James Blake @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, 10/6/2011

I just came back from the James Blake show in Williamsburg. I now know what the sound of a room full of ovaries exploding sounds like: basically faint squeals of ecstasy for about 1 hour non-stop.

Master of the subtle, slow build, James Blake has you wrapped around his youthful, tiny little British finger without you even realizing it.

Oh don't mind me, I'm just blowing your MIND right now

As I Rock, I Roll so aptly described it: “James Blake shows are like being masterfully seduced by the most unassuming hot guy ever. SAHWOOON”

Swoon indeed! In addition to creating some of the sexiest music created in a long time, this dude is clearly a hit with the ladies. I swear, I could actually hear hearts breaking as he crooned. One girl screamed, “I LOVE YOUR HAIR!” about five times throughout the show. Another gave James a bouquet of flowers at the end of the initial set.

Are flowers the way to James Blake's heart?

I nearly DIED when I realized that for the encore he was doing a cover of “Case of You” — probably one of my most favorite Joni Mitchell songs EVER. UUuuuggghhh! Absolutely brilliant. Well played, James Blake, WELL PLAYED.

If you listen carefully, I think you can hear my brain exploding in this video:

There’s really only one way to describe James Blake: an extremely attractive musical angel sent down from heaven to remind us that God really does still exist.

Note the heavenly glow

Coldplay Live on Letterman in NYC – 9/20/11

Longtime readers of this site will already be accustomed to my undying, uncool devotion to the British “rock” band Coldplay.
But it is due to this broadcasting of affection that people end up being so generous whenever the band rolls into town.

Waiting to head into the Ed Sullivan Theater

Thanks to the unbelievable kindness of Product Shop NYC, last night I was lucky enough to attend Coldplay’s Live on Letterman webcast taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater right here in NYC.

Amazing lasers and lots of crazy colors filled the stage.

It was basically 50 minutes of pure joy for me. The band played a handful of new songs off their upcoming album Mylo Xyloto — “Major Minus,” “Hurts Like Heaven,” “Charlie Brown,” and my personal favorite, “Paradise” — as well as all the greatest hits (“Yellow,” “The Scientist,” “Viva la Vida,” “Fix You,” etc.).
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Things From Last Month: Foster the People, Cut Copy, Johnny Marnell, Kalli

Hey y’all. Sorry I have basically fallen off the face of the planet in terms of updates. August was a great month — saw lots of good music. Here are some of the shows I witnessed:

The biggest blowout I attended last month was on August 11th for Celebrate Brooklyn‘s last concert of the summer, featuring Aussie dance party gods, Cut Copy, and California wunderkids, Foster the People. So much crazy dancing, so much fun! (And a damn near Lindsay Lohan sighting!)

Lead singer Mark Foster told a story about how when he was a teenager he approached Rivers Cuomo at a party and tried to get him to listen to his demo. Fast foward to 2011, and now Weezer has been known to cover “Pumped Up Kicks” in concert. As an homage, FTP did a cover version of “Say It Ain’t So”:

Cut Copy wants you to feel the power!

Crowd during Cut Copy finale
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I Love You Jesse Eisenberg – AKA the Day My Brain Exploded

If you have been following my Twitter, you’ll know that on Friday I was in spitting distance of the man I like to call “Sir Eisenhair” or as my friend Adam Kuban so cleverly re-named him, “Jeisenhair”.

Yes, that’s right — I was in the midst of Mr. Jesse Eisenberg!!!

He was at the SoHo Apple store for a “Meet the Filmmaker” talk to promote his new movie, 30 Minutes or Less.

Is he smiling at me? Er... Nope.

Jesse was completely awkward (of course), spending most of the time hunched over himself, at a consistent level of discomfort with the entire situation. Half the time was spent with the interviewer from Movieline asking a few questions in-between showing movie clips, and the other half was spent on audience questions.

Jesse watching himself on-screen

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Hurting This Way: Sweating Through Friendly Fires @ Summerstage – 8/7/11

Sure I had back sweat, front sweat, side sweat, and butt sweat, but today’s FREE Friendly Fires + Naked and Famous + Cults show for Summerstage at Central Park was SO FUN.

I was dancing up a storm, making a fool of myself. If you were in the crowd, you may remember me from such things as screaming really loudly and terrifying The Music Slut at the start of “Hurting,” or doing a whirlwind dance past you on the way to the front of the crowd during the performance of “Hawaiian Air” during the encore.

