Where NY music fanaticism and NY Mets fanaticism need not be mutually exclusive. Next year is now, bitches!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Weekender Stuff.....

Hey now. Last night's Tiswas shindig at Don Hill's here in NYC was a bit of a mixed bag to say the least. On one hand, it's proof that having a guest DJ really does bring the peeps out--it was as crowded as I'd ever seen it (at least at 1 AM when the DJs take over). This was in stark contrast to two weeks ago, which I did not attend, but MMM claims featured about 8 people and was nothing short of depressing. Weekly parties seldom have a lifespan longer than 5 years or so, but Tiswas has been around for 10, and the turnout last night was a quick riposte to the idea that the party is dead in the water.

The guest DJ in question was The Charlatans' frontman Tim Burgess, appropriate because he has a vocal spot on the new Chemical Brothers' record, and the party was billed as 'release celebration' for said record. Burgess didn't go it alone, there was another dude in the booth at nearly all times (supposedly part of the Great British House (GBH) crew of Lotus fame), and it seemed to be a bit of a tag team effort, which didn't exactly annure to the party's benefit. When the duo rolled out the expected Tiswas hits (Happy Mondays, Clash, Strokes etc.), it was muy enjoyable, but there was at least a 45 minute lull consisting of nothing but old soul numbers and reggae that nobody (including myself) was familiar with, killing the momentum. It was quite amusing however to see Burgess completely stoked to hear his vocal contributions to the Chems track "The Boxer" blaring over the PA. But while he clearly seemed to enjoy the selections he played from his band's Up at the Lake album, several party goers appeared confused, most likely because that excellent record still hasn't been released here. Hopefully The Charlatans' new record deal with Sanctuary will clear that up. Last round of complaints- a $15 cover charge despite the abundance of posters made for the occasion clearly advertising $10, and the playing of a song from the second Libertines record. The first one is pretty bitchin', but one should never have to hear anything from the second Libertines record at a party, unless the host is dying to send folks packin'.

Bloggers rejoice! The feverishly anticpated New York City Arcade Fire shows are this week.

This is sort of funny...if you attempt to visit the Fiery Furnaces website and forget to include a 'the' before the band name, you're actually taken to a site where you can buy actual household furnaces. Maybe I'm just easily amused. I didn't care for Blueberry Boat nearly as much as the majority of the blogosphere, but I must say that their recently released EP is most excellent and extremely cheery; especially the first three songs. Great listening for those with short attention spans such as myself.

Obligatory Sleater-Kinney note-The Carrie portion of their website was recently updated. Apparently she listens to the Grateful Dead and worships Curb Your Enthusiasm and Strangers With Candy. No surprise. You need good taste to rock that hard.

You may have realized that this site has featured practically nothing from the sports world as of late...expect that to be the norm until Spring Training begins. There's plenty of devoted sports blogs that can cover the offseason (baseball anyway....) stuff far better than I, and I've had even less time to post as of late due to job commitments/stress. Posting about NYC music is quicker and easier. But expect to see plenty of twisted Mets-oriented content from a disgruntled fan when the season begins.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Word Gets Around....

For the past week, the company line on nearly every blog/indie site imaginable regarding the new Bright Eyes releases has been that I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, is a career high watermark, while Digital Ash in a Digital Urn is considerably weak.

The latter has not been lost on consumers. Just this afternoon I went into J&R Music World to purchase Wide Awake, only to find that it was completely sold out. There were about 19 copies of Digital Urn for sale. And who says that Oberst fans will purchase anything his cute mug is associated with?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Some Cities bring me diamonds....Some Cities bring me gold...

Apologies for never writing in this thing anymore. I'm still adjusting to the new job, and stress levels the likes of which I've seen....well....never.

