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Ty Segall Proves to Be a Rock Music Life Force at Webster Hall

September 18th, 2014

Ty Segall – Webster Hall – September 17, 2014

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

“Did anybody lose a red shoe?” asked Ty Segall last night, the Webster Hall stage littered with lost items: a blue backpack, a handful of wallets, a boot, even a belt. With more people in the front row trying to crowd surf than hold up said crowd surfers, the venue had become one giant lost and found. What do you get when you have a sold-out Webster Hall audience collectively losing their shit? You get a lot of people, well, physically losing a lot of their shit. For anyone not familiar with Ty Segall at this point, he can best be described as some superhuman rock music–making machine. At 27, he’s already got seven solo albums to his name, plus another excellent one filed under the Ty Segall Band, several side projects and bands he’s involved with in one way or another. Segall has yet to put his name on anything subpar. He tours constantly. And with the energy he throws into performing, seeing him play live makes this output slightly more believable, further proof that there’s some supernatural rock music life force coursing through his veins.

Segall, who came out wearing the same glam makeup he wore on his latest appearance on Conan, was joined by longtime collaborator—and accomplished solo artist—Mikal Cronin on bass, Charlie Moonheart on guitar and Emily Rose Epstein on drums. Everyone besides Segall sporting waist-length hair made their collective head-banging a glorious spectacle. They opened with the title track off Segall’s latest album, Manipulator, and continued checking off most of its songs. Three tunes in, the barricade separating the audience from the stage began showing signs of giving out, with five security guards doing their best to keep it together. And then two songs later, Segall announced that they were going to pause so they could get the barricade out of there, thus beginning the endless crowd surfing.

For his guitar solo on “The Faker,” Segall joined the surfers, walking out onto the crowd’s hands Iggy Pop style to rip his face-melting guitar solo right into his fans’ faces. But the best crowd surf of the night was courtesy of the band’s “manager,” Jimmy Longhorn— prior to the show, he declared that the band was from Jupiter—who came out asking people to carry him to the bar on the opposite side of the venue and back, and they happily complied. “Caesar” brought out a bunch of folks from backstage into the audience. Shows don’t usually get this out of control. Musicians don’t usually release this much quality music this fast. Concerts don’t usually sustain such a high level of energy. Those in the crowd aren’t usually that willing to give it their all. But maybe this band really is from Jupiter. —Dan Rickershauser

(Ty Segall plays Webster Hall again tonight.)

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Portugal. The Man and Grouplove Close Out Tour in Central Park

September 17th, 2014

Portugal. The Man/Grouplove – Rumsey Playfield – September 16, 2014

Portugal. The Man – Rumsey Playfield – September 16, 2014

Portugal. The Man

Midway through their set at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on Tuesday—the closing night of the Honda Civic TourGrouplove’s Hannah Hooper declared that the tour was all about “making art.” As incongruous as that may sound, the show was one of those rare instances where live rock and roll was elevated to an art form: the music, the lights, the visuals and the crowd interaction. The pairing of Grouplove with Portugal. The Man was an inspired billing, each band bringing a different aesthetic and energy to the performance, and both inspiring a whole lot of singing along, clapping along, waving arms along, pretty much everything along.

After a big-sound set from Typhoon, Grouplove entered amidst a cloud of smoke and a haze of hip-hop over the PA. Their set was 70 minutes of cathartic, jubilant bounce, beginning with the opening “I’m with You” and its sing-along-ready ah ah ahs and oh oh ohs. The audience was in it from the start. Grouplove’s free-form sing-along contrasted with the visuals, which had a sleek, modern feel, colorful geometric rectangles or simulated multihued television static danced on the large-screen backdrop while the audience danced in front. Everyone loves a hit, and Grouplove played plenty of them, highlighted by the ecstatic groover “Tongue Tied.” The set peaked with the couplet of “Slow” and “Borderlines and Aliens,” and particularly the space in between the two, where lights, the band’s movement and the pulsing drums worked together as one entity, eventually releasing into a wild guitar jam. After a rousing “Colours” to close their part of the show, the band returned for a rare mid-show encore, bringing along members of Portugal. The Man for a crowd-riling version of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” everyone screaming the classic lyrics. Any other night it would have been the ultimate sing-along, but there was more to come.

A quick breather later, Portugal. The Man returned and picked up right where Grouplove left off, with another classic-rock along, covering a verse and a chorus or two of Pink Floyd’s anthemic “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” before quickly kicking into their own “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.” Their aesthetic was more bright-eyed psychedelic, like crawling into a living version of frontman John Gourley’s bizarre drawings. That is until the lasers came out, transforming Rumsey Playfield into an alien planet, with Portugal. The Man’s music as a galactic soundtrack. The band was in top form, looping verses of multiple songs into coherent medleys, stretching others, like “All Your Light,” into prog-rock freak-outs and dropping snippets of perfectly placed covers throughout. This was live music as art form, the audience digging every moment and singing from beginning to end. Like Grouplove had done, the band saved the biggest moment for their encore, which began with their slow-build rager “Sleep Forever” and ended with all of Grouplove and Typhoon onstage—horns, strings and all—for the second ultimate sing-along of the night, everyone belting out the coda to “Hey Jude”: the final touch on a work of art. —A .Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Glass Animals – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 15, 2014

September 16th, 2014

Glass Animals - Music Hall of Williamsburg - September 15, 2014

Photos courtesy of Pip Cowley | pipcowleyphotography.tumblr.com

(Glass Animals play a free show tonight at Rough Trade NYC.)

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Sylvan Esso’s Potent Chemistry on Display at Rough Trade NYC

September 12th, 2014

Sylvan Esso – Rough Trade NYC – September 11, 2014

Sylvan Esso – Rough Trade NYC – September 11, 2014
Last night’s Sylvan Esso show at Rough Trade NYC, alongside Landlady, sold out at lightning speed when tickets went on sale months ago. Adventurous pop rockers Landlady took the stage first and delighted the audience with their sprightly music. Six men strong, they commandeered the stage and held everyone in their thrall as they launched into a glittering set of percussive, psychedelic songs. Lead singer Adam Schatz propelled the performance with his soulful crooning and no-holds-barred dancing. Songs like “Maria” and “Above My Ground,” from the band’s sophomore album, Upright Behavior, began ever so quietly and culminated thunderously. Schatz provided plenty of entertaining and insightful banter throughout and had no trouble engaging the crowd in sing-alongs.

Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso took the stage next, Meath in six-inch platform sneakers and Sanborn with his fingers poised to take command of his soundboard. The sultry chords and audacious beats of “Hey Mami” launched their set. Sylvan Esso’s music is simultaneously doe-eyed and wolfish—it’s a tantalizing tangle of abstract lyrics and sly electronica. The duo’s chemistry is some of the most potent stuff around these days. They faced off throughout the set, feeding off each other’s energy and charging the air with fervor. Heavy reverb on Meath’s vocals made for an especially heady effect. The two played some artful cover songs during their encore, but it was the originals from their self-titled debut album that mesmerized most. These two bands are the quintessence of enchanting, and their magic won’t be fading any time soon. —Schuyler Rooth

Photos courtesy of Lina Shteyn | www.linashteyn.com

(Tonight’s Sylvan Esso show at The Bowery Ballroom is sold out, but you can see them play Terminal 5 on 1/23.)

 

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White Denim Are Red Hot at Music Hall of Williamsburg

September 12th, 2014

White Denim – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 11, 2014

White Denim – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 11, 2014
The headlines kind of write themselves: White Denim burn down Music Hall of Williamsburg or White Denim play blazing show in Brooklyn. Thankfully, despite an unplanned fire drill midway through their set, there was no literal fire in Williamsburg last night. Metaphorically, however, the headlines stand up pretty well. Playing the middle show of a three-night run at Music Hall, White Denim were hotter than hell, setting the room on fire, downright blazing and any other cliché you can think of. They began the set with a smoldering, soulful “A Place to Start,” the last track off their most recent LP, Corsicana Lemonade, and then hopped into that album’s opener, “At Night in Dreams,” a heavy-duty dose of concentrated Allmans, with James Petralli and Austin Jenkins giving a preview of what would be a night full of two-guitar prowess. “At Night” kicked off a multisong medley, the first of many such signature excursions: two or three songs with instrumental interludes, quick-stop segues and check-your-baggage jam-outs. This first one ended with a stretched-out version of “Drug,” off their 2011 breakthrough album, D.

