Moby’s two hour show at the Theater of Living Arts in Philly combined songs from his newest reflection, Wait for Me and his groundbreaking album Play with a smattering of others into a finely-tuned uplifting performance. Though the show was not sold out, Moby, with his backing band and opener Kelli Scarr, channeled tons of energy and shared his heart to the enjoyment of those in attendance.
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Fans of all ages packed into Chicago’s Vic Theater last Friday to watch guitar legend Buckethead perform. Known for hyping crowds with thrashing guitar rifts under a hidden identity, Buckethead entertained Chicago fans with 96-minutes of exceptional axe craft.
A solo performance by Wolff, a gentleman from New York City, opened the show. His music consisted of industrial electronic rock mixed with a traditional tuba. Wolff’s set was based around playing and singing through the tuba’s mouthpiece, in addition to beating the instruments bell, topped off by loops and pedal work. His sound was heavy, minor, distorted, and eccentric: in other words, the perfect opener to Buckethead’s circus aesthetic. Wolff’s themes ranged from “elephants taking over Hollywood” to personal beliefs, but what truly got the crowd going was his industrial rendition of Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” He ended his set with a more up-tempo number called “What I see,” which the artist introduced by saying,“When you play the tuba you think about giving up all the time.”
After Wolff’s set fans anxiously awaited for the headliner to take stage for 45-minutes. Chants of “Buckethead” broke out on numerous times. Once Buckethead’s familiar introduction of carnival music blasted on the P.A. the crowd exploded and the house lights dropped. Energy soared as the giant masked musician soon took the stage, sporting his usual white Les Paul guitar, expressionless white mask, and trademark white fried-chicken bucket on his head.
The audience’s spirits skyrocketed as Buckethead struck his first chords. Pacing the stage he communicated to the crowd through command of his instrument. The show was played entirely solo, with Buckethead relying on the accompaniment of pre-recorded voices, loops, and beats. The audience flailed and thrashed their bodies to the music as Buckethead flawlessly fused together a plethora of genres, managing to keep perfect time with the backing tracks both rhythmically and technically. His performance was so seamless that is was difficult to keep track of what genres and influences were crossed.
Halfway through his set Buckethead dazzled the audience with a mini-nunchuck routine, followed by robot dancing, all of which seemed short-lived compared to past shows. His dance break was capped off with his typical toy exchange: a sack of toys appeared onstage and hopeful hands reached out to receive a gift from the master of ceremonies himself. A few lucky fans were even granted the chance to touch the toggle buttons on Buckethead’s guitar. The show ended approximately an half hour later with Soothsayer, no encore, and an immediate rise in house lights, leaving fans hungry for more.
“Hard times come again no more,” sang Jay Farrar Thursday night. The sympathetic lament echoed through Irving Plaza as the rest of Son Volt took a break, this time Farrar conveying his dejected sonorities solo. Though taken from an 1854 Stephen Foster tune, Farrar’s incarnation, “Hard Times,” paralleled the original’s depressed tone. That dejected but introspective sentiment was something Farrar, with his band Son Volt, returned to frequently—usually over a foundation of good ‘ole American alt-rock.
It was from in front of amps draped with Mexican flags and an enormous psychedelic mural, which encompassed the entire back of the stage, that the Mars Volta unleashed their sonic fury on Friday night at Chicago’s Congress Theater. The band stood six members strong on stage, but the brunt of the performance fell on the shoulders of the band’s founders and chief songwriters, guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala. This was just fine by them.
If weirdness is wonderful, CocoRosie has a handle on being amazing live. Striking in their colorful and unique outfits, Sierra and Bianca Cassidy had an undeniable stage presence. Of course, the true advantage in being eccentric is that you end up putting on a live show that must be seen to be believed and is much different than the vast majority of bands in your genre. You easily become a desired and, sort of, craved spectacle and the crowd can’t help but want more.
As biological sisters, it comes as no surprise how comfortable Sierra and Bianca Cassidy are with each other on stage. While Sierra alternates impressively between harp and piano, Bianca takes control of the strange toys. Juxtaposed with Sierra’s graceful soprano range are Bianca’s strange and twisted vocals. They’re a touch Joanna Newsom but still quite original. It’s like mixing the sour and the sweet together to create a perfect balance of the bizarre and appealing.
In some ways, their performance Friday night at Chicago’s Logan Square Auditorium felt like operatic hip-hop. The two talented sisters had three men playing backup to their own vocals and playing, including an engaging beatboxer who won the crowd over easily. It was difficult to see the support as they stayed in darkness behind the two sisters but nonetheless their presence was felt and only heightened the appeal of CocoRosie’s songs. The setlist alternated naturally between tracks that the crowd could easily dance to and more nostalgic songs that were nonetheless heartfelt throughout the hour and a half show.
With three albums to their name, CocoRosie was a rare treat to see live as they have not toured in quite some time. The capacity crowd, enraptured, stood ready to enjoy songs throughout their career. One of the songs that came off best, however, and put the crowd in a state of awe, was one of their oldest songs: “By Your Side” from 2004’s La maison de mon rêve. Between their stage presence, eloquent sense of grace and playing for the full effect, it wasn’t difficult for CocoRosie to completely win over their audience.