Tag Archives: Prince


The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra Play Mercury Lounge

January 6th, 2015

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra have been winning over fans in their native New Zealand going on a decade now. And in addition to their ukes, the band—a very talented 10 to 12 strong, occasionally including the Oscar-winning Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Concords fame—employs accompanying instruments, exceptional harmonies and a terrific sense of humor (come on, they’re a ukulele orchestra), but their music is no joke. The genre-hopping group hits bluegrass, country, rock, reggae and R&B while covering the likes of Prince, Kings of Leon, Pharrell and Randy Newman, to name just a few. After releasing four EPs (stream them below), the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra (above, performing “I Love You, Raylene”) released their first full-length—of Kiwi covers—Be Mine Tonight (stream it below), last year. And now they’re making a rare Stateside appearance for a tour that kicks off tonight at Mercury Lounge. Local singer-songwriter and ukulele player Emilyn Brodsky and New Zealand comedian Steve Wrigley open the show.


Jarle Bernhoft Brings His Cool One-Man Band to The Bowery Ballroom

November 26th, 2013

When the group he was in disbanded, Norwegian singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Jarle Bernhoft decided to leave behind fronting a rock band to go solo as a soul man.
(“This friend of mine gave me a Sly & the Family Stone album, and I couldn’t really come down off that wall; I was nailed to it,” he told NPR.) His first album, the funk- and soul-influenced Ceramik City Chronicles, came out in 2008. Bernhoft’s follow-up, Solidarity Breaks (stream it below), was released in 2011. The album, says Allmusic, “is
a mixture of acoustic R&B, Prince-inspired funk and impassioned soul ballads.” And thanks to the current New Yorker’s high-energy one-man shows filled with a deft usage of the looping pedal and some impressive beat-boxing, Bernhoft (above, performing the remarkable “Cmon Talk”) has become a musician not to miss. So don’t. See him play The Bowery Ballroom tonight.


Cut Loose with Body Language and AVAN LAVA Tonight

August 1st, 2013

With a healthy dose of coed harmonies and funky synth sounds, Body Language—vocalist Angelica Bess, drummer Ian Chang and DJs-vocalists Grant Wheeler and Matthew Young—make R&B-tinged dance pop in the vein of Chromeo and Dirty Projectors. Their first EP, Speaks, came out in 2009, and that same year they opened for Passion Pit at The Bowery Ballroom. Two years later, the Brooklyn quartet released their first LP, Social Studies (stream it below), about which NPR said: “With its diverse mix of up-tempo dance beats, pop hooks and soulfully funky vocals, Social Studies has something for just about everyone, provided they don’t feel like sitting still.” Body Language (above, the video for their new single, “Well Absolutely”) have another full-length, Grammar, due in September.

Five years ago, while performing with Fischerspooner in Brazil, producers-multi-instrumentalists Le Chev and Ian Pai bonded over their shared love of Daft Punk, electronic music, Prince and R&B. And when the two met singer TC Hennes in New York City a few months later, they knew they were on their way to launching the indie dance group AVAN LAVA. The trio recorded a pair of EPs, including last year’s Flex Fantasy (stream it below), but when performing live, they team up with multi-instrumentalists-vocalists-dancers Drew Citron and Lo Lampert and percussionist Andrew Schneider. And for AVAN LAVA (above, doing “It’s Never Over”), when playing live it’s all about getting people moving, which, along with Body Language, they will do tonight at The Bowery Ballroom.


A Collaboration Grows in Brooklyn

June 19th, 2013

The Roots and Jim James – Prospect Park Bandshell – June 18, 2013

Let’s face it, musical collaborations rarely pan out. With too many artists pulling a song in too many directions, before you know it, you’ve got “We Are the World.” But if there’s one group that can make collaboration worthwhile, it’s the Roots. As the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, they’ve thrown their musical superpowers behind plenty of visiting musicians, with the end result almost always turning out exceptional. So how would a collaborative “State of the Union” show in Prospect Park turn out between the Roots and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, one of the greatest, soulful voices to come out of recent history? Is the answer so obvious that asking this rhetorical question seems silly?

