Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
Cinema Red & Blue and The Ladybug Transistor at The Cake Shop in New York
Frank YangJust to be clear: I had absolutely no intention of going to any shows this past weekend whilst in New York City. Yes, I checked to see what was playing over the long weekend and certainly would have hit something up if it were appealing, but taking a break from standing around in Toronto clubs till the wee hours of the morning by standing around in New York clubs till the wee hours of the morning is not my idea of a vacation. However, a chat with Soundbites on Saturday afternoon and the lack of anything more interesting to do on Saturday night found me – wait for it – standing around in a Lower East Side club till the wee hours of the morning.
The club was The Cake Shop, a venue I’d heard tale of for years but had not set foot in – and which like other fabled NYC clubs of which I’ve recently made the acquaintance of, was much smaller, darker and sweatier than I’d imagined. But they did indeed sell cake. So there’s that. The bill was four deep, the first half of which I missed, but I did arrive in time to see The Ladybug Transistor – a band not all that familiar to me but who came with a pedigree containing the keywords Elephant 6 (a scene with whom they were originally associated), Merge (the label to which they’re signed) and The Essex Green (the band with which they’ve shared many a member). And so while not being familiar with their material, per se, that was more than enough to make me confident that I’d enjoy what they had to offer and indeed I did – sharp, singalong-worthy and handclap-happy retro-styled indie-pop will never go out of style. With a big, lush sound that seemed a bit at odds with the decidedly non-lush environs, The Ladybug Transistor’s set certainly made for a better evening than watching basic cable back at the apartment where I was staying, which probably would have been the evening’s fallback activity.
The night’s headliner was an outfit called Cinema Red & Blue, an offshoot of UK indie cult heroes The Comet Gain involving members of The Ladybug Transistor – for any more detail than that, I refer you to this preview piece at BrooklynVegan. I think I’d heard Comet Gain before and recall being generally unimpressed with their shambolic aesthetic, so it was probably too much to hope that a one-off gig from an under-rehearsed and probably drunk side-project would offer much in the revelation department. And no, it really didn’t. A late start due to a malfunctioning keyboard (always a good idea to wait until show time to discover that the power cord doesn’t work) pretty much set the tone and by the time they got started, they were as sloppy and wobbly as you’d expect. But while that wasn’t my thing, it seemed to be precisely what the fans in attendance wanted and so they all seemed pretty pleased. I stuck around for a little while and quietly excused myself. Sleep beckoned.
Photos: Cinema Red & Blue, The Ladybug Transistor @ The Cake Shop, New York – September 5, 2009
MP3: The Ladybug Transistor – “Three Days From Now”
MP3: The Ladybug Transistor – “Splendor In The Grass”
MP3: The Ladybug Transistor – “The Reclusive Hero”
MP3: The Ladybug Transistor – “A Burial At Sea”
MySpace: The Ladybug Transistor
As for the rest of the trip, it was intended to be a little bit shopping excursion, a little bit get the hell out of Toronto and it was a success on both counts. Some clothes and probably unnecessary photo gear to the former, some exploration of Brooklyn, culture at the MoMA and AMNH, excellent eating and hanging out with friends made it a great long weekend and a small but necessary act of salvaging a tiny bit of the Summer. Some photos are up at Flickr if you’re curious.
Apologies to anyone who stopped by Sunday to check out this week’s G’N’R cover only to find, instead of twee-ified Axel, a googly-eyed cat – in my rush to get posts written up and queued for my absence, I forgot to upload the MP3 file. So it’s live now and as a bit of mea culpa, also help yourself to this radio session version of Luna doing the same tune. Also check out the Taken By Trees features at Paste and The Guardian and stream the new album East Of Eden – out today – at Drowned In Sound.
Anyone faced with a Joe Pernice-or-The Antlers dilemma for the evening of September 24, rejoice – The Antlers will be playing an in-store at Criminal Records that evening, time TBA. So you – and by “you” I mean “I” – can hit up the in-store first then trek over to the Dakota later that night to see Joe. Unless you had tickets for the Antlers’ show at the Horseshoe that night, in which case you’re on your own with a double-serving of Antlers. There’s a video session with them at LiveDaily while Pernice talks to Spinner about his new record.
Suckers have been added as support for the just-announced White Rabbits gig at the Drake on October 24. I’ve heard almost as many good things about them as I have the headliners – which is a considerable amount – so that gig is probably one not to miss. Check out an MP3 and video and also their Daytrotter session from earlier this Summer.
Former 13th Floor Elevators frontman and general psych-rock legend Roky Erickson has set a rare live date at Lee’s Palace in Toronto for October 28 – tickets $29.50. There’s an interview with Erickson at The Quietus.
The Swell Season, who continue on despite the end of Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s real-life romance, will release their second album Strict Joy on October 27 and follow it up with a Fall tour that includes a date at Massey Hall in Toronto on November 3 – tickets $29.50 to $42.50. Check out a new song from the record courtesy of Spinner and also a few more at a Tiny Desk Concert recorded for NPR.
If you were wondering if/when The Wooden Sky would play a proper hometown gig rather than rooftop soirees or subterranean in-stores, wonder no longer – they’ll present their excellent new record If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone on a proper stage on November 13 at Lee’s Palace. Tickets $12.
And if you’ve been wondering – as I have – what TV is worth downloading this Fall, it’s The AV Club to the rescue. They’ve listed off all the shows they’re going to be covering as the traditional new television season kicks off in the coming weeks, and not a moment too soon. With Weeds over last week and True Blood done this Sunday, I needs new stuff to watch. Though a closer look at their picks shows that our tastes align a little too closely – most of them I already watch or have decided not to watch. Will be following Glee and Bored To Death – anyone have any other suggestions that don’t require catching up on four or five past seasons worth of eps?