This past Tuesday, British indie pop band Glass Animals headlined the Lena Horne Bandshell in Prospect Park for a sold-out show benefiting the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival series that happens every summer (except for last year, because, well, you know why).
Glass Animals is comprised of lead singer Dave Bayley, with bandmates Drew MacFarlane (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Edmund Irwin-Singer (bass, keyboards, backing vocals), and Joe Seaward (drums, percussion). They released their third album, Dreamland, just over a year ago, so by now, the audience was fully familiar with all the tracks and sang along at every opportunity. I totally loved the energy of Bayley, or Wavey Davey as he’s affectionately known, as he sang and bounced around the stage non-stop, pausing ever so slightly to occasionally pick up a guitar.
With the backdrop made to look like an old CRT computer monitor that displayed different graphics for each song, and various set pieces like neon signs, palm trees and even a diving board, at times I felt like I was watching a retro videogame of sorts with a really danceable, upbeat soundtrack. It was perhaps the most elaborate stage set up I’ve seen in a while, which was quite a treat for me to photograph.
While Glass Animals played a lot of songs from the latest LP, including the hugely popular closer “Heat Waves,” over half the setlist drew from older material. I have to admit I found myself shaking my butt during the second song “Life Itself” as I took photos in the pit. I imagine having such an involved lighting design and set means that there are a lot of cues that the crew has to work with, so there can’t really be much flexibility in what the band plays. The Brooklyn show was only the third stop of this tour, but it looks like there hasn’t been any departure from the setlist of songs played every night. I don’t think the fans really care about that sort of thing, however, as it looked like everyone had a good time and even continued the party afterwards as people departed the park. That must have thrilled the residents of Park Slope (haha). Even Wavey Davey declared it his favorite show ever.
Opening the show was artist binki, who appeared solo and rapped over pre-recorded tracks. He recently released an EP, Motor Function, via FADER. He also dropped some magic tricks in between songs.
My concert pal Hewitt recently sent me a link to a video on YouTube of the Mexican band Son Rompe Pera, who did an at home pandemic performance for radio station KEXP. After watching this video, I was fully entranced by their blend of traditional Latin cumbia sounds with a punk aesthetic, and loved their high level of energy. My Spanish comprehension is muy poco, but when music is so good, it doesn’t really matter whether you understand all the words. Last weekend, the guys headlined the Barbès in the Woods festival up in Massachusetts. They followed up the festival appearance with a mini-tour of New York City. Last Monday, they played on the rooftop of Our Wicked Lady, and then scheduled a bunch of shows for this weekend. Unfortunately, their show for the Lincoln Center Restart Stages program on Friday night was canceled due to inclement weather. But lucky for me, they played the backyard of a house in Bed-Stuy on Saturday night as presented by Amanda’s Productions and Invitro Collective.
What an intimate and casual way to experience Son Rompe Pera’s music! They played a 45 minute set while crammed onto a stage about the size of a Range Rover in the corner of this backyard that even had an above ground pool! Kacho Gama on marimba and Mongo Gama on marimba and guitar led the way, joined by a third brother, Murfy, on percussion, and with Ritchie Lopez on drums and Raul Albarrán on bass. Their music kept the crowd buzzing and moving and I highly recommend catching them live if you can, or at least go binge on a few of their videos, including the clips I took at this show which are posted below. I had so much fun attending this random gig.
For my first visit to Mercury Lounge in over two years (!), I caught a nice double dose of local indie rock goodness – Groupie followed by Cafuné. These two bands played the early show at the venue, which suited this old lady just fine, especially since it meant I could grab a hot pastrami sandwich for dinner afterwards at Katz’s Delicatessen a block away.
Groupie, who our editor-in-chief Kate saw last week at 18th Ward in Williamsburg, played just their second set of the pandemic. Founding member and lead vocalist Ashley Kossakowski on bass led the way, with Aaron Silberstein on drums, and newer members Devin McKnight (whose solo project Maneka I photographed a few weeks ago) on lead guitar and Theadora Curtis on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. They ripped through a quick set of songs from Groupie’s latest album, the great-sounding Ephemeral, which came out earlier this year. I especially liked the track “Daleko,” which was written in Polish and a nod to Kossakowski’s parents’ immigrant roots.
Next up was Cafuné, who celebrated the release of their debut album, Running, which was released just over a month ago. The band is the project of Sedona Schat (vocals/guitar) and Noah Yoo (lead guitar), and last night they were accompanied by Johnny Shankman on bass and David James on drums. While Running might technically be the group’s first album, and last night was their first show in 17 months, the crowd was amped up for Cafuné’s music. The setlist focused largely on the new songs, but the band snuck in a few older favorites – “Little Broken” and the closer, “Friction.”
It was great to be back at Mercury Lounge, seeing some good live music once again. Incredibly, my phone remembered the Wifi password and connected without a hitch. It felt like coming home.
Oceanator at Trans-Pecos (photo by Ellen Qbertplaya)
Teenage Halloween at Trans-Pecos (photo by Ellen Qbertplaya)
Maneka at Trans-Pecos (photo by Ellen Qbertplaya)
This past Saturday, the Ridgewood, Queens, venueTrans-Pecosserved as the setting for a stacked lineup ofOceanator,Teenage Halloween, andManeka. The show was originally supposed to happen at theCity Reliquaryin Williamsburg, but for reasons unknown to me, the event was relocated a few days before. Proof of Covid vaccination or of a recent negative test had to be shown prior to entry, but once inside, the venue proved to be a well-ventilated, comfortable setting, with many people retreating to the spacious backyard for fresh air in between sets.
Elise Okusami, who performs as Oceanator, led off the evening with a solo set. She released a great album last year –Things I Never Said onPolyvinyl, and was in the midst of a weekend full of gigs in New York. Her set included a nice cover of Elliott Smith’s “Say Yes.”
Next up was New Jersey power pop band Teenage Halloween, whose music I admit I had little knowledge of before Saturday, but by the end of their set, I was a fan. With vocals by lead singer/rhythm guitarist Luk Henderiks, lead guitar antics by Eli Frank, bass by Tricia Marshall, and drums by Peter Gargano, the band played a very spirited set that had me and the crowd bouncing from start to finish.
Rounding out the bunch was Devin McKnight’s project, Maneka. Joining him were Nicola Leel on bass, Jordyn Blakely on drums, and Elise Okusami from earlier in the evening on additional guitar and keyboard. McKnight sardonically described his music as a bunch of songs which were never going to be released. The group also did a blistering cover of Nirvana’s “Breed.”
Scroll down for pics of the show including set lists from Teenage Halloween and Maneka (photos by Ellen Qbertplaya).
The New Colossus Festival has been hosting free shows just outside 18th Ward Brewing in East Williamsburg almost every Sunday since mid-April. This past weekend, I was tied up for most of the afternoon, but I was able to get to the corner of Richardson St. and Debevoise Ave. right before headliner Shilpa Ray performed just her second show in post-pandemic times (the first one being the day before as part of the Holy Fang TELESTAR REUNION Festival).
She and her new line up played for about 45 minutes, including the incendiary track, “EMT Police and the Fire Department,” my favorite song from her last album, Door Girl. It was a wonderful way to end the weekend, catching Shilpa and her energetic set on a beautiful summer day and running into a few familiar faces.