Double Bill

Two more gig reviews for Beyond Race:

The Decemberists @ Radio City Music Hall

"The looming deadline for the show's end only inspired The Decemberists to perform two ultra-compact sets. For the first, the band played its newest album, The Hazards of Love, in its entirety. Since Hazards is an ambitious prog-rock opera, this doesn't leave much room for screwing around to begin with. Yet the band managed to somehow make it even sharper, playing through the entire album without taking breaks between songs."

Art Brut @ The Mercury Lounge

"Britain's Art Brut has started the musical equivalent of the slow-food movement—call it the slow-tour movement. Instead of rushing through a multi-city American tour as quickly as possible or, as is more common with British bands, playing just a handful of token dates on the East and West Coasts (thanks, Radiohead), Art Brut is taking its time."

Beyond Race Two-For-One

Lots of good shows going on in New York. I managed to write up a couple for Beyond Race.

OK Go @ The Music Hall of Williamsburg

"For better or worse, OK Go owes a lot of its fame to a cheap little video it made for 'Here It Goes Again,' a song off their last album, Oh No. No doubt you've seen it: The four band members lip synch while deftly performing a synchronized dance on a series of moving treadmills. At the Music Hall of Williamsburg, one of a handful of dates on a short tour, indeed the crowd seemed most familiar with 'Here It Goes Again.' The task for the band was to prove that it was more than just a viral Internet novelty."

The Mountain Goats @ New York Society for Ethical Culture

"Vanderslice joined Darnielle on stage to do some of the songs they've written together (for a concept project about an organ-harvesting colony on the moon), but only got through two songs before they realized they were way over curfew. Darnielle raced through 'See America Right' and perennial set-closer 'No Children,' and, with the house lights already gone and the assurance that there wouldn't be an encore, the crowd mostly left. The stragglers were rewarded, however, since a few vocal and determined fans demanded a real encore. Darnielle came back on stage and played a cover of Ace of Base's "The Sign" to a half-empty auditorium—and, since the show was officially over, the night ended as it began: totally unamplified. But, with Darnielle and the stragglers singing along, it was no longer wordless."

They Might Be Giants

You never outgrow your first favorite band.

They Might Be Giants @ Le Poisson Rouge

"They Might Be Giants may have a reputation for attracting a nerdy, left-of-mainstream crowd, but the line still wound around the block outside of the swanky Le Poisson Rouge for their Saturday-night concert. Still, their reputation preceded them: 'You guys like children's music this much?' one snide commenter spat at the queue, adding insult to injury right as the rain switched from a thin drizzle to a steady soak.<o:p></o:p> Children? Hardly—the crowd was 18+ by design. Yet it wouldn't be wrong to say that teenage nostalgia brought many out in the rain that night."

Show Time at the Apollo

I can't believe it's taken me this long to see a show at the Apollo Theater. But, after seeing Jenny Lewis (and surprise opening act Sarah Silverman), it was worth the wait.

Jenny Lewis @ the Apollo Theater

"Both of Lewis's albums push her vulnerable, feminine side to the forefront, showcasing her crystal-clear voice in some heartbreaking harmonies. (For her first album, Rabbit Fur Coat, country duet the Watson Twins provided her backup; on Acid Tongue, she features a rotating series of singers, including actress Zooey Deschanel.) On stage, however, Lewis surrounded herself with a band comprised mostly of men—with the exception of, surprisingly, her drummer. This lineup gave a harder, tighter edge to Lewis' sound."

Rockin' the Gig Review

Ben Folds' latest album, Way to Normal, is pretty terrific. So was his show at Terminal 5, which I got to review for Beyond Race.

Ben Folds @ Terminal 5

"Yet whether real or fake—and Folds played both versions of a handful of these tunes, redundancy be damned—the new songs fit seamlessly into his chosen role as joyful crank, taking smirking potshots at the phony, the powerful, the emotionally dishonest, and the whiny."

Stay Positive!

The Hold Steady @ McCarren Park Pool

After standing in the rain in an empty pool to check out my sixth Hold Steady concert, I got to review the gig for Beyond Race: "People hid under swag towels, broke out their umbrellas, stripped down to their bathing suits, but didn't go home...The crowd looked like they could have been characters in one of the Hold Steady's songs: sexy, but messy."

Rilo Kiley Gig Review

I'm glad I wrote this because I've read other reviews of the show, and the critical consensus about co-frontman Blake Sennett is in my opinion both harsh and wrong. I'm glad I got to stick up for him in the press.

Rilo Kiley @ Terminal 5

"In magazine articles and TV spots, co-frontman Blake Sennett may find it hard to outshine the fabulously stylish Jenny Lewis, but on stage he comes into his full rock-star potential, taking his guitar solos from on top of his amp. (And, as if the pair of them couldn't get any more sparkly, the band released giant balloons full of glittery confetti into the crowds for 'Silver Lining.')"

New Gig Review

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but I have a new gig review up at Beyond Race.

Bishop Allen @ The Music Hall of Williamsburg

"On the record, the songs are light and poppy, generally a breeze to listen through. The live show allowed for a few more rock and roll indulgences—muscular guitar parts here and there where pianos worked on the album—and, coupled with Rice's Beatles-style head-bopping and twitchy dancing, the band came across as having more amped-up energy than you'd guess from the sweetness of its sound."

Check back again soon for a capsule about Los Campesinos!

New Gig About Gigs

I just started reviewing concerts for the cultured folks over at Beyond Race Magazine. My first article is up, about the riotous NME tour with the 1990s, Art Brut, and the Hold Steady (a band I'm completely obsessed with).

Art Brut and the Hold Steady: Almost Killed Me

"Perched way out on the Western edge of Manhattan sits Terminal 5, a cavernous venue whose name is more than appropriate for the last stop on a rock ’n’ roll tour, as was the case on November 21 when Art Brut and the Hold Steady wrapped up the NME Rock 'n' Roll Riot Tour. At first, the venue almost seemed too big for the bands contained therein: some of the vocals were swallowed up by the expanse of space, a shame for two bands who, with openers the 1990s, are all such superb lyricists."