Friday, August 21, 2009

The Bouncing Souls with Lifetime and None More Black at Webster Hall 8.20.09

The Bouncing Souls have been around for 20 years. I'm not going to pretend that I've invested as much time as their tried and true fans (they almost are older than me). I have always like The Bouncing Souls, and add to that Lifetime, a favorite band of mine, plus None More Black (who I have not seen but I have seen Paint It Black several times, more on my confusion later), a couple co-workers and I decided to catch the Souls at their 20th anniversary point at Webster Hall last night.

None More Black includes ex-Kid Dynamite lead singer Jason Chevchuk's previous band. They are not to be confused with Dan Yemin's Paint It Black (Dan is part of Lifetime AND was part of Kid Dynamite). Dan's kind of a beast; the last time I saw Paint It Black they came to Brooklyn to play a night show after playing a day show in Philly.

Anywho, None More Black immediately conjured up a lookalike familiarity. Jason looks like Dave Lieberman from Food Network's Good Deal With Dave Lieberman. The bassist looks like my co-worker Jean. The lead guitarist looks like a cross between Jack Black and Michael Pena. I figured the drummer could pass for MMA fighter Nick Diaz, but then I thought more closer to MMA fighter Joey Villasenor mixed in with Geoff from Ace of Cakes. Of course, I wasn't in the pit for this one so I wasn't super close, and when I took a look at their mugs online, I wasn't quite sure of my assumptions. Anywho, the long, headbanging hairs of the guitarist and bassist reminded me of the bassist from Unwritten Law. Good thing or bad thing?

It was NMB's first show in NYC in 3 years. The crowd was pretty tight for an opening band, and None More Black actually warmed up as they shot through their set so by the time they were done people were revved up. Great for Lifetime, I was into it though and wouldn't have minded an extra song or two from all the bands (leave it to Webster Hall to have tight curfews on certain nights, although at least it prevents the bands from taking too much time between sets). Jason's voice is really cool, he's known for his sing-along "whoa, oh oh" tendencies but he's got this funky combination of hoarse and nasal tones to his vocals that gives the songs a particularly scrappy flavor. Sure Ari from Lifetime is somewhat similar, but he sounds more like he has a cold (in a good way, don't worry I would never bad mouth them). Jason sounds like he just ate a shitload of Pop Rocks.

After getting another 5 dollar PBR (well they open the can for you, so tack on an extra 3 doll- yeah no that's terrible) we were ready to throw down in the pit for Lifetime. It wasn't as raucous as the last time I saw them probably, but by throw down I mean we prevented ourselves from getting more than a bruise or two.

The great thing about Lifetime is they have a very, very assured presence. No smiling. Deadpan. Serious thank yous. When they mention that it's great that there's no barrier set up between the stage and that the crowd should pick up the pace and get the pit going, but in a really nonchalant way, you know they know they're the shit. Calm violence? I guess that sounds creepy. It's not a pretentious thing, it's just a quiet confidence that shines through. Their music kind of acts the same way: sure they are fast and loud but not for the sake of being fast or loud. It feels more like a real form of expression than many similar bands, and their lyrics are as low key as any, direct and simple. It was great to see them again (they are playing with Bouncing Souls this weekend in their home state of Jersey).

Ole, ole ole ole. We decided to stay in the background for Bouncing Souls, but in the end I believe it would have only been right to get in the mix for at least part of their set (they played what seemed to be a short set for a 20th anniversary show). Speeding up the pace a bit, they blazed through favorites like "Hopeless Romantic" and "Fight To Live" and lead singer Greg Attonito has a wonderful lazy chanting/shouting quality that really gets the crowd moving. Even with that, there were a couple of stage divers, and I'm not sure why, but punk fans whenever they steal the mic for a bit, they are NEVER in tune. Not that it would really matter, it's the heart that counts, but still, c'mon people! Oh, and the stage diving was kept up full steam but an interesting thing happened when a man, in his wheelchair, was hoisted up and brought from all the way in the back to the front of the stage...twice. He didn't quite make it the second time, but props for him actually keeping upright on the first try.
7 full albums and 20 years is a long time to be so consistent and well received by the community. Their melodies are tried and true and is instantly accessible, there's a lightness to their songs, whether it's the fun, almost nice lyrics, or the runner's pacing that they instill, or maybe it's just the trademark button down/wacky tie combo that Greg always wears and the wife-beater scrappiness of bassist Bryan Kienlen. Who knows. They are a fun band to watch, without the machismo of snottier bands. Kind of like a real men wear pink thing. Or maybe I'm just being silly.

More thoughts to come. Or maybe not.

