First Aid Kit Rocked Webster Hall

Funny how playing a gig at Webster Hall turns you into a rockstar. I don’t necessarily mean that it brings fame and fortune (although if you look at the roster of musicians who debuted there throughout the venue’s 125 year history, that seems to be a valid point), but bands like to rock at Webster Hall — they like to blast the room with sound, turning every performance into some semblance of a blazing rock concert. The fact that most fans are crammed in there without much hope of a quick exit only enhances the frenzy of the room.

A prime example of this came Wednesday night, when the endearing Swedish duo, First Aid Kit (@firstaidkitband), kicked off their US Tour by playing to their first sold-out crowd in the Ballroom.

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Bowerbirds Sold Out Bowery Ballroom

“This might as well be our last show ‘cause we’ve always wanted to headline the Bowery [Ballroom],” Phil Moore, Bowerbirds (@thebowerbirds) lead singer, confessed on Friday. The band’s soothing but dynamic folk songs are beginning to garner a good deal of attention, and the eagerness of their audience at Bowery was certainly a testament to that appeal. Their new album, The Clearing, was released less than a month ago, yet the crowd needed no invitation to sing along throughout the hour-long set, which featured many new tracks…

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SXSW: I Leave You With This

I just love this video that Bob Boilen of NPR shot, walking down Sixth Street in Austin on Saturday night, the final night of the SXSW festival.  In case you  were one of the few people not actually there and need a reference for why we all came out of SXSW feeling ragged, run-down and over-stimulated, well, this should do it for you.

Boilen states:

I shot this six-minute stroll down 6th Street on Saturday night. It was the final night of the festival, plus it was St. Patrick’s day. If you’ve never been, this might scare you away. But the ones that it doesn’t scare are the ones who have the best time.

SXSW: Just a few more things

Excuse the lack of further detail on these SXSW sets, but watch for my reviews of the live shows of any or all of the following bands in the near future…

***Poliça.  Again.  Yes, they’re that good.

What those two drummers are doing is pretty frickin’ awesome, never mind Channy’s honey vocals and reliably captivating performance.  This time around, having more familiarity with the music and the way Channy slinks around the stage, I was able to pay closer attention to the drummers (who Channy pointed out hadn’t slept yet.  It was 4 pm.).  You might think two drummers would be excessive.  This would change your mind.  The range and versatility these guys find together is fascinating.  In any given moment they may create an electrifying power by playing the same part simultaneously, or they may trade off drum lines like they’re finishing each other’s sentences, or maybe they’ll move around one another, layering rhythm upon rhythm.   Even on no sleep (and the struggle to push through became more apparent by the end of this, their final SXSW set), these guys rock.

For a little more context, read my previous thoughts on Poliça here

***Great Lake Swimmers.

Five piece band from Toronto.  Subtle, mellow, soothing and charming folk rock.

***Lost Lander.

Three guys and a girl from Portland, Oregon.  They’re working an interesting conceit by sticking to an all-white palette for their attire in contrast to the black of the guitar and bass.  Not sure if this is a regular thing, but my guess is that it’s part of their concept as a band.  Their songs have a beautiful structure, building to climaxes and breaking down again to the repetition of simple lyrical lines.  Despite the appeal of their sound, there wasn’t much about their energy as performers that pulled me in.


Aptly named, this band is a force to reckon with.  Also from Portland, Oregon, I believe I counted nine people on the small stage at Swan Dive: two violins, two trumpets, two electric guitars, drums, keys, and electric bass.  The music is a carefully composed wash of sound, but instead of feeling drowned by the sheer force of it all, there is a conscious balance amongst the instruments that instead sweeps you delightfully away.  All the doubling up may still be redundant, but it is no detriment to the sound.

***And, for kicks, this was the crowd at the last Of Montreal show at Clive Bar:

They were going crazy.  Did not stop dancing for 40 minutes.  That is until everyone’s favorite scruffy Georgian guitarist threw himself into the crowd, all of whom then became preoccupied with passing him and his guitar around gleefully over their heads.