two consecutive weekends in a row, my friends and i ventured into the outer boroughs (and i mean outer boroughs) to take in some great outdoor concerts before the new york winter kicks in. destination one: keyspan park in coney island, brooklyn. for manhattanites, getting to coney island is a LONG ride. but everyone should make the trip, eat an authentic nathan's dog, ride the cyclone, and tour the new york acquarium. its classic old-school new york.
keyspan park is home of the mets farm team-- the cyclones. i've yet to attend one of their games, but the stadium is really nice (seriously, its nicer and cozier than shea), located right off the water, with the world famous wooden Cyclone in view. it was the first cold night of the year (foolishly dressed in tank tops, we were freezing our asses off), and keyspan was hosting the White Stripes / The Shins / Brendan Benson. what a line-up. brendan benson, like the White Stripes, is from Detroit...but that's where the similarities end. benson is all pure power pop: edgy guitar hooks with melodies you can sing to. his latest release, The Alternative to Love is his first on a major label and with each track, is a reminder of another great power pop master, Matthew Sweet (a personal fave of mine, Sweet's Girlfriend is on my list of top 20 albums ever).
attending a concert at keyspan is cool, but beware when you buy tickets. floor admission, which can ultimately make or break a concert experience, was limited to certain ticketholders only. i was under the impression there was only one ticket price point offered...obviously i was wrong. damn you ticketmaster!!!...anyway, we regulated ourselves to the stadium seats and watched the concert from afar...which is a shame cause brendan is a hottie. he plowed through a short set, playing some of his head-bopping tracks, including my faves--"Spit it Out" and "Gold into Straw."
following brendan was indie fave-- and a band on heavy heavy rotation on my ipod-- is The Shins. i love them. but i must admit, i feared they wouldn't play well live. lyrically, their songs are aching and emotionally complex and just so beautiful that i didn't want to share the experience with a crowd of teenagers who surely could not understand all those moods. i was wrong. The Shins were fantastic-- all crazy energy, they strummed their guitars and jammed and had the crowd singing along and dancing. did they play my favorite songs? you betcha! now i HAVE to see them in a smaller venue...
and finally, The White Stripes. OMG. Jack White is INSANE. he's all over the stage-- one second he's screaming like a maniac, next he's sweetly singing a lilting country ballad. WTF? and meg, NOT the most interesting of drummers, emotes a unique glow when combined with "her brother" (or ex husband? you believe what you will....), exuded so much chemistry/energy, it was almost enough to warm us up on that chilly autumn night. Their new album, the revered Get Behind Me Satan, dominated the first half of their set. Jack thrashed at his guitar, banged at the piano, and beat down upon the xylophone. sometimes, it seemed he was directly screaming at meg. sometimes, i wasn't sure where he was directing his anger/regret/disgust. on one (rare) occasion, he even allowed meg a turn at the mike.
yesterday, i went to the Across The Narrows Concert . um, AWESOME! this was the first concert of its kind-- a two day, four concert modern rock-fest-- held simultaneously in brooklyn (at keyspan, like the white stripes concert last week!) and at richmond park (home of the staten island yankees) in, yep, Staten Island. some key headliners: Beck, The Pixies, The Killers, Oasis, built to spill, Rilo Kiley, The Polyphonic Spree...the list goes on and on. however, my friends and i decided to board the ferry (the ferry! ride it. it's free! a little aside--whenever i'm on it...and this was my second time, i feel like melanie griffith in Working Girl. okay, random). our lineup: The Killers, New York Dolls, Interpol, British Sea Power, Tegan & Sara, Lake Trout.
it was 75 degrees and sunny! we were outside! at another great minor league ballpark! behind the performers (except for The Killers), the stage opened up to reveal the manhattan skyline shimmering in the distance. it was just grrreeaat. admittedly, i didn't know much of the works of Tegan & Sara...but we arrived just before their set. if you ever watch Grey's Anatomy on sunday nites, the show often features their tunes. they're a pair of twins from Canada and sing in shrieky, nervous harmonies. their songs were catchy and they had endearing personalities on stage-- chatting and sometimes mocking the audience. i liked them. especially their adorably cute drummer. yummy. afterwards, was British Sea Power. eccentric is probably the most apt adjective for them. um, why are there random tree branches on stage? and...is that guitarist just wearing bright red socks? exactly. but they're British. not that that explains ANYTHING. their sound veers from dark and atmospheric...to all out pop with a dash of punk. these guys have stage presence. they are obviously having fun out there-- a drummer came down into the crowd while the others were doing acrobatics on stage. yep, i swear. kinda reminds me of those dorky, drunk frat boys doing somersaults on the floor all throughout the concert...trying to attract chicks. hot? i don't think so. yea, British Sea Power is SO MUCH COOLER.
fittingly, the sun began to set just as Interpol came on stage. OMG. i need to see them again, at a smaller venue too. they sounded amazing-- each tune, most from their more recent album Antics --is meticulously played. and, the band got all dressed up! save the drummer (who seemed to be wearing a red velved suit), they were all reflections of their melancholy sound-- pale white skin dressed in contrasting dark black or blue suits. yummy, these guys are good looking in all their gloom. and btw, that's better looking than the national average AND the nyc average. ha. inside joke.
anyway. after Interpol, came punk legends (?) the New York Dolls. okay, these guys are almost as old as the Rolling Stones. this is not a compliment. with the excpetion of their rendition of "Piece of My Heart"-- this was a slightly pathetic showing. these guys are OLD. and i think they're still in the '70s (no kidding, they mentioned the Vietnam War...you know some of the kids at the show were like, um...what war in vietnam?). unfortunately, even though the songs were danceable, everyone was antsily waiting for The Killers. sorry, guys...but we didn't want a reunion tour. i'm being harsh...but i was getting really cold at this point of the concert. Finally. they finish...and out come...The Killers. wait, first the setup. the stadium darkens, the stage is lit in muted blue-white hues...smoke is coming up and the stereo is blasting a melodramatic love song from the '80s. wait for it....here they are!!!! YAYYYYY!!! there's Brandon Flowers, isn't he dapper in his white sports jacket and gray scarf? and wow, he's not wearing makeup for once! and...we all LOVE Hot Fuss-- their debut album. oh shit...they only have like 10 songs...and really, we all only LOVE five of them. when they first came out, i immediately thought of The Smiths and The Cure...but my friend was right, they sound just like Duran Duran. Simon LeBon, we miss you...but Brandon may be cuter in his dramatic, boyish way. and sure, they didn't have the best sound of the night...and maybe not even the best stage show...but we all got crazy and jumped and danced like there was no tomorrow. i warmed up fast, jumping like mad while singing along to insta-hits "Somebody Told Me" "Jenny was a Friend of Mine"...and of course, "Mr. Brightside." good stuff. and what was their encore, show ending number? uh-huh. "All These Things That I've Done"...okay, its not a song with loads of lyrical depth, but who can NOT feel energized after a tune like that? its just too much fun. man, i love live music. when's the next concert?