Tag Archives: Pink Floyd

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A Double Shot of Portugal. The Man at Terminal 5 This Week

June 5th, 2017

Next week, Portugal. The ManJohn Gourley (guitar and vocals), Zachary Carothers (bass and vocals), Kyle O’Quin (guitar, keys and vocals), Eric Howk (guitar) and Jason Sechrist (drums)—will release their newest album, Woodstock, which features, among others, Richie Havens, Son Little and Fargo’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead. It’s the band’s eighth long-player, but their first in more than four years. And while four years might not feel like too long, in Portugal. The Man years, it’s close to a geological epoch. With the lead single, “Feel It Still” (above, performed live on KEXP FM), already making waves—its soulful psych-pop working it to the top of the alt-rock charts and its politically charged video drawing the ire of certain media types—the anticipation for Woodstock is high. New York City will get an extra-special preview of songs new and old when Portugal. The Man stop by for two appearances at Terminal 5 this week, tomorrow and Wednesday. (L.A. duo Electric Guest and the Bronx’s own Kemba open each night.) PTM shows are always don’t-miss affairs, combining sing-along hooks, dense, Pink Floyd-ian space-outs and usually a surprise or two. So do yourself a favor: Don’t miss. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Portugal. The Man Are Well Worth the Wait at The Bowery Ballroom

November 8th, 2016

Portugal. The Man – The Bowery Ballroom – November 7, 2016

Portugal. The Man – The Bowery Ballroom – November 7, 2016
It’s been a while since New York City has gotten a proper headlining show from Portugal. The Man. While there have been some coheadlining bills to keep their fans (slightly) satisfied over the past couple of years, the packed house at The Bowery Ballroom last night was justifiably antsy awaiting the Portland, Ore., band. That wait was filled with a psychedelic variety show of openers from stand-up comedy to German rappers. PTM have filled their tour with an upside-down assortment of friends, giving the entire affair a family feel that extended to the sold-out audience. Indeed, to be a fan of the group has a part-of-the-club feel and the room felt filled with diehards hoping their heroes would deliver.

Not to worry: Portugal. The Man’s set was well worth the wait. They opened with the title track to their 2007 album, Church Mouth, which hasn’t been in their repertoire for many years but still sizzled with up-to-date energy. The even older “Chicago”—its frenetic blasts of punk-prog, frontman John Gourley singing, “Burn this motherfucker down”—followed, and it was clear that this was a PTM that NYC hadn’t seen for quite some time. The rest of the set list was an expertly designed back and forth through the Portugal. The Man songbook, old and new, alternating from beautiful to cathartic to pure evil accompanied by unique bulbous lights, spheres of colors giving the effect of a sci-fi rock show. The crowd reveled in the invigorated set, the band artfully stringing together multiple songs, finding new places to insert extra guitar excursions and strobe-light climaxes.

“All Your Light” has long been a set centerpiece, but last night it seemed to realize its full potential as a triumphant suite with multiple bass-drum-guitar-keys rock-outs, eventually peaking with the outro to the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” feeling very much like it could have been a PTM original. Along the way, they still managed to hit all the beloved sing-alongs and pretty much all of their most recent Evil Friends album, although with plenty of impressive reinvention throughout, stretching the set well past the 100-minute mark. They finally finished with an expert pairing of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” with their own “Purple Yellow Red and Blue,” everyone in the crowd triumphantly singing, dancing and waving their hands in the air, hoping it won’t be too long before the next one. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Photos courtesy of Pip Cowley | pipcowleyshoots.com

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A Rejuvenated Jonathan Tyler Plays Mercury Lounge on Saturday Night

November 3rd, 2016

Influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin and the Black Crowes, Jonathan Tyler formed Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights nine years ago in Dallas. The good-times band won over critics and fans alike, but sometimes even when things look like they’re going great from the outside, on the inside everything’s gone to hell. A lawsuit about the name plus fights with Atlantic Records led to alcohol problems: “I was drinking myself into oblivion all the time because I was so frustrated with life in general,” Tyler told Rolling Stone. “And I thought, at a certain point, something’s gotta give. I’m going to end up killing myself, or something really bad will happen.” Fortunately, this was not the case. The singer-songwriter decamped to Los Angeles and began playing shows to pay for studio time. What resulted is last year’s Holy Smokes (stream it below), “a set of songs that, at times can even ring as joyful, touching a whole trajectory of the American musical tradition from Howlin’ Wolf to the Allman Brothers to Pink Floyd,” raved Rolling Stone. “It’s clear that if there’s one person most excited about the revival of Jonathan Tyler, it’s Tyler himself. Holy Smokes is more than just the album title, it’s an exclamation.” See him Saturday night at Mercury Lounge. Philly duo the Dove and the Wolf open the show.

