reviews of DANIEL JOHNSTON at Warsaw & the Highline Ballroom + more pics
DOWNLOAD: Daniel Johnston – Funeral Girl (MP3)
Daniel Johnston played his second of two NYC shows last night (May 16, 2007) at the Highline Ballroom (part of the High Line Festival). I wasn’t there, but I did go to the first show at Warsaw the night before (May 15). Apparently I picked the right show.
We were treated to a beautiful performance by Daniel at Warsaw – two sets (one acoustic, one with a band, neither the Nightmares), two one-song encores, and a happy, cheerful, and loving Daniel Johnston. I’m serious about the loving part too – especially in light of the Nazi stuff that I’m sure everyone is wondering about. Daniel seems to have two jokes that he tells at every show. He told the one about a man being sentenced to death for trying to commit suicide, and then at one point – almost sadly, but still smiling – he told us how he didn’t have anything to say at that moment because one of his jokes has been censored. He said the press wrote about it, and his dad and brother yelled at him – so he couldn’t say it anymore. I was both happy (not to have to hear the ‘joke’) and sad at the same time. Here was this amazing man talking about being censored, and he was even so cute when saying he can’t say it anymore because he was yelled at by his dad. Other times during his set he wished us all to live forever and true love. During the censored joke he told us to think about the funniest thing we could think about instead (or something like that) – this way we would laugh even without his ‘joke’. Again – I don’t think anything about Jews going to a concentration camp is funny, but I won’t hold it against him.
That all said, I’ve asked sometimes BV-contributor Nick Brassbonanza to write a review of the Warsaw show, and I received a really disappointing letter from someone who went to the High Line show. Both of those, and more pictures from Warsaw, below…..
From Alex who went to the Highline….
i’m sure you’ll get plenty of comments about this, but i might as well send this anyway. right in the middle of daniel johnston’s short set, the highline ballroom busboys push to the front of the stage (i was standing up against it). they’re carrying big tupperware bins to pick up all the bottles and glasses on stage (maybe about 20 on the whole thing). they’re making a shit ton of noise, banging glasses together and ordering people to move. a girl near me tried to explain how rude they were being, but of course they ignored her. i hate to try to guess what someone is thinking, least of all daniel johnston of all people, but i can’t help but think this may have had something to do with him playing half as long as the night before….
True? Did anyone go to both shows?
And from Nick Brassbonanza on Warsaw….
Going into this show I was told not to expect any old Daniel Johnston songs, except for maybe “Devil Town” and “Speeding Motorcycle.” Well, not only did he play them both, but the entire show was heavy on familiar material and lasted for almost 2 hours. Starting with the acoustic set, Danny was joined by one of his college buddies and collaborators, Brett Hartenbach, who played guitar while Danny sang from his notebook.
The appreciative crowd was treated to favorites such as “Living Life,” “Silly Love,” and “Mask,” which he recently played on the Henry Rollins show. The set was beautiful and Danny seemed to be in great spirits. His jokes now seem to be part of his repertoire and he told the one where he had a dream that he was sentenced to death for trying to commit suicide. He then mentioned his controversial/anti-Semitic joke from SXSW, saying how his Father and brother were mad at him and something along the lines of, “My joke got bad press and has been censored.” He then told the crowd to imagine the funniest thing they can think of and have a laugh. He ended the set with “Grievances” which he said was his favorite song and hadn’t played it in years.
Backed by the Joe McGinty band, the second set was more up-tempo and opened with “Rock This Town.” Although the set was electric, it was loaded with classics. He played “Funeral Girl,” and “Funeral Home” back to back, “Do You Really Love Me,” “Fish,” “Casper The Friendly Ghost,” “Hey Joe” and “Rock n Roll/ EGA.” One of the many surprises was when he broke out arguably his most popular song, “Walking The Cow.” The crowd went nuts the entire show and it seemed to have a positive effect on him. A great moment was when he said that with the help of today’s technology we should be able to live past 100 years old. “This generation should be about living, ” he said. “I’m supposed to be 45, but I feel like a 3 year old….seriously.” The highlight of the night came in the first encore. Danny wished everyone “Good luck,” and played “True Love Will Find You In The End.” He cut it off a bit early, but that didn’t’t matter, it was beautiful. He came back out for a second encore and ended with a solo rendition of “Devil Town.”
The show exceeded my expectations in every way. Both sets were amazing, the crowd was respectful and Danny seemed to be having a great time as well. Wow!