Update: Some great photos on Brooklyn Vegan were posted yesterday from the Tim Barry/7 Seconds second night at Webster with The Bouncing Souls. Check them out here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Winkers: An Excuse To Check Out A Woman's Behind

This idea could be bank, but with the awful graphics card and cheesy techno music (was this produced in Russia?), you're probably just going to be entranced. If you were high, it'd be even better. The lioness one is just, what do they call it, a fashion nightmare? Or something.

What idea would you come up with for Winkers? Maybe fingers pinching? Send your ideas to the contact email on the video. You can't miss it; it's there the entire time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is it Monday Yet? Football is back, and so is Brady

I love my Patriots. I know, that sounds like an asshole thing to say considering I love Brooklyn as well. I make no excuses or apologies.

ESPN's Monday Night Football commercials (and all their commercials in general) are just simply amazing and very appealing. Here is the first for the season, and it's a good one.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming season, and where will you be getting a pint and wings at on Sundays? I'll be covering more Bar Spotlights, Football Season Edition Vol. 2, in the coming weeks.

The Breeders @ Bowery Ballroom 8.18.09

"If I saw you now
Could I look in your eyes?

Do you think of me
Like I dream of you?

Do you wish you were here
Like I wish I was with you?

Youve loved me before
Do you love me now?"

Visualizing those lyrics in my head as I watched The Breeders perform "Do You Love Me Now" in the middle of their absolutely rock-out set, it rushed me to a place that I haven't felt in a long time. It was before I started listening to frenzied punk and hardcore. I started listening to The Breeders when I was about 11 or 12; I felt like I got the music even though I was a bit young. There was something I connected with in the music, maybe it was the catchy and sometimes cutesy melodies, which appealed to me as a kid. But the noisy distortion, not only on The Breeders records and lead singer Kim Deal's side band, The Amps, and sometimes slow pace (on say, Pod) made me a more patient music listener at the time. There's something about The Breeders music that I always loved, most of all the down to earth nature of their production and guitar exchanges. They are a band that has made the most out of their sound, and seemingly without effort.

Taking the stage were Kim and her sister Kelley along with the newer faces (including the drum and bass tandem of Jose Meledes and Mando Lopez, and guitarist Cheryl "from Florida" Lyndsey). They started off with the trippy "Hoverin'", an Amps song (although first recorded with The Breeders lineup) and went newer with Title TK, and then backward with cuts off of Last Splash and Pod. I personally wanted to see them play "Hellbound" and "Fortunately Gone", which tops my favorite Breeders songs, but they did play "I Am Decided" which I love. All the bigger songs got their turn, "Saints", "Cannonball", their cover of "Happiness is a Warm Gun", "Divine Hammer", "Safari". The sheer thrill of songs like "New Year" with an intense, buzzing guitar section really makes for a powerful set.

The drumming really set the pace; the band was lined up in a row (reminded me of The Locust) which really gave the band great chemistry. The banter just made the sisters more appealing, and the added bonus for the night was guest violin Carrie Bradley, who performed with the band way way back when they first started.

Kim Deal's vocals have always been sharp; she has a wonderful range of expressions, most notably her raw, heavier, smoky delivery, and a more precocious, light tone. Her harmonies with Kelley are on point and sometimes purposely and wonderfully lazy. It reflects the little guitar ditties that Kelley is in charge of, which have a lo-fi, amateurish quality to them that makes the band's sound so unique and stripped and visceral. It's positively charming.

These guys really have a muscular sound that even tops their loudest recordings. There's just a great presence on stage, a sense of wonderment and playfulness from the sisters that is very infectious and combining that with some real groovy rock music makes for a great concert. In that way, The Breeders have some of the most accessible music I've had the pleasure of hearing.

But back to where the music took me. At the peak of when I was listening to them, like most of my favorite bands, I would never get sick of it. I would never get sick of hearing Kim's angelic voice whispering cryptic lyrics. This was a time when I thought this was the only music that mattered. It's an amazing feeling that I probably could have only felt when I was that young. To get to feel that again, live, is pretty awesome.

Not be a nostalgic person; I think the Breeders have so much relevance right now. They were indie before most working bands today were, and I think that gives their music a great perspective. It means they take their influences from a different era. They are on a whole different league than most bands of today (I would attribute it to their punk roots, pop leanings, and the fact that nobody has a voice quite like Kim), and that they are still around and playing to a great crowd at the Bowery is awesome to see because it makes them relevant. After all these years, even on the newer music ("Overglazed" from their most recent full length, Mountain Battles), there's something traditional and back to basics about them. There's no bullshit, and they started from a place unaffected by current music trends which makes everything so refreshing and genuine. It's like you're not just watching another indie band, or even a rock band from the 80s and 90s. You're watching the real deal (absolutely no pun intended). They seem unassuming and then when the music kicks in, they are as assured as you can get. They are still very exciting, and I wouldn't think twice about seeing them again.

