March 31, 2012

Housse De Racket / Avan Lava / Cookies - Bowery Ballroom - March 22, 2012

On Thursday night, I started my evening out by going to Webster Hall. Even though I saw that We Are Augustines were on the marquee, it took me awhile to figure out that I was at the wrong location. So, I quickly walked down to Bowery Ballroom. I could have sworn The Bowery Presents calender listed Housse de Racket as playing at Webster Hall, but that may have been a sub-conscience assumption since that was the place, the first time I saw the duo open for Yelle.

Luckily, I made to the Bowery Ballroom, in enough time to see all three bands. It may not have been a sold out show but I thought it was definitely a show where anyone of the bands could have headlined. I state that because of the two opening bands neither seemed like they were just starting out and getting there feet wet.


Even though I thought I was getting a little senile by going-to-duh-wrong-place, I was absolutely sure that Cookies were not originally listed on the evening's bill. Gratefully, it was confirmed by a member of Cookies that they had only been added to the show until the night before.

And so it goes that when the band walked down from the curtained VIP in Bowery's balcony, through the door and onto the stage, I thought they were Avan Lava. Then lightening struck and it occurred to me that I was watching Cookies. (Now can you image if Daddy drank - oye!)

There wasn't too much of crowd when Cookies started their set with "Go Getter," but eventually those who had arrived early gathered in front of the stage. My first thought was that Cookies reminded me of New Pornographers a wee bit, without being as rhythmically complicated. But as Cookies eventually went through their set I noticed that their music was too varied to make any conclusive comparisons. That observation became even clearer when I read the statement at the bottom of their webpage which states "Cookies is a band from New York City specializing in popular music."

There is a bit of a Roxy Music mystique about Cookies as a band. There seemed to be a smart sexiness which I picked up on during their performance and from the photographs of 10"vinyl covers shown on the Cookies webpage. Without trying to, Cookies' vinyl disc covers remind me of Roxy Music album covers like Flesh + Blood, Stranded, Country Life and Siren.

One the songs that grabbed me was "Wilderness Tips," with a lyric that went something like "little mean, it took you six months to fit in those jeans." It's an odd lyric but it stuck out in a good way (Hey - I remembered it after a full night of music.) The song's mid-tempo felt very Tom Tom Club. As for the song's vocals, they were traded off between Ben Sterling and Melissa Metrick. And when both vocalists sang in unison on the line "We'll walk away from everybody that we know - like a criminal" it sounded coquettish.

Cookies ended with "BoyCrazy," which was my favorite next to "Wilderness Tips." The song is kind of Nile Rodgers meets Shakespear's Sisterr with tiche of Tom Vek, who they have by the way done a remix of his song "Someone Loves You."

Before Housse De Racket performed I noticed Melissa Metrick standing next to me, so I told her how much I enjoyed Cookies performance. We talked for awhile about being native New Yorkers and the changes that NYC has gone through. She mentioned that Cookies would be opening for Dale Earnheart Jr. Jr. on April 1st. Hopefully, I will get to see that show and Cookies a second time.

Cookies Set List
1.Go Getter
3.Wilderness Tips
4.The Dream
6.Summer Jam

Cookies are:
Ben Sterling - singer/ programmer /guitarist
Melissa Metrick - vocals / Keyboards
Ian Ainley drums
Wyeth Hansen bass


As I told front man and vocalist,Tom "TC" Hennes after the show, Avan Lava's set was like a party and everyone's invited. He confirmed my assessment of the band by repeating "everyone's invited, everyone's invited." By that time in the evening, TC seemed invigorated not only by his own band's set but by standing in audience by the stage to watch Housse de Racket.

Avan Lava's set started with an organ sound and fog, then a hiphop beat as the members of the band finally walked out. Once the band broke into "Tear It Down," I was automatically impressed by the very Prince like flavor of the entire song. But I was soon to learn that Prince wasn't the only flavor in the mix of songs predominantly reminiscent of the 80's.

TC was flanked by the extremely energetic Jo Lampert looking like a female version of Urkel and Drew Citron looking like a cheer leader. During the song "Tear It Down," all three vocalist broke into moves that were typical of party goers on a dance floor. The most memorable was TC acting like he was going down on keyboardist Le Chev toward then end of the song. (As with all good parties, Avan Lava's set included a homo-erotic and lesbi-onic moments.)

