Latest Live Posts

Photos: Arctic Monkeys and Deerhunter, February 8, 2014, Madison Square Garden – New York, NY

By Evan Kaloudis; February 10, 2014 at 6:24 PM 

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Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

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Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys

Live Review and Photos: Deap Vally, Arctic Monkeys, October 7, 2013, Track 29 – Chattanooga, TN

By Joshua Pickard; October 21, 2013 at 9:00 AM 
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All photos by Amy Fletcher

There were far more people than I expected pressed up against the stage when I walked into Track 29 in Chattanooga, TN two Monday’s past.  I checked my watch to make sure that I wasn’t late, but it was still about an hour before opener Deap Vally was set to take the stage.  Arctic Monkeys after all, right?  I shimmied my way as close to the stage as possible and tried to drown out the steady roar of crowd noise by talking with my brother.  Apart from a few furtive glances at my watch, we spent most of our time watching the people around us shifting in their ever-narrowing personal space and listening to discussions of Humbug vs. Favourite Worst Nightmare. (note: nobody made a really great argument – but everyone knows that FWN is the better record).

But eventually the lights dimmed and a roar of applause and screams were hurled at the stage.  Now I wasn’t that familiar with Deap Vally beyond a few cursory mentions that I had seen in various music publications, but I don’t think I was expecting what happened over the next 30 (or so) minutes.  The stage was set very simply – a mic and guitar set at the front of the stage and a drum kit to the right of it.  Singer/guitarist Lindsay Troy and drummer Julie Edwards strolled out on stage and took their places – and probably a dozen or more guys in the audience hit puberty simultaneously.  Both women were rather provocatively dressed (i.e. neither wore much clothing) and exuded a feral sexuality that seems to crawl off the stage into the audience.  And without much introduction, the duo leapt into their set.

Troy’s blistering guitar solos and Edwards’ pummeling, breakneck drumming meshed perfectly together, and the audience did their best to press closer to the stage.  With a voice that shook the roof of the venue, Troy belted out songs of love, loss, and the dreaded “walk of shame” – all against thudding bass drums, hammering toms, and searing guitar riffs.  But this kind of stripped down rock can all too easily come across as affected or reek of creative artifice but nothing about their set felt false.  Tapping into some wellspring of raw, inclusive emotion (not the least of which was more than forthcoming from the audience), the duo showed exactly what a guitar, a set of drums, and a howling voice could do.  It was loud, sweaty, sexy, and soaked in hot southern nights – I’d like to see The Black Keys pull that off.

But for many in attendance, Deep Vally’s raucous and lively set was just an unexpected bonus to what they had really come out for, that being The Arctic Monkeys – which is a shame really, given how remarkable their brief set turned out to be. I would imagine more than one person was inspired to head by the merch table after their performance to pick up a copy of their debut record, Sistrionix; I should know because I had the same thought. But after a sometimes sludgy, sometimes vicious, collection of songs and some banter about hairstyles, the band bowed out and left an excited crowd even more amped for the main act. There was a palpable current of energy running through the crowd at this point, thanks is no small part to Deep Vally.

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When The Arctic Moneys did finally take the stage, it was to a deafening roar of applause and soon-to-be-hoarse voices shrieking in unison. Strobe lights were flashing behind them, smoke was being pumped onto the stage, and the band was silhouetted in a hazy blue light. And if you had any doubts about singer Alex Turner being a certified rock star, then over the course of the next 100 minutes (or so) you had those doubts completely dispelled. He preened and posed and made you believe that the days of singers like Jagger and Bowie never really ended.

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The band opened with AM-cut “Do You Wanna?,” and its churning guitars, thudding percussion, and howled lyrics poured out from the stage to the audience and back again, leaving echoes of ringing melodies circling the ears of every person there.  And while a good chunk of the evening was spent covering the territory from their latest record, they didn’t forget to revisit everyone of their older releases.  “Dancing Shoes” and “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” — pulled from their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not — were immediately recognized and sent the crowd into a frenzy of howls and clapping.  The songs sounded even better here than on the record, and you really could feel the bass and percussion driven backbone rattling your rib cage.

