Tag Archives: Run the Jewels
Back in 2015, saxophonist extraordinaire Kamasi Washington (above, performing “Re Run” live in studio for KEXP FM) put out the aptly named triple album The Epic (stream it below) to universal acclaim—becoming one of the hottest jazz musicians on earth in the process. He’s since toured the world and then returned this past September with the impressive EP Harmony of Difference (stream it below). Now out on the road, crisscrossing America’s highways and byways, Washington, with pedal-steel virtuoso Robert Randolph as a special guest, plays Terminal 5 next Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving. (Local favorites—and feisty live performers—Break Science open the show.) Last weekend, Washington (below, doing “The Next Step” live for Paste Studios) rang up The House List from Cleveland to answer Five Questions.
As a touring musician do you notice if your music is received any differently in New York city than it is elsewhere? I feel like the response has been pretty universal for me, but I’ve always gotten a lot of love in New York, which is a huge honor because you see everything there. And it humbles me every time. New York has an energy that’s unlike any place in the world. There’s just so much going on that you get supercharged.
Once material is recorded, does it stay that way permanently? Or as you play songs live do they continue to stretch and grow? They stretch and grow and change every night, basically. The recording is the version I heard in my head. It’s the definitive version, but live we do it different every time.
As a jazz musician, you appear at nontraditional venues and you’ve played huge festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. Was this part of your plan all along to cross over? Or has it just been a natural progression of where your music’s taken you? It’s where my music naturally wants to live. It’s definitely rooted in jazz. It’s my foundation. But there’s lots of other kinds of music in there. And it doesn’t really fit into one box very well. We definitely still play jazz clubs, but it’s natural to jump to different kinds of clubs and audiences—different experiences, sitting down in one place and standing in another. It’s options: Every day do something different.
You’ve appeared on albums by Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels and, back in the day, Ryan Adams. Is that something you’re still looking to do? And now that you’ve made such a name for yourself is there any chance you’d look for some of them to appear on your albums? Yeah, man. I’m always open to adding people to my music and I still love working with other artists. But I’m enjoying focusing on my own music and collaborating with my friends. I always leave it up to the music. The music dictates to me what to do with it. If it feels like it needs this or that, I’ll try to get it. But I never try to force it.
For someone who’s never seen you perform before, how would you describe a live Kamasi Washington show? It’s different every time. I try to connect to the room and the vibe, a journey we all go on together. I hope what it feels like is very inclusive. The music connects us and we all push the night in the same direction. And by the end we’re all together in one place. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog
Tags: Adam Deitch, Borham Lee, Break Science, Five Questions, Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Live Music, Music, New York City, Preview, Robert Randolph, Run the Jewels, Ryan Adams, Terminal 5
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Run the Jewels – Terminal 5 – February 25, 2017
While New York City was sweating out some of the hottest days on record for a February, on Saturday night, Run the Jewels kicked off their takeover of the city at Terminal 5, the first of four shows in the city El-P calls home. By now you should be well familiar with the group, the greatest buddy rap duo spitting rhymes poised to save the world from the guy with a “bad toupee and a spray tan.” Everyone in the crowd was ready for the takeover, losing their minds to the opening bars of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” as Killer Mike and El-P came to the stage. When the bass dropped in opener “Talk to Me,” it was powerful enough to bounce the crowd up off the vibrating floorboards. “Legend Has It” welcomed thousands of “RTJ” chants, raised finger pistols and fists.
An extra bass-y rendition of “Call Ticketron” had Mike and El-P running around, crisscrossing each other center stage and passing off their verses like a baton. “I’ve been imagining being here with family and friends all tour,” said El-P, nearly choked up. His mother was there for the night, no doubt proud of her son as he pantomimed lines like “You can run backward through a field of dicks” off “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry.” But it was Gangsta Boo who had both Mike and El blushing, coming out to absolutely murder her potty-mouthed verses on “Love Again (Akinyele Back).” She had the crowd chanting “pussy power” before returning the stage to Run the Jewels. “She makes me uncomfortable every night,” said El-P, adding, “I’m so ready to elect Gangsta Boo for President of the United States of America. At least she’s truthful!” Some thoughts were then shared on the current president as El-P introduced the charged “Lie, Cheat, Steal.”
