Friday, October 14, 2016

Discharge at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall

J.J. Janiak
Discharge formed as a hardcore punk band in 1977 in Stoke-on-Trent, England. By 1980, Discharge was among the British punk bands that began leaning more towards thrash metal, featuring more grinding and distorted guitar sounds and faster, heavier percussion. The stylistic transition made by these bands was a trend known as "UK 82" or Second Generation UK Hardcore. The punk genre of d-beat was named after Discharge's distinctive drumbeat. This intense d-beat influenced the birth of thrash metal, black metal, crust punk, grindcore and various extreme metal subgenres. Over the years, the lineup in Discharge changed frequently, and the band went on hiatus at least twice. Discharge presently consists of vocalist Jeff "J.J." Janiak, guitarists Anthony "Bones" Roberts and Terence "Tezz" Roberts, bassist Royston "Rainy" Wainwright and drummer David "Proper" Caution. Discharge's seventh and most recent studio album, End of Days, was released on April 29, 2016.

Headlining tonight at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall, Discharge continued to cross the genres of hardcore punk and speed metal. J.J. Janiak is the newest member of the band, joining in 2014, but he was the focal point for the band, pacing the stage incessantly while coarsely shouting the lyrics as the nearly steadfast musicians around him scorched their fingers and drumsticks at blinding speeds. Although impossible to decipher, Discharge made social statements in "Drunk with Power", "Hatebomb", "Fight Back", "Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing", "Protest and Survive" and "New World Order." An angry, defiant anarchistic demeanor fed these songs, but it was the fast and ferocious brutal assault that defined the performance.

Visit Discharge at

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Jacuzzi Boys at Max Fish

Gabriel Alcala
The Jacuzzi Boys formed in 2007 as a duo, guitarist/vocalist Gabriel Alcala and drummer Diego Monasterios, two Venezuelan-born youth who attended the same high school in Miami, Florida. They found that their first few live performances and home recordings were lacking, so they invited Cuban-American Danny Gonzales to join them on bass. The three musicians have given up their day jobs in the restaurant and flooring businesses and have hit the highway. The Jacuzzi Boys will release a fourth album, Ping Pong, on October 21, 2016.

Max Fish is a bar with no stage, so bands play in a hallway at the bottom of a staircase. Despite the lack of safe space, the Jacuzzi Boys' garage punk set increasingly saw more and more listeners pogoing and slamming against one another. Honing a raw psychedelic acid rock sound similar to the 1960s' Seeds and Leaves, the Jacuzzi Boys' raucous live set induced kinetic abandon like a fast-spreading virus. Closing in on a microphone from behind a curtain of black hair, Alcala snarled cryptic lyrics and played a bright, stinging guitar to Gonzales' deep bass grooves and Monasterios' crashing drums. If they played more than three chords, those extra chords were unnecessary. Surprisingly, though the songs were intrinsically basic, the band was able to make each song sound fresh and unique. The Jacuzzi Boys is a band worth discovering.

Visit the Jacuzzi Boys at

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Airbourne at the Gramercy Theatre

Joel O'Keeffe
In Warrnambool, a small Victorian country town on the southwestern coast of Australia, an 11-year-old Joel O'Keeffe was singing and learning to play guitar. Shortly afterwards, his younger brother, Ryan O'Keeffe, got his first drum kit. A few years later, Joel met David Roads when the two worked at a local hotel. The two brought their guitars to work and, after their shifts, jammed on song ideas. The O’Keeffe brothers invited Roads to join their rehearsals at their house. Adding a bassist, the quartet became the hard rocking Airbourne in 2003; Justin Street replaced the original bassist early on. In 2004 the four-piece won a statewide band competition in Melbourne, Australia. The band relocated to Melbourne in 2005, and to the United States in 2008. Airborne released its fourth studio album, Breakin' Outta Hell, on September 23, 2016.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, Airbourne stripped down their hard rock to its basic parts: a flashy, bare-chested, throaty vocalist, hardy party lyrics, and fist-pumping rock and roll anthems. What could go wrong? What could go wrong would be the obvious and inescapable comparisons to AC/DC. Airbourne's music sounded all too close to that of their fellow Australians. Nevertheless, Airbourne's sound also recalled other rocking bands like Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Status Quo and another Australian band, Rose Tattoo. None of those bands were around tonight, so the audience enjoyed a formidable concert by a potent up-and-comer underdog, Airbourne. Airbourne took the stage with high energy fury and a good-time vibe, roaring through head-bangers with a sharp bite and a rock and roll fury. Fun? During the concert, Joel opened beer cans by repeatedly hitting them against his head. Towards the end of the performance, he played guitar on top of the bar in the center of the theater, then hopped down and poured himself a draft beer before returning to the stage. Both in sight and sound, Airbourne embodied a most compelling rock and roll spirit.

