Tag Archives: Brooklyn

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Hamilton Leithauser’s Remarkable Friday Night in Williamsburg

February 27th, 2017

Hamilton Leithauser – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 24, 2017

Hamilton Leithauser – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 24, 2017
Call it New York City’s other sold-out Hamilton show, although this one showcases not a rapping founding father but one of the best voices in rock right now, the strained high range of Hamilton Leithauser’s, which will catch you off guard with its sheer power. “I use the same voice I always had,” he belted out in the closing lines of “Sick as a Dog,” the opener on Friday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. It was the first display of his voice in full force, firing off like the starting pistol for a remarkable night of music, the second of three local sold-out shows. Multi-instrumentalist and collaborator Rostam Batmanglij, Eric Harvey of Spoon, Greg Roberts and Stephen Patterson of White Rabbits—whom Leithauser had met touring over the years with his previous band, the Walkmen—joined the frontman.

They sounded like they’ve been playing together forever, a band perfectly suited for Leithauser and Batmanglij’s bluesy rock songs that fit perfectly well within the American songwriting canon. “If the man that you need honestly wasn’t me, tell me honey who could that be?” sang Leithauser in a desperate pleading voice over a wavering organ. With its lush sound, his 12-string took the slow-building “In a Black Out” from simmer to a boil and back to a simmer. He told the audience a story about attending a wedding where the father of the bride made a toast and broke out into “Wild Mountain Thyme.” Apparently an awkward affair for everyone else at the wedding, Leithauser fell for the guy in the moment, writing the tender song “The Bride’s Dad” from the father’s perspective. Knowing the song’s background set an incredibly vivid scene of the affair.

The catchy “1,000 Times” followed with hundreds of voices joining in for the chorus. Free-jazz saxophone and Batmanglij’s piano rambling like a rolling river closed out the set with “Rough Going (I Won’t Let Up).” Leithauser’s wife, Anna Stumpf, and the opener, Lucy Dacus, came out for an encore performance of the dreamy “1959.” If the Walkmen were the first act of Leithauser’s career, this collaboration is a hell of a second act, one that shouldn’t see a curtain call anytime soon. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com

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Black Joe Lewis – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 22, 2017

February 23rd, 2017

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears - Music Hall of Williamsburg - February 22, 2017

Photos courtesy of Annie Kane | anniekane.work

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Khruangbin Get Spacey at Brooklyn Bowl on Wednesday Night

February 23rd, 2017

Khruangbin – Brooklyn Bowl – February 22, 2017

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NASA announced Wednesday that it had discovered seven new exoplanets, some of which could potentially sustain life. Is it a coincidence that on the very same day Khruangbin appeared in Brooklyn, laying down a set of their extraterrestrial grooves for a sold-out Brooklyn Bowl? Does seem suspicious. Looking otherworldly and playing music that might very well come from another solar system where love and peace reign supreme, the actually-from-Austin, Texas, trio were in fine form last night. From the opening slow funk of “August Twelve,” the crowd was locked in, beamed up into Khruangbin’s spaceship bathed in kaleidoscope hues, ready to be probed, prodded and fully funkified.

It’s no easy task to find a completely unoccupied space in the musical spectrum, but Khruangbin have always felt perfectly situated in a just-groovy-enough, not-too-loud/not-too-soft, not-too-fast/not-too-slow space that no one else seems to have discovered yet. On repeated trips back to New York City, each time hopping up a level in crowd size and intensity, the trio has found ways to shed their alien skin, revealing something more elaborate and exciting beneath. On Wednesday, guitarist Mike Speer was given room for hairier solos than the last few area gigs, drummer Donald Johnson Jr. and bassist Laura Lee showing tour-tested comfort in giving him full freedom to explore.

The set gained propulsive energy as it went along, mostly songs from their breakout album, The Universe Smiles Upon You, highlighted by the zigzag melodies of “People Everywhere (Still Alive)” and the out-of-plane weirdness of “Dern Kala.” In a room that can sometimes swallow the more subtle acts, Khruangbin were ferociously funky, overwhelming Brooklyn Bowl as if it were only a pit stop on the way to something bigger. Thankfully for the crowd, the band’s phasers were merely set to stun—because they might not be so lucky next time. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Lake Street Dive – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 21, 2017

February 22nd, 2017

Lake Street Dive - Music Hall of Williamsburg - February 21, 2017

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Ryan Adams Thrills at Intimate Rough Trade NYC Show

