Search Results for: sharlene chiu

cat_reviews

Metric Play Intimate Hometown Show at Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 30th, 2016

Metric – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 29, 2016

12360136_10153372505829370_8175766526495732104_n
Before the 21st century, a musical collective out of Toronto formed by the name of Broken Social Scene and spawned such acts as Feist, Stars and Metric. The environment was a supportive one, nurturing a space where each band could thrive. The founding duo of Metric, Emily Haines and James Shaw, moved to New York City in the late ’90s and recorded early demos that would provide material for their first studio album. Fast-forward a decade and some change, the indie-rock band released a sixth studio album, Pagans in Vegas, last fall. And last night they returned to Brooklyn for a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg show as part of the Steve Madden Music series.

Fashioning a black cap, the lead singer took center stage kicking off the evening with a rousing rendition of “Speed the Collapse,” followed by the up-tempo “Youth Without Youth” as guitarist Ward added Auto-Tuned choruses. Haines had a few wardrobe changes, with the most notable being a luminescent cape that glowed against the black lights. (Added kudos to the lighting tech for her mastery of the syncopation of pulsating white shocks to several songs.) For crowd favorite “Dead Disco,” Haines turned up the showmanship, thrusting her fist and engaging the crowd from right to left. Bassist Joshua Winstead drove in the throbbing introduction to “Front Row,” as Haines took over with her melodic chants of “Burned out stars they shine so bright.”

The frontwoman noted that it was a hometown show for the band and great to “rekindle memories of North 6th.” A lot has changed since Haines and Ward moved here and shared a Williamsburg loft with soon-to-be members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars and TV on the Radio. As the singer stripped down “Combat Baby” to a shortened a cappella interlude, I couldn’t help but relate the lyrics to a recent presidential candidate’s resilience. Following up that with “Gold Guns Girls” seemed to emphasize the formation further with Haines donning a guitar to jam with Winstead and Shaw, who closed out the song with an electrifying solo. The evening came to a close with singer and guitarist paired for a stripped-down “Gimme Sympathy,” before Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key rejoined the band for the finale, “Breathing Underwater.” —Sharlene Chiu

cat_preview

Foals Hold Court Uptown at United Palace on Friday Night

November 7th, 2016

Foals – United Palace – November 4, 2016

Foals - United Palace - November 4, 2016<

Amongst a wave of British alternative bands that have made it in the States, Foals have broken out of a traditional narrative. PopMatters described the group’s transformation best: “Ten years ago, Foals could have likely been classified as an indie-rock group, but now they’re an archetypal case of indies going mainstream. The hip haircuts and clean guitar leads belie the fundamental radio-rock aesthetic in which Foals purvey.” Touring in support of their recent release, What Went Down, the lads headed way uptown to the United Palace to unleash on a packed house on Friday night.

In the ornate venue, strobe lights marked the band’s entrance as they jammed through an opening prelude. Frontman Yannis Philippakis provided a hearty greeting before delivering the guttural “Snake Oil,” which was accompanied by drummer Jack Bevan’s heavy beats. The first wave of collective handclaps began with “Olympic Airways,” but the cadence of striking hands continued throughout the evening, with very few attendees remaining in their seats. The anthemic call of crowd favorite “My Number” had the audience chanting, “You don’t have my number,” while the hypnotic “Give It All” reset the room.

An array of pink, blue and streaming bright white lights bathed the United Palace’s carved walls full of exotic places and creatures. Rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith quickly slayed the opening chords of “Mountain at My Gates,” bringing everyone back to some heavy rock. The performance ebbed and flowed as the melodic opening of a crashing wave gave way to the lull of “Spanish Sahara.” Philippakis, in true form, hurled into the first few rows for the encore, “What Went Down,” his faithful fans holding him up as if he were walking over them. He and Foals truly ruled over the palace on Friday night. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Pip Cowley | pipcowleyshoots.com

cat_preview

Local Natives Make a Triumphant Return to Terminal 5

October 26th, 2016

Local Natives – Terminal 5 – October 25, 2016

Local Natives – Terminal 5 – October 25, 2016

(Local Natives play Terminal 5 again tonight.)

It’s been close to seven years since Gorilla Manor stamped Local Natives’ name into the indie-rock stratosphere with comparisons to Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire. Earlier this fall, they returned with their third studio full-length, Sunlit Youth. And as with previous albums, the songwriting was honed by the original trio of guitarist Taylor Rice, guitarist-keyboardist Kelcey Ayer and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Hahn, but drummer Matt Frazier and bassist Nik Ewing also brought forward ideas. What formed was the cohesive record they featured at their show on Tuesday, the first of two nights at Terminal 5.

Rice, rocking a man bun, crooned on “Past Lives”—off the band’s latest—and the crowd really erupted for old fave “Wide Eyes,” the core trio’s vocals harmonizing in unison. Noting how long it had been since they’d been back in New York City, the band reminisced about their first local show at Pianos in 2009. Fans were starved for the West Coasters and Local Natives delivered, including past gem “Airplanes” as the room chanted the telling lyrics “I want you back.” Adding to the treasure trove, they dusted off “Camera Talk,” about which Rice confessed they “haven’t played in years.”

