Santos Party House is an amazing place. The atmosphere is immediately welcoming. It has the most fabulous sound system. Few can compete because this place was specifically designed for musicians and listeners. Also, a great place to hold a benefit for a good cause to save a neighborhood Indie video store Cinema Nolita.
The Santos Party House sticks to a schedule. To my dismay, I took my sweet time and strolled the four blocks to arrive around 9:00, only to see The Beets on stage playing their final song to an appreciative, engaged crowd.
I caught them at CMJ in 08 and loved their set. So I approached them after the set with apologies and asked them a few questions about the upcoming tour with Vivian Girls and their feelings about playing at Santos. My lead-in should read; The Beets Had A Sound Check!! Seriously that is a big deal, and in this place, sound checks are worth doing because it works. They have played outdoors at DIY events, beaches, rooftops, and unofficial all-age shows. Although that is a great way to see music, it is not always the best way to hear it. The sweetest thing to watch was all the patrons complimenting the band on their set. I Informed them that they were the lead in the picture at the Brooklyn Vegan segment "What's Going On Monday". As they embark on a tour with Vivian Girls starting August 25th, they have a very positive experience to draw on. I love the mix of all-girl and all-boy bands on the same bill.
I rarely see groups like The Virgins. I came out to see The Beets and usually concentrate more on emerging talent. I thoroughly enjoyed their fantastic seamless set. Tight and focused is what I have to say. The frontman and lead singer, Donald Cumming was barefoot, wearing optical leggings and a tee. His long, lean body is in constant motion showing off his less-than-fluid geeky ballet gestures. It was endearing. The guitarist broke out, occasionally exaggerating a long strum with an extended arm or an occasional knee dip.
They played a mashed-up disco/ new york / new wave with edgy, catchy hooks. At first, I felt everything sounded repetitive, but they scaffolded and built energy with the electric leads, some Reggie beats, and funk. I liked when Cumming's sang alone and pulled out an unexpected harmonica. Slowly the others weighed in. The very enthusiastic female crowd, including me, took it all in. They have a great European fall tour doing major festivals with one detour in Texas at Austin City Limits.
Animal Collective DJ (Avey Tare and Geologist) set started out with little fanfare. It's possible that during a restroom break, I might have missed the introduction. When I returned, they were busy in the DJ loft to the right of the stage. The surroundings were transformed, and the large disco ball rotated in the center of the space with fog and laser lights. They started with a long psychedelic song with animal-like screams sporadically interspersed between rhythms. The twisted remix of standards like "Rock Lobster" (pretty sure) and Abba's "Take A Chance On Me" was catching on, and the groove was setting in. Suddenly, their set was hijacked by an unexpected appearance of The Film director Abel Ferrara and crew. They took the stage and played raw rock & roll, with Abel having a propensity for course street grime rap. the stage became crowded with all the female hosts connected with Cinema Nolita, including the lead singer of The Virgins.
Animal Collective sat this one out, checking cell phones and sitting on the stairs to the upper loft. After the three-song set, they began again. Still trying to figure out how it turned out, I left after the next song I knew it would take some time for a groove to set in again.
The recent publicized suicides of young people due to being bullied in school only point out how toxic this banter can be. Those colors you used are gay, that song you sang in the school play was gay, that club you belong to is gay, and those sneakers are gay, or only a few examples. It is the tone and the caviler way they are commonly thrown about.
Max Vernon is colorful, flamboyant, and fashionably overstated, much like his outstanding music and songwriting. In one of his YouTube video entries, he was asked about a harsh email from his mother where she wrote, listening to your music is like eating nine courses of foie gras, and no one wants that many courses of foie gras. It was an interesting comparison, with apologies to follow. A loving and caring mother was concerned about Max’s appeal to a broader audience. Max Vernon, I believe, can create timeless and great pop songs, and maybe he will someday. But for the last year, he has been recording smart, politically topical, catchy, gender-bending, not neutral material. Max Vernon is true to himself.
Charmingly relevant and bright, he works it from the visual and cerebral to the sonic. That was clear at his set during the Anti Folk Fest at the Sidewalk Cafe. The talent is apparent but what comes through is a genuine performing style that is relaxed and personal. His set was quite beautiful. I'm glad he came with his keyboard placing himself front and center even though I saw a piano on the side of the stage. He didn't go for the easy listen, in fact, he chose to play his most challenging material. I knew I was in for a treat when he opened with “Diamond Dust,” a song with many twists and turns vocally and on keys. He introduced "All I Need" by saying something to the effect, "this song describes my love life." Then he invited us to sing along to the chorus; / you’re not all I need / you’re not all I need / you’re not even close /, but I like you, I like you. Although I like to sing, I wouldn't miss one minute of hearing Max Vernon’s spectacular interpretation. He added some yodeling extras splicing his highest pitch and intertwining it with his awe-inspiring low register.
"Love At Last," dedicated to Michael Jackson, is a brand new song that he had never played live, and it was awesome!!! The new material added an edge of enthusiasm. Playing keys combining Rhythm and Blues circa (mid 60's), back alley honky tonk, and classical. The chorus has a celebratory atmosphere mixed with the somber fate of a fallen Icon; Hallelujah / best friend though we hardly knew you / don’t it feel good to finally be loved at last / till the bullet rips through you.
He ended the set with a Morrissey cover featured on TMS (The Music Slut) compilation dedicated to Morrissey's fiftieth birthday, "Head Master Ritual."
Max Vernon can capture attention through his incredible music gift, but I realized tonight how well he can translate his talent live.
Max Vernon Flickr Set
Clinical Trials Flickr Set
Santos Party House has a nice vibe, and I love the space. The stage is wide and deep, which offers a lot of room for the performers. It has just enough space for the audience, not too big or small. Its square shape appeals to my feng shui sensibilities.
It was a fun, relaxed atmosphere at The Santos Party House, presented by Adult Swim. Our two hosts, Dave Willis (voice of Carl and Meatwad) and Dana Snyder (voice of master shake and Granny on squidbillies) had a prime-time audience familiar with the shtick and inside jokes ready to dive to pick up random objects being thrown from the stage. The early bird crowd was feisty for 7:30 so when Drink Up Buttercup was introduced, I was surprised that they seemed unfamiliar with what they were about to experience.