Search Results for: sharlene chiu


Sara Watkins Stands On Her Own at Rough Trade NYC

June 29th, 2016

Sara Watkins – Rough Trade NYC – June 8, 2016

Sara Watkins was a Grammy winner before she could legally drink. As a member of the revered band Nickel Creek, she along with brother Sean and mandolinist Chris Thile created a strong and feverish fan base that has continued to follow them each since their break back in 2006. Last year they reunited for a tour, but for the most part Watkins has remained busy playing with the Decemberists, anchoring the Watkins Family Hour with Sean, forming the girl group I’m with Her with Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan—and of course, her own solo effort.

Ahead of the release of her latest album, Young in All the Wrong Ways, Watkins hit the stage at Rough Trade NYC last night in a leopard top beneath a gold lamé jacket, opening a cappella before settling on “Miss My Kisses” and the David Garza–penned “Too Much.” Following the older pieces, Watkins offered newer material, beginning with her soon-to-be released record’s title track and the desert-inspired “Like New Year’s Day.” Watkins later took to the stage solo, armed with the mightiest of instruments, the ukulele, to enchant fans with the lullabylike “You and Me” and delighted Nickel Creek followers with the first song she ever wrote on diminutive strings, “Anthony.”

The set’s tempo quickly changed as the audience stomped and sang along to a cover of John Hartford’s “Long Hot Summer Days.” I was holding out a little hope throughout the night for some surprise guests, like her I’m with Her gals. They reunited only the night before after all. Alas, they were not there, but somehow I wasn’t disappointed because it reinforced the talent Watkins is on her own, which was punctuated by a pair from the forthcoming release, the whispery “Without a Word” and the rocking “Move Me.” A fitting fiddle piece led the encore before she hushed the crowd with the sweet “Tenderhearted.” —Sharlene Chiu

(Sara Watkins plays The Bowery Ballroom on 10/5.)




Mayer Hawthorne Woos Terminal 5 on Friday Night

June 27th, 2016

Mayer Hawthrone – Terminal 5 – June 24, 2016

Ladies, you have been warned: The smooth stylings of one Mayer Hawthorne will undoubtedly enamor you. The swoon-worthy crooner’s rise to heartthrob status came not as a member of a boy band, but as a DJ in the clubs of Detroit and Los Angeles. Despite no vocal training, fellow producer—and head of Stones Throw RecordsPeanut Butter Wolf insisted Hawthorne cut an album after hearing tracks he had produced for sampling purposes. The reluctant singer only conceded when the request for his first single to be pressed as a heart-shaped record was fulfilled. With the spring release of Man About Town, Hawthorne returned following a three-year break between studio albums.

Taking a place on a stool with his back to the crowd sipping one could only guess was “Henny & Gingerale,” the suave entertainer lifted his falsetto to open Friday evening’s show at Terminal 5 with “Breakfast in Bed.” Hawthorne quickly got down to business, explaining that with four albums, he had a lot of songs to sing so he would ease up on the banter. Hawthorne broke from his feverish song output to tell a story about hitting the beach in Malibu, Calif., which slyly gave way to sirens and a perfect intro to “Crime.” An instrumental interlude provided a moment for a wardrobe change, as Hawthorne returned donning his signature glasses and a gold blazer with matching oxfords.

After a rendition of “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’,” there was a great desire for “soul Mayer,” which the singer happily obliged, asking his band to kick it up to “James Brown–jumpsuit speed.” What proceeded was a Motown-inspired trifecta of “You Called Me,” “Hooked” and “The Ills.” In another exceptional moment near the set’s end, a cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” was cleverly mashed-up with “The Walk” and then into another cover, Brenton Wood’s “Gimme Little Sign.” It’s easy to hear the DJ’s craft on the set. For his encore, the disco ball was lit to set the appropriate scenery for “Cosmic Love,” and another outfit was revealed to the delight of female admirers. This time an open checker satin button-down was accessorized with a gold chain. Hawthorne capped off the night with a final cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” that had revelers happily flooding out into Hell’s Kitchen. —Sharlene Chiu




