Tag Archives: Willie Nelson


Marlon Williams Brings His Stellar Second Album to Williamsburg

March 26th, 2018

Influenced by bluegrass, country, pop, rock and soul, New Zealand singer-songwriter Marlon Williams (above, performing “Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore” live on KCRW FM) has been making dark, atmospheric Americana music as a genre-spanning solo artist since his self-titled debut LP (stream it below) arrived two winters ago. “The national acclaim he’s had is hardly surprising: It only takes a split-second to be won over by the power of his unusually well-crafted country voice. He recalls the likes of Elvis, and Willie Nelson and Neil Young without aping any of them,” raved Drowned in Sound. While Paste added: “The fact that this record was made in the Aughts and not in the ’60s is mind-boggling. Williams’ voice may as well have time-traveled and spent an extended vacation with classic rock’s finest. It’s an album that leaves you wanting another nine songs so you can hear the end of the ‘story.’” Following a breakup, he returned last month with his second solo studio album, Make Way for Love (stream it below). “Williams explores the full gamut of emotions, and that rich and resonant voice is the perfect vehicle,” said Exclaim. “The result is a stunning work that will draw you back to repeated, if oft intense, listening.” The people at American Songwriter were also impressed: “It’s a bold, eclectic and audacious approach to the bulging catalog of breakup ruminations; one that emerges from the crowded field and shows Marlon Williams’ talents are just beginning to blossom.” In mid-tour form, he rolls into Brooklyn to play Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night. Another New Zealand singer-songwriter, Tiny Ruins, opens the show. (Marlon Williams also opens for Brandi Carlile at the Beacon Theatre 4/5-7.)


It’s the End of the Year as We Know It

December 28th, 2017

With 2018 fast approaching, The House List takes a look back at 2017.

Adela Loconte, Photographer @adelaloconte
Top Five Favorite Shows
At the Drive-In, Terminal 5, March 22
2. Arca & Jesse Kanda Live, Brooklyn Steel, July 6
3. The Flaming Lips, Terminal 5, March 9
4. PJ Harvey, Brooklyn Steel, April 20
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kings Theatre, November 7

Chad Berndtson, Writer @cberndtson
Top Five Favorite Shows
No music fan sees everything, and so much depends on the time, the night, the conditions—my ephemeral joys might be your disappointments. That’s part of the fun, right? Among scores of shows I saw in 2017, here are five nights that stuck with me.
1. Drive By Truckers, The Space at Westbury, February 10
One of the great live bands of the last 20 years has gotten leaner and meaner, unafraid of political jabs or paint-peeler guitar solos.
2. Explosions in the Sky, Capitol Theatre, April 22
Ominous music, loaded with portent, staring into the abyss or looking with a smile at some triumph high in the sky. Heavy, cinematic and deep.
3. Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons, Mercury Lounge, April 30
A master class in old-school, highly emotional rock energy. Still don’t understand why more people don’t know him, 30-plus years into a career of rough-scuffed folk rock delivered sometimes with tenderness and sometimes with Crazy Horse–like abandon.
4. The xx, Forest Hills Stadium, May 19
OK, I’m buying: Hipster as hell, but what they did was paint an outdoor venue in darkly beautiful soundscapes. The most fun I’ve had getting lost in a band in some time. They turn large, unforgiving venues into intimate listening rooms—and get you dancing.
5. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Music Hall of Williamsburg, November 20
Nelson has learned a lot from two musical dads: his actual dad, Willie, and also Neil Young, whom the Promise of the Real have backed on and off for years now. The type of show that defines the word swagger—a generous meal of rock, country, folk, blues and R&B by an old-school showman barely in his prime.

Dan Rickershauser, Writer @d4nricks
Top Five Favorite Albums
Big Thief, Capacity
The one record I found myself returning to again and again. It was a shitty year, but something about this album soothed my sorrows. Adrianne Lenker’s songs feel personal yet completely pull you in. May she never let go.
2. Kendrick Lamar, Damn.
This may be my least favorite Kendrick Lamar record to date and yet it’s still the second best album that came out this year. The man’s a legend and the world seems to know it. It’s a good thing he’s so humble.
3. The War on Drugs, A Deeper Understanding
Adam Granduciel, the obsessive studio wizard, put out another beauty, this record even more gorgeous than the last. It’s the sound of rock perfection from a perfectionist.
4. Waxahatchee, Out in the Storm
Katie Crutchfield’s songwriting just keeps getting better. She comes out of the gates swinging with some dangerously catchy jams.
5. Grizzly Bear, Painted Ruins
Of all the great indie bands of the late Aughts returning with new albums this year, Grizzly Bear’s takes the cake. Way too many critics slept on this one!

