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Tag: All Tomorrow's Parties (1-4 of 4)

On the scene at the 'I'll Be Your Mirror' ATP festival day 3: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Oh Sees, and more

Image Credit: Kristin Klien

Day three of I’ll Be Your Mirror: The big names are gone. The numbers are dwindling. Only the devoted remain, and they are duly rewarded.

Jimmy LaValle’s solo project, The Album Leaf, lulled the complex into a meditative trance with his (mostly) instrumental electronic compositions. Utilizing syncopated, minimalist structure – persistent repetition of simple motifs – LaValle and his backing band crafted elegant fugues that were both introspective and expansive.

Their sound melds the glitchy electronic patterns of Four Tet with the yearning symphonics of Sigur Rós (with whom LaValle has toured extensively) on songs such as “There is a Wind” and “Descent.” Truly lovely, full of longing, a soundtrack to remembrance

Afterward, the tone shifted from cerebral to spastic: READ FULL STORY

On the scene at the 'I'll Be Your Mirror' ATP festival day 2: The Roots, The Afghan Whigs, and more

Image Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Day two of I’ll Be Your Mirror offered up a bevy of surprises – not the least of which was running into Bob Boilen of NPR’s All Songs Considered.

Singer songwriter Joseph Arthur brought his stream-of-consciousness rock poetry to the indoor stage with songs like “Slide Away” and the breezy, nostalgic “I Miss the Zoo.” On the latter he donned a white lab coat and, in a deft work of performance art, painted an eerie human face while singing (his self-made album art has been nominated for a Grammy).

Following him up outside was Charles Bradley, a.k.a. The Screaming Eagle of Soul. Let me tell you, this man has a life story: Homeless for a time, the Gainesville, Florida native eventually found his way to New York and started performing as a James Brown cover artist known as Black Velvet. Then about a decade ago, in his mid-50s, he was discovered by Daptone Records and last year released his debut album, No Time for Dreaming.

Yesterday’s performance was a joyous funk/soul revival act, Bradley hootin’ and hollerin’ and gyratin’ his hips like the Godfather himself. After playing a generous blend of originals – “Heartaches and Pain,” “The World (Is Goin’ Up in Flames)” – and covers, like Clarence Carter’s “Slip Away” and James Brown’s “Funky Good Time,” Bradley closed the show by climbing into the audience and doling out hugs. The man was so genuine and so talented (his nickname is well-earned) that none of it felt hokey or forced. In the words of a nearby fan, “That mother­­­f—er is the truth.”

Then it was off to see Australian psych-folk trio Dirty Three. Violinist and de-facto bandleader Warren Ellis, a gangly, bearded Charles Manson lookalike, commanded the stage with a manic, deranged intensity. He thrashed and kicked and leered as he and the group banged out their explosive instrumental epics, including “The Pier” and “Some Summers they Drop Like Flys.” But as enthralling as the music was, the most memorable bits were Ellis’ maniacal introductions: “This is a song about coming home for Christmas and finding out Santa didn’t come and everybody died.  This a song, ladies and gentlemen, about stuff like that.”

Detroit’s The Dirtbombs were up next, and what a rollicking treat they were. Known for blending punk rock and Motown soul, their muscular lineup consisted of two bass players and two drummers in addition to Mick Collins’ vocals and guitar. That enormous rhythm section – come on, it’s 80% of the band – gives their music a brute physicality.

Segueing effortlessly from garage-tinged R&B (“Underdog”) to disco dance-rock (“Good Life”) to swaggering funk (“Candy A—“), Collins and co. arguably delivered the day’s most enthusiastic performance. Pouring sweat, drinking beer, waving their instruments around, it felt like watching a group of 17-year-olds playing a punk show in their friend’s basemen (that’s a good thing). For the close, Collins simply walked off stage, leaving the drummers and bassists to hammer out five-minutes of tuneless percussive bliss.