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They chose to play five tracks from Favorite Worst Nightmare: “Brainstorm,” “Teddy Picker,” “Flourescent Adolescent,” “Old Yellow Bricks,” and “Do Me A Favour.”  And for a record that’s now over 6 years old, they sounded just as vibrant, frenetic, and throbbing as the day that album was released.  The stage setup itself was fairly simple, with Turner out front and the band slightly back and to the side — but this wasn’t a case of the frontman setting himself apart from the band.  He ran back and forth across the stage and played side-by-side with the other Monkeys, and everything just seemed to work perfectly.  They drew a tracks from Humbug, with Crying Lightning” and “Cornerstone” being particular highlights.  And while Suck It And See wasn’t represented to any large degree, “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” was still a roaring mix of pounding drums, elastic bass, and Turner’s fierce vocals.

AM was definitely the bulk of the night though, with the band playing 8 of the album’s 12 tracks.  They slashed through the guitar squall of tracks like “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” and “R U Mine?,” with the audience singing along to every word.  And even though they’ve been playing far larger venues and arenas on their current tour, it was refreshing to see them give it their all in a smaller setting.  They didn’t hold anything back, and everyone in attendance knew that the building was barely able to contain the music being thrown off the stage.  Turner was far more personable with the audience than I had expected — though that expectation was based on practically nothing but conjecture on my part — and of course, he didn’t forget to work in Chattanooga’s name in a song, which obviously threw fans into an even wildly frenzy.

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This was arena rock squeezed into an 1800 capacity room.  Walls reverberated with thick basslines and hammering percussion.  Voices were exhausted and muscles were tired.  But the music never stopped, and as we all walked out of Track 29, the last lingering notes of “R U Mine?” kept us company on the leisurely stroll back to our cars and on the ride home.  My ears were ringing and continued to be so for quite some time, but it was worth it.  Arctic Monkeys had played for each of us, and nothing would change that.

In Photos: Arctic Monkeys, September 16, 2013, Webster Hall – New York, NY

By Evan Kaloudis; September 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM 

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Festival Review: Hopscotch Festival 2013, Day 2 – Raleigh, NC

By Staff; September 16, 2013 at 7:42 PM 

Hopscotch 2013

Read our Day 1 coverage here.


Gross Ghost


All photos by Evan Kaloudis unless otherwise stated

The City Plaza stage on Friday began with a double dash of local artists, both of whom are slowly on the rise. Carrboro’s Gross Ghost took the main stage, probably their largest gig yet, with extreme confidence. The band is set to release their second album to follow up last year’s Brer Rabbit, and many of the newer songs made their way to the downtown stage. They blended seamlessly with the band’s older material, and singer Mike Dillon’s voice sounded better than ever. I’m more than sure they won over a few fans that day. Next up was Future Islands, a band originally from North Carolina, but now finding themselves living in Baltimore. Regardless, the Triangle continues to call them one of our own, and their triumphant set on the main stage proved this. The crowd ate up singer Sam Herring’s every movement, as he proved himself to be one of the more underrated frontmen in the game. The band has garnered a widespread praise for their live show, which they themselves claim is their strong suit. But if their new songs were any indication, we may be in for a treat. –Ryan Nichols


Future Islands


Future Islands photos by Ryan Nichols


Thurston Moore x Merzbow: THURZBOW

Leaving the big theatrics of the City Plaza stage, we made our way to the close confines of Kings’ Barcade, where we were aware a very, very special set was about to happen. Announced softly by the festival as “Merzbow with Super Secret Special Friends,” many people made their way to Kings right around 7:30. The secret was out the minute that Thurston Moore walked up the main stairway at Kings, rather than the side employee one (he had to know what he was doing), immediately silencing everyone waiting for the doors to open at 8. At approximately 7:58, crashing drums and extremely loud washes of guitar began to flood from behind the door at the top of the stairs. Within moments, the doors opened and extreme noise burst out, and as we were let in, we were able to see Merzbow, Thurston Moore, and John Moloney freely jamming cohesively as a three piece. Despite any expectations, the piece was much different than we expected (lots of drone), instead, the three created a driving, rocking piece of music that likely shattered any eardrums not protected. Moore flailed across the stage in his trademark style, busting out his old feedback and file-on-guitar tricks, and Merzbow somehow just created noise with his table of instruments. Moloney held it down, throwing in fills and beats that fit no matter what the other two were playing. A really special, and solid piece of Hopscotch magic. –Nichols

