This Weekend In New York: Florence Welch And A Perpetual Sweat Machine
In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.
This past Saturday was Debbie's birthday, and what better way to spend one's birthday weekend than with punk rock, cheap beer, and a nice, intense, purifying shvitz? Why bother to go to Spa Castle when you could get the same experience at 285 Kent for a fraction of the price, and with a better soundtrack to boot?
Friday we went to see Florence and the Machine at Central Park, which was kind of a strange experience. We got there just as their set was starting, which was a bit of a tactical error; diehards had crammed themselves into position hours prior, and there was no penetrating them. Attempts to make our way to where we could hear, see, or take photos were met with glares, shoves, and nasty comments. I don't think I've experienced that level of hostility since a years-ago Nine Inch Nails show where I attempted to save my friend a place in line.
I ended up stuck in front of a girl who spent the night singing off-key and yawping ceaselessly to her friend about what drugs they were going to do later. Thanks to her mouth being close to my ear I learned at least as much about that girl's coke habit as I did about Florence Welch's abilities as a performer, but thankfully, Florence was great enough to make the minor indignities worthwhile. I can see why she has so many rabid fans: girlfriend's got pipes. Her voice can go from soft flutter to birdlike coo to strong belt to straight-up scream and back again, all in the span of a minute or two. Her gauzy green Gucci outfit made her look like some sort of powerful fairy-princess rock star as she raised her arms up, spun around, and worked all sides of the stage. I saw elements of Stevie Nicks, Grace Slick, and Tori Amos, which is to say: Florence is a much-needed dose of singer-songwriter girl power for those who prefer poppy rock music to stuff that sounds like it's been generated by some evil genius fembot.