Tag Archives: Capitol Theatre

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A Modest Mouse Lovefest at the Capitol Theatre

August 6th, 2014

Modest Mouse – Capitol Theatre – August 5, 2014

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

A love for Modest Mouse is one that runs deep. My own unscientific assessment of this leads me to believe that an unusually high percentage of the band’s fans also have Modest Mouse tattoos. And at the earliest indicators that the group was about to take the Capital Theatre stage last night—as the road crew wrapped up tuning guitars, the house lights dimming—just about everyone in the building screamed at the top of their lungs. That screaming would carry on for the rest of the night. Most artists tend to see their muse as something external, but Isaac Brock’s seems to live in his belly. It’s as if he’d swallowed his muse whole many years ago, and it’s been trying to fight its way out ever since. It’s a battle that seems to take place as he performs: As “King Rat” began, Brock countered with his signature howls of “Well!” like the muse was acknowledging its creation.

It’s been five years since Modest Mouse have released new music, and while there were some new songs sprinkled into the two-hour set (previously played “Sugar Boats” and “Lampshades on Fire”), the night was mostly a nonstop Modest Mouse retrospective. With a touring band up to eight, possibly nine members, songs weren’t spared a single sonic embellishment. Some even ended up sounding more polished than when they were first recorded. With three people covering percussion, “Bukowski” took on an almost-marching-song tempo. An added string arrangement on “Cowboy Dan” made an already epic song that much more colossal.

The set featured practically the entirety of Good News for People Who Love Bad News, in addition to old favorites like “3rd Planet,” “Out of Gas” and “A Different City.” At about the moment when you might have thought, “Have they left any time for an encore?” the band left the stage but returned to play through six more, “Black Cadillacs,” “Wild Pack of Family Dogs,” “Broke,” “Paper Thin Walls,” “Fly Trapped in a Jar” and “Spitting Venom,” with hardly any breaks between them. With too many great songs to choose from, Modest Mouse did their damnedest to squeeze in as many as possible. How they’ll pull this off when a new album is added into the mix will certainly be a challenge, so better see them before it comes out. Or just see them then, too. A Modest Mouse love knows no bounds. —Dan Rickershauser

 

 

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Phil Lesh and Friends Freely Jamming Without Ego at Capitol Theatre

April 11th, 2014

Phil Lesh and Friends – Capitol Theatre – April 10, 2014

phil_bass_roses4
Phil Lesh treats his band’s lineups much like the jams those groups end up playing: There are (probably) themes, riffs and improvisations underlying some grand design. Of course, some work better than others and stick together longer, but in the end, most of them deliver. This week at the Capitol Theatre, Lesh seems to have once again found magic, this time with his current group of Friends, running the gamut from Jackie Greene’s soulful, smooth vocals and blues-rock guitar to Marco Benevento’s indie-pop groove jazz keyboards to John Kadlecik’s singing and guitar playing, which ooze the Grateful Dead ethos for which Lesh continues to be the standard bearer. Bill Evans, who drifted on- and offstage at a rate of about every other song, added a saxophone to the mix. In between, Lesh and drummer Joe Russo formed a two-man Rosetta Stone, deciphering, decoding and interpreting so that the musical conversation formed a coherent dialogue.

Last night, the band got off to a rollicking start with the crowd favorite “Truckin’.” There were notable solos galore, too many to catalog, although I will note that Benevento particularly shined on the keys, which, in Lesh’s band, often has trouble finding moments in such a heavy guitar-bass-drums environment. Throughout the night, there were subtle pairings of musicians, conscious couplings with, for example, Benevento bantering with Kadlecik or the two guitars playing off each other. But the best parts were when everyone melded into a single entity, freely jamming without ego. There were two such moments in the first set, first a gorgeous, atmospheric noodle coming out of a cover of former-Friend Ryan Adams’ “Let It Ride.” The second was a highlight improv in the middle of “Cassidy,” spontaneous composition without a net

