JUSTICE @ Terminal 5, New York, October 20, 2007

So if you want a sugar high you can go eat a Twinkie.
Or you can rip the top off about eleven Pixie Stix and just dump ’em in your mouth.

Justice is like the Pixie Stix version of a Daft Punk dance music high. Two French guys at a turntables and mixers. Pounding beats. But Justice brutally strips it down to the cartoonish basics – cheap, dirty, and obvious. It works, but as dance music, compared to the previous night’s M.I.A. show, it’s like the made-for-TV version.

At Terminal 5 on Saturday night, they pounded the accident-waiting-to-happen-size crowd.

with relentless build-and-release thumping-four, increasing bpm, louder and quicker, build-up-to-siren-wailing-orgasm sustain-decay, start-the-pounding-over French disco numbers.
Over and over and over again.

They had BIG speakers.

They had BIG strobes. (Epileptics were screwed.)

And some spots.

Over and over and over again.

the set ended with their hit “We. Are. Your Friends. You’ll. Never. Be Alone. Again.”

Shouted, over and over and over again by the crowd, arms pumping, bodies sweating as one.

Justice’s schtick works. And it’s really fun, for about 20 minutes. Then maybe you want something besides Pixie Stix.


M.I.A. @ Terminal 5, New York, October 19, 2007

M.I.A. at Terminal 5 – epic.

this show was so FAR beyond everything else I’ve seen at CMJ it wasn’t even funny.

Terminal 5 is the old Exit – a cavernous three-floor dance/rave-style place.

What M.I.A. did there was kinda extragalactic compared to any dance-music, any rave I’ve seen.
The floor was packed; the crowd was pretty much delirious for about 2 hours before she even took the stage.

Cool Kids opened up w/some excellent old-skool – their “Pump Up the Volume” was quite fine.

And they sounded like something from the previous century when M.I.A. took the stage.

she brought the crowd on stage to dance

she brought the guy she signed to her new label, Zig Zag, on stage

Credited as Afrikan Boy on the single “Hussel,” A.B.’s glow in the dark shirt sported the phrase “Who Stole My Visa?” on the front and “Whoop there it is!” on the back – referring to his troubles getting into the USA.

OUR loss if he didn’t.

Honestly, I don’t really have the words or the knowledge to describe the music – crazy broken beat, percussion blasts like gunshots, samples of New Order’s “Blue Monday” and the Eurhythmic’s “Sweet Dreams” (!), samples of african, indonesian, thai pop. Was it all brilliant? No. Would I have wanted to be anywhere else except there, to hear what happened next? NO.

hey, yeah, I’ve heard the criticism; she does not sing. She may have relied on her old boyfriend Diplo for her previous album’s best stuff. She might have had a lot of help with this one. Maybe she’s the next version of Madonna, in the same way that Madonna might not have been the most talented chick in the room, but she was the one who got the job done. . . .

I really don’t care. Whatever it was that happened onstage, I think I kinda saw a good part of the future last night.

and (ck out the AMAZING photos on

mia terminal 5 27.JPG


CMJ Brooklyn Vegan Showcase – Most Serene Republic, Dean and Britta, the Rosebuds 10-17

During a kinda fractured week, I still managed to put the pieces together enough to haul my ass down to Bowery Ballroom and get a little taste of music hipster heaven at the brooklynvegan.com showcase at Bowery Ballroom. Featuring
the Shaky Hands, Most Serene Republic, Dean & Britta (formerly of Luna), and the Rosebuds, it was pretty sweet indeed.

No pix of the very excellent Shaky Hands from me: go to twi-ny’s flickr site for that.

but a coupla pix of the utterly charming Most Serene Republic, a band of semi-Canadians who play melodic, catchy, indie pop w/interesting instrumentation, um, no, they are not the Arcade Fire, adn no, not all Canadian bands sound like that. . . .but MSR was pretty great, despite some flat notes and off-key singing – it kinda didn’t matter at the showcase.

As Charlie Brown had a little red-haired girl megacrush, I had a little red-haired boy megacrush in grammar school, and the lead of MSR quite hit all the right cute notes to play that old tune. Boy, is he cute! and plays a mean trombone. And I’d have to introduce myself by saying, “Hi, I’m Mrs. Robinson. . . . ” Sigh.

She may not be a great singer, but she was pretty great nevertheless.

Here’s the interesting instruments; some egg poaching cups also made an appearance.

And I loved the “guitar army” on the right.


Next up, Dean & Britta, formerly of the almost universally beloved Luna. Dean asked if anyone in the crowd was actually a college radio DJ, harking back to the days when CMJ really meant College Music Journal, and was a more grass-roots affair. He got called on having been a DJ at WHRV. Yup. He’s that old.

