Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com
At this point, They Might Be Giants’ career is long enough that it’s become near impossible to paraphrase. It also doesn’t help that their fans, including me, are nerdy and devoted enough to yell at you for leaving out anything. So here goes nothing. They Might Be Giants consist of mainstays John Flansburgh and John Linnell, plus a backing band that’s been with them since the late ’80s, when they got their start playing around New York City. In local papers, They Might Be Giants promoted their Dial-a-Song service, hooking up an answering machine to a telephone line that played a song with each call. Some have counted upward of 500 original songs through the service. Flood, out in ’89, went platinum and featured the megahits “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Istanbul (Not Constantinople).” They were ahead of their times poking fun at the all-seeing-eye that is the NSA, before the Snowden leaks even came out. They’ve done a lot of kids music, a handful of theme songs including ones for Malcolm in the Middle and The Daily Show. I’m just scratching the surface here but you get the idea.
They Might Be Giants’ musical output exists as a galaxy entirely of its own creation, somewhere in the universe alongside Ween, Frank Zappa or Weird Al Yankovic. Their latest venture is version 2.0 of Dial-a-Song, with the band releasing a new tune every Monday at midnight through a phone number (844-387-6962) and Web site. Last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, They Might Be Giants featured several new numbers, including this week’s Dial-a-Song, “Music Jail Pts. 1 & 2,” plus last week’s “Madame, I Challenge You to a Duel,” loosely based on Oliver Reed and Shelley Winter’s appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Outside of the new stuff, it seemed like a handful in the audience knew every word sung. There was the start-and-stop concept song dedicated to the marching on of time, appropriately titled “Older.” There was “Fingertips,” which saw everyone in the venue waving arms in unison.
The horn section came out blaring in full force for “Call You Mom” and “Authenticity Trip.” In a robot voice, Flansburgh took time to explain to all the truth about the Patriots’ Deflategate. And They Might Be Giants played tribute to recently departed Joe Franklin, who, on one of their appearances on his television show, leaned over to tell them, “If you ever win a Grammy, thank me.” They missed their chance but thanked him last night to make up for it. Trusted classics like “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” appeared toward the second half of the set. The momentum built up through two encores, before finally ending things with “Ana Ng,” off Lincoln. For They Might Be Giants diehards, the band returns next month to play their first album in its entirety. Until then, they’ll be releasing a new song every Monday at midnight through Dial-a-Song. Time marches on, and They Might Be Giants continue to grow their galaxy. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks
Local musical legends They Might Be Giants play their self-titled debut album live at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sunday. The show obviously sold out well in advance, but The House List is giving away two tickets. 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 (They Might Be Giants, 1/25) and a brief message explaining why Sunday is the best night to go out. Eddie Bruiser, who doesn’t usually need a reason to go out at night, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Christmas arrived about two weeks later for local Dr. Dog fans. With the city now covered in sad, discarded Christmas trees and dirty days-old snow, Dr. Dog began their long stretch of New York City shows, eight to be exact, with four at Music Hall of Williamsburg and then four at The Bowery Ballroom. According to the band, there’s a pool of 700 songs to choose from, giving those fans attending each show with something new every night. Dr. Dog’s set on Saturday at Music Hall covered the fan favorites and dug deeper into their catalog, leaving everyone with a handful of new ones to adore. In my case, “Be the Void,” off the Wild Race EP. (How could I have missed this song?)
Dr. Dog adapt their live show to their recordings, not the other way around, which is impressive when you consider the complexity of their harmonies. Take “The Breeze,” with its harmonic breakdowns reminiscent of the Beach Boys’. Most would hear that recording and assume Dr. Dog wouldn’t even attempt it live, never mind the fact that they could make it sound even better onstage—and they do. It certainly helps that Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken, who share lead-vocal responsibilities, have complementary singing voices. The two have been writing music together since early adolescence, which probably helps with their harmonizing. If you had to distill Dr. Dog and their live experience down to one word, it’d be: fun. And or the sake of not having to look up synonyms, I’ll just keep repeating the word. “That Old Black Hole” makes for a fun band’s most fun song. Their cover of Architecture in Helsinki’s “Heart It Races” takes someone else’s fun song and makes it even more fun.
