Tag Archives: Barclays Center

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The Avett Brothers – Barclays Center – March 7, 2014

March 10th, 2014

The Avett Brothers - Barclays Center - March 7, 2014

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com

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The Avett Brothers Play Barclays Center Tomorrow Night

March 6th, 2014

Brothers Seth (vocals and guitar) and Scott (vocals, banjo and drums) Avett, and Bob Crawford (bass, violin and vocals) and Joe Kwon (cello, saw and vocals) are known for rowdy, authentic Americana roots, energetic alt-country music, and a healthy dose of bluegrass and folk music. Their eighth studio album, last year’s Magpie and the Dandelion (stream it below), produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, “is chock full of tracks that show the Avett Brothers are (very wisely) growing their sound, while remaining true to their core principles and what listeners like about them to begin with,” said American Songwriter. “It’s clear with this latest effort that the Avett Brothers don’t care much for recent trends and don’t chase after something they think their fans want them to be, but instead is a pure taste of raw musical expression, and the resulting effort is that each track is better than the next.” They hail from North Carolina, but the Avett Brothers (above, performing “Laundry Room” for Live on Letterman ) are coming to Brooklyn to rock Barclays Center tomorrow night. As an added bonus, the like-minded Old Crow Medicine Show kick off the night.

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A Top Five Look Back at 2013

January 10th, 2014


Ten days into the New Year, The House List looks back at 2013 with some Top Five lists.

My Top Five Favorite Shows
1.
The Postal Service, Barclay Center, June 14
My decade-belated live date with the Postal Service finally culminated at Barclays Center, where rabid fans, like myself, roared as Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello hit the stage. As if acting out lyrics from “Nothing Better,” Gibbard and Jenny Lewis shimmied close for the duet. Old friends reunited onstage never felt so good.

2. Haim, Webster Hall, September 3
I was late to this bandwagon, as fellow House List contributor Alex Kapelman shortlisted Haim last year for his Top Five Bowery Presents Shows of the Year. I knew I was in for a good one when I could barely find a spot in the rafters to catch the three sisters, who charmed with their onstage banter and wicked musicianship

3. Jessie Ware, The Bowery Ballroom, January 17
Straight off her Jimmy Fallon taping backed by the Roots, the British songstress elated the crowd with her effortless, down-to-earth stage demeanor. Her star quickly rose with American audiences, as she sold out shows at Webster Hall, Music Hall of Williamsburg and Irving Plaza throughout the year. I was glad to have caught her earlier in the more intimate venue.

4. Basia Bulat, Bowery Ballroom, November 23
I’ve been a fan of Basia Bulat since I heard her cover Sam Cooke’s “Touch the Hem of His Garment.” This show on a cold night wasn’t sold out, which made me a little sad since she’s quite the talent. But those who were there were enraptured by her prowess on autoharp to the point that you could hear a pin drop during her solos.

5. Daughter, Bowery Ballroom, April 30
Somehow Elena Tonra manages to disguise heartbreak behind soulful lyrics and melody. She has a knack for turning happy dance songs into somber endeavors. The band mashed-up Bon Iver and Hot Chip’s “Perth/Ready for the Floor” that evening. Check out Tonra’s somber retake of Daft Punk’s hit “Get Lucky” for further proof. —Sharlene Chiu

My Top Five Shows I Never Thought I Would See
1. Desaparecidos, Webster Hall, February 26

Desaparecidos (and really any Conor Oberst project) were my bread and butter back in the early aughts, and for a while they seemed to be a one-off, a politically minded side project firmly planted in the past. Fortunately (and unfortunately) the global state of affairs remains messed up enough for the band to regroup to write protest songs for a new decade. It was a nostalgic, sweaty and inspired performance.

2. Shuggie Otis, Music Hall of Williamsburg, April 19
Shuggie Otis began putting out music in the mid-’70s, followed by a long period of laying low. Content to groove along to songs like “Ice Cold Daydream” at home, I never really thought about the possibility of a Shuggie Otis tour in 2013. But when I found out, I was there. And “Ice Cold Daydream” is even better in person.