They did a great job with their usual melancholic, painful, intelligent stuff as usual. Not the most compelling on stage, but Britta is SO insanely freakin’ good-looking it kinda doesn’t matter. Especially for the husband – megacrush does not begin to describe the dimensions there. But c’mon, you can see why:

Followed by the dreary, amateur techie delays and evergreen rock ‘n’ roll dance party of the Rosebuds, whose uncomplex choruses of “ohohoh” & “yeahyeahyeah” produced the most dancing seen all night. I’m not a big fan of the music – frankly, it’d bore me silly w/o the live mulitmedia experience (i.e. in a crowd, at midnight, w/sweaty dancers in front of a speaker), but it was a relief after the introspective rock of D&B – who were actually sounding a bit like Jesus & Mary Chain at one point, only a LOT slower. . .

So the Rosebuds rocked.

Voxtrot played. I went home and CRASHED.

Ck out the Interdependence Project podcast!

Bizarrely enough, this is the week I myself appear on a podcast, introducing one of my all-time favorite authors, Brad Warner, at his guest appearance at the Interdependence Project in nyc.

Check out iTunes; search for the Interdependence Project. The podcast is free.

Brad Warner is the author of Hardcore Zen and Sit Down and Shut Up!, both most worthwhile reads. He’s got a blog at hardcore zen and writes a (controversial) column on SuicideGirls.

The podcast is a low-key, meandering discussion of Zen, punk, and all that stuff; about 70 people were there. Luckily, not all of them talk. Check it out.

And of course, absolutely ck out the book by the founder and director of the ID project! linked below:

Currently reading :
One City: A Declaration of Interdependence
By Ethan Nichtern
Release date: 26 July, 2007

Les Savy Fav, Blonde Redhead, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire: Randall’s Island

When the last show of summer is October 6, the thought “hmm, global warming?” could give you pause – unless you’re among the golden youth at last Saturday’s indie pop idyll on Randall’s Isle. f*ck that worry sh*t – we went to see Les Sav Fav, Blonde Redhead, LCD Soundsystem, and Arcade Fire.

Had heard the new single, “The Equestrian” and liked it, but even I was surprised at how much I liked Les Savy Fav.

doing my research AFTER the fact, I learned: “The group’s original line-up, formed in 1995, all met while attending the Rhode Island School of Design.

The band is known for angular, abrasive guitar and bass melodies, complemented by singer Tim Harrington’s educated, poetic lyrics sung or shouted over the instruments. Harrington’s involved lyrics make broad-ranging academic references to such disparate topics as Stockholm syndrome, the architects of Carthage, and even palimpsests.”

’nuff said. Of course I like these guys!
btw: considering the amount of RISD peeps I know in NYC, I am beginning to suspect W’burg is actually a post-graduate dorm for these people. . . .

anyway, Tim Harrington indeed was fat, bearded, weird, oddly endearing, and changed his outfit about five times.

The BEST was the flesh-colored unitard covered w/”Visible Man” style tattoos.

The butt crack cling was a nice extra.

next up: Blonde Redhead. I’m just not a fan. The twin Italian bros are just a little too precious, and one reminded me unpleasantly of Geddy Lee’s falsetto in more’n a few spots. And the anguished writhy-girl w/”ethereal” voice bugged me, too – I just don’t get it. They’re named for a song by nyc’s DNA, and named one of their records “Misery of Damaged Lemons.” Also, with three people on stage, I kept wondering who was playing the bass I heard.

nota bene: the large horse in the photo is a reference to the Japanese singer’s unfortunate horse-trampling incident a few years ago. glad she recovered.

And my beloved LCD Soundsystem was up next! Yes, James Murphy looks a little like a frat boy.

But I forgive him. His goofy, shy delivery, frank admission of being so wiped from touring that he just about “bought it” by stumbling over a riser on stage, his joy at being back in nyc. Sigh. . . .

but randall’s was good enough for me. The crowd, who was mostly there for the apotheosis of Arcade Fire, their ascension into indie rock godhead, was taken off-guard by LCD’s invocation of sweaty dance but boy, when that mirror ball and the percussion got going, they danced. Turn the beat around, indeed.

And finally, with their huge troupe of members, 6 or 7 small projection screens, large projection screens, a giant pipe organ, and more changes of style and tempo (w/in a somewhat narrow range, still) Arcade Fire took the stage.

I like Arcade Fire. I can see why people LOVE them after this show. I like their bits of alt-country, (or is that alt-Canadian?) twang, their anthemic U2-sweep and reach, their spacious accommodation of members. I got their Neon Bible theme, of an American bible equal parts consumerism, religious illusion, general disillusion, . . . etc. They are good.

One of the singers wound up climbing the wall. If there had been any walls round the 25,000 in the field, the audience probably would have climbed up and sung with him — they put on that good a show.

I’m sure there’s youtube’s galore of this one out there. My advice: go find ’em!


wound up at the Massive Attack show* at Roseland w/my friend Kati.

