Tag Archives: Madison Square Garden


Alt-J Kick Off New Tour Monday at Madison Square Garden

March 27th, 2015

Joe Newman (vocals and guitar), Thom Green (drums), Gwil Sainsbury (guitar and bass) and Gus Unger-Hamilton (keys and vocals) met in 2007 while attending Leeds University and began making music together. Upon graduation, the foursome settled into Cambridge as Alt-J in 2011. Their debut full-length, An Awesome Wave (stream it below), filled with soaring folk-influenced dub music, came out in 2012. And not only did it rocket the band to stardom, earning comparisons to Radiohead and Coldplay along the way, but it also won them the prestigious Mercury Prize. After playing big festivals like Bonnaroo, Glastonbury and Lollapalooza in 2013, the quartet became a trio when Sainsbury departed the following year. (Cameron Knight has since replaced him for live shows, on guitar, bass and sampler.) But the beat goes on for Alt-J (above, doing “Every Other Freckle” for Jimmy Kimmel Live!): Their second full-length, This Is All Yours (stream it below), arrived last September. And it’s safe to say there’s no sophomore slump here. According to Rolling Stone, “It’s an ambling, entrancing listen—full of songs that blur weird folk and electronic zonkiness, classical filigree and straight-up rock, scrambling in all directions…. These guys know that alienation works best when it’s a little bit of fun.” Fresh off playing Lollapalooza in Brazil, Alt-J kick off their American tour on Monday night at Madison Square Garden. And as an added bonus, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., electronic-rock duo Phantogram open the show.


Bass Center VIII: Bassnectar Plays a Big Show in a Big Room

October 2nd, 2014

DJ and producer Lorin Ashton has been winning over fans across the world as Bassnectar thanks to his wild live performances and incredible light shows, not to mention his activism and community engagement. Several years ago Bassnectar kicked off his first regional event called a Bass Center. And the most recent installment, Bass Center VIII, comes to Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Per Ashton himself, “It’s a ‘Come One, Come All’ special event, with people traveling from all corners, coming from miles around, road tripping, hitchhiking, sky diving, teleporting by any means necessary to gather under one roof for the 8th Bass Center: our largest, wildest, noisiest and most beautiful to date.” And of course, Bassnectar won’t be going it alone. Not only can you expect a huge dance party and a crazy light show, but he’ll also be joined by like-minded acts Big Gigantic, Rusko and Paper Diamond. Come be a part of the party. It will be one not to miss.


Arctic Monkeys – Madison Square Garden – February 8, 2014

February 10th, 2014

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com


Ed Sheeran – Madison Square Garden – November 1, 2013

November 4th, 2013

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

(Ed Sheeran plays Madison Square Garden again on Thursday.)


We’ve Got You Covered on Halloween

October 30th, 2013

Let’s face it: Halloween is one of the biggest amateur nights of the year. So rather than trying to fight your way through a parade or going to a costume party surrounded by people who think they’re supposed to drink as much as they possibly can, let us do the heavy lifting for you, because we’ve got five stellar shows on All Hallows’ Eve. Grateful Dead guitarist Phil Lesh brings his traveling group of Friends—guitarists Grahame Lesh, Anders Osborne and Luther Dickinson, keyboardist Jason Crosby and drummer Tony Leoneto the Capitol Theatre; New York City’s own Holy Ghost! bring their post-disco dance party to Terminal 5; Avan Lava, mixing electronic music, rock and R&B, will have the Music Hall of Williamsburg crowd moving in unison; another hometown band, post-punk five-piece Crystal Stilts, will think global and rock local at The Bowery Ballroom; and taking a break from playing Madison Square Garden, English crooner Ed Sheeran (above, performing “Wake Me Up” for Live from the Artists Den) plays Mercury Lounge. Tickets for that show go on sale—only online—tomorrow at noon.


Muse – Madison Square Garden – April 16, 2013

April 17th, 2013

Photos courtesy of Mina K

(Muse play the Izod Center on 4/19.)


A Night of Ethereal Music at the Garden

March 26th, 2013

Sigur Rós – Madison Square Garden – March 25, 2013

Sigur Rós do big things well. Their sound and all the feelings it evokes can feel magnificently infinite. They make songs that fit well alongside wide-angle shots of earthly spectacles, space and fast-moving time lapses. It’s a limitless sound that needs a giant venue to fill, so it only makes sense for it to live, for at least a night, in Madison Square Garden, an arena usually devoted to basketball, hockey and two guys punching each other in the face. And it only took two songs into last night’s set to realize that you were there.

