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Category Archives: Event Review

Coolest Guy in Music: Edward Sharpe, NYC’s Folk Hero

I am using the power vested in me to nominate Alex Ebert, leader of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, for Coolest Guy in Music.  Ebert is the guy in the center in the picture below. As you can see, he would not look out of place sitting in the subway station and singing for money.  As a bandleader, he is a huge inspiration. He heads a band of ten great musicians and from how they act onstage and off, they cannot be happier playing music with him.

This Sunday, I was fortunate enough to be in attendance of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on the rooftop of the Mondrian Hotel in Soho.  The setting was beautiful; we could see all of Manhattan and some of New Jersey and Brooklyn. What made me laugh was that there could not have been a bigger disparity between the swanky penthouse venue and the ten-piece band who looked and smelled like they had been in a van for the last five days. But on this night, the oddball crew made it work. The group played their magical indie folk in an acoustic set and had the hipster crowd singing and dancing along with them.

I don’t know Ebert’s full backstory, but I know that he had addiction problems which he seems to have overcome through his passion in music.  Before the set, he sat down on the ground in a yoga pose to collect himself amid the crowded roof and sat in silence for a few minutes. After the show, he and his entire band were seen mingling with the crowd and enjoying themselves on the roof.

Not much else can be said about this modern-day shaman that will do him justice. See him in action yourself and watch a video of him with his band:

Thanks for reading!

 
 

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BREAKING NEWS: New York City Has Great Live Music

This just in: New York City has great live music.

New York is renowned for its live music; we all know that. But it hasn’t been as apparent to me ever since I’ve moved to the city as it is now that live music here rules. Period. No other city in the world offers you a chance to see an awesome show in any given genre or scene on any given night or day (or morning, for that matter). There is so much quantity and variety in the performances that you could see live music every night of the summer, and you wouldn’t even overlap genres or even travel to the same part of the city twice.

Don’t know what to do tonight? Check out Oh My Rockness for a thorough list of all the Indie shows in the city that night. Want to lay low and see a free show? Go to Prospect Park for the Celebrate Brooklyn! free summer concert series and relax with the jazzheads. In a festival mood? You could go to Governor’s Ball, Seaport Music Festival, Electric Daisy, or CMJ. Feelin’ upscale? Lincoln Center is putting on a festival of performing arts until August 14.

With all the options available, sometimes it’s hard to decide where to allocate your time. Fortunately, regardless of what band you decide to see, you will rarely be disappointed (unless you are in Williamsburg). Recently, I have been to two concerts that have blown my mind.

The first one of those was Phantogram on July 22nd at Terminal 5 in the Upper West Side. They played in front of packed house and shared the bill with RJD2 and The Glitch Mob.

Phantogram

Phantogram performed as a trio, with super-cutie frontwoman Sarah Barthel on synth, co-frontman (not as cute) Josh Carter on guitar, and a live drummer in the house who played the hell out of the set.  As they gain experience on tour, they also have gained knowledge of how to make their sound bigger and more epic.  Their live songs blew their recorded material completely out of the water.  They performed “Bloody Palms” amazingly and the song transcended to a haunting jam with their meshing voices growing louder and more core-shaking with each chant.

Phantogram has a new record coming out in the fall, so keep an eye out for it, as this band is hitting their stride at the right time.

The next show that blew my mind was Zeds Dead at the Mad Decent Block Party this Saturday at Southside Seaport.  The crowd came out for the free festival and was there solely to party and have the best time possible.  We bumped and grinded in close quarters while Zeds brought their sweet, sweet dubstep/electro. Beer was spilled, sunburns were had, and dance music was laid down with force.  Where else in the world could you go on a Saturday afternoon to a downtown port and enjoy a free rave by a major DJ act like Zeds Dead? New York, for all of its woes, kicks ass in the live music department, and events like Mad Decent prove that.

I will close out this post with a video of the performance. Notice the amazing setting with the ships all around and the beautiful day. On top of that, notice the great time being had by all! Gotta love New York!!

