Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Gwar at Irving Plaza

Gwar formed in 1984 from a collective of musicians, artists and filmmakers known as Slave Pit Inc. in Richmond, Virginia. The band members, however, would have you believe that they are descendents of a race of barbaric interplanetary warriors from outer space sent to conquer Earth in prehistoric times. Gwar now stands against humans, who are seen as a parasitical disease that must be eradicated before they suck the planet dry. Gwar also plays heavy metal music and presents a stage show with elaborate stage designs and monsters who slime their audience repeatedly with various colored fluids. No original members remain in Gwar; the current lineup consists of lead vocalist Michael Bishop (as Blothar the Berserker), guitarists Brent Purgason (as Pustulus Maximus) and Mike Derks (as Balsac the Jaws of Death), bassist Jamison Land (as Beefcake the Mighty), drummer Brad Roberts (as Jizmak Da Gusha), and backing vocalists Matt Maguire (as Sawborg Destructo), Bob Gorman (as Bonesnapper) and Don Drakulich (as Sleazy P. Martini). Gwar released its 14th and most recent album, The Blood of Gods, on October 20, 2017.

In recent years, Gwar has been performing annual Halloween concerts at Irving Plaza, with the band's outrageous and  grotesque costumes outshining all of the costumes at the massive Halloween Day Parade four blocks away. There was a storyline to follow as the concert progressed, but many in the audience were more invested in moshing or getting slimed by the Gwar characters who shot copious mystery liquids into the audience. Even at the end of the first song, two characters were decapitated and sprayed gallons of fake blood into the audience, with far more to come as the show progressed. Blazing metal music screeched and wailed, as more over-the-top costumed characters simulated violence and bloodshed. Half of the set revolved around the most recent album, so much of the show was similar to last year's spectacle. True to reputation, the Gwar concert was the ultimate integration of extreme music, adult comedy and shocking visuals, and the Gwar audience wanted it no other way.

Visit Gwar at

  1. War on GWAR
  2. Womb with a View
  3. I'll Be Your Monster
  4. Death to Dickie Duncan
  5. Saddam a Go-Go
  6. Crushed by the Cross
  7. Viking Death Machine
  8. Immortal Corrupter
  9. El Presidente
  10. Maggots
  11. The Sordid Soliloquy of Sawborg Destructo
  12. Love Surgery (Instrumental)
  13. Beat You to Death
  14. Fuck This Place
  1. Phantom Limb
  2. Sexecutioner
  3. Sick of You

Monday, October 29, 2018

Steely Dan at the Beacon Theatre

Michael McDonald reunites with Steely Dan
In 1967, while in college in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, Don Fagan passed by a café and heard Walter Becker practicing on electric guitar. They met and, discovering that they enjoyed similar music, soon began composing songs together on the piano in the common room of Becker’s dormitory. Becker and Fagen performed together locally in the Don Fagen Jazz Trio, the Bad Rock Group and the Leather Canary, playing cover songs and original compositions. Fagen graduated in 1969, and the two moved to Brooklyn hoping to launch a songwriting career. They wound up joining the touring band of Jay and the Americans for about a year and a half. In 1971, the duo relocated to Los Angeles, California, where they worked as staff songwriters for a record company, and after realizing that their songs were too complex for other artists, Becker and Fagen in 1972 formed a band that would become Steely Dan. Steely Dan initially had a few hit singles, then retired from live performances in 1974 and became a successful studio project until splitting in 1981. Since reuniting in New York City in 1993, Steely Dan has toured steadily and released two albums of new material. The band has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Becker died from complications of esophageal cancer in 2017, leaving Fagen as Steely Dan's sole official member. In an ironic reverse twist, Steely Dan now tours almost annually but seldom records; the band's ninth and most recent studio album is 2003's Everything Must Go.

Steely Dan's nine-night residency at the Beacon Theatre this year once again saw the band play several of its albums in their entirety. Donald Fagen added a new member to the band in guitarist Connor Kennedy, whom Fagen initially recruited for his Nightflyers band in 2017. Fagan also hired guitarist Jon Herington, keyboardist Jim Beard, bassist Freddie Washington, drummer Keith Carlock, a four-piece horn section and three backup vocalists. On this night, the eighth performance in the series, the set reprised Fagan's debut solo album, 1982's The Nightfly, for the first set, and then mined Steely Dan's 1970s catalog in the second set. Fagan started the first set center stage playing a melodica, framed by blaring horn arrangements and background vocals. Performed by such a large band, the music was thick and slick, presenting vintage songs in slightly newer arrangements and allowing room for many of the musicians to shine. By the end of the set, the 13-piece band was joined by former Steely Dan member Michael McDonald and Jimmy Vivino. Blending elements of pop, jazz, and rhythm & blues, Fagan and company presented a full, dynamic and sophisticated evening of soft Dad-rock.

