Concert Reviews

Afrobeat, Indie and Rock Unite at Maxwell’s

Photo Credit: Jose Podesta

A recent Thursday at Maxwell’s brought music fans together for a diverse night of music. Whether you’re interested in folk, indie, or Afrobeat, there was something for everyone. For a little more than three hours, concertgoers walked into the venue, not entirely sure what to expect and left being a fan of at least one new band.

From the moment Gold Motel took the stage, the audience was captivated. The band features Greta Morgan of The Hush Sound as lead vocalist and members of This Is Me Smiling. Playing solid rock & roll, Gold Motel’s energy and music recall that of The Kinks and Beach Boys. With their killer guitar sound combined with fitting harmonies and airy lead vocals, the band quickly livened up the venue and drew fans close to the stage.

For my complete review on Givers, Gold Motel and Family of the Year’s set on Hoboken Patch, click here.

Concert Reviews

Joseph Arthur Paints And Sings His Way into Fans’ Hearts

As he took the stage shortly after 10:30 p.m., Joseph Arthur searched for sharpened pencils and clean paintbrushes to begin his set.

“Where’s my broom?” he asked.

“Just use your sock!” a fan close to the stage shouted. To which Arthur replied, “I don’t want to use my sock. Come on! This is a professional show. What should we play?”

I covered Joseph Arthur’s set a few weeks ago for Hoboken Patch and was truly impressed. You can read my complete review here for more on the singer-songwriter-artist and his stripped-down set.

Concert Reviews

Jupiter One Impress At Maxwell’s

Performing just over an hour, Jupiter One filled the room with their catchy indie-pop choruses and energetic stage presence. Bearing resemblance to British rockers Muse, it is easy to picture this band in a bigger arena setting. It comes as no wonder, then that Jupiter One will open for Regina Spektor on her upcoming Australian tour.

For the complete live review of Friday’s performance, click here.

Concert Reviews

Singer-Songwriters Jason Reeves and Tyrone Wells Entertain Crowd with Intimate Tales and Stellar Performances in Hoboken

Despite the holiday weekend, concertgoers flocked to Maxwell’s Saturday for an intimate night of music. While it’s uncertain who the main draw of the night was — Jason Reeves or Tyrone Wells — it is evident that at the end of the night, all walked away fans of both performers.

Jason Reeves took the stage shortly after 7 p.m. with ballad, “Pretty Eyes.” Since the release of his album, The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache (and other frightening tales…) last month, I’ve been awaiting his local performance and he didn’t disappoint. His album has that acoustic singer-songwriter feel, but in person the musical accompaniment is much richer. Between acoustic, electric and bass guitars, as well as keyboard and light percussion features, the backing band only accentuated Reeves’ vocals during their nearly 40-minute set. Additionally, his onstage banter with the audience brought each song to life.

Before introducing second song of the set, “You In A Song,” Reeves told the crowd, “Don’t be afraid to sing along if you know the words. And if you don’t, make up the words, I won’t be able to tell.” Definitely livelier than the album version, Reeves’ band had many in attendance bobbing their heads and singing along throughout his set.

(To listen to “You In A Song, “for Windows click here, for Quicktime click here.)

“Anybody here from New Hampshire?” Reeves asked the room to which one fan yelled, “I’m from Toronto, Canada!” Before playing, “New Hampshire,” Reeves joked with the fan, saying, “Toronto is pretend New Hampshire in this next song.” With intriguing keyboard effects, the song was solid and had many intently watching the stage throughout additional drum and guitar interludes. Highlight of the song was when Reeves alternated from acoustic to electric guitar, awing the crowd with his prowess as he played. Screams could be heard from the audience and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what it was like seeing John Mayer play before he began selling out stadiums. Definitely an artist to watch; I’m curious to see where Jason Reeves will be in a few years.

The rest of his set was solid and a bit reminiscent to story-time as Reeves told the crowd the meaning behind his next few heartbreaking songs. “This song is about my two least favorite words ever, especially when they’re put in a sentence together,” Reeves said. “If you’re breaking up with someone, whatever you do, don’t tell them that you want to be just friends because that’s bullshit,” he continued before introducing next track, aptly titled, “Just Friends.” Seeing him perform this song live, the listener felt the tension and anger more than listening to the album could ever get across.

