Tag Archives: My Morning Jacket

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Old Friends in a New Band at Mercury Lounge

June 4th, 2014

Spanish Gold – Mercury Lounge – June 3, 2014

Spanish Gold – Mercury Lounge – June 3, 2014
As a freelancer, you’re constantly answering questions like “Where are you working now?” and “What’s next?”—or even “How do you keep all that straight?” These questions are something I’d imagine Spanish Gold’s Dante Schwebel and Patrick Hallahan are also used to answering, considering they’ve been a part of a number of different bands over the past few years, all which led them here.

Schwebel bounced around the country with Texas rockers Hacienda for a few years, recently opened for Pink with City and Colour, and he also toured as Dan Auerbach’s lead guitarist (a tour that stopped at Webster Hall in 2009). Hallahan, who is better known for his role as My Morning Jacket’s rhythm keeper, manned drums and percussion on that tour. The two added another killer lead guitarist in Adrian Quesada, plus a bassist and two singers (one on keys, one on percussion), and voilà: Spanish Gold.

Last night, the experienced musicians sounded far better than a new band normally does, and the Southwestern-rock sound had Mercury Lounge in party mode from the first song to the last, a surprising yet remarkable cover of Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison.” (Schwebel joked that since they had run out of songs to play they might as well do something with some “funk.”) The room was just about completely full for the late-night set thanks in part to the band’s origin story, but they all certainly seemed happy to keep jamming in this current arrangement for a while to come. If not, at least we’ll know it won’t be long before we get to see the members of Spanish Gold rock out as something else. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Catch Thievery Corporation Tonight at the Capitol Theatre

December 20th, 2013

For more than a decade, Rob Garza (who will appear at My Morning Jacket’s One Big Holiday next month) and Eric Hilton have been mashing together jazz, reggae, bossa nova, dub and club music to make their own unique trippy instrumental dance music as Thievery Corporation. The Washington, D.C., DJ duo put out Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi in 1997, and they haven’t looked back since. They continue to record new music, but Thievery Corporation (above, doing “Warning Shots”) are best known for their high-energy full-band performances, knocking out audiences across the globe. Their show on Saturday at Webster Hall is sold out, but you can see them tonight at the Capitol Theatre.

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Spend Saturday Night with Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Apollo

November 15th, 2013

The venerable Preservation Hall Jazz Band (above, performing “That’s It” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!) have been playing sweet, sweet traditional New Orleans jazz for more than half a century. With such a long lifespan, the lineup has obviously changed over the years since the group first found a home at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter in the 1960s. But the eight-piece, led by creative director (and sousaphonist and bassist) Ben Jaffe, remain loyal jazz ambassadors, bringing the gift of NOLA music across the country and even the world, while still finding time to record and release new material, like this year’s That’s It! (stream it below), and perform with the likes of My Morning Jacket, Dr. John and the Black Keys. And you can see them at the world renowned Apollo Theater tomorrow.

(Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be a part of My Morning Jacket’s One Big Holiday at the Hard Rock Hotel in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera in January.)

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One Big Holiday Is Now Even Bigger

October 31st, 2013

As if My Morning Jacket’s four-night beach-destination concert adventure One Big Holiday at the Hard Rock Hotel in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera weren’t already shaping up to be pretty epic—with three “totally unique shows plus an off-the-hook dance party hosted by the band that promises plenty of surprises”—it’s recently gotten even bigger with the addition of the Flaming Lips (above, doing “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1”), Preservation Hall Jazz Band (MMJ with horns!), Mariachi El Bronx and Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza. Of course, it’s not totally about the music. There will also be plenty of other activities, like daily yoga classes, tequila tastings, theme nights and all sorts of off-site excursions. This is something not to miss: It’s One Big Holiday.

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Heavyweights on the Hudson

July 29th, 2013

My Morning Jacket/Wilco/Bob Dylan – Hoboken Pier A Park – July 26, 2013

(Photo: Eddie Bruiser)

