Sunday, June 24, 2007

Heedoosh & Moshav: Ow & wow (concert review)

I finally found some earplugs that work for me. The foam ones fall right out of my ears, and the tiny in-the-ear-canal ones scare me--I'm afraid they'll get stuck. It turns out that the ones I liked years ago are the kind marked "waterproof." They feel a bit like clay, and they stick like clay, too--just park 'em over the outside of (not in) the ear canal, and they'll stay there until you take them off.

It's a good thing that I happened to have a box of those with me last Thursday night, because, by the time Heedoosh was halfway through their first song, I was already frantically digging through my backpack for them, and the Punster and I had our ears properly plugged not a moment too soon.

I'd completely forgotten that, the last time I heard Heedoosh, they were playing an acoustic set, probably due to some concern about disturbing the neighbors. Would that the same had been the case this time. But, unlike Makor's former home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the Knitting Factory is not in a residential area.

Let me summarize my reaction to the Heedoosh set this way: If I ever get within two feet of that bleeping bass playing, I'm going kick him in the . . . ankle.

I could barely hear the singer, and I couldn't catch the words.

I could barely hear the lead guitarist.

I couldn't hear the rhythm guitarist at all.

It didn't help that the drummer was also giving not only his drums, but, also, our ears, a heavy pounding.

Music shouldn't be a volume contest.

I advise those of you over thirty to skip Heedoosh's live concerts and buy their Meumkah Delibah CD, instead. It may or may not be to your taste, but at least, you'll be able to turn the volume down enough to be able to judge the music on its merits. I'm listening to their "Hiney Kel Yishuati" as I type, and I like what I'm hearing.

IMPORTANT UPDATE--Maybe the bass player wasn't at fault:

PsychoToddler said...

I wasn't at the show, but sometimes the volume problem is due to the sound man, not the musician. Of course, that's assuming the bass amp was mic'd and coming through a big PA.

Mon Jun 25, 08:28:00 PM 2007

So maybe I should cut the bass player some slack. To quote Pirkei Avot (Verses [Ethics] of the Fathers, chapter 1, paragraph 6,), "hevei dan et kol ha-adam l'chaf z'chut, judge everyone favorably" (rough not-so-literal translation: give every person the benefit of the doubt).

After a nail-biting intermission, I was greatly relieved to see that the Moshav Band was playing an acoustic set, as they'd played at Makor's former home. (Makor is currently "in the Diaspora," awaiting the renovation of their new space, and is sponsoring concerts, such as this one, in various venues in downtown Manhattan.) Yehuda Solomon said, in mid-performance, that Moshav used to be a very loud band, but they were trying something different. That's more than fine with me!

Moshav played a pile of music from their various CDs. Among other songs, they played their laid-back reggae version of Shlomo Carlebach's "Higher and Higher." (Yosef Solomon, the bass player, was playing the shy guy at this concert, for some reason--he spent almost the entire concert either standing behind another player or, in the case of this song, with his back to the audience, which was a pity, since he has a marvelous bass line in this one.) They had the same wonderful fiddler as at the last concert, and he just tore into the former mandolin parts on such songs as "Come Back" and "Lost Time," and every other song on which he had an opportunity. They also played such beauties as the migrant-worker's lament "Misplaced," their wonderful reggae song "Lift Up Your Head" ("Mal'achim shomrim alecha . . ."), and "The Only One" ("echad, echad, u-sh'mo echad").

This concert was a bit different from the last one that I saw, because the band had two guitarists at this gig, rather than David Swirsky alone. Maybe it was because David was playing rhythm guitar this time instead of lead guitar, but I really noticed the trading back and forth between him and Yehuda--even within a single song, they would switch who was singing the lead vocal part. I think I also noticed Yehuda more at the first concert because I was looking for the guy who sounded, on their "Best of" CD, like a chazzan who'd wondered into the wrong recording studio. But holy Moses, David has takkeh/mamash a voice!

The trading back and forth got a bit interesting when the band played "Streets of Jerusalem." First David sang lead, then Yehuda. Naive soul that I am, I had assumed that this song was autobiographical, and was left scratching my head, wondering which one of these guys had had his heart broken. Silly me. I guess there's more than enough of that heartbreak business going around for two guys separately.

At the end of the show (more or less), David and Yehuda came back onstage for a couple of duets. Good stuff! And it wasn't only the audience that was enjoying itself--the two of them were quite obviously having a wonderful time up there. Then the rest of the band piled back onto the stage for some more encores and a jolly good time as a group.

Moshav had me dancing in the back of the room. (For part of the concert, my "dance partner" was someone I'd met through Girls' Night On. :) ) I dare say that a grand time was had by all.


Blogger Scraps said...

I've never heard Heedoosh, and from your comments, I think I'll probably pass on hearing them ever if I can help it (even though I'm not yet over 30!). Moshav is great, though, and I'm glad to hear they've toned down the noise a bit; I've heard them live before and was sometimes digging for earplugs myself. Their music is great. :)

Mon Jun 25, 11:33:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Diana said...

I would have totally introduced myself if I had known you were going :)

Mon Jun 25, 12:15:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Scraps, Heedoosh's CD has some good music on it, though some of it is too hard-rock for me, personally. I like their "Li-y'shuat'cha," an interesting combination of reggae with middle-eastern-style percussion. (It would certainly help, though, if they'd include translations in their liner notes. This album is intended for distribution in the US, is it not?) I'm not ready to write them off altogether. I just hope they'll quiet down, eventually, as Moshav did. In the meantime, I'll make it a point to go only to their acoustic gigs.

Diana, there's always next time. :)

Mon Jun 25, 04:52:00 PM 2007  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I wasn't at the show, but sometimes the volume problem is due to the sound man, not the musician. Of course, that's assuming the bass amp was mic'd and coming through a big PA.

Mon Jun 25, 08:28:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Mark/PT, thanks for the clarification. That explanation sounds reasonable, especially coming, as it does, from another bass player. I've copied your comment into my post.

Tue Jun 26, 12:02:00 AM 2007  

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