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Bully at Baby’s All Right (April 29, 2015)

By Will Oliver, May 6th 2015

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Last Wednesday night Nashville, Tennessee four-piece Bully played a sold out a show at Baby’s All Right. The young band already knows how to draw an audience, as this was a truly sold out show that was packed out all the way to the entrance door at the back of the venue. The group has been riding high off the buzz of their terrific single “I Remember,” which is also the opening track on their debut album Feels Like, out June 23 on Columbia Records imprint, Startime International.
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The last time I saw DIIV perform live, it was when they opened for My Bloody Valentine at Hammerstein Ballroom. It wasn’t the ideal atmosphere to catch Zachary Cole Smith’s band live, but they played two new songs that night (one of which was “Dust”), marking it as the beginning of phase two of DIIV’s career.

Here we are in spring 2015, and DIIV have just announced that their anticipated sophomore album is entitled Is the Is Are, and will see a release later this fall via Captured Tracks. Following the announcement, the band played an intimate late night show (starting a little after midnight) at Baby’s All Right to showcase some of the new songs off the album.
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The Wombats at Webster Hall (April 27th, 2015)

By Anthony Bauer, May 5th 2015

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New York City has seen a recent pattern emerging of late. The pattern is the booking of fantastic bands that hail from the UK, all playing venues that tend to be on the smaller side. If any of these shows were in the UK, these bands would be playing venues twice maybe three times as as big, or even arenas which makes these shows that much more special for us here in the city.

A prime example of this happening is when The Wombats rolled into a sold out show at Webster Hall on April 27th, touring in support of their fantastic new album Glitterbug. Supporting and along for the ride were openers Cheerleader and Life in Film, and they did not disappoint.
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1_Ben Folds + yMusic_Bowery Ballroom

Believe it or not, it’s been a staggering seven years the last solo album from Ben Folds. Although he released a new Ben Folds Five record three years ago, he’s been long overdue for a new record of his own, and it just so happens that we are getting one sooner than we expect. Although it’s not quite a solo record, but more of a collaboration with hot-rising NYC classical sextet, yMusic. I’ve seen the group open and play alongside a few acts, and am quite excited to see what their album produces. For those unfamiliar to them, they’re a mix of a classical orchestra with a modern rock-band twist. Considering how Folds has blended the line of classical piano and pop for so many years, the two are a match made in heaven.

Folds and yMusic stopped into New York City last week for sold out shows at Bowery Ballroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg, and Town Hall. I caught the first show at Bowery Ballroom on Monday night, and what a performance it was. There was no opener, just the central performance of Folds and yMusic. The sextet got the night started with one of their original pieces, the appropriately titled “Beautiful Mechanical.” From there Folds joined them playing a selection of their new “chamber pop” pieces, as well as some of his own songs that were best fit for additional help from an orchestra.

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Folds pieces with yMusic mixed his ear for classical orchestration with his energetic pop sensibilities. You could sense that a lot of fans weren’t quite sure what to expect, but once Folds and yMusic got through a couple of songs, his fans were right there with him. He made it easer for us by mixing in familiar cuts like “Effington, “Cologne,” and “Erase Me.” It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Folds live, but memories of past shows came back to me during “Not The Same,” where Folds came to the front of the stage to conduct the crowd’s split harmonies, taking me back many years ago when I first saw Folds do this in my earlier concert going days. It thrilled be just them same, if not more so as I now have an even greater appreciation for his constant dedication to his audiences involvement, and enjoyment, of his show.

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There was a great deal of comradery between Folds and the crowd, sparked by a joke that Folds told about a hashtag that started for one of yMusic’s members at an earlier show. Later in the night this resulted in a fan shouting about a hashtag for “the flute player.” Folds only heard “the flute player” and took it as a chance to improvise on a song about “the flute player” which soon became a full on out jazz performance, with yMusic full on and ready to follow their leader through his hilarious improvisation. It was an unforgettable moment, one that lasted pretty much the whole show, with fans shouting “the flute player” as we waited for them to reemerge for the encore. If anything, this took a bit of steam away from Folds performance of “Rock This Bitch” a improvised song that he almost always performs during his shows. But still impressive was the fact that he and yMusic were ready to create yet another new song on the spot, and make it look easy. The impressive six-song encore took us back through a look at some of Folds best work throughout the years: “Best Imitation Of Myself,” “Underground,” “Zak and Sara,” “Annie Waits,” “Army” and “You Don’t Know Me.”

It was wonderful to hear so many classic songs from Folds given a unique treatment by yMusic who spruced up the songs where orchestration fit, while also adding just enough of their own style to give it a unique spin. This, along with the first look at their collaborative material with Folds in such a intimate setting, made this show one of the best shows I’m likely going to see all year. I forgot how bad I needed Ben Folds back in my life.

