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photos by Andrew St. Clair, words by Patricia Scull
Dan Black @ Bowery Ballroom
Dan Black headlined Bowery Ballroom on Thursday night (9/10), one night before he played a pair of Fashion's Night Out events. Dan returns to play a dancey BMI & SPIN CMJ showcase at Highline Ballroom on on October 19th, eleven days after he is scheduled to play Austin City Limits 2010. Also playing that CMJ show are The Golden Filter, Neon Hitch, Boy Crisis, Body Language, and The Chain Gang of 1974. Tickets are on sale for those who don't have and/or want to chance getting in with a CMJ badge.
Pictures and a review of the Bowery Ballroom show, continue below...
The Dance Party
The Dance Party opens the night with a dimly lit, melodic, synthy intro, and immediately launches into a driven pop-punk madness that doesn't stop going their entire set. Lead singer Mick Coogan embodies a mash up of David Lee Roth, Mick Jagger, and the all three of the BeeGees rolled into one. The Dance Party's material is characterized by a manic frenzy of electric guitar, fast-powered drums, boppy synthesizer and Coogan's coasting vocals that venture easily into falsetto territory every third note or so. Coogan dances around the stage like a caged sex beast, flailing limbs and hair following in the wake of every hip thrust, while his bassist and guitarist, donned in hi-tops and headband, respectively, trade riffs. It's obvious these guys are just here to party, and will continue to do so as they tour the US promoting their new album Touch (out September 28).
Next up is Class Actress, pet project of songstress Elizabeth Harper, who in a departure from the coffeehouse singer-songwriter, acoustic guitar gigs of yore, sets up her own stage consisting of synthesizers and a lone guitar. Here, bathed in a wash of red light from above, Harper skips around the stage in red stiletto boots, her words reveling in the reverb as she begs the listener, "Love me like you used to." The songs consistently use contrast to emphasize her cloud-like soprano, which floats and hovers above the driving sea of synth beats. Harper herself is all over, mussing her hair as she dances around, crouching, standing, hands in the air. She juxtaposes hard beats and soft, feathery vocal delivery, girl and woman, reminiscent of the 80's, but planted firmly in the now. Class Actress is now on tour promoting Journal of Ardency, which came out earlier this year.
Dan Black is making us wait for it. After two opening acts, his stage is finally up and the house lights are down. There's a tone ringing out from the stage, building anticipation. His other two band mates are on stage before him. Black suddenly makes his entrance, donning his signature face paint, immediately blasting into high energy "Pump My Pumps," off his album ((Un)), which was released Feb. 16 of this year. Black darts across the stage with the mic, stopping to hunch over his multiple computers, one of which looks like it dropped straight off the mothership, with its rainbow of neon, pulsating lights. By the second song, the smell of weed had already permeated the upper balcony. By the third song, the crowd was singing along, and by the fourth song, Black had everyone grooving and hand-clapping to his single "Alone." "Now I know it's New York and you're the coolest people on earth," Black coddled his audience in his proper British accent, "but just this one time ... be a little uncool."
Halfway through his set, he announced, "We're going to do something new ... because it's New York! Although we're probably gonna fuck it up," launching into beats sampled from Rihanna's "Umbrella" for "HYPNTZ," his Notorious B.I.G. cover. After the first chorus, Black paused the song to layer on epic choral vocals, morphing "HYPNTZ" into his mad-dash hit "Symphonies." Practically convulsing across the stage to the beat, one fan shouted, "Do it again!"
After the show, in the lingering crowd outside Bowery Ballroom, one onlooker commented that Black seemed surprised at the show's reception. "It's almost as if he wasn't expecting the crowd to like him that much." Black should probably get used to it, as he's recently received some mainstream press the kiddies can't ignore, in the form of an MTV Video Music Award nomination (for ((Un))'s "Symphonies,") (he didn't win) alongside the likes of Eminem, Muse, and Green Day.
Pictures from the show continue below...