Thursday, October 12, 2017

The California Honeydrops at the Bowery Ballroom

Left to right: Ben Malament, Lech Wierzynski,
Beau Bradbury, Lorenzo Loera
Lech Wierzynski was born in Warsaw, Poland, where he listened to contraband American records and imitated the vocal styles of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong. Coming to the United States as a first-generation immigrant youth, where he was raised by Polish political refugees, he listened intensely to American rock and roll, soul, jazz and hip-hop recordings. During his teenage years, he studied trumpet and started playing blues and jazz at after-hours jam sessions in Washington D.C., and eventually launched a music career on the club circuit in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. In 2007, he formed a blues and rhythm and blues band, which played on the sidewalks and in the subway stations of Oakland. With Wierzynski as the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist band leader, and co-founder Ben Malament as the percussionist, the busking California Honeydrops' public party music quickly developed a passionate local following. The band's fifth and most recent studio album is 2015's A Higher Degree.

Headlining at the Bowery Ballroom tonight, the California Honeydrops' sound was bound by their New Orleans-rooted style of bluesy vocals, barrelhouse piano, and punctuating brass riffs. With virtually no guitars in the mix, the bubbling energy was sparked simply by the interplay of vocals, keyboards and four horn players. Crossing genres from Delta blues to southern soul with funk and a dash of Americana, the band’s shows featured extensive jamming, with many songs hovering around 10 minutes of length. Wierzynski made crowd interaction an integral element to the defining results, dissolving the boundaries between the band and the audience. In the end, this was more of a party than a concert, especially when Wierzynski surprised the audience by announcing that the band would take a brief break and return in a few minutes for a second set.

Visit the California Honeydrops at www.cahoneydrops.com.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Black Dahlia Murder at the Highline Ballroom

Trevor Strnad
The Black Dahlia Murder formed as a death metal band in 2001 in Waterford, Michigan. Absorbed with horror and gore, vocalist Trevor Strnad adapted the band's name from the 1947 unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, often referred to as Black Dahlia, who was bisected at the waist and left on display in a California parking lot in 1947. The Black Dahlia Murder currently consists of Strnad, guitarists Brian Eschbach and Brandon Ellis, drummer Alan Cassidy, and bassist Max Lavelle. The band's eighth and most recent album, Nightbringers, was released on October 6, 2017.

Sixteen years after first starting, the Black Dahlia Murder demonstrated tonight at the Highline Ballroom that the macabre may have no limits. A glance at the set list showed that the band was very much obsessed with grizzly tales of weird design. For those who followed the lyrics, they were uncompromisingly relentless in gruesome detail. A new song, "Matriarch," for instance, told of a woman who was unsuccessful in having a child, so she stalked a pregnant woman and cut the baby out of her. The band's hard and heavy music was equally merciless,  overflowing with growled vocals, barely discernible lyrics, speedy guitar riffs and thrashing, crashing rhythms. No doubt, this was an extreme metal concert, and not meant for the faint of heart.

Visit the Black Dahlia Murder at www.tbdmofficial.com.

Setlist:
  1. Widowmaker
  2. Statutory Ape
  3. Contagion
  4. I Worship Only What You Bleed
  5. Nightbringers
  6. Miasma
  7. In Hell Is Where She Waits for Me
  8. Abysmal
  9. A Shrine to Madness
  10. Matriarch
  11. Malenchantments of the Necrosphere
  12. Vlad, Son of the Dragon
  13. Everything Went Black
  14. Kings of the Nightworld
  15. What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse
  16. On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood
  17. Unhallowed
  18. Funeral Thirst
  19. Deathmask Divine
  20. I Will Return

Saturday, October 7, 2017

KMFDM at Irving Plaza

Sasha Koneitzko and Lucia Cifarelli
Sascha Konietzko, also known as Sascha K and Käpt'n K, was born in Hambug, Germany, but conceived what would become the industrial band KMFDM in 1984 as a performance art project at the opening of an exhibition of young European artists in Paris, France. KMFDM initialized the nonsensical and grammatically incorrect German phrase Kein Mehrheit für die Mitleid, which is typically given the loose translation of "no pity for the majority," a phrase Konietzko composed by cutting words from a German newspaper and randomly pulling them out of a hat. Konietzko soon returned to Germany, where various musicians moved in and out of KMFDM. In 1991, Konietzko moved to Chicago, Illinois, and KMFDM became part of the city's industrial music scene that included Ministry, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, and Revolting Cocks, until 1994, when Konietzko relocated to Seattle, Washington. KMFDM split in 1999, but Konietzko resurrected the brand in 2002 with a new lineup. American singer Lucia Cifarelli joined the revamped KMFDM; Konietzko and Cifarelli married in 2005 and relocated together to Hamburg in 2007. KMFDM released its 20th studio album, Hell Yeah, on August 18, 2017.

