Julian Casablancas + The Voidz at Chicago’s The Vic (11/18)

Julian Casablancas - voidz-roffman

Julian Casablancas – voidz-roffman

Photography by Phillip Roffman.

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz remain just as abrasive onstage as they do on record. Late Tuesday night, following agreeable sets by Cerebral Ballzy and Shabazz Palaces, the Strokes frontman’s scruffy, ragtag team of no-names* shuffled onstage at Chicago’s The Vic to roll out Tyranny track “Xerox”. It’s slotted ninth on the album, and for a good reason, as the hypnotic melody acts as a moment of respite between the lo-fi guitar wizardry of “Business Dog” and the conga rhythms of “Dare I Care”. As an opener, though, it’s a curious decision, but then again, this whole band, the entire album, and essentially everything about Casablancas this year is curious — even down to his demeanor. These days, the guy looks less like a boyish Lou Reed and more like a strung-out Todd Ianuzzi, whose denim vest and tattered, baggy jeans scream of better days in 1986. The thing is, he’s smiling.

That’s what makes these Voidz shows so intriguing. In the past, Casablancas has typically been a morose character onstage, speaking either sarcastically or not at all. Despite his microphone sounding like 808s-era Yeezy, little asides and jokes of his peppered a number of future Tyranny classics last night. He teased the audience at one point by saying they’d take things down a few notches, only to unleash the hyper-kinetic “River of Breaklights” off Phrazes for the Young. He eventually followed up on his promise, especially during an encore performance of “I’ll Try Anything Once”, which found him tickling his inner Pat Boone as he sang in harmony with his many adoring fans, some of whom camped out seven hours prior to catch a front row glimpse at their one-time rock ‘n’ roll hero. Actually, that’s a pretty bullshit, cynical thing to say…

Julian Casablancas

Julian Casablancas

Casablancas is a rock ‘n’ roll hero. His latest album might be affronting to those wishing they could hear more “11th Dimension” and less “Nintendo Blood”, but they said the same thing about Reed when he dished out Metal Machine Music back in 1975. No, Casablancas is making scrappy, eccentric post-punk that either evolves towards an assembly of noises or, if you’re lucky, tumbles into a chest of reluctant harmonies. It’s political, anti-consumerism, and, most of all, angry. For the first time in over a decade, the guy has an edge, and he does not give a shit if you’re with him or against him. But doesn’t he deserve that? Think about it: Casablancas stepped onto the scene with one of the greatest albums of all time — 2001’s Is This It, if you’re lost — and followed that up with another rare diamond. He never had a chance to test the stakes. He never struggled as the confused artist. That’s not to say there weren’t conflicts or hurdles with The Strokes; they were just a little safer than what he’s doing now.

And what exactly is that? Well, based on his supplemental song selections — “Ize of the World” off 2006’s First Impressions of Earth, the aforementioned “River of Brakelights” — Casablancas is finding solace in the chaos. Those two songs are far more focused and refined than anything off Tyranny, but they only corral the chaos. Broken down, each instrumental part is a testy, punchy slice of energy that bounces around with the cadence of an 11-year-old antsy with ADHD and a bottle of Squeezit. That’s pretty much how each song by The Voidz works conceptually; they’re just not as aligned. Yet there’s something beautiful and intriguing about that erroneous marriage, which might be what Casablancas gets off on these days. It’s not clean. They’re not perfect; instead, The Voidz thrive on existing on the fringe, an area that Casablancas can finally experience. If you’re a longtime fan, it’s probably the most exciting time to catch the guy since, well, 2003. Though, if you’re attempting to itch that early ’00s nostalgia, you’re trying your luck.

julian-casablancas-the-voidz-roffman-2

Let’s give credit where credit is due. There’s guitarist Jeramy “Beardo” Gritter, other guitarist Amir Yaghmai, bassist and synth player Jacob “Jake” Bercovici, the rather superb percussionist Alex Carapetis, and their trusty keyboardist, Jeff Kite. “If you actually listened during ‘Human Sadness’, you’d know they’re all capable musicians, Mike,” one might argue, and I’d agree 100%. That’s why I’d secretly love to hear them reined in some, as they all were on their “covers.” Though, that’d also negate pretty much everything that makes them The Voidz.

Setlist:
Xerox
Father Electricity
M.utually A.ssured D.estruction
Human Sadness
Where No Eagles Fly
Ize of the World (The Strokes cover)
Business Dog
Crunch Punch
River of Brakelights (Julian Casablancas song)
Nintendo Blood
Encore:
I’ll Try Anything Once (The Strokes cover)
Dare I Care

Watch: Alice In Chains – Layne Staley’s Last Show (7-3-96) (Full Concert)

Layne Thomas Staley (August 22, 1967 – April 5, 2002)was an American musician who served as the lead singer and co-songwriter of the rock band Alice in Chains, which he co-founded along with guitarist Jerry Cantrell in Seattle, Washington in 1987. Alice in Chains rose to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s. The band became known for his distinct vocal style, as well as the harmonized vocals between him and Cantrell. Staley was also a member of the supergroups Mad Season and Class of ’99. By mid-1996, Staley would be out of the public spotlight, never to perform live again. Staley also struggled throughout his adult life with depression and a severe drug addiction, culminating with his death on April 5, 2002.

Layne Staley playing with Alice in Chains at The Channel in Boston, MA. 27 November 1992 - Photo: Rex Aran Emrick

Layne Staley playing with Alice in Chains at The Channel in Boston, MA.
27 November 1992 –
Photo: Rex Aran Emrick

 

Alice in Chains released their debut album Facelift on August 21, 1990, shaping the band’s signature style. The second single, “Man in the Box”, with lyrics written by Staley, became a huge hit. “Man in the Box” is widely recognized for its distinctive “wordless opening melody, where Layne Staley’s peculiar, tensed-throat vocals are matched in unison with an effects-laden guitar” followed by “portentous lines like: ‘Jesus Christ/Deny your maker’ and ‘He who tries/Will be wasted’ with Cantrell’s drier, and less-urgent voice.”

Facelift has since been certified double platinum by the RIAA for sales of two million copies in the United States. The band toured in support of the album for two years before releasing the acoustic EP Sap in early 1992. In September 1992, Alice in Chains released Dirt. The critically acclaimed album, also the band’s most successful, debuted at number six on the Billboard 200, and was certified quadruple platinum. During the Dirt tour (in 1992), Layne saved Mike’s life after he had overdosed. The band did not tour in support of Dirt for very long, because of Staley’s drug addiction. While touring, Starr left the band for personal reasons and was replaced by Mike Inez.

In his last interview, given on December 20, 2001 roughly four months before his death, Staley admitted, “I know I’m near death, I did crack and heroin for years. I never wanted to end my life this way.” Staley’s physical appearance had become even worse than before: he had lost several teeth, his skin was sickly pale, and he was severely emaciated. In the same interview Staley spoke of the damage caused by his heroin addiction:

“I’m not using drugs to get high like many people think. I know I made a big mistake when I started using this shit. It’s a very difficult thing to explain. My liver is not functioning, and I’m throwing up all the time and shitting my pants. The pain is more than you can handle. It’s the worst pain in the world. Dope sick hurts the entire body.”

As far as published reports are concerned, such as Blender’s “We Left Him Alone”, close friends such as Matt Fox have said, “If no one heard from him for weeks, it wasn’t unusual.” Further in the article, reporter Pat Kearney provides a glimpse into Staley’s daily life and public routine:

“It appears that Staley’s last few weeks were typically empty. According to an employee of the Rainbow, a neighborhood bar close to Staley’s condo, the singer was a frequent patron, stopping by at least once a week. ‘He minded his own business,’ said the employee, who wished to remain anonymous. Staley would never buy anything to drink, the employee said, but would simply sit at a small table in the back corner of the bar and ‘nod off. We just left him alone’.”

Staley’s close friend Mark Lanegan had much of the same to say with respect to Staley’s isolation: “He didn’t speak to anybody as of late… It’s been a few months since I talked to him. But for us to not talk for a few months is par for the course.”

Cold’s song “The Day Seattle Died” (from the 2003 album, Year of the Spider) was an ode to Staley, as well as Kurt Cobain, who were both figureheads of the grunge movement. In addition, Staind featured a song called “Layne” in memory to the singer on the 2003 album, 14 Shades of Grey. Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam, also recorded a song eulogizing Staley, titled “4/20/02” (the day Vedder heard the news and subsequently wrote the song). The song featured only Vedder singing and playing the guitar in a ukulele-inspired tuning, and was released as a hidden track on Pearl Jam’s 2003 B-sides and rarities album, Lost Dogs, roughly four minutes and twenty seconds after the conclusion of the final listed song, “Bee Girl”. Eddie Vedder’s tone in the song “4/20/02” was very dark and heartbreaking considering that he was among one of Layne’s friends (as stated within the song for “lonesome friend”); One can hear how he truly felt about Layne Staley’s death in this song, not only aiming to other listeners to avoid ever “using” drugs, but he had also aimed this song to all of those “who sing just like [Layne]” (during the time when a lot of vocalists were aiming to imitate Layne Staley’s singing style) ending the song with the lines: “So sing just like him/f—ers/It won’t offend him/just me/Because he’s dead.”

Sources: Wikipedia

 

St. Vincent at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C.

Annie Clark at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C.

St. Vincent at 9:30 Club, March 1 & 2

Oh my! These two shows are among the top five best I’ve seen in my concert-going life! So good I went to see it twice! St. Vincent’ show is marriage of great songs played brilliantly and amazing visuals. You won’t see projections or pyrotechnics, simply Annie Clark in performance with simple lights, choreography and a single prop — a small set of stairs for Annie to climb and later slink down. Her movements were well thought out and didn’t feel superfluous, as a lot of choreography can feel. It was stunning and any moment could have been a fabulous still frame (I know, I took a few pictures, one of which you can see above). In the end it was the songs, the words, the guitar, the sounds and the place that made this ingrained forever as a truly memorable show.

Arctic Monkeys Storm Madison Square Garden In Biggest US Headline Show To Date

Arctic Monkeys@ Madison Square Garden, Feb 8

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Arctic Monkeys played the largest headline US show of their career to date last night (February 8) at Madison Square Garden in New York. Having already played there twice before, as support to the Black Keys in 2012, Alex Turner and co are now strangers to the 18,000 capacity venue – but this time they were the main event.

Supported by Deerhunter, Alex Turner and co took to the stage just about 9.15pm and played for an hour and a half. With a giant ‘A’ and ‘M’ made out of lights behind them, the four-piece – joined for large chunks of the evening by touring keyboardist Tom Rowley – began their set with ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, which recently topped the US Billboard chart, giving them their first US Number 1.

Also joining the band at points in their 20 song set was Turner’s Shadow Puppets bandmate Miles Kane, who made a cameo on ‘505’, the last song of the main set. He later returned in the group’s encore, taking part in a moody cover of The Beatles’ ‘All My Loving’, played to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s breakthrough appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Only two songs – ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ – were played from their debut album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’. There was however a smattering of tunes from their other records, including ‘Brianstorm’, ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, and ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ – the only song from 2011’s ‘Suck It And See’ to make an appearance.

After their Beatles cover, the Arctics finished the night with raucous renditions of ‘AM’ fan favourites ‘One For The Road’ and ‘R U Mine?’, bringing a spectacular end to a milestone evening in the band’s career.

Setlist: ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, ‘Brianstorm’, ‘Don’t Sit Down…’, ‘Snap Out of It’, ‘Crying Lightning’, ‘Old Yellow Bricks’, ‘Fireside’, ‘Knee Socks’, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’, ‘Arabella’, ‘Dancing Shoes’, ‘Pretty Visitors’, ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’, ‘Cornerstone’, ‘I Wanna Be Yours’, ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, ‘505’, ‘All My Loving’, ‘One for the Road’, ‘R U Mine?’.

Haim – Forever (w/ Este Crowd Surfing) – Koko – Live in London – May

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Pop act Haim played Koko in London on May 30 2013.  Este Haim decided to do a spot of crowdsurfing after the song”Forever” was done.  The goofy bassist came down for a spot of crowd surfing. Here are Haim performing “Forever,” with Alana Haim on keyboards and rhythm guitar, Danielle on lead guitar, Este on bass guitar and Dash Hutton on drums. The three Jewish sisters toured the UK this summer 2013.

Phoenix Rock The Legendary Apollo Theater NYC: Concert Review

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Phoenix Live @ The Apollo May 13, 2013 – Concert Review

The beloved French band delivered a magnificent set at the legendary Harlem venue to an intimate crowd.

When Phoenix released their sublime fourth album, the mischievously-titled Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, in 2009, things started to go a little crazy for the French four-piece. That release not only went gold in the States, but it also won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album the following January. When they played Madison Square Garden in New York that October, they were joined onstage by fellow Frenchmen Daft Punk. At Coachella this year, R&B crooner R. Kelly graced them with his presence. And on Monday night at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theatre, there were no such gimmicks — nor did the band need them.

Save for a secret gig at the start of April, that Madison Square Garden show was the last time they played New York — to a sold-out crowd of 18,000 or so people. This, then, was a rather more intimate affair, as the Apollo holds less than a tenth of that number.

A few weeks after the release of their long-awaited fifth album, Bankrupt!, and augmented to a six-piece for the evening, the result was a gig that was as captivating as it was energizing. More than that, it was an incredibly personal performance. Halfway through third song “Lisztomania” — one of the finest cuts from their breakthrough album — vocalist Thomas Mars hopped offstage and climbed into the audience. While the rest of the band continued on with slick conviction, Mars weaved his way through a sea of bodies noticeably shocked that the singer was right there. Mars, too, seemed somewhat in awe of his surroundings — while the Apollo is far from a huge venue, it’s certainly a magnificent one.

Indeed, the electro-rock/synth-pop band’s performance, as well as their effortlessly cool demeanor, matched the splendor of their surroundings every step of the way. Smoke, spotlights, strobes and a digitized backdrop created specific set pieces for each song, turning them into unique, mind-blowing audio-visual sensations that totally consumed the room.

Each song, from the impossibly catchy harmonies of opener “Entertainment”, through the charming grace of “The Real Thing” and old favorite “Long Distance Call” to the energetic zest of “Armistice” and the upbeat dance grooves of “SOS In Bel Air” totally consumed the room. The band didn’t just play these songs, but they ensured that the room became these songs, and that the songs became the room. There was no escape from the power — not that anybody wanted to escape. But beyond that, it was also a performance of invention and innovation. “Sunskrupt!” combined “Bankrupt!” and both parts of “Love Like A Sunset,” while “Too Young” and “Girlfriend” morphed into one song with a perfect precision.

Interestingly, although the majority of the night was full of fun, feverish energy, the highlight came in the form of something much quieter and contemplative. After ending the main set with a sublime, high-octane and raucous version of “1901”, Mars returned with guitarist Christian Mazzalai for a sparse, stripped down version of “Countdown”. Beautiful, melancholy and haunting in equal measure, Mars sat on the edge of the stage while he sang, the weight of the world hanging heavy on every word that left his mouth.

But there was no time to get wrapped up in the quiet sadness of the moment — as soon as the song was done, the rest of the band returned to the stage and  immediately launched into the frenzied, climatic one-two punch of “Don’t” and then “Rome.”  After a brief thank you, the reprise of “Entertainment” filled the room and Mars was back in the crowd again, up close and personal for one final farewell. The look of awe and incredulity on his face as he climbed across the seats and stared up at those on the balcony above him said it all — a truly majestic, memorable night by a group very much at the top of their game, it was clearly just as special for the band as it was for everybody watching.

Set List:

Entertainment
Lasso
Lisztomania
Long Distance Call
The Real Thing
S.O.S. In Bel Air
Fences
Sunskrupt!
Too Young+Girlfriend
Trying To Be Cool
Drakkar Noir
Chloroform
Armistice
1901
Countdown
Don’t
Rome

Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe Found NOT GUILTY

Randy Blythe is INNOCENT!

American musician Randy Blythe was found NOT GUILTY!

Randy Blythe found innocent of manslaughter

by RVANews staff

Update #28 — March 5, 2013; 8:32 AM

Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe was today acquitted of manslaughter by three judges in Prague. The charges relate to the death of fan following a 2010 Lamb of God show in the Czech Capital after that fan was allegedly pushed off the stage by Blythe (see below)

Judges deferred requests by the victim’s family for compensatory damages to civil court.

In the last day of the trial, biomechanics expert George Straus testified on behalf of the defense that victim Daniel Nosek couldn’t rotate his body 180 degrees and land on his head after being pushed from the stage, as the prosecution contends. Straus also testified that Nosek couldn’t have been pushed over the first row of spectators, but would have to actively jump over them on his own accord.

But in closing arguments, prosecutors reaffirmed their stance that Blythe was responsible for Nosek’s death and asked that judges sentence Blythe to five years in prison.

Nosek’s family is also seeking 10 million Czech korunas (roughly $500,000) in compensatory damages from Blythe.

Before the verdict, Blythe addressed the court.

“I still believe that I have acted reasonably to protect” myself, the band, and the audience, Blythe said. “If I am guilty, I will take it like a man. If I am released, [Lamb of God] will take such precautions” to ensure similar events never happen at concerts.

— ∮∮∮ —

Update #27 — March 5, 2013; 7:36 AM

The Gauntlet is reporting that Randy Blythe has been found not guilty. The band’s official twitter account also tweeted that their lead singer is now free:

Lamb Of God @Lambofgodband