The set ended with the song that began it all, “Run the Jewels.” Killer Mike retold the group’s story, meeting in El-P’s Brooklyn to record his own album, R.A.P. Music, and becoming inseparable ever since. “You done good, Ma,” exclaimed Mike, his arm around El-P. They returned to perform an encore of “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” and “Down,” a song about challenges conquered and overcome. The night must have felt like a victory lap for the duo, a return to where it all started just a few years ago, having since taken over the world. Don’t expect them to slow down anytime soon because rappers who speak truth to power are needed now more than ever. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks
Tags: Dan Rickershauser, EL-P, Gangsta Boo, Jeremy Ross, Killer Mike, Live Music, Music, New York City, Photos, Queen, R.A.P. Music, Review, Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 3, Terminal 5
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Following the release of Run the Jewels 3, Run the Jewels do Terminal 5 4, playing the venue Saturday, Sunday, Monday and then Wednesday 3/1. Tickets still remain for their last show but the other three are already sold out. And to that end, The House List is giving away two tickets to see El-P and Killer Mike on Saturday night. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Run the Jewels, 2/25) and a brief message explaining your favorite song on the new album. Eddie Bruiser, who’s been listening to it all the way through nonstop, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.
Tags: Contest, Eddie Bruiser, EL-P, Free Tickets, Grow a Pair, Jaime Meline, Killer Mike, Live Music, Mike Bigga, Music, New York City, Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 3, Terminal 5
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Autolux – The Bowery Ballroom – April 5, 2016
Releasing an album once every six years is a great way to keep your band under the radar. Intentionally or not, this has been Autolux’s approach since 2004, and the easiest answer to the question “Why isn’t this band bigger? They’re so good!” The six-year album cycle also allows them to evolve their sound considerably between releases. This year marks the release of their third album, Pussy’s Dead, produced by Run the Jewels collaborator Boots, and it’s easily their most experimental to date. If there’s one big takeaway from the LP, it’s that Carla Azar is one hell of a drummer. And if listening to the album doesn’t drive the point home, seeing Autolux live certainly will.
Their setup at The Bowery Ballroom last night reflected this, with Azar—center stage between Eugene Goreshter (bass) and Greg Edwards (guitar)—wearing bright pink, against a backdrop of black-and-white visuals. She was the only band member wearing color (or in the venue for that matter, New Yorkers really aren’t big on wearing bright colors). The show kicked off with her standing, singing “Soft Scene,” before sitting down and drumming her way into the beat. The group worked within some complex rhythms, and Azar commanded them with ease, holding her drumsticks in the seldom seen traditional grip and never appearing all that challenged by the shifting time signatures.
Autolux are big on contrast, all three band members singing in a tender way with voices that can slip through the cracks of some seriously noisy instrumentals. “Subzero Fun” could pass as a hook-filled pop song without its menacing, dissonant snarl. Their set ended with “Blanket,” which sideswipes you with its bursts of intensity, before keeping things there with an extended noisy jam at the intensity high-water mark. Autolux’s encore featured the crowd-pleasing riffs of “Turnstile Blues,” and then the show ended much like it had begun, with just Azar onstage, drumming out the last bars of “Reappearing.”
—Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks
Tags: Autolux, Boots, Bowery Ballroom, Carla Azar, Dan Rickershauser, Eugene Goreshter, Greg Edwards, Lower East Side, New York City, Pat Tabb, Photos, Pussy’s Dead, Review, Run the Jewels
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My Top Five Favorite Shows
1. The Postal Service, Barclay Center, June 14
My decade-belated live date with the Postal Service finally culminated at Barclays Center, where rabid fans, like myself, roared as Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello hit the stage. As if acting out lyrics from “Nothing Better,” Gibbard and Jenny Lewis shimmied close for the duet. Old friends reunited onstage never felt so good.
2. Haim, Webster Hall, September 3
I was late to this bandwagon, as fellow House List contributor Alex Kapelman shortlisted Haim last year for his Top Five Bowery Presents Shows of the Year. I knew I was in for a good one when I could barely find a spot in the rafters to catch the three sisters, who charmed with their onstage banter and wicked musicianship
3. Jessie Ware, The Bowery Ballroom, January 17
Straight off her Jimmy Fallon taping backed by the Roots, the British songstress elated the crowd with her effortless, down-to-earth stage demeanor. Her star quickly rose with American audiences, as she sold out shows at Webster Hall, Music Hall of Williamsburg and Irving Plaza throughout the year. I was glad to have caught her earlier in the more intimate venue.
4. Basia Bulat, Bowery Ballroom, November 23
I’ve been a fan of Basia Bulat since I heard her cover Sam Cooke’s “Touch the Hem of His Garment.” This show on a cold night wasn’t sold out, which made me a little sad since she’s quite the talent. But those who were there were enraptured by her prowess on autoharp to the point that you could hear a pin drop during her solos.
