July 16th, 2010 § 0 comments

I love New York in the summertime, which is to say, I love summertime after winter in New York. I am certainly not alone in this sentiment as the whole city becomes energized as the sun comes furtively back out and the humidity index starts to rise. By the time we enter July, a month full of rainshowers, humidity, and shorter office hours, summer happiness is in full swing, and that nervous energy that makes nyc so unique becomes infectious and impossible to avoid. There is nothing quite like feeling as though you’re living the good life of relaxation and leisure while not living anything remotely like it. All those activities that go on throughout the year in nyc—bike riding, day trips, concerts, eating and drinking—take on a different feel in summertime as they make their way outdoors. As everyone takes advantage of their time off work—my company’s handbook recommends that you use your vacation time in July—the city turns into a sweaty mass of new yorkers and tourists trying to make every day of summer count. I enjoy feeling like summer is slipping away too quickly as it gives new urgency to all my desired but unaccomplished experiences.

The Cloisters

As Shakespeare in Central Park and the food trucks in Red Hook say summer, so do the summer concerts. While seeing bands play in winter feels like a necessary escape, like beer bars and warm loft bedrooms, in summer it feels more like a leisurely pursuit. Summer, shortly after it “officially” started on the calender, might have actually begun at Greenpoint’s Newtown Barge Park and with the amusing, at times disgusting, antics of Les Savy Fav. Though I don’t really know their music I did appreciate the Nick Cave-like costumes, and the playful, absurd quality of the show. Music is still music even when it’s taken a bit less seriously.

Wolf Parade also had their long awaited show Tuesday night at Terminal 5, a large venue in an obscure location on the west side of midtown Manhattan. My first time there it felt like a midsized space trying to feel like a large space, with TV screens showing the band onstage in poorer quality than my eyesight. Dim, verging on downright dark, and packed full of people, it felt like a less atmospheric venue than other music halls. Wolf Parade, four guys from Montreal, played a set of loud, adrenaline rushed songs while the group visibly wilted from the heat. It was a good show, and from the balcony upstairs where the the view was better I could watch the devoted fans on the floor below. While Yeasayer attracted women writhing with adoration in the front row, Wolf Parade seems to touch the hearts of the opposite sex. Perhaps the combination of their somewhat experimental sound and lyrics evoke bits of the sardonic, sarcastic, or simply the absurd in their masculine audience. “I don’t think I should say sorry, for things I do in dreams, some people live like they’re falling, some people die in their sleep.”

Heartless BastardsRealizing I bought tickets back-to-back, Wednesday I saw the Heartless Bastards at Music Hall in Williamsburg. Music Hall is a nicer venue, smaller and slightly quieter, prettier on the inside with red lights, some bleacher-like seating, a nice upstairs balcony, and little round tables for the special people. After deciding to try out standing by the stage for the first time in a long time, I have since made the decision to always, always stay upstairs—looking down at the ruckus is much more appealing than being in it. From Cincinnati Ohio, the Heartless Bastards are a four-piece band led by Erika Wennerstrom. She has one of those haunting voices, distinctive and provocative no matter what she happens to be singing about. Watching her I was reminded of seeing PJ Harvey, as they both have a certain autonomy in an industry still dominated by men. Sexy in their own way, neither women seem eager to sexualize themselves in a manner that has become, at this point, so cliché. Seeing pop culture icons, sometimes even celebrities, who give you a sight feeling of hope for our gender is a nice, if a very fleeting, feeling.

Downtown Brooklyn

Summer thus initiated, I look forward to recklessly whittling away at the next few months.

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