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Archive for the ‘The Stone Pony’ Category

[ATTENDED: April 26, 2018] Built to Spill

This was my third time seeing Built to Spill.  I had seen them as a five-piece and a three-piece.  And this show was another three-piece set up.

I thought it was strange that the drummer’s drums were set up off to the right of the stage instead of in the middle, but that was how they left them.  And, indeed, that’s how they played at Stone Pony with drummer Steve Gere off to the right and bassist Steve Albertini to the left.

The two guys don’t do a ton–that’s not their job.  They are there to anchor whatever Doug feels like doing.  And it’s amazing the way they can adjust to whatever he decides to do–jam, change tempo, whatever.  They’re an amazingly tight band,

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[ATTENDED: September 23, 2017] Pixies

I saw the Pixies live at Giants Stadium in 1989.  They opened for The Cure and played a rollicking set.

I was a huge fan of their original albums and I’ve enjoyed The Breeders and Frank Black’s solo stuff to varying degrees.  I was intrigued when they reunited, but I wasn’t super psyched about it.  I didn’t really love the new songs they released–they were all fine, but I figured either I was past them or they had changed enough to make their new stuff less dramatic.

But when I saw that they were playing at the Stone Pony Summer Stage (the day after Autumn officially began), I thought I might like to go.  The face value  of the tickets was $37, which wasn’t too bad, but somehow after Ticketmaster got involved, the total was $59, which was way too much.  We were near Asbury Park during the summer and I stopped by the Stone Pony to buy a ticket at the box office.  But they were closed! (Closed Tuesdays, apparently).

It turned out that day of the show tickets went up to $52 (!).  Well, I was on the fence, and then while I was trying to find out what time the opening band went on (no official word except that gates opened at 5:30), I came across a ticket for sale on Stubhub for $20.  I’d never bought anything on Stubhub before, because I’d always heard the prices were crazy expensive.  Well, including fees, these tickets were less than face value.  Which is pretty awesome.  And I was all set.

For many people, the dealbreaker (ha) for this show was that original bassist Kim Deal as no longer in the band.  I had heard new bassist Paz Lenchantin and thought she sounded enough like Kim (especially in an outdoor venue) that it wouldn’t be all that noticeable that Kim wasn’t there.  What I didn’t realize and which I respect even if it meant that we lost out, was that they didn’t play any songs that Kim sang lead on.  Paz did all of the backing vocals and sang lead on the one song she sings on the newest album and the encore, but that was it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 23, 2017] Sunflower Bean

As with most new bands, I first heard about Sunflower Bean on All Songs Considered.  I loved the psychedelic yet punky sound of the song “2013.”  And the entirely of their full length album Human Ceremony is really good–catchy songs with a great vibe.

I was really excited to hear that they were opening for the Pixies show–although I didn’t exactly see how their music would jibe with Pixies songs.

Well, I needn’t have worried.  Sunflower Bean rocks a lot harder live than on the record.  And their set included a number of new, heavier songs that complemented the night well.

Confusingly, this show stated that the Gates opened at 5:30, but they would not say anywhere what time Sunflower Bean went on.  I was sure they wouldn’t start at 5:30.  I assumed they’d start at 6:30, and yet that was still really early for a Saturday night show to end.  Because the day was really busy (Tabby had a piano recital earlier!), I managed to get to Asbury Park at 6:40 and drove around a bit to find a free parking spot.

The timing was perfect because Sunflower Bean went on at 7 and that gave me time to buy an outrageously over priced pretzel ($6) which tasted terrible. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2016] Built to Spill

2016-10-08-22-25-14Fifteen years ago I saw Sigur Rós.  A few days before that show I was supposed to see Built to Spill, but 9/11 happened and I skipped BtS.  So here it is fifteen years later and I get to see Sigur Rós and BtS a few days apart once again.  I also happened to see Built to Spill almost exactly one year ago today, so it was fun to do it all over again,.

