Friday, May 11, 2018

Trampled by Turtles at the PlayStation Theater

Based in Duluth, Minnesota, vocalist/guitarist Dave Simonett played in a rock band in 2003 when his equipment was stolen. Left with only an acoustic guitar, Simonett was inspired to begin playing acoustic music. He assembled other local musicians who also were strangers to folk and bluegrass, including fiddler Ryan Young (who played drums in a speed metal act) and jam band bassist Tim Saxhaug.  The ensemble was originally meant to be a side project, but with the addition of mandolin player Erik Berry and banjo player Dave Carroll, the musicians began stamping their identities into the enterprise in such a way that they could not stop. Their former bands dissipated. The musicians became the progressive bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles. The quintet then became a sextet with the addition of cellist Eamonn McLain. The band's eighth and most recent album, Life is Good on the Open Road, was released on May 4, 2018.

Headlining tonight at the PlayStation Theater, Trampled by Turtles performed using loudly amplified acoustic instruments. The six stringed instruments were the mainstays of bluegrass, but the fast and frenetic manner in which they were played was largely untraditional. The musicians' origins as rock musicians sparked a dynamic combustion, flamed by energetic arrangements. The musicians traded frenzied solos that challenged the next player. This was not back-porch bluegrass, this was an enlivened and electrified adaption of a classic genre. Yet, with all cylinders going, the musicians maintained their signature multi-part harmonies, which seemed to ground the songs. Trampled by Turtles no longer relies on borrowed styles that launched the band; the music is now on the cutting edge of a hybrid form of bluegrass rock and roll.

Visit Trampled by Turtles at www.trampledbyturtles.com.

Setlist:
  1. Kelly's Bar
  2. We All Get Lonely
  3. The Middle
  4. Thank You, John Steinbeck
  5. Annihilate
  6. Right Back Where We Started
  7. Life is Good on the Open Road
  8. Blood in the Water
  9. I Went to Hollywood
  10. I'm Not There Anymore
  11. Good Land
  12. I Learn the Hard Way
  13. Wait So Long
  14. Victory
  15. Codeine
  16. Midnight on the Interstate
  17. Truck
  18. Help You
  19. Widower's Heart
  20. Alone

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Bash & Pop at Coney Island Baby

Tommy Stinson learn to play bass at age 11, playing and covering songs with his brother, guitarist Bob Stinson, and drummer Chris Mars under the name Dogbreath in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After recruiting singer Paul Westerberg, the band changed its name to the Impediments and in 1980 changed again to the Replacements. The Replacements attained a considerable cult following until its breakup in 1991. The alternative rock band reunited briefly in 2006, and again from 2012 to 2015. After the band's initial split, Tommy Stinson in 1992 formed Bash & Pop, a name selected from a contest hosted by a New York radio station, but the band split in 1994. Stinson then formed Perfect, but that band split in 1998, and Stinson joined Guns N' Roses until 2016, in the meantime also recording two solo albums and playing occasionally in Soul Asylum. In 2016, after working on songs for either a solo album or for the imploding Replacements, Stinson released them under the Bash & Pop moniker, reviving the brand; the album, Anything Could Happen, was released on January 20, 2017. Bash & Pop presently consists of Tommy Stinson on vocals and rhythm guitar, Steve Selvidge on lead guitar, Justin Perkins on bass, and Joe Sirois on drums. Stinson is now based in Hudson, New York.

Bash & Pop returned to New York, headlining the hot new club Coney Island Baby. Bathed in blue light for the entire set, Stinson and company performed polished pop punk songs that sometimes seemed impromptu. This was an informal show, so the musicians appeared wearing casual streetwear rather than the matching 1960s-styled suits they wore in 2017. Early on, Stinson announced to the audience that he had no set list, and so as the show progressed he called out song titles to his musicians and took audience requests.  (A fan shouted “Play a Who Song” and the band responded with a cover of "The Kids Are Alright.") Stinson's vocals flattened often, but were lifted by his rousing rock and roll energy. The band fared well, with Catherine Popper substituting on bass, as all four musicians locked, rocked and rolled at a speedy clip. The performance ignited a rock and roll party and that felt good.

