Last night, Ezra Furman & the Harpoons kicked off their new residency at Pianos in LES, a tour they’ve dubbed “Out of the Sky and into the Nightclubs”. The show marked several firsts for the band, including their first show in New York since they’ve begun the process of relocating from Chicago to New York. Additionally, it marked the first show with new permanent member Andrew Langer, who had only moved into the city just yesterday in a uhaul leaving no warm up time.
I have been a big fan of Ezra Furman since I first came across their debut “Banging Down the Doors” back in 2007 when I listed it as #9 of my top albums of 2007, and specifically “I Dreamed of Moses” as being the #3 song of 2007. As things go, despite other cheers for I Dreamed of Moses, it wasn’t meant to be for that night, but the remainder of the selections were fantastic, spanning equal parts first album and second, along with a few tracks from the upcoming album which is a work-in-progress.
Starting out the set was the song that first introduced me to the band “Mother’s Day” which begins “This Song is called Mother’s Day…it’s about a whore that I knew in Chicago”. As the set moved forward, it moved away from the Dylanesque bar-room sounds of the album towards Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes) meets Ted Leo/Pharmacists punk sound. While I prefer the former, the later worked just as well and probably better for getting the crowd moving. Particularly by the time “The Moon” entered the set, with it’s dancey feel, the crowd was energized, having fun & singing along to every song. The following song kept the motif, as Ezra screamed aloud “in a trance in France I learned how to dance”. The aggression continued to build throughout the set, breaking for the slightly-too-radio-friendly “Take Off Your Sunglasses” which is incredibly catchy and is still stuck in my head, but feels like a intentional departure for purposes of getting radio play. I’m all for good music getting radio play, but when the songs are adapted for that purpose, I’m generally skeptical.
For the encore that wasn’t really supposed to happen, Ezra stayed on stage to perform a couple solo acoustic songs, beginning with the song that was requested throughout the set “Kirsten Dunst”. Clearly, Kirsten Dunst was a song Ezra hasn’t played in a while and hadn’t intended on playing that night, but every the interactive frontman, he appeased his audience. Kirsten Dunst, as you might imagine, was one of those slightly comedic, slightly creepy celebrity stalker songs in the key of The Zoinks‘ “Uma (Thurman) 14 Times” or All Girl Summer Fun Band‘s “Jason Lee” which expressed his understanding that he wasn’t a celebrity, and that the song might be a little creepy, so he’d understand if she wasn’t into it. In contrast, the night’s closing song “Don’t Turn Your Back on Love” was a beautiful song about a sort of lifelong love that he’s had with this person and they kept seeming to miss one another…a theme I’m sure we’ve almost all dealt with at some stage or another in our lives. It was the perfect ending to a fantastic set, and it was great finally getting to see Ezra and the guys after all this time. Fortunately, for those of you who missed it, the residency continues through Jun 16, Jun 23, & Jun 30th, or you can catch them at Lollapalooza 2009.
SETLIST & PHOTOS BELOW THE BREAK
- Mother’s Day
- The Stakes are High
- How Long Diana?
- Walking the Cow (Daniel Johnston cover)
- The Moon
- Big Deal
- The Worm in the Apple
- The World is Alive
- My Soul Has Escaped from my Body
- God is a Middleaged Woman
- Take Off Your Sunglasses
- We Should Fight
- Kirsten Dunst
- Don’t Turn Your Back on Love