This was my first time in the legendary Stone Pony.  I was shocked by how small it was and how strangely laid out it is (quite wide and not very deep).  I could have been within a few feet of the stage but when I varied I saw that even though the ticket said 7, BtS wasn’t going on until 10, so I scoured the venue and a saw a small riser to the back right.  I went up there and stood in the front of it, effectively three feet above everyone.  And I had a perfect view of the stage, so I stood there the whole time.

And boy am I glad.  The floor scene was a madhouse.  I was right above what was essentially the only way in and our once the club had gotten really packed.  People were squeezing past this small opening all night long.  And during the third song, a fight broke out–punches actually thrown!–because someone got in someone (both men of course) else’s way.  I even beer or something thrown in my face.  Stay classy, Asbury Park.

Unlike the previous show, BtS was only a three-piece.  Last show I marveled at Doug Martsch including two other guitarists to share lead duties, but I loved the fullness of the sound. I wasn’t sure what I would think of the band as a three-piece (my friend Jay informed me of the trio set up a few hours before they went on, so at least I was prepared–although I was bummed that Jay couldn’t make the show).

I was a little unconvinced about the sound of the three-piece when the band started.  But that turned out to be a mixing issue.  The drums were too loud, the bassist was inaudible and then Doug was himself.  But by the second song it was perfectly balanced and sounded amazing.

And once the sound was perfected, it came down to setlist.  And that was amazing–this setlist was almost entirely different from my previous show.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2016] Alex G

2016-10-08-21-01-11I hadn’t heard of Alex G before this tour.  He is apparently a prodigy of home recordings, starting his self-released oeuvre when he was 17.  (He’s now 23 and looks to be about 15).

For some reason I’d gotten the impression that he was a shredding guitar god type of prodigy.  But he is not.  He’s more of a pop/experimental/lo-fi song-writing-type prodigy.  He reminded me of Car Seat Headrest both in terms of self released prolific-ness and general style.

He counts Elliott Smith (who I don’t hear) and Doug Martsch of Built to Spill (whom I do hear) as influences. In fact during the set, he stated that Built to Spill was the best band alive today. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2016] J&L Defer

2016-10-08-20-11-43It was raining pretty hard when I left for The Stony Pony.  Doors were at 7, I imagined Alex G (who was billed along with Built to Spill) would go on around 7:30, Built to Spill would go on no later than 9 and I’d be home early.

So I was bummed when I walked in at 7:30 and saw that there was another opening band called J&L Defer and that they would be going on at 8, and that BtS would not be going on until 10.  Ugh.

I assumed that J&L Defer (what a weird name) were some local band.  I was surprised to discover that they were a duo and that they were not there to rock us, but to play some shapeless noodling.  And, as soon as the guitar played a piercing note (opening acts tend to sound worse than the headliner and tend to hurt my ears much more), I got some earplugs. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 16, 2016] Jane’s Addiction

2016-07-16 21.49.18When Jane’s Addiction came out back in the late 1980s, I loved them.  Nothing’s Shocking was my favorite album for a few years and Ritual de lo Habitual was a close second.  There was something about their sense of sleazy and weirdly catchy songs that I totally gravitated towards. I probably should have gone to Lollapalloza that year, but I didn’t.

But then I moved past them.  When they released Strays back in 2003, I didn’t even give it a listen.  Same with The Great Escape Artist in 2011.  I just didn’t care all that much.  I’d also gotten a little overexposed to Dave Navarro and his exploits over the next decade.

And while I was interested in seeing them–especially since they were doing Ritual in its entirety, I was much more excited to see Dinosaur Jr.

But wow, was I impressed by their show.  The most impressive thing for me was the sound quality.  Whether that is chalked up to the venue (I doubt it–outdoor venues aren’t usually that good) or the way they mixed it (more likely), I couldn’t get over how great the band fit together–it sounded like the album (not like it was prerecorded or anything, just really full).  And most of the applause goes to Navarro. (more…)

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