Tag Archives: Music Hall of Williamsburg
She burst onto the scene—alongside Wyclef and Pras—in 1996 as one-third of the Fugees, thanks to the trio’s highly acclaimed second album, The Score. With their winning mix of hip-hop, reggae and soul, the Fugees were absolutely huge. But when Ms. Lauryn Hill went solo with the release of the groundbreaking, Grammy-winning The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill two years later, she instantly became one of the biggest names in music all across the globe. Her face was plastered on magazines everywhere, and songs like “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and “Everything Is Everything” were in constant rotation on the radio. Ms. Lauryn Hill, above, doing “Doo Wop (That Thing)” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, recently released “Neurotic Society,” her first new single since Miseducation. And last week, she tweeted: “Hi! Decided to do a last minute show next week in Brooklyn @MusicHallofWB. Wanted to play NS live! –MLH.” In other words, you can see one of the most talented musicians of the past two decades tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Shout Out Louds – Webster Hall – May 10, 2013
It seems like it would be tough to quickly one-up a sold-out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg that happened just days after releasing a new album (Optica), but Shout Out Louds found a way to do just that with their massive show at Webster Hall on Friday night. The Swedish pop-rock band performed with humble grins as they played songs primarily from their last two albums, and they—or specifically, lead singer Adam Olenius—seemed overwhelmed by the crowd’s familiarity with the new material. The two floors of fans cheered from the moment Shout Out Louds opened with Optica’s first track, “Sugar,” and they didn’t settle down until after the band had finished, more than an hour and a half later.
The five-piece’s live show isn’t necessarily remarkable in any outrageous way, but that also means they shy away from leaning on gimmicks and distractions. But since the band’s songwriting is so strong (see: “14th of July” or “Fall Hard”) and their performance is so earnest, they still know how to wow a crowd. Surrounded by a constant fog, which, lit by towering light posts around the stage, glowed ice blue and wood-fire orange, the band split time between recreating more lively versions of those recorded tracks and engaging the Webster Hall audience. Olenius even told a story about the group’s first New York City show, at which there were fewer people than there were buckets on the floor catching rainwater leaking through the dingy venue’s ceiling. Not long after his tale, Olenius had to struggle to make his way to the middle of the venue before sitting down in the crowd during the end of show-capper “Tonight I Have to Leave It.” Oh, how far they’ve come. —Sean O’Kane
Tags: Adam Olenius, Bebban Stenborg, Carl von Arbin, Eric Edman, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Optica, Photos, Review, Shout Out Louds, Ted Malmros, Webster Hall
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Steve Earle and the Dukes – Music Hall of Williamsburg – May 8, 2013
Steve Earle is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. He was first introduced to me as the character Walon on The Wire, the kind-hearted sponsor seeing Bubbles through rehab. More recently he was the street performer Harley on the New Orleans–based, post-Katrina Treme. In the mid to late ’80s, he was a country rocker getting a taste of mainstream success. In the ’90s, he battled his way through drug addiction, becoming stronger in the process, and put out some of the best music of his life—moving much closer to the folk-rock singer-songwriter realm, penning songs designed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Earle’s never shied away from politics, taking on all kinds of activist roles. With his heart on his sleeve, Earle’s an easy guy to like, and through all these chapters of his life, he’s built an interesting persona.
The Steve Earle of today is one happy fellow. It shows onstage, and he’ll be the first to admit it. “This is the best band I have ever had,” Earle told the Music Hall of Williamsburg crowd last night as he introduced the four backing members of his band, the Dukes. He repeated this claim when discussing his inspiration for his latest album, The Low Highway, telling the audience, “I wanted to record an album with the best band I’ve ever had.” This doesn’t feel like hyperbole: The band is perfect for Earle, and it’s a demanding role considering his music hits on just about every genre, seems to involve every instrument imaginable and is as powerful as it is in hard-rocking loud moments as it is in hushed and fragile ones. The back of the stage was filled with an impressive lineup of guitars, mandolins, banjos and just about every other stringed instrument you could imagine.
