Sunday, December 3, 2017

Deer Tick Shows Two Sides at Brooklyn Steel

"This show has two sets: one quiet, one loud. The drunker you get, the louder we get," Ian O'Neil informed the Saturday night audience at Brooklyn Steel. I first got word of Deer Tick's "Twice is Nice" tour in June by way of an email containing a pre-sale code. The band would be playing an acoustic set and an electric set, representative of their upcoming albums Vol. 1 & 2, and a stand-up comedian would be opening the show. I bought my tickets immediately, and anxiously waited for December like a kid who's been good all year. After a long walk from the subway and an even longer security process, I made my way into the showroom at Brooklyn Steel to find the comic already onstage. It turned out to be my pal, Nore Davis, who once headlined my comedy show, Free Rad Jokez. Wearing a red bandana, Nore made the packed house laugh at his desire to open a 24-hour farmers market to compete with fast-food chains. Not even ten minutes past nine, he welcomed Deer Tick to the stage.

While normally content to wear white t-shirts or nothing at all, the band dressed up for the occasion, looking quite dapper in various combinations of crimson and black. They greeted the crowd and began with "Sea of Clouds," the first track on Vol. 1. They followed promptly with the tango intro to "Card House," the record's second song and coincidentally my personal favorite of the two-disc collection. "Do an oldie," McCauley declared, leading the band on "Art Isn't Real (City of Sin)" and alleviating worries that a) the albums would be performed in sequence, and b) they'd only be playing songs from Vol. 1 & 2. Highlights included "Me & My Man," which made way more sense to me after Dennis Ryan revealed it to be about his dog, and "The Dream's in the Ditch," my most-played Tick tune. "Mange" capped off the unplugged portion with an energetic finish, McCauley and O'Neil embellishing their guitar strums into a choreographed routine à
 la ZZ Top.

During the break, stagehands traded the red backdrop for a yellow one, keeping with the ketchup and mustard theme of the albums' artwork. Nore emerged once again to introduce the band, this time donning a yellow bandana. I suddenly understood why he'd worn a red one earlier, and sure enough, Deer Tick also returned with an ochre wardrobe change. Taking a cue from the first set's structure, the boys led with the first two songs from Vol. 2. They broke the order with "Clownin Around," Dennis Ryan's ode to John Wayne... Gacy. Ian O'Neil informed the crowd that the show had sold out during set break, and the band appeared to relish the news, kicking off "The Bump" with an extended jam. While I'd enjoyed the first set, it was apparent that they were having more fun in the second frame, even dipping into Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" mid-"These Old Shoes." Ryan sang "Wants/Needs" from behind his Plexiglas drum fortress before careening into Chris Montez's "Let's Dance," McCauley strapping on a harmonica for the ride. Covers of the Pogues' "White City" and Tommy Keene's "Places That Are Gone" injected some '80s guitar tones into the mix. Following the latter, the band departed stage left, with the exception of John, who moved to the keyboard. Although he admitted he was a bit under the weather, he persevered on a spirited take of "Christ Jesus," his bandmates rejoining him after the second refrain. Deer Tick wrapped up the set with a trio from Vol. 2, "It's a Whale," "Look How Clean I Am," and "Mr. Nothing Gets Worse," and left the stage.

Would they come back and play more songs? Would they be acoustic or electric? A minute later, John returned, took a seat at the keyboard, and said, "Alright, we'll do a few more." While the lyrics to "Goodbye, Dear Friend" made it a good encore choice, it's a bit of a downer to end on, so the band fired off a joyful "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, & Understanding?" with John windmilling through the closing power chords. They kept the party going with a pair of their most beloved tunes, "Baltimore Blues No. 1" and "Ashamed," the crowd offering ample vocal assistance. McCauley wanted to ensure that his appreciation for the fans didn't go unnoticed, remarking, "Some people think this is bullshit, but it isn't," as he segued into Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful." After the ketchup and mustard of the first two sets, the encore was gravy.


