Tag Archives: Andie Diemer

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Bully Ratchet Up the Energy at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Monday

November 14th, 2017

Bully – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 13, 2017

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

In an era when we’re all coming to realize that women have a million reasons to angrily shout, Bully frontwoman Alicia Bognanno might just rock one of the best screams in all of rock music. Her vocal chords come with a built-in distortion pedal. It’s a slight miracle she can tour playing night after night with her gravely scream on full blast. At other times her voice is filled with tenderness—it takes a certain chorus or bridge to flick a switch then suddenly the same voice isn’t just cutting like a knife, it’s cutting you open. “I am trying to stay focused,” screamed Bognanno on repeat at a fever pitch for the final lines of “Focused,” each refrain ratcheting up the energy levels at Music Hall of Williamsburg, far higher than you’d think possible on a Monday night.

Not all of their songs hit so heavy: “I Feel the Same” came with a bouncy feel to it, with Bognanno flanked on both sides by pogoing guitarist Clayton Parker and bassist Reece Lazarus. The latter dedicated the set to two friends in the audience celebrating their two-year anniversary. “I don’t want to sing the saddest song we have after that. I’ll jinx this,” said Bognanno leading into “Blame.” But it was easily one of their best songs of the night, oscillating between soft contemplation and fury-filled choruses. “Milkman” one of their first-ever recorded tracks, had the whole band packing serious punch, with Lazarus’ thudding bassline doing the walloping. The show ended with “I Remember,” a tight number already trimmed of any fat whatsoever, played in warp speed. No better way to end the night than with a knockout blow. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

 

 

 

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Whitney Sound Like Heaven at Music Hall of Williamsburg

October 11th, 2016

Whitney – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 10, 2016

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

(Photo: Andie Diemer)


What’s a young band to do, touring behind their much-acclaimed debut album? Throw out to the world every song you have and play with everything you’ve got. In this instance, the band was Chicago’s Whitney and the world was Music Hall of Williamsburg: “I wanna say the biggest venue we ever sold out,” said frontman-drummer Julien Ehrlich. Whitney played through their entire LP (10 songs), plus two covers last night, with the chops and tightness of a band that has that many albums recorded to their name rather than songs.

Led by Ehrlich at center stage, Whitney kicked off the performance with “Dave’s Song,” a momentum-shifting number that exploded into its hook-y melodic bliss mid-song, only to keep on expanding from there. Next came the summery anthem  “No Matter Where We Go,” featuring the catchiest guitar riffs sprinkled in from guitarist Max Kakacek (former member of Smith Westerns), which evolved into a jaunty, song-stealing solo. The forlorn and lovesick “Polly,” flirted with a maximalist chorus, offering only hints of it before ending in a beautiful trumpet solo from Will Miller. It’s not too often that you see indie bands fucking around with a trumpet, but Whitney perfectly worked the instrument’s buttery crispness into their melodic assaults.

The extended instrumental “Red Moon” featured everyone trading solos, beginning with Miller on the trumpet. Next came the Bob Dylan cover “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You,” sung wonderfully by Ehrlich—trading in Dylan’s Kermit the Frog–croon for his own gentle tenor. (Whitney also covered NRBQ’s “Magnet” in their encore.) The cheery “Golden Days” was introduced as a love song, “No Woman,” as a tune about having no girlfriend, and “Follow” as a song about death. But all three made for sing-alongs, carrying with each of them an optimistic, sunny feel in their own right, even the latter, which was inspired by the death of Ehrlich’s grandfather. With a band putting out music this strong, even tunes about death end up sounding like heaven. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

(Whitney play The Bowery Ballroom tonight.)

 

 

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The Growlers Bring Brand-New Tunes to Music Hall of Williamsburg

September 30th, 2016

The Growlers – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 29, 2016

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

The Growlers hail from California, which is an important detail to remember because few bands nail the California sound, all of it, and all on their own terms. It’s like they took every genre the large, diverse state is known for and mashed it into one thing. Surf rock, psychedelia, sunny pop tunes, throw it all in a blender and what comes out? Beach Goth, if you were to ask the Growlers. It’s how they refer to their unique sound—they even host an annual festival by the same name.

But on Thursday, the Growlers’ conquests remained on the rainy East Coast, more specifically at the sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg on the night before the release of their fifth full-length, City Club. They even came with a neon-glowing CITY CLUB sign onstage to mark the occasion. Donning some seriously stunning white Western suits with floral stitching, the Growlers ran through all the hits, and for a relatively young band, there’s a hell of a lot of songs the majority of the crowd knew most of the words to, following along to singer Brooks Nielsen’s signature nasally croon. He’s great fun to watch, if there’s such a thing as slow motion flailing, it’s his dance move of choice.

Contrasted to their older tunes, the latest material has a little more poppy sheen. “Night Ride” features an ironed-out, dance friendly groove. The equally dance friendly “Dull Boy” showcases a more lurching reggae groove, while the latest release’s title track has a polyrhythmic groove reminiscent of the Talking Heads. Simply put, there were grooves for all. The performance ended with “Going Gets Tough,” with its refrain of “Still always remembering/ When the going gets tough/ That the labor of our love/ Will reward us soon enough.” Nothing Goth-y about this sentiment, beach Goth-y maybe, but nonetheless a perfect send-off for the night. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

 

 

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Angel Olsen Displays Her Powers at Warsaw on Sunday Night

September 19th, 2016

Angel Olsen – Warsaw – September 18, 2016

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

Angel Olsen wields the superpower of having one of the most dynamic voices in music. Not only that, but her songwriting puts it all to damn good use. Her latest release, the much-acclaimed My Woman, further pushes her sound into every direction. Sometimes it’s poppier, sometimes more mellow, louder and/or softer. Call it her slow takeover of the entire musical canon. Olsen and Co. came to Brooklyn’s the Warsaw on Sunday night, her second of two local weekend shows. Olsen’s backing band, sporting adorable matching gray suits with bolo ties, featured some welcome new additions. Mount Moriah’s Heather McEntire may be one of the few voices out there with the chops to sing backing vocals for Olsen. Their Southern-inspired outfits seemed fitting for the barn-stomping, rockabilly-tinged set openers, “Never Be Mine” and “Hi-Five.” All three guitarists came out swinging as the slow-burning “Sister” worked toward its fiery crescendo.

At the opposite end of things, “Acrobat,” usually already a sparse song, was stripped bare even of its rhythm, making a brooding number sound all the more haunted. With its lurching momentum, the shape-shifting melody was left to wax and wane as Olsen saw fit, belting through lines like “I am alive” before lingering on “I thought I had died.” It remains one of her best songs, made all the better by her continual experimentation with its arrangement. She makes it all look easy to boot. “Windows” showcased vocals reminiscent of Stevie Nicks’ raspy warmth. The following song, “Not Gonna Kill You,” brought out the fever-pitch psychedelic sharpness that could be mistaken for Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick. The encore kicked off with the bright and moody “Intern.” And for all the range displayed within the main set, the song still felt like a counterpoint, replacing drums and guitars for keyboards and synths. Just when you thought she was done conquering the musical landscape, there was still more stones left unturned. You can call this rock and roll. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

 

 

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Todd Terje Takes Terminal 5 on a Trip to Space

July 22nd, 2015

Todd Terje & the Olsens – Terminal 5 – July 21, 2015

Todd Terje & the Olsens – Terminal 5 – July 21, 2015
Is the U.S. becoming more Scandinavian? New York City is ever so slowly becoming more bike friendly, there’s a self-avowed socialist climbing his way up the 2016 presidential polls, and American electronic-music fans can’t get enough of the Norwegian DJ wunderkind Todd Terje. Lazy journalism 101 says these three barely related things mean we have an undeniable trend, one worthy of its own online thought piece. One thing is for sure, though, we Americans aren’t yet Scandinavian enough to know what to do with the j in Terje’s last name. Ter-jee? Ter-hey? Ter-yee? I heard every possible variation while working my way into Terminal 5 last night.

“Prepare to be blasted into space in a lounge chair,” my friend, who had seen Terje a few days prior at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, told me. It was an apt warning, although really, when is anyone not prepared for such a thing? Terje’s set began slowly, with him onstage by himself slowly tinkering his way into the performance, before being joined by his backing band, the Olsens. By the second half of “Leisure Suit Preben” all three of the Olsens were on some sort of percussion instrument. Strong rhythm works well in the cavernous Terminal 5. Done well, it beats the entire venue, all three of its floors, into perfect unison. The true liftoff into space arrived with “Strandbar,” its relentless rhythmic assault stretched out into infinity and beyond. Terje was flanked on his right with one hell of a multi-instrumentalist, who at one time or another played a saxophone, xylophone and guitar, switching among them, sometimes all within the same song.

Terje was at his most animated when throwing out the vocal yips of “Svensk Sås” into his vocoder, a funny sight for an otherwise unassuming fellow. The set slowly descended back to earth for “Oh Joy,” with a gradual transition into “Inspector Norse.” It was so gradual that it took the audience a bit to notice we were heading right for Terje’s most well known song, finally becoming apparent when a dozen dancers, draped in tattered cloth and haphazardly placed Christmas lights, walked onstage to dance along. This has been Terje’s go-to for this number live, and it makes for a beautiful sight. There’s a certain way people move their bodies along to “Inspector Norse,” when they get way too into it and shed all inhibitions. It’s not technical enough that I’d really call it dancing, but seeing lots of people do it, in costume onstage and in unison is brilliantly funny. It’s cheeky in the same way Terje’s music is at its finest moments—and one hell of a way to end a set.
—Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Andie Diemer | issuu.com/andiediemer/docs/portfolio