Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Ruen Brothers at Mercury Lounge

Influenced by their dad's record collection before they were teens, Henry Stansall (lead vocals/acoustic guitar) and his younger brother Rupert Stansall (lead guitar/ backing vocals) were blending vocals in a way that recalled American artists from the early 1960s. At ages 11 and 12, they would rehearse in the family kitchen in Scunthorpe, England, and then ask local pub owners if the duo could entertain tipsy late-night patrons with their renditions of old songs. After college, hoping to enter a bigger world of music, the duo moved to London, conflated portions of their first names to create a new amalgam-created moniker, the Ruen Brothers, and recorded original music in the studio apartment they shared. Their demos and homemade videos led to radio play, then a 2015 EP, and now a debut studio album, All My Shades of Blue, which will be released tomorrow, June 1, 2018.

Headlining at the Mercury Lounge tonight, the Ruen Brothers opened with two covers that gave a taste of what was forthcoming, the folk traditional "Mama Don't" and Hank Cochran's 1963 country crooner "Make the World Go Away." Accompanied by a drummer, the rest of the set was comprised of original songs that drew from vintage country, rockabilly and throwback rock and roll sources. Most impressive were the sibling harmonies that recalled the Everly Brothers backed by Buddy Holly-like rhythms. From romantic ballads to stirring rock and rollers, the Ruen Brothers captured the spirit of a bygone era and gave the set a tasteful shot of new youthful vibrancy. The Ruen Brothers proved to be a sharp act ready for a rock and roots revival.

Visit the Ruen Brothers at

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Dirty Projectors at Public Arts

David Longstreth
David Longstreth, born in Southbury, Connecticut, began creating experimental music when his older brother went to college and left behind his four-track recorder. Longstreth enrolled in music and art studies at Yale University in New Haven, but besides attending classes he stayed in his dorm room making complex indie music. He found no community with which he could share his compositions, however. He dropped out of school, moved in with his brother in Portland and completed his debut album in 2001. He returned to Yale to finish his degree and started using the professional name Dirty Projectors for his next recordings. Longstreth has since collaborated with David Byrne, Bjork and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The band Dirty Projectors has had dozens of members but the present lineup consists of guitarists/vocalists David Longstreth and Maia Friedman, keyboardists/vocalists Felicia Douglass and Kristin Slipp, bassist Nat Baldwin, and drummer Mike Daniel Johnson. Dirty Projectors' ninth album, Lamp Lit Prose, will be released on July 13, 2018.

In a pre-Governors Ball concert tonight, Dirty Projectors headlined the new Pubic Arts performance space, and proved there is no band more indie. Just as the band smoothed the way for a soul crooner, an off-kilter arrangement would throw train off the rails. Focusing primarily on new compositions, the band's music was chillwave until it got quirky and pop until a musical bridge tossed in odd rhythms. Longstreth led most of the singing, but when he drew in his bandmates the vocal arrangements were often based on harmony but had no predictable trajectory. Longstreth's own vocals featured unconventional chamber-like phrasings and the band's jagged rhythms paralleled the mindset of progressive rock or jazz fusion, but ultimately Dirty Projectors' performance was none of the above. The indie genre has no parameters, so that may be where the classification where the eccentric music of Dirty Projectors will live and die.

Visit Dirty Projectors at

  1. I Found It in U
  2. Break-Thru
  3. What Is the Time
  4. Cannibal Resource
  5. Beautiful Mother
  6. Dance for You
  7. Little Bubble
  8. I Feel Energy
  9. No Intention
  10. That's a Lifestyle
  11. Cool Your Heart
  12. Keep Your Name
  13. Impregnable Question
  14. Zombie Conqueror
  1. Swing Lo Magellan
  2. Rise Above
  3. Right Now

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Roger Alan Wade at Opry City Stage, Second Floor Stage

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Roger Alan Wade relocated to Nashville to write songs for George Jones, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. Wade's biggest hit was 1986's "Country State of Mind," which he co-wrote with Hank Williams, Jr. Changes in the country music landscape left Wade with little hope for sustained success, so he moved back to Chattanooga in the early 1990s, where he began collaborating with his cousin Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame. Knoxville occasionally featured Wade's more whimsical and humorous music on his television series. Knoxville and Wade host an hour-long weekly show, Big Ass Happy Family Jubilee, named after a Wade song, on Sirius XM's Outlaw Country channel. Wade currently does voiceover work for a classic country radio station in Chattanooga. His sixth and most recent album is 2014's Bad News Knockin'.

