Tag Archives: Julian Casablancas


Haim Pack Webster Hall

September 4th, 2013

Haim – Webster Hall – September 3, 2013

The iconic long blonde locks of Californian lasses have been idolized in music from the Beach Boys to Girls (Christopher Owens). However, a trio of brunette sisters, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, might be changing the West Coast lexicon. Playing collectively as Haim, these siblings evoke R&B into folk-pop heavy compositions. While fans await the release of their full-length album, Days Are Gone, later this month, the sisters headlined a sold-out Webster Hall last night. Having been to quite a few sold-out shows at the venue, I’ve never seen the rafters so overfilled with onlookers or a bottleneck at the entrance for the floor. The sisters definitely took notice, exclaiming “This is the craziest thing.”

Haim treated the crowd early on with fan faves “Better Off” and “The Wire.” The latter was reminiscent of M. Ward’s “Never Had Nobody Like You” with a noticeably similar rollick. There was no doubt that when Danielle’s guitar shredded the familiar chords of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” that this wasn’t any ordinary rendition. Her skills confirmed why the likes of Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas asked the middle Haim sister to tour with them. Early ’90s R&B influences were best heard on “Falling,” where the audience joined in to sing “Don’t stop, no one’s ever enough/ I’ll never look back, never give up/ And if it gets rough, it’s time to get rough/ But now I’m falling.”

The youngest Haim, Alana, couldn’t withhold her glee from announcing the gig was better than her 21st birthday to jumping around onstage to incite the front row. As the set neared its end, Danielle commanded for “the ceiling to fall down,” as she barreled into “Forever” and Este’s heavily laid basslines caused an eruption of claps. The trio returned for a one-song encore and delivered a venomous “Let Me Go.” The evening concluded with the sisters in a drum triangle, beating down on the skins as if they were taiko performers. There’s no question that Haim stamped their names on New York City. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com


The Neighbourhood Are a Band on the Rise

April 30th, 2013

The Neighbourhood – The Bowery Ballroom – April 29, 2013

The Neighbourhood are the anti-Beatles. Let me explain: In 1964, the Beatles jumped across the pond and invaded the United States. With their matching mop tops, sweet songs, and happy-go-lucky attitude, the Fab Four induced a complete craziness among teenage girls that might never be equaled (despite Bieber Fever). Forty-nine years later, California indie band (despite the English spelling) the Neighbourhood, played The Bowery Ballroom. With their matching buzzed heads, epic songs, and übermasculine attitude, the Neighbourhood induced crazy make-out sessions among adults last night.

I’m being dramatic, sure, but it’s true. Where the Beatles killed with catchy pop, the Neighbourhood are a little more subtle. Their songs burn slow until they get hot and overpower. The rhythm section pounds away at a steady, driving thump while guitars build a landscape beneath Jesse Rutherford’s vocals. The frontman holds together everything with his cool phrasing, singing alternately into a standard vocal microphone and a blues harmonica microphone, which gave his voice more bite, à la Julian Casablancas.

All of this is not to say that the band doesn’t have fun or that the audience becomes the New York City stereotype of dispassionate concertgoers. The Neighbourhood have built a true live show, where they engage the crowd and bring fans into their world. “I’m gonna be that guy right now,” said Rutherford as he asked for some call-and-response participation. He didn’t have to care about being “that guy,” because the audience was completely enraptured by him all along. It may not fair to compare the Neighbourhood to the Beatles, but soon enough, they’ll be a household name. —Alex Kapelman

(Go see the Neighbourhood play Music Hall of Williamsburg on 6/26 and The Bowery Ballroom on 6/29.)


The Sky Is the Limit

December 17th, 2012

Haim – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 15, 2012

“This is the best birthday I will ever have in my life,” Alana Haim told Saturday’s sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg crowd. It was her 21st, and she still hadn’t had her first legal drink. Along with playing guitar and keys, she’s the baby of Haim. “I don’t think I could breathe without everyone on this stage,” she later revealed. “Everyone on this stage” included oldest sister Este (bass and vocals) and middle sister Danielle (lead guitar and vocals). And with drummer Dash Hutton, they played the best show I’ve seen all year.

