Tag Archives: Jay-Z

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The Soul Rebels Bring a Taste of NOLA to Brooklyn

February 18th, 2014

Soul Rebels – Brooklyn Bowl – February 14, 2014


While the NBA took over New Orleans this past weekend for its All-Star game, a few NOLA bands sought musical refuge in New York City, beginning with the Soul Rebels, playing the first of two shows at Brooklyn Bowl on Friday night. If you’ve never seen a Soul Rebels show before, there’s a long list of things that you’re missing out on. But in short, their energetic time-traveling mix of cover songs woven around their own music creates one hell of a two-hour dance party.

Blink and you might have missed any number of those excellent covers, which ranged
from Bobby Blue Band’s (and a touch of Jay-Z’s version) “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” and Hova’s own “Hard Knock Life” to Heavy D’s “Now That We Found Love” and “Nuttin’ but Love.” Later on, the encore skewed much newer, with Pharrell’s “Happy” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” getting the New Orleans brass treatment. The energy behind the multihorn take on these songs ran so high throughout the set that it made the idea of a DJ seem boring (although Questlove assumed his post after the show and made a musical counter-argument of his own).

The Soul Rebels’ breathless, nonstop mix of original, traditional and cover songs was backed by a collective energy that each band member helped sustain. With eight of them onstage on Friday, there was never a moment when the crowd wasn’t being prompted by
at least one Rebel, whether it was shouting Valentine’s Day–themed plaudits at them or goading them into letting loose. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

Congratulations to the Winners

February 11th, 2013

The Bowery Presents extends warm congratulations to every 2013 Grammy winner (and nominee). And if you take a look at those who took home awards, it’s like a who’s who list of acts that have recently played our venues, including:

the Black Keys: Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Album
Gotye: Record of the Year (featuring Kimbra), Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (featuring Kimbra), Best Alternative Music Album
fun.: Song of the Year (featuring Janelle Monáe), Best New Artist
Skrillex (featuring Sirah): Best Dance Recording, Best Dance/Electronica Album
Frank Ocean: Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (Kanye West and Jay-Z featuring Frank Ocean and the-Dream)
Mumford & Sons
: Album of the Year
Adele: Best Solo Pop Performance
Bonnie Raitt: Best Americana Album
Dan Auerbach: Producer of the Year, Non-Classical
Miguel: Best R&B Song
Kelly Clarkson: Best Pop Vocal Album
the Civil Wars (and Taylor Swift): Best Song Written for Visual Media
Halestorm: Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance

 

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Alt-J Are Worthy of the Buzz

September 13th, 2012

Alt-J – The Bowery Ballroom – September 12, 2012


There was a certain geometric incoherence in play as hotly buzzed UK band Alt-J took the stage at a very sold-out Bowery Ballroom last night. Everyone was jammed together in this glorified square to see a band that insisted they were a triangle. See, Alt-J contend their name is more than a collection of letters, instead representing the outcome of a keyboard command, the combination of “Alt” and “J,” which on a Mac makes the shape of a triangle, making their very name an unspeakable symbolic iconography. Every face in the audience pointed toward four faces onstage offering seemingly infinite possibilities. This would all seem overwrought, if it weren’t for the uncommon quality of the band’s debut, An Awesome Wave, and their bizarre and brilliant live show. Somehow helpless against their insistence on three-way vanishing points—or how affected and silly this would seem in less capable hands—the audience and the band intersected over and over, creating a cohesive, if pleasantly limited, little world inside these invented boundaries.

The band opened with “(Interlude 1),” with a choir joining them to offer the band’s Baroque-ish two-part harmonies a chilling and elegiac varnish. One part Mumford & Sons and one part the xx, Alt-J slid between slow-drive, sexy arrangements and these warm duets between guitarist Joe Newman and keys player Gus Unger-Hamilton. “Something Good” and “Dissolve Me,” mid-album and middle-set songs expanded this notion of austere vocals and ebullient keyboard-driven arrangements, accented brightly with tactile guitar picking and high-fret work. The band played their best song, “Breezeblocks,” near the end, the track’s punching vocals and guitars ringing through the balconies as the audience shuffled around chanting lines like “Do you know where the wild things go?” The song’s conclusion, a collision of the lyrics “Please don’t go, I love you so” and “I’d eat you whole,” an awesome and approachable angle to a band that values its weirdness as much as its beautiful arrangements.

“This is the last song on the album,” Unger-Hamilton mumbled over the din as Alt-J returned to play “Taro” as the encore. At least one person in the crowd made the reference that is as controversial as it is possibly correct: “Radiohead.” This is a bit of branding too loaded even for a band currently touring with a gigantic neon triangle as their backdrop. However, there was something undeniable happening here. Alt-J finished the haunting last chords of “Taro” and held up a slightly altered version of the “diamonds in the sky,” triangle-ish hand sign that Jay-Z and Kanye West initiated with a straight face in 2005. The crowd returned it in kind having fully embraced this iconography of two lines and three points. The audience and the band made two of these three, one of the year’s best albums brought to the stage made the third at The Bowery Ballroom, a tidy and discrete geometric universe, a triangle inside a square. —Geoff Nelson