Monday, September 19, 2016

KT Tunstall at Irving Plaza

Kate Tunstall, known by her stage name KT Tunstall, was born to a half-Chinese, half-Scottish, Hong Kong-born exotic dancer and an Irish bartender in Edinburgh, Scotland. At 18 days old, her mother gave her for adoption to a couple in St. Andrews, Scotland. Although raised in an academic and non-musical family, she learned to play piano at age four and later learned to play other musical instruments. Some of her earliest public performances were on sidewalks in Burlington, Vermont, during a period when she was living in a rural commune. She also played in indie bands and even a klezmer band before launching a solo career in 2004. By 2006, she had won a European Border Breakers Award, an Ivor Novello Award for Best Song and a Brit Award for Best British Female Artist. Tunstall released her fifth studio album, KIN, on September 9, 2016. Since 2014, Tunstall has lived in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California.

KT Tunstall is a singer-songwriter, and many of her best-known songs were reflective of a folk sensibility. Recently coming out of a self-imposed hiatus, she recorded an album, assembled a band, devised a live set list that included five songs from her most recent album, older originals and covers of songs by the Bangles, the White Stripes and Bruce Springsteen, and hit the road. At Irving Plaza tonight, she spent large bulks of her performance time introducing the origins of each song along with other anecdotes and memoirs. The set seemed so homey that a man bought her a drink and delivered it to the stage and a woman presented her with a jar of Nutella. As for the music, Tunstall sang in a fine contralto voice, riding melodies with appropriate power, nuance and occasional grit. Even from the opening song, "If Only," her sound moved further away from her folkie roots, instead rocking to a modern power pop style. Here was the weakness; as a rocker, her songs lost some of their integral earthiness in favor of banging radio pop. Performing solo on acoustic guitar on "Invisible Empire" halfway through the set, she began to recapture the vulnerability of her sensitive side. Perhaps the set could have benefitted from a better balance between poet and rocker.

Visit KT Tunstall at www.kttunstall.com.

Hailey Knox at the Penthouse

Hailey Knox is from Carmel, New York, where her dad taught her to play guitar when she was seven. At 12, Knox and her sister, performing as a duo, began posting covers of their favorite songs on social media. Knox later received a loop effects pedal as a Christmas gift and posted solo videos utilizing echoes of her own voice and guitar work. Eventually she started working on original songs. Now at age 17, her debut EP, A Little Awkward, was released on June 24, 2016.

Though still a teenager, Knox is a seasoned performer, having performed many shows in the New York area and at SXSW. She exuded confidence and professionalism throughout her brief eight-song performance tonight at the Penthouse at the Standard Hotel. Many of her songs started with her looping her guitar licks, guitar slaps (for percussion), and/or wordless melodies. This was her "band," forming the backdrop to more intricate guitar licks, soulful vocals and lyrics that gave insight to the mind of a member of Generation Z. Up until now, she has been playing to audiences old enough to get into bars, but her opening slot on Charlie Puth's theater tour will help her reach her core following. As evidenced impressively tonight, her bluesy guitar licks and soulful vocals may extend her audience beyond her initial teen audience, and those who listen carefully also may enjoy her clever wordsmith ability. Hailey Knox is a very talented youth.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Mondo.NYC Day Four

What are the trajectories of today's music industry? CMJ founders Bobby Haber and Joanne Abbot Green formed Mondo.NYC with the hope of helping music industry professionals and hopefuls to navigate their way into rapidly changing landscape. Mondo.NYC hosted its inaugural music industry summit in New York on September 14-18, offering three days of panel discussions and presentations at New York University and five nights of access to music showcases and parties in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Mondo.NYC filled a void left by the New Music Seminar (NMS) and College Media Journal (CMJ), two long-running annual conferences that did not happen this year. Mondo.Day offered more than 60 business workshops, panels, seminars, and events addressing critical issues impacting music creation, commerce, technology and innovation. Mondo.Night offered participants free admission to more than a dozen music venues in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Salt Cathedral at Lovecraft

Royal Teeth at the Delancey

Darkbird at Pianos

Lines West at Pianos Upstairs Lounge

Undercover Dreamlovers at the Bowery Electric

Angel Olsen at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Rousers at Parkside Lounge

Guitarists/vocalists Bill Dickson and Tom Milmore played together in high school bands while living in Weston, Connecticut. Dickson relocated to New York City for art school of Visual Arts, while Milmore drove a van for a living, took audio engineering classes, and played bass in a band. Reunited later on, they formed the Rousers, a garage band with a touch of rockabilly, in New York City in 1977. The band played the local punk circuit. Also in 1977, the band was asked to appear in a low budget exploitation film, Punk, shot on location at CBGBs; the film was never completed, but the band got studio time and recorded its first song. "Twanged If I Do, Twanged If I Don't." The Rousers split in 1982, but reunited briefly from time to time in various formations, and recorded an album in 2002, Playing The Rock and Roll For You. The band presently consists of Dickson, Milmore, bassist Brett Wilder, and drummer Sal "King" Capazucca.

