The United Palace, a renovated 1930’s New York City movie theatre, set the majestic backdrop for Vampire Weekend’s epic hometown return. Filled with thousands of screaming teenagers and adults alike, the sold out show was positioned as the type of gig to be talked about for months. The question, however, was coming off of the release of their sophomore album, Contra, was the reception of new material going to be as welcomed as some of their debut’s classic cuts?
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As gale-force winds whipped rain against City Winery’s exterior, inside the night belonged to cozy hour d’oeuvres, a glass of wine and old-fashioned folk singing. Young banjoist Sam Amidon began the night with his best song, “How Come That Blood”, but never successfully matched the charm of his initial lulling cadence paired with his raspy sonority. The audience (including David Byrne) embraced his deadpan idiosyncrasies and cheered loudly when he saved the intonation on his third song by moving his guitar capo into the same key he was singing in. But his offbeat allure resonated well with his rustic musings, especially when sung in his yodeler’s croak of a tenor. Accompanied by a pianist, he harmonized with Beth Orton—whom he introduced as opening for herself—on “Sugar Baby”, ending his set on a gorgeous note.
“I have a shipwreck fetish you could say,” blurted out the mostly quiet singer of the Wingdale Community Singers. Nina Katchadourian was attempting to explain the inspiration for one her songs, “Castaway”. The song itself was solemn and technical and soaked in old time sorrow. In fact most of Singers’ repertoire on Monday night at the Mercury Lounge was entirely old fashioned yet entirely contemporary—it was creaky and aged while chronicling contemporary Brooklyn life. Despite the group’s tacit reverence for their trade’s history, and their craft, most song’s were innately funny. Lead singer Hannah Marcus grieved an old Les Paul guitar on “Les Paul” and grieved further on “Tears in My Tequila” with vocalist and guitarist Rick Moody. However the mood was light, enabling the group’s finally coalescing vocal lines to suspend briefly during “Willing Sense of Disbelief”. Unfortunately their casual, both-hands-on-the-lap harmonies were rough around the edges more often then not, leaving one desiring a bit more. Thankfully the vigor of their last number, “Rock of Ages”, sung to “This Land is Your Land”, pushed their four-part harmonies into tune while they patronized the exploitation of natural treasures.
The American Museum of Natural History seems an unlikely venue for a music concert (despite having attended a Moby listening party there) but it has regularly stepped as host to One Step Beyond events. When I heard that 2009’s indie darlings Animal Collective would be doing a DJ set there, along with an unannounced “special guest”, I did not know what to expect except that I wanted in.
It may have taken almost four decades, but metal veterans Anvil are finally seeing that persistence and unconditional love really do pay off. Stepping on stage to chants of “Anvil! Anvil!” from the packed Phoenix Concert Theatre, it was obvious from the look on front man Steve “Lips” Kudrow’s face he was feeling some much deserved vindication for never giving up on the dream. The three-piece—consisting of the aforementioned Kudrow, Robb Reiner on drums, and Glenn Five on bass—has transitioned from obscurity to success story since the release of last year’s much raved about documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil”, a raw, honest and often moving look at the band’s decades of struggles, failures, and constant heartbreaks suffered while chasing their dream of making it big. (That the film wasn’t a mock-rockumentary despite Reiner’s conspicuous name only added to the intrigue).
// Moving Pixels
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