this sounds just like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. ?!?!?

6. Maps - I Dream of Crystals - I like this. I think I will go see them in October. yes.

7. Simian Mobile Disco's album including "Bad Blood" - my friend Phil said he likes their new album. I wasn't sure until I tuned in today. these tracks sound great. hey guess what? dance music is sexy again!

in the process of cleaning my office, I missed who won, but I imagine it was Radiohead.

Elbow room

I remember the day when I was finally converted to the religion of Elbow. you know, that time-honoured belief system led by guru Guy Garvey. I'd heard the most luscious love song ever - "One Day Like This" :

drinking in the morning sun
blinking in the morning sun
shaking off the heavy one
heavy like a loaded gun

what made me behave that way?
using words I never say
I can only think it must be love
oh, anyway...
it's looking like a beautiful day...

you must not be human if that doesn't move you. not to mention the orchestration behind the lyrics, whew!

so when I read that Elbow were coming to D.C. to do one of their only two headlining gigs in America this year (the other date being in Los Angeles; they have since added an Atlanta date this coming Saturday, 8 August), I knew I just had to be there.

I also schemed such that I would head down to the club directly from work (via D.C.'s lumbering mass transit system to avoid figuring out where to put my car downtown where it wouldn't get hit or stolen) and queue up early. this was rather farcical, because I arrived promptly as I expected, around 5 PM (a good two hours before the doors would open, and another 4 1/2 until Elbow would take the stage) and not one soul was there. good, I thought.

oddly, three city policemen were standing right in front of the venue. I wondered how long I was going to have to wait by myself. two girls went up to the box office and were turned away b/c the show had sold out. I suggested they come back later b/c there are always people walking around outside the 9:30 before the doors open, trying to sell their tickets to other fans at face value. (note: my only gripe with English venues: touts run rampant outside every gig - at least I've seen them at all the ones I've been to. scruffy blokes have tried to chat me up either to sell tickets at inflated prices - "d'you need a ticket for tonight's show, luv?" - or they want to buy them cheaply off you in order to turn around and tout it to someone else - "anybody got tickets they want to sell?") I hope the girls did come back and were able to get in.

15 minutes later, a couple who had driven down from Philadelphia (the girl being a fellow music blogger!) arrived. we chatted a long time. we also stood next to the front door and I could hear them soundchecking for "Starlings" (the trumpets!), "One Day Like This", and "Grounds for Divorce". they sounded great many, many feet away and through glass, so I could only imagine what they'd sound like a couple feet away when I'd be standing at the barrier.

this gig also marks the first time I've ever been first in line at a gig.

then around 6 PM, the girl's boyfriend walked over from where we were standing - next to the box office/will call window. I had no idea why he'd walked over there...but it turns out it was b/c he recognised the figure of Guy Garvey, who had just come out of the front door of the venue and was looking for the band's tourbus. I'd seen it earlier, parked on the side street next to the venue. but poor Guy, he looked lost b/c he was probably thinking, where did it go, I JUST saw it!

so the girl said, "I think that's Guy Garvey, I'll save your spot, go over there and talk to him!" so I did. I was a nervous wreck. I am always this way around people who make music I adore. I hope one of these days I'll become the cool as a cucumber that one of my good friends is ALWAYS around rock stars, but the truth of the matter is, the level of respect I have for musicians/singers/songwriters is so high, I have difficulty rationalising that they might actually be normal, nice people. for everyone I've met so far, that's been the case. so what am I worrying about?

I'm really not sure how I got words out of my mouth, but it basically consisted of me telling him I was covering the event for our American music blog and going to do a write-up (he thanked me for that, that was so cute!). then we started talking about Stuart Maconie and Manchester (he said, "you know Stuart Maconie too? he's a good man, he is...") and then I said I was so glad that they came back to D.C. b/c I missed the show in April 2008 b/c I was ill with the flu. they'd played the Sixth and I Synagogue, a tiny venue with awesome acoustics but where no acts are allowed to curse. (seriously.) I also added, "I'll look out for Elaine the singer, I listened in on your Finest Hour show on Sunday!" and he just beamed, I think he was so happy that an American listened to his 6music programme. (if I get a sideways mention in his show this week, I will die.) he is just one big, adorable teddy bear. in all, v. exciting event in my life.

this incident was even detailed on 6music yesterday by Steve Lamacq for his National Anthem feature - have a listen, when he played one of my favourite songs in addition to telling everyone in the UK what had happened to me. I seriously need to give that man a lifetime supply of pints.

the review is done, I finished it last night - I'll add the link to the featured item at Popwreckoning later today when it posts, so watch this space!

02 August 2009

pour les feux amicaux

after some nail-biting wondering if I was going to be granted leave time off (which eventually it was, only last week) it is now only 10 days to my and my friend Jenny's Big Apple adventure. and we are going specifically to see Friendly Fires twice, in two small venues: le poisson rouge (translation: "the red fish") in Greenwich Village on the 12th and Music City of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on the 13th.

as noted in the previous entry, the support for the LPR show is local NYC band the Phenomenal Handclap Band. I've just learned that the Music City of W'burg show will feature Londoners the XX, another XL band, as the opener, and the show is completely sold out. thankfully, we have our tickets in hand - I wasn't going to risk chancing getting there and not having a ticket or press pass.

"to be perfectly honest" (to borrow a oft-spoken phrase of someone I know :) I am really worried about getting close to the front for these shows. being 5'2", I don't have much choice when it comes to going to a gig. it's either 1) get there to queue up super early to get a spot in the front or 2) if there is a balcony, relegate oneself to the balcony. otherwise, forget about seeing a thing, you won't be able to. this is what happened when I went to see Lykke Li at the Black Cat last October on a Sunday night. I saw the flurry of her arms waving about when she was hitting the high hat with a borrowed drum stick, but not much else.

