The Music Hall of Williamsburg
February 27th 2008
Liam Finn, son of Crowded House front man Neil Finn, took the stage to a slightly sparse crowd in Williamsburg. I hate to start off a review by identifying Mr. Finn with his father, but I think it is kind of important. You won’t find me calling this kid an independent wunderkind. He toured with Crowded House at age 14. He began his own band Betchadupa in his mid-teens and toured with Pearl Jam and Cold Play. He was born with a signed record contract.
That having been said, he and his nameless stage mate made some good music last night. His voice was really the center piece of the act. Armed with an autoharp and a percussion stand, a young lady with a sizzling hot unbuttoned dress sang exquisite harmonies. No matter what music writers say, he was no one-man-band. Mr. Finn made a damn fine ruckus on the guitar after which he craftily looped a base line and vocals. At the height of the song, he would sit and bang the drums like a Muppet named Animal. Let’s be honest though, the loop thing is beginning to be a little boring and necessarily formulaic.
Nevertheless, I am definitely going to give Finn’s latest record I’ll Be Lightning a listen. The song Second Chance is brilliant. This New Zealander seems to be genuinely interested in making honest music. He is set to tour a bit more with Pela through March and then with Eddie Vedder as he embarks on his solo tour in April. He might want to give a little credit to his busty sidekick though. I mean really…
Next a spectral druid came on stage to tune his bass guitar. I was frightened of the skeletal frame that seemed to hover. Apollo Sunshine it turns out is fronted by a bearded ghost named Jesse Gallagher. Their music sounded like good old Midwest rock and roll played in an obscure, apocryphal style, as if they were locked in a video game console. They are definitely technically skilled. Everyone I know from Berklee College of Music has talent. Sam Cohen’s guitar makes animal sounds like Hendrix and the band can move to the groove while keeping time and tone. They would make a great double feature with Stardeath and White Dwarfs. I really must say that Mr. Gallagher looked like a strung out caveman from a Gieco commercial.
When Pela finally arrived I shifted a bit closer to the stage. I caught their last show in New York at the Bowery Ballroom during the CMJ Music Marathon. It was their last show of the year before recording their upcoming record in California and it was very excellent. This show was certain to include more tracks from their new LP. The crowd grew to what I later learned was sold out status, and they seemed to be happy to be back in New York. Billy McCarthy shouted out greetings to Brooklyn, smiling as always. His positivity is pretty outstanding. One thing about a Pela show, you do not leave without feeling loved. They are perhaps the most crowd thanking band I have ever seen.
As for their performance, Pela played standards like Waiting on the Stairs and Tenement Teeth to a fawning and vocal audience. Their new songs were well received and kept in style with their work off Anytown Graffiti. This certainly could have been a byproduct of the limitations of a live show, but I wouldn’t expect their new record to sound drastically different than their last. It was really enjoyable to see them again. I felt a little distracted by their constant flirtation with the crowd. Not to bitch that a band is too friendly, but at one point I thought to myself, “I get it already!” In retrospect, it was not such a bad thing. After all, Pela played very well and we didn’t have to wait through two entirely shitty bands to hear them. Gravy!