After Christmas I squeezed in one final show before the year rolled into 2017: Kurt Vile at Terminal 5. The performance served as a warm up for a pair of year-ending shows, including a New Years Eve hometown show in Philadelphia.

The gigs were a victory lap of sorts for his 2015 album B’lieve I’m Goin Down… (released via Matador Records). He and his band, The Violators, ran through a 15-song set of songs from the new album, as well as other older cuts. It was a very chill and relaxed show, a well needed way to close out the whirlwind and pretty tiring year that was 2016.

Find Kurt Vile’s setlist posted below, along with photos of his set, as well as the equally excellent Woods, who opened the show.

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When I woke up on December 21, I had no plans. That all changed in an instant with the late-afternoon announcement out of the blue that Coldplay’s Chris Martin would play a last minute special performance at Mercury Lounge. The show served as a benefit to the homeless shelter, Bowery Mission and was put together in the matter of hours, after a visit from Martin at the Mission turned spiraled into a last minute show in order to raise some Christmas funds for the charity.

For just $25, Martin delivered a loose but delightful performance that was a mix of Coldplay favorites, Christmas classics, and a variety of covers that Martin performed with two members of the Bowery Mission. Martin jokingly asked for all of our names, noting that it was so rare that he was able to perform so close to his fans. The intimacy of this evening wasn’t lost on me, in what was truly one of the most enjoyable show experiences that I had throughout the year. Where else could you witness Martin cover Drake’s “Hotline Bling” after he mistakingly heard a fans offer for a “drink” as a request for “Drake?”

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With the release of their expansive new album 22, A Million, Bon Iver brought the album to life this year, including a gigantic 9-show run in New York. After playing shows at Pioneer Works, Hammerstein Ballroom. The Capitol Theatre and Kings Theatre, on December 14, Justin Vernon and Bon Iver gave New Yorkers the most intimate experience yet at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Bon Iver is at the point where they could conceivably play somewhere like Madison Square Garden. The stage setup for this tour was apparently well suited for all the big rooms and theatres that they took over during their NYC residency, but if it’s possible Music Hall of Williamsburg was almost too small for them. They were able to use their projections, but the effect wasn’t quite the same.

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Sad13 is the pop-minded side-project of Speedy Ortiz frontwoman Sadie Dupuis. In November she released her debut album Slugger, via Carpark Records.

She brought the album to Baby’s All Right on December 13 for a stacked show that also included opening performances from three great local acts: Vagabon, Emily Reo and Told Slant.

Find photos from each band’s set posted below, along with Sad13’s setlist.

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It’s weird that so many albums that came out when I was in high school are celebrating ten year anniversaries, mostly just because it means we’re all just getting that much older. But it’s fun to be nostalgic and tilt out lens backwards, to put our minds back into the mindset of a much simpler, and better time.

My latest nostalgia trip took place on December 10, when Nicholas Thorburn and Islands (who I last saw at Music Hall) celebrated the tenth anniversary of their debut album Return To The Sea with a performance of the album in full at Webster Hall.

Islands’s lineup has changed a lot since the album was released, but he brought a little bit of the old magic back by including Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire, who originally helped Thurburn record the album in the studio. Parry’s inclusion gave their performance an extra spark, as anyone whose ever seen him perform with Arcade Fire can understand. They ran through the whole album from start to finish, even bringing out a few special guests. Rapper Subtitle delivered the verses for “Where There’s a Will There’s a Whalebone” while actor Michael Cera (who also played in Thorburn’s side-project Mister Heavenly) and members of TEEN helped in the encore performance of album closer “Bucky Little Wing.”

Find photos of their performance posted below, including shots of opener The Magic, (the band of Islands’ member Geordie Gordon) as well as Islands’ setlist.

Islands Setlist:

1. Swans (Life After Death)
2. Humans
3. Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby
4. Rough Gem
5. Tsuxiit
6. Where There’s a Will There’s a Whalebone
7. Jogging Gorgeous Summer
8. Volcanoes
9. If
10. Ones

Encore:

11. Bucky Little Wing @With[Michael Cera]

Encore 2:

12. Hallways
13. Pumpkin
14. Fear

The Magic:

Islands:

Los Angeles indie rockers Cherry Glazerr will release their great new album Apocalipstick this Friday, January 20, via Secretly Canadian.

They are currently on tour in support of the new album, brining the songs to life tomorrow, January 18, for a headlining performance at Bowery Ballroom. We last saw them open for Best Coast at Terminal 5, and even as the openers they nearly stole the whole damn show. We’re excited to hear all the new songs live, especially at the always wonderful Bowery. Opening the show is Slow Hollows and Mega Bog.

There are still some tickets for the show left, but move quick as I’m sure they won’t last long.

Chicago-based rockers Twin Peaks made major strides with their mature and alt-country influenced new album Down In Heaven (released via Grand Jury Music). With it came much bigger performances, including a performance at Webster Hall on December 9, marking their largest NYC performance to date.

The band had the floor literally shaking at Webster Hall, always a sign that a band is doing their job. The show also features some mighty good opening performances from both Together Pangea and Golden Daze.

Find photos of all three bands posted below, along with Twin Peaks’ setlist.

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Canadian singer/songwriter Andy Shauf quietly released one of the best albums of 2016 with The Party (released via Anti- Records). On December 7 he brought the album to life for a sold out crowd in Williamsburg at Rough Trade NYC. Support came from Los Angeles musician Chris Cohen, who released his album As If Apart in 2016 as well (via Captured Tracks).

Find photos of both performances posted below, along with Andy Shauf’s setlist.

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You realize time is flying by at unfair speed when you’re celebrating the tenth anniversary of The Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America. I still remember buying that album on CD at Best Buy (jesus), and spinning it non-stop throughout the rest of that year. It’s an album I’d always come back to throughout the year’s, with the 1-2 punch of “Stuck Between Stations” and “Chips Ahoy!” never losing their luster. The Hold Steady never quite matched the quality of Boys and Girls in America, but honestly, how could they?

To celebrate the albums ten years of drunken life, The Hold Steady brought it home for four straight nights of sold out shows at Brooklyn Bowl. Each night had a secret opener that was revealed hours before the show, and on the show I caught on Friday, December 2, local punk rockers The So So Glos took home the honors.

The Hold Steady would deliver all of their trademark album in full each night, but it was the order of the setlist that changed from night to night. They ended up playing it from front to back in order on night 1, but mixed it up every other night, giving each night it’s unique stamp. The crowd was one of the craziest I’ve seen at any of their shows, and certainly one of the wilder Brooklyn Bowl audiences I’ve ever been a part of.

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Athens, Georgia band Mothers, who released their debut album When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired via Grand Jury Music, have been hard at work supporting the album, playing almost non-stop in 2016. We caught them a few times throughout the year, including one final time at the newly opened Brooklyn Night Bazaar on December 2.

Our photographer Joe Saturday was on hand to capture the whole evening in photos, which included opening sets from local Brooklyn bands Patio and Yairms

Find photos of all three bands, posted below.

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