Cold War Kids – Rough Trade NYC – October 22, 2014
Rough Trade NYC hosted a flock of impressive acts last night, and concertgoers who caught this show on the second night of CMJ 2014 lucked out, as the lineup provided such a satisfying variety befitting the festival’s spirit. Fresh off tours supporting Sylvan Esso and My Brightest Diamond, Brooklyn native Doe Paoro and her band entranced early arrivals with celestial electro soul. Australia’s Little May followed with their subdued rock sensibilities. The band had many an audience member swooning with material from their self-titled debut album. Little May’s gorgeous, resonant sound is full of husky whispers and hook-y choruses, and they played up their songs’ melancholic beauty throughout their set.
Moses Sumney took the stage next and quickly mesmerized the crowd with his velvety voice and artful looping skills. The Los Angeleno stood alone onstage and built vast choral phrases out of lilting, angelic tones and subtle beat-boxing. Sumney could sing every word in the dictionary and make it sound interesting—his voice is just that good. The 20-year-old electro rocker Elliot Moss and his band continued the night with a dynamic set of songs from Moss’s 2013 album, Highspeeds. His music is mercurial, with elements of Radiohead, James Blake and Bon Iver popping up here and there. Having successfully wooed the audience to move superclose, Moss and Co. graciously left the stage to make way for the night’s headliners.
The much-loved members of Cold War Kids meandered onto the stage as the audience roared with excitement. The band’s career has spanned nearly a decade, and the five-piece has some serious discography to show for it. From their 2006 debut record, Robbers and Cowards, to the just released Hold My Home, the band has made a big impression on their fans. The gentleman barreled through an extensive set featuring songs from all over their repertoire. Nathan Willett’s valiant vocals drove “All This Could Be Yours” and “Miracle Mile” at the top of the set. All-time favorites like “Hang Me Up to Dry” and “Hospital Beds” got the crowd howling. The guys in Cold War Kids have an astounding sense of synchronicity. They’re constantly making contact with one another, whether it’s a hand on a shoulder or an intense glance during a chorus. Their set was a spectacular burst of energy, proving that Cold War Kids aren’t losing steam. Rather, they’re louder than ever. —Schuyler Rooth
Tags: Bon Iver, CMJ Music Marathon, Cold War Kids, Doe Paoro, Elliot Moss, Highspeeds, Hold My Home, James Blake, Little May, Moses Sumney, My Brightest Diamond, Nathan Willett, radiohead, Robbers and Cowards, Rough Trade NYC, Sylvan Esso
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Mark Foster (vocals, keys and guitar) had spent time in L.A. working on commercial jingles before he teamed up with Cubbie Fink (bass) and Mark Pontius (drums) to form Foster the People in 2009. A year later the trio found success when upon posting “Pumped Up Kicks” to their site it became an online sensation—and then a smash hit across the globe—which ultimately led to festival slots and eventually getting a record deal with the Columbia Records imprint Startime International. Their first full-length, Torches (stream it below), followed in 2011. BBC Music called it “a debut of MGMT-like magic to leave you pumped up for more.” Foster the People (above, performing “Best Friend” at this years’s Glastonbury) returned earlier this year with their follow-up LP, Supermodel (stream it below). According to PopMatters, it’s “a quantum leap forward.” And furthermore, the album “is a massive surprise. It is also achingly, devastatingly beautiful…. Forward isn’t always better. But for Foster the People, on Supermodel, it was the right direction.” The band’s world tour hits New York City this weekend for a pair of weekend shows at United Palace on Friday and Saturday. French singer-songwriter Soko opens both nights.
Tags: Columbia Records, Cubbie Fink, Foster the People, Mark Foster, Mark Pontius, Preview, Soko, Startime International, Supermodel, Torches, United Palace, Video
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Courtney Barnett/San Fermin – Union Transfer – October 20, 2014
The rarely mentioned truth about live music is that it is, in essence, an exercise in predictability. From night to night, bands play the same songs with minor variations. The attitude of the crowds may influence things, but when a group plays their songs, they are working from a script, a set list of material, which, hopefully, they know well. Within that paradigm, where is the band’s enjoyment? What does the audience come to see and hear? How is live music a unique experience?
Listening to Courtney Barnett, you get the sense that whatever navel-gazing, highbrow thinking is imposed on her music, she will shrug it off and keep playing. As the lyric to her runaway radio hit, “Avant Gardender,” goes, “It’s a Monday/ It’s so mundane.” Mundane for her, maybe, but for the audience that came to see Barnett with coheadliner San Fermin last night at Union Transfer, the performance was extraordinary, necessarily so. It’s self-evident that everyone would feel something different, from the older couple sitting at the circular table wedged between the bar and a support beam to the many flannel-clad twentysomethings. As a member of the visual majority, I too could pick out the influence of the Dirty Projectors and the National on the intricate orchestral pop of San Fermin.
And in Barnett’s shrug-filled delivery, I even heard a little Dylan. But on Monday I wanted to lose myself in these performances, and for two mesmerizing hours, they offered just that, as routine magic. Midway through her set, Barnett asked, “How is everyone doing? Good, great or average?” You could take a poll, but we all know that the responses would differ. Barnett—and her band—and San Fermin are two well-paired acts, touring as a curveball-to-fastball one-two combination. It’s tricky and off-kilter, but I imagine that every night is slightly different and new. And when it comes to live music, that is what you hope for. —Jared Levy
Atmospheric-rock band Slowdive play a sold-out CMJ Music Marathon show at Terminal 5 on Saturday night. And even if you don’t already have tickets, you still might be able to go because The House List is giving away two of them. Want them to be yours? Then try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your name, full e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Slowdive, 10/25) and a brief message explaining which band you’re most excited to see at CMJ (other than this UK five-piece). Eddie Bruiser, a music-festival lover, will notify the winner by Friday.
For more than three decades the annual CMJ Music Marathon has been one of the most important outlets for shining the spotlight on new music from across the country and even around the world. The five-day (and night) festival kicks off today, which means the city’s venues—traditional and otherwise—will be jam packed with stacked lineups and fans chasing bands that might possibly become the next big thing. And, of course, The Bowery Presents has plenty of great shows, big and small:
1. Tom Vek and Olga Bell at Mercury Lounge EARLY SHOW
2. Oh Land, Walking Shapes, Corbu, Sons of an Illustrious Father at The Bowery Ballroom
3. the Crookes, Money, Spring King and Longfellow at Rough Trade NYC FREE
4. Cold War Kids, Aurora, Chief Scout, the Big P.A. at Brooklyn Bowl
5. Ming City Rockers, Made Violent, Slothrust, Børns at Mercury Lounge LATE SHOW
6. the Horrors and Moon Duo at Stage 48
1. Spookyland and Mighty Oaks at Mercury Lounge EARLY SHOW
2. Ryn Weaver, Circa Waves, Public Access T.V., Step Rockets and Sway Clarke II at The Bowery Ballroom
3. Teen Daze, Mothxr, Vérité, Carousel, Ayer and guest DJ Dart Party at Brooklyn Bowl
4. Bombay Bicycle Club, Milo Greene and Luxley at Terminal 5
5. Cold War Kids, Elliot Moss, Moses Sumney, Little May and Doe Paoro at Rough Trade NYC SOLD OUT
6. Young Magic, Saint Pepsi, Popstrangers, Dog Bite and Chandos at Mercury Lounge LATE SHOW
1. Twin Peaks, Happyness, the Wytches, Spring King and Nai Harvest at Rough Trade NYC FREE DAYTIME SHOW
2. Heat, Avid Dancer, Trixie Whitley, Cheerleader, Tor Miller, Bully and Bee Caves at Mercury Lounge EARLY SHOW
3. Beach Fossils and Small Black at Brooklyn Bowl
4. RAC, the Kooks and Speak at Terminal 5
5. the Kills, Moon Duo, Nuns and Slothrust at The Bowery Ballroom SOLD OUT
6. Moses Sumney, Adult Jazz, J. Fernandez and George Maple at Rough Trade NYC
7. the Big Sleep and Haven at Mercury Lounge FREE LATE SHOW
1. Special Guest TBA, Oscar, Pinact and September Girls FREE DAYTIME SHOW
2. Mexican Golden Girls, DMA’s, Bear’s Den, Peter Matthew Bauer, Little May, Chief Scout and Colony House at Mercury Lounge EARLY SHOW
3. Kevin Morby (full band), Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band, Twin Peaks, Springtime Carnivore, Modern Vices, Ryley Walker, Geronimo Getty and guest DJ Mondo Boys at Rough Trade NYC
1. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, the Wytches, Circa Waves, Water Liars, DMA’s, Springtime Carnivore, Public Access T.V., Spookyland, Amason, Little May, the Bright Light Social Hour and Ryley Walker at Pianos FREE DAYTIME SHOW
2. the Paperhead, Ultimate Painting, Doug Tuttle, Estrogen Highs and Negative Scanner at Rough Trade NYC FREE DAYTIME SHOW
3. Teen Commandments, Sphynx, the Ocean Blues, Wild Adriatic, Walker Lukens, Saskwatch, Pree, New Myths and No Way Josie at Mercury Lounge
4. A Place to Bury Strangers, White Fence, Moon Duo, Prince Rama, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Wampire, Young Magic, No Ningen, Spires, the Wytches and the Paperhead at Rough Trade NYC
5. DJ Dodger Stadium, Special Guest TBA, Blue Hawaii, Adult Jazz, Aurora and Casual Sex at Brooklyn Bowl
6. Slowdive and Low at Terminal 5 SOLD OUT
7. Sam Roberts Band, Water Liars, Springtime Carnivore, Dilly Dally and Knox Hamilton at The Bowery Ballroom
Phantogram – Union Transfer – October 18, 2014
What a difference four years can make. In 2010, Phantogram played Mercury Lounge to an audience of half the venue’s capacity. The duo of beat-maker Josh Carter and vocalist Sarah Barthel showed confidence then, playing songs from their excellent debut album, Eyelid Movies, complemented by art-house films in the background, but they were still feeling through the material to create an engaging live show. On Saturday night at Union Transfer, though, Phantogram looked like a band transformed, in full possession of their talents and truly deserving of the sold-out crowd’s transfixed gaze. It was a performance to enjoy in and of itself and to admire for its passion, physicality and complete beauty.
Stunning Barthel is Phantogram’s visual and emotional center. On Saturday, she wore a black leather crop top with black short shorts to match and silver bracelets running from her wrist to her elbow. Throughout the set, Barthel moved around the stage with a microphone in hand, sighing and singing her vocal parts with an intensity that soared above the group’s full-bodied sound. Two additional musicians, a live drummer and multi-instrumentalist, created floor-shaking bass and teeth-clattering kicks. Beams of strobe light flashed onto the band and crowd. Still, Barthel’s fragile voice juxtaposed against huge electronic beats is the unique success of Phantogram’s sound. It’s what kept the audience rapt until the last electronic loops cut out.
Four years later, Phantogram are famous. Their music appears in commercials and on the Hunger Games soundtrack. Their second album, Voices, released this year, reached No. 11 on the Billboard 200. And when Phantogram played their most recent single, “Fall in Love,” next to Eyelid Movies’ “When I’m Small,” 1,000 people sang along to both choruses. That’s a new phenomenon, but it’s also a consummate showing of support from Philadelphians. At the show’s end, Barthel said of Phantogram’s first ever performance, which was in Philadelphia: “Ten people showed up, but they brought it.” And with a second sold-out show on Sunday, Philly brought it again—and whenever Phantogram return, a growing and increasingly connected audience will be there. —Jared Levy
Zeus – Mercury Lounge – October 17, 2014
Sometimes we speak of a rock band being democratic, meaning that everyone in the band has a voice. But there are always degrees to this, and usually there’s a frontman rock god pulling the levers. Watching the Toronto quintet (recently grown from a foursome) Zeus bound across the stage late on Saturday night at Mercury Lounge felt like observing a true musical democracy at work (ironically despite the deity band name). Who is the lead guitarist in Zeus? Who is the lead singer? All of them and none of them. Must be a Canadian thing—their universal health care is much more universal than ours too.
Promoting their new album, Classic Zeus, and mixing in plenty of older, classic Zeus, they declared their love for New York City: “You always know how to treat a band!” The feeling was mutual. A core of die-hard fans tried their darndest to keep up with the kinetic energy onstage. There was constant motion as Zeus rocked new tunes like “Miss My Friends” with its breezy ’60s pop sound and older favorites like “Heavy on Me,” off their debut release, Say Us. This motion included gyrating and head-banging from all, particularly (mostly) bassist Carlin Nicholson, as well as song-to-song instrument switching so that everyone got their hands on the guitars, bass and electric piano without a lapse in the set’s continuously improving energy.
Zeus were even democratic in their rock clichés, mastering the good ones (share-a- microphone harmonies, two-guitar dueling solos, timely cowbell) and avoiding the bad ones. Mostly their set was superlative rock songs played by a bunch of guys having a whole lot of fun. As they out-classic-rocked classic rock with their raging “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?” everyone in the crowd was in thrall, having whole lot of fun, themselves. There is something irresistible about watching a band wear their emotions on their sleeves. In Zeus’ case the overall emotion was “hell yeah,” which seemed to be the democratic consensus of all in attendance. —A. Stein
Drive-By Truckers – Beacon Theatre – October 17, 2014
In all its majestic glory, the Beacon Theatre has a way of making rock shows feel special. As the go-to venue for any local Allman Brothers Band show (and reportedly their final one), this may hold especially true for Southern rock. It was certainly the case on Friday. Following a fantastic opening set from the Alabama soul outfit St. Paul and the Broken Bones, there wasn’t a single butt sitting in one of the venue’s seats. And it was pretty much that way for the next several hours as Drive-By Truckers performed. “Today’s one of those days where your real life exceeds the life you dreamed of,” said Patterson Hood.
