don't you tell me how i feel.

i likes what i sees by v
November 4, 2013, 7:19 am
Filed under: badass, Shit I love, Shows | Tags: , ,


Last week I finally got to see Thee Oh Sees, who have topped my please-tour-in-NYC list for some time, at Irving Plaza (only to discover that they later added a Brooklyn show, which rankled a bit).

But fiiiiirst, the openers. Minneapolis-based The Blind Shake were pretty straightforward rock — supershort songs, ample shouting, nary a bass in sight. No complaints from me.

More objectionable were OBN IIIs, an Austin band with a frontman whose obvious Iggy Pop aspirations ruined them for me in the first two minutes (no offense to Mr. Pop). He played no instruments and his voice was nothing to write home about — instead, his role was to fist pump, play air guitar, stage dive, heckle the audience, and engage in every other rock ‘n’ roll trope imaginable. So I hated him, but his band was actually great. Maybe they’ll wise up.

Thee Oh Sees were every bit the hyper-professionals I expected: John Dwyer is an insane guitar vituoso, Brigid Dawson’s harmonies are clearly the secret weapon, and the entire band sounds like they’re tripping over themselves to get through the songs — you almost feel like you can’t breathe, it’s so dizzyingly fast (but always masterfully executed). Also, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so quite many crowd surfers or beer cups thrown at a show.

Unfortunately, the band had some sound issues that resulted in an encoreless set, and Dwyer started verbally lambasting the sound guy for texting during the performance instead of resolving the problem. Immediately after the show, you could see him onstage still yelling and gesturing angrily over it.

You can see better images of the show here.



mr. self destruct by v

photo-13Teeny tiny Trent & co. from the top of the Barclays Center

I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t gotten around to buying the new Nine Inch Nails record until yesterday, on the heels of their Hesitation Marks-heavy Barclays Center show on Monday night in Brooklyn. Yes, I saw them less than a month ago at Made in America in Philly, but a greatest-hits festival performance this was not. Instead, it made clear to latecomers like me that the recent singles hardly scratch the surface of Marks, which apparently comes complete with soulful female backup vocalists (a first!) and Trent’s version of a slow jam. But the new stuff also had its share of familiar moments — “Find My Way” finds Mr. Reznor “whoooaing” over that now-classic eerily clear psycho piano.

Of course, they played all of the old standbys: “Terrible Lie,” “March of the Pigs,” “Wish,” etc. The big surprise for me was song two of the encore, which was preceded by Trent expressing his amazement that the band has lasted this long…then explaining that he didn’t want to get “too positive” before launching into “Even Deeper” off of The Fragile. Haaa.

All of this was accompanied by an elaborate light show that was quasi-visible from our perch at the very top of the arena (although I assure you that Trent’s arm definition remains discernible from the nosebleediest of nosebleed seats).

deerly beloved by v
September 23, 2013, 7:27 am
Filed under: Shit I love, Shows | Tags: ,



Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Deerhunter, fronted by the prolific Bradford Cox, at Webster Hall in New York. Admittedly, I’m a new-ish fan of the band, but my lack of familiarity with their back catalog didn’t dampen the experience.

While your typical concert follows a song-banter-song formula, there were hardly any silent moments in Deerhunter’s set; waves of feedback and noise linked one song to the next in an unbroken wash of sound. That, plus the light show that reduced the band to eerie yellow silhouettes, created a certain theatricality I hadn’t expected. Watching Cox perform, it also became clear that his vocal style is much more unusual than I’d ever noticed on the record — it’s more like a series of sibilant professions than it is singing in the classic sense, and I can’t think of anyone with a comparable delivery.

The set list leaned heavily on this year’s Monomania and 2010’s Halcyon Digest (the dreamy “Helicopter” was transcendent live), culminating in an encore that pulled three songs from the new record and found Cox shedding his mop-top Beatles wig during a frenzied guitar solo.

Less exciting were Crystal Stilts, a band I’ve been hearing about for years but never actually listened to. It’s possible I just missed out on their heyday (Frankie Rose used to drum for them, after all), but this was about as lackluster a performance as I could imagine — a friend compared it to driving through a school zone. No emotion, no movement, just an indifferent “thanks” at the end of the set. Note to band: If you don’t care, I won’t either.

red, white and beyonce by v

Beyonce, larger than life

Last weekend’s Made in America festival was clearly designed to appeal to the ladies of DYTMHIF, with unlikely co-headliners Beyonce and Nine Inch Nails capping off two sweaty days of music in Philly. Here, the quick roundup of the awesome and the less so.