February 21st, 2017

Ryan Adams – Rough Trade NYC – February 18, 2017

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Ryan Adams celebrated the release of his new album, Prisoners, with an intimate, sold-out show on Saturday night at Rough Trade NYC. Without question, the LP’s subject matter is heavy—it’s a breakup album through and through, and some of the lyrics are stark and painful (“Feel like I’m heading for a breakdown”; “I’ve missed you so much I shiver and I shake”). At times, the juxtaposition of the smiling and swaying crowd with such downtrodden sentiments felt almost subversive. Yet, to watch Adams and his band tear through Prisoners songs like “Do You Still Love Me,” “Haunted House” and “Outbound Train,” it was clear that the music and performance were creating a cathartic way for Adams to continue his healing process.

There was still a feeling of joy in room despite the heavy subject matter, mitigated in part by the buoyant, dynamic music that refused to be dragged down by sadness, often stretching into freewheeling extended jams, peppered with Adams’ intricate guitar solos. He was also mindful to break up any lingering tension between songs, and when he noticed the crowd was very quiet after his rendition of “We Disappear,” the singer-songwriter joked to his band in a stage whisper, “What if they’re texting each other?”

In addition to the new material, Adams and Co. dipped into his prolific back catalog for the second half of the show, treating the crowd to a well-loved songs like “Peaceful Valley,” “Magnolia Mountain” and “Let It Ride,” all from the period during which Adams recorded with his band the Cardinals, as well as more recent material like “Kim,” “Dirty Rain” and “Shakedown on 9th Street.” By the night’s end—following a stunning, jammed-out “Cold Roses” closer—Adams had accomplished the feat of sharing some of his feelings of misery without letting them bring down the mood, and although the crowd may have left with a better understanding of his inner turmoil, there was also the larger sense that Adams will be OK because his music will continue to lift him up. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK

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Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears at Music Hall of Williamsburg

February 21st, 2017

Joe Lewis (guitar and vocals) was working in an Austin, Texas, pawnshop when he first picked up a guitar. He began playing around-town gigs as part of a blues trio, but, inspired by the likes of Lightnin’ Hopkins and Iggy Pop, his interests also included, rock, soul and R&B. So Lewis branched out musically and eventually started playing with different people. Then things clicked: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears—rounded out by Bill Stevenson (drums), Jason Frey (tenor sax), Derek Phelps (trumpet), Joseph Woullard (baritone sax) and Eduardo Torres (drums)—have a big, full sound, and so even the songs that are straight to the point, like “I’m Broke” or “Big Booty Woman,” will keep you moving. The Honeybears have earned comparisons to Stax Records groups—although keeping it local, they don’t sound too dissimilar from the Dap-Kings—and with his big, shouted vocals, Lewis’s name is mentioned alongside Wilson Pickett’s. After a four-year break, Lewis and Co. (above, performing “PTP” for KEXP FM) returned with their fifth album, Backlash (stream it below), two weeks ago. “There aren’t many acts out there throwing down with this kind of high-energy trashy intensity,” says American Songwriter. “For those unafraid to get the neighbors calling the cops during their next party, Lewis and his growling Honeybears bring the dangerous, hard-charging soul goods to tear the roof off the sucker.” See them do it live, tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Vampire Weekend drummer Chris Tomson’s Dams of the West open the show.

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Tash Sultana – Mercury Lounge – February 15, 2017

February 16th, 2017

Tash Sultana - Mercury Lounge - February 15, 2017
(Tash Sultana’s show at Rough Trade NYC tomorrow is sold out, but she returns to NYC to play The Bowery Ballroom on 10/2 and Music Hall of Williamsburg on 10/3.)

Photos courtesy of DeShaun Craddock | dac.photography

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Tash Sultana on 2/17

February 14th, 2017

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Australian singer-songwriter, guitarist and looping artist Tash Sultana plays twice in New York City this week, tomorrow at Mercury Lounge and on Friday at Rough Trade NYC. Both shows are already sold out, but The House List is giving away two tickets to her second appearance. Don’t have any and still want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Tash Sultana, 2/17) and a brief message explaining the best way to spend Sundays now that there’s no football. Eddie Bruiser, who’s got some time to kill, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

(Tash Sultana returns to NYC to play The Bowery Ballroom on 10/2 and Music Hall of Williamsburg on 10/3.)