3. The Flamin’ Groovies, The Bowery Ballroom, July 6
Instead of discovering the Flamin’ Groovies in a smoky San Fran club in the ’60s, I was introduced to their catchy psychedelia on a Nuggets compilation more than 30 years later. Who’d have thought they’d still be going strong in 2013 and that I’d be dancing right alongside some old school fans at this fun summer show.

4.  John Prine, Beacon Theatre, September 26
John Prine has been active since the early ’70s, but unlike Shuggie Otis, he never really went away, writing and recording songs at a steady pace throughout the years. But I still always thought of him as an artist too legendary for me to see in person—or that tickets would be too out of reach. But John Prine put on an amazing show, highlighting his singular skills as a songwriter and storyteller.

5. The Julie Ruin, Music Hall of Williamsburg, October 25
I was late to the party for the original riot-grrl movement, but I became an admirer of Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna during her time in Le Tigre. She’s dealt with some debilitating health issues in the past few years, but I had no doubt she’d continue to make art and music. So I was happy to learn of her latest project, the Julie Ruin, and her energetic show did not disappoint. —Alena Kastin

My Top Five Shows
1. Yo La Tengo, Town Hall, February 16

I don’t like to pick a favorite, but my last.fm account tells me I’ve listened to Yo La Tengo more than any other band since 2007. At Town Hall, they performed an acoustic set and an electronic one, doing two versions of “Ohm,” my favorite song of the year. And then I ran into Tim Heidecker from Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! Had the Red Sox not won the World Series, this would’ve been my favorite night of the year.

2. Killer Mike/El-P, Webster Hall, August 14
I don’t care what anyone says: The best two rap albums of 2012 came from Killer Mike and El-P. And in 2013 they topped them, coming together as one entity, Run the Jewels. The night included a set from El-P, a set from Killer Mike and a combined set with both. El-P’s ingenious production plus Killer “I bleed charisma” Mike equals one concert I will never forget.

3. Foxygen, The Bowery Ballroom, October 21
With Foxygen it occasionally feels like shit could fall apart at any moment. And sometimes it does. But when their shows don’t come unhinged they deliver that sweet thrill of relief, like narrowly avoiding a car crash. And on this Halloween-themed night, the band made a weird show even weirder with homemade costumes and pseudo spooky vibes.

4. Steve Earle, Music Hall of Williamsburg, May 8
You can just tell some people are genuine, and Steve Earle is certainly one of them. Forever wearing his heart on his sleeve, that same energy bleeds right into his music, which he played alongside what he’s calling “the best band he’s ever had.”

5. Meat Puppets, Mercury Lounge, April 4
Not only are the Meat Puppets still kicking (after living through some serious shit), but also they’re thriving. And as much as I respect their legacy, seeing them play for more than two hours with the intensity you’d expect of a band 20 years their junior makes me respect them that much more. Long live the puppets of meat! —Dan Rickershauser

My Top Five Shows
1. Dessa, Union Hall, May 5

There are few performers I feel can move mountains with their vocal chords, and Dessa is one of them. This performance was an eruption of defiant lyrics and bold beats. A sizable crowd of young girls knew all of her lyrics, giving the show a chant-like feel. The only female member of Minnesota’s Doomtree collective practically vibrates with energy, and it’s completely contagious.

2. Kishi Bashi, Irving Plaza, September 12
Kishi Bashi sounds even better live than he does recorded. And he delivered a dazzling set with profuse vocal looping and an excellent backing band. Kauro Ishibashi has a supercharged, effusive aura, and his music embodies that persona. This set took a rowdy turn that involved crowd surfing, strobe lights and an outright jam session.

3. Panama Wedding, CMJ Music Marathon
I happened upon newcomers Panama Wedding three different times during CMJ: Initially, opening for NONONO at Mercury Lounge on the first night. Since the band had only released one song, “All of the People,” I was eager to see what would unfold onstage. Their set was so tight that I caught the fantastical pop group the following night at Pianos and then again at a showcase at Santos Party House.

4. You Won’t, Rockwood Music Hall, October 30
The live iteration of You Won’t is a spectacle to behold. I watched eagerly as Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri wielded a slew of instruments with ease, quickly fascinating the audience. The duo took their jaunty music into the audience a couple of times to break the barrier and enlisted some extra vocal support by encouraging us to all to sing along.

