Friday, March 11, 2011

rag & bone Rocks Saks Fifth Ave, March 10th, 2011

As you can see, this particular event took place on the same day as my very intimate Grace Potter and The Nocturnals show, but it happened later, so I actually got to go to both shows. Lucky me, because I got to see 2 great and very buzzed about bands in the same day. Rag & Bone (or rag & bone) is a fashion brand by British designers David Neville and Marcus Wainwright. They are two good and very fun guys who I actually got the chance of meeting and hanging out with at their last event at Saks Fifth Ave, when their men's wear got a section at the well known department store. This particular event was in celebration of their women's line, and what better way to celebrate the new arrival to the store than giving out free beer and wine and having the Smith Westerns perform?

The event itself was great, free beer and wine and passed hors d'oeuvres usually are. After a while of that though, it was time to get to the show. Now I've heard good things about this band, but prior to yesterday I'd never heard any of their stuff, let alone seen them before. When they came out, the first thing I noticed, before they even strung up a single guitar, was how young they looked. Seriously they looked like teenagers! It turns out after a little research, that the indie rock band don't have a member above the age of 20, so I suppose they are rather young. They come off as being even younger when you consider their sound. An article I read said they're sound is "glam-garage," that's definitely the first I've heard that term used, but I think it works for them. They have a very mature sound and you can tell from hearing them play that they have great musical influences, siting The Beatles as one of their biggest. Sound wise for me, they had a bit of that slow electro kind of rock, that I suppose you could call glam, because it does have a hint of David Bowie to it, another one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE MUSICIANS! With that said, it's hard to characterize them musically, and really it would be a waste of time to do so, just toss them in the box where you put Great Music.

They did a very short set as well, but pretty much went through their catalog of different sounds; everything was great though. Their track "Smile" was probably my favorite, but it's like asking a parent who their favorite child is! They're sound is exactly what today's music needs, music that sounds like it's from yesterday, the good old days as I like to call it. Definitely check out their new album, and if you get a chance, check them out live.

RXP 101.9 Sessions @ The Studio at Webster Hall, March 10, 2011

So not too long ago I caught a part of the George Lopez show (i was flipping through the channels I swear!) and a band by the name of the Nocturnals performed, led by their front-woman Grace Potter. They only did one song (Paris) but I was captivated by her voice and their sound, as well as how down to earth she was during her post set interview. I thought, they would be a cool band to see play live. Enter, RXP...

So it would appear, 101.9 FM  has this thing called the RXP Sessions for their faithful fans. It's a cool, intimate show consisting of different bands at a relatively small venue, usually during the day, and it's free! Guess who yesterday's session was? You guessed it, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. It was like fate when I heard about the upcoming Session, so I printed out my ticket (which in the end they didn't even check for) and made my way through the rain to the afternoon session, scheduled for 3pm, at The Studio at Webster Hall.

Of course the usual suspects were there, which of course are the hosts of The Rock Show in the mornings, Leslie Fram and Matt Pinfield (yes, THAT Matt Pinfield, of MTV fame). They hosted the show from a booth pretty much, and introduced the band of the day when they finally arrived from their scheduled shoot at VH1 Studios. They took the stage, said hi, and went straight into the tunes. The Nocturnals have 2 guitar players and one drummer, who happens to have an awesome mustache, and Grace Potter on lead vocals (she also plays guitar). All the guitars for yesterday's session however were of the electric acoustic variety, giving off a great sort of "unplugged" sound. Since this was my first RXP Session, I'm not sure if this is what they always do, I suppose I will find out at the next one.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals did nothing short of blow me away with their short but sweet 5 or 6 song set. Their sound is a lot older than they are, a very old school feel of folk rock, a la Fleetwood Mac, who happen to be one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE BANDS! As soon as she sang like 4 notes, Grace kind of reminded me of the great Stevie Nix in her day, the same sultry sound, raspy at times, and at times powerful, but with an Aguilera belt. Every song they did was absolutely amazing, and their stage presence is like that of a seasoned legend band, not of a newer band that is starting to create their own noise in the business like they are. In between every song, Grace would tell the crowd a joke about being on tour, or about the songs they were singing; you could tell that she really had no idea that she is a legitimate jewel in the rough and a star in the making. They of course finished with "Paris," which is their big song, and it sounded great with the acoustic guitars, even though the song is originally done with electric.

