DC ROCK CLUB
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Remember Ye The Laws of Moses

Elbow (w/Jesca Hoop)
April 27, 2008

6th & I Synagogue

Potsy, Sacklunch, guest Rock Clubber Pattack and I found ourselves at the 6th & I Synagogue on Sunday night. We had prepared for a night dedicated to debating Talmudic Law versus the Chabad Lubavitchers, led by Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson. We were going to take the affirmative position on the statement “Talmudic Law is a crock and anyone who follows it is a jackass,” while Schneerson, predictably, was going to argue the negative.

To no one’s surprise Schneerson wimped the fuck out and sent Manchester UK rock group Elbow to play a concert instead. This disgraceful surrender would never have happened during the reign of the last rebbe, Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson. The man was a giant and when he debated you, you fucking stayed debated. Much respeck to a mensch and a badass.

What's that, Schneerson? You can't make it down from Brooklyn? Yeah, that's what I thought.

We were all excited to see a show at a new venue, as none of us had been to 6th & I before. The door staff and will call people were friendly and after a quick security check we headed up to the balcony. I believe I was sitting in the same spot where Sammy Davis, Jr. used to attend services. The musicians set up directly in front of two wooden doors, behind which I assumed were the Torah scrolls (I’m guessing here, despite my earlier bluster I am a Catholic and know nothing about Talmudic Law). The doors are flanked by large golden menorahs, each roughly five feet high. Above the sanctuary is a large dome that provided some nice acoustics.

Before Elbow came on, opening act Jesca Hoop played a set. This woman has a wonderful voice and her a capella opener was dreamy. It was just her, and an acoustic guitar—they didn’t even dim the house lights. She certainly grabbed everyone’s attention. Unfortunately (for her, anyway) I really don’t care for the sort of folky shit she was playing, no matter how well executed. She was barefoot and wearing a baggy Laura Ingall Wilders-type dress, and had the type of look that would make most women think to themselves “what a cute, pixie-ish girl,” and most guys thinking, “she reminds me of that lesbian that lived in my dorm sophomore year.” After three or four songs I started to feel like I was listening to music at Potbelly, except I was being denied access to a sandwich, which made me grumpy. I don't mean to be too hard on her because, as I mentioned, she really had a great voice, but it wasn't my bag, baby.

Jesca wrapped it up and the houselights dimmed. I thought it would have been a nice touch if the golden menorahs started spinning and the wooden doors would slid open to reveal a scantily-clad Jewess go-go dancer, but apparently there are rules, even for Reform congregations. Enter Elbow.

Elbow were pretty good, but as the ever-insightful Sacklunch put it, they had too many adult contemporary moments where they sounded like spawn of Coldplay. They rocked it out at times and it sounded great—“Leaders of the Free World” and “Grounds For Divorce” in particular stood out, but at times they sounded like Glenn Hansard and the Slav chick from “Once”, which was a good movie, but again, I had access to a sandwich, not to mention a couch, when I watched that one. This time around I was in a hard wooden pew. We were lame and bailed at 11:00 pm, seeing how it was Sunday and we all had work the next day.

The Elbows get a rating of 5.9, Jesca the Pixie Folk Singer gets a 5.1. The venue gets a rating of 8.0—nice architecture, good sound, and seats for sore-backed 30somethings. Minus one point for lack of beer and deduct one more point for the palpable presence of Yahweh, which forced me to watch my language.

PS: It’s only April but I think we have a solid frontrunner for heckle-of-the-year. Folkie Jesca was big on banter and was veering into insufferability when she started praising the venue for being geared towards songs for “active listeners” (fuck). Anyway, she had finished a number and was tuning up and wondering aloud what song she should play next, when some guy on the floor mumbled something. Jesca apparently heard it and said something to the effect of “care to share with the rest of the class?” (not really in a chastising tone, I might add) and the guy said “In A Gadda Da Vida.” Maybe you had to be there but it was pretty funny. Not technically a heckle as he never yelled it out, but simply repeated it at louder volume when Jesca called him out. Well done, sir.

PSS: Title of the post (“Remember Ye The Laws Of Moses”) was inscribed on the wall above one of the menorahs.

5 comments:

etcetera said...

i dont get it.

Joseph Isaack said...

It means that you're stupid.

Potsy said...

Dissenting opinion:

Perhaps it was a product of my early skepticism of this venue, but I didn't care for it and I don't want to go back to the 6th & I Synagogue. Nice place for a day-time event, say, a wedding, but not a place I want to rock out. Seats: padded yet still uncomfortable.
Acoustics: As sacklunch said, it sounded great, but then again, no one was talking or clanking beer bottles to compete.
Concessions: Zero. Offer me something, please. I was so damn thirsty...Manischewitz could be the purveyor...if that's an issue.
Atmosphere: It reminded me of when Max Creek played at my high school auditorium. Every other event in that joint demanded quite, seated, respectful attention, and that's what Max Creek got. They also weren't allowed to have beer on the premises...I feel your pain Mr. Creek.

When we arrived to 6th & I Streets, I overheard some guy on his cellphone say "yeah, we're here. I thought it was just called the synagogue, but it's really a synagogue." If I had a club, I would not call it the "synagogue." I would consider the "sin-a-gog," however, or any derivation thereof.

Jumbo Slice said...

There's something to be said for good acoustics. Go to as many shows as we do and a poor sound system really gets on your nerves.

However, given the choice I'd take a decent beer selection over superior acoustics. Except maybe on Sunday night. That seems the best night to see a show at the local sin-a-gog.

Jimbromski said...

I'd go with "Sin-A-Grog", and have a neon sign showing a Hasidim tipping back a big stein of beer.