Scene and Heard


By Jen Carlson

I last left you with an interview of Aaron Dessner of The National, whose show I caught at Webster Hall on May 21st. Someone once told me if you put your ear to a pint glass you’ll hear The National, but do yourself one better and see them live. They have a way of tugging at my heartstrings while simultaneously inspiring me to drink whiskey on a barstool reading a Bukowski novel.

And have I ever talked about Wolfmother here? This band is an amazing mixture of music that shaped my tastes when I was younger. My dad was/is a huge Led Zeppelin fan; my brother a huge Black Sabbath and Styxx fan. This band has all of those sounds mixed up and modernized with a little bit of Jack White and a lot of originality and good song writing. After counting down the days to their New York show on June 3rd, there I was…standing in front of Webster Hall as a large group of sweaty, smiling people flooded out of the venue. I had missed the show, though it was only 9:45 pm on a Saturday night. Even for Webster Hall this seemed way too early. But the venue doubles as a very annoying, cheesy, expensive club, and on weekends, they open around 10pm and all shows have to be over at that point. Bridge and Tunnel: 1, Jen Carlson: 0.

Just this past Sunday, June 4th, I headed to Bowery Ballroom to see Tapes ’n Tapes, The Figurines and Cold War Kids. Concert timing was apparently not my thing this weekend, as I missed the two openers. Two openers that I was actually looking more forward to than the headliner. I stayed though, because Tapes ‘n Tapes is a good band… in the studio. Live, they have yet to impress me. I saw them at Rothko months ago, and at SXSW this past March. Both times I was left with an “eh” feeling about the show, but I always heard just enough Violent Femmes in them to keep me interested. This Sunday they went from being a rough around the edges, messy version of themselves to an overly polished buzz band who has lost whatever hope they had of being good.

But Downtown New York is a revolving door for buzz bands, so coming up in the next few weeks there will be plenty more.

Thursday June 8th, there is only one place to be: Northsix. Yes, it’s in Brooklyn, but Joan Jett AND the Blackhearts are playing. So take the L train and relearn the lyrics to “I Love Rock ‘n Roll.”

Friday night, June 9th, Bowery Ballroom has a triple-threat bill with The Spinto Band, Dr. Dog and The Lovely Feathers. The Spinto Band has that “Oh Mandy” song you may or may not have heard in a Sears commercial recently: it’s catchy – very catchy. Dr. Dog has been on every good bill I’ve seen in the past year – and I think this time I’ll actually check them out before they play Webster Hall, and I miss their show because that venue shuts down too early! The Lovely Feathers are grandiose post punk. They’re fast, eccentric…and Canadian.

Cat Power plays Town Hall the same night. The question remains: will she or won’t she show up? Notorious as of late for cancelling her shows, let’s hope she does play this venue. It’s acoustics are perfect for Chan Marshall’s voice – the two need to come together, and soon.

On June 13th Sonic Youth plays CBGB’s. Tickets sold out in a hot second. This is another good example of a venue/band match made in heaven. Or wherever a Downtown rock club and Sonic Youth would end up. On that same night I will be at Radiohead. I’m pretty sure the next column you read here will be all about that one show. They are my desert island band. In fact, even on this island they are pretty much all I listen to.