Tag Archives: Crab Day

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Cate Le Bon Shows The Bowery Ballroom a Good Time

January 27th, 2017

Cate Le Bon – The Bowery Ballroom – January 26, 2017

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Welsh musician Cate Le Bon has a unique sound—a voice not unlike the rich throb of Nico’s, with the addition of some amped-up exuberance and a penchant for jangly guitars. Last night at The Bowery Ballroom, Le Bon and her band brought a focused energy to their performance, highlighting songs from 2016’s Crab Day, as well as crowd-pleasing material from its predecessor, Mug Museum.

Le Bon and her band’s precision and cohesion came through in particular during their version of Crab Day’s “How Do You Know?” a song that culminated with the singer-songwriter staring out at the crowd, rhythmically nodding her head, almost robotically, to the beat, as she and her bandmates strummed a repeated riff, slowing down bit by bit. As the speed decreased, so too did Le Bon, mimicking a machine shutting down and eventually stopping, head and body limply hunched over her guitar. Moments later, she was suddenly upright again, launching into the jaunty “I Can’t Help You” and even letting out a few excited yelps at the end.

After performing some new material and bringing out the night’s opener (and Le Bon’s frequent musical collaborator), Tim Presley, to accompany the band on a few songs, Le Bon treated us to Mug Museum’s “Are You With Me Now?”—an eminently catchy crowd-pleaser that featured lovely backing harmonies from the band. It was a sweet nightcap, and if I had to answer the song’s question based upon crowd response, I’d give it a resounding yes: We are with you, Cate Le Bon. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK

 

 

 

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Cate Le Bon Harnesses Tension at Rough Trade NYC

May 6th, 2016

Cate Le Bon – Rough Trade NYC – May 5, 2016

Cate Le Bon – Rough Trade NYC – May 5, 2016
Cate Le Bon is an alt-folkie with an art-punk problem. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Or maybe it’s neither and that she’s sort of an outgrowth of ’60s psych pop with a generous helping of unknowable, but still accessible Nico-style experimental rock. Or maybe you’re already pigeonholing her. Genre smashing is itself a pigeonhole: It implies a sort of off-the-rails collision of ideas and splattering of preconceived notions of what an indie-rock or indie-pop act might sound like. And as you watch Le Bon strut her stuff—torture that guitar, head bang, smile mischievously, artfully tease her bandmates in a faux flirty way—there’s no question she’s not only not off the rails, but of course well in command of whatever you call this, which can be poppy or delicate, sweet or tangy, angst-y or gnarly, but is definitely rock and roll with a touch of cultured madness.

Two of the songs late in her hour-long set last night at Rough Trade NYC, “Cuckoo Through the Walls” and “What’s Not Mine,” ended with protracted excursions, Crazy Horse–style peels of guitar noise and screwy-sounding sonic effects that Le Bon appeared lost in, and then smiled about, resolving guitar chaos into calm, goosing the audience that it was OK to look up from the bliss and applaud. Le Bon’s performance—including her usual three-person backing band mixing drums, percussion, basses, guitars and keys—was organized around the just-released Crab Day, perhaps her most complete expression yet in album form. So many of its songs, including that scraped-beautiful “What’s Not Mine” and its stabbing beat, the chilly “Wonderful,” the remorseful “Love Is Not Love” and the psychedelic and sinister “We Might Revolve,” find her not so much battling demons as trying to rationalize a whole set of wrongs and disappointments—trying to take the high road regarding certain problems, but maybe struggling to hold back the feral-cat anger, too.

The album sits on that tension, but Cate Le Bon the live show harnesses it, and you feel it in every song. That’s not to say she’s overwhelmingly heavy, either. Most of her songs feel like flexible things built to be stretched a bit. And where the band really connects isn’t in overindulged jamband-style progressions or endless build, build, build—that wouldn’t suit them—but in those snatches of improvisation and moments when it yields to a throbbing rhythm and the glory of a guitar squall, with or without Le Bon’s solemn, dark-tunnel vocals soaring above. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson

Photos courtesy of Silvia Saponaro | www.saponarophotography.com

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Cate Le Bon Previews New Music at The Bowery Ballroom

April 12th, 2016

Cate Le Bon – The Bowery Ballroom – April 11, 2016

Cate Le Bon – The Bowery Ballroom – April 11, 2016
Cate Le Bon’s new album, Crab Day, doesn’t come out until Friday, but she gave The Bowery Ballroom a special Monday night preview of it, playing the whole thing straight through. Banana, who would also serve as her backing band, opened the show. She sat in with them as they played a set of lovely instrumentals: neat baubles of melody mixing the traditional guitar, bass, drums with marimbas and clarinet. Before they returned to the stage, a short film that combined the truly weird (like bare-feet-squashing-overripe-pomegranates weird) with some seriously groovy backing music written by Le Bon, played for the audience. At nearly 15 minutes, it was just long enough to make you feel uncomfortable, which seemed to serve its purpose.

Groovy, but slightly, delightfully weird, would be a good way to describe the set that followed. The opening number, the album’s title track, had a pulsing, inescapable rhythm that permeated the entire show, getting the crowd moving yet keeping everyone just off-kilter the entire night. Le Bon and Banana wore identical headgear—knit sun hats that looked almost like the ones French schoolgirls might wear in children’s books. But beneath the colored lights, they seemed to each fluoresce with a unique pastel glow, adding a beautiful quality to the already familiar-but-alien music. On songs like “Find Me,” Le Bon was a Welsh hybrid of David Byrne and Syd Barrett, the band swirling Eno-infused Talking Heads rhythms with a touch of surrealism.

With their multi-instrumentalism, Banana were a flexible counter to Le Bon’s otherworldly voice and off-center guitar playing. After announcing the start of “side two,” the ensemble seemed to go in for the kill, building on the grooves of the first half with a cool, long halftime Afrobeat outro on “How Do You Know?” and a shredding guitar jam from Le Bon on the set-closing “What’s Not Mine.” The encore featured three songs off of 2013’s Mug Museum with a more jagged punk sound that gave a different feel than the new material. It’s good to have both sounds in the bag and while Crab Day is still fresh off the presses, you can only imagine what’s next up for Cate Le Bon. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Photos courtesy of Nick Delisi | www.nickdelisi.com

(Cate Le Bon plays Rough Trade NYC on 5/5, and tickets go on sale tomorrow at noon.)