Saturday, September 29, 2018

Global Citizen Festival 2018


Major musical acts are the main draw at the annual Global Citizen Festival, a concert and political rally that started in New York City's Central Park in 2012. Organized by Global Poverty Project, the original focus of the event was to encourage citizens to take actions designed to end extreme poverty around the world by the year 2030, but has since expanded to increase awareness of environmental and social justice causes. Those who perform designated activism, including writing letters or signing petitions, earn free tickets to the event. The Global Citizen Festivals are live-streamed in order to make them global. Chris Martin of Coldplay became the events' curator in 2015.

The 2018 festival, held in Central Park's Great Lawn on September 29, followed a week of U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York. The concert and rally drew 60,000 music fans to see performances by the Weeknd, Janet Jackson, Shawn Mendes, Cardi B and Janelle Monáe, with John Legend listed as special guest performer. Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-lee Furness, hosted the event, which included presentations by Chris Martin, Naomi Campbell, Dakota Johnson, Robert DeNiro, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and dozens of other entertainment and political leaders. Cable television's MSNBC broadcasted the festival live.

This year's festival in Central Park was interrupted for about a half hour about 7:30 p.m. by a stampede in the right pen by the stage. Hundreds of attendees, unsure of what happened but following the rush, ran out of the area leaving behind shoes, blankets and other personal belongings. Police charged into the area and discovered no danger. The promoters and the police initially attributed the cause of the panic to a fallen metal barricade but later determined it to be someone standing on and exploding a soda bottle, making a sound that was mistaken as an active shooter. No explanation or appeal for calm came from the stage for almost a half hour, as medics attended to those injured in the melee. Some attendees who fled among the panic and confusion were unable to re-enter the park for their possessions.

Highlights from the Global Citizen Festival 2018 in New York
Janelle Monae
Janelle Monáe supported survivors of sexual assault
Combating sexual assault was a prevalent theme at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival. Janelle Monáe cited Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh two days earlier. "I dedicate this to Dr. Ford, I dedicate this to Anita Hill, I dedicate this to anyone who is trying to make this place a better world," Monae said between songs. "This past week was a brutal, brutal week for a lot of us women," she said. "It was an especially hard week for survivors of sexual violence, so I want to start out today's festival by telling any survivor here in this audience right now, any survivor watching from your home that I hear you, I see you, and I believe you." She led a call and response chant of, "We hear you, we see you, we support you, we believe you."
Robert DeNiro
Chris Martin of Coldplay
Katie Holmes
John Legend
John Legend introduced a social action-inspired song
Billed as a special guest, John Legend performed only three songs, solo at the piano, including his biggest hit, "All of Me," and a cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song." Before debuting a new song, "Preach," Legend said "We have a lot of politicians here talking the talk, and we're going to follow up with them, right? We need legislation passed — we better follow up with you, Governor Cuomo. All our governors around the country: We're going to follow up with you. We're paying attention, and we're voting. It's not enough to talk." He prefaced the song by adding, "in the song we talk about how frustrating it can be to look at your phone, read the news, see what's happening, see how senators treat women who come forward with sexual abuse claims, see how people ridicule young people who  march for their right to go to school without getting shot up, see how people denigrate those who would make the very simple claim that Black Lives Matter." Although those particulars were not named in the lyrics, he concluded, "We've got to make the world a better place. We can't just preach."
Rami Malek & Mark Ruffalo
Hugh Jackman & Deborra-Lee Furman
Shawn Mendes & John Legend
Shawn Mendes invited John Legend on stage for a duet
Shawn Mendes invited his audience to take action for the 264 million youth around the world who are unable to get an education. Mendes brought John Legend back on stage for a duet on Mendes' "Youth." Mendes and Legend alternated verses, with Legend taking the parts that were sung by Khalid on the original track, and harmonized on the chorus of "You can't take my youth away."
Forest Whitaker
Keala Settle & the New York City Gay Men's Chorus
The Greatest Showman's Keala Settle sang with the New York City Gay Men's Chorus
Host Hugh Jackman introduced Keala Settle, his co-star in the 2017 musical film The Greatest Showman. Settle performed the Oscar-nominated "This Is Me" backed by members of the New York City Gay Men's Choir. The lyrics embraced the value of inclusivity.
Amber Heard & Bridget Moynahan
Cardi B
Cardi B's ad-libbed and introduced a video message by Michelle Obama
Bronx-born Cardi B returned to the stage following a four-month maternity leave, rapping and twerking her hits. She said, "I'm nervous, I'm sweating, I had a nervous breakdown today, but it's fine and I'm here and trying to change the world." Towards the end of her set, she was supposed to read from a teleprompter, but Cardi ad-libbed instead. "We need to vote, especially us, the millennials, under 25 and over 18, we need to vote. Last election, everybody took it as a joke, even me. I'm not even gonna' front…I thought 'that person ain't gonna win' and look where we at now." She then introduced a video message from former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Naomi Campbell
Janet Jackson with Q-Tip
Janet Jackson offered tributes to Joe and Michael Jackson
Janet Jackson was the first performer after the security scare. Like several other performers, Jackson spoke about abuse. "Like millions of other women out there, I know about bullying. I know about verbal abuse. I know about physical abuse. I know about abuse of authority. I'm sick, I'm repulsed, I'm infuriated by the double standards that continue to threaten women as second class citizens," she said as the crowd cheered. "Enough, guys, enough. Enough injustice. Enough bigotry. Mistreatment and mindless prejudice has to stop, and stop now. Equality is our demand. Action is our answer. Let's go."
Jackson performed many of her best-known songs. In an unanticipated moment, Jackson introduced rapper Q-Tip, who performed "Got 'Til It's Gone" with her. As she has done on other stops on her tour, Jackson paid tribute to her late brother, Michael Jackson. She shouted, "Let's go, Mike!" and sang along to a video of the late pop star singing "Scream." During "Together Again," she paid tribute to her late father, Joe Jackson, projecting photographs of them together. "I miss you," she said. "I love you, both of you."
Dakota Johnson
Sho Madjozi
The Weeknd
The Weeknd comforted the audience
The Weeknd's closing set was cut short due to the festival's temporary evacuation. "Fortunately no one got hurt tonight, but you know I love you," he told the audience. "I had to cut it short, but I still feel the love." He later tweeted "so grateful we got to perform at @GlblCtzn tonight after the whole mishap earlier. wish we could have done the whole set but curfew at Central Park is serious and thankfully they gave us extra time! fortunately no one got hurt! Thank you New York!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Supersuckers at Mercury Lounge

