Thursday, September 29, 2016

Janelle Monáe at Rumsey Playfield

Janelle Monáe Robinson, known professionally as Janelle Monáe, was born in Kansas City, Kansas, where she spent her early years. She moved to New York City to study drama, then relocated in 2001 to Atlanta, Georgia. In 2003, she began developing a science fiction musical concept in which her alter ego, Cindi Mayweather, an android in the year 2719, is a fugitive after breaking the law in her home town of Metropolis by falling in love with a human named Anthony Greendown and becoming a messianic figure to the android community of Metropolis. Monáe's most recent album, 2013's The Electric Lady, continued the utopian cyborg saga.

Monáe returned to New York City at a time when the New York Film Festival was premiering her film debut in Moonlight. Headlining the final concert of the annual SummerStage series tonight, Monáe lit up Central Park with her brand of funk, soul, pop and showmanship. Monáe was delivered by hand truck to center stage, where she initially remained motionless in her schoolgirl uniform and bizarre science fiction-inspired sunglasses. As "Givin' Em What They Love" grooved behind her, Monáe became a simmering fireball of activity. By the first chorus, she established her soaring vocal range. Her vocals were highlighted by many searing guitar leads and crashing drums rocking out the songs. In addition to her originals, Monáe covered James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)," the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," and a super rocking version of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy." Since the passing of Prince, there may not be anyone electrifying urban sounds like Janelle Monáe.

Visit Janelle Monáe at

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Metallica at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

James Hetfield
In 1981, Danish-born drummer Lars Ulrich was living in Los Angeles, California, when he placed an ad in a local newspaper seeking musicians to form a heavy metal band. Vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield responded and the duo formed Metallica five months later. When the band began playing live a year later, Metallica's fast tempos and aggressive musicianship sparked a new genre, thrash metal. The band toned down its music in the mid-1980s and gained a more mainstream metal audience. Since then, Metallica has sold over 110 million records worldwide. After an eight-year stall, Metallica's 10th studio album, Hardwired... to Self-Destruct, will be released on November 18, 2016. The band's present line-up comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo.

Shortly after headlining the Global Citizens concert in Central Park on Sunday, Metallica announced it was playing a concert for fan club members at the 1500-capacity Webster Hall two days later, with proceeds going to a local food bank distributer. Metallica walked on stage with no introduction, prerecorded music or other fanfare. Instead of storming into music, the musicians looked into the audience and seemingly reveled in the adulation. After a few casual words, the band launched into the riffs of Budgie's 1973 proto-thrasher "Breadfan." The majority of the 15-song set drew from the band's first five albums, but also included the live debut of "Moth into Flame" and "Hardwired" from the forthcoming album. Metallica was in fine form, with Hetfield's gritty vocals, Hammett's stirring guitar leads and a crushing rhythm section erupting into thrilling thrash metal paradise. Confidently, the musicians engaged in a little theatricality, with Hetfield, Trujillo and Kirk Hammett closing ranks occasionally and Ulrich standing outside of his drum kit to end songs on the cymbals. the musicians also spoke to the audience frequently and casually between songs, keeping the evening personal and intimate. They even hinted at a stadium concert in New Jersey in 2017. From "Orion" to "One" to "Master of Puppets" to "For Whom the Bell Tolls" to "Enter Sandman" and the final encore of "Seek and Destroy," there was no better metal concert to attend than Metallica at Webster Hall.

Visit Metallica at

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence at the Beacon Theatre

Jackson Browne invited Harlem's Gospel for Teens to join him for a song.
More than 5,000 musicians and artists engaged in 350 events nationwide on September 25 to support The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence. Led by Stop Handgun Violence (SHV), a Massachusetts-based non­profit organization committed to the prevention of gun violence through education, public awareness, effective law enforcement, and common­ sense gun laws, the event drew over 100 cooperating organizations including Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, Texas Musicians Against Gun Violence and volunteers from Moms Demand Action and the Brady Campaign's Million Mom March chapters. The event's dual goals were to draw attention to the issue of gun violence prevention to members of Congress, the presidential candidates, and the American people as they prepare for the November 2016 elections.

