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Ride – Brooklyn Steel – July 21, 2017

July 21st, 2017


Photos courtesy of Adela Loconte | adelaloconte.com

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Conor Oberst – Celebrate Brooklyn – July 20, 2017

July 21st, 2017


Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Jesse Malin and Juliana Hatfield Play The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday

July 21st, 2017

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Jesse Malin (above, performing “Meet Me at the End of the World” for Paste Studios) has been a fixture on the downtown music scene—as a bandleader and a solo artist—since the ’80s. The prolific performer’ recent release, an EP, Meet Me at the End of the World (stream it above), came out at the end of June. And on Saturday night at The Bowery Ballroom, he teams up with another singer-songwriter and guitarist with a new album, Juliana Hatfield (below, performing “I Wanna Be Your Disease” also for Paste Studios), whose Pussycat (stream it below) was inspired by last year’s presidential election: “All of these songs just started pouring out of me. And I felt an urgency to record them.” Matthew Ryan opens the show.

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Nas – Brooklyn Steel – July 19, 2017

July 20th, 2017


Photos courtesy of DeShaun Craddock | dac.photography

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PJ Harvey – SummerStage – July 19, 2017

July 20th, 2017


Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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RAQ Play Late After Phish at Mercury Lounge on Friday and Saturday

July 20th, 2017

The guys in RAQJay Burwick (bass and vocals), Chris Michetti (guitar and vocals), Todd Stoops (keys and vocals) and Scotty Zwang (drums)—formed the experimental, improvisational jam band in Burlington, Vt., at the turn of the century. They’ve been winning over fans ever since thanks to their complex song structures and quirky-yet-accessible lyrics. And with Phish kicking off 13 dates at Madison Square Garden beginning tomorrow night, RAQ (above, doing “Beauregard”) will be handling late-night duties on Friday and then again on Saturday at Mercury Lounge.

 

 

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Planetarium’s Wondrous Aural Expansion at Celebrate Brooklyn

July 19th, 2017

Planetarium – Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell – July 18, 2017


Upon reflection, I can’t say that I’ve ever before seen a concert for one album that was recomposed from original concert performances. Planetarium is this year’s grand, ambitious concept album that originated years ago when contemporary classical composer Nico Muhly was commissioned by Dutch concert hall Muziekgebouw Eindhoven to create a performance piece. With the cosmos as his muse, Muhly recruited friends and contemporaries Sufjan Stevens, the National’s Bryce Dessner and the multidimensional James McAlister to bring an ode to the universe to life. Those live performances were unearthed and reconstructed in studio and are now returning to their point of genesis as a monumental set of live renditions played in a small run of special engagements.

Last night, the unexpected quartet, backed by brass and string sections, unleashed Planetarium before an awestruck turnout at Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Special engagements call for special venues and the always enchanting Bandshell’s open natural amphitheater space, nestled among grand old trees, was the obvious home for a performance that needed the freedom to spread into the atmosphere. For this manifestation of universal magnificence here were the fearless voyagers, each a conduit of the sonic forces that merged into a glorious big bang. Their express mission was to widen scope and to inspire earthbound beings to expand perspective at all opportunities.

On this tour through the planets of our solar system, Stevens, doused in glitter to symbolize the infinitum is stars, served as the quintessential vocal guide. After floating in on piano keys from the heavens as an introduction to “Neptune,” he took a moment to welcome everyone with a few words on the significance of their musical observance of the universe. “We must remind ourselves that the universe holds an abundance of truth and purity, dignity and light … let us all remember that.” Joining Stevens, Muhly sat behind his grand piano like the captain at a spaceship’s control deck, his role to lend a limitless depth of field. McAlister, the percussive wizard, sat at his expanded drum set, gracefully keeping time in a timeless medium and adding flourishes of cymbal when needed. All the while, Dessner, armed with his trusted guitar, provided masterful manipulation of guitar strings issuing forth as a million beams of light, adding the particulate matter to the grand tapestry. In the beginning, there was sound, glorious and immeasurable—and artistically reinterpreted by this group of talented musicians, it was a singular and magical thing to behold. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly

 

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Warpaint – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 18, 2017

July 19th, 2017


Photos courtesy of Adela Loconte | adelaloconte.com

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Thurston Moore Comes Home to Play The Bowery Ballroom on Friday

July 19th, 2017

When New York City music icons Sonic Youth broke up—or at least went on hiatus—in 2011, no one really knew what to expect of the group’s members. But, fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long to find out that vocalist-guitarist Thurston Moore would remain busy, musically speaking. He’s worked with Yoko Ono and he’s done his own thing with a pair of bands, with Chelsea Light Moving and the Thurston Moore Group, alongside Deb Googe on bass, Steve Shelley on drums and James Sedwards on guitar. Moore (above, recording “Transcendent Transaction”) released Rock n Roll (stream it below) earlier this year to some considerable acclaim. The “new solo LP evokes the hippie leanings that were always at the heart of Sonic Youth,” says Pitchfork. “With some of his most joyous lyrics to date, Moore uses outer aggression to achieve inner bliss,” while Spin calls it: “His most transportive solo record yet.” Now based in London, Moore comes back home to NYC to play The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night.

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Ages and Ages Play Mercury Lounge with Skyway Man Tomorrow

July 19th, 2017

On Ages and Ages’ newest album, Something to Ruin (stream it above), the Portland, Ore., band takes upbeat and inspiring choral pop to some dark places. Oh, you know, just the collapse of Western civilization, done in by consumerism and neglect. Their music retains its uplifting openheartedness, a modern-day gospel with a progressive spirit. Ages and Ages (above, performing “As It Is” for WFUV FM) bring their communal energy—shared vocals, thoughtful melodies and an abundance of handclaps—to Mercury Lounge on Thursday. The early show will kick off with Skyway Man (below, doing “We Both Have Nothing to Fear”), the creative effort of Nashville, Tenn., singer-songwriter James Wallace. He’ll be playing music from the recently released Seen Comin’ from a Mighty Eye (stream it below), an under-the-radar sci-fi folk epic recorded with Matthew E. White in his Spacebomb Studios. The combined bill will be rife with excellent songs, some unique sounds and plenty to contemplate: past, present and future. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Conor Oberst Headlines Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park

July 18th, 2017

What a thrilling ride it’s been to watch Conor Oberst (above, performing “Tachycardia” at the Sydney Opera House) grow up. Beginning his insanely prolific singer-songwriter career, as Bright Eyes, at the ripe age of 13, Oberst’s releases have tested the limits of multiple genres (check out his politically charged punk band Desaparecidos if you need proof) all while strengthening his skills as one of the best lyricists of the past 20 years. And while it might be lazy to throw out the Dylan comparisons, hey, they both grew up in the Midwest. There must be something in the water? Oberst has put out records in the past under his own name accompanied by the Mystic Valley Band, but his 2008 eponymous album (stream it below) was truly his first solo venture. Last year’s Ruminations (stream it below) went further down that path as he stripped down his songs to their ribcages with only Oberst playing guitar, piano and the occasional harmonica. He later released a full-band companion version of that album titled Salutations with Catskill Mountains’ favorite sons the Felice Brothers acting as his backing band. Oberst and the Felice Brothers will bring songs from his entire career to the Prospect Park Bandshell on Thursday for an electrifying night of music. Philly rock royalty Hop Along and Brooklyn’s own Big Thief will open. Show up early so you don’t miss these two great bands for what will be one of the most stacked bills of the summer. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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PJ Harvey Comes to SummerStage in Central Park on Wednesday

July 17th, 2017

PJ Harvey (above, performing “The Community of Hope” live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) has a short fuse leading to a powder keg full of emotion. And for more than two decades, she’s been using this unbridled intensity to astounding effect. With such albums that have withstood the tests of time as Rid of Me (stream it below), Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (stream it below) and Let England Shake (stream it below), Harvey has as rich and rewarding of a catalog as any of her peers. These albums have all earned their right to be called classics and still sound as vibrant and ahead of their time today. Last year’s The Hope Six Demolition Project (stream it below) is no different, with some of Harvey’s most musically adventurous and politically charged material to date. She and her top-notch band will be setting the Central Park SummerStage ablaze this Wednesday with songs from her entire career. Any chance to see Harvey and her band in the flesh is a truly mesmerizing experience. This show is one you should not miss. All hail, Polly Jean Harvey. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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Hear Some of the Bands You Can See This Week

July 17th, 2017

Hear some of the bands you can see this week.

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The Cactus Blossoms Keep Mercury Lounge Cool on a Hot Night

July 13th, 2017

The Cactus Blossoms – Mercury Lounge – July 12, 2017


Honky-tonk noir anyone? Well you’re in luck because Minnesotan brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum are serving up just what you’re craving as the Cactus Blossoms. They resemble a blend of vintage sibling pairs, with the harmonies of the Everly Brothers and the bittersweet waltz of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk.” It’s not surprising that the two made their national-TV debut on the recently rebooted Twin Peaks: The Return, playing the melancholic “Mississippi” as the third-episode outro. After a string of Midwestern dates opening for Jenny Lewis, the duo returned Stateside following a quick European tour to grace Mercury Lounge with a late-night session on Thursday.

Playing to a sold-out crowd, Torrey hit the stage last apologizing for the late start as he was locked in the bathroom. Thankfully freed, the reunion produced an evening of sweet Southern charm as the Cactus Blossoms played a large portion of their debut full-length album, You’re Dreaming. The title track had the crowd soaring to the brothers’ harmonies, followed by the eerily haunting track featured on Twin Peaks. Drummer Alex Hall literally wheeled up to the stage with suitcase in hand to relieve his stand-in, Grant. Turns out Hall’s flight had been delayed 12 hours. But the consummate professionals rolled with the punches, noting that as musicians, it’s rare when things go as planned.

The Cactus Blossoms treated devoted fans to cuts from their back catalog, including the farewell tune, “Adios Maria,” which was less about a woman and more about parting with a place. After a new song, they covered the Kinks“Who’ll Be Next in Line,” paying homage to a fellow sibling pair, and dedicated “Happy Man on a Gloomy Day” to an unfortunately canceled Spain show. A previously requested “Spotlight Kisses” was happily applauded, and the country waltz of “Powder Blue” had everyone in the room swaying in delight. With the encore imminent, Torrey announced it was “too hot to rock,” instead concluding the evening with a slow one, “Travelers Paradise.” It was a fitting adieu on a steamy night. —Sharlene Chiu

 

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Woods Bring Feel-Good Music Home to The Bowery Ballroom

July 13th, 2017

Plenty of artists have, for better or worse, found inspiration in today’s headlines, much of the resulting music reflecting a dark view on the news of the day. When Woods felt compelled to enter the studio to capture the current mood, the resulting songs were much more optimistic in tone. The mini-album, Love Is Love (stream it below), recorded and released earlier this year, conveys its message in its title track. Taking their evolved sound from last year’s City Sun Eater in the River of Light (stream it below) even further, the new record is awash in pastoral psych-folk amidst upbeat jazz-funk horn fills. Woods (above, performing “Creature Comfort” in studio for KEXP FM) bring the new material and a hefty back catalog of inspired songwriting and spinout jams—and maybe some catharsis—back to The Bowery Ballroom for a Saturday night homecoming. It’ll be a family affair, with John Andrews and the Yawns (plus Cut Worms) opening. —A. Stein | @Neddyo