Monday, January 2, 2012

Kumail Nanjiani at Local 506 12/23/2011

Kumail Nanjiani
Local 506

I love comedy shows.  And even better than comedy shows are comedy shows in rock clubs.  The tickets are usually much more affordable, no silly drink minimums and a very low-key atmosphere.  As long as the jokes are funny, a faux brick wall and cocktail waitresses aren't really a necessary part of me laughing. 

Sadly we don't get many good comedy shows around here, so I was stoked when I saw Kumail Nanjiani announced at the Local 506 just before Christmas.  I thought it odd that a Pakistani born, LA based comedian would be performing in a rock club in a college town over Christmas break just before the holiday, until he started talking about his wife who was raised in Winston-Salem.  I was a little worried attendance might be low, with all the kids back home, but the room was full and happy to be hearing the funny. 

I'm not entirely sure how to review a live comedy show, but the end result was Kumail is funny as shit - we laughed our asses off.  And I knew this going in, having seen him on a couple of specials (not to mention the terrible-but-awesome "Franklin & Bash", where he plays a neurotic assistant), but no matter how much you see of someone on TV, nothing beats laughing in person.  Kumail's comedy is very story/anecdote based, seemingly taken from his actual life but probably/certainly embellished for maximum laffs.  Hopefully he makes his way back here again - it would appear that forced holiday visits to the in-laws pays off for comedy fans in these parts.  

(Photo found online)

Beirut at Cat's Cradle 12/8/2011

Cat's Cradle

It's getting harder and harder to get myself to go to shows in Chapel laziness has grown to epic levels (this laziness also seemed to rear up right around the same time Kings re-opened and good shows started happening again in Raleigh).  Unless I've purchased a ticket I just can't get motivated to drive out there, and there are even times when that isn't enough.  I really REALLY wasn't feeling like driving out there this evening, but the ticket wasn't cheap and the newest Beirut album "The Rip Tide" is one of my very favorite releases of the year.  So like Willie Nelson, I was on the road again. 

The apprehension is always with the getting up and going, and never with the actually show.  The show was, predictably, fantastic.  I saw Beirut once many years ago, early in their career, and it was fine - but night and day with how polished they sound now.  There were times when the horn section sounded so good I was transported back to 1975 when I saw Chicago for the first time.  Then I remember I wasn't born yet in 1975, and this was all some crazy hallucination, probably stemming from eating that out-of-date ham.  And then I wished I really was watching Chicago, but I wasn't.  Beirut makes a pretty good consolation prize though.  The band had strung up some large red & white carnival lights all around the stage, giving the club a festive atmosphere, helped by a pretty active crowd that was maybe only 75% douchebags.  It was a great set, with a number of older songs interspersed with nearly all of the new record, and it was clear I wasn't the only one gaga for the latest release.  The highlight was the live rendition of "Santa Fe", probably one of my top three favorite songs of the year.  Bottom line - I'm really glad I left the house. 

Future Islands / Ed Schrader's Music Beat at Cat's Cradle 11/27/2011

Future Islands
with Ed Schrader's Music Beat
Cat's Cradle

I spent the entire Thanksgiving break in Washington DC looking at museums and such, so the prospect of driving out to Carrboro for a show wasn't very appealing...but the ticket was bought and having seen this line-up a few times now, I knew it would be a good time, tiredness aside. 

I could hear Ed Schrader's Music Beat hammering out their primitive rock from where I parked behind Carrburritos - one of the benefits of the (usually open) side door at the Cradle.  Luckily I was able to see most of their set, as they are one of my favorite live bands going these days.  I've tried and failed to describe their music in the past - the best way I can put it is the songs and sound are simple but not simplistic, if you catch my drift.  Drums, bass and barked vocals, all done in a very straight-forward manner...the sorts of tracks most people could probably play, but couldn't ever think of.  It's like the musical equivalent of a lot of modern art or might think "my kid can paint that", but they didn't.  Give it a shot on your own, I bet it doesn't carry the power an emotion of Ed Schrader's Music Beat. 

I was at the back of the crowd at the end of the Future Islands set, buying an Ed Schrader t-shirt when I overheard a couple of super young sorority-looking girls say "Oh. My. God. I just danced on stage with my future husband!!!"  It's weird seeing a demographic I would assume otherwise were Justin Bieber fans wig out over this band.  This certainly wasn't the case when I was their age (or even a year ago at actual Future Islands shows).  Maybe the next generation isn't doomed after all.  Then again, (a different) one of these young, hot, vapid girls (that all look like they are cloned from an iPhone commercial) asked me if I was "the band's photographer", so maybe they aren't doomed, but they sure seem to be stupid.   

All that silliness aside, Future Islands put on a tremendous show, as per usual.  I don't think they know any other way to be.  Their live act is as it always is, regardless of the size of the stage - Sam paces around like a caged wolverine performing a one man play, and the rest of the band holds down the backbone in a very stone faced manner.  I'm pretty sure they played all of "In Evening Air", most of the new record "On The Water", and plenty of old songs to boot.  It was a nice, long gig, the band feeding strongly off of the nearly sold out crowd at their first headlining Cradle show - not only were the kids dancing, but they were screaming and yelling like it was...a Justin Bieber concert.  And then there was that one older woman who kept stroking Sam's leg, which hit firmly in the category of "creepy but funny".  I love weirdos.  And Future Islands.  I'm so glad they play here as often as they do.