5. James Blake, Terminal 5, November 6
In this spellbinding live performance, complete with plenty of vocal looping and haunting electronica, James Blake made a cavernous room filled with people feel intimate. And that he’s such a dapper-looking fellow only helps boost his appeal. I’m still transfixed by this performance nearly two months later. James Blake’s music has some serious lasting effects. —Schuyler Rooth

My Top Five Shows with Regard to Lights, Visuals and Production
1. Umphrey’s McGee, Brooklyn Bowl, January 20

Kick-ass creative lighting
and Brooklyn Bowl don’t usually go hand in hand, but Umphrey’s McGee lighting guru Jefferson Waful turned the room into a thing of beauty.

2. Föllakzoid/Holydrug Couple, Mercury Lounge, March 21
What better way to enjoy some old school psychedelic music than with some old school liquid projections courtesy of Drippy Eye.

3. Plaza: Portugal. The Man, Irving Plaza, May 20
Freakin’ lasers!

4. The Flaming Lips/Tame Impala, Terminal 5, October 1
It was almost as fascinating to watch the Lips’ spectacle getting set up as it was to see it in action—confetti, strobes, LEDs and, well, pretty much everything. And Tame Impala’s projections were no slouch either.

5. Phish, Atlantic City Boardwalk, October 31, November 2
Phish’s fall tour found lighting director Chris Kuroda playing the Willy Wonka of eye candy all over the East Coast. —A. Stein

My Top Five Albums
1. Phosphorescent, Muchacho
I’d only seen Phosphorescent once before listening to Muchacho for the first time. And while much of Matthew Houck’s previous work is country-tinged (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this album, ostensibly about a breakup, covers more territory, from the meditative sounds of “Sun, Arise (An Invocation, an Introduction)” and “Sun’s Arising (A Koan, an Exit)” to the jammy, driving “Ride On/Right On” to softer fare, like “Muchacho’s Tune,” all centered on Houck’s evocative voice. I still can’t stop listening to it.

2. Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Foxygen’s third full-length, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, comes off as a loving mash note to ’70s rock. You’ll hear bits of the Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground and David Bowie, but the album expertly manages to sound like something whole and new rather than something derivative.

3. White Denim, Corsicana Lemonade
Upon the first couple of listens, I found White Denim’s latest, Corsicana Lemonade, to be too singer-songwriter-y, but I continued to give it a chance, and it opened up to something much bigger, with genre-hopping songs like “Let It Feel Good (My Eagles)” and “Pretty Green”—not to mention some searing guitar parts—grabbing me by the throat.

4. Futurebirds, Baba Yaga
Admittedly, I didn’t know anything about Futurebirds, out of Athens, Ga., before writing a preview of their late-May show at The Bowery Ballroom. But while listening to their second LP, Baba Yaga, as I wrote, I became totally enamored of the album—half twangy Southern rock and half spacey reverb.

 5. Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze
I love Kurt Vile’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze so much, that I can’t believe it’s only No. 5. Labeling it stoner rock, as many have done, is lazy. Although I supposed me calling it laid-back rock isn’t any better. But the fact of the matter is there might not ever be a better album to listen to while walking the streets of New York City with headphones in your ears. —R. Zizmor

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John Mayer Ends Tour at Barclays Center

December 18th, 2013

John Mayer/Phillip Phillips – Barclays Center – December 17, 2013


Barclays Center welcomed thousands last night for the final performance of John Mayer’s Born and Raised tour. Phillip Phillips kicked off the night with some standout numbers from his debut album, World from the Side of the Moon. It’s no wonder he took the title of American Idol in the show’s eleventh season. Phillips’ stage presence instantly won over the audience, as did his soulful warbling. “Home” and “Where We Came From,” two crowd favorites, highlighted the set. Phillips also gave a husky-voiced performance of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” which got the crowd singing along before he did some serious justice to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” by lending his throaty twang to the rapper’s anthem.