The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence  took place in theaters, nightclubs, houses of worship and prisons. The day began shortly after midnight with a peace chant in Hawaii, the state with the lowest rate of gun violence, and ended nearly 24 hours later in Santa Barbara, California, with performances by Christopher Cross, Amy Holland, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Ozomatli and others. Elsewhere, middle schoolers performed at a teens-only open mic in Gloucester, Massachusetts, 17 congregations led an interfaith event on the Capitol steps in Denver, Colorado, and a member of Rabbis Against Gun Violence led an inmate choir to sing of choosing hope over hate at San Quinton State Prison in San Quentin, California. Bette Midler, Snoop Dog, Chelsea Handler, Sarah McLachlan, Valerie Jarrett, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor are among the celebrities who expressed support using the hashtags #ConcertAcrossAmerica (to) #EndGunViolence.

The New York event at the Beacon Theatre drew Jackson Browne, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Rosanne Cash, Marc Cohn, Harlem's Gospel for Teens and an unadvertised performer, Joan Osborne. Browne also invited on stage John Rosenthal, founder of Stop Handgun Violence and the National Concert Chair, who reminded the audience of the power of music to mobilize movements. Rosenthal encouraged audience members to hold their elected officials accountable to action.

The audience included people whose lives were tragically changed due to gun violence. Trennelle Gabay, the widow of Governor Cuomo's lawyer who was gunned down in 2015, was in the audience, as were the parents of Allison Parker, who was murdered on-air during a news report for CBS in Roanoke, Virginia. Andy and Barbara Parker met backstage with Marc Cohn and shared with him how much his song "Walking in Memphis" helped them; early in the concert, Jackson Browne told the audience that Cohn had been a victim of a random gunshot to the head.

Jackson Browne introduced Eddie Vedder, who had performed a day earlier with Yusuf/Cat Stevens as part of the Global Citizen event in Central Park. Vedder spoke at length about the growing desensitization towards gun violence before performing solo acoustic renditions of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War," Stevens' "Don't Be Shy," and Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul's "I Am A Patriot" trailing into a rousing chorus from Patti Smith's "People Have the Power." Vedder told the audience "Together we have power. If we rise to the challenge to unite and support sensible gun violence prevention measures in our cities and our towns, then we have the power to save lives.  Let's use our power for good."

Visit for more information.

Harlem's Gospel for Teens
Left to right, Marc Cohn invited Jackson Browne and Rosanne Cash to join him
for Paul's Simon's "The Only Living Boy in New York."
Rosanne Cash
Joan Osborne
Eddie Vedder

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bill Popp & the Tapes at Tompkins Square Park

Bill Popp was an adolescent in Queens, New York, when he first heard the Beatles, and the music inspired him to become a musician. Throughout the late 1970s, Popp worked days as a plumber for the municipal government and played nights in new wave bands like the Popsicles. He eventually returned to his first love, British Invasion pop, with Bill Popp & the Tapes in 1981. Although personnel changed in the early years, the band has performed live for 35 years. The band's most recent recording is a two-song CD called Popp's Last Flush, released on October 1, 2015, a humorous reflection on his retirement from his plumbing job.

At Tompkins Square Park today, a plastic bucket placed in front of the band read "for the love of music." Bill Popp & the Tapes played without a stage powered by a do-it-yourself sound system. Parents with children, adults with dogs, and people on bicycles stopped for a few songs, captivated by Popp's beautiful original songs and covers of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" and Robert Palmer's "Bad Case of Lovin' You." Popp zipped over the keys of his electric piano with speed and dexterity while he sang feel-good songs. His passion was indeed for the love of music, and this love permeated his performance and enchanted the passersby, who frequently dropped dollars into the bucket.

