Evan Kessler Dot Com

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That’s Entertainment

Posted by evankessler on June 27, 2004

So it’s been a couple of days since I blogged, and I have to be honest I’m not too crazy about the word blog. That aside, it’s been a busy week and there hasn’t been much time for it anyway. Since Tuesday’s Aimee Mann concert, I’ve seen two bands play, been to an art show, and to a wedding. Wednesday I went to see Earl Pickens and the Black Mountain Marauders at the Rodeo Bar which is always a good time filled with beer drinking, all the peanuts you can eat and 2 solid hours of country music if not more. The only downside to that show was that they didn’t play “If I Could Sing Like That” which is my favorite Earl Pickens song. It’s not like I’ve never seen them play it before. I’ve probably seen them 20 something times, give or take.

Thursday night, John (Vacanti) and I went to see Jesse Malin at the Mercury Lounge. The entire time I was there I was worried about not being able to go home because I had lost my keys that day, but I found them the next day at work. When we got to Mercury that night one of the openers, Squad Five-O was performing. I absolutely hated them. Well, maybe that’s a little strong. The lead singer pissed me off. He just seemed like such a rock poser and that he was stealing stage moves from Mick Jagger and other front men. It sort of seemed like he was trying too hard to emulate other front men. He even gave a breathy, impassioned, sort of pointless political speech like he thought he was Bono. Someone should have told this guy he was opening for Jesse Malin at the Mercury Lounge and that his political opinions were not going to have any bearing on how anyone decides to vote this election year. That’s not to say he shouldn’t speak his mind, but I could care less what this guy had to say.

Squad Five-O left the stage at around 10 and Jesse Malin waited til 11 to take the stage. I found this to be sort of obnoxious. It was like I was seeing Guns N Roses or something and they wouldn’t take the stage until Axl was ready. Nonetheless, the show was excellent despite the long wait. He played most of his debut solo album “The Fine Art of Self Destruction” if not the entire thing. He also included a bunch of new songs from his upcoming sophomore effort “The Heat”. There were also some covers sprinkled into the set which included, Neil Young’s “Helpless” and Elvis Costello’s “Armed Forces”. Throughout the show Malin was very talkative and told several stories of growing up in Queens and playing gigs in New York at a young age.

The high points for me were his rendition of Cigarettes and Violets off his debut with keyboard accompaniment, as well as the full band version of “Brooklyn” which is my favorite track on “The Fine Art of Self Destruction.” His performance of “Solitaire’ also stood out. In this song he hits a note that is so guttural, and gut wrenchingly emotional that every time I hear it, I feel like it must take so much just to hit it once. I did not think he could do it live. It sounds like something you hit once out of several takes in the studio and can never do it again. I equate it with what it must sound like to get all of your pain and suffering out in one note, like his entire insides are coming out with this one note as he screams “I don’t need any one.” Much to my surprise, he was able to duplicate this seemingly impossible sound. Very impressive indeed. Overall, a fine show and a fine week for music.

Friday was quite the fine evening as well as my former college roommate, Samantha Hahn had an art show over at Teachers College. A bunch of friends were there as well. One of my other roommates, Kim O’Connell came in from Vermont. I was really happy to see her since she was one of my favorite people from college and I hadn’t seen her in awhile. Living in Vermont would cause that to happen. So from the Art Show we went to some place called Nachos, then on to Yogi’s (a fine dive bar honkey tonk) and then finally to O’Flaherty’s. I drank plenty and have no idea what time I got back. The details of Friday night are awful fuzzy. I woke up this morning very out of it. I freaked out because I thought I had left my bag in the bar which had my ipod in it. Upon further inspection, I had just dropped it on the floor as I entered the apartment in my drunken stupor.

Today was sort of a lazy day up until 6. I got a haircut, walked around, and sat on the roof. Then I went to a wedding tonight.
I don’t know how I feel about weddings. I don’t think that I want a band if I get married. I think I want to either elope because I don’t think I’d like the attention or just have a DJ and have everyone play coke and pepsi. There’s nothing dorkier than a wedding band playing Loveshack, The Way You Move, or any other song for that matter. And there’s always scores of people that neither the bride, nor the groom knows. Plus there are plenty of white people dancing like white people. Not that theirs anything wrong with that, but you should see it, there’s elbows pointing in all directions. I think that’s the difference between good dancers and bad dancers. Good dancers move their feet, bad dancers move their elbows all over the place without really moving their feet too much. That’s why I’m not really one for dancing too much. Get me drunk enough and sure I’ll cut a rug with the worst of them but if I’m sober enough, I’ll pass.

