Posted in music on June 15, 2005

Bloc Party @ Webster Hall
Before you read Manhattan carnivore Mike Neuman's disgruntled review of last night's Bloc Party show at Webster Hall (June 14th, 2005), keep in mind that some people do like the venue (see comments).

Photo courtesy of hseikaly who said, "imagine hot, humid, stagnant air over a large mass of people and you can't move. it was lovely."

Dear Webster Hall,

You suck. Please stop hosting shows of good bands, because you are going to ruin their live-show reputation. Last night at Webster Hall was the last straw.

I am never going there again! I walked in about 25 minutes before Bloc Party came on. And about 20 minutes before Bloc Party went on... I was drenched. It is so fucking hot inside of Webster Hall, that it made Coachella 2004 look like... some much colder... concert.

Bloc Party finally came on... and you couldn't hear anything except for drums. All I heard was drums for the first 3 songs. Webster Hall is known for it's terrible sound, but this was simply incredible. How was it that no wise-ass audience members were screaming at the sound guys and guitar techs? Oh I know why... because I think only 25% of the audience knew who the fucking band was!

Now this I can't blame on Webster Hall. The crowd was fucking terrible last night. Terrible. There was no dancing, no movement at all. The band obviously knew it, and were making comments about it throughout the show. Now I LOVE to judge people I don't know, but I usually don't do it on a public forum. Usually I just save it for my friends. But most of the kids at last night's show look like they would've been much more comfortable at a Hoobastank concert. "But why do you care what the audience is like?" Because the audience sucks, and then it affects the band, and the band doesn't play as well. It always happen. If the crowd sucks, the band is going to suck.

Ok, ok. Bloc Party certainly did not suck last night. They certainly played well, and it truly wasn't their fault that I didn't enjoy the show. It was the venue and crowd that sucked. I'm sure if last night's exact show was transported to say... Bowery Ballroom, with a different crowd, then it would've been a lot better.

Also, mark my words. One day that floor of Webster Hall is going to fucking collapse and kill a lot of people. It was like standing on a trampoline last night. That Israeli wedding-hall floor collapse video from a few years ago kept replaying in my mind during the show.

So, Webster Hall, stick with doing what you're good at. Hosting "Wet Willie" contests.


Mike Neuman


Editor's Note: Despite his letter, Mike Neuman will be attending Bloc Party at Webster Hall AGAIN tonight.

Twilight Garden says Bloc Party ruled, but Webster Hall was hell

Gawker said the show full of retarded NYU kids
I was at Life of Agony while Mike was at Bloc Party (I win)
Mike told me that he saw the Cobra Snake there
Mike's right. Webster Hall might not be sturdy
Have Bloc Party jumped the shark?
Bloc Party's 2nd night @ Bowery was way better than the first
There's no place like Bloc Party @ Roxy



Tags: Bloc Party

Comments (57)

thank you for describing everything i hate about webster hall.

now they are posting ticket prices of $40 for some of the upcoming shows. so much money for so little quality.

please oh please, bands, play at bowery ballroom for consecutive nights. webster hall is a nightmare.

Posted by erika herzog | June 15, 2005 5:00 PM

a comment at Twilight Garden:

"Bloc Party rocked last night. I missed them at the BB a couple of months back, so was glad to get tickets to this. And Webster Hall's not that bad - the sound is fantastic compared to most venues."

It's summer, venues get'll be there tonight, and if I sweat it won't be the end of the world...

"I'm sure if last night's exact show was transported to say... Bowery Ballroom, with a different crowd, then it would've been a lot better" - yeah, no shit, but they're not playing at the Bowery because they want a bigger venue, so try again...

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2005 5:12 PM

The "It's summer, venues get hot" argument is BS. Even at too-cool-to-dance shows like LCD Soundsystem the other night, Webster Hall was unbearable. The only other similar NYC experiences I can think of in my four summers of residency are the Siren Fests (obvs) and M.I.A. at Knitting Factory a while back, when the A/C was broke or some shit. Other venues do not get that hot. I take these matters very seriously as I am a sweaty, sweaty man.

Posted by Joey | June 15, 2005 5:48 PM

I saw the Decemberists at Webster Hall a while back and it was a nice show - excited crowd, not too packed, and the band played really well. But after seeing (or not seeing, really) the sold-out Arcade Fire show there, I scratched it off my list forever. Arcade Fire at the Bowery Ballroom: Close-up, temperate, stunningly loud, with the crowd dancing and screaming every word. Arcade Fire at Webster Hall: Far away (barely in the door), hot as the 7th layer of hell, not loud enough, crowd not really into it, stupid fucking gaudy haunted-house-turned-greek-bathhouse-turned-disco decor. Do the bands have any say in where they play? Because if they do, they should definitely skip this venue.