The show kicked off promptly at 7 p.m. with James and his backing band. Despite the early start time and lousy weather, an impressive number of umbrella-wielding fans made it there on time. His set ran through most of his debut solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God, before closing with Monsters of Folk songs “The Right Place” and “Changing World.” The Roots followed with a formidable set of their own as the rain began to clear, starting off rather appropriately with “Table of Contents (Parts 1 & 2),” which dissolved into a cover of “Jungle Boogie.” One song often bled into another, keeping the music flowing and energy levels high, with the band using the massive stage to run from side to side, keeping the crowd’s attention. There were a few pauses to showcase some serious musicianship, with Damon “Tuba Gooding Jr.” Bryson blowing through a vicious sousaphone solo (yes, these things exist). Brooklyn’s own Captain Kirk Douglas ripped through a Pete Frampton-esque talky guitar solo on “You Got Me.”

Jim James returned to the stage when the clock struck 10, kicking off things with the 2.0 version of Monsters of Folk’s “Dear God,” which originated from the band’s appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. This was followed by a trifecta of covers: Prince’s “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” a superfunky rendition of Bill Withers’ “Use Me” and ending with John Lennon’s powerful “Instant Karma!” Were it not for the park’s hard stop time, the show probably could have gone on forever, as the Roots and James were certainly enjoying themselves. The best we can do for now is hope that these two musical forces meet again, some time sooner rather than later. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com


Chvrches Get the Summer Started

June 18th, 2013

Chvrches – Webster Hall – June 17, 2013

Sunshine. Tank tops. Ice cream. Barbeques. Chvrches. All provide a perfect recipe for summer. The latter are a fast-rising electro-pop outfit hailing from Scotland and were the darlings at this year’s SXSW. Although the trio of Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty only have a singular EP to their names, they announced last Friday that their much-anticipated debut full-length album entitled The Bone of What You Believe will be out in September. Until then, the band has reimagined the theme of Game of Thrones, and they’ll be opening for Depeche Mode beginning next month. Needless to say, the summer’s sizzling for Chvrches.

After two successful sold-out shows at Mercury Lounge in March, the trio graduated to Webster Hall. The anticipation was heightened as the house lights dimmed to welcome Mayberry, Cook and Doherty. The stage was illuminated with a wave of Mayberry’s slender arm as they opened with “Lies.” Amazed by the sold-out crowd, she thought it would be her mom purchasing all the tickets, however Chvrches’ first headlining tour would be a success beyond Mum’s support. The heavy bass on “We Sink” had even the sound technicians in the rafters bobbing in time with the beats. The band effortlessly rattled off “Now Is Not the Time,” recent single “Gun” and “Science and Vision,” in which Mayberry’s vocals were exceedingly chirpy.

Astonished that there were crowd surfers, she sweetly cautioned those in the audience to be safe in her Scottish brogue. Doherty moved from behind his synthesizers to sing new tune, “Tide.” He stomped his right foot wildly to the beats, while delivering lyrics in a Morrissey-like lilt. The dance floor erupted for “Recover” and the final song of the set, “The Mother We Share.” For an added treat, the three returned to encore with a cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U.” Summer may not actually start until Friday, but Chvrches kicked it off last night. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.wordpress.com


Cut Loose with the Heavy Tomorrow Night at Webster Hall

June 11th, 2013

It began in the ’90s, when singer Kelvin Swaby and guitarist Dan Taylor bonded over common interests in classic R&B and Jim Jarmusch flicks in South West England. From there, the two joined drummer Chris Ellul and bassist Spencer Page to form the Heavy, making a guitar-heavy rock-soul hybrid, highlighted by Swaby’s vocals, which earned him heady comparisons to Prince and Curtis Mayfield. The quartet first released several singles before their debut LP, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire, came out in 2007. Their next album, The House That Dirt Built, followed two years later, and, thanks to smash single “How You Like Me Now,” it earned the Heavy (above, doing “What Makes a Good Man” on Last Call with Carson Daly) appearances on TV and in soundtracks. But the quartet headed to Columbus, Ga., to record last year’s The Glorious Dead (stream it below). With its blues, funk and acid-rock influences, Allmusic praised the album as “the illegitimate offspring of the Black Keys and Gnarls Barkley.” Do yourself a favor and go see them play Webster Hall tomorrow night.


