Posts Tagged 'The Knitting Factory'

Pop Fest and the Return of Saturday Looks Good to Me (with New Songs!)

Saturday Looks Good to Me + Wild Moccasins + Cola Jet Set – May 18th – The Knitting Factory

Last Friday I caught some super fun acts during the second night of Pop Fest. After listening to Orca Team all week, I was bummed to miss them. (They were apparently ahead of schedule at the Knitting Factory – what?) But I did see almost all of Cola Jet Set.

Cola Jet Set (photo courtesy of artist)

Hailing from Barcelona, Cola Jet Set predominantly make music in their home tongue, but I don’t have to dip into my high school Spanish much to know that their songs are infectious and upbeat. According to the group’s website: “their mix of surf, disco, punk, bubblegum and a lot of pop meld into an explosive cocktail that makes this disc more commonly prescribed than Aspirin” and though this is clearly the work of publicists, I have to say it’s a fantastic line and an apt descriptor of their sound.

Hear a couple of songs from Cola Jet Set:

But of course the big moment of the evening was the return of Saturday Looks Good to Me. I’ve listened to the band a lot over the years, but due to their retirement in 2008, I never had a chance to see them play until last week.

an old Saturday Looks Good to Me photo – they’re not that grumpy! (Doug Coombe)

Though they are clearly pros at crafting and performing distilled pop music, Saturday Looks Good to Me seemed genuinely excited to be on stage. Everywhere I looked there were big smiles, onstage and off. “How does it sound out there? Like 2004?” singer/guitarist Fred Thomas joked after a few songs. We had waited a long time for this.

“The last show we played in the United States before we stopped doing this was actually at the Knitting Factory downtown, or where the fuck Financial District, and it was weird. It was a little bit different than tonight.” singer/guitarist Fred Thomas revealed at one point to cheers.

Of course SLGTM played a number of old favorites (“Meet Me by the Water,” “The Girl is Distracted,” and “Alcohol”), but they also played a number of new ones from their upcoming album, to be released this fall.

Here’s a new one for you to hear. It’s called “Invisible Friend”

And of course, here’s “Alcohol”

A delightful show, full of crowd surfing on the part of many band members. Welcome back, guys.

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One more before Austin

Rural Alberta Advantage + Pepper Rabbit + The Loom – The Knitting Factory – 3/13/11

The crowd was a bit sparse when The Loom stepped on stage, but the early arrivers were well-rewarded for their punctuality. At six members strong (twice as many as either of the two subsequent bands), The Loom are quite powerful in a live setting. Over the course of their set, the French horn, trumpet, ukulele, and banjo would all make an appearance, in addition to the standard fare. If unraveled, each instrument would no doubt hold it own, but together they create a rich tapestry of sound.

The Loom's French horn

The Loom is rooted in the folk tradition, but unlike many of their contemporaries, their sound is as hushed as it is intense – an achievement in a genre that tends to skew either distinctly mellow (Noah and the Whale) or more rambunctious (Mumford & Sons) in its presentation. Graceful yet powerful, The Loom personifies both the lion and the lamb of March, and the play with an intensity as if they are determined to break into spring.

The Loom’s “Song for the Winter Sun:”

Up next was one of my favorite acts from CMJ last year, Pepper Rabbit. After quickly warming up with a Spoon riff on the keyboard, they kicked off their set with a bit of a slower tune before picking up the ukulele and diving into a more upbeat cadence with delightfully buoyant vocals. Though they numbered only three, the group managed to juggle an impressive number of instruments, which they effortlessly looped together.

Pepper Rabbit (photo courtesy of artist)

By the time The Rural Alberta Advantage began to play, the Knitting Factory was packed. With their well-crafted songs and quick pace on the guitar, the band easily matched the energy level in the room, while managing to project a warm and relaxed tone. Amy Cole paced the stage in stockinged feet when not at the keyboard, contributing both vocals and grace when needed. “We played this new material for the first time in January,” she admitted early into the set. “But we’ve now played it through four times, so we’re more seasoned.” Between songs, lead singer/guitarist Nils Edenloff often opened up to the audience and revealed the childhood memories (“old man Barnes”) or major events (the tornado of ‘87) that helped shape the band’s songs.

After delving into a series of more mellow songs, mid-set, The Rural Alberta Advantage signed off with a strong four-song encore.

Another win for New York (suck it, LA)

Warpaint, Beach Fossils, Mini Mansions – Knitting Factory – June 15th

When I opened the door to the show area at the Knitting Factory, I was immediately bombarded by a blast of sound. Quite the change from Sunday night’s gentle percussion and airy vocals. Drums definitely seemed to be the focal point for Mini Mansions, the first openers of the evening. Interestingly, neither the guitarist nor the keyboardist/main vocalist are in the spotlight. Nope. The drummer proudly assumes the position at center stage.

Mini Mansions

It’s easy to rag on Mini Mansions, but I suppose they really weren’t so bad… at least not when they make it through songs. In a cringe-worthy few minutes early into the set, they took a lengthy break between songs without looking to banter to help fill the dead air. Shortly after they finally started playing again, they stopped abruptly and the guitar player ran off stage. At one point, the audience even got thanked for “sticking through it.” Yikes.

One unexpected highlight during their short set, however, came when they started playing a cover – Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” The tempo was definitely slower, and it was weird hearing male vocals, but it was kind of fun.

Beach Fossils

Luckily, Beach Fossils were up next. Full disclosure: I’ve seen Beach Fossils on countless line-ups around the New York, but until last night I had somehow never seen them play. The bar was set fairly high. In addition to all the talk, I witnessed a charming run-in between a teenage boy and the Dustin Payseur, Beach Fossils’ lead singer, before the show when I was buying my ticket. The kid, after initially expressing his interest in the band, turned to Payseur, saying excitedly, “We’re totally here to see you! Not the other band.”

Despite the fact that I was blinded by spotlights during the first few songs in their set, Beach Fossils did not disappoint. The Brooklyn group lifts the best parts of recent sonic trends without getting too bogged down in one thing. They’re not too sleepy, psychedelic, or twee. Instead, they occupy a pleasant middle ground.

Warpaint

Up until this point, the evening had been pretty testosterone-heavy, making Warpaint a welcome change of pace. The four female members started going crazy as soon as they walked on stage, dancing and jumping around wildly to the house music. As they got ready to play, one of the guitarists leaned into the mic, saying, I’m all out of breath. That really gets your adrenaline going, dancing. Indeed.

With their utterly unrestrained dance moves and their rich, sultry vocals, the LA 4-piece was almost animalistic in their appeal – especially when they traded in lyrics in favor of guttural sounds. But the thing about Warpaint is that these ladies also know how to slow things down. Their repertoire is not stocked simply with frenzied dance songs. Last night, they also played a string of slower songs, including the lovely “Billie Holiday,” which lifts the chorus to “My Guy.”

But for their last song, they got back to business. OK! This is your last chance to dance! yelled one member. Then, following the usual thank you’s, some big news came at the conclusion of Warpaint’s set when one of the band members revealed to the sold-out crowd that they’d be leaving LA and moving to New York next year. Sweet.