This past weekend, Love and Rockets made their long-awaited return to NYC’s Kings Theater after a 24-year absence. The group, made up of Daniel Ash on guitars and vocals, David J on bass and vocals, and Kevin Haskins on drums, have embarked on what they’re saying is their final tour as Love and Rockets and if so, it will go down as one of the best reunion tours in history. They sound great, the songs still hit decades later, and the stage production made for some eye-popping visuals.
They kicked off the night with the atmospheric “‘I Feel Speed,” the stage a smoky landscape with both Ash and J silhouetted by spotlights shone through the unlit concentric circles of LED lights behind them. From there they kicked into an amped up version of “No Big Deal” as the stage lit up and both band and audience alike showed they were there to rock. Especially when they went straight into the rollicking “Kundalini Express” with its sing-along “Doot Doo!” that could be heard across Kings Theater.
The former Bauhaus members at times could be found in the smoky, hazy silhouettes that opened the night, but this was no goth show. Love and Rockets bring a more 60’s psychedelic sound and the visuals projected on the huge screen behind them would be welcome to any number of current psych bands on tour. The ever-changing colors emitted from the circles that were the backdrop to each member added the overall effect, especially in tracks like “Judgement Day,” “The Light” and “No New Tale to Tell.” Their biggest US hit, 1989’s “So Alive,” came mid-set with its video as the backdrop and was followed by the band’s own deep cut choice, “Deep Deep Down.”
Of course, there were the trademark visuals of their early albums with their red, black, and white artwork that were on random display for early tracks like “Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man)” as well “Holiday on the Moon,” and “Love Me” which were played during the first of two encores which also included ‘”Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today).” They closed the night with the title track of their 1996 album, Sweet F.A. which seemed like the perfect night cap for this triumphant return. Hopefully they rethink this being the end of the road and make a go of it again in the future—NYC will be ready for them if they do.
Opening the night was the terrific multi-disciplinary, Vinsantos DeFonte. Part cabaret, part Liberace torch bearer, part stand-up comedian, and all heart. Behind the make-up and the fashion and the jokes lies a gifted singer-songwriter and pianist telling his tales of growing up and dealing with bullying and abuse. But he’s also quick to remind those listening that it does get better and remind them that he’s the one on stage, in the spotlight, sharing his gift of song, and not them. Truly a special performance.
Scroll down for setlist, pics of the show (photos by Kevin McGann)
Setlist: I Feel Speed, No Big Deal, Kundalini Express, The Dog-End of a Day Gone By, Judgement Day, Haunted When the Minutes Drag, An American Dream, No New Tale to Tell, So Alive, Deep Deep Down, My Dark Twin, The Light, Mirror People, Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man) Encore: Holiday On The Moon, Love Me, Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today) (Temptations cover) Encore Two: Sweet F.A.
This past weekend, Fenne Lily and Christian Lee Hutson brought their co-headlining tour to Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. The two have worked together before, including their recent cover of the Go-Go’s “Vacation” that preceded the tour kickoff.
First up was LA native Hutson who released his critically acclaimed fourth album Quitters (Anti-) in 2022. His set was a mix of heartfelt songs, sung in an almost whisper-like vocal styling, along with hysterical stage banter and self-deprecation. One minute Hutson could be standing silent and still behind his mic and the next, down on the ground jamming with bassist, Kaylee Stenberg. And while his lyrics can certainly tug at your heartstrings, he could then follow up with a story that would make you almost cry laughing. That’s not an easy feat yet Hutson manages to do just that. And judging by the silence during the quieter moments of his set, the audience understood and appreciated what he was conveying.
Next up was British born but now NYC-based singer-songwriter Lily who hit the road to support her third album, Big Picture (Dead Oceans), which was released in April. It’s a beautiful album that deals with heartbreak and working through it, and songs like “Dawncolored Horse,” “Map of Japan,” and “Red Deer Day” fit nicely with her previous work. Other highlights included “Birthday” and “I Used to Hate My Body But Now I Just Hate You” from her 2020 album, Breach. Joining Lily for the show were Work Wife’s Meredith Lampe and Isaac Stalling, both of whom toured with Hutson and Lily in May, and Hutson himself who joined for a few songs. And pulling double duty was Stenberg who played bass for both sets. It was like one big family affair between like-minded musicians who share a knack for sad songs and big laughs in between them.
Opening the night was Texas’ Why Bonnie who are touring in support of their wonderful 2022 debut album, 90 in November (Keeled Scales). Lead singer-songwriter Blair Howerton relocated to Brooklyn around the time of the pandemic and while the album was mostly written in NYC, the themes are rooted in her Texas upbringing. Their set was a fun lively affair, even when the subject matter wasn’t and found Howerton looking back at small town life. And while it can be introspective, even melancholy, it’s never with despair. More a journal entry on a fun cross country road trip, which I imagine is exactly the point.