Mitski Brings New Music to The Bowery Ballroom

June 21st, 2016

Mitski – The Bowery Ballroom – June 20, 2016

Mitski – The Bowery Ballroom – June 20, 2016
An unlikely girl graces the cover of this month’s Brooklyn Magazine. Her name is Mitski Miyawaki and the said publication has touted her as the next big thing to take over the music world. She’s garnered a lot of fans in the press, including NPR—which offered Mitski their coveted headline slot at this year’s SXSW showcase—and NME. The singer has captured critics’ hearts with not only her deft guitar prowess but also her thoughtful, crisp lyrics. Although a nomad of sorts (she’s lived in Japan, the Republic of Congo, Turkey and China), the world traveler has called New York City home since graduating from SUNY Purchase. Fresh off the release of her fourth studio album, Puberty 2, Mitski took the stage at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom last night, donning a business-casual ensemble, consisting of a knit top and pencil skirt. She later referred to her outfit as her best attempt at a Cruel Intentions look.

Mitski blended new stuff with old pieces from her breakout album, Bury Me at Makeout Creek. Beginning with a crowd favorite, “Townie,” she quickly had the room in the palm of her hand as she introduced the newer “Thursday Girl.” The latter had her sounding a bit like an angelic Florence Welch with a guttural chorus of “Tell me no, tell me no” against drum machine–produced beats. Mitski dropped a gem with a cover of Calvin Harris’s “How Deep Is Your Love,” which she coyly stated was the only song she would sing written by a guy who makes a ton of money.

Everyone in the room sang along and swayed to single “Your Best American Girl” as the crescendoing chorus elicited the front row to head bang to the waves of riffs. With a trio of fierce screams of “Cry,” the set was punctuated with the appropriate finale song, “Fireworks.” Mitski returned solo to encore with a pair, “A Burning Hill” and “Last Words of a Shooting Star.” It’s rare when The Bowery Ballroom becomes so quiet and every person is rapt in awe. Last night was one of those rare evenings—on the summer solstice no less and during a Strawberry Moon. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Julia Berke |


Poliça Bring New Music to Sold-Out Warsaw on Saturday Night

April 25th, 2016

Poliça – Warsaw – April 23, 2016

Poliça – Warsaw – April 23, 2016
A lot can change in a year. For Channy Leaneagh and Ryan Olson of Poliça, change came both personally and professionally. Last year the couple welcomed their first child while they worked on their third studio album, United Crushers. With parenthood came matured lyrics tackling some darker subjects, from drugs to police brutality, which paint a rather bleak outlook for a newborn child. This week’s news of Prince’s passing hit the proud Minnesotan band especially close to home. From birth to death, the themes all converged on Saturday evening at a sold-out Warsaw

Drenched in heavy Auto-Tune rendering Leaneagh to a low baritone, the quartet opened with “Summer Please” and followed with more from their latest, including “Lime Habit” and “Someway.” The artwork from United Crushers provided the backdrop, while lighting was at a minimum with the exception of glowing floor lights leaving members illuminated like neon figures. Leaneagh mentioned how nice it was to play Warsaw as they are often mistaken for a Polish band. Also, who doesn’t love having a few pierogies during a show?

The exuberant crowd lit up as the jangling synths gave way to fave “Chain My Name.” The recently blonde Leaneagh weaved her hands and swayed to the basslines and multiple drumbeats—the band’s got not one but two drummers, Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu. On probably the most-mellow track, “Lately,” Leaneagh’s vocal sounded particularly ethereal and melodic. But don’t let that soft spot fool you: She proceeded to head-bang during her rendition of “Berlin” and crooned with conviction against the heavy basslines provided by Chris Bierden. An encore of “Baby Sucks” and “Amongster” happily sent off fans into the night as reverberations of the evening lingered. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of DeShaun Craddock |


Bleached Reveal a Matured Sound at Music Hall of Williamsburg

April 12th, 2016

Bleached – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 11, 2016

Growing up in California’s San Fernando Valley, sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin honed their punk-rock roots at the all-ages DIY venue the Smell. After their all-girl punk group, Mika Miko, disbanded, they resolved to continue their musical collaboration as Bleached, and for their sophomore effort, Welcome the Worms, they escaped to Joshua Tree with famed producer Joe Chiccarelli (Morrissey, the Strokes). Jennifer was recovering from a toxic relationship and Jessie had been evicted from her house. Channeling personal dysfunction, the sisters and bassist Micayla Grace crafted an emotionally charged record full of narratives about broken romances and the vapid Los Angeles scene. Although their foundation is laid firmly in garage rock, Chiccarelli’s production drew out confident melodies that harken back to the Shangri-Las.