Often the best Grateful Dead moments weren’t the songs, but rather the spaces in between them, with the jam dividing “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider” a favorite historical example. On Thursday, Lesh took this to the extreme, placing not just a big jam in between those two songs, but the entire set. It was like looking at your fingernail beneath a microscope and discovering an altogether new universe. Along the way, the band hit on many themes and genres. There was the funk chunk of “Shakedown Street” led by Lesh’s elegant bass playing, with Greene eventually leading the band to an impromptu vamp on the Meters’ “Cissy Strut” and then a fantastic slide-guitar solo. There was the catchall rocker “New Speedway Boogie,” which contained its own multitudes, jams within jams, everyone getting their chance at the wheel. The high-paced “Caution” had Lesh and Russo banging out the theme while Greene did his best Pigpen imitation. The set ended in grand fashion, “Caution” leading into a charged version of the Dead’s take on “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” Kadlecik shining as he did all night, before the band moved into a wonderful “Terrapin Station,” Russo taking complete control of the Dead opus. Finally, the show closed with the predetermined sing-along “I Know You Rider,” like a wanderer returning from a journey around the world, none the worse for wear. —A. Stein

(Jackie Greene and Rich Robinson play Webster Hall on 6/15.)

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Two Nights with Galactic This Weekend

February 13th, 2014

NOLA-based instrumental-funk outfit Galactic are bringing their shake-your-hips music our way this weekend. Although they began as an eight-piece with Theryl DeClouet (House Man) as their singer, over the years, they’ve paired down to five and parted ways with DeClouet. But no doubt, they still bring the funk: Witness their most recent album, the Mardi Gras–themed Carnivale Eletricos (stream it below). Of course, when Galactic (above, doing “Dolla Diva” with Maggie Koerner) come to play it’s rarely alone, and this visit is no different: They’ll feature talented New Orleans singer Maggie Koerner, and they’ll be joined by the blues-funk-rock-soul group JJ Grey & Mofro (below, doing “Brighter Days”). And the good news is that you’ve got two chances to check out this fantastic lineup, tomorrow at the Capitol Theatre and on Saturday at Terminal 5.

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The Pixies Are Still the Real Deal

January 21st, 2014

Pixies – the Capitol Theatre – January 19, 2014

(Photo: Charles Steinberg)

With interruptions and turbulence a regularity throughout the Pixies’ nearly 30-year history, the group has reunited to tour in recent years, reinforcing their influence and affirming their legacy. And on Sunday night at the Capitol Theatre, they put on a retrospective show that ran the gamut of their visceral and bizarrely seductive collection of punky, surf-rock hits. Not much has changed in their approach to playing music since their mid-’80s beginnings. The raw scraped-knee energy is still intact, and so are frontman Black Francis’s agonized vocals, which spar with and then soften to linger over Joey Santiago’s shrill guitar textures. Drummer David Lovering still reliably supplies the amplification, together with new bass player Paz Lenchantin, who slid in seamlessly.

Of course the no-nonsense attitude is still central. The Pixies eschew aura and flair. Dressed in black and lit from behind, they punched out songs with restrained angst, letting the weight of their music take center stage. Toeing the line between atonal cacophony and loose, twangy melodies, the comprehensive set included all of the songs that have defined the Pixies. Classics like “Bone Machine” and “Wave of Mutilation” got the crowd involved early, and after mixing in a couple of new songs, the band geared up for the heart of the show. “Carribou” elicited bellows from the crowd singing along in fervor, which continued into the chorus-driven “Here Comes Your Man.” During “Vamos,” Santiago indulged in a full-on guitar monologue, punctuating and interjecting the steady, up-tempo drum rhythm with shredding, discordant flourishes.

Attention and anticipation built with each song, and in a stroke of calculated brilliance, the performance entered the final act with the epic “Where Is My Mind” and concluded with “Gouge Away,” making a sudden stylistic transition into the scintillating “Debaser.” Throughout their tight professional delivery, there remained a rough rehearsal element that has long marked the Pixies’ style and has always appealed to a large portion of their fan base. But most of all, they proved to be the genuine article. In the current alternative-rock climate of new bands coming and going, searching for identity, the Pixies are a true example to follow. They stepped up and laid it down, showing how it’s done: no fuss, no introduction needed, confident of the path they’ve paved. —Charles Steinberg

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Joe Russo’s Almost Dead: The Legend Grows