Although Nina Persson (the Cardigans) recorded “Dark Days” with the quintet, opener Charlotte Day Wilson happily filled in for her. Ayer and Rice remained alone onstage each haloed by a spotlight as they traded verses on the heartbreaking “Columbia.” With two weeks until Election Day, Rice offered hope in the midst of the chaos and encouraged attendees to vote, a perfect setup for “Fountain of Youth” and the uproarious cheers for the lyrics “I have waited so long, Mrs. President.” The evening concluded with the unraveling of Rice’s hair and a final descent into the crowd for “Sun Hands.” —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Mina J

cat_preview

Explosions in the Sky Electrify Terminal 5

September 23rd, 2016

Explosions in the Sky – Terminal 5 – September 22, 2016

Explosions in the Sky – Terminal 5 – September 22, 2016
Texas band Explosions in the Sky are masters of for providing the soundtrack for pivotal moments in film and television. They are most commonly associated with Friday Night Lights, both the film and the television series, but their music also has graced documentaries, video game promos and a slew of major motion pictures. With their seventh studio album, The Wilderness, a departure from scoring TV and film has afforded the music to sit on its own without football victories or dramatic human narratives to cast scenes. The songs remain empty vessels for listeners to create memories rather than fabricated ones from celluloid. For this instrumental band, the live orchestrations truly take flight in any venue, but it was especially vibrant last night at a sold-out Terminal 5.

What could be described as one of their mellower songs, the title track from their latest opened the evening against an intro of melodic keys. The stage setup was sandwiched between floodlights toward the back and strobe lights in the front, which swayed throughout the performance. Blue streams of lights bathed the quintet as the percolating sound of effects of “The Ecstatics” demonstrated an almost waterfall-like feeling, and laser-like red beams replicated acid rain for “Greet Death.” The performance teetered between harmony and chaos, where lighting was the sixth man of the band. Pulsating floor lights exclaimed the crescendo that welcomed “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept,” and fittingly a prism wall of light highlighted “Colors in Space.” The group saved the best for last offering crowd favorite “Your Hand in Mine” followed by the noisy “Disintegration Anxiety,” before ending with “The Only Moment We Were Alone,” as the shredding of guitars came to an abrupt halt timed perfectly to a cloak of darkness. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Brian C. Reilly | www.briancreilly.com

cat_reviews

Rocky Votolato Celebrates Anniversary at Mercury Lounge on Friday

September 19th, 2016

Rocky Votolato – Mercury Lounge – September 16, 2016

live-music-rocky-votolato-makers-10-year-anniversary-tour-16-september-new-york_img-804080
Perhaps unknown to some, Rocky Votolato has been making music for more than 15 years. He honed his craft in the Pacific Northwest during an era when punk and indie-folk artists collided in a musical hotbed. He found a delicate balance between both, collaborating with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie and Pedro the Lion. His seminal album, Makers, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and fittingly the singer embarked on a tour to perform it in its entirety. Friday night at Mercury Lounge, Votolato’s faithful fans were quickly treated to longtime favorite “Portland Is Leaving” as the flood of nostalgia encased the room.

It’s a different show when everyone comes for an artist who’s left an indelible mark on their memories. A perfect example of this lasting impression was the dedication of “White Daisy Passing” to Tony, a fan who had shared the story of how the song accompanied him while he had been traveling years ago after a loved one had passed. Votolato joked that he wasn’t in the music business for fame or riches. He has neither, but in seriousness, the value was the family and community he has built with his songs.

Formerly a “one-man wolf pack,” Votolato is joined by guitarist and lap-steel player Matt Batey, a drummer and a bassist for this celebratory tour. The normally intimate tracks sounded bigger thanks to the musical additions—and even a sampled drum effect was afforded for “Where We Left Off.” Oh, how times have changed! Votolato remarked on how 10 years ago he had flown to New York City upon Makers’ release to open for Nada Surf at Mercury Lounge. He also added that the title track was written here and was inspired by an Allen Ginsberg poem. After covering the full album, the Left Coaster added older material from Suicide Medicine, plus “Boxcutter,” off his latest, Hospital Handshakes. The cozy venue offered little escape for Votolato, who encored with a pair of songs, including “Montana,” leaving no fan unsatisfied. —Sharlene Chiu

cat_reviews

Jenny Lewis Celebrates a Tenth Anniversary in Style

September 15th, 2016

Jenny Lewis – Capitol Theatre – September 14, 2016

45-exl
More than a decade ago in San Francisco, I patiently perched in a stairwell awaiting the live debut of Ms. Jenny Lewis’s initial solo effort, Rabbit Fur Coat. Sure I grew up watching Troop Beverly Hills, but what fascinated me was how she seamlessly dipped in and out of formidable bands like Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes and the Postal Service. Lewis always has been a thoughtful songwriter and it especially showed in her time with Rilo Kiley, however this next step pushed the singer into a career all her own. She and her backup singers, the Watson Twins, were late due to traffic but well worth the wait as they glided down the aisle holding candles to approach the stage—it was an unforgettable show in an intimate 250-seat venue. When word got out that the trio would take out the record for a 10th-anniversary spin, I had to be there. Previously selling out two Beacon Theatre shows last winter, Lewis returned with the twins to play Capitol Theatre last night.

