Australian pop-rock band Sheppard kicked off their first-ever U.S. headlining tour with a bang in New York on July 22 with an amazing show at Webster Hall’s Marlin Room.
Say It! Say It! were next with a set of loud, energetic pop-punk. The New York band’s sound is somewhere between Good Charlotte and The Wonder Years mixed with dance-pop synths, most likely the product of the band’s interesting use of keytar. Supported by an entourage of local fans, the band maintained a terrific flow of energy between the audience and the stage.
Sheppard has been killing it on stage for years and Wednesday’s show was no exception. From the first bars of “Halfway To Hell,” their set was a raucous hour-long party. Overall blending bright, sunny and uplifting melodies, cool jazzy numbers and rock mentality in their music and stage show, the non-stop energy coming from both the stage and audience were intoxicating. With so much excitement, you could tell that the band wanted to be there and give their fans the best experience possible. As the band ran through tracks from last year’s majorly successful ‘Bombs Away’ and their self-titled debut EP, there was no letting up. Even their cover of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” proved to be a crowd pleaser. The usually quiet bassist Emma Sheppard took to singing the female vocals on the cover to the applause of the entire room. The band wisely left their platinum-selling hit, “Geronimo,” for last, knowing that it would get the biggest response of the night.
The way Sheppard worked the stage has only gotten better. Now used to big stages, George and Amy Sheppard still made the audience feel like they were a part of the show. Amy decided to dedicate the band’s song “Smile” to a guy in the audience all the way from the U.K., completely making his evening. During “Geronimo,” George had the audience crouch down low before the final chorus, asking them to then jump as high as possible when the chorus came in, creating something special and unique for the audience at the show.
At Wednesday’s show, the crowd was treated to a high-energy, fun night of music by three outstanding bands. While Lawson and Say It! Say It! started the show off right, Sheppard brought it home with one of their best shows ever. It was a great way to kick-off what is sure to be a spectacular tour.
There’s a certain yin and yang to Iron and Wine and Ben Bridwell’s live performance. Iron and Wine (Sam Beam’s namesake) plays the reserved folk troubadour, while Bridwell serves as the energetic rock ‘n’ roller. The two contrasting styles gave balance and variation to a set that spanned Iron and Wine, Bridwell’s Band of Horses, and the bevy of covers the duo just released on Sing into My Mouth.
The noticeable chemistry between the two singers was on full display for a sold-out crowd at Webster Hall last night. With the vocalists trading off lead duties and harmonies (and with plenty of grins between songs), it was easy to see that there were no inflated egos; these were just two friends grateful and enthralled to share the stage. On one of the most recognizable tracks from the covers record, Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)”, a hushed sing-along floated through the crammed venue before the crowd erupted into loud cheers at the end. And on “The Straight and Narrow” (a Spiritualized cover), Beam and Bridwell matched each other’s efforts evenly as their voices intertwined for one of the strongest songs of the night. This inherent trust in each other’s abilities also manifested itself in certain song choices – for instance, Beam took lead vocals on Band of Horses’ “Window Blues” while Bridwell took charge on Iron and Wine’s “The Sea and the Rhythm”.
Bridwell’s stage presence was another highlight of the gig – he pours an extra bit of oomph into his distinct enunciations and delivery while singing in a way that recordings just don’t do justice. While Beam anchored his spot with minimal movement, Bridwell was bouncing up and down, rattling his head, and frantically waving his arms at the climaxes of certain tracks.
After running through 20 songs, the band (which also featured a pedal steel guitarist, a bassist, a keyboardist, and a drummer) briefly departed. “You’re still here!” Bridwell said jokingly as they returned for the encore song, JJ Cale’s “Magnolia”. He had a smile when making that remark, but perhaps there was a brief, incredulous realization that he really had been playing covers of Peter La Farge and Bonnie Raitt and Four Tops to a packed house with his long-time friend. Last night, Beam and Bridwell delivered for the enthusiastic crowd by simply being themselves.
Done This One Before (Ronnie Lane Cover)
Slow Cruel Hands of Time (Band of Horses)
Judgement (Iron and Wine)
Bulletproof Soul (Sade Cover)
Am I a Good Man? (Them Two Cover)
Window Blues (Band of Horses)
Coyote, My Little Brother (Peter La Farge Cover)
This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) (Talking Heads Cover)
Our partners at Pollstar released their midyear reports Friday, and this year’s number make 2014 look sooooo last year.
Grosses from the Top 100 Tours was up a whopping 39% to $1.43 billion, an increase of $402 million. The first half of 2015 broke the 2012 record with a staggering 18.8 million tickets sold by the Top 100 Tours, and the average ticket price hit an all-time high of $76.20.
“The quick interpretation of current market dynamics is that savvy artists and promoters are successfully capturing more of the revenue that used to leak into the secondary ticket market,” reads the report’s opening page.
The East Village nightclub is reporting a ticket sales increase of 94% over this same period last year, according to the Top 100 Theatre Venues Chart. Overall, US venues dominate the Top 10, grabbing nine spots with House of Blues Boston still on top, followed by Seth Hurwitz’s 9:30 Club.
Fourteen years after bumping into each other at the Bedford L station — the chance encounter that led to the formation of Ratatat — Mike Stroud and Evan Mast have holed themselves up in a studio just a few miles away, near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They’re laid back, barely breaking a sweat in the summer heat, but are aware they have work to do before they leave for tour.
“We get so focused while recording,” says Mast, who works as the producer in the studio and plays bass and synth live. “The moment we play something through fine enough to record it, we just forget how to play it. Which is good — otherwise we’d just overanalyze what we’re doing.”
The studio is one of several the two musicians used to record Magnifique, their new album out on XL Recordings July 17. Though Ratatat have long been known for their precise production, deep-pocket grooves, and warm layers of guitar, the new record focuses more on melody than ever before. Their previous two opuses, the appropriately titled LP3 and LP4, act as twins on a more experimental tip. Magnifique is a conscious decision to break away from that.
“We started off by trying something different,” says Mast. “We wanted to have a different result; we didn’t have a rule of ‘start with the melody,’ but we wanted to make this all about guitars. We don’t approach things with strict rules. We’re always trying to mix it up and find ways to keep it interesting.”
Originally, that quest brought them to a different answer: They would record the album with only live drums — something the production group they’re often compared to, the Neptunes, did midway through their career. That approach didn’t stick, but two songs on the album, “Pricks of Brightness” and “Rome,” still use live-drum loops. Production was never their focus. “We prefer to build songs from the ground up,” says Stroud. “Production’s fun, but it doesn’t beat creating.”
The endless curiosity and tinkering makes sense for them, as both Stroud and Mast are a certain kind of jack-of-all-trades. Both multifaceted musicians, they’re constantly employing new techniques and instruments to discover sounds. This record features Stroud prominently on lap steel guitar, something he’s long wanted to play. “Lap steel and slide guitar are fun and very different than regular playing,” he says. “You’re finding the note when you’re playing it, so there’s more risk, but it’s more accepting of the challenge, too. You end up playing stuff you weren’t even trying for.”
Such exploration isn’t the only thing slowing the time between albums, but it’s not because of any arguing — just a thirst for the right textures and tones. “We’d spend a couple of weeks getting focused on an idea and honing it…and then let it go,” says Mast. “It happened a lot,” Stroud adds. “We’d discover some new sounds and spend countless days on them, and then be completely sick of the groove a few days later. We don’t really fight.”
Stroud empties a massive case of guitar pedals — an old-school fuzz here, a DigiTech Whammy there — to make sure everything’s set for rehearsal. He could warp his six-string into something far more alien, but he saves each effect for the right moment, rather than blast his specialties around the clock; he doesn’t even take every pedal on tour. His playing is more sniper than grenadier, more finesse than assault. Mast is equally focused, having already covered half his job; he doubles as the man behind their signature light show, a mesmerizing acid trip through colored lasers and smoke machines. They’ll take the stage in Manhattan at Webster Hall on July 17, the same day the album comes out.
