Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Bowery Ballroom’

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

I’m stuck in fictional 2010, feeling like I just graduated college. I’m still hopeful about the Obama presidency, and my favorite album is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I’m like the show Newsroom—I imagine an idealized version of the proximate past where I do everything right. And in my retelling, I didn’t miss Gold Panda open for Four Tet during CMJ. I didn’t underestimate how long it’d take me to get to Webster Hall. I didn’t waste time eating a weak Japanese meal. Instead, I saw both acts and was blown away by each. And now, fast-forward to the present day, when I’m writing this review with an interesting context for the show I just saw: an extension of the great show I’d seen before.

Now, Gold Panda is two years removed from his critically acclaimed album, Lucky Shiner. He’s reached that critical juncture where he will be defined by what he does next. And so far, in 2012, GP is on track for repeat success. His new single, “Mountain,” is heady and spatial, a mental “Dancing with Myself.” It signposts that the producer and performer would bring his unique vision and talent to bare with the wisdom of experience. And, at the onset, it was clear he’d acquired an advanced sense of pacing and the attentiveness to the needs of his audience.

Gold Panda folded songs’ structures onto themselves, revisiting rhythms on top of melodies and jumbling together the two. When, midway through the set, he blended into the ultimate crowd-pleaser, “You,” it gained pace and impressiveness with an extended introduction tapped out on an MPC. It was, like his other robotically talkative pieces, a Peter Frampton–influenced triumph of language over noise; we hear words in the modulated stew of sound. And behind a similarly hazy yet familiar set of images, the performance felt like popular dance music drugged and sped up through a cassette player. There was a sense of nostalgia in the music. I entertained the past and thoroughly enjoyed the present.

Read Full Post »

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

Sharon Van Etten looks different. She doesn’t usually wear dresses. And especially not heels. All her tattoos are visible: Two bold lines wrap around the flesh of her left forearm, a bird sits near her right biceps and a guitar’s sound hole and strings are on the tracks of her veins. In other words, she is exposed. But exposure is central to Van Etten’s music. Many singer-songwriters tap into heartbreak as a resource for material. Few, however, do it as effectively as she. With emotional honesty, beautiful counterpoint harmonies and simple, catchy melodies, Van Etten takes the individual experience of lost love and makes it accessible. Pain pop.

The crowd was especially receptive at The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday, perhaps because it was the singer’s 31st birthday. Her family was in the audience and made it known, shouting encouragement in between songs. Van Etten kindly responded, half embarrassed and half pleased to have material for stage banter. Because impromptu speaking doesn’t come easy to her and there are tense silences—but her kind ethos made up for it. She is, simply, charming.

Congeniality is important when playing songs with such emotional heft. You don’t want people to get the wrong idea when singing, “Serpents in my mind, looking for your crimes.” The songs may be dark, but goodness permeates Van Eetten’s demeanor. The Antlers gave her a giant balloon man made out of balloons for her birthday and she proudly displays it onstage. She is confident; more confident than earlier concerts and albums. She looks different. She sounds great.

Read Full Post »

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

The band played in relative darkness, with a screen projecting shimmering gold dots providing the only light onstage. And, against the background, they looked like backlit shadows. The figures created sound, but their performance couldn’t be seen—all the better for Cass McCombs. The reportedly elusive singer-songwriter delivered his literal and personal lyrics with as much anonymity as possible.

Camera flashes provided brief glimpses of the frontman, but on the whole, his voice came from a silhouette. He sang about creatures and passwords written on sticky notes similar to Charlie delivering secrets to his angels. The audience listened attentively for instruction and information. And, for his part, McCombs was a purveyor of both.

During such upbeat numbers as the opener, “Love Thine Enemy,” McCombs tossed off aphorisms and advice. But the tone shifted mostly to midtempo country and folk. The comfortably laid-back sound, pervasive in the current indie-music scene, sounded effortless coming from McCombs and company. It is, after all, his signature. So when they finished with the 2011 lauded single “County Line” and left the stage, the lights immediately came back on. No needs to hide once you’ve left the stage.

Read Full Post »

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

We waited together, packed shoulder to shoulder. The band was onstage but its fundamental element was missing, the SJ to the backdrop’s SJDK—because, quite simply, Sharon Jones makes Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. It’s her presence and voice that give the band an identity. Without her, the Dap-Kings are a talented nine-piece band in similar suits. So when Jones finally appeared, wearing a golden brown ruffled sequin dress, the collective mood noticeably shifted. We finally saw whom we came to see.