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Pond Heat Up Music Hall of Williamsburg

October 27th, 2016

Pond – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 26, 2016

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The overnight temperatures have taken a turn toward downright chilly lately, the first sign that winter will be here soon. Of course, in Australia, the opposite is true: Summer is on its way. Indeed, walking into Music Hall of Williamsburg for the Perth band Pond last night, it felt like going from winter into summer, the globe flipping upside down, cold was now hot, dreary was now Technicolor. By the time the band took the stage, the room was packed and ready and the music delivered from the beginning, Pond’s mix of psychedelic throwback and danceable grooves.

Don’t look now, but what originally felt like a side project several years back, Pond now have three albums to their name and more new music on the way. The set list drew from all angles and eras, with large doses coming from 2015’s Man It Feels Like Space Again and 2013’s Hobo Rocket. “Giant Tortoise” showed off the band’s modern-day powers, Pink Floyd disco with a swirl of heavy-throttle guitar and dreamy pop. Songs like “Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind” were equal parts soaring guitars and deep synths, giving everyone in the audience a choice of clapping along or letting their minds swirl. Meanwhile, colorful images flickered on the stage backdrop, combining with Pond’s goofy banter to give the impression that they were performing in some old school Saturday morning cartoon.

At one pause, was that a sly little Yes tease I heard? Yes, Pond’s prog roots still show, “You Broke My Cool” feeling like a modern-day Bowie with a quick, ecstatic guitar jam. The set ended with a monster 15 minutes of nonstop music, starting with “Man It Feels Like Space Again” with a deep space funk and soaring guitars, ending up, I think, in “Midnight Mass,” but feeling like a continuation, an emotive liftoff. The band left the stage to aural ghosts panning left and right across the PA, before returning for a multipart encore, a high-energy left-of-Jupiter excursion with crowd surfing and heavy boogie and one last dose of that devil-may-care, party-all-night summer spirit. —A. Stein | @Neddyo 

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Floating Points Blow Minds at The Bowery Ballroom

May 13th, 2016

Floating Points – The Bowery Ballroom – May 12, 2016

Floating Points – The Bowery Ballroom – May 12, 2016
Floating Points is the brainchild of Sam Shepherd, the Manchester, England, electronic musician with a Ph.D. in neuroscience and epigenetics. I guess contributing to just one emerging field wasn’t enough for him. Without knowing enough to say anything about his scientific output, his musical output is undoubtedly advancing electronic music into new areas, blowing up the formula in a similar way that free jazz disrupted the jazz formula. Shepherd brought along a whole band with him to perform for two sold-out New York City shows—last night at The Bowery Ballroom and tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

It’s a demanding sound for a full band to play live: Shepherd’s big on throwing his music into warp speed until it practically dissolves into chaotic synthesized noise, before reining it back into its familiar beat. Some numbers went back and forth a few times, and when a song settled down, you were reminded of from where it evolved. It made for some heavy lifting for the drummer. At points during “Silhouettes (I, II, III),” the fill-heavy drumming sat somewhere between a long solo and a complex driving beat and went on for a long time, allowing Shepherd to hammer down on his synths in an all out bleep-bloop blitz.

Other songs featured impressive reverb-drenched guitar solos reminiscent of David Gilmour. Set against a backdrop of white lasers circling into geometric patterns, the spaced-out thoughts were inevitable as your mind was blown to bits, both visually and musically. Thankfully, there was a neuroscientist in the house to put everything back together again. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com

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Alice Cooper Gets Seriously Spooky

May 13th, 2016

Alice Cooper – the Capitol Theatre – May 12, 2016

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Whether he’s snuggling with a live snake, wrestling his way out of a straitjacket or chopping off his own head with a guillotine, one thing is for sure: Alice Cooper’s still got it. And whatever it is probably belongs under a dark sheet, ready to be unveiled with a flourish, just like every other element that made last night’s Capitol Theatre show so gripping. You’d think five-plus decades of hardcore showmanship would leave him a little sluggish, but the original shock rocker is far from finished. Rocking black eyeliner like he invented it (and seriously, how didn’t he?), Cooper surged onstage to the sounds of Vincent Price, legs spread defiantly as the screech of “The Black Widow” swirled around his striped suit. The seated crowd immediately rushed the stage and formed a makeshift pit—and the Cap’s tie-dyed security guards kindly let it slide.