With White Denim, each show feels like the best they’ve ever played, and the best they’ve ever played and Thursday felt no different, although years of touring in their now-steady quartet form seems to have elevated and matured their jazz-metered, free-form Southern-rock sound. Select tunes were slowed or mellowed a bit, providing room for more interesting dynamics. “River to Consider” was a good example, as its normal breakneck pace was given a more deliberate rendering that allowed for a tremendous slow-build jam. Shortly thereafter, as the band tried a similar trick with “Anvil Everything,” the fire alarm sounded and the room was cleared (I must say in a very orderly fashion). Following a 20 minute smoke-’em-if-you’ve-got-’em intermission on the sidewalk of N. 6th St., NYC’s Bravest gave the all clear and the crowd returned with a little fresh-air buzz.

The break seemed to have a filter effect on the audience, those who were there to drink and be social went off to a bar somewhere, and the remaining crowd was smaller, but a bit rowdier with room to boogie and throw fists in the air. White Denim gave plenty of reason to do both, launching a few more highlight-reel sections starting with another medley that began with a restarted “Anvil Everything” and ending with a stretched-out, swallow-everything version of “I Start to Run.” Things turned looser as the show came to its furious conclusion, large swaths of the band’s last few albums coming together in exciting combinations. The pairing of the acrobatic instrumental “At the Farm” and a beautiful, stripped-bare “Keys” was an inspired moment among many. When everyone filed out the front doors for the second time, giddy, glazed looks in their eyes, there was no doubt that White Denim had, indeed, set the building on fire. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Spoon Make a Beautiful Night in Central Park Even Better

September 11th, 2014

Spoon – Rumsey Playfield – September 10, 2014

Spoon – Rumsey Playfield – September 10, 2014
Last night was perfect to see music outdoors, the temperature was just right and the conditions were breezy, not blustery. The same could be said for Spoon, the Austin, Texas, five-piece that made high-level rock and roll look easy with little bluster at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. With equal parts grit in his guitar and his voice, Britt Daniel kicked off things with “Knock Knock Knock,” off Spoon’s newest release, They Want My Soul. The crowd was a catchall mix of types: boozy college girls, graying rockers, new parents enjoying a night out, giddy Spoon geeks with tour T-shirts and a running set list on their phones, and everything in between. The career-spanning set appealed to them all, each song drawing excited reactions and sing-alongs from at least one or two happy fans.

The show hit its stride early with the clavinet-heavy groover “Small Stakes,” off 2002’s Kill the Moonlight, and “Inside Out” and its ethereal three-keyboard breakdown. The stage was set up with large white-sheet panels that filled with light and shadows. Each song was enhanced with its own color palette, the mood running through a rock and roll rainbow of sorts. So there was “Who Makes Your Money” in mellow pink with a matching bass riff and ripping guitar; summer-sun orange for “Rhthm and Soul,” a muted purple-orange mix for the chunky guitar-and-piano voodoo rock of “My Mathematical Mind”; and a particularly saucy guitar jam in green for “Got Nuffin.”

Daniel switched to an acoustic guitar for a couple of highlights, including the set-closing “Black Like Me,” which began with no color at all, murky shadows on the panels until a high-energy bridge in white, a mirrored pyramid suspended above the stage became a primitive disco ball as the audience sang, “Yeah!” along with the band. The three-song encore was, as it should be, highlighted by the hits everyone wanted to hear: “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” in cherry red (natch) and a big, sing-along “The Underdog” in pretty much every color of the rainbow. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Pip Cowley | pipcowleyphotography.tumblr.com

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Bob Mould – The Bowery Ballroom – September 10, 2014

September 11th, 2014

Bob Mould - The Bowery Ballroom - September 10, 2014

Photos courtesy of Greg Pallante | gregpallante.com

(Bob Mould plays The Bowery Ballroom again tonight.)

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Justin Townes Earle – Stage 48 – September 9, 2014

September 10th, 2014

Justin Townes Earle - Stage 48 - September 9, 2014

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Die Antwoord – Terminal 5 – September 9, 2014

September 10th, 2014

Die Antwoord - Terminal 5 - September 9, 2014

Photos courtesy of Lina Shteyn | www.linashteyn.com

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Death from Above 1979 – Rough Trade NYC – September 8, 2014

September 9th, 2014

Death from Above 1979 - Rough Trade NYC - September 8, 2014

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

(Death from Above 1979 play Terminal 5 on 11/28.)

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Take a Look at Stage 48

September 5th, 2014

Stage 48

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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Interpol Are All the Rage Back Home

September 5th, 2014

Interpol – The Bowery Ballroom – September 4, 2014

Interpol – The Bowery Ballroom – September 4, 2014
Interpol at the Bowery Ballroom: an esteemed New York City band taking on an esteemed New York City venue, playing their classics first brewed in the city’s now legendary indie-rock scene of the early ’00s. The love for this band in this city is palpable. When this show was announced a little more than a week ago, it sold out almost immediately. Fresh off the album-release show for their latest, El Pintor, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in front of the ancient Egyptian Temple of Dendur, the band’s follow-up show last night dug deep into their first two releases.