New York City's newest country music venue, Opry City Stage, has two performance spaces, a main room on the fourth floor and a restaurant on the second floor. Wade and his sextet performed four nights this week in the restaurant. As the venue is located in the Times Square area, the restaurant drew a number of tourists who came for dinner with live country music in the background and left after dessert. Wade seemed to cater to that clientele, performing two sets and scattering a dozen classic country covers in his set; many of those covers were sung by his accompanists. Those present who came specifically to hear Wade's music got what they wanted in between those cover songs. Wade is a fine songwriter, articulating joys and sorrows with pensive word twists and a poet's wisdom. Other songs played light-heartedly with redneck themes and honky tonk culture. His fiddler and lead guitarist gave spunk to the songs. In a dimly-lit downtown venue, Wade's performance might have leaned towards a serious folk-styled concert; at this midtown venue, it was a country music hoedown.

Visit Roger Alan Wade at and Opry City Stage at

Thursday, May 24, 2018

HammerFall at the Gramercy Theatre

Joacim Cans & Oscar Dronjak
Guitarist Oscar Dronjak was born in Mölndal, Sweden, and played the accordion and the trombone before starting on guitar at age 14. Shortly thereafter he assembled his first band, the Hippie Killers, then in Striker he mixed his original songs with heavy metal covers. He founded the death metal band Desecrator (later Ceremonial Oath) in 1989, but quit the band to form melodic heavy metal band HammerFall in 1993 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Vocalist Joacim Cans joined in 1996 and HammerFall began recording. After many personnel changes the band presently consists of Dronjak, Cans, guitarist Pontus Norgren, bassist Fredrik Larsson, and drummer David Wallin. HammerFall's 10th and most recent studio album is 2016's Built to Last.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, HammerFall specialized in a facet that has been disappearing rapidly in many metal subgenres -- the band's old school metal was built on clarity instead of muddle. The razor sharp vocals soared without screeches or growls and the rapid guitar leads and riffs were lucid without distortion and effects. Cans' vocals rose and fell for dramatic effect and the guitarists balanced solos with coinciding twin leads. The band embraced the visual and interactive possibilities as well, with Cans making many exaggerated facial and body gestures and the guitars-and-bass triumvirate synchronizing body movements and hair spinning. The band performed songs from all of its albums except the first, providing a broad scope of its past 20 years. HammerFall may be the band to reference when bookmarking a band that has studied and faithfully replicated the spirit of late 1970s hard rock and heavy metal.

Visit HammerFall at

  1. Hector's Hymn
  2. Riders of the Storm
  3. Renegade
  4. Dethrone and Defy
  5. Blood Bound
  6. Any Means Necessary
  7. B.Y.H.
  8. Crimson Thunder
  9. Threshold
  10. Built to Last
  11. Last Man Standing
  12. Legacy of Kings Medley
  13. Heeding the Call
  14. Let the Hammer Fall
  1. Hammer High
  2. Bushido
  3. Hearts on Fire

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Helmet at the Highline Ballroom

Page Hamilton
Born in Portland, Oregon and raised in Medford, Oregon, Page Hamilton moved to New York City to study jazz guitar. At first he played in avant-garde composer Glenn Branca's guitar orchestra and joined noise rock band Band of Susans but in 1989 he formed his own alternative metal band, Helmet. Helmet's second album, Meantime, sold more than two million records but the band dissolved in 1998. In 2002, Hamilton relocated to Los Angeles, California, where he joined David Bowie's touring band and began playing on film scores and producing music for other music artists. He periodically returned to New York to work with his rock band Gandhi, but the fledgling band never released any music. In 2004 he revived the brand Helmet with new personnel; the band presently consists of Hamilton, guitarist Dan Beeman, bassist Dave Case, and drummer Kyle Stevenson. Helmet has released eight studio albums, the most recent being 2016's Dead to the World.

Co-headlining at the Highline Ballroom tonight with Prong, the evening was a homecoming for both alternative metal bands, contemporaries who both started their careers with regular gigs at CBGBs. Helmet began with 1994's "Wilma's Rainbow," and followed with 1990's "Bad Mood" and 2016's "Bad News." The transition from the oldest material to the newest seemed seamless, with Hamilton's vocals and guitar leads harnessing and dominating the blazing sound. The music was hard, heavy, and blistering, but stayed far from metal clichés. Songs often were played in minor keys with drop-D or drop-C tuning for deeper effect, and Hamilton's heavily distorted and sometimes dissonant leads fueled the flames. The other three musicians supported the boom and crunch of the songs. Towards the end of the performance, Hamilton fielded song requests from the audience, reserving the biggest hit, "In the Meantime," for the evening's closer. Through Hamilton's leadership, Helmet provided an antidote to formula hard rock while preserving the scorching guitar-based rock of the most adventurous of the 1990s alternative rock era.