Kicking off the week at Music Hall of Williamsburg, the Left Coasters arrived with microphone stands and drum kit adorned with daisies. The ladies rattled off a few from their recent album with the help from touring drummer Nick Pillot. The night was in full throttle with “Keep On Keepin’ On,” while Jen needed to do little coaxing for the crowd to dance along to the thrashing “Sleepwalking.” Stalwart fans were rewarded with oldie but goodie “Searching Through the Past” and the distortion-heavy B-side “Electric Chair.” As if digging into their catalog weren’t enough, the girls covered the Ramones“Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World” in true punk-rock fashion.

There’s a resemblance to fellow Californians Best Coast on “Think of You,” but listening to new material like “Sour Candy,” their sound has matured under Chiccarelli’s guidance. There’s no doubt the ladies have stage presence. As Pillot jumped in for a crowd-surfing session, Jen didn’t skip a beat, taking over on the drums for set-closer “Dead in Your Head.” To fully culminate the evening, Zoe Reign, lead singer of the opener, No Parents, joined Bleached for an encore, in which they covered the classic Misfits horror-punk jam, “Hybrid Moments.” —Sharlene Chiu


Empress Of Comes Home and Sells Out The Bowery Ballroom

March 28th, 2016

Empress Of – The Bowery Ballroom – March 25, 2016

Songstress Lorely Rodriguez, aka Empress Of, grew up in California but now calls New York City her home. After a successful SXSW the week before, the local lady returned to play a homecoming of sorts at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom on Friday night. (She’d already played a rooftop gig at Milk Studios for a Googleplay event the night before.) It’s a far cry from my first encounter of her, opening for Jamie Liddell at Music Hall of Williamsburg almost three years ago. She caught my ear then and I’ve been dutifully following her ever since for good reason. Last year Empress Of released her full-length debut, Me, which she played from extensively on Friday night. Although Rodriguez opened with an oldie, “Realize You,” before settling into her current material, like the bumpin’ “Water Water” and the kinetic “Threat,” while getting showered with strobe lights.

Aside from the intimate show on Thursday night, Rodriguez professed that she hadn’t performed in New York City since her album’s release. Thankful for the turnout, she mused about how much has changed and exclaimed she’d been to Australia for the first time. Regardless of new or older material, fans bounced to the infectious rhythms. Empress Of’s first solo single, “Woman Is a Word,” dropped last week to praise from Stereogum, describing it as “a wispy, propulsive synthpop jam.” Compared to the slightly dated “Tristeza,” the synths and wispy quality are still at the core beneath Spanish and English lyrics delivered in high-octave vocals.

Empress Of gushed that it was an “honor and privilege” to do what she does after rousing applause for “How Do You Do It.” Although there wasn’t a reunion with Dev Hynes (he was otherwise occupied at Terminal 5) on the encore number, “Icon,” everyone in the crowd up in the balcony didn’t mind as they raged in their perch singing along word for word. Ms. Rodriguez already has several projects up her sleeve from a Darkstar collab on “Reformer”—in which her sultry vocals brighten an ominous track—to an upcoming spring European tour. There’s nothing stopping this already rising star. —Sharlene Chiu


Honne Thrill Sold-Out Bowery Ballroom with Cool Electric Soul

March 14th, 2016

Honne – The Bowery Ballroom – March 11, 2016

Hailing from across the pond, first-name-only Brits James and Andy, better known as Honne, produce amazing soul-infused electronic grooves. When asked to describe their genre-blending music to the Telegraph, they answered, “warm and sensual, late-night vibes, serious baby-making sounds.” Folks, you’ve been warned. Andy’s voice delivers the heavy soul, and sidekick James lays down the keys. Earlier this year, the duo released the EP Gone Are the Days, building upon previous songs as the title track was featured on their previous release, Coastal Love. With new material tucked into their silky pockets, the mates landed upon a sold-out Bowery Ballroom on Friday night.

