UNKLE - Webster Hall, 10/18/07

unkle war stories psycho pab's def-mix
One of the eggs I most regret breaking to make the omelet of a real-life life is the lack of attention I've been able to devote to blogging lately. I didn't always work so much. Now I do. It happens, I guess.

A few weeks before I got hired into my new gig, I frantically and excitedly bought tickets to see UNKLE play their first ever show in New York City. Fast forward. The new job demands a lot of late nights, in a lot of remote places. Committed to working on Staten Island until 10pm last night, I was resignedly accepting of the fact that my tickets to UNKLE would go to waste. Still, I had them in my car, in case by some bizarre twist of fate some Staten Islander wanted to meet me in a parking lot and take them off my hands for the low price desperately floated over craigslist at the last minute.

Then a coworker with a CMJ Schedule told me something that in hindsight I absolutely should have checked for myself: UNKLE wasn't going on until 11pm. What followed was a pedal-to-the-metal 10:35 departure from Shaolin, culminating in being turned away from a filled-to-capacity parking lot on 12th street, only to find an open parking spot on 11th street, right in front of Webster Hall. FTW.

Christ, I just wrote 3 paragraphs without telling you a thing about the show or the band. I'll make it up to you.

I've often heard people shit on the sound system at Webster Hall, but for my money, there are few better systems for the kind of band that UNKLE is: heavy on the bass and the atmosphere, loud and proud. Sure, It sounded like James Lavelle had marbles in his mouth every time he came out from behind his console to address the crowd and I couldn't understand a word of it, but when the band was playing, I could FEEL the songs in a wonderful way. Every note seemed to vibrate my clothes, but not hurt my ears. Rad.

The band was content to play most of the show in darkness, the stage backlit by some better-than-most film clips that ranged from would-be-cool-if-i-was-stoned geometric gyrations to Max-Headroom-ish singing heads for the songs (Burn My Shadow featuring Ian Astbury, Mayday featuring Leila Moss) the band performed with prerecorded vocals.

They were good. A little rough around the edges ("It's my first gig!" one cries after starting the wrong song, necessitating a do-over), but with sufficient swagger and chops to pull off a decidedly cool stage show, regardless of the few prerecorded vox. They played mostly War Stories stuff, but mixed in enough Psyence Fiction to keep the "old school" among us happy.

The encore began with the Thom Yorke vehicle "Rabbit In Your Headlights," which should have been really rad, but which basically amounted to putting the video (below) on the screen and playing the record. If anyone in the band was doing anything at that point other than pressing play, I couldn't tell. Mercifully, they only played a verse or so before ripping through a noisy as hell rendition of "Eye for an Eye," also video accompanied (also below). I left entirely satisfied, and thoroughly worried that my car wouldn't be there when I got outside, because no way a spot as awesome as the one I parked in could be legal. But it totally was. Victory.

Oh yeah, this was cool: At the show they were handing out a CD. It's a "megamix" of the record my some dude named Psycho Pab. On the CD it says to "Rip it/Burn it/Share it" and I'm taking them at their word. Here's a Yousendit link for as long as it lasts: UNKLE - War Stories (Psycho Pab's Def-Mix).

Rabbit In Your Headlights

Eye for an Eye

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