Friday, November 21, 2008

The Oranges Band with A.C. Newman at the Bell House in Brooklyn, November 15, 2008

I’d never been to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus before last Saturday. I was early for the show and needed dinner and wandered through the industrial streets past the dark warehouses until I found a surprisingly nice little bar/restaurant that served up some great meatballs.

The Bell House opened in Gowanus in September and it’s a nice venue. It reminds me of the Showbox in Seattle, but is about half the size. I arrived and got a beer and waited for the opening act to finish up, which they did soon enough.

The Oranges Band took the stage as a three-piece to play “Ride The Nuclear Wave” “Open Air,” “Wild Ride” and “My Mechanical Mind” prior to hired gun Doug Gillard joining them to focus on new numbers. Speaking of new numbers, there are some gems here. I recognized many of them from their show in July and was anxious to listen to the new album.

Oh yeah, the new album! A bonus of going to the show was being able to buy an advance copy of the new record, Are Invisible. I’ve given it a few listens over the past week and I’m liking it a lot. Roman Keubler has said he wanted to write about the Baltimore scene on this album (“Gordon’s Nightclub” is a paean to a bar called the Rev, for example). My current favorite is “ArtStar,” which, thematically, reminds me a bit of the Long Winters’ “New Girl.” I love the art school insight: “They want to be known by everyone and / shown by everyone and / blown by everyone.”

But back to the show…

Roman Keubler is probably the least “rock star” of any front man I’ve seen. He has no stage persona separate from the playful and humble guy he seems to be all the time. (He invited his father on stage to shill product for the band, citing his dad’s opinion that they don’t promote themselves enough—a moment that made the show feel more like a gathering of friends than a gig.) I’ve never seen a musician smile as much as he does when he plays. It’s clear that he loves to “rock out” (as he says), but also doesn’t take it too seriously.

Near the end of the set, as they prepared to play “My Street,” Keubler said “It’s either that or ‘I’ll Never Be Alone,’” honestly opening the discussion to anyone who wanted to weigh in. (Is both not an option?)

About 30 minutes later, A.C. Newman, the night’s headliner, took the stage before an excited crowd. I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m not much of a New Pornographers fan. Given a choice, I think I’d have preferred Dan Behar instead (I find his stuff a little more oddly interesting). As such, I won’t even attempt to review the set (sorry, Ben). I’m just not the guy to do it. (Not to mention the fact that I only stayed for four songs before leaving.)

And now for the “thank God it’s Friday’s song of the day” portion of this post.

From the Oranges Band’s new album, Are Invisible, here is the aforementioned “ArtStar”:

Happy weekend.

1 comment:

Ben said...

I've been waiting anxiously for the show review.

I actually like Dan Bejar's stuff better than Newman's too, but I obviously like Newman a lot more than you do.

I like what I've heard of the new Oranges album as well. My favorite part about their Web site right now is that if you want to order the album, you're directed to send a check payable to Roman Keubler. It's charmingly lo-fi.

Everything I've read makes it sound like a pretty great show (and venue). Other reviews highly recommend the pupusas outside the club. Just so you know.