Hebrew School

Machinery of Eden

The Sway Machinery play next Monday and Tuesday, September 29 and 30 at Le Poisson Rouge, the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Click here for details.

For those of you who didn’t manage to catch Sway Machinery‘s Rosh Hashanah show last year at Angel Orensanz, you’re about to catch a speck of kismet: It turns out that this life is shorter than we thought, and wouldn’t you know, it’s suddenly that time of year again. Fortunately, Rosh Hashanah occurs at exactly the same time as last yearon the Jewish calendar, of course. You’re in luck.

Maybe you didn’t come last year because the massively gorgeous, history-stained Lower East Side synagogue had reached capacity and you were turned away. Maybe you were travelling to be with family, or were making a pilgrimage to someone else’s idea of apples and honey (symbolic of a sweet new year). Or maybe you “don’t like to go to Jewish things.”

You know what? Neither do I. I’m often nauseated by the decrepitude of the ceremonial, the proprietary conflict lurking in the “cultural event,” the possibility of unspoken exclusivity within something intended otherwise. And if you’re a music fan, like me, you may be daunted by the unholy admixture of sacred and profane– the music, of course, being sacred above all.

The proposition is heady at face value: fuzzed-out guitar riffs, Afrobeat-inspired horns, enraptured cantorial melisma broken only by the sincerity of biblical storytelling (and re-telling)– all occurring when you might otherwise be at your Westchester grandma’s, or decidedly not there. But then you actually hear the music.

It’s a vexingly powerful– yep, swaying– exposition of everything a live music experience really ought to be. It’s profundity, graciously understated and overstated by veteran NYC musician Jeremiah Lockwood (vocals, guitar) and his screamingly gifted co-conspirators (among these: Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase, tenor saxophone player Stuart Bogie and trumpeter Jordan McLean of Antibalas, and the Arcade Fire‘s Colin Stetson). In my opinion, as with all transcendent music, it’s a journey that renders unnecessary baggage (religious, cultural, otherwise) weightless, and vindicates the individual in a sweaty embrace.

Highlights from 5768’s performance. Get your tickets for ’69 now– these are sure to be sold-out shows.


Štiri: Nous Non Plus in Ljubljana

Upon our arrival in the center of Ljubljana, we are greeted warmly at Movia’s wine shop with a bottle of Puro Rose.

We roll in to the Roxly, where we sound check and get ready to play.

View from the front of the Roxly. “Who would put a castle up there?” Clouds gather…

Our Slovenian cell phone commercial plays on a loop at the front of the bar.

…Crowds gather, packing the club past the bar, out the door… Amazingly, our song’s appearance in an ad seems to have captured Slovenia’s imagination. We are told repeatedly that everyone in Slovenia knows this song, and has wondered about the mysterious American artists behind it (some even [erroneously] concluding that we are secretly the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). The crowd sings along to “Lawnmower Boy” in a dizzying hybrid of Slovene-Franglish.

Verdict: Success, with the distinct possibility of returning to this magical part of the world some time in the future. Merci, Ljubljana!

Check out this Slovenian blog for some great photos of the show, offset by 180 degrees.