neko case @ uptown theater

neko case @ uptown theater

On Friday, May 10th, the legendary Neko Case made a fiery appearance at The Uptown Theater in Kansas City, MO. Taking the stage very casually, she wore pants with a skeleton frame on them and slowly introduced us to her set with “Pitch or Honey”. She then launched into “Bad Luck”, which had the majority of the lower level seated section on their feet for a good portion of the track. The lights glowed warmly behind Case, making it look as though she had a true halo around her head. Her on stage cohorts – all basked in a warm glow – seemed to be no less than thrilled to be performing with her, and we can’t say we’re surprised.

After experiencing Case for the first time at 2018’s Sasquatch Music Festival – I know, where have I been? -, I was concerned that the performance might not ignite the level of magic that seemed to seep up from the canyon at the venue in Washington last year. But Case has an aura about her that far exceeds the surrounding environment. And – in any case (no pun intended, truly) – The Uptown Theater provides an ambiance that feels unique to Case’s brand of performance style. It was a night made in heaven.

Our hearts melted the moment the first chords of seventh song of the evening – “Maybe Sparrow” – hit the air. That song and the accompanying level of shaken you feel after experiencing it live truly attest to Case’s magnetic nature. And, of course, nothing left the room more energized than when she pulled “Train From Kansas City” out of her back pocket as the second of three encore tracks. If nothing else, this city is known for its appreciation of the wealth of music and culture it inspires and is mentioned in. Forever, we will appreciate her for that nod to what was once a flyover city.

Case’s sound can only be categorized as the perfect blend of nature and otherworldly, enigmatic energy. To have the pleasure of enjoying it live will leave a mark on your soul, no matter the night of the week. Though it DOES help that it was a Friday night experience, as we had the remainder of the weekend to really digest it all.

Keep up with Neko Case here.

upsahl @ riot room

upsahl @ riot room

If you haven’t witnessed UPSAHL live, now is the perfect time. This female act is about to be major, and if her recorded music is not already any indication of that, then her live performance is absolute proof. And we couldn’t have thought of anyone better to open Max Frost’s show at The Riot Room on Monday, March 11th.

Rolling through . And during “All My Friends Are Rich”, you could tell the entire crowd was identifying with the lyrics in some way or another. (Hi. Yes. “Now where in the hell is my money?”) In fact, we were thrilled to see her perform any of the tracks off of her new Hindsight 20/20 EP, as it is such a vulnerable and theatrical work of art. Lucky us, UPSAHL’s vocals are just as raspy and enticing in real life as they are recorded, so her entire performance felt as though we were inside the EP itself. Not to mention, “Drugs” gave us all the confidence.

We walked away from that set to the bar like the badasses we had always dreamt of being, and we owe it all to an evening of fun with UPSAHL.

Keep up with the artist here.

larkin poe and a packed house @ knuckleheads saloon

larkin poe and a packed house @ knuckleheads saloon

I stumbled upon Larkin Poe in late 2016. I was on a YouTube music spree, as one will occasionally do, and they happened to pop up in my “Up Next” column. It was a Jam in the Van video of the song Jailbreak. The video had been posted in 2014 so it was roughly 2 and half years old by the time I found it. The song had a good pop to it and both Rebecca and Meghan had a good energy for the song. After the video ended, I began to dig into more of their stuff, Don’t, Sugar High, Stubborn Love and Trouble in Mind. Every song I listened to was solid, but the studio recordings lacked that something that separates music you throw on in the back ground from music you throw on to really listen to.

Flash forward to the Garage at Knuckleheads Saloon on a Monday night. I was unsure of the following that Larkin Poe would have, especially with it being a Monday night, in December, in Kansas City Missouri. We got to the venue 20 minutes before the opener was scheduled. I assumed this would be plenty of time to grab a seat, grab a drink and talk before the show started. What’s that they say about assumptions? The venue was packed. We were fortunate enough to find a couple lonesome bar stools in the corner. Other than those, it was standing room only.

It’s important to point out the composition of the crowd for this event. There were plenty of adults in attendance and the usual crowd that seems to attend Knuckleheads religiously, regardless of what type of artist or music it being played. The best part about the crowd for me were the parents that brought their kids with them. Live music is an important thing to support and it’s even better when the band is on fire like Larkin Poe was that night.