What a view! What a bill! What a night! With a stage bracketed by the Empire State Building on one side and the Freedom Tower on the other—and just about perfect outdoor-concert weather—the AmericanaramA tour landed at Pier A Park in Hoboken, N.J., on Friday night. It was an evening for the skyscrapers of live rock and roll to strut their stuff on the same stage. My Morning Jacket began with “Circuital,” Jim James’s acoustic guitar sounding crisp in the summer air. MMJ are masters of the festival set, providing the perfect balance of fan favorites and special moments while packing enough of them into a limited time slot to make it feel like a much longer show. And so within the first four or five songs, the Jacket seemed to hit a couple dozen different spots and styles: “First Light” with a Flying V guitar, Carl Broemel on sax and funky keys from Bo Koster, “The Way That He Sings” with James belting it out to the crowd, a sweet spaced-out “Off the Record” with scrape-the-sky guitar work, and the steel-and-acoustic guitar summer-sun beauty of “Golden.” The special moments came when Brian Jackson joined in on flute, matching James’s howling on a great drums-and-bass-driven “It Beats 4 U” and adding a groovy R&B feel to the Gil Scott-Heron cover “The Bottle.” The action-packed set ended with opener Ryan Bingham coming back for a perfect sing-along cover of the Holland-Dozier-Holland classic “Don’t Do It,” in the style of the Band, multiple guitars manifesting the sound and energy of a full horn section.

Next up, Wilco, another fest-set vet, performed a set perfectly complementing My Morning Jacket’s. They opened with “Dawned on Me,” Nels Cline on a gigantic double-neck guitar that screamed, “Hey, why waste time with formalities?!” Like MMJ, they covered a wide range within the first few songs: “Misunderstood” heavy on the dynamics, the whole band playing to the perfection of the moment, twangy backdrop to Jeff Tweedy’s vocals on “Forget the Flowers” and a rocking “Handshake Drugs,” aka “Nels Cline Unleashed.” While Tweedy may never be Bob Dylan, songs like “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” might make you reconsider. Friday evening, it was literally played for the gorgeous setting sun, a full-color sonic masterpiece with the line “and the city kept blinking” resonating against the Manhattan skyline. Again, the great set got better when they brought out guests, first Warren Haynes for a bluesy “Feed of a Man,” featuring a Godzilla vs. Mothra battle with Cline. (Ironically, Haynes left for the most Allman Brothers-y Wilco tune, “Walken.”) After a let’s-just-rock-out section of “I’m the Man Who Loves You” and “I Got You (At the End of the Century),” they invited Ian Hunter onstage for the end of the set, dedicated to Maxwell’s. The Mott the Hoople frontman led the band through a folkie, “I Wish I Was Your Mother.” The set finished in large, this-is-the-big-city fashion: first Haynes joining with some beautiful playing on a great “California Stars” and then all of My Morning Jacket and Bingham on a fun! wow! cover of “All the Young Dudes.”

Not bad, right? But wait, there’s more! The granddaddy of them all, Bob Dylan and His Band, closed the show. Dylan is still getting it done, the Chrysler Building to the taller and newer high-rises, his voice approaching old bluesman growl. His set featured plenty of newer songs and old classics—plus a cover of “The Weight” with Tweedy, James and the J. Geils Band’s Peter Wolf—his band sounding great with a perfect mix of blues and country under a clear night sky. Compared to the opening sets, Dylan took his own pace, a natural gait of a man who’s done a few shows in his time. Personally, I was excited to hear two of my favorite Dylan tunes, “Tangled Up in Blue” and “She Belongs to Me.” What a night! —A. Stein

 

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Diamond Doves Lead Packed Bill Tonight at Mercury Lounge

July 18th, 2013

Chances are you’ve already seen Diamond Doves before and didn’t even know it. Maybe it was when they were Elvis Perkins’ bitchin’, bendable backing band, In Dearland. Or maybe it was as the special-guest horn section for My Morning Jacket or Bon Iver (amongst others) … or opening for Marco Benevento or the Felice Brothers. Not an accident that these guys are called upon to play with the best, but they’re much more than just someone else’s horn section. On their own, they’re a fully hyphenated folk-psych-rock multi-instrumentalist trio, equal parts the Beatles and the Band. They top a jam-packed bill, including Brooklyn’s Caged Animals, tonight at Mercury Lounge. —A. Stein

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Treetop Flyers Celebrate Album Release Tomorrow at Mercury Lounge

June 25th, 2013

Friends Reid Morrison (vocals and guitar), Sam Beer (guitar and vocals), Tomer Danan (drums and vocals), Laurie Sherman (guitar) and Matthew Starritt (bass and vocals) were playing in different London bands—although Danan is the lone American among them—when they teamed up to form the folkie, Americana-tinged Treetop Flyers in 2009. That they play cool, roots-y music should come as no surprise considering Morrison cites My Morning Jacket, Jonathan Wilson and Matthew E. White as influences. As a live band, Treetop Flyers (above, playing “Things Will Change” for FaceCulture) burst onto the scene by winning the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition in 2011, putting them on the venerable festival’s main stage and setting them up to open for bands like the Lumineers. As for their recorded material, they put out a few singles and an EP on Communion Records (co-owned by Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett) before switching over to Brooklyn’s Partisan Records for debut full-length, The Mountain Moves (stream it below), out today. Join in on the celebration when they celebrate its release tomorrow at Mercury Lounge.

 

 

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A Collaboration Grows in Brooklyn

June 19th, 2013

The Roots and Jim James – Prospect Park Bandshell – June 18, 2013


Let’s face it, musical collaborations rarely pan out. With too many artists pulling a song in too many directions, before you know it, you’ve got “We Are the World.” But if there’s one group that can make collaboration worthwhile, it’s the Roots. As the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, they’ve thrown their musical superpowers behind plenty of visiting musicians, with the end result almost always turning out exceptional. So how would a collaborative “State of the Union” show in Prospect Park turn out between the Roots and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, one of the greatest, soulful voices to come out of recent history? Is the answer so obvious that asking this rhetorical question seems silly?

The show kicked off promptly at 7 p.m. with James and his backing band. Despite the early start time and lousy weather, an impressive number of umbrella-wielding fans made it there on time. His set ran through most of his debut solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God, before closing with Monsters of Folk songs “The Right Place” and “Changing World.” The Roots followed with a formidable set of their own as the rain began to clear, starting off rather appropriately with “Table of Contents (Parts 1 & 2),” which dissolved into a cover of “Jungle Boogie.” One song often bled into another, keeping the music flowing and energy levels high, with the band using the massive stage to run from side to side, keeping the crowd’s attention. There were a few pauses to showcase some serious musicianship, with Damon “Tuba Gooding Jr.” Bryson blowing through a vicious sousaphone solo (yes, these things exist). Brooklyn’s own Captain Kirk Douglas ripped through a Pete Frampton-esque talky guitar solo on “You Got Me.”

Jim James returned to the stage when the clock struck 10, kicking off things with the 2.0 version of Monsters of Folk’s “Dear God,” which originated from the band’s appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. This was followed by a trifecta of covers: Prince’s “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” a superfunky rendition of Bill Withers’ “Use Me” and ending with John Lennon’s powerful “Instant Karma!” Were it not for the park’s hard stop time, the show probably could have gone on forever, as the Roots and James were certainly enjoying themselves. The best we can do for now is hope that these two musical forces meet again, some time sooner rather than later. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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The Roots and Jim James Team Up Tonight in Prospect Park

June 18th, 2013

The relationship between Jim James and the Roots goes back at least to November 2009, when the Philly hip-hop crew backed Monsters of Folk doing “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. It went so well that when the Roots put out their next album, How I Got Over, the following year, it featured the My Morning Jacket frontman on “Dear God 2.0.” So when James released his first solo full-length, Regions of Light and God and Sound, earlier this year, it came as no surprise that not only did he promote it on Fallon’s show, but also the Roots backed him again—this time on a staggeringly terrific version of “A New Life,” above. (The tune didn’t just appeal to viewers: Questlove made James promise to play the song at the drummer’s future wedding.) And now, building on that, Jim James and the Roots team up for one evening
of collaborative performances tonight at the Prospect Park Bandshell to help support the free programming at Celebrate Brooklyn.

 

 

 

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Jim James Lights Up Webster Hall

April 30th, 2013

Jim James – Webster Hall – April 29, 2013


Jim James is a human sunset: the multihued snapshot-worthy phenomenon bridging day and night. So it made perfect sense that the stage backdrop for his way-sold-out Webster Hall show last night was an array of LEDs spoked like the rays of the sun as it passes over the horizon—and it even displayed the colors to match. Opening with “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.),” the lead track off his new Regions of Light and Sound of God album, James appropriately sang, “You need the dark as much as the sun” as his backing band laid down a vicious nighttime groove.

The rest of the show was essentially a live version of the album, a set that felt broken into a few smaller parts. The opening number coupled with the heavy keys-and-bass “Know Til Now” represented James’s “Don’t worry, Webster Hall, I brought my own disco” portion of the night, the audience matching the energy from the stage as best they could. Next was a quieter, more acoustic section, marked by the beautiful instrumental “Exploding” followed by the pretty-melody section highlighted by “Of the Mother Again,” the lights flipping between sky blue and cloud white while a very funky extended Rhodes vamp churned the crowd. The set closed with a dark last-purple-throes-of-daylight pairing, headed by “All Is Forgiven,” with a constant swell of bass guitar and a marked rise in intensity that was stretched out into wonderful, mysterious-shroud territory.

