Tag Archives: SummerStage

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Gov’t Mule and Chris Robinson Brotherhood Come to SummerStage

May 16th, 2017

Local guitar hero Warren Haynes (vocals and guitar) doesn’t know how to sit still. He’s seemingly always performing, recording, touring or sitting in with someone else. And with a new Gov’t Mule album, the politically charged Revolution Come … Revolution Go, recorded last year on Election Day, due to arrive in just a few weeks, one of the hardest working men in show business is back out on the road with comrades in bluesy Southern-rock jam-band arms Matt Abts (drums and vocals), Danny Louis (keys and vocals) and Jorgen Carlsson (bass). Tomorrow night at SummerStage in Central Park, Gov’t Mule (above, performing “Blind Man in the Dark” at Lockn’) arrive with the like-minded Chris Robinson Brotherhood—the former Black Crowes frontman (vocals and guitar) alongside Neal Casal (guitar and vocals), Adam MacDougall (keys and vocals), Tony Leone (drums) and Jeff Hill (bass). The CRB’s most recent release, Betty’s Self-Rising Southern Blends, Vol. 3 (stream it below), out in March, is filled with live soundboard mixes by famed Grateful Dead audio engineer Betty Cantor-Jackson, terrifically capturing the band live, which just so happens to be the best way to experience Gov’t Mule and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. So don’t miss them live tomorrow night at SummerStage.

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Cold War Kids – Rough Trade NYC – April 10, 2017

April 11th, 2017

Cold War Kids - Rough Trade NYC - April 10, 2017
(Cold War Kids open for Young the Giant at SummerStage on 9/13.)

Photos courtesy of Annie Kane | anniekane.work

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Lucius – SummerStage – September 23, 2016

September 26th, 2016

Lucius - SummerStage - September 23, 2016

Photos courtesy of Nick Delisi | www.nickdelisi.com

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Five Questions with Holly Laessig of Lucius

September 21st, 2016

Lucius return to New York City to play SummerStage in Central Park on Friday night, and Holly Laessig, one half of the band’s lead-vocals tandem, rang up The House List, from Oklahoma where she and Jess Wolfe were rehearsing for singing background for Roger Waters at Desert Trip, to answer Five Questions.

Plenty of musicians change their sound from album to album. Was that a clear intention in moving from the folkier Wildewoman to the poppier Good Grief? Or was that just how your sound evolved? It’s funny. People comment on how different the two are. But Wildewoman was recorded over a few years, and we were in no rush at the beginning because we didn’t have anything to be rushing for—we were just starting out. And we took our time and made it right. We came out with Wildewoman and we had kind of put the band together throughout and after making that record. So when we toured on it, things started to change, and the sound started to change. And the show got a lot more energetic, and the audience was reacting a lot more to the show than the record. People commented a lot how the live show and the record sounded so different, and that the live shows were so much more energetic. I think by the time we got to the end of that cycle, it was where Good Grief was picking up naturally, but from just listening from a record standpoint, there does seem to be a bigger difference than it felt like.

How was recording Good Grief different than recording Wildewoman? We took a different approach to it. We got off the road—we had been touring for, like, a year-and-a-half straight. And we were exhausted, and we decided to go to L.A. to kind of decompress and start writing. So Jess and I took a few months to write, just the two of us. And we would send the guys rough demos and then they would do their own versions of the same song—and kind of build arrangements around them. So when we went into the studio, we had at least two versions of everything. And we worked with Shawn Everett—he did the Alabama Shakes record with Blake Mills—he’s like this crazy alien angel person [laughing]. He’s one of our really closest friends, and he’s always got these wild ideas. So we were really excited to get into the studio with him. He had an idea to make communication easier with five very strong personalities in the studio. To kind of smooth things over and to get everyone’s voice heard, he thought it would be helpful to come up with a bunch of reference tracks: “For each track that we’re gonna work on, think of a song that you think could influence this.” So it could be “I like the sound of the tone on this Rolling Stones track.” Or “I like the way these vocals were recorded on this West African tune.” And we would all pick one or two songs and put ’em in a box, and he would pick them out one by one—it was all anonymous. And we would listen to everything, like 10 to 15 songs, and write down on a dry erase board everything we like about each one. It could be very specific, as far as a recording technique, or it could be more vague, like a feeling. And once we had this dry erase board of notes, we would then start working on the song. So it was a really interesting way of going about it, and I think we got a lot of good stuff we would’ve normally not even considered.

How did your appearance on Roadies come about? And any chance you’ll be adding “Willin’” to your set list? I mean, I don’t think we could top singing that with Jackson Browne, so probably not. Fair. Rafe Spall, who is one of the actors on Roadies—so the story goes: Rafe’s friend Rafe, which is hilarious to me. The first Rafe I ever met, and I met two of them in one day. His friend recommended our music to him, and he was playing it one day on set. And Cameron was like, “Who’s this?” And Rafe said, “This band Lucius.” And he said, “Well, let’s get ’em in here. See if they want to do an episode.” So we met him, and he’s the nicest guy ever. And we said, “Yeah, absolutely, we’d love to do this.” It was a really cool experience. It was really inspiring to see Cameron Crowe as a director and a leader. Everybody who was there, from the actors to the makeup people to the crew people to catering—everybody—was like, “Yeah, we work really hard, sometimes we work late hours, but we’re happy to do it because Cameron’s the man.” And he really was. We had some lines, and I was incredibly nervous about it because it’s not what we do normally. So there was this one line, and I was like, “This isn’t how I’d normally phrase this.” And I was trying to get my head inside it so I could say it the right way. And I asked him, and he said, “Let’s go over it.” And he dropped everything and took me aside, and he would’ve gone over this, like, one line with me for as long as I wanted—very, very patient. It was great, and we got to sing with Jackson Browne, and Jim James was on the set. It was cool.

For some bands, live shows are like a theater piece in that the set doesn’t change much, but the performers are aware of the subtle nuances each night. And for others, every night’s show is different than the one before. Where do you land on that spectrum? Like as far as each night being different? Yeah, I mean, a band like U2, they play pretty much the same set most nights, but it’s not the same show obviously. But someone like Bruce Springsteen or Pearl Jam, they change their set every night. I guess for each leg of a tour, we tend to stick generally to the same set. Some songs we change a little bit, but it’s nice once you get into a groove to stick with it, the transitions go more easily. But every show’s different regardless, especially because of the audience—not to put it all on the audience—but the vibe and the venue and the city, everything can really make a break a show for the performer. If your audience is really giving back to you, and you’re bouncing off of that, sometimes we have funny banter or things can change, or we’ll decide let’s do this song instead because they’re liking the up-tempo ones. So occasionally, it’s just, like, fly by the seat of your pants. But it’s definitely nice to get into a groove.

What new music have you been listening to? We’ve been listening to the new Angel Olsen record a lot. It only came out a couple weeks ago, I think. We’re excited to be playing with Big Thief in Central Park. And I’m stoked to see them ’cause I love that record. I love Alabama Shakes. We went to see that show at the Greek, and it was so good. That’s a good one to groove to, for sure. Was that with Kurt Vile? Yeah, and I love that record too. And Kurt Vile’s on the bill for One Big Holiday in February. Oh, yeah. That’s gonna be so fun! —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Big Thief Celebrate Debut Album’s Release at Mercury Lounge

June 6th, 2016

Big Thief – Mercury Lounge – June 5, 2016

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Big Thief, the formidable foursome helmed by Adrianne Lenker, celebrated the release of their cleverly titled debut album, Masterpiece, with a sold-out show at Mercury Lounge last night. After welcoming the crowd and expressing genuine gratitude, Lenker announced, “This is a great moment to be in,” and then the band proceeded to perform the new LP in its entirety, from start to finish. Album-opener “Little Arrow,” an intimate, lo-fi number on the record, focused the audience’s attention, drawing everyone closer as Lenker’s emotive voice lingered in the song’s confessional, stark delivery. The palpable energy that was conjured helped to prime the crowd for release as Big Thief switched gears for the title track, the drums and bass kicking in, and the band settling into a catchy, upbeat groove.

Big Thief performed fiercely, most notably on songs like “Real Love,” featuring Lenker’s screeching guitar solo, and “Interstate,” which she peppered with delicate shrieks during the chorus. The band’s decision to perform their album from start to finish worked exceptionally well, for Masterpiece is a well-paced, cohesive vision—the kind of album that doesn’t warrant skipping from song to song. The material feels both personal and universal in tales of love and memories and dotted with details and evocative images that range from everyday to fantastical. “If you liked what you heard tonight, the record is exactly this,” laughingly commented Lenker at the conclusion of “Parallels,” the final song on the record. “Play the album again!” shouted someone. It might’ve been a joke, but no one in attendance would have objected to another spin of Big Thief’s Masterpiece. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK

(Big Thief open for Lucius at SummerStage on 9/23.)

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Rudimental – SummerStage – May18, 2016

May 19th, 2016

Rudimental - SummerStage - May18, 2016


Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man Provide a Glimpse of Summer

May 17th, 2016

Cage the Elephant/Portugal. The Man – SummerStage – May 16, 2016

Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Those waking up on Monday morning in the NYC area probably had a tough time believing that summer was almost here. With temperatures in the unseasonably low 40s, seeing music outdoors wasn’t an obvious activity for later that evening. But when showtime rolled around, the wind had died down, and Central Park’s SummerStage was packed with people who were more than comfortable as they kicked off the summer-concert season with plenty of temperature-raising rock and roll from the stage.

As far as double bills go, the pairing of Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man was relatively inspired. In fact, at times the two sets seemed to echo each other, as if the bands were two sides of the same sheet of paper, each providing answers to the questions posed by the other. Portugal. The Man got things rolling: In contrast to the last time they performed at SummerStage, with lasers and clouds of smoke, they played mostly in daylight, but their set was anything but sunshine. Delving deep into a set list built largely from their Evil Friends and In the Mountain in the Cloud albums, frontman John Gourley and the band found new life in the tour-tested material, adding pockets of serrated guitar to songs like “Holy Roller (Hallelujah)” and extraterrestrial synth to “Head Is a Flame (Cool with It).” The crowd sang along and everyone found their mid-July dancing form, truly enjoying the band’s first NYC appearance in more than a year and a half. A new song was synth-psych Motown, Gourley singing about “coming in hot like it’s summer in the city we’re living in.” The sound dialed in about halfway through their hour-long set, building to a crescendo that peaked as the sun set with “All Your Light,” a fireworks display that opened into four distinct well-choreographed jams of varying intensity that eventually returned to a completely redesigned final verse leading to a blistering take on the outro riff from the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”

With the sun fully set, Cage the Elephant began to build the energy even higher. Their opening number, “Cry Baby,” was like a distorted-guitar so-heavy Beatles, lead singer Matthew Shultz bounding and thrashing across the stage. By the second song, “In One Ear,” the audience was ready to clap, sing and dance along as the this-is-a-rock-show lights were in full bloom of the purple, yellow, reds and blues of Portugal. The Man’s set closer. At some point, someone in the crowd threw a phone onstage and got a unique-vantage photo, the summer’s-almost-here party vibe making its annual pilgrimage into the hearts and minds of young rockers everywhere. From there, the show was a dark and smoky dance party, shades of solstice sunshine in “Trouble” with its central core of “ooowoowoo.” Instead of singing about “evil friends,” Shultz warned that there “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” The sold-out audience basked in the reds and blues and white strobe lights as the band worked through material off Tell Me I’m Pretty and Melophobia, with occasional rock-out explosions to match the mood. When the show finally concluded and the lights came back on, it was merely mid-spring again, but as the intermingling music of Cage. The Man still buzzed in the Central Park air, it was clear that summer is almost here.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

(Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man play SummerStage again tonight.)

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Summer’s Coming: Four Big Shows Next Week in New York City

May 13th, 2016

Summer doesn’t actually arrive for another five weeks or so, but the summer-music season gets kicked off next week in a very big way.

Bowling Green, Ky., quartet Cage the Elephant’s fourth studio album, Tell Me I’m Pretty (stream it below), produced by Dan Auerbach, came out last December, impressing Exclaim!: “If your sister were Anita Miller from Almost Famous, she might tell you to listen to Tell Me I’m Pretty with a candle burning. Matthew Shultz has hit the mark lyrically and vocally here, inviting listeners into the emotionally charged and honest world that Cage the Elephant inhabit. Although we still hear his lo-fi, distorted vocals throughout the record, many moments are left confidently unadorned and clear.” Known for their fiery live performances, Cage the Elephant play SummerStage, alongside Portugal. The Man and Broncho, on Monday and Tuesday.


From the land of Britpop, in Manchester, England, the 1975 (above, performing “Love Me” earlier this year on Saturday Night Live) have risen up as a band with global appeal. Their second LP, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It (stream it below), arrived in February, topping the charts here and across the Atlantic. “When a band conquers the charts with a fun but inoffensive debut album, you don’t expect them to return with a 17-track follow-up that tempers pop tunes with swampy post-rock instrumentals and references mental health, religion, addiction, loneliness and fame. But the 1975, whose self-titled debut hit number one in 2013, aren’t concerned with playing it safe,” raves NME. They bring their arena-ready rock to Barclays Center on Tuesday night. Wolf Alice and the Japanese House open the show.


Another English band to hit No. 1, Rudimental, the London four-piece, have been making shake-it-don’t-break-it electronic music for just a few years, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming wildly popular. Their sophomore studio album, We the Generation (stream it below), recorded in Jamaica, came out last fall. The Evening Standard noted its “positive vibes” and “their sunny reworking of dingy old drum and bass.” And on Wednesday at SummerStage, they kick off a short tour with the like-minded North London electronic duo Gorgon City. Brooklyn duo Walker & Royce open the show.

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Chvrches – SummerStage – September 29, 2015

September 30th, 2015

Chvrches - SummerStage - September 29, 2015

Photos courtesy of Mina K

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Dawes and First Aid Kit – SummerStage – July 27, 2015

July 28th, 2015

Dawes - SummerStage - July 27, 2015

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Dawes and First Aid Kit Play SummerStage on Monday Night

July 24th, 2015

Since forming in Southern California six years ago, the guys in Dawes—Taylor Goldsmith (vocals and guitar), Wylie Gelber (bass), Griffin Goldsmith (drums) and Tay Strathairn (keys)—have won over fans across the land with their high-energy live shows and four albums—including this year’s All Your Favorite Bands (stream it below), which Rolling Stone called “their best LP” and American Songwriter labeled “an inspired record full of space, swagger and warm, analog glow”—filled with tightly written songs, quality harmonies and some good old-fashioned guitar love. But one of the most interesting things about Dawes (above, doing “Things Happen” on Late Show with David Letterman) is the vast array of bands and musicians with whom they’ve been associated. They’ve been compared to the Band, for their lyrics, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, for their harmonies. They’ve crisscrossed the country and teamed up with their musical brothers-in-arms, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit. And in the band’s infancy, they took part in jam sessions at Jonathan Wilson’s house with the likes of Chris Robinson, Benmont Tench and Conor Oberst. But after finding success, Dawes went on to back some of the biggest names in rock royalty, Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne and John Fogerty.

Sisters Johanna Söderberg (vocals and synth) and Klara Söderberg (vocals and guitar) launched their harmonies-laden acoustic-folk band, First Aid Kit, eight years ago in Sweden, earning comparisons to Fleet Foxes and Joanna Newsom in the process. Now rounded out by Melvin Duffy (pedal-steel guitar) and Scott Simpson (drums), First Aid Kit (below, performing “Stay Gold” on Conan) put out their third studio album, Stay Gold (stream it below), which the New Yorker calls their “most mature and opulent work to date,” in 2014. They also provided backing vocals on Conor Oberst’s sixth solo album, Upside Down Mountain, last year, while Dawes backed Oberst when he performed the new material live. And now Dawes and First Aid Kit team up as a terrific double bill to play SummerStage in Central Park on Monday night.

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Guster – SummerStage – July 20, 2015

July 21st, 2015

Guster - SummerStage - July 20, 2015

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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The Kooks Sound Flawless at SummerStage in Central Park

June 25th, 2015

The Kooks – SummerStage – June 24, 2015

The Kooks – SummerStage – June 24, 2015
Shows at SummerStage always feel special thanks to the canopy of Central Park and its barely there view of Manhattan’s tallest buildings—but that feeling doubles or even triples when a band like the Kooks plays there. The view even seemed to humble the British pop rockers. “We’re going to play an old song now, we hope you remember it,” said lead singer Luke Pritchard before beginning “She Moves in Her Own Way.” The statement was as absurd as that song is ubiquitous: It’s hard to imagine anyone remotely aware of music not knowing that track, and if they don’t they were probably literally born yesterday.

The Kooks are no strangers to ubiquity. The rest of their set sounded like a compilation of the Top 50 Brit rock songs of the past decade, and in many ways it was. They weren’t shy about dishing out their hits early, either. “Moves” came 15 minutes in, and all the doo-doo-doos of their simplest and perhaps most ubiquitous track, “Always Where I Need to Be,” were sung in the first half hour. The Kooks didn’t sacrifice anything about what made them popular, either. Songs like “Bad Habit” and “Down” sounded right at home alongside the ones from their decade-old debut.

Everything about the Kooks is polished. The years of playing arena shows have implanted some seriously impressive muscle memory in them. Each band member moved confidently around the spacious confines of SummerStage, and the music they were playing sounded flawless. The foursome put on one of the loudest shows Central Park can allow, and at the end of the performance, I’m willing to bet the crowd would have done it all over again. —Sean O’Kane | @Sokane1

Photos courtesy of Mina K

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Headbanging Good Times at SummerStage

May 20th, 2015

Mastodon and Clutch – SummerStage – May 19, 2015

Mastodon – SummerStage – May 19, 2015
About 30 minutes into their set last night at SummerStage, Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor pulled a classic rock-concert move during a Brent Hinds guitar solo: He stood up, with one foot on his stool and one on the kick drum and begged the crowd to get louder. To be fair to the Central Park crowd, it’s not like they weren’t already going crazy for the Atlanta metal band. But this was a rock show, and this was Mastodon—you can always give them a little more.

Mastodon have been around for 15 years or so now, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost a step. In fact, the opposite is the case because the band members are playing better than they ever have. And while precision might not be the sexiest thing to crave at a metal show, Mastodon have got it in spades. Their four-part vocal harmonies and dueling guitar parts are as crisp as ever.

There’s just no hesitation in the way that the guys in Mastodon play, which is why that precision didn’t cost any fun. Hinds and guitarist teammate Bill Kelliher spent plenty of time headbanging on the edge of the stage with bassist Troy Sanders. The set still felt loose and was about as loud as you’ll ever hear SummerStage get. That pleased the longtime fans who, when they weren’t popping balloons with cigarettes or playing Ring Around the Rosie with their heavy metal–T-shirt-wearing kids, were still banging their heads along with the band. —Sean O’Kane | @Sokane1

Photos courtesy of Greg Pallante | gregpallante.com

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Mastodon and Clutch Headline SummerStage Tomorrow Night

May 18th, 2015

Effortlessly mixing progressive metal with grindcore and hardcore, the guys in MastodonTroy Sanders (vocals and bass), Brent Hinds (vocals and guitar), Bill Kelliher (guitar), Brann Dailor (vocals and drums)—have been touring and releasing music, both with acclaim, for close to 15 years. Their sixth full-length, Once More ’Round the Sun (stream it below), came out last summer. “While the rest of heavy music’s luminaries follow in their wake,” wrote Spin, “Mastodon’s sound—and their ambition—is bigger than metal.” The Atlanta four-piece (above, doing “The Motherload” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!) is currently out on the road with Clutch as part of their Missing Link tour.


Neil Fallon (vocals, guitar and keys), Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), Dan Maines (bass and vocals) and Tim Sult (guitar and vocals) formed Clutch (below, doing “Earth Rocker” for Rubber Tracks Live) 25 years ago in Germantown, Md. They gained a loyal following and an interest from several indie labels early on, thanks to their high-energy live shows and been their own brand of rock (think: the Venn Diagram overlap of Led Zeppelin and Faith No More with a little bit of go-go swing). But despite putting so much emphasis on their stage performances, they still spend a considerable amount of time in the studio recording new material, including their 10th full-length, the well-received Earth Rocker. Per Pop Matters, “Clutch craft addictive and contagious songs, no matter their density. Clutch’s aim here was to try something different, and in stripping Earth Rocker of its fat, the band has revealed even more imaginative and powerful artistic muscle.” Catch both bands tomorrow night at SummerStage in Central Park. Swedish doom-rockers Graveyard open the show.