The trio, donning the dresses from the album cover, entered stage right singing in harmony to open with “Run Devil Run,” candles in their hands just as they had years prior. The room was flooded with nostalgia as they played Rabbit Fur Coat in its entirety with a full band. Gems included lap-steel accompaniment on “Happy” and Lewis returning post-wardrobe change to croon the title track in a black embroidered jumpsuit complete with fringe. Although missing the backing vocals of M. Ward and Ben Gibbard, “Handle with Care” fleshed out the classic cover with additional guitar. The petite singer added a heavy dose of electric organ on “Born Secular” to fill the room, but it was her soaring vocals that sent chills to fans’ hearts.

After a brief intermission, Lewis emerged to play largely from her latest album, The Voyager. A gentleman politely asked if it was OK to stand for “Just One of the Guys” and was soon joined by another man. The catalog was broken by a cover of the Shirelles“I Met Him on a Sunday,” performed a cappella by the trio. But the real treat was a deep dive into the Rilo Kiley days for the soul-infused “I Never,” which Lewis dedicated to the Cap’s most frequent artist, Phil Lesh. The oldie was paired amongst her most recent work with New York City band NAF (Nice as Fuck), on “Door.” Dueling guitar solos concluded the evening on the crowd pleasing “She’s Not Me,” and there was no doubt that 10 years later, the storied album holds up. —Sharlene Chiu

cat_reviews

Passenger Previews New Material with Intimate Performance at Roulette

August 5th, 2016

Passenger – Roulette – August 4, 2016

31-atxl1
Hailing from the Blighty seaside town of Brighton, Mike Rosenberg was born to be a singer-songwriter. Not finishing school, he spent a few years busking in England and Australia. And although his band broke up seven years ago, he continues to perform under the name Passenger. Vividly heartbreaking lyrics anchored his breakout song, “Let Her Go,” catapulting him into worldwide fame in 2012. For his upcoming fall release, Young as the Morning Old as the Sea, the Brit traveled to New Zealand to record in Neil Finn’s studio. Rosenberg was inspired by the vast landscape—and Iceland—which inspired tales of relationships and passing time. To preview his latest material, Rosenberg chose to play select intimate venues ahead of the release, and on Thursday evening at Roulette in Brooklyn, the storyteller graced a sold-out crowd. He mentioned that when his career began, he wanted to play a big venue, but now it was a treat to play a smaller one and that it was refreshing to return to a setting where people weren’t just there to hear that one hit.

Fans were feverish from the moment Rosenberg stepped onstage, opening with two from his forthcoming album, “The Long Road” and the title track. The latter elicited cheers for the ad-libbed lyric “I wanna feel a New York winter.” Throughout the performance, the audience was rapt in awe with just the creaking of the floorboards and an occasional cough competing with Rosenberg’s lilting voice. A ringing cell phone was quickly chided, and folks outside the hall echoing into the venue were greeted with a rousing “SHUT UP!” The former busker thankfully declared, “You’ve got my back.” Indeed they did. Infusing another New York City reference, he told the story of his struggle to quit smoking and encountering a man with lung cancer, which inspired “Riding to New York.”

Halfway into the set, participation was brimming as people joined in to sing “I Hate,” which delighted Rosenberg. Sadly, not everyone recognized his sly interlude of the Game of Thrones theme before he barreled into the breakout single, “Let Her Go.” To woo the singer back for an encore, fans erupted with the chorus from “Scare Away the Dark.” He did return to treat his most loyal followers with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and fan favorite “Holes.” Needless to say, when Passenger returns in the spring to play the Beacon Theatre, a good number of last night’s audience members will be in attendance. —Sharlene Chiu

(Passenger plays the Beacon Theatre on 3/11.)

 

cat_reviews

Sara Watkins Stands On Her Own at Rough Trade NYC

June 29th, 2016

Sara Watkins – Rough Trade NYC – June 8, 2016

Sara-Watkins
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.)

 

 

cat_reviews

Mayer Hawthorne Woos Terminal 5 on Friday Night

June 27th, 2016

Mayer Hawthrone – Terminal 5 – June 24, 2016

mayerhawthorne
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

 

 

cat_preview

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 | juliaberkephoto.com

cat_preview

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 | dac.photography

cat_reviews

Bleached Reveal a Matured Sound at Music Hall of Williamsburg

April 12th, 2016

Bleached – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 11, 2016

12471348_959204584127145_6166781260372655284_o
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

cat_reviews

Empress Of Comes Home and Sells Out The Bowery Ballroom

March 28th, 2016

Empress Of – The Bowery Ballroom – March 25, 2016

COpcuj2WIAAg6Wj
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

cat_reviews

Honne Thrill Sold-Out Bowery Ballroom with Cool Electric Soul

March 14th, 2016

Honne – The Bowery Ballroom – March 11, 2016

qyRosvwNMmI
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

cat_preview

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