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Gang of Youths Kick Off February Residency on Monday Night

February 10th, 2017

Although they hail from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and the United States, Max Dunn (bass), Jung Kim (guitar and keys), David Le’aupepe (vocals and keys), Joji Malani (guitar) and Donnie Borzestowski (drums) formed the baroque-pop five-piece Gang of Youths five years ago in Sydney. Rolling Stone called their first full-length, The Positions (stream it below)—a vivid celebration of life following some seriously dark times—an “emotionally charged debut” and made comparisons to Kings of Leon and Bruce Springsteen. Last year, Gang of Youths (above, performing “Poison Drum” for World Cafe) returned with the EP Let Me Be Clear (stream it below). “The expectation of a sophomore slump can be enough by itself to throw off the career of the most promising bands, and it would have been easy for Gang of Youths to keep churning out string-tinged rock songs,” according to Sputnik Music. “Instead … they’ve shown an insatiable thirst to keep building and transforming their sound.” Find out how they sound live when Gang of Horses play Mercury Lounge on 2/13 and 2/20 and Rough Trade NYC on 2/27.

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Shy Girls and Flamingosis End Tour at Music Hall of Williamsburg

February 8th, 2017

Dan Vidmar grew up in State College, Pa., and played in local rock bands while attending Penn State. Upon graduation, he moved to Portland, Ore., and became interested in what some call PBR&B. Some singles and a pair of EPs under the name Shy Girls led to collaborations and work with the likes of Haim, Odesza, Maxwell and Jagwar Ma. His first full-length, Salt (stream it below), arrived last month. “As soon as Dan Vidmar hits you with those soft falsettos, it’s all over,” says Nylon. “The album is soaking with smooth and sophisticated power ballads supported by a resilient force of production.”

Hailing from Morristown, N.J.—and influenced by the likes of J Dilla, Flying Lotus and vintage funk and disco—producer, beatboxer and DJ Aaron Velasquez makes funky hip-hop beats under the name Flamingosis (the name comes from a freestyle Frisbee move his dad invented). On his most recent release, last year’s Bright Moments (stream it below), he “flawlessy fuses hip-hop and funk,” according to Hype Beast. “The producer’s new album weaves smooth 1970s and 1980s samples into perfect grooves,” per MTV. Come shake your way into the weekend when Shy Girls and Flamingosis close out their tour on Friday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

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P.O.S Brings New Music to Rough Trade NYC and Mercury Lounge

February 6th, 2017

Rapper, singer, self-taught multi-instrumentalist and producer Stefon Alexander has been doing business as the punk-influenced underground hip-hop artist P.O.S in Minneapolis since around the turn of the century. He’s one of the founding members of hip-hop collective Doomtree, while also finding time to be part of a punk band, Building Better Bombs, and another Twin Cities collective, indie rockers Gayngs. Fortunately, P.O.S (above, performing “Sleepdrone” live in studio for KEXP FM) continues to do solo work. His fifth full-length studio album, Chill, Dummy (stream it below), which features guest vocals by Justin Vernon, came out at the end of January. A.V. Club calls it “a record about surviving, living and battling for every little thing you’ve got—something P.O.S knows his fair share about.” And Pitchfork says Alexander “is still all about his consciousness, and usefully motivated by anger. But on Chill, Dummy, he embraces a freed-up feel, with some grooves you might hear in a club.” Now out on the road, the lyrical bomb-thrower plays Rough Trade NYC tomorrow night and Mercury Lounge on Wednesday. Rappers Ceschi Ramos and Transit22 open both shows.

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The Chain Gang of 1974 Kick Off the Weekend at Rough Trade NYC

February 1st, 2017

After becoming heavily influenced by Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” DJ and multi-instrumentalist Kamtin Mohager launched the post-funk electronic-dance project the Chain Gang of 1974 about a decade ago, earning comparisons to Daft Punk, New Order and Passion Pit with the release of Wayward Fire (stream it below) in 2011—“A bright, hook-laden, bouncy affair that takes your face and rubs it in its subwoofer big beats,” according to PopMatters—and Daydream Forever (stream it below), which per AllMusic has “even more attention to hooks and beefed-up production that thickens the pop sheen with a heavy electronic backbone,” in 2014. With new music on the horizon, the Chain Gang of 1974 (above, performing “Sleepwalking”) play Rough Trade NYC on Friday night. Bel Heir, a Philly trio, open the show.