The six-piece group (seven-, if you count the life-sized, bloody baby doll near the drums, and eight- if you count its creepy clown counterpart) dove into “Public Animal #9,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels,” Cooper’s voice sounding as rich and raspy as ever. His energy was palpable right up to the balconies, and he often let it out on his own band, playfully shoving them mid-solo or sneaking behind them to whisper something sinister. But his deft guitarists were far from distracted, kneeling right in one another’s faces to shred at impossible angles and become every kid’s new hero. With haunted-house theatrics so well suited for the Port Chester, N.Y., theater, each song became a spooky skit that elicited a big swell of gasps and a rumble of applause. The smoke machines rapidly spat out nuclear-looking fumes beneath green and orange lights, with the spider-filled eyes overlooking the stage changing color just as often. Throughout songs like “Is It My Body,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Poison,” horrors of all sizes emerged from the crate in the center, stagehands popping up with new props like a generous jack-in-the-box.

A six-minute, stick-flipping drum solo in “Halo of Flies” geared up everyone for the next big surprise, during “Feed My Frankenstein” under the glow of a massive apparatus. In one of his best fun-house illusions (and one that legitimately made me jump), Cooper strapped himself in for a convincing electric shock, suddenly reappearing from a puff of smoke as a 10-foot monster on stilts. The next series of stunts showed him beating/caressing a limp rag doll, facing down a sadistic nurse and spurting fake blood from the aforementioned guillotine, making “Cold Ethyl” and “Ballad of Dwight Fry” all the more fun and demented. After a portion of “Killer” led into “I Love the Dead,” an unexpected tribute took place in the cemetery set that had cropped up around them. As the taunting voice-over suggested during the “Under the Bed” intro, Cooper “raised the dead” and unveiled the larger-than-life headstones of three legendary late rockers: Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. Then, to the audience’s thrill, he and his band brewed heartfelt renditions of “Pinball Wizard,” “Fire,” and “Suffragette City” in their honor before wrapping with “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out” (featuring a bit of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2”)—and an encore of “Elected” as an explosion of bubbles swallowed the stage. Slivers of silver confetti rained down conclusively, reminding us all what a real show should feel like. —Olivia Isenhart | @OliviaIsenhart

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Ween Throw a Raging Party at Terminal 5 on Thursday Night

April 15th, 2016

Ween – Terminal 5 – April 14, 2016

Ween – Terminal 5 – April 14, 2016
It was clear even before these Terminal 5 shows sold out immediately that Ween’s return to New York City would be a capital-E Event. The band’s recent years were messy, with a full-blown breakup in 2012 and then a range of interesting commitments for each member until the rumor mill began to churn and whispers of a reunion turned into possibilities, then confirmations, then hard tickets and, finally, actual shows played, in the form of a three-night run in Colorado back in February. Now it’s NYC’s turn, and the first show of another three-night run, this time at a sold-out Terminal 5, was a raging party. In this season of can’t-believe-it reunions, from LCD Soundsystem to Guns N’ Roses, Ween’s might be the tastiest of all, at least to those who know every iota of songs like “Roses Are Free,” “Bananas and Blow,” “You Fucked Up” and “Help Me Scrape the Mucus Off My Brain.”

You don’t so much embrace Ween’s diabolically diverse catalog as reckon with it. Their repertoire culls from some nine different studio albums, covers, obscurities and new songs, too, and they do a remarkable job during their live show of splaying it all out there, multifaceted as it is, without losing energy or muddling the pace. Opening night at Terminal 5 moved—pinballed, really—from the giddy grooves of “Roses” and smart-alecky island maneuvers of “Bananas and Blow” to the sludgy, stomping rock of “The Grobe,” the curled-lip honky-tonk of “Japanese Cowboy” and the cheeky whimsy of “Boys Club.” The song count topped 30, as it often does at Ween shows that, like this one, stretched to two-and-a-half hours. One moment we were in the twisted-Beatles pop of “Little Birdy,” another we were singing along to the rage-burnt folk of “Baby Bitch.” Another still we entered the Floyd-ian psychedelic muck of “Mushroom Festival in Hell,” which flirted with a full devolution into noise rock in a hail of guitar fire.