Pat King, Writer @mrpatking
Top Five Favorite Albums
1. Jens Lekman, Life Will See You Now
I had never really given Jens Lekman a chance as a songwriter, but this year it finally clicked for me in a big way. I got laid off from a job that I thought I loved early on in 2017 and was feeling pretty lost and listless in life. I was taking the train from the city to upstate New York to help my dad with a few big projects and was feeling incredibly low sitting alone on Metro North. All of the sudden, I heard “To Know Your Mission” and was completely overcome with emotion. It was the perfect tune for me at that time and each song that followed helped me understand my situation a little more clearly. I couldn’t believe how wise and endearing Lekman is as a lyricist.
2. Mark Mulcahy, The Possum in the Driveway
Whenever the discussion veers toward musicians who have not been given their just dues, I always think of Mark Mulcahy. As the frontman of Miracle Legion and the Nickelodeon-sponsored Polaris (“ay-yay-yay-yi, Hey Sandy”), Mulcahy had been known for a certain type of feel-good college jangle pop that was certainly a product of the ’90s. What many people may not realize is that his solo releases have been more emotionally and musically rewarding than either of those old projects, and he’s been one of few artists who each album he releases is better than his last. Over the past couple of decades he has reinvented himself as one of the great American balladeers, with lyrics and a voice that can cut you down to the bone. This year’s the Possum in the Driveway is a brilliant testament to his powers as a songwriter and one that proves he is in a league of his own.
3. Pallbearer, Heartless
Pallbearer have always shown promise of being one the best doom-metal bands around. But with their self-titled third album, they’ve transcended the genre and gelled into one of today’s most exciting rock bands. The songs are slightly shorter (although still around eight minutes) but have somehow intensified their scope in a more epic way. With this LP, Brett Campbell has made his case for being one of the best singers in heavy music. His lines never reach the outrageous heights of some of his peers in metal but bring enough power to stop you in your tracks. The same goes for this record’s instrumentation. The songs never feel like they have too many parts or get played out to the point of metal parody. It’s just a front-to-back banger that finally cemented Pallbearer as one of the best around.
4. Björk, Utopia
There aren’t many artists who you could say are peerless in popular music. Björk is definitely one of those artists. Every time she releases a new album, fans wait with anticipation to see where she if she will be able to clear the bar she set for herself on the one before. Utopia is such a statement as a complete work as she tries to understand and find happiness in her life after exploring decimating heartbreak on her last release, Vulnicura. It’s amazing to hear her reach the same breathtaking heights as a visionary artist this far into her career. Bow down and give respect.
5. Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Hitchcock
Robyn Hitchcock delivered the back-to-basics Soft Boys–style album that many of his fans had been longing for for years. Teaming up with producer (and ex-Raconteur) Brendan Benson, Hitchcock turned up the amps and delivered 10 near-flawless rock songs that reminded us why he is one of the most inventive songwriters around. His wit as a lyricist is still ever-present, but hearing him deliver guitar parts reminiscent of Underwater Moonlight on songs like “I Want to Tell You What I Want” and “Mad Shelley’s Letterbox” was one of the most welcome surprises of 2017 for me.
Pat King’s Top 20 Best of 2017 Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/126049064/playlist/2idgUHVCiGSJqKkwkfex8v?si=wewT–RFRfWWxEVV3rmWsQ.

Sharlene Chiu, Writer
Top Five Favorite Shows with “New” Artists
1. SZA, Brooklyn Steel, December 10

