Cajun Tomato’s Favorite Concert Photos 2014 Edition

In the past week I’ve shared my favorite albums of 2014 and my favorite concerts of 2014. In that spirit let’s keep the parade rolling.

I snapped a lot of bad photos at concerts in 2014. A lot of dark, out of focus photos. Here is a collection of not so bad photos I snapped in 2014, or as I headlined it my favorite concerts photos 2014 edition.

Click the link below for my first-ever attempt at a WordPress slideshow! What could possibly go wrong?!

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Cajun Tomato’s Favorite Concerts 2014 Edition

Wayne Coyne doin' Wayne Coyne stuff at Hudson Valley Project. Photo: Cajun Tomato

Wayne Coyne doin’ Wayne Coyne stuff at Hudson Valley Project. Photo: Cajun Tomato

My 2014 concert-going adventures matched my age, or came damn close. I witnessed around 30 live performances this year, a number that suggests maybe I am slowing down as my vintage increases or slowing down as my New York City rent obligations grow.

The news isn’t all bad though. 2014 provided me the opportunity to check off several artists from my bucket list and witness many others who I had loved in previous years. It even provided me a chance to see Jennifer Lopez lip-sync for 90 minutes in the Bronx, and live to tell the tale (which I haven’t).

You will notice this list skews heavily toward festival performances. That is because I am poor – to maintain an active concert-going existence in NYC means buying tickets bloated with Ticketmaster and Live Nation fees four or five months in advance – and the club shows featuring up-and-coming acts I witnessed were mostly misses, with one key exception.

Here is my favorite concerts 2014 edition list:

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Cajun Tomato’s Favorite Albums 2014 Edition

Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio performs during Governor's Ball 2014 in NYC. Photo: Cajun Tomato

Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio performs during Governor’s Ball 2014 in NYC. Photo: Cajun Tomato

I reached a point in 2014 when the album, as a musical document, stopped mattering to me as much as it had in the past. If I had to venture a guess when this happened I would bet it was a subconscious result of me having to cut music from my 16 GB iPhone 4s for the hundredth time to make room for new tracks.

2014 offered little in the line of defenses of the album’s necessity as an art form. In particular, the consensus albums of the year – Sun Kil Moon, the War on Drugs, St. Vincent – failed to jolt or excite me.

The albums below featured four or five songs I latched onto and loved. That is not the standard definition of an album of the year candidate, especially when that means ignoring half of a band’s new songs. Alas, my standard way of assessing what constitutes a good album, much less a favorite album of mine, is ever-changing, and does not resemble what it did, say, in 2007 or 2013, for that matter.

Without further delay say hello to my favorite albums of 2014. Also, look for my Songs of the Year and Concerts of the Year early next week.

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Withstanding Torture, One Facial At A Time

I will tell you anything! Just stop extracting blackheads!

I will tell you anything! Just stop extracting blackheads!

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Today’s post No. 46 is titled “Withstanding Torture, One Facial At A Time”.

The needle jabbed points east, west, north, and south on my face like an explorer marking conquered lands on a map with thumbtacks. Each prick created a prolonged stinging sensation. The bridge of my nose served as the intersection of the most jarring pains, and verged on crumbling, or at least I thought.

Surely, the pinkie-sized Chinese woman standing behind me wielding the instrument of my present discomfort didn’t intend on jamming the needle through my skull. And yet, I fought the desire to wave my hands in surrender.

I squirmed and squirmed and squirmed some more, like a worm removed from its precious dirt. Each time I did so my “captor” retained her surgeon’s focus, intent on extracting as much from me as possible.

“Blackheads,” she mumbled.

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Live Review: Merchandise at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Merchandise

Merchandise frontman Carson Cox stepped onto the Music Hall of Williamsburg stage Tuesday night right out of central casting, it would appear, for a remake of a Brando or Dean flick celebrating men of a different era blessed with a certain je ne sais quoi. His sandy blond hair shaded his sculpted jaw, his T-shirt rolled above his bicep like some neo-greaser, his voice toed an androgynous line both sensual and aggressive. An overhead green stage light highlighted his mysterious, effervescent cool.

He screamed without screaming: “I am here. Watch me.”

Hailing from Tampa, Fla., a bay city not renowned for its effervescent cool, the quintet Merchandise plays lush rock-n-roll that lingers in the air, searching, yearning, driving toward something unknown. They started out playing DIY shows in the Sunshine state, and have since evolved to a sound classicists would not label punk. They’ve released three solid records, the most recent of which, After the End, dropped earlier this year on 4AD. Oh, and there are the Morrissey comparisons vis a vis the aching, feminine air to Cox’s croon.

