Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mobley at Kola House

Based out of Austin, Texas, Anthony Watkins II says he was filling notebooks with melodic ideas and songs even before he knew how to play an instrument. Another account says he learned violin when he was six and trumpet when he was 13, giving him a solid foundation in music theory and structure. He matured beyond the sheet music upon getting a guitar at age 16. For a while, he fronted a band he named Mobley, but commitments are difficult on a low budget, and Watkins found himself without a team. Rather than play solo acoustic sets, Watkins took the name Mobley for himself and blossomed into a one-man band. Mobley has released three EPs; after scrapping two albums, his debut album, Fresh Lies, on which he sang and played all the instruments, is pending.
Mobley's tour brought him to four New York venues this month; tonight's set at a fine new restaurant in the Meatpacking District, Kola House, was Mobley's third local performance. Mobley's vision for his presentation was grander than most newcomers to music: the stage was littered with Mobley's musical instruments and lighting gear, and a large monitor across the room would align his short films with many of his songs. Mobley pressed a button and started the sound and lights. With the help of samples and other pre-programmed backing tracks, Mobley filled his pop-soul songs with cascading layers of grooves and imaginative flourishes, all while singing from the heart and moving from guitar to drums to keyboards. Even slight wardrobe changes (removal of sunglasses, switching of hats) seemed calculated for the young but consummate showman. None of this would be significant except that the songs mattered, with lyrics that examined the perplexity of human relations, both interpersonally and in the world at large. The performance was kinetic and electrifying for both the performer and the audience.

Mobley will perform at Berlin on June 27. In the meantime, visit Mobley at www.mobleywho.com.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sebastian Bach at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

Sebastian Philip Bierk, known professionally as Sebastian Bach, was born in the Bahamas and was raised in Peterborough, Canada. Bach joined the Canadian rock band Kid Wikkid in 1983 when he was 14 years old and stayed until 1985. Bach then joined Madame X from 1987 to 1988. In 1988, Bach replaced the original singer in Skid Row. The band sold 20 million albums worldwide before Bach was reportedly fired in 1996. In 1996, Bach formed the short-lived Last Hard Men, and launched a solo career in 1999, began performing in Broadway musicals in 2000, and began worked television reality shows in 2002 and sitcoms in 2003. Bach currently resides in Los Angeles, California. His third and most recent album is 2014's Give 'Em Hell.
At B.B. King Blues Club & Grill tonight, Sebastian Bach knew which side of the bread was buttered; nearly all of his repertoire was from Skid Row's platinum years. Backed by guitarist Brent Woods, bassist Rob De Luca, and drummer Bobby Jarzombek, the set started with the softer songs, but in short time revved up the motors for classic fist-pumping rock. The vocals were halfway muddled in the mix, and early in the show Bach asked the sound engineer for more volume on his vocals, but the engineer responded that everything was fine. The only time the vocals were loud and clear was when he seemingly spontaneously ripped into a cappella snippets from his role in Broadway's Jekyll & Hyde. Even when he was not heard well, however, Bach and his larger-than-life personality and his swinging, sweaty hair could not help but be the focus of attention. The area in front of the stage was cleared of tables for the evening, allowing the audience to press up against the stage, and Bach used that advantage to connect with the fans by touching them and speaking with them. In the end, however, while Bach is no longer leading the hair-metal pack, he kept his show lively and enjoyable.
Visit Sebastian Bach at www.sebastianbach.com.
Setlist
  1. Little Wing (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
  2. Breakin' Down (Skid Row song)
  3. 18 and Life (Skid Row song)
  4. I Remember You (Skid Row song)
  5. Big Guns (Skid Row song)
  6. Sweet Little Sister (Skid Row song)
  7. The Threat (Skid Row song)
  8. Piece of Me (Skid Row song)
  9. American Metalhead (PainmuseuM cover)
  10. Rattlesnake Shake (Skid Row song)
  11. This Is the Moment / Confrontation (snippets from Jekyll & Hyde)
  12. Monkey Business (Skid Row song) (with "Whipping Post," The Allman Brothers Band cover)
  13. Youth Gone Wild (Skid Row song)
  14. T.N.T. (AC/DC cover)

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Birthday Massacre at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall

Chibi
Rhythm guitarist Rainbow and vocalist Chibi met at a college fine-arts program and began composing music together in 1999 in London, Canada. Rainbow recruited childhood friend Michael Falcore to join on lead guitar since they had already been recording music together in high school. None of the three had been in bands before, but together they became Imagica, a name inspired by the 1991 fantasy novel Imajica. In 2002, the band became the Birthday Massacre in order to avoid confusion with a California death metal band with the same name. The Birthday Massacre in 2001 relocated to Toronto, Canada. The Birthday Massacre's seventh and most recent studio albums, Under Your Spell, was released on June 9, 2017. The band's current lineup consists of Chibi, Rainbow, Falcore, keyboardist Owen, bassist Nate Manor, and drummer Rhim.

