The Suburbs is probably in my top three favorite albums of all-time. But, I've been floored with all of Arcade Fire's albums. I deeply felt all of the cuts on the dark Neon Bible, and caught on early when Funeral dropped in 2004. Surprisingly, up until this fall, I had never been able to see the band live. For years, I felt this gaping hole because of it. I'm fortunate in the field I've chosen to see a lot of concerts, but my favorite band had alluded me for quite a long time and I had this crushing need to see them anyway, anyhow when Win and his fellow talented Canucks hit the road again. In October, I scored tickets to see them perform tracks off their latest Reflektor album at a costume party within an abandoned Brooklyn warehouse. As I stood on line with my friend Max, a designer who lent me one of his masks for the evening, my anticipation for the show was as high as Snoop Dogg at a frat party. Once the lights went off, and the Fire's alt-egos "The Reflektors" took the stage, I was mesmerized for an hour-and-a-half. I can honestly say their performance of "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" that night was among the best songs I've ever seen live.
So why do I mention this Arcade Fire show from a few months ago? This is certainly not a "best of 2013" article. Been there, done that. I paint you this picture to tell you a different story altogether. Say what? I'll explain. As I stated above, it'd been years that I had felt "a crushing need" to see a band live. Well, just a month after seeing Arcade Fire, it happened again. The astonishing thing about it was, unlike the Canadian indie rock band, it took just four months for me to see these guys live. If you don't mind, I'll paint another picture. (Not literally. I can't paint.)
I had heard of Yo Gabba Gabba! long before my son was born nearly two years ago. I had seen it a few times for a few seconds while channel surfing, but as cool as I thought it was, I never thought to watch it regularly. Why would I? I wasn't a parent and as trippy cool as it was, it just seemed wrong to tune in. Around that time, I also had a chance to play DJ at my friend's son's first birthday party, and play some tunes from the show. But, as wonderful as the kid-friendly tracks from The Roots and The Ting Tings (among others) were, I couldn't keep them on my iTunes for very long. Fun side note: my friend Rich was dressed up as DJ Lance while I dressed up as Obi Wan Kenobi but referred to myself as DJ-Wan Kenobi. OK, maybe that's not as innovative as I thought back then. Anyway, let me carry on. I promise there's a point here. (I'm in too deep now to turn back on this post.)
Last summer, my wife and I started letting my son watch television here or there. We had planned to wait until he turned two, but fellow parents know how that can be almost impossible when there's a toddler on one side of the room, and a big, shiny television on the other. That said, we've kept the TV-viewing down to a minimum but we make sure Gabbaland is a priority. We've all bonded over DJ Lance Rock and his pals Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee, and Plex. Gabba has provided him with not just lively characters, sequences, and catchy songs, but with life lessons like don't bite your friends or take a nap to recharge your batteries. Sound advice indeed. The show is innovative, fun, and just plain nuts with characters and vignettes that seem to come from Saturday Night Live's Stefan's imagination, but it's an extremely valuable and educational show. Celebrity band and actor cameos help but the show is more than that.
So why am I shilling for a show that doesn't need any help getting eyeballs tuned to it? The answer is quite simply Arcade Fire. Um, now I've lost you. Let me get you back. Last weekend, I took my family to the Beacon Theatre in New York City to see DJ Lance and the gang perform their A Very Awesome - Yo Gabba Gabba! Live - Holiday Show. The experience - from the minute we left the train station to the moment we arrived in the legendary New York venue - far exceeded all the wonderful feelings I had felt standing outside of the Brooklyn warehouse with my mask on. Look, seeing a band you love is great, but watching a show your child loves through his eyes of wonder is always going to top it. It helped that the show was so tip top on every level. From DJ Lance arriving on stage in a sleigh to the Gabba Gang recreating wonderful moments on the show like decorating a Christmas tree to Biz Markie presenting his funky beat of the day, it was a magical show - or as they'd say an "AAAAAAAAWESOME" show. If I was a toddler, this would've been my Beatles moment. It nearly was. Who would've guessed in all those years I was smitten to see my favorite band live that the moment I'd finally get to see them would be eclipsed a month later by a clumsy red cyclops named Muno?
About A-Sides Music
Jon Chattman's "A-Sides Music" series was established in August 2011 and usually features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I'm hoping this is refreshing.