So if you haven’t yet heard of SZA, you won’t be able to escape her name anytime soon. Riding a debut album that has already produced two platinum singles, the singer played a very sold-out Brooklyn Steel the night after performing on SNL. Her vibrant stage presence was supported by the Sing Harlem Choir. Girl’s going places and you’ll see her next year at the Grammy’s, where she’s the most nominated woman with five nods.
2. Maggie Rogers, The Bowery Ballroom, April 11
When a video of Pharrell’s reaction to Ms. Rogers’ demo of “Alaska” went viral, she was on the up-and-up. Her performance at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom was not only a homecoming, but it was also a beginning of bigger stages and larger audiences. She became teary and confessional near the end of the set, reminiscing about the previous times she’d been to the venue as an audience member. After her pair of Bowery shows, she set off on a whirlwind international tour taking her to Europe, Australia and Japan.
3. The Cactus Blossoms, Mercury Lounge, July 12
The first time I caught the Cactus Blossoms’ noir-infused honky-tonk was at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco last year. When I saw they would be playing a late show at Mercury Lounge, I had to be there. Friends, I do not go out late on school nights, but for brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey, I made an exception. Their languid waltzes were the perfect soundtrack for steamy July.
4. Jay Som, Rough Trade NYC, June 6
A triad of Asian-American songwriters, including Mitski, Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som have been self-producing music since last year. The latter rolled into a sold-out Rough Trade NYC to charm the crowd with not only her skilled musicianship, but also with her charming wit. Som was recently shortlisted by NPR’s All Songs Considered in their year-end best of 2017.
5. Violents and Monica Martin, Rough Trade NYC, April 26
OK, this one isn’t technically new, but the pairing was. Monica Martin, best known as the frontwoman for the now-on-hiatus Phox, and producer Jeremy Larson aka Violents teamed up for this rare tour. Larson has collaborated with female vocalists before, but this one was special. Songs were paired with cinematic footage ranging from scenes from House Party to sweeping black-and-white scenery. What still sticks in my memory was a haunting cover of Frank Ocean’s “Self Control.”






Alone & Together Win Over Music Hall of Williamsburg

December 18th, 2017

Alone & Together – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 15, 2017

Sometimes you hear or read about an impromptu jam session—a bunch of musicians get together for a friendly set of music in a studio somewhere—and you think, “Man, I wish I could’ve been there to see that.” Of course, it would be a rare treat to get to peek in on such a gathering, but that’s just what it felt like at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night when Sam Cohen, Eric D. Johnson, Elvis Perkins, Josh Kaufman and Joe Russo, performing under the Alone & Together moniker, could’ve as easily just been some friends hanging out in a basement somewhere. The central concept of their show is that they play one another’s songs, so at the outset Perkins sang one of Cohen’s tunes and then Cohen sang “So Long” by Johnson’s band, Fruit Bats.

This led to some interesting dynamics among the musicians and with the crowd. I imagine it might be pretty weird to sing backing harmonies on your own tune if not feel like an out-of-body experience, to see your musical self from the outside. Similarly, depending on their familiarity with the original version of each song, audience members might’ve had a uniquely personal appreciation of each performance. Regardless, the spirit was one of camaraderie, of friends who are also huge fans of one another’s creative output. While the idea behind the show may sound like a bit of a gimmick, albeit one that works quite well, as the set went on, that central concept felt less and less important. The players sang some of their own songs—Perkins doing “Doomsday,” Johnson singing “Humbug Mountain Song”—and with their looseness and the lead-the-way rhythm section of Kaufman and Russo, these actually felt more like covers than the songs they’d swapped. The band made small changes in instrumentation that brought out subtle shifts in sound and energy, particularly from Cohen, who swapped between pedal steel and electric guitar throughout the night, pushing each song to its musical limit.

Regardless of who was singing with whom, it was the songs that were always in the spotlight. There was an understated political thread weaved through the evening on tracks like “Doomsday,” and toward the latter third of the two-hour show, when Kevin Morby, who has also toured as part of the group, came out for a guest appearance highlighted by his “Beautiful Strangers.” It was felt most strongly during a brand-new song from Perkins, “There Go the Nightmericans,” which was a powerful opus of our current political state. The set closed with a rollicking take on Johnson’s “When U Love Somebody,” with lead vocals from Perkins punctuated by Russo’s handclap percussion. In a show filled with what might technically be called covers, there were true covers as well, selections from Willie Nelson and Paul Simon that fit in with the general songs-first spirit of the night. The three-song encore closed with a joyous take on George Harrison’s “Awaiting on You All.” The long set seemed to have flown by, but that’s what usually happens when you’re having fun hanging out with friends. —A. Stein | @Neddyo





A Margo Price Storm Blows Through Rough Trade NYC on Thursday

October 20th, 2017

Margo Price – Rough Trade NYC – October 19, 2017

Predicting the next big music star is just about as easy as predicting the weather. Even with a lifetime of knowledge and the best instruments, you still get it wrong just as often as you get it right. But sometimes the barometer, thermometer, hygrometer and the Doppler radar all point to one obvious conclusion: It’s gonna rain. And for the crowd lucky enough to make it in for her All American Made album-release show at Rough Trade NYC last night, there was no doubt about the forecast, that’s Margo Price coming over the plain, a drought-killing downpour of talent and charm. Opening with “Nowhere Fast,” she perhaps subtly, perhaps subconsciously, was dressed as the Woman in Black, a modern-day outlaw country, with a more-than-meets-the-eye mix of soul, gospel, blues and funk to go along with the band’s considerable honky-tonk roots.

