Saturday, June 27, 2015

The John Butler Trio Rock Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas

I spent an extra night in Las Vegas just to see the John Butler Trio.  Butler revealed to the Brooklyn Bowl crowd that he was a little apprehensive about playing Vegas on a Friday night.  And who wouldn't be, having to compete with any number of Cirque du Soleil performances, exclusive nightclub parties, and comedy shows, not to mention legal gambling and prostitution.  But from the cheers greeting the first notes of "Cold Wind," it was obvious that this wasn't an audience who'd just stumbled in off the Strip; they were JBT fans through and through.  That didn't stop John from poking a little fun at the city's reputation, however, as he followed the question "Are you having a good time?" with "Are you here with your actual partner?"  When a resounding "Yes!" bellowed from the floor, Butler admitted that he was surprised to find the Fountains of Bellagio inspirational, and that he may have even teared up.  He proceeded with a pair from April Uprising, the jaunty "Gonna Be a Long Time" and a supremely-rocking "I'd Do Anything (Soldiers Lament)," before revisiting Flesh & Blood with "Bullet Girl."
Butler made sure to recognize his longtime fans too, pulling out a banjo for "Better Than."  If that weren't enough, "Used to Get High" dropped right into "Pickapart," sending the crowd into a frenzy that only intensified as the song progressed into Primus-territory with a stanky staccato finale.  With the crowd so amped up, Butler had to make a decision on where to go.  The only option was a hard reset, having the audience applaud bassist/keyboardist Byron Luiters and Grant "G-Money" Gerathy as they exited the stage, with Butler taking a seat to play his ever-evolving instrumental "Ocean."  While the song began gently enough, it ebbed and flowed over the course of its 13 minutes, eventually culminating with Butler's furiously strummed climax.  The Vegas crowd roared louder than one of Siegfried & Roy's white tigers.  John thanked the room as his comrades returned, remarking, "It's extremely self-indulgent and I'm glad you're encouraging it."  Fortunately, it never felt egoistic because Butler and his bandmates are so skilled at their instruments.  They began half of their songs with extended intros not found on the records.  In the hands of lesser musicians, these would've seemed extraneous and dull, but with JBT, they were the highlights of the night.  The grin on G-Money's face anytime John would venture towards the kit in a moment of improvisation was all the evidence one needed to see that they were having a blast onstage, and that fun filtered directly into the crowd, who gleefully scatted along to set-closer "Zebra."

Introducing the encore, John announced, "This next song is... fun for us to play."  JBT plunged into "Livin' in the City," my favorite track off Flesh & Blood, with John punching himself in the jaw to the cadence of the "Sometimes I wonder just who I am" line in the second verse.  Checking his mic after the ditty, Butler made a sound like "chicka chicka." Without missing a beat, G-Money replied "oh oh" as if singing the "Oh Yeah" song from Ferris Bueller.  The band shared a quick chuckle, and then Butler made a motion to thank the crew because "without them we'd just be grunting, hairy men in darkness."  They wrapped up the evening with "Funky Tonight," where Butler repeated, "I guarantee you and me gonna get down funky tonight."  Few bands can make such a guarantee and deliver, but the John Butler Trio is one of those bands.  A band totally worth staying up all night at the airport for to wait for an early flight the next day.

THE JOHN BUTLER TRIO - 06.26.15 - BROOKLYN BOWL LAS VEGAS (2 hours, 5 minutes)

Cold Wind / Gonna Be a Long Time / I'd Do Anything (Soldiers Lament) / Bullet Girl / Better Than / Used to Get High > Pickapart / Ocean / Treat Yo Mama / Blame It on Me / Ragged Mile (Spirit Song) / Don't Wanna See Your Face / Devil Woman / Zebra

Livin' in the City / Funky Tonight

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Orgone Funk the EDM Out of Las Vegas

The Electric Daisy Carnival had just ended in Las Vegas on Sunday, but its remnants remained Monday morning.  Fluorescent-clad stragglers coated in a thin dust of MDMA stumbled along the Strip, dragging their luggage behind them, the bulbs on their jewelry still flashing, albeit weakly after three days of use.  That night around 10pm at Brooklyn Bowl, Los Angeles' Orgone revved up the "Meat Machine" and aggressively took back the Vegas music scene with a thick slab of uncut '70s funk.  For the next hour and 45 minutes, EDM had no place in this town.  The band transitioned into the Afrobeat-flavored "Cali Fever," guitarist Sergio Rios nodding his head with conviction.  In our interview just before the show, Rios proclaimed, "Once Adryon comes out, she immediately commands attention."  He wasn't lying.  Halfway through the song, the buxom Adryon de León appeared from backstage and strutted assuredly into position.  "Y'all ready to get funky out there?" she screamed, and steered the ship into Zhané's "Hey Mr. DJ."  While the set was heavy on material from their latest LP Beyond the Sun, they brought it all the way back to "Funky Nassau," which received an additional boost of percussion from the Nth Power's Nikki Glaspie.