I remember now with fondness what Edd and Ed of the Fires said to me when I said I had to run like the wind to make sure I got a good spot to see Patrick Wolf at Nottingham's Rock City. "Don't worry, you'll be fine." they were probably amused hearing that this American girl was so stressed out about attending a gig. I didn't think they'd be right when I got into the venue, b/c it was packed. but with a bit of gentle pushing and a blanket of "pardon me"s and "excuse me"s, I was let up front.

somehow, I don't think this is going to be the case in New York. LPR sounds to be the more likeable of the two venues b/c it's MUCH smaller; however, there's a wrinkle that there is an early show starring a jam band called Rudder on the 12th and I have no idea how the queue situation is going to work. I am even toying with the idea of buying a ticket to the Rudder show just get IN the place early. now that I've learned the W'burg gig is sold out, this makes me even more nervous. I've heard it's like the 9:30 Club in set up. I really do not want to be up in the balcony for a show I've traveled hundreds of miles for. either way, we're going to be queueing up long and early.

crazy? I dunno. I've been to some gigs where the people were absolutely mental. FF is starting to get a healthy industry buzz and therefore this show is defo going to be different than the first time I saw them, on the stage I know and love at the Black Cat, where the number of actual people who know and love the music outnumber hipsters considerably. I like the idea of being up front and being able to say hello to the bands before and after they perform...which is what these intimate venues are supposed to provide. I just dunno if the number of annoying "entitled" people like at the Paolo Nutini gig 2 weeks ago are going to ruin my night. I don't ask for much - I just ask the people at both shows are respectful and courteous to the other club patrons like I am to everyone else. is that too much to ask?

I have an announcement!

well, I have several, actually. some of them I just haven't had the time to post about until now. for my sanity, I'll put them in chronologic order:


1. in June I posted a letter to one of my music journo heroes, Stuart Maconie (he of 6music's Sunday programme "Freak Zone" and the copresenter of Radio2's nightly programme "Radcliffe and Maconie") . he's always been a bit of a living legend in my and my friends' eyes b/c he has interviewed Morrissey more times you can shake a stick at and, from all appearances, has somehow maintained a confidence and kinship with the man. I stuck an international reply coupon and an SASE in with my letter, thinking that if he'd have time, he'd post me a promo picture of Mark and himself or something equally nonpersonal.

so on the second week of July, I come home from a long day's work and see in my pile of mail an envelope with this in the upper right hand corner:

I bit my lip as I opened the envelope and revealed a letter Stuart himself had typed out on A4 paper using MS Word. I won't bore you with the details, but the end of the letter (right before his signature in black Sharpie) was this:

Do what you love is my advice. And take care of yourself


the man must receive bags upon bags of mail every day from his devoted legions of fans around the UK alone, not to mention anyone outside of the UK's borders who might fancy a listen to one of his shows. and he chose to write to me. I am v. grateful.

2. interestingly, there is a sideways connection between what Stuart Mac wrote me in his letter and Ed Mac of Friendly Fires. the day Stu wrote me was the day the Phenomenal Handclap Band was scheduled to come in for a live session for Radcliffe/Maconie. as usual, I tuned in that night, not knowing that it was the v. same day Stuart was going to write a letter to me. I knew nothing about the PHB until that morning of their session, when I opened an email from the le poisson rouge mailing list - where I'm seeing the Fires on the 12th - and I see the PHB is their support act.

I dunno about you, but I find the timing of both the email and when the band were visiting the Oxford Road BBC Manchester studios, ALONG WITH the choice of opening act must be more than a coincidence! I even dashed off a reply to Stuart with what had happened - this time no IRC and SASE, b/c I figured he didn't need to be bothered further! - but I thought he might be amused with this startling set of events.

at any rate, the PHB's live session with Mark and Stu was phenomenal (no pun intended) so I am looking forward to photographing and seeing them live in 10 days. eep!

3. my Paolo Nutini/Matt Hires/Erin McCarley gig report was made a featured item at Popwreckoning. you can read it here. I wasn't too impressed with Paolo (I think he may have just been a little pissed before coming onstage) but I really enjoyed Matt and Erin's sets and would have been happy if it'd just been the two of them.

Erin McCarley with her purty acoustic

that was the third time I'd been at the 9:30 this year and definitely the worst experience of the three. Doves had been sold out, yet tall guys let me stand in front of them on the balcony. the Camera Obscura crowd was filled with relatively mellow people - just like their music - and I never once felt threatened. fast forward a month to the Paolo Nutini show. let's just say that there were totally rabid fans from age 16 to age 50 and they screamed equally as loudly and passionately for Paolo, and the older set grated on my nerves for their "I'm allowed to be a b*tch and treat you like crap" sense of entitlement. when I went to go get my press pass - which was an ordeal in itself that I don't want to relive by typing it out here - one of these women shouted at the guy at the window that Paolo's tour manager had said she could go in before everyone else, because "I have to be in the front."

lady, unless you're his mum, you line up with the rest of us. end of story.

I do not have a problem with REAL fans lining up early and taking up the front spots b/c I'd rather have a real fan in front than a posturing industry type or someone who's shoved their way to the front from the back. we're all fans and we're in this together - be kind to your fellow fan.

4. bands have been making fall tour announcements left and right. some of the blast from the past notables:

Pearl Jam
Manic Street Preachers
Muse (touring w/ U2)
Leonard Cohen

5. good lord this has gotten long. will be back in a mo' with another post to finish up...