Note: in the spirit of laziness, some of this is re-posted from things I wrote for
Metroblogging NYC about Agora [mb] and the Rosebuds [mb]
By the time I dragged myself out of bed and to Lincoln Center to meet Ellen for lunch, it was well after 2:30 and we were both starving; so we went to Whole Foods and got lunch by the pound. This is a tasty and odd way to eat, knowing how many pounds of food you're putting in your stomach. But the grocery cafe is neat and has color changing walls and large plastic bowls to fill with Indian cuisine and the chekcout line is amazingly efficient.
With our hunger put to rest, we set off to visit MoMA. It apparently recently opened in a brand new building that is completely excellent. Even if the art was crappy (which it isn't, quite the opposite), it would be worth the price of admission just to walk through the building.
Inside, we saw so much good art that I wondered how anything decent was left for any other museum. Ellen showed me the thought-defying Hippopotamus Poison by Paul Thek. The best (and most appropriate by far) picture [jpg] I could find of it online was from some kids' trip to New York [#]. There were also a lot of pieces that I'd seen in postcard form. There was an amazing room with more than forty speakers, each corresponding to one part of a choral piece of music whose title escapes me. Another favorite was the room dedicated to what to do with the High LIne, an abandoned elevated railway [moma].
After a snack break at Ellen's favorite new york cafe called Starbuck's, we headed off to our favorite non-hipster Williamsburg bar, where we met up with Malinda, Al, and Chris and caught up and listened to Nada Surf until it was time to leave to get slices of pizza while walking to meet Kip and Florian and Dan at the pool for Agora.
Although some might hear the phrase "modern dance" and run screaming, Agora is an exception. Taking place in the McCarren pool, which had been closed for nearly two decades and was left in disrepair. For this site-specific dance piece, they opened the multiple football field sized concrete expanse. [sensproduction.org]
Even though I'd been scarred by well intentioned undergrads dancing to bad Peter Gabriel I managed to enjoy it. Heck, the mystery of seeing the inside of the pool was worth the price of admission. Beyond the thrill of passing through the giant brick arches, past the defunct-looking tiki hut where tickets are scanned, and into the open space to claim a ledge seat to dangle one's legs into the non-existent water, there was the bonus of an amazing performance.
The piece aims to ". . . produce the illusion of travel through the different layers of visceral urban experiences and explore the phenomenon of agoraphobia as a social and physical reaction to urban architecture." The central conflict of the show is the already mentioned enormous scale of the venue and the impossibility of actually filling it with performers. The challenge is met by having a lot of things happening at the same time, waxing and waning numbers of separate vignettes orbiting around occasional central elements and exploding into themes that consume the entire space. Because of this, viewers who choose to stay anchored in one place are unlikely to see everything that's happening, which (I think) plays nicely into the message of the piece. Oh, and there's also a guy with a television.
After the dance thing, we returned to our favorite bar rather than face the hipsters who Ellen and Dan despise. After a drink or so, I decided to go back to Manhattan to try to see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
On the way, I met up with Whitney and friends at yet another unnamed bar. I don't even think that I forgot the name of the place, it just might not have one. It seems unlikely that chatting for a bit killed our chances to see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, but it's possible.
That is, when we arrived for the show, there were two lines streteching from the door of the Mercury Lounge to the respective corners of the block. The door guy told us that we had no chance of getting in, particularly if we wanted to use our CMJ badges.
The first thing that you should know is that when you see the indie kids or indie kid wannabes parading around town with the pretty sparkly silver passes around their necks is to not feel too bad about being left out of the latest, but thankfully time-limited, fashion trend. The reason to feel not so awful about not having a badge is that as cool as they are to have, they aren't nearly as useful as this naive visitor might have imagined. For instance, having press credentials does not get one into shows minutes before showtime. For this privilege, you either need to be on the list or to be waiting outside well in advance of your favorite performer's set.
Despite Whitney's best attempts to call in connections and my optimism that the line would be magically admitted to the very small Mercury Lounge, more practical heads prevailed and we managed to gain entrance to hear Crooked Fingers, who played to an adoring wall-to-wall crowd at Rothko for the kexp showcase.
At the end of the set, many fans spilled out of the club, leaving a pleasantly filled room of people awaiting the Rosebuds. They're described as a husband and wife duo, but there was a third member playing the drums. How he fits into the central married life metaphor for the band remains unclear. Because of the intricacies of the getting into clubs with CMJ badges situation, I suspect that many who made it to the end of the evening had been holed up inside for much of the evening; so it was very much like entering a den of drunken North Carolinian inspired sailors, as they appreciatively received the poppy songwriting wisdom from the stage. Despite a minor keyboard snafu at the end (which inspired a sing/clap along), the show went well and was actually pretty fun.