Price led her secret-weapons-grade band through the new album, the track order shuffled expertly to maximize the live-show experience. Pedal-steel-infused boot stompers like “Weakness” mixed in with gorgeous ballads. “Learning to Lose” hushed the hepped up crowd to near silence with Price’s voice filling the room, complemented by pretty guitar and pedal steel solos. She sneaked in the caveat that it was the first time playing a lot of the material live, but there was little sign of tentativeness or rust, quite the contrary. The songs showed off a bit of depth, both in sound—“Cocaine Cowboys” was as much Little Feat as Willie Nelson and “All American Made” was as much in the tradition of Neil Young as Loretta Lynn—and subject matter, songs about love lost and found replaced by deep storytelling with some social commentary proudly thrown in.

The band picked up steam and Price’s voice gained some extra torrential-rain power as they built the set to a head, finishing the album material with strong versions of “Loner” and the title track and then offering some crowd-pleasers to the already-quite-pleased sold-out crowd in “Tennessee Song” and “Paper Cowboy.” Here the band really flexed their muscles, drums and bass providing the thunder and lightning in a set-closing maelstrom, Price leaving the stage to applause while they rocked out for several minutes, just in case you hadn’t already appreciated their effort throughout the performance. That storm had passed as quickly as it had come, but for Margo Price, it’s easy to predict that it’s still just getting going. —A. Stein | @Neddyo


Willie Nelson Brings Rowdy Outlaw Country Music to Brooklyn

August 13th, 2015

Willie Nelson & Family – Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell – August 12, 2015

Willie Nelson & Family brought outlaw country music to Brooklyn last night, performing for a rowdy, sold-out crowd at Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell. With the opening notes of his 1973 song “Whiskey River,” an enormous Texas state flag unfurled behind the band, a tribute to the artist’s roots. With the Lone Star blazing behind them, Willie Nelson & Family tore through many of his most distinctive hits, including “On the Road Again” and “Always on My Mind,” with a loose, freewheeling energy.

“Let’s do one for Waylon,” announced Nelson, paying tribute to fellow outlaw countryman Waylon Jennings, as he performed “Good Hearted Woman,” encouraging the crowd to sing along during the chorus in a lively call-and-response. Jennings wasn’t the only artist to get a nod from Nelson, who also paid tribute to the likes of Hank Williams with a rendition of “Hey, Good Lookin’,” Merle Haggard with “It’s All Going to Pot” and Tom T. Hall with “Shoeshine Man.” Of course, Nelson, the longtime marijuana-legalization activist, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do “Roll Me Up” (a song that instructs: “And smoke me when I die”) to an overwhelmingly approving crowd.

Encouraging everyone to clap along, Nelson & Family finished the show with a version of the gospel hymn “I’ll Fly Away” before tossing his hat into the crowd and leaving. With Nelson’s talent and an abundance of outlaw spirit, it seems almost irrelevant to mention that he also happens to be 82, but then it makes him all the more impressive nonetheless, and Brooklyn was that much cooler in his presence. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK


Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Willie Nelson on 8/12

August 11th, 2015


The legendary Willie Nelson comes to Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell on Wednesday. And as you can imagine, the show sold out quickly. Not to worry, though, because The House List is giving away two tickets. And if you don’t already have any, we’re telling you there’s a chance! So try to Grow a Pair of tickets. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to and a brief message explaining your favorite Willie Nelson tune. Eddie Bruiser, who pretty much loves all of them, will notify the winner by tomorrow.

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Aaron Watson Turns Mercury Lounge into a Honky-Tonk Tonight

May 13th, 2015

Aaron Watson began playing the guitar while in college, and then upon graduating, he took to performing live shows filled with the honky-tonk country music he knew so well growing up in west central Texas, inspired by the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. His debut album, Shut Up and Dance (stream it below), released in 2002, made him somewhat of a local hero. Since then, Watson (above, performing “July in Cheyenne” at the Grand Ole Opry) has remained busy touring and releasing new music. And to that end, his most recent full-length, Underdog (stream it below), came out earlier this year and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart despite the lack of a record label or national radio support. Per Rolling Stone Country, “He’s the kind of country artist you’d take home to mama: a church-going family man whose songs are filled not with Auto-Tuned vocals and half-lit salutes to Jack Daniel’s, but fiddle solos and PG-rated lyrics that sing the praises of truck stop coffee, Frank Sinatra and marital bliss.” See him play the early show tonight at Mercury Lounge.


