Friday, June 29, 2018

Dan Baird and Homemade Sin at Hill Country Barbecue Market

Dan Baird was born and raised in San Diego, California, and in his early teens moved to Atlanta, Georgia. There, in 1980, he formed the Georgia Satellites, in which he sang, played rhythm guitar and possibly pioneered cowpunk and alt-country music by combining elements of rock music, country music, outlaw country, and punk rock. Baird left the band in 1990 to pursue a solo career and released his first solo album in 1992. In 2005, Baird began touring with his band Homemade Sin, which currently features guitarist Warner E. Hodges of Jason & the Scorchers, bassist Micke Nilsson, and drummer Mauro Magellan, formerly of the Georgia Satellites. Dan Baird and Homemade Sin's fifth and most recent studio album, Rollercoaster, was released on March 24, 2017.

Dan Baird and Homemade Sin returned to Hill Country Barbecue Market tonight and performed a two-hour set that included six fan favorites from Baird's Georgia Satellites days in addition to his later work. The common thread was that all the songs were unabashed, blistering rock and roll party tunes. The sizzling hot stompers often sported a thick southern boogie and sometimes featured country-styled vocal harmonies, but they remained lean on emotions or anything else that would diminish a foot-stomping response. The passions instead were felt mostly in the loud, wailing guitars, which occasionally swallowed Baird's gritty vocals and wry lyrics. In the end, Dan Baird and Homemade Sin blazed a flaming trail of rock and roll that was as authentic as it was timeless.

Visit Dan Baird and Homemade Sin at www.danbairdandhomemadesin.net.

Setlist:
  1. Damn Thing to Be Done
  2. I Dunno (The Georgia Satellites cover)
  3. Rollercoaster
  4. The Myth of Love (The Georgia Satellites cover)
  5. Julie + Lucky (Dan Baird cover)
  6. I Love You Period (Dan Baird cover)
  7. Shake It Til It's Sore
  8. Crooked Smile
  9. Younger Face (Dan Baird cover)
  10. Knocked Out Cold
  11. Keep Your Hands to Yourself (The Georgia Satellites cover)
  12. Runnin' Outta Time
  13. Sheila / Do You Wanna Dance
  14. Nothing Left to Lose
  15. All Over but the Cryin' (The Georgia Satellites cover)
  16. Dan Takes Five (The Georgia Satellites cover)
  17. Fall Apart on Me
  18. Moving Right Along
  19. Railroad Steel (The Georgia Satellites cover)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Calling at the Gramercy Theatre

Alex Band
Alex Band started playing music live with a band called Generation Gap in 1996 in Los Angeles, California, then performed briefly with Next Door. A demo gained Band a recording contract, and so he had to form a touring band, which he named the Calling, a moniker which reflected the band's sense of purpose. The Calling's "Wherever You Will Go," which Band wrote as a teenager, topped Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart for 23 weeks, making it the second longest running number one in the chart’s history; Billboard later named it the number one song of the decade (2000-2010) on the Adult Pop chart. The song's accompanying album, Camino Palmero, sold more than five million copies worldwide and was certified gold in the United States. The band's second and most recent album, Two, was released in 2004 but did not sell as well; its lead single, "Our Lives," was featured in the closing ceremonies of the 2004 Summer Olympics and was the opening song of the 78th annual Academy Awards. The Calling disbanded in 2005. In 2013, Band reformed the Calling with new members. After only a few shows, the group broke up again. Band assembled a new line-up in 2016.

Billboard also named the Calling among its one-hit wonders of the 2000s. At the Gramercy Theatre, Alex Band and his hired musicians proved that they were barely a band, as the musicians several times seemed mystified by Band's impromptu leadership decisions. At one point, as the drummer was trying to sort out a technical difficulty, Band performed solo, but then Band walked off the stage as the band was about to start backing him. Moments like this proved that the Calling is Band and Band is the Calling, the one-hit wonder. Band sang with a smooth, distinctive voice, packed with hefty, brooding passion. The songs were built on commercial pop-rock melodies that seemed like they all could been cell-phone-waving anthems. A more collaborative group effort might have grounded the music and given the performance stronger legs to stand on.

Visit the Calling at www.thecallingmusic.com.

Setlist:
  1. Adrienne
  2. Our Lives
  3. Could It Be Any Harder
  4. Stand Up Now
  5. Why Don't You and I (snippet)
  6. Stigmatized
  7. Waiting at Your Gate
  8. Rain Down Love
  9. Wherever You Will Go
Encore:
  1. Disarm (The Smashing Pumpkins cover)
  2. Anything
  3. With or Without You (U2 cover)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Low Cut Connie at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2

Pianist/vocalist Adam Weiner, a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, found early work in New York City playing in gay bars, karaoke bars, restaurants and ballet classes, often under the name Ladyfingers. In 2010, he started working a project that would become Low Cut Connie, the name inspired by a waitress who often wore low-cut tops at a restaurant near where Weiner grew up. In 2015, Weiner was considering ending Low Cut Connie when the band's song "Boozophilia" was chosen by then-President Barack Obama as one of the songs on his Spotify summer playlist; Weiner later met the president and was encouraged to continue Low Cut Connie. The band, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, presently consists of Weiner, guitarists James Everhart and Will Donnelley, bassist Lucas Rinz, drummer Larry Scotton, and backing vocalist Saundra Williams. Low Cut Connie's fifth and most current album, Dirty Pictures (Part 2), was released on May 18, 2018.