Have a good day, thanks for reading! As always feedback is appreciated.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Event Review

 

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Camp Bisco 10 Recap; Tobacco, Neon Indian, Ratatat

Just last night, I returned home from an epic weekend of awesome music, camping, and great people in Mariaville, NY at the tenth Camp Bisco.  Buoyed by the world-class lineup, the festival sold out for the first time in its history, reportedly packing in more than 30,000 people.

I could go into a long recap of my entire exhausting weekend, but the purpose of this article is to highlight a few of my favorite shows.

TOBACCO

To put it simply, Tobacco was unreal. While most of the festival attendees were getting Shpongled on the Main Stage, Pittsburgh-based Tobacco was laying down his ridiculous in-your-face fucked-up hip-hop-meets-rikers-island beats at an intimate set in the Dance Tent.

This set was a perfect juxtaposition to the Black Moth Super Rainbow set that Tobacco and his crew participated in earlier in the day.  Black Moth played outside during the daytime in the light; Tobacco played in a dark tent during the rain.  Black Moth’s music was played on-point to their recorded material; Tobacco brought his beats to you in real time and messed with them like you’ve never heard before.  Black Moth’s music soothed you like a lullaby sang by your mother; Tobacco’s music hit you in the face like a two-thousand pound boulder and left you bleeding.

The live drums, played by Iffernaut of Black Moth, completed the show.  She laid down a groove so hard and steady that I was afraid her snare hits were going to puncture the tent.  When I previously saw Tobacco play, she wasn’t there to play, but it made all the difference.  The live drum sound added such a rich, creative dimension to the music and allowed the vocoder and synths to shine.  A highlight for me was “Dirt (ft. Aesop Rock)” partly because I could see and hear Iffernaut’s intensity on the drums and also because of Tobacco’s ridiculous warping of Aesop Rock’s vocals.

Tobacco came out hyper-focused to this show and nailed it.  He seems to have moved away from the showmanship that permeated his other shows, such as wearing his signature basketball head mask.  This lack of distractions left him to focus only on the music and it was reflected by the quality of his set.

Tobacco has stated on his website that this was his last show in the Maniac Meat chapter of his music life. No one is sure what is in store for Tobacco or Black Moth, but here’s hoping that after leaving on such a high note, there is much, much more to come in the future.

Neon Indian

 Neon Indian, a chillwave band based out of Danton, Texas, far exceeded my expectations on Saturday.  Playing on the main stage, in the middle of the day, in front of a sunburned and partied-out crowd, they brought an energy to their set that brought everyone out of their lethargic state.

Lead singer and songwriter, Alan Palomo, was a force to reckoned with on stage (not to mention their super cute synth player Leanne Macomber).  Hair bouncing, he was like an ADHD child, running back and forth from one side of the stage, to sing with the drummer, to the other side of the stage.  Seeing him perform gave me a brand new take on their music.  From the recorded material, I could not picture the band having that kind of an energetic frontman. They performed most of their songs off of their debut album Psychic Chasms as well as a few new ones.

Using heavily echoed vocals and Korg synth lead melodies over distorted drums and heavy bass, Neon Indian really knew how to perform.  They have a new album coming out in September so be sure to check that out.

Ratatat

The coolest visuals I saw all weekend definitely belonged to Ratatat. The Brooklyn electronic duo played to a massive crowd on the main stage on Friday night and they delivered with their style of wailing distorted guitar and bass over electronic drum beats.

They played a lot of their biggest songs from their previous four discs, highlighting the show with Seventeen Years” from their debut album.  Having never seen Ratatat live before, it was awesome to see that their live show is way more exciting than their recorded material.  Too many bands (especially duos or solo acts) simply press play and treat their live show almost as a DJ set. Not Ratatat. You could see their talents on their guitars, jumping around and rocking out in almost heavy metal fashion.

