NOBRO @ Bowery Ballroom

NOBRO @ Bowery Ballroom

NOBRO at Bowery Ballroom (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

It’s never easy for a relatively unknown band to play the role of opener. It’s even harder when that band is composed of four young women. Because sure the rock touring scene has gotten better for women, but nonetheless it’s still very much a man’s world out there in a lot of ways and unfortunately women still don’t always get the respect men are automatically given. Things get even tougher when you’re playing sold out shows at iconic venues filled with rabid fans of the headliner who for the most part have one and only one thing on their minds…to rock out to that very same headliner. This is exactly what NOBRO was up against on Friday night at Manhattan’s fabled Bowery Ballroom as the opening act for Tokyo Police Club.

 

Hanging out in front of the stage prior to the show, it was pretty clear that not too many were familiar with NOBRO. The crowd was clearly there to see Tokyo Police Club, which is all well and good. I, for one, first heard of NOBRO via one of my favorite bands PUP and was there to see them. They had toured both band’s native Canada together in 2019 which brought them to my attention. Unfortunately they haven’t been able to tour the States since this discovery due to you know what. (NOTE- This wasn’t their first time playing NY, as they did open for FIDLAR at Terminal 5 back in September of 2018.)

 

The four band members hit the stage running shortly after 9 PM with “Better Each Day” which they released as a single last month. Starting the song off with an acapella gospel chorus intro, the song then takes a sharp turn and churns into an anthemic rocker reminiscent of the cheesy Six Flags Amusement Park theme song (you know the one with the creepy bald guy dancing around like a fool). But there is nothing cheesy about “Better Each Day.”  From the moment that drummer Sarah Dion kicks into the rollicking meat of the song, it is clear that NOBRO has come to play and when I say play, I mean play hard. Next up was “The Kids Are Back,” which starts out with Dion once again pounding on her drums as a back beat to some nasty guitar riffing from Karolane Carbanneau which is right out of the Deep Purple songbook ala “Woman From Tokyo”.

 

From here the songs came shooting out rapid fire with lead vocalist and bassist Kathryn McCaughey shouting and screaming and singing at a pace that would make the Ramones blush. I mean they were having a blast! The energy was about as high as I’ve seen from any band I’ve seen in quite some time. During quarantine they released an EP, Sick Hustle, which they ended up playing in its entirety. 

 

No Bro performing

NOBRO at Bowery Ballroom

 

While the band claims to have been influenced by the likes of Jay Reatard, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden amongst others, live on stage I couldn’t help but be reminded of current band Bat Fangs (see pics of their recent Union Pool show) and of course The Donnas from the 90’s. The parallel between these groups is quite self evident…young women determined to take the male dominated rock and roll world by storm. Taking the cock rock metal of the late 70s and early 80s from bands like Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath mixing in the fast and furious rhythms of The Ramones and then adding the snarl and feminine angst from the Riot Grrrl movement.   

 

The show was a non-stop tsunami of pounding and ferociously fast drumming from Dion and a mix of power chords and lightning quick metal guitar riffs from Carbanneau. But then there was lead singer, McCaughey with her fingers flying up and down on her bass fretboard all the while screaming lyrics into her mic, her long hair flying all over as she flailed about the stage. Lastly, I would be most remiss if I didn’t also pay homage to keyboardist and percussionist Lisandre Bourdages. Off to the right of the stage, she at first appears to be the reserved member of the group until she starts pounding on her bongos and it quickly becomes apparent that there is nothing reserved about her whatsoever. 

 

They closed out their set with a scorching version of “Don’t Die” from the aforementioned Sick Hustle EP followed by “LA LA” another single from 2019.  Surprisingly, they came out for an encore which is something openers almost never get to do. They finished off their evening with a crazed cover of MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams” which saw each of the musicians pick it up to ELEVEN, complete with McCaughey writhing and contorting while playing bass flat on her back on the floor.

 

To sum it all up, NOBRO converted a room full of Tokyo Police fans into NOBRO enthusiasts. Upon conclusion you could see throughout the room that “OH FUCK” look on everyone’s faces. That look of “did that really just happen?”  Afterwards, on my way home, I tried to come up with something which would aptly describe NOBRO’s show.  Some way of putting their sound and fury and tenacity into words on a piece of paper. The best I could come up with was, if one were  to mix a can of Red Bull with 2 shots of Fire Ball and that combo made a sound, that sound would be NOBRO.  

 

Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

NOBRO

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

No Bro performing

 

 

The Songs of Big Star (A Musical Tribute to Big Star) @ St. Ann & Holy Trinity Church

The Songs of Big Star (A Musical Tribute to Big Star) @ St. Ann & Holy Trinity Church

The Songs of Big Star at St. Ann & Holy Trinity Church (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

The historical musical landscape of rock and rock is strewn with the bodies of tragic figures who for countless reasons were chewed up and spit out by the ruthless business machine known as the entertainment industry. Making it in rock and roll often has nothing to do with a band’s or individual’s actual talent, but so often is just a matter of timing, being in the right place at the right time, or just plain old having the stars align at just the right moment. Alex Chilton and his band Big Star are one of those tragic rock and roll figures. In fact, if Webster’s dictionary had an entry for “tragic R&R figures” there would be a picture of Alex and Big Star right there with it. Virtually every “college radio” artist from the 80’s and 90’s owed a debt to Big Star. There might not have been an R.E.M. or a Replacements (to name just two) without there first being an Alex Chilton, a Chris Bell, a Jody Stephens, an Andy Hummel, or to put it plainly, a Big Star.

 

Let’s be clear right from the start however – Big Star, while certainly a collaborative effort, the true creative force of the band was none other than Chilton. After joining the Box Tops in the mid 60’s and experiencing the worldwide smash hit “The Letter” as a mere 16 year old, Chilton and the Box Tops went on to enjoy real success with numerous AM radio hits before they decided to call it quits in 1970. The Box Tops split up in ‘71 and Chilton hooked up with Chris Bell who he knew from his work at Memphis’s Ardent Studios. Bell already had the makings of a band along with Jody Stephens and Andy Hammel, but once they invited Chilton to join, Big Star was officially born. They quickly hit the studio and recorded their first LP, #1 Record which was released in early ‘72 on (cash strapped) Stax Records to great critical acclaim. But largely due to poor (almost non existent) marketing and distribution, the album failed miserably in the sales department.

 

1974 saw the release of Big Star’s second album, Radio Citywhich was again met with great praise from the music critics.  The album was recorded for the most part as a three piece  because, although he wrote some of the songs on the album, Bell had quit the band largely due to personal issues pertaining to drugs and mental health. But alas, just as #1 Record had failed to generate sales, so did Radio City. This despite glowing reviews which praised Big Star as a band to be paid attention to. The only trouble was, the record buying public continued to ignore the band.

 

Late in 1974, saw the band return to the studio to record ThirdOnce again, the album received glowing reviews from the press. Rolling Stone went as far as to call it a masterpiece.  ut for reasons which alluded and confused the band, the public (at the time) continued to ignore the band and its recorded output. Big Star called it quits after Third was a commercial failure.

 

Big Star came back almost 20 years after the release of Third with a new lineup which included Chilton and Stephens along with Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer from the Posies (another one of those bands which we probably wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for Big Star). This iteration of the band finally recorded a fourth album in 2005, In Space. During Sunday night’s tribute Jody Stephens recalled a moment from the band’s 2005 tour in support of In Space where Chilton introduced a song saying, “This is from our new album. You’ll probably hate it but don’t worry, 30 years from now you’re going to love it.” And that unfortunately was the story of Chilton and Big Star, the band nobody appreciated in real time but still the band that spawned a legacy unparalleled by virtually any other in history.

 

So that is basically the backdrop for Sunday’s wonderful tribute show which was put together and largely conducted by former Db’s frontman, Chris Stamey. Stamey along with Mike Mills (REM), Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo), Jody Stephens, Brett Harris and Charles Cleaver (Big Star’s Third), Skylar Gudasz, Crispin Cioe (Uptown Horns) and the Occasional String Quartet came together for an evening of song and stories to commemorate what Big Star so gloriously left us with.

 

 

Big Star Tribute performing

The Songs of Big Star (A Musical Tribute to Big Star) at St. Ann & Holy Trinity Church

 

 

The evening was comprised of two sets and started off with Harris singing “I’m In Love With A Girl” with accompaniment from Stamey and Harris on acoustic guitars. With the band members alternating vocal duties from song to song and the gorgeous backdrop of St Ann’s Church, the feeling throughout the evening was truly otherworldly. The first set was a perfect cross section of songs spanning the group’s career including “India Song” from #1 Record, “Daisy Glaze” from Radio City, “Kanga Roo” from Third, which included a spell binding guitar feedback presentation from Ira Kaplan which had many in the crowd with jaws agape. The set closed out with Stephens doing Chris Bell’s “You And Your Sister” off of Bell’s I Am The Cosmos solo album.

 

Following a brief intermission, Mills commenced the second set with lead vocals on “September Gurls” from Radio City.  The band kept the pedal to the metal with “In The Street” and “Thirteen” from #1 Record amongst others before closing the set out with the apropos “Thank You, Friends” from Thirteen. The night was far from over however, as the ensemble treated the mesmerized crowd to two encores, each with four additional songs. For the finale, a somewhat concerned Mike Mills begged the question of Chris Stamey, “Are we really going to do this?” Stamey’s response was that it was on the list, so yeah its getting done. To which Mills called out to any of the musicians backstage that if he had to do this they had to join him onstage and help out.  And with that the packed stage kicked into a rolicking version of R.E.M.’s “Don’t Go Back To Rockville”

 

All told those lucky enough to be in attendance were treated to quite a night of music. Music which deserves to be acknowledged for what it is and for what it was, timeless classics which paved the way for what was to come. Music, which no matter how under appreciated it might have been at first, is today something to be beholden to. There have been countless bands throughout the years who created beautiful, fantastic, mind blowing music which for a myriad of reasons never caught on. Unfortunately, most of these bands have been lost in the wayside.  Count your blessings that thanks to people like the amazing musicians who performed Sunday night at St. Ann & Holy Trinity Church, that Big Star is not one of those forgotten bands.

 

Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

THE SONGS OF BIG STAR TRIBUTE

 

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

Big Star Tribute performing

 

 

 

Laura Stevenson & Anika Pyle @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Laura Stevenson & Anika Pyle @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Laura Stevenson at Music Hall of Williamsburg (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

The last time I saw Laura Stevenson, she was very pregnant and the world had not yet been turned upside down. Back in December of 2019, I got to see her and her band at Jersey City’s Monty Hall. A week later, I was fortunate enough to be at Jeff Rosenstock’s Monday night residency at Trans-Pecos and Stevenson came out to do a couple of songs from her and Rosenstock’s Neil Young covers EP, Still Young. Well we all know what has transpired since then. So let’s fast forward to August 2021 and the release of her eponymous album, Laura Stevenson, which I quite honestly feel is currently my favorite album of the year. 

 

Fast forward yet again to October 2021 and Stevenson and her band kicked off a mini tour of the Northeast, playing shows in Boston, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and DC (which was as an opener for Lucy Dacus). As an added bonus the opener for the headlining shows was Anika Pyle, who you might know from her days with Chumped, or maybe her band Katy Ellen or maybe her other side project Sheena, Anika, and Augusta. Regardless, this was clearly going to be one of those double bills made for the ages, one where either band would be worth the price of admission all by themselves.

 

Music Hall of Williamsburg had two shows on Saturday night so it turned out that Stevenson’s show was early. Fine by me as I had an early work morning on Sunday anyway. Taking the stage at 7 PM sharp, Anika Pyle was joined by fellow Philadelphians, Kayleigh Goldsworthy on background harmonies and fiddle (yeah, the same Kayleigh Goldsworthy I’d seen with Frank Turner recently). Also joining in was Kiley Lotz AKA Petal on vocals and keys with Zack Robbins of Dark Mountain rounding out the band on drums and synths. Pyle and her friends kicked the night off with a poignant version of  “Wild River,” from her album of the same name which she released earlier in the year. The rest of the set was primarily songs from Wild River, save for a new one called “The Way You Looked At Me,” and a cover of Kasey Musgraves’ “Space Cowboy.”  

