Concert Reviews Festivals

Bring on the Swedes: Theresa Andersson, Tobias Froberg

Wednesday’s lineup at the Living Room proved to be quite an unconventional night of music. Comical Swedish artist and producer Tobias Froberg took the stage shortly after 8 p.m., while phenomenal one-woman band Theresa Andersson followed soon after.

Drawing laughs from the audience by prefacing each song throughout the night, Froberg ended each song introduction saying, “and I wrote a song about that because I’m a singer-songwriter,” with Napoleon Dynamite-esque glasses and a voice that recalls Ben Folds. The crowd loved his never-ending sarcasm and anxiously waited on the edge of their seats to hear what he said next.

When listening to the lyrics behind each song, a more serious side of Froberg was revealed while playing piano and acoustic guitar. Before beginning “She Is Becoming Her Mother Again” he said, “Sometimes when I call my mother and father I find myself sounding exactly like them. Even though you love your parents, you don’t want to become them . . . but you do.”

Before playing last song of the night, “God’s Highway,” accompanied by Theresa Andersson and Ane Brun, Froeberg informed the audience that after the show, “I’m going to sit downstairs in the basement and sniff some glue” to which the crowd erupted in laughter. Definitely the comical performer, Froeberg kept the audience attentive throughout the somewhat more mellow songs in his set.

One-woman band Theresa Andersson took the stage at 9 p.m. playing a 50-minute set. With the stage covered in a white shag rug, Andersson could be seen utilizing two loop pedals with her bare feet throughout her entire performance, syncing up each instrument she played — guitar, drums, violin, dulcimer, tambourine and chimes.

“I’m not going to talk. I’m just going to make some noise,” Andersson told the packed room. “Welcome to my kitchen by the way. You’re getting the whole show tonight.”

Definitely not your average performance, Andersson explained her set as being somewhat like a dance. “After a while I started thinking of it as a dance, that’s when it really became fun.” She even took dance lessons from a friend in preparation for her live show. “I actually ended up falling a lot in the beginning. I’ll be standing on one leg and stretching the other one out, skip steps or jump. At one point I’ll have to stand on my heels and hit two pedals at the same time, so I couldn’t keep my balance at first,” she says.

Spending about a month putting together her live show, Andersson said it took a while to really get the music in her body. “I would make a lot of mistakes in the beginning. I would be really nervous, but maybe those mistakes were something that [only] I recognized,” she says. “To me, I’ve reached the point where it’s really a musical instrument. It’s just another way of playing songs and playing music.”

Andersson’s soulful vocals and friendly onstage banter made for an enjoyable set. At times, the audience seemed to be intently and silently watching her performance to which she said, “Don’t be shy. There’s just one of me and so many of you out there.”

Before her show, Andersson explained that she wants the audience to “really feel that they’re in the music and not worry so much about, ‘Oh my God is she going to fall or step on the wrong pedal?'” She seemed to get this across by her second song of the night and current YouTube sensation, “Na Na Na.” A fun and upbeat song, Andersson had the audience relaxed and at ease watching her dance around the stage all while playing multiple instruments.

One of Andersson’s favorites to play live, “Birds Fly Away,” is a New Orleans-inspired song which samples Smokey Johnson and has that soulful ’60s feel, reminiscent of the Supremes. Definitely the crowd favorite, the audience was clapping along with Andersson throughout most of the song and screams could be heard towards the end of her performance.

“Each song is unique and they all have a specific role in the set,” Andersson says. “I really wanted to bring the listener on a journey when they listen to the set. I always think its best when you hear it from beginning to end because it goes into different spectrums of the musical language I use.”

And Wednesday night she definitely brought the audience on a unique journey. Ending her set to thunderous applause and a standing ovation, Theresa Andersson is one artist who stands out from the crowd.

You can read this post originally on the CMJ blog here. Check out the video of Theresa Andersson’s song “Birds Fly Away” below, performed live at home in her kitchen.


Concert Reviews Festivals

Chicago Duo Show Festivalgoers What CMJ Is All About

Possibly the most anticipated act of last year’s CMJ Festival, the Cool Kids brought their energy to CMJ once again, this time at the Blender Theatre Tuesday night. Having graced the pages of Rolling Stone last year as an “Artist to Watch,” the Chicago rap duo “Chuck Inglish” Ingersoll and Mikey Reed proved that they still have it going on.

Taking the stage shortly before 10:30 p.m., the Cool Kids brought their tight hooks and bass-heavy beats to the stage with “Delivery Man.” Cameras were flashing and every hand was in the air having anxiously anticipated their entrance, for many, since 8 p.m.

