Wednesday, April 27, 2011
So get this: it has been brought to my attention that Diesel, the clothing store that specializes in - clothes, has a monthly concert series called Music Teaser Tuesdays. It's called that because it's the last Tuesday of every month, and it's a teaser because the bands that they have on display only do a small set (My Arcadia did a 5 song set). So here's the lowdown:
Yesterday I went to the Diesel store on 5th Ave. and 54th St, which is where the festivities happen. Things kick off at 6pm with the artists usually taking the "stage" at 6:30pm; the stage of course being the shoe section, on the third floor. The event is sponsored by Ty-Ku, which is a green colored liquer that I really to this day have no idea what it tastes like, but they give it away for free with some assorted beers so I'm sure you won't really care too much. On to the show:
My Arcadia took to the stage area with conviction, making a power walk from the back of the crowd up to the front and grabbed their spots. The band consists of two guitarists, one bass player, one drummer and their lead singer, who made it clear that this was the first time she'd ever performed in a dress, and if we got a glimpse of her ass, well that would be considered an added bonus. My Arcadia has a great sound though, reminded me right off the bat of Evanescence, and not just because they are a rock band with a female lead singer. Their lead singer, Jacqui Sandell, has a great voice; one that carries and hits hard, especially backed by some hard rock riffs. Let me just say that a lot of these shows have artists singing their hearts out without earpieces in, so they have nothing to go by besides the speakers to know whether they're hitting their notes. All of their five songs were all great, and their finisher, "My Pioneer," was the only of the five songs that had a nice drawn out guitar solo, which as we should know by now I'm a big fan of. My Arcadia are a very talented band with great things in their future, because real talent speaks volumes, and these guys are legit.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Finally! I've waited so long for this show and it finally happened, and it was about as surreal as I thought, and by the time Sir Elton John exited the stage, I was so amazed that on the way home I had to figure out whether it actually happened. Oh but it surely did, and it was beautiful.
I woke up extra early Wednesday morning so I could show up to the BMCC Performing Arts Center and pick up my free passes for the screening of the documentary "The Union," which was to be followed by a performance by the Great One himself. The Union is a documentary about the Elton John combination album of the same name, that he did in a collaboration with fellow music God Leon Russell, a man who John says is his greatest inspiration, at least as far as playing the piano is concerned. After waiting in a line for about eight hours (thank the Heavens the people I was standing with were all really cool) I got my passes and was ready for the show.
Before they went into the documentary, the host for the evening Dennis Leary came out to warm up the crowd a bit. He brought out The Bangles who did "Walk Like an Egyptian" with the choir from P.S. 22, it was a cute performance from the kids and the 80s group. After that a couple more people came out to say a few words, including Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal (Robert De Niro is the other co-founder, FYI), and NY native and film industry icon Martin Scorcese. It was cool because even Sir Elton himself came out before the screening, to thank everyone for coming out and to remind them to stick around afterwards. Yea, like we needed to be reminded!
The Union documentary came on after, wonderfully directed by film director Cameron Crowe, who couldn't make it to the screening because he was off filming another movie! Hey, the man has to eat. The documentary follows John and Russell through their creative process, working with different musicians as they put together the collaboration album that was released in October of last year. It's brilliant and heartwarming because you get to see two musical geniuses in their natural habitat. I won't give away too much of it (even if it is a documentary) but if you are a music fan or better yet an Elton John or Leon Russell fan, this would be a great documentary to pick up.