The funniest thing about the wedding was probably the guy who was wearing a wig/toupee with a ponytail. Not only did the wig just look like it wasn’t real hair, the ponytail just made it exponentially worse. I almost thought it was real because it was so bad. I sort of thought, no one would wear a wig that bad so it must actually be real, but then I came to my senses. Maybe that’s what that guy was counting on though. Maybe it’s a reverse psychology wig. No one will actually think I’d want to intentionally embarrass myself that much, so they’ll all think I just have unfortunate hair.

Back on the topic of the wedding band, I don’t think I could ever sit through a party of a band just playing music that I hate for hours. I know it’s for the guests but if I was getting married I’d want to hear songs that I like. Non- stop awful love songs is not my idea of a fun time. Most people like that stuff and think that its beautiful and maybe it is but I would rather rock out. Maybe I’d feel differently if I were getting married I don’t know. I spent part of the night thinking what I wanted my wedding song to be, and I guess it would sort of depend on your situation but I really have no idea what I would want. “Something” by the Beatles is a good one, but my friend’s parents used that one. Maybe “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” or “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys or something by Clem Snide off of the album “Soft Spot”. That’s a pretty album.

Oh yeah and one more thing. I may have lost my phone tonight. Although I think I know where it is so maybe I’ll have it by noon tomorrow. I’m crossing my fingers. Ok, time for bed.

06/22/04 11:10pm
Evan Kessler here, who else? Fresh from attending the Aimee Mann concert at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn and I can honestly say that it was one of the better shows I’ve ever been to. I mean it wasn’t Pearl Jam at Randalls Island September 28, 1996, but that was an entirely different kind of show. Mrs. Mann was in top form as was her band the entire set and there was not one dud amongst her hour and a half on stage. I would be hard pressed to come up with one bad song in her entire catalog so the odds that she would include one in her set is slim to none. This was the first time I had ever seen her live and I had previously been told that she was only okay, and that her on stage banter was mediocre at best.

Contrary, to that review, I found Aimee Mann’s energy and chemistry with both the band and the audience to be a pleasant surprise. She scanned through songs from her entire catalogue doing songs from each of her albums save for any Til Tuesday materal. But I wasn’t expecting anything from those days. Plus, the only one I really know is “Voices Carry”. The highlight for me was the three song stretch mid-set in which she played “Wise Up”, “Save Me” (both from the Magnolia Sndtk) and “Stupid Thing” (from Whatever). She even played a couple of solid new songs and throughout the set I found myself going through the myriad of emotions that usually accompanies listening to an Aimee Mann record. Mostly I experienced doubt, regret, and heartache but also a feeling of empathy because you really want to relate to the situations in the songs. There wasn’t much hope involved. There was joy however, as in the enjoyment I felt as I heard all of the songs I wanted to hear and realized how wonderfully intimate this performance was. St. Ann’s Warehouse is one of the best places I’ve ever been to see a show. It may even be better than the Bowery Ballroom.

The other major highlight for me was of course the 3 songs performed for the encore. The 1st time Aimee and the band came back out they said they wanted to take requests and the first request they too was for “4th of July”. (To know how I feel about that song see the blog entry for 6/14) and followed with “Red Vines”, probably my favorite song from Bachelor No.2. They went offstage again after this song and came back once more.

Just as they were deciding what to play one thought went through my head. That thought was, “she’s probably not going to play Deathly”. Right when that thought passed Aimee said, “Let’s do Deathly”. Then I thought, “This is the perfect concert.” However, a couple of fans tried to convince her to play “Guys Like Me” but she said she didn’t remember it. The show closed on “Deathly” and the night ended on an exemplary note. If you can go to any of her shows the next two days I would seriously recommend you go. It is seriously worth the 40 bucks. I also read somewhere that they were recording these shows for either a live cd or dvd but I didn’t see any cameras, so it may be the next two shows they are taping. That’s sort of a shame. I’d love to have a copy of this show.

Well, my week of events is getting off to a hell of a start. Earl Pickens and the Black Mountain Marauders on Wednesday at Rodeo Bar, and Jesse Malin at Mercury Lounge on Thursday. SWEET!!!

P.S. If you don’t have any Aimee Mann albums, get all of them!!!

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