Bartees Strange felt right at home at Elsewhere show (review, videos)
Bartees Strange loves Brooklyn. At his headlining show at Elsewhere Tuesday night (11/15), he took a moment to greet the crowd with a "YERRRR!," and the audience echoed it back accordingly. But well before he won over the room, Spring Silver and Pom Pom Squad opened--a fitting pair of young bands with exciting sounds. Pom Pom Squad maintained a buzzy energy in the room with their fuzzed-out, down-tempo sound (not to mention, they sounded fantastic just two weeks after their gear was stolen in Europe). Lead vocalist Mia Berrin closed their set with "Be Good" (off 2021's Death of a Cheerleader), tossing fake roses from a bouquet into the crowd.
And then, almost out of nowhere, Bartees Strange's band ushered him in over a sample of Cousin Greg from Succession, setting a jovial and high-energy tone for the set. It takes a particularly skilled team of musicians to keep up with Bartees, both in his massive stage presence and boundary-pushing music, and the band were more than up to the task.
Playing tracks from 2020's Live Forever and this year's Farm To Table, Bartees and company made a transportive sound, with indie rock, synth pop, math rock, jazz, and rap all in the mix. They followed ever-catchy "Flagey God" with a cover of the National's "Lemonworld" (one of the covers on Bartees' National covers EP Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy). Also featured were "Hold The Line" (which he explained was inspired by George Floyd's daughter in the wake of his murder in May of 2020), "In A Cab," "Stone Meadows" (written about his years of cultural clash after moving from England to Oklahoma), "Mustang," "Boomer" ("I wrote this on the 2 train!" he said), "Mulholland Dr.," "Wretched," "Cosigns," "Escape This Circus," and Farm To Table closers "Black Gold" and "Hennessy."
The much-demanded encore featured "oldies but goodies" in Bartees's words, namely "Free Kelly Rowland" and "About Today," another National cover. The strength and vulnerability with which he approached his music and the stories behind it reflected how profoundly he loves what he does. Whether slapping bass or turning knobs on pedals on the floor or spinning around the stage dipping his guitar neck, he's a consummate performer and a thrilling musician to watch. He bends genres and shapes his sound into something entirely new--few are doing it like him, and no one's doing it better.
Check out fan-shot photos and video below, and catch Bartees on the road through the end of the year with They Hate Change, Spring Silver, and Pom Pom Squad--including tonight (11/16) at Bowery Ballroom. All dates below.
Bartees Strange -- 2022 Live Dates
Nov 16 Wed Bowery Ballroom New York, NY, United States +
Nov 29 Tue Parish Austin, TX, United States
Nov 30 Wed Deep Ellum Art Company Dallas, TX, United States
Dec 5 Mon Music Box San Diego, CA, United States
Dec 6 Tue Regent Theater DTLA Los Angeles, CA, United States
Dec 7 Wed The Independent San Francisco, CA, United States
Dec 9 Fri Neumos Seattle, WA, United States
Dec 10 Sat Fox Cabaret Vancouver, BC, Canada
Dec 11 Sun Doug Fir Lounge Portland, OR, United States
Dec 13 Tue The Urban Lounge Salt Lake City, UT, United States
Dec 14 Wed Bluebird Theater Denver, CO, United States
Dec 15 Thu Slowdown Omaha, NE, United States
Dec 16 Fri Beer City Music Hall Oklahoma City, OK, United States
Dec 18 Sun Terminal West Atlanta, GA, United States
Dec 19 Mon The Basement East Nashville, TN, United States
+ = No They Hate Change