German band Lord of the Lost was to perform as an opening act for KMFDM's American tour, and two Lord of the Lost musicians were to perform in KMFDM as well, but delayed visas forced a cancellation. At Irving Plaza tonight, Konietzko and Cifarelli stood front and center at two podia, singing and playing electronic gear; they were backed ably by longtime drummer Andy Selway and a last-minute fill-in, Brooklyn-based guitarist Andee Blacksugar. The set consisted of seven songs from the new album, as well as one or two songs from nine other albums and EPs. Several songs featured politically-charged anthems of resistance and defiance to the band's trademark ultra-heavy beats. Konietzko and Cifarelli interlocked vocals, often leaving their podia to work their audience from the edge of the stage, to repetitive hard and heavy guitar and synthesizer riffs. Konietzko provided the grittier vocal style, counterbalanced by Cifarelli's comparatively sweet range. KMFDM's music was not as experimental as it was in the 1990s, but this newer mainstream version worked very well.

Visit KMFDM at www.kmfdm.net.

Setlist:
  1. D.I.Y.
  2. Freak Flag
  3. Hell Yeah
  4. Amnesia
  5. Light
  6. Rebels in Kontrol
  7. Total State Machine
  8. Animal Out
  9. Burning Brain
  10. Bumaye
  11. Glam Glitz Guts & Gore
  12. Shock
  13. Virus
  14. Murder My Heart
  15. A Drug Against War
Encore:
  1. WWIII
  2. Hau Ruck
  3. Godlike

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Skins at the Bowery Electric

Left to right: Daisy Spencer, Bayli Mckeithan, Kaya Nico Mckeithan
Three teenaged siblings, all students at the School of Rock, began jamming in their basement in Brooklyn, New York. The oldest of the three, Bayli Mckeithan, was interested in guitar but wound up singing, Kaya Nico Mckeithan, took to the bass, and baby brother Keef Cole Mckeithan played the drums. Schoolmate Daisy Spencer, a guitarist, saw a video of the Mckeithans covering Wolfmother and the Rolling Stones, and asked if she could jam. She brought schoolmate and guitarist Russell Chell. As the Skins in 2011, the School of Rock quintet played at school events and local gigs and released a three-song self-titled EP in 2012. Over time, the Skins scored opening slots on festival dates and national tours. The Skins' second EP, the five-song Still Sleep, was released on December 16, 2016.

The five musicians in the Skins are still quite young, aged 18 to 25, but they made a big, mature sound at the Bowery Electric tonight as part of the mondo.nyc festival. Perhaps due to the Skins' recent collaborations with producer Rick Rudin and rapper D.R.A.M., the band showed that it is drifting beyond its classic blues rock origins and closing in on more urban sounds, indulging now in a stronger taste for rhythm and blues, funk, and hip hop. The musicians grafted these sounds well for an intoxicating blend hard rock and smooth soul. The Skins' enthusiastic and effervescent spirit was very alive and enrapturing, as the audience chanted back lyric phrases to these newer songs. The combustion was hot; this ultramodern-sounding multi-genre quintet was on fire, and given the right window, the Skins will burst into the mainstream in a massive flame.

Visit the Skins at www.theskins.com.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Devil Wears Prada at the Gramercy Theatre

Mike Hranica
The Devil Wears Prada formed as a metalcore band in 2005 in Dayton, Ohio. The musicians named the band after the novel because they believed the title made an anti-materialistic statement they liked; they had not read the book, however, and the popular movie based on the story had not been made yet. The band began by playing the midwestern Christian music circuit, ultimately gravitating to touring on secular bookings. The Devil Wears Prada currently consists of vocalist Mike Hranica, lead guitarist Kyle Sipress, rhythm guitarist Jeremy DePoyster, and bassist Andy Trick. The band currently is touring with two additional musicians, keyboardist Jonathan Gering and drummer Giuseppe Capolupo. The band's sixth full-length studio album, Transit Blues, was released on October 7, 2016.

Although the band introduced occasional soft melodies as a counterbalance, the Devil Wears Prada's set tonight at the Gramercy Theatre was total metal brutality, pulverizing mercilessly everything and everyone in its path. It seems that with each album and tour the band has reached its maximum violence, but in fact each album and tour seems to grow heavier and heavier. The set spanned the band's 12-year repertoire, and the result was that songs that were hard before were made even harder this time around. Hranica growled and grunted his lyrics, the guitarists built tension through distorted, crunching riffs, and the rhythm section pounded hard. The band mastered the art of crafting complex pieces that escalated to fever pitch and then looked down at the decimated vulnerable below. You had to be strong to survive this atomic assault.

Visit the Devil Wears Prada at www.tdwpband.com.

