Tag Archives: Hammerstein Ballroom
Childish Gambino – Hammerstein Ballroom – March 29, 2014
Although he’s performed in big New York City venues before (SummerStage, Terminal 5), Donald Glover faced a new type of challenge at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday night for his rap act, Childish Gambino. Luckily for him, he’s no longer splitting time between his music and acting careers (his final episode on NBC’s Community aired early in the current season), allowing Glover to dive headlong into his musical creation. Gone are the days when he was recording short verses into a laptop over poor-quality samples and spreading them around to fans himself. Childish Gambino now has a life of his own, and it’s evident in the work that went into his most recent album, Because the Internet, which was released alongside a short film, a screenplay, and now a carefully and fairly elaborately produced live show with the Deep Web tour.
For most of the first half the show, a massive living-room scene was projected onto a white sheet at the back of the stage, while some fans sat on two couches on the stage riser beneath two massive chandeliers. Gambino relentlessly charged through much of Because the Internet, getting the biggest reactions on “3005” and “Worldstar.” Every few songs the stage went dark and a shifting geometric shape spun onscreen while a sort-of narration loosely linked together parts of the set, somewhat reminiscent of similar breaks in the action during Kanye West’s Yeezus tour. In fact, a lot Gambino’s show (and music) easily compares to West’s work, although Glover’s show only clocked in at about half the length of Kanye’s three-hour arena epics. But the biggest similarity might be that there’s always something more going on in between the lines, some deeper meaning that Gambino, like West, always wants to communicate to his fans.
As Glover repeatedly shouted the “Send them pics to my phone/ GPOY” conclusion of “Earth: The Oldest Computer,” one of the last tracks on Because, the previously static living-room scene onscreen crumbled into a bluish wormhole before reading “RESET.” After a beat, the stage essentially rebooted into a campfire scene, which was met by wild roars from the crowd as everyone in the room knew the rest of the night would feature songs from Gambino’s less elaborate but just as powerful debut, Camp. Even as now-old tracks like “Fire Fly” and “Bonfire” rattled the room, it was hard to not think that Camp was some sort of prologue to Gambino’s young career, and that Because the Internet— accompanied by the Deep Web tour—is really just the beginning. —Sean O’Kane
Photos courtesy of Mina K
Tags: Because the Internet, CAMP, Childish Gambino, Community, Donald Glover, Hammerstein Ballroom, Kanye West, Photos, Review, SummerStage, Terminal 5, Yeezus
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The multitalented Donald Glover returns to town as Childish Gambino for a sold-out show at Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday night. The House List is giving away two tickets, though, so if you originally got shut out on tickets, you just might be able to Grow a Pair of free ones. 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 (Childish Gambino, 3/29) and a brief message explaining why you’re so excited for April. Eddie Bruiser, whose mom was born in April, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Young the Giant – Hammerstein Ballroom – February 28, 2014
There are a lot of ways to recognize that a band’s popularity is on the rise, and many of them were on display during Young the Giant’s performance at Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday night. For starters, it was the first of two sold-out shows, which is always a good indicator of a group’s current reputation when dealing with a venue of that size. Secondly, despite nearly getting typecast as chill thanks to their self-titled debut album’s laid-back sound, the band inspired fans in the balcony to stand throughout show thanks to the more aggressive new material on Mind Over Matter.
The spontaneous sing-alongs that accompanied old and new songs alike, such as “Anagram,” “I Got” and “My Body,” rang so loud that the Hammerstein practically sounded like Madison Square Garden. And perhaps the purest indicator of a band on the rise: Some fans spent half the show incessantly waving homemade signs. But what made it so exciting to see Young the Giant at this particular moment in time was that while the different members were often as energetic as a young pop-punk band, their music was carefully constructed and uniquely melodic, with different time signatures sprinkled in—supporting intricate, cleaner-sounding guitar parts.