A radio sample opened the evening as the pair hit the stage joined by a full band for crowd fave “Warm on a Cold Night.” Andy greeted New Yorkers and noted that it was their second time in our fair city. The two soon had the room grooving with callouts to join in and sing on “Top to Toe,” with the disco ball activated for maximum ambience. As if that weren’t enough, the singer stripped off his jacket for a cover of Darondo’s “Didn’t I,” eliciting a barrage of female screams. When the chorus “On this New York City coast” from “Coastal Love” chimed through, more cheers erupted across the packed venue where folks overflowed the balconies as the retro ’80s industrial drum-and-bass stylings reverberated. Honne premiered a new track, “Someone That Loves You,” which they dedicated to a mysterious Ricardo, who has been having a rough time, before closing the set with the clap-inducing title track.

Not to let the boys off the hook so quickly, uproarious applause called them back and had Andy proclaiming, “You guys are officially the best!” Repaying the adulation, some deep classic soul was thrown down with “3am,” and James punctuating the evening by donning the electric guitar on “All in the Value.” I’m not sayin’—I’m just sayin’—people leaving that show could be getting frisky ’til 3 o’clock in the morning off that musical high. —Sharlene Chiu


Best Coast and Wavves Heat Up Terminal 5 on a Cold Night

February 19th, 2016

Best Coast and Wavves – Terminal 5 – February 18, 2016

Best Coast – Terminal 5 – February 18, 2016
The duo of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno have been making music as Best Coast since 2009. Their brand of sunny California rock has provided the soundtrack to many outdoor festivals and has even served as the perfect teenage angst soundtrack for MTV’s Awkward. Cosentino’s knack for penning hazy, confessional lyrics endures with both the young and old. On their recent release, California Nights, the pair don’t divert too much from their first two LPs as familiar songwriting and garage-rock chords ring true. Toting along fellow Californians Wavves to coheadline the appropriately named Summer Is Forever II tour, the West Coast pair hit Terminal 5 Thursday night to thaw out a frozen New York City crowd.

Taking the stage in a sparkly, black one piece, Cosentino barreled into “When I’m with You” and followed it with the clap friendly “Crazy for You.” The crowd was especially primed as Wavves provided a rollicking set, enticing several crowd surfers and mini mosh pits across the venue’s vast floor. A bouquet of flowers even made its way to the singer as she sang “Heaven Sent,” from their last release. Pulling largely from their debut and recent albums, Cosentino commented on how they had not played a New York City show in quite some time and reminisced about the last gig at the venue, citing the memory of legs dangling from the balconies.

The slow jam “Dreaming My Life Away,” which Cosentino chimed was “a catch your breath” moment, settled down the atmosphere. And for this California gal, “The Only Place” made me question why I moved cross-country as my face froze over the weekend, while my Left Coast family members were basking in the rays. Continuing the sunny tunes, fan-fave “Boyfriend” included flowers being chucked into an endless sea of admirers, confirming that all the lads in the house would gladly be Ms. Cosentino’s beau—too bad she’s already taken by the lead singer of Wavves, Nathan Williams. She and her band gushed, “I don’t know what we did to deserve this, but you’ve spoiled us for this tour.” The mutual admiration concluded with an encore of “Bratty-B,” which ended with a repeated chorus of “I miss you” and Bruno shredding his guitar to add the extra punctuation to the evening. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Mina K


Torres Celebrates Her Birthday Early at The Bowery Ballroom

January 22nd, 2016

Torres – The Bowery Ballroom – January21, 2016

Mackenzie Scott, better known as Torres, was brought up in Georgia as a Baptist and attended a Christian university. During that time, she recorded her first album, Torres. Scott then traveled to England to compose her sophomore full-length, Sprinter, the lyrics drenched in her religious upbringing. It’s exactly this openness that entices listeners to Scott’s haunting yet powerful voice. Torres’s bare, emotional pang harkens to singers like Sharon Van Etten (whom she’s opened for) and Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee). She wrote on her Tumblr, “Playing my favorite room in NYC, The Bowery Ballroom, two days before I turn 25. I am, to borrow the colloquialism, pumped.” So last night, Scott took to the stage of her choice venue, which she sold out, for an early birthday party.

