Tag Archives: Patrick King

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Elvis Costello Mesmerizes Packed SummerStage Crowd

June 16th, 2017

Elvis Costello & the Imposters – SummerStage – June 15, 2017


Elvis Costello is a writer’s rocker. David Lee Roth put it best when he said, “Music journalists like Elvis Costello because music journalists look like Elvis Costello.” I would take offense to this statement, but after sneaking a glance at myself in the mirror, I think Diamond Dave might be onto something. Costello knows where his strengths are because as a self-proclaimed music nerd (check out his old Sundance show, Spectacle, if you need any more convincing) he can tell when an album or piece of art should be looked upon in reverence. That is precisely why for his current tour with his longtime backing band, the Imposters, he’s playing his 1982 classic, Imperial Bedroom, in full. Upon its release, the LP wasn’t as big of a commercial success as his previous albums, but it was a breakthrough moment for Costello as an artist. Following up the recording of his country-covers album, Almost Blue, in Nashville, Tenn., with famed producer Billy Sherrill, Costello hooked up with Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick to explore the furthest reaches of the pop landscape to create Bedroom, and it’s since remained his most expansive and rewarding record. The tour rolled into town Thursday night for a packed show at Central Park’s SummerStage.

With no opening act, Elvis Costello & the Imposters began promptly at 7:30 p.m. as fans were still making their way into the venue from a line that zigzagged through the park. The band immediately dove headfirst into a ripping version of “The Loved Ones” and from then on we were given a tour of Bedroom with few detours in between. The projection lit up behind them took each of Costello’s album covers and obscured them with art in the style of Barney Bubblesartwork for Imperial Bedroom. At one point Costello explained the original abstract work by saying that he told Bubbles to listen to the album and just paint what he felt the overall theme of the record was. After listening, the artist then produced the piece he titled “Snake Charmer and Reclining Octopus” to which Costello thought, “Fuck me, what did we make?” The show was filled with hilarious banter from Costello, and his band was as sharp as their leader’s deadly wit. With original Attractions members Steve Nieve on keys and the incredible Pete Thomas on drums, the band was rounded out with Davey Faragher on bass and Kitten Kuroi and Briana Lee on backup vocals.

It was a great to see them include obscure Imperial Bedroom songs like “Human Hands,” which would normally be left off of the set list. Costello clearly loved this trip down memory lane as he dug deep into an extended guitar solo during the album’s climactic “Beyond Belief” that launched the caustic track into pandemonium. They did find the time to dig out classics from other albums like “Accidents Will Happen,” “Clubland” and a raucous version of “Watching the Detectives,” which had Costello creating piercing feedback through his guitar with a megaphone siren that soared out of control and into the New York City sky.  The main set ended with the Bedroom Highlight “Pidgen English” before the band left and returned for an encore. More like a second set, Costello treated the audience to 12 more songs that not only finished his obligation to play Imperial Bedroom in its entirety but also treated his fans to some of the hits they had been craving. For the first song, he yelled, “Now for the original heartbreak song!” before launching into the My Aim Is True classic “Alison” with his two backing singers providing sweet harmonies to its chorus. After running through some more tunes, including the Imperial Bedroom standout “Man Out of Time,” Costello treated the audience to a brand-new number called “American Mirror.” He described it as a plea for a return to decency that could be called “British Mirror” or “Russian Mirror.” They ended the night out with a one-two punch of “Pump It Up” and his version of Nick Lowe’s timeless anthem, “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace Love and Understanding” that seemed as meaningful and prevalent as ever. After Costello and his band bid goodnight, the crowd flooded into the city streets, mesmerized by one of today’s greatest living showmen and songwriters. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

Photos courtesy of Dana (distortion) Yavin | distortionpix.com

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The Avalanches Throw a Dance Party at Music Hall of Williamsburg

June 14th, 2017

The Avalanches – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 13, 2017


Over the past 17 years, the Avalanches have carved out a strange and mysterious world for themselves. The Australian DJ collective appeared out of obscurity in 2000 with their classic album, Since I Left You, and it’s remained a gold standard in the world of sampling. The album brimmed with ideas in the same way as Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique or DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing—and it still sounds just as fresh today as it did upon its release. The band remained silent to their fans as the years went by and their legend only grew larger and larger. That all changed in 2016 with the release of their highly anticipated follow-up, Wildflower. It was well worth the wait. With the group’s core lineup now down to the two principal members, Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi, Wildflower is packed with the same mosaic sample style and emphasis on old school drum samples that made Since I Left You such a cohesive masterpiece.

The Avalanches made their long-awaited return to New York City during Governors Ball a couple of weeks back, but decided to add a last-minute stop to Music Hall of Williamsburg last night to return the love. To no surprise, the show was sold out and the room was packed with eager fans not willing to miss out on seeing them. After all, who knows when the next Avalanches album might come out? The anticipation in the moments before they took the stage could be felt in the room like the heavy air outside. Everyone knew this was going to be special and, man, did they deliver. Di Blasi and Chater ran through the hits off of Since I Left You and Wildflower with the help of a dynamite band consisting of Paris Jeffree holding the groove on drums, singer Eliza Wolfgramm covering the hooks and MC Spank Rock taking care of the guest rap spots. They moved from song to song with an insane amount of proficiency that barely gave the audience time to settle down in between tracks. Di Blasi stuck to the electronic triggering of the songs with a huge smile plastered on his face for the entire show, and Chater mainly played guitar jumping up and down during each tune like the rhythm guitarist in a pop-punk band.

The joy coming from stage was infectious and the crowd gave it back tenfold as Music Hall was transformed into one massive dance party. Wolfgramm’s soulful support on the hooks was impeccable and even more impressive was how she danced around while wearing a neck brace for most of the show. It didn’t slow her down for a second and she led the crowd through a fantastic cover of the Clash’s classic “Guns of Brixton” while swinging a baseball bat over her head like a slow-moving helicopter blade. MC Spank Rock did the material justice as well as he easily covered the wide variety of guest rappers’ styles. He was even able to imitate Danny Brown’s verse on the Wildflower track “Frankie Sinatra,” which is no small feat. The biggest reaction of the night came from the Avalanches’ biggest hit, “Frontier Psychiatrist,” its patchwork samples and blasting operatic chorus sounding larger than life. The band played a two-song encore, ending on Since I Left You’s title track. It’s refrain “Since I left you/ I found the world so new” took on a new meaning as much has changed in the world since most of us had last seen the Avalanches in action, but the world seems a little better having them back. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

Photos courtesy of DeShaun Craddock | dac.photography

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John Moreland Converts the Masses at The Bowery Ballroom

June 8th, 2017

John Moreland – The Bowery Ballroom – June 7, 2017


John Moreland writes songs of redemption, songs written for the downtrodden that are so white hot with purpose they straddle the line between cautionary tales and gospel. Armed with a voice that conjures up how the Boss might sound after a bad night and the vindicated pessimism of Townes Van Zandt, Moreland doesn’t tug at your heartstrings as much as he eviscerates them. In his interview on the podcast Walking the Floor with Foo Fighters lead guitarist—and country music aficionado—Chris Shilett, Moreland explained that he had cut his teeth on punk and hardcore early in life, but everything had changed as soon as he heard the music of Steve Earle. After listening, Moreland quickly got it into his head that he could write songs that could equal Earle’s power and started recording and touring the country nonstop. After years of paying his dues, the Tulsa, Okla., singer-songwriter recently signed with 4AD for his third album, Big Bad Luv, and brought his tour to a packed Bowery Ballroom last night.

Will Johnson played solo to open the show. With a deep D-tuned guitar and a voice as rough as a tree trunk after a chainsaw exposed its bare wood, he mesmerized the audience with songs from his solo career as well as his criminally underrated band Centro-matic. The highlight was his meditation on loss, “Just to Know What You’ve Been Dreaming,” with the refrain “But when you’re not around, nothing makes a sound” landing like a slow moving haymaker. And then when John Moreland began, you could practically hear teardrops falling into beer glasses between the notes throughout the Bowery Ballroom. Accompanied by fellow singer-songwriter John Calvin Abney on lead guitar, harmonica and piano, Moreland ran through his songbook with efficiency, barely taking the time to address the crowd. Not that the audience needed anything more from him as everyone in the venue was completely captivated as soon as he sat down in his chair to play.

Moreland’s songs did the heavy lifting, and he showcased old favorites from In the Throes, High on Tulsa Heat as well as Luv. The best song of his main set was the new song “Lies I Chose to Believe,” which took on a new life live, stripping away the full-band arrangement and allowing his words to dig in deeper than they could on record. Moreland’s brief encore consisted of two songs from his breakthrough, In the Throes, “Break My Heart Sweetly” and “I Need You to Tell Me Who I Am,” which had the crowd clamoring for more. After the show, the audience quickly formed a massive line heading down to the merch table on the first floor. It was easy to see that if anyone had never heard of Moreland before this show, they had just been converted. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

 

 

 

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Kick Off Your Weekend with the Specials at Brooklyn Steel on Friday