Posted by Adam | June 15, 2005 5:55 PM

Oh no, not that awful wedding video, thanks for putting that one in my head before the show! And Joey, I guess you'll literally be resting comfortably with your opinion that Bloc Party has "no teeth" tonight.

Posted by tricia | June 15, 2005 5:57 PM

And $4 for a bottled water. Four Dollars For Water. No wonder they don't want to turn on the A/C.

Southpaw: $1 for bottled water. God bless 'em.

Posted by J | June 15, 2005 6:16 PM

That floor is frightening. Also, have you looked at the floors on the landings of the stairs? There are actual cracks in it that you can see right through. At the Futureheads show last week, some asshole went "WHOAH, LOOK!" when he saw it and started jumping maniacally, causing the whole marble piece to shake. My friend yelled at him.

I, too, do not understand the crowds at Webster Hall. Every show I've been to there have been 20% fan base, 75% I-don't-know-where-I-am-but-this-seems-ok. The crowd at the Futureheads show was extremely (not to get all 7th grade on you)preppy and bewildered/uninterested, except for the small pit of people right in front.

Posted by allison | June 15, 2005 8:06 PM

Saw Bloc Party out here in LA at the El Rey two weeks ago. Same problem with the sound. i was screaming at the soundguy "Look, there are TWO guitars up there" since Russel's guitar was non-existant.

As for the crowd, I hear the kids up front were cool. i was back by the soundboard with a bunch of 20-something business majors who had bought Bloc Party wristbands and instead of high-fives they kept putting their wrists together in the air and shouting "Bloc Party Power!" Let me repeat... "Bloc Party Power..."

I left after three songs. Total shame since I have the uttmost respect for that band. I have a theory that they're the next U2 (but I'll save that for my own blog if i ever bother to start one.)

Posted by yussel | June 15, 2005 8:37 PM

Webster Hall isn't designed for live music, and I agree it sucks. Important to mention, though, is that Webster Hall as a live venue wouldn't exist if Irving Plaza didn't suck so hard.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2005 10:32 PM

yeah the floor was all wavy at Futureheads last week but i thought it was a wooden dance floor slightly above the regular floor? ie if it broke, we'd only fall like an inch. i just noticed the tacky faux funhouse art on the walls it's super weird. i was there 3 times last week and Spoon was pretty damn hot for sure and i'm a wimp about the heat but i found it to be standard sweaty show temp. i stand by my original view which is that i like the early times, the location and layout that makes it easy to see the band even if you're short. my criteria for a good venue is probly different from most heh.

Posted by rachel | June 15, 2005 11:21 PM

but webster hall has an awesome fog machine. i like that no matter who plays, they always make sure to get some fog in there. it seems to really cool it down adding all that moisture to the already humid air. go to webster hall and get fogged!!

Posted by bizarro_nate | June 16, 2005 9:26 AM

i totally agree with the comment/prediction about the floor collapsing. i remember feeling that thing sagging like crazy during franz ferdinand and arcade fire and having images of that dancehall collapse running through my mind...

Posted by anthony | June 16, 2005 10:16 AM

"Bloc Party Power"... Good grief. That says it all. Seems like once a band gets to the "level" of Webster Hall, all the tools get the message. I had a similar experience at the Arcade Fire, where I spent the night squeezing from one spot to another trying to find an area where people were actually, I don't know, LISTENING to the music instead of blathering at the top of their lungs about their Team Winning/Losing the Game or the Guy who Totally Did/Didn't Call... BLOC PARTY POWER, BOOOOYAH!!!

Posted by Max Power | June 16, 2005 10:30 AM

I went to see TV on the Radio/The Faint at Webster Hell in the middle of October. It was freezing out, but still hot as balls inside, so it's not because it's summer. One of my friends checked his coat: big mistake. It took him over an hour to get it back from coat check. After that combined with the heat, drink prices, and terrible sound, I made a decision never to go there again. Of course, my friend is coming in from out of town tomorrow and wants to see Iron and Wine. I really couldn't think of a worse place to see him, but back into the inferno I go. After that, never again.