Eddie Spaghetti & "Metal" Marty Chandler
As a child in Tucson, Arizona, Edward Daly chose his career path the minute he first heard the Knack's "My Sharona." Foregoing the country music he heard everywhere, he turned to heavy metal and punk rock. In 1988, he formed the Black Supersuckers, in which he played bass. He became Eddie Spaghetti and the band shortened its name to Supersuckers. The Supersuckers' aim was to strip away some of the pretense of late 1980s metal and inject showmanship into the punk scene. In 1989, the band relocated to Seattle, Washington. Spaghetti became the band's singer, while still playing bass. In 1995, Supersuckers went on a brief hiatus when Spaghetti was diagnosed with stage 3 oropharynx cancer and underwent surgery and radiation treatments. Supersuckers presently consists of Spaghetti, guitarist "Metal" Marty Chandler and drummer Christopher "Chango" Von Streicher. Supersuckers' 11th and most recent album, Suck It, was released on September 21, 2018.

Supersuckers is on a 30th anniversary tour, and much of the 33-song set at Mercury Lounge was comprised of songs from the band's first two albums. The band members may have looked like a outlaw country musicians, but the largest chunk of the nearly two-hour set was a tornado of hard-banging, punk-inspired rock and roll. Lyrics were often humorous, even when politically incorrect, accentuating the straight-forward message that this was a rock and roll party. Spaghetti's vocals were lighter now post-surgery, but he has lost none of his rock and roll animus or bravado, Chandler often played extended solos at the lip of the stage, and Von Streicher pounded the drums to keep the machinery pumping at adrenalin speed. After 30 years, the self-professed Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World stills puts on a super show.

Visit Supersuckers at www.supersuckers.com.

Setlist:
  1. All of the Time
  2. The History Of Rock 'n' Roll
  3. Dead Inside
  4. Breaking My Balls
  5. This Life (Would Be a Whole Lot Better If I Didn’t Have to Share It) With You
  6. Roadworn and Weary
  7. Holdin’ the Bag
  8. Non-Addictive Marijuana
  9. Let’s Bounce
The Smoke of Hell album
  1. Coattail Rider
  2. Luck
  3. I Say F*ck
  4. Alone and Stinking
  5. Caliente
  6. Tasty Greens
  7. Hell City, Hell
  8. Hot Rod Rally
  9. Drink and Complain
  10. Mighty Joe Young
  11. Ron's Got the Cocaine
  12. Sweet 'n' Sour Jesus
  13. Retarded Bill
  14. Thinkin’ ’Bout Revenge
La Mano Cornuda album
  1. Creepy Jackalope Eye
  2. Seventeen Poles
  3. High Ya!
  4. On the Couch
  5. Sugie
  6. Mudhead
  7. Gold Top
  8. How to Maximize Your Kill Count
  9. She's My Bitch
Encore:
  1. 'Til I Die

Sting & Shaggy at the Rooftop at Pier 97

Gordon "Sting" Sumner, from Newcastle, England, and now living between New York City and Malibu, California, has won 16 Grammy Awards as bassist of the Police and as a solo artist. Orville "Shaggy" Burrell grew up in Raetown, Jamaica, and is a reggae artist with 13 hit albums. Sting and Shaggy first performed together publicly at the 2018 Grammy Awards. Their joint CD, 44/786 (named after their respective country codes), was released on April 20, 2018.

Sting and Shaggy's tour brought them to the Rooftop at Pier 17 tonight, where threatening storms prompted the promoters to begin the show 15 minutes early. Sting sang and played bass for most of the set, Shaggy sang and toasted Jamaican style, and as they traded vocals and harmonized, they were backed by longtime Sting guitarists Dominic Miller and Rufus Miller, and drummer John Freese, plus Shaggy's keyboardist Kevon Webster and backing vocalists Melissa Musique and Gene Noble. From the start, Sting and Shaggy traded lyrics on Sting's "Englishman in New York" (with "Jamaica" subbed in a few times), and several times did mash-ups of their hits. The set also included eight songs from their collaborative album, including "Crooked Tree," during which Shaggy wore a judge's robes and wig and Sting wore a black-and-white-striped shirt representing a prisoner. The show was a departure for both Sting and Shaggy, with Shaggy toasting as Sting's hype man and Sting's distinctive tenor as backup on some of Shaggy's ribald lyrics, but somehow the chemistry clicked majestically for nearly two hours. The rain finally fell towards the end of the set, with many in the audience fleeing but many others soaking up the musical sunshine along with the rain, chanting the lyric "I dream of rain" during the encore of "Desert Rose."

