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.
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.
Jeff Rosenstock is a household name in the New York area, particularly in Brooklyn. Touring in support of his new record, POST—, he sold out his Warsaw date so fast that another needed to be added. In his thirties, Jeff has fans both older and younger. Teens crowded the front row, pressing their bodies against the barricade to be as close as possible. Their eyes were on the band as they set up, smiles slowly creeping up their faces and eyes widening.
Before the band made their official entrance, the Foo Fighters’ “The Best of You” boomed over the speakers with only one line on repeat: “the best.” The entire audience chorused those words at the top of their lungs, fists pumping, invisibly puncturing the air.
Tearing into “USA,” POST—‘s first full track, the mayhem immediately began.
A Jeff Rosenstock show is like one collective headbang. The crowd sways and undulates back and forth like a wave with the force of fans crowdsurfing, jumping, pushing, and shoving. Beer dribbles down chins and over the mouths of metal cans in the midst of cheers while heads furiously nod to the beat, hair swinging like violent vines. Sweat beads across foreheads, bleeding down into soaked shirts. Rosenstock himself is a direct participant, a man of nonstop movement who spends more time in the air than he does with his feet planted on the ground.
The majority of the setlist consisted of both POST— and 2016’s WORRY. Every song was sung in unison, both band and crowd uniting in perfect harmony.
Towards the end, during “We Begged 2 Explode,” Rosenstock grabbed the mic and jumped into the pit, making his way down the front row where his youngest, most elated fans were located. He was not only singing to them, but with them. Their eyes sparkled while their grins shone in the light. They were hurriedly taking selfies and videos, excitedly waiting for Rosenstock to come to their particular spot.
At one point, Rosenstock suddenly disappeared. Everyone looked at each other in confusion. From the back of the crowd, there was a lot of noise and a brief clamor, causing the audience to turn around. Rosenstock had somehow gotten to the balcony in the very back of the venue by the front doors, saxophone in hand as he began to play. The crowd roared, and did so a few moments later, when Rosenstock jumped in and joined them, surfing on the weight of their hands.
Making his exit soon after, Rosenstock left the audience wanting more. That wasn’t a problem, however; many of them, as exhibited by a show of hands, were returning to see Rosenstock again the following night.
As openers for Animal Years, they single-handedly managed to grab the attention of the entire audience at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. Not only are they talented musicians, but they’re hilarious, as well. Based on their experiences working on Wall Street, Mobile Steam Unit has crafted lyrics that hit home for anyone who’s worked in business. For those in New York City, this was an extremely relatable topic that resonated with crowd, who immediately broke into cheers when frontman Sam Huntington asked if anyone in attendance had ever worked on Wall Street.
Solemnly filing out in requisite business attire, the band began their set. Interestingly, Mobile Steam Unit has the uncanny ability to deftly span genres; they can do anything from rock to country to soul and beyond. With lyrical topics ranging from everything such as texting, Microsoft Office, and commuting, to name a few, they document the daily minutia of American life while keeping the crowd in hysterics. And during the last song of the set, Mobile Steam Unit surprised the audience by bringing out yoga dancers who tried, as best they could, to keep straight faces while striking poses throughout the song. It was an epic finish to their performance, rivaling that of Animal Years. Mobile Steam Unit is undoubtedly a tough act to follow.
Work takes up a good portion of our lives. By giving focus to this specific, and usually lamented, chore, Mobile Steam Unit has set themselves apart from other bands. By examining the workday through the lens of humor, Mobile Steam Unit is able to give rise to daily frustrations while enjoyably expelling them at the same time.