Tag Archives: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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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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The Bad Plus Sound Right at Home at Rough Trade NYC

November 22nd, 2016

The Bad Plus – Rough Trade NYC – November 21, 2016

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Over the course of their 15-plus-year career, the Bad Plus have played in nearly every conceivable New York City venue: the Village Vanguard and the Jazz Standard, sure, but also The Bowery Ballroom and Prospect Park Bandshell among many others. So, although you don’t often see a grand piano, let alone many jazz trios, at Rough Trade NYC, it’s not surprising that the Bad Plus eventually were slotted to play there. Coming off their recent album, It’s Hard, consisting entirely of cover songs, many of them from the contemporary rock and pop canon, seemed like a good time to start. Their two-set show on Monday night stood on four tentpoles from the new LP—four covers that showed the range and creativity that would shine through in any setting.

The Bad Plus take a cover song like a blank sheet of paper and start making cuts into it to create an elaborate, unique snowflake. For one group to adequately cover music as varied as Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” Barry Manliow’s “Mandy,” Kraftwerk’s “The Robots” and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps” would be very impressive. For a piano trio playing a rock club to do it, all the more amazing, each song recognizable only in its base parts, the group otherwise tearing at each composition’s fabric, finding patterns and beauty where it didn’t seem to exist in the original, often to stunning effect. But if the covers were paper snowflakes, the original Bad Plus material was some sort of four-dimensional origami, intricately folded artworks, dynamic and shape-shifting. The opening “Prehensile Dream” was a subtle slow build, pianist Ethan Iverson repeating a beautiful riff until quiet became loud and pretty became intense, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King providing an awe-inspiring crescendo.

The highlight of the first set came with the closing “Seven Minute Mind,” complicated rhythms hidden beneath an undeniably funky bass riff that may have required basic calculus to follow completely. “Keep the Bugs Off Your Glass and the Bears Off Your Ass” was rollicking blues that revealed multiple parenthetical diversions, eventually giving way to a great tangential bass-and-drum solo. Each song had its own unique feel and sound, all tied together with the band’s wit, talent and strong emotional core. The respectful but enthusiastic crowd was treated to one more cover for the encore, Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line,” which, under the eager scissors of the Bad Plus, became a thrilling exercise in rhythmic experimentation. For one night at least, for the Bad Plus and the roomful of fans, Rough Trade NYC felt just like home. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

 

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Make the Weekend Last a Little Longer with Har Mar Superstar

October 21st, 2016

Since the turn of the century, Sean Tillmann, doing business as Har Mar Superstar (above, performing “How Did I Get Through the Day” live in studio for KCMP FM the Current), has been known for his onstage antics—whether it’s slowly stripping or break-dancing or even doing both at the same time—at his sex-charged energetic live shows. But the reason he’s opened for big names like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sia, the Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs is because he’s a supremely talented singer and songwriter, aptly evident on his sixth full-length, this year’s Best Summer Ever (stream it below), conceived as a fake compilation album, featuring the one-time Broad City participant’s best songs from 1950 to 1985. “While there is often an inherent tongue-in-cheek quality to Best Summer Ever, Tillmann never fails to take the music seriously. Even when he underlines the irony, as he does on the spoken word outro to ‘Haircut,’ you can’t help but leave impressed by his highly resonant vocal chops and dedication to the process,” according to AllMusic. “Ultimately, with Best Summer Ever, Tillmann has made an album that works as both a time-traveling pop odyssey and a superb fake compilation.” Hear how the new tunes sound live, and make your weekend last a little longer, when Har Mar Superstar plays The Bowery Ballroom on Sunday night. Austin, Texas, nine-piece Sweet Spirit open the show.

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Vanic Headlines Music Hall of Williamsburg Tomorrow Night

October 20th, 2016

Vancouver, B.C., DJ and producer Jesse Hughes is best known as for his melodic-trap future-bass work as Vanic, expertly using bright synths, vocal samples and electro house in remixing and collaborating with big names like Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Chvrches. And not only is he ready to make a name for himself with original music—which he began releasing this year (like “Samurai” featuring Katy Tiz, above)—but Vanic has also hit the road, taking his live show across North America. Don’t miss him on Friday at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

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Two Chances Next Week to See Songhoy Blues, a Band Not to Miss

June 12th, 2015

With armed jihadists in the northern region of Mali, Oumar Touré, Allou Touré and Garba Touré sought refuge in the southern town of Bamako. Eventually they met Nat Dembele and decided to channel their interest in classic rock, hip-hop and R&B into their feelings about the displacement of their culture and their people, the Songhoy. So they took the name Songhoy Blues and began playing what Billboard calls guitar-driven music that “connects the trance-inducing traditions of their African music ancestry with flavors employed by the Black Keys, reggae and funk artists and, back in the day, Led Zeppelin.” Produced by Amadou & Mariam manager Marc-Antoiune Moreau and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s Nick Zinner, their acclaimed debut album, Music in Exile (stream it below), came out this past winter. And NME calls Songhoy Blues (above, doing “Soubour”) a “righteous four-piece that even militants couldn’t silence” and the LP “a masterpiece of desert blues; blending American guitar licks with Malian groove.” They’re currently winding down a U.S. tour, but before they head to Europe, you can catch Songhoy Blues on Monday at Rough Trade NYC and on Tuesday at Mercury Lounge.

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TV on the Radio End Tour at Home at Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 24th, 2014

TV on the Radio – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 22, 2014

TV on the Radio – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 22, 2014
There was a time when Williamsburg was still an affordable place to live, before New York City’s music scene exploded with a handful of bands that would go on to define indie-rock music at the turn of the millennium—the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol and TV on the Radio. That last group had their gestation period take place in Williamsburg, so it makes sense that they’d wrap up their latest tour in their home base. Still absolutely adored here, the band easily sold out three local shows (plus a free in-store appearance at Rough Trade NYC), with their final appearance taking place at a packed Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night. The performance kicked off with one of TV on the Radio’s very first songs, an unraveling expansive soundscape that slowly evolved its way toward the introductory vocal coos of “Young Liars.” Its energy notched up incrementally until dissipating into the taut funkiness of “Golden Age.”

Singer Tunde Adebimpe was a stage-performing spectacle. Whichever hand wasn’t holding his microphone was almost always miming out the song, sometimes reaching out to the audience as if to lend them a hand into the tune. “The age of miracles/ The age of sound/ Well there’s a Golden Age/ Comin’ round, comin’ round, comin’ round,” Adebimpe sang in “Golden Age,” spiraling his hand in the air before extending it out to the audience: Grab my hand, hop on board and let’s check it out. Then there was the near constant harmonizing with Kyp Malone, and if there’s one thing that’s instantly recognizable as TV on the Radio, it’s the two of them singing together, with Malone always several octaves higher in the highest of falsettos. It splits the expressive possibilities of their songs in half, and in it’s best moments the two of them sing the same lyrics with different emotions. On “Careful You,” off their new album, Seeds, one seems to be singing a statement and the other a plea.

The older numbers had a more abrasive edge than the newer ones. “I Was a Lover,” with all its jittery, stuttering rhythm, encapsulates the Bush-era anxieties of the mid-’00s as well as any other song of that time. On “Wolf Like Me,” the band made things as loud as possible. Dave Sitek even brought out a four-foot wind chime, rattling the hell out of it as the song finished. Contrast that with the new tune that followed, “Trouble,” and its reassurances in the chorus of “‘Everything’s gonna be OK/ Oh, I keep telling myself, ‘Don’t worry, be happy’/ Oh, you keep telling yourself.” TV on the Radio’s encore kicked off with “Forgotten,” off Nine Types of Light, Adebimpe leading the audience in chanting, “Light,” to combat life’s darkness. The set closed with “Staring at the Sun,” their first single, the perfect finish to a tour-ending show in their hometown, where once upon a time it had all begun. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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A-Trak’s New Tour Brings Him to Terminal 5 on Saturday Night

May 30th, 2014

It’s probably safe to say Alain Macklovitch has music in his blood. His older brother, David, handles guitar and lead vocals in Chromeo as Dave 1. And Alain has risen to prominence as a turntablist, producer and label head—he founded Fool’s Gold Records alongside Nick Catchdubs. But if his name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s probably because you know him for his DJ work as A-Trak. He’s won a slew of awards and DJ-battling championships, not to mention his numerous singles, EPs, mixtapes and remixes of big names like Kanye West, whom he’s often performed with, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A-Trak (above, performing on Holy Ship!) is equally at home in small clubs, big festival stages and arena and stadium shows. And he’ll have you dancing tomorrow night at Terminal 5Cam’ron and Salva open the show.

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Har Mar Superstar Hosts Holiday Show Tonight

December 17th, 2013

More than a decade ago, Sean Tillmann decided to leave behind indie guitar rock for a more crowd-pleasing, sex-charged version of R&B. And performing, often shirtless, as the dynamic Har Mar Superstar, he found a newer, bigger audience. Since then, he’s moved from Minnesota to New York City and hit the road with bands like the Strokes, Father John Misty and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Har Mar Superstar (above, doing one of the year’s top singles, “Lady You Shot Me”) put out his most acclaimed album, Bye Bye 17 (stream it below), this past spring, and after performing across Europe, he returns home to host the Obnoxiously Non-Denominational Holiday Party tonight at The Bowery Ballroom. And since it is a fiesta, Har Mar has guests: Lizzo, Computer Magic, See Through and DJ Jenny Eliscu.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Barclays Center – September 19, 2013

September 20th, 2013


Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesolivierphoto.com

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Two Big Local Bands Take the Stage at Barclays Center

September 19th, 2013

Earlier this year, art-punk trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs—frontwoman Karen O, drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner—released their fourth full-length, Mosquito (stream it below). The album includes production work from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek among others, and in praising it, the A.V. Club says the album “takes a much more open-ended, and less studied, approach to Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ electric eccentricity.” Of course, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (above, performing “Sacrilege” on Late Show with David Letterman) are most known for the fiery live performances, and you can see these hometown musical heroes tonight at Barclays Center. But do yourself a favor and get there early enough to see Har Mar Superstar.

Another big local band, Vampire Weekend—college buddies Ezra Koenig (vocals and guitar), Chris Baio (bass and vocals), Rostam Batmanglij (keys and vocals) and Chris Tomson (drums)—also put out an acclaimed new album this year, Modern Vampires of the City (stream it below). The band’s much-praised third LP is a bit of a departure, abandoning the post-college themes of their previous work, but gaining plaudits in the process, with Rolling Stone winningly comparing the quartet’s new tunes to Paul Simon and Tom Petty. But, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend (above, doing “Diane Young” on Saturday Night Live) are best experienced live. And alongside Solange and Sky Ferreira, they play Barclays Center tomorrow night.

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Cultfever and the Hot Sardines Give the Merc Something Different

September 17th, 2013

Cultfever/the Hot Sardines – Mercury Lounge – September 16, 2013

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Mercury Lounge is famous for hosting young, emerging acts that would go on to stardom: the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the White Stripes all have a connection to the venerable venue dating back to their humble beginnings. Playing Mercury Lounge is a right of passage in the New York City indie scene. Bands like Cultfever have used this tried-and-true method of taking a step toward those legendary bands. The Brooklyn-based pop outfit has played Mercury Lounge several times to packed houses and adoring crowds. That’s because they’re an indie group on the rise. The Hot Sardines had never played Mercury Lounge before last night, perhaps because they’re a hot jazz band.

The Hot Sardines played first, and we were instantly lifted into a scene from Boardwalk Empire. Singer Elizabeth Bougerol’s airy vocals led each song, and when band members traded solos, Bougerol danced and coaxed more trumpet, more clarinet and even more tap dancing. Jaded head nodding from concertgoers turned into wild swing-dance leg kicks. And for the band’s grand finale, they summoned Joe Durniak and Tamara Jafar of Cultfever for a spirited New Orleans second line that snaked off the stage and through the crowd—not something you see every night on the Lower East Side.

Cultfever might be a more traditional Mercury Lounge band (i.e. no tap dancer), but a lesser group would have fallen flat paired with the Hot Sardines’ endearing quirkiness. Durniak and Jafar have created a wholly unique sound, blending elements of punk and grunge into their catchy synth pop. They burned through their set, as Jafar subdued the room with her sultry voice and Durniak powered the band with bluesy crunch. For “Collector,” Cultfever brought back the Sardines—solely to add more voices to the screaming chorus of band and crowd members shouting “Earthquakes!” at a key moment in the song. It was the perfect cap to an earth-shattering night. —Alex Kapelman

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Smith Westerns Bring New Tunes to Music Hall Tomorrow

July 23rd, 2013

Cameron Omori (vocals and guitar) and Max Kakacek (guitar) met as teens in a Chicago prep school and bonded over similar musical tastes, especially ’60s garage rock. They recruited Omori’s older brother, Cullen, to play the bass, but there’s been a revolving door behind the drum kit. Originally the group’s three members each took turns before Hal James came in as drummer for Smith Westerns’ 2009 self-titled debut album. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Brian Chase and Turbo Fruits’ John Eatherly played on the group’s superlative sophomore release, Dye It Blonde, which found them channeling George Harrison through a glam prism. And John Eatherly, formerly of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, became the fourth member of the young band for their newest release, Soft Will (stream it below), which NME hails for its “catchy tunes, dreamy textures and wistful nostalgia for misspent youth.” You can catch some of these new tunes live when Smith Westerns (above, doing “Weekend” for KEXP FM, and, below, covering Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “American Girl” for the A.V. Club) play Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs Give Fans a Reason to Believe

April 8th, 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Webster Hall – April 7, 2013

Belief in the idea that one’s art shouldn’t just tap you on the shoulder but elbow you in the ribs is what’s propelled the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ music for more than a decade. It’s puzzling at first to consider that this fantastic trio has been around that long, especially since their discography is so concise. The upcoming Mosquito, will be the band’s fourth album, but it warrants respect and admiration that each offering has seemed so well timed, as if there were this uncanny sense of when their music was needed most. The music has always been delivered with heedless conviction. When a Yeah Yeah Yeahs record has come out with live shows to follow, the bellowing message resonates for a while afterward.

New York City’s patience in waiting for their hometown favorites’ latest declaration was rewarded last night at Webster Hall. It’s fitting that Karen O’s famous stage attire could have been read as a sexy interpretation of a prize fighter’s outfit, with an oversize glittering robe, satin shorts and even a couple of knee pads. Like a trained fighter, Yeah Yeah Yeahs measure their moments to strike and let go with abandon when they find their opening. The set was a barrage, fluidly covering their entire discography with each song leaving its mark. Classics like “Gold Lion” and “Black Tongue” were belted out with a fresh new purpose while attention-grabbers like “Zero,” “Heads Will Roll” and their newest, “Sacrilege,” exhilarated to the point of spreading pulsing waves across the floor from the crowd’s collective hopping.

In their trademark approach, the band hurled themselves into the performance. Karen O demonstrated why she has become a rock icon, delivering shivering vocal punctuation amidst all the physical exhibition she is known for. Her flair and gusto were matched by Brian Chase’s controlled fury on the drums and Nick Zinner’s precise and penetrating structure on guitar. Chase in particular, smiling gleefully, arms swinging and pounding away, captured a palpable mood of celebration shared between the band and their passionate local following. There was no doubting the mutual love in the room, and you got the sense that no one there would’ve wanted to be anywhere else in the world. “Love is in the air tonight!” proclaimed O, and that energy remained through the show’s end when the beloved “Maps” was finally played in the encore, the entire crowd singing along.  

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have always shown that they appreciate and embrace their regard as one of the all time great NYC bands. This recognition comes across in the enthusiasm with which they make and play their music and the ambition they maintain to keeping it substantial. The attitude has always been to put it out there, strut it hard and let the chips fall where they may, and this has continued to result in a glowing response, as it did again last night. Yeah Yeah Yeahs simply believe in their music, which makes everyone who’s listening believe in it, too. —Charles Steinberg

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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Five Questions … with Har Mar Superstar

March 29th, 2013

More than a decade ago, Sean Tillmann decided to leave behind indie guitar rock for a more crowd-pleasing, sex-charged version of R&B. And performing, often shirtless, as the dynamic Har Mar Superstar, he found a newer, bigger audience. Since then, he’s moved from Minnesota to New York City and hit the road with bands like the Strokes, Father John Misty and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Har Mar Superstar (above, performing “EZ Pass”) has a new album, Bye Bye 17, out next month, and ahead of his show on Monday at The Bowery Ballroom with the Virgins, he exchanged e-mails with The House List while on a long drive through the Midwest where he revealed himself to be a fan of Deniece Williams“Let’s Hear It for the Boy” (“Footloose, bro”) and Philly rockers Free Energy, plus he answered Five Questions.

What’s the best part of playing New York City?
I love taking a taxi home from the show. It gives me whole new levels of partying possibilities. The show always benefits from that luxury.

Living in NYC, is there any special relevance to playing The Bowery Ballroom?
The Bowery Ballroom is one my favorite places to see shows. It’s a classic. It feels like homecoming playing there mid-tour. People are always impressed when you tell them you’re playing there.

Your fifth Har Mar album, Bye Bye 17, comes out next month. When you release new music is there some sense of relief that it’s done, or is it really just the beginning and you’re excited to play the new tunes live?
This is definitely just the beginning. I love playing live, and new songs make it so much more exciting. Bye Bye 17 is particularly exciting because the response has been huge and immediate. The songs make people pay attention.

After all these years on the road, what have you learned to make touring easier?
Touring with your friends makes everything easier. Stay at hotels with free breakfast.
Get stoned.

Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you?
Love songs are best when they’re sad. Real-life experience helps you channel the emotions. Next time someone tears your heart out, write a love song. It feels good. —R. Zizmor

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Metric Unplugged at the Bowery Hotel

June 21st, 2012

Mere hours after unveiling tunes off their just-released fifth album, Synthetica, for a horde of adoring fans inside the cozy Music Hall of Williamsburg, Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw of Metric invited us into a posh suite at NYC’s Bowery Hotel to tape a performance for The Bowery Presents Live channel on YouTube, which posts awesome sessions like this one every week (see them all here).

At the hotel, the duo stripped away the electric throb of their new single, “Youth Without Youth,” down to two-part harmonies, acoustic guitar and harmonica (!). All that remained from the original was a spare, digital beat, saddled up through Shaw’s iPhone.

After performing, the duo talked about their origins in NYC and Brooklyn, hanging with members of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Stars and TV on the Radio, and how NYC helped shape the sound of Synthetica. Watch the interview here.

Metric returns to town September 23 at Radio City Music Hall. Tickets are still available.