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Festival Review: Hopscotch Festival 2013, Day 1 – Raleigh, NC

By Staff; September 9, 2013 at 6:44 PM 

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Nathan Bowles


All photos by Evan Kaloudis

As the crowds streamed into the wonderfully intimate Fletcher Opera Theatre, the seats quickly began to fill up and many were left standing. The wonder of Hopscotch was welcomed early, as Blacksburg, VA’s Nathan Bowles took the theatre and turned it into his living room, keeping us on our toes during his beautiful set, showcasing his absolute prowess of the banjo. He told jokes, commented on his prominent spot kicking off the festival, and in all, just made all of us feel welcome in town, Raleigh locals or those who came from afar. –Ryan Nichols


The Kingsbury Manx

We briefly broke in for Kingsbury Manx’s set in Hopscotch’s biggest room, the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, just to poke around and feel out the band’s sound on the big stage. They took full advantage, bringing their elegant songs to the heights of the chandeliers in the room. When people ask me what “North Carolina music” sounds like, I’ll typically point them in the direction of the Manx or the Rosebuds (who played the same stage later that evening, but we unfortunately missed). The group’s sounds fit the rolling hills of the Piedmont more than they do the coast or the mountains, but were a wonderful fit right in between the mountains (Nathan Bowles) and the (admittedly dark) coast of Grouper. –Nichols


Angel Olsen

We returned back to the more relaxed atmosphere of the Fletcher Opera Theatre for the elegant folk styling of singer-songwriter Angel Olsen. The St. Louis raised, Chicago-based guitarist has quite a unique voice that can be quite ghostly at times but is simultaneously warm and inviting — resonating from her throat and accentuating the emotional content of her songs. Despite the deep content of her songs she broke the tension with the audience to ask where she should eat while she was in the south and eventually had us laughing at the notion of finding a good burrito. Later in the set after a song about a failed relationship Olsen stopped to try and reassure us of her emotion state stating that the last tune was “just a song” but after a little hesitation she diffidently stated, “It didn’t use to be just a song.” For Olsen, the knife may be out of her back but the scars remain. –Evan Kaloudis


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Festival Review: Discorporate 2013 – Starworld

By Stephen Henderson; July 8, 2013 at 11:22 PM 

Discorporate Festival, June 7&8 2013

Being at Discorporate

The word discoporate literally means, as those familiar with Zappa’s We’re Only in it for the Money will know, ‘to leave one’s body’. However, to the unfamiliar audience, the word, the base of which is ‘corporate’, has a totally different meaning. The ‘dis-‘ acts as a negation à la ‘disinterested’ or ‘disemboweled’, and thus one associates the word with the antithesis of the almost mechanistic music world. With great pleasure I can say that the wonderful pun pans out in the world of which language is merely an approximation. The Discorporate Festival was a fully sublimative experience, probably somewhat akin to being a Buddha protesting on Wall Street while on copious amounts of drugs. My goal with this review is not to make any true attempts at describing the sounds, but only to hopefully pique some interest. More so than almost anything I have ever encountered, Discorporate Festival was not something worth an attempt at description. It was far beyond the sum of its parts, and oozed a warmth of static embracing energy.

The totality of Discorporate Fest was mind warping. The entire building had been given the perfect DIY makeover, with grass roots art coating the walls, the perfect lighting, and a general ambience that one has given up expecting from venues. There was not an inch of space that was not in one way or another entertaining. The lawn in front had a free-for-all picnic atmosphere, and one entered the actual playing space (which was fitted with various papier-mâché deep sea animals) to what is close to the perfect crowd atmosphere: ready to dance, ready to talk, ready to enjoy in any way possible. Everyone there was ready for a huge spectrum of music, which the festival delivered all on one stage. Everything from comedy-pop of Freeze Puppy, the disco of Ptterns, the brutal tech-noise of Staer, to the indescribable sounds of ZA! SchnAAk and Guardian Alien. Each band had a distinctive set up, which the crew was able to get functional well before one would expect, which was almost downright astonishing.

