Sunday, February 26, 2006

So this is karma...

or, Vacation: teacher-blogger turns music, art, & book critic.

I saw Stars play at Webster Hall last night.

Magnet opened. His is music to swim in: soft, sincere lyrics, melodies that remind me a bit of sixties folk or really old British traditional music, and all of it immersed in a wash of electronic sounds that he creates and then gently pushes out into the room. I don't have a very good vocabulary for describing music, so here's his own description:
"It's almost impossible for me to describe it, but, for me, it sounds like an optimistic and kind of expectant piece of music that deals with slightly serious stuff but doesn't really have a sad feel. It's been described to me as electronic-ana, as in Americana. I think that's sort of humble. Some of the sound scapes are sort of ambitious and big and lush, and then there's a humbleness to it as well."

I liked it a lot. I wanted to watch him play, as the man is sexy in an understated, black long-sleeve t-shirt kind of way. I wanted to close my eyes and let it pour around me.

And that's where karma kicked in. I am a lightning rod for loud, rude people at concerts. This time, it was two Columbia girls who arrived mid-way through the set, stood right behind me, and then, Okay, let me finish my story.... She thinks Mike is attractive. There must be a lot of Columbia kids here. Those people at the bar should be quiet.

No: you should be quiet! Don't you see how still and rapt everyone around you is standing?

At last it hit me. I am paying for a June night when I sat on the lawn in Central Park with a group of friends, picnicking and drinking wine and talking our heads off as the elderly couple on a blanket in front of us tried to listen to the opera. Years have passed, but I am paying. Let this be a lesson.

So, Magnet. You can listen to Little Miss More or Less and other songs.

Stars are the inverse of Magnet. In every way that he is understated, they are overstated. I love them for this beautiful melodrama, for the brass table lamps that switch on one by one as they come on stage, for the backdrop of tiny points of light, for the drummer's red t-shirt, red mohawk, suspenders, & playful grimaces, for Genevieve's violin, for Torquil's horns and the sense that under his bravado, he is a frail soul. There are lots of songs to listen to on their website; go to the section called "Album" and click on the name of the song. Let me recommend Heart:
Time can take its toll on the best of us
Look at you you're growing old so young
Traffic lights blink at you in the evening
Tilt your head and turn it to the sun
Sometimes the TV is like a lover
Singing softly as you fall asleep
You wake up in the morning and it's still there
Adding up the things you'll never be

(This song is from an earlier album, also titled "Heart" - to find it, click on the thumbnail beneath the image of their current album).


Blogger Sean Koehler said...

Bad karma didn't just reveal itself through loud conversations. Tell everyone how horrid the sound was at that show! Stars were incredible, but the bass was waaaay too loud. For entire songs the lyrics and guitar were inaudible over the blown-out subwoofers. It was as if the sound was equalized for the next night's Ludacris show. Ugh I will never ever go to Webster hall. Never ever again.

12:05 PM  

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