Photos and setlist posted below.
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1_Speedy Ortiz_Bowery Ballroom

On Saturday, April 25, Speedy Ortiz, Mitski and Krill brought their tour to New York for a killer sold out show at Bowery Ballroom. The gig served as a celebration of Speedy Ortiz’s new album Foil Deer, which Carpark Records released on April 20.

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Boston three-piece Krill released their new record A Distant Fist Unclenching earlier in the year (February 18, to be exact) via Exploding in Sound and Double Double Whammy. This was my first time catching Krill live, but they delivered on all my expectations. There’s a rawness to singer/bassist Jonah Furman’s vocals that goes well to the riffage of guitarist Aaron Ratoff and the percussion of drummer Ian Becker, who emerges as their secret weapon on stage. The group have been hard at work for many years and its evident on not only their album but their live show. Krill are doing things by their own playbook, and it results in music that is very much their own.

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Mitski has had a wonderful last few months, ever since releasing her fantastic new record Bury Me at Makeout Creek, which Double Double Whammy released last year. I first caught her a couple months ago at Music Hall of Williamsburg, but this show had a completely different feel, large in part to a few personal confessions from Mitski. She told us how thankful she was to get to do what she loves everyday, but also about a discussion she had with her mom, who lives out of the country and hasn’t been able to see her recent live shows. Her point wasn’t to get sympathy, but to remind us that there was at least one person fighting for you to live, and to remember that no matter what kind of day you were having. It was a touching moment that overlapped with her moving set of music that got a rapturous reception from the crowd, surely well deserved.

Speedy Ortiz opened the show on a high note, with “The Graduates” and “Raising The Skate,” two of the best cuts from Foil Deer. While most of the album was played, they took from all over their young but impressive discography, playing singles like “Ka-Prow!” along with Major Arcana favorites like “Tiger Tank.” I’ve seen a few performance from Speedy Ortiz, back when guitarist Matt Robidoux was still playing with the group. Devin McKnight has now taken over guitar duties for the band, and this version of Speedy Ortiz seems to be the best yet.

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Their show at Bowery was by far the strongest performance to date, with frontwoman Sadie Dupuis leading the way with a purpose. The show was bittersweet for her, as she recently lost her father, who was looking forward about attending this show specifically. Holding back tears she shared “I feel like I’m playing for him a little bit,” an emotional moment that set the tone for the rest of the show.

Dupuis and Speedy Ortiz surely would have made him proud, as they delivered a tight and honest performance that hit home in many ways. They’ve evolved quite a bit as a band in just a few short years, with a bright future that should have fans of rock and roll very excited. Selling out Bowery Ballroom is only the start of what has already been an impressive career.

Speedy Ortiz Setlist:

1. The Graduates
2. Raising the Skate
3. Dot X
4. Plough
5. My Dead Girl
6. Tiger Tank
7. Zig
8. Ka-Prow!
9. Swell Content
10. Indoor Soccer
11. Dvrk Wvrld
12. Ginger
13. Mister Difficult
14. Swim Fan
15. American Horror

Krill:

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Mitski:

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Speedy Ortiz:

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1_Manic Street Preachers_Webster Hall

On April 23, tried and true legendary Brit-rockers Manic Street Preachers returned to New York for their first performance in six years. The stop was a part of the Holy Bible 20 tour, celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic album, The Holy Bible, which came out in August, 1994.

The group never quite caught on in the U.S. like they have in their native land, where they can sell out packed arenas with ease. Although they deserve better from American audiences, I won’t complain about getting to see them play a room like Webster Hall. Singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield kicked off the show with a more than appropriate introduction, “This is The Holy Bible!” Manics played the entirety of the classic record in order, with the crowd singing along with them from start to finish. Even for the most rampant concert goer, getting to hear a record played in full (and in order) is a petty rare feat, something treasure, especially when done by a band as tried and true as the Manics.

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Bradfield and bassist Nicky Wire were a lot more lively on stage than you’d expect from a band playing an album that’s 20 years old, constantly moving around and getting plenty of air when the songs called for it. Drummer Sean Moore was a steady presence behind the kit, often engulfed in a thick fog during the beginning of their set.

The night wasn’t a complete celebration, as The Holy Bible was the last record that the group recorded with Richey Edwards, who went missing in 1995, and has been legally presumed dead. Bradfield dedicated an acoustic performance of “Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky,” acknowledging his effect on the songs of The Holy Bible, as well as the effect he had on them since then. It was a bittersweet moment for sure.

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The rest of the show was spent diving into classic cuts from across the years, such as “You Stole The Sun From My Heart” and “You Love Us,” as well as “Walk Me to the Bridge,” a song from the trio’s 2014 release Futurology. It was the larger than life anthem “Motorcycle Emptiness” that got the biggest reception from the crowd, and seemed to bring out a different sort of energy from the band that was felt throughout the room.

Getting to see Manics play a great album at a venue too small for them was a treat, one that I hope I get to do again soon in the future. Hopefully it won’t be another six years until they return.

Find photos of their performance posted below, along with Jennie Vee, who opened the show.

Manic Street Preachers Setlist:

1. Yes
2. Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart
3. Of Walking Abortion
4. She Is Suffering
5. Archives of Pain
6. Revol
7. 4st 7lb
8. Mausoleum
9. Faster
10. This Is Yesterday
11. Die in the Summertime
12. The Intense Humming of Evil
13. P.C.P.
14. Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky (Acoustic)
15. Motorcycle Emptiness
16. You Stole the Sun From My Heart
17. Walk Me to the Bridge
18. If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
19. You Love Us
20. A Design for Life

Jennie Vee:

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Manic Street Preachers:

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1_The Juan Maclean_Union Pool

On Friday, April 24, DFA disco-rock outfit The Juan Maclean played the tiny Union Pool for the fifth show of their six show Brooklyn residency that lasted two weeks. The residency began with three shows at Cameo Gallery, and played three more last weekend at Union Pool. These were the first shows from The Juan Maclean in six years, making them a very special occasion on all accounts.

Along with brain child John Maclean, The Juan Maclean includes singer Nancy Whang (of LCD Soundsystem), keyboardist Monika Heidemann (who opened the show under her solo-moniker, Heidemann). Together they played many of their modern takes of disco with space-filled elements with dreamy synths and hypnotic vocals from Whang, whose presence in the band has never felt stronger.

This wasn’t an electronic-band that just hid behind a laptop and danced behind it. No, every member of The Juan Maclean was constant playing an instrument or contributing to vocals. This made their live performance rich and fuller sound, sending everyone jam packed into Union Pool into a glorious dance haze well into the night. The dual vocal duties split between Maclean and Whang provided an interesting contrast, but it was when they sang together that they were at their best.

The Juan Maclean are back, and better than ever. Hopefully we won’t have to wait as long for their next shows, but maybe they’ll be back again for a proper tour before we know it.
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All photos by Rachel Barrish

Last month I was introduced to Philadelphia rockers Cold Fronts when they opened for The Cribs at Mercury Lounge. Last week the energetic rockers returned to Mercury Lounge last week, for a headlining show of their own at Mercury Lounge.

Our photographer Rachel Barrish was on hand to capture their set, and got some wonderful photos from their set, which extended to the back bar of the venue. Not something you see every day.

Find Rachel’s photos from their performance posted below, along with a stream their Haim referencing new single “Baby Haim”
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1_Doldrums_Baby's All Right

On Saturday April 19 Doldrums and Moon King played a late night show at Baby’s All Right, both on tour for their newly released albums (they also played Mercury Lounge the night before). Doldrums released The Air Conditioned Nightmare on April 7 via Sub Pop, while Moon King released debut album Secret Life on April 14 via Last Gang Records.

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The close release dates aren’t the only connection shared between the two bands, both which are fronted by a pair of brothers. Airick Woodhead fronts Doldrums, while his brother Daniel fronts Moon King, and also helps play alongside Airick in Doldrums. Their relationship creates a sense of community between the two bands that is most certainly felt as an audience member.

Moon King delivered fully charged and realized rock songs that toyed with psych ideas with a powerful crunch. Daniel hustles across the stage, engaging and always enthusiastic, often sharing or trading lead vocals with guitarist and songwriting partner Maddie Wilde. Their opening set nearly stole the show in its own right, a set worthy enough to come from a headlining band, which Moon King will be doing more of in no time I’m sure.

The last time I caught Doldrums live was last May when they opened for Owen Pallet at Bowery Ballroom. This show at Baby’s went well into the dead of night, but still featured a dedicated crowd of fans ready to get lost in their world of electronic sound.

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In the past I’ve seen Doldrums play as a quartet, but this variation of Doldrums was a three-piece band, consisting of the Woodhead brothers and their drummer, who also played with Moon King. The trio did a fine job of bringing songs from Doldrums two albums to live, vibrant songs that tell stories of nighttime visions gone mad. They delivered strobe-ready dance fusions that toyed with elements of industrial, house, and just about everything else you can imagine. The later the night got, the harder crowd members danced, with early cut “Egypt” remaining a crowd favorite and the standout moment from the night.

The Woodhead brothers certainly have a bright future ahead of them, and if they keep working together in such a way, both of their groups will benefit for it.
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The Drums – “Kiss Me Again” (RAC Mix)

By Will Oliver, April 27th 2015

The Drums - Kiss Me Again (RAC Mix)

Summer is well on the way, and we can always use some upbeat and breezy songs to go along with those warm days spent outside with a cold beer by our side. Last year The Drums released their new record Encyclopedia, a record that I wish people spent more time with, as it’s a real grower and takes some time to show itself.

It seems like RAC agrees, as they’ve taken Encyclopedia track “Kiss Me Again” and spruced it up a little bit more to their own liking. He doesn’t change to much about the song, but it’s enough to give it a shiny new look that will be perfect for some summertime listening.

Find the RAC mix posted below, and head to the track’s soundcloud page for a free download.
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