Firstly, it's bad enough that Mercury Rev's The Secret Migration came out in the UK on Monday while us Yanks won't see a release on these shores until May (especially egregious considering the Rev are, uh, American and stuff). This is a seriously stupid move on the part of V2 seeing as Mercury Rev easily have a large enough fanbase to...I dunno....sell out Irving Plaza 3 nights in a row, and due to the nature of their cult fanbase, releasing the album in May isn't going to increase sales.

But what's worse is that the album was initially going to be available in full on iTunes on 1/25. Lame, but fair enough. Instead, now iTunes is only offering an "EP" of the first four songs on The Secret Migration. So if you're a huge Mercury Rev fan who is law abiding, you'll pay for these four songs now, and then pay for them again when the record finally comes out. Not cool. Furthermore, the lead off track, "Secret For a Song" has already been available on iTunes for awhile now. So in theory, you could end up paying for that single song 3 times (I suppose you wouldn't have to click it everytime it was offered, but still)! It's a good track, but not that good. What does this translate to? Download it illegally as much as humanly possible, and then be a good sport and buy it in May. Something this incredibly asinine could only be thought up by a record executive.

Elsewhere, my colleagues at cokemachineglow were nice enough to hook me up with a not so legal leak of Doves' Some Cities. Although I have yet to leave the "honeymoon" period with the album, it's a winner so far. Splits the difference between the first two....not as haunted as Lost Souls, not as cheery as Last Broadcast. Highlights so far are easily the swingin' "Black and White Town," "Snowden," "One of These Days" and "The Storm." The only noticeable blight is "Walk in Fire," which is practically a cover of "There Goes the Fear" in a different key. C'mon guys, Doves fans are too intelligent for you to pull that shit. Still, this one is shaping up to be a frontrunner for 'favorite disc of the 1st quarter of '05.' Last I checked, onelouder had posted a few sites where individual Doves tracks could be found. Rock on.

Friday, January 21, 2005

"Where we arrrrrre...."

".....in the blink of an eye you get several meanings." God how I loved getting free Elephant 6-related CDs back in college. That tasty morsel is from Olivia Tremor Control's cumbersomely titled "A Peculiar Noise Called Train Director" (at least that's what I recall) off of 1999's totally kick ass Black Foliage: Animation Music record. According to da 'fork, the aforementioned have been brought out their hiatus for a one off gig at All Tomorrow's Parties '05, running starting on 4/22 somewhere in the U.K.

And who but better to curate the gig than creepy, Republican, Brown Bunny 'auteur' Vincent Gallo, who's to be commended if only because the current ATP lineup doesn't include esoteric Bunny-soundtracker John Frusciante.

Gerard Cosloy is a funny man. And he's probably right about this one. Viva los Mets!

Thursday, January 20, 2005


The Sleater-Kinney shows at Mercury Lounge are like, sooooo sold out. Considering they sold out their 2003 Southpaw (Mmmm....Brooklyn Pennant Ale...) gig in about a day (and after it had only been announced three days before showtime), not a huge surprise. I can remember exactly where I was when I first noticed those tickets onsale (at my desk at my old job working for the Entertainment Software Ratings Board if you're wondering). Despite being about 120 degrees inside Southpaw that night, that show kicked ass, as did their opening gig for Pearl Jam the next night (opening your set with "The End of You" and "The Drama You've Been Craving" usually purports for a good show).

Rajeev at Onelouder kindly requests that nobody block his stage left view of Carrie....but I already carved my initials into the floor a foot from the stage weeks ago, so he loses. Man....May 24th. Scary to think that the Mets will already be something like 17 games out of first place before the new Sleater-Kinney record comes out.

Yeah and yeah.

Minimal updates have been made due to much work and much stress. Severely lame I realize, but whadya gonna do. Most of my rockage information comes second hand from other folkz blogs these days.

Morecowbell has a post from January 17th with two MP3s off of Idewild's upcoming (I think March) Warnings/Promises. Idewild was quite the 'it' band back in 2000, as their 100 Broken Windows record kicked (and still kicks) much ass, sounding like R.E.M.'s Murmur on a steroid/amphetamine cocktail. They slumped a bit on 2002's overly glossy The Remote Part, but I'm still looking forward to the new record. Excellent live show. Of the two tracks posted, "Welcome Home" is especially nice and folky, wheras "I Want a Warning" has jagged edges, but is a touch dull.

