The Feelies at Mass MoCA 11/11/2011

16 Nov

I discovered The Feelies in the summer after high school.  I was screwing around on allmusic.com looking at Pavement’s page when I noticed the “Influenced By” section.  At the time (and not much has changed) I was totally obsessed with Pavement.  I figured, why not give some of these bands a shot that supposedly influenced them?  As it turns out, the list was a gold mine.  I recognized some bands, but that list introduced me to Wire, Can, Swell Maps, Half Japanese, Pere Ubu, oh, and The Feelies.  I downloaded their 1980 debut (I was a poor-ass college kid…I’ll make up for it later).  “Crazy Rhythms” became one of my most listened to albums of that year.  It is quick, manic at times, anxious, warm, experimental, self-conscious…pretty much me in a nutshell.  It’s als0 really hard to pigeon-hole it with a genre.  I’m fairly certain that both “Fa Ce-La” and their cover of the Beatles’ “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)” both had 100+ plays a piece that year.

As seen above, I bought a vinyl of “Crazy Rhythms” and a t-shirt (not pictured) in addition to the ticket as an offering to the band and the gods of music download karma (forgive me!).

I have to admit that The Feelies are a band that I thought I would never get a chance to see live.  They have such an unrecognized influence on major bands of the 80’s and 90’s: Pavement, R.E.M., Sebadoh, Weezer (does the cover to “Crazy Rythms” look familiar?).  I was idly flipping through an Albany Metroland one evening while waiting for a friend and I saw that The Feelies had a show booked at Mass MoCA in November.  I said out loud to myself, “I’m going.”  I bought my ticket a week later.  $24.50?  Are you kidding me?  I didn’t know it at the time, but I think that is the best bang I’ve gotten for my concert buck ever!

I tried to get a bunch of friends excited about the show.  Most of them weren’t familiar with The Feelies, but were very interested when I played them some tracks and explained how influential the band is.  It was by chance that I found out about the new album a few weeks ago when I revisited the allmusic page for the first time in a few years to show the band bio to a friend.  I was somewhere in between excited and terrified as I am with any band that I like that releases something after a significant hiatus…not to mention 20 years!

“Here Before” (2011) feels like just that.  Have you ever had an old friend that you haven’t talked to in years call you up and it’s as if you chatted yesterday?  Here it is in album form.  And as evidenced by the show last Friday guys, “it’s not too late to do it again.”  “Nobody Knows” Live

As per the usual, I have about 10 friends interested, and the day of, it’s going solo.  North Adams, MA is only about an hour and change from Albany, but that being said, I can count on one hand the number of shows that I’ve gone to alone, not to mention an hour plus drive.  I was going to see that show.

Mass MoCA’s Hunter Center is a really cool venue.  Very intimate.  When I first got there, I was nervous because only half or so of the seats were filled.  About five minutes before the show, people started to file in.  There were two sections of seats, but nobody was interested in seating when The Feelies came on.

It was a good crowd too.  They were loud but not noisy; they had a good energy during the songs: singing along, bobbing their heads, smiling, and thanks to one fan, Roy (whom I met during intermission and was impressed by me knowing of The Bats in addition to The Feelies), the dancing picked up for the second set.

I wasn’t surprised to see 40-50-somethings as the majority of the crowd, but there were also a number of folks my age and even a few kids to which Brenda Sauter remarked, “It’s nice to see families here…it’s also nice to see non-families here.”  It was quiet enough in between songs to hear individuals shout kudos like: “You’re awesome!”, “You guys got me through college!”, or my personal favorite prior to the encore “Three more!  Five or six more!  Ten more!!”

What I loved most was without trying that hard, you could get yourself within 15 feet of the band at all times.  I parked it up front for all but two beer runs.

Bill Million

and Brenda Sauter without a zoom (albeit a shitty camera phone).  Not bad, eh?  And not to sound creepy because she’s old enough to be my mother, but how cute is Brenda?

Sorry, Glen…I was at stage right.  I got a glimpse of Dave for “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)” ; Dave and that one dude’s bald spot.  It was everywhere.  Mr. Demeski, I heard you the whole time.  Flawless.

As to be expected with a new album out, the set list did incorporate a number of the new tracks, but they were effective in performing a smattering of their entire catalog as well as a handful of covers: The Beatles, R.E.M. and here’s one originally by The Stooges: “I Wanna Be Your Dog”

Overall, the show surpassed all of my expectations and I left feeling incredibly satisfied.  How couldn’t you??  Two sets and three encores!  I wish I could say that the band sounded as tight live as I’ve ever heard them, but they unofficially disbanded when I was seven.  It’s not going to change the fact that I brag about seeing The Feelies live to anybody that cares or doesn’t from here on out.  Last Friday, I felt privileged.

Earlier this week, I “liked” The Feelies on facebook.  A few days later, I saw a video post from the show.  I didn’t get a chance to check it out until today.  I was watching the video thinking “hmmm…that bald spot looks familiar.”  Imagine my elation when I discovered that it was my youtube video!

Since The Feelies were so kind to me, I’ve decided to leave my own encore:

“The Final Word” Live

“Original Love” Live

And this instrumental that may have been the most fun I had at the show…

“Slipping (Into Something)” Live

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3 Responses to “The Feelies at Mass MoCA 11/11/2011”

  1. Doug H November 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Even more elation (maybe), the bald spot is mine. I’ll stand further back next time 🙂

    Seriously though, I went with my 12 year old budding rock star/guitar player who dubbed the show, awesome!

    • the self-hating hipster November 20, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

      You had a great spot, I can’t blame you. All joking aside, that’s great! Your son saw a great show. I always love going to shows with my father, so keep it up. Cheers, Doug!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Nippertown! - November 18, 2011

    […] OPINIONS: Jeremy D. Goodwin’s review at The Berkshire Eagle The Self-Hating Hipster’s review and photos Kirsten Ferguson’s review at Metroland Michael Janairo’s review and photographs at The […]

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