I'm losing my edge.
I'm losing my edge, but I was there.
I was there.
I was there in 2005
I was there when the Arctic Monkeys played their first Mercury Lounge show in New York.
First of all, "The Arctic Monkeys" is a terrible name for a band.
Moving on . . .
I've been complaining recently that catching shows by bands I barely know has been wearing me out and boasting that I was looking forward to last night's Arctic Monkeys show because it was the last concert I had a ticket to and after it I'd be free from keeping up on what's coming up in the world of rock.
But last night's show? What a way to end. The Rakes, Test-Icicles, Lady Sovereign, Art Brut, they've all been talked up a bit, but no one has been talked up like the Arctic Monkeys. The British press has called them "the next Oasis" and said their singer the finest British lyricist since Morrissey. This band hasn't even put out an album yet, but their first single, "I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor" went straight to number one on the UK charts and their first London gig was a sold out show in one of the city's largest clubs. In short, it is ridiculous the attention and talk that the Arctic Monkeys get, so I had no choice but to get a ticket to their show at the ridiculously intimate Mercury Lounge to see what they were about.
It is quite possible that the British press wasn't exaggerating one bit about this band. While their stage show is quite subdued (they don't move around much, but they do play their instruments very, very fast) they are such, such a good band. They're just 4 kids, none of whom look like they could be older than 19, but the music they play is so, so tight and the singer (my research has been shallow, I don't know his name) has a perfect rock voice. I could not have been more impressed, hype could not have been more justified. They Monkeys are playing a second show tonight (this one a sold-out set at the Bowery Ballroom, bumped up from the Mercury Lounge) and I do not mean for this order to be empty: if you live in New York and you care about this sort of thing, beg, borrow, craigslist, or steal a way into this show you will Not regret it. (I'd recommend begging as it's no trick to get into sold out shows at the Bowery, but tonight could be an exception).
Here's a good idea for bands: have an enormous roadie that makes the guitars look like tiny toys when he tunes them.
The Arctic Monkeys took the stage to the strains of "Tha Next Episode" by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Why? Because they're a bunch of kids. The club was packed with record label types, hungry old men with plans for making loads of money off this band. And photographers, there were so many professional photographers there.
Seconds into the first song I was completely won over, and the band wasn't stingey with the awesome, they played their "big hit" I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor almost right away . . . it was a trick to keep the crowd really worked up, as most of us hadn't heard most of their songs before.
These pictures mostly look the same because the band barely moved around. They were too busy sounding perfect to jump around and stuff.
Here's a theory for you: The Arctic Monkeys are a modern day Charles Dickens novel . . . four boys from the streets of London raised by a ruthless (but mildly kind) master to rock better than anyone else and to make that master rich. In fact, were the Artful Dodger not the name of a British garage artist, "Artful Dodger" would be a much better name than "The Arctic Monkeys" (but, then again, almost anything would be a better name than "The Arctic Mokeys"). But guess what? My theory is true, maybe. This Fagin-looking fellow was running the show from the side of the stage, making all sorts of gestures at the band, telling what to do next, and kicking out photographers he felt had overstayed their welcome.
What did I say, they're just a bunch of kids.
The singer made good small talk between songs. For some reason they had to take long breaks between almost every song.
Despite having almost not moved around the stage at all during the whole set, the band threw down their guitars at the end of their last song (the magnificent "Certain Romance") and the drummer kicked over his kit. That's always a good sign that there won't be an encore.
Here's something for the "I Kid You Not" File: During the show the giant roadie held up a piece of paper at the side of the stage with something written on it and it made the drummer and guitarist crack up (I'm sure Fagin wasn't pleased with this at all and Giant Roadie got no porridge that night). After the show Giant Roadie was handing out setlists to the audience, (it turns out the paper he held up was a setlist) and he gave the girl right by me the setlist he had held up to the band . . . and you know what it said on it? "I Love Lamp." I kid you not. These British boys, they love our American comedy!
This is a set list with nothing on it besides the songs that were played that night.
In other news, The Harlem Shakes opened for the Arctic Monkeys. That's a pretty good name for a band. But some better names for the band would be:
"The High-Pitched Lady Singers"
or . . .
"Our Bassist is Awesome!!!"
Sometimes I wonder if the Mercury Lounge will be revered in 30 years the way CBGBs is now? Probably not, as the Mercury Lounge might still book decent acts 30 years from now.