Visit Airbourne at

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Fantastic Negrito at the Mercury Lounge

Xavier Dphrepaulezz (pronounced “dee-FREP-ah-lez”) was born in western Massachusetts, the eighth of 15 children. When Dphrepaulezz was 12 years old, his family moved to Oakland, California, where he entered foster care and joined the world of street gangs, guns, drug dealing and home invasions. Looking for a way out at age 18, Dphrepaulezz posed as a student to access a college's practice rooms and taught himself to play piano by copying the scales that others were practicing. Shortly thereafter, Dphrepaulezz began writing songs and playing guitar. One day, at age 20, after purchasing arms, he himself was robbed by armed thieves. The next day he hitchhiked to Los Angeles with $100 and a keyboard, looking to start a career in music. In 1996 he had a neo-soul debut album that went nowhere. He played briefly in several bands but gave up shortly after a near-fatal automobile accident in 1999 put him in a three-week coma. He returned to Oakland in 2008, where he started a family and worked a quarter-acre farm. Eventually he started playing music again, busked in Oakland and San Francisco and rebirthed himself as a neo-blues musician renamed Fantastic Negrito. After a debut UP in 2014, Fantastic Negrito's debut album, The Last Days of Oakland, was released on June 3, 2016,

Countless musicians have joined rock and blues, but Fantastic Negrito gave this marriage a new twist tonight at the Mercury Lounge. He did this by bridging the blues of the Lead Belly and Muddy Waters variety with other root sources, including plantation songs, and also the more modern styles of funk, punk, soul and hip hop. As such, the set was eclectic, but Negrito's soul and spirit were the threads that stitched the tapestry together. His authenticity came not only from his musical creativity, but because his new-found identity came armed with a message and a meaning. Yes, his songs were laced with reflective insights on love and relationships, but he also sang about experiences and misfortunes with poverty, racism and societal disenfranchisement. His life passages informed and graced his blues with riveting passion. Negrito's performance was a strong and revelatory bugle for our times.

Visit Fantastic Negrito at

Saturday, October 8, 2016

F.O.L.D.! at Forest Hills Stadium

New Yorker Nile Rodgers had his initial hits in the 1970s with Chic, then became a producer-on-demand for dozens of top artists. Several years ago, Rodgers was diagnosed with cancer, and this led to a renewed effort at writing and creating. In 2015, he launched the two-day Fold! Festival in Riverhead, New York, featuring Beck, Pharrell, Keith Urban, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Chic and other artists. The acronym FOLD! stands for "Freak Out Let's Dance!"

Rodgers hosted a similar three-day festival in June 2016 in London, England. Beck, Chic, Angie Stone, Alison Moyet and the Thompson Twins' Tom Bailey were among the performers there.

The festival returned to New York on a rainy night at Forest Hills Stadium on October 8. In addition to Chic, this evening's performers included Bette Midler, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Village People, Glee's Alex Newell, DJ Cassidy, DJ Nicky Siano of Studio 54. A portion of each ticket sold benefitted the not-for-profit We Are Family Foundation.

Rodgers told NY1 that he was thrilled to be performing at Forest Hills Stadium. “I get to play in the same spot the Beatles played in,” he said. “I get to play the same spot where Arthur Ashe played. Yeah, that’s a big deal.”

Nile Rodgers and his band, Chic, backed most of the artists and also performed their classic dance hits, "Le Freak" and "Good Times."

Bette Midler performed four songs, backed by Rodgers and band.

Earth, Wind & Fire closed the night with a full set.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Navy Gangs at Berlin

Vocalist/guitarist Matthew Tillwick, guitarist Noah Kohll, and drummer Gavin Cordaro began making music together in 2012 while in high school in Omaha, Nebraska. They worked for two months at a local zoo until they had enough cash for one way bus tickets to New York City, where they moved in temporarily with Kohll's grandmother. In New York, they met their bassist, Wilson Keithline from Providence, Rhode Island. Together they became the indie-pop Navy Gangs and recorded a four-song debut EP (release date: October 14, 2016) in said grandmother's apartment.

Launching a month of Friday night gigs at Berlin, Navy Gangs tonight seemed totally Brooklyn. The four musicians wore both expressionless wardrobe and expressionless faces as they performed a brief set of original compositions. The dynamics were in the music, not in the movements, as matter-of-fact vocals and jangly guitar chords led to smooth guitar leads and pop-flavored songs were powered by garage rock arrangements. Navy Gangs returns to Berlin on October 14, October 21 and October 28. 

Rips at Berlin

Several bands have used the name Rips, and there is little information on the web about the Brooklyn band Rips. The indie pop quartet consists of Dan and Bono on guitars and vocals, Gary on bass, and Henry on drums. If they have surnames, these have not yet been formally revealed. One member is from upstate, one is from New Jersey and two are from Texas. They met while working in a restaurant and formed a band. Austin Brown of Parquet Courts is producing tracks for a Rips album, and two songs are already on the web.

