Beck + GOASTT: 1 July 2014 - Summerstage, New York (Photos)

Beck really knocked it out of the park with his show at Summerstage.

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger

Beck + GOASTT at Summerstage

City: New York
Venue: Rumsey Playfield
Date: 2014-07-01

In 1998, I went to my first major music festival, the Tibetan Freedom Concert in Washington, D.C. While I won't complain given the many great artists I did see at RFK Stadium that weekend, I, like everyone else, didn't get to see Beck perform due to a freak weather incident that cancelled the first day midway through. Fast forward to 2003 when New Yorkers were excited for the Field Day Festival in Long Island, a major camping event for the city. Unfortunately, permit issues (or something) rendered the original two-day festival impossible to put on but the organizers managed to compromise the event into a one-day show at the Meadowlands. Field Day was super rainy, but no one pulled the plug fortunately. Unfortunately however, during the set change before Beck, the artist apparently slipped and hurt himself backstage, prompting the organizers to reset the stage for following act. Mr. Hansen never performed.

Cut again to 11 years later to find Beck lining up two NYC shows, one indoors at the Hammerstein Ballroom and one outdoors at Summerstage. I still hadn't seen him perform (the blame is on me for any lack of trying), but I placed my bets and went to see him at Summerstage. A week before the show, the forecast called for rain. As the day approached however, the precipitation was pushed back and lo and behold, nice weather held up for July 1st and I finally saw Beck live. With over 20 years of hits, and his regular entourage of studio musicians on stage with him, Beck gave a stellar performance, easily one of the top I've seen.

The evening's opener was Sean Lennon's current band, with his girlfriend, the model and singer Charlotte Kemp Muhl, the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (GOASTT). Lennon (who I had seen at TFC '98) and Kemp's band produce a '70s psychedelic rock blend that bears a lot of similarities to sounds his famous father shaped (that is a good thing). Their first album, Midnight Sun, had just been released in April and they've been supported Beck on a few dates before they head off to tour Europe later this Summer. GOASTT's trip was a brief 30 minutes long but they packed in plenty of freak with songs like "Poor Paul Getty" and "Animals".

After 45 minutes of stillness and rearranging the stage, Beck kicked off loudly with "Devil's Haircut", tacking differently from the previous night when the band began with an acoustic set before they rocked out. Photographers at Summerstage had been asked to shoot the "rock" set, so I anticipated reaching the photo pit a bit into his performance but unbeknownst to me the course had changed! So, as Beck was sharing what was in his mind, I dashed madly to the front, having to push through Lennon and Kemp (I apologize if I was rude!) who were observing on the side.

Beck's music drips with a sunny vibe that adds to the charm whether it be on his psychedelic rock jams or his more lush folk tracks. When you find that bright sheen which connects classic '90s Beck, like Mellow Gold's "Loser", with something like "Waking Light", from his most recent release, the sensitive and shimmery Morning Phase, it is difficult not to appreciate every musical incarnation of the 43-year-old artist. Every song felt like a classic and even if it wasn't, Beck's swagger would make it seem so.

That sensation may also have been assisted by the fact that Beck's set didn't favor Morning Phase to a great extent, though I would not have complained if he did include more. "Blue Moon" was gorgeous alongside its stirring Sea Change sister, "Lost Cause" for example. But the upbeat material really held sway once the sun went down. Guerolito tracks, "E-Pro"'s bombastic chorus incited moshing after the twitchy thrill that came from "Girl".

A brief pause in Beck's hour and a half set allowed him to ask what kind of laws they were gonna break tonight -- and if you couldn't guess, those would be the "Sexx Laws", which had the crowd going wild with its blaring brass instruments.

"Where It's At", the final song, meshed with a bit of the Rolling Stones' "Miss You" and it also allowed Beck to introduce his band, who each took the opportunity to solo, and his special guests. A few children now stood alongside the band, adding percussion and sharing in a side to side dance move with the group. Lennon arrived on stage too banging a beribboned tambourine to his own fair share of applause as Beck raised his hand. The conclusion was befitting of a man as prodigious and sometimes as surreptitious as Wonka.

Having never played in Central Park "legally" before this night, Beck still managed to knock one out of the park. His confident, energetic set filled with wild and familiar favorites, combined with the spectacular summer evening, produced a superb night. The perfect opportunity to see the artist I had waited sixteen years for.

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger:



Devil’s Haircut

Black Tambourine

Soul of a Man

One Foot in the Grave

The New Pollution

Blue Moon

Lost Cause

Country Down

Modern Guilt

I Think I’m in Love / I Feel Love (Donna Summer)


Qué Onda Güero

Paper Tiger

Heart is a Drum


Waking Light

Soldier Jane




Sexx Laws


Where It’s At / Miss You (The Rolling Stones)

Beck tour dates:

07-11 Charlotte, NC - Uptown Amphitheater

07-12 Asheville, NC - Thomas Wolf Auditorium

07-14 Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium

07-16 St. Louis, MO - The Pageant

07-18 Chicago, IL - Pitchfork Music Festival

07-19 Grand Rapids, MI - DeVos Performance Hall

07-20 Louisville, KY - Forecastle Festival

07-22 Atlanta, GA - Fox Theater

07-23 Raleigh, NC - Red Hat Amphitheater

07-24 Columbia, MD - Merriweather Post Pavilion

07-27 Philadelphia, PA - XPN Festival

08-15 Morrison, CO - Red Rocks

08-29-31 County Laois, Ireland - Electric Picnic

09-04 Isle of Wight, England - Bestival

10-03-05 Austin, TX - Austin City Limits

10-10-12 Austin, TX - Austin City Limits

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.