It seems like we never have a low key weekend; there’s always so much to do on Long Island and in New York!
A few months ago we booked tickets to see Alkaline Trio, one of my favorite bands from high school and beyond. It’s been nearly 10 years now that I’ve devoured their music, sang it ’til my throat was raw and hoped I could get to a show. The stars finally aligned and I was not disappointed. They put on an amazing show, drawing on their vast discography to play crowd favorites and new songs alike. There were so many fans just as devoted as I was and it was a great experience to feel our voices merge into one.
The Paramount was a pretty great venue. It’s located in the cute downtown area of Huntington and was well-lit, felt safe and was an active Saturday night location. We had no problem finding parking on the street. All of the staff at the Paramount were friendly and directed us to our seats in the balcony area. I’m so glad we bought tickets for the balcony rather than the general admission seats on the floor. The crowd was really involved on the floor, which meant a lot of mosh pits and hardcore dancing and I’m just too old for that. Having an actual place to sit, put your things and have a drink was such a relief. Sitting up on the mezzanine did make me very aware of the other people around me and I felt there wasn’t enough room to stand up and move around if you wanted to because other patron’s views would be blocked.
My only issues with the Paramount in general was the price of drinks and the sound quality. $25 for two mixed drinks is steep, especially for the small sizes they were served in. The acoustics in this venue were not amazing for a show that should have had more focus on vocals. A venue and a show like this should be loud, but the Paramount seemed like mostly just noise.
My experience was very positive though, despite those two minor issues. I’d definitely head back again for another show. The venue is very unique and well-maintained. It has a great atmosphere and the crowd seemed to be mature and just as interested in the artists performing as I was.
Sunday night we saw Kavinksy at Webster Hall. A few weeks ago Mike and I were listening to Spotify together as we do most nights while we’re playing World of Warcraft or just hanging out in our office. “Nightcall” by Kavinsky comes on Mike’s playlist. We turn to each other and realize we’re both hooked on this song. The beat infects you, takes over your nervous system, drives you to dance. “I’d love to just go out and dance to this song right now,” I remark. “Where can we go just dance to this kind of music?” A quick use of his Google Fu and Mike’s pulled up Kavinsky’s tour dates. And he’s playing in NYC in two weeks. It was fate. We booked the tickets.
Going out on a Sunday night was a bit ambitious for me. I’m not a morning person, meaning I’m not a late night person the night before a work day, but I’m in the part of my life where I have the means to go out and few responsibilities. Living in New York has challenged me to get out of my comfort zone more often and this was just another exercise in that.
Webster Hall is in probably my favorite area of NYC: between Union Square and NYU. Every great night out I’ve had this year has begun somewhere nearby and ended at Ray’s Pizza Bagel Cafe on the corner of St. Mark’s, under the St. Mark’s Hotel. My favorite slice of pizza lives here, tried and true, for better or for worse, drunk or sober, always delicious. But that’s a story for another blog post.
We arrived at Webster Hall right at 8:00 p.m., when the doors opened for the show. We were funneled into a line at the end of the block, then told to turn around and get into a line at the main door. And then we waited for nearly half an hour in the cold and the cigarette smoke of every young European kid in Manhattan. When we were finally let in 30 minutes later, men and women were separated into two security lines. Communication between the staff and patrons broke down here, with women standing in the men’s lines and then being pushed into the front of the women’s line (which was of course longer and slower than the men’s line). The woman working security went through every item in my purse. Touched every single thing, opened up anything inside. Told me “this is why you’re supposed to take your bag off your shoulder” when no one had given me any instructions on how to go through security. Then gave me a serious pat down. It was on par with my TSA experiences. All that to get into a venue. I could understand the added security for some place like Madison Square Garden or a large coliseum, but not for Webster Hall. After that I was irritated at best and about ready to give up on the show. But after an unwelcoming first impression (and maybe that’s just New York being New York and me still being the naive Southerner), Webster Hall was alright.
The venue is beautiful and vast. The bartenders were great (read as: my drink was strong), the drinks were cheap ($16 for a beer and cocktail) and everyone there was having a great time. Best of all the acoustics were fantastic. A night and day difference from the concert the night before at the Paramount. We stood on the mezzanine area in Webster Hall and could hear treble, not just bass. The floor near the stage was very loud and bass-heavy when we first entered, but that’s what a lot of people enjoy in this kind of setting.
Kavinsky killed it. He had an incredibly commanding stage presence and an insane light show. With just a flick of his wrist, he had the crowd wrapped around his finger, commanding their screams. He started up a song, flicked his lighter and lit up a cigarette immediately upon entering the stage. And continued to chain smoke through the whole performance. After the show, he walked out from behind the booth to take his bow, waving and striking various poses with minimal enthusiasm, in such a nonchalant and effortless fashion. Everything about him was just so French. I can’t highly recommend seeing Kavinsky live if you like anything electronic. You can feel a lot of Daft Punk-esque French house inspiration and early 80’s synth-pop in his music. He’s not just a DJ; he’s a performer.
As far as Webster Hall goes, I might return for a similar show in the future. I was really put off by the amount of bouncers and security and how unwelcome I felt trying to get in. I’d suggest not bringing a purse or bag with you because it created such a hassle, but I’d still have to wait in a slow line as a woman behind other people with bags. I hate to lug so much stuff with me when I’m going out, but now that the weather is taking a turn for the chilly, it’s necessary to have somewhere to stow our gloves, hats, scarves and such. In my opinion, a venue shouldn’t make its patrons feel like a criminal for carrying a purse, but that’s an unavoidable part of living in our modern world.