Clad in white, Torres and her band opened with “Mother Earth, Father God,” from her self-titled debut. Apart from a two-year difference, the lyrics “In January I will just be 23” rang especially true on “New Skin.” Scott proceeded to hit her most recent catalog of songs from the pulsating, bass-heavy “Cowboy Guilt” to the crowd favorite “Sprinter.” The singer-songwriter seamlessly moved from heavy rock to hushed lullabylike coos. After a quick guitar change, delicate strums for a solo on “Strange Hellos” quickly blossomed into some serious shredding, causing the audience to erupt in applause. Torres couldn’t help but note that this was her favorite show and a homecoming of sorts making the evening extra special. A few fans punctuated the occasion with birthday wishes. Scott closed her set with “The Harshest Light” before returning to encore with an oldie but goodie, “November Baby.” Here’s to a most happy birthday, Ms. Scott. —Sharlene Chiu




Cœur de Pirate Entertains in English and French at Music Hall

October 23rd, 2015

Cœur de Pirate – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 22, 2015

Born in Quebec, Béatrice Martin, better known by her stage name Cœur de Pirate, sings largely in French. And her classical training on piano serves as the backbone to her compositions. Although simple, Cœur de Pirate’s delicate vocals are a beautiful soundtrack for a lazy afternoon. After signing in the summer with Cherrytree and Interscope, her latest album, Roses, offers more English songs paired with her usual French reveries. Martin resembles a young Brigitte Bardot sans gap in her teeth.

The Québécois sat behind a piano at Music Hall of Williamsburg last night moving largely through her latest release. In a black tent dress that fully displayed her tattoo sleeves, Cœur de Pirate began with “Oceans Brawl” and “Undone.” She mentioned it would be a bilingual show with songs in French and jokes in English with no guarantees that the latter would be funny. Breezily drifting from English to French, the chanteuse described “Saint-Laurent” as a song about waiting at a bar for a Tinder date, only cuter because it was in French.

As her band received a mini-break, Martin played solo on fan favorite “Francis” and a slowed-down, sad cover of fellow Canadian Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” When not on piano, Cœur de Pirate’s arms and hands gesticulated as if casting a spell on the audience. In a sweet moment, Martin explained that “The Way Back Home” was written for her daughter to combat some woeful goodbyes when she would have to depart for a tour. The charming songwriter encored with a pair including “Comme des Enfants,” which she revealed was taught in schools along with classics like “Frère Jacques,” and the first single off her latest release, “Carry On.” Merci beaucoup, Cœur de Pirate.
—Sharlene Chiu



Tove Lo Concludes American Tour at Terminal 5

October 22nd, 2015

Tove Lo – Terminal 5 – October 21, 2015

Tove Lo - Terminal 5 - October 21, 2015
The Swedes have a tradition of crafting infectious pop, from ABBA to Ace of Base to Robyn. And who hasn’t heard of pop-producer extraordinaire, Max Martin? Tove Lo is no different from her countrymen, having penned Top 40 hits, like her own “Habits (Stay High),” Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” and Hilary Duff’s “Sparks.” Lo reverts to darker material when writing her own material, which sets the singer-songwriter apart from the current pop princesses. Her appearance also shies away from the stereotypical Swedish blonde-haired, blue-eyes for a dark brunette. Lo’s outfits are pulled straight from the ’90s, complete with Cheap Mondays and Doc Martens.

Wearing a jumpsuit and fingerless gloves, last night Lo descended upon a sold-out Terminal 5 to close out her American tour. The barefoot performer opened with crowd favorite “Not on Drugs” and quickly commanded those in the audience to point their fingers in the air for “The Way That I Am.” Following a rousing rendition of her latest single, “Moments,” Lo shared how she had been at Terminal 5 three years ago for a show by her friends Icona Pop and dreamed about how awesome it would be to play that stage.

Her wishes were granted on Wednesday night, and Lo heartily thanked all in attendance for making those dreams come true. The singer turned up the sexy with “My Gun” and “Like Em Young” before switching to a song of heartbreak, “Over.” After a very brief musical intermission, Lo returned donning a studded motorcycle jacket, tights and Doc Martens. She resembled a naughty Leighton Meester gyrating back and forth across the stage. Adding to the salaciousness, the songstress stripped off her jacket to reveal some serious side boob and further punctuated “Talking Body” with a quick flash of her bosom as the chorus climaxed. Lo saved the best for last, ending her encore with her breakout single, “Habits (Stay High).” —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Dana (distortion) Yavin |