5. Daughter, Bowery Ballroom, April 30
Somehow Elena Tonra manages to disguise heartbreak behind soulful lyrics and melody. She has a knack for turning happy dance songs into somber endeavors. The band mashed-up Bon Iver and Hot Chip’s “Perth/Ready for the Floor” that evening. Check out Tonra’s somber retake of Daft Punk’s hit “Get Lucky” for further proof. —Sharlene Chiu
My Top Five Shows I Never Thought I Would See
1. Desaparecidos, Webster Hall, February 26
Desaparecidos (and really any Conor Oberst project) were my bread and butter back in the early aughts, and for a while they seemed to be a one-off, a politically minded side project firmly planted in the past. Fortunately (and unfortunately) the global state of affairs remains messed up enough for the band to regroup to write protest songs for a new decade. It was a nostalgic, sweaty and inspired performance.
2. Shuggie Otis, Music Hall of Williamsburg, April 19
Shuggie Otis began putting out music in the mid-’70s, followed by a long period of laying low. Content to groove along to songs like “Ice Cold Daydream” at home, I never really thought about the possibility of a Shuggie Otis tour in 2013. But when I found out, I was there. And “Ice Cold Daydream” is even better in person.
3. The Flamin’ Groovies, The Bowery Ballroom, July 6
Instead of discovering the Flamin’ Groovies in a smoky San Fran club in the ’60s, I was introduced to their catchy psychedelia on a Nuggets compilation more than 30 years later. Who’d have thought they’d still be going strong in 2013 and that I’d be dancing right alongside some old school fans at this fun summer show.
4. John Prine, Beacon Theatre, September 26
John Prine has been active since the early ’70s, but unlike Shuggie Otis, he never really went away, writing and recording songs at a steady pace throughout the years. But I still always thought of him as an artist too legendary for me to see in person—or that tickets would be too out of reach. But John Prine put on an amazing show, highlighting his singular skills as a songwriter and storyteller.
5. The Julie Ruin, Music Hall of Williamsburg, October 25
I was late to the party for the original riot-grrl movement, but I became an admirer of Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna during her time in Le Tigre. She’s dealt with some debilitating health issues in the past few years, but I had no doubt she’d continue to make art and music. So I was happy to learn of her latest project, the Julie Ruin, and her energetic show did not disappoint. —Alena Kastin
My Top Five Shows
1. Yo La Tengo, Town Hall, February 16
I don’t like to pick a favorite, but my last.fm account tells me I’ve listened to Yo La Tengo more than any other band since 2007. At Town Hall, they performed an acoustic set and an electronic one, doing two versions of “Ohm,” my favorite song of the year. And then I ran into Tim Heidecker from Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! Had the Red Sox not won the World Series, this would’ve been my favorite night of the year.
2. Killer Mike/El-P, Webster Hall, August 14
I don’t care what anyone says: The best two rap albums of 2012 came from Killer Mike and El-P. And in 2013 they topped them, coming together as one entity, Run the Jewels. The night included a set from El-P, a set from Killer Mike and a combined set with both. El-P’s ingenious production plus Killer “I bleed charisma” Mike equals one concert I will never forget.
3. Foxygen, The Bowery Ballroom, October 21
With Foxygen it occasionally feels like shit could fall apart at any moment. And sometimes it does. But when their shows don’t come unhinged they deliver that sweet thrill of relief, like narrowly avoiding a car crash. And on this Halloween-themed night, the band made a weird show even weirder with homemade costumes and pseudo spooky vibes.
4. Steve Earle, Music Hall of Williamsburg, May 8
You can just tell some people are genuine, and Steve Earle is certainly one of them. Forever wearing his heart on his sleeve, that same energy bleeds right into his music, which he played alongside what he’s calling “the best band he’s ever had.”
5. Meat Puppets, Mercury Lounge, April 4
Not only are the Meat Puppets still kicking (after living through some serious shit), but also they’re thriving. And as much as I respect their legacy, seeing them play for more than two hours with the intensity you’d expect of a band 20 years their junior makes me respect them that much more. Long live the puppets of meat! —Dan Rickershauser
My Top Five Shows
1. Dessa, Union Hall, May 5
There are few performers I feel can move mountains with their vocal chords, and Dessa is one of them. This performance was an eruption of defiant lyrics and bold beats. A sizable crowd of young girls knew all of her lyrics, giving the show a chant-like feel. The only female member of Minnesota’s Doomtree collective practically vibrates with energy, and it’s completely contagious.
