Tag Archives: Michael Jackson


A Night of Cool R&B with Amir Obè at The Bowery Ballroom

August 14th, 2017

Rapper, singer, songwriter and producer Amir Obeid—DBA Amir Obè—grew up in Detroit, heavily influenced by the likes of Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Michael Jackson. He began making his own hip-hop and R&B in his teens before temporarily moving back to Brooklyn (his place of birth) after high school. Representing Detroit and Brooklyn, or Detrooklyn, he’s worked with others, like Drake, producing the If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late track “Star67,” and on his own, Obè (above, his video for “I Am Def Jam”) has released a slew of mixtapes, singles and EPs, including None of the Clocks Work (stream it below), which dropped this past spring. “Consisting of seven tracks, the set finds the enigmatic artist delving into a world where emotions trump material possessions,” according to Billboard. And Fader says “that it’s still possible to make icy, atmospheric R&B sound fresh.” Winding down an August tour, Obè plays The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night. Seattle singer-songwriter EMI opens the show.


Great Good Fine OK Play Two Hometown Shows This Weekend

June 15th, 2017

Influenced by the likes of Prince, Michael Jackson and Chaka Khan, Jon Sandler and Luke Moellman—who met through a friend in common—have been deftly mixing disco, pop and synths as the Brooklyn electronic duo Great Good Fine OK (above, performing “Always” live for Baeble Music) since forming in 2013. Their newest EP, III (stream it below), arrived just after the start of the New Year. And they’re finally back in their hometown this week for a pair of shows, tomorrow at Rough Trade NYC and then at The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night. Soulful singer-songwriter Morgxn opens each performance.


Ahead of New Album, Fenech-Soler Play Mercury Lounge Tonight

January 25th, 2017

Influenced by Michael Jackson’s Dangerous, Ben Duffy (vocals), Ross Duffy (guitar), Daniel Soler (bass and keys) and Andrew Lindsay (percussion) formed the English electropop band Fenech-Soler more than 10 years ago, making music in the vein of Klaxons, Two Door Cinema Club and Friendly Fires. They’ve already released two full-lengths, including 2013’s Rituals (stream it below). And while Soler and Lindsay have since amicably departed, the band continues on with the Duffy brothers, releasing the EP Kaleidoscope (stream it below), with “a slick new synthpop sound,” last year. A third long-player, Zilla, comes out next week, but you won’t have to wait that long to hear new tunes from Fenech-Soler (above, performng “Kaleidoscope” live) because they play Mercury Lounge tonight. Brooklyn’s Glassio open the show.


Surf’s Up with La Luz at The Bowery Ballroom

August 31st, 2015

La Luz – The Bowery Ballroom – August 29, 2015

As the tail end of the summer is upon us, the Seattle-based surf-rock outfit La Luz rolled into New York City with their latest album, Weirdo Shrine, produced by Ty Segall. The gals’ sound harkens back to ’50s and ’60s doo-wop groups—like the Shangri-La’s and the Shirelles—distorted against fuzzy guitars. The perfect soundtrack for end-of-summer lazing around the beach or a backyard BBQ. It’s well told that the group had a near-fatal car collision on the highway while touring in 2013. That experience seems to have darkened their music a bit, and no doubt Segall’s production amplified its resonance. The quartet hit the deck of The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night and launched beach balls into the crowd before commencing with a pair from their recent effort, “Sleep Till They Die” and “You Disappear.” With keyboardist Alice Sandahl and bassist Lena Simon harmonizing with lead Shana Cleveland, “Call Me in the Day” was a perfect shoop-shoop ditty that had onlookers bobbing along to the sway of their lilting voices.

In honor of the supermoon, Cleveland howled several times and later conferred with her bandmates to note the momentous celestial phenomenon with something special. In true Seattle rock tradition, the frontwoman requested the audience to form a crowd-surfing line as several fashionistas took turns going down the runway. The evening continued with choice tunes, as Simon’s bass opened “With Davey” and a trail of ooo-wahs soothed on “Damp Face.” A request to activate the disco ball on the morose lullaby “What Good Am I” wasn’t granted, however the virtual supermoon for the evening illuminated the night. Playing new material, Cleveland noted “Believe My Eyes” was a recent release on a split 7″ with openers Scully. Along with the lunar event, Simon paid homage to Michael Jackson’s birthday with the first few basslines of “Billie Jean.” Folks were hoping for a cover but instead were offered fave “Big Big Blood.” The ladies happily returned for an encore of “Clear Night Sky” and “Brainwash.” The yelps on the last song punctuated the evening’s close, leaving nothing more to be desired except maybe some sand and surf. —Sharlene Chiu


The Underrated Ours Play The Bowery Ballroom Tonight

December 6th, 2013

Nearly 20 years ago New Jersey native Jimmy Gnecco formed the alternative-rock group Ours. Since then he’s remained the lone constant, performing and recording with a rotating lineup of musicians. The band’s debut, produced by Steve Lillywhite, Distorted Lullabies, came out in 2001, earning comparisons to Jeff Buckley, and a follow-up, Precious, arrived 18 months later. Then Ours (above, performing “Been Down”) spent several years recording with Rick Rubin for what would be released in 2008 as Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy. But Gnecco and Co. returned earlier this year with their fourth LP, the Michael Jackson– and Motown-influenced Ballet the Boxer 1 (stream it below). Catch the final stop on their current tour, along with the Ludlow Thieves and Madame Mayhem, tonight at The Bowery Ballroom.


Laura Mvula Sells Out Music Hall of Williamsburg

September 5th, 2013

Laura Mvula – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 4, 2013

Neo-soul songstress Laura Mvula has quietly made a name for herself across the pond, but she’s recently found admirers Stateside, including NPR’s Stephen Thompson. He wrote, “The U.K. singer’s sonic ambition is boundless: Her intricately layered songs straddle genres, locations and eras in ways that sound entirely original.” If you’re a fan of Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu, Mvula should have already filed into your Spotify queue. Her classical training allows her to mold every inflection into a timeless voice that seems to effortlessly narrate romantic epics. She’s the like the James Earl Jones of song telling.

With an introduction of “Like the Morning Dew,” Mvula descended upon the Music Hall of Williamsburg stage last night dressed in a long hooded army green anorak. Armed with a trio of strings, drummer and a harpist, the Brit’s choral-like arrangements filled the cozy venue. She admitted the last time she was there was to see Michael Kiwanuka. Not bad company to keep with their similar soulful repertoire. Mvula kicked off her white heels, performing “Is There Anybody Out There” barefoot before smoothly making the transition into Bob Marley’s “One Love,” with the crowd immediately joining in on the chorus.

Oddly, her delivery of “Sing to the Moon” reminded me of an unrelated artist, Lana Del Rey. Mvula proceeded to perform “Diamonds” and “Father, Father” solo to a completely enamored audience. It was so quiet that only the rustling of the air conditioner could be heard before, picking up the tempo and mood, Mvula got the crowd clapping along to the upbeat “Green Garden.” As though the end were flipped to the beginning of the set, the crescendo-heavy opening of “Make Me Lovely” was worthy of a Bond-film title sequence. Unprepared for an encore, Mvula and her brother, James Douglas, on cello delighted fans with a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.” While singing “Reaching out/ To touch a stranger,” she received a bouquet of flowers from a fan front and center. It’s safe to say they won’t be her last floral brava. —Sharlene Chiu




Garbage Play The Wellmont Theatre Tomorrow Night

March 19th, 2013

Butch Vig became a producing superstar when Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind, knocked Michael Jackson from the top of the charts and went on to capture the zeitgeist of the early ’90s. But he wasn’t just interested producing music. Vig (drums) also wanted to play it. And to that end, he teamed up with fellow producers and multi-instrumentalists Duke Erikson (bass) and Steve Marker (guitar) to form Garbage, even before they added Scottish singer Shirley Manson to the mix. The band entered the mainstream with the 1995 release of a self-titled album, with hits like “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains.” The quartet steadily released more music (another three LPs) and toured through 2005, and then following an 18-month hiatus, returned to play a benefit show in early 2007. But it took another three years or so for Garbage (above, playing “Stupid Girl” for KROQ FM) to return to the studio to work on Not Your Kind of People (stream it below), which finally came out last May. The band is now out on the road, and you can see them play The Wellmont Theatre tomorrow night.

(Friday’s show at Terminal5 is sold out.)


Imaginative Pop with a Disco Swagger Tonight at Music Hall

March 4th, 2013

Influenced by the likes of David Bowie, Michael Jackson and the Flaming Lips, London quintet Citizens! make the kind of shimmery, catchy music that calls to mind Hot Chip and Franz Ferdinand. So it should come as no surprise that Franz frontman Alex Kapranos, who’d heard some of the band’s demos, produced their debut album, last year’s Here We Are (stream it below). “There are only three or four bands a decade that really matter. Citizens! sound like one of them to me,” says Kapranos of singer Tom Burke, keyboardist Lawrence Diamond, drummer Michael Evans, bassist Martyn Richmond and guitarist Tom Rhoades. “They do something you haven’t heard before, yet you feel they’ve always been in your life.” Experience just what he’s talking about tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg when Citzens! (above, performing “True Romance” for Converse) come to Brooklyn as part of their North American tour.


Robert Randolph Feels the Love

November 21st, 2012

Robert Randoph & the Family Band – Brooklyn Bowl – November 20, 2012

You’d be hard pressed to find a more likeable act than Robert Randolph & the Family Band. It’s not just the fact that a large chunk of the group comes from the same family as the supremely talented pedal-steel guitarist—it’s that Randolph’s music is just so damn eclectic. In the artist notes on his Web site, Randolph called his latest record, We Walk This Road, “…a celebration of African-American music over the past 100 years….” In truth, it showcases his signature fusion of gospel, soul, funk and blues. But it’s clear that there’s a hefty helping of sonic diversity in the mix. Last night at Brooklyn Bowl, along with covers of songs by preeminent black artists like Bill Withers (“Use Me”) and Michael Jackson (“Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough”), the group jammed on selections from legendary white rockers like Bob Dylan (“Maggie’s Farm”) and Led Zeppelin (“Whole Lotta Love”).

To hammer in the point further, the band invited Marc Roberge, from frat-boy favorite O.A.R., to pop onstage for a few songs. It’s this ability to integrate a variety of musical influences that underscores Randolph’s likeability. The second—and equally important— piece of the puzzle is Randolph’s unbelievably energetic show. He slowly hooked in the crowd with his virtuosity, beginning the night teasing his signature licks by playing them in short bursts and then finishing up the set with prolonged, heavily climactic solos. “Can I get a witness!” he screamed to the delighted audience after one particularly uplifting jam.

As it turns out, Randolph had no trouble doing that at all. Halfway through the set, one incredibly bold woman climbed onstage to display her dancing ability. (Quick note: She didn’t come anywhere close to vocalist Lenesha Randolph’s kinetic prowess.) And in a matter of seconds, 12 or so women were strutting their stuff in front of hundreds of delighted fans. After the song ended and people returned to the status quo, two of the interlopers planted big, grateful kisses on Randolph’s cheek. It was a fitting symbol of the crowd’s collective love for the band. —Alex Kapelman

(Robert Randolph & the Family Band play Brooklyn Bowl tonight, Friday and Saturday.)