Tag Archives: Sharlene Chiu

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Lisa Hannigan Makes a Triumphant Return at The Bowery Ballroom

February 21st, 2017

Lisa Hannigan – The Bowery Ballroom – February 20, 2017

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Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan has a way of wrapping you in a warm woolen blanket with delicate vocals that seem to embrace you in a loving hug. Often known for her backing vocals while touring in the past with Damien Rice, she has forged on to release three solo albums after an abrupt break from her former collaborator. Her previous album produced with the National’s Aaron Dessner, At Swim, arrived last summer following a long five-year hiatus. Needless to say, fans were excited for her return to New York City as she arrived at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom last night, midway through her U.S. tour.

The room came to a hush as Hannigan took to the stage crooning the ever-haunting “Ora.” Although she was sparse with banter throughout the evening, fans didn’t seem to mind as they happily soaked up her ethereal melodies. Opener Heather Woods Broderick added her vocals on “O Sleep,” stepping in for Ray Lamontagne. Hannigan mentioned how her video for “Undertow” was recently released and that in the filming she had to sing the song backward. The singer playfully proceeded to share her backward trill, before introducing a protest song, “Fall,” which was an appropriate addition to the events of Presidents’ Day.

The band exited, leaving the stage to the lass for the music-box plucks of “Little Bird” and the wanderlusting “Passenger.” Her lilting brogue rang true on “We, the Drowned,” as Hannigan pumped her harmonium with extra zeal. Stalwart fans were delighted by “Lille,” an oldie from her debut solo, Sea Sew. An encore opened with an a cappella version of “Anahorish” accompanied by Broderick and her bassist before the performance concluded with the pair of “Barton” and the uplifting “A Sail.” —Sharlene Chiu

 

 

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Bear’s Den Leave Them Wanting More at The Bowery Ballroom

February 2nd, 2017

Bear’s Den – The Bowery Ballroom – February 1, 2017

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The British folk rock band Bear’s Den wrap gorgeous compositions with a searing banjo ribbon. It’s not a surprise that they supported fellow countrymen Mumford & Sons, as both share similar musical sensibilities. They’re also no strangers to road-tripping across America, having jumped in a Volkswagen Campervan to tour with Ben Howard, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Staves in 2014. In support of their sophomore release, Red Earth & Pouring Rain, the lads played to a sold-out Bowery Ballroom on a crisp Wednesday night. The balcony was overflowing with spectators, as folks could barely get on the floor. Although the evening featured songs from the recent release, special attention was paid to the faithful when the rarely sung and mostly back-cataloged “Sophie” was played acoustically as the audience came to a hauling silence.

Band leader Andrew Davie admitted it was likely their “second-oldest song,” and fans, new and old, were grateful. They erupted for “When You Break,” a favorite from Bear’s Den debut, Islands. A pause in the set carved time for guitarist Christof to make his traditional bottle-flip attempt. The suspense was thick as the water bottle flew in the air, and Davie bear-hugged his bandmate upon success before wailing the sea shanty “Auld Wives.” Christof strapped on the banjo for another favorite, “Above the Clouds of Pompeii,” as clapping hands and stomping feet revved up the band before they exited the stage.

There was little doubt they would not return for an encore, and they did with horn accompaniment for “Napoleon.” Davie, bassist Kevin Jones and Christof made their way into the crowd with only instruments on an acoustic rendition of “Gabriel.” Back onstage, Davie explained that throughout their tour they have been playing covers that were of local artists or about the city they were in. Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” checked off both those requirements. The evening wrapped up with the anthemic “Agape,” which was a fitting soundtrack to lead folks into the night and onto a new day. —Sharlene Chiu

 

 

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Phox Say Goodbye (For Now) at Music Hall of Williamsburg

January 30th, 2017

Phox – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 28, 2017

(Photo: Sharon Vanorny)

(Photo: Sharon Vanorny)

Amidst an indie-pop music landscape saturated with bands, the Wisconsin-based Phox spent half of a decade delighting fans with their whimsical melodies. Ascending a stage at a local festival, Boo Bash, the members played for the first time in May 2011 for what they thought would be a one-off performance. From there they became the darlings of Baraboo, Wisc., releasing the Confetti EP in 2013 and then their self-titled full-length, recorded in Justin Vernon’s studio the following year. Last fall the band announced that members had agreed to take a “hiatus” to allow for other creative pursuits, from film to graphic novels. For the occasion, the quintet embarked on their Goodbye (For Now) tour, which rolled into a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night.

