Friday, September 30, 2005

Hoopoes and herring gulls

Tonight, I indulged my affection for British Sea Power by taking Cordelia to their show at Jones Beach. Technically, it was The Killers's show, and BSP was opening for them, a fact made clear when they took the stage at 8 PM sharp ("Hi, we're British Sea Power from Cumbria") to an enthusiastic crowd that filled maybe 1 of every 50 seats in the amphitheater. This is my lot in life - every few years I cast my lot with a band that's unknown in America. Sometimes they end up making it big - Blur is one example. Sometimes they just struggle and eventually break apart, like the Boo Radleys did. This time, I'm on the BSP bandwagon early enough to bring them to the attention of others.

So this band full of rare songwriting talent and fabulous on-stage antics ripped off a great set. Jones Beach is now one of those slightly too-friendly venues. No alcohol, lots of fairly small kids, and bands that come on at 8 sharp. The guy sitting next to us had brought his two sons, ages 8 and 11. None of them had heard of BSP. After a couple of songs, he looked over and said "hey, this band's really good." I told him that, well, I was here to see them. He was a bit surprised, but we struck up a conversation where he asked me how many albums they'd made, where they were from, etc.

Most bands do encores, which is a really tedious, by-the-numbers process. British Sea Power, instead, do an extended last number. It starts with their song "Lately," which is great by itself, and morphs into something called "Rock in A," which is an extended, semi-freeform number. The performance of "Rock in A" includes handstands, blindfolded guitar playing, the occasional crashing into drum sets, and Eamon. Eamon is their keyboardist. He wears a helmet, grabs a military drum, and marches around playing it. When I saw them at Bowery Ballroom earlier this year, he dove right into the crowd, marched around and up the balcony while drumming.

I figured that this wasn't going to work at Jones Beach, because the stage is set off from the crowd. But he grabbed the drum anyway, hopped into the seats, and marched around to the back. He reappeared up near where we were sitting in the mezzanine level, and walked right past the family that had been sitting next to us. He saw the younger kid and handed him his drumstick; the kid ran back to his seat clutching it. The band now has at least three new fans. I heard other people who saw them talking about how good they were, too.

I wasn't so excited by the Killers. If you know their songs, their music is tight to the point of semi-disco in some cases. Don't get me wrong; some of their songs are pretty snazzy. But it gets to the point where they don't deviate from it on stage at all. They also have a severely limited repertoire, drawn from their one album. As a result, their concert felt a lot like listening to the album, and they felt a lot more set apart from the crowd. Tons of teens there were really into them, though.

We had some drunk but surprisingly unbelligerent people sitting behind us. One of them tried to start a "NEW YORK YAN-KEES" chant, but finding no takers, changed it into a "MIS-TER BRIGHT-SIDE" rally.

1 comment:

Jon said...
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