Opening for Navy Gangs at Berlin tonight, Rips played a bare-bones set of songs that recalled late 1970s garage rock. Comparisons have been made to Television, and rightly so, both in vocals and guitar style. Rips is a young band with potential for a bright future.

Visit Rips at

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Diarrhea Planet at the Bowery Ballroom

The original members of Diarrhea Planet met in 2009 while attending university in Nashville, Tennessee. Bored by the serious music-business ladder-climbing aspirations of their classmates, they set about creating the brashest rock and roll experience they could muster. In short time, an arsenal of four relentless, high-energy guitars blazed across the band's music and unleashed a signature sound. Diarrhea Planet released its third and most recent album, Turn to Gold, on June 10, 2016. The band presently is composed of vocalist/guitarist Jordan Smith, guitarist/vocalist Emmett Miller, guitarist Evan Bird, guitarist/vocalist Brent Toler, bassist Mike Boyle, and drummer Ian Bush.

Diarrhea Planet plays rowdy live shows, and tonight the Bowery Ballroom had a rock and roll cyclone wash through the room. The four guitarists lined up at the beginning of the concert and ripped into massive and frenetic stadium-sized riffs, backed by a locomotive rhythm section. Each guitarist offered his own style, but never mind, the whole experience was a cascading assault occasionally interrupted by lyrics. A bombastic torrent of boom remained raw and explosive throughout the set, grinding a groove beyond its natural limits with chunky, fuzzy riffs. Maybe this was silly, maybe it was stupid, but it was fun.

Visit Diarrhea Planet at

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Beacon Theatre

Derek Trucks was playing guitar in the Allman Brothers Band in 1999 when he met the opening act, guitarist/vocalist Susan Tedeschi; they married in 2001 and had two children. Although Tedeschi led the Susan Tedeschi Band since 1993 and Trucks had led the Derek Trucks Band since 1996, they combined their bands and music in 2007 to form Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi's Soul Stew Revival. This led in 2010 to the formation of the Tedeschi Trucks Band in Jacksonville, Florida. The Tedeschi Trucks Band's debut album in 2011 won a Grammy Award for Best Blues Album; the band's third and most recent studio album, Let Me Get By, was released on  January 29, 2016.

The 12-person Tedeschi Trucks Band returned to the Beacon Theatre for its annual residency, with promises of guest artists and unique set lists over the six-night run. On the fourth night, reviewed here, guitarists Jr. Mack, Luther Dickinson and Jorma Kaukonen joined the Tedeschi Trucks Band onstage, but these were not the most riveting moments. The stars of the performance were Tedeschi's powerful vocals and Trucks' guitar picking, which complemented each another wondrously. The set explored traditional blues infused with southern soul and other American roots music. On this night, 10 of the 16 songs were cover songs, including the Box Tops' "The Letter," the Grateful Dead's "Sugaree," and the Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling." No matter the song, the band took ownership by injecting passionate vocals and fiery guitar to make the performance unique. The band's rendition of the Allman Brothers Band's "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" was perhaps closest to its origin, but remained a house burner. At the end of the evening, the only thing better was knowing that a return on another night would produce yet another stellar blues jam.

Visit the Tedeschi Trucks Band at

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tyler Glenn at the Mercury Lounge

In 2004, Tyler Glenn's father suggested he play music the son of one of Glenn's father's friends. In 2005, the two musicians moved from California to Provo, Utah, where in 2007they founded a pop rock quartet, Neon Trees. The band succeeded with three hit albums. In 2014, Glenn came out as gay to Rolling Stone, discussing his experience as a closet gay within the Mormon religion. On April 28, 2016, Glenn released his debut single as a solo artist, the electro pop single "Trash." The video shows Glenn drinking alcohol from a bottle and spitting on an altered image of Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormons). Glenn's debut solo album, Excommunication, will be released on October 21, 2016.

At the Mercury Lounge tonight, Glenn was dark-haired and bearded, unlike his platinum-blond and clean-shaven persona in Neon Trees. His demeanor was unlike the bubbly singer of the pop band. He was very serious and spoke of his seven years with Neon Trees as a past event, suggesting he may no longer be a member in that band. He also stated that he recently discovered his religion was false, and that his motive for this album was not sales but instead a resource of comfort for LGBTQ youth. Onstage alone, pacing before a tall, illuminated X and singing to prerecorded tracks, Glenn showcased a scant 35 minutes of new material, with no further reference to Neon Trees. The performance initially was deep in electro-dance grooves, but when he emphasized his lyrics, they seemed to circle around a period where he experienced a crisis of faith, the emptiness of doubt and the darkness of a one-man rebellion. The lyrics, born in pain, were the most provocative and personal he has ever written, even as they clearly denounced everything he ever believed in for 32 years. Although these songs may be his road to healing, the lyrics invited listeners to enter into a deep wound, and the performance at times felt more unnerving than soothing. May Glenn triumph over this turbulent chapter in his life.

Visit Tyler Glenn at