Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Posts Tagged ‘pop’

Ex Hex ‘Rips’ and Killed It!

Posted by xneverwherex on October 22, 2014

Ex Hex
Wild Moth
October 14, 2014
Rickshaw Stop

Finally! A show at the Rickshaw Stop that did NOT start at 11pm. It must be a sign that Im getting old as those shows are always so insanely late. I guess those are just Popscene nights.

Ex Hex

Ex Hex

DC-based Ex Hex was in town ‘opening’ up for Speedy Gonzalez who I didnt stick around for. Its hard to believe that Mary Timony’s new band was not the headliner as everyone was there to see her and her new band. Mary Timony, of Wild Flag, Helium and her own band, as well as others, had formed a new trio with other DC natives Laura Harris (kick ass drummer) and Betsy Wright (bass/vocals).

The band was awesome. On tour for their new album Rips the trio played a fast power-punk-pop set. It had the all-girls feeling of The Go-Go’s if they were a bit more punk. The band started out with new single ‘Dont Wanna Lose’ which is catchy, fun, jumping goodness. Its just awesome. They wasted no time as they went from song to song with insane guitar playing and incredibly catchy bass lines. Betsy and Mary have great chemistry on stage and feed off each other, playing up close to each other, leaning against each other and playing the hell out of their instruments. Betsy has amazing vocals and sounded amazing on the songs she sang on.

Ex Hex

Ex Hex

It was a bit of a bummer when the sound totally cut out right after “All Kindsa Girls” and the girls were left on stage to fend for themselves. Perhaps its amusing because right before they played that they dedicated it to the bartenders and said ‘yes – we are really going to play this song’. Then, a total absence of sound techs (or pretty much anyone that worked at the club) and they had to kind of wing ‘Outro’. So instead it became an instrumental guitar heavy song with lots of drums and no vocals. I recall Mary trying to sing some and even in the front it was hard to hear a thing. I could watch them mouthing words, but it was pretty sucky. I knew at one point Mary was about ready to give up, but Betsy kept telling her to play on. Was so glad that they did and managed to do one more song. And somehow the mic started working again.

It was a really awesome set and the trio were awesome together. Theyre still on tour and making their way back to the East Coast again, so if you havent seen them and are a fan of either Mary or just incredible guitar playing/power-punk-pop music, make sure to see them.

SF-based Wild Moth opened the show. Sadly, it was impossible to make out vocals with such insanely loud guitars. It sounded so muddled that I couldnt figure out if the sound system was just awful at Rickshaw Stop or this was the bands sound. If theyre on another set, Ill definitely see them again to see if its any better.

Set list:
Dont Wanna Lose
Waterfall
Waste Your Time
How You Got That Girl
New Kid
Hot and Cold
Beast
Radio On
You Fell Apart
All Kindsa Girls (The Real Kids cover)
Outro (minus vocals)
Everywhere

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Sharon Van Etten Sizzles & Shines (and is secretly a comedian)

Posted by xneverwherex on July 2, 2014

Sharon Van Etten
Jana Hunter (Lower Dens)
The Independent
June 30, 2014

Sharon Van Etten, the charming singer/songwriter from Brooklyn, was all smiles and looking incredible. Clad in a form fitting black dress with gold up the middle and very high heels, she was looking smashing! Better than looking good, she was all charm with a witty/dry sense of humour and seems to laugh at her own jokes and is very light-hearted. Its not exactly what one expects after listening to her songs. She doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously and knows how to let loose. As mentioned, she is charming and delightful.

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

SVE played to a packed house Monday night. Both of her shows sold out in San Francisco. She could easily be playing much larger venues, but its clear that shes comfortable and loves the intimacy. From the sounds of it, her show on Sunday night was nothing short of spectacular so it was hard to know what the show would be like. And this show was beyond incredible.

The majority of songs were off the new album Are We There. While her music is still powerful and haunting, she’s moved beyond heartbreak. Its clear that this is the grown-up version of herself, moving on with life. Her new album still has an angst to it, and its easy to get caught up in it and just feel it all. Its like everything she’s ever felt goes into her songs and it exudes from her as she plays.

She played ‘Leonard‘ dedicating it to the ex who probably knew it was written for him. As she said, his real name is ‘Bleonard’. It was like an inside joke that we were all part of, no matter how stupid it sounded. It was a funny joke and even better to see that she can now joke about this toxic relationship.

