That Fergus & Geronimo. They sound good. So, so good. A hard rocking band with some good old fashioned organ sounds thrown in and enough energy to power at least a small portion of China. Their show at Cake Shop last Friday (oh my, I’m behind this week) was very late; I guess half of the band ended up getting stuck in the snow somewhere, but it was definitely worth the wait. The only bummer was that they didn’t have their new album for sale on vinyl. I talk about Fergus & Geronimo a lot, though, since they’ve moved to Brooklyn, so it’s definitely time to give some praise to Mr. Dream. I know they’ve been around for a little while, but this was my first exposure to them. I loved their direct rock approach to their music (and the fact that all three of the members are totally gorgeous). Check out a song from the below. I have nothing nice to say about the music The Honey Dos play, but it seems like they’re having a fun time being in a band, so that’s good. I’ll leave it at that. Check out the song below and pictures over at Impose.
Category Archives: Photos
Oh Sonic Youth. Right up there with George Clooney, they are the poster children for aging gracefully. How many other bands can you think of that play seriously kick-ass live shows, actually make meaningful music contributions, and were one of the most influential bands of all time some twenty-five years ago? The guitar gods rocked the faces off of an incredibly packed Prospect Park bandshell. There were people still trying to get in even as they were playing their last few songs. The band is a monument to practice. When you do something for a long time, you learn to do it damn well. The trick is not to lose any of your fire, which was not a problem for the band at all on Saturday.
Grass Widow and Talk Normal each tried to hold their own, but neither were really up to the task of holding down such a large stage. Talk Normal plays fairly interesting drone rock. They use two basses and a drum kit, so the sound is fairly unique, but the drummer couldn’t quite seem to keep the beat well enough to make it a totally captivating performance. As for Grass Widow, I really enjoyed listening to their songs for the first time before the show, but was confronted by a band with weak guitar sounds and no personality. I’m definitely going to put their album in my iTunes, but I won’t jump to see them live again. You check out photos from the night right here at Impose.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros are a lot of fun. Getting to Governors Island is not. First you wait on line to get on the line for the ferry. Then you wait on the ferry line. Then they herd you onto the ferry like cattle. Then you wait in line to get off the ferry. Then you wait in line to get into the concert area. You wait on line to get your 21+ wristband, then you wait on line for the bathroom. There’s a beautiful view of the skyline once you’re there, but unless you’re with a ton of friends and you’re very excited for the band, it may not be worth it to see shows at Governors Island. The simple logistical problems are just really tricky- it’s not the fault of the concert organizers, it’s what happens when 1,000 people get off a boat at the same time.
The opener for the evening was one of the worst bands I’ve ever heard. I actually don’t know who they are and it doesn’t say on the Bowery Presents website, but wow, hackneyed lame-o country rock to the max! Plus, the guy was wearing a hat! I was offended that any booker thought we would want to listen to them. The lead singer was clearly surprised that they were playing as well. He was very gracious thanking the powers that be for the opportunity to play, but then did things like throw his pick into the audience because he’s “always wanted to do that.” Instead of being charming, it just made him seem like an aging mediocre musician sent to bore us before we got see Edward Sharpe.
We Are Each Other were up next, which confused all of the teenagers standing around me (and apparently the reviewer for The Huffington Post). It’s all the same members as Edward Sharpe, except Alex sits and plays the bongos and their piano player sings instead. The songs they played had promise, jangly and orchestral, much like Edward Sharpe, reminiscent of classic acts like The Band, but none of the musicianship or charisma was there to take it to the next level. In fact, that’s also what I’d say about Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, who returned to the stage in that form about a half hour later.
The band has three really, really good pop songs. Their aesthetic stands out in today’s popular music landscape, but is nothing new. They present themselves as hippies from the desserts of 1960s Los Angeles. Alex Ebert never picks up an instrument, he sings and entertains, prances around in linen pants and a bare chest, a nicely sculpted body that looks more like the result of yoga and cigarettes than any sort of masculine efforts. He’s captivating, but not quite captivating enough. As I said, there are three really, really great pop songs (“Home,” “Kisses Over Babylon,” and “40 Day Dream”), but the rest of the music falls flat. The musicians in the band either don’t have the chops or aren’t in quite the right combination to produce that little bit of magic that this type of music requires. I sort of felt badly for the kids around me. They fell for Alex’s stage tricks, his insistence that he would, “do the best to make sure this barrier isn’t here,” and that “this is a two way street, what we’re doing here.” Those are things that a greater band with a greater lead singer would communicate with their performance, rather than have to state. I heard many of the adoring kids say, “This is the greatest concert I have ever, ever been to.” All I could think was that they hadn’t been to enough concerts yet.
The one truly amazing element of the band is Jade Castrinos. She’s bashful and brash at the same time, with a voice that could melt butter and cut through a phone book. She’s got the magical X factor. Someone needs to give her her own band, stat. She should sing every song and call all the shots. Maybe that would take away from her timid charm, but I think that given the reigns, she would only end up kicking ass. At the end of the night I walked away feeling alright about Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros as a project, but a huge, huge Jade fan.
Here’s a bunch of pics. I’ve just lumped them all together. The first two band pics that don’t have Edward Sharpe people in them are of the opener, whose name I do not know.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at Governors Islands:
Photos (for Impose): Heartless Bastards, The Builders and The Butchers, and Peter Wolf Crier at Music Hall of Williamsburg
No surprises at this show, as far as Heartless Bastards are concerned. Erika Wennerstrom and her merry band came on stage, melted face, and ruled the medium-sized crowd with good old fashioned Southern rock and roll, Black Lips style but with a feel all their own. They’re just such a solid band. And solid is the right word in every way. Impenetrable, present, staid. Even if it does lack a little excitement, it’s a good show.
