At this point in my career as a guy who writes about music, I have crossed off almost everything on my bucket list or allowed for the fact that it is impossible to do some of those things. For example, I always wanted to see Metallica—one of my favorite bands of all time—in as small a room as possible, and I did in fact get to do that last year. On the other hand, I allow that my window for interviewing David Bowie has almost certainly closed (and my chance to talk to Kurt Cobain was gone before I ever got started).
Tag: Concert Reviews (1-10 of 150)
What’s the ideal soundtrack to shooting a bottle rocket out of your butt? No one attempted such a thing at Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday night, where Young the Giant were playing their second consecutive “Mind Over Matter” tour date in New York City. But it wasn’t hard to imagine the largely college-age crowd on a different weekend, at a party closer to campus, watching the kind of fraternity hijinks recently chronicled in the vivid first paragraph of this article. They were, after all, drinking beer out of plastic cups, mingling with the opposite sex, and watching a dude in an untucked dress shirt dancing by himself.
“Y’all ’bout to cry with me, or what?” Earl Sweatshirt asked last night at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. He was introducing “Chum,” a rumination on life with too many ugly temptations and no father, from his transfixing 2013 debut album, Doris. But when the crowd — rowdy fans of Odd Future, the rap collective for which the 19-year-old Earl provides the quick-witted conscience — loudly showed their support, he shot back, “You just cheer for that? You weak, dog!”
Earl, playing his second New York show of the week to end the East Coast leg of his tour, maintained a similarly haphazard balance of confrontation, self-awareness, and silliness for his entire hour on stage. “Chum” proved to be a highlight, with Earl delivering his most slippery and scrupulously honest lyrics at the edge of the stage, bathed in a cool blue light and gesturing precisely with his free arm.
Most of the night he teamed with the gregarious rapper Vince Staples, who served on Doris as a kind of friendly foil for Earl to step out from behind and deliver his intricate rhymes. Together they traded off opportunities to brandish their skills, rapping entire verses a cappella, and teasing everyone else. “I wanna see who’s a loser and who’s not a loser!” Staples told the sold-out crowd, who jammed the main floor and were eagerly stage diving, but weren’t always receptive to the dense songs, which the rappers doled out in fragments. “My n—- picked a love song to stage dive to,” Earl marveled when “Sunday,” a slowly uncoiling track he recorded with Frank Ocean, was interrupted.
But the messiness and small miscues gave the show an intimate feel — that coupling of weakness and strength that Earl thrives on. Lyrically, he impressed, delivering his rhymes with exactness and force. But some of his artfully produced music, played off of a MacBook Air, disintegrated into washes of overpowering bass. It was as if Earl and Staples, who roamed the stage dressed in baggy jeans and simple white T-shirts, had simply invited everyone into their basement. Schoolboy Q — a rising star whose highly anticipated new album, Oxymoron, comes out Tuesday — appeared near the end of the set to perform his mini-hit “Man of the Year.” But the show didn’t end with a big climax or an encore. Instead, Earl and Staples drifted into a crowd of friends at the end of the stage as “Praying for a Brick,” a deliberately dopey track by prankster rapper Lil B, played. When a roadie came out and closed the laptop, the music just stopped. It was, somehow, a perfect ending.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Gary Clark Jr. is a rock star. The Texan guitarist opened for Kings of Leon Friday night at Madison Square Garden and gave one of those performances that makes you wonder, “Uh, why is this guy the opener and not the main event?” He seldom spoke, but his singing voice was consistently smooth and soulful, and his guitar solo on “When My Train Pulls In” was flawless, chills-inspiring, amazing.
But it wasnt a long set: After only five songs, it was time for the Kings. A white sheet was lowered down in front of the stage while the roadies prepared the set, and a fellow concert-goer and I joked, “wouldn’t it be kinda sexy if the band performed behind that white sheet?” In fact, the Kings actually did perform their first song, “Charmer” behind it. Frontman Caleb Followill’s shrieks were just as ear-splitting (in a good way) live as they are on the album track, and the chaotic nature of the song matched the flashing images of the boys’ shadows on the white sheet and the video of a screaming girl playing behind them. READ FULL STORY
With nary a middle finger or nipple shield in sight, pop star Bruno Mars took the Super Bowl halftime stage tonight with a polished, shiny set oddly interrupted for a moment by shirtless 50-year-olds. Donning his signature suit (tonight was metallic gold) and skinny tie — but no fedora, dammit – flanked by a pack of identically adorned band members, Bruno and his crew aptly struck a very “Jersey Boys” look through their five-song halftime set at MetLife Stadium.
Kanye West’s show last night (Nov. 23) at Madison Square Garden so closely mirrored his Yeezus sets at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Tuesday and Wednesday that, bizarre as it sometimes seemed, you could never rightly call it random.
I’m duty-bound to report that he did unleash another “rant,” once again past the three-quarters mark of the night, between “Street Lights” and “Stronger,” when he could just as easily have remarked “Are you not entertained?” and been guaranteed a bloodthirsty roar of approval.
This rant (a term he mentioned and dismissed) didn’t interrupt the show so much as strip it down to its raw essence: Literally screaming—it’s a wonder he hasn’t already shredded his voice on this tour—with only a little Autotune and synthesizer to blunt him, Kanye drew the audience in close to better take on the world. (Or Nike and Hedi Slimane, at least.) “Don’t ever let ‘em tell you that I’m crazy,” he shouted, “‘cause I believe in you!”
The room was decorated like a hipster wedding venue, most of the attendees were under the age of five with the first Harry Potter book came out, and Alcide the Werewolf was on hand to introduce Lorde (obviously). All was oddly as it should be at the VH1’s You Oughta Know in Concert Monday night in New York City.
You Oughta Know might seem like a silly name at first (and it sure wreaks havoc on a spell check), but VH1’s up-and-comer discovery program has become something of an institution since it’s launch in 2005, serving as a barometer for the brightest new things on the music scene.
The YOK anointment is a prestigious one — shedding light on artists like Adele, Bruno Mars, Amy Winehouse, Mumford & Sons, The Civil Wars and more before they reached the mainstream. And aptly named at that, because while I “knew” most of the concert’s newer featured artists before I saw them perform, there is much more to most of them than just potential. You ought to know them, because they’re good – really good. READ FULL STORY
Drake may be the greatest rapper alive. And now we might want to crown him the hardest working man in showbiz, too. On the New York stop of his “Would You Like a Tour?” at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center last night (Oct. 28), the Toronto rapper emerged in workout-appropriate sneakers and a baby blue outfit that could’ve been a high-end take on the classic Canadian tuxedo, issued a formal introduction (“I go by the name of Aubrey Drake Graham”) and proceeded to pull out every last stop in romancing “one of the best audiences I have ever played for in my life.”
About three quarters of the way through the show, that included mounting a huge circular platform that dropped down from the ceiling and allowed him to call out section numbers in the nosebleeds, note women’s features that he liked (long legs, red hair) and chat up individuals in the crowd: “Hey, I see you in that Commes des Garçon hoodie … You! You’re clapping like you at a Miley Cyrus show …” If that soon seemed like a Borscht Belt routine (and it especially did when he described two men wearing suits as “Bernstein and Feldman over here”), the larger effort drew from the long tradition of soulmen wooing females from the stage. READ FULL STORY
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