Nov 1, 2006

NY Night Train @ Rocks in Your Head

I just got back from the New York Night Train showcase about an hour ago. It was a pleasant experience. I had never been to Rocks in Your Head (in Brooklyn). As I rounded the corner I could hear music...loud. Both Rocks in Your Head and the cafe next door (I think it's called Oslo) have these huge, floor to ceiling metal and glass doors. Rocks in Your Head's were open with the bands performing essentially in the storefront, with everyone watching standing or sitting on the sidewalk. So that was an interesting little set up. Nice to get some air since it's not that cold...yet.

Anyway...I missed the first band, possibly the second since I don't get out of work until 5:30ish. I'm not sure who I missed because I literally heard the last 30 seconds of someone's set as I was walking up to the store at about 6:15.

Luckily I was able to catch Grand Mal. I hadn't heard any of their stuff until last night when I was trying to figure out which shows to go to. I listened to the songs on their myspace last night and really liked them.

I have been listening to a lot of music for this year's CMJ since there aren't that many bands I am dying to see, and quite honestly I haven't been impressed. A lot of these bands that everyone is raving about...I've checked out their stuff and a lot of it just seems kind of eh...or they sound like a band I listened to 10 minutes earlier...or I just don't like em.

Grand Mal however did not sound like any of the bands I had been checking out. Just nice rock...nothing gimmicky about it. The lead singer's voice is a little vaguely Dylan-ish every now and then, but then he'll start really singing and the band will kick in and rock. Their set was good...a little more mellow than I expected at times, but on the other hand there were a few numbers where the band was really into it. The other thing I noticed was the singer seemed to be singing a bit on the soft side, especially compared to what I had listened to before. Maybe it was the set-up? Who knows? Overall though I thought they were pretty rocking.

Damon McMahon was the next act. I really enjoyed his set as usual. He played two new(er) songs that are not on the album, that I heard him play this summer when he was at the Knitting Factory. Then he played a song by ________? I want to say Gene Kelly, but I really can't remember. He also played another song (one of his own) that I don't think I've ever heard him do before which was interesting. Need another listen or two to get a better feel for it. He closed with Elizabeth Taylor and Not a Slave.

Though there isn't technically a single for the album, Elizabeth Taylor would probably be it. It was the first song up on Damon's myspace page and the only one for a while, which is about as close to a single as you can get without actually having one. Everytime I listen to Mansions (Damon's album) I try to deny that Elizabeth Taylor is my favorite song...but then I get up to that track and something about it gets me everytime. I still won't say it's my favorite because the entire album is so good...but that's somethin.

So of course, live Elizabeth Taylor was excellent. It starts out so calmly, going through the story, and then by the end you have Damon's voice just pushing out those lyrics with all this feeling behind it. It is an awesome experience. Not a Slave kind of does that too, but in a different way. It's a little more quirky (I mean that in a good way) in the beginning, then goes through the story, then just builds to a great end...which was a great way to end the set.

Also, I feel I should mention that Damon played electric instead of acoustic guitar which was an interesting change. All the other times I've seen Damon play it's been acoustic with the exception of one time at Tonic where he had a whole band behind him (which I thought was a bit weird). Apparently though, not counting tonight that's the norm. I actually didn't even notice the difference that much just sounded louder and a little more, well, didn't hear every string which was fine. I think I might have focused on the vocals more because of it, but didn't realize any of this until afterwards.

Before his set I chatted with Damon for a little bit and apparently what I read the other day is true...Inouk exists again...but he is not a part of it anymore. So the Astralwerks showcase on Friday night should be interesting since Inouk go on first, followed by Damon. Also, I personally can't picture Inouk without Damon. While I think Inouk has a very unique sound in terms of their instruments, I feel that a big part of their sound came from the combination of both Alex and Damon's voices. So it's hard for me picture Inouk without Damon. I'm trying to keep an open mind about Friday's show. The band is really good, so maybe a different vocalist won't matter that much, especially if he's good too. Also, I'm wondering how much old Inouk stuff they will play. Should be interesting.

Hopewell was next. They are another new band for me. I liked them...I wasn't crazy about them though. I think I need to see them again to form a better opinion. The two songs I recognized were Monolith and Calcutta. They played a song towards the end of their set that sound very different from the rest that I really liked. Unfortunately that's all I can remember about it. Overall I liked the band, but the singer's voice was kind of getting to me, and I'm not sure why, but that will pretty much make or break me liking a band.

There was one more band after that...but the standing outside, plus me not dressing warmly enough, plus working all day took its toll on me, so I called it a night after that.

All in all it was a lovely low key music, old crazy cmj crowds!!


Anonymous,  7:12 PM  
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