Tonight at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2, Low Cut Connie performed an early evening concert for later broadcast on WFUV Public Radio. Unfortunately the radio listeners will be unable to witness the wild antics that the live audience enjoyed. Playing Elton John-styled rock and roll party music, the flamboyant Weiner borrowed from Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis by standing on his piano bench, stepping on the piano keys, crawling under the piano while playing, as Weiner excelled in over-the-top theatrics. The radio audience will nonetheless pick up on the indefatigable Weiner singing soulfully and joyfully to pop songs infused with vaudeville, barrelhouse, honky tonk, and New Orleans-style piano playing. In person or on the radio, this was a high-energy rock show.

Visit Low Cut Connie at www.lowcutconnie.com.

Monday, June 25, 2018

U2 at Madison Square Garden

At age 14, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. sought musicians to form a band and posted a note on his school's notice board in Dublin, Ireland. Little did Mullen know in 1976 that he and the teenaged musicians that met in his kitchen for a rehearsal  would become one of the biggest-selling bands in rock and roll history. Vocalist Bono (Paul Hewson), guitarist the Edge (David Evans), bassist Adam Clayton, and Mullen initially called themselves Feedback because it was one of the few technical terms they knew and played their first public performance in 1977. They changed the band name to the Hype but it was not until they became U2 in 1978 that the band won a talent contest in Limerick, earning £500 and studio time to record a demo. U2 has sold more than 170 million records worldwide and has won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band. U2 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, the band's first year of eligibility. U2's 14th and most recent studio album, Songs of Experience, was released on December 1, 2017.

A little more than 40 years after the band's first public concert, U2 is touring the world with one of the most extravagant stage shows ever conceived. The 2018 eXPERIENCE &  iNNOCENCE tour is perhaps the companion to the similarly-staged iNNOCENCE & eXPERIENCE tour in 2015, as if the story the band began to unravel was reaching a conclusion now. The band's performance space spanned the length of the venue floor, from a traditional rectangular main stage to a smaller, circular stage, and two connecting walkways, a runway on the ground and a catwalk in the sky, the latter sandwiched between 96-foot-long double-sided video screens that allowed the musicians to interplay with the video projections. The set list on the first of three nights at Madison Square Garden excluded most of the band's hits and focused on the new album and deep cuts from more recent albums, again to tell the autobiographical story of the band members' turbulent survival from innocence to experience. Videos and props gave flesh to the songs. Bono sang powerfully and clearly throughout the night, and the Edge played searing guitar leads, but more than anything, the audience responded to a breath-taking multimedia spectacular. Fans familiar with the newer material followed the story arc, but those who came hoping for familiar songs simply enjoyed  U2's rock and roll thrill ride.

Visit U2 at www.u2.com.

Setlist:
Set 1
  1. Love Is All We Have Left
  2. The Blackout
  3. Lights of Home
  4. I Will Follow
  5. All Because of You
  6. Beautiful Day
  7. The Ocean
  8. Iris (Hold Me Close)
  9. Cedarwood Road
  10. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  11. Until the End of the World
Set 2
  1. Elevation
  2. Vertigo
  3. Desire
  4. Acrobat
  5. You’re the Best Thing About Me
  6. Staring at the Sun (Bono and the Edge acoustic)
  7. Pride (In the Name of Love)
  8. Get Out of Your Own Way
  9. American Soul
  10. City of Blinding Lights
Encore:
  1. One
  2. Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way
  3. 13 (There Is a Light)

Friday, June 22, 2018

Ciaran Lavery at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2

Ciaran Lavery was born in Lurgen in County Armagh, Ireland, and attended university in Belfast, but in recent years bought a house in the tiny village (population: 824) of Aghagallon in County Antrim. Lavery started playing guitar and singing at age 15 and was part of a local country folk band called Captain Kennedy for seven years. He started working solo in 2013, and won a Northern Ireland Music Prize in 2016 for his second album, Let Bad In. His third studio album, Sweet Decay, was released on April 13, 2018.