She talked lots about her merch, oh yeah she does have kleenex with her face on it so you know, you can blow your nose into. (no im not making this up!). And umbrellas for the rainy days we don’t seem to have (clearly an ongoing joke, with someone and her yelling ‘too soon’). She’s even thought of adding a new part to her show ‘current events with Sharon Van Etten’. Hah! Seriously, she could be on a talk show at the rate shes going. She talked to a huge fan in the front asking what current events she missed. Naturally, the story brought up was the student stuck in the vagina in Germany (because these things always occur). Ive got to hand it to her, without missing a beat she said ‘and the next song is “Break Me“‘, giggling as she starts playing the droning, lo-fi song. Its gorgeous like everything she plays.

SVE seems to know how to push people and understands concert crowds all too well. While there was lots of banter back and forth between the crowd and her, there were the inevitable naysayers who were getting upset and wanted her to just play. She joked about blogs and what kinds of nasty things would be written about the show and people would complain about her lack of playing and even more importantly there’s always the people who complain that enough old songs weren’t played. Its the nature of being in a band, and you never can win them all. But I actually think she should have garnered even more fans. And for those not paying attention, she played more songs last night than she did at her prior shows.

She quickly introduced the band as others yelled out for that in the mix of the banter. Her band is just awesome and it appears most of them aren’t going elsewhere. Heather Woods Broderick (Efterklang), is a great addition and matches Sharon Van Etten’s raw, haunting vocals. On the crowd-pleasing hit ‘Serpents‘, the women go back and forth almost as in a duel with each out performing each other with the vocals. Its strong, powerful and is beyond emotional. It packed a punch and made the already powerful song sound even better. Doug Keith, on guitar and vocals, was nicknamed ‘Pretty Boy’, by a fan who wanted to know which effects he was using on the guitar. Turns out it was the ebow, which he was nice enough to even spell.

She ended the set asking for some weed and promising a setlist in return. As she played the last song of the night, “Everytime the Sun Comes Up“, complete with laughter and giggles, some guys in front of her were nice enough to blow smoke up at her. It was the only song she had written totally stoned. After the show they gave her a joint and she kept to her word and gave out a setlist.

All in all, SVE sounded amazing and full but still has a haunting ache to her voice. Her fans relate as we all have stories, but she’s managed to articulate it so well with not just her lyrics, but with the music itself. This album is a nice departure from the last. Instead of all the amazing guest collaborators (The Dessners, Wye Oak, etc), this is more herself and perhaps it shows.

Jana Hunter

Jana Hunter

Jana Hunter, lead singer of Baltimore’s Lower Dens, opened the set. Armed simply with just a guitar and a laptop, she sat down in a chair and played a lovely short set. It felt so intimate as if we were watching someone in her recording studio preparing her new album. The material is dark and ethereal and comes across as oh so moody. Simply put, its gorgeous and just takes you away.

It was great to hear her have some fun with Hall & Oates’ ‘Maneater‘; ’twas an amazing cover. And her voice had the perfect amount of rasp, which probably meant she did smoke the perfect amount of cigarettes.

SVE Set List:
Afraid of Nothing
Taking Chances
Tarifa
Save Yourself
Nothing Will Change
Break Me
Don’t Do It
I Love You But Im Lost
Leonard
You Know ME Well
Serpents
Your Love is Killing Me

I Know (SVE solo)
All I Can
Everytime The Sun Comes Up

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It Must Be Summer – Fountains of Wayne @ GAMH

Posted by xneverwherex on July 24, 2012

Fountains of Wayne
Mike Viola
Great American Music Hall
7/19/12

It seems like every time I see Fountains of Wayne its the summer. They are the perfect summer band, so it works out quite nice. The band came here via Japan and were still jet-lagged from the plane ride. They joked about the questions the Japanese asked them and clearly they had a great time. While maybe a bit tired, you never once got that feeling from them during the set.

The band played with so much energy. The crowd just loved Adam – who doesnt – and throughout the show you could hear various people yelling out his name. The crowd was beyond energetic and everyone around me was singing and dancing. There was just so much love for the band.

The band, who seems to have not stopped touring since summer of last year, was here promoting the new album Sky Full of Holes. Its great that the band manages to play songs from all of their albums. My favorite album has always been Utopia Parkway – so its always good to hear “Denise” and “Red Dragon Tattoo” (perhaps my favorite song).

The night seemed to go by at record speed. Their catchy power-pop songs felt like they were played at a frenetic 3 minute speed (they might have, actually). The guitars as always really add to the show. Im pretty sure the entire crowd was rocking out. I couldnt wait for the ‘Radiation Vibe’ medley which seems to always occur now. The real surprise is what songs will they mix it up. The guy behind me was nearly going into cardiac arrest yelling ‘Billy f’ing Squier’. Hah! Its hard to argue with the following mix tho – Radiation Vibe/White Wedding (Billy Idol)/Everybody Wants You (Billy Squier), Rock’n Me (Steve Miller Band)/Jet (Paul McCartney & Wings)/Sister Golden Hair (America)/Radiation Vibe. Im a huge fan of America (I make no apologies) and this was just insane. The crowd is driven to insanity and then bam – band leaves the stage.

Thankfully the band came back out with a 5 song encore. Of course, Stacy’s Mom (has got it going on) and Sink to the bottom was on it. Its hard to imagine a show without either of them (not sure it can happen).

Always great to see a NY local band along with FoW. I think it must be a staple for them. Mike Viola was an opener not to be missed. He had really catchy pop songs – so it wasnt a surprise to google him and find out that he composed songs for movies “That Thing You Do”. The 2 other guys accompanying him were a great addition, but he alone would have been fabulous. He’s definitely an artist worth checking out.

Setlist:
Bought for a Song
It Must Be Summer
Someone to Love
Denise
Red Dragon Tattoo
The Summer Place
Richie and Ruben
Valley Winter Song
Hackensack
A Dip in the Ocean
Bright Future in Sales
Barbara H
Mexican Wine
Radiation Vibe Medley: Radiation Vibe/White Wedding (Billy Idol)/Everybody Wants You (Billy Squier)/Rock’n Me (Steve Miller Band)/Jet (Paul McCartney/Wings)/Sister Golden Hair (America)/Radiation Vibe

Encore:
I-95
Cemetery Guns
Joe Rey
Stacy’s Mom
Sink to the Bottom

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Dead on the Dancefloor

Posted by xneverwherex on January 18, 2012

The Good Natured
Nicos Gun

Mercury Lounge
1/16/12

Sarah McIntosh makes up 1/3 of The Good Natured. She is pretty much the face of the band and can’t be more adorable. With a soft spoken British accent, she is just pleasant to listen to. Tonight shes come out in skin tight purple satiny pants with heels that are to die for. She moves around the stage looking like she came out of an 80s goth video. This time around, her hair is more akin to looking like she’s a new Robert Smith (The Cure) and she cant look better. With thick black eyes, she just might be the new Siouxsie Sioux.

Vocally the band brings out the dark emotions of the 80s goth bands (Siouxsie, The Cure) but then puts an electro spin on it, and they become a mix of them and the likes of Ladytron. She describes her music as pop music with heart which it can definitely be, if you like your pop music a bit on the darker side.

Tonights show started out with their new single ‘Video Voyeur’ which is quite catchy and then went into the even more catchy pop song ‘Be My Animal’. Sarah wasted no time getting off the stage and dancing in the crowd. She definitely plays off the energy and just loves to get the crowd to dance. She managed to get into the crowd 2x during the set; the second time was during the oh so sexy song ‘Dead on the Dancefloor’.

The set was a good mix of newer and old songs. The only real disappointment was the set itself was beyond short at just 8 songs. It might have been 20 or 30 minutes but there was still a crowd left wanting a lot more. And who wouldnt, when it comes to watching Sarah on stage and being captivated and mesmerized.

Nicos Gun

Nicos Gunopened up the set. Philly surely knows how to make good dirty electro funk. And this band always delivers when it comes to that. It was nearly a year since I last saw them, and while some of my favorite songs were not played, its hard not to love everything that they do. They know how to make their songs sound just a bit dirty and add a lot of the funk to it. The band seemed to be having an awesome time really getting into the songs. It seemed the band was having more fun than most of the crowd, which was a pity. While they are a completely different band than The Good Natured they were definitely on par with them in a different style.

The lead singer exuded sex and his 70s inspired vest couldnt have looked better on him. He has the swagger of the other lead singers from the 70s and knows how to work it. The other guys in the band feed off his constant energy. Their set was pretty awesome nearing about 40 minutes. Its always a bit interesting when the opener has a longer set the headliner. I guess when its 2 bands who are both starting out, you just never know what youll get.

This was really an awesome show and theyre definitely worth checking out. For anyone in the SF/LA area theyll be west in a couple days!

