Last month, Tomberlin and Palehound had scheduled two shows at Baby’s All Right that I could not attend due to prior commitments (including shooting the Foals show at Terminal 5 for this blog). But fortunately for me, the second night ended up being postponed to the following month, and moved to a very lucky Friday the 13th, so I felt compelled to make it my first concert of 2023.
Ellen Kempner, who fronts Palehound, performed a lovely solo set on guitar, drawing upon the band’s three LPs including 2019’s excellent release, Black Friday. She also added a few new tracks to round out the set. With her playing alone and seated, I could really hear the pureness of her voice and I also found myself super impressed by her guitar playing. Before the show, I had a chance to speak with Ellen, and she mentioned that she had moved to Bushwick a year ago, so we look forward to seeing Palehound play our fine city more often.
The last time I saw Tomberlin perform was in August 2021, when she opened a show headlined by Lucy Dacus at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (photos and a review from that show by our editor-in-chief Kate Hoos can be seen here). This time, Sarah was accompanied by a full band—Frank Meadows (bass, keys), Adelyn Strei (guitar, backing vocals, flute, clarinet), and Greg Rutkin (drums), who filled out the sound nicely. This was my first time hearing songs from last year’s gorgeous album, i don’t know who needs to hear this…, performed live, which made me so glad I was able to be at this show. It was also wonderful to see Ellen from Palehound join Tomberlin on backing guitar for the last few songs of the main set, which culminated in the rocker, “happy accident.” Tomberlin took shredding on guitar to a whole new level during that last song, unfortunately bursting a blister on her finger. Blood flew everywhere! (Just kidding!)
Sadly, the band opted not to return to the stage for the planned two-song encore because of the injury, so “Natural Light” and “Seventeen” on the printed setlist below were not played. With all the beautiful music and emotion we were treated to for two hours that night, I think skipping the encore was a forgivable minor offense.
Friday night 12/16 saw the return of British rock band Foals to New York. The band hadn’t played our fine city since a pair of shows in April of 2019, so they were overdue for a visit, and the full house at Terminal 5 was hungry for them. Core members Yannis Philippakis on lead guitar and vocals, Jack Bevan on drums, and Jimmy Smith on rhythm guitar were joined by Kit Monteith, Jack Freeman, and Joe Price as tour mates.
Together Foals played a high energy setlist that spanned their entire catalog, including three tracks from their latest release, Life Is Yours, which was released a few months ago this year. Their setlist has been consistent during this tour, with a fantastic light show to accompany the carefully plotted progression of songs. Their blend of math rock, dance punk…whatever you want to call it…got the crowd bouncing, especially during fan favorites “My Number,” main set closer “Mountain at My Gates,” and my personal favorite, the ever anthemic “Spanish Sahara.”
After finishing up the current leg of this tour with stops in Boston and Portland, ME, over the weekend, the band will head back home to the UK before returning to America in July when they’ll be opening for Paramore on their 2023 tour.
Scroll down for setlist, fan shot videos, pics of the show (photo by Ellen Qbertplaya)
Setlist: INTRO, Wake Me Up, The Runner, 2001, Balloons, Olympic Airways, My Number, Black Gold, Birch Tree, 2am, In Degrees, Spanish Sahara, Red Socks Pugie, Providence, Snake Oil, Mountain at My Gates Encore: Inhaler, Two Steps, Twice
Baek Hwong aka NoSo played their first New York City show as a headliner, and their largest show to date as the headliner, on Tuesday night 10/15 at the Mercury Lounge. They were backed by Jade Fink on bass and Jessy Reed on drums. For their set, they played their debut LP, Stay Proud of Me, in its entirety, albeit with the songs in a different order.
NoSo is a terrific guitar player, and it was wonderful to witness their fingers fly over the strings so rhythmically and effortlessly. While their music is delicate and melodic, it is also subtle and precise. Look into the words deeply and you will feel the ache behind their personal lyrics, as well as moments of joy and tenderness. NoSo is unafraid to draw upon their experiences as a young Asian American person who has transitioned, and through their music, offers us a glimpse of what it’s like to be on that journey. They expressed how important it was for them to be out and clear about their identity, especially if it helps others feel seen.
I’m so happy I was able to catch NoSo in such an intimate setting with a very supportive and enthusiastic crowd, and they seemed really happy too.
Producer Kenny Beats returned to Central Park for a show to benefit SummerStage. He brought a varied lineup of friends for D.O.T.S. (“Don’t Overthink Shit”) live.
First up was Vicky Nguyen aka Vicky Farewell, a classically-trained pianist who now writes R&B and soul-tinged pop songs that she sings and plays on keys.
Next was the young trio julie, whose grungy, shoegazy, art rock reminded me a little of early Sonic Youth.
Charismatic British rapper slowthai then performed, even jumping down into the crowd for a song.
Another big draw, rapper Isaiah Rashad followed with an electrifying set.
Finally, Kenny Beats himself took to the stage with a fun DJ set that the crowd ate up. Two special unannounced guests also joined in on the fun. Mark Bowen of IDLES (whose album Crawler Beats produced) sang his take on Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” and rapper Smino did a song as well. Lastly, Beats thanked the crowd for supporting his work and ended with a track off his own album LOUIE.
Scroll down for fan shot videos and pics of the show (photos by Ellen Qbertplaya)
Haley Dahl and her band, Sloppy Jane, celebrated the release of their new album, Madison, with a stunning performance on Sunday night 11/7/21 at Baby’s All Right. Despite this show being my fifth time seeing the band live, I still didn’t know what to expect. While her music itself cannot be easily characterized and is thereby challenging and unpredictable, I find the live performance aspect of Sloppy Jane a whole different experience.
Initially, at the start of the set, upwards of a dozen musicians crammed onto the small stage at Baby’s before Dahl even entered the room, and when she finally did arrive, she served as conductor of the orchestra, with her back turned towards the audience. She assembled this diverse group of musicians and their instruments to create a blissful, deliberate cacophony that eventually gave way to her vocals and very physical performance.
Whenever I’ve seen Sloppy Jane live, I feel as though I’m on a carnival ride that takes me through all kinds of emotions. I feel giddy, exhilarated, melancholy, energized, and maybe even a little frightened. I have a deep appreciation for what Haley Dahl and her band put into their show. If you ever have the opportunity to witness Sloppy Jane live, go. I promise you won’t be bored. And check out the new album, it was recorded in an underground cave in West Virginia, for pete’s sake.
Philly band Godcaster opened the show and were a good match for Sloppy Jane, led by Justin Kolk on guitar and vocals, and Von Kolk on flute, guitar and vocals. They had a similar in-your-face abstract punk rock quality to their music that worked well.