Japanese Breakfast and Eskimeaux

I saw Eskimeaux play a joint set with Japanese Breakfast last night at Shea Stadium in East Williamsburg. It was a lovely and magical evening! I went with the lovely Cassidy who danced enthusiastically and fell deeply in love with Japanese Breakfast. I’d seen Eskimeaux many a time before but had never seen Japanese Breakfast and enjoyed her set so much. They actually did a joint set kinda thing which was cool and different. Listen to their beautiful music and enjoy Eskimeaux’s funny little music video!

Concert Review: Pinegrove, Kevin Devine and Petal

This night was magical, and I shall tell you why.

Petal opened and was absolutely lovely. Ben from Tigers Jaw was playing with her which surprised me (pleasantly). Her songs are introspective and delicate and her voice is beautiful. A highlight of Petal’s set was a very very pretty rendition of “Home” by Talking Heads. She also addressed the election and how each band on the tour cares deeply about their shows being safe places where everyone can feel better not shittier. “Don’t let the bad man from New York” ruin this, she told us. Since the election I’ve struggled to be around people or in spaces that don’t acknowledge the huge shift in our realities that occurred a month ago. It was nice that each band did mention that they see part of their jobs as musicians to bring love into the world during a painful time.

I’ve seen Kevin Devine twice before, and he’s always excellent. Kevin is a super multi-faceted musician with beautiful, poetic lyrics. He pulls off Leonard Cohen/Jackson Frank singer-songwriter so well but also puts on a very energetic and fun rock show when he’s playing with his band. Kevin pleased the crowd with a mix of solo stuff including a beautiful song about his family and growing up and also energetic Goddamn Band songs. The crowd was super into it and sang along enthusiastically. He also sang a stunning and heartbreaking cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel.”

I saved Pinegrove for last because we save best for last. Even though they played second they were the best and it was pretty clear that most of the people at the show were there for Pinegrove (or at least that their fans were louder). Evan was so taken aback by the love they got that he told us more than once he was struggling to sing against his smile. Each song was beautiful and played with such energy, care and love. Every member of the band was smiling brightly. I hadn’t realized what a fantastic guitarist Evan is, and it was special and dope to watch him play. The crowd was ecstatic. Everyone sang, everyone smiled big and everyone showed love and care for one another. Pinegrove also mentioned the election and asked that those singing their songs about “all kinds of love, platonic love, romantic love, familial love” try and be true to the lyrics and bring more love into the world. Music and love make me so happy. Pinegrove makes me happy.

The whole show made me happy.

And then after the show my friend and I found the most beautiful wooden, wicker chair in a trash pile in the east village. We rescued it and took it on the long journey uptown on the NQR, through times sq station, and all the way up to 116th.

Magical! I know!

Concert Review: Marc Ribot and Ceramic Dog at The Stone

So I’m interning for WKCR (89.9FM New York or online at wkcr.com) Columbia’s PREMIER radio station and also the first FM station (kinda). It’s wonderful. Good people and great music and a legitimate commitment to noncommercial and alternative broadcasting. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying learning  and listening.

I’m interning for jazz and new music. The jazz department is really top notch but also maybe a little pretentious. The new music department is very kind and weird and wonderful. During one new music listening session a senior department member put on Ceramic Dog’s album Party Intellectuals, and it was so cool. I’d enjoyed Ribot’s guitar playing many a time before (mostly with Ribot y Los Cubanos), but I’d never heard it quite like that. Ches Smith’s wild drumming and the wonderfully emo and weird vocals brought it all home for me.

Sunday I went with some new music department people to see Ceramic Dog at The Stone, John Zorn’s space devoted wholly to experimental music. The Stone is a magical place that was enthusiastically introduced to me by KCR folks the minute I announced my intention to pursue new music. It was as cool as promised.

The show was wild. I was thoroughly engrossed by Ribot’s ingenious playing and Ches Smith’s absurd energy. The vocals they did were also pretty cool. Some creepy whispered vocals done by Ribot were notable. Ches Smith though was conceivably my favorite part of the show. His drumming was unlike most drumming I’d seen / heard before just for its sheer constant energy. Also that fucking bass . . .

Chick Corea and Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Sunday night I saw Chick Corea play with Gonzalo Rubalcaba at Blue Note jazz club in Greenwich Village. Chick is doing a residency at Blue Note for his 75th birthday party from October 19 thru December 11 which is incredible. Blue Note has even been advertising his residency as “The Greatest Jazz Birthday Party Ever.” I was skeptical of this branding, but it really was the greatest jazz birthday party ever, complete with Chick’s friends and wife, Gayle Moran, in the audience. The audience was also very into it–vocal and loud at the right times.

I don’t think there are two more fun pianists than Chick Corea and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Chick is just WILD. He’s a favorite of my mother who knows far more about jazz than me, but this does mean that I’ve been exposed to some cool stuff thanks to her. She and my dad have seen Chick a few times before together, and my mom has seen him play with a host of incredible musicians (including Herbie Hancock, Bela Fleck and Bobbie McFerrin to name a few). They were both still extremely impressed by his performance with Rubalcaba on Sunday. The two piano gods played a few loosely planned pieces but primarily improvised and jammed together. However, what was perhaps unplanned fell together into beautifully organized and composed pieces. Chick and Rubalcaba communicated with each other impeccably and filled each other’s silences flawlessly. It was pretty magical hearing the two grand pianos together, played by such incredible pianists. It often sounded like one four armed virtuoso was playing not two separate musical minds. It was also a beautiful sight, the two huge, shining black pianos on stage in the shape of a ying yang.

Some highlights of the night were Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire coming onstage to sing with Chick, “A Spanish Song” (not to be confused with “Spain”), and Gayle Moran coming onstage to sing 500 Miles High (he played 500 Miles High!!!). The crowd also broke into “Happy Birthday” for Chick which was very lovely.

It was a wonderful night! Listen to some Chick Corea and revel in his crazy, unique, out-of-control playing.

Diego El Cigala at SFJAZZ

El Cigala has had many transformations. He is always of course the Sinatra of flamenco and a shining star of Spain, but he has in the past been all flamenco, more jazz, and now he is trying a flamenco salsa mix with a largely Cuban band.

This evening I went with my family to see him with his current band at SFJAZZ. The band was lively and so was Cigala. They interacted with joy and excitement and all seemed to be in awe of each other. Cigala, throughout the show, craned his head to smile at his brilliant band members. They exuded energy and it rubbed off on the audience who itched to dance to the upbeat salsa/jazz/flameno medley. Many did get up and dance in the aisles something I doubt happens often at SFJAZZ which is a bit formal for its own good.

Cigala played a lively and long set. His voice rang clear and strong, echoing throughout the theatre with the immense power and emotion one can only hope for in flamenco. It was pretty remarkable. He sang some traditional Spanish and salsa songs which wooed a crowd full of Spanish speakers (it also tested my own Spanish which as it turns out is not as rusty as I thought). Cigala also was quite the charismatic character. He smiled and laughed at the audience often gesturing at women in the crowd. He really reminded me of the professors I had while living in Spain.

His band did likely steal the show though. Especially notable was his pianist, Jaime “Yumitos”Calabuch, who impressed the crowd. He exuded confidence with each note and had truly exceptional timing. Also notable were the two trombonists Richard Stella Prieto and Leo Aguirre Ocampo. The color and feel of the trombone in the salsa pieces was really unlike anything I’d heard before. So enjoyable.

It was a lovely evening full of remarkable music with my extraordinary family I’m lucky to have in my pretty city I’m lucky to call home.

Concert Review: Joyce Manor, The Hotelier, Crying

I just got back from seeing Joyce Manor with The Hotelier and Crying at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. We took the train to lovely Brooklyn which is always so nice. It usually goes a lot faster than expected, and then you’re suddenly in a totally different place. BK feels a lot like San Francisco to me because it’s lower and you can look out. Also lots of hipsters, gentrification, real estate wars and bicyclists. So some of the good and some of the bad.

We missed some of Crying’s set which was sad because I like them, but the songs we did hear were awesome. She has a sick voice and their music has a really unique sound (especially the electronic shit and the drums).

The Hotelier was okay. When I was a lot more emo/sad I really liked their album It Never Goes Out (2007), but I never really got into their other music. Unfortunately they really didn’t play anything off of said known album, and the stuff they did play I did not like as much. Also some asshole guys on the balcony were yelling mean things at the band and throwing beer which occasionally hit us. Nice! These asshole guys will make another appearance later in this review.

Joyce Manor was dope as always. I’ve seen them approximately 6 times including at tiny SF spaces like Amoeba and The Chapel. They were as fun as ever! Insane energy, crazy crowd, and Barry is always a great/engaging frontman. The friend who came with me to the show was laughing at me earlier in the night for saying I’m not emo/pop punk because, as she pointed out: “We’re here aren’t we!” However, my lack of knowledge of recently released Joyce Manor was proof of my no longer being (as) emo. I don’t know their most recently released two albums very well. I was also totally the person most excited in the crowd when they played shit off their demo. The new stuff was fun live, and I’ve listened to and enjoyed it before, but it’s not as good as ST or their other early stuff in my opinion. Every time I see them they play fewer of the songs I love which is sad, but tonight they did play Housewarming Party which could be my all time favorite song.

So it was a good show. However, unfortunately, aforementioned assholes threw a fucking folding chair down on the crowd from the balcony which hit me in the eye. My eye currently has a bump and is red and hurts. So fuck that. I hate when punk/rock/emo/pop punk shows get so rowdy that only a select few members of the crowd (usually larger men) get to have a fun time. Moshing, pushing, stage diving etc is dope but not when at the expense of others. And chair throwing is never chill . . . Literally fuck that. Music Hall of Williamsburg people were super cool about it though. They sent the manager out to say he was sorry and would take care of it. Apparently the guys were arrested.

Regardless of injuries it was a super fun show! Thank you BK! Thank you Joyce Manor! Thank you Music Hall of Williamsburg!

Also I’m listening to The Band while writing this, and it’s so damn good go listen.

Elvis Depressedly: Concert Review

I saw Elvis Depressedly tonight with Teen Suicide at the Swedish American Hall in the Castro. Here is my review.

I really love Elvis Depressedly. They’re just so cool. And it’s the perfect mellow music. It’s sad when you’re sad, but it’s also relaxing and has cute lyrics that make you smile. I started listening to them Sophomore year and saw them at Bottom of the Hill a little over a year ago. I think I discovered them through Run for Cover Records.

Tonight they played with Teen Suicide, a band I listened to a bit last year but don’t love nearly as much as Elvis. Elvis played a pretty short set but sounded SO good. Significantly better than they sounded at Bottom of the Hill (the sound was just a bit funky for that show, but they did play a few of my favorites). Their music goes a lot harder live (because he yells and they play the shit out of their instruments). I love this about them. Highlights: No More Sad Songs, off their newer album New Alhambra, was beautiful. Weird Honey was so fun (lots of yelling “if there’s a cold spot in hell, I hope you get it”). Inside You, of course.

Wouldn’t have minded hearing more off New Alhambra! I think it’s an excellent album. I have the vinyl too so I listen to it a lot. Wouldn’t have minded if they’d skipped the covers or if they’d gone with a crowd pleaser i.e. Weezer or Green Day.

I had fun with Alex though and enjoyed the show. Such wonderful, beautiful people. Music is magic, guys. Also the n.m.s.s. video attached below is such low production value and made me laugh really hard. Lovely song though! Sounded awesome live.

Outside Lands: Unpacked & Unloaded

I attended Outside Lands Music Festival in Golden Gate park this last weekend. Below are some thoughts!

Going into the weekend I was focused almost exclusively on LCD Soundsystem and Radiohead, two of my favorite bands. I was also excited to see Chance the Rapper (this may surprise readers because Chance is admittedly outside the genres I generally listen to, but it’s the trumpet and timbre of Chance’s voice that gets me).

At festivals a considerable amount of people go to just bop around, drink and see whatever music they end up seeing. All good, but I personally go less for the relaxed “music in the park” vibe and more for the “I’m going to see the stuff I really love and go really hard” vibe. And being in the front matters to me. The large majority of the bands I listen to and see live are pretty small. When I see a band like Modern Baseball at Slims I can be rest assured that I’ll be able to see the stage and be in the action. You can’t say the same for OSL. Given that, my general approach is to see the two-three bands playing before whoever it is I’m there to see.

