Saturday saw a brief intersection with the great outdoors...Truly no better place to commune with a thunder & lightning frenzy than the outdoors balcony on the 16th floor.
After that particular slice of entertainment concluded, it was time to submerge once again in the concrete innards of the Palms.
Let's take a quick moment to thank not only the Matador folks, but The Palms (!), & mention that it was more of a photo shoot for an interiors magazine than a room. Very impressive...
Grogginess did not recede until the first notes were struck from Girls, (hailing from San Francisco). Their woozy psych pop decorated with lashings of feedback was the perfect tonic for one struggling to get their brains and motor skills in order.
Everyone has their biases, and my awaited moment of the weekend was the infrequent resuscitation of Come, from Boston. Fresh off a warmup gig at the Middle East in Cambridge, this would be the second and final performance of their 2010 outing, and they left nothing behind. Considering the interlocking guitar weaves of their songs, (think heavier/darker Television), it's really a testament that they can appear out of nowhere and be as tight as they are. For me, they were always more a force of nature than a band.
Suddenly, it was time for the one and only Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, which, for the uninitiated, is a trio that throws the basic James Brown stomp into a punk blender, led by a howling madman who will manage to namecheck the band hundreds of times within the set. Pure entertainment. Interesting that Mr. Spencer hasn't gotten his due for an advanced recognition of the Power of Branding way back in the '90's...
Supper was a tough call, and it was made at the expense of Perfume Genius, whom i had been looking forward to very much...
Cat Power hit the stage with only an electric guitar, kicking off with her take on the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction", before ceding the stage to the Dirty Delta Blues Band, and rolling into a more familiar set.
(PS: West Coasters, if you've never seen Cat Power, look up her date at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur at the end of October. Should be a magical show...)
Superchunk, like Sonic Youth the previous evening, raised a flag for the oldsters, hitting the stage running and never looking back in a short set that mixed in some new stuff, but relied on their classics at opportune moments, including a slam/bang closing of "Slack Motherfucker" and "Precision Auto". Looking forward to seeing their whole set at the Wiltern Theater in L.A. later this month.
Spoon's set left me with mixed feelings...the music was razor sharp, the band was in form, and Britt Daniels was in his element. What held this back from being a weekend defining set, (for me), was the lighting setup. On the plus side, it seemed like they scavenged what was left of Pavement's overhead string lights for decorative purposes...on the not so plus side, the spotlights behind the band members shining directly into the audience were so overbearing I gave up after a handful of songs and watched the proceedings from the bar. After so many shows in a row, perhaps I was oversensitive, but it felt like my brain was being drilled into, and i could not discern what impact they hoped to achieve. In the vindication department, several times between songs, audience members could be heard screaming "lose the lights". And, quite frankly, this is a band with such a deep catalogue that they could have played with the house lights up, and it wouldn't have mattered. Notable high point of the set was a cover of the late Jay Reatard's 'No Time', that made up for the lighting shenanigans.
Capping off a lovely evening, and showcasing their newest album, were the inimitable Belle & Sebastian, who swelled the stage to almost 'Lyle Lovettl-esque' proportions. Any questions about their stature as a headliner were answered by a charming set delivered to an audience of devotees. If there will ever be another Smiths, in terms of audience adoration, this unit could be it. At one point in the set, Stuart Murdoch unleashed some autographed footballs into the audience, (rivalling the prowess he would demonstrate later in the evening at drunken hoops in the Hardwood Suite). The topper was bringing up random audience members onstage for their moment of glory, and then presenting them with medals...A classy, (and humorous), act all the way.
The post festivities featured brand new act Esben and The Witch leading off, with a powerfully hypnotic set.
Cold Cave and Dead Meadow followed to run things into the wee hours, but alas, without me...