Earle’s set included favorites for every fan imaginable, classics like “Copperhead Road,” “Guitar Town” and “Hard-Core Troubadour,” plus newer tunes like “The Galway Girl” and “You’re Still Standing There.” Earle introduced his heartfelt tribute to New Orleans, “This City,” as a song that now also speaks just as well to the hurricane-ravaged neighborhoods of our own New York City. For “I Thought You Should Know,” he blew through a gnarled harmonica solo, playing the instrument so close to the microphone that it simultaneously sounded familiar and rough around the edges, with the wailing harmonica sounds barely escaping through layers of distortion and grit. If there ever were a moment to perfectly capture what Earle’s music and life are all about, it was this one. —Dan Rickershauser
There’s a pretty good chance his voice will sound familiar even if his name doesn’t. And that’s because most people know Aaron Freeman as Gene Ween, frontman to the much-loved-but-now-gone alt-rockers Ween. But even before the band’s demise, Freeman had begun playing solo shows. So it should come as surprise that he finally recorded a solo album under his own name (although he’d released a Gene Ween album back in 1987). Marvelous Clouds (stream it below), filled with 12 covers of pop poet Roc McKuen songs, came out last year. AllMusic says it “achieves the near impossible, sounding like both a totally logical continuation of his band of the previous two decades, Ween, as well as a massive and legitimate musical step forward.” And with more than two decades of stage experience, you just know that Freeman (above, doing “Object” in studio at WNRN FM in Central Virginia) brings it every night. Even better, he also brings Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz with him. See them tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Brother and sister Rachel (vocals and percussion) and Rob (vocals and guitar) Kolar started making music together “just for fun in the beginning, an acoustic duo sort of thing,” says Rob. But it became something bigger, a five-piece—with Lauren Brown (drums), Oliver “Oliwa” Newell (bass) and Aaron Robinson (guitar)—called He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, making what the band calls “glam-a-billy,” “vaudeville blues” and “flamboyant folk.” Thanks in part to the party-onstage vibe of their live shows, the band generated plenty of buzz in their native California even before their debut full-length, the upbeat Nobody Dances in This Town (stream it below), came out a few months ago. The album earned He’s My Brother She’s My Sister (above, doing “The Same Old Ground” on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson) comparisons to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, plus it brings them to Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night.
Tags: Aaron Robinson, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, Lauren Brown, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Nobody Dances in This Town, Oliver “Oliwa” Newell, Preview, Rachel Kolar, Rob Kolar, Video
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Singer-songwriter-guitarist Johnny Marr, formerly of the Smiths and Modest Mouse but currently of himself, comes to Brooklyn on Friday to play Music Hall of Williamsburg. He’s got a terrific new album and the show sold out quickly. But have no fear because The House List is giving away two tickets. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easier than you think. 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 (Johnny Marr, 5/3) and a brief message explaining why you deserve a free night out on the town. Eddie Bruiser, who’s looking for the same, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Tags: Eddie Bruiser, Grow a Pair, Johnny Marr, Modest Mouse, Music Hall of Williamsburg, The Messenger, the Smiths
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 26, 2013
The world of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. now operates on one law of nature and physics: If some is good, more is better. This wasn’t always the case for Dan Zott and Josh Epstein. Early on, they made their name wearing NASCAR racing suits and trafficking in Pet Sounds–era two-part harmonies. The first song on their debut EP, “Nothing but Our Love,” was sort of a simple offer compared to the bombast that’s begun creeping into their more recent work. Thus begins something of a second life with a new EP, the two-weeks-old Patterns: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. in an active and obvious evolution. Bubbles, cloth lanterns, enormous inflatable balls and human beings—the band sent spheres of all kinds into revolution if not outright orbit on Friday night at a very sold-out and frenetic Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. opened with a brief teaser of the “na-na-na” chorus of first-LP jam “An Ugly Person on a Movie Screen” before making the transition to open with the recent “Hiding,” an enormous slice of buzzing synth pop. With Zott rocking a side ponytail in his curly brown hair, and both members wearing matching paisley suits, the sounds owed themselves to the crossover of “We Are Young,” by fun., but the visual aesthetics were all LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” This was as exciting to the Warner Music contingent in the balcony as it was to the combustible fans on the floor. Dale Earnhardt. Jr. Jr. turned to play “Simple Girl,” a sweet little song from their first LP, It’s a Corporate World, before running through “Vocal Chords” and some new material, noting, “You’ll know this one,” prior to playing “Morning Thought.”