Kind of a heavy show. I think it was close to criminally oversold – we are talking Who Concert ’79/trying-not-to-think-about-Great White-in-RI kind of crowded; shoulder-to-shoulder like cordwood, and one elbow-throwing yob could break someone’s something. Brr.

I haven’t seen that many people in Roseland since the Pogues in ’89/’90 – and I was most probably seeing double at that show anyway, so divide by 2. Brits were everywhere tonight, unsurprisingly; there are a lot of ’em in NY, but who would have thought Massive Attack would sell out solidly three nights running at Roseland? I sure didn’t.

The sound was heavy, the light show (a 10-foot high, probably 40-foot wide, news-crawler behind the band) would have worked at a U2 stadium gig, and the guitars were rather too thunderous. But it was pretty impressive. The original line-up people were outstanding – Horace, etc. – but Elizabeth, the woman singer they brought in for the Tracey Thorn-type vocals, just didn’t cut it, alas. The other one was absolutely great, tho’. Wow.

And the Tricky stuff still sounds mighty fine. And “Hymn of the Big Wheel” was beautiful; same with “Mezzanine” and “Man Next Door.” Maybe there was not really enough from Blue Lines, in my opinion, and maybe too much from 100th Window? Wonder what real reviewers might have to say. . . .

(*This week – with me and shows – was like the old days of CMJ or something; I am gonna wind up as the female Oldie Olsen. I suppose there are worse fates. But not many. Oldie is a semi-apocryphal NYC figure. When you go to a show, there is always this dude with long white hair. No one knows who he really is, but he is always at the “best” show. Supposedly, if you are at a show and see Oldie, you know you are at the right one.

That is, according to my more thoroughly baked friends. I have always suspected that guy actually lives underneath Madison Square Garden and that is why he is “at every show.” Thank god he wasn’t at this one.)

1:39 AM – 9 Comments – 0 Kudos – Add CommentEditRemove


I really enjoy living a vicarious concertgoers life through you, Ellen. Jon and I saw the Wedding Present last February and I realized that while I love music, I hate being crammed into a room with my fellow humans. And I must use that designation loosely for some of them. Haven’t been to a live show since unless you count outdoor concerts in the park. I’m still okay with those. So keep on writing and I’ll keep pretending I was there!

Posted by QueensGirl on Friday, October 06, 2006 at 9:58 AM
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I Got My Reasons

“real reviewer” ? hmm, you know about these guys than I ever will, and you actually GO to shows which is cool… I’m with Queens girl on the live venue thing, and add the “I don’t want to be the bad news story from the hip-hop show” to the mix and you got me: sitting at home remembering those kids that looked me up and down at the Red Hot Chili Peppers show back in like, 94. But I used to go to all the Butthole Surfer’s shows, and that was no joke. I don’t wanna end up on the pages of Vice with a Chris Rock “Old Guy at the Club” referenced caption. It’s hard enough going to peace protests, which seem to be only for retirees and 17 year old girls. I’m IMing one right now about yesterday’s… wait forget that last part. Yum… COFFEE.

Posted by I Got My Reasons on Friday, October 06, 2006 at 10:32 AM
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ha! yeah, coffee is good. how was that protest anyway?

I was actually really worried about the “don’t want to be the bad news story” last night – I am used to crowds, but there was a very sketchy vibe in the air in some parts of the huddled masses. I’m taking a breather for a while, no matter how many free/cheap tix pop up in my karmic vicinity.

What really surprises me about venues now is how the crowd is NOT all youngsters. From the Roger Waters show to McCarren Park Pool – there were 50 y.o.’s in front of me; 19 y.o.’s next to me. That is pretty much the story in NYC – maybe a little less so in W’burg, but not much.

I was talking to my 27 y.o. friend Ethan about that very thing yesterday – he claims it is because the pop music of his generation was so very lame and prepackaged (backstreet boys, anyone?), except for underground hip-hop stuff, that they were forced to listen to 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s material. He said Bob Dylan is HUGE amongst his W’burg pals. And so the stuff they produce sounds like that, which appeals to us oldsters. I’ve seen that argument before, in the infamous “grups” New York magazine article (remember that one, Claire? LOL!), and i’m not sure I buy it, but . . . .

Hey, hopefully there will always more than enough tweaked and insane 48-y.o. German ravers on the scene to fill the pages of Vice. I plan to stay just under the radar, behind the guys with the severely Icelandic black pants and silver shades who still seem to be metaphorically shouting: “And now iss vhen ve dahnce!” . . . .

