Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Randi Russo at Cake Shop, NYC 5/8/07

When the band took the stage just after 8, there wasn’t much of a crowd, perhaps because this was a last-minute gig at an odd hour for NYC’s reigning chatelaine of outsider rock anthems. The sound, usually pristine at this venue, left something to be desired for much of the show, Randi Russo’s vocals cutting in and out of the mix. She and her bass player were clearly ticked off, but the drummer and lead guitarist Lenny Molotov were exuberant. The energy was high right off the bat, as they launched into a ridiculously catchy new song, possibly titled Invisible: “I am, I am invisible/I feel, I feel invincible.” At the end, Molotov picked up the delicious soul-infused lick that opens the song. Next on the set list was Wonderland, a big alienation anthem and audience favorite from Russo’s first full-length cd, Solar Bipolar. “I heard you went to Wonderland/Come back and see me if you can.”

They followed with another unreleased track, a titanic, 6/8 epic called Prey which the band built to a towering crescendo and an uncharacteristically metalesque ending. After that, they dug out one of her earlier songs, the stomping, hook-driven, Velvets-style One Track Mind, from her Live at CB’s Gallery ep. The next tune was another unreleased number, House on the Hill which built from a swinging backbeat on the verse to a percussive firestorm on the chorus, then back again. Following that, they did the funky, haunting, minor-key Battle on the Periphery, a dayjob-from-hell number that gave Molotov a chance to show off his love of evil, Middle Eastern-inflected licks. The set’s final song was the surprisingly upbeat Ceiling Fire, from Russo’s latest album Shout Like a Lady.

Russo didn’t say much between songs, busy changing from one tuning to another. She’s lefthanded and plays Hendrix-style, upside down, and with the odd tunings, gets a maelstrom of eerie, ringing overtones out of her Gibson SG guitar. She and the band encored with a long, ragaesque, psychedelic number that gave them a chance to stretch out and play off each other. They’ve been heading in a more improvisational direction lately, unusual for a group whose job is basically to flesh out Russo’s meticulously crafted songs. For anyone who missed this show – and by the looks of it, most did – they’re playing Cake Shop again at the early hour of 5:30 PM on Saturday May 19 in celebration of the bass player’s birthday, as they’ve done for three years in a row now. No doubt much of the crème de la crème of the NYC underground music scene will be there (which means that you won’t have to worry about bumping into Lindsay Lohan or her legions of lookalikes).

May 10, 2007 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment