Backbeat: Michael Kiwanuka Wows a Packed Webster Hall With John Mayer, Martin Kierszenbaum, More – Billboard

MIchael Kiwanuka with John Mayer, backstage at New York's Webster Hall after Kiwanuka's headlining set on Tuesday night (Photo: Jem Aswad)

Fast-rising British singer/songwriter Michael Kiwanuka kicked off his first headlining U.S. tour at New York’s Webster Hall Tuesday night with an hour-plus long set that mesmerized many in the capacity audience.

While the singer has played several shows in the area over the past nine months or so, his CherryTree/Interscope debut full-length, “Home Again,” was released Stateside just a few weeks ago, which makes the packed crowd – not to mention its rapt attentiveness – in a venue the size of the 1400-capacity Webster Hall all the more impressive, especially on a night that earlier endured a positively Biblical rainstorm that prevented us, sadly, from catching opening acts Foy Vance and Marcus Foster. Credit the fact that Kiwanuka has built a solid buzz Stateside with critical raves and high-profile slots at South by Southwest, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and several other tour stops earlier in the year.

Michael Kiwanuka, ‘I’m Getting Ready’: Live Backstage at Lollapalooza

Kiwanuka has a soaring, powerful voice that he unleashes sparingly and skillfully – a lot of his songs are calm and quiet, a la Bill Withers or Terry Collier, which makes it all the more striking when he lets rip. His sound has an unusually wide appeal (as Ken Weinstein of Big Hassle, which is doing publicity for Kiwanuka in the U.S., said, “It’s an album you can give to a lot of different people”) — it’s soulful, folky and rootsy all at once, but in a live setting there’s an almost jam-band dimension that finds the band creating slow, steady grooves that build and build and build before pulling back. In addition to expanded versions of songs from “Home Again,” Kiwanuka played a beautiful version of Jimi Hendrix’s “May This Be Love?” in observation of the 42nd anniversary of the legendary guitarist’s death.

In the house Tuesday night were Kiwanuka’s manager Robert Swerdlow of Starwood Entertainment, CherryTree chief Martin Kierszenbaum, Superfly’s Chad Isaacs, Red Light’s Jonathan Azu, Big Hassle’s Shira Knishkowy, RED’s Ava Ryerson, and many others. Chatter during the show included talk about the sale of AEG – news that it’s up for sale for a whopping $7 billion broke just before the show, and Universal’s proposed acquisition of EMI (which seems likely to be approved by the EU within the next couple of days) and how the offloaded assets will be a boon to the indie sector. But most of all people were talking about how beautifully Kiwanuka and the band were connecting with the audience – talking about it quietly, anyway (we were shushed several times during the show).

People also occasionally noted the fact that John Mayer, who played some beautifully tasteful guitar with Frank Ocean on the “Saturday Night Live” season opener over the weekend, was watching from the balcony VIP section, accompanied by his tour accountant Ina Jacobs.

Mayer goes unplugged on lap-steel guitar (Photo: Jem Aswad)

Backstage after the show, Kiwanuka and Mayer chatted at length (we didn’t eavesdrop) while Kierszenbaum told us how pleased he is to be back at Interscope, raved about two new signings (Willy Moon, a New Zealander he described as “Bill Haley, David Byrne meshed with Beck and Public Enemy”; and R&B singer Jessie Ware, who, along with Kiwanuka, was recently nominated for Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize), and mentioned he’s got a couple of others he can’t disclose just yet, and, like a proud dad should, told us about the major role his 15-year-old son played in the design of the CherryTree app.

Later, he and Mayer – who was speaking in a tone just above a whisper, due to recent surgery on his vocal cords – traded highly informed notes on vocal-cord specialists. As is sometimes the case in backstage scenes, a lap-steel guitar just happened to be lying around. We said, “Hey John, do you know how to play that thing?” “Sure!” He obliged, beautifully, for a good five minutes, while Kiwanuka chatted with fans outside.