Visit Bill Popp at

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ace Frehley at the PlayStation Theater

Paul "Ace" Frehley was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and as a youth was a member of the Ducky Boys street gang. Born to a musical family, Frehley started playing guitar at age 13 when he received an electric guitar as a Christmas present. Frehley played in bands and held a string of short-term jobs—mail carrier, furniture deliverer, messenger, and liquor store delivery boy. In 1972, he auditioned for Wicked Lester members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, and Peter Criss, and was recruited. By 1973, Wicked Lester became Kiss. Meanwhile, Frehley worked as a part-time cab driver until Kiss generated a following a year later. After years of superstardom as Kiss' "Space Ace," Frehley left the band in 1982 for a solo career, and then rejoined Kiss from 1996 to 2002. His seventh and most recent solo album, Origins, Vol. 1, was released on April 15, 2016.

Ace Frehley and his band (guitarist Richie Scarlet, bassist Chris Wyse and drummer Scot Coogan) launched the Origins Vol. 1 tour tonight at the PlayStation Theater. The band came on stage to a prerecorded "Fractured Mirror," an instrumental track from Frehley's 1978 debut album. The musicians then tore into "Rip It Out," also from Frehley's first solo album. Before long Frehley was singing "Parasite" and "Love Gun," two songs he wrote for Kiss. Frehley performed 11 cover songs at the PlayStation Theater tonight, but few were from his most recent covers album. He gave the fans what they wanted to hear; eight of the 17 songs in his set were Kiss covers. To his credit, Frehley did not duplicate these songs as they were originally recorded; tonight's performance was much less tidy, and included expanded guitar work from Frehley and Scarlet. Interestingly, although Frehley was the attraction, he was self-confident enough to allow Scarlet to be the flamboyant one onstage. In the end, the content of the concert featured a healthy dose of Kiss songs, but was not intended to approximate a Kiss show by any stretch. This concert was simply Frehley demonstrating what makes him Ace.

Visit Ace Frehley at

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tom Jones at the Beacon Theatre

Sir Thomas Jones Woodward OBE was born Thomas John Woodward in Glamorgan, South Wales, where he began singing at an early age in his school choir and at family gatherings and weddings. At age 16, Jones married, had a child and worked first in a glove factory and then in construction. While in his 20s, he began a focus on music as the front man in 1963 for Tommy Scott & the Senators, a Welsh beat group. In short time, his manager took him to London, England, and renamed him Tom Jones to exploit the popularity of the Academy Award winning 1963 film. Riding the wave of the British invasion in 1964, Jones' "It's Not Unusual" became an international hit. Over the next 50 years, Jones sold more than 100 million records in a career that has had peaks and valleys. Jones, who was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1999, was knighted by Elizabeth II in 2006 at Buckingham Palace for his services to music. His most recent album, Long Lost Suitcase, was released on October 9, 2015.

Over the decades, Jones enjoyed a wide stylistic range, and he brought that with him to the Beacon Theatre tonight. Jones possesses one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music, and he used that richness equally effectively in blues, country, rhythm and blues, dance and pop songs. Although he has written many songs, his husky, robust baritone was best served as stylist and interpreter, from Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "What's New, Pussycat" to Prince's "Kiss." Jones also rasped and crooned on songs by John Lee Hooker, Odetta, Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The highlight of the 90-minute set might have been his full-throated, brawny rendering of the 1968 murder ballad "Delilah." While Jones' music largely appeals to an older generation, his muscular vocal performance was absolutely classic.

Visit Tom Jones at

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

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

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,; 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

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

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

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Specials at Terminal 5

Terry Hall
In the midst of a political and social upheaval in 1977 England, the Automatics began playing politically-charged reggae and punk music in Coventry; the band would soon be known as the Coventry Automatics. The band eventually switched to ska music and alternately became the Specials and the Special AKA. Beginning the early 1980s, the band split, reformed and formed splinter groups many times. The present band includes three early members, vocalist Terry Hall, rhythm guitarist Lynval Golding, and bassist Horace "Sir Horace Gentleman" Panter, along with new members, lead guitarist Steve Cradock, keyboardist Nikolaj Torp Larsen, drummer Gary Powell and a horn section comprised of Tim Smart (trombone), Drew Stansall (saxophone, flute) and Pablo Mandleson (trumpet). The Specials' most recent studio album is 2001's Conquering Ruler.