Posted by Mark | June 16, 2005 10:33 AM

""Bloc Party Power"... Good grief. That says it all. Seems like once a band gets to the "level" of Webster Hall, all the tools get the message."

same thing for spoon (who are my fav band ever). these 3 girls were sitting right behind us (we were all sitting before the first band came on). i overhear one of them say to the others, "is this what people DO at concerts? sit down??" then they went and bought a $7 diet coke.

and also....who doesn't LOVE thursdays at webster hall when they kick your hipster butt outta there ASAP so all the hos can get in for WET TSHIRT NIGHT?!?!?!?!?

Posted by rachel | June 16, 2005 10:35 AM

The temperature was fine last night...even the band said so...suck it up pussies..

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2005 10:35 AM

What the hell is wrong with you morons? Concerts are sweaty experiences, last night was NOTHING. If you ever get out of NY for a day or two you'll see that in other cities people don't concern themselves with appearances at shows. If you want to look cool go to the god damn magazine publishing party you're missing.

Posted by Bryan | June 16, 2005 11:05 AM

"What the hell is wrong with you morons? Concerts are sweaty experiences, last night was NOTHING." - amen

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2005 11:14 AM

last night's show was great. review coming soon.

Posted by brooklynvegan | June 16, 2005 11:21 AM

They said that last night's show was their best NYC show so far...the band refused to stop playing, came out for a second encore and sort-of third encore...the crowd was great, singing along VERY loudly and bouncing and dancing...

They announced that they are coming back in September...I hope they play Webster Hall again just to torture you whiny bitches that are complaining...

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2005 11:22 AM

Last night's show (remember, this review was about Tuesday night's show) was ten times better. The sound was better...but still not up to par with what it should be. The crowd was more into it, and the band was DEFINITELY more into it. I didn't mind the heat as much this time, but probably because I was actually cold as I was walking to Webster Hall. However, there is no way that this was their best NYC show. Motherfucker/Roxy was better. 2nd night at Bowery was better. Hell, even Tribeca Grand was better, and not just because it's a tiny venue. They were all just better concerts.

Posted by Mike Neuman | June 16, 2005 11:41 AM

"However, there is no way that this was their best NYC show." - not according to the band...

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2005 11:50 AM

i was at the wed. show and i thought the band got much better since the first time i saw them at tribeca grand. more than the actual sound i was impressed by the band's energy and how comfortable they now were. i do agree that a good deal of the crowd at webster hall shows are annoying though. and while there are annoying people at all shows the % at webster hall is way worse than a show at a venue like the knit.

Posted by dave park | June 16, 2005 11:52 AM

2nd encore? 3rd encore? Huh? The lights came on after the first encore, and the mass exodus began, so we left... Are you saying they came back on after that?

I thought it was a fantastic show. Matt Tong is an amazing drummer. Kele looked overjoyed at the crowd's appreciation.

Why didn't anyone think to come up to the balcony? I've never seen the balcony at a show so empty. It was totally breezy up there, easy access bar, plenty of room to dance, and good views of the stage if you found the right place to poke your head. The wobbly structure was kind of thrilling, as well.

Posted by zan | June 16, 2005 12:22 PM

"2nd encore? 3rd encore? Huh? The lights came on after the first encore, and the mass exodus began, so we left... Are you saying they came back on after that?" - yes...I'm saying just that...

I was right up front and when the lights came on it was pretty clear that they wanted to come back out the guitar tech was started tuning I stayed up front and the lights went back off and the band came back on...played two more songs...and then they after that, Kele came back out and played drums a little as Matt screwed with the guitars (if that counts as a third encore)...

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2005 12:30 PM

Yeah, the house lights came on, and...was it the guitar tech?... that announced into the microphone "You might wanna stick around, they are coming back out."

They played two more songs, Kele jumped into the crowd, Matt Tong looked like he was possessed for about 3 minutes, then he dove into the crowd...and that was it.

"Why didn't anyone think to come up to the balcony? I've never seen the balcony at a show so empty. It was totally breezy up there, easy access bar, plenty of room to dance, and good views of the stage if you found the right place to poke your head. The wobbly structure was kind of thrilling, as well. "

Probably because you're supposed to dance at these shows! No, I realize some people like to watch from a far. I don't know why it was so empty. Hell, even the floor seemed to get a lot roomier half way through the show.

"However, there is no way that this was their best NYC show." - not according to the band...

I know, I heard what Kele said. I am not speaking as a representative of the band. I am speaking as a fan, and in my opinion, neither of the Webster Hall shows were on the Top 3 NY Bloc Party show list...for me.