David Wain, Will Forte, Questlove & “special guests” helping celebrate Sweet’s 8th Anniversary tonight – Brooklyn Vegan

Rarely do we at BrooklynVegan.com devote a singular post to a single, recurring, local comedy show. But sometimes a single, recurring, local comedy show reaches such a magnificent milestone that they deserve the proverbial tip o’ the hat. Therefore, it is with a heartful of joy and pride that I say “Happy 8th Birthday” to Seth Herzog’s superior comedy/variety/insanity show Sweet!
Herzog is a preposterously hilarious and bombastic staple of the NYC comedy scene who also happens to be the warm-up guy for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Sweet, which currently takes place at Ella Lounge on Tuesdays for a measly $5, serves as sort of an exercise yard where he and his “wicked famous,” “famous,” and “definitely on the road to being famous” friends have carte blanche to get up there and do whatever they fuck they feel inspired to do. The line-ups each week are engorged with unbelievable talent and usually include an appearance by his mother, Kera Herzog. While the NYC comedy scene loses great comics to the allures of Los Angeles on a monthly basis, Sweet remains a constant in showcasing the best talent around. As he said in a great NY Times article:
“The thing about L.A.,” Mr. Herzog said, lamenting Hollywood’s never-ending lure, “is that all great New York comics move out there. I have to tell my audience: ‘Those guys you loved? They left. But now you have these new guys, and you’re going to love them soon. I promise.”

8 years is a long time for any independent comedy show to survive in this city. To celebrate this monumental milestone, TONIGHT (9/18), the Sweet 8 Year Anniversary Show will take over the Studio at Webster Hall!! The show will feature David Wain, Ted Alexandro, Will Forte, Questlove, as well as surprise guests! I cannot tell you WHO the guests are but, trust me on this one, they are very, very, very, very, very great and beyond worth the $15 day-of-show ticket price (flyers say $10, but that ain’t what they cost yo). Tickets are currently on sale and still available! (Special guest: Sarah Silverman!)

Sarah Silverman and Will Forte at the Studio Webster Hall
Sarah Silverman & Will Forte backstage at the Studio

Girls & Boys: Rustie + Flosstradamus – Time Out New York

Time Out says

Alex English and GBH are back with their big electronic-dance-music bash, the Girls & Boys affair, held in Webster Hall’s massive Grand Ballroom. Tonight’s installment is a plus-size edition: Glasgow’s Rustie had one of 2011’s best electronic-music albums in the Warp label’s Glass Swords. It was an album that took in elements of house, rave, dubstep, Detroit techno, Sheffield bleep and plenty more, added a touch of dreamland sparkle and sounded like nothing else out there. Flosstradamus, meanwhile, is the Chicago DJ duo known for a rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness mix of rock, electro, hip-hop, house and more (plenty more). Brenmar, Nightwave and Mess Kid play as well.

Six Superlative Summer Shows – Village Voice

Our music critic’s picks for the season’s hottest concerts
By Maura Johnston Wednesday, Aug 29 2012

By any real definition, the summer concert season comes to a close this weekend. I spent a lot of this summer running around and seeing bands; below are the highlights.

Beyoncé

Orion Festival

Miguel

The Killers

“It doesn’t matter that [Brandon Flowers of the Killers] isn’t Bruce Springsteen; it matters that he thinks he is,” a friend of mine said during the pomp-filled Las Vegas act’s July Webster Hall gig, during which they previewed a couple of songs from their forthcoming album Battle Born. And it’s true; Flowers, even though he has a voice that wiggles around notes more than it lands on them and a sense of lyrical metaphor that seems more phonetically derived than anything (“I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier” is really fun to sing along with, though), plays the rock-star role well. He storms around the stage and leads the crowd into the promised land of sing-alongs and thrusting fists. Even those people who thought his band was kind of overblown at first (cough) will be screaming lyrics at the top of their lungs by the night’s end.

MS MR

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NEW YORK ROCK TRIO SKATERS ARE READY FOR THEIR BIG BREAK – BlackBook

NEW YORK ROCK TRIO SKATERS ARE READY FOR THEIR BIG BREAK
By Lindsay MaHarry

New York-based trio Skaters are about to explode. With members from L.A. bands Dead Trees and Little Joy, and the guitarist of U.K. phenomenon The Paddingtons, the three chose to meet in the middle, geographically and stylistically, to record an EP in New York. They never left.