Mayer strode onstage flanked by some exceptionally talented musicians and supporting vocalists. The stage was backlit with a brilliant landscape depicting a desert at dusk, which morphed throughout the performance. The band launched into “Queen of California.” Mayer expressed that had created a set list that would take us on a journey, and he emphasized his gratitude for his talented bandmates. “Half of My Heart” and “I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)” followed, punctuated by Mayer’s extensive guitar solos. “Why Georgia” brought on a wave of nostalgic cheers, and Mayer directed the song’s chorus to the audience, asking, “Are you living it right?” He then brandished a harmonica for the forlorn ballad “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey.” “Who Says” and “Speak for Me” provided an optimistic upswing as the band hit their stride in the extensive set. “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” briefly dipped back into melancholy before the cheerful melodies and earnest crooning in “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967” and “Wildfire” swept us up once again. “Waiting on the World to Change” had the audience cheering instantly, to which Mayer gratefully responded, “I don’t know what I did to deserve you all.” An elongated “If I Ever Get Around to Living” ended with Mayer playing two guitars at once. And then the band closed the set with “The Age of Worry” and “Dear Marie.”

The crowd wasted no time cheering for an encore and voicing their enthusiasm for a certain special guest: Katy Perry. The pop songstress and Mayer had just released a music video for “Who You Love,” and the real-life couple have an easygoing kind of chemistry onstage that is much more relatable than their über-romantic onscreen version. Perry quickly kissed Mayer goodbye as he played a Christmas medley and rounded out the night with a triumphant rendition of “Gravity.” At the end of it all, Mayer was hunched over his guitar on the floor of the stage, beaming at the audience. And as someone who saw him perform more than a decade ago toward the beginning of his career, I can say without a doubt that he’s grown to be one of the best live performers out there. —Schuyler Rooth

Photos courtesy of Greg Pallante | gregpallante.com

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MGMT Entertain Fans of All Ages

December 16th, 2013

MGMT/Dinosaur Jr. – Barclays Center – December 13, 2013

MGMT

Underage was the word that occurred to me as I watched fans stream into Barclays Center on Friday night: goofy-looking dudes with skinny necks and hats on sideways, girls covered in colorful crop tops and fluorescent face paint. So when I got to my seat and saw a woman older than my mom sitting nearby, I had to talk to her. Good-natured ushers rebuffed my first two attempts, though, and I enjoyed the openers, Kuroma and Dinosaur Jr., from the comfort of my own section. Kuroma delivered excellent, jangly rock tunes and with three MGMT members gave an exciting preview of the show to come. Dinosaur Jr., playing mostly to teens who weren’t born when they first broke up, didn’t disappoint either. J Mascis ripped off a succession beautiful, frenetic solos as they barged through deceptively simple rockers, highlights being “Feel the Pain” and a thunderous cover of “Just Like Heaven,” which brought their set to a sing-along close.

Finally, I made my way over to the white-haired woman and was astounded to learn she was bass player Matt Asti’s mom. After trading memories of past shows, I asked if she ever thought her son would be a rock star. “When he was three months old, I took him to an astrologist who said he’d make his living onstage. So I guess I should have known,” she replied. And with that, the lights began to dim, so I said a quick goodbye and good luck. The latter, as it turned out, was completely unnecessary. Opening with “Flash Delirium” followed by “Time to Pretend,” Asti and his bandmates had the crowd standing and screaming right away.

MGMT’s set was a rousing blend of Oracular Spectacular’s catchy tunes and their other albums’ more psychedelic fare. The show also featured trippy, Spirographic projections, a remote-controlled flying saucer and surprise guests—little known 1960s psych rocker Faine Jade, who came out to sing his “Introspection” (which MGMT covered on their eponymous new album), and Gibby Haynes, of Butthole Surfers, who joined them to sporadically bang on an massive cowbell and jump into the crowd during “Your Life Is a Lie” and “Kids.” MGMT then treated fans to two of the new album’s best songs (“Alien Days” and “Cool Song No. 2”), plus an epic encore of “Congratulations.” And if everyone else was as lucky as I was, they got to see Ms. Asti dancing in the aisle all show long. —Mickey Novak

Photos courtesy of Greg Pallante | gregpallante.com

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MGMT Play Barclays Center with Dinosaur Jr. Tomorrow Night

December 12th, 2013

Local psychedelic rockers MGMT have been away for a while, since the release of their previous album, Congratulations, in 2010. But, fortunately, they returned to the studio to record their third full-length, MGMT (stream it below), which came out a few months back. In a glowing review, NME calls it “a transcendental [journey] you’ve never been on before.” And while MGMT (above, performing “Introspection,” “Your Life Is a Lie” and “Mystery Disease”) haven’t played a New York City show in three years, they head to Brooklyn tomorrow night to play Barclays Center.

