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Monday, Feb 3, 2014
The second Citi Presents Evenings with Legends show saw Band of Horses perform acoustic in the intimate McKittrick Hotel. You were basically standing next to the band as they performed.

When Band of Horses didn’t start at 9:30 as people expected, a buzz of discontent in the crowd started to build. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before Ben Bridwell, Tyler Ramsey and Ryan Monroe took to the stage behind the piano to perform “Neighbor”, with Bridwell and Monroe gazing into each others eyes and Ramsey hovering above. The guys joked they’d end the song with a “camera solo” as there were a number of photographers in the front and to the sides (me included) snapping away. I admit it must have been annoying for the band (and probably attendees) given the performance was entirely acoustic but the few minutes of trouble was worth it to catch the intimate performance. The low, small stage meant the band was basically two feet away from the audience as they performed.

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Friday, Jan 31, 2014
Part of the Citi Presents Evenings with Legends shows in the run up to the Super Bowl, the solo piano performance from John Legend for no more than a couple hundred people was a superb event.

The front row was seated less than six feet away from John Legend, for a Citi sponsored event dubbed “Evenings with Legends an exclusive lineup of music and sports experiences for Citi cardmembers leading up to football’s biggest game of the year”. Legend cracked a joked that the series was named after him and though his multitude of awards might make him a legend in his own right, the sports portion of the events (which I did not attend) was where the legends were at. For three nights, Citi is hosting conversations with famed coaches and athletes—Wed night it was MVP quarterback Eli Manning and Football Commentator Bob Papa also in the McKittrick Hotel, an intimate venue with a retro-feel (a great place to have seen the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, whose music was playing prior to Legend’s performance). But I was there for the music after that chat.

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Monday, Jan 20, 2014
The 23-year old Newman is one of the latest neo-soul singers to arrive in the State from the UK. His debut album Tribute was just released here but he is already selling out shows.

Although it took a while for the venue to fill up, the first few feet in front of the Bowery stage was flush with fans eager to catch John Newman at this sold out show (his first in NYC?). I was eager as well, as I had heard and enjoyed Newman’s album Tribute, knowing PopMatters was already fawning over it before it was just released in the States (Newman is amongst our artists of the year in 2013 and the best new artists). Plus this would be the first show I could photograph in the new year (the second I would attend) so it was nice to see some new music.

Tribute has earned Newman a lot of fans, drawn in by the power of his voice, that draws on music well beyond the “soul” artists his own music be categorized as. His influences include Elvis Presley Britney Spears, the Kings of Leon James Brown, Aretha Franklin and more. After opener Alexander Howard, Newman’s band came out to provide an intro, which led into the title track “Tribute” before Newman himself took the stage to a large response from the audience (video I captured is below). He performed most of the material from the album including my current favorites “Running” and the emphatic “Gold Dust” before returning for a two song encore. The crowd of people hardly moved from their spots throughout the night—Newman commanded their rapt attention as he belted out some great tunes.

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Thursday, Jan 9, 2014
A rookie police officer faces a moral dilemma in the excellent Monsoon Shootout as three possible scenarios stem from his decision at this pivotal moment.

At first glance, Monsoon Shootout recalled The Raid: Redemption with a rookie cop led by a morally questionable commanding officer in a gritty, impoverished setting. But that’s about the only real connection as Shootout doesn’t burst into extreme and continued bouts of violence. Instead writer-director Amit Kumar’s debut film turns into a Run Lola Run-style film in which our protagonist Adi (Vijay Varma) has the opportunity to shoot an alleged axeman or bring him in unharmed. The split-second moral decision and the course of action in this pivotal moment results in three differing scenarios for the rookie in this thrilling film.

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Monday, Jan 6, 2014
Phosphorescent, led by Brooklyn transplant Matthew Houck, capped off a strong year with four sold out shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Matthew Houck released his album Muchacho through his band Phosphorescent in 2013 to strong praise. And to close out the year, he decided to celebrate with four shows in his borough. All four, one solo and three with a full-band, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg had sold out one after another. Julianna Barwick was recruited later on to be the opener. Poised behind her keyboards on the darkened stage, Barwick’s ethereal soundscapes enveloped people as they entered. Then after a stage change in which multitudes of flowers, electric tealights and incense sticks garnished the stage, Phosphorescent was ready to perform.

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