I can't lie: I went into Friday night's Wilco show at the Aronoff Theater in Cincinnati thinking that it might be the last time I saw the band. See, I've been following leader Jeff Tweedy and his rotating cast of band members for nearly 15 years — ever since I saw Tweedy play some of the early Wilco material solo acoustic in 1995 at Lounge Ax, the now-shuttered Chicago rock bar co-owned by his wife. I loved every twist and turn of their musical journey, from the countrypolitan sound of their 1995 debut A.M. through the power-pop evolution of the two-disc Being There, the urban poetry of Summerteeth and the experimental genius of 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
And then, well, I began to lose the thread a bit. I liked 2004's A Ghost is Born all right, but by 2007's Sky Blue Sky it felt like the band had zigged into a direction I wasn't that into: a kind of A.M. radio, slightly Grateful Dead-like riffola that just wasn't my thing. The last time I saw the group, it felt at times like I had slipped into a Dark Star Orchestra show by mistake. I had never missed one of their tour cycles before, but I skipped out the previous time they came through town.
I learned the error of my ways on Friday night, when the group — which at this point has maintained its most consistent line-up since formation — won me all the way back over and then some with a set that made me immediately go back to Ghost and Sky and give them another try.
Unwrapping a handful of tunes from their new self-titled album, the band straight-up killed it, playing to a packed house of 2,700 who sang along to nearly every lyric and jam danced (I'm looking at you, dude in the balcony box seat) as if the ghost of Jerry Garcia himself was on stage.
CINCINNATI — At some point during Coldplay's nearly two-hour show at the Riverbend Amphitheater last night, I had a dream. It went something like this: I was walking around the luxurious London flat that is home to singer Chris Martin and his wife, Gwyneth Paltrow, and while flipping through the various yoga journals, costume-fabric swatch samples and discarded baby-name books piled on the couple's nightstands, I spotted a most unusual binder.
On the cover were the words "Rock Star Stage Materials Inc.," and it was stuffed with page after page of every cool, whiz-bang thing a world-beating superstar could want for his band's tour. And then I woke up and realized that, economic downturn be damned, Martin had totally folded down just about every page in the catalog for the Viva la Vida outing. Coldplay have never shied away from admitting they are going for the big brass rock ring owned by U2, and their live show on this tour is definitive proof.
While drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman appear to have mostly abandoned the album's signature Civil War-meets-Sgt. Pepper's ragbag uniforms, Martin and his "best friend" (he said it at least twice), guitarist Jonny Buckland, were still rocking the candy-colored striped jackets as the band marched out onstage waving giant sparklers to start the show.
I've written about Busta Rhymes shows in the past. You've read my praise of his and Spliff Star's showmanship time and time again. I always throw in there that he's one of the greatest, if not the greatest, pure live performer in hip-hop ever.
The energy doesn't stop. They make you jump, scream, dance ... everything a commanding MC is supposed to do. The greatest thing about Mr. Rhymes and Street Colonel Spliff (please don't forget Spliff when you talk about a Bus stage show — Spliff is more than a hype man) is that no two shows are the same. They switch it up every time I seen them. Every single time? Amazing. So often I've gone to rap concerts where I can tell you what the rapper is going to do before his own DJ can. They don't switch formats. But Bus? True MC. He changes the show up.
Last night in Manhattan, at Santos Party House, we all had a ball: Bus, Spliff, me and all the fans. Read More...
CINCINNATI — There's something bittersweet about watching something you thought of as a secret leaking out into the real world. Nashville's Kings of Leon haven't been a secret for a long time. The three brawling, skirt-chasing brothers and their guitarist cousin have been making marble-mouthed, sex-drenched arena rock for way longer than they've actually been playing arenas.
Well, in the U.S., anyway. European audiences, and specifically British audiences, long ago fell for the quartet's uniquely sleazy/sexy allure, and they've been playing major venues and huge festivals overseas for years.
But now, thanks to a hit single with the provocative "Sex on Fire" (a song my wife refers to as "the more obvious" version of the bleary-eyed erotic poetry found in an earlier song, "Soft"), Kings of Leon are playing their first arena tour on these shores. The show rolled into the PNC Pavilion on Monday night — for the first sellout in the 4,100-seat venue's one-year history — and while the preacher's kids put on a hard-driving, sweaty, 80-minute Southern-rock clinic, for me, something had changed. Read More...
NEW YORK — It could be said (and probably has been) that paying to see electronic music performed is like paying to see someone hit play on their iPod. That view, however, would miss out on the sensory assault that a crowd of heaving, sweaty bodies surged and swayed to on Saturday night at New York's Webster Hall.
In advance of the release of their fourth full album, Divided by Night, electronica veterans The Crystal Method brought their laptops and keyboards and sample pads to town for a pulsing, perspiration-inducing set.
By Jenna Talavera
With hit singles on the radio and new album releases approaching, Atlantic Records artists Trey Songz, Pleasure P and Young Steff showcased their talent at New York's Joe's Pub Wednesday night for Vibe magazine's VSessions LIVE! concert series.
R&B singer Songz, dressed in a black dress shirt and pants with a white blazer, opened his set with "Can't Help But Wait," from his last album, Trey Day. He went further back to his debut album for "Gotta Go," only to fast forward and sample "Brand New" off his upcoming LP Ready, scheduled to be released in June. Songz rocked the venue and connected with the crowd through his voice and charming personality. He was so into the performance, he had to take off his blazer before bringing down the house with his new single, "I Need a Girl," which received a standing ovation and request for an encore.
By Matt Wenzel
Last night, Flight of the Conchords — "New Zealand's fourth most popular folk-comedy duo" — played their first of two shows at New York's Radio City Music Hall.
If you've ever seen their TV show on HBO, you would know that Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement only have one fan, Mel, played by actress Kristen Schaal. Schaal opened for the Conchords, performing an interesting mix of stand-up comedy and short one-woman plays.
For those of you more familiar with their TV show than their live performances, I would like to point out one major difference between the real Conchords and the TV Conchords. On the show, besides the surreal music videos that occur once or twice an episode, the duo are portrayed as struggling artists with little real musical skill. When they perform at venues on the show, there are very few people in attendance, and they usually sing the line, "Who likes to rock the party? We like to rock the party!" over and over.
By Talia Manzo
Britney Spears' Circus Tour has been packing arenas all across the country for almost a month now, and judging by fans' reactions, it's a roaring success. I remember the first time I ever heard her name. My father had bought me tickets to 'NSYNC's first tour (the one with the super-cool space suits!) and when he asked who was opening, I replied, "Some girl, something Spears, never heard of her." Little did we know what she'd turn out to be!
However, there are actually a lot of similarities between that show and this one. The first time I saw her she was decked out in a shiny pleather outfit with blinding glitter and synchronized dancers swarming around her — and a lot of moments on the Circus tour are basically like that, but let's just say it's not really a PG-rated show anymore!
In this clip, she performs her hit "Piece of Me" while vamping around inside a golden cage. Her black dominatrix outfit perfectly suits the song's attitude, and as she hits the lyrics "They're still gonna put pictures of my derriere in the magazine …" let's just say there's no question which part of her body she's talking about!
Anyhow, no one does it quite like Britney, and I think this tour proves that no one ever will.
By Kathleen Newman-Bremang
That's it — I'm never going to another party where ?uestlove isn't spinning. Yes, the Roots figurehead was that good DJing last night at Le Poisson Rouge in New York. If you missed it, don't fret — this week marked the first of many Thursday-night shows ?uestlove will be headlining at the venue.
The thing is, though, it wasn't even about the amazing rap/jazz mash-ups or the classic hip-hop songs blaring from the sound system — it was about the energy. ?uest was headbanging and feeling the music just as much as the rest of us on the dance floor. The The 'fro-sporting drummer seemed to switch between an introspective and focused music lover to a giddy kid playing on his iTunes, rocking out with the rest of us. There was just something about looking up and seeing the legendary drummer bobbing along to the beat — I'm telling you, it made the best songs even better.
So what songs did ?uest decide to bust out during his long-running set? Well, let's just say he kicked it old school.
A weekend replete with Fleetwood Mac was exactly what I needed to detox from the wrangles and chaos that was MTV Spring Break 2009. Sure, I may have spent a full month's salary on my ticket, but it was worth every penny. I've fallen in love with indie-pop bands over the years like the Knife and Animal Collective, and recently I've fallen in a type of lust for hip-hop artists like Drake, Lil Wayne and Charles Hamilton, but my heart undoubtedly beats steady and strong for the classic rock I grew up with — specifically, Fleetwood Mac.
I've spent hours watching the video for "Silver Springs" from the Dance Tour, and I am obsessed with any DJ that mixes Fleetwood Mac along with the more "club-worthy" sounds of Kanye, Lady Gaga, Crystal Castles ... you get the picture. So, when I found out that Stevie, Lindsey, John and Mick (Christine McVie seldom performs with the band, except for an occasional U.K. appearance) were doing a Hits Tour, I dropped everything and bought tickets to two of their shows in the NY area.