If you overlooked our coverage of Governors Ball so far, you should go back and read about Day One with Beck and The Strokes and Day Two with The Killers and M83 at these links respectively. However, our festival coverage considered many bands we didn’t get chance to write about but we did have a chance to photograph. Check out some great images of a variety of bands from both days (the third having been rained out) below.
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Leon Bridges was doing open mic nights at a bar, at the same time he worked as a dishwasher, when he was “discovered”. The classic sounding soul/gospel singer was signed to Columbia Records in 2014 and went from playing tiny bars to even smaller crowds to selling-out legendary venues like Nashville’s Ryman in little over a year.
After catching Bridges at one of his early NYC gigs at the Bowery Ballroom, photographer and filmmaker Danny Clinch began working with the musician to create a commercial that aired during the Grammys about Bridges. Clinch ended up with a lot of extra footage, so he created a documentary about Bridges and his return home after his extensive touring.
The energetic—nearly riotous perhaps—Cage the Elephant were great openers for the 2016 Summerstage season. The band packed in crowds for two sold out nights and the youthful crowd showered adoration upon them. As the band, and in particular lead singer Matt Shultz, took the stage, their enthusiastic and electric energy leapt into the audience who quickly lit with their own madness. This felt like a rare night for Summerstage—rarely do I see security in the photo pit looking out for over enthusiastic fans or crowd surfers approaching the barriers. Cage the Elephant will return to NYC for a free show May 29th—full details follow below.
When I first caught Lawrence during CMJ in 2015, it was a completely chance encounter. I was hanging out in Webster Hall and wandering between floors capturing various bands. I wasn’t sticking around for entire sets for the most part until I went downstairs and saw the youthful Lawrence. Led by brother and sister Clyde and Gracie Lawrence, the band’s soulful sound hooked me. I didn’t get a chance to see them again until well into 2016 and by this point the group had finished recording and had just released their debut album Breakfast (streaming below) which was produced by Eric Krasno (of Soullive). So I got a chance to familiarize myself with the album and, enticed by what I heard, I looked forward to the homecoming show for the New York based group.
At Rockwood, the siblings, plus their band of six other musicians including three brass or woodwind players, had tons of friends, family and fans in tow for a sold-out sweaty show during which they were treated to a soulful course of Breakfast. Including Breakfast songs, Lawrence also performed a few energetic covers, including Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” and The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, that were enhanced by the powerful horns and Gracie’s dynamic vocals. The band closed out their set with an encore of “Me & You”, a song whose funky rhythm possesses the confident strut of a classic ‘70s funk anthem. There’s a lot to look forward to from Lawrence and for the band who will be heading out to draw in more listeners this summer at Bonnaroo.
Going into the Red Bull Music Academy’s “Where Spaceways Meet: A Night of Spiritual Jazz” event, I had imagined there would be a few instances of collaboration between the musicians slated to appear. Unfortunately, that was not the case but audiences were still treated to incredible sets from the groundbreaking artists, Sun Ra Arkestra, Pharoah Sanders and newcomer Kamasi Washington. First thing to mention though, I had to miss most of Kamasi Washington’s set, which was a big disappointment for me, but I was truly pleased with what I had seen and heard by that point.
RMBA events are often in venues off the beaten path of the typical NYC circuit. Last year FKA twigs was at Brooklyn Hangar and this event took place in a warehouse near the river in Greenpoint, with the stage set up in the round so the audience could get a 360 view of the bands performing. I hadn’t ever seen Sun Ra Arkestra or Sanders though I have seen Washington twice, including his first NYC run at Blue Note.
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