Never ever before have I seen this, but guitarist Edd Gibson actually had REVERSE sweat stains on his denim shirt — as in, the entire shirt was drenched with sweat except for this 2-by-3-inch space under his armpit. SWEATMASTING! Ed Macfarlane was of course wearing a hideous printed shirt and dancing like a possessed samba instructor. There was a sax player and a trumpet player. I SAID, I SAID, I SAID THERE WAS A SAX PLAYER. Sax at a show = Brilliant. <3 [caption id="attachment_9254" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="I'd like to buy a "F" for $200..."][/caption]

Openers Cults were perfectly dreamy as per usual, and New Zealand’s own Naked and Famous were no where near naked, but good times nonetheless.

"So hey, I'm going to this show, do you want to come?" "Sure!" "OK, well just MAKE SURE you wear all denim. It's kinda a thing."

SETLIST: Lovesick, Jump In Pool, Blue Cassette, True Love, On Board, Chimes, Skeleton Boy, Show Me Lights, Live Those Days Tonight, Hurting, Pull Me Back to Earth, Paris ENCORE: Hawaiian Air, Kiss of Life

The Raveonettes @ Beekman Beer Garden – 7/31/11

Last Sunday I had a pretty radtastical casual day at the Beekman Beer Garden at South Street Seaport watching those oldies, but goodies, The Raveonettes do a free show by the Manhattan waterfront.

I can’t tell you the last time I saw the Raveonettes in concert — probably the mid-2000s time frame — but I’m happy to report that they still rock out. Admittedly, you’ve heard one Raveonettes song, you probably have heard them all (heavy guitar sound, pretty light vocals and harmonizing), but they are enjoyable nonetheless.

On a normal night the Beekman Beer Garden crowd is basically B&T and tourists, but the concerts crowd was a mix of enthusiastic youngsters (free! during the day!) and old timers who crawled out of the woodwork to relive the adventures of their younger selves. Lots of little rocker kids as well, adorable!


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Summertime Fun So Far: Seaport Concerts, Al Fresco Dining, and Sing-a-Longs

Gosh, the summer is just flying by! Here are a couple of things that have put a smile on my face so far:

The Radio Dept. and Asobi Seksu @ River to River, South Street Seaport – July 15, 2011

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of re-living the mid-2000s with a performance by Swedish shoegazers The Radio Dept. and NYC’s own Asobi Seksu.

A beautiful night with beautiful music.


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Village Voice 4Knots Festival – July 16, 2011 – Part 1: Titus Andronicus, Black Angels

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be in town for the first ever 4Knots Festival presented by the Village Voice. The 4 Knots fest is the replacement for the now defunct Siren Festival — the VV’s free music event on Coney Island. If memory serves me correct, I had attended each and every Siren Fest during it’s 10 year run. So it was only fitting that I attend the son of Siren.

Trading the tip of Brooklyn for the tip of Manhattan, the 4 Knots fest took place at Pier 17 at the famed South Street Seaport. It was a bit of a relief to find out that 4Knots only had one stage — Siren Fest always had a “Main” stage and a second “Stillwell” stage, which was kind of annoying because you’d find yourself running up and down the boardwalk all day long trying to catch all the different sets — never being able to fully watch all of them.

Butt pirates...hehehe (sorry)

On top of that, the VIP tents were situated behind the stages — which basically made for the most ginormous clusterf*ck toward the end of the night. By the headlining sets you knew that if you dared leave the pit, you might never get back in — and if you never left, you’d probably be surrounded by a bunch of folks who seemed exceedingly more interested in the free Bud Light than they were in the actual music.

4Knots was far more pleasant — VIP folks were sanctioned off on the Peking ship — off to the side of the stage, leaving the pit for people who actually needed to be there.

I suppose there was a “second stage” of sorts — the 4Knots indoor lounge on Front Street — brilliant because it was indoors with air conditioning, as well as the fact that it was open to the public. Fans of acts like Brahms, Yeasayer, and Dan Deacon could come listen to the celeb DJs spin their favorite tunes while taking photos at the Pop Chips booth, or singing karaoke.

But it wasn’t that bad to be outside — the sun was shining, it was pretty damn hot, but not actually that humid. Couldn’t ask for a better day.

Ok, but enough commentary on the setup — let me just give you the low down on the actual event:

Hands down my favorite act of the day was Titus Andronicus. I had seen Titus Andronicus play a couple times before (in the oxygen-deprived basement of Lit, at MHOW for ATJF ), but never have I seen them truly shine in the way I did this weekend.