 

About three quarters of the way through her set, Pyle paused to explain that this evening marked the two year anniversary of the passing of her father. She then explained a little back story as to her dad’s life, warts as well as triumphs, and followed with the spoken word tribute to him off of Wild River, “Mexican Restaurant, Where I Last Saw My Father.” Hands down, this was the most emotional, gut wrenching moment of the night. At its conclusion, a visibly shaken Pyle looked at each of her bandmates, or rather each of her friends, and each and every one returned THAT look where you know its going to be OK, we’ve got your back.

 

One might have wondered how you follow a set like that which was overflowing with raw emotion, but truth be told, Laura Stevenson and her band came out plain and simply kicked ass. Opening up with the first single off of Laura Stevenson, the most un-Laura-like “State.”  Followed by “Master Of Art ” from Sit Resist, the classic Laura Stevenson and The Cans LP from 2011 which received a 10 year anniversary repackaging last year from Don Giovani Records. From here the band dove into a rollicking version of “Torch Song,” from Stevenson’s 2015 masterpiece Cocksure, with everyone in the room singing along to the “Test me” chorus.  Followed by two from the new one, “Sky Blue, Bad News,” and “Wrench”, it was clear that Stevenson and the band were having a blast up on stage. She jokingly introduced “Halloween Pts 1 & 2” as a seasonal song before telling the crowd that her and bassist Mike Campbell’s little girl was going to be Chucky for Halloween this year.

 

At this point, the band left the stage to allow Stevenson to sing a couple of songs solo. It was then that she played the first song of the night from 2019’s Big Freeze, “Value Inn.”  While on stage by herself she then invited old friend, regular collaborator, and current LA resident Jeff Rosenstock out to help her sing along to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” (another “seasonal” song) from the duo’s aforementioned EP Still Young. If you were to have told me ahead of time that Jeff would come out to join in on a song and it wasn’t the high point of the set, I’d have said that you were crazy. But I mean no disrespect to Laura & Jeff’s version of “Harvest Moon,” it was in fact fantastic, but the rest of her set was just THAT good.    Finishing out the balance of the set with “Living Room, NY, “Continental Divide,” (my favorite track on my favorite album by the way), “Jellyfish,” and “8:08.”  

 

The evening’s surprises weren’t quite over just yet however, as guitarist Peter Naddeo came back onstage after the encore break, trumpet in hand for a gorgeous version of “The Wheel,” and then a show stopping, hip shaking, hands clapping, word shouting finale, “Dermatillomania,” from The Big Freeze album. What a night…I couldn’t have asked for more. And boy am I stoked that I get to do it again this weekend in Philly.

 

Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

ANIKA PYLE

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

Anika Pyle performing

 

 

LAURA STEVENSON

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

Laura Stevenson performing

 

 

 

Waxahatchee, Katy Kirby @ Elsewhere

Waxahatchee, Katy Kirby @ Elsewhere

Waxahatchee at Elsewhere 10/13/21 (photo by Ray Rusinak

 

Originally scheduled for April 2020, and then rescheduled for September 2020….then rescheduled again to October 2021, Katie and Katy (Crutchfield and Kirby) finally made their way to Bushwick’s Elsewhere in support of what many felt was the best album to be released in 2020, Waxahatchee’s Saint Cloud, her second effort for Merge Records. And what a triumphant (sort of) hometown return it was. As many of you might know, Katie Crutchfield, although born and raised in Alabama, called Brooklyn home back in the 20-teens when her burgeoning career as Waxahatchee originally began to bloom.  

