Tom Vek @ Union Pool, July 13th 2011

It was Tom Vek’s second night playing in New York City and even though I was not at his Mercury Lounge concert, I can assure you the vibe at Union Pool had to be drastically different. It had rained that day, the temperature had cooled down a little… A nice evening outside sipping drinks in the bar’s outdoor courtyard right by the BQE must have given the audience a better disposition to rock out. I like to think so.
But before we could see Mr. Vek, we heard Cookies, “a band from New York City specializing in popular music” as they say on their website. A trio of multi-tasking musicians, they played a short set of danceable electro-pop songs, under the watchful eye of the headliner himself. Audience was a bit shy during the set, leaving a wide safety distance between the small stage and the first row. Still, the way the band mixed electronics with their instruments seemed like a fitting match and an appropriate lead-in for Vek. The set only got better as it went along; by the end, ears were warmed up, necks were a bit looser and the room was packed.

When Tom Vek steps out onto the stage, it’s hard to imagine he is actually as animated a performer as he is. With his new perfectly combed and sculpted hair, thick-rimmed black glasses, white t-shirt, jeans and tan lace-up boots, he seems very unassuming and calm. But once the music starts, the shift is immediate; he’s in it.

The set opened with “Hold Your Hand” off his new record, Leisure Seizure. The bass could have burst your chest open and the music immediately filled up the entirety of the cozy venue. As he plays, Vek sways and swings with the music, marking every drum break, every moment a new electronic sample is introduced with some part of his body, even moving his hand next to the microphone according to the tune he is singing.

Performing a nice balance of songs from his new album and songs from his first LP We Have Sound, Vek switched between playing bass and guitar. Hearing the song “C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)” showed just how powerful the marriage of two bass guitars and sharp drumming can be. “World of Doubt,” off his new release, took on even more grit and toughness live than on the recorded version.

The band was having fun on stage and so was the crowd. The audience’s appreciative head-bobbing quickly escalated to full-on dancing, with some concert goers up by the stage almost looking like they were in a trance. Vek isn’t too much into funny banter between songs but he did stop to thank everyone present for coming out several times and even complimented the venue (which was indeed very cute).

The set was tight and never felt like it was dying down, even during the slower songs. The last two songs were the first single off the new album, “A Chore” and the harsh “A.P.O.L.O.G.Y,” before which he thanked the opening band Cookies and his band mates. Sadly, there was no encore, but after such an electrifying set, our ears were bound to be ringing with the sound of his beat rock tunes for a while.

Setlist:

1. Hold Your Hand

2. We Do Nothing

3. C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)

4. World of Doubt

5. If You Want

6. Someone Loves You

7. Nothing But Green Lights

8. Aroused

9. I Ain’t Saying My Goodbyes

10. Seizemic

11. A Chore

12. A.P.O.L.O.G.Y.

Advertisements

Cassettes Won’t Listen Release ‘Evinspacey’ June 21st


Cassettes Won’t Listen, the one-man project of Jason Drake (partner and former director of marketing at the famed indie hip hop label Definitive Jux) announced the release of his full-length album Evinspacey. Known best for the single “Cutting Balloons” and official remixes of notable artists such as Aesop Rock, El-P, Midlake, Mr. Lif, Morcheeba and others, Drake’s track “The Echoes” mixes futuristic hip hop beats with his melodic vocals. The album itself is Drake’s nod to his new address (LA from Brooklyn) as well a musing on despair in the city. Summer and Fall tour dates for Cassettes Won’t Listen will be announced soon. Meanwhile, listen to “The Echoes” while meandering down the street and you will find yourself transported into a completely new world. A world you won’t need much convincing to explore.

