Tag Archives: Ian Chang


Landlady and Sex Mob Help Rough Trade NYC Dance Away the Pain

April 22nd, 2016

Landlady – Rough Trade NYC – April 21, 2016

Landlady take over a stage to the point of spilling off of it, and their music sounds something like that, too—avant-pop, garage rock, funk, Afrobeat, heady jazz, pushed and pulled, knocked around a bit, sloshing like a too-full cocktail glass sitting on a wobbly table. This is a good thing: The New York of 2016 needs more of these risk-taking bands going for broke when it comes to blast-it-out improvisation and collective genre-smashing, somehow finding tasty melodies and total brain-fuck engagement in what to a passing-by ear could sound like blotted chaos. (The word surprise is used on their Facebook page as the group’s genre.) And that Landlady opted to share last night with one of the OG purveyors of this kind of sonic assault—Sex Mob—made for a wonderfully odd and unhinged show at Rough Trade NYC.

Near the end of their roughly 75-minute set, Landlady—the core five-piece with guitar, keys, bass, drums and percussion—tucked into “The Globe,” off their superb 2014 album, Upright Behavior. It’s an encapsulating song: Adam Schatz’s deceptively triumphant (or cheerfully weary?) vocals over a pie-eyed, finger-snapping melody delivered in service of a song that has something to do with living under stars but slouching toward, not Bethlehem, but a black hole. And that sort of happy-downtrodden balance frames so much of what Landlady do. Their tunes don’t force themselves on you, but once they grab your attention, then comes the rewarding variation, from manic percussion jams—drummers and percussionists Ian Chang and Booker Stardrum love to change positions and switch instruments with each other—to swirls of Farfisa and Wurlitzer to unexpected stabs of metallic guitar from Will Graefe. There were dynamic changeups left and right. “What’s the matter with my girl?” asked Schatz, sort of pained, sort of delirious, during “Girl” as a prelude to a full-stop beat of silence before he quietly built back the melody and then the whole band slammed into a refrain. “Dying Day” included a stab-y, aggressive melody and a format full of syncopation, yet its edges were smoothed with psychedelic keyboards.

Landlady are adventurous, but, crucially, don’t seem to get drunk on their own mojo. In fact, you never get the sense, even when their music spirals out into noisy, carnival sonics that they are anything but in control. The band paused to acknowledge Prince and the crowd cheered some heartfelt words from Schatz about playing songs because “that’s what we do” at a time like this: an invitation to dance the hurt away. When it came time for the hoped for Landlady-Sex Mob crossover, the collective turned not to Prince but to another recently fallen icon, adding most of Sex Mob to the Landlady cocktail for a vigorous version of David Bowie’s “Oh! You Pretty Things” that included a free-form jam studded with trumpet and sax and a percussion summit with Chang and Stardrum on the percussion rack and the incomparable Kenny Wollesen behind the kit. There was so much glorious noise at one point it sounded like the band would need to stop and restart the song, but with Landlady, as with Sex Mob, that’s usually where the song comes back out of the woods, surprising and gently chiding you for your concern about the musicians’ ability to not get lost. It was a lovely arrival from two groups that seem sort of insane but, as the poet wrote, are so sane they’ve blown your minds. —Chad Berndtson | @chadberndtson


A Thrilling Triple Bill Sells Out Rough Trade NYC

July 24th, 2015

Son Lux/Landlady/Olga Bell – Rough Trade NYC – July 23, 2015

Son Lux/Landlady/Olga Bell – Rough Trade NYC – July 23, 2015
Last night, Rough Trade NYC hosted one of the best bills of the week, with the trifecta of Son Lux, Landlady and Olga Bell drawing a sold-out crowd. Olga Bell, whose newest EP—Incitation—is due later this year, took the stage first and played a solo set filled with plucky lyrics and glitchy beats. Her impish, nimble voice trekked up and over her varied chaotic synth-scapes. Brooklyn retro-pop group Landlady, up next, possessed the charm of a barbershop quartet, and they’re profoundly sincere. Frontman Adam Schatz is a stranger to dull moments. His optimism bordered on brash, but it worked in his favor. There wasn’t a single lull in the band’s set, and big brass, jaunty guitar riffs and Schatz’s clever lyrics in songs like “Above My Ground,” “Maria” and “Dying Day” enchantingly swirled together.

Ryan Lott, Rafiq Bhatia and Ian Chang—who did double duty as the drummer for Landlady earlier in the night—took the stage and launched straight into a raucous rendition of “Change Is Everything,” from their newest album, Bones, Lott’s potent lyrics dancing atop frenzied percussion, dazzling keys and piercing guitar. The band invited several friends onstage to provide a brass section for “You Don’t Know Me.” Ryan reflected on their tour and said how happy they were to return to Brooklyn: “We’re all here in this moment. It might be a brief one, but it might be a very important one. It certainly feels that way to us.” Son Lux closed with a sprawling version of “Lost It to Trying,” complete with thunderous, syncopated clapping from the crowd. Their music is some of the most inventive, intimate stuff around these days. Hearing it live was nothing short of thrilling. —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | www.charlesosteinberg.com


Brazos Close Tour with Ski Lodge Tonight at Mercury Lounge

December 17th, 2013

What began as a home recording project for singer-songwriter Martin Crane in Austin, Texas, has become, with the help of drummer Ian Chang and bassist Spenzer Zahn, the Brooklyn-based alt-rock trio Brazos. Crane’s debut full-length, Phosphorescent Blues, out in 2009, led to opening for big-name bands like Vampire Weekend, the National and Grizzly Bear. But he opted to expand his group’s sound with the addition of Chang and Zahn for the second LP, the more ambitious Saltwater (stream it below). The Austin Chronicle glowingly calls it “emboldened and expansive, torn between childlike wonder and quarter-life introspection.” Brazos (above, performing “Charm” live at Braund Sound) have been on the road with Brooklyn jangly pop four-piece Ski Lodge all month, and their tour comes to a close tonight at Mercury Lounge.


Cut Loose with Body Language and AVAN LAVA Tonight

August 1st, 2013

With a healthy dose of coed harmonies and funky synth sounds, Body Language—vocalist Angelica Bess, drummer Ian Chang and DJsvocalists Grant Wheeler and Matthew Young—make R&B-tinged dance pop in the vein of Chromeo and Dirty Projectors. Their first EP, Speaks, came out in 2009, and that same year they opened for Passion Pit at The Bowery Ballroom. Two years later, the Brooklyn quartet released their first LP, Social Studies (stream it below), about which NPR said: “With its diverse mix of up-tempo dance beats, pop hooks and soulfully funky vocals, Social Studies has something for just about everyone, provided they don’t feel like sitting still.” Body Language (above, the video for their new single, “Well Absolutely”) have another full-length, Grammar, due in September.

Five years ago, while performing with Fischerspooner in Brazil, producers-multi-instrumentalists Le Chev and Ian Pai bonded over their shared love of Daft Punk, electronic music, Prince and R&B. And when the two met singer TC Hennes in New York City a few months later, they knew they were on their way to launching the indie dance group AVAN LAVA. The trio recorded a pair of EPs, including last year’s Flex Fantasy (stream it below), but when performing live, they team up with multi-instrumentalists-vocalists-dancers Drew Citron and Lo Lampert and percussionist Andrew Schneider. And for AVAN LAVA (above, doing “It’s Never Over”), when playing live it’s all about getting people moving, which, along with Body Language, they will do tonight at The Bowery Ballroom.