Setlist:
  1. Daughter (No Sun/No Moon Intro)
  2. Sassafras
  3. Assistant to the Regional Manager
  4. Planet A
  5. Worldwide
  6. Born to Lose
  7. Forever Decay
  8. Escape
  9. Survivor
  10. To the Key of Evergreen
  11. Kansas
  12. Transgress
  13. Supernova
  14. Dez Moines
  15. Reptar, King of the Ozone
  16. Danger: Wildman
Encore:
  1. Mammoth

Monday, October 2, 2017

Paul Weller at Irving Plaza

Paul Weller started playing guitar at age 11 in his native Woking, Surrey, England. After seeing Status Quo in concert in 1972, he formed his first incarnation of the Jam, playing bass on Beatles covers and original songs. The Jam came into its own during the punk rock revolution, but also appealed to the mods, such they branded Weller as the "Modfather." The Jam became popular in England, but less so throughout the rest of the world. Seeking to explore a more soulful, melodic style of music with a broader instrumentation, Weller disbanded the Jam in 1982 and formed the Style Council in 1983. The Style Council initially scored a few hits, but did not remain popular, so Weller ended the band in 1989 and launched a solo career, first with the Paul Weller Movement in 1991 and then under his own name in 1992. Weller was now a singer-songwriter, ultimately earning four Brit Awards, including the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement award. His 13th and most recent solo album, A Kind Revolution , was released on May 12, 2017.

Paul Weller headlines arenas in his home country, but in New York he performed two nights at the 1,025-capacity Irving Plaza. While his previous associations were better known in this country, Weller performed only one Jam song and two Style Council songs on the first night. Performing 11 songs from his 1990s catalog and 12 songs from more recent albums, his audience witnessed the evolution of a troubadour who left behind his punk and mod epoch and now blended a rocking Britpop with jazz and rhythm and blues influences. Weller sang emotively and played electric and acoustic guitars as well as keyboards during his two-hour show. The musical arrangements by guitarist Steve Cradock, bassist Andy Crofts, drummer Steve Pilgrim, percussionist Ben Gordelier and keyboardist Tom Van Heel provided the flesh for Weller's musical vision. The band assisted significantly in distinguishing the various approaches of each song so that perhaps the concert's most engaging elements was that copious musical ground had been covered.

Visit Paul Weller at www.paulweller.com.

Setlist:
  1. Peacock Suit
  2. Nova
  3. I'm Where I Should Be
  4. My Ever Changing Moods (The Style Council cover)
  5. White Sky
  6. Long Time
  7. Saturns Pattern
  8. Long Long Road
  9. Going My Way
  10. The Weaver
  11. From the Floorboards Up
  12. Up in Suze's Room
  13. Shout to the Top! (The Style Council cover)
  14. Into Tomorrow
  15. Above the Clouds
  16. You Do Something to Me
  17. Woo Sé Mama
  18. Friday Street
  19. Porcelain Gods
  20. The Changingman

Encore:
  1. She Moves with the Fayre
  2. These City Streets
  3. Start! (The Jam cover)
  4. Come On/Let's Go

Encore 2:
  1. Broken Stones
  2. Whirlpool's End

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Stiff Little Fingers at the Gramercy Theatre

Jake Burns & Ali McMordie
As a schoolboy in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jake Burns sang and played guitar in a cover band called Highway Star, named after the Deep Purple song. In 1977, at the height of the violent ethno-nationalist "Troubles" conflict in Northern Ireland, the band discovered punk and became Stiff Little Fingers, named after the Vibrators song. Upon achieving success on British radio, Stiff Little Fingers were at the forefront of the punk movement. Stiff Little Fingers relocated in 1979 to London, England, but then split in 1983. Burns reformed the band in 1987 with the idea of a short reunion, but although personnel changes continued, the band has continued touring and occasionally recording. Stiff Little Fingers presently consists of Burns, guitarist Ian McCallum, bassist Ali McMordie, and drummer Steve Grantley. Stiff Little Fingers' 10th and most recent album is 2014's No Going Back.

Stiff Little Fingers' 40th anniversary tour brought the band to a headlining date at the Gramercy Theatre tonight. The band's music was spit-shined compared to its earliest and grittiest days, and a careful listen suggested that much of this music could no longer be classified as punk by today's standards. The backbone of many of the songs were pop and quite a number of the melodies had what could be branded as an American country music slant. The band was tight, roaring with blazing energy, with clear vocals and rocking backup. The band opened with one of its earliest songs, "Wasted Life," which was about youth not having anything to do during the Troubles era in Northern Ireland. "My Dark Places" chronicled Burns' personal struggle with depression. "Guilty as Sin" was about sexual abuse. Many other songs featured political or social commentary. In the end, Stiff Little Fingers' old songs preserved a vital kick and the band's performance registered as solid and as strong as in the band's heyday. One can only hope that the band will continue to write and record new material.

Visit Stiff Little Fingers at www.slf.rocks.

