Monday, October 13, 2014
This post features Brick + Mortar, a new band who's performance and sound I like, having performed at The Big Gig back in August. They were one of the first bands to play on the May Farms stage Sunday afternoon.
Brandon Asraf and John Tacon formed Brick + Mortar six years ago after countless attempts to do something meaningful with other musicians were less than encouraging. Keeping it lean and mean has worked for the New Jersey-based duo: Last year, they aligned themselves with Photo Finish Records for the release of Bangs, a six-track mini-LP that isn’t impenetrably experimental as much as it is slightly askew. Distorted keyboards, slamming rhythm tracks and grating samples are couched within fully realized pop songs, topped off by bassist Asraf’s highly expressive vocal melodies. It’s a chemistry that wouldn’t sound out of place on a bill on the Fest or foreshadowing a plotline on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. When they roll up onto the Riot Fest stage, there’s a good chance the smattering of rocker tribes in attendance will find something in Brick + Mortar’s high-spirited set to gravitate toward.
Read it all here:
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
I woke up mid morning after wandering the streets of New York City late into the night. Took a shower, dressed and spent sometime looking over the equipment to determine what the problem was the previous night. I decided to minimize the risk and settled for a different rig, crossing my fingers that it would work better this time. As always, I only blame myself, problems always arising from human error. Pizza for breakfast!
At noon I met an old friend of mine who I had not seen for many years, Mike, a former roommate from the University, sharing a year rooming together in 1975-1976. We were both older, both successful in our own ways, with so much happening in the intervening years. But we were still friends just like it was yesterday. Mike had a treat for me, driving into Manhattan from Brooklyn on his motorcycle. The plan was to spend the afternoon driving around NYC, have a cigar and a drink over lunch in Greenwich Village and end the time with a short trip to an up and coming hip section of Brooklyn. It was a fabulous experience, getting to see the city in a way I had never seen it before in my life. All these sights seen from a different angle, sky scrappers whizzing by. The five hours went by quickly, Mike dropping me off at the hotel where I returned upstairs to prepare for this evenings show.
I changed, gathered up my gear and went out for dinner, smoking a cigar as I made my way to the theater to stand in line.
The band seemed to be more in tune with the audience, and the crowd was more into the show than the previous night. It was Sunday night, the true fans willing to stick around late into the evening and risk being tired and hung over for work in the morning. The band responded by putting on a great show. Lots of smiles from Jez and Nick. Ian seemed to be in a good mood throughout the show, not sensing the usual tension among the band members who in the past would look at Ian expectantly, waiting for his directions. Not tonight.
As is always the case, it all comes to an end so quickly and I find myself standing outside in the cool summer evening near the back stage door. Tonight they erected a barricade between the door and the street behind which the sizable crowd gathered. Gordy was no where to be seen this evening, perhaps busy with his new friend from the previous evening. Will came out and signed some autographs, spending some time chatting with a group of women who I believe were part of the VIP crowd. He was standing right next to me, I being fearful of saying something stupid to this legendary figure. Ian was in good spirits when he stepped out, his pen autographing whatever was put before him. I was standing behind one or two other people watching all this unfold. I was stunned when Ian and I made eye contact and he immediately extended his had out to me, we shake and exchanging pleasant remarks, I thanking him for another fine performance. Off into the waiting taxi and he's gone. There's a new young guy directing things involving the band these last two evenings. I make the comment to him and Ian, asking whether he's the new Peasy (band manager). This young gentleman jokingly highlights the difference between himself and Peasy by patting his belly, this guy in his all black military style ensemble. Stephen, Jez and Nick came out together and we chatted for a bit. Once again they departed together, heading down an empty street in the direction of Union Park. I was in heaven.
I wandered the streets making my way back to the hotel. I gulped several beverages in an effort to rehydrate. Ray's Pizza provided a late night snack. It was sad to think this week and now come and gone. All that was left was to sleep, pack and return to LaGuardia Airport to catch an early afternoon flight.
Last night, the classic drama-pop masters, Echo & The Bunnymen, played the second of two sold-out nights at Irving Plaza in Manhattan. They’ve been touring the U.S. this month in support of their new album, Meteorites, released on May 26 in the U.K. and then June 3 here in the U.S., via 429 Records. They doled out a mix of old and new material interspersed with chatter from leader Ian McCulloch’s barely decipherable Liverpudlian accent, though this time around his singing voice and stage energy were better than the last time the band strolled through NYC a couple years ago. The Cutter, The Killing Moon and especially Lips Like Sugar seemed to be crowd favorites, the newer songs went over well, and a fair bit of dancing and arm-waving went on throughout. This brazen Brit bunch continue to prove they still have some viability left after all these years.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Need I say it was a fabulous show? Their music carries me away to a beautiful, far off land.