The hard-partying crowd went wild for almost every song, and the band—throwing knowing smiles and shit-eating grins at the audience like the smart kids in the back of the class they’ve always been—seemed genuinely touched by the hero’s welcome. Ween are part of a rock lineage that’s brutally hard to define but you know it when you see it. Whatever that thread is that connects Frank Zappa and the Aquarium Rescue Unit to Phish and Gogol Bordello—dazzling musicality, technical prowess and songwriting depth beneath a sense of humor, heaps of personality and a few high jinks here and there—it’s in Ween’s stitching, too. A Ween-less world is a less exciting place, and what a happy thing that the band remembers that, too. —Chad Berndtson | @cberndtson

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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The Milk Carton Kids Sound Right at Home at Town Hall

September 14th, 2015

Milk Carton Kids – Town Hall – September 11, 2015

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To get to Town Hall in Manhattan, you first have to navigate your way through the glitzy, flashy capitalistic minefield that is Times Square. Stepping off the street into the simple, historic theater is to experience two facets of this city in stark relief. That dichotomy perfectly set the stage for the Milk Carton Kids show there on Friday night. The duo flipped between goofy, hilarious comedy and simple, gorgeous Americana music with the ease of just stepping off the street and into a comfortable theater seat.

After a warm-up set from Kacy and Clayton, sounding like two-thirds of Peter, Paul and Mary and a fun, surprising intermezzo set of jazz, the Milk Carton Kids—Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale—took the stage with two acoustic guitars and a single microphone between them. They reeled off beautiful folk tunes, like “Shooting Shadows,” from their recently released LP, Monterey. Town Hall was originally a venue for conversations, dialogue and debate, which was a good fit for the Milk Carton Kids. Their music felt like a conversation: voices going back and forth in sweet two-part harmony, the guitars engaging in searching dialogue, and Pattengale’s long, flowing solos finding counterarguments in Ryan’s accompaniment. While Ryan played the straight man during the beautiful guitar parts, the roles were flipped for the between-song banter, which was more vaudeville comedy routine than “How ya doin’” pleasantries.

Expounding on the duo’s children—born and unborn—the proper intro to “Poison Tree” and a host of other topics, Ryan drew hearty laughs from the crowd. Still, it was the music that kept the audience in an awed hush over the course of a set highlighted by “The Ash & Clay,” “Asheville Skies” and the new record’s excellent title track. A standing ovation brought back the pair for an encore that opened appropriately with “New York,” off 2011’s Prologue, their sound at its most Dylan-esque. After effusive thanks, the Milk Carton Kids closed with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” Ryan and Pattengale made the well-known material their own, drawing out its heart and beauty. While the song may be one of the all-time sing-alongs in the history of the acoustic guitar, the crowd barely stirred, sitting as attentive, pin-drop silently as they had been all night. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

 

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The Orb Bring Enough New Music for Two Shows in Two Nights

September 9th, 2015

Back in the late ’80s, English electronic group the Orb used soulful rhythms that were slower than traditional house music in helping to kick-start ambient house. To match the music, when playing live the Orb (above, doing “Little Fluffy Clouds”) perform in front of vivid light shows and psychedelic imagery, which initially earned them comparisons to Pink Floyd. The lineup has changed over the years—now spearheaded by Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann—but they’ve still continued to have critical and commercial success, while touring the world, remixing others and releasing their own singles and full-lengths, including this year’s well-received Moonbuilding 2703 AD (stream it below). According to PopMatters, the LP, “like many other Orb albums, is tailored for the close listener in all of us—not to pick up on the details themselves, but to witness the many details interacting with one another as they wash over you in a mental state of zero gravity. They did it again, those guys, and it will put you over the moon.” Touring in support of their recently released 13th full-length, the Orb play Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow and The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night. Michna opens both shows.

