Showing posts with label Reviewed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reviewed. Show all posts

June 06, 2012

Reviewed: Dan Mangan and Blind Pilot

Wesbter Hall, New York, NY

While Blind Pilot may have headlined the show last night at Webster Hall, I attended to see Dan Mangan, the Canadian folk crooner behind one of the best albums of 2011, Oh Fortune. Facing a lukewarm crowd without his usual band behind him, Mangan had a difficult task to win over the audience. But he was up for it. He adapted most of Oh Fortune for one guitar (quite a feat considering how full of activity that album is), and it worked in his favor. Quieting all the background made his voice (one of the best in the biz in my opinion) stand out more. The quiver in his voice was audible with only soft strums behind it. Quite a few times during the show he reminded me a great deal of Glen Hansard. And that is one of the highest compliments I can give a singer. Most of his songs translated very well into slower, gentler, acoustic versions, especially "Sold," an emotional track about growing old from his 2010 album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice. While Blind Pilot put on a nice performance, it was almost boringly straightforward, devoid of risks. Mangan on the other hand, laid all his cards out on the table, putting himself at the mercy of the audience, and he knocked it out of the park. Check out his tour dates below.

June 02, 2012

Sasquatch 2012: The Good

I don't run. I've never enjoyed it, and I probably never will. But when an obscenely long traffic jam almost caused me to miss the beginning of the Sasquatch Music Festival this past weekend, it seemed like the only option. Leaving the rest of my car-mates, I trekked the endless car line by foot to ensure that I didn't miss a second of the greatest festival in the Northwest. After about 45 minutes of speedwalking, I entered the grounds with sore feet, an overfilled backpack, and a whole lot of excitement. Despite the exhausting and undesirable beginning to the weekend, it didn't take long for the music and overall vibes to win me over.

This year I saw shows that were awe-inspiring (Bon Iver), rock-your-socks-off heavy (Jack White), and rife with Canadians (Hey Rosetta! and Said The Whale). I witnessed a new British invasion of songwriters (Ben Howard and Dry The River), the latest phenomenon from Iceland (Of Monsters and Men), and the next great actor turned musician (John Reilly). With a backdrop that was constantly lauded by artists as the most beautiful venue they had ever seen, Sasquatch is truly a unique festival experience. Combine The Gorge with the inherent friendliness of Northwesterners, the beautiful weather, and a superb lineup, and out comes one of the finest music festivals in the country.

See all of our photos here.



Walking into the festival to the infectious beat of "Pass You By" instantly put a smile on my face. The very first artist to perform on the new, and very intimate "Maine" Stage, Scribes treated those in attendance to a lively set of some of the hottest rhymes coming out of the Northwest. Although many would-be-attendees were painfully stuck in traffic, Scribes drew all the folks who wanted to squeeze every last minute out of the weekend, as well as those who were ready to party early.

Of Monsters and Men

Iceland's latest import was the clear fan favorite on Friday, drawing an enormous, and very lively crowd to the mainstage fairly early on the first day. While thousands of attendees were still in line to enter the grounds, those lucky enough to make it in time were busy jumping around to the group's fun Arcade-Fire-meets-Edward-Sharpe sound. Lucky for die hard fans, they also played a mini set in the acoustic tent, proving that they can rock stages large and small.

Said The Whale

Definitely the sweetest Canadians we met all weekend, Said The Whale put on a rousing show, drawing a large crowd of fellow Vancouverites. Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft's trading vocals sound even better together, and the crazy, spastic drums of Nathan Shaw keep the show exciting. They sing about nature an awful lot, and there isn't really a better place to talk about beautiful nature than The Gorge.

Alabama Shakes

Saying that the Bigfoot Stage was packed for this show would be an understatement. Everyone who has seen a music blog in the last year was at this show to witness Brittany Howard tear the place down. The group was as tight as could be, letting Howard own the spotlight with her phenomenal voice. It is one of those voices that sounds like it could knock you over with one yell, yet she doesn't abuse it. She doesn't let loose all the time, making it all the more amazing when she does.

Dry The River

One of the most pleasant surprises of the weekend, Britain's Dry The River captured the hearts of all at the Yeti Stage with their unique blend of folk and hard rock. After seeing a bit of their opening set for Bowerbirds a few months ago, I came away with mixed feelings about their loud folk sound. But thankfully, I gave them another chance. Seeing their full set, and the sheer variety of their talents, made the show one of the best of the day.

Jack White

Mr. White had a stage presence unmatched the entire weekend. He commanded the crowd with his madman-like persona and broad setlist. Playing songs from The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, and his solo album, White kept the night exciting, and loud. One of the most epic moments of the festival came after he closed the set with "Seven Nation Army." While the band stopped playing, the crowd of 20,000+ could not stop chanting the melody.

Hey Marseilles

The seven gents in Hey Marseilles had a tough opening noon slot on the mainstage, but they made the best of it. Their mellow folkestral tunes were a perfect way to start the day. Lead singer Matt Bishop's voice translated beautifully live, and they ran through tracks from their debut album, To Travels & Trunks, with grace. It was nice to see such a friendly bunch of musicians, as well as such a nice blend of folk and classical instruments.

Hey Rosetta!

I arrived at their performance with high expectations, after I heard fans raving about their live show all day. It only took one song for me to realize they were right. Hordes of Canadians came out to catch their hometown heros, and to watch frontman Tim Baker's howl echo across the Gorge. Fueled by rabid fans, the group rocked harder than expected, especially on material from their latest album, the magnificent Seeds. Watch out America!

The Head and the Heart

I have seen The Head and the Heart four times now, and this performance, their second in a row at Sasquatch, was the best. After performing at the Gorge for the first time last year, the group was back in their home state for a victory lap. Drawing an expected enormous crowd, and earning a great slot opening for Beirut, the crew played most of their beautiful debut album, as well as two great new tracks (you can hear them on their recent Fuel/Friends Chapel Session).


Beirut is widely considered one of the best live bands around these days, and they lived up to their reputation. Zach Condon, and a very mismatched looking backing band powered through hit after hit, spanning their entire career. With the great Perrin Cloutier on the accordion, they sounded sophisticated, professional, and so so good.

Bon Iver

At least a dozen times during Bon Iver's headlining set, the crowd was so deafening that I truly could not hear myself. Unlike most fans who chose to express their excitement by screaming their lungs out, I was too much in awe to make any noise at all. Instead, I watched in silence, trying to squeeze every last instant out of the best show of the weekend. Justin Vernon, with a very large backing band consisting of two drummers, two guitarists, two horn players, a bassist, and some multi-instrumentalists, played a powerful set including his entire new album, as well as most of his debut. For songs off For Emma, he opted for a fuller sound than on the record and it worked better than I expected. For the stunning "Blood Bank," the track was transformed into a huge production, that had an absolutely gorgeous, enormous sound. Vernon's voice, even more pure in a live setting, caused almost everyone in attendance to tear up at some point, whether it was during "Skinny Love" or "Re: Stacks." This show could not have been better. Vernon himself put it best when after opening with "Perth" he chuckled, "This is pretty fucking cool." We agree.

Ben Howard

I, along with a large portion of the Sasquatch crowd, was very excited to see what British songsmith Ben Howard would be like on stage. While technical difficulties cut his set time down to a paltry 25 minutes, he made the best of it, leading the crowd through sing-alongs, and inspiring every single fan to wait around. His acoustic tunes will no doubt be making waves in America soon.

John Reilly and Friends

It is safe to say that the large majority of the crowd that showed up to see John Reilly, wanted to see Dewey Cox, the country musician character he played in the movie Walk Hard. But Reilly, who has quite a good voice, as well as stage presence, took the music seriously. Luckily for fans of his movies, he sported his Dewey Cox guitar, and had plenty of jokes about Sasquatch at the ready, giving the crowd lots of laughs. Reilly's self-proclaimed reason for being there was to publicize the artists he was performing with, his 'friends'. And it worked! His fellow performers, Tom Brosseau and Becky Stark provided excellent backup vocals and made the show awfully cute.

Tenacious D

This performance, while I thought I knew what I was in for, was a huge surprise. Because the funniest part of this comedy act is the lyrics, which are often hard to discern live, I wasn't expecting much. But the sheer stage presence of Jack Black and Kyle Gass led to one of the most exciting performances all weekend. With a giant penis shaped "Fenix" on stage with them, they romped around stage, having a shred battle with a Sasquatch, and being attacked by a space squid. You can't not be entertained by that.

See all of our photos here
Photos by Rachel Fidler and Jonah Ollman

April 21, 2012

Reviewed: The Lumineers with Kopecky Family Band

The Red Room @ Cafe 939, Boston, MA

Between The Lumineers' set and their encore, the manager of the intimate 200-capacity venue took the stage to share a few words. "These bands have outgrown this venue," she said. "We were lucky to book this tour right when things were getting big." Boy was she right. The sold-out, intimate, heartwarming show was clearly a sign of things to come for the fantastically rustic Denver trio.

Openers The Kopecky Family Band gave me as a pleasant surprise. The Nashville group (not actually a family) played a rousing set of swamp-rock that brought to mind their former tourmates, Givers. The members busted out some hidden talents including cameos of accordion, pedal steel guitar, trombone, and cello. A great match for The Lumineers, the faux-siblings let us hear some new tracks that they had been working on, and won over a crowd that was clearly in attendance for the other performers. Frontman Gabe Simon's voice proved to be the highlight of their set, echoing out over the dancing listeners. Also, they were the only band I have ever seen to pass out instruments into the audience. 

Fronted by Wesley Schultz, The Lumineers made the already small venue feel like a living room jam session. Roaring through a concise set filled with hand-clapping and foot stomping, the band radiated fun as much as the crowd. Schultz's harmonies with cellist Neyla Pekarek were much more powerful live, and added more pep to "Dead Sea" as well as lead single "Ho Hey." 

Because the group only has one fantastic album under their belts, they managed to squeeze in some beautiful covers. A raucous rendition of "I Ain't Nobody's Problem," written by their friend Sawmill Joe, showed the band's prowess when it comes to straightaway blues crooning. They ended the performance with "The Weight," a tribute to Levon Helm, that they claimed they weren't too good at. On the contrary, the cover really showcased Pekarek's stunning, powerful vocals that had been hinted at throughout the set. 

On the love song "Dead Sea," Schultz sings "You'll never sink when you are with me." While in the song the words are directed towards a love interest, he might as well be talking to the crowd. After that show, anyone in the audience will not sink for quite some time. 

October 21, 2011

Reviewed: Yellow Ostrich + Ra Ra Riot

The Paradise, Boston

This was our second time hearing Yellow Ostrich, the threesome headed by Wisconsin native Alex Schaaf. On this occasion, the boys proved yet again that their unique, often sparse sound holds up beautifully to the test of a large, energetic crowd. Schaaf, one of the most innocent, pure personalities I've ever seen hold an electric guitar, was fascinating and captivating. He added to his numerous vocal looping some heavy guitar we hadn't heard before, something that freshened many of the arrangements off their 2010 record, The Mistress. The group was unafraid to showcase some brand new work as well. Here's a sample of a few of the tracks we hope they lay down very soon. All told, I was impressed not only with the increasing creativity and chemistry of the group, but also with the crowd's reaction to the material after just a 40 minute set. If anyone deserves the adoration of the masses, it's these guys. 

Following Yellow Ostrich was Ra Ra Riot, the now well-established indie-string-pop darlings. The sextet, complete with cello and violin, immediately stormed the stage with power and energy. I was blown away by their professionalism and musicianship. The sound was crisp and the vocals spot on, and any who may have imagined that the layered string melodies on record would be difficult to replicate live were proven wholly wrong. The set featured material from both their latest record, The Orchard, and the more successful, acclaimed 2008 album The Rhumb Line. It was by no means the most creative of performances, but it was a hell of a lot of fun. They know how to get the crowd jumping, and isn't that really what we all want in life?

October 16, 2011

Ryan Adams-"Ashes & Fire"

It's been a long time since Ryan Adams released a record. Or at least since he released one that isn't metal. Ashes & Fire, his latest work, has been billed by some as his "return to music." But even one listen in, it's hard to imagine he ever left. The 11 tracks are seamless. They're lyrically introspective and meaningful, yet so easy. Each song is refreshingly simple in instrumentation, with hints of organ and consistently tender piano accompanying Adams' faithful acoustic guitar (plus drums and bass). The album is seemingly over in the blink of an eye, leaving you longing for more and instantly ready to start it over and savor again. I've been a Ryan Adams fan for years. But I have to say it. This is my favorite work of his yet. Buy it now, and savor the "return" of one of music's most gifted artists.

Ryan Adams--"Dirty Rain"

Ryan Adams--"Lucky Now"

October 01, 2011

Reviewed - The Head And The Heart

Last night we had the pleasure of being able to make it out to The Royale in Boston, MA to witness one of the most exciting shows we have seen in quite some time. After a rousing, fun opening set by Thao and the Get Down Stay DownThe Head & The Heart took the stage. The lively sextet ran through their whole small, but powerful and thoroughly entertaining catalog, and also played three very promising new tracks. Their perfect blissful harmonies sounded better than ever and when the band let loose, the audience followed suit. The excited sold out crowd sang along to most of the songs to the pleasant surprise of the band. In only their second time in Boston they have developed a strong and loud fanbase. They accurately summed up their situation in the song "Heaven Go Easy On Me," when they sang with the crowd over and over, "We're well on our way".

Enjoy this beautiful video of one of their new tunes, "Josh McBride".

May 15, 2011

Reviewed - Milo Greene

The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA
Photo by Rachel Fidler

There is a certain feeling you get when you see a band perform, and you just know they are going to be big. I had that very distinct feeling last night for the half an hour I had the pleasure to see Milo Greene perform. The L.A. based quintet owned the crowd last night with their flawless performance. Belting perfect four-part harmonies, the group sounded even better than the recording. I wasn't aware that was possible! They performed with the refreshing excitement of a young band, still new to the live music scene and looked like they were having as much fun as the audience. One aspect of the performance that caught my attention was the lack of a specific frontman. Instead, all four of the singers had enough talent and charisma to lead the band, making the collection of them all the more powerful. The four of them constantly rotated instruments, all of them singing, and playing guitar and bass extremely fluently. They put on one of the most genuine, exciting, refreshing and purely beautiful performances I have had the pleasure of seeing. If you have the chance to see them live, jump at the opportunity. You won't regret it.

Milo Greene-"1957"

Milo Greene-"Don't You Give Up On Me"

After the show, we were able to chat with singer/guitarist/bassist Robbie Arnett and ask him a few questions about the group and where they are headed:

Write To The Beat: How did Milo Greene form?

Robbie: Andrew and I were in college together and we were playing with different bands so we collectively came up with someone to help us book shows and send out emails on behalf of our individual bands to sound a little bit more professional and that name was Milo Greene. Then I came up to LA and played with another band and Andrew went up to Sacramento and played and we stayed in touch and kept demos going and then when we started to really get going we went up there, recorded a bunch of music with Marlana, and Andrew, and they moved down here, got Graham and Curtis and that's where it all started.

WttB: Do you all share songwriting duties?

Robbie: Yeah definitely, the four of us singing up front are all songwriters, so we all just bring in ideas and flesh them out and work on the at home, sit by the computer and nerd out.

WttB: Who are your musical inspirations?

