Posts filed under ‘Concert Review’

Ra Ra Riot at Prospect Park Bandshell

Ra Ra Riot at Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park

JudyJams and I were recently treated to VIP entrance to Celebrate Brooklyn (thanks Loukin Company!) where we got to be front and center for Ra Ra Riot on August 5. It started off in an awesome way when the stage darkened and the band came on to the deafening sounds of Slayer’s “Raining Blood.” They then launched into a great set full of songs from albums  The Rhumb Line and The Orchard.
You could tell the band was having so much fun, with lead singer Wes Miles commenting numerous times how excited they were to be playing here, at their biggest headlining show, especially because he lived down the street. He also mentioned this was probably the longest set they’d ever played, and his enthusiasm continued right to the end when he jumped off stage and ran through the audience, slapping hands with anyone who offered theirs. His enthusiasm was definitely contagious, as the rest of the band and the crowd were just as exuberant as he was. Their encore included a pretty fabulous version of Steve Winwood’s “Valerie,” the only cover song of the night. They are a great live band, and here’s hoping their next album is as great as The Rhumb Line.

August 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm Leave a comment

Why I Heart the Thermals

While I have to give credit to an ex-boyfriend for introducing me to the Thermals’ music, luckily I haven’t held it against the band. Anyway, it would be my loss. The Thermals, who hail from Portland, OR, came on the scene in 2002 and released their debut album, More Parts Per Million in 2003. Things really got heated up in 2006 with their album The Body, The Blood, The Machine, an instant classic. Their latest album, Personal Life, came out last year on Kill Rock Stars. Band leader Hutch Harris writes the music, sings and plays guitar, while longtime collaborator Kathy Foster plays bass and current drummer Westin Glass keeps the beat. But all that is neither here nor there.

The point is, the Thermals make indie punk pop rock music that while maintaining a solid, catchy beat that makes sure your feet keep moving, also assaults your brain with challenging ideas and thoughtful notions. Their music, to put it plainly, is fun and intelligent. As soon as I hear the opening hooks to songs like “A Pillar of Salt” or “Now We Can See” my heart widens and I can’t help but grin. There’s a time and place for depressing, introspective shoegazer music, but honey, this ain’t that. It makes me want to jump up and down as I contemplate the fucked-upedness that is religion, politics, and real life. And maybe scream a little.

Check out this video for “A Pillar of Salt”:

Their live show is a thing of high energy beauty and at this point I can’t even remember all the times that I’ve seen them. But I recently added one more to the list, when they played a sold out show at the Bell House on July 3.

The Thermals at the Bell House, July 3, 2011

More images from that show after the jump.


July 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm Leave a comment

SXSW Highlights: A Pictorial of Music and Breakfast

It's SXSW all day every day at Stubb's in Austin. At least until the Gospel Brunch.

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs means business at the Other Music Lawn Party at French Legation on Friday, March 18

A horn section is always a good idea. These two played with tUnE-yArDs at French Legation as part of Other Music's Lawn Party.

tUnE-yArDs were the perfect band to play at Other Music's Lawn Party at French Legation. Lots of sun and grass and a big blue sky were the perfect backdrop for songs both old and new.

James Blake drew a huge crowd at the French Legation for Other Music's Lawn Party.

The Lawn Party's tent was filled with cloth flags--and lots of people. James Blake and his band impressed sxsw-goers with their stark brand of synth music.


Kurt Vile was obscured by his long hair most of the time, but at Club Deville he played a good mix of songs from his new album, Smoke Ring for My Halo.


Despite some technical issues with sound, and our vision being blocked by the dude in the green hat, Brooklyn's own Glasser played a lively set of songs from her debut Ring at Club Deville.


Since her sound equipment died at the end of her set, Glasser finished up with a beautiful a capella song.

And how could we not mention the breakfast tacos? More than one trip was made to Taco Deli, where many breakfast tacos were consumed. This one is the El Popeye, with spinach, egg, and queso fresco.

Taco Deli lets you choose your taco fillings if you desire. This is the potato, bean, and cheese selection.


This is the Jess Special; a Migas taco with fresh avocado and cheese!

There are lots more photos after the jump!


April 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm 2 comments

Das Racist at Highline Ballroom 2/3

After our epic fail at CMJ of missing all four of the Das Racist shows, we were determined to catch them live one way or another. The opportunity came last week when they played for a very affordable $10 at Highline Ballroom.