The Good Natured Set List:
Video Voyeur
Be My Animal
Wolves
Your Body is a Machine
Lovers
Sting
Dead on the Dancefloor
Skeleton

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A Night of French Pop

Posted by xneverwherex on September 25, 2011

Ivy
Tahiti 80
Gramercy Theatre
9/24/11

Ivy had finally returned after a 6 year disappearance. It was great that they brought their French counter-parts with them along for the ride (Tahiti 80). While Ivy technically isn’t French, lead singer Dominique Durand most definitely is. She still looked and sounded as great as ever. She did introduce all of the band members, much to the chagrin of husband Andy Chase, who commented cheekily with ‘I guess we need a new singer now’.

The band was definitely having fun on stage. Adam Schlesinger (of Fountains of Wayne fame) said some funny things which Im not remembering. It was great when they played The Go-Betweens lovely song “Through the Streets of Your Town” even announcing it wasnt their song. Very funny esp as the band said how it showed they hadnt been playing in years as no one does that, but actually many times that does happen (just no mention of the original artist – Im looking at you Broken Social Scene). Either way, the song sounded as great as the original. Lots of people were singing and dancing along.

Through The Streets Of Your Town

Their older hits are definitely what the fans wanted to hear. Lots of fans screaming out songs, of which few were played. The band kept it to a fairly short set, barely reaching an hour. It is too bad as there is so much material. But as Dominique said, it was past her bedtime. Their music sounds even more pop-friendly than Tahiti 80 and is always a good time. The crowd was definitely loving “Thinking About You” and everyone sang and moved around to it. The new material of “All Hours” sounds just as great and I definitely need to be getting my hands on it soon.

Hopefully the band will be back around soon with a proper tour for the new album. And just hopefully play a bit longer.

Openers Tahiti 80 were as fun as ever. A pity their set was quite short as well, as it seems they could have played a lot more. Ah the joys of being an opener. The French group seemed to be having a really great time on stage. Their new material sounds very reminiscent of their first album. Some very catchy, poppy, dance-y songs. It was great hearing a nice mix of new material and their early work. “Heartbeat” still sounds as great as ever and is just beyond super catchy.

The bands definitely were a great fit together. Its no surprise as Andy Chase did produce the bands first 2 albums. Hopefully they will continue a full tour all together. If you like pop bands with great melodies and catchy songs, these are 2 bands that are definitely worth seeing together.

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Who Are The Pinker Tones?

Posted by xneverwherex on April 19, 2011

The Pinker Tones
Highline Ballroom
April 17, 2011

Its always quite odd when you show up at a venue – about 15 minutes before the band comes on and NO ONE is there. Ok – there were a few people (friends of the band?) there eating/drinking, but really – that was it. 9pm rolls around and the band isnt coming on. A friend inquires and learns that within 15 minutes – people or none – the band is going on.

Sure enough 15 minutes later The Pinker Tones come out. It seems theyre a band that either no one knows of – or they had a serious lack of promotion. Ill go with a bit of both. Sunday nights are a hard sell and the Highline isnt quite ideal if you dont live on the west side. With all that being said – the band put on a fun show. Maybe 100 people max showed up but everyone seemed to be having a great time. The band dedicated a song to the Land of the Rising Sun – and then made sure to tell us it was Japan. So naturally it meant they were playing the beyond catchy “Tokyo”.

The band did play as if it were a full venue. They were energetic and came out with sunglasses and similar outfits, black pants/white shirts. They did a combination of speaking in Spanish and English. I was surprised that they did so many English-speaking songs when a good chunk of their music is in Spanish. After all – they are from Barcelona its to be expected. They even did a song and broke up the small crowd alternating the bops or whatever we were yelling out. At best it was pathetic but hopefully we could all laugh about it. They played some of their earlier songs off their first album but focused mostly on Modular. Estirado al Sol and Invisible are quite catchy. A lot of the songs became sing alongs. Its just a pity that their music is somewhere between 80s synth pop/dancey and then they just have other songs that are not even in the same vein. So the question is – who are they?

The band ended with a small dance party and started mixing up their own songs. Throwing in some 70s songs and it was fun. The most amusing part was the song/dance that could have been the macarena. Between the pointing to the head, the world and I forgot the rest of what we did I felt like a total kid again.

The band tried their best to be in good spirits. They cut their encore short which was pretty amazing that they even bothered with one. Its gotta be frustrating to come over from Europe to have a nearly empty club. But they came out and played a good show. I was glad that I saw them – Im sure they needed all the support they could get!

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