Drive-By Truckers are a band that never seems to stop gaining momentum. And if these aren’t the group’s golden years, there still hasn’t been a time when they’ve had more loyal fans. Led by Hood and Mike Cooley, two songwriters who seem to keep getting better, DBT brought out everything you’d expect, leaving no stone unturned: Great songs about Southern tragedies, “Puttin’ People on the Moon” from Hood and “Uncle Frank” from Cooley, to fan favorites like “Women Without Whiskey” to deep cuts like “Runaway Train,” from Cooley and Hood’s first band, Adam’s House Cat.
Of course, there were also the rousing sing-alongs, like the one that accompanied “Hell No, I Ain’t Happy.” Hood added in an epilogue of “I’m fuckin’ happy” at the end, as if to let everyone know that the song wasn’t a real-time account. There were some epic tales of Hood family history leading into “Box of Spiders,” a song about Hood’s great grandmother, who loved going to strangers’ funerals. The night closed with “Grand Canyon,” off their latest album, English Oceans, and then one by one everyone in the band waved goodnight and exited the stage. —Dan Rickershauser
Tags: Adam’s House Ca, Beacon Theatre, Brad Morgan, Drive-By Truckers, English Oceans, Jay Gonzalez, Matt Patton, Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood, Review, St. Paul and the Broken Bones
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Passionate singer-songwriter Jake Smith (vocals and guitar) grew up listening to country music and then punk before he began writing his own songs and enthusiastically performing them live while in college in Northern California. He eventually made his way back to Southern California and began working under the name the White Buffalo, joined by the rhythm section of Tommy Andrews (bass) and Matt Lynott (drums). With songs about outsiders and rebels, plus Smith’s whiskey-tinged vocals, the L.A. trio’s own winning take on Americana has been compared to Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr. and Townes Van Zandt. Following the release of several EPs, the White Buffalo (above, doing “The Whistler” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!) made waves amongst critics and fans alike with 2012’s Once Upon a Time in the West (stream it below)—about which American Songwriter opined, “The gravity of these tracks serve as somewhat of an announcement of Smith’s arrival, and it appears he doesn’t plan on going anywhere soon”—and 2013’s Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways (stream it below)—PopMatters said it’s “an album that always seems to find the perfect note. Is it a barrel of laughs? Nope. Is it worth listening to? Definitely.” Of course, you might also recognize some of the band’s tunes from Sons of Anarchy, which is perhaps why Paste labels their music a “biker-friendly brand of folk music.” But, regardless, you can experience the White Buffalo live and in person on Sunday night at The Bowery Ballroom. Local four-piece Swear and Shake open the show.
Tags: Bowery Ballroom, Hank Williams Jr., Jake Smith, Matty Lynott, Once Upon a Time in the West, Preview, Shadows Greys & Evil Ways, Swear and Shake, Tommy Andrews, Townes Van Zandt, Video, Waylon Jennings, White Buffalo
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Following the dissolution of two other bands, Fat White Family—Lias Saudi (vocals), Saul Adamczewski (guitar and vocals), Adam Harmer (guitar), Dan Lyons (drums), Joseph Pancucci (bass) and Nathan Saudi (organ)—formed in South London in 2011, combining rock, blues and bits of country. Noisey has declared, “They’re British rock and roll’s final hurrah—not just a fuck you to everything that has become sanitized but a reminder that rock and roll can, even as the last embers fade, continue to mean something beyond an NME cover.” Speaking of which, NME calls them “the best new band in London.” The weekly publication also has kind words for the wildly entertaining six-piece’s debut full-length, Champagne Holocaust (stream it below), labeling it “a fantastic racket” and “political, satirical and downright perverse.” But make no mistake, Fat White Family (above, doing “Is It Raining in Your Mouth” at this year’s Glastonbury) are a band best experienced live, which works out great because not only are they currently touring North America, but you can also see them tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom. Comic book artist and local rocker Jeffrey Lewis opens the show.
