It’s Like New York City in the Daylight
Saturday, July 12th 2008
The Filmore at Irving Plaza,
It’s not that often that I travel to New York to see shows, and it’s even less often that I pay three times face value for a ticket, so needless to say, I had pretty high hopes going to see Alkaline Trio at The Filmore at Irving Plaza in New York’s Union Square. Now my day was already going pretty well considering I had just come from the Mets game, where Pedro Martinez and a host of relievers had 1-hit the Rockies for a 3-0 win. When I walked into the venue, I was taken aback by how small it was, and was relieved to see that, unlike the show at Toad’s Place in New Haven three weeks earlier, the crowd wasn’t split down the middle by an intrusive barrier. What a concept.
Not I have to say that I love seeing bands live, and I can almost always find something memorable or exciting in every performance. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I walked out of a show disappointed. In that respect, my show reviews are probably quite biased. So maybe if you asked one of the people standing up on the balcony or in the back by the bar, they might say this show wasn’t all that great. I would tell them they needed to have their head checked, because if you ask me, or the hundreds of people I ran into (literally) throughout the set, we would all say it was incredible, and provided about as much fun as you can possibly have at a show. From the nearly perfect set-list to the great crowd, it somehow exceeded my expectations and set the bar so high that I almost sure it won’t be met anytime soon.
The first band to take the stage was the Fasion. I was completely impressed by their set in New Haven, so I picked up their cd and was likewise impressed, but in an odd sort of way. The lyrics, for the most part, are bad. While I usually put a lot of emphasis on lyrics, I can let it slide here because these guys are writing in a second language, and I’m guessing if I tried to write lyrics in Dutch, they would be pretty bad. Actually, if I tried writing lyrics in English, they would also be pretty bad. Anyway, when you play music that is simply this much fun, who cares about song meanings? So many memorable guitar riffs and bouncy dance beats. Watching lead singer Jakob Priztlau dance around stage is beyond amusing, and I was left wondering why every opening band can’t be this good. They played for about half and hour, and closed out their set on a very high not, playing like “Like Knives” and “Vampire With Gold Teeth” before leaving the stage to a good deal of applause.
Next up was veteran Oakland punk band American Steel. Now I only have their latest cd, the extremely well-done “Destroy Their Future.” Apparently, their best record was their first, and this is was why I was surprised that I recognized almost every song they played. While you would think this would leave their fans a bit unhappy, the small group of people singing along and causing somewhat of a ruckus seemed absolutely thrilled with the set. I was pretty happy with it as well, and would love to see at a headlining show sometime soon.
And next up was, of course, an agonizingly long wait for Alkaline Trio. Again. This one was around 40 minutes. Now Irving Plaza features this projection screen that is rolled down in front of the stage during set changes. Such an idea has great potential, for I don’t think anyone would mind seeing music videos or something along those lines while waiting. However, 40 minutes of distorted, psychedelic nonsense really only makes the wait worse. But finally, the projection screen went up and the band took the stage. Matt grabbed his guitar from a stage hand and practically ran over to the mic to shout out the first lines of “Calling All Skeleton,” and the crowd immediately went into a frenzy. From what I’ve experienced, you can tell a lot about how a show will play out based on the opening song, and I knew this was going to be great.
The band would then play old favorite “Nose Over Tail” and then another new song “I Found Away.” Now I could go on and on about how each song was, but I might as well just say that the entire set completely ruled. The set list was surprisingly different than the one from New Haven, and they ended up playing five new “Agony and Irony” songs all together, all of which were well received. The crowd was a diverse bunch, including high school kids all the way up to 30-somethings who had been fans since “Goddamnit” was realeased more than ten years ago. I was beyond thrilled to hear them play three b-side type songs, “Warbrain,” “Dead and Broken,” and “Old School Reasons.”
While the set list was great, I don’t think this show would have been nearly as much fun without the amazing crowd that was there to see it. It’s very rare that every person knows every word to every song and is willing to screem them back to the band. It’s even more rare that this happens when the band plays a mix of old and new songs and even includes a few b-sides. Walking out of the venue that night, it was impossibe not to feel like you were part of something amazing, like some type of secret community that most of the world hasn’t been lucky enough to discover. At one point between songs, Matt said something that, while as cliche as can be, seemed extremely poignant.”We want to thank you so much for being here, becasue even when times are tough, we’ve always got each other.” As the band then broke into the classic “Goodbye Forever,” everyone in the crowd knew it was true, cliche or not.
Alkaline Trio Set List (probably not in order)
Calling All Skeletons
Nose Over Tail
I Found Away
I Lied My Face Off
Old School Reasons
Dead and Broken
Do You Want To Know
This Could Be Love
For Your Lungs Only
P.S. Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, and Thrice tour this fall. Apparently October 14th and 15th at Hammerstein Ballroom, probably won’t be officially announced for a while though. Best tour ever?