Bowery Ballroom

A NIGHT OH WONDER AT THE BOWERY BALLROOM
February 1, 2016 12:05 am

The Beasts were out last Friday night to witness the brilliance of our indie friends from across the pond; Oh Wonder, the highly acclaimed and widely talked about indie synth-pop act out of London. Opening the night was Pop Etc., a well respected pop indie outfit themselves, having toured with the likes of Broken Bells, Grizzly Bear, The Kooks and more.

Pop Etc. drew a “sophisticated” crowd of college types and future grad school students, yet their set expressed a sound rooted in punk anthems that have been deconstructed and reassembled as synth based pop songs. The show marked the debut and release date of their new album Souvenir. A high point in the set was a perfectly tempered version of the Tears For Fears classic “Mad World.”

By the time Oh Wonder took the stage, the ballroom was filled to capacity with a slightly older and more culturally hip crowd. Despite the tightly packed conditions, Oh Wonder’s music brought a lightness and fluidity to the crowd. The first song set the tone for a heartfelt night, fueled by the distinct energy that only New York City nightlife can provide. The songs touched upon the delicate emotions of love and navigating this world as a young adult.

Oh Wonder, fronted by Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht, created an impressive buzz in the music world over the past year by releasing one single every month beginning September of 2015. These releases eventually accumulated into their debut self-titled album, which they have since performed on tour internationally. The unorthodox independent release granted them the recognition of millions of listeners on Soundcloud and a contract with major label subsidiary Caroline Records. Even the grand master of pop music himself, Rick Rubin, proclaimed to be a devoted fan.

Despite the highly polished electric sound of the album, Oh Wonder’s live set translates really well acoustically and shows no doubt of true musicianship and aesthetic genius. Each song has been written, recorded and engineered by Anthony and Josephine themselves out of their London-based studio.

Their trans-continental tour picks back up in Europe, starting off in Paris on February 26th, along with plenty of North American shows beginning in May at Sasquatch! Music Festival. If you get a chance to see them live, don’t miss out on this rising act of genuine pop music, that is so full of wonder.

 

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers Soothe The Crowd
September 10, 2015 9:51 pm

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers first caught my attention when their video covering Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That” went viral 3 years ago. Who decided to record their impromptu jam sesh while driving?! Since then, I’ve been keeping up with their now famous “Van Sessions” which you can find on their YouTube channel. Aside from the unusual setting they decided to hold a jam session in, her impeccable tone and perfect harmonizing with the band members captured my heart, an easy task when you have their raw talent and acoustic sounds.

Nicki Bluhm

Surprisingly this was the first time I’d been to the Bowery Ballroom, despite the number of concerts I’ve been to all throughout the city. She seemed to attract a wide range of fans, mostly who were much older than me and didn’t seem like natives to the LES. The show was pretty calm with no one needing to desperately shove their way to the front row thankfully. She came out with a beautiful flowy white outfit that made her look like a cherub, especially with the iridescent lights shining from behind her. She hit every note perfectly, putting us all in a dreamy state with her soothing voice. Surrounding fans were getting into the groove, all eyes locked on Nicki. You could tell that the crowd appreciated her music deeply. They brought out the opening band, Andrew Combs towards the end of the show to join them during “Ooh Las Vegas” which made it quite the memorable evening, leaving me wanting to take a road trip to Las Vegas.

nicki bee

Ducktails: Matt Mondanile Does It Again
August 30, 2015 7:00 pm

Ducktails is not just the name of a precious cartoon from your childhood, but also the solo project of Real Estate’s Matt Mondanile with Luka Usmiani, Alex Craig and Samuel Franklin. Fans of Real Estate will definitely love this psychedelic pop group which bears great similarity to its predecessor, with dreamier and more experimental and progressive instrumentation. Ducktails is an Ivy League Real Estate- more intelligent and thought provoking, but with its roots in the same place.

duckta

 

On how the projects differ, Mondanile says “A lot of my work comes from looping various things in Ableton and then layering on top and creating many different loops and then choosing which parts these loops can be in the song. i.e. the verse , chorus , intro. Real Estate is much more traditional. Martin writes the bare bones of a song and then presents it to the band and I come up with guitar parts most of the time.”
The band’s latest album, St.Catherine debuted this July and highlights include the beautiful “Surreal Exposure” and dreamy “The Disney Afternoon.” Check them out in a city near you!

PRINZE GEORGE: HOTTEST BAND OF THE SUMMER
July 26, 2015 1:45 pm

Prinze George is definitely a band you are going to want to check out while you can still afford the tickets to see them. This electro-pop group had their debut show in New York merely a year ago and have already embarked on an ambitious tour playing with bands like Walk The Moon and at last month’s Firefly Festival. The band is currently on tour supporting Little Boots, and I got the chance to check them out at Bowery Ballroom.

Vocalist Naomi Almquist has a vocal presentation similar to one Lana Del Rey may have had two mental breakdowns and 200 cigarettes ago. Her voice has great depth and very apparent soul, but she doesn’t knock you down with it. Naomi has very powerful elements in her performance but what makes Prinze George so great is the balanced give and take between its very talented members. Keyboardist and bassist Kenny Grimm’s influence keeps the songs light with infectious melodies.

The band has a winning formula; unbeatable melodies, charisma, and clever, poetic lyricism. Their breakout single “Victor,” which has over a gazillion plays on SoundCloud, has received so many accolades in the indie music blogosphere it seems impossible to write about them without mentioning it. “Victor” really is a perfect song, unforgettable chorus and disco inspired drums.

Dressed all in white, each of the band members connect with each other and have incredible energy. Drummer Isabelle De Leon absolutely stole the show when she came out from behind the drums to play synth on the closing song of the set. Her energy and performance lifted the entire quality of the show. Her dance moves were so adorable they left the entire audience smiling from ear to ear. In addition to their musicality and songwriting prowess, Prinze George puts on an amazing show. The band taps in to something amazing, even greater than their inevitable indie-pop stardom.

Written by Alessandra Licul 

KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD IS A REAL BAND AND THEY ARE REAL COOL
June 24, 2015 3:22 pm

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, a band that originally started out as a self-admitted “joke”, came all the way from Melbourne, Australia to play New York City’s Bowery Ballroom this weekend. With a name like that, seven members, a harmonica and a jazz harp in their camp, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard does sound admittedly ridiculous, but their live show and musical repertory is anything but. The psychedelic-rock band is on their fifth album and played to a sold out room.

Organized chaos is the best way to describe the band’s set. Trippy visuals were projected on the background and perfectly supported their eclectic sound. Set highlights were “Hot Wax” off their last album Oddments, which has growly lizard-esque vocals and pounding bass, and “Cellophane”, which sent many audience members crowd surfing and moshing like mad-men (and women).

As is often the case with psychedelic music, it either clicks or it doesn’t. Not every band can be Yes or Jefferson Airplane, but King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard come close. Not to mention, they have the coolest merch I’ve seen.

Written by Alessandra Licul 

STOCKHOLM TO NYC: URBAN CONE RELEASES “POLAROID MEMORIES”
May 15, 2015 10:27 pm

Urban Cone is a band fresh out of Stockholm Sweden, and ABBA themselves would be proud of their latest electro pop release “Polaroid Memories”. The album is bright, fresh and authentic. Another Stockholm Native you may be familiar with (Tove Lo) does a feature on the track “Come Back To Me” and Urban Cone is even able to make “the saddest girl in Sweden” sound like she is dancing. Some stand-out tracks are “You Built Your House of Cards”, “Rocketman”, “We Are Skeletons” and “It’s Hard To Hate Someone You Love”.

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“You Built Your House of Cards” is basically “Fireflies” by Owl City, but all grown up. The lyrical sentiment expressed in “I want you to understand that this is over” and “you built your house out of cards” are very heavy and perfectly juxtaposed with the light and sparkly keyboard melody so the lyrics really have room to stand out.

“Rocketman” has a melody that will be stuck in your head for ages, much like the Elton John tune of the same title. This track really encapsulates the beauty of the album, because it is pop, makes you want to dance, has electronic instrumentation, yet avoids cliché.

I could show you the sky

Like a dream I will make it alive

I could show you the lights

Wish I could show you all this tonight

If I was the rocketman

This is the opening line of the song, and although it reads like a poem it is paired with an undeniably catchy melody.

“We are Skeletons” is out of the Matt & Kim camp of strong laser-beam esque keyboard with bombastic electronic drums under it. The track has a nebulous disco influence and it is easy to imagine the cast of “Girls” dancing away the night in a warehouse in Bushwick as this track plays. The boys of “Walk The Moon” would commend the song for its energy and forward-driving beat.

“It’s Hard To Hate Someone You Love” is the album’s down time and is a chilled-out hazy version of the energy and forward driving force we hear on the rest of the album. We see this dreamy shoe-gaze influence on the track “Never Gonna See You Again” as well, and the songs provide a bit of a respite from the highs of the album (“Never Gonna See You Again” sounds like Foster The People, but not boring). The lyrics on “It’s Hard To Hate Someone You Love” are quirky and relatable, while also retaining a poetic element.

All these folks that end up all alone

Do you want to be like them I said

Its so hard when you conceal your heart

I don’t want to lie to you I said

I don’t want to lie to you again baby

It’s hard to hate someone you love

Urban Cone 2MAIN_PhotoJohnArthur

Urban Cone’s new album is the perfect soundtrack for your summer, and we the Beasts can’t wait to catch them at Bowery Ballroom opening for The Griswolds in NYC on June 18th.

Written by Alessandra Licul