Tag Archives: R.E.M.


Fischerspooner Debut New Music on Friday Night at Brooklyn Steel

October 26th, 2017

Classically trained musician Warren Fischer teamed up with video artist turned experimental-theater performer Casey Spooner to form the New Wave/electronic-pop duo Fischerspooner, emerging from the downtown New York City art scene nearly two decades agos. Ultimately the band would grow into an over-the-top performance troupe—including countless dancers and guest vocalists—and become known for their own take on electroclash and dramatic, glam live performances. According to Interview magazine, they “revolutionized electronic music, amplifying it to arena-blasting levels while also managing to keep it personal, passionate and dark.” Their debut full-length, the aptly titled #1 (stream it below), arrived in 2002, led by the smash single “Emerge” (above, live). “Fischerspooner prove themselves to be as talented working studio boards as they are at staging those Ziggy Stardust–style freakouts,” said AllMusic. “Remarkably varied, lush and fascinating from start to finish, #1 is a great album.”

Their follow-up, Odyssey (stream it below), more synth-pop than electroclash, came out in 2005. “Odyssey helps move Fischerspooner into the territory of their progenitors—the musically pop realm dominated by Erasure and Pet Shop Boys,” according to PopMatters. Fischerspooner’s third LP, Entertainment (stream it below), written over a two-year period, dropped in 2009. Afterward, Fischer and Spooner each went his own way … for a while. Fischerspooner are now back in a big way, with several multimedia projects and their fourth studio effort, the Michael Stipe–produced Sirwhich according to Interview, is “so catchy and dance-inducing it takes a second to realize that some of its lyrics tell private stories”—due early next year. Kick off Halloween early when Fischerspooner debut the new songs from their forthcoming album at Brooklyn Steel tomorrow night. Hometown duo the Carry Nation open the show.


Patti Smith Celebrates and Pays Tribute at SummerStage on Thursday

September 15th, 2017

Patti Smith and Her Band – SummerStage – September 14, 2017

“Most of these songs I wrote for Fred, with Fred or about Fred,” said Patti Smith last night on Central Park’s SummerStage. It would have been the 69th birthday of Fred “Sonic” Smith, Patti’s late husband and the father of her two children, Jackson Smith and Jesse Paris Smith. Patti Smith has been part of New York City royalty for decades now, her role in the art world, contributions to music and writing, her ability to find herself by chance in the midst of history’s cool and famous since she first stepped foot here in the late ’60s. But the intimate knowledge of her personal life is relatively recent news for her fans. Smith’s memoirs, Just Kids and M Train, share stories about the love and loss of her best friend, Robert Mapplethorpe, and her husband. They also let in the world on the person behind the art, her uncanny ability to find the sacred in everything and even just a good cup of coffee in a local diner. Knowing this is how she experiences the world made a noteworthy performance to honor and remember her late husband all the more special and intimate.

With her son on guitar and daughter on keyboards, Smith played through a catalog inspired by or written with her husband, gone since 1994 but an inspiration ever since. “Fred, this is the product of many day dreams,” she said as an introduction to “Because the Night” (written with Bruce Springsteen). Smith shared how “Looking For You (I Was)” was penned for their anniversary, a love song written for the city of Detroit, her home in the early years of her married life, written while she was in NYC. The show was full of memorials for others, too. Smith dedicated “Ghost Dance” to the activists who took a stand at Standing Rock; “Dancing Barefoot” to Amy Winehouse, who would have turned 34 on Thursday; “Peaceable Kingdom,” to Hüsker Dü’s Grant Hart, who passed away earlier in the day; “Pissing in a River” dedicated to legendary writer Sam Shepard, a close friend who passed away earlier this year. Despite all of these memorials, the performance never stopped feeling like a celebration. Messages sprinkled throughout were delivered with a sense of urgency: “We are free!” and “The people have the power!” Later, triumphantly holding aloft her guitar, Smith yelled, “This is the only fucking weapon we need!”

These are the messages Patti Smith was born to spread. Joined by her now adult children, she  took some moments to try to embarrass them a little, noting her daughter’s willingness to always give her mom her bobby pins. She’s also still wickedly funny, ending some stage banter with: “What am I talking about? I just turned 70. You know when you turn 70 your mind works … in mysterious ways.” But she remains the no-bullshit punk rocker she always was, bringing out the rock and roll animal inside her to dominate the stage for the set-closing “Land.” Even when performing other people’s songs, like Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” the message felt as much hers as theirs. R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, a longtime fan and friend, joined Smith to sing happy birthday to Fred and also to close the show with “People Have the Power.” It was a perfect way to end a night that remembered a powerful artist and reminded everyone there of the most powerful message of all—delivered by the woman he loved. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Silvia Saponaro | www.saponarophotography.com


Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 (Including Peter Buck) Tomorrow

April 25th, 2013

Singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock got his start in music while attending art school in early ’70s London. He played with several bands, including the Soft Boys, before launching a solo career with 1981’s Black Snake Diamond Röle. But Hitchcock didn’t decide to strictly go it alone, because following the release of two more solo albums, he formed the Egyptians, with whom, over the course of a 10 years, he put out a host of LPs, EPs and live recordings. And although somewhere along the way Hitchcock picked up the reputation for being an eccentric, he also earned comparisons to Bob Dylan (for his lyrics and deep repertoire) and John Lennon and Syd Barrett (for his voice). For the past decade or so, Hitchcock, known for his onstage storytelling, has been busy collaborating with others, doing the folkish Spooked with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and then three albums with the Venus 3—R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on guitar, Young Fresh Fellows’ Scott McCaughey on bass and Ministry’s Bill Rieflin on drums. Backing him with layered harmonies and jangly guitars, the Venus 3 bring out the best in Hitchock (above, doing
“Up to Our Nex” for Spain’s FIB). And you’d be silly to miss them—with Peter Buck opening—tomorrow night at Webster Hall.