Tag Archives: Benjamin Curtis


…And You Know Us by the Trail of Dead Revisit Iconic Album

March 31st, 2014

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – The Bowery Ballroom – March 29, 2014

(Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

(Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

What’s more important for bands, their recordings or their performances? Fortunately for those who like to have their cake and eat it too, we live in a world where you can experience both. On Saturday night at The Bowery Ballroom, …And You Know Us by the Trail of Dead performed their pivotal 2002 release, Source Tags & Codes, in its entirety. And the album sounds as fresh today as the day it was released. In hindsight, the LP feels like a statement of what rock music could be in a year when most of it sucked (for those curious, the top-selling rock album of 2002 was Creed’s Weathered).

Bruce Springsteen said that the first time he heard “Like a Rolling Stone,” the song’s opening snare hit sounded “like somebody’d kicked open the door to your mind.” Well the first track on Source Tags & Codes, “It Was There That I Saw You,” sounds like someone taking down that same door with a machine gun. With its dual barrage of snare hits and guitar, the song introduces an energy that doesn’t really let up over the course of the entire album—it’s an energy that grabs a listener by the throat. Most of the audience was getting tossed around like this was the case, like the pure energy of the music blew through the venue and took out large swaths of the audience with it. The hardcore-inspired “Homage” drew Jason Reece from the drums to frontman responsibilities. Yelling into the crowd through a microphone, he eventually somehow began crowd surfing, falling into the audience like he was sucked into a vortex of his own creation.

Three out of four of the band members are listed as drummers, which must play some role in their music, because the album—as a whole, as much as the songs individually—builds up through their rhythm. Like on “Relative Ways,” the buildup didn’t really head toward the song’s climax, instead it was the climax. And while the entirety of Source Tags & Codes was the night’s main event, the album took up only a little over half of the show. So the band also played through a grab bag of hits from later albums, including “Mistakes & Regrets,” “Will You Smile Again?” and “Caterwaul.” There was also an unreleased new tune, dedicated to their friend Benjamin Curtis, the guitarist from the band School of Seven Bells who passed away in December, simply written on their set list as “Bells.” But the show’s final number was Trail of Dead’s first song off their debut release, the aptly named “Richter Scale Madness.” —Dan Rickershauser



Exclusive Video: School of Seven Bells in a Model Shop

November 26th, 2012

School of Seven Bells’ third album, Ghostory, which BBC Music calls “staggeringly beautiful,” oozes with confident yet minimalist arrangements, crafted by singer Alejandra Deheza and guitarist-producer Benjamin Curtis, now a duo (in the studio, at least) following the departure of Deheza’s twin sister, Claudia. Here, with a little help, they play “Scavenger” surrounded by mannequins in an NYC model-form shop, exclusively for The Bowery Presents Live channel on YouTube.

Deheza and Curtis found liberation in the new lineup, and that adventurousness permeates Ghostory. The two discuss their collaborative spirit in the studio and the artistic statement they were trying to make. Watch the interview: http://tbp.im/V8M1YI. And subscribe to The Bowery Presents Live for more intimate performances and revealing interviews like these, plus the latest info on our upcoming live-streaming shows.

(School of Seven Bells—and Twin Sister—play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wednesday.)


School of Seven Bells (Sort of) Celebrate a New Release

February 29th, 2012

School of Seven Bells – Mercury Lounge – February 28, 2012

Mercury Lounge is too small a venue to contain the School of Seven Bells’ expansive sound. With sprawling guitar melodies reminiscent of shoegazers My Bloody Valentine, the band’s very first instrumental almost knocked all the air out of the place as if there weren’t enough room for anything other than their colossal sound. After years of almost nonstop touring, as a group and opening for Interpol, School of Seven Bells have their live sound remarkably tight. There was no squeak or sound that wasn’t exactly where it belonged.

In a 2008 interview with NPR, lead singer Alejandra Deheza described how the band writes songs the opposite way of most others, starting with the lyrics and writing a song around them. The unusual creative process shows in the final product. It’s almost as if each song crafts its own unique world for Deheza’s voice and lyrics to call home. With her gold jewelry, dangling earrings and jet-black hair, Deheza looked almost like Cleopatra. Yet onstage she remained modestly elegant, never trying to take the spotlight from any other band member. She did that with her voice, one that’s gentle yet assertive and cuts through everything else.

Last night at Mercury Lounge marked the official release of the School of Seven Bells’ third full-length album, Ghostory, a special occasion guitarist Benjamin Curtis only really hinted at throughout the show before humbly stating, “We had a record come out today” during their encore, as though it were an afterthought. And with a set list sampling from all three of their albums, the set was not by any means an “album-release party.” Why let anything else be the highlight of the show when the music’s so good? —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com