By Jen Carlson

Volume 75, Number 43 | March 15 -21 2006

Scene and heard

I’m pretty sure if there was a joke that began with a member of Interpol walking in to a bar…it would be told by downtown comedian Aziz Ansari. Oddly enough, Daniel Kessler (Interpol’s guitarist) did walk in to a bar (Whiskey Ward on Essex Street to be exact) at the end of February and straight in to Aziz’s birthday party. He proceeded to walk up to the comedian and tell him that he and bassist Carlos D enjoyed the Other Music video that Ansari made — a parody of the downtown record shops’ employees (the video can be found on his site www.azizisbored.com).

Now, on to the music. With the Yeah Yeah Yeahs playing small clubs like the Bowery Ballroom and The Strokes finally hitting New York stages once again, the past few weeks in the city have felt more like 2001 than 2006.

I headed over to Bowery Ballroom last month with little hope of being blown away. The words of my friends who had caught the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (www.yeahyeahyeahs.com) at Maxwell’s the night before were circling around in my head, and their reviews were less than promising. However, once the band took the stage those words flew out of my head. They were on their home turf now, and the energy that filled the room fueled a show worthy of even the most jaded hipsters’ approval.

Earlier this month The Strokes (www. thestrokes.com) played Hammerstein Ballroom, where a surprisingly sober frontman Julian Casablancas sang to a crowd of eager fans and celebs. VIPs spotted in the roped-off balcony included Lucy Lui, Coldplay and of course, drummer Fabrizio Moretti’s girlfriend Drew Barrymore. It was good to see people dance at a show in New York. The crowd at the Yeah Yeah Yeahs show, while happy, was so still that guitarist Nick Zinner actually blogged about it.

Having been down with the flu for a majority of the past couple of weeks, I missed Belle & Sebastian (www.belleandsebastian.co.uk). Hopefully I’ll be able to make up for the lack of lo-fi rock when I’m at the South by Southwest music fest in Austin this week. But before I go, I’ll be able to catch Isobel Campbell (www.isobelcampbell.com) at Joe’s Pub on Monday the 12th. (She plays again at Southpaw in Park Slope on the 15th.) Being an ex-Belle & Sebastian member, I’ll at least get a tiny bit of what I missed when they played the Nokia Theater earlier this month.

Stereolab (www.stereolab.co.uk) plays Town Hall on March 17th. Town Hall is my second favorite venue in this city (for those who weren’t paying attention last time, Joe’s Pub is my favorite). The band just released its 18th full-length album, so even the biggest fan of their loungey, spaced-out brand of pop may not know all of the songs.

One show I would miss even if I were in town is Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins at Irving Plaza on March 18th and 19th. I love Rilo Kiley, but I caught Jenny Lewis’ solo show at the Angel Orensanz Foundation in February and was really, well, bored. She’s an amazing songstress, but the performance made me tired. That Suffolk Street venue, however, is spectacular — but not spectacular enough to keep me there for the entire show.

Of course, the real celebrators of St. Patrick’s Day and Celtic Punk will be at the Nokia Theater for The Pogues’ four-night run. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when singer Shane McGowan deejays at Southpaw after their show on the 17th. The singer of the Pogues walks in to a bar on St. Patrick’s Day…