What a thrilling ride it’s been to watch Conor Oberst (above, performing “Tachycardia” at the Sydney Opera House) grow up. Beginning his insanely prolific singer-songwriter career, as Bright Eyes, at the ripe age of 13, Oberst’s releases have tested the limits of multiple genres (check out his politically charged punk band Desaparecidos if you need proof) all while strengthening his skills as one of the best lyricists of the past 20 years. And while it might be lazy to throw out the Dylan comparisons, hey, they both grew up in the Midwest. There must be something in the water? Oberst has put out records in the past under his own name accompanied by the Mystic Valley Band, but his 2008 eponymous album (stream it below) was truly his first solo venture. Last year’s Ruminations (stream it below) went further down that path as he stripped down his songs to their ribcages with only Oberst playing guitar, piano and the occasional harmonica. He later released a full-band companion version of that album titled Salutations with Catskill Mountains’ favorite sons the Felice Brothers acting as his backing band. Oberst and the Felice Brothers will bring songs from his entire career to the Prospect Park Bandshell on Thursday for an electrifying night of music. Philly rock royalty Hop Along and Brooklyn’s own Big Thief will open. Show up early so you don’t miss these two great bands for what will be one of the most stacked bills of the summer. —Pat King | @MrPatKing
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PJ Harvey (above, performing “The Community of Hope” live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) has a short fuse leading to a powder keg full of emotion. And for more than two decades, she’s been using this unbridled intensity to astounding effect. With such albums that have withstood the tests of time as Rid of Me (stream it below), Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (stream it below) and Let England Shake (stream it below), Harvey has as rich and rewarding of a catalog as any of her peers. These albums have all earned their right to be called classics and still sound as vibrant and ahead of their time today. Last year’s The Hope Six Demolition Project (stream it below) is no different, with some of Harvey’s most musically adventurous and politically charged material to date. She and her top-notch band will be setting the Central Park SummerStage ablaze this Wednesday with songs from her entire career. Any chance to see Harvey and her band in the flesh is a truly mesmerizing experience. This show is one you should not miss. All hail, Polly Jean Harvey. —Pat King | @MrPatKing
Tags: Central Park, Let England Shake, Live Music, Music, New York City, Pat King, PJ Harvey, Preview, Rid of Me, Stories from the City Stories from the Sea, The Hope Six Demolition Project, Video
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Son Volt – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2017
The Bowery Ballroom was packed on Friday night as fans eagerly waited for alt-country pioneers Son Volt to take the stage. Jay Farrar and Co. were in town for two sold-out weekend appearances supporting their new album, Notes of Blue, which finds the band mixing their rough-around-the-edges heartland anthems with a more bluesy sound. Opening the show, singer-songwriter Anders Parker eased the crowd into the night with a set of slow-burning ballads and fiery rockers. He said that a new album called The Man Who Fell from Earth arrives this week, describing it as a somber affair with Parker backed by just a pedal-steel guitar and a string trio. But he and his band opted to put some muscle behind the new material live, suitably spreading out the songs with guitar solos reminiscent of Neil Young in all of his ragged glory.
When Jay Farrar walked onstage and stepped up to the microphone to sing, “Today’s world is not my home” in his whiskey-soaked croon there was no mistaking what he meant. Ever since the dissolution of his partnership with Jeff Tweedy in the seminal alt-country band Uncle Tupelo in the mid-’90s, Farrar has been making records with Son Volt that strive for a similar gold standard: records that seem like they’ve been etched into stone and remain timeless if not out of step with the times. The new album was given the lion’s share of the set, but Son Volt managed to weave in some old favorites including the majority of their classic debut album, Trace, which, two years ago, was reissued for its 20th anniversary.
The band’s encore found them reaching deep for some Tupelo classics and Trace’s opening track, “Windfall,” which inspired the biggest crowd sing-along as the chorus “May the wind take your troubles away” rang crystal clear from the choir of flannel-clad fans raising their drinks toward the sky. Just when we thought it was over, and the audience began to thin out, the band returned to the stage for one more encore and played an exuberant cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Happy.” It was a real cherry on top of an already perfect night of rock and roll. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing
Tags: Anders Parker, Andrew Duplantis, Bowery Ballroom, Chris Frame, Jacob Edwards, Jeff Tweedy, Live Music, Lower East Side, Marc Millman, Mark Spencer, Music, Neil Young, Notes of Blue, Pat King, Photos, Review, Rolling Stones, Son Volt, The Man Who Fell From Earth, Trace, Uncle Tupelo
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