Haim’s destiny seems almost preordained. Their parents (known as “Mama and Papa Haim” by the sisters) were both musicians—Mama played acoustic guitar and sang while Papa was a drummer. For 10 years, the Haim sisters played in a cover band, Rockinhaim, with their parents. This experience proved integral to their development as accomplished musicians in their own right. (Este studied Brazilian music and percussion at UCLA, and Danielle has toured with Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas.) And it brought them all so close together that, to this day, Haim still bring Mama and Papa on tour with them.

This grounding influence readily appears onstage in a couple of ways. First, they’re incredibly comfortable under the lights. Este, Danielle and Alana are witty, charming and hilarious, and they banter like friends entertaining guests. Second, their live show absolutely rocks. Their two outstanding EPs display a penchant for electro pop, and live, they seamlessly blend classic rock, ’80s pop, country and rockabilly. They’ve opened for such diverse acts as Mumford & Sons, Florence and the Machine and No Age. Danielle especially impresses on vocals and guitar. She channels her inner Melissa Etheridge and shreds on her Gibson SG, the iconic axe used by legendary lead guitar players like Angus Young and Derek Trucks. Although stylistically, she sounds more like David Gilmour, picking and choosing each note with deliberate care.

But in the end, it was Alana’s night. And before they played what happened to be their first ever encore, Mama handed Alana a cupcake lit by a leftover menorah candle, and the family led the crowd in a verse of “Happy Birthday.” “It’s officially Alanukah!” announced Mama. Alana closed her eyes for a few seconds to conjure a wish. And after she blew out the candles, the band became Rockinhaim, playing a stunning rendition of “Mustang Sally,” with Mama impressing on lead vocals and Papa banging a heavily funky beat. Though we’ll never know what it was, Alana’s wish will almost certainly comes true: For this band, the sky is the limit. —Alex Kapelman



Julian Casablancas Returns Home

January 15th, 2010

Julian Casablancas – Terminal 5 – January 14, 2010

Julian Casablancas - Terminal 5 - January 14, 2010
Everyone was calling Julian Casablancas by just his first name. Near the ticket window it was “Julian” and upstairs in VIP it was a more familiar “Jules.” Opener Tanlines even referred to him as the vaguely messianic “JC.” Apparently New York City assumed it was on a first name basis with the guy who allegedly saved rock and roll from the Lower East Side in 2001. As if winking at 3,000 people at once, Casablancas opened with “Ludlow St.,” an overly sentimental ode to the street he helped make famous. Of course it was also to say that if we thought we knew him, he most assuredly knew us better.

Casablancas, dressed almost head to foot in black leather came to the stage last, a subtle tip to the significance of his return to the city that bore him. After “Ludlow St.,” he directed the band in the wailing and enormous “River of Brakelights,” a song that few outside the first 20 rows grasped or reacted to appropriately. Following quickly with “11th Dimension,” Casablancas turned Terminal 5 into a sea of jumping heads and bobbing angular haircuts. And during “Out of the Blue,” he whipped around the microphone by its cord before ripping through the last chorus. It was the kind of maneuver that said, “I’ve still got it” and “I never really left.”

Of course this return couldn’t be complete without an unscripted ending. After closing his first encore with “4 Chords of the Apocalypse,” Casablancas slammed the microphone to the stage and reached into the crowd with all the magnanimous effect of a messiah. The crowd pushed toward its hero and he seemed visibly affected by this display. Terminal 5 turned on the music and the crowd was supposed to leave. But no one moved. So Casablancas returned, rather sheepishly, saying, “We really were done.” He then played “Tourist,” as if to indicate that even the messiah feels a little weird when everyone tries to know his name. And the crowd, unabashedly, sang along with their Julian. —Geoff Nelson

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com