Visit Steely Dan at

Set 1: The Nightfly
  1. I.G.Y. (Donald Fagen song)
  2. Green Flower Street (Donald Fagen song)
  3. Ruby Baby (The Drifters cover)
  4. Maxine (Donald Fagen song)
  5. New Frontier (Donald Fagen song)
  6. The Nightfly (Donald Fagen song)
  7. The Goodbye Look (Donald Fagen song)
  8. Walk Between Raindrops (Donald Fagen song)
Set 2:
  1. Hallelujah Time
  2. Bodhisattva
  3. Hey Nineteen
  4. Time Out of Mind
  5. Dirty Work
  6. Black Cow
  7. Keep That Same Old Feeling (The Crusaders cover)
  8. My Old School (with Michael McDonald)
  9. Peg (with Michael McDonald)
  1. Reelin' in the Years (with Jimmy Vivino)
  2. Pretzel Logic (with Jimmy Vivino)
  3. A Man Ain't Supposed to Cry (Joe Williams cover)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Monster Magnet at the Gramercy Theatre

Dave Wyndorf
Based out of Redbank, New Jersey, Dave Wyndorf first entered the rock world in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the lead singer of Shrapnel, a punk band that routinely worked the New York/New Jersey club circuit. When Shrapnel disbanded, Wyndorf learned to play guitar and began assembling a band with fellow New Jersey musicians. The band first adopted the names Dog of Mystery, Airport 75, Triple Bad Acid and King Fuzz before finally settling on Monster Magnet, taken from the name of a 1960s toy which Wyndorf enjoyed as a child. Monster Magnet's stoner rock was largely ignored in the late 1980s and early 1990s until the band hit with its fourth album, 1998's Powertrip, but soon afterwards the band was playing in medium-sized clubs again. Vocalist/guitarist Wyndorf is the only remaining original member; the band also presently consists of guitarists Garrett Sweeny and Phil Caivano, bassist Chris Kosnik, and drummer Bob Pantella. Monster Magnet released its 10th studio album, Mindfucker, on March 23, 2018.

Although Monster Magnet is based locally, its concerts are infrequent, so tonight's headlining gig at the Gramercy Theatre was a homecoming event. The band's muscular retro-rock sound drew from classic hard rock and space rock for a sludge metal set. The band dwelled in a muddy groove in "Dopes to Infinity" and "Look to Your Orb for the Warning," visited outer space with "Negasonic Teenage Warhead," and accelerated speed with "Twin Earth." Often recalling primal 1970s Detroit rock, the hammering set was driven by Wyndorf's unpolished vocals and the guitar team's fuzzy leads and crunching, heavy-bottomed riffs. Unapologetically, Monster Magnet's performance was purely rock for rock's sake.

Visit Monster Magnet at

Friday, October 26, 2018

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Nick Cave
Born and raised in rural Victoria, Australia, Nick Cave in 1970 moved with his family to a Melbourne suburb, where in 1973 he and several schoolmates founded a cover band with Cave as singer. In 1977, after leaving school, the band adopted the name The Boys Next Door, began playing original material, and became among the leaders of Melbourne's post-punk scene. The band changed its name to The Birthday Party in 1980 and relocated to London, England, then in 1982 to West Berlin, Germany, before splitting in 1983. Cave then formed Nick Cave and the Caveman, which in 1984 became Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The Bad Seeds presently consists of  violinist/multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis, guitarist George Vjestica, keyboardist Toby Dammit, bassist Martyn P. Casey, drummer Thomas Wydler, and percussionist Jim Sclavunos. The band's 16th and most recent studio album is 2016's Skeleton Tree; a live EP, Distant Sky – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Live In Copenhagen, was released on September 28, 2018. Cave now resides in Los Angeles, California.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' debut tour of North American arenas consisted of only four dates, including tonight's performance at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. If this was a test run to see if he could graduate from theaters to arenas, Cave and company passed the test easily. For two and half hours, the dark poet with lyrical obsessions with death, religion, love and violence crooned his sometimes droll but always passionate baritone into mystery and intrigue, as his band ably enhanced his shouts and whispers. Cave periodically sat at a piano, but more often he was pacing along a narrow platform along the edge of the audience; during "The Weeping Song," he even sang from a comparably low and small platform in the audience. His bond with the audience similarly was displayed when late in the set he invited dozens of fans onto the stage, and during the encores when he improvised a set change to perform an audience request for "The Mercy Seat." This reviewer respectfully offers a couple of suggestions as Cave transitions from cult following to the mainstream. Firstly, balance playing not only to the disciples in front but equally to the fans at a distance. Secondly, modulate the pace of the set; tonight's set consisted of almost all slow songs, and arena audiences often come to rock.