The show kicked off with a real sense of “let’s get into this, shall we?” front-loading their set with the hits “Evil,” “C’mere” and “Say Hello to the Angels” one after another. Antics and Turn On the Bright Lights were both heavily represented in the set list, with some new songs off El Pintor sprinkled in as well. This is what “giving the fans what they want” looks like. In even its quieter moments, Paul Banks’s voice carried some serious intensity to it. The drums, the bass, the guitar all seemed high the mix, then the sharpness of the frontman’s vocals cut through it all, coming through the noise crystal clear. So when their songs blasted off into a bridge, it was Banks’s voice that made you feel that brute force of the tunes’ emotional intensity. There’s a moment like this built into almost all of their songs, and yet each time it’s capable of catching you off guard. “I am a scavenger, between the sheets of union. Lately I can’t tell for sure, whether machines turn anyone,” Banks belts on “Take You On a Cruise.” You feel those lyrics. They cut like a knife.

The band saved El Pintor’s first single “All the Rage Back Home” for the encore, following it up with their hometown homage, “NYC,” and finishing off things with “Slow Hands”—start the show strong, finish it even stronger. Following a tour of the rest of the country, the band will return to New York City for two shows at Terminal 5 in November, though both are already sold out. Seeing Interpol play their hometown isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s absolutely worthwhile. —Dan Rickershauser

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

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Tits of Clay – Mercury Lounge – September 4, 2014

September 5th, 2014

Tits of Clay - Mercury Lounge - September 4, 2014


Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Blonde Redhead – Rough Trade NYC – September 2, 2014

September 3rd, 2014

Blonde Redhead - Rough Trade NYC - September 2, 2014

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com

(Blonde Redhead play The Bowery Ballroom on 11/25-26 and then Music Hall of Williamsburg on 12/2.)

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Rubblebucket Are a Force to Reckon With

August 27th, 2014

Rubblebucket – Mercury Lounge – August 26, 2014

Rubblebucket – Mercury Lounge – August 26, 2014
A name like Rubblebucket might conjure up a mishmash of musical nuggets, which is exactly what the seven-piece outfit creates. Anchored by a strong horn section, a flurry of explosive synthesizers creates melodies that range from indie pop to dance funk. The band began with leader Alex Toth meeting Annakalmia “Kalmia” Traver at the University of Vermont, and from there the bond has spanned nearly a decade. Slowly building a fan base on the festival circuit, the Brooklyn band has garnered a healthy following, including NPR Music’s Bob Boilen. On the night of their third full-length album release, Rubblebucket played a sold-out Mercury Lounge christening their latest, Survival Sounds.

A setup of a tarp backdrop and strobe floor lights hinted at the night ahead as the troupe took the stage that seemed barely big enough to contain them. “My Life,” off their latest, opened the set to a sea of adoring fans. Traver exclaimed that it was Survival Sounds day and expressed that she was feeling crazy this evening. The septet rippled through old and new material, following up the opener with “Silly Fathers,” off Omega La La, and brought out the flutes for “Sound of Erasing.” Toth and trombone player Adam Dotson provided some choice backup dance moves behind the eccentric Traver on lead vocals. Throughout the evening, the band employed stage effects like a confetti cannon, balloons released from a black trash bag and a long panel of fabric, which stretched close to the end of the venue—creating a billowing tent over half of the audience.

Toth descended into the crowd for “Came Out of a Lady,” sending many into uproarious cheers. The tempo mellowed for “Young and Old,” but that didn’t last long as the group continued playing new material, including the clap-happy “Origami,” a crescendo-heavy “Hey Everybody,” crowd-favorite “Shake Me Around” and the upbeat, jazzy “Rewind.” On the latter, Traver invaded the floor to start a Soul Train line, with fans eager to join. As the show’s end neared, the single “Carousel Ride” built up the energy as everyone sang a chorus of  “round and round.” Following the final song, “Pain from Love,” everyone in the band jumped off the stage to march through the audience and into the front bar, but not before they’d proved that Rubblebucket are a force to be reckoned with, from their fierce music to their showmanship. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.wordpress.com

(Rubblebucket play Rough Trade NYC tonight.)