Tag Archives: Schuyler Rooth

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Big Thief Celebrate New Album’s Release at Rough Trade NYC

June 12th, 2017

Big Thief – Rough Trade NYC – June 9, 2017


Rough Trade NYC filled up quickly on Friday night, and the expectations were high for the headliners, Big Thief, as well as the opening acts, Mega Bog and Really Big Pinecone. The latter—a trio with disarming charm—took the stage first. Their smart lyrics and self-deprecating humor were an intoxicating little combination. The band’s acclaimed sophomore album, What I Said About the Pinecone, came out last fall. Mega Bog, a jaunty rock act fronted by multi-instrumentalist Erin Birgy, followed with signature spacey sounds. Their songs sent an eerie yet cheery chill down my back, her bright voice mingling with the group’s shape-shifting psychedelic guitar riffs and kicky drums from their 2017 album, Happy Together. Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief joined them for a song mid-set to add yet another layer to the band’s freewheeling sound.

Big Thief came onstage to the tune of some particularly uproarious applause, undoubtedly because some of us had already listened to their brand-new second album, Capacity (which had come out earlier that day)—and it’s incredible. The band’s sensitive, poignant sound brings life to stories of love, death and the family history in a devastatingly real way. What’s more, singer-guitarist Lenker, guitarist Buck Meek, drummer James Krivchenia and bassist Max Oleartchik put such care and compassion into being onstage together. It’s heartening to see such a thing these days.

Big Thief played their new album almost all the way through—“Pretty Things,” “Masterpiece” and “Mythological Beauty” rang out, and Lenker paused in the middle, joking, “We’d need this time to flip the record.” Capacity’s intimacy was really magnified live. Its quiet yet ecstatic energy delivered a punch to the stomach that hurt so good. The band is just beginning a summer tour of the world, and future Big Thief concertgoers beware: You’re in for an unbelievably ride that will take you deep into the crevasses of love, pain, light and dark. —Schulyer Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com

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Margaret Glaspy Gets Earnest at a Sold-Out Bowery Ballroom

February 17th, 2017

Margaret Glasper – The Bowery Ballroom – February 16, 2017

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The cold and wind in New York City was pretty insufferable last night. But lucky for me, I got to slip into The Bowery Ballroom and join a sold-out crowd for the brilliant Margaret Glaspy and the dynamos of Cuddle Magic, a chamber-pop group whose members have some impressive names on their résumés (Beyoncé, Amanda Palmer and Okkervil River). The six-piece took the stage first and launched into a set of songs from their brand new album, Ashes/Axis. Layered synths, staccato beats and exquisite vocals make it a great listen. The bandmates hopped down into the crowd and went acoustic for part of the set amidst their beaming audience. They also used the night as an opportunity to film a music video for “Kiss You”—there was a kissing booth set up downstairs and everyone was encouraged to slide on in for a cameo. Speaking of cameos, Glaspy briefly joined them onstage for a song they wrote together.

The headliner and her band made their way onstage next for a first-rate set of songs from her critically acclaimed full-length, Emotions & Math. Glaspy’s sultry voice could make any space intimate. She’s magnetic and it seemed impossible to not take a few steps forward to soak in every one of her nostalgic lyrics and jagged guitar riffs. Highlights included “Somebody to Anybody,” a cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” and a soulful rendition of Lucinda Williams’ “Fruits of My Labor.” Glaspy brought out friend and collaborator Julian Lage to add to the guitar magic with a couple of exceptional solos. There’s affection, hurt and pride in her music, and she scrutinizes the highs and lows of love and heartbreak in a jaunty, approachable way. There’s no limit to this type of exploration, as musicians have proved to us for years. Here’s hoping Glaspy keeps on bringing us her earnest, gorgeous take on the matter. —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak

 

 

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Soak Makes an Impression at Rough Trade NYC

June 24th, 2016

Soak – Rough Trade NYC – June 23, 2016

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Rough Trade NYC buzzed with cheerful excitement last night as everyone waited to see Irish wunderkind Soak. But first, folk-electro-soul duo Overcoats played a bouncy set of songs from their eponymous debut EP. Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell were clad in matching jumpsuits that nicely complemented their coy dance moves. The twosome’s captivating harmonies and trip-hoppy loops were perfect for a live setting.

