Tag Archives: John Grant

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Our CMJ Music Marathon Shows This Week

October 12th, 2015

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The 35th annual CMJ Music Marathon kicks off tomorrow and lasts through Saturday. And The Bowery Presents has you covered each night—and during the day on Saturday. Check out the showcases at our venues—plus Pianos—this week (that aren’t already sold out).

Tuesday
Mercury Lounge: Firekid

Rough Trade NYC: Paradigm, Am Only and the Windish Agency present Vaults, Methyl Ethel, Gilligan Moss, Steven A Clark, Leikeli47 and No Wyld

Wednesday
Mercury Lounge: CMJ Official Showcase with Oberhofer, Superfood, Bird Dog, Frankie and Marlon Williams

Thursday
Rough Trade NYC: Rough Trade presents John Grant, Ezra Furman, Georgia, Shopping and Hooton Tennis Club

Rough Trade NYC: BBC Introducing & PRS for Music Foundation present Clean Cut Kid, the Big Moon, Pretty Vicious, Georgia and the Jacques

Friday
Rough Trade NYC: Bella Union and Iceland Airwaves present Mammut, Doomsquad, Landshapes, Fufanu and DJ Flugvel og Geimskip

Mercury Lounge: Ruen Brothers, Susto and Zachary Cale

Rough Trade NYC: Aquarium Drunkard presents: No Jacket Required with Protomartyr, Omni, Lemon Twigs, Drinks, Yoko and the Oh No’s, Mothers, Car Seat Headrest and Modern Vices

Saturday
Pianos (beginning at noon), FREE: the Lemon Twigs, Whitney, Methyl Ethyl, Bayonne, Aquilo, Mild High Club, Ben Abraham, Fraser A Gorman, Zachary Cale, Hooton Tennis Club and Car Seat Headrest

Rough Trade NYC: Levitation & Alisa Loog present Ringo Deathstarr, Shannon and the Clams, Drinks, Mild High Club, Whitney

Mercury Lounge: MezzoForte presents Lev,  Powwowwer, Pompeya, Sphynx, Young Empires, Teen Commandments, Velo and Holiday Mountain

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Three Chances to See Pixies Performing Live in NYC This Week

May 26th, 2015

With interruptions and turbulence a regularity throughout the Pixies’ nearly 30-year history, the group has reunited to tour in recent years, reinforcing their influence and affirming their legacy. Not much has changed in their approach to playing their visceral and bizarrely seductive collection of punky, surf-rock hits since their mid-’80s beginnings. The raw, scraped-knee energy is still intact, and so are frontman Black Francis’s agonized vocals, which spar with and then soften to linger over Joey Santiago’s shrill guitar textures. Drummer David Lovering still reliably supplies the amplification, together with new bass player Paz Lenchantin, who has slid in seamlessly. They eschew aura and flair, and, of course, the no-nonsense attitude and restrained angst still remain central. Touring behind their fifth studio full-length (and first in 23 years), 2014’s Indie Cindy (stream it below), Pixies (above, performing “Green and Blues” for KEXP FM) return to New York City to play three shows this week: tonight and tomorrow at the Beacon Theatre and on Thursday at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. Talented singer-songwriter John Grant opens each night. —Charles Steinberg

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Ásgeir Leaves No Doubt at Mercury Lounge

June 20th, 2014

Ásgeir – Mercury Lounge – June 19, 2014

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There’s something about the far off environs of Iceland that gives birth to unique musical voices. Everyone knows Björk and Sigur Rós, and soon they will know the name Ásgeir Trausti. With one out of 10 people in Iceland owning his first album, he is already well known in his home country and is ready to conquer the States. The English translation of his debut album, Dýrð í dauðaþögn (renamed In the Silence) was translated with the American singer John Grant and released earlier this year.

Donning a trucker hat, Ásgeir ascended to the cozy stage of a sold-out Mercury Lounge. Icelandic folk music preluded the start of the show, however Trausti began his set with the English tune “Head in the Snow.”  There’s something interesting about hearing songs in which you don’t know the lyrics or the meaning behind them. As he sang the pair “Leyndarmál” and “Sumargestur,” thoughts of what they might be about tickled my brain. Was it a ballad for an unrequited love or a song about homesickness for the beauty of his home? Only the Icelandic speakers would know, but the mystery is almost alluringly fitting for the language so steeped in a far-off land.

Weaving between his native tongue and English throughout the performance, Trausti made sure to offer several mid-set treats with a debut of a new song, “Ocean,” drenched in reverb, and a cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box.” The latter was a drawn-out version of the original that reminded me more of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” than of Kurt Cobain’s grunge masterpiece. Trausti managed to play most of his debut album, which included an acoustic rendition of “Summer Guest,” plus fan-favorites “Higher,” “Going Home” and “King and Cross.” For the final song, Trausti admitted that it was “a strange moment” as his band—consisting of his producer, his big brother, the album’s lyricist, and a drummer—couldn’t exit the small stage as he concluded the night with the lullaby “On That Day.” But there’s no doubting the family onstage and the magical evening they produced for the New York City crowd. —Sharlene Chiu

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John Grant – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 2, 2013

December 3rd, 2013


Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com

(John Grant does an in-store performance tonight at Rough Trade NYC. Entry is free with a purchase.)

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A Great Performer’s Great Performance

July 2nd, 2013

John Grant – The Bowery Ballroom – July 1, 2013


A great performance often surpasses expectations—not just predictions of how good a particular musician’s live show might be, but what types of things you expect to see from the artist. And with John Grant, there’s a degree of expected quirkiness. For a guy who writes heavily emotional material with nonsensical verses, plus songs from the perspective of a narrator claiming he’s “the greatest motherfucker that you’re ever gonna meet,” and several tunes that are introduced as inspired by Woody Allen movies, it is assumed his concerts will carry a certain degree of tongue-in-cheekiness.

But then you see him perform live, like last night at The Bowery Ballroom, and in his final refrains of “Vietnam,” he jumped up an octave and you hear yourself saying, “Fuck, this guy can really sing.” Then he introduced his Icelandic backing band (they’re all from Iceland except the pianist) that put some serious emotional punch behind the confessional nonchalance of his lyrics, turning how you hear his music on its head. And then he introduced “Ernest Borgnine,” inspired in part from discovering he was HIV-positive and in part by meeting Ernest Borgnine while working at Gramercy Tavern, which somehow sounds less emotional and serious than the song that follows it, “Where Dreams Go to Die,” introduced as a soliloquy about the G train.

“I Hate This Town” morphed into an eccentric sing-along. And Grant dedicated “Glacier” to gays living in Putin’s Russia, which recently enacted sweeping antigay laws—and it felt like the most perfectly poignant fuck you to bigotry. “Queen of Denmark” was filled with so many grandiose twists and turns that it felt like an actual Queen song. It’s rare for a show to make you realize you’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to an artist, that how you would have explained him before seeing him live wasn’t even the half of it. It’s too soon to say this with any degree of certitude, but John Grant just might be the greatest motherfucker that you’re ever gonna meet. —Dan Rickershauser

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