Ingersoll and Reed got the crowd energized during their set, which featured their infamous hit “Black Mags” as well as “Box of Rocks.” Even Mickey Factz joined the duo throughout their set, jumping around the stage for “I Rock.”

The night was full of surprises as one fan threw Reed a box of cereal to which he eventually emptied into the crowd. Later, fans jumped onstage for a dance-off contest to win copies of their album in addition to jokes being told, the best comedian winning an XBox game. Their second year at CMJ, the Cool Kids continue to bring something new to the table. I can’t help but wonder what it will be next year.

While most in attendance were anxiously awaiting the Cool Kids performance, Toronto natives the Carps, kept the crowd energized.

For a two-piece, bassist Neil White and singer/drummer Jahmal Tonge held their own. An unexpected pairing with Tonge providing smooth and soulful vocals, at times reminiscent to that of Usher, and White cartwheeling onstage during their performance, the Carps’ vigor was impressive.

The Carps played a half-hour set comprised of eight songs, including a solid cover of Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” as well as their interpretive song, “Compton to Scarboro,” which Tonge explained being about gun violence. Tonge captivated the audience’s attention by telling the story of a man robbing a convenient store as he and White acted out the parts, White convincingly falling to the ground dead as the song progressed.

The lights engulfed Tonge and White onstage in an eerie glow as their catchy R&B; beats got the crowd clapping along during their set. While the crowd seemed uninterested at times, Tonge evoked attention with his constant, and sometimes curious, onstage banter. “Listen to your parent’s kids, sex is overrated,” he said at one point, later asking the crowd, “Do you love us yet? I just need your love.”

With the upcoming election on everyone’s mind, even at CMJ, the band made their stance known. “Make sure you go out and vote Barack,” Tonge said. “We just elected another conservative in Canada and I would hate to see that here.”

Cartwheeling onstage before their last song, the Carps ended their set with just as much energy as when they began. While it’s often hard being part of such a diverse festival line-up, the Carps worked the stage as if they were the headliners and who knows, in a few years they just might be.

To read the original Cool Kids review posted on the official CMJ blog click here. To read the Carps review, click here.

Festivals First Person

CMJ Lessons Learned

Now that CMJ is officially over I can rest a little bit easier and not plan my entire day around trying to show up to work and be productive all while scheduling in various interviews, panels and concerts. But, let’s be honest I’d much rather have my day job be an ongoing music festival . . . how can I go about finding that job? Hmmm . . . time to do some serious research.

I put together a brief outline of things I’ve learned this week for my amusement on my commute throughout the week. Be sure to keep checking out the CMJ blog, as I’ve been compiling all my reviews and interviews and much more should be posted this week!

Top 5 CMJ Lessons:

1. Don’t assume that just because three fellow CMJ badge holders are on the same subway as you that you’re going to the same place.
I know, stupid right? But it was my first time covering CMJ and I didn’t realize just how huge CMJ was. So, when I saw three guys from a college radio station with their CMJ badges and welcome bags, I assumed we were all going to the same meet and greet and asked if I could tag along. Little did I know until we got off the subway stop at Delancey that we were going to two entirely different places. Not a huge deal, just jumped back on the subway and got off the stop I was supposed to get off at originally.

2. People like to talk, whether it be a band, a cab driver or managers.
This seems obvious. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. I pride myself in being a good listener, and being a journalist this often comes in handy. One of my professors used to always say, “Don’t be afraid of silence.” Sometimes during an interview, if you pause for a bit after the interviewee answers a question he will continue his thought or will bring you to an entirely different direction that you never considered. This is often the best part of an interview and you’ll find out something you never thought to ask. It’s so easy to go through the motions during an interview by asking the same questions over and over again. But, every so often you’ll make a connection and the interviewee will bring out an insecurity they may have that lets you get to know him a little better and see where he’s coming from. This is priceless.

3. You can sleep when you’re dead.
This has often been my catch phrase throughout college when roommates wondered if and when I ever slept. Sleep is important of course, but not always realistic when covering a festival like CMJ. Some drink coffee or Redbull to keep them awake, I haven’t found the best caffeine fix for myself yet, still working on that.

4. Make sure you’re allowed to video tape at a venue BEFORE you get there.
I had no clue that some venues make you sign wavers or release forms to film. They basically want to make sure you’re not selling your interview or sound check footage and making money off it. I never thought of even looking into this before an interview since for the most part I do audio interviews. You have to learn the hard way sometimes. Now I know for next time.

5. Go with the flow.
There is absolutely no way you can possibly see every band you want at a festival like CMJ. By leaving room for the unexpected you may get lucky and discover the next great band at a showcase when you originally only planned on seeing the first band. Who knows, lightning could strike.