Visit Bash & Pop at www.BashAndPop.com.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Luicidal at the Bowery Electric

Louichi Mayorga
In his youth, Louichi Mayorga lived between Santa Monica and Venice, California. While in college, he joined the Venice-based Suicidal Tendencies. Mayorga played bass and wrote songs for Suicidal Tendencies from 1981 to 1988 during the band's hardcore punk years; after Mayorca's departure, Suicidal Tendencies began gravitating to a more metal sound. Mayorca played in Los Cycos, Uncle Slam, Horny Toad, AgainST and other bands until 2012, when he formed Luicidal to play songs from Suicidal Tendencies' earliest albums. The band has since written original music as well. Luicidal's sole album, Luicidal, was released in 2014. The band presently consists of Mayorga, vocalist Mando Ochoa, guitarist Marty Ramirez, drummer Vince Sollecito, and Mike Avilez (tour vocals).

Headlining a rare show in New York, Luicidal hit the Bowery Electric with a set that revisited the earliest days of Venice's skate punk and thrash scene. In the 1980s, President Reagan's America had raised a generation of angry and angst-filled musicians, to where the formerly polarized hardcore punk and speed metal movements strengthened themselves by marrying their commonalities and converging. Luicidal authentically packed into its set the seething unrest, unhinged fury and brutal intensity of those turbulent times. With Avilez as the band's manic front person, the quartet pivoted non-stop on an aggressive, bombastic style featuring spat vocals, lightning-fast lead guitar licks, and battering rhythms. The new band 's repertoire showcased two original songs but was comprised largely of songs from Suicidal Tendencies' first album. Luicidal did not break new ground, but successfully mirrored the rage and outrage of an older epoch, with a newly-fueled vehement ire that seemed fitting for these new times also.

Visit Luicidal at www.luicidal.com.

Setlist:
  1. Look Up (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  2. I Want More (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  3. Subliminal (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  4. Won't Fall in Love Today (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  5. Possessed to Skate (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  6. Two-Sided Politics (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  7. I Saw Your Mommy (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  8. Possessed (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  9. War Inside My Head (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  10. Knife Fight
  11. Fascist Pig (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  12. Suicidal Failure (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  13. Memories of Tomorrow (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  14. Human Guinea Pig (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  15. Green Light
  16. The Prisoner (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  17. Hearing Voices (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  18. Looking in Your Eyes (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  19. Institutionalized (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  20. I Shot the Devil (Suicidal Tendencies song)
  21. Pledge Your Allegiance (Suicidal Tendencies song)


Friday, May 4, 2018

Ace Frehley at Sony Hall

As a youth, Paul "Ace" Frehley was part of the Ducky Boys street gang  in his native Bronx, New York. The Frehleys were a musical family, however, and when a 13-year-old Ace received an electric guitar as a Christmas present in 1964, he immersed himself in learning to play it. Frehley played in local bands while working short-term jobs—mail carrier, furniture deliverer, messenger, and liquor store delivery boy. In 1972, while working as a taxi driver, he responded to a classified ad and auditioned for and was accepted into Wicked Lester, the band that would soon become KISS. He remained Kiss' lead guitarist until his departure in 1982, launched his own career under his own name and with Frehley's Comet, then rejoined Kiss from 1996 until its first farewell tour in 2002. Frehley's seventh and most recent solo album, Origins, Vol. 1, a collection of cover tunes, was released in 2016, but his next album, Spaceman, is due in 2018. Frehley presently is based in San Diego, California.

Ace Frehley already released a single, "Bronx Boy," from the forthcoming album. Oddly, Frehley mentioned the single and the accompanying album, but did not perform any new songs at Sony Hall tonight. Instead, Frehley relied on a set list featuring five songs from solo albums plus eight KISS songs, all from the 1970s and 1980s. Frehley did not wear his signature Kiss face paint, but did bring his KISS-era special effects guitars, a custom Les Paul that emits a series of lights and a Gibson Les Paul guitar that smokes. Frehley's limitations were in his vocals, and so he let his solid accompanists (guitarist Richie Scarlett, bassist Chris Wyse and drummer Scot Coogan) each sing a song. In the end, Frehley gave the audience what it wanted -- lots of Kiss songs, lots and lots of lead guitar and lots and lots and lots of guitar picks tossed into the audience.