Setlist:
  1. Medley: Englishman in New York (Sting song)/Jamaican in New York (Shinehead cover)
  2. 44/876
  3. Morning Is Coming
  4. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (The Police cover)
  5. Medley: Oh Carolina (Shaggy song)/We'll Be Together (Sting song)
  6. If You Can't Find Love(Sting song)
  7. Medley: Love Is the Seventh Wave (Sting song)/One World (Not Three) (The Police cover)
  8. Message in a Bottle (The Police cover)
  9. Fields of Gold (Sting song)
  10. Waiting for the Break of Day
  11. Gotta Get Back My Baby
  12. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free (Sting song)
  13. Don't Make Me Wait
  14. Dreaming in the U.S.A.
  15. Crooked Tree
  16. Medley: Walking on the Moon (The Police cover)/Get Up, Stand Up (The Wailers cover)
  17. Medley: So Lonely (The Police cover)/Strength of a Woman (Shaggy song)
  18. Medley: Roxanne (The Police cover)/Boombastic (Shaggy song)
Encore:
  1. Desert Rose (Sting song)
  2. It Wasn't Me (Shaggy song)
  3. Every Breath You Take (The Police cover)

Monday, September 24, 2018

PIG at the Bowery Electric

Raymond Watts
In 1985, British sound engineer Raymond Watts (also known by his former stage names Nainz, Nainz Watts and Ray Scaballero) became an early vocalist in the industrial band KMFDM in Hamburg, Germany. After writing the music for the second KMFDM album, Watts toured with Australian industrial musician Foetus, playing keyboards and guitar. Watts launched a solo project called <PÎG> in 1988. Shortly after the Berlin Wall opened, Watts relocated his <PÎG> project to London, England. In Japan, he played in both Schaft and Schwein. Along the way, Watts periodically rejoined KMFDM, but he always returned to <PÎG>. The most recent <PÎG> album, Risen, was released on June 8, 2018.

Twelve days after opening for Killing Joke at Irving Plaza, <PÎG> headlined its own concert at the Bowery Electric, celebrating the 10th anniversary of industrial music concerts promoted by Xris SMack! and Stimulate. The 1995 <PÎG> song "Transceration" played over the public address system as Watts plus a guitarist and a drummer took the stage, with Watts again wearing a silver fringed jacket, a Roman collared shirt and several harnesses around the crotch of his black jeans. Seven of the 13 songs performed were from the current album and, like the earlier songs, they were dark yet danceable electronic body music. The new songs in particular seemed to feature rhythms that were a bit slower, allowing Watts to add soulful croons to his normally snarly growl. Floating between abrasive and ambient, <PÎG> defined what searing, squealing and scorching hard rock could be.

Visit <PÎG> at www.PÎGindustries.com.

Setlist:
  1. The Chosen Few
  2. The Revelation
  3. Loud, Lawless & Lost
  4. Morphine Machine
  5. Leather PÎG
  6. Prey & Obey
  7. Truth Is Sin
  8. Everything
  9. The Diamond Sinners
  10. Juke Joint Jezebel (KMFDM cover)
  11. Viva Evil
  12. Secret Skin (KMFDM vs. PÎG cover)
Encore:
  1. Find It F**k It Forget It

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives at the Town Hall

Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn, Marty Stuart
The Byrds formed in 1964 in Los Angeles, California, and was leading the folk rock movement in the mid- 1960s and the psychedelic rock market in the late 1960s when the band changed direction again in 1968. The Byrds' sixth album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, became arguably the first full-immersion country-rock album by a popular band. At the time of its release, the album was rejected by both country and rock audiences, but ultimately became a highly influential album, serving as a blueprint for the 1970s country rock and outlaw country movements, as well as the new traditionalist and alternative country genres of the 1990s. The Byrds went through many personnel shifts, with Roger McGuinn as the sole constant member, until McGuinn dismantled the brand when he recorded his first solo album in 1973. Presently, original member David Cosby owns the name of the Byrds.

McGuinn and Chris Hillman were the principal architects of Sweetheart of the Radio (with Gram Parsons, who died in 1973) so, although the duo could no longer call itself the Byrds, McGuinn and Hillman did perform a tribute to their former band and the 50th anniversary of the Sweetheart album. Backed by Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, this was the first tour in which McGuinn and Hillman had performed together in 25 years. The evening at the Town Hall tonight, the first of two consecutive nights, consisted of a first set comprised of the more countrified songs from the Byrds’ early repertoire, a second set replaying the entire Sweetheart album, laced with nostalgic anecdotes, and an encore that included a tribute to one of the Byrds' disciples, Tom Petty. McGuinn, Hillman, Stuart, Kenny Vaughn and Chris Scruggs switched up on acoustic, electric and steel guitars, bass and mandolin for much of the evening, with drummer Harry Stinson adding to their harmonies. The weakest element may have been McGuinn's vocals, which often sounded strained, but the frequent gang harmonies overshadowed this challenge. Country-rock has traveled a long way since Sweetheart's landmark point of origin, and 50 years later the modern context fittingly allowed for a greater acceptance and more suitable reception.