At the Marlin Room at Webster Hall tonight, the Birthday Massacre looked like a gothic rock band, but the high-energy performance actually encompassed many shades of hard rock and even pop. Chibi occasionally sounded like she was singing a top 40 melody, but then would switch to a near death metal growl. Similarly, some of the accompaniment was rooted in synth melodies, but more often the band crunched nu-metal riffs. Dark wave chilled and industrial metal spiked several songs. A churning reworking of Tommy James & the Shondells' pop song "I Think We're Alone Now" was nearly unrecognizable for all its turbo speed and heaviness. The contrasts of light and dark, smooth and rough, airy and heavy were prevalent, and while this mix might not be to everyone's tastes, the experimental blend was a credit to the band's integrity.

Visit the Birthday Massacre at www.thebirthdaymassacre.com.

Setlist:
  1. Nowhere
  2. One
  3. Red Stars
  4. Looking Glass
  5. All Of Nothing
  6. Counterpane
  7. Destroyer
  8. Divide
  9. Superstition
  10. Lovers End
  11. Happy Birthday
  12. Video Kid
  13. Under Your Spell
  14. No Tomorrow
  15. Leaving Tonight
  16. Alibis
  17. Pins And Needles
  18. In the Dark
Encore:
  1. Blue
  2. I Think We're Alone Now (Tommy James & the Shondells cover)
  3. Broken

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Alice Smith at City Winery

During her childhood, raised between Washington, D.C. and a farm in Augusta, Georgia, Alice Smith was raised on a steady flow of gospel, pop, soul and a little go-go. She relocated to New York for college, became involved in the Black Rock Coalition and its Afropunk movement, and released her first album in 2006. Becoming a mother to a baby girl with recording artist Citizen Cope, Smith relocated to Los Angeles, California. Her second and most recent album is 2013's She.

Alice Smith's career has been hindered more than helped by recording contracts that held her music hostage. When she announced at City Winery tonight that she has a new album coming out, the applause and cheers from her fans were thunderous. Smith's set included older songs and newer songs, often delivered with her signature blend of bluesy, jazzy vocals and mid-tempo grooves. Accompanied only by a pianist and occasionally by a harmonizing backup vocalist, the sparse arrangements allowed her vocals to shine brightly. Many of her self-penned songs explored pensive reflections on the usual joys and tribulations of life, and her uncanny four-octave range subtly breathed vivid life into these lyrics. When she reinterpreted Screamin' Jay Hawkins "I Put a Spell on You" and the traditional folk blues song "House of the Rising Sun," she patterned her re-stylings from familiar versions but then injected so much unique phrasing that the troubling story-songs became her own. Despite the trauma she has suffered from music industry puppetry, Smith's talents are too large to stifle.

Visit Alice Smith at www.alicesmith.com.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Adrenaline Mob at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall

Russell Allen & Mike Orlando
Russell Allen was born in Long Beach, California, and was a jouster at a Medieval Times Dinner Theater before he started singing in the band Symphony X in 1995. Guitarist Mike Orlando, based out of Staten Island, New York, was Guitar Player magazine's Superstar Of The Year award in 2009. Demo sessions for what was planned to be Allen's solo album in 2011 turned into Adrenaline Mob, a band that has included drummers Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold) and A.J. Pero (Twisted Sister), bassist Paul Di Leo (Fozzy) and John Moyer (Disturbed), and rhythm guitarist Rich Ward (Fozzy), among others. Adrenaline Mob presently consists of Allen, Orlando, bassist David "Dave Z" Zablidowsky (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Jeff Scott Soto) and drummer Jordan Cannata. Adrenaline Mob's third album, We the People, was released on June 2, 2017.
Almost six years to the date after Adrenaline Mob debuted at the Hiro Ballroom, the band tonight headlined a few blocks away at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall. Adrenaline Mob had been mostly silent since shortly after the sudden death of drummer A.J. Pero on a 2015 tour, but the band is back, loud and wild as ever. Although the band was born decades later, here was textbook example of what late 1970s/early 1980s rock was all about: strong singing, dazzling guitar playing, hard-hitting riffs and grooves, a chest-thumping rhythm section and rock star showmanship. Most of the show was comprised of hard-edged rock and roll songs, with a few requisite power ballads for radio-tailored purposes. The set majored on heart and minored on rallying fist pumpers. These king-sized musical talents would do well to write a few more of the latter.
Visit Adrenaline Mob at www.adrenalinemob.com.
Setlist
  1. Mob Is Back
  2. Let It Go
  3. Hit the Wall
  4. Chasing Dragons
  5. Dearly Departed
  6. All on the Line
  7. King of the Ring
  8. Judgment Day
  9. Indifferent
  10. Undaunted
  11. The Mob Rules (Black Sabbath cover)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Quicksilver Daydream at Mercury Lounge

