Tag Archives: Coachella


The War on Drugs Are in Fine Form at Brooklyn Steel on Sunday Night

April 9th, 2018

The War on Drugs – Brooklyn Steel – April 8, 2018

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

While Adam Granduciel described the show as a sort of one-off warm-up for Coachella, the War on Drugs played their sold-out Sunday show at Brooklyn Steel with a Saturday ferocity and the confidence and skill of a band at the end of a long tour. Granduciel asked if “Everyone’s feeling good?” before launching into an opening set of songs—“Brothers,” “Pain” and “An Ocean in Between the Waves”—that interlaced stoner-poetry lyrics with crackling guitar rock-outs. The recent Grammy winners brought best-rock-album energy to the show, often lit by bright white shafts of light that added an arena-strength visual to the set. For a while it seemed like each tune would top the last, longer jams and more of them.

Midway through, Granduciel promised a “big reveal,” a special guest, after a couple of songs that had the crowd buzzing with who-could-it-be? anticipation. Finally, they brought out Craig Finn, who shared vocals, leading the War on Drugs through a cover of Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like a Martyr,” which shifted the tone and gave the band a new space to work out figure-eight excursions. After Finn left the stage, the energy shifted in a more exploratory direction with a powerhouse stretch that stitched “Holding On,” the ambient space-out “The Haunting Idle” and “In Reverse” into a single psychedelic medley, the mood enhanced by beams of pastels swirling around the stage. The encore opened with an not-played-too-often cover of Tom Petty’s “Time to Move On,” a perfect fit for the time, place and band as the War on Drugs head out West, probably not needing it, but indeed, fully warmed up for Coachella and whatever else lies ahead. —A. Stein | @Neddyo


The New Deal Take Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wild Two-Set Ride

March 25th, 2016

The New Deal – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 24, 2016

The New Deal – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 24, 2016
The New Deal have long been a connoisseur’s choice among lovers of jamtronica, beloved for their chops, sonic inventiveness and forward-thinking jams that go places, not just vamp for hours on top of an endless untz-untz and a trippy light show. That they’ve been back at it for about two years now—and have just released a new studio album, Mercury Switch, for the first time in more than a decade—makes it easy to forget that for a while, the New Deal had hung it up, convinced the tide of production-heavy EDM performers and celebrity DJs were cropping out their more organic approach to highly danceable, marvelously textured improvisation. Instead, something more interesting happened: Jamie Shields and Dan Kurtz, along with 2014 recruit Joel Stouffer, returned to find EDM, electropop and the jam worlds in, well, if not harmony, an agreeable balance, such that the New Deal’s nearly faultless live show draws from each in nearly equal measure. The trio corral electro-shocked house, techno, dance rock, breakbeat and drum-and-bass and make them forcefully whole in such a way that would just as easily fit the vibes and crowds of Bonnaroo or Jam Cruise as as Electric Daisy Carnival or Coachella.

By the time the New Deal came on at Music Hall of Williamsburg last night, it was suitably late, and Shields, Kurtz and Stouffer didn’t so much settle in as they got down to business right away, teasing a series of layered keyboard sounds, rumbling bass and drums and percussion that caromed right into a highly danceable groove. It was as much fun to watch them work as it was to listen. In part, you got a light show filled, on this night, with penetrating green and purple beams arranged in a series of morphing lattice patterns. In part you also got the three principals, arranged more as a row of pods conjoined to one another—Shields in a fortress of keyboards stage right, Kurtz in the middle and Stouffer angled behind the tricked-out drum kit stage left—such that the members looked more like they were manning the weapons against TIE fighters than playing in a band.

Set list? Hmm. There were a number of thoroughly explored passages through New Deal cuts old (“Technobeam”) and new (“Mercury Switch” and “Quattro,” both off of the new album), plus a wide range of melodic and sonic textures over two potent sets. But for the New Deal, set list is kind of beside the point. Song beginnings don’t so much elicit pogo-ing crowd reactions as do peaks in the jams: EDM-style drops, soaring flights of keyboard, slippery-slap bass, drums that throttle. The New Deal are as at home in a world of wobbly notes and reverb as they are in gnarly dance rock, synth-studded techno or straight-up breakbeat. You drive, fly or swim down the dark tunnels with them and somewhere along the way—10 minutes? 20? 30?—you’re deposited at the bottom of the chute, laughing and thoroughly spent. —Chad Berndtson | @cberndtson

Photos courtesy of Pat Tabb | pattabb.com


The Kite String Tangle Plays the Early Show Tonight at Mercury Lounge

July 30th, 2015

Based in Brisbane, Australia, electronic musician Danny Harley, who started out playing Green Day covers, has made a name for himself as the frontman of electro-pop band Pigeon, and as—influenced by the likes of SBTRKT, James Blake and Active Child—a singer, songwriter and producer known as the Kite String Tangle. He’s earned praise on some notable taste-making blogs thanks to appearances at Coachella, CMJ Music Marathon and SXSW, and the Kite String Tangle (above, doing “Given the Chance” for the Triple J) plays the early show at Mercury Lounge tonight.


I Break Horses Gallop into Williamsburg

April 21st, 2014

I Break Horses – Rough Trade NYC – April 18, 2014

A wide range of Swedish artists, like Robyn, the Knife and Little Dragon, have made some of the most infectious dance music over the past few years. And Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck continue in that vein as I Break Horses. Following the release of their sophomore effort, Chiaroscuro, earlier this year, the two have embarked on their first-ever headlining tour in North America. Their label, Bella Union, describes the pair’s evocative sound as “a gorgeous Scandinavian croon that’s bathed in an ocean of reverb and tremelo,” and Lindén and Balck are no strangers to performing to huge crowds, having previously opened for M83 and Sigur Rós.

But on the eve of Record Store Day, the Swedes fittingly performed at the intimate Rough Trade NYC in Brooklyn. Lindén raised an arm for the show to commence against the throbbing drums of “Medicine Brush.” And while she later had some synth troubles, the band swiftly recovered with crowd-favorite “Denial” to the delight of concertgoers happily bobbing their heads to the beat. I Break Horses followed with a pair from their debut, Hearts“Load Your Eyes” and the shimmering synth-filled title song—before the set closed with the thumping “Faith.” But the band returned to encore with the swirling “Winter Beats.” —Sharlene Chiu