Photo of Das Racist (too good to resist posting) via

We arrived just in time to catch Das Racist and not wait around, but not in time to get a great spot. Life’s little trade-offs. We could hear just fine, though. The three members, Heems, Kool A.D., and Dap, were joined on stage by a fourth goofy, unnamed dude, and various other friends. DJ Jasmine, who opened, joined them for a few songs as well. They had a ton of energy, and bounced around haphazardly for every song. The bouncing, however, made it difficult to hear them in the beginning. It sounded more like disorganized, chaotic shouting; the essence of a DIY hip hop show, without the DIY.

Some evidence of the bouncing around. It was hard to capture them in still photography!

The Das Racist boys seemed like they were having fun for the most part, barring the occasionally telling the audience to go home. No one on stage could stand still, and Aeon Flux was playing on a screen in the background for added effect. They played a bunch of songs from their first mixtape Shut Up, Dude including “Who’s that Brown,” “You Oughta Know,” “Hugo Chavez,” and of course, “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” I’m sure that they are tired of that one; they mixed it up a bit with some new lyrics. My favorite improv was “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the combination Best of Times and Worst of Times.”

In between songs, Das Racist mocked themselves and the crowd (but mostly the crowd and how white we were and how we were all NYU students). The momentum was slowing, and then they played a few from the newer mixtape Sit Down, Man like “Hahahaha JK,” and brought out El-P (much to my extreme excitement) for “Sit Down, Man,” and then Despot for “Rooftop.” The previous chaos calmed and everything came together.

Despot on stage with Das Racist

They closed with their hypnotic “Rainbow in the Dark.” Watch the video to get a sense of what their crazy live show was like, but beware, there is some nudity. I was surprised at how little nudity there was on stage, actually. This video really captures the “essence” of their live show, and if you can’t tell, they really don’t care what you think about them:


February 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm 1 comment

Updated: Jens Lekman Played to 400 People in Brooklyn

Update: Jens Lekman is DJing in Greenpoint on Wednesday, December 15 starting at 9:30 with Taken By Trees’ Victoria Bergsman. They’ll be at Veronica Peoples Club at 105 Franklin Street Brooklyn, NY 11222

Happily, I cannot get Jens Lekman‘s “A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill” out of my head; it is so much more welcome than all that Christmas music that’s been taking up space lately. I had the honor of seeing Mr. Lekman along with 399 others at the unique Green Building on Union St. in Brooklyn on Thursday night. He also played there on Friday.

Jens Lekman at Green Building

The venue is usually used for weddings and parties; I think this was the first concert they’ve had there. It’s a nice open space with no view obstructions and lovely painted brick walls and chandeliers. It has a nice farmhouse vibe. The stage was decorated with some tree branches and a couple lanterns in the back. Mr. Lekman was in the US briefly and stopped in LA and Brooklyn for 3 shows total. He mentioned that his last time in Brooklyn was not such a good one, as he ended up in Coney Island in the cold, but that he looked at these shows as closure and that he feels “like I’m ready to fall in love with New York again.” New Yorkers were certainly ready to fall in love with him, if they weren’t already. The audience immediately began singing along and Lekman encouraged it wholeheartedly.

Jens Lekman at Green Building

The evening started off quietly, with stripped down acoustic versions of songs like “Sipping on the Sweet Nectar,” “Kanske är jag kär i dig,” and a new one that may have been called something like “Argument with Myself on Elizabeth Street,” which in his typical way he introduced with a background story. He also gave a detailed story about the song “Waiting for Kirsten,” which is essentially about stalking Kirstin Dunst in his hometown of Gothenberg, Sweden. Lekman was joined by drummer Charlie Hall so the music wasn’t completely stripped down, but things didn’t really pick up until he employed some backing tracks for “Opposite of Hallelujah” near the end of the set. He ended with a remixed version of “Sipping on the Sweet Nectar” and returned for two encores. All in all, a beautiful and special night.

Jens Lekman at Green Building

Full setlist below the jump.


December 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm 1 comment

Russian Futurists Are Back

Russian Futurists at Littlefield

Ontario’s Russian Futurists have been making catchy pop music since 2002,  but their last new release was back in 2005 (Our Thickness). Whatever the cause for their hibernation, it is now over. The band released their new album, The Weight’s on the Wheels, in November, and their tour recently brought them to NYC, playing shows at Mercury Lounge on November 16 and Littlefield in Brooklyn on November 17.

