Tag Archives: Prince Rupert’s Drops

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Steve Gunn Headlines a Great Showcase at Mercury Lounge

May 19th, 2014

Steve Gunn – Mercury Lounge – May 18, 2014

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Last night Mercury Lounge hosted the kind of show you’ll easily find during CMJ week, but is rare most of the rest of the year. Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records have put out a steady stream of fascinating, enigmatic music over the past couple of years, and there was no reason to expect anything less in the live version with multiple acts on the same bill. Things got rolling with the acoustic duo Worthless. There seemed to be a resonant theme with reverberating six- and 12-string guitars, echoing vocals and stark shadows formed by the LCD projector. It was a crunchy sound, slightly comforting, very engaging. Devonian Gardens followed, and at various times they featured a harp, a flute, finger cymbals, a harmonica and a possibly intentional aqua blue–instrument scheme. At this point, things began to simmer as Drippy Eye Projections filled the stage with swirling bubbles of light. Given all that, the set was actually heavy duty rather than cutesy esoteric, characterized mostly by a pounding bass drum and not-much-less-pounding electric bass. There were plenty of frisky little space jams, off-kilter vocal harmonies, weirdo-psych-punk ragers tied one end to the other and, on average, about one hair-on-your-chest guitar solo per song.

The penultimate slot went to Prince Rupert’s Drops, guitarist Leslie Stein began the set wondering if they would get a trippy backdrop as well. (As if she had to ask!) Still, they hardly needed the visuals to get the brains turning, immediately charging into psychedelic territory led by Chad Laird’s slow-drip bass grooves. The set was a mix of old and new material, the newer stuff characterized by an exciting, darker edge. One of these featured some fancy overlapping guitar riffs, the band showing a new level of skill and maturity. A tune introduced as the “mellow” number for the night began as a dreamy sitar-esque jammer before flipping into a nicely played crescendo jam, drums, bass, guitars and organ working together. Altogether, the material showed a nice mix of both prog and psych rock, most songs featuring several sections or movements with Laird and Steve McGuirl on drums leading them from one to the next smoothly. The set closed with a 10-minute version of “Run Slow,” a long raging jam combining of old Genesis and Led Zeppelin.

Steve Gunn isn’t actually on the BBIB label, but he still perfectly capped off the bill. Playing solo acoustic, he announced things would be mellow but that it was OK because it was Sunday night. (Someone probably should have informed the rest of the bands, but then again, we all have different definitions of mellow and Sunday appropriate.) Gunn’s Sunday night was filled with gorgeous acoustic guitar playing: exotic reverberations, beautiful tones and compelling narratives. He opened with a long meandering thing that drifted in and out of verses and guitar excursions, like a helium balloon filled with blues music that floated halfway across the globe and up into the outer shells of the atmosphere. Although all the songs felt like instrumental pieces with sung verses layered on top, the one true instrumental was a highlight. It was a stunning bit of acoustic music, almost-over-the-top decadent, the room totally saturated with the sound of his guitar. If some of the strings were out of tune, he somehow worked this to the music’s advantage, only enhancing the otherworldly affect. It was a perfect ending to a night of great music. —A. Stein

 

 

 

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Widowspeak Celebrate New Album at Mercury Lounge

January 23rd, 2013

Widowspeak – Mercury Lounge – Janauary 22, 2013


It looks like a real winter has arrived in New York City. All the chatter between sets last night at Mercury Lounge was some variation of “Cold enough for ya!?”—and coats and hats were de rigueur even after the room was packed front to back. There are several strategies for dealing with the onset of winter and the bill last night featured a good soundtrack for each of them. You can just decide to bunker down inside and wait it out until spring. And if that’s your tack, Prince Rupert’s Drops would be a good choice. Getting better with every gig, their long, cliff-diving guitar jams were perfect for letting your mind wander completely unaware of how low the mercury had dipped outside.

Or perhaps you prefer to get out of town altogether. In that case, Murals, out of Louisville, Ky., might fit the bill, with their surf-y guitar and soft-spoken vocals, their set was a perfect complement to a lazy day at the beach. Of course, most in the sold-out crowd were just prepared to deal with it head on. And headliner Widowspeak played a set of ideal winter music combining the barren, soft, quiet-snowflakes-falling vocals of Molly Hamilton with a band that rumbles like a storm in February with a “wintry mix” of sound. Like a landscape covered with new snow, the Brooklyn band was all about fresh and new Tuesday night, celebrating the release of their album Almanac earlier in the day and featuring for the first time a fifth member who split time on both electric piano and guitar.

Many of the new songs were played for the first time, and while Hamilton seemed apologetic, they came off as fully formed ready-to-go rockers, the band dialed in nicely for each one. A lot of the material was too new to be known, even for the packed crowd of longtime fans, and so they laid back and took in the new stuff, which had a decisively heavier edge, a lot of the twang from the older stuff swallowed by a band with the confidence and ability to go full throttle. By the end, Widowspeak were operating at full fledged Nor’easter making sure that if winter was going to be around for a while, at least we had the music to help face it head on. —A. Stein

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After Midnight, We’re Gonna Let It All Hang Down

December 31st, 2012

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks/Prince Rupert’s Drops – Mercury Lounge – December 29, 2012

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks

There’s an old “Your father used to tell you” saying: “Nothing good happens after midnight.” But I think we can all agree that’s demonstrably false. Take Saturday’s late-night after-party double bill at Mercury Lounge put on by Dog Gone Blog for those coming from earlier shows. This one was an extrasensory delight with old school projector and Day-Glo liquid light show and some deep, mind-altering psychedelic music. First up, Prince Rupert’s Drops played music from their excellent debut album, Run Slow. The pulsing colors behind the band nicely matched the music, strong candy-coated pop one moment—like the single-ready “Almond Man”—and then stretched out taffy-like, with jams like the title track lasting the better part of 10 minutes, the next.

Finishing the night, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks played a decidedly open-ended set with perfectly pitched ambient late-night groove instrumentals mixing with some crowd-pleasing covers. The wee morning suited Bleeker and Co. well: It was as good as I’ve seen them play, nailing a rocking “Sweet Virginia” and a great “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo.” But the highlight was a cover of Phish’s “Bathtub Gin,” which launched a long, coherent space jam that went beyond Phish or Dead territory to the after-midnight place where maybe nothing good ever does happen. Just don’t tell your pop. —A. Stein

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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.