Monday, April 02, 2007

Bloc Party @ United Palace, 31 March 07

I made the trip way uptown Saturday night to see Bloc Party at the United Palace, the church/theatre best known for being Reverend Ike's HQ, which is now booking rock shows.

The building itself is absolutely beautiful, with an insane amount of fancy latticework, art, and ornaments throughout.

The place is amazingly easy to get to, only a couple blocks from a stop on the A line, and about a minute from the George Washington Bridge if you are coming in from Jersey. The downside is that street parking is very tough to find, and the parking lots near the Palace jack their rates up to $30(!!) on nights of events. Cash only.

The show itself was pretty great, and featured two of the best openers I've seen on the same bill in a while.

Sebastien Grainger (formerly of Death From Above 1979) played a set of bass-heavy rock songs a bit hookier than those of his previous band, none of which would have sounded out of place on rock radio, should such a thing still exist. I can't wait to hear what his album's gonna sound like.

Albert Hammond, Jr. turned in a set of songs from his solo debut that, although sound not a million miles away from his Strokes songs, are somehow more immediately enjoyable. His solo tunes seem a bit more pop-song based and less new-wave-for-new-wave's-sake than what we've heard from his other band lately. And the crowd seemed to love him.

Bloc Party was Bloc Party. A solid, great sounding set, and the newer, more anthemic songs sounded fantastic in the larger building. Kele seems to be coming out of his shell a bit more as a front man, but it's not like he's turning into Pelle from The Hives anytime soon.

The security guys did something cool at this show that I've never seen before. After the third song, they chased the accredited photographers out of the 10-foot area between the stage and the first row, and actually walked up to people at their seats in the front and on the aisles and told them it was cool to approach the stage, turning that photo walkway into a bonafide pit. The crowd loved it as the area filled with pogo-ers and ass-shakers, and the closeness of the fans made the band turn the energy level up a notch as well.

All-in-all it was a great night, but next time I go up there I'm street-parking downtown and taking the train. That $30 could have bought me and the missus a lot of beer.

Scatter o'light has the scoop on Friday night's show here.

Bloc Party:

Sebastien Grainger:

Sebastien Grainger - "When You Go Out" mp3

Albert Hammond, Jr. - "In Transit" mp3

Bloc Party - "Helicopter (Whitey Remix)" mp3

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