Monday, October 22, 2007

Music is the best...

...which we've known all along, and which scarcely needs 'proving'.

Nonetheless, I came across a mountain of new evidence to that effect over the last few days.

On Thursday (that day I shut down for a while, but then revived) we did make it to the M.I.A. show at Terminal 5. I refer you to Sherin's Walkalong entry of 10/19 for a good reaction to the event.

Friday was one of the final performances of Till the Break of Dawn, which had its moments. It was part of the Hip Hop Theater Festival, and as such it perhaps led me to expect more music in general. I mean music in performance, not music being talked about. Still, the sound design was one of the show's singular strengths, and the music we did get worked very well.

Then on Saturday, with my friend Frank, who is always a phenomenal resource for music and musical knowledge, I saw Yo La Tengo at the Colony Cafe in Woodstock. Now, it's far from news that Yo La Tengo is one of the bands that has meant the most to me in the last several years, that they are among Hoboken's proudest achievements and that they have the ability to create some of the best music going. But this show outshone even their high standard. It was part of their "Freewheeling Yo La Tengo" tour-let, and it happened at the music capital of hippie nation (yes, yes, I know that the famous festival actually took place in Bethel, and so do the Woodstockians - don't crunch their buzz).

Now I hesitate to admit this, but not only had I not been to the Colony, I had never been to Woodstock before. It's a groovy little town, to be sure. And Frank and I had a great time talking to a local retiree and watching the Red Sox get a good jump on game 6 over dinner at a bar in town. But all that pales beside the glow of the Yo on this particular evening. The Colony is a tiny club/coffee house, and we had 'reserved' seats, which weren't reserved in the proper sense - reserved seats just meant that we got to grab a couple of the maybe 50 chairs that were unfolded on the floor in front of the stage. One of the sometimes annoying but usually charming things about going to events with Frank is that he always insists on being early; in this case that meant we were in the second row.

One of the most intimate and informal shows I've ever been to, it was an unbelievable treat with a band this good. Basically what they did was open with a couple songs from their 'new' album, I am not Afraid of You and I will Beat Your Ass, which is actually more than a year old, and one from ...and then nothing turned itself inside out, and then opened the floor for discussion. People asked questions, made requests and reveled in what they came up with. Their songs, cover songs, stories, jams, and they were standing about 10 feet away. They had super simple instrumentation (James on bass, Georgia's drum 'kit' had a snare, a tom and one cymbal, and Ira was playing a Gibson accoustic with a pickup gaff-taped over the hole in front) but they were still able to mix up the mellow accoustic sound (the sound was great!) with some really rockin' moments. Loved it!

Thank God for music.

And if you're wondering, both Ira and James' favorite Feelies song is 'Raised Eyebrows" :-)

Stay tuned for their Chanukkah shows at Maxwell's...

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