Sigur Rós began the show performing behind a box of screens, projecting their shape-shifting silhouettes against colorful visuals that looked something like the Northern Lights. For the violent-sounding guitar drones at the beginning of “Ný Batterí,” the only member visible was the outline of Jónsi Birgisson, sawing away at his wailing guitar with a violin bow. The song continued to crescendo into what felt like a breaking point, when the front screen dropped down to reveal the entire band. The most intense moments were more than just loud to the ears: The swirling visuals behind the band upped the intensity alongside the increased sound. Volume alone would get so loud that the air became thick with vibrations to the point that it felt like you could reach out and touch it.

But the night included plenty of beautiful, softer moments as well, and just hearing Birgisson’s ethereal voice fill the venue was alone worth the price of admission. At one point he held his breathy falsetto through three different rounds of ovations, magically finding the air in his lungs to hold the hanging note. It wasn’t until the long set of applause at the show’s conclusion that it really kicked in just how many people were in attendance. And in the end, that the crowd’s cheers were anywhere near the mega sound of Sigur Rós’s set proved just how much the show was appreciated. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com


Sigur Rós Bring Ambient Dream Pop to the Garden on Monday Night

March 22nd, 2013

Jónsi Briggson (vocals and guitar) and Georg Hólm (bass) formed the ambient post-rock band Sigur Rós with a third member—who’s since been replaced by Orri Páll Dýrason (drums)—almost 20 years ago. They originally signed with Bad Taste, owned by the Sugarcubes, another Icelandic band. And the Reykjavík dream-pop group’s first taste of international acclaim came with the release of their second album, the strings- and falsetto-filled Ágætis Byrjun, thanks in part to word of mouth and Internet hype. Despite continuing to release new music and tour the world, Sigur Rós took a brief hiatus to have some family time and to work on solo projects. That time apart served them well, though, because they’ve since returned with a vengeance and a new album, last year’s abstract, majestic Valtari (stream it below), their sixth. They play Madison Square Garden on Monday night with an 11-piece band. Trust us: This will be a spectacle you won’t want to miss.


Passion Pit Defy the Odds

February 11th, 2013

Passion Pit – Madison Square Garden – February 8, 2013

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night prevents a proper concertgoer from heading out to see his or her favorite band play a live show. The harsh element on Friday night was a blizzard, but it was matched by an equally momentous event: Passion Pit at a packed Madison Square Garden. And thousands of fans braved the weather and trudged through the snow en masse, chapped lips and soggy socks be damned. They were met onstage by a mirror image of themselves. Michael Angelakos, the main force behind Passion Pit, had a score to settle, and he wasn’t going to let anything slow him down. “About seven months ago, they told me we would never tour again,” he announced defiantly early in the set. “And now we’re in Madison Square Garden.” They obviously were dead wrong—and continue to be more wrong than they could have possibly imagined. Passion Pit filled the Garden, and they did so with the aplomb and sizzle of a veteran band seasoned on the arena circuit.

Looking sharp in a black, slim-fit suit and feeling daring (did I spot brown shoes and matching tie?), Angelakos navigated the stage like a young Mick Jagger while doling out hit after hit. Even though they just released their sophomore LP, Gossamer, Passion Pit favored cuts from Manners, the 2010 album that launched the band to indie stardom. I didn’t keep score, but I’m fairly certain they played the entirety of that record. It was the right move, as the crowd sang along deliriously to Angelakos’s sneakily catchy hooks from favorites like “Little Secrets” (“Higher and higher and higher / Higher and higher and higher”) and “The Reeling” (“Oh noooooooo / Oh nooooooooo”). Of course, “Sleepyhead,” which Passion Pit played as their short and sweet encore, was the standout of the album and the night, catapulting thousands of smiling fans into the air. If any of Angelakos’s doubters were in the crowd on Friday, a screaming and undulating Garden would have persuaded them of their folly: Passion Pit are absolutely an arena band, and their career is just beginning. —Alex Kapelman

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com


The Black Keys – Madison Square Garden – March 22, 2012

March 23rd, 2012

Photos courtesy of Michael Jurick | music.jurick.net



December 15th, 2011

My Morning Jacket – Madison Square Garden – December 14, 2011

Sure, it’s an impressive feat to pull the sword out of the stone. But what really matters is if you can slay the dragon once you’ve got that weapon in your hand. And last night, My Morning Jacket, having the Excalibur of arena rock shows in their grip, killed the beast that is Madison Square Garden like few can. Opening with “Victory Dance,” the stage awash in fiery orange light, Jim James seemed to be leading the amped crowd into battle with him. From there it was two straight hours of MMJ favorites, special guests and guns-a-blazing guitar jams. Each song seemed to top the previous one with barely a pause in between—the band and crowd stepping up a ladder one rung at a time until finally we all looked down with a collective “Whoa! How did we get up this high?”