Robbie: I'm all over the place. It's hard to pin down. I like a lot of soul, old Nina Simone, and jazz singers, stuff like that. I like a lot of female vocalists. But I listen to some cheesy pop music and some cool rap and stuff like that.

WttB: What's next for you guys?

Robbie: We are going to be doing a couple shows in LA and releasing a 7" and then getting on the road.

April 29, 2011

Reviewed - Pinback

Royale, Boston, MA

Last night, one half of the Galley had the pleasure of catching Pinback's show at Royale in Boston, MA. Led by singer/guitarist Rob Crow and singer/bassist/keyboardist Armistead Burwell Smith IV, Pinback captivated the crowd for almost two hours with their soothing sounds. Based in San Diego, CA, the group has recently released a new EP titled Information Retrieved, Pt. A ahead of their upcoming full length, expected in 2012. Crow and the boys ran through a huge portion of their catalog on stage, playing hits and deep cuts off all of their four full lengths. They sounded amazing live and I would definitely recommend catching them live if you can. Also keep an eye out for Judgement Day, the opening band that put on a rousing show (and played an incredible game of "Violin Hero") with their violin-cello-drums version of classical metal.

Pinback-"Non Photo-Blue"

Pinback-"Good To Sea"

April 20, 2011

Reviewed - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA

Last week we had the pleasure of seeing Macklemore and Ryan Lewis perform at the Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA and they were INCREDIBLE. They put on one of the most lively, passionate, entertaining shows I have seen in my entire concert-going life. Macklemore raps with such passion and controls the audience with amazing stage presence. I was also able to sit down with them before the show and ask them a few questions. If you have the chance to see them live I would jump at the opportunity! You won't regret it!

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Interview

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-"Irish Celebration"

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-"The Town (Sabzi Remix)"

March 13, 2011

Reviewed - Zoë Keating

The Red Room, Berklee School Of Music, Boston

Friday night at the Red Room in Boston, we had the pleasure of catching a sold out performance of avant-garde cellist Zoë Keating. Keating uses a foot-controlled computer looping program to recreate her lush sound in a live setting. Her concise hour-long set was executed flawlessly, and with much concentration on the complex looping arrangements of her pieces. Keating is currently selling out almost all her live shows due to her desire to continue to play intimate venues. In this case, it paid off. The tiny room allowed her cello to fill the room with gorgeous harmonies. She ended her performance with an extraordinary rendition of the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony. If you are able to ever see her live, jump at the opportunity.

Zoe Keating-"Escape Artist"

Zoe Keating-"Sun Will Set"

March 07, 2011

Reviewed - Yellow Ostrich

The Middle East, Cambridge

We’ve told you about Alex Schaaf and Yellow Ostrich before. But last night at The Middle East, we had the wonderful opportunity to experience their music in a completely new way.
At many live performances, the material presented is very much like the recordings, just louder. In contrast, when Yellow Ostrich took the stage they brought an entirely new and fresh sound to an album we were already enthralled by. Accompanying Schaaf were his usual cohort Michael Tapper drumming and the wonderful and now permanent addition of Jon Natchez on bass and horns. (Side note: Natchez is a former member of Beirut….which means he has probably touched Zach Condon at some point!)
The drums, bass and horns propelled the band into a totally new arena musically. The sparse stylings on record were transformed into an amazingly full sound that provided all the makings for a stupendous performance. It was almost easy to forget the most intriguing and impressive part; Schaaf’s live vocal sampling. On many of the songs he would lay down two or three harmonies of himself before even beginning to sing the lyrics. (A good example can be found below.) No one does it quite like he does. Oh yeah, and he was barefoot the whole time. We really like this guy.
Apart from the material off The Mistress performed so vigorously, the boys also brought a few new songs including standout “Marathon Runner.” Unfortunately even Schaaf doesn’t know when they’ll record next, as he told us after the show.
Regardless, the unexpected power combined with the already familiar sweet, soaring, melodic sound of Yellow Ostrich made for a tremendous show. Catch them if you can!

Yellow Ostrich-"Libraries"