Taking the stage to an opening composed by guitarist Matthew Holmen, the five-piece filed in with their phoxy lead singer, Monica Martin, clad in a shoulder-baring black top and high-waisted acid-washed jeans. She quickly began with the breezy “Leisure,” and keyboardist Matteo Roberts offered his vocals on the opening of “1936” before Martin took back the reins. The crowd participated in a chorus of “Wah oh oh” on “Evil,” which wouldn’t be the only time audience erupted. A cadence of claps was inevitable during fan-favorite “Slow Motion,” and many joined in, singing, “Everything I do, I do in slow motion.” The evening spotlighted Martin, who recently recorded the hypnotic “Equal Powers” with Jeremy Larson’s Violents.

A solo section showcased new material, including a ballad entitled “Make Believe,” and another song served as a cautionary tale about road trips with strangers. The little-sung “Laura” was hard to perform in the past Martin confessed because it was about the relationship with her mother. Saving the best for last, Phox covered the rhythmic chords of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” and Holman offered a blistering guitar solo on “Noble Heart” to punctuate the set’s end. The band would return to encore with another cover. This time it was Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody.” The bittersweet farewell ended with “Espeon” dedicated to Martin’s younger sister in the audience. And as it neared midnight, fans left dreaming of Phox’s swift return in the (hopefully) near future. Sharlene Chiu

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Kyle Morton Goes Solo at Rough Trade NYC on Friday Night

January 23rd, 2017

Kyle Morton – Rough Trade NYC – January 20, 2017

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The path from band member to solo career can often lead to a clear separation from the former, but Kyle Morton of Typhoon has managed to avoid that divide. Rather his solo album was birthed while he was working on the group’s next major release. It’s not surprising that Morton had qualms touring alone when there are 11 members in Typhoon. In an interview, Morton confessed his nervousness of going it alone: “I’m learning a lot more self-reliance, since I’m out here traveling by myself. I never really wanted to tour by myself because it seemed kind of daunting. But there’s something kind of nomadic and cool about it.” And so the frontman arrived solo onstage before a welcoming crowd at Rough Trade NYC on Friday evening.

Covering a large portion of his debut album, What Will Destroy You, Morton expertly mixed new material with Typhoon fan favorites throughout the set. His singing cadence, which resembled Conor Oberst’s on “Poor Bastard,” was especially punctuated by the morbid, melancholic lyrics. The crowd quickly joined in on the Typhoon track “Belly of the Cavern” by stomping along to provide percussion before echoing the refrain “I will be good though my body be broken” on “Common Sentiments.” Morton joked that one really only had to sing that bit to be part of the band, which endeared him to the audience even more. The mention that his wife, Wild Ones lead singer Danielle Sullivan, was in attendance served as a teaser for an inevitable duet.

Before she would take the stage, Morton sweetly dedicated “My Little Darlin’ Knows My Nature” to Sullivan. Shining a new light on the familiar “Artificial Light” and “Prosthetic Love,” the stripped-down Typhoon songs highlighted the painstaking lyrics that can get lost in the hefty band’s weight. When the words “last song” provoked grumbles, the songwriter discarded the pseudo exit of an encore to remain onstage, calling upon his wife to join him on a new Typhoon song. And if that weren’t enough to appease the crowd, the pair covered the John Prine and Iris Dement duet “In Spite of Ourselves” to cap off the night. —Sharlene Chiu

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An Eclectic Craig David Dance Party at Music Hall of Williamsburg

January 20th, 2017

Craig David Presents TS5 – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 19, 2017

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It was the summer of 2000 and I was gallivanting in Copenhagen as an exchange student. What I distinctly remember was the insane amount of the Europop that year, and a unique voice, Craig David’s, rang out amongst those omnipresent groups. His blend of R&B mixed with dubstep anchored his first album, Born to Do It. He never fully translated in America to my dismay, but David sold out the Brooklyn debut of his TS5 party at Rough Trade NYC last October. TS5 began as a house party in his penthouse in Miami, Tower Suite 5, and it’s no surprise that it has blown up into a hot ticket. His beginnings on the decks to his top-charting songs set up David as the perfect hybrid of MC and singer.