After it was over Rosenthal made it back on stage to introduce the man of the hour, Sir Elton John. He came right on stage and started in on the piano, going right into Tiny Dancer. It was right around then that I was having a hard time even realizing the show was actually happening. To make matters worse, the very next song on his short but extra sweet set was Rocket Man, which is my favorite of his songs, in a tie with Candle In The Wind. I sang Rocket Man while out at a karaoke bar with some friends this past Friday, so it was nice to hear what it was supposed to sound like! He did two songs off The Union album, which I was guessing he would have done. To wrap up the five song set, he talked about how NYC was his favorite place to play (of course!), and said that this next one is dedicated to you; the perfect set up for Your Song. A great way to leave the crowd with a great short set. I can only imagine that he would have played for longer had the weather been warmer, but it was a bit chilly, so really a 5 song set is a lot when you're playing the piano with cold hands and singing outdoors. Sir Elton John is one of the few remaining legit living legends, and I'm quite glad I got to see him at such a spectacular event. Hopefully you check out the Tribeca Film Festival, it runs until May 1st.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The boys at 1iota put together yet another great free concert event, complete with me being up in the front again, on camera acting like a crazy person. This is indeed my MO, my concert etiquette for the most part, but it was very surprising to me this time around. The reason: I'm not a Black Eyed Peas fan. I used to be, I really was, back in the days of "Joints and Jams" they were one of my favorite groups. I loved their new age hip-hop sound, great songs to dance too. They're quite a few years removed from those days, and they've since added a girl to the group (Fergie) and changed their sound pretty much completely. Their new sound, quite poppy, with a touch of techno/dance music, is not my favorite, but it seems to be everyone else's. I know this because it's impossible to go to a club nowadays without hearing at least a few of their songs. With all these cards against them, you may be wondering how I managed to even mildly enjoy myself at this show. Well I'll tell you...
First of all I got priority tickets, which means I got to go inside first; that's a plus. After they had people line up outside they made people advance so they could fit everyone in one section. As me and my plus one walked closer to the venue, we were stopped by one of the 1iota staff and each handed an index card with a pink dot on it. I didn't really know what it was for, I just assumed that maybe they gave it to all of the people on the priority line. After a bit of standing around waiting one of the staff members told all the people with index cards and dots to move up to the front of the line! Nice! We then moved up to the front with the other people with index cards, only to realize that their were different dots, pink (like we had) and yellow, which some other people had. After another little bit of waiting, the same staff member who invited the index card holders to the front, then said that the pink dot index card people (like us) were going to be let in first, so we could be in the VERY front. Umm, double nice! And that's where we ended up, right at the front. It reminded me of the NFL Kickoff concert that happened in Columbus Circle a few years ago. The guys from 1iota also had tickets to be up front at that show too, and randomly picked me and my friend off the line that time to put us up in the very front! Maybe I just have a face for TV!
We got inside the venue known as Terminal 5 and it was a lot smaller than I thought, which makes for a very intimate setting. The setup and the lights make you feel like you're at a much larger space than you are, so you have the "big concert" feel in a small space; it's quite a cool spot to see live music. DJ Amo was on the turntables mixing techno tracks for the crowd, getting people in the dancing mood. He played a remix of that song "Barbara Streisand" which substituted them saying Barbara Streisand with Charlie Sheen, which was kind of funny. After a bit of tunes though the band made it on stage, followed rather quickly by group known as the Black Eyed Peas. They came on very nonchalantly to a resounding response from the crowd, and went straight into "Get It Started," the track formerly known as "Get Retarded." Honestly their energy level was high, but it felt at times that they could have been more energetic, however it's not like you really could have noticed.
They touched on all of their nowadays hit tracks, "Boom Boom Boom," "Don't Phunk with my Heart," and of course "I've got a Feeling." Will.I.Am, the frontman for the group, decided at different intervals to freestyle over makeshift beats done by DJ Amo and the band. It was then, that you realized, that this guy can still rap, and rap well! He would freestyle for quite some time too. This being my first Black Eyed Peas show, I'm not sure whether he does this at every show, or if he was doing it for this special event, which was being live streamed on the internet at MTV.com. Having said that, they sure did curse a lot! You could tell at first that Will let a few ones slip at first when he started up freestyling, so he would try to curb it a bit. After a couple more sessions, especially ones involving Taboo and apl.de.ap, you could tell they through the rules out the window and decided to just have fun with it. I'm hoping the online viewers were enjoying the expletives, because we sure were!
Will also had his Blackberry out while he was on stage; not the entire time but at different intervals. He was taking pictures and uploading it to his Twitter page! It was the ultimate 'meta' experience for everyone, being filmed and streamed live on the internet for the entire world to see, while the Black Eyed Peas are uploading photos of themselves and the crowd onto Twitter. One thing is for certain, B.E.P. are legit performers, who know how to rock a crowd but more importantly, hold a crowd. There were minimal dead spots energy wise for the entire night. People got really quiet when Taboo talked about dedicating "Just Can't Get Enough" to the people of Japan, and also when Will told a story about B.E.P.'s industry history, and how important the internet has been in their success and growth globally, but by no means was it dead in the place. And as soon as they appeared on stage, their exit was just as nonchalant and abrupt. People stood around waiting for an encore, partially because the 1iota people told us not to move because they were possibly going to return for one more song, but it wasn't going to happen. It was fine though, because everyone left quite satisfied with the performance, and some people, like myself, left quite surprised at how much fun they had at the show. It was pleasantly surprised and quite impressed by these guys, and I can safely say that the show was excellent and would recommend seeing them live if you could, it's an experience for sure.
Monday, April 11, 2011
So as I sat inside watching soccer on this beautiful Monday I decided to check one of my favorite blogs, myfreeconcert.blogspot.com, and see if there were any shows coming up this month that I need to look forward to, that is of course, besides the tons I already knew about. It seemed that on this Monday, the guys at My Free Concert posted the flyer that is above this particular write-up, about songwriter Kevin Cossom's mixtape release party. I decided since I didn't have anything else that night that I would go check it out, I mean, why not?
Kevin Cossom is a singer and songwriter who is very popular amongst music industry professionals, but may not necessarily be a household name...yet. He's written songs for big names in the business already, like Rick Ross, Mary J. Blige, and R. Kelly, and he's the man behind Keri Hilson's hit song "Knock You Down." He's trying to make a name for himself on the performance side of the business by putting out a mixtape aptly named "By Any Means," as well as releasing a single called "Baby I Like It," featuring Brooklyn's own Fabolous and the Bad Boy super producer Diddy. This song got major play at the event from DJ Zeke, as you would guess. He also played a few other tracks from the mixtape that Kevin so calmly sat down and signed copies of for eagerly waiting fans.
The people in attendance were a mix of bloggers (like myself), press (kind of like myself), music industry professionals and fashionistas, so basically what one would would expect at such an event. It started off seemingly low-key but by the time Kevin made his grand appearance Vinnie Styles clothing store was absolutely packed, with more people trying to bargain their way in. It was supposed to go until 10pm but the free booze ran out closer to 8:30pm, and Kevin left shortly there after, so everyone was out of the store before 9pm. All in all it was a great time and I'm glad I got a chance to check it out. I definitely wouldn't have known about it if it wasn't for my boys at My Free Concert. Thanks...again!
Sunday, April 10, 2011
No this isn't some sort of sick joke. I went to Brooklyn Bowl this past Saturday to go see Erotic City, the "#1 Prince Cover Band." Now some of you may wonder why I would bother even doing such a thing, especially after getting the privilege of getting to see the real Prince, the MAN, perform live not once but twice on his "Welcome 2 America" Tour that just came blowing through the east coast a couple months ago. Don't get me wrong, those shows were beyond awesome, as you would guess. But I got a chance to go see Erotic City for $5, so I figured I couldn't pass that up. Coincidentally, $5 is the most money I've paid to see any artist perform that I've covered on this blog! How's that for perspective...
Now when you're talking about a cover band, I would guess your best bet is to talk about their similarities to the act they are supposed to be impersonating. I can start with the most obvious one, the look: Julian (the name of the guy who sings the songs, the Prince impersonator in the band) does resemble Mr. Nelson quite well, especially when you consider the purple velvet outfit he had on while performing. He has the mannerisms down to a tee as well, from the dancing to the dry humping on the floor. As far as the voice goes, some of the songs sounded better than others, as you would guess, but he did a great catalog of hits so it was hard for me to think that someone left without hearing at least a few of the hits they know and love. Now on to the show...
