Skidmore is becoming one of my favorite places to catch a show. They budget for bigger acts and put on a great show without stacking the bill too high. Two acts, with a brief segue from one into the other is really all you need sometimes. Shows with two artists hold my ever-shrinking attention span well, and a smaller line-up allows the artists to perform for longer, instead of allowing their set time to rush them. Also, shows at Skidmore have this awkward homecoming dance quality to them, in the best way, where you can detach and sit in the bleachers if you’d like, or join the crowd in front of the stage.
Le Poisson Rouge is not a punk club. Not that it avoids heavier music entirely – the West Village venue’s upcoming events calendar features appearances by Rorschach and Converge, among others. But the club hosts a wide range of live performance, from indie shows (another one coming up: the Clean and Times New Viking) to poetry readings to contemporary classical music, and its owners don’t want it trashed and spray-painted into a hardcore dive. So, perhaps, it felt a little odd to see Tragedy last Saturday evening in a concert hall where the bouncers wore white shirts with neckties, or one with a VIP bottle-service section at the back of the room.
But think about it a little more, and it makes perfect sense. Tragedy have done well for themselves by crafting an aura of mystery. The Portland band maintains little to no internet presence while quietly self-releasing their records – four LPs over the past decade, with a smattering of singles to tide fans over. Six years have passed between their latest album Darker Days Ahead and the one before it; a few friends remarked that they had no idea it had even come out until they saw copies on the merch table in the foyer. They garner attention from highbrow metal magazines like Decibel; given their recent interest in the punk middleground, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them covered in Spin. And they also don’t play out very often – every tour announcement stirs up rumors that this one will be their last.
Tragedy appear tonight upstairs at Valentines with Born Low, Neutron Rats, and Maggot Brain. 17 New Scotland Avenue, Albany. 8:00 PM, $10.
Check out the rest of the review beneath the cut!
Tickets for Kraftwerk’s eight-night retrospective sold out almost as soon as they were announced. Why wouldn’t they? Eight nights, eight albums, one a night: a chronological showcase of their entire electronic period. I knew about it, but entertained no dreams of attending. I wasn’t fast enough; besides, I was broke. But a friend won a pair of tickets to last night’s show; when he offered me one, I couldn’t refuse. That would be beyond rude. It would be insane.
We arrived early at the Marron Atrium of the Museum of Modern Art, normally home to travelling exhibits. Each concertgoer received a seven-inch by seven-inch program providing a brief biography of Kraftwerk and explaining their influence. (Suffice it to say that contemporary music owes them a lot.) My companion and I also each got a pair of 3-D glasses in a sleeve specific to that night’s performance: 1977’s Trans-Europe Express. As crowds filtered in, we surveyed the merchandise table, where one could buy limited CD box sets and coffee table books on the group’s history. Around me I heard the clipped sounds of German from both event staff (the residency is sponsored by Volkswagen) and from guests. It felt … comforting. This was the right place to see them.
At precisely 8:30 PM, the lights dimmed as a series of booms emanated from the speakers. Black and white pixilated figures danced on the screen hung before the stage. I slipped the 3-D glasses over my own and shut up. Suddenly, a Vocoder-distorted voice spilt the air: a railroad station departure announcement. The curtain dropped. Kraftwerk launched into “Trans-Europe Express.” The crowd erupted into cheers.
14 bands took to the stage to help ring in WCDB’s 34th anniversary as a station, providing party-goers and WCDB’ers with two packed days of live music.
It was great to see Valentine’s dressed up for the occasion with balloons and streamers everywhere and more importantly, bursting at its seams with attendees. Special shouts to those who wore birthday hats in celebration of the station’s 34th “WCDBirthday”.
The weekend’s line-up consisted of Barons in the Attic (with the festival being the official release of their new album Turn it Off and Take Out the Battery), Avi Buffalo, The Parlor, Hanslick Rebellion, Around the World and Back, Slaughterhouse Chorus, if Madrid, Secret Release, Ramblin’ Jug Stompers, Matthew Carefully, The Neighborhoods, Brian Dewan, Sgt Dunbar and Titus Andronicus. Wow.
In addition to being rewarded with experiencing excellent music, there was also what seemed like a raffle prize given away on the hour, if not more, and plenty walked home with vinyl and WCDB merch. Thanks to Nicole and WCDB for organizing chaos under one roof this past weekend.
Be sure to keep the merriment going all year long and check out the station; you might even become a regular listener afterall. You can view the schedule on their website and lock in via iTunes or radio dial 90.9FM.
More photos beneath the jump courtesy of WCDB’s Leon Ferri. Thanks Leon!