I would be completely satisfied saying that every band kicked ass in their own right, and that the environment was more than one would have expected, even given the incredible combination. The three bands of whom I have interviews were, biased or not, my favorites, and I will give a quick synopsis of what it was like to see them. I find the interviews themselves more interesting than anything I could say about the experience, which simply must be experienced.

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The first of the three to play was Guardian Alien, who dredged forth from the pits of technicolor chaos the usual unreproducible bath of sound. The recent loss of one of their musicians had changed their sound, but definitely not for the worse. The new texture relied more on the thick web of loops coming out of the pedal board, which immersed the listener in a high-octane audible soup. Greg, as usual, played out of his skin, with his usual look of meditative concentration. Alex’s vocals cut through the Technicolor din with shimmering clarity of thought and sound. The chaos was perfectly balanced, overwhelming, and beautiful. In fact, it would seem that the recent loss drove the band to summon forth a greater degree of intensity.

Previously when I have seen Guardian Alien, there is almost a sense of a Zen, as the river of sound contracts and expands in on itself, weaving unidentifiable layers over itself, a chord of ether in constant flux held together loosely, more than by anything else ,by the sheer conception of a band. Here, there was more of aggression in their attack on the instruments, a clear and deliberate compensation for new space, and I believe the pressure to fill the space brought forth a carnal sense (simply take a look at those faces). For a crowd that was looking to dance, they were not so well received as more approachable acts, but definitively found their home amongst other acts, and naturally as a unfathomably individual act, intended for the headier appreciation. That is not to say there wasn’t the same energy in the crowd that thundered from the stage (the law of diffusion, thankfully, held true), but simply that the various Euro-style club meisters (yes, there were a couple present) were not quite sure what to do with themselves. We of the enlightened convulsed with the torrent and were so freed.

SchnAAk is almost untouchable in terms of showmanship. Between the perfect execution of their material, which is in itself beyond commendable (just listen to it), they have established the perfect balance between nonchalance, humour, and self-laudation. High energy ferocity characterized everything they played, and the interpretive dance that interposed a couple of the songs (which was not so animalistic as elegant, but in a Groucho Marx style). Mathias’ guitar tone gut pummeled right into my gut, and I would speak about the awe of watching Josen play the drums, but I don’t think I was ever able to focus for a long enough time to digest it (not that anyone could). SchnAAk has recently incorporated the perfect arsenal of tone color and texture, and these sounds become both rawer and more refined when heard live. They are bouquet of living breathing mechanical cosmic god flowers, glowing hot aurora borealis in perfectly orchestrated insanity. My only complaint about SchnAAk was volume. I wished to exist as nothing other than a being engulfed in SchnAAk, which would have required some sort of mystical crossing brought on by split ear drums and a distended bowels (yes, I have heard sound vibrations can achieve this result), but I suppose it is good I continued on in existence to hear them again.

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What is key to SchnAAk, particularly live, is an understanding of the masterpiece of pure artistry combined with a distinct sense of accessibility. Where Guardian Alien did not cater to the understanding of dance that the crowd came with, SchnAAk may as well have bestowed it upon them. However, the music is, self evidently, highly technical, ripe with fruits for the most devoted music geek. However, taking I believe a leaf from the mainstream metal acts following in the wake of Meshuggah, the underlying groove never is completely lost. To a listener with some familiarity, seeing SchnAAk, hearing them perfectly execute the sounds you had assumed to be the work of a production wizard, is nothing short of Sublimation. For new listeners (an opinion I had to get by talking to others), SchnAAk quickly asserted itself as a monster, the aural grip of which is inescapable.

It is possible that ZA! Has more fun on stage than any group I, at least, have encountered. The best analogy for understanding ZA! is in physics. When particles are bonded, they are at their lowest energy state. When they are separated, their kinetic energy sky rockets. So, there are many points in ZA!’s music when there is space between sound (they are only two people and there is only so much tasteful looping can do) but these seems to make them more intense, and more interesting. Everything from ZA! was lighthearted and engrossing, incredible danceable despite its unpredictable changes, and with more fire at its ass than any band I’ve seen.

