Thursday, July 20, 2006

Update from the Office

I figured that if it's alright for my brother to blog while on vacation in Mammoth with his family, then there can't be anything wrong with me doing the same while up here on the 38th floor of good ol' 1166. The past two weeks have really been great as far as free entertainment goes. First, we saw Okkervil River at Castle Clinton last Thursday. That was seriously amazing. Most of the songs they performed were from Black Sheep Boy, which is good because that is the album I am most familiar with. Seeing these songs performed live was quite an experience and brought new passion to songs that were already full of the stuff.
On Saturday I met Luke and some of his friends at Coney Island for the Siren Festival. I basically went for two bands: Art Brut and Stars. Sadly, the sound during Stars' set was awful. I actually ended up leaving after about three songs. This is sad, as I was really looking forward to seeing them live. However, Art Brut, who performed just before Stars, really blew me away. I had liked their album quite a bit, but after seeing them play live I must say that they are one of the most intense, honest, and clever bands out there today. During each song the singer would basically start talking to the audience about what the song was about, what he had learned from the song, what could be learned by others, or at one point commanding the crowd to go out and start their own band (or publish a zine, write for a magazine, create a television show or movie, etc.). Basically Art Brut was all about kids creating culture of their own that would be worthwhile and outside of mainstream culture. I think that this is a very important message to be sending and I am glad that these guys are out there pushing it.
Finally, last night we went to Upstairs at the Square, a new interview series that Barnes & Noble is doing with writers and musicians. Gary Shteyngart and Sondre Lerche were both there last night to discuss their latest works and the process of creating art in a language that is not their first. I didn't know anything about Gary beforehand, but I was really impressed with him and will probably be purchasing his book, Absurdistan, soon. I have been a fan of Sondre's for a few years now and it was great to be able to see him peform live and discuss his art, especially in a venue this intimate. He performed three songs off of his latest album, Duper Sessions. I had avoided buying this album after hearing a few songs and reading a couple reviews when the album first came out. However, after seeing him perform these songs live (just him and an acoustic guitar) I may have to end up purchasing it after all. The discussions were lively and interesting. They should be available online here soon enough.