Ciaran Lavery returned tonight to Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2, presented by Communion Music. Lavery accompanied himself only on acoustic guitar and piano to an audience so attentively quiet that listeners could hear ice shift when they lifted their drinks. Lavery similarly sang his hush-toned and lilting songs with pillow-talk whispers. Strumming his guitar softly, Lavery gave his compositions an earthy yet atmospheric ambience while maintaining a subtle rhythmic pulse. The simple arrangement of the songs sounded more American than Irish, as deeply poetic and candid lyrics provided an insightful profundity to common and mundane references. The dichotomy of freedom and isolation that comes with living in a small village seemed to permeated his colorful images of love, loss and loneliness. Lavery finely related universal truths in a manner so entrancing that he apprehended his audience in a virtual group hug. Lavery's performance was distinctive; few singer/songwriters can create a communal bond this intimate.

Visit Ciaran Lavery at www.ciaranlaverymusic.com.

Ashe at the Loft at City Winery

Originally from San Jose, California, and raised in San Diego, a six-year-old Ashlyn Willson took piano lessons and studied classical music. She began writing songs toward the end of high school and became known by the mononym Ashe, adding an "e" to her nickname to pay homage to Carole King. After a brief stint at a community college, her passion for music led her to decide that "it was Berklee or bust" and she enrolled in the Berklee College of Music, majoring in Contemporary Writing and Production. As graduation approached in 2015, she chose to ground her music career in Nashville, Tennessee. Ashe wrote a song for Demi Lovato ("You Don't Do It For Me Any More") and collaborated with EDM artists including Louis the Child and Whethan. Ashe released her seven-track debut EP The Rabbit Hole today.

Taking a quick step away from a tour opening for Lewis Capaldi, Ashe performed a music industry showcase at the Loft at City Winery to celebrate the release of her debut EP. Singing and playing an electric piano, accompanied solely by an electric guitarist, Justin GammellaAshe was less the electro-pop singer than a singer/songwriter with a powerhouse voice. Her vocal styling incorporated vintage jazz inflections, light, airy and soothing as her melodies scaled octaves. Her lyrics, clear as a bell, articulated her insights into the human condition. Even songs about disillusionment and disappointment, like "Sometimes People Suck" and "Used to It" were sung with a sunny disposition. Ashe offered more mind and soul than the typical EDM artist; this singer-songwriter route seemed like a better fit.

Visit Ashe at www.ashemusic.us.

Setlist:
  1. We Get High
  2. Mine
  3. Sometimes People Suck
  4. Choirs
  5. Average Girl
  6. Used to It
  7. Real Love > Time after Time (Cyndi Lauper cover)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A2IM Indie Week 2018

Just a generation ago, music artists longed to be signed by a major record company and young business hopefuls lobbied to get a job with a major record label, management team or music publisher. Modern technology has eased the challenges of music production, distribution and publicity, such that everything seems easier to do and with less financial risk at start-up. Several challenges remain, however, including "how do I get my product to the attention of the masses" and "how can I generate income from this?" Meanwhile, this entrepreneurial spirit and enterprising initiative of thousands of independent artists, record companies, managers, publishers and similar do-it-yourselfers has fueled the independent music industry.

The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), a not-for-profit trade organization representing more than 500 independently-owned American record labels, celebrates and promotes the independent music industry each year by sponsoring Indie Week in New York. During the daytime on June 18 to 21, participants attended conferences, panel discussions, and networking events at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center in New York City. The evenings were filled with live music, presentations, and socials at Manhattan night spots.

Several participating organizations coincided their own celebrations with Indie Week 2018. M for Montreal, Dutch Music Export, CIMA, Dutch Culture USA, and the Consulate General of Canada in New York hosted a showcase of live music at Pianos on June 19. The Reeperbahn Festival, based in Hamburg, Germany, held a showcase at Pianos on June 20. Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) Worldwide celebrated its 25th Anniversary as a leading global distribution and services organization within the independent music community by hosting a concert on June 20 at the Bowery Ballroom. The week culminated with the indie industry's biggest night, the Libera Awards at the PlayStation Theater.
Le Couleur, an electro-pop band from Montreal, Quebec, performed at the M for Montreal showcase.
Haerts, originally from Munich, Gemany, performed at the Reeperbahn Festival showcase.
Ron Gallo performed at ADA's 25th anniversary concert.
J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. performed a solo acoustic set at ADA's 25th anniversary concert.
Comedienne Kate Wolff hosted the seventh annual A2IM Libera Awards.
Saundra Williams sang with the Dap-Kings at the Libera Awards.
Lee Fields sang with the Dap-Kings at the Libera Awards.
Shabazz Palaces accepted an award at the Libera Awards.
Raul Midon performed at the Libera Awards.
Vicktor Taiwó performed at the Libera Awards.
Sam Outlaw performed at the Libera Awards.
Natalie Prass performed at the Libera Awards.
The Funky 4 + 1 closed the Libera Awards.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mike Shinoda at the Gramercy Theatre

