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February 5, 2016
photos by PSquared; words by Andrew Sacher
Last month, Anderson .Paak released Malibu, his first album since getting a serious career boost by being the breakout star of Dr. Dre's album Compton. He came to NYC this week to celebrate (after being delayed by Winter Storm Jonas), hitting The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday (2/3) and a sold-out SOB's show last night (2/4).
Last night's show began with just Anderson's DJ on stage, and seconds later Anderson's voice started coming through the PA as he slowly made his way to the stage. It was pretty clear from that instant that he'd have the crowd in the palm of his hands the whole night. He introduced his next song by shouting out Dr. Dre and DJ Premier (the latter of whom was in the house) and then played his Dre/Premo collab "Animals" from Compton. Once he got into the Malibu stuff, his ace band joined him on stage. In addition to the DJ (who also plays electronic drum pads), he's got a guitarist and a bassist, and Anderson himself takes over on live drums for about half the set. He's most entertaining when he's up front, so it's almost too bad that there isn't another full-time drummer, but when he gets behind that kit he kills. He's easily as good at drumming as he is at singing and rapping, and when he really goes off (like at the end of the Colbert performance), it's truly a sight to be seen and had the SOB's crowd was howling.
If you haven't seen Anderson .Paak yet, don't miss the chance. It was one of those shows where the album is already great but the live show just brings it to a whole other level.
Marcus Machado and Jay Watts opened, but we missed the latter. Check out more pictures from SOB's and the Colbert video below...
The Acorn / Emilie & Ogden / Patchostars @ Megaphono 2/2/2016
The second annual Megaphono music festival kicked off earlier this week in Ottawa, Canada. Focusing on the Ottawa music scene, the industry event has brought delegates from North America and abroad in a large swath of capacities from booking agents to publicists, managers to music publishers. And even a photographer from New York. I'll be filing dispatches from the four-day festival here in Canada's capital and we get started with the first day of the festival from Tuesday (2/2).
The opening night of Megaphono began in the gorgeous St. Alban's Church and a keynote speech by rock critic Jessica Hopper. Her book, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, was released last year. Hopper's keynote address was brief, 20 maybe 25 minutes tops and touched on the state of women, and their treatment, in a male-dominated music industry. Disappointing was the lack of Q&A after the address. The forum to have a conversation was an opportunity lost - especially in the wake of last month's flashpoint and fallout over the Heathcliff Berru allegations - and would have dovetailed nicely with the Safe Spaces panel taking place the next day.
The evening's showcase was headlined by The Acorn. Rolf Klausener returned with last year's Vieux Loup and he and his band performed a dreamy set of electro-folk pop numbers and, being the only full band of the night, their sound filled the church as holiday lights adorned the stage at their feet and lights projected overhead danced and into the chapel behind them.
The first two bands of the night - both solo artists - were a contrast in styles: the thumping sampled-beats-over-airy-vocals of Pipahauntas (Sam Pippa) and the sparse, lovely melodies of Emilie Khan and her harp, Ogden - together making up the duo Emilie & Ogden. On record Khan's voice and harp playing are complemented by multiple instruments, but at St. Alban's she held the sold-out crowd's attention with just her her voice and instrument.
From the church we headed to the later showcases at two venues next door to each other - Black Squirrel Books and The House of Targ - a subterranean dive bar complete with pinball machines and noted for their pierogi (which were excellent.)
At Black Squirrel I caught November, the solo project by Gregory-Yves Fénélon, and Heavy Bedroom, a project by Alex Maltby. Heavy Bedroom was tipped as one to see by the locals I had chatted with earlier in the day. I enjoyed their brief set of lo-fi rock with songs that structurally seemed to teeter on the brink of collapse. This was heightened by the slightly rough around the edges performance and the revelation that he had rounded up his drummer and bass player to learn the songs in just three weeks.
I finished the evening at House of Targ where I saw solid set by Montreal's Congo-born francophone rapper Patchostars before calling it an early night with panels to attend early the next morning.