Cookies at Littlefield

Cookies at Littlefield

Cookies at Littlefield

Cookies (ex-Mobius Band) opened the small and sparsely crowded show with some upbeat tunes. Featuring male and female vocalists, their sound was twee and joyful, toe-tapping and head bopping.

Matthew Adam Hart of Russian Futurists, at Littlefield

Russian Futurists at Littlefield

Russian Futurists at Littlefield

Russian Futurists at Littlefield

Matthew Adam Hart, the brains behind Russian Futurists, seemed genuinely thrilled to be playing, even though the room was half empty. I guess if you take a 5 year hiatus you lose a few fans? He had a female vocalist/bass player with him, as well as a guy on keyboard and a drummer for a nice, full sound. They played a good selection of songs from the new album, like “Hoeing Weeds Sowing Seeds,” (you can download that song here) “Register My Firearms? No Way!”, and “100 Shopping Days ‘Til Christmas,” all of which were fun and upbeat, and easily recognizable as Russian Futurists songs. They also played a good selection of older stuff, including “Let’s Get Ready to Crumble” and “It’s Not Really Cold When It Snows.” Here’s hoping they don’t wait another five years to release new material and go on tour!

December 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment

The TnJ CMJ Round Up

The time has arrived for us to review and contemplate the busiest week of the Fall in Toast and Jams-land: CMJ. The week that proves that we are not teenagers any more, but yet we still love music just as much. Because we saw SO MANY bands, we have decided to give some special TnJ awards. We have posted official show reviews here and here, if you’d like to see some extended thoughts about what we saw.

Best Individual Shows

Best Stage Show/Costumes: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr at Public Assembly

Best Sister Duo/Best Female Vocals: First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit at the Delancey

Best Sister Trio: Smoosh

Best Vocal (pop)/Best Cover Song: Harper Blynn (Beyonce’s “Halo,” complete with a Dirty Projector’s “Cannibal Resource” interlude–seriously, check out this video)

Harper Blynn at Mercury Lounge

Best Dance Moves: The Drums vocalist Jonathan Pierce tied with Francis of Francis and the Lights


Best Use of Choral Influences: Active Child and their harp

Active Child at Brooklyn Bowl

Best Dance Show: Matthew Dear

Best Dirty Stage Banter: Marnie Stern

Marnie Stern at Santos Party House

Funniest Stage Banter/Most Comfortable Stage Presence: John Vanderslice

John Vanderslice at Mercury Lounge

Best Dreamy Indie-Pop Set: Wild Nothing

Wild Nothing at Santos Party House

Best Foot-Stompin’ Roots Rockin’: The Ramblers

The Ramblers at National Underground

Cutest Accents/Twee Pop: The Crayon Fields

The Crayon Fields at Rockwood Music Hall

Most Unique Instruments: The Luyas and their 12-string zither and French horn

The Luyas at Arlene's Grocery

Best Vocals as Instruments: Braids

Braids at Arelene's Grocery

Best Voice to Come Out of a Nondescript Guy: PS I Love You

PS I Love You at Arelene's Grocery

Band Most Worth Staying Up Until 1 AM For: The Drums

Jonathan Pierce of The Drums at Santos Party House

Band Most Worth Getting Up By 1 PM for: Francis and the Lights

Francis and the Lights at Knitting Factory BK

Best Blues and Gospel Influenced Band: The Mynabirds

The Mynabirds at the Delancey

Best (Literal) Hair Band: Cults


Cults at Brooklyn Bowl

Band We Most Wanted to See But Didn’t: Das Racist

Best Showcases

Best Overall Showcase: Stereogum at Santos on Wednesday night

Best Canadian Representation: The M for Montreal Showcase at Arlene’s Grocery on Thursday night

They gave out free poutine (french fries, gravy, and cheese curds) at the M for Montreal Showcase

Best Folk Roundup: The Delancey on Thursday night

Show We Most Wanted to Get into But Couldn’t: Four Tet, Gold Panda, and Jon Hopkins at Webster Hall

Best Day Showcase: Brooklynvegan‘s Showcase on Saturday at Public Assembly

Best Non-official CMJ Showcases: #Offline Festival at Brooklyn Bowl by Pitchfork

Lots more pictures after the jump!


November 2, 2010 at 10:46 am 4 comments

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