But a big show calls for something different, and so MGMT will be joined by the massively influential alt-rock trio Dinosaur Jr. and Hank Sullivant’s quartet, Kuroma. And while Kuroma are up-and-comers not to miss, it’s worth mentioning that although Dinosaur Jr. have been around a while, the distortion-loving band remains as vital as ever, releasing the acclaimed I Bet on Sky (stream it below) last year. Paste called it “a jangly rock throw-down with a nostalgic center and a confident drive that ends up capturing everything that’s great about the band.” This will be one not to miss.

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Phoenix Sound Right at Home on the Big Stage at Barclays Center

October 3rd, 2013

Phoenix – Barclays Center – October 2, 2013


As the lights went dark and the video screens lit up with images of Thomas Mars and the rest of Phoenix making their way to the stage from the depths of Barclays Center, it was pretty clear how well they’ve adjusted to life as an arena band. Drenched in smoke lit blood red, Phoenix opened with the appropriate “Entertainment,” immediately followed by “Lasso” and “Lisztomania,” two of their biggest songs. If you’ve only ever heard Phoenix through your laptop speakers or headphones, you wouldn’t believe how big their six-member live show sounds.

It all begins with drummer Thomas Hedlund, whose every drum and cymbal hit came with authority, keeping the band in time as they sped through songs from their upbeat catalog (he was complemented by a keyboard/aux percussionist, which made plenty of those big beats sound even bigger). Brothers Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai manned guitar duties, and even sneaked in some synth of their own in between their quick melodies. Mars has grown from a (perhaps) timid lead singer to one with plenty of stage presence.

The bigger venues suit Phoenix’s sound and personality extremely well, and some of their loudest songs, like “Girlfriend” with its sweeping synths, grew louder with all that space to fill. Even the laid-back throwback “Run Run Run” was supplied with an epic breakdown of an ending. The band began to close the set with “Armistice” as Mars leaned out over the crowd, and he stayed right there with them for “1901,” as well as a stripped-down, spotlit version of “Coundtown.” They finished with Mars atop a piano set up behind the sound booth—and fans trying to capture the moment promptly swarmed him. As the encore wrapped with “Rome,” Mars whispered something to Hedlund and then booked it into the crowd, carrying his wired microphone with him and personally thanking fans while the band vamped a few minutes of “Entertainment” until he crowd surfed his way back up front and invited more than 100 people to finish it all off onstage. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Chris Becker | www.artistsweetsbecker.us

Contest

You Gotta Play to Win

September 25th, 2013

PHOENIX is coming to BARCLAYS CENTER on October 2nd along with the Vaccines. ONE LUCKY WINNER will not only get two tickets to the show, but they will also get a SIGNED VINYL copy of Bankrupt.

Prize winners must pick up their vinyl the night of the show. Get your tickets now!

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Vampire Weekend Continue to Rise

September 23rd, 2013

Vampire Weekend – Barclays Center – September 20, 2013


In 1965, the Beatles made a horde of shrieking girls convulse and fall apart at Shea Stadium. In the process, the Fab Four kicked off an era of arena rock that saw bands like Led Zeppelin and the Who touring the country and making gobs of money, all the while pouring out their hearts onstage. That time has since dissipated for rock bands over the past few decades—aside from occasional reunion tours, there are only a handful of groups from that era still packing big venues.

But a new generation of rockers, like Vampire Weekend on Friday night at Barclays Center, is now playing arenas. Of course, the local quartet is a far cry from the anthemic rock of ’70s—their success stems from the fact that their songs are so different from something like “Stairway to Heaven”—but with their constantly evolving style and deep catalog, they’re now able to fill increasingly bigger rooms.

