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Monday, Sep 22, 2014
When Tits of Clay, the fictional band in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, put on a real performance, Hedheads wig out.

As the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch was coming together, then-titular-star Neil Patrick Harris and the musicians/actors cast to be his backing band performed a live gig at Rockwood Music Hall for an intimate crowd. Since then, the members of that backing band, Tits of Clay, have decided to become a real band as their time permits. With Harris and / or other special Hedwig guests, the band has played a few late-nights shows at the Mercury Lounge, post-Hedwig performance. The most recent was September 4th and, despite the 11:59 pm start time, the show sold out with the line of people waiting to get in going around the corner. Most of these folks would be considered Hedheads and they could have heard of the show from a tweet from NPH, implying he might be there. But though they might have come to hear Hedwig showtunes, those same fans may be surprised to hear Tits of Clay do an almost entirely punk set.


The Tits’ members attire and hair certainly would have given that away though and The New Yorker wrote up a good description of them, “Justin Craig (guitar, keyboards, vocals), the music director, who has a Pete Townshend nose and a prettified Nigel Tufnel hairstyle; Matt Duncan (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals), who has short emerald-green hair and a macho black mustache; Tim Mislock (guitar, vocals), who has asymmetrical blond hair, like a half-buzzed Leif Garrett; Peter Yanowitz (drums, vocals), with crimson hair, on drums. They combine the look of old-school glam and punk with the one thing the genre currently lacks: youth.”


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Spoon's excellent live show at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield (aka Summerstage) came near the heels of their late-Summer They Want My Soul tour.

I hadn’t seen the band Spoon since last year’s Governors Ball Festival but they finally came back around to the area for a proper show at Rumsey Playfield (aka Summerstage though that City Parks Foundation series is over) in Central Park. The band are touring on the back of their latest album They Want My Soul and this performance showed the audience how consistently good they are (as our critic Matthew Fiander wrote, “This is another very good Spoon record, but it’s not the same as any other Spoon record. It is also a record that, in the ways it continues and twists the band’s sound, reminds us that Spoon put in a lot of work to find their sound.”) and how cohesive all of Spoon’s material sounds together.


The Village Voice had noted that, “Got Nuffin” roars onstage as much as it did when it was new, but what really stood out was how seamlessly the new songs have already woven their way into the set. “New York Kiss” got a huge cheer when it began, because of course/why not. “Rent I Pay,” in particular, already came off like a classic Spoon song.” And it was with “Knock Knock Knock” and “Rent I Pay” that Spoon had kicked things off on the lovely late-Summer evening. The band was in fine form throughout the night and, except for Britt Daniel, quite often in the shadows, with their silhouettes cast upon screens around the stage. Before their conclusion, Spoon performed the dark and dancey, “I Turn My Camera On”, which is one of my favorites and then included another of my favorites, “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” in their finale.


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Thursday, Sep 11, 2014
DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist forged their third turntable project, the 'Renegades of Rhythm Tour', from their careful curating of records from Afrika Bambaataa's collection.

If you are a fan of hip-hop, you owe it to yourself to catch the ‘Renegades of Rhythm Tour’ currently making its way across the states. For this event, two renowned turntablists, DJ Shadow (Josh Davis) and Cut Chemist (Lucas MacFadden) sifted through the historic and legendary record collection of Afrika Bambaataa to create a 90-plus-minute set encompassing all of hip-hop that they are currently touring (dates below). At New York’s Irving Plaza, Bambaataa himself was present in the balcony enjoying the proceedings and perhaps watching with a bit of diligence, given the duo were working with some rare acetates, demos, originals that he has owned, and maybe even performed with, for the past few decades. In an introduction, Shadow held up a record for the audience to show them the giant chunk missing from the near the edge, yet they still planned to spin it in their set. Also on site was hip-hop photographer Joe Conzo, both working from the pit alongside the media and displaying a gallery of his own legendary pieces of hip-hop history from the ‘70s and ‘80s in New York.


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Monday, Sep 8, 2014
A tenor saxophone quartet may not be a typical configuration, but Battle Trance transcended the instrument's capability with their performance of the 42 minute odyssey Palace of Wind.

It’s easy to miss Constellation—I nearly did. The venue, tucked into a small row of brick buildings in Chicago’s North Side, has no flashy sign or major distinguishing marker on its unassuming front face. Its placement near an underpass brings to mind the phrase “hole in the wall.” But on an otherwise ordinary Sunday evening, the intimate venue, which has the layout of a chamber theatre, was given a potent dose of music, spanning a broad range of contemporary art music. Quite a lot of music filled the small space.


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Friday, Sep 5, 2014
The New Pornographers teamed with NPR for a unique performance at the Brill Building - the place that inspired the title of their newest album Brill Bruisers.

NPR’s Bob Boilen introduced The New Pornographers with an explanation of the title of the band’s newest album Brill Bruisers. It had been inspired by the sounds and music that were written in the Brill Building - the same unique one-off venue that the audience was standing in. The Brill Building had ben home to numerous pop music publishing houses in the mid 1900s where many chart-toppers were written. However, the building is currently under renovation, which is why the audience (including Will Sheff of Okkervil River and Neko Cases’s parents) found themselves in a open and industrial-looking construction space for the temporary stage. Boilen was quickly gave the stage over to AC Newman, Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, occasionally Dan Bejar and the rest of The New Pornographers who performed an energetic and sweaty set of new material and older classics. Their set was furious and tight given they only had about an hour to play through songs like “War on the East Coast”, “Brill Bruisers” (which they performed just a block or two up at the Ed Sullivan Theater the night before) and “Backstairs”. Before the last song, “Bleeding Heart Show”, Newman suggested the band had to remember how to play this dusty old rarity but if the audience didn’t laugh at that joke they still appeared more than tickled as many were singing “hey-la” along with the band.


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