Visit Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at

  1. Jesus Alone
  2. Magneto
  3. Higgs Boson Blues
  4. Do You Love Me?
  5. From Her to Eternity
  6. Loverman
  7. Red Right Hand
  8. The Ship Song
  9. Into My Arms
  10. Shoot Me Down
  11. Girl in Amber
  12. Tupelo
  13. Jubilee Street
  14. The Weeping Song
  15. Stagger Lee
  16. Push the Sky Away
  1. City of Refuge
  2. The Mercy Seat
  3. Rings of Saturn

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Coffin Daggers at Otto's Shrunken Head

Viktor Venom
Victor Dominicis, better known by his stage name, Viktor Venom, in the late 1980s was a member of two New York City hardcore punk bands. He was the bassist for Reagan Youth and more notably the guitarist in Nausea. Leaving behind Nausea's fusion of anarcho-punk and thrash metal in 1992, Venom reappeared on the scene in 1999 playing psychedelic surf music with the Coffin Daggers. The Coffin Daggers' third and most recent studio album is 2016's Aggravatin’ Rhythms. The quartet presently consists of Venom and keyboardist Rob Morrison, bassist Peter Klarnet, and drummer Alex Rochinski.

The Coffin Daggers' set tonight at Otto's Shrunken Head was nearly as intense as Venom's earlier work as a punk rocker. Venom's rich, reverb-soaked guitar work was complemented by Morrison's rolling organ rolls and supported by a fast and furious garage rock rhythm section. The music was harder and heavier than the average surf rock band, with Venom occasionally investing in enough deep distortion to rival a grunge band. Otherwise the music was clean and sparkling, yet darker than most instrumental rock music. The Coffin Daggers' performance was a new hybrid we might call hardcore surf.

Visit the Coffin Daggers at

Stabbing Westward at the Gramercy Theatre

Christopher Hall
Christopher Hall at age five played the trumpet and later studied classical music in college, with the goal of becoming a trumpet player in the Chicago Symphony and teaching in a university. In 1986, while attending college in Macomb, Illinois, Hall and Walter Flakus formed industrial rock band Stabbing Westward. They moved to Chicago, Illinois, and released an EP in 1992, followed by four studio albums from 1994 to 2001. In 1996, the band achieved its first certified gold album. In 1988, the band relocated to Los Angeles, California, but then disbanded in 2002. Hall formed the Los Angeles-based band the Dreaming in 2001, recording three albums. Flakus, who had become a Chicago radio personality, joined the Dreaming in 2015. Hall and Flakus reformed Stabbing Westward in 2016 to celebrate the band's 30th anniversary, and the band has continued to perform. Stabbing Westward currently consists of vocalist Hall, keyboardist/guitarist Flakus, returning lead guitarist Marcus Eliopulos, and two newer members, bassist Carlton Bost and drummer Bobby Amaro.

Stabbing Westward's 2018 tour celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of the band's second gold album, Darkest Days, with the band performing the 12 songs in sequence followed by an encore of songs from other albums. At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, Stabbing Westward faithfully reproduced a turn-of-the-century sound that was nursed at the experimental prime of alternative rock, alternative metal, post-punk and emo movements. Amid incessantly flashing lights and a video backdrop, songs frequently featured climbing vocal intensities and crashing cymbals as softer verses escalated into rallying choruses. Hall sang well and engaged the fans, several times coming off the stage to stand at the barricades, within touching distance of the audience. The performance revived 20-year-old songs and pleased the old fans. Stabbing Westward has been on reunion tours for two years; hopefully soon the band will move forward with new songs.

Darkest Days:
  1. Darkest Days
  2. Everything I Touch
  3. Drugstore
  4. Save Yourself
  5. Haunting Me
  6. Torn Apart
  7. Sometimes It Hurts
  8. Drowning
  9. Desperate Now
  10. The Thing I Hate
  11. On Your Way Down
  12. Waking Up Beside You
  1. Nothing
  2. So Far Away
  3. Violent Mood Swings
  4. What Do I Have to Do?
  5. Shame

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Damned at Irving Plaza

Captain Sensible & Dave Vanian
Dave Vanian (David Lett) and Captain Sensible (Raymond Burns) left Masters of the Backside to form the Damned in 1976 in London, England. Shortly thereafter, the Damned debuted at the 100 Club supporting the Sex Pistols. The Damned became the first punk rock band from the United Kingdom to release a single, release an album, and tour the United States. A few years later, the Damned also became one of the first gothic rock bands, noted for Vanian's vampire-themed wardrobe, chalk-white makeup, baritone crooning, dark lyrics and spooky theatricality. The band split and reformed many times, with Vanian as the only constant member, although several other members, including Sensible, left and returned. The Damned presently consists of vocalist Vanian, guitarist Sensible, keyboardist Monty Oxymoron, bassist Paul Gray, and drummer Andy "Pinch" Pinching. Evil Spirits, the band's 11th album and first in 10 years, was released on April 13, 2018.

Fittingly, the Damned's concerts in New York City regularly fall just before Halloween. The goth-punk quintet stormed into Irving Plaza tonight with a fast-moving retrospective of four decades of material. The band performed three songs from the new album, with most of the set consisting of other songs originally recorded from 1977 to 1985. Vanian sang in fine voice, Sensible played rapid, stinging guitar leads while leaping around the stage, and Oxymoron thickened the sound with layers of keyboard rolls. Vanian and Sensible in particular demonstrated a playful camaraderie with each other and with the audience between songs, with Sensible frequently offering quick light-hearted banter with the fans. The high-energy set was palpitating for those in the audience who could keep up, and a locomotive blur for those attention wandered. The Damned played with the vigor and vitality that most younger bands could never achieve.

