Tag Archives: Alex Bleeker and the Freaks

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We’ve Got Your Late-Night Action This Weekend

December 27th, 2013

It’s the time of year when people really want to spend quality time with their friends. And along those lines, there’s lots of great shows this weekend, whether you’re going to Phish at the Garden or one of our shows. But either way, no one really wants the party to stop early. So not to fear because we’ve got your late-night festivities, beginning tonight with Rocky and the Pressers at Mercury Lounge. And tomorrow we’ve got even more options: the Talking Heads tribute Start Making Sense at The Bowery Ballroom and the Spring Standards at Mercury Lounge. And then we’ve got the Invisible Familiars at Mercury Lounge on Sunday and then Alex Bleeker and the Freaks (above, doing “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” for Relix) there on Monday night. Get involved. It’s gonna be fun.

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Woods Take It to the Next Level

July 29th, 2013

Woods – The Bowery Ballroom – July 27, 2013


“Get ready for the harmonica,” said a friend when I told him I’d be seeing Woods at The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday. But bassist Kevin Morby brought out his mounted harmonica only once, as if in a nod to the Newport Folk Fest happening at the same time a few hundred miles away, for the sun-dappled sway of the set opener, “Pushing Onlys.” The rest of the time, the Brooklyn-based psychedelic folkies hypnotized the comfortably packed room with heavy drones and raga freak-outs, the swirling visuals of inkblots and kaleidoscopic geometry behind the stage casting a candy-colored shadow over them.

On record, Woods allow their skillful manipulation of guitar textures and tones to dominate. As with many bands, more often than not the rhythmic section is more of a means to an end than the centerpiece. Live, however, Morby and drummer Aaron Neveu led the proceedings with a relentless thumping and pounding that took the songs off Bend Beyond to the next level. The title track, “Size Meets the Sound” and “Find Them Empty,” in particular, spiraled into trance-inducing jam sessions with enough different noodlings to keep them interesting without losing the propulsive power of the bass and drums. That’s not to say the guitarists colored within the lines: On “Is It Honest?” Jarvis Taveniere thrashed out so hard during a solo that he knocked over his microphone stand, sending it spinning into the audience.

But all good things must come to an end, and after about an hour, Woods finished their set. They came back on after a mercifully brief interlude for a two-song encore, starting with the wistful acoustic number “It Ain’t Easy.” For the final song, they pulled on Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker, whose band Alex Bleeker and the Freaks served as one of the openers. After some instrumental switches, Bleeker and Woods launched into a fairly faithful cover of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” with the audience joyfully singing along. —Harley Oliver Brown

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com

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Get a Little Freaky Tomorrow at The Bowery Ballroom

July 26th, 2013

About eight years ago, singer-guitarist Jeremy Earl began recording a solo project that eventually blossomed into the lo-fi freak-folk Brooklyn band Woods. G. Lucas Crane (tape effects), Kevin Morby (bass) and Jarvis Taveniere (multiple instruments) joined Earl to round out the sound when playing live, and they’ve gone on to release seven acclaimed albums—highlighted by 2009’s Songs of Shame—in seven years, including 2012’s Bend Beyond (stream it below), which was recorded very quickly in order to capture the band’s magnetic live sound. Of course, you can check out their live sound for yourself when—along with Endless Boogie and Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, with trippy visuals provided by Drippy Eye Projections—Woods (above, performing “Bend Beyond” for Windows Have Eyes) play The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night.

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After Midnight, We’re Gonna Let It All Hang Down

December 31st, 2012

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks/Prince Rupert’s Drops – Mercury Lounge – December 29, 2012

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks

There’s an old “Your father used to tell you” saying: “Nothing good happens after midnight.” But I think we can all agree that’s demonstrably false. Take Saturday’s late-night after-party double bill at Mercury Lounge put on by Dog Gone Blog for those coming from earlier shows. This one was an extrasensory delight with old school projector and Day-Glo liquid light show and some deep, mind-altering psychedelic music. First up, Prince Rupert’s Drops played music from their excellent debut album, Run Slow. The pulsing colors behind the band nicely matched the music, strong candy-coated pop one moment—like the single-ready “Almond Man”—and then stretched out taffy-like, with jams like the title track lasting the better part of 10 minutes, the next.

Finishing the night, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks played a decidedly open-ended set with perfectly pitched ambient late-night groove instrumentals mixing with some crowd-pleasing covers. The wee morning suited Bleeker and Co. well: It was as good as I’ve seen them play, nailing a rocking “Sweet Virginia” and a great “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo.” But the highlight was a cover of Phish’s “Bathtub Gin,” which launched a long, coherent space jam that went beyond Phish or Dead territory to the after-midnight place where maybe nothing good ever does happen. Just don’t tell your pop. —A. Stein

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A Great Saturday Bill at Mercury Lounge

February 6th, 2012

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks/La Big Vic – Mercury Lounge – February 4, 2012

La Big Vic

After a reverb-heavy swinging set from Family Portrait on Saturday night at Mercury Lounge, next up came Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, a spin-off from indie-jammers Real Estate, the Frasier to their Cheers. Bleeker, who plays bass in Real Estate but naturally moves to guitar and lead vocals in his own band, requested dim purple lights as the group tuned up with psychedelic swirls behind him. A quick-hit love song made way for a pitch-perfect Grateful Dead transition jam with two lead guitars fluttering around each other like playful birds. It was an impressive “our second team can beat your starters” stretch of music, all loose and nebulous. As the jam melted into more terrestrial roots rock, the ragged nature persisted, giving a cozy just-friends-watching-a-rehearsal feel for the crowd.

La Big Vic finished the night. Gone were the dim purples, in fact, gone was all color whatsoever. In lieu of lights, the band projected images from a laptop on a white sheet. The images were completely black and white giving the whole band in front of it a drained-of-color look. The music was a hypnotic, electronic after-midnight collection of synthesizers, violin, trumpet and guitar burying Emilie Friedland’s voice. As gray digital jellyfish swam across the back wall, the music was equally aquatic, the kind of buzz-enhancing trip-hop you might stumble upon in some early-morning subterranean club scene. —A. Stein

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Experience Something Unique on Saturday Night

February 1st, 2012


The three musicians in La Big Vic have diverse backgrounds. Violinist-lead singer Emilie Friedlander was—and actually still is—a blogger, before moving here from Japan guitarist Toshio Maduda was in a J-pop boy band and he produced hip-hop and commercials and keyboardist Peter Pearson apprenticed as a sound producer. But when the trio makes music what comes out is an amazing stew of beats, hooks, trip-hop and ambiance. This isn’t a case of being different just to be different. No, it’s a unique kind of music, which you can see for yourself when, alongside Alex Bleeker and the Freaks and Family Portrait, La Big Vic (above, doing “Musica” for newtownradio.com) plays Mercury Lounge on Saturday night.