Welcome back 2003! Two of New York's favorite bands from a few years ago have officially returned. Stellastarr* have a brilliant new album out that they're currently supporting, while The Rapture have finally just poked their heads back out to test some new material at a small club show. We were very excited to see both of these bands finally back at it.
We started up at Irving Plaza for Stellastarr*. Playing to a sold out crowd, they blew through a set that seemed to weigh very heavily on their first album. Especially compared to their last few shows in New York, under the secret name 'The Ligers', where they went almost exclusively new. While we really enjoy the direction they've taken with their new album, there is no denying that the earlier stuff makes for a far more compelling live show. The new material is substantively better, but for bouncing around in a packed club, nothing beats those early jams. The band knew it too. They had no intention on force feeding too many of the darker "Harmonies" tracks to a hometown crowd that was looking to party. While we would have been happy to hear more, it appeared to be the right call. The crowd completely ate it up. They closed the show with their anthem, My Coco, sending everyone off with a satisfied smile on their face.
Afterwards we hopped in a cab and headed down to Crash Mansion for an after-hours Rapture set. This was the first time they've performed live in nearly a year, and it was an interesting way to reappear. Playing a small, quasi-upscale club at 1AM on a weekday. Crash Mansion is an awful place to see a band when it's packed. The ceiling and stage are too low, so at best you can only see the tops of the band member's heads. The sound is low and muffled and the drinks are expensive. The Rapture are a superb live band however, and they tried their hardest to make the most of the space they were given. They mixed in some old hits with a few new songs they were debuting. From what we could tell on a first listen, there hasn't been too great a departure from the earlier material. It was still dark, upbeat and very danceable. I'm certain they'll continue to polish the new stuff over the next month or so as they play more of these local club shows. Aside from the venue, the only knock on the set was that it seemed a bit too short. Granted they've been out of it for a while, but after only 40 minutes or so, a couple more songs, either new or old, would have been welcome to a crowd who had waited a long long time to see the band play live again. What they did get out was phenomenal, however, and we went to bed shortly after excited to know they were truly back.