Visit the Damned at

  1. Nasty
  2. Born to Kill
  3. Democracy?
  4. Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow
  5. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  6. Wait for the Blackout
  7. Lively Arts
  8. Silly Kids Games
  9. Devil in Disguise
  10. Stranger on the Town
  11. The History of the World (Part 1)
  12. We’re So Nice
  13. Eloise (Paul Ryan cover)
  14. Love Song
  15. 1 of the 2
  16. New Rose
  17. Neat Neat Neat
  1. Curtain Call
  2. Ignite
Encore 2:
  1. Street of Dreams
  2. Smash It Up

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Collapsing Scenery at the Pyramid Club

Reggie Debris
Since the early 2000s, New York-based Don Devore has played in many underground bands, including punk rockers the Icarus Line, indie guitar band the Lilys, rockers Amazing Baby, theatrical band Ink & Dagger, and electronic group Historics; he is also a curator for Brooklyn arts space Trans Pecos. Austin native and Los Angeles resident Reggie Debris doubles as Mickey Madden, bassist for Maroon 5. Devore and Debris grew up on hardcore punk music.  They met in Los Angeles but reconnected in London while each was touring. The two musicians started a new band, Collapsing Scenery, with a goal of playing electronic music without a computer, sonically driven by analog electronics and political lyrics. In 2013, De Vore and Debris established Collapsing Scenery when they collaborated on a video installation in New York City. This led to a month of music and visual programming called Rebuild Babylon, which then evolved into a travelling residency series. Collapsing Scenery finalized its mission performing in warehouses and basements, periodically recording songs that they matched with avant garde videos.

Collapsing Scenery returned to the Pyramid Club tonight and Debris as vocalist and Devore as multi-instrumentalist, along with drummer Chris Colley, created abrasive, thick, experimental music that thrashed and crashed to a danceable rhythm. Rough-hewn, noisy and unfiltered soundscapes pulsed through vintage machinery on amplifiers normally reserved for guitars, as pounding beats propelled strangely melodic and haunting vocals that charged forth aggressively. Industrial, techno, hip hop, dub and hardcore punk melted into the big, loud and stirring wall of sound. The result was invigorating music that will enthrall and mesmerize the gothic, darkwave and industrial underground.

Visit Collapsing Scenery at

Matthew Perryman Jones at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2

Originally from Pennsylvania, Matthew Perryman Jones grew up in Georgia and began his career as a singer-songwriter in 1997, playing his first public performances in Decatur, Georgia. He penetrated the Atlanta music scene until 1999, when he relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. His debut album in 2000 was rooted in folk and Americana, and later albums inclined a bit towards pop. He released his sixth and most recent album, The Waking Hours, on September 21, 2018.

From the very first song tonight at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2, Matthew Perryman Jones appeared to be both a thoughtful singer songwriter and a seeker. The opening song, "Happy," questioned why a person who seems to acquire all the essentials still senses a lack of fulfillment. Rather than dwell exclusively on emptiness, his cover of Tom Waits' "Take It with Me" later embraced whole-hearted living. The letters of Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo, and the writings of philosophical poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Sufi mystic poets Rumi and Hafiz inspired other songs. Soft and gentle, yet piercing with drama, Jones' rich and vulnerable vocals embodied the mystery of his lyrics as his three-piece band provided subtle accompaniment. Jones' performance was a spirited exploration of the wonder of life set to music and lyrics.

Visit Matthew Perryman Jones at

Monday, October 15, 2018

Public Image Ltd at Brooklyn Steel, Brooklyn

John Lydon
Following the breakup of the Sex Pistols in 1978, vocalist John Lydon chose to move his music in a radically different direction and formed an experimental dub/rock band in London, England. Lydon named the band Public Image after the novel The Public Image; the "Ltd" was added several months later. Public Image Ltd (often abbreviated as PiL) generated immediate interest despite many personnel changes (Lydon remained the only constant member) through eight albums until the band split in 1992. In 2009, Lydon assembled a revamped lineup to continue the legacy of Public Image Ltd. Since then, PiL has consisted of Lydon, guitarist Lu Edmonds, bassist Scott Firth, and drummer Bruce Smith; they are the longest stable line-up in the band's history. PiL's 10th and most recent studio album is 2015's What the World Needs Now.... On July 20, 2018, PiL released The Public Image Is Rotten (Songs From The Heart), a box set consisting of five cds and two dvds with B-sides, rarities, radio sessions, live concerts, 12" mixes and promo videos. A documentary film, The Public Image Is Rotten, opened in theaters on September 14, 2018.