Stay tuned for more coverage of Megaphono. More pictures from Day 1 are below...
photos by David Andrako
Pharoahe Monch & PitchBlak Brass Band @ Ecstatic Music Festival 2/4/2016
The 2016 Ecstatic Festival, which pairs rock/pop with composers and experimental musicians, just got underway with a 1/29 kickoff event at The Greene Space (featuring a Man Forever / Tigue collaboration) before settling in to its usual home of Merkin Concert Hall on Thursday (2/4) for a collaborative performance by skilled MC Pharoahe Monch and the PitchBlak Brass Band. The show featured new arrangements of songs from his deeply personal 2014 album PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which incorporated a string section as well. The setlist and more pics from the show are below.
Up next for the Ecstatic Music Festival is the Bang on a Can People's Commissioning Fund Concert on Saturday (4/6) at Merkin Concert Hall, featuring the Bang on a Can All-Stars performing world premieres of new works by Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith, Zhang Shouwang & René Lussier, plus Julia Wolfe's Pulitzer Prize-winning / Grammy-nominated "Anthracite Fields." Tickets are on sale. If you can't make it to the show, the performance will be streamed live on Q2 Music at 7:30 PM EST.
February 4, 2016
photos by Greg Cristman
Wilco @ Capitol Theatre 2/2/2016
Wilco are currently on tour in support of their album Star Wars and played Port Chester's Capitol Theater on Groundhog Day (2/2) with William Tyler and February 3 with Steve Gunn. This tour has Wilco playing Star Wars in full, followed by a second set featuring songs from the rest of their catalog. At the 2/2 show, Tyler joined Wilco during the encore for "Airline to Heaven" which was originally on the Mermaid Ave. Vol 2 album with Billy Bragg. Pictures from that first night, and setlists from both Capitol Theatre shows, are below.
This tour hits Brooklyn's Kings Theatre this weekend on February 5 with Bill Frisell (tickets) and February 6 with Steve Gunn (sold out).
photos by Amanda Hatfield
Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins are currently on tour celebrating the tenth anniversary of their collaborative album Rabbit Fur Coat, and last night (2/3) was the first of two NYC shows at Beacon Theatre. The setlist was the same as it has been all tour, with the album played start to finish, followed by an intermission, and then a second set of other Jenny Lewis/Rilo Kiley songs, a new song, and Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins' version of The Shirelles' "I Met Him on a Sunday." For "The Voyager," Jenny stood on a rainbow-painted box and dedicated the song to David Bowie.
M Ward, who guests on the album, opened the show and also joined Jenny and the Watson Twins for a bunch of songs. The tour hits the Beacon again tonight (2/4), and tickets are still available. More pictures and the setlist from last night, below...
February 3, 2016
photos by Nick Karp
After being postponed due to Winter Storm Jonas, I Am the Avalanche's original lineup played their first shows in two years at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday (1/30) and the much smaller DIY spot Suburbia on Sunday (1/31). We caught them at Suburbia, and needless to say, it was packed to the gills and it was a totally wild show. The great newer Long Island punk band Timeshares opened, as did Make War.
I Am the Avalanche singer Vinnie Caruana's other band The Movielife also have more reunion shows coming up, including NYC on March 24 at Webster Hall with TBA special guests. They're working on new material for the first time since 2003's Forty Hour Train Back to Penn, and they're promising to debut some of the new songs at these shows. Tickets for NYC are still available.
More pictures from Suburbia below...
February 2, 2016
photos by Keith Marlowe; words by Stone Mann
The Giraffes @ Saint Vitus 1/29/2016
Friday night (1/29) saw veteran Brooklyn heavy-riff rockers, The Giraffes, once again taking the stage at St. Vitus, this time a vinyl release celebration of their latest album, Usury. Finding the right words to describe all that goes into experiencing a Giraffes show isn't easy. Perhaps catharsis best sums it up. Like a medieval troupe performing a twisted morality play, the bands hypnotic show pulls audience members into its spell.
The center of this quartet is the Svengali-like lead singer, Aaron Lazar. Dressed in a dark three-piece suit Lazar embodies the persona of the corporate stooge one imagines as the antagonist from the album Usury. Flanking Lazar are Josh Taggart on bass, Andrew Totolos on drums, and the legendary riff-monster Damien Paris, all of whom are like the many temptations of St. Anthony, reminding Lazar's character that his true nature is not the corporate cross.