Visit Ace Frehley at www.acefrehley.com.

Setlist:
  1. Parasite (KISS song)
  2. Rip It Out
  3. Snowblind
  4. Love Gun (KISS song, sung by Scot Coogan)
  5. Rocket Ride (KISS song)
  6. Rock Soldiers (Frehley's Comet song)
  7. Bass Solo
  8. Strange Ways (KISS song, sung by Chris Wyse)
  9. New York Groove (Hello cover)
  10. 2 Young 2 Die (sung by Richie Scarlett)
  11. Shock Me (KISS song)
  12. Ace Frehley Guitar Solo
  13. Cold Gin (KISS song)
Encore:
  1. Detroit Rock City (KISS song)
  2. Deuce (KISS song)


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Anvil at le Poisson Rouge

Steve "Lips" Kudlow
Guitarist Steve "Lips" Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner were high school friends when they began playing music together in 1973 in Toronto, Canada. By 1978, they had a band called Lips; in 1981, the band became Anvil. The band recorded and toured, but as detailed in the 2008 documentary film, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, the band suffered an ongoing streak of bad fortune and never achieved wide popularity. The band presently consists of Lips, Reiner and bassist Chris Robertson. Anvil's 17th album, Pounding the Pavement, was released on January 19, 2018.

Anvil headlined le Poisson Rouge tonight, and despite the band's nearly 40-year longevity, the small venue had a light attendance. Anvil nevertheless pummeled through with hard metal, fast guitar licks and light-hearted lyrics. Anvil performed as a power trio, which required each member to excel in his playing, and the three musicians accomplished the goal set before them. There was no career-defining song to anchor the set, but instead the band performed a career-spanning set of hard rocking songs that incited head banging and fist pumping responses. Classic metal fans might not necessarily name Anvil as their favorite band, but the Anvil concert demonstrated that the genre still breathes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul at the PlayStation Theater

Steve Van Zandt
Steven Lento was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, and as a youth lived in nearby Watertown. His mother remarried, the seven-year-old boy became Steven Van Zandt, and the family relocated to Middletown Township, New Jersey. In his teenage years, he played guitar locally in the Whirlwinds, the Mates and the Shadows. Van Zandt grew up in the Jersey Shore music scene, and performed with Bruce Springsteen in Steel Mill in 1969-1970 and the Bruce Springsteen Band in 1971. Van Zandt also co-founded and played in Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes in 1974. Van Zandt then played in Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band from 1975 to 1984, returning briefly in 1995 and permanently since 1999. In 1981, Van Zandt began fronting an on-and-off group he calls Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul. Turning to acting, Van Zandt took one of the core roles in The Sopranos from 1999 to 2007 and in Lilyhammer from 2011 to 2015. Since 2002, Van Zandt has hosted Little Steven's Underground Garage, a weekly syndicated radio show; he is also the program director for two radio channels for the SiriusXM Satellite Radio network. His most recent solo album, SoulFire Live!, was released on April 27, 2018.

The Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul concert tonight at the PlayStation Theater raised funds and awareness for the TeachRock curriculum, and teachers were offered free tickets to the concert if they attended a workshop on the project prior to the concert. For about two and a half hours, Van Zandt and his 14 accompanists provided a big and full blast, balancing heartland rock, 1960s style soul and Phil Spector-influenced ballads. The concert began with a lively cover of Arthur Conley's 1967 hit "Sweet Soul Music" and segued into an energetic set of songs Van Zandt recorded or wrote for other artists, along with quite a few other covers. Sporadically throughout the evening, Van Zandt ripped into electrifying solos, but he did not allow them to dominate the performance; he invited many of his musicians break into jams as well. The five horn players and three backup vocalists helped make the choruses the summits of his songs, and all the movement on stage made the show visually stimulating. Overall, Van Zandt and his allies performed an upbeat and entertaining show, fit for a rock and roll party.

Visit Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul at www.littlesteven.com.