When Larkin Poe took the stage, I immediately understood why the place had sold out. The energy they brought with them left the crowd with one option, buckle up and enjoy the ride. Their opening song “Summertime Sunset” brought the house down and it only got better from there. Meghan’s slide guitar outro for Look Away was a good for lesson for any guitar player in patience, tone and control. Rebecca’s vocals have gotten stronger and more confident since I first heard her, and the entire concert was a showcase for that talent.

The show was refreshing and genuine and as a soon to be father of a daughter, it was awesome to see two sisters absolutely dominating the stage. I cannot wait for them to come back around or anywhere close, I will be dragging my friends and most likely a certain family member, you know who you are, to see them again.

Keep up with Larkin Poe here.

frozen nation @ musée d’art fantastique

frozen nation @ musée d’art fantastique

Arriving at the venue I didn’t know what to expect, I was very familiar with Frozen Nation’s music.  I should be, Alteria Anarchy was the first radio show to air Frozen Nation’s first single I Failed for you and I was the first journalist ever to interview them.  I had become very good friends with Idris but this is the first time I would have met him in the flesh. The venue itself was a very artistic place, one side where the music happened and the other a very arty bar.  

The first person who I met and recognised was Moss, the frontman of Frozen Nation.  A tall handsome man who when I said Moss I’m Phill his face lit up and I was greeted with a big hug for a welcome.  Frozen Nation are one of the very few bands I have a very close affinity to, a band like only a couple more that I have seen grow and followed.  It felt like meeting someone I have known all my life but yet I was meeting in the flesh for the first time. After Moss greeted me he introduced me firstly to my great friend Idris of whom again I was met with a big hug and a smile, then to Dorian of whom I had never actually spoken to but yet he like Moss and Idris just seemed like part of my extended family.

As the night rolled on Idris, Moss and Dorian were there making sure we had a great night.  They introduced us to people and the whole air of the gig was very much a personal one, to say we were made welcome is truly the understatement.  It was a perfect night with great friends, but to my honour my great friends were also the headline band. Dorian chatted to me and told me the very intricacies of the music and told me stories of Elvis.  Me being a Jethro Tull fan I was wowed by this.

Swan Death came on and they were very Goth Rock in style, their style mixed with their visuals blended well and was a great opening act.

Perverted By Language had more an attitude, slightly punkish and again really great live.

But I was waiting, waiting to see my friends, the headline band.  The lights were dim and then the music started and so did the visuals in the background.  As the music began the crowd just started to move. I had listened to Dark Belgian Disco so many times so when I heard Genghis Khan my body also started to instinctively move, the music just put you under a spell and you just couldn’t help yourself.  Then in the background the silver spinning disco ball led to the title track of Frozen Nation’s album, Dark Belgian Disco which was played with perfection.

I personally was waiting for one song, the song that has been on my alarm since the first day I heard it.  The song people have heard so much on Alteria Anarchy, my favourite song. And as I heard the start of I Failed For You, Idris shouted “This is for you Phill”, to say this was a true honour was an understatement.  One of my favourite bands, my friends, dedicate my favourite song to me was just unbelievable. I couldn’t help myself move and then following I Failed For You was Come On To The Ride which is another song that is just so funky with such a great feeling.

As they played more yet another familiar favourite played, Give Me The Perfect Song.  I was singing and dancing, I just couldn’t stop myself and neither could the people at the gig.  Then followed Alone In Berlin, I couldn’t believe just how much perfection had been given to us. I love the sound of Frozen Nation, it’s just pure and funky.  Dark but yet the lights shinning from that disco ball just shine brightly.

The night ended and I couldn’t thank Idris, Moss and Dorian enough.  We had a long day so that’s where the night ended for me, but that’s not where this story ends.