Sleater-Kinney at the Mercury Lounge in early March is now onsale, but if you care anything about incredible rock and roll, you already knew that. I'll be there on the 2nd (three or four feet from stage left, of course). Their new album is supposedly called The Woods (a reference to the remote upstate NY place where they recorded it perhaps?) and will feature 10 tracks. Thanks to OneLouder for the info.

Of course one of the many completely great things about owning an iPod is that the shuffle feature, when it isn't "shuffling" the same 7 or 8 songs back and forth, allows for some serious back catalog listening. Just yesterday I was on the L train, and exposed to R.E.M.'s "Binky the Doormat," a deep track from their underrated (and very wierd) New Adventures in Hi-Fi album. Maybe the creepiest R.E.M. track ever, and I hadn't listened to it in at least 6 months or so. Especially the part at the bridge where Stipe goes..."WRRROOOOWW!" That album has a ton of great R.E.M. songs that nobody outside of their hardcore fanbase knows exist...."Low Desert," "Leave," "New Test Leper," etc. Probably the last R.E.M. disc I don't have a significant beef with.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Weekend Notes...

Yesterday's heartbreaking, but ultimately entirely expected, 20-17 Jets defeat essentially epitomizes Gang Green's everlasting M.O.: if there's a way to lose, we will find it.

Meanwhile, the Pats have held the Colts to a FG with 3 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. 20-3. The Pats will win this game. Say all you want about dome teams being unable to adjust in a snowstorm (was this even on the forecast last night?), but at 21/33 with 188 yds passing, this will prove to be one of the sorriest games of Eli's older brother's career. The Pats will repeat.

I can't write about football as well as I can Mets baseball (or baseball in general), and I can't write about Mets baseball as well as I can NY music (IMO). One thing's for sure though-unless the talent is out of this world, I'm done with shows at the Tribeca Grand. The five Kaiser Chiefs songs I witnessed there last night showed them to be a solid Brit band with plenty of onstage energy and potential (although "I Predict a Riot" was still unquestionably their best song), but I just don't like the way that venue does business. You're forced to wait on multiple lines irrespective of whether the Church Lounge/concert venue/coat check is crowded at all, and the venue itself is always frighteningly crowded and extremely hot. The pre-show DJs have minimal imagination and are too loud for conversation, and the bands never start on time, usually favoring a 1 AM timeslot. The only bands I want to see at 1 AM are Radiohead, Sleater-Kinney, and maybe the Rolling Stones. 8 dollar Heinekens too. Granted, it seems a little whiny to bitch about a chance to see an up and coming band in a swanky hotel when it's techincally free, but 'free' shouldn't be synonymous with 'treated like an animal.' I won't deny that they book good talent, most of which is seeing the East Coast for the first time (e.g. Erol Alkan, Bloc Party), but if a band is really that good, I say see 'em at the Bowery or Merc a month or two down the road.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Who Doesn't Love Twee-Pop?

Lookin' for something to do tomorrow night? Sure ya are. Palomar is playing at the Mercury Lounge tomorrow night with The National. Never have I heard the latter, but I'm told they're good. As for the former-Palomar play gorgeous power pop with three-part female harmonies that you'd have to be really evil not to like. Yours truly seriously dug their newest album. They get far less coverage than most NYC (or in this case, Brooklyn) bands, but are far better at what they do than most of them. They hit the stage at 10:30, which of course means 11:00 MLEST (Mercury Lounge Eastern Standard Time).

We live in a Geek USA....

Minimal to report except a reminder that the first of two "Jimmy Chamberlain Complex" rock shows takes place at the Mercury Lounge tonight (the next one being next Thursday). I'll be in attendance, and am expecting to see a really shitty nu-metal sounding band anchored by an amazing drummer. Whatever. Only 10 bucks, and at 8:30 (i.e. 9:00 at the earliest), an early show.