A Little Bit Weird, a Little Bit Charming and Highly Entertaining

April 4th, 2013

Darwin Deez – The Bowery Ballroom – April 3, 2013

The lights dimmed, the crowd cheered and the speakers blasted Rich Boy’s “Throw Some D’s” as Darwin Deez, the energetic pop band fronted by the guitarist of the same name, took the Bowery Ballroom stage last night. I explained to my friend, a causal concertgoer, that it’s become a trend for indie bands to kick off the night with a hip-hop track before beginning their set. However, this NYC band surprised me—instead of immediately picking up their instruments, they launched into a goofy choreographed dance before striking their first chord. It was a fun way to begin the show, and they repeated the tactic throughout the night, pausing every few songs to line up center stage and display their dancing skills (or lack thereof).

During one break, Deez announced a special guest: “Ladies and gentlemen, Willow Smith!” For a moment, it seemed as if anything was possible and Smith might actually come out to whip her hair. But another tween with long, poofy hair emerged. Deez gave her a nod, and she twisted her head violently, imitating that infamous video. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been so surprised by the band’s delightful quirks, which came off as anything but a gimmick. Deez’s music is the aforementioned pop and goof all rolled into one distinct package, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

He’s built a loyal following by exploiting his looks (really, his locks) and his quirkiness, but even more so by displaying a keen ability to write a great pop song. And he and his band put on a great live show. The night flowed effortlessly as Deez played fan favorites like “Radar Detector” and “Constellations,” and the set hinted at some of the guitarist’s undoubtedly disparate influences, of which I can only venture a guess: the Strokes, Prince and some of that hip-hop he played. Is the band a little weird? Surely. But it’s charming and totally Darwin Deez. He’s created a sound, an aesthetic and a personality that’s all his own, in a highly entertaining way. —Alex Kapelman


Ring in the New Year with The Bowery Presents

December 31st, 2012

Nights like New Year’s Eve can be overwhelming because of the pressure to have fun—not necessarily on you but on those who don’t go out often but will for big occasions. In other words, it can be amateur night. So instead of paying a cover to go to an annoying, overcrowded bar, do yourself a favor and go to one of our shows. Punch Brothers at The Bowery Ballroom and the Felice Brothers at Mercury Lounge are both sold out. But we’ve still got several great options for you: If you’re looking for a fantastic double bill of rowdy rock, head directly to The Wellmont Theatre to see the Hold Steady (above, doing “Rock Problems” on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson) and Lucero. Of course, if you’d rather spend the rest of 2012 rocking out in Brooklyn, you can do that with NYC’s They Might Be Giants at Music Hall of Williamsburg. But then you might be looking to cut loose with a different kind of music. At Terminal 5, in addition to doing their own songs, Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra (below, playing “The Killing Type”) will be playing all of Prince’s Purple Rain. And at the Capitol Theatre, the Funky Meters and Dumpstaphunk will have you dancing along to their funky NOLA R&B.


Miguel Celebrates New Album at The Bowery Ballroom

October 2nd, 2012

Miguel – The Bowery Ballroom – October 1, 2012

Miguel, the eclectic R&B powerhouse from Los Angeles, performed a sold-out show at The Bowery Ballroom last night, on the eve of the release of his second studio album, Kaleidoscope Dream. In synergy with the album title, the performance was enhanced by an elaborate light show—with Miguel and his four-piece band surrounded by colorful neon prisms, bright flashing bulbs and soaring beams of light that mirrored the fractured, hypnotic sensation of being inside a kaleidoscope. As he lithely moved about the stage, clad in a shiny red blazer, gold jewelry glinting, Miguel appeared to relish becoming part of the optical illusion.

As Miguel and his band performed high-impact versions of songs like “Sure Thing” and “The Thrill,” Prince’s influence was loud and clear, and during songs like the candid musical proposition “Quickie,” Miguel channeled the playful naughtiness of R. Kelly. Despite these musical reference points, Miguel is not an artist who lingers very long in any one box. For example, he began his soulful version of “Teach Me” by surprisingly blending in a reworked cover of the Zombies’ psychedelic “Time of the Season.”

In addition to an ear for melody and a killer falsetto, Miguel is blessed with a kind of super-powered charisma. As the singer tried to lead the crowd in an a cappella sing-along of “The Girl with the Tattoo,” the background vocals the crowd had rehearsed quickly dissolved into shrieks of adoration when Miguel began singing his lyrics. Laughing appreciatively, he had everyone start over and was able to get through the song without being overtaken by screams. And although the light show dazzled, Miguel easily outshone it. —Alena Kastin