Visit Helmet at

Monday, May 21, 2018

Graham Parker at City Winery

Born in London, England, and raised in nearby Deepcut, Graham Parker responded to the advent of the Beatles in the early 1960s by forming the Deepcut Three, soon renamed the Black Rockers. The members never actually learned to play their instruments, however, but the three 12 and 13 year olds looked cool in Beatle haircuts, black jeans and polo neck sweaters. Working odd jobs in his late teens, Parker purchased an acoustic guitar and learned to fingerpick and write songs. He left England for Paris, France, then hitchhiked from Spain to Morocco, ultimately moving to Gibraltar; there he joined a psychedelic band named Pegasus, which he changed to Terry Burbot’s Magic Mud. In 1972 Parker returned to England and lived with his parents, worked at a petrol station, and pursued a career in music. After a few demo tapes gained industry attention, he formed Graham Parker & the Rumour in 1975 and built a reputation as an incendiary live act. By the 1980s Parker began recording under his own name and briefly linked with the Shots and the Figgs, eventually reuniting with the Rumour some 30 years later from 2012 to 2015. With and without the bands, Parker gained consistent critical acclaim and sustained a substantial cult following but never achieved widespread success. In April 2018, Parker released a new single titled "Dreamin'," and announced that an accompanying album was forthcoming.

In recent months, Graham Parker has been performing acoustic solo concerts regularly at City Winery venues in New York and other cities. Parker as an acoustic solo artist turned out to be radically different from Parker as a rocking band leader. Leading the Rumour in the 1970s, Parker punched passionate vocals with a barbed edge, giving them a distant don't-come-close guard-dog barrier. Now 67 years old, Parker transitioned anger to a softer sweetness that made the same songs sound approachably personal. Between songs, Parker shared humorous, whimsical reflections that might not have suited his somewhat acerbic persona of yesteryear. The connecting fiber was the soulful delivery that Parker mastered since his earliest beginnings. The kernel of the material now was the song itself rather than the boom of the band delivery, to where a song like "I Discovered America" sounded folkie and tender for the first time. Parker proved that he is a classic artist worth a listen whether solo or with a band.

Visit Graham Parker at

  1. Watch the Moon Come Down (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  2. I Discovered America
  3. Heat Treatment (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  4. Love Without Greed (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  5. Long Shot (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  6. The 3 Martini Lunch
  7. Syphilis & Religion
  8. Dreamin'
  9. Bathtub Gin
  10. Hotel Chambermaid (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  11. Things I've Never Said
  12. Evil (Graham Parker & the Figgs song)
  13. Howlin' Wind (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  14. Lady Doctor (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  15. Love Gets You Twisted (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  16. Discovering Japan (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  17. I'll Never Play Jacksonville Again
  18. Last Stop Is Nowhere
  19. Stick to Me (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  20. Get Started, Start a Fire
  21. Protection (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  1. Back to Schooldays (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  2. Saturday Nite Is Dead (Graham Parker & the Rumour song)
  3. Hold Back the Night (The Trammps cover)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Joey Ramone Birthday Bash at the Bowery Electric

In 1974, four high school friends in Forest Hills, New York, rebelled against the excesses of rock and roll, donning tight jeans and too-small leather biker jackets, and reduced rock and roll to three chords, playing them loud, fast and raw. They named themselves the Ramones, adopting the fake name Paul McCartney used to register into hotels, and took Ramone as their surname. Starting at the punk rock club CBGB's, the Ramones launched a career that sold more t-shirts than records, but the band led the charge of American punk rock until the band's demise in 1996. The band recorded 14 albums and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, the first year the band became eligible.

Vocalist Joey Ramone became the band's charismatic and iconic front person, and the first of the original four musicians to pass away. Joey Ramone died in New York after a seven-year battle with lymphoma in 2001. His first posthumous solo album, Don't Worry About Me, was released in 2002, and a second, ...Ya Know?, was released in 2012. In 2003, a few yards from CBGB's, the block on East 2nd Street where Johnny once lived was officially renamed Joey Ramone Place.

