On Friday, November 11th, Teke::Teke, the Montreal based Japanese band, performed their inaugural NYC show at Brooklyn’s Public Records, a relatively new mid-sized Gowanus venue. The venue is audiophiles dream, built to hi-fi specifications with an aesthetic reminiscent of a wood paneled listening room (in a good way). The room’s high-quality sound system was put to good use by the band, which consists of guitarists Serge Nakauchi Pelletier and Hidetaka Yoneyama, bass player Mishka Stein, drummer Ian Lettre, flutist Yuki Isami, trombone player Etienne Lebel, and vocalist Maya Kuroki, and whose music often defies categorization.
Teke::Teke is an international band in more ways than one, and though Montreal-based, the group pull influences from all over the world, and combine classical Japanese instrumentation and theatre (the show opened with a masked, Noh inspired, performance), surf-rock, psychedelia, middle-eastern guitar interplay, big band vigor, and even some doomier metal drones. On paper, this sounds like it would be a little chaotic, but it’s a credit to the band that they are able to pull these disparate sounds together on stage for a cohesive and riveting live show.
Each musician played their instrument masterfully, especially the wind instrument section which (which included a stunning bagpipe solo), and served the songs winding but interconnected themes. It was honestly a nice change of pace to see a group defy genre so deftly, in a Brooklyn scene which is saturated but mostly homogenized, and you should certainly catch the band live if at all possible.
Will Toledo is one of the sharpest and most emotionally affecting songwriters of his generation, full stop. It’s possible that he (and his band Car Seat Headrest) don’t receive the credit they’re due because his band performs loud (!) and he has taken to wearing a mask (reminiscent of Donnie Darko’s Frank The Bunny) on stage. It may be easy, but wrong, to dismiss his impressive live show (and the lights and mask) as a form of spectacle (they are awe-inspiring), but to do so would be missing the point.
I was lucky enough to attend and shoot Car Seat’s first of three sold-out shows at Brooklyn Steel on March 29th, 2022. Toledo and band performed a sharp set full of songs from 2020’s underrated Making A Door Less Open including “Weightlifters,” “Hollywood,” and “Can’t Cool Me Down,” but CSH also delved into songs off the excellent Teens of Denial and the re-released (and album I’m currently obsessed with) Twin Fantasy.
It’s clear that Toledo has graduated from the lo-fi bedroom recordings that broke him on Bandcamp, lead to his signing to Matador, and has inspired a devoted fandom (including Smashmouth). He’s both an inspired songwriter and poised to take over the role of stadium headliner with one of the finest live bands around. Also, credit to him, that with the bunny mask he’s the only other person other than Britney Spears to figure out how to make a headset mic look cool. Rising indie star Bartees Strange opened the show, returning to Brooklyn Steel after a string of opening dates for Lucy Dacus (see our photos/review here) saw him rock the venue last fall.
Claud played the last night of their Super Monster tour on March 28 to a packed house at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Writing wry (but never cynical), deeply self-aware and personal songs, Claud’s music feels penned with a specific person (or un-requited crush) in mind, but because their songs are so specific they feel lived in and universal.
Claud and their band took the stage, appropriately, to “Eye Of The Tiger” and played a number of songs off their latest record Super Monster including “Overnight,” “Gold,” “In Or In-Between” and closed the set with their hit “Soft Spot,” which has not left my heads since I saw them play it live.
While heartbreaking (but low-key very funny) the songs came alive on stage as performed by Claud’s tight, three piece band. The show was also proof that Claud has come a long way and outgrown the bedroom pop singer-songwriter genre, and is ready to take on stages the size of Music Hall or larger. The show also featured an opening set by Kali.
Scroll down for more pics of the show (photos by Emilio Herce)
Four tour stops in NYC, all immediately sold out. Two late night TV performances, most recently on Jimmy Fallon. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to make the case that Wet Leg, the UK duo and recent critical darlings, do not deserve their meteoric rise. An argument that has nothing to do, I’m sure, with the fact the band is fronted by two women who perform indie rock, a genre which notoriously male dominated.
I, myself, credit their rise to the lack of their brand of ebullient, funny, smart, and sardonic rock music in the indie scene. As much as I do love the slower, maybe morose is the wrong word, but definitely more muted and sorrowful stock of current indie darlings, there seems to be a fear of bpms over 160 and loud guitars run through a daisy chain of pedals. Wet Leg do not have any such fear, and they proved so at their sold out Brooklyn Steel show on March 10th.
The show was an upgrade from the 300 cap Baby’s All Right show were I had seen them last (read the review of that show here), to Brooklyn Steel’s 1800 (this show itself was moved from Music Hall of Williamsburg due to demand), and the band didn’t even break a sweat selling it out. Nor were they daunted by the large room which became part dance floor, part good natured mosh pit during their 15 song set which include all the tracks on their forthcoming self-titled debut album. Based on their trajectory I fully expect the band to sell out a couple nights at MSG upon their return, which again, they’d fully deserve!
It was a true joy to witness the return of Waxahatchee to New York City. Their last tour, in late 2021, found Katie Crutchfield and her band calling it after their show at Brooklyn’s Elsewhere (see pics from that show), after a member of their touring party came down with Covid. That show itself was memorable but the band’s stop on February 10th at Brooklyn Steel certainly felt like a victory lap.
Performing songs off her excellent 2020 album, Saint Cloud, Crutchfield, and her band played a confident and engaging set befitting the empathetic and open-hearted songs she writes. It felt like an appropriate time to revisit these songs, which evoke Spring and lilacs (reinforced by the band’s stage setup, festooned in flowers and vines) and is indebted (but never feels contrived) to Americana, folk, and the “three chords and the truth” approach of classic country. Highlights included “Oxbow,” “Can’t Do Much,” “St. Cloud” off her latest, as well as covers of Lucinda Williams’ “Fruits of My Labor” and Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” (which both appeared on the expanded edition of Saint Cloud). The performance was a stark reminder of Waxahatchee’s prowess both as a performer and songwriter, operating in a class with few peers.
Madi Diaz opened the show with a stirring, mostly solo, set of songs off her recent album History of a Feeling.