Setlist:
  1. Sweet Soul Music (Arthur Conley cover)
  2. Soulfire (The Breakers cover)
  3. I'm Coming Back (Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes cover)
  4. The Blues Is My Business (Etta James cover)
  5. Love on the Wrong Side of Town (Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes cover)
  6. Until the Good Is Gone
  7. Angel Eyes
  8. Some Things Just Don't Change (Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes cover)
  9. St. Valentines Day
  10. Standing in the Line of Fire (Gary “U.S.” Bonds cover)
  11. I Saw the Light (Little Steven cover)
  12. Salvation (Little Steven cover)
  13. The City Weeps Tonight (Little Steven cover)
  14. Down and Out in New York City (James Brown cover)
  15. Princess of Little Italy
  16. Solidarity (Little Steven cover)
  17. Groovin' Is Easy (The Electric Flag cover)
  18. Ride the Night Away (Jimmy Barnes cover)
  19. Bitter Fruit (Little Steven cover)
  20. Forever
Encore:
  1. I Don't Want to Go Home (Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes cover)
  2. Out of the Darkness (Little Steven cover)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Jon Foreman at City Winery

Jon Foreman was born in San Bernardino County, California, but his family moved to Massachusetts and Virginia during his childhood. By his early teens, Foreman's family moved back to Southern California, this time settling in San Diego. There in 1996 he formed Chin Up, which quickly became the multi-platinum, Grammy-winning alternative rock band Switchfoot, named after a surfing term. Contracted at first to a Christian record company, Switchfoot had limited exposure until several of the band's songs were featured in the 2002 film A Walk to Remember. The band's next album sold 2.6 million copies. Alongside his Swichfoot albums, Foreman released a set of four solo EPS in 2008 and another set of four EPs in 2015, and also recorded two albums under the name Fiction Family with Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek. Foreman currently resides in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, where he continues to surf.

One October morning in 2015, Jon Foreman and his friends embarked on a music journey throughout San Diego aiming to play 25 shows in 24 hours at venues including a children's hospital, a wedding, a Mexican restaurant and his old high school. That adventure was chronicled in a documentary called 25 in 24. At City Winery tonight, the movie was screened, and then Foreman performed live, accompanied by a cellist and a drummer. After a few songs, he instructed the audience to create the rest of his set list by writing notes and leaving them by his feet on the stage. The songs chosen by the audience featured some of his most stirring lyrics. Without the more bombastic approach of Switchfoot, the trio performed the songs in a new and softer package that was intimate and engaging. In the end, the informality of the presentation was personable and charming, and while the audience might have preferred the Switchfoot versions, this gentler adaption was uniquely warm and cozy.

Visit Jon Foreman at www.jonforeman.com.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Sweet at the Gramercy Theatre

Vocalist Brian Connolly and drummer Mick Tucker had played together in the mid 1960s in a British soul band called Wainwright's Gentlemen. In 1968 they formed a new band called the Sweetshop. They recruited bassist/vocalist Steve Priest, and called the band's name to the Sweet. Over time, they merged the band's early bubble gum pop with harmony vocals and hard rock, prefiguring what would become glam rock in the 1970s. After many personnel changes, the classic line-up of Connolly, Tucker, Priest and guitarist Andy Scott until 1978 enjoyed a series of international hits including "Little Willy", "The Ballroom Blitz", "Fox on the Run" and "Love Is Like Oxygen." Popularity waned and the band split in 1981. Beginning in 1984, Scott, Connolly and Priest each formed their own version of the Sweet, such that there were as many as three versions of the Sweet co-existing simultaneously. The two surviving members are still active in their respective versions; Scott's is based in the UK and Priest's in the US.

The Sweet celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018. Steve Priest's version of the Sweet headlined tonight at the Gramercy Theatre, and Priest, along with Brooklyn-born vocalist Paulie Z, guitarist Mitch Perry, keyboardist Stevie Stewart and drummer Richie Onori reprised the band's hits from the 1970s and extended them with hard rock flourishes. Glam was still present: Priest, now 70 years old, sitting in a chair for the entire performance, wore a cape and two-color eye make-up; Stewart wore a leather top hat and a kilt; Z changed wardrobe twice, ending in a gold lamé suit. The performance felt similarly dated; while the original recordings of "Fox on the Run" and "The Ballroom Blitz" have been revived in recent film soundtracks, the band's performance of these songs and others were now better suited as toe-tappers than as fist-pumpers. Perry's stinging guitar work, leaning a bit on the heavy metal side, was the most gripping aspect of the performance. Otherwise, the concert was meant only for rockers nostalgic for the 1970s.