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A Top Five Look Back at 2014

December 31st, 2014

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

Top Five Albums
1. The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream
2. Total Control, Typical System
3. Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 2
4. Coldplay, Ghost Stories
5. Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal —Charles Steinberg

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Feist, Tarrytown Music Hall, 4/10
When I heard Feist was doing a tiny solo acoustic tour, I forked over ducats for this one. There were bits of stand-up-like banter with the audience as she stripped down the material. But what really made the night was a mini-reunion with former bandmate (and ex) Kevin Drew as they dueted on the Broken Social Scene classic “Lover’s Spit.”
2. (tie) Rhye, Webster Hall, 2/21
This performance was a bit misleading because although singer Milosh and producer Robin Hannibal are the members in Rhye, the latter member doesn’t tour. But Milosh’s ethereal voice really is the heart and soul of the pair, and it shone greatest for the hit “Open.” His deceptively androgynous voice sounds at times like Sade or even Antony Hegarty.
(tie) Max Richter, The Bowery Ballroom, 12/7
When I saw that the German-British composer was playing Bowery, I had to hop to it. As Richter usually plays symphony concert halls, it was an interesting choice to play such a smaller venue. The Ballroom felt like a recital hall with the audience entranced. What can I say: I’m a sucker for artists playing unorthodox venues.
3. Glass Animals, The Bowery Ballroom, 7/7
I was recently reminded of this concert when my yoga instructor played “Gooey” in class. Pretty fitting, right? In addition to infectious dance melodies, frontman Dave Bayley’s gangly limbs flayed erratically that evening, bringing to mind another dude named Thom Yorke. The two lads have great music and dance moves to boot. Coincidence? I think not.
4. Phox, Knitting Factory, 7/22
The buzz swirling around this Wisconsin band post-SXSW had me tuned into their album all spring and into the summer. Frontwoman Monica Martin was definitely a bit tipsy, but that didn’t detract from her lush vocals or onstage camaraderie. (Check out Schuyler Rooth’s review of their Mercury Lounge gig.)
5. (tie) Mr. Little Jeans, Rough Trade NYC, 5/10
Opening for Sohn, Norwegian singer Monica Birkenes, aka Mr. Little Jeans, overshadowed the headliner for me. It’s rare when that happens, but this lady has a knack for übercatchy dance-pop songs that streamed through my head all summer. She mentioned how she often came here as a child and was really craving a good slice of pizza. What’s not to love?
(tie) Alvvays, Rough Trade NYC, 7/28
New York City summers are packed with free outdoor gigs throughout the boroughs, but this in-store performance with Alvvays stood out amongst the rest. Their infectiously happy songs illuminated the dark back room of Rough Trade but had folks departing into the night with an extra bounce in their step. —Sharlene Chiu

Top Five Just a Man and His Guitar Solo Sets (chronological order)
1.
Dustin Wong (opening set), The Bowery Ballroom, 4/21
2. Plankton Wat, Trans Pecos, 5/8
3. Steve Gunn, Mercury Lounge, 5/18
4. Willie Watson, Mercury Lounge, 5/21
5. Leif Vollebekk (opening set) The Bowery Ballroom, 11/21 —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Sylvan Esso, Rough Trade NYC, 9/11
Both my favorite album and my most memorable live show of 2014 came from Sylvan Esso. Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn possess unwavering emotive energy, and every single lyric and beat has sunk into my psyche . I saw the duo perform live twice this year, most recently at their headlining show at Rough Trade NYC. The duo’s erudite electronica boosted the audience as they performed the entirety of their self-titled debut album plus and few clever covers.
2. Broods, Mercury Lounge, 3/3
Comprised of New Zealander siblings Caleb and Georgia Nott, Broods blend melodic melancholia with sparkling synths and glitchy beats. After getting wrapped up in their self-titled debut EP, I simply had to see them live. Broods played their first NYC show to an incredibly enthusiastic sold-out crowd at Mercury Lounge.
3. Hozier, The Bowery Ballroom, 5/13
Hozier’s rich voice and ardent lyrics sit front and center in his compositions. When he headlined The Bowery Ballroom back in May, he was flanked by equally talented musicians who created dazzling harmonies with choral echoes and rock hooks. Hozier and his bandmates mesmerized the audience, including me.
4. Dan Croll, The Bowery Ballroom, 4/17
Dan Croll’s brand of pop is highly addictive, and his live show is equally intoxicating. He fuses lilting pop, wonky electronica and tribal beats and tops it all off with clever lyrics and airy vocals.
5. Kishi Bashi, The Bowery Ballroom, 6/4
Kishi Bashi has what so many musicians seek, and that is an astounding live presence. It’s as if this guy belongs onstage. Kishi Bashi played back-to-back sold-out New York City shows this past June and stunned audiences with his whimsical finesse and astute lyrics. This picture and my review prove that Kishi Bashi’s live performance is one big euphoric dream sequence. —Schuyler Rooth | @Schuylerspeak

