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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2002/08/24
by Dan Greenhaus

The New Deal, Pier 54, NYC, 8/15

Pier 54, on 13th and the West Side Highway is exactly that, a pier. Three
times a year, the Hudson River Park Organization throws, essentially, a
party on the pier and invites some smaller bands. Its free, so tons of
people flock up there, however there is no beer or food served, which
probably keeps away an equivalent amount of people. On this date, DJ
Swingsett, Rahzel of the "legendary Roots Crew" and The New Deal would
participate, with The New Deal headlining.

After an interesting and entertaining set from Rahzel, The New Deal took the
stage at 8:30 to a fairly diverse crowd. It’s a pretty safe assumption to make that Rahzel and The New Deal attract two different audiences and seeing them together was fairly
interesting. I’d bet that most of the crowd there for Rahzel had never seen
this many people in patchwork pants before. I was actually interested to
see what a lot of the people who were there for Rahzel would think of The New
Deal, however most of Rahzel’s crowd cleared out after his set.

Anyway…....It was a gorgeous night on the pier. There was a nice cool
breeze to counter the warm temperatures and the scenery was beautiful,
especially if you turned away from the band and looked at the skyline of
downtown Manhattan, that is assuming you looked above the giant neon-red
"Chelsea Car Wash" sign. The band played for an hour and a half to a large
crowd and really convinced allot of people they were for real, and without
even playing one of their better shows.

The band, at this point, is capable of tremendous musical highs, as
evidenced by their last show at Berkfest, or even further back, the 6/1 show
at the Bowery Ballroom. However, I felt that the band didn’t push the
music beyond its normal capabilities all night. That’s not to say this was a bad show, because it
was far from it. By the end of the show, there wasn’t a single person NOT
dancing. Even the people backstage who were there for the other acts and
were just sitting around lounging had come forward to the side to watch the
band. I believe it was "Receiver—>Technobeam" to end the show that really
elicited a huge reaction from the crowd. This wasn’t technically a full
New Deal show, with two sets for the band to explore musical ideas,
and in that respect, they were clearly hindered. But that didn’t stop
them from playing an enthused and energetic set. The highlight, without
a doubt, was Rahzel joining the band on stage for a duel
with drummer Darren Shearer. Watching the two of them go back and forth,
beatboxing was a fantastic sight to see. So great, Jaime Shields felt
compelled to snap a couple of pictures himself, as he’s been known to do in
the past. How many times are you going to get a picture of Dan Kurtz on
bass jamming with Rahzel?? I’d take a picture too.

While past criticism of the band has focused on their repetitiveness, and
the fact that every show they play features a lengthy "Back to the Middle",
which this one did, the band is moving beyond their limitations. The band
has several songs besides "Back to the Middle" to use as springboards for
musical improvisation, please refer to the aforementioned "Receiver" jam.
Anyone who chooses to give the band a closer listen will find those other
songs are just as experimental, especially some of the newer material which
is in different tempos. While this particular show was not representative
of the band’s full capabilities, it still showed that the three guys from up
north sometimes just know how to party.

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