Setlist:
  1. Wasted Life
  2. Just Fade Away
  3. Straw Dogs
  4. My Dark Places
  5. Safe as Houses
  6. Breakout
  7. At the Edge
  8. Barbed Wire Love
  9. Guilty as Sin
  10. Roots, Radicals, Rockers & Reggae
  11. When We Were Young
  12. Nobody's Hero
  13. Tin Soldiers
  14. Suspect Device
Encore:
  1. Johnny Was (Bob Marley & The Wailers cover)
  2. Gotta Gettaway
  3. Alternative Ulster

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Cynz at Sidewalk

Cyndi Dawson & Henry Seiz
Born and raised in New Jersey, Cyndi Dawson sought a career in performance art in New York City. Over the next few years, she secured a few acting, dancing and bartending gigs, briefly played percussion in the short-lived Kamikaze Kitty & the Attack Kats, and read in poetry circles both in New York and New Jersey. Fellow Jersey native Henry Seiz, who had played guitar in Louie Louie & the Lost Hombres in the 1980s, heard Dawson's work and suggested she read spoken word or sing to his music. Together they formed the Cynz in 2011. The band presently consists of Dawson, Seiz, bassist Anne Husick (formerly of Band of Susans) and drummer Robert Stockl (formerly of the Mad Daddies). The Cynz released a second full album, Lil Devil, on July 12, 2017; It is available from the band in vinyl only.

Lil Devil had been available by mail order all summer, but the Cynz celebrated a record release concert tonight at Sidewalk so that fans could purchase the album in person. As usual when the band has performed at the venue, the set was high-octane and high-caliber, rock and roll in its rawest and purist form. The band has grown in polish, yet retained a garage-band vibrancy that was honest and fun. Dawson's melodies were pop-rooted, but she sang them with a gripping rock and roll spirit, then danced, shook and even crawled to Seiz's speedy riffs and leads, as the rhythm section powered the songs. From start to end, the Cynz's set was a rock and roll party.

The Cynz will be performing at Lovecraft Bar on October 19, Sidewalk on October 27 and the Parkside Lounge on November 17.

Marilyn Manson at the Hammerstein Ballroom

Brian Warner was born in Canton, Ohio, but after graduating high school he relocated with his parents in 1989 to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There he studied journalism and theater at the local community college, and feeling lonely in a new place, he wrote poems and short stories. Fired from his job at a record store, he became an entertainment journalist for a local magazine while working towards a degree in journalism. He soon created his own band, taking on the name Marilyn Manson (Marilyn as in movie star Monroe, Manson as in psycho killer Charles). Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids formed in 1989, soon shortening the name of the band to Marilyn Manson. In the U.S. alone, three of the band's albums went platinum and three more went gold. Marilyn Manson's 10th studio album, Heaven Upside Down, will be released on October 6, 2017. Marilyn Manson the person is the only remaining original member of Marilyn Manson the band.

Photographers at the Hammerstein Ballroom tonight were told they could shoot only the first song rather than the usual three from the pit in front of the stage. Well into the first song, Manson started throwing things around, including his microphone stand, and photographers were cleared out even before the first song ended. The band members wore whiteface with black markings and played tight, energetic industrial metal as the vocalist roamed the stage and played to the audience. Between songs, Manson rambled, at one point speaking about drugs. About 45 minutes into the concert, during a slow cover of the Eurhythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," Manson placed his right foot on the first rung of a tall stage prop behind the band and attempted to step up but immediately fell backwards off the prop. Moments later, the structure toppled on top of him, knocking him cold. The band stopped playing, and all lights were turned off. People attended to Manson, but he did not seem to regain consciousness. The set list showed that there were four more songs to be performed. A few minutes later, the audience was told over the public address system what was already presumed, that due to Manson's injury, the concert was ended. It was fun while it lasted.

Visit Marilyn Manson at www.marilynmanson.com.

Setlist:
  1. Revelation #12
  2. This Is the New Shit
  3. mOBSCENE
  4. The Dope Show
  5. Disposable Teens
  6. Kill4Me
  7. Killing Strangers
  8. Tourniquet
  9. We Know Where You Fucking Live
  10. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Eurythmics cover)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Epica at the PlayStation Theater

Epica's Simone Simons, Lacuna Coil's Cristina Scabbia
Guitarist/vocalist Mark Jansen left the Netherlands-based symphonic metal band After Forever in 2002 to form a similar band, initially called Sahara Dust and later naming itself Epica after a Kamelot album. Epica's popularity grew first in their country and then internationally. By 2015, Epica was awarded the Music Export Awards, given to the Dutch act with the most international success in the past year. Epica's seventh and most recent studio album, The Holographic Principle, was released on September 30, 2016. The band presently consists of Jansen, vocalist Simone Simons, keyboardist Coen Janssen, lead guitarist Isaac Delahaye, bassist Rob van der Loo, and drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek.

Headlining at the PlayStation Theater tonight, Epica performed densely layered and complex compositions, weaving symphonic rock with elements of black metal, progressive metal and power metal. The band's music axis pivoted on sudden contrasts, from Jansen's death metal growls to Simons' operatic soprano, and from djent guitar riffs to folk metal melodies. The songs were grandiose wall-of-sound affairs with strong melodies and counter-melodies, often interrupted with an unexpected, softer interlude. Simons commanded the most attention, however, with her flawless soprano elevating to high sonic registers while the band pummeled with elephantine brutality. There was light and dark in most songs, a duality with deep intricacies that created tensions that were then released into the air. The music was ambitious, neat and remarkably clever.