Visit Steve Priest's Sweet at www.thesweetband.com.

Setlist:
  1. Action
  2. Hell Raiser
  3. Teenage Rampage
  4. Love Is Like Oxygen
  5. Set Me Free
  6. No You Don't
  7. Sweet F.A.
  8. Done Me Wrong Alright
  9. Little Willy / Blockbuster / Wig-Wam Bam / Little Willy
  10. Fox on the Run
  11. AC/DC
  12. The Ballroom Blitz


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hatebreed aboard the Harbor Lights

Jamey Jasta (born James Shanahan) was an adolescent when his mother took a night job and he joined the hardcore punk scene in New Haven, Connecticut. His first band, Dreadnaught, became Jasta 14 and played locally, but then he found international success when he co-founded Hatebreed in 1994 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Hatebreed straddled the hardcore, heavy metal and metalcore genres and sold 1.2 million records. The band's seventh and most recent album of original material is 2016's The Concrete Confessional. Hatebreed presently consists of Jasta and two original members, guitarist Wayne Lozinak and bassist Chris Beattie, plus guitarist Frank Novinec and drummer Matt Byrne.

Summer started early and Rocks Off began its concert cruises around lower Manhattan. Hatebreed headlined a concert aboard the Harbor Lights on a mist-filled night when at times the waters were rocking even harder than the bands. On this tour, Hatebreed is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the band's debut album and 15 years since the breakthrough album, so tonight's set list was heavy on those two albums, including songs the band normally does not perform live. The repertoire brought the band back to basics. Jasta spit lyrics with his gutteral growl, backed by thrashing guitarwork and pounding rhythms. While the boat tottered from side to side, Hatebreed bludgeoned its seafaring fans with a heavy beatdown. The activated audience responded forcefully, but with no stage on the boat, the only barrier between the band and the audience was a row of fence stanchions that a team of security guards held firm against the hard-moshing fans. Despite restlessness both on the waters and in the boat, the end result was a successful interactive concert event.

Visit Hatebreed at www.hatebreed.com.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Devon Allman Project at Sony Hall

Devon Allman  was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, just as his father's band was becoming popular. Devon is the son of Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band. Devon's parents divorced when he was an infant, and he raised by his mother in Corpus Christi and in St. Louis, Missouri. The father and son reunited when Devon was in his teens, by which time Devon was already playing guitar and keyboards. In the early 1990s, Devon Allman led a St. Louis-based band called the Dark Horses. He then led Honeytribe from 1999 to 2001, and again from 2005 to 2011. In 2011, he discontinued that band to begin playing in Royal Southern Brotherhood in New Orleans, Louisiana. His most recent effort, the Devon Allman Project, launched in 2018 and consists of Allman, guitarist Jackson Stokes, bassist Justin Corgan, organist Nicholas David, and drummers John Lum and R. Scott Bryan. The band has yet to record.

For the current tour, which stopped into the new Sony Hall tonight, the Devon Allman Project added a guest guitarist, Duane Betts, the son Allman Brothers Band's Dickey Betts. Duane opened with a 30-minute opening set using his guitarist, Johnny Stachela, and the Devon Allman Project's rhythm section. After intermission, the Project performed a one-hour set which consisted of songs from Honeytribe, Royal Southern Brotherhood, the Devon Allman Band, and a few covers. The set started with an electric set, then stools were brought on stage and the musicians sat for an acoustic mini-set that included the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil,' before returning to electric blues. The encore featured all eight musicians, and included two Allman Brothers Band songs, with Betts singing his dad's "Blue Skies" and Allman singing his dad's "One Way Out." The set overall was an agreeable mix of earthy blues and rock, but the audience roared louder when those covers were performed. While the band attempted to stand alone in its fine musicianship, songs and arrangements, it may take a while for the audiences to crave that individuality over an Allman Brothers Band redux.

Visit the Devon Allman Project at www.devonallmanproject.com.