Tag Archives: Pat King

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A Sunday Sing-Along with the Mountain Goats at Brooklyn Steel

November 13th, 2017

The Mountain Goats – Brooklyn Steel – November 12, 2017


John Darnielle might be the hardest-working man in indie rock. This is not to say he comes from the same school as Bruce Springsteen—playing epic four-hour shows every night with sweat soaking through his American flag bandanna. But as the singer-songwriter of the beloved band the Mountain Goats, he’s consistently churned out a thoughtful and varied body of work at such a dependable pace that you might take him for granted. While other prolific artists may have a high volume of toss-away moments in their catalogs, Darnielle’s lyrics have always seemed intensely labored over and essential. Once called “America’s best non-hip-hop lyricist” by The New Yorker, he’s able to cover an impossible amount of ground from verse to verse, all while releasing albums with the band and somehow also managing to write two critically acclaimed novels. How about that for work ethic?

The band’s latest album, Goths, was released this year, and the Mountain Goats’ tour brought them to town for a packed show at Brooklyn Steel on Sunday night. The LP explores Darnielle’s early ’80s teen fascination with this genre in the same way that 2015’s Beat the Champ paid tribute to his heroes of professional wrestling. In pure Mountain Goats fashion: always sincere and never with irony. Mothers, out of Athens, Ga., opened the show with a brief yet powerful set. Afterward, fans roared as Darnielle and Co. walked onstage. Backed by longtime bassist Peter Hughes, multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas and indie-rock drum royalty (and half of the comedy duo Scharpling & Wurster) Jon Wurster, the band leaned heavily on Goths, pulling off the new songs’ complex instrumentation with finesse. As this material is much more layered than the Mountain Goats’ usual bare-bones acoustic-punk material, Darnielle mostly stuck to playing the tunes on a Rhodes keyboard while Douglas would fill in the space with reverbed-out flourishes on either tenor sax or flute, eliciting huge crowd reactions in response. It was a thrill to watch the band gracefully pull off these new tunes live.

Some of the best moments of the night, however, were when Darnielle picked up his acoustic guitar to dust off some of the old sing-alongs from the band’s long career. Songs like “This Year” and “Against Pollution” had everyone at Brooklyn Steel singing in unison with Darnielle as he marched back and forth across the stage like an unplugged Angus Young. For the final number of their second encore, the Mountain Goats played a full-band version of the All Hail West Texas masterpiece “Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton,” with its rallying cry of “Hail Satan” filling the rafters and the hearts of everyone in the room. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

 

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David Bazan Goes Deep at Rough Trade NYC on Thursday

November 10th, 2017

David Bazan – Rough Trade NYC – November 9, 2017


The opening verse of “Magazine” pretty much sums up the inner conflict that singer-songwriter David Bazan—of the beloved indie-rock outfit Pedro the Lion—has been struggling through his entire career. Once an evangelical Christian, he’s challenged his faith with each release in a way that never pulls any punches. After four full-lengths and five EPs, Bazan decided to retire the band name in order to go solo and explore his relationship with faith without the religious baggage his old band carried. Any longtime fan of his songwriting would be able to tell you that his relationship to the church was never an issue. As a lyricist, Bazan has always been able to pull apart the complex equations that everyday people spend their entire lives trying to solve. In the years since Pedro’s demise, he’s remained prolific, releasing albums and singles under his own name as well as launching many different side projects (his group Lo Tom, played Rough Trade NYC over the summer). Last month, Bazan announced that he would be reviving Pedro for a string of reunion shows this winter as well as plans to record and tour again as a working unit.

But before he can get to work on that, Bazan is finishing up promoting his most recent solo album, Care, which brought his tour to Brooklyn to play Rough Trade NYC last night along with singer-songwriter Michael Nau of Page France. Nau set the tone with a short set of laid-back songs accompanied by a lead guitarist, upright bassist and a drum machine that he’d program in between numbers. His material took on a trance-inducing quality that recalled Lambchop at their most ethereal with lyrics that seemed heartbreakinghly personal. Shortly after, Bazan took the stage backed by a three-piece. And for the most part, he and his band kept it “strictly business” as they plowed through material from Care and his 2016 LP, Blanco, with little talking in between songs, aside from a brief intermission when he took questions from the crowd. Both albums had been a slight sonic departure for Bazan, as they each strictly used synths and drum machines—so it was great to hear these songs getting the heavier band treatment live. He delighted the crowd with a few old Pedro songs, like “When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run” and “Penetration,” and even dusted off the old Headphones tune “Gas and Matches.”

For the encore, Bazan took questions for the second time of the night. As expected, most of them had to do with the Pedro reunion, and he was frank and honest with his answers, explaining that the decision was made in order to tour and record music “as a band” again and to bring his music to a much larger audience. For a sometimes frustratingly overlooked force in the world of indie rock, it’s hard to blame him. He also assured the crowd that the Pedro tour would make its way to New York City in the future but would have to keep us in suspense as to when. He and his band then closed with the opening song off of Pedro’s final album, Achilles Heel, “Bands With Managers,” which had everyone singing along in unison. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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Hamilton Leithauser Returns Home to Play Brooklyn Steel

November 2nd, 2017

Hamilton Leithauser – Brooklyn Steel – November 1, 2017


Out of all of the musicians who had made a splash in the turn-of-the-century New York City rock scene you could argue that Hamilton Leithauser has aged more gracefully than the rest of the pack. Once the fiery-eyed frontman of the beloved indie-rock band the Walkmen, he’s made the transition toward more of a classic crooner as a solo artist. After the band went on hiatus in 2013, he released his elegant debut solo album, Black Hours, which owed as much to balladeers from the early ’60s as it did to the Walkmen’s post-punk and garage-rock roots. Things really began to gel on his most recent release, a collaborative album written with former Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij called I Had a Dream That You Were Mine. Every song is a winner and mixes Hamilton’s influences with Rostam’s orchestration and production work effortlessly. Initially, Leithauser’s voice was one of the things that set apart the Walkmen from all of the other indie rock bands of their day. It was a force to reckon with at a packed Brooklyn Steel last night, with fans eager to hear him in all of his ragged power.

There’s a part in the documentary Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? when Monty Python’s Eric Idle compares the late singer’s vocal stylings to the routine of trapeze artists. Nilsson would reach for these death-defying notes and you never knew if he was going to pull them off or fail miserably. When watching Leithauser sing, you can’t help but see him in a similar way. Only with Leithauser, a daredevil jumping a motorcycle over row of burning cars is a more fitting metaphor. When he’s about to belt out some of those death-defying notes, a part of you thinks it might go horribly wrong but he always seems to stick the landing.

Leithauser proved this over and over again on Wednesday. He and his band ran through all of I Had a Dream That You Were Mine and also treated the crowd to a few songs from Black Hours. On the majority of the material, Leithauser would bang out chords on his 12-string acoustic or delicately pick on his nylon-string guitar for the somber ballads. But he really shined when putting them aside in order to play the role of frontman, thanks to his distinct stage presence. Squeezing the microphone like the leader of a hardcore band, head tilted facing the sky, with his other hand either flung back or punching emphatically into the air. Opener Courtney Marie Andrews came out to duet on two songs, I Had a Dream’s beautiful fever dream of a closer, “1959,” and the newly released duet with Angel Olsen, “Heartstruck (Wild Hunger).” Their voices harmonized beautifully, and it was absolutely breathtaking when she took the lead on the latter number.

Leithauser was thankful to be back in Brooklyn and was conversational with the adoring hometown crowd. He treated the room to the piano ballad “Proud Irene,” off of a limited vinyl-only release, Dear God, which Leithauser would personally hand-deliver to people in the neighborhood. As he introduced the song and explained the release, you could tell there were a few people in the front row who had purchased it. For the encore, the band played through his first-ever collaboration with Rostam, “I Retired,” off of Black Hours, which Leithauser claimed was the best recording he’s ever been a part of. The performance ended with I Had a Dream’s “Peaceful Morning” and then a solo cover of Palace Music’s “Trudy Dies.” He then left the cheering crowd with a wave, joyfully exclaiming, “I’m Hamilton Leithauser. I live down the street.” —Pat King | @MrPatKing

 

 

 

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Against Me! Thrill Packed Brooklyn Steel Crowd on Saturday Night

October 16th, 2017

Against Me! – Brooklyn Steel – October 14, 2017


For some, Against Me! are the only band that matters, while in other circles the group hasn’t mattered in more than a decade. In their early days, the Florida four-piece fused folk and punk in a way that put their sound somewhere in between Billy Bragg and Crass. Their 2002 debut, Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose, was filled with scrappy sing-along tunes that promoted far-left politics and an infectious DIY charm that quickly won over the punk scene and influenced countless other acts. Then things began to change: Their 2007 album, New Wave, was a divisive sea change for the band as they jumped from indie label Fat Wreck Chords to the major label Sire Records. The LP paired them with famous producer Butch Vig, who helped them expand upon their sound and buff out the amateurish edge that seemed exciting and dangerous to many of their longtime loyal followers. But for those fans who turned their backs around that period, they have really missed out as Against Me! have come into their own in so many ways.

During that period, singer Laura Jane Grace (previously known as Tom Gabel) had begin to subtly hint in her lyrics that she was suffering from gender dysmorphia—and in the following years, she began to fully transition. This process fueled Grace to write the band’s masterpiece, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, so nakedly honest about her experiences while still rocking with more fury and passion than the band had displayed since their early days. During this time, the original rhythm section left and after some temporary substitutions, drummer Atom Willard and bassist Inge Johansson became permanent members. With these additions, Against Me! have become one the best live bands going. And after touring behind their newest album, Shape Shift with Me, for seven weeks, they brought their well-oiled machine to Brooklyn Steel on Saturday for a life-affirming night of rock and roll.

The room boiled over with a collective joy impossible not to notice as Against Me! blasted into Blues“True Trans Soul Rebel.” The mania in the crowd barely let up as the sea of fans bounced along in unison with crowd-surfers perpetually rolling overhead throughout the set. The band treated fans to a well-balanced mix of material from throughout their career, even busting out some deep cuts from the early days, like an especially heavy rendition of Axl Rose’s “Jordan’s First Choice.” One of the most surprising moments of the main set came as the quartet played a faithful rendition of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” that did the fallen Florida icon proud. Their encore also started with a cover as Grace played a solo rendition of the Mountain Goats classic “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton.” The song’s lines “When you punish a person for living his dream/ Don’t expect him to thank or forgive you” could act as a rallying cry for the resistance and Grace sang it with an intense purpose that sent chills down the spine. As the show came to an end, the band went out with a one-two punch of “Sink, Florida, Sink” and “We Laugh at Danger and Break All the Rules” that had fans singing the words long after the house lights had come on. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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The Brian Jonestown Massacre Deliver What They Do Best in Brooklyn

September 6th, 2017

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Brooklyn Steel – September 5, 2017


Anton Newcombe will go down fighting the good fight. Since 1991 he has maintained a laughably prolific pace of releasing music with his band, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, that’s mined the depths of early-’60s British rock and Haight Ashbury psychedelia. A true believer and uncompromising musical mastermind, Newcombe has remained one of underground music’s biggest cult artists. But all of his acclaim and adoration from fans has been hard won over years of touring the globe and tinkering in the lab. Along the way, he’s built up the reputation of being one of rock’s most eccentric yet volatile personalities. Ondi Timoner’s classic documentary Dig! shows Newcombe both at his most erratic and brilliant. With the release of this year’s Don’t Get Lost, the Brian Jonestown Massacre brought their tour to Brooklyn Steel last night and were welcomed by a packed house of eager fans waiting to see which side of Newcombe they would get. And for those who were lucky enough to purchase tickets, he did not disappoint.

The experimental group Chui Wan, from Beijing, opened the show, easing the crowd into the night with a loose yet moving set of mind-bending textures and cascading melodies. Once they had finished, the stage was quickly turned around for the headliners. Dressed in matching white linen with a long flowing scarf draped around his neck, Newcombe stepped onstage backed by the six-piece band that makes up the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Including Newcombe, there were three guitarists, a bassist, keyboardist, drummer and longtime tambourine player and mascot Joel Gion, whose lackadaisical presence at the center of the stage drew impassioned “Joel, Joel, Joel” chants from the crowd.

For more than two hours, the Brian Jonestown Massacre delivered what they do best. Each song blasted out of the gate with the force of a desert hallucination as the band treated fans to selections from across their massive 17-album catalog. Newcombe was in great spirits throughout, and he took to the microphone for multiple hilarious tangents. “Do you think that Korean guy Lil’ Kim liked the Beatles?” he asked at one point. And then: “Do you think he watched Yellow Submarine as a kid? How could he and the act like this? I don’t get it.” The group mixed in some newer material from over the past decade alongside such fan favorites as “Anemone” and “Servo,” from their classic run in the ’90s. And by the time the Brian Jonestown Massacre put down their vintage teardrop guitars and that last rattle of the tambourine was heard, everyone who had packed into Brooklyn Steel on Tuesday night knew that they had been treated to one of rock and roll’s last great torchbearers. —Pat King |@MrPatKing

Photos courtesy of Adela Loconte | adelaloconte.com

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Liam Gallagher Thrills Intimate Sunday Crowd at Rough Trade NYC

July 31st, 2017

Liam Gallagher – Rough Trade NYC – July 30, 2017

(Photo: Dana Distortion)

It was Sunday afternoon in Williamsburg, and all Liam Gallagher wanted was to buy a pack of cigarettes. It should have been a seamless transaction, right? The most cocksure frontman in rock and roll slowly waddles into a deli, slams his money down and walks back out presumably with a limp smoke barely dangling out of the front of his mouth. But as his Twitter pointed out, things were not so easy for our boy. “I’ve just been told I can’t buy cigs unless I got ID im 4FUKIN4 has the world gone mad,” he proclaimed. Rallying against the world at large has pretty much defined Gallagher’s life after the demise of his once world-dominating band, Oasis.

As the main songwriter, his brother, Noel, was the brains behind the operation, as to where Liam had always personified an area a little farther down South in its figurative anatomy. Aside from getting carded at local bodegas, he was in town this week for two small shows to promote the release of his first ever-solo album, As You Were. The gig Friday night was a secret show at McKittrick Hotel in Manhattan, and his band headed across the river Sunday afternoon to play an in-store at Rough Trade NYC for a small group of fans who had preordered the new record. The tiny back room was packed tight for the 5:30 p.m. show and the air felt heavy with anticipation. The lights went down as the PA blasted the Oasis song “Fuckin’ in the Bushes” (a pretty bold move) and out waltzed Liam Gallagher and his band. Decked out in a parka and athletic shorts with a look of profoundly cool ambivalence, he greeted the hysteric crowd with the shake of his tambourine and launched right into the Oasis classic “Rock ’n’ Roll Star.” He followed that with “Morning Glory,” which had everyone in the room bouncing and shout-singing in unison.

In his age, Gallagher’s voice has become a strong yet weathered instrument—always raggedly on key. After the initial one-two punch, he and his band ripped through some As You Were tracks. Singles like “Wall of Glass” and “Chinatown” had dedicated fans singing along like they were hundreds of yards from the stage viewing the show on a JumboTron. In between new songs, he found time to treat the crowd to some A+ banter. After seeing a guy wearing a Manchester United scarf, Gallagher singled him out, asking, “You wanna hear a joke?” Answering immediately, “Man United. Funniest joke ever.” Fans also came to their hero’s rescue by throwing packs of cigarettes from the crowd. The gesture seemed to be greatly appreciated. To close it out, Gallagher and Co. bookended the set with two more Oasis songs: “Be Here Now” and “Wonderwall.” As he sang the final chorus, Gallagher advised the crowd to “take care of each other” and unplugged the microphone, handing it to a lucky fan in the front row. He then tossed his tambourine to a group of sweaty dudes and walked offstage with the swagger of a tough old rooster. Over at the merch table, they were proudly displaying some Oasis reissues along with the new record. The shirt on sale was one of those designs that was a play on the popular Cards Against Humanity font. You’ve probably seen them, those shirts that list the first names of each member of a band? Liam Gallagher had a few names listed on his shirt as well. But they were all his own:

Liam
John
Paul
Gallagher.

As you were, Liam. —Pat King |@MrPatKing

 

 

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Fleet Foxes Return to Brooklyn This Week for Two Shows

July 31st, 2017

Fleet Foxes really know how to lay it on thick. Well, let me rephrase that: Fleet Foxes (above, performing “Fool’s Errand” for CBS This Morning) really know how to build a song. Ever since their first release, the EP Sun Giant (stream it below), in 2008, they have set the bar with their lush pastoral-folk sound beneath their signature stacked angelic harmonies. The group’s leader and frontman, Robin Pecknold, has remained a true perfectionist in their time as a band. Intensely laboring over the crafting of these intricate tunes, they have only released three full-length albums in almost a decade. Their newest, this year’s Crack-Up (stream it below), was released after a six-year silence, and it’s safe to say that it was well worth the wait. The LP’s dense, vibrant textures act like a tall drink of water for salivating fans who have been craving new material since the band’s last release, 2011’s Helplessness Blues (stream it below). Fleet Foxes bring their tour to the Prospect Park Bandshell for two BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn shows this week that are sure to be epic: tomorrow (which is already sold out) and again on Wednesday. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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Conor Oberst Headlines Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park

July 18th, 2017

What a thrilling ride it’s been to watch Conor Oberst (above, performing “Tachycardia” at the Sydney Opera House) grow up. Beginning his insanely prolific singer-songwriter career, as Bright Eyes, at the ripe age of 13, Oberst’s releases have tested the limits of multiple genres (check out his politically charged punk band Desaparecidos if you need proof) all while strengthening his skills as one of the best lyricists of the past 20 years. And while it might be lazy to throw out the Dylan comparisons, hey, they both grew up in the Midwest. There must be something in the water? Oberst has put out records in the past under his own name accompanied by the Mystic Valley Band, but his 2008 eponymous album (stream it below) was truly his first solo venture. Last year’s Ruminations (stream it below) went further down that path as he stripped down his songs to their ribcages with only Oberst playing guitar, piano and the occasional harmonica. He later released a full-band companion version of that album titled Salutations with Catskill Mountains’ favorite sons the Felice Brothers acting as his backing band. Oberst and the Felice Brothers will bring songs from his entire career to the Prospect Park Bandshell on Thursday for an electrifying night of music. Philly rock royalty Hop Along and Brooklyn’s own Big Thief will open. Show up early so you don’t miss these two great bands for what will be one of the most stacked bills of the summer. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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PJ Harvey Comes to SummerStage in Central Park on Wednesday

July 17th, 2017

PJ Harvey (above, performing “The Community of Hope” live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) has a short fuse leading to a powder keg full of emotion. And for more than two decades, she’s been using this unbridled intensity to astounding effect. With such albums that have withstood the tests of time as Rid of Me (stream it below), Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (stream it below) and Let England Shake (stream it below), Harvey has as rich and rewarding of a catalog as any of her peers. These albums have all earned their right to be called classics and still sound as vibrant and ahead of their time today. Last year’s The Hope Six Demolition Project (stream it below) is no different, with some of Harvey’s most musically adventurous and politically charged material to date. She and her top-notch band will be setting the Central Park SummerStage ablaze this Wednesday with songs from her entire career. Any chance to see Harvey and her band in the flesh is a truly mesmerizing experience. This show is one you should not miss. All hail, Polly Jean Harvey. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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Son Volt Bring a True Sound to The Bowery Ballroom on Friday Night

April 10th, 2017

Son Volt – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2017

Son Volt – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2017
The Bowery Ballroom was packed on Friday night as fans eagerly waited for alt-country pioneers Son Volt to take the stage. Jay Farrar and Co. were in town for two sold-out weekend appearances supporting their new album, Notes of Blue, which finds the band mixing their rough-around-the-edges heartland anthems with a more bluesy sound. Opening the show, singer-songwriter Anders Parker eased the crowd into the night with a set of slow-burning ballads and fiery rockers. He said that a new album called The Man Who Fell from Earth arrives this week, describing it as a somber affair with Parker backed by just a pedal-steel guitar and a string trio. But he and his band opted to put some muscle behind the new material live, suitably spreading out the songs with guitar solos reminiscent of Neil Young in all of his ragged glory.

When Jay Farrar walked onstage and stepped up to the microphone to sing, “Today’s world is not my home” in his whiskey-soaked croon there was no mistaking what he meant. Ever since the dissolution of his partnership with Jeff Tweedy in the seminal alt-country band Uncle Tupelo in the mid-’90s, Farrar has been making records with Son Volt that strive for a similar gold standard: records that seem like they’ve been etched into stone and remain timeless if not out of step with the times. The new album was given the lion’s share of the set, but Son Volt managed to weave in some old favorites including the majority of their classic debut album, Trace, which, two years ago, was reissued for its 20th anniversary.

The band’s encore found them reaching deep for some Tupelo classics and Trace’s opening track, “Windfall,” which inspired the biggest crowd sing-along as the chorus “May the wind take your troubles away” rang crystal clear from the choir of flannel-clad fans raising their drinks toward the sky. Just when we thought it was over, and the audience began to thin out, the band returned to the stage for one more encore and played an exuberant cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Happy.” It was a real cherry on top of an already perfect night of rock and roll. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

Photos courtesy of Marc Millman Photography | www.marcmillmanphotos.com/music