September 25, 2012

Grizzly Bear played Radio City Music Hall

Let me take a stab at this, for those who watched Grizzly Bear arrive on the scene with Horn of Plenty, grow into a muscular cub on Yellow House and mature into amazing talent with the breath-taking Veckatimest and Shields, you have been apart of a special journey. What started out as a bedroom project from front man Ed Droste, has evolved into one of the most majestic and sumptuous bands of the last decade. Radio City marked their largest hometown show yet, and the band proved their worthiness of such an honor. Things kicked off with "Speak In Rounds" which cascaded beautifully into "Adelma" before an epic "Sleeping Ute" and then the band really hit their stride. The group was backed with pulsating lanterns that floated angelically throughout the evening and shifted into striking patterns as the quartet delivered awe-inspiring renditions of tracks from each of their fantastic albums. Complex rhythms were unleashed with impecable timing, slicing guitars slashed along arresting harmonies, and Chris Bear delivered spectacular drum fills that resonated to the top tiers of the theater. Everything from "Lullabye" to "Cheerleader" to "A Simple Answer" was performed with such confidence and dexterity that it seems rather surprising this is not one of the biggest bands in the world. When the opening notes of "Two Weeks" began to ring out, people lept to their feet and immediately vibed to the supreme melodies and the show rocketed to another level. The ability to craft such wonderful and dynamic songs was enhanced by their extraordinary raw talent and perfect flow from moments of thunderous crashes to times of suspended elation. For the encore, the band eased into their breakout hit "Knife" beginning with delicate warped vocals before allowing the song to burst into a magnificent eruption of colossal beauty. To close out the evening, Grizzly Bear stripped things down to their pristine acoustic essentials for a tear evoking version of "All We Ask" and proved that they will always, not just sometimes, make it look easy.

Speak In Rounds
Sleeping Ute
Yet Again
Ready, Able
A Simple Answer
While You Wait For The Others
What's Wrong
Two Weeks
Half Gate
Sun In Your Eyes
On a Neck, On a Spit
All We Ask

* bottom photo courtesy of Emilysaur

September 21, 2012

Lightning Bolt played 285 Kent

For over a decade, noise duo Lightning Bolt have been massacring ear drums with their astounding records and even more relentless live performances. As always, the band was in top shape as they annihilated 285 Kent leaving heaps of sweat and fury in their trail. Behind the drum kit, Brian Chippendale is an absolute machine and his jackhammer style onsalught is unmatched by any other person in modern music. The sheer force and terror with which he plays is of a caliber all his own. Their live display has been likened to standing next to a demolition site or jumbo-jet at close range and three times during their set they blew a fuse leaving Chippendale to carry out frantic drum solos shrouded in blackness. You think you've seen some stellar pits until you're in the dark at a warehouse with that man pummeling away until Kingdom Come. Not to go unnoticed, Brian Gibson used his bass to spark the powder keg of pure energy unleashed by the band that ignited the audience into total chaos in just a matter of seconds. Without the slightest look of effort, Gibson's assault was pure distorted bedlam and the ear-splitting frequencies are nothing short of a jaw-dropping experience. The intensity of a live performance from these legends is an unparalleled experience that few will dare to replicate and while the magnitude and nature of their style is not for everyone, those who care to indulge will be converted to their brilliance. For over an hour, these two proved that they are true masters of their craft and are a sonic force to be reckoned with.

*Photo courtesy of Griffin Sandberg

September 15, 2012

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti played Webster Hall

Ariel Marcus Rosenberg (not to be confused with yours truly) led his band of merry pranksters through a sideshow performance that highlighted his excellent new album Mature Themes. Pink kicked off the evening with "Symphony of the Nymph" which included snippets of "Love Me Do" and then jammed through album highlights "Mature Themes" and the psychedelic guitar riffed "Only in My Dreams". Haunted Graffiti were locked in rhythm and did an excellent job catering to Ariel's typical stage antics which included attempts to swallow the microphone, dangling the mic in front of speakers for feedback, and using the mic as a mallet to smack various objects on stage (including R. Stevie Moore's beard which was dyed Smurf blue). The letters A P H G, which were assembled from PVC piping and strung with Christmas lights, acted as the backdrop for the show along with some of the most strange and sensational videos I've seen in quite some time. Kaleidoscopes of tongues, porn/MySpace pictures, and the faces of various celebrity which women morphed into each other (ala the end of Michael Jackson's epic "Black or White" music video) during "Menopause Man". After his past two releases, Ariel Pink has been idolized as a new studio genius, a man able to make outstanding records that act as some of the finest tributes to the 60s and 70s, or pop music in general (I cant think of another pop singer named Pink with similar color hair!) in recent memory. His ability to recreate warm A.M. pop tunes is unlike that of anyone else, and yet while his band does an unquestionably great job of making these tracks sound stunning live, you still have to wonder how much Ariel Pink enjoys performing. With his near infamous Coachella meltdown behind him, he still doesn't make much effort to woo the crowd (example: not playing the hit "Round and Round") and one may wonder if his confidence exists outside the recording booth. While those thoughts lingered, the man still put on an entertaining show. His face grimaced and contorted to make all of those bizarre vocals, he pranced around the stage smoking cigarettes, and for a guy that his a song entitled "Schnitzel Boogie", what other kind of live show should one really expect?

September 13, 2012

Chelsea Light Moving played 285 Kent

Remember no-wave? That awesome blend of post-punk/college rock/noise that emerged in the mid 1980s and was pioneered by that band Sonic Youth? Well, much to the disappointment of many indie music fans, that band went on an indefinite hiatus last year when leaders Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon divorced after 27 years of marriage. While there is no sign of seeing these titans grace the stage together anytime soon, there is some light up ahead! Thurston Moore has assembled a new band called Chelsea Light Moving and they make music that sounds a lot like the kind of music you would hope a former member of Sonic Youth would make if he were to start a new band and make music. Ear splitting bursts of guitar filled 285 Kent (part of a benefit for Tom Carter) as Thurston and company powered through material despite not even releasing a debut record. For those never able to see Sonic Youth in their prime years, this show was a special treat. The D.I.Y. ethos behind the Brooklyn venue seemed to be a perfect match for this punk luminary. It was everything you would hope from the noise legend and the show really proved just how influential this man is on the current state of indie rock. Gut wrenching guitar squeals were met with a thudding rhythm section, soul crushing feedback, distorted lo-fi textures and with no banter between tracks, the attention was all on the songs. While each member of the band certainly held their own, the night (and band) clearly belong to the beloved Mr. Moore. Thurston's fingers slithered up and down the guitar neck in such a frantic manner, yet the cacophony resulted in perfect fuzzed out bliss. His display of abrasive atonal sounds were nothing short of thrilling and if there was any doubt about the musical state of Thurston Moore beyond Sonic Youth, Chelsea Light Moving will let the music speak for itself.

September 6, 2012

Atoms for Peace - "Default"

Atoms for Peace (you know, that band featuring Thom Yorke, Flea, and Nigel Godrich) dropped a new single today titled "Default". The track is available on iTunes now and will be released by XL Recordings on September 10. Stream it below via We All Want Someone.