Ask any New Yorker sweating on the streets about summer in the city and you’ll somehow hear a cheerful and flowery oratory. Despite the gritty heat, the miles walked upon blistering blacktops, and the strange smells emanating from subway grates (and people), certain seasonal afternoons and city perquisites tend to provide prescribed amnesia to such unfavorable conditions. Certain seasonal afternoons like the one I experienced yesterday involving the Kooks, a rooftop full of friendly folks in Flatiron, and a reservoir of cold beer, proved to be the exact prescription I needed. Cheerful and flowery oratory to follow:
I knew the Kooks were in town. The Brighton-bred boys were set to play two shows at Terminal 5, and being a devoted fan, I was prepared to make the sweltering trek westward to brave the sweaty sold-out crowds. Mercifully, I didn’t have to prove the extent of my devotion, as I had my own Inside In/Inside Out (sorry) from a kind friend from the inside of EMI who let me hang outside at the private show on the the company rooftop. On the deck a couple of Kooks mingled with the small crowd comprised of people from Astralwerks, EMI, and the sons and daughters of such. Senior Vice President of Astralwerks Glenn Mendlinger gave a brief introduction, saying of the recent heat “We thought we might be cooking a Kook here today, but the weather seems to be perfect.” I sipped at my Heineken and enjoyed the easy breeze and skyline view that only a city rooftop can afford as bandmembers Luke Pritchard and Hugh Harris climbed the provisional stage. Perfect indeed.
“We’ve never played a show quite like this before,” Luke confided to the audience, “but we love our label, and just think you guys are really great.” I discerningly tuned out the whole “label” part and accepted the compliment as the duo played a perfect acoustic set. Looking like the complete portrait of a British indie band, the boys in button downs, boots and shaggy mops leisurely rolled through songs including Inside In/Inside Out favorites “Naïve” and “Ooh La” as well as the new jem, “Always Where I Need to Be,” off their sophomore album, Konk. Slowly they decided which tracks to display, Luke asking himself aloud, “What song would be perfect to play right now?” The raw performance meshed flawlessly with the sunny atmosphere and their easy talent. When they reluctantly finished, the relaxed atmosphere lingered as they hugged familiar friends, investigated the burger grills, and inspected their Spotlight article in BlackBook’s May issue. Luke was leaning up against the ledge, the placid breeze stirring the pages. “It’s really great stuff,” he said with a smile that erased all prior memory of the roasting hot city, blistering blacktops, and yes, even the strange smells emanating from subway grates (and people).