Midlake | Cold War Kids | Sound Team @ Southpaw

The three next “it” bands play together in one powerful night of music and for only 10 bux! This was a very anticipated summer show for me considering Midlake impressed the hell out of me the last time they played New York. They come back after a few months of touring with a new album just released. Critics say they sound like their hometown sound of Denton, Texas but I feel they are much more, fusing many complex layers of sound into a surreal composition. The more I listen to them the richer the songs become and I feel they have become a progression of Neutral Milk Hotel. This time around, they played an entirely different set composed mainly of new songs and revisiting “Balloon Maker” for a fan the night before. They ended their short set with “Head Home” which was much more dynamic live and made me revisit it over and over again on their new album. Which by the way is my pick for the best album of the year thusfar. Go buy it.

Very excited to see Cold War Kids again and this time at a much smaller venue. They left me in awe last time and tonight was no different. The band seems so chaotic onstage and they release so much tension and energy to the crowd. They play this soulful rock that is extremely powerful and at the same time lyrically intimate. It’s as if Bob Dylan was playing in the Velvet Underground. A great set. Rest assured that their full length will be released on a big label.

The buzz wasn’t over yet as Sound Team came next. They started with a wall of sound that took shape as the night went on. After a few songs I was hooked into their feedbacky melodies with interesting sounds popping in and out. Although nothing that special from this band, they nevertheless played a number of tight songs that as a whole formulate the vision of the band. What that is, I think the they are still trying to figure out. And fuck Pitchfork for giving their new album a very low rating as its not that bad and their live performance makes up for a lackluster studio album.

Pictures from the show.


Midlake – “Head Home” mp3

I Tango @ Skirball Center

I Tango from Buenos Aires made it’s NY debut performing their contemporary Argentine Tango show featuring a live orchestra. 12 acclaimed Argentine tango dancers performed with the legendary 7-piece Argentine tango orchestra Color Tango de Roberto Alvarez. The dances leaned more towards the dramatic side of tango and the way the dancers interpreted the music through movement was astonishing. The dancers were delicate and passionate at the same time and their wardrobes were beautiful. The show went above my expectations and I highly recommend it the next time they come around.

Brazilian Girls @ Canal Room

What a treat to get invited for a private performance by the Brazilian Girls. It would be a chance to hear some new material off their new album “Talk To La Bomb” coming out on Sept. 12. Although it took a bit to get used to the sound system, the band played quite good. A few of the new songs have a lot of potential while others still needed some polish but they played a few of their “hits” to make it a great night. Of course Sabina looked dashing and continues to be a great presence. Thanks Laine!
Pictures from the show


Konono No. 1 | Maldita Vecindad @ Central Park Summerstage

Founded over 25 years ago, Konono No. 1 plays Congolese Bazombo trance music using mainly likembés, or thumb pianos. I was amazed at the sound these instruments produce onstage. The band’s sound is complimented by other traditional percussion instruments, but their uniqueness comes from their home-made sound system. Their microphones were built from salvaged car parts, and their percussion section contains various pots, pans, and car parts. By the middle of their set I was entranced into their rhythms amplified by their megaphones and repaired amps. The scorching sun didn’t even slow the crowd down as they danced throughout the entire performance.

I didn’t know Mexico’s Maldita Vecindad, but I left a big fan of their alternative rock music. I did some research and found that they appeared in “Gift” a very crazy film featuring Perry Farrell. The band combines so many genres of music successfully including rock, ska, salsa, and metal. They were very energetic on stage and the crowd fed off the positive vibes from the lead singer. At one point the band invited several fans up on the stage to dance with the band and share the power of live music.
Pictures from the show.


Frida Hyvönen | Jens Lekman @ Mercury Lounge

At first I was pissed that the late show at Mercury Lounge got pushed back even further, but I was very excited to find out that Frida Hyvonen was going to open up. She is also from Sweden and played these very emotional and intense songs. At times soulful, and then sometimes downright hilarious. She would eat 1 grape before each song that I thought was quite sexy.

I passed up seeing Jens Lekman play at Bowery and opted to see him play solo in a more intimate space. He is one of those performers that can captivate an entire crowd with only his voice and guitar. Jens is an incredible performer, has confident stage presence, and his live performance is even better than his recordings. His set included a surprisingly large amount of crowd participation for a NY crowd including whistling, verbal drum beats, clapping, and sing-alongs. He asked one fan to hold the lyrics to a song that he would sing in Japanese as we passed photos from the 70’s that he had found under a rock. Another interesting song was when he invited Frida to do a Finnish song with him. She translated each of the phrases for us and sounded like an instructional language guide converted into a humorous song. The ambience in the room was so engaging and filled with such warm vibes. In the middle of his song “Julie” a surprise 2 person horn section appeared from the back, one standing on the bench with a sax and the other with what I think was a trombone! He closed the set with a song played on a thumb piano that was quite wonderful. I can’t believe how incredible his voice is and left the show so happy and wanting more. This was one of the most unique live experiences I’ve had in NY and one of the best shows I’ve seen at the Mercury Lounge.

Pictures from the show.


Blood Feathers | Mazarin @ Knitting Factory

Two great Philly bands (the 6th borough) descend to New York to play a show at the Knitting Factory. The Blood Feathers opened up and played a rocking country set with even a square dance number thrown in. After a few songs I realized I’ve seen this band before and they played much better this time around. Theirs songs range from lullabys to clap along country tunes.

So after 10 months of touring Mazarin plays 1 last show before they head into the studio. This show was being recorded for XM so be sure you to look for it. Last time I saw Mazarin at this venue (2 years ago) they played the shortest and worst set I’ve seen in quite awhile so I was very apprehensive tonight. However, with constant touring and a superb new album I was hoping for some improvment. From the first (new) song I new it was going to awesome. They played a bunch of unreleased songs and killer versions off their latest album, “We’re Already There” which was my pick for the best album of 2005. The crowd was OUTRAGEOUS. Mazarin concerts usually consists of the crowd staring at their shoes on acid or other drugs, but tonight people were jumping, dancing, singing, and screaming. I couldn’t believe it, but tonight the band deserved it. They even invited some members of Blood Feathers on stage to play a few tunes together including one of their own. People even started to square dance. They played a super long feedback version of “I’m With You And Constellations” which was euphoric. Not only did they play the longest set ever, they even came out for an encore which I have NEVER witnessed this band do. Although Quentin refused to play my request “Wheats”, he ended with “Louise” and gave me the most fun I’ve ever had on a Monday night.