April 27, 2012
Fresh off of back-to-back weekends at Coachella, Manchester's WU LYF stormed Brooklyn for rousing renditions of highlights from their excellent debut Go Tell Fire to the Mountain. By now, the mash-up comparison or Wolf Parade meets Explosions in the Sky may be getting redundant (hey, if you can think of something better let me know), but the guitars tonight certainly did their best to rival the post-rock legends and the accompanying howls ricocheted off the walls of the venue. While the band was limited to brief material (this is why bands with one album get overplayed and burnt out too fast), they still poured endless energy into each track and believe it or not, the growling vocals from a visceral Ellery Roberts continued beyond the songs and into the chatter setting an even deep tone to the show. "Spitting Blood" and "Concrete Gold" were delivered without a hitch, and a stellar "Heavy Pop" brought the main set to a close before the band returned for a laid back "Brooklyn Girls" and a night ending thunderous execution of "We Bros". The crowd responded with, at times surprising and unwanted, vigor and echoed along in the band's chants. Having few enough tunes to be able to play every wanted jam, there was little room for disappointment, but many in the past have not been able to hold up to the hype. World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation did not unleash a life changing performance, and albeit they brought they were followed by some over joyous fans, and still their admiration and ability to bring some yells into a pop mix are without question worth the indulgence.
April 24, 2012
The dust has cleared, the sun has set, the feelings of heat stroke have worn off and Coachella 2012 is in the books. Unless you're living under a rock (or you don't care about music), you've probably heard that Coachella expanded to two weekends this year fully stocked with identical line-ups and after rave reviews from weekend one, the bar was set high for the weekend two. With temperatures rising to over 100 degrees, the pristine Empire Polo Fields welcomed the masses to the desert.
Capturing sets from every band over the weekend would take too much brain power to recall in full and you'd lose interest half-way through day 1, so I'll just hit up the highlights. Things kicked off Friday afternoon with sets from Yuck, Neon Indian - "It's so hot my fingers sizzle when I touch my keyboard" (that's not a song, he said that), Jimmy Cliff covering Rancid's "Ruby Soho" and the Clash's "Guns of Brixton", GIRLS - melting the audience with "Vomit", and Arctic Monkeys before we were treated to the heavy hitters. Brit-pop gods Pulp, who were playing their last scheduled show in North America, put on one of, if not the best, sets of the weekend as Jarvis Cocker sprinted from end to end of the main stage and delivered possibly the best performance by a front man I've ever seen. With unparalleled energy, the wiry Brit chatted up a storm between songs and before delivering an epic, song of the weekend, "Common People". From there it was the Outdoor Stage for the stellar combination of Mazzy Star, Explosions in the Sky - another contender for best set of the weekend, and the reunited Refused - see Pulp and Explosions in the Sky. The mind blowing magnitude of "Fade into You" in the desert followed by a powerful April 20th performance by EitS climaxing with "New Noise" is not a night I will soon forget.
As temperatures blazed on, Saturday saw an energetic Azealia Banks give tribute to Amy Winehouse by covering "Valerie" (she later covered the Prodigy's "Firestarter"...), tUnE-yArDs power through non-stop sensations from her fantastic W H O K I L L, Andrew Bird bringing Annie Clark onstage for a crooning duet, Jeff Mangum who still brought me nearly to tears by once again engulfing the audience in pure serenity, St. Vincent thrash on guitar before a kick-ass stage dive, Flying Lotus, Bon Iver - seeing the transition from a small church in London to the pre-Radiohead slot at Coachella is a crazy thing and while "Skinny Love" was awesome, "Beth/Rest" was not, and then there was Radiohead. The best live band on the planet rocked out as tight as ever playing classic after classic (all post-The Bends songs) and nailed each track with such power and greatness, the one-two punch of "Pyramid Song" and "You and Whose Army?" was particularly mind bending. Video screens floated above the band, backed with Clive Deamer on drums, and erratic lights dazzled from all sides. Thom Yorke danced like a wind-up doll, relentless energy keeping the audience hanging on every note.
Santigold got things moving on Sunday before a perfect mid-afternoon set of breezy jams from Real Estate. Wild Flag tore up the Outdoor Stage just prior to the Hives recalling early 2000s glory with their garage rock revival jams that still pack a punch a decade after they crashed into the states. Decked in tuxedos the Swedes rocked with the charm and poise that heralded their fame from day one. As the sun descended on the final eve of the Weekend, the Weeknd made luxurious and sultry R&B that doused a scorching crowd. Abel's smoked out and silky vocals hit the limit as he closed out with "House of Girls / Glass Table Girls" and swooned off into the sunset. Justice brought the house down with their neon † firmly in place on the Main Stage before the crowds swarmed for the explosive reunion of At the Drive-In. Cedric Bixler-Zavala slithered the stage inbetween leaps from the stacks of speakers. As the crowd for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog grew by the second, the hip-hop legends took to the stage with a blazing vengeance immediately launched into "The Next Episode". A star powered performance ensued, featuring 50 Cent performing "P.I.M.P." and "In Da Club" and Eminem delivery a raw "Forgot About Dre". Dre and Snoop rocked "Nothin' But A 'G' Thang" and "California Love" to supreme approval and of course, there was Tupac. The now infamous, and underwhelming (yes, I said it) hologram resurrected 'Pac for two brief tracks before disappearing to endless screams of devotion, however the forever-young Tupac throwing down rhymes with an obviously aged Snoop left some unsettling feelings.
Of course there were other highlights like hearing Noel Gallagher dish out the classic "Don't Look Back in Anger", the Buzzcocks tear up "What Do I Get?" and the howl of WU LYF among others while doing simple things like wait in line for the bathroom that made the festival in the desert live up to its legendary status, but it is more than just the bands that made the trip to the desert so memorable, it's the experience and the idea that music can bring together thousands of people for a lost weekend in paradise.
April 17, 2012
Bloom, Beach House's beautiful follow-up to the stunning Teen Dream is not expected to be released until May 15th. However, if you do some advanced Google searches, you may be able to avoid the wait. In the meantime, enjoy "Lazuli" which will see a physical release this coming weekend for Record Store Day.
April 10, 2012
Hardcore hip-hop act Death Grips will release their debut album The Money Store on April 24th as a follow-up to last year's Exmilitary mix-tape (no, I don't know the difference between an album and a mix-tape either). Check out the first single "I've Seen Footage", which points the group in a retro-80's workout direction (think Salt N Pepa / Run-DMC) below, via Tiny Mix Tapes.
April 1, 2012
The 1990s were alive and well last night at Bowery Ballroom as Swervedriver came to New York for their most recent round of reunion shows. Armed with an extensive, and somehow under appreciated, discography, the U.K. quartet made the most of the venue's pristine sound system and delivered a stunning performance. While the group was originally associated with shoegaze acts such as My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and Ride, their eye contact with the crowd and blend of dreamy/psych-rock with early alternative allowed them to really expand their sound on later records. Kicking things off with Mezcal Head classic "Last Train to Satansville", the band unleashed walls of sound that were complemented with rocketing solos and scratchy, washed out video clips blanketed the band during their hour and a half set. With little words to the crowd, the band powered on submerging their vocals in a haze of guitar and touched upon moments that reached all the way back to their terrific debut, Raise. Even before returning for a three song encore, the crowd was erupting with cheers for some of their quintessential anthems and proving that while they might not be met with the same love as those other shoegaze legends, Swervedriver still left their mark on the scene.