In Agoura Hills, California, Mike Shinoda's mother encouraged her six-year-old son to take classical piano lessons. By 13, he moved toward jazz, blues, and hip-hop, and during his middle school and high school years he added the guitar and rap-style vocals to his repertoire. Shinoda formed Xero with two of his high school friends in 1996; the band became Hybrid Theory and then Linkin Park in 1999 with the addition of Chester Bennington. Bennington became Linkin Park's primary singer, while Shinoda also sang and rapped on many tracks. Linkin Park has won two Grammy Awards and sold more than 70 million albums worldwide. In 2004, Shinoda conceived a short-lived hip-hop-driven side project, Fort Minor. More recently, he released under his own name the Post Traumatic EP on January 25, 2018; the EP featured three songs articulating his feelings regarding Bennington's 2017 suicide. Shinoda's debut solo album, also entitled Post Traumatic, was released on June 15, 2018.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, Mike Shinoda performed solo, singing, rapping, and playing various instruments accompanied by backing tracks. The repertoire consisted of songs from Linkin Park, Fort Minor and Shinoda's solo work, plus a few seemingly impromptu detours, yet as a whole the set took a decidedly more pop turn than Linkin Park's nu metal and alternative rock; Shinoda's baritone hip-hop style met pop hooks in places where Linkin Park probably never would have gone. Curiously, Shinoda's newer lyrics do not seem like fodder for hits; they seemed more like a cathartic journey through Kübler-Ross' five stages of grief. Nevertheless, the repetitious hook lines, melodies and arrangements were meant for chanting or dancing, not brooding or healing. It would seem that Shinoda has left metal music, at least for now, in favor of Top 40 dreams.

Visit Mike Shinoda at www.mikeshinoda.com.

Setlist:
  1. Welcome (Fort Minor song, with extended intro)
  2. Place to Start
  3. Watching as I Fall
  4. Castle of Glass (Linkin Park song, piano style)
  5. When They Come for Me (Linkin Park song, shortened)
  6. Hands Held High (Linkin Park song; verse 1 acapella, not on setlist)
  7. Kenji (Fort Minor song)
  8. Roads Untraveled (Linkin Park song, shortened)
  9. Ghosts
  10. Waiting for the End / Where'd You Go
  11. Sorry for Now (Linkin Park song, with extended intro and bridge w/ demo verse)
  12. Crossing a Line
  13. In the End (Linkin Park song) (piano version)
  14. About You (Vocoder intro; shortened)
  15. Over Again / Papercut (shortened)
  16. Make It Up as I Go
  17. Good Goodbye / Bleed It Out (Linkin Park song)
Encore:
  1. I.O.U. (Live debut; not on setlist and not rehearsed)
  2. Remember the Name (Fort Minor song, shortened)
  3. Running from My Shadow

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Bad Wolves at the Gramercy Theatre

Diamante & Tommy Vext
(John Boecklin obscured)
After six albums with DevilDriver, which he co-founded in 2002, drummer John Boecklin left the band in 2014 and two years later launched a new project called I of Tongues. In 2015, Boecklin and Brooklynite Tommy Vext (ex-Divine Heresy, ex-Snot) spoke about forming  a melodic metal band that featured  more  singing  than  screaming. By 2017 they had recruited lead guitarist Doc Coyle (ex-God Forbid), rhythm guitarist Chris Cain (ex-Bury Your Dead, ex-For the Fallen Dreams) and bassist Kyle Konkiel (ex-In This Moment, Vimic) to form Bad Wolves, based in Los Angeles, California. The band released a debut studio album, Disobey, on May 11, 2018.

Bad Wolves is best known for its 2018 cover of the Cranberries' 1994 protest song, “Zombie," written by Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan about the 1993 IRA bombings in Warrington, England. O'Riordan, was supposed to have added her vocals to Bad Wolves' cover of the song, but she died in a suicide the day before the recording session. The band recorded the cover without her, and promised all proceeds to O'Riordan's children. Just before Bad Wolves performed at the Gramercy Theatre tonight, the band presented a check for $250,000 to O'Riordan's ex-husband and two sons, with the promise of more to come.

"Zombie" was indeed the concert's showstopper, but the band also performed 11 other tracks from the 13-track album as well. While the album is a collection of super-slick power metal songs, tonight's live performance drove those songs into a grittier terrain. Vext sang with a smooth voice for much of the set, but even from the opening song opened his larynx for rough growling melodies. The first part of the volatile set incorporated crashing elements of nu metal and later songs borrowed a bit from hip hop and progressive rock. The band found its way to ballads as well, including "Hear Me Know," during which Vext invited opening act Diamante to perform a duet as on the album. Bad Wolves demonstrated that it has an arsenal of diverse hard rockers, but it may take time for the band to become known for more than a commercial cover song.

Visit Bad Wolves at www.badwolvesnation.com.

