Category — Reviews
There’s little than can be written about Watch The Throne itself that hasn’t already been shared, blogged or tweeted in the 11 months since the highly anticipated Jay-Z/Kanye West collab was released, properly, following perhaps the most miraculous non-leak of the post-Napster era. And nothing about Friday’s tour closer in Birmingham, U.K. — the final gig of a 57-date jaunt that spanned nearly eight months, 12 countries and two continents — was all that different from the string of much-buzzed-about performances that preceded it. Well, besides Beyonce and Kim Kardashian watching it from the floor, of course. (Encircled by a gaggle of linebacker-sized bodyguards, natch.)
Yet there was a sense of profundity, if not history, to the final recital of what could very well be remembered as the finest hour of arena hip-hop, since it’s hard to imagine where the genre, if that’s what we’re calling it, can possibly go from here. The dizzying floor-to-ceiling lasers during “All Of The Lights,” the pitch-perfect pyrotechnics during “Otis” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” the epileptic light-spasms during “N*****s in Paris”: all of it was informed with a greater sense of occasion for nearly two-and-a-half hours on a chilly night in the West Midlands, the tour’s fifth show in a U.K. market that’s helped propel overall receipts past the $50-million mark.
The LG Arena, a hip 16,000-seat multi-purpose venue with interiors that marry elements of A Clockwork Orange with Back To The Future Part II, was packed to the gills by the time Jay-Z and Kanye emerged from opposite ends of the space on hydraulic powered cubical platforms that slowly elevated more than 40 feet, making each performer a prototypical spectacle while prompting an arena-wide starscape of camera phones. The artsy visuals only built from there, from the Givenchy-designed American flag during “Otis,” to the provocative (yet knowingly meaningful) juxtaposition of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” against discomforting archival footage of prepubescent Ku Klux Klansmen.
June 23, 2012 Comments Off
What you might not realize about Tyler, The Creator from the YouTube clips that made him famous is he’s physically big — a rangy 6-foot-2 — and his stage presence is even bigger. That feral magnetism was apparent throughout Wednesday’s Odd Future gig at Terminal 5, the latest stop on the underage hip-hop collective’s 27-date Golf Wang Tour, but never more than when he deferred to the crowd on the first eight bars of breakout hit “Yonkers” before careening to the finish in that distinctive baritone growl. Not even Wu-Tang Clan — the seminal rap supergroup to whom Odd Future is inevitably and unfairly compared — can boast as obviously charismatic a frontman. (The RZA was “the head,” but often dwarfed lyrically by Ghost, Raekwon, Method Man or even Deck.) Clearly, Tyler is the senior among underclassmen. And when he sneaked up to the second-floor balcony and plunged 20 feet into the adoring crowd less than a half-hour into the 75-minute set, he ensured they’d love him forever.
Say what you want about OFWGKTA, the polarizing 10-man company from L.A. hell-bent on making 2011 their personal coming-out party, but they’ve certainly got people talking. Months before Tyler’s MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist, they were commanding the attention of ivory-tower music critics, 4chan lurkers and the hip-hop elite. (Weezy co-signed this week.) As the blogger-driven hype gives way to mainstream recognition, Odd Future remains shrewdly defiant of labels from hipster to horrorcore — and in genuine awe of their popularity. “Yo, this is a lot of fuckin’ people,” Tyler said by way of a salutation, craning his neck to meet the fans whose legs dangled from the second and third balconies, as if to say they’ve come a long way from Webster Hall’s 300-capacity Studio where they made their NYC debut less than a year ago. [Read more →]
October 20, 2011 No Comments
My review of Thursday’s Radiohead show at Roseland Ballroom for the Village Voice.
October 11, 2011 No Comments
My review of Wednesday night’s Fleet Foxes show at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights.
May 19, 2011 No Comments
Here’s my write-up of Tuesday night’s Kanye West gig at the Museum of Modern Art, where surprise guest Jay-Z melted faces during a two-set encore.
May 11, 2011 No Comments
The Sonic Youth that got together in 1981 — when art student Kim Gordon and 23-year-old tenderfoot Thurston Moore decided to start a band and learned to play guitar (in that order) — might not even recognize the New York City of today. The grimy, drug-infested streets and urban decay that inspired the No Wave movement they pioneered are a memory, gone with iconic punk meccas like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. They’d most certainly be lost in the since-gentrified neighborhood of Williamsburg, the one-time artists’ haven where the alt-rock legends played the first of two shows Tuesday night.
No one can call Sonic Youth a nostalgia act and that’s to their credit: How easy it would be for a band with 23 studio and extended-play albums to “play the hits” for more-than-willing audiences night after night. But the group’s most recent tours have placed heavy emphasis on their newest material, and Tuesday’s gig before a sellout crowd of 550 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg — a former mayonnaise plant that was refurbished and reopened in 2007 — was no exception. They played nearly two-thirds of their latest set, The Eternal, with gems from Daydream Nation, Sister and EVOL peppered in. It’s a shrewd decision that pays off in the long term: People go nuts for the new songs and it gives old favorites an edge they’d otherwise lack. [Read more →]
November 24, 2009 No Comments