Setlist:
Set 1
  1. My Back Pages (Bob Dylan cover)
  2. A Satisfied Mind (Joe Hayes cover)
  3. Mr. Spaceman (The Byrds cover)
  4. Time Between (The Byrds cover)
  5. Old John Robertson (The Byrds cover)
  6. Wasn't Born to Follow (Carole King cover)
  7. Sing Me Back Home (Merle Haggard cover)
  8. Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man (The Byrds cover)
  9. Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan cover)
  10. Instrumental Outro
Set 2
  1. Country Boy Rock & Roll (Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives)
  2. Time Don't Wait (Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives)
  3. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (Bob Dylan & The Band cover; McGuinn and Hillman rejoined)
  4. Pretty Boy Floyd (Woody Guthrie cover)
  5. Hickory Wind (The Byrds cover)
  6. Life in Prison (Merle Haggard and The Strangers cover)
  7. One Hundred Years From Now (The Byrds cover)
  8. Nothing Was Delivered (Bob Dylan & The Band cover)
  9. Blue Canadian Rockies (Gene Autry cover)
  10. The Christian Life (The Louvin Brothers cover)
  11. You're Still on My Mind (Luke McDaniel cover)
  12. You Don't Miss Your Water (William Bell cover)
  13. I Am a Pilgrim ([traditional] cover)
  14. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (Bob Dylan & The Band cover)
Encore:
  1. So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star (The Byrds cover)
  2. American Girl (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)
  3. Wildflowers (Tom Petty cover)
  4. Runnin' Down a Dream (Tom Petty cover)
  5. Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) (Pete Seeger cover)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Imperative Reaction at Stimulate!

Ted Phelps founded electro-industrial band Imperative Reaction from the remains of Digital Neural Assault in 1996 in Los Angeles, California. Imperative Reaction circulated a demo tape entitled Debris in 1996, but eventually recalled and destroyed all known copies when the band chose to move in a different direction. After gaining momentum in the local industrial scene, the band released its first album in 1999. Imperative Reaction's sixth and most recent album, Imperative Reaction, was released in 2011.

For 10 years, Xris SMack! and his Stimulate parties have provided a stage for underground industrial, gothic and dark wave bands who might not get a New York gig otherwise. Imperative Reaction performed at the first Stimulate party and returned to perform at the 10th anniversary celebration. Backed by keyboardist Clint Carney and drummer Ben Tourkantonis, Phelps led Imperative Reaction through an intense set that matched sharp, aggressive vocals with throbbing electronic body music. The songs exploded with volcanic choruses, blazing, grinding grooves and a driving, pummeling dance beat. This was synthpop gone hard and heavy, yet maintaining its club roots. James Francis of Panic Lift joined in the encore on vocals.

Visit Imperative Reaction at Stimulate at www.imperativereaction.net.

Shakey Graves at Terminal 5

After high school in his native Austin, Texas, Alejandro Rose-Garcia attempted a career in acting and relocated to Los Angeles, California. This proved more challenging than perhaps he anticipated; he eventually landed a recurring role in the television series Friday Night Lights and the Spy Kids franchise, but only after returning to Texas. He began busking as a one-man band, playing acoustic guitar and stepping on foot pedals  attached to a suitcase and a tambourine for percussion. This concept originated after he grew weary of borrowing kick drums and high hats for performances. Over a campfire at a music festival in 2007, he and some friends gave each other fictitious Native American-styled guide names over a campfire. He decided to keep his name, Shakey Graves. Graves won the Best Emerging Artist award at the 2015 Americana Music Awards. In 2018, Graves released his fifth and most recent album, Can't Wake Up, on May 4, and the Night Owl EP yesterday, September 21.

Shakey Graves started solo at Terminal 5 tonight, with his traditional one-man band set-up. The songs were rich with grit and soul, as Graves played twangy folk and blustery blues leads on his acoustic guitar and claimed his percussion via foot pedals on a suitcase and a tambourine. This performance was mesmerizing, as Graves filled the stage with intriguing sound. After three solo songs, he introduced his band, guitarist Patrick O’Connor, bass player Jonathan Shaw, and drummer Christopher Boosahda. The music turned to an entirely different direction. No longer even remotely Americana in flavor, the songs were imaginative and eclectic alternative-rock songs. Quite probably, many in the audience were not ready for this 180-degree switch, but he and his band competently performed these new songs that were charmed with intriguing vocals, grungy guitar work and complex arrangements. Graves returned to his better known boot-stomping solo performance for the last three songs before the encores. Graves may have ditched the cowboy hat and suspenders of his previous tours, but he has not totally abandoned his suitcase -- at least not yet.

Visit Shakey Graves at www.shakeygraves.com.

Setlist:
  1. Nobody’s Fool (solo)
  2. Roll the Bones (solo)
  3. Word of Mouth (solo)
  4. Pansy Waltz (Garth Nazarth Trilogy, Part 1)
  5. Dining Alone (Garth Nazarth Trilogy, Part 2)
  6. Excuses (Garth Nazarth Trilogy, Part 3)
  7. The Perfect Parts (Desert jam intro)
  8. Mansion Door
  9. Big Bad Wolf
  10. Counting Sheep
  11. Family and Genus
  12. Dearly Departed
  13. Climb on the Cross (solo)
  14. Tomorrow (solo)
  15. Late July (solo)
Encore:
  1. Foot of Your Bed
  2. Cops and Robbers

Friday, September 21, 2018

Fear at the Gramercy Theatre

Lee Ving
Lee Capallero was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his mother taught him to play her mandolin at age four. He studied guitar at age 11, and by the late 1960s, under the name Lee Ving, he joined the Sweet Stavin Chain Blues Band. Ving then moved to New York and formed the band Daybreak. In the mid-1970s, he moved to Los Angeles, California, and finally tasted national success with the seminal punk rock band Fear, which he founded in 1977. In 1981, comedian John Belushi secured Fear a gig on Saturday Night Live, during which slam dancers caused a reported $20,000 in damages. Fear disbanded in 1993, and for the next two years, Ving led a band called Lee Ving's Army in Austin, Texas. This band became the new Fear lineup in 2015. In 2018, Ving reunited with two early members of Fear, lead guitarist Philo Cramer and drummer Spit Stix, and added former AFI bassist Geoff Kresge and former Viva Hate guitarist Eric Razo. Ving has been Fear's only constant member.

