Is it just me or does the cover for “Pretty Saro” (Bob Dylan’s new/old previously unreleased recording from Self Portrait) look a heckuva lot like Ryan Gosling
I was very happy to have Purity Ring be my first concert of 2013 at their first stop on this leg of their American tour, at the NYC show at Webster Hall.
A lot has changed for the duo since the first time I saw them in 2011 at CMJ: At the start of 2012 they were signed by 4AD and Last Gang Records, and in July of that year they released their stellar debut album, Shrines.
The difference was even clear from their stage setup – still the same arrangement — “percussions” on the left side of the stage for Corin Roddick, and a bass-drum type instrument that singer Megan James occasionally beats — but this time suspended from the ceiling were creepy/ethereal light cocoons that would light up in sync with the music.
The synth machine setup itself had gotten more elaborate, moving from a handy-man special of pipes and tubes, to a more sophisticated set of individual lanterns.
I’ve always been impressed by how no-nonsense and professional Purity Ring have been despite the band’s young age. As per usual, their show went off with not so much as a hitch — with Ms. James commanding the stage with her sweet, yet somehow powerful disposition. Diminutive in stature, with some of the tiniest hands I’ve ever seen, she often elegantly swiped her hand across the stage, as if to cast some sort of magical spell on the audience. When she wasn’t doing that, she’d sway up and down, ball-heeling herself to the beat, or grabbing a portable work light with a metal guard and holding it above and below her face for dramatic effect.
They also performed a cover of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy” — giving the rap tune a totally new spin. Loved this version!:
Brooklyn band (and CMJ 2011 TMA fave) Young Magic also performed, although my enjoyment of their performance was severely hampered by the unbelievable bass-heavy sound system at Webster Hall, which literally had me dry heaving b/c my vocal cords were bouncing against one another with every surge of Young Magic’s drum machine. If you stand front and center at the main stage of that venue, and the band happens to be bass heavy, you are in for a world of pain. Every time a song would start and the bass kicked in, my stomach would hold on to the rest of my body for dear life. I kept thinking – “I don’t want to die at Webster Hall!” (Can someone, for the love of god, fix that sound system?)
I love me some HAIM. Never has stuttering been so damn appealing:
Kinda feeling this song by English up-and-comer Charli XCX this AM:
I mean c’mon, this song, “Pilgrim” is kinda amazing:
AND she’s Danish… so therefore she’s being touted as the “Danish Grimes.”
But really, aren’t we all the Danish Grimes?
I remember a time when I would be headed out to a show around 9 or 10 and someone in my family would say with exasperation, “I can’t believe you’re going out this late!” and I would kinda scoff and roll my eyes and think, “OMG, IT’S NOT EVEN LATE!” as I rushed out the door to meet my friends.
Today, as I was putting on my Chucks in my apartment at 8:50pm in preparation to head over to Bowery Electric to catch a 9:20 set by JJAMZ for CMJ, I found myself thinking, “OH MY GOD it’s so late! I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M GOING OUTSIDE.” As I made my way over to the venue this was the running loop of commentary:
“Why are there so many people outside?”
“How can that girl walk in those shoes?”
“Aren’t those girls cold? They’re not even wearing jackets!”
“Are those people eating ice cream? Should they be eating so close to their bedtime?”
“That girl looks like she’s on her way to a nightclub!”
The reason I found myself asking those questions has one very simple answer: I am old and never go out, so the idea that other people are out when I’m normally in bed watching last night’s “Daily Show” on Hulu is kinda a foreign concept to me. (BTW – The answers to those questions are: “Because it’s not even 9 o’clock.” “She can’t.” “They are drunk.” “Their bedtime is nowhere near.” “I believe it’s called a ‘bar’.”)
Anyhoo, as I approached Bowery Electric, I noticed a mass of people outside: people in bands, people who looked like groupies of bands, people who looked like they might be from LA — yup, I was in the right place.
I headed down the stairs and up to the front of the stage just as JJAMZ was starting. Perfect tardy timing!
What can I say about JJAMZ that I haven’t already said? As predicted, the band was a pop-tastic experiment in peppy, toe-tapping tunes. That’s the great thing about supergroups — you’re pretty much guaranteed a solid time — these people have proven themselves in other musical outfits, and you kinda know what you are getting.
I’ve known about The Like for quite some time, but have never actually seen them perform, so much of my observation was focused on Elizabeth “Z” Berg, lead vocalist of The Like and more relevantly, of JJAMZ. It wouldn’t take a genius to make comparisons between the physical likeness that Z Berg has with rock icon Debbie Harry, but I’m going have to go on record right now as noticing because it is a bit uncanny.
