Beck. Is awesome. Obviously.
I arrived at The Maritime Hotel around 6:20 after trying one of City Bakery’s infamous chocolate chip cookies for the first time (I justified that City Bakery was “on the way” during my 50 minute walk from my dorm, and if you don’t know already, I’m obsessed with food). I was relieved to see that the line only stretched to the corner as I thought it’d be longer. Had I not spent the entire day fooding with my mum, I probably would’ve gotten there closer to 5 PM than 6 PM. While walking to the hotel, I thought “Why is this place…so far over? Where the hell am I?” Yeah, I’m really unfamiliar with the west side of Manhattan around Chelsea. I have no problem walking more than 2 miles north-south but tell me to walk to 8th Avenue from 3rd Avenue and I’ll think “Mrrh?” (Well, mainly because I never have to.)
There was a group of people standing by the entrance who needed tickets, most notably a guy holding a printed sign and another guy wearing a t-shirt with a hand-written plea for tickets (wonder if they got in). Guys would walk by the line asking if anyone had tickets, and when I say guys, I mean that. I didn’t see many women by themselves–was I the only one? The crowd looked older than most concerts I’ve been to but not necessarily old, if that makes any sense. Just a smidgen older. Smidge. It was 18+ so I’d assume the youngest people were 18.
After waiting in line for a bit (the doors didn’t open until maybe 7:30) I passed out some Guero stickers. I’m really hesitant about approaching people for some reason (fear of humans is a part of my DNA), but some of them seemed really happy to get the stickers. And then I eavesdropped on the conversation the guys behind me were having because I couldn’t really pay attention to nothing in particular, besides that it was much colder than I thought it was going to be and my hands were starting to freeze.
AND THEN WE GOT TO GO IN! EXCITING! YAARH! Yes? Yes.
The Hiro Ballroom is a lovely venue–it’d be great to see other shows there. I have an affinity for Japanese things and there were lots of lanterns hanging about along with a “smoke” breathing dragon head above the stage. Lots of red, lots of wood, and huge Japanese things on the walls: a pleasing combination.
There were a few rows of people in front of the stage by the time I got there. Stationing myself behind a very tall guy in a brown jacket I thought “Dammit, I should’ve gotten here earlier. But what am I complaining about; I’M HERE!” As my absolutely dumb luck would have it, that guy was a photographer for Rolling Stone (I think?) and the guy next to him, a photographer for WireImage (damn them, always getting great photos). They could only stay for the first three songs so they informed the people next to me that they would get to move up soon. Sweet.
Finally at around 9 PM…BECK APPEARED. YES. IN THE FLESH! BECK! I’d swear he looks the same as he did the first time I saw him about 5 years ago. That is somewhat scary, no? Not like he doesn’t age at all; obviously, he changed from Mellow Gold to Odelay to Mutations, but after Mutations I feel like he’s looked pretty much the same. Ish. He is very cute–no wonder I was so obsessed with him (I don’t know if I’m still obsessed with him or if I merely like him). He wore a white t-shirt with a funky line-illustration, a brown jacket, jeans, and huge black sneaker-y shoes.
He started with Black Tambourine, which like every song for the rest of the night sounded great live. A guy in a red outfit on the left side of the stage (I stood by the right where Beck was) danced most awesomely. I’m not sure how to describe his “dancing” but it made an interesting impact on the performance because…it’s not something you see often. Note to bands: increase the awesomeness of your show by getting your percussion dude to dance like a maniac in a brightly colored outfit. I remember at one point he was playing a huge smashed can of cooking oil…or something. It kind of looked like this can. It’s a huge can. OF OIL. But it didn’t have oil while he was playing it or that would’ve just been disturbing/gross.
“Devil’s Haircut” was a big audience-pleaser. BECAUSE THAT SONG IS AWESOME. Just to warn you, I’m not going to be able to make descriptions that go much beyond AWESOME. Beck is awesome. His new band seems really good as well. I mainly remember the bass player was really going nuts at the end (nuts in a good way) and the drummer sounding tight. Few mistakes, if any (then again, I rarely hear mistakes during music performances). Besides playing electric guitar, Beck also dabbled on the turntables, a box thing (as in, it looked like a little black box, obviously that’s not just what it was) and a huge-ass maraca-type instrument.
Although I like Guero, I’m not as into it as previous albums. But of course, everything sounds so damn good live. He played “Scarecrow”, a song that didn’t really appeal to me the first time I heard it, but hearing it live (in addition to “Broken Drum”) made me think “Wait, I like this a lot now. Live at least.”