Regarding the new and improved pitchfork page that supposedly took forever to get right....assuming its complete...what the hell was the big deal?

Monday, January 10, 2005

They Took More Drugs Than a Touring Funk Band...SING IT!

If there's any band who would take a sick pleasure in playing a break-up joke on their fanbase, it'd have been Mclusky. However, this seems a little too real. I'm assuming the reasons for their breakup to have been primarily monetary....if they weren't getting along, they sure as hell knew how to hide it onstage. Here's a band that was extremely funny, prolific, darkly sarcastic, and frighteningly heavy with a DNA-coil tight rhythm section. They will be missed by anyone who had the pleasure of seeing them live, or went into spastic convulsions whenever "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues" or "To Hell With Good Intentions" came on. I suppose they won't be missed by the obnoxious bitch who lives downstairs from my apartment, but if there's going to be no more new Mclusky albums, i'll just be forced to terrorize her with the mountain crushing bass of Do Dallas that much more. For shame.

I recently downloaded the Soft single "Lucky Jam" off of MelodyNelson. It was apparently the one song I recall enjoying from their set at Rothko the other night. That song, alongside the shaggy photos on the band's website, comprise a gigantic neon sign which clearly reads "we love the second Happy Mondays record and we don't care who knows it." Granted, I like Bummed a lot too, and "Lucky Jam" is definitely catchy like a lot of songs on that record, but a serious lack of originality is in evidence. I mentioned the Regular Fries in the previous post, and while they were derided somewhat for milking the baggy sound a few years after its heyday, they actually brought plenty of new ideas to the table-like fuzzy Dave Friddman production, the best Kool Keith guest spot ever, and throwing out fake cheques signed by the band into the audience (plus, they always sounded really stoned). Their War on Plastic Plants isn't such an easy find (never officially released in the U.S.), but it's quality. I can't hate the Soft track outright b/c The Mondays were gods, but it still makes me feel a little icky.

Speaking of gods....I recently downloaded Sleater-Kinney's NYE set off of easytree (kudos to Brooklynvegan and Largeheartedboy), and I can't believe that the start of baseball season will actually arrive sooner than their new record. What a friggin' tease. I think the fourth song is called "Four Seconds." It starts off sounding like a cover of Radiohead's "Blow Out" before an amazing Tucker chorus, and the bridge is a complete beat down which climaxes with Carrie Brownstein screaming LET'S GO! Corin Tucker's guitar sounds like Billy Cox's (as in Hendrix's Band of Gypsies) bass in at least two of the songs. Track seven is 13 minutes. I've said it once, I'll say it again...you play checkers, S-K play chess.

Leave It to a Monday.....

First, I'm having an awesome dream that the late 90's, Madchester revival band The Regular Fries have gotten back together, and my alarm goes off. Then the 4 train I'm on gets stuck between stops for 25 minutes. Now I find out that Mclusky have apparently broken up. What's next? Are the Mets going to trade David Wright and Jose Reyes for Sammy Sosa and some unnamed Latin prodigy? C'mon Monday....do your worst.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Weekend Notes.....

Last night I was in attendance at Rothko with members of OL and MMM to check out the Austin, TX-based band Voxtrot at "Call the Cops" night (which I'm assuming is a Happy Mondays reference). I skimmed an MP3 or two courtesy of BrooklynVegan, and thought they were worth a look.

Firstly, I seem to recall Rothko being shut down a little bit last fall on account of fire code violations, and the place is still more than a little creepy if you ask me. They've expanded the basement area (relative to when I was last there in May) to include a bar and a very narrow lounge, and there's also a completely dark room with some thrift store couches and what appeared to be exposed wiring. Direct Drive was in attendance downstairs spinning some hard D n' B, but the whole downstairs area just felt a little unfinished/cramped/unsafe. It's nice to see a hipster rawk joint other than Pianos with Magic Hat #9 on tap, but I've had so much of the stuff in the past 5 years or so that I think I've acquired a distaste for it. Too syrupy. Blind Faith and Humble Patience are better.