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Phox Say Goodbye (For Now) at Music Hall of Williamsburg

January 30th, 2017

Phox – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 28, 2017

(Photo: Sharon Vanorny)

(Photo: Sharon Vanorny)

Amidst an indie-pop music landscape saturated with bands, the Wisconsin-based Phox spent half of a decade delighting fans with their whimsical melodies. Ascending a stage at a local festival, Boo Bash, the members played for the first time in May 2011 for what they thought would be a one-off performance. From there they became the darlings of Baraboo, Wisc., releasing the Confetti EP in 2013 and then their self-titled full-length, recorded in Justin Vernon’s studio the following year. Last fall the band announced that members had agreed to take a “hiatus” to allow for other creative pursuits, from film to graphic novels. For the occasion, the quintet embarked on their Goodbye (For Now) tour, which rolled into a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night.

Taking the stage to an opening composed by guitarist Matthew Holmen, the five-piece filed in with their phoxy lead singer, Monica Martin, clad in a shoulder-baring black top and high-waisted acid-washed jeans. She quickly began with the breezy “Leisure,” and keyboardist Matteo Roberts offered his vocals on the opening of “1936” before Martin took back the reins. The crowd participated in a chorus of “Wah oh oh” on “Evil,” which wouldn’t be the only time audience erupted. A cadence of claps was inevitable during fan-favorite “Slow Motion,” and many joined in, singing, “Everything I do, I do in slow motion.” The evening spotlighted Martin, who recently recorded the hypnotic “Equal Powers” with Jeremy Larson’s Violents.

A solo section showcased new material, including a ballad entitled “Make Believe,” and another song served as a cautionary tale about road trips with strangers. The little-sung “Laura” was hard to perform in the past Martin confessed because it was about the relationship with her mother. Saving the best for last, Phox covered the rhythmic chords of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” and Holman offered a blistering guitar solo on “Noble Heart” to punctuate the set’s end. The band would return to encore with another cover. This time it was Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody.” The bittersweet farewell ended with “Espeon” dedicated to Martin’s younger sister in the audience. And as it neared midnight, fans left dreaming of Phox’s swift return in the (hopefully) near future. Sharlene Chiu

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Plaid – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 27, 2017

January 30th, 2017

Plaid - Music Hall of Williamsburg - January 27, 2017

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com

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Ryley Walker Doesn’t Waste Any Time at Rough Trade NYC

January 27th, 2017

Ryley Walker – Rough Trade NYC – January 26, 2017

(Art: Brian Blomerth)

(Art: Brian Blomerth)

Near the beginning of Ryley Walker’s show last night at Rough Trade NYC, he explained/joked/warned that half the price of the admission went toward getting to watch his “mental breakdowns.” The whole night was definitely a more-than-you-bargained-for show, but in altogether good ways. Things got started with J.R. Bohannon, who was referred to throughout the evening as “J.R.,” “John” and “Ancient Ocean.” Bohannon played both solo and accompanied by a mandolin player, using six-string and 12-string guitars as well as what I want to call a Dobro, to create gorgeous, amorphous instrumental exotica. Off-center tunings and doses of dissonance gave an otherworldly feel to the music, the guitars often feeling like ancient Asian equivalents. The middle set went to Sam Kogon who featured mostly material from his recently released Psychic Tears album. The set seemed like a musical time traveler, opening with an updated ’50s doo-wop and bouncing through the decades, offering up distorted ’80s New Wave and ’00s arty indie along the way. Propelled by the rhythm section, Kogon and his band built momentum, carving out their own musical space.

Opening with a long, fantastical jam equal parts airy and aggressive, Walker, backed by a second guitarist and a drummer, wasted no time finding the sweet spot. His playing had an avalanche effect: Each note seemed to chaotically gain more until an exponential torrent of acoustic guitar overwhelmed the room, Walker getting more out of his instrument than he seemed to be putting in. The opening half of the set featured multiple instrumental excursions, expertly centered on tour-tested songs, like “Primrose Green,” which served as an introduction to a furious guitars-and-drums rock-out. At one point, drummer Ryan Jewell moved to tablas, Walker moved to electric guitar, prompting a glorious drone raga with off-planet melodies striking the awestruck audience at oblique angles.

That jam eventually morphed into a free-ranging version of “Sullen Mind,” off last year’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung. The second half of the set focused on newer material, in between bouts of brutal hilarity from Walker, which helped the lyric “It’s not very fun being a fun person” pop out to me. He finished the night with a couple of solo acoustic numbers, reminding everyone that beneath the mind-bender guitar jams, is an accomplished songwriter. “Halfwit in Me” closed out things, feeling lush and complex, multiple melodies and structures layered on top of one another to create new patterns of guitar and voice. Much more than the audience had bargained for. —A. Stein | @Neddyo