PiL celebrates its 40th anniversary with the current tour, and the retrospective concert at Brooklyn Steel tonight featured at least one song from every PiL album, including even "Open Up," Lydon’s rather obscure 1993 collaboration with Leftfield. Lydon, wearing a raincoat throughout the set, snarled, muttered and yelped lyrics in a manner almost like slam poetry. Edmonds reverbed and distorted guitar leads as Firth and Smith thumped hard, thick grooves. Without escalating chords, tones or crescendos, the rhythm section immersed itself into simple and repetitious dub reggae bass lines and drum patterns for lengthy periods, creating a deeply hypnotic effect. Throughout the 90-minute performance, however, Lydon was the centerpiece, although at times he was the least interesting contributor on the stage.

Visit Public Image Ltd at

  1. Deeper Water
  2. Memories
  3. The Body
  4. Disappointed
  5. Warrior
  6. The One
  7. Corporate
  8. Death Disco
  9. Cruel
  10. I'm Not Satisfied
  11. Flowers of Romance
  12. This Is Not A Love Song
  13. Rise
  1. Public Image
  2. Open Up (Leftfield cover)
  3. Shoom

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Brickbats at the Red Party at Mercury Lounge

Vocalist/guitarist Corey Gorey, bassist Paul Morden and drummer D.W. Friend formed the Brickbats in 1995 in New York City and brought their Halloween-themed stage show to area clubs. After three albums, Morden relocated to California in 2000, and the three musicians joined other bands, putting the Brickbats on hiatus. In 2016, Gorey and Friend reunited and recorded a new album, Return of the Living Brickbats. The Brickbats now consists of Gorey, Friend, and bassist Gregjaw, with whom they had worked in a band called the Brides during the Brickbats' hiatus.

The monthly Red Party at Mercury Lounge majors in underground gothic, darkwave and post-punk music, but it was not a far stretch for the Brickbats to headline there. The three musicians came on stage and performed the opening song wearing large jack-o-lanterns over their heads. The song concluded and they removed the pumpkins to show their faces covered in corpse paint. The band's raw music rocked, bathed in reverb, fuzz and distortion, marrying garage, punk, psychobilly and even surf rock. Some of the songs had horror themes, all with tongue firmly in cheek. The Brickbats' live set was fun that would entertain long after the Halloween parties end.

Visit the Brickbats at

Nine Inch Nails at Radio City Music Hall

Trent Reznor was born and raised in western Pennsylvania, where he began playing the piano at age 12. In high school in the early 1980s, he learned to play the tenor saxophone and tuba, and was a member of both the jazz and marching band. After school, he sang and played keyboards in the new wave band Option 30. Pursuing a career in music, Reznor moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he joined a cover band called the Urge, then joined the Innocent in 1985, and Exotic Birds in 1986. He worked as assistant engineer and janitor in a recording studio, where he recorded demos of his own songs during unused studio time. Unable to find musicians that could articulate the music as he desired, Reznor played all the instruments except drums and called the project Nine Inch Nails. Over the years, Nine Inch Nails achieved record sales exceeding 20 million copies worldwide. Although he has used other musicians in the studio and on stage, Reznor was the only constant member of the band until 2016, when he recruited keyboardist/synthesizer player Atticus Ross as a permanent member. Nine Inch Nails' ninth studio album, Bad Witch, was released on June 22, 2018.

Nine Inch Nails brought its "Cold and Black and Infinite North America 2018 Tour" to Radio City Music Hall for two nights. Reznor and Ross were joined by multi-instrumentalist Robin Finck, keyboardist Alessandro Cortini , and drummer Ilan Rubin. The band came on stage loaded with ripping energy, slowed down for a few atmospheric tunes, and then returned with more wild frenzy. Amidst dense fog and flashing lights, Reznor sang and shouted with fury, frequently shifting from whispers to screams, while the band played coarse and cutting riffs behind him. The set included somewhat re-envisioned workings of better known songs, including "Wish", "March of the Pigs", "The Hand That Feeds", "Head Like a Hole," and "Hurt," plus new songs, deep cuts and surprising covers of David Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans" and Joy Division's "Digital." Many songs, built on tension and release, impacted like an explosive series of volcanic eruptions. Noise, distortion, and dissonance propelled with chromatic melodies added to the crushing intensity of the sonic assault. This was the summit of what industrial rock could be.

Visit Nine Inch Nails at

  1. Mr. Self Destruct
  2. Wish
  3. Less Than
  4. March of the Pigs
  5. The Lovers
  6. This Isn't the Place
  7. Reptile
  8. The Perfect Drug
  9. Shit Mirror
  10. Ahead of Ourselves
  11. God Break Down the Door
  12. Copy of A
  13. Gave Up
  14. I'm Afraid of Americans (David Bowie cover)
  15. Digital (Joy Division cover)
  16. The Hand That Feeds
  17. Head Like a Hole
  1. All the Love in the World
  2. Over and Out
  3. Hurt

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Black Lillies at the Loft at City Winery