Visit Epica at www.epica.nl.

Setlist:
  1. Edge of the Blade
  2. Unleashed
  3. Wheel of Destiny
  4. The Essence of Silence
  5. Ascension - Dream State Armageddon
  6. Dancing in a Hurricane
  7. Victims of Contingency
  8. Storm the Sorrow (with Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil)
  9. Reverence (Living in the Heart)
  10. Unchain Utopia
  11. Cry for the Moon
Encore:
  1. Sancta Terra
  2. Beyond the Matrix
  3. Consign to Oblivion

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Accept at Irving Plaza

Left to right: Peter Baltes, Mark Tornillo, Wolf Hoffmann
Band X formed in 1968 in Solingen, Germany, changing its name to Accept early on. Largely due to many personnel changes Accept did not become a professional band until 1976. By the 1980s, the band was gaining worldwide traction, striking gold in the United States with 1983's Balls to the Wall. Accept went into hiatus in 1989, reassembled in 1992, took a break again in 1997, regrouped briefly in 2005 and then reformed again in 2010. The band presently consists of guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes, both of whom date back to 1976, along with for T.T. Quick vocalist Mark Tornillo, guitarist Uwe Lulis and drummer Christopher Williams. Accept's 15th and most recent album, The Rise of Chaos, was released on August 4, 2017.

At Irving Plaza tonight, Accept proved that it was progressing rather than resting on its classic hard rock and heavy metal  laurels. For two hours, the quintet balanced its catalogue from the 1980s evenly with songs recorded in this decade. Granted, the audience anticipated "Balls to the Wall," an iconic rocker about slaves revolting against oppressing masters, but the wait was made pleasant because the 20 songs preceding it were filled solidly with soaring vocals and head-spinning guitar solos. Hoffman also performed a three-minute solo on stage by himself, blending snippets of classical compositions with metal feedback and distortion, until the band rejoined him for the bluesy "Neon Nights." In the end, Accept accomplished a daunting goal; by playing classic metal and modernizing it with a very sharp edge, the band performed a powerful set that elevated the band to new heights and rivaled its glory days.

Visit Accept at www.acceptworldwide.com.

Setlist:
  1. Die by the Sword
  2. Stalingrad
  3. Restless and Wild
  4. London Leatherboys
  5. Living for Tonite
  6. The Rise of Chaos
  7. Koolaid
  8. No Regrets
  9. Analog Man
  10. Final Journey
  11. Shadow Soldiers
  12. (Wolf Hoffman's guitar solo)
  13. Neon Nights
  14. Princess of the Dawn
  15. Midnight Mover
  16. Up to the Limit
  17. Objection Overruled
  18. Pandemic
  19. Fast as a Shark
Encore:
  1. Metal Heart
  2. Teutonic Terror
  3. Balls to the Wall

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sacred Reich at the Gramercy Theatre

Phil Rind
Until age 12, Phil Rind lived in Brooklyn, New York. His family then moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he met rhythm guitarist Jason Rainey in high school. Rainey had formed Sacred Reich as a thrash metal band, but was unsatisfied with his original musicians. In 1985, Rainey fired the drummer and recruited Greg Hall, then fired the bassist and recruited Rind. They fired the vocalist and Rind became the singer as well. The guitarist quit and Wiley Arnett joined in 1986. This would become the classic Sacred Reich lineup. Sacred Reich started by playing Megadeth and Exodus covers, but then recorded five albums of original works, including socially conscious and political speed metal, before splitting in 2000. The band reunited 2006, but has not written, performed or recorded new music. Sacred Reich's most recent album is 2012's Live at Wacken.

Sacred Reich's first North American tour in 21 years came to the Gramercy Theatre tonight. Dubbed the "30 Years Of Ignorance" tour, the concert celebrated the 30th anniversary of the band's debut album, Ignorance, which was recorded when most of the band members were still in high school. Despite the title of the tour, however, the band did not play the Ignorance album in its entirety, but rather mixed only four of its nine cuts among songs from other albums. With a no-frills stage set that featured only banners and flashing lights, Sacred Reich retained its characteristic speed and thrash, much of it too fast for headbanging. Rind grunted and shouted, Arnett churned out the lightning leads and rolling riffs, and the band as a whole successfully revived a sound rooted in pre-grunge metal. There were no forays into unfamiliar territory, though. If the band hopes to move forward, the musicians may want to explore and expand into new vistas.

