Concert Reviews

1_Conor Oberst

Last night Conor Oberst brought his Upside Down Mountain tour to New York City for a show at Central Park’s Summerstage. The concert featured an opening set by Dawes, who also would go on to serve as his backing band, as they have been all tour.

The first time I saw Dawes was when I accidentally caught an opening set from them at Bowery Ballroom in 2009. Back then I had no idea who the group were, but I knew that they were bound for big things after their show-stealing performance. Here they are, five years later, and for the most part they were the same band, only more experienced and polished. They’re at the point now where they can turn the microphone towards the crowd who had no trouble carrying the chorus of their anthemic hit “When My Time Comes.” The band captivated the audience, surely doing their job as the opening band.
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The Antlers at Webster Hall (July 26, 2014)

By Will Oliver, July 27th 2014

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Last night The Antlers returned home to New York City for a sold out show at Webster Hall that wrapped up their Familiars tour.

Mr. Twin Sister (formerly Twin Sister) opened the show, although I wasn’t able to get there in time for their set (they’ll be playing at Baby’s All Right on October 4 – tickets are available here).

There’s a dreary sadness to The Antlers music, no doubt. But buried beneath the dark layers of emotion are beacons of hopefulness. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but The Antlers make it seem second nature.
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Veruca Salt at Bowery Ballroom (July 24, 2014)

By Will Oliver, July 25th 2014 — with 1 comment

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There was a point in time where no one believed that they would ever see Veruca Salt’s original lineup playing music together again. Time can do wonders, sometimes healing even the deepest of beefs. Earlier in the year the 90s rock band consisting of Nina Gordon, Louise Post, Jim Shapiro, and Steve Lack announced that they put their troubled history behind them, and were once again Veruca Salt. With this announcement came new tour dates and even a few new songs to share. Here we are months later, and last night they made their long-awaited live return to New York City.
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Phox at Mercury Lounge (July 23, 2014)

By Will Oliver, July 24th 2014

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Phox are a band out of Wisconsin, fast on the rise to stardom. Based on what I saw last night, Phox are the real deal, the sort of band that is destined for larger stages than the tiny stage that is the intimate Mercury Lounge. It was fitting that Trails and Ways (who are popular around these parts) opened the show, as they are another band who deserve your full attention.

Trails and Ways have been touring the country with Phox for the last month or so, making it a pitch perfect 1-2 combo. I caught Trails and Ways for the first time at Pianos last summer, and it was a good show. Even though it was just a year in between, the band that played last night at Mercury seemed much improved and tighter. Based on the new songs that I heard, their debut album is almost on the way, and is sounding solid. The new material had a very chill almost 80s lounge vibe with plenty of funk elements involved. It was a nice combination with the bands previous songs, “Mtn Tune” and “Como Te Vas.” Each of their four members took over lead vocals at some point, a refreshing aspect that proves that this their band is truly a collaborative effort.

I enjoyed my first listen of Phox’s (self-titled) debut album. I liked it, but totally underestimated its power. As I listened more and more, it became more apparent that this was an album that benefited from careful repeat listens. Which each play, the more that their songs would jumped out on me. This concept was even more true tonight, as the songs sounded even better than they do in recorded form. It helps to see the band on stage, working their magic, kicking these songs into gear right in front of your eyes. From the moment they walked onto the stage to the tune of “99 Problems,” I knew the show was going to be a good one.

When you see Phox, you’ll learn right away how easy it is to fall for singer/frontwoman Monica Martin. Not only does she have an delightfully impressive voice, but she has a gravitating bubbly personality that was heightened to its full effect with the help of alcohol. The band had plenty of fun on stage, eager to crack jokes in between songs at any moment. When it came time to get to business, they were all business. From the heartbreaking effect of “Satyr and the Faun” to the captivating magic of the larger than life single “Slow Motion”, Phox was here to impress. Just when I thought the night couldn’t get better, the band invited friend (and actor) John Cameron Mitchell (David Pressler-Goings on Girls) to do a lovely duet cover of Cy Coleman’s “Why Try To Change Me Now.” It was Mitchell who stole the show, holding his own and then some with Martin. It was an unexpected surprise, in a night defined by them.

I’m happy to have caught Phox at Mercury Lounge, because the bands trajectory is up, up, up. The venues will only get larger once they find the larger audience that they deserve. Trust me on this, and go see Phox, immediately.