Pau and Edu lose, from what I could tell, a sense of ego upon entering the stage. They become conductors of circuit, a circuit that is not fully connected. That is to say, perhaps 1000 volts are moving through a wire, but one part of the wire is broken, yet the electrons simply jump over the gap to reach back into themselves. ZA! has a sense of spontaneity, a sense of the impossible. The music should really not being able to come forth, it feels like they are so unaware of themselves they would be no way for them to connect. Yet they do, and it sparks. They ooze machismo, but in almost a self mocking way. They are playing music to have fun, to try new things for themselves and for others. They are the ultimate party in and of themselves. Even knowing consciously that the notes I was hearing were correct, there still remained a feeling of seeing something that had not yet occurred on earth, but maybe was cascading through a rip in some plane of existence, from a place where cross faded electrodes of flourescent rainbows collide in ecstacy to the rhythms of mumbo and schizophrenic merengue.

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There is something particularly futile about trying to talk about this festival. A lot of shows come and go, but very few become something bigger. Discorporate, and the bands that played, created an experience, a community, and interaction, a reality, that just didn’t exist in any quantifiable or describable way. There will be one next year, if there is any sort of order and goodness in the universe. Tickets to Germany aren’t that expensive. Enter the Starworld, where people are still excited to be alive, and unafraid to engage with it. Discoporate is, for me, characterized be the dedication to the music, with intense thought to the experience. The final hours of the festival consisted of a jam session including all the musicians who felt like the should get involved (thus, involving two drumkits). Discorporate Festival takes itself seriously, but as an alternative. This ends up entailing a different idea of what serious is, and I personally comfortable believing that some of the most interesting, progressive, familial music is happening.

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Festival Review: Boston Calling

By Lucien Flores; June 1, 2013 at 10:36 AM 

Boston has an underappreciated music scene. The city might not match the sprawling metropolis of New York City but few places can. Boston is home to my personal favorite venue, the 933-capacity Paradise Rock Club. The more corporate Bank of America Pavilion and House of Blues host larger bands and the smaller Brighton Music Hall, T.T. The Bear’s Place, Middle East, and others host emerging talent. Then there’s the whole hush-hush Allston DIY scene that I can’t even manage.

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Last weekend, Boston finally had a music festival of its own. Boston Calling jumped onto the festival circuit with a formidable line-up that was co-curated by The National’s Aaron Dessner. Despite Saturday’s cold rain and Sunday’s unseasonably cool air, the inaugural festival was a unquestionable hit.

Everything went smoothly as bands traded off sets between the two stages. The organizers did almost everything right: re-entry allowed people to take a much needed break from the elements (I can attest that after hours in the rain, the warmth of a fast-food joint named Cheeseboy trumped seeing Marina & The Diamonds). Furthermore, festival-goers were allowed to bring food into the festival, allowing for prime time snackage when you were too afraid to give up your spot in the crowd.

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The only complaints I had were that it was hard to see the acts on the smaller second stage and that shuffling back and forth between the two stages sometimes seemed impossible. Otherwise, organizers did a great job — some of the nicest staff and security guards I’ve encountered and free rain ponchos all around.

 The Bands:

It’s easy for bands to blend together at a festival when you’re constantly bombarded with music for about eight hours. The review highlights the few bands that really brought it to Boston Calling and the few that were caught on a bad day.

The National – Sunday

The National

It’s ironic: the band known best for their  intricate, reflective, and self-conscious music is actually a kickass live band. Lead singer Matt Berninger was certainly feeling screamy on Sunday, belting lyrics to rockers such as “Squalor Victoria,” “Abel,” and the new show-stopper, “Graceless.”

And for a band known for brooding, end-of-the-night numbers, the set was filled with rockers. Of course, “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” “Apartment Story,” and “Sea of Love” were loud, but even the tamer “Fake Empire” and “Conversation 16” sounded heavier than normal with all of Boston crooning along.

On “Mr. November,” the liquor fueled Berninger found himself in the crowd, singing along with the masses. At the end of the song, the singer seemed trapped in the crowd before the audience and security teamed up and propelled him back to stage.

While the rockers were the highlight, the band’s many delicate numbers still sounded fantastic: “About Today” rose from haunting to cathartic perfection and the Trouble Will Fine Me opener “I Should Live In Salt” was a brilliant choice to kick off the encore.

One of the more badass moments came during the band’s quietest song of the night, “I Need My Girl.” Bryce Dessner holds a second guitar and bangs it on the ground to create a sense of foreboding that felt so right in the night sky. The Dessner brothers traded guitars and switched off on piano duties—they maintained a captivating stage presence throughout the night.

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Portugal. The Man – Saturday

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Just last year, I was worried that this band might be on the decline. They had been one of my favorites since the release of their brilliant 2008 album Censored Colors but they changed drummers and keyboardists and their live sets seemed to focus less on the jamming and song combinations that always enthralled me. I was wrong to worry.

After a year with the new line-up, the band sounds as good as they’ve ever been. New keyboardist Kyle O’Quin brings a fresh sound (and a half-dozen impressive keyboards) that adds life to new songs, such as “Modern Jesus” and “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.”

Playing the sprawling “Sleep Forever” into “Hey Jude” is genius. Getting thousands to share in the singing of one of McCartney’s most anthemic songs will certainly make people like you. Definitely one of the festival’s high points.

Despite my fondness for their earlier tracks, Portugal is killing it live these days with a setlist that favorites their new material.  Yes, they’re a veteran act—a month away from their seventh album in eight years—but they’re still bound for a breakthrough. They have Danger Mouse, Atlantic Records, and a killer live set to ensure this.

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fun. – Saturday

Honestly, I’m just not into fun. Sure, I can have a good time but “Some Nights” irks me in unexplainable ways. Seriously though, it’s that nauseating intro.

At Boston Calling, the band seemed genuinely excited and touched to be there. Lead singer Nate Ruess claimed it was their largest show ever and that it was his favorite. He never dreamed of playing such a large crowd and it humbled him.

A seemingly-impromptu cover of “Me and Julio Down by The Schoolyard” was highly entertaining and the crowd ate up the cover of The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

More than the music, it was Ruess and the band’s excitement that made it hard to dislike them. Yes, I still can’t stand “Some Nights” and won’t likely reach for any of their LPs but, for a night, I realized just how catchy “We Are Young” is.

fun. was also the only band I saw that made any reference to the Marathon Bombings that devastated the city just over a month ago. Ruess applauded how quickly the hub recovered and could put on a festival as great as this. His support of the city’s recovery efforts obviously produced a loud cheer.

Of Monsters and Men – Sunday

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Of Monsters and Men played an enjoyable and festival friendly set. Their perfectly placed “heys!” got the audience singing along and throwing beach balls around—the biggest of the beach balls made me feel as if I were in danger whenever it landed nearby.

The Icelandic band’s indie-pop drew the youngest audience of the night. Most festival-goers that rushed to the front of the crowd weren’t even in high school yet—and dashed before before The National took to the stage.

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The Shins – Saturday

The Shins had the misfortune of taking the stage around the most miserable time of day: the temperature was dropping, the rain was restarting and fatigue was settling in. Even so, the eerie vibe of “New Slang” was perfect for the cold night. “Simple Song,” and “Caring Is Creepy” were also fantastic, as was the 60-year-old man rocking out for the entire set.

Dirty Projectors – Sunday

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The closer I got to the stage, the more I dug the dissonant, off-kilter, james of this band. It took some time to warm up to but I was grooving to the piercing guitars and strange harmonies. “Gun Has No Trigger” was spooky and fantastic.

Youth Lagoon – Sunday

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Trevor Powers’ keyboard and live instrumentation lead the way in this early-afternoon set. The only weak spot was Powers’ voice which sounded more nasal and grating than on the record where he sounds wonderfully nervous and juvenile. There were a few times when his voice became cringe-worthy, however, the other elements saved the set.

Other Acts:

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St. Lucia and MS MR are quality electronic pop acts. MS MR was the more memorable of the two bands thanks to charismatic lead singer Lizzy Plapinger whose powerful voice reminded me of Florence Welch. They pulled a fantastic move when they covered LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yourself Clean.” It didn’t hit as hard as the original (their version was more subdued) but it was still a quality dance groove that got audience digging their set.

Bad Rabbits and Caspian were the festival’s local openers, playing on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The former are a high-energy funk band while the latter are a quiet, instrumental, and guitar-heavy group. Both were solid but the audience ate up Bad Rabbits and energetic lead singer Fredua Boakye who kept saying how much he loved the city. On the other hand, Caspian might have been better received under the guise night.