Commanding a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg last night, David opened with oldies “Rewind” and “Fill Me In.” His hybrid skills were on full display as he seamlessly moved from his ballad “Walking Away” to TLC’s “No Scrubs.” David continued, proclaiming, “We getting rotten,” before dropping a series of old school anthems ranging from House of Pain’s “Jump Around” to Chaka Demus & Pliers “Murder She Wrote.” He moved everyone in the packed venue through decades of popular music daring to follow Destiny Child’s “Say My Name” with Ginuwine’s “Pony.”

The latter end of the set produced tracks largely from David’s latest release, Following My Intuition, including the Dave Tozer–produced “Warm It Up,” first single “One More Time,” and the Blonde collaboration, “Nothing Like This.” David expressed his gratitude to fans who have followed him for 16 years, rolling it back one more time for “7 days” before concluding the evening with a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” and his viral hit “Fill Me In/Where Are Ü Now,” a mashup of his classic blended with Diplo and Skrillex’s knotted beats. —Sharlene Chiu

 

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Bon Iver Close Out Epic New York Run at Music Hall of Williamsburg

December 15th, 2016

Bon Iver – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 14, 2016

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During a cold winter in a Wisconsin cabin, the first Bon Iver album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was written out of heartbreak—and the indie folklore remains forever in perpetuity. Although raved about in music critics’ circles, the band wasn’t well-known until winning the Best New Artist Grammy in 2012 for the self-titled sophomore effort. Even then, the public was uncertain who was in the band with tweets throughout the telecast wondering exactly who Bonnie Bear was. After a three-year hiatus, Bon Iver returned to headline the inaugural Eaux Claires Music Festival in frontman Justin Vernon’s hometown. This fall, the latest release, 22, A Million, welcomed a new era in the band’s evolution, moving away from the melancholic, acoustic crooning to heavily Auto-Tuned vocals against grainy synths leaving little resemblance to that emotionally cracked man in the cabin.

Over the past two weeks, the once unknown folk band has played sold-out shows across the New York City area from Hammerstein Ballroom and Capitol Theatre to Pioneer Works and Kings Theatre. The residency ended last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, blocks away from an in-store the band played almost a decade ago at the long-shuttered Sound Fix Records. The stage was set with gear trunks decorated with Eric Timothy Carlson’s artwork from the recent album and served as tables for laptops and synths.

Carlson’s graphics were projected throughout the entire set, offering a strange mix of numerology and lyrics. The opener, “22 (OVER S∞∞N),” echoed a familiar voice that sounded like Merrill Garbus (aka Tune-Yards), but Vernon’s foray into electronics has masked his vocal coherency. The frontman’s earlier work with the band Poliça can be heard in his delivery of “10 d E A T h b R E a s T,” where distorted percussions give way to shredding guitars. Midway through the show, Vernon confessed that it was great to be back “playing one of our favorite rooms.” In a charming moment, the sextet of backing horns, known lovingly as “Sad Sax of Shit,” accompanied the band on “8 (circle).” The evening was largely dedicated to the newer material, but Vernon offered a morsel of the past with an encore that included “Creature Fear.” —Sharlene Chiu

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Metric Play Intimate Hometown Show at Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 30th, 2016

Metric – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 29, 2016

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Before the 21st century, a musical collective out of Toronto formed by the name of Broken Social Scene and spawned such acts as Feist, Stars and Metric. The environment was a supportive one, nurturing a space where each band could thrive. The founding duo of Metric, Emily Haines and James Shaw, moved to New York City in the late ’90s and recorded early demos that would provide material for their first studio album. Fast-forward a decade and some change, the indie-rock band released a sixth studio album, Pagans in Vegas, last fall. And last night they returned to Brooklyn for a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg show as part of the Steve Madden Music series.

Fashioning a black cap, the lead singer took center stage kicking off the evening with a rousing rendition of “Speed the Collapse,” followed by the up-tempo “Youth Without Youth” as guitarist Ward added Auto-Tuned choruses. Haines had a few wardrobe changes, with the most notable being a luminescent cape that glowed against the black lights. (Added kudos to the lighting tech for her mastery of the syncopation of pulsating white shocks to several songs.) For crowd favorite “Dead Disco,” Haines turned up the showmanship, thrusting her fist and engaging the crowd from right to left. Bassist Joshua Winstead drove in the throbbing introduction to “Front Row,” as Haines took over with her melodic chants of “Burned out stars they shine so bright.”

The frontwoman noted that it was a hometown show for the band and great to “rekindle memories of North 6th.” A lot has changed since Haines and Ward moved here and shared a Williamsburg loft with soon-to-be members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars and TV on the Radio. As the singer stripped down “Combat Baby” to a shortened a cappella interlude, I couldn’t help but relate the lyrics to a recent presidential candidate’s resilience. Following up that with “Gold Guns Girls” seemed to emphasize the formation further with Haines donning a guitar to jam with Winstead and Shaw, who closed out the song with an electrifying solo. The evening came to a close with singer and guitarist paired for a stripped-down “Gimme Sympathy,” before Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key rejoined the band for the finale, “Breathing Underwater.” —Sharlene Chiu

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Foals Hold Court Uptown at United Palace on Friday Night

November 7th, 2016

Foals – United Palace – November 4, 2016

Foals - United Palace - November 4, 2016<

Amongst a wave of British alternative bands that have made it in the States, Foals have broken out of a traditional narrative. PopMatters described the group’s transformation best: “Ten years ago, Foals could have likely been classified as an indie-rock group, but now they’re an archetypal case of indies going mainstream. The hip haircuts and clean guitar leads belie the fundamental radio-rock aesthetic in which Foals purvey.” Touring in support of their recent release, What Went Down, the lads headed way uptown to the United Palace to unleash on a packed house on Friday night.

In the ornate venue, strobe lights marked the band’s entrance as they jammed through an opening prelude. Frontman Yannis Philippakis provided a hearty greeting before delivering the guttural “Snake Oil,” which was accompanied by drummer Jack Bevan’s heavy beats. The first wave of collective handclaps began with “Olympic Airways,” but the cadence of striking hands continued throughout the evening, with very few attendees remaining in their seats. The anthemic call of crowd favorite “My Number” had the audience chanting, “You don’t have my number,” while the hypnotic “Give It All” reset the room.

An array of pink, blue and streaming bright white lights bathed the United Palace’s carved walls full of exotic places and creatures. Rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith quickly slayed the opening chords of “Mountain at My Gates,” bringing everyone back to some heavy rock. The performance ebbed and flowed as the melodic opening of a crashing wave gave way to the lull of “Spanish Sahara.” Philippakis, in true form, hurled into the first few rows for the encore, “What Went Down,” his faithful fans holding him up as if he were walking over them. He and Foals truly ruled over the palace on Friday night. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Pip Cowley | pipcowleyshoots.com

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Local Natives Make a Triumphant Return to Terminal 5

October 26th, 2016

Local Natives – Terminal 5 – October 25, 2016

Local Natives – Terminal 5 – October 25, 2016

(Local Natives play Terminal 5 again tonight.)

It’s been close to seven years since Gorilla Manor stamped Local Natives’ name into the indie-rock stratosphere with comparisons to Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire. Earlier this fall, they returned with their third studio full-length, Sunlit Youth. And as with previous albums, the songwriting was honed by the original trio of guitarist Taylor Rice, guitarist-keyboardist Kelcey Ayer and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Hahn, but drummer Matt Frazier and bassist Nik Ewing also brought forward ideas. What formed was the cohesive record they featured at their show on Tuesday, the first of two nights at Terminal 5.

Rice, rocking a man bun, crooned on “Past Lives”—off the band’s latest—and the crowd really erupted for old fave “Wide Eyes,” the core trio’s vocals harmonizing in unison. Noting how long it had been since they’d been back in New York City, the band reminisced about their first local show at Pianos in 2009. Fans were starved for the West Coasters and Local Natives delivered, including past gem “Airplanes” as the room chanted the telling lyrics “I want you back.” Adding to the treasure trove, they dusted off “Camera Talk,” about which Rice confessed they “haven’t played in years.”

Although Nina Persson (the Cardigans) recorded “Dark Days” with the quintet, opener Charlotte Day Wilson happily filled in for her. Ayer and Rice remained alone onstage each haloed by a spotlight as they traded verses on the heartbreaking “Columbia.” With two weeks until Election Day, Rice offered hope in the midst of the chaos and encouraged attendees to vote, a perfect setup for “Fountain of Youth” and the uproarious cheers for the lyrics “I have waited so long, Mrs. President.” The evening concluded with the unraveling of Rice’s hair and a final descent into the crowd for “Sun Hands.” —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Mina J

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Explosions in the Sky Electrify Terminal 5

September 23rd, 2016

Explosions in the Sky – Terminal 5 – September 22, 2016

Explosions in the Sky – Terminal 5 – September 22, 2016
Texas band Explosions in the Sky are masters of for providing the soundtrack for pivotal moments in film and television. They are most commonly associated with Friday Night Lights, both the film and the television series, but their music also has graced documentaries, video game promos and a slew of major motion pictures. With their seventh studio album, The Wilderness, a departure from scoring TV and film has afforded the music to sit on its own without football victories or dramatic human narratives to cast scenes. The songs remain empty vessels for listeners to create memories rather than fabricated ones from celluloid. For this instrumental band, the live orchestrations truly take flight in any venue, but it was especially vibrant last night at a sold-out Terminal 5.

What could be described as one of their mellower songs, the title track from their latest opened the evening against an intro of melodic keys. The stage setup was sandwiched between floodlights toward the back and strobe lights in the front, which swayed throughout the performance. Blue streams of lights bathed the quintet as the percolating sound of effects of “The Ecstatics” demonstrated an almost waterfall-like feeling, and laser-like red beams replicated acid rain for “Greet Death.” The performance teetered between harmony and chaos, where lighting was the sixth man of the band. Pulsating floor lights exclaimed the crescendo that welcomed “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept,” and fittingly a prism wall of light highlighted “Colors in Space.” The group saved the best for last offering crowd favorite “Your Hand in Mine” followed by the noisy “Disintegration Anxiety,” before ending with “The Only Moment We Were Alone,” as the shredding of guitars came to an abrupt halt timed perfectly to a cloak of darkness. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Brian C. Reilly | www.briancreilly.com

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Rocky Votolato Celebrates Anniversary at Mercury Lounge on Friday

September 19th, 2016

Rocky Votolato – Mercury Lounge – September 16, 2016

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Perhaps unknown to some, Rocky Votolato has been making music for more than 15 years. He honed his craft in the Pacific Northwest during an era when punk and indie-folk artists collided in a musical hotbed. He found a delicate balance between both, collaborating with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie and Pedro the Lion. His seminal album, Makers, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and fittingly the singer embarked on a tour to perform it in its entirety. Friday night at Mercury Lounge, Votolato’s faithful fans were quickly treated to longtime favorite “Portland Is Leaving” as the flood of nostalgia encased the room.

It’s a different show when everyone comes for an artist who’s left an indelible mark on their memories. A perfect example of this lasting impression was the dedication of “White Daisy Passing” to Tony, a fan who had shared the story of how the song accompanied him while he had been traveling years ago after a loved one had passed. Votolato joked that he wasn’t in the music business for fame or riches. He has neither, but in seriousness, the value was the family and community he has built with his songs.

Formerly a “one-man wolf pack,” Votolato is joined by guitarist and lap-steel player Matt Batey, a drummer and a bassist for this celebratory tour. The normally intimate tracks sounded bigger thanks to the musical additions—and even a sampled drum effect was afforded for “Where We Left Off.” Oh, how times have changed! Votolato remarked on how 10 years ago he had flown to New York City upon Makers’ release to open for Nada Surf at Mercury Lounge. He also added that the title track was written here and was inspired by an Allen Ginsberg poem. After covering the full album, the Left Coaster added older material from Suicide Medicine, plus “Boxcutter,” off his latest, Hospital Handshakes. The cozy venue offered little escape for Votolato, who encored with a pair of songs, including “Montana,” leaving no fan unsatisfied. —Sharlene Chiu

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Jenny Lewis Celebrates a Tenth Anniversary in Style

September 15th, 2016

Jenny Lewis – Capitol Theatre – September 14, 2016

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More than a decade ago in San Francisco, I patiently perched in a stairwell awaiting the live debut of Ms. Jenny Lewis’s initial solo effort, Rabbit Fur Coat. Sure I grew up watching Troop Beverly Hills, but what fascinated me was how she seamlessly dipped in and out of formidable bands like Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes and the Postal Service. Lewis always has been a thoughtful songwriter and it especially showed in her time with Rilo Kiley, however this next step pushed the singer into a career all her own. She and her backup singers, the Watson Twins, were late due to traffic but well worth the wait as they glided down the aisle holding candles to approach the stage—it was an unforgettable show in an intimate 250-seat venue. When word got out that the trio would take out the record for a 10th-anniversary spin, I had to be there. Previously selling out two Beacon Theatre shows last winter, Lewis returned with the twins to play Capitol Theatre last night.

The trio, donning the dresses from the album cover, entered stage right singing in harmony to open with “Run Devil Run,” candles in their hands just as they had years prior. The room was flooded with nostalgia as they played Rabbit Fur Coat in its entirety with a full band. Gems included lap-steel accompaniment on “Happy” and Lewis returning post-wardrobe change to croon the title track in a black embroidered jumpsuit complete with fringe. Although missing the backing vocals of M. Ward and Ben Gibbard, “Handle with Care” fleshed out the classic cover with additional guitar. The petite singer added a heavy dose of electric organ on “Born Secular” to fill the room, but it was her soaring vocals that sent chills to fans’ hearts.

After a brief intermission, Lewis emerged to play largely from her latest album, The Voyager. A gentleman politely asked if it was OK to stand for “Just One of the Guys” and was soon joined by another man. The catalog was broken by a cover of the Shirelles“I Met Him on a Sunday,” performed a cappella by the trio. But the real treat was a deep dive into the Rilo Kiley days for the soul-infused “I Never,” which Lewis dedicated to the Cap’s most frequent artist, Phil Lesh. The oldie was paired amongst her most recent work with New York City band NAF (Nice as Fuck), on “Door.” Dueling guitar solos concluded the evening on the crowd pleasing “She’s Not Me,” and there was no doubt that 10 years later, the storied album holds up. —Sharlene Chiu

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Passenger Previews New Material with Intimate Performance at Roulette

August 5th, 2016

Passenger – Roulette – August 4, 2016

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Hailing from the Blighty seaside town of Brighton, Mike Rosenberg was born to be a singer-songwriter. Not finishing school, he spent a few years busking in England and Australia. And although his band broke up seven years ago, he continues to perform under the name Passenger. Vividly heartbreaking lyrics anchored his breakout song, “Let Her Go,” catapulting him into worldwide fame in 2012. For his upcoming fall release, Young as the Morning Old as the Sea, the Brit traveled to New Zealand to record in Neil Finn’s studio. Rosenberg was inspired by the vast landscape—and Iceland—which inspired tales of relationships and passing time. To preview his latest material, Rosenberg chose to play select intimate venues ahead of the release, and on Thursday evening at Roulette in Brooklyn, the storyteller graced a sold-out crowd. He mentioned that when his career began, he wanted to play a big venue, but now it was a treat to play a smaller one and that it was refreshing to return to a setting where people weren’t just there to hear that one hit.

Fans were feverish from the moment Rosenberg stepped onstage, opening with two from his forthcoming album, “The Long Road” and the title track. The latter elicited cheers for the ad-libbed lyric “I wanna feel a New York winter.” Throughout the performance, the audience was rapt in awe with just the creaking of the floorboards and an occasional cough competing with Rosenberg’s lilting voice. A ringing cell phone was quickly chided, and folks outside the hall echoing into the venue were greeted with a rousing “SHUT UP!” The former busker thankfully declared, “You’ve got my back.” Indeed they did. Infusing another New York City reference, he told the story of his struggle to quit smoking and encountering a man with lung cancer, which inspired “Riding to New York.”

Halfway into the set, participation was brimming as people joined in to sing “I Hate,” which delighted Rosenberg. Sadly, not everyone recognized his sly interlude of the Game of Thrones theme before he barreled into the breakout single, “Let Her Go.” To woo the singer back for an encore, fans erupted with the chorus from “Scare Away the Dark.” He did return to treat his most loyal followers with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” and fan favorite “Holes.” Needless to say, when Passenger returns in the spring to play the Beacon Theatre, a good number of last night’s audience members will be in attendance. —Sharlene Chiu

(Passenger plays the Beacon Theatre on 3/11.)

 

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Mayer Hawthorne Woos Terminal 5 on Friday Night

June 27th, 2016

Mayer Hawthrone – Terminal 5 – June 24, 2016

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Ladies, you have been warned: The smooth stylings of one Mayer Hawthorne will undoubtedly enamor you. The swoon-worthy crooner’s rise to heartthrob status came not as a member of a boy band, but as a DJ in the clubs of Detroit and Los Angeles. Despite no vocal training, fellow producer—and head of Stones Throw RecordsPeanut Butter Wolf insisted Hawthorne cut an album after hearing tracks he had produced for sampling purposes. The reluctant singer only conceded when the request for his first single to be pressed as a heart-shaped record was fulfilled. With the spring release of Man About Town, Hawthorne returned following a three-year break between studio albums.

Taking a place on a stool with his back to the crowd sipping one could only guess was “Henny & Gingerale,” the suave entertainer lifted his falsetto to open Friday evening’s show at Terminal 5 with “Breakfast in Bed.” Hawthorne quickly got down to business, explaining that with four albums, he had a lot of songs to sing so he would ease up on the banter. Hawthorne broke from his feverish song output to tell a story about hitting the beach in Malibu, Calif., which slyly gave way to sirens and a perfect intro to “Crime.” An instrumental interlude provided a moment for a wardrobe change, as Hawthorne returned donning his signature glasses and a gold blazer with matching oxfords.

After a rendition of “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’,” there was a great desire for “soul Mayer,” which the singer happily obliged, asking his band to kick it up to “James Brown–jumpsuit speed.” What proceeded was a Motown-inspired trifecta of “You Called Me,” “Hooked” and “The Ills.” In another exceptional moment near the set’s end, a cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” was cleverly mashed-up with “The Walk” and then into another cover, Brenton Wood’s “Gimme Little Sign.” It’s easy to hear the DJ’s craft on the set. For his encore, the disco ball was lit to set the appropriate scenery for “Cosmic Love,” and another outfit was revealed to the delight of female admirers. This time an open checker satin button-down was accessorized with a gold chain. Hawthorne capped off the night with a final cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” that had revelers happily flooding out into Hell’s Kitchen. —Sharlene Chiu

 

 

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Mitski Brings New Music to The Bowery Ballroom

June 21st, 2016

Mitski – The Bowery Ballroom – June 20, 2016

Mitski – The Bowery Ballroom – June 20, 2016
An unlikely girl graces the cover of this month’s Brooklyn Magazine. Her name is Mitski Miyawaki and the said publication has touted her as the next big thing to take over the music world. She’s garnered a lot of fans in the press, including NPR—which offered Mitski their coveted headline slot at this year’s SXSW showcase—and NME. The singer has captured critics’ hearts with not only her deft guitar prowess but also her thoughtful, crisp lyrics. Although a nomad of sorts (she’s lived in Japan, the Republic of Congo, Turkey and China), the world traveler has called New York City home since graduating from SUNY Purchase. Fresh off the release of her fourth studio album, Puberty 2, Mitski took the stage at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom last night, donning a business-casual ensemble, consisting of a knit top and pencil skirt. She later referred to her outfit as her best attempt at a Cruel Intentions look.

Mitski blended new stuff with old pieces from her breakout album, Bury Me at Makeout Creek. Beginning with a crowd favorite, “Townie,” she quickly had the room in the palm of her hand as she introduced the newer “Thursday Girl.” The latter had her sounding a bit like an angelic Florence Welch with a guttural chorus of “Tell me no, tell me no” against drum machine–produced beats. Mitski dropped a gem with a cover of Calvin Harris’s “How Deep Is Your Love,” which she coyly stated was the only song she would sing written by a guy who makes a ton of money.

Everyone in the room sang along and swayed to single “Your Best American Girl” as the crescendoing chorus elicited the front row to head bang to the waves of riffs. With a trio of fierce screams of “Cry,” the set was punctuated with the appropriate finale song, “Fireworks.” Mitski returned solo to encore with a pair, “A Burning Hill” and “Last Words of a Shooting Star.” It’s rare when The Bowery Ballroom becomes so quiet and every person is rapt in awe. Last night was one of those rare evenings—on the summer solstice no less and during a Strawberry Moon. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Julia Berke | juliaberkephoto.com