Posted by Mike Neuman | June 16, 2005 12:45 PM

"Yeah, the house lights came on, and...was it the guitar tech?... that announced into the microphone "You might wanna stick around, they are coming back out."" - yeah it was Peter!...he gave me his setlist too...

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2005 12:55 PM

As for the balcony, one of the 10 or so packs of kids I fled from last night held a big, worried discussion about whether or not the balcony was VIP only. (Don't know why they didn't just go up and see!) They were like 18, and it was their first time at Webster, which I'm guessing was the case with a lot of the crowd and the reason why it was so empty up there. After seeing my third near-fistfight, I should have gone up, but stood by that side bar instead, which I discovered at LCD does have some form of AC blowing.

Speaking of that side bar, what's up with the system where one bartender takes the order, and another makes the drinks? It's not like that at the main bar. And why is it that every woman they put behind that side bar is unable to remember even the simplest drink order, or who ordered it? It's hilarious. While I'm at it, the pizza parlor downstairs is also kind of ridiculous. It smelled like pepperoni all the way up by the stage last night! I should add that it was a super great show, despite all this.

Posted by tricia | June 16, 2005 12:58 PM

This has nothing to do with Bloc Party, everything to do with Webster Hall.

The 5 times I have gone to shows there, or attempted to go to shows, resulted in some sort of personal strife/heartbreak/fight. I'm convinced it's cursed.

Posted by yah | June 16, 2005 1:15 PM

"suck it up pussies".....nice. like many of us, i've been to hundreds of shows in my life, in all kinds of venues - clubs, basements, storefronts, kitchens, etc. these shows have often been crowded and the conditions have on more than one occasion been sweltering. but it's almost always been worth it to see great bands in an at least moderately intimate setting.

i'm not a total indie snob, and i like to see good bands achieve a level of popularity and comfort that they deserve. but paying $25 or more to be jammed in, in stifling heat, with a bunch of people that not only don't know the music, but talk through the entire set, with a sound system that may or may not be adequate that seems unnecessary, and it really takes away from the music.

Webster Hall shows have to go.

Posted by arv | June 16, 2005 1:23 PM

Last night's show was my first time seeing the Bloc, so I can't compare, but the band was definately enjoying themselves, and the crowd was very responsive though the energy level sagged a bit in the middle of the show. Even though the band and every TV talk-show viewer in the world may be sick of "Banquet" they did pull off a rip-roaring performance of the song last night.

Pet peeve: people who insist on talking through the show as if they're at a bar listening to a jukebox. My wife had no problem telling them to "shut the f*ck up!"

Yeah, the undulating floor had me a bit concerned. But not so much as at a show by the Ramones in late '79 (dating myself) at the old Paladium Theater on 14th Street. We had the first row in the balcony (great!) but when the Ramones started playing, and the entire crowd was pogoing, that balcony had to be moving up and down by a foot each time. Maybe a good thing they tore that joint down eventually.

Posted by drewo | June 16, 2005 1:49 PM

I saw Bloc Party in Boston at the Paradise, which is an amazing sounding venue, and they sounded awful. I love their album, but live it was drums with some vocal. I asked the resident sound guy why it sounded so bad, and he said their sound guy was totally green. I know Webster Hall sucks, but some of the responsibility should be placed on their soundman.

Posted by aaron | June 16, 2005 2:11 PM

"Webster Hall shows have to go." - then where genius? I've still yet to hear someone suggest a better, similar size/location venue...and if you say Bowery, I swear I will slap you...

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2005 2:13 PM

Irving Plaza?

Posted by Mike Neuman | June 16, 2005 2:36 PM

Last night was unbelivable, and easily my favorite bloc party show thus far. (the only one i hadn't been to was the first kniting factory show, and the second bowery night).

It's become the cool thing to diss on Webster Hall, but I really don't see what's so bad. My only gripe is having to go to the show on a weekend, when they open the other side. The culture clash between the two groups is unsettling, and uncomfortable. Other than that, what's so bad about it:

Drink Prices?- Yes they're high, but there are plenty of other bars in the area to drink before the show.(My favorite is Bar None, which even though the place blows, they have 3 dollar drafts and well drinkgs til ten every night, and its right around the corner.) At least it's better than playing six bucks for a can bud at irving plaza.

The crowd?-I think the main gripe people have with webster hall has less to do with the venue, and more with rising popularity of "indie" acts. Yes it sucks when half the room doesn't even care about the band, but you really can't blame the venue for that. It's not like the promoters are bringing in busses full of these kids, just to ruin everyone else's night. Unfortunately, with a lot of these bands, seeing them has simply become the cool thing to do.