New Video From Wild Beasts’ Upcoming Record Availalble


The video for the single “Albatross” off the impending third record, Smother, from English band Wild Beasts is now available for viewing. The video is artfully filmed by Dave Ma focusing on an attractive, tortured female dancer while Wild Beasts look on from some kind of outside viewing station. It seems as though this beautiful dancer is a patient in an institution of some kind until her room switches to a kind of photo shoot back drop. Digital music permeates the song with serene, chorus like vocals in the background. In the video, you can see the lips of the Wild Beasts members moving, but exactly what they are singing is indistinguishable. The music is pretty and the video is abstract and captivating with lovely lighting and costumes but once it’s over the experience feels unrequited. Maybe a listen to the record as a whole is needed to be fully satisfied.

Yvette Announce Spring Tour Dates

Industrial “loud” duo Yvette have announced spring tour dates.  The tour is to promote their self-titled 7″.  Catch them at these spots:

Saturday 5/28: Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
Sunday 5/29: Washington, DC @ Velvet Lounge w/ Lady Cop
Monday 5/30: Greensboro, NC @ Glenwood Coffee and Books
Tuesday 5/31: Atlanta, GA @ 529
Wednesday 6/1: Gainesville, FL @ The Laboratory w/ Hear Hums, Praything
Friday 6/3: Nashville, TN @ Betty’s w/ Trophy Wife, Adventure Bomb
Sunday 6/5: St. Louis, MO @ LEMP Arts
Monday 6/6: Chicago, IL @ Panchos w/ Geffika, Wishgift
Wednesday 6/8: Detroit, MI @ Lager House
Thursday 6/9: Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class
Saturday 6/11: Pittsburgh, PA @ The Shop w/ Hidden Twin (mem. Modey Lemon), Passengers

Album Review: Javelin – ‘Canyon Candy’

While Canyon Candy is a far cry from the hip-hop electro Javelin has bestowed upon us previously, it’s not something to miss. Inspired by the rolling tumble weeds and red clay encrusted jeans of the Wild West this brief album brings back snippets of that the Frontier used to be.  Word is that this is the future soundtrack of an upcoming epic of the same name, directed by Mike Anderson.  Previous fans of Javelin may be turned off by this album, it’s not electronically inclined and if anything, sounds vintage.  However, Javelin’s master-sampling and melody-making skills were not missed.  The album maintained a melodic sway the whole time, with twangy steel guitars and wavering vocals in replacement of synthesizers and funk samples.  With most of the songs finishing between one and a half to two and a half minutes, one of this album’s qualities is certainly brevity.  As soon as one song begins it suddenly seems to end, sometimes a bit too quickly.  The use of samples in tracks such as “Strawberry Roan” and “Trembler” creates an authentic western sound, and adds to the overall reminiscent feel of the album.  At the same time, tracks like “Colorado Trail,” and even “Strawberry Roan,” incorporate a little more of the beat that Javelin is known for.  Javelin incorporated some western instruments too, I’m pretty sure I detected a steel guitar, and did I hear a jaw harp in “Love Gulch?”  Standouts on this short album are “Estavez,” “Colorado Trail,” and “Streets of Laredo.”  If you’re a Javelin fan who is open to an album unlike any of its predecessors, pick this album up.  You’ll be amazed by their versatility and willingness to experiment. Available April 16th, 2011.

My Coachella 2011 Experience

Wow.  Where do I possibly begin to describe Coachella 2011?  Well, I can sit here and complain about the heat and the itchy bracelets (or “shackles” as my friend Kim called them) – but why bother when the positives outweigh the negatives? 

First of all, I have to state that Goldenvoice did an amazing job this year with crowd control.  There were the aforementioned bracelets that may have itched slightly but man, they ensured who was getting in and out of the enormous field.  You couldn’t even get within proximity of the Empire Polo Fields without the magic bracelet.  Check points for cars, walkers, bicyclists, etc. were all over Indio.  Well played, Goldenvoice – no gatecrashers this year!  Hence, no overcrowding. That brings me to the physical size of the venue.  Several football fields long, it was even bigger than last year and made room for yet another tent (ok, it was being called a dome, whatever).  The combined effect of the scanned bracelets and bigger venue size made for a fantastic weekend where overcrowding didn’t feel like an issue.  Amazing!

The fashion was, well, wacky again to say the least.  I really wanted to ask the people with fake fur scarves (and even fake fur gloves!?) what they were thinking. I mean, people, come ON – it was 98 degrees on Saturday!  Very, very hot.  I wore a simple tank top and shorts and roasted with the best of them in the shade of the beer garden each afternoon.  The food was a bit expensive as it usually is (same with the alcoholic drinks) but it was pretty darn good again.  Spicy Pie for the win!

ANYWAY – onto the music.  I tried not to drive myself crazy with the numerous conflicts in set times and just went with the flow.  I started off Friday by seeing The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.  They were having a blast up there; you could see it written all over their faces. Their near-shoegazing sounds made for a nice afternoon chillout zone and the crowd swayed along with their tunes.  Lead singer Kip Berman chatted warmly with the audience about which acts he was excited to see and highly encouraged the masses to see Suede tomorrow night (more on that later!). 

Next up was chilling out in the beer garden by the large Coachella Stage to see if Lauryn Hill would actually show up.  We figured hey, let’s hydrate and see what happens.  (Little did I know that Cee-Lo Green had shown up suuuuuuper late for his set and then had a hissy fit when he was told he had to end his set early.  Dude, show up on time and then you get to sing all your songs!)  So I’m looking at my blackberry and wondering how late she’s going to be, or whether she’s going to show up at all and lo and behold, a mere 15 minutes late, there she is!  She sounded a bit hoarse and was drowned out a bit by her incredible band and backup singers but the minute she got into Fugees music, you could just feel her win over the growing crowd.  Nicely done, Ms. Lauryn Hill!

After being surprised and then dancing for a bit, we stayed put to listen to Interpol start their set.  Moody and intense – yes.  Solid songs – definitely.  The super large screens on each side of the Coachella Stage added to the dark quality of their songs by flashing red lights throughout their set.

Next up – the Black Keys.  The crowd swelled for these guys and boy, you could see why within 5 notes of the first song.  Watching the chemistry between Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach is just incredible.  Patrick keeps a steady beat while watching Dan rip into his guitar solos.  Absolutely amazing duo and it was impressive to see what songs they chose from their latest album and what gems they chose from the past albums.  Well played, boys!

Then came Kings of Leon which was my biggest worry of the weekend.  Why was I worrying?  Well, the public has turned on them recently since “Use Somebody” has been played on soft rock stations.  And once-rabid fans are just super annoyed over their last two albums, declaring them “too soft” and wishing them to return to their rockin’ roots of their earlier albums.  I was nervously reading the Coachella message board and I’d say roughly 80% of the comments were anti-KoL and I was starting to wonder if they would even draw much of a crowd.  Well, I’ve been a fan of them for a long time and I’m pleased to announce they had a large crowd and the Followills appeared to have listened to their fanbase and played a large number of older songs!  Excellent.  Very good call!  The crowd seemed receptive and not throwing out boos or catcalls like I had feared. Phew.

Next up was the traditional “rave” spot of the weekend being performed by the amazing duo The Chemical Brothers.  Starting a few minutes late was forgiven quickly as they put on a stunning show of visuals and beats.  Glow sticks were rampant as expected and the duo closed out a fantastic first day.

Next day after some lovely time poolside (yes, you can be jealous), we headed right for the beer garden for some Erykah Badu.  There were some technical glitches during her performance but it didn’t seem to get the crowd or herself down.  “On and On” was met with usual chilled out, blissful sway-type dancing and provided a great start to our Saturday.

