Foo Fighters / Social Distortion / The Joy Formidable @ Madison Square Garden 11.13.11

As another year of shows draws to a close, we've come into the habit of enjoying arena rock spectacles as send offs. Last year, Rammstein wowed with their fiery German ridiculousness. In 2011, the Foo Fighters and The Joy Formidable had the charge and delivered outright.

The Joy Formidable opened up the night filthy mouthed and arena-ready with a handful of their heaviest from The Big Roar. The Welsh trio seemed like they were living a dream, rocking out for thousands in a legendary venue -- and expressing their excitement with countless f-bombs in between songs. Their mini-set ended with the fantastic extended version of "Whirring" including massive distortion and  gong bangs. From what seemed the like a million miles away we enjoyed the band from our seats, dreaming of going wild, front row and center during one of their own headlining gigs.

After 45 minutes of lamenting not being more into Social Distortion's rockabilly punk tunes, we were left to survey the masses by which we were surrounded. The immensity of MSG as a full house was astounding and a bit scary, but oddly comforting to be buzzing in anticipation for the biggest rock show of our year.

The fuck all, fun attitude of the night came to fruition with three-hour long performance from the Foo Fighters that went into midnight -- past MSG's 11pm curfew. The dudes made our heads rattle most of the night with a main set of heavy gooduns initiated with "Bridge Burning" and topping it off with "All My Life." The energy in the place was insane but nothing compared to the magic Dave Grohl was putting out. When he wasn't running up and down a catwalk (and most of the main stage) shredding ass, we were treated to our chatty ringleader's famously entertaining banter. Among his many jokes and f-bombs, he advised parents to forget Rock Band and get their kids guitars to write songs like "Monkey Wrench" before ripping into the classic single.

The band made us earn a massive 7-song encore with throat killing screams. Dave Grohl came out alone with guitar in hand, elevating on a platform where he serenaded the upper sections with solo acoustic renditions of the band's softer fare "Wheels," "Best of You." Somewhere in between he challenged us to sing "Wheels" better than German fans (we lost) and vocally agreeing to bring FF to Bowery Ballroom for an epic residency in 2012 (we could only hope this is true).  The concert went straight up next level when Bob Mould joined the Foos for "Dear Rosemary" and surprise guest Joan Jett (!!!!) and the boys powered through a great rendition of "Bad Reputation" before wrapping up the rock n roll shabang with fan favorite "Everlong."

This show boasted the best of an arena rock show short of pyro and spandex -- this is no surprise due to the magnitude of the Foo Fighters' worldwide fame. However, the band accomplished a feat bigger than anything they could've done in their 17 years: make an overblown rock extravaganza simultaneously feel like intimate garage jam sesh. Rich with the analog/garage spirit of Wasting Light, the band us transported to Dave's garage where we enjoyed our pals rock out from couch that can comfortably house about 20,000 people.

Not bad for our first time seeing our (basically) lifelong loves Dave, Nate, Pat, Taylor and Christopher together. --Cheep
Photo by Dana Yavin via BrooklynVegan
For setlist, pics, video of performances with Bob Mould and Joan Jett  check out Brooklynvegan

SBTRKT and Cubic Zirconia @ Music Hall of Williamsburg 11.1.11

Aaaaaaaarooooooooon! and Sampha 
Truth be told, we get blasted into hyperspace quite often at shows. Our addiction to this feeling is what keeps us attending concerts despite ourselves. So after a night of mind-melting dance madness hosted by SBTRKT we had a change of heart: there's no use in planning to skip shows and save money next year.
Hell, we can't even sit out on an opener when planned if the music moves us.

NYC's own Cubic Zirconia's got us up off the floor and shimmying with timbale-happy disco house bangers. Once we caught wind of what was happening on stage, the sassy singer Tiombe Lockhart won our approval. Fearless and sensual, it was difficult to keep your eyes off her. She reminded us of Buraka Som Sistema's resident dancing queen Blaya but left much booty shaking to be desired. We'll chalk it up to her dress being too tight for her to get down harder than she did. Shit did get dark real quick for the last track, a rocking finale with Lockhart rightfully screaming her ass off. It was totally out of left for CZ virgins like ourselves but cool all the same.

Our own cool was lost upon catching the dynamic duo that makes up SBTRKT live set up their stations. Seeing Aaron Jerome and Sampha slay at this summer's MoMA PS1 WarmUp did little to prepare us for the craziness of a proper headlining show. A short set sandwiched between acts in broad daylight was great but there's a different quality to the energy of headlining the night and we couldn't be more psyched about the possibilities.