Celebrate Texas Independence Day on Saturday at Terminal 5

March 4th, 2015

This week marks the 179th anniversary of Texas Independence Day—and this Saturday at Terminal 5 is the seventh anniversary of us celebrating it in style. Inspired by Lonestar musical royalty like Waylon Jennings, Robert Earl Keen and Willie Nelson, singer-songwriter Pat Green has been making Texas country music since 1995, while he was still in college. And he’s been fairly prolific ever since graduating, releasing nine studio albums and a pair of live LPs, in addition to becoming known as an energetic live performer, all of which has made him very popular in his home state. Green’s most recent album, Songs We Wish We’d Written II (stream it below), highlighted by covers of “Even the Losers” and “Soulshine,” came out in 2012, but he’s currently working his way up and down the East Coast. And you can see Green (above, performing “Wave on Wave” for Texas Music Scene) on Saturday at Terminal 5, alongside the like-minded Josh Abbott BandCasey Donahew Band and Hudson Moore. And as an added bonus, any patron at least 21 years old with a Texas-related tattoo or wearing an article of clothing with a logo from a Texas college on it will receive one complimentary drink.


Willie Nelson – Radio City Music Hall – June 10, 2014

June 11th, 2014

Willie Nelson - Radio City Music Hall - June 10, 2014

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com


Willie Watson Celebrates New Album at Mercury Lounge

May 22nd, 2014

Willie Watson – Mercury Lounge – May 21, 2014


“I guess I’m a folk singer now,” announced Willie Watson midway through his show at Mercury Lounge last night, the now implying he was previously something else. Watching him hold the sold-out audience in rapt attention as he made his way through folk standards, a sweet, natural warble in his voice, alternating between guitar and banjo easily, it felt like he was born a folk singer. Opening with “Take This Hammer” (later explaining that there are lots of “hammer songs” in folk music), Watson stood alone, working the time-tested material like sandpaper to a piece of wood, bringing out the simple, natural, beautiful grain.

The set was filled with traditional folk music: songs about drinking, trains and bank robbers, doing wrong by women and (barely) being saved (or not), and John Henry’s hammer—many featured on Watson’s new album, Folk Singer Vol. 1. The crowd filled in the gaps with plenty of shouts, all drawn in for the early set, many straight from work, by the higher power of folk music, a weekday religious service of sorts. Watson moved easily through the material, switching between banjo and guitar on almost every song, filling little solos in between verses. He played on the theme of folk tradition, setting up a sing-along for “Stewball,” the audience waiting for the moment to pounce.

Humorous moments drew laughter while songs of pure, simple beauty had the room silent. As Watson closed the highly entertaining set with “On the Road Again,” it became obvious how infinite the folk-music canon is, and that despite him squeezing in tons of material, both familiar and un-, into the hour, it was like examining the contents of the ocean with a Dixie cup. No wonder the album is only Vol. 1. To prove the point, Watson saved the best for last, encoring with an excellent version of Ma Rainey’s “See See Rider,” blowing his harmonica in that gorgeous, mournful folk tradition and then finishing with a rousing, crowd-pleasing “Midnight Special.” The audience filed out, eager for more, already anticipating, I’m sure, Vol. 2. —A. Stein


Pat Green Brings a Taste of Texas to Terminal 5 on Saturday Night

April 17th, 2014

Inspired by Lonestar musical royalty like Waylon Jennings, Robert Earl Keen and Willie Nelson, singer-songwriter Pat Green has been making Texas country music since 1995, while he was still in college. But he’s been fairly prolific ever since graduation, releasing nine studio albums and a pair of live LPs, in addition to becoming known as an energetic live performer, all of which has made him very popular in his homestate. Green’s most recent album, Songs We Wish We’d Written II (stream it below), highlighted by covers of “Even the Losers” and “Soulshine,” came out two years ago, but he’s currently working his way up and down the East Coast. And you can see Green (above, performing “Wave on Wave” for Texas Music Scene) this weekend on Saturday night at Terminal 5. Cory Morrow, who appears on Songs We Wish We’d Written II, opens the show.


