Frontman James Alex of Beach Slang brought his stripped-down project, Quiet Slang, to Brooklyn’s Rough Trade on July 9th.
It was a rainy Monday evening, and the show had been rescheduled from a prior date. Given those conditions, Alex was unsure, as he relayed to the audience between songs, how many people would show up. However, those concerns proved to be unfounded as the room was filled with fans hanging on every word.
Unlike Beach Slang shows, which are loud, clamorous, and brash, Quiet Slang is another entity entirely. As heard on Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, Quiet Slang’s debut LP, Alex has taken his work with Beach Slang and reimagined it, doing away with its thrashing, thunderous elements. Instead, Alex takes a sparse, orchestral approach: cello and piano, paired with his gritty vocals, give these formerly driving punk songs space to breathe, resurrecting them with new, balladic life.
This was reflected decoratively, as well. The stage set its own scene with flowers and strings of white lights with makeshift cotton clouds hanging in the distance. The rest of the venue was pitch-black save for a projector screen playing images of ballet dancers. Moving through the set, Alex was all heart from his honest vocals and earnest speeches of appreciation, thanking his fans over and over.
Quiet or loud, Alex delivered his audience an unforgettable night.
On July 11th, TOMI rocked The Mercury Lounge.
Filing in through the front door, the immediate rush of air conditioning was a relief on such a muggy summer evening. Fans made their way first to the bar, then into the stage area, filling the room. As TOMI walked through the crowd, cheers rippled through the audience, making their way from back to front. A magnetic performer, TOMI took possession of the room from the very first note, packing an almost unprecedented power into her wide-ranging vocals. Her music provides the perfect combination of rock and pop: some songs led the audience to dance, others to head-banging. The joy and abandon in the air was just as palpable as the outside heat, and radiated off the talkative TOMI, who spent time in-between songs sharing the stories behind them. Some of these were heartbreaking; she spoke of crying in a locker room at a yoga studio after a breakup, and a former friend suffering from addiction (she doesn’t think he ever heard the song she wrote about him, but she hopes he does at some point and recognizes it). Then, of course, there were some funnier ones, such as working a day job as a secretary in which she had to smile all the time. For her very last song, she delighted the crowd by debuting a new, sparkly guitar named Pam.
It’s clear that for TOMI, the Mercury Lounge and her latest EP, What Kind of Love, is only the beginning.
Ciaran Lavery, an Irish singer/songwriter, performed an intimate solo set at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall on June 22nd.
Playing to a small, darkened room, a reverent silence took hold of the audience the moment Lavery began his first song. Switching back and forth between acoustic guitar and piano, his sparse accompaniments allowed his gentle, hushed voice to soar. With introspective, narrative lyrics, Lavery is a poetic storyteller. His ballads pull at your heartstrings, his words run the gamut of emotional experience. As a performer, he makes meaningful eye contact with each member of his audience, drawing his listeners further into his world.
In-between songs, Lavery continued his stories, revealing his sense of humor. Speaking of nervousness on an airplane, he once tried to relax by watching, as a dog lover, Marley and Me. He wasn’t, however, aware of the ending. Lavery also had a revelation while listening to the radio on a long drive, attempting to figure out the meaning of the genre “soft rock.” With a creeping sense of dread, he put it together: he is soft rock. Lavery easily pulled laughs from his listeners’ throats as he framed simple, universal experiences as ones of casual mirth.
More info about Lavery can be found here.
On June 21st, Aimee Mann and Superchunk entertained a large crowd at the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in New York. Photographer Christie McMenamin was on hand, and captured some stunning photos for us.
Slenderbodies headlined Brooklyn’s Rough Trade on May 7th. The indie/electronic guitar duo, made up of Ben and Max, were met with success quite quickly, scoring opening slots for both Passion Pit and PVRIS. For anyone who’s listened to Slenderbodies, it’s not much of a surprise. Not only is their guitar work deeply intricate, boasting a trademark wispiness that sets them apart from their peers, but they also sing, write, mix, and produce all their tracks. They fully own and control their creativity without anyone else interfering. It’s a rare feat in the music business, one that Slenderbodies deftly navigates with a seeming effortlessness.
Setting the mood prior to their set, two large lava lamps were placed to the right and left of the stage while a scarf swirled around a mic stand. The room was packed, and as Slenderbodies began to play in the near-darkness, the audience swayed and danced as the music gently wafted through the air. The only light came from brightly-colored, psychedelic graphics floating across a projector screen behind the band. The atmosphere was relaxing and peaceful; Slenderbodies delivered their fans a perfect ending to a Monday night.
Slenderbodies has a new LP coming out mid-late summer. Check out their latest single, “Anome,” here and for more Slenderbodies music, including a cover of MGMT’s “Electric Feel,” check out their Soundcloud here.