Fear's current tour consists almost exclusively of performances of songs from the band's 1982 debut album, The Record, plus a handful of additional songs from the 1980s and 1990s. Although more than 35 years have passed since The Record was released, Ving and the band played the vintage songs with the same fire and abandon tonight at the Gramercy Theatre. The difference now was that the new and more professional lineup injected additional precision and clarity to the volatile songs. Thankfully, the evolution did not sacrifice any of the original urgency and explosive energy. The only liability was that with almost the entire performance pivoting on one album, the band seemed stuck in 1982. Could Fear compose new material that would have similar impact? One could not tell. For the audience, living in the present mandated a journey to the past.

Visit Fear at www.fearleeving.com.

Setlist:
  1. Fuck You Let's Rodeo
  2. Honor and Obey
  3. Let's Have a War
  4. Beef Bologna
  5. Camarillo
  6. I Don't Care About You
  7. New York's Alright If You Like Saxophones
  8. Gimme Some Action
  9. Foreign Policy
  10. We Destroy the Family
  11. I Love Livin' in the City
  12. Disconnected
  13. We Gotta Get Out of This Place (The Animals cover)
  14. Fresh Flesh
  15. Getting the Brush
  16. No More Nothing
  17. More Beer
Encore:
  1. I Believe I'll Have Another Beer

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Ian Moore at Coney Island Baby

Encouraged by his parents, Ian Moore studied the violin at age six, but he then gravitated to guitar at age 15. By the early 1990s, Moore was a teenage guitar prodigy in his hometown of Austin, Texas. Joe Ely hired him for his touring band, after which Moore started his own bands, first Ian Moore & Moment's Notice, then the Ian Moore Band. Moore quickly becoming one of Austin's largest draws, playing blues and rock originals. After issuing 10 studio albums over the past 25 years, Moore' s most recent recording is a six-song EP, Toronto, released on May 25, 2018. For the past two decades, he has been based in Seattle, Washington.

Although Ian Moore no longer lives in Texas, his set at Coney Island Baby tonight showed his southern roots. His extended guitar solos were bluesy, his singing was soulful, and he added Muddy Waters and Freddie King covers to his set of original songs. Moore was backed by an able keyboardist and rhythm section, but his singing and guitar work were at the forefront of the entire set. The guitar leads were especially impressive in that they were graceful, emotive runs rather than flashy or speedy head spinners. Periodically, as his vocals faded off, he jammed on his guitar, smoothly juggling hard riffs with sweet melodic scales. Given the proper exposure, Moore could become one of modern blues rock's musical gurus.

Visit Ian Moore at www.ianmoore.com.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Owl City at Irving Plaza

Adam Young & Matt Thiessen
Adam Young was born in Ottumwa, Iowa, but raised in Owatonna, Minnesota, where he began composing melodies in his head while loading trucks at a shipping warehouse. Suffering from insomnia, he would come home from work and record these melodies in his studio in his parents' basement and upload the finished songs to social media under the moniker Owl City. Young compiled some of his songs first for an Owl City EP in 2007 and then a debut album in 2008, both of which received some national attention. Owl City gained mainstream popularity in 2009 with the six-time platinum single "Fireflies" and the platinum album Ocean Eyes. Owl City's sixth and most recent album, Cinematic, was released on June 1, 2018.

The stage at Irving Plaza tonight was littered with a vast array of musical instruments, all of which were played by Adam Young, even on the opening song. Throughout the evening, Young moved quickly from various synthesizers to keytar to guitar to vibraphone to drums and then back to keyboards, looping some of his riffs along the way in order to build multi-layered rhythms. Though Young established early that there was hardly a need for a band, he was accompanied by two nearly invisible musicians for part of the set, and opening act Matt Thiessen (of Relient K) dueted on vocals for the encore. The set was loaded with new songs, with Young playing 10 of the 15 songs on Cinematic, plus eight songs from previous albums. Young sang in fine voice, and his shuffling between instruments was almost acrobatic, keeping the stage show vibrant. With so many musical washes happening at once, Young's sailing melodies provided the anchor for his dense arrangements. Owl CIty's good-time brand of soft synth-pop indietronica could not have been executed any better.

Visit Owl City at www.owlcitymusic.com.

Setlist:
  1. Bird with a Broken Wing
  2. Verge
  3. The Real World
  4. Firebird
  5. Cloud Nine
  6. Montana
  7. On the Wing
  8. Hello Seattle
  9. Early Birdie
  10. Fiji Water
  11. Can You Feel the Love Tonight (Elton John cover)
  12. Be Brave
  13. Fireflies
  14. Not All Heroes Wear Capes
  15. New York City
  16. Madeline Island
  17. Cave In
  18. Cinematic
Encore:
  1. All My Friends

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hippo Campus at Public Arts

Jake Luppen
The members of Hippo Campus met as students in a performing arts high school in St. Paul, Minnesota. Vocalist/guitarist Jake Luppen and bassist Zach Sutton played in a band called Blatant Youth and guitarist/vocalist Nathan Stocker and drummer Whistler Allen were in a band called Northern, and the two bands sometimes played shows together. The two guitarists started jamming together secretly during senior year and ultimately formed a new indie rock band that would be called Hippo Campus in 2013. Trumpet player DeCarlo Jackson, who attended school with the other members, performs on the band's live dates. Hippo Campus released its second full-length album, Bambi, on August 23, 2018.