Cruz Contreras
After three albums, Cruz Contreras and Robin Ella Bailey divorced and dissolved their band, Robinella & the CCstringband. As part of his healing process, Contreras gathered a few musicians in Knoxville, Tennessee and wrote, arranged and recorded songs in his living room. He released these songs as the debut Black Lillies album in 2009, receiving immediate accolades from the Americana community. Since then, the Black Lillies annually has been ranked as the "Best Americana Band" in the Metro Pulse "Best of Knoxville" poll. In 2010, the band was the first artist selected and announced to participate in the new Americana Music Association's Festival & Conference. In 2011, the Black Lillies became the first independent artist from the Knoxville area to be featured on the Grand Ole Opry, and made history again by being invited back multiple times; the band has appeared on the show more than 35 times, a record for an independent act. The Black Lillies lineup presently consists of Contreras on lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, and mandolin, with guitarist/vocalist Dustin Schaefer (formerly of Mickey & the Motorcars), bassist Sam Quinn (formerly of the Everybodyfields), and drummer Bowman Townsend. The Black Lillies' fifth and most recent album, Stranger to Me, was released on September 28, 2018.

Following another foundational change in personnel, the Black Lillies juggled its old sound with a new sound tonight at the Loft at City Winery. The band still favored country rock, but with the former six-member unit now reduced to four members, the catalog forfeited the earlier male-female vocal interplay. Contreras led most of the singing with the band members assisting with lush and layered  three-part harmonies. Contreras' pensive and articulate lyrics largely hinged on hope and growth, giving the set an upbeat dynamic. With so many country bands leaning heavily on crossover pop and rock these days, the Black Lillies pleasantly performed a set that positioned country melodies at the forefront.

Visit the Black Lillies at

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Beacon Theatre

Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks met in 1999 when she was the opening act for the Allman Brothers Band, in which Trucks was a guitarist. Tedeschi and Trucks married in 2001 and began performing together regularly as Soul Stew Revival in 2007. In 2010, Tedeschi and Trucks announced a hiatus for their individual bands and formed a new group called the Tedeschi Trucks Band, based in Jacksonville. The band's debut album won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. The band's most recent album is Live from the Fox Oakland, released on March 17, 2017.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band's eighth annual Beacon Theatre run again consisted of six concerts over nine nights. On the third night, the 12-member band played a slower and softer set than usual, consistently loaded with jams and reinterpreted cover songs. Tedeschi led most of the vocals, and her bluesy, gutsy singing embodied the very soul of her songs. Trucks' bluesy guitar leads were the standout of the performance, Tedeschi's guitar work was knock-out impressive, and spotlighted contributions from the keyboardist and the horn section made the songs definitively a collaborative band effort. This united front was founded on roots music, hooked on vintage sounds and arrangements, and reinvigorated for a timeless delivery.

Visit the Tedeschi Trucks Band at

  1. Anyday (Derek and the Dominos cover)
  2. Don't Know What It Means (>) The Letter (The Box Tops cover)
  3. In Every Heart
  4. Sailing On (Toots & the Maytals cover)
  5. Key to the Highway (Charles Segar cover)
  6. Lord Protect My Child (Bob Dylan cover)
  7. Still Your Mind
  8. Drum solo (>) Let Me Get By
  9. High & Mighty
  10. Show Me (Joe Tex cover)
  11. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (Bob Dylan cover)
  12. Shame
  13. I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free (Billy Taylor cover)
  1. How Blue Can You Get? (Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers cover)
  2. Had to Cry Today (Blind Faith cover, with bass & drums jam)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Jorma Kaukonen at City Winery

During his childhood in Washington, DC., Jorma Kaukonen and his family also lived in Pakistan, the Philippines and other locales following his father's career in the State Department. The young Kaukonen was devoted to rock-and-roll in late 1950s and early 1960s, but soon afterwards developed a love for the blues and bluegrass. He learned to play roots music on guitar and with his guitarist friend, Jack Casady, formed a band called The Triumphs. Kaukonen then learned to play fingerstyle on his guitar in the style of Reverend Gary Davis. Kaukonen relocated to New York City, then traveled overseas, settling in 1962 in San Francisco, California, where he performed in coffeehouses until he joined the new band Jefferson Airplane in 1965. When the band's original bass player was fired, Kaukonen recommended his friend, who still lived in Washington D.C., and Jack Casady joined Jefferson Airplane. In 1969, Kaukonen and Casady formed a side band, Hot Tuna, which outlasted Jefferson Airplane's demise in 1972. He also led a hard rock band called Vital Parts from 1979 to 1982. All along the way, Kaukonen also performed solo, and began recording solo albums in 1974. His 12th and most recent solo album, Ain't in No Hurry, was released in 2015.

At City Winery tonight, Jorma Kaukonen played acoustic guitar like few can. Accompanying himself only with six strings for two full sets, he finger picked his axe like the old-time blues players prior to the age of electric rock and roll. On every song, most of which were cover songs at least a half century old, he played lick after impressive lick, not in an attempt to discover something new but to explore more deeply something vintage and classic. Hardly looking up, seated on a chair for the entire performance, there was no flash or posturing, just a collection of the best obscure roots songs and some mighty fine guitar picking. To appreciate the great young guitar players of today, one might investigate the road going back to the origin, and there is not better study of old times blues than watching Jorma Kaukonen song and play acoustic guitar.