But, unquestionably, the moment of the evening occurred when the enormous inflatable white sphere that stood like an unpigmented sun above the stage was lit with projected animation, making a gigantic Lego-man face that sang along with the music. The face became 8-bit animation to go with the lyrics for “Skeletons,” a loop of the life cycle of a tiny pixelated man and woman. The song, about the twin impulses of forgetting and remembering the past, rang perfectly for the band on the cusp of something of a big next movement, the next turn, the lives of imagined selves and illuminated orbs set against the “skeletons buried in the backyard.” —Geoff Nelson
Tags: Album Review, Beach Boys, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Daniel Zott, fun., It’s a Corporate World, Josh Epstein, LMFAO, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Patterns, Pet Sounds
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Goat – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 23, 2013
The backstory on Goat is that they’re from some isolated region of Sweden, but after watching the great cosmic freak-out that is their live show Tuesday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, I’m not so sure that isn’t some sort of elaborate cover story for actually being a bunch of extraterrestrials here to rearrange our brains. The band, their music and the buzz surrounding them seemed to all appear at once in some kind of spontaneous combustion some time last year adding to my conspiracy theory. The coup de grâce, though, was how the entire group appeared onstage with masks on, fully dressed for some psychedelic costume party, hiding something.
Once they started playing, though, each instrument jumping in one at a time, the sold-out crowd wasn’t too concerned with Goat’s origins. The music was largely from last year’s World Music album, which is an apt title: Their show was like these aliens had swallowed the planet whole—the people, their music, their clothing, their cultures—and then regurgitated it in mind-numbing musical form. The result was Indian raga crossed with Afrobeat and Native American tribal rhythms through some sort of Black Sabbath-meets-the-Grateful-Dead rock and roll lens. In a word: Whoa!
The set was 60 minutes of relentless activity, the crowd alternating between funk-night boogie, arms-raised raging and eyes-closed beatification. Most pieces opened into an extended instrumental jam, guitars, bass, drums and congas reaching some interplanetary spot. As awe-inspiring as these forays were, the keys to the operation, surprisingly, were the two ladies up front who sang, undulated, danced and maraca-ed their way across the stage in constant motion. Their voices brought form to the songs, their percussive flourishes were the imported finery the music was draped in, their movement rooted the audience to terra firma, lest our bodies join our minds on the mother ship, to be taken back to that spot in Scandinavia, or whatever planet Goat call home. —A. Stein
Shuggie Otis – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 19, 2013
On Friday night, Music Hall of Williamsburg played host to legendary musician Shuggie Otis, who rose to fame thanks to his funky fusion of rock, R&B and psychedelic soul before more or less fading away, all within the span of the 1970s. However, over the past few years, Otis has been making up for lost time with a slew of performances, as well as a recent reissue of his 1974 record, Inspiration Information, alongside Wings of Love, a companion album with new and previously unreleased material.