Top Five Albums
1. Under the Pressure, the War on Drugs
Channeling Dylan and Springsteen beneath Adam Granduciel’s vocals and personal struggles to stunning effect, this Philly six-piece put out, for me, far and away the top album of the year.
2. Benjamin Booker, Benjamin Booker
From the very first listen, Benjamin Booker’s self-titled debut sounds familiar, not like you’d previously heard its influences, but rather you’d actually already heard this album. The music is lived in and alive and a joy to listen to again and again.
3. 77, Nude Beach
Eighteen songs that sound like the love children of late-’70s Tom Petty and Elvis Costello. You’ll smile the whole time you listen to it.
4. Dancin’ with Wolves, Natural Child
Recording for the first time as a five-piece, and moving away from gritty garage rock to
a more full-band bluesy country sound (with a side of boogie), these Nashville boys took a huge step forward.
5. Morning Phase, Beck
Six years removed from his previous offering, Beck’s slow-building emotional relative of Sea Change captures you from the very first note. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

Top Five Memorable Shows
1. Pearl Jam, I Wireless Center (Moline, Ill.), 10/17
Playing a small (for them) venue (for the first time) on a Friday night in the middle of nowhere, Pearl Jam put on the best show by any band I’ve seen in the past four years. They performed No Code in its entirety and covered Pink Floyd, John Lennon, Van Halen and Neil Young. Frontman Eddie Vedder put it best, comparing the appearance to a blind date: “You get there and she opens the door, and it’s like, she’s hot!”
2. My Morning Jacket, One Big Holiday (Riviera Maya, Mexico), 1/29
I could’ve chosen any of MMJ’s performances from this run, but the last night was the longest show and it particularly stood out thanks to the perfect weather, the we’re-on-vacation-in-the-middle-of-winter party vibe and carefully chosen covers (including Jim James singing, “Something, something, something” in “Rock the Casbah.”)
3. the War on Drugs, The Bowery Ballroom, 3/20
I absolutely loved, loved, loved Under the Pressure and was extremely excited to hear it live. The War on Drugs did not disappoint, plus they even threw in a stellar rendition of “Mind Games” to boot. (As an added bonus, the night began with Drive-By Truckers at Terminal 5 and closed with green sauce and salt-baked goodness at New York Noodletown.
4. Jonathan Wilson, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 2/14
It was a Friday night and Valentine’s Day. But if you were expecting something quiet and romantic, you’d have been way off. Jonathan Wilson and Co. delivered 16 jammed-out (but not self-indulgently) songs over the course of two-and-a-half hours.
5. Deer Tick, Allen Room, 3/6
As part of the American Songbook series, Deer Tick played an incredibly intimate, seated show in front of a wall of windows revealing Columbus Circle below. It was one of those moments that makes you grateful to live in New York City. —R.Z.

 

 

 

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Tame Impala Lay It Down on Broadway

November 11th, 2014

Tame Impala – Beacon Theatre – November 10, 2014

SwFNceWCEg-39M-6eaLmGM1RUUQeEzLOdaOmq8EzDGMWhat is it they say about Broadway, something about how there’s always magic in the air? Australian rockers Tame Impala made the move uptown this week to the Beacon Theatre, playing the second of two-sold out shows last night and there was plenty of magic in the air as the five-piece proved that they’re a perfect fit for a show right there on Broadway. After a mesmerizing set of instrumental guitar music from Delicate Steve, the Perth quintet took the stage as the electronic drums of “Be Above It” set the tone, green oscilloscope lights on the backdrop twinkling in time to the beat. As Kevin Parker’s zone-out vocals echoed, the sights and sounds grew more chaotic, the band arching orbital sounds through the venue.