Matt Nathanson Takes Rough Trade NYC for a Spin

October 7th, 2015

Matt Nathanson – Rough Trade NYC – October 6, 2015

Music can encapsulate moments in time, and Matt Nathanson reminds me of my early adult life in San Francisco. I first discovered him more than a decade ago opening for Jewel during a holiday radio gig and started following him as he played local coffee shops to headlining various venues around town. What struck me most about his performances was his witty repartee with audience members and his ability to woo a room with his charms. That charm has landed him on bills alongside Kelly Clarkson, Train and Michael Franti. Furthermore, his folk pop has seeped into several television shows, from NCIS to The Vampire Diaries, not to mention his cover of James’ “Laid” for the American Wedding soundtrack. Nathanson released his ninth studio album, Show Me Your Fangs, last week and graced his local fans with a sold-out appearance at Rough Trade NYC last night.

In an acoustic affair, the affable singer and his sidekick guitarist Aaron Tap took the stage alongside a large wheel bearing a slew of song titles from the Nathanson catalog. Drawing me in quickly with nostalgia, the first song, “Kinks Shirt,” referenced a gal strolling in the City by the Bay. The evening was a good blend of new material and oldies from way, way back in the day. In fact, one of the oldest tracks, “New Coats and New Hats,” was a result of the first spin of the wheel. An unforgiving dealer of songs and a contentious item throughout the evening, the wheel only seemed to incite more requests. Compromises were made, like when the pointer stopped at “Modern Love” although one peg over would have suggested “Bent.” Nathanson found a happy medium playing both and threw in a little interlude into Counting Crows’ “Anna Begins” for the latter. A fan suggested a mashup of all his songs, but the singer-songwriter quickly demonstrated why it would be a bad idea, ad-libbing themes from sadness to not letting go, boarding school and years of therapy.

Although the audience wasn’t especially cognizant, Nathanson delivered a fitting cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York.” Continuing with the wheel madness, a fan hopped onstage to spin and pose à la Vanna White when it landed on another from the archives, “Amazing Again,” which had Nathanson reaching for his 12-string. He couldn’t help but rig the wheel to hit on “Answering Machine,” a much-requested song on the inception of a circular component of the tour. Nearing an almost-two-hour set, the remainder of the evening featured newer tracks, including “Giants,” “Washington State Fight Song” and the growing fan favorite “Bill Murray.” The man of the hour was deeply touched that his fans would yell and scream so passionately for his catalog. Unable to play everyone’s desired tunes, he was apologetic but certainly didn’t leave anyone unhappy. —Sharlene Chiu



Lewis Del Mar Deliver in their Debut Show at Mercury Lounge

September 22nd, 2015

Lewis Del Mar – Mercury Lounge – September 21, 2015

The little known, but soon to make a splash Lewis Del Mar are locally based in Rockaway Beach, Queens. They’ve written, recorded and produced all of their songs from their bedroom in a bungalow down the street from the ocean. Influenced by the city, the beach and Latin America (a region they share familial ties to), their music has been compared to alt-J’s and Foals’ for the varying quality that fluctuates between simple to complex compositions. With shout-outs from the New York Times over the weekend, LDM debuted at a nearly sold-out Mercury Lounge on Monday night.

Against a backdrop of the band’s signature red and gold lines against a cityscape, the quintet opened with “Memories,” a track that’s already hit KCRW FM in Los Angeles and been spun by Zane Lowe on Beats 1. For a band with only two singles, Lewis Del Mar have garnered some serious attention from the right folks. The rest of last night’s set was an unveiling of what else they had up their sleeve, and beats were core to the band.

Bits of reggaeton and good ol’ rock infused the rest of the set. Drenched in back light for “Islands,” the simple guitars chords were supported with stomping tenor. Saving the best for last, “Loud(y)” newly baptized fans as they danced to the blips and beats. It’s not hard to see why NME were first to publish praise for the genre-blending track. For those lucky to witness Lewis Del Mar’s first show, they could say, “I saw them when.” So to answer NYT’s “it remains to be seen whether the group can conjure its high-wire act in a live setting,” it has been witnessed, and for the elated gang at Mercury Lounge it was a resounding yes. —Sharlene Chiu


