Tag Archives: Bad Books

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Bad Books Play Their Biggest Show to Date

July 15th, 2013

Bad Books – Webster Hall – July 12, 2013


As individuals and as a band, the members of Bad Books are no strangers to New York City. Singer Kevin Devine is from here, and he and the rest of his bandmates (also known as Manchester Orchestra) have played in just about every room this city has to offer. But Friday night at Webster Hall was the biggest local show Bad Books, formed in 2010, have played so far. Their shows are always loose and fun, and the often-silly relationship between cofrontmen Devine and Andy Hull was obvious as they busted out a Simon & Garfunkel–like version of the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

The rest of the set had that same sort of loose and carefree vibe, and the band clicked so well that they’re nothing but a total joy to watch perform. And now with two albums, Bad Books have found a way to mix a variety of kinds of songs, from steamy, seething rock, like “Please Move,” to quieter hold-your-breath tunes, like “Ambivalent Peaks.”

But it would be remiss not to mention that the opener, the Front Bottoms, whipped the sold-out crowd into a frenzy. Hailing from New Jersey, this former duo turned full band has been gaining an almost unstoppable momentum—not to mention a rapidly growing fan base. In what was also one of their biggest shows, the Front Bottoms made sure to get their time’s worth, going onstage early to bust out a wild set full of their signature sound while their fans put on a dizzying crowd-surfing display. It might seem difficult to find a unique band these days, but you need look no further than these guys. Their graduation into one of the bigger rooms in the city couldn’t have gone better. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Bad Books, Good Show

February 21st, 2013

Bad Books – The Bowery Ballroom – February 20, 2013


Returning to the room where they made their live debut in 2010, the combo group of Bad Books put on an arresting show last night at The Bowery Ballroom. The visible difference this time around was how tight the band was, whether it was the louder, faster-paced “You Wouldn’t Have to Ask” or the blood-boiling simmer of “Please Move.” This was thanks to the band—Kevin Devine and the members of Manchester Orchestra—having another album’s worth of material and a bit more experience playing the songs together.

There was even a noticeable difference during the slow acoustic songs (which is not something new to singers Devine and Andy Hull, who have played together acoustically for years), and those moments were elevated by those in the attentive crowd embracing total silence, their gazes fixed on the two singers harmonizing onstage. It was the kind of special moment both frontmen have cultivated in their solo performances, and it was nice to see it translate to a slightly different setting.

The rapport shared by Devine and Hull is reason alone to see Bad Books perform, and that was an important part of the show as well. The two cracked jokes throughout the set, but their bizarre humor was never more evident than when Hull introduced a “new song” by claiming, “This is the first song that Kevin and I legitimately wrote together,” before easing into half of a cover of Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Let Her Cry.” —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Sometimes Bad Books Are Really Good

October 21st, 2010

Bad Books – The Bowery Ballroom – October 20, 2010

Bad Books - The Bowery Ballroom - October 20, 2010
They fumbled while tuning their guitars, nervously laughed through some banter and shouted out chord changes to one another a few times. But these signs of a new band didn’t faze the experienced members of Bad Books. “Guys, I feel awesome right now,” said cofrontman Andy Hull as they began their first-ever show. Along with Kevin Devine (who helped open the CMJ Music Marathon the night before), the members of the Manchester Orchestra make up what is known as Bad Books, a new band that Hull was sure to explain was not a side project.

As they played through their set last night at The Bowery Ballroom, the band shook off first-show jitters and began to belt out incredible material from their self-titled debut album. Up to four of the six members would sing at times, with Devine and Hull splitting the lead duties. Devine took the lead on a few joyous-sounding songs like (as they joked) their “hit single,” “You Wouldn’t Have to Ask,” and “Holding Down the Laughter.” Hull, meanwhile, was in charge of the louder, grittier fare, like “Please Move,” but also the most hushed moments: It’s a thing of beauty to watch him quiet a room with just a guitar and his voice (which he also did in an opening slot with his other other solo band, Right Away, Great Captain!).

The main set ended with a song called “Texas,” which featured just Devine and Hull, with the latter singing on guitar and the former shrouded in darkness on the drums. The entire band reformed for an encore with the 9:45 p.m. curfew looming, but instead of cutting a few songs, they smilingly hurried through them all, furiously playing a few of their own tunes from those other bands like a kid trying to finish his homework before class. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com