With each tour, the Specials seem to have a change in its core line-up. Since the Specials last performed in New York in 2013, vocalist/guitarist Roddy Radiation left and drummer John Bradbury died, replaced on this tour by the drummer of the Libertines. With no new songs, this means the band plays the same songs, but perhaps with a slight change in sound. Radiation's rockabilly-styled guitar playing was missing this time, and perhaps this contributed to the slow, moody sense of the first half of the band's set. The set opened with Hall and Golding trading vocals on "Ghost Town," featuring lyrics that spoke of the state of unemployment in England when it was written about 1980. This was followed by several more down tempo songs; the set only started to pick up with "Rat Race." The stronger part of the set was towards the end, when the band played six covers, including Rufus Thomas' "Do the Dog," Dandy Livingstone's "A Message to You, Rudy" and Toots & the Maytals' "Monkey Man." For the encores, the Specials covered two songs by the Skatalites and one by Prince Buster, who had died the night before. In essence, this version of the Specials took a hearty nostalgic look back but did not necessarily try to improve upon its former self; the challenge was simply in keeping the band going without several of its key originators.

Visit the Specials at

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Cheetah Chrome at the Bowery Electric

Initially based in Cleveland, Ohio, guitarist Cheetah Chrome (born Gene O’Connor) helped draft the sound of punk in mid-1974 with the seminal but short-lived rock band Rocket from the Tombs. Teaming with vocalist Stiv Bators in 1975, Chrome and Bators formed Frankenstein, which became the Dead Boys when the band relocated to New York's nascent punk rock scene in 1976. The Dead Boys split in 1979, although several times over the next decades Chrome reunited both the Dead Boys and Rocket from the Tombs. Chrome stayed in New York, playing on other artists' recordings, performing as a solo artist and forming more short-lived bands. Chrome then underwent a mid-life change in the mid-1990s, relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, where he married, had a son, worked at a record company and recorded music that was more acoustic and even -- yikes -- country flavored.

A few years ago Chrome returned to New York and performed at downtown venues sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar. Tonight he returned to the Bowery Electric with a rock band and banged out the old time punk rock. Chrome opened with the Dead Boys' best known song, "Sonic Reducer," featuring guest guitarist Ross "the Boss" Friedman of the Dictators. Chrome sang almost all the songs in his set, but did not pretend to be any semblance of a vocalist; his voice has grown so hoarse over the years that it was difficult to hear the lyrics over the music. His presentation was more about style, passion and history. If anyone had forgotten the imperfect beauty of simple, speedy three-chord garage rock, Chrome was there with scorching lightning to reignite the fire. Far from polished, the band's energy was equally scathing and scraping, just like the best punk rock was designed to be. For the finales, Chrome invited both Friedman and Bobby Leibling of doom metal band Pentagram to join him on a few songs. Overall, Chrome offered a valuable look back at the elemental fabric of punk rock history.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Heavy at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall

Kelvin Swaby
Vocalist Kelvin Swaby and guitarist Dan Taylor became friends in 1998 when they worked at a clothing store in Bath, England. They bonded over a mutual passion for vintage rhythm and blues. Taylor was from a classic rock’n’roll background and became enthralled by Swaby's world of hip-hop and sampling. Taylor heard Swaby sing, and they formed the Heavy in 2007. They hung posters around Bath advertising themselves as The World’s Fattest Twins and The World’s Heaviest Bastards, then realized they needed a proper band (and a proper name). They recruited bassist Spencer Page and drummer Chris Ellul. The Heavy's music has been used widely in media, with their 2009 single "How You Like Me Now?" becoming the band's signature song. The Heavy released its fourth and most recent album, Hurt & The Merciless, on April 1, 2016.