The Rousers have returned to the local circuit, and tonight performed at Krebs' Endless Party monthly series at the Parkside Lounge. While Brooklyn majored in turning out radical indie bands, the lesser-magnified Manhattan club scene gravitated to a no-frills brand of garage-guitar rock and roll, and the nearly 40-year-old Rousers were already there. Recalling mid-1960s low-fi bands, the Rousers played an uncluttered formula which capitalized on 4/4 rhythms leading to harmony-driven choruses and/or husky lead guitar leads. Safe and simple, this almost retro-sounding music went back to the foolproof basics, and did  it well.

Visit the Rousers at www.therousers.com.

Mondo.NYC Day Three

What are the trajectories of today's music industry? CMJ founders Bobby Haber and Joanne Abbot Green formed Mondo.NYC with the hope of helping music industry professionals and hopefuls to navigate their way into rapidly changing landscape. Mondo.NYC hosted its inaugural music industry summit in New York on September 14-18, offering three days of panel discussions and presentations at New York University and five nights of access to music showcases and parties in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Mondo.NYC filled a void left by the New Music Seminar (NMS) and College Media Journal (CMJ), two long-running annual conferences that did not happen this year. Mondo.Day offered more than 60 business workshops, panels, seminars, and events addressing critical issues impacting music creation, commerce, technology and innovation. Mondo.Night offered participants free admission to more than a dozen music venues in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Opus Orange at the Delancey

The Parkers at Drom

TR/ST at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

The Downtown Boys at the Studio at Webster Hall

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mondo.NYC Day Two

What are the trajectories of today's music industry? CMJ founders Bobby Haber and Joanne Abbot Green formed Mondo.NYC with the hope of helping music industry professionals and hopefuls to navigate their way into rapidly changing landscape. Mondo.NYC hosted its inaugural music industry summit in New York on September 14-18, offering three days of panel discussions and presentations at New York University and five nights of access to music showcases and parties in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Mondo.NYC filled a void left by the New Music Seminar (NMS) and College Media Journal (CMJ), two long-running annual conferences that did not happen this year. Mondo.Day offered more than 60 business workshops, panels, seminars, and events addressing critical issues impacting music creation, commerce, technology and innovation. Mondo.Night offered participants free admission to more than a dozen music venues in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Understanding the Many Roles of Music Management: What They Are and Why You Need Them
Moderator: Jami Stigliano (Owner, Iconic Management)
Panelists: Chris Maltese (Artist Manager, Maltese Management/Primary Wave Entertainment); Erica Ramon (Artist Manager, DAS Communications); Judy Tint (Attorney and Music Business Professor, New York University)

Bits and Pieces II: 15 Minute Talks from Innovators in Music, Tech, Media & Content
Bob Boilen (creator of NPR's All Things Considered and Tiny Desk Concert Series,
author of Your Song Changed My Life).

Understanding Blockchain: The New Accounting?
Moderator: Lynne LaCascia (Global Director of Brand Narrative, Cognizant Technology Solutions)
Panelists: Ann Greenberg (Co-Founder, ION, Gracenote, Sceneplay); Cortney Harding (Founder & CEO, Cortney Harding Consulting);  Thor Olavsrud (Senior Writer, CIO.com); Benji Rogers (Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, PledgeMusic)

Cody Turner at Pianos

NVXO at Pianos Upstairs Lounge

True Dreams at the Cake Shop

The Judy Blossoms at Left Field

Primme at Bowery Electric's Map Room

Blind Guardian at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Negative Gemini at the Bowery Electric

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mondo.NYC Day One

What are the trajectories of today's music industry? CMJ founders Bobby Haber and Joanne Abbot Green formed Mondo.NYC with the hope of helping music industry professionals and hopefuls to navigate their way into rapidly changing landscape. Mondo.NYC hosted its inaugural music industry summit in New York on September 14-18, offering three days of panel discussions and presentations at New York University and five nights of access to music showcases and parties in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Mondo.NYC filled a void left by the New Music Seminar (NMS) and College Media Journal (CMJ), two long-running annual conferences that did not happen this year. Mondo.Day offered more than 60 business workshops, panels, seminars, and events addressing critical issues impacting music creation, commerce, technology and innovation. Mondo.Night offered participants free admission to more than a dozen music venues in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Making Streaming Work for the Music Industry
Interview with Michael Nash (EVP, Digital Strategy, Universal Music Group),
conducted by Robert Levine (business journalist, author)

Being as Ocean at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Cute Is What We Aim For at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall

The Amity Affliction at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Elizabeth & the Catapult at Pianos