December 30th, 2013

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – the Capitol Theatre – December 27, 2013

(Photo: Scott Harris)

Last January, NYC drummer Joe Russo gathered some of his best friends for a one-off night of Grateful Dead music at Brooklyn Bowl. It seemed like a lark: buddies riffing on Dead tunes. But it just so happens that Russo’s friends—Tom Hamilton, Scott Metzger, Marco Benevento and Dave Dreiwitz—are also some of the best musicians in the city, and the gig, billed as Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, became the stuff of legend before you could say, “What a long strange trip it’s been.” Naturally, an encore performance was in order, and the long-awaited second gig on the much grander, steeped-in-Dead-history stage of the Capitol Theatre took place on Friday night. Expectations were obviously higher, but in the end, I think, the legend only grew.

It seems impossible to say this, considering that the raison d’être of the Grateful Dead canon is loose improvisation and noodling jams, but JRAD stretched and explored the repertoire like few have. The marathon two-set show stripped off layers and layers of old fraying wallpaper from the catalog, sandpapered through coats of paint and found the raw surface of the music. From the ripping, rocking opening couplet of “Cream Puff War” > “Truckin’” to the lilting melody of “Row Jimmy” to the split-level groove of “Shakedown Street,” JRAD proved to be expert innovators. With these guys, familiarity breeds content: They’ve played countless gigs together in various permutations and it showed as jams zigzagged across multiple themes with ease. From behind the kit, Russo controlled the action, pushing and pulling his pals in various directions, letting things drift into uncharted waters and then bringing back the energy into focus. Hamilton shone on guitar and lead vocals, charging through jams and singing with a comfortable confidence.

Of course any Deadhead worthy of the tie-dye on his back knows the real action is in the second set. JRAD did not disappoint, opening with a racing wet-noodle jam before breaking into the fan-favorite pairing of “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire on the Mountain.” Dreiwitz bounded through the bass parts here, one foot in Phil Lesh’s shoes, the other firmly anchored in his more familiar, ragged rock-out roots. Metzger, Hamilton and Benevento were mouse, cat and dog, chasing one another through multiple levels of jamming, half homage, half sledgehammer. The set was one jaw-dropping jam after another, peaking with an ambitious rendering of the full “Terrapin Station” suite. With classic skeleton-and-roses iconography spiraling across the Cap’s ceiling, the band raised “just some friends hanging out” to an art form, perfectly hitting every subtle change and movement of the suite while still taking it to new, exciting places. Just like the Dead would’ve done after a superlative show like that, JRAD encored with the heartfelt harmonies of “Brokedown Palace,” Russo and Co. proving they can match the soulful depths of the source material as well as the ecstatic peaks. And as they wished the audience a “fare you well,” we could only guess when these pals would get together next, hoping they’d be kind enough to invite the rest of us. —A. Stein

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We’ve Got You Covered on Halloween

October 30th, 2013

Let’s face it: Halloween is one of the biggest amateur nights of the year. So rather than trying to fight your way through a parade or going to a costume party surrounded by people who think they’re supposed to drink as much as they possibly can, let us do the heavy lifting for you, because we’ve got five stellar shows on All Hallows’ Eve. Grateful Dead guitarist Phil Lesh brings his traveling group of Friends—guitarists Grahame Lesh, Anders Osborne and Luther Dickinson, keyboardist Jason Crosby and drummer Tony Leoneto the Capitol Theatre; New York City’s own Holy Ghost! bring their post-disco dance party to Terminal 5; Avan Lava, mixing electronic music, rock and R&B, will have the Music Hall of Williamsburg crowd moving in unison; another hometown band, post-punk five-piece Crystal Stilts, will think global and rock local at The Bowery Ballroom; and taking a break from playing Madison Square Garden, English crooner Ed Sheeran (above, performing “Wake Me Up” for Live from the Artists Den) plays Mercury Lounge. Tickets for that show go on sale—only online—tomorrow at noon.

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The Black Crowes Kick Off Eight Shows Tonight

October 18th, 2013

The Black Crowes first gained fame with their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, and despite some turnover—especially at the lead-guitar position, now filled out by Jackie Greene—they’re still going strong as a finely tuned touring machine 23 years later. But another hiatus is in the not-too-distant future for frontman Chris Robinson, rhythm guitarist Rich Robinson, drummer Steve Gorman, bassist Sven Pipien, keyboardist Adam MacDougall and Greene. But before they go away, the Black Crowes (above, performing “Sting Me”) are coming back to town for eight shows with special guests galore. The six-piece will play acoustic shows at the Capitol Theatre, tonight and tomorrow with John Fullbright, and Monday and Tuesday with Justin Townes Earle. (Plus legendary bluegrass mandolinist Sam Bush will sit in at three shows, while jack-of-all-trades multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell will guest at all four.) The Crowes will then go electric at Terminal 5, on 10/24 with Ray Wylie Hubbard, on 10/26 with the Blind Boys of Alabama, on 10/27 with Dr. John & the Nite Trippers and on 10/29 with Maceo Parker. Get involved.

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Don’t Miss Silversun Pickups on Monday at the Capitol Theatre

August 2nd, 2013

Brian Aubert (vocals and guitar), Chris Guanlao (drums), Joe Lester (keys and samples) and Nikki Monninger (bass and vocals) knew one another from playing in various L.A. bands before forming Silversun Pickups there in 2002. Their layered melodies and spellbinding dreamy pop immediately drew comparisons to My Bloody Valentine and the Smashing Pumpkins with the release of their debut EP, Pikul, in 2005. They’ve remained busy touring and recording music ever since. Their third studio album, the well-received Neck of the Woods (stream it below), came out last year, and Silversun Pickups (above, performing “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” for Minnesota Public Radio) are back out on the road. See them on Monday night at the Capitol Theatre.

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Phil Lesh and Friends Captivate the Capitol Theatre

July 24th, 2013

Phil Lesh and Friends – the Capitol Theatre – July 23, 2013


Phil Lesh and Friends makes it sound so benign, like a group of toddlers on a play date. Phil Lesh and Conspirators might better describe the guerrilla warfare that Lesh & Co. inflicted on the Grateful Dead canon in the second of two sold-out shows last night at the Capitol Theatre. For 15 years, Lesh has played off and on in this format with a rotating cast of jam-worthy musicians, and the current incarnation features John Scofield and John Kadlecik on guitars, John Medeski on keys and Joe Russo on drums. It’s a classic Lesh band: it might make you wonder how the pieces are going to fit, but when the music starts, you appreciate how everyone brings a vital piece to the group. The song-oriented first set provided plenty of opportunities for the packed house of Deadheads to sing along. The set closed with a “Box of Rain,” which took the touching ballad to all sorts of interesting places, Medeski charging ahead on organ and Scofield cascading down while Kadlecik raced to crescendo.

Of course, every Dead fan knows it’s all about the second set, and last night’s was no exception, with top-notch song selection, lengthy full-band improvisations in unlikely places and surprise segue pairings. The band opened with “Here Comes Sunshine,” which found each member playing in constant, relentless jamming, Scofield looking one pointy hat short of a full-fledged wizard as he led the way through more than 20 minutes of major-key majesty. The second set was largely triangular, rotating threesomes locking into themes both acute and obtuse before the rest of the quintet found their way in. The “Sunshine” outro jam found Russo, Lesh and Medeski kicking into a funkier, up-tempo jam, Russo finally exploding into a superlative arena-rock drum lesson that finally settled with the whole band into the classic “Uncle John’s Band” riff. Longtime fan-favorite “St. Stephen” featured a rollicking Kadlecik-led jam with Lesh and Russo providing backup and eventually devolved into a noise thing, equally free-form and funky.