I'll take Webster Hall over Irving Plaza or Roseland, any day. Just imagine what these shows are like when they are all ages.

Posted by pete m. | June 16, 2005 2:44 PM

"Probably because you're supposed to dance at these shows! No, I realize some people like to watch from a far."

Mike: most people in the balcony, including me, were dancing their asses off, and had more room to do it in. I felt like I was right on top of everything. It was much better than all 5'2" of me getting stuck behind a line of 6'3" guys (for short girls, it often seems like EVERYONE is 6'3" at concerts), and my days of pushing to the front of the crowd are long behind me. I'll stick with balconies!

Posted by zan | June 16, 2005 2:54 PM

I think Irving is way better than Webster, though I think it's smaller so it's not really a good comparison. The sound is better for sure. I even prefer Hammerstein, though I've only seen one show there (Pixies). Roseland and Webster? Pick 'em. They're both pretty bad. I'm not saying bad bands play there or that Bloc Party didn't own last night. I'm just saying that the venue sucks.

Posted by Mark | June 16, 2005 2:58 PM

I don't know the exact numbers, but Googling produces these numbers:

Webster Hall Capacity: 1400
Irving Plaza Capacity: 1800

Posted by Mike Neuman | June 16, 2005 3:59 PM

I'm sorry, that was poor grammar.

Posted by Mike Neuman | June 16, 2005 4:01 PM

Bowery > Irving > Hammerstein > Webster > Roseland

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2005 4:07 PM

I'll throw the Merc right in between Bowery and Irving as well, but that is right on with my feelings.

As for the capacity. The numbers for Bowery and Webster seem low in that article. The guy runs the place, so I assume he knows. Googling also produces 2500 on a number of occasions for WH. Perhaps it just seems that way since the physical space is larger than Irving.

As for the sound, here's a link about how they recently installed a new sound system. So perhaps things are improving. I'll see tomorrow.

Posted by Mark | June 16, 2005 4:40 PM

i can't believe no one has called out the girl who thinks it is okay to SIT during a concert. sitting takes up more space than standing and is de facto lame-o. do your feet really hurt that bad??

Posted by catherine | June 16, 2005 6:14 PM

Webster Hall sucked in 1981 when it was called the Ritz, was selling drugs in the bathrooms, letting underage girls in to see shows :::raising hand:::, and sold Tuborg Gold in a can for $4 (which was highway robbery back then). All they've done in 20 fucking years is open up the downstairs. You can still slip on those marble stairs that lead to the show room when some fuckwit spills his beer everywhere.

I saw Public Image Limited perform behind the video screen (riot ensued when some fuckwit threw a large garbage can at said screen), remember being crammed with my back against the dj booth when Guns N' Roses played, [insert continued Boring Old Fart comments here endlessly] It wasn't made for rock and roll shows.

Guys. It's a rock and roll club. It sucks. Big Fucking Deal. And at rock and roll clubs you will have idiots sitting down, idiots talking through your favorite band (actually you have that EVERYWHERE), overpriced drinks (bring a hip flask), late start times, gestapo security. There is maybe one club per town in the US that *isn't* like this and they generally do not last.

Hammerstein is worse. It's an aircraft hangar with zero ambience and that floor is a disaster waiting to happen. Thank god Irving Plaza still exists.

Posted by clr | June 16, 2005 10:42 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Irving a Clear Channel venue and Webster is not? If so, then I will go to Webster for that reason alone...

Posted by Anonymous | June 17, 2005 9:13 AM

You are correct. Go to Webster Hall. More room for me at Irving Plaza.

Posted by Mike Neuman | June 17, 2005 11:30 AM

Like many of you I'm sure, over the years I have been to many shows at Bowery, Irving, Hammerstein, Webster and Roseland. I've seen good and bad shows at all. But it is only at Webster that the band onstage has to compete with the clearly audible bass from the dance club downstairs.

It's been a while since I've been to Hammerstein, but it seems to me that that place is comparable to Webster Hall in size. It may be an airplaine hangar, but I don't go to a show for gold plastic astrology symbols and disco balls.

Posted by Karen | June 21, 2005 12:29 PM

irving plaza is more around 1200 i believe. 1800 is way high.

Posted by smitty | June 24, 2005 6:48 PM

You can look up NYC building capacities at

Irving Plaza (excluding the lobby) seems to add up to 980:

Four floors at Webster Hall hold 1,445 total:

An overcrowding complaint was received and is still open:

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