Tag Archives: Alex Toth

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Rubblebucket’s Music Comes Alive Onstage at Stage 48

November 6th, 2014

Rubblebucket – Stage 48 – November 5, 2014

Rubblebucket – Stage 48 – November 5, 2014
While their tour might not yet be over, Rubblebucket returned home last night with an excellent performance at Stage 48, still glowing from showing off the music from their newest full-length album, Survival Sounds. They played to a crowd brimming with excitement to welcome home the band, so much so that Rubblebucket didn’t even make it past one song before lead singer Kalmia Traver had to take a moment to shake hands with and high-five most of the front row of fans.

If you’ve never seen (or heard of) Rubblebucket, that’s a problem that needs to be quickly remedied. They’re a band that’s been around for a while now, having cut their teeth playing all sorts of small-time jam-band festivals with long, loud and messy sets. But today’s Rubblebucket are a refined version with melodic pop influences, which means most all of their recorded tracks are certified earworms. And in a live setting, they’re even better. Traver is a total force, the kind that’s hard to write about because she’s what everyone can’t help but focus their attention on every time the band is mentioned.

Rubblebucket’s live setup usually involves two horn players (or flutes or both, depending on the song), a guitarist and bassist, a drummer and a synth player who does just about everything else as well. And despite all these moving parts, the band is almost impossibly tight, so the lush music sounds bigger and brighter than that of almost any other live act. And they do this all with a ton of action onstage and a smile on every face. They’re the kind of band that makes you realize how boring even some of your favorite groups can be with their live shows, but you’ll only be able to thank them for that. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Rubblebucket Are a Force to Reckon With

August 27th, 2014

Rubblebucket – Mercury Lounge – August 26, 2014

Rubblebucket – Mercury Lounge – August 26, 2014
A name like Rubblebucket might conjure up a mishmash of musical nuggets, which is exactly what the seven-piece outfit creates. Anchored by a strong horn section, a flurry of explosive synthesizers creates melodies that range from indie pop to dance funk. The band began with leader Alex Toth meeting Annakalmia “Kalmia” Traver at the University of Vermont, and from there the bond has spanned nearly a decade. Slowly building a fan base on the festival circuit, the Brooklyn band has garnered a healthy following, including NPR Music’s Bob Boilen. On the night of their third full-length album release, Rubblebucket played a sold-out Mercury Lounge christening their latest, Survival Sounds.

A setup of a tarp backdrop and strobe floor lights hinted at the night ahead as the troupe took the stage that seemed barely big enough to contain them. “My Life,” off their latest, opened the set to a sea of adoring fans. Traver exclaimed that it was Survival Sounds day and expressed that she was feeling crazy this evening. The septet rippled through old and new material, following up the opener with “Silly Fathers,” off Omega La La, and brought out the flutes for “Sound of Erasing.” Toth and trombone player Adam Dotson provided some choice backup dance moves behind the eccentric Traver on lead vocals. Throughout the evening, the band employed stage effects like a confetti cannon, balloons released from a black trash bag and a long panel of fabric, which stretched close to the end of the venue—creating a billowing tent over half of the audience.

Toth descended into the crowd for “Came Out of a Lady,” sending many into uproarious cheers. The tempo mellowed for “Young and Old,” but that didn’t last long as the group continued playing new material, including the clap-happy “Origami,” a crescendo-heavy “Hey Everybody,” crowd-favorite “Shake Me Around” and the upbeat, jazzy “Rewind.” On the latter, Traver invaded the floor to start a Soul Train line, with fans eager to join. As the show’s end neared, the single “Carousel Ride” built up the energy as everyone sang a chorus of  “round and round.” Following the final song, “Pain from Love,” everyone in the band jumped off the stage to march through the audience and into the front bar, but not before they’d proved that Rubblebucket are a force to be reckoned with, from their fierce music to their showmanship. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.wordpress.com

(Rubblebucket play Rough Trade NYC tonight.)