Inside once more, buzzy relative newcomers The Antlers shifted the mood 180 degrees with their transcendent soundscapes. Drawing from their two most recent records, Hospice and Burst Apart, the Brooklyn-based indie darlings played with an orchestral grandeur that was at once lush and haunting. Think The Cure’s Disintegration but without the gothic dread; epic and drenched in reverb, with vocalist Peter Silberman boasting power and range to rival Steve Perry on highlights “Sylvia” and “Putting the Dog to Sleep.”

Later in the evening, artist favorite Mark Lanegan Band (at least three earlier groups hyped up his show) performed his signature menacing proto-blues. On stage he did little more than grip the mic stand and glower, letting his deep, gruff, inimitable voice – equal parts Tom Waits and Billy Gibbons – anchor the four musicians behind him. “Riot in My House,” “Harborview Hospital,” and others dished up ferocious, testosterone-fueled grooves; when he closed with “Methamphetamine Blues,” a savage work of industrial blues-rock played in the key of hate, I thought the building might collapse.

Outside, Swedish-Argentinian nü-folkster José González brought his own brand of stripped-down intensity. His mastery of the acoustic guitar is evident, and he has a penchant for songwriting that is both literate and urgent. Occasionally the constant negativity wore thin – a major chord wouldn’t kill the guy – but his technical dexterity was a wonder in itself, and songs like “Lovestain” and “Remain” are very, very good at what they do, which is earnestly conveying regret. He ended with a cover of Massive Attack’s trip-hop anthem “Teardrop,” revealing unheard nuances with his propulsive acoustic take.

Then, finally, the true headliners took the stage: the newly-reunited Afghan Whigs. I must say first that I was twelve years old when these alt-rock icons broke up in 2001, so for me their live show was one of discovery. What I discovered, first and foremost, is that Greg Dulli, lead singer of the Whigs and guest curator of the festival, has a hell of a voice. I mean, this thing was made for a stadium, like a modern-day Roger Daltrey.

He built the band with a volume to match, employing not one, not two, but three guitars, and a cello (Necessary? Probably not. Awesome? Definitely). Dulli and the crew rocked a set that spanned the whole of their lauded career, from “Son of the South” off 1990’s Up In It to “66” from 1998’s 1965. They also made sure to treat their devoted fans to some gems, bringing out former backup singer Steve Meyer to help with “Gentlemen,” and even calling up Marcy Mays of Scrawl to perform their 1993 collaboration “My Curse.”

And of course it wouldn’t be a Whigs set without some diggin’-in-the-crates covers. Dulli, who’s been called “a black singer in a white body,” dipped into an extensive R&B catalog, taking on Marie “Queenie” Lyons’ “See and Don’t See,” The Supremes’ “Baby Don’t Leave Me,” and Frank Ocean’s “Love Crimes” and “Thinking About You,” and strutting the stage with a rapper’s braggadocio. The band’s final song, the cavernous “Faded,” bled into the searing guitar line from Prince’s “Purple Rain,” cementing Dulli’s dichotomous ambitions. After 11 years out of the race, the Afghan Whigs have relaunched at a full sprint.

Easily 2/3 of the crowd dispersed after the Whigs played, but those who remained bore witness to one of the hallowed truths in contemporary music: the Roots are the best live act around. I don’t even know where to begin. First, kudos to those guys – playing before a dwindling audience of perhaps 150 people, they could easily have phoned in the show. What’s one more live gig to Jimmy Fallon’s backing band?

But if the crowd size was a factor it was impossible to tell: their performance was one of the most enthused and technically proficient that I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Rapper Black Thought dedicated the show to the memories of the late Chuck Brown, the godfather of Go-Go, and MCA of the Beastie Boys, before launching into a Go-Go rendition of the Beastie’s “Paul Revere” that was nothing short of miraculous.

The rest of the concert can best be described as “a whirlwind musical odyssey with your hosts, the Roots.” Of course they played their own hits (“Mellow My Man,” Proceed,” “Break You Off”) frequently dropping to immaculate jazz breaks or tossing in exterior tidbits, like plucking the horn line from OutKast’s “SpottieOttieDopalicious” during “You Got Me.” But then they threw their own catalog to the wind and tore through an eclectic medley: “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Bad to the Bone,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Who Do You Love,” even transforming Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” into a murky dub cut

. Add to all that the fact that they didn’t break once between songs, and performed the last half hour with the breakneck energy and false endings of an encore. It was a true marvel of showmanship. When they hurtled to a close at precisely 12:59, it was like waking up from a fever dream.

