Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mono, Worlds End Girlfriend & Grails - Live @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC

So, it took me a few days to get around to reporting this, but the Mono show last Thrusday night was incredible. I went with my friend Mark, who has an appreciation for experimental music. We met in Union Square, grabbed some pizza and drank some Dos Equis before heading down to the Bowery Ballroom. I managed to be practically assaulted by homeless people the whole way down Bowery. One sorry ass looking white schmuck asked for money 3 times while we ate our pizza. So rude. He looked like shit and had an aura of gloom around him. Needless to say I didnt give him a penny. Then this black guy comes up. We had finished our pizza, and he was smiling and happy and asked if he could tell us some jokes. Seeing that he was gonna tell them anyway, we obliged and he told us a few funny black/ white jokes that got a few chuckles. The one I remember was, "Whats twelve inches and white?". Me: "Ummm, what?". Him: "NOTHING!!" hahaha!! I shoulda said John Holmes. He puts brothers to shame. hahha!!! Anyway, I am actually quite the charitable motherfucker, especially for a laugh, so I gave him a buck. White schlep was still on the corner and saw this, after his three attempts to wrangle money from us, and he protested that we should give money to white people, not black people. "We have to stick together man!" I shoulda walked up and shinned him, but I was just happy I didnt even give a damn to him. Racist motherfuckers. Then a few blocks down Bowery another black guy asked me if I like Steely Dan or Stevie Wonder more. Hahaha!! I said, "How can you choose?" and he proceeded to sing me a medley of Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder. The suprising thing was he did Steely Dan far better. Anyway, more amusement, another buck. My charity was stretched to the limite and it was time to get charitable to my ears and belly, so we sauntered over to the Ballroom and ordered some Brooklyn Lagers and I went to check out the merch table.

Time for another paragraph here, lest the compositionally faithful have a fit. So, I went intending to buy the new Grails 2xLP, which I did. It is an amazing album and the 4th side was etched with this trippy floral artwork (I'm a sucker for small details). I then decided on a purchase of a very nice looking grey Mono shirt with a light blue graphic of what looks like Mt. Fuji exploding. 10 bucks, not bad. So we then got ourselves the choicest seat in the house, right up on the balcony overlooking the stage. Bowery Ballroom is my favorite place to see a show. The sound is great, they have 3 bars, Brooklyn Lager on tap, and a very comfy cozy feel. You feel really connected to the bands when they play at Bowery. I have seen Lifetime, Do Make Say Think, Chavez, Sea and Cake, Explosions in the Sky and a few others there and it has always been amazing.

On to the show.... Grails was up first. They played an incredible set of pretty much all new songs from Burning Off Impurities. I had heard one of you say that Grails was a good listening band, but a bad live act. I will have to disagree as they completely transfixed the audience with their Space-Rock Spaghetti Eastern music. That was the term Mark and I came up with as we watched. Like Ennio Morricone shot to the moon on a lysergic Chinese rocket. My only complaint was that they only played for 45 minutes, but it was an amazing 45 minutes if I must say. Always good to leave the audience wanting more. Their bass player was also incredible as was their drummer. They locked into some serious grooves and the 12 string guitars sounded impeccable. I think one of the fun things about watching them was seeing how they reproduced all the sounds they use. I could really tell you exactly how other than it was lots of reverb and effects pedals.

Worlds End Girlfriend was the next to play. Despite thinking that Katsuhiko Maeda's music is wonderful and unique, I had reservations about watching a one man, mostly-digital act. I had recently reported on seeing Eluvium with Explosions in the Sky, and while the sounds were nice, watching it was nothing to really rave about. My assumptions were correct, as Maeda sat in a chair playing a guitar and writhing back and forth and triggering all sorts of effect on a laptop and a few other pieces of equipment. I didnt recognize any of the tunes, though I think he played alot of stuff from The Lie Lay Land. Great music, boring to watch. I did get one good picture that translates pretty well what the music reminded me of. So for that I am glad.

Mono was the headlining band, and the band that everyone seems most excited about. A number of you had told me how amazing they were live and I have read many account of their incredible live presence. Well, they were really something. They came out very quietly and proceeded to melt faces and hearts throughout the whole room. They rocked, they jammed, they ruled. The bassist looked very pretty in her red floral dress, and their drummer was amazing. At one quiet drumless section he laid his head down on the drums and looked as if he had died there, only to reawake as the song built to a climax. It was really something else, and I am kind of at a loss for words on how to describe the experience. It really was something to behold and I strongly urge you all to check out Mono whenst you can. Their setlist seemed to cover most of You Are There and some of Walking Cloud... They didnt touch One More Step, but that was okay because every note they played was so perfect that I couldnt have asked for any more. They finished explosively and left without an encore. As it was in the Explosions in the Sky show, I felt thankful for this, for to play another song wouldve undermined the climax that they had come too. Wonderful.

Mark is converted into a Mono and Worlds End Girlfriend fan now, and I have a new appreciation for Mono myself. The Flames Beyond the Cold Mountain is now a top song on my list of trancendental songs. I also have a cool new Mono shirt.

All pics by me, a non-professional photographer, so apologies for the lack of quality or creativity in the shots. I kept forgetting to take pictures cuz I was so into watching and rocking back and forth in my seat spilling beer all over my self. The videos were also taken with the same camera, so that accounts for the shitty sound quality and bad resolution, but they are kind of cool anyway, even though they are short and you cant hear the whole song. Next time I will bring my video camera and get a full set. I wish I had that for you now...


Anonymous holomovement said...

Great entry man. I agree completely with your comment on Grails and World's End Girlfriend. I really dig Grail's dual-percussionist set-up. I took some pictures back when they were playing in Houston. Here's the link if you are interested.

btw, that picture with Tamaki's (mono's bassist) shadow casting in the background is really cool.

9:40 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

isnt that great? i caught someone elses flash at the perfect moment. you can see the guy taking the pic...perfect timing.

thanks for the positive feedback. and for the link to your pics...

10:40 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

by the way. those are great fotos you took...props to you.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah man, I saw them on this same tour but at CMU in Pittsburgh. Fucking radical show. Good choice in shirts, too: I picked up the same one you mentioned with the explosion, although its the bomb at Hiroshima and not Mt. Fuji.

2:54 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

oh. haha! i mean, oh!

awesome shirt though....

6:18 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Uhm. I had Negro Modelo at the pizza place, not dos equis. Your accuracy as a reporter is somewhat suspect ... though I can't find a fault with the description of the concert.

I was converted. Hallelujah. I didn't even miss lyrics. They spoke volumes with there notes, chords, warbles, and other assorted sounds.

Though I liked the grails better than world's end girlfriend ... I was impressed by the drummer doing a great job on the 12 string too. Multi-intrumental talent is always impressive.

Mono definitely took advantage of their long set to orchestrate a nice build to a great musical peak. Definitely want to see and hear more.

10:58 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

leave it to you to nit pick insignificant details...i am not concerned with my accuracy as a reporter, only to illustrate ideas and feelings...the particular feeling being, "I like Dos Equis"

but i am glad you enjoyed the was quite an event....

we will have to go see Tortoise in July...that will be awesome too...

8:31 AM  
Anonymous tyty said...

despite the video's quality, you did manage to get the best part of the best song they played. The Flames Beyond the Cold Mountain never gets old for me... it's one of those songs that instantly sends shivers up my spine

2:22 AM  

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