James raced around the stage like an uncaged animal bound with contagious energy, using every inch of real estate, occasionally with a towel awkwardly around his head, other times more dramatically wrapped in a cape. In a show that was an unending highlight reel, my personal favorite stretch included “Smokin’ from Shootin’,” which led into the quintessential MMJ jam with Patrick Hallahan taking control on drums before dissolving into a long, electronic “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream, Pt. 2.” This was impossibly capped by a thrust-your-arms-in-the-air, utterly relentless “Off the Record.” Perhaps equally impressive were the quiet moments, particularly a gorgeous version of “Golden” with Carl Broemel moving to pedal steel, James on acoustic and the crowd as quiet and attentive as an MSG audience can be.

Songs off Circuital fit right in with older material. But not to rest on the power of their normal repertoire, the band invited several guests onstage to add new twists: members of opener Band of Horses, a horn section that punctuated MMJ favorites like “Dancefloors” and Brian Jackson, who added flute to a superlative version of “Dondante” and a perfect cover of Gil Scott Heron’s “The Bottle” (on which he originally played). The show ended just as strongly as it had started, with a seven-song encore, including James solo acoustic on “Bermuda Highway” and the always explosive “One Big Holiday,” which had the mighty dragon of MSG lying defeated in a heap and yet still screaming for more. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Michael Jurick | music.jurick.net


LCD Soundsystem – Madison Square Garden – April 2, 2011

April 4th, 2011

LCD Soundsystem - Madison Square Garden - April 2, 2011

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com


Phoenix Plays the Garden

October 15th, 2010

Three guys, Thomas Mars (vocals), Deck d’Arcy (bass) and Chris Mazzalai (guitar), began playing garage rock in a suburban basement in the ’90s. It’s a familiar story you’ve heard from countless other bands. The main difference in this case is that the group began outside of Paris rather than, say, Detroit or Milwaukee. Around that same time, Mazzalai’s older brother, Laurent Brancowitz (also a guitarist), was in another trio, Darlin’. That band released several songs, which Melody Maker described as “a bunch of daft punk.” Not too much later Brancowitz’s bandmates split to form Daft Punk and he joined his brother’s musical outfit, Phoenix. The now quartet got started covering Hank Williams and Prince in French bars, but they kept working their way up and people began to notice. They added synthesizers to the mix and put out several well-received albums, but it was their fourth studio effort, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, that put them in the mainstream. Since then Phoenix (above, performing “1901” on Late Show with David Letterman) has sold out increasingly larger rooms, and now they’re playing the big one, Madison Square Garden next Wednesday. Not only should you be at this show, but make sure to get there early enough to see Dirty Projectors and Wavves, too.


Dirty Projectors – Terminal 5 – September 11, 2010

September 13th, 2010

Dirty Projectors - Terminal 5 - September 11, 2010

Photos courtesy of Brian C. Reilly | www.briancreilly.com

(Dirty Projectors open for Phoenix at Madison Square Garden on 10/20.)


A Fire in the Garden

August 6th, 2010

Arcade Fire – Madison Square Garden – August 5, 2010

(Photo: Mina K)

(Photo: Mina K)

Both physically and symbolically, Madison Square Garden represents the center of entertainment in New York City. Elongated posters of iconic images remind visitors of the venue’s historic past in sports, music and, yes, the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. By the shear force of its name, MSG amplifies all events it houses. So when Arcade Fire booked not one but two headlining dates this August, expectations abounded.

The Canada-based indie-rock band is responsible for two outstanding records, Funeral and Neon Bible, and they released their third album, The Suburbs, this week. While this is a relatively small discography for a band scheduled to sell out “the World’s Most Famous Arena,” songs like “Wake Up” have permeated the mainstream. On Thursday night against any and all doubts, Arcade Fire delivered an unforgettable performance.

Supported by openers Owen Pallett and indie-rock veterans Spoon, Arcade Fire filled the venue with their triumphant songs, boundless energy and wholly transfixed fans. All nine members of the touring band dressed like an advertisement for individuality. In addition to frontman Win Butler’s fawned-over-on-the-Internet haircut, Régine Chassagne wore a sequined dress and Richard Reed Parry seemed to have found one of David Bowie’s vintage jumpsuits. Their appearance, as well as Terry Gilliam’s simultaneous live Webcast, acted as a show within a show. This, however, was secondary to the group’s incredible renditions of anthems “Rebellion (Lies),” “Keep the Car Running” and “Intervention.” There was an urgency and awareness to their performance, which truly connected with the audience. At the end of their encore featuring “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels),” it strangely felt as if MSG wasn’t big enough for Arcade Fire. —Jared Levy

(Check out highlights of this show here.)