Visit Jorma Kaukonen at

Set 1:
  1. True Religion (Hot Tuna song)
  2. Been So Long (Hot Tuna song)
  3. Hesitation Blues ([traditional] cover)
  4. Wolves and Lambs
  5. River of Time
  6. Barbeque King (Vital Parts song)
  7. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here (Reverend Gary Davis cover)
  8. How Long Blues (Leroy Carr cover)
  9. Another Man Done a Full Go Round (Roy Book Binder cover)
  10. Sea Child (Hot Tuna song)
  11. Watch the North Wind Rise (Hot Tuna song)
  12. Winin' Boy Blues (Jelly Roll Morton cover)
  13. Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning (Blind Willie Johnson cover)
Set 2:
  1. Ain't in No Hurry
  2. San Francisco Bay Blues (Jesse Fuller cover)
  3. Come Back Baby (Walter Davis cover)
  4. Serpent of Dreams (Hot Tuna song)
  5. In My Dreams
  6. Oh Lord, Search My Heart (Reverend Gary Davis cover)
  7. Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out (Jimmy Cox cover)
  8. Sleep Song (Hot Tuna song)
  9. Trial by Fire (Jefferson Airplane song)
  10. Good Shepherd (Jefferson Airplane song)
  11. Trouble in Mind (Richard M. Jones cover)
  12. Water Song (Hot Tuna song)
  13. I Know You Rider ([traditional] cover)
  14. Genesis (Jorma Kaukonen with Tom Hobson song)

Mondo.NYC 2018

Mondo.NYC, the music industry conference created by CMJ Music Marathon founders Bobby Haber and Joanne Abbot Green, returned to New York City for its third annual series on October 2-5, 2018. Far deeper industry oriented than its predecessor (CMJ catered more to band representatives and DIY-businesses), Mondo.NYC retained a heavy focus on tech-related panels and demonstrations, much like the similar Northside Festival in June.

This year, Mondo.NYC conference relocated its headquarters from the Lower East Side to Williamsburg, and consequently added more venues in Brooklyn. Mondo.NYC presented more than 150 technologists, investors, artists, and industry leaders from many countries. During daylight hours, participants attended panel discussions on a myriad of topics, many focused on the projected effect on the music industry of blockchain, cryptocurrency and other new technologies and economies. In the evenings, participants attended live performances by international emerging artists at Arlene’s Grocery, Berlin, Bowery Electric, Brooklyn Bowl, Coco 66, Coney Island Baby, the Delancey, DROM, Hank’s Saloon, Niagara, NORD, Pianos, Rough Trade, the Well, the White Eagle Hall in New Jersey, and even the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The performing artists included Our Lady Peace (Canada), the Darbies (USA), iskwe' (Canada), Jae Luna (USA), DJ Shub (Canada), Rosie Crow (UK), Kingswood (Australia), Ivan & the Parazol (Hungary), the Last Moan (Switzerland), Crosa Rosa (UK), FRANKiiE (Canada), the Immigrants (Hungary), Lord Esperanza (France), Castle Black (USA), Oak and Ash (USA), Queen Esther (USA), Girl Skin (USA) and many more.

Mondo.NYC has announced its next conference for October 15-18, 2019. Ticket sales and band submissions will open in November 2018.
Daytime conferences at the Williamsburg Hotel Ballroom
Phat A$tronaut (Connecticut) at Pianos
John Jacob Magestry (Canada) at Arlene's Grocery
Elinda (Sweden) at Pianos Upstairs Lounge
Crosa Rosa (England) at Pianos
Goolis (New York) at Arlene's Grocery
New Myths (New York) at the Delancey
Rench (New York) at Arlene's Grocery
Greg Farley (New York) at the Bowery Electric
The Artisanals (South Carolina) at the Bowery Electric
The Late Bloomers (New York) at Pianos

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Aligns at the Map Room at the Bowery Electric

Vocalist/guitarist Jacques Barbot formed Aligns in 2010 from a studio project he began in 2009 as part of his sound engineering studies. In order to perform his music live, Barbot recruited bassist Soshi Uchida and drummer Mark Bell. The band, based in Brooklyn, New York, played local rock clubs and at Union Square. Uchida returned home to Japan in 2014, and the trio became a duo.  Forging forward, Aligns was among the winners of Afropunk's "Battle of the Bands" in 2015. Aligns' fifth and most recent album, Brooklyn, was released on April 29, 2017.

