Monday, June 04, 2007

The National | Bowery Ballroom | June 1st

Back in April, my wife and I decided to head for NYC for a kids-free weekend while my in-laws were watching the little ones. It sounded like a great time. However, it looked even better when I noticed The National would be playing the last of their five sold out shows at The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night. Being a devotee of the church of Alligator and Boxer, I wanted to get into that show. Plus, the last time I had seen them, it had been a freaky night with lead singer Matt Berninger walking out of the club and leaving the band on stage without him for the encore.

Knowing the shows were sold out, I asked some friends in NYC if they had any good ideas for scoring a pair of tickets. That led to a friend telling me about how The Bowery Ballroom drops additional tickets for sold out shows in the final days before the concert. So, starting the weekend before, I basically hit refresh on the TicketWeb site every time I walked by my computer. It became frustrating but the persistence paid off. On Thursday, we got tickets for the Friday night show. Everything was looking grand.

Then it went in the crapper. Despite it being fairly dry on Friday up here in VT, I guess a series of thunderstorms rolled through the NYC area during the late afternoon. That led to our first flight being canceled, being put onto a different later flight and finally having that second flight be canceled at 9:30pm. Basically, as the concert was starting down in NYC, we were staring at the disappointing departure board above. It sucked.

By the way, who the hell takes a plane from Burlington to Plattsburgh at 9:50pm on a Friday night? Come on. It's only a whopping 30.3 miles away.

So, I don't have anything to say about the show. Therefore, I'll just review the things we did get to do in NYC (after flying down at 6:15am on Saturday morning).

Union Square Farmers Market
Great, as always. Nice to get a hold of some fresh strawberries a few weeks before VT's strawberry season. While I didn't buy any starter plants down there, I have to say the starter plants at the Union Square market were larger, cheaper and healthier looking than the ones at the Montpelier market. Not as much variety though.

Mamoun's Falafel
Also great, as always. We actually managed to get a seat inside right during the lunchtime rush which made for a great show. Between watching the three guys behind the counter fly around in that tiny space without ever hitting each other and the parade of oddballs waiting for their Baba Ghannouj sandwiches, it's an entertaining show with your $3 lunch.

Big Ass Tack on the Sidewalk That I Stepped On
Sucked. The only amusing part of the painful experience was having some random guy freak out as I pulled this unbelievably long tack out of my foot. He just stood there frozen and bent over at the waist going "Aaaaaaaah, fuck, Dude!" Thankfully, the tack seemed to be clean. So, despite some blood and a few achy blocks, I was fine.

We had dinner here in the East Village. Nice casual place with great food. I had some animal's cheeks and asparagus soup while my wife had sturgeon.

An old favorite bar of ours. We stopped there for some drinks after dinner and hung out in the second floor lounge watching the street traffic below. Great people watching. Here was the odd thing...I've been sort of down on CYHSY since their last album stunk and their Burlington show was rather lifeless. However, 2A was playing their debut album while we were there and it sounded really good. Perhaps it was the belly of booze and wine, but I really enjoyed listening to it again. I think sometimes, I listen to music too often in the sterile environment of my house or iPod. An album can sound very different and more exciting in a public space.

Magnolia Bakery
We tried going to Chickalicious for desert but it was closed for maintenance. So, we decided to see what all the hype was about surrounding Magnolia Bakery and their cupcakes. After grabbing a cab across town, we discovered a line around the corner and down the block. I initially didn't believe it was for the bakery but it sure was. It's one of those "Only in New York" things. The place had a friggin' doorman and a thirty minute wait to get in! For a bakery! This isn't some hot club. This is a place that sells cupcakes.

I'm almost embarrassed to type this sentence but we then proceeded to wait in the half-hour line to get four cupcakes ($2 / cupcake).

Now, after a build-up like that, no cupcake is going to live up to its hype. The frosting was really good but the cake itself was kind of dry (and these were fresh out of the oven). Perhaps I've just become used to the chemically-laden cardboard box cupcake mixes but Magnolia's cupcakes were dry and ordinary; certainly not worth the wait.

Dylan's Candy Bar
We headed uptown for a little while on Sunday morning and stopped at Ralph Lauren's daughter's candy shop. The part I liked about it was the selection of retro candy bars downstairs. You don't find Mallo Cups, wax bottles, Zagnuts, candy cigarettes, Razzles and Paydays in many stores these days. My only disappointment was I couldn't find any Marathon bars or Reggie bars.

It was a big disappointment to miss the National show but, overall, we still had a fun weekend in the city.


Bob said...

I totally could have saved you the trip to Magnolia...Sugar Sweet Sunshine on Rivington is where it's at for cupcakes.

And a few steps away is Economy Candy, who sell nearly everything Dylan's does, but for less, and with WAY fewer yuppie moms with strollers or those things you stick your baby in on your chest.

Flatlander said...

Now you tell me!

I really wanted to go to Chickalicious but our bad luck had us hitting the place on the one weekend they were closed. Oh, well. We'll just have to ask the in-laws to watch the kids again.

Scott said...

The insanely long line at Magnolia is one of the greatest pieces of evidence anywhere that people are really just lemmings. Mrs. obie and I walked past it on Sunday evening about 7:30, and there were maybe two people waiting outside -- we were tempted to get in line just because there was no one in the damn line, but then we remembered that they're just cupcakes.

Sorry to hear about The National show, major bummer after all the effort. There's always the Seaport show in August...

Mike Nordstrom said...

Oh christ, how I miss Mamoun' missed The National, but you got Mamoun's. I'm a tad jealous, Brian.