Soon after, Jason and his band began singing the first few verses of “Reaching” a capella before his two band members exited the stage, leaving him to end the night onstage solo. His voice blending well with his guitar, Reeves walked away from the microphone to sing a few lines to the crowd. An intimate gesture, the room grew silent to hear him clearly.

Introducing last song of the night, “Gasoline,” Reeves told the crowd, “I’m not a mean and evil person, but sometimes people do something so messed up that you can’t help but get them back. For me, the best way to get back was to write a song about them,” he said before continuing his tale. “When you sleep with your boyfriend’s best friend, I don’t understand what else you’re supposed to do,” he said to a shocked crowd. “This is the super mellow version of the song. It’s no less angry.” Playing onstage alone, you could hear the angst in Reeves’ lyrics and guitar accompaniment. Most definitely the edgiest song of the night, words like, “She’s covering my heart with gasoline/I’m going down much faster than anything I’ve ever seen/Gasoline/She’s a heartless bitch, telling me to keep my mouth clean” told the story in itself.

Tyrone Wells followed Reeves’ set and proved to be just as good a storyteller. Wells’ nearly hour-long set impressed, as he had many in attendance singing along to fan favorites including, “Falling,” “Dream Like New York” and “Baby Don’t You Change.” In addition, Wells surprised the crowd by beat boxing. “Hoboken is bringing the old school out in me,” he told the crowd. “That was a turn table in case you were wondering.”

Reeves re-entered the stage, accompanying Wells on “Give Me One Reason,” a song they co-wrote together. By the end of the night, Maxwell’s was buzzing with excitement as lucky concertgoers stuck around to meet and chat with each artist. On tour until the end of the month, Reeves and Wells show no signs of slowing down.

Watch the video of Jason and Tyrone playing “Give Me One Reason” below.


You can read this review on Filter also. Be sure to check out both Jason Reeves and Tyrone Wells on MySpace. If you haven’t yet, you can read my interview with Jason from a few months ago here.

Special thanks to Deana Koulosousas for the great live shots of the show Saturday night!

Concert Reviews

Priscilla Ahn Keeps Concertgoers Intrigued with Quirky Stories and Unique Instruments

With a glass of red wine in one hand and guitar in the other, Priscilla Ahn had the audience at Maxwell’s laughing along during each song introduction Friday night. Whether it was explaining uncomfortable social situations at L.A. house parties in “Wallflower” or prefacing “The Boob Song” by telling the audience, “It’s not about my boobs, don’t worry; it’s about another girl’s boobs,” Priscilla’s hilarious onstage banter heightened curiosity throughout her mellow and relaxing set.

The night included many songs from Priscilla’s recent debut album, A Good Day, as well as a solid cover of Willie Nelson’s “Opportunity to Cry” and some unreleased material. Strong instrumental accompaniment never overpowered her soft, angelic vocals and at times she even harmonized with herself with the help of a loop pedal. Definitely a diverse set, Priscilla’s band was made up of cellist Oli Kraus and bass player Gus Seyfrett, better known as Willoughby, who opened the show, as well as herself on guitar, harmonica, ukulele and kazoo.

Having just over an hour set in Hoboken, Priscilla started off the night with stand-out track “Dream,” which has garnered much attention from being featured on the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, it only makes sense that many of her songs were linked to nature. She even told the crowd, “It’s always been a dream of mine to live in a tree. I always thought it’d be cool. Some people do it, and that’s cool,” before segueing into a song with the appropriate title, “Living in a Tree.”

Priscilla’s voice is so captivating, it felt as if she was singing a lullaby to the room during her slower songs. The crowd was so still and mesmerized that at times the only sound heard besides the musicians onstage was the click of cameras capturing her performance. While some songs were pretty mellow, others, such as “I Don’t Think So” were a bit more edgy, Priscilla referring to it as her “sassy” song with deeper and darker vocals and a fitting harmonica feature.