 

The “other” Katy, the wonderful Katy Kirby, opened up the evening’s festivities with a terrific set which immediately had me wondering how I’d missed her debut album, Cool Dry Place, which was released last February on Keeled Scales Records.  Kirby and her band played a light and breezy set of singer/songwriter pop music which set the tone for the upcoming Waxahatchee headlining set just perfectly. Kirby is certainly someone to keep an eye on and ear open for, especially if you have an appreciation for artists like Snail Mail, Lucy Dacus, Petal and Julien Baker.

 

After a brief break of 15 minutes or so, Bonny Dune took to the stage of Elsewhere right around 10:15, followed shortly thereafter by a beaming Katie Crutchfield, who as she walked on stage waved and smiled back at the adoring crowd. Bonny Dune, who hail from Detroit were Katie’s band on Saint Cloud and seem to be a perfect fit for her. Their style of play which can be lilting and peaceful, as well as forthcoming and powerful, compliments Crutchfield’s current head space for music to a tee.

 

Waxahatchee at Elsewhere

 

Opening the set up was “Oxbow,” which is also the opening song on Saint Cloud, and was followed by “Chapel Of Pines,” from 2018 EP, Great Thunder and “Can’t Do Much,” another Saint Cloud tune. These few songs were the warmup and Crutchfield seems a bit reserved at first. But with the fourth song of the set, Out In The Storm’s “Recite Remorse,” the show really began to take off. Crutchfield and her Bonny Dune bandmates provided the packed room another hour of music which was soothing and uplifting at the same time. By the time this show took place, the crew had been on the road already for seven weeks and the time together was clearly noticeable on stage. There was a camaraderie and synchronicity between singer and musicians which when experienced is pure magic.

 

All in all, they played the entire Saint Cloud album interspersed throughout the 20 something song set. Amongst the non Saint Cloud songs, Crutchfiled managed to fit in at least one song from each of her releases along with a couple of covers as well, including Gillian Welch’s “Wrecking Ball” and the encore finale of Dolly Parton’s “Light Of A Clear Blue Morning”.

 

Wednesday night at Elsewhere to a certain extent was more than a homecoming, but also almost a coming out party. When the crowd sang along to virtually every word of “Sparks Fly” during the encore, you couldn’t help but feel like Waxahatchee had crossed on to that next level of pop stardom which I say with the utmost respect and happiness for Crutchfield and all of her musical partners. She’s come a long way from the days of opening sets on Monday nights in Brooklyn to headlining her own shows at mid sized venues all over the country. Way to go Waxahatchee!

 

Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

KATY KIRBY

 

 

WAXAHATCHEE

 

 

A Few Days With Frank Turner

A Few Days With Frank Turner

Frank Turner performing at Crossroads 10/3/21 (photo by Ray Rusinak)

 

I am not going to lie, with the possible exceptions of Jeff Rosenstock, The Menzingers and PUP, Frank Turner is my favorite live act out there today. It pained me terribly to have not seen him onstage in 2020 and when 2021 started out, it didn’t really look like I was going to get to see him this year either. But then I received my Bands In Town notification that he was playing Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Civic Center in October. Hmmm, that’s an ambitious venue for him, I thought. Well as it turned out, he was coming across the pond as an opening act for Counting Crows. WOW, that’s a cool lineup…I mean, for people of a certain age, “who doesn’t love Counting Crows?” 

 

Of course seeing Frank Turner as an opener wasn’t my ideal way I’d want to be seeing him after nearly two years, but what the hell, we all can’t be beggars and choosers. The trouble was, the date conflicted with a previously scheduled appointment.  DAMN!  Ah but shortly thereafter, a second show was added, the concert gods were indeed looking after me. NOT…the new show was also on a date which I couldn’t make. “Oh well, it’s just not meant to be” I thought. And then a more complete headlining US tour was announced, but the closest city was in Hershey, PA and that date was no good for me either. I figured I must have really pissed somebody off somewhere along the way.