Upstairs however, features a decent sized room bathed in red hues with surprisingly good sound. Voxtrot hit the stage at around 11, and were decent. Their studio stuff seems to have some further subtleties that are somewhat lost in the live translation. They've got the right influences....Belle and Sebastian, some R.E.M. and lots of Smiths, but their influences were a little too apparent at times; one original was a note for note "This Charming Man" rip, and closing your set with The Cure's "In Between Days" seems like a cop out-evidence of a lack of faith in your original material. The melodies were good, and there appeared to be potential hooks, but very few distinguishing attributes otherwise. I'll need to listen to their studio tracks some more.

Oh yeah...unless another band happened to go on at 1:00, the "surprise headliner" was some band called "Soft." It's impossible to take a band seriously with that name. I only caught three songs, but the first one seemed surprisingly decent....sort of a Madchester type thing with high pitched vocals, faux Brit-accent, loose limbed drumming and a definite guitar hook. Can't recall anything else, except that the lead singer looked just like the dude from Soundtrack of Our Lives were he to drop about 40 lbs. Still, why the hell are you going to call your band Soft? Dumb, dumb name. Rothko was completely packed at that point. Was everyone there to see what they thought woud be a surprise band, or do Soft have some kind of significant following? Who knows.



Just thought that last post was a little devoid of genuine emotion. This is cooler than Kim Deal.

Congratulating the Upper Deck on winning "The Race to Shea" yet again.

(Car) Los Mets.

According to ESPN's baseball index, Carlos Beltran is set to sign with the Mets for 7 years and $119 million, with an 11 million dollar signing bonus and a no trade clause. Granted, the lawyering thing pays pretty well, but it's times like this I wish I spent more of my childhood working on a breaking ball than attempting to save the princess.

John Heyman's Newsday piece uses the phrase "instant credibility" to refer to the Mets after this (and the Pedro) signing, and most Amazin' fans would be hard pressed to disagree. Furthermore, there'll be that much more animosity when the Mets open at Shea against Houston, and they actually play the 'Stros 3 more times this season than other NL Central teams (a strange byproduct of interleague play).

Is it refreshing and gratifying to see a Mets GM go the extra mile and have a notoriously stingy owner open the coffers for once? Of course. The Mets are not a small market ball club, and should not be run like one. If I had ten dollars for each time I muttered a Beltran-derived "holy shit" while watching this past season's NLCS, I could afford season tickets. 42 stolen bases last year, 38 HRs, awe-inspiring defense, and he's only 27. Can he hack it in the Apple? Spring training can't come quickly enough.

How this will impact Floyd/Piazza, and an apparent vacancy at 1B remains to be seen.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Slow Day at the Office.....

Those scandalous Brits at NME are reporting that The Charlatans have entered the studio to record their new record, with a release date of fall '05. "But that's crazy!" you say. "Didn't Up At the Lake come out this past summer, and their last record came out nearly 3 years before that?" The fact that the latter still has yet to be properly released in the States notwithstanding, the answer is yes. This would appear to be an awfully quick turnaround time between records, but the Charlatans rock, so this is good.

Furthermore, they've just signed to Sanctuary Records, which would lead one to believe that the upcoming record might see light of day in the U.S. this time. Did you know that their hedonistic, coke and E driven, dancetastic record Wonderland was released here on 9/11/01? That's why nobody bought it. That's why they got dropped from their U.S. label.