All the familiar markers of a great arena-rock show were there on Friday night, with thousands of fans screaming as they recognized songs like “Oxford Comma” and “Cousins,” band-induced crowd participation and a theatrical, engaging light show. Drummer Chris Tomson even changed costumes throughout the night, wearing three different versions of Nets jerseys, by my count. And frontman Ezra Koenig’s focused intensity anchored the incredibly tight band as they played through their catalog, which will no doubt be considered classic in time. It was a night that proved that Vampire Weekend will soon take their place near the top of the musical totem pole. —Alex Kapelman

Photos courtesy of Dana Kandic | www.danakandic.com

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Barclays Center – September 19, 2013

September 20th, 2013


Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesolivierphoto.com

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Two Big Local Bands Take the Stage at Barclays Center

September 19th, 2013

Earlier this year, art-punk trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs—frontwoman Karen O, drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner—released their fourth full-length, Mosquito (stream it below). The album includes production work from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek among others, and in praising it, the A.V. Club says the album “takes a much more open-ended, and less studied, approach to Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ electric eccentricity.” Of course, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (above, performing “Sacrilege” on Late Show with David Letterman) are most known for the fiery live performances, and you can see these hometown musical heroes tonight at Barclays Center. But do yourself a favor and get there early enough to see Har Mar Superstar.

Another big local band, Vampire Weekend—college buddies Ezra Koenig (vocals and guitar), Chris Baio (bass and vocals), Rostam Batmanglij (keys and vocals) and Chris Tomson (drums)—also put out an acclaimed new album this year, Modern Vampires of the City (stream it below). The band’s much-praised third LP is a bit of a departure, abandoning the post-college themes of their previous work, but gaining plaudits in the process, with Rolling Stone winningly comparing the quartet’s new tunes to Paul Simon and Tom Petty. But, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend (above, doing “Diane Young” on Saturday Night Live) are best experienced live. And alongside Solange and Sky Ferreira, they play Barclays Center tomorrow night.

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The Postal Service: Worth the Wait

June 17th, 2013

The Postal Service – Barclays Center – June 14, 2013


Ten years is a long time to wait, and regret burns deep. For this writer, not seeing the Postal Service back in 2003 at a small San Francisco venue still hurts—a lot. So I was psyched when rumblings of a tour were announced to celebrate the 10-year-anniversary reissue of Give Up. You might have heard the tale of Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) meeting Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel) on a fateful night in Los Angeles. What coyly began as a request for Gibbard’s vocals on Dntel’s “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” blossomed into an exchange of musical ideas through the United States Postal Service. The two lead members never would have thought their fledgling project would amount to one of the most successful albums for the Sub Pop label, but that’s exactly what happened.

Fast-forward a decade as a choral prelude welcomed Gibbard, Tamborello, Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley) and Laura Burhenn (the Mynabirds) to the stage of a sold-out Barclays Center on a Friday night. Gibbard offered a hearty “Hiya, Brooklyn!” before diving into “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight.” Lewis, accessorized with a puffy white cap and saddle shoes, promptly threw the hat into the crowd on “We Will Become Silhouettes.” And in a rare turn from his mixers, Tamborello closed out “Sleeping In” echoing the chorus: “Don’t wake me, I plan on sleeping in.” Gibbard took a moment to thank the audience, jokingly, “for coming to this tiny venue to listen to us play music from 10 years ago.”

Having a great time together onstage, old friends Gibbard and Lewis shimmied close for the duet “Nothing Better,” which he introduced as “three sides to every story.” And fans cheered the whirlpool of sound twinkling with drumbeats during “Recycled Air.” But the show didn’t just consist of material from their lone LP. The Postal Service also did songs like “Be Still My Heart,” from the We Will Become Silhouettes EP, and a cover of Beat Happening’s “Our Secret” before the crowd erupted for the beloved “Such Great Heights.” All kidding aside, Gibbard plainly laid out Give Up’s success: “This record still means something to you.” And as I received texts like “this album takes me back” and “I had chills,” from friends scattered around the arena, his point was proved again and again. And then with a mellifluous crescendo, the Postal Service ended their main set with “Natural Anthem,” burying my decade-old regret. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com

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A Second Chance to See the Postal Service Live