Setlist:
  1. Officer Down
  2. Learn to Live
  3. No Masters
  4. Remember When
  5. Shape Shifter
  6. Better The Devil
  7. Run for Your Life
  8. Truth or Dare
  9. Hear Me Now (with Diamante)
  10. Jesus Slaves
  11. Toast to the Ghost
  12. Zombie (The Cranberries cover)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Rhiannon Giddens at SummerStage Central Park at Rumsey Playfield

Hubby Jenkins & Rhiannon Giddens
Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Rhiannon Giddens studied opera as a young adult in Oberlin, Ohio. She then discovered American and European roots music and her music trajectory shifted to learning to sing and play guitar, fiddle and banjo. In 2005, Giddens was competing in Scottish music competitions and attended the Black Banjo Then and Now Gathering, in Boone, North Carolina. There she met Dom Flemons and Sule Greg Wilson, and the three started a "postmodern string band" called Sankofa Strings. Later in 2005, Giddens and Flemons teamed with other musicians and formed the Carolina Chocolate Drops; Giddens is currently the only remaining original member of the Grammy-winning band. Giddens' second and most recent solo studio album, Freedom Highway, was released on February 24, 2017. Since then, Giddens has portrayed Hannah Lee "Hallie" Jordan, a social worker with the voice of an angel, in CMT's television series Nashville.  Giddens is based in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Limerick, Ireland.

Headlining  a free concert at SummerStage Central Park at Rumsey Playfield, Rhiannon Giddens explored Appalachian folk, bluegrass, country and old-time music, but also expanded deeper into vintage gospel, blues, jazz, and rhythm & blues than she did with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Her accompanists included Hubby Jenkins, her partner in the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who sang one song. Giddens' soprano featured crystal-clear tones, warm ranges and simmering emotions. The largely stringed and simplified small group arrangements captured the homespun beauty of the compositions, balanced successfully as she shifted from rural to urban roots. Giddens is an avid researcher, so she introduced many songs with enthralling timelines paralleling black history and music history. The combination of astute academics and pristine performance resulted in a riveting contextual soundtrack for a series of virtual snapshots of American musical history.

Visit Rhiannon Giddens at www.rhiannongiddens.com.

Setlist:
  1. Going to Write Me a Letter (Ola Belle Reed cover)
  2. O' Love Is Teasin' (Jean Ritchie cover)
  3. Fiddle Tunes
  4. At the Purchaser's Option
  5. Following the North Star
  6. The Angels Laid Him Away
  7. Water Boy (Odetta cover)
  8. Children, Go Where I Send Thee ([traditional] cover)
  9. Fiddle Tunes
  10. Fiddle Tunes
  11. She's Got You (Patsy Cline cover)
  12. Underneath the Harlem Moon (Howard Joyner cover)
  13. Parchman Farm (Hubby Jenkins vocals, without Rhiannon)
  14. Come Love Come
  15. Freedom Highway (The Staple Singers cover)
Encore:
  1. Lonesome Road / Up Above My Head (Sister Rosetta Tharpe cover)

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Black Dahlia Murder at Stage 48

Trevor Strnad
The Black Dahlia Murder formed as a death metal band in 2001 in Waterford, Michigan. The band's name was derived from the still-unsolved 1947 murder of actress Elizabeth Short, often referred to as Black Dahlia. The band currently comprises two original members, vocalist Trevor Strnad and rhythm guitarist Brian Eschbach, plus bassist Max Lavelle, drummer Alan Cassidy, and new lead guitarist Brandon Ellis. The Black Dahlia Murder's eighth and most recent  album, Nightbringers, was released on October 6, 2017.

For this co-headlining tour with Whitechapel, which stopped at Stage 48 tonight, the Black Dahlia Murder promised to play Nightbringers in its entirety. This was a bold announcement, in that such a move is usually reserved for a classic album rather than a new collection, and in that using most of the set time for one album precludes a "greatest hits" retrospective. Indeed, the Black Dahlia Murder played the nine new tracks plus four songs from the first three albums. Nevertheless, perhaps it did not matter what songs the band performed, as they were all performed the same way, with a brutal impact that made faces in the audience feel like punching bags. For most of the set, the speedy, thrusting music sound like perpetual thunder, with Strnad's coarse vocals and Ellis' searing guitar leads penetrating through the din. The growled and garbled lyrics were as violent as the jackhammer music. The Black Dahlia Murder remains the poster band for extreme metal music.

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

Setlist:
  1. Widowmaker
  2. Of God and Serpent, of Spectre and Snake
  3. Contagion
  4. Matriarch
  5. Nightbringers
  6. Jars
  7. Kings of the Nightworld
  8. What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse
  9. Catacomb Hecatomb
  10. As Good as Dead
  11. The Lonely Deceased
  12. Everything Went Black
  13. Statutory Ape
  14. Deathmask Divine

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dwight Yoakam at the Beacon Theatre

Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle & Lucinda Williams
Dwight Yoakam was born in Pikeville, Kentucky, and was raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he starred in his high school's music and drama programs and sang and played guitar with local garage bands. In 1977, intent on becoming a recording artist, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he played his honky tonk revival music in punk rock clubs. Since then, he has recorded more than 20 albums and compilations, charted more than 30 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, and sold more than 25 million records. He has also acted in numerous television series and feature films and curates his own satellite radio station. His most recent album is 2016's Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars..., a bluegrass album.