The Builders and The Butchers were an unexpected delight. They play the kind of music that really good musicians who are bored with indie rock and don’t care about being cool anymore play. Incorporating old time and bluesy feels, multiple percussionists, and electric mandos and banjos, they play a nice hybrid of country rock. If it isn’t entirely original or gets a bit repetitive, it doesn’t matter. They play with boundless, boundless energy. The builds and swells captured the entire audience, most of whom seemed unfamiliar with the band. I’m now puzzled by the fact that they haven’t gotten more attention. If you value excellence in live music, then this is a band that you need to see. Check out the photos right here at Impose.
It was a nice Thursday at Cake Shop- lots of good vibes to go around. I think people from Austin just generally know how to have a nice, laid back time, and how to be nice to each other. Yellow Fever brought all that, plus their excellent tunes with them from Texas. They played a concise, short set full of satisfying songs. The beauty of Yellow Fever is their mastery of thirds. Their sparse, dueling guitar and keyboard parts often reside in this interval, and become irresistibly catchy in the way they slide up to that second note. The genius of the songs also lie in the spaces. The drummer deserves full credit for a perfectly matched sparse style. The band always remind me of Micachu and The Shapes whenever I see them- same sort of quirky, memorable songwriting. I think they have the potential to become very successful, but I’m wondering how their show will translate to places like Bowery or Music Hall. Will they be able to fill the space? I hope we get to find out soon.
The Numerators started the show. I wasn’t sure what to make of them. These guys were definitely the nerdy weirdos in high school who were the only people who listened to Pavement and decided to start a band. They painted their faces with Man Man-esque streaks, played one song with an iPod projecting a conservative speech about Harry Potter, played some songs where it seemed like they could hardly play their instruments, and played some really great, promising, garage punk jams. They announced that they had a t-shirt for sale, just one left, and it had a drawing of a pizza-face, but no band name. Just so you didn’t have to wear the shirt and have it be “like, from a band.” So does that mean they’re a band that sells t-shirts on the side? It was all sort of endearing, but mildly bewildering at the same time.
Dream Diary has the right formula down, but they need to work a little more on getting it right. I was more impressed than the first time I saw them a few months ago at Monster Island. With guy/girl vocals, they seem to be quoting the same sort of 90s aesthetic as Pains of Being Pure at Heart, but don’t quite have all their technology worked out. I’d like to see them perfect their guitar tones, and tighten up the solos. Listen to the track below; I think you’ll see what I mean. This is a little superfluous, but I think it would also give the band more energy if the lead singer stood in the middle. It’s not that important, but things like that matter.
Pterodactyl was the last band of the night, which was fitting because it was their guitarist’s 30th birthday at midnight. There was lots of slightly inebriated bantering, birthday shots, and some pretty decent part proggy part punky jams. It felt more like someone’s birthday party with a band playing than a concert, but I’m glad that everyone seemed to be having such a nice time.
I always have really high hopes for Northside, and I always end up wussing out. After a very fun Thursday evening (see yesterday’s post), I was planning on an ambitious Friday night for Northside’s busiest day. I ended up just hanging out in South Brooklyn with my friends, which is, you know, a good thing to do, but wouldn’t necessarily happen at a festival that didn’t take place in your home town. Ah, the perils of local music. Luckily, Impose’s showcase took place on Saturday night, which provided another opportunity to see a bunch of really great bands. I was exhausted from my Friday night, but managed to catch Union, Total Slacker, Coasting, Frankie Rose & The Outs, and Matteah Baim before I called it quits and went home. You can check out my photos of those bands at Impose right here, along with photos of Dark Dark Dark by Tod Seelie and Lower Dens by Sarahana.
Wavves. Wavves, Wavves, Wavves, Wavves, Wavves. Are you really dating Best Coast or is it all just a publicity stunt? Why exactly did you sign to Mountain Dew Records? And are you flat-ironing your hair now? It kind of looks like you are. So many questions. One resounding answer. A pretty sweet rock and roll show. While it’s eerie to see Pope and Hayes backing Wavves, saying things like, “We taught him how to be a punk,” when only a few months ago they were quitting the band of one of the actual last true punks, only to have him die weeks later, they are a damn fine rhythm section. The threesome has clearly practiced quite a lot since their awful Brooklyn Bowl gig (they did, in fact, cut a record in that time), but I still think the best version of Wavves I’ve seen was with Zach Hill. There’s always a lot to say about Wavves, but I’ll keep this brief since it’s so belated. This show at the Knitting Factory was immensely fun, with a ridiculous amount of stage-diving and Pete and Pete theme songs. Hayes’ stage banter was cuter and less offensive this time around, which seemed to signal that the band had finally jelled. And Nathan Williams himself? He seemed coolly unaffected by it all, kicking out the jams and surfing along with his guitar out into the crowd.
Cloud Nothings played a fantastic set. At first I thought their drummer was rushing, but as their set wore on it quickly became apparent that they planned to play their songs as fast as they humanly could. A lot of the pop intricacies were lost, but it sure made for a fun show. It was my first time watching Dom, and I generally liked them. Their songs seemed to drift between 60s surf-style garage rock tunes and more 80s synth inspired ones. I’m sure you could guess which ones I favored, but I’ll spend a little more time with this band before dispensing my final judgement. They’re worth checking out, at least, with a reservedly interesting frontman.