Joey Ramone's brother, Mickey Leigh, celebrates Joey's birthday every May 19th with a musical celebration at one of New York's music clubs. This year at the Bowery Electric, also adjacent to Joey Ramone Place, Leigh hosted the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash 2018. The evening first featured performances by three newer bands inspired by the Ramones, with Heap, the Gobshites, and the Italians. Next, the Love Triangle, a trio consisting of Leigh and two later Ramones, bassist CJ Ramone and drummer Richie Ramone, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Ramones' fourth album, Road to Ruin, by playing the 31-minte opus in its entirety. Finally, a tribute band consisting of the Love Triangle and various local musicians (Walt Stack of the BullysGeorge Tabb of Furious George, Evil Presley of the Independents, Russell Wolinsky with Tish and Snooky of the Sic F*cks, Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones, Miriam Linna of Miriam & Nobody's Babies, Lindsey) performed Ramones songs. All net proceeds benefited the Joey Ramone Foundation for Lymphoma Research.

Setlist: The Love Triangle perform the Ramones' Road to Ruin
  1. "I Just Want to Have Something to Do"
  2. "I Wanted Everything"
  3. "Don't Come Close"
  4. "I Don't Want You"
  5. "Needles and Pins" (The Searchers cover)
  6. "I'm Against It"
  7. "I Wanna Be Sedated"
  8. "Go Mental"
  9. "Questioningly"               
  10. "She's the One"
  11. "Bad Brain"
  12. "It's a Long Way Back"
Setlist: The Joey Ramone Tribute Band
  1. "Warthog" (The Ramones cover) (George Tabb, vocals)
  2. "Somebody Put Something in My Drink" (The Ramones cover) (Richie Ramone, vocals)
  3. "Chasing the Night" (The Ramones cover) (Richie Ramone, vocals)
  4. "Sheena is a punk rocker" (The Ramones cover) (Evil Presley, vocals)
  5. "Strength to Endure" (The Ramones cover) (CJ Ramone, vocals)
  6. "Surfin' Bird" (The Ramones cover) (Sic F*cks, vocals)
  7. "I Remember You" (The Ramones cover) (Peter Zaremba & Miriam Linna, vocals)
  8. "I Want You Around" (The Ramones cover) (Lindsey, vocals)
  9. "New York City" (Joey Ramone cover) (Mickey Leigh, vocals)
  10. "What a Wonderful World" (Louis Armstrong cover) (Mickey Leigh, vocals)

The Love Triangle
George Tabb
Richie Ramone
Evil Presley
CJ Ramone
The Sick F*cks
Peter Zaremba & Miriam Linna
Mickey Leigh

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Pussy Riot at Elsewhere, Brooklyn

Nadya Tolokonnikova
Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova, her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were members of Voina, a Russian street-art group known for their provocative and politically charged works of performance art, from the group's early days in 2007. They split from the main group in St. Petersburg and formed a separate Moscow-based group, also named Voina. Tolokonnikova and Samutsevich then founded Pussy Riot in Moscow in 2011 as a feminist collective staging illegal guerrilla performances that voiced dissident art and political action united by feminism, anti-authoritarianism and opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Pussy Riot's many controversial protests made headlines in Russia but the group gained global notoriety when five members of the group staged a performance inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior in 2012; that three members were sentenced to two years in prison for hooliganism led to an international outcry. In 2015, Pussy Riot released its first song and video in English. Pussy Riot has released seven songs and five videos, but have not released a conventional album.

Pussy Riot's first North American tour promised that it would be more of a political event than a concert. Unlike Pussy Riot's spontaneous and illegal performance art events in Russia, tickets would be sold for the American events, which a press release described as "a subversive mix of activist art and live set." That series including tonight's engagement at Elsewhere in Brooklyn. That event began with a lengthy pre-recorded political statement and video projection. Tolokonnikova then came on stage along with a disc jockey and two dancers, one of whom was the opening act, American-born Dorian Electra. All wore colorful sportswear and Pussy Riot's trademark balaclavas (ski masks), which obscured their faces. The high-tech political rally aspect prior to Tolokonnikova's appearance was refined for an impactful execution, but Tolokonnikova's politicized marriage of performance art and concert proved less riveting due to all the dancing and pop melodies. Tolokonnikova's raps were sometimes projected on the large screen backdrop. "Bad Apples" suggested that the best place to find some politicians was in their graves. "Straight Outta Vagina" was a feminist statement. Were all the vocals live? At times, even the vocals appeared to be prerecorded. Nevertheless, as the intent of the electro hip hop songs was to serve as a medium for Pussy Riot's pro-freedom and equality message, then this aim also was accomplished.