Performing at the Map Room at the Bowery Electric tonight, Aligns was more than simply vocals, guitar and drums. Aligns performed raw, aggressive music that sourced metal, classic rock, grunge, shoe gaze, funk and more. Barbot erupted with wild energy, raucously playing dirty riffs and gritty leads replete with fuzz, reverb and other effects, and to his right Bell pounded relentlessly, viciously and explosively. Together, they locked into muddy grooves that were abrasive yet magnetic. This music may never make it to the mainstream, but there is quite likely a larger audience eager to embrace this innovative duo.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Willie Nile at City Winery

Willie Nile (born Robert Noonan in Buffalo, NY) came from a musical family -- his grandfather led a local orchestra and was a vaudeville pianist, his uncles played boogie woogie, and two older brothers played piano. The youth learned to play the piano at age eight and took classical music lessons until he was a teenager, when he wrote his first rock and roll song. While in college, he wrote poetry and started to take guitar playing seriously, and during the summers he frequented New York City's hootenanny clubs. After college, Nile took an apartment in Greenwich Village in order to immerse himself in New York City's singer-songwriter circuit, but he also gravitated to the emerging punk rock scene on the east side of town. Inspired by both folk and rock streams, his early albums yielded comparisons to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Nile's career soon was abruptly curtailed when contractual complications prevented him from releasing new music for the next nine years. Nile's recordings have become more frequent in recent years, and he released his 12th studio album, Children of Paradise, on July 27, 2018.

Willie Nile is confident about the value of his new album. In a daring move, he started his set at City Winery tonight by performing all 12 tracks, then followed with seven older songs and three covers. Indeed, the risk paid off. Backed by lead guitarist Matt Hogan, bassist Johnny Pisano, and drummer Jon Webber, Nile performed a blistering set that was perhaps his finest New York gig in several years. The new lyrics struggled with a complicated new world: some of the lyrics clearly rattled with unrest, others were more obtuse, but they fueled with a raging fire and guts deluxe. The older songs drew out the essence of Nile's New York-based character, and the Velvet Underground and Ramones covers at the end accentuated that dynamic. Throughout, the band played a muscular and energetic backing, driving the rocking songs to their summit. Willie, come back and do it again.

Visit Willie Nile at

  1. Seeds of a Revolution
  2. All Dressed Up and No Place to Go
  3. Don't
  4. Earth Blues
  5. Children of Paradise
  6. Gettin' Ugly Out There
  7. I Defy
  8. Have I Ever Told You
  9. Secret Weapon
  10. Lookin' for Someone
  11. Rock N' Roll Sister
  12. All God’s Children
  13. Forever Wild
  14. This Is Our Time
  15. Heaven Help the Lonely
  16. House of a Thousand Guitars
  17. Magdalena
  18. Sweet Jane (The Velvet Underground cover)
  19. One Guitar
  20. You Gotta Be a Buddha (In a Place Like This)
  21. I Wanna Be Sedated (The Ramones cover)
  22. Sheena Is a Punk Rocker (The Ramones cover)

Monday, October 1, 2018

Tom Morello at le Poisson Rouge

Born in New York City and raised in Libertyville, Illinois, a 13-year-old Tom Morello sang in his first band, a Led Zeppelin cover band, and purchased his first guitar. Around 1984, Morello started studying the guitar seriously and formed a band called the Electric Sheep, featuring future Tool guitarist Adam Jones on bass. After high school, Morello moved to Los Angeles, California, where he worked as a stripper named Tom "Meat Swinger" Morello, and played in a band called Lock Up. In 1991, Morello met vocalist Zack de la Rocha, and the two founded Rage against the Machine. In 2000, after four albums, de la Rocha quit the band. The remaining members formed Audioslave with then-former Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell and released three albums. Rage against the Machine reunited in 2007 and 2011. In the meantime, Morello developed his solo folk project, the Nightwatchman, and briefly led a hip-hop collaboration called the Street Sweeper Social Club. Most recently, he formed Prophets of Rage in 2016 with members of Rage against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill. Morello released a solo album, The Atlas Underground, on October 12, 2018.

Perhaps many anticipated a concert when Tom Morello brought The Atlas Underground Experience to le Poisson Rouge tonight. Instead, Morello promoted his forthcoming album with a nearly three-hour program that had no band and very little live music. The evening began with an animated and eloquent Morello passionately sharing his journey chronologically in an interview setting with the help of vintage photographs and demonstrations of how he developed his riffs. Afterwards, Morello introduced the audience to the first-ever listening of his new album, as he introduced each song with commentary on its origin. Finally, Morello strapped on a guitar to play three songs. The night ended with much of the audience on stage with him, providing the vocals as he shred on Rage against the Machine's "Killing In The Name." Morello fashioned a career introspective into a unique and immersive experience, a personalized, inside look at one of rock's most exciting rock guitarists. The presentation was thoroughly interesting and engaging, leading the listeners to crave more deeply a full concert by Morello.

Visit Tom Morello at

Guitar demonstrations during the interview
  1. The Garden of Gethsemane
  2. Like a Stone (Audioslave song)
  3. Mr. Crowley Jam (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
  1. The Ghost of Tom Joad (Bruce Springsteen cover)
  2. This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie cover)
  3. Killing in the Name (Rage against the Machine song)