Even the Young the Giant songs that are supremely anthemic avoided being formulaic. And before the set closed, lead singer Sameer Gadhia reflected on their methodical path that had brought them here, saying it was “fucking surreal” to be playing the Hammerstein when just four years ago they were in New York City for the first time playing a cramped set at Pianos during CMJ. But if this weekend proved anything for the California quintet, it’s that they’ve got plenty of fans that are ready for whatever comes next. —Sean O’Kane
Two Door Cinema Club are coming to town later this week to play two sold-out shows at Hammerstein Ballroom on Thursday and Friday. The bad news is that tickets went fast. But the good news is that you’ve still got another chance to see the Northern Irish trio. All you have to do is to try to Grow a Pair of tickets from The House List. Just enter below for a chance to win, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Two Door Cinema Club, 10/11) and a brief message explaining who you want to win the World Series and why. Eddie Bruiser, whose favorite team isn’t in contention, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Thanks to their Mercury Award–winning debut album, An Awesome Wave, Alt-J quickly became very popular. So when the U.K. quartet announced their current North American tour—which brings them to town for a couple of weekend shows, on Saturday at Hammerstein Ballroom and on Sunday at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park—tickets went fast. But you’ve still got another chance because The House List is giving away two tickets to Sunday’s show. 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 (Alt-J, 9/15) and a brief message explaining what you most like about Alt-J. Eddie Bruiser, who would sincerely like to know, will notify the winner by Friday.
The xx – Hammerstein Ballroom – January 25, 2013
Both on record and during their live performances, London’s the xx have proved to be masters of dramatic tension. Although their music can be lush and layered, for the most part the band gives their songs room to breathe—spare guitar lines and plaintive vocals are followed by heavy pauses, and percussion often doesn’t kick in until mid-song. While this can be a potential test of patience on their records, live, the xx expertly play with these moments, building exhilarating tension as the crowd waits for that beat to kick in or that hook to start. Because of this, an xx show can feel like a well-executed tease.
At their sold-out show at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday night, the trio had the crowd in the palm of their hand from opening song “Angels”—performing the intro on a dark stage while obscured by a screen projected with abstract, shape-shifting images. As the beat kicked in, the screen dropped, revealing the black-clad band beneath three striking spotlights. But moments later, they were once again shrouded in darkness, and the song was over, like a sharp knife, expertly polished and leaving a clean cut.
The band performed a mix of newer songs from their 2012 album, Coexist, alongside crowd favorites like “VCR,” “Night Time” and “Crystalised” from their self-titled 2009 debut album. The moody, understated material and dim stage managed to create the intimate environment their music demands. The trio’s tunes have a subtle but undeniable inclination toward electronic music, and the dance breakdowns emphasized on songs like the steel drum–augmented “Reunion,” as well as “Night Time” and “Sunset,” contrasted the precise and exacting nature of the their music with moments of abandon and release. Of course, the xx were sure to cut off these uninhibited moments after not too long, always leaving us wanting more. —Alena Kastin
Band of Horses – Grand Ballroom/Hammerstein Ballroom – December 11, 2012
Before playing a monster two-hour set at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Band of Horses played an hour’s worth of acoustic material seven floors up in the Grand Ballroom. Not only was lead singer Ben Bridwell hell-bent on playing the band’s full catalog across the two shows, but he wasn’t shy about how shakily reformatted he thought some would sound when played acoustic. And while he prefaced almost every song with a quip about how unprepared they felt, that certainly didn’t affect the performances. With the fuzz of their electric guitars removed, the California (by way of South Carolina) band let their Southern influences show. Tracks like “Marry Song” saw Ryan Monroe substitute grand piano for the normal Fender Rhodes, and “Detlef Schrempf” had its delicate and reverberant guitar parts traded for sparkling acoustic guitar licks played by Bridwell and Tyler Ramsey.