Hippo Campus headlined Public Arts tonight with a set of lively pop tunes that had more spring than a trampoline. Even a song with a morbid title, "Suicide Saturday," was packed with more rebound than a bounce house. The songs featured a full wall of sound, with carefully planted anthem-like crescendos designed for crowd sing-alongs. The arrangements also allowed for unexpected bridges and breaks, including several trumpet excursions and complex chord progressions. Below the overarching waves of happiness that flavored the entire set, these young musicians (all in their early 20s) crafted a conspicuous undercurrent of interesting vocals and intriguing musicianship that made the songs far more than Top 40 fodder. Hippo Campus is bound to be added to major festival lineups next summer.

Visit Hippo Campus at www.hippocampus.band.

Setlist:
  1. Bambi
  2. Honestly
  3. Doubt
  4. Why Even Try
  5. Bubbles
  6. Anxious
  7. Golden
  8. Passenger
  9. Baseball
  10. Way It Goes
  11. South
  12. Buttercup
Encore:
  1. Violet

Monday, September 17, 2018

The MC50 at Irving Plaza

Wayne Kramer
MC5 (an acronym for Motor City Five) formed in 1964 in Lincoln Park, Michigan. In contrast to the British Invasion pop music popular at the time, the teenagers who comprised the band (originally known as the Bounty Hunters) began incorporating free jazz into their garage rock, and with time also embraced the emerging hard rock, blues rock, and psychedelic rock trends. By 1967, the MC5 was known locally for its loud and energetic back-to-basics rock and roll, its radical leftist political ties, and its anti-establishment lyrics. The band first gained national notoriety after performing at the riotous protests outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. The band gained additional national attention later that year when its debut album, Kick Out the Jams, included profanity. The MC5 was short-lived, however, and split in 1972. Decades later, reunions included various original members. This year, MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer formed a new band, MC50, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of MC5's debut album. MC50 also includes vocalist Marcus Durant (of Zen Guerrilla), guitarist Kim Thayil (of Soundgarden), bassist Billy Gould (of Faith No More), and drummer Brendan Canty (of Fugazi).

MC50's "Kick Out the Jams: The 50th Anniversary Tour" came to Irving Plaza tonight, and as promised the set consisted of the complete Kick Out the Jams album (which was only eight songs) plus a sampling from the band's less successful 1970 and 1971 albums. Despite the solid credentials of his musicians, the show seemed to be all about ringmaster Kramer. Appearing extremely happy throughout the set, the frequently smiling Kramer rocked extended lead guitar riffs that powered every song, and his flashy stage manner often dwarfed the showmanship of his vocalist. Kramer's glittering guitar work merited the attention, as it rebirthed the old songs with electrifying magnetism while the other musicians more than ably supported him and the vintage songs. The performance was far more than a revisit to a 50-year-old album; this was an opportunity for an exceptional ensemble to offer tribute to a landmark rock and roll rebellion.

Visit the MC50 at www.MC50th.com.

Setlist:
  1. Ramblin’ Rose
  2. Kick Out the Jams
  3. Come Together
  4. Motor City Is Burning
  5. Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)
  6. Borderline
  7. I Want You Right Now
  8. Starship
  9. I Can Only Give You Everything (Them cover)
  10. Sister Anne
  11. High School
  12. Shakin’ Street
  13. Future/Now
  14. Call Me Animal
  15. The American Ruse
Encore:
  1. Looking at You
  2. Let Me Try

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The The at Brooklyn Steel, Brooklyn

Matt Johnson spent much of his youth in or around his family's pub in London, England. At age 11, he was in a band, Roadstar, and at age 15 left school in order to learn his trade in a recording studio. In 1977, the teenager posted a classified ad in a local music newspaper seeking like-minded musicians to form a band with him. While trying to get his band going, in 1978 Johnson recorded a demo solo album. The The began performing live as a duo in 1979, using backing tape tracks for the drums and bass.  In 1981 Johnson became a solo artist using the group moniker. The The then became a full band in 1988, and then a duo in 2002, before Johnson went into recluse in 2003, quietly recording numerous film soundtracks. Some followers might argue that the The was always a singular entity, a nom-de-studio vehicle for Johnson. In any case, Johnson has been the The's only constant band member. The The's fifth and most recent non-soundtrack studio album released (in contrast to numerous albums that were recorded and never released) is 2000's Nakedself.

The The's first full tour in 18 years included New York shows at Brooklyn Steel and the Beacon Theatre, with a band that consisted of vocalist/guitarist Matt Johnson, lead guitarist Barrie Cadogan, keyboardist DC Collard, bassist James Eller and drummer Earl Harvin. The set comprised songs from each of the band's released albums, including "I Saw the Light" from a 1995 album of Hank Williams covers. What has changed is that the music was no longer new wave, post punk or any sort of alternative rock. The songs were performed in largely mellow and mainstream dad-rock arrangements, with Johnson's rich baritone leading the way and the band supplying the oomf to make them burnished and buoyant. Electronic, mechanical and synthesized sounds were diminished compared to earlier recordings and tours. Many of the social commentaries in the Thatcher-era lyrics remained relevant (1986’s "Heartland" included the lyrics: “Let the poor drink the milk while the rich eat the honey, let the bums count their blessings while the rich count the money"), but now the tone was more reflective than resistant. For nearly two hours the The performed a warm and classy set of songs with clever arrangements for the contemporary age.