Room Full of Strangers at the Cake Shop

Autodrone at the Delancey

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Peaches at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Merrill Nisker, a music and drama teacher in her native Toronto, Canada, began moonlighting in the early 1990s as part of a folk trio, Mermaid Café. In 1995, she played in a rock band and released her first solo album. The band's absurd, highly sexual rock music was a harbinger for what Nisker would become, as she adopted and developed her new larger-than-life persona as Peaches. She lived with fellow recording artist Feist; Feist worked the back of the stage at Peaches' shows, using a sock puppet and calling herself "Bitch Lap Lap." Peaches grew as an electronic musician and performance artist, creating compositions that reversed traditional gender politics, pivoted on sexually explicit lyrics, and employed increasingly controversial props in her stage show. Peaches produced her sixth and most recent studio album, Rub, in her garage in Los Angeles, California, and released it on September 25, 2015.

Peaches' performance at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom tonight featured no band. Peaches frequently retreated to the rear of the stage to twist knobs and program her music. Most of the time, however, she was front and center on a platform, singing her bawdy lyrics as her two costumed dancers slithered and kicked below her. Peaches first came on stage wearing a super-furry beast costume, but several costume changes later she was dancing topless; along the way, she humorously exploited sexual norms by wearing five fake breasts on her chest and having her dancers wear massive vagina costumes.  At one point, a giant simulated condom was projected into the audience and Peaches attempted to walk through it on the audience's shoulders. Meanwhile, raw, throbbing electronic music, hip hop, and punk rock pumped out the soundtrack to Peaches' performance art as she sang and rapped provocative statements that blurred sexual norms. Unlike much contemporary urban music, the presentation was never about suggestive sexual acts; Peaches was more about pushing a dialogue about sexual attractions to absurd limits. Peaches' concert was visual theater for the most adventurous.

Visit Peaches at www.peachesrocks.com.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Echo & the Bunnymen at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Ian McCulloch
After brief stints in the Crucial Three and A Shallow Madness, vocalist Ian McCulloch formed Echo & the Bunnymen with guitarist Will Sergeant and bass player Les Pattinson in 1978 in Liverpool , England. The original trio was supplemented by a drum machine until Trinidad-born Pete de Freitas joined as the band's drummer in 1980. Echo & the Bunnymen began to fracture when McCulloch left the band to pursue a solo career in 1988 and de Freitas died in a motorcycle accident in 1989. Sergeant and Pattinson recruited other musicians but the band split in 1993. In 1994 McCulloch and Sergeant began working together again under the name Electrafixion; in 1997 Pattinson joined the duo, and the trio resurrected the Echo & the Bunnymen name. Pattinson left the group again to care for his mother in 1999, and McCulloch and Sergeant continued Echo & the Bunnymen. Echo & the Bunnymen's most recent album, Meteorites, was released in 2014.

McCulloch and Sergeant are joined on the current tour by guitarist Gordy Goudie, keyboardist Jez Wing, bassist Stephen Brannan and drummer Nick Kilroe. Although the band has released 12 albums, the vast majority of the 17-song set came from the band's first five albums, with hardly a reference to any music past 1987. With no new album to promote, Echo & the Bunnymen launched the set with "Going Up," the first track from the band's first album, and stayed in the retrospective mode until the final encore, "Lips Like Sugar." Although the set included no new songs, it did include deep cuts seldom played live. McCulloch put on his best Jim Morrison, singing with a commanding and gruff passion and seldom letting go of the stationery microphone stand; at times the similarity in their voices was uncanny. Echo & the Bunnymen's music was more new wave than classic rock, however, with loads of bright and bouncy melody lines and Sergeant's searing guitar leads driving the band's rockers. The only thing needed was a few new songs.

Visit Echo & the Bunnymen at www.bunnymen.com

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hi Tiger at Le Petit Versailles

Formerly a New York-based theatrical art student, Derek Jackson is now a visual and performing artist based in Portland, Maine, where he leads the electro-art-punk ensemble Hi Tiger. Hi Tiger combines live vocals and choreography with electronic musical programming and lighting design. Hi Tiger more often performs in art spaces than in traditional music venues.

Visual AIDS, a New York-based not-for-profit group that utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue and supporting HIV+ artists, sponsored a performance tonight by Hi Tiger at Le Petit Versailles, a vest pocket park that was birthed where a Lower East Side tenement was demolished. On a dirt-packed surface, Hi Tiger performed music and dance as theater. A bare-chested Jackson sang and twisted knobs on a console that modulated his vocals to flow with pre-recorded electronic washes of sound and beats produced by Jacob Pitcher, Chris Di Rocco and James CooperAs he sang, dancers Nicole Antonette and Amandaconda performed interpretive and interactive movement. Given the bare lighting, staging and aesthetics, Hi Tiger succeeded in making a community garden that much more beautiful.

Visit Hi Tiger at www.artistecard.com/HiTiger.