Last week, NYC based June McDoom treated those of us at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right to her unique brand of singer-songwriter folk musings three different ways: as a solo artist, backed by a band, and then backed by a string ensemble. It was a beautiful night of music to celebrate the equally beautiful clear with green high-melt colored vinyl release of her stunning 2022 self-titled EP.
While “folk” and “singer-songwriter” are terms often used to describe McDoom’s music, they also feel too limited in their description. There are so many elements to her music that reveal themselves through repeated listening. From the dreamy indie pop of “Babe, You Light Me Up,” the spacey atmospheric sounds of “Piano Song,” and the haunting beauty of “By June,” there’s a deceptive complexity to her songs. Hearing them fleshed out by both band and strings really highlighted just how good a writer McDoom is. And her performance last Tuesday was just as gentle and nuanced as you find on her EP.
Opening the night was Miami’s Seafoam Walls. Well rather, half of Seafoam Walls. It was a stripped-down version of the band featuring its founder, Jayan Bertrand, and guitarist Dion Kerr playing an intimate set of Wall’s signature Caribbean Jazzgaze sound. While the layered sounds and beats from their 2021 debut, XVI (Daydream Library Series) create this beautiful landscape, it was nice to hear and appreciate these songs in a totally different way.
After a decade plus long absence, The Hives made their return to NYC on Tuesday night for a jam-packed hour of greatest hits from their catalog. But fans were also treated to some new cuts from their highly anticipated new album, The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, due this August.
There was something so immediate about this show—no opener, no frills, just an all-out frenzy of a performance from a group of (now) music veterans who were reveling in the spotlight. Front man Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist was all cocky swagger, reminding the crowd that while it had been 11 years, they hadn’t aged one bit and that they were trapped “in young sexy bodies.” Of course, comments like that all came with a wink and a smile before tearing into the next song, leaping off the drum kit or diving into the audience.
Once Almqvist and his brother/lead guitarist Nicholaus started diving into the crowd, it was utter mayhem on the floor. Everyone rushing in to carry them or capture them or even just get an up-close glance. And when all five members were on stage, the lights would occasionally be killed to reveal their glow in the dark lightning bolt suits and of course, their classic stage freeze. They packed so much into a one hour set that I’m guessing their upcoming show at Brooklyn Steel (October 30, 2023) will sell out in under a minute from fans clamoring for more.
All the usual hits were present, from “Hate to Say I Told You So” and “Walk Idiot Walk,” to “Main Offender” and “Go Right Ahead.” The new tracks fit in nicely and included “Bogus Operandi,” “Stick Up,” and “Rigor Mortis Radio.” For the encore, we were treated to the one-two punch of “Come On!” and closer “Tick Tick Boom.” We were even treated to an impromptu Happy Birthday song to one fan who made it on the stage before the final tick-tick-boom of an explosive set. Definitely one for the books.
Scroll down for setlist, fan shot videos, pics of the show (photos by Kevin McGann)
Setlist: Bogus Operandi, Main Offender, Walk Idiot Walk, Rigor Mortis Radio, Good Samaritan, Go Right Ahead, Stick Up, Hate to Say I Told You So, Trapdoor Solution, I’m Alive, Countdown to Shutdown Encore: Come On!, Tick Tick Boom
Olivia Jean rocked NYC’s Mercury Lounge last week in support of her latest full-length, Raving Ghost (Third Man Records) that was released on May 5th. Her third solo album, it continues and builds on the sound Jean has developed as a solo artist as well as her work with The Black Belles, that perfect marriage of garage, goth, surf, and punk rock that she first started writing and recording back in her Detroit days and later perfected in Nashville.
Whether by design or pure coincidence, Mercury Lounge set the tone with all red lighting to kick off the show which added to the goth rock feel with Jean’s trademark bouffant in silhouette. From the first strum of set opener “Ditch” from Ghost, with its surf tones and B-52’s reminiscent keyboards, the band was in full swing. From there they rocked through a set that revisited older hits like “Shut Your Mouth,” “The Wrong Door” (The Black Belles), “Green Honeycreeper,” and “Rhinestone.” And of course, new songs like “Spider,” title track ‘Raving Ghost,” “Trouble,” and a rocking cover of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow.”
Backed by a tight band, Jean was having a great time whether feeding off the bass lines and beats or off shredding on her own. Despite some sound glitches that persisted throughout the first half of the set, she never lost her cool and rolled with the punches. I’m sure having an NYC crowd that was all in and there to rock didn’t hurt, and by mid-set the sound was solid and they really let loose.
With the album out less than two weeks and the tour just getting underway, I’m hoping there will be more chances to catch Jean and crew in the NY tri-state area. And if this show rolls into your town make sure to grab a ticket, and check out Raving Ghost.