June 8th, 2017

There’s so much that can be said about the legendary U.K. band the Specials that it’s almost unfair to simply credit them as forefathers of the second wave of ska. Formed in 1977, the band fused together Jamaican reggae and ska rhythms with a punk sneer, adding highly political lyrics tackling both racism and class issues. Their self-titled Elvis Costello–produced debut (stream it below) is a stone-cold classic of the era with hits like “Nite Klub,” “Gangsters” and a cover of Dandy Livingstone’s “A Message to You Rudy” that all transcend the 2 Tone genre and still sound visceral and full of life today. With many lineup changes over the years and a lengthy hiatus, the Specials got back together as a touring unit in 2008 and have been moving crowds ever since. Back in America, the Specials (above, performing “Ghost Town” for BBC Radio 6) bring their joyous sound to Brooklyn Steel this Friday for what is bound to be an epic party. Kings County five-piece the Far East open the show. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

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A Rowdy Night of Real-Deal Country Music with Wheeler Walker Jr.

June 7th, 2017

Wheeler Walker Jr. – The Bowery Ballroom – June 6, 2017

(Photo: Courtesy of Thirty Tigers)

Is the country music of today really country? Sure, the artists all over CMT and country radio are crammed down our throats with that label bedazzled onto their artificially frayed denim vests, but calling these artists real country is as backward as the Bud Light trucker hats these musicians sport in their gaudy music videos. The Outlaws have been replaced by the Bros, and it’s safe to say that Nashville needs a hero to bust down the saloon doors to dole out some serious comeuppance to the perpetrators at the top of the charts. That hero is Wheeler Walker Jr. and bringing real country music to New York City was his goal when he played The Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday night. Well, sort of anyways. (More on that later.) Opening the show, Nashville’s Republican Hair treated the crowd to a short but fun set that equally paid homage and skewered some of the touchstones of ’80s rock radio: A little dash of Rick Springfield here, a little sprinkle of the Cars and Prince there. Wild frontman Luke Dick whipped the crowd into a frenzy as he performed their final songs within the audience. Once their time was up, the band (excluding Dick) made a quick costume change into some proper honky-tonk attire and assumed the role of the backing band for the artist with the biggest print on the marquee.

Fans roared with excitement as Wheeler Walker Jr. took the stage, and their enthusiasm never faded throughout his hour-long set. A provocateur and world-class shit-talker, Walker Jr. (the alias of comedian Ben Hoffman of the short-lived Comedy Central Show The Ben Show) has been taking Music City to task ever since the release of his debut Redneck Shit last year and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down on his brand-new album, Ol’ Wheeler. Throughout the music, he takes shots at all of the front-runners in the biz and manages to sneak in some twisted ballads in between. If you’re in on the joke, it’s an absolute laugh riot. But having said that, his songwriting chops are palpable, and superproducer Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell) brings a real-deal authenticity to his recordings. If you’re not paying attention, a song like “Fuck You Bitch” might just sound like one of the best country ballads of the past few years.

Walker Jr. treated the crowd to a mix of both of his albums, and it was a trip to see fans with their fists in the air singing along to the likes of “Better Off Beatin’ Off” and “Eatin’ Pussy/Kickin’ Ass.” His band was top-notch and could have just as easily melted your heart with delicate pedal-steel guitar on one song and then set the room ablaze on the next. The crowd was fully onboard, chanting, “Wheeler” and even flinging half-empty beers onto the stage in between songs. At one point, as Walker introduced the new song “Poon,” a takedown of Nashville’s top-tier recording artists, he was greeted by some boos when he described his intense hatred of the band Florida Georgia Line. But he quickly felt the need to clarify his reasoning: “I’m sorry,” said Walker Jr. as he took a sip from a can of Tecate, “but if you play country and you’re name ain’t me, then fuck you.” The crowd was won back in a flash and sang along loud enough to fill the Bowery up to its rafters. It was a rowdy night of red-blooded real-deal country music that was truly one to remember. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

 

 

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Laura Marling Brings Quiet Ferocity to Brooklyn Steel

May 22nd, 2017

Laura Marling – Brooklyn Steel – May 20, 2017


World-weary is a strange way to describe someone so young. But at just 27, Laura Marling seems to wear that term like a badge. With six full-length albums under her belt since 2008, the U.K. singer-songwriter has amassed a large catalog of intense folk songs that position her against the universe and brim with quiet contemplative ferocity. Oh yeah, otherworldly is also a great way to describe Marling. Her fantastic new album, Semper Femina, only further proves this, and on Saturday night, Brooklyn Steel was packed with fans eager to check out the new material live. L.A. four-piece Valley Queen, who blew away the crowd with a tight set of lean rock with a clear emphasis on hooks and ripping guitar gymnastics, opened the show. At times, Natalie Carol’s vocals and Shawn Morones’s guitar interplay reached the level of vintage Rilo Kiley, and her powerhouse voice took no prisoners as it burst through the stratosphere. Do yourself a favor and see these guys next time they roll through town. They definitely won’t be opening shows like this for very long.