Their visual reel was what I took away most from this set. It consisted of things that made me laugh, scared me, or just left me in wonderment.  During one of their songs, they had a loop of normal looking people’s faces showing different emotions.  There would be a business-looking guy in a suit nearly crying, a depressed black middle-aged woman, then two old people kissing and being happy together.  The reel was genius, highlighting the emotional impact of their instrumental tracks.

These three acts were merely the greatest of the great in a highlight filled weekend. Leave me some comments if you feel that I missed something or you disagree. Thanks for reading.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Event Review

 

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MSTRKRFT Disappoints at Pittsburgh Electronic Music Festival

MSTRKRFT, a electro-house duo coming out of Ontario, has been a force on the electronic dance scene since 2006 when they released The Looks.  I have seen MSTRKRFT twice before, first at Ultra Music Festival and then at Lollapalooza, so I have seen what they are capable of.  These guys are experts at throwing a dance party.  Unfortunately for everyone in attendance on Sunday, MSTRKRFT did not bring their “A” game.  Matter of fact, they didn’t even bring their “B” or “C” game.

mstrkrft

When I first heard that an electronic music festival was coming to our small and under-appreciated town of Pittsburgh, I rejoiced.  But I was also a little skeptical.  Can Pittsburgh bring out crowds to support major acts like this? Can Pittsburgh, as a city, provide a venue that will accept, if not support, the dance music scene and its pill-popping fans instead of laying down rule after rule upon its festival-goers? These questions were answered on Sunday night at Stage AE during Pittsburgh Electronic Music Festival.

We arrived in the parking lot before the concert began, and already there were throngs of people tailgating, dancing, and having a good time.  The z-lounge brought out turntables and their own DJs were spinning house music.  People were in a frenzy and the atmosphere was electric.

We entered the festival midway through Mux Mool’s set.  The best word to use to describe the scene would be “awkward.” The sun was blaring down on the crowd, the dance floor was barely alive and there were security guards staring at everyone sitting in the grass.  Designer Drugs came on afterwards and did an admirable job of bringing people to the dance floor with their set.  Although their transitions were sometimes sloppy, they seemed to be having fun onstage and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

The 5 o’clock start time seemed like a bad idea on such a hot day. Dance music, in its essence, is for the night.  As dubstep-demon Excision came on around 8 o’clock, the sun was starting to fade, the stage lights became more vivid, and the crowd started to grow.  Excision livened the crowd and gave me hope about Pittsburgh and electronic music.  Everyone was loving it and the stage seemed primed for the headliner, MSTRKRFT, to completely bring down the house with their electro madness.

To put it simply, MSTRKRFT did not care about their set last night.  It was apparent from the first track that they were packing it in and just getting through.  Some of the songs they played were not even full songs, just unfinished ideas that they seemed to be using as filler to kill time.   Other than one chorus of Heartbreaker with John Legend, they played no tracks with vocals.  They played none of their popular songs and no songs off of their two full length albums.  At one point during the set, Jesse of MSTRKRFT, seemingly to show his displeasure, raised his arm to check his watch to see how much time was left.   At the end of their set, they just let their music run on a loop and left the stage.  A roadie from the festival had to come onstage and turn it off for them.

This diva-like act by MSTRKRFT was completely unfair to the people who paid money to see them and Pittsburgh in general.  There may not have been a Bonnarroo-sized crowd in attendance, but to at show no respect to their fans is an abhorrent and selfish act.

This is my opinion, but I suspect that there was an issue with money.  The organizers of the festival may not have broken even and may not have been able to pay MSTRKRFT their full due.  Regardless, if money is the only reason that MSTRKRFT is making music then they do not deserve to be booked at other festivals and shows.

For Pittsburgh, there remains to be seen if it can support a major electronic music festival.  Perhaps the organizers of this event were unrealistic in booking an act this big and expecting to break even.  Many festivals follow the model of gaining momentum and capital on a yearly basis before signing major acts such as MSTRKRFT. Perhaps if they started smaller with less expensive acts and a more underground venue it could be a success.

If you were there and have anything to say about this event, leave me a comment. Thanks for reading.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 5, 2011 in Event Review

 

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