By Matt Paco
New Zealand rocker Ladyhawke may sing about Paris burning, but on Wednesday it was New York City that was on fire. At the headliner of the "Perez Hilton Presents" concert at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza, Ladyhawke was well-worth her witching-hour performance, featuring crowd-friendly renditions of "Back of the Van" and "My Delirium." Unfortunately, fellow co-headliner Ida Maria was a no-show because of illness. No matter. The two surprises Hilton pulled out of his sleeve certainly made up for it.
"I'm marveling that I was able to pull it off, because I've never put on a tour before," Hilton told MTV News. "The reason why I'm doing the tour, the reason I have a record label, the reason why I write about music on my Web site is because I think music lovers like sharing good music with other music lovers."
Hilton opened his show with pop-rocker Frankmusik, a synth-obsessive from London who instantly captured the crowd's attention with his energetic antics and catchy '80s-inspired tracks like "Gotta Boyfriend" and "Time Will Tell."
"I was lucky enough to be one of the people [Perez] brought over. It's really great for me, because it's my first time in the East Coast," said Frankmusik.
Last-minute surprise act Little Boots hit the stage sans her band mates (they were stuck across town) and performed solo with only a piano to accompany her. She thanked Hilton with a run through a haunting cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" and was followed by another surprise in Kat DeLuna, whose high-octane hip-swirling show made the walls sweat.
Self-proclaimed "filthy party band" Semi Precious Weapons killed it. "This is rock and roll — pull your f---ing tits out!" beckoned frontman Justin Tranter, who gave fierce face, body and voice to tracks like "Put a Diamond in It" and "Sticky With Champagne." Traipsing from the stage to the elevated platform and back and doing reverse pull-ups with the crowd below, Tranter summed up the evening: "This show proved two things tonight. One: rock and roll is not dead. Two: New York is not dead."
By Rya Backer
Battles, the twitchy math rock band whose 2007 debut Mirrored made huge waves among both the indie rock and dance communities, play exciting and inventive music with minimal vocals and song structure. So it was really no surprise that when I saw them Friday night (September 4) at New York's Terminal 5 for Warp20 — the birthday party for Warp Records, the English label and home to electronic pioneers like Broadcast, Aphex Twin and Anti-Pop Consortium — that they delivered an incredibly well-polished and curious gig. It was the first show the quartet had played in their native New York in over a year and their only North American show of 2009. They promised to debut new compositions at this very special show, and they delivered.
Early on in their set, Battles stuck to scorchers from their debut, like "Atlas," "Race: In," "Dance" and "Leyendecker," which played seamlessly into the night's standout, "Tonto." Read More...
The ink is dry on the schedules, the stages are built and the front doors have been thrown open on Golden Gate Park in San Francisco for the 2009 Outside Lands Festival. Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Black Eyed Peas, Jason Mraz, Tenacious D and dozens of others will cover the festival's seven stages for the next 72 hours. San Francisco in August is typically a cool, balmy time, but the story backstage as the weekend begins is the heat.
"This is the weather we tried to get away from," Silversun Pickups frontman Brian Aubert said (his band is from currently-sweltering Los Angeles). They sat down early with MTV News to talk about their never-ending tour, the Beatles and their plan to turn the backstage area of Outside Lands into a watery oasis.
"We're having a pool party later," joked bassist Nikki Monninger. Asked if they really rolled that VIP here in San Francisco, Aubert added, "We don't have a pool, but we're going to fill out trailer with water. We don't know how to climb in, though. It'll be more of a tidal wave than anything else."
(Check out more photos from the 2009 Outside Lands Festival, featuring Black Eyed Peas, Dave Matthews Band, Jason Mras and more!)
Pool parties aside, the band also spent some quality time getting psyched for their afternoon set, watching Autolux and talking about sharing a stage with Built to Spill. "Doug Martsch is the greatest," Aubert said. "It's sick that we're playing the same stage as he is." The band has been playing plenty of stages, as their current tour has kept them on the road for months — and will keep them there for plenty more. "We have time off in May of 2010," Aubert said. "I'm not trying to be funny. That's really our schedule." The band didn't show any signs of wear during their heavy, fuzz-heavy set later in the afternoon, and eventually, everybody stopped sweating.
Last night, I did something I never thought I would do: I left the office, took the subway to Madison Square Garden and showed my ticket to an usher so that I could be let into the Britney Spears concert, the second of her three Circus stops in New York this week. The idea was to get the perspective of somebody not used to big spectacles, and I walked away educated and confused but — ultimately — pleasantly surprised.
Not only had I never seen Britney Spears live, but I also have very little experience with giant pop shows or even arena acts. I've lived in New York for 10 years and have been to Madison Square Garden countless times for basketball games, but prior to last night the only concerts I had ever seen there were R.E.M., AC/DC and an ill-advised Barenaked Ladies show (that one was for a girl). Britney certainly blew away each of those groups (even the heavy-on-pyro AC/DC) with the spectacle that is the Circus tour.
(Click here for more photos from Britney Spears' wild summer!)
For the complete blow-by-blow, you should really check out Jocelyn Vena's full show report from Monday night as well as Jim Cantiello's reactions and highlights, but here are a few things that stood out to me.
» Britney Spears Knows Showmanship
Even during the best rock shows, there will always be a song or two that don't mean as much to you as the rest of them (there are always exceptions). Usually, that's the time to go back to the bar, hit the bathroom or text your friends about what a great show it is, but Britney gives you options. Not a big fan of "Piece of Me"? There are plenty of dancers to distract you. Can't stand "Ooh Ooh Baby"? No worries — magician and former "Saved by the Bell" cast member Ed Alonzo is here to perform some magic. Also, I was seriously impressed with how she covered all areas of the stage so that no corner of the arena could say they got any more or less Britney than anybody else.
» Britney Spears Is Adored
I've spent my entire life going to concerts and sporting events, but rarely have I heard the sort of sustained frenzy that I heard last night. Read More...
I popped my Britney Spears concert cherry last night at Madison Square Garden, and it was a one-night stand I won't regret.
"But Jim," you ask, "how the hell did a pop culture fanatic like you go 27 years without seeing Britney perform live?" I dunno. I guess I never had the urge to pony up the $8 million needed to catch a Britney show. (I kid. Ticket prices are less than that. Slightly.) Plus, I was never a diehard fan of Britney's music. Don't get me wrong: I always dug her as a pop culture force, and the hoopla around her and her career has been fascinating to me since day one. I just can't say I have ever purchased a Britney song on iTunes.
Not to mention that Britney has a reputation for not always singing live at her concerts. Why would I want to pay money to see someone lip-synch for two hours? I'll save my money for the next time Grizzly Bear is in town. Now that's a concert.
But given all the "She's back!" buzz surrounding the Circus tour, I jumped at the chance to check out her first of three nights at Madison Square Garden. "If I'm gonna see Britney, now's the time to do it," I told myself during another one-sided conversation. She's a total underdog that you can't stop rooting for, and I was curious to see if she's really "back."
Let me echo the sentiments of her fans, folks. Yep, she's baaaaaaack! And I had the time of my life at her concert.
Here are five more things that totally surprised me about the "Circus" tour.
» Jordin Sparks = Force To Be Reckoned With
Jordin Sparks debuted on the Circus tour last night, and she came out like she owned the place. The girl has more bona fide smash hits than some artists twice her age, and she flaunted each and every one of them during her tight opening set. MSG lit up with camera flashes the instant Ms. Sparks appeared on stage (wearing a sick-looking feather skirt) to sing "One Step at a Time." The crowd was less enthusiastic about the pair of newer album deep cuts she tossed into the set (girl's gotta sell her new record!), but once she finished with a one-two-three punch of "Battlefield," "Tattoo" and "No Air," the room was bouncing and singing in unison. It didn't hurt that Sparks sounded spectacular live, even with her ear monitor flying off two songs in. She is a fantastic addition to the Circus tour.
» Just Because You Have No Legs Doesn't Mean You Can't Jump On A Trampoline Read More...
Believe it or not, I have never seen Britney Spears in concert. Sure, I have seen the Backstreet Boys and even begrudgingly saw 'NSYNC, but I have never, ever seen the pop princess herself live on stage dancing and singing her way through some of her most classic and choice tunes.
So in order to prepare myself for the show tonight at Madison Square Garden, I asked some of my work colleagues here at MTV News who had the chance to see her on her "Circus" tour the first time around what they think I should expect from the show. Each of them gave me some interesting tidbits of information.
Ashley Mastronardi, who attended the show in Pittsburgh in March, told me, "Britney looks great, but she is not at her 'Slave 4 U' peak (she doesn't dance as much as she has in the past). But this show proves what a star she is because although her dancers pick her up a lot and wheel her across the stage, the audience still went crazy for her. Her star power really shines through."
James Montgomery, who loves to keep his advice short and sweet (which is ironic because in real life he is neither short nor sweet) had the lucky chance to see her on her opening night in March in New Orleans: "Three words: "Expect the gays."
By Jett Wells
If you want to know how well a Girl Talk show went, you need only ask when it fell apart. Sunday's (August 23) show peaked early. By the time mash-up phenom Greg Gillis launched into his third song, the crowd had already trampled the barricade and ransacked the stage at the Williamsburg Waterfront.
From every vantage point, there were flailing body parts, sweat-drenched faces and tumbling body surfers. After hours of shoving, pushing, jumping, air-humping and fist-pumping, the crowd screamed and let out a huge breath of air and walked their limp bodies home in the rain.
Even though his live show is little more than a dude from Pittsburgh with a laptop, Gillis' intensity is undeniable. He started the concert dry-headed and wearing a sweatshirt, but by the end of the set he was half-naked and completely soaked in his own sweat. By then, Gillis was just another dude in the crowd, as the audience had long since rushed the stage to join the party next to Gillis. Halfway through the set, the music stopped suddenly because the crowd had pulled out some cords. 10 minutes later, the music stopped again because the stage was falling apart from all the weight of the dancing fans.
"You guys broke the stage!" Gillis yelled.
Perhaps the most overlooked virtue about Girl Talk concerts is that his mash-ups are always different. Most of the samples are the same, but the combination constantly changes and he's always adding new ideas. On Sunday, Gillis dipped into new hits like Drake's "Best I Ever Had" and Lady Gaga's "LoveGame."
Though the show ended with violent dancing and rain, everybody still walked away smiling. Such is Gillis' trick: He plays songs you already know in a no-frills setting, and somehow he remains transcendent.
Over the weekend, around 80 bands descended on two different locations in England for this year's V Festival, one of the U.K.'s biggest annual musical traditions. Oasis were supposed to headline the closing night, but singer Liam Gallagher caught a case of viral laryngitis and couldn't perform. (Snow Patrol filled in for the band in the top slot, covering "Wonderwall" and "Champagne Supernova" in honor of their absent colleagues.) But the weekend really belonged to the ladies, as Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and the always-fashion-forward Lady Gaga turned in crowd-pleasing sets.
(Click here for more photos from V Fest, including shots of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and more!)
The Killers, MGMT and Lily Allen also turned in memorable sets, but perhaps the weekend's biggest surprise came during the performance by the Specials. In the middle of their set, the veteran ska band brought out a very special guest to join them on two songs: Amy Winehouse. In her first U.K. performance in over a year, Winehouse backed the band up on "Ghost Town" and "You're Wondering Now" before ducking back out again. That wasn't the only appearance she made during the weekend, as she also introduced fellow British tabloid regular Pete Doherty before his set on Saturday. Though she wasn't necessarily in top form with the Specials, her performance was a far cry from her appearance at last year's V Fest (where she was roundly heckled) or her attempt at a comeback earlier this year in St. Lucia (where she cut off her set six songs in because of "technical difficulties"). The festival season is coming to a close both here and abroad, which is why MTV News will be getting our last licks in this weekend in San Francisco at the Outside Lands Festival.
When Trent Reznor announced that he would be retiring Nine Inch Nails after a brief tour at the end of this summer, all he promised were beefed up setlists and "a few surprises." After the first two shows in New York — one each at the tiny Bowery Ballroom and the slightly less tiny Webster Hall — it's clear that Reznor wasn't kidding. After pulling out a few rarities at Saturday night's show (including the band's rarely-played cover of Joy Division's "Dead Souls"), the Nine Inch Nails frontman satisfied what appeared to be a long-held desire in front of about 1,400 diehards: He played his 1994 album The Downward Spiral in its entirety on Sunday night (August 23).
Though Reznor's debut Pretty Hate Machine had gotten him the initial attention he deserved, The Downward Spiral made him a star. That's pretty odd considering that record is an incredibly dense, harsh and at times violent descent into Reznor's warped mind. But the difficulty didn't stop it from becoming one of the best written-about and most beloved albums of the 1990s. To some people, it's simply the album that contained one of the dirtiest hit singles in history ("Closer," with its chorus of "I want to f--- you like an animal"), but to the fans who helped sell out Reznor's entire "Wave Goodbye" tour in minutes, it's a definitive statement from a brilliant artist.
Reznor and his able band plowed through the 14 tracks that make up The Downward Spiral with savagery and grace. The opener "Mr. Self Destruct" provided an initial jolt of adrenaline, but then the jazzy "Piggy" slowed things down. Following the one-two punch of "Heresy" (chorus: "God is dead and no one cares") and "March of the Pigs" and the crowd collectively realized what was happening, even the densest keyboard meandering (which makes up some of The Downward Spiral's latter half) was met with love and awe.
By Ben Hockin
Taking Back Sunday supported the launch of D*Coded, a new clothing brand for boys, by having a free show at Macy's Herald Square in New York City yesterday. The middle of the children's floor in a department store isn't necessarily the most logical spot for a rock show, but the five men from TBS made it work. Fans were packed between racks of brand-named clothing to see their favorite band play a seven-song acoustic set while tourists and shoppers were walking by with confused faces wondering how they were ever going to get to the Rocawear T-shirts on the other side of the stage.
The group opened with "New Again" and followed that with "A Decade Under the Influence." The band likes to toss in the Beyoncé lyric, "If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it" at the end of the latter tune, and they revealed that their performance at Bamboozle was recorded and is ready to become a live album — just as long as they can clear the use of the lyric with her people. "It's not like you can just call Beyoncé on her cell phone," lead singer Adam Lazzara told the crowd.
A few songs later, TBS brought down the store with their latest single "Sink Into Me." They then proceeded to have a small and spontaneous question and answer session with the crowd, where they discussed baseball, encouraged everybody to go to church and even gave away a guitar pick to a fan.
After the show, the band took photos and signed autographs with the first 100 fans that bought a D*Coded product. D*Coded is a new clothing brand designed by Maria Hartley, for boys, and was "inspired by popular music, surf, skate, and the emerging active sport culture." You can find D*Coded apparel by looking for their skateboard and skull logo or at any Macy's and Nordstrom's across the country.