Setlist:
  1. Ignorance
  2. Administrative Decisions
  3. One Nation
  4. Love...Hate
  5. Victim of Demise
  6. Violent Solutions
  7. Crimes against Humanity
  8. Who's to Blame
  9. I Don't Know
  10. Free
  11. Independent
  12. War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover)
  13. The American Way
Encore:
  1. Surf Nicaragua

Friday, September 22, 2017

The War on Drugs at Rumsey Playfield

Adam Granduciel
In 2003, Adam Granduciel moved from Oakland, California to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he met Kurt Vile, who had also recently moved back to Philadelphia after living for two years in Boston, Massachusetts. Granduciel previously had toured and recorded with The Capitol Years, and Vile had recorded solo demo tapes. Granduciel and Vile subsequently began writing, recording and performing music together, first in Vile's band, which would come to be known as Kurt Vile & the Violators, and then in Granduciel's band, which would come to be known as The War on Drugs in 2005. Vile left the War on Drugs after a year, and since then several musicians have played both in the War on Drugs and the Violators. The War on Drugs released its fourth album, A Deeper Understanding, on August 25, 2017, and presently consists of vocalist/guitarist Granduciel, guitarist Anthony LaMarca, keyboardist Robbie Bennett, saxophonist/keyboardist Jon Natchez, bassist David Hartley, and drummer Charlie Hall.

The War On Drugs' 2017 tour launched in its hometown of Philadelphia, but quickly made its way to New York City for shows at Terminal 5 and at CityPark's SummerStage at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. The shows were nearly identical, in that they concentrated on introducing the new album; nine of the album's 10 songs were performed, as compared with five from the previous album and one from the debut album. The set also included a cover of Warren Zevon's "Accidentally Like a Martyr." Granduciel's vocals were a bit coarse, not the type you would near on a hit single, but since many of the lyrics were rather confessional, the vocals sounded revelatory and even cathartic. It seemed each song included extended guitar noodling, more shoegazey than flashy, for a hypnotic effect. The band maintained a light and breezy sound that was heightened with synthesizer and saxophone. Performances like this prove that the War on Drugs is the current "it" band in indie rock.

Visit the War on Drugs at www.thewarondrugs.net.

Setlist
  1. In Chains
  2. Pain
  3. An Ocean in Between the Waves
  4. Strangest Thing
  5. Holding On
  6. Red Eyes
  7. Knocked Down
  8. Nothing to Find
  9. Accidentally Like a Martyr (Warren Zevon cover)
  10. Up All Night
  11. Eyes to the Wind
  12. You Don't Have to Go
  13. Arms Like Boulders
Encore
  1. Under the Pressure
  2. Clean Living
  3. In Reverse 


Thursday, September 21, 2017

X at Stage 48

John Doe & Exene Cervenka
Originally from Decatur, Illinois, John Nommensen Duchac moved to Los Angeles, California, where he became known as John Doe. Through a classified ad in a local newspaper in 1976, Doe met guitar player Tyson Kindell of Savanna, Illinois. Kindell would soon be known as Billy Zoom. Together they formed the local punk rock pioneer band called X. Doe then brought to band practices his poetry-writing girlfriend Christine "Exene Cervenka, originally of Chicago, Illinois, and she eventually joined the band as a vocalist. Drummer Donald "D.J." Bonebrake, the band's only native Californian, was the last of the original members to join. Doe and Cervenka co-wrote most of the group's songs, much of which had poetic lyrics and a rockabilly edge, and their slightly off-kilter harmony vocals became the group's most distinctive element. X separated and reunited several times since the mid-1980s, but has toured almost annually since 2008. X's seventh and most recent album is 1993's Hey Zeus!

There are few surprises at an X concert. For the most part, the band is bound to perform the same catalogue of songs the same way they were performed the last time around. At Stage 48 tonight, the only surprise was that Zoom sat on a stool the entire show, perhaps due to his recent cancer-related treatments. X once again concentrated on its first four albums, and revived the songs through intense power and speed. Gripping vocal interplay, stinging lead guitar runs and a thrusting rhythm section maintained high energy on stage and in the audience. The band celebrates its 40th anniversary on this tour, still with the original lineup. Unfortunately, however, the band has been doing pretty close to the same set for about 30 years. X is a strong unit, but how much longer will the band keep its fans waiting for new music?

Visit X at www.xtheband.com.

Setlist
  1. Beyond and Back
  2. In This House That I Call Home
  3. Some Other Time
  4. Sugarlight
  5. Because I Do
  6. Breathless (Jerry Lee Lewis cover)
  7. Blue Spark
  8. True Love
  9. Come Back to Me
  10. Adult Books
  11. The World's a Mess, It's in My Kiss
  12. The Hungry Wolf (with drum solo)
  13. The Unheard Music
  14. I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
  15. Year 1
  16. Los Angeles
  17. Your Phone's Off the Hook, But You're Not
  18. Johny Hit and Run Paulene
  19. Motel Room in My Bed
  20. Soul Kitchen (The Doors cover)
Encore:
  1. The Once Over Twice
  2. Nausea
  3. Devil Doll