The Charlatans have also posted a newly recorded instrumental track on their website for free download. It's a pretty slight track-just some krautrock doodles that sounds like the backing track to Wilco's "Spiders"-but did I mention it's free? Long live the Charlatans.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Mo' Lists Even Though It's '05

I now interrupt this lunch break to throw in a quick plug for Cokemachineglow's new Top 60 of the 2000's list. It wasn't my idea, but it ended up coming out decently all the same.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


College Bowl games make for great background noise. Why the hell are Shaq, Gary Sheffield, Pat Riley and Will Ferrell at the Orange Bowl? Don't they have anything better to do? Pete Carroll is one of the more Presidential looking head coaches in the NCAA. The full, white hair, chiseled features of a young John Kerry; dude's in the wrong business. But his team is making unbelieveable catches like they're going out of style. 38 pts. in the 1st half? WTF?

Tickets for the Futureheads at Bowery Ballroom go onsale tomorrow at 12. You want to go to this. I caught them a few months back at Maxwells, and it was easily one of the Top 10 shows I'd seen all year. Their self-titled record was one of my favorite albums of 2004, and the live show is just as tight, and twice as energetic. You will pogo like crazy. Remember how Franz Ferdinand played the Bowery back in February '04 and then they managed to sell out multiple Roseland nights come October? The Futureheads won't do that; they're not quite as cute, more caustic, and their songs deal with the difficulties of human interaction as opposed to girls. But I'm guessing they'll sell the shit out of Irving Plaza come....say, April. Go now.

Back in 1994 I was 15 years old. Green Day's Dookie was completely inescapable. My mom bought the album for my then 12 year old sister, and I refused to like it because I assumed that if my sister owned it, it must be terrible (which is essentially fact most of the time). Only when I was a little older could I admit to myself how much Dookie rocks, and that my sister had the right idea for once. I bought American Idiot last week. It's fantastic. "Jesus of Suburbia" could be the finest thing they've ever done.

When Bloggers Get New Jobs....

....daytime updates become scarce until one learns exactly what he can get away with. So don't expect too much for the early weeks of January, but we'll see what we can do.

The sports posts on SoF have been virtually non-existent as of late, mostly because I'm a Giants fan, don't know enough about the NBA to be overly critical, and the Mets Hot Stove has been relatively cold (although that will likely change sooner than later).

That said, big props are in order to Eli Manning and Tiki Barber for making the final Giants game of the season extremely fun to watch, in spite of the complete lack of post-season implications. The latter eclipsed Giant great Rodney Hampton in total yardage, and broke Joe Morris's single season running record (set back in '86) on the final offensive play of the game; a draw play that only became such after an intelligent audible on the part of Manning. Homeboy notched his first NFL win after a six game losing streak (at least three of which really should have been W's) and only stands to improve.

I have nothing against the NBA, but I can't help but think that this winter will be that much colder without the NHL.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


Apologies for the lack of content in recent days, but being the holidays and all, one gets lazy. Anyway, this blogger was indeed in attendance at Madison Square Garden this past Friday for the much anticipated S-K/Lips/Wilco gig. Sorry for any sort of overlap between this write up and the excellent one over at OneLouder, but considering I was seated directly next to the latter for a good portion of the evening, a little sameness might be inevitable (and I apologize for its length).

Bands at MSG not named Phish usually tend to start on time, and true to past experiences, Sleater-Kinney hit the stage at 8:02 (following a brief Fred Armisen riff in his Prince get-up). The entire set consisted of songs off of their recently finished, Dave Friddmann produced, album (May release though...WTF?). The only songs I had any familiarity with included "Bomp," (working title) a Black Sabbath-y thing with punk rock breaks that they first played back in April '04 at Irving Plaza, and "Entertain," a Brownstein rant which closed the set (and the past three S-K sets I've witnessed). Careful S-K fans will note that the latter features a new chorus; its old chorus actually surfacing in another new song. Friddmann's doing perhaps?