After finishing “Lonesome,” Leaman ended up crowd surfing alongside seemingly everyone else in the building. Not in the punk-rock, jump-off-the-stage-in-a-spur-of-the-moment way, but more in a gradual collapse into the audience, as if the crowd had swallowed him whole, a funny gesture considering he’d just sung about being lonely. Delicate Steve’s Steve Marion came out for a guest appearance to rip a massive guitar solo, leaving just him and the drummer while the rest of the band sneaked off, returning in full force for a blazing rendition of “These Days.” If you missed this show, there’s still a chance to catch Dr. Dog on Monday. And if you miss that … well you had eight other chances, so get your shit together. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks
Tags: Architecture in Helsinki, Beach Boys, Bowery Ballroom, Delicate Steve, Dr. Dog, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Photos, Review, Scott McMicken, Steve Marion, Toby Leaman, Wild Race
Posted in House List, Photos and Review No Comments »
Deftly mixing melodic pop and psychedelic rock, Dr. Dog have been winning over fans for more than a decade. And even after releasing seven terrific studio albums, the Philly rockers are still most known for their energetic live performances. And to that end, a live album, the 19-song Live at a Flamingo Hotel (stream it here), comes out next Tuesday. And tomorrow night, Dr. Dog (above, performing “Shadow People” for the live album) kick off a new tour with eight(!) shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg and The Bowery Ballroom. Six of those dates are already sold out, but some tickets still remain for 1/12 at Music Hall and 1/14 at The Bowery Ballroom. But they’re going fast—so don’t get shut out.
Russell Whyte grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, with an interest in music. By the age of 15, he was already playing the guitar and spinning on turntables. He first burst onto the scene—under the name Rustie—in 2007 as a producer, deftly mixing dubstep, funk, hip-hop and electronica. Two years later, Rustie (above, doing “City Star” at MoMA PS1 for Pitchfork) joined Warp’s roster, and his debut full-length, the psychedelic-tinged Glass Swords (stream it below), came out in 2010 to some considerable acclaim. According to the Guardian, the album “is almost entirely composed of dance-floor highs, a series of those hands-in-the-air peak-time moments that stick in the memory long after the rest of the night has turned hazy…. Rustie has a knack for an irresistible hook, and for knowing when to stick with it and move on.” His second LP, the more serious Green Language (stream it below), came out last summer. And critics were again impressed. Per Spin, the album excels “not only because of its smooth integration of ambient, experimental and R&B influences, but also as a seamlessly ranging and novel concept album.” And it delivers, “serving as a fascinating turn for an artist who earned his reputation by essentially bashing fans into submission with bass.” Of course, performing live, he’s a little subtler, which you can experience for yourself tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Straight out of New Jersey, Nadus open the show.
Hometown favorites the Hold Steady close out the year by staying local with two sold-out shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg, tonight and tomorrow. And since we’re still in the giving mood, The House List is offering up two tickets to see them on New Year’s Eve. So if you got shut out before, try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. 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 (Hold Steady, 12/31) and a brief message explaining your favorite tune on Teeth Dreams. Eddie Bruiser, a fan of the Hold Steady’s entire discography, will notify the winner by tomorrow. Good luck and happy New Year.
Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Nick Lowe has been a big part of British music—specifically rock, power pop and New Wave—since the ’70s, steadily releasing music and delighting fans across the globe. And despite the fact that his Christmas album, last year’s terrific Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family (stream it below), received terrific reviews—per Relix, “While Lowe’s recent critically acclaimed CDs have mined a mellow, melancholic mood, Quality Street sparkles with holiday cheer”—Lowe (above, performing “Christmas at the Airport” live in studio for WFUV FM) never toured in support of it … until now. In fact, Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue (which includes Los Straitjackets and the Cactus Blossoms) hit the road last week, and they’re headed our way not once but twice, on Sunday at The Bowery Ballroom and on 12/20 at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Tags: Bowery Ballroom, Cactus Blossoms, Los Straitjackets, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Nick Lowe, Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue, Preview, Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family, Video
Posted in House List, Preview, Video No Comments »
Unaccompanied by any biographical information, the debut EP Your Old Droog arrived seemingly out of nowhere on SoundCloud this past spring, with a slow-building air of mystery following it. Who is this guy? No one knew—or if they did, they weren’t saying. People speculated, and thanks to raspy vocals and easy flow, many began to think it was Nas using an alias. But it turns out Your Old Droog is his own man. In August, he revealed himself to the New Yorker as a 25-year-old rapper from Coney Island. And in October, Rolling Stone, labeled Your Old Droog a New Artist You Need to Know, citing his “arch rhymes, brain-breaking puns and effortless delivery,” adding that he sounds like “chops-heavy, pun-soaked true school New York hip-hop made to break the rewind button on
your Walkman.” A self-titled LP (stream it below) arrived in November to some considerable acclaim. NPR gave it a glowing review: “The songs are short and sharp, and all the hoopla around Your Old Droog has turned out to be decidedly beside the point…. The way this album is constructed lets you watch a talent mature.” Your Old Droog (above, in the video for “Nutty Bars” and, below, freestyling) told RS that people “think they got me pegged, but they don’t know how I really get down.” Perhaps you can see how he gets down live when he plays a hometown show at Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night. Spanish Harlem rapper Dave East opens the show.
