Tag Archives: Kanye West

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Ryan Leslie Keeps It Local Tomorrow at The Bowery Ballroom

August 19th, 2014

Don’t take this the wrong way, but Ryan Leslie is smarter than you are. He aced the SATs, getting a perfect score, when he was just 14 and then graduated from Harvard at 19. The oh, so talented Leslie has since gone on to become a successful producer, rapper, singer, multi-instrumentalist (all documented on his YouTube channel) and businessman. He’s written and produced for Beyoncé, Britney Spears and New Edition while still finding time to put out a few of his own singles and mixtapes. As if he weren’t busy enough with that, Leslie has also released four albums. And while the first two were much more influenced by R&B, on his third effort, 2012’s Les Is More (stream it below), and last year’s Black Mozart, Leslie (above, performing “Ups and Downs” live in studio for Sway in the Morning) dives into the rap world alongside notable guests like Kanye West. See him play a hometown show tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom.

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Glass Animals Delight a Sold-Out Bowery Ballroom

July 8th, 2014

Glass Animals – The Bowery Ballroom – July 7, 2014

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Glass Animals, a freshly minted indie-rock group hailing from Oxford, England, hit the United States on their first headlining tour in support of their debut album, Zaba. What began as a solo bedroom project for frontman Dave Bayley blossomed into a full band with the recruitment of some childhood friends. And as summer hits full swing, their jazzy, trip-hop melodies provide the perfect soundtrack for a day at the beach or hanging out on the stoop. Last night as the quartet descended upon the unlit stage of a sold-out Bowery Ballroom, Bayley cried out, “What’s up, New York?”

Beginning the show with material from their self-titled EP, an undercurrent of tenor beats against a bubbling effect introduced “Psylla,” followed by the Afro-jazz toned “Black Mambo,” which had most in the room bobbing their heads to the infectious rhythm. Fan favorite “Exxus” elicited a sing-along of the chorus: “Gone in the blink of my eye.” Moving on from their earlier works, the fresh-faced lads offered “Hazey,” “Flip,” and “Gooey.” Bayley’s ragdoll movements and upraised arms used for exclamation had the lead singer resembling a young Thom Yorke with a rapper’s flair.

Having a great night, Bayley gushed, “You guys are too cool to us,” as his shoeless feet bounced across the stage and his pedals. He encouraged everyone to dance for “Wyrd” and treated the dancers to a slowed-down cover of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” before closing the set. After a brief exit, the band returned for an encore of “Pools,” which would be perfect for a day at PS1’s Warm Up. Needless to say, get on this rising band STAT and score your tickets now for their show at Music Hall of Williamsburg at the end of summer. —Sharlene Chiu

(Glass Animals play Music Hall of Williamsburg on 9/15.)

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A-Trak’s New Tour Brings Him to Terminal 5 on Saturday Night

May 30th, 2014

It’s probably safe to say Alain Macklovitch has music in his blood. His older brother, David, handles guitar and lead vocals in Chromeo as Dave 1. And Alain has risen to prominence as a turntablist, producer and label head—he founded Fool’s Gold Records alongside Nick Catchdubs. But if his name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s probably because you know him for his DJ work as A-Trak. He’s won a slew of awards and DJ-battling championships, not to mention his numerous singles, EPs, mixtapes and remixes of big names like Kanye West, whom he’s often performed with, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A-Trak (above, performing on Holy Ship!) is equally at home in small clubs, big festival stages and arena and stadium shows. And he’ll have you dancing tomorrow night at Terminal 5Cam’ron and Salva open the show.

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Talib Kweli Returns Home to Play Rough Trade NYC

May 19th, 2014

Talib Kweli – Rough Trade NYC – May 17, 2014

Talib Kweli – Rough Trade NYC – May 17, 2014
Talib Kweli is an MC who takes his mastering of the ceremonies very seriously. Back in Brooklyn only for Saturday afternoon, coming directly from LaGuardia and leaving out of JFK that night, Kweli treated his hometown fans to an intimate performance at Rough Trade NYC. He had everyone’s hands in the air, dancing and singling along, an impressive feat for an afternoon show, with most of the crowd sober and/or hungover. The man knows how to treat his fans and gets it back in love, no matter the time of day.

Talib Kweli is an artist with a lot to say. With nearly 20 years of music behind him, he’s always been a rapper who takes his words seriously. His Rough Trade NYC performance included a rare live rendition of “Rare Portraits,” telling everyone afterward that he usually avoids the autobiographical songs at shows in favor of the more “rah-rah, let’s party” selections. Performing his new song, “State of Grace,” about a rap fan feeling disconnected from the hip-hop she loved and grew up with, Kweli’s lyrics came out so fast and furious it was like he was racing himself to get across the song’s message.

Kweli loves talking to his audience, and he took time to discuss how he took a page from comedian Louis CK’s playbook by releasing his latest album, Gravitas, on his Web site directly to his fans, without a middleman. The MC had his own audience laughing, too. After his DJ threw down the hook for Rick James’ “Mary Jane” and Kweli realized most in the audience didn’t know it, he explained the genius of the song and how “you had to be covert with that shit” when rapping about smoking weed in the ’70s. “We got some lazy weed songs,” said Kweli, poking fun at Drake’s material and Kanye West’s “Get Em High.” The performance ended with the now-classic “Get By,” and then Kweli worked his way over to the record-store half of Rough Trade NYC to meet fans, take pictures and sign records. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Andie Diemer | issuu.com/andiediemer/docs/portfolio

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Be Part of an RL Grime Dance Party Tonight at Webster Hall

May 6th, 2014

He’s only 23, but producer (and member of the electronic-music collective WeDidIt) Henry Steinway has been forging a name for himself for several years. First as Clockwork, making bouncy electronic house music and playing big stages, from Holy Ship! to Ultra. But since 2012, he’s also been doing work as RL Grime, walking the gritty line between hip-hop and electronic beats on a host of singles, remixes—for the likes of Kanye West, Rihanna and Drake—and EPs, the most recent of which, High Beams (stream it below), came out last year. Pitchfork says he caters “more to stomps than pumps. And RL Grime really is all about that life; he fiddles with the bass and messes with tightly wound beats, pulling away from the explosive, emotionally manipulative pandering of his EDM counterpart. But the meg-aclub mentality hasn’t completely escaped him.” In fact, you can experience it for yourself tonight at Webster Hall. Dubbel Dutch, “an accomplished producer of cosmic tone poems and club anthems from the abyss,” opens the show.

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Childish Gambino Is Just Getting Started

March 31st, 2014

Childish Gambino – Hammerstein Ballroom – March 29, 2014

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

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Grouplove Let Loose at Terminal 5

March 27th, 2014

Grouplove – Terminal 5 – March 26, 2014

Grouplove - Terminal 5 – March 26, 2014
Last time Grouplove played Terminal 5, this city (and much of the East Coast) was still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, something that informed how the band approached their set that night—and it was even worthy of a mention from lead singer Christian Zucconi during their show last night. But this time around the band, unburdened from the task of assuaging the fears and pains of the community they were playing for, let loose a little more and showed why they’ve become one of the hottest tickets around.

The California band is certainly one you’ve heard if not one you’ve heard of, as both of their albums are filled with songs that have been licensed for everything from beer commercials to Girls promos. Their West Coast roots influence their often airy, sunshine-ready rock sound, equally matched by a relentless momentum provided by heavily present (and catchy on their own) basslines and backed by thumping drums along an always danceable beat. Plus there are three- and four-part harmonies, and while each band member carries a seemingly endless amount of energy to expend during a set, Grouplove’s main draw is the back-and-forth vocals between Zucconi and Hannah Hooper.

Upbeat is almost a limiting word when it comes to describing Grouplove’s music, as songs like “I’m with You” and “Shark Attack” (both fan favorites) are more four- and five-minute parties unto themselves, as opposed to just upbeat songs. But thanks to their wild, genre-bending sound, the band can veer in other directions too, like taking the stage to Kanye and GOOD Music’s “Mercy,” or knocking a cover of Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love” clear out of the park (with Zucconi, not just Hooper, hitting Queen B’s notes). “What a surprise, New York’s the best night of tour,” said drummer Ryan Rabin late in the set, met by the roar of the sold-out crowd. That’s a comment we get a lot in this town, but last night, he was probably right. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

(Grouplove play Terminal 5 again tonight.)

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Kill the Noise Will Have You Dancing on Sunday Night

January 16th, 2014

Jake Stanczak was born in Rochester, N.Y., but he’s been busy doing work as an electronic-music producer in New York City, partnering with the likes of Skrillex and Korn and remixing Kanye West. And while he’s also known to get people on the dance floor under the stage name Ewun, Stanczak makes all kinds of electronic dance music as Kill the Noise—from electro house to dubstep. His most recent album Black Magic: Remixes, which, you guessed it, remixes tracks from his previous release, Black Magic (stream both below), came out last year. And Kill the Noise (above, performing in Las Vegas last year) plays a hometown show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sunday night.

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Every Moment a Spectacle with Foxygen

October 22nd, 2013

Foxygen – The Bowery Ballroom – October 21, 2013


The stage at The Bowery Ballroom last night was covered with spider webs, gravestones and other Halloween paraphernalia. At little past 11, Jonathan Rado crept onstage, dressed as a mad scientist, fussing around with an old Moog synthesizer that spit out a collection of dissonant, creepy tones. Then came the rest of the band, a mummy, a zombie janitor, a “mystery janitor” and lead singer Sam France dressed convincingly as Beetlejuice. France grabbed an acoustic guitar and played through a song by himself, and then the band jumped right into “On Blue Mountain.”

It was in that moment that the venue got its first taste of what the show would be like, and it tasted delicious. The song came together in an instant like it was almost a lucky coincidence of everything falling into place. As France performed the hell out of every last inch of the song, twirling around a Christmas light–covered baton, the band powered through the song’s hairpin twists and turns, approaching the bone-deep hooks like a train plummeting through a brick wall and taking every last bit of it with them. Almost as good, and all the more unpredictable, were the moments between songs that included among other things, a band member chasing France with a fake dead rat, France polling the crowd on a series of banalities, like “What’s your favorite Web site?”

Then there was France telling the audience that Kanye West was in the building and that Disney hasn’t made a good movie since Toy Story 2, and a brief moment of the band randomly jumping into a few seconds of their Halloween rendition of “Seven Nation Army.” Poking fun at their reputation for their classic-rock sound, France finished off the sing-along chorus of “Shuggie” by announcing, “We’re Foxygen, playing you the greatest hits of the ’60s and ’70s!” With such unpredictability, it almost felt like the show could fall off the rails at any moment, but it never quite does. With France as the show’s train conductor on acid, every moment’s a spectacle in some way, and the train never slows down to let anyone off. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com

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A Young Talent on the Rise

October 1st, 2013

Lorde – Webster Hall – September 30, 2013


It is no surprise that Lorde drew a sold-out crowd to Webster Hall on a Monday night. The audacious young singer-songwriter from New Zealand has already made an undeniably strong impression on the music scene. The audience waited patiently as Pete Lawrie Winfield, the man behind the moniker Until the Ribbon Breaks, stepped out first to deliver a striking set. A haunting, bass-heavy rendition of “Pressure,” anchored the performance. Audience members who weren’t familiar with Until the Ribbon Breaks likely left the venue last night eager to listen to more of Winfield’s material.

By the time Lorde took the stage, Webster Hall was filled to capacity with fans of all ages. Ella Yelich-O’Connor, 16, has attracted a diverse array of fans. This is unsurprising, given that her music is defiant, infectious and, above all, smart. Yelich-O’Connor’s backlit figure commanded the stage flanked by a drummer and a keyboardist. Her voice is a bit rougher around the edges in a live setting, which suits her music very well. She kicked off her hour-long set with a deliciously subdued version of “Bravado.”

“Thanks for coming, I really appreciate it,” coyly said the singer before launching into “Tennis Court” and “Buzzcut Season.” A dark and rapturous cover of Kanye West’s “Hold My Liquor” had the crowd leaping. “Royals” gave everyone in the packed venue the opportunity to sing along, as the single had been most people’s first taste of her music. The end of Lorde’s set had a decidedly somber tone as she explored the lyrics of “400 Lux” and “The World Alone.” Lorde delivered her set with astounding conviction and compelling confidence. And we can only hope her talent gets better with age. —Schuyler Rooth

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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OneRepublic Are More Than Just Their Hits

August 12th, 2013

One Republic – Hudson River Park Pier 26 – August 10, 2013


On a remarkably beautiful Saturday night, OneRepublic packed the length of Pier 26 in Hudson River Park for their hour-and-a-half set of pop-rock radio hits. If, for some reason, you had forgotten how many hits they’ve had in the past six years, the world-touring Colorado band wasn’t afraid to remind you early in their set. With a giant white sheet blocking the stage that caught backlit silhouettes of the band, they opened with “Light It Up,” a heavier track from their new album, Native.

The sheet dropped and the band dove right into a few of their biggest songs, including the once inescapable “Secrets” and the Maroon 5-ish “Stop and Stare.” Frontman Ryan Tedder’s voice was often the highlight, but so was his energy, which was equally on display as he bounced around the stage, often climbing the seven-foot pyramids his drummer and keyboard player were moored to (he even slipped off one at one point, but in a Lead Singer 101 sort of move, he flipped on his back and made it look like his plan all along). OneRepublic also showed that they’re more than just their hits, which is always welcome to see with a band so large. They slowed down things with numbers like “Come Home” (about a friend away at war) and “Preacher” (about Tedder’s grandfather), and even covered a few songs—including Ray Charles’s “I Got a Woman” right into Kanye West’s take on it, “Gold Digger.”

And as if the picturesque setting weren’t enough, the whole set was backed by a brilliant light display and massive diamond-shaped video screens that showed everything from clips of the children’s choir that sang on “All the Right Moves” to the flying bicycle scene from E.T. before they played “Apologize.” This didn’t stop Tedder from sharing a few different times just how wowed he was by his surroundings. “We have almost literally played everywhere you could play, but this is the craziest venue there is,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been uploading pictures of this view all night.” You and a few thousand others. —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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Another Year Older and a Little Bit Bigger

October 8th, 2012

Flying Lotus – Terminal 5 – October 7, 2012


Take Flying Lotus beats out of headphones or tinny computer speakers and into a club and they become sometime else entirely. On recordings, Flying Lotus is the manufacturer behind chilled-out and jazzy shape-shifting beats. But played live in a jam-packed venue with the bass turned up so high that it’s felt in the knees, and you have an almost unfamiliar sound. It’s like comparing a wild tiger to one in the zoo—the setting changes the music in a fundamental way. Flying Lotus’s natural habitat is the club, where beats can roam free, bouncing off every corner of the venue and sweeping up an audience in the process.

It’s safe to say Flying Lotus was in his natural habitat last night at the sold-out Terminal 5. During the few breaks in the set, the crowd serenaded the L.A. producer, celebrating his 28th birthday, with several renditions of “Happy Birthday to You.” Set up behind a screen with mind-altering visuals, for a while all you could make out of Flying Lotus was a silhouette wearing a sequin-covered sweatshirt that reflected the colored projections back like a thousand laser pointers. Playing one song after another, he wove samples ranging from Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” to Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You” into his own beats. After a few songs, he stepped from behind the screen to greet the audience, and after a few more, he invited everyone in his entourage onstage for the night’s most successful rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.”

Pop music moves pretty fast these days, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if a year from now Flying Lotus’s beats find their way into a Kanye West sample or something else equally mainstream. The same has happened with so many other producers carrying the banner for a whole new interpretation of club music. If it happens, everyone at last night’s show can say to jealous late adopters that they saw Fly Lo in New York City on his 28th birthday. The show certainly felt like the beginning of a big musician getting bigger, or in the very least, another year older. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Jeremy Ross | jeremypross.com

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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