The tone firmly set, the rest of the show was a majestic 80-minute psychedelic rock–and-lights masterpiece: immersive and transforming. On a day when many in the music world were discussing a new Pink Floyd release, on songs like “Solitude Is Bliss,” Tame Impala felt like the real thing at their peak, mixing prog and psych, groove and full-throated rock outs while every color of the rainbow zapped through the room in time to the music. In working through most of their 2012 LP, Lonerism, they showed there’s plenty of life in slow, otherworldly groovers like “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?” and big time arena-rock bliss in “Elephant.” There was one moment during “Endors Toi” when the group seemed to make science, ’70s prog rock and the slow clap seem cool again in one single passage, the crowd holding the beat, the band tripping hallucinogenic in synth and guitars and the backdrop going full on mathematical. Keeping with the theme, in the intro to “Mind Mischief,” Parker turned to face the screen behind him as it buzzed into shapes following his distorted guitar solo, like he was painting psychedelic patterns with his music, science meets art in Technicolor.

Of course, there were plenty of bits of esoteric instrumentals and extended jams throughout the performance, but they felt earned, part of the journey and not the destination itself. The growing entropy of the show met its end with the set-closing “Apocalypse Dreams,” the oscilloscope imagery a Crayola box of squiggles seeming to rush out at the geeked audience while the band built to a final climax. With a crowd-pleasing, sing-along encore of “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” it appeared that what they say about Broadway, at least as far as Tame Impala are concerned, is true after all. —A. Stein

(Delicate Steve play Mercury Lounge on 11/20.)

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Pond Evoke the Past While Providing a Glimpse at the Future

October 16th, 2014

Pond – The Bowery Ballroom – October 15, 2014

61-atxl1Having never been there, I imagine Australia to be like a bizarro northern hemisphere— perspective is flipped, up is down, the earth spinning in the other direction. For all I know, it’s possible the arrow of time is pointing in the other direction, so a band like Pond isn’t influenced by past greats, but is somehow instead influencing classic rock’s future past. As they tore through their late set last night at The Bowery Ballroom, the Perth quintet evoked the sounds of prog and psych rock—bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Black Sabbath and even David Bowie—but made these sounds their own from an alternate universe where those bands don’t even exist yet. Maybe that doesn’t make too much sense, but these are the kinds of things that run through your head when your body and brain are being jostled around by Pond’s live set.

Things got to that place quickly, particularly with “Giant Tortoise,” off last year’s Hobo Rocket, early in the set. With pixilated stripes of primary colors jiggling on the screen behind them, Pond deftly switched gears, high then low then back to high again, propelled by Jay Watson’s superlative drumming. The guys in the band didn’t seem to take themselves too seriously at all. Guitarist and lead singer Nick Allbrook wore a dress more appropriate for a picnic date and a Justin Bieber sweatshirt that only muddled the ensemble, plus he went on a long ad-libbed bit in the middle of “Fantastic Explosion of Time” that touched on a number of topics, including the taste du jour, pumpkin spice.

The music, though, twisted expertly through multisectioned compositions, heavy two-guitar rock-outs and more prog-y interludes. The crowd pulsed with each shift and crescendo, bouncing and bumping around the Ballroom floor. “Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind” was a brilliant Pink Floyd–as-disco jam from their back catalog, while “Xanman” was pure Sabbath fist-pumping energy. As the music pulled in different directions, Pond remained tight, largely on the strength of Watson’s intense playing and focus. The set climaxed with “You Broke My Cool,” off their 2012 album, Beard, Wives, Denim, a dense double helix of psych and funk, and the closing “Midnight Mass (At the Market Street Payphone).” That last tune was pure “save the best for last,” with a long spaced-out bridge zapped with a dreamy slide-guitar riff from Joseph Ryan. Evocative and futuristic all at once, which describes Pond through and through. —A. Stein

(Pond play Rough Trade NYC on Saturday.)

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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

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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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Woods Take The Bowery Ballroom into Orbit

May 19th, 2014

Woods – The Bowery Ballroom – May 16, 2014

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In recent years, Woods have gone from just a band to the gravitational center of a small musical universe. Other bands sounding like Woods is a thing. And artists having their albums released on Woods’ label or produced by that guy from Woods are things other bands rightly aspire to. Take Quilt—the opening act at The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night—a far-orbiting body, but orbiting nonetheless with its cross section of weird-folk songs and free-floating jams. Performing live, the emphasis was on the latter, with several Grateful Dead–of-the-’60s excursions, democratically elected brain fodder that were long but not too long. Showing off a real tour-tested cohesion, Quilt were in good form, relying heavily on material from their recent Held Up in Splendor album. The final movement of the set was either multiple songs seamlessly stitched together or a far-reaching opus with twists and surprises, trippy spirals, groovy jogs and hairpin turns.