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Front 242 at Irving Plaza

Daniel Bressanutti and Dirk Bergen formed Front 242 in 1981 in Aarschot, Belgium, creating music and graphic design using emerging electronic tools. Meanwhile, Patrick Codenys and Jean-Luc De Meyer had separately formed a group called Under Viewer. The two duos merged in 1982. At first, Bressanutti, Codenys and De Meyer took turns on vocals, until they settled on De Meyer as the lead vocalist and primary songwriter. Front 242's former roadie, Richard Jonckheere, known as Richard 23, replaced Bergen in 1983. Front 242 gravitated from synth pop to its more signature combination of electronic dance and industrial music, known as electonic body music (EBM). The music grew in popularity, but eventually Front 242 went on hiatus in 1993, with sporadic regroupings over the years. Front 242's eighth and most recent album is 2003's Pulse. Front 242 presently consists of de Meyer, Bressanutti, Codenys, Jonckheere and drummer Tim Kroker.

Considering the multi-layered thickness of current EBM music and the lavish productions of current dance music producers, Front 242's headlining performance at Irving Plaza tonight was raw and even primitive. The bare-boned music was devoid of guitars and bass, entirely performed on synths and percussion, with bristling vocals that were ominous, abrasive and menacing. The appeal here was more to the goths and underground followers than to a mass population of pop followers, so the sound throbbed harder, darker and edgier than what is played typically at dance clubs. There is an audience for this aggressive style of music, but is that audience large enough to sustain Front 242? Hopefully yes.

Visit Front 242 at www.front242.com.

Setlist
  1. Moldavia
  2. Take One
  3. 7Rain
  4. Religion
  5. Body To Body
  6. Quite Unusual
  7. Together
  8. Lovely Day
  9. Commando Mix
  10. U-Men
  11. Headhunter
  12. Im Rhythmus Bleiben
  13. Welcome To Paradise
Encore:
  1. Kampfbereit
  2. W.Y.H.I.W.Y.G. (snippet)
  3. Master Hit


Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Meadows Music & Arts Festival 2017, Day Three

On September 15-17, 2017, the Meadows Music & Arts Festival returned for its second year in the parking lot of Citi Field in Queens, New York. The festival, produced by Founders Entertainment, which also produces the annual Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall's Island, expanded to three days from last year's two days, and featured more than 40 music artists on four stages from noon to 10 p.m. each night. Jay-Z, Gorillaz and the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined the three days, and the rest of the roster was packed with many on-the-rise names in hip-hop, pop, dance and alternative music. The festival also showcased street art and interactive installations along with dozens of local food and cocktail vendors.

The Meadows' most spectacular highlights might have been in the surprises.

On Friday, Run The Jewels brought out Zac De La Rocha, formerly of Rage against the Machine. Later, Jay-Z paid homage to Linkin Park's late Chester Bennington with "Numb/Encore" from their 2004 collaborative set Collision Course. "Sing it so loud he can hear it all the way in heaven," Jay instructed the crowd. Later, Jay introduced Damian Marley for the 4:44 track "Bam" and Marley's own "Welcome to Jamrock."

On Saturday, LL Cool J teamed with Q-Tip and Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest, Darryl McDaniels, who was the D.M.C. of veteran Queens-based rap duo Run D.M.C., and Melle Mel and Scorpio of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Future welcomed Yo Gotti, Nicki Minaj and Young Thug. Finally, Tory Lanez’ set featured an appearance from Busta Rhymes.

The Gorillaz, who played in human form rather than in the band's better-known cartoon and costumed forms, announced its guests earlier in the week, including Pusha T, Peven Everett, D.R.A.M., De La Soul, Little Simz, Jehnny Beth of Savages, Mos Def, and Del tha Funkee Homosapien.

On Sunday, Action Bronson promoted his new cookbook by tossing hardcover copies into the audience, even signing a few.
Fantastic Negrito
Kamaiyah
Wild Belle
CRX
GTA
St. Paul & the Broken Bones
Broods
Foster the People
Action Bronson
Broken Social Scene
Ghostface Killah
Nas
Weezer
Sleigh Bells
Lido
Red Hot Chili Peppers

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Meadows Music & Arts Festival 2017, Day Two

On September 15-17, 2017, the Meadows Music & Arts Festival returned for its second year in the parking lot of Citi Field in Queens, New York. The festival, produced by Founders Entertainment, which also produces the annual Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall's Island, expanded to three days from last year's two days, and featured more than 40 music artists on four stages from noon to 10 p.m. each night. Jay-Z, Gorillaz and the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined the three days, and the rest of the roster was packed with many on-the-rise names in hip-hop, pop, dance and alternative music. The festival also showcased street art and interactive installations along with dozens of local food and cocktail vendors.

The Meadows' most spectacular highlights might have been in the surprises.

On Friday, Run The Jewels brought out Zac De La Rocha, formerly of Rage against the Machine. Later, Jay-Z paid homage to Linkin Park's late Chester Bennington with "Numb/Encore" from their 2004 collaborative set Collision Course. "Sing it so loud he can hear it all the way in heaven," Jay instructed the crowd. Later, Jay introduced Damian Marley for the 4:44 track "Bam" and Marley's own "Welcome to Jamrock."