Be sure to check back on the blog throughout the week for show reviews and interviews. You can check out my video interview and sound check with Matt Duke below! Special thanks to John Hendrickson for filming and editing this for the UWire CMJ blog.


Concert Reviews Festivals

CMJ Review: Canon Logic Lure Fans With Catchy Rock Songs, Sunglasses

Playing a 7 p.m. set on a Tuesday night may not be a band’s dream gig, but the Canon Logic worked it to their advantage. With sunglasses give-a-ways creatively imprinted with the band’s name on each pair and free downloads of their latest EP, the Canon Logic played to a packed crowd at Arlene’s Grocery that only seemed to get louder as their set progressed.

While their music has been compared to that of the Beach Boys and even the Beatles, the band brought their A-game to their CMJ Showcase and didn’t disappoint, as they had many in attendance dancing along and singing the words to each song. Drummer Mike Mignano likes to describe their music as “a mint-scented breath of fresh air.” While he admits it’s a corny catch phrase, realistically he says “it’s a gritty blend of harmony-driven pop,” which I couldn’t agree more.

Playing a 35-minute set, the Canon Logic’s performance featured a solid mix of songs from their last EP, “The White Balloon,” as well as songs that can be heard on their full-length album due out early next year. Their first CMJ performance, frontman Tim Kiely feels the set was unbelievable. “The fans were great. We had a blast; we always have a blast onstage. We felt pretty tight.” Guitarist Josh Greenfield agrees. “I could only see the first two rows of people. It wasn’t until the very end that I went up front and realized there was a pretty packed house, so that was cool.”

The five-piece band’s energy was apparent onstage as the three guitarists and bass player jumped around the stage throughout their performance, enticing and encouraging the crowd to do the same. Their set included fan favorite “Avenue of Criminals” as well as “I’ve Been Sleeping With Your Best Friend,” a song off their latest EP, the concept clearly chronicled within the title. “Delia” is one song where their ’60s pop flavor is showcased. With strong guitar, keyboard and drum accompaniment the band seemingly takes the audience back in time.

A diverse and devote fanbase, anyone from parents to grandparents to even Greenfield’s high school-aged sister enjoy their performances and frequent shows. “I think we have a wide range of fans. We like to try and bring everybody together,” Greenfield says. “We’re trying to pull from so many different influences. We really like the classic rock stuff and we also like what’s going on now. I think we have a good balance of the two, which allows everyone to really get into the music.”

Surpassing the band’s CMJ expectations, the early Tuesday set time didn’t seem to deter concertgoers. “It’s pretty cool to know that we can get a good group of people out at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night and they’re acting like its 11 p.m. on a Saturday; dancing, screaming, singing along. It was a good feeling,” says Mignano.

With hundreds of bands performing throughout the week, the Canon Logic continues to set themselves apart. “I think something that we do, which is the toughest aspect of our music, is having five people singing while also being able to handle the rock attitude,” Kiely says. “I don’t see many bands do it. I don’t know if I’ve seen a band do it and pull it off well. We’re really confident in what we’ve got going and I think that’s what separates us. And we’ve got great songs.”

If one thing is certain, a Canon Logic show won’t leave you bored. “You can expect a little bit of everything; some dancing, some singing along. We have a lot of songs that our fans come to shows to see and they’ve been learning the lyrics; they’re really easy to sing along to so they really enjoy getting into the songs and dancing and also head banging and rocking out,” Greenfield says.

Be sure to check out the Canon Logic’s MySpace and Blog for more info about their next record and catch their next show Nov. 8 at Maxwell’s in Hoboken! Check back in few days for more of my interview with the guys of the Canon Logic.

To read this live review, originally posted on the UWire click here.


CMJ Update

It’s the day before the big CMJ Music Festival and I’m finishing transcribing yet another interview for the preview as well as trying to prepare some more interview questions for a bunch of the bands I’ll be speaking with later this week. The craziness begins!

Below are my latest two posts on the CMJ blog. Feel free to read and leave comments! You can read snippets from my interview with The Duke Spirit here and for my preview on UK-based band Passenger, click here. I’m hoping to catch each of these acts throughout the week, so stay tuned for my concert reviews.

Tomorrow I’ll be celebrating the CMJ kickoff with a bunch of the UWire bloggers and heading to three (hopefully? if I make it to each) performances. We’ll see how it goes. Tomorrow is another celebration — You Sing, I Write’s one-year anniversary! But more on that tomorrow. Back to work!