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Disappointments:

Cults:

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Cults was off their game. I’ve seen them before at the intimate Paradise Rock Club and was pleasantly surprised but they couldn’t pull it off at much larger Boston Calling. Guitarist Brian Oblivion said it was their first show in six months so I’m willing to give them another chance. The band sounded better towards the end of the set and the more they distanced themselves from simply playing the music as it sounds on the LP, the stronger they sounded.

The Walkmen:

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While the indie-rock veterans delivered a solid set, it was mostly unmemorable when compared to the other acts at Boston Calling. Yes, “The Rat” was great but nothing else really stuck with me.

Best Cameo:

Boston’s ailing mayor Thomas Menino took stage before The Shins set to largd cheers. He briefly talked of his initial skepticism about the festival and how pleases he was with how it turned out. The next day, The National’s Aaron Dessner revealed the second Boston Calling festival to raucous applause.

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Boston Calling returns in September with Vampire Weekend, Passion Pit, Kendrick Lamar, and Local Natives headlining.

 

Live Review and Photos: Born Ruffians, April 16, 2013, Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY

By Nick Milanes; May 2, 2013 at 10:00 AM 

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Born Ruffians celebrated the release of their third LP, Birth Marks, with a lively, sold out show at the Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday. Longtime fans made a point of showing up as soon as the doors opened, and I was fortunate enough to snag the last open space up front – right next to a group of especially drunk young women. Their enthusiasm throughout the opening acts, Ski Lodge and Moon King, grated on me at first. But it was early in Born Ruffiansʼ set that I realized that there are too few bands in existence whose fans know every single word to every single song, and will sing along till their throats give out. Born Ruffians are such a band.

“Iʼve been to eight of their shows. Theyʼre such great guys. They deserve it so
much,” a tall fan in a black hoodie said to me before their set–and I couldnʼt be sure, because of the height difference, but I think there might have been tears in his eyes. Itʼs through this kind of earnestness that Born Ruffians have earned their following. Straightforward, honest songs like “What to Say” are all the more disarming live; adolescent awkwardness never sounded quite so danceable. It was hard not to follow Luke Lalondeʼs example, watching him skitter across the stage during particularly energetic solos, almost as though he were channeling Duckieʼs Otis Redding dance, while Mitch Derosier worked up the sweat of a thousand men and encouraged us to clap along and do the same.

I wonʼt dance around the point, here. I gave in. Born Ruffians are cute. In fact, theyʼre not just cute–theyʼre fucking precious. Derosierʼs just so goddamn hammy. Lalondeʼs just so goddamn quiet. The banter, measured out in perfectly small doses – Christ, there are so many bands out there who are awful at banter. Born Ruffians are not such a band. Their faster songs are just so goddamn giddy!

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The decision to fill the set with older favorites seemed to be a concession to the fans who have watched them grow over the years–those fans who, like birth marks, have stuck with them from the beginning. Set against newer, soberer tracks like “Needles,” the earlier, more raucous tracks like “I Need a Life” evoked the finitude of childhood.

The crowd sang along to just about every song on the setlist–but the first song of the encore, “Little Garcon,” stuck out in particular: “I donʼt care where you go, / As long as itʼs with me.” Wherever Born Ruffiansʼ career takes them next, their fans are sure to follow.

Live Review and Photos: The Haxan Cloak, April 18th, 2013, Birthdays – London

By Rob Hakimian; April 22, 2013 at 10:00 AM 

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The Haxan Cloak’s music is made to be listened to in isolation. Not just by yourself, but with as few distractions from the music as possible. In this day and age that’s almost impossible; even if you are lying on your bed, headphones turned up, there’s bound to be some kind of distraction – your phone, a picture on the wall, or even just a nagging feeling coming from another part of your brain. The Haxan Cloak’s live show is, therefore, the most ideal way to ingest his dark and ethereal sounds; Bobby Krlic’s stage presence and show is amongst the most muted you will ever see, but the few elements that he does use to enhance his music entirely engulf you in the dark spirit he’s exorcising. On stage he stands off to the side, looking down at his various tools and rarely elsewhere, moving his head slowly in time with the subtly changing flow and rhythms. Projected beside him are a series of grayscale videos on short loops, and there is no light on him at all; the only light used in the performance is a blinding white strobe light fired straight into the eyes of the audience sometimes randomly and at other times in rapid bursts. In this way, not only is everything you hear pure Haxan Cloak, but so is everything you see and feel.