On Saturday, LL Cool J teamed with Q-Tip and Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest, Darryl McDaniels, who was the D.M.C. of veteran Queens-based rap duo Run D.M.C., and Melle Mel and Scorpio of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Future welcomed Yo Gotti, Nicki Minaj and Young Thug. Finally, Tory Lanez’ set featured an appearance from Busta Rhymes.
Big Boi
Antibalas
Erikay Badu
LL Cool J with D.M.C.
A-Trak
De La Soul
Future
Big Gigantic
TV on th Radio
Torey Lanez
M.I.A.
Gorillaz

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Afghan Whigs at the Bowery Ballroom

Greg Dulli
Born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio, by the 1980s Greg Dulli played in a local band called the Black Republicans, which bassist John Curley, a transplant from Washington, DC, later would join. In 1986, rising up as a garage rock band around the grunge movement, Dulli and Curley soon fused alternative rock and rhythm and blues and became the Afghan Whigs, based in nearby Cincinnati. The first song that the Afghan Whigs ever rehearsed was a cover of the Temptations' "Psychedelic Shack." Dulli later said he intended the Afghan Whigs to be "a cross between the Band, the Temptations, and Neil Young playing with Crazy Horse." The Afghan Whigs gained attention on MTV and college radio, but split after 15 years in 2001. The band reformed briefly in 2006, and then definitively in 2011. The Afghan Whigs' eighth and most recent album, In Spades, was released on May 5, 2017. The band presently consists of vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Dulli, bassist Curley, guitarist Jon Skibic, multi-instrumentalist Rick G. Nelson, and drummer Patrick Keeler.

The Afghan Whigs returned to the Bowery Ballroom tonight to perform two sets. The first set was comprised of the new album in its entirety and a second set included many of the band's best known songs plus a few covers. Bathed in dim blue lights for most of the show, the visuals were obscured, and for most of the set the audience could not clearly see Dulli's face, but his strong voice was turned up loud and boomed throughout the venue. Reeking with passion and angst, Dulli gave each song a rich treatment of sincerity and integrity, as the band ably backed his tone and delivery. For the second set, the Afghan Whigs gave the audience the retrospective it wanted plus four covers,  Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover," Sinead O'Connor's "Mandinka," the Beatles' "Dear Prudence" and, from Dulli's side project, the Twilight Singers' "Teenage Wristband." Har Mar Superstar joined the Afghan Whigs for "Demon in Profile." Dulli chatted between songs, acknowledging in particular several musicians who recently had passed on, including Afghan Whigs guitarist Dave Rosser, who died of colon cancer on June 28, 2017; Dulli dedicated "I Got Lost" to him, as a dozen or more audience members along the edge of the stage held posters that read "Viva la Rosser" and "Dave's light shines on." The special concert became a touching event for Afghan Whigs fans.

Visit the Afghan Whigs at www.TheAfghanWhigs.com.

Selist
Set 1: In Spades
  1. Birdland
  2. Arabian Heights
  3. Demon In Profile
  4. Toy Automatic
  5. Oriole
  6. Copernicus
  7. The Spell
  8. Light as a Feather
  9. I Got Lost
  10. Into the Floor
Set 2
  1. Parked Outside
  2. Matamoros
  3. I Wanna Be Your Lover (Prince cover)
  4. Mandinka (Sinéad O’Connor cover)
  5. Debonair
  6. It Kills
  7. Dear Prudence (The Beatles cover)
  8. My Enemy
  9. Son of the South
  10. Teenage Wristband (The Twilight Singers cover)
  11. Lost in the Woods

The Meadows Music & Arts Festival 2017, Day One

On September 15-17, 2017, the Meadows Music & Arts Festival returned for its second year in the parking lot of Citi Field in Queens, New York. The festival, produced by Founders Entertainment, which also produces the annual Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall's Island, expanded to three days from last year's two days, and featured more than 40 music artists on four stages from noon to 10 p.m. each night. Jay-Z, Gorillaz and the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined the three days, and the rest of the roster was packed with many on-the-rise names in hip-hop, pop, dance and alternative music. The festival also showcased street art and interactive installations along with dozens of local food and cocktail vendors.

The Meadows' most spectacular highlights might have been in the surprises. On Friday, Run The Jewels brought out Zac De La Rocha, formerly of Rage against the Machine. Later, Jay-Z paid homage to Linkin Park's late Chester Bennington with "Numb/Encore" from their 2004 collaborative set Collision Course. "Sing it so loud he can hear it all the way in heaven," Jay instructed the crowd. Later, Jay introduced Damian Marley for the 4:44 track "Bam" and Marley's own "Welcome to Jamrock."
Marian Hill
21 Savage

Migos

Sky Ferreira
Tegan & Sara
Joey Bada$$
Run the Jewels
Two Door Cinema Club
Blood Orange
Milky Chance
Jay-Z