I'm sitting at my desk, drinking a coffee the size of my head, trying to figure out what to say.
Music, is an intensely personal experience. For a long time, I was one of those people who would cast judgement based upon the songs someone had on their computer. That all changed Junior year when someone very close to me said "who cares what you listen to, as long as it makes you happy?"
Music is still something important to me. It has given me great memories, wonderful friends, and more than one bloody lip (and one time throwing up into a biohazard bag backstage). When I started dating my girlfriend, it became clear that our music tastes did not line up, and that was okay. This is what adults do- they look past the little things for the bigger picture. But I wasn't going to stop going to shows, and wanted to introduce her to this part of my life.
Last night seemed like the perfect opportunity- singers from some of my favorite bands were playing solo acoustic sets in Brooklyn at the Knitting Factory. Perfect, I thought.
Her ride from Manhattan was far shorter than mine from Brooklyn (thanks G train) and I started the night by taking her to get tacos. We enjoyed a fantastic meal and Taco Chulo (right by the Twenty Sided Store) and made our way back over to the Knit. She met friends, and the show started.
Brendan Kelly, he who I am trying to emulate, came out and tried to introduce the show. He did so in his typical meandering stream of humorous banter. It was a perfect precursor.
First off was Kyle Kinane, who killed. The GF doesn't enjoy stand up comedy, but Kinane had a knack for communicating to the audience. His rhythm was perfect, and the subject matter was just left enough of center to get the audience excited.
One of the best things about acoustic shows is the quick change over time. Almost immediately after Kinane, Jenny Owen Youngs took the stage. I had done my "research" on Youngs, listening to her records on Spotify during work. I was stoked. She has some serious songwriting chops and a voice that can carry what her pen puts to paper. Songs about "doing it (her words)" and serial killers, as well as a killer cover of Nelly's "Hot in Here" made the night. Of course, then the "special guest" was introduced (Brian Fallon from Gaslight Anthem, to the surprise of absolutely no one) and they proceeded to rip through a fantastic rendition of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." The GF likes country, and pop, so these two covers were right up her alley.
Dave Hause was next up. I've never seen the Loved Ones play, but I've seen Dave play three times, and each time is better than the last. The man is a consumate showman, and always brings down the house (groan). He tore through a set filled with songs from his solo album and some of my favorite Loved Ones tracks. The GF, finally succumbing to sleep, hopped in a cab around 10pm, so I enjoyed most of this set, and the rest of the night, without her.
Sharing music, sharing that part of my life, was so important. She felt bad for leaving early, but the fact she came at all tells me she's a winner. I'm crazy for her.
Dave Hause was hysterical. A common theme of the night was the playful banter between performer and audience. Telling tour stories, Dave asked everyone to put away their "YouTube Machines" (my new favorite term for cell phone) and launched into hit after hit. Closing with Fallon and Youngs on stage with "Prague" - a mind blowing song.
The hour grew later when Brendan Kelly finally took the stage. It was two years ago when I saw his band, the Lawrence Arms, play a double bill at this same venue. At those shows, he was under the influence of something (many things?) and was hilarious in his flailing. Last night, he was far more sober and played through a fantastic set of Lawrence Arms and Wandering Birds songs. Highlights of the night, for me, include "Abracadaver," one of my favorite TLA songs, and his pre "Kiss the Bottle" rant. Seeing as my sister has been served beer by Blake from Jawbreaker at the Double Windsor, I found it hit home to hear BK talk about how he though Blake would feel about the show. When the crowd asked for "Skulls" by the Mistfits, Kelly smiled and obliged. He closed the set with a Fallon infused rendition of my favorite Falcon song- "Unicorn Odyssey."
Fallon took the stage, and played a passion filled set of plodding, persistent versions of his songs. There was no aggression, but the words still hit home. The man can sing and write, and took his new found fame in stride. The set featured some of my favorite Gaslight Anthem songs, including "1930," "Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts," and "Great Expectations."
The night closed with an encore. Of course. Dave Hause took the lead of the entire lineup (minus Kinane) for a rendition of Hot Water Music's "Trusty Chords." Brendan was selling merch at his booth at dragged himself on stage for a rip roaring version, where only Hause knew all the words. It didn't matter that it was late and no one on stage knew the words. It was a perfect end.
This show reminded me why I love music. It was a good time, amongst friends. The people performing seemed to have genuine admiration for each other, and a love for the fact they got to play music for people.
Big thanks for JADEDPUNKHULK (because you have to type his name in all caps) for putting together this show. This giant coffee is dedicated to you, and your ability to give Brooklyn a great time.