The set started slowly at first with the epic "Blood Will Run" off the new album and, while occasionally plagued by some technical issues, the band quickly found their feet, ramping up the heaviness and the energy, delivering a classic Giraffes show. Over the next frenetic hour, under a barrage of drinks and taunts from the audience, the musical tension built, the players dug deeper into their instruments, and Lazar's stooge unravelled to reveal the veteran rockers finishing with a punishing version of "Honey Baby Child" -- a song dedicated to a recently deceased friend. Needless to say, the Giraffes are still one of the great bands of NYC.
Check out more pictures from The Giraffes show at Saint Vitus, below...
February 1, 2016
photos by Greg Cristman
Robyn Hitchcock @ The Landmark, Port Washington, NY 1/29/2016
Alt-rock vet and polkadot fan, Robyn Hitchcock is currently on an acoustic tour with Emma Swift that hit Port Washington, NY's Landmark on Saturday, January 29. Drawing from his exceedingly rich catalog -- including "Madonna of the Wasps," "Raymond Chandler Evening," "Balloon Man" -- Hitchcock entertains equally with his between-song stories and non sequiturs. For his encore, Robyn paid tribute to David Bowie with four covers, including "Five Years," "The Prettiest Star," "Quicksand," and "Soul Love." Video of "Quicksand" and "Soul Love" covers (plus a couple Hitchcock originals) from the Landmark show, as well as the setlist, below.
The next day (1/30), Robyn visited WFMU for Todd-O-Phonic Todd's show for an interview and live session. You can listen to that here. Robyn and Emma will be touring together again in March and April. No NYC show, but there are a few in NY, NJ and CT. All dates are listed, along with more photos from the Landmark show, below.
January 29, 2016
photos by James Richards IV
Protomartyr @ Lincoln Hall 1/24/2016
Protomartyr are in the midst of their winter tour supporting 2015's The Agent Intellect. They hit Chicago's Lincoln Hall with tourmates Amanda X and local postpunk act Negative Scanner on Sunday, January 24. Pics from the whole night, and Protomartyr's setlist, are in this post.
By the time Protomartyr hits NYC -- February 13 at Music Hall of Williamsburg -- their tourmates will be Priests and opening the show will be Beech Creeps. Tickets are still available. Protomartyr will tour Europe shortly after their North American run wraps up, including festival stops like Primavera Sound. Updated dates are listed, along with more pics from their Chicago show, below.
January 28, 2016
photos by P Squared
"Independence Day" was wonderfully visceral as Springsteen sang from a new perspective -- no longer as the 30-year-old who had barely considered his father's mortality, let alone his own. Saxophonist Jake Clemons commanded conquered his solo, and while he tends not to be as emotive as his late uncle Clarence, he was just as smooth in the later revisit of "Drive All Night," which enjoyed a crescendo of full-band power near its finish.Bruce Springsteen brought his The River tour to Madison Square Garden last night (1/27) for his first NYC-area stop of the tour. The first stop would have been this past Sunday (1/24) but Winter Storm Jonas got in the way. The Boss opened with The River outtake "Meet Me in the City" and then proceeded to perform the massive double album in full. Once the album was done, the rest of his set (encore included) was made up of favorites and covers, including "Candy's Room," "Thunder Road," "Dancing in the Dark," "Rosalita," "Because the Night" (the song he wrote for Patti Smith) and a cover of The Isley Brothers' "Shout" to end the night.
But the best by far of Bruce's low-tempo tunes Wednesday was unlikely candidate "Point Blank," which after a somewhat clunky finish to "The River" (the song), opened with a tremendous, orchestral sequence from drummer Max Weinberg and pianist Roy Bittan. The rest of "Point Blank" was tightly wound, and understated -- especially compared to twangy set successor "Cadillac Ranch." [NJ.com]
He next plays Prudential Center on Sunday (1/31) and MSG on March 28 (both sold out), and then returns for shows at Barclays Center on April 23 and 25. Tickets for those two go on sale Friday (1/29) at 11 AM.
More pictures and the setlist from last night, below...