March 26, 2009

The Harlem Shakes @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on my laptop waiting for their 11pm set tonight for their album release party for Technicolor Health (my favorite release of 2009 thus far). I decided why not write the review now since I already know it will contain any if not all of the following words and phrases: awesome, rad, ridiculous, amazing, incredible, best show of the year, there's nothing like NYC indie rock, and future father of my children.

I will report back post-show to let you know if they were as good as I already know they will be. Yay!

The recap: As I was packing up to head over to the MHOW, Kyp Malone from TV on the Radio strolled into the joint and I was the only one who seemed to care, oddly. I went up to him and we chatted over tea about Coachella, life in general, and what the heck he was doing at an ordinary coffee shop and why he's not at some glamorous industry party somewhere. He's chill as hell and considering they've collaborated with David Bowie, I imagine it's the closest I'll ever get to Bowie.

The Harlem Shakes set was every bit exciting and aurally pleasing as I'd predicted. A high-energy, fun, upbeat, toe-tappin' good time. If I may, a total musical anti-depressant since it's impossible to hear this music and feel sad (ubiquitous scruffy Williamsburg indie rock-type boys seem to also have this effect). They had a touring brass section, a syrupy sweet lead singer who was so grateful that fans came out, and a super-animated bassist who at one point was plugging away at his bass, hitting a bongo and shaking a maraca, all in one song. Even though this dorky lot of boys seem to have the same stylist as Vampire Weekend (minus the boat shoes), the evening felt like a sort of homecoming and they infused extra love in their set for their local East Coast/Brooklyn fans.

Per their sound, I quote myself to a once curious friend: "They sound like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah banged Vampire Weekend, but then realized that Born Ruffians is 'the one.'" I'm going to have to go ahead and add "had a brief thing on the side with The Strokes" right before the Born Ruffians part (even though HS > The Strokes in the talent department) and it's entirely accurate. They played every track off Technicolor Health and a few off their EP. My favorite performances of the night were "Strictly Game" (I love that drum beat sound at the :28 mark) and the breakdown during "Radio Orlando" with those tiny shards of guitar. Great on album, but even better live.

I highly recommend this show to all, particularly awmercy!


Nightrain said...

Nice PREview... to steal a line from the sports world: "They are what we thought they were!"

awmercy said...

So jealous.

Mona said...

Hahah, thanks NR and Awmercy. I definitely urge you two to see them live, what a fantastic album.

Awmercy, I videotaped "Strictly Game" in its entirety and uploaded it to FB, enjoy what you missed!

Nightrain said...

Blatant copyright infringement.

awmercy said...

Oh man. I can't wait until they play Portland.

Nightrain said...

Nice review. Sounds like a fun show.

Mona said...

I feel like such a dork, but I cannot stop listening to this album, or watching the live clip from last night. I still feel like dancing right now, haha.

NR, please don't sue. I have no intentions to distribute!

awmercy said...

Hell yeah! The Harlem Shakes are going to be touring through Portland! Guess who is going to be there.

May 16 Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, New York)
May 18 Empty Bottle (Chicago, Illinois)
May 19 Fine Line (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
May 23 The Biltmore (Vancouver, British Columbia)
May 24 Wonder Ballroom (Portland, Oregon)*May 26 Bimbo’s 365 Club (San Francisco, California)*
May 28 Troubadour (Los Angelez, California)*
May 29 Echoplex (Los Angeles, California)*
May 30 Glasshouse (Pomona, California)*
Jun 2 Granada (Dallas, Texas)*
Jun 3 Emo’s (Austin, Texas)*
Jun 4 Warehouse Live (Houston, Texas)*
Jun 5 Spanish Moon (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)*
Jun 6 Drunken Unicorn (Atlanta, Georgia)*
Jun 8 The National (Richmond, Virginia)*
Jun 9 Black Cat (Washington DC)*
Jun 13 Mad Hatter (Covington, Kentucky)*
Jun 14 Empty Bottle (Chicago, Illinois)*
Jun 16 TBD (Toronto, Ontario)*
Jun 18 Paradise (Boston, Massachusetts)*

* = w/ Passion Pit

Mona said...

Hahahahha, I'm so thrilled for you. I wish I could go again! I cannot wait to read about this review. I better be able to "hear" the enthusiasm and excitement in your words!

PS- May 28 Troubadour (Los Angelez, California)*

I love how they spelled "Los Angelez" like it was a hispanic last name. I sure hope that was a typo! hahah