Benzos / Nine Black Alps @ Bowery Ballroom

How many genres of music can the New York band Benzos combine into 1 show? These guys take guitar rock and create ambient soundscapes layered with dance music and experimental electronic beats. They created these expansive soundscapes that went from dreamy swells into intense explosions. Although their formula of starting slow and getting fast got tiring, I really enjoyed them as an opening act.

Nine Black Alps from the UK has started to build some momentum in the states. Their album “Everything Is” boasts a big rock sound and they amplify it more live. They were quite intense on stage and pulled off every song flawlessly. They have a sound that reminds me of Nirvana but with a modern bitter bleakness. Impressive guitarmanship (including the bassist breaking his guitar in front of me after he broke a string). The show was full of fans and is definitely a band to watch out for.

Pictures from the show.


The Elected / Magic Numbers @ Webster Hall

How this show didn’t sell out boggles my mind. All the better as it was a smaller yet energetic crowd to see two great bands. Blake Sennett’s The Elected, who also plays in his other band, Rilo Kiley opened up playing his bright alt-country tunes. They are supporting their new album on Sub Pop, which is pretty good. Their finale improv jam was a bit gratuitous and shoulda ended way earlier. With or without the cowboy hat.

I had so much fun seeing the The Magic Numbers, and they seemed to have just as much fun playing live. Everyone should see this band! I was in the front row and smiling the whole time. There is so much chemistry in this band. Although their songs lean toward hippie pop songs there is a level of good ol’ rock in them. There is also a really nice ebb and flow in their songs and Michele is such a kick ass bass player. They played for over an hour and debut 2 new songs that were soooooo good. And they completely rocked out for their final jam. The girls next to me were going crazy the whole time prompting Romeo Stodart to comment on their antics. The Magic Numbers are a wonderful band and a guaranteed good time.

Pictures from the show.

The Magic Numbers
The Elected

Death Vessel / Jose Gonzaléz / The Books @ Bowery Ballroom

3 great bands. 1 great night. Death Vessel is Joel Thibodeau and he was backed up by a band tonight to expand his melodic songs of interesting structures with off tempos. They matched his haunting voice that comes out as an unexpected high croon like a girl. Pleasantly surprising performance.

What a treat to see Jose Gonzaléz again. The stage was set with a lonseome chair (in slightly better condition that the age-worn chair at Joe’s) and 2 mics. One for his guitar and one to amplify his foot tapping. The crowd fell silent as soon as he plucked his first note. Luckily I was in the front row again. Rarely is the Bowery Ballroom this silent. The sound was more intense than at Joe’s, but just as delicate. It’s amazing to see a solo performer with a guitar mesmerize an entire audience. He played pretty much the same set as on Wednesday but with the addition of 2 new songs including an instumental. He even got a encore for an opening act.

I’ve slowly started to get really into The Books. Previous to the show I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art checking out the Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines and it was an approrpriate precursor for the Books. Their blend of unique samples taken from audio recordings and videos into surreal arrangements is masterfuly done. On their new record they bring out the use of vocal and stringed instruments and successfuly pulled it off on stage. They had interesting videos collected from their touring displayed behind them which added to the fragmented nature of the music. Their sense of composition and word-plays are delightful and although not a ground-breaking live performance, a truly enjoyable and fun night. A perfect evening of art, video, and music.

My camera is still dead but Kieran next to me got some shots. Check out her photos and good review.

Death Vessel. MP3: deep in the horchata
Jose Gonzalez.
The Books. A great website to get lost in

Jose Gonzaléz @ Joe’s Pub

I’ve had this date circled in my calendar several months now. After only catching a glimpse of him at the Living Room last year, I would finally get to see Jose live. In a matter of months this 27 year old Swedish-Argentine folk singer has emerged into the forefront. I was very anxious to see him at a perfect venue for him, so I arrived first on line to get a table in the front row. Jose captivated the crowd with his hushed vocals over gentle melodies. His intricate guitar picking skills are incredible and he quickly set the mood for the night after the first song. Armed with only a Spanish guitar he creates beautiful, simple songs that are intimate and mysterious. A wonderful and unforgettable night.

Pictures and Videos from the show. (thanks for the camera Jen!)
Crank up the volume on the videos.

Jose Gonzaléz
His space on my space.

Youth Group / Matt Pond PA @ Northsix

I saw Youth Group back at CMJ and they were good back then, even better now. I was eager to see them again after some extensive touring in the states. This time around they were solid, playing a great set of songs. They seemes very relaxed on stage, probably because it was their last stop on their tour.

It was a bummer not being able to get into the sold out Matt Pond PA show at the Merc last year. Considering that would have been the first time I’d get to hear their new album live, which is simply a great. Tonight’s show was musically on target despite some technical problems. They played through all their “hits” and the new ones were perfect live. Tonight’s show was one of the best sounding ones I’ve been to. It was also the most times I’ve heard the band talk on stage, which I would advise they stop doing. Less talking, more playing. Despite having their van stolen, they finally arrived home to play a great show.

So this is the part where I may put a link to any pictures. But my camera broke at the show. 🙁 sad indeed.
Cheers old friend, we’ve had some good times.

Youth Group
Matt Pond PA

The Big Sleep / Film School / Cloud Room @ Mercury Lounge

I’m sure you are tired of hearing me blabbing about The Big Sleep and Film School, so this concert’s review was provided by my special guest Elizabeth Ferris:

I must preface this review with two qualifications: 1) I haven’t been to a show since last April, and 2) I am not Pablo. But you probably figured that from number 1. So when Pablo said he had an extra ticket to The Big Sleep, a group he’s been raving about, with Film School and The Cloud Room, I figured the show would be just what I needed to end my absurd live-music hiatus.

I got to The Mercury Lounge just in time to catch the end of Carina Round, a UK trio with an impressive leading lady. In my humble opinion, she did a superb job on her slow-song-as-last-song delivery, and looked great doing it – very crucial keys to success.

And then came The Big Sleep. All I really knew about them is that they’d be loud, but more than loud, they literally envelope you in the best way. It helped that we were standing front-row center, because there was nothing to distract from the intensely personal experience of watching this unpretentious threesome dish out a walloping smack of sound. You are missing out if you don’t see them – soon!

Two vodka tonics later, Film School was up. You gotta give these guys credit for playing their first show since all their equipment was recently stolen. And while I was in no means disappointed by their set, but I did spend most of the time trying to figure out why they need five guys on stage.

Another vodka tonic later, I was asking the same question again of The Cloud Room. They were very entertaining as well. I didn’t know any of their songs, of course, but you could gauge the crowd pleasers based on the many bobbing heads – especially to their “Hey, now, now!” song.

Best money spent on a show all year. The first, true, but not the last!

Pictures from the show

Carina Round
The Big Sleep
Film School
The Cloud Room

please make a donation at the Film School website to help them from their Van theft in Philly. This sort of thing has been happening a lot lately ;(