June 14th, 2013

Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard and electronica musician Jimmy Tamborello (also known as Dntel) decided to make music together more than a decade ago. But since Gibbard was in Seattle and Tamborello lived in Los Angeles, they shared ideas, lyrics and instrumental tracks through the mail, which, ultimately, gave them the name of their band: the Postal Service. They put out one electronica- and indie-pop-filled full-length album, Give Up (stream it below), in 2003, which included backing vocals from Jenny Lewis
and Jen Wood, and received plenty of love from critics and fans alike. But despite a successful tour in support of the album, that was pretty much it. Or was it? Thankfully, SubPop recently reissued the album with a host of bonus tracks to celebrate its 10-year anniversary. And following a much-ballyhooed appearance at this year’s Coachella, the Postal Service (above, performing “Such Great Heights” at Coachella) have hit the road. Tonight’s show with Mates of State is sold out, but you can see them—with Ra Ra Riot opening—tomorrow night at Barclays Center.

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The National Play Hometown Show at the Biggest Venue in Brooklyn

June 6th, 2013

The National – Barclays Center – June 5, 2013


Last fall, New York magazine wondered if Brooklyn was finished. The cover story featured Barclays Center, a veritable spaceship of urban development that landed at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. But the arena as a new Brooklyn icon wasn’t truly finished until the National, a band whose Midwestern-displacement story mirrors many of the borough’s residents, took to its stage last night. As their fans—a bearded and craft-brew-swilling demographic hybrid of DIY and yuppie—clapped along, the band, avatars of Kings County’s mixture of aspiration and crooked shame, opened with “Don’t Swallow the Cap,” the sound of everything Brooklyn could and couldn’t be.

The early part of the set saw the National run through material from their latest, Trouble Will Find Me, mixed with songs from their previous two records, High Violet and Boxer. Playing “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” “Mistaken for Strangers” and “Sea of Love” (before which they facetiously said, “We’ve played 35 venues in this city, and it’s great to be back here where it all started”), the National proved to be in sharp and slicing form, tumbling tom-tom drums colliding with Matt Berninger’s graveled baritone. The quintet then performed “Sorrow,” which they “knew better than any other” song, after playing it for six straight hours straight as performance art at MoMA PS1 just a few weeks ago. Somewhere someone bit into an artisanal sausage and washed it down with an IPA just as the song about being absolutely miserable forever rang through the rafters. It was Brooklyn, old and new, misery and joy, on display in the same moment for the band, clad in black and backed by a string and horn section.

Following a run of “Squalor Victoria” and “I Need My Girl,” the National ripped through “Graceless,” the down-tempo “Pink Rabbits” and “England.” The crowd waited for one of the five-piece’s signature tunes and perhaps the night’s defining moment, “Fake Empire,” a song ostensibly about the terrible mistakes of the second Bush administration but could just as easily have been applied to the coterminous power and hypocrisy of Brooklyn’s rise to cultural prominence. The band and their fans sang the title lyric with real vigor, staying out sort of late on a weeknight in the moment when Brooklyn found nothing left to do or prove. —Geoff Nelson

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

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The National Hit the Big Time Tonight at Barclays Center

June 5th, 2013

The National are on a hot streak. But wait, let’s take a step back first. Although frontman Matt Berninger, guitarists Aaron and Bryce Dessner, drummer Bryan and bassist Scott Devendorf first began making music together in Cincinnati, upon relocating to our fair city, they’ve become the quintessential New York City band—appearing at Mercury Lounge more than 10 times, playing the first shows at both Music Hall of Williamsburg and Terminal 5, and doing an exceptional residency at the Beacon Theatre. And while their first four albums are beloved, it was their fifth, High Violet, which started to gain them more recognition. And now, back to that hot streak: On May 20th, the quintet performed “Don’t Swallow the Cap” on Late Show with David Letterman, above, the night before their sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me (stream it below), was released to near universal acclaim. The band celebrated its release the next day with three intimate shows, capped off by another appearance at a very sold-out Mercury Lounge. The buzz built even further with the National’s festival-closing performance at the inaugural Boston Calling the following weekend. And now they’ve officially hit the big time as the Brooklyn band plays the biggest venue in that borough, Barclays Center, tonight. Not only shouldn’t you miss it, but you should also arrive early enough to see Youth Lagoon.