This LSD tour, named after the first initials of the three co-headliners, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle & the Dukes and Dwight Yoakam, came to the Beacon Theatre tonight, presenting three different takes on country roots revival. Yoakam closed the show with a tight, no-space-to-breathe hour-long set that did not afford him the time to include his usual acoustic bluegrass mini-set. The denim cowboy's set marched to a rocking rhythm from start to end, such that a cover of Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie" did not seem out of character. Unmistakably, Yoakam's rich baritone etched a country stamp on all the songs, several of which were covers of old-time classics, but they were thoroughly powered by rock energy and volume. The evening ended with Yoakam singing a charging cover of Flatt & Scruggs' 1952 bluegrass classic  "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)," with Williams and Earle singing backup; the only thing better would have been to have given each of the artists their own verse to sing.

Visit Dwight Yoakam at www.dwightyoakam.com.

Monday, June 11, 2018

of Montreal at le Poisson Rouge

Georgie Fruit aka Kevin Barnes
Seeking suitable band mates to fulfill his off-kilter musical ideas, Kevin Barnes left his native Athens, Georgia, moved south to Florida and north to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Cleveland, Ohio, and eventually recruited from the local music scene and its Elephant 6 collective back home. Barnes founded of Montreal as an indie solo project in 1996. Allegedly, the name was inspired by a failed romance between Barnes and a woman "of Montreal." Over time, of Montreal's music evolved from low-fidelity twee pop to math pop to psychedelic to glitter rock to classic rock to funk; of Montreal currently is inspired by extended dance remixes of the 1980s. of Montreal has recorded 14 studio albums; the most recent album, White is Relic/Irrealis Mood, was released on March 9, 2018.

Performing as part of le Poisson Rouge's 10th anniversary celebration, of Montreal's latest production was once again over the top, led by Barnes' colorful alter ego, Georgie Fruit, whom Barnes conceived to be a person in his 40s who performed in a funk band in the 1970s and has undergone multiple gender transitions. Fruit performed in five different drag outfits, accompanied musically by keyboardist Jojo Glidewell, keyboardist/guitarist Bennett Dean Lewis, bassist Davey Pierce, and drummer Clayton Rychlik. In addition, costumed dancers, larger-than-life puppets and a stash of props offered scenarios that included sea-creatures, sequined dragons, and Mexican wrestlers. The set included quirky songs from several of of Montreal's better-selling albums, while the newer songs were thumping synthesizer dance songs that matched Barnes' obtuse, angular musical leanings to body-moving elements from the disco era. The lyrics to many of the selected songs endorsed sex positive messages and were performed dynamically with in-your-face forcefulness. Overall, of Montreal's concert provided escapism to the maximum degree.

Visit of Montreal at www.ofmontreal.net.

Setlist:
  1. Id Engager
  2. Paranoiac Intervals / Body Dysmorphia
  3. Plastis Wafer
  4. Hydra Fancies
  5. We Will Commit Wolf Murder
  6. Dour Percentage
  7. Writing the Circles / Orgone Tropics
  8. Sex Karma
  9. If You Talk To Symbol / Hostility Voyeur
  10. Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games)
  11. Sophie Calle Private Game / Every Person Is a Pussy, Every Pussy Is a Star!
  12. A Sport and a Pastime
  13. It's Different for Girls
  14. Gronlandic Edit
  15. Gallery Piece
  16. Let's Relate
Encore:
  1. Soft Music / Juno Portraits of the Jovian Sky
  2. Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Northside Music Festival 2018

In the 21st century, Brooklyn has seen an unprecedented boom in start-up businesses, music venues and musicians. Launched in the summer of 2009, the Northside Festival  annually celebrates the technological and musical innovations of Brooklyn, and then amplifies them by drawing speakers and musicians from outside the borough as well. Now in its 10th year, more than 300 bands and 150 speakers presented to Northside Festival attendees across 30 venues in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick over five days and nights. Northside Innovation on June 6-8 aimed for budding entrepreneurs to discover the next big thing in technology and business through panel talks, keynotes, pitch competitions, and networking events that explored emerging tech, media innovations, the future of original video content, startup pitch competitions, design, tactical workshops for entrepreneurs, and cultural discussions with Brooklyn influencers. Northside Music on June 7-10 connected music fans to over 300 musical performances.
Conferences like this one, The Future of Work: Making Space for Community,
explored the newest trends in today's job market
Township Rebellion performed an all-women tribute to Rage against the Machine at the Safari Room at El Cortez
Plastiq Passion at the Safari Room at El Cortez
The Frigs at the Hall at Elsewhere
Corridor at Elsewhere Zone One
Deerhoof at the Hall at Elsewhere
Eaters at Elsewhere Zone One
Protomartyr at the Hall at Elsewhere
Bush Tetras at the Safari Room at El Cortez
Half Waif at the Music Hall of Williamsburg
A Deer A Horse at the Gutter
Cakes da Killa at Rough Trade
Lulu Lewis at Muchmore's