Erotic City really managed to cover quite a large amount of songs, and it had a lot to do with their extra long set they had prepared. It was so long that they finished doing their first set of tracks, left to change their clothes, and came back to sing even more songs after a bit of an intermission. They covered a lot of songs that Prince did in the shows I saw: Controversy, Kiss, 1999, Let's Go Crazy, If I Was Your Girlfriend and a ton of other hits. He even had time to do "Jungle Love" by Morris Day and the Time, a song that Prince also covered in one of his shows that I saw (with Sheila E!). The thing that stood out for me for Erotic City was the songs they did that Prince didn't do. My two favorite Prince songs of all time are "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and "When Doves Cry," two amazing songs that Prince didn't do in the two times I saw him perform. Both of these songs were however, covered by Erotic City on Saturday night, much to my surprise and glee! WOOHOO! SCORE!!!!!
Erotic City didn't hold back on the more provocative and explicit Prince tracks either; they are called Erotic City after all. They did P*ssy Control, Irresistible Bitch, as well as Sexy M.F., and even found time in their busy set list to do "Darling Nikki." Clearly the kids should have been put to bed for this performance, this was Prince for the grown ups only! The band was a lot of fun as well. They have a great and talented drummer, as well as a bass player who didn't stop dancing around the stage for the entire night, in some wild and crazy hats. Their keyboard player covered a lot of the guitar solos that Prince would normally do, playing them on the keyboard of course, and giving them plenty of justice. With that said, don't think for a second that Julian didn't get in his fair share of guitar solos. As a Prince impersonator your guitar game has to be on point, and Julian is no slouch by any means, even playing the guitar behind his back and dancing during one solo, which came right after he played a bunch of riffs in a row with one hand, a la Prince. He even played his own keyboard for a few songs, but it was tuned like a keyboard, not like a guitar like the lead keyboard player. They brought out a woman to sing a couple of duets, one of which was "Nothing Compares To You," and played even past "Purple Rain" by jamming out with some funk until pretty much everyone was gone! It was a brilliant show and I would recommend seeing these guys rock if you get a chance to. This was my very first cover band I've ever seen, and now that I know that they can be this good, I will be trying to go to as many as possible!
Friday, April 8, 2011
Let me begin by saying that this is not my first John Varvatos rodeo, it's my second. The first time I went to Varvatos' now legendary shows, I was a bit further away from sober to really appreciate the acts (Tommy Stinson performed as well as The Jimmy Mclean Band, respectively), who were actually quite good. This time, even though the Heineken and Moonshine whisky were both still free, I was sober enough to pay attention to who was performing, a Texas band called The Happen-Ins.
John Varvatos on Bowery occupies the space that was formerly the long standing home of NYC live music staple CBGB's. Infact, if you go to the clothing store you will notice a few things still remain from those good old days. Varvatos, as well as EP around the corner, does everything in his power to make sure the idea behind CBGBs doesn't die: great live music. So about once a month the designer clears out the space for a big jamboree, complete with a musical act or two and a bunch of free booze. The event is free every time, and it goes off without a hitch just as frequent. Now on to the show...
The Happen-Ins are another of the many bands that I go see that I've never actually heard prior to seeing the perform, and they now go into that ever growing group of bands that I now like. These guys have an old school vintage sound, 60s rock at its finest with a touch of rockabilly. Great guitar solos and their lead singer has a voice that carries their music well. Their show was short and sweet and they even had time for an encore which I thought was pretty cool. I'm always glad to hear young artists play music that may have a sound that's years older than they are, and do it well. The show was over by 10pm (it started at around 9pm or so) and I felt like it was too soon. I wanted to hear more of their stuff. I'm a huge fan of that kind of rock music and would love to hear The Happen-Ins again sometime. You should definitely check them out if you are as well.