Throughout, James’s presence was the focus. His activity was like an ’80s movie montage of motion, touching the extended fingers of those in the front row with his own, like E.T. with a cosmic cure-all, dancing away like an extra in Footloose with uninhibited glee and even doing some sort of mutation of Daniel LaRusso’s crane technique. Still, when it came down to it, his band carried the show. Whether it was an early set drum solo, full-groove keyboard playing, heavy guitar distortion or the constant funky bass, members of the audience were constantly craning their necks to see who was playing what and from where which sound was coming. As they followed James through a five-song, B-sides and rarities kind of encore that included “His Master’s Voice” and “The Right Place” off the Monsters of Folk album, it seemed this band needed their own name, an identity of their own. I think Jim James and the Sunsets has a nice ring to it. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

(Jim James and the Roots play Celebrate Brooklyn at Prospect Park on 6/18, and My Morning Jacket, Wilco and Bob Dylan play Pier A in Hoboken, N.J., on 7/26.)

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Jim James on 4/29

April 23rd, 2013

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My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James comes to Webster Hall next Monday in support of his terrific solo full-length, Regions of Light and Sound of God. The show sold out quickly, as expected (although you can see him alongside the Roots at Celebrate Brooklyn at Prospect Park on 6/18), but The House List is giving away two tickets. Want ’em? Then 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 (Jim james, 4/29) and a brief message explaining your favorite tune on the new album. Eddie Bruiser, who will neither confirm nor deny he was onstage for this performance, will notify the winner by Friday.

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The Life-Affirming Power of Lord Huron

February 25th, 2013

Lord Huron – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 23, 2013


The expansive, hazy mountain range painted on the backdrop that decked the stage for Los Angeles band Lord Huron’s sold-out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night perfectly set the tone for the band’s performance. The types of big thoughts that can pass through one’s mind when looking at such a perfect panorama—life, death, love, the wonders of nature—are all themes that pervade the five-piece’s sentimental debut album, last year’s Lonesome Dreams.

Full of jaunty, layered guitars and vocal harmonies, Lord Huron at times evoked the uplifting alt-country of My Morning Jacket or the Afrobeat fusion of Paul Simon’s Graceland, along with slow-building cinematic swells and joyful moments begging to be clapped along to. Although Lord Huron’s recorded music doesn’t shy away from the understated and mellow, the live version of numbers like “She Lit a Fire” and “The Problem with Your Daughter” had a much sharper bite than their album counterparts, while meditative number “The Ghost on the Shore” was wisely left in its minimal state.

The group’s lone cover of the night, “Strangers” by the Kinks, fit in well with the reflective, exploratory theme of the show, and its lyrics “If I feel tomorrow like I feel today/ We’ll take what we want and give the rest away/ Strangers on this road we are on/ We are not two we are one” seem indirectly referenced in the sentiment of Lord Huron’s lyric: “Out there’s a world that calls for me, girl, heading out into the unknown/ Well if there are strangers and all kinds of danger, please don’t say I’m going alone,” which singer Ben Schneider contemplates on “Ends of the Earth.” Lord Huron’s combination of contagious melodies with the lyrical voice of a philosophical and wonder-filled world traveler clearly resonates with crowds, and as everyone sang and danced along, the vibe inside Music Hall of Williamsburg was as positive and life-affirming as it might be around a campfire, if those misty mountain ranges in the background were real. —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.wordpress.com

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Jim James Is a Force of Nature

February 20th, 2013

Jim James – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 19, 2013


Fans of My Morning Jacket’s perpetual motion machine, Jim James know there are (at least) three sides to his music. There’s the arena-rock star, there’s the folk crooner … and there’s the sexy soul machine. And while all three sides of his equilateral triangle were in evidence last night at the sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg, it was the latter that was in full force as James grooved and swayed his way through songs from his solo release Regions of Light and Sound of God. He took the stage beneath swirling crushed-velvet purple lights, and opening with “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U),” his voice was equally violet: half cool blue, half red hot.

This was a powerful start to the set. His band—heavy on the slinky electric piano and bass—seemed fully formed, well rehearsed and up to the task in only their fourth gig. The lights were perfectly synched to the song, going to black for dramatic effect when James sang “power going out” over and over in the coda. The energy only built from there with James singing “Know Til Now” and “A New Life” like the second coming of Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie. “Of the Mother Again” was a highlight, with its distorted scratch-your-back guitar solo from James melting into some sugary keyboards, leading to the inevitable, and effective, use of the disco ball hanging above the packed dance floor.