The energy, enthusiasm, and love that radiated through the band and the crowd during their set absolutely blew me away. I was genuinely excited by their raucous, explosive set filled with their raw, yet poetic tunes. You could see in the faces of the fans that this band truly MEANS something to them. The devotion I saw in these kids was the kind that can produce involuntary body convolutions. The crowd felt like one giant organism, breathing, singing, cheering, and watching in unison. So many of the kids up front had clear eyes that were fixed on the every move of lead singer Patrick Stickles.


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It’s Such a Perfect Day: Austra and tUnE-yArDs @ Pier 54, July 14, 2011

I probably looked like an idiot today. Not only was I wearing a t-shirt with French words on it (in honor of Bastille Day), but I was also walking around with a sh-t eating grin on my face ALL DAY LONG. “Why?” you may ask? Well it was simply a beautiful, glorious day in NYC. The weather was absolutely perfect — low humidity, sunny, high was in the low 80s, AND there was a delightful breeze. And to top it all off, today was the White Stripes’ birthday!

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend such a wonderful day than heading over to Pier 54 to attend the kick-off show of this year’s River Rocks festival at Hudson River Park. Over the years I’ve attended my fair share of River Rocks summer concerts, and they are always a delight to attend. Free music by the water — you really cannot go wrong, can you?

Yes, it’s true that the show started about 30 minutes after it was supposed to, with synthy Canadian dream pop band Austra taking the stage after 7:30pm. Dressed like a bunch of art school hipsters (high-waisted skirts, lace tops, glitter on their faces, huge glasses, neon hot pants, among other fashion statements that would make an American Apparel clerk blush), it’s a bit hard to take this up-and-coming band seriously at first, but make no mistake, Austra is going places.

Their atmospheric pop is a lovely thing to hear indeed — singer-songwriter Katie Stelmanis‘ voice has the ability to sound strong yet quivering, and dripping with emotion. Music that can equally serve as indie dance music AND the soundtrack to an elegant modern ballet, Austra’s sound is complex and compelling, and I urge you to check them out if you don’t know them already.

Headliners tUnE-yArDs were equally amazing. Merrill Garbus is absolutely captivating to watch as she layers and loops her vocal samples, drum beats, and various other organic sounds to create complex soundscapes that definitely get your body moving.

The perfect set of acts for the carefree, fun-loving spirit that should radiate from a free summer concert event. By the end of the night the crowd’s hands were up in the air, people were happy and dancing their little heart outs. There was a beautiful bright summer moon casting a glow over everyone, and the lights of Manhattan and New Jersey twinkled like jewels in the night. Then to top it all off, celebratory fireworks lit up the sky during tUnE-yArDs’ encore song.
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My Brightest Diamond Makes Waves at Castle Clinton for R2R

Last Thursday I headed over to Castle Clinton at Battery Park to catch the incredible Shara Worden aka My Brightest Diamond.

My first introduction to the seductive stylings of MBD was two years ago at the Dark Was the Night concert at Radio City Music Hall, where I was completely blown away by Shara’s rendition of “Feeling Good.”

Hips Don't Lie
Hips don't lie

So it was no surprise that MBD won me over once again at last week’s free show for the River to River festival. Now a resident of Detroit, this show was a bit of a homecoming for Shara, who lived in New York for a number of years.

Backed by the yMusic chamber ensemble, MBD played all songs of her upcoming album, All Things Will Unwind, and featured three interludes starring MBD friend, dancer Jessica Dessner taking the stage as Shara sat quietly with a creepy old lady mask on.

It's a snap

Definitely never a dull moment at a MBD show, eh? Shara introduced many of the songs with details about her new live in The D — with one particularly funny story about a mouse in her house that she found, trapped, and released out into the wild — only to find a defiant pile of mouse poop waiting for her the very next day.

Another tale described a wonderful group of jazz and blues musicians that used to meet every Sunday at a particular house to have a jam session in front of the lawn. But according to Shara, when the owner of the home died, the house was knocked down (apparently commonplace in Detroit), but the musicians still gather in front of the location of the house and perform on blankets they lay out front.

Listen carefully

As usual, MBD’s music is a little over the top, but completely original and refreshing. Beautiful lyrics injected with a wry sense of humor, with incredibly melodious accompaniment by yMusic, the songs made the perfect companion to the lovely evening.

Another triumph for the R2R festival at one of my most favorite concert venues for a NYC summer.
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