Hung out at the theater exit hoping the band would be kind enough to come out and say hello. I was not disappointed. Gordie was trying his best to make friends with and attractive young woman. Caught Will and Ian as they made their exit, thanking both for a wonderful performance. Will said that there was going to be an after party at a destination he provided, but my legs were not in a condition to allow me to walk that far that late at night. Stephen, Jez and Nick acted like buddies on this visit to NY, departing together and heading off for what I assume was to look for some fun at a place of their own. I did spend a little time speaking to them, telling me that all was well with the band, having found that place where they all worked well together. And it showed in their performance with Ian giving a very relaxed performance and smiles being flashed by other band members, particularly Nick and Jez.
Back to the hotel where I had a slice of pizza before heading upstairs for a long sleep. Plans were already made for some fun Sunday afternoon.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
We got there early and found seats right next to the sound booth in general admission. A light rain fell part of the evening, but we were comfortably prepared for that possibility. All those drops of rain lit up in the stage lights looks a lot worse than it really was. My feet were sore the following day at having danced around for much of the evening, especially the hour or so Grouplove was on stage. We got home and were in bed just before 1 AM. I shot some video of the show (see below), but in the middle of a favorite song of mine I turned it off, determined to enjoy the moment and not watch it through a camera screen over my head, not wanting to be little more than a tripod.
The synthpop act Grouplove, who hail from Los Angeles, brought energy and dance to the rock formations of Morrison’s pride. They were able to get the crowd dancing and swaying their electronic hippie-offspring beats and personable stage personas. Singer Hannah Hooper brought her game to the rocks in the sky, summoning a feeling of togetherness, not just among the band, but with the entire audience. Between her near-rapping and mega-positive interactions with the crowd and her bandmates, she introduced a persona everyone seemed to latch onto.
“This crowd could not be more amazing,” said vocalist and guitarist Christian Zucconi. “This is a dream.” More pop-centric songs like “Tongue Tied,” the popular radio dance track, made an interesting distinction in contrast to the slower, more classic-rock-like songs such as “Slow.”
The song brought out a somewhat unexpected breakdown and guitar solo, followed by the catchy, albeit grammatically incorrect chant, “Time moves slow.” From there a drum-only sequence led to a Radiohead-esque space expedition, which felt reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s more reverberated works.
To break through the “Borderlines and Aliens” dance-pop trend, but to keep with the best-of-covers precedent, the band teamed up with some Portugal. The Man members to finish with an encore of “Teenage Wasteland.”
Read it all, with pictures, here:
Sunday, August 10, 2014
We depart work a little early in an effort to get to Red Rocks before the doors opened, wanting to get a good general admission seat near the stage. As we stood in line in the parking lot a brief rain shower passed through, dropping large rain drops backlit by the sun over the foothills. Not enough to get wet, more of an interest because one could literally watch individual drops fall from high up.
We found a seat near the sound booth with a clear view of the stage. Two bands opened up for Foster The People. The first was the Swedish band NoNoNo followed by Swedish indie pop band Lykke Li (subject of a future post?). I enjoyed both who kept the audience entertained while we waited for Mark Foster and his band to take the stage.
A beautiful evening with a cooling breeze. I was in a good mood by the time Foster The People took the staged for an hour and a half and rocked the house. Each of the bands commented on their appreciation at performing in this famed music venue. Even with a bum knee and sore foot, I was on my feet the whole time. I'm already waiting for them to swing through Denver on their next tour!
The wife was the designated driver and we make it back home after midnight. I was dragging at the office the following day, not a big deal since I was in an all day meeting where all one had to do was sit and listen.
Lead singer, guitarist Mark Foster is clearly the star of Foster the People. The band was solid and played the material they had, quite well. Still, to me, FTP’s best songs sounded like some far more original band’s weaker songs. Good, just not anything you’d wanna rush back to hear.
The crowd “woo’d” at the appropriate parts of most of Foster the People’s glossy, slick, overproduced-to-please songs. But by the 40-minute mark, some attention spans were being stretched. Many of the crowd, who earlier on, seemed to be saving their energy during Lykke Li’s set, were evidently saving it for “Pumped Up Kicks.”
After a heartfelt “We remember where we were at back then, playing Red Rocks two years ago during the Colorado fires” Thank You address to the crowd (Foster didn’t talk much to the audience) they encored shortly after with, what else?
Read it all here: