Archive for the Concerts Category

James Blake @ Terminal 5, NYC – 11/6/2013

Posted in Concerts, OurVinyl, Photography on November 11, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

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It feels like just yesterday that James Blake was an artist on the verge of breaking out. His self-titled debut album was released in early 2011 and garnered him a lot of attention and critical praise. Relentless touring and continuous release of new material helped Blake maintain his momentum leading to the release of his follow up album, Overgrown, in early 2013. In Overgrown, Blake’s sound continued to evolve and expand, and with it his comfort and prowess in the studio grew as well. Just recently, this album was awarded the prestigious Mercury Prize which is awarded to the best album from the United Kingdom. At just 25 years young, James Blake has had quite the career so far, and those present at his live concert can attest to the fact that this is simply the beginning of it.

Wednesday night, James Blake played his first of two packed concerts at New York City’s Terminal 5. Blake is certainly no stranger to New York as he has made several trips across the pond, including his first ever U.S. gig shortly after the release of his debut album. He has since moved on from the smaller sized venues such as Music Hall of Williamsburg and Bowery Ballroom to the “cavernous hole,” as James described it that is Terminal 5. While his concerts may not be in the intimate settings that they were a few years ago, Blake’s ability to connect with the audience has more than made up for it. The 3,000 or so people in attendance were all transfixed on every sound that came from Blake.

Every time James Blake has graced a New York City stage, he has appeared more and more comfortable. He even made reference to the familiar faces he has seen from his previous shows in the area.  With just two other musicians joining him and a minimal set design, the large stage seemed somewhat empty, but the sound that emanated easily filled Terminal 5. The set started off with “I Never Learnt to Share” off of Blake’s self-titled debut. Starting very quietly with the refrain “My brother and my sister don’t speak to me, but I don’t blame them”,  the synthesizer continues to build up as a kick drum provides rhythm in sync with the pulsing lights. By the time this song reaches its crescendo, everybody in the room was engulfed in light, a stark contrast to the dim ambiance during the first few notes.


“Life Round Here” was the second track that Blake and company would play. With the sound of the synthesizer swirling around the crowd, it was very clear how much Blake has elevated his live show. When at one of his concerts, the music has a way of engulfing the audience. During the quieter moments, such as “Our Love Comes Back” and Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” and  Blake has complete control of the crowd as they watch on in silence. Meanwhile, some of the more exploratory songs, such as “Digital Lion,” “Voyeur,” and “CMYK” would turn the atmosphere into a frenzied dance party.

When crowd favorite “Limit to Your Love” was played, both of the aforementioned attributes were evident in the same song. This Feist cover, which was Blake’s breakout hit off of his debut album, greatly captures his musical range. His falsetto voice is at full force on this track, while at the same time a loop of the same vocals with digital effects can be heard under it. The song starts off as a gentle piano ballad, but builds in time you hear a booming bass reverberating and drawing you in even further.

“Retrograde” was another highlight of the evening. This track too begins slowly, with Blake providing a gentle hum for the first minute or so that continues to loop as the lyrics come in. Once the phrase “Suddenly I’m Hit” is sung in the second verse, a buzzing synthesizer note is played which persists for the entire verse until the humming once again overtakes it. A lot of the power in his music is derived from the simplicity. Many of his songs feature sparse lyrics and rely on looping certain phrases, but this use of repetition accompanied by basic rhythms help reinforce the songs and make them resonate within the heads of the listeners.

“The Wilhelm Scream” was another highlight of the evening and was used to close out the 90 minute set. When Blake and his two band members left the stage, the crowd was louder than they had been all evening, screaming for more. Fortunately, James Blake obliged and came out alone for the gospel-tinged “Measurements.” Everybody in the audience quickly became quiet once more as Blake continued to loop his vocals and create a choir composed of his own voice accompanied by nothing more than keyboard.

“The Wilhelm Scream” was another highlight of the evening and was used to close out the 90 minute set. When Blake and his two band members left the stage, the crowd was louder than they had been all evening, screaming for more. Fortunately, James Blake obliged and came out alone for the gospel-tinged “Measurements.” Everybody in the audience quickly became quiet once more as Blake continued to loop his vocals and create a choir composed of his own voice accompanied by nothing more than keyboard.

What James Blake has done since arriving in the music scene is nothing short of impressive. While the “cavernous hole” that is Terminal 5 may appear as a daunting space, the 25 year old Londoner, has had no trouble filling it. As his sound continues to grow, perhaps some of the venues he performs at will as well, but for now we can not doubt Blake’s comfort on this stage. He will be performing throughout North America for the remainder of November before embarking on a string of tour dates in Asia in 2014. Be sure to catch him when he plays nearby next. Below are some more images from Terminal 5 to get you excited. . .
















A Review of Governors Ball 2013

Posted in Concerts, Events, New York City, OurVinyl, Photography on June 24, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

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As the public’s appetite for music festivals continues to grow, we are finding more of these music-based events popping up than ever before. Additionally, many established festivals have expanded both in size and duration, some even moving to two weekends in order to be able to accommodate as many people as possible. As this trend continues, an important question is raised – is bigger always better? 

governors ball 2013 review

After two very successful summers of steady growth,Governors Ball took a massive leap this year when they expanded to a full 3 days of music, from 2 in 2012 and 1 in 2011. Not only did the festival increase in duration, but the size of the site on Randall’s Island, which is nestled in the East River between Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens, increased significantly – now accommodating 4 main stages. To cap it off, Founders Entertainment booked one of the better lineups of the festival season, booking quality acts from top to bottom.

Somewhere in there however, the original spirit from which the festival was established became lost. Governors Ball had originally prided itself on the fact that it contained no over-lapping sets and that it was relatively easy to catch all of the acts that were present. After looking at the stellar lineup upon it’s initial release, fans who had previously attended Governors Ball had to be salivating at the chance to see all of these artists.

While the headliners listed in the lineup carry much appeal, the strength of this overall lineup comes from it’s depth. Looking at some of the top draws from previous years, many of these acts would likely be in the middle of the pack in the 2013 lineup. Additionally, genres were more balanced throughout the whole weekend this year whereas last year had two days with distinct feels with one day heavily represented by electronic acts such as Passion Pit, Duck Sauce and Chromeo and the second day featuring established indie rock acts like Beck, Modest Mouse, and Fiona Apple. There was a tangible difference in the crowds between both days last year, but looking at the 2013 lineup, each day contains a number of different music types with something for everybody.

Tickets sold for this year quicker than ever with many of the days selling out well in advance. The prospect of seeing all of these bands in the same weekend is pretty great and is ultimately the main draw of the festival. This year however, Governors Ball was much different than the previous two with a park site that was almost doubled and stages now featuring performances at the same time. Kings of Leon vs Pretty Lights. Guns n’ Roses vs Nas. Thievery Corporation vs Animal Collective. Kendrick Lamar vs Cut Copy. Grizzly Bear vs the Lumineers. The xx vs Bloc Party. Kanye West vs. the Avett Brothers. These were just some of the many conflicts that people would have to figure before setting out. Of course, these aren’t the worst problems in the world and typically there is no wrong answer, but these kind of decisions simply did not exist in years past.


Another major difference from years past was the weather; Governors Ball has had pretty great fortune before 2013 with two perfect summer weekends in 2011 and 2012. As the week leading up to this year’s festival rolled on, it became a certainty that New York City would feel the wrath of Tropical Storm Andrea as the storm crept up the coast. Friday was one of the wettest days in recent history, continually dumping rain all over the tri-state area all throughout the day. As the day turned into the evening, the rain became even worse and was joined by heavy winds. Many people came late to the festival on Friday due to work or travel hoping to catch a glimpse of headliners such as Kings of Leon or Pretty Lights. Instead, what they found was that Randalls Island had turned into several gigantic lakes. It was impossible to avoid the murky water by the evening and several acts were cut short before finally canceling the final performances of the day. Disappointed fans streamed towards the exits all at once making it take longer than usual to leave the island and ultimately leaving a bad taste on the mouths of many. Founders Entertainment, the organizers of Governors Ball, quickly managed to do all in their power to make things right though. It was announced on Saturday morning that all Friday ticket holders would be admitted to the festival on Saturday and after shuffling much of the schedule, room was found for an early evening performance for Kings of Leon.

While it was a great relief to see the sun out Saturday morning, festival goers were soon to find out that they were not in the clear yet when it came to harsh conditions. The lakes that formed all over the site had now turned into muddy patches. Often times when you stepped your feet were in mud well over your ankles and it was a common site to find sandals and other loose shoes either buried in the mess or in trash cans. Traversing the site now understandably took much more effort and time than previous years when people flowed seamlessly from stage to stage. People tended to gather around and on the hard flooring that was laid down and fortunately there was a considerable amount of solid ground in front of the Governors Ball stage which hosted all of the headliners and several other major acts throughout the weekend.


One of the first stand out acts that we were able to catch on the Governors Ball stage were the Divine Fits. This indie ‘supergroup,’ which consists of Spoon’s Britt Daniels, Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner and Sam Brown from New Bomb Turks, released one of the most complete albums of 2012 in A Thing Called Divine Fits. A few new tracks were just released, and it’s great to see that the band is still going strong even while there is rumored activity for some of the bandmate’s other projects looming on the horizon. Their live show is just as tight as the album and each note and lyric has a tremendous amount of purpose. A crowd continued to amass around the stage as they played much of their original material both old and new as well as some choice covers such as Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky” and Frank Ocean’s “Lost.”

A few hours later on that same stage came Kings of Leon, rescheduled from the night before. To see a a headlining band such as KoL at 6:45 seemed a little out of place, but they seemed just as excited that they got to play as everybody else in the crowd. Other than apologizing for being “21 hours late”, as Caleb Followill quipped, there was very little banter as the band tried to fit as much into their 75 minute set as possible. They used this set as a chance to introduce several new tracks as well as playing tracks pretty evenly dispersed from their other albums. Towards the end of the set, the hits poured out one after another with “Use Somebody,” “Closer,” and “Sex on Fire” all played consecutively. With a new album on the horizon, the Kings of Leon were very glad to have had the chance to perform in front of the NYC crowd, even if it was a little sunnier than they expected it to be during their headlining set planned for the previous night.

The crowd that had gathered for the Kings of Leon swelled even more as the sun actually set. Guns N’ Roses began loading up on the main stage and they were certainly most happy that they did not have a daytime performance. Their entire set was filled with fireworks and explosions and was as 80′s rock and roll as you could imagine. When they were initially announced as the headliner for Saturday, many knew not what to think of the decision. Decades after their peak and with only one original member left in the band, many had tempered their expectations. Shortly into the set, however, Axl Rose asked the crowd “Do you know where you are?” and with that everybody in attendance went crazy.

It’s safe to say that Appetite for Destruction was released before a large chunk of the crowd was even born. For so many to be seeing these hits that they’ve been hearing their whole life was pretty phenomenal, and GNR proved why they are one of the most legendary rock bands of all time. Axl Rose commanded the entire crowd with his swagger and strut and was still able to hit all of the shrill screams and notes ever present in their catalog. All of the hits such were touched upon with a healthy dose of (relatively) new material from Chinese Democracy. A fireworks filled rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” was one of the standouts and perhaps a tribute to the Beatle who was playing nearby that night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. When Rose needed some rest from all his movement, he took to the piano for an extended intro to “November Rain” which displayed the versatility of the whole band. Their performance capped off a great day of music and certainly left people leaving on a much higher note than they had just 24 hours ago when the event was washed away.

axl rose governors ball 2013 review

The muddy fields were still present on Sunday but it seems like people were much more aware of what they were getting into. You saw fewer sandals as people took Governors Ball as an opportunity to clear out their closets of a pair of sneakers that they no longer desire in the case that they didn’t own rain boots. With another stacked lineup throughout the entire day, the entire festival seemed packed all of Sunday. Gary Clark Jr. pleased the fans with a sunny set of blues while on the other side of the festival Yeasayer had people in an afternoon dancing frenzy.

The Lumineers, who exploded onto the music scene with their self-titled debut album a year ago, were a huge draw and helped mix up the genres present at Governors Ball even  more with some folk. Their hit single “Ho Hey” erupted into a giant sing a long that had everyone at the Honda Stage swaying along. On the opposite side of the field at the You’re Doing Great Stage, the xx were gearing up for their set during the last few hours of sunlight. The minimalist sounds from the trio on stage continued to sweep over the fields providing a haunting soundtrack to the sun setting behind us. At the same time, Bloc Party were commanding a muddy dance party as the final act in the Skyy Vodka Tent.


The main draw for Sunday, and for many the entire weekend, was Kanye West. The controversial rapper, who is known almost as much for his antics and tabloid appearances as he is his music, recently announced that he has a new album (that came out June 18th), which is called Yeezus. He has also released a few new tracks and Governors Ball proved the perfect testing ground for his new sound. It also happened to be the perfect venue for him to celebrate his own birthday which was on Sunday as well.

His set opened up with pounding percussion and flashing lights for his new song “Black Skinhead.” As the title implies, the song is a very aggressive song featuring as much screaming as singing from West. Yeezy continued with new tracks, playing “New Slaves” in front of a gigantic screen zoomed in on his face in black and white. His style for the new songs is much different than previous albums, relying much more on rhythm and electronic beats and the vocals seem to come at you a lot harsher than previous albums. Barking dogs and images of hooded klansmen flashed by on the screen reinforcing the tones that are present in these tracks. Another new track had Kanye proclaiming “I am a God” over throbbing techno beats. Clearly, Kanye is not trying to shy away from the controversial. “Honestly, when I listen to the radio, I don’t wanna be there no more. I don’t give a fuck about outside opinions” he stated at one point Sunday night and after hearing some of the new tracks we could most certainly agree with him.

That’s not to say that Mr. West is completely avoiding the hits now. Popular tracks from all of his albums were touched upon, such as the recent “Mercy” off the GOOD Music compilation Cruel Summer, “Power” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, “Heartless” from 808s and Heartbreaks, and “Jesus Walks” from College Dropout. Many of these songs seemed to have adapted to some of the new styling present in Yeezus and were delivered with more powerful beats and shouting from Kanye as he breathes new life into his classics. West closed out his 100 minute set in a grand fashion performing “Stronger,” a rap remix of Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” an extended “Runaway,” and a reprise of “Black Skinhead.” As people flooded out of Randalls Island after his set, they certainly left eager to see what’s in store with this new album.

While the tropical rain and mud fields quickly come to mind when thinking of Governors Ball 2013, they are overshadowed by some spectacular performances from artists spanning all generations and genres. This festival took a tremendous leap this year in terms of scale as well as where it stands when compared to festivals across the country. You must give Governors Ball a lot of credit for being so ambitious, and hopefully it continues to evolve into a permanent institution in New York City. You can click here to view some more photos from the entire weekend.

Here’s to a sunny and mud-free Governors Ball in 2014!

Written By Jesse Zryb

A Review of the Great Googa Mooga 2013

Posted in Concerts, Events, Music, New York City, OurVinyl, Photography, Review on May 28, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

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Last year, the first Great Googa Mooga touched down upon Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with the hope to establish a new tradition – an annual celebration of food and music in the grassy expanses of the Nethermeads and an escape from the bustling city beyond the trees. The two day festival was blessed with cloudless skies and summer-like temperatures months ahead of schedule in its first year. Throngs of people came out with voracious appetites, perhaps more than anyone could have imagined for the inaugural Googa Mooga. The demand for food and drink outweighed the supply and long lines became the norm throughout the weekend. If you got there early or simply had patience than you were treated to a smorgasbord of delights, however there was much negative backlash, much of it directed at the food ticketing process and the VIP amenities (or lack thereof). By the second day of the festival in 2012, many of the kinks had been worked out to some extent, and those in attendance were treated to a stellar lineup of music to go with their food, capped off by a headlining set by Hall and Oates that had people of all generations dancing along.

great googa mooga 2013 review

Superfly Presents, the organizers of Googa Mooga and the same folks that brought us Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, were listening closely to what people had to say about the first year and did their best to make amends by refunding over $1 million to everybody who purchased tickets to the VIP experience. They vowed to return bigger and better and last week we saw the 2013 vision of Googa Mooga come to life. In addition to the free tickets that were distributed via lottery system for Saturday and Sunday, tickets were now offered at a reasonable price for a Friday concert which included bigger music acts such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Flaming Lips, and the Darkness. Food vendors were much more prepared for the hungry hordes ready to be fed and all food vendors now accepted cash rather than the ticketing system from last year, ultimately keeping lines moving much quicker. With Friday off to a great start and many of the flaws from the previous year worked out, it seemed as if Googa Mooga was on it’s way to a great 2013 – at least until Mother Nature decided to weigh in. With a forecast that seemingly changed for the worse by the minute festival goers that were expecting some sun on Saturday instead had to endure some light rain and chillier than expected temperatures. Those who made it out to Prospect Park on Sunday must have been even more disappointed when the festival was prematurely closed before noon due to persistent rain and despite being a ‘Rain or Shine’ event.

While it is unfortunate that we were deprived of one day of Googa Mooga, we still had plenty of time to take it all in. We were there on Saturday, May 18th for a full day of food, drink, and fun. Those who made it early on were fortunate enough to catch Lee Fields & the Expressions who opened up on the Nethermead Stage at 11:3o am. The R&B music that drifted through the trees made it easy to find the festival site in the middle of Prospect Park as many continued to arrive. It was difficult to pull yourself away from the tunes and find your first meal of the day, fortunately many of the vendors were aligned on both sides of the main stage. Over 85 top restaurants were represented, each serving something special.

There is no doubt about it, food is the main attraction at Googa Mooga. At no point was this more apparent than in the afternoon, when people first became acquainted with the festival site and found the restaurant stalls of their choice. A very helpful mobile app was released weeks before Googa Mooga allowing people to view all of the vendors as well as a description of their menu and prices. With so many New York staples as well as a few choice out of town selections such as L.A.’s Umami Burger and New Orleans’ Crawfish Monica it was important to familiarize yourself with the layout of the festival in order to make the best meal decisions possible. Having a few friends on hand to share with also made it much easier to spread yourself across the grounds.

great googa mooga 2013 review

Many came with blankets and claimed their spots on the great lawn early on. Walking through the fields you couldn’t help but stop and talk to strangers typically resulting in the questions “what is that?”, and “where did you get that?.” The other thing you couldn’t help but notice at this festival were the kids. Many young families could be spotted throughout the Googa Mooga. Unlike many other festivals, kids are encouraged here and there proved to be several diversions such as an arts and crafts area, lawn games, and even some fresh mud to play in. Throughout the afternoon, artists such as Sharon Von Etten and Father John Misty continued to provide music to please the crowd at the Nethermead Stage as a light rain continued to pass over.

great googa mooga 2013 review

On the opposite side of the festival grounds stood the Joe’s Pub Stage shuffled between appearances and talks with celebrated chefs and musical performances. This back area by Joe’s Pub included even more food vendors as well as a more intimate setting to gather around. A distinctly New Orleans feel fell upon Googa Mooga at 2:15. Jon Batiste & Stay Human took the stage at this stage and the Crescent City native mixed in a number of NOLA standards as well as other material to help create a very festive scene. People wouldn’t allow the rain to dampen their fun, and you could find umbrellas bobbing up and down throughout the set. Not long after this set started you could hear brass music coming from the nearby American Express Tent. Not only did this tent provide a dry shelter, but it also served as host to giveaways, food and drink demonstrations and performances. The Soul Rebels moved the New Orleans party to the tent when they took to the stage there. The tent had already been packed with people seeking refuge from the rain, after the 8 piece brass band came on you could feel the ground underneath you shaking in delight.

great googa mooga 2013 review

Another interesting feature from Googa Mooga this year was the Renaissance Fair which was tucked behind the Nethermeads Stage. After passing through a section of overgrown trees which provided a forest like backdrop it was as if you had stepped back in time 800 years. And they were playing Daft Punk. Dozens of people were outfitted in medieval clothing as DJ’s continued to create a unique party atmosphere complete with sword fights and guillotines. Being situated near meats on sticks certainly helped lend to the feeling as well.

Back on the Nethermead stage a crowd was gathering for Italian Superstar, Jovanotti. The singer/rapper had plenty of fans very excited and you can find many peoplesinging along in his native tongue. Even for those who couldn’t understand the meaning of the words coming from his mouth, there was much to enjoy as the music spanned all types of genres and styles. Jovanotti was followed by Brooklyn natives Matt & Kim who were clearly excited to be headlining the day’s festivities in front of the New York crowd. A tremendous amount of energy is poured into each one of their shows as they mix in all of their hits with other party songs such as “Better Off Alone” and “Let Me Clear My Throat.”


If Saturday night were to have been the conclusion of the festival, we would have had mostly great things to say about Googa Mooga 2013. Unfortunately, a whole other day of festivities was scheduled for Sunday. Kool & the Gang, De La Soul, the Cults, members of LCD Soundsystem, and more were all slated to perform. Despite an even wetter forecast than previous days, plenty of people still showed up at the opening hours of the festival only to find that they were being held at the gates.

An announcement was made shortly after noon through Googa Mooga’s social media outlets saying that the decision had been made to cancel the remainder of the festival. It was clear to the people on the grounds at Prospect Park that many improvements had been made from the previous year. Unfortunately many people who were only attending on Sunday were unable to see them. While the weather is something that is completely out of the hands of any festival organizer, better means of communication could have been used; hopefully this will be another learning point for the future.


Click here to view our photo-gallery from the Great Googa Mooga.

By Jesse Zryb

OurVinyl | Senior Writer & Photographer

Phoenix @ the Apollo Theater (5/13/2013)

Posted in Concerts, Events, Music, New York City, OurVinyl, Photography on May 14, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

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Crossing Brooklyn Ferry 2013

Posted in Concerts, Events, Music, New York City, OurVinyl, Review on May 6, 2013 by Jesse Zryb

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Last year the Dessner brothers of the National curated the first ever Crossing Brooklyn Ferry with a vision to create a festival as eclectic as the borough which they call home. Not only would Crossing Brooklyn Ferry offer a diverse range of homegrown music, but it would offer a number of performance spaces within the gorgeous Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) that each have their own unique characteristics and charm. These three days of performances are as much a celebration of Brooklyn as they are a music festival.

This past weekend Crossing Brooklyn Ferry returned to BAM with an even more eclectic offering of musical genres including punk, rock, hip-hop, funk, jazz and more. A solid selection of notable headliners and buzz-worthy bands littered the line-up including acts such as the Roots, Solange Knowles, TV on the Radio, Phosphorescent, Antibalas, Japanther and many more. The real star of the weekend however would have to be the venue itself. Performances were held within the modern Rose Cinemas, the BAMcafe with it’s swirling lights overhead, and the 2,109 capacity Howard Gilman Opera House. There was also a tasting room set up by Brooklyn Brewery which was serving exclusive ales throughout the weekend. Movement could not have been more fluid between these spaces as the festival went on. We were there for the opening and close of the festival to bring you our account.

The festival opened up on Thursday and contained the biggest draw of the weekend with the Roots as the headliners for that night. Those who came in not knowing many of the other acts on the bill throughout the day surely found something of intrigue while bouncing between the venues inside. To help encourage the early audience, there was a free sampling of select Brooklyn Brewery beers in the tasting room from 6:30 – 7:30. These “ghost bottles,” as the brewery describes them, are only available for special occasions and included highly coveted ales such as Local 1 and Sorachi Ace. A happy hour was also held during the same time period helping people kick off the night. Noticeably absent from the taps were Budweiser and other common brands as people were encouraged to treat their senses.

Drinks continued to flow at the BAMcafe in the upper level, which featured a large bar with access on four sides that served food as well. Seats remained on the floor for Rudresh Mahanthapa’s Gamak, which offered up a fresh fusion of funk and jazz. As the daylight slipped through the windows and night approached the BAMcafe took on a whole new life. The archways overhead illuminated the space and lights began to swirl on the large window’s between the street and the performance area. The next act to go on in this stage was Champagne Jerry and by this time of the evening the chairs had made way to a large dancing area for the remainder of the acts. As drinks were not allowed in the opera house or the cinemas, the BAMcafe also became a de facto point for hanging out. Compared to the other spots where chatter was at a minimum, the cafe became the social center of the BAM complex.

 Most performances had a slight overlap with others which actually helped avoid massive volleys of people at one time. On Thursday night in particular, it seemed like there was plenty of room throughout BAM which allowed you to grab a number of vantages from within the Howard Gilman Opera House throughout the night. The elegant beaux art theatre space may have seemed large at first for some of the acts, but the state-of-the-art sound and lighting helped transition each act that performed in this space. Julia Holter, for instance, occupied just one small platform in the center of the stage. Smoke engulfed her and powerful lighting effects helped to give the feeling of a more intimate performance. Parquet Courts on the other hand had a much higher energy and the crowd began to feed off of it with a dancing section forming in front of the seats and directly below the stage.

The highlight of the first night however was the Roots. Getting the chance to see them in Howard Gilman Opera House was a special treat and it was a little surprising to be able to find so many good spots to catch them from. The seasoned veterans had the crowd entertained from the moment they graced the stage; after all they do do this every night. The band was clearly having fun with this performance. Guitarist and Brooklyn native, Kirk Douglas was very animated throughout the set and continuously engaged with the crowd. ?uestlove was not one to disappoint either; at one point during an extended drum solo he even took time to send out the setlist to his loyal instagram and twitter followers and somehow didn’t even miss a beat. The set contained several hits such as “Next Movement,”  “You Got Me,” and “Seed 2.0,” and also took plenty of time to showcase the individual talents of each band member.

The Roots

When we returned for the final day of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry on Saturday, it was noticeably more crowded throughout the entire day. The acts on Saturday were somewhat more recognizable and the fact that it was on the weekend certainly helped encourage more festival goers. Perhaps the word of Brooklyn Brewery’s ghost tastings also served as some additional motivation to get there early. Indie rock ruled the stage of the Howard Gilman Opera House for the first half of Saturday with People Get Ready playing this festival for a second year in a row followed by an energetic set from Here We Go Magic.

Meanwhile, up at the BAMcafe art-punk band Japanther entertained a growing crowd of fans. Though the act consists of just a drummer and guitarist, they produced more than enough noise to fill up the room. Fans were dancing away in the front for this act. Japanther were definitely the biggest outliers of the week in terms of genre, but they still received an outstanding reception from the crowd and offered a great change of pace.

One of the more anticipated acts of the evening took place back in the opera house when Phosphorescent took to the stage. They have been garnering quite a bit of attention with their newly released album, Muchacho, and after seeing their live performance one can say that the attention is rightfully deserved. With sleeves rolled up, frontman Matthew Houck captivated and connected with the audience as he led us through plenty of new material. From song to song the pace would shift and the six piece band completely rose to the occasion in front of the opera house which continued to fill up. Their live show is definitely one to catch, and Phosphorescent certainly made some new fans on Saturday night.

The final act to take the stage of the opera house during Crossing Brooklyn Ferry was TV on the Radio, another hometown band that has broken through the indie ranks and has enjoyed a pretty wide degree of success. A backdrop of glowing stars was placed behind the stage and silhouettes  if the band emerged as they broke into their hit single “Halfway Home” off of 2008’s Dear Science. They couldn’t have chosen a better song to establish the pace of their set. The Howard Gilman Opera House was more full than it had been all week and the amount of energy that the band was pouring out on the stage could be felt by everyone. The Dessner brothers couldn’t have picked a better band to close out the opera house and the momentum continued into the BAMcafe for the final portion of the festival; a DJ set from Vampire Weekend’s Scott Baio.

It is difficult to lump Crossing Brooklyn Ferry in with the myriad of summer festivals sprouting throughout the world. What CBF is is a celebration of Brooklyn and all of those qualities that make this borough unique. The Brooklyn Academy of Music served as a spectacular host for this event and hopefully will for some time.

Brooklyn Academy of Music

For more photos from Crossing Brooklyn Ferry view our gallery.


Alicia Keys ‘Live on Letterman’ Review

Posted in Concerts, OurVinyl on December 21, 2012 by Jesse Zryb

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At the age of 31, Alicia Keys has already been dazzling audiences for well over ten years. Between her immense talents behind the piano and powerful voice she’s a dual threat, and her looks certainly don’t hurt. Recently, her new album, Girl on Fire has reignited her career and her performance on the Live on Letterman series reveals a woman with an overwhelming amount of confidence who only seems to get better with time.

In an R & B genre that has seemingly seen a renaissance of late, her place is undeniable. She is without a doubt one of the greatest performers of this century and continues to make a case to be considered amongst the greatest. In between songs at her Live on Letterman performance, Alicia Keys seemed a little humbled: “This is fun…I was just thinking, do you know how many incredible people have performed in this theater? I saw the wall (of photos) with Tina Turner, the Supremes, Diana Ross, Ella Fitzgerald was in here, the history, the her-story, the we-story is all up in here. Not to mention the Beatles and Elvis and stuff. So I really feel honored to be here tonight and touching these beautiful stages that have so much incredible history.” This was said just six days after closing out the 12-12-12 Benefit Concert at Madison Square Garden, which included some of the greatest living musicians today with artists such as Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel to name a few, and was seen by nearly two billion people. Her career is still in it’s infancy compared to some of the names mentioned here, yet she’s already playing the same stages and deservedly so.

Keys opened her set with “New Day,” off of Girl on Fire, an upbeat number which much like many of the other songs on her new album is about empowerment. This track seems very radio friendly and at times sounds a bit like Rihanna is singing; it was also a great way of establishing a high energy level for this performance. From the pop-tinged opener, she went into another new track in the reggae-infused “Limitedless.” She also looped in some of the lyrics from “You Don’t Know My Name” in the chorus, reworking her earlier material to this new beat.

About ten minutes into the set, Keys finally situated herself on the piano bench in the middle of the stage for 2009’s “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart.” It didn’t take very long though for Keys to be back up on her feet crooning over the crowd for the latter half of the song getting the audience involved and taking control of the entire room. That’s not to say she didn’t have the crowd’s attention behind the piano; during tracks such as “If I Ain’t Got You” it’s difficult to fathom how much emotion is being released simultaneously through both her fingers and her voice.

If you had tuned into the 12-12-12 Benefit Concert last week, you may already know that Alicia Keys has a deep affinity for the place where she was born and can take some credit for New York’s most recently adopted anthem, “Empire State of Mind.” Like a true New Yorker, Keys has a tremendous amount of pride for the city, and the power that this song has seemed to absorb is astonishing. Hearing this song in one of the city’s most storied venues only seemed to enhance the experience.

The 50 minute set was closed with another anthem in the title track of Keys’ most recent CD – “Girl on Fire.” This song has been floating around for just a few months now, but everybody in the Ed Sullivan Theater seemed to know all the words and were all too eager to sing along. While the lyrics of this song are rather simple, the repetition of the refrain – each time increasing in intensity, makes this an incredibly catchy tune that is sure to stick in your head for a while. With her band and singers playing an extended instrumental reprise of the song, Alicia Keys graciously exited the stage on a high note.

James Blake @ Music Hall of Williamsburg 12/11/2012

Posted in Concerts, Music, OurVinyl, Photography on December 13, 2012 by Jesse Zryb

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James Blake played his first show on American soil at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg back in March of 2011, just a few weeks after the release of his self-titled debut. At that concert, Blake’s set-list consisted almost entirely of tracks off of his recently released CD; showing that he has the ability to bring to life both the chaos and beauty from his recordings. From the beginning, Blake had a devout following eager to hear his new material. Last night, he was back in Brooklyn, once again debuting new material to the New York crowd.

Blake’s set kicked off with one of his earliest singles, “Air and Lack Thereof.” This track, released in 2009, quickly got the attention of BBC’s Radio 1 where it garnered repeated play and helped introduce the world to James Blake and his unique style. The use of synthesizers, heavy bass, and loops are in this song are all a signature of his sound but the full range of his vocal abilities wasn’t truly exposed until his debut CD. The next track that was played in the set, “I Never Learnt To Share,” reveals how much emotion and power can travel through his voice. A simple phrase is repeated throughout the extent of this song, which continues to build and build into a booming crescendo along with the rhythm.

It was after the second song when there was a slight technical glitch which had to be fixed and James Blake finally addressed the crowd. “Now might be a good time to tell you that the album’s nearly done, the new one. This is the first time we’ve played any of it to anybody in America,” said Blake before launching into the first of several new songs of the evening with “We Are Going Down To The Pub.” Despite being unfamiliar with the new material, the crowd showed a tremendous amount of enthusiasm as the anticipation for the new CD began to build.

From there, Blake went back to some of his more recognizable songs; first with the two-part “Lindisfarne I & II,” and then “Limit To Your Love,” the latter of which shook the foundations of the building with bass. The rest of the set was composed of a pretty even mix of old and new with the highlights being “CMYK” and “Wilhelm Scream;” both tracks that start small and wind up taking over the entire venue with light and sound. The sold-out crowd was begging for more as the band walked off the stage.

Thankfully, Blake obliged and came out for an extended encore opening up with “Anti-War Dub.” This Digital Mystikz cover really shows us Blake’s roots in dub-step and how much he could excel with some tailor-made dance floor beats. After that almost entirely instrumental jam, another new track was introduced to us. “Retrograde” begins with Blake creating a humming loop and a clapping beat building around it. This song builds masterfully and completely absorbed the crowd. If this is what’s to come from his forthcoming album, than we can already label it as one of 2013’s standouts. Blake’s bandmates exited the stage after “Retrograde” leaving Blake alone in the spotlight as he played the opening notes to Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,”  a song which much like Feist’s “Limit to Your Love,” has become an integral part of Blake’s catalog and perfectly harnesses his abilities.

Other than a show at Bowery Ballroom the following night, there are no more opportunities to see James Blake live in 2012. However, if this show was any indication, we have a whole lot to look forward to from him next year. Be sure to check out some photos from the evening as well as a setlist below!


Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY 12/11/2012

Air and Lack Thereof
I Never Learnt To Share
We Are Going Down To The Pub
Lindisfarne I & II
Limit To Your Love
Our Love Comes Back
Every Day I Ran
The Wilhelm Scream

Anti-War Dub
A Case Of You


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