Before Laura Marling took the stage, the house blared Leonard Cohen’s early work through the PA. It almost felt like a locker-room pep talk sung from the beyond. Each of the three microphone stands, for Marling and her two backup singers, were dressed with bouquets of flowers, and even the drum hardware was covered in enough vegetation to resemble a fire-escape garden. It was safe to assume that this would be an intimate affair. Marling and her band owed much of the night to Femina, playing eight of the album’s nine tracks, only omitting “Nouel.” They sounded fantastic on the new material and gave apt attention to the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink compositions by producer Blake Mills. But the real spellbinder of the night, of course, was Marling, and the show went from simply being special to “Oh, my God, are you seeing this?” when she treated the crowd to a number of songs accompanied by just a guitar. Her intricate fingerpicking and angelic voice mesmerized on older tunes like “Goodbye England (Covered in Snow),” and she threw in a jaw-dropping surprise cover of the Townes Van Zandt classic “For the Sake of the Song.”

The band returned to play a few more numbers and reworked the Once I Was an Eagle standout “Once” into an AM country ballad with spot-on three-part harmonies that got the biggest applause of the night. After the crowd settled down, Marling had to break the bad news: The show was coming to an end. “If you wanted an encore,” she said with a laugh, “then think of that last song … as the last song.” Choosing not to leave and comeback for more, Marling and her band ended the night with a rousing rendition of “Rambling Man,” off of her breakthrough album, I Speak Because I Can, leaving the crowd wanting more. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

 

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Father John Misty Lets His Music Do the Talking at Brooklyn Steel

May 12th, 2017

Father John Misty – Brooklyn Steel – May 11, 2017


Brooklyn Steel was shoulder to shoulder with people on Thursday night to see Father John Misty for the second of three straight-sold out shows in Brooklyn this week. His new album, Pure Comedy, is a lyrically deep concept record that has been picking up some well-earned praise for layered cultural commentary that takes sharp aim at sacred cows, innocent bystanders and everything in between. It’s a demanding and serious affair that eschews his usual self-deprecating humor for a set of somber ballads that set out to explain how the technological advancements we’ve made as humans is quickly leading to our downfall as a species. See? Comedy, right? Nevertheless, the room was filled with excitement as people packed in eagerly waiting for the Father’s sermon.

First up was NYC freak-folk mainstay and ex–Moldy Peaches frontman Adam Green, who recently directed the video for Misty’s new single, “Total Entertainment Forever,” and it’s truly something to behold. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to check it out. I won’t spoil it for you. Along with his three-piece band, Green played a set full of feel-good indie rock that found him high-fiving people in the front row and even fitting in a few lengthy crowd surfs that took him across the room. As he said his goodbyes, it was clear that he had won over everyone who caught his opening set.

Shortly after, the crowd exploded with cheers as Father John Misty, aka Josh Tillman, took the stage. Dedicating the lion’s share of his set to the new album, he shied away from his usual witty stage banter and let the songs do most of the talking. The new material translated to the stage fantastically as his nine-piece band, complete with a horn section and two-keyboardists, brought the dynamics and drama that make the arrangements so powerful on record. Ever the dynamite showman, Misty navigated the stage with ease as he threw in his Jim Morrison gyrations with a wink and a nudge all while pouring out his world-weary grievances through his tender croon. Misty’s voice sounded tremendous as it filled the room and was heartbreakingly beautiful when he would hit his high falsetto. As good as it was, when he reached back to some of the more upbeat material from his first two albums to close out the set, the crowd answered back singing along to every word.

When he returned for the encore, Father John Misty addressed the crowd for the first time, entering into a long and hilarious conversation with a girl in the front row. She yelled out for him to “Do you!” to which he replied, “Thanks, I needed that today” before going into his anthem about modern American dejection, “Bored in the USA.” During the final song, “Holy Shit,” the singer-songwriter pointed the microphone stand into the crowd to let the adoring fans belt out the wordless refrain before taking his final bows. By the end of the night, Misty’s message had landed and was somehow both distressing and life-affirming at the same time—all in a fantastic way, of course. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

Photos courtesy of Pip Cowley | pipcowleyshoots.com