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Miguel at Le Poisson Rouge (June 30, 2015)

By Will Oliver, August 25th 2015

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R&B singer Miguel released his new album Wildheart on June 29 via RCA Records/Bystorm Entertainment. He celebrated the release with a free intimate performance at Le Poisson Rogue as a part of NPR’s First Listen Live series. Fans had a chance to get free tickets online, which sold out almost instantly, in a matter of seconds.

Over the years, Miguel has seen his stock rise considerably, making him one of the biggest and brightest stars in r&b. Getting to see him perform at a space such as Le Poisson Rogue was ideal, a better fit than his performance at Terminal 5 which was an original part of his tour. The performance saw him share a good majority of his new album, including the rather incredible single “Coffee” as well as “Hollywood Dreams” and “Waves.” Before and after songs he would give us a little explanation or insight into the song, and offer us some inspiration message here and there. He didn’t cheap us out of a normal length set either, playing 17-songs for about an hour.

It was my first time seeing Miguel, but I was impressed with his ability as a performer. Not only does he have a stunning voice, but he is able to bring the show to leave in an impressive and entertaining manner that has cross appeal for fans of both r&b and pop.

Find the setlist posted below, along with some iPhone photos (no camera allowed for this one).
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Ty Segall at Mercury Lounge (June 26, 2015)

By Will Oliver, August 25th 2015

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This summer indie rocks hardest worker Ty Segall returned to New York for 4-intimate acoustic shows across the city, including performances at Baby’ All Right, Bell House, Mercury Lounge and Rough Trade NYC.

I caught his performance at Mercury Lounge on June 26, which was the first of two shows for him that night, with a performance at Rough Trade NYC immediately following. It featured an opening set from Nashville folk artist William Tyler, who warmed up the crowd with a beautiful set of finger-picked goodness.

The last time I saw Segall play was at one of the final Death By Audio performances in November, as well as his absolutely bonkers headlining show at Webster Hall. This time around he went unplugged, playing a set of acoustic songs from all over his catalog, but mostly pertaining to last year’s mega album, Manipulator. Segall had fun with the show, offering lighthearted, and often goofy covers of classic rockers such as Devo’s “Baby Talkin Bitches.”
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Leon Bridges at Bowery Ballroom (June 23, 2015)

By Will Oliver, August 25th 2015

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In late June soulful Fort Worth, Texas resident Leon Bridges made his return to New York as a part of his first official headlining tour across the states for his winning debut album Coming Home (released via Columbia Records). He played a two night run, with the first at Bowery Ballroom, and the second at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Both shows sold out immediately, with demand far exceeded available tickets. So much so that when I arrived for his performance at Bowery Ballroom, that there was an entire line of nearly a dozen or so people outside who unfortunately bought fake tickets from craigslist. A rather depression reminder to be very careful if you do buy tickets from there.

But for those lucky enough to get inside Bowery Ballroom, they were treated to a wonderful showing from Bridges. Both of Leon’s next New York shows feature slightly bigger performances at the Apollo Theater and Webster Hall, both of which sold out almost instantly. So it was clear that getting to see Bridges at the always intimate Bowery Ballroom was a special treat, as he is destined to play much bigger theaters very soon.
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Beirut at Bowery Ballroom (June 21, 2015)

By Will Oliver, August 25th 2015

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On September 11 the alway reliable Beirut will grace us with a brand new album called No No No, which will be released by 4AD. Along with the announcement came new tour dates, with a stop in New York at the prestigious Radio City Music Hall on October 1. But they didn’t make us wait that long. A few weeks later the band would announce a slightly more intimate last minute performance at Bowery Ballroom on June 21, on fathers day.

I went in expecting Zach Condon and the rest of Beirut to share a majority of the new album, and just hoped for a couple of old favorites as well. Only, it turned out to be the opposite, as only two songs from the new record were shared: title track and first single “No No No” (which they played last summer at their Northside appearance) and “August Holland.”

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The rest of the night saw Beirut dip into select favorites from each album, leaving fans with no choice but to sing along to every word. Usually when a band enters a new album cycle you’re hoping to get a few songs you know, but this show was the rare show where you got to hear every song that you wanted. The band seemed happy just to be playing again. The return to Bowery caused Condon to reflect a bit, including his realization that it has been nearly a decade since the release of his breakthrough piece, “Postcards From Italy,” which had everyone in attendance singing along.