Visit the The at www.thethe.com.

Setlist:
  1. Global Eyes
  2. Sweet Bird of Truth
  3. Flesh and Bones
  4. Heartland
  5. The Beat(en) Generation
  6. Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)
  7. We Can't Stop What's Coming
  8. Beyond Love
  9. Love Is Stronger Than Death
  10. Dogs of Lust
  11. Helpline Operator
  12. This Is the Night
  13. This Is the Day
  14. Soul Catcher
  15. Bugle Boy
  16. Slow Emotion Replay
  17. I Saw the Light (Hank Williams cover)
  18. Like a Sun Risin Thru My Garden
  19. Infected
  20. I've Been Waitin' for Tomorrow (All of My Life)
Encore:
  1. True Happiness This Way Lies
  2. Uncertain Smile
  3. Lonely Planet

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Cold Waves NY

In the summer of 2012 in Chicago, Illinois, sound engineer Jamie Duffy, a key personality in the local electronic and metal music communities, committed suicide. In need of healing and hope, 14 bands gathered for a memorial concert to say goodbye and raise money for Duffy’s family. That concert launched an annual music festival called Cold Waves. Cold Waves is now a traveling multi-day festival celebrating Chicago's relationship with industrial music and, perhaps more significantly, a fundraiser for suicide awareness and prevention charities.

The Cold Waves festival expanded in 2017 from Chicago to Los Angeles, California, and in 2018 the Cold Waves festival came to New York City for two nights at Irving Plaza (September 13 & 14) and one night at Gramercy Theater (September 15). After the three New York dates, the festival traveled to Chicago (September 21-23) and Los Angeles (September 27-29). Performers in all three cities included Meat Beat Manifesto, Frontline Assembly, ohGr (aka Skinny Puppy’s Nivek Ogre and Mark Walk), Lead into Gold, Chemlab, and others.

Over the past seven years, some of the biggest acts in industrial, darkwave, cold wave and post-punk music have performed at the Cold Wave festivals. These have included KMFDM, Godflesh, Front 242, Stabbing Westward, Fear Factory, Prong, Pop Will Eat Itself, and <PIG>. The festivals also introduced newer acts, including High Functioning Flesh, Youth Code, HIDE, and Author & Punisher.

The festivals also connected and supported nightlife workers suffering from depression, addiction, suicidal tendencies and other mental health issues. A portion of the proceeds this year benefitted Darkest before Dawn, which connects mental health resources, emotional support, counseling, and community to nightlife, restaurant and music venue staff, whose late hours and isolated commutes leave them susceptible to depression, addiction and suicide. Data supports this demographic as having little to no mental health insurance options.

Visit Cold Waves at www.coldwaves.net.
Statiqbloom
Cocksure
Chemlab
Lead into Gold
ohGr
Hellbent
Author & Punisher
C-Tec
Meat Beat Manifesto
Actors
HIDE
The Black Queen
Frontline Assembly

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Killing Joke at Irving Plaza

Geordie Walker  & Jaz Coleman
Vocalist Jeremy "Jaz" Coleman  was born in Cheltenham, England, studied piano and violin until age 17, and was a member of several cathedral choirs in England. Coleman and drummer Paul Ferguson left another band in 1978 to form post-punk band Killing Joke in Notting Hill, London. Placing a classified ad in a local music newspaper, the pair recruited guitarist Geordie Walker and bassist Martin Glover (aka Youth), and debuted as a live band in 1979. Killing Joke's recordings and tours quickly became popular in England. After 10 albums, Killing Joke split in 1996, and then reunited in 2002. Coleman and Walker have been the only constant members of the band, but since 2008 the band has consisted of all four original members. Killing Joke's 15th and most recent studio album, is 2015's Pylon.

Killing Joke's tour celebrates the band's 40th anniversary. At Irving Plaza tonight, Killing Joke included touring keyboardist Reza Uhdin. The set married old songs with selections from more recent albums, providing a panorama of the band's history rather than locking on one period. This allowed the band to showcase many its styles, from brash industrial metal to more sedate synth-pop and gothic-rock. The bulk of the show inclined heavily on the denser, aggressive ragers that kept the audience bopping to frenetic beats. Coleman bellowed, Walker played icy riffs, Glover's overly-loud bass pumped scales, Ferguson hit tribal-sounding beats, and Uhdin's electronic wash provided an undercurrent of sleekness. Just as the grooves settled into the hypnotic, Coleman would interrupt with a savage shout. Kudos for a 40-year-old band that remains provocative and continues to reinvent itself.

Visit Killing Joke at www.killingjoke.co.uk.