As enjoyable as Quilt were, the sold-out crowd wanted the source, and it was good to see Woods in their element. Drippy Eye Projections provided the show’s visuals with old school liquid light displays bubbling behind the band. The projections had the effect like Woods were playing in some petri dish, part of a Technicolor ooze on the hinge between chemistry and biology. The music shared in the metaphor, natural, organic folk-based songsmith-ing meeting explosive, entropy-building jam outs. For the most part, the show was a live imagining of the excellent new With Light and With Love album. Each song was recognizably Woods at its core, but small variations on the basic theme and evolution in the sound make large changes. The title track was a representative highlight, Jeremy Earl’s unique falsetto vocals setting the mood and then releasing the tension as the band escalated into an ecstatic improv.

Little spacey ambient noodling filled the spaces between numbers: the primordial ooze from which the songs bubbled through, the medium of the goo as important as the shapes and colors moving through it, superlative songs like “Moving to the Left” as enthralling as the jams they set adrift. At one point, Woods introduced their new bassist, Chuck, for whom the packed crowd enthusiastically boogied down and/or attempted to keep their minds from leaving terra firma altogether as the scrambled rainbow colors cascaded over the stage. The encore featured a dedication to their “Vermont friends” (and fellow orbiteers) MV & EE and an excellent cover of Pink Floyd’s “Green Is the Colour,” Jarvis Taveniere playing an earthly 12-string, Woods making it beautifully their own. It was the end of one of those shows that felt, in its glorious reverie, like it might not ever end at all. But, alas, we were finally released from the Woods orbit, but hopefully not for too long. —A. Stein

 

 

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Turin Brakes Return to Delight Mercury Lounge

March 11th, 2014

Turin Brakes – Mercury Lounge – March 10, 2014

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Near the start of their set at the Mercury Lounge Monday night, Turin Brakes lead singer Olly Knights explained. “I’m a simple man … I’m explaining things simply.” It was a joke, one of many classically British understated bits of humor sprinkled throughout the show, but it also perfectly described the evening’s music. Together with guitarist Gale Paridjanian, and their more-than-capable rhythm section, the London duo crammed 15 years worth of simply stated indie rock into their set.

They opened with “Time and Money,” the lead track off their newest album, We Were Here, showing off earthy harmonies and high energy on a gothic Southern rocker. Knights assured the enthusiastic crowd, which had come out on a Monday to see a band that hadn’t played in the U.S. for 4 years, that there would be plenty of old songs and new ones, and the band delivered on that promise, grabbing from their entire history and showing off a range of styles from straight rock, stripped-down folk and everything in between. Many of the highlights found Paridjanian showing off his slide-guitar skills, like on the very elegant cool-down segue into “Blindsided Again,” which did some Pink Floyd-esque boundary breaking while Knights sang about time “ticking like an atom bomb.” Even better were the moments of both on acoustic guitar, Paridjanian with beautiful slide playing to complement the vocals on songs like “Stone Thrown” and “Future Boy.” “Emergency 72” anchored a highlight-filled second half of the set, with a Crazy Horse vibe that ended in a mallet-on-drum-fueled climax. The show closed with “I Let Somebody Under My Skin,” which began slow and folkie, building to a big rock out before twisting into a trippier section and then into a bass-and-drum big finish that was not-so-simple-after-all impressive.

The early set at the Merc sometimes feels constrained, bands racing the clock and tripping over themselves in the process. Not the case last night, Turin Brakes completely at ease, crammed just enough music into their allotted time. It’s always interesting to see how bands tread around an encore at Mercury Lounge, seeing as there’s no backstage to retreat to. Turin Brakes played it coy, naturally, allowing that they’d return for a couple more songs if asked. The crowd played along, but their ovation was honest and heartfelt—they’d waited four years, after all. In turn, the audience was rewarded with a beautiful “No Mercy,” the band clicking over Paridjanian’s otherworldly slide once again, Knights’ voice as strong as it had been all night, simply great. —A. Stein