Tag Archive: Bowery


Last show at Terminal 5

KVT5

I don’t go to a lot of concerts (relatively speaking), but I probably go to more than my fair share.  Thankfully, majority of bands out there are absolutely deplorable, so that certainly helps me set an artificial limit to my concert-going.

One thing I’d still like to do some time is go to a random concert every single night of one week.  Just randomly pick five different venues, then go check out whatever bands playing there that night.  Probably better if I don’t recognize the band so I’m not prejudging the show.  If I’m lucky, at the end of the week, I’ll have found a few new bands I want to listen to.  At worst, I’ll have uncovered a bunch of unlistenable bands to completely avoid like the plague.  Either way, it’s five night out, and there are worse ways to spend five nights out.

One venue I’m excluding from the list of venues is Terminal 5.  Fuck Terminal 5.

For as long as it’s been around, I’ve been going to Terminal 5.  After all, what choice do you have if a band you like decides to play there – you suck it up and go.  You go despite it being the worst fucking concert venue on the planet.

Last weekend, I went to what is probably my last time at Terminal 5.  The show’s line-up was absolutely brilliant, on paper at least.  The Beach Fossils, followed by Lee Ranaldo, followed by headliner Kurt Vile.  That’s a lot of talent packed into one night.  No throwaway bands here.  For the first time in the long time, we headed to the show right when the doors opened, unwilling to miss even a minute of the opening bands.

Getting there to Terminal 5 is both easy and hard.  “Easy” because being about as far west as possible in Hell’s Kitchen, it is surrounded by absolute shit.  There are no decent bars or restaurants within a 3-block radius to keep you from getting to the joint on time.  Most other concert venues have probably dozens of better than average watering holes where you can get a few brews and a decent meal before the show.  Not Terminal 5.  Terminal 5 is in the middle of Manhattan’s black hole.  There is jack shit around Terminal 5.  If you wanna grab a brew before a show, you’d have to walk a half-dozen blocks away to find anything.  It is also for that same reason that it’s hard to get to – it’s nowhere near any subways, and it’s in the anus of Manhattan.

Since it’s in such a shithole part of the city, the least you’d expect is for the joint to make up for it by being extra awesome.  After all, why would people keep schlepping all the way out there, right?  Well, the concert hall itself is fucking terrible.

T5 audience

Shaped largely like a cube, the main floor is peppered with large obstructive pillars.  The second floor balcony protrudes so far out that if you’re in far corner of the hall – any corner – you’re not seeing shit.

And that’s before you’re assaulted with what is indisputably the worst sound system in the universe.  It doesn’t matter if you put Jimmy Page or Jimmy Buffett on that stage – both will sound equally shitty.  Everything out of those speakers sounds like muffled farts through a bullhorn.  There is absolutely no articulation whatsoever (which is really important when you’re trying to listen to farts).  Honestly, I’ve had more pleasant afternoons listening to my neighbor’s dog bark incessantly at squirrels.

But that’s not all you have to listen to when you’re at Terminal 5.

You see, when you combine the fact that Terminal 5 is middle of the downtown Baghdad of New York and the fact that the sound is fucking dreadful, it becomes clear that Terminal 5 is being kept afloat by people who don’t really like music at all.

You go to any show there and you will invariable – and this entirely without exception – be surrounded by chatty assholes who don’t shut the fuck up.  People talk throughout entire gigs.  Whomever and whatever the fuck is playing on stage matters not one iota to these assholes.  Somehow, these assholes have rationalized the idea that the middle of a crowded thousand-decibel concert is the best place to carry on a meaningful conversation for two hours.  It’s always the same sort of person, too – it’s always either some tall bearded douchebag in a flannel shirt, or some overenthusiastic chick who looks like Marnie from Girls.  In other words, everyone in that place.  I can’t remember the last time I was at Terminal 5 when I’ve had to turn around to tell people to shut the fuck up.

Not one thing about Terminal 5 makes it appealing to see a band. I’ve been suckered into going to that concert sphincter for years, but I can’t bear going to Terminal 5 anymore.  I’ve seen my last show there.  I like Kurt Vile.  But Terminal 5 made me hate Kurt Vile.