I was glad I was able to see Beirut dazzle in a small venue one last time. Although Radio City will certainly be a special show in its own right, I don’t think it can quite match getting to see them at the Bowery. No doubt it will be one of the most special shows I’ll see this year.

Find photos of Beirut and opener Helado Negro below, along with Beirut’s setlist.
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1_Christopher Owens_Baby's All Right

Christopher Owens, now long removed from his former breakthrough rock duo Girls, has certainly proved that his career as a solo musician is permanent. Ever since officially going solo in 2013, Owens has released an album every year, with his latest album, Chrissybaby Forever, coming seemingly out of nowhere in early June (released via Turnstile Music).

On June 20 he returned to New York for a performance at Baby’s All Right, an appropriate place for his newer material which deserves a slightly more intimate setting. Owens shared many tracks from his new album, previous solo records, and select off-beat Girls cuts. Owens still draws quite a bit of a passionite cult following, with one fan who Owens recognized during the show getting a hug in between songs. It seems like Owens is able to comfortably be himself and have more fun on his own as a solo artist, even if deep down, all of us wouldn’t mind a Girls reunion someday.

Find some photos from his performance at Baby’s posted below.
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1_Unknown Mortal Orchestra_Baby's All Right

Back in June Unknown Mortal Orchestra played a sold out show at Warsaw, the New York stop for their current tour of Multi-Love, their funky new album that was released this May via Jagjaguwar. Only that show was just the beginning of their night, as the band kept the party going right with a free show at the much more intimate Baby’s All Right immediately following their performance at Warsaw.

To be entered for a chance to attend, fans had to leave a comment on the bands facebook post the day before. Only a select few won, but things got so packed at Baby’s that anyone who showed up was allowed in. As a result, you can imagine that the already sure to be packed show got even more crowded than it had to be. The capacity crowd included Mac DeMarco and members of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, who also came from a show of their own at Bowery Ballroom.

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The dance-inspired, funky influence of new album Multi-Love still had a strong hold on the band, who sounded as good as I’ve ever seen them (I last saw them at MHOW in 2013). These days they’re joined by a keyboardist, rounding their total to four. This resulted in a much fuller sound that allowed them to pull off the epic groove necessary on new tracks like “Necessary Evil” and the title track “Multi-Love.” The funk carried over and influenced a slightly new flavor to old favorites such as “How Can U Luv Me” and “Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark).”

The band let it all hang out on the stage and brought the party with them to the enthusiastic crowd who were just amazed to get to see them at the tiny stage of Baby’s, for free. The most impressive part of the night was that they didn’t cut it short due to it being a free show, they played for a solid hour plus, giving us more than we ever could of asked.

Find some more shots of their performance at Baby’s posted below.
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King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard at Bowery Ballroom (June 19, 2015)

By Will Oliver, August 24th 2015 — with 1 comment

1_King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard_Bowery Ballroom

In just a year Aussie freak-rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have made the jump from playing small DIY venues to being able to sell out venues such as Bowery Ballroom. That’s exactly what they did on June 19, in support of their new album Quarters! (out via Castle Face), the first of two records that they will release this year.

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Opening the show was eccentric New Orleans duo Quintron And Miss Pussycat. You knew something different was about to occur when they opened their set with a puppet show, a strange but definitely hilarious affair. Their set was a bit of experimental freak-rock that definitely had a swamp-like New Orleans flavor to it.

Already King Gizzard have quickly established a reputation for being one of the wildest rock shows you’ll find. Selling out a place like Bowery takes time, but King Gizzard seemed to launch towards this level of local popularity due to hard work and wild songs that keep you constantly moving in the crowd, just trying to keep up.
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Wolf Alice at Le Poisson Rouge (June 18, 2015)

By Will Oliver, August 24th 2015

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In mid June Wolf Alice made yet another return to New York, this time to play their biggest show here to date at Le Poisson Rouge. They made a few stops here throughout the year, with free performances at Baby’s All Right and Brooklyn Night Bazaar (RIP), seemingly picking up tons of new fans along the way. Their rise has been a rather organic ride, with fans slowly picking up on the young British rockers, accumulating due to the simple fact that the band knows how to write a great rock and roll tune. Their debut album My Love Is Cool (RCA/Dirty Hit Records) is one of the finest debuts you’ll find this year.