Live performances make everything better, or rather, live general admission in small venues performances make everything better. While my favorite Beck show was his acoustic performance at Alice Tully Hall (in which I sat somewhere near the back) nothing compares to being up front during his full-band performances (the first time I saw him was in a small general admission show, up front; yes, I was beyond lucky). My dancing abilities are in the negative range but I daresay I may have wiggled a bit last night. The dancing probably trickled down the further out from the stage but up front people were having a good time. The “guero” standing near me (Beck called him that) was getting spastic. Spastic = awesome. And after the show he LUNGED for a setlist on the stage, and when I say lunge, I mean he tried to rip it off the stage with with bare hands, probably still shaking from the fresh Beck vibes. The tall guy behind me taking loads of photos (I hope he was thankful for my height-suppressant genes) also went for a setlist right after but asked a guy on stage for it.
He played some songs I hadn’t heard before. Ah, here’s the setlist (taken from the photo I took of the setlist on stage):
- Black Tambourine
- Devil’s Haircut
- We Dance Alone
- Knock You Out
- Remain in Dark
- Nicotine & Gravy
- Broken Drum
- Hell Yes
- Where It’s At
- Get Real Paid
“Get Real Paid” is one of my favorite live songs so it was great to hear that even though he didn’t use any effects on his voice like he usually does. “Where It’s At” is loads of fun (love that music video) because shouting “WHERE IT’S AT!” is fun for some reason. Also fun is shouting “Na, na, na-NA na na na NA, na” at the top of your lungs (“E-Pro” is great live). I think I may like “Hell Yes” better on the album than live but…good god, what am I saying? Everything was great. Something I really like about live Beck performances is his stage banter, which was largely nonexistent last night (I can’t remember what he said!) but I’m just glad he shoved as much music-playing as he could during his somewhat short set.
I was happy–really happy. That had to be the best experience I’ve had all year and I think other audience members could say the same. I was so happy afterwards that I decided I had to go to The Donut Pub. Now, I’m going to digress from music for a bit because my fooding habits definitely show there’s something wrong with me. I’m just a little too comfortable eating my way throughout Manhattan by myself. I’d equate it to an alcoholic bar-hopping alone, the only difference being that I go bakery-hopping. Concert veterans can inform me whether it’s a regular activity for friends to go out for a few drinks after a music performance. Well, the Robyn equivalent would be to go to a place like the Donut Pub for an apple-cinnamon filled donut and one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had (and as I mentioned before, I had gotten one at City Bakery just before the concert; if you’re curious enough, the one from City Bakery tastes better ingredient-wise but they’re both very good and I was not planning AT ALL to get a cookie from a place that specializes in donuts). This alarms me as my sanity will go straight downhill when I hit the stage of resembling a fleshy blob more than a normal human being.
That was a lengthy digression. Sorry. Oh, I’m not even that into donuts, but the Donut Pub is such a cute little place (and has a great name) that I couldn’t resist.
When I got back to my dorm I realized that one of the happiest combinations is a great Beck performance paired with late night calorie-dense baked goods. Eating such goods WHILE watching Beck would’ve been an awful combination but one after the other (or rather, cookies, then Beck, then back to cookies) is bliss. In my world.
Issues. So many issues.
Lastly, Beck makes me happy. I’m sad that I’m not as obsessed with him as I once was, but I’m still very much into him. It makes me wonder how obsessed I was with him before (here’s an indication: since 9th grade I had classmates who didn’t know me especially well besides that I had a great interest in Beck, causing them to give me Beck-related magazine clippings or inform me about seeing him on the telly).
Beck is great.
Yes. Sorry if I ever doubted you, Beck.
Oh, last words (for real this time). I didn’t go into how I got the tickets, eh? Filter most generously contributed to the cultivation of my Beck obsession (in more ways than the concert), thus letting me off the hook of fruitlessly attempting to battle a gazillion other Beck fans on ticketweb with mutiple browser windows Thursday afternoon. Isn’t it nice to know that some guestlist people really are huge fans and not casual listeners? Filter is the nicest magazine ever. I bow to them, kiss their feet and thank them profusely. And stuff their promotional bags.
[Random note: Craploads of people were taking photos, such as the dude behind be shooting over my head, and I heard a guy say he got a lot of video footage. Damn, I’d like some of that.]