And that’s what it comes down to: I’m not going to let Terminal 5 ruin the bands I like.

Fuck Terminal 5.

 

 

 

You’re too Canadian

METZ

Forget the “eh” suffixes, forget the poutine, forget the moose and beaver jokes, forget aboot it all.  The oft-overlooked Canadian stereotype is that they’re a painfully polite bunch.

This was never more evident that the show I went to a couple of nights ago:  METZ at the Bowery Ballroom.

It was hard for me to imagine what this show was going to be like, given that this is a band with only one album.  One album that comprised ten songs, with a total running time of about 28 minutes.  The last time I saw a band with similar credentials, it was Vampire Weekend at Terminal 5, and I swear that show was done by 10:30 – 10:30!! – and no one had any idea what the fuck to do with the rest of the night.  We were all let out of show, and I swear I saw kids in pajamas getting ice cream with their parents.  That was just fucking weird.

But METZ are nothing like Vampire Weekend.  I guess folks categorize these guys as noise punk, whatever the fuck that means (I fucking hate these categorizations because they’re all trying too fucking hard, and each label is more meaningless than the next).  A power trio from Toronto that’s not fucking Rush.  They don’t suffer Graceland-era Paul Simon-type melodies.  These guys are built one thing and one thing only – noise.  So maybe I shouldn’t get too concerned.

After a couple of entirely forgettable opening bands, roadies cleared the stage and started to set up for METZ.  After a very quick setup – gone are the days of thirty pedals on the floor with a rack of half a dozen guitars; now it’s one instrument going into one, maybe two pedals and that’s it – the lights dimmed, the crowd cheered… and the roadies came back on stage.  Wait, what?  Holy shit, those weren’t roadies – those guys setting up were METZ themselves.  I’d never seen that shit before – a headlining band setting up their own gear.  “Oh, that’s alright, don’t go through any bother, we’re quite happy to take care of ourselves.”

How painfully Canadian.

The lead singer/guitar player looked like a millennial Bill Gates.  The bass player looked like comedian Rob Delaney.  The drummer, fuck knows what he looked like but he was back there machine-gunning away at the heads.

A couple of polite hellos and boom, off they went.  Bill Gates launched into a rapid, piercing riff and shrieked into the mic like a dragon whose balls had been set on fire.  Eager headslamming on stage; in front of me, a mosh pit quickly formed.

A mosh pit?  That’s adorable.

About that mosh pit – it was the nicest, most gracious mosh pit I’d ever seen.  I mean, how often have we gone to show where fuckheads who don’t know how to mosh end up slamming around and punching someone in the face, then a fight breaks out, and everyone gets tossed from the floor by security.

In this case, everyone knew how to mosh.  It was weird, but everyone followed the unwritten rules of moshing.  If someone fell, a bunch of guys would reach right in to help pull him up.  Girls jumped into the middle of it, and the guys would take it easy.  Despite all the slamming and stomping around, there just wasn’t much angst and rage.  The mood was more, “hey, we’re just here to have a good time”, not “hey, we’re here to kick the shit out everyone.”

It was the most polite mosh pit I’d ever seen.  Meaning, it was the most Canadian mosh pit I’d ever seen.  Which begs the question – did the band bring their own moshers?

Back to the band, METZ’s on-stage presence bordered on being marginally comical.  When the amps were screaming, they shrieked and raged like banshees.  Between songs, Bill Gates would gently thank the crowd, “Thank you so much, you guys.  We’re so happy to be here.”  Insane noise machine one minute, boy scouts the next.  It was this seamless transition between madness and gentleness that made it all so fucking bizarre.  Yet, remarkably refreshing.  Here, check it out yourself:

Even when the bass player had blood pouring from the bridge of his nose when he slammed his head into the mic, he sheepishly told the crowd, “Excuse me, I’m gonna have this looked at to make sure I don’t need the hospital.”  He came back with duct tape between his eyes (a proper rock move), thanked the crowd, and then resumed slamming his head to his bass lines.

So, so Canadian.  Canada rules.