Gig review: Arctic Monkeys – Rumsey Playfield, NYC, 5/24/2011

For the first outdoor gig of the year, I felt there was no act better to fit this event than a personal favorite of mine, Sheffield UK’s own, Arctic Monkeys. The band is a four piece indie rock outfit led by Alex Turner, who in my opinion is one of the best songwriters going today. Combining wit and a heart-on-your-sleeve mentality, Turner’s lyrics are very vivid and intelligent without being pretentious.

I was very excited to hear that the Arctic Monkeys were going to be playing NYC so soon in support of their soon-to-be-released fourth record, entitled “Suck It And See“. I had never attended a show at Rumsey Playfield, and I’m not the biggest fan of outdoor gigs, but I love this band, so it’d take a lot for me to turn them down regardless of venue. Rumsey Playfield is a cordoned off section of the park to accommodate paid shows. I was very surprised at its layout, as upon arrival the line was so long I was afraid I might have been stuck in the suburbs trying to enjoy the show, but that was not the case. With a capacity of about 8000-10000, Rumsey Playfield wasn’t bad at all.

One thing about this show that stands out is how early it began. It was pretty militaristic in terms of its timing and the sun was still out when the headliner took the stage. I imagine this is due to curfew laws, but compared to most of the gigs I catch in this city, it’s rather unique to be on my way home by 10:30pm.

Arctic Monkeys - photo courtesy of Themis

The band came out to raucous applause and launched into their opening number, a song off of the forthcoming album entitled “Library Pictures“. This track can be best be described as a direct cousin of a track on its predecessor, “Humbug” called “Dangerous Animals“, with a major difference being that “Pictures” lacks a spelling lesson. It was a very strong rock opening and while the majority of the crowd were unfamiliar with it, it did not go down without fanfare.

From there on, the band played a healthy mix of tracks from throughout their already stellar catalog which is definitely aided by the excellent “Suck It And See” which I was happy to hear before seeing the show and knew that the new material would come off well. The set was very brisk and a lot of the crowd nearest to us knew every single lyric (asides from the newest material), which is a good thing. Highlights of the set for me included “Teddy Picker” and “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor“, both off the debut album, as well as “Potion Approaching” off of Humbug.

There wasn’t much banter from Turner and Co., but the band’s chops cannot be understated. This is a band that knows it’s fanbase very well and they catered to us on this night. For the most part, the set was very uptempo with very few ballads aside from the now ubiquitous “Cornerstone” and what I think can be termed a ballad off of the new album, main set closer “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala”.

The show was over in an instant it seemed following a short three song encore which included a blistering rendition of “When The Sun Goes Down“. All-in-all a terrific set that was over much too soon, and a fitting way to kick off the Summerstage series.

Arctic Monkeys – 8/10

One Response

  1. this show was honestly the best i have ever been to for a really long time. arctic monkeys is such a great band. and i am completely in love with alex turner. it couldnt have been better. i love that they came back and played when the sun goes down. i cant wait to see them live again. the vaccines were also pretty good.

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