It got even rarer with Bridwell’s solo performance of “St. Augustine,” but the band didn’t just stay slow the whole set. They tucked fan-favorite “The Funeral” into the latter half, and even pleased the obligatory guy in the crowd yelling for Skynyrd by figuring out “Simple Man” on the fly (and doing a pretty damn good job playing it). The show ended with the bouncy “The General Specific,” which got the sizable Grand Ballroom audience dancing in the aisles, in part thanks to the song, and in part because for most of them the night was far from over: They were about to head downstairs for round two.
Two-and-a-half hours later, Band of Horses churned through more than 60 minutes of material during their first electric set, as they covered songs that hadn’t been touched earlier. They reached deep into their bag early on for versions of “Part One” and “The First Song,” both from their first album, 2006’s Everything All the Time, and sprinkled in some new (the heavier, more straightforward “Dumpster World”) as Bridwell joked plenty about trying to remember some of the songs.
When the clock ticked just past midnight, the band took a break before returning for a second hour-long set, this time covering more of their newer material while also overlapping some of the old they had already played at the acoustic show, like “No One’s Gonna Love You.” The blended sets displayed everything the band has to offer, like their beautifully sweet vocal harmonies and slide guitar–tinged rock. But the night also showed off the group’s fun side, as Bridwell and his bandmates pulled off playing a dizzying amount of songs without it turning into Benny Hill, and for that the crowd was just as loud at 1 a.m. as they were when it began. —Sean O’Kane
Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com
Tags: Band of Horses, Ben Bridwell, Bill Reynolds, Creighton Barrett, Grand Ballroom, Hammerstein Ballroom, Photos, Review, Ryan Monroe, Tyler Ramsey
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Band of Horses already had two LPs and an EP to their credit by the time they released a stunner of an album, Infinite Arms, in 2010. It featured a new lineup, a full, five-piece-band sound, plenty of reverb and layered harmonies, and, of course, Ben Bridwell’s terrific voice. Plus, it led to the band playing big festivals, like Jazz Fest, and twice gracing the stage at Madison Square Garden, opening for Pearl Jam and My Morning Jacket. Late this past summer, Band of Horses (above, playing “Knock Knock” on Late Show with David Letterman) released their fourth album, Mirage Rock (stream it below), of which American Songwriter says, “Band of Horses have embraced a more mature, laid-back kind of rock … and it’s a comfortable, cozy fit.” And as their U.S. tour for the new LP winds down, the band comes to New York City next Tuesday for two special shows in one night: The first, an acoustic set at the Grand Ballroom at the Hammerstein Ballroom, is sold out, but tickets still remain for the second, an electric set downstairs in the main room at the Hammerstein, with Jason Lytle (of Grandaddy fame) opening. One of the benefits of living in NYC is stuff like this. So make sure you take advantage of it.
Tags: Band of Horses, Ben Bridwell, Bill Reynolds, Creighton Barret, Grand Ballroom, Grandaddy, Hammerstein Ballroom, Infinite Arms, Jason Lytle, Mirage Rock, Preview, Ryan Monroe, Tyler Ramsey, Video
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Cat Power – Hammerstein Ballroom – October 23, 2012
As Chan Marshall, the singer known as Cat Power, performed the title song from her new record, Sun, at the start of her show at the Hammerstein Ballroom last night, a fiery, blazing orb slowly grew on the huge video screen behind the band, the celestial body becoming larger and more imposing as the song built. This intense imagery was perhaps emblematic of the evening of music to come, songs that burned slowly and powerfully with Marshall’s deeply felt delivery.
Cat Power’s new record is a departure from the folk- and blues-leaning songs that defined her last few albums, and it incorporates some subtle electronic elements into danceable songs about matters both cosmic and personal. Having also supplanted her trademark long brown locks for a short bleached-blonde coiffure of late, Power, perhaps, appears to be emphasizing the distance between then and now. Indeed, it is unlikely that multicolored strobe lights would have seemed an appropriate accompaniment to any Cat Power songs prior to this tour—but they fit right in on “Manhattan,” “Silent Machine” and “Ruin.” Alongside her new material, Power also offered reworked versions of some older songs including “The Greatest” and “I Don’t Blame You,” in both cases, lingering over a slowed-down opening before powerfully building to a climax with added force thanks to the band’s two drummers.
During the closing song, Marshall’s cover of “Ramblin’ Man” (done as “Ramblin’ Woman”), several bouquets of flowers were laid by her feet onstage. As she sang, Power slowly and deliberately tossed flower after flower out into the audience, taking moments to make eye contact and connect with those in the crowd. And although her performance may have been largely concentrated inward, she seemed to relish these moments tossing flowers out into the sea of people, even staying onstage to do so after she and the band took their final bow. It was a playful, perhaps cathartic way to decompress from the intensity of the night’s performance. —Alena Kastin
While her material has shifted from folk to punk to blues over the years, from the time Chan Marshall (DBA Cat Power) wrote her first song in fourth grade, she’s crafted soulful, emotionally revealing music that leaves nothing on the table. The sultry-voiced singer-songwriter has released nine albums over the past 17 years while still finding time to occasionally act and model. Her newest release, last month’s Sun—which Pitchfork labels a declaration of independence in “just about every way”—was a DIY affair, with Power (above, doing “Women Left Lonely” for KCRW FM) playing, recording and producing the entire blues- and soul-filled LP. And now she’s out on the road supporting it. See her tonight at Hammerstein Ballroom.
To some, M83 has always had an uncanny resemblance to the John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club. This has nothing to do with the aesthetic reality that the band plays music with influences from the enormous synthesizers that so dominated mid-1980s pop music. Frontman Anthony Gonzalez possesses a knack for distilling human experience down to one frozen moment: a fist raised against a cloudy sky, a human story of difference and commonality, to say everything all at once, a frozen slice of self-actualization. Gonzalez’s gift for this type of tableau universality emerged immediately, taking the stage in full costume of the band’s creepy cover art from 2011 double LP Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and its smash hit, “Midnight City” (performed, above, on Last Call with Carson Daly). Tomorrow’s show is sold out, but you can see M83 play Hammerstein Ballroom on Wednesday and The Wellmont Theatre on Thursday. —Geoff Nelson
M83 – SummerStage – August 8, 2012
It’s a bold move to name your band after something as grandiose as a spiral galaxy, and it would be presumptuous for any band that isn’t M83. The group’s ability to create songs that are both fun and maximalist yet also rich with meaning and emotional depth means they could name themselves “the Entire Universe” if they so desired. Their live show felt at home at SummerStage in Central Park, where the words and rhythms of their songs could spiral out into the infinity of open space. It’s been quite a year for M83, who, after releasing the fantastic Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, has been touring the world extensively, including playing some of the planet’s biggest festivals.
But last night, frontman Anthony Gonzalez made sure to let everyone know that the band had been looking forward to the chance to play New York City’s historic park for a long time. And the opportunity was not wasted. The music got an assist from some stunning visuals that included smoke, flashing colored light panels, lasers and a starry glimmering backdrop. It was a stage design that looked half-inspired by the final scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. A small string ensemble at the back of the stage made things even more epic by adding some extra orchestral oomph to songs like “Teen Angst” and a cover of “Fall,” originally written by French synth-rockers Daft Punk.
The audience took every opportunity to sing during the show, and some braves souls even attempted to bark along to “Midnight City,” the clear crowd favorite. The place went crazy for the saxophone solo that concludes the song so perfectly it could have dragged on forever without a complaint from anyone. While Morgan Kibby’s beautiful voice made several appearances throughout the night, her ghostly singing on “Skin of the Night” was an absolute showstopper. M83 finished off things with the hard-hitting instrumental “Couleurs” from Saturdays = Youth, giving some band members the chance to jump around the stage flipping out—and those in attendance the final chance to squeeze out whatever energy remained to dance their asses off. —Dan Rickershauser
Photos courtesy of Greg Notch | notch.org