The song "ESG," which followed is when TC's vocal most reminded me of George Micheal and the song's lyric reminded me of David Bowie's "John, I'm Only Dancing." Immediately after the song, Avan Lava did their song "Booty Clap (Slow Motion)" which made me think that if R. Kelly were in the house he would be hitting on some girl without a wristband.

Avan Lava's presentation included multi-color lazer lights, conventional stage lighting and additional black lighting. Aside from constantly moving,Avan Lava's lighting is enough to keep audience party people feeling a euphoric high while being a photographer's worst nightmare. Nonetheless, the band's brand of R&B keep the crowd dancing in place with interesting moments to watch such as the toast of multicolored champagne glasses during "I Wanna to Live" and the ladies kissing during "Sisters." And not to be forgotten were the fun moments, when both Lampert and Citron blew soap bubbles or threw giant balloons into the audience.

Avan Lava's set ended with what I believe is their current single "It's Never Over." You can see a cute promotional video by the band on Youtube. During the song's live performance, TC gave the command to confetti the audience by saying "Shoot those Motherfuckers!" ....and after recalling that moment what else can I state other than it was a brilliant set with an excellent climax.

Avan Lava Set List:

1.Tear It Down
2. Party Time
3. ESG
4. Booty Clap (Slow Motion)
5. I Wanna Live
6. Sisters
7. Easy Way
8. Pure As Love
9. It's Never Over

Avan Lava are:
Tom "TC" Hennes - Vocalist
Le Chev - Keys
Ian Pai - Drums
Jo Lampert - Vocalist
Drew Citron - Vocalist
Andrew Schneider - Keys / Percussion

Housse De Racket

The outline of Housse De Racket's set was basically the same as when they opened for Yelle. You can check out that write-up by clicking here. Of course, there were a few additional songs but the set opened with the same four songs and closed with the same three. Though this time around there set felt more full length by bringing town the pace in the middle and then coming back up for the ending and the encore.

Seeing the band the second time around, I was able to relearn (and retain) the pronunciation of their name. First, by hearing TC from Avan Lava pronounce it and second when Pierre Leroux had the audience repeat the bands name during their set. Phonetically, the duo's name is pronounced Whooze Duh Raa kett.

This time around the boys did a song about what Leroux described as "a very fast train in France" called "TGV." When Victor le Masne joined Leroux on the chorus of the song, it sounded very much like a momentous theme song sung in French. The song was propelled by le Masne's very purposely choppy and fast drumming. But what I particularly liked, was when the music dropped out for, Leroux's guitar strums which sounded like Major 7 or 9 chords.

"Alessia" was for the most part an anthemic ballad and the point in show I mentioned earlier where the pace slowed down. I think it was a risk well taken; not many bands would include a song like "Alessia" in their set. The song lasted no more than 4 minutes and was a good set up for the intro to song that followed.

As the intro to "Chorus" started le Masne said "this is the sexy part of the set." I'm not sure because it was a little hard to follow but I think Leroux meshed up some of the intro with their song "Rendevous" off of their first album Forty Love. The reason I think so is because it was the only spoken word song I heard them do in French as a part of their set. Whatever the case was, when they got to meat and potatoes part of the song I loved it - it was one of my evening's favorites.

Of course Housse de Racket played "Oh Yeah," but kept it as a part of their set. For the encore, they choose to play "Synthéstieseur" which included Leroux soloing on moog before the song's finish and the duo's final bow. When the show finally ended I wanted more. Housse de Racket has a sound which is accessible to American ears, namely my own, while still being uniquely French. I'm looking forward to hearing new music and seeing a new tour in the not too distant future.

Housse De Racket Set List
1. Human Nature
2. Chateau
3. Les Hommes et les Femmes
4. Apocalypso
5. TGV
6. Alesia
7. Chorus
8. Oh Yeah
9. Roman
10.  Aquarium


Housse de Racket are:
Victor le Masne - Drums and vocals
Pierre Leroux - Guitar, keyboards and vocals

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