As for the rest of the new material? Like the MTA says, 'sometimes you've got to move backwards to go forwards,' and in this fashion, Sleater-Kinney have discovered power chords. Power chords and fuzz. The new material features previously uncharted S-K waters, such as fuzzbox guitar solos, walls of noise, and length. If the new material is any indication....the new album could be a long one indeed. Think Band of Gypsies, Comets on Fire, and Matador darlings Dead Meadow. But in spite of all of this, OneLouder is correct in their statement that the band still sounds like nobody but Sleater-Kinney. Though not familiar with the material, I enjoyed every song, and am feverishly anticipating the upcoming release.

Furthermore, according to their official site, they've booked The Mercury Lounge March 2 and 3rd as part of a quickie tour followed by a larger one after the new album's release. This is the smallest venue they've played in years, and I wouldn't be surprised if it sells out in a matter of days. Not onsale yet, but you've been warned.

(As an aside, a chance encounter with the band at the East Village Two Boots on 12/30 has revealed that "Entertain" is the sixth track on the new record, so you're in luck if it's a favorite.)

As for the Flaming Lips, I had never seen them before, but was familiar with their live reputation; lots of shtick, and same-y sets based off of their tendency to use pre-recorded sounds. Their NYE set followed this to a tee. The sides of the stage were adorned with dancers in furry animal costumes, large inflatable suns, and most notably-scantily clad ladies in pasties; the effect being not unlike the portion in the Brazilian Simpsons episode where Marge is a little surprised as to what constitutes children's programming. The Lips also thought it would be cute to have gigantic inflatable balloons in the audience....except that the balloons were huge and somewhat hard, making enjoying the music difficult as most of the set was spent getting hit with gigantic inflatable objects. Wayne Coyne stills uses hand puppets, still uses fake blood, and was constantly spraying the audience with confetti and telling the audience how they were at "the best f'in party in New York!" As for the music? Not much to report as they simply rolled out the same hits that they've supposedly been playing forever, and due to the pre-recorded stuff, they sound like they sound on CD. One nice touch was a "Warpigs" cover where Coyne traded off vocals with Corin Tucker (who had the luxury of singing the "Satan laughing spreads his wings!" line). Anyone who's heard her duet with EV on Temple of the Dog's "Hungerstrike" knows that homegirl doesn't need to be in S-K to belt it out. This set became a little more than a little painful after 30 minutes.

I've only seen Wilco one other time before last Friday; at the first of two Summerstage shows in 2003 with Sonic Youth. It was without a question the best concert I'd seen all year, with Wilco exhibiting a warmth and intimacy virtually unheard of in the realm of live music. It was like a giant BBQ with all of your closest friends.

While I knew better than to expect such a sensation at MSG, I sincerely hope that the band never plays there again. The sound was often too loud, and extremely muddy; it was near impossible to sort out each guitarist's contributions, and bottom end was nearly non-existent. Opening with "Less Than You Think" into a feedback jam into "Spiders" was a masterstroke, but I can't help but think that the rest of the show struggled to keep up, and too often it seemed like the band was going through the motions. "Poor Places" was followed by a fairly conventional balloon drop and plenty of hugs onstage, and this was met with Jeff Tweedy's declaration that his New Year's resolution is to never pick up a guitar. And how to achieve this feat? Covers. For the next 25 minutes, Wilco morphed into a cover band, taking on Judas Priest ("Livin' After Midnight"), The Band ("I Shall Be Released"), a Captain and Tenille song, and "Something in the Air" (whose original author I cannot recall, but I'm familar with the Tom Petty version). Tweedy played no guitar on these songs. The encore was all covers too, leading a visibly intoxicated woman to scream "play some F'in Wilco!!!" long after the lights had come on. Such was a sentiment with which I could not disagree. It would have certainly been nice to hear a few more originals, and closing the show with an obscure (and extremely sappy) cover was probably not a good idea. Still, the band was already fighting an uphill battle with the horrendous sound in the largest local venue they had ever played. And the crappiest Wilco show is still better than the best effort of legions of other bands, but mediocrity seemed to be the order of the evening.

So Sleater-Kinney stole the show. Not a huge surprise.