Even for their first show, at the now-closed Siberia in Brooklyn, the duo were aspiring to reach today’s visuals — but it wasn’t always so polished. “All the digital stuff has been slowly evolving over the years,” Mast says. “At our first few shows, we had a simple video projecting onto a bedsheet and three strobes operated by stompboxes. It got a pretty good reaction.” Over a decade later, they’re nostalgic for the time but know the show is better than ever.
Because of their start in the Brooklyn scene, it only made sense to record some of the album here. Recording started in Long Island in 2011, while the tour for LP4 was still happening, with the band surrounded by abandoned vacation homes in the middle of winter. Knowing they usually compose in the studio, Stroud and Mast were keen to try out other locations, like here in Brooklyn, another studio in upstate New York, and in Jamaica, where friends offered them a place to stay.
They don’t look it, but the two are mad scientists of sound, full of crazed ideas and possessed of an inventive chemistry. Stroud can’t prevent himself from playing piano when sitting in front of one; Mast disappears to another world when he’s thinking about the right tones. Stroud insists Mast has a Rain Man–like knowledge of drum samples (“He’s like, ‘I know the perfect kick-drum sound for this,’ and he picks it out of thousands in about two seconds!”), and, for his own part, has some arcane gear preferences (“Amplifiers sound best when they’re dying.”). The chemistry that clicked when they first played together is still there when they talk. They finish each other’s sentences and share wordless inside jokes with a simple look.
Separately, they are relaxed, the full embodiment of chill. Together, they strive for a certain musical heaven they can’t reach without each other. Magnifique album opener “Intro” sounds like Queen guitarist Brian May on a rampage — something they’ve long sought out. “We always thought we were doing that tone, but we nailed it on this album. We researched Brian May’s guitar sound extensively, and it really paid off,” Stroud says. “It’s not just playing guitars with a nickel for a pick,” Mast adds. He laughs. “That helps, though.”
Other songs, like the dance-worthy “Cream of Chrome” or the summer breeze rolling across an island of “Supreme,” are quickly becoming crowd-pleasers. The blend of relaxed beats, hummable melodies, intelligent sequencing, and songs that can be performed live — something LP3 and LP4 lacked — have Magnifique poised to become a fan favorite.
When they finish in the studio, Stroud drives Mast home, his car full of scattered Beatles albums. (Magnifique’s cover is a notable nod to Revolver’s black-and-white look and Sgt. Pepper’s collection of famous faces.) He didn’t used to have a car, but that was when he lived in Brooklyn; he moved upstate after he and his wife kept visiting friends and realized he wasn’t spending much time in the city anymore. “I’ll probably get an apartment here,” Stroud says about the borough. “I stopped taking advantage of the city for a couple years and thought, ‘Maybe I’ll just get out of here for a while.’ ”
Stroud grew up in Connecticut, but since his parents moved to Massachusetts, he has no reason to visit his original hometown. He’s better in the city, knows his way around like a lifer, crossing Eastern Parkway and Atlantic Avenue with ease to drop off his partner in crime.
Mast still lives here. “Every once in a while I think about going somewhere else,” he says. “There are a lot of places I feel like I could live for like six months but not much longer than that, places I don’t feel like I’d belong. I still take advantage of New York. I go see art and movies. I still get excited to see the city and to create. I know Brooklyn is home.”
Ratatat will celebrate the release of Magnifique at Webster Hall on July 17. For ticket information, click here.
Can’t wait the mere hours until Muse’s seventh studio album, Drones, finally drops? Luckily, SiriusXM is now streaming the group’s Webster Hall show tonight on Alt Nation, ahead of Drones’ release on Tuesday.
The group played for a small group of SiriusXM subscribers at the relatively intimate New York venue, but you can hear the 90-minute set — which included performances of new tracks “Dead Inside,” “Pyscho” and “Reapers” as well as classics – Monday at 8 pm ET, Tuesday at 12 am, 8 a.m., 3 p.m., and 10 p.m. ET and Wednesday at 3 a.m., 10 a.m., and 5 p.m. ET.
