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.
Tag Archives: Chris Tomson
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
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.
Tags: Barclays Center, Brian Chase, Chris Baio, Chris Tomson, Dave Sitek, Ezra Koenig, Har Mar Superstar, James Murphy, Karen O, LCD Soundsystem, Modern Vampires of the City, Nick Zinner, Paul Simon, Preview, Rostam Batmanglij, Sky Ferreira, Solange, Tom Petty, TV on the Radio, Vampire Weekend, Video, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
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