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
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 , 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.