Read More

Lollapalooza: Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli has one festival goal: See Frank Ocean
Afghan Whigs live in New York City — still dark and dangerous at their first show in 13 years
Greg Dulli on curating All Tomorrow’s Parties, getting the Afghan Whigs back together, and why Louis C.K. is like a pretty girl

On the scene at New York's 'I'll Be Your Mirror' Festival Day 1: Frank Ocean, Philip Glass, and more

Image Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

My editor warned me that All Tomorrow’s Parties – I’ll Be Your Mirror, the revered itinerant indie festival taking place in New York this weekend, would be a little unusual.

“There will be some women there,” she said, “but not many.”

And glancing over the lineup, she had a point. Curated in this edition by Greg Dulli of ’90s garage-rock heroes the Afghan Whigs — past curators include Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, My Bloody Valentine, Modest Mouse, and even Simpsons creator Matt Groening —  the festival looked heavy on, well, obscure mid-‘90s garage rock.

Scrawl, Lightning Bolt, Godspeed You! Black Emperor – not surprisingly, I expected an audience of bearded men drinking microbrews. I was not disappointed.

It had the makings of a memorable (or insufferable) weekend: a young, eager music writer (I’m 23) watching many bands he’d never heard of, surrounded by old dudes who knew way, way more than me.

Held at Pier 36, a new entertainment complex on the Lower East Side right on the East River, the setup featured two stages: one inside the mammoth, carpeted auditorium, and the other in the parking lot, directly beneath the FDR highway. Friday’s comedians were quick to take note of the location. READ FULL STORY

Greg Dulli on curating All Tomorrow's Parties, getting the Afghan Whigs back together, and why Louis C.K. is like a pretty girl

Greg Dulli has spent the first decade and a half of the 21st century as the mastermind behind the Twilight Singers and the Gutter Twins, dressing up after-hours reveries in blues riffage, goth leanings, and tales of love gone awry. But that footprint began back in the ’90s with the Afghan Whigs, his cultishly-adored group of funk-loving, soul-stealing rockers from Cincinnati.

That band called it quits nearly 15 years ago, and now Dulli has reconstituted the group, which will make its grand return at this year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey—an event that Dulli also happens to be curating.

In addition to the Whigs, his eclectic lineup includes the Roots, stand-up comic Louis C.K., Sharon Van Etten, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and frequent collaborator Mark Lanegan. We spoke with Dulli about the reunion, the festival, and the haze of the ’90s.

EW: Which came first: The reunion or the call to curate All Tomorrow’s Parties?
Dulli: The best way I can describe it is that it was sort of a perfect storm of events. I did an acoustic tour a year and a half ago and John Curley, my dear friend and bass player in the Whigs, joined me for the show in Cincinnati, which we’ve done before when I pass through there. But then, I asked him, “Do you want to come up to Chicago and play?” He came up to Chicago and people freaked out. I finished up that tour on the west coast and I called him and I was like, “Hey man, do you want to do the west coast with me?” And he said yes. That was a great time. At that point, we began to play a few more Whigs songs in the show and I really enjoyed it. I rediscovered some songs that I had forgotten about and how much I enjoyed playing them. Then, when the Twilights tour last spring, we played Minneapolis where [Afghan Whigs guitarist] Rick [McCollum] lives. I had lunch with Rick. I hadn’t seen Rick in three or four years. We didn’t even talk about playing together but we had a really nice time at lunch. Then, he came to the gig and hung out. We were never at odds anyway so we didn’t have to get over any animosity. There were no hatchets to be buried. So when [All Tomorrow’s Parties founder] Barry Hogan came around this last time was like, “Hey, do you want to?” I’m like, “Maybe.” My stance had just softened on the hardline and it seemed like if we were ever going to do it, this seemed like the right time to do it.

This can’t be the first time somebody has floated that idea. READ FULL STORY

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