Rachael Yamagata at Bowery Ballroom

I was lucky enough to be one of the people in the audience for Rachael Yamagata’s sold out performance at the Bowery Ballroom last Saturday night and, as per usual, she didn’t let us down. The crowd on the other hand…The crowd was overrun with annoying couples showing their PDA off like they were waving flags in the love parade. Didn’t they know who they were there to hear? She is the queen of lost love, failed relationships and the perfect words to describe the shiv to the heart that is a breakup. Whoever was running the sound that night understood my dismay and right on cue, Beck’s “Lost Cause” started playing over the speakers like my personal anthem as I started drowning in a sea of loud lip smacking.

Her opener, Sanders Bohlke, was a perfect compliment to the somber tones of Happenstance and has the skinny white emo boy thing down. It’s a good thing he’s probably had a lot of practice being ignored sitting in the corner of a coffee shop because the crowd didn’t dull their conversation and I left that night knowing more about the woman behind me’s tango lessons than I did about the lyrics to the songs he sang (beautifully at that).

Sanders Bohlke

His sound would pair well with Fleet Foxes (more Robin Pecknold than Father John Misty) but his voice also has hints of soul & blues without the grit of Johnny Lang. By the end of his set, I think he made a good amount of new fans. That being said, the crowd was anxious for Rachael to take the stage. Somehow the woman behind me thought she’d be the only one singing along to Rachael’s songs. She obviously hadn’t been to a concert with a large lesbian fan base before.

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When Rachael took the stage, her voice was as incredible, smooth, clear and packed with emotion as ever. One of my favorite things about her as a performer, is her ability to engage the audience in the stories she tells between songs. The most memorable story from this show was about how she was listening to one of her songs for the first time while sitting in the sand on Venice Beach. The song was so beautiful and heartbreaking she started crying as she looked out into the water and saw a large mass floating towards her. At the crescendo of the song, the dead body of a baby whale washed up to her feet and she was like, “Are you kidding me? Did anybody else see what just happened?”.

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Long story short: When you have the chance to catch Rachael Yamagata live – don’t hesitate, even if you find yourself picking pieces of your bruised heart up off the floor on your way out of the concert venue.

Beth Ditto at XL Bar

Last night, Beth Ditto brought her ferocious soul-punk voice to XL Bar in Hell’s Kitchen and while the set was a short one, she worked her thang and made the crowd move. As is usually the case, I stayed out too late (and honestly for no good reason – which I need to stop doing) and am paying for it today. That being said, it was great to see Beth again, particularly as up close and personal as I was able to get thanks to a friend’s press pass plus one I was able to get in on.

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 I love this picture because of the look of complete joy on the guy’s face:

Beth Ditto at XL Bar NYC

 

Butterfly Boucher And Missy Higgins: “None The Wiser”

A couple months ago, right when I moved to NYC, I was offered a ticket to see Butterfly Boucher and Missy Higgins play a venue in Brooklyn. It was my first time experiencing that borough and I managed to make it to the venue with only a few instances of getting lost along the way.

Butterfly opened the show for Missy but each played instruments and sang back-up harmonies on each others’ sets and pretty much made every lesbian within earshot catch a case of the vapors. Those two are ridiculously hot and I don’t think it’s fair for them to have Aussie accents on top of the good looks and charm.

This is their performance of one of my favorite songs, “None The Wiser”, from Butterfly’s incredible 2012 self-titled release.

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None The Wiser

If you haven’t seen the adorable video they made of this song you should watch it mmmeow:

CMJ Day 1: XNY & The Return of The Incredibly Small Hulk

Well I survived day 1 of CMJ and I didn’t even get lost (yet). The press badge pick-up was refreshingly easy and unlike this past Lollapalooza I didn’t have to wait in a single file line out the door of a tiny bar in order to grab my credentials.

My next stop was the press mixer party which was nice (I will never turn down some free bourbon) but I always end up feeling a bit awkward hanging out drinking by myself and doing small circles around a room filled with other bloggers, photographers and publicity people. When I finally get comfortable enough to introduce myself to strangers at a table it feels like a bizarre speed-dating experience but without the glimmer of hope I can only assume someone gets when they sit down across from a potential date.

When the free booze was gone there was a mass exodus out of the building and everyone headed to whatever showcase they were most excited about. While I didn’t attend the New Zealand showcase at Le Poisson Rouge, it seemed like everyone I spoke with was headed that way.

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Listening to them now I can kind of understand why but I wasn’t really in the mood to cram into the venue with everyone and their mother. Instead, I headed to The Delancey to check out XNY. Unfortunately, the dude running the soundboard couldn’t get his shit together so there was a good amount of feedback followed by microphones refusing to work altogether every few minutes. The band held it together pretty well though and even managed to keep going after pieces of the drum kit almost plunged off of the stage due to how small the area was and the vibrations slowly moving the hi-hat closer to the edge with every beat.

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XNY playing The Bowery Electric

The duo of Pam Autuori (singer/guitarist) and Jacob Schreiber (drummer/backing vocals) had another gig to play that night and since it was just down the road at the Bowery Electric, I thought I’d check them out with proper sound at the Outlet Collective/Deli showcase.

I arrived just in time to have missed seeing Texas rockers, The Phuss, but I spent some time talking to them and they are some fun dudes with adorable Southern accents. I haven’t had time to listen to their whole album but I like what I’m hearing with the song “You Ought to Know”. It’s got kind of a Jet vibe.

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I did get to see a band called The Ugly Club and, in all honesty, I couldn’t tell you what they sounded like. I was super distracted by the lead singer looking like Ryan Gosling (circa Remember the Titans) and the keyboardist looking like a cross between Topher Grace and the guy who plays Navid on the 90210 reboot. I mean, can we talk about this?

Finally it was time for XNY to play again and I’m so happy I was able to catch them on a larger stage with a working sound system. They were like a totally new band and damn Pam can wail and play that damn guitar! I caught a clip of one of their songs which you can stream here:

Download: XNY at the Bowery Electric

I’m sure if you’ve made it this far into the post you’re probably wondering where the Incredibly Small Hulk comes into play. Well my friends, I wasn’t the only one getting into XNY’s music. Two men in suits and one of their girlfriends (all of who were old enough to know better) decided this intimate CMJ showcase would be the perfect place to try out their combination Muay Thai boxing/moshing techniques. I can’t imagine what was going through their minds (most likely a lot of cocaine) but they could care less about the fact that everyone else in the room was standing there watching the music and they were flailing around like Ally Sheedy dancing in The Breakfast Club on steroids. When they started getting too close to my friend and myself, I went over and nicely asked them to calm down. I told them they should feel more than free to punch each other but I’d appreciate it if they kept their fists and arms and legs to themselves.

Less than ten minutes later, I could see the suits were back to acting like Ronnie from Jersey Shore doing what I will now dub the “Come At Me Bro Dance”. As I could have predicted, one of their elbows made full contact with my friend’s head. The guy didn’t even stop to apologize and that is when I fully grabbed him by the sides of his shirt and pushed him all the way back to the benched area and finally into the hands of a bouncer.

For some reason, the bouncer didn’t think to step in before that moment and those assholes never got kicked out. All I know is, next time I’m going for the balls and I’ll be unapologetic about it.

Now, I’m off to Cake Shop to get my party on with the good folks at Terrorbird. Tonight I’m really hoping to catch The Hollows at Sullivan Hall, Maluca at Webster Hall, Nina Sky also at Webster Hall and hopefully I can catch some of The Suzan.