The chin-length blonde hair, the defined cheekbones, the perfectly pursed lipsticked lips, the lone lady in a band of dudes — all the pieces are all there. Wearing a pair of fire engine red hot pants, a snug fitting short-sleeved sweater with a bicycle printed on it, and a pair of deadly stiletto boots, Z Berg seemed to unabashedly be playing the part of indie rock pin-up girl, which for some reason (justified or not) seemed to me to be appropriate “LA” of her.
With a girlish voice, that got rough around the edges during the end of phrases, even vocally Berg seemed to be channeling her patron saint of music. (My assumption that Debbie Harry is someone she looks up to is not without proof — earlier this year she told Harper’s Bazaar that her personal style is “somewhere between Twiggy, Debbie Harry and Cher Horowitz.”) I’m not sure if her onstage pouts, frequent hair tousling, satisfied just-woke-up-from-bed stretches were designed to give me a clear indication of what Berg must be like in bed, but that’s what they achieved.
At one point a dubious beer-bellied character wearing no shirt, got on stage between songs and soy bombed the JJAMZ set with a plug for a booze for charity event he (or someone) was running at the upstairs bar, after which Michael Runion quipped, “Hey Z Berg, someone who is wearing less clothes than you on stage!”
There set was over after 7 or so songs — their time was up, and they were headed to Santos for another gig. I was headed towards the door as soon as the last chord was strummed by Alex Greenwald.
Believe it or not, this will be the 11th CMJ I’ve attended (yes, that’s right, I started going to CMJ when I was 11 years old. Amazing, I know). During the time I first started attending the annual event, things were very different. CMJ felt really really important to me at the time — this was the age of Napster, and the Velvet Rope message board, and loads of other stuff that will make me feel old to remember them. This was before SXSW blew up and Coachella was a two-week affair. It was where I was introduced to bands like the Walkmen, Interpol, Ida Maria, Hospitality, and more recently, bands like Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Grimes, and Purity Ring, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.
So every year, without fail, I dust off my old lady body and try to stay up late with the kids for a few nights. Here are the bands worth me dragging my lazy behind out the door and into the brisk NYC fall weather:
I’ve been keen on this Kiwi outfit since catching their album, Electric Hawaii, on the Rdio new releases list. The collaboration between Kody Nielson and Bic Runga has produced some wonderfully beachy, laid-back tunes that in their poppier moments remind me of the opening credit soundtrack for a 1960s screwball romantic comedy.
10/18 – Pianos: 9pm
10/20 – Pianos: 4pm (Free Bowery Presents CMJ showcase)
10/20 – Cakeshop: 9:45pm
My knowledge of Sky Ferreira extended to her being some model who somehow always seems to end up in Terry Richardson’s photos, so I was honestly surprised to find out that she also (apparently) has a budding music career, with an EP coming out on Capitol Records this week. I was even more amazed that the single “Everything Is Embarrassing” is actually very very good — with its seductive ’80s sensitive pop ballad throw-back vibe.
10/18 – Bowery Ballroom: 8pm
10/20 – Pianos: 5pm (Free!)
This two-person songwriting team (Erin Fein and Brett Sanderson) produces music that leans synth-mysterious (I realize that’s not a real musical genre). For some reason they sound like Warpaint meets Neon Indian.
Night of 10/16 – Pianos: 1:20am
10/20 – Pianos: 9:45pm
BTW, the CMJ schedule is totally wrong, they are on at 1:20am according to this tweet from Lefse Records:
— Lefse Records (@LefseRecords) October 3, 2012
Little Green Cars
This group of Dubliners have got a pleasing toe-tapping quality to their fellow Glassnote Records labelmates, Mumford and Sons. Their pedigree is impressive, having worked on recording their debut album this summer with producer Markus Dravs (who has also worked with Mumford and Sons, Coldplay). This month will be the first time they will be performing in the US. Looking forward to see them live!
October 16: New York, NY – The Living Room (WFUV Presents)
October 17: New York, NY – The Slipper Room (Glassnote Official Showcase)
October 18: New York, NY – Openhouse Gallery (GOOGLE MUSICIANS GALLERY)
October 20: New York, NY – Pianos (Bowery Presents)
Fellow Montreal native GRIMES is a fan, so I think you can imagine what they sound like. I saw somewhere on the internet someone describe them as the XX, but happier, and it’s a pretty fair assessment.
10/17 – Shea Stadium
10/19 – Arlene’s Grocery
10/20 – Death by Audio
What would a CMJ be nowadays without a superband performing? This time the collage of talent comes from a California base — comprised of Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes), James Valentine (Maroon 5), Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet), Michael Runion (solo) and Z Berg (The Like). Their resume’s are impressive. Expect solid pop music to please your ears.
October 17 @ The Brooklyn Bowl (The Hype Machine Showcase) – 7 PM
October 18 @ The Bowery Electric (The Audio Perv Showcase) – 9:20 PM
October 19 @ The Studio at Webster Hall (CAA Showcase) – 10 PM (headlining)
October 20 @ Spike Hill in Williamsburg (Baeble Music Showcase) – 9 PM
Wow. Can you believe it? Everyone made it through the second night of Jack White‘s two-gig stint at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall.