Her quirky introductions followed suit with her unique lyrics to each song. On “Astronaut,” a song with musical accompaniment reminiscent to a carnival, she sang “The fish in the sea have many things to tell me/Well what could they be?/I’ll never know/I had to go/Because I don’t associate with fish.” Laughter quickly filled the room.

Last song of her set was low-key “Find My Way Back Home” featuring Priscilla on ukulele. Sounding somewhat like being at a Hawaiian luau with a mix of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” Priscilla ended the night on a high note. Soon to be joining Willie Nelson on his tour, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect fit.

For more on Priscilla, be sure to check her out on MySpace and if you haven’t yet, you can read an interview I had with her a few months ago by clicking here.

Special thanks to Deana Koulosousas for taking the photos from Friday’s show.

Concert Reviews

The Ataris’ “Blue Skies, Broken Hearts” Acoustic Tour Hits New Jersey

Marking almost the ninth-year anniversary of the release of album Blue Skies, Broken Hearts . . . Next 12 Exits, frontman Kris Roe of the Ataris has embarked on a massive tour playing the album in it’s entirety as well as fan favorites from previous albums. Having recently finished up touring the West Coast, Kris is touring everywhere from New Jersey down to Florida back Midwest to Michigan and Illinois before traveling to South America and Japan.

His almost one-hour set began at 11:30 p.m. with first track on the album, “Losing Streak.” “This is a sing along show so I hope you all sing along,” Roe told the audience at Maxwell’s in Hoboken Friday night.

I’ve been to many concerts over the years, but none quite like Roe’s acoustic set Friday. He had practically every person in the room singing along word for word to each song played that night, something I’ve never witnessed at a concert before. Granted, those in attendance seemed to be die-hard fans, making up the standing-room only crowd. With such a good crowd, for hit “So Long, Astoria” off of the album of the same name, Roe got off the stage and walked into the crowd while playing the song on guitar. Instead of singing it himself on stage with his microphone, he let the audience take over singing the song. Possibly the highlight of the night, those in attendance demonstrated that the Ataris’ fans are far from extinct.

Playing a 17-song set, Roe had so much energy and you could truly tell that he was having just as much fun as his fans in the audience, joking along with them and playing any song they screamed out to him. Crowd favorite seemed to be “San Dimas High School Football Rules,” as loud screams from the audience could be heard when he started playing the first chord of the song. A solid guitar sound, Roe helped peak the crowd’s energy.

Afterwards he told the audience, “This is a really sappy album I wrote 11 years ago,” before beginning song, “I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone.” With classic lyrics like, “The things you make me wanna do/I’d rob a quick-e-mart for you/I’d go to the pound and let all the cats go free/Just as long as you’d be with me” he got the point across. Roe sang part of the chorus, then told the crowd, “Alright now, just you guys. Ready? Sing aloud” as all in Maxwell’s sung in unison “I won’t spend another night alone.”

He introduced the next track, “The Last Song I Will Ever Write About A Girl” as being “a complete fuckin’ lie, which I’m sure you all realized by now.” He ended the song explaining that he was 19 and angry when he originally wrote it. “Broken Promise Ring” Roe wrote when he was 14, while joking to the audience, “If it sucks don’t blame me.”

Roe explained that many of the songs he’s been performing on this tour from the album, Blue Skies, Broken Hearts . . . Next 12 Exits have never been performed live before, like last song on the album, “In Spite of the World.”

The last few songs played were from previous albums. He played “I.O.U. One Galaxy” as well as “In This Diary,” “So Long Astoria” and last song of the night, “Summer Wind Was Always Our Song.” Roe’s solid guitar and vocals throughout the night blew me away and sounded even better than on his albums, a feat not many musicians can accomplish.

Half of D.C. based band Army of Me opened the night with a 40-minute acoustic set with frontman Vince Scheuerman alternating between guitar and piano and Brad Tursi on guitar. They played nine songs, mostly off their debut album, Citizen.

“Meet You at the Mouth” opened the night with strong vocals and guitar while second song of the night, “Saved Your Life” slowed down their set a bit. Vince and Brad played to a packed room, combining solid vocals and guitar features throughout their set.

In addition to songs from their latest album, they covered a song by Detroit-based singer Brendan Benson as well as played a new song of their own. Before playing piano-based song, “Better Run,” Vince explained that while Army of Me is a rock band, they recently started playing piano at their gigs. Vince started out the song solo on piano while Brad accompanied him with light guitar picking soon after. Army of Me had the audience helping out with their next song, a new one for the guys, clapping along to keep the beat of the song. Brad kept telling the audience, “This is a rock song, you guys are the rock.”

Vince explained their second to last song, “2 into 1” as being “a song about unity and love” and then ended their set solidly with emotional song, “Rise” a little after 11 p.m.

Be sure to catch Kris Roe on the rest of his “Blue Skies, Broken Hearts” acoustic tour. Check his MySpace for future tour dates.
For more on Army of Me check out their website.

Concert Reviews

New Jersey Welcomes Brooklyn-based Band, Hello Tokyo

Many people often forget about the New Jersey music scene being that New York is a train, bus, ferry or car ride away. Sure we have the greats – Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi and you can’t forget Frank Sinatra was born here also. Indie-band Thursday as well as current teen pop sensation the Jonas Brothers are all Jersey natives too. Even Jimmy Eat World sings “I’m a New Jersey success story” in one of their songs, “Big Casino” from latest album, Chasing This Light, despite being from Arizona.

Often, it’s not just these bands, but the venues that encompass New Jersey that makes for a great place to discover new bands. Starland Ballroom in Sayreville always has a great, for the most part extremely eclectic, tour line-up. Even Rutgers in New Brunswick puts on good shows, both on campus and at The State Theater on George Street. And then you can’t forget about Giants Stadium which hosts the Bamboozle Festival in May, the many concerts that go on at Continental Airlines Arena or even down in Asbury Park.

Hoboken is also a great live-music spot, especially Maxwell’s, where I was Friday night covering Brooklyn-based band Hello Tokyo. Although they may be based in Brooklyn, lead singer Kat is herself a Jersey girl. She told the crowd Friday that she was born in Hackensack and grew up in Wayne. And boy does this Jersey girl know how to sing.

Hello Tokyo is definitely a band to be on the look-out for. Their music has been featured on various MTV shows and they were a part of Fashion Fights Poverty’s 2007 Dress Responsibly Look Book. The female fronted power pop band is an eclectic mix of pop, rock and even dance music, or rather just music that makes you want to dance.

Having been working on their first full-length album, Sell The Stars, due out later this year, their performance Friday night gave a glimpse to what can be expected. While Kat fronted the band on vocals and keyboard, the rest of the band – including Sam on drums, John on guitar and guest performer Michael on bass – greatly accentuated her singing style.

I’m not sure how to best accurately describe their music style to be honest. It’s a mix of many different flavors and styles which definitely helps Hello Tokyo’s live performance and credibility. For more of an idea of their style, check out their MySpace and decide for yourself. And let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Hello Tokyo played a 40 minute set featuring 10 songs on Friday. While I recognized a few from their MySpace page, such as “The Affair” and “Run To You,” others were a pleasant surprise, like “I Spy” and “Alert the Authority,” which Kat told the audience is a song about living in New York City. You could definitely sense the New York City lifestyle with the fast beat throughout the song as well as when she starts whispering during the song, slowing down the beat and then picking the tempo right back up again. Lyrics such as, “You’ll never save me because I won’t ask you to” definitely gets the independent New Yorker lifestyle across. This song encompasses strong singing on Kat’s part and strong guitar features as well. Hello Tokyo definitely has the blending between singer, drummer and guitarists well polished.

While “Rain or Shine” might have had the best guitar sound of the set, the keyboard feature in the song slowed the night down for a bit, but Kat was able to quickly pick it right back up and continue through the rest of the song. A few of the songs played had longer intros, featuring Kat on keyboard while the rest of the band jammed in the background.

My favorite of the night was “Radio,” which Hello Tokyo closed with. This song, by far, had the most energy of the night and got many in attendance dancing along or tapping their feet and bobbing their heads to the music. You can check out their video for this song on YouTube.

Stay tuned for a complete interview with Kat from Hello Tokyo later this week.