Visit Pussy Riot at

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Liam Gallagher at SummerStage at Rumsey Playfield

Liam Gallagher's brothers, Paul and Noel Gallagher, often contend that even from a young age, Liam went out of his way to antagonize people, especially Noel, with whom he shared a bedroom while growing up in Burnage, a suburb of Manchester, England. The young Liam reportedly had no interest in music until a rival student hit him in the head with a hammer; after this incident, Liam allegedly became infatuated with the idea of joining a band. A school friend invited Liam to join his band, the Rain, as a vocalist. In 1991, with the addition of Noel, Rain became Oasis, one of the pioneers of the 1990s Britpop movement. Oasis sold more than 70 million records worldwide. In 2009, the ever-feuding brothers split Oasis; Noel launched Noel Gallagher & His High Flying Birds, and Liam with the former Oasis musicians formed Beady Eye. After two albums, Beady Eye split in 2014 and Liam embarked on a solo career. Liam Gallagher's one solo album, As You Were, was released on October 6, 2017.

Hundreds of fans at Central Park Summerstage's Rumsey Playfield tonight endured a constant drizzle during the solo acoustic set by opener Richard Ashcroft of the Verve, but the rain stopped for Liam Gallagher's set. Wearing a long parka, Gallagher swaggered to the edge of the stage as his band ripped into the opening chords of Oasis' "Rock 'n' Roll Star." Gallagher then anchored himself behind the microphone stand, assuming his signature stance, slightly crouching chin-up to the microphone with his hands resting above his buttocks. Gallagher rarely strayed from this post and position, only occasionally shaking a tambourine or a pair of maracas. Gallagher roared with his distinctive snarly, throaty voice, and the tight band supported him well. Although Gallagher was establishing his credentials as a solo artist, the set list was dominated by Oasis songs seven to five; the set excluded Oasis' "Wonderwall," however, which Gallagher this year has sung abroad only. At present, there is no Oasis, so for fans Liam Gallagher's energetic concert was perhaps nearly as satisfying.

Visit Liam Gallagher at

  1. Rock 'n' Roll Star (Oasis song)
  2. Morning Glory (Oasis song)
  3. Greedy Soul
  4. Wall of Glass
  5. Bold
  6. For What It's Worth
  7. Some Might Say (Oasis song)
  8. D'You Know What I Mean? (Oasis song)
  9. You Better Run
  10. Cigarettes & Alcohol (Oasis song)
  1. Supersonic (Oasis song)
  2. Live Forever (Oasis song)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Editors at Irving Plaza

Tom Smith
Born in Northampton, England, Editors front person Tom Smith spent his early years in Stroud, Gloucestershire, where he learned to play the guitar. He met his future band mates while attending university and living in Birmingham. They first performed in 2002 as Pilot until they learned that another band by that name had hit records in the 1970s. They became the Pride and then after a personnel change became Snowfield in 2003. Upon signing to a record label they changed their band's name to Editors. Editors achieved success in the United Kingdom, scoring two platinum-selling albums, but has not yet notched a parallel fame in the United States. The band currently consists of Smith (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Russell Leetch (bass, synthesizers), Ed Lay (drums), Justin Lockey (lead guitar), and Elliott Williams (keyboards, synthesizers, guitars). Editors' sixth and most recent album, Violence, was released on March 9, 2018.

Editors' first American tour in eight years brought the band to Irving Plaza tonight, where the band performed six songs from its newest album and two or three songs from each of its previous albums. Editors' sound was big and full, often driven by a danceable beat and searing guitar leads. Although Smith possesses a four and a half octave vocal range, the center of gravity was a husky, emotive coloring seemingly soaked with angst and wounds. Ambiguous lyrics enhanced an aura of mystery. If the band commits to working the American market, expect Editors to headline arenas and stadiums in the near future.

Visit Editors at

  1. Hallelujah (So Low)
  2. A Ton of Love
  3. Formaldehyde
  4. Darkness at the Door
  5. Violence
  6. No Harm
  7. Blood
  8. Munich
  9. An End Has a Start
  10. In This Light and on This Evening
  11. Nothingness
  12. Sugar
  13. The Racing Rats
  14. Ocean of Night
  1. Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors (acoustic)
  2. Cold
  3. Magazine
  4. Papillon
  5. Marching Orders

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

  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

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

  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

  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)
  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

  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
  1. I Don't Want to Go Home (Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes cover)
  2. Out of the Darkness (Little Steven cover)