First night I was there to see LCD Soundsystem, and I wanted to be up close and personal with James Murphy when he’d take his drumming breaks. So I saw Miike Snow with some friends (was good fun), and then everyone left to see J. Cole for which I had less than zero desire to see. I saw Duran Duran play before LCD, and it was so great. I felt completely transported back to the 80s. The white leather, the visuals, everything. Rio and Notorious were highlights. Who knew I like disco!

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Duran Duran doing their 80s thing (my photo!)

Then LCD came on. I honestly could not have asked for more. Their songs sounded even better live (I’d never seen them in concert before). This amazes me given how complex some of their music is! And LCD isn’t that lame Zedd “on my MacBookPro” shit. Nancy is actually doing everything live on real boards and pedals etc. James Murphy became my fascination after I watched Shut Up and Play the Hitsand his performance Friday was superb. He was energetic, funny, and his vocals were PERFECT. Interesting enough to feel unique and different from the recordings, but absolutely perfect. It was wonderful.

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James Murphy singing the shit out of New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. (also my photo)

They played essentially every song I really wanted them to play (except maybe North American Scum and All I Want).

Highlights: I Can Change was insanely beautiful. Someone Great. Losing My Edge was SO COOL. New York I Love You brought me to tears. Dance Yrself Clean really truly made me dance myself clean. All My Friends sounded beautiful although it did make me wonder where all my friends were (they were at J. Cole). Honestly I didn’t miss them for a second. LCD wrapped me in a big hug of musical love, and those two hours were some of my favorite yet.

Day 2: I was totally focused on Radiohead. I saw nothing particularly great while waiting for Thom except Air. Air was cool. They didn’t have a guitar just really really dope bass. The drummer was also sick. The music was truly interesting and complex, and I found myself in a musical trance. The vocals, however, were a problem. For whatever reason Air puts the vocals through the weirdest effects. They come out literally robotic. It made me understand part of why I love LCD so much: the interesting electronic and super clean music is perfectly complimented by James’s punk rock, raw, un-altered vocals. That’s the way to go. I can’t stand when the vocals are just drowning in their own reverb or cleaned up digitally till they sound cold and fake.

Radiohead was wonderful. Highlights: noticing the unique instruments they use live (including but not limited to: a coat hanger with bells hanging off it and an old transistor radio) and watching Thom Yorke’s groovy as hell dancing. Set highlights: 2 + 2 = 5, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Everything in It’s Right Place, Bodysnatchers, Idioteque (so. much. fun.), and Karma Police.

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Radiohead. (still my photos)

Day 3 there was no one I cared deeply about. I wanted to see The Oh Hellos and Chance. The Oh Hellos played a wonderful set early in the day at one of the smaller stages. They were endearing and sounded insanely good. It must have been a 12 piece band, and they were all in perfect synch and very into the music. It was fun and lighthearted, and we danced a lot. Then we went into a very aggressive and unkind crowd to wait for Chance. Fortunately we got to see the Muppets (!! so much fun !!) and Third Eye Blind (middle school emo kid jams!) while waiting. The Muppets played a short set of popular, classic covers (including: Home by Edward Sharpe and With a Little Help From my Friends).Third Eye Blind was pretty funny and bad. However, I went very hard to and deeply enjoyed Jumper.

Chance the Rapper was great when he was performing. However, he played the shortest set in the history of music, and considering we’d been waiting in a very aggressive crowd of white frat boys it kinda sucked. I’m not a die hard Chance fan so it was okay, but I felt badly for my friends. He did have great energy and sounded awesome though.

Day 3 headliners weren’t particularly enticing. We saw a bit of Lana Del Rey’s set. I quickly became depressed and bored and unhappy. So I begged my friends, and we hightailed it to catch the last 30 minutes of Lionel Richie. It was SO FUN. My friends kept saying how happy they were I convinced them to leave Lana. We danced ourselves SO CLEAN to Brick House and All Night Long, and we sang our hearts out to We Are the World.

It was a wonderful weekend of friends, food, fun and music. Overall, LCD Soundsystem stands out from the rest. It was a truly wonderful performance.

Until next time Ranger Dave.