Oh and two short encores (ending with "Drivin' On 9")? Yeah they can do that.

The Breeders are playing again tonight at the Bowery Ballroom, again a sold out show.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Converge Song "Dark Horse" and back in NYC supporting Adult Swim's Mastodon/Dethklok tour

Converge is streaming a song from their latest album, Axe To Fall (out October 20th on Epitaph), called "Dark Horse" on their MySpace page. Check it out here. Also, check out the awesome artwork here on Lambgoat.

They previewed a song or two from their new album when I saw them back in March and it sounded promising but as you know, most new songs see a complete downturn in concert energy because they don't know how the story goes.

"Dark Horse" seems to take the thrashing, straight-ahead hardcore that made up a lot of No Heroes and adds, dare I say, melody to it. Like a somewhat catchy melody. There's almost a clear-cut, slight restraint to the song, using quick jabs of shouts and double kick bass, and a pulsing breakdown, then back to what sounds a little like the more metal-ish form of Strung Out on steroids.

Correct me if I'm wrong though guys and gals. It kicks ass with that unmistakable wall of sound that turns out to just be coming from Bannon's vocals.

Converge in support will probably play peanuts (let's say half hour?) unfortunately on their tour with the always awesome Mastodon and Dethklok from the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse. Also featured is High On Fire. It's a great bill fo' sho', and the tour roars into the Hammerstein Ballroom on October 30th, a great way to do up pre-Halloween, morbid style.

Monday, August 10, 2009

New Kitchen Conspirators all week on Food2 or Those Hipsters Are At It Again With Their Expensive Menu

Hi all! Last week was quite busy so I didn't get to shower you with wonderful tidbits. The friends at Food2 are doing up this week Kitchen Conspirators style, premiering a new episode every day covering their High Society party which was filmed a while back I imagine.

High Society? They'll be working off an old menu, older than "vintage" so I'm pretty excited. Considering the trend of speakeasies and going back even farther, Victorian charm here in New York over the past year and a half, it's very fitting and looks to be a pretty damn awesome menu and distinctly American which intrigues me for some reason.

This segment seems better produced than their first outing (or inning, since this whole thing is built up as pretty mysterious and exclusive). My good friend Mr. Simon has known them for a long time and says they are always up to much good, and that's a good sign. Hipsters with skills without the word "designer" in them are kind of not hipsters in my opinion; they are productive people.

Check out the first video where the gang sits with a MacBook and goes over their menu:

For more, go to

For more on hipsters and/or much of north Brooklyn, go here.

Williamsburg is getting pretty attractive from last times I went. Maybe it's not hipster anymore, but glamster?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Resident Film Critic Chris Cabin Reviews - Judd Apatown's Funny People

The opening of Judd Apatow's third film Funny People sees Adam Sandler when he was still young, making a prank phone call to a local deli. It was shot by Mr. Apatow while Sandler and he were living together in LA and though it is a real video that pre-dates Sandler's salad days on SNL, it is also meant to be a video tape of George Simmons, the absurdly wealthy comedy kingpin Mr. Sandler plays in Apatow's latest two-hour-plus comedy.

Unlike the protagonist of Apatow's last two films, it is not maturity that is weighing on George but rather mortality; though, it could be argued that the latter informed the hesitancy towards the former. George has recently been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and has taken on an experimental regiment to attempt to beat it. A box-office tyrant, George has starred in such films as Merman, My Best Friend is a Robot and Re-Do, in which a wizard turns him into a baby with the brain and face of an adult; he shows nothing but disdain for all his films as he contemplates oblivion.

George exists in a dream world where comedians are so rich they don't even have to bother with being funny. Ira (Seth Rogen) has just begun a hopeful ascent to such a world. After working days at a deli counter, Ira goes home and writes stand-up material with roommates Leo (the invaluable Jonah Hill) and Mark (Jason Schwartzman) that he hopefully gets to peddle at the legendary Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach.

Here, Apatow sets up an immediately intriguing dynamic. Mark acts in a cheesy sitcom called Yo Teach! and makes more money in a week than Ira makes in a year; Leo gets more notoriety at the clubs and is a more popular performer in general. Apatow never attempt to justify why Leo and Mark are more successful than Ira past the fact that Mark knows how to sell himself and Leo is, quite simply, funnier than him at this specific interval. It gives both Ira and his struggles (on and off-stage) more definition.

After a grimly narcissistic set at the club, George asks both Ira and Leo to come write jokes for him. Feeling he's owed one, Ira takes the job for himself and neither Rogen nor Apatow slink away from the cordial backstabbing that many Hollywood careers are based on. Soon enough, Ira is writing for George and becoming his sole confidant, pressuring him to make peace with family, friends and colleagues before it's too late. "I think I played it all wrong" says George before he is informed by his Swedish doctor (Torsten Voges) that the leukemia has apparently been cleared from his system.

Life as he knew it can now continue but, after seeing death, George wants a crack at the normal life. This is where Laura (Leslie Mann, the off-screen Mrs. Apatow) comes in with her high-pitched voice and waves of dirty-blonde hair; "the one who got away" as George puts it. Now married to an Australian businessman (Eric Bana) with two kids (played by Apatow and Mann's daughters, Iris and Maude), Laura divulged that she still was in love with George when she found out he was dying. His rebirth seems the perfect platform for them to reunite, with Ira playing chaperone.

Like any celebrity, George wants for a normal life but never stops to think if he's capable of one. For him, death was his one brutal glance at the one thing that all humans, private jet or not, have to face eventually. He regresses in character to who he was before fame but when it comes surging back into his bloodstream, he can't ignore his given nature. Ira cries when Laura puts on a tape of her daughter singing "Memory" from the Broadway show CATS but all George can do is look at updates for a possible sequel to Re-Do and remark how his druggie friends might get a kick out of the "Memory performance. He is an entertainer and cannot help but see the funny side of things; he is not programmed naturally for compassion. The populous is the only thing he could ever commit to.

Apatow's apparent touchstone here is the early work of James L. Brooks, especially the excellent Broadcast News. Similarly, that film dealt with the moral highs-and-lows of modern television; entertainment versus insight and information. Funny People is less biting than that film but the interplay is similar. The way Holly Hunter softens her blow when William Hurt brings her a human interest story mirrors Rogen's hesitation to let George really have it when he realizes he's breaking up Laura's marriage. There's also the communal nature of the comedy world that gives the film a very distinct flavor of insider drama; Paul Reiser, Sarah Silverman, Eminem and Ray Romano all make great cameos.

Apatow softens his blow at the very end but I found myself overwhelmed by the ambition and overall craftsmanship of Funny People. Even the transitions seemed less bumpy after a second viewing. Sandler is playing a fascinating version of himself here and part of the pull of the film is considering just how much of George is Sandler. And despite the fact that Rogen's character is prominent throughout, there is no question that this is George's film, deeply affected by the throws of humor and fame. Early on in the film, George refers to humor as a necessary defense he developed to please and quell his father and at the heart of Apatow's film is the question of rehabilitation even from the most basic parts of our character. In the end, George finds a healthy way to channel his need for laughs with Ira but the bug is still there and it seems clear that it always will be.

Chris Cabin is THE resident film critic and his opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Kings County Bop. You can find his reviews at AMC's as well as linked from Rotten Tomatoes, complete with several comments, none about his facial hair.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hip Williamsburg young professional looks like...Michael Phelps?

Our good man/reporter from Williamsburg Austin "Beehive" is bearing at least some resemblance to Michael Phelps + curly hair. Or is he? Phelps just defeated an actual adversary, it's good to see that the water sports world has something to challenge the man.

Also, speaking of Project Runway and it's return on August 20th to their new home at Lifetime of excruciating melodrama, our resident film critic, Chris Cabin (who will have a brand spankin new review very soon) bears the mark of one Chris March, fashion designer extraordinaire from the show's 4th season.

Oh and before we forget, our resident screenwriting mastah The Sasquatch Szyzska certainly has some similarities to one of our favorite directors, Christopher Nolan. He's not doing anything right now because he's filthy rich from The Dark Knight, but always newsworthy.

The recently wedded Pat Craig also gets a nod for most looking like Chris O'Donnell. For everyone who thinks he looks like Elijah Wood, obviously they haven't been thinking about Chris O'Donnell lately. Nobody has.

I look like every awesome and not awesome Asian actor so I won't bother you with those comparisons. However, my friend at Cinephile New York/All Ears All Eyes All The Time has been accosted as Jack Black. Sometimes Zack Galifianakis (but only because the beard hides the differences). Kind of reminds me of the time I mistook Ed Helms for Stephen Colbert at the IFC Center ("I love your work on Harvey Birdman"). I felt much better when as I was fumbling through an apology while interrupting his conversation with a lovely young woman, another woman was leaving and said to him, "it was so nice to meet you Mr. Colbert." I felt much better knowing I wasn't the only asshole.

What concert was that you say? Au Revoir Simone at Webster Hall in '07. I built it up in my head that it was going to be awesome. Guess what didn't happen? Awesomeness.