After feeling nice and chilled out, we went for more of the same – the Mancurians known as Elbow.  Singer Guy Garvey seemed to be immediately overwhelmed by the oppressive heat within the Mojave tent but didn’t let it ruin his band’s performance.  The second song into the set was “Grounds for Divorce” and the crowd fed into it right away.  The entire set left everyone feeling peaceful and easygoing and was quite a nice way to celebrate the sunset (and decreasing temperatures) on the second day of Coachella.

We decided to hop onto the ferris wheel and kill some time rather than join a band’s set midway through.  The wait was worth it when we reentered the Mojave tent for The Swell Season.  Glen Hansard came out for a few minutes to tune with the band (imagine that, a performer wanting to be part of the setup process!) and the growing crowd screamed approval.  Once the entire band took stage, it was just mindblowing how incredible their performance was.  The crowd sang along to the songs from the movie Once in approval and overall, it was another feelgood and heartfelt performance for the day.

Right after The Swell Season left the stage, I pulled my friend Kim forward as far as we could go (which turned out to be pretty damn close) and waited for Suede (that’s The London Suede to us Americans).  She had never heard one song by them and I was just dying to see how they would be.  Well – they were nothing short of incredible.  I’m going to call them the act of the weekend. Seriously, that good!  Lead singer Brett Anderson never uttered a word to the audience as he immediately laid out his signature sexy moves by swaying his hips, jumping up and down, demanding the crowd sing along and wrapping the mic around his body several times.  The band ripped into their hits without a hitch, sometimes just starting a song on the final note of the previous song.  I am still absolutely mesmerized by their performance and can only hope they’ll come back to the states for another show.  My friend turned to me with a huge grin on her face and said “that was UNBELIEVABLE” and a guy to our right stated “that was better than sex.”  Yes people, it was THAT good of a performance.

We rushed over to catch Arcade Fire as soon as Suede finished up and to our delight, they were only 2 songs in.  Phew!  Arcade Fire was solid as always, playing a great mix of songs from their Grammy-winning album and frontman Win Butler seeming to be in disbelief that they were playing to such an impressively huge crowd.  While I personally was still on a Suede high, I will say that Arcade Fire was great and the surprise of the balls being dropped at the end was a great way to cap Saturday night.

And then, the last day.  Booooo.  😦  Once again, we headed right for the beer garden and listened to Nas and Damian Marley.  The crowd within the beer garden was highly enthusiastic when Nas did his biggest hits and then broke out in cheers and applause for their rendition of Bob Marley’s “Could This Be Love.”  Very nice!

We raced over to catch some of Best Coast, who did their dreamy super short songs to a large crowd.  Their hit song “Boyfriend” got the biggest reception but they also threw in some brand new songs into the mix. 

After grabbing a burger and shake, we ran over to catch Foster the People.  They came on a bit late for the massive crowd in the Gobi tent and we only caught a few songs, but the band seemed to be having a blast playing for a crowd that was spilling out of the tent. 

We zipped over to catch the majority of Duran Duran’s set.  The 80s rockers blended a nice mix of songs from their latest Mark Ronson-produced album and biggest hits from the 80s.  Seeing people randomly dance around for “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” was a great sight.

The it was time for The Strokes.  Julian Casablancas made his usually witty comments in-between songs and the band gave the crowd exactly what they wanted – rock songs delivered with gusto.  Playing all their past hits, you could tell the band was truly enjoying themselves on stage.

And then it was time for the most highly anticipated performance of the whole weekend – Kanye West.  Everyone was wondering how he would cap an amazing weekend of music and boy, he did NOT let us down. Appearing on a moving elevated crane above the audience with a stage full of writhing dancers, one got the feeling they were in for the performance of a lifetime. Sure enough, Kanye delivered and dedicated it to his beloved mother, ending the night with a heartfelt “Hey Mama.” 

I fully admit to still having the post-Coachella blues (and total exhaustion from taking the redeye back to NYC last night) but all I have to do is look at my pictures from the weekend and relive the memories.  I can’t wait until Coachella 2012 🙂