For her part, Jones performed with abundant focus and energy, harkening back to soul singer/performer extraordinaire James Brown. Even before the music started, guitarist Binky Griptite announced each of Jones’s notable songs to a short band review, identical to the sequence of a Brown show. And, like Brown, Jones sings, dances and emotes herself to the point of exhaustion. After a performance of the ancestry dance song, a long narrative explanation of her dance style, she huffed and paced. But like Muhammad Ali in the ring, her display seemed as such a part of the performance as it was a breather. She quickly recovered.

Photos courtesy of Alexis Maindrault | rockinpix.com

Read Full Post »

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

On “Swim Good,” one of the surprise hits from his debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra, Frank Ocean sings, “And I’ve got this black suit on/ Roaming around like I’m ready for a funeral.” The song, like most of his limited yet excellent output, is dark, complex and soulful. It also comes from an artist whose 2011 emergence rivals all others, going from unknown Odd Future crew member to almost instant popularity as a Watch the Throne collaborator.

Before a sold-out crowd at The Bowery Ballroom last night, Ocean performed in his aforementioned black suit with a red-and-white-striped bandanna. The hip and sophisticated costume drew attention, not only from fans but kingmakers in attendance. ?uestlove, seated on the balcony, felt compelled to comment on Twitter, saying, “@ffrank_ocean [sic] is a class act yo. Suit & Sade cover. Nice start.”

In addition to the Sade cover (“By Your Side”), Ocean sang a number of choice selections from Nostalgia, Ultra as well as a medley of his work on Watch the Throne (“No Church in the Wild” and “Made in America”). The diverse crowd knew most of his material, even unreleased songs familiar only to those who scour the Internet. But “Dissolution” and “Super Rich Kids,” both of which Ocean mentioned will be on his proper debut, are sure to be hits, and fans are right to take notice. So while Ocean was right about his outfit, he better not be ready for his funeral.

Read Full Post »

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

There is what ears are and there is what ears are capable of being. They are organs connected to neural pathways, vehicles for sound. And what they are capable of being is gateways to the divine, messengers for humanity’s greatest gift: music. Those who honor music know its power. Production, with a mind toward the eternal, creates truth, universally recognizable and intoxicatingly beautiful. And ears, fixed upon truth, tap into a boundless well of pleasure.

With a deep interest in sound, both its production and consumption, Brainfeeder’s traveling showcase descended on The Bowery Ballroom last night, attracting a sold-out crowd with sets from the record label’s growing stable of artists. Brainfeeder “began by Flying Lotus,” and the Los Angeles producer’s unique aesthetic guides and unifies the label. His latest album, Cosmogramma, is a veritable masterpiece, merging jazz, hip-hop and electronic music. And Brainfeeder artists, whether subtly or overtly in the case of opener Teebs inserting a segment of Cosmogramma into his mix, see this album as their mission statement.

Flying Lotus, joined by jazz keyboard prodigy Austin Peralta and budding bass phenomenon Thundercat, appeared late into the night. When the trio relaxed into a groove, the result captured the spirit of J Dilla meeting acid jazz. But even though Flying Lotus is one to pay homage to greats, he also embraces his own identity—weaving Lil Wayne remixes among original works and a silly song about DMT. Never mind his oft-repeated half-apology, “I have no idea where I’m going with that shit.” After four hours of incredible, largely improvised music from the Brainfeeder collective, spontaneity and creativity were pleasure to the ears.

Photo courtesy of Charles Steinberg

Read Full Post »

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

Behind swaths of hair and layers of distortion, Kurt Vile, the man and musician, is easy to lose. He and his four-piece band, the Violators, wear chest-length hair draped over their faces, sharing an identical neo-grunge aesthetic. And with up to four guitarists onstage at a time, Vile’s own instrumental contributions occasionally assimilate into rock slosh. This isn’t to say, however, that Vile isn’t vital. For his first headlining show at The Bowery Ballroom, Vile, on the strength of his most recent critically acclaimed album, Smoke Ring for My Halo, drew a sold-out crowd, a group clamoring for the frontman’s musical output.

As a singer-songwriter, Vile’s melodies, expressed in slurred slacker vocals, touch on familiar American rock territory with a contemporary touch. Delay-saturated guitar riffs and pounding drums transformed “Ghost Town” and “Jesus Fever” from dynamic three-minute songs into sprawling anthems. The effect felt like Neil Young’s Live Rust given an indie-rock makeover, lots of grizzle with the addition of pulsating toms and huge reverb. But during a solitary performance of Smoke Ring for My Halo’s “Peeping Tomboy,” Vile’s intricate fingerpicking on acoustic guitar wove beautifully with playful, self-reflective lyrics. Moments such as this brought balance to a show that found Vile enveloped within his band. Yet, as one attendee noted, yelling out “I love your band,” a group-driven focus is the essence of Vile’s concerts. The unity is the name.

Additional pictures I took from the show after the jump: (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »