Archive for the ‘Live Shows’ Category

It’s Sunday night.  The rest of New York Shiddy is curling up to watch either football, House of the Dragon, or for more creative potatoes, both at once.  But underneath the scaffolding, amidst perpetually dirty streets and fresh graffiti tags, the family was gathering.  The almighty Fishbone were coming to the conclusion of their small “Fly in the Buttermilk” tour, a familiar term for old Fishbone heads.  Flies in the buttermilk are out of bounds.  They defy limitations and expectations.  As the band says on their Facebook, to be a fly in the buttermilk is “a badge of honor as a band of color in a stereotypical music genre.  Too black for white radio, too rock for black radio.”   It takes guts to be the odd ones out, no matter how radical nor earnest nor unbounded, which draws radical earnest unbounded fans.  Fishbone brought along pop punk outfit Action/Adventure, a band of fellow flies out of Chicago making music only white suburban kids are supposed to make (if you answer to the machine).  Together they made some beautiful noise down at the independent bastion Le Poisson Rouge.

Action/Adventure started the night off with some really solid tunes.  While pop punk isn’t my flavor of tea necessarily, this fivesome rocked pretty good.  Their drummer can put out some beastly clamor.  They sound like they’d be at home on alt-rock radio.  For all of my memories of fakery from pop punk bands two decades ago, these guys had none – they were, frankly, adorable, and mock the ye olde concept of poser-ism in their music and their own brand of hot sauce, Poser Poison.  Even though these guys are clearly playing a genre they love, but aren’t “supposed” to love, they vocally stood firm in their convictions that people can do whatever the hell they want regardless of the continents in their blood.  That’s as punk as it gets.  

Then came Fishbone.  What is there to say about your sixth Fishbone show?  “Sunless Saturday,” “Everyday Sunshine,” “Ma and Pa,” “Servitude,” the classics roll off the tongue.  There were old punks who were-there-when, some from the Chili Peppers tour era, which impressed Angelo and Norwood.  There was new blood too.  I spotted a couple kids in their twenties, and even one youngin’ out well past his bedtime, finding his joy in the morass of whirling bodies.  Go get ‘em, kid.  

Of course there was a pit.  A Fishbone pit is a high impact high velocity hug-a-thon for the seasoned rock kid.  One older pro in a pork pie hat started the surf, and before I knew it, I was holding up Angelo’s thigh while he sweat-dripped Sunshine on our faces.  I took a pit edge position, playing defense for a photographer and trying to keep sturdy against the onslaught.  Of course there were moments the pit took me off my feet, but there was no fear, because this Fishbone pit felt less like elbows and shoulders and more like jumping the waves at the beach.  I must have wrapped my arms around dozens of fellow meatbags, and they around me.  A sea of flies, wing in wing.

It was gorgeous and I am exhausted.  Here are some other thoughts, in no particular order:

  • More women than I have noticed before
  • Sweat
  • HORNS ON HORNS ON HORNS ON HORNS ON HORNS
  • Dr. Madd Vibe laying down poetry
  • Norwood in tie-dye still looking good
  • Happy Birthday Norwood with special guests 
  • Dirty Walt’s very dirty microphone
  • Chris Dowd being a ham 
  • A series of almost comically larger and larger saxophones 
  • Angelo Moore’s delicious asscrack
  • I hope Angelo saw my Thumpasaurus shirt because that would be a mind-blower lineup
  • John Steward keeping rhythms tight
  • Mark Phillips with the shred
  • I don’t know who I took that picture with but I love you too
  • The bartender was cool as hell
  • Family of strangers
  • Fishbone being now and forever red hot

Fishbone Instagram  ★  FishboneLive.org

Action/Adventure Instagram  ★  Action/Adventure Bandcamp

Where the fuck is it?  I’m toiling around the streets, knowing I am vaguely close because of the shift in quality of graffiti.  A guy as equally confused as I am is spying the environs on this corner of Wyckoff and Weirfeld, looking for a music venue.  He spots it first.  The name Trans-Pecos is outlined in some kind of black tape on a facade of cheap wired government glass NYC uses to build public buildings, causing this little gem to stay hidden from passers-by.  But inside, this venue’s booth-lined dance floor glistens with refracted starlight and neon. Tonight, I am again following the paths of Logan Kane and Nicole McCabe further into jazz, along with sound artist Claire Dickson, and punk/jazz outfit CGI Jesus.  

The show eases in with a sophistication.  Brooklyn-based Claire Dickson uses her vocals and a keyboard setup to layer her sound.  There may have been different songs, but the layperson couldn’t tell because her set was continuous and uninterrupted by applause.  From there, she selects a sparse palate of tones, bells, and ethereal vocals and lets them waver and warp naturally, aided by gentle nudges from her toolkit.  She conveys this existential kind of thing that fills up the room.  There’s a mindful smallness you feel when listening to tones like this, like listening to silence at night.  What do you call that, tinnitus of the sublime?  It takes away all of the petty pressures of being human.  And I think, I pay my therapist $20 a week to relax my mind when I could do it at a $12 show.  If you have ever spent a night in bed with Tangerine Dream, it’s worth spending an evening at the venue to wash your face with these kinds of waves. I never have before.

I started chatting up Confused Guy from earlier, spreading the gospel of music I love.  He was tempted to clap for Dickson, but it would have interrupted the tone and he wanted to be respectful.  Still, he seems floored.  He’s the type that sees what’s playing and goes out mostly blind, a sense of adventure that I can appreciate, having flown solo at most shows as of late.  Suddenly his tone shifts.  He’s needy, looking for a party, but I am not a party.  I become uncomfortable, firstly because I had thought I might end the night with a new show-hopping bud, and secondly because I am reminded of what I have read about jazz scenes and chemical self-destruction.  There’s that mortality that permeates the topic of jazz.  He’s gone before CGI Jesus, and I wonder if he enjoyed the music beyond what was necessary to score.  It feels grim.

Next was Dolphin Hyperspace, the LA-based duo being joined by drummer Daniel Rossi.  They started with fat whomper “Buster Boy,” setting the pace for the set.  The audience was awash in bouncing bodies, including mine.  Kane bounces, his red-capped head bopping in full bass face euphoria.  McCabe had the bounce too, though she was limited by proximity of her horn to the mic, and I wonder what she would do if she could clip one on somehow.  But she was still enough that I could check out her dope tats when I wasn’t looking at her fingers gliding on the sax. I see the way they watch each other and take turns ripping it as the drummer whips out sick *kssssh kssssh* beats.  At one point (I think it was Lizard Sisterz?) the combination of electronics and instruments sound like Fingathing with new ingredients, and I am in heaven.  “You fucking murdered me,” I shout, because my mania is on 11 and I don’t know how to make more words than that.  With a cavewoman’s cadence I ask “that was jazz?”  “Well, hyperjazz.” McCabe answers, vaguely undecided.  It’s too late to change. The word ricochets off the walls of my mind, lighting it up like a pinball machine.  hyperjazz .  

Google yields little but this word is so coooool

The final act was CGI Jesus, a group led by bassist and composer Kevin Eichenberger.  Their bandcamp suggests a combination of “trash jazz” and “chamber punk,” which are also new favorite word combinations that I have never encountered before.  There were drums, guitar, and trumpet on deck for the night, although I couldn’t tell you who was “in” the band and who was “with” the band.  Jazz doesn’t seem to have these kinds of clear demarcations, which makes me wonder if seeing shows and all of these different individual instrumentalists is kind of like trying all the flavor/topping/sprinkle combinations at Rita’s Italian Ices.  You’ll never really get through ‘em all.  CGI Jesus leaves me with a prog aftertaste, but they had so many different types of sounds and emotions going on.  Sometimes you’re grooving, sometimes it’s angsty, sometimes it’s discordant, and sometimes it’s yearning.  Sometimes it was mournful, like when Eichenberger dedicated a tune to trumpeter jaimie branch, who recently departed – she was my age and build – untimely.  There’s that shadow again.  This was probably her community.

In hindsight it was all emotional whiplash, but that’s what makes it experimental.  You don’t get on a rollercoaster for a smooth ride. 

On the way out, the venue is playing a cover of King Crimson’s Schizoid Man.  I have seen them live twice, once with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on the bill, too.  How much jazz have I heard in their music, unaware?  Or in Jones’s?  It’s funny, my notion of jazz used to be so plain, singular.  But you have to go beyond the portal to really see what’s up.  There is nothing really plain about it.

Claire Dickson BandcampClaire Dickson Website

Dolphin Hyperspace BandcampDolphin Hyperspace Instagram

CGI Jesus BandcampCGI Jesus Instagram

Eaddy and TheOGM of Ho99o9

Cut to a chilly Saturday night at Bowery Ballroom. The stores are closed, but whole street glistens with spray-painted names and signs. A young *somebody* in a hand-altered hoodie is having his photo and video taken by onlookers. A clown-faced goth waits for her friends in front of a tequila bar. Randoms donned in black get their last burn of rolled flower before getting their wristbands. Some fresh-faced kid tries to take a piss in the waning daylight while his friend stands guard. New York City.

I’m mostly a stranger to the many worlds of hip hop. Until recently I hadn’t found that band that gave me an “in” to start really looking around the alternative hip hop universe. Then M-S-G OG Soda invited me to a free show one Halloween night to see Ho99o9, a band he saw open for Korn. Holy fucking shit. I got to watch TheOGM tear a wedding dress off of his body while being assaulted with the most guttural cyber-queer industrial noise I have ever heard. It was glorious and terrifying at the same time. So when Soda told me they were coming around again, I knew I had to be there.

The show starts with Baseville, a duo of New Jersey locals known as The General and Hoddy the Young Jedi. It didn’t take long until the crowd jumped into a frenzy and a pit opened up. Baseville’s beats are deep and deliberate and throbbing with noise, and it suddenly occurs to me how close punk and hip-hop really are in terms of attitude and rage. “Never Nothing No More” sticks in my head as a song with a kind of frustrated gravity, while one of their other tunes held a repetitious refrain of “I’m working” that that caught me as a little mischievous. The songs rang quick and short and burned with noisy undertones. The set ends, and Soda comments about already seeing a bloodied face in the men’s room. “He’s like, ‘do I need stitches? Do I need them yet?,'” quoting a stage diver worried about the impact of his head wound on his viewing experience. That kind of night.

I had no idea what to expect from N8NOFACE, only knowing that my friends heard good things. I’m burning up the last sips of a vodka double when up on stage comes this man with a glorious moustache and crazed expression. He simply declares “I’m N8NOFACE and this is synth punk.” Seconds later this man is shouting his stories of drugs and sobriety, murder and suicide, all over fast-paced darkwave synths. Who the fuck brings Xymox to the hip hop kids? N8NOFACE does, with an austere DIY setup and his own devilish madness. He pulls his shirt up over his own head and beats his own face while screaming in a kind of excited rage, as if reveling in his self punishment. He switches between devil horns and post-punk shimmying. His gruff facade fits right in with the gangster genre, but he’s got a sense of humor about himself, too. There’s also something nougaty he’s trying to show you in his mentions of lost friends, or his request for kindness at his sole acoustic number. I immediately swarmed his table and bought the good shit. N8 is one to watch.

N8NOFACE

Then came 999. Past mixtures of punk and hip-hop were never my flavor, but the two genres become blood brothers here. Eaddy ironically sports an L.A.P.D. tee to poke at the law, a favorite song topic. The cacophony is noisy and rhythmic, and the crowd pumps in time. Someone jumps on stage at the start, brandishing a shirt that says “God is Gay” to “a roar of enthusiasm,” as Olivia Cieri of Invisible Oranges writes. Stage jumpers make OGM and Eaddy light up. “Motherfucking Action Bronson” they call one tattooed fella who jumps into the crowd. I worry that the crowd parted for his landing. Dark thumping beats vibrate the brain stem during fan favorites like “Bone Collector” and “Battery Not Included.” At one point, Hoddy sits on the side of the stage watching the show, still in his orange jumper, before using his Young Jedi mind tricks to make eye contact with the pit and launch himself into the crowd. I swallow my last double so I can free my hands to pump with the crowd.

A brief interlude as we approach the end of the show and TheOGM lights a joint and sways softly to Crystal Waters’ legendary house track, “Gypsy Woman.” I see his head and shoulders hanging backward in a cloud of smoky ecstasy, thick dreads falling down his back, *feefeefeeling* it. The lyrics thicken now that they’re nestled between Ho99o9’s biting assaults on police brutality, politics, and dystopia. He then smiles and then flirts at Eaddy, who strips off his teeshirt to reveal a tattooed musculature. Eaddy responds with a grin. TheOGM is repulsive and divine… and terrifyingly sexy.

Ho99o9 is just full of these wild juxtapositions, sometimes darkly comedic, causing them to pull up a really diverse crowd. “Punks, goths, queers and queens,” Soda says, noting the sprawl, a melting pot of subcultures others would think too insular to meld like this. In front of me, a duo of elder punks make space to avoid of the clutches of the pit. Across the floor, rave kids in bunnies and rainbows talk to hip-hop kids in all black streetwear. Kids in Los-Angelean baseball jerseys share the floor with platform-boot goth girls and genderfuckers, all united by the horror and political rage and dirt of lives lived in America’s economic taint. It seems it’s the one thing we all have in common.

Hoddy & Baseville BandcampBaseheadTV Youtube

N8NOFACE BandcampN8NOFACE Linktree

Ho99o9 InstagramHo99o9 Website

Even though New York is still coated in a late-March sheet of ice, I keep trying to find the push to yank my gravitationally-enhanced behind out of my hovel and go live inside some lights and music for a few hours. So I rolled out of my house, said goodbye to my sweet little doggo, and headed out to legendary Long Island rock spot Mr. Beery’s for the release of Coventry Carols’ self-titled first album. Supported by New Haven’s He Was A God and Richmond’s Sadartha, the show was a solid three hours of guitar shredding, screaming, and rock ‘n’ roll camaraderie. These three bands vibrated the walls into Saturday morning to welcome debut album Coventry Carols into the world.

First was Sadartha. The Virginia-based duo of guitarist/vocalist Johnny Noxious and bassist Mello Cefola displayed a collection of new grunge tunes. Sadartha’s fat guitar vibrations have that dark energy that remind me of how Alice in Chains used to feel. You know, the feeling that grabs you by the back of your sinuses and pumps rage into your brain. Sadartha set the stage for an evening of heavy flavors with just a touch of vocal pomp, inspired by “the ghost of Billy Corgan’s hair” that permeated their song “Eclipsing Binaries.” Although it’s fair to say, Noxious has enough glorious-enough hair of his own. Their latest album, Sad Art, came out in October.

The show raged on with pure personality metal/prog act He Was A God. Hailing from Connecticut, this fivesome melds prog sensibilities with metal sounds. Their drummer (Chris Densky of Genitorturers fame) is an absolute beast. This group dazzles with sonic Maiden-esque solos of alternating guitarists Ray Zvovushe and Tony Pellino. With bassist Dan Perrone bringing the heavy, and the charisma of Man In Black vocalist Ben Curns, He Was A God positively melted my face into goop. With politically biting lyrics and megaphone-using showmanship, I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Their new EP The Smile & The Scar came out in December. Check out “Two New Stars” – it was sick.

Finally, Coventry Carols’ themselves brought the house down with a warm welcome from a nearly packed Beery’s crowd.  Singer/songwriter Soda Survive reunites with fellow (e)motion picture alumnus Terry “T.T.” Taylor to produce another series of hard but core-smacking tunes. With the addition of bassist Cliff “Sugarbear” Catropa, the three produce an emo-type sound with a little extra metal rage added for good measure. If Sadartha was inspired by the ghost of Billy Corgan’s hair, Soda was positively choked by it, feeling his 90s grunge fantasy with his stage antics and some healthy banter with T.T. and an audience member who was gifted with a dedication for their tune, “This Serenade.”

The losers for the night? The drummers. T.T.’s lead foot broke the last working pedal, Sadartha’s be-hated drummer Manny the Mannequin passed out after two songs (FUCK YOU, MANNY!), and HWAG’s drummer lost a stick to a joyful buffoon in the crowd that now has a prized souvenir (mind my jealousy). Still, a raucous show, and just the kind of energy a girl needs to emerge from winter frost. Gotta love a $10 show!

Sadartha’s BandcampSadartha’s Instagram

He Was A God BandcampHe Was A God Instagram

Coventry Carols BandcampCoventry Carols Instagram

Last Sunday night, 08/13 The Magpie Salute treated The Paramount in Huntington Long Island to a near two and a half hours of phenomenal rock and soul! Thanks to venue director Adam Ellis for taking care of us! GEM Photography was in tow and sent in some cool shots to M-S-G that I wanted to share with you guys. What a gig!

Less than a week ago I had the pleasure of seeing Lisa Loeb perform again. I’d seen her only once, and it was 20 or so years ago in NYC when I was kid. I remember being so happy after watching her play and being able to be a part of that time when she was really at a peek and I myself was just learning how to be a singer and a songwriter and really absorbing the moment. Now, so many years later and having seen her again was a similar experience but different at the same time. I realized her influence even more.

Promptly taking the stage at 8pm, Lisa and her guitar looked more petite than usual in the Boulton Center on Long Island. Moments into the performance you knew that you were truly in on something special. The room was full of people that were very eager. It was obvious this woman’s work had come to be adored.

Lisa Loeb Live @ The Boulton Center, Long Island 03.30.17

Lisa Loeb live @ The Boulton Center, Long Island 03.30.17 (Photo by Soda)

 

Lisa played and sang and regaled us with a number of stories that spanned the course from her time just starting out up until that very moment. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear stories of someone coming up in the early to mid-nineties in NYC. Sign me way up! This particular performance was full of those stories and just about equal to the songs given like precious little gifts, and, I was one of the lucky people there for the unwrapping, (thanks Blacktop Records). Hits like “Truthfully” and of course “Stay” were delivered so delicately with connections to the stories that went along with them. Lisa told us about how “Stay” of course changed her life. She was at number one without a record deal, we learned how that happened thanks to the film Reality Bites. It all sounded so magical. We were also treated to songs like “The Disappointing Pancake,” a tune true to it’s title. If you didn’t know, Lisa has also become successful in writing songs for kids, she also has an amazing foundation called Camp Lisa in which all proceeds from that recording of the same name goes to help children who can’t afford a summer camp experience to have one.

Myself and Lisa Loeb, Boulton Center 03/30/17

Myself and Lisa Loeb, Boulton Center 03.30.17

We could sit and listen all night long. It was intimate and personal. She has the charm to make you feel like you’re the only one in the room. Throughout the performance Lisa may have forgotten some words and had to poke around a few chords as well as a very nimble guitar intro in which she was very happy to have learned because it was “the guitar AND bass part rolled into one”. Those happy little mistakes made only for a better show, one in which a successful songwriter, an actor, an author and more…can just seem so, human. Tales of her friends and her children made you feel like you’d have known Lisa your whole life, and…that is a true gift. I certainly hope I don’t have to wait a bunch of years to see the one and only Lisa Loeb perform again as some shows you want to just get lost in. Thanks Lisa!

Check out the latest Lisa Loeb album, Feel What U Feel, out now.

Lisa Loeb - Feel What U Feel

A band called…mUg bUg

Posted: February 8, 2017 by Soda in Dave Alvin, Live Shows, mUg bUg, NYC

Saturday Night’s are better for a lot more than fighting, this past Saturday was a primo example. Way East on the Island of Long, in a town called Ronkonkoma, sits a music venue called Backstage Pass. This little place over the last year or so has started to prove that it truly is a killer place for live music. This night a great set of bands took the stage there, but, I cannot lie, my mission was to catch the “one and only show” by this band called mUg bUg. Fronted by legendary howler and good friend of mine Dave Alvin, I was super excited to see this band because I grew up listening to Dave fronting Queens based icons White Trash (“Apple Pie”, “The Crawl”). I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’ve only ever known Dave from WT. I of course expected it to be quality, but I wasn’t completely prepared for how rocked myself and everybody in the room would become.

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Right after War & Blues wrapped up their loosely conceptual set mUg bUg swiftly loaded on and nonchalantly took the stage with Alvin simply announcing who they were. The amount of thunderous riffage, pickle jar tightness and ease the band put forth was completely earth shattering. Alvin’s voice was edgier than ever and in tip-top shape. His fellow bugs were also clearly seasoned badass musicians. This was a no nonsense gig from a group of gents that wanted to do one thing, and that was to give an eager and very impressed audience a solid rock show, and, it transcended that surely.

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mUg bUg Photo: Soda

Highlights of the short set were “I Lost My Mind In El Paso” and another tune called “Don’t Let the Old Man In” which is purely about hanging on to your youth and not letting age dictate how you should live your life. Dave, clearly taking a more serious approach to his lyric writing this time around also bridged the songs with his usual smart ass honest humor.

Quick and to the point leaving the funk at the door the band delivered a set of hard rock songs that left everyone eagerly wanting more. A great place to leave off. *Hint hint guys*. Very much hoping for another performance from this band who could easily rise to the top of New York’s hot list.

Follow along on their FaceBook page: mUg bUg Official Facebook

Skid Row, 30 Years, Irving Plaza

Skid Row, 25 Years, Irving Plaza

Last Wednesday Night Skid Row returned to Irving Plaza to celebrate 25 plus years of being, well…completely badass.

Set to hit the stage at 10:00pm (after direct support from The Blackfires who never disappoint), promptly at 10:02pm a deep red light filled the stage and The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” came blasting over the PA System, obviously the work of the Skids as they are big fans. In tow this time however was “real” singer number 3, Tony Harnell who is mostly famous for his work with Norwegian Rock/Metal band TNT. Tony has always been known for his golden pipes with said band and through various other projects leading up to his now current time as front man of Skid Row. Which, let’s face it, is no easy task. From Iconic drama queen Sebastian Bach whom the band had mega success with throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s (Do I really need to name songs?) onto the edgier less polished Johnny Solinger to just a few months in, Tony Harnell.

Immediately kicking the show into high gear with heavy opener “Slave to The Grind”, Skid Row seemed to turn Irving Plaza into an instant time warp. Not to say their music seems dated because it truly doesn’t, a good song is a good song now or 20 some odd years ago. What I mean when I say that is that the band seemed completely youthful, hell Rachel Bolan certainly knows where the fountain of youth is because the guy looks amazing. “Slave” lead us into “Big Guns”, another classic Skid Row song from the monster selling self-titled debut from 1989. Keeping the energy on high next up was “Let’s Go” off of Solinger era EP United World Rebellion: Chapter One. Barely 20 minutes into the show the band let us know that this wasn’t going to be some novelty act trip down memory lane, better yet, that it was a group stronger and ever wiser than before relishing in an almost 30-year history and looking brightly to the future. More interesting still after the opening onslaught was hearing Tony Harnell announce to the crowd “We’re Skid Row!”

Harnell is no slouch when it comes to hitting these parts right on. As usual his voice was primo, although coming off a little stiff in performance at times he is filling his role just fine. Honestly, when I first heard the news of him joining the band it seemed totally logical to me. The core of Skid Row; Rachel, Snake and Scotti you can tell are not holding any punches with him. Most of the big hits were all nestled into the set list among some deeper cuts so he definitely had his work cut out for him. Is he Sebastian Bach? Nope. Johnny Solinger? Nah. He’s truly a singer that can hold his own ground and not be afraid to take on such a task.

A few things were very apparent throughout the course of the performance, the main observation being that the band looked very happy and content, Snake especially who along with Rachel took some time in between a few songs to speak to the audience who were many and fully receptive to the current Skid Row. Rachel talked about how they hadn’t played Irving Plaza since 1995 and went on to thank the audience and wax romantic about his love for The Ramones which lead us into their superior cover of “Psycho Therapy” in which Bolan sings lead on. I personally am a big time Rachel lover, his vocals, bass chops, style…he’s got it in spades.

Snake too took some time out to get personal with his audience. This is a man that is truly humbled by the continued support and completely gracious. It’s really amazing to see that.

The band ended their set with chart topper “Monkey Business” from their second record Slave to The Grind which was a major song back when it debuted on MTV in 1991 every hour upon the hour as an Exclusive plunging the band into even more super stardom. The near 15-minute version of the song that we were presented with this night was completely flesh melting. Snake and Scotti are absolute animals and traded about 10 minutes’ worth of Solos in the center of the song. Truly awe inspiring and leaving the crowd wanting more, much, much more.

Which then lead us to the encore of “Youth Gone Wild”. The one song, that started it all and the one song that would end it for us on this night ONLY. Skid Row is far from done. There is much to look forward to with Harnell at the helm. More shows and I’m quite sure a new record. For those of you that think these bands who had hits from so many years ago are washed up and just resting on their laurels wanting to reclaim their past, think again. Anyone that was in attendance knows the facts. So get it straight or take a hike! Plainly, Skid Row still rocks.

Skid Row setlist 11.04.15 Irving Plaza, NYC

Skid Row setlist 11.04.15 Irving Plaza, NYC

Blindside - NYC

Blindside – NYC

After almost 8 years of not performing in America, Blindside, from Sweden decided to pay New York City a visit for ONE show at The Marlin Room @ Webster Hall to celebrate the 13-year Anniversary of what had become their most successful album, Silence. The album, released on Elektra Records and produced by Howard Benson had a big push in America and abroad, boasting radio and video rotation with key tracks “Pitiful” and “Sleepwalking”’. They also toured extensively in support of the record. The band had everything in place to become a successful juggernaught.

Silence album cover

Silence album cover

But as anyone in the music “Industry” knows, the key to success is a fickle mystery, at the very least. A few years later, label changes and less of a nudge from said labels Blindside would eventually become more of an underground/cult band. A few more brilliant albums and little public performance many were left with the question of “What happened to Blindside?” And not just until recently the revelation became sweet. Nothing short of 2 months ago the bands Facebook page became more active with posts directly from Simon (Guitarist) and then one lonely show date posted, for New York City. And, what we would get to experience was truly a night to be remembered by everyone in attendance.

Blindside last set foot in New York City’s Knitting Factory some 8 years ago, in which they performed a setlist which lead us from the past to the most recent of their material, a great theme and delivered most powerfully only the way the quartet can. Quiet frankly, one of the more passionate bands going today they returned to New York with a purpose, and that was to perform all of Silence in it’s entirety. Now, it’s no small feat to perform any record in full by any artist. In fact, most bands put a song or two on their record with all intensive purposes of never performing them live. In this case, there was not a note left unplayed or a scream left unhinged from Christian, Simon, Tomas, and Marcus, the 4 parts that make up Blindside since 1994, yes, it can happen, original members can stay together and weather the storm, it’s rare but indeed precious when it occurs.

A cool blue light filled the room and a sweet orchestration of violins came over the sound system. It was time, and we were all hungry and elated and ready to burst with the energy of opener “Caught A Glimpse”, we knew what was coming, but didn’t truly yet understand the extent of it. One by one the band walked onto the stage. A great opener to an album and an even better one to a live performance. The eruption had begun, from band and onlooker alike. “What just happened? The Hollywood Empire strikes back and this time, I am standing in their way!” From opener to closer Blindside was a barrage of honest and raw energy, humbled and grateful for their crowd on this night. The show would inevitably wind down with the solemn and chilling version of title track, “Silence”. Simon is unquestionably a brilliant guitarist, being able to hear this song live was truly magical as he and Christian came to the stage as a duo to perform the somber piece. “We’ve never really been a band for the whole ‘acoustic sit on a stool performance’, but tonight I guess we will make and exception” spoke Christian, and that would lead us truly to victory. “So I think I’ll stay, caught up in silent prayer, cause I believe in silence. Our hearts speak the same words, so why don’t we just walk along the shoreline with our silent song? Cause I believe in silence. Our hearts speak the same words…the same words.” And just like that…they were gone. But the crowd would not have it, leaving the floor rumbling and chants of Blindside! Blindside!

“I almost didn’t want to come back out, it seemed like such a perfect way to end,” Christian softly said before they slid into “Eye Of The Storm” from album About A Burning Fire. Followed by the always haunting “My Alibi” from masterpiece The Great Depression. We were then treated to an unnamed new song, which of course is a great sign. And in closing were left with an earth shattering version of “About A Burning Fire”

Poignant, sharp and more important than ever Blindside is alive and well. Silence unfolded before a few hundred people from all over the world who came to witness, and it left our ears ringing and mouths salivating for more. I believe in Silence…

Blindside

Blindside

Jimmy Gnecco & Band w/Nick Perri Group, NYC 11.09.14

Jimmy Gnecco & Band w/Nick Perri Group, NYC 11.09.14

Rockwood Music Hall in NYC opened its doors at 9pm this past Sunday night for what was literally to be one of the hottest shows in town. The sweltering room filled with about 50 some odd people was calm on a mellow Sunday night. I stood in good conversation for 15-20 minutes or so as we waited for the show to begin. I’m a diehard OURS fan and the bonus this evening was the opening band Nick Perri Group. I’m familiar with Nick from his short time spent with Shinedown for The Sounds of Madness album and before that Silvertide and equally short involvement with Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party as live guitarist. I was aware that he was a force to be reckoned with but I did not however get to witness the true hype until show time came.

Nick and his band peacefully walked out onto the stage in full thrift shop regalia moving into what appeared to be a laid back opener until only about 40 seconds in when the show instantly kicked into high gear with some hard and gritty bluesy rock. You become instantly aware of Nick whether you are familiar with him or not. His energy is quite contagious. The whole band is a tight and well oiled machine that not once let go of its hold on you throughout the 9 song set. Singer Joshua Bartholomew looked much like a rock and roll scarecrow with his gold locks and earthy attire belting out spine tingling vocal glory. It’s interesting how music can be tasty; Nick and his band truly make mouths water, complete with a hair raising rhythm section.

Nick Perri Group, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

Nick Perri Group, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

Halfway through the set the band tore into a blazing instrumental in which Nick spent most of the 3 some odd minutes dancing with his guitar in the crowd flipping his Pantene perfect hair all over the place. AND just when you thought it couldn’t get any hotter the quartet slams us head on into a flawless cover of Zeppelin’s “Black Dog”, if you closed your eyes you could swear Robert Plant at his peak was howling through the microphone, a truly divine cover.

Closing the set was a tune called “Graveyard Moon” which had a bit of an old school Black Crowes vibe to it. When all was said and done they left the stage in nothing but embers which only had about 20 minutes to settle before OURS came back out to keep the fires burning. I asked Nick at the end of the night what the future held for him and his band from LA, it sounds like 2015 is going to be a busy year for them so keep your eyes peeled, you’ll be doing yourself a service.

Soda w/Nick Perri, NYC 11.09.14 photo courtesy of Vellum Magazine

Soda w/Nick Perri, NYC 11.09.14 photo courtesy of Vellum Magazine

Turning our attention to the stage once more Jimmy Gnecco and his cult, OURS, walked out onto the stage. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the way the show was billed, “Jimmy Gnecco & Band”. I was happy to see the OURS line-up, minus Race but with a new drummer (which has become standard for the band.)

The set started off fairly slow, and for OURS, this is strange as moments into their shows you are usually grabbed by the throat with the intensity they display, much a kin to a religious experience. After about 3 songs in we learned that Jimmy was fighting a bit of a fever, and having played the night prior in New Jersey he was a little weak. But after said third song, “I’m a Monster” he announced ‘that’s how you chase the fever away’ which lead into an absolutely blistering version of “Murder” with one of Jimmy’s students from School of Rock (Saddlebrook, NJ) as a back-up guitarist. Always generous in that aspect, we have come to see many younger guys pop up at OURS shows as openers or as guest musicians.

The momentum did not stop after “Murder”. Nick Perri and his drummer John then also came back onto the stage as Jimmy was telling us a bit about how he actually viewed OURS as a soul band. Such a statement would ring true with the now 7 piece band smoothly jamming out a version of “Been Down” off of their latest offering, Ballet the Boxer. Soulful indeed, the song was delivered with true passion and a hair raising triple guitar assault as Nick, Static and Jimmy pinched and bent notes up and down their fret boards.

OURS, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

OURS, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 11.09.14 photo by Soda

Being in such a small venue at a show of this caliber is extremely rewarding. Jimmy & friends gave us a 2 hour plus performance with countless gems off of Distorted Lullabies, Mercy, Ballet The Boxer and his solo offering, The Heart. Complete with stories of leaving the record business behind and heartwarming new songs about his Mother, “Fallen Flower”. Even mid set, fashion designer Christian Benner joined the band onstage in which he surprised Jimmy with the fact that he and a few fans had put the money together to have him a custom made leather jacket created, “Another reason for PETA to be upset with me…” (Jimmy once being vegan.)

So much can be written about a top quality rock show like this, 3 plus hours of music, songs from OURS that haven’t been played in ages, surprises and more…fear not, there is still hope for quality in a crumbling music market my friends, you just have to look for it…dig for music, you will find gold and it will be well worth it.

This show makes one final stop in Philly tonight the 12th at Milkboy. If you are nearby, treat yourself to a stellar night of music!

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