Saturday, November 20, 2010

South up North

Madison Square Garden - the name alone conjures up images of greatness: sports, concerts, religion, the Penguins beating the Rangers in OT when their own goalie gets the puck in the net ... oh, sorry...that was at the Civic Arena...I digress.

The Garden has been known for some amazing shows - Led Zeppelin, The Concert for NY, the Grateful Dead, Billy Joel - you name it. I have seen Metallica, Jimmy Buffett and most recently, Manchester Orchestra and Kings of Leon at MSG and each show didn't disappoint.

Back down South to Bonnaroo, I was able to see these  Manchester Orchestra and Kings of Leon perform in front of tens of thousands of people in the hot hot hot Tennessee sun.  The crowd knew KOL, they were from Nashville and becoming more and more popular by the second.

Before 'Roo, I had heard of both bands. After 'Roo, I decided to really check them out. Manchester Orchestra (MO), at times and please forgive me if you don't agree, reminded me to Wilco but with a heavier edge. I like them - and want to see them grow. My favorite line from the night at the Garden was that they saw Wilco and the Flaming Lips perform there on a New Year's Eve and that they wished they could play the Garden some day. You wanted to hug them when you heard that. They seats weren't yet filled, but they had a few thousand listening to them and liking every note.

Kings of Leon -- what I love about them is that they CHANGE. They remind me of U2, not by sound, but by their chameleonness (yup, a new word). If you look at Achtung Baby back to Boy, every album sounds different. They re-invent themselves because they know what sold before and that they probably won't be able to replicate that (instead of Being John Malcovich, it's like Being The Edge, I am guessing that is what they assumed). You listen to their Youth and Manhood album and compare it to Come Around Sundown and they are different, more open to experimenting. It might be that they were able to grow overseas before making it big in the States, whatever it is - don't lose it. Change is good, trying new sounds and new feels might make you lose some fans but don't ostracize your artistic endeavors.

The band had a stage set that was incredible - complete with dozens of spotlights, a disco ball and vintage looking live screens. They could have walked out without the visual and just played their asses off - which they did. This set up seemed to work much better in the Garden than at 'Roo.

Meeting the crew that was filming their video for Pyro was even more cool when I saw them react when they heard the song live and felt it almost to be their song -- it is in a way. But, and thank you for being so cool Rob, as you said, the video was not yours, it is ours. Best of luck and I cannot wait to see it!

From Mary to Black Thumbnail everyone was on their feet. It wasn't like those concerts where people became disinterested and began to talk annoyingly at points. Everyone knew every song and they sang it, screamed it, danced to it.

My highlight was hearing Back Down South. I heard it first on that hot, steamy night in Tennessee. It makes me think of that wonderful weekend - standing next to my best friend, having the time of our lives, surrounded by people who loved music as much as we do.

Congratulations Kings of Leon and Manchester Orchestra, you made it in NYC!!


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