And as quickly as they entered the stage, when they were done they thanked us and made their exit. I guess there were wristbands given out that I somehow didn't get, which of course allowed you to stay after the show and meet the band. These were for the real VIP people I would guess, a person I really need to be for next time I do an RXP Session, or at least the next time I see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals play. How good are these guys? All I could think about during their performance was how awesome it would be to listen to their album. Yea, they're THAT good...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Uncapped Live @ Southpaw, Brooklyn - March 8, 2011

Hey readers. I know it's been over a month since I've updated this thing with a new show for you, but I promise you it's not because I haven't been going to any, it's because I haven't really been paying enough attention to the bands while I'm there to give you guys a fair review (blame it on the a-a-a-a-alcohol?). Lucky for you guys, and a bit unlucky for me, that was not the case last night at this latest hip-hop event Uncapped Live, thrown at a really cool bar in Park Slope called Southpaw.

Uncapped Live was sponsored by Fader Magazine, Vitamin Water, and the kings of party throwing, Heineken, and it featured 3 up and coming rappers: Vado from Harlem, NY; Frenchie, who is originally from Jamaica, Queens but reps Atlanta, GA (like Waka Flocka Flame); and French Montana, who hails from Morocco but moved to the Bronx when he was a teenager. Now I said before that it was a bit unlucky for me that I was actually paying attention to this show, because well, no one was really any good. Let's discuss:

First to hit the stage was Frenchie, a Brick Squad member who at first glance reminds you of his buddy Waka Flocka. He came on the stage with all the people he showed up to the show with, literally 30 people were on stage with him. I hate when rappers do that, and he definitely did it. There was barely any space on the stage for him! He was at the very front edge of the stage, putting down his lyrics on tracks played by his DJ Lazy K. Lyrically he's a bit better than Waka, but not by much, and his sound is similar, but to me really not as hype. He and his crew were VERY hype on stage, he even poured a whole bottle of water on his dreads and splashed it on the onlooking photographers. He did have a couple of the people on stage actually rap, with microphones in their hands, but the rest of the people were just there for, moral support maybe?! I feel like maybe his tracks hit really hard in the south, but up here in Brooklyn people were less than impressed, not even swaying to the music, of which he had a lot of. I felt like he did maybe 10 songs! Not bad for a guy I'd never heard of or seen prior to yesterday, but his music was too noisy and wild for me, so I won't be buying his album anytime soon. I suppose if you like that hype-beat slow southern rap that Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka do, then you may like this guy as well; he is in the same crew after all.

Second to come out, was Vado, who I thought surely would have closed the show because I felt like maybe he was the person best known by the crowd, of course granted he was the only person I had actually heard of! It was a funny transition as well, because Frenchie and his standing army got off stage and Vado came on a bit later, with just one or two people with him; that was much better. He was for me the most lyrical of the three, but I really did expect that. He did his verses from the couple of big tracks he has on the radio now, including "Speaking In Tongues," which features Harlem rapper Cam'Ron. Even though his lyrics were clear and style was more what people from NY are accustom too, he still didn't get a good reception from the crowd. Maybe they were too drunk to dance...or move? It was a 3-hour top shelf open bar after all, I guess I can't blame them.

To close the show, last but not least, was Bronx rapper French Montana. Kind of strange they had both him and Frenchie on the show, but they have no relation or affiliation at all, as I found out later. However last night you would think they were best friends, because Frenchie came back out when Montana came out, and they both brought all of their entourages, so the stage was somehow even more full than at the beginning of the show! French Montana's style I suppose is NY, but it had a bit of southern twang to it, and I'm not sure why. His songs were OK, but really nothing special for me. It was also kind of hard to follow along with what he was saying due to the 10,000 people he brought out on stage with him, a few with mics, just screaming along. Really last night's show represented what is wrong with most rap shows, and why I don't really like going to them. I've been to many hip-hop shows that were awesome, but those shows had something that this show didn't: a live band. Really a rapper doesn't necessarily need a live band to rock a show, but it sure does help. If you don't have a live band to add some musicality, your best bet is to dazzle me with amazing lyrics and word play, something else that was lacking in this show, with the exception of a few of Vado's songs, one of which he did acapella. It was a rather random line-up and I think, no I'm SURE, that all the parties involved in throwing the show could do better. I probably wouldn't have stayed had it not been for the open bar, but I'm even more disappointed in the fact that I didn't grab any Vitamin Water. I'm better than that...