Posted by Ellen on Friday, October 06, 2006 at 11:40 AM
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I Got My Reasons

the protest was pretty good… there’s an AP story out you can google, that will probably NOT be running in the good ol’ NY Times (FREAKS!!)BTW i LOVED the GRUPS article, i laughed so hard when i read it. It’s funny cuz it’s TRUE. As a former skater, i Loved the image of a my-age guy in traction after going to the skateboard park, with his son coming to see him wearing a bow tie and listening to Burl Ives on his IPOD. Payback’s a bitch. I still think I’ll get my ass kicked if I go to the Dizzee Rascal show. Maybe I’ll just knit him a nice tea cozy. What sort of misdirected young person listens to Dylan when there’s Biggie? I’m not buyin’ it. Just admit you were a young SQUARE before you became a young hipster already. I listened to old music too, but D.E.V.O., Clash and RUN-D.M.C. was what I CARED about.

Posted by I Got My Reasons on Friday, October 06, 2006 at 12:12 PM
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ha! YES, that scene in the New York article, of the 30+ guy who dislocated his shoulder on his brand-new skateboard, while his wife was preggers w/their first kid, was the one that killed me. I howled with laughter over that. Too funny and too true – kinda like the time I wound up in the snowboard terrain park in Mt. Snow on skis — ouch!

and yeah, I think you got the “overly defensive” square-hipster thing pegged dead on.

(p.s. thanks for the “real reviewer” note earlier. I just know I’ll never be as cool a reviewer as Spin‘s Chuck Klosterman. . . but i’m pretty sure I don’t wanna be, either!)

Posted by Ellen on Friday, October 06, 2006 at 12:45 PM
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I Got My Reasons

I think we may be approaching the post-cool review era… there are just too many bands. What about this intro: I know I’m a big fat loser, but I never heard of these guys till thier third album. Is it OK to like them?

“we’ll put THE SYSTEM on trial” (obscure “Cable Guy” Reference)

Posted by I Got My Reasons on Friday, October 06, 2006 at 12:54 PM
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Ha! No shit – here is the System’s, um, the New York Times‘s review.

(thanks Monica!)

Posted by Ellen on Sunday, October 08, 2006 at 8:07 AM
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LT from NYC

Damn! I’m so jealous! I loooove Massive Attack!

Posted by LT from NYC on Friday, October 06, 2006 at 7:37 PM
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Wow! that is so funny – you are like the 3rd girl among a bunch of people I know who are really into them!
I bet they will be back in town; there are too many potential ticket sales and too much $$$ here for them to ignore. Next time they’re around maybe I’ll post a bulletin and we can go en masse. Safety in numbers and all.

I have to say unfortunately the show was weirdly big on long duels of serious riffage – the final encoure sounded like something out of an air guitar contest! – and short on the kind of smoky dark bedroom-y stuff they can be so good at (and that I prefer). But like I said, their live “Mezzanine” was definitely all that – and more.

Posted by Ellen on Friday, October 06, 2006 at 10:23 PM
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The Mekons, New York, October 3, 2007 – old, boozy, heartbreaking, and beautiful

yeah, they’re old – so old they had to perform sitting down

or so drunk

With Jon Langford swigging from a tequila bottle on stage and Sally Timms bitterly commenting “where are they – getting more to drink? as if they haven’t had enough already” in her inimitable clipped British voice, dripping w/sarcasm in between every song, the Mekons showed up, barely,
performing “Dark, Dark, Dark” and similar from their new album The Natural amid their wild and gorgeous old beauties.

Standouts included “Fletcher Christian” and an aching “Ghosts of American Astronauts,” on which Sally Timms’ otherworldly voice seemed to call up every romantic, doomed, and tender barroom ghost in NY, if not those of american astronauts and “Nixon sipping a dry martini”. And “Fall in Love” was a sweet treat amid the drunking crotch-thrusting of Jon, who simultaneously evoked a “fuck you I’m British” attitude, a drunken uncle embarrassing the youngsters w/his oddly sexual hip moves, and a brilliant, brilliant dancer.

Tom Greenhalgh was a narrow, loose-limbed drunken spectre, with pointy chin and Sinatra fedora, recalling at the same time Fred Astaire and some guy in the Blarney Rose. And his voice was a beautiful thing.

Rico Bell, handsome as ever, called up a few ironic disco/Tom Jones poses as his accordion rollicked and wheezed; Steve Goulding did great duty on the bongos and commode (the wooden box that provided most of the percussion).

While Jon called out for Satan and Sally noted, “nope – not allowed in America any more; no more visas, won’t be seeing him there again” and the faithful crowd hollered “Fuck the Mekons!” the show was a sprawling, boozy lovefest.

It couldn’t help but remind me w/a shiver of some of the later Pogues shows I saw. The toll was that high. But the wild British socialists and fuck-it-all anarchists who brought us Fear and Whiskey in 1985, The Edge of the World and Honky Tonkin’ in the space of three years – they showed up, after all.

for some really GREAT pix, check out http://flickr.com/photos/twi-ny/sets/72157602263146743/