Their performance at Le Poisson Rouge was as impressive as I’ve seen them yet. Even though it’s only been a couple of months, the group has improved upon each performance, bringing the grunge-inspired rockers to life with even more intensity and ferocity. Lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s haunted vocals captivate live, keeping your eyes totally transfixed on her while she’s on stage. It’s hard to believe these guys are really only getting started, as they seemed to be seasoned veterans already.

The stage will once again get bigger for Wolf Alice when they return on October 2 for a performance at Warsaw. Tickets are still available at the moment.

Find photos of Wolf Alice posted below, along with Buffalo three-piece Made Violent, who opened the show.

Made Violent:

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Wolf Alice:

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Spoon at Kings Theatre (June 16, 2015)

By Will Oliver, August 24th 2015

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Back in mid June Spoon made their return to New York for a sold out performance at Kings Theatre, the best large venue in New York City. The performance was one of their few remaining stops of the They Want My Soul tour, and featured an opening set from Brooklyn natives The Antlers.

Although The Antlers are more accustomed to playing more intimate venues, they were actually a pretty perfect fit to play at Kings. Their spacious and haunting sound filled out the place no problem. The tracks off their 2014 album Familiars never sounded better.

The last two times Spoon played in New York, the shows took place outside (Governors Ball and Summerstage, although there was the surprise show at LPR). Frontman Britt Daniel made note of this during the show, and wasn’t shy to slight the less than satisfactory sound at Central Park that night (the talkative crowd didn’t help either).

This show was the complete opposite of Central Park. The sold out crowd was in a trance like state for the entirety of Spoon’s impressive set, which was easily the best performance out of the half a dozen or so times I’ve seen them live now. Not only did they fill out Kings, but they made it look easy. They confidently tore through tracks off They Want My Soul with a simple but effective stage set up and light show accommodating the theme of each offering.

The expansive 23-song set lists featured not just one, but two encores, allowing Spoon to truly give the fans what they wanted. It was as close to a perfect setlist as any Spoon fan could ask for. The final encore of “Black Like Me,” ” You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb,” and “The Underdog” sent everyone home in a blissful state.

When I look back on all the shows I saw this year, this one will surely rank amongst the best.

Find photos of both Spoon and The Antlers below, along with Spoon’s setlist.

Setlist:

1. Rent I Pay
2. Knock Knock Knock
3. Don’t You Evah
4. The Way We Get By
5. Small Stakes
6. My Mathematical Mind
7. The Ghost of You Lingers
8. Satellite
9. The Beast and Dragon, Adored
10. I Turn My Camera On
11. Do You
12. The Fitted Shirt
13. I Summon You
14. Rainy Taxi
15. Inside Out
16. Don’t Make Me a Target
17. Got Nuffin

Encore:

18. Outlier
19. Anything You Want
20. TV Set (The Cramps Cover)

Encore 2:

21. Black Like Me
22. You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
23. The Underdog

The Antlers:

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Spoon:

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1_Viet Cong_MHOW

I closed out the 2015 Northside Festival with a sold out performance from Canadian rockers Viet Cong at Music Hall of Williamsburg. It was the second of a two night sold out run at the venue, an impressive feat considering that they played a sold out Mercury Lounge just back in January.

Now that the controversy over their name has somewhat died down, the band have been able to just focus on playing their music live on tour. Their self-titled debut album (released via Jagjaguwar) is a quick but efficient bit of edgy freak-rock that really is a thing within itself, and one of my favorite records of the year so far.

It’s a different beast live, using space and different speeds and tempos to exaggerate its purpose to delightful effect. Highlights such as “Bunker Buster” and “Continental Shelf” sounded monstrous live, leaving many left picking their jaws off of the floor. I only wish they had more songs because their set was over just as the going was really getting good with the extended monster of a jam that is the album closer “Death.”

They’ll be back in New York on September 11 for a performance at Basilica Soundscape in Hudson, New York.

Find photos from their Northside performance posted below, along with the setlist.
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