Leading up to this weekend, shows have been hard to come by this calendar year, however that was about to change. On Thursday I was going to see The Antlers with Dinosaur Feathers while on Sunday I planned on seeing Cap’n Jazz twice, once with Lightning Bolt and No Age and the other with Gauge.
Thursday night, The Antlers played a free concert as a part of the Hudson River Park’s River Rocks concert series at Pier 54. The picturesque night started with melodious three-piece known as Dinosaur Feathers. While they will not blow anyone away with any sort of dramatic climaxes or intricate passages, Dinosaur Feathers make up for that with their precision and dreamy pop songs, such as “Teenage Whores.” Unfortunately for Dinosaur Feathers, the generator powering the show went down during the middle of their set, which caused a nearly thirty minute delay and Dinosaur Feathers to play at about a quarter of the original volume without electronically produced drums supporting their sound, all while organizers scrambled to get another generator for The Antlers’ set. Dinosaur Feathers could have easily stopped playing, but they persevered through the technical difficulties, and they deserve a heap of credit for keeping a somewhat disgruntled crowd happy.
Once The Antlers took the stage, another generator was in place and the sun was setting over the Hudson. Flowers lined two keyboards as “Kettering” began ever so softly. One detail that The Antlers do so well with their live shows is play their album in a vastly different style, in the sense that songs are able to build larger than ever. Peter Silberman takes a minimalist approach, hardly strumming like that found on Hospice (for instance, the encore, “Epilogue” was play with sparse strums, rather than constant strumming). Additionally, since the show was in their neighborhood, they were accompanied by a duo horn section that added that extra layer of awe behind every track, specifically “Wake.” As for the show overall, The Antlers played a solid set with some unexpected, dynamic climaxes within “Epilogue” and “Silvia,” in addition to playing two new songs, one of which they stated they have yet to play live. Both songs are something to look out for, as they extend into a slightly more poppy realm, yet the same atmospheric aura that has surrounded their sound since their earliest recordings. Seeing The Antlers is a rather emotional experience, as much as it is sonic, as Silberman plays as if it will be the last time anyone will hear The Antlers for the rest of their life. With that, granted you do not mind a colossal building project throughout a set, The Antlers are a must-see for fans alike.
Sunday marked the day Cap’n Jazz returned to the New York City area, playing one show free of charge with Lightning Bolt, No Age, and TheDeadSet and another show at Hoboken’s quaint Maxwell’s with Gauge. Seeing as the first show started around 2:30PM and the second at 9:30PM EST, I figured I could and would attend both shows. Arriving in Brooklyn for the now annual Jelly’s Pool Parties, I finally moseyed my way to the show that had thousands already in attendance by the time I had arrived. As I turn my back away from the stage toward the New York City skyline, I saw clouds of death approaching the outdoor show. Fuck. TheDeathSet started with their rambunctious punk rock, which was splendid, until concertgoers realized that this would likely be the last band they saw on this stage. As the rain poured down, there was an announcement that the show would be moved to the Brooklyn Bowl, and it was officially every man, woman, and child for themselves to sprawl across three blocks and make it in before the 700 person capacity was reached. Making my way with Zach Savage (iarescientists, of course), we were rather close to the doors, just around the corner of the building. However, our fate was doomed, as they were at capacity essentially when we arrive. In that instant, hopes were dashed, and I would have to wait another day to see at least Lightning Bolt and No Age, both of whom I had fancied quite a bit in the past month. Thankfully, my hopes were not completely gone for Cap’n Jazz, as I bought the wisest show insurance policy to date.
Originally, Maxwell’s had listed the Cap’n Jazz show as simply ‘Tim Kinsella,’ a $15 show to be played with Gauge, another Chicago band from Cap’n Jazz’s heydays. Thanks to a tip from the Brooklyn Vegan website, I purchased a ticket to what I now saw as a Cap’n Jazz show. Gauge started, as the crowd patiently and respectfully listened to Gauge, however it is not farfetched to believe that not one person out of the select 200 people there remembered much from Gauge’s set, myself included. As Cap’n Jazz set up, they first had to walk through the crowd to get to the stage, which adds to the vibe Maxwell’s brings as a cozy venue, which later became a bit too cozy.
As fans heard through Cap’n Jazz’s monitors ‘all set,’ the place erupted. “Yes, I Am Talking to You” began with Kinsella’s distinct and lovely wail. Everyone was moving, singing, and blissfully taking in the moment as Kinsella took in the enthusiasm of the crowd and embraced the energy flowing through the tiny showroom. Continuing, Cap’n Jazz played nearly every notable song in their catalogue such as “Oh Messy Life,” “Little League,” “Que Suerte!,” “Tokyo,” and “In The Clear.” One of the more memorable moments was when Kinsella took out what appeared to be a lyric sheet, showing the long layover had quite the effect, however it added to the charm of their presence. However, you could tell the band thoroughly enjoyed every moment of their reunion and the warm embrace of fans, removed from one or two nuisances, which I barely want to talk about. In short, a drunken idiot (not worthy of being called a fan), continually went on stage and sang from any open microphone, in addition to nearly choking Kinsella when he hung on to sing with him, which then led to a sighting of Lucifer himself through Kinsella’s eyes, and it was only during the first song. Needless to say, Kinsella was genuinely pissed and wary of this jackass throughout the show (somehow he was not kicked out after constant harassment and confrontations), and unfortunately took away from a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Ending their dynamic set was “Precious,” “Take On Me,” and “Ooh Do I Love You,” and as the cymbals crashed repeatedly during “Ooh Do I Love You,” you could sense no one wanted to hear that final crash, but Cap’n Jazz were near the end of a marathon of a day.
While the past few days hardly reciprocated what I had imagined, it was certainly a reminder of how show experiences are hardly perfect, but also how no matter how many times you listen to an album, that if you have yet to hear that band live, it simply does not do equivocate. So next time one of your favorite bands are in the area, do not question the scenarios of what might happen, drive that extra hour, sacrifice that social event, and maybe even invest in a ticket at the next closest venue too, because you never know when you will need that insurance policy.