M.I.A., Gorillaz, TV On The Radio 9/16/17

(i) lineup

1a. TV On The Radio
2b. Gorillaz
3c. M.I.A.

(1a) (TV On The Radio’s) setlist

  1. Young Liars
  2. Lazerray
  3. Golden Age
  4. Happy Idiot
  5. Could You
  6. Winter
  7. Wolf Like Me
  8. Trouble
  9. Province
  10. DLZ
  11. Staring at the Sun

(1b) highlights

  • even though I’ve seen TV on the Radio before, this was the first time I was really able to be in the front and engage with the band.
  • not too long ago, I feel like TV on the Radio was everyone’s indie darling for all time, but I really do think they’ve progressively become more underrated. we need more TV on the Radio.
  • how good is “Wolf Like Me”? it is so, so good.

(1c) lowlights

  • the sound wasn’t super fantastic – not sure who to blame for that.

(1d) overall thoughts

In a super-stripped down set, TV on the Radio took the stage just before sunset at the Meadows Music Festival. Tunde Adebimpe’s beautiful voice, on-stage energy, and ability to just get lost in himself ironically made me connect more to his performance than many other that day.

Bottom line: Everyone needs to see TV On The Radio if only because they’re cool as hell, don’t really care what you think about what they’re doing, and mostly just want to have fun in a disaffected punk way that manages to feel cool and not at all douchey.

(2a) (Gorillaz’s) setlist

  1. M1 A1
  2. Last Living Souls
  3. Saturnz Barz
  4. Tomorrow Comes Today
  5. Rhinestone Eyes
  6. Sleeping Powder
  7. On Melancholy Hill
  8. Busted and Blue
  9. El Manana
  10. Let Me Out (with Pusha T)
  11. Dirty Harry (with Bootie Brown)
  12. Strobelite (with Peven Everett)
  13. Andromeda (with D.R.A.M.)
  14. Sex Murder Party (with Jamie Principle)
  15. Garage Palace (with Little Simz)
  16. Feel Good Inc. (with De La Soul)
  17. We Got The Power (with Camille Bethomier and D.R.A.M.)

Encore:

  1. Stylo (with Mos Def and Peven Everett)
  2. Clint Eastwood (with Del the Funky Homosapien)

(2b) highlights

  • Gorillaz!!!!! literally how iconic are Gorillaz, I have no words
  • The last 7 or 8 songs were basically perfect. I’ll admit that we showed up late to this set and ONLY saw the last 7 or 8 songs in order to catch M.I.A., but hot damn, so much fun.
  • What is there to say about Damon Albarn that hasn’t already been said other than he’s cool ass dad who came out literally wearing sweats and a slightly baggy stripped street. I mean….perfection. What a guy.
  • there aren’t enough words to describe the feeling hearing “Feel Good Inc” and “Clint Eastwood” live. yeah, it’s basic af to reflect on those particular tracks but man, talk about songs that truly capture the perfectly unique moment that was my middle school experience. is that weird? it’s true.

(2c) lowlights

  • like I said, we only saw the last half of this set because someone who runs Meadows’ booking decided to double-book M.I.A. and Gorillaz despite the fact that they obviously have crossover audiences. lowkey that person should get a new job title.

(2d) overall thoughts

I feel like there’s truly no other group out in the world quite like Gorillaz. Damon Albarn – the man, the myth, the legend behind Blur – manages time and time again to not only take musical collaboration to another level, but still surprises me with every new release. Even though Humanz wasn’t a flawless record and not quite as strong as their previous work, you still can’t help but respect the boundaries they cross.

 

Bottom line: Gorillaz’s live performance takes things to the next level. With a combination of cool visuals, live collaborations that don’t touch any other any other group, and wide-ranging deep cuts and beloved singles, Gorillaz cannot be missed. True headliners to the core, I hope I won’t have to wait over a decade to see these guys again.

(3a) (M.I.A.’s) setlist

  1. Borders
  2. Go Off
  3. Pull Up The People
  4. Bamboo Banga
  5. Freedun
  6. 20 Dollar
  7. Bucky Done Gun
  8. Bring the Noize
  9. XR2
  10. Born Free

Encore:

  1. Galang
  2. Finally
  3. P.O.W.A.
  4. Ali R U OK?
  5. Bad Girls
  6. Fly Pirate
  7. Paper Planes

(3b) highlights

  • M.I.A!!!!!! Holy shit!!!! What a QUEEN.
  • there are probably only 4 or 5 people on the entirety on planet earth cooler than M.I.A. and two of them are Han Solo and Indiana Jones, which is not only just Harrison Ford but obviously men that don’t exist – so, what my midnight stupor is trying to say is that M.I.A. is fucking COOL. like, people don’t get it. she oozes perfection. she’s basically my Beyonce is what I’m saying.
  • did you know that M.I.A. is not only a mother but 42 years old. she’s 42. like. okay.
  • her outfit, stage set-up, and general energy were so badass, I couldn’t even handle it.
  • my soul transcended during “Paper Planes,” the end
  • I could write a 25-page thesis on why “Bad Girls” is the sexiest music video of all time. M.I.A. didn’t play the video or anything, but it’s almost impossible for me to disassociate it from the song itself, and goddamn it was so hot.
  • M.I.A. brought a dude up wearing some of her merch and thousands of people basically watched this guy twerk up a storm and it was incredible.
  • my best friend and roommate is also brown like Maya and this show was actually on her birthday and she’s worshipped her forever, so basically watching her watch the show was pretty incredible.
  • I feel like I took great photos during her set, which was awesome.

(3c) lowlights

  • she showed up a little late, which is fine because M.I.A. is a queen and I would wait for her until the end of the earth.

(3d) overall thoughts

There’s truly nothing I could say about M.I.A., her incredible vitality to not only brown culture, refugees, general musicianship and artistry, and women, that hasn’t already been said. So I won’t even try. All I can really say is that artists like M.I.A. matter for so many reasons. Maya Arulpragasam represents pretty much every aspect of minority culture from her gender, religion, age, culture, taste, citizenship, and countless others, and seeing her in her element perform for a crowd of thousands was legendary.

Bottom line: Getting to see M.I.A. wasn’t only one of the highlights of 2017, but a highlight of my adult life. Seeing such a strong, independent, fully realized woman, mother, and artist create and perform something so distinctly her was inspiring, uplifting, and truly earth-shattering for me.

Young The Giant, Cold War Kids, Joywave 9/13/17

I photographed and reviewed this show at The Pop Break, so here it is recreated below.

Pop Break Live: Young the Giant, Cold War Kids & Joywave at Central Park Summer Stage, New York City

There’s nothing like a triple-header at the Central Park SummerStage to close out the summer. On September 13th, Young The Giant played one of the last shows of the season, still supporting their 2016 record Home of the Strange, with fellow Southern Californians Cold War Kids and Rochester, New York-natives Joywave. This was the first official NYC stop for Cold War Kids and Joywave, each playing material from their newest albums LA Divine and Content, respectively.

Joywave opened the event in the early afternoon with a concise but energetic set led by singer Daniel Armbruster and his usual wry humor. Playing tracks off both the band’s smashing debut How Do You Feel Now? and their most recent effort Content, Joywave gave the crowd a reason to dance before the sun went down. Their most recent single “It’s A Trip!” fit right alongside their hit from two years ago, “Tongues.”

Setlist:

Now
It’s a Trip!
Little Lies You’re Told
Destruction
Doubt
Somebody New
Tongues

Cold War Kids, in usual form, brought soul and grace to the stage, opening with their classic, “All This Could Be Yours.” Singer Nathan Willett and bassist Matt Maust were in top form, playing Cold War Kids’ standards while still remaining fresh and on their toes. The lead single off their sixth studio album LA Divine, “Love Is Mystical” was a notable standout; the crowd was eager to join in and clap along with Willett’s tambourine. The highlight of the night, however, had to be the band’s sultry, jazzy, and sexy rendition of Rihanna’s “Love On The Brain” – an unusual cover that, by the end, sounded as if it was originally written for and by Cold War Kids.

Setlist:

All This Could Be Yours
Miracle Mile
Hang Me Up to Dry
Can We Hang On?
Love Is Mystical
Restless
Mexican Dogs
Love on the Brain (Rihanna cover)
Lost That Easy
So Tied Up
Cameras Always On
Hospital Beds
First
Something Is Not Right With Me

Young The Giant, the night’s headliners, wasted little time before immersing the SummerStage crowd into their album’s lead single and hot-topic conceit: America. Or, as the band brands it: “Amerika.” Singer Sameer Gadhia took the darkened stage backed by a track of famous American songs in pop culture, including Ray Charles’ “America The Beautiful,” Miley Cyrus’ “Party In The USA,” and Springsteen’s “Born In The USA.” With each “patriotic” song layering into each other and the bright, angular stage littered with flowers and modern geometric shapes, Young The Giant embodied true headliners. Their performance wasn’t keen on being nostalgic, but relevant and timely in the best way possible. Classic singalongs “Something To Believe In,” “Cough Syrup,” and the closer “My Body” left everyone in Central Park that night feeling like they had just witnessed something truly special. I can’t wait to see where Young The Giant goes next, because it’s only up from here.

Setlist:

Amerika
Something to Believe In
I Got
Anagram
Titus Was Born
Mr. Know‐It‐All
It’s About Time
Cough Syrup
Strings(acoustic)
Firelight (acoustic)
Nothing’s Over
Mind Over Matter
Repeat
Apartment
Home of the Strange

Encore:
Jungle Youth
Silvertongue
My Body

Arcade Fire 9/12/17

(a) setlist

    1. Everything Now
    2. Signs Of Life
    3. Rebellion (Lies)
    4. Here Comes The Night Time
    5. Haiti
    6. No Cars Go
    7. Put Your Money On Me
    8. Neon Bible
    9. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
    10. The Suburbs
    11. Ready To Start
    12. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
    13. Reflektor
    14. Afterlife
    15. Infinite Content
    16. Creature Comfort
    17. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)

Encore:

  1. We Don’t Deserve Love
  2. Everything Now (continued) (with Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
  3. Wake Up

 

(b) highlights

  • Hot damn, now THIS was an Arcade Fire show!
  • I’ve been an Arcade Fire fan for over a decade and I’ve been waiting for a show just like this; while I did see the band for the first time during their Reflektor tour, I remember very little about that show because of the circumstances; this show replaced so much
  • “Creature Comfort”!!!! “Wake Up”!!! “Neon Bible”! “Ready To Start”! Every damn track from Funeral, I mean Jesus Christ, this setlist
  • Despite purchasing tickets in the nosebleeds, MSG randomly upgraded me and my friends to basically the best seats I’ve ever had in that venue
  • There are few greater live moments than seeing “Wake Up” live
  • Grandmaster Flash was the opener and lowkey great

(c) lowlights

  • years have passed, the album has simmered, and I still don’t like Reflektor; the few songs that were performed noticeably brought down the crowd around me
  • a guy in the crowd behind me at one point said, “God, I can’t wait until they play “Mr. Brightside!” I almost projectile vomited.

(d) overall thoughts

I have a weird relationship with Arcade Fire. I really liked Funeral when it first came out and still consider Neon Bible to be a perfect record. I wasn’t crazy about The Suburbs when it first came out, then came to my senses a few years later. Then Reflektor was released. For some reason, that album rubbed me the wrong way and I couldn’t ever shake it.

I had high hopes for Everything Now after hearing the lead single and “Creature Comfort,” probably one of the greatest songs Arcade Fire has ever written, and really looked forward to this show. Ultimately, the album wasn’t perfect – it had just as many issues as incredible moments – but the emotion was there. And Arcade Fire brought it to life this night at Madison Square Garden. A boxing ring featured the band “in round” moving between instruments, across the stage, and from microphone to speaker. Every member was frenetic beyond belief and the energy in the venue was so high.

I was shocked by the number of tracks that popped up from Funeral throughout the night and loved the crowd’s reaction to each one. “Neon Bible” was one of the highlights of the night when the venue went dark and everyone instinctually took out their cellphone lights. Everyone’s face glowed, we all felt so connected, and all I could do was pine for more from that record.

Even though Everything Now was imperfect as an album, the attention to detail from Win Butler’s stage outfit and lights, to the interactive visual display and connective thread between each track brought the entire night together. This was a beautiful night and I applaud Arcade Fire for being such a successful and purposeful band that actually gives a shit about live performance and giving a shit in general.

 

Bottom line: Arcade Fire isn’t an incredibly successful band because every single thing they do is gold; they make mistakes and take risks and put on incredibly lively performances. But more than anything, they actually give a shit about Putting On A Show and there’s nothing I respect more.