Before Danes Oh No Ono took the stage, the Mercury Lounge capacity crowd was treated to a sporadic set by Brooklyn locals ArpLine. Their electronica sound, regularly augmented by guitars and other live instruments, had the bouncy qualities of Javelin but lacked the complimentary zeal. They came out flat, unable to register a single melody in my head.
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826NYC, otherwise known as the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co, is a non-profit center that encourages children to develop their creative writing skills. It is also a brainchild of Dave Eggers, acclaimed author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, What is the What, and, most recently, the screenplay and novelized versions of Where the Wild Things Are. As it happens, Eggers also happens to frequent a celebrity circle, which allows him to bring talented comedians (John Oliver, Eugene Mirman), musicians (David Byrne, Sufjan Stevens) or actors to 826 benefits as was the case of the present Ping-Pong charity event. SPiN New York, an extremely chic table tennis club in Manhattan was the latest benefit venue where Eggers, along with author Sarah Vowell, the Times crosswords editor Will Shortz and actors, David Schwimmer, Peter Sarsgaard, Catherine Keener, and Mike Meyers, played some ping pong. And I don’t want to forget New York Ranger Sean Avery or chef Mario Batali either. For those Regular Joes, you could raise money for a chance to play against a celebrity or make a smaller contribution to come in and watch.
In the backwoods of the imagination lies Mike “Yes Yes” Ersing, nestled somewhere between Daniel Johnston, Kimya Dawson, drug addled dreams, and a healthy portion of crooner meets beat poet. Perpetually shifting between wistful and angry freak folk with occasional country undertones, this Buffalo native played on Tuesday January 5th to an intimate crowd at Arlene’s Grocery.
Once Ella Fitzgerald immortalized the “A” train in that famous tune by Sir Duke, few could resist the idea of shuttling uptown to experience Harlem’s fervent jazz scene. “Take the A Train” is still a beguiling invitation, though heading downtown on the “A” train promises just as memorable a time these days, especially if you disembark at the West 4th street station, one block from The Blue Note.
Massachusetts alternative rockers Dinosaur Jr. proved to a sold-out Phoenix Concert Theatre that they are hardly extinct. The band, having just performed a free show at Sonic Boom record store, blew fans away with an energy packed performance highlighted by front man J Mascis’ guitar wizardry. Standing before a tower of Marshall amps, Mascis barely broke a sweat while coolly working a bank of effects pedals and making his guitar scream effortlessly. Lou Barlow, who also opened the evening plucking solo heart-felt folk songs on an acoustic guitar, reappeared on bass guitar and played like a possessed man. Unable to enter Canada, regular Dinosaur Jr. drummer Murph was replaced by Kyle Spence who’s tight work on the kit meshed into the performance beautifully. Fans were treated to new material from off the group’s 2009 release, Farm, such as “Pieces”, “Imagination Blind”, and “I Don’t Wanna Go There”. Older fan favorites like “Feel The Pain” and “Freak Scene” also made the cut. The evening concluded with encore performances of “Kracked”, “Sludgefest”, and “Chunks”, during which Fucked Up vocalist Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham joined in. Although 2010 has just begun, I can say with certainty this show will make my top 5 list for the year.