Tag Archives: Rubblebucket

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Landlady Holiday Spectacular: Great Night of Music for a Great Cause

December 9th, 2014

 The Landlady Holiday Spectacular – Mercury Lounge – December 8, 2014

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I walked into Mercury Lounge last night to a festive holiday party already in progress. There were blinking lights, multiple trees and decorations throughout the room, a jar labeled FREE CANDY offered candy canes, and Santa Claus had just hopped off the stage to lead the room in “Silent Night.” Far be it from me to call Santa a liar, but the Landlady Holiday Spectacular would turn out to be anything but a silent night. In fact, with a makeshift second stage set up on the side of the room, there was almost no pause in the music for three-and-a-half hours, with brass bands big and small to indie-rock quartets to bluegrass trios, folk duos, large Afrobeat ensembles and almost anything else you could imagine. The sets were quick: two to four songs each, so if you didn’t like what you were hearing, you didn’t have to wait long, but that was rarely the case. It would take too long to even try to list the proceedings, probably about a dozen bands played in all, but there were Zula mixing Latin rhythms in an indie rock thing, the Westerlies adding Christmas songs to originals arranged for two trombones and a trumpet, the avant drum-and-guitar duo Star Rover expertly going post-post-rock, and Zongo Junction getting everyone boogieing down with their big, funky Afrobeat.

The audience constantly rotated between the front and the side, where little impromptu groups would spring up in between the more established ones, like when Rubblebucket’s Kal Traver joined the man of the hour, Adam Schatz, on a nice bluesy sax-and-vocals duet. Although the room was full, at times it felt like there were more musicians in the crowd than paying customers, a constant stream of saxophones and guitars fighting their way one of the stages. If this party were a movie, Schatz, who amazingly made the evening work while sitting in on sax with almost everyone, would’ve filled the director, producer and lead-actor roles. Still, by the time his band, Landlady, took the stage there was a risk that it would be anticlimactic after all that had already come. Not to worry, there wasn’t a chance of that happening. They opened with “Under the Yard,” off their new album, Upright Behavior, and raised the energy a few notches, mixing harmonies and offbeat rhythms with Schatz’s unique songwriting. The music was a groovy, progressive New Wave, a Talking Heads for the 21st century, with Schatz gesticulating lovingly at the front on keyboards. But even as he led Landlady through their repertoire—the title track and “Dying Day” were early set highlights—he was directing the show, prompting a horn section on the side stage to enter the fray at just the right moment.

Of course, with so many friends in the house, you had to expect even more collaborations, guests and permutations, and Schatz quickly ceded the stage to Jared Samuel (leading the band in a nice cover of George Harrison’s “Awaiting on You All”), Sam Cohen, Xenia Rubinos and Luke Temple. This highlight stretch turned Landlady into an expert house band primed for late-night talk shows, slipping between genres as easily as flipping through LPs at the record store. As if to punctuate the point, Landlady invited pretty much everyone onstage for a closing climactic one-two punch of covers by Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love” and Funkadelic’s “I Got a Thing.” With horns, guitars, drums and what seemed like the whole room singing along, spectacular doesn’t even begin to describe the festivities. It should also be noted that the whole night was a benefit for the Bushwick School of Music, which provides music education to kids who wouldn’t otherwise receive it in school. It was a worthy cause, indeed. Guys like Adam Schatz just don’t appear beneath the Christmas tree, you know. —A Stein | @Neddyo

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Rubblebucket’s Music Comes Alive Onstage at Stage 48

November 6th, 2014

Rubblebucket – Stage 48 – November 5, 2014

Rubblebucket – Stage 48 – November 5, 2014
While their tour might not yet be over, Rubblebucket returned home last night with an excellent performance at Stage 48, still glowing from showing off the music from their newest full-length album, Survival Sounds. They played to a crowd brimming with excitement to welcome home the band, so much so that Rubblebucket didn’t even make it past one song before lead singer Kalmia Traver had to take a moment to shake hands with and high-five most of the front row of fans.

If you’ve never seen (or heard of) Rubblebucket, that’s a problem that needs to be quickly remedied. They’re a band that’s been around for a while now, having cut their teeth playing all sorts of small-time jam-band festivals with long, loud and messy sets. But today’s Rubblebucket are a refined version with melodic pop influences, which means most all of their recorded tracks are certified earworms. And in a live setting, they’re even better. Traver is a total force, the kind that’s hard to write about because she’s what everyone can’t help but focus their attention on every time the band is mentioned.

Rubblebucket’s live setup usually involves two horn players (or flutes or both, depending on the song), a guitarist and bassist, a drummer and a synth player who does just about everything else as well. And despite all these moving parts, the band is almost impossibly tight, so the lush music sounds bigger and brighter than that of almost any other live act. And they do this all with a ton of action onstage and a smile on every face. They’re the kind of band that makes you realize how boring even some of your favorite groups can be with their live shows, but you’ll only be able to thank them for that. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

Rubblebucket Are Taking Over Our Instagram

October 31st, 2014

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Rubblebucket are taking over our Instagram. Check out @BoweryPresents on Monday for a behind-the-scenes peek as they prepare for their big show at Stage 48 on 11/5.

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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.)

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Galactic Kick Off Four-Night Run at Brooklyn Bowl

August 8th, 2013

Galactic – Brooklyn Bowl – August 7, 2013


As far as metaphors go, New Orleans’ Galactic most resemble Silly Putty: totally elastic, plenty of bounce and press ’em hard enough against something and they’ll pick it up and distort it to no end. Opening a four-night run at Brooklyn Bowl last night, their unpredictable malleability was in full effect. After a tough-to-follow opening set from hot up-and-comers Superhuman Happiness, who appear to be raising Afrobeat space-funk indie pop to an art form, the veteran jammers took the stage and wasted no time with a warm-up solo-packed funk jam.

From there the set was delivered in bite-sized pieces. Guests rotated in and then left only to return, beginning with Corey Glover, looking quite like your golf-obsessed uncle and delivering a decidedly soul-blues-rock edge. His highlight was a great cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Night People,” which rode a nice Jeff Raines guitar solo, and the appropriately titled “Ooh Nah Nay,” the crowd singing along while getting lost in the Bermuda Triangle of Rob Mercurio, Ben Ellman and Stanton Moore. The proverbial glow stick was cracked when Jon Gutwillig from the Disco Biscuits joined in on guitar, adding a long, swirly phospherescent solo to a dark, funky jam. The Silly Putty went pretzel as Glover and Gutwillig both sat in for, of all things, an adrenaline-rush cover of Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”

Of course Galactic spent some quality time on their own, with plenty of boogie-inducing numbers, from the classic Meters-esque groovers to the explosive, harmonica-meets-slide-guitar-meets-TNT-drums “Shibuya.” But the guests couldn’t be held off for too long: Rubblebucket’s Kalmia Traver brought a bucket of energy to the second Zeppelin cover of the night, matching Glover’s performance with a house-igniting take on “Whole Lotta Love.” Traver moved to baritone saxophone and bandmate Alex Toth joined in on trumpet for a big-horn-section take on “Baker’s Dozen” before Glover returned to close it all out with a Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality.” And that was just the first night! Don’t worry. I’m sure there’s plenty of bounce left in ’em for three more—and then some. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

(Galactic play Brooklyn Bowl tonight, tomorrow and Saturday.)

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This Double Bill Will Have You Dancing

November 15th, 2012

Musically speaking, Alex Toth (trumpet) and Kalmia Traver (vocals and sax) have been together for a while. The two met as music majors at the University of Vermont and upon graduation they joined the reggae outfit John Brown’s Body. Eventually they decided to go in a different direction, more along the lines of a mash-up of psychedelic pop and dance music with layered rhythms and melodies. Craig Myers (percussion) was the first to join the effort, but now the Brooklyn-based Rubblebucket (above, doing “Breatherz”) performs with an array of instruments and as many as nine musicians.

Ryan Engelberger, William Kennedy, Andrew McFarland and Graham Ulicny formed the dance-pop quartet Reptar (below, doing “Sebastian” for KEXP FM) four years ago in Athens, Ga. And with buzz-worthy appearances at festivals like Austic City Limits and Lollapalooza, they’ve left behind a slew of sweaty, dancing bodies with their updated take on dance-worthy electronic music. Together with Rubblebucket, they make a killer double bill. Go see these bands live: on Saturday at The Bowery Ballroom (which is sold out) or on Sunday at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

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Can You Describe the Ruckus?

January 30th, 2012

Rubblebucket – The Bowery Ballroom – January 28, 2012


In between the opener and the headliner of Saturday night’s sold-out Bowery Ballroom show a woman asked us for the name of the first band. When I said, “Superhuman Happiness,” she responded, “They were really good!” I nodded in agreement: Indeed, they had just turned the room into a dance hall, blending Afrobeat with modern touches ranging from the Talking Heads to LCD Soundsystem. It was jamming horn-heavy groove music with claws, gratifying fans in the crowd and winning over plenty more.

Then the woman asked if we had ever seen Rubblebucket, the headliner. We replied that we hadn’t and she got a look in her eye. I know that look. I’ve given it to people plenty of times. It says, “You’re in for a treat and you don’t even know it.” Not many acts can put that kind of spark in someone’s eye. But later in the night—somewhere in between the crowd-surfing guest sousaphonist and the robot puppets (or puppet robots?) dancing through the arms-in-the-air crowd while the band stretched out a jam that had begun with a whiplash version of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”—there was no question where that look had come from because I had the same one.

Rubblebucket picked up right where Superhuman Happiness had left off, taking the organic stuff of the tribal and the electronic and burying it underground until it liquefied into pure party petrol. The music was utterly post-genre—horns, synth, guitars, harmonies—a smile-inducing point on the tangent that connects Björk and Broken Social Scene. If those in the audience were enjoying themselves to the legal limit, the band members were right there with them, amid the crowd-surfing and the confetti cannons and returning for the encore ensconced in LEDs that seemed to blink in time with the drums. By the end of the show, which included material off last year’s Omega La La and even stronger first-time-played material, not a booty was left unshaken and not an eye was left untwinkling. —A. Stein

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A Bowery Ballroom Dance Party

January 26th, 2012


Musically speaking, Alex Toth (trumpet) and Kalmia Traver (vocals and sax) have been together for a while. The two met as music majors at the University of Vermont and upon graduation they joined the reggae outfit John Brown’s Body. Eventually they decided to go in a different direction, more along the lines of a mash-up of psychedelic pop and dance music with layered rhythm and melodies and arrangements by Toth. Craig Myers (percussion) was the first to join the effort, but now the Brooklyn-based Rubblebucket (above, doing “Triangular Daisies” for Audiotree Live) performs with an array of instruments and as many as nine musicians. And when they play live, they bring it. So bring yourself to The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night and be prepared to shake it.