Concert Reviews

Charli XCX at Governors Ball 2015

By Will Oliver, July 30th 2015

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The sun came out and pushed the cloudy skies away just in time for the set of English pop star Charli XCX, who used the sunshine to her advantage in a devastatingly fun set that got the midday crowd into party mode.

She ran through tracks off last year’s Sucker (out via Atlantic Records), such as the all too familiar “Boom Clap,” and “Famous.” Charli also integrated “I Love It,” her massive collaboration with Icona Pop that took over the radio in 2013.

Her set was a constant ball of energy, delivering a colorful performance brought to life vividly with props such as a giant inflatable guitar. Even though pop music isn’t traditionally my thing, her set was infectious and hard not to enjoy. I only was able to catch the first half, but it was a lot of fun.

Find more photos from her set posted below.
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Benjamin Booker at Governors Ball 2015

By Will Oliver, July 30th 2015

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There’s a revival of old school rock and roll at the moment, helped by up and coming artists such as New Orleans’ Benjamin Booker.

Booker’s smokey garage rock comes dipped in the roots of bluesy rock of an older time, given a fresh-faced revival that feels alive and well. He first caught my attention opening for Mac DeMarco at House Of Vans last summer, and he took his game that much further with an impressive showing at Governors Ball in June. His 2014 self-titled debut album (released via ATO Records) got deserved acclaim last year, and he’s already an accomplished live performer with all the confidence in the world.

The future of rock and roll is looking that much brighter with artists like Booker climbing the ranks.

Find some more photos from his Governors Ball performance posted below.
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DIIV at Governors Ball 2015

By Will Oliver, July 29th 2015

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Zachary Cole Smith’s DIIV will return with their anticipated new album Is the Is Are later this year via Captured Tracks. Back in May they stopped by Baby’s All Right to play most, if not all, of the new album. They followed that performance a month later which a much bigger showing at Governors Ball.

This time they integrated a few tracks off their debut album Oshin in between the new songs as a bit of a cushion for the festival audience. The new songs did well the spacious festival setting, sounding almost fitting for the ominous weather that just didn’t want to give up.

There’s still no official release date for Is the Is Are, but we can hopefully expect to hear it soon.

Find photos from DIIV’s set at Governors Ball posted below.
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Black Pistol Fire at Governors Ball 2015

By Will Oliver, July 29th 2015

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Austin duo Black Pistol Fire came storming out of the gate with a punchy set of blues-inspired garage rock that didn’t take long to win over the crowd. Guitarist Kevin McKeown inspired the fans with his rock star moves, all while drummer Eric Owen pounded away at his kit. They may just be two guys, but they’re able to summon quite a bit of noise with ease paying their respect to blues-rock while also delivering some brash garage rock along the way.

Be on the lookout for Black Pistol Fire, they’re a name you’ll be seeing again in no time.

Find photos from their performance posted below:
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The Districts at Governors Ball 2015

By Will Oliver, July 29th 2015

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Day 1 of Governors Ball 2015 began on a gloomy note, with ominous skies and eventually a cold downpour of rain. But my day, and the festival, began with a set from Philadelphia’s The Districts, who had a storm of rock and roll ready to conquer the dreary skies.

The group have made a few stops in New York throughout the year, in support of their promising debut album A Flourish and a Spoil (released via Fat Possum). Considering their set took place a mere 15 minutes after gates opened, and with the eventual downpour, the group attracted a modest but appreciative crowd. Those who were there were treated to a memorable set of The Districts power rock, just more proof that they are most certainly one of the most exciting prospects in rock and roll.

Catch them this fall when they return for a pair of shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg with Lady Lamb on November 4 (tix) & 5 (tix).

Find photos from their Governors Ball set posted below.

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Ride at Terminal 5 (June 4, 2015)

By Will Oliver, July 28th 2015

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Back in June beloved 90’s English shoegazers Ride returned to New York for their first New York shows in over 20 years. The first show was a more intimate showing at Music Hall of Williamsburg, with the original announced show taking place at the much larger Terminal 5.
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It took years of waiting, but I finally got to see one of my favorite modern day singer-songwriters perform live. His real name is Kristian Matsson, but you probably know the talent Swedish native as The Tallest Man On Earth.

Throughout the years I have relentlessly obsessed over his heartbreakingly sincere folk-rock songs. Only I never got to see him perform live, as his tours would always stop in New York whenever I was upstate at college, or away at another music festival. The timing was just never right. Earlier this June I finally got to correct this by catching Matsson at the perfectly intimate Music Hall of Williamsburg. The show came after he sold out the much larger Beacon Theater, but for someone who had failed for so long at seeing the man perform, it was really the only choice.

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Things kicked off with a set from Hiss Golden Messenger, who won me over with a wonderful performance that won over the crowd with ease with a great selection of tracks, many off last year’s awesome Lateness of Dancers. It certainly won’t be my last time seeing them perform.

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Earlier this year Matsson released his latest record as The Tallest Man On Earth, entitled Dark Bird Is Home. The record sees him embark on a fuller sound , was was adapted to his live show, with a full backing band at his disposal. While it was impressive to see how rich and powerful of a range he was able to display on command, it was when he returned to his roots for stripped down, solo versions of his best tracks such as “The Gardener” that hit home. The mood of the room changed when it was just Matsson and his guitar, as if it was just playing for you one on one. I don’t think anyone in the room could argue with that.

He mused about getting to play Music Hall opening for Bon Iver in 2008, reflecting on how far they’ve come, and how appreciative that he is for all that has come his way. I appreciated the sentiment, and realized that he deserves every ounce of success that has come his way, and then some.

Find photos from both performances posted below.

Hiss Golden Messenger:

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Tallest Man On Earth:

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Torres at Baby’s All Right (May 27, 2015)

By Will Oliver, July 8th 2015

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Mackenzie Scott, the talented singer-songwriter known simply as Torres, has captured something special with Sprinter, her fantastic sophomore release, which came out this May via Partisan Records.

In late May she played to a packed room at Baby’s All Right, leaving the attentive Brooklyn crowd in complete awe. My only other time seeing Scott perform live was at a early afternoon set at an Austin bar during SXSW 2013¬†where she¬†performed solo with just her guitar. This was a much different approach than the set at Baby’s, featuring a full band, that brought the songs off Sprinter and her 2013 debut to life with power and careful precision.

Torres is fastly rising as one of the most important voices in indie rock and roll, and whether you know it or not yet, you will soon enough.
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It happened, I finally saw Morrissey perform live. He, along with Blondie, who opened the show, played at the always prestigious Madison Square Garden, giving fans of all ages a truly unforgettable night of music. I was only able to catch the first three songs of Blondie’s set, but considering they opened with “One Way or Another,” I can’t really complain. The legendary New York group had no problem filling out Garden, even with members such as frontwoman Debbie Harry recently turning 70.

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There’s a lot of baggage that comes with The Smiths former frontman, but all that was put aside for a spellbinding performance of tracks both old and new. This wasn’t your typical greatest hits celebration, as Morrissey played what he wanted to play, not what you wanted to hear. But lucky for us, there really is no wrong choice when it comes to Morrissey’s ever so expansive catalogue.

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