Adam Lytle/Quicksilver Daydream
Singer-songwriter Adam Lytle was born in Pontiac, Michigan, lived as a youth on a farm in Maineville, Ohio, and almost a decade ago moved to Brooklyn, New York. He led Wild Leaves through two EPS and many local performances, but with the band going on hiatus in 2016, Lytle began recording songs alone at home using an analog tape machine that he purchased from a dead man's estate. Under the alias of Quicksilver Daydream, he will release a debut album, Echoing Halls, on June 16, 2017.

When he performs solo with an acoustic guitar at local venues like Pete's Candy Store, Quicksilver Daydream is an intriguing although somewhat typical folk act. Performing tonight at Mercury Lounge as a band (with keyboardist Kramer Sanguinetti, bassist Brett Banks, guitarist Joey Deady, and drummer Cole Emoff), however, Quicksilver Daydream was a much more compelling outfit. Sanguinetti used a Mellotron for its electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape-replay ability, and the sound eerily recalled the earliest periods of psychedelic folk rock in mid-1960s. Over a set of nine songs, the band performed similarly soft, lilting songs with pop melodies and retro arrangements. Quicksilver Daydream even covered a song by Pearls before Swine, which was perhaps the little-known founder of the psychedelic folk movement. The only objection to the performance was that at approximately 30 minutes, the set was too brief.

Visit Quicksilver Daydream at www.quicksilverdaydream.com.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Raúl Malo at City Winery

Raúl Francisco Martínez-Malo Jr., known professionally as Raúl Malo, was born in Miami, Florida, where he spent many nights in neighborhood music rooms watching local flamenco-styled guitarists and dancers perform their dramatic zarzuelas. Malo co-formed the country rock Mavericks in 1989, becoming the band's lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter. The Mavericks began playing both the local punk and alternative bars and the trendy rock clubs of South Beach, and evolved into a Grammy-winning, multi-platinum band. The Mavericks disbanded in the early 2000s, and Malo pursued a solo career, leaning towards Americana music, and also participated in the Los Super Seven supergroup, which took a progressive approach to traditional music from Cuba, Mexico and Texas. The Mavericks re-formed in 2012. Malo's sixth and most recent solo album, Sinners and Saints, was released in 2010.

At the first of two shows at City Winery tonight, Raúl Malo performed solo, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar and, briefly, a piano. Nearly every song Malo sang has been performed by the Mavericks, but here these songs were given a stripped down interpretation. He seldom finger-picked his guitar strings; he mostly strummed chords. This simplicity allowed his rich baritone to ring out stronger than ever, and accented how he may be gifted with the most beautiful voice in contemporary music. Regardless of the lyrics, these intense vocals made every song, whether in English or Spanish, sound thoroughly romantic. Many songs sounded like they belonged in the Great American Songbook and others displayed a doo-wop leaning, two methods that prize both timbre and range, and Malo carried them well. Malo's pinnacle moments may have been in his covers of "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City" (a Nilsson cover) and "Crying" (a Roy Orbison cover). Ultimately, a Mavericks show is longer, rocks harder and is more satisfying, but Malo was extraordinarily impressive as a solo artist.

Visit Raúl Malo at www.RaulMalo.com.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Zips at Otto's Shrunken Head

John Zip
After the 1977 demise of Road Angel, a pub rock band in Glasgow, Scotland, John McNeill (later to be known as John Zip) formed a punk rock quartet called the Zips in 1978. The band caught the tail end of the original punk rock movement, playing all the local punk venues and releasing a few singles and EPs. As history would have it, MTV and the 1980s killed punk in favor of the more commercial new wave movement and with nowhere left to play, the Zips pogoed into the sunset in 1981. Time has a way of turning failure into success, and Zips tracks later appeared on compilation albums and the original singles fetched up to $427 on eBay. John Zip reformed the Zips in 2001 and in 2006 released a debut album, 27 years after the debut single. The Zips' third and most recent album is 2015's Down with the Zips.

Backed by a trio of local musicians (guitarist Brian Morgan of the Carvels NYC, bassist Sean Sanders and drummer Joe Dugan), John Zip led this version of the Zips through a well-rehearsed set tonight at Otto's Shrunken Head. As in the past, it was four musicians, three chords, and two minute buzz bombs for an impressively executed punk rock performance. The songs were constructed around pop melodies played through bombastic blasts. This was nearly 40 years later, so the set may have lacked the anger that the original band may have exhibited, but the energetic thrust and the cleverness of the songs was mighty. Put these guys on the road!

Visit the Zips at www.thezips.co.uk.

Setlist:
  1. Barbara Wire
  2. Thin Blue Line
  3. 40 Years of Punk
  4. Over and Over
  5. Siren Song
  6. Morning Standard
  7. Govern Meant
  8. Don't Be Pushed Around
  9. 19 Forevva
  10. Victim

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Northside Festival 2017/Day 3

Northside returned to Brooklyn for its ninth year on June 7-11, 2017. By the end of the festival, Miguel, Thursday, Dirty Projectors, and Kamasi Washington headlined concerts in McCarren Park. Craig Leon & Martin Rev, Downtown Boys, Elvis Depressedly, Girlpool, Happyness, Hoops, The Hotelier, Jay Som, Lætitia Sadier, Lower Dens, Mary Timony, Mirah, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and PUP also will have performed. The festival also will have included nearly 300 lesser-known bands from around the world.

Northside Festival featured both innovation and music tracks, so conference attendees could attend panels during the day and concerts at night. Northside Innovation featured over 150 speakers leading panel discussions and workshops on emerging technology, media innovations, the future of original video content, startup pitch competitions, and dozens of other topics. Northside Music featured live and dj music in clubs, parks, rooftops and streets. The Northside Block Party today and tomorrow features a free community event that showcased art, crafts, food and local food.

Northside Media Group, the publishers of The L Magazine Brooklyn Magazine, and BAMbill, started the Northside Festival in 2009 showcasing 50 bands. Nine years later, the Northside Festival 2017 hosted more than 300 bands over the course of three nights in 34 venues from Greenpoint to Bushwick.
Quicksilver Daydream at Pete's Candy Store
Miguel at McCarren Park
Julia Holter at National Sawdust
No Ice at the Gutter
Lady Pills at Muchmore's
Mobley at the Knitting Factory
Oracles at the Knitting Factory

Friday, June 9, 2017

Northside Festival 2017/Day 2

Northside returned to Brooklyn for its ninth year on June 7-11, 2017. Miguel, Thursday, Dirty Projectors, and Kamasi Washington would headline concerts in McCarren Park. Craig Leon & Martin Rev, Downtown Boys, Elvis Depressedly, Girlpool, Happyness, Hoops, The Hotelier, Jay Som, Lætitia Sadier, Lower Dens, Mary Timony, Mirah, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and PUP were among the performers. Before the series ends on Sunday night, the festival will have also included nearly 300 lesser-known bands from around the world.

Northside Festival features both innovation and music tracks, so conference attendees could attend panels during the day and concerts at night. Northside Innovation featured over 150 speakers leading panel discussions and workshops on emerging technology, media innovations, the future of original video content, startup pitch competitions, and dozens of other topics. Northside Music features live and dj music in clubs, parks, rooftops and streets. The Northside Block Party this weekend will be a free community event that showcases art, crafts, food and local food.

Northside Media Group, the publishers of The L Magazine Brooklyn Magazine, and BAMbill, started the Northside Festival in 2009 showcasing 50 bands. Nine years later, the Northside Festival 2017 hosted more than 300 bands over the course of three nights in 34 venues from Greenpoint to Bushwick.
YeraSon at Kinfolk 90
Sammus at McCarren Park
Lydia Lunch at the Hall at MP
Bush Tetras at the Hall at MP
Ian Sweet at Warsaw
Kristen Kontrol at the Park Church Co-Op
Kelsey Lu at Saint Vitus
The Downtown Boys at Saint Vitus