As Otis and his seven-piece band filed onstage and readied for the set, his trumpet player, also serving as unofficial host and hype man, riled up crowd with a warning: “Brooklyn! Beware. If you have never been dominated, I give you three minutes to exit. And if you do not exit…it’s on! We will not be merciful.” Otis unleashed the domination through his guitar, opening with Inspiration Information’s title track, much to the delight of a crowd filled with folks who looked like they may not have been alive during his heyday, plus a strong contingent of original fans, all grooving along to the mellow melody. Otis and his band treated the crowd to more old favorites like “Aht Uh Mi Hed” and “Island Letter,” as well as songs from the new LP, “Tryin’ to Get Close to You” and “Wings of Love.”
In contrast to the long curly locks that were a signature look on his 1970s album covers, present-day Otis wore a stylish wide-brimmed hat, hair short and slicked back. Occasionally closing his eyes as he sang—and tilting his head back and smiling when playing an especially satisfying riff—he was an understated yet commanding presence onstage. As the show progressed, the reserved Otis seemed to loosen up a little, getting lost in intricate guitar solos during songs like “Sparkle City.” After an encore of “Ice Cold Daydream” the band left the stage, seemingly for good, and as the audience began to file out, a group of fans began to chant for Shuggie Otis to come back and play his 1971 hit “Strawberry Letter 23.” After several rounds of “Straw-ber-ry! Straw-ber-ry!” the band was back, obliging the demands with a spirited version of the song, just as smooth and catchy as it must have sounded back then. —Alena Kastin
The Joy Formidable – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 17, 2013
Now known very well for their dreamy brand of ear-shaking indie rock, the Joy Formidable spent their first night of two in New York City playing a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wednesday. The Welsh band sped through their set at a torrid pace, only letting up here and there to engage the crowd. In tandem with the ongoing musical mayhem, the whole show was accompanied by a wide range of visuals projected behind the trio, ranging from black-and-white desert scenery to colorful graphics to a clip of willing-to-eat-anything Internet star Shoenice during the loudest parts of “Maw Maw Song.”
Lead singer Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan strutted across the stage in all sorts of quirky ways, especially when she wanted to accent a different part of the song she was playing. And while the Joy Formidable are perhaps most recognizable for their thrashiest, distortion- laden spacey guitar parts, this atypically small-sized show helped them display their dynamic side. During the new song “Silent Treatment,” bassist Rhydian Dafydd switched to an incredibly roomy-sounding acoustic guitar—and a few songs from their very first EP particularly showed from where the band’s musical depth comes. Of course, they returned to their anthemic ways, closing the set and bookending that shift with their biggest hit, “Whirring,” which helped send home a happy Brooklyn crowd, including many who will surely return on night two at Webster Hall. —Sean O’Kane
Like so many of us, much of Johnny Alexander Veliotes Jr. stems from his parents. His prodigious musical chops were passed down from his dad, R&B pioneer Johnny Otis, and his nickname—short for sugar—came courtesy of his mom. Because without them, the world wouldn’t know of Shuggie Otis. A precocious child, he first appeared on an album when he was just 15, which would be a pretty big deal for most kids. But then the next year, 1969, his debut album, Here Comes Shuggie Otis, arrived. Freedom Flight, led by “Ice Cold Daydream” and “Strawberry Letter 23,” followed in 1971. The latter song became known the world over several years later thanks to the Quincy Jones–produced version done by the Brothers Johnson. Otis would then spend three years writing, arranging, producing and recording the soul, funk and psychedelic cult classic Inspiration Information, out in 1974. And then: poof. That was it. Despite overtures from the likes of Jones, the Rolling Stones and Billy Preston, Otis declined to tour or put out any more new music—other than working as a sideman—and eventually his recording contract was nullified. But, fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Because two days ago Inspiration Information was reissued alongside Wings of Love (stream both below), comprised of unreleased material dating back to 1975. And while that’s great news, the absolute best part of this is that you can see Shuggie Otis tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg— and you can try to win two tickets.
Tags: Billy Preston, Freedom Flight, Here Comes Shuggie Otis, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Preview, Quincy Jones, Rolling Stones, Shuggie Otis, the Brothers Johnson, Video, Wings of Love
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