For me, the set’s highlight was “Mountains of the Moon,” a soothing psychedelic ballad that unleashed multiple viral forays, notes multiplying exponentially with everyone fully locked into the ever-changing melodies until Lesh impossibly reined in everyone for another verse before repeating the process all over again, while moonscapes were projected onto the Capitol’s walls and ceiling. This perfectly transitioned into “Fire on the Mountain,” with huge solos from Scofield and Medeski. The set finished with a pair of cover tunes that the Dead made their own, a stunningly gorgeous “Morning Dew” followed by a straightforward, rollicking “I Know You Rider.” It took Phil and his Friends all of seven songs to traverse 80-plus minutes of time, deftly maneuvering through themes and melodies all the while, reconstructing and rediscovering the Grateful Dead catalog as only Lesh can. With a swinging-Russo-beat encore of “They Love Each Other,” the show came to an end: mission accomplished for the conspirators and their fearless leader. —A. Stein

 

 

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Melissa Etheridge – Capitol Theatre – July 16, 2013

July 17th, 2013


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

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A Simple Twist of Fate

July 1st, 2013

David Byrne and St. Vincent – The Capitol Theatre – June 29, 2013


Do you believe in fate? For me, a series of chance encounters over the years has led to a live performance by the collaborative pair David Byrne and St. Vincent. Back in May 2009, I spotted Byrne in the rafters of Webster Hall enjoying Annie Clark’s guitar prowess in support of her sophomore release, Actor. Fast-forward two years, the starstruck folks ahead of me in line for a James Blake show at Le Poisson Rouge were gushing about a walk-by encounter with Byrne and Clark. And Saturday night at the grand Capitol Theatre, a belated musical date started with the delicate chirping of birds welcoming audience members to their seats and spotlights framing several brass instruments strewn across the stage.

Filing in, a noticeably blonde Clark joined a headset-donning Byrne as horns blared on the opening number, “Who.” The evening intermixed songs from their joint effort, Love This Giant, with Talking Heads and St. Vincent standards. Heavily produced with playful choreography by Annie-B Parson, the brass band along with Byrne formed lines as if ready for a roll call on “Weekend in the Dust.” Clark spent most of her time shimmying back and forth across the open floor, toting her electric guitar. Byrne offered his own dance moves with some soft-shoe on “I Am an Ape.” As if stripped from the trash-compactor scene in Star Wars, Clark was walled in by the band moving dangerously closer and closer as she sang-spelled, “H-E-L-P, Help me, help me” on the strobe-light-inducing “Marrow.”

Byrne ditched his blazer to reveal suspenders on “Ice Age” and demonstrated his skills on the bugle. He called on Clark to join him front and center for “Like Humans Do,” to which she jokingly inquired, “What did we win?” But in all seriousness upon concluding “Lightning,” she sincerely remarked, “We’re superglad to be here.” And judging from the vocal responses from the crowd, so were those in attendance. Byrne revealed that “Wild Wild Life” was originally written for a video karaoke contest before everyone in the band joined in on the Talking Heads favorite, each singing a line from the song. For more fun, everyone but Clark lay down on the stage as she slowly crooned “Cheerleader.” Later she would battle against Byrne playing the theremin on “Northern Lights.” And saving the best for last, the pair returned for not one, but two encores, treating the audience to “Cruel,” “Burning Down the House,” “The Party” and “Road to Nowhere.” —Sharlene Chiu

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Two Chances to See David Byrne and St. Vincent

June 11th, 2013

It’s a word that’s used far too much, and all too often when it doesn’t really apply. But there’s no way around it: David Byrne is a genius—first as the frontman of the groundbreaking Talking Heads and then as a solo artist, record-label head, producer, artist, writer and director. It basically comes down to this: If David Byrne’s doing something, you should be paying attention. His newest endeavor finds him teamed up with singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark (better known as St. Vincent). Their album, the highly acclaimed Love the Giant (stream it below) came out last September, followed by a short tour. But fortunately for us, the collaboration turned out not to be a one-off. Because the two (above, performing “I Should Watch TV” on Late Show with David Letterman) recently released a free EP, Brass Tactics—highlighted by a terrific live version of “Road to Nowhere”—and are now back out on the road again. See them tomorrow at The Wellmont Theatre, and then again at The Capitol Theatre on 6/29.

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Weird Al Yankovic – The Capitol Theatre – June 2, 2013

June 3rd, 2013



Photos courtesy of Greg Notch | notch.org

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Billy Idol – The Capitol Theatre – May 31, 2013

June 3rd, 2013


Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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Iron & Wine – Beacon Theatre – May 14, 2013

May 15th, 2013


Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com

(Iron & Wine play the Capitol Theatre on Sunday, 5/19.)