The Heavy successfully bridged rock and soul tonight at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall. Opening with "Can't Play Dead," much of the music was rooted similarly in 1960s urban American music, but given a strong rock interpretation. Swaby's full-throated vocals were husky and gritty, commanding attention even when Taylor's guitar was crunching hard, funky, fuzzy riffs. There were few subtleties; although gentler pauses arose here and there, the biggest impact was generated in the rawer garage moments, when both musicians and audience grooved together to a ripping wave of sonic soul. The Heavy's performance demonstrated how sometimes a British band needs to remind Americans of the richness of their musical legacy.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lianne La Havas at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Lianne Barnes, known professionally as Lianne La Havas, was born in London, England, to a Greek father and Jamaican mother; she adapted her stage name from her father Henry Vlahavas' surname. She was raised in Tooting and Streatham, spending the majority of her time with her grandparents after her parents separated. La Havas began singing at age seven, wrote her first song at age 11, and thanks to her multi-instrumentalist father learned to play piano and guitar at age 18. La Havas began her professional career by singing back-up vocals for Paloma Faith, then joined a short-lived duo called the Paris Parade, collaborating with future Elephant member Christian Pinchebeck. La Havas' second and most recent album, Blood, inspired by La Havas' reconnection to her Greek and Jamaican heritage, was released on July 31, 2015.

La Havas brought class and style to Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom tonight, minimizing flash and staging for a simple, honest performance of voice and songs. Playing a hollow-bodied electric guitar for most of the show, she maintained a sturdy singer-songwriter approach to her songs, but with a soaring, soulful voice that transcended the genre. Her one cover song, "I Say a Little Prayer," written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick in 1967, subtly recalled David's intention to convey lyrically a woman's concern for her man who was serving in the Vietnam War. Among the standouts was a jazz-inflected solo acoustic version of "Age" from her debut album. La Havas' performance specialized in low-key easy-listening music for mature tastes, perhaps more appropriate for Carnegie Hall than a rock venue.

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Marc Broussard at City Winery

 Singer/songwriter Marc Broussard is the son of guitarist Ted Broussard of the Louisiana Hall of Fame-inducted Boogie Kings. Marc Broussard was raised in Lafayette and Carencro, Louisiana, where he developed a taste for Cajun music and rhythm and blues. In 2001 Broussard was part of Y, a short-lived Christian rock band based out of New Iberia, Louisiana. He was barely 20 years old when he recorded his debut solo album in 2002. Broussard released the Bootleg to Benefit the Victims of Hurricane Katrina album in 2005, with all proceeds helping to rebuild Broussard's home state. He then founded the Momentary Setback Fund in 2008 to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Broussard will release his seventh studio album, a covers album entitled S. O. S. 2: Save Our Soul: Soul on a Mission, on September 30, 2016, and 50 percent of the proceeds will go to a not-for-profit organization that works with the poor and homeless in Atlanta, Georgia.

With his long, brown, bushy beard, Marc Broussard looked as homespun as he sounded tonight at City Winery. Gruff, burly vocals delivered a hickory-smoked slab of Bayou soul. Well-crafted lyrics were wrapped in a mix of funk, blues, R&B, rock, and pop, all distinctively southern and nuanced with a flare of small-town America sensibilities. Broussard's husky thrust was tempered with emotional authenticity, so that even the lighter pop songs were powered by a degree of deep-gut gravity. Relatively unknown, even a cursory listen revealed Broussard as a buried American treasure.

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Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Low Anthem at City Winery

Ben Knox Miller
Vocalist/guitarist Ben Knox Miller and drummer Jeff Prystowsky met while DJing an overnight jazz show on a local university radio station in Providence, Rhode Island. They became friends and teammates for a local baseball team. Miller and Prystowsky played together in classical, jazz and electronica ensembles before formed the indie folk band Low Anthem in 2006. The Low Anthem released its fifth studio album, Eyeland, on June 17, 2016. The band currently consists of Miller, Prystowsky, guitarist Bryan Minto and violinist/vocalist Florence Wallis.

Once a folkier band, the Low Anthem at City Winery tonight gravitated to more experimental and electronic soundscapes, many improvised spontaneously. Soft and broody ambient sounds wrapped around Miller's pillow-talk vocals for most of the performance. A few songs crashed like thunder in a storm, but the majority of the set was comprised of dreamy, whispering dalliances. The experimental nature was most evident when one composition was centered around Miller taking a violin bow to a saw. The musicians' vision all evening was left-of-center, appealing to the most adventurous musical tastes.

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