After a brief introduction from Mr. Jerome, the guys went head first into "Heatwave" while we plunged into insanity from the sound. The sold-out crowd moved to tricked out versions of songs from SBTRKT's out-of-this-world self titled debut. Sampha's sweet yet melancholy honey-rich voice got the best of us during "Trails of the Past" and "Something Goes Right," grooving as we wept inside. The particularly awesome Drake mix of "Wildfire" and a sick extended mix of our favorite "Pharaohs" (which they didn't play the first time we saw them) were no cause for tears but a dream come true, it was absolutely mental. Also thrown in the loop was new-to-our-ears title track from the equally euphoric Step in Shadows EP. I kicked myself after listening to this live since the EP has been sitting in my computer for weeks, untouched. Currently it's all I listen to. Snail said it's better we didn't listen to the EP before or we'd whine about how they didn't play more of it. She had a point.

All night, Aaron jumped from drums to theremin to mixers and laptop like a mad scientist, frenetically fetching the right test tubes for this surreal dance experiment he and Sampha were conducting on the audience. The result was a hallucinogenic experience that left us all crazy for more. After a stunning encore with "Never, Never" and a purchasing of the vinyl, we left on a high. Refusing to believe it was over we were forced to ask "Where's the afterparty?" To our delight they're to return for Phase II of the experiment in March and we're counting the days! --Cheep

Photo from SBTRKT's Seattle date by David Lichterman

Moonface / Talkdemonic / Tammar @ Bowery Ballroom 10.30.11

Spencer Krug and his impeccable hair
On a Mischief Night more akin to a sleepy Sunday night than the devilish eve before Halloween, Montreal's Moonface lured costumed customers away from the holiday shenanigans to Bowery Ballroom for some nice organ music fun.

Hitting the floor well after Tammar's set, we caught Talkdemonic and became instantly enamored. The Portland, Oregon instrumental duo dropped some weather appropriate electro-folk jams that reminded Snail of I See Rowboats (now sadly disbanded). While the music was enough to reel us in, the band had us completely at their unique stage presence. Witnessing our first viola rock-out courtesy of Lisa Molinaro, we wondered why other bowed string musicians didn't get down like that, too. Drummer Kevin O'Connor kept it classy, boldly jumping from stage to floor weaving through the scantily crowded audience playing a melodica.

Blame it on Sunday, the holiday, or the efficiency of Spencer Krug's unspoken strategy to revert to obscurity with this project (we'll go with the last one), the venue only grew to about half capacity by the time Moonface came on. Dimly lit with a fireplace going in the background, Spencer and his cohort, the amazing Mike Bigelow played a set similar to their previous shows at Envelope and Mercury Lounge with a few exceptions. No "Shit-Hawk in the Snow" left room for an unreleased song Spencer admitted rips off lyrics from Real Life's 80's classic "Send Me an Angel." Quite generously, we were also gifted with a very rare encore with solo Spencer doing a beautiful cover of Fine Young Cannibals' "I'm Not The Man I Used To Be".

Seemingly growing more chatty with every leg of this tour, Mr. Krug not only entertained audience shouts but indulged us with a couple of silly anecdotes. First he recounted their plan to dress up like Jim Morrison and a member of The Blue Man Grouponly to can the idea because they'd be too busy dying of laughter to play. Later, we learned about his first run in with American police on a highway all due to a driver taking a joke sign, "Mike is stuck in a Haagen Daz container, Send Help!", on the window back of the mini van too seriously.

Keeping his promise to reinvent Moonface as he goes (he's currently recording material with Finnish band Siinai for the next release), Spencer announced this would be last time we'd hear the contents of Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped played live. While its bittersweet to think we'd have to wait longer than a couple months to see him live again, after three times, it's easier to say goodbye to the old songs and hello to the next musical reincarnation of Spencer Krug.  --Cheep

Photo by Charles Steinberg via The House List

Metronomy / Class Actress / Caged Animals / True Womanhood @ Music Hall of Williamsburg 10.20.11

With CMJ madness in full swing, we came out of hiding from it for our first  Metronomy show at MOHW. On this night the British band was the epitome of light-hearted fun, adorableness and, dare I say it, quirk.

Below borderline creepy painted portraits, hometown-proud mastermind Joseph Mount and co. brought his addictive dance pop ditties to life to a sold-out crowd, the jovial energy of the studio recording amplified tenfold. Metronomy got the place pulsating, much like the bulbs on their tops, to the beat of our favorite danceables like "Heartbreaker," "Love Underlined," "The Bay" and "A Thing for Me." The main set closed with the slow simmer of "Some Written" though the night ended after a two-song encore: starting with the sweetness of "Everything Goes My Way" and ending with a massive power up via "Radio Ladio."

On the stage, we admired from afar Oscar Cash's multi-instrumental awesome (epic sax, ftw!) and drummer Anna Prior playing like a crazy, working a green sequin catsuit like we never could. As mad lovers of Metronomy's low-end, the man of the night was bassist (and impeccable dresser) Gbenga Adelekan. This dude has been grooving from the womb and the evidence is in his infallible bringing of the funk.

It would have been an absolute flawless first time if we weren't in the back with the least enthusiastic part of the audience. Luckily, Joseph announced their return is set for March and we can indulge in a dancey do-over next year. --Cheep

Photo via