Setlist:
  1. Love Like Blood
  2. European Super State
  3. Autonomous Zone
  4. Eighties
  5. New Cold War
  6. Requiem
  7. Follow the Leaders
  8. Butcher
  9. Loose Cannon
  10. Labyrinth
  11. Corporate Elect
  12. Asteroid
  13. The Wait
  14. Pssyche
Encore:
  1. S.O.36
  2. Primitive
  3. The Death and Resurrection Show
  4. Wardance
  5. Pandemonium

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Dead Boys at the Bowery Electric

Jake Hout
In 1974 and 1975, a band called Frankenstein, later Rocket from the Tombs, was adapting some of the new punk rock sound in Cleveland, Ohio. The time came in 1976 for the band to try its merit in the thriving New York City punk scene. The band adopted a new name, the Dead Boys, which came from the Rocket from the Tombs song "Down In Flames," and gained a rapid following at CBGB's. The Dead Boys moved to New York, recorded two studio albums, but commercial success did not happen and the band split in 1979, reuniting occasionally in the late 1980s. In 1990, vocalist Stiv Bators (Steve Bator)  died in France from injuries sustained after having been hit by a taxi; the remaining band members reformed for a few shows in 2004 and 2005. With the band's legacy still strong in 2017, lead guitarist Cheetah Chrome (Gene O'Connor), who had been playing Dead Boys songs live as part of his own set, and drummer Johnny Blitz (John Madansky) formed a new Dead Boys for a 40th anniversary tour. The new band also includes vocalist Jake Hout, who led a Dead Boys tribute band, rhythm guitarist Jason "Ginchy" Kottwitz and bassist Ricky Rat. The new band  released Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40, a re-recording of the Dead Boys' debut album, on September 8, 2017.

The Dead Boys' performance tonight at the Bowery Electric was the third time around in about a year, and it is likely that this 40th anniversary tour may last a few more years. Played no new songs, the new Dead Boys authentically revived the spirit of the original band but with a sound that was cleaner and slicker than the original band ever was. This in itself was both a blessing and a curse: a blessing because the audience enjoyed a driving concert by a band of real musicians, and a curse because, well, these seasoned professionals understandably could not thoroughly reproduce the daring creative experimentation of the original upstarts during the first wave of the punk rock era. The band started the set with its best known song, "Sonic Reducer," and transported the audience to an earlier epoch right through to "Son of Sam." Hout even provided moments of danger when he climbed to and swung into the audience from the overhead pipes. A good time was had by all. If the first Dead Boys had performed as tightly and as polished as the 2018 lineup, perhaps the originals would have crossed over to mainstream audiences.

Setlist:
  1. Sonic Reducer
  2. All This and More
  3. What Love Is
  4. Not Anymore
  5. Ain't Nothing to Do
  6. Caught with the Meat in Your Mouth
  7. Calling on You
  8. Flame Thrower Love
  9. I Won't Look Back
  10. I Need Lunch
  11. High Tension Wire
  12. Down in Flames
Encore:
  1. Ain't It Fun
  2. Son of Sam

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Alice Cooper at the Beacon Theatre

Alice Cooper with Calico Cooper
As a child in Detroit, Michigan, Vincent Furnier dreamed of playing left field in the Detroit Tigers baseball team, but following a series of childhood illnesses, he moved with his family to Phoenix, Arizona. In 1964, 16-year-old Furnier formed a group for a local talent show. The high schoolers named themselves the Earwigs, dressed in costumes and wigs to resemble the Beatles, and performed several parodies of Beatles songs. The group won the talent show. Encouraged, the members decided to become a real band, the Spiders, and performed regularly around the Phoenix area until they relocated to Los Angeles, California. Seeking a gimmick to succeed, they chose the name Alice Cooper because it sounded wholesome, in humorous contrast to the band's horror-inspired shock rock stage show. In 1970, frustrated by Californians' indifference to the band, Alice Cooper relocated to Pontiac, Michigan, where the theatrical performances developed a Midwestern following. Alice Cooper achieved international success in 1971 with a series of hits beginning with "I'm Eighteen." The band split in 1974, however, and Furnier legally changed his name to Alice Cooper. He was now a solo act with an even bigger stage show, alongside cameo roles in movies and a recurring guest spot on television's Hollywood Squares and side identities as a golf celebrity, restaurateur, radio show host, Little League coach, and, as a running gag, presidential candidate. Among numerous notable awards, Cooper as an individual was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003, and the original Alice Cooper band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Alice Cooper's 27th and most recent studio album, Paranormal, was released on July 28, 2017.

Alice Cooper's stage show constantly evolves, yet tonight's concert at the Beacon Theatre, was yet another romp in campy horror backed with solid hard rock music. Accompanied by guitarists Ryan Roxie, Nita Strauss and Tommy Henriksen, bassist Chuck Garric, drummer Glen Sobel, and Cooper's daughter, Calico Cooper, as dancer and "evil nurse," Cooper might have found his best band ever. Cooper sang in his snarly and raspy voice his tongue-in-cheek songs about monsters and teenage angst, and the exceptional guitar team played dazzling, head-spinning leads and crunching riffs. While the guillotine, straitjacket, Frankenstein monster and other props justifiably commanded attention, the musicians were respectably show-worthy on their own. There was never a dull moment visually nor sonically. In the end, there is nothing else in rock music quite like an Alice Cooper concert.

Visit Alice Cooper at www.AliceCooper.com.

Setlist:
  1. Brutal Planet
  2. No More Mr. Nice Guy
  3. Under My Wheels
  4. Billion Dollar Babies
  5. Grim Facts
  6. Lost in America
  7. Serious
  8. Fallen in Love
  9. Woman of Mass Distraction
  10. (Guitar solo by Nita Strauss)
  11. Poison
  12. Halo of Flies (with drum solo by Glen Sobel)
  13. Feed My Frankenstein
  14. Cold Ethyl
  15. Only Women Bleed
  16. Paranoiac Personality
  17. Ballad of Dwight Fry
  18. Killer (partial)
  19. I Love the Dead (band vocals only)
  20. I'm Eighteen
Encore:
  1. School's Out (interspersed with a snippet of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2"; Mike Myers joined near the end of song)