CMJ Music Marathon Preview

This weekend I’ve spent trying to relax as much as I can while finalizing my CMJ schedule without feeling overwhelmed. There are just SO many great bands to see this week, (check out the line-up here) — many sets are overlapping too, so we’ll see how many performances I can make

I’ll be covering the CMJ Festival for the UWire. You can check out the UWire blog here. Two of my previews have already been posted so feel free to read my previews on Josh Charles here and Lights Resolve here. While I can’t make any promises on how much I’ll be updating my own blog this week, check out the UWire blog for the most recent posts on what’s going down at the festival!

And for all of you that have no clue what CMJ stands for (College Music Journal) or what the heck I’m talking about, check out Time Out New York‘s appropriately titled article, CMJ for dummies.

Here’s a few of the questions answered in the article that everyone has been asking me:

What the hell is CMJ?

Before there was alt rock, there was so-called college (i.e., -radio) rock, a scene that nurtured R.E.M. and countless other future stars of the postpunk, pregrunge era. The initial intent of both CMJ and the NYC fest was to clue the music industry in to the burgeoning impact of college radio. “It began purely as a business convention and accidentally turned into a very large music festival for fans,” says Haber.

Hundreds of bands and thousands of hangers-on descend upon local venues over a period of five days. Panels and a film fest add to the general mayhem.

How do I get into the shows?
You can buy a supposedly all-access badge, wait in line for hours and still get turned away. Haber looks at it this way: “As much as people want to see the big acts, go under the hood a little bit and look at the clubs that you really can get into.”

If you think that a show will be mobbed, it probably will be; it’s best to map out a few alternatives. (See “If at first you don’t succeed…,” page 143, for our suggestions.)

Do I need one of those $495 badges?

Few shows are badge-only. Each club determines its admissions ratio of badge holders and walk-up or advance-ticket customers. “We go to the clubs, try to assess the previous year’s failures and come up with a matrix which makes sense for them,” says Haber.

It’s your money.

Festivals Interviews

The Duke Spirit

Gracing Rolling Stone‘s Breaking Artists blog as well as being part of many summer festival line-ups, U.K. band the Duke Spirit is getting quite some attention as of late. With catchy choruses provided by singer Liela Moss and solid musical accompaniment backed by the rest of the band, the Duke Spirit is definitely a band to check out. Their MySpace is worth a listen and to watch two music videos from their latest album, click here. Read below for my email interview with bassist Toby Butler, who talked about their sophomore album, Neptune, their writing process and why you should give the Duke Spirit a listen.

How do you keep your songs sounding new and fun from track to track?
Our producer Chris Goss was really instrumental in helping us give each song a personality. I think it’s important not to get stuck in a regimented way of approaching things. It’s good to try new things as much as you can, to spread your wings. We’d use lots of weird instruments and sounds on each song to give them a less formal ‘rock’ sound. Guild the lily.

Did you go into the studio with a certain concept for this album?
Not really. We went into the studio with a bunch of songs, and we chose the album with Goss from them. I guess the concept was more the sound we wanted. We went to Goss because we love the way the records he makes sound. Heavy yet delicate.

Having already had the experience of recording your debut album, do you feel the process went more smoothly or was entirely different?
It was a whole lot different. We are now much more confident and open minded about making music. We were pretty inexperienced when we made that first album. I love the way it sounds, but in retrospect there are things I would have been more conscious of and things I would have done differently. Making Neptune was a much more fun and creative process, that was more a product of what is in our heads.

I love the song “Dog Roses.” Does that have timpani in the background? It just has such a deep, dark feel to the song. What was the inspiration behind the song?
We recorded that song back to front. It was probably the most fun and openly approached song to record. We laid down an acoustic guitar track and just weaved everything else into it. Just four mics on the drum kit. I don’t think it was a timpani, I think it’s a de-tuned floor tom with loads of reverb on it.

What’s the typical writing process for you like?
We demo whilst we write. If one of us has an idea for a song, then we record it in our little studio in London. Melodies and lyrics generally come after we have some kind of musical structure, or verse and chorus at least.

When I first heard “I Do Believe” the intro to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” came to mind. Did that occur to you at all when you were recording the song?
Ha ha. Well we’re all fans of Queen! It wasn’t the inspiration for it, no. It was something Liela came up with that we thought would be great as an intro for the album.

Do you have a favorite track on the album? If so, why that track?
This Ship Was Built to Last” is a favourite. I love the big rolling sound it has. I wanted it to have sound like a huge ship pounding through massive waves. That’s how it makes me feel. I love playing it live.

What makes the Duke Spirit stand out as a band? Why should people check you out as opposed to other bands out there?
We make interesting, intelligent, psychedelic, heavy, delicate, rock and roll music that makes you wanna bang your head and shake your ass!

If that wasn’t enough of the Duke Spirit for you, be sure to check out Rolling Stone‘s feature on them, with two live performances and a brief interview and if you like what you hear, catch a show when they’re in town!