Being my third time at Bowery Ballroom in the past month, I was hoping that Caribou and company were ready to spice the place up a bit. Coming off the success of highly acclaimed album, Swim, there was very little doubt in mind that this would be a show for the ages. Setting the pace with some new material, the uptempo tracks had the crowd knocking hips. Especially songs like “Odessa” and “Kaili”, which were already familiar to Caribou’s many fans. But it wasn’t all about dancing. Playing classics like “Melody Day”, the band made it clear that they hadn’t forgotten about their past.
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Ariel Pink is a master of the strange poptronic tune, but on stage he and his Haunted Graffiti are not the most charismatic performers. The word of mouth consensus on May 4’s show at the Mercury Lounge, done as a taster for the forthcoming Before Today and larger tour, was that Pink put forth a more engaging effort than previous outings. Whether or not this is so, it appeared to matter little to fans at the very sold out show; the crowd was in the grips of a fun spasm, or maybe they were just trying to dance.
Opening their one-and-a-half hour set with “Man Like You”, Patrick Watson established a precedent for the evening: dreamy lyrics paired with boiling percussion punctuated by imaginative sounds. (Hailing from Montreal, however, the band naturally first commented on the Canadiens’ playoff series against Pittsburgh).
Coming off their highly acclaimed debut LP, Gorilla Manor, Los Angeles’ Local Natives jumped on stage to a sold out Bowery Ballroom last Thursday. After having played that album about 100 times now, I and the thousand or so other fans in the build were ready to scream our heads off. But despite being a die hard enthusiast of the up-and-coming band, I wondered whether they were ready to rock a packed house, especially in New York.
As if singing to the heavens, Laura Marling gazed steadily upward like a marvelous folk angel. She seemed to be channeling everyone from Joni Mitchell to Carole King as she strummed her guitar. The most delicate chords were not wasted as her audience stood in awe of her quiet grace. Though she only played for 45 minutes, it was an utterly memorable sort of set.
In some ways, Marling is subtle and understated. Though she did have a backing band of keyboard, guitar, bass, and drums, Marling clearly didn’t need it, as evidenced by the half set she played alone, and without anyone missing the accompaniment. Her chord progressions are haunted, dreamy evolutions that are striking in the way they resonate in your brain long afterwards. Not only did she play guitar but she had a way of whistling that made one’s hair stand on end in the best of ways, as if there was no other person in the world but her.