Concert Review

concert review November 2, 2007

Sufjan Stevens premiered the BQE

Listen to “The BQE” on WNYC

The premiere of “The BQE” at BAM’s gorgeous Howard Gilman Opera House was unlike any other Sufjan show. The audience may have offered as many heads with gray hair as those with elaborate hairdos. Before starting the last number in the “Sufjan Stevens Plays the Hits” part of the program, the singer said they’d been treated like royals during the making of “The BQE”, and hoped we’d had our money’s worth. By then I had decided that at times, performance and music can be two different things, and though I could already barely remember the particulars of “The BQE”, it had delivered the warm and fuzzy feeling with which I had hoped to renew my concert-going habit.

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concert review, playing soon October 4, 2007

Bowerbirds played Soundfix Records

Download “In Our Talons” (from Hymns for a Dark Horse)

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The lounge area that is now part of Soundfix Records sits cozily past its music collection, and is a venue you want to take advantage of. The intimacy it provides is unlike any other record store’s, since there are tables over which specialty drinks can be had in a laid back atmosphere, away from all the records under bright lights of commerce; and the size of the room itself is just right. Bowerbirds took no more than 15 minutes to set up. After the most basic of sound checks, the acoustics proved its worth as well. Other events may prove otherwise, but the venue was a superb fit for this particular band (while handling my t-shirt purchase, singer Phil Moore said that he had previously been unaware of the store’s existence, but was glad to have discovered it through playing it; on stage he mentioned how good it felt to play a small venue after touring with the Mountain Goats for the past few weeks).

More after the jump.

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concert review October 3, 2007

Photos of YACHT at McCarren Pool (belated)

Download “So Post All ‘Em” (from I Believe in You. Your Magic Is Real.)

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More after the jump.

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concert review September 25, 2007

Beirut at Wordless Music Series

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At least as far as performances go, there seems to be a difference of principle between classical and popular music. While in classical tradition the works are subjects of scholarly devotion, precision and admiration, popular music thrives in creating an atmosphere where its audience can participate in celebration and festivity, or even grief and loss. Often, the intention of popular music and its understanding of the human spirit supersedes its genius, whereas the music in classical tradition is so sacred that it feels like the people who listen to it are secondary to it by far. We can be reminded, of course, that there are several bands today that blur the difference of traditions, which makes the concept of Wordless Music Series appropriate (and sure, Sufjan’s mini-orchestra flies in a Town Hall setting).

Continued, and photos, after the jump.

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concert review September 7, 2007

Bill Callahan (of Smog) played Southpaw

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Studio recordings of Bill Callahan, including those released under the alias Smog, make it clear that the main offering here is a memorable voice that promises to tell a story. His belongs to that family of voices which has a confident air of the old without actually having encountered it in the past long before it or in the aging that awaits in the future. So this much was to be expected from the show at Southpaw, and this much was held mostly true. There was a part of the audience that had understood this and come there expecting to be mesmerized, but there was the rest given to chattering. Consequently, from what I could tell, out of the voices of two girls talking loudly during a song came a series of “shut up” and “shhh”, and the next thing you know, someone had inevitably been punched by someone else. The band did not stop, but later Bill walked to the front of the stage to ask vaguely, but privately, if people were okay.

More after the jump.

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concert review September 4, 2007

Battles, Deerhunter played South Street Seaport

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The last of the free summer shows at South Street Seaport was a celebration with an eager mass of Battles and Deerhunter fans. Though I missed much of the latter, who opened, much love was shown towards both bands, with traversing through the crowd a task as daunting as it had been when Animal Collective played the first of these shows. Battles, with their drummer up front (and why not, he was their gem), performed much like architects. This impression may have been influenced by their clean-cut appearances (not too mention all the colors – yellow drum set, pink and green shirts, a red-bodied keyboard – and the unusual layout on the stage itself). The performance itself seemed equally clean-cut, though the structurally sound foundations were padded by a feeling of loose explorations.

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More photos after the jump

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concert review August 29, 2007

Feist, Kevin Drew played McCarren Pool

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McCarren Pool was the busiest I’ve seen, and Feist performed with perfection. I am always saddened by the image of her that has been created by people, though well-intentioned, who only know her through music videos and promo photos, or for that matter, through only studio recordings. She is no goddess, they say, and I say that too, but she saves rock and roll, and she must be watched live to believe this. It was only when she told the story of a Janet Jackson concert attendance at the age of 11 or 12, it struck me that her music, with its clear roots in blues and essentials of rock, is an honest representation of how “rock and roll” has collected, after gushes and falls and transformations and simplifications and complications, into this generation.
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Update: more photos added.Â

More after the jump.

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concert review August 7, 2007

I'm From Barcelona played Southpaw

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More photos after the jump

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concert review July 24, 2007

Bishop Allen played South Street Seaport

Download “Rain” (from the upcoming The Broken String)
Download “Click Click Click Click” (from the upcoming The Broken String)
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Bishop Allen’s The Broken String is being trumpeted as a soundtrack to the summer. Almost all songs from it were showcased at the band’s first stop this tour, a free summer show at Pier 17, where they sounded true to the claim. The touring drummer was introduced to us by his first name, Colin, and had much to do with the impressive energy of the performance, as did Justin Rice’s singing (especially when they decided to end with a cover of C.C.R’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”). Also present for the occasional use of trumpet and saxophone was Brooklyn’s Jon Natcez, who played three Bowery Ballroom shows with Beirut. The Ballroom also happens to be Bishop Allen’s next New York stop, on August 18th. Virb is streaming the new album in full.

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More after the jump.

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concert review July 20, 2007

St. Vincent played Bowery Ballroom

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Annie Clark’s weapon is her intent. Her grace is a swift punch packed with pointed articulation, and for this she has found the appropriate musical expression (aided by an assortment of gadgets at her feet, including an expressive kick drum, and the coupling of a regular microphone with a distorted one). Her angry, unrestrained outbursts on the electric guitar show off her control over the instrument, but her playing can hardly be classified as flamboyant or subtle. Instead, the power comes from the emotion she keeps sharpened, which results in clarity without being overbearing. Her singing takes on the same quality- it is the intention that provides shape to her voice that otherwise escapes easy categorization, and it’s this skill of Annie’s that makes her shows powerful, with or without a full band.

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More after the jump.

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  • Aqua: Love TEEN. Man they can sing. Cool. Different.
  • Suraj Joshee: Sarahana, Loved the video. You captured the simple raw essence of the music and band really really...
  • Kevination: I love infectious songs.
  • Jipes: Another great post, I love the voice of this artist. Every time I come here I’m surprised which is...
  • Jipes: Not at all, I’m really sorry if my comment seems odd but compare to people like Tallest Man on Earth,...