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Catch Rubblebucket Tomorrow Night at Rough Trade NYC

August 26th, 2014

Musically speaking, Alex Toth (trumpet, percussion and vocals) and Kalmia Traver (vocals and sax) have been together for a while. The two met as music majors at the University of Vermont and upon graduation they joined the reggae outfit John Brown’s Body. Eventually they decided to go in a different direction, forming Rubblebucket (above, doing “My Life”) and mashing together psychedelic pop and dance music with layered rhythm and melodies and arrangements by Toth. And as their sound grew bigger, David Cole (drums), Adam Dotson (trombone, vocals and percussion) and Ian Hersey (guitar) joined the band. The Brooklyn-based dance-rock crew released their newest full-length, Survival Sounds (stream it below), today. According to Baeble Music, “Like going on an island vacation with Passion Pit and Earth, Wind & Fire, Survival Sounds demonstrates the group’s seamless blending of their reggae, electronic, and ’70s funk influences.” The five-piece celebrates the album’s arrival tonight at Mercury Lounge, which is sold out, but you can still see them tomorrow at Rough Trade NYC. And if you go, just be prepared to shake it all night.

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Galactic Kick Off Four-Night Run at Brooklyn Bowl

August 8th, 2013

Galactic – Brooklyn Bowl – August 7, 2013


As far as metaphors go, New Orleans’ Galactic most resemble Silly Putty: totally elastic, plenty of bounce and press ’em hard enough against something and they’ll pick it up and distort it to no end. Opening a four-night run at Brooklyn Bowl last night, their unpredictable malleability was in full effect. After a tough-to-follow opening set from hot up-and-comers Superhuman Happiness, who appear to be raising Afrobeat space-funk indie pop to an art form, the veteran jammers took the stage and wasted no time with a warm-up solo-packed funk jam.

From there the set was delivered in bite-sized pieces. Guests rotated in and then left only to return, beginning with Corey Glover, looking quite like your golf-obsessed uncle and delivering a decidedly soul-blues-rock edge. His highlight was a great cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Night People,” which rode a nice Jeff Raines guitar solo, and the appropriately titled “Ooh Nah Nay,” the crowd singing along while getting lost in the Bermuda Triangle of Rob Mercurio, Ben Ellman and Stanton Moore. The proverbial glow stick was cracked when Jon Gutwillig from the Disco Biscuits joined in on guitar, adding a long, swirly phospherescent solo to a dark, funky jam. The Silly Putty went pretzel as Glover and Gutwillig both sat in for, of all things, an adrenaline-rush cover of Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”

Of course Galactic spent some quality time on their own, with plenty of boogie-inducing numbers, from the classic Meters-esque groovers to the explosive, harmonica-meets-slide-guitar-meets-TNT-drums “Shibuya.” But the guests couldn’t be held off for too long: Rubblebucket’s Kalmia Traver brought a bucket of energy to the second Zeppelin cover of the night, matching Glover’s performance with a house-igniting take on “Whole Lotta Love.” Traver moved to baritone saxophone and bandmate Alex Toth joined in on trumpet for a big-horn-section take on “Baker’s Dozen” before Glover returned to close it all out with a Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality.” And that was just the first night! Don’t worry. I’m sure there’s plenty of bounce left in ’em for three more—and then some. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

(Galactic play Brooklyn Bowl tonight, tomorrow and Saturday.)

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This Double Bill Will Have You Dancing

November 15th, 2012

Musically speaking, Alex Toth (trumpet) and Kalmia Traver (vocals and sax) have been together for a while. The two met as music majors at the University of Vermont and upon graduation they joined the reggae outfit John Brown’s Body. Eventually they decided to go in a different direction, more along the lines of a mash-up of psychedelic pop and dance music with layered rhythms and melodies. Craig Myers (percussion) was the first to join the effort, but now the Brooklyn-based Rubblebucket (above, doing “Breatherz”) performs with an array of instruments and as many as nine musicians.

Ryan Engelberger, William Kennedy, Andrew McFarland and Graham Ulicny formed the dance-pop quartet Reptar (below, doing “Sebastian” for KEXP FM) four years ago in Athens, Ga. And with buzz-worthy appearances at festivals like Austic City Limits and Lollapalooza, they’ve left behind a slew of sweaty, dancing bodies with their updated take on dance-worthy electronic music. Together with Rubblebucket, they make a killer double bill. Go see these bands live: on Saturday at The Bowery Ballroom (which is sold out) or on Sunday at Music Hall of Williamsburg.