Bridie Monds-Watson (aka Soak) took the stage solo at the top of her set and played a hushed version of “Shuvels,” a hypnotic track from her debut album, Before We Forgot to Dream. The 20-year-old alt-folk singer offered lyrics of longing, love and fear throughout, her scratchy voice hanging on every word. In between numbers, she told stories of writing songs in the backseat of a car when she was 15 and thinking to herself, “This is a hit. Like a Rihanna hit” and got plenty of laughter from the crowd in response.

But that doesn’t mean Soak doesn’t have any hits of her own. Her single “B a noBody” made a splash worldwide with its modest, heartache-filled lyrics: “Come on, come on, be just like me/ Come on, come on, be a nobody.” “Hailstones Don’t Hurt,” “Garden” and “Sea Creatures” also made it into the set. During a short encore, Soak sang a gorgeous cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Monds-Watson complimented the Brooklyn audience by appreciatively saying, “If I lived in America, I’d probably live here.” —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak

 

 

 

 

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Poliça Preview New Material at Sold-Out Rough Trade NYC

February 22nd, 2016

Poliça – Rough Trade NYC – February 19, 2016

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Rough Trade NYC was packed to the gills on Friday night with good reason: Poliça were in town. But first, roots rocker JM Airis and his band took the stage to play songs from Wild Birds, their laid-back, road-weary swagger warming up the crowd and providing a good contrast to the dynamic, electro-heavy sounds that were soon to come from the headliners.

Channy Leaneagh and Co. took the stage and launched into their set without wasting a moment. The sounds of tightly wound synths, ominous percussion and Leanagh’s torchy vocals charged the air with fervid energy. The band rolled out several tracks from their forthcoming album, United Crushers, throughout their performance, punctuated with the familiar “Wandering Star,” “Tiff” and “Warrior Lord.” The new-track offerings included Poliça’s pensive ballad “Lately.” Leaneagh’s recent quote about the song speaks volumes: “Don’t let love become a distraction. I want to be moved by my lover but not put in a lethargic state of apathy for doing anything else but be with another person. Love is a place where we make each other better and inspire each other to make cool shit.”

Poliça have conquered a hefty feat—they’ve consistently released bold, multifaceted work since forming in 2011. Leaneagh’s vocal prowess, Ryan Olson’s masterful production, Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu’s bold drum work, and Chris Bierden’s daring bass all melt into a sound that’s simultaneously manic and euphoric. Their ever-growing fan base will be excited to hear that the band will return to Brooklyn this spring. Leaneagh’s new baby will be joining them for a good part of the tour, and he’ll learn how to be a road warrior from some experts. —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak

(Poliça play Warsaw on 4/23.)

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Stars and Geographer Charm a Sold-Out Bowery Ballroom

October 6th, 2015

Stars/Geographer – The Bowery Ballroom – October 5, 2015

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Two of the most charming acts around these days played to a crowd full of beaming faces last night at The Bowery Ballroom. Stars and Geographer are touring North America together this fall as one big dose of feverish pop goodness. Geographer began the night with some crowd favorites, including “Life of Crime,” “I’m Ready,” “Kites” and a vibrant rendition of Arthur Russell’s “This Is How We Walk on the Moon.” By throwing in live saxophone here and there, Mike Deni and his band amped up their free-spirited music, and the accents of an electric cello made the set more whimsical.

The disco ball lowered for Stars’ set, and bright neon lights filled the stage as they launched into one of their earliest hits, “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead.” The Canadian band has eight full-length albums and a decade of making music together, and their charming-yet-fatalistic lyrics are etched in the collective consciousness of their steadfast fan base. Throughout their performance, Stars relied on the audience to sing the choruses, visibly feeding off the crowd’s energy, and lead singers Amy Millan and Torq Campbell repeatedly reached out to touch fans in the front row.