 

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I get another Bands In Town alert, “Frank Turner has announced new shows in your area.” And sure enough Turner (or more probably his booking agent) scheduled two shows in one day, one at Philadelphia’s Underground Arts on a Sunday afternoon, and a second show that very same night at Crossroads in Garwood, NJ. Crosswoods lands a lot of great artists to play their very small venue in the middle of nowhere New Jersey (they recently hosted Laura Jane Grace there). This is thanks to concert promoter Andy Diamond, who presents shows at the venue consistently. Crossroads was actually the last place I’d seen Turner back in October of 2019, and that night was also the second half of a double header show after a matinee at Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall

 

Needless to say, I was STOKED, with a capital S.T.O.K.E.D. Waking up on an unseasonably warm October Sunday morning, it was a beautiful day, one which the immortal Ernie Banks would have proudly declared “Boy, it’s a beautiful day—let’s play two!” I headed down to Philadelphia and arriving at Underground Arts with a good amount of time before opener Kayleigh Goldsworthy’s set was scheduled to start, I found the room to be almost completely full already. Looks like I wasn’t the only one craving some Frank Turner. Goldsworthy’s set was, as always, a perfect prequel to Turner. 

 

Kayleigh-Goldsworthy performing

Kayliegh Goldsworthy

 

Shortly after Goldsworthy finished up, Turner walked onto stage with his Sleeping Soul’s bandmate and multi instrumentalist, Matt Nasir, who was joining Turner on this tour as his vocal harmonizer, mandolinist and on stage straight man. In any event they took no time to warm up and jumped right into Turner classics, “The Ballad Of Me and My Friends,” “If I Should Ever Stray,” and “Long Live The Queen,” which will always bring a tear to my eye; at this point as much out of joy as for sadness.  All told the set was decidedly much more of a “greatest hits” set than he usually does at these impromptu solo shows while on tour as a supporting act, but this was just fine by me however, after waiting two years to see him live again. 

 

Turner did manage to mix in a couple of new ones from his upcoming FTHC album though, “Haven’t Been Doing So Well” and “The Gathering,” both of which have already been released as singles. There was an altogether new one called “Imperfect Tense” as well. All in all it seemed obvious to me that Turner was still getting back in the swing of things after having been off the road for almost two years. For a guy like him who is ALWAYS on the road (this was show number 2560 for him), I was curious how the longest layoff of his career would treat him. Performers are much like athletes after all and they get out of shape when inactive too, both vocally as well as physically. In any event, while it was clear he was still getting back to fighting shape, nothing prevented it from being a fantastic Sunday afternoon.

 

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner at Underground Arts

 

After the show, we fortunately had enough time to kill before having to make the drive up the NJ Turnpike for the next round, so it was a no-brainer that we stop at Joe’s Steaks and Sodas for the obligatory Philly Cheesesteak (Wiz, not provolone for the record). The hour and a half drive up to Garwood, NJ was uneventful (largely due to a cheesesteak induced semi-coma). We got to Crossroads around 7:30 PM to find a line of people wrapping throughout the parking lot like I’ve never seen before.  Understandably, with Vax and ID checks required, entrance into the venue was taking a bit longer than usual. In any event we gained entrance relatively quickly and soon found a nice spot up front, stage left. For those who’ve never been, Crossroads is a SMALL room, with a low stage and for sold out shows some of the sight lines can be challenging.  

 

Kayleigh Goldsworthy came on and immediately seemed to be much looser and relaxed than she appeared that afternoon.  We would find out during her set that that comfort level had something to do with shots of tequila which were done in between shows. If I failed to mention it earlier, she is such a pleasure to see live. Your first impression upon seeing her is of this sweet and charming singer/songwriter…which she most certainly is. But then she starts telling her stories between songs and she can make a longshoreman blush. Anyway, her evening set was great. Lots of old nuggets mixed in with new material from her forthcoming album, as well as one song which she promised would never be recorded or released and which would probably never be played live again after this night called “I Want To Party With You,” a song about the loneliness and desire for human interaction during Covid. Let it be known that from the reaction of the crowd, not releasing it would be a mistake.

 

Turner hit the stage along with Nasir around 9:30, opening up with his coming of age epic, “I Knew Prufrock,” and then followed the afternoon’s setlist pretty closely. He moved the new song, “The Gathering,” up in the queue and dropped “Long Live The Queen,” but otherwise it was the same. That being said though, it was the same, but much better now that he was warmed up. Like Goldsworthy, Turner appeared to be much more relaxed and comfortable (Crossroads can have that effect on artists, it’s that kind of room…or it might have been the tequila). 

 

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner at Underground Arts

 

The next shift from the afternoon was the replacing of “Imperfect Sense,” with a different new song called “Fatherless.”  Let me say right now that this was the tipping point of the show for me. The song has to do with Tuner’s relationship with his father, something he has not particularly addressed throughout his career.  And the song flat out R.O.C.K.S.!  Sunday night it was obviously performed acoustically but it still came across like a blitzkrieg. It makes me fear for my mosh pit life when he plays it with the full backing of the Sleeping Souls.  At this point, let me just say that from what I’ve heard thus far, the upcoming FTHC doesn’t appear to be anything less than a punk rock tour de force. The rest of the evening stuck to the plan set out earlier in the day, which was just fine by me and the rest of the packed out Crossroads crowd.  

 

The half hour drive back to Staten Island was sweat soaked and blissful, having spent my day experiencing what I’d been dreaming about for the duration of lockdown.

 

For what I thought was my last Frank Turner show for the foreseeable future, it would be plenty to hold me over until next time. Sure there were the two Hammerstein shows coming up, but I couldn’t make either one of them, or so I thought. I had to work on Tuesday night, but as it turned out, what I thought was a conflict on Wednesday was actually happening on Thursday and all of a sudden I was free for the show, thus I was Hammerstein Ballroom bound Wednesday evening for Frank Turner Round III.

 

Finding a parking spot a mere three blocks away from the venue was the first omen that it was going to be a good night. The second was running into Derek Zanetti of Homeless Gospel Choir and Doug Murphy, Turner’s sound guy and general tour jack of all trades on 8th Avenue as I was walking to the ballroom. As I entered the hall I was pleased to see that the room was about halfway full with Turner due to hit the stage shortly. Clearly playing an opening set is different than being a headliner in that respect. At just about 7:30 sharp Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz appeared onstage and introduced both Frank Turner and Matt Nasir and they proceeded to commence the evening’s festivities with “If I Should Ever Stray.” Three shows and three different opening songs. Again, the set was heavy on the “hits”, something which you’d expect a seasoned artist playing the role of opener to do.  

 

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner at Hammerstein Ballroom 10/6/21

 

It was funny however that on Sunday, Turner had joked how it was comforting to play to crowds that actually knew his songs because this hadn’t been the case thus far on the Counting Crows tour. Well the looks and inquisitive stares which came in my direction as I sang along (rather loudly) to most of his songs sure made me appreciate what he’d said a couple of days prior.  I was surprised to get yet another new one from Turner called “Little Life,” which he performed while Nasir was on his “union break.”  This one has me highly anticipating the release of FTHC.

 

Closing out his set with what has to be his best known song outside of Frank Turner circles, “I Still Believe,” Turner had finally succeeded in getting the entire room to sing along to the chorus:

 

Now who’d have thought that after all,

Something as simple as rock ‘n’ roll would save us all.

Now who’d have thought that after all,

Something so simple, something so small.

Who’d have thought, that after all it’s rock ‘n’ roll

 

Yes indeed, in times like these, who WOULD have thought that something as simple as rock n roll could save us all?

 

Scroll down for pics from all three shows (photos by Ray Rusinak)

 

 

KAYLEIGHY GOLDSWORTHY 

Kayleigh-Goldsworthy performing

Kayleigh-Goldsworthy performing

Kayleigh-Goldsworthy performing

Kayleigh-Goldsworthy performing

Kayleigh-Goldsworthy performing

Kayleigh-Goldsworthy performing

 

 

FRANK TURNER

 

At Underground Arts

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

 

At Crossroads

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Crossroads

 

At Hammerstein Ballroom

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing

Frank Turner performing