Haunted Hearts toured Japan last year, but stateside shows have been scant. On this night, billed as NY's "only opportunity to hear Initiation played in full," Haunted Hearts managed to succeed while bringing few surprises to the table. The five piece band played Initiation front to back, tracks one thru eight in order, while sounding as confident and tight as though they're the tour-tested road warriors that they aren't.
Heheheheheheh. Ah, 2014: another year where I tell myself 'this is the year my obsessive show-going addiction ends;' another year where I see more shows than anyone I know who isn't employed at a performance space / venue. WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!
A quick list of locations where I've seen shows this year:
--Brooklyn (double natch)
--on a boat circling Manhattan
--Commerce City, CO
--Miami (in 7 days!)
As of this very moment, I've seen 93 concerts this year, and I've got at least three more coming up - Uncle Ebenezer at Knitting Factory Saturday night, Television (first time seeing them) at Irving Plaza on 12/28, and a little up-and-coming rock band who I think are called Assface in Miami on New Year's. The following is my totally subjective, largely meaningless, and wholly amusing (to me) recap of the best stuff I saw in '14.
Oh, and Happy Holidays to all!
The Ten Best Phish Shows I Saw All Year:
1.) Phish, 10/31/14 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
2.) Phish, 7/13/14 Randall's Island, NYC
3.) Phish, 7/27/14 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
4.) Phish, 8/29/14 Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
5.) Phish, 11/2/14 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
6.) Phish, 10/22/14 Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara
7.) Phish, 7/26/14 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
8.) Phish, 10/28/14 Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Fran
9.) Phish, 7/11/14 Randall's Island, NYC
10.) Phish, 8/31/14 Dicks Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
(or watch one of the *two* videos I shot of this song before Tomorrow's Hits was released)
Todd Terje - Swing Star pt. 2
The Austerity Program - "Song 32"
Death Vessel - "Island Vapors" apparently hasn't been uploaded to YouTube, so instead watch this live video of homeslice performing "Block My Eye" (from the previous Death Vessel album) live in studio.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to cross yet another all-time legacy act off the bucket list at this Kraftwerk 3D show, the first of their two NYC appearances. Although the word "unique" is thrown around far too often, I can honestly say I've never seen a show quite like this this one.
Upon entering Harlem's United Palace Theater (my first time at the historic, neo-classically designed theater / church since Arcade Fire in 2007), I was handed a pair of 3D glasses. Which made me think: when was the last time that I even wore 3D glasses? Captain EO at Epcot 28 years ago?? God, who the hell knows. Don't worry, I'm going to spare you an excruciating description of the 3D graphics, because that would be pretty fucking lame ("DUUUUUUUUDE!!! And then during 'Trans-Europe Express,' it looked like the train was flying right past my face! IT WAS AWESOME!!! YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW!!!!") but I should at the very least mention that the 3D aspect of the show was amazing. Perhaps my favorite effect was when one of the antennae on an orbiting space satellite appeared as though it was going to jab me in the face. IT WAS AWESOME!!! YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW!!!
My only regret was attending this show entirely sober. And the setting (seated theater with overly aggressive ushers) was not particularly conducive to, y'know, "moving around" in a manner fitting electronic (notionally) dance music. But the knob-twiddling of the four members of Kraftwerk (main man Ralf Hutter is the only original member left 40-something years into their career) combined with said aformentioned stunning graphics to create an unforgettable concert experience. All this, despite the "band" members standing nearly motionless at their podiums throughout the evening.
Kraftwerk's touring schedule hits Moogfest in Asheville in a couple weeks, before they head to Austria to perform 8 full albums from their catalog. After that they flit about a bit throughout July and August.
After hearing The Men's new Tomorrow's Hits LP, it's not unreasonable to be at least a little bit concerned that the album's decidedly AOR direction would have some sort of effect on the band's live show. On the other hand, The Men have been a live powerhouse up until this point (I've seen them onetwothreefourfivesix seven times since late 2012), so why mess with a good thing, nahmean? Regardless, fear not, The Men still rule.
With the exception of the mini acoustic set at the Sandy Benefit concert and the occasional horn accompaniments at other shows, The Men's live formula has always been large, heaping portions of RAWK, whether they're channeling Neil Young, Dinosaur Jr., Spacemen 3, the Buzzcocks, the Stooges, the Stones, or all of 'em at once. This show featured plenty of that good, good stuff, with the setlist drawing from each of their full-lengths except, oddly, 2012's excellent Open Your Heart. Highlights for me were the Fun House-tastic "Supermoon" (see above for video) and the kraut-punky "If You Leave..." (see below for video).
This was the record release show for the aforementioned Tomorrow's Hits record, which came out just a couple weeks ago. I'd suggest checking that shit out - I'm enjoying it nearly as much as last year's very good New Moon album. At the present time, the Men's European tour continues through the end of the month, before they make their way back to the US in April for another few weeks of club shows. Their next NYC area show is May 10th at The Wick - get tickets for that show here. Listn to the first single from Tomorrow's Hits (and my crappy iPhone video of a live version of the song from last year here.
Great tunes for a great cause, at a great location (walking distance from my apartment). What else can ya ask for?!
This Uncle Ebenezer show was a benefit for The Mockingbird Foundation, and the early portions of the show saw a decent amount of people cutting some serious rug. By the second set a lot of the room had left, but the intrepid few who remained seriously fuckin' knew how to party. I'd imagine they were able to toss a nice chunk'a change Mockingbird Foundation's way, although that amount would've been dramatically higher if they'd had a percentage of drink sales - literally everyone I talked to (at least half the people in the room) was boozin' hardcore, brah.
Although Uncle E has only been on the scene for a few months (here's a show review from the first time I saw them at their second show ever), they definitely manage to do the music of Phish justice, no easy task. I'm particularly impressed with how deftly they go into and out of segues and teases within the jams. On this night, they were joined by a trumpet player - see above for video of the horn-augmented "2001" and see below for "Hood," also with horns.
In addition to the (awesome) music, what I'll always remember this show for occurred when about 20 police officers wandered into Club Europa, standing around sheepishly in the room (which smelled vaguely of pot smoke at that point). Needless to say, people were creeped the fuck out, but apparently the coppers only showed up to perform a routine building inspection. For those not in the know, Europa is located literally right next door to a police station, and I'm always dumbfounded by how many people just openly toke up right outside - a dude I met at the show apparently got nabbed at setbreak. Damn.
Anyway, highlights for me were the "Disease" (with "Manteca" jam), the "46 Days" > "Sally" jam > Jam > "Tweeprise" jam > Jam > "Carini" sequence (uh, obviously!), the "Mike's" > "Wilson" > "Paug" (with "Auld Lang Syne" tease) > "Wilson" reprise craziness, and the aforementioned "2001." Oh, yeah, and incredibly my buddy Salvador somehow called the "Twist" opener from nearly 3000 miles away, haha.
Until I get to see the real Phish in July, I'll be more than happy hopping around like a jackass to the music of Uncle Ebenezer. See below for the setlist.
Setlist: Uncle Ebenezer, February 21, 2014 Club Europa, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Twist Disease* Wolfman's YEM** 46 Days> Sneakin' Sally jam> Jam> Tweeprise jam> Jam> Carini Harry Hood Julius
Lizards Timber Mike's Wilson Weekapaug@ Wilson reprise Rift Sand Punch 2001
* with Manteca tease ** with Star Wars tease in intro @ with Auld Lang Syne tease
"Wanna hear us fuck up another new one?" grinned Torche main man Steve Brooks midway through his band's set at Vitus. Although Torche attempted a couple new jams during this show, aborting them both in humorously self-deprecating fashion, the focus at this show was squarely on Torche's (awesome) back catalog.
The set began with gusto behind a trio of classics from Torche's excellent Meanderthal album, "Grenades," "Healer" and "Across the Shields," before one of the new ones. "Pirana" and "Sandstorm" came later, along with a few from their more recent Harmonicraft album, including the uber-hooky "Kicking," "Letting Go," and "Kiss Me Dudely." "Harmonslaught," one of their heaviest jams, was played towards the end of the set, and elicited probably the most spirited reaction from the crowd, who generally seemed to favor the slower, sludgier shit played during the evening.
Props to opener Sannhet, too, and their hypnotic blend of black metal / noise / shoegaze / etc. etc. etc. See below for video from their performance.
There are few bands with as distinctively singular a style as Russian Circles. Over the course of their five mostly-excellent albums, the band has created an aesthetic that's entirely their own, carving out a niche that's instantly identifiable amongst the legions of post-rock pretenders. There are many disparate elements that make up Russian Circles' sound; from brooding atmospherics to harsh riffing to looped guitar pyrotechnics to shimmering arpeggios, with each of those utilized liberally at this show.
At a Russian Circles show (this was the eighth time I've seen the band live - read a much lengthier review from when I saw them last April here), the setlist is largely irrelevant, as the band conjures magnificent peaks and valleys regardless of the specific songs they choose to play. The music's intensity is bolstered by the stark, white lighting the band is backlit by, conjuring a sublime, dreamlike (at times nightmarishly so) atmosphere within the room. The sold-out crowd was appropriately rapt.
The set was highlighted by personal favorite "Carpe" (the leadoff track from their first album, Enter), as well as multi-part epic "Mladek," and a couple from their most recent album Memorial (which I very much enjoyed), with the setlist featuring material from each of their albums. This was, I believe, the first time I'd seen them live where they hadn't performed perennial set closer "Death Rides a Horse."
Canadian noisy hardcore trio KEN Mode opened, supplying a surprisingly groove-oriented set of bleak sludge. I had only heard a few studio tracks by the band prior to this show, but I've since checked out (and enjoyed) out their most recent album, Entrenched. Listen here, and check out a video my buddy Michigan shot at the show below.