2. Kishi Bashi, Irving Plaza, September 12
Kishi Bashi sounds even better live than he does recorded. And he delivered a dazzling set with profuse vocal looping and an excellent backing band. Kauro Ishibashi has a supercharged, effusive aura, and his music embodies that persona. This set took a rowdy turn that involved crowd surfing, strobe lights and an outright jam session.
3. Panama Wedding, CMJ Music Marathon
I happened upon newcomers Panama Wedding three different times during CMJ: Initially, opening for NONONO at Mercury Lounge on the first night. Since the band had only released one song, “All of the People,” I was eager to see what would unfold onstage. Their set was so tight that I caught the fantastical pop group the following night at Pianos and then again at a showcase at Santos Party House.
4. You Won’t, Rockwood Music Hall, October 30
The live iteration of You Won’t is a spectacle to behold. I watched eagerly as Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri wielded a slew of instruments with ease, quickly fascinating the audience. The duo took their jaunty music into the audience a couple of times to break the barrier and enlisted some extra vocal support by encouraging us to all to sing along.
5. James Blake, Terminal 5, November 6
In this spellbinding live performance, complete with plenty of vocal looping and haunting electronica, James Blake made a cavernous room filled with people feel intimate. And that he’s such a dapper-looking fellow only helps boost his appeal. I’m still transfixed by this performance nearly two months later. James Blake’s music has some serious lasting effects. —Schuyler Rooth
My Top Five Shows with Regard to Lights, Visuals and Production
1. Umphrey’s McGee, Brooklyn Bowl, January 20
Kick-ass creative lighting and Brooklyn Bowl don’t usually go hand in hand, but Umphrey’s McGee lighting guru Jefferson Waful turned the room into a thing of beauty.
3. Plaza: Portugal. The Man, Irving Plaza, May 20
4. The Flaming Lips/Tame Impala, Terminal 5, October 1
It was almost as fascinating to watch the Lips’ spectacle getting set up as it was to see it in action—confetti, strobes, LEDs and, well, pretty much everything. And Tame Impala’s projections were no slouch either.
My Top Five Albums
1. Phosphorescent, Muchacho
I’d only seen Phosphorescent once before listening to Muchacho for the first time. And while much of Matthew Houck’s previous work is country-tinged (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this album, ostensibly about a breakup, covers more territory, from the meditative sounds of “Sun, Arise (An Invocation, an Introduction)” and “Sun’s Arising (A Koan, an Exit)” to the jammy, driving “Ride On/Right On” to softer fare, like “Muchacho’s Tune,” all centered on Houck’s evocative voice. I still can’t stop listening to it.
2. Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Foxygen’s third full-length, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, comes off as a loving mash note to ’70s rock. You’ll hear bits of the Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground and David Bowie, but the album expertly manages to sound like something whole and new rather than something derivative.
3. White Denim, Corsicana Lemonade
Upon the first couple of listens, I found White Denim’s latest, Corsicana Lemonade, to be too singer-songwriter-y, but I continued to give it a chance, and it opened up to something much bigger, with genre-hopping songs like “Let It Feel Good (My Eagles)” and “Pretty Green”—not to mention some searing guitar parts—grabbing me by the throat.
4. Futurebirds, Baba Yaga
Admittedly, I didn’t know anything about Futurebirds, out of Athens, Ga., before writing a preview of their late-May show at The Bowery Ballroom. But while listening to their second LP, Baba Yaga, as I wrote, I became totally enamored of the album—half twangy Southern rock and half spacey reverb.
5. Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze
I love Kurt Vile’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze so much, that I can’t believe it’s only No. 5. Labeling it stoner rock, as many have done, is lazy. Although I supposed me calling it laid-back rock isn’t any better. But the fact of the matter is there might not ever be a better album to listen to while walking the streets of New York City with headphones in your ears. —R. Zizmor
Tags: Barclays Center, Basia Bulat, Beacon Theatre, Ben Gibbard, Bikini Kill, Bon Iver, Bowery Ballroom, Brooklyn Bowl, Chris Kuroda, CMJ, Conor Oberst, Daft Punk, Daughter, David Bowie, Desaparecidos, Dessa, Doomtree, Drippy Eye, EL-P, Elena Tonra, End-of-Year Recap, Flamin’ Groovies, Flaming Lips, Föllakzoid, Foxygen, Haim, Hot Chip, James Blake, Jefferson Waful, Jenny Lewis, Jessie Ware, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Tamborello, John Prine, Josh Arnoudse, Kathleen Hanna, Kauro Ishibashi, Killer Mike, Kishi Bashi, Le Tigre, Matthew Hock, Meat Puppets, Mercury Lounge, Muchacho, Music Hall of Williamsburg, NONONO, Panama Wedding, Phish, Phosphorescent, Portugal. The Man, Postal Service, Raky Sastri, Review, Rolling Stones, Run the Jewels, Sam Cooke, Shuggie Otis, Steve Earle, Tame Impala, Terminal 5, the Holydrug Couple, the Julie Ruin, the Roots, Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show: Great Job!, Tim Heidecker, Town Hall, Umphrey's McGee, Velvet Underground, Webster Hall, Yo La Tengo, You Won’t
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EL-P and Killer Mike – Webster Hall – August 14, 2013
Any Best Albums of 2012 list that didn’t include Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music or EL-P’s Cancer 4 Cure isn’t to be taken seriously. There’s simply no denying the greatness of either album, in a large part due to the duo collaborating on them. To follow that up, this year Killer Mike and EL-P dropped a totally free self-titled album as Run the Jewels, or as Killer Mike called it, “the best motherfuckin’ tag team in the world.” And it’s a safe bet that this album, too, will be dubbed one of the year’s best, and the five-week tour promoting it that ended last night at Webster Hall couldn’t help but feel like a victory lap.
Killer Mike’s set came first, steamrolling the place with a “Big Beast.” A rap concert is his church and Killer Mike was the preacher. He’s clear about what his expectations are for rap—a message he made obvious in “R.A.P. Music,” which felt like the night’s mission statement. Earlier in his set, he asked of other rappers, “Why the fuck won’t you rap about something other than your goddamned selves?” before doing the politically charged “Reagan,” which Mike rapped almost entirely a cappella. He added some extra punch to the song, turning the choruses into crowd chants of “Fuck Ronald Reagan,” even adding some NYC flavor by tossing out as a final line: “Fuck stop and frisk, I hope Bloomberg heard what I said.” To close, Killer Mike took a few steps into the audience, the rap-concert equivalent of preaching from the pews, delivering the authoritative lines of “God in the Building” directly to crowd members.
For all their combined greatness, Killer Mike and EL-P have some big differences stylistically, something made clear at the start of EL-P’s own set. Beginning with “Drones over Brooklyn,” he delivered every word with such spastic energy it felt like the verses were the result of an exorcism, clutching the microphone stand like it was the only thing keeping him grounded. The night was a homecoming of sorts for the Brooklyn-based rapper, with his mom in attendance for the occasion. EL-P’s set list ran the span of his entire career and even included a brief cover of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” complete with a keytar solo. He closed things with “Stay Down” and then left the stage briefly before returning with Killer Mike as the PA blasted “Bad to the Bone.”
Run the Jewels time! The final set of the night included just about every song off Run the Jewels, with EL-P and Killer Mike trading verses and working the crowd in their little moments of downtime. Donning 36-inch chains, both rappers radiated a sense of reassured confidence other rappers do their best to fake. “Tougher, Colder, Killer” off Cancer 4 Cure brought out Despot for his guest verse, and as the stage slowly filled with the duo’s crew, the show was over in the blink of an eye. The night ended with one giant group hug, a proclamation from EL-P that this was “the most amazing tour I’ve had in my life” and an outpouring of appreciation from the crowd. —Dan Rickershauser
They were each already well known on their own: EL-P (Brooklyn’s Jaime Meline) for his work with Company Flow and solo albums filled with entertainingly dense lyrics over lo-fi but powerful production; and Killer Mike (Michael Render, out of Atlanta) for an association with OutKast and his political, tough-talking Dirty South hardcore rap. But the two teamed up in 2012, EL-P producing Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music (stream it below, top) and the latter guesting on the former’s Cancer for Cure (stream it below, bottom). Fortunately, that was just the beginning. Together they formed Run the Jewels earlier this year and then released a heavily acclaimed (and free download) eponymous full-length. Pitchfork, which gave the album its Best New Music label, declared: “It’s just a distilled take on everything that made last year’s albums such an event, with all the chrome ripped off and upholstery pulled out so it’ll run faster, louder, nastier.” Consequence of Sound weighed in, saying the LP “is the very synthesis of EL-P and Mike’s shared admiration
and cohesive worldviews, an effort of the purest collaboration and mutual understanding. Now, let your heart fill with love and bang your damn head up and down.” EL-P and Killer Mike play Webster Hall tonight.
Tags: Cancer for Cure, Company Flow, EL-P, Fantastic Damage, Jaime Meline, Killer Mike, Michael Render, OutKast, Preview, R.A.P. Music, Run the Jewels, Video, Webster Hall
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