Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bloc Party @ United Palace Theatre, 3.30.07

This is probably just as much a review of United Palace Theatre as it is a recap of Bloc Party as I'm sure most fans have seen them live at some time or another. InMyTree finally convinced me to bring a camera, which I did, and now I just need to figure out how to upload the photos. Not surprisingly, they look like shit. UPDATED: Added a few photos; thanks for the direction, InMyTree.

As for United Palace, there is no doubt that this is a beautiful old venue/church but it sure as hell doesn't look like the rendered photos on their site. Because it's a church, there obviously aren't any bars so the beer situation is brutal. One packed serving area below and one above. Not ideal. I believe this was also the first Bowery concert at the venue and it showed. The band encouraged people to move forward (the stage setup was about 10 feet from the first row), security wasn't having it. The band won, security finally relented. Plaster falling from the ceiling onto the stage, lights coming on at the wrong time, etc. Not to mention a packed subway platform afterwards of drunk people. It reminded me of leaving Shea stadium or a Nats game. Fortunately, the subway is empty at that time so getting on isn't a problem. Don't expect to find cabs in Washington Heights. As for the sound, I was right smack dab in the middle, 12th row from the stage and to my untrained ears, had absolutely no complaints about the sound. The potential is definitely there.

I missed Sebastian Grainger (DFA1979) but did manage to catch most of Albert Hammond Jr.'s set. I haven't heard any of his recorded songs but he really does sound very much like the Strokes. It was pretty innocuous but entertaining. Bloc Party took the stage at 9:50 and for a little while seemed a bit uncertain of their surroundings. There's no disguising the fact that this is one of my favorite bands so it's out of love if I'm a little harsh. Maybe it was the venue (seated venues are never ideal unless it's the Garden) or the incessant touring but the show was just "ok." These guys have some of the best b-sides this side of Pearl Jam but the setlist was completely by the book, an even split of Silent Alarm and A Weekend in the City. Can I get some "Two More Years" or something? My last gripe, they only played for an hour and twenty minutes. I may be a bit spoiled by now but bring your band to NYC, charge $45 for a ticket, and I'm going to expect a little bit more.

I should mention that the songs they DID play sounded excellent. Silent Alarm has so many hits and they all still sound incredible. In a live setting, I can definitely hear the difference in direction with the new songs (I actually really like the new album). Not a bad thing, by any stretch, they just need a little bit more seasoning. "Songs for Clay" and "waiting for the 7.18" are among the best songs they've ever written. The line of the night came from Gordon while encouraging the crowd to move up and get loose said, "this is not a Snow Patrol concert."

Tentative Setlist:
"Song for Clay (Disappear Here)"
"Positive Tension"
"Blue Light"
"Hunting for Witches"
"Waiting for the 7.18"
"Where Is Home"
"This Modern Love"
"The Prayer"
"So Here We Are"
"I Still Remember"
"Like Eating Glass"
"She's Hearing Voices"

"Little Thoughts" and/or "Luno" could have been in there too, I'm not sure.

Random pic of venue:
Albert Hammond Jr.:
Bloc Party:


Anonymous said...

That certainly wasn't the first show at United Palace. Every weekend there are acts there, but they usually are latino acts. So it's not new, but that space was built in the 30s (as a Loews Theater) and has been having shows ever since I've lived here (5 years). It's probably the first show that the Bowery has hosted which is now renting the space. They are also hosting Arcade Fire, Bjork, and Iggy. I just hope this doesn't change the neighborhood. Keep the damn hipster freaks OUT!

JK said...

ha, i hear you on that. The folks in the neighbor didn't know what hit them after the show let out. I didn't mean to imply that this was new a venue. I'm certainly aware of the history. I think this is the first "rock" show that they've hosted (first by Bowery, yes). Got 3rd row seats for AF so I'll be back soon.

Anonymous said...

That was/is by far the worst venue in the NYC area. I feel bad for anyone who just spent another $30-$45 on Arcade Fire tickets. If you want alcohol, bring a flask. If you want to use the bathroom, bring an empty bottle. If you want to actually see the show, wait for the videos on you tube. The lights coming on during the show was really cool also. I will never go back there.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this blog sure knows how to attract cynical complainers with no taste. I thought the United Palace Theatre was great. The theatre itself is such a beautiful place.

The lines were long, but the total wait was never longer than waiting at any other venue while one bartenders serves a 30 ft. bar. I had plenty of beer and didn't miss a song.

The lights were amazing, the sound was great. I love it, and I had bad seats.

In fact, the only real complaint I had was the people who attended the show. Some Jersey a-holes put their cigarettes out on the seats in front of me. No respect for a truly beautiful venue.

Leave your comfort zone, you whiny shoegazers!

Anonymous said...

jk, were you in a red-ish plaid shirt?

JK said...

no, that wasn't me. was wearing a brown thermal, i think.

Anonymous said...

I am planning to drive in for a concert at United Palace. Is there convenient and safe parking near the theater?

JK said...

I heard parking in that area is a bit of a nightmare. if you're going to do it, i would recommend getting there very early.

Anonymous said...

The place seemed to be nice not but not very well maintained. I noticed paint peeling, foul smell of mold. Is there AC? That would account for the mold smell...Anyways, caught the Beck show on 10-08-2008, sound would have been good if it wasn't too loud...