wrensroe.jpgThe Wrens Play for Planned Parenthood, The Knit Gets a Makeover
Last Friday The Wrens headlined a benefit show for Planned Parenthood, celebrating the 34th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. The band played their usual Meadowlands-heavy mix of old songs, and made an announcement that it would more than likely be their final show supporting their now nearly 4 year old album. They will be working on putting together something new this summer. It's always a treat to see the Wrens live, who for our money is one of the best straight-up rock acts around these days, but even more so in an intimate club such as the Knitting Factory. Speaking of which, perhaps nudged along by the Bowery Presents recent power play to control the live music scene in NYC, The Knit gave a serious makeover to their main room, significantly upgrading their sound system and adding a fancy new array of animated stage lights for the performers. As if it wasn't already one of our favorite local venues, (um, 2 years of Movable Hype?) it now has even further separated itself from the midsize club pack by creating an environment that has the bands looking and sounding that much better than ever before. The ball is now back in Bowery's court to see if any of their many new venues will step up to match this level of quality, or will they rest on their laurels as being the go-to venue empire. We'll have to wait and see. (More pics like the one above here.)

mika.jpgMika takes Manhattan
Monday was a busy night. First stop was to The Box for a private/label showcase with English pop sensation Mika, who is perhaps the most ridiculous person we encountered all week. If you can, picture the Scissor Sisters nu-disco sound, but with no self awareness whatsoever. Add flowing blonde hair, a ruffled tuxedo shirt and ball tingling falsetto, and you have Mika. After 2 songs, we were left completely speechless, but the rest of the crowd was dancing and singing along and having a blast, so who the hell knows. Someday we'll see a youtube video of him singing a duet with Clay Aiken on the Today show and not be surprised in the slightest. (Pic via Brooklyn Vegan)

Stolen Transmission rallies together for a good cause
Later that night was a benefit for animal adoption programs Waggy Tail Rescue and Here Kitty Kitty, thrown by Ultragrrrl and featuring bands on her Stolen Transmission label. Several of the bands showed promise, but one stood head and shoulders above the rest. Denver's The Photo Atlas may look like your run of the mill skinny, affected emo kids, but they really showed us something on stage that night. They combine a seemingly impossible mix of At the Drive In with Bright Eyes. The warbly, paranoid voice, rather than quietly understated is instead brought to a screech over a backdrop of angular guitars and barbed hooks. We liked it. A lot. Once you get past the look, these guys are 100% legit.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah keep us up way past our bedtime
On Wednesday afternoon, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah announced a last minute, after midnight show at Mercury lounge that night which quickly sold out. Fortunately for some, the word traveled fast amongst many of the band’s first fans, and tickets were quickly snatched up by those looking to relive the winter of 2005, even if it was 1:30 in the morning on a school night. Few regrets were had, however, by the time the band wrapped it up around 2:45 Thursday morning, after playing a little over an hour of songs from their first two albums to the fans hardcore enough to brave such a late, last minute night. Playing shows like this may be few and far between for the band nowadays, but it’s nice to see them reach out to the kids who played such a big part in getting the ball rolling on their current success. Here's a video from the show (via Qbertplaya):