Tags: Adam Harmer, Bowery Ballroom, Champagne Holocaust, Dan Lyons, Fat White Family, Jeffrey Lewis, Joseph Pancucci, Lias Saudi, Nathan Saudi, Preview, Saul Adamscewski, Video
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Flying Lotus – Terminal 5 – October 15, 2014
“I have come to inform you that, you’re fuckin’ dead,” said Flying Lotus last night to a sold-out Terminal 5 crowd, stated in the most matter-of-fact way possible, thus kicking off the all-senses barrage that is a Flying Lotus show. With glowing bright yellow eyes and sitting in the midst of an inverted cube bathed in shape-shifting projections, Flying Lotus provided a symphony of his own creation. Further driving home the afterlife theme, someone dressed as the Grim Reaper menaced the audience for a few songs. But those sounds were not of this world. There was bass so heavy you could not only feel it but also sort of taste it, almost as if Flying Lotus had turned an intensity dial up to 11 and then the dial broke, so he just said, “Fuck it” and left it there.
But there was also a top on this, a weird calming sense of meditative contemplation. And those two things don’t often work together. Some jazz has been able to do it, although it’s rare. But Flying Lotus is related to Coltranes, which may partially explain his mystical musical powers, but to nail it down in a different genre—electronic music—is a noteworthy innovation. Of course, the visuals were extravagant enough to make up half of the show’s overall experience. Think of Flying Lotus’s amazing album covers but always morphing. It was like a trippy three-dimensional stream constantly flowing through the stage, with a mere silhouette pushing buttons, moving dials, throwing his hands up and dancing.
For a few songs, Flying Lotus popped out of the inverted projection cube of awesome to rap a few songs as his alter ego, Captain Murphy, right into the first few rows of audience. After the set ended he returned, saying he’d see some of the crowd on Thursday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. It’s remarkable how trailblazing Flying Lotus’s sound has become, especially in an era when people are racing to find that next big thing, the last morsel of underutilized electronic sounds that could (potentially) change everything. Only recently are others catching up to FlyLo, in a rush to appropriate, integrate and collaborate with that sound he’s pioneered for years. It’s like he’s turned around to ask, “Where have y’all been?” But by the time the rest of the world finally catches up, we may all well be dead. —Dan Rickershauser
Pond – The Bowery Ballroom – October 15, 2014
Having never been there, I imagine Australia to be like a bizarro northern hemisphere— perspective is flipped, up is down, the earth spinning in the other direction. For all I know, it’s possible the arrow of time is pointing in the other direction, so a band like Pond isn’t influenced by past greats, but is somehow instead influencing classic rock’s future past. As they tore through their late set last night at The Bowery Ballroom, the Perth quintet evoked the sounds of prog and psych rock—bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Black Sabbath and even David Bowie—but made these sounds their own from an alternate universe where those bands don’t even exist yet. Maybe that doesn’t make too much sense, but these are the kinds of things that run through your head when your body and brain are being jostled around by Pond’s live set.
Things got to that place quickly, particularly with “Giant Tortoise,” off last year’s Hobo Rocket, early in the set. With pixilated stripes of primary colors jiggling on the screen behind them, Pond deftly switched gears, high then low then back to high again, propelled by Jay Watson’s superlative drumming. The guys in the band didn’t seem to take themselves too seriously at all. Guitarist and lead singer Nick Allbrook wore a dress more appropriate for a picnic date and a Justin Bieber sweatshirt that only muddled the ensemble, plus he went on a long ad-libbed bit in the middle of “Fantastic Explosion of Time” that touched on a number of topics, including the taste du jour, pumpkin spice.
The music, though, twisted expertly through multisectioned compositions, heavy two-guitar rock-outs and more prog-y interludes. The crowd pulsed with each shift and crescendo, bouncing and bumping around the Ballroom floor. “Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind” was a brilliant Pink Floyd–as-disco jam from their back catalog, while “Xanman” was pure Sabbath fist-pumping energy. As the music pulled in different directions, Pond remained tight, largely on the strength of Watson’s intense playing and focus. The set climaxed with “You Broke My Cool,” off their 2012 album, Beard, Wives, Denim, a dense double helix of psych and funk, and the closing “Midnight Mass (At the Market Street Payphone).” That last tune was pure “save the best for last,” with a long spaced-out bridge zapped with a dreamy slide-guitar riff from Joseph Ryan. Evocative and futuristic all at once, which describes Pond through and through. —A. Stein
Tags: Beard, Black Sabbath, Bowery Ballroom, David Bowie, Denim, Genesis, Hobo Rocket, Jay Watson, Joseph Ryan, Nick Allbrook, Pink Floyd, Pond, Review, Rough Trade NYC, Wives
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