Houndmouth Continue to Climb

March 17th, 2014

Houndmouth – The Bowery Ballroom – March 14, 2014

Houndmouth – The Bowery Ballroom – March 14, 2014
The four-piece Houndmouth, out of New Albany, Ind.—just across the river from Louisville—are a terrific sum of their parts. Bassist Zak Appleby, drummer Shane Cody, guitarist Matt Myers and keyboardist Katie Toupin all share vocal duties and they each wrote songs on their much heralded debut full-length, From the Hills Below the City. The quartet has been through these parts before: appearing on the bill in September and October of 2012 at The Bowery Ballroom and playing Mercury Lounge last April before selling it out twice in November. After those fall shows, The House List said, “Houndmouth just might be the next big thing.”

Since then, it sounds like all they’ve done is spend time on the road and onstage, working on their live show, because the band’s gotten tighter and the music’s gotten looser. And on Friday night, their ragged energy and palpable exuberance were infectious, spreading smiles across a sold-out Bowery Ballroom. There were new tunes, like “By God,” sung by the perpetually grinning Appleby, and smooth segues—seamless transitions from “Krampus” to “Long as You’re at Home” and from the Beatles’ “Carry That Weight” into “Halfway to Hardinsburg”—and enthusiastic crowd sing-alongs to “Hey Rose,” “Casino (Bad Things)” and “Penitentiary.” Plus there was even a volleyball-style instrument rotation, with everyone sliding over one spot.

The night was also a celebration of Toupin’s birthday, with her mom in the balcony singing along to every tune: “Last year I spent my birthday on Willie Nelson’s farm, but this is way better.” The music, of course, was a major reason for the festive mood. “On the Road” sounded more playful than the recorded version, and the bass-driven “Ludlow” became funkier live. On multiple occasions, Myers coaxed loud applause from the audience as he plucked solos from his guitar bent over at the waist and even from his knees. In short, it was the perfect kind of music for a Friday night. And while the show would’ve been a success even without an encore, Houndmouth returned for a slow-building “The Big Oil Spill” before all four members climbed down into the crowd to finish the night with an unamplified take on “Long Black Veil,” the crowd heartily stomping along. —R. Zizmor

Photos courtesy of Lina Shteyn | www.linashteyn.com


Manchester Orchestra Electrify Music Hall of Williamsburg

November 14th, 2013

Manchester Orchestra – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 13, 2013

Before last night, it had been more than two years since Manchester Orchestra’s last proper headlining show in any one of the five boroughs. And after all that time, their return, last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, was met with the frenzied enthusiasm of a sold-out crowd for the Georgia band’s electrifying set. If you take adages to heart, that one about absence making the heart grow fonder seemed to apply pretty completely.

With their musical teeth as sharp as ever, the five-piece rock band came out swinging with “Shake It Out,” one of the most brash songs off their second album, 2009’s Mean Everything to Nothing. The tune hit the crowd quickly with its assaulting, distortion-heavy guitars and lead singer Andy Hull’s snarling wail. It set the tone for the rest of the set as Manchester Orchestra performed some of their heavier songs to complement the two new tracks they played, which skewed in that same sonic direction. They included “Virgin,” one of the band’s darkest songs from their 2011 release, Simple Math, as well as Mean Everything’s last two numbers, “Everything to Nothing” and “The River,” with a smooth transition in between.

More melodic songs like “Pensacola” and “Pale Black Eye” even carried a little extra thump. But there was still time for total surprises, however, as tunes like heartbreak-anthem “Colly Strings” and Andy Hull’s go-to, a cover of Willie Nelson’s “The Party’s Over,” fit neatly into the set list. And because of their absence, Manchester Orchestra were actually afforded something they had never truly had before this tour—the ability to keep fans wondering which song was coming next, and they took full advantage. Their set took dynamic twists and turns, and the crowd of fans that had waited so long sang every word right back at them without breaking their starry-eyed gaze. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Willie Nelson & Family – The Wellmont Theatre – May 17, 2012

May 18th, 2012

Photos courtesy of Brian C. Reilly | www.briancreilly.com


Two Nights of the Legendary Willie Nelson at The Wellmont Theatre

May 15th, 2012

Let’s face it: With a career spanning more than 50 years of a ridiculous number of hits and albums, plus a healthy dose of acting, poetry and activism, music legend Willie Nelson needs no introduction. He could happily spend all his time in a solar-powered house on Maui, but Nelson, who’s got music in his soul, is a road warrior. His newest studio disc (the 66th!), Heroes—which covers the likes of Coldplay—is out today, and Willie Nelson & Family (above, doing “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”) play The Wellmont Theatre tomorrow and Thursday. If you’ve seen him before, you already know you shouldn’t miss this. And if you never have, now’s your chance.