Finally, things are looking up.
After a spectacular Canadian brunch in Brooklyn, Friday began at Mo Pitkins for an afternoon show. Things were running late, which meant I caught Pink Nasty, featuring a lanky Texan at the lead and occasionally a friend backing her up on second guitar. It's not a good sign when your best song is an ironic-yet-loving homage to a modern Destiny's Child-style R&B song slowed down for blues guitar, but nonetheless it did leave us with a much better impression than her own songs.
Wooden Wand took the stage solo, saying, "Well, the CD will be dead by next year, and I'm sure MP3s will follow after that, which means that pretty soon there will be no more musicians and all that will be left are songs. Here are some songs." From there, he proceeded to captivate like so few solo singer/songwriters can, with bare bones accompaniment and all attention focused on voice and lyrics, aided occasionally by his wife Jessica on backing vocals that softened the touch of his lyrics about life during modern wartime.
Over at the very swank Hiro Ballroom (where I was still regretting not seeing Suzanne Vega earlier this week, especially after Shane from the Awkward Stage raved about the show to me), Erase Errata were at the Kill Rock Stars showcase. There was a strange vibe in the room: their old labelmates the Decemberists were promoting their first major label album uptown at the Hammerstein Ballroom, while label founder Slim Moon recently departed the Pacific Northwest for NYC to take a job at Nonesuch. Despite the driving energy of Erase Errata, the crowd was silent--perhaps reverent, perhaps conflicted--in between songs, even during long tuning breaks. Singer Jenny Hoyton is moving away from her shout-y approach to let out more full-blooded yelps, though despite that and her trumpet playing, she's currently the weak link in a band totally propelled by the monstrous rhythm section. New material shows more depth; it's always good to see a band like this not burn out of ideas after a couple of years, like so many of their early 80s forebears did.
Like Erase Errata, Deerhoof have recently been pared down to a three-piece. Though some guitar parts were noticeably absent from a couple of older songs, for the most part it's cleared out some clutter and made the band even more intense and in control. I normally loathe power trios (and I loathe math rock even more), but Deerhoof are now every bit the modern equivalent of The Who or Hendrix, with a often-violently intense drummer able to twist his sticks around every dissectable polyrhythm , pushing and pulling with the tightly reined chaos of the guitarist, while still pushing the song forward. Bassist/singer Satomi is usually the Entwhistle straight man, keeping the song on track while her bandmates flail about, but she's a completely different player today then the last time I saw the band in 2003: able to match the complexity of the rest of the band while rocking out on stage--her own semaphore interpretive dance still intact and more oddly compelling than ever. The set was stacked with "hits": "Dummy Discards a Heart," "Milk Man," "Dog on the Sidewalk," along with very promising new material (album in late January, 2007). I was one of the few that wasn't sold on The Runners Four--Milk Man, in my mind, is their classic--but this show obliterated any baggage of any kind for me. Last night, Deerhoof were the most mind-blowing rock band in America, and I felt like a giddy teenager watching history be made.
Where to go from there? Nowhere, really, and it was only 9.30. I really wanted to see Chris Mills at the Cake Shop--his 2005 album was one of that year's woefully underrated gems. But the venue was at capacity, which meant some time to browse this awesome bakery/cafe/record store/ venue/gallery in the Lower East Side: a highly recommended time-killer for any music fan in NYC. There's some great vinyl there, including a section of "Unintentional Comedy Albums," but I stuck with a copy of Suzanne Vega's first album (which I only have on cassette) if only because she'd been haunting me all week. A late night crepe and it was back to Jersey.
Maybe because I'm up this early I'll get into the Brooklyn Vegan party and see White Whale.
Full report on Monday!