SET ONE, ACOUSTIC (56 minutes) -
Sea of Clouds / Card House / Art Isn't Real (City of Sin) / Houston, TX / Smith Hill / Hope is Big / Me & My Man / Cocktail / The Dream's in the Ditch / Only Love / Mange

SET TWO, ELECTRIC (1 hour, 11 minutes) -
Don't Hurt / Jumpstarting / Clownin Around / The Bump > Easy / Tiny Fortunes / White City / These Old Shoes > Superstition (tease) > These Old Shoes / Twenty Miles / Wants/Needs > Let's Dance / Make Believe / Miss K. / Dirty Dishes / Places That Are Gone / Christ Jesus / It's a Whale / Look How Clean I Am / Mr. Nothing Gets Worse

ENCORE (19 minutes) -
Goodbye, Dear Friend / (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, & Understanding? / Baltimore Blues No. 1 / Ashamed > You Are So Beautiful

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Next Round - Episode 54: Elizabeth & the Catapult

Usually I buy the drinks on The Next Round, but when the coffee shop we were supposed to go to was unexpectedly closed, Elizabeth Ziman improvised (She is a musician.) and invited me into her apartment for tea. We had a great talk, starting with her childhood in the Village and ending with the release of her fantastic fourth record, Keepsake, an album so good, you'd never guess it was the result of mashing up old journal entries with NyQuil-influenced fever dreams.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes (and rate it 5 stars).

Elizabeth is on tour now. Check here for dates.
Read my review of her release show.
Buy Keepsake on vinyl/CD/digital.

Listen to "Ambrosia" and a song from every guest on The Next Round Companion Playlist.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Next Round - Episode 53: Matthew Logan Vasquez

It's that time again, when rock critics start posting their best-of-the-year picks. While I still like to give December its fair shot, my album of the year (so far, and since April) is Matthew Logan Vasquez's second LP, Does What He Wants. I got the opportunity to interview MLV back in April for the podcast. It was a great talk, but his tour ended before I was able to schedule the episode. Now that he's about to go on the road again, it's finally time to hear what Delta Spirit's frontman has to say about fatherhood, stage presence, and the sound of discovery.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes like the good person you are.

Click here for MLV tour dates.
Order Does What He Wants on vinyl.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Alex Lahey Music Hall of Williamsburg Setlist


Fun Dumpster / Vominos / Run Home / Bad Spanish / Pigeon Language / Serenity / Don't Be a Stranger

DUDE YORK - 11.16.17 - MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG (34 minutes)

Black Jack > Lonely Girls* / Something in the Way > Tonight / The Way I Feel > Love Is / Twin Moons / Paralyzed

ALEX LAHEY - 11.16.17 - MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG (1 hour, 11 minutes)

Every Day's the Weekend / Wes Anderson / Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder / L-L-L-Leave Me Alone / Awkward Exchange / I Want U / Ivy League / Let's Call It a Day / I Love You Like a Brother / Lotto in Reverse / Backpack / Torn / I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself

There's No Money / Let's Go Out / You Don't Think You Like People Like Me

Saturday, November 11, 2017

White Reaper Le Poisson Rouge Setlist

Review to come.

WHITE REAPER - 11.10.17 - LE POISSON ROUGE (1 hour, 1 minute)

Wolf Trap Hotel > Last 4th of July > Pills / Little Silver Cross / I Don't Think She Cares > Crystal Pistol > Sheila / Eagle Beach / Friday the 13th / The World's Best American Band / The Stack / Judy French / Make Me Wanna Die > B.T.K. / Tequila Crowdsurfing Jam*

Half Bad

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Elizabeth & the Catapult Shares Her Keepsakes at Le Poisson Rouge

Last night at Le Poisson Rouge, Elizabeth & the Catapult (Elizabeth Ziman) performed an intimate album release show for her fourth LP, Keepsake. The collection of songs is aptly named. It's a sophisticated pop record that travels effortlessly through styles while still packing a melodic punch. I've already listened to it multiple times, and it hasn't even come out yet.

The subterranean space was arranged in a way I hadn't seen there before, with the stage in the center, surrounded by a flotilla of tables. My view of the stage was bisected by a column, but I was able to see Elizabeth take a seat at the piano in the right half. She began with LCD Soundsystem's sombre "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" before brightening things up by segueing into her own "Mea Culpa." With an intrusive squeal, the noisy air conditioner above the stage kicked on right after the song's final lyric, "More bad mistakes for us to make before we fuck it all up," which was actually kind of endearing in that moment. Elizabeth thanked the audience and promised, "I'm just gonna give you everything I've got tonight until until I burst into a million pieces, and then I just have to lie down." A five-piece band materialized onstage to back her on the chorus of "Magic Chaser." After a pair of tunes from her previous LP, Ziman got on her feet and moved to keyboard to her right for a breakneck "Less Than You Think." Despite a technical issue with the keyboard that required Elizabeth to switch to the piano during "Method Acting," the song was one of the evening's best performances, culminating in a beautiful vocal harmony that included Secret Someones' Hannah Winkler. Ziman conceded the keyboard to Winkler and took a handheld mic to the center of the stage. The band proceeded with Keepsake's first single/track, "We Can Pretend," with its lush, Polynesian sounds evoking imagery of Technicolor musicals. They followed it with the album's peppy second single/track "Underwater" and then the band scattered, leaving Elizabeth alone. She performed a solo vocal rendition of Greg Laswell's "Embrace Me" and then shared acoustic guitar duties with Jonno Linden on "Let's Make a Mess of Our Love," a number new enough to not even be on the record.

"So the experiment continues," Ziman said, returning to the keyboard. "I had a children's choir sing on this song on my album, but I couldn't get them in here 'cause they're children." "We'll sing! We'll sing!" offered an eager crowdmember. "Will you be my children?" Elizabeth asked with a laugh. Looping her breath as percussion, she pressed on with "Ambrosia." While it may have been a lot to ask the audience to sing along on a song that they'd never heard before, its hopeful lyrics over a plucky, staccato refrain just beg for audience participation, and I have no doubt that over time this will become an Elizabeth & the Catapult concert staple.  At its denouement, Ziman held up a paper to read a list of thank yous, as well as a political speech in which she encouraged the crowd to "keep spreading love however you know how."

Elizabeth welcomed a mustachioed Jeff Taylor to the stage for his clapper "Kadoka," which was followed by a quick round of "Happy Birthday to You" for Wiman's mom and a "Better Days" bouncier than its studio version. "I just threw the setlist out the window," Ziman announced as she invited Emily Mure and Jeff Taylor to help close out the set with "Where Were You the Night," her reaction to last year's surprising election results. The elegy crescendoed into a chaotic jam, the vocalists' haunting wails intertwining to suggest a ghostly choir of past presidents spinning in their graves.

ELIZABETH & THE CATAPULT - 10.18.17 - LE POISSON ROUGE (1 hour, 26 minutes)

New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down > Mea Culpa > New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down > Mea Culpa / Magic Chaser / Salt of the Earth / Happy Pop / Less Than You Think / Method Acting / We Can Pretend / Underwater / Embrace Me / Let's Make a Mess of Our Love / Ambrosia / Thank You for Nothing / Kadoka (feat. Jeff Taylor) / Happy Birthday to You / Better Days / Where Were You the Night (feat. Emily Mure & Jeff Taylor)

Go Away My Lover (feat. Jeff Taylor)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Afropunk 2017 Sunday Setlists

Review to come.

SON LITTLE - 08.27.17 - COMMODORE BARRY PARK, AFROPUNK FESTIVAL (25 minutes, 30 seconds)

Alice / Blue Magic (Waikiki) > Go Blue Blood Red / Your Love Will Blow Me Away / The River / Charging Bull


When My Train Pulls In / Next Door Neighbor Blues / Ain't Messin' 'Round / Our Love / Cold Blooded / Bright Lights / Things Are Changin' / You Saved Me


Intro > 100 Yard Dash > Heart Attack > Be Here > Will It Go Round in Circles / Movin' Down the Line > Good Man > Get Involved > I Chase You* > Dance Tonight > Don't Mess with My Man / Let's Get Down > Still Ray > Blind Man / Oph > Charlie Ray / You're the One That I Like > Never Give You Up > Just One Kiss / (Lay Your Head on My) Pillow > Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop) > Anniversary / Kissin' You > It Never Rains (in Southern California) / Soul Sista (feat. Bilal) / Ask of You / Lady > Just Me & You > Cranes in the Sky > Skyy, Can You Feel Me > Outro

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nicky Francis Pete's Candy Store Setlist

Review to come.

NICKY FRANCIS - 05.18.17 - PETE'S CANDY STORE (35 minutes, 30 seconds)

Meant to Last / Don't Push Me / Crooked Path / Did Her for the Love / Tattoo / Nobody Knows / Talking / The Way That We Are