James Blake is like a fine wine: His live performances get better over time. Last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, the English singer drew complete silence as he opened the show, his entrancing hum casting a spell over the audience, making anyone in the room with testosterone turn all gooey on the inside. I have boobs, so I’m already made that way, and as a result, I completely melted all over the floor.
In case you’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel a full range of human emotions, witnessing James Blake live will remind you. It’s a psychological roller coaster of feels, from the pure joy of hearing his crystallizing vocals to the overwhelming sadness of his slow-burning piano ballads. Blake’s soul-crushing rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” still jerks a tear (or 50) from my eyes every time I hear it, damn it. Then there’s the part when you feel anger, jealousy and spite, because seriously, how can one human be that talented?
Blake showcased his diversity as a producer and as a singer-songwriter while bouncing across genres, from deep house into trap before whipping into piano solos on “Limit to Your Love,” “A Case of You” and “Overgrown.” One of the best things about the show was seeing the enjoyment on Blake’s face, resonating throughout his performance. But the night’s real highlights were “Retrograde,” which had the entire crowd humming and cooing, and then the encore of “The Wilhelm Scream,” leaving everyone on a total high. —Pip Cowley | @PipCowley
Merrill Garbus’s tour in support of her third (terrific) Tune-Yards album, Nikki Nack, is winding down now, but not before she comes to Brooklyn for four shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg this week. There are still tickets to see her on Sunday, but her Thursday, Friday and Saturday appearances are already sold out. However, The House List is giving away two tickets to see Tune-Yards on Saturday night. And if you want ’em to be yours, 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 (Tune-Yards, 12/6) and a brief message explaining why December rocks. Eddie Bruiser, a fan of Nikki Nack and the twelfth month, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Tags: Contest, Eddie Bruiser, Free Tickets, Grow a Pair, Merrill Garbus, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Nikki Nack, Tune-Yards
Posted in Contest, Grow a Pair, House List, Promotions, Ticket Giveaway No Comments »
Dave Brandwein (vocals and guitar) and Taylor Shell (bass) formed the nine-piece funk orchestra Turkuaz—rounded out by Craig Brodhead (guitar and synths), Chris Brouwers (trumpet and keys), Greg Sanderson (sax), Joshua Schwartz (sax and vocals), Michelangelo Carubba (drums) and Sammi Garett (tambourine and vocals)—in 2008. Mixing Funk, R&B and Motown with world-music flourishes, Turkuaz (above, performing “Future 86” live at Brooklyn Bowl) take cues from bands like Parliament, Sly and the Family Stone and Talking Heads. Their most recent album, Future 86 (stream it below), came out in April, and it’s filled with the psychedelic funk and brassy soul that’s become one of the funk army’s calling cards. Another is their electric stage performances: “If you’re a good live band, you’ve got to get out and play. That’s really all there is to it,” Brandwein told Relix. See for yourself on Saturday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Energetic Baltimore five-piece Pigeons Playing Ping Pong opens the show.
Tags: Chris Brouwers, Craig Brodhead, Dave Brandwein, Greg Sanderson, Joshua Schwartz, Michelangelo Carubba, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Parliament, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Preview, Sammi Garett, Sly and the Family Stone, Talking Heads, Taylor Shell, Turkuaz, Video
Posted in House List, Preview, Video No Comments »
Australian brothers (and vocalists) Isaac (keys) and Thorald Koren (guitar) had played with a number of other musicians before they teamed up with Buffalo’s bare-knuckle drummer Mark Nicosia, who goes by Shakerleg. Together, they’re the Kin, and the power trio has been known to stage musical robberies, by striding into a location—a deli, a bar, an airport—and shouting, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a musical robbery” before winning over the crowd with an original tune. “We’re looking to surprise people and give them a musical experience,” says Isaac. The Kin (above, performing “On the Rise” on Conan) have been touring behind last year’s debut EP, Get On It (stream it below), while readying a proper full-length. And they return home to headline Music Hall of Williamsbug tomorrow night. Soulful rocker Matt MacKelcan opens the show.