Also, all week long the band will be on Alt Nation to introduce each song off Drones and share stories about the making of the record.
We want to take a moment of your time to recap last week’s benefit concert for Songs of Love. The generosity of everyone was overwhelming and we were able to net over $70,000 for the charity!!!! That’s equal to TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY children who will benefit from a personalized song. TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY CHILDREN!!! That’s an incredible number and surpassed our wildest expectations. For that, we say thank you to all who attended, and an additional THANK YOU to those who bid on our auction items and sponsored children to receive their own song of love.
Along the way, we had a few people who should be recognized. Una Toibin created the original artwork to memorialize the event, Wall Street Dead aHead helped spread the word and get people out, Marc Millman took many spectacular pictures to document the evening, Pan & Grill Caterers treated the band and our VIP supporters to a sumptuous buffet, and Rich P. and his crew at Webster Hall were accommodating and helpful. And a BIG shout out to Peter Costello and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead for donating several silent auction items and for providing a memorable night of music that won’t soon be forgotten. From the opening Alabama Getaway until the closing Sugar Magnolia, the room was dancing and smiling.
We recently sat down with Webster Hall talent buyer Alex Rossiter to get the 411 on the legendary NYC venue as part of our Access Granted spotlight series. Since opening as a for-hire social space in 1886, Webster Hall has existed in various incarnations including a roaring ’20s masquerade hot spot, a mid-century recording venue for artists like Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan, and an uber-hip ’80s rock club that featured emerging acts like Prince, The Pretenders, and U2. Over the years the main ballroom has become a favorite among musicians for its acoustic integrity, and is often referred to by those in the know as “the best stage in New York”.
Today Webster Hall houses three distinct live music venues under one roof, meaning it offers a little something for everyone. As a talent buyer, Rossiter makes sure that the venue’s unique spaces consistently feature top-notch performers and DJs from across the musical spectrum. Check out the interview below to learn more about Webster Hall’s storied past as well as some not-to-be-missed upcoming concerts and events.
TM: What sets Webster Hall apart from other NYC venues?
AR: The fact that there is no other room in the city that has three different live music venues that can run simultaneously. Webster Hall is 40,000 square feet, we can have several shows happening on the same night or flip the whole thing over into one big club night, which we do every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
As far as the venues go, in the basement we have The Studio, which holds 400 people. Above it is the Marlin Room, which holds 600. And above that is the Grand Ballroom, which holds 1500.
TM: What’s unique about the NYC fans that go to the venue?
AR: Webster hall attracts all sorts of people from both NYC and the burbs around the city. We book all different styles of music — a lot of concerts are 16+ but, we also see a lot of people in their 40s and 50s+ coming out to shows and club nights. One of the cool things about Webster Hall is that anyone can come. We want you to come, we want you to have a good time — there’s something here for everyone.
TM: If you had to book a music show that represented Webster Hall’s ethos, which three artists would you choose and why?
AR: Hmm, that’s a tough one, we book all different genres here. In the ’80s Webster Hall was called The Ritz — Madonna, The Beastie Boys, Run DMC were here all the time. In the late ’80s it was known as The Rock and Roll Hotel — Slayer, Megadeath, all those heavyweights played here. So for the show I’d resurrect The Beastie Boys and have them play with a band like The Cramps, who played here all the time. And then have Slayer headline. And maybe throw in a cameo by Richard Hell, who also played here.
TM: Webster Hall is rented out as a private event space to companies, celebrities, etc. Any noteworthy, over-the-top event details you can share? Did Madonna fill a ballroom with 5000 white doves or something?
AR: About a year ago we did an event with MTV Tres, they made the entire grand ballroom look like a circus tent. I walked up there and couldn’t believe it — all this arched fabric, it was really beautiful.
Every year we also host the Village Voice’s annual Obie Awards and lots of celebs show up, Meryl Streep was here a year or two ago. We host a lot of charity events — there’s one coming up this week called the Gildie Awards, which is a cancer benefit named after Gilda Radner from SNL.