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Arcade Fire Barclays Center Show Awakens Nostalgia, Erases Regret

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

Among the retired jerseys of Kidd, Williams, and Petrovic I took my seat above the snow line inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn to watch Montreal art-rock ensemble Arcade Fire wrap up their three-night residency two weekends ago. I purchased the ticket at a discount on Groupon the week before as a means of (hopefully) closing a nine-year-old wound incurred when I skipped an Arcade Fire show, for which I had tickets, because I did not want to drive alone to New Orleans. Just typing that sentence makes me shake my head.

Seeing Arcade Fire four albums and 10 years into their career at the Brooklyn Nets basketball arena, as opposed to on the floor performing their first album at the House of Blues in New Orleans, would need to suffice on this August night. Alas, when I arrived at my section, seated parallel to the left of the stage, I couldn’t help but feel a wee bit of regret. There were seats, for one. And they were a football field from the stage. I held a $5 cup of Coke in one hand and a $7 bucket of cheese popcorn in the other. The two combined accounted for the price of one beer, enough to make any concert a sober experience.

Credit Arcade Fire and their tremendous songbook for erasing my outrage at beer prices and disappointment at my seat location. They are an arena band now. Connecting with the back row is, in many ways, as important as connecting with the front. And from where I was standing – closer to the heavens than ever before at a concert – I’d say Win Butler and Co. did a damn good job, leaving me enthused about the Arcade Fire “experience” even if the conditions I experienced them in were less than my ideal. Dare I say next time Arcade Fire comes to town I would spring for $80 floor tickets? Yes, yes I would.

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Y’All Gingers Move That Dope, Spanish Harlem Edition

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 45 is in honor of Labor Day and answers the question of how this ginger would launder his money if he were moving dope in Spanish Harlem.

“Y’all gingers move that dope. Move that dope, move that dope, move that dope.”

In a parallel universe where redheads are crime kingpins Atlanta alleged rapper Future’s summer smash “Move That Dope” would be centered around the illegal exploits of ginger gringos putting in work in Spanish Harlem. And in this same parallel universe said ginger gringos (i.e., yours truly) would need to wash some of their money clean, in order to evade the corrupt, ginger-profiling police. Fortunately, this parallel El Barrio offers a wide variety of money laundering opportunities from potential moneymakers to well, uh, money giveaways.

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Favorite Songs of 2014 (Halftime Edition)

Hamilton Leithauser performs during The Walkmen's set at One Eyed Jacks on Sept. 30, 2009. Photo credit: Cajun Tomato.

Hamilton Leithauser performs during The Walkmen’s set at One Eyed Jacks on Sept. 30, 2009. Photo credit: Cajun Tomato.

It’s the first day of August, and 2014 is either moving like molasses or like a rapid. I am having trouble deciding. I just awoke from my World Cup coma, and found myself disturbingly close to 30 – the year when my red hairs on my chin are contractually obligated to turn white. Alas, 2014 has yet to produce many visible white hairs. It also hasn’t produced an album that hammered me over the head with its greatness.

Individual songs are a different animal. I’ve loved and fallen out of love and then loved some more so many songs this year that it only seemed right that I choose 25 for this list. This list is a snapshot of how I felt about songs during the year’s first half. I expect my top 25 (or top 50) songs will look (somewhat) different at year’s end. It’s worth noting this list features songs that were released in 2014 as singles or on albums this year. If they were released in 2013 on an album then released in 2014 as a single I included them. I also limited myself to one song per artist.

Here’s to 30 and all the jams that will come! Rock, dance, croon on! Favorite Songs of 2014 (Halftime Edition) commence!

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How To Grab A Cab In New York City

Boro taxis stalk me everywhere I go in Spanish Harlem.

Boro taxis stalk me everywhere I go in Spanish Harlem.

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 44 is titled How To Grab A Cab In New York City.

Imagine yellow, green, and black middle fingers on four wheels, unbeholden to the laws of traffic or human decency, and you have an entry point into the world of New York City cabs. The sleep-deprived, eternally slighted conductors of these death-defying chariots of status and convenience give zero fucks about other motorists, pedestrians, or unlucky schmucks unable to hail them. Inside this orbit where no fucks are given lies a microcosm of everything that is cutthroat and unholy about this garbage-strewn metropolis.

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Survival Tips For 2014 Journalism Graduates

A beautiful day at the office with the Louisiana State Police.

A beautiful day at the office with the Louisiana State Police.

Congratulations! You are a 2014 journalism graduate!

You ignored the tea leaves and followed your heart straight to a degree as worthless as pigeon shit. Let that sink in. Or don’t. It’s kind of sad in a way that Lindsay Lohan’s career trajectory is sad, and your career hasn’t even started. The best you can hope for is to keep your nose clean from booga suga and maybe, if you’re lucky, have a seamless transition into the world of public relations.

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Observations of a Cajun living in NYC