Photos and setlist, posted below:

Setlist:

Phox Setlist
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Neutral Milk Hotel - Prospect Park

When a band such as Neutral Milk Hotel plays in your city, you go. Especially when that band is more likely to disappear forever than to return to play again in a few years. I was fortunate enough to catch Neutral Milk Hotel last night at Prospect Park, only a few months after seeing them play at Webster Hall in January. It’s still a “pinch me” sort of feeling, as there was a once a teenage version of myself that had given up all hope of ever seeing Jeff Mangum and company play.
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goodbyemotel at The Rock Shop (July 19, 2014)

By Will Oliver, July 20th 2014

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All photos via Anthony Bauer

Many concertgoers don’t have the patience to arrive early for openers, or stick around after they saw the band that they came to see. Sure, we are all busy and sometimes it’s out of our control. But every once and while, you should go out and catch an opener, or stick around a little later to see a new band. Sure, its a risk, but that’s all a part of the fun of discovery. All of the bands that you now know and love had to start somewhere.

Part of my job here is to take those risks on a daily basis, and find those hidden gems that deserve a little extra exposure. Last night, I had one of these rare experiences with an Australian-based band known as goodbyemotel.
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The Tins at The Rock Shop (July 19, 2014)

By Will Oliver, July 20th 2014 — with 2 comments

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All photos by Anthony Bauer

I first saw The Tins at a concert during my college days at Binghamton. They (Binghamton grads as well) were the opening band that night, but ended up stealing the show from the band who I thought I was there to see at the time. As I found out, it was really The Tins who I was meant to discover that night. I was immediately hooked upon hearing their polished take on rock and roll. There was just something refreshing about seeing three friends playing and singing so well, especially in the days where so much music is made by other means.

Since then, the band relocated to Buffalo, and released their debut EP and album. This year they returned with a brand new EP called Young Blame that will be released on July 29 (pre-order it here). The band has been steady with their releases, and even more consistent with the quality. I don’t question if the new material will be quality, it’s just expected at this point. Young Blame is no different. Each one of its four songs is as steady as next, hooking you in, begging for more.

Last night they brought their first ever national tour to Brooklyn for a show at The Rock Shop. It was my first time catching The Tins live outside of Binghamton, and it just happened to be the best performance that I’ve seen from the trio yet. They effortlessly blended all their material, both new and old, to create an air tight set that took over the room. They are able to create a full rock sound that is even more impressive when you take in the fact that they are just a trio.

The Tins are overdue for a big break, one that they certainly have earned and deserve. This national tour will take them to new places, and hopefully bring out fans both old and new. If they’re stopping in a city near you, I urge you to go check them out.

Below find photos from the show, all taken by Anthony Bauer. I’ve also shared the band’s tour dates.
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With …Like Clockwork, Queens Of The Stone Age released one of the best albums of 2013. They are still touring hard in support of the album, bringing their tour to Port Chester this Wednesday to play a sold out show at the historic Capitol Theatre. It is always a beautiful place to see a show, and a rather intimate place to catch an act like Queens Of The Stone Age, one of the biggest bands in rock and roll. Australian artist Brody Dalle opened the show, and is known better for her work with The Distillers and Spinnerette.

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, you don’t mess with Josh Homme. That means doing right by him if you choose to partake as an audience member in his crowd. Not like the fan in the front row who was holding up an iPad right in front of Homme, who couldn’t help but take notice, and comment. “You’ve got to be kidding with that thing man.” he told the audience member, urging him to put it away and just be present in the show. Honestly, about damn time someone called an iPad holder out on that. There’s simply no need for that at a show. This brutal honestly is what I love about Homme. During the show he spilled some honest truths by telling the crowd “Fuck the set list. I just wanna have a good time. This isn’t work. This is getting drunk and having fun.” With an attitude like that, it makes sense that the guy is one of the brightest minds to grace rock and roll in the last decade or so.

As expected, the setlist was heavy on …Like Clockwork material. But they still gave plenty of room to their many greatest hits of sorts, such as “No One Knows”, “Go With The Flow”, and “Little Sister.” They also kept it interesting with choice cuts such as “Turnin’ on the Screw”, “Better Living Through Chemistry” and “The Fun Machine Took a Shit and Died”, which Josh dedicated to the late Tommy Ramone.

Over the past year I have seen the band three times. Prior to that first performance of the three, I had never seen the band live. Each performance has been as solid as the last, if not an improvement. There’s no question that they’re one of my favorite rock bands, but also one of the best that we have going at the moment.

Setlist:

1. You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire
2. No One Knows
3. Avon
4. My God Is the Sun
5. Smooth Sailing
6. I’m Designer
7. I Sat by the Ocean
8. The Vampyre of Time and Memory
9. If I Had a Tail
10. Turnin’ on the Screw
11. Little Sister
12. The Fun Machine Took a Shit and Died
13. In My Head
14. Fairweather Friends
15. Sick, Sick, Sick
16. The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret
17. Better Living Through Chemistry
18. Go With the Flow

Encore:
19. Keep Your Eyes Peeled
20. Feel Good Hit of the Summer
21. A Song for the Dead

Queens Of The Stone Age:

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Brody Dalle:

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