The result, Schemers, is available for free on their website, providing a refreshing contrast to the $1.29-per-track iTunes deathtrap or the virus-ridden MediaFire shot in the dark. They’ve been steadily gaining momentum, playing at least one show a month and premiering videos and promoting shows on places like Interview, Vice, and Nylon. This week’s and a headlining show tonight at Webster Hall Studio mark a new high for the band.

I spoke with singer Michael Ian Cummings on living in the city, preparing for the show at Webster Hall, and what we can expect from Skaters in the coming months.

So Skaters is from New York. How do you feel the constant onslaught of stimulation affects your sound?

It’s probably the reason we can’t write slow songs. The energy of New York is totally inescapable—you can’t fight it. It’s better to roll with it. You go hard ‘til you crash in New York City.

How would you describe your music?

I try not to as much as possible. In my slightly biased point of view, I’d say we are like a modern punk band with eclectic and somewhat esoteric influences ranging from ska to tropicallia.

What are your influences, musical and otherwise?

I’m influenced a lot by the city and its people. Walking down the street here is like going to the theater. There’s never a dull moment, and I find myself constantly gaining new insight and inspiration from being around the people. Musically, I’m all over the place. I have my go-to records, of course, but I also keep up on modern pop and new rock acts. Sometimes it’s just as important to listen for what not to do.

You’re starting a zine. Can you talk a bit about that?

We are releasing our first zine called “YONKS” tonight at our show at Webster Hall. The zine will be a way to showcase our favorite artists and friends work to our fans. Many of the people in the zine have done a lot of work with the band already. We really wanted to recognize our community of super talented friends.


You guys gave away your first EP,Schemers, for free. Why?

We just wanted people to hear it. No one is getting rich here. It’s better for us to keep control and give it away openly then force people to download it illegally or through the iTunes middleman. More people will hear it this way, and that’s what really matters.

How is your headlining show at Webster Hall going to differ from your frequent monthly shows around the city?

It’s going to be our biggest show to date. We’re pulling out all the stops. I guess you will just have to show up and see for yourself!

What can we look forward to from you guys this year?

A new record, many music videos, our first tour, a few more zines, and a lot of partying.

Are you skaters?

Figure skaters, maybe. Nope, can’t do that either!

The Sound of New York’s Skaters – NY Times

The Sound of New York’s Skaters
By ALEX FRANK AUGUST 13, 2012

Photograph by Taea Thale. Fashion editor: Jason Rider.
Noah Rubin, Michael Cummings, and Josh Hubbard of the band Skaters. All clothing by Folk; odinnewyork.com. On Rubin: Jacket, $345 and shirt, $245. On Cummings: Knit jacket, $395, T-shirt, $105, and shirt, $245. His own necklaces. On Hubbard: Jacket, $400, shirt, $210, and pants, $260. His own baseball cap.

“None of us can skateboard. We just don’t have the coordination, I guess,” says Michael Ian Cummings, the lead singer for a band called, of all things, Skaters. “The name just reminds me of my youth and the way I felt listening to music and hanging out with my friends running around the city being a hooligan.” The self-invented, devil-may-care attitude that’s characterized both skate culture and the irreverent sound of so many New York bands (the Ramones and Suicide come to mind) has had a big influence on Skaters, who released their debut EP, “Schemers,” for free on the Web earlier this year. A rose-colored, wistful affection for the city is shared by the group’s three members — Cummings, Noah Rubin (drums) and Joshua Hubbard (guitar) — and can be heard loud and clear in songs like “Good Weird Woman,” with its subway-station-sounding saxophone, and “Are We Just Doomed?” a bittersweet account of leaving home and hardly sleeping, something any New York band worth its salt knows intimately. “I couldn’t imagine making or listening to this music in any other environment,” Cummings says. And even without the skateboards or skills, Skaters do look the part. Dressed in the British men’s-wear label Folk, as they were for their T photo shoot, there’s no covering up their romantically ragged edges.

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