We’ve also done a lot of beer, whiskey, and wine tastings where the whole building on every floor is set up with tasting stations. Things usually start tame and then three hours later everyone is feeling pretty good.
TM: Webster Hall has some very popular weekly events and club nights — what’s your favorite recurring event at the venue and why?
AR: We just celebrated the1-year anniversary of a weekly Thursday night hip hop party called House Party — it’s garnered a lot of attention from hip hop labels and draws tons of talent. Our resident DJ Just Blaze is here every Thursday. For the1-year anniversary event we had Blaze along with rapper Fetty Wap. House Party has also hosted performers like Pusha T, Travis Scott, etc.
TM: What’s one insider tip everyone coming to a show at Webster Hall should know?
AR: Take a look at the calendar, there’s something for everyone here. You’re bound to find something that you’re familiar with or curious about. I recommend coming here on a Friday or Saturday night around midnight because in the Webster Hall Grand Ballroom during one of the weekend parties, you feel like you’re in the center of the universe
TM: What’s the most memorable moment you’ve personally experienced at Webster Hall?
AR: One night a few years ago Grouplove played down in The Studio, and immediately after they finished I went up to the grand ballroom and watched The Killers, who are one of my favorites.
A few years ago we threw Green Day’s Halloween party in the studio for a few hundred people, that was unbelievable. They were all dressed up as skeletons and they walked out on stage to the “Monster Mash” and played Misfits covers.
TM: Is Webster Hall involved with any charitable causes fans should know about?
AR: We’ve worked with the Gildies a few times to benefit cancer research, and we just had a sold-out Modest Mouse show that benefitted Safe Horizon, a non-profit that provides services to victims of domestic abuse, child abuse, and human trafficking. Various charity events happen throughout the year, so it’s definitely something that’s a part of Webster Hall’s culture.
As an official partner, Ticketmaster works with iconic stages and theaters across the country, and our appreciation for these majestic venues has only grown with time — subscribe to the Ticketmaster YouTube channel and stay tuned in the coming weeks for more of our Access Granted Series.
Superheaven @ The Studio at Webster Hall – 5/15/15
Superheaven kicked off their BrooklynVegan-presented tour with Diamond Youth and Rozwell Kid this past Friday (5/15) at NYC’s Studio at Webster Hall, before all three of those bands played NJ’s Skate & Surf festival. Locals Soda Bomb opened the night, with a set somewhere between King of the Beach-era Wavves and Blue Album-era Weezer. With their fizzy, explosive pop punk, Soda Bomb is pretty much the perfect name for them.
Rozwell Kid were up next, and they were also kinda Weezer-y but with classic rock bombast that’s maybe more Maladroit than Blue Album. And them came Diamond Youth, who, with their sultry vocals over crunchy riffage, sounded more than a little like Queens of the Stone Age. QOTSA is one of those bands that I like, but I almost never like bands people tell me “sound like QOTSA.” Diamond Youth are an exception to that rule — it’s good stuff. Their new album, Nothing Matters, came out this week on Topshelf. You can order one from the label or enter to win a copy at the BV Facebook. It’s also streaming below.
Finally Superheaven wrapped up the night, and wasted no time getting to the good stuff with the banging “I’ve Been Bored” as their first song. Co-frontman Taylor Madison recently told Red Bull that he doesn’t like being called “grunge” because it’s a time-specific thing. That’s true — the term described an era, a location, and a love of saggy flannel more than it described a coherent genre of music. That said (and with all due respect to Superheaven), they’re pretty fucking grunge. Throughout their set I had moments thinking to myself “Smashing Pumpkins!” “Nirvana!” “Alice In Chains!” One member even wore saggy flannel. That’s not a bad thing though because there just aren’t many bands tapping into that sound right now as successfully as Superheaven are. If you watched Foo Fighters play “Everlong” on Letterman this week and thought to yourself, “Why can’t there be a new band like that?,” maybe you just haven’t heard Superheaven.
The tour hits Chicago tonight (5/22) and continues through late June, ending in Philly on 6/21. All remaining dates are listed, with more pictures from the NYC show here