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Krlic started the performance with an ominous rumble of pitch black droning so thick and dark that it felt like it would stick to the walls and slide down as slow as molasses, shifting and changing hue slightly as it does so. Soon, clipped vocal samples, bass pulses and slightly echoing woodblock clicks were added expertly to create soundscapes familiar to all those in the audience who have taken the journey through his latest album Excavation. I mention the audience, but for the majority of the performance I forgot that I was even in one; the depth of the sound rumbled my body to its core, rooting me to the spot, as I could only stare transfixed at the sinister videos and Krlic’s stoic presence, and each click and scrape came through so loud and clear that it sounded like it was rattling off the inside of my skull. The confrontational strobe light was blinding to the point where for a couple of seconds after it stopped flashing I could stare straight at the spot where I knew Krlic had previously been standing but all I could see was blackness, as if the man had faded into his music. As Krlic orchestrated the final growling lull before building up into the concluding “The Mirroring (Part 2)” the light went bananas, flashing maniacally for an extended period of time, forcing me to close my eyes, where I was only to be greeted by a nauseating kaleidoscope of colours on the inside of my eyelids, reinforcing that there is no escape from The Haxan Cloak when you’re in his presence.

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The clip used at both the beginning and end of the performance was a repeated entry into an uninhabited bedroom, closing in on the bed, before restarting from outside the room and repeating. Coupled with The Haxan Cloak’s music this felt as though I had become a nightmare and was creeping into the bed of an unsuspecting soul, ready to terrify them when they laid their head down to sleep. Such was the transfixing and transformative power of The Haxan Cloak’s performance. Krlic said nothing at any point during his performance; he walked on, played a solid near-hour of nerve shredding, bone-jangling sounds, and left without a look back. Much like a nightmare, he snuck up on us, engaged all our senses, and left us again, leaving us with a tangible and unique feeling in our loins, without any real knowledge of how or why he had done so.

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Live Review and Photos: Vondelpark, April 4, 2013, Bush Hall – London

By Rob Hakimian; April 9, 2013 at 12:29 PM 

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Earlier in the week tonight’s headliners Vondelpark released their debut album, Seabed and tonight’s performance was a celebration of that fact, evidenced by the free stickers given out at the merch stand, the large display of the album’s cover projected on the back of the stage, and how important the event clearly was to the group. Being the only real band on their label R&S (who are typically known for dance music), they perhaps felt like they had something to prove in their live show, and their determination to do so made the night a success.

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Another act looking to make an impression on the evening was the opener, fellow Londoner East India Youth. A solo project of William Doyle, he came to the stage and armed himself with a bass guitar and planted himself in front of a table full of music making implements. His performance was just as intriguing as his setup hinted, with Doyle never fully stopping between songs, rather moving through different moments. The songs ranged from straightforward indie with electronic inflections, through ambient sound passages and ended up with a full on dance beat that had at least small sections of the crowd bouncing along. It’s difficult to pigeonhole East India Youth, and that’s quite something for an artist still very early into his journey.

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This being Vondelpark’s first gig in London for a long time they wanted to get the atmosphere in Bush Hall to levels of excitement that equaled their own, and handily dispatched lead single and Seabed’s most catchy and upbeat tune “California Analogue Dream” as their opener, which started to pick up the momentum from where East India Youth left off. The band alternated between the more serene songs and picking up the pace when they needed to by delving back into their older EPs’ material or using a reworked version of “Bananas (On My Biceps)” with a more kicking beat to get the crowd dancing.

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The sounds of Seabed are very precise and well produced, so bringing them to life in a live setting is a tricky business that Vondelpark are managing by augmenting to a foursome in their live show and doing a lot of instrument swapping or simultaneous playing. The full force of songs like “Closer” and “Quest” may not have been present, but the band still managed to bring the spirit and feel of the songs to the audience not only through their playing but largely through Lewis Rainsbury’s impassioned vocal delivery.

Vondelpark are a young band that has shown a terrific amount of progress in their sound on record. Their live sound is already good and if they can take the same steps in fleshing it out as they have done on record then it won’t be long before they’re consistently selling out dates on their own headline tours.

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