Like all of James’s projects, this felt like anything but “something on the side.” Songs like “All Is Forgiven” had the band behind the man displaying a range of sounds, this one digging darker and mysterious with a sultry Arabian Nights changeup. The set closed with a long, seething slow-burn jam led by the superb bass player, as James eventually walked offstage while the band kept churning along. Of course, being supersexy can eventually become a tease if you don’t give ’em what they want, so the encore was an audience-gratifying miniset of My Morning Jacket songs: a solo acoustic “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” followed by “Wordless Chorus,” “It Beats 4 U” and “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream, Pt. 2,” all perfectly handled by the band. While that would have been a complete 90 minutes of music, with Jim James, there’s always room for one more, so he went full rock star, closing out the night with a high-energy “Victory Dance,” the sexy snakeskin shed for one song, but not for too long, I’m sure. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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My Morning Jacket Blasts Off

December 28th, 2012

My Morning Jacket – the Capitol Theatre – December 27, 2012


Last night was a bring-your-own-seat-belt kind of affair as My Morning Jacket played a thrill-ride roller coaster, the first of three sold-out shows at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester. Before the main event began, though, Deer Tick treated the crowd to an opening set that felt more like a second headliner. With their keyboardist “on a plane,” the Providence, R.I., band coalesced in quartet form, tight and rocking and totally polished. The set was an open-the-next-beer-before-finishing-the-last kind, constantly propelling through songs like “The Bump” and “Main Street” before exploding with a cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” the audience singing along, and finally closing with “Born at Zero.”

With that, the stage was reset and MMJ came out loud, frenetic and intense from the get-go. The superlative light show at the Cap includes lifelike projections on the venue’s walls, which can suggest an alternate reality for those inside. The music dutifully provided an otherworldly soundtrack: When the walls showed a spooky, psychedelic, come-to-life forest, “Outta My System” delved deep into a dark guitar jam and later, the walls literally went to steam as the band chugged through “Steam Engine.” Throughout there were plenty of wonderfully disassociated moments—jams in stretched-out intros or outros or just standing alone as heady instrumental moments between songs. Jacket classics like “The Way That He Sings” and “Off the Record” were glued together with blistering ad hoc guitar riffs, ambient-noise jams and techno-tinged grooves.

The band has promised no repeats for this three-night run, providing some free-form fun in the set list, which was up and down while maintaining a glorious MMJ intensity all the while. Slower songs like the red-lit “Strangulation” seemed to build to heavy hitter at a perfect pace and eventually segued into a mallet-to-the-head “Smokin’ from Shootin’.” A late-set take on Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone” was a highlight. Here, the walls seemed to go to oil slick, shimmering alive with liquid rainbow colors while the band slow-burned a long, groovy space jam to match.

The set peaked more than 100 minutes in with a monster feedback jam that fed into a loop-de-loop “Mahgeetah.” Still, plenty of track remained for Jim James and Co. as they came out and did a mini-set encore that encapsulated the energy of the show with another 40 minutes of music that included a quieter acoustic-guitar section highlighted by a solo version of “Bermuda Highway,” James ensconced in spotlight, his voice carrying the room. As the night came to a close, the walls went spacey, stars flying by at unnatural speeds as MMJ went into an intergalactic “Gideon.” The song built to yet another climax, entire galaxies floating by the audience. There were only a few questions to be answered: Were we returning to terra firma after a cosmic journey or had we finally left the atmosphere? And more important: Was your seat belt still buckled? —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com

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Mercury Lounge and Dog Gone Blog Have Your Late-Night Needs

December 27th, 2012

As 2012 winds down, there’s still a whole lot of nightlife left, which means you very well might want to fit in more than one concert a night. So whether you’re hitting My Morning Jacket, Phish or something else, Mercury Lounge and Dog Gone Blog have your back. Saturday night, they welcome Prince Rupert’s Drops and Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker’s solo offshoot, Alex Bleeker & the Freaks (above, doing “Never Goin’ Back” for the Fader Fort). The Village Voice says of their psychedelic-tinged folk: “The melodies now have a campfire quality that adds a new layer to the nostalgic pop we’ve come to expect.” And Sunday, Antibalas tenor saxophonist Stuart D. Bogie brings Superhuman Happiness to Mercury Lounge. The seven-piece band (below, doing “Needles & Pins” for the Bridge Sessions), known for high energy shows, will certainly have you spending your last Saturday night/early Sunday morning of 2012 dancing along to their joyful noise.