Holly Miranda Doesn’t Need an Encore at the Late Show

September 21st, 2015

Holly Miranda – Mercury Lounge – September 18, 2015

In a wide community of transplanted musicians to Brooklyn, Holly Miranda has carved her own storyline. As a fledgling 16 year old, Miranda moved from Detroit to Kings County and played cafes and coffeehouses throughout the city. In true indie fashion, she has recorded several albums through a variety of channels—self-releasing, crowd-sourced and eventually one worldwide release, The Magician’s Private Library. Five years since her global introduction, her latest, Days Are Shorter, Nights Are Longer, has the singer-songwriter returning in fine form following a successful writing trip in Joshua Tree. Pitchfork noted the album “feels both disarmingly intimate and broadly universal, and Miranda’s voice—fragile and fearless in equal measure—mesmerizes even when the lyrics veer toward nondescript platitudes.”

Donning pigtails and a cap, Miranda took the stage at Mercury Lounge just before midnight on Friday evening. Playing largely from her latest album, she began the set with “Mark My Words” and “Desert Call.” The singer asked the crowd, “Are you OK?” before admitting she was “pretty fucking drunk.” Despite her state, one could hear the haunting vocals and anguish in her lyrics, which have been noticed by the likes of Kanye West and Trent Reznor. The energy picked up on the rollicking “All I Want Is to Be Your Girl” as a group of fanboys feverishly danced up front. Switching to the piano, Miranda fussed with the chair before rebooting “Come On.” In an odd but playful moment, the performer explained that she’d received a bucket of garlic from a fan in D.C. and concluded that she had to toss the bulbs into the crowd.

After a few more song restarts, Miranda complained that this is what happens when you play a late show. The effects of too many preshow Negronis did not seem to take away from her lively cover of Morphine’s “Mary Won’t You Call My Name.”  She admitted that the set would not be her best show but could be good, which explains why she wanted to get songs right after false starts. It was especially telling on the torch ballad “Everlasting,” as Miranda achingly strained to a trickle, emoting the hills and valleys of heartbreak. The late evening was punctuated with an uplifting rendition of TLC’s “Waterfalls,” complete with the singer’s rapping skills on full display. No encore was needed. It was late and Miranda deserved a good sleep. —Sharlene Chiu


Surf’s Up with La Luz at The Bowery Ballroom

August 31st, 2015

La Luz – The Bowery Ballroom – August 29, 2015

As the tail end of the summer is upon us, the Seattle-based surf-rock outfit La Luz rolled into New York City with their latest album, Weirdo Shrine, produced by Ty Segall. The gals’ sound harkens back to ’50s and ’60s doo-wop groups—like the Shangri-La’s and the Shirelles—distorted against fuzzy guitars. The perfect soundtrack for end-of-summer lazing around the beach or a backyard BBQ. It’s well told that the group had a near-fatal car collision on the highway while touring in 2013. That experience seems to have darkened their music a bit, and no doubt Segall’s production amplified its resonance. The quartet hit the deck of The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night and launched beach balls into the crowd before commencing with a pair from their recent effort, “Sleep Till They Die” and “You Disappear.” With keyboardist Alice Sandahl and bassist Lena Simon harmonizing with lead Shana Cleveland, “Call Me in the Day” was a perfect shoop-shoop ditty that had onlookers bobbing along to the sway of their lilting voices.

In honor of the supermoon, Cleveland howled several times and later conferred with her bandmates to note the momentous celestial phenomenon with something special. In true Seattle rock tradition, the frontwoman requested the audience to form a crowd-surfing line as several fashionistas took turns going down the runway. The evening continued with choice tunes, as Simon’s bass opened “With Davey” and a trail of ooo-wahs soothed on “Damp Face.” A request to activate the disco ball on the morose lullaby “What Good Am I” wasn’t granted, however the virtual supermoon for the evening illuminated the night. Playing new material, Cleveland noted “Believe My Eyes” was a recent release on a split 7″ with openers Scully. Along with the lunar event, Simon paid homage to Michael Jackson’s birthday with the first few basslines of “Billie Jean.” Folks were hoping for a cover but instead were offered fave “Big Big Blood.” The ladies happily returned for an encore of “Clear Night Sky” and “Brainwash.” The yelps on the last song punctuated the evening’s close, leaving nothing more to be desired except maybe some sand and surf. —Sharlene Chiu