The scene: Scads of scantily clad women and more patriotic garb than expected, not to mention men in tutus, an appearance by Spiderman, and more than one set of Deadmau5-inspired rodent ears. It also became clear that “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” is the T-shirt slogan of the summer. Can someone explain this?

The good: A solid set by Public Enemy, including a surprisingly coherent Flavor Flav. A skirt-wearing Wiz Khalifa shouting out his fellow potheads and bringing his lady Amber Rose onstage at the end of a solid set. Thomas Mars of Phoenix crowd-surfing like a boss.

Flav introduces his grandson

The not-so-good: Queens of the Stone Age, who managed to be simultaneously cheesy, boring and dickish. Ridiculous water lines on day one that apparently resulted in angry chants from dehydrated folk (note: this was resolved by Sunday). Imagine Dragons. Period.

The embarrassing: Oh, Macklemore. A five-minute lead-in to “Thrift Shop” that involved pointing out audience members’ quirky clothing didn’t win you any fans…nor did your reference to cheesesteak. Also, A$AP Rocky’s abridged performance after he showed up 20+ minutes late.

The amazing: This goes without saying, but Beyonce — talk about an electric presence. The lady destroyed, with the aid of seven spangly costume changes, elaborate video interludes, sparks cascading onto the stage and gold glitter blown onto the audience. I have experienced pop heaven.


The other amazing: Trent Reznor, who is rapidly approaching 50, hasn’t been softened by age or fatherhood. The now-hulking Nine Inch Nails mastermind can still tap into an endless reserve of angst onstage, with every line delivered through gritted teeth. The highlight of the night was easily “Somewhat Damaged” off The Fragile — all those layers of furious percussion blasting out across the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Thanks, Jay-Z!

The weekend… by don't you tell me how i feel.
September 2, 2013, 2:33 am
Filed under: badass, Shit I love, Shows, trent, wow | Tags: , ,



…looked something like this.

mr. ed by v


This weekend I saw Ed Schrader’s Music Beat — the Baltimore duo who I praised on this blog not long ago — at 285 Kent in Brooklyn, which was as bizarre and riveting a show as expected. The band was second to last, sandwiched between headliner Ceremony, who I’d never heard of and didn’t stick around for, and Give, who were busy making everyone miserable when we arrived. Give were a clear grunge-era throwback, a bunch of guitar-wielding dudes in long hair and shorts thrashing around behind a singer whose range was limited, to put it nicely. I wish I’d left for the show about 20 minutes later, but Schrader, thankfully, didn’t disappoint.

Their setup is deceptively simple: Schrader plays a single drum that he lights from below, giving his face that classic haunted-flashlight effect. For accompaniment, there’s bassist Devlin Rice, shouting along as needed. At first glance, both look like they just got off of a shift at Kinko’s — Schrader with his tucked-in polo shirt, Rice in nerdy glasses. But the instant soundcheck ended, you could tell this was no joke.

Schrader slams out beats and sings with near-scary concentration, each song an intense sub-three-minute burst. It’s clear that much of the band’s appeal comes from Schrader’s theatricality (unblinking eyes and lots of shamanlike hand motions) and chameleonlike voice, which shifts seamlessly from a punk shout to a low, slow rumble. A man with a lesser set of pipes — or one who broke character, ever — couldn’t pull this off.

On another throwback note, during their set I found myself (inadvertently) in the middle of a mosh pit for the first time in years. Ugh.

More Ed Schrader here

bore-o y moi by v
July 18, 2013, 7:44 am
Filed under: eh, Shows | Tags: , ,



Last week I caught Toro y Moi at House of Vans, an indoor skate park in Brooklyn. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much, given his just-okay show at Webster Hall a few months back, but it was free…so there’s that.

This performance proved that the same issues persist: Chazwick Bundick, a stellar producer, has made excellent albums at home — as in by himself, on his computer — and doesn’t seem to have quite figured out how to translate that excellence live. Invariably, the details get muddied, the songs all start to sound more or less the same, and it becomes clear that his voice isn’t his strong suit — a fact that I happily overlook on the records. Oh well. In the right context, he’s great.

The show’s opener, a portly, Biggie-channeling rapper called Jonwayne, was only notable in that he berated the crowd repeatedly for not playing along with a call-and-response thing he was trying to get going. Way to win fans!

More interesting was the second act, San Francisco-based beatmaker Shlomo. I’d never heard of him, but nearly everyone else in the skate park completely freaked out when he went on. Have a listen:

thanks to jai for the photooooos