Campbell went so far as to jump into the arms of an extra-zealous fan. The band doled out some early favorites from their discography, including campfire versions of “Elevator Love Letter” and “Today Will Be Better, I Swear.” Campbell waxed poetic between songs about vulnerability, love and the inevitability of death, and he beckoned the audience to “put your hands up because everybody dies.” After their set was over, Stars came back onstage for a short encore and finished the night with the supremely melancholic ballad “Dead Hearts.” Last night’s sold-out house proved that Stars haven’t lost their sparkle. To the contrary, their fans are as devoted as ever. —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak

(Stars and Geographer play Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight.)

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Beirut Are Intoxicatingly Charming at Radio City Music Hall

October 2nd, 2015

Beirut – Radio City Music Hall – October 1, 2015

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Last night, Radio City Music Hall hosted a gaggle of long-loved musicians, and by gaggle, I mean the six gentlemen who make up Beirut, Ethiopian keyboardist and accordion luminary Hailu Mergia and a few extra string players for good measure. Mergia kicked off the night with rich, funk-laced Ethojazz. His decades-long career began when he formed the Walias and started playing the nightclub scene in early-’70s Addis Ababa. He relocated to Washington, D.C., a few years later in order to make a name for himself outside of the brutal Ethiopian dictatorship that ruled then. Ever since his move to the States, Mergia has been recording music and performing here and there. Last night’s audience watched him and his bandmates intently as they performed a wonderfully jazzy, zigzagging set.

After a brief intermission, the velvety curtains onstage rose to reveal Beirut, enveloped in gorgeous blue-hued shadows. The band’s hiatus from recording and performing has only made their fans’ hearts grow fonder, as was evidenced by uproarious applause throughout the music hall. Zach Condon and his bandmates knit together an hour and a half of material both new and old. They gave plenty of stage time to their new album, No No No, and pulled out older favorites, like “Santa Fe,” “Nantes” and “Scenic World.”

A trio of string musicians, perched stage left and jumped in to support various numbers, flanked the band. The set was filled with perfectly synchronized brass, heavy drums and Condon’s signature wistful vocals. At some point, the audience had had enough of sitting down. Condon acknowledged that, and bade us to get up and dance, which we promptly did. Beirut have an aura of splendid playfulness, and their energy was completely intoxicating. They will undoubtedly continue to charm us with their intricate, frolicsome music. —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak

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Jarryd James Offers a Peak of What’s to Come at The Bowery Ballroom

August 11th, 2015

Jarryd James – The Bowery Ballroom – August 10, 2015

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Mondays can be tricky for live music, and venues sometimes sit empty at the beginning of the week while everyone’s trying to reverse out of weekend mode. But last night’s crowd at The Bowery Ballroom had no intention of skipping out on the chance to see Jarryd James perform in New York City for the first time. James and his openers, Secret Weapons, coaxed their audience onto the dance floor with no problem at all. The Brooklyn-based indie pop duo is relatively brand new: The two friends, who met in high school, have been making music for a while now, but Secret Weapons have only been performing as a band for about a year. They zipped through a series of raucous, ’80s-inspired pop anthems including “Perfect World” and “Keep XX,” complete with a saxophone solo and guest vocals from a smattering of their friends.

James gingerly took the stage, clearly surprised by the size of the crowd. The Brisbane, Australia, singer-songwriter just began releasing music—which the indie blogosphere has positively fawned over—at the beginning of 2015. Although he’s been making music for more than a decade, refining his sound along the way. James’s two single releases, “Do You Remember” and “Give Me Something,” pair bold, booming instrumentals with gorgeously subdued R&B-tinged vocals. His lyrics deliver a wallop of desperation and defiance. He and his band put on an unerringly soulful show, awarding us a sneak peek of what’s to come. The set began light and slowly delved deeper into more poignant, somber tones. The aforementioned singles bookended the show, and new tunes flooded our ears for the remainder. James is scheduled to release his debut album in the U.S. next January. But he’ll also release an EP here in September, so we won’t have to wait too long to hear more of his disarming voice. —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak

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A Thrilling Triple Bill Sells Out Rough Trade NYC

July 24th, 2015

Son Lux/Landlady/Olga Bell – Rough Trade NYC – July 23, 2015

Son Lux/Landlady/Olga Bell – Rough Trade NYC – July 23, 2015
Last night, Rough Trade NYC hosted one of the best bills of the week, with the trifecta of Son Lux, Landlady and Olga Bell drawing a sold-out crowd. Olga Bell, whose newest EP—Incitation—is due later this year, took the stage first and played a solo set filled with plucky lyrics and glitchy beats. Her impish, nimble voice trekked up and over her varied chaotic synth-scapes. Brooklyn retro-pop group Landlady, up next, possessed the charm of a barbershop quartet, and they’re profoundly sincere. Frontman Adam Schatz is a stranger to dull moments. His optimism bordered on brash, but it worked in his favor. There wasn’t a single lull in the band’s set, and big brass, jaunty guitar riffs and Schatz’s clever lyrics in songs like “Above My Ground,” “Maria” and “Dying Day” enchantingly swirled together.

Ryan Lott, Rafiq Bhatia and Ian Chang—who did double duty as the drummer for Landlady earlier in the night—took the stage and launched straight into a raucous rendition of “Change Is Everything,” from their newest album, Bones, Lott’s potent lyrics dancing atop frenzied percussion, dazzling keys and piercing guitar. The band invited several friends onstage to provide a brass section for “You Don’t Know Me.” Ryan reflected on their tour and said how happy they were to return to Brooklyn: “We’re all here in this moment. It might be a brief one, but it might be a very important one. It certainly feels that way to us.” Son Lux closed with a sprawling version of “Lost It to Trying,” complete with thunderous, syncopated clapping from the crowd. Their music is some of the most inventive, intimate stuff around these days. Hearing it live was nothing short of thrilling. —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak


Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | www.charlesosteinberg.com

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Purity Ring and Co. Slay a Sold-Out Terminal 5

June 4th, 2015

Purity Ring – Terminal 5 – June 3, 2015

Purity Ring – Terminal 5 – June 3, 2015
Last night, Terminal 5 hosted three Canadian bands for the second night in a row. Purity RingBraids and Born Gold all hail from Alberta, and they’ve known one another for years, so their hometown pride was through the roof. Born Gold took the stage first as fans rolled into the sold-out venue. Cecil Frena’s and Eric Cheng’s voices bounced around amongst glitchy, schizophrenic electro beats. The duo provided the perfect intro to a night filled with lithe, eerie sounds and booming bass.

Braids followed. And if there’s one band that knows how to simultaneously be precious and ferocious, it’s this Calgary trio. Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s sirenlike voice was piercing and crisp as she delivered lyrics from their most recent album, Deep in the Iris. They tore through their set with graceful indignation, showcasing songs like “Miniskirt” and “Happy When.” Standell-Preston mentioned that she and the rest of her tour mates were sick. Nevertheless, her voice soared throughout the set over heavy drumbeats and nimble piano phrases. Braids’ brave, melancholic music is even better live than it is recorded.

Megan James and Corin Roddick of Purity Ring took the stage in complete darkness as the room began to boom with excitement. Strings of lights sparkled and strobes fired as the duo, clad in all white, launched into their set. James climbed atop a small pedestal, her hair whipping around as she sang through most of their sophomore album, Another Eternity, and a couple of songs from their debut full-length, Shrines. James and Roddick gave off a shy, coy vibe, but a huge sense of ferocity and joy underscored their performance. “Repetition,” “Push Pull” and “Fineshrine” sent the audience into a state of wild euphoria. And it was only right that Purity Ring’s set ended with a little crowd surfing on James’s part. —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak


Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | cs-music.squarespace.com