Les Bicyclettes Blanches at Muchmore's
Shamir at Baby's All Right

Friday, June 8, 2018

Combichrist at the Gramercy Theatre

Andy LaPlegua
Ole Anders Olsen, known professionally as Andy LaPlegua, began his life and his career in Fredrikstad, Norway. There, LaPlegua experimented with hip-hop in the techno band LAW, industrial in Devils into Crime (DIC), hardcore punk in My Right Choice (MRC) (later renamed Fleshfire) and metal in Lash Out. He also explored trance and club music with the bands Plastic Life and Sector9. He conceived a solo project in 1997, but then recruited musicians to evolve the project into the futurepop band Icon of Coil. LaPlegua then formed aggrotech band Combichrist in 2003 as a more aggressive alternative to Icon of Coil and then the electro-industrial Panzer AG in 2004 to combine the danceability of Icon of Coil and the hard-hitting beats of Combichrist. His most techno-oriented project is (DJ) Scandy, and his newest project, Scandinavian Cock, is a rockabilly/psychobilly act. LaPlegua presently is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, LaPlegua was accompanied by guitarist Eric13, keyboardist Elliot Berlin, drummer Joe Letz, and percussionist Nick Rossi. Combichrist's eighth and most recent album, This Is Where Death Begins, was released two years ago, so with no new songs to promote, the Everybody Still Hates You tour consisted entirely of songs unearthed from the Combichrist catalog. LaPlegua growled acidic melodies as the band backed him with hard, scorching beats and waves of corrosive industrial metal soundscapes, bridging crunching death metal with industrial, techno and power noise elements. The musicians maintained their high-energy pace from beginning to end; LaPlegua and Eric13 incessantly paced the edge of the stage and engaged the audience, and Letz, wearing both a mouth guard to create a perpetual wide smile and a short black dress that revealed his panties when he stood (which he did often), frequently poured water on his drums to create geysers when he hit them with his sticks. Powered by an explosive barrage of beats, the intensity of the band's sonic battery matched the imaginative creativity of this harsh, hammering music. Combichrist's performance scraped and frayed the edges of extreme dance music.

Visit Combichrist at www.combichrist.com.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Split Squad at the Bowery Electric

The Split Squad is comprised of the members of classic punk bands from decades past. Vocalist/bassist Michael Giblin was in Cherry Twister, guitarist Eddie Muñoz is in the Plimsouls, guitarist Keith Streng is in the Fleshtones, keyboardist Josh Kantor was in the Baseball Project, and drummer Clem Burke was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a founding member of Blondie. The new band's name refers to the practice during Major League Baseball's spring training of teams splitting into two squads so that each squad plays against another team on the same day. Conceived in 2011 and formed in 2013, the band's sole album, Now Hear This... was released in 2014.

The Split Squad returned to the Bowery Electric, this time without a keyboardist, and rocked the venue with blazing guitars. Streng's guitar was wireless, and he dashed into the audience often for his solos; Muñoz was contained at the side of the stage but whipped out equally electric solos. The force was not only in the guitar work, however. Giblin sang catchy 1960s-style pop melodies and Burke pounded the percussion tirelessly. Falling somewhere between garage rock and power pop, the sum total was a high-energy rock and roll show.

Visit the Split Squad at www.thesplitsquad.com.

Setlist:
  1. Superman Says
  2. I've Got a Feeling
  3. Hey DJ
  4. Sorry She's Mine (Small Faces cover)
  5. Showstopper
  6. Hey Hey Baby
  7. Feel the Same about You
  8. Touch & Go
  9. Help Yourself (Jimmy Reed cover)
  10. Stop Me
  11. Palpitation Blues
  12. Now Hear This / Rock and Roll Queen (Mott the Hoople cover)
Encore:
  1. A Million Miles Away (The Plimsouls cover)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Tatiana DeMaria at Mercury Lounge

Tatiana DeMaria is best known as the vocalist/guitarist of TAT, the punk band she formed in 2003 when she was a 15 year old living in London, England. As a child DeMaria moved with her family to Paris, France, where she developed a love of punk rock. She returned to London as a teenager and started playing guitar and writing songs. She played in several high school bands until she formed TAT (originally named the Camden Whigs). Aside from TAT, she began working behind the scenes in the soundtrack and jingles industry in 2011. She began performing as a solo performer in 2017 with concerts at Rockwood Music Hall and the Bowery Electric. An as-yet-untitled solo EP is planned for a fall 2018 release after her participation in a Warped tour.