No one got yelled at! No one got booed at! No one got stabbed! No one got shot! No one got called a NPR listener! An amazing, heroic job by all. I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty sure everyone who was there will be nominated for a Nobel Peace Price. *Buffs nails on shoulder* Just sayin’. Is group Catholic sainthood even a thing? Because it should be after this show.
All kidding aside, tonight’s show went very different than last night’s 50 minute set/mini-audience riot. This one went on with no incident for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Jack and his lady band (the Peacocks) played about an hour long regular set, went off stage for 5 mins and promptly came back to bang out another 15 minutes or so, ending the night just around 10:30pm.
As soon as Jack set foot on the stage, the audience rose to their feet and did not sit down the entire time. A clap-along began during “We’re Going to Be Friends” but slowly petered out half way. The crowd was re-energized by the hard rockin’ ditties “Freedom at 21” and “Sixteen Saltines.”
Jack said not one word to the audience except for “Thank you” right before he and the band too their final bows. I found this a bit strange — he normally does do a little bit of banter, and almost always introduces the band — but none of that tonight. It was strictly business as they powered through the set, with gusto and precision, but lacking that special something that separates the good shows from the great shows.
When I saw Jack and the Buzzards before a few months ago at the Wiltern in LA, Jack was whizzing and whirling around the stage, sliding to his knees, jumping on top of the bass drum, and chatting every once and again to the crowd. Tonight it seemed like he was a little bit more reserved — towards the end of the set on classic jams like “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground” and “Ball and a Biscuit,” he would add a little flair to his guitar solos, but not nearly the level of swagger I’m accustomed to seeing.
Got to admit, I was a little nervous when Jack and co went offstage after the regular set:
— miss modernage (@themodernageorg) October 1, 2012
I started getting even more paranoid when I thought I heard the slightest hint of booing (probably me projecting).
But luckily they came back!
— miss modernage (@themodernageorg) October 1, 2012
All in all a solid show, well worth the price of admission. It was TB’s very first Jack White show (and first show at Radio City!) and he really enjoyed it, saying “that’s just awesome” when Jack was on piano, and commenting how great of a musician he is. Success!
I’m pretty sure I saw Jack do this as he left the stage:
Uh oh. Sounds like the sh*t went down. On the first night of his two night stand at Radio City Music Hall, Jack White and his band played a 50 minute set, at the end of which they left the stage…and did not return. After about 30 minutes of trying to get an encore, the announcer came on stage and told the show-goers that the gig was over and that they should leave. That is when people started freaking out, chanting “F*ck you, Jack!” and “We like Meg better anyway!”
Needless to say, the angry masses took to Twitter with their protests, typing out all types of snarky swipes (some more eloquent than others) and venting their boiling, uncontainable rage for the GALL of Jack White to only play a 50 minute set. Has everyone completely lost their minds and forgotten that a normal White Stripes set could be just over one hour?
I too would be disappointed that the show had not been longer, but people, since when was it a rule that a performer come back to the stage if he doesn’t want to? Last time I checked it was a free country.
This quote gives you a little hint as to why he did not come back:
“Jesus Christ, is this an NPR convention?” – Jack White at Radio City
— Jessica Misener (@jessmisener) September 30, 2012
Which I would interpret in Jack-speak to mean “This crowd is horrible and sitting there with their arms folded, seemingly not enjoying anything and/or using their cell phones even though we’ve asked them not to.”
Later someone else tweeted that he heard that Jack was not happy with the sound at the venue and didn’t want to continue. I would guess that’s it could have been a combination of both.
As White Stripes fans know — Jack has a long history of calling fans out on bad behavior/vibes. (Remember when he called a bunch of guys at a White Stripes Roseland show “frat f*ckers”? Classic. Or how about when he berated the crowd at Bowery Ballroom in 2002 for being “too cool for school”?)
But honestly folks, if you were in his shoes, and you were unhappy with either the crowd or the sound, would you really feel obligated to go out there and but on a brave face in the midst of crappy conditions? I know people are disappointed, but what they have to understand is that Jack does not do this at EVERY show — when I saw him play at the Wiltern in LA a few months back, he was in a great mood and the show was really really awesome.
And seriously, we all know that the second night of a Jack White show is always better than the first. NEVER GO TO THE FIRST SHOW (if you can only go to one). Have we ALL forgotten the lessons that we’ve learned over the years? It was only a few months ago that Jack did something very special the second night of his two-night series at Roseland. How soon we forget…
I know I’m sounding like I’m blaming the “victims” but really, you are not victims if you have enough discretionary income to blow some mildly mad stacks on a fancy concert. News flash: you are angry privileged people. Get over it.
Well, tomorrow night will be interesting. Hopefully everyone will be in better spirits. Including the crowd.
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