The day after we met Frozen Nation, they took us to this amazing Belgian restaurant and treated us to lunch and beer.  We just chatted more about the music of Frozen Nation. Dorian, Idris and Moss were just so passionate about their music and from what I heard & felt from the gig it shows.  The guys spoke and Dorian said “Would you like to see our studio, would you like to meet Elvis?”, how could I refuse? After a pleasant walk through the streets of Brussels with the guys showing us the wonderful sights and telling us the stories and folklore of where we were walking we arrived at the studio.  I was in awe, all the old analogue equipment that gave Frozen Nation their unique and wonderful sound. Dorian showed me where they record and how they do it, then in a smaller noise proofed room there he was there was Elvis. Dorian told me how they use him and how he is just like a person and the stories that made him feel that way.  

We sat and chatted more, Idris and Dorian stayed in the studio to do a little work and Moss took us for a beer before we had to leave.  Big hugs from Idris and Dorian, I felt sad in a way as I was leaving two of my close friends. We left for the pub with Moss. Nice beer too, traditional Belgian beer.  Well you can’t go to Brussels without tasting the amazing beer now can you? As the time came close that we had to leave to come home Moss even walked with us to the tram station.  We bought tickets and with one last hug from my friend Moss we were on our way.

The whole experience is one I will never forget, Frozen Nation themselves and the wonderful city of Brussels.  I cannot thank my friends Idris, Moss and Dorian for an amazing weekend and for the amazing music. Thank you for letting me introduce the world to that wonderful Dark Belgian Disco sound and also for your friendship.  

Frozen Nation we will be back, thank you.

___

by: Phill Bruce

greg holden @ irving plaza

greg holden @ irving plaza

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Greg Holden made his return to New York City on September 23rd. Opening for Butch Walker, who produced his single, “On The Run,” Holden’s performance was like a homecoming. It’s a rare thing for an opener, especially one singularly armed with an acoustic guitar, to hush Irving Plaza from front to back, but Holden managed to wield this uncanny power with effortless ability.

When Holden first emerged from the side of the stage, the crowd’s vigorous, impassioned applause was astonishing. He strolled out with an unassuming, quiet confidence and began strumming as the audience quickly fell silent. As his 7-song set kicked off, Holden was oftentimes chatty between songs, lending an affable familiarity with a room of people whom he’d never met, treating them like valued friends. Constantly encouraging the crowd to sing and clap during parts of his songs, Holden’s set was interactive, a joint, group effort.

On “Home,” Holden issued a command for the audience to stop their feet in time to the beat. In turn, he received an eager assent as the stomps echoed throughout the venue and shook the floor. Holden’s newest track, “The Power Shift,” was prefaced by a quick lament, noting Donald Trump was currently in the city. The audience loudly booed, prompting Holden to launch into this political song, calling others to recognize the link between power and inequality, and one that was more than well-received in New York City.

“Boys In The Streets,” arguably Holden’s most moving song, showcases his lyrical prowess, one that is omnipresent throughout his work. Telling the story of a father struggling with his son’s sexuality, it’s only on his deathbed that he makes a confession: his intolerance was due to what he was taught growing up. He finally understands and encourages his son to be himself. Holden’s live performance evoked the pathos and pain of both son and father, and cheers went through the crowd as Holden reached the uplifting conclusion.

Lastly, Holden performed “Hold On Tight,” a triumphant, empowering song that bursts into a big, gleeful chorus as he sang an urgent warning: “don’t take your life for granted.”

It was an awe-inspiring set from a seasoned musician, one who will no doubt be back to New York City in the future.

darryl rahn @ rockwood music hall

darryl rahn @ rockwood music hall

Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan’s Lower East Side was packed to the brim on September 1st. Darryl Rahn took the stage to support the release of his latest album entitled Making Strangers. Darryl’s personality and demeanor lend him a unconscious honesty, and his stage show is saturated in it. From the heartfelt opener “The Grey” it was an almost effortless captivation.

Darryl switched between playing with a full band behind him and going it alone with just an acoustic guitar. The standout from the unaccompanied portion seemed to “Reason To Run”. The crowd hung on the emotion of the lyrics and finger picked melody. It isn’t often that a palpable room-wide reaction to a performer can be spotted, especially on the Lower East Side where everyone is seemingly already over the next big thing. Darryl finds a way to connect through his songwriting its just folk enough to mean something more than a pop song, and its just pop enough to get put on a subconscious loop the following day. You can check out all the songs mentioned and keep up with Darryl’s socials via the links below.

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