Tatiana DeMaria retained her punk personality tonight at Mercury Lounge, but her music seemed to have shifted to a tough pop genre. DeMaria took a confident stance for most of her set, playing her guitar with one foot upon a stage monitor and shaking her mane of long, raven-black hair. She sang with a strong voice that emoted angst and rebellion as each song built tension and release like a sudden storm. Her fearless and ferocious projection only highlighted the subtle vulnerability articulated in her lyrics. Midway through her set, her band watched as she strapped on an acoustic guitar and paced through the audience for a mini solo set that throbbed with equal parts passion and power. This may be pop, but it surely was not lightweight.

Visit Tatiana deMaria at www.tatianademaria.com.

Marcia Ball at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2

Born in Orange, Texas, raised in nearby Vinton, Louisiana, Marcia Ball played piano from age five, playing old Tin Pan Alley and popular music tunes from her grandmother's collection. At age 13, she discovered blues and soul music in New Orleans, and this formed her style of playing. She played in a blues-based rock band called Gum while in college and in 1970, at age 21, she started a progressive country band called Freda and the Firedogs in Austin, Texas. The band split in 1974 and Ball began her solo career, playing clubs in and around Austin, Houston and Louisiana. She has recorded 12 studio albums and additional collaborations. She has won 10 Blues Music Awards and 10 Living Blues Awards, and has been inducted into the Gulf Coast Music Hall Of Fame, the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame, and the Austin Music Hall of Fame. The Texas State legislature named her the official 2018 Texas State Musician. On October 25, 2018, Ball will be inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame. Her most recent album, Shine Bright, was released on April 20, 2018.

Ball and her band performed two sets tonight at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2, and blended an amalgam of southern roots music into her original songs. Her fingers played a rollicking barrelhouse and boogie woogie, but her saucy voice came from a smoldering Texas blues. Her band added to the Gulf Coast regional flavors, playing stomping roadhouse grooves. Ball's husky vocals gave a swampy feel to the few ballads in the set. Together Ball and her band ignited a rhythm and blues set fit for a Mardi Gras party, especially when they encouraged a sing-along on a new song, the tongue-in-cheek "Life of the Party."

Visit Marcia Ball at www.marciaball.com.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Kelly Willis at the Loft at City Winery

Born in Lawton, Oklahoma, a nine-year-old Kelly Willis began singing as a way to comfort herself after her parents divorced. Her father was a U.S. Army colonel so, after the divorce, Willis and her siblings moved around the country to accommodate his assignments. She spent her middle school years in North Carolina and her high school years in Annandale, Virginia. One day during a high school visit to the beach, she entered a nearby pay recording booth and sang Elvis Presley's "Teddy Bear." Willis' recording impressed her then boyfriend, drummer Mas Palermo; his rockabilly band recruited the 16 year old as lead vocalist and renamed the band Kelly Willis & the Fireballs. After Willis’s high school graduation, the band relocated to Austin, Texas, but then disintegrated a few months later. Willis and Palermo, married in 1989, formed a short-lived rockabilly band called Radio Ranch; they divorced in 1991. Willis launched a solo career, and in 2011 she and her second husband, Bruce Robison, began singing as a duo. Willis released Back Being Blue, her seventh solo album and first solo album in 11 years, on May 18, 2018.

At the Loft at City Winery tonight, a new 150-seat venue above City Winery, Willis sang old-style country western and chatted genially with the audience between songs, sharing anecdotes about the composition's origins. Willis' performance embraced the era before Nashville discovered the power ballad to refine the heartache-meets-honky-tonk inclination of the more traditional breed of country music. While many lyrics touched on the pains of life, her projection affected joyful nuances with a rich southern twang in her soprano vocals. Much of her past catalog included rockabilly and outlaw inflections, however, and these were largely missing in tonight's showcase. While her performance was quite pleasant, it would have been more uniquely expansive if she had balanced more rockabilly and outlaw elements into her soft-rocking set.

Visit Kelly Willis at www.kellywillis.com.

Setlist:
  1. Back Being Blue
  2. If I Left You
  3. Only You
  4. Heaven Bound
  5. What I Deserve
  6. Modern World
  7. Fool’s Paradise
  8. Wrapped Around Your Finger
  9. What the Heart Doesn’t Know
  10. Heaven's Just a Sin Away
  11. Sweet Sundown
  12. We’ll Do It for Love Next Time
  13. Not Forgotten You
  14. Find Another Fool
  15. Afternoon’s Gone Blind
  16. Take It All Out on You
  17. Freewheeling
  18. Get Real
  19. Don’t Step Away
Encore:
  1. Whatever Way the Wind Blows