Although Orgone is a definitely a team effort, bassist Dale Jennings absolutely murdered, popping off a killer solo in "All This Love That I'm Givin'," the first of two Gwen McCrae ditties in the set.  Not to be outdone, founding member Dan Hastie stacked a keys solo onto its tail.  Next up was an instrumental one-two punch that personally made my night: "Sabi," a tune I'd been dancing wildly to in my hotel room a few hours earlier, and "Sophisticated Honky," the track that first got me hooked on Orgone back in 2007.  Following a supercharged "I'm a Woman (I'm a Backbone)," they revisited the works of Mrs. McCrae with "Keep the Fire Burning," executed so potently that three fans in the front spontaneously choreographed a backup singer-inspired dance routine.  For the set's closing number, Orgone chose a cover of Betty Wright's "Let Me Be Your Lovemaker," where de León invited hornsmen Darren Cardoza and JJ Kirkpatrick downstage to show off their chops.  "My watch tells me we've got a little more time," Adryon said, motioning to her bare wrist, and called for one last spirited guitar solo from Serge. 

Percussionist Will Phillips came out alone for the encore, holding what looked to be a tambourine.  It turned out to be a pandeiro, a type of Brazilian frame drum.  And believe me, you've never heard such alluring sounds come out of a tambourine.  The rest of Orgone joined Phillips and gave Gwen's hubby George McCrae's "I Get Lifted" a final funky spin to end the evening, successfully purifying Vegas' ears.

ORGONE - 06.22.15 - BROOKLYN BOWL LAS VEGAS (1 hour, 43 minutes)

Meat Machine > Cali Fever > Hey Mr. DJ / Do What You Came to Do* / Losin You > Funky Nassau / Take You Higher / Down, Down, Down / All This Love That I'm Givin' / Sabi / Sophisticated Honky / People Beyond the Sun / Don't Stop / I'm a Woman (I'm a Backbone) / Keep the Fire Burning / Let Me Be Your Lovemaker

Pandeiro Solo > I Get Lifted

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lucius Prospect Park Setlist

LUCIUS - 06.13.15 - PROSPECT PARK BANDSHELL (1 hour, 21 minutes)

Keep Going On* > Don't Just Sit There / Wildewoman / Tempest / Nothing Ordinary / Until We Get There (feat. Pavo Pavo) > Instrumental* / How Loud Your Heart Gets / Monsters / Maybe I'll Drive Myself to Madness* / It Shines* / Go Home / Turn It Around / Genevieve

Two of Us on the Run / You Were on My Mind

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Next Round Spotify Companion Playlist

You may have heard me talk about this in the outro of the latest podcast, but in case you didn't, I created a companion piece to The Next Round on Spotify.

It features one track from every musician I've interviewed, in order, from Broken Anchor to Young Buffalo (to whatever band comes next, as I will keep updating it as the podcast continues).  Most of the songs are ones we talked about on the show, so it's a neat way to hear the tunes that you already know the backstories of.  It's designed to flow like a mix too, so you need not worry about having to press the skip button.  I was extremely proud putting it together, realizing just how many great artists I've had the opportunity to interview so far.

Stream it in the player below, or open it in Spotify.

The Next Round - Episode 36: Young Buffalo

My computer wasn't letting me upload this podcast, so I traveled all the way to my Manhattan workplace in order to post it.  You know it must be a good one if I was willing to do that on the weekend.

I hung out with Jim Barrett and Ben Yarbrough of Young Buffalo in the backyard of One Mile House just before their show at Bowery Ballroom.  Though the band hails from the landlocked college town of Oxford, MS, you'd never know it judging by their debut record, House.  Young Buffalo's Beach Boys-meets-Modest Mouse vibe is perfect for your summer playlist, whether you're vacationing on a Greek island paradise or simply having a party at home.  (Just don't start a bonfire in the yard.)  Have a listen to the interview to find out whose house is on the album cover and whose grandmother used to raise ostriches.

Stream below, download directly, or subscribe on iTunes.

Tour dates and Twitter!