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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Matisyahu w/Dub Trio 11/29/10 Brooklyn Bowl

This is without a doubt the closest I'll ever come to attending shol. Welcome back friends as The 40th installment of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert series takes us back to the venue we began 2010 with- the 'Brooklyn Bowl'- a bowling alley/restaurant/ 600 person capacity concert venue. It's a pretty cool place to see a show-even after dodging all the hipsters flooding the streets of Williamsburg to get there. Tonight we're in for a treat as 'Matisyahu' headlines the first of five consecutive shows in Brooklyn billed “The Festival of Lights”. He does these shows every year in celebration of the Jewish holiday Chanukah.  

For those unfamiliar with his work, Matisyahu is a Hasidic Jewish reggae singer/rapper/beat box extraordinaire. And there is nothing half assed about his religious practices as he sports Tzitzis hanging from his pockets, the two curls of hair on each side of his head swinging with a full beard-and sings reggae as authentic as you'd hear blasting through stereos in Jamaica, while weaving in lines of Hebrew prayer and Yiddish phrases that probably go unnoticed to the naked ear. It's a scene man.

I rolled in about 10 minutes to 8PM; the opening act Dub Trio is suppose to come on at 9pm. With prime real estate in sight right in front of the stage unoccupied- I leaned myself up against it, just left of center and prepped myself for the nights proceedings.

And finally a concert where I'm not the resident Jew in attendance as I'm spotting yamacas everywhere. And the disco ball hanging from the ceiling is in the shape of a dradel. Chanukah is technically 2 days away-but right now I'm already in the holiday's full swing. Times like these make me wish I never dropped out of Hebrew School..

Dub Trio came on stage a couple minutes after 9PM. The guitar and bass player's both had these sort of synthesizer type things set up in front of them, the bass player actually had an Apple laptop sitting there and what appeared to be a pedal/effects board of some sort elevated to hands reach. This is the only time I'll ever probably say that the opening act was substantially louder than the headline; as these guys were as hard rock/experimental metal as much as they were 'dub'. The drummer was epic though, as he seemed to be the only one keeping with the dub flavor-he was a beast. And Dub Trio wasn't a tough act to watch either. Shifting from dub/ska sounds to the heaviest of riffing in a noise filled 40 minute set. I don't even know how many songs they played-it could have all been one song for all I know. They don't have a vocalist so it was strictly business up there. When they went off, there was a dude right by me down in front and he was shouting out to the guitar player something about the slide bar he was using-and the guitar player was a total prick to the dude; wouldn't even shake the dudes hand. I hate to tell you dude, but you're in Dub Trio not Led Zeppelin-you don't have the right to big time one of your six fans in the room. It's not even like they were busy packing up they're gear because Dub Trio is the backing band for Matisyahu. Wouldn't hurt to look over and say “Thanks man” and stick a hand out.

We had a 20 minute break or so before Matisyahu came on. I turned to check the room to see if a quick cigarette run was doable-room was completely packed and it was a situation where I was not going to loose my spot(not only for sight lines but resting my coat and back pack on stage), so I turned back towards stage and a few minutes later the his Holiness had hit the stage. It's party time.

“Darkness into light” was first song they got into. The backing band is the aforementioned Dub Trio-claiming their same places from before. They're not as heavy now as they flow through a few songs but they got progressively heavier as the night went on-some of these Matisyahu reggae jams turned into hard rock songs when performed live. Matisyahu had on a white Yankees hat, a scarf that said “Liverpool” and Adidas high tops with the three lines on each sneakers side colored Red, Yellow and Green-keeping with our Rastafarian theme of the evening. I looked over at the set list on stage and counted twelve songs. I turned to a dude next to me and was like “12 songs setlist?” and he replied with “Watch dude they jam out-it's going to be a late night”. Looking at this list, they had to have played more because I heard(and think I got video of) them doing a song called “Jerusalem” which is not listed. I'm getting lost in these songs-it starts to get trippy when Dub Trio just lays feed back down as Matisyahu chants as if he's facing the whaling wall. At other times during jam outs he was jumping around on stage, possibly doing the C-Walk as he began to headbang during long instrumental jams. Halfway through his hat had flew off and he continued to bang his head metal style with those two curls swinging back and forth as he danced around violently(almost kicking me in the face at least twice) . Looking up at him you could tell he's one of those guys that takes his sets very seriously as he rarely spoke between songs opting to either stare into the crowd with a slight head nod going or some chant that would start soft and intensify into the beginning of the next song. I could swear there were times in the set where he was “Freestyle rapping”, and I got to record a few of his beat boxing sessions. That stuff was epic, as he did it acapella in edition to jumping into jams on the tail end of songs keeping rhythm with the bass and drums keeping it so funky. Such a fun night as I reach for my phone to check the time it was 11:45PM and we're not exactly saying goodnight yet as we were still getting into songs like “Youth” and “I will be Light” before playing “One Day”-a song most of the crowd was shouting for all night. That's when Matisyahu goes over to the guitar player and starts waving his hand around his head signaling for “King Without A Crown”, which they jammed out to for about six and half minutes before saying goodnight to loud roars from the crowd and people like me hounding the roadies for one of the copies of the set list that were taped to the stage(one of which I was able to obtain).

Sweet night I must say. Totally didn't expect Matisyahu to rock out a two hour set list on a Monday night. Hell, there was a lot of stuff tonight I wasn't expecting to witness. It was really fun and we can definitely conclude that this night was a 15 dollars well spent. I would suggest to anyone in the Brooklyn area this week to try and find your way into one of these “festival of light” gigs, as it promises to be an eventful evening to say the least.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fiction Place w/ The Globes Mercury Lounge 11/15/10

Tonight seemed like a 'coming out party' of sorts as Fiction Plane proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's not just the band that feature Sting's son. So people, what goes on? Welcome to the 39th edition of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series which brings us to the Mercury Lounge in New York City to see the band 'Fiction Plane' (Joe Sumner-Bass/Vocals, Seton Daunt-Guitar, Pete Wilhoit-Drums). And there's an interesting sidebar story with tonight's proceedings as it's an “early show”. By early I mean EARLY. Doors are set to open at 6:30 according to 'Bowery Presents' website, which also lists Fiction Plane's set time at 7:30PM. Put it in perspective: Bowery Presents website has info on the later show here tonight and says doors for that open at 8:45.. being a Monday night it doesn't bother me that's it's early.. I'm just psyched to see this band..So I say we take a seat and enjoy this Jay Porks Experience.

Fiction Plane was a band that first came to my attention in 2008 when their single “Two Sisters” started to get major play on local rock stations over here the in big apple. Then I got to see them briefly all the way back at the third ever version of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series-that was a show in NJ where they opened up on that year's 'Unity Tour' w/ 311 and Snoop Dogg. I didn't catch their whole set that day due to long lines while filing into the PNC Bank Arts Center so when I saw them headlining a gig for $12 a ticket I was more than thrilled. Especially at the Mercury Lounge-one of my favorite venues to see a show.

Arrived at 6:15.. I'm used to saying that I hopped out of the cab at this time, but uncharacteristic of my usual laziness-I took public transportation the whole way there.. And patting myself on the back for finding the place without looking up directions either-went on my own memory; which is suspect at times but paid off here. So I walk in and say “Hi, my ticket is a will call”- I was met with a hand to the chest and told " Okay great-We're not open yet. Doors are at 6:30 and first band is going on at 7".. I walk back out and there's a whole 11 people outside( I counted-but then again half of these people may be with one of the bands). Let me tell you why this is the type of place I love to see a show- it's the definition of a 'sweat box'. It's tiny, a foul stench will fill the room once full and it looks like it hadn't passed a building inspection in 20 years. I didn't even remember how small the room was until I got in-it's reminiscent of the living room at my house. There's one guy serving as event staff and he's at the door check I.D.'s. As 7PM draws closer I see we're up to at least 30- something people now. I'm sitting along the bench on the wall placing my cup on the stage to reserve the space for now-as I'm gonna enjoy a seat as long as I can before the show starts... I think I'm going to have to back up when the bands come on to try and get my camera in better position. As I'm sitting there starting this review on my iPod I notice an older couple sat down next to me. Not older like 30 or 40, older like senior discount. Minutes pass and at least two or three other couples in the same age range walked in-I saw one woman looking for a seat so I offered her mine. Can't pass up a easy mitzvah when it presents itself.

The Globes hailing from Spokane, Washington, hit the stage a minute or two after 7.. working with Two guitarists(who share vocal duties), drummer with a bass player doubling on keyboard. Whenever I see any type of keyboard on stage I get discouraged a bit-but I got into these dudes fairly quickly.. Guitar player on my side of the stage was working multiple pedals below him distorting noises much to my enjoyment. They do a lot of start-stop/ loud quiet loud stuff with their sound; by the third song in these dudes were rocking hard- riffin heavy guitars building up during verses leading to softer choruses with harmonically sang vocals at times. The drummer had on a Modest Mouse tee shirt. These guys look like they're gonna smack their instruments together as they are so close to each other on this small stage violently rocking back and forth with each strum. They kept thanking us and seemed very happy to be here. Well, we were happy to have them as The Globes went off at 7:40PM to substantial applause from the growing crowd. I noticed on their MySpace page that they're playing a show Friday(11/19) in Brooklyn at a place called 'The Rock Shop'. If you're in town you should check them out-won't be let down.

I'm a pessimist at heart-so it's surprising to me that this place is not as empty as I thought it would be, as I returned from my mid-band cigarette to find myself not able to get back to my spot against the stage. Wasn't mad about it because I needed to back up anyway- so now I'm standing about 4 or 5 rows of people back as the crowd pushes themselves closer to the stage as minutes pass. Joe Sumner is on stage discussing with a roadie the status of an acoustic guitar they seemed to be having trouble with. Finally Joe says over the mic to the sound guy “It's broken-so I guess fuck it”.

They kicked the set off with a song called “Two Sparks”- a tune easy to sing along to through your first listen as people begin to do- screaming the “We're gonna burn you!” line of the song. The room has filled out nicely by now, as I'm being bumped into on occasion. I thought I was in here to enjoy the handful of Fiction Plane songs I'm familiar with-not the case at all. As each song went by I kept thinking “Wow-this legitimately rocks”. Two things I quickly noticed while these dudes were playing: 1)This guitar player insane! And 2) Joe Sumner is having tons of fun up there. He's jumping around, leaning into the crowd, bullshitting in-between songs all smiles all night. Like when they jumped into the song “It's A Lie” a few songs later-he joked about having to “sing high on this next one”. Seton Daunt is the aforementioned guitar player-and man he's doing some amazing stuff over there. Dude had a pedal board of Mascis-type proportions. Sumner introduced the band more than once- “I'm a registered alien” Joe says before he pointed to the drums “Pete Wilhoit behind the drums..He's an American (to a loud cheer)... And on guitar Seton Daunt who is a foreigner!”(to a louder cheer).. Also when the opportunity presented itself Sumner hit us with some funky bass grooves. And even though sometimes unfairly tagged as Sting's son's band-there were times where one would look up and hear those dashes of Ska along with singer playing bass; it's hard not to say “Wow, these guys are like 'The Police' meets 90's alternative!”. At the same time Sumner's demeanor and stage presence makes you realize that people would probably think higher of Sting if he wasn't such a Prick. Yes, I said it. Obviously I've never had the privilege to meet the man or had a personal discussion of any sort with him. But he just comes off to me as a prick; complete opposite of his fun loving, energetic and entertaining(along with hard rockin') son. As songs play Sumner seemed to be enjoying us as a crowd(the building was literally ROCKING as I felt the floor below me basically bouncing with thumps for most of the night-felt like it was going to caved in). He said he was enjoying us more than we were enjoying the band-kept saying how great it was to finally be back in NYC and saying things like “from here you guys are doing amazing!”.. Easy to be a good crowd when a rocking band is As the night progressed I was impressed more and more. It's getting really hot in here, Sumner seems to agree as he takes his leather jacket off midway through the night. Their sound is far from complacent as we shifted from Ska/Reggae flavors to pretty heavy, almost headbanging type levels of rocking throughout the evening. There are two girls in front of me who are way into this-flailing arms in the air, dancing around and screaming with unbridled enthusiasm at the start of most songs. I mean, a hand or two may have gotten in the way of the video I was recording, but I'm not here to complain about fans enjoying a show. I'd be doing that if I wasn't “working”. The crowd was summoned for assistance in singing on a few songs- “Tommy” off their 3rd full length studio effort 'Sparks', which was released earlier this year. “Why don't I have more than one of their records?” is what I kept asking myself. “Sadr City Blues” was another one of the endless amazing songs they played-Unfortunately I was not able to obtain an official set list but a reader of this on named Wendy found it for me and I will paste it to the bottom of this post.

My cell phone shows me 8:45PM so I know we're closing this out soon... as we got towards the end of the night, Sumner looks at the set list and says “Okay whats next... well, the guitar is broken so I guess we can't play that one!” as they then jump into their most popular song to date “Two Sisters”.. I was singing along as quietly as possible because I was trying get video on that one. Extended it a little bit as the song went for roughly six minutes. Anyone who's been to a concert knows that feeling you get when you finally hear that favorite song you have by the band you came to see that night. A state of bliss that can only be match by sex or the taking of illegal substances. I was totally walking on air at that point as a journalist turned prissy little fan boy-they played one or two more before 9PM rolled around and it was time to say goodnight..

What a night! Fiction Plane took care of business tonight in every sense of the phrase. I'll be the first to admit in all honesty I did not think they would rock THAT hard. I underestimated them and in return got blown away. I'm at the iTunes store as we speak getting more of their music to put on my iPod. Why aren't these dudes more known? Their sound is so easy for your ears to get along with-down right funky at times. It can't be denied that this is a lot more that “The band Sting's son is in”, but don't take my word for it-take me up on this offer: See them live and if you exit the venue anything less than blown away then shoot over an email and the Jay Porks Experience will personally refund what you paid for you ticket. That's how confident we are in the musical abilities of Fiction Plane.. it's a sure thing.

For those who made it this far, our deepest thanks go out to you for taking a glimpse into the Jay Porks Experience. Next on the concert